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D&D 3E
The D&D GM Tip Thread 
20th-Apr-2005 04:25 pm
vulpix
Here's the idea: we each post one tip, trick, or suggestion for running a good D&D game. It can be an adventure hook, a house rule, a tip for dealing with unruly players, a fun encounter to run, anything you like.



For a low-mid-level party, put a spellcasting bad guy on top of a long staircase. (I used a step-pyramid with only one easy route up). Make him big on Summon Monster Of Appropriate Level spells, and/or speckle the staircase with low-level goons. Climbing stairs costs double movement (house-ruled on the spot), so the PCs are slowed to a veritable crawl as they cut their way up the stairs, hustling before his direct-damage spells start dropping people.
I also put a big burning brazier up at the top of the pyramid, something for him to hide behind (giving him Concealment) while he cast summon spells, but I think that part's optional.

This worked suprisingly well for me. The PCs made it to the top at low hit points, the sorceror started desperately hurling damage spells, PCs started falling over, and then they finally pinned him into melee and tore him apart. Much fun was had by all.



Anyone else got any tips?
Comments 
20th-Apr-2005 10:38 pm (UTC)
Always be able to improvise! If the PCs don't play your way, pick it up and run. Try to weave it back into your original plan if you can, but don't try and railroad them. Worst case scenario, you can come up with a more solid direction in time for your next game.
20th-Apr-2005 10:44 pm (UTC) - A beautiful day in the neighborhood
That is a cool set up, thanks.
20th-Apr-2005 10:47 pm (UTC)
first off, you would need a copy of your players' stats...These cards from the Game Mechanics work great for this.

now armed with these, it makes it much easier to get secret rollsfrom your players...even the rolls that are totally unnecessary

as an example... in the middle of a cavern system, in a place that looks great for an ambush (even though you know there's nothing there att he moment) ask a player(or all of them) for a d20 roll...then look at the cards... make thinking noises ("Hmmm....ok, I see...") maybe roll some dice yourself for no reason than to make dice rolling noises...then look up, and continue where you left off...leaving them to wonder what it is or was that didn't happen...or might be about to happen...

just remember to use sparingly otherwise they might catch on...
20th-Apr-2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
I had a problem sometimes with indecisive players. When their turn in combat came they'd hem and haw about th best action to take or who to help. If somebody's giving me that kinda slow down in a combat scene I'll look at my watch and say "30 seconds!" Usually gets me an answer within 2.
20th-Apr-2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
You're generous. I usually only give people 10 seconds (which was the length of a combat round in 2e).
21st-Apr-2005 06:26 pm (UTC)
I make the party do spot rolls anytime they enter a new room, even if there's nothing interesting, to prevent them from metagaming. (Ie, if they only roll when something interesting is around, they will know it, even if no one rolls high enough).

For each room, I make a short list of spot checks:
5 - Big square room
10 - Walls of quarried stone, stone doors to the north and south
15 - chain cuffs dangling over a skeleton propped up against the west wall
20 - a couple extinguished torches rolled into the northwest corner of the room
25 - a dagger under the leg of the skeleton

This way, the party enters the room, I call for spot checks, and describe the room according the the highest spot check. Of course, I don't always make a list as long as the example... but I usually try to include at least a couple levels of detail.

If the party is rolling badly and are not good at spotting, then "You enter a big square room." If the party has an elf scout whith a great spot roll (25+), then they will get a detailed description, notice the torches and dagger, exits, etc.

If there are bad guys in the room, I will pre-roll hide checks and include those in the list.
28th-Apr-2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
That strikes me as labor intensive, but not a bad idea.

On a tangential note: I sometimes just have one character (with the highest bonus) make a spot check for the whole party, the reasoning being that with six people rolling it's almost impossible to sneak up on anyone. Does anyone else do this?
28th-Apr-2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
Not really labor intensive. I write short spot check lists (as above) instead of room descriptions of any sort. I tend to 'wing it' a lot with this stuff... sometimes I skip the chart and make stuff up based on spot rolls.

As for the one-person spot checks, I think having everyone in the part do a spot check is more fair and more realistic. It is much harder to sneak up on six people than it is to sneak up on one person.

Generally, only one or two people in a group will have a high spot check... you can tailor your encounters based on this. For instance, say there's an elf ranger with a spot of +14, with the next highest party member at +6. This means a hide check DC 27 (reasonable for a character who has put some effort into hiding) cannot be seen by anyone except the elf ranger. A DC of about 26 will give the party a 50% chance of spotting him (I'm estimating here, didn't do the math).

As for enemies that are not particularly skilled at hiding and sneaking, they should not be able to sneak up on a full party unless they are very lucky. Making only one player roll means they get no benefit from being in a group together.

To simplify, along the lines you're suggesting, I always count only the highest roll, and give that to the entire party (so I don't have to figure out who sees what), unless under special circumstances.
28th-Apr-2005 10:43 pm (UTC)
What about a twisted application of "aid another?" +2 to the spot check per PC who rolls better than 10?

... that might actually have the reverse effect from what I'm intending.
29th-Apr-2005 05:07 pm (UTC)
That's not a bad idea. You could end up with some crazy high rolls though. A party of 6 could boost their best 'spotter' by 10 points...

I guess as long as you took that into account when laying out encounters, it could work.
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