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D&D 3E
DMing players with high level spells 
2nd-Aug-2005 01:52 am
Gamer chick.
What do you DM's think of Teleport? I think that spell more than most others (except for perhaps some divination spells) are "campaign breakers." Makes it hard keep things challenging/mysterious... then again, I've never really DMed players above 12th-ish lvl, so, this is new territory for me.

Anyone have tips on how to DM characters with higher level spells without restricting their use of them?
2nd-Aug-2005 07:12 am (UTC)
They generally can't teleport into what they can't see or scry. A villain worth his salt will come up with a way to foil that kind of thing.

Other than the obvious hazards of teleportation, I don't see a problem with it. If the players want to hop around the map, that's one of the perks of higher levels, as far as I am concerned.

Players in my campaigns know, though, that they will sometimes stumble over cool things and have a lot of fun travelling. So unless they are in a hurry, they generally go exploring while getting to where they are going. But you honestly have to set that precedent from early on. I had a group who thought teleport was cool until they realized that they weren't discovering nearly as many cool things to do.
2nd-Aug-2005 09:56 am (UTC)
Teleport really isn't a campaign breaker at all-- it's an excellent spell to get the players travelling in an epic way, and you'll probably find your villians use it to escape more often than the players ever will. What you'll have to watch out for is a clever combination of scry+teleport, but even that can be used to your advantage. (Eventually players will figure out to scry on an unaware villian, and then teleport the party in on top of him).
Just have smart villians realize that they'll need anti-scrying measures.

How to DM characters with higher level spells? my philosophy is fairly simple: put the heroes into action situations where they will need to use those spells to survive. This could be environmental (aerial battles at at high altitude,or in places with no air, inside an active volcano, underwater) or because of dangerous enemies or whatever. And allow the heroes to use their abilities to bypass your stuff if they do it cleverly or boldly.
2nd-Aug-2005 10:14 am (UTC)
In high-level campaigns, if something is happening at all there should always be so much going on at the same time that the PCs should be forced to use all their resources to cope with them.

This isn't really a matter of Challenge Ratings, but of time. For example, if the PCs are fighting against a large cult, they can probably deal with most cult members on either an individual basis or in small groups.

But what if they learn that tomorrow, lots of cult cells will strike at strategic targets all over the city - or all over the country? How many cells can they stop before it is all over? They might need to split up, but how do they then coordinate things with each other?

Don't threaten the PCs directly all the time, as that strains suspension of disbelief. Instead, let them try to stop someone who is after someone else - another person, organization, or country. Then it becomes a running battle of wits - whoever uses their resources and abilities best wins.

And for running high-powered fantasy games in general, I recommend the RPG "Exalted", by White Wolf. The PCs in that game already start with the power to wipe out small army groups on their own, and the game gets epic very, very quickly - soon they will be able to beat up most gods in the setting (though admittedly there are millions of those...). Reading through it (and its supplements) will put you in the right frame of mind for high-level D&D games.
2nd-Aug-2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
Good ideas, thanks.
2nd-Aug-2005 01:46 pm (UTC)
Hey, I dunno if they kept it in 3.5, but 3.0 had a simple spell, Dimensional Anchor. Its an easy spell it it prevents any kind of teleportation.

Also Teleport can be annoying because it does allow characters to escape a clever trap or a puzzle. I can't tell you how many times I had a clever floor trap/puzzle that was circumvented by the dimension door or teleport spell.

As for high level spells...the trick for a DM is to challange the players. So you have to sutome tailor things to the players. this gets difficult as their level rises as there are less and less ways to challange them. The main goal of a DM is keep an eye out for what they use. If they use alot of teleportation spells then throw a few Dimensional Anchors in for kicks. Or prevent them from using teleport by sperating the group. One spell which has annoyed a DM to no end it Blindess. A range spell that can pretty much make a monster useless in one round. What did I do...blind sight works wonders on alot of creatures.

Now the goal here is not to NERF them but to make them more then a one shot pony. I cant stand when a wizard has 100's of spells he can shoose from and all he does is use the same spell over and over and over again. It gets boring for me as a DM so I make sure they keep thinking twice before they choose lightning bolt 6 times.

Example: Had a group and a wizard took Energy Sub: Sonic as a feat. Now thats all he used was sonic damage here and sonic damage there. Mind you not many creatures are immune or even Energy Reduction to sonic. So I created a Template for sonic type monsters. He started saying I was unfair to do so but it made him think twice before he put the Sonic Discriptor on all of his spells. I forced him to change tactics.
2nd-Aug-2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I think that was unfair. He decided to play a character who used "sonic magic" or what not. Something thats quite rare if you ask me. I've never really seen that tactic exploited at all. And you went out of your way to nerf him.

You shouldnt have made a whole template to throw against him like that. But having smarter villans start using protection spells, or throwing the occasional existing sonic monster back against him would have been fine.

I really dont know what happened in your game but what I see is "My player took a feat that lets him get around the weaknesses of all the monsters so i made a template to screw him."

2nd-Aug-2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
Yes and all he did was use that feat. Nothing else mind you but that feat.

It's not like I used Sonic Resistant Creatures every game but it gave him something to think about the next time he decided to choose spells.

It's not nerfing or screwing the person its challanging them. Thats quite different. Now if all I did was throw this template at them Sure... thats screwing them. However using this template once every 3 games made them stay on their toes and didnt have them resort to same thing over and over and over.
3rd-Aug-2005 12:19 am (UTC)
Beats the hell out of Destrachans and Yrthaks coming out of the walls
2nd-Aug-2005 02:13 pm (UTC)
In terms of teleport specifically: learn to embrace it. It is NOT a "game breaker" but a game enabler. Now your PCs can travel directly to the next plot-point without having to futz around for a few weeks! They can meet in their Fortress of Awesomeness, discuss their next move, and then go DO IT. Always wanted to do a desert adventure but your PCs were way the heck away from such a place? Wham, teleport is your friend.

Also, take a leaf from Harry Potter. Remember Hogwarts? Remember how often Hermione shouts about it being impossible to Apparate (read: teleport) on school grounds? In a setting where teleport is a spell any wizard of 9th level or higher can cast, why wouldn't people regularly ward their citadels/temples/cities against it? In my setting I had certain areas warded unless the person teleporting had a "key" (could be an amulet, a freshly-killed chicken, whatever) on their person - including all major castles and certainly all wizard towers. Of course, if the NPCs can do that, you should probably let the PCs ward their Home Base the same way (but don't be afraid to make it difficult and expensive).

In terms of High Level Spells in general: anything the PCs can do, the NPCs can do. Do you really think Volavevicas the Dark Liche of Doom doesn't know the scry/teleport trick? How about wish "I wish my enemies, herein named, were stripped naked and placed here before me, alone save each other, myself, and my numerous minions with sharp pointy things."
2nd-Aug-2005 02:45 pm (UTC)
that gives a great idea for majikal traps . Make a place where the pc's have to teleport in and have it trapped so it bounces them to some unknown region or plain so they have to figure out where they are before they can teleport home
2nd-Aug-2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
Ah, now that is the pov I've been looking for. Thank you, there were some good ideas and such here.

And wish, oi, I don't even want to think about having to worry about that spell... *nosebleed*
3rd-Aug-2005 01:05 am (UTC)
Same thing with Silverymoon from FR.
2nd-Aug-2005 02:51 pm (UTC)
in general, if your Pc's can do it - so can the villians. They npc can teleport his death squad right to the pc's in the middle of the night too. And teleport doesn't ruin games it makles them more epic and world spanning. You can, in one adventure got to jungle temples, artic fortress's of solitude, and desert oasis's. So you can build adventures where the rod of mojo has been split into 4 parts, and the pc's teleport to the 4 corners of the world and so on.

2nd-Aug-2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
Having played a high level wizard, I have to agree with those players who are urging you to embrace those effects rather than eliminate them. Teleport is only one of many high-level effects which transform your game, including Scry, Sending, and the powerful divination spells. (You want to talk about something that eliminates mystery!)

Take the advice in the DMG and Epic Level Handbook, and design adventures that -require- the use of these high level effects. After all, it's really not much different than the appearance of "Fly" for 5th level wizards. Suddenly, your players can avoid all kinds of dangers that they used to have to slog through. Rather than taking away those special powers that the PCs covet (and thus taking away their fun), test them to the limit by putting them in tougher and tougher situations.

Eventually you will get to the point where you no longer have to figure out the way past the obstacles you create. Your players have so many spells, powers, and other resources at their command that they can get past anything you throw at them, it's just a matter of time. So let them work their creativity while you focus on stufff like story.
2nd-Aug-2005 07:44 pm (UTC)
Mm, I think several people misunderstood. My point was, I DON'T want to eliminate those powers, I want my players to be able to exploit their powers to the best of their abilities. All I was saying was I don't know how to DM a campaign and still make it challenging... like I said, it's new territory for me.

And you made some good points, they helped, thanks.
2nd-Aug-2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
the people below have lots of great advice but there is also one other way to look at this. the rp aspect

Wizards, well most wizards anyway, should be looking at magic as a limited resource. They can only do so much in a given day. Does your player want to use his spell slot on teleport to go directly into an encounter when that spell slot may be needed for something else?

Making the players think and use tactics will make the players police themselves on their use of such spells.

For example. If they REALLY needed to TP directly to some area or encounter, they might use a scroll instead. Which saves the wizard his slot to use on something else.

Or they might TP a days walk away, which still gives room for explortaion adventure.

Everyone is right however. One of the funnest things about D&D is reaching higher levels and trying these spells. If you take that out, whats the point of ever playing higher then low level?
2nd-Aug-2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
I don't want to take that out, hence this thread. I'm trying to find ways to keep things interesting while letting my PC's go nuts. ;)
2nd-Aug-2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
And you made a good point about having to choose spells. I got to thinking about that as I was reading the comments of this thread...
2nd-Aug-2005 03:48 pm (UTC)
The party probably won't be able to fit in a single teleport initially, so they'll have to shuttle around or use other spells. I'm a little stingy when it comes to "familiar" locations, etc, and my players have a gift for rolling weirdly. Make them roll every time they teleport, and if they have an error try to come up with an interesting (if annoying) diversion. Things can be especially interesting if they're out of spells, and they end up in a thematically "similar" location (Westgate instead of Waterdeep, for instance.)

Figure out how you think the mechanics of teleport work, and keep an eye out for environmental issues that would interfere, even if they aren't listed in the PHB. IMC, teleport involves near-instantaneous travel through the Astral plane. PCs who rolled badly or picked the wrong area to teleport through have been dumped miles out to sea (and fortunately could swim until the next teleport), been sucked into the Astral plane, or had to trudge for days through the outskirts of an anti-magical giant fungus.

I really like that there isn't the chance of teleporting into solid rock anymore, because the chance of pointless death is just not appealing. Still, as long as teleport

With regards to the party teleporting into the enemy after scrying - it can be mitigated, but it's a legitimate tactic. IMC, the players fought three dragons and killed two. After taking a break for a few days to get the cleric raised, they scryed the third dragon (who blew his save) and decided to teleport in. I raised two complications:

1) They only had a 10' radius around the point they were scrying, which severely limited where they could teleport.
2) The dragon was curled up in a cave, and could only be approached from one side. He was lying low and healing up.
3) The two mages realized they couldn't teleport in on the same round, because they might teleport into each other. (If the magical 'check for clear space' happens, then the teleports happen... think of it as a magical race condition.)

So, they came in two waves, and there was the chance that half the party would miss the fight. The mages rolled well, the first group moved out of the way, and the party defeated the dragon easily. They were fully prepped and had a plan. Good tactics on their part, IMO.
2nd-Aug-2005 05:26 pm (UTC)
If your party is more than a few people, Teleport is difficult to use. I believe it has a 500 pound limit? This is really only enough for 3 people at most.

However, my party was able to get around this in a pretty nifty way. Our druid would cast 'Flock', turning the entire party of 6, plus pets, Wizard excluded, into birds. The birds would sit on the Wizards head, and *poof*, teleport loophole. It also create some highly humorous moments.
2nd-Aug-2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
Man...I would never let my party sit on -my- head. They would poop on my Headband of Intellect.
12th-Aug-2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
During my adult life as an occasional DM, I have never minded magic spells. Of course, higher level adversaries realise they are in a world where magic works, taking security measures into account.

In a world where technology exists, how does a wealthy, powerful person with a personal militia (or armed security team) protect themselves?
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