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Dungeon Mastering By Dummies

Our campaign thus far...

by NotMousse
Aug 26,2004

 

Dungeon Mastering By Dummies

by NotMousse

I hear the screams already 'Another new column, WTF?!?!', and yes, this column is new. So new in fact that this intro is being written on 8/16 and posted as of today.

I've answered the call from RPG.net, the dozen or so friends that I mentioned it to, and most importantly from the resume that begs me to place something within it aside from my date of birth. I have answered this call for I have enough free time and dedication to parley my gaming experiences to you, my lucky readers!


Our campaign thus far...

Morning comes with a *thump!* The party (as in late nights and drinking) cleric, Thomas, of the sun god, had overslept onto the floor. Meanwhile the errant sorcerer, Jaj, has wandered off the road to find his familiar, only to rediscover the road and the monk Hikaru on her training journey. After some initial drooling Jaj decides he'll accompany Hikaru.

A rookie mistake I'm sure. I simply asked where the players would be, getting the answers 'looking for my familiar' 'training journey' and 'asleep'... That'll teach me to not open with 'you're all in a tavern and...'

While just a haphazard paragraph it took a good hour plus to get through, though I'm sure the initial getting to know the characters added a bit to that time.

Once awake Thomas reports to his superior, which admonished him for his oversleeping (5 occurrences this week, on Tuesday), and ordered him to arrest a small gang of bandits that have been harassing town lately. Being a lone holy symbol man against what was sure to be some fierce combatants Thomas decides to enlist the help of the townspeople.

The townspeople, while hicks, are not entirely stupid so only the village idiot, Ted and a young boy decide to tag along. Thomas accepts Ted and sorely regrets it roughly 100 yards outside the city gates (two trees that happen to be on opposite sides of the road just beyond the last trailer chariot), when he encounters a crudely dug shallow pit. Being an idiot Ted walks right into it, triggering a secondary pit 15' deep, and stubbing his toe on the way down.

Ted is, to put it mildly, an idiot. An idiot among a town of idiots. This does not prevent him from being an important character. I'd love to tell you of all of the multiple page background story he has, of his remarkable attributes, the surprising path he has followed, and the ironic twist which makes the character one of my favorites. But the group's not figured it out yet, so I can't.

The town is known as Rivertucky, a town in name and not much more. A glorified trailer park with some agricultural land farmed by hicks. Given a few hundred years they'd be gun toting, country loving, beer can smashing yokels. But currently they're crossbow toting, country loving, beer mug smashing yokels.

Nearly forgot. Thomas showed a bit of human compassion here by not letting a little boy come into combat with him. While not heroic on it's own, it proved to be the most noble act to pass for the first few weeks.

At this time Hikaru and her idiot come near the town, and she notices Thomas standing over a pit. Jaj is distracted by a shiny rock which he pockets after seeing his companion leave for the hole. Having no rope Thomas goes to the general store, putting the rope on the church's account. While in the pit Thomas discovers an old coffer bearing the mark of the sun god, but seemingly not of his temple.

Jaj for some reason, has a thing for Hikaru. Jaj and Hikaru are played by men. I refuse to comment.

Just after Thomas pulls Ted to the surface, Hikaru hears a group of 5 light horses lead by a heavy warhorse heading their way about a half mile off, while Jaj listens to his rock with undue interest. With Ted rescued and healed the group sets off for the temple. Ted runs off praising Thomas as a hero, getting his standard kicks in the ass for being an idiot.

Interrupting the 'Godfather', Dominicous who hastily stows his intern under his desk, the party, minus Ted, tell him of the oncoming attackers and the mysterious coffer. Opening the coffer with a handy mace Dominicous checks it's contents before placing a new lock upon it and setting it aside.

Yes, jokes about altar boys, priests, interns, and/or major political figures like this one are infantile and reproachable. They're also damn funny so eat me.

Dominicous then orders the trio (and their new sidekick) to stop the bandits. Arriving back at the pit, they discover five horses with their riders stuck within. Hikaru counts the horses only to discover that one is missing. The group turns in time to see a goblin in splint mail wielding a Dwarven waraxe.

While I described it as a pit, the hole in the ground was more of a sink hole. A recent addition the bandits had no idea was there till it was too late. Naturally the majority of them went squish.

Thomas rebukes the goblin, only to have Jaj interest the goblin in his rock, via an errant crossbow bolt. The goblin takes Jaj's rock, attempting to leave. Jaj threatens the goblin with a crossbow as Hikaru trips him. The goblin retaliates with a slash across Thomas' chest. Jaj fires a Magic Missile scorching the goblin's arm hair. Hikaru leaps into the air, her foot laid deeply into the goblin's head, denting the helmet, and flinging him from the horse as she lands in the saddle. Hikaru scores a critical hit! The goblin defeated the two surviving humans awaken, one surrendering as the other flees.

Thomas' player shows a spark of intelligence which would have gotten them by the encounter without a fight, and sped them along towards the plot. I quickly learn this isn't typical. I'm certain by now that he dodges the plot because he likes to see me work my on the fly GMing muscles, or just enjoys screwing with me. I'm not sure.

Jaj's player also sees the plot and the encounter. Without a second thought he chooses the encounter. This is typical of him, but unlike Thomas' player it is not by choice, but because he's 'in character'. The character of a hapless dimwit.

Hikaru's player also sees the plot, attempting to subdue the moron, but to no avail. He tends to go along with whomever leads at the moment, which for the most part means that he too runs from the plot. He also managed to score a critical hit, which I've added a small house rule to.

When a character scores a critical hit, I tell them if the hit would be fatal or not, and allow them to describe what happens. Interesting descriptions like the one above earn a reward, in this case it was a tiny bit of XP, but I later decided on giving out cards instead.

The cards given out were simple playing cards which allow players to add their value to certain actions based on suit. Clubs add to attack or damage rolls, Hearts add to healing or reduce damage, Diamonds add to skill rolls or to treasure obtained, and Spades multiply any roll. Spades are not shuffled back into the deck until someone draws the joker at which point all the cards are reshuffled and distributed back to their owners in equal numbers.

After burying the corpses, thus filling the pit, our group returns to claim a reward with a prisoner and two horses (heavy war horse and a light horse) with them. Ted immediately claims to have slain half the bandits, gaining just enough respect not to get his ass kicked in public for awhile. Fred Joe Billy Bob Yerfburger, the mayor / magistrate / grand high poobah hick, welcomes the trio and invites them to dinner.

Dinner at the Yerfburger's turns out to be a bad idea as Fred has a strange idea of food. Some stew with commode dragon meat and questionable vegetables. Fred gives them all drinks, whiskey, moonshine, and commode dragon brew, which fucks Thomas up, as the others drink very lightly. Afterwards, Thomas was dragged home, and the dynamic duo went to their temporary shelter.

Commode dragons are a homebrew creature, which I created when someone kept annoying me about how cool komodo dragons were. As per the name they live in the sewers of metropolitan areas, feeding on whatever happens to find it's way down there. The meat itself tastes like chicken. Well no, it tastes like spicy shit, but chicken sounds better.

Every source I'd seen with alcohol rules were either insanely complex, lethal, or simply silly. I mean really, what kind of GM would let a night of binge drinking kill one of his PCs? So naturally I made my own. Very simple, just assign a DC to drinks, character's roll a save, and if they fail I ask for what they do, most entertaining result stands.

End session.

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What do you think?

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