Friday, December 30, 2011

When A Session is Boring

I ran an episode of my CotMA game last night.  Six of my seven (or eight) players were present.

They decided to "go deep" -- they have goals on the seventh level -- and they decided to bring the whole crew.  We had 14 PCs and NPCs combined.

You see, back in the beginning, when the characters were exceptionally fragile and instant death was a real possibility, I let everyone play two characters.  Some of them died, but some of the players still have two characters.

In short, when the whole party is together, it is a huge, noisy, Continual Light toting, juggernaut of monster death.

Now, I'm not complaining.  I don't care if they kill my monsters...  I can always make more.  :)  I don't care if they kill my NPCs...  I have more of them too.  (Of course if you kill the bartender in town, that's a legal problem that your big muscles and magic spells might not get you out of...)  They didn't do that, so I digress...

Well, here's the rub.  When they have a big party, combat with monsters on the upper levels is too easy.  It's literally a roll of the dice and the monsters are dead.  I think one or two of the PCs can generate 10+ damage practically by default.

Once again, I'm not complaining about the instant death of my precious monsters -- let them die.

What I am worrying about is how boring or tiresome the upper levels have become.  I have no desire to scale the upper levels to meet the challenge of this überparty.  The upper levels just don't have very many powerful creatures.

It's not appropriate, in my mind, to throw powerful creatures at them on level 2 just because they can handle them.  THOSE KINDS OF MONSTERS AREN'T ON LEVEL 2.

I did try to make the encounters with the easier monsters a little less straight up die rolling contests --

  • I had carnivorous apes jumping and leaping into combat so that the back ranks were vulnerable
  • I had wereboars using a flanking maneuver and missile weapons to show tactics and knowledge of the area
  • I threw a cockatrice at them for good measure
At any rate, the PCs took care of the combat challenges with relative ease.  

I did throw in some strangeness, a teleporter, some Mad Archmage magic and a talkative NPC ogre (poor Karn, we hardly knew ye!) to spice things up, but that only goes so far when combat is such a cakewalk.

I guess the bottom line to me is, the dungeon needs to have some kind of rules and if you come in alone or if you come in with an army of 14, those rules apply.

I don't want to scale encounters other than by the level you are on.  You're on level 3?  OK, here's what it can throw at you.  Level 5?  Here's a tougher set of challenges.  Level 10?  You'd better be ready.

Am I wrong?  I feel like the adventure dragged a bit for the players last night, but then again, they were on the third level most of the night.  Most of the PCs are 6th or better.  Hell, one of the NPCs is 5th and the donkey/mule is even 4th level...  

Shouldn't an adventure for higher level PCs be a bit boring on the upper levels or is there a DM trick that I've missed?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Design Features Dice

Back in May, Talysman over at 9and30kingdoms wrote up a series of posts about alternate design features for walls, ceilings and floors.  Check them out if you haven't seen them.

In each of those posts (as you know, cuz you've seen them) he made six little square pictures to represent his ideas.

I must be honest, six little square pictures SCREAMS to be made into a d6 and I have these wooden cubes, 3/4" on an edge, so what was stopping me?

Well, procrastination, I guess.  I printed out copies of each little pic back in May, but they've been sitting in a folder since then.  I made each set a different color --

  • Black = ceiling features
  • Red = floor features
  • Blue = wall features
I just got around to making the dice yesterday.
I figure I'll leave them in among my DM stuff and from time to time, as dungeon dressing, I'll randomly grab 1 or 2 of them and I'll mix things up.

Thank you to Talysman for the great posts and the inspiration!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Continuing in the tradition of my local campaign, here are this year's Krampus Coupons!

Attention MY PLAYERS!  I'll print you a copy for Thursday!!

You can download a PDF of the file here.  If you'd like an editable file, click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Gift to You -- NPC Cards

It's no secret that I like using cards in my games.  I've blogged about before.

Here's a set of NPC cards you can use in your game.  All the fields are blank; you can write on them using a pen/pencil after you have printed them out.

I've been collecting images off the blogs/sites/posts I read.  If the image was interesting, I dropped it into a folder and cropped it to the correct size for cards.

The following two files are the results of this effort for the year.  100 NPC cards in two files.

As always, if I've used your art and you would like me to remove it, please let me know.  Please know that I'm not intending to violate copyright and my use is only as a fan and gamer.  I mean no offense.

Merry Christmas!!

NPC Cards 1
NPC Cards 2

Friday, December 23, 2011

Floating Cannonballs

I just had to post this, if only to share.  It isn't that often that you see an iron ball bobbing like a cork.

From a gaming perspective, I'm drawn back to the room of pools in B1.  As a DM, I shouldn't underplay the density of a magical liquid...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ant, Giant Poison Gas

Num. Enc: 1-4
Align: N
Move: 180' (60')
AC: 3
HD: 2
Attacks: 1 bite or gas
D/Att: 1d6
Save: F2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: VI
XP: 80

When the Giant Poison Gas Ant is threatened or attacked, it will turn its abdomen toward its attacker to emit a paralysis gas.  Any target within 10' of the ant must save or roll on the following table: [d6]

  1. Suffer a -1 to AC from cramping
  2. Suffer a -2 to AC from nausea
  3. Suffer a -4 to AC from vomiting
  4. Become slowed
  5. Become stunned (fall down, unable to defend self, no actions for 1d4 rounds)
  6. Become paralyzed (as ghoul)
When gas is sprayed, there is a 1 in 4 chance that an additional 1d3 Giant Poison Gas Ants will be attracted to the area to join the fight.  Gas effects last for 10-40 minutes.

Should a target fail additional saves vs the gas, only rolled effects higher than the current effect will occur and the new effect will supersede the previous effect.
For example, Harrack the fighter has failed a save.  He rolls a 2 on d6 and is now nauseous and -2 AC.  Two rounds later, he fails a second save.  He rolls a 1.  No effect (1 is less than 2).  The next round, he fails a third save.  He rolls a 5.  He is now stunned (5 is greater than 2).
Inspired by this creature at i09

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dice Have Arrived!

Here they are!  My DungeonMorph Dice!

I went a little crazy and I got --

  • 2x Adventurer,
  • 2x Explorer,
  • 1x Spelunker sets
I'm planning to frame the colored die "map" documents as references.

With these dice and --
Thank you Joe for an excellent product (and project!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Rules of Magic

Saw this post over at i09...  Seems like a lot of food for thought...

Here's the pic - click to embiggen...