Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

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Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:52 pm

As the Ask a Simple Question thread has been popular for solving game mechanic questions - and I've been getting PMed a lot of questions about DMing advice - I figured it might be a cool idea to start a thread for asking a Dungeonmaster/Pony-Handler questions about DMing. You can use this for advice on handling specific adventure issues, adventure design tips, issues with players or just sharing an idea and getting some feedback on it.

I'm interested to see if people start using this.

Best,

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Paper Shadow on Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:06 pm

Dear Princess Celestia,
Is it wrong for me to create battles where the monster has a trait which causes the players to suffer a status condition for the entirety of the fight, such as a Giant Fire Elemental whose intense heat causes everyone to take Ongoing Damage, or a creature that plays with the character's minds, whose manipulation causes them to be Dazed?

Also, is it wrong for me to design some encounters to counter a player's fighting style? For example, if someone relies on high resist, is it bad for me to create monsters who have attacks that ignore it (similar to Piercing Shot)?

I hope you can answer these questions soon...

Your Faithful GM,
Paper Shadow

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  LoganAura on Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:13 pm

Dear Paper Shadow,

It all depends on how your players would react. For example, if you had a monster that pierces resist, have it target the party as a whole, not just one member and singling them out. If the monster gives ongoing 1 for the duration of the battle, that's fine, but ongoing 10 is too much. Remember, you're trying to make a fun game, not a game to kill the party.
Unless your party knows it's that kind of game.

Sincerely,
DM Scales

PS: Perma-Daze is a jerk move. Daze itself is a jerk move unless it's random/sentient enemies

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:22 pm

My Faithful Dungeonmaster,

In general, while it is wonderful to keep encounters distinct and different from one another, it's usually best to avoid placing long-enduring conditions on the players that restrict them from doing cool things. Stunning is one of the most miserable status conditions for a player because it prevents them from playing the game. In contrast, Ongoing Damage is one of the best conditions - because it creates a secondary objective for the team. If they can successfully remove the condition before the player's turn starts, he won't take any ongoing damage. Furthermore, it's potentially terrifying because the players' minds often go to the worst case scenario where they imagine failing three or four saving throws in a row and taking an obscene amount of damage. It creates suspense for the players and doesn't actually prevent them from fighting, similar to vulnerability. Vulnerability makes the players feel suddenly vulnerable and imagining how much damage they might take from this - creating a need to rely on your friends to help save you. Anything that emphasizes the magic of friendship is wonderful.

As for specifically undermining a player's style, I heartily recommend not doing this. While it's tempting for a dungeon master to create an army of resistance-piercing minions to destroy a creature that has heavy resistance - this makes the player feel like he's being specifically gunned for... Because he is. Instead of preventing the player from playing his build, it's best to give him a punching bag that is *especially* good for his build. For example, instead of including a lot of resistance-piercing monsters - put a legion of multi-attacking minions on the battlefield that would tear apart people that *did not* have resistance - but are reasonable for a resistance-maxed guy to deal with. Let them swarm the resistance player while the rest of the encounter gives the other players a challenge. That way the resistance player gets to feel *awesome* without unbalancing the encounter for the rest of the party.

It's fine to let a few resistance-piercing monsters in of course - just don't specifically build a killer encounter for one player... Unless it makes story sense. If one of the group's enemies knows about this player and is attempting to take him down specifically, it makes sense they'd pack armor-piercing bullets. The fact they're specifically gunning for that player and that it makes sense in the world, an NPC action rather than the intervention of a vindictive DM, will make it feel much, much better.

Yours in Friendship,

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  tygerburningbright on Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:10 pm

not even going to bother with the framing device

When building an NPC race do any DMs accually go over the eight point limit (and how many even write out a set of racial talents)?
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Ramsus on Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:24 pm

Since the races are all meant for PC characters who are meant to be above average members of the species, I would imagine most GMs don't bother using the GE document for non-PC races at all.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:39 pm

In general, when DMing it's best to make your life as easy as possible. As such, I don't usually point-cost all the NPC race's abilities. However, if a pony wants to transform into one - I generate some on the spot they can mimic using the basic guidelines of genetic engineering.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Paper Shadow on Sat May 11, 2013 11:14 pm

Dear Princess Celestia,
What should I do when players want to make skill checks during combat? In the PH Guide (which I know is out of date), there is an example in the Magecraft (It's Witchcraft) section saying that a player can spend a standard action to make an Arcana check to attempt to seize control of a magical golem, but they can't be used as a way to deal damage. I understand that, but what if the action they are doing isn't really worth a standard action flavour-wise? If a player wishes to spend a minor action to play dead in order to be ignored by wild beasts, should I allow that, or should it be a standard action? What about if someone wishes to talk someone out of a fight? Talking is considered a free action, so should the Persuasion Check be a free action, or more expensive? I know that I can just set the DC high (after all, the creature is hostile), and I know my players won't abuse having persuasion checks as free actions (much), but a 20 is but a roll away, and I don't feel comfortable with my players being able to persuade the BBEG to stop fighting while still having a full turn of combat talents available to them. What do you do when I player wishes to make a check, but 't feel that the action they are doing is worth less than a standard action?

Your Faithful GM,
Paper Shadow

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Z2 on Sat May 11, 2013 11:33 pm

(MY SISTER IS UNAVAILABLE, HOPEFULLY I MAY BE OF ASSISTANCE IN HER STEAD)

My Adventurous Ponyhandler,
When in-combat skillchecks come my way, I typically do the following:

Interact with the field : Free Action
Interact with the Enemy : Minor Action
Playing Dead, or other 'interacting with self' actions : Standard Action

The base rule of how the action might work makes some sense to me...
You could climb up a bit or try to kick up a dust cloud while still balancing a number of actions, or even do it when you see an enemy coming (free action)
You can try to talk to an enemy, but if you're already going full force with combat moves, you won't manage the focus... and you need the stage anyway (minor action)
Playing dead, hiding, fleeing, all of these require full attention (standard)

In the event that those aren't particularly pragmatic, a simpler rule is 'Skillcheck = Minor action'

As for the check potentially not being worth it? I'd probably just tell them. "Hey, this thing is trying to kill you, your chat about the weather is not likely to stop it." If it's the twenties your afraid of... you don't HAVE to make them automatic successes (and you can set the DC absurdly high). Critical = +20, CMC = '+50 and some tasty flavor text' are how I'd usually do them... because 'automatic success' just isn't viable in some situations.

Yours in Learning,
Princess Luna
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Ramsus on Sat May 11, 2013 11:38 pm

My answer would be to not allow it at all unless there's a good specific reason for it to be happening. If you allow players to constantly come up with ways to use skill checks in combat, they'll just break how combat is supposed to work. So in the cases you do allow it, the cost should be determined by the strength of what they're attempting is compared to something else they could be doing.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  ZamuelNow on Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:36 pm

Dear Princess Celestia,

How do you handle inaction? In my opinion, it often feels like the most dangerous enemy to a campaign isn't someone trolling and being destructive but rather players that lack momentum and agency in a situation. It affects things differently in forums and tabletop but the dead air is still a concern for both. It's interesting that a killer GM can get around this by punishing players who don't do anything but most GM's won't (and shouldn't) do this. Open for ideas.

Your Faithful GM,
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:55 pm

ZamuelNow wrote:Dear Princess Celestia,

How do you handle inaction?  In my opinion, it often feels like the most dangerous enemy to a campaign isn't someone trolling and being destructive but rather players that lack momentum and agency in a situation.  It affects things differently in forums and tabletop but the dead air is still a concern for both.  It's interesting that a killer GM can get around this by punishing players who don't do anything but most GM's won't (and shouldn't) do this.  Open for ideas.

Your Faithful GM,
ZamuelNow
Dear ZamuelNow,

Players are the protagonists of the campaign. Just like in any other kind of story, if the protagonists don't have a desire they're working to achieve - the story limps along or hits an endless plateau. 

A quick fix is to find out what your players and their characters want. Often players will create characters that don't have any specific desires or backstory fuel (hence the character questionaire I posted in the roleplaying forum - which prompts players to create specific motivations for their characters as well as all sorts of other material that's invaluable for a DM). You can ask your players to think about what their characters would walk into fire to get. What do they think they want and what do they actually want? Have them build long-term goals for their characters, like the reclamation of their ancestral kingdom from a usurper (that'll give you tons and tons of fodder for exciting adventures), the destruction of an enemy organization (an organization can provide multiple villains) or the finding and reclaiming an ancient artifact.

In short, there needs to be emotional investment. If you want the long, long, long answer - I did an independent study on how to create emotional investment in games - focusing on tabletop RPGs - for one of my professors, which I can share with you if you like. Here it is. 


Creating Emotional Investment


Now, as for how to make things urgent. If your players are interested to find out what happens next, if you do a good job making them allways interested to find out what's around the corner or what an NPC is hiding or what's inside the mysterious castle that appears on the edge of town each full moon... They'll probably race through the adventure with the same fervor as a person hooked on a page-turner suspense novel.

On the other hand, you can introduce urgency by setting a ticking time bomb. If one of your heroes has contracted a disease and the more time they spend talking about a million possible courses of action, you regularly announce that  "the seeping wound spreads another three inches"... The players will quickly be motivated to get this cure made *fast*. You can also be extra-scary and introduce a real-time time limit. I've run dungeons that have components of the boss getting insanely stronger if the players don't complete it in 5 hours real time (no pauses) and they makes the players hurry the heck up.

Finally, you can accelerate the pacing through selecting non-intrusive narration. If the players have found information that points them to the docks, but are still discussing random stuff for a while - you can move the narrative by saying, "When you get to the docks..." and just continue from there. As long as no player has a huge objection to going to the docks and it seems like a place they were probably going to go to - no one's going to complain. At least, I've never run into a player that did. This can keep the adventure moving forward at a solid pace despite some player ambivilence and it creates a much better time for everyone. If there's a meaningless argument that's taking up a long time, feel free to suggest a solution that gives everyone what they want. For example, if some players think seeing the archmage is going to be more useful than talking to the high priest - and they keep going round in circles talking about it - just say, "How about you see the archmage first, then the high priest." Astoundingly, this will usually work thanks to the simple logic of a compromise and the weight of DM authority as an arbiter.

Anyway, those are a bunch of ways to tackle the issues of player inaction. Hope they help.

Your faithful Dungeonmaster,

Dan


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:35 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:10 am

Wow – you weren't kidding when you said it was long. However, that was also an immensely interesting read, and very useful for me as I go about setting up my first campaign.

I have one question, though. I came across this sentence in the conclusion, "If a Loved character is cast in the role of a character the players are supposed to despise, the emotional investment will be shattered," and thinking back I couldn't remember this being specifically addressed with an example in the body of the paper. If it was and I simply mis-understood the example, would you kindly point out which it is to me? If it in fact wasn't, would you mind providing one?

I'm curious about what such a situation would look like. Is it something akin to having the designated villain, someone the players are supposed to work towards destroying, actually turn out to be a really nice chap when they get to know him? And does it really shatter emotional investment so much as re-channel it into a different form? (I'm seriously asking, I have pretty much zero experience on this front and would like to hear your take on the matter.)

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:33 am

Philadelphus wrote:Wow – you weren't kidding when you said it was long. However, that was also an immensely interesting read, and very useful for me as I go about setting up my first campaign.

I have one question, though. I came across this sentence in the conclusion, "If a Loved character is cast in the role of a character the players are supposed to despise, the emotional investment will be shattered," and thinking back I couldn't remember this being specifically addressed with an example in the body of the paper. If it was and I simply mis-understood the example, would you kindly point out which it is to me? If it in fact wasn't, would you mind providing one?

I'm curious about what such a situation would look like. Is it something akin to having the designated villain, someone the players are supposed to work towards destroying, actually turn out to be a really nice chap when they get to know him? And does it really shatter emotional investment so much as re-channel it into a different form? (I'm seriously asking, I have pretty much zero experience on this front and would like to hear your take on the matter.)
1) Yeah, my professor was kind of shaken too. He couldn't believe me when I told him I actually had to cut a lot out of it to get it down to that length. There's so much fascinating material to talk about.

2) The specific example you're looking for is the Jar Jar Binks example vs. the Ambassador Dupuis. That's when Jar Jar Binks is miscast in his role (hated character you're supposed to love). This demonstrates the principle that characters are better suited for certain roles. There isn't an example for a loved character being miscast, but there doesn't really need to be. It's easy to invert the first example.

However, since you asked, I'll be happy to provide a hypothetical example. Let's say you craft a villainous character that betrays the king, brilliantly has him killed with a wink and a smile, easily outsmarts all the efforts of the city guard to catch him and a whole lot more... Doing it all with charm and competence while the King himself was a greedy old bastard that never had any respect for the players and his kingdom's a corrupt, incompetent mess.

The players are probably going to like the dashing rogue a lot more than the king. It's methods like this that make the criminals of Ocean's 11 and Hannibal more likable than their law-abiding opponents. We like the thief Robin Hood and dislike the Sheriff and Prince John. If you put a Robin Hood in your story but center the game around the players trying to apprehend and execute him for the sleazy Sheriff and Prince John characters - the players aren't going to want to do that. Forcing them to continue on that path (which, if it was a videogame, would be pre-planned and inflexible if you didn't include a choice) shatters emotional investment.

Not many games make this mistake as often as the Jar Jar Binks one - because the bad writers tend to go all, "Muahahahahah" on their villains anyway - which aren't likable anyway because they're cartoony villains with no soul.

TLDR; If the quest centers around your players trying to kill someone they don't want to kill, then they aren't going to want to complete the quest... And therefore won't be emotionally invested in the quest's goal. The exception, of course, is a tragedy-plot where the players are forced to confront someone they don't want to hurt - but that's a different matter entirely. If they're supposed to want to destroy someone that they instead really like - their emotional investment goes away.

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:21 pm

Ah, ok! That makes perfect sense. Thanks for the example. Very Happy

You could theoretically use such a character as part of a plot twist (the characters were actually supposed to switch sides and help Robin Hood all along!), but playing it straight would definitely make them miserable.

(Unless maybe you have a group of classically-trained actors interested in playing a Greek tragedy, but the number of such gaming groups is rather small, I imagine.)

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:25 pm

Absolutely. If the players are *supposed* to end up liking the character they originally see as a villain, switching sides, that's a cool twist. But note that they are still supposed to end up liking that character, so the role is perfect.

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  A1C Bronymous on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:45 pm

Dear Best Princess Princess Not-Evil Good-Pony

Have you ever been in a situation where someone in the group took over DMing a game that was not originally their own, because the DM had to stop for whatever reason? And if so, what would you say is the appropriate course of action:
a) taking over the story that the players have gotten used to, and continuing it even though you have little to know knowledge on the direction it was heading, nor a comprehensive idea on the setting and backstory that the prior DM was working with?
b) steering the group away from that campaign, unfinished, to  a new one you now have full creative control on, even though it would be, at the least, jarring to the PCs, and at the most, completely off track, with no real reason, and away from what the Players have been building their characters towards?
Obviously if the Setting is the same, the campaign should continue to follow the same lines (whether you continue the story or change it), but you can't always know what the other DM had planned for his own game.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:57 pm

Bronymous wrote:Dear Best Princess Princess Not-Evil Good-Pony

Have you ever been in a situation where someone in the group took over DMing a game that was not originally their own, because the DM had to stop for whatever reason? And if so, what would you say is the appropriate course of action:
a) taking over the story that the players have gotten used to, and continuing it even though you have little to know knowledge on the direction it was heading, nor a comprehensive idea on the setting and backstory that the prior DM was working with?
b) steering the group away from that campaign, unfinished, to  a new one you now have full creative control on, even though it would be, at the least, jarring to the PCs, and at the most, completely off track, with no real reason, and away from what the Players have been building their characters towards?
Obviously if the Setting is the same, the campaign should continue to follow the same lines (whether you continue the story or change it), but you can't always know what the other DM had planned for his own game.
Dear Bronymous,

Yes, I've been in this situation several times and I know other people on these forums have too. I recommend option C. Try to tie up any loose plot threads that you don't understand in a satisfying conclusion as quickly as possible - then find a way to continue the story in a way you feel comfortable (such as moving locations to a part of the world the players haven't explored yet, and thus you can build from scratch, or having a significant event happen that changes the setting they understood in fundamental ways so it feels fresh once more).

Ultimately, get a hold on what the characters' goals are and what the players are looking forward to. Anything that you don't fully understand, tie up as quickly as possible in a satisfying way. Then come up with a believable reason to move the story to a place the players won't have as much prior experience with, so you can build things from scratch.

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  A1C Bronymous on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:03 pm

Oh, good, so I did it right. They finished their mission, then got relocated, to far away. New town, new objectives new story. I just asked because I wanted to be sure I hadn't already made a terrible mistake.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:13 pm

So long as you got it to feel like the satisfying end to a TV season, concluding the major plot lines and starting with new issues (though still connected to the character growth before) sounds like you did an ideal job.

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Paper Shadow on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:10 pm

Dear Princess Celestia,
I've recently watched the latest Acquisitions Incorporated game. Fun stuff, as always, but I noticed something. A lot of the checks were DC 10. Seeing if things are illusions or not, breaking through old but frozen doors, resisting charm spells, stuff like that. I realise that the Pony Tales equivalent of DC 10 is DC 15, but I thought about it, and I knew that a player could easily make sure every check with their favourite skill would hit DC 20 (or crit fail), and I thought about it some more, and now I have the feeling that I sometimes make my DCs too high. Sometimes I feel that the situation warrants a high DC, but that makes the player in the situation unlikely, if possible at all, to achieve those checks...

For a recent (and technically still ongoing, so if my Saint-Trotez players don't want this to be spoiled, go away, shoo) example, I have someone who is playing as a guard pony, and recently escorted a prisoner to a second batch of guards. When he arrived, he got jumped by two monks which were also brought to escort the prisoner (a powerful illusionist). The monks see evil magic within the player (which is actually an evil spirit that saved the player earlier in the campaign), and want to purge his evil from the world. Now, the player had previously fought a shapeshifting monster which took a form similar to the monks who also wanted to cleanse the player, so he is immediately hostile and calls for the other guards to help him, but I knew those monks had large historical ties to the country and highly respected, so despite the player rolling 27 (his Persuasion Bonus is 10, so he rolled 17), the best that I felt that I could do would make the guards torn between who to help. The player has rolled more Persuasion rolls (26 and 29, the latter being the highest he can get without a Nat 20), but all he's done is make the guards think he is innocent (although unwilling to stop the monks) and make the monks realise that he himself isn't evil, so they only need to get rid of the evil magic and not kill him, which is hardly anything for rolls so high, but I felt that, with the monks' power to see magic and the guards knowing how respected the monks are, it just makes sense that the DCs are so high...

So, what kind of DCs should I be aiming for when making things?

Your Faithful GM,
Paper Shadow

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:44 pm

Dear Papershadow,

The best way to think about DCs is to think about the effect on the players and the adventure that they have. It's easy to get lost in worrying about what DC it should take to break down a specific kind of door, but for the answer think more about the chance you want the players to have of succeeding. You can always decide that the door is brilliantly reinforced or something if you don't think it'd serve the adventure for players to be able to break it down. On the other hand, you might decide that an iron door is hollowed-out or its hinges are weak if you think being able to break down the door will serve the adventure.

In general, the DM's job is to say "Yes, BUT", "Yes AND" or "Yes IF" to the player antics. You want to give the players a chance to try out their schemes, unless it makes absolutely NO sense for their plan to work or would severely undermine the adventure and lessen everyone's experience, but then have interesting and often unexpected consequences ripple out... Or the scheme requires being earned through some side-quest or objective ("Sure you can try to drop flaming barrels on the bandit hideout instead of storming it, you just need to get those barrels and some flying bird-mounts to drop them. Let's get questing).

You can pretty much start with the idea of, "Do I want this action to be doable" when it comes to a proposed skill check - decide if the answer is yes or no - then set the DC appropriately and come up with believable reasons for the DC to be that way. In general though, players should get to try out their ideas and succeed in their reasonable plans without too much effort. It keeps the game moving and the players feel empowered. Hence Chris Perkins' use of lots of easy DCs. Sometimes he just wants players to roll the dice and will let them succeed pretty much no matter what they roll - minus a natural 1 (he said as much in a DM commentary).


Your faithful Dungeonmaster,

Dan

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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:30 pm

I think adding into the system comments on the following possible options for DCs could be good:

"No Check Needed" - Basically a DC 0... Where even a nat-1 should in theory still pass because failing at this option doesn't make sense, or wouldn't be fun for anyone to have happen... Arrangements that are really good for one's RPing can have this happen to otherwise normal checks that thanks to RPing forgo the check as a reward for the RPing... Shouldn't happen often, but should be an option that every GM should think about.

DC 5 - Your only having the Player roll to see if they get a nat-1... And like that's the only way it'd get any type of fail. If somebody at least get's to this high of a DC should get something on more minor skill checks. Like forgoing a skill check it is an options that comes up rarely... And mostly just given when the players need this to win or the plot fails or something... Something like needing to do something so simple or easy for this PC that it should be like breathing... But is so natural that it doesn't make sense for "no-skill check" be done. Or if the GM doesn't enjoy the idea of allowing something happen without a skill check, having it's DC be this low might be worthwhile trying.

DC 10 - Another slow level skill check that could be used at times... While the normal one of DC 15 should be used for easy checks, sometimes lowing it by five might be needed if the plot needs it... Or the GM, player, or RPing seems to suggest that this should be an thing done easier then easy to pull off. Reasons for this depend on the player, campaign, and GM...

Also just allowing normal RP bonusi for all skill checks, not just persasution checks is another option to think about using for GMs I'd figure...
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:59 pm

Xel Unknown wrote:Also just allowing normal RP bonusi for all skill checks, not just persasution checks is another option to think about using for GMs I'd figure...
Well, circumstance bonuses should always be in play. If the king loaned you the Overcompensating Hammer of Face Bashing, breaking down a door should be a fair bit easier. Taking extra time for certain Mechanics and Arcana checks should make them easier as well.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:15 pm

Also... Skill challenges... ALWAYS be open to offering such a thing when the need arises of something big to be taken care of. A full pony tale's primer on Skill Challenges should totally get into the updated GM Guide, whenever that get's worked on.
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Re: Dear Princess Celestia... (Ask A DM Thread)

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