DMed my second game of DnD yesterday.

You're browsing the GameFAQs Message Boards as a guest. Sign Up for free (or Log In if you already have an account) to be able to post messages, change how messages are displayed, and view media in posts.
  1. Boards
  2. Poll of the Day
  3. DMed my second game of DnD yesterday.

User Info: Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt
4 weeks ago#171
ParanoidObsessive posted...
The more I think about it, the more I think an idea like that would work well if the players were dealing with some sort of previously (mostly) undiscovered magitech sort of culture that was able to build fortresses that were powered by some sort of internal magical power source, which allows certain tools or weapons to function within their bounds but which are effectively rendered inert outside of their range for lack of power. That would allow the DM to introduce almost any functionality or ability in an item that can be extremely useful in its "home" dungeon but more or less useless anywhere else.

I've already got a setting that allows for a bit more contrivance than normal. It's a bit of a "what if". What if a child in our world (2017 real-life Earth, the one with the fidget spinners) gained the powers of a god and used them make the world "perfect" as best as she could?

So, since God Emperor Hannah likes games, she gave everyone DnD-level super powers. Death was an unsatisfying experience and so has been removed. Food, shelter, and indeed all needs are provided, so the only remaining economy is for adventuring loot. Monsters have been spawned the world over to give people something to do (adventure!). And more ostensibly good ideas that really weren't thought out because a child enacted them.

(Full disclosure, I ripped the premise from a webcomic called A Better Place. Here's that world's propagandistic genesis story in one comic-page if you like, though I won't be using the "attach giant thrusters to the earth" plotline https://tapas.io/episode/145338)

So uh yeah, I'm kinda married to that. It's neat!
One day dude, I'm just gonna get off the bus, and I'm gonna run in the woods and never come back, and when I come back I'm gonna be the knife master!
-The Rev
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: shadowsword87

shadowsword87
4 weeks ago#172
Lightning Bolt posted...
Or maybe it's less about understanding the dungeon as the challenge, and more about that "directed exploration" thing. After all, once you see a chest on a high ledge to your left, you'll be looking for both stairs and paths on your left. I've never been a fan of navigation being an uninformed choice.
Uhhh... I'm not sure really what the essence of this is. Send help.


You mean when you see something and go, "I will go do that later"?
The problem is that players are trained to go, "I see something, time to go poke it". Even if there's an unscalable wall, players have actual literal magic and they can figure it out. Then you start throwing invisible walls because they shouldn't be that far, and then things get silly fast.
Zelda is still a videogame, so if for some dumb reason we can't go over a 2 foot tall fence, whatever, it's a game and that's the universe.

User Info: Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt
4 weeks ago#173
shadowsword87 posted...
The problem is that players are trained to go, "I see something, time to go poke it".

I can always retrain them. Set enough fire under a player's ass and they'll do whatever looks wettest. >.>

But yeah, I know that height won't be a gate past level 5 or so. That's about when flight comes online for casters in Pathfinder. And some even weaker PCs could find a way up. So I'll need to design a lot of these dungeons around the player's ever-changing abilities. Shouldn't be too hard, GMs design dungeons based on how strong the party is already. And the overworld is harsh enough in my setting that I should have plenty of warning before they go to a specific dungeon. I think.

Really though, I think I have to accept that sometimes the players will outsmart me and solve something a lot sooner than I guessed they would. That usually feels so good for the players that it's beneficial anyways. At least my players love feeling like they beat the system.
It's a lot less of a problem in DnD than Zelda because humans are so adaptable. Computers can do those complex physics puzzles, but as a GM I can allow for creative solutions to work, expand the play area at will, and adaptively design the game so that a particular sequence break doesn't break anything it shouldn't. I don't need invisible walls to keep PCs out of undeveloped areas, I can just develop what happens on the spot when the PCs go over that fence.
One day dude, I'm just gonna get off the bus, and I'm gonna run in the woods and never come back, and when I come back I'm gonna be the knife master!
-The Rev
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: I_Abibde

I_Abibde
4 weeks ago#174
Reading a dungeon analysis makes me stop and ask myself how to use a feature like the parallel dimensions in Strange Journey in a D&D setting (i.e. you use a specific ability to "slide" into another version of the same dungeon that has alterations to its basic layout, allowing you to get to restricted areas of the original dungeon by going through the parallel version).

Also: Thank you for remembering that Zelda II exists. The Grand Palace is one of my all-time favorite video game dungeons (because of unique enemies, traps, and puzzles that are not found in any other area of the game).
-- I Abibde / Samuraiter
Laughing at Game FAQs since 2002.

User Info: KthulhuX

KthulhuX
4 weeks ago#175
shadowsword87 posted...
The problem is that players are trained to go, "I see something, time to go poke it".

There is a fairly (in)famous solution to that problem. It's called the Tomb of Horrors. (Although I prefer the sequel, Return to the Tomb of Horrors. The 3.5 edition of the Tomb also is very nerfed, and should be avoided.)

User Info: Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt
4 weeks ago#176
I_Abibde posted...
Reading a dungeon analysis makes me stop and ask myself how to use a feature like the parallel dimensions in Strange Journey in a D&D setting (i.e. you use a specific ability to "slide" into another version of the same dungeon that has alterations to its basic layout, allowing you to get to restricted areas of the original dungeon by going through the parallel version).

My first thought is to make the alternate dimension one that already exists in the rules. Like the Ethereal Plane or the Plane of Fire or something. That way you can draw on a whole new set of rules that the players are already familiar with and that they can already interact with a little bit. How smart is the mage gonna feel when he realizes that he can just use Ethereal Jaunt instead of one of the preset portals to solve a puzzle? Or that Force magic hits both planes at once?

Plus, creatures on the ethereal plane can see the material plane, but not vice versa. I bet you could start using the "surprise" aspect of ethereal enemies to make the party feel really uncomfortable whenever they're in the physical plane. I can also imagine the PCs leaving a lookout in the ethereal plane whenever they return to the physical in case of an ethereal attack. If you're careful with portal placement, you can break this briefly and make them run blind for short bits.

If you start relying on surprises, you could also give the PCs a chance to get the drop on an ambush predator! That could feel like some sweet justice if you've been a little aggressive with the Ethereal Spiders lately.

So start with an ethereal wall on the entrance, a portal in the room, and a physical wall on the exit. Stick an ethereal treasure chest in there. Introduce the mechanic. And like... continue or something. I may use this but I'd need to build it in tandem with a layout, the way I'm doing things, and not right now. :p

You could probably do a whole (short-ish) campaign with this idea. The Plane of Water mimics the rising/lowering water levels from OoT pretty well. Plane of Positive Energy has that cool rule where you gain health constantly until you hit double your max health and explode. It could be neat if you want to make forays into the other Plane timed without dropping the party to 2 health every time, and it also opens up some funny "breaking the rules" cheese like beating the s*** out of yourself with a hammer to extend your time limit. The big limiter is that these Planes actually are other places, unlike the Ethereal Plane which is sort of just an extra layer on top of the normal world.
One day dude, I'm just gonna get off the bus, and I'm gonna run in the woods and never come back, and when I come back I'm gonna be the knife master!
-The Rev
Here's a campaign idea I came up with in the shower earlier:

Run a normal game with players whose characters all start out low-level, and do general early-game stuff.

Then, once they hit level 4 or so, they're approached by an older NPC who is obviously (or not so obviously) a grimdark future version of one of their characters (as DM, take one of their character sheets, and then "level" that character up to 19 or 20). Play them as an NPC who shows up during a battle where the PCs are having a bit of trouble and just utterly wreck shop, soloing all of the enemies PDQ.

This NPC eventually reveals that they used a temporal anomaly known as the Timescar to travel backwards into the past, to try and avert a dark future wherein something terrible happens and the world goes to s***. Eventually, a badass Warforged or Golem shows up which has clearly come from this dark future and is trying to kill the future PC (and possibly the past PCs as well, because why the f*** not).

At this point, since you don't want a strong high-level character hanging around hogging the spotlight (which players tend to see as "not fun" or "a****** DM showing off how awesome his DMPC is again"), the Warforged and the future-PC fight and apparently kill each other (bonus points if the PCs never find either body, and the Warforged eventually repairs itself and comes back as an enemy later once they've leveled enough to potentially beat it as a group).

While the future PC is with the group, you can either have them be very talkative about what happens in their version of the future that they're trying to avert (potentially mentioning how the other PCs were killed, how someone they currently consider a minor villain turns out to be a major threat, or how some magical apocalypse or other wrecks the world), or have them be more reticent (because they're too scarred by what they've seen to want to talk about it, and it won't matter anyway once they fix things, right?).

If they're talkative, then once they're gone the PCs have to worry about whether or not they can avert whatever catastrophe happened with their foreknowledge, or if they're more or less doomed to repeat history (or make things worse) by trying to prevent it. Worse, every comment can become a potential threat - if the NPC tells one PC to "avoid Sunstone Gorge, that's where you get killed by a dragon", but it seems like the group is going to have to go to Sunstone Gorge to find something/do something to stop the overall threat, does the PC go and risk dying? Can they rely on the warning itself being enough to alter their behavior slightly and help them overcome their fate? If they deliberately avoid the place (thus weakening the party as a whole), does it potentially result in one of the other PCs getting killed in their place? And if they DO manage to avert the catastrophe, what if they accidentally open the door to something even worse in the process (see also, Command and Conquer: Red Alert)?

If they're reticent to talk about the future, then once they're gone the PCs are left to second-guess every future decision (in-character, anyway). Exactly what did they come back to prevent? Is this next fight the one where you're all going to die? Is THIS the villain who manages to uncork the apocalypse? Or does the simple knowledge that the future needs to be averted set into motion a butterfly effect chain of effects that changes history regardless (meaning the moment the NPC arrived in the past the future was already changed)?


(cont)

"Wall of Text'D!" --- oldskoolplayr76
"POwned again." --- blight family
Then you can have the double-reverse twist where it turns out the future NPC is actually lying through their teeth, and the future is bright but THEY have turned evil, and are trying to manipulate the past to help make things worse. In this scenario the PC (either alone or as part of the group) eventually attempts to gain power, only to fail (quite possibly at the hands of his allies if he betrayed them, or at the hands of other heroes if the entire group turned evil). Now, with everyone he once knew dead, all of his influence lost, and on the run, his only option is to start over and try again...

(In this scenario, the NPC might fight the Warforged but fake their own death, moving into the shadows to manipulate events as a villain, after having put the PCs onto whatever path they wanted them diverted to. This NPC may not even want to return to the future at all, but plan on conquering and ruling over the past while either offering to make his past self PC his successor/lieutenant/etc, or eventually killing off his past self entirely.)

And then there's the ridiculous-quadruple-twist where it turns out literally everything was a lie, and the NPC wasn't even the future version of a PC at all, but a powerful current-day villain who changed their appearance and used magic to gain enough knowledge of the PC to fake a convincing future version. The whole thing was a gambit to manipulate the heroes into unsealing some ancient evil or doing something else terrible while retaining a degree of plausible denial.

"Wall of Text'D!" --- oldskoolplayr76
"POwned again." --- blight family

User Info: I_Abibde

I_Abibde
4 weeks ago#179
Lightning Bolt posted...
My first thought is to make the alternate dimension one that already exists in the rules. Like the Ethereal Plane or the Plane of Fire or something.


*facepalm*

I don't know why I didn't think of that. Thank you. Maybe it's because it's been ages since I've been involved in any kind of campaign involving the Planes? (Still have my old Planescapes big box, though I really like the old 1st Edition Manual of the Planes much more.) But yes, I'll remember that if it comes up.
-- I Abibde / Samuraiter
Laughing at Game FAQs since 2002.

User Info: Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt
4 weeks ago#180
Okay, so I (re)played the Majora's Mask water temple yesterday. Very educational.

First thing I notice in the entire dungeon is that, in the first room, there's a water wheel that seems to run something very large, and it's hooked up to yellow and red pipes. The yellow pipe has an on/off switch, but the red is just off with no switch in sight. "That's easy, I'll follow the red pipe to its switch, or whatever it has!" I say.

Next room features a forked path between a door and a huge spinning whirlpool (as well as more clarity on what the water wheel does and how it works). I follow the red pipe into the whirlpool. Etc etc zelda etc, I find the red switch, eagerly use the results of my discovery to alter the whole dungeon back at the beginning machine, and dive back in to explore the bits I just unlocked until I have total control of the dungeon, having noticed an inactive green pipe while I was switching the red one on.

Essentially, I knew why I was exploring the whole time, but I was still exploring. All hail the red pipe!

I think that's a super valuable lesson. Immediately upon entering the first room, I not only saw the machine that's central to how the dungeon works, I also saw what I needed to do next. It gave me a starting point, and something to go by when hit with choice paralysis.



That said, Zelda games are totally made to be accessible to kids. These puzzles have good design principles, but are admittedly quite easy. More red herrings, subtler guides, more complicated environments, and more flexible mechanics (a switch can do two things, on or off, which is very straightforward) would probably be more appropriate for my group.

For instance, I very rarely lost sight of the path of a pipe, like behind or through a wall. I never encountered pipes that were hard to distinguish, since they were super clearly colored. All of the pipes simply needed to be turned "on", and there was no nuance where some should be turned off or potentially reverse direction. While charming from a kid's game, I think my players would feel like I was being condescending if I literally just had them following a glowing red pipe.
One day dude, I'm just gonna get off the bus, and I'm gonna run in the woods and never come back, and when I come back I'm gonna be the knife master!
-The Rev
  1. Boards
  2. Poll of the Day
  3. DMed my second game of DnD yesterday.

Report Message

Terms of Use Violations:

Etiquette Issues:

Notes (optional; required for "Other"):
Add user to Ignore List after reporting

Topic Sticky

You are not allowed to request a sticky.