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Oramac

The Nerd Fitness DM's Guild

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I tend to do do group initiative - so PCs vs Monsters - then do a summary post at the end of each round.

Also always tell PCs to roll damage w/ their attack rolls and after the first round I usually tell the PCs the AC of the critters to help speed things up.

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Hey Gains, do you remember what the Dice Roller site was that we used when we did PbP a few years ago? I see a lot of them, but can't find that one.

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Very new DM here - starting my first campaign in a few weeks :D
I'm curious to know how dungeon masters decide how easy/hard the arbitrary tasks/actions that a player may try should be to achieve, or how good a knowledge check needs to be to gather information, etc. We're going to be using pathfinder for our campaign. Also sorry if this is a really newbish question - I volunteered to lead my group's next campaign perhaps before really understanding what I was getting into. :P

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There are many ways to determine it really. I'm sure there are set ways, but I generally determine what info they can learn, break it into increasing pieces (last week was determining what God an old symbol represented, lower rolls determined it was a god of the sea, higher rolls revealed a name, and even higher gave some insight as to his disposition and views, etc as a basic example), and assign a dice range to each. I'll take things into account outside of actual skill values and such (though bonuses should reflect their backgrounds, a hermit probably wouldn't have the kind of insight a city dweller or merchant would, for example. But yeah. "Wing it" is also a way. I've had a lazy night where an unexpected question was asked, and I basically went "okay, 14+ will give a successful check on this." In my head, then had everyone roll. Sometimes it's bit me in the butt, but I keep track of character sheet skill values as well as the situation so I have a general idea of how tough it should be, so it's rarely an actual issue.

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1 hour ago, Hymnusal said:

Very new DM here - starting my first campaign in a few weeks :D
I'm curious to know how dungeon masters decide how easy/hard the arbitrary tasks/actions that a player may try should be to achieve, or how good a knowledge check needs to be to gather information, etc. We're going to be using pathfinder for our campaign. Also sorry if this is a really newbish question - I volunteered to lead my group's next campaign perhaps before really understanding what I was getting into. :P

 

First, welcome to the wonderful world of DMing!  

 

For the second...

 

1 hour ago, Fenyx said:

break it into increasing pieces (last week was determining what God an old symbol represented, lower rolls determined it was a god of the sea, higher rolls revealed a name, and even higher gave some insight as to his disposition and views, etc as a basic example), and assign a dice range to each. I'll take things into account outside of actual skill values and such (though bonuses should reflect their backgrounds, a hermit probably wouldn't have the kind of insight a city dweller or merchant would, for example. 

 

This is good advice.  I typically do the same.  

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17 hours ago, Hymnusal said:

Very new DM here - starting my first campaign in a few weeks :D
I'm curious to know how dungeon masters decide how easy/hard the arbitrary tasks/actions that a player may try should be to achieve, or how good a knowledge check needs to be to gather information, etc. We're going to be using pathfinder for our campaign. Also sorry if this is a really newbish question - I volunteered to lead my group's next campaign perhaps before really understanding what I was getting into. :P

 

I liked Fenyx's suggestions too. I've sometimes used a slightly different approach, and by "slightly different approach" I mean "cheat".

 

I tend to think in terms of how important success or failure is in terms of the overall adventure.

 

There are sometimes where one or more of the players needs to succeed for the good of the adventure - either because it's an essential plot driver or because it gives them a strategic or tactical edge that they'll need to win a future encounter. For example... I need someone to notice that what looks like the bloody aftermath of an attack by orc raiders might have been staged to look like that. Or I need our heroes to know that they'll need defence against attack X when they fight the big bad monster, or they'll be toast. When that happens I don't really have a target number - whoever rolls highest will notice, perhaps more than one person will notice if more than one person rolls well. In the example of the orc raiders, I might decide that someone has to succeed, but that I don't want anyone to succeed to the point of being sure. Hopefully this leave the players with the impression that they could have failed and could have succeeded better - though as a DM I can get unlucky with a bunch of pathetic roles or through the most perceptive character rolling really high. Though in both of those cases I can confuse people by asking for further checks (heal for assessing injuries, survival for looking at the tracks) and say that the perception check only bought them the chance to make further skill checks now that they're suspicious. Roll enough dice and they'll forget, and hopefully believe that they'd know more if they rolled better or less if they'd rolled worse. Although, as Fenyx mentioned this kind of 'assess the scene' thing is very amenable to different grades/levels of information. But then I'll cheat to make sure that the players have no less than the minimum or no more than the maximum that I want them to have. Unless they do really well and I feel like rising to the challenge of giving them much more and then responding to that.

 

Other skill checks rolls either don't really matter in terms of the overall plot, or just give the players a bit of a bonus insight, or an extra bit of treasure. Again, here I sometimes cheat. Often I'll have approximate target numbers in mind, but I'll also think in terms of what different characters have been able to contribute so far, and how much fun I think everyone is having. If a player has been quiet because their character isn't ideal for the scenario, or a player's D20 is rolling like a D10, or one player is doing too much, or being too successful relative to others, I'll cheat to level the playing field a bit. This needs to be done with a great deal of care, because it's a slippery slope from this to favouritism, or to penalising someone who's just pissing me off, or to pandering to people who winge and complain. One particular problem can occur with rogues, who are supposed to be good at detecting and disarming traps. But there aren't usually that many, and they're normally hard to deal with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's played a rogue who only ever disarms traps with his face. He's supposed to be an adventurer, but he looks like a clumsy buffoon with permanently singed eyebrows. Can be a similar issue with rangers and tracking under some systems, or clerics who know less about religion than the wizard, and so on and so forth. There is a general problem at low levels with D20 + skill with the random factor being far too important.

 

Ultimately it's about having fun. As a DM I cheat much less with combat rolls, checks etc, but with skill checks and other stuff, I'll regularly cheat and fudge and make things up to get the best result for the adventure and for fun. The trick is hiding that fact and letting the players believe that their dice rolls and good and bad fortune make more difference than they really do.

 

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I've sometimes used a slightly different approach, and by "slightly different approach" I mean "cheat".

 

 

Glad I'm not the only one lol, though I wasn't sure how to explain that one without sounding like "meh, I completely plan the whole thing out and they technically have no actual choice sometimes". You nailed it though! Sometimes you simply need them to know something, and it needs to feel like they actually discovered it, even if they didn't, in order to drive the narrative. And it definitely feels different to have the DM say that you notice something and the roll and be told you've discovered something important. And sometimes that method will remind players to start looking for things, to start asking about even the simplest things, to really slip into the skin of their character.

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12 minutes ago, Rostov said:

I liked Fenyx's suggestions too. I've sometimes used a slightly different approach, and by "slightly different approach" I mean "cheat".

 

snip

 

This is good to keep in mind too, though I'd say it should be used very sparingly.  Also, I've been known to completely ignore an NPC roll for story reasons.  For example: my group has a goblin sidekick kinda buddy that I'm running as an NPC.  He's basically got Stockholm Syndrome and is helping the party fight giants.  They're upset that he's never actually gotten a killing blow on anything, so at some point when I have a monster (NOT the Big Bad) at low HP, I'll roll for his attacks/damage, ignore the actual rolls, and just say he killed the monster.  It'll make the party (and NPC) happy, and it'll be a fun story element to the game.  

 

BUT!!

 

I have to reiterate: do this SPARINGLY.  It's a fun plot device if it makes sense, but it gets really predictable if you do it all the time. 

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2 minutes ago, Fenyx said:

 

Glad I'm not the only one lol, though I wasn't sure how to explain that one without sounding like "meh, I completely plan the whole thing out and they technically have no actual choice sometimes". You nailed it though! Sometimes you simply need them to know something, and it needs to feel like they actually discovered it, even if they didn't, in order to drive the narrative. And it definitely feels different to have the DM say that you notice something and the roll and be told you've discovered something important. And sometimes that method will remind players to start looking for things, to start asking about even the simplest things, to really slip into the skin of their character.

 

I think there's a shared fiction that the players have to buy into about plots and adventures and pretending that it's a much more open world with a lot more free choice and a lot more randomage than there really is. It's no fun playing if you acknowledge for a moment that the whole world revolves around your characters, and everything is set up for you to just about succeed at everything you do!

 

I think it's pretty common for very new DMs to want to do everything by the book and be a bit reluctant to "cheat", because that's what they've always done as players - follow the rules - and perhaps that's what they've seen (or think they've seen!) GMs do. Also, if they follow the rules they can't be accused of getting it wrong - they've run it mechanistically and it's all down to chance. The problem is that it takes up a lot of mental energy to be constantly thinking about rules and mechanics which then isn't spent on being entertaining and building an atmosphere or being creative or descriptive. But perhaps it's a bit like jazz music and other forms of art.... maybe you need to know the rules and be confident in them before you can start breaking or ignoring them.

 

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21 minutes ago, Rostov said:
 

perhaps that's what they've seen (or think they've seen!) GMs do.

 

Ah yes. Most players don't really question the DM screen or the hidden virtual dice roller. I like to mix it up and make faces. Then sometimes give the "oh it's a 1" face then reveal the 20, and vice versa, to keep em guessing lol.

 

And sometimes, regardless of the roll, you've got to put a player in check. Sometimes the vial in their head explodes. Even if you rolled a 1. So I advise the idea of keeping you own important rolls hidden, just in case a tweak does need to happen, though it's another tool to use sparingly.

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59 minutes ago, Rostov said:

I think it's pretty common for very new DMs to want to do everything by the book and be a bit reluctant to "cheat", because that's what they've always done as players - follow the rules - and perhaps that's what they've seen (or think they've seen!) GMs do. Also, if they follow the rules they can't be accused of getting it wrong - they've run it mechanistically and it's all down to chance. The problem is that it takes up a lot of mental energy to be constantly thinking about rules and mechanics which then isn't spent on being entertaining and building an atmosphere or being creative or descriptive. But perhaps it's a bit like jazz music and other forms of art.... maybe you need to know the rules and be confident in them before you can start breaking or ignoring them.

 

One of the very first things the DMG says (in 5e at least) is to change the rules if the situation calls for it.  

 

They're more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules - They're more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules  Barbosa Rules

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Poking my head in to say hello! I'm a long time DM, currently running two 3.5 homebrews that take place within 20 years of each other. Sadly we're on hiatus till my school year ends, but I would love to talk shop with people/add in my two cents when I can. Also looking into what system I should run when (if) I have time to start the NF DC area group.

 

So hello! :)

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4 hours ago, JessOfAllTrades said:

Poking my head in to say hello! I'm a long time DM, currently running two 3.5 homebrews that take place within 20 years of each other. Sadly we're on hiatus till my school year ends, but I would love to talk shop with people/add in my two cents when I can. Also looking into what system I should run when (if) I have time to start the NF DC area group.

 

So hello! :)

 

Hello and welcome!!  I've only played Pathfinder (edition 3.75 basically) and 5th edition.  Of the two, I strongly prefer 5e.  It's far more story driven and straightforward to use.  That said, if you/your group likes minutiae, 3.5 is probably more your style.  

 

Either way, welcome to the madness!  Roll percentile to see which Madness Effect you are afflicted with.   :D 

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18 hours ago, Oramac said:

 

Hello and welcome!!  I've only played Pathfinder (edition 3.75 basically) and 5th edition.  Of the two, I strongly prefer 5e.  It's far more story driven and straightforward to use.  That said, if you/your group likes minutiae, 3.5 is probably more your style.  

 

Either way, welcome to the madness!  Roll percentile to see which Madness Effect you are afflicted with.   :D 

 

I've played 5e and enjoyed it thus far. I also appreciate how straightforward it is, which would be good considering I think most of the DC NFers who have expressed interest are new to tabletop gaming. Oh darn, guess that means I need to take some time and learn more about it. :D

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1 hour ago, JessOfAllTrades said:

I've played 5e and enjoyed it thus far. I also appreciate how straightforward it is, which would be good considering I think most of the DC NFers who have expressed interest are new to tabletop gaming. Oh darn, guess that means I need to take some time and learn more about it. :D

 

Oh darn, indeed.  Take a look at dndbeyond too.  It's WOTC's online database for 5e stuff.  They're still rolling out the beta, so it's not 100% complete, but it could be really useful for you. 

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I used to run a pbp here on the forums awhile back before I dissapeared. Actually see a couple of you guys in this thread!

 

I have run pathfinder, dnd, and am looking to rune some fate core soon.

 

I'm Def down to play some pbp if anyone wants to!

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I had a quick question.  Has anyone ever run or played F.A.T.A.L.?  The character creation is incredibly detailed, but the rest of the system seems a bit sparse.  

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On 5/18/2017 at 11:56 AM, Hymnusal said:

I'm curious to know how dungeon masters decide how easy/hard the arbitrary tasks/actions that a player may try should be to achieve, or how good a knowledge check needs to be to gather information, etc. We're going to be using pathfinder for our campaign. Also sorry if this is a really newbish question - I volunteered to lead my group's next campaign perhaps before really understanding what I was getting into

Quick chart I pull from Paizo's forums

  • DC 5 extremely easy task 
  • DC 10 easy task 
  • DC 15 average difficulty 
  • DC 20 difficult task 
  • DC 25 very difficult task 
  • DC 30 extremely difficult task 
  • DC 35+ all but impossible task

 

As for the general RPGs 
Savage Worlds is my go to game if I'm running though 5E would be my next game to run if folks wanted fantasy

 

That being said, Blades in the Dark looks to be GREAT fun

Quote

Blades in the Dark is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.
 

You and your fledgling crew must thrive amidst the threats of rival gangs, powerful noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the city watch, and the siren song of your scoundrel’s own vices. Will you rise to power in the criminal underworld? What are you willing to do to get to the top?

 

 

 

3 hours ago, Oramac said:

I had a quick question.  Has anyone ever run or played F.A.T.A.L.?  The character creation is incredibly detailed, but the rest of the system seems a bit sparse.  

Can't say I've played it - read a bit of it but didn't find it that interesting. 

 

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15 hours ago, Oramac said:

I had a quick question.  Has anyone ever run or played F.A.T.A.L.?  The character creation is incredibly detailed, but the rest of the system seems a bit sparse.  

The truth lies with 1d4 chan on occasions like that and from what I'm reading, it's probably a trolling take on insanely complex rules systems just for the sake of it.

 

If you want a really free form open (thus also complex) character creation backed by a system and game world worth the investment, try Mutants&Masterminds or 1st-3rd edition Shadowrun.

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