What I Did Wrong at D&D: June 1, 2016

A new month, a new set of mistakes! This is Week 13 of Shop D&DBut not as many as last time! I took a week off to ride a train for 52 hours and when I came back, I didn’t have a bit done for D&D. I did most of that today. And while I prepared some useful things, I think that I could have done better in places and now, in hindsight, I can identify some of those places. So let’s get started.

brownbear First, I finally made the Druid Wild shape cards I’ve been wanting to make for, like forever. I used a MtG format, for double the WotC copyright infringement. But I also knew that if I did base it off of that size, I could do the old “printed proxy with a crappy card behind it in the sleeve” trick and give them some weight and substance. I stole the pictures from the internet and used some random card creator. This was not a thing I did wrong, except that I should have done this like, 3 months ago.

Also, in terms of doing things right, I had a premade fighter for a guy. I need to type those up and make it more presentable, but I get a gold (okay, silver) star for that previous goof up.

But this isn’t what I did right. That’s not the point of this here. This is what I did wrong.

First: Tried to win a fight I couldn’t win. When I started the Vampire of Mosray, I wanted to show the druid what a druid could truly do. Then I didn’t finish in time and we had a crazy amount of people at the final fight, instead of the smaller number I had been hoping for. And so the blow by blow with the druid didn’t really happen. And I had seen it coming. I should have relized the playing it legit that I had wanted to do just wasn’t going to work, so I should have done more to soup up the villians and make it work better. Instead I locked myself into numbers I couln’t sustain. And Fireball and Conjure Animals did me in, like they always do.

(Hey, Matt! Why is Conjure Animals as battle wrecky as fireball? Well, its to do with Action Economy a fun phrase I’ve been saying too much in wrong usage. Basically, when the party summons 8 snakes, my mobs have 8 attacks that don’t hurt the party, even without factoring in the damage and restraining and such that the snakes can do.)

Second: I didn’t plan the next step. Okay, I said at the game that I couldn’t see the ending of the fight, and so I couldn’t plan for after the fight. While that was true, I was done wrong. What I should have done was figure the Five Paths that the combat encounter could have led to. I should make a quick list of possible path ideas. One I considered was Da Cops!, where some type of law enforcement heard the fight and breaks in the door and fur and feathers fly. Surprise Corporate Inspection was another venue I easily could have gone down. Bomb Goes Off was a Path I had considered and toyed with a bit. More on that one later. Other ideas to get to the made up number 5? I dunno. Actual reinforcements, maybe? I might muck about on TvTropes and see what I can rustle up.

Bottom line, I should have had these established paths that the chaos of battle and aftermath were channeled into. It’s much easier to lead people to a hook if you have one ready. Instead, I get to start next week with a transition wipe that I don’t really want to write ATM. Especially as someone secretly has the MacGuffin.

I also think I should have prepared a good chase scene, with the flying cleric and the fast monk and seen if having that on tap led into anything interesting.

Third: Split the Table. We had NINE people at the table. That is a lot. Not only in a D&D party (balanced around 4-5 players) but just around the table. Too many conversations going on, too hard to hear what’s happening, too long between turns, too much potential for Loud players to overrun Quiet players. And loot is hard to distribute and a multitude of other problems. And when there are 3 established DMs in the room, having only one of those be running isn’t a crime, per se, but is definitely wrong.

Fourth: If you’re going to write something on the character sheet, use it! So in an effort to prevent the Hold Person debacle, I wrote an out for my villains. Here it is, verbatum:

Black legion Brand Auto save on 1 effect, 1 per day. On being questioned, the wearer will die and dissolve into black goop

So I should have saved vs the Fireball. Or something. I didn’t use either of these effects. Or this effect on either character.

Fifth: Poking the Bomb. Is it really a flaw to take pleasure in the poking at the obvious trap routine? Yeah, maybe. I think the Jade Statue may be beyond the scope of what I want to run here (especially because I’ve been making up things with it as I go) I do have an end to campaign run. It may be 3 arcs away. It really depends on how much trust the party has accrued with the Blue Fox Organization. Part of which depends on how the transition wipe goes. Bleh.

Poking the bomb is a thing I’ve done before though, and I can tell it confuses players. Its a position of pure improv on my part and it is a rush, but there’s no structure. “Here is a thing,” I say. “It is like this and is obviously a trap” and the party looks at it. They don’t want to fall in the trap, but they know they should investigate. So they try to investigate in a way that doesn’t drop the roof on them. Except I don’t know what the triggers are. There is potential for the roof to fall. A careless use of disenchant, for example, would have set off the thing. There are lethal avenues. But the party is going to avoid them and we just kind of dance around each other until either the danger is passed or the danger is triggered.

I don’t know if this is something wrong. Its unpredictable, to say the least. I’ve done similar as a player and I recall it felt like I was in a cage with shrinking walls. I kind of was, there, but that’s not important.

Conclusion: All in all, it was a better week than last time, but that wouldn’t be hard. I gave out some cool loot a displacer beast, TP pellets, a musical instrument and set of magic armour that has a lot of DM fodder attached.

See you next week!

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