Tag: Wizard

Friday Night D&D – The War of Realms

Friday Night D&D – The War of Realms

Time to make a huge game. I think that there are a lot of interesting things that you could do with this idea, including something a long ways out there, which is have it played with multiple groups. In this game the different planes, fire, […]

Welcome to the Dungeon! – Why Use a Dungeon?

Welcome to the Dungeon! – Why Use a Dungeon?

Let’s go back to the beginning where we talked about what a dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons is.. A dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons is normally seen as a festering hole in the ground, like you’d end up with in classic games. Instead it really […]

Welcome to the Dungeon! – It’s a Trap

Welcome to the Dungeon! – It’s a Trap

Going slightly out of order of what I wrote in the first post about dungeons, but I think this one is useful to talk about early on because it is often a big factor with an ecosystem.

Image Source: Wizards

Traps are something that I haven’t used in my game all that often. I don’t use them all that often because they are hard to use. If you use them too often, players are going to start checking for traps every ten feet to avoid them, and that is also if they are too deadly. If they aren’t a threat and you use them rarely, it feels like a gotcha if you end up having a harsh trap in there that could take out of character of that has on-going damage.

But traps are a common part of Dungeons and Dragons. In particular, they are a common part of dungeons. So how do you add them to your game in a way that isn’t going to grind the story to a halt as players search for traps over and over and over again?

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Firstly, should traps be deadly? I think the answer to that should be potentially, or at least they should be taxing. A trap that does 2d6 to a 10th level character is nothing, unless you’re the wizard (and you shouldn’t be in front if you’re the wizard). So maybe the trap isn’t deadly, but maybe it gives you a condition, like poisoned that gives you disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks while you are poisoned. That sucks if you can’t take care of it, and if you can take care of it, that’s going to be using up a spellcasters resource, which is taxing on the part as a whole. Or you make them potentially deadly or at least damaging enough that you are again using up resources, such as with a a healer having to heal the rogue if they step in the trap.

But, secondly, this doesn’t deal with the issue of the players checking every ten feet for traps. So what do you do so that it doesn’t bog down the game? There are several solutions that can work, though some of them I like better with others. Let’s talk about the two that I don’t like as well first. You can tell the players that you’ll call for the roll when it’s needed. So they can’t ask for an investigation roll for traps, you’ll just do that when there is going to be a trap. The issue with this is that you have to set-up rules for how this is going to work. It’s going to be a single roll by the character who is in front. The whole party doesn’t get to roll otherwise it bogs everything down too much. Another option is to use their passive perception/investigation. Yes, there is such a thing as passive investigation, but don’t use it. The issue with this method is that you are going to have an idea of what their passive perception/investigation is, so you will know ahead of time which traps are going to hit them.

Finally, and this will lead into using traps in dungeons more so, is my new preferred method. In this method, you are going to describe where a trap is/or what type of trap might be in the hallway. Let me give you some examples. There is a resetting spike trap where spikes come out of the walls. Well, you describe a pile of old bones of someone in plate mail with giant spike holes in the armor. Now the players know there is a trap there, but they don’t know how it’s triggered, they don’t know how much damage it will do, beyond enough to kill that guy some time ago, and they don’t know how to get through. And since there is something that they need to get, they now have to figure out a way to get through and what triggers the trap, then maybe see if they can disarm it. Or, maybe they are in a dungeon in a volcano so there is lava running around. So in one of the hallways they see a partially closed pit trap where a burned skeleton is reaching out, and they see more floor tiles ahead of that color. Now it becomes a challenge for them to get across those spots without falling in. It also means that a lava trap, which would probably be deadly, can be deadly, because a bad roll and a slip onto the title can kill the PC because it isn’t a gotcha surprise.

So I’ve already started, in my preferred method, talking about some of the traps that make sense for a dungeon. But let’s talk about why ecosystems matter with traps. There is a good video that Nerdarchy did on traps (sorry don’t have the link), but in it they talk about a dungeon they had created, might have been a Dwarven dungeon, but now there were Kobolds and Goblins in it. All the traps when triggered released blades or arrows that were above the head height of a Goblin or Kobold, which is why they were able to live there. Or, you could also do that the Goblins and Kobolds were light enough not to trigger the trap. So if you have a gnome rogue, they might not trigger the trap, but the human will. You can see with traps that are triggered in that way, it’s going to make sense to have monsters running throughout. If you put Duergar in there, and they are tall enough to get hit, they would leave, because they couldn’t access more than a little bit of the dungeon. So the traps might determine the ecosystem in the dungeon.

Image Source: Pinterest

But with that, you also have to consider what traps the original creators of the dungeons would have put in there. If it’s a temple that is protecting a treasure, there is going to be some way for the priests to get down there without triggering all of the traps, so can your players figure out why that might be. Or if it’s a dungeon to keep something trapped inside, it could be that there aren’t many traps that trigger when you head into the dungeon, but coming back out might not have as many monsters to fight, but you’ll be dealing with all of the traps. Also, a wizard is going to have a whole lot more inventive traps than say a noble might because the wizard can just naturally set-up traps that have magical effects, where as a noble is going to have to pay someone if they aren’t/weren’t a magic user themselves, and it might be easier to just go with non-magical traps.

Finally, I think another thing to consider is if you want the traps to reset or not. Some traps are going to be one and done traps that then have to be manually reset, and if there is no one upkeeping them, the adventuring party is going to run across some traps that are already triggered that they won’t have to worry about. Some traps are going to be self resetting and probably magical in nature, even if the trap doesn’t deal magical damage. These the players are going to see the results of the damage, but not what the trap is in particular.

As you can tell, using traps is a tricky proposition, but I think one that is worthwhile. I do like, besides maybe traps that use minor resources, like a little healing or poison the party, being ones that the players can tell are there, and the challenge isn’t if they can spot the trap, but whether or not they can get past it without triggering it, or if they can figure out how to disable it. Those will work better than having a wizard accidentally trigger a trap and dying.

What do you think of traps in a D&D game? Do you use them if you run a game?

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Welcome to the Dungeon! – Who is in your Dungeon?

Welcome to the Dungeon! – Who is in your Dungeon?

Next thing we’re going to look at with your dungeon is to look at the ecology of your dungeon. I talked about it a little bit in the what is your dungeon, but it used to be that dungeons would have all sorts of monsters […]

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Elves

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Elves

I figured I’d go next for playing Dungeons and Dragons and talk about playing the different races. Previously I’ve done series on classes and backgrounds, but there’s another piece to your character creation, and that is picking your race. For this series, I’m going to […]

Playing Your D&D Character – 301

Playing Your D&D Character – 301

The last part of playing your D&D Character, there is no 401 for this course.

To me there are three main parts that I wanted to talk about. The first was figuring out how to be in character and staying in character as much as possible. The next was figuring out who your character is. What are some signature things about them that you can role play into.

Finally, I want to talk about having your own character arcs in your Dungeons and Dragons game.

Image Source: Wizards

Now, a lot of the time, players, following my recommended character creation, put in story hooks for their Dungeon Master and those are the things that they are really going to use for character progression. And with those things, you can get awesome character progression. But, if it develops slowly, or isn’t the precise hook that the DM is using for your character, it can feel like your character is stagnating and hasn’t changed at all.

Obviously that is less than ideal, so when creating your character, you have to be thinking about, what character arc do I want to take my character on, even outside of what the DM might be doing?

Maybe I start out with a character who hates the idea of adventuring. They are a wizard book worm who was kicked out of their tower for some reason, probably because they have a necromancy spell on their spell list, or maybe because they only ever wanted to learn and not use their magic for anything useful. So now they are out adventuring and dragging their feet. You don’t need the DM’s help to make that characters first story arc one of them learning how to enjoy or at least complain less about adventuring.

That could be a pretty big arc for the character and maybe eventually it’s that they do want to go adventuring, but it should be somewhat obvious, with how I talk about character creation and playing your character, once one arc is done, that doesn’t mean that is where your character ends.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Now, you have to pick out your second arc, and pretty often that can be tied into your first arc. In the case with my wizard who is now gung-ho for adventuring, they are going to be too gung-ho. Now they are putting themselves in dangerous situations, and the more times it works out for them, the more risky they become. Then eventually they are going to get knocked down and knocked out of a fight because they think they are too powerful to have that happen to them.

From there you could go into your third arc a couple of different ways. You could kind of mirror the first arc with the wizard regaining some confidence to a normal amount of confidence with adventuring. Or you could have their confidence shaken but them believing that there is one spell out there that they need to know. So when they are in a town, they go to the library to research, if they find a dead wizard with her book still, they read through it in hopes of finding that spell to copy into their wizarding book. And with that let your DM know what you are looking for and you might get it eventually, or maybe the DM doesn’t want to have that spell in their game, so you can then spend some time with the character wrapping up that arc by eventually realizing that they have other spells that are powerful as well, kind of going back to the other arc where it mirrors the first.

Let me also say, you don’t plan out every arc like I have done there. That is probably good enough arc wise to get your adventurer into the middle levels. But you plan out one arc at a time. Anything more than a single arc planned at a time is a bit tricky. You might have some idea as to where you want to forward, but you don’t know how the game is going to go. When you know you’re getting close to the end of one of your own personal character arcs, you can start thinking about the next one, but you certainly don’t have to.

Also, there are no hard cutoffs on several of the arcs I tossed out there, and there probably won’t be with your arcs either. In the case of my wizard, them getting to enjoy adventuring, there is no specific cutoff point where now that arc is done. How much enjoyment do they have to have for it to be considered done is completely subjective. Same with how long it would take for the wizard to realize that they don’t need the spell. Getting knocked down/out has a specific end, but you don’t know when that will happen in game, just that it most likely will, because wizards don’t have many hit points.

Finally, this is your character arc that you are using for role playing purposes. This doesn’t all of a sudden become the whiny wizard hour. It’s something that you sprinkle in sparingly to your role playing. If the wizard was kicked out of the tower to actually do something good and then they’ll be let back in, the wizard is going to go along with the adventure and the party, just grudgingly, and the spell list at the start might be pretty bad. But don’t go kicking and screaming into every new part of the adventure, toss in a line here and there about adventuring, or about how going into the woods is going to be horrible for your asthma, and things like that, but don’t derail the game and hog the spotlight for your characters arc that you are working on. The arc is supposed to be something to help make your character feel like more of a living character than just a plain old hero like you get in bad fantasy books.

Image Source: Wizards

With all of this now, you should have a character who you play in character, who has some ticks and quirks that you can play into, and that grows and changes throughout the campaign. Getting all of those things in place and with good balance takes practice, so if you have trouble with an arc or an accent, that’s fine and expected as you learn to role play.

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Building a D&D Player Character – 101

Building a D&D Player Character – 101

I’ve done a lot of in depth posts on the different backgrounds and classes from the core book, and I’ve done some posts on building out characters before, but I wanted to come up with the simplest way of how to create a character. By […]

D&D Campaign: Session 1

D&D Campaign: Session 1

Alright, I said I was going to talk about town building, but I am going to wrap that into what I would then do to plan session one. I think that a fair amount of my work is already taken care of when it comes […]

D&D Campaign Building: The Hook

D&D Campaign Building: The Hook

Every D&D game that you’re going to run is going to have some sort of hook for the players. To me, this is a two part thing. The players have to be willing to invest in the story as it gets going, even if that takes a little bit of time, but as the DM, you also have to be able to build a hook that gets them involved in the game fast enough.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

In the story that I’m creating, I started talking about what is going to lead into the hook. That’s the two opposing factions, that of the state sanctioned noble and the wizard who lives in the tower. This doesn’t mean that this is the whole plot, that will probably be the next article on the big bad, but it’s going to start leading into that.

Now, I don’t know what my players are leaning towards playing yet, again this is a hypothetical gaming example to show how it could worked and how I go about my process. Let’s assume that I have a pretty standard group of four or five players. In a four player game they suggest you have a party of a fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric so you got your basis covered. That’s a bit boring but not that outside of the normal.

I’d also have used a session zero for the players to determine how they know each other and how they are tied into the town. Let’s assume that the fighter and rogue go to the cleric fairly often for healing and to pay their respects to the deity that the cleric follows. The Wizard has worked with the rogue and fighter on some odd jobs, and knows the cleric in passing but doesn’t really agree with her, but also doesn’t just follow what the powerful wizard wants.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

In the town there are tensions because the wizard has declared that people need to bring her gems and other items for some magical spell otherwise something bad will happen. The noble in the area is strongly disagreeing with that as that would cut into what the people would have to pay for taxes. So, what are the players going to do, a lot of the people in the town are not giving their gems tot he wizard who hasn’t said anything more than her vague threat. So now there’s a lot of struggles as to what is actually going to happen in the town, who will win out.

So how does this affect the players? Obviously there’s a line being drawn in the sand and riots happening and people are upset on both sides because some people don’t want the bad thing the wizard says is going to happen to happen, and others don’t want to lose their jewels. The temple itself has a number of jewels. The temple is now paying the fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric to defend against the riots and those on the wizards side who might want to steal the jewels. The riots have come to the church doors with the wizards side certainly trying to get the jewels, but the other side worked up and looting as well.

Which side do the players help? They are getting paid to help one side, but that side seems better equipped. They can’t fend off both sides as they push against the door of the temple, they are going to have to try and divert the riot one way or the other away from the temple, but by doing so, they are going to have to either help those who are more supporting the noble or those who are more supporting the wizard, or they can let the gems be taken.

So there’s the hook, the players have been tasked with something before the game started that is now actively going on. Even though the fighter, rogue, and wizard might not be directly invested in the conflict, though I’d probably give the wizard a gem of some sort to start the game, because you know the player will be greedy as well, since they have a pre-existing relationship with the cleric, they will want to help them.

What happens with the different ways that the players can take the hooks?

If they join forces with the wizards side, the wizard or some emissary will definitely come knocking on the door, thanking them for the help and demanding the jewels. The noble will be annoyed as well, as that will mean that more people’s jewels are in the hands of the wizard.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

If they join forces with the nobles side, the wizard is going to be pissed off at them, but the noble would likely see that they are capable and level headed and give them more work.

If they decide to take on both, neither side is going to be all that happy with them, and the church won’t be happy with them, so they are going to have to figure out how to get back into the good graces of someone. In particular with the cleric, how is she going to get back into the good graces of the temple?

Now, I’ve given myself a whole lot more work now, because I don’t know what direction the players are going to go. I don’t think that this actually changes who the big bad will be in the story, but it will change up what sort of quests they have to go on surrounding that. And I haven’t actually changed up too much for the planning of the game. I’m mainly looking to create those big story points that are going to be consistent throughout the whole thing. It also works because the conflict and a little bit of immediate before and after makes up a solid first session. There’s going to be some fighting, there is going to be some role playing ahead of time, there is going to be some time for them to plan, and there is going to be that quick immediate fallout that happens in the game.

Alright, now we’re going to be moving onto the big bad. That’s probably going to be some of what is going on in the background, or maybe it is the wizard? We’ll find out in the next article.

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D&D Campaign Building: Magic

D&D Campaign Building: Magic

So a couple of days ago I started building out a D&D Campaign – the first part can be found here. I want to try and write on it and add in more things a couple of times a week at least, might be more […]