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Monthly Archives: March 2012

How to Deal With Low Stat Rolls

So you’re all psyched to get your dungeon on; you’re sitting around the table with your buddies, munching on Doritos and gulping Dew. There’s nothing like that electric feeling when you pick up those three to four dice, and roll them around your fist. There’s nothing like that breathless moment after you whisper sweet nothings into your closed fist, promising your dice whatever they want if they’d only put out like you want. So you roll the dice, as the DM and everyone else looks on…and realize that your dice are in one of their moods.

In the beginning, you tell yourself that they’ll come around for the next roll…those dice just need to be warmed up. But they stay cold like Christmas morning in Canada, and when the excitement is over you’re left with six of the worst stats you’ve ever seen and an increasing sense of disappointment. You ask the DM to reroll, but your stats are just above his minimum “playable” level, and you don’t want to rain on everyone else’s parade with whiny pleas or an angry rant. Besides, you really should have talked this out before everyone started rolling, if you didn’t want to risk low stats. Starting now would just make you a douche.

Fortunately, I’m here to tell you that there’s hope! There’s no reason you have to spend the rest of your campaign as the party sidekick, and here’s the secret…don’t get angry, get crazy! Here’re my steps to kamikaze reroll happiness:

Step 1: Use your stats to craft a doomed character. A ghost-dancer tribal warrior, a foolhardy swashbuckler, a brave wizard in the wrong profession; there are countless characters without a snowball’s chance in hell. If at all possible, sink your lowest stats into Wisdom, Constitution and Dexterity. And of course don’t wear armor!

Step 2: Without putting your party in danger, take the first opportunity to put your character in the dead-book. “I’ll create a diversion while you guys sneak around,” “Everyone run, I’ll hold them off!” are two favorites of mine. (Everyone likes a noble sacrifice.) If anyone questions your motive, just point to your low Wisdom and your character concept. “My ghost dance protects me from harm!” “Phaw, I don’t need my spells to dispatch lowly goblins!” Most gamers treat a low Wisdom and character concept as carte blanche to do whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t get other PCs killed.

Step 3: Roll up a new character! (Use better d6s this time.)

Warning: Some DMs unwittingly make it difficult to reach step 3, via liberal use of deus ex machina and dice fudging to keep PCs alive. This is frustrating, but it can work in your favor. Just think about it as your character would: “I guess I’m luckier than I thought, because I can’t seem to die no matter what I do…so I should be doing a whole lot more!” Throw caution to the wind. Bet big. Walk naked into the dragon’s den with the sure knowledge that you can’t die. And if your DM finally gets sick of saving you, see step 3!

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Posted by on 25/03/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Rose-Tinted Spectacles

Today’s post is a bit of a rant. See, as often happens during the time between a new D&D edition being announced and its arrival, speculation and wild hopes pop up on game forums everywhere. (Even in forums the pros are unlikely to ever read.) I’m sympathetic to some of it, but the way that some gamers perceive the game is frankly baffling to me.

Take ENworld’s current discussion about “going back” to having no expected wealth for 5e D&D. I guess a lot of DMs have had bad experiences with players who compare their PC’s gear with 3e’s wealth-by-level guidelines or 4e’s explicit guidelines for +X items. Inevitably, some of these DMs blame the guidelines for telling players that their PCs need magical items.

Well of course PCs need magical items; specifically +X items. It’s been that way since day 1. In early editions, many high level monsters completely ignore attacks from weapons under a certain bonus. And thac0 increases with monster HD, so fighters need magical armor to stay in the arms race. The only difference between expected wealth in TSR D&D and expected wealth in WotC D&D is that nobody pointed out the expectation in print before 3e. And nobody bothered to explain the +X item treadmill in print until 4e. But it’s always been there.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m totally sympathetic to the cries of “Down with +X items and expected wealth!” And it’s completely possible to do, for any DM worth his salt. Namely, these things have to be done together in order to work well. But unfortunately that isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime, if ever — D&D is just too married to +X items.

 
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Posted by on 11/03/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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