Friday, April 3, 2015

Reader Mail Bag

Welcome to my first Reader Mailbag. Instead of your usual programming, today I’d like to answer some questions from a few fellow DMs. Let’s get to it!

From Mike:
So I designed the town with a number of secrets and plot hooks in various sections. I wanted them to have options instead of being forced down a single road. The party split up and found various things. They didn’t really pursue a single option though. They kept finding different plots and doing a little investigation into each, but not enough to get to an encounter. They must have discovered five potential lines before they followed one enough for an encounter.
One player liked a different option more, and pursued that one alone while the other three did the one they picked.

My thoughts:

There are a few different things you can do - without railroading - to get your players away from endless window shopping when looking for quests. A post at Hack & Slash on Time Structures comes to mind. Drop some consequences for letting time go by. For example, my players did a job for the trade boss of Haven, Count Ransid. Unknowingly they transported corpses to a workshop. Of course, one of them had to look inside coffin sized boxes. After collecting payment they went back to the workshop and burnt the place down (it’s starting to become their signature, sigh). They thought they got paid and managed to stop something evil happening but it wasn’t over .The consequence - *spoilers* (my players like to read the blog) - was that the Count hired assassins to find and kill the culprits.
Another problem you seem to have is when the players split the party. Again let there be consequences. The consequences don’t have to punishment, but choices are only meaningful if they have a result that directly affects the players. The last time my players split the party, half the group ended up running into some trouble and were heavily outnumbered. A fight broke out, and instead of having half the players sit around and watch the fight I had them divvy up the NPCs and take control. I was amazed to watch those players not pull any punches. In fact, they played the NPCs deadlier than I would have. Even in a non-combat encounter, give players control of some NPCs, otherwise they’re just sitting there with nothing to do.
Now what if the player playing the NPC will have some spoilers revealed since you need to tell them what to do? Take the player(s) aside and coach them on how to roleplay the situation. You don’t need to tell them why an NPC is doing x or saying y, just that they’re saying it. If it ends up you’re going to spoil something for that player no matter what, then either pick a player who won’t mind, especially if the fun factor of roleplaying outweighs the reveal.

From Megamanzx on Civfanatics:
I am starting a 5e game in my own custom world (using the orbis modmod). The lore for the age of dragons/magic/ice remains the same, but i used the mod to generate the lore for the age of rebirth.... (this should make my questions easier).
The party is starting in Grigori controlled territory, so none of them decided to be clerics, but one of them wanted to be a paladin on the Oath of Vengeance and we were having trouble choosing a god for him to worship. The obvious choice is Junil, but with party members ranging from all walks of life, I see it as nearly impossible for a paladin of Junil to work well with a thief or warlock... since he's thinking of being a dwarf I thought of Kilmorph, but she is more a goddess of protection, whereas he wants to take the Oath of Vengeance... (for now I have said that there are a few of Kilmorph's followers who take a more direct approach towards the threat of Hyborem and the Infernals) but I want your input on which deities would fit the various paladin oaths, or should there be custom oaths for each god?
And in my game I took away the Dragon Blooded sorcerer class since dragons in FFH are so rare (usually entering late game) it wouldn't make sense for them to sire a whole bunch of children, not to mention they can't (as far as i know) take human form. So I was thinking of making a custom tweak as the heirs of Kylorin (or something) which is sorcerers who got their powers because they are the distant children of Kylorin's students... I also want to get a mind sorcerer who is the distant relative of Perpentach and completely insane.

My thoughts *minor spoilers for my player*:
Orbis is awesome. Using an FfH game as the campaign map is the same setup I used, too. It's pretty cool to fast forward a turn or two and see a barbarian attack or an event pop up, which gives me an endless source of new ideas for quests.
In my game, one of my players is a vengeance paladin as well and didn't want to pick a god. In the FfH mythos, people don't have to be devoted to particular god knowingly to be claimed by a god. Even though I would have liked my player to be devoted to Junil he kind of created his own religion, one that worships dragons, and I dropped in the game as a subsect of the Cult of the Dragon. Junil would fit vengeance nicely, but you don't have to assign paladins a god. Though, new oaths for each god would be cool. There's a great blog (Hack & Slash) which has made a few new Oaths. I think those could be some good examples for making new ones.
I think heirs of kylorin would be a really cool idea if you're willing to make that, just keep an eye towards balance and try to have abilities reflect things established in core books where you can. That was my approach to the new domains.
I wouldn't take away any options in the PHB, but adapt them. Like that Vengeance paladin I mentioned is a dragonborn, but there's no concept of dragonborn in FfH. Instead I've developed a secret as to why it exists, which in my game they are the leftovers of an experiment by one of Kylorin's students, Leucetios (the life mage). With all the wizard experiments going on in the age of magic, I went with dragonborn as the attempts to create a supersoldier. The lizardmen were the first stage but not good enough for the mage, and dragonborn were the result. However, I've decided dragonborn can't reproduce and the mage couldn't figure out a way around that so he abandoned the project. Randomly a couple of dragonborn are hatched a few generations by lizardmen, and are treated as blessed by whatever the lizardmen gods are. All the player knows is that he's a superior breed of lizardman, and doesn't know why he is different. Every few quests he discovers a new piece of the puzzle. This way I've adapted dragonborn into the FfH mythos in a friendly way without limiting player options.
If a player wants to be a dragon blooded sorcerer, maybe he's not the offspring of a long line of descendants of a dragon, but maybe he has some kind of link to Eurabatres. Or maybe another dragon has found a way to escape the Realm of Myth, if in spirit only. This way you don't limit your players and have a great secret for your players to unravel.

Have a question you’d like me to answer? Shoot me an email:

Every month I’ll devote a post to answering your questions (or more frequently if I get a lot of questions).


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