Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Skill Focus #1

Welcome to this the first of my Skill Focus blog entries. The pun is intended, and spotting the pun is the first test of your D&D credentials. These articles with examine some of the details and tricks relating to the use of skills in D&D 3.5 to help players make the most of these. The details for these skills won't be fully mentioned here, as this may violate the open license, and so they will have to focus on generalities. In our first instalment we are going to have a quick look at using Knowledge skills to identify creatures.

The DC to identify the creature and gain knowledge on its special powers and vulnerabilities is based on its HD (and therefore, in theory, its rarity). The more you exceeded this DC, the more pieces of information you know about the creature. The DM will calculate this DC for you and will also chose which pieces of information you know. This give the DM control over how much advantage you gain from this skill (but a good one will use it fairly).

Every monster and/or race in D&D has a Type, and this type determines which skill you need to identify that creature. These are listed below:

  • Arcana - constructs, dragons, magical beasts
  • Dungeoneering - aberrations, oozes
  • Local - humanoids
  • Nature - animals, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants, vermin
  • Religion - undead
  • The planes - elementals, outsiders
As you can see, some skills can identify more types than others, but if the adventures are well balanced, there will be a good mix of creature types so that no one person can do all the identifying.

That concludes this first Skill Focus. I hope you find it useful, and that it answers some common player questions. Look out for the next instalment.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Death and Trapses

It's funny sometimes how things don't always go the way the you'd expect. At the start of this blog I never thought I'd be considering that a band of kobolds would be a challenge for a party of 1st level adventurers, but there you go. Admittedly, the situation did aid the cunning little reptiles.

Small sling stones shouldn't cause too much damage you say? Well, not if you have to move across a section of open land, and your enemies are safely behind barred windows. A war of attrition is not good when you have hardly any hit points.

I'd never seen the 'critical hit are worse for players than DMs' rule demonstrated so clearly as it was this week. Mind you, if the half-orc barbarian is going to charge through a trapped door, you should expect consequences.

Who shall prevail, our heroes or the kobolds? Only time will tell...

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Dark and Stormy Night

Well we've had our first session back playing 3.5 after a brief stint in 2nd edition (nostalgic, but a pain in the ass of a system). Having a group of 6 players again has reminded me how much harder it is to keep them all engaged as we play. Seems like adding more players increases the work load exponentially.

All round it was an interesting adventure (I hope). Stealing a premise from a stand alone adventure I managed to get round the all meeting in an Inn cliché and gave them all a reason to stick together. It was unfortunate that the sorcerer was the one to fall down the pit, as she didn't have many hit points to start with. But at least it added to the peril factor.

The damage reduction of some of the creatures threw up some difficulties for our gnome rogue however. As the small weapons just can't do anything if they are the wrong damage type. Could be that it was a good learning exercise for the players, as at least they have found out about DR early on, but I can't help but feel we might have to see what we can do to help the rogue feel helpless in these situations.

I was a bit sceptical about our sorcerer's spell choices, but in fact the use of colour spray and daze did help them in quite a few situations. I know the player got annoyed at a few creatures saving, but it's fair to say they may have prevented a few deaths with its use.

As a DM it's safe to say that you are always much happier when there players feel they may be at risk. This time round one character did almost die, but despite that they were still a bit gung-ho in their approach. Will have to see how well that works out for them all... just hope they don't expect me to save them.