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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:37 pm 
 

red_bus wrote:I've seen the balance go too far the other way though - people boasting "oh, I've played for six years and we never got past fifth level" etc etc...  Which is kind of sad that some people never got the experience of playing characters up to higher levels.  

I have played in some very long running campaigns, where characters have managed (eventually) to rise to 14th- 17th levels, or even on occasions higher.  Good play at this levels tends to be much more on a diplomatic level with less 'dungeoneering' and more negotiating between sovereigns.  It is exciting to be running around at first level where even a single goblin can kill, and - run right - it can be fun at higher levels too.


     When it all comes down to it, you have to blend the wants of the players with your vision.  I've had groups that enjoyed tactical battles consisting of hundreds of foes at once; groups that enjoyed puzzles, tricks and traps; groups that like interactions with NPCs more than the actual adventuring, etc.  Likewise, some groups of players are more suited to playing higher level characters.  I always find it somehow annoying when a DM smugly brags about never having had an adventuring group over 5th level....what, are you killing them all off, or are you just too stupid to DM a higher level crawl?  It's like a badge of honor to wipe out your players? If they are having fun getting their characters destroyed I guess that's fine; most people I've gamed with the last 30 years or so dont' find that an enjoyable way of spending their time.
  If higher level play wasn't intended by the games creators, then why does the 1st edition AD&D PHB I have show spell selection for mages and clerics going up to 29th level? Why not just cap it off at say 18th level?  Not that I advocate higher level play like that....I've never actually been able to shepherd a party to even half those heights myself, but if that is someone's cup of tea...honestly, I never even had NPC baddies of that level, I think the highest level enemy spellcasters I ever ran were 18th level Liches (and even then keeping their spells straight was murder).
  This being said, our campaigns usually top characters out at 10-12th level.  The group I am running now consists of the original players I ran back in the late 70's and their original group; the characters are in the 12th-13th range with their henchmen about 6-7th level or so.  We only use them to game maybe a couple times a year or less (sometimes several years will go by without using this group). I have to say as a DM it is very challenging when you are dming so many high level characters with so many different powers; not to mention the NPC baddies who also have their own sets of spells, powers, magic items, etc.  I'm running them through a modified Against the Giants: Return to Geoff, and even by whittling the numbers of characters and henchmen down, it's hard to challenge a properly prepared and intelligent group of players.  I've managed to balance the adventures by bringing in quite a few shamans/witchdoctors among the enemy giants, but it's a good battle of wits whenever I play these guys and if I'm not up on my game they can thrash my best laid plans very quickly  
  While some of the most memorable gaming moments and fun I've had are the challenging lower level adventures, it is fun to explore the full range of powers available to higher level characters....after all, if you have dmed properly and the players have paid their dues, they deserve the rewards.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:57 pm 
 

Kaskoid wrote:
Gee, I must have missed something. Since when did the size of the party of adventurers have anything at all to do with the loot found?

Loot was an element of the setting or scene. If half a dozen PCs are slumming around some dinky little pissant/local bandit's hideout, and all he had managed to amass was a couple of rusty daggers, a rent hauberk and dented shield, and a handful of low quality stones worth a paltry 67 SP, that would be an object lesson to them that they should seek fame and fortune elsewhere.

It should be inherent logic that large hoards or payoffs present dire chances of disease, injury, death or dismemberment. It should not be the equivalent of six punks getting into the vault of Tiffany's through dumb luck and stumbling onto a stash of riches that would fix them up for life... As a DM, where's the fun in that?

As to the phenomenal luck with the Deck of Many Things, that was an aberration that the DM should have handled differently. No matter how your group visualized promotions, that was way too fast and sudden.

For the longest time, it seemed that some players saw going up in levels as some sort of process that saw Peewee Herman morph into Arnold Schwarzenegger, thereby having more blood to shed and gobbets of flesh to be carved off before succumbing to the cumulative effects of all those wounds. In reality, HP were supposed to represent the amount of time/fighting a PC could engage in/endure before falling victim to that fatal blow, acquired through experience.


This made me laugh...hard...because I've DM'd parties that would get pissy when they made no effort at all (the pissant local bandit's hidout of your example) and yet expected to be rewarded.  "Look, dudes, you broke into the Inn of the Happy Traveller and robbed it and yeh, you got a total of 10 gp, a handfull of silver and a bag of copper pieces to show for it....youwant loot, the dragon's lair is down the street."  
  The question of the Deck of Many Things above shouldn't have been how the DM should have handled it...it should have been what in Sam Hill was a DM putting a Deck of Many things in an adventure with 1st level characters?  I think most of the questions of level inflation fall under this category also.  It's a gamers/players nature to want the best magic items/spells/levels/items/gold etc for his character..it's human nature. If the characters are running around at 35th level, then it's the DM who is to blame for crapping that mess out.  Delayed gratification is only enjoyable when it's actually delayed....unfortunately most DMs BITD (and even now) didn't seem to understand this.  It's too bad it wasn't until recently (the last decade or so) that there has actually been published material on how to run a game, how to create a dungeon properly, how to roleplay monsters and bad guys, essentially how to be a good DM.  The earlier versions of the game (when I started) just took the idea and ran...I mean, you bought G1, and there was very little in there about how to play the giants, how to DM the module itself.  I think myself, and many other starting the game during that period, would have benefitted greatly from such material. Most of the early modules seem to be written for those who have not only just a grasp but a firm hold on the entire genre and material.  This was not the case in most groups I knew of.....I know you talk of "inherent logic" but really wasn't the expecting a bit too much of some 16 year old kid running a crawl for his buddies?  It's really too bad there wasn't more explanatory material BITD to prevent these problems.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:39 pm 
 

Been a while since I played 1E, but wouldn't any extra XP be lost? I would think 3rd level would be the best you would get.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:47 pm 
 

Deadlord39 wrote:Been a while since I played 1E, but wouldn't any extra XP be lost? I would think 3rd level would be the best you would get.


yeah i restrict xp when its time to go up levels n stuff.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:35 pm 
 

The question of the Deck of Many Things above shouldn't have been how the DM should have handled it...it should have been what in Sam Hill was a DM putting a Deck of Many things in an adventure with 1st level characters?


Unfortunately, all too many DM's just followed the simplistic tables published in the early books.

It's too bad it wasn't until recently (the last decade or so) that there has actually been published material on how to run a game, how to create a dungeon properly, how to roleplay monsters and bad guys, essentially how to be a good DM.


A great deal of what I published in DRAGON Magazine was just that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, when I left the mag, my successors let that type of materal die out.

If higher level play wasn't intended by the games creators, then why does the 1st edition AD&D PHB I have show spell selection for mages and clerics going up to 29th level?


In keeping with my inflation gripes, this I thought was obvious; I know we addressd it in articles published and at seminars at the cons: that stuff was for NPCs so that the PCs didn't take over and ruin the campaigns.

When the PCs just got too all powerful, the skies opened up and they were enthroned as demigods and retired. It was more fun getting them there than it was once you got there. The fun was in the struggle to survive and advance. The enjoyment was in the problem solving and the battles of the wit and intuition, not slaying hordes of crudbag badguys.


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:55 am 
 

Kaskoid, to answer your question re: the size of the party . . . most modules I see usually were/are designed for between four and eight players, so a game with the number of players/PC's I mentioned (9-12 players/11-16 PC's) was double the normal-sized party.
(Some current 3/3.5e modules seem to have a paragraph or two about increasing/decreasing the difficulty depending on the number of PC's; the Dungeon Crawl Classics series is one such set of modules.)

In the particular case I mentioned, the range went up to at least PC 12th level; I and one other player were the only 1st-level PC's, with the average level about 6/7th level.  (My fault; I should have said that  originally.)

The group I was in also played twice a week for the two years I was involved, during the school year--120-140 sessions over that two year period.  I don't know if that would make a difference or not, in terms of treasure and XP's.

As to the phenomenal luck with the Deck of Many Things, that was an aberration that the DM should have handled differently. No matter how your group visualized promotions, that was way too fast and sudden.


He did  :twisted: -- not long after (real time), I was teleported into a pool of acid, then I  rolled for divine intervention but rolled divine retribution! instead and my 7th-level character was fried! :lol:  
I guess I used up my good fortune on the deck--rolled 00 (100) on 2d% needing 01-05 for divine intervention!! :)

As to killjoy's point--at the time, I was happy to have a character beyond 2nd level :D ; now, as I posted earlier, I agree with you--probably the second draw should have been for an item instead of XP's.  Heck, the party I was with then were unanimous that I should take the 25,000 XP off the first draw and stop there! :)  :!:

==================================================================

Since we're on the subject . . . does anyone know which book(s) have a description of the deck of many things?  I remember seeing it somewhere in a 1e book, but can't remember where;  and, does it exist now in 3e/3.5e D&D?  Last, what levels should a party be at before finding a deck of many things?

  


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:06 pm 
 

Deadlord--is there usually a rule-of-thumb regarding XP's where a player should gain only one level per adventure; or something like a player can earn XP's up to just below going up a second level (or is that dependent on something else)?

  

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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:19 pm 
 

Well, the fact that a Deck was introduced to low level characters isn't really THAT bad. From a realism standpoint, it could very well happen. What I typically do with powerful items is create a history which runs right up to the time the characters discover the item.
Years ago I had a group of low/mid-level adventurers who found a Staff of the Magi on a band of orcs. I had randomly rolled the staff, and I do not usually change roll results. What I did was provide a history (for myself). The staff had belonged to a very powerful wizard, who was in a duel and had it randomly teleported by an opponent. It was found by a woodcutter, who was killed by the orcs. The wizard eventually caught up with the PC's and offered them a handsome reward for the staff, which they took, also gaining the friendship of the wizard. Had they decided not to take the reward, I would not have stripped the staff from them. I am not much in favor of campaigns that strip "excess" loot from characters. I prefer as much realism as possible, and that includes rich/powerful low-level characters as a possibility.
With the Deck, what could have been done is perhaps have all the cards coated with contact poison, or have it be the possession of a powerful creature who would be supremely pissed to see any cards missing. Or, have the experience points granted only after completion of a certain task. When the character drew a card, he/she took a chance on being utterly destroyed, along with other possible bad things, so the fact that he got a huge reward is the offset of the risk. What was clearly done wrong is allowing more than 1 level per card. You should have been 3rd level.


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:08 pm 
 

Memories probably a bit dodgey...

When you had enough experience for advancement to the next level, wasn't there an obscure guideline (not rule) that you needed to seek out an NPC of higher grade (I think 2 levels higher), to hone your skills to be able to get the higher level also, hence you couldn't suddenly get extra hp/spells etc in the middle of a crawl?


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:12 pm 
 

AdderMcOne wrote:Memories probably a bit dodgey...

When you had enough experience for advancement to the next level, wasn't there an obscure guideline (not rule) that you needed to seek out an NPC of higher grade (I think 2 levels higher), to hone your skills to be able to get the higher level also, hence you couldn't suddenly get extra hp/spells etc in the middle of a crawl?


That whole training thing is in the DMG. I never used it in my campaigns. One of our DMs did, and it was lame as hell.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:22 pm 
 

Thanks B, anyone else'e thoughts on it as well - if it was used and the best way they handled it.
I think it makes a kind of sense, but the practicalities of it were very hard.
One of our Dms tried, but it ended up being a pain in the arse.
There is a lot of opportunity for roleplaying but it would depend on the depth you wanted to take the realism aspect to.
We just wanted to get out there and get our hands dirty at that stage - eager low level characters taking on the world.


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:59 pm 
 

AdderMcOne wrote:Thanks B, anyone else'e thoughts on it as well - if it was used and the best way they handled it.
I think it makes a kind of sense, but the practicalities of it were very hard.
One of our Dms tried, but it ended up being a pain in the arse.
There is a lot of opportunity for roleplaying but it would depend on the depth you wanted to take the realism aspect to.
We just wanted to get out there and get our hands dirty at that stage - eager low level characters taking on the world.


I looked at gaining levels as more of a progressional thing. But within game terms, you have to have a system. So when characters acquire enough experience, they level up. I let PCs gain levels in the middle of an adventure without a second thought. Again, I just figured the character had been gaining "experience" throughtout and now he is better at what he does. The simple act of gaining a level was just the formality that had to be there for sake of a rules system.  Of course, spellcasters still had to rest and/or study/pray for their new spells. But everyone gained hit points and whatever else that was applicable.

I just never bought the arguement that characters had to train. It is not like they have some sort of experience bank account and when they accumulate enough they go find some powerful joker and trade their experience in for a level. Please.

Wizards had the hardest road because they had to find spells or buy them from other wizards.

All in all, I was never one to worry about things like the logic of gaining levels. If you got the exp, roll your hps and adjust your saves and to hit charts and let's move on ...


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:33 am 
 

In my campaigns, exp. was toted up at the conclusion of the adventure, not in the middle. That way, I sort of anticipated the training thing that we put into the DMG.

After all, how did you rationalize some PC running around looking to kill just three more orcs, or 4 goblins, or two fleeglebuntzels or whatever so that all of a sudden, in the middle of the third room entered on the second level explored, you got tougher? That was absurd. C'mon, you mean that halfway through fighting off a band of goblins you got better because your EPmeter hit an arbitrary number? Really... give me a break.


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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:52 am 
 

After all, how did you rationalize some PC running around looking to kill just three more orcs, or 4 goblins, or two fleeglebuntzels . . .


Kaskoid, I hope that a "fleeglebuntzel" isn't a new monster going to be in the new "Monster Manual V"! :D  :lol:  :!:  :idea:

  

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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:42 am 
 

Kaskoid wrote:In my campaigns, exp. was toted up at the conclusion of the adventure, not in the middle. That way, I sort of anticipated the training thing that we put into the DMG.

After all, how did you rationalize some PC running around looking to kill just three more orcs, or 4 goblins, or two fleeglebuntzels or whatever so that all of a sudden, in the middle of the third room entered on the second level explored, you got tougher? That was absurd. C'mon, you mean that halfway through fighting off a band of goblins you got better because your EPmeter hit an arbitrary number? Really... give me a break.


How do you rationalize ANY sudden jump in multiple abilities, at any time? Why would it be at the end of an adventure? The PC retires to a tavern to rest after killing orcs, and suddenly realizes he is better/stronger/faster? This is exactly why I developed a skill-based system. PC's CAN gain abilities on the spot, but only in the skill they are currently using. They don't gain 10 HP, +1 to attacks and damage, and the ability to summon giant butterflies all at once. That throws realism out the door no matter WHEN they acquire the abilities, if they are all acquired simultaneously.
In the end, I think each DM and player group has to go by what Gygax intended: the rules are GUIDELINES, not dogma. If someone wants to allow a PC to go from level 1 to 7, so be it, as long as the group is enjoying the game.


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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:36 am 
 

I find the best place to tot up XP and gain levels is during a logical break in the adventure. An extended R&R period during which a MU can find time to research and others can find time to train.

XP I see as a reflection of what the PC's have learned and the excersize they have undergone.

I split XP into XP gained from the adventure, and XP gained from treasure. I apply adventure XP after a 2 week R&R period (sometimes less), and I apply the treasure XP on a discretionary basis when the PC's make descisions on how to use/spend/invest their gains. They get no XP for amassing anything over 100gp. It's just a big box of cash. If a fighter decides to build a stronghold, barters with the locals and sets the project in mothion, he will gain a corresponding value of XP for his troubles. If a Magic User investigates a magic item, maybe buys in a little expertise or consults on the matter, he'll gain the XP corresponding to the item's value.

It's all a DM's call at the end of the day. You just have to find your own way to maintain ballance and pace.


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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:31 am 
 

Kaskoid wrote:In my campaigns, exp. was toted up at the conclusion of the adventure, not in the middle. That way, I sort of anticipated the training thing that we put into the DMG.

After all, how did you rationalize some PC running around looking to kill just three more orcs, or 4 goblins, or two fleeglebuntzels or whatever so that all of a sudden, in the middle of the third room entered on the second level explored, you got tougher? That was absurd. C'mon, you mean that halfway through fighting off a band of goblins you got better because your EPmeter hit an arbitrary number? Really... give me a break.


         Years ago, after running through L1 and tallying experience one night, one of my brother's characters was about 50 Exp pts of of going up a level. Everyone else in the party had leveled except for him, he was pleading with me to send a couple of orcs or skeletons against him so he could go up.  I explained that it didn't make "game sense" to have a couple of creatures lurch out of the shadows of Restenford just so he could grab some experience pts; but soon the other members got in the whining so I gave in, as long as it was his player alone in just the condition he was now (no resting and getting new spells).  I believe he was a cleric, I sent a couple of skeletons against him.  His turn failed, then the skeletons proceded to beat the living crap out of him!   I don't think he hit them once. They just kicked the snot out of him and left him lying in the dirt outside the tavern in Restenford.  I let the other party members find him before he bled to death, at this point we were all laughing our ass off although my brother was so pissed I remember he just grabbed up his books and left in a huff (he thinks it's funny now though with 20 years to think back on it....)  Anyway, no one ever asked me for such a special favor ever again (the group was quite superstitious, if something you did got your clocked cleaned against all odds everyone else avoided it also...).
    I never used training as described in the books, I just figured that was non-game stuff that was boring to roleplay, so I'd say something like "Your mentor teaches you some new spells, you are now 5th level". I did use the idea of mentors quite a bit, a grizzled old fighter or scholarly mage that would take the party of characters under his wing and "teach" them stuff about life.  They would never actually go on adventures, but they would have advice about how to fight monsters, they might have a +1 dagger or set of platemail squirreled away to loan to the party, or minor curing powers to help out the party in need. After about 5-7th level they were experienced enough not to have to rely on a mentor (as well as being higher level at that time) so they would fade into the background, I did have a few memorable storylines involving mentors.
  I like Deadlord's idea; I wish I had thought of that during the day.  Sounds like a lot of extra work though that I would have been too lazy to do.  But I do like the idea; if your thief doesn't Hide in Shadows the entire adventure, why does this suddenly get better while his other skills he might have used don't?  I did have a somewhat similar rule, I said a fighter character (or any character, actually) that wanted proficiency in a new weapon had to USE that weapon in combat at least once (with all the attendent negs).  I mean, suddenly the Fighter who has never even SEEN a halberd can whip one around like an expert?  I know it's a fantasy game, but still....

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Post Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:57 pm 
 

It really depends on what you want out of the game. If you want to just have fun, whatever rules you like will work. If you want realism, the rules do require major custom tweaking.


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Post Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:33 pm 
 

Just re-discoverd this old thread while looking for something else..some fun stories on there, thought some of the "newbies" here might want to read.  Anyone else got any "back in the day" tales?????

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:52 pm 
 

I remember back when I was introduced to the game as a kid all we had were paper, pencils and a handful of six siders for dice.

The guy who first introduced me and my friends to the game had parents who were very strict Baptists, and they absolutely FORBADE him to play D&D as it was "demonic"  (I'm sure I've mentioned this before on this forum)

He had a couple of books and some dice but he had to hide them all the time so his parents wouldn't confiscate them.   Of course none of us had any of that stuff,  so we'd just play games from his memory of the rules and our collective imagination.  We raided all our boardgames for six sider dice and used them to make rolls, adjusting all the numbers accordingly.  For instance, if you had to roll a twenty, you'd toss 4 D6. Etc.  We drew up everything by hand in pencil on notebook paper.  We made our own char sheets, dungeon maps, everything, from scratch.

Of course, it wasn't too long before we began to acquire real books and dice, etc.  But some of the best memories I have of playing (and in general)  are of these improvised pickup games with really nothing at all.

  
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