Session 0: What to expect, how to play, rare house rules.
I don't expect that any of the players that will join this module will have ever played D&D 5e or Played by Post. This will also be my first go at being a DM. Mistakes are going to be made. Feel free to point them out. If they are too far back, they'll remain. If the mistakes are recent, I may try to fix them. Feel free to question anything you think is incorrect.
For the most part, the rules will be interpreted as written in the various published 5e content. (RAW = Rules as Written) There will be a few exceptions:
Death. Players can die. They can also be resurrected. I'm going to adopt the Critical Role mechanic of a ritual to pull the soul back to the body. That means party members need to contribute to the ritual and to do that, they will have to role play some form of attachment or knowledge of the deceased. Players should create backstories for their characters, and you should interact with other players to discover their character's backstories. You'll be able to pull from the knowledge of their backgrounds as well as shared adventures to make resurrection possible.
Natural 1's are only automatic fails. Nothing horrible is going to happen, although as a DM I may add flavor to your failure by describing something negative, like: "Your grip falters and your sword slips out of your grasp, falling to the ground 10 feet away." Other times, what you are trying to do may just not happen, even if it's a sure thing. Example: You have to pick a lock with a difficulty of 5. You have a lock picking skill of 6. You still have to roll a d20, just in case you roll a 1, the only way you can fail.
Natural 20's are critical hits or critical successes. In the Player's Hand Book (PHB), it says that on a critical you roll double the dice then add your modifiers for damage. In face to face D&D sessions, some players get LOTS of dice, so doubling them can get tedious. The convention a lot of players agree to is to roll the dice as usual, and double the result, then add modifiers. We're doing to do the same here. Just double the result.
These forums have macros built into them to roll dice as well as reference all abilities, skills, spells, actions, etc.. When you post your plans, link your action so everyone can read the description of what you are doing. They may gain a benefit that they can take advantage of and having it there for everyone to read makes things easier for everyone. I will cut and paste instructions from the forums on how to link these "tooltips" as well as roll dice in the next post below.
Session 0 is meant to be a back and forth between players and the DM to obtain an understanding of how the game will be run and what to expect. This is what I ask of my players:
Your characters need to have some form of motivation to work as a team.
In party combat should be kept to a minimum. Everyone wants to contribute their own input. If a magic user uses magic to make another player's character do something, that takes away from the other player's fun. These kinds of things should be rare, during socializing type encounters where it can be humorous, but rarely if ever during combat. Fight the bad guys, not yourselves.
I'm not going to role play sexual encounters. You can go to a brothel or you can seduce someone with your charm and wit, but a success or a failure is as far as it will go.
Post once a day. Vacations happen and advanced warning is appreciated. Life happens too, for all of us. Missing a day here and there is not going to hinder anyone. But frequently missing days will be an issue and you will be testing everyone else's patience. Be courteous, you agreed to play, it should only take 15 minutes or so per day.
I will only wait 24 hours for a post by a player. If there is no post, I will make their character take a defensive action like dodge and move along in the initiative order.
To allow all of you access to more races, more class specialties, backgrounds and so on, I have shared all the digital content that I own. Unfortunately, I can't choose what I share. It's either all of it, or none of it. That means you have access to the module we are going to play and you have access to the monster manual with monster stats. Cheating by knowing what is coming and fundamentally knowing the enemies you're fighting is very easy to accomplish.
You are also roleplaying a character. If you choose to be strong, and left your intelligence score low, then your character won't be too bright. He may get swindled when paying for stuff (on his own). He won't know the things you as a player knows.
Having your character do things he couldn't possibly know to do, is METAGAMING. Here's an example:
Your party is in a dungeon and the rogue is sneaking ahead. He finds a lone sentry, half asleep. He decides to try and assassinate the sentry, and almost succeeds. But the sentry, being ambushed, panics and runs... straight towards the room the rest of the group is waiting in.
The player playing the fighter realizes the sentry is heading towards him, so he readies an action to make a melee attack at the first thing that passes through the door he chose to stand beside.
The fighter character has no way of knowing the rogue made the sentry run towards him. The player can say, "Hey DM, can I hear the sentry running towards me?" and I would make him roll perception. Assuming perception fails, I would say, "No, you have no idea what is going on in the adjacent rooms." The correct way for the player to play this would be to keep moving through the doorway (if that's where he was going anyway), or sit and wait for the rogue to come back (if that's what they agreed to do).
Even if the fighter succeeded on his perception roll, he wouldn't know if it's the rogue running towards them, or an enemy. So preparing an action to attack the first thing to come through the door is a "dishonest" play, because he knows it's not the rogue he's about to clobber.
As for monsters, your character may know about certain monsters, assuming you have not fought them previously in the campaign you are playing. You can ask the DM for a history check (or some other appropriate check) and if you succeed, I will give you a idea of the strengths, weaknesses and behaviors of the monster, which you can relay to your group (and you'll have to revise your history to explain how you know this information). But if as a DM I find you're always miraculously playing to the monster's weaknesses, I will assume you are METAGAMING. As a DM I can METAGAME too. I can give my monsters inspiration. I can make the choice to have all the monsters attack the weakest member the the group first. I can focus fire on the player I feel is metagaming. I can make the encounters more difficult.
But I really don't want to have to do that. I want to play RAW, story as written and see how all the players make playing interesting and fun. As a DM I want to give you the opportunity to make all your ideas succeed, short of them being absurd.
The important bits from the above threads are copied here for your convenience:
D&D Beyond offers the ability to link certain aspects on the forum in mouse-over triggered tooltips, such as magic items, monsters or combat actions - examples being Adult Black Dragon and dash. To create tooltips in this way as these, use the appropriate [tag][/tag] around the desired subject.
Example: [ magicitem]sunblade[/ magicitem] (Without spaces within the [ ] brackets.)
The forums feature a dice rolling feature by means of the [ roll ] tag. This post will highlight how to format dice expressions and the various features that are supported. In this post, bold red text refers to placeholders, where normal text indicates letters or numbers that should be left as-is. For example, the d in 1d20 must be left as the lowercase letter d; it is not a placeholder for something else. When copy/pasting examples, remember to remove the extra spaces inside of [ roll ] and [ /roll ] to make the forums actually roll the dice.
Many of the roll features you need (advantage/disadvantage, and dropping/keeping certain dice) are available by clicking the dice icon in the post toolbar.
By clicking on this icon, you will be presented with a pop-up which lets you fill in roll details. While this supports the majority of rolls you will need to make for D&D Play-by-Posts, you will sometimes need more advanced features. For information on how to format your own die rolls, see the Custom Rolls section below.
[ roll ]NdX[ /roll ]
This expression rolls N dice with X sides per die. Up to 1,000 dice may be rolled in a single [ roll ] tag, and X can be any number from 1 to 10,000. When the dice are rolled, the result will appear in blue, green, red, or purple. The color of the result can be used as a quick indicator of how well you rolled. A green roll indicates that one or more dice rolled a critical (maximum value). A red roll indicates that one or more dice rolled a fumble (minimum value). A purple roll indicates that some dice rolled maximum and others rolled minimum in the same roll, and finally a blue roll indicates no dice rolled either their maximum or minimum. Hovering over the result will display a tooltip showing the details of the roll, including what expression was being rolled as well as what values each die had in the roll. For example, the following is the result of a 3d6 roll: 16.
Here is an example of the type of post expected of you in a combat situation:
Murgagee the Magnificent steps out from behind the cover of the tree by moving from C2 to D3 and casts sleep using a level 1 spell slot on the enemies in this order of priority: G4, F4, G2, F3 and H1. After casting the spell, he rants loudly, "Welcome to my nightmares!"
The spell can affect the following quantity of enemy hit points: 19 <- This was created by rolling dice, ie: typing [ roll]5d8[ /roll] without the spaces. 5d8 dice were rolled as instructed in the spell description that is linked in the tooltip.
Murgagee the Magnificent then performs a magnificent retreat and moves away to hide behind the tree trunk at A7 by moving from D3 to A6.
With his Bonus Action, Murgagee casts cantrip mage hand where he used to be at D3 and makes it flip the bird to the remaining enemies.
As the Dungeon Master/Game Master, I will verify several things and explain what happens, for example:
I will verify that Murgagee has a level 1 spell slot left to be able to cast the spell.
I will make sure there is no reason Murgagee can't step from location C2 to D3.
I will make sure the targets he chose are within range of his spell, and that all the targets are within 20 feet of each other (see spell description)
I will look at the hit point value for his 5d8 roll, and subtract the remaining hit points for each enemy in the order listed (which only the GM/DM will know), making sure the enemy is a valid target for that spell.
I will check to make sure the remaining movement is within his speed range and the terrain between him and his destination allows his full movement, so he can move to A6 from D3.
I will check to make sure Murgagee is allowed to cast another spell as a bonus action.
Then I will write out the result for everyone to read and move the battle/story along, as follows:
Murgagee steps out from the cover of the tree and casts sleep on the group of enemies moving towards him, yelling "Welcome to my nightmares!". The two bruisers nod off, fall prone and begin to snore loudly. The skeleton pet is unaffected by the sleep spell and continues its advance. The other two archers were unfortunately outside of the range of the spell and are not affected. As Murgagee turns to flee towards the cover of another tree further away, a large spectral hand appears where Murgagee cast his sleep spell and gives the skeleton and the two archers a big middle finger.
Some explanation about the coordinates I have given, ie: A6, D3, etc... We will be visualizing the battle map via an online webpage called Roll20. I will keep this map updated as plays are made so you can visually see the situation, distances, obstacles, etc... As a default the top left square of the map will represent column A. B will be the 2nd column and so on towards Z. The top left corner will be row 1 and the 2nd row from the top will be row 2 and so on in increasing values. Each square on the map will have a coordinate that represents the letter for the column, and the number for the row. Using these coordinates, you can communicate here in this forum where you want to move, where you want to cast spells, etc...
When we're playing, a scenario is going to be described to you, and you will have to solve issues or get out of situations. Some of the time there will be clever and peaceful ways to succeed, but most of the time, the solution will be to fight. When a battle begins, everyone that is involved will roll Initiative and based on the value of the initiative, you're going to be placed in a list. The players and enemies will each take their turn in descending order, from highest initiative to lowest initiative. Once everyone has had a turn, the characters or enemies that remain start another round of combat (a turn) going from highest to lowest initiative. And so on.
During each of your turns (from the time you get to choose your actions until the next chance you get to choose your actions), you will be able to do the following things:
Movement: This can be broken up or used all at once. For example, if you have 30 feet of movement, you can move 15 feet, attack, move 10 feet, attack again, then finish by moving 5 more feet.
Action: What you choose to do during your turn. Examples: Cast a spell. Attack with a weapon. Drink a potion. Hold a specific action. Etc..
Bonus Action: Your character may have certain special actions that they can do based on their race, class, skills, feats, etc... If you do not have any of these special actions available, you don't get to take advantage of a bonus action.
One reaction: Some spells, skills, feats, etc... will allow you to do something specific based on a trigger. One example is if an enemy leaves the area you threaten with your weapon, you may attack due to the opportunity provided by this trigger (retreating).
The module for Lost Mine of Phandelver is for 4-6 players (plus the GM to run it). I currently have 3 people and am waiting on replies from a few more. In the meantime, I can answer questions about the mechanics of 5e, we can work on fleshing out backgrounds for each character, or you the players can introduce yourself and your character to each other.
um. Kitryn is a outlier, not one for 'reasons' other than hand to mouth survival. job=money-food/shelter pragmatic. anything that is not overtly criminal is fair game. typically hired for bushcraft and tracking rather than plots of intrigue, she will either wander into town seeking the next job that can feed her or has already secured the forward scouting position for the caravan. (claims the horses seem skittish if she's too close, but in reality she simple avoiding small talk and socialisation)
Eren is almost a walking contradiction. When he's on the job, he's focused on the job. When he isn't, he's focused on brooding about some score he has to settle, mumbling under his breath. And yet, at all times, his hands find their way to picking up something from his environment to play with absent mindedly...
The tall bronze skinned elf with copper hair quickly learns his way around an area, and does a great job foraging for small parties he joins as hired muscle or a scout.
Each of you gets a 1d4 inspiration dice for creating your characters.
Ereneath and Kitryn upgrade theirs to 1d6 for posting an outward description of their characters in the forum thread.
Leek upgrades his to a 1d6 for giving me a background story.
Kitryn upgrades his again to a 1d8 for also giving me a background story.
There is still time to provide any of the above to also upgrade your inspiration die.
I've decided that you can all choose 10gp by having me narrate why you are all together heading towards the village of Phandalin, or you can upgrade your inspiration dice yet again by all choosing a backstory/reason you are all together and heading to the village of Phandalin. Up to all of you.
I will give you all a chance to post tonight and the rest of tomorrow without further interference from me. Monday morning we're on.
Leek. The quiet forest gnome. After a couple hundred years of isolation in the forest, Leek leaves his hovel. Wandering aimlessly, he sees the lights of Phandalin. There, he knows he will find what he is searching for. His search is temporarily put on hold when he sees a couple of elves. Immediately he gravitates towards them, as he sees them as a source of good and stability. He will follow them. They will calm him. They will bring back serenity.
Leek looks like a regular forest gnome, except for what seems to be ritual scarring all over his exposed skin.
Rindelk. Ponderous wizard. Observant, quiet. When he speaks much thought was given to the words used. Not rich nor poor Rindelk lives a life of research. Being surrounded by books comfort him.
Lately a sense of foreboding has crept into his thoughts. Compelled to step away from his current reading Rindelk finds himself outside of his comfortable home, walking in deep troubled thought.
Rindelk is elven. Tall with piercing blue eye. Hair the color silver drapes his shoulders. If his gaze falls upon you comfort will take refuge. The souls of those under such a stare lay bare to him, offering knowledge of a foe, or friend.
Wood Elf, medium build, medium height with long dark red hair and light grey eyes.
She loves studying words of the Ancients, as well as decrypting puzzles and finding rare artefacts. The forests are a trove of undiscovered areas, teeming with hidden messages. The importance of such finds shall be predominant, always treasured and properly displayed.
The first day all of you met each other was when you showed up to escort a wagon of supplies from Neverwinter to a little village called Phalandin. All of you answered a notice looking for able bodies for this purpose, as well as further opportunities once at the destination. A Dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker interviewed each of you individually, and his interest in you peaked for different reasons.
Gundren was particularly interested in Kitryn's claims of stealth, and familiarity in the wilderness. Gundren offered to hire Kitryn on the spot when a demonstration proved Kitryn was able to pick locks. Gundren was particularly interested in the fact Leek was a Gnome and was overheard muttering, "Old enough to remember the Pact" after hiring him. Katerielle was hired once her knowledge of archeology was made evident. Erenaeth was hired due to his knowledge of wilderness and especially his skills pertaining to Goblins and Kobolds. Finally, Rindelk was hired for the simple fact he is a Wizard, and like the rest of the party, willing to take on the job for 10 Gold Pieces.
That morning when you all first met, Gundren handed over the reigns to a wagon pulled by two oxen.
"Great, all five of ya's ara here. Look, I'ma hurry, you canna introduce yerselves. Tha wagon has mostly supplies for minin an eatin." He hands Rindelk a ledger containing the inventory of the wagon. "I'ma trusting ya's ta deliver this ta de owner of Barthen's Provisions in Phandalin," carefully pronouncing the locations, "ana dere be more pay fa more work after, so it'sa hardly worth yer while to pawn this stuff ana split it five ways. I be leaving tha gold for your pay with tha owner of Barthen's. I be leaving now with another warrior by horseback, " Gundren scrunches his nose at this, "ta get ta Phalandin fast as possible ta take care of some business dere. We meet dere fa de next job, ya?" Without waiting for any reply, Gundren turned his back and made his way at a quick jog.
The oxen are docile, and won't move unless someone is actively handling the reigns. The trip to Phandalin from Neverwinter is a good 70 miles, and the oxen can be expected to haul the wagon a good 15 miles a day. Looking at the map, you will be travelling South on the High Road for a good 45 miles, then you'll have to head East on the Triboar Trail and then south again to Phandalin. The High Road is heavily patrolled and cleared on all sides of any trees or bushes for a good forty to fifty feet. The Triboar Trail is known to have been in disuse for a long time and is not safe by any means. You all set out to begin the journey. Over the next few days on the High Road, you begin to learn about each other.
Kitryn Shroud could pass as a human, if seen from an angle that would hide her ashen colored skin and tusks. By Half-Orc standards, she is human height and a little scrawny. Her outward appearance doesn't appear to be of higher stature than a beggar in the streets of a city. Her leather armor doesn't look to fit quite well, and although functional, it looks old and barely serviceable. Her possessions, the few she carries, aren't much better. All are serviceable, but appear to be worth very little. Although the High Road is regularly patrolled and clear of any foliage on each side of the road, Kitryn still chooses to scout ahead and around while travelling. When camp is struck, she takes to caring for the oxen, often absentmindedly rubbing an ear or scratching a flank. At night, she sleeps nearer to the oxen than to the rest of the group.
Leek Meebalz insists that is his name. He is on the small side for a Gnome and his white hair and weather beaten face shows him to be later on in years. Leek is socially awkward, having made several social blunders without the grin or wink one would expect from a Gnome poking fun. Unlike the fun loving reputation of Gnomes, Leek's behavior and appearance shows a stark contrast to his serene and calm composure. More disturbingly, the sleeves of Leeks jacket are always stained with blood, sometimes fresh. Occasionally when the party camps, Leek declares he needs to commune with nature and leaves the camp, only to rejoin the party the next day, usually with fresh blood on his clothes. Other times, during bright sunny days, Leek could be seen staring intently at various group members, searching the air around them. Eventually Leek will end his examination with a nod of approval and a sigh of relief.
Katerielle is average height for a full blooded Elf, but has enjoyed the comforts of a modest lifestyle, her appearance more like that of a human than the slenderness of an Elf. Strapped to her backpack is a pick and shovel, rope and lantern, suggesting interests in things and places that have to be discovered and revealed to the world. She travels equipped with shield, leather armor, a crossbow, a dagger and for those that can recognize arcane bobbles, she also carries a focus for the casting of magics.
Erenaeth Carnorin is the second full blooded Elf of the party. His bronzed skin and copper colored hair makes him look statuesque. His attire speaks to time spent in the wilderness, not so much in cities. Yet surprisingly, much like Katerielle, Erenaeth appears to be more humanlike in silhouette than Elvish, most likely speaking loudly of his skills as a forager. However, where Keterielle looks to be a grown adult, Erenaeth appears young. His youth is the likely explanation for the odd habit of picking up and fiddling with things where Elves in general are otherwise composed and serene in the presence of others.
Rindelk Nivuliel is the third full Elf of the group. However, everything about him would indicate otherwise. Even in the company of Katerielle and Erenaeth, Rindelk appears to be a foreigner. He speaks slowly and carefully, yet with an accent no one can quite place. His physique speaks of an opulent lifestyle, easily near twice as heavy as would be expected of an Elf. Like Erenaeth, his facial features appear very young for an Elf, yet his hair is dappled with grey. Rindelk eschews armor and carries an arcane focus, indicating his skills lie with magics. His large spell book all but confirms that hypothesis.
OOC: Today you can, post some banter at each other as you travel the High Road for 3 game days. Tomorrow we move on to the Triboar Trail. At that point, I will need a marching order (who's in front, who's driving the cart. Who scouts, how far ahead, which side? Who's in the rear? What are each of you doing as you travel this more dangerous road?) Feel free to log into the Roll20 battle mat to see the map of the North.
Rindelk, taking his place in the rear left of the cart pulls out a quill and starts to write. Each item in the inventory is jotted down. As he goes about his tasks he glances briefly at each party members. Unsure what their thoughts are concerning himself, he takes note in his journal which is underneath the ledger. Observant, he makes sure not to skip any details.
Eren looked over the rest of the crew. Mostly elven, and a few experienced outdoors-persons by the looks of it.
"So," he begins in the common tongue, "pretty much guaranteed to run into trouble once we're off the main road. I'm fine taking point or rearguard. Wizard, GNOME... " the latter word dripping with restrained anger, " can either of you lead the oxen or keep them calm in a fight?"
On the first day of travel, Leek spends most of his time with the elves. Spending most of his time = sitting quietly next to them, (at times up against them even if there is plenty of room) either staring at them blankly or muttering to himself incomprehensibly. If spoken to, he will be genial and friendly, but will not engage in conversation and will answer any questions in short answers. He is wary of the half-orc and will keep his distance. The only time Leek seems animated is when he interacts with his pet squirrel. They both seem to understand each other.
In the evening, some might be awoken by muttering and movement, (mostly the elves, against whom Leek will lie down at night). Those who are awoken will hear Leek muttering "It must come out. It must come out." The elf against whom Leek is resting will feel Leek moving. Upon closer inspection, he will see Leek cutting into his forearm with his scimitar, all the while muttering "It must come out."
On day two of travel, Leek is quieter than the previous day. He even lacks any form of enjoyment when interacting with his squirrel. The sleeve on his left forearm is drenched with blood and his forearm has fresh, superficial wounds. If spoken to, he will either ignore the question or give one word answers. He tries to stick close to the elves even more aggressively now, even when it is clear they are trying to get away from him. "They can bring serenity," he will mutter from time to time.
On the second evening, the elves are relieved as Leek says he will spend the evening scouting the area.
On the morning of the third day he comes back to the wagon. Again, his sleeves are drenched with blood. Leek seems to be in a much lighter mood that morning, as though a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. Later he takes out a mouse from his pocket and pets it as he sings an elvish song to it (yes he speaks elvish). When asked where his squirrel was, Leek smirks and says "He was a little nutty" in an attempt at levity unseen as of yet from him. He will spend the rest of the day sleeping in the wagon (up against a sitting elf), holding his mouse in his hands. The peacefulness of his sleep is interrupted from time to time with spasms and him muttering "it must come out."
Kitryn holds an advance distance of sight and sound, just far enough that she cannot hear the creak of wagon wheels or chatter of elves. a moments pause attuning to the sounds of the woods from within a tree shadow reassures her that the normal order of things is there, as the groan of wagon wheels can be heard she will resume stride and create the gap anew. no stranger to long march and lithe in physique and, she requests no turn of rest on the wagon. the evenings are quiet, care for the animals, eat, move that which the others can not.
Katerielle glances about at the cleared forests. What treasures could have hidden under all that? Shaking her head, she follows the group forward. Her backpack feels light, and the new adventure brings an even lighter step. Adventure awaits on this journey, and she feel a frisson of anticipation.
"this gnome has had 2 familars in as many days? they are familars.. none would simple tame rodents for conversation?" she thinks to herself. the bloodied sleeves are disconcerting.. scaring is a know ritual, my own arms are covered in tattoo .. but it is mark that involves an event, has meaning... this gnome has mentioned no reason to mark himself, certainly not ongoingly(sp)?! watch this one, lest he unravels like those who have seen too much battle and have neither mind or stomach for it.
OOC: So, as of now, from what I can gather, Kitryn is scouting ahead. Leek doesn't seem to be doing anything other than staying close to Elves. Eren has offered to take rearguard (since Kitryn is taking point). Katerielle is looking forward to the adventure and mourning the cleared tree line along the High Road. Rindelk is sitting on the back of the wagon watching and taking notes into a journal. I'm going to assume Katerielle is driving the wagon and Leek is either snuggling to her or to Rindelk. Unless told otherwise, this will be the marching order when we hit the Triboar Trail tomorrow.