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    posted a message on Need advice on Curse of Strahd

    Also, don't forget that Van Richten has a very large curse over his head for murdering an entire caravan of Vistani already. He's going to be super methodical about it all, as to insure his curse isn't redoubled by the last breath of another Vistana.

    I'd say no to the killing, as information he could spy out from their camp about Strahd's activity is worth vastly more than Strahd having a dozen less spies. However, he may be spurred to act if the Vistani have one of the treasures from the reading that they are unwilling to relinquish.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Explaining D&D to new players in a nutshell?

    Tell them that they're free to try anything, even if it's not specifically mentioned in the rules. Crazy stuff will be tougher to pull off of course, so weigh your risk vs. reward. Even still, failing can be just as much fun for the story.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Is Strahd a railroad?
    Quote from Wysperra >>
    Quote from Noman_Ashthorn >>

    CoS is a brand of railroady campaigns refered to as a "weekend in hell" adventure. The whole po I'll not is finding yourself trapped in a terrible place and trying to escape. If your players agree to play and start griping when the mist kills the third character they sent in trying to find an exit, it's their fault. Players know what they're getting into messing with Barovia.

     I'm not arguing either way, I was merely asking if anybody considered it railroading. CoS is much much longer than a weekend. Doesn't it take characters from 1 to 10? That's a long ass time. And some players really do NOT know what they are getting into with Barovia.

     I feel yah. "Weekend in hell" got coined (to my knowledge at least) with the original module, but it's more to indicate the fact that it's a place the party is trying to leave quickly as opposed to how long they're there.

    I'll rephrase my latermost statement: Players SHOULD know what they're getting into messing with Barovia. And if they don't, the DM should've told them well before session 1 what was going on (the reason most people abandon this campaign is DM's just trying to run straight from the book rather than reading through it first to get the full picture and theme). Even without forewarning, I've seen that most people that pick up CoS do so for the sake of the athstetic and genre. If you're picking up the book randomly to play, you can probably guess that your headed for a Translyvanian romp with the Universal Monsters. You don't just select a book like that and complain that you're fighting a vampire instead of sailing the high seas or slaying giants. I understand trying the gothic horror shtick and deciding halfway through that it's not for your group, but to say it's railroading unfairly because your character can't leave the very niche setting you and your group decided to play would be a bit asinine.

    So yeah, while a player may not know EXACTLY what they're getting into with Barovia, it's hard to say they wouldn't know enough by looking at the cover whether it's something they want to stick with for a full 10ish levels or not.

    In the end, the campaign is far from linear. Despite having Barovia's boarders misted out, the problem my friends and I have had is that it's almost a bit too open ended. As a player, you can feel a bit directionless with the whole of the valley to explore and only a handful of vague clues to guide you to important things. I suppose it's just how you look at it.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Is Strahd a railroad?

    Railroading is a term that has loosened it's definition over time. Despite what your DM says about his homebrew world (unless everything is being randomly generated or improvised on the spot), EVERY game involves some amount of railroading. This is where social compact comes to play. It's not a decision of "should I do a railroaded campaign or a sandbox campaign?", it's "where on the spectrum between these two does my campaign fit?"

    Typically, a DM is gonna ask or suggest a published campaign to his players rather than just spring it on them. And even in a homebrew world, players are likely asked what kind of adventure they want to take on session 0. Unless your DM somehow tricked you into playing Curse of Strahd when you expected to be slaying dragons, you're probably not being railroaded.

    By the campaign's design, your trapped in Spookville until you kill Strahd. It's not railroading if it's a central part of the theme and plot for your narrative, even though it limits a handful of your infinite options. CoS is a brand of railroady campaigns refered to as a "weekend in hell" adventure. The whole po I'll not is finding yourself trapped in a terrible place and trying to escape. If your players agree to play and start griping when the mist kills the third character they sent in trying to find an exit, it's their fault. Players know what they're getting into messing with Barovia.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Discworld One-Shot Advice

    It didn't really, I haven't implemented it yet. But I've been working on what it would really encompass. Those drinking rules I more or less through to the wayside. They're fun and all, but made to shoot through quickly, and my groups awesome RPing slogged it down. We need something to let that RPing move the story and action forward, so I think I'll have to more or less emphasize a narrative arc rather than the setting speaking for itself. That by itself takes a lot off my hands.

    I'm thinking just very non seriously having a random cave-in kill my party and drop them in Death's extradementional mansion. Death eventually lets them know that they arrive there do to a metauniversal problem that he now has to talk to some higherups about to have them sent back to their own world, and maybe even back to life. While he files the papers, he drops the party off in Morpork with a baggy of cash and a warning to not cause more trouble than he can pull them out of.

    I may just let them raise hell with a few set encounters and a small selection of randoms. Either that, or maybe give them a mcguffin they need to find in order to return and make other parties intrested in it. I can't imagine the watch not being intimately involved.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Kenku Language Issues

    I introduced Kenku to my party with another character as well. The two were partners and information brokers. The human did most of the talking while the kenku responded once in a while with his partner off handedly interpreting things as part of natural conversation. Having the kind of Han/Chewbacca vibe really keyed my players into knowing what I was presenting them and helped keep the flavor that kenku's bring while not halting everything for the sake of the bird.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Space Pirates... help!!

    Githyanki make for good space pirates, but going the spelljammer route will make any race sensible enough.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Paid DMing... Yes, No, Maybe?

    Professionalism in this case would be your presentation. DMing is a service, as any DM can tell you. However, anyone can read out of the book and string a plot along. What makes a DM a professional has a lot to do with how they bring the story to life and make the players feel immersed in that story. DM's are story tellers first and foremost, it's about how seriously they take the narrative and character depth that really makes it a title that you can add professional onto.

    But that's my opinion. I'm sure some folks don't care for that and just wanna play it like a dungeon grind so they can stack loot and I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR WIZARD'S TRAGIC BACKSTORY, JUST SET THE OGRE ON FIRE! That being said, a professional DM is probably more universally defined by how he interacts with each player and party that hire him. I see a professional not being the type to say how he runs his campaign, but rather to ask how the players want their campaign to be. He has to know how to play with minmaxers and thesbians alike (sometimes in the same group) and be able to insure that everyone has fun and gets what they need out of the game. Even still, I think that the emphasis on making a story with depth and breadth is essential to that. If a DM makes a full fledged campaign that could easily be a published work, than there's hardly any pretension in calling themselves a professional.

    There's also a lot of management of the players when conflict arises that can define professionalism for DMing. Just because the DM is always right doesn't mean that's the best way to say it. The be a professional, you have to treat rules arbitration and player-to-player qualms with a seriousness that most Joe's playing with their buddies don't have to exercise. That's not easy. The whole social compact of a paid DM changing a lot of the dynamics a normal gaming group doesn't experiance. And knowing how to go about that (schedule management, handling deviations from the rules, promoting fairness between you and the players, communicating your SOP before and during the game, giving the players a voice in proceedings, etc.) is hard even in the business settings that most people use those social skills in.

    Other than that, there's also the fact that the DM can provide books, materials, maps, settings, minis, and even spare dice for players to use with no cost to the players. 

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on I'm trying to build a non combat silly encounter and need help!

    If your testing his spells, making rolls to detect faults in his illusions outside of saving throws could be a thing. Profiencies in investigation, perception, and arcana would give some edge to appropriate players.

    If fear is what is being fought in this, then maybe it'd be a god time to play with sanity as an ability score. The DMG goes into it, and though it's typically more for your Lovecraftian hijinks, it could be what spices stuff up for you. In fact, rolling sanity checks during a data show sounds pretty entertaining to me.

    Posted in: Homebrew & House Rules
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    posted a message on I'm trying to build a non combat silly encounter and need help!

    Good to know. What's the nature of these tests? Are they captured by a hag preying on their fears? Being tested by a god to see the strength of their courage? That'll determine a lot of the angle to take.

    Posted in: Homebrew & House Rules
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    posted a message on I'm trying to build a non combat silly encounter and need help!

    Get as much dirt on the character as possible, things they don't want their party (or anyone) to know, things a rival or enemy could use against them, things tied to their flaws and bonds and such. That way, they can use deception/insight checks to check if they're being truthful. Lying hurts, and if caught, will do psychic damage.

    Unless I get more info, that's all I can really think of. More details may reveal more creative mechanic opportunities. 

    Posted in: Homebrew & House Rules
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    posted a message on Where can I find ceremorphosed (transformed by mind flayers) monsters?

    On the whole, the purpose of ceramorphosis is to make more illithids. When humanoids are subject to mindflayer tadpoles, the result is a new mindflayer. Minwitnesses are unique in that they result from a non-humanoid, and frankly mindflayer's don't deal with many of those type of creatures that aren't already warped or enthralled by them.

    So if you're looking for OFFICAL content on ceramorphized non-humanoids, then it's frankly not out there. However, this seems like ripe fodder for homebrewing some neat creatures. They'd have to be based on creatures of proper sentiance for the mindflayer to want to make into a new being, but that still leaves a lot of interesting ideas. Think if they had somehow captured a dragon or a giant and sought to experiment such a possibility with them in order to create a giant mindflayer, or a quicker way to birth an elder brain. Maybe it'd take multiple tadpoles and result in a mindless beast, or a near omniscient hive mind of those tadpoles. Looooots of possibilities. Run it by some homebrew threads and see who wants to run with it.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Burning down the churches in CoS

    I wouldn't say too late as much as super unlikely. There are plenty of events the characters could trigger to "undo" the harm they brought by burning the churches. Maybe somehow outing the Abbot and santifying the Abbey again would help, or Lightning the Beacon of Arganvost. Maybe killing off some of the more terrible foes, like Baba Lysaga or Wintersplinter, would counter the negativity. It's possible, but your players will really be putting their necks out to do so.

    Here's an idea my former DM used to both guide players and build on the Hope Meter idea. My character saw St. Anderal's church destroyed by Strahd, and formed a friendship with Father Lucien before he was killed. Before leaving town, I interred his body where St. Anderal's bones once were. Doing so, Father Lucian revealed himself in spirit form to be St. Anderal reincarnated. Though trapped by the mists from entering the afterlife, he and other saints and pure souls still avoided the typical limbo most experiance in between lives in Barovia. Essentially, it was the DM's way of rewarding my roleplaying as well as providing us with a more upfront guide to point us in the right direction. His bones sanctified the church even after St. Anderal's Feast, my character started taking Paladino levels, and we were set straight.

    Maybe using a guide like this to subtly introduce the idea that hope is the answer (as well as hint at the looming threat of the greater darkness sealed away) could be just what the doctor ordered. You may even be able to use this as a way the make that rowdy bloodhunter receive a divine scolding for his zealous ways, potentially curbing that problem as well. There are plenty of good souls to use as this guide (Markovia, Lugdana, maybe even Sergi if he doesn't mention his name) and you could place it anywhere.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Rooms for a Kobold Cave System

    Volo's guide to monsters has a pretty legit breakdown of kobold lairs. Treasure room, mushroom farms, root cellars, craft areas (with kilns), and plenty of mines and escape tunnels. I highly suggest checking it out.

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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    posted a message on Tolkien Rip-off

    Not only is it a good idea, but it's tried and true. There's tons of Middle Earth setting material out there to pull from for several systems, and last I knew it even had it's own game. Google some stuff and see what you can find for further inspiration. 

    Posted in: Dungeon Masters Only
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