101 Days of D&D: self homework assignment #1 (Actions and Attacks of Opportunities)

I warned you about posts like this! Friday night’s session revealed a couple of real shortcomings in my knowledge of the rules of 3.5e. So, my homework before next session is to get down a solid understanding of the following:

  • Actions: what’s a movement action, what’s a full action, what’s a free action, etc. — you get the idea.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: strongly related to actions. I just don’t always get what provokes an AoO and what sorts of actions (little-a action) can be A0Os.

Tomorrow’s post is more meaty. I promise!

101 Days of D&D: good roleplaying blogs

There are tons of good (and even more bad) websites dedicated to all facets of the roleplaying experience. I’ve been a regular reader (though rarely a participant) in the RPG.net forums, ENWorld, The Forge, and other rpg forums for a long time. But, it’s only recently that I’ve been reading and actively seeking out good rpg blogs. That’s weird, of course, because I’ve been reading blogs since before they were called “blogs.” I’ve had this blog since 2000 (though my archives only go back to 2001).

I’m finding a lot of great GMing advice in some blogs, and I read 4-5 on a regular basis (those that have RSS feeds, anyway), and I discover more good ones every day. So, without further rambling on my part, the list that follows consists the ones I find the most interesting, entertaining, and/or helpful. They’re not all strictly roleplaying blogs, but they all inform my roleplaying.

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101 Days of D&D: say "Yes" or roll the dice

Okay, it’s only day #4 and I’m already veering away from the D&D stuff. Sorta. In a “See P.XX” column from a while back, Robin Laws, author of Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering and the Dungeon Master’s Guide II (both books I plan to discuss in these 101 days) says that having players roll for routine tasks is stupid (well, that’s not exactly what he said — I’m paraphrasing). He argues that:

Routine failures are just about unknown in non-rpg adventure fiction. They make the protagonists seem incompetent, and unworthy of our sense of escapist identification. More importantly, they bog down the story.

It’s an idea that’s cropped up in a lot of indie RPGs, too, and I like it. I haven’t, however, been using the principle much in my Eberron campaign. I plan to rectify that Friday night. I think it’ll speed the action along some and give the players who want to roleplay and take a little more narrative control do so (and I’m perfectly okay with that, even in D&D — the narrative control thing, I mean, not roleplaying — roleplaying is always good).

Robin even gives us a little flowchart to illustrate the conception:

1) Will this die roll generate suspense? Do the players really care all that much?
a)If yes: proceed to die roll
b) If no: proceed to next question

2) Will failure be at least as interesting, introducing as much forward plot movement, as success?
a) If yes: proceed to die roll
b) If no: success is a “gimme.” The character automatically succeeds

And, for me in regards to D&D, 2.b there means without having to go the route of taking 10 or even taking 20 — the “gimme” is made before you get far enough to consider the time requirements, etc. of taking 10 or 20.

Another option is that, if the player wants to roll for it, they can. If they suceed by a very wide margin, they can do that routine thing extremely well, even to the point of doing some ebellishment through narrative control.

Despite my protestations to the contrary, I’m not trying to make D&D something other than D&D. You can play D&D as an extremely tactical game, though I choose not to do so most of the time. Plus, I think this is a rule/concept/practice that makes exceptionally good sense in the swashbuckle-y goodness that is Eberron.

I’ll report back on how it goes in Friday’s session. [Editor’s Note: Actual Play posts will commence starting this weekend. I’ll also write up at least some summaries for the first three sessions to catch folks up on the action.]

101 Days of D&D: my Eberron campaign's core story

So, I’ve got a working core story (or “premise,” if you want to use what’s a fairly loaded word in some RPG circles these days) for D&D and for Eberron. But, what I’ve been missing and REALLY need so that I can get on with both the campaign itself AND the nuts and bolts goals of my “101 Days of D&D 3.5e” project, which I laid out in the first post in this series, is a way to connect the adventures into some sort of semi-coherent whole. I also want to weave some subplots for each of the characters through the adventures, so that they have some personal stake in the adventures/”missions.”

After looking back over the notes I’ve taken from conversations with my players and the character backgrounds they’ve submitted, I think I’ve finally gotten some focus on the WHYs of this campaign.

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101 Days of D&D: D&D's Core Story and "In-between stuff"

In a comment to a post on Mike Mearls LiveJournal , Ryan Danceystates D&D’s core story:

A party of adventurers assemble to seek fame and fortune. They leave civilization for a location of extreme danger. They fight monsters and overcome obstacles and acquire new abilities and items of power. Afterwards they return to civilization and sell the phat loot. Next week, they do it all over again.

Mearls goes on to say about Eberron and core stories that:

I think it’s possible to use settings to introduce new core stories that exist besides D&D’s core story. […] I think, were I in charge of Eberron, I would hijack the Star Wars RPG’s core story, filter it through Shadowrun, and come up with:

“The heroes are independent operatives who accept comissions from powerful merchant families to infiltrate exotic locations, accomplish a goal to defeat a rival or evil organization, and flee to safety as the location either blows up, collapses, or falls into a volcanic rift.”

That’s a really interesting way to look at Eberron, and most of the published Eberron adventures definitely have that groove to them. And since I’m going to be working in a fair number of those published adventures, my campaign’s going to have some of that groove, too, though the characters all have agendas of their own and themes of their own running through that “core story” that drives the action each session.

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