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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  14:25:49  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
to test the capabilities of my players' characters?

As I mentioned before, the group I DM switched only recently to 3.5.

My problem now is assessing the party's strength. They are quite powerful due to various items I introduced back in 2nd edition cuz I thought them cool storywise.

Now to actually make a proper estimate of what they are capable of taking out I want, during our next game-day, to basically clobber it out, so to speak.

Naturaly I will not take monsters they might encounter.

Is this wise?

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!

Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  14:31:42  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would...if anything to sharpen your grasp on 3E mechanics/dynamics..

I only started playing 3E about two years ago...I still ahve a hard time balancing out PC strength and monster strength..the right (or wrong) feat or magic item could totally unbalance the game...too weak or too powerful, you'll lose player interest eithor way...

the same goes with monster abilities...for example I find even a low CR "swarm" type monsters can be more deadly to a group of PCs than a monster with a higher CR...unless the party knows they will be encountering a swarm...then they are too easy to defeat

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand

Edited by - Kalin Agrivar on 17 Aug 2006 15:03:07
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Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:00:24  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, if you feel you need it to plan your adventures ahead it is wise; what ever helps in DM'ing and planning is a good idea. The problem is how accurate test this; the dice will always give an element of randomness, as will good/bad ideas from the players.

PS as I have about as much knowledge about 3.5 ed as I have of Hip-hop my advice is not worth much.
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Chosen of Moradin
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1120 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:03:52  Show Profile  Visit Chosen of Moradin's Homepage  Click to see Chosen of Moradin's MSN Messenger address Send Chosen of Moradin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Im favorable to test, too. Talk with your players, DM some "what would be if..." game sessions with them, only to test the itens, the critters, and the general grasp in the rules (I need to do this ever...)

Dwarf, DM, husband, and proud of this! :P

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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:09:28  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
oh, just an add on...

when ever I teach a newbie () how to play D&D (rules wise) I usually do a "Thunder Dome"-like battle ground to get them used to using their character sheet, the dice, the mechanics...and as they get ahold of it the "dome" changes into more of a "Island of Doom"

Not much roleplaying but it really helps with the rules and simple RPG tricks/stratagies

and it also keeps the DM sharp too

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:26:22  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Two go in, one goes out!
Two go in, one goes out!

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Xysma
Master of Realmslore

USA
1089 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:40:38  Show Profile  Visit Xysma's Homepage Send Xysma a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand

to test the capabilities of my players' characters?

As I mentioned before, the group I DM switched only recently to 3.5.

My problem now is assessing the party's strength. They are quite powerful due to various items I introduced back in 2nd edition cuz I thought them cool storywise.

Now to actually make a proper estimate of what they are capable of taking out I want, during our next game-day, to basically clobber it out, so to speak.

Naturaly I will not take monsters they might encounter.

Is this wise?



I think it is wise, particularly if you are a generous DM, the presence of magic items can greatly increase the party's abilities, making the CRs difficult to effectively evaluate. Since my guys have taken to calling me "Killer DM" I have started analyzing my baddies against their stats. I write down all of their attack bonuses and damage with their primary weapons, their spell capabilites, their ACs, etc, and compare that with what I have created for them to battle. That way I can see how often I can expect them to hit a certain creature or NPC, how much damage they can deal, and also how often I expect the beastie to hit and how much damage it will deal, and so on. This tells me whether they will slaughter my critters, get slaughtered, or have a tough fight, and then I can adjust accordingly.

War to slay, not to fight long and glorious.
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  15:47:46  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Xysma

...Since my guys have taken to calling me "Killer DM"...

...This tells me whether they will slaughter my critters, get slaughtered, or have a tough fight, and then I can adjust accordingly.



It is my experience that more often than not the presence of a "Killer DM" is usually (but not always!) an indicator of PCs that are inexperienced, foolish or not paying attention

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Sian
Senior Scribe

Denmark
596 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  16:47:19  Show Profile  Visit Sian's Homepage  Click to see Sian's MSN Messenger address Send Sian a Private Message  Reply with Quote
well ... the (soon to be former, due to volenteerly change) DM in the group i'm going to take charge of was at points a regular Killer DM ... and that's while two of the five players where regular powerplayers (when allowed to) ... at other points he was a DM that just couldn't kill characters no matter how stupid they acted

what happened to the queen? she's much more hysterical than usual
She's a women, it happens once a month
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  16:53:15  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sian

well ... the (soon to be former, due to volenteerly change) DM in the group i'm going to take charge of was at points a regular Killer DM ... and that's while two of the five players where regular powerplayers (when allowed to) ... at other points he was a DM that just couldn't kill characters no matter how stupid they acted



That is wierd

I DM 90% of the time...have from the beginning...I try to be as fair and as totally neutral when I DM...I make "the world" react to the players as logically as I can possibly think of...which in the end means the players usually kill themselves...

I try my hardest to give them a fair chance of survival (monsters of equal strength, traps I know the PCs should figure out, hints that don't take too much work to find, etc.) but if a player tries to make a jump check wearing full plate mail over a 30' chasm with a total jump bonus of +8 then that is his decision ..or the time my friend's 4th Lv fighter told off Wulgreth to his face

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Kaladorm
Master of Realmslore

United Kingdom
1176 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  17:26:07  Show Profile  Visit Kaladorm's Homepage Send Kaladorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You can set up a situation where it is plausible for the party to be 'rescued' if it looks like the battle is going badly. Like in the old classic SNES rpgs when you always knew if you were meant to lose a fight because the beasty was just insanely difficult. That way if it happens that you've thrown something that will induce a TPK you can just have them rescued and further the storyline. If it happens that you've judged right and they beat the monster then carry on as normal.

Another idea is to set up some combat situations in your own time and use your players characters to simulate some battle situations (different terrain, type of monster, number of monsters, etc etc) and see how well they fare. What I mean is play the monsters 'and' your PCs one night and see how it all goes
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Kaladorm
Master of Realmslore

United Kingdom
1176 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  17:28:17  Show Profile  Visit Kaladorm's Homepage Send Kaladorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kalin agrivar

oh, just an add on...

when ever I teach a newbie () how to play D&D (rules wise) I usually do a "Thunder Dome"-like battle ground to get them used to using their character sheet, the dice, the mechanics...and as they get ahold of it the "dome" changes into more of a "Island of Doom"

Not much roleplaying but it really helps with the rules and simple RPG tricks/stratagies

and it also keeps the DM sharp too



Great idea there, our first experience with 3E D&D was when three of us made level one characters and we had to fight a series of random encounters in an arena.
1st monster - a toad
2nd monster - a skeleton
3rd monster - a half ogre, half dragon.

Thats as far as we got gotta love that dice rolling lol
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  18:39:49  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kaladorm


1st monster - a toad
2nd monster - a skeleton
3rd monster - a half ogre, half dragon.

Thats as far as we got gotta love that dice rolling lol



thats quite the power jump from a skeleton to a 1/2 dragon ogre !!

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand

Edited by - Kalin Agrivar on 17 Aug 2006 20:52:54
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Alisttair
Great Reader

Canada
3054 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  20:47:58  Show Profile  Visit Alisttair's Homepage  Click to see Alisttair's MSN Messenger address Send Alisttair a Private Message  Reply with Quote
hmmm *rolls a wisdom check....with modifiers gets a 22*....Yes I would have to say that it is wise to do so :)

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Xysma
Master of Realmslore

USA
1089 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2006 :  20:52:55  Show Profile  Visit Xysma's Homepage Send Xysma a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kalin agrivar

quote:
Originally posted by Xysma

...Since my guys have taken to calling me "Killer DM"...

...This tells me whether they will slaughter my critters, get slaughtered, or have a tough fight, and then I can adjust accordingly.



It is my experience that more often than not the presence of a "Killer DM" is usually (but not always!) an indicator of PCs that are inexperienced, foolish or not paying attention



In my case they are experienced, but foolish, stoned (yes, there are a couple of stoners in my group, which means I always get the "I've smoked since then" excuse when they forget something), or bored with their characters. Plus, they (the ones who die all the time, not everyone) will not run from a fight. It boggles my mind, even when I say "Guys, just remember that you can't beat everything you encounter," they still won't run. Oh well, as long as they're having fun...

War to slay, not to fight long and glorious.
Aermhar of the Tangletrees
Year of the Hooded Falcon

Xysma's Gallery
Guide to the Tomes and Tales of the Realms download from Candlekeep
Anthologies and Tales Overviews

Check out my custom action figures, hand-painted miniatures, gaming products, and other stuff on eBay.



Edited by - Xysma on 17 Aug 2006 20:55:14
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Beirnadri Magranth
Senior Scribe

USA
720 Posts

Posted - 24 Oct 2006 :  15:31:42  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage  Send Beirnadri Magranth an AOL message Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Did you get to test the player's? How did it turn out, and what items had you given them that you felt weird about?

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Victor_ograygor
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1065 Posts

Posted - 24 Oct 2006 :  15:37:12  Show Profile  Visit Victor_ograygor's Homepage Send Victor_ograygor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes let us here, How did it turn out?

Victor Ograygor The Assassin and Candel keeps cellar master

Everything I need to know about life I learned from killing smart people.

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Reefy
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
892 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  01:19:07  Show Profile  Visit Reefy's Homepage  Click to see Reefy's MSN Messenger address Send Reefy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kalin Agrivar

quote:
Originally posted by Kaladorm


1st monster - a toad
2nd monster - a skeleton
3rd monster - a half ogre, half dragon.

Thats as far as we got gotta love that dice rolling lol



thats quite the power jump from a skeleton to a 1/2 dragon ogre !!



There were a few more monsters than that, it was simply working up from the CR table at the back of the MM.
And the best way to find out how much your party can handle is sadly through experience. Some parties deal with powerful creatures better than they do a horde of weaker ones. My party nearly came unstuck recently because they encountered someone able to levitate and were sorely lacking in ranged attacking options.

Life is either daring adventure or nothing.
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  09:19:04  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth

Did you get to test the player's? How did it turn out, and what items had you given them that you felt weird about?



Frist off, the party is loaded, since the group started in AD&D 2nd.

The tank wields an ancestoral dwarven battle axe, a minor artifact so to speak; then there is a moonblade wielding elf. Both of the items were brought in to bring depth to the campaign and open options we haven't explored yet.
The mage is a force onto himself since he uses his spells with a tactical finesse I have never seen before. Plus he has crafted his own staff according to the rules found in Dragon 338 (I think) and used one of his feats (and secrificed a lvl 3 spell slot) to cast three fireballs at caster level through it per day.

Now to the testing, which also showed me that I need to take everything in the monster's stats into consideration...which I didn't...so it was ultimately flawed, since I didn't. Plus the moonfighter used the elfshadow in a way we later on agreed was not possible: he summoned the shaddow and both went into ranged combat mode. We decided later on that he has to wield the blade for the shadow to be active, hence the artillery would not have been as effective.

Now for the first round: a beholder.
Time to eliminate the threat: 2 rounds.
My mistake: I decided the beholder would have to locate the mage first since the group was spread out, thus his anti-magic ray was not focused on the wizard.
Reason for the beholder's death: phantasmal killer and a botched save, end of story.
Lesson learned from this: field studies are more effective!

Second round: a dracolich (using the mini and its stats)
Time to eliminate threat: 6 rounds (I think)
Mistakes made: the artillery (see above). Plus I didn't remember that undead are immune to critical hits.

The experiment was ultimately flawed (see above reasons)- I need to prepare monsters thoroughly and know all the stregths and weaknesses. However, the mage, as I was well aware of before, is very dangerous-his phantasmal killer surprised me, plus the saves-DC for his spells is incredibly high due to high INT modifier.

In the current adventure, I will see how the party will fare against themselves, it should be a far more interesting show.

Bottom line: anything can be beaten, but it will be a hell of a lot harder when I am fully in control of the rules.

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  13:54:38  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand
The experiment was ultimately flawed (see above reasons)- I need to prepare monsters thoroughly and know all the stregths and weaknesses. However, the mage, as I was well aware of before, is very dangerous-his phantasmal killer surprised me, plus the saves-DC for his spells is incredibly high due to high INT modifier.

In the current adventure, I will see how the party will fare against themselves, it should be a far more interesting show.

Bottom line: anything can be beaten, but it will be a hell of a lot harder when I am fully in control of the rules.



I have the above same problems...unlike 1E2E, where the monsters and classes were "fixed" in their abilities 3E is much more "mutable"...just changing one feat a monster has could totally change the dynamic of the game...let alone all the hardballs the players throw at you...

on top of that I am dealing with the gestalt option (from Unearthed Arcana, we only have 3 players now ) and that is even worse to find a balance for the game...right now three 3rd Character level PCs are handling (with some creative playing) encounters from ECL 5 to 8

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  14:38:36  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The general problem is the math applied to the entire system, especially when you, like myself, convert characters from a non 3.x version to 3.x. When we started with 3.5 the characters each had a total of some 20k gold available to spend, in addition to their equipment. Hence they started spending and although I raised the prices they naturally went for stat-raising gear. Thus the battlerager who already had a STR of 23, due to his 18/00 in 2nd edition, now has such an insane STR that he rages with 30 or so...
Spells can be deadly, moreso than ever before since most Will-saves are naturally low for the tanks.
I haven't pitted the party against a good caster, yet, but when I do it could mean TPK.

I doubt things will look brighter for "normally" equiped characters.

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  14:42:09  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand

The general problem is the math applied to the entire system, especially when you, like myself, convert characters from a non 3.x version to 3.x. When we started with 3.5 the characters each had a total of some 20k gold available to spend, in addition to their equipment. Hence they started spending and although I raised the prices they naturally went for stat-raising gear. Thus the battlerager who already had a STR of 23, due to his 18/00 in 2nd edition, now has such an insane STR that he rages with 30 or so...
Spells can be deadly, moreso than ever before since most Will-saves are naturally low for the tanks.
I haven't pitted the party against a good caster, yet, but when I do it could mean TPK.

I doubt things will look brighter for "normally" equiped characters.



out of the many problems I am having, is that (in my understanding) even equipment now is considered in the "power base" of a character...thus they need a certain amount of equipment to be at their proper power level...and if you are running a game thta is a low-magic world or low-tech world...does the game fundamantally become unbalanced?

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  14:47:18  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kalin Agrivar
out of the many problems I am having, is that (in my understanding) even equipment now is considered in the "power base" of a character...thus they need a certain amount of equipment to be at their proper power level...and if you are running a game thta is a low-magic world or low-tech world...does the game fundamantally become unbalanced?



That depends, if you use the option in UE it might still work, and yes, items should not belong to the powerlevel of a character. The general problem I face now is with people being equipped with 2 weapons or 2-handed weapons. They deal incredible amounts of damage and hit most of the time, but their AC sucks because of the lack of a shield plus low dex scores. There is only so much you can do with magical items, and I am not sure how to improve this. Sure they can hit a tough mob, but they will get shredded.

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  14:51:59  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand
That depends, if you use the option in UE it might still work, and yes, items should not belong to the powerlevel of a character. The general problem I face now is with people being equipped with 2 weapons or 2-handed weapons. They deal incredible amounts of damage and hit most of the time, but their AC sucks because of the lack of a shield plus low dex scores. There is only so much you can do with magical items, and I am not sure how to improve this. Sure they can hit a tough mob, but they will get shredded.



I'v had that too...especially with the "monkey grip" feat, where they can weild much larger weapons (had a size L half-ogre fighter once with monkey grip and a size H goliath hammer doing over 30 HP with an average hit)

but IMO, let them die if they are concentrating too much on offence and ignoring their defence...the players eithor learn or they don't...that is not a balance problem

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  15:01:04  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They are doing their best, but I won't push their nose into the other options, like amulet of natural armor. What's curious tho is that the mage and the rogue have so incredibly high armor classes it ain't even funny

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Kalin Agrivar
Senior Scribe

Canada
956 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2006 :  15:04:52  Show Profile  Visit Kalin Agrivar's Homepage  Click to see Kalin Agrivar's MSN Messenger address Send Kalin Agrivar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand

They are doing their best, but I won't push their nose into the other options, like amulet of natural armor. What's curious tho is that the mage and the rogue have so incredibly high armor classes it ain't even funny



I have noticed that too

and it is not about forcing them to do other things..it's common sense...if choose light armour for speed, and two weapons for the extra attack, expect to have a low AC and role play accordingly...every character have strengths and weaknesses...more speed and attacks:less defence

I think the trap is, as a DM, to almost "Monty Haul" them with protective items to cover their weaknesses...thus unbalancing the game...

Kalin Xorell El'Agrivar

- High Mage of the Arcane Assembly
- Lore Keeper of the Vault of Ancestors
- 3rd Son of the Lord of the Stand
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