Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Delving into the 5e DMG Part 6 - Rules, Rules, Rules

Master of Rules opens with Chapter 8 Running the Game. The author talk about the nuts and bolts of running a tabletop RPG session. Like the other chapters this section has options but unlike the next chapter what presented here is expected to be a normal party of most 5e campaigns. And just like the other chapter, the tone is drenched in the attitude of DnD your way.

Right off they talk about Table Rules namely Foster Respect, Avoid distractions, and Have Snacks. Next is Table Talk a short section on advice on how to deal with in-game and out of game conversations during the session. Following this are advice on Dice rolling conventions and a short note on if you roll attack dice and damage dice things go quicker. After this the author goes on to talk about Rules Discussions during the game, Metagame thinking, Missing Players, Small Groups, and New Players.

The next major section is on the Role of Dice why, when and how to use dice as a means of adjudication. It starts with Rolling with it, commentary on why you roll dice. Then goes onto Ignoring the Dice, and The Middle Path.

The authors then talk about Using ability scores. Talking about Ability Check including when multiple ability checks are used. The general position on repeated checks is that if you are willing to spend ten times the amount of time on the task you automatically succeed. There is a chart with each ability and what they are commonly used for when used as a check. And wraps with Contents. There is also a box explaining in detail the difference between a Intelligence Check and a Wisdom check. Wisdom allows you to notice things that are there, Intelligence allows you to figure out what it actually means.

The rules continued with Attack Rolls, Saving Throws and what ability is used for what. A saving throw is considered an instant response to a danger. Next is Difficulty Class and how to set them. Moderate is 15 Nearly Impossible is the highest at 30. There is a variant you can use for automatic success. You compare the relevant ability score (not bonus) to the DC if it five or more the task automatically succeeds. For example if you need a DC 10 to break down a door a character with a 15 strength can do it automatically. Then the section goes on to Proficiency, talking about Skill, Tools, Saving Throws, and Attack Rolls. It reminds you that proficient skills and tools can be used with different ability depending on the task. After proficiency comes the advice on setting Advantage and Disadvantage.

After this the author has a fairly long discussion of Inspiration. How to award it for Roleplaying, Heroism, a Rewards for Heroism, along with using Inspiration for rewarding Genre Emulation, and talks about how players can award another player with their inspiration. The section goes on to talk about When do you award Inspiration, Tracking Inspiration, and when to ignore inspiration. It also present a variant where only player award inspiration along with the variant's pros and cons.

Finally the Dice Roll section ends up with a discussion by the authors on Resolution and Consquence of the dice roll. It recommends that if a players fails by 1 or 2 that player is successful but at a cost. Along with Degrees of Failure and Critical Success or Failure.

Then authors move onto rules for Exploration starting with how to use a map. There is a chart that tells you the distance and the number of square or hexes at various maps scales and travel speed. For example A City has 100 ft square and if you are rushing through at a Fast Pace you cover 4 squares or 400 ft a minute. Following this is advice for when a special travel pace is being used like a carpet of flying. Next is a short section on Visibility Outdoors, followed by Noticing other Creatures. Then the authors get into Tracking with a table of DCs to use to adjudicate tracking a creature.

After this is Social Interactions. It starts with Resolving Interactions. Talking about

  • Starting Attitude
  • The Conservation
  • The Charisma Check
  • Then Repeat?  advice on what happens afterwards.

After this the authors talk about Roleplaying, taking a page out of my advice book and stressing that the key is to imagine if you are really there as the character. Along with advising Show not tell.  It talks about Being the NPC, using your voice including when you are not interested or can't do the funny voices. It talks about using your face and arms, along with tips on engaging the players. This includes Appeal to Player preferences and Target specific characters.

After this is all about Objects namely the applicaitons and use of brute force and ignorance on the valued possession of the setting's inhabitants. Objects have an Armor Class, and of course hit points. They give advice for huge object. Either say it takes a certain amount of time or deal with it section by section. Finally some comments on effect of damage types on objects and the fact some objects have Damage Threshold.

The next major section is Combat.  Which include various methods of tracking initiative; Hidden List, Visible List, or Index Cards. Tracking Monster Hit points is discussed including some example. I personally recommend saying away from Mur the ogre who smells like poo. Next is talks about Monsters and Critical Hits. This party is about how to handle Critical Hits when you use average damage. After this is a section on Improvising Damage when you have to make it up. It ranges from 1d10 for being burned by coals to 24d10 from tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of FIre. There is another charts cross indexing character level and whether the damage is a Setback, Dangerous or Deadly.  At the top of the page is a chart for hexes and squarss for different sizes of creatures on a grid.

People who do Theater of the Mind style adjudication are going to love the next section. It is about Adjudicating Area of Effect when you are not using a grid or miniatures. There is a chart where you look up the type of area of effect and then divide the area by a number. That gives the average number of enemies effected. As an option you can roll a 1d3 and add or subtract it to the number. For example a Fireball has a 20 foot radius. The charts say divide the radius by 5. So on average 4 opponents will be effected.

Next is a equally useful section on how to handle mobs. When you have dozens of opponents attacking at once. It gives a formula and a chart that you can use to quickly determine the number of attackers need to score a hit. For example a horde of zombies is trying to hit your AC 15 fighter with a +3 attack. Subtract 3 from 15 to get 12. Look on the table you will see that for 2 zombies one will score a hit.

Miniatures get support as well in the next section. There are diagrams on how to trace cover and calculate flanking on squares and hexes. There is advice on Tactical Maps, How the size of the creatures relates to the number of hexes or squares they cover. Area of Effect, Line or Sigh, and Cover are discussed. There is an optional rule for Flanking which grants advantage to attackers on opposing sides of an opponent. There an optional rule for diagonals which is more realistic given the geometry of squares. Finally there is an optional rule on Facing including it effect on Shields, where a character can attack, and the effect of a rear attack, (It grants advantage). There is short section on the timing of reaction in regards to the action that triggered them.

Next is something I didn't expect, rules and advice on resolving chases. These include Beginning a Chase, Running the Chase, Ending the Chase, Chase Complications (with tables), Splitting Up, Mapping the Chase, and what to do about Role Reversal. THe basic chase mechanics is that you only get a limited amount of dashes (3 + constitution modifier) before exhaustion sets in. If you make a DC 10 con save you can stave off exhaustion for a round. The chase end when one side catches up or stops. There is a chance that if the side makes a opposed Stealth vs Perception check they can evade their pursuers. Chase complications rise on every turn and use a chart to see what happens. There is one for Urban chases and one for Wilderness charges.

Overall I like this section and may use it over the Paizo Chase Cards I been using. The complications are less fantastic then some of the Paizo chase cards.

What DMG is complete without Siege Weapons! You get stats and rules for Ballista, Cannon, Boiling Cauldrons. Mangonel, Rams, Siege Tower, and Trebuchet. After is the ever favorite Diseases including Cackle Fever, and Sewer Plague. Bascially you need to make various save at different times or bad things happend to the character. After this is another old standby Poisons The 5e DMG give 17 different types ranging from Assassin's Blood, Purple Worm poison, and Truth Serum. There is also advice and rules for Purchasing Poisons and Crafting/Harvesting Poisons.

For fans of James Raggi's modules and Call of Cthulu there is a section on Madness including Going Mad (failing a Wisdom or Charisma save), Madness Effects, Short term effects, long term madness, and indefinite madness. Finally ends up with Cure Madness. There is mention of a Sanity system that will be in Chapter 9.

Next is all about Experience Points, what they are, what to do about absent characters, and how to deal with non combat challenges. They present a milestone system where player are rewarded XP for completing a campaign or personal goal. They even talk about Level Advancement without XP including session based advancement, and story based advancement.

Next time the one that will get tongues wagging the options found in the Dungeon Master Workshop.

Link to all parts of the Review


Hedgehobbit said...

4 monsters in a 20' radius fireball seems remarkably low. Also, I don't get the zombie things, is it telling you how many hits a group gets or how many monster you need to get a single hit (so one hit per 3 monsters, etc)?

Rob Conley said...

how many monster you need to get a single hit.