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Stubbed Tongue
2010-03-11, 08:27 PM
So...Fuzzie Fuzz(I hope you don't mind I mentioned you) and I were talking about how we craft campaigns. Would any other DMs on here please share their methods? We as DMs should be on the ever present quest for pointers and tricks to make the 'job' of DMing that much easier.

Thank you in advance.

Katana_Geldar
2010-03-11, 08:35 PM
Allow me to introduce Mr Bond (http://gmgeldar.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/the-james-bond-treatment/)

FoE
2010-03-11, 08:39 PM
I usually have a plan going into a session, but I never stick to it. I don't "force" players to go through all my carefully-scripted encounters, especially if it seems like they're starting to wear out a bit. (A problem in my campaigns, as they tend to be combat-heavy. I DM like I play: always looking for the next fight.)

As to designing campaigns, I've sadly never had the opportunity to do so (most of my adventures have been one-shots), but I have had ideas. Mostly, I like the idea of building around themes, like using an abberation-heavy campaign.

I find coming up with villains is the easiest. Developing the setting, now that's tricky. That's why I tend to do best with established settings like Eberron.

Emmerask
2010-03-11, 08:46 PM
I read a lot of fantasy books and if I find something interesting and somewhat fitting for my current campaign I steal it shamelessly :smallbiggrin:

Swordgleam
2010-03-11, 08:52 PM
I start with something small, then build logically from there. The starting point is usually a cool idea, but it can be anything. I do the same thing with hooks I drop in - no point in fleshing them out if they're not getting followed.

A small example - the local blacksmith can't make a greatsword for the fighter because he's low on steel. This could just be because he has no money to buy more steel, but maybe bandits have been attacking caravans so steel can't get into town, or the king is demanding all steel be sent to him to equip his army. Maybe something's happening at the iron mines. It could be any or all of the above, and if the players never decide it's important, then it's not.

Stubbed Tongue
2010-03-11, 09:04 PM
Swordgleam "and if the players never decide it's important, then it's not"
Words to live/create by. As DM I feel like I'm am their employee(not in a bad way, I just wish to make the best game possible).

Emmerask "if I find something interesting and somewhat fitting for my current campaign I steal it" yep me too. Creative laziness almost.

FoE "I don't "force" players to go through all my carefully-scripted encounters" sometimes you just have to ad lib on the fly. Stay fluid.

Katana_Geldar *reads other page.

Thanks people.

DabblerWizard
2010-03-11, 09:07 PM
I have a campaign with a homebrew world. Back when I was a teenager, I started writing this fantasy story about elves, wizards, and such things, but I never finished it. So eventually, when the idea to DM came up, I just took the basic elements I had already written, or still had in my head, and went from there.

Now, what does that mean?

I haphazardly drew a large land mass on a blank sheet of paper. I made sure it had jagged edges and weird jettisons and such. Natural geography doesn't have very many clean lines.

From there I decided on the major races I wanted in my campaign world. I started drawing out where they might live. Soon borders pressed against each other, and I had to figure out how spatial proximity would effect relations between regions.

I decided, for one, that humans are a major race in the world, and so, they have more than one region in which they are dominant.

I took ideas having to do with socio-political comfort, and thought that not everyone would want to live in the main human region that was very militaristic and heavy handed. I figured some group of outcasts would want to leave the authoritarian region. Oh look, let's make an isolated area separated by a mountain range that can be a sort of "outcasts unite" kind of region. How would they survive, how would they react to others, what are their major philosophies, etc.

I did that process with all the regions. I figured out where their major cities would be, etc.

There's more to it I suppose, but I can't think of anything else at the moment.

Oh. By the way, Rich gives some really good campaign world tips that can be found here: http://www.giantitp.com/Gaming.html

His insights are superb.

waterpenguin43
2010-03-11, 09:11 PM
I first brainstorm for a campaign setting and a plot, then I piece it together as appropriate, adding characters and encounters in, preparing alternatives in case the players to do something that wouldn't allow me to use one of my ideas, fix it up a bit and BOOM!! You've got an adventure.

As for railroading/not balance, I generally use a "path" metaphor; You can leave it, but you're going to get sucked back into the plot somehow eventually.

Swordgleam
2010-03-11, 09:35 PM
waterpenguin's post reminded me: I try to make all my ideas portable. I have a cool idea for an encounter in a cave with lava monsters, and the players don't go into the cave? The next town has an arena, and wouldn't you know it, it's set up like a cave for this tourney and one of the challenges is fighting lava monsters.

Radiun
2010-03-11, 09:40 PM
I generate three random adventures
I need to know the
Contractor's Type
Contractor's Social Status
Villain's Type
Subtype (Optional)
The Problem
Problem Accessories
The Environment

I form a general idea of how each quest would work out.
Then I make 1-3 generic battles that they'll face no matter the adventure they pick.
The party picks which ever quest they want, and we go from there. They wanted to stop an assassination? I need some rogues and a reason for someone to have contracted an assassination. They want to help the elves on the mountain? Well survival will be the name of the game. An Outsiders are raiding a city? They should have a mode of access, so a planar portal, and I don't need to think too hard to figure out what enemies the PCs will face.

Then again I'm lazy and like to procrastinate, so living in this sort of week-to-week way works for me.

FoE
2010-03-11, 09:41 PM
I wouldn't call my adventures "carefully-scripted." I'm too lazy to write out dialogue; I just write some notes and improvise the rest.

Ormur
2010-03-11, 09:59 PM
I made a world where certain things are going to happen that the campaign will be about but in what order or what the result will be I don't know. The world is pretty detailed so the players could end up most anywhere and find plot hooks. I don't know what every region looks like but I have enough information to be able to construct it on short notice, I even made a d100 table with forms of government. Aside from that I only plan the next session or two.

I still think I'm doing things too linearly and I've sometimes had to tell the players what to do but as the plot gets thicker and the world more detailed (I continue building on it as things unravel) I hope their choices will become greater and less dependant on quest-givers. The best thing would be to plant enough clues about what has to be done next for them to arrive at a course of action themselves and not necessarily the one you though up (in fact quite the opposite). The ideal campaign would be where the players came up with all the ideas on how to advance the plot themselves and where I'd be prepared enough to react to that. I'm certainly not there yet.

It's also important to remember that the NPC's are rational people that will react to the actions of the players in order to further their own goals. If it's a long campaign you might have to consider when the powerful NPC's become aware of the players if they aren't from the beginning.

Bibliomancer
2010-03-11, 10:01 PM
Whenever possible, I try to link events in the world to the PCs (or their previous characters). For example, in the current campaign the PCs caught a ride on an airship piloted by a cleric that survived from 1st to 10th level in the last campaign.

Apart from that, I write down notes for the cultures/factions they are going to encounter and make things up from there. If you plan too far ahead, you're simply wasting your time.

That said, I do have ideas for a longer plot arc, and I'm planning to get the characters involved by linking the main plot to as many characters' backstories as possible to increase the odds that they won't get distracted mid-quest.

HailDiscordia
2010-03-11, 10:08 PM
I plan the world with some degree of detail, I certainly know who the main players are and what they are looking for. The one thing that I never plan is the plot. That's the job of the PC's. I learned when I was younger that if you try to make the PC's go a certain direction then they never will. It is sort of rule #1 of DMing, at least I think so.

And I've always got a random encounter or two to throw at them and slow things down if they start to move in a direction that I was not expecting. That has saved my butt a bunch of times. Not repetitive encounters, but something of substance that ties into the PC's interests.

And I change things all the time before it reaches the PC's. Right now they are headed for the abandoned keep of a noble family in which the estranged daughter of the family has taken up the "Dark Arts". What are they dark arts? Got me. In my head they have been related to undead, demons, evil elementals, and corrupt wizards. I will usually just go with what seems to be working best at the moment.

Radiun
2010-03-11, 10:12 PM
[...] family has taken up the "Dark Arts". What are they dark arts? Got me.[...]

Entropy

Their spells have caused their house to age horribly and become decrepit, as it will the PCs.

The fight won't have the potential of a TPK, most likely, as their spells age the PCs more and more, wither their limbs, steal their youth. But the nobles will only have 1 frail melee fight of their own. The Grandfather, whom they wanted to relive his glory days against foes who were on... more equal footing (also advanced in age)

Katana_Geldar
2010-03-11, 10:15 PM
I use an established setting (Star Wars) so there is quite a lot that I can't do if I want to keep my players on the same page as me, going on their assumptions of things saves a lot of exposition.

All the same, I have bit by bit started to establish my own presence there. Started with a planet and the battle the PCs were in as well as a few species. Then there's a few NPCs I wanted to explore in different stages of their lives as I can play with time periods. One of my antagonists, a super-spy who has my players on a string and they don't know it, is around sixteen in my other campaign and still rather innocent. It's interesting to get both ends and make them meet in the middle.

The same goes for places.

Stubbed Tongue
2010-03-11, 10:19 PM
DabblerWizard: "Back when I was a teenager...". you sound like me. A solid idea is just that, a solid idea. No reason to create more if you already have something nice and workable.

waterpenguin43: "but you're going to get sucked back into the plot somehow eventually."
Exactly. I try to hide it as best I can.

Swordgleam "and wouldn't you know it" almost every encounter is portable. Come to think of it I can't think of any encounter I've done that can't be move somewhere else topographically.

Radiun "The party picks which ever quest they want, and we go from there..." I would say I DM most like you.

FoE "...improvise..." Dialogue shouldn't be scripted. It feels artificial that way. At least to me.


Ormur: "The ideal campaign would be where the players came up with all the ideas on how to advance the plot themselves and where I'd be prepared enough to react to that" This, this ,yes, this is why I wanted input. Great.

And as for linear: I've had some players actually ask for that.


Bibliomancer: "If you plan too far ahead, you're simply wasting your time." Totally agree.
"I try to link events in the world to the PCs" It's awesome to see one of your player's face light up when you mention one of their other characters(different campaign) as having sacked a large city. The PCs are movers and shakers. Give them their due.

HailDiscordia & Radiun: That just flows. Love it. Might use your ideas in my game if you don't mind. You will of course get credit once the plot hook is over.

Katana_Geldar: I do that too. An established world with my own little slice to use. Currently it's Greyhawk.


Awesome. I don't know about you guys/gals but I'm having fun. The beer I'm drinking probably helps too, but hey.

JaronK
2010-03-11, 11:12 PM
The most important point for me has always been that my job is to make the players have more fun, and that their fun is more important than my original story concept.

JaronK

Emmerask
2010-03-12, 10:33 AM
If you plan too far ahead, you're simply wasting your time.


Depends my campaign world is not pc centric in any way for example:

I planned a murder mystery adventure for my players that came down to a vampire lord creating an extremely powerful artifact (raising the dead in a one mile radius and giving him immunity against a lot of things). Well this time they took the plot hook and saved the day.
But if they had not the events would have still happened and the vampire lord would have attacked their kingdom with his hundreds of thousands strong undead army. So while a bit of the work I put in there would have gone to "waste" (research could still reveal what had happened) there are parts of it that are salvageable still ^^

Cyrion
2010-03-12, 10:48 AM
I tend to try to design worlds that will last for extended play. My last GURPS campaign lasted ~10 years IRL (partly due to sporadic play and partly because of the richness of the setting). To do that, I look for a hook for the world- what makes it an interesting place to play and spawn adventures that will engage the party.

My swashbuckling GURPS campaign was based on Europe with slight changes-
1) Columbus didn't come back- had repercussions religiously and politically
2) Magic was frowned upon by the Church, but it's real, upping the ante on witch hunts...
3) Non-humans (NPCs all) exist, and each represents one of the four elements.

From there I look at what the characters and players are likely to find as a good hook, and design adventures around those so that I rarely have to worry about the characters not going into my cave full of lava monsters. Then, as Swordgleam said- if they don't bite this time, I port a lot of the work to another adventure or context.

I also plan for some of the big events that will happen whether the PCs are involved or not- invasions, deaths of kings, etc. If the PCs are involved- great! If they're not, they change the tide of events- usually in a way that generates more adventures that the party would be interesting, and we're off and running again.

valadil
2010-03-12, 11:02 AM
I always write down ideas whether or not I'm running a game or not. I have a personal wiki and a google doc I use to capture plot musings. Sometimes I'll read through those ideas and if enough of them have something in common I'll wrap them up and call it a game.

I basically run the game like a simulation. I have a list of NPCs and plots. Between sessions I go through each of them and update what happened to them that session. If nothing happened, they'll get bored and find something to do.

I don't own any plots. They're all parts of the NPCs. If the PCs don't react the way the plot expected, it's up to the NPC to react. This helps keep the game realistic and interesting. (Typing this over has reminded me that it's something I need to get back to doing in my current game. The intoductory sessions were a little too railroady as I attempted to set up the premise and I need to back off of that.)

I rarely plan more than a session in advance. PCs go where they like and trying to predict where they'll be in a month's time is wasted effort. I'm much too lazy to waste effort.

Shinizak
2010-03-12, 11:28 AM
I don't create a plot, I create an environment. Since I can't tell what the PC's will do I just create a detailed map, a list of events leading up to the story at hand, the required NPCs (complete with personalities), and one or two plot hooks.

bosssmiley
2010-03-12, 11:34 AM
Steal what you like the look of. File off the serial numbers. Exploit mercilessly.
Game blogs are gold for this.

Ashiel
2010-03-12, 12:02 PM
Another post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=145129) on the subject matter; as far as GMing goes. I'll probably try to write up an adventure/encounter guidebook next.

valadil
2010-03-12, 12:04 PM
Steal what you like the look of. File off the serial numbers. Exploit mercilessly.
Game blogs are gold for this.

You can also come up with something original by stealing bits and pieces. Take a scene out of a movie. Put that in your game. The result will still be something unique though. The characters are entering the scene from a different direction and when they leave they'll be heading off somewhere else entirely. The combination of entrance * ripped off premise * exit is going to be unique.

Traveler
2010-03-12, 12:12 PM
Set campaign world.
Set modual.
Make adjustment to fit world.
Adjust/scrap mod plot to fit the continuing plot.
Prepare for the PC's probable actions.

This usually works to a point. Take ideas for what you can and with without mercy or regret. Make encounters (and the over all game) fun. The player's in game goals are more important then the plot.

As to preparing for PC actions... I never ever seem to be able to prepare enough.:smallsigh:

Octopus Jack
2010-03-12, 03:56 PM
For a setting, I like to take time devoloping a complex detailed world, with places the PCs will probably never go to and plot hooks that probably won't be used, I like my worlds to feel complete.
I tend to give my PCs a sortof choice but nudge them along the right path. In my current campaign their choices start of limited but open up alot more as they progress.
Encounters are planned with notes but not scripted, and if I think the PCs have a very good chance of being TPKd I tend to tone down fights (the owlbear was an exception) and sometimes I just wing it :smallsmile:

Project_Mayhem
2010-03-12, 03:59 PM
Amusingly, this is what I'm doing right now - adapting York into a Neverwhere style Changeling setting. I started by brainstorming and writing down any cool ideas I could think of. Now I'm developing key npcs.

Stubbed Tongue
2010-03-12, 05:26 PM
Wow, such good ideas on here. I can identify with most of you.

KatfishKaos
2010-03-12, 10:00 PM
1. Beginning
2. Stuff goes down
3. ???
4. PROFIT!

Thats about it... My players tell me their characters I make basic world based off of that. I have one or two generic quests (that I use for most games, just changed a little depending on the setting) that let me get a feel of the characters... The rest of the world/quests are now based off of the characters... No notes, no pre-thought out ideas. But by the 4-6th session? I have pages upon pages of random NPCs that my players have met. You'll learn to love excel VERY quickly.

By the 10th session I like to know what the end will be, that by no means sets it in stone. Its just a good basis. Remember the world is their oyster, but my god... That oyster can be bashed, slashed, magicked, shot and whatever your players can think of. The oysters changes.

Never worry about running out of quests... You have, Family (most of my players purposely put wives, husbands, children into my campaigns) rules for family, they're there to be saved, hurt but saved. Make your players genuinely terrified for their family, and they'll love you for it. Make the situation hopeless, and their backgrounds will all be about orphanages.

Friends, your players are playing heroes. Their friends are going to be just as awesome. You can't pull the family trick with the friends. But what you can do is have the friends do something stupid, like take an evil item. Borrow money from the wrong guy. Friends can be a plot hook as epic as any other.

BBEG (A), tried and true. Some dude wants to do something the world (or just your party) don't agree with. You can deal with this in one of two ways, the quest is there rock'n'roll! Or... A BBEG (B) has done something (killing someone important usually does the trick) and the players now hunt him down. Whilst doing all of that your players are actually coming after BBEG (A). It adds depth.

The last one that my DM has used on me, something is going on in the world... Its their job to figure it out. For instance; A new drug hit the streets of London (nWoD), I was playing a agent to find out where it came from, seeming it was obviously supernatural. Epic ensued, as my character's morality degraded and he started killing vampires, changeling (WHILST balancing a family). Also, by the end of the campaign he became a changeling (became a Knight of a True Fae, broke the contract, lulz ensued).

My biggest tip would be NPCs, don't write off one because you found him/her/it, boring. My players have remembered and loved characters that I thought they had completely forgot about. These NPCs then became quite interesting parts of the campaign.

If you want more info on anything just ask. But my players have never complained about the games. And we've been playing since we were all about 12 (my first campaign was gloriously bad).

KellKheraptis
2010-03-12, 10:13 PM
I have a horrible habit of Tolkien syndrome, and doubly so because all the published settings exist within my homebrew (well...Krynn does through what has been brought from it...the planet itself is no more thanks to a deific temper tantrum in one of our epic games and Paladine thinking Kell -now Cosmic Entity level when I DM- wouldn't do it). All is interconnected "mundanely" through portals and spelljamming, yet is also it's own separate entity all to itself as well. Several homebrew races also exist, including a strange hybrid of orc and elf (sturdiness and strength of the orc, agility and senses of the elf, none of the weaknesses of either), akin to the uruk-hai, and some of the material from Arcana Evolved is integrated. It also has far more sources than strictly WotC (i.e. Mongoose mainly, and of course Monte's stuff is fair game too, as is Cordell's). However, on the player scale, I keep things fluid and malleable, as even the best laid plans are inevitably going to go awry, especially with a competent group on your hands. In particular, divinations can rapidly accelerate party progress along a plotline, or even derail it entirely, and I plan for and expect this, being primarily a wizard player myself. But I keep the worldview and cosmos-view in perspective at all times, in relation to party actions, and make the fallout of such readily apparent when appropriate. Even if it's a behind the scenes effect, eventually they will see the fruit of their actions, for good or ill. I also don't ignore the fact that they aren't the only ones affecting the world(s), which they may or may not see the outcomes of. After all, any ruler worth his salt, even on a magister level, will have some means of damage control, and something in place to discourage or prevent the actions that trigger said damage control. Again, doesn't need to be overboard detailed to the last wart on the nose of every commoner in the crystal sphere, but at least where the party is remotely likely to end up or end up going, probably a good idea to already have an idea what the possible fallout scenarios could be.

Private-Prinny
2010-03-12, 11:51 PM
I start off with several basic starting points, all cleverly disguised to lead into the main quest. No matter what seemingly simple quest they pick, it all winds up on the same path.

From there, the players are key. I'll present two sides that are suspicious of each other. If they side with one, then the other side is evil. If they pick neither, then a third party tries to convince them to stop the full scale war. If the players don't have some degree of freedom, the game feels less like a game and more like me ordering them around, which is less fun for everyone involved.

One thing I always do without fail is optimizing major NPCs. Defeating generic necromancer #583 isn't as satisfying as bringing down the commander of a near infiite legion of demons. Having friends in high places also gives some sort of justification for why the heroes are asked to do everything, as well as providing some sense of accomplishment when they surpass someone who's had amazing power for half the campaign.

That all said, I am a killer DM. I build the encounters based on the way that I would organize the party. If a few bad rolls nearly end up in a TPK, I'll scale back the monster a bit, but my party needs to be either smart or lucky just to survive the session.

FoE
2010-03-13, 12:01 AM
That all said, I am a killer DM. I build the encounters based on the way that I would organize the party. If a few bad rolls nearly end up in a TPK, I'll scale back the monster a bit, but my party needs to be either smart or lucky just to survive the session.

Whereas I build encounters with the survivability of my players in mind.

I've never gotten over my one experience with a killer GM: my evil brother, who led his two younger siblings into a meat grinder and finished us off with a rock.

Private-Prinny
2010-03-13, 12:18 AM
Whereas I build encounters with the survivability of my players in mind.

I've never gotten over my one experience with a killer GM: my evil brother, who led his two younger siblings into a meat grinder and finished us off with a rock.
I'm not quite that bad. I build survivability in as the overall goal, but they have to work for it. If a player comes up with an unorthodox method of getting around a trap, I allow it.

For example, the party rogue noticed a pressure switch. Our fighter took out a rock and tossed it onto the switch. Everyone forgot about the rock, myself included, so I ruled that the traps were now used up.

Seracain
2010-03-13, 12:43 PM
My methods for campaign building and session building are a little different.

For a campaign, I first create a world/universe/city. I work out a rough history, the current state of the world, who the movers n shakers are (excluding the players), and what would happen if the players did nothing but sit on their hands.

Then I figure out some interesting locations, some in fixed locations within the world, while the rest go in a pile for content on the fly. After that I come up with some general rumours, mysteries and gossip for the players to randomly encounter whenever is appropriate. Such as a caravan on the road, or general chit chat with a merchant before haggling, etc.

I use these as plot hooks for quest/missions that might not come up for a while. Sometime they eventuate into spontaneous adventures, sometimes they fade into obscurity, sometimes they sit on the playersí minds as something to do in the future.

Once the setting is established, I then compare it to the rule system Iím using and do any tweaking of rules and basic home brewing to fit the campaignís flavour and a tiny bit vise versa.

Now the stage is set, I inform the players about the worldís basics, what to expect from the campaign (something I view as very important), and what limits or extras on the rules Iíve placed. Then I leave them to come up with a character or a few characters. At this point I make some minor changes to the setting to better fit the playerís characters, providing they arenít too out of place.

The aim for me is to create the feel of a concrete world that functions with or without the players, but is in reality fluid enough to mold to the players actions and experinces.

To aid this, I, for the most part, keep most of the world info to myself. Especially since long tirades of history, world stability, and random places/NPCs would bore my players. I only give them basics, critical information and anything futher they want explained. Unless it is directly connected to them, in which case I give a moderate amount of info.

Then I litter my sessions with random fluff scraps, hints of things and random conversations about the world (intermixed with the plot hooks I came up with earlier), elaborating on anything my players become interested in. I suppose you could say I give fluff hooks for things about the world.

Also if there is a common known fact that a character would know related to a current situation, but the player doesnít know, I point it out and reaffirm any actions they were about to take. After all, you are their lens into the world, and itís your responsibility to make sure they are aware of what their characters know. Iíve played with a surprising number of GMs who donít do this.

And that long bit of text is a summary of my campaign creation.

Creed
2010-03-13, 12:52 PM
the villain makes the campaign
in the words of the 3.5E sourcebook Exemplars of Evil,"Would Drizzt be nearly as compelling if there was no Entreri?"

HailDiscordia
2010-03-13, 01:22 PM
the villain makes the campaign
in the words of the 3.5E sourcebook Exemplars of Evil,"Would Drizzt be nearly as compelling if there was no Entreri?"

I disagree. I've had many fun campaigns in which there wasn't even a central villain. Sometimes I will put a villain out there and the PC's just don't bite on it. It's great to have a long term foil for the party, but it is not neccesary.

Also, I tend to deal with a lot of neutral and evil leaning parties, so they don't really care about villains all that much. Though they do love to stick it to the do-gooders when they get a chance. I guess I think that when you sink too much time into making a great villain you will try to railroad the PC's into going after them. Of course it does not always play out that way, it's just one potential outcome.

Icewraith
2010-03-13, 06:00 PM
There are a variety of different methods:

1: What looks really cool?
Why, a half-blue dragon blackguard on a half-fiend dire lion. That would look cool. Became a major recurring villain.

2: What would be really effective?
Succubus with advanced sorcerer casting. Also became a major recurring villain.

3: Is there a tactic my players are consistently using that's becoming really effective, and it's time to give them a taste of their own medicine?
The succubus got tricked out for counterspelling. Then not only was it a great recurring villain, it was a great foil for my counterspell-happy player. You can introduce opponents that are direct counters to player tactics, but you must not do it in every encounter and the opponents must have reasonable resources (divinations, spies, etc) to know about said tactics.

4: What facial expression would I like to see?
I had the PC's two-weapon fighter g/f kidnapped and substituted with a Marilith. He barely survived the reveal encounter. I will never forget the reveal moment, and neither will he :)

5: If your Player comes up with a brilliant idea, go with it:

So the PC low-level halfling rogue is scouting a goblin camp and he's holed up in the bushes when a sentry patrols near him. I roll a d20 to see how favorable the setup is and get a fumble.
Me "Make a spot check"
He succeeds.
"You look down at your feet and a bright-green snake as long as your arm is crawling out of a hole by your foot. It looks up at you and hisses, revealing large, poison dripping fangs. The scout is drawing closer. What would you like to do?"
Him, after a minute or so of frantic thinking:
"Wait... can I throw the snake?"
Someone, possibly me: "OH dear lord look at the gleam in his eyes!"
*5 minutes of laughter*

After a touch attack to grab the snake, a missed attack of opportuntity from said snake, a successful ranged attack after penalty, and an initiative roll, the flat-footed goblin scout is hit out of nowhere with a flying Tiny Venomous Viper. Then the goblin is dropped into negative hp by the snake. A number of goblins come running when they hear their sentry call out and fall down, but they find one poisoned unconscious goblin and one angry snake. (Really good hide check from the rogue) One minute later the goblin dies from secondary poison con damage.

6: Try to be creative, but steal from everything you possibly can in the meantime. One time I had a portal to a pocket dimension that was basically pulled straight from stargate, but with the notable twist that the portal was an inch high and hidden at the bottom of a labyrinth inside a pyramid.

7: Preface all major boss encounters with at least 2 stalling fights. Try not to telegraph the boss fight is coming just yet. Doing so prevents the PCs going into the boss fight with all their spells and tricks available, and nova-ing the boss in the first round. This is unsatisfying for everyone. If the boss has faced the PCs before, you're allowed to have preparations in place to counter party tactics (if the party has a particularly dangerous archer, low level make sure the BBEG is using wind wall, mid level wall of force, epic use his treasure to purchase an epic shield of arrow deflection. The archer can still open up on minions and whatnot, but has to wait for the protections to be dispelled or find a way to get past the los obstruction before nuking the BBEG)

Do note that with impatient players you may find yourself successful beyond your wildest dreams with what they are willing to do to get out of a stalling encounter. Many times they will "nova" the trash and end up having to conserve resources against the boss, which at least in my group led to more satisfying play from everyone, as the counterspeller all of a sudden had to pick and choose what spells he was going to stop.

Oslecamo
2010-03-13, 06:15 PM
7: Preface all major boss encounters with at least 2 stalling fights. Try not to telegraph the boss fight is coming just yet. Doing so prevents the PCs going into the boss fight with all their spells and tricks available, and nova-ing the boss in the first round. This is unsatisfying for everyone. If the boss has faced the PCs before, you're allowed to have preparations in place to counter party tactics (if the party has a particularly dangerous archer, low level make sure the BBEG is using wind wall, mid level wall of force, epic use his treasure to purchase an epic shield of arrow deflection. The archer can still open up on minions and whatnot, but has to wait for the protections to be dispelled or find a way to get past the los obstruction before nuking the BBEG)


In alternative, do telegraph the boss fight is coming, but cover said boss with mooks with defensive and ofensive abilities. Dispellers to screw the party's buffs. Buffers(at least one arcane and one divine) to pimp out their boss to hell and back so whatever the party throws at him bounces off untill they've worn out his multiple layers of defenses. Meat fodder to clog up the party's movements while the boss walks around freely attacking the party. You need some preparation to make it work properly, but it's totally worth it and makes up for some great fights.