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View Full Version : DM Help Planing on DMing Rise of the Runelords (Pathfinder) on Roll20 - Help/Tips/Ideas?



Kaemon
2014-11-05, 10:19 PM
Hello there, I'm usually not very active here but I love reading some post by time to time, specially those about good/bad experiences as/with DM or Players.
So lately I have been trying to get a Rise of the Runelords campaign for Pathfinder going using the online tool Roll20. We haven't started yet (as only 1 of my IRL friends seems interested so far) and was even thinking about the possibility of looking for some players online. If you are interested let me know, but I'm afraid we are only looking for spanish people. Wouldn't mind playing in English myself (as a player) if I was allowed in a game (as I need some practice with my spoken English), and I even could GM in English for people I know and that were okay with my lack of practice speaking it, but I really can't GM in English right now, not only because I'm not confident enough with my English, but because my IRL friend doesn't speaks it.

I have learned a lot of what to do and what not to do just by reading those fun "Worst/Best GM/Players" posts, but I figured out I could ask here for some extra advice.
We are pretty new with the whole Pathfinder rules (I already did read them, knew some basic things from old D&Ds even if we didn't play those long neither). Main problem is that my experience pretty much starts and ends with me teaching my IRL friends how a system goes and then GMing for them. Sure, they would look/read/learn things I didn't bother learning/reading myself (like many classes/races/spells that were only for players), and we would discuss and look for online discussions about some rules, but is not the same as joining other groups and seeing other GMs and players at work and learn from that as well.
Lately I have been watching some people on Youtube that were playing using Roll20 or MapTools, and that helps seeing what works and what not, but when you are not part of the group (just watching a video) it can get pretty boring... and we aren't talking short videos here.

So I was wondering how you guys handle some things and I'm open for general tips and suggestions. As far as I know (only did read the 50 first pages of chapter 1) Rise of the Runelords is quite linear but its a quite nice adventure and I don't think any player would have problems with it (and most likely they will just follow all the hooks without need of rail-roading). I know I should improvise and allow them to go with whatever ideas/plans they have in mind even if they aren't contingencies for them in the books and the like. Overall (biased much) I think I am a good GM.

Anyway... We haven't started yet in fact we are waiting until the weekend to see if we can convince some extra IRL friends before looking for players online (still feel free to contact me already if you may be interested in joining and can speak Spanish) but I have already some "quite big" doubts that I would like to sort out before even starting and read what you guys think about them:

1 - The Drow PC:

The other player already enlisted (an IRL friend) wanted to play a non-core Char/Race for a change (too many Human Barbarian and Elven Archers if you follow my drill). He has no real practice with D&D/Pathfinder, but he has played a lot Hero Quest and other simple RPGs. He checked the advanced classes and saw Summoner and his Eidolon, I read it along with him, discussed some things (overall I think we have no real doubts beyond how do you heal him beyond the spell that heals him, as he never seems to regenerate when summoned/not-summoned) and it looks quite fun and have no problems with him playing that. However... He also checked the races listed online and he wanted to be a Noble Drow and then (after I told him I wouldn't allow) a Drow.
First of all, Noble Drow? Seriously? Why the **** is that listed as a playable race. If some player wants to play something overpowered or so out-of-the-charts he should discuss it with the GM, but it shouldn't be there in the middle of a core/advanced list just to force GMs tell their players "No, because no".
Second of all... He doesn't know how the drows are; so I explained him the problems of him choosing a drow. How all the other races hate them and how he pretty much couldn't get into any town unless he hided his real identity and what not. He felt like I was already "nerfing" or "banning" for no reason. I explained him a little about the drows and why usually they shouldn't be a player character for a "normal" campaign, but that if he really wanted to be a drow we could come up with something. Maybe he could have been raised since he was a baby in Sandpoint (starting city) and people where used to him in particular (and replacing the powers/proficiencies that wouldn't make sense without being raised by drows with human/elf/something ones) or that he could maybe conceal his true nature via hood or a free magic item or something, at least until the other characters grew fond of him.. or that we could even make up something similar to the drow (same stats/similar appearance) but different and recognizable by the inhabitants of the world, like "Night Elves".
Also note that I don't think he is planning on playing an Evil character at all (I kinda wouldn't allow it unless he can manage to make it work with the group) as he has zero experience with role-playing and so far he sees it just like what toon you would choose on an online game because it looks cool... Making "The drows in this world are treated like elves" wouldn't do it, as that is stupid and for that he could just play an elf (and told him so but he argued that they have different stats)...

Anyway... Not a big problem on itself, but really curious on how do you guys usually handle a character wanting to be X when its very disruptive for the party/campaign/etc. Should I just stay firm and say that drows and other creatures that don't seem to fit for player characters are pretty much banned as such for this campaign? Keep my original approach of "let's try to make it work" even if it feel a little forced? And most curious about: how would you and your NPCs act in the presence of an unknown Drizzt Do'Urden? Should he be forbidden from cities and attacked on sight/etc? I never GMed something like that.
(Fun enough this IRL friend of mine hasn't read any of R.A.Salvatore's books, as stated previously he doesn't have a clue of how the drow race acts or anything drow-related, he just thought looks and stats where cool).


2 - The Player Re-Roll:

So, lets say my players make some bad decisions or have very bad luck with the dice and someone ends dead... I try to challenge my players but I honestly feel bad if I kill them (and we aren't even used to role-play the characters, imagine how I could feel if they were emotionally attached to them!) but sometimes **** happens. I usually give them lots of opportunities to survive: houseruling things like 0/-10 = unconscious instead of dead before that was a thing in games, allowing them to force-feed heal potions down "dead" allies gorges, sometimes even going as far as giving them a freebie "this time you survive"... That last one I did only once, and it was one per player after I felt forced to do so on the first one dying and because we didn't have re-roll contingencies planned. On one hand I know killing them can suck a lot, but on the other a game where you can't die and with no real-risk (read pretty much "you can't lose") stops being a game and becomes pointless (unless you are really heavy into role playing and don't care about the "game", I guess).

I don't know if there are "default re-rolling rules" anywhere in the books, but I personally like the house-rules of the order "You can't choose the same class again" and "Your new character has -1 level".

The first rule is so that Generic Barbarian A doesn't come back as Generic Barbarian B just as he dies (sometimes asking about just re-using the same sheet because of laziness)... In fact, one time they died 1st level at the start of a campaign because they went head-first into a big goblin camp instead of investigating it, (even if in hindsight it was probably more my fault than theirs) and 2 of the players wanted to just reuse their sheets (because they had good stats and wanted to play those classes that died on the 3rd session), one wanted to try out a new class (good boy!), one didn't care but was going to try a new class, and the other... he wanted to re-roll even before playing because he had bad stats (4d6 keep 3, he was a ranger with a +2, a -2 and four 0). Will make another point about this guy in particular later on.

The second house rule is so people don't go "Man, I'm bored of my Barbarian, I feel like playing a Mage, I will just suicide and re-roll". I also don't want them to do this just to "re-roll" after getting bad stats or to get more items (as the group would have whatever the one that died had and whatever the new char brings along with him). I guess I would have no problem with someone wanting to play as something else, but I'm afraid of some of my players just using that excuse trying to get better stats...

So... How do you guys handle re-rolling? Anything special? Anything wrong with what I just exposed?
Should I also make clear that they are NOT allowed to give the magical +1 sword from the fighter that just died to the barbarian they happen to meet a couple of hours later? Should I give the re-rolling players lower XP/Level in some way so dying has some kind of consequence on the character you will be playing beyond being forced to make a new sheet? Should I forbid them for playing the same class twice in a row?
Those things are quite hard for me to handle as I have little experience with role-playing players. My players (trying to change that) are more concerned with stats, so if their Lv2 "toon" (not "character") happen to die and they don't care about their character's story/arc/etc and just reroll another Lv2 "toon" it feels like dying has no consequence at all...
As for the penalty I was thinking "-1 Level compared with your previous character or -1 compared to the lowest alive party member; whatever is higher".


3 - Role-Playing, Min-Maxers and Rolling Stats:

Overall I wouldn't call my IRL friend are min-maxers, at least when compared to some complains I read in these forums... And if I end playing with people I meet online I don't know how they will turn out to be... But as stated before we never were big on the role-playing aspect...
I want that to change with this new campaign, telling them to please try to role-play their chars instead of discussing what moves each of their "figurines" will do to defeat the "Orc Mob Number 3" while talking it all completely out of character and meta-gaming non-stop. So far I wanted to just explain to them that it will be funnier this way, that I will probably reward with XP (or maybe "Hero/Luck Points" or similar) to those who roleplay or something, and that combat becomes way funnier if you tell me what your dwarf barbarian does without discussing/asking with the other guys what they will do or have a consensus on whats the better course of action for the whole party. Its way funnier if they learn to fight together because of the in-character-discussions they have after a fight ("Don't charge those big groups your stupid barbaric dwarf! I always have a fireball ready for big groups!") instead of just discussing what will happen and what each will do in what order while completely out of character...
So... Any tips to encourage role-playing? Any extra tip just make it easier on their end? I'm pretty sure they (and myself) feel quite shy/ridiculous/embarrassed about the whole role-playing aspect.

As for the min-maxer... I wouldn't call them min-maxer per-se, but since they aren't role-playing anyway, their chooses of Class, Race, Feats and what-not are more often than not leaded just by the desire to just make their "toon" as strong as possible. Bear in mind that they all played videogames (most notably WoW) where the only goal pretty much is to just get the "bigger numbers" you can to "be the best", so they have that kind of mentality going on... They don't think about doing a memorable character with a personality but how to arrange the stats so they are the best killing machines, and I respecc that and the min-maxing is not that much of a trouble, but I would prefer to minimize or know how to handle it if it starts getting out of hand... So far I tried to explain to them (well, the only one that has agreed to play so far) that they should try to care a little more about making an interesting character that they feel like role-playing and not so much about a combo of stats that feels strong. Not saying (and I specifically pointed this to him) that they should end with something useless or make poor choices for the sake of it, but not to worry so much about what will be "better"/"more useful" and just roll with what they think it could be more fun.
But then, if they happen to die in X situation (and again, not trying to kill them but giving them real challenges by time to time its a possibility) they may blame me for telling them not to optimize their chars 100%... So, how do you handle this? Not a big problem on itself (yet) but then this "problem" kinda mixes with the next part of this point... the starting stats.

So, for the stats I personally like/love the "roll 3d6, 6 times, place them where you want" ("in order" sucks unless ALL the players are fine with the challenge of playing whatever class you happened to roll). But this has quite big chances of having some really low rolls, so we moved to "roll 4d6, keep 3" to make it less random and so they are sightly stronger than average without breaking anything. For me? That's just perfect. Sometimes you get average rolls, sometimes good, sometime bad, but you roll with it and this time around your Barbarian may be weaker than another Barbarian (form the same player or another player) was, and that's no biggie... for me.
For some of my players this seemed to be a problem. Not to all of them, but there was one in particular that pretty much didn't feel like playing, AT ALL; because he had AVERAGE stats (+2, -2, 0, 0, 0, 0) while the rest of the party had better-than-average stats (so they all were above average, 4d6 keep 3). He felt cheated and in fact he stopped playing before the TPK that stopped the game (not 100% sure if just because of the stats, but he really looked like he didn't feel like playing with "bad" rolls). Bear in mind that this player in particular has a strong "World of Warcraft" mentality for this matter, and I don't know if he felt as if there was no point in playing because he couldn't have the bigger numbers, but he certainly complained about having the "worse" character. And I don't like (nor dislike) this person in particular, but I would prefer a different solution other than "just drop him if something as minor as that makes him not want to play"; I want to know if you guys have solutions/suggestions to minimize this problem. Happens in your groups when you roll for stats? How you handle it?
I'm well aware that there are fix-point-buy solutions and what not, but I'm not personally a big fan of all players having the same base stats (I prefer it when some are stronger than others and the weak ones have to try to make up in other ways, by being smart or what not, or just deal with being weaker as you can do in real life) or how easy is for them to just use that system to go get 7/7/7 in 3 dump stats... So, any opinion here? I was also MAYBE (not sure) thinking about giving players more stats/level (like 1 every 2 levels instead of 1 every 4) or MAYBE giving those extra-stats on certain levels to the players with lower stats to the point it would balance out if they ever reached Lv15/20 (probably they wouldn't, but they could feel less cheated and I could explain it in-game by their characters trying extra hard to keep it up with the rest of the party or something). Opinions on that?


4 - Roll20 and Whatnot

For of those of you that aren't aware (if such person exists in these forums, I kinda doubt it) there are computer tools that help you playing RPGs online, most notably MapsTool (which I believe is becoming obsolete and doesn't update anymore and gave me problems when players tried to join anyway) and Roll20 which is online-only and has some space limitations, specially if you aren't a Mentor (donator).
So far we are planning on using Roll20, and spending money (like the 100+ some other tools are priced for) is out of the question right now (even if we may do the 5/monthly fee for Mentor while we keep playing Roll20).
I have used Roll20 a little in the past and I'm quite experienced with it (we even tried out dynamic lights last time), but I think it was worth mentioning and see if anyone has any suggestion or a cool trick I may not know about Roll20 or just GMing online in general (like using X program for Y purpose).
By the way, how do you guys feel about using "top view characters" instead of tokens (the monster/character face in a circle for example). The "top view" ones "look" or "fit" in the scenery "better", but like when playing with miniatures (instead of your imagination) they seem to take the general immersion one step further away... I mean.. If I tell you that you enter a room and there is an ogre there (and I describe it) you can "see" it and feel fear, but if I use a miniature some players don't see the "real" ogre at all (even if I use the same description) and instead just see that small (even if cool) piece of plastic on the table. I kinda feel the same with Tokens (the face of the monster or something symbolic) vs "a top view of the monster". Any opinions with this matter?



I know I have more questions/doubts, but I don't seem to remember them right now... I may edit later if any comes to mind, but I believe those are my main problems and even if I'm pretty sure there is no perfect-solution I'm eager to read some of your suggestions/ideas on how to handle them.
Also feel free to suggest about other things I didn't ask about or if you are familiar with the campaign and what to point at some part of it that you know that may get troublesome or something.


And since I know I did write quite a wall of text, here is a TL;DR:

1 - How do you handle a player wanting to play a class/race that you would prefer them not to? Just explain to him and ban it? Try to add some ludicrous explanation for it being possible? And most specifically how do you (or your GMs) make NPCs act around a Drow (or similar problem) in a "normal" situation? (Human village, etc).
2 - How do you handle having to re-roll? Should I ban re-rolling the same exact character after dying? Should they re-join as a lower level (-1 their dying char or similar) so death had consequences beyond making a new sheet (that could be abused to get better stats if you had lower than average)? Should I explicitly forbid the other players handing the "newcomer" "his" old stuff the just looted from his corpse?
3 - How can I encourage my players to role-play beyond telling them it will be funnier and giving them XP/etc rewards? Any tips for the ones that feel shy/ridiculous doing so? Should I try to handle min-maxers before it gets out of hand (they are used to "only stats/numbers matter" from experiences like playing World of Warcraft)? I like rolling 4d6 keep 3 for stats... but should I use Point-buy (15)?
4 - Planning on using Roll20. Any cool tricks or suggestions about other programs (even if for other purposes)? How do you feel with Imagination vs Miniature or, more relevant, with Token (just the face of the creature) vs Depiction of it from a top view?


Thanks in advance for the help and tips and I pity the fool that only reads the TL;DR version (somethings are not mentioned there).
PD: Thank God I got used to Copy-Paste the whole thing before trying to post or I would have lost everything I wrote. XD

Honest Tiefling
2014-11-05, 10:58 PM
As for numero uno, sounds like he likes the Night Elves from WoW. The question is, do you or your players care at all about the Golarion setting, or are you willing to make changes to suit yourselves? If the answer is no, I'd say, rewrite the setting. It might encourage roleplay, since it sounds like he wants it because it appeals to him. Create some elven subraces, refluff the drow as being one of these and ask HIM to help you write up what his race is. I don't know the adventure path, but see if you cannot change a few minor background NPCs into being this subrace to establish their place within this world. (From a neighboring land, subjugated race, etc.)

And then give him an entirely RP benefit to it. NPCs of this race for instance, are friendly to him, wander up to him and ask him questions, give a few minor favors such as a very slight discount. See if you can't reel this one in.

Kaemon
2014-11-05, 11:44 PM
Well, I wouldn't say he likes the Night Elves from WoW, don't think thats the reason at all. But if you check the "advanced" player races listed for Pathfinder (where I check for them at least) only the Drow, Aasimar (Half Angel) and Thiefling (Half Demon) feel interesting. The rest are or common monsters that he is familiar with and that anyway could give the same problem a Drow gives or even more since they will probably encounter them (Goblins, Orcs, Kobolds...), Human+Element (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) or Human+Animal (Rat, Toad, Cat, etc), so I kinda understand how only Drow appealed to him (he was looking something outside of the "normal" races) as the rest really feel uninspired (and even Drow themselves are just a "Dark/Black/Evil Elf", but at least they look cool and have a lot of real backstory and things going for them).

About Golarion setting... I have almost 0 experience/knowledge about it... I know how races act/etc based on other settings like D&D to the point I know how Drows society works and that usually they should be hated everywhere in the surface pretty much. I could change it I guess... But then, what would be the point of him playing a Drow at all? Why play a Non-Hated Drow that fits in? That's pretty much an Elf with a dark skin, why not just play an elf in that case? What is the point of playing a Drow if you don't treat it like a Drow? I don't know... I don't want my players' first immersion in Golarion (and to the Drow race in general) to be so adulterated.
And yeah, I could do a "new" race a-la Night Elves that are different from the Drow, but again, if its not a hated-drow, why not just an elf? Just because its dark skinned? Meh...

Do you have any experience with an actual Drow-PC in an actual Drow-hating setting? I would love to know how GMs handle it when they try to go by the rules and the setting. I guess if they are always in the same city people could end trusting him, but being hated or attacked every new place they go until he can get a real Drizzt-like reputation going on seems like something that could get boring really fast, or annoy other players that he gets so much "special attention".

jaydubs
2014-11-05, 11:46 PM
Should I just stay firm and say that Drows and other monstruous creatures are pretty much banned for this campaign? Keep my starting approach of "let's try to make it work"? How would you and your NPCs act in the presence of an unknown Drizzt Do'Urden? Should he be forbidden from entrance/attacked/etc on sight?

Let him play a drow, but use your "raised in Sandpoint" background. Or make him the close friend of one of the city's trusted NPCs, who makes a show of introducing him at the beginning of the campaign.

It's not a huge adjustment to make, and something that will make your player happy.

2 - The Player Re-Roll:

So... How do you guys handle rerolling? Anything special? Anything wrong with what I just exposed?
Should I also make clear that they are NOT allowed to give the magical +1 sword from the fighter that just died to the barbarian they happen to meet a couple of hours later? Should I give the rerolling players lower XP/Level (-1 respect to the whole party or same level as lower character) so dying has some kind of consequence on the character you will be playing beyond being forced to make a new sheet? Should I forbid them for playing the same class twice in a row?
Those things are quite hard for me to handle as I have little experience with role-playing players, so if their Lv2 "toon" (not "character") happen to die and they don't care about their "toon" life/story/etc and just reroll another Lv2 "toon" it feels like dying has no consequence at all...

I play (and GM) with people who tend to focus at least as much on the RP as the combat. Here's what I use:
-Point buy.
-Everyone stays at the same level, even if you die.
-I let the players worry about how they divide loot, but I try to keep them close to WBL.
-You can come back as any class you want, but you can't play the same character. I don't care if you replace your melee fighter with another melee fighter, but you can't replace your jaded ex-noble with another jaded ex-noble.

By using point buy, no one gets screwed by bad rolls, and no one ever feels like suiciding to try to get better stats. The penalty for dying is that the character you and your buddies have (hopefully) grown attached to is dead, and gone forever. For roleplayers, that's a sad (or at least dramatic and exciting) moment.

In my experience, using mechanics to try to force non-roleplayers to role play is a losing proposition. Convince them with good story, interesting NPCs, and by letting them play characters they get attached to.

Another point - if you're trying to encourage roleplaying, push the fact that it's not about winning or losing. The point is not to level up and gain loot, it's to create an interesting story together. Following from that, character death isn't something the player should be punished for. Doing so sends entirely the wrong message, and encourages people to optimize so as to avoid the punishment (starting at lower level with less items) for failure (character death).

Sometimes dying heroically is what the character would do, and would be interesting for the story. You never want the player to have to think "boy, my paladin would definitely sacrifice his life here, but I'm going to have him run away because I don't want to lose these sweet stats and have to play a lower-leveled character."

3 - Role-Playing, Min-Maxers and Rolling Stats:

So... Any tips to encourage role-playing? Or just make it easier on them as I think is mostly that they (and myself) feel a little shy/ridiculous/embarrassed about the whole role-playing aspect.

Start doing it yourself to set an example, i.e. describing how NPCs and enemies do things instead of saying they "attack." Whenever a PC makes a kill, ask them to describe it and give them artistic license since how a creature dies is irrelevant. In fact, that works with most things. Whenever they take an action you think could entail a cool description, just say "describe it." Eventually, they might start doing it on their own.

As for the min-maxer... I wouldn't call them min-maxer, but since they aren't role-players neither their chooses of Class, Race, Feats and what not are more often than not leaded by the desire to just make their "toon" as strong as possible. Bear in mind that they all played videogames (most notably WoW) where the only goal is to get as bigger numbers as you can to "be the best", so they have that kind of mentality. I'm trying to explain to them (well, the only one that has agreed to play so far) that they should try to care a little more about making an interesting character that they want to play and not a combo of stats that feels strong. Not saying (and I specifically pointed this to him) that they should end with something useless or make poor choices, but not to worry so much about what will be "better" or "more useful" so much...
But then, if they die (and again, not trying to kill them but giving them real challenges by time to time) they may blame me for telling them not to optimize 100%... So, how do you handle this? Not a big problem on itself, but then in mixes with the next part of this point...

Roleplaying and optimization are not mutually exclusive. You don't have to take skill focus (farming) to have a background as a farmer, and to play a character as an ex-farmer. Some people are just going to want to optimize. So long as they aren't too powerful compared to other PCs, ignore it and focus on encouraging roleplaying.

So, for the stats I personally like/love the "roll 3d6, 6 times, place where you want". But this has quite big chances of having some really low rolls, so then I moved to "roll 4d6, keep 3" to make it less random and so they are sightly stronger than average without breaking anything. For me? Thats just perfect. Sometimes you get average rolls, sometimes good, sometime bad, but you roll with it and this time around your Barbarian may be weaker than another Barbarian (form the same player or another player) was, and thats no biggie... for me.
For some of my players this seemed to be a problem. Not to all of them, but there was one that pretty much didn't feel like playing at all because he had AVERAGE stats (+2, -2, 0, 0, 0, 0) while the rest of the party had better stats than that (so they all were above average, 4d6 keep 3). He felt cheated... Bear in mind that this player in particular had a strong "World of Warcraft" feeling to the game, to the point that he felt there was no point in playing because he couldn't have the bigger numbers. And I don't like (nor dislike) this person in particular, but I don't want to just "drop him" if something as minor as that makes him not want to play; I want to know if you guys have solutions/suggestions to minimize this problem.
I know there are 15-point buy and what not, but I'm not personally a big fan of all players having the same base stats (I find it fun when some are stronger than others and the weak ones have to try to make up in other ways, by being smart or what not) or how easy is for them to just go get 7/7/7 in 3 dump stats... So, any opinion here? I was also MAYBE thinking about give players more stats/level (like 1 every 2 instead of 1 every 4) or MAYBE giving those extra-stats on certain levels to the players with lower stats to the point it would balance out if they reached Lv15/20 (not sure if they ever will, just saying). Opinions on that?

If most of your players don't want to roll, just switch to point buy. At the end of the day your players are the one's creating the characters, and your campaign as a whole will be more fun for everyone if they are happy with those characters. It's also a lot easier to get people invested in their characters if they aren't constantly thinking they're just bags of terrible stats.

If you have a problem with people dumping stats, there are better ways to handle it. For instance, limit how many low stats are allowed. Only 2 below 10, only 1 below 8, or something similar. Or offer specific stat arrays for them to assign.


4 - Roll20 and Whatnot

By the way, how do you guys feel about using "top view characters" instead of tokens (the monster/character face in a circle for example). The "top view" ones look "better" or "fit better", but like when playing with miniatures (instead of your imagination) they seem to take the general immersion one step further (in the wrong direction). I mean.. If I tell you that you enter a room and there is an ogre there (with description) you almost "see it", but if I use a miniature some players don't see the "real" ogre at all, just that piece of plastic on the table. I kinda feel the same with Tokens (the face of the monster or similar) vs "a view form the monster from top". Any opinions with this matter?

Use portrait tokens for PCs and named NPCs. I.e., things you're likely to talk to. Top view characters work fine for everything else.

Kaemon
2014-11-06, 12:16 AM
Thanks a lot for those answers jaydubs, you are making me see some things in a different light.

I was talking about how my players have some kind of min-maxer mentality and I completely forgot/ignored the fact that myself I was biased from my "I like playing hardcore (you stay death if you die) in videogames" mentality. I believe its where the whole punishment for dying was coming from. I feel like if there are no consequences for failure it doesn't matter to fail, or that they don't feel at risk if they can just re-roll without punishment (and I honestly feel like it), but not everyone feels the same way or likes the same style and in fact some of my players could feel very bad (to the point of not feeling like playing) if I took a level from them upon death or similar... So I guess I won't do that unless they all agree before starting the campaign; and even then I'm not so sure anymore of it being a good idea even if they did agree, so at least now I have your point of view more in mind for when we discuss it.

And yeah, I once thought about letting them describe how they kill the enemies or perform actions and such (and had already in mind telling the IRL friend that is creating the Summoner to tell to me how he summons his eidolon and such (is a portal? is green? etc)) but I had forgotten about that idea already. Will try to keep it in mind to encourage them to start role-playing step-by-step, and describing their own kills should be easy enough even for the less imaginative and you don't feel "embarrassed/shy" because you are not acting, just describing. Good call.

As for teaching with the example... Yeah, I had in mind already describing the NPCs actions and such. Something I noticed watching videos (most notably the Counter Monkey Pathfinder Live Sesion 1 from Spoony) is how much more interesting/immersing it was when Olaf (a human NPC in an outpost being roleplayed by the GM, Spooony) was talking directly to the players instead of Spoony explaining to them what Olaf was saying. It was a big difference (at least when he was roleplaying propperly; as sometimes he was doing a really bad job in my opinion, like when roleplaying a bandit they captured later).

And about not worrying about optimization... So far I'm not really worried, but I want to be prepared in case it starts being a problem. You suggest to ignore it while their powers are not too far apart, but I'm pretty sure at some point a Ranger will complain how he feels useless compared to a Barbarian or something like that and I would like to know how to act accordingly beyond rewarding his complaining with a +3 Bow on the next chest.

For your Point-Buy point of view and suggestions if I see they all go for a 7-7-7 approach yeah, I guess doing a limit (in case they all start doing it to the point I find it annoying) on how low how many stats can be I can only agree and even if I do really like rolling the dice for stats I guess I will go with the Point-Buy unless they all agree they prefer rolling the dice and won't make a fuss about the results.

And Portraits instead of Top-Views for Chars and Named NPCs then? I was thinking going in that direction yeah. Let me give you a screenshot of what we were using before to give you an idea:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8838155/Kaemon_Roll20_PCs.jpg

So there (that was the page I was using for them to set up the characters and choose their miniatures) you can see both their Top-View toons and the images the choose for their profiles.
The Top-View miniatures look quite good, and some of my players told me they specifically like them better because they can make them face a direction in particular and what not (again, this is mostly with "we are playing a game with miniatures" rather than "we are living an adventure with our characters" mindset) but I feel like they started to see their character as that miniature and not using the imagination at all, so that is why I'm considering using a Token (or their profile-pictures) may be a better idea.
(And yeah, I know they weren't too imaginative with their character names. I was thinking about forcing them into coming with custom ones for this upcoming campaign instead of copying something from LOTR or Game of Thrones).

jaydubs
2014-11-06, 12:56 AM
And about not worrying about optimization... So far I'm not really worried, but I want to be prepared in case it starts being a problem. You suggest to ignore it while their powers are not too far apart, but I'm pretty sure at some point a Ranger will complain how he feels useless compared to a Barbarian or something like that and I would like to know how to act accordingly beyond rewarding his complaining with a +3 Bow on the next chest.

The simplest solution is to allow liberal retraining. So long as they don't alter a character to the point of threatening the story continuity, let them rebuild without any major penalty. If the ranger's player doesn't know how to build a good ranger, either help yourself or ask the optimizer in the group to help. Having set-in-stone characters punishes people who don't plan well (unusally non-optimizers) while serious optimizers will just plan their character out from level 1.

Another approach (though this may not be too helpful in an pre-written adventure path) is to throw more problems or encounters at the party that cater to characters that are getting less of the spotlight. Maybe you need to track someone through the woods, or you run into more of the ranger's favored enemies. Make sure not to be too obvious about it, as otherwise it will feel condescending. And don't present them as problems that only the ranger can solve (just ones he may be slightly better at) so the other players don't feel left out.

At the end of the day, the unit of measure you should be using isn't combat effectiveness or kills, it's spotlight time. It's how much of the campaign a player can point to and say "wow, my character was really awesome in that situation." It's less important whether that time was killing ogres, talking the party out of trouble, or sneaking in to rescue the hostages.


And Portraits instead of Top-Views for Chars and Named NPCs then? I was thinking going in that direction yeah. Let me give you a screenshot of what we were using before to give you an idea:

<snip>

So there (that was the page I was using for them to set up the characters and choose their miniatures) you can see both their Top-View toons and the images the choose for their profiles.
The Top-View miniatures look quite good, and some of my players told me they specifically like them better because they can make them face a direction in particular and what not (again, this is mostly with "we are playing a game with miniatures" rather than "we are living an adventure with our characters" mindset) but I feel like they started to see their character as that miniature and not using the imagination at all, so that is why I'm considering using a Token (or their profile-pictures) may be a better idea.
(And yeah, I know they weren't too imaginative with their character names. I was thinking about forcing them into coming with custom ones for this upcoming campaign instead of copying something from LOTR or Game of Thrones).

It's really just personal preference. I like portraits so I can link a specific face or appearance with what I have going on in my head. But if your players prefer the models, you could always make a compromise and just include their portrait files as handouts in the journal tab that the players can pull up.

If you do decide on the token route, I recommend Token Tool (http://www.rptools.net/index.php?page=tokentool) if you're not already using it. Alternatively, this page (http://imgur.com/a/Nukv6?gallery#0) has a lot of good ones to choose from.

Kaemon
2014-11-06, 01:24 AM
Thanks again for the answers, very appreciated. I will keep an open mind when a player is not happy with his build (about changing some feats and what not). And yeah, is a pre-set campaign so I don't have that much liberty with all the encounters, but I can always paint the random ones at will, or change some a little. But anyway, it seems that Rise of the Runelords has a little of everything for everyone so not so worried.

I checked the links. First one is nice (lots of tokens there to choose from) but the token tool I didn't bother to download. It just gets an image into a token, you can do that easily enough with any image program outside of Microsoft Paint (as I'm used to them for creating textures and what not).

And I knew I was forgetting something on the first post! What do you guys like to do with the Hit Points rolls? Pathfinder gives max at Lv1 but then I'm not sure.
I guess options are "roll for it everytime" (not a fan as you can have a Barbarian Lv3 with 36 HP and another with 14), "give the average" (better than the previous, but feels a litlte uninspired, doesn't it?) and my personal house rule was: "You roll for it, but you can't repeat the same value". Since Lv1 assumes a 12 was rolled (in the case of the barbarian) no further 12 are allowed and they instead become the closest available number (11 in this case). I like the idea, and it gives you the average on the long term while keeping the emotion of rolling to see what you will get, but it can still give big notable differences in early levels between players or maybe future problems with multiclassing or other things.
What do most people do? Give the average? (6.5 HP in the case of the 1d12 Barbarian)
I read somewhere of people giving always the max but then their characters become powerhouses easily enough.
What would you think about letting my players choose between all those 3? Or maybe it would be better to make sure all are using the same system even if they average the same?

jaydubs
2014-11-06, 01:53 AM
You can probably guess by now, but I prefer just giving everyone the average. Here's the reasoning:

1) It avoids the "this character rolled all 1s, I hate him" problem.
2) It's easier to balance encounters for parties that have average hitpoints. Especially since pre-written encounters probably assume characters will have average hp.

Sure, you may lose out on the excitement of rolling hitdice. But at the end of the day, that excitement lasts all of 1 roll per level, and can lead to unhappiness (among players who roll poorly) or annoyance (for a DM who has to try to threaten some characters without easily killing others). Just not a good trade in a long-term campaign.

Note - a lot of these get thrown out the window in short-term situations. In one shots, for example, I'm quite content having players roll stats, hp, etc. Imbalances are much more tolerable, high lethality is no issue, and everything is about short term excitement.

Kaemon
2014-11-06, 01:59 AM
Yeah, I see your point. Maybe I will just make them roll to see if they get the 0.5 of the next two levels now or on next level (so you roll to see if that barbarian gets 6 HP now or 7 HP, and will get the other next level) :-P

And good point on that last paragraph! Will keep it in mind if I do one shots.

Kaemon
2014-11-06, 02:53 AM
Oh, one more question: Do you have any tip or suggestion for players trying to "abuse" the "We sleep in the dungeon" or "We go back to the city to rest and come back to finish it later"?
I know about random encounters while trying to sleep in there, or to make the enemies prepare/react to the slaying they did the previous day/week/whatever, or give them a time limit before the sacrifice/whatever, but still I could use some suggestions or tips for this matter.
At times they will probably need to do this as they run of both hit points and spells, but I want it to be discouraging enough so sometimes they give it a shoot to finish the assault/exploration even when with little resources left and, ofc, discourage from cheap tactis like burning all spells every combat, leaving, resting and coming back.

Again, got some ideas on how to discourage this, but looking for extra things I may have not thought about.