View Full Version : First-time DM

Admiral Squish
2008-04-26, 11:03 PM
I just finished my first-ever session as DM. It was only with one player, since he's the only one who is actually interested in D&D near my place. We decided on eberron, because it's such a cool setting. However, I had to make this whole thing up on the spot, since it never actually works out the way I want it to when we try to plan ahead. A basic summary of how it went follows:

We rolled a goliath barbarian for him to use, first level. That went quickly. I gave him a goliath greathammer, a breastplate, and nothing else. He woke up on the island of Thronehold, with a small raft, his gear, and a throbbing headache.He crossed the river into Thrane, and went into Flamekeep. He asked about the whole 'flame thing' that was decorated over the place, and got a lot of incredulous stares. HE went into a temple and talked to the priests about his inability to remember his past, and they agreed to heal his mind if he would perform some tasks for them. They sent him into the burnt wood to take out a straggler of the Kannarthi skeletal forces. He arrived uneventfully, readied an action, and one-shotted the skeleton relatively spectacularly. While looting it, I vindictively loosed another of them on him, which he also handled, though with more blood-loss on his part. He came back, dropped off the skulls and sold their equipment, except one breast plate, which he wore. He got the spell cast for him, and just as the session was finishing up, I told him his memory returned, and along with some general backstory he learned he'd been the experimental guinea pig of the Daelkyr for the past several months. He bought a room at the inn, and just spent the night resting up.

Now, a couple questions: How likely was it that an ECL 2 character would have so little difficulty offing two CR 3 enemies in immediate succession? Should I be prepared for more of that? What sort of things should I give him to represent the Daelkyr's tinkerings? Where should I send him next in this adventure? My brother wants to join in now, but he doesn't know what he's doing, so I'm making him a character. He requested a warforged evocation-specialized wizard, though I'm not sure how well he'll manage that. Any advice on the character? How should I introduce him? See anything I really should have managed differently in the adventure itself?

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-04-26, 11:09 PM
Goliath and a Warforged...

Two 8 foot tall brethren in arms, marching arm in arm.

What's next, ogre mage?

2008-04-26, 11:09 PM
Goliath barbarian with a goliath warhammer is a lot of damage for a first level. It sounds like he only needed to hit once or twice to kill the things. Especcially with rage. That could be partially the problem. By 3 or 4 he should stop owning everything immediatly...... Hopefully.

Admiral Squish
2008-04-27, 12:56 AM
So, he should stop smashing things so vigorously pretty soon. Arright. Good to know. Any advice on the other issues?

2008-04-27, 01:09 AM
Zombies, rather than skeletons, have DR to his abilities.

Also, in instances where you have high STR characters with LA, try a CR3 encounter comprised only of CR 1/2 and CR 1 critters. 3-5 enemies? He'll likely have more trouble with numbers.

Further, He'll likely have a weakness to will saves. A level 2 caster would provide a rough fight for him.

Kol Korran
2008-04-27, 09:06 AM
first of all, congratulations on starting your way as a DM- not an easy path to follow, but can be rewarding. second, the following is but advice, based mostly on my experience and tastes. if that doesn't work for you and your growing party, it's fine- different Dms and players have different styles:

1) the "experimented by the Daelkyr" thing: realy needs a whole lot of development, in order to do justice to their horrors, and not feel like just an idea that felt cool but was executed wrong. a few things to consider:

in your own version of Eberron, how well known are the Daelkyr, their creations, and so on? for example, in my campaign nearly no one even knows or suspects they exist... the various high magic institutes have some inklings of knowledge, and the only realy relieable source of information are the druid sects. do the silver flame even know about them? to what extent? perhaps some high priests do, but were they the ones dealing with the goliath? decide this now, as this may affect the campaign greatly.
who did the expereiments, and what was the nature of them? the Daelkyr themselves? mind flayer minions? was it under direct control, or someone acting on their own? perhaps a cult of the dragon below?
how much does the goliath remember realy? the entire ordeal? just flashes of memory? will he remember more and more? (this reminds me of the computer game Torment, where the farther the character ventured, the more it discovered). the memories themselves might slowly lead it towards the new adventure sites, or at least give clues to drive him forward.
why the hell did he wake up at Thronehold island? is there an actual portal to Khyber there? or was he transported here? if so, who did it- a henchmen of whomever expermiented on him, or perhaps someone who saved him and helped him escape? did he escape, or was he released? in any case- why?
who might be interested in the goliath (and perhaps his pals?) agents working with the experimenter, or against it? an agent of the druidic sects, an agent of the dragon below, perhaps even a rakshasa who is curious as to the abilites of the other "fiends" of eberron? perhaps a dragon of the chamber who thinks the goliath is part of the prophecy?

all of these may impact the campaign, and the character. and be best decided in advance.

2) as to the first session: Goliaths are notoriously excellent melee fighters. don't consider the CR system adequate, because it's not. if you're worried about future engagements, here are a few ideas:

as mentioned above- multiple enemies are better opponents for a single melee fighter.
ranged combat: have some hard to hit enemies confront the goliath directly, while others shoot at it from afar, behind cover, from ambush, and so on...
creatures with special abilites, mostly hampering and such, ratherthan just "hack and slash" guys.
a general advice as a DM: never make an encoutner just "fight the monster"... those get boring realy fast, even if you keep exchanging monsters. make it tactical- heights, terrain (water, bushes, scrabble, fire pits and so...), add complications to the field (a swinging blade trap, mobs of people running frightened through the battle field, there is another goal, and this battle just a waist of time, more than two sides, perhaps some are wearing the same uniforms, and more), visibility (darkness, fog, snow and desrt blindness), alchemical and miscellenious (caltrops, tanglefoot, and more)... keep things interesting, the monsters are but an element of the encounter not all of it).
continuing the above, here is an example of how it could have been made more interesting (a failry simple idea, i'm sure other DMs here would suggest more): the goliath arrives at the burnt wood, and now needs to track the undead soldier/s. he finds some evidence of the destruction, (various killed brigands and perhaps farmers who tried to re-settle the region, running away. the soldier seems to kidnap some of them, believing it is still fighting the war, he takes prisoners. as the goliath goes deeper (perhaps he needs to hire a tracker from the settlers? a litle rolepaly encounter, perhaps he can get a healing salve or two, if he plas his cards right), he may encoutner some snares set by the dead soldier, perhaps with a couple of simple skeleton or zombies with rusting karrnathi armor amplifying them (a tight quartes fight with a skeleton down the pit could be interesting, or saving the tracker who falls down one. the simple undead survived up till now from the war, obeying whomever has a Karrnathi sergent emblem on their armor, which the skeleton soldier does). finally it reaches a small makeshift camp, the goliath needs to find a way to inflitrate and destroy the soldier. the camp should have some snares perhaps (alarming the soldier, and perhaps hampering potential "invaders". no serious damage though. caltrops could works nicely). there may be a few more skeletons zombies here (2-4 tops), one of them in the tent/ cave/ burtn hosue with the prisoners. the soldier arrives, and fights tactfully, using cover, perhaps a simple alchemical item... it might threaten the prisoners, or give an order to start executing them (by banging it's armor in an agreed manner perhaps?). suddenly the battle is fare more interesting. as to terrain- the burnt stumps can complicate charging, the soldier can be on top of a half burnt hosue to begin with, shooting the golaith with a crossbow or something, he might erect small barricades aroudn the place to prevent easy entry, and more... if you're worrid about the soldier being too high a CR, just degrade it's weapons/ armor/ hp/ tactics... you see- i didn't use anything extraordinary here, but quickly changed the small mission into somethign fare more excitign than "go to woods, smack skeleton".
one more thing i haven't mentioned, but is importent, and is so evidently abundent in Eberron. (if you work on it)i'm talking about history and flavour: in the burnt wood you could have detailed the scorched earth, the blackened stumps, the spare animal life, and so on (some of it could have been used for tactical stuff as well). in Flamekeep, there are the murals, the worshipers, the cardinal halls and more. these are major locations, give them depth, describe them fully, and make your world more real.

3) where to next: the memory of your player is still far from complete, but as he awakes in the next session, he remembers a place, or a writing, or a creature. i suggest that place should be in the eldeen reaches, for the followign reasons:

you're still a fairly new DM, and so i'd suiggest to stay from large cities. the Reaches are good for that. far enough from ciivlization, but not too far.
the reaches hold the various druid sects, amongst them the wardens of the wood, and the gatekeepers. both have ties to corruption and the daelkyr. you could start a little investigation game in the next few sessions, slwoly growing closer to the answers.
Goliaths in Eberron are mostly concentreated in the deep woods of the reaches. so this might well be your character's (yet unremembered) birthplace. as things progress he might meet people who knew him, learn more of his past, and find nasty surprises. in short- good roleplay ops.
the reaches have enough politics to interest your characters if they wish to, but they can also easely avoid it. the deep woods can be filled with all manner of creatures and adventures, more than the more civilised places in Eberron.

have your character remmeber a name, of a person or a community. or perhaps a distinct place (avoid the major settlelemnts there for now i suggest), and then the Flame diviners might tell him of the place, and send him there. have the goliath also recall some horrible creature (i suggest dolgrim, gibbering mouther, otyugh, or something else), and then have the diviners tell him of another being who can help him... yep, it's time for the warforged entry-

4) the warforged can be one of the few warforged thrane actually used during the war. but since it ended he couldn't find anythign to do, and kept delving into the libraries of wherever your character now is. he became fascinated with rumors and reports of other people who were created, manipulated or manufactured but some beings (abberations), and has become semi obsessed with them. when the goliath comes and tells him of this, he decides to join him, and explores this further. the church gives its blessing, on one side thinking this might be a potential source of information ("if the hulking giant's babbling actually prove to be of any importence, ha!"), and on the other side just happy to get rid of the immensly focused warforged and his endless questioning (if this fits his character)

5)what tinkering was done by the Daelkyr or their creations? could be many things, depending on where you're aiming (there have been a few DMs on these boardswit hsimilar ideas). how about slowly growing a symbiont? that cannot be unaatached without some dire consequences? might give the goliath a few perks, but also make it look like a freak. check the Magic Of Eberron monster section for ideas, tweak and alter them. just remember- this experiemtn should be fairly big, and central to the campaign. some parties would like to obtain the goliath, some to try and heal it (the utter minority), and some would like to simply destroy the abomination. (if you have that book, check out daelkyr half blood, similar idea). the symbiont itself is inteeligent, what does it want, and how much power it exerts on it's owner? (you can treat it like an intelligent object, if you wish that level of complication, and roleplay).

hope this helped. and good luck with DMing. keep drawing ideas from wherever you can, keep things interesting, and fun.

Admiral Squish
2008-04-27, 12:49 PM
-The daelkyr in my realm are sort of boogeymen. Most people know of them, if only as some amorphous concept of fear as a child. Mothers will threaten naughty children with being given to the Daelkyr. However, most don't know they REALLY exist beyond the tales.
-A daelkyr did the experimenting, but really they just shoved him into a Husk of Many Worlds and let it run it's course. He was just lucky enough to survive.
-The goliath remembers before the incident and flashes of the during, though he's taken to drinking to try to forget.
-He woke up on thronehold island, because there's a portal to khyber there, though throughly concealed. Who's to say the dragon below didn't have something to do with the treaty? I'm going to say he was released, though the why will remain a mystery for the moment. Probably something to do with the prophesy.
-As to who will be interested, I can't think of anyone who won't be. At least once he's managed to survive any decent length of time.

-I'll definitely work on that. Lots of baddies would definitely be trouble, especially since he seems to be moving towards a grapple-focused build.
-Another good suggestion. I can work on that.
-He's fighting a druid and her wolf companion now, so that might fit the bill.
-Alright, I can definitely work on that.
-Indeed. I will have to start putting more thought into these encounters.
-As for flavor, there's where I really shine. I'm a writer at heart, so I spew prose constantly as they do things.

3) I try to let the player give direction to the campaign, but I'm definitely thankful he decided to head west. Next session or two should put him well into the Reaches. He's having an encounter with an ashbound druidic apprentice as we speak, who's slightly less fanatic than most. She's been luring away farm animals each night, taking them to her master who's been casting Awaken on them. He's going to turn the farm animals against the town from within, though she doesn't know that.

4) Sadly, my brother is one of the least responsive roleplayers I've ever dealt with. The Goliath's player had to re-explain the situation every time he surfaced from WoW. I'm considering cutting him out, since he's just more of an extra body than a player half the time.

5) Well, today I resolved what it was. He ended up growing a plant graft, the Grappling Vine. I might make him grow some more, different grafts as he goes on through the adventure. I considered a symbiont, and I may even give him one of those, as well. Somewhere around level four, he's probably going to find himself being followed at a distance by a wispy, dark figure, a Shadow Sibling. One thing I'm thinking of is having him grow several different sorts of grafts, which would certainly be interesting to those who know the limitations against such.

Kol Korran
2008-04-27, 02:10 PM
um, okay.... you didn't need to detail your future plans and so on, i was just trying to give yousome ideas and points to think about.

but anyway, glad to hear you're heading along fine (i would probably do things different, but as i said before- different groups- different styles)/ enjoy the play...

2008-04-29, 02:41 AM
Why do you accept people playing WoW during the D&D session? I'd say tell him to shut down the computer, and preferrably sit somewhere without any kind of distractions. Try the kitchen table for instance.

If my players would start up a computer during my game, I'd unplug the thing. usually we even switch the phones off, but since one of the grandmothers of a player is ill, he keeps it on.

I would suggest not overdoing it with all the add-ons and grafts etc. Let him get familiar with the limitations and coolness factors of his character, before changing it again. Otherwise he might have a hard time juggling numbers, and won't get a feel for the roleplaying etc.