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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    I apologize if this has been asked before, but the search function on the forums isn't working. (It says "done" and displays nothing).

    I am planning running a campaign with a mix of people of both experienced players and people who are completely new. The people in this group are from my church (at a board game night), and while I don't think most of them would have a problem with D&D (A few play WoW), I thought it best to "ease them in" so to speak with a no-magic campaign (There is one person who will be there who I hope to get interested who I've been trying to convince D&D/RPGs isn't evil, and he does have more a problem with magic.). I chose to do a single-shot to start out with prepackaged scenario and I thought "Burning Plague" from the Wizard's website looks like a fun little scenario.

    The one problem is, there are two caster baddies in BP, the first mini boss and then the final boss. I'm thinking this will be a problem balance-wise (mostly the end boss) and I don't want to send them down a overly hard campaign the first time, they'll just hate the game after that! I'm planning on having six 1st levels (one of each basic non-magic class).

    So, basically my question is, how do I balance to make it more fair for the players? Load them with potions? Some other minor tweak? Level them all up to 2nd?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Foolster41; 2008-12-25 at 02:15 AM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolster41 View Post
    So, basically my question is, how do I balance to make it more fair for the players? Load them with potions? Some other minor tweak? Level them all up to 2nd?
    Magic disparity between PCs and NPCs doesn't really become a problem until mid-levels, as before then it's mostly minor numerical bonuses or a few spells per day. It'll be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. I'd say that since there are six PCs rather than four, it should be a bit more manageable.

    Starting them at 2nd would be a good idea, but not absolutely required. Other than that, I'd take a closer look at the bad guys. What level casters are they? What strategies do they have? What kinds of damage do the mooks do? Looking at the Burning Plague adventure, the two casters there don't really have major offensive spells, and they're relatively low level, so you shouldn't need to buff the PCs all that much.

    I would suggest that you give them a bunch of healing potions. Without a cleric, they're missing out on up to 3d8+3 HP healing, so they need to make up for that somehow. Also, some alchemist's fire or thunderstones would compensate for lack of area effects (i.e., burning hands) from an arcane caster, so one or two of those should be sufficient. Further adjustments might be needed if you continue the campaign without magic, but for this adventure, you shouldn't need to adjust all that much.
    Last edited by PairO'Dice Lost; 2008-12-25 at 11:54 AM. Reason: Took a look at Burning Plague
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    It will be hard to convince your friend that magic isn't evil if your big bad EVIL guy and his lackey are the only casters. You could just change their class. This solves the difficulty problem as well. Just remember to keep it a challenging boss encounter so that they feel cool when they beat it.

    If you don't want to change their class, just go easy on them. It's probably easiest to do this with a caster, as you have so many options. You can just choose a sub-optimal one. The inexperienced players should have no idea, and the experienced ones will realize that they are playing with inexperienced players so they shouldn't mind.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Actually at 1st level I don't THINK it should be that much of a problem except maybe if it has a lot of undead. Magic doesn't take a strong lead (as I hear it) until higher levels.

    And how are potions OK when spellcasters aren't? As a Christian GM I am interested in the functioning of the minds of my less mature brother's.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Actually at 1st level I don't THINK it should be that much of a problem except maybe if it has a lot of undead. Magic doesn't take a strong lead (as I hear it) until higher levels.
    Sleep.

    Heh. Not a spell that scales well at all, and you might only get to cast a few per day, but a BBEG cares about neither of these. He just needs to get off one in his life. Also, grease. I'm sure there's others.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    I have a brother who is deeply religious and has played D&D but has a couple of problems with it. The main thing is the portrayal of clergy. Clerics have supernatural powers that can be seen as a caricature of what he considers the real powers of blessing, healing, and exorcising. You have to explain to him that it is a game built on inaccurate stereotypes and fantastic extrapolations and that you can't take it too seriously. Ditto for the existence of multiple gods in the world (be sure to explain that the game isn't fun with a monotheistic system, because then PCs can't be whatever cleric they want to be). The most staunch resistance to D&D comes from the earlier additions, in which some of the names they used for Demons came from real demonology/angelology texts. They have done away with that altogether (except for some splatbooks that feature sample NPCs/evil dieties with famous proper names of demons)
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolster41 View Post
    There is one person who will be there who I hope to get interested who I've been trying to convince D&D/RPGs isn't evil, and he does have more a problem with magic.
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    You could just have clerics channel the divine energies of the earth, like they (sometimes) do in Eberron if someone is (understandably) edgy about having their character worship a fake deity.
    Last edited by Lappy9000; 2008-12-25 at 01:06 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    I actually ran this campaign a while back (Warning, Spoilers below ) with the following party composition:

    Paladin
    Monk (houseruled to full BAB)
    Psychic Warrior
    Barbarian
    Sorcerer
    Wizard

    Balance-wise they should be fine. I had the final boss, Jakk, +10 HP and he was still a push over...so played as-is with a party of non-casters he should be a challenging but doable fight. As a note, that first encounter with the kobolds, weasel, and rats is absolutely savage for a 1st level party if they set off the trap and alert them, so starting at 2nd level might not be a bad plan.

    Now, in terms of connotation to your group...the kobold is just a cowardly, family-man sorcerer so he's fine, but the BBEG is a Necromantic Cleric of Gruumsh who poisoned the water of the town, slaughtering dozens with his divine powers. So yeah, that might be a hard sell. Consider a swap to some other poison-heavy class? Or just big dumb orc barbarian? Depends on how much of a "D&D stands for Devils and Damnation" sorta stereotype they have....if they play Warlocks in WoW, a Cleric of Gruumsh shouldn't be too offensive.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk7915 View Post
    Balance-wise they should be fine. I had the final boss, Jakk, +10 HP and he was still a push over...so played as-is with a party of non-casters he should be a challenging but doable fight. As a note, that first encounter with the kobolds, weasel, and rats is absolutely savage for a 1st level party if they set off the trap and alert them, so starting at 2nd level might not be a bad plan.

    Now, in terms of connotation to your group...the kobold is just a cowardly, family-man sorcerer so he's fine, but the BBEG is a Necromantic Cleric of Gruumsh who poisoned the water of the town, slaughtering dozens with his divine powers. So yeah, that might be a hard sell. Consider a swap to some other poison-heavy class? Or just big dumb orc barbarian? Depends on how much of a "D&D stands for Devils and Damnation" sorta stereotype they have....if they play Warlocks in WoW, a Cleric of Gruumsh shouldn't be too offensive.
    Maybe go with the normal orc barbarian who is backed by a worm-tounged rogue-like character, responsible for the poisoning of the water supply and the true plan behind it all. There's lots of poisons in a fantasy game, I doubt it would be that hard to believe that someone just managed to ger their evil hands on a few barrels of the stuff and dropped it into the water supply.

    I've played the adventure before; it's not a bad 1st level adventure. You could even swap the kobold sorcerer with a particularly charismatic kobold who is simply inspiring his allies into battle.
    Last edited by Lappy9000; 2008-12-25 at 01:54 PM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Thanks all. I'm thinking of rather than leveling all of them, I'll give them each a couple potions and a two sunrods between all of them.

    There are undead in the campaign, and not having a cleric was one of the things I was concerned about. I like the idea of a barbarian instead, but I may be running this new years eve. so I'm not sure there's time.

    lappy: Yeah, I hate those tracts.
    Draco: The way I see it, quaffing a potion or using a magic artifact is less direct. A good example is magic use in Narnia or Lord of the Rings. No mortal character ever casts magic, only the more supernaterual-like characters (Aslan, the white witch, Gandalf) or very unsympathetic humans (Uncle Andrew) that was kind of the example I was thinking of. I suppose I could have a caster who I portray as being non-human and it would work. While I don't have a particular problem with mortal characters being casters, I think the Lewis/Tolkien model of magic/power being something that corrupts except those who are uncorruptible (Gandalf) is more fitting.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    (be sure to explain that the game isn't fun with a monotheistic system, because then PCs can't be whatever cleric they want to be).
    Can you explain what you mean by "whatever cleric they want to be"? I ask because a friend of mine figured out a way redoing things to keep the feel playing a cleric almost exactly the same (especially mechanically), while still being based around Christian theology of God (the Devil however gets split up). Both of us have been successfully using this in our campaigns. Basically you have the D&D gods renamed to "warders" and being in a position of independantly acting and very directly in mortal/physical affairs involved archangel equivalents. So instead of having only one archangel (Lucifer) fall you have multiple warders falling (the Evil and some of the neutral ones). The fallen ones claim to be gods, the others don't. If anyone wants further details or doesn't see how we could pull it off or whatever, just ask.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    If your worried how your more religios friends woulds take D&D i recomend just being open about the game as much as possible. I understand that your wary about bringing magic to the game but this can back fire on you if you hold it back. Magic is the main sticking point. Dont hide it. The best way to explane magic to thoughs that ask is by telling them how D&D was inspired. And why it was written the way it was. Focusing on why D&D has polytheistic religion.

    Gygax was inspired (ripped off, used,stolen, ect) from mytholigy, foklor, real religion, and literature. That is greek and norse myth, Tolkin, Connan, egypt, jewdaochristian stories, Arthurian Lor and Sinbad. Thats just to name afew. D&D usess a multaple god pantheon for three reasons. Gygax and others wanted D&D to be a world whare gods directly infuenced the world. Norse and greek myth have this.

    The second reason is the problems of making D&D a monotheistic setting. It would have eather directly or indirectly chose one religion over other. Most likly christianety. THis would have offended every one who wasnt christian. So you got a bunch of gods loosly based norse/greek/egyptan lor.

    Which brings us to reason three. There is more than one religion in the real world. The pantheons of D&D can easily reflect this. The different gods of D&D have a stronger worshiper base in different parts of the world. They also have places whare they come together or live side by side. Take a look at how christian, jews and muslims lived together in southern spain befor the inquesitions, or the middle east befor the first crusade.

    Clerics and how they function in d&d is alot like Moses and the apostles. Alot of the spells that clerics used in 1st and 2nd ed where directly inspired by the miracles performed by them. Sticks to snakes is one spell I use as the primary example. Which brings of to faith. Clerics are supposed to be peaple of faith. 3rd ed, and how alot of the posters on the boards talk dont enphasise this. They are just game michanics for power gamer or optimisers. Clerics are characters of faith and devotion to their god. The same with paladins. Clerics are peaple in the D&D world who would be considered saints in ours. Dragon Lance, Forgotten Realms and Grey Hawk all have gods that a christian would like to have a pretend character fallow.

    for your gaming group I would make them appart of a communety. Most players just plop down some whare and 'adventure' little more than mercenaries or vigilanties. I do that too. Make the players apart of a community. The priests son, the cartwrite, the nobles guard, a farmer. D&D would be less evil when the characters actions have a direct result on their community.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Haw: You make some good points, and I'm thinking of adding back in those caster classes again, though I'm not sure I want to have too many classes and overwhelm with choices. (I'm thinking either wizard or sorcerer, but not both). Maybe i'll just add cleric since also it'll help with healing and turning undead (actually not sure they can at 1st)

    I'm thinking there's not going to be time for me anyway to add characters beyond the original 6, as I said I may be playing as soon as new years eve.

    Related question: Am I right in assuming that palis and rangers don't cast at 1st level anyway? I think Bards do get some healing.

    I checked the adventure and it has a 5th Clr at the end. that sounds awfully over powered for even six 1st levels. The D20Srd.org encounter calculator says it's "very difficult" but I'm not sure I believe it, since it's assuming CR5 = Level 5 (as marked in the adventure), which I'm pretty sure is not true.

    I was thinking since the characters get some spare change to start, i'd let them have a good selection of stuff to buy maybe even at a discount, though things like antitoxins (very useful for this campaign) and potions are expensive. Should I throw in a few free? Lower the prices a lot?
    Last edited by Foolster41; 2008-12-25 at 11:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    First level clerics can turn undead. Paladins and Rangers don't get spells until 4th level. Are you sure the adventure/campaign doesn't assume at least 1 level-up in the middle? Is the cleric meant to escape rather than fighting?
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    I don't remember seeing any mention of leveling, and looking at te encounters I don't think there's enough XP there to level.

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    Last edited by Foolster41; 2008-12-26 at 01:05 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    I made a good point? I must have been drunk.

    If you wanted to cut down on the magic by cutting a class I recomend cutting the wizard. Crap load of book keeping. Sorcs get a smaller spell list that you can keep in a small pocket note book easily. Another idea, one I'm thinking about doing for my own setting some day, is to chop up the cleric list. Like all of the evil spells are right out for good clerics. Well most of them, some are tagged evil but are not really. And remember they are prayers not spells .

    Starting equipment:

    let them have max starting gold and let them get what they want. If you have characters that are apart of a church, militia, teamsters union, theives guild what ever. They can provide additional equipment as needed. My friends and I do this for the church alot. Back in 2nd ed (now totaly forgotten) clerics and paladins where only allowed a small amount of personal wealth. They had to give most of what they gathered in treasure to the church. By most i mean almost all. Gold, gems, artwork, and magic items. Because of this we have the traid in trade up policy. Clerics and paladins can traid in their manditory loot to the church, in turn the church would provide any thing that the charcter needed. Or if old equipment was not up to demands of the quest the cleric could traid it in for somthing better.

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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    i'd have to go with the sentiment of the rest of the thread. If you want to hammer a point, either explain the background to them, or do a trial by fire and force them to use magic (a la harry potter) for good against magic for evil. If you're running for divine magic, I'd say introduce them to a core deity like St. Cuthbert (LG/LN, typical medieval church-y feel to it.) There's enough familiarity in there to win them over. Emphasizing choice might help.
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Just change the fluff on the classes and call them "powers of the mind" instead of "casting spells". Get creative. I am currently playing a warlock, but instead of getting magical powers from some fiendish pact, the fluff is I am using "psionics" that I was born with. Same mechanics, different fluff.
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    Default Re: Balance Question - No Magic Campaign against Magic NPCs

    Hawriel: You only make good points when you're drunk? That is an interesting super power.

    Thanks for the help everyone. I think putting a cleric and Bard in there will get the point across that magic <> evil. Also I went back and made it full gold for the players (I did half gold before on very pared-down character sheets I made that ended up looking very 4E-like.)

    If I run the game on new years eve I'll let you know how it went.
    Edit: I didn't run it after all. I'm going to try in the future though at each of our game nights until it happens.
    Last edited by Foolster41; 2009-01-03 at 09:36 PM.

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