D&D (Pathfinder/etc.)

Can’t believe we don’t have a D&D thread (that I could find?) yet.

Running my first one-shot soon. Yikes! Lots to learn, both for DMing and internet tools to run it. Roll20 is being a little cantankerous, not giving me tools that I should have as DM. Slowly working through it. I think the online component is more difficult than the DM’ing component!

Huh, I could’ve sworn we had the “what’s going on in your campaign” thread here, but I guess I’m just thinking of the one on the AO.

My son has just gotten into D&D, so we’ve been playing just the two of us, or having friends/cousins over when we can. His favorite part is making characters, so he regularly prints of a bunch of character sheets and fills them out.

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Thanks for starting this, I only got into D&D about 3 years ago but now it’s my main hobby.

I use Roll 20 but very minimally, I essentially only use it for the battlemap. Do you have a specific question?

For my online games I use

  • Roll 20 for the battle map and some dice rolling
  • DND beyond and the Beyond 20 plugin for character sheets and dice rolling from dndbeyond
  • zoom to talk to each other
  • shared google spreadsheet where the players track their own initiative and hit points
  • shared google powerpoint where I drop in info, magic items, etc

Might contact you if I struggle much with it a second evening, thanks. I’ve played numerous times in Roll20 but never as a DM. My partner is a DM and is confused why I seem to be missing some DM tools in the interface. We figured out why my compendium was missing, apparently a setting needed applied to confirm we wanted the 5e compendium. Still working out all the shortcuts.

We are using purely Roll20 and Zoom. Character sheets are hidden from other characters and they track everything in Roll20. Initiative, items, maps, handouts, etc. are all in Roll20.

Otherwise it’s just learning how to DM. I’m good at rules, bad at improv. It will be fun!

Roll20 is pretty cool. I’ve only done one short DM session on it. It is definitely easy to miss settings! I watched a couple of tutorial videos and that helped me catch a lot of things. I really like that you can have notes and stuff on the screen that only the DM can see, and then you can choose when to unhide stuff for players.

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I’m excited about that and will have to practice it. I’m running a pre-made dungeon crawl with maps, just to get my feet wet about the whole thing.

DM question: How to decide how much to let players make skill checks, both on trivial stuff and important plot points?

e.g. This book actually belonged to the Wizard you are trying to rescue.

On an Arcana DC12 I’ll reveal it’s a wizard spellbook. On an Investigation DC12 you can make out the faded lettering with the Wizard’s name. (Likely one of these will succeed.)

I really want them to discover it although things could progress without it. If a second player says, “Hey, can I also do an Arcana check?”… I’d probably allow a second check, particularly if player 2 is a magical class. But then the Barbarian jumps in, can I do a third check? I think I’d definitely call that a no. If a lower INT sorcerer wanted to Help Action the Wizard I’d allow it, but if the Barbarian wanted to cheese in a Help Action for Arcana I’d have them explain how it makes sense they’d help.

I figure the Help action means the most skilled member of the party rolls with advantage and you stop there. “Wiz give me an Arcana check and Sorcerer, if you are helping Wiz then Wiz can have advantage”. Then no other repeat checks (unless someone has a really good story)

Of course if someone in the party has Guidance, that helps too.

And if you really really want them to succeed, don’t have them roll a check. “Wiz, you have seen enough spell books in your time that you recognize this…”

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Depends what is happening and how the party plays it in my opinion. If the Goliath Barbarian says “I want to kick the door in, is that Athletics or flat Strength” and the Halfling Wizard says “I want to give the Help action”, I’d give that a no.

If somebody says, “I’d like to check out the books” and I say, okay, choose an Arcana or Investigation check and somebody chimes in, could I give the Help action?, I’d say yes.

If they discuss beforehand that somebody is going to help with an important check then almost certainly yes. Although the aforementioned Halfling example feels a bit edge-case.

And yeah, I don’t know if we will have a Wizard but I’d at minimum lower the DC, probably just give it free as you mentioned. Maybe a sorcerer or warlock would still get a lowered DC due to general familiarity. Just thinking generally since I’ve never done this. (Either way the book has a Glyph of Warding so they’ll figure it out if they open it!)

Sounds like you got this.

Glyph of Warding, you going for explosives or a spell? I like putting a Polymorph spell in my Glyph of Warding so they get turned into a bunny or a turtle or…

It’s a prewritten mini-campaign, but it has it stunning the character for 2d8 minutes, with I think a WIS DC14 save, because the spellbook is only to be used by the owner. That seems a little clunky to me, as they could just sit there for 8 minutes. There’s no particularly pressing time component. I might swap it out. Or depending how things go, maybe the baddies are more prepared if they just sit there and prepare actions to attack when they enter the next room.

You’re the DM, you decide. We once had a DM who would randomly roll dice as we were just talking. Sometimes it meant something, sometimes it didn’t. We once had a character who had to do a skill check for picking up a woman in a tavern, convincing her to go back to his place for sex, and whether he got a VD out of it. [He failed that last one with a 2; it impacted him for the next couple of campaigns.]

If they ask to do a skill check for something trivial, again - up to you, but if they fail it you can make the downside punitive enough that they think about it for a while before asking again for something like that. That’s the fun part of being a DM: you can organize a campaign, think of diversions you can try to get someone to bite on, and you can improvise as needed to let someone detour while still finding a way to get them on task with the campaign.

I do love this idea and planned on it. We are on Roll20 so combat rolls will be on the website (hidden, typically), but I have metal dice that are very clacky and absolutely will be occasionally rolling them whether meaningful or not. Not all the time, but sometimes.

As the DM you need to decide how much you want your campaign to be story driven versus random. Basically, is it really an inflection point in the story where making the check result in story A but failing results in story B. If you know where you want the story to go, don’t provide the opportunity for failure. If you don’t know, or are indifferent, let the dice roll.

For my part, as a player, I prefer less dice rolling and more story telling. If I’m a big burly barbarian kicking down a door, it’s going to work unless there is something special about the door. Don’t make me roll my dice, just give me the logical outcome of my action. However, you know your players and they may like all the dice rolling so then you can do that. The correct answer when it comes to roleplaying is always, what is more fun.

Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ll try to thread the needle between not making people roll for useless shit, but if you’re trying to circumvent the puzzle by destroying it, I’ll need a solid throw (at their levels, probably a DC 20, maybe even 25, depending.) In this situation, a lot of wood doors, parchment books, etc. are completely rotten, so any doors in their way are magically sustained.

I’m definitely a fan of storytelling and plan to fudge slightly if my dice are seriously mean. However, I will kill a character if they decide that jumping into 8 ghosts sounds like a good plan (complete hypothetical there - I think Ghosts are quite deadly at low levels)

Just playtested my first combat ever with my partner, it was a blast. I ran 6 various bandits and bandit captains and to help me get familiar with Roll20, my partner just threw 4 copies of their Monk onto the field and pretended to be 4 people. Up to 16 melee blows per round with Stunning Strike, jeez!

I got close to downing one of her Monks by concentrating on it and damaged a second, but it never felt deadly, which is good, because this is just an inciting incident (also the only reason I let them see this combat, since they’ll see it within the first 10 minutes anyway). They gave me a couple surprises but I’m excited to see what happens when we slap together more than just 4 monks.

My son has a birthday coming up and he asked for some D&D books. We only have the player’s handbook. I found this, and I’m hoping he likes it. It looks pretty cool to me.

Interesting, I’ve never seen this. Looks like it probably skips over the more fiddly rules and is a more high-level overview. Not sure how old he is (I feel like you said like 11 or 12 at some point?) so that could definitely be appropriate in case this is a passing interest, and if he dives in then maybe get some more books. For a player, Tasha’s Cauldron is a good one IMO, as a DM the Dungeon Master’s Guide is helpful as well as the Monster Manual.

Yeah, he’s turning 11. He’s a good reader, and has read most of the PHB. I’ve showed him Tasha’s Cauldron and Xanthar’s Guide to Everything. He asked for one of those, but I’m hoping he’ll like these books instead. I think they’ll be more entertaining. I want to eventually get all of the books, but since I can get them free online it’s hard to justify spending the money. I usually just ask for them as gifts.

That is friggin awesome. I hope our eventual kid is into D&D, it’s such a portal into all of reading, acting, and algebra.