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33

Each Game Is Different It sounds like your problem is with 'play style'. You want a game where your cool scouty guy can go and scout, scrag a few guards, and get the players into the enemy fortress with none the wiser until the alarm gets raised - when the players are already in the mage's sanctum. Killing him. Messily. Instead, what you've got is ...


30

No, that is not normal, it's an unusually high kill rate in my experience. When I've been in parties that hit those levels, there have usually been one or two kills per campaign that require resurrection (though more close saves with resurgences and whatnot). It may be due to bad player tactics, weak characters, or the GM runs things tougher than the ...


21

Check out the Player's Handbook rules update. It provides the following clarification to the MarkedDDI condition: A mark ends immediately when its creator dies or falls unconscious. Of course, this makes sense. The idea of being marked is that the creature, for whatever reason, regards the originator of the mark as a threat. This might be because of a ...


20

Location. They will live near a water source, and probably near their fields... Neolithic hill forts are fairly common. It's a walled village atop an artificial hill, built on the floodplain. It may also have a cistern and/or a well down through the motte/tel. Walls are likely wood, possibly also dry-fit stone for part of the height. I can tell you from ...


19

First thing to remember is the definition of terrain in a combat/encounter framework: Terrain is anything that is not a character or monster combatant. Terrain is not just the ground the PCs are standing on. It is the furniture, atmosphere, weather, walls, ceiling, non-combatant plants and creatures, dead-bodies (real dead, not undead), fire, water, ...


18

What you are looking for is squad or platoon level movement and formations. US Army FM 3-21.8 has a lot on this subject, especially chapter 3. It specifically talks about creating a cigar-shaped perimeter when not on the move. Also research immediate action (IA) drills, about tactical response to certain situations. In one long AD&D 2e campaign, one ...


16

For 3.5, yes, it is a bit on the high side... but that's also very GM dependent. I've heard of 3.5 games with a death a session, but never played in one. The guys who did, however, knew that keeping a character alive was an accomplishment in that game. I've also seen 3.5 games that went years without a PC death. The average I hear about is 1 PC death per ...


16

I had this problem at first too. Here are some good uses of minions. Archers. Long range archers. This was the first effective use of minions I found. Make it so that rushing over to kill the minions is a time investment. Better yet, keep the minions separate from each other so that each individual minion is a time investment. Terrain. This is a ...


15

4th Edition, from experience When inflicted on a 4e group as part of a curse, it gave everyone a headache and made combats incredibly long. The hex based map presents incredible difficulties in calculating zones relative to the ease of calculating zones in a square map. Either zones in a hex grid are the same area as a square grid or they are the same ...


14

Shield walls were typically formed with units of dozens of trained soldiers. They are a formation that takes excellent discipline, and more than one rank. If you're attempting a shield wall with only one rank, don't expect it to last very long. The second rank is necessary because when one of the first rank is inevitably struct down, there has to be ...


14

Remember that minions are support monsters - not brutes. They are meant to add chaos to the battlefield. Adding on to Valadil's excellent list: . 7. [Endless?] Waves of minions. I've had encounters based on timers instead of "kill them all" - Wipe out my first 10 foot soldiers on the road with AOE? The second wave arrives spread out. . 8. Use two-hit ...


13

Make clearing the area a bad thing Put the party in situations where they don't want to kill everything. When your enemy is a riot of commoners driven to insanity by an unknown power source, the PC's will switch to defensive tactics and start trying to track it down. If the difficulty of reaching a goal scales directly with how many bad guys are killed, ...


12

Not sure which edition you are playing and what exact spell is in play - I don't know of any "spreading" silence spell, the normal second level one just hits one place or person and those within the radius are silenced but they don't spread it. Your general counters to a technique like this are: Mobility. Make Will saves and get out of the silence ...


12

First of all, remember that the purpose of the game is for players (and, secondarily, the GM) to have fun. As such, ask yourself if your battles need to be more difficult. Do you feel the ease in which the players beat all your monsters makes them bored, or are they excited that their tactics are so successful? Remember that the game is not you versus the ...


11

I think two other comments (here and here) do a good job of answering your questions; I am grappling with the same challenge of late. I want dynamic encounters that test characters beyond just run up and hit the baddie. When tinkering with an encounter I always look at it from the perspective of . . . what other ways can the players use their characters to ...


11

The d20 SRD has a simple and useful section on using hexes instead of squares. In terms of ramifications it has this to say: Using a hex-based grid changes relatively little about the game, but poses a mapping dilemma for the GM. Most buildings and dungeons are based on 90-degree and 45-degree corners, so superimposing a hex-based grid on a structure ...


11

Focus Fire: Don't spread out damage any more than you have to. It's far more effective for most of the monsters to concentrate on a single target. If you can get a player down, that's that much less damage per round Team Monster is taking, and the party is suddenly on the defensive to try to save the downed player (only particularly nasty monsters should ...


10

This is one of those situations where the players have to try to shape the combat. There are three major situation types where a dragon or dragon-like creature might land: 1. It is compelled to by the players. This category includes solutions that range from magic that can hold the dragon's wings, to creating clouds of dangerous gases or acids to make the ...


10

There are really too many options to list specifics. This problem can be addressed through basic mechanics available in some form to most classes and available to all classes through feat trees (check out unusual weapons available through feats) and items. I'll discuss each mechanic and give a level-5-or-below example of a power for each of them. Anything ...


9

Most of the advantage people/creatures have when setting up low tech defensive works tends to be environmental/situational. Unless in time of war, generally it's safety first though, and low cost - you don't have a pot of boiling oil or black pudding lying around for someone to trip over. Besides @aramis' great suggestions, I'd tend to say once you get ...


9

You may want to check the Tactical Formations category page of Wikipedia, then decide what interests you, what to google and read up on. It's a good starting point, imo.


9

I would suggest reading up on Sun Tzu, Alexander The Great, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Napoleon, Wellington, Clausewitz, Guderian, Patton, and Petraeus... Just to name a few. And if you only have time for one, read The Art Of War by Sun Tzu. How to apply this to RPG situation? This is not tricky. As a GM you control ...


8

This might be a digression but there's always the option of using neither of them. A tape ruler and some wargaming templates (warhammer or warmahordes) and you're good to go. Replace squares/hexes with inches and you have a pin point accurate system. Takes a little getting used to at first but it works smoothly once you get going. For the GM, maps suddenly ...


8

I remember coming across this very same things years ago when I started running games, I wanted my players to be inherently more creative than the run up & bash method of combat. What I discovered is that players will become creative when they are comfortable enough to be creative. What this means is that you need to show them it is ok to branch out and ...


8

Spell out the alternative win conditions for them. Set up a few combats that very clearly illustrate what a combat with those conditions looks like. Then proceed as normal. I did something like this in my thieves guild game. I told the players there was a new kind of combat: a chase scene. It played out in initiative order and their combat abilities ...


8

Provided you're comfortable with a hit point-based system already, the easiest way to go might be to make some slight modifications to provide the narrative framework you seem to be looking for. Imagine something like this: Characters have wounds, divided into 5 categories: Scratches, Painful Wounds, Impairing Wounds, Grievous Wounds, and Deadly Wounds. ...


8

Here's a bit of a non-intuitive fit, but bear with me. Have you considered FATE? Requirements: Miniature biased combat, with combat being the presumed focus of the game. Combat is not largely determined by luck. Dodging and parrying are an interesting part of the system. Less abstract damage. Every damaging blow should have a specific injury associated ...


8

Although there is no "wrong" way to DM this (aside from breaking the rules) I'll suggest the guidance I try to use when I DM: Don't punish players for coming up with good tactics or strategies. This particular combination falls into a broader category of strategies involving using monsters' attacks against them. In this case, the Avenger puts up their ...


7

Your party does seem like it's blundering around to a degree, and there are a couple of ways you can handle it. As far as how frequently it should be happening, well - in a perfect world this would be their fault, but given the biases inherent to the hobby you'll never know for sure. Do you feel as though every situation they're in should be winnable ...


7

There's always the old chestnut of "hold the line so innocent bystanders can get away". Imagine, say, a village near a river. There's one bridge across (or a ford or whatever) and suddenly an approaching horde of whatevers (orcs, paladins, evil assassin monks, fierce beasts, whatever works for the party and village) approach at pace. The village elder(s) ...



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