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(11/27/02 7:39:57 am)
Need Moral Support
Okay, I recently had a Player meltdown at the loss of his ranger's Bear Companion to the Green Dragon, and then the loss of his Animated Shield to the Rust Monster. He basically flipped out, tore up his character sheet, and stomped out of the session.

In later discussions with this player via email, he said that he felt I had been picking on him, that his character had lost everything he had been working for for the past six months.

Now I am shaken. The characters have wiped out half of the CRM, and have earned a visit from Victor the Assassin. Thanks to Hedrack's scrying, Victor has a fairly good plan of attack, which will most likely result in the death of the party mage.

*After* making these plans, I had a light-hearted discussion with the Mage's player about how his spells are constantly screwing up the enemies' minions - Improved Invisibility, Silence, etc.

After ending the conversation, I suddenly had a horrible thought: What if this mage does get killed by the assassin, and the player thinks I did it just so "my guys" would have a better chance against them?

The Player in question is a reasonable guy, and I have already impressed upon them the fact that they are dealing with very bad people, and death is a constant possibility. However, the incident with the Ranger, as I have said, has me shaken.

I do intend to have the Assassin leave a note from Hedrack behind him, warning the players off. However, I'm not sure if this will be enough to convince the players that this is all "pre-programmed" into the adventure, and not a personal vendetta against the mage!

Are there any ways I can make this attack seem more neutral? The only reason I think the mage will die is that they leave him in the back all the time, and Victor will be attacking from the rear. Absolutely if a better target appears, or the Assassin cannot get to the mage easily, it won't be the mage who gets it, but right now, he's the most likely target.

Any suggestions?


(11/27/02 8:01:07 am)
Re: Need Moral Support
My party was only in its fourth session when I nearly had a metldown. We (me included) have never fully played a "classic" module before, such as ToEE, Ravenloft, AtG, etc. Also, we have a tendency not to kill PC's (I generally fudge die rolls and the other DM in our group does similar things so that no one ever dies). This means the players are not used to PC deaths or great hardships.

For this module, I reinforced how tough things would be. Apparently, I did such a good job that they have been constantly scared and on the edge of their seats. However, this is not a good thing. They need time to relax. Suspense ALL THE TIME isn't good, and I don't think this is what Monte had in mind. I talked this over with my players (after the bad 4th session) and the 5th session went much better. They realized that bad things can still happen, just that they are not intentional and will not happen all the time. Perhaps this is what your player has been feeling? Even more so, that his character was targeted? He's gotta grow up. Some players cannot see past character sheets, spend too much time on developing the character and refuse to let anything bad happen. They get too personally attached, and need to wake up. See the thread I started on bulding character: I had this same issue.

Some additional comments:

1. Stress upon the player that those in front will likely take the brunt of the attacks and that it is nothing personal.

2. There ARE assassins in this module. Let the players read the section on death attacks, just to give them a heads up and that you are not making it up. This is more for newer players to 3E than experienced ones (like yours probably).

3. Many deaths and losses of items are random. The gray ooze in the moathouse, for example, will attack the first character, not necessarily the one weaing the full mithral plate.

4. Low HD animal companions and familiars are ALWAYS at risk, not just in this module, but whenever the party is higher level.

5. Just like the party will target the most effective opponent and take him/her out, so will the badguys. If the mage is clearly the most effective/annoying PC (intruder), then he is the most likely target. At this point, reiterate #2.

6. Blame it on Monte. ;)

(11/27/02 8:39:26 am)
Re: Need Moral Support
Infiniti2000 got my favorite one there...Blame Monte. Sorry Monte...but I doubt my players will ever meet you in person, and it keeps the personal relationships here much friendlier.

I hate to say it, but the Ranger player is simply acting childish. Item loss, companion loss, even repeated PC loss is to be expected. Remind him that it's not a perfect world, not a bright and cheery place, and that bad things happen to good PCs.

Preferably in a letter. If he stormed out like that, there's no reason to even speak with him face to face until he's ready to apologise.

As for the mage, let's forget about the characters, the situation, the background. Let me ask you one important question.

What is the mage's Player's character (attitude, not PC) like? Is he a person who is going to fly off the handle and storm off like the ranger's player, or is he someone who is going to accept that this dungeon has adversity, and terror, and evil...and move on? If he can handle it maturely, then set your fears aside and do your job...DMing the adventure.

As an aside, I'd recommend you look through the BoVD, if you have it available, and have Victor add Death Grimace to his spell list, memorize it before the mission, and use it on his assassination target.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

(11/27/02 8:49:54 am)
Re: Need Moral Support
Hey Shidara,

I had these kind of problems with some of my (some ex) players as well. I think, what they need to learn is that it's not players versus DM, it's players with DM.
If the DM kills half of the players and they are feeling bad about it, the DM won't have much fun that evening himself. (at least that's how I feel - there might be others as well).
On the other hand - if the DM never kills anybody, players start thinking they are unkillable...

What I sometimes do is, make the players roll dice, who is going to be attacked.
Example: The players are attacked by a dire bear. Have everyone in the front row roll D20 - the one who rolls highest is the target.

Now, the players are charged by kobolds. The kobolds naturally all attack one and, if possible the weakest opponent (that's just the way kobolds are). Therefore have the front row roll D20 as well, but give them modifies about their looks (-5 for the one in the Plate mail), (+2 for the one without weapon in the hand). That way your players dig their own graves and cannot be angry at you about that...

Well, and the guy playing the ranger just has to learn, that that's the way life (or roleplay) goes... sometimes you loose, sometimes you win...
In my campaign, I try to decide on logic. If logic can't help me, I go for random decisions. Sometimes, if one player is really target of very many bad happenings, I do change a dice roll or two, I do create something positiv for him - but do NOT let him know, that you did that - let him think it's either pure luck, it's in the adventure anyway or it's because he did something - then he'll like it. The players will never know, that you saved the day - but sometimes DMing is lonely :-)

well, enough said for today,
hope you'll get it straight,


(11/27/02 11:16:00 am)
Re: Need Moral Support
"...but sometimes DMing is lonely"

True, which is why (thanks to Monte) we have this message board. I have never seen so much help about a particular module. I am VERY appreciate of it, for I have gotten tons of help.

Quite honestly, one of the best things for my campaign is actually posting the log. I'm not sure if anyone even reads it anymore, but I assume so, since I read everyone elses hungrily. The players know I post the log and I have them review most of it before hand. (I do not have them review "DM Note" sections or other non-player knowledge parts.) Now, during our sessions, some players consciously make choices knowing lots of other people will read about it. I think this has drastically improved roleplaying, because that directly impacts the log, much more so than combat actions.

I don't think if I posted a log of my own adventures (prior to RttToEE for example), anyone would care too much about it or appreciate it as much. The fact that a large community can relate to the same story is very...important...can't seem to find the right word here.

worx a4
(11/27/02 1:57:42 pm)
Re: Need Moral Support
I thought abou this dilema for some time before I started my campaign and decided to introduce a new rule called Fate Points. Its basically a get out of jail free card.

For details read the house rules section on my campaign website. It allows a player to save his character when he should have otherwise died. Its Fate intervenig to save a character who is destined for greater things...

When run properly players do not become flipant about death - just the opposite - a real character death is seen as a great loss.

Incidently, the players love the idea and value their Fate points more than any magic item!

The DM
(11/27/02 3:15:45 pm)
Re: Need Moral Support
Just to interject in my moderator role here:

worx a4, for the benefit of our low bandwidth brethren, could you please trim your sig image down (or turn it off)?

158k just for a sig is a little painful.


(11/27/02 6:25:31 pm)
re: moral support
I understand where you are coming from shidara. I had the leader of the party (a paladin) decide one evening that "Thrommel has won, I quit". This was after a few sessions of Thrommel abusing the party mentally and physically.

I wanted to get them to deal with him so they would remove his coffin from the Inner Fane. In return Thrommel would not interfere (so he claimed) with their efforts to destroy the cult.

I had another instance when they encountered Hedrack. It took them 3 or 4 battles to finally defeat him. When they did however there was much rejoicing by the players but before that event they were very frustrated.

I had yet another instance when they party was basically defeated by the Third except for one PC who ran downstairs and hid. The other PCs were captured. That one PC snuck into the torture room and killed Yrthuk by himself and freed another PC. Together they attacked the Third and freed the other 2 PCs (who were trapped in the Thirds bedchamber in a forcecage witnessing some vile stuff).

After this the PCs failed their one and only attempt to teleport out and were trapped in the Inner Fane. I used the hags to attack the party in their dreams but instead of the hags attacking I used the First. I gave them all of their spells and had the First max'd out using every spell on his list to make him as tough as possible.

After a tough fight he achieved a TPK. Some members of the group exclaimed " Why cant we just leave this place!!" before and during the fight with the First. I used the First this way to give the group a feel for what was coming around the corner. When they woke up the next morning with the CON loss they were relieved and teleported out ASAP.

Needless to say they were pumped when they finally defeated him and left the Black Spike for good. Even after this though tension was high and there was alot of bickering between players. The tension of the adventure was wearing on them and I could see it coming out in the game.

Last session I had an hour long discussion with them about how they felt about recent events, each other as players, and myself as a DM. I told them what I felt was happening and where things were getting sidetracked.

After a couple of PC changes (2 previous PCs that were mainstays of the group returned) we began the session and it went very well. The group assaulted the recovered temple and defeated the elemental/ stone giant combo and the group of stone giants and their fiendish leader. Morale seemed to be up with the victories which is no surprise but it was good to see in game.

I guess thru everything I have learned this... there are PLENTY of opportunities to challenge the PCs. The real challenge is picking which ones to use and which ones to let the players win. This is a long adventure and at times you are tempted to spice things up and really challenge the players. While this is fine most parties will want at least an equal amount of success as well.

I am nearing the end of the story with about 4-6 sessions left and I think my players feel they are hanging on by a thread and squeaking by during most battles. I think this is alright but as you can see it wears the players down. We have been in this adventure for over a year in real time and we play almost every week. They move slowly at times I admit but this adventure can be a mental grinder depending on the players involved.

Now....after all that I do feel this is the best campaign I have ever had the pleasure of running and I think my players feel the same. These boards played a very major role in my success and for that I thank every one of the DMs that offer up such great ideas. I'd also like to thank Monte for supplying us with such a place as well.

I truly believe this will be one of those adventures you talk about for years down the road. Everyone here knows the stories they tell before or after (and during at times) a session about the good ole days when the PCs did this or that. This will be one of those games for my group.

Bottom line is this... challenge the players, the adventure demands that you do so. Reward them as well. At times this will be in the form of victories for the players without many losses, at others it will be magic and such. You know your players best shidara, give them what they want but make them work and sweat to achieve their goals.

Wow, this got a little longer than I intended. For those still reading I apologize for going off on a tangent. Hopefully my comments can help another DM's campaign somewhere down the road. Let us know how it turns out for your group shidara. Good luck.


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