I’ve got another post for all you DM’s out there but before I do that I have a minor PAX announcement. I’ve been getting a lot of mail about the ECA this morning. The Joystiq article is a good break down of what’s going on. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it but in the meantime we’ve gone ahead and pulled the ECA promotion we were running as a part of PAX registration. If the story changes I’ll let you know.
So my D&D game last monday was one of the best we’ve ever had and I wanted to share some of it with you. Some of these ideas might be things you can use in your own game.
It started with a fight in a market. I tried using my Dwarven Forge stuff a little differently than I usually do. I stacked them up to make buildings and then used the Dungeon Tile roofs on top. I dropped a couple tea lights inside because I’m a nerd. I think the end result was a really convincing little town square.
Next the party was summoned to compete in a tournament of Kord. This was a grand festival with jousting and arena fighting. I’ll go ahead and post some of my flavor text here in case you want to use it for your own game. This is what I read to the party as they arrived at the arena:
Stretching out before you is a wide open arena of green grass. Grandstands along the sides are full of cheering people waving brightly colored flags. A warm breeze washes over you bringing with it the fresh smell of summer. Tents dot the outskirts of the playing filed and you can see armored knights laughing and joking while squires lead horses between them.
A large bare chested man with a bright red beard approaches you. “Welcome to the Grand Tournament” he says in a deep voice. “Prove your might in battle today and you will win the the prize you seek.” He lifts a large ram’s horn from his belt and raises it to his lips. The horn splits the air “Let the games begin!” he yells as the crowd goes wild all around you.
The first event was jousting. I did some research online and found a couple different home brew rules for jousting in 4e but none of them did exactly what I wanted. I ended up taking what liked from a few different places and then tweaking and adding my own ideas. For my game, jousting was intended to be a fun “mini game” style encounter to start the tournament. I created a six person tournament bracket with myself as the sixth player. Pitting the players against each other ended up being really fun. They were all competing for the title “Master of the Joust” and the permanent +2 to fort that the title granted.
I handed each player a sheet with the jousting rules on it. You can find my Jousting rules right here. My guys are level 15 but you could switch up some of the values to match your players.
We had to do some tweaking on the fly so that the Invoker could be competitive. I ended up letting her use Wisdom for hit and damage rolls. Our Rogue was doing really well but he kept throwing lances at squires so he lost all his battles. It was a fun encounter and the players had a good time knocking each other around a little bit before the main event.
So after the Joust I had them move to the arena. I wanted this fight to be really over the top. We’ve always thought of Kord as a real man’s man. He’s the kind of God who cracks open a brew-ski and watches the game. The theme was: THIS SUNDAY WE’RE TURNING KORD’S ARENA INTO A GIANT MUD PIT! So rather than just throw some random mobs at them I created WWE style intros and placed each mini on the field one at a time. Here’s what I read to them in my best monster truck rally announcer voice:
In life he was a Cyclops chieften from the far wilds. He was killed and raised by a powerful necromancer whom he immediatly ate. Now he rules the arena with the powers of the living and the dead! I give you: Argos
From the darkest forests of Mithras comes the next mighty slayer of men. No labyrinth on Krynn can hold the furry of this Minotaur. Behold: Cyrain
Coming all the way from the elemental plane and birthed by fire this Salamander warrior burns all in her path! prepare yourselves for: Lemuria
Orphaned at a young age and raised by owlbears the next gladiator has brought pain to the far reaches of Krynn. Mothers hide your children from: Ovidius
From Menzoberanzan comes a Drow sorecerer of sin, a magi of meloncally, a wizard of woe, all tremble before the awesome power of: Belar
Next I let them know that they could play to the crowd in order to get bonuses to damage. They were using minor actions to taunt enemies, perform crazy stunts and all kinds of fun stuff. At one point the Dragonborn Paladin was actually flying around the stadium giving high fives. I also let them know that critical failures and cowardly tactics would make the crowd turn against them. When this happened they got a penalty to damage and the crowd actually started throwing things like Alchemist Fire onto the field.
The result was a really light hearted encounter that was a ton of fun and a nice break from the more serious stuff we’d been doing. They ended up playing a bunch of stadium rock music on their laptops and actually killed the final monster to We Are the Champions while the Dragonborn shot fire into the sky. So Awesome.
I’d say my big lesson was that it’s okay to get cheesy sometimes and not take D&D so seriously. It was a nice change of pace for a night and something you might think about tossing into your game.