Episode 478 - Taking away agency

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Hal
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Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby Hal » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:26 am

I know Save-or-Suck effects weren't the focus of the episode, but I'll just say up front: I made a decision as a GM to stop using those because they're not fun for the players. Everyone hates it when you're playing a board game or card game and you lose a turn. Well, the players get to control one character. If you're playing D&D, you get your turn in combat once every few minutes. Maybe as much as 15 minutes, depending on how complicated the game is. A paralysis/petrification/sleep effect basically prevents the player from playing. It's not fun for them. And when keeping players engaged at the table is already a challenge, removing control in this manner is counter-productive.

:soapbox:

Anyhow.

In the first game I ever ran, I had a situation where one of the players was to be "arrested." The guards were going to take him before the town magistrate, but ultimately this was just going to be a quest dispensing situation. What should have taken 3 minutes, however, ended up taking 15 as the player endlessly tried to talk his way out of going with the guards, who made it as clear as possible that they were not going to use force on him. In hindsight, I used the stick when I really should have used the carrot; instead of trying to motivate him with avoiding punishment (i.e. not dying in a fight with the guards) I should have tried to incentivize him positively to go with them.

In the end, I think if you are going to take away player agency (i.e. railroading), it really behooves the GM to use the PC's motivations to make this work. Put something they really want at the end of the tunnel you're trying to send them down. Hold something hostage. (You want them to hate your BBEG? Have him threaten to burn down an orphanage if they don't go retrieve his MacGuffin from the Dungeon of Plothook.) It can really help to make it congruent with the characters' desires if you're going to force them down a path.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby clintmemo » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:44 am

One of the big improvements of D&D 5E over previous editions is that almost all of the save or suck spells allow the victim to save every round. It makes them a lots less crappy to use in game.
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Hal
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby Hal » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:55 am

clintmemo wrote:One of the big improvements of D&D 5E over previous editions is that almost all of the save or suck spells allow the victim to save every round. It makes them a lots less crappy to use in game.


4E had that as well, which was nice.

Double-edged sword in 5E, though. I'm playing a wizard, and I really dislike using spells that allow a save because it feels as if I can't get anything to stick with such spells. It doesn't hurt that the GM's dice catch on fire when it's time to roll saves anyhow.

"Oh, your fireball hits 8 creatures? . . . Okay, 7 of them save." (╯ಠ益ಠ)╯︵ ┻━┻

EDIT: And while the save every time is nice, it doesn't help you much if your dice aren't cooperating. Case in point: At our last D&D game, the fighter sat out most of a long fight because the monster had an aura that induced some sort of stun effect and he failed his saving throw almost every time. And that in spite of the Paladin giving him a +5 bonus to the roll.
Last edited by Hal on Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby clintmemo » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:15 am

Hal wrote:
clintmemo wrote:One of the big improvements of D&D 5E over previous editions is that almost all of the save or suck spells allow the victim to save every round. It makes them a lots less crappy to use in game.


4E had that as well, which was nice.

Double-edged sword in 5E, though. I'm playing a wizard, and I really dislike using spells that allow a save because it feels as if I can't get anything to stick with such spells. It doesn't hurt that the GM's dice catch on fire when it's time to roll saves anyhow.

"Oh, your fireball hits 8 creatures? . . . Okay, 7 of them save." (╯ಠ益ಠ)╯︵ ┻━┻


It just makes playing a spellcaster more challenging. You have to pick spells that have a variety of saving throws and know which spell is more likely to affect which type of foe.
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Hal
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby Hal » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:05 pm

clintmemo wrote:It just makes playing a spellcaster more challenging. You have to pick spells that have a variety of saving throws and know which spell is more likely to affect which type of foe.


You're not wrong, but so far my spells have almost entirely come from leveling up (i.e. one new spell each level). That makes having a strong variety available . . . problematic.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby Aisha » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:41 pm

Hal wrote:
clintmemo wrote:It just makes playing a spellcaster more challenging. You have to pick spells that have a variety of saving throws and know which spell is more likely to affect which type of foe.


You're not wrong, but so far my spells have almost entirely come from leveling up (i.e. one new spell each level). That makes having a strong variety available . . . problematic.



As a GM I have to make sure that everyone gets opportunities for extra equipment and spells. I'm not sure if 5e still lets you learn from scrolls / other spellbooks, though.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby clintmemo » Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:01 pm

Aisha wrote:
Hal wrote:
clintmemo wrote:It just makes playing a spellcaster more challenging. You have to pick spells that have a variety of saving throws and know which spell is more likely to affect which type of foe.


You're not wrong, but so far my spells have almost entirely come from leveling up (i.e. one new spell each level). That makes having a strong variety available . . . problematic.



As a GM I have to make sure that everyone gets opportunities for extra equipment and spells. I'm not sure if 5e still lets you learn from scrolls / other spellbooks, though.



It does. It even has feats where you can learn ritual spells as a non-spell caster class.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby N00b13 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:25 pm

One of my favorite tropes about mind control as described in the show is secretly regaining control and Turing at the last minute. There is little more satisfying then being brainfuckled having the BBEG command you around but at the last moment when he tells you to kill your party instead turn and stab him in the guts while his guard is down.
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Hal
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby Hal » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:15 am

Aisha wrote:
Hal wrote:
clintmemo wrote:It just makes playing a spellcaster more challenging. You have to pick spells that have a variety of saving throws and know which spell is more likely to affect which type of foe.


You're not wrong, but so far my spells have almost entirely come from leveling up (i.e. one new spell each level). That makes having a strong variety available . . . problematic.



As a GM I have to make sure that everyone gets opportunities for extra equipment and spells. I'm not sure if 5e still lets you learn from scrolls / other spellbooks, though.


IIRC - Spellbooks, yes; scrolls, no. My PC did find another wizard's spellbook at level 2, so I managed to crib a few level 1 spells from him. But we're level 6 now, so it's been a while.

That said, we're about to shank a wizard in his tower, so I'm hoping to get access to more spells again.
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Re: Episode 478 - Taking away agency

Postby VaMinion » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:34 am

Hal wrote:IIRC - Spellbooks, yes; scrolls, no. My PC did find another wizard's spellbook at level 2, so I managed to crib a few level 1 spells from him. But we're level 6 now, so it's been a while.


Wizards can still learn spells from scrolls. You also get 2/level, not 1.
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