lukearl Luke Earl is a UX & tabletop games designer in the UK. He also makes things, shoots film photography, and plays ukulele, RPGs & board games. https://lukearl.com/ Wed, 17 Apr 2024 18:37:04 +0000 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 18:37:04 +0000 Pico Blog <h1>Blog</h1> Wed, 17 Apr 2024 18:37:04 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog https://lukearl.com/blog Behind My DM Screen <p>A 3x5 index card with short adventure outline, treasure hoard, and creatures/NPCs (with page references to stats) on one, rumours on another, and a third with bullet points for the night and note taking laid out in front of me. Maps sketched it in little notebooks or drawn on A4 for the players. </p> <p>Cards with random encounters (basically mini adventures), other plots/adventures, last week's notes, potential wandering monsters, special magic items, and local information held in a small plate holder. </p> <p>I put them in a small traveler's notebook at the end of the night.</p> <p>6x12" screen has reference tables and I place tiny foam models I've made on top as an initiative tracker and I lean my books on my chair for reference, monster stats, etc.</p> <p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/7w6vyy/fellow_dms_how_do_you_organize_your_stuff_behind/?st=JDT0MR3Y&amp;sh=d3f3cae3">As answered on Reddit</a></p> Sat, 10 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/behind-my-dm-screen https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/behind-my-dm-screen BRPS' Great Survey 2018 <p>To begin with, a big huge massive thank you to the 50 fine peoples to take part in BRPS' Great Survey 2018! By my count we're within 18% of being totally confident that we have 99% of the will of the people so I'm counting this as a statistically accurate representation.</p> <p>Secondly, apologies for the tardiness of the results; to egregiously misquote, life, uh, finds a way of getting in the way.</p> <p>Here are the highlights (TL;DR):</p> <ol> <li>Everyone wants to play more often</li> <li>Folk want help hooking up for home games</li> <li>Public one shots are in demand</li> <li>Self-organised social events are on the cards</li> <li>Exploring the possibility of a local convention</li> <li>GM Workshops to continue</li> <li>Clubhouse with a yearly subscriptions</li> <li>Forming a committee</li> </ol> <p>For those numerically inclined, <a href="https://qo.typeform.com/report/Yyrl7G/FXraDlmYK5Q1lvmN">here's the survey report</a> and also a <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Eq4V60AN-j8Xdup7_8A4rCdkbVIPZ0qWFXaEa_Ctg1k/edit?usp=sharing">summary spreadsheet of the free-form comments</a>. No personally identifiable data has been shared!</p> <p>Right, settle down with a nice tea and let's get into this...</p> <h2>Everyone (generally) wants to play more often</h2> <p>Of those answering the 'How often do you/do you want to game?' questions, nearly everyone wanted to play more often (including 40% of those gaming once a week) with "weekly" coming out as the most popular choice.</p> <p>Digging into the suggestion box we also see comments around regular weekend games, a regular local club house, and a pop-up gaming cafe.</p> <h2>Folk want help hooking up for home games</h2> <p>Based on this survey, the greatest imperative for the group is to hook up players with other players for home games - this is good as that's what our aim is currently.</p> <p>That said, I'm happy to admit MeetUp isn't the greatest in terms of fluidity and seeing who is up for a game. One suggestion was for a page to list players looking to game - certainly an option though we don't get that many people venturing past the home page to get to the boards so it might prove tricky.</p> <p>The new discussions functionality on the home page might be the best place but I don't see much in the way of movement on there either.</p> <h2>Public one shots are in demand</h2> <p>Second on the list of wants from the group are one shots - we've bumped those up to two a month now (subject to availability) since we've got a free and friendly venue in The Rising Sun pub and a seemingly growing list of willing GMs.</p> <p>If you want to get involved and have a hand at GM'ing a session, drop your name on this volunteer GM form here. <a href="https://goo.gl/forms/xS7S1YY0jf7v4VML2">https://goo.gl/forms/xS7S1YY0jf7v4VML2</a></p> <h2>Self-organised social events are on the cards</h2> <p>Not only did social events score quite highly, there were also a couple of comments about wanting to be more social and one on an apparent lack of activity in the group.</p> <p>At the one shots we've already discussed changing the Drunkards &amp; Flagons evening to a board game night instead which we'll try and get running in November... Boardgames &amp; Taverns?</p> <p>But that aside, this one's going to need your input - if you want to organise something through the group then you're very welcome to go for it. Just drop me an email saying what you'd like to put on, I'll grant you the appropriate privileges, and then you can take it from there.</p> <p>Since I'm one person and have limited available time I think this is probably the best approach for now, at least until the group has more organisers.</p> <h2>Local convention</h2> <p>After short campaigns (again, see below), a local convention was the fifth most popular interest so I can look into options around that.</p> <p>My current thought is hire a hall somewhere nearby, potentially at Viables, and have a series of one shots on throughout the day, possibly with a board game corner for anyone with downtime and see if any local business want to rock up with a stall.</p> <p>With everyone bringing some sort of cake/foodstuff/rations to share and tickets at around £8 each then we should cover hire costs (for example, if 40 persons turn up we can hire out the smaller hall at Viables).</p> <h2>GM Workshops to continue</h2> <p>Just below local convention came the GM workshops. For those of you who haven't attended them, they're basically a self-help discussion group for GMs that focus around one or two topics each evening. Think: online forum but IRL.</p> <p>A lot of the GMs for the one shots have come from there and aims to help new GMs figure out how they're supposed to GM.</p> <p>If you want to discuss a topic there's now a Google form for suggestions <a href="https://goo.gl/forms/f3seb1AY6o6bzl3l2">https://goo.gl/forms/f3seb1AY6o6bzl3l2</a> and a poll to decide on the next discussion topic is in the group's poll section.</p> <h2>Clubhouse and a yearly subscriptions</h2> <p>There was an overly-specific (and it turns out, mildly inaccurate) question about paying £8 a year to provide a weekly venue...</p> <p>I threw this question in as I'd come across <a href="https://www.rphaven.co.uk/">RP Haven</a> at UK Games Expo - they're a non-profit organisation that try to help get more people gaming, specifically in three month campaigns which would hit our 'short campaign' needs.</p> <p>They seemed genuine and friendly peoples and my interest was piqued so I thought I'd throw the question out to the group.</p> <p>Unfortunately I misread their information leaflet which <em>actually</em> said to join their organisation member pay £8 a year PLUS £2.50 for each attended session.</p> <p>Currently we're probably forking more than that out over the bar at The Rising Sun and have the low reverberation of background pub noise to contend with so I still don't feel it's that bad a deal (depending on your tipple of choice).</p> <p>Other benefits include "a wide range of discounts from retailers for all things role play and even board games" and "allows your members to register for an account on our website, so they can reserve a seat on their game" and an approved budget for things like dice. <a href="https://www.rphaven.co.uk/gmblog/roletogether.html">Exact details can be found on RP Haven's site</a>.</p> <p>To join, we'd need to form a committee (see below), have a minimum of 30 members, and be happy with how they organise things. Presumably they'd also need to be happy with our letting people organise their own home games and GM workshops and the like. So nothing set stone yet, it's just a consideration.</p> <h2>Forming a committee</h2> <p>Currently it's myself <em>officially</em> running this MeetUp group with a number of event organisers who use the group to advertise slots at their home games and a number of regulars who help out.</p> <p>Besides the point above about RP Haven, I'd like to do this anyway in order to:</p> <ol> <li>Take some of the organisational load from me to enable us to run a greater number of activities</li> <li>Make sure that the group can eventually support itself without my involvement</li> <li>Help decide on the future of the group as it continues to grow</li> </ol> <p>I think the RP Haven set up is sensible to the committee would consist of three or four people covering:</p> <ul> <li>Group Organiser</li> <li>Game Coordinator</li> <li>Member Representative</li> <li>Treasurer (if required)</li> </ul> <p>I''m keen to get this committee together though so if you would like to get involved then please get in touch! Will work out how we go about deciding on how we go about organising from there.</p> <h2>And finally...</h2> <p>A number of suggestions/comments were not touched upon above in some shape or form so I thought I'd cover them off here:</p> <ul> <li>Weekend games - no immediate plans but will see what occurs in the future.</li> <li>A list of players wanting to game and set up groups - MeetUp isn't great at this and I still believe the Event Organiser route is the safest way to go in terms of meeting people from the internet. That said, the message boards (<a href="https://www.meetup.com/basingstoke-rpg/messages/boards/">https://www.meetup.com/basingstoke-rpg/messages/boards/</a>) do get some traffic so if anyone wants to start a thread feel free.</li> <li>More women-friendly/women at events - the group is at about 4:1 male to female gamers which is what we tend to see at our events but message me if you want to organise something and we'll sort something out.</li> <li>Closer ties to other RPG groups - I occasionally contact other groups but have not really pushed it since there's been little need.</li> <li>Unresponsive GMs - I had a small cull of GMs/event organisers late last year but this does still happen. If you don't hear back after to a message then let me know and I'll chase up.</li> </ul> <p>For those interested in stats, each month we have roughly:</p> <ul> <li>20 new members join the group</li> <li>35 members attending events</li> <li>60 members visit the site</li> <li>Age ranges of site visitors are about 25 - 34 (47%), 18-24 ( 20%), 35-44 ( 20%), and 45-54 ( 13%)</li> </ul> <p>I'll be emailing out to those who left their name asking for a message in the next week to discuss whatever it is you would like to discuss.</p> <p>Okay, that's all for now.</p> <p>Message me if you feel the need.</p> <p>Stay groovy.</p> <p>Luke</p> Sun, 21 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/brps-great-survey-2018 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/brps-great-survey-2018 Designing a Better DM Screen <p>The screen was finished just in time for last night's game, the first in five months, and so I was able to test it at the table. Some good points (<a href="/gaming/random-encounter-table">random encounter</a> and <a href="/gaming/random-weather-table">weather tables</a>) and some bad (tiny font size on weapon table and misjudged being able to read white on green).</p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/0225.dmscreen.jpg" alt="Printer proofs of the screen" /></p> <p>After some <a href="https://plus.google.com/+LukeEarl/posts/9wa2Kuo6gHf">feedback from G+</a> I switched the random encounter table to 3d6 which worked really well and felt quite natural. Ended up using 2 of the 3d6 as weather and rolling again for encounter catalyst which worked neatly.</p> <p>All in all I'm actually pretty happy with how it's come out, despite those minor issues, so now just need to rejig into a size that people will find useful.</p> <p>Those sizes appear to be US letter and A4, both landscape and portrait. Should be easy enough, it's not like I started this back last summer.</p> Sun, 25 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/designing-a-better-dm-screen https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/designing-a-better-dm-screen Dice Fishing (A Mini Game) <p>In a recent Dolmenwood Hack game, the players were sent on a very dangerous mission to fish for the famed Longmire Squid. Since they were to be paid 10 coin per squid I needed a way for them to know how many squid they caught so came up with this little number based partially on the dice mechanics from <a href="/gaming/zap-atomic-ray-gun-rpg">Z!ARG!</a></p> <h2>Dice Fishing: Rules</h2> <p>Players can choose to fish with one of the three following combinations:</p> <ol> <li>1 Net (d8 with advantage (roll twice, take highest roll))</li> <li>1 Net + 1 Squid Pot (d8 + d4)</li> <li>3 Squid Pots (3d4)</li> </ol> <p>A number of squid (3d4) can be caught each round and the players throw their nets/pots out to see if they roll higher than the squid's roll.</p> <ul> <li>If the players roll a double and they win, double the number of squid caught. </li> <li>If a treble is thrown, treble the number of squid, eg. both the players and squid roll three fours, players catch 36 squid in one haul.</li> <li>If they lose, they also lose a pot due to being weighed down with too many squid.</li> </ul> <p>Three rounds for an evening's fishing and ties favour the players.</p> <p>Feel free to allow your players to affect the odds by means of ingenuity. They drive the fish into the net by making a noise? +1 to their roll. They cast Sleep on the murky shoal? +2, etc.</p> <h3>Highest potential earnings</h3> <ol> <li>1 Net: 480 coin</li> <li>1 Net + 1 Pot: 720 coin</li> <li>3 Pots: 1,080 coin</li> </ol> Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dice-fishing https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dice-fishing D&amp;D Easy Monster Building <p>The final monster building guidelines I ended up with can be found at the end of the article (<a href="#end">skip to the end</a>) but if you want to know how I got there, read on...</p> <p>Back in March, Mike Mearls added a thought to Twitter:</p> <blockquote> <p>Want to cut down on referencing monster stats as you play? Use half a monster&#39;s CR as its bonus for all checks and saves. If the monster has legendary actions or is notably powerful in your campaign, also add its proficiency bonus.</p>&mdash; Mike Mearls (@mikemearls) <a href="https://twitter.com/mikemearls/status/929145412052590593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 11, 2017</a></p> </blockquote> <p>You'll note the lack of #wotcstaff hashtag so this is on the down-low.</p> <p>Evan Miller then followed up with:</p> <blockquote> <p>okay pulled up my old data this is all 443 monsters and npcs in the monster manual using a linear line of best fit, 14.448X+11.283, recommended to flip it to 15x+10. X=CR <a href="https://t.co/MFNJZGbI8E">pic.twitter.com/MFNJZGbI8E</a></p>&mdash; Evan Miller (@LordKadarian) <a href="https://twitter.com/LordKadarian/status/969624200100044800?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 2, 2018</a></blockquote></p> </blockquote> <p>Taking these two posts as a basis I realised all you need to do is add AC, a weapon, perhaps a special ability and you're pretty much done.</p> <p>So I've put it all together like so:</p> <blockquote> <ul> <li>HP = 15CR + 10</li> <li>AC = Armour + half CR</li> <li>Checks &amp; saves = half CR</li> <li>Attack = Weapon damage</li> <li>Special = Random spell</li> <li>XP = 200CR</li> </ul> <p>Flavour to taste</p> </blockquote> <p>I've decided to ignore the monster features (DMG281) as this is just a rough and ready "I need some stats, stat".</p> <p>So let's try it out...</p> <h2>I've Created a Monster</h2> <p>You know those spiky seeds about an inch across that cling to your clothes? Those are my inspiration and I'm going to call them Pobbles (after the <a href="http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ll/pobble.html">poem</a>).</p> <p>Pobbles are "tiny" creatures, about six inches diameter, that attach to unwary adventurers. Once caught in their grip, more rapidly attach to the victim in order to drag them to the floor and gorge themselves silly.</p> <p>Pobbles attack in packs so we'll treat them as a swarm.</p> <p>I know from my <a href="/gaming/dnd-5e-encounters-cr-budgets">encounter building budget</a> that my party of six level five adventurers will have a hard fight with a CR8 creature so I'll use that as my starting point.</p> <p>This Swarm of Pobbles will be a CR 8 creature and have:</p> <ul> <li>130HP</li> <li>AC 14 (no armour)</li> <li>+4 bonus to all rolls</li> <li>1600XP</li> </ul> <p>Their attack is dependent on the first one latching on with others joining to drag their prey down so they can have a multi-attack with two attacks:</p> <ul> <li>Bite (which we'll pretend is a dagger): 1d4+1</li> <li>If that hits, a second attack as 1d8+1 (rapier) more Pobbles attach delivering that amount of damage and the target is grappled.</li> </ul> <p>If the target end their turn still grappled they take 1d4+1d8+2 damage each round as more pile on.</p> <p>For a special attack let's re-flavour a spell... skimming through the PHB I think I'm looking for something blood draining or necrotic... so probably a Warlock spell... Crown of Madness sounds like something that might happen to a person covered in Pobbles, let's see...</p> <blockquote> <p>One humanoid of your choice that you can see within range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become charmed by you for the duration. While the target is charmed in this way, a twisted crown of jagged iron appears on its head, and a madness glows in its eyes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Lovely. Let's re-flavour to taste and use 8 + half CR for the save DC:</p> <ul> <li>Recharge (5-6): Target must succeed on a DC12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 min. While poisoned, skin puckering and contorting around the bite, they must use their action before moving to melée attack the nearest creature. If no one is within range, target can act normally on their turn.</li> </ul> <p>That works quite well I think so let's put all this together:</p> <h3>Swarm of Pobbles (Version 1)</h3> <ul> <li>130HP</li> <li>AC 14 (no armour)</li> <li>+4 bonus to all rolls</li> <li>1600XP</li> </ul> <h4>Multi-attack</h4> <ol> <li>Bite: +4 to hit, 1d4+4 damage</li> </ol> <p>If successful:</p> <ol start="2"> <li>Pile On: +4 to hit, 1d8+4 damage as more Pobbles attach. Target is grappled on a success.</li> <li>Poisonous Vengence (Recharge 5-6): Target must succeed on a DC12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 min. While poisoned, their brow knots into thorn-like protrusions and they must use their action before moving to melée attack a creature within range. If no one is close by, target can act normally on their turn.</li> </ol> <h2>Checking the Stats</h2> <p>Turning to the monster building guidelines in the Dungeon Master's Guide (page 274) we can see how this unaligned creature measures up to it's target CR.</p> <ul> <li>XP too low, by a factor of ~3</li> <li>Proficiency bonus to high, by 1 point</li> <li>AC too low, should be 16</li> <li>HP too low, by 45-60 points</li> <li>Attack bonus too low, should be +7</li> <li>Damage per round too low, by about 40 HP</li> <li>Save DC too low, by about 4 points</li> </ul> <p>Okay... so all in all what I seem to have created is CR 4 creature. Damn.</p> <h2>Revised Rules, Rebuilt Monster</h2> <p>What does it do for the rest of our rules?</p> <p>XP is an issue because it has an exponential growth. Maybe it's best to reference the table for that. Or perhaps simplify it into three tiers, 1-10, 11-20, and then ignore 21-30; if you're throwing a creature at your party above level 20 you'll probably not be doing this on the fly.</p> <p>AC I can live with and would be based mostly on flavour, eg, thick hide or scales or whatever, but that's a big drop in HP so let's have a look a little closer at that:</p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/monster_building-HP.png" alt="Graph showing relationship of CR vs HP for the four equations below" /></p> <p>The orange line is original estimate, 15x+10; looking back at Evan Miller's line of best fit I think we can readjust based on the fact we're only dealing with up to level 20. </p> <p>Taking that into account means at level 20 we want our monster to have an average of ~350HP so I try a couple of fixes...</p> <p>I first try the blue line, 15x+30; hits about 330HP at level 20 but all creatures will have a 30HP minimum</p> <p>The black line is 16x; simpler maths but less than 325HP at level 20</p> <p>Finally, the red line, 18x; the line fits well even though it's probably about 360HP at level 20</p> <p>Proficiency is just correct enough to not care too much and we can still use half CR for checks and saves but attack bonus needs a little bump, about +2, to come close to standard.</p> <p>Damage output needs a bit more than just ripping off and re-skinning an existing weapon...</p> <p>Damage works out at roughly half CR x10 till you get to about CR 20 (which we're not focusing on anyway), so let's use damage output instead; about CRd8+CR is a little weak but gets you roughly in the ballpark.</p> <p>So let's have another whack at building this beast...</p> <h3>Swarm of Pobbles (Version 2)</h3> <ul> <li>150HP</li> <li>AC 14 (no armour)</li> <li>+4 bonus to checks and saves</li> <li>4000XP</li> </ul> <h4>Multi-attack (3 attacks)</h4> <ol> <li>Bite: +6 to hit, 3d8+6 damage</li> </ol> <p>If successful:</p> <ol start="2"> <li>Pile On: +6 to hit, 5d8+6 damage as more Pobbles attach. Target is grappled on a success.</li> <li>Poisonous Rage (Recharge 5-6): Target must succeed on a DC12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 min. While poisoned, their brow knots into thorn-like protrusions and they must use their action before moving to melée attack a creature within range. If no one is close by, target can act normally on their turn.</li> </ol> <p>Which feels much more like a CR 8 creature.</p> <p><span id="end"></span></p> <h2>Final monster building guidelines</h2> <p>Putting all that together leaves us with the following:</p> <blockquote> <ul> <li>HP = 18<em>CR</em></li> <li>AC = <em>CR</em>/2 + 10</li> <li>Checks &amp; saves = <em>CR</em>/2</li> <li>Attack bonus = <em>CR</em>/2 +2</li> <li>Damage = <em>CR</em>d8 + <em>CR</em></li> <li>Special = <em>up to</em> <em>CR</em>/2 level spell</li> <li>XP = 500<em>CR</em> <em>for</em> CR 1-10 monsters, <em>or</em> 1000<em>CR</em> <em>for</em> CR 11-20 monsters</li> </ul> <p>Flavour to taste</p> </blockquote> <p>So bit rough and ready but should get you through a session in a pinch.</p> Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-easy-monster-building https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-easy-monster-building D&amp;D Encounter Building &amp; CR Budgets <p>While I've been iterating on my DM screen I've been adding my own tables and rules such as <a href="/gaming/random-weather-table">weather</a>, <a href="/gaming/dnd-5e-simple-creature-loot">treasure</a>, and <a href="/gaming/random-encounter-table">random encounters</a>. It's been an interesting process, attempting to stick as close to the original rules as much as possible while simplifying and/or taking a creative liberty or two.</p> <p>Encounter building budgeting has probably been the most involved but I eventually came up with the following:</p> <blockquote> <p>Encounter CR budget based on Total Party Level (TPL)</p> <ul> <li>1 monster = Quarter of TPL</li> <li>2 monsters = Third of TPL</li> <li>5 monsters = Half of TPL</li> <li>8 monsters = Two thirds of TPL</li> </ul> <p>Half CR again for levels 1 to 4</p> </blockquote> <p>The ratio that you split that budget might be interesting but isn't something I've play-tested yet but the maths <em>should</em> work out about right. Sort of. Maybe.</p> <p>Let me go back to the start...</p> <p>My <a href="/gaming/dungeon-master-tables">previous DM screen</a> included an edited version of the table from <a href="http://slyflourish.com/start_here.html">Sly Flourish's encounter building guidelines</a> but this time around my first attempt included a to graphical representation of Mike/Sly Flourish's equations:</p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-SLY-gfx.png" alt="For hard encounters, a monster&#039;s CR equals a fraction of a player&#039;s level. 2 players vs 1 monster = 3/4, 1 vs 1 = 1/3, and 2 vs 1 = 1/4. Graphic uses icons for monsters and players." /></p> <p>Not wanting to accidentally steal someone else's work (<a href="#asterisk">again*</a>) and with the aim to find a method not based on ratios, I went and made a <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZJvuXQMEWN1VdirOaq5_WgBYD_se-lJwfQk5m6H1xVc/">CR budget spreadsheet</a> to determine my own rules for eyeballing the potential lethality of an encounter.</p> <p>And then I colour-coded it.<br> Because I like pretty spreadsheets.<br> Don't judge me.<br></p> <p>The aim was to compare the Dungeon Master's Guide, Xanathar's Guide to Everything, and Sly Flourish's guidelines versus whatever I came up with to ensure that my rules were reasonably sane and accurate (for a given value of both).</p> <p><a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZJvuXQMEWN1VdirOaq5_WgBYD_se-lJwfQk5m6H1xVc/" target="_blank"><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-GSHEET.png" alt="Screen shot of spreadsheet" /></a></p> <p>The darker/stronger the colour, the higher the value vs the other similarly coloured values (eg. all 8 monster columns are blue).</p> <ul> <li>Column A shows PC level,</li> <li>B tallies up the party level (level*number of PCs)</li> <li>C-F are my own calculations</li> <li>G-J use the Dungeon Master's Guide guidelines for hard encounters</li> <li>K-N use Xanathar's Guide to Everything's tabulated guide for 4 PCs (on page 91)</li> <li>O-R use the guidelines set out by Sly Flourish</li> <li>Row 2 indicates the number of monsters</li> <li>Row 3 is whatever modifier the equations needed to reference for that column</li> </ul> <p>I've locked down all but the most interesting cell, B1: the number of PCs in a party. Adjusting that cell updates the equations across the entire sheet (bar Xanathar's) which in turn updates the graphs on the far right.</p> <p>While not exact and worked out primarily through trial and error, the fractions I set out for party level roughly keep pace with the DMG figures, becoming more deadly the greater number of PCs and less so with fewer.</p> <p>I added the "half CR for levels 1-4" rule when I noted they were simply too deadly and it keeps the maths simple though does drop the lethality a fair amount.</p> <p>Here are the graphs for a four person party:</p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-LHE.png" alt="lukearl&#039;s guidelines" /></p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-DMG.png" alt="DMG guidelines" /></p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-XGE.png" alt="XGE guidelines" /></p> <p><img src="/assets/2018/encounter_building-SLY.png" alt="Sly Flourish&#039;s guidelines" /></p> <p>They all match up reasonably well but of course this is all reliant on my having got the right numbers in all the right places in the first place. Feel free to <a href="http://twitter.com/pengnu">correct me</a> as necessary! I don't think I got Sly's correct as they go a bit strange the greater the number of PCs.</p> <p>Oddly, my 8 monsters calculation more closely resembles the lethality of Xanathar's which is more deadly than the DMG so it probably doesn't matter and as Mike Shea <a href="http://slyflourish.com/5e_encounter_building.html">points out</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>[...] all systems to determine the difficulty of an encounter in 5e will lack precision.</p> </blockquote> <p>A friend at a recent game told me his rule is "CR at roughly half the player's level should be alright" which probably works out fine because when you come down to it, your players are bound to try and befriend the Catoblepas that you pit them against anyway before sending it off to destroy the northern Moonshae isles.</p> <p>Same game. Same friend.</p> <p><span id="asterisk">&ast;</a> Retrospectively asking for permission after adding it to DMs Guild without thinking was embarrassingly awkward</p> Sun, 08 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-encounters-cr-budgets https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-encounters-cr-budgets Session Zero <p>Way back in 2015 I ran my first session of D&amp;D as a Session Zero and my notes went something a little like this:</p> <h2>Introduction (15')</h2> <ol> <li>Table etiquette &amp; content to avoid</li> <li>Smoking breaks, booze, food, &amp;c.</li> <li>DM expectations (narrative combat, world building, no fudged dice rolls)</li> <li>Any other business</li> </ol> <h2>Character Creation (190')</h2> <ol start="5"> <li>Chose race &amp; class</li> <li>Rolled for proficiencies (3 best out of 4d6 x5)</li> <li>Recorded class features and proficiencies<ol> <li>NB: Those last two we started the other way around but switched half way through</li> </ol> </li> <li>Ran through character background (alignment, ideals, bonds, flaws)</li> <li>Name, height, weight</li> <li>Chose weapons and equipment from class (warned about (the not exactly strict) weight limits)</li> <li>Rolled for gold (Xd10)</li> <li>Brought extra equipment and provisions</li> <li>Added any trinkets</li> <li>Party Back Story Role Play/Prologue (30') - we decided to start in the tavern that one PC's family owned and were met by a secretive stranger that handed them a quest and sent them to meet Gundren to start Lost Mines of Phandelver</li> <li>Wind Down (20')</li> <li>Next game date</li> <li>General chat</li> </ol> <p>We're now four years on and the party are still going strong...</p> Sat, 20 Apr 2019 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-session-zero https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-session-zero D&amp;D Simple Creature Loot <p>This is the last of this run of articles on the new tables that I made for my latest DM screen but it's actually the first thing that I started tampering around last August: treasure you might find on a slain monster.</p> <p>I already tried to simplify the tables found on DMG136 (see <a href="/gaming/dungeon-master-tables">Dungeon Master Tables (and Tall Tales)</a>) but felt the mechanics could be simplified too by reducing the number of die rolls required just to get to a value of an individual creature's personal wealth.</p> <p>The second part, the type of loot, came from my in-game experience of trying to think of something the recently deceased NPCs had of value; repetitive coin pouches were just, well, repetitive.</p> <table> <thead> <tr> <th>CR</th> <th>3d6</th> <th>on a double or triple 1-3</th> <th>on a double or triple 4-5</th> <th>on a double or triple 6</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>0-4</td> <td>CP</td> <td>EP +1d6 GP</td> <td>+1d6 GP</td> <td>+1d6 PP</td> </tr> <tr> <td>5-10</td> <td>EP x10</td> <td>+3d6 PP</td> <td>+1d6 PP</td> <td>PP +3d6 PP</td> </tr> <tr> <td>11-16</td> <td>PP x10</td> <td>PP x10</td> <td>PP x4</td> <td>PP x3</td> </tr> <tr> <td>17+</td> <td>PP x100</td> <td>PP x50</td> <td>PP x40</td> <td>PP x30</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <table> <thead> <tr> <th>Mundane loot</th> <th>(3d6)</th> <th>Fancy items (on a double or triple)</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>Coin</td> <td>1</td> <td>Jewellery</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Gems</td> <td>2</td> <td>Furniture</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Supplies</td> <td>3</td> <td>Tools</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Food</td> <td>4</td> <td>Musical instrument</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Drink</td> <td>5</td> <td>Perfume or spices</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Art</td> <td>6</td> <td>Cloth or clothes</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>The Method</h2> <p><img src="/assets/2018/creature_treasure-notes.jpg" alt="Scrappy notes and a hand drawn graph" /></p> <p>I started by dissecting the DMG rules in my notebook, normalising the values to a gold (GP) standard, then plotting those against the probability of values coming up based on the 1d00 roll.</p> <p>Following that I looked up the probabilities for various die rolls on <a href="http://anydice.com/">anydice.com</a> and settled on 3d6 as giving a reasonable amount of variance.</p> <p>Finally, I used the probability of doubles or trebles occurring to generate similar curves to those in the DMG.</p> <p>I don't recall exactly how I figured those out but I suspect I probably just Googled and grabbed the first answer that looked right. For the purposes of post, I did a bit of digging around for one that explained how to get to the numbers; here's a good one, <a href="http://ekted.blogspot.com/2006/10/probability-for-dummies.html">Probability for Dummies</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>What is the probability of rolling doubles (not triples) on 3d6? This one is tricky. Let's break it down by first examining case one: the first two rolls match and third does not. The first roll can be anything (probability 1). The second roll must match the first (probability 1/6). The third roll must not match (probability 5/6, do you see this?). So to total probability for case one is 1 <em> 1/6 </em> 5/6 = 5/36.</p> </blockquote> <p>Mr. Ekted then goes on to outline the remaining two possible outcomes and adds all three together to get a final probability.</p> <p>For these purposes, I ended up with (rounding where appropriate):</p> <ul> <li>No doubles or trebles (one case): <strong>56%</strong><ul> <li>1 &times; 5/6 &times; 2/3 = 10/18</li> </ul> </li> <li>Any double or treble: <strong>44%</strong><ul> <li>1st two rolls match: 1 &times; 1/6 &times; 5/6 = 5/36</li> <li>1st and 3rd match : 1 &times; 5/6 &times; 1/6 = 5/36</li> <li>2nd and 3rd match: 1 &times; 5/6 &times; 1/6 = 5/36</li> <li>all three match: 1 &times; 1/6 &times; 1/6 = 1/36</li> <li>Total: 5/36 + 5/36 + 5/36 + 1/36 = 16/36</li> </ul> </li> <li>Three doubles or trebles, eg. 1, 2, or 3: <strong>22%</strong><ul> <li>Half the total of all doubles and trebles</li> </ul> </li> <li>Two doubles or trebles, eg. 4 or 5: <strong>11%</strong><ul> <li>Two thirds of that half</li> </ul> </li> <li>One double or treble, eg. 6: <strong>6%</strong><ul> <li>Half that figure again</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>The notebook notes were a bit rough around the edges so I threw the numbers into <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11c-VrJyPX2wfrj_JFikI-BcEjhkMhk_kvK8lu8iXVag/">another lovely spreadsheet</a>...</p> <p><a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11c-VrJyPX2wfrj_JFikI-BcEjhkMhk_kvK8lu8iXVag"><img src="/assets/2018/creature_treasure-spreadsheet.png" alt="The updated spreadsheet" /></a></p> <p>Of course it turned out the table I'd created by hand didn't follow the DMG curves as well as I thought they had (damn spreadsheets with their accurate graphing capabilities) so I reworked it slightly with a Mark #2 version (pictured) and tried to line the curves as close as reasonable.</p> <h2>The Loot</h2> <p>While there's still a little variance between my table and the DMG's (remember, I've only been looking at the mean values here), the majority of rolls require just 3d6 - no more 1d00 then checking the table for an indeterminate number of d6s!</p> <p>A downside is that CR11 creatures and greater are far more likely to have platinum pieces about their person but you can always use the coin conversion rate to mix it up a bit...</p> <blockquote> <p>100 CP = 10 SP = 5 EP = 1 GP = 1/10 PP</p> </blockquote> <p>Finally, the loot type table. Reusing the same 3d6 roll appealed so to allow a DM to take their three dice and check the numbers directly against the left side for mundane items, or if on a double or treble, against the right side for something a little more exotic.</p> <p>None of my players have found an Ettin with a bureau yet but surely it's just a matter of time...</p> <p><em>NB: This is an updated version of yesterday's article after I played around a little more with the numbers. (22 July 2018)</em></p> Sat, 21 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-simple-creature-loot https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dnd-5e-simple-creature-loot Dungeon Master Tables (and Tall Tales) <p>Two years ago I decided I wanted to play <a href="http://dnd.wizards.com/">Dungeons &amp; Dragons</a> so I went a'questing (ie. looked on <a href="http://meetup.com/basingstoke-rpg">Meetup</a>) and found a Merrie Bande of Adventurers&trade; (fellow nerds) in need of a Merrie Adventure&reg; and ended up being the one forced (at my choosing) into the role of dungeon master.</p> <p>Now, every dungeon master must decide whether they want to hide behind a physical barrier (a <a href="http://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop-games/rpg-products/dungeon-masters-screen">DM screen</a>), commonly in order to cheat fate (fudge their dice rolls), or to not give a monkeys and roll in the open. </p> <p>I chose the latter but still wanted a quick reference guide to rules so made a small, upright, 12*6" screen that could hold index cards and add a bit ambience to the table.</p> <p><img src="/assets/img/2017/06/ello-optimized-9f60f574.jpg" alt="DM screen" /></p> <p>There were a few examples already out there (see exhibits <a href="https://olddungeonmaster.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/5e-homemade-dm-screen/">A</a>, <a href="https://reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2j5qlg/final_version_of_my_5e_dm_screenplayer_cheat_sheet/">B</a>, <a href="http://mojobob.com/roleplay/dnd5e/Fitz%27s%205e%20DM%20Screen.pdf">C</a>, <a href="https://m.imgur.com/a/IXjjg">D</a>, and <a href="http://swshinn.com/dnd-5e/rules-summary/">E</a>) so I took those as a starting point (seriously, there's so much to learn to play D&amp;D) and made my own.</p> <p>Five versions and two years later I thought I'd share the most useful one I've been using before I go off and redraw it again.</p> <p><img src="/assets/img/2017/06/DM-Screen.Stat-Blocks.160705.jpg" alt="DM screen tables" /> Available as a <a href="http://www.dmsguild.com/product/219768/DM-Screen">free download on dmsguild.com</a></p> <p>Page one deals with PCs; page two, their environment; page three covers encounters; and four is dedicated to weapons and armour.</p> <p>The table breakdown is as follows:</p> <h2>Page 1 - PCs</h2> <ul> <li>Abilities</li> <li>XP</li> <li>Vision and light</li> <li>Tracking</li> <li>Jumping</li> <li>Rest</li> <li>Exhaustion</li> <li>Travel times</li> <li>Suffocation</li> <li>Conditionsn</li> </ul> <h2>Page 2 - Environment and money</h2> <ul> <li>Light sources</li> <li>Weather</li> <li>Magic items</li> <li>Lifestyle &amp; expenses</li> <li>Services</li> <li>Selling magic items</li> <li>Creature treasure</li> <li>Object stats</li> </ul> <h2>Page 3 - Encounters</h2> <ul> <li>NPC attitudes</li> <li>Attack modifiers</li> <li>Cover</li> <li>Underwater</li> <li>Magical attacks</li> <li>Mob attacks</li> <li>Encounter building guidelines (based on Slyflourish's <a href="http://www.dmsguild.com/slyflourish.com/5e_encounter_building.html">Building Encounters in 5th Edition</a> article)</li> <li>Random encounter, generic</li> <li>Healing</li> </ul> <h2>Page 4 - Weaponry</h2> <ul> <li>Weapons</li> <li>Armour</li> </ul> <p>The unusual size (6*12") is down to my unusual screen (pictured).</p> <p>Hope you, assumed new DM, find it useful.</p> <p>Enjoy.</p> <p>(Enjoy).</p> Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 +0000 https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dungeon-master-tables https://lukearl.com/blog/gaming/dungeon-master-tables