I Hit It With My Axe: Episode 33: The Dogs of War

Episode 33: The Dogs of War

The fur flies as the party unleashes the dogs of war against the gnolls.

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CAPTAIN CANUCK!!!

It's cool, I'm from Wisconsin. It's like Canada but without the healthcare or the French.

The captain canuck shirt is fantastic!
and i agree it would be weird looking like a tourist in your hometown.
my brother has known the hate of the Quebecquois and province wise we are like neighbours! really really hateful neighbours.

"I don't hate you... I just represent people who do hate you." lol

Please tell me her War Dogs are Chihuahuas.

Zak... "I don't hate you, but I represent people who hate you" is probably the best phrase I've heard in a long while. Awesome.

"So I'm going to WA-BAH and just like..BAAH!....BAAH!! That made me laugh. Infact I laughed through the whole thing. Everybody was on top form in todays episode. Nice one gang!

Holy shit, Mandy is from Montreal? That's a nice surprise. :3

Mumorpuger:
Zak... "I don't hate you, but I represent people who hate you" is probably the best phrase I've heard in a long while. Awesome.

Agreed, I laughed out loud at that one.

Pets/Minions are so useful! I think I'll buy a bunch of dogs in the next game I play. Thank you, Kimberly. :)

Oh my goodness! Mandy has such cute knees! Of course only one knee is showing so not sure about the other, but the one that's showing is soooo cute!!! :)

And she has a cute knose, cute hair and well pretty much everything now that I think about it :) but the knee is particularly pretty darn cute :)

Everyone one is pretty darn cute, even Zak especialy when he makes up those dreams!:)

Poor puppies. I suggest next time in buying war elephants. More hit points.

Wow! That was an intense installment! What will be next?

Zak...you are the bomb. That's it about that.

Trooper6 MVP for this episode? KK, no doubt. Raging and attacking a gnoll with her dying war dog? The look on her face? Great RPing there.

Once again, another very cool session segment. I have to say, Zak, that by watching you I'm getting a good idea of how a good DM should run a game. I've only dabbled in D&D over the course of my life: I played one or two 1st ed. games, got familiar with 2nd ed. when TSR used it for their Buck Rogers: Century XXVc game, and played one or two brief games using the 3.5 rules. However, with Wizards of the Coast's relaunching of Gamma World, I'm looking to get into that big time with DM'ing and starting some campaigns. So as someone looking to stick his toe in the water of DM'ing, I find myself watching this show and your own style for pointers.

BTW, what's your opinion of the new Gamma World? I don't know if you've had time to check it out since it only came out last week. I bought it and looked over the rulebook, and it seems to me both very cool and accessible. It's based off of the 4th ed. rules, though. So I don't know how you feel about that.

One last bit: even though Frankie is gone and she'll be sorely missed, I vote Bobbi to be a permanent player! Not only is she beautiful, but she's smart, she seems to have a very good feel for the game and how to play it, and it looks like she fits in very well with the rest of the group. I should also hasten to add that I've never heard of her, Kimberly or Mandy before I started watching this show. So I know them more as being D&D players than anything else.

I liked the bit with the cameraman. Must be hard for someone to be around D&D all the time and not able to participate. Frustrating.

Those poor, poor dogs*.

*In my CoC game yesterday one of my players bought a small dog to experiment on. It barfed up all it's organs and became zombified. What is it with player characters and violence against dogs?

Ian S:

BTW, what's your opinion of the new Gamma World?...It's based off of the 4th ed. rules, though. So I don't know how you feel about that.

I haven't seen the new Gamma World but I use elements from the old one in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Mutant Future mash-up game that we play.

As for 4 E it looks like we'll be playing for the first time during Satine's celeb D&D charity event:
http://sexfoodandcomicbooks.com/blog/2010/10/26/dungeons-and-dragons-charity-event.html
if there's anything we like about it, we'll let you know.

Ian S:
Once again, another very cool session segment. I have to say, Zak, that by watching you I'm getting a good idea of how a good DM should run a game. I've only dabbled in D&D over the course of my life: I played one or two 1st ed. games, got familiar with 2nd ed. when TSR used it for their Buck Rogers: Century XXVc game, and played one or two brief games using the 3.5 rules. However, with Wizards of the Coast's relaunching of Gamma World, I'm looking to get into that big time with DM'ing and starting some campaigns. So as someone looking to stick his toe in the water of DM'ing, I find myself watching this show and your own style for pointers.

BTW, what's your opinion of the new Gamma World? I don't know if you've had time to check it out since it only came out last week. I bought it and looked over the rulebook, and it seems to me both very cool and accessible. It's based off of the 4th ed. rules, though. So I don't know how you feel about that.

One last bit: even though Frankie is gone and she'll be sorely missed, I vote Bobbi to be a permanent player! Not only is she beautiful, but she's smart, she seems to have a very good feel for the game and how to play it, and it looks like she fits in very well with the rest of the group. I should also hasten to add that I've never heard of her, Kimberly or Mandy before I started watching this show. So I know them more as being D&D players than anything else.

Remember to do the dream sequences like Zak does.

Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK. Since you clearly don't want to use a DM screen and fudge some rolls in the parties favour I suggest using the environment to the parties favour. For example I noticed the Gnolls where dancing about on those tall outcrops, how about some dex rolls and having a few fall down with potentially lethal consequences? When Kimberly threw the half dead dog at the Gnoll it should count as a grapple because suddenly the Gnoll has an armful of dead dog to contend with.
Though to be fair sometimes I think the girls should be posing for SG they way they throw their characters into dangerous situations.

the thrown dog scen reminds me of one of my first games, when a fellow player picked up my dead goblin charicter and threw it at a hobgoblin, killing it XD

Poor KK, her dogs that she just got are no more...

Great episode over all, it just shows how sometimes random encounters that catch you off guard can have dire consequences. A true roleplaying masterpiece.

Zak Sabbath:

I haven't seen the new Gamma World but I use elements from the old one in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Mutant Future mash-up game that we play.

As for 4 E it looks like we'll be playing for the first time during Satine's celeb D&D charity event:
http://sexfoodandcomicbooks.com/blog/2010/10/26/dungeons-and-dragons-charity-event.html
if there's anything we like about it, we'll let you know.

Cool! Something tells me that you've probably got a copy of the old "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" module lying around as well, as that had some tech you could use too.

Since the new GW works with 4E, one of the cool things about it is you can conceivably migrate characters from the D&D world into GW and vice versa. When you consider that Earth in GW has been changed by alternate realities that have been jumbled with our own, this isn't as unlikely as you might think. So characters could cross over without a whole lot of tweaking. Incidentally, I've also been thinking of working-in elements from other RPs for my GW campaigns as well where possible: most notably Torg and Rifts.

The only possible issue could be the CCG component, as both mutant powers and high-tech gear are drawn from a deck and used during the combat phase. That's something that's certainly not in D&D 4E, but I'm betting a creative DM could make it work.

FarSpace:
Remember to do the dream sequences like Zak does.

Yeah. The dream sequences add flavor, don't they? I'm of the opinion that a DM's role is to be one part storyteller and one part referee. I've seen a few DMs who just go on a power trip and seem to punish players for the least little mistake or cavalierly kill them off. Needless to say, this kind of behavior tend to turn off the newbies. I always felt a good DM should be a little more helpful; offering subtle suggestions by saying things like, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Or, "Don't forget you have a _____ with you that could help." Sure that may take some of the challenge out of having the players figure it our for themselves, but I believe the main goal of the game is to keep it fun and to keep the adventure moving and to not frustrate the players too much. I'm sure others who DM would disagree with me, but that's my personal take on it.

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

Zak Sabbath:

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

Because it's no fun for anyone (particularly the audience) when the DM wears kid-gloves?

Mr Smith:

Zak Sabbath:

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

Because it's no fun for anyone (particularly the audience) when the DM wears kid-gloves?

I'm gonna completely disagree, and say I think that really depends on who you have at the table. Sure, for those old-hands who learned the game during 1st/2nd ed the last thing they are gonna want is to be babied. But for players new to the game or those who are really into the RP aspects of D&D, losing a character could completely turn them off the game. Some of the people I've played with put a ton of thought into writing compelling back stories to their characters, which I in turn start building sub-plots and side quests out of. Having to re-roll means throwing all of that work and starting from scratch. Some people might be able to deal with it, but I think you gotta read em carefully.

And as the DM it totally sucks if you have a lengthy adventure planned out and half the party eats it to some random encounter. Like if I have a huge dungeon crawl planned out and someone eats it on the second encounter, the party pretty much has to retreat and regroup. It would be awesome if that happened during the climactic final encounter, but it sorta wrecks the flow if it happens too soon. There are only so many forks I can write, and only so much improv I can do to adapt to what happens to the party.

That being said, 4e is super super lenient when it comes to death. Way too lenient.

GutsKid:

Mr Smith:

Zak Sabbath:

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

Because it's no fun for anyone (particularly the audience) when the DM wears kid-gloves?

a lot of stuff

True true, but in this case, we're only talking about my players. And they like a challenge and come back from death smarter and eager for revenge, and that's all we need to say.

Zak Sabbath:

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

I'll take a shot at answering it if that's ok.

One of the easiest ways to get a player to really invest in their character is to have them feel that their character is in danger and that the possibility of death is present in any encounter, not just the big ones. Without noticing it, they'll start caring about their well being and wanting to give it their all to survive any given situation. The best part is that this then starts the player thinking harder about how to beat those gnolls, or what they need to buy in the next town so they're better prepared for next time. I for instance always ensure my characters carry a flask of oil or two just in case I meet trolls. Because of this the player is actually more engaged in the game and while the loss of their character will be upsetting, it should spur them on to try again and improve.

Now if those big scary gnolls suddenly start doing a Laurel and Hardy sketch all of that lovely immersion that is selling the scenario gets lost, before you know it the players can just start charging in to things without any strategy safe in the knowledge that "hey it's only a random encounter, nothing can really happen to us".

It's the ability to tug at the players emotions that really helps get them engaged with the game and make it the roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that make people want to come back for more. I do sort of agree that in an ideal world the players should scrape through the encounter within an inch of their lives, but they should do it because of their own actions, not because of DM machinations. Let the dice fall where they may, even if they rolled under the sofa and you got snake-eyes.

Zak Sabbath:

Zergonapal:
Zak, Zak, if your players start sucking you need the monsters to suck equally hard or a random encounter that is supposed to be a simple challenge will turn into a TPK.

Does anyone want to explain to this gentleposter the several thousand things wrong with this or do I have to do it myself?

Here's my go at it.

But first let me contextualize myself. I've been playing and running games since 1984. Like most people back then, I started with D&D. But I quickly found Call of Cthulhu and nowadays I run GURPS almost exclusively (though I'll play a variety of things). GURPS character creation tends to result in detailed characters. My games are heavily focused on character development and RP. Players will spend hours and hours developing their characters. I generally do not use cinematic options in my games...which means combat is pretty deadly. And I never fudge.

Different GMs have different play styles. While I don't completely subscribe to it, The Forge divides up gamers into three types: Gamists, Narrativists, and Simulationists. Gamists focusing on the Game aspect of it: Resource Management, rules...people often think of D&D as a typical Gamist Game (think about the class/level system, the ways in which you had be plan out your character in gamist ways if you wanted this or that prestige class). Narrativists focus on doing what is best for the story, which might involve fudging so that players don't die at the hands of low-level NPCs...or making sure that someone dies at the dramatic ending. A number of the "indie" games out nowadays like Dogs in the Vinyard and often called Narrativist games. Simulationists create a game world and then try to emulate what would really happen in that world. Which means, for example, you could die unheroically if that is what would happen. But also, that the players are free to not follow the plot if they don't want to. GURPS is often considered a Simulationist game.

If using the GNS model, I am a simulationist. Fudging to keep players alive totally breaks my suspension of disbelief. It breaks the simulation. And it would really tick off my players. My players know that any combat is potentially deadly. They know there are consequences for every action. They know that the characters they are very invested in could very easily die...or be maimed. So, if they choose to enter into combat (which I also don't force on them), then they know they are really risking something. So my players are really good at talking their way out of combat, or manipulating the environment to their advantage. The tension any time the dice come out is amazing. That tension wouldn't be there if they knew some combats were less important than others. Every time you decide to get involved in combat with deadly force should be important...if playing in the sorts of games I tend to run (if I were to run a game with a different feel...perhaps a 1930s Pulp Cliffhangers sort of thing, I'd want a different feel. I still wouldn't fudge die rolls, but I'd make sure the players had the Luck Advantage and access to cinematic advantages that allowed them to turn the tables when they needed to).

Or...to be much shorter about the whole thing...and put it into a concrete example.

Set Up: Let's call it a gritty 1940s Noir game with the players being detectives and PC connected to the detective agency. So maybe we have 2 detectives, a secretary, and an investigative reporter. The detective and the secretary are walking down the street on their way to meet the other detective and the reporter at a bar to discuss their current case.

While walking they see an orphanage on fire with orphans trapped inside. What do they do?

In a fudging game they rush in and save all the orphans. Probably with little thought, because they know they aren't going to die saving some orphans. Either because they have a lot more hit points than fire normally does (gamist) or because they know this is not a dramatic plot moment (narrativist). So they save the orphans and are hailed as heroes. But are they really? For others yes. For me? No. If there really were no danger to their PCs...then it really isn't heroism.

In a non-fudging game, especially one without lots of cinematic rules (or one with maiming rules, etc)...the PCs are really going to have to decide if they really want to rush in there. Because if they do...they could very well die...or lose levels of attractiveness due to horrible burn scars, or get a broken leg...who knows what? So, knowing this...do they now run in? Maybe the detective decides he wants to knock on a house, use a phone and call the fire department. This leaves the secretary by herself. What does she do? The orphans are screaming?

As a GM...I don't know what she'll do. She may do nothing. Or she may decide to go in...really risking her PC's life. And maybe rather than just rushing in, she decides to take some precautions before she plunges in. Or maybe she has a dramatic moment with her detective boyfriend first before she plunges is. Then she runs in, with a handkerchief around her face. The detective waits outside, to afraid to face the inferno. What happens next? As a GM, I don't know...we see what plans the PC comes up with and what the dice say. But when all is said and done, if the PC saves some/all of those orphans...she will be a real hero....because she faced real risk. And the detective? Well, he's going to have to live with his choice as well.

My sort of game is not for everyone. But for the sort of game I run, fudging would ruin everything that we're doing.

Blimey trooper, and I thought my post was a little bit long! A lot of interesting stuff in there and I hadn't really run in to the cinematic stuff particularly before.

For my part I started roleplaying back in college in the early 90s and continued on through university and beyond. I started off with D&D, Cyberpunk and Battletech, then swiftly moved on to just about anything people would let me play. I've DM'd D&D, Star Wars, Deadlands (my favourite) and I've been meaning to run Nephilim but have never had the chance and the rules look rather involved.

At the moment my group consists of a couple of players who have dabbled in the past (my wife and my best friend) and two beginners (his wife and his son), although due to time constraints our RP evening has turned in to a DVD evening but I might start the ball rolling again at some point.

I do think it depends a lot on the group that your playing with as to what style best suits, after all we do this to have fun with friends. Zak's group loves the challenge that no holds barred D&D brings (makes it sound like some kind of cage match hehe), Trooper's party enjoys a high realism and quite gritty sounding experience, my motley crew love the emotional roller-coaster that I was on about earlier.

Please note that I'm not saying a game where the training wheels are on is bad, if that's what your party needs and wants then go for it, but I believe it should be a concious decision by the DM rather than a hard and fast rule for everyone.

Good luck with your event Satine, hope it goes well!

I used to make it somewhat difficult for the characters to die (not so hard to be knocked unconscious, though), but that way I knew I could throw a lot at them and it would increase tension and drama and not just body counts, especially as I did not allow the others to know when the character would slip from unconsciousness to death.
New players always noted the pertinent house rules and scoff, saying things would be too easy, then they'd meet the angry giants with magical weapons and character levels....

It's all in the style, what sort of campaign a group has. Some want more cinematic, others more realistic. As long as people are having fun, there should be no tsk, tsking from the kibitzers.

Yay! Vivre Québécois! I've really only started watching this when Bobbi joined (coincidence) so I don't how big of a loss it was when Frankie left.
Now I'm really starting to get into it, so I'll probably go back and watch the earlier shows.

Also I never considered using corpses as weapons! I'll be sure to consider that next time I face some Gnolls...

How much damage does a dead beaver do when thrown at someone?

 

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