Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beware the Bat!

The second session of my boyfriend's Mayan/Aztec/Ghost Conquistador dungeon ended poorly for my characters. But not for the bat.

We were using Google Voice Chat, since it's summer break and we live in different parts of the state, and aside from a few technical problems that aspect of it worked fairly well. It's not as immersive as text chat, and I could see it quickly getting very confusing with more than two people, but particularly when the DM needs the occasional explanation of what dice to use for an attack roll, it's nice to have the speed of voice.

The game served as a lesson, and a good one for a new DM to learn: it's the players responsibility to get out of dodge when danger threatens, but it's also important for the DM to understand and telegraph that danger. He didn't quite realize how tough the monster was, and so he described it in ways that made it sound less fearsome than it was; much smaller than it should have been, for one. But at the same time, I was knowlingly flirting with danger: I had one PC and a henchmen going up against what I thought was a CL 3 or 4 critter. So I'm not annoyed about it (all my protestations and threats to the contrary), it's just a good lesson. For both of us.


  1. The DM can telegraph, but I think that for my game, it's not always the correct thing to do. If there's not really any clues to be had, then forcing a telegraph isn't right for my players - their characters aren't necessarily always going to have clues that this is a Big Bad Thing.

  2. True, and maybe telegraph is too strong a word. I don't mean going out of one's way to let the players know what's up, just accurately describing things and letting them make decisions about that.

    The point I'm really getting at here is, yes, the players have a responsibility to gauge the danger level around them. But the DM has a similar responsibility to give them enough information with which to gauge that danger -- even if occasionally there's something arbitrarily fearsome, to hammer home that the game world is a dangerous place.

  3. Yeh, if he misdescribed the critter that alone can be misleading enough. (I've had that issue crop up myself.)

    Leading the PCs/players by the hand is a Bad Thing -- but accurately portraying danger, when the danger could reasonably be identified, is the DM's responsibility.

  4. Whoops.

    To be fair it's all part of the learning process; though sometimes it is quite funny to screw your party over
    with something deceptive
    it's generally not as well recieved when you slaughter the whole party.

    But he'll learn and that's the whole point I guess.

  5. 8 HD Giant Bat? O_O

    You might want to check with GP that he doesn't have 'bat' and 'wyvern' slightly confused.

    That said, the old Greyhawk "Scarlet Brotherhood" sourcebook had some wicked hardcore for their HD Atzec-ish bat demons in it...

    PS: pwned by Taichara in a hang-glider. That's one for the record books. ;)