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    Corax

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  • The Dragon Tamer - or When did my players become awesome?



    Do you see that guy? That is a Catastrophic Dragon. This is an Adult Earthquake Dragon. It is a level 14 Elite Soldier from Monster Manual 3. It exists for the purpose of being absolutely badass, and being incredibly effective at the role of Soldier. It has an Aura that will grow from 1, to 3, to 5 over the rounds. If you make an attack in this aura that does not include the Dragon, you take 10 damage and fall prone. When this aura is at 5 at the start of its turn, it gets a free attack against all enemies in the aura. It does not have time to listen to what you have to say.




    Do you see this? This is even more badass than the last dragon. This is an Adult Volcanic Dragon. It is a level 15 Elite Brute from Monster Manual 3. It exists for the purpose of hurting PCs a lot. It has an aura that follows similar growth mechanics, but enemies that end their turn in the aura take 5 damage. This means that just engaging it in melee combat is going to guarantee you get hurt every turn. When the aura gets 5, and its turn starts it gets an awesome attack against all enemies in the aura. When it hits you with its claws, it shuts down any fire resistance you have. When it bites you, it sets you on fire.




    See this guy? His name is Ignatian Southlight. He is a human. A ranger, specifically. His talents include stabbing things with swords, stealing everything that isn't nailed down, and taking a Rat with him everywhere he goes. He has decided that he wishes to tame the above two dragons for the purpose of riding them to a volcano which is hovering about 1000 feet above where it should be due to influence from the Elemental Chaos. The last time he tamed a wild creature, it was a Rat. That went pretty well for him, so he determined himself quite qualified to try it on dragons. He is also crunchy and tastes good with ketchup.

    So, here is how it went down.

    Shortly after combat started, Ignatian ran around to the back of the the Female Volcanic Dragon, and let the rest of the group keep her mate, the male Earthquake Dragon too busy to help. He grabbed the tail of the dragon as it swished back and forth, and used it to flip up on her back.

    Ok, that is pretty good. Dragon didn't want any part of this, and started focusing attacks on Ignatian. Every round, Ignatian had to make a check to stay on the dragon or fall off. Ignatian then took out some Enchanted Reins from AV1, which don't actually help his nature check against the Elemental Dragons, but they would be able to automatically fit themselves in the Dragon and give him something to hang onto. Why does he need something to hold onto? Because he was riding that Volcanic Dragon like a Cowboy rides a wild horse. He was trying to break the Dragon. All the while, the Dragon is clawing and biting at him. After a while, the Volcanic dragon had had just about enough. It took flight to reposition itself, and was met with a Longsword in the back. Ignatian was now hanging onto the Reins with one hand, and the hilt of his sword which was plunged into the Dragon with the other. All while the Dragon is flying around to try and finish off the Artificer who the Earthquake Dragon had nearly killed. the Paladin then turned around and used Lay on Hands to help the Artificer, who then promptly threw a needle at Ignatian, hitting him with a Healing Infusion. It's a damn good thing he did, too, because the Volcanic Dragon was just about done with this human pest. She took flight again, and this time was met with a Drow Long Knife in her back. Ignatian now had another hilt to hang onto as the Dragon flew. she flew over a large flowing river of Lava, and dove in. All the while, Ignatian was still on her back.

    Now, you'd think that total submersion in Lava would be instant death to a character, but we had established that it would simply be 20d6 damage. Ignatian was lucky enough to also have on his person an artifact he had acquired from a previous adventure, which was presently granting him resist 15 Fire. At his level, there was a chance he could survive one round under the lava. Maybe.

    Well, the rest of the group assumed him dead, and continued fighting the Earthquake Dragon. This was no time to mourn, though there was time to complain about being unable to loot his corpse. They redouble their efforts, concerned about survival, and nearly defeat the beast...

    Then it happens. Ignatian's turn rolls around, and I roll his damage. He survives with 1 HP. Under the Lava. On a Volcanic Dragon's back. With 1 more successful nature check required to successfully complete his skill challenge to tame it. It all rode on this one check. Failure would mean immolation for sure.

    The next thing the party saw, was truely magnificent. The great Volcanic Dragon burst from the river of lava, the triumphant Ignatian riding her back in a literal blaze of glory. That is not me misusing the word literal, he was very much on fire at this point, and would have surely been knocked unconscious from the damage were it not for his Fire Resistance, and the fact that the Paladin was ready to grant him a saving throw against the ongoing Fire Damage. Ignatian landed his newly conquered Dragon Mount, who called off her mate. The man was covered head to toe in ash, soot, flames, and there was even some bits of cooling lava stuck to his clothes. But he had done it. In spite of everything, he was somehow successful. With a mere 1 hit point remaining, he did it.

    So I say, in complete bafflement: When did my players become awesome?
    This article was originally published in blog: The Dragon Tamer - or "When did my players become awesome?" started by Teksura
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Lowthor's Avatar
      Lowthor -
      That sounds fantastic. Can't wait for my games to get to the levels where that kind of thing is possible.
    1. Oludount's Avatar
      Oludount -
      That sounds awesome, but stupidly impossible. It's a bit like a mouse taming a human (made out of lava) by sticking needles in his shoulders. The mouse somehow surviving being seated in fire, and being dunked in molten rock, which is buyable for a fantasy game. But tame the dragon? How in the world does that work? Dragons are intelligent, and vastly more powerful than a single ranger. He didn't even use magic.
      "You have stuck needles in my shoulders for 15 seconds, and are currently immersed in lava, but I guess I'll obey you. Not that I know what your commands are because you're currently waarglgarbling lava."
    1. Teksura's Avatar
      Teksura -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oludount View Post
      That sounds awesome, but stupidly impossible. It's a bit like a mouse taming a human (made out of lava) by sticking needles in his shoulders. The mouse somehow surviving being seated in fire, and being dunked in molten rock, which is buyable for a fantasy game. But tame the dragon? How in the world does that work? Dragons are intelligent, and vastly more powerful than a single ranger. He didn't even use magic.
      "You have stuck needles in my shoulders for 15 seconds, and are currently immersed in lava, but I guess I'll obey you. Not that I know what your commands are because you're currently waarglgarbling lava."
      Sticking entirely to explanations from source books from Wizards on this one - Totally within believability. Draconomicon 2 - Metallic Dragons gives details on the hows and whys behind a dragon giving up at this stage. They call it a subdual encounter and it can be found on page 49. It is not unheard of for a dragon to give up when they become bloodied. At the end of the fight, the Earthquake Dragon would have been slain if it had continued fighting 1 more round, and the Volcanic Dragon was well below Bloodied. While it is true that the pair of Dragons could have killed 1, perhaps 2 members of the party if they fought to the death, it would have also resulted in the deaths of themselves, which no dragon really wants. Giving up and helping the humans who have proven themselves to not be pushovers and probably could kill you is exactly what an intelligent dragon would do.


      Also, I think your sense of scale is a little off. A 3 foot longsword into the back of a 10 foot dragon is hardly a needle. Rather than a mouse with a needle, try thinking of a rabbit with a switchblade. A couple stabs with that and yes, a human will surrender their wallet to the bunny.
    1. Oludount's Avatar
      Oludount -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teksura View Post
      Sticking entirely to explanations from source books from Wizards on this one - Totally within believability. Draconomicon 2 - Metallic Dragons gives details on the hows and whys behind a dragon giving up at this stage. They call it a subdual encounter and it can be found on page 49. It is not unheard of for a dragon to give up when they become bloodied. At the end of the fight, the Earthquake Dragon would have been slain if it had continued fighting 1 more round, and the Volcanic Dragon was well below Bloodied. While it is true that the pair of Dragons could have killed 1, perhaps 2 members of the party if they fought to the death, it would have also resulted in the deaths of themselves, which no dragon really wants. Giving up and helping the humans who have proven themselves to not be pushovers and probably could kill you is exactly what an intelligent dragon would do.

      Also, I think your sense of scale is a little off. A 3 foot longsword into the back of a 10 foot dragon is hardly a needle. Rather than a mouse with a needle, try thinking of a rabbit with a switchblade. A couple stabs with that and yes, a human will surrender their wallet to the bunny.

      Or they could flee? Dragons are a good bit faster than people, and at least one of them can hide inside lava, which is beyond the party's reach.
      I'd likely run away if I couldn't kick the bunny to death. Or go in the house, if it follows me somehow, I have a breath weapon in the form of a shotgun.
      Of course, I may be biased. I tend to run more games where physics aren't bound, gagged, and locked in the basement. In which a dragon of D&D's size could pulp even a formidable human with a squeeze from its' grasp. Since I want the Party to actually have a chance, I downsize dragons.
    1. tarmaka's Avatar
      tarmaka -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teksura View Post
      Sticking entirely to explanations from source books from Wizards on this one - Totally within believability. Draconomicon 2 - Metallic Dragons gives details on the hows and whys behind a dragon giving up at this stage. They call it a subdual encounter and it can be found on page 49. It is not unheard of for a dragon to give up when they become bloodied. At the end of the fight, the Earthquake Dragon would have been slain if it had continued fighting 1 more round, and the Volcanic Dragon was well below Bloodied. While it is true that the pair of Dragons could have killed 1, perhaps 2 members of the party if they fought to the death, it would have also resulted in the deaths of themselves, which no dragon really wants. Giving up and helping the humans who have proven themselves to not be pushovers and probably could kill you is exactly what an intelligent dragon would do.


      Also, I think your sense of scale is a little off. A 3 foot longsword into the back of a 10 foot dragon is hardly a needle. Rather than a mouse with a needle, try thinking of a rabbit with a switchblade. A couple stabs with that and yes, a human will surrender their wallet to the bunny.
      I registered right after reading this comment (was going to register soon anyway) but I just had to do it right away to say the bunny thing made me choke. good stuff. the dragon taming thing was pretty awesome too... really awesome, but still bunny with a switchblade.. wallet. priceless. incedently thanks to the power of overwhelming luck and the fact these games are way more fun when you do things like this, I totaly belive it could happen . though it would also have been pretty awesome for him to die and be avenged by his party. the guy who almost tamed a dragon is almost as awesome as the guy who did. though the guy who did gets the better loot :P oh, and lives.
    1. Teksura's Avatar
      Teksura -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oludount View Post
      Or they could flee? Dragons are a good bit faster than people, and at least one of them can hide inside lava, which is beyond the party's reach.
      True. They have a higher move speed. However, abandoning their home and treasure, moving far away and establishing new territory rather than temporarily putting up with helping out some humans doesn't sound like an intelligent idea. Neither does does the idea of draconic suicide by means of lava. The Volcanic Dragon diving under the lava hurt her almost as bad as it hurt the Ignatian. Difference was the Dragon had a lot more hit points and could take it. Doing this was basically a last resort.

      Having one of the dragons kill herself, and the other Dragon flee and abandon everything they have like you suggest would not really make a whole lot of sense, and it also would suck in terms of the story-line. It would mean the entire past few sessions would have been completely pointless and non-productive. This is why once the party proved their strength, the dragons swallowed their pride and agreed to ally with for a short while so the party would leave them alone. It means that the dragons keep all of their treasure, they keep their lives, they don't have to uproot themselves and find a new place to live, and after just 1 or 2 days, they get left alone to their own business again.

      Quote Originally Posted by Oludount View Post
      Of course, I may be biased. I tend to run more games where physics aren't bound, gagged, and locked in the basement. In which a dragon of D&D's size could pulp even a formidable human with a squeeze from its' grasp. Since I want the Party to actually have a chance, I downsize dragons.
      I... Still think your sense of scale is still off. 10 feet isn't nearly as big as you seem to think it is.
    1. Timmeh's Avatar
      Timmeh -
      I'm about 5'11" and the idea of a dragon which is 8-12 feet tall (Let's assume that it can be larger than 10 feet, as Goliaths are still medium creatures and their height is above 7") isn't quite so much larger than me. Even if it's a 12 foot tall dragon, that's only from head to toes. Assuming you stuck a 3' blade into it's chest to the hilt, you'd only have another 1-3 feet more to go before that blade is coming out of it's back. I don't know what being impaled is like, but I imagine it isn't anywhere near pleasant.

      A missing part to this story: We did really bad at 1. Rolling our checks to try to persuade the dragons to join us. and 2. Roleplaying persuading the dragons to join us. 3 of us were trying 3 different things all at once, and we didn't have any plan of "Hey, what do these dragons want to hear if we want to persuade them to join us?"
    1. Oludount's Avatar
      Oludount -
      So, the volcano dragon, made partially out of lava, takes heavy damage from lava? That sort of thing is why I do so many house rules.

      And that situation is really "enslaving a dragon" not "taming a dragon", which almost makes sense, instead of having no connection to sense at all. That said, enslaving a dragon is pretty badass, though I doubt you'll have much in the way of life expectancy without using powerful enchantments (Rituals) on the dragon.
    1. Mowe's Avatar
      Mowe -
      What a awesome story. Post more of these epic adventures if you can please. happy gaming.
    1. Teksura's Avatar
      Teksura -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oludount View Post
      So, the volcano dragon, made partially out of lava, takes heavy damage from lava? That sort of thing is why I do so many house rules.
      The creature doesn't even have any fire resistance. There is a reason for this. Rather than having a boring, normal fire resistance, it has a different mechanic that causes enemies in the aura to take even more damage when the dragon is struck by fire.
      Quote Originally Posted by Oludount View Post
      And that situation is really "enslaving a dragon" not "taming a dragon", which almost makes sense, instead of having no connection to sense at all. That said, enslaving a dragon is pretty badass, though I doubt you'll have much in the way of life expectancy without using powerful enchantments (Rituals) on the dragon.
      Is your intent to be a buzzkill here or something? You have done nothing but belittle everything and then claim you would have done things better. Seriously. What gives?
    1. Kadath's Dreamer's Avatar
      Kadath's Dreamer -
      Oludount is a douche. That is all.

      Oh, and Teksura, I have to applaud your players and your campaign for something like this happening. If I were wearing a virtual hat, I'd tip it at you.
    1. GennyWAR's Avatar
      GennyWAR -
      Sounds like hella awesome. I assume it's 4E, since I didn't understand (recognize anyway, it's not that hard to figure out what they really mean) half the abilities. Very cool all around. Also, Oludount can't just enjoy an awesome story.
    1. CondorDM's Avatar
      CondorDM -
      With 1 Hp all his health is pretty much gone, wouldn't he be so damaged regardless that trying to make the action to tame the beast be impossible?.
      Also with losing that much and being harmed from lava even if he got threw with one hp, wouldn't there be some kinda save vs. death situation going on there, just for the fact he dove into lava like he was going for a swim?.

      Also how long was a round is a round in your game?, cause if you are to be realistic then even a fire dragon type is gonna take longer then a minute to move in and out of the lava like that, as you did point out, they both went fully in, just common sense that dragon will not get in and out in one round, meaning ranger should have been taking further damage.

      Regardless of my opinion, if you all had fun so be it, i admit i liked playing final fantasy but could never stick to it.
      & Truly not complaining, just purely wondering did you take those facts into consideration and how did you justify allowing things to fully go down as you explained here?
      I am all about learning.


      ("A missing part to this story: We did really bad at 1. Rolling our checks to try to persuade the dragons to join us. and 2. Roleplaying persuading the dragons to join us. 3 of us were trying 3 different things all at once, and we didn't have any plan of "Hey, what do these dragons want to hear if we want to persuade them to join us?" )

      Really?, i am not meaning to be rude but it sounds like the DM wanted this to happen...Just my opinion or so how it comes across to me.
    1. Kanlor's Avatar
      Kanlor -
      Guys the point of the game is to have fun, not to spend hours reading every single rule to find out exactly what happens. DnD is a game where the DM goes outside the rules to make the experience more fun for the players, not a 7 hour grindfest of reading about how many times you have to roll a d20 before you can tally a few numbers.

      By the way, that was great, that ranger deserves like a +5 hat made of awesome. =D

      Also, its a 10ft dragon, so it would have to move about 20ft to go in and back, possibly an extra 10ft for the curve, so 30ft in a minute, about 1 foot per 2 seconds, thats not that hard to comprehend.
    1. CondorDM's Avatar
      CondorDM -
      Actually part of the fun is a level of realism, without it, it creates situations like this, where the challenge was simply to much for him and the DM wanted it to happen anyway and made it happen.

      More like a +5 cursed hat of what seems like awesome, this type of gaming doesn't challenge players and doesn't make them think harder, doesn't really make them think at all. Player "No matter how bad i mess this up the DM will allow me to get away with it", just knowing that has to kill some of the umph you might say. Player "Hey look how great I did", I reply "actually you messed up and the DM just let you have it", player "Oh". Later that player comes into another situation but DM now feels it is time to really challenge him but problem is player has not been pushed, he is not ready for it and DM finds himself bailing out the player again.

      What would be awesome is really getting challenged and truly coming out on top, ever see how happy, confident a player becomes after something like that, happy on a level that even this player did not achieve here. Once you had the experience of really coming threw a challenge then a situation like the one above doesn't cut it, you feel ripped off later if you have that experience after having a experience of truly over coming the odds.

      Oh going in and coming out i agree would maybe take 2 rounds(due to thickness of lava, regardless of it being fire type dragon or not they be dragging their feet you might say in the thick!!! lava), the problem is he only took damage for the one round and would have taken more coming out but he only had one hp left.....
      Also note the fact you ignored that with one HP he would be almost unable to move from injuries/blood loss, so taming be simply out of the question. So if i give you he got out in one round(truly not possible but say i give you that), now sense he could not tame the dragon due to the condition he is in, the dragon would either throw him off or something not healthy would be done to the ranger, with 1 hp he is not likely to die, he is gonna die.
      Regardless how things went the ranger messed up and the DM gave it to him anyway. If you call that fun then all the power to you, enjoy!, just not my kinda of fun...and once a player has a experience of truly over coming a challenge, then this would not be their kinda fun either. Some may come and say "Yeah we got over a real challenge and would still enjoy this", though they are most likely lying about over coming a challenge or assume they have but not realizing the truth.
      =D
    1. Kyoh's Avatar
      Kyoh -
      Good for you to post a cool story like this just for the hell of it. Thank god no one is questioning the logistics and realism of anything that involves dragons and elves, because that would be stupid...
    1. Chrisdragon's Avatar
      Chrisdragon -
      Meh, Guy got lucky and pulled off something that probably could never happen. I also would question the use of a...Nature check, was it? On an intelligent creature. The equivalent to Diplomacy or Intimidate (you still have those in 4th, right?) Would probably have been more appropriate. Still, some people just get astoundingly amazingly lucky at the most opportune times using dice that arent fixed. Still, if he tries to do something with that much bravado again, he -will- get himself killed, and probably painfully.
    1. De Ahr's Avatar
      De Ahr -
      Quote Originally Posted by CondorDM View Post
      Actually part of the fun is a level of realism, without it, it creates situations like this, where the challenge was simply to much for him and the DM wanted it to happen anyway and made it happen.

      More like a +5 cursed hat of what seems like awesome, this type of gaming doesn't challenge players and doesn't make them think harder, doesn't really make them think at all. Player "No matter how bad i mess this up the DM will allow me to get away with it", just knowing that has to kill some of the umph you might say. Player "Hey look how great I did", I reply "actually you messed up and the DM just let you have it", player "Oh". Later that player comes into another situation but DM now feels it is time to really challenge him but problem is player has not been pushed, he is not ready for it and DM finds himself bailing out the player again.

      What would be awesome is really getting challenged and truly coming out on top, ever see how happy, confident a player becomes after something like that, happy on a level that even this player did not achieve here. Once you had the experience of really coming threw a challenge then a situation like the one above doesn't cut it, you feel ripped off later if you have that experience after having a experience of truly over coming the odds.

      Oh going in and coming out i agree would maybe take 2 rounds(due to thickness of lava, regardless of it being fire type dragon or not they be dragging their feet you might say in the thick!!! lava), the problem is he only took damage for the one round and would have taken more coming out but he only had one hp left.....
      Also note the fact you ignored that with one HP he would be almost unable to move from injuries/blood loss, so taming be simply out of the question. So if i give you he got out in one round(truly not possible but say i give you that), now sense he could not tame the dragon due to the condition he is in, the dragon would either throw him off or something not healthy would be done to the ranger, with 1 hp he is not likely to die, he is gonna die.
      Regardless how things went the ranger messed up and the DM gave it to him anyway. If you call that fun then all the power to you, enjoy!, just not my kinda of fun...and once a player has a experience of truly over coming a challenge, then this would not be their kinda fun either. Some may come and say "Yeah we got over a real challenge and would still enjoy this", though they are most likely lying about over coming a challenge or assume they have but not realizing the truth.
      =D

      You're kind of a dick aren't you.
    1. Teksura's Avatar
      Teksura -
      He was banned for a reason.
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