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Fall Damage: the anticlimactic way to end a campaign. See you guys in the reboot!

Starfall, Page 9

STARFALL PART 2, PAGE 8

Opportunity Attacks revisited

Opportunity attacks in 5e, in my humble opinion, make combat boring. Disengaging to avoid an Attack of Opportunity (AoO) sacrifices your own action but leaves the enemy’s in-tact, making it one of the worst trades in the game. While the mechanic can create tense...

Starfall Part 2, Page 7

Super Quick Combat Rules

Quick preamble: this is probably system agnostic on some level, but I designed it for 5e. 5e’s design assumes you’re having probably way, way more combat encounters than you actually are, and that you’re playing long enough and quickly enough to resolve those...

Free VTT Tokens

I have created a repository of about 1200 VTT tokens that you guys can use for free. If you don't want to read more, you can just go to this link and grab them: https://www.patreon.com/posts/54992126 Why Tokens? I like them. During 2020, all of my D&D came to a...

Pathfinder 2e on Foundry vtt

I am a huge fan of Foundry VTT. For my purposes, it is the perfect virtual tabletop system. It supports a ton of systems, including the two that I love the best, namely Dungeons & Dragons 5e (DD5E) and Pathfinder 2e (PF2E). A massive part of the appeal of a VTT...

Starfall Part 2, Page 6

oversized weapons

Okay, so we did an info-graphic this week. We like the idea of building a 5e character around over-sized weapons, but the oversized weapons rules in this edition of D&D are helter-skelter at best.This is not about game balance. At all. This is about throwing...

A One Shot

Hey guys, I am working on a major website overhaul, and then it'll be back into Starfall. In the meantime, have a golden oldie from the Patreon archive.

Better Know a Monster: The Mimic

I love the idea that mimics are cryptids to the rest of the world. Adventurers, at least with the players I've known, would be almost universally unpopular -- even when they save the world, they do it out of eyeshot of everyone else, and burn a lot of bridges to get...

The Hobgoblin (and you!)

It's been a hot minute since our last update because I've been dealing with a very sick pet rabbit, and it's leaving me absolutely drained. - This comic arose somewhat naturally out of my Red Hand of Doom group (retooled for 5e). Hobgoblins in 3.5 are just kind of...

The Trade – Page 5 (End)

To celebrate the release of Ricky's Guide to Spooptopia, we did a mini-arc about that setting's most infamous villain. We had fun making this, and it's based on, perhaps, the most dramatic character death I've ever had at a table. I always sub Candor and the gang out...

The Trade – Page 4

The Trade – Page 3

The Trade – Page 2

The Trade – Page 1

Sketches

Starfall Part 2 – Murderlude

We cut quickly to Keelie, doin' her thing.

Get you that Fauci Ouchie

Seriously, y'all, I miss real dice. Get the vaccine. I got super lucky; I am on my first shot and get my second one in a few days. I'm working at the geological survey right now, and someone basically dropped from the rafters and jabbed my arm. (Well, it was more like...

Star(fall Damage) #40

by | Nov 16, 2020 | Comics, Starfall | 0 comments

I want to add to this my “Three Step” rule, because I tend to have the environment have the occasionally lethal challenge in it. (I say “my,” but I’ve been playing this game for ages and consuming content on how to DM it for just as long; I almost certainly read or heard this somewhere else, but the original source is far receded into the fog of time for me.)

The three step rule is easy. In it, players fail three times to reach the really bad consequences, but succeed once to proceed. I don’t use it for everything – just where the stakes are much, much higher than normal. I do it for two reasons — it mitigates “save or suck” mechanics, like turning to stone, but it also ramps up the excitement of tense moments.

For example, suppose an ogre shoves a rogue over the edge of a cliff. Suddenly we’re making dex saving throws, but those dex saving throws are really death saves in disguise, because I know, as the DM, that the fall is too high to reasonably survive.

Our rogue fails the first dex save. He falls over the edge of the cliff and the ogre laughs. But! He was just quick enough and just wily enough to grab out to the cliff’s edge with one hand. (For the best effect, ask the player if they have a reaction. They tend to do their best thinking when their entire character sheet is on the line.)

He’s now prone, mechanically speaking, but the way we’re expressing in the game narrative is that he’s hanging onto the edge of the cliff by one hand. He can make a new dex save at the start of his turn. If he succeeds, he pulls himself up. If he fails, his hand slips and (for example) he lands painfully on a small outcropping of unstable rock. He’s one check away from getting himself out of the situation, but also one failed save away from taking all that gygaxian fall damage. In the meantime, the ogre and the rest of the party are doing stuff — possibly saving him or dropping rocks on his head.

However the next bit plays out, it’s far more memorable than simply vanishing over the edge of a cliff and splatting on the rocks below, and the death (if it happens) feels more fair, even though you actually stacked the deck in the players’ favor.

You can use this in a lot of places, and can use it to create consequences with more gradation in them than life or death. Failed stealth check that seems like the only outcome would be to wake up a dragon? The player’s character crunches the rocks and the dragon stirs to yawn — repeat the check. Fail again? The dragon starts looking around suspiciously. What do you do? Fail a third time? Initiative! Save? The dragon is awake and alert now, but doesn’t see you.

So next time you’re dealing with a save or suck mechanic, consider dividing it into three saves next time. Three saves to fail, one check to recover.