Help me understand, please.

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Greetings to all and well met. 

I am a new DM, a "complete noob" as they say, though I have been a player with some experience and have a general grasp of the rules. Forgotten Realms is my soft spot since I was a teenager, so I have decided now that it's time to get some friends and role play our hearts out. 

After some consideration I have decided to use the 4th Edition, since the general ruling seems to be that it's more welcome to newcomers. Although my knowledge of it is small, I immediately disliked the "skill challenges" mechanic which create dice rolling instead of roleplaying (amazed how WoTC thought it was a good idea), but in general didn't find many faults with it (as I said, "noob").

My main problem, which I didn't think I would have, was tracking down 4E adventures for the Forgotten Realms. I mean, there's plenty of adventures, but most of them don't seem to take place in the FR but to some distant, weird place, that it doesn't appear in any FR map.

What is going on and why does this happen? For example, the "Slaying Stone", where does it take place? Where is the actual place in the FR? And if it's not there, why is it like this and what should I do? Should I just invent the place as part of the FR? Because that feels pretty lame to me. I mean, there's an entire map of the FR 4e, why are we forced to play in places that don't exist?

I know that there are adventures that take place in the FR but they are too few. Bear in mind that I also need a pre-published adventure because it's too early for me to create my own (rules wise). Is there any campaign length adventure for the 4e (at least 10 lvls) and, if not, why not?! Is such absence the norm?

Also, is the Neverwinter Campaign Guide considered an adventure as well? Will that (and the other core books of course) be enough to have a story of from 1-10 lvls?

I am sorry for all the question bombardment and I please forgive my total noobness (I know that the above stuff is elementary for most of you) but I don't want to be spending time and money on the wrong books.

Please help me understand,

Cheers
Have you thought of maybe going for a 3.5E game instead of 4E?
Much of the 3.5E had FR material and lore.

4E introduced the Spellplague that affected the general overall use of magic in FR.
Many personalities in FR was affected by this event.

Look into 3.5E before you go deeper into 4E.
If 3.5E is not the one, then continue to work out your 4E FR campaign. 
After some consideration I have decided to use the 4th Edition, since the general ruling seems to be that it's more welcome to newcomers. Although my knowledge of it is small, I immediately disliked the "skill challenges" mechanic which create dice rolling instead of roleplaying (amazed how WoTC thought it was a good idea), but in general didn't find many faults with it (as I said, "noob").

By the time you're less of a "noob" you'll probably have run into the problems with skill-based encounters in past editions which skill challenges successfully addressed.

All of the 4e adventures I've seen, except for some of the ones specifically set in Eberron or Athas, can be reflavored for use in the Forgotten Realms. Pick a location that you'd like them to appear in, and run it based on that location.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

My main problem, which I didn't think I would have, was tracking down 4E adventures for the Forgotten Realms. I mean, there's plenty of adventures, but most of them don't seem to take place in the FR but to some distant, weird place, that it doesn't appear in any FR map.


Living Forgotten Realms (linked) has plenty of published adventures all set in the Realms.

What is going on and why does this happen? For example, the "Slaying Stone", where does it take place? Where is the actual place in the FR? And if it's not there, why is it like this and what should I do? Should I just invent the place as part of the FR? Because that feels pretty lame to me. I mean, there's an entire map of the FR 4e, why are we forced to play in places that don't exist?


Because Slaying Stone doesn't take place in the Realms.  It's a Points of Light (aka Nerath) setting. 
You can pretty much take any adventure, though, and apply it to FR.  If you go to Dungeon 155 & 156, you'll see how they did this for Keep on the Shadowfell and Thunderspire Labyrinth.

Be aware, though, that if you use older adventures (pre-2010, I think), you should probably apply the Rules Update math for NPCs to them.

I know that there are adventures that take place in the FR but they are too few. Bear in mind that I also need a pre-published adventure because it's too early for me to create my own (rules wise). Is there any campaign length adventure for the 4e (at least 10 lvls) and, if not, why not?! Is such absence the norm?


There are a couple of Adventure Paths available which are tier and all-level encompassing.  But there's nothing wrong with improvising, either.  LFR stuff probably works best though, as it's mostly half-evel stuff which you can mix & match.

Also, is the Neverwinter Campaign Guide considered an adventure as well? Will that (and the other core books of course) be enough to have a story of from 1-10 lvls?


It will be enough to give you background information on the setting, story ideas and character hooks, and to explain how some things (Themes, in particular) work which weren't covered in other core rulebooks.
Thanks for the replies guys. 

I think I will stick with the 4e edition at the moment, mainly because it feels more streamlined to me.

But the adventures paths still seem cloudy.

LFR is not a solution for me at the moment because I can't find a proper review site for them to offer some opinion on what's good or not. Also, due to my inexperience I wouldn't easily understand if an adventure is good or not.

At the moment I am looking for something pre-made to start and add my own twists here and there to suit the characters. But I want the setting to be on Forgotten Realms, not in another place which I can re-write. I mean, why even do that in the first place? FR is one of the most detailed worlds out there, to the point of clutter (at least before the Spellplague). 

Anyways, from what I undestand there's no story in the Neverwinter Campaing, just the tools to create my own.

How is it even possible that there's still no proper FR adventures spanning all 3 tiers? What do you reccomend as the best FR campaing, that's long (at least heroic tier)? 

For example, is War of the Burning Sky worth my effort?  It is not set in the FR but is that my only option? 

Again, I'm sorry for all these questions and many thanks for taking the time to answer.  
LFR is not a solution for me at the moment because I can't find a proper review site for them to offer some opinion on what's good or not. Also, due to my inexperience I wouldn't easily understand if an adventure is good or not.


The only thing you can do is download it and look it over. 

Here's the most important thing: It's free.

Here's the second most important thing:  It's already set in the Forgotten Realms, so you only have to change those parts of the setting you don't like.

Pick an adventure of the appropriate Adventure Level — the old ones are designed to be adjustable within a 4 level range (1-4, 4-7, 7-10, and so on, for example), though once you know what you're doing you can adjust them higher or lower yourself.  The new ones are adjustable within an entire tier.

Most adventures provide enough XP for half a level, so two adventures would be one level.  But you can go faster or slower, as you wish; want to level up after every adventure?  Go for it.  Want to level up after four?  Why not?  It's all up to you.

Don't worry about whether anyone else liked it or not.  They aren't your group.  You have a better idea of what might attract your players.  Do they want lots of combat?  Do they want diplomatic intrigue?  Do they want mysteries and investigations?  Looking over the LFR adventures, you can pretty much figure out which is which and go with it.  With a review site, you'll only know what worked or didn't work for some other group, one which is not yours and may not have the same sensibilities.

But if you want a review?  Did you happen to check, when following that link, the forums section of the group, specifically the board for comments and feedbacks?  Linked here?


At the moment I am looking for something pre-made to start and add my own twists here and there to suit the characters. But I want the setting to be on Forgotten Realms, not in another place which I can re-write. I mean, why even do that in the first place? FR is one of the most detailed worlds out there, to the point of clutter (at least before the Spellplague).



Fine.  Use LFR.  Seriously, it's the only thing that fits what you want/are looking for.


Anyways, from what I undestand there's no story in the Neverwinter Campaing, just the tools to create my own.

How is it even possible that there's still no proper FR adventures spanning all 3 tiers? What do you reccomend as the best FR campaing, that's long (at least heroic tier)? 


It's possible because Wizards of the Coast never published any (well, they published Sceptre Tower of Spellgard, but that was the only one).  Whether you think it's bad business sense or not, it doesn't matter.  They didn't.  Not with the FR Campaign Guide.  Not with Neverwinter.


For example, is War of the Burning Sky worth my effort?  It is not set in the FR but is that my only option?


If you're looking for a review site, and you found War of the Burning Sky, then you probably should check that site for reviews.  ;)  Me, I'd never even heard of it until you brought it up.  However, given you want published adventures set in the Realms, and it isn't set in the Realms, it fails one test for you.  On the other hand, it's a single adventure path that covers a number of levels, so it passes that test for you.  Hopefully, you can keep your players railroaded to get all the way through it.

However, if your players are likely to go off the reservation, and a sandbox setup might work better?  Then WotBS won't work as well as other options.

But, again, its your game, your friends, and your decision.  A particular adventure might work for everyone else but you.  Or might work for absolutely nobody but you.  There's no way to know until you actually put forth the effort and look them over and use your judgment about yourself and your friends.

And if you're not sure what they may or may not like?  Then picking an adventure path that pretty much commits you to one particular storyline for a long time might not be the best thing.  Picking a library of adventures which you can mix and match, and use those things which fit your party as you get to know them better?  Might be a slightly better idea.

But it's entirely up to you.
At the moment I am looking for something pre-made to start and add my own twists here and there to suit the characters. But I want the setting to be on Forgotten Realms, not in another place which I can re-write. I mean, why even do that in the first place? FR is one of the most detailed worlds out there, to the point of clutter (at least before the Spellplague). 



On re-writing an adventure....  In most cases it doesn't involve anything more than maybe altering the place names.  Sometimes not even that - there ARE blank places on the FR map you know.
So if the original adventure takes place in (non-FR location)?  And you want it to take place "just north of (insert FR location)"?  "poof".  Now it takes place there instead.
Heck once upon-a-time they used to write adventures that told you where to locate them on the FR map, the GreyHawk map, & others.  Sometimes multiple locations on each map were suggested....

Why go to that minimal effort?  Because someone else already did the hard part & wrote an adventure then you came along, read it, & said: "I like this one.  I think my players will too."  

Some great help there guys, I really -really- appreciate it. 

There will be more questions as time goes by.
 
Also, dont worry about the skill challenges. This mechanic was just a way to have an 'encounter' that was resolved via skills rather than combat. Have the players role play as normal and as they have to make skill checks to convince the guard to let them pass or to sneak past the guard or to climb the wall (or whatever they may be doing)you keep track of the successes and failures and the outcomes depending on if the check was successful, and after they have a certain number of successes before a certian number of failures they are successful in reaching their goal. If they fail then some bad might happen, maybe they need to fight the guard because they are caught trying to bypass him or more guards are posted because someone saw them attempting to climb the wall (making it even harder). Just make sure that a failure does not stop the progress of the adventure, but rather means they need to go another route or that this route is harded, etc...
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Thanks a lot dear people. 

I have decided after doing some research to start with the Slaying Stones and then procede with the LFR Waterdeep Adventures, as I read they have great potential for social play and RP. 

Does anyone know of a good story already written that involves a huge war that takes place? I would certainly like to involve my players (after a while of course) in a grander theatre.

I could write a story like that on my own, if need be, but I imagine that using your own enemies or even picking them takes a lot of experience.  
I could write a story like that on my own, if need be, but I imagine that using your own enemies or even picking them takes a lot of experience.  



Well, if you're starting with some prefab, you could practice now and get your own ideas to a point where you'd like them before dropping them on the table. Folks here are pretty good for bouncing ideas off of, so there will be no shortage of advice, critique and other helpful whatnot to sponge up :P

You don't really need to make your own enemies so much as reskin an existing enemy that would fit the bill. Taking any kind of humanoid Brute from one of the monster manuals and calling it a Barbarian works just as great as making your own Barbarian type monster, and often only takes a few slight mechanical changes to be a perfect sell. That being said, if you want to use your own works (for whatever reason), monster making isn't so much difficult as it is tricky. Many created monsters tend to come out too powerful or not powerful enough depending, and finding the balance between them is a seemingly daunting task at first. That being said, if if you're starting with prefab, by the time you are ready to make your own badguys, you should be familiar enough with the way monsters work to have an idea about how to go about building your own. After that, it's all learning by experience. Folks often post their own baddies here for picking and adjustments, so feel free to run any would be villains by us if you're not sure about something.

Good luck, and Happy Gaming
Hello again. 

Does anyone know if there is a complete map of the Forgotten Realms 4th edition? I don't mean just Faerun but all the continents, as there was before the spellplague. It's weird that I can't locate any. 

Hello again. 

Does anyone know if there is a complete map of the Forgotten Realms 4th edition? I don't mean just Faerun but all the continents, as there was before the spellplague. It's weird that I can't locate any. 





I think the most complete map would be in the FR Atlas that came out back around 2008/009.  But I'm not sure as I don't own a copy. 

The thing is though?  With 4e WoTC took a different aproach to their campaign settings than before.
FR - they put out the setting book (with a fair sized map), and they put out an adventure module or two.  And that's it.  That book?  Pretty much that's all the info there is on the 4e Realms.
Eberon?  Same thing.  Book + a module or two.
Darksun?  Yep, same format.
Then they altered course again with the Essentials stuff & about a year later 4e got cancelled....

There were also several adventure modules set in the intentionally non-detailed world of Nerath (you're suppossed to make up your own details for this non-setting) including a higher lv hardbound one about fighting giants & elemental chaos lords etc (forget what its called).

They also relied upon thier digital Dragon/Dungeon magazines & LFR to supply adventures.

If the FR Atlas doesn't have what you need?  And you've got the map from the 4e FR book?  Then you can still use all of the old 1e-3.5 era maps for any areas 4e missed.

You might also direct your questions over to the FR sections of these boards.
Thanks for the reply dear friend. 

It all sounds a bit complicated for a new DM, but you put me on the right track.  
I'd say don't get too wrapped up in getting the lore perfect and being nit picky about modules being set in FR. You'll burn yourself out that way.

I take whatever adventures look like my players will have fun with, and drop it into FR however I like. I bluff my way through and tell my players they're in FR, even if I take a published adventure from somewhere else. Are they really going to argue with you? You're the only one who will know. I started off with the Slaying Stone adventure, decided they were going to Loudwater next, so arbitrarily decided Kiris Dahn would be located in Luruar. 

Guess it all depends on how you feel about "lying" to your players that way. :P I have no qualms about lying through my teeth to my players in an effort to make my campaign look better. It's a DM's perogative to tell bald faced lies, as long as it furthers the story.
It's a DM's perogative to tell bald faced lies, as long as it furthers the story.



I'm pretty new to the DM game myself and this is exactly the approach I have been taking. So far we are having a blast. 

I browse some pre-made adventures and don't even look at setting, the only thing I worry about is the level they are set for. I usually end up using them as a very rough outline, especially since my players tend to be pretty creative in their problem solving techniques.

Just go with the flow, be open to what your players want to do and how they want to do it, and as a last resort remember being DM means you are God. If you say house cats in this part of the world have purple fur and speak Mandarin Chinese, well, that just happened! 
It's a DM's perogative to tell bald faced lies, as long as it furthers the story.



I'm pretty new to the DM game myself and this is exactly the approach I have been taking. So far we are having a blast. 

I browse some pre-made adventures and don't even look at setting, the only thing I worry about is the level they are set for. I usually end up using them as a very rough outline, especially since my players tend to be pretty creative in their problem solving techniques.

Just go with the flow, be open to what your players want to do and how they want to do it, and as a last resort remember being DM means you are God. If you say house cats in this part of the world have purple fur and speak Mandarin Chinese, well, that just happened! 



Exactly! My guys have been having a blast and seem to look forward to the next session as soon as we're done the last one.

Players don't care if you know every little detail of the setting beforehand, or if you're choosing published adventures that are set in the published setting. You can make things up as you go along. They're not going to argue and tell you they refuse to play because you're making a Dark Sun adventure part of Forgotten Realms or that you didn't pick LFR adventures for them. That's not something they think about. As long as you make it make sense, they'll believe you. That's the real key and secret, I think. If the players believe you, then you're being a good DM.
There were a few Neverwinter-related adventures (in the level 3-5 range) published in Dungeon magazine, IIRC - I don't remember which issues they were in, but they'd have been the ones released around the same time as the Neverwinter Campaign Guide. Otherwise, the assumption is that most of the published adventures can be fit into whichever setting you use; they default to a location in the Nentir Vale setting only because that's the generic one.

As for an adventure featuring a mass battle, the only one I can think of offhand is The Tyrant's Oath from Dungeon magazine (and again, I can't remember which issue it was in). It wouldn't be particularly difficult to use it in the Forgotten Realms, since the deities involved have direct FR analogues.
Thanks for all the info guys. I try not to be nit-picky about the lore, but being a new DM is really difficult to know where to start. 

I have decided to do some mix and max. starting at Keep on the Shadowfell, then make them travel with my story hooks in other places, like Loudwater in the FR campaign setting, when they get level 2, then take them back at 4 on Shadowfell and end them up at the neverwinter campaign setting until they complete the heroic tier. It will give me a stable base of ready enemies and info, while allowing my own story to weave.

What I want to ask is this: How can scale the encounters and the general fights for 3 characters? Is it difficult?

My party will consist of 2 strikes and one controller wizard. 
While the official method of scaling would be to knock 40% off of the encounter budget, in practice the reduced PC synergy with only three players, coupled with KotS's habit of highballing XP budgets, means that you're probably best off to take this approach:

  While the party is level 1, an easy encounter has an XP budget of 200, a medium encounter has an XP budget of 250, and a hard encounter has an XP budget of 300.

  Repopulate the encounter using that XP budget, using one standard creature and an assortment of minions, or two standard creatures along with a couple of minions if the fight is supposed to feature two 'major' enemies. Avoid using anything more than one level above the party.

  For example, the initial ambush encounter in KotS can be set to use one Kobold Quickblade (level 1 skirmisher; 100 XP) and four Kobold Tunnelers (Level 1 minion skirmisher; 25 XP each). This makes it an easy encounter (200 XP total), but since it's mainly meant as an introductory event it should be.

  Add 50 XP to the encounter budgets when the party is level 2, and another 75 when they hit level 3, so the baselines go from 200/250/300 to 250/300/350 to 325/375/425. This should carry you through Keep on the Shadowfell.

Thanks a lot Neutronium.

What if I go back and forth between adventrures, though, like I described?

My plan is to always have my 3 players at least on the same level or one level lower/higher of the enemies they face. How can I have a simple way to calculate an xp budget for 3 players during different stories though, not just KoTS? 

As I understand it, if I knock of 40% off the total xp budget, then, generally, this budget will be fine for a 3 player party, at appropriate encounter levels (one above/lower the party's level at most) during different story encounters. Then I repopoulate the budget, mixing it up if I want with any enemies I like, but only as long as I don't exceed it. 

Is this correct? 
The official approach is to knock 40% off, but in practice you want to take 50% off with three characters; the numbers I posted above (200/250/300 at level 1, etc) approximate that.

Those numbers should work at level 1-3 regardless of which adventure you're actually using. The main thing in terms of encounter design is that you have to switch to minion-based encounters rather than using mostly standard monsters as would happen with 4 or 5 characters. Elites and solos pretty much disappear in 3-character encounter design.

I don't remember the Loudwater adventure well enough to offer specific suggestions about its encounters, although if you're concerned about particular ones then you can post the details and someone will probably be able to help!
Thanks for the info. 

I will be taking out 50% of XP for everything, encounters, mini quests, major quests, etc. Should I be doing the same with gold? In the story it said, for example, to award players a reccomended parcel with 40 gold. Should I just give them 13 since they are 3?

Also, I'm planning to have Elites and solos but with reduced numbers for HP and their main defences, nothing major but something that a 3 player party will be able to deal with. I know that by dumping them down a bit they won't really be elites or solos but I think it would be cool for my players to actually see some of these monsters, even not in their full glory. 

I have a lot of questions for the use of skills, though, so please bear with me.

Can players use skills during a fight? For example, my players wanted to intimidate the enemy during the fight by shouting insults and curses. So I rolled their intimidation vs the enemy's will. Is this "legal"? Can they use skills during a fight? Do they count as minor actions or as as standard ones? And if the intimidation succeeds, what should happen to the enemy?

Another thing. One of my players, upon engaging in battle with Rort in the Slaying Stone, asked me to roll an insight during the fight, in case he would understand why Rort always holds a book. Rort, of course, rolls a book because he needs it for his chaotic tome power. I thought that was a passive insight check because there was no skill of Rort to roll against my player's insight (is there?). Since it was obvious that Rort wouldn't let the book go during the fight, I thought a DC 10 would be enough. My player has passive insight 13. So, since he thought of it, I obliged because it was smart thinking and I told him that it seems that the book is needed. Was that correct of me (assuming you can use skills in battles of course)?

After that he decided to take away his book by shooting an arrow to it! How on earth do I calculate this?

After Rort became low on hit points I decided to make him escape. Another of my players said to shoot him in the leg. How do I calculate that? And if he falls, with an arrow in his leg, what are his penalties, other than "prone" and "slowed"?

During the fight a player asked me, because they wanted Rort alive, to try and tie him with a rope pretty quickly. How can something like this be calculated (there were no other enemies asjacent)?

Also, let's say that two of players wanted to use a rope and run towards the enemy, each holding the rope from the sides, stretched, to take down the enemy by hitting him in the head. How can something like this be done in a fight, if there are no physical obstacles or enemies of course. Skills?

In addition my ranger tried to cross the river. First of all. Is this considered a difficult path or an obstacle? Also, rhe book says though that the DC for acrobatics or athletics to cross the river is just 10. The player has a trained athletics skill so it seemed really easy for him. So I told him that the current was really strong, which meant he had to roll a DC 15. It was really tough (I gave him the 4 succesess before 3 failures) but it made much more sense. Did I do good? Is this allowed?

Last, my players thought to do some smart things during their fights and encounters. How much XP should I reward for good thinking? Minion XP, 25? Or less (always talking about a 3 person party)?

I'm really sorry for all the noob questions but I would really appreciate some answers because everything is starting to click and it's really awesome. 

Cheers.

 
Thanks for the info. 

I will be taking out 50% of XP for everything, encounters, mini quests, major quests, etc. Should I be doing the same with gold? In the story it said, for example, to award players a reccomended parcel with 40 gold. Should I just give them 13 since they are 3?

Also, I'm planning to have Elites and solos but with reduced numbers for HP and their main defences, nothing major but something that a 3 player party will be able to deal with. I know that by dumping them down a bit they won't really be elites or solos but I think it would be cool for my players to actually see some of these monsters, even not in their full glory. 

I have a lot of questions for the use of skills, though, so please bear with me.

Can players use skills during a fight? For example, my players wanted to intimidate the enemy during the fight by shouting insults and curses. So I rolled their intimidation vs the enemy's will. Is this "legal"? Can they use skills during a fight? Do they count as minor actions or as as standard ones? And if the intimidation succeeds, what should happen to the enemy?

Another thing. One of my players, upon engaging in battle with Rort in the Slaying Stone, asked me to roll an insight during the fight, in case he would understand why Rort always holds a book. Rort, of course, rolls a book because he needs it for his chaotic tome power. I thought that was a passive insight check because there was no skill of Rort to roll against my player's insight (is there?). Since it was obvious that Rort wouldn't let the book go during the fight, I thought a DC 10 would be enough. My player has passive insight 13. So, since he thought of it, I obliged because it was smart thinking and I told him that it seems that the book is needed. Was that correct of me (assuming you can use skills in battles of course)?

After that he decided to take away his book by shooting an arrow to it! How on earth do I calculate this?

After Rort became low on hit points I decided to make him escape. Another of my players said to shoot him in the leg. How do I calculate that? And if he falls, with an arrow in his leg, what are his penalties, other than "prone" and "slowed"?

During the fight a player asked me, because they wanted Rort alive, to try and tie him with a rope pretty quickly. How can something like this be calculated (there were no other enemies asjacent)?

Also, let's say that two of players wanted to use a rope and run towards the enemy, each holding the rope from the sides, stretched, to take down the enemy by hitting him in the head. How can something like this be done in a fight, if there are no physical obstacles or enemies of course. Skills?

In addition my ranger tried to cross the river. First of all. Is this considered a difficult path or an obstacle? Also, rhe book says though that the DC for acrobatics or athletics to cross the river is just 10. The player has a trained athletics skill so it seemed really easy for him. So I told him that the current was really strong, which meant he had to roll a DC 15. It was really tough (I gave him the 4 succesess before 3 failures) but it made much more sense. Did I do good? Is this allowed?

Last, my players thought to do some smart things during their fights and encounters. How much XP should I reward for good thinking? Minion XP, 25? Or less (always talking about a 3 person party)?

I'm really sorry for all the noob questions but I would really appreciate some answers because everything is starting to click and it's really awesome. 

Cheers.

 



ok, i'll help- and btw, gratz on it clicking- that felt so good when it was me


basically- if a player wants to intimidate a monster into surrendering, they can (at your discretion, not all monsters are intelligent enought to be intimidated, and others are just stubborn) look at the skills section fo the Player's handbook (assuming you have one, if not, check your equivalent essentials handbook) and it'll describe what's possible with intimidation- but the decision is always yours.

It sounds like you made a fine ruling on the book, don't worry about it, for the record though- to do it as designed (and to guarantee the right odds), you just need to pick a DC, then figure out if the character hits it- this would be on the inside of your DM screen, or in the skills section of the DMG, figure out how hard you want it (x axis of the table) and what level it is (the Y Axis) and fight hte right number- thats the number they have to hit with a dice roll + skill modifier to do it.

As for the combat stuff, it's a little tighter- shooting at the legs that way... could be ruled as possible but since actions like that are easy to abuse (and will replace powers in combat if you aren't careful) just ask him for the power he's using and run the mechanics as stated in the power, if he wants to do soemthing that knocks an enemy prone, thats a capability desribed in his powers. 4th ed combat is heavily codified, so improvised actions like that generally need to be heavily monitored (if not barred) to avoid imbalancing the game (because if he's done it once without a power... he can do it again, and then if a power comes along that would have let them do that, and it's an encoutner... lets just it could distort th game's balance considerably)

as for the tying up? well, it shouldn't be possible if he's still active and resisting, if he's helpless (proned, unconscious w.e) thats another thing though.

you did fine on the river thing, make it as easy as difficult as you feel comfortable with, remember that doing it in combat should be harder than overall.

as for the good thinking? encourage it by letting good ideas work, then give them regular xp- they're getting the xp for overcoming the challenge, and good thinking should make it easier to do.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

To add to what was said above: if you're using the DMG1 parcel system then you remove two specific parcels (#2 and #4) from the list with a 3-player game. This results in the group getting fewer magic items but the amount of gold stays the same.

As for the insight checks: you can use passive insight for a quick result, but if you roll it and there isn't any specific skill being used to oppose (which there isn't in this case - Rort isn't Bluffing anyone, for example) then you'd use the standardl level-based DC (and in this case it would probably be an Easy DC). Arcana would also be a viable substitute in this circumstance.

As for swimming the river, this is a circumstance where the character could probably take 10 if they aren't being attacked or otherwise interfered with along the way. Crossing the river unopposed would generally only be a challenge to someone with really poor Athletics and/or who is heavily weighted down by armor.

As for the combat stunts, if they're suitably cinematic then whatever check seems appropriate is probably okay - and err on the side of the PCs if you aren't sure. Knocking someone down with a rope like that is similar to a Bull Rush, so you could use something like Athletics vs Fortitude; the book-shot is probably an attack vs Reflex (although Rort would probably have a bonus to his Reflex defense against any second+ attempt at doing this).
Thanks for all the answers guys, really appreciate taking the time. 

Reading the books (I have the essentials for now) is great, as expected, but actual advice on various circumstances and possiblities really shows me how the mechanics work.

I'll be back for more, so please be patient.  
the original forgotten relms is at home in d and d and ad and d,

 the gamers focous on action left no choice,
 now the gamers focous is on visual mediums like videogames, so we lose a little.

 the free aspect of you as a human is now condenced to categorys.
 class
 powers
 skills
 expansion packs
nothing to do with you in general. 'its faster than 3.5 but kinda like an egg plant, smells good fried, but i perfer potatoes.

but gives us walls around our world, unles your a dm from a different era. 



I keep thinking of ways to respond to your posts.

Then I get lost 4 times trying to decipher them.

I think I found a new entry on the ignore list. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Trashoon, I still have no earthly idea of what you are trying to say...
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
the majority of Social gamers focous on winning.

Of course. So, play around with what "winning" means. Story-type games have turned things almost upside down, so that "optimal" play often means willingly getting one's player into trouble, and even losing. Many of the same principles can be applied to D&D.

the results: our rpg, feels like a card game now.

You get to control how it feels for you. It doesn't feel that way to me.
 
so the roleplayers out there are forced to play a basic war game, because of the game itself is a response to the players complaints.

Yes it is, and there have been many improvements, but it's only a wargame if that's what the table wants.
 
the way 4e is structured you just play.

Yes. You play without having to worry about having a character who can contribute to the primary activities of the game.

therefore, unles your a dm from a different era
  the free aspect of creativity as a human is now forced into categorys.
 class
 powers
 skills
 expansion packs
nothing to do with authentic decision making in general.

I disagree. My character is much more than the sum of those aspects.

As for different eras, there have always been people who wanted clear rules rather than DM fiat. The rules have finally given the players a lot of control over what their characters can do, but that's just the baseline. Players can and do reach beyond that.

the same aurthor is working on the relms so id suggest checking it out, but dont expect the same feel for an entirely different system.

System doesn't matter. System is just the conflict resolution mechanic. You don't need a system to give you interesting decisions to make, and interesting consequences stemming from those.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

winning depends on your motivations. so small goals and you win more, large goals and you try to find short cuts to get there.
sucess, always feel the same when you achieve what you set out to do.

so my rpg dosent need to give me major advantages over my opponets, like healing surges, and action points. just give me two hands, some raw raterial, and some  goals, ill figure out the rest. like my dice roll names, upper cut, trip, can i set a trap with this rope, box, twig, and carrot? i want rabbit stew. or catch a halfling.
 

Troll king

so my rpg dosent need to give me major advantages over my opponets, like healing surges, and action points.

Healing surges aren't advantages, they're baseline functionality. Monsters have them too. Monsters also have action points, and can use more than one per encounter if they want. Consider not disparaging things you don't understand.

can i set a trap with this rope, box, twig, and carrot?

So, just two hands, some raw material, some goals, and permission from the DM? Better hope they know to say "Yes, and...."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

game over. that mechanic, i don not like at all. the fact that they picked video games over humans. ill mob forever in my rpg, i only bought it because of my love of the realism over video games and cartoons.  why did you buy it? and what is your prefrance? do you like frail belivable characters?

 or super sayians? 

Troll king

game over. that mechanic, i don not like at all. the fact that they picked video games over humans.

They picked balanced over imbalance, choice over lack of choice.

ill mob forever in my rpg, i only bought it because of my love of the realism over video games and cartoons.

There's nothing unrealistic about healing surges, if you understand that HP are not just (or even primarily) about physical damage. The warlord and the various sources of temporary hit points make that clear once and for all.

why did you buy it? and what is your prefrance? do you like frail belivable characters?

I like Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones didn't have a cleric. He had healing surges.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I have a lot of questions for the use of skills, though, so please bear with me. 

Can players use skills during a fight? For example, my players wanted to intimidate the enemy during the fight by shouting insults and curses. So I rolled their intimidation vs the enemy's will. Is this "legal"? Can they use skills during a fight? Do they count as minor actions or as as standard ones? And if the intimidation succeeds, what should happen to the enemy?
 



I don't know how other DMs feel about it, but I go with case-by-case on using skills during fights. I let them roll insight or nature at any time to try to get a picture of where they're at in the overall fight, or get information they might not have asked for before beginning combat.

When we did the Slaying Stone, the first encounter with the wolves looked like it was going to overwhelm my group because the ranger, instead of beginning to act, decided she wanted to go up to one of the wolves and try to pet it. Of course, it started biting her face off! There were laughs all around, the rogue decided he was out of there and headed for the tower, the cleric got scared and tried to follow the rogue, so the dragonborn decided to roll intimidate on a few of the wolves. Being a fearsome sort of guy, after a high intimidate roll, we decided he roared and made threatening gestures at the wolves that scared a bunch of them off back into the woods. Since they're just beasts, not intelligent or anything, we figured it would have been plausible.


Another thing. One of my players, upon engaging in battle with Rort in the Slaying Stone, asked me to roll an insight during the fight, in case he would understand why Rort always holds a book. Rort, of course, rolls a book because he needs it for his chaotic tome power. I thought that was a passive insight check because there was no skill of Rort to roll against my player's insight (is there?). Since it was obvious that Rort wouldn't let the book go during the fight, I thought a DC 10 would be enough. My player has passive insight 13. So, since he thought of it, I obliged because it was smart thinking and I told him that it seems that the book is needed. Was that correct of me (assuming you can use skills in battles of course)?

After that he decided to take away his book by shooting an arrow to it! How on earth do I calculate this? 

After Rort became low on hit points I decided to make him escape. Another of my players said to shoot him in the leg. How do I calculate that? And if he falls, with an arrow in his leg, what are his penalties, other than "prone" and "slowed"?



When I told them about Rort's book, my ranger wanted to do that too! She hit the book with a crit, and basically I told her she could pick the specific page she wanted to hit! Whether I had wanted her to be able to or not, it was pretty much out of my hands. What could I say to a crit? 

Then, later, when they were up against Kiris Hoyt the wererat, the rogue got CBA near the end of the encounter and crit, and decided that instead of making the killing blow, he was going to cut off his tail and strangle him to unconsciousness with it. They ended up interrogating Hoyt after waking him up, and then finished him off by strangling him with his tail. I had no idea how to adjudicate it (the stat block said he turns back into a human when dead/near death, so I wasn't really sure what would happen to the severed tail). But he really wanted to do it, combat was essentially over, it was hilarious, so we started making up the story.


Sounds like you had fun, though! I love it when the players take me by surprise and we have to make something up. It makes for memorable games. They won't forget strangling Hoyt with his own severed tail for a while. Your adjudications sound pretty good, because you had good reasons backing up why you did it the way you did. I think that's pretty important, because if a player ever disputed or asked you about it, you can explain your reasoning.
I have a lot of questions for the use of skills, though, so please bear with me.

I missed this earlier as it was surrounded by discussions of XP and HP which I detest.

Can players use skills during a fight? For example, my players wanted to intimidate the enemy during the fight by shouting insults and curses. So I rolled their intimidation vs the enemy's will. Is this "legal"? Can they use skills during a fight? Do they count as minor actions or as as standard ones? And if the intimidation succeeds, what should happen to the enemy?

Yes, players can and should use skills during a fight. They can do anything they want during a fight, and sometimes skills cover those things.

Skill use can count as any kind of action including free actions. I prefer to make it a standard action, in general, but to keep the risk of using skills low (or the risk of not using them high).

As for what happens, sometimes the rules cover that and sometimes they don't. Intimidation is covered in the rules, but you can handle it however you like. It's never a bad idea to ask what they player expects success and failure to look like and it's always a good idea not to bother rolling skills unless both failure and success would be interesting.

Another thing. One of my players, upon engaging in battle with Rort in the Slaying Stone, asked me to roll an insight during the fight, in case he would understand why Rort always holds a book. Rort, of course, rolls a book because he needs it for his chaotic tome power. I thought that was a passive insight check because there was no skill of Rort to roll against my player's insight (is there?). Since it was obvious that Rort wouldn't let the book go during the fight, I thought a DC 10 would be enough. My player has passive insight 13. So, since he thought of it, I obliged because it was smart thinking and I told him that it seems that the book is needed. Was that correct of me (assuming you can use skills in battles of course)?

There's nothing wrong with how you handled that. You could have handled it a lot of ways, including just telling the player the answer they're after.

After that he decided to take away his book by shooting an arrow to it! How on earth do I calculate this?

It depends what effect the player expects it to have. If it would just give the target some kind of temporary disadvantage, have them use a power that would apply that disadvantage, or have them make some kind of a basic attack and apply the disadvantage.

If losing the book would take the target out of the fight completely, then I hold that as equivalent to killing the target and make the dropping of the book be what happens when the target reaches 0 HP.

There are lots of ways to handle this. In general, try to do something that is more to the players' advantage than the monsters'.

After Rort became low on hit points I decided to make him escape. Another of my players said to shoot him in the leg. How do I calculate that? And if he falls, with an arrow in his leg, what are his penalties, other than "prone" and "slowed"?

Your players did not want the target to escape. At that point, you should say that he does not escape. Players hate it when targets escape and will pull out no end of odd ideas to prevent it. It's not worth the trouble.

But in general, just apply whatever penalties you and the players think are fair.

During the fight a player asked me, because they wanted Rort alive, to try and tie him with a rope pretty quickly. How can something like this be calculated (there were no other enemies asjacent)?

In a variety of ways, such as just requiring the PC to spend a standard action with the rope adjacent to the target.

Also, let's say that two of players wanted to use a rope and run towards the enemy, each holding the rope from the sides, stretched, to take down the enemy by hitting him in the head. How can something like this be done in a fight, if there are no physical obstacles or enemies of course. Skills?

Ever notice how the crazy moves are the ones that work in movies? Like using an Enemy A's own gun to shoot Enemy B while Enemy A is still holding the gun? I'm increasingly of the opinion that if the players come up with some weird, fun, or cool idea that it's not worth requiring a roll that might stymie them. Just let them success with an effect they think is reasonable.

In addition my ranger tried to cross the river. First of all. Is this considered a difficult path or an obstacle?

That's up to you and the players.

Also, rhe book says though that the DC for acrobatics or athletics to cross the river is just 10. The player has a trained athletics skill so it seemed really easy for him. So I told him that the current was really strong, which meant he had to roll a DC 15. It was really tough (I gave him the 4 succesess before 3 failures) but it made much more sense. Did I do good? Is this allowed?

Requiring multiple rolls is generally not advised for relatively simple tasks, which this sounds like it was. That method tends to be for more complicated things.

Always keep success and failure in mind. If either one of those would not be interesting for a roll, do not roll, just take the interesting one.

Last, my players thought to do some smart things during their fights and encounters. How much XP should I reward for good thinking? Minion XP, 25? Or less (always talking about a 3 person party)?

None.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Again many thanks to ashesnhale and Centauri for taking the time to answer as well. Very helpful information

Last night the the party pressed on towards the north of Kiris Dahn. Before that, though, they had to rescue the third party member (human wizard) which was being held captive (first time appearance of the player) by Kobolds. In collaboration with the mage player I devised a plan where she was part of a previous expedition Treona had sent for the stone, which of course failed.

The mage has been searching Kiris Dhan for some time though and she is certain that the stone wasn't to be found in the south and middle districts but to north, near the Hot Springs, the Monster pens and of course the Mansion, information desperately needed by the players. I also thought that if she was being temporarily held by Kobolds it would kill one bird with one stone, since the players would end up fighting Triflik in the slums. If they defeated him they would gain his silver dagger/sword, a good weapon for another encounter later on, Kiris Hoyt, the wererat. 

The two party members interrogated Rort which after a small skill challenge (and a beating) revealed the existence and location of the mage.

To cut a long story short the players managed to free the mage and escape through the window of the second floor she was being held. At that moment though Triflik burst into the house with another Kobold party and started searching. Then players planned to head for a safe house the mage knew in the south area but then Triflik gave orders for the Kobold party to spread into the streets. I told my players they didn't have a lot of time to decide, so the Drow said she wanted to cast Cloud of Darkness to conceal the players.

That is an encounter power, though, so is there a way to cast it right there and now? Can I initiate a battle in order to cast it? What are my options?

Later, upon reaching the mansion, I decided to put there Kryad the Butcher, the she-Orc. I wanted a difficult encounter since the party didn't search for the wererat and didn't end up fighting Triflik. 

Kryad taunted them and started asking questions of the players, probably looking for a deal (and a betrayal after). But after both she and the party revealed they have been searching the stone in a verbal stand-off, Kryad said that she would kill them all.

My players were being cautious because I made sure they understood that she looked quite powerfull, but at the same time I wanted to provoke them to rush in without thinking. So I made Kryad described how she marked the eyes of many children and all kinds of creatures, with very gruesome details, which actually "triggered" my Drow to charge (her background involves a childhood of abuse)!

I hadn't properly thought this through, though. The battle hadn't started yet so how was she suppose to charge? Can she charge outside of combat? I didn't know! After a bit of consideration I told her that she can charge without initiative at the moment, allowing her to do a proper basic attack (which failed to hit). I had Kryad rolled insight vs passive will, to give her a chance to understand that the character was thinking about charging. Since her wisdom is only 10, she failed. If she had succeed I would have given Kryad a +2 to AC. On the other hand, the penalty for the character charging out of combat/turn and without initiative was the she would end up in front of the Orc (which I found logical since she made a melee attack) and that she would start the battle like she had rolled the lowest initiative. I couldn't treat this as a surprise round (since Kryad knew the players were there), so I had Kryad her rolled initiative as normal, along with the other two players. The battle ensued.

Now, I have some weird questions. For example, this is a Solo monster and it's supposed to be difficult, especially for my 3 player party. She can do a lot of damage, that's for sure, but she has such a low AC that my ranger was hitting almost every time! He was rolling pretty good also and using two attack rolls each time (e.g. twin strike) and with hunter's quary, action point and elven accuracy he ended up doing 20-30 damage in the first 3 turns. Kryad had 128 HP. Is this normal?

Of course, when she made melee attacks the players suffered major damage from her (the players have 25-28 HP between them), so she could end them in 2 or 3 turns, easily. I had to tone down her damage a bit when she actually hit. 

Another question: the mage, seeing that things were not going very well, she decided to cast sleep. Kryad, being an orc, has very low will, so it's very easy to be hit by the spell. So, when Kryad fell asleep, what's to stop the players from slitting her throat and ending the fight in the same turn? Is the sleep state the same as the helpless state and can the enemy wake up from the spell if hit or does it simply has to roll its saving throw each turn (which is a simple 10 and over for success)?

That's it for now, many thanks
coup de grace. its basicaly helpless. you have to do over half its bloodied value.if not? it is only a critical
 

Troll king

Sleep:

Attack: Intelligence vs. Will


Hit: The target is slowed (save ends).


  First Failed Saving Throw: The target is unconscious instead of slowed (save ends).


Miss: The target is slowed (save ends).

Unconscious:
     The creature is helpless.
     The creature can’t take actions.
     The creature takes a -5 penalty to all defenses.
     The creature is unaware of its surroundings.
     The creature falls prone, if possible.
     The creature can’t flank.

Coup de Grace:
       Action: Standard action.
         Attack Helpless Target: The creature uses one of its attack powers against an adjacent target that is helpless. If the attack hits, it automatically scores a critical hit against the target.
         Slaying the Target Outright: If the critical hit deals damage greater than or equal to the target’s bloodied value, the target dies.
 

Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Then players planned to head for a safe house the mage knew in the south area but then Triflik gave orders for the Kobold party to spread into the streets. I told my players they didn't have a lot of time to decide, so the Drow said she wanted to cast Cloud of Darkness to conceal the players.

That is an encounter power, though, so is there a way to cast it right there and now? Can I initiate a battle in order to cast it? What are my options?

Your options, first of all, are endless. Try to enable player ideas as much as possible, so in this case say "Yes, and..." or, if you can't see how to say "Yes," ask your player what they had in mind for how the power would work.

Powers can be used at any time. Don't think of them as something that only occurs during battle. The difference between out of combat and in combat is that in combat there's usually no question about how a power would function, though there's still a lot of freedom. Out of combat there's more question, but there's also a lot of freedom.

Later, upon reaching the mansion, I decided to put there Kryad the Butcher, the she-Orc. I wanted a difficult encounter since the party didn't search for the wererat and didn't end up fighting Triflik.

Kryad taunted them and started asking questions of the players, probably looking for a deal (and a betrayal after). But after both she and the party revealed they have been searching the stone in a verbal stand-off, Kryad said that she would kill them all.

My players were being cautious because I made sure they understood that she looked quite powerfull, but at the same time I wanted to provoke them to rush in without thinking. So I made Kryad described how she marked the eyes of many children and all kinds of creatures, with very gruesome details, which actually "triggered" my Drow to charge (her background involves a childhood of abuse)!

Sounds like it worked out for you, but watch it when you start thinking about what specifically you "want" out of an encounter. Be prepared to give that up.

I hadn't properly thought this through, though. The battle hadn't started yet so how was she suppose to charge? Can she charge outside of combat? I didn't know! After a bit of consideration I told her that she can charge without initiative at the moment, allowing her to do a proper basic attack (which failed to hit). I had Kryad rolled insight vs passive will, to give her a chance to understand that the character was thinking about charging. Since her wisdom is only 10, she failed. If she had succeed I would have given Kryad a +2 to AC. On the other hand, the penalty for the character charging out of combat/turn and without initiative was the she would end up in front of the Orc (which I found logical since she made a melee attack) and that she would start the battle like she had rolled the lowest initiative. I couldn't treat this as a surprise round (since Kryad knew the players were there), so I had Kryad her rolled initiative as normal, along with the other two players. The battle ensued.

In the game-world, there's no difference between being in combat and being out of combat. A PC can do the same thing in either situation.

I think you overcomplicated this. You were getting what you wanted (the character charging in) so I'm not sure why you didn't just let the player do that.

Now, I have some weird questions. For example, this is a Solo monster and it's supposed to be difficult, especially for my 3 player party. She can do a lot of damage, that's for sure, but she has such a low AC that my ranger was hitting almost every time! He was rolling pretty good also and using two attack rolls each time (e.g. twin strike) and with hunter's quary, action point and elven accuracy he ended up doing 20-30 damage in the first 3 turns. Kryad had 128 HP. Is this normal?

That's probably fine. Solo have lots of hit points for precisely that reason.

Of course, when she made melee attacks the players suffered major damage from her (the players have 25-28 HP between them), so she could end them in 2 or 3 turns, easily. I had to tone down her damage a bit when she actually hit.

Why? Either explicitly take death off the table as an outcome, or be prepared for characters to die. Players don't tend to like it when they learn or suspect that the DM is fudging numbers.

I will fudge in my players' favor if I forgot something, like some effect that should have been damaging the monster, but I roll in front of them so they can see what they're facing.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.