First D&D session in 15 years. It did not go well...

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Hey all. I have a newish friend who plays D&D 3.5 edition. I've started a campaign with my friend as DM and his brother as my fellow adventurer. The problem is, I hate it. I hate being 1st level. I hate rolling Spot and Listen checks every two seconds. I hate the recordkeeping, the constant rolling of initiative, watching the DM draw the battle scene on a whiteboard, counting 5 foot movement increments, all of it. Most of all I hate getting by butt kicked by a bunch of goblins who like to throw javelins from cover.


So, I'm playing a level 1 sorcerer and my partner is a level 1 samurai. We can kill the goblins easily in a straight fight because the samurai cuts them down easily with his sword and I can put them to sleep. But the goblins are clever and they like to use cover. A lot. We make it to the final room and the samurai is already wounded. I am at full health. But we find ourselves facing a dozen goblins with full cover including a shaman. The shaman blasts me with a magic missile for 4 points of damage, and I only have 6 hit points. The samurai is also wounded again.

We are forced to retreat. I'm thinking that we can rest up and have another go at these goblins, but I find out that we only recover 1 hit point per night's rest. So I need four days of rest to heal up. The samurai needs nine days. Nine days! We just ended the adventure right there.

The whole experience was pretty disppointing to me. I'm thinking about rerolling as a cleric or druid just so we can have some healing. Or maybe I just won't play again.
I'm a first time DM for some first time players, and one of the first house rules I implemented was changing the rate at which they recovered hit points. Instead of 1/day I chose to make them recover half their total hit points with a night's rest, so they could be fully recovered in two days if down near death.

Also, I guess you three were just running a dungeon crawl in a dungeon populated by only Goblins? I really do understand why you would quickly grow bored with that. I don't know what your interests are, but me and my group like to include some roleplaying other than combat. When there's context to the fight, it's more interesting. When the fights are broken up by other things, it's less repetetive. And when there's some variations in what enemies you're fighting, it's more fun.

My final recomendation is to just start a couple levels higher. In the game I ran I saw people weren't too happy about their low levels, so I excelerated the leveling process for a little while to get them high enough that they could have more fun with a wider variety of abilities and enough hit points to not get one shotted.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. 
1) start the characters out with max hp.
2) use a healing kit to increase hp healed.
3) add Con bonus to hp healed/night.

easy fixes.

1 hp/level/night goes all the way back to AD&D. It's realistic healing, and one of the reasons why having a healer is so useful. You get to be a video gamer and go go go.

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
From the looks of it, you're two people up against way more goblins than you should be handling. Were you also using cover? Cos they have to run out of javelins sometime.
1 hp/level/night goes all the way back to AD&D. It's realistic healing, and one of the reasons why having a healer is so useful. You get to be a video gamer and go go go.

==Aelryinth




Video games is what I'm used to these days. The tabletop RPG is SO SLOW. But I do like role playing. It's the battles that are tedious. 
From the looks of it, you're two people up against way more goblins than you should be handling. Were you also using cover? Cos they have to run out of javelins sometime.



We made some use of cover. The shootout just seemed like bad odds, though. After the session, the DM mentioned several exotic tactics that we could have used to our advantage. One of them was using Mage Hand to drop globs of molten copper (from a smelter) onto the goblins. I wish I'd thought of that.

Gah, so much trouble to clear out a few goblins.  

In small player groups you should have NPCs in the party or secondary PCs.  It sound like your party was undermanned from the start.  Starting at a higher level is a short fix, unless you planning on taking creatures always below your level you'll need more in your party.


If you had four days to heal; the goblins also had four days to escape, send for reinforcements, shore-up defenses and set traps, or just hunt you down and kill you.


What Edition did you learn from?


I hate being 1st level:



  • Don’t we all, but it doesn’t last long.


I hate rolling Spot and Listen checks every two seconds:



  • Have your DM use a passive check based on 10+skill level.  You may not find everything, but you won’t need to roll as often.


I hate the recordkeeping



  • Every Edition has had some form of record keeping, do you have a specific problem.


The constant rolling of initiative



  • Assuming your rolling every round; roll once for each encounter if you roll low to bad.


Watching the DM draw the battle scene on a whiteboard, counting 5 foot movement increments



  • Beats the hell out of Xs and Os on notebook paper.  3E thru 4E have a more tactical range and rule set it is an improvement must of the time anyway.


  • I hate being 1st level.


Ask to start at a higher level. Most 3.5 groups I know of start at level 3 (minimum).



  •  I hate rolling Spot and Listen checks every two seconds.


Don't. The DM can't make you roll. Say "I'm not looking around, I don't care if I see it." Alternatively, say "I am taking a 10 while we walk around. That gives me a 1X for the rest of the adventure until we level"



  •  I hate the recordkeeping,


Don't. Write your spells per day, and HP. Thats all you need to track.



  •  the constant rolling of initiative,


This is supposed to be 1/fight. That doesn't seem all that often to me.



  •  watching the DM draw the battle scene on a whiteboard, counting 5 foot movement increments, all of it. 


Ask to use a narrative form. I personally don't like it, but 3.5 is designed to be used either way. "I run 30ft over to him" instead of "I move these specific squares."



  •  Most of all I hate getting by butt kicked by a bunch of goblins who like to throw javelins from cover.


have your PCs leave. "We don't actually care about these goblins. Screw it lets go." or better yet "Hey higher level adventurers, we found a job for you. It is too much for us, but needs to be done. You go do it. We will find some rats to stomp on." If you are lucky you get to play those adventurers.



  • and I can put them to sleep.


I just want to point out that this is a great tactic for a 3.5 caster.



  • I find out that we only recover 1 hit point per night's rest


This is probably the most common house rule. Most groups I know at least add your con mod to this. Mine just goes to full.



  • One of them was using Mage Hand to drop globs of molten copper (from a smelter) onto the goblins. I wish I'd thought of that.


Tell the GM you would appreciate hints like this while relavent instead of after the fact. You can even pull the "I am new, I don't know everything yet" excuse. But you really have no way of knowing whether that would be a valid tactic, many DMs would shoot that sort of thing down, and its very much up to house rules.

Alternative tactic. Pool party gold, buy a lot of hunting dogs. Flood the caves with those.  If you don't have much $, spend X weeks doing untrained perform in the streets. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Okay, you guys are making me feel a little better 

This DM is very experienced but he seems to be a stickler for the rules and likes to make things "challenging." I'll try suggesting a couple of these convienence rules to him.


We found a dwarven paladin NPC so we can have a little healing next time.    
As experienced as the DM may be that doesn't mean he can't improve.  TELL him you are put off by what seems to be excessive numbers of spot and listen checks.  If the DM wants you to hear it/spot it - you should hear it/spot it.  Only if there needs to be a chance that you don't should he be calling for checks.  It is generally considered standard procedure that you listen at doors before you open them to possibly determine what's on the other side and thus be prepared for it before you open it.  In a dungeon with a lot of doors that may be a lot, but the number of listen checks that the DM should be needing you to make beyond that should be MINIMAL.  Spot checks - well there's traps and creatures that are SUPPOSED to be hard to notice, but you shouldn't need to be making spot checks repeatedly unless you're in the Dungeon of Pirate Ninjas.

You'd have to be more detailed about what all seems like excessive record keeping.  Initiative, as noted above, is once per combat.  You roll it at the start and it changes only by taking actions that change your position in the order - not by rerolling.  If you're making constant initiative rolls then the DM is either using a house rule or you're doing it wrong.  If the battle environment is a simple one (plain room with 5 goblins and not much else) there isn't much need to draw anything out - especially since with just 2 PC's you're NOT gonna want to just charge in but have the samurai hold position in the doorway while you cast spells from behind him.  If goblins are in a room, behind cover, throwing javelins and refusing to move then alter your tactics appropriately.  Sleep should work on them regardless of cover - end of problem.  The samurai could use a bow.  You could improvise a mantlet (a big, lean-to shield) to carry with you through the dungeon to provide YOU with cover.  Equip yourselves with a lot of alchemists fire or just flaming oil and Molotov them to death, create smoke to provide concealment as you rush them, or distract some of them while you deal with the others.  Your characters abilities and equipment are not THE answer to everything - they are simply the basic tools you have at your disposal.  Don't limit yourself to them alone.

First few levels is a challenging time.  Improvise, adapt, overcome.  If you think you're facing the final room but the meat shield is wounded - drink that healing potion before you go in.  Alter your tactics again.  Be prepared to run away.  Taunt them and get them to come to YOU, rather than you walk into a prepared ambush through the open in crossed fields of fire.  Build a box-tank from dungeon doors to get you to the Shaman first and break the morale of the remainder.  Go recruit help or bribe a few surviving goblins to switch sides.  They shouldn't have an unlimited supply of javelins so maybe you can draw their fire with some kind of scheme like using one of the dead goblins as a puppet and then when they're out of ammo go for the throat.

A party of two.  A DM who "likes to make things challenging".  Players who haven't played in 15 years (when the game rules were 2nd Edition, not 3.5).  Uh huh.

I say TALK to the DM about your concerns.  DM's don't have ESP.  I'm sure he'll be very disappointed that you're not enjoying the game but first be sure he KNOWS THAT.  If he's unable or unwilling to run a game that you can ENJOY then he's perhaps not as "experienced" as you think he is and you ought to look for a different DM.

Meanwhile, chalk this one up to a learning experience for BOTH sides and give it another go. 

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

 

Alternative tactic. Pool party gold, buy a lot of hunting dogs. Flood the caves with those.  If you don't have much $, spend X weeks doing untrained perform in the streets. 




Another favorite tactic: Retreat out side goblin cave, pack entrance with brush & wood, light on fire.
You smoke the goblins out or they eventually die of suffication....

Another favorite tactic: Retreat out side goblin cave, pack entrance with brush & wood, light on fire.

You smoke the goblins out or they eventually die of suffication....



Not likely, these are goblins in caves not groundhogs in burrows.


Not all caves are singularly open only at the mouth and others have smaller, unnoticed openings through which smoke could escape.  Still others are large enough that smoke dissipated into the interior.  After all these goblins use torches and cook fires and the smoke from them was not a problem.


Didn’t work here either


Show
"The mission is to rout terrorists, to find them and bring them to justice," [President George W.] Bush said. "Or, as I explained to the prime minister [of Japan] in Western terms, to smoke them out of their caves, to get them running so we can get them." (circa Sept. 26, 2001)
Two first level PCs would have an "equivalent average party" level of about 1/2.  Goblin WARRIORS are CR 1/3 (human warriors are still only CR 1/2).  By definition running your two character into just THREE Goblin Warriors (never mind that Goblin spellcaster) is already going to be a very difficult encounter.  Those types of encounters should be the minority.  That spellcaster would also be a very difficult encounter all by himself.  It shouldn't take many encounters of that difficult before you level up.
Your DM may be able to make use of this d20encountercalculator.htm  if he's trying to find appropriate diffuculty levels.

Rolling Spot/Listen checks every two seconds?  That's what "take 10" is there for. 

Initiative:  It is rolled ONCE during an encounter.  After everyone has gone there is no need to roll again unless something MAJOR (something that screws up BOTH sides and basically would make everyone stop for a moment to consider that change) happens.  Once combat start initiative just works like it is on a wheel where the bottom of one round slides seamlessly into the start of the next round; TURNS are from initiative count to initiative count. 
Two first level PCs would have an "equivalent average party" level of about 1/2.  Goblin WARRIORS are CR 1/3 (human warriors are still only CR 1/2).  By definition running your two character into just THREE Goblin Warriors (never mind that Goblin spellcaster) is already going to be a very difficult encounter.  Those types of encounters should be the minority.  That spellcaster would also be a very difficult encounter all by himself.  It shouldn't take many encounters of that difficult before you level up.
Your DM may be able to make use of this d20encountercalculator.htm  if he's trying to find appropriate diffuculty levels.

Rolling Spot/Listen checks every two seconds?  That's what "take 10" is there for. 

Initiative:  It is rolled ONCE during an encounter.  After everyone has gone there is no need to roll again unless something MAJOR (something that screws up BOTH sides and basically would make everyone stop for a moment to consider that change) happens.  Once combat start initiative just works like it is on a wheel where the bottom of one round slides seamlessly into the start of the next round; TURNS are from initiative count to initiative count. 



Thank you for the reply, StevenO! I see now that we never had much of a chance against 12 goblins and a shaman without using some sort of brilliant guerilla tactics or traps or something. Also I think this DM is very old school. He hasn't caught on to some of the 'quality of life' type rules and houserules.
Thank you for the reply, StevenO! I see now that we never had much of a chance against 12 goblins and a shaman without using some sort of brilliant guerilla tactics or traps or something. Also I think this DM is very old school. He hasn't caught on to some of the 'quality of life' type rules and houserules.

OUCH!!!

Even if I assume the "shaman" is just a Goblin Sorcerer 1 that would qualify as an OVERWHELMING (ie. RUN AWAY!!!!) encounter for a group of four first level character or two second level characters.  MAYBE it could get down to just a very difficult encounter if your two characters were hyper-optimized and have ability scores and equipment well above the assumed.  I don't even think "brilliant" tactics would be sufficient against that encounter and it certainly sounds like the goblins weren't pulling any punches to help there. 

I think that's 12 goblins + shaman total in the adventure, not in a single fight.
Should I make grammar mistakes, I am most likely unaware of them. Feel free to point them out lest I keep making them. I shall take no offense.
I think that's 12 goblins + shaman total in the adventure, not in a single fight.



Actually we faced this group as the final battle. We had already killed about a dozen in earlier battles. I think some of these final goblins may have been females or young ones, though. I'm not sure. We retreated after the shaman slammed me with a magic missile. My samurai partner was already wounded and the goblins were throwing javelins from cover.
Low levels can be difficult, and with one roll against you, death can happen very fast. Personally, as a DM i like to houserule that level 1 characters get +10 hp. Its still very challenging, but not so deadly that a crit from a shortshord drops a fighter in heavy armor. (Although an Orc with a greataxe [CR 1/2] still can!).

It sounds like the DM planned for you having a party of 4, or used a premade one that is intended for 4. That happens, and a lot of premades can be quite challenging. (I played Expedition to Undermountain with my group, and they faced an EL 5 in the first session... at level 1 thats insanely hard!)

The suggestion that I would make, if the DM wouldn't houserule, is that you handle it in the same way you personally would in a real challenge: Get help. While there may be only two people at the table, one of them controls EVERYONE in the world! And just because there are only 2 players, that doesn't mean only 2 people have to solve this. My group would totally hold the campaign hostage on me, refusing to delve into the dungeon until they had the means of survival: aka a healer. Remember that characters you are playing arent usually suicidal (unless you want them to be) and know when danger is too great. Go recruiting, and refuse to give up, no matter how many years it takes. Luckily years pass quickly at the table

It sounds like a paladin is a quick fix, and a great front line fighter. But maybe a fourth wouldnt hure ;). Sorcerers can be a lot of fun, especially at high levels, so I hope you stick to it! Good gaming!

Thanks, darokinblade!
I would consider more warm bodies around the table? Ask everyone to bring a friend,in basic D+D every time my group faced a dragon my group would double the size of party by bringing girlfriends and younger siblings for a night. Consider playing D+D minatures to help familiarize yourself with combat. Ask DM to set up a fantasy colliseum where you can face monsters after regular game in a sort of gladiator training school?

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