Question on Balance

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I have been playing in a long campaign for about 2 years now. Its a published AD&D campaign. The DM wanted to play it low wealth/low magic. That is not a problem because it was agree long ago. So the DM has cut the treasure and magic items by 1/2 to 1/3 or more since the begining and this is one of the lowest campaigns I seen to begin with) At about 10 lvl we aveage about 20k in total treasure and magic valuve. I'm not complaining about that, it was agreed in advance. (The amount of treasure is only that high because the wizard took creation feats and we been very creative in our finding treasure. If we did not push this it would be closer to 10k each)

The problem starts here: we go to this castle and sneak in. We thought the BBG was in one part of the castle, he was not. The goal was to get the artifact but not to kill the BBG. Since we skip going room to room we missed the BBG and found the artifact first. Then we battled the guardian of the artifact and chased it away. We were very beat up so we fled. All is good so far.

The problem is we are bunch of good characters and we wanted to kill the guardian and the BBG.  The story did not require us to kill him but it did not sit well with us. So we went back. The DM was not that happy that we wanted to kill the BBG, but let us go back. (inthe campaign the PC killed the BGG here) We did not plan really well when we went back so we did not get either the guardian or the BBG. Before we were chased out by all the guards.

Time pass, we go on more adventure, but the players are still planning on going back. We talk about it a lot and get a better plan. The BBG and his guardian show up later in the story and we kill them.


Now the castle is just has the guards in. Its repressing the locals so we want to make sure that the evil ones are chased out and safe for the locals. This really does not matter in the campian since it poduvil and nobody cares about it. But it still bothers us. 

So we go go back and 1/2 of us die in like 3 rounds because the DM created a very cool anti-magic trap that cost 8k to make. We die fast because the spell that would have protected us from breath weapons were now gone and we could not have teleported out now.  If we kill this BBG in the first place we might have gotten  2k. The DM later said he was surpised that anyone got away because we was going for TPK. Told us before that if we died he just have are bodies stripped and dump over the wall. We be raised by a friendly cleric and then we could go back to the campaign, without our magic. 


The part that upsets me is the dying or the loss of the treasure that took so long to get. It that the DM  created that trap from funds that did not exsist until he created them just for the trap. That 8k was a boat load of money for us. And we never would have gotten it on day one if we killed the BBG because he did not have it.      

So it seems to me all the DM has done so far is destory wealth (by removing it) for 2 years and then all at once he creates more treasure so it can be used to kill us.    


So should I be upset or not?

Thanks      
it seems to me you are resonable in being upset.

if your all into limiting gear, thats ok. i dont like doing this becouse i like to play with lots of gear.

but if your DM is then going to turn this decision on you and give the badguys expensive things that fall out of the sky, that dosent seem to fit, if magic and gold are rare in this world then it is just as rare for them as it is for you, without leaders it seems unreasonable that they would be able to come up with this mannor of magical artillery.

also the DM "going for TPK" to strip you guys of the gear you have is kind of cruddy i dont see how grinding to get the gear you have is made more fun by the fact that those of you who couldent get away lose all the gear you had to work so hard for.

but it seems your characters have to make the most of the situation, good luck bro 
I am actually quite surprised that the DM - not really wanting to play out going back to the castle - didn't just hand-wave you all just sorting out the leaderless castle, and RP some kind of congratulations from the locals. Then you and he could have got back to the adventure he had in mind.

The DM's tactics do seem a little cheesy, but it's his world, and he probably has good reasons for equipping the castle as he did.

I think in terms of the group: It can be a bit wearing to play in a campaign where you get beat up a lot, then saved by DM fiat. It doesn't feel very heroic. Also if he can supply Raise Deads just because, then he can supply some basic re-equipment, you don't have to end up penniless. Talk to the other players, and figure out whether despite the recent upset, you are still enjoying the campaign overall.

Would a short break for a different style of adventure give you a chance to forget the bad and come back to the main campaign? Play something madly Monty Hall for a few weeks, and you may miss having to work for your stuff.
Gun Safety Rule #5:  Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)

This Gun Safety Rule could apply in the case of players putting their characters in harm's way when dealing with the BBEG earlier in the campaign than the DM was prepared for.

However, I usually think of the rule when I hear DMs complain about PCs unexpectedly killing the BBEG early in the campaign when the DM sent the BBEG out to taunt the party, and didn't expect them to get a lucky shot and kill him.

It sounds like a combination of both situations this case:  the DM got an "Oh, SH*T!" moment when he realized he'd put his precious BBEG into the crosshairs before the scheduled end of the campaign, and decided to try to teach the party a lesson by deliberately beefing things up until you couldn't possibly win; he clearly created a plot that pointed a gun at an NPC he was not prepared to destroy yet.  Meanwhile, the players put their characters directly into the BBEG's line of fire, but clearly weren't prepared for their PCs to be destroyed.


My solution?  Take a few spare D&D Miniatures nobody likes down to the local shooting range with the DM and other players, carefully read over the gun safety rules for a while, and then spend some time carefully shooting at the miniatures while thinking about the consequences of putting anything in front of the muzzle of a loaded gun (or a dangerous plotline).  Afterward, go out for a pizza on the guy who was the worst shot, have a good laugh at the experience, and start a new campaign, preferably with a new DM to give the other fellow a break after two years



"Wait - how come all
those guys with guns
are looking at me and
pointing and laughing?"
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Just because everyone agreed on it, doesnt mean it was a good idea. Magic and Treasure are built into the system. Higher level monsters are balanced in a way that assumes the players are appropriately equipped, with the scales tilted in the player's favor.

So unless the dungeons and dragons where appropriately counter balanced, the house is gonna win.

Though that seems like the least of your problems if the DM openly admits he is "going for a TPK". Sounds like the DM is having all the fun by stacking the deck in his favor. 
Just because everyone agreed on it, doesnt mean it was a good idea. Magic and Treasure are built into the system. Higher level monsters are balanced in a way that assumes the players are appropriately equipped, with the scales tilted in the player's favor.

So unless the dungeons and dragons where appropriately counter balanced, the house is gonna win.

Though that seems like the least of your problems if the DM openly admits he is "going for a TPK". Sounds like the DM is having all the fun by stacking the deck in his favor. 



I'm guessing this is v3.5 (due to item creation resulting in profits)? In which case the balance effect of magic items is less of an issue - if the DM designs encounters with the low magic in mind, which isn't any more effort in v3.5 than designing them normally (because CR/EL mechanism is more flaky than 4E's xp budget system) it won't really play that much different.

Also in v3.5, combat encounter balance isn't such a huge driver, and the game plays differently as a result. DMs are still expected to make the regular adventure path winnable, and therefore combats balanced, but this doesn't extend to all possible combats and scenarios - players can easily face very bad odds due to story logic (to be fair this a play style issue, many DMs will seek to make all combats balanced in v3.5 too (and vice-versa for 4E) just the expectation that they do so is not so great in v3.5 as it has become in 4E).

Just because everyone agreed on it, doesnt mean it was a good idea. Magic and Treasure are built into the system. Higher level monsters are balanced in a way that assumes the players are appropriately equipped, with the scales tilted in the player's favor.

So unless the dungeons and dragons where appropriately counter balanced, the house is gonna win.

Though that seems like the least of your problems if the DM openly admits he is "going for a TPK". Sounds like the DM is having all the fun by stacking the deck in his favor. 



I'm guessing this is v3.5 (due to item creation resulting in profits)?


Actually I think this is 2e...or possibly 1e...all I know is I saw 'AD&D' mentioned before my eyes started bleeding.

I'd like to help, Winterhaven, but I can't make heads or tails of your post.

The part that upsets me is the dying or the loss of the treasure that took so long to get. It that the DM  created that trap from funds that did not exsist until he created them just for the trap. That 8k was a boat load of money for us. And we never would have gotten it on day one if we killed the BBG because he did not have it.      

So it seems to me all the DM has done so far is destory wealth (by removing it) for 2 years and then all at once he creates more treasure so it can be used to kill us.    


So should I be upset or not?

Thanks      



No, you should not be upset.

Because as you've said, you weren't going to get that $ in the 1st place.
It was true then, & it's just as true now.
So you haven't "lost" anything.  No wrong was done to you, you haven't been cheated.

Now let me ask you this;
How do you know that the BBEG didn't have this trap/resources (already spent)?
Perhaps he didn't have this kind of loot just sitting around loose because he'd already invested it in this trap.... 
And are you aware just how much a castle is worth in & of itself??  Even one in some remote area?
Congrats, you now have a castle & the gratitude of the local population.

In the end?  You sound like you're crying about the DM inventing stuff to keep you entertained.
Remember, YOU kept poking this situation - thus forcing the DM to  
We knew there was no trap in the room before we because we had been in the room before. So the trap was created in the 2 week game time that we were gone.

The adventure was first written for D&D and the was updated for AD&D, We are playing with its 3rd update which is was 3.5. And it has not been updated for 4E

And no we don't have the castle because we were chased out again. We try very hard to stay on the train ride. We have been taken prisoners 3 times so far by overwhelming forces. We have been pentilzed each time we tried to escape without letting the NCP free us. If we are every taken prisoners again I'm just going to ask what NCP is going to free us this time? I'm sure this was invented to keep us entertained, its been very entertaining listen how the NCP free us.


Before we when to back to the castle we found a treasure room. It was guarded by poison darts that hit on +18. That trap fire off over 150 poison darts at the monk with no end insight. The good thing was he does not take poison damage and we put up a protections from Arrow spell. So we were able to get the treasure out. But this is a screw up world that using steel instead of gold. So I wanted to say, but did not. Boys why are we messing with the treasure? We got 10K out after all those darts. But that steel door that we just opened up is worth 16k and is not guarded by darts and the one on the false treasure room is worth 16k. And the 2 over there are worth 16k each also.    


So yes I'm unhappy that we lost the stuff and yes I'm  unhappy with that we tried to keep the balance of the low wealth world by not looting doors when the DM did not keep to that feeling when he created the wealth to kill us. 

And no we don't have the castle because we were chased out again. We try very hard to stay on the train ride. We have been taken prisoners 3 times so far by overwhelming forces. We have been pentilzed each time we tried to escape without letting the NCP free us. If we are every taken prisoners again I'm just going to ask what NCP is going to free us this time? I'm sure this was invented to keep us entertained, its been very entertaining listen how the NCP free us.



Well this is a different kind of problem, and not really related to your OP. As presented, this kind of railroading - constantly losing and being bailed out by DM plot devices - is one of my least favourite kind "bad" games (closely followed by winning so easily all the time that I stop caring what my character does because none of my choices are relevent).

At the very least you seem burned out by the campaign. I would suggest getting it closed off (with perhaps the promise of starting a new adventure some time) and swapping DM duties. It's easier for a DM to improve if they have a break, and experience a different style of game themselves. Also, being a player is usually a good way to get a distaste for railroading and lack of choice.

Your are right, this has drifted off the main post. Its just best that I'm done with the adventure, I know that for a long time its just hard to make the break. The more we are forced to follow the path the hard it because and everything piles up, so yes this was not the first time it happened just the last. Thank you for the advise, but now we should just close this off since I'm done with adventure.


Just follow up for Thunder_Dragonbane, I just did not want to leave you with unanswerd questions

No we got 10k in steel out of the treasure room. There were 150 darts fired at the monk in the time it took for him to pick up the treasure. It took ~25 rounds to pick up the treasure. About 8 darts a round.  The trap was set at a skill higher then our disable trap check. There was no way to trigger it to run it out of darts. Yes we were just suppost to look at the treasure and say oh, would that not be nice to have.

This is the DM math not mine, but each cu feet of steel is worth 4000. We have had long talks about the weight and volume and what we can carry over many months. Long before the problem of the doors came up. But comes down to this. One steel bar is worth 400. Every 10 steel bars take up 1 cu foot. (This works for coins too, ever 4k coins take up 1 cu foot). So now when we talk about trying to  get passed those nice steel doors, we think should we take the doors or risk the darts? We can do the math doors vs the treasure.

The door is 6 feet by 4 feet and 2 in thick. So that becomes 4 cu ft of steel or 16k. In a normal world the door is not worth looking at. In Krynn on the other hand according to the DM math its 16k. Since the treaure was in steel and gold bars, we got ~10k in steel and it took us 5.5 cu ft to carry it out. So what should we have taken?

Taking the doors is not in the spirt of the game and this is not what the authors/DM really wanted but authors/DM did not think about this so we tried not to break the system and stay in the spirt of the low wealth world that was described to us. So that why when he creates wealth to kill us I'm so frustated.


I hope now I answered everyone questions and wish me luck in finding a better world to play in next time.  

PM if you have any other questions.


Thanks   








(Video:  Knights of the Dinner Table - the DM tries out his new Critical Mass table.)

Adventures in playing Dungeons & Accountants - awesome.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Oh, agreed completely:  if, two years into a campaign, a party is still reduced to pricing darts to pay for food, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.  It's like the evil mirror-world version of a Monty Haul DM....
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
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