Band of Bastards
My DM Style
1. First and foremost, this is a game of mutual fun and heroics. I don’t believe in slaughtering PC’s, because where’s the challenge in that? You’re not immortal and death is more permanent in my game, but that doesn’t mean you’ll die willy-nilly. A cinematic, meaningful death is cool, a senseless death because of a lucky attack is not. That said, being stupid is on you… don’t assume I’ll save your bacon just because I’ve done so in the past.
2. Your characters are special and I will usually be generous and lenient with character ideas, actions, treasure, and so on. I like powerful games where your characters can influence things beyond the mortal.
3. I run a dynamic game, which means things change based on your actions. There are consequences to what you do, even though you may not see it right away. If you travel from village to village slaughtering innocent people, the forces of good will send someone (or something?) after you. A dynamic game also means that a cleared dungeon may repopulate while you’re away. The enemy is not stupid… well, some are, but even their survival instincts will kick in.
4. Don’t metagame. Metagaming is when you use out-of-game knowledge of something to influence your character’s actions. If the party is separated, one group cannot influence the other. Play accordingly.
5. Treasure isn’t divided via dice unless your characters actually carry dice and choose to do so. Your characters should divvy up loot through roleplaying.
6. I don’t do stupid, arbitrary, senseless dungeons or impossibly complicated traps. You very likely won’t find an 80-ft pit trap in my dungeons. In fact, I don’t like old-school dungeons much at all. Listening at the door, checking for traps, disarming the trap, picking the lock, and fighting the monsters beyond is mind-numbingly boring. My dungeons make sense. You also won’t find an adventure beginning with, “So there you are at the entrance to the dungeon…”
7. Don’t assume that monsters in my game are exactly like traditional D&D monsters. There may very well be an evil gold dragon out there, and even hobgoblins have feelings.
8. Evil is relative, so don’t expect your paladin’s detect evil to be of much use. Activating it in a wretched tavern will result in tons of positives, and it’s not a metal detector either way.
9. Don’t expect all encounters to be perfectly and conveniently balanced for your party level. Sometimes they’re overpowered and the best thing you can do is run away like bitches, find another way to defeat the problem other than head-on, and come back later.
10. I may sometimes offer choices for the next adventure, like rescuing a princess, capturing an evil wizard, or stealing some trinket from a holy temple. Whichever ones you don’t choose this time may be gone next time or be modified. Time passes and the world moves around you. This isn’t a static videogame.
11. I do not like intra-party fighting. Not. At. All. This is a team effort and it ruins the game when the rogue is stealing from everyone else, the fighter beats up the wizard for a bigger share, and the assassin poisons the entire party. It doesn’t end well and the group suffers. Having said the above, some plotting and politicking is expected, especially in a morally ambiguous game… I understand that. But the underlying trust should be there, even for evil characters. If a character can’t be trusted and is constantly ruining things for the rest of the party, why would they keep him around? Because the player is a friend in real life? Just kill the bastard (the PC) and have him make a new character.
12. I don’t like alignment extremes, specifically Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil. Pick something in between those unless the game falls strictly into either of those two extremes.
13. Moderate evil can work with moderate good, at least for a while. For example, Shane in The Walking Dead was Neutral Evil while the main group was varying levels of Good, and the group worked fine until Shane descended into madness. That said, I prefer gray campaigns that offer up moral dilemmas… you’re not necessarily evil, but not good either. The campaign may go in either direction depending on your actions.
14. While on the subject of alignments, Chaotic Neutral is not an alignment of randomness and madness. You don’t roll a die to see what you’ll do in a given situation. You don’t suddenly stab the innkeeper in the back just because you’re “random.” Chaotic Neutral simply means that you have no moral compass and act according to your whims, as befitting the situation.
15. We all know when that broken character has been made, so be a good player and retire the character, m’kay? I once made a mistake of allowing a psionic pixie, which flew around under greater invisibility and rained psionic blasts on the enemy, being untouchable. The player agreed to retire the psycho pixie… before I killed it.
16. I don’t typically hand out individual XP, mainly because I want all characters to level up at the same time. Handing out individual XP may also lead to perceived favoritism (real or not), and it’s not fair to reward a character extra experience just because the player is wittier than another player. Some people just aren’t comfortable being the class clown or resident smart-ass, so their characters shouldn’t fall behind because of it.
17. Adventures, characters, and locations may be subtly linked… or not. It’s up to you to discover connections. I don’t spoon-feed plot twists, nor will I influence you to go to a particular place, etc. If you don’t figure it out, oh well, on to something else we go.
18. I use common sense when deciding whether or not you said something stupid to the mighty dragon. Don’t use the excuse, “I didn’t say that because I didn’t preface it with, my character says…” I also don’t give you a chance to take it back by asking, “is that what you’re saying?” You are your character most of the time, so don’t try to shove words back in your mouth just because you now pissed off something powerful.
19. You don’t have to fight everything you come across. You can retreat, negotiate, deceive, or avoid some encounters. Yes, you’ll get XP for overcoming obstacles and encounters without using force. Of course, you won’t get their loot, but I often make up for that with extra treasure somewhere else.
20. Opponents will use their treasure. You won’t find a random weapon on a body that he could’ve used but didn’t. If he has treasure he can’t use, it’ll be in his main stash. And no, you won’t find 1d6x100 gp on a monster unless he was traveling somewhere with all his wealth. You also won’t find odd treasures on creatures that can’t use them. Rust monsters don’t use cloaks.
21. Fifty coins weigh 1 lb and is about the most you can fit in a large belt pouch. 500 coins weighs 10 lbs, is very bulky, and jingles when you walk even if it’s in your backpack. Your treasure must be stored somewhere. Get a bag of holding.
22. I’m happy to work with you on new magic items, modify existing ones, or improve and combine items. Certain items are not limited to only one body slot, meaning you can create a ring of strength, for example. Generally speaking, I’ve reduced the cost of magic items to about half, give or take, because seriously, who’s going to pay 90,000+ gp for a ring of regeneration?