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D'Rahng Battlegroup

A Ring of Steel

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D'Rahng Battlegroup

A Ring of Steel

Home

 

We Don't Grow Stupid Troopers!

Survival Techniques

 

INDEX

Equipment

Combat

Character Creation

Negotiations

Extreme Environments

General Advice and Strategy

 

 EQUIPMENT     

1. The 10 ft pole

As in the expression "I wouldnít touch that with a ten foot pole!" Well I guess u could carry a larger one. In a party I once played with the thief carried a collapsible 10 ft pole, made of sections with treaded ends so they could be screwed together. I think he also had some kind of pulley operated claw at the end. For picking things up, very useful for detecting trip wires and pulling suspicious levers too.

2. Bandages

Bandages are a must!!! Unless your DM just kills you and doesnít do unconsciousness or bleeding to death.

3. Chalk

A good way to keep from getting lost in dungeons and mazes. When you leave a mark, add a small, hardly noticeable detail so that youíll be able to tell if someone has messed around with your signs.

4. Crowbar

At least one person in the group should carry one. That way, you wonít have to start using Excalibur to pry open a wooden chest or door. In an emergency, a crowbar will also serve as a weapon.

5. Light sources

Always carry torches, a flashlight or some other form of illumination. A coin with continual light cast on it is popular in many AD&D campaigns, though you shouldnít neglect to bring some ordinary light sources with you as well. Otherwise a simple dispel magic could leave you groping in the dark. A burning torch can also be useful as a weapon, especially against animals and regenerating monsters.

6. Straps

String or leather tie straps are almost as useful as rope. Then you donít have to cut up your much needed climbing rope to tie up a prisoner (or whatever).

7. Piano Wire 

Thin very strong (metal?) wire, can be used to bind things together or for trip wires. Use in conjunction with spikes and drive them in at various heights. While traveling through a dimly lit corridor the group came to a wooden door. They listen and heard orcish voices on the other side. So they doused all the torches on the walls. And set up piano wire at head level by driving spikes into the wall and fastening the wire to them. Then the groupís fastest runner opened the door, taunted the orcs and took off down the hall. The party had notched the wall where the wire was. And the runner was able to duck and keep running. While the orcs got some nasty headaches.

8. Fire starters

Fire is one of the most useful things there is. It can be used for illumination, warmth and destruction. You should always carry the means for making fire, whether itís old-fashioned flint and steel or a zippo-lighter.

9. The small mirror on a stick

Ideal for looking around corners. Also useful if youíre being shot at and donít want to stick youíre head out of cover. (Believe me, taking a quick peek only works in the movies. In real life (well, real role-playing), a quick peek isnít enough to give you any useful information but itís certainly enough for a sharpshooter to add a third eye).

10. Rope

Rope, you can never have enough, every PC should carry some, and at least one PC should have a grapple hook. Try to get silk rope, lighter and stronger.

11. Wooden wedges

Shoving a wedge under a door is a much quicker way of blocking it than by piling up furniture (of course, you should always make sure the door opens in the right direction). Alternatively, a wedge can keep doors from closing behind you (secret doors tend to have this nasty tendency).

12. Missile weapons

Always carry a missile weapon with you, even if itís only a couple of darts. If an enemy is coming at you from a distance, a missile weapon basically means you get some free attacks. Also, there will be times when a dart or bow is simply the only way you can reach the enemy. Besides, a missile weapon can be very useful for intimidation purposes.

13. Nasties

One thing I also like to do <...> is add some nasties. Like say caltrops, snap traps, dog pepper, or anything else your devious heart desires.

14.  Paper and pen

Useful for drawing maps, writing messages, doing calculations, drawing portraits ("Have you seen this man?"). The paper can also be used as kindling, to wrap things, and as a fan.

14. Last Advice in General Equipment

Also the paper can be waved in front of a guard while stating "Important message for your boss" as you stroll past. As long as they donít get to read your laundry list you may get by. In a similar vein you can walk around ostentatiously taking notes and asking questions and people may assume you belong.2115. A note about preparation; five words for you: Fish hooks and signal whistles. Oh yeah, donít forget the string. Can you imagine dropping Nystuls Magic Medallion of Unending World Peace down the sewer grate, just as the bad guy with Tensers Magic Medallion of World Destruction, is about to tear your world apart? Is your thief really going to be strong enough to tear that grate from the ground? Hope your DM thinks so. What about that time you tried to get your friends attention before they mistakenly gutted the runaway prince in disguise, during the heat of battle, with swords clanging on shields all around? Bet he bit it didnít he?

 

  COMBAT

1. Standard operating procedure

Have an S.O.P. for battles, i.e., these guys in front/left/middle/ right, and these guys in back, clerics casting this and this, and mages casting this and this. There arenít that many different situations youíll encounter. When youíre under attack, if you ALWAYS set up the same way for the fight, then youíll get quicker at it and not only will the players react better as a team, but also it can make a difference whether you spend a round coordinating or can get set quickly. i.e., we spent two rounds deciding who does what and in the meantime, the monster was able to close on our mage; or the fighter went to close with the monster, but the mage was casting a lightning bolt at him, so the fighter moved into the path of the bolt and...

2. Keywords/phrases

In certain circumstances a character yelling one word or phrase could make everyone do "the right thing". Little things like "double team right" might mean the mage and right fighter are to combine on the right side enemy. Customize the concept to your team and abilities.

3. Concentrating attacks

Concentrate as many attacks as possible on one opponent: the quicker one is killed, the sooner thereís one less attack on your group.

4. To fight or not to fight...

Know when NOT to fight- A thief or mage who is out of spells is NOT useless in a fight as long as you realize that you can be valuable while not fighting. Reining up the horses, pulling wounded party members out of combat, throwing burning oil. These can all aid the party without placing a wounded or otherwise non-battle ready party member in jeopardy.

5. Evil alters

Donít leap on the, actively used, altar to the Evil God to get a better swing at someone.

6. Surrendering

Surrender IS an option- I almost lost a character once because I got too "heroic" and never even considered paying off highwaymen as an option. Learn to recognize when the DM is hinting that youíre outnumbered (forty of the kingís archers with arrows notched is a good sign), and learn to be able to eat crow and surrender when appropriate. A good DM will never let your characters rot in jail forever, but will use it to further the plot. What do you think thieves are for?

7. Cover

Use cover if any is available. Anyone who needlessly stands out in the open during a firefight deserves every bullet he gets. Remember that cover can sometimes be shot _through_ (not even stone walls can always provide safety), so try to never give away your exact location.

8. Melee against groups

When fighting against a large group in melee combat, always place your back against a wall or another large object so you canít be attacked from behind. Even better, try fighting from an enclosed space such as a doorway or a narrow pass. That way, even less enemies can get at you and, more importantly, you still have the option of retreat. If you yourself have the advantage of numbers, then be sure to use it. Surround your enemy so thereís always someone who can attack from the rear, try to catch the opponent in a crossfire, etc.

9. Pursuit

If you have an advantageous position, the enemy might try to lure you out of it by retreating. If you were winning before the withdrawal, youíll probably feel a strong urge to pursue and continue the fight. Only do this if youíre sure the enemy is truly broken and disorganized.

10. Shield-wall

Assuming a dungeon setting... When meeting an opposing group in a corridor, any fight, which ensues, is almost bound to be 'fair'- i.e. one on one, two on two etc. The odds can easily be weighted in the party's favor if the party is prepared to retreat to the last chamber they were in, then by clustering around the doorway inside the room, they can get maybe as many as three on one. This works best if the room is off the side of the corridor, rather than at an end- otherwise the opposition can 'charge' down the corridor and break through the 'shield-wall' in the room, negating any advantage.

   Character Designs

1. Spell selection

When choosing your spells (or mutations or psionic powers or whatever) make sure the spell isnít superfluous. A lot of spell effects can be achieved just as well by having the right equipment or by the skills of your fellow party members. For instance, if youíre a low-level mage and have several warriors in your party, go light on the combat spells. Most of the time, the damage you can do with them is negligible compared to what the fighters will dish out. Pick something more useful instead.

2a. Skills

With all the combat skills to pick from, itís often easy to overlook the more unobtrusive ones. Donít forget skills like swimming, riding and reading/writing. **Note** All Bloodstone trained elites can read and write common and their native tongue.

 

2b. Skills

Always have a medical skill, ĎHealingí will do (if only one person has such skills, you can be almost guaranteed heíll be the first one in need of those skills when the fighting breaks out).

Always have some form of combat skill (a fight will always break out, being able to defend yourself is a must. Even non-combat oriented games will usually have a physical fight somewhere).

3. Group input

As a group make your characters as a group. Too often the characters are independently made. This results in holes in the group. By making characters as a group, it is possible to provide a better width and depth to the group. Think what happened when no one made a cleric or magic user. **NOTE**This has already been done, each of you have talents that will become evident and helpful for the group as a whole, you also each should have a flaw, and you will come together as you each try and work through your failings. In whole, you have been written in kind with the group concept in mind, you will have to make it all work, and the chance is there.

4. Power level

Strange as it may seem, sometimes your odds are better if you donít try to create an all-powerful character. There are several reasons for this:

a.      GM compensation. Itís a game-masterís job to provide the players with a challenge. If you create characters capable of taking on a tank, then tanks are what youíll get.

b.     Overconfidence. Powerful characters usually wade into combat without even considering if thereís another way of dealing with the situation. But combat can be deadly no matter how strong you are.

c.      Lack of character attachment. Powerful characters rarely have interesting non-combat skills or equipment, because the player spent all his resources on boosting fire-power. The end result is usually a combat machine with about as much originality as the average toaster. Because of this, the player tends to care much less about keeping the character alive.

If youíre used to playing terminator-type characters, it can be quite difficult to make a change. Power gamers usually shudder at the thought of not maxing out a combat skill, and start sweating at the idea of actually spending some points on charisma or social skills. The best advice I can give is this: when creating a character, choose the one thing that most defines the character. This could be anything. ÖPerhaps your character is a thief with a love for climbing. Or perhaps she grew up near the ocean and loves ships. Or tends to be very curious. Or wants desperately to be a part some social group. Or has a drug problem that heís trying to beat, or wants to be the first mage to perfect the growing (and domestication) of really big carnivorous plants. Your characters have been designed to have rich backgrounds ripe for adventure already written in, you just need to take the steps to do so..

5. Be interesting

I have had at least one GM change a die roll so that I didnít die, just because he liked my character. In my experience, GMs are much more willing to let boring characters poorly played die, while they will go out of their way to find some way of keeping favorite fun characters alive. There seems to be more than a grain of salt in that statementÖ..

   NEGOTIATIONS

1. Basics

Never let on how badly you need the other parties help. And always be sure to let your most charismatic/silver-tongued party member do the talking.

2. Talking is an option

One overlooked survival technique is to talk. Many people die because they attack the too tough for them creature because "itís there" or "itís evil". But kings have armies, some monsters gate in help (some fiends gated help can also gate), and sometimes you just arenít tough enough. But talking may give you a chance to deal with the enemy, get an idea of its plans, find a weakness, or deal with the villain while others sneak by to complete the mission. Perhaps heíd GIVE you the goal of the quest if you do something for him. <...> As usual talking requires judgment but may save you a painful death.

3. Truth

Never assume the other guy is telling the truth. All too often Iíve seen PCís take the word of any NPC as gospel truth, even if the NPC has obvious reasons to lie (i.e. is having the crap beat out of him by the PCís).

4. Motivations

Always keep the other guyís motivations in mind. The key to negotiation is figuring out what the other guy wants. Is the other guy a mercenary? Offer double what the other guyís paying. Is he a religious devotee? Hope you know enough about theology to convince him that youíre in the right.

5a. Lying

Donít lie unless you need to. Iíve seen many PCs who ended up as pathological liars when talking with NPCs, when there was no known reason to lie. Often, the NPCs eventually found out they were being lied to. This does not make for successful negotiations.

5b. Lying

And when you do lie, make absolutely sure that you know what you said. Lies are harder to remember. Itís often a good idea to make sure that the GM remembers it as well, so that you can at least agree on something.

6. Losing face

When youíve got your opponent over a barrel, make sure he knows it but be careful not to rub his nose in it too much. If you do, he might decide to refuse your demands, regardless of the consequences. There are people who would rather die than be extorted/humiliated, especially by someone they donít respect, so loss of face should be kept to a minimum. Staying polite helps. And occasionally you might want to consider giving up something relatively invaluable, so your opponent has something to show his own people that can be interpreted as a victory.

7. Ask for the moon

Donít be afraid to ask for the moon. The other party may have no use for it.

   EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS

1. Jungle: machetes

So you want to take machetes with you when you're traveling through the jungle, as our group recently found out. Short swords get real thin when you use them like that.

 2. Jungle: transport

Also, horses aren't a very good form of transport in the jungle, and horsemeat gets a bit boring after a couple of weeks. (That must have been the third batch of horses we went through. And the first of the 4th batch died recently too. (Never charge unknown creatures that are slow enough to run away from.))

3. Jungle

Bring something waterproof to keep your maps and other papery stuff in.

4. Stuff to bring along

A            Jungle: insect net, poison antidote, machete, and portable boat.

B            Desert: water, white clothing, water, compass, water, camels and water, warm clothes (it gets COLD at night), water.

C         Arctic: black goggles (to prevent snowblindedness), rope to tie each other together to avoid snow-filled chasms, knowledge of how to build an igloo, really warm clothes, ice pick, crampons.

   GENERAL ADVICE AND STRATEGY

1. Keeping your Polish mine detector alive

When exploring a dungeon with a lot of traps, the person who walks point basically acts as a Polish mine detector (SCOUT). Needless to say that this person should have a lot of hit points/dexterity/good saving throws/luck. Since a lot of traps are of the pitfall variety, the point man should always hold on to a rope that is also being held by the other party members. That way, if the floor collapses beneath him, he wonít immediately be turned into hero-kebab on the spikes that traditionally line the floor of any self-respecting pitfall.

2. Marching orders

Several people have remarked to me about the importance of this. Though the actual marching orders will vary depending on the party in question, the general order usually resembles something like this:

Point: any character with stealth.

Front: warriors, preferably with distance weapons available.

Middle: vulnerable characters.

Rear: warriors again or other characters with at least a little bit of combat power.

3. Splitting up t he party

Never. Ever. No matter how good an idea it may seem at the time. Remember that Ďdivide and conquerí works just as well for the enemy. If you are, by some act of God, forced to split up, then at least agree on a rendezvous-point and time and also on a recognition sign or password (shape shifters can be a real pain in the butt).

4. The Law

 Use the Local Guards if possible, you donít need to run out the back of the bar just because someone else started a fight or stole something. Surprise everyone by calling for the guards yourself sometime, and watch them take off running for a change, and leave a good impression in that town, and have it a place you CAN return to.

5. Keywords/phrases

These were already mentioned in the combat section but they can also be useful in other situations. The party should have a short list of subtle signs, with meanings like:

"Get ready for a fight."

"Get ready to run like hell."

6 a. Planning

When youíre making a plan, _always_ make a backup plan for when things go wrong (which, letís face it, they always do). So donít just say: "Weíre going to sneak into the temple, steal the Ruby Eye of the Mad God, and then sneak back out again", but also decide in advance what youíre going to do if you get discovered halfway and youíve got hordes of mad priests and guards coming towards you from all directions, while bells madly toll the alarm. My group usually starts arguing, with half the players wanting to make a run for it and the other half wanting to go on and try for the Eye anyway. Of course, while weíre arguing our DM happily lets the guards and priests close in.

6 b. Planning

In general, try to keep plans simple. You canít plan for every contingency anyway and having too many/too long/too detailed plans only ensures that things will get messed up, not to mention the fact that they suck up a lot of game-time.

6 c. Planning

Whenever you decide to make a plan, stick to it. Just because you discover a hidden door which might hide a load of treasure (and your usual Fiend or two) that doesnít give reason enough to sidestep from your original plan and screw it up completely, making your original goal harder to achieve.

7. Unknown territory

When heading into unknown territory, try to get information beforehand if you can. Try to find out about weather and terrain conditions, monsters you might encounter, local leaders, customs the people might have, laws of nature, laws of supernatural, etc.

8. Coffins

Donít open coffins. Only stupid people open coffins.

9. Intrusion

While (or before) trespassing through a fortress/dungeon, see if you can pick up an appropriate outfit that will allow you to blend in. Also, pay attention to the names of high-ranking personnel (again, try to find this out beforehand if possible). That way, when someone stops you and asks you what the hell youíre doing in the Inner Citadel carrying the Scepter of Urgh, youíll be able to say: "Iíve got direct orders from lord X, out of my way, you flunky." This will probably not be enough to get you out of trouble, but it should keep the guards from attacking you on the spot and thus buy you some time.

10. ĎTo doí list

Make a list of all things you are supposed to do, especially the dumb things. If you donít mention them, you will forget them. Have the list go around having rest of the team members make additions.

11. Some advice for thieves

[AD&D] If you detect traps, do NOT assume just because you have a "Remove Traps" roll after the "Detect" that you are somehow responsible for removing each and every trap. Even at medium levels, the odds of you failing your roll and being killed by a trap are high. So, let the mage spend some spells removing it. Let the fighter use his pole arm to poke around a bit. The best thief I ever ran with would go to the front of the party and say "Yep, thereís a trap here" and then promptly return to his place in back of the party.

12. Animals

Keep a sharp eye and ear on the local fauna. When something is wrong, the animals often know about it before you do. An unusually quiet forest or a flock of birds that suddenly takes off for no apparent reason could both indicate trouble. You might also want to consider getting a trained dog or another animal with senses sharper than your own.

13. Use it!

If you've got it, use it! Saving your resources 'for the real emergencies' is all very well, but when you feel you might have need of a certain item/spell/whatever, don't hesitate to use it. A lot of characters die with unused healing potions in their backpacks and unused spells on their minds. Don't let that be you.

14. Know Who Your Friends Are

Many groups fail to note who's good to deal with. Or worse, they even fail to remember who they've dealt with at all. Sometimes an old friend has just what you need, or knows who can help you - why takes risks all over again by asking favors of new contacts when you don't have to? Associates from years past don't drop off the face of the earth because you've been out of town for a while. In fact, they may have just the information you need, but you've forgotten all about them.

15. Hair

Long flowing hair (on either sex) looks good, keeps your neck (and possibly shoulders, depending on length and your taste in clothing) from being sunburned, and cushions those nasty crit hits - skull. Problem is, if a clever opponent gets close and grabs you by that hair, you're in deep trouble. Same goes for long beards. If you still insist on looking like a Viking, a punk rocker, or Weird Al Yankovic, I would suggest the following measures:

a) pre battle haircut. possibly with dagger.

b) some sort of magic spell, possibly "Retract Hair" or some such.

c) grease applied to hair to make it too slippery to hold.

d) become a character who wears a helmet, and tuck all that hair inside.

In short, GET A HAIRCUT. A short one. Even if you're female, and required by fantasy gaming law to have "midnight black"/"golden yellow" hair down to your ankles, it's better to break the law than to be one day dangled out a window by that hair.

 

 

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