A Ring of Steel
Ring of Steel
We Don't Grow Stupid Troopers!
1. The 10 ft
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.
are a must!!! Unless your DM just kills you and doesnít do
unconsciousness or bleeding to death.
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.
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.
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.
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
7. Piano Wire
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
Paper and pen
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
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
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...
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.
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...
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
5. Evil alters
leap on the, actively used, altar to the Evil God to get a better swing
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With all the
combat skills to pick from, itís often easy to overlook the more
unobtrusive ones. Donít forget skills like swimming, riding and
All Bloodstone trained elites can read and write common and their native
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).
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
it may seem, sometimes your odds are better if you donít try to create
an all-powerful character. There are several reasons for this:
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
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.
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.
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..
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..
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
afraid to ask for the moon. The other party may have no use for it.
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
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.))
something waterproof to keep your maps and other papery stuff in.
4. Stuff to
Jungle: insect net, poison antidote,
machete, and portable boat.
Desert: water, white clothing,
water, compass, water, camels and water, warm clothes (it gets COLD at
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
1. Keeping your
Polish mine detector alive
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.
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:
any character with stealth.
warriors, preferably with distance weapons
warriors again or other
characters with at least a little bit of combat power.
3. Splitting up
Priests of the Fist