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    Default Is this right to do as a DM?

    Now given that winter is coming and me and my mate can't exactly keep walking around the city when it's dark and snowy out I'm thinking of booting up a campaign for the two of us.

    My current plan is to base it on "Mana khemia alchemists of al-revis" which is a game I've been watching let's plays of recently.

    It's likely going to be just the two of us, but I'm running into a sleight ethical problem. There's only going to be two players, and it's her first 3.5 game so I'm thinking of making her a basic fighter and myself a healer (so she does all the combat work while I'm just support), however since I'm basing the campaign off of Flay's story. The Healer will be a senior (Given a senior who has failed endless times due to never studying), while the fighter is a freshman.

    Is it right for me to say, start the Healer at level 6, while starting the fighter at level 4. Given their difference in years. Normally I'd say no if it was anything except for a healer, but this is a healer, a tier 5 class whose every other action is going to be "Cure moderate wounds".

    So is this right given it has a plot reason and won't snap the game in any way?

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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    The question here is whether it will be fun for both you and your PC. Personally, I like to make any supporting NPCs weaker than the PCs, so that they have to rely on their own skills and thinking to make their way through the challenges. Just because this healer is a senior doesn't mean that he's necessarily higher-leveled. In fact, if he's older, perhaps he's frail and not that useful in combat anyways.

    In order to maximize fun, I'd typically make the player characters stronger by a reasonable amount than any NPCs in their party. And really, making sure you both have fun is the real goal here.
    Last edited by blazinghand; 2012-10-07 at 07:03 PM.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by blazinghand View Post
    The question here is whether it will be fun for both you and your PC. Personally, I like to make any supporting NPCs weaker than the PCs, so that they have to rely on their own skills and thinking to make their way through the challenges. Just because this healer is a senior doesn't mean that he's necessarily higher-leveled. In fact, if he's older, perhaps he's frail and not that useful in combat anyways.

    In order to maximize fun, I'd typically make the player characters stronger by a reasonable amount than any NPCs in their party. And really, making sure you both have fun is the real goal here.
    I'm not sure whether it will be fun. She'll probably enjoy it, she's easy enough to please.

    Mana khemia alchemists of al-revis takes place at a boarding school. So I don't think he'd be exactly "Frail". They're teenagers.

    Granted for a healer he's going to be extremely hammy. Since Flay's story is about being a superhero.

    Hmm...I don't want to start the game's level too high, it won't make sense for a freshman to be like level 10.

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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    It sounds to me like it's going to be the way you play the character more than the level they're at that makes the difference. I'm in a long-running D&D campaign (almost at the end of our fourth year) and in that time, we've had npc's with us who were higher and lower level than our party. We had a paladin npc with us who was a higher level than the rest of us when he joined our group (he stayed with us for about a year in-and-out of game time)... of course, we leveled up far faster than he did, so by the time we left him, we were about two levels higher than him. But he didn't hinder us, or our ability to be the heroes in any way. In fact, on one occasion, he was the reason we got in trouble in the first place!

    I don't think there'd be anything wrong with your idea as long as you're careful about the way you play the character, and it already sounds like you've got the idea that you want this person to be support only, so it doesn't sound like you've got too much to worry about.


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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Just be wary of the DMPC. Many threads have risen to discuss it, and you can surely find some with a simple Google search.

    Since it's her first time playing, it'll probably be tempting to let the Healer guide her actions. It might be a better idea to let her interact with the world herself, and function as the "leader" of the duo, especially if you can get her engaged with the game (probably by having the Healer scared of obstacles, hiding behind her, or generally freaking/flaking out and asking for her guidance. Bonus points if she thinks that's cute or funny).

    If you run marathon-combat (lots and lots of fights/damage in 1 day), it could help for the DMPC to have or get a Wand of CLW/Lesser Vigor in case he blows through all his spells, but Fighter still needs heals.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    I wouldn't be too worried about it, but you do need to be careful not to use the character to direct the game too much.
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    Moments like this make me happy that I play middle-aged men fighters.

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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    I wouldn't be too worried about it, but you do need to be careful not to use the character to direct the game too much.
    Good point. Sadly there kinda has to be a DMPC seeing how unless someone else decides to randomly join out of nowhere there's only going to be two people.

    Edit: Luckily I basically can railroad her whenever I want. "The teacher wants you to make a potion of cure light wounds gather these 3 items from the forest, mountain, and desert."

    Assuming she actually wants to do the school work.
    Last edited by Morithias; 2012-10-08 at 01:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    I'm honestly more concerned about your saddling her with fighter than any level discrepency. Fighter is incredibly swingy in terms of usefulness and ability depending on how its built. I'd rather strongly suggest one of the other fighter archetypes; barbarian, ranger, paladin, knight, hexblade, samurai, or swashbuckler. They're all much more stable in ability and aren't as prone to giving newbs option-overload. If complexity isn't an issue then fighter's okay, but you might also consider one of the martial adepts or a duskblade as they tend to be a bit flashier.

    on topic: given that a healer can't actually attack the enemies, IIRC, the level difference shouldn't matter at all, especially if she never knows about it. ECL is a metagame construct that the characters shouldn't know anything about in-character.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    I'm honestly more concerned about your saddling her with fighter than any level discrepency. Fighter is incredibly swingy in terms of usefulness and ability depending on how its built. I'd rather strongly suggest one of the other fighter archetypes; barbarian, ranger, paladin, knight, hexblade, samurai, or swashbuckler. They're all much more stable in ability and aren't as prone to giving newbs option-overload. If complexity isn't an issue then fighter's okay, but you might also consider one of the martial adepts or a duskblade as they tend to be a bit flashier.

    on topic: given that a healer can't actually attack the enemies, IIRC, the level difference shouldn't matter at all, especially if she never knows about it. ECL is a metagame construct that the characters shouldn't know anything about in-character.
    Healers (Miniature's handbook) can't attack enemies? I didn't know that.

    I'll talk to her and see what exactly she wants to do. The main reason I want to do fighter is it's the most simple class, although swashbuckler is probably a good idea now that I think about it.

    I want to avoid spells. Maybe it's just me, but I hate doing all that bookkeeping, at least with businesses and profit checks you can punch it all into a spreadsheet, managing a spellbook is so complex and we'll have an hour and a half a week at most.

    This is also her first game, so I'm trying to keep it simple. Crafting items won't be any math it'll be "find the recipe, find the items, throw it in a pot" type thing.

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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    Healers (Miniature's handbook) can't attack enemies? I didn't know that.

    I'll talk to her and see what exactly she wants to do. The main reason I want to do fighter is it's the most simple class, although swashbuckler is probably a good idea now that I think about it.

    I want to avoid spells. Maybe it's just me, but I hate doing all that bookkeeping, at least with businesses and profit checks you can punch it all into a spreadsheet, managing a spellbook is so complex and we'll have an hour and a half a week at most.

    This is also her first game, so I'm trying to keep it simple. Crafting items won't be any math it'll be "find the recipe, find the items, throw it in a pot" type thing.
    Just checked, I misremembered the healers CoC, they can't wear metal armor and they're only proficient with light to begin with, but they can attack enemies just fine. My bad.

    Fighter is many things, but simple ain't one of 'em. It merely gives the impression of simplicity with its tiny, half-page class description. The sheer number of options it has combined with their multitude of interactions makes putting one together far more daunting than it first appears unless you're pretty limited in available sourcebooks.

    I'd strongly suggest using literally any of the others I listed before my complexity comment. Bear in mind that both paladin and ranger come in non-casting versions. I guess hexblade is out though.

    I don't know your old-lady but I'd bet swashbuckler or knight might fit the bill. Swashbucklers get that whole daring rennaisance era fencer vibe and knights are, well, knights. Both do way better in coolness points than overall ability though. Barbarian is, by a fair margin, the most optimal choice, but that probably isn't a major concern. The rest fall somewhere in between.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2012-10-08 at 03:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Just checked, I misremembered the healers CoC, they can't wear metal armor and they're only proficient with light to begin with, but they can attack enemies just fine. My bad.

    Fighter is many things, but simple ain't one of 'em. It merely gives the impression of simplicity with its tiny, half-page class description. The sheer number of options it has combined with their multitude of interactions makes putting one together far more daunting than it first appears unless you're pretty limited in available sourcebooks.

    I'd strongly suggest using literally any of the others I listed before my complexity comment. Bear in mind that both paladin and ranger come in non-casting versions. I guess hexblade is out though.

    I don't know your old-lady but I'd bet swashbuckler or knight might fit the bill. Swashbucklers get that whole daring rennaisance era fencer vibe and knights are, well, knights. Both do way better in coolness points than overall ability though. Barbarian is, by a fair margin, the most optimal choice, but that probably isn't a major concern. The rest fall somewhere in between.
    I will talk to her and see what her opinion on this is.Thanks for your insight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    Edit: Luckily I basically can railroad her whenever I want. "The teacher wants you to make a potion of cure light wounds gather these 3 items from the forest, mountain, and desert."
    This would be what I was specifically warning against. My entire point was that a DMPC can lead to railroading, which is to be avoided.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    This would be what I was specifically warning against. My entire point was that a DMPC can lead to railroading, which is to be avoided.
    Except the DMPC is a fellow student. I was just saying this campaign will be easy to keep on track.

    Seriously a teacher giving a student an assignment is bad? Geeze. Someone needs to make a harry potter darths and droids style campaign, where the players complain when the teachers tell them important facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    Seriously a teacher giving a student an assignment is bad? Geeze. Someone needs to make a harry potter darths and droids style campaign, where the players complain when the teachers tell them important facts.
    When your rationale is "Luckily I can basically railroad her wherever I want", yes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    Except the DMPC is a fellow student. I was just saying this campaign will be easy to keep on track.

    Seriously a teacher giving a student an assignment is bad? Geeze. Someone needs to make a harry potter darths and droids style campaign, where the players complain when the teachers tell them important facts.
    the prefered result is not railroading, the prefered result is "Go find this potion" *Trips over BBEG's plot critical artifact*


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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    This would be what I was specifically warning against. My entire point was that a DMPC can lead to railroading, which is to be avoided.
    That's assigning a quest, not railroading.

    Level 6 support should be fine, especially since, as you mentioned, you won't be able to do anything but cast healing and support spells.

    I highly suggest a Warblade instead of a fighter, though. It's a bit more complex to get the hang of, but will be MUCH more rewarding to play.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I highly suggest a Warblade instead of a fighter, though. It's a bit more complex to get the hang of, but will be MUCH more rewarding to play.
    A warblade....hmm well she did start out on 4th edition and I'm basically taking her to 3rd edition since it's what my group plays... unfortunately, I don't know much about the tomb of battle. I suppose I'll have to teach myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    A warblade....hmm well she did start out on 4th edition and I'm basically taking her to 3rd edition since it's what my group plays... unfortunately, I don't know much about the tomb of battle. I suppose I'll have to teach myself.
    It's generally pretty basic. The key is to find the maneuver cards on WotC's site, print the ones you need, and just take advantage of their existence rather than clumsily imitating a system that works best with cards with dice instead. Plus, the 4e-3e and 3e-4e switch isn't exactly a difficult one. They're different systems, sure, but the settings are similar, the core mechanics are similar, and there are generally a lot of similarities that prevent needing a whole new learning curve.
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    Default Re: Is this right to do as a DM?

    The Warblade is also the simplest ToB class to play, IMO - not a huge number of maneuvers, and the refresh mechanism is very straightforward. If she's played a 4E Fighter, she can handle it.

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