Latest Post

Dungeons and Dragons, The Fatal Flaw

... or how to ensure a fun game, and not kill your DM through overwork.

I've been requested by The First Patron to make some more Dungeons and Dragons content, and seeing as how he has single-handedly put paintbrushes in the hands of young players, I see no reason not to oblige.

You too can have this poor teacher write at your command with a quick trip over to Patreon!

This is a really good tip for both new and middling players, particularly those who are over the min-max phase and wondering what to do next. We've all been in the situation where we've created a character to be the perfect spell-slinger or swordsman, and have gotten bored of the whole concept.

Perfect characters tend to become dull after that first combat where you rain destruction on all in sight. Unlike MMOs and video games, there's no real reward for efficiently grinding through hordes of mobs in DnD. All that happens is the DM has to work harder to research and write more stuff to throw at you.

So what you need is a Fatal Flaw.

I don't mean the ones listed in the Players Handbook, although there are a few that are good in there. These are flaws that are meant to put you in harms way, to get your character into dangerous situations.

Players, particularly more mature ones, tend to be more risk averse than your stereotypical adventurer. It's not through any lack of courage, but really a product of common sense and logical approaches to combat. You're not going to just charge in to a situation and hope for the best, even if you're a Barbarian. You're going to save your Rage for the perfect moment, and get the most out of it on the Big Bad boss.

Whilst this is smart game play, it's very much of the efficient mob grinding mind set. Most of the best literature characters aren't brilliant tacticians planning out every move. If you think about Captain Jack Sparrow, a lot of his great feats come about as an accident rather than any planning.

It's also somewhat frustrating for the DM. After putting together a great puzzle of a combat, only to have players nearly skip the whole thing through some clever action, means that all the time they spent dreaming up the encounter is wasted. Players have also cheated themselves out of an opportunity to experience a really fun combat.

So get a Fatal Flaw that will prevent you from stalling the story of the game to discuss strategy.

Recently I've been playing a Sorcerer (although it's been a really long time since the last session). I usually play something much more utility based like a Bard or Rogue, but I decided to roll up a Wild magic Sorcerer, purely on impulse. And that was the Fatal Flaw I gave him. He's impulsive.

When he first joined the group, he (very stupidly) decided to follow the rogue as he stealthily scouted the next cavern along. Of course, he failed his stealth check, alerting a gnoll leader infused with demonic energies to their presence!

As the great beast charged them, rather than being sensible and retreating, the Sorcerer got to his feet and yelled that they didn't want any trouble... again, a decision made on impulse. It didn't work, and the demon gnoll got all the way across the room to them, at which point my Sorcerer just levelled his staff and blasted him with a Chromatic Orb.

It wasn't enough to stop the gnoll, and the monster bit down hard on my character, taking him all the way down to 1HP!

The fight was on!

The combat that followed was chaotic, with hasty battle lines being formed, and the party banding together to keep the Sorcerer alive. The Barbarian came charging in and the Rogue did some sneaky chicanery, all now reacting as best they could to an unexpected situation.

A well timed Shocking Grasp saved the Sorcerer and another Chromatic Orb blasted the creature apart. The great thing about it, was that the resulting Wild Magic surge healed up my Sorcerer back to full fighting strength!

The sorcerer (if I ever get to play again... stupid school schedule), will eventually become something akin to a Sorcerer of Tzeentch, with barely controlled magic and constant change, but that situation only occurred because my character was himself impulsive. I'm not saying jump into danger all the time, but find an excuse to get your character to actually experience the game.

Fun drama doesn't happen from a well executed strategy, although there is a great deal of satisfaction in that. The very best films and stories only get interesting once something goes wrong. Imagine Jurassic Park if the dinosaurs never got out of their cages. Imagine Star Wars if Princess Leia got the Death Star plans to the Rebels without getting caught by Darth Vader. Think how boring that would be.

You are going to hear stories about how a whole party got wiped out because they made some stupid mistake, or they got on to the boat, or forgot to bring bludgeoning weapons to an Undead fight. But here's the thing... you've heard about those stories. You very rarely get the story about how you spent half an hour talking about how to kill that pack of goblins in the forest, and ended it in one turn. There's no danger, no drama, and no fun in that.

So pick a Fatal Flaw. Greed, pride, impulsiveness, vanity... all these things can get you into sticky situations, that can be heaps of fun to get out of.

Until next time!

Thanks for reading.

If you liked what you saw, and you want to help out, please leave a comment. Sharing this with your friends, and following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ would also be hugely appreciated.

If you have anything you want me to look at, let me know in the comments below. I'll probably be able to write an article about that topic within a day!

If you really love what I do here, you can make a one off donation at my PayPal, or become a true hero to table top education and make a regular donation to my Patreon. Every Little helps!


Popular posts from this blog

Primaris Space Marine Paint Planner

The Philosophy of Ork Kulture

New Female Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard Kit?