Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LFR, Consumables, and You

Treasure bundles and item rarities represent two facets of the most adjusted element in recent LFR updates: treasure. I'll be looking at this issue from several angles over the next few days, but today I'm going to focus on consumables, including potions and ammunition. Until the dawning of 2011, players spent significant amounts of gold on these items, building both utility belts and arsenals for their PCs. The utility belt often included various flavors of Potions of Resistance, Regeneration, and Clarity. Rangers in particular would load of up with Dual Arrows, Freezing Arrows, and Lightning Arrows to dramatically change the tenor of a fight with a flurry of money.

The LFR Campaign Guide Version 2.0 (released 27-Jan-2011) contains updates for magic items rules. A PC still has a limit of 30 found item slots over his career, with one slot earned per experience level. Several rules pertaining to consumables immediately stand out. Per page 10 of the LFRCG, "If you don't want any of the available Treasures, you may instead find a Common or Uncommon permanent magic item of your choice from a player resource." This means players may not choose ammunition (or other consumables) as found items unless the items are specifically listed as possible Treasure. Also found on page 10 of the LFRCG, "Consumables, such as potions and ammunition, do not count as found magic items." So when a player selects a consumable as a reward, that item does NOT cost one of his 30 found item slots. The ownership limits by rarity rules (pages 11 and 12 of the LFRCG) apply to permanent items; consumables are not limited in this manner. Lastly, per page 12 of the LFRCG, a PC "...may have more than one copy of an Uncommon consumable." So a PC may freely select any consumables offered as treasure without spending found item slots, worrying about item rarity, or avoiding duplicate items. A PC may NOT, however, simply choose any consumable not explicitly listed as a possible treasure item.

Under the existing LFR Campaign Guide, only common items may be freely purchased by PCs; see page 12 of the LFRCG (first paragraph on the right-hand column), thus uncommon ammunition and potions may NOT be purchased without a story award granting access. This will severely limit both utility belts and arsenals, as PCs will slowly (or not so slowly) whittle their existing repositories away without ready means of replenishment.

So how do you monitor this situation as a DM? First, you need a general idea of what items from these categories are still freely available (see the lists at the end of this article). If PCs use or seem to have many consumable items NOT from this list, perhaps a quiet conversation after the session can resolve the issue. "Hey Fred, I couldn't help but notice you went through 11 arrows of doom in that last fight. Way to have your party's back, but what are you going to do now that you can't buy those arrows in the campaign?" It's entirely possible that players will be unaware of the rules changes pertaining to consumables; this is our chance to educate.

Second, you can remind players when you hand out xp, treasure, and story awards; it can be a simple statement: "Alright, you've earned 9,600 XP for 5,000 gp, and an item from the following; remember, if you choose to buy consumable items for future games, they must be selected from this list unless you have an unused story award stating otherwise."

Remember, it's not about being confrontational and it's very likely not about cheating; it's about being fair and educating our player base. Stay mellow and have fun - the record keeping will almost take care of itself.

* as of 19-Apr-11 there are NO common consumables

* as of 19-Apr-11 there are NO common consumables

* Potion of Eladrin Shape
* Potion of Water Walking
* Potion of Elven Fleetness
* Potion of Friendship
* Potion of Healing
* Potion of Vitality
* Potion of Recovery

* as of 19-Apr-11 there are NO common consumables

* as of 19-Apr-11 there are NO common consumables

Monday, January 3, 2011

Player Reward Cards, Part Deux

Yesterday, I described the demise of the Player Reward Card from sanctioned LFR events. A few readers pointed out my omission of Quest cards and Access cards; I'll detail those, below.

Quest cards list a number of tasks a character must accomplish to become eligible to complete particular adventures. Currently, there are two quest cards and two corresponding adventures; Zhentarim Infiltration provides access to "QUES1-1 Black Cloaks and Bitter Rivalries", and In Slumber Remains provides access to "QUES1-2 Stir not the World's Doom".

Quest cards remain in effect, although anyone can obtain access simply by printing out the cards from the WotC website. When running an LFR adventure containing a quest seed, I recommend dropping the scene in regardless of whether characters have a card in front of them. This way, you can make these events more seamless in the realms and possibly educate new players as well. I've started carrying spare copies of both cards in my DM kit to hand out for new players.

Access cards allow players to incorporate options that are not generally available for PCs; Bladelings, access to Alchemy (some time ago), access to Open Grave, etc. These cards are no longer necessary as any option detailed on a card is now a standard option for any and all PCs; that's right, you no longer need to expend a resource to be all nifty and different.

From a DMing perspective, this suggests we become more familiar with these options so that PCs don't surprise us with abilities we don't recognize. However, I admit I've found it more daunting to keep up with every option from every source; there have been a few instances where I find myself saying "You do WHAT?" Instead of advocating for DMs to possess encyclopedic knowledge of player options, I feel that, at some level, we have to trust our players to be honest and let them do their thing. I reserve the right to check someone's math, but if things seem more or less within the realm of possibility, I'm likely to run with it.

So there you have it. The only cards which have any relevance to organized play are the Quest cards, and those pose no real challenge while running LFR adventures. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Snap Out of THIS!

DM: "Oooh. The Mummy reaches out and gouges long slashes down your arm; pain radiates through your body and you feel dizzy. Take 27 points of damage and you are dazed!"

Player: "I *snap*."

DM: "Drat."

How many adventures have contained a scene like the above? Players using their precious little rewards cards to avoid being dazed, turn a 19 into a monster-ending critical hit, reroll a natural one (1) on a attack die, make a skill check they failed, etc.? Well, those days are over. As of January 1, 2011, the Player Reward Cards are no longer legal during LFR events. What does this mean for you, the DM?

There are two significant effects right off the bat. First: you don't allow the cards at your table. You can gently inform players that the cards were removed from table utilization per the latest Character Creation Guide. Second: you can expect the adventures to run much closer to the author's original vision.

A third, less obvious, consideration involves DME. Remember, it's our job as DMs to make sure adventures are fun and challenging. I frequently found that doing so at a table with six players holding a full complement of Reward Cards required a significant amount of Hit Point juggling, attack bonus tweaking, and other minute adjustments to keep things interesting.

Now, we can get back to understanding the resource usage the author had in mind for particular encounters, maintaining the pace of the story, and running the adventures. I'm looking forward to it.