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.