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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Redding, California

    Thumbs down Ideas for the best path to Player Character Survival!!!!


    Here are some ideas about how to give your or your players PC's a better shot at survival.

    Can you share any ideas with you fellow gamers too?????

    The Family; A Strategy of support for your PC.

    In the creation of new RPG PC’s for any game you need to adopt strategies that will lead to your PC’s success in the future. If the average player tries to establish a family dynasty of successful PC’s he/she can soon have a force that will allow for a better survival rate for their favorite PC and family members.

    The Family need not all be of one class although historically in Fantasy the favored family classes are fighters, thieves (mafia), or mage stock. This strategy is not fool proof but it will allow the PC to draw other family members into the same games. These PC’s will mutually support each other over others in the group, although each will maintain their own role and role playing style. The family will have its squabbles as all families do, but even estranged family members may come through if death of the family member is the alternative.

    It is also useful when the PC is trying to find protection after making strong enemies. If the arch duke is out the kill a PC family member they may think twice it the rest of the family is in high standing or of great power in their area. You don’t kill an arch mages nephew and not expect a few years as a toad (at least) because of it.

    To those who say family means squat; I only have to point out that historically humans pass on skills throughout history. In medieval England the class system was repressing system that allowed very little moving up in society; as the family would of course want to keep skills in the family and away from other people. To control a professions access in a society is to form a monopoly of it and charge higher prices as the family works together to keep the costs of their skills high. The Free Masons may be a sample of a group of families that are trying to do just this. Keep it in the family or families to charge higher prices and gain more status.

    With a family or families joining together to form an adventuring dynasty they would try to diversify to cover a wide amount of class skill sets. The family (s) will try to cover all the classes: Fighters for melee skills, Clerics for connections with the church, Thieves for spying reconnaissance and assassination, Psionicists to gain mind powers in the family, and finally mages to use the art to further the families overall goals. The mages, clerics, and psionicists will all be in high demand for other adventuring groups as well as the family groups.. The same group can also do spell research and magic item creation to help out other family members in their careers.

    The final component you need to master as a role player will be to role play each family member that you are allowed to PC in a game session. This is difficult but hardly impossible for a moderately advanced player. How many of us have role played a missing session members PC when he is absent. Not as he/she would of course, but if you can role play 2 PC’s who says you can’t do 3 or more. Just keep in mind their makeup and skill set and you can do a lot with such a challenge.

    This strategy does not mean instant success, but if you have a cousin in your outfit in war you can be sure he will be one of the first ones by your side to help you when you are down.

    Player Character Augmentation: Psionic Endowment; Open Your Mind!!

    Another sometimes forgotten PC augmentation is the ability to gain a Wild Psionic check at the characters original creation. The extra power that it will give a non-psionic class will always be of a great surprise to those who target the PC with wild psionic talents.

    What I had always found disheartening was that such powers were so rarely granted by the dice. You could roll for a year and probably only end up with a few wild psionics. It seems that the game creators felt the same way. In late 1st edition the Dragon Magazine released an article that allowed for the use of Deryni for a PC or NPC race in the game. Part of the psionic skill set was a power known as Psionic Endowment that would activate a set of wild psionics in a PC after their original creation.

    As the game evolved the Psionicist Class came about and once again the games creators at the time made sure that there was a way to activate a PC with latent psionic potential. This time the psionic power was set in a class of psionics known as Meta-Psionics in the science known as Psychic Surgery. This once again releases the potentially psionic PC’s latent talent in the form of a Wild Psionics which are randomly rolled for.
    Within the science it is labeled as a Special Operation, but it is not listed as an Optional rule although psionics in general may be considered as such by individual DM’s. This means that is games where psionics are a part of the play, and that this skill would conceivably be granted to high level psionicists.

    As with all people these NPC’s should be motivated by money, so if the PC can afford to spend a large sum many of such psionicists would be willing to grant the Surgery for those that they find to be acceptable candidates, which may be a personality and alignments type of choice. Also if you have a Psionicist in the family the PC might have access to the power through such relationships.

    There is a whole group of psionic creatures in the game so I have always felt it was an integral part of the game. There are races like the illithid that have an entire society based on the use of psionics that they use to enslave lesser races as servants and as food sources in their society. I think that some of these societies might have some recourse to the fact that certain birth abnormalities occur from time to time. The illithid society might have off spring occasionally had innate potential to become psionic but have failed to manifest their powers. They would create a device that could activate their latent psionic skills. Though there are Psionicist Illithids they may not be common for a society that has innate powers. For those who don’t have access to such and individual I think they would create a device that would be able to activate latent psionic powers in their offspring.

    I also think that is theoretically possible to use such a device to activate latent psionic talent by the same means. This device might look something like the one below.

    Headband of Psionic Endowment: (made of 12 1” squares of ultra illithid skull connected with wires of the purest mithril and each etched with an adamantine rune of power. Each square also has alexandrite gemstones of the finest quality of the stones worth 500gp each. These stones are attuned to grant luck and favor so the device can successfully endow the wearer with Psychic Surgery. The device allows the device wearer to unleash any psionic potential that the PC might latently possess. Even if the PC fails the first wild talent roll they may use the device once per year until they acquire the mind powers later in their career. This power is manifested as a bright white glow that pulsates as the Psychic surgery procedure takes place. The PC is entirely debilitated for 24 hours after the procedure as they become comatose after the 15 minute procedure takes place.

    Value: 55,000 gp Experience Value: 7,000

    What ideas can you offer the up and coming gamers out there to help their player characters better survive that nasty ol' DM.

    Oh wait thats me!!


    The riddle of steel???

    Pass on the ideas to the next generation!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Redding, California
    Old 2nd Edition Material Here

    Try this one on for size!!

    Martial Arts For All!!!!

    Here is another one for gamers that can use an edge for their PC’s at creation.

    It is for those DM’s and gamers that are able to handle the game balance issues and work out the role playing issues that should arise in the implementation of the idea.

    The next idea is to use the full range of rules (and yes DM input) to access a very valuable proficiency set that is usually only open to the oriental cultures. I would like to first say that you will need to have part of your characters pre-adventuring career be spent in such a campaign that allows the use of “Marital Arts”.

    Maybe your character started life with a barfly mother and one of her acquaintances was a master in the Drunken style of martial arts. Though the Drunken master eventually leaves his mother and him 7 or 8 years later, the new PC still retains the skill for use later. This is a type of juicy role playing idea that many favor having gamers play out with the PC on a daily basis.

    Can your game handle the idea??

    When he enters his adventuring years he drifts to the west and take up a career as a thief, and these added skill make him more likely to succeed!

    NO the player doesn’t get all those nifty powers that are too much for many peoples games in any case (unless he is a martial artist or monk of course). He just gets the basic number of attacks, damage, and armor class base.

    At the cost of a lowly weapon proficiency the new PC would be able to access powers that will greatly increase their survivability. With the Karate martial arts form you gain 3/1 attacks for 1-6 damage and are AC8. They are not class specific so any class can gain the skill, (unless the DM “Stomps” the idea). The rules don’t prohibit the use of the weapon proficiency for the Wu Jen so you can extrapolate that the class is available to the mage class also. All other classes have access to it, fighters as a matter of course, thieves through ninja or yakuza connections, and clerics are naturals also because of the Monk connections to martial arts.

    Now if you mage is starting out and you have one slot for a staff, dart, or dagger why not take Karate and break some of your fellow apprentices noses when they get lippy about your mom!


    Another fine augmentation for the beginners is to know of the idea of using their bonus languages granted by INT as proficiency slots. The idea was discussed in older Dragon Magazines and while it never made it onto the books per se, I know from other forums out there that is had made the transition as a HOUSE RULE in some peoples games. There is discussion whether these bonus proficiencies can be used as weapon proficiencies or are limited to the non weapon proficiencies, but You as DM can decide how it best fits into your game.

    Some of the best proficiencies that I use are rather costly and you have to get some off the net, but here are a few that I look to gain each time that I start characters!!

    Alchemy: A real must for those who want to Keep What they Kill!! You kill a monster it might be good to have proficiency access to direct knowledge of valuable materials from the corpse. Also use of thrown and creation of potions in the game is a great early augmentation. (There is also a class that really amps up this proficiency!!

    Chemistry: Like the above mentioned proficiency there is a plethora of uses for this type of skill. If you took Chem 101 you know that the use of very powerful acids, some alkali metals, and a number of chemical based materials (like gun powder/nitro) will lend a very great edge to the newer PC’s. The later two materials that I have mentioned was done out of a reflection that someone will post them later in response to this post. They ARE NOT available to Lv 1 PC’s but I wanted to say that I think that acids are and that the other materials might be accessible later in the PC life. That is if he/she survive the experimentation phase!!

    Blind Fighting: If you go a delving into dungeons on a regular basis this one is a must!!

    Iaijutsu/Quick Draw: These are techniques of a non weapon variety that will allow you to quick draw your weapon.

    Conceal Somantics: A great one for mages in open society. They conceal their “S” components/movements so that they are not very visible. Big Sleeves are back in this year for mages I hear!!

    Aleph Magic Language Proficiencies: In 3rd ++ they use skill for this but these series of proficiencies created in the “Official” College of Wizardry module are able to gain bonuses to Range, Duration, Area of Affect, etc… Like meta magic but it can be used all he time.

    Power Manipulation: This is a must for every Psionic out there!! It allows the PC to tap into the Power Score Abilities that are detailed in every Psionic science/devotion. A really nice bonus!!

    Rope Use: You never know when being able to lasso something will come in handy!!

    Reading Lips: This can be very useful for thieves with a spy glass! Never know what you might learn!!

    Tumbling: I have expanded its use to all classes, for I have always loved the idea of having my PC being raised in a circus and this is a great augmentation to any class. Leaping about as a fighter can have deadly consequences. As a mage it can leave your audience rolling on the ground in uncontrollable laughter. Used with a martial arts weapon proficiency and you are more like Kwai Chang Kane!!

    Here are a few more off the net or out of Dragon Magazines!!

    Dirty Fighting: Tired of being fair in combat, does that paladin really chafe your style??? Try this little beauty. It is a license for cheap shots and dirty tricks. Dragon Magazine Dec 1998.

    Magical Energy Conservation: (Same Article as above) Allows the casting of magic cantrips/orisons with left over magic energy or residues. I really like to get the drunk guy in the party by turning things around him pink from time to time!

    Quick Tongue: (Same Article) Allows for faster casting times by talking like that guy in certain commercials does. C/T of spells reduced by 2 (1 minimum)

    There are dozens and dozens of other choices that are just as good.

    As you can see having the ability to access added proficiencies will lend your new PC an added boost in their early career!!


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Redding, California

    Almost all early role players know the old combat arrangement of Fighters and Clerics in front Mages in back and Thieves a skulking around the edges of any melee. I want to offer a few ideas that have served me well over the years with a number of DM’s that I have played with over the years.

    I have no idea how your DM will see them but I can assure you that they are as old as dinosaur poo and I should know.

    Anyone for DARTS?????

    One strategy for the low level players that I have to offer is a weapon selection that is played very infrequently, and though the damage is minimal the idea of getting 3 hits a round will more than make up for it.

    The lowly dart allows even mages to fire off 3 of these beauties in a round with a weapons speed factor of 2. Each one with the potential of making a crit. (yes I know or a fumble). They only inflict 1-3/1-2 but they more than make up for it by allowing more than 1 hit per round and by messing up spell casters. A long sword does 1-8 and allows only one hit per round at 1st lvl (3/2 with specialization). At best you do 1-8, with darts that is 3-9 and you can do part damage if you fail on one or two rolls. You miss with the sword and you miss period.

    Now the range isn’t huge but with a STR bonus (as I have stated in house rules with a bonus of 5’ per STR +) the range can be generous. The idea here is to keep up a rate of fire that keeps the enemies you might face are busy dodging these annoying stingers when they try to close with the party.

    If a fighter were to take weapon specialization with the Darts they get either +1 to hit and +2 to damage with a bonus dart per round or with double specialization they get +3/+3. Plus you can add in that STR bonus to damage, and you can inflict with a minimal STR of 17 and normal specialization you get darts doing 4-6 per round with 4 shots per round. This is a lot more than a 1st level short sword wielder in a round, with three times the chance to crit the targets. Plus it is ranged and the hurler can remain almost out of harms way.
    If you go in for the grand master bit, you can see what this leads too.

    So what if you mage or thief looks like Pancho Via with all those bandoliers, think of how dashing he looks for the ladies!!

    Burn Baby Burn!!!

    Another combat oriented strategy that I have played over the years is a simple as fire. The idea of using flasks of oil is one of the main reasons that a lot of my PC’s and players have lived through situations that would kill many others. It isn’t a new idea but I believe that it has fallen out of favor and deserves the press about its usefulness to keep new players alive.

    The oil does 2-12 on round 1, and 1-6 on round 2 in a 10’ diameter, but it isn’t simply a damage potential (although that shouldn’t be discounted either)that dictates how useful that this item can be to a low level PC. The path in that 10’ diameter area is occupied by flames for that 2 rounds and can limit pursuit, visibility, and missile fire in that area of affect.

    The text states (on page 100) that the oil might take two rolls, but my DM’s (may they live forever) have been very understanding about the ideas of the Molotav Cocktail and cloth wicks. The idea that the flask can be hurled with such a connection has been a proven combat idea that the Germans really hated in street warfare in Russia. You PC’s should borrow this idea for their survival.

    Flasks of oil for lanterns cost 6cp each (page 67), and even if your DM makes you buy special oil it shouldn’t be more than 1sp each. If he makes you pay the extra price petition your DM for another die of damage and round of duration. (3d6 round 1, 2d6, then 1d6).

    I have two added bits of information that will make the use of oil much smarter than if you just carry around open flame and a bunch of flasks in a pouch.

    1) Punks. (No not that type). All of use have lit off fireworks in our days of youth (well maybe not just youth) and some of us used a lighting device known as a punk. The pirates of the old days had punks that they would use to light their cannons off attached to poles. There is a variation that is rope-like in nature. It is similar to the lighting wick on a matchlock rifle and is an item that should be available in a fantasy setting.. We always had 5’ rope punks that could be lit with flint and tinder.

    (Old Blackbeard once put a bunch of cannon fuses in his hair for the affect, these can light the cloth wicks of oil flasks) (yes I know they had sulfur/gun powder in the fuses).

    2) The other part of oil use is to prevent being soaked in the stuff. I always hired a local carpenter to create a wooded box with compartments that were heavily reinforced to prevent accidental breakage and the possible fiery consequences. There is a closable top lid and a very solid bottom of wood also to keep them from falling out or breaking inadvertently. My DM used to charge me 5 sp for a really good one. Each box went into a pouch, with 6 potions to a pouch. The final idea of the wood reinforced pouch was that if the blow could break the pouch container then you were probably dead from the blow anyway.

    Okay you can carry 2 or maybe 3 pouches which gives you 2-12 or 3-18 shots. That is a heck of a lot of damage for a level 1 character. You spend (with the 18 flask variation) 90 copper (less than a silver); 5 coppers for a proper punk or three, 2 or 3 coppers for the canvas/skin pouches, and 15 silver for the boxes. For less than 2 gold points the player is set for a lot of heavy action. Now how much are the darts?? (5 sp each) What a bargain!!

    Now to the tactics end of it.

    You can’t just go around willy nilly hurling oil every direction there is a threat coming from. Some of your fellow adventurers are going to get a little warm if you do. You NEED to tell your DM that you are practice tactics for oil use.

    (Constricting access to a location, fighting formations to prevent accidents, and also practice a fighting retreat).

    Constricting or limiting a foes access to the party can be important especially in the outdoors. The party can usually find some cover or limiting terrain, but it can be very useful to place fires at strategic point that drive your enemy into a much narrower attacking front. You might not to need to aim as much if 20 or 30 orcs are charging through a 10’ gap, but if your party of 6 is back to back in the open, you can bet it could be a long day, especially if they have missile weapons (and they will)!

    Choose a fighting formation that you plan to use in underground, indoor, city, open outdoors, and limited front and role play it so the DM believes that you are always ready to use it. It will save your players and PC’s lives!! (Any military feel free to chime in on the formational issues).

    Oil can be especially effective in a fighting retreat in constricted quarters especially. You can live to fight another day by delaying your enemy while you withdraw, and possibly take your wounded with you.

    A couple of other issues and warnings!!

    *Note that air can be fouled with oil fumes, so watch its use in dungeon settings (your DM is grinning evilly!).

    *Visibility can be limited by the smoke of oil fires, which can be a boon vs enemy missile fire, but a bane to your outgoing as you could hit a friendly or just plain miss because of the smoke or heat refraction. (You know DM judged issues).

    I may come up with more later on oil use, and I will add it to this post.
    This idea has kept a large number of my higher level characters alive at their early stages, and I think that it can help you in the game too.


    I also want to add a little used item that I find invaluable in buying time for characters to flee in combat

    The Lowly Caltrop!!

    I don't think this one needs as big a write up as the others, but I do think that it is worth mentioning them. They slow down persuit of a mounted or unmounted nature. They can be in a bag that you reach into when running (DEX check I know) and toss them on the ground behind you. You don't need to make it obvious either when you do spread them about.

    I low light it can be a big advantage, and will slow down all but mass persuits!!

    What do you offer for advice to your gamers?????

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