Dungeon Master Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Dungeon Master RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Using Monster Hunter World to Create Better Combat in Dungeons and Dragons https://www.gameskinny.com/szt1d/using-monster-hunter-world-to-create-better-combat-in-dungeons-and-dragons https://www.gameskinny.com/szt1d/using-monster-hunter-world-to-create-better-combat-in-dungeons-and-dragons Fri, 09 Feb 2018 16:03:12 -0500 Alex Tharp

Quick, describe the last combat encounter you ran during a session of Dungeons and Dragons! If you can't describe anything other than the enemies and general vicinity the fight took place in, then there's a problem. Fortunately, Monster Hunter: World has the solution.

Not only does Monster Hunter World have memorable environments, but it also has tightly designed battlefields. Those intricate designs, both of battlefields and monsters, have much to teach an aspiring Dungeon Master. So, what does this game's design have that your game might not?

Interesting choices.

Dice of all sizes and sides add RNG to D&D

Decisions, Decisions

In D&D, every turn brings a choice. Which spell should I use, whom should I heal, what monster should I take down first? Choices like these are inherent to every battle. The designers of the game gave players choices during combat because choices are what make those encounters fun to play.

But what makes a good choice? Obviously, a choice is a selection between multiple options, but it isn't meaningful if the options aren't different enough or if there is a clear, correct answer. That may seem obvious, but it reveals a weakness in the design of D&D combat.

Take for example the fighter class. If a fighter must choose a weapon to fight with, then it is a simple numbers game of whichever hits hardest. There is a clear, correct answer. The decision to either hit a monster with a sword or run away is also a numbers game. If you can survive another round, then attack; if you cannot, then flee. Simple. Number games which masquerade as choices don't make a combat encounter any more entertaining.

Now let's look at the wizard class. A wizard can pick between damage or utility spells during battle. Is it worth giving up a Fireball in order to try to stun multiple enemies? Will a Wall of Force create a tactical advantage that is more useful than defending someone with Mirror Image? These decisions are much more varied and unclear, thus making for engaging combat.

Nonetheless, the decisions a wizard must make during battle are usually the same. The wizard decides between the same, limited amount of spells they know. To make the problem worse, many spells are situational. A singular use for all spells can make a wizard's choice into a number game, which is no fun.

Clearly then, the question of how to make a good combat encounter becomes "How do I create interesting choices during combat for all my players?" Here, Monster Hunter World has answers aplenty.

Scenes like this one from MH:W can play out in your D&D games

Monster Hunter: World of Choices

Monster Hunter World also has inherent choices in its combat system. This time, however, the choices the designers baked into the game are only the start. After all, a riveting combat encounter needs more choices than just "Should I use the lance or the long sword?" Monster Hunter World knows that and creates choices using more than just the base combat system.

Because Monster Hunter World acts in real time, unlike D&D, it can be hard to identify the choices this game gives its players. It can be even trickier because of the denseness of its terrain. But with experience, any eagle-eyed hunter can spot them during the heat of battle. So, where to look for these choices?

Find a choice croaking in the mud. Spy one flitting about in a cave, flashing with light. Cut another one to the ground and watch it spill across the jungle floor. The choices have been scattered across the terrain by wily designers, just like they should be in your game.

The genius of the battlefields in Monster Hunter World is that there are other agents acting in any given battle other than the players and their target. Paratoads can pop up from the mud, giving you the opportunity to paralyze the monster. You can spill the venom from basin-like plants and lure the monster into it. 

You can trade a few moments' worth of attacks for the attempt to lead a monster into a vine trap. Or take the time you would spend hitting it with an oversized weapon to run up a tree and try to mount the beast. Is it worth getting mired in the muck to avoid an attack, or should you brace yourself and maintain your position? A choice was made, and the game becomes a little more interesting.

When a player makes a decision, they take ownership of the battle they are in. The hunter becomes engaged, and the frenetic energy of Monster Hunter World is at its peak when a player carries out their well-laid plans -- even if that well-laid plan ends with you getting caught by an errant sleeptoad and being trampled to death as you snooze helplessly on the ground.

These figurines aren't too unlike combatants in Monster Hunter World

Crafting Combat Choices for D&D

Monster Hunter World is rife with choices, but it is limited by technology. Dungeons and Dragons has no limit, and that's the appeal. Anything the devious Dungeon Master can think up can happen in the game. That means that any DM can learn from Monster Hunter World and make combat encounters that are twice as fun!

To do this, you could theoretically rip these elements straight from Monster Hunter World. Create paratoads and sporepuffs which inflict status effects on creatures in their areas of effect. Put boulders hanging from vines, and let your players ready an action to break the vine when an enemy passes by. 

While that is all fine and dandy, and likely already an improvement in your combat encounters, a creative DM can go even further! Introduce a swinging rope bridge between the party and the enemies, and let your players cut enough rope from the sides to collapse the whole thing and send those orcs hurtling downwards. Put a chest of gold on the other side with the orcs, and make the players think twice about taking the easy way out by cutting the bridge.

Another example might be to fill a cave with difficult terrain and thick stalactites, then introduce a creature of high mobility, unbothered by the difficult terrain. Desperate for footing, the players might risk a collapse by knocking down stalactites to create navigable terrain. 

Your options as a DM are limitless. Utilize traps to change the terrain of the battlefield. Let players notice them before combat and perhaps use them to their own advantage. Create creatures and plants that can change the battlefield or that can even be persuaded to actively aid any creature that they choose. Give the players more opportunities for choice than what is already on their character sheets.

Oh, and one last thing to really spice up your combat encounters? Remember that even the players' enemies can take those opportunities if they're clever.

Have more to add? Want to share your favorite combat tricks? Leave a comment below!

Sword Coast Legends sees its first community pack update https://www.gameskinny.com/au5t9/sword-coast-legends-sees-its-first-community-pack-update https://www.gameskinny.com/au5t9/sword-coast-legends-sees-its-first-community-pack-update Fri, 13 Nov 2015 21:00:53 -0500 John Adamczyk

After a less-than-stellar release, Sword Coast Legends is hoping to make amends with a series of community packs that are meant to improve the game.

The first update hit today, and we have patch notes right here. It's definitely not everything the game needs, but the amount of content the developers are offering so soon after release is a promising sign of things to come. Highlights include:

Unlockable Companion Skill Trees

Your NPC companions have unique skill trees that are unavailable to your character. A little unfortunate if you wanted to, say, play a necromancer, since only your necromancer friend could use those abilities. Luckily, whenever you complete an NPC's story quest, you'll get access to their skill tree. With the talent trees having felt a little sparse, this is great news.

New Monster Abilities

Not for the main campaign, rather, for the game's Dungeon Master mode. The unfortunately limited monster customization process is getting some much-needed love, including over 100 monster abilities that can be applied to any monster of the DM's choosing.

New DM Items: 

170 "nature objects" have been added to the map editor. Trees, shrubs, and other things that will help players spruce up the terrain and give it some life. Of course, more doodads for DMs to toy with wasn't a huge concern. Luckily, Community Pack Three, to drop in December, promises a "tile-based level editor," which will hopefully bring some customization to the game's Dungeon Master mode.

Ability Respec: 

A bit basic, but a welcome quality of life change nonetheless. By visiting your party's camp, you can now pay some gold to refund your ability points and rebuild your character however you see fit. 

Player Stash: 

More quality of life stuff. The game will have an account-based stash so you can store items for later and transfer them between characters. 

Skill Rolls: 

A bit on the strange side. You will now be able to type out a text command to receive a randomized die result that doesn't actually have an impact on the game. Digital dice-rolling. n-Space reasons that players can use this in their multiplayer games that are being administrated by Dungeon Masters for roleplaying purposes. While it would have been nice to have a mechanical way to enforce this sort of dice-rolling, the acknowledgement of traditional D&D is heartening.

Bug Fixes: 

The usual. 

With two more community pack updates on the way, Sword Coast Legends isn't done yet. But for those of you looking for a reason to come back, you may want to wait for the more dramatic updates coming in packs two and three.

An Interview with Robert Woodhead, Creator of the Genre-Defining RPG, Wizardry https://www.gameskinny.com/acpk9/an-interview-with-robert-woodhead-creator-of-the-genre-defining-rpg-wizardry https://www.gameskinny.com/acpk9/an-interview-with-robert-woodhead-creator-of-the-genre-defining-rpg-wizardry Fri, 01 Feb 2013 00:47:21 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

This is an extended feature interview of Robert Woodhead, co-creator of the influential Wizardry RPG video game series, entrepreneur and spaceship politician. Here's a breakdown of what follows:

Part 1: An Interview with Robert Woodhead, creator of the Genre-Defining RPG, Wizardry. An introduction explaining how our interviewer stumbled across Robert Woodhead hiding in plain sight amongst a community of sci-fi sandbox sociopaths.

Part 2: Wizardry: The Birth of Role-Playing Video Games. Robert Woodhead explains how he created Wizardry which inspired future generations of stat-mongering roleplayers.

Part 3: Turning Japanese and MMORPG That Nearly Was. Woodhead explains how his Wizardry franchise led him to Japan, where he planted the seeds of Final Fantasy whilst meeting various challenges... and a woman.

Part 4: The Mad Overlord and the Online Generation. Woodhead shares his thoughts on the new MMO version of his groundbreaking eighties RPG and the future of emergent gameplay in MMOs.

Part 5: The Wider World of Woodhead. Woodhead talks about his role as a player ambassador for EVE Online, the possibility of getting back into game design and the time he worked in Hollywood.

An Introduction

Today's gamer is spoilt for choice, able to browse through an endless catalogue of titles. With a commercial games industry spanning nearly forty years, the number of games available is staggering, from cutting-edge new titles to fondly recalled classics. The attentive gaming genealogist will see themes and trends running throughout the decades, with critical titles and pivotal talents shaping genres for future generations of games designers.

Imagine my surprise then, when researching the history of newly released MMO Wizardry Online, I discovered not only did it have a heritage that stretched back to the early eighties, but it also played a key role in planting the seeds of the modern RPG. Renowned swords and sorcery titles ranging from Dungeon Master and Final Fantasy to Guild Wars and World of Warcraft are all scions of the original 1981 first-person dungeon crawler, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. Its DNA can also be found scattered throughout many genres beyond.

But that wasn't the main source of my surprise. What caught my attention was a familiar name sitting amongst the details on the Wizardry Wikipedia page:

Robert Woodhead

It took a moment for the dots to join in my mind. As a player of EVE Online, I take part in a single-sharded persistent game universe where names stick. Amongst the more well-known individuals of EVE's playerbase are the elected members of the Council of Stellar Management, a group of masochistic volunteers who work to communicate player interests to the developers at CCP Games.

That's where I'd seen the name: Robert Woodhead was long-standing CSM member, Trebor Daehdoow.

It was like the final scene of The Usual Suspects where suddenly everything dropped into place. There had been clues: I recalled mention of Trebor's previous industry experience, quite probably from his CSM election campaign. He blogs as "Mad Overlord" and one of the locations in Wizardry was Trebor's Castle, the home of the titular Mad Overlord.

Trebor is Kaiser Soze! (Well, he invented RPG video games; which still a fairly impressive “wow” moment, just without the bodycount.)

I was genuinely taken aback - here was a man who sits in digital entertainment's Hall of Heroes somewhere between Gary Gygax (Dungeons & Dragons) and David Braben (Elite) and he's been right in front of me all this time.

I recovered from my surprise, gathered my wits and approached him for a quick chat. Read on for the result.

Next: Wizardry: The Birth of Role-Playing Video Games


Wizardry Interview Feature Index:
  1. An Interview with Robert Woodhead, Creator of the Genre-Defining RPG, Wizardry
  2. Wizardry: The Birth of Role-Playing Video Games
  3. Turning Japanese and MMORPG That Nearly Was
  4. The Mad Overlord and the Online Generation
  5. The Wider World of Woodhead