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Tales From the Other Side of the Screen #4: Acrobatics Adjudicated

Written by MythicParty - Published on March 26, 2013

Sky AcrobaticsTales From the Other Side of the Screen’ is a weekly response to Darkwarren’s DM Dispatches column, providing a Player perspective to our DM’s view. ”  Write this down folks, as you may never hear me say it again: in his last column talking about how he adjudicated an Acrobatics question, my DM, Darkwarren, was 100% right.  (drops the mic & leaves the stage)  Ok, so its not quite THAT simple.  To begin with, its always interesting to me to read how he sees things from over yonder in the Dark Tower that is the DMs area.  For example, this whole situation occurred because I was the one who pointed out that there was an obstacle in my path.  I don’t remember if the circular object in that 5′ square on that particular Paizo’s map was a stump or a bucket or a flowerpot.

But I knew that it’d be cool to have my Halfling Monk Lem the Magnificent vault over it Parkour style.  Now admittedly I had recently seen Casino Royale & the initial chase scene (which technically used ‘Freerunning,’ a variant of Parkour) filled my D&D player head  full of the same leaps & bounds.  After all, if a 45-year old English actor can do his own stunts in these spy movies then surely my 19 Dexterity Monk could easily flip himself over a rain barrel or whatever.  I mean, based on this excellent article analyzing D&D info for the real world, Lem would be an Olympian.

Well, sort of.  Darkwarren’s DC to be able to do this on the run + continue right along had been 25.  At the time, I had forgotten a modifier so for me to get to a 25 I’d have needed a natural 20.  With the modifier added in, I would have ‘only’ needed to pull at least a 17 out of my dice bag.  Which of course I wasn’t able to do, causing poor Lem to go from Magnificent to Mediocre while he crashed into this obstacle.  As it turns out, this DC 25 was EXACTLY the same DC that a 3PP resource for new skill uses– which is absolutely amazing by the way- had set for such a situation.  So he totally made the right call here.

Moreover he handled the situation with class, not getting perturbed at my questioning the call.  Then he took time after the session was over to talk about it with me & the discussion was productive for both of us.  Like I mentioned in an older article, frank communication about how a DM is running a game is the single best way for that DM to improve their game.  There is a ton of feedback from the other side of the screen but you have to set up the opportunity to listen to it.  Make that time.

The other takeaway from this interaction is that players can get starry eyed about their characters, wanting them to do moves they’ve seen in movies or read about in books.  Some of these will be wacky, some will be wonderful.  Don’t feel like you have to let them pull them off without a decent roll but please don’t dismiss the idea outright.  Otherwise you may not have one of them publicly saying that you were 100% right.

Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

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4 Responses to “Tales From the Other Side of the Screen #4: Acrobatics Adjudicated”
  1. LonePaladin says:

    This is exactly the sort of thing I do when one of my players describes a complicated move. I give it my best guess as to what sort of rolls are required, figure out a target number as best I can, and stick with it.

    Sometimes, I get the first part — say, naming a skill to check — but I really have no idea how high to set the number. I play my cards close to my chest at these times, telling the player what skill to roll and going off my gut feeling about the total they get. An obviously high roll on their end will get a “good enough” from me.

    I tend to allow one of the variations on Action Points or Hero Points in my games, too; if someone just misses a roll on one of these stunts, the responsibility is back in their hands (because most of these options allow the player to add their bonus after rolling, but before the results are declared).

    Every once in a while, when someone has clearly seized the spotlight and pulling one of those stunts that will wow everyone, I’ll drop a hint about spending one of these optional points, especially if they *just* miss. The points are there for that reason, and sometimes my players mis-judge the best times to use them.

  2. Darkwarren says:

    Still stunned about Mythic Party’s admission…

    Thanks, MP.

    I am not a perfect DM by any means, but I appreciate you having the class to offer me such feedback.

  3. MythicParty says:

    You’re welcome, but your stunness leaves me to wonder if the feedback should happen more often?

    No one expects perfection, but luckily most DMs I’ve played with are like NFL referees: 95% of the time they get the rulings right. The other 5% are rare occasions when a call seems wrong. Even then the game is still fun.

    Now admittedly you can run into a DM who is like those Replacement NFL referees. Then players REALLY start to appreciate who is volunteering to sit behind the screen.

  4. MythicParty says:

    Also, I like how you ‘accidentally’ didn’t see how LonePaladin allows Action Points/Hero Points.

    Must be one of those 5% occasions. ;)

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