D&D rat chase – Part 2

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Have you read the first part of this article? Read D&D rat chase – Part 1 here!

The Woldians say…

This article stemmed from an e-mail discussion between Robert – a Dungeon Mastering reader – and Kim & Jerry from Woldian Games. If you haven’t done it yet take the time to check it their website.

woldian.jpgScrew the rules!

Jerry’s suggestions gravitate around one concept: forget the rules. I couldn’t agree more with that. If you want a fast-paced, action-packed scene you can’t be an anal rules lawyer.

Jerry’s take:

Forget the rules. Do look up mob rules as that can be fun. Pushing through etc.

What I would do is write out 10 or so “tidbits of fun and excitement” and throw one in each round. Things that show that they are not the only thing going on. It needs to “sound” busy.

1. Scream of a girl in the crowd being crushed. (50xp times level to rescue her.)
2. Pickpocket tries to take coin from a party member.
3. Difficult townspeople who try to hinder the party.
4. Friendly townspeople who help them for a round by rolling carts in the way of the other group.
5. Guards: “Who goes there!”
6. Urine pot being thrown out of an upstairs window. Eww!

Then I’d list some strategies of the opponents. What their goals are. What they will do when things happen.

The more info I have to “play with” the more I can act on the spur of the moment to keep it exciting.

Ok, that set, I’d really push the tempo of the combat. Faster and faster, from player to player. It simulates the action to make them go fast. Tell them that dragging cuts xp and speeding up in a chase scene will earn them xp.

Play some music. Something fast! 1812 Overture! Metallica! Set up a playlist. Creates excitement, even humor.

If they get too frantic, throw in a planned “pause in the action” to let them catch their breaths.

As you can see, it’s more about the roleplay than the mechanics.

I think in this case that detailed miniatures on a table would take away from the action. Slow things down too much.

So, I’d announce that the party will be represented by one figure and the opponents by one. Set it up so that if the party “average” is faster, they start closing the gap. The thief pulls out a potion of speed. Result: The party closes 15′. The opponents risk going to a faster speed: X4 speed. They make fort checks and fail. The party closes 10′.

Might even put the miniatures for both groups on a 3by5 card or something and move them as a group through a town map that you’ve drawn on the table.

I even like the idea of dead ends, rooftops, going down a road a second time so that the “planned event” you did there gets to happen again. Second time down the street, the lady throws urine on purpose cause you woke her baby.

Tomorrow: Tips on running different kinds of chase scenes.

3 thoughts on “D&D rat chase – Part 2”

  1. sounds like a good game idea, since my party are in a town for a while (while they wait for a trainer to train a giant owl baby) i could use little saburban adventures like that.

    the only thing i didnt like was the “Play some music. Something fast! 1812 Overture! Metallica! Set up a playlist. Creates excitement, even humor.”

    well it was all good apart from the song sagestions, i think that you should be playing music that might be bing played in the town, in the feast, a tavarn or just by sum locals ahving sum fun!

    they point is that heavy music, all though it might be fast it doesnt help set the scene.
    i know ive said this before but i use celtic music (sow stuff) and irish dance music (fast stuff) but any folk music or clasic music would set the scene a lot better than metal.

  2. Okay, now that both parts are up, here’s how I went. It started badly…

    I often enjoy dinner with the host before we play, but that night I was running late, and I brought a T-bone each for us. I cooked them as John went off to pick up another player. But I am not used to his electric stove top and thin fry pan and really only burnt the outsides, so as the other players all turned up to play I cut into my steak to discover that it was still blue. Point is gaming started at 45 mins later than usual, at around 8pm, and we alwas wrap things up at about 10, 10:30 at latest.

    The intro went well, the PCs stopped an assassination attempt at a foundation day celebration, and even killed my (hopefully recurring) assassin.

    The party then split up and I think I handled that okay. I was able to regroup them for the start of the chase.

    As part of the celebrations the host announced that the ‘luck salt’ that can catch the dire rat wins the treasure chest. He then threw the rat well into the crowd. The chase was on.

    But two of the four PC felt it undignified to chase a rat through a dingy port town.

    I had prepared for all of the PCs not wanting to chase it, but not for a split party. What to do with the two who wouldn’t chase. Well, they decided to interact, the evil one trying to steal the assassin’s daggers from the sorcerer, who ‘greased’ him.

    I tried to utilise the tips from Kim and Jerry, but my mistake was that I didn’t make it explicit enough. I didn’t tell the players how I was trying to run the chase.

    I had combined the suggestions together to form a list of things to happen during the chase. I arranged 14 of these in order from low where bad things happened to high where good things happened, such as a pick-pocket attempting to take something through to rat slipping in street-muck and the PCs gain a considerable distance on the rat. I rolled a d10 to determine what happened each round, and added up to 4 to it based on good ideas from the PCs.

    That went okay, but I do think it would have been even better if I’d told the players what I was doing.

    They eventually caught up with the rat, who slipped into a basement window for the finale, a battle against two areanas. Through luck that went well. I thought two of these would have been a decent challenge for 4 3rd level PCs, but there were only 2 of them. As it turned out 2 areanas were difficult but not as difficult as I wanted for a finale. I should have thrown in a 3rd one.

    I had also prepared a few other cut scenes in the chase, such as a PC running smack-back into the war-horse of a 6th level Paladin, and being ambushed by a group of ambitious halflings on a horse-drawn cart who remain out of melee range. But we ran out of time. Perhaps I should have included them and run the session over two nights…

    Still, I think everone enjoyed the night. It was great to see our regular DM hamming it up as a monk PC. I’m sure he enjoyed the night.

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