Page 1190 - Pace Keeper

5th Mar 2019, 5:00 AM in School Raze
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Pace Keeper
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 5th Mar 2019, 5:00 AM edit delete
Looking back, I'm realizing that I use this device enough that it's basically its own trope – the "DM opens up about the challenges they're facing organizing and planning and running the campaign" page.

On the other hand, I've apparently stumbled onto a theme of "how do you pull together a campaign that keeps destabilizing" and chosen to be sympathetic to the DM's side of things as well as the players. And considering this comic is mostly interpersonal dialogue, it's the main narrative device I seem to have that lets me show that side of things.

Like any tool, narrative devices deserve inspection when you use them regularly.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Digo Dragon 5th Mar 2019, 5:12 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I think most class/level systems get interesting after level 3-4 as a general experience, but my perception is colored by the fact I've rarely been a player to experience a character grow from 1st level up through the ranks to that.

Most of the time either the campaign never survives that long or it's a one shot at a higher level so either way I've missed out a lot in what I feel is an important character-establishing part of the level up process.
Winged Cat 5th Mar 2019, 10:58 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Many times when people suggest a new campaign, I take a good look at the GM (virtually if online), evaluate the odds of the campaign lasting, and wind up optimizing a PC for no or little progression. (In systems where optimizing a PC for what they will be after several level-ups vs. optimizing to have what tricks they will have right out of character generation is a thing. Unfortunately, the very choice to use a system like that has often been, in my experience, a sign of a DM unlikely to keep a campaign together for many sessions.)
NobleCuriosity3 19th Oct 2022, 6:09 PM edit delete reply
Interesting observation in that last sentence. Why do you think that is?
Mr_Some1 5th Mar 2019, 5:44 AM edit delete reply
Things get more interesting after level 4? As still sort of a DND newb that's great to hear. I've been playing for like 4 years, but sadly I've never been able to find a campaign that I can stick with, every one I join usually ends up slowly drifting apart, or just saying we aren't having any more sessions until the dm thinks of some new plans, and that usually never ends up happening. That's why I love comics like this and watching critical role and other things, cause it lets me actually experience this game.
Winged Cat 5th Mar 2019, 10:49 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Yeah - DMs are supposed to plan much further in advance than they usually do. Some D&D DMs try to finagle this by starting everyone at level 3 or 5, on the expectation that the players will stop showing up after several sessions anyway.

There is a better way, though. There are ways to identify players likely to stay with the game - and ways to handle occasional emergencies so they don't encourage skipping a lot more sessions than one has to. Both of them involve thinking things through in advance, which a lot of people are unfamiliar with (and some seem to actively resist doing, for reasons I am not sure of).

I have run, and been part of, campaigns that took PCs from beginning level all the way through end. Not D&D specifically, but the range was equivalent to D&D's levels 1-20 - in some cases, equivalent to 1-30 (for editions that have support for 30th level).
albedoequals1 5th Mar 2019, 12:52 PM edit delete reply
For characters that start at level 1, levels 4-10 are the most fun in Pathfinder, and probably 5E as well. Below level 4, you are in constant fear of sudden death, and above level 10, combat turns into an administration chore, and isn't as exciting anymore.
Mr Wednesday 5th Mar 2019, 6:06 PM edit delete reply
See, this is why I started migrating to other systems after the very badly-managed first 3.5 campaign I ran. I realised that levelling wasn’t necessarily an important part of my experience and looked for things which would enable what I wanted to focus on.
Boris Carlot 6th Mar 2019, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I know this pain. I've never had a D20 game go past level 4. The GM always says "Oh, I want you guys to have fun with the progression and learn your characters" but I know the GM is always going to end up going "I need to go on a little hiatus..." just as we start being able to do more than "I stab the dude".
FanOfMostEverything 5th Mar 2019, 6:40 AM edit delete reply
I certainly can't complain about frank, open communication becoming a trope in anything. I despise plots that could be resolved much more easily if people just talked to one another and have no reason not to. Plus, it's healthy behavior for an RPG playgroup.
Joe the Rat 5th Mar 2019, 7:08 AM edit delete reply
Having just binged The Umbrella Academy, I'm actually rather glad to get into frank and open communication in plots.

Digo Dragon 5th Mar 2019, 8:14 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
OMG, my wife started binging that. I saw some chunks of the first few episodes and I think my comment was "So this is basically X-Men with unnecessary drama?"
Azhrei Vep 5th Mar 2019, 10:56 AM edit delete reply
"So this is basically X-Men with unnecessary Drama?"

Isn't that just ... X-Men, unaltered?
Digo Dragon 5th Mar 2019, 11:38 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
(*snerk*) Okay I have no defense against that. XD
Wyvern 5th Mar 2019, 8:54 PM edit delete reply
The canonical comparison is "X-Men if Professor Xavier was a total asshole."
GrayGriffin 5th Mar 2019, 7:00 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, both Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie's key arcs have already been used in this comic Twilight's wouldn't even work in the current context without a lot of finagling and editing. RD and Rarity's would also be kind of tough because of the current chaos-pocalypse setting, which would probably leave little time for competitions like those. I was actually thinking about what other arcs could be used...
Digo Dragon 5th Mar 2019, 8:16 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I'm half chucking/shaking my head that AJ was left out. Curious if that's because her arc still works in your opinion or just nothing to say about it?
GrayGriffin 5th Mar 2019, 10:50 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, basically. Heck, Flim and Flam can probably make even more bank in a chaos-filled world.
Solitary Performance 5th Mar 2019, 7:59 AM edit delete reply
I can agree that most every class starts getting interesting between 4 and 7, because that's the range all the truly meticulous fun stuff happens. Wizards get classics (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Haste), Clerics get all the other "keep the party not-dead" options around that time (remove curse, disease, blind/deaf; dispel magic; neutralize poison's at 7 with 4th level magic)...

But outside of the casters moving into their things, is that's the range everyone starts qualifying for prestige classes, or in 5e's case, they move into their specializations... in other words, the characters really start on becoming what the players want their characters to end up as, in that range.
Winged Cat 5th Mar 2019, 10:54 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Being frank and open about the game, and occasionally getting my players to help with the plot, has been part of how I have run some long campaigns.

Actually, just last session, the player characters were asking to find counselors in a way that suggested the players wanted to play through therapy on screen. (I may possibly have made that last boss fight a bit too intense. They have dealt with ghosts and the dead before, but this was the first fight where they had to confront people/animals/plants dying.) Fortunately, one of the player characters has suggested an event that could serve as therapy (a rite of passage for the fallen), that the party may have reason to attend - and thus, for the players to play through.
zimmerwald1915 5th Mar 2019, 11:14 AM edit delete reply
I suspect this "palette cleanser" will involve making it so Spud no longer has to cut around Twilight's wings for screencaps.
Digo Dragon 5th Mar 2019, 11:39 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
When the GM said he wanted to 'wing it'...
GrayGriffin 5th Mar 2019, 5:07 PM edit delete reply
Although that would mean he'd need to edit wings in for the Discord defeat session, unless he makes the DM change their power source from Elements to Rainbow Power before that.
CCC 5th Mar 2019, 9:25 PM edit delete reply
Maybe 'rainbow power' will simply be what using the charged-up Elements will look like.
Digo Dragon 6th Mar 2019, 4:40 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Or Discord is defeated by friending him in Keep Calm and Flutter On.
Story Time 5th Mar 2019, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
So... Story time, any story about how your party was in a quest to 'level up' a magic item or something?
CharginChuck 5th Mar 2019, 3:18 PM edit delete reply
Interesting choice of setting there. I was thinking about a different school for a change of pace, but I'm intrigued to see where this arc goes.
Kinrah 5th Mar 2019, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
Might want to use an older map there, Twilight's crystal castle is fairly distinctive on that one. (Or cover it with a text box.)
Newbiespud 5th Mar 2019, 7:55 PM edit delete reply
Hmmm... nah. The modern-day map is more of an aspirational picture in the DM's mind anyway in this context, with all the ideas they have yet to use that they want to explore, so I don't mind the discrepancy.
hugh_donnetono 6th Mar 2019, 1:10 AM edit delete reply

I'm sorry I'm just... absolutely in love with fifth edition, and I'm so so so sososo excited to see you using it for an arc!
andreas002 6th Mar 2019, 5:31 AM edit delete reply
You love it so much, you broke the page formatting. All of those "OMG"s without any spaces made the page a lot wider.
Dakkath 6th Mar 2019, 3:34 AM edit delete reply
5e's alright, but to me it's kinda D&D-lite. I prefer Pathfinder for being more crunch- and customization-heavy.
andreas002 6th Mar 2019, 5:50 AM edit delete reply
Lots of Systems, all preferred for different reasons:

D&D 5e: Its simplicity is both its greatest strength and weakness.
D&D 4e: For those that like a more video-game style system.
Pathfinder: A LOT of options. If you can think of it, you can probably make it. All of it available online for free. Also called D&D 3.75, similar to 3.5 but better balanced.
D&D 3.5: For Munchkins and those that don't want to make the switch to Pathfinder.
D&D 3e: Uh... mostly for stuff that didn't get reprinted in 3.5?
AD&D 2e: For those that love THAC0.
AD&D and earlier: For those that yell at 5e players to get off their lawn.
albedoequals1 6th Mar 2019, 1:04 PM edit delete reply
Good summary. I personally don't like 5E because it's too simple, and I like to make clever/weird stuff. But if all you want is dice rules for basic "I stab him", 5E gets you from character design to stabbing faster than most other systems. :p

Edit: I should also mention that I'm currently playing a game of 5E and it's going very well. A good DM can houserule in 5E just like any other system. If you have the right people, any system will work great.
andreas002 6th Mar 2019, 3:25 PM edit delete reply
Personally, in terms of how much I enjoyed playing them, I'd rate PF > 5e > 4e >> 2e = 1e. I've never played 3.5/3e so I'm leaving them unrated, though I suspect they'd be between PF and 5e.

But yeah, you can have fun with just about any system. Except FATAL. If you play that, you're bad and should feel bad.
Mr Wednesday 6th Mar 2019, 10:19 PM edit delete reply
Does anyone actually play FATAL, though? With the exception of the designer and his circle, I don’t think anyone has really played that except as some combination thought experiment and endurance test.
Digo Dragon 7th Mar 2019, 4:43 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I'm not sure about the mileage of "better balanced" PF has over 3.5 edition... maybe a better term is "a bit less broken"?
LoganAura 6th Mar 2019, 5:03 AM edit delete reply
Talking with your players, while one of the hardest things to do, is often times something super important to make sure people are enjoying it
Guest 6th Mar 2019, 3:45 PM edit delete reply
Uh oh.

Is DM going to use 5e's Downtime rules?

'Cause that would be... probably a bad idea to use them in a 4e game. Like big time.

I love 5e, and the Downtime rules work well for it, especially the Xanathar's ones. But they work because of the 5e framework.

Trying to use the Downtime rules with a 4e framework, while at best houseruling on the fly? It's likely going to be nothing but horribly frustrating for the players.
TheStratovarian 6th Mar 2019, 11:29 PM edit delete reply
How about we try something new tonight?

That can be how you enjoy a new idea.
It may be one off.
It may be something more.

Though its a chance to step back from a bad issue, and enjoy something thats good for down the road.

Trying Fate because i was interested in dresden. Trying ponyfinder through interest in pony. Trying Roan as well. (Ubiquity)

A palette cleanser, when you get a bad run, or even a new pc when yours doesnt or isnt working out.

Well, a good gm listens, and when they do, its a fun time for all.