Page 371 - First Turn Blues

3rd Dec 2013, 5:00 AM in Feeling Pinkie Keen
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First Turn Blues
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 3rd Dec 2013, 5:00 AM edit delete
Story time! For those of you with DM experience, tell a story about some of the first combat encounters you ever made, and the lessons you learned from those first experiments.

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



Raxon 3rd Dec 2013, 5:00 AM edit delete reply
In my universe, Cerberus is Lawful Good.

The logic is simple. The good deities don't want to visit hell. The only thing a guard in hell has to deal with is the prisoners getting free. Therefore, Cerberus and his hounds of hell are actually just celestial prison guards.

And do not get me started on the deity cosmology in that universe, because it is the type it thing that keeps philosophy students awake at night. Yes, Cerberus is what's known as an aspect deity. Yes, he has a divine aura, and is immune to ordinary mortal attacks. So are Thor, Zeus, Cthulhu, and the effing flying spaghetti monster.

Also, it basically allows a person to serve whatever deity they like. Yes, Bahamut and Tiamat are there. Yes, they are aspect deities, much like Cerberus, the lady of pain, and Samuel L Jackson.

Oh, and as for story time, I made a terrible thing. I used elves. It, uhhh... it did not go well in a dark fantasy world. Elves are bad and they inflict lasting psychological damage on characters and players alike. Cormin was never quite the same again. I can tell about the gang's first random encounter, if you like. But only if your heart is steady, and your stomach is strong.
Curb 3rd Dec 2013, 5:07 AM edit delete reply
And what would Samuel L Jackson be the god off?? Swearing, Badassness?
Raxon 3rd Dec 2013, 5:19 AM edit delete reply
He is the god of emphatic profanity. Chaotic neutral.
Call me Al 3rd Dec 2013, 5:16 AM edit delete reply
Brace yourselves! A messed up story is coming!
Raxon 3rd Dec 2013, 6:02 AM edit delete reply
Well, if you insist. I ran my story world in a short game. I played as a fresh young Raxon, straight out of adventurers college. With him were Walda, a ranger, and Cormin, a thief.(yes, their names were plays on Waldo and Carmin.) These two were also graduates. Cormin and Walda were both 19, Raxon was 16. He graduated early, because blah blah destiny blah elemental autistic blah blah chaos magic blah ripped the school in half blah blah splattered the walls with the entire contents of his torso by jumping on a live grenade blah blah blah and the school decided that he had too much destiny and should leave ASAP.

So, the first thing they find is a village! It's not far from where Cormin and Walda grew up! They decide to stop for the night. When they get closer, though, something is wrong. Blood has been shed here. The dead litter the streets. All the farmlands have been burned. The animals mutilated. There are no survivors.

Walda and Cormin set about digging graves. It falls to Raxon to carry the week old corpses. Everyone, down to the last woman and child, has been tortured to death. Even infants were killed. Nothing was taken. It was purely out of a desire to destroy them. The death toll is around 100.

Fast forward a week. Raxon can't sleep. He gets up and wanders away in the night to answer nature's call.

He hears voices. "Such fools that village housed. Refusing to surrender! Resisting their deaths! Even after their child called us scary! We are the most beautiful of all things. No lacksoul crosses an elf with such a blatant insult. I don't expect the vermin to know better for long." That was it. Raxon just overheard two elves talking about how they tortured and murdered everyone in that village because, rather than say they're beautiful, a little girl called them scary.

Raxon had had enough of these narcissistic assholes. He got the drop on one with his axe. The other responded, and even though Raxon was merely a level 1 wizard, it turns out that he was minmaxed for spells. At level one, even with no conjuration or elemental spells, he cast his version of magic missile. A pitiful 1d2 spell. Rapid casting and two metric butt loads of the spell, though. Turns out he's "elementally autistic" not only is he a specialist, he cannot cast any elemental spells at all. In exchance, he gets more spells per level, and has to research his own spells at an xp and gold cost.

But for right now, he's a level one wizard with ten shots of magic missile. Did I mention that elves are fae in this setting, and carry a CR of 5-10?

Raxon barely survived, but swore to exterminate the lot of the elf race.

Thus began his great crusade, to eradicate the elves. A war fought entirely in secret and hidden from his friends.

And this great war, this secret war, came to pass, because elves are dicks.
Grey Pennies 3rd Dec 2013, 6:22 AM edit delete reply
Draxynnic 3rd Dec 2013, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
I'd probably go with Lawful Neutral for Cerberus myself. Off the top of my head, I don't recall him having any particular malice or compassion towards the souls of the dead, he just has a job to do - classic LN. (Which can be on the side of good or evil, depending on who their boss is, and who their boss is allied to if their boss is also LN).

Similar comment regarding Hades, really - we have the modern perception of Hades as dark but he was really one of the first examples of the Dark Is Not Evil trope. It's worth noting that the underworld that Hades presided over contained the Greek equivalent of heaven as well as their equivalent of hell.
Raxon 3rd Dec 2013, 7:09 AM edit delete reply
True. I agree. Heck, Hades was the nicest of the greek gods. You make an excellent point, though. I like LN for Cerberus. Thanks for the input!
guest 3rd Dec 2013, 8:44 AM edit delete reply
well, yes, by the standereds of the time, but by today's standereds, he has failed on both counts. Remember Persephone? She was tricked into being trapped in hell as Hades bride, and even when it threatened to destroy the world, he only half relanted, and then their was that musician who's wife he almost let go, so by today's standereds, he has done things to evil to be good, and do chaotic to be lawful, but by the standereds of the time, he would be lawful good, just because we don't like death does not mean how it is managed is not important for our well being, same for Cerberus.
sungardener 3rd Dec 2013, 9:03 AM edit delete reply
A minor quibble, but there's a pretty good likelihood that the story about kidnapping Persephone was tacked on by later anti-heathenry factions, similar to how Loki and Seth were equated with Lucifer, and many other such peculiar acts of syncretism. The actual story relates (possibly, as I can't discount your theory entirely) to what is now modern-day Anatolian marriage customs.

This is probably very boring, so I'll finish up - the reason that Hades was less important then, say, Poesidon, Zeus, or Athena, though, was largely because he was an 'inactive' god - this lack of ambition was very unseemly to the pre-classical Hellenes!
Blueskies 3rd Dec 2013, 3:00 PM slightly soulless edit delete reply
If there is one thing that will get my danders up in a fluff, it's mixing and mangling mythology (one of the reasons I loathe anime with a passion of thousand supernovas).
Point 1 - Hades =/= Hell
for that matter, I challenge every single one of you out there to crack open a bible and find me a quote that mentions hell. A single one.
Except for the pit of tartarus, and surrounding fields, which were specifically places to punish irredeemable souls, no other part of Hades was particularly bad. Even the valley of lost souls was simply an oversized empty plain where those that did not want to face the judgment would just mill around. For that matter, the elisian fields were also in Hades.
2 - As sungardener correctly notes in the earliest versions of the myth, Hades shares the pomegranate seed with Persephone as a pledge of marriage, not as a trick.
3 - The deal was, Persephone would spend 2/3 of the year on surface with her mother, and one third in the underworld with her husband - thus simboliying the change of the seasons - she comes out in early spring and goes back mid autumn (after harvest) - yes what a tyrannical deal, and note it was wholly in Persephone's power to refuse Hades seeing as if he refused to let her go, he would have been forced to fight both her, Demetre and Zeus.
4 - Out of all the other gods, Hades never screwed around, nor messed with mortals for the lulz, like all the others. Athena Included.

I blame Disney as much as antiheresy movements for blackening the name of probably the only decent member of Helenic pantheon.
Atarlost 3rd Dec 2013, 8:03 PM edit delete reply
Wait, what did Hephaestus get up to that's so horrible?
blueskies 4th Dec 2013, 5:43 AM edit delete reply
Gee, let's see

Braining mortals who were eyeing his hussy of a wife? You know the goddess of physical beauty (Important note here people, Aphrodite was never goddess of love. Love was always domain of her son Eros, and his wife Psyche)
Constructing engines of power/destruction for the sake of invention and then letting them run amok?
Or, here is the crown jewel - built an engine of torture to use on his brother Ares over the aforementioned hussy, and then testing it on mortal miner to see if it worked - that one probably grew over the spectacular mangling of some bodies in a mine collapse.
Breakfateschain 4th Dec 2013, 2:51 PM edit delete reply
You forgot the time that he tried to rape Athena
Raxon 4th Dec 2013, 1:10 AM edit delete reply
To be fair, in my story universe, different mythologies aren't mixed, so much as they are coopted. Zeus, Thor, Coyote, Bahamut, Orochi, all of them exist.

As such, some fairly heavy modification to certain aspects of religion. For example, necromancy isn't a real thing for the most part, because souls are something even magic cannot touch. They run on a similar wavelength to celestial divinity. Therefore, mortals cannot conjure souls, speak with the dead, or raise the dead. Charlatans often create flesh golems out of corpses, but that's very different. Yes, there are many interpretations of heaven and hell. One example is that yes, Valhalla exists, but so does The Plane of Infinite Knowledge, which is basically an endless library, if you want to spend eternity learning, studying, heck, even experimenting.

I took some liberties with hell, though. There is one hell. It is simply a place where God does not go. Hard to explain, but basically, it is to spend eternity crying out and suffering because something is gone, and it leaves a hole in your very being that you can never identify, can never relieve, can't even understand. You can't even reason out what it is, because the pain draws all your focus.

Charon has many roles. He is the reaper, angel of death, ferryman, you name it. His duty is to escort the dead to their destination. He's kind, gentle, and very much like DEATH from Discworld.

For reference, I was not kidding when I said this is a crapsack world. And in the multiverse, every universe works differently. This means in universes other than Raxon's home universe, magic might not be possible, or necromancy might exist, or it could be a universe populated entirely by Mr. Bean. Everyone, everywhere, would be Mr. Bean.

For that matter, the pokeverse exists in the multiverse. So does the DC universe, which is where Raxon recently found himself stranded.

Raxon just happened to live in an extremely dangerous and unforgiving one.
Zuche 4th Dec 2013, 7:50 AM edit delete reply
But mixing and mangling mythology is one of the best uses for it! Ask the Romans or the Babylonians.
GrayGriffon 9th Dec 2013, 5:40 PM edit delete reply
well... a challenge is a challenge ;)
Psalms 9:17
"The wicked shall be turned into a hell, and all the nations that forget God."
aylatrigger 3rd Dec 2013, 7:07 AM edit delete reply
The Cerberus thing makes sense. Also reminds me that my brother has the theory that LG and LE are the same thing... Kind of in the way 'what is good?' is hard to define.

Also, your gods sound like they belong in my usual pantheon....if they weren't already there. I added all the tv trope pantheon, every single d&d pantheon (there are over 200 gods) and some of my own... I also added for one of my two self made pantheons, the Food Pantheon, the rule that the gods do not always have their powers pertaining to their personality, and many times their worshipers have conflicting views. Gods Need Prayer Badly, so they basically have to put up with it, and only ignore answering your prayer when you will really mess with their plans.
Example gods:
Cookie: CG and delicious god of Evil and the Dark Side (worshipped mainly by any evil)
Egg: NG God of Baby Eating (worshiped by those who like to eat babies and orphans who are happy all the tithes go to them)
Waffle: CN Creator of the gods and the universe, god of Creation, Coolness, Everything, and Belgians. The most apathetic of the gods.
Brussels Sprout: CN god of Unwantedness, Starving Children in Other Countries, and Acquired Fondness/Taste, worshiped by any alignment but mostly mothers.

I also have a random pantheon of anything I thought up:
Deus Machi: LG god of Plot Convenience, the MacGuyver of the gods; mainly worshiped by the chaotic
Shed Rirt: NG of God of Red Shirts; rarely worshiped knowingly
Flecki:LN God of Converting to religions. Worshiped by any who are converting or being converted, but long time worshipers tend to be chaotic. Holy symbol is as many other religions' holy symbols as you can get.
______: CN Goddess of Plot Holes, worshiped by LE
Sciuridae: LE Goddess of Squirrels and Side Quests, worshiped by many adventurers.

...I could go on. My favorite god of the actual D&D pantheons is Bahgtru, CE orc god of stupidity (and strength and loyalty).
Raxon 3rd Dec 2013, 2:13 PM edit delete reply
Oh, it's not a pantheon. It is a unified deity cosmology.

There is one God. There are an infinite number of aspects, facets. These facets are aspect deities. The good are loyal. Example: Bahamut. The neutral are neither loyal nor disloyal, they just do their jobs. Example: Charon. The evil are rebellious and reject their roles, or just use them for evil. Example: Tiamat. That's not even getting into the lesser celestials, like angels, valkyries, and demons. And of course, the fae are separate from this, being not celestial, but instead creatures born of magic...

And if you think this is getting complicated, wait until I tell you about the multiverse.

...maybe I tend to overdo things a wee bit, but darn it, I wanted a huge universe to pull from, and I got it!
*Sigh* 3rd Dec 2013, 7:12 PM edit delete reply
One thing I've always wondered is what would happen if someone were to swear loyalty (or at least give vocal preference to) multiple gods of a range of alignments, and for the intents of this experiment the reasons for doing so would be extremely simplistic and/or superficial.

For example, I myself would likely align myself with whatever deities that went along the Chaotic Good part of the axis, that part of the chart just seems the most fun. However, in most if not all systems that include the Egyptian Gods I also feel the need to express my interests for the Goddess Bastet, even though most interpretations of her are mostly in the Evil part of the alignment charts. What can I say? My furry tendencies run deep.
Raxon 4th Dec 2013, 1:31 AM edit delete reply
In Raxon's world? You would be horribly killed, being a pawn for all those different celestial factions.

Celestia, Bahamut, and Pelor? You would probably be forced to choose one master. The gods are not known for sharing. Also, while they might all be LG, they would certainly each have different tasks for you, and you can't do all those tasks without prioritizing who you serve first and foremost.

Evil deities, on the other hand... Yeah, you're screwed. I mean, you can abandon evil deities to the relative safety of good ones, but you would forever be marked as an enemy, and someone to destroy or corrupt, depending on the deities involved it's all very complicated. Let's just say that swearing allegiances to both Bastet and Shiva would be a bad idea.

Raxon himself is a follower of one deity, but an ally to several others, to the point where they may ask him to do things their followers cannot do. "Hey, the enemies of my servants are going to summon something to eat the world. Mind lending them a hand?" Sure, why not? In addition to being happy to help out, it's also in his own deity's interests to not have Earth destroyed.

So yeah, swearing fealty to many gods is dumb, but you can swear fealty to one, and ally with several others, as long as they're not at odds.
sungardener 4th Dec 2013, 4:00 AM edit delete reply
So... This is a universe where even the goodly 'Gods' (where God/ess/ Entity seems to be a euphemism for very, very, very powerful being), even the 'good' ones, are selfish, vain, jealous, and cruel..?

This sounds like the setting I've been looking for, for *years*. Did you ever play a game called Drakengard? I'm reminded with how incredibly grim the first game got by the end - anyway. I also like that the dead can't be raised, I prefer that low-fantasy feel even in high-fantasy settings.

For one thing, killing off characters too much or too early gets rid of any attachment players have to the character (and setting) early on. I'm not saying storytellers need to fudge every roll for the players; but I do think keeping players alive or doing the best you can to do so for the first 4-6 sessions is a good plan.
Raxon 4th Dec 2013, 3:11 PM edit delete reply
All gods have different personalities. Bahamut, for example, is LG, but he's still a dragon. Now imagine a dragon that is also the god emperor of all dragons. He is as arrogant and vain as you would expect. However, he still cooperates with other good deities. Interdeity relations is extremely complicated.

Also, aspect deities are not just beings with enough power to be gods. Aspect deities are deities. They are living aspects of God.
you know that guy 5th Dec 2013, 12:50 AM edit delete reply
So, in your hell, there are no gods whatsoever?
Curb 3rd Dec 2013, 5:05 AM edit delete reply
First combat I can remember was in colorado, years ago, with a GM out to kill the party at every turn. We had limited gear and were thrown up against monsters 5+ levels higher than us. We survived, barely, much to his disappointment.

What I learned was to always check starting gear, no matter what the GM/DM says! He exploited the fact that we were all new to the system and decided to be a jerk about it. But later on in the short campaign, we got back at him, ruining well planned death traps and ignoring his god-like NPCs.
Jgame 3rd Dec 2013, 5:35 AM edit delete reply
My first combat was in a tabletop role-play game called Over The Edge. I was a lumberjack who brought his axe around with him like a security blanket.

I went for non-damaging strikes with the blunt ends of the exe until one of his friends intercepted me. Then I rolled for a no holding back strike and cut off his arm.

One round later, our crossbowman finally managed to take a shot and did 6d6 points of damage to the main goon. They ran pretty fast after that.
Digo 3rd Dec 2013, 5:17 AM edit delete reply
One of my earliest D&D 3.5 combats pitted a six-member team of 3rd level characters against eight level 1 archers at a ruined fort. The objective was for the PCs to take the fort by whatever tactics they desired.

And I nearly TPK'd the party.

In my defense, I wasn't aware just how far composite bows could reach. Sure there are range penalties, but these composite bows had strength ratings and shooting into a gang of PCs that decided to charge through an open field all from the same direction was kind of their own fault. The PCs won, but I learned not to use actual medeival tactics against my players because no everyone researches dark age warefare the week before the session. XD
Tengokujin 3rd Dec 2013, 6:19 AM edit delete reply
I would think it common sense to *not* charge a castle over open fields. I mean, that's one of the reasons so much clear-cutting happened near castles, to prevent a forest-based ambush, no?
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 7:04 AM edit delete reply
And then Macduff and a bunch of ents decided to try it anyway...
Tria 4th Dec 2013, 11:31 PM edit delete reply
And then Tolkien said "I'll show you how to bring a forest to a fight"
Digo 3rd Dec 2013, 7:53 AM edit delete reply
Common sense yes, but apparently that wasn't a class feature among the two rangers, two rogues, sorcerer, and cleric. :)
AAA 22nd Oct 2015, 1:53 PM edit delete reply
I like how they went full frontal charge without even a single meatshield to lead the way
Belze 3rd Dec 2013, 5:22 AM edit delete reply
Don't think i have ever learned anything from my previous encounters :P i still make them way to hard and with no real way for my players to win.
But that way they get way more out of it when they do win ^^

Think my first i ever made was stolen from another game where i was a player, with some bandits who attacked, so that went fine.
My second however has made my players forever fear hell hounds :P
JSchunx 3rd Dec 2013, 6:31 PM edit delete reply
There is truly an art to designing a perfect encounter. Too easy and it's not even worth fighting, too hard and one or more of the party won't walk away. There's always a sweet spot, but most of the time, you, as a DM, won't see it until the battle's already underway.

Of course, once battle's joined and the dice come out, everything's out the window and it's all on who'll roll 3 natural 20s in a row, the players or the DM.
DDDragoni 3rd Dec 2013, 6:16 AM edit delete reply
My first party was as a five-man level 12 party. One of the players had somehow managed to decipher the grappling rules, and had min maxed his character accordingly. He had bragged a lot about this, and so the DM tried to put I'm in his place by having us fught the strongest grappler in the fame- a purple worm. I'm going to skip Moët of the story, but the player managed to pin the purple worm to the ground, and my ranger stabbed it in the brain.
JSchunx 3rd Dec 2013, 6:33 PM edit delete reply
Yikes, that's quite the grappler. Do you recall offhand what his bonus was?
D'sparil 3rd Dec 2013, 6:52 AM edit delete reply
My first party was a 1st level group of four, playing AD&D. It wasn't particularly well-rounded - three fighters and a mage. They had a bounty hunter/mercenary theme going on, so the first job they picked up was escorting a caravan. The first encounter I made for them was a pack of bandits with a couple of worgs.

I gave them some NPC allies, but not nearly enough as it turned out... or maybe I shouldn't have used the worgs. Either way, the NPC guards and most of the enemies died within several rounds. The leader and remaining worg killed one of the fighters before going down.

I was going to have the band regroup and come back later, so there were some "rear guard" bandits who were packing up to retreat. The party decided they wanted their shit and picked a fight, of course, because derailing is both a means to an end and an end in and of itself. They actually got through them without any more casualties.

Then they saw the worg pups and decided they needed pets. Needless to say, their mother was not amused. Another of the fighters died, and the last two party members beat a hasty retreat back to the caravan.

Luckily it was level 1, so making new characters wasn't hard. We actually ended up with a much more fun character for one of them - instead of a human fighter, I let him be a minotaur berserker-type (technically a fighter, later a barbarian when we changed editions). That was a long-running and memorable character. He also blamed the mage's player for his first character's death, so he decided his new character used to be human and was cursed by a wizard to make him a minotaur. Thus began a legacy amusing but (mostly) non-violent mutual antagonism between the characters.

The other guy who's character died ended up making it a trend not to stick with any one character for long. That's another story, though.

On topic, I had actually planned to have a kobold raiding party a couple of days after the bandits. With the sorry state of the party, though, I decided to nix that. It was funny because there was a concurrent reward for killing kobolds. Y'know, to reduce the population. However, based on their choices of where to go, they never actually met a single kobold. They are now Paragon-tier, and none of the characters would have any idea what a kobold is if presented with one.
JSchunx 3rd Dec 2013, 6:36 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, worgs are a pretty scary enemy early on. I've only played them in 3.5, but a pack of them can separate, pin and kill a whole party, if used right. And of course, being quite intelligent, they WILL choose the tactics that will lead to an easy kill.
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 6:59 AM edit delete reply
The first combat encounter I recall running, way back in D&D's blue box set, pit the party against a wraith. The first mistake I recall was assuming that a 1st level wizard could cast each spell known once per day. Well, why not? What kind of wizard can only use one spell per day, right?

The second mistake was to put a 1st level party up against a wraith (or maybe it was a wight). Well, I figured, most of them would survive... and then the one that didn't turned into a wraith (or wight), killing another party member before they could put it down. You can see where things went from there.

(There's a reason I stopped running spawn-creating creatures with energy drain abilities before I started playing 2E. As designed, releasing one wraith in a low-income quarter should have turned most cities into a necropolis by dawn.)

I was going to mention my problem with d4s as another mistake in this fight, but I was still using chits at the time. Meanwhile, in 2E, my biggest problem was with a cleric's player arguing that weighty chest was a combat spell. He came to regret that... In 4E, my initial problems were with trusting that people understood their own characters... or, in some cases, were honest about them. The halfling rogue was a lot more hesitant about drawing opportunity attacks when I finally caught on that he couldn't use second chance on his turn, for example.
Digo 3rd Dec 2013, 7:58 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, wraiths are jerks like that. With my old group, I think what bothered them more were creatures that distroy their equipment like rust monsters and xorns.
ANW 3rd Dec 2013, 7:13 AM edit delete reply
Poll time:
I was going to include a sort of something dealing with Fluttershy, but each time it just didn't sound right.
So I'll just go out and say it.
Which real world animal best describe you?
Answers can not be "Human", or myth types.
Me: Efficient like a turtle.
Hawkflight 4th Dec 2013, 10:39 AM edit delete reply
I'd say I'm like a cat, napping all throughout the day.
Thar 4th Dec 2013, 12:05 PM edit delete reply
Crazy like a fox.
aylatrigger 3rd Dec 2013, 7:19 AM edit delete reply
I think I might have done a test run with DMing for my brothers...but I can't remember that, so I'll go with my first game with my friends. We were only three people at that point, I as GM, Tim as Sigmund Freud the Rogue, and Martin as Grog, the half troll barbarian who was convinced all paladins were evil as he saw one paladin kill one squirrel once. So he wanted to kill all paladins. He also thought wearing blue made you a paladin. I also don't remember the exact combat experiences, but I will just say my friend Martin always ends up with stronger-than-they should be characters. He doesn't minmax (though this time he had rolled very poorly for his dump stat, Int, which winded up being 3)...he just ends up with them being better. So the combat was pretty much in the bag. I will say don't be lenient to adding things in games if you aren't prepared for a looney game. ...The party mainly used Grog's farts as transportation. Also Grog arms as food sources.
Jennifer 3rd Dec 2013, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
My first real game was in Cyberpunk, where I made the mistake of giving my character no luck points whatsoever. Her first time handling a heavy machine gun, she stumbled over it, knocked it pointing skyward, and fired a single burst that "accidentally" brought down a Learjet.

Later in the campaign I inadvertently blew up a police ammo dump. I also failed my save against an "accidentally" released drug that reduced my character's inhibitions to the point where she had relations for about 24 hours in a crate with two of the NPCs, and barely remembered any of this. I learned later that a party member filmed this, and raked in quite a bit of cash by selling it as porn online.
Mabbz 3rd Dec 2013, 7:44 AM edit delete reply
My first combat ever saw my necromancer/illusionist charge into melee with a bunch of daemonic wolves. He survived by virtue of letting loose some horrible powerful close range spells and the rest of the party distracting our other enemies.

My first combat as a DM, I decided to set four timberwolves against four ponies. The result was fairly boring, with the wolves being driven off thanks in no small part to the fact that one of the ponies had a crossbow which I may have made slightly overpowered.
Giggle Tail 3rd Dec 2013, 7:47 AM edit delete reply
Giggle Tail
I have only DMed on time in my life so far, and more than anything it showed that I needed to think my campaigns through much better (and do my research).

The first combat encounter I set up wasn't too was the part versus an army of possessed gnomes. However, to make it fair, I just treated the whole army as one entity (these gnomes were presumably all civilians, so it's not like any one of them posed even a marginal threat on their own). Sadly, things went downhill pretty fast after that.
FanOfMostEverything 3rd Dec 2013, 7:57 AM edit delete reply
I will say this: Challenge Ratings are there for a reason. The Sorting Algorithm of Antagonism (not necessarily Evil, not when one or two part members are,) is your friend. Just because the 6th level party is going into the sapient mansion of a high-level transmuter doesn't mean you sic a clockwork golem on them as the first fight. Not unless you're prepared to nerf it midcombat after it nearly kills two people.
Doormats trapped with baleful polymorph, on the other hand, are both perfectly appropriate and hilarious.
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 8:15 AM edit delete reply
I feel Pinkie's pain, and that stutter was a nice touch. She built them a nice solo monster, only for it to be shut down by two players choosing to defer to the third who promptly turns a fight into a single die roll. In other circumstances, she might even have found Fluttershy's last line priceless, but if she was looking forward to this? What comes next should be fun.
Digo 3rd Dec 2013, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
I feel that pain too. I've had many a time where I put together a really flavorful monster encounter and the PCs either avoid it completely or shut it down with some kind of "Save-or lose" spell I didn't think about.
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 11:52 AM edit delete reply
The wonderful thing about save-or-lose spells is that the designers realize how quickly they can kill the fun for players -- but only as it applies to their characters. Designers, if the only way to avoid turning a final boss battle into a turkey shoot is by making them immune to powers you've created, your powers suck.
DungeonMiner 3rd Dec 2013, 8:18 AM Lurker edit delete reply
Ran a GURPS game for some friends of mine. We were all one with the nerd side of the force, and I got it into my head to run a multiverse crossover WWI Assassin's Creed game.

I also didn't really get how to award XP in GURPS, and wound up giving them alot of it.

So, these two guys get sent to a post-apocalyptic future where Hitler won by summoning the demons of hell to fight for him, and Discord showed up and opened a portal to the multiverse.

One of the things to step out of that portal? The Hulk. With a Red Power Ring.

He hit them once for most of their health, before the face of the operation managed to point over to Darksied and yell, "Hey! That guy thinks he's stronger than you!"

With that, and a great charisma roll, the two Assassins escaped.
SorteKanin 3rd Dec 2013, 8:22 AM edit delete reply
So this is a rather embarrassing story... the party had reached the burning city and I prepared the epic encounter with the hydra, after the hydra's master left the scene. Unfortunately I made the hydra a bit more intelligent than I should have done and allowed it to speak and recognize people. This lead to the players' idea to use a spell to disguise one of them as the hydra's master... After a rather unlucky perception and will roll by the hydra, it thinks the disguised player is the master. The disguised player then proceeds to ask the hydra to just WALK AWAY. Combat over. GG.
Xanthos 3rd Dec 2013, 8:26 AM edit delete reply
Very first combat I ever DM'd, I manage to kill off the character of my girlfriend at the time.

I was running the old 3rd Ed adventure "Forge of Fury". For those of you not familiar with it, it starts by assaulting an orc stronghold on the side of a cliff. My girlfriend's character charges up to an orc in the edge of the cliff and rolls a natural "1". I had her roll a Reflex save to avoid falling over, and she rolled another natural "1". I finally gave her a chance to roll Climb(?) to catch hold of the ledge before she plummeted to her death, and she finally succeeded. However, next initiative was the orc's. He sees this dwarf hanging from the ledge, and attacks. He hits, and I make her roll another Reflex save. Another natural "1", and her character plummeted to her death.

Luckily, they found an oddly-similar looking dwarven barbarian in the holding cells a couple rooms over.
McBehrer 3rd Dec 2013, 8:28 AM edit delete reply
Not MY campaign, but I was in it. My DM was pretty new, but he managed pretty well.
Until he sent the lot of us -- which included a Druid -- through a forest. Then attacked us with Attacky Vines. I don't remember what they're called. 2 Defoliates later, and we're moving on. Then he drops a Megaraptor on us. The druid casts Dominate Animal, lands on the dinosaur's head (he's usually a bird), and takes it on a pleasant stroll to ANYWHERE ELSE. Then, way later, he sics a vampire on our Dhampir sorcerer necromancer, who has made a habit of reanimating and/or enslaving any dead or undead creature we've come across. That combat didn't last 2 rounds either.
Seanpony Renaud 3rd Dec 2013, 8:29 AM edit delete reply
Mine isn't about early combat, I'd been playing for a while when this came up and it's not really combat either but close enough.

I had set up what was basically the Olypmic Games and it concluded with a team event of climbing a wall, evading the guards and finally rolling a walrus into a fire pit (it was symbolic of the Gods defeat of a Behemoth and also for dinner) and it required more than one person to do. Well enter 4th Edition and me not having read every friggin class. Apparently one of them have the ability to strike a foe and teleport. . .so they did.

To this day my group refers to anytime you completely bypass the DM's plans as Moving the Walrus.
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 9:21 AM edit delete reply
I'm unclear on cause and effect here. Did the power let them teleport the creature they hit, or did it let them teleport themselves when they hit another creature?
Soletta 3rd Dec 2013, 9:05 AM edit delete reply
I once ran a pre gen one shot in Pathfinder, and the final boss was supposed to be a pretty hard undead kobold character.

So they've got to this point, after disposing of all the mooks in the previous room via the rogue sneaking to get info and the mage realising that a fireball would fill the entire room - crispy ex-zombies with one spell.

The kobold king snarls, declares his killing intent for 'the pinkies who kill him first time' and rolls initative. The previously mentioned rogue beats him on init, and I'm expecting an attack.

Cue the Rogue - 'Can I bluff him?'
Me - '...mid battle? You can try, but the roll to make him listen is gonna be hard.'
Rogue - *rolls* 'Natural 20'
Me - 'Huh. Lemme just roll his sense motive...Natural 1...'

Because of this, the King stopped to listen and got so distracted that I gave them a suprise round for the roleplaying. Very dead (again) kobold king in one round.

sungardener 3rd Dec 2013, 9:10 AM edit delete reply
Ah, my first DM'd encounter? I tried to make it fastidious (a bad idea), so that nothing could possibly go wrong (a worse idea!) and went with something simple(terrible triple triad combo!) - twelve goblins, unarmed, over six players; all of whom had played before.

What I hadn't counted on was the players; they had no internal cohesion and split into three groups during the fight - based on outside metagaming than anything vaguely in-character. The party ranger threw his bow and arrows on the ground - in the middle of the fight! - and I asked him if he was quite serious, to which he replied he was. I tried to sound authoritive and mention it was a fight, but they were already back to arguing about errata.

... So I had the goblin pick up the bow, notch an arrow, and let fly. The ranger had already taken some non-lethal damage, and had a poor (and elveeeeen!) constitution. He died. Well - actually, he would've just been bleeding out, but -

That got the attention of the group, and they still kept focusing on each other - the barbarian knocked the wizard unconscious (and by this point the mood had defused and people were just laughing, thankfully), the wizard had summoned some horribly weak creature that had hurt the cleric... In the end, the goblins pulled off a total party kill.

But on the plus side, the air had cleared up great, and we rolled up new characters then and there - based on the surviving goblins who'd taken their stuff and become level one characters in their own right! (That campaign didn't last long either, but it was pretty fun!)

And like most of us, I think, I feel for Pinkie, here. It feels weird when the challenges you've got in your mind and the challenges your players were prepared for (they're always prepared! always!) don't intersect!
Tatsurou 3rd Dec 2013, 9:13 AM edit delete reply
My first combat encounter?

It wasn't exactly by the standard set of rules - none of us could make heads or tails of them at the time - so it was a purely houseruled setting. I told them to make bounty hunter type characters for the setting. None of the players chose a caster type or anyone using any form of elemental energy.

The first combat encounter of the campaign, planned to set off the adventure? A swarm of Metroids.

...I learned to be a bit more specific when suggesting character profiles.
Goblin Scribe 3rd Dec 2013, 9:16 AM edit delete reply
I pit the party up against a dire wolverine. The sorceress kills it in the first round, using her mynah bird familiar to cast Scorching Ray twice and essentially deal the poor critter 16d6 damage. At around 4th level.
LoganAura 3rd Dec 2013, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
First ever game I Dmed, I made a team of (Childish) wind elementals who were going to attack the party because they were protecting "Mommy's Necklace" and the party were expected to defeat them reasonably well.
The ranger decided to talk to the spirits instead and since they were childish they liked playing with her hair and were easily persuaded that the party wanted "Mommy's Necklace" to help "Mommy."
JSchunx 3rd Dec 2013, 6:40 PM edit delete reply
It's always frustrating when a party talks their way out of a planned encounter.
Philadelphus 3rd Dec 2013, 9:24 AM edit delete reply
In preparation for running my campaign using the tabletop rules of Pony Tales which none of us had used before (only the Skype rules), I decided to run a series of short test combats where players could try out their combat techniques before "locking in" with a full game. Also to give me some experience running combat since I hadn't done it before.

One of the first encounters contained just two players up against four Diamond Dogs, one of whom went the route of calling up as many conjurations as possible each turn, while the other decided to build a support character with absolutely no direct damage abilities (in-character, he was playing an earth pony filly so it made sense he didn't have any real damage-dealing).

The combat's going fairly well, they've killed one Diamond Dog and the rest are at fairly low health, when the conjuration player uses an area-of-affect that hits both him and the remaining three Diamond Dogs, locking them all down one square from each other. Up till this point, they'd only seen the DDs using melee abilities, so it seemed like a good idea since he had ranged abilities and could sit there and take pot-shots.

Unfortunately, what he didn't know because I hadn't had reason to use it yet, was that the DDs also had a single ranged ability with exactly the right amount of range to hit him (the other player was out of range). And being unable to move, and with nothing else to do, the three DDs proceeded to absolutely wreck the player (who couldn't move away either, remember).

In fact, they managed to knock him out, then as the effect wears off one of them swipes at the other players who's been quietly building up energy in the background. He activates an item that removes him from the battlefield for a turn, but gives him a standard action when he returns. When he returns he uses that to get off a move that gives both him AND the first player a standard action. He spends his second action on healing the first player back to consciousness, and the first player gets off another area-of-effect move that actually kills two of the DDs outright. Another turn or two and they managed to take the last one out as well.

It was a scary experience for me since it was only like my second combat and I thought I was going to cause a TPK when all I meant to do was give everyone a little experience with the system. It was a really awesome moment for my players though, coming back and winning against all odds.
remia1 3rd Dec 2013, 10:05 AM edit delete reply
so, the GM has the PCs (us) running a scroll with important diplomatic information around the country, and we get robbed in the middle of the night by halflings, despite all of us taking guard watches, they slipped past us. Fortunately the party thief had marked the scroll case with stuff that glowed if viewed through a particular gem. so we track them back to their camp.
we see 4 orange skinned halflings all with green hair and white clothing. just like the oompa loompas in Charlie and the chocolate factory movie. a lore check tells us that ALL halflings in the world look like this.
The party, as a whole, decide that these things are too stupid to live. We have a new goal now. sure we will carry the scroll, but while we do that we are going to exterminate the halfling species.

MANY months of game time go by.

The scroll we were carrying was to be kept out of the hands of the monstrous races. the scroll was an agreement that the signing races would take part in an athletic competition, to help avoid war. The Monstrous races, (orcs, trolls, etc) didn't want to fight, so we allowed them to sign. this pissed off everyone, including many of the gods. as a result we helped usher in a new era of peace in the land

Second to that, we succeeded in wiping out the halflings. turned out they were an important part of the ecosystem. kept the land sharks fed or something. by killing all the halflings, and I do mean ALL, we screwed up the planet. in 3 elven generations (about 2000 years in this setting) the planet would be unable to support life.

all because the GM decided to be cute.
Digo 3rd Dec 2013, 10:13 AM edit delete reply
On the PC side of the screen, I remember my first combat in a d20 Modern "X-Files" campaign. The GM had us investigating the Jersey Devil and the clues led to an abandoned warehouse. There were five of us, all 2nd level, and four of us were armed with guns (my character had a taser). Our Jersey Devil was supposedly a CR3. This fight was doable.

So we nearly lost half the team to one Jersey Devil because the GM wasn't very good at reading stats correctly. Apparently he modified it thinking it would be too easy. We ended up fighting something around a CR6!

It ATE my taser, too. :(
terrycloth 3rd Dec 2013, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Actual roaches actually hiss. Therefore, describing a bunch of roaches as 'hissing dangerously' did not clue in the players that they were explosive roaches with lit fuses, even though we had all just got done watching Roadrunner cartoons. TPK.

I probably should have learned the lesson that giving the enemy high explosives with enough power to kill the entire party is a bad idea, but I keep doing it. Although I haven't killed any more entire parties.
LegendofMoriad 3rd Dec 2013, 1:47 PM great idea edit delete reply
Explosive cockroaches. I may steal that idea.
I hope none of my players read this...
Codeman 3rd Dec 2013, 11:53 AM edit delete reply
My first combat as a DM went really well actually. I was using a pre-made adventure and I had played in combat plenty of times before.
MY SECOND ONE however went a whole different direction. It was another pre-made so I didn't have to modify any of the fights.
It was a 6th level adventure for 4 and there was 3 players, so I let them make 8th level in hopes of balancing out. Then one of the 3 didn't show up. I warned the 2 players that it was probably going to be tough, they still wanted to go for it. So it starts out fine, a couple of gnolls at the front gate of an underground fortress that are easily handled. Then they notice a troll inside, a very big one, but turns out its blind and chained to a wall.

Now here comes the kicker of the adventure, I let one of the players make a cleric using the Book of Exalted Deeds, which is over powered as hell. The other made a anthropomorphic half demon with a fiendish katana, that gave him a 14-20 x4 crit.

Well both players just decide to stay back and hit it with a ranged fire spell... over and over again, with me failing the trolls strength to break free every round.

So after they blow through the first encounter they come to the next one a big fiendish half dragon. That combat lasted about 3 rounds. This basically continues throughout the rest of the dungeon, with me slowly increasing the difficulty, but the players just kept bringing out some new power that I didn't know about (damn cleric). Finally came the big boss which involved a big scary demon and the gnoll war priest. First round the demon moves up. Second round cleric banishes it. 3rd round half demon crits and KOs the Gnoll, but doesn't completely kill him.

Now just before the fight they found a sorceress who wanted to help. Well they decide to open the gate to the Abyss and throw the Gnoll Priest through, the sorceress then steps through as well turning into a succubus. She tells them that she was so thankful for the help getting home and that she's going to take good care of the Gnoll (as she drains a bit of his soul).

Both players promptly say your welcome, and close the gate. Thus ending the adventure.

Now what I learned from this whole thing.
1. Always check player character sheets to see what they are capable of.
2. Never allow the Book of Exalted Deeds ever again except under special circumstances.
3. No more crazy builds, unless everyone is as over powered as they are.

So in other words this turned out to be a really great adventure that the players still talk about to this day. Sure they blew through the whole dungeon, but they had fun doing it. I think I did a job well done. :)
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 1:26 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, people were rather unclear with what the "Mature Readers" label on that book was intended to mean. It probably should have read, "Not Intended for Power Gaming".
Codeman 3rd Dec 2013, 2:03 PM edit delete reply
Yeah especially since I really loved some of the mechanics they added and the character options it provided.

Its just that its as OP as hell.
Zuche 3rd Dec 2013, 2:06 PM edit delete reply
Only in what is sometimes (erroneously) called a "value free" system.
Codeman 3rd Dec 2013, 2:13 PM edit delete reply
I haven't heard of a value free system, what is it?
Zuche 4th Dec 2013, 7:12 AM edit delete reply
It's the notion that evaluating an action based solely on a maximized return-to-investment ratio is the best way to determine if the action has merit. In economic terms, this is often a useful measuring tool that can be applied to decision making in games as well. It's just not as free of values as it's made out to be: whatever is seen as the return is given value by default, whether it's money, damage per round, or "positive vibes".

To be fair, this was meant to provide a broader perspective when trying to make a decision. It's when people view it as the only measure that there's a problem.
Codeman 3rd Dec 2013, 2:11 PM edit delete reply
I don't really mind power gaming at all, as long as everyone is relatively at the same power level. (Also as long as I know that everyone is power gaming so I can prepare.)
Codeman 3rd Dec 2013, 12:02 PM edit delete reply
By the way long time reader (I mean LONG TIME) first time commenter (at least with a name).

Love the comic, what you did with the characters and episodes are really great. The comments are awesome as well. (If not a little random sometimes, but what fun is there in making sense?)
TenMihara 3rd Dec 2013, 12:13 PM edit delete reply
The first combat I ever ran was a bit of a twist on a classic. Mine full of kobolds, but at the bottom of the mine, they had stumbled across an ancient tomb. My party was not expecting the ghost of an ancient Lizardfolk Barbarian I can tell you that much. Said Barbarian was one of six members of an ancient adventuring party (based on a group I have played in previously), whose ancient exploits turned out to be directly linked to each of the major events during the campaign.
Guest 3rd Dec 2013, 12:51 PM edit delete reply
Well. One time, I had a 1st level party with somewhere around 7 members. So it seemed fair enough to use skeletons. Fewer in number than the party, of course. Now, as per the rules, Piercing weapons don't do a thing, Slashing weapons suck, and Bludgeoning weapons actually work.

This is not a party that likes Bludgeoning weapons - something I had forgotten to take into account.

As well as the fact that they're not very observant - after maybe four rounds pass, I practically have the GMPC scream it at them.

Now, here's the entertaining bit. Half the skeletons have maces, and one with a mace had died. So someone picks up the mace and gets swinging. And critically fumbles and KO's himself. So someone ELSE picks up the mace, and RIGHT after finishing one more skeleton, does the same thing.

tl;dr: your party is not always as prepared as you think, your party is not always as smart as you think, and chance is hilarious.
The MunchKING 4th Dec 2013, 5:19 AM edit delete reply
The MunchKING
Chance nothing, that was clearly a cursed mace. :P
Xander Cruize 3rd Dec 2013, 1:11 PM edit delete reply
One of the first major combat sessions I ran was against a knight in service to the goddess of death. He was fighting three player characters and rolling poorly. On one particularly bad fumble, he swung his sword down, but got it stuck in the ground. The momentum caused him to fall down onto the pommel of his sword, causing his breast plate to cave in and crush his ribs, killing him as they pierced his lungs. I learned that you should probably do a die cleanse when the villain is rolling badly.
LegendofMoriad 3rd Dec 2013, 1:54 PM Versatility is Key edit delete reply
I recently ran my first game of Living Legends. It was a trial run, to see how things worked in practice. Didn't go over well, but that had more to do with the players than anything else.

During my first combat, I was throwing minions in. Simple, only a couple abilities, and pretty easy to kill. However, I'd designed half of them to use the fireball spell. The trouble was, it was a close quarters fight. Every time they attacked, they hit themselves. Yes, every time. One even managed to take out an ally.
No players were harmed in the making of this encounter.
Philadelphus 4th Dec 2013, 9:04 AM edit delete reply
Heh, that's pretty funny.
Nox 3rd Dec 2013, 2:52 PM DM Combat edit delete reply
Okay, so I was running for a group of my friends, and it was a dungeon crawl through a school. One of the rooms they traveled through contained a satyr. Due to a game quirk, all the members(except one who got around it) had to play female characters in game. So they rolled a save to resist the sexual lure of the Satyr. My cleric, a drow, failed, and the Satyr pounced her.

This school was a school of magical experiementation, and so they had rigged the area to cause a higher fertiliy rate, as well as a higher rate of growth. Basically, the results of the failed will save were three half-satyr, half-drow children who trotted around calling out " I'm gonna stab you in the baa-ck"

-_- I've never lived that particular session down...
Emily-Ann Coons 3rd Dec 2013, 3:35 PM edit delete reply
I sent my group up against 6 Black Knights and a mage who was controlling them all. The mage teleported to another spot and cast a big aoe attack...It missed the party and killed her knights...She died in one round after that...
HappyMuffin 3rd Dec 2013, 4:30 PM edit delete reply
I tryed GMing once. It didn't work out so well. Got compleatly broken the second session. The first session was fun though.

The first encounter I ever made was a scaled down mimic sutable for level 1 adventurers. It was a large pie... And by large I mean the creature's size not large compaired to other pies. One of the players dove head-first into a mimic.good times.
Giant Hat 3rd Dec 2013, 4:37 PM edit delete reply
Well, I wasn't in the driver's seat for this session (well, I sorta was... more on that later), but somehow I was a Russian sniper playing in a crossover universe with a paladin and an assassin (straight out of Assassin's Creed) when we came up against a... gazebo monster. Our DM insisted it was a reference to something. Now, on the way here, we had gone through a motor pool containing a pilotable Mass Effect 3 Atlas mech which was meant to be scenery hinting at some sort of shady operation. However, I was attracted to the shiny thing so badly that I hopped off the DM's rails and attempted to pilot the thing. Both the DM and my Ground Vehicle Piloting skills let me do this, and the assassin hopped on my back because a) his white robes made him hard to notice on the gleaming white mech and b) it beats walking. So when this monster that was intended to chase us into the boss room arose behind us, I instead stayed behind with the assassin while our paladin (whose skills were apparently custom tailored to one-on-one boss combat) snuck into the duke's hall. We both ended up pummeling the boss and monster with little difficulty (to the protests of our DM), and the game was dropped on account of being too silly.
Onyxjew 3rd Dec 2013, 5:00 PM edit delete reply
Dear Princess Spud,

My first combat as a player explained why not to pick monsters based on flavor text and appearance. The DM is still known to me and me alone as the Balord.

My first combat as a DM was bandits. I didn't really understand the health system and I nearly TPK'd before someone told me 3d6 was far too much for any bow.

I learned to read the stat blocks. Twice.

Your faithful reader,
Lightning Flicker 3rd Dec 2013, 5:48 PM edit delete reply
The first combat encounter I ever ran was during that game that I most often mention, when I threw my players in a science lab. There were scientists with anesthetics and guards with guns, all really weak since there were a lot of them... Well, let's just say that weak and a lot of them doesn't work well when they can attack multiple targets at once.... -_-
Bombom 3rd Dec 2013, 8:19 PM edit delete reply
I know what you mean. Three words: Army of Kobolds
Zeeth 4th Dec 2013, 8:42 PM edit delete reply
Yeah. Kobolds are weak, but when run properly, a tribe of kobolds is a high level encounter.
Matticus 3rd Dec 2013, 6:05 PM edit delete reply
My first experience running combat was back in high school, using Decipher's Lord of the Rings d6 system. It was an introduction/trial session for the game, so I only had two players: a pair of Hobbit archers. The Hobbits had gotten wind of a group of bandits that had kidnapped a little Hobbit girl and had tracked the brigands to their camp. One successfully sneaked up to the cage where the bandits were keeping the girl and managed to get her out without alerting the bandits. Once she was clear, the other started shooting...even though the cage was between him and the bandits.

The LotR system had some quirks that we quickly learned were pretty much game-breaking. For example, monsters and enemies have stats, but GMs are encouraged to ignore them (everyone has so much health that even basic fights can take forever) in favor of the "mook rule." Basically, if players can crit a non-boss mook (as in double its defense), they kill it outright. Also, whenever a player rolls a natural 6 in their dice pool, they get to roll another d6. If that also comes up 6, they get to roll again, etc. And that was for attack AND damage, by the way. So depending on how lucky they were, it wasn't unusual to just make enemies explode, especially if your race gets bonuses to the weapon you're using. And seeing how Hobbits got bonuses to all ranged attacks...

So the second Hobbit rolled his attack (something like 4d6 or so) and got multiple 6s, shooting through the bars of the cage to catch a bandit in the eye socket. His next attack didn't double the bandit's defense, but his dice did explode on damage, so he one-shot that one too. Within three rounds, a camp full of bandits was completely wiped out, and our heroes hadn't gotten so much as a scratch. This wouldn't be the last time they would pull that off.
JSchunx 3rd Dec 2013, 6:28 PM edit delete reply
One of the first times I DM'd, I so badly misunderstood the challenge rating system, that I set a party of 3 8th level characters against an Ogre Mage, an Ogre Barbarian, and 4 Ogres, in a setting that was under constant earthquakes.

A TPK ensued. As did a lot of rereading on my part.
Valron 3rd Dec 2013, 7:44 PM edit delete reply
Well, I just started GMing my first game a few weeks ago, and I learned a good lesson from my first real combat: if you're trying something complex and dramatic during the fight, expect the players to one-shot your most important enemy. In my first battle as GM, I had planned for the player to kill the two guards that would attack them immediately upon entering a warehouse. The Blood Mage in the back was then supposed to raise the guards as much tougher zombies and the real fight would begin. The players killed one guard immediately and diplomancered the second one into not attacking them. Then the second guard got the blood mage so they could talk to the players. The mage hits the players with a strong spell that severely inhibits their attacks, and a player still oneshots the mage with his crossbow. Luckily, I remembered the raise zombie spell is Rank 1 in L5R, so the second guard was able to cast it on the first guard and the now dead mage. So the fight continued as planned, only without the mage backing up the zombies. I totally panicked when they killed the mage though.

tl,dr: Always have a backup plan if the fight needs to go a certain way.
sungardener 4th Dec 2013, 4:07 AM edit delete reply
A good trick I've learned is to have very unimportant villains monologue. The bog-standard looking guard in the back, wearing non-magic chainmail? Yeah, the actual evil overlord. I actually had them spare the guard the first time, presume she was dead the second, and by the fourth encounter - they were wondering why the plans of the villain hadn't stopped yet - one of them noticed that I'd been using a pretty familiar guard in all the encounters, and asked if they recognized her.

Cue sudden dread and panic as the players realized they'd been targeting the wrong people the entire time. Naturally, I have to mix this up from time to time - but playing with the expectations of the players and the characters can be a good trick. By the end, the players actually decided to switch sides - it worked because the setting was fairly morally ambivalent.
Zuche 4th Dec 2013, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
I enjoyed that story. Good to know your players did too.
Akouma 3rd Dec 2013, 8:10 PM edit delete reply
My first combat was the players breaking out of jail. They made it up to the ground floor before they were caught and a mob of minion shardmind guards were there to meet them. They had knives charged with a light electric spell, so if they hit you, you're granting combat advantage. If they hit a target who's ALREADY granting CA, then that target is knocked down.

These were the bog-standard mooks of the campaign basically until hell itself erupted from the beneath the shardmind capital city and forced what was left of civilization to band together.

The earliest combat encounter I ever made where I'm not at least a little proud is the one right after they escaped the city and were attacked on the road by a wandering monster. Yeah. I did THAT. Fun fight, dumb that it happened in the first place.
Bombom 3rd Dec 2013, 8:16 PM edit delete reply
I had the 3 adventurers trying to save the city of Falcrest from an army of kobolds and a level 15 dragon. I was going to have someone save them when they were in dire need of help from the kobolds, then have him be a sort of guide to them.

They flattened about 36 Kobolds in 45 minutes... I forgot one of them gained hit points with every attack, and the other got to hit a nearby target of the original target (5spaces), if the attack roll was odd. The guy saved them, but they didn't really need it.

Wilizin 3rd Dec 2013, 9:15 PM The DM board exists for a reason edit delete reply
I learned on my first combat situation that disguising the DM's rolls is by far the most important thing.

The situation was the group had just climbed a large hill in an abandoned city, when they were ambushed by a group of thieves jumping from the rooftops. Originally this was supposed to be a nasty surprise attack that would set the tone that anything and everything could pop out in the dilapidated city...

Unfortunately, what happened next went down as the worst ambush in any game me and my friends had played. I rolled individually for each of the thieves on their ambush strike, and each of my rolls was worst than the last. 1 six, 2 threes, 1 two, and 2 ones. And due to my lack of a DM board hiding my rolls, everyone saw it and there was no way to flub the results.

This lead to one thief colliding with our mage and stunning said mage; three missing their targets and faceplanting in the ground; one thief shish-ka-bobbed himself on our warriors halabard, and the final one fell into a rain barrel next to the bard. The bard then kicked the barrel down the hill they had just climbed, sending that thief off a cliff and into the jagged rocks below. The rest of the thieves were mopped up in one turn.

So the lesson here folks is have a DM board, so that way you don't botch your campaign to a series of crappy rolls and let everyone know about it.
TheAngryVegan 3rd Dec 2013, 9:57 PM edit delete reply
I'm four sessions into my first campaign ever, and the DM has us helping some monks get back a statue stolen a few hours before we run into them. It was stolen by a troll and trees grow back in just a few days, so tracking was easy. We get to it, and it turns out to be greater undead. Our necromancer tries to command it, which fails miserably, and my rogue looses a shot from the ballista we've been toting around, which also misses. Two rounds later, the necromancer casts command undead again, and the troll rolls a natural 1 on its will save. One coup de grace later, we're all level 4.
Senshuken 3rd Dec 2013, 10:19 PM edit delete reply
First battle I did as a DM on Pathfinder I'm rather proud of.

First session, the characters were drawn to a large crowd that had been drawn towards one of the cities main taverns. The night before, Kobolds have tunneled into the cellar and invaded the tavern, taking people sleeping up on the second floor hostage. They boarded all the windows with tables and other furniture.

Since this was a hostage situation and the local guard really wasn't equipped for it, they instead hired on the PC's as additional help.

The tavern was very much on fire by the end of it, thanks to the Kobold's usage of a dust explosion trap (The player who walked through the front door is insanely lucky that the resulting explosion was sucked out the door and not into him) and setting the cellar on fire to cover the survives escape.
emmerlaus 4th Dec 2013, 5:48 AM Battle edit delete reply
I don't remember my very first battle... so I'll tell one epic battle I had (not sure if I already shared this story or not)

We were doing a semi epic campaign of D&D and after telling us the huge amount of gold we get, I ask:

" Is tehre limit on how many gold we can spend on one single item?

And his answer was: "No, no limit."

In the session afterward, we actually began ith a small roleplay (that include getting items we got with our gold) and a battle: the old sensei of one of the character who want to kill his student who fallen in the dark side.

The Gm clearly miscalculated how strong he made the enemy and was uneasy about what he thought would be a total party kill. So I reassure him by saying: " Don't worry, I'll save everyone ass on my turn."

Nobody believed me as I wasnt the most damage dealing character in our group.

But when its my turn (I was the LAST person to play, I gave them a reminder of what the biggest item I got in the beginning of the session. The Gm is like:

" You mean your reflecting shield?"
- No, the shield have a mirror surface on it but he doesnt have the Reflecting quality. Instead, I paid extra to put the quality of a "Mirror of Opposition" into the shield."

Yeah, that game breaking item that should't be in any players hand ended in my hands because of GM laxism. The GM was glad that I did and I saved the encounter.

However, I had to quit the game afterward, for a few reasons:

1) It have being a while but I was the only good alignated person in the party and it was beginning to show that my character didn't belong in the group.

2) The Gm didn't want a player with that item in his hands for the future game sessions. I can understand why LOL

3) The rest of the group was actually PISSED that I saved the situation and that they couldnt claim their character helped. Yeah, pretty much a immature group I was into so I didn't mind leaving anyway.


My first battle might have being in Shadowrun setting, I think... Was playing a mage and battle some basiliks in cave tunnels.

The only think I learned is not not underestimate the power of a grenade in a tunnel.
Guest 4th Dec 2013, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
First time I DM'd a REAL encounter was not too long ago, several weeks. Maybe 6.

My group entered a cave reported to have Orcs (kinda confirmed by the guard now lying dead outside). The first thing I realized was that putting in 4 weak mobs and 1 strong one sounds fun, but when that 1 guy has enough health to survive 20 turns and too much base damage reduction to take more than one damage...

Well, he is now known as "that flaming Orc", which is a reference to him being on fire for 10 turns...
Dingobabee 4th Dec 2013, 12:41 PM Dingobabee edit delete reply
The first time I ran combat was also my first time learning not to pit NPC rage against a drunken master.
Basically, I was trying to start a bar fight to get all of the pc's together. What I didn't plan on was the monk buying the enraged parties drinks and mending the situation.
Not only that, but when some people actually started to brawl, the magician cast sleep, which wound up hitting ONLY the two who were going to start the brawl...
The monk then proceeded to take both NPC's to the police and return to the bar for some more drinks, and for the party samurai to buy him some dinner...
I basically learned that actually starting combat is difficult when everyone is either amiable or too tired to care.
TheFreshDM 4th Dec 2013, 7:43 PM edit delete reply
Learning experiences well in my most recent adventure I had the very first encounter (which was mean to be easy) turrn out to be the most challenging for the group. However it also gave birth to a character that will forever be known as: Andre The Giant and a inside joke of ours. (Reason was it mainly was a monk that specialized in grappling and in the middle of the grappling one of the characters asked out of curiosity what his grapple score was: I responded +11 o which a friend of mine said: "What is this guy Andre The Giant?" And another friend of mine responded to this with: "OH YEAH HULKIMANIA BROTHER!" This quote has ever since become used in our games and in real life.
Drachefly 5th Dec 2013, 11:27 AM Nonlethality edit delete reply
My first combat encounters were a knight against a lion in Pendragon. Even with good rolls, the knight was utterly toast.

My lesson from that was, "Make sure you get a sense for how powerful your characters are before you send them at a challenge."

After that I delayed characters entering the adventuring business until they'd trained up a fair amount with squad combat against humans.
Filkin Raous 6th Dec 2013, 8:43 PM edit delete reply
The first session I ran was 3.5 with modified rules. Feats were upped to every other level and attribute points to every third. I began my party at fifth level. Fifth level, hah.

It was just a simple tavern brawl. CR7, two thieves and a ranger. The characters had everyone dead before the first round was through.

Only later did I discover what those simple modifications did to party CR. They are only balanced against their challenge rating plus four. Still, it keeps things interesting. Their health levels are still low. And I run an outsider-heavy campaign.
Ironhart 2nd Jan 2014, 11:29 AM edit delete reply
My first ever combat as a GM was Dark Heresy, around mid-level. I'd recently been playing in it but I took over GM duties after our real one was forced to leave for a bit. The roleplay was going pretty well, the scenario being a hive on a small, backwater world being invaded by homebrewed lizard aliens I called Ithilyans. They'd tailed one of the aliens back to a sewer-based complex underneath the hive (which was secretly the den of a coven of psykers who had conspired to bring them to the planet for reasons I hadn't quite worked through at the time) and they started a basic infiltration into it. I had planned for a sort of combat later in the infiltration, but one happened a good deal earlier than I expected.
As these things go, newbie GM that I was wasn't prepared for them to get off my established rails. It was only after our party psyker had decided he'd use one of the byzantine powers he had worked out to teleport into the control center as an ephemeral presence and fill my scripted bosses with mind bullets that I eventually decided "right, you're discovered by a patrol." These aliens were probably broken for the level, with toxic-ammunition weapons and armour superior to anything the party had, but ideally they wouldn't be fighting them yet. The patrol was designed to be a corralling measure, and if they managed to beat them, well, the alarm is sounding, time to surrender and get back on my rails before you're overwhelmed.
Thing is, I'd allowed everyone to have a low-level assistant to give the party a bit of diversity. One certain player had decided to make his an Ogryn, and as he was a Commissar (somehow) this meant he could be decked out in the best armour they could afford at this tier. He had also optimised his stats to be a melee meat grinder. Happy-go-lucky innocent GM I was, I didn't bat an eyelid at this, more concerned with telling a story than all the numbers and stats.
The combat... well. I allowed myself to be fast-talked a bit, and suddenly my mild TPK was being used as throwing weapons and gun dispensers while their scant rounds of firepower pattered off his armour. Even when more aliens showed up with heavy weapons to take down the pernicious Ogryn, the rest of the party provided enough covering fire for it to get close and mutilate them. I was in a bit of a state at that point, so we called the session off an hour or so early as my plans had been completely derailed.
All in all, it was a bit of a disaster of a first fight!
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