Adding to the Drama

All topics including role playing games, board games, etc., etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
DangerDwarf
Maukling
Posts: 5284
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 7:00 am
Location: East Texas

Adding to the Drama

Post by DangerDwarf »

For the CK's out there. What are some of the methods you use to add to the drama of a session, make your players sit on the edge of their seats?

I use alot of the typical methods, voices, maybe a sound effect from time to time and some visual effects. My all time favorite though is the visible dice role.

Most of the time me and my dice are down behind my screen but I've come up with an excellent way of adding to the tension of an encounter without my players even consciously realizing I'm doing it.

During that "big fight" when the PC's have been giving it their all and it is all coming down to it's conclusion. You know the moment, when the villain lifts his massive sword for a swing against the beleagured PC who has so few HP's left this next hit might very well kill him.

For these instances, my die "misses" my screen and does a slow, deliberate roll down to the center of the table. Every player there edges forward some, craining their necks to see what is going to happen, will Bob the fighter live or die?

As the die stops right in the middle of everyone there is either a group cheer or a group groan followed by a flurry of announcements everyone present.

I love it.

I do the same thing when the wizards gets off that one last spell that might incapacitate their foe and save the day. Badguy has to make a save? Oops...I missed my screen again, look at that die roll.
I'm sure there are other great ways to help build the tension and drama at the table. So, what do you have?

User avatar
Breakdaddy
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 3875
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Breakdaddy »

I try to add a story hook or element in each game session we play, even if it's something that the players dont remember (sadly, this is often the case). When it pays off, it pays off nicely though. It really seems to add continuity to the overarching campaign.
"If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."
-Genghis Khan

User avatar
BeZurKur
Hlobane Orc
Posts: 116
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:00 am

Post by BeZurKur »

Those are some good ones DD. I use some of those as well telling my players what a failed roll means. For example, if orcs are about to ambush them, a borrow a page from the movies and tell the players what their characters do NOT know: Green skinned orcs grasp black iron swords and look on as you make your camp. Make a wisdom check to see if they get the jump on you!

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

We use whimsy cards, which can be used once per session (unless someone has the rally card which gives everyone back their hand), and they help in the tight, dramatic spots.

User avatar
DangerDwarf
Maukling
Posts: 5284
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 7:00 am
Location: East Texas

Post by DangerDwarf »

Breakdaddy wrote:
I try to add a story hook or element in each game session we play, even if it's something that the players dont remember (sadly, this is often the case). When it pays off, it pays off nicely though. It really seems to add continuity to the overarching campaign.

I like that, definately going to have to try that out.

I also like to make "pointless" dice rolls, which is an art form I'm afraid some of those newer to gaming have yet to grasp. One of my groups (these are all players who came into gaming during the 3e era) I am the only one who DM's who does the pointless rolls.

You old timers know what I'm talking about. As the party searches through a room you might roll a die for absolutely no reason. The players hear it clatter and all look at eachother then go back to searching. Works great when you throw in questions with it.

*clatter of the dice*

CK: OUch. Rogue, whats your wisdom again?

Rogue PLayer: Ummm..why? Ummm, shit.. thirteen?

CK: *brow wrinkled thoughtfully* Ok, nevermind, you're cool.

The whole time the only thing you did was decide what you were going to watch on TV when you got home. The roll wasn't for anything and now your players are increasingly on their toes.

Emryys
Red Cap
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Emryys »

DangerDwarf wrote:
I also like to make "pointless" dice rolls, which is an art form I'm afraid some of those newer to gaming have yet to grasp.

It truely is a CK craft!
Puts fear into the hearts of Men! ... and Dwarves, elves, etc...
_________________

PeelSeel2
Ulthal
Posts: 610
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Wayne, NE

Post by PeelSeel2 »

DangerDwarf wrote:
I like that, definately going to have to try that out.

I also like to make "pointless" dice rolls, which is an art form I'm afraid some of those newer to gaming have yet to grasp. One of my groups (these are all players who came into gaming during the 3e era) I am the only one who DM's who does the pointless rolls.

You old timers know what I'm talking about. As the party searches through a room you might roll a die for absolutely no reason. The players hear it clatter and all look at eachother then go back to searching. Works great when you throw in questions with it.

*clatter of the dice*

CK: OUch. Rogue, whats your wisdom again?

Rogue PLayer: Ummm..why? Ummm, shit.. thirteen?

CK: *brow wrinkled thoughtfully* Ok, nevermind, you're cool.

The whole time the only thing you did was decide what you were going to watch on TV when you got home. The roll wasn't for anything and now your players are increasingly on their toes.

I love doing that! "Ok, so you open the door? Make a saving throw vs. Death and let me know what you get."
_________________
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

-George Washington

Chugosh
Mist Elf
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Chugosh »

I like doing the setting thing, where the house is candle lit (have to be very familiar with your characters or use very dark bold ink) and the decor is conducive to it all.

Jynx
Red Cap
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Jynx »

I do a very simple thing... I leave them hanging!
Last night, they were fightng a beholder, which not to there knoweldge, was actually a Gauth with an illusion cast upon him to look like a Beholder. So when a greenish ray fired off at one of the characters, and he quite easily failed his save, I simply got up and said excuse me a minute, I've got to go to the washroom. Then I came downstirs calmly about 6 minutes later and announced that the character was disintegrated... well not really, since it was an illusion, but he did die.

I always leave em hangning, even when they roll for a save for whatever reason. I usually say "I'll get back to you" and then move on to the next person in the initiative.

User avatar
DangerDwarf
Maukling
Posts: 5284
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 7:00 am
Location: East Texas

Post by DangerDwarf »

Jynx wrote:
So when a greenish ray fired off at one of the characters, and he quite easily failed his save, I simply got up and said excuse me a minute, I've got to go to the washroom.

Hah! That's beautiful. I've got to remember that.

angelius
Lore Drake
Posts: 1134
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 7:00 am

Post by angelius »

I go for the atmo.

I use delibrate lighting. Even sometimes playing in complete darkness with only a camping lantern (or two). We play in the basement so thats easy to do.

Also I have my laptop with me and I have playlists of most of Jeremy Soules stuff and I can easily click on what track to play to enhance the game.
_________________
Big Iron Vault Your friendly neighbourhood gaming magazine. Check out our new webcomic, The Heindrich Project!

User avatar
Combat_Kyle
Ulthal
Posts: 737
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Location: St. Paul, MN
Contact:

Post by Combat_Kyle »

I use the flase die roll as well. Also my main plot badguys always have identifiable marks or items that boil the players blood.

CK: The goblins in the campsite are wearing red hats.

Player: Its the red caps kill them all, I hate those bastards.

CK: You see the goblins conversing with a strange human, wearing a helmet fashioned out of a skull.

Player: Huh? Man first the red caps now the skull guys! Damn you and your organized bad guys.

ANyway, the players always enjoy killing these faction baddies much more than the random ones. Plus plot hooks are made easy as the players will follow a clue about them at the drop of a hat.
_________________
CK the CK
"My goddess touched me at an early age."

-Grikis Valmorgen, Paladin

The beginnings of my homebrew campaign world and info for my play by chat game:
http://kbdekker.googlepages.com/home

Maliki
Lore Drake
Posts: 1523
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Maliki »

Asking them to hand over their character sheet, so I can see something, plus a few pointless dice rolls seem to do the trick.
_________________
Never throw rocks at a man with a Vorpal Sword!

PeelSeel2
Ulthal
Posts: 610
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Wayne, NE

Post by PeelSeel2 »

I also roll all combat rolls for NPC's outside the screen. That adds alot of tensity to the moment. I have the party roll one dice of Initiative, and I roll one. Their is always a little fight on their side of the screen to see who gets to roll against me. Whenever I roll to hit (especially at lower levels) they noticably squirm. It is great fun!! They all cheer when I fumble, and they all feel sorry for the character I critical on.
_________________
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

-George Washington

User avatar
DangerDwarf
Maukling
Posts: 5284
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 7:00 am
Location: East Texas

Post by DangerDwarf »

My only dislike on rolling all combat rolls outside of the screen is that I fully admit, once in a great while I'll fudge a roll.

One notable example was during a 3e DL campaign I was running. It was an extremely tense session with the party doing a hit and run raid into a Drak Knight stronghold (SoS adventure). The party was engaged in a "by the skin of their teeth" fight where the party fighter was facing a NPC knight in single combat as the rest of the party was fighting the henchmen.

The fight itself was extremely close, with neither side having a huge lead over the other. Finally, the fighter had a few good dice rolls and it was apparent she would come out the victor allthough BADLY wounded.

Running her sword through the knight's chest in a killing blow he stood there slack jawed a moment and saluted her. Then he lunged down the length of her blade for one final strike (Die Hard feat). Well, I did my dramatic slow roll down the middle of the table for dramatic effect and what pops up? A natural 20 and it had a VERY real possibility of killing the character.

She ended up living through the attack but I'll admit even I was nervous at the moment as it had a chance to derail the rest of the session.

Luckily everything worked out good, it was a roll I probably would have fudged behind the screen though. All in all, I'm glad I rolled it in the open though. Wow you should have seen the table erupt when it stopped on the 20. The gnashing of teeth and groans from ALL of the players.

To this day, that is probably one of opur most memorable sessions there were so many close calls like that. The players actually a slumped in their chairs and breathed a sigh of exhaustion when we were done.

Damn I love good gaming.

PeelSeel2
Ulthal
Posts: 610
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Wayne, NE

Post by PeelSeel2 »

That is why I like rolling outside the screen, because those moments are the best!! I do not like to kill characters, but if it happens like that, then I do not feel guilt, and the player does not 'blame' me (as much).
_________________
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

-George Washington

User avatar
DangerDwarf
Maukling
Posts: 5284
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 7:00 am
Location: East Texas

Post by DangerDwarf »

Yeah, I can definately see the benefit there. Some of my deadly, "no holds barred" campaigns I have done like that for the same reason.

rabindranath72
Lore Drake
Posts: 1102
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 7:00 am

Post by rabindranath72 »

I too sometimes roll "in the open", or ask for needless rolls.

Plus, I take care to create some story hooks for which the players feel personally, for example an NPC that they come to love, or is a close acquaintance a priori. And when the NPCs are threatened...all hell breaks loose!

I also like acting voices, or creating strange sounds with my hands under the table (sudden knocks, grating sounds) or I suddenly jump from the seat to the throat of a player; this works best with undead that the PCs think are really dead. Imagine they look into a coffin, and my hand suddenly grasps the throat of a player
Or, sometimes I stand up and walk around the table. Even without doing anything makes the players nervous.

Cheers,

Antonio

User avatar
StealthSuitStanley
Hlobane Orc
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Sidney, OH, USA

Post by StealthSuitStanley »

I like the "wandering CK idea. It works really well if you stop every once in a while and grab another player's d20 and roll it, hiding the roll behind my hand so only one or two players can see the result. Or peek over their shoulder to look at their character sheet.

Good stuff all around!
_________________
later

SSS

----------------------------

"Size matters not."

-Yoda, Jedi Master
CK of the Planewalker's Society

User avatar
Breakdaddy
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 3875
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:00 am

Post by Breakdaddy »

I've been adding a lot of cinematic touches to combats as well. In a forest battle by some ancient druidic standing stones, set in a sunny clearing in the otherwise thick and dreary woods the party fought a Cyclops. By the time the battle ceased they had put out its eye, cut an ear off, and hamstrung it. It had managed to beat one character's shield into uselessness, knock the helm off another, and kicked the party druid so hard that he flew backwards, arms splayed and flailing, about 10'. His feet raked over the very top of a large pile of rocks set in the middle of the standing stones (kicking up a cloud of debris and scattering pebbles and rocks all about the area) as he flew overhead, crashing back-first onto one of the standing stones before slumping to the ground. It was amazingly fun.
"If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."
-Genghis Khan

rabindranath72
Lore Drake
Posts: 1102
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 7:00 am

Post by rabindranath72 »

Another thing I like to do is to give characters their chances of survival to themselves. Essentially, in some hectic moments, I allow one of them to roll a die that I should roll instead. They know the moment has come when I say "cast your fate!". Sometimes it is for real, sometimes it is just to scare them. It works marvellously well. And it is the only time in which they roll dice, and they pray that a low number results!

angelius
Lore Drake
Posts: 1134
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 7:00 am

Post by angelius »

The false roll is the bread and butter of CKing!

Also the "Spot trap" roll.

Unless they found a trap, I always tell them that "They don't see anything...at the moment."
_________________
Big Iron Vault Your friendly neighbourhood gaming magazine. Check out our new webcomic, The Heindrich Project!

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

I just found some really neat d6s. They have these faces on them, like emoticons, ranging from extreme happy to wanna-kick-yo-mule angry... so, I'm going to use them as "reaction dice" in my games from now on. That should make things a bit more dramatic. ;) I figure a bonus/penalty will cause the die face to change. Haven't worked it out totally, but its gonna be fun.

rabindranath72
Lore Drake
Posts: 1102
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 7:00 am

Post by rabindranath72 »

serleran wrote:
I just found some really neat d6s. They have these faces on them, like emoticons, ranging from extreme happy to wanna-kick-yo-mule angry... so, I'm going to use them as "reaction dice" in my games from now on. That should make things a bit more dramatic. I figure a bonus/penalty will cause the die face to change. Haven't worked it out totally, but its gonna be fun.

Yes, these "extraneous" elements can be quite fun. I have used for a long time the Fate Deck of the Dragonlance SAGA game, with its moon colors, adjectives etc. It really enhances the experience.

User avatar
Lurker
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 4044
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:00 am
Location: Oklahoma

Post by Lurker »

Some good things here.

I've always like having music in the background & when big combat is starting play Ride of the Valkori, or Mars Bringer of War. Even to the point where if it comes up on random then an arrow comes out of no where, followed by AMBUSH! Boy it is so fun to watch them scramble to arms at the first few notes of a song.

Wondering around & false rolls are defiantly a must for a good CK!

Rabin like your role your own fate idea. I'll add that to my bag of goodies!
_________________
"And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!" - Mark Twain

Forgive all spelling errors.

Knight Errant & Humble C&C Society Contributor
C&C Society
"And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!" - Mark Twain

Forgive all spelling errors.

Knight Errant & Humble C&C Society Contributor
C&C Society

Post Reply