Wednesday, April 13, 2011

DM Tips: The DM Action Point

As I stated in my previous post, My House Rules, I mentioned how I used something I call Dungeon Master Action Points, or DMAPs, to supplement the need for Action Points in games where my players travel long distances between encounters. Unlike regular Action Points, these ones do not reset to 1 after an extended rest. You earn them and spend them.

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 2004, the height of 3.5E's rule. In nearly every game I've played in, or even ran, we used small amounts of Experience Points, XP, as a reward for things like: excellent roleplaying, entertaining ideas, or even bringing food. In 3.5E, the rules allowed for players to be slightly behind or ahead of the others with mechanics referring to the Effective Level, or EL, of the party.

Dungeons and Dragons 4E is a little less flexible in this manner. There are no rules for the party's EL, nor is there any method to balance that. The rules automatically assume that the entire party is of the same level, with a similar amount of magical items or intrinsic bonuses that give your party the edge it needs to defeat the enemy. This makes using XP as that kind of reward game breaking.

Before I continue, yes, it is not that big a deal for DMs to compensate for. If a character is only one level ahead for maybe one or two sessions, it is not a problem. Frankly, you may not even need to compensate for it. However, consider this happening over an entire campaign from heroic tier to epic tier and there is that one player who is quiet or just there to hang out and play a game, the Watcher type of player. That person's character is going to eventually end up several levels below the rest of the party, breaking the balance of the party.

After much thought, this was the best reason to keep implementing DMAPs into my game. The benefits include:
  • The EL of the party remains equal to the individual character level.
  • Parties that travel great distances between encounters can still use and enjoy the Action Point mechanic.
  • The DM saves time planning the games to come since he no longer has to worry about not killing the lowest level character.
  • Players are encouraged to get more creative and involved when they are rewarded with the chance to do more in one round than usual.
 Give it a try in your own games and let me know how it goes. My players love it and I hope yours do too.

No comments:

Post a Comment