DM Notes: "Panic! At the Disco (Part 2)
Hey Dice Droppers,
Welcome back to DM Notes! Your weekly look into the mind of a Dungeon Master.
This week we are talking about Panic! At the Disco (Part 2), taking a look at our first actual foray into the combat system of Mutants and Masterminds and the party really coming together for the first time as a team. If you haven’t listened to the latest episode, I advise you to go listen to it before reading this post as it will be filled with spoilers about the episode. You can listen to it, and our other episodes, by clicking the “Episodes” tab at the top of the page.
So, this episode kicks off where the last left off, hence the two-part episode. The last episode left off with the party facing down a gang of street thugs in the VIP section of the Mutation Club. Their informant, a lieutenant named Skull, had been outed by the party as a Nark, and thrown through the viewing panels down to the club below. We do not know yet if he survived the fall, but our heroes are faced with a bigger problem, the six goons surrounding them.
So, now we get into our first battle in the new system. And there is something I want to acknowledge going into the battle. There was a bit of confusion in the rules that I later fixed in later episodes we have recorded at the time of writing. The confusion comes from the use of the strength skill in close combat. Whenever a player made a close combat attack, I had them make a strength check. This was incorrect, as it should have been a fighting or close combat check.
Now that that is out of the way, there is something that I would like to talk about when running a combat scenario. As a Dungeon Master, your job is to, first and foremost, ensure that your players are having fun. If combat is not handled properly, players can find combat tedious and just boring. So, as a dungeon master, here are a few tips that I use to help both keep the players engaged.
· Combat boils down to a lot of dice rolling. Keep the dice rolling to a minimum.
o For example, if you have multiple enemies attacking at once, roll multiple d20s and tell your players how many hits they take, rather than asking for rolls multiple times.
· If you have multiple enemies, group them up. If it is a small encounter, have your NPCs take their turns on the same turn to speed up combat and does not break up player actions.
o If you have a large combat encounter, break your enemies into multiple groups. Say you have an encounter comprised of 3 Kobolds, 4 goblins, and a Goblin King. Have the Kobolds take a turn, the goblins on another, and the king on a separate since his attacks are probably much stronger.
o This also keeps your initiative tracker clean and concise.
· Make the dice rolls a part of the narrative like you would during the RP portions of the game.
o For example, in the initial stages of the encounter, Elena was not rolling well for her water attacks. This was the first time Remi was using her powers properly, in a stressful scenario. Her bad rolls were played off as Remi still resisting using her powers.
· Do not fudge your rolls…much.
o What happens behind the DM Screen, stays behind the DM screen. Dungeon Masters tend to abuse this power by fudging rolls. Now, the occasional roll or two to keep players from dying or to turn the tide of the battle is one thing, but constantly fudging rolls and you may as well make this a scripted battle.
§ Remember, this is still a game. Games have challenges and the dice decide your fate. Remember, the Dice Gods are always watching.
So, guys, with that, said, those are my thoughts going into a combat encounter. Wednesday I will go further into planning a combat encounter, particularly in Mutants and Masterminds. The combat encounter was the biggest part of this episode, but there was something I also wanted to talk about which I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
This is the episode you really start to see the party coming together as a team. Nothing beats seeing a team coming together for the first time. The first combat encounter in a tabletop game can tell you a lot of things about the party. You can tell if the characters are going to work going forward in the campaign. You can tell if their abilities mesh well. You can tell if the players are going to work well if this is a new game with a new set of players.
In this episode, you can see how our heroes came together as a team. Oswald taking the lead in combat using his shield to pick up where his teammates were falling. You can see River coming into her own with her powers and using them to take out the enemy. You can also see Remi’s internal struggle with her abilities and how she adapted to it with the help of her teammates.
So, guys, what were your favorite parts of the latest episode? Did you like the combat encounter? Let me know what you thought in the comments down below. Make sure to listen to “Panic! At the Disco (Part 2)” if you haven’t already. Tune in tomorrow for the trailer for this Friday’s episode “Enemy of the State”. Check back on Wednesday for the next post, right here on DM Notes.
Until then, thank you for your continued support. Stay Safe!
Your Dungeon Master,