Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DM Advice: Dungeons and Wet Dragons

“It’s wet and all these monsters are trying to get us!” said the scantily clad red-haired woman with the long sword and fiery temper.

“Let’s set up over on those rocks. Maybe we can use them as a place to hide.” pondered the surprisingly brain induced barbarian who had recently ate his Wheaties.

“Ah but we need to make sure that we’re out of the rain.” replied the all-knowing all seeing wizard elf guy who always got on everyone’s nerves.

At once as if out of thin air the dragon approached.  “Rain or no rain we’re in it over our heads.” Chided the wizard. “Ya think?” said the red head. “Smash” replied the barbarian, now out of special brain juice.

It’s times like these that we as DMs REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY love to turn up the adventure by changing the rain to a deluge.  How does this affect the game though one might ask? 

Johnny poindexter AKA “The Ball Busting Game Lawyer” might say “Well the official rules say blah blah blah and we need to make X reflex save versus water or fall down and be hurt.” What fun is that!?

I ask you. How many rainstorms are EXACTLY the same?  Exactly none.  Exactly.  Now that we have that out of way how do we approach said deluge?  Well for me it’s a matter of flipping a storytelling switch.

“OK guys the rain begins to pour down and completely obscures the dragon” I make a few rolls behind the screen to see if the dragon can sense the party. No problem and he’s hungry. Bonus! “The rain has reduced the area around you to a 50% concealment and the hail is causing non-lethal damage of 1d6 every turn. What do you do?”

The red head “I run into the caves and take shelter waiting for the dragon to show up. I am ready with my bow.”

“OK, you run into the caves which seems a good idea.”

“What about the rest of you”

Obnoxious wizard “I begin casting protection from elements and use my blind fighting ability to get my bearings. I then burn an action point to cast another spell at the dragon to which I get to reroll any missed chances due to my blind fighting ability.” He rolls. “A hit! Ah shucks I missed the first concealment roll. Here’s the second. A hit! Alright!”

“The dragon seems to cry in the distance but you cannot hear that well since the rain is pounding so hard. By the way, make a concentration check because of the amount of rain.”

Wizard “The official rules state that..”

I cut him off “Make the check.”

Wizard “Ok, gosh all you had to do was ask. Dang.”

Me “Ok Barbarian what are you doing?”

“I jump at the dragon.”


“Yeah, nothing happens.”

Barbarian “OK, I run into the cavern with the fighter.”
So now I have players making concealment checks to hit the dragon. To be fair, I make the dragon make concealment checks to hit the party. Almost everyone has blind fighting so they are all rerolling misses. After a few rounds of combat the dragon has been hurt and the party has taken their licks.

“The dragon flies off into the rain provoking an attack of opportunity.”

The party makes AoOs and some land hits causing more damage to the dragon.

Then the fun begins as the evil druid friend of the dragon begins calling lighting down in the storm at the party. More concealment checks and more rolls to retain footing on the slippery caverns as they are hit by the blasts.

After a few more rounds of combat the party retreats into the cave.

Wizard “I told you guys we should have hid in the cave from the start.”

Fighter “Shuddup.”

Barbarian “I charge out at the druid.”

Me “Roll to hit.”

Barbarian “I crit!” and he completely defeats the druid because the druid fails his fort save for extreme damage.

Barbarian brings back some treasure for the fighter.

Wizard “hey where’s mine?”
Barbarian “You hid.”

If you followed my internal banter you could see that as a DM I like to make up changes to environments as the players progress in the game.  Sometimes I like to go ‘by the book’ as much as possible but occasionally something will happen that requires a more cinematic bent.  When those times occur I like to turn on what I like to call ‘storytelling mode’. 

See how much fun it is when you add elements such as torrential rain to a run of the mill dragon encounter in Barrier Peaks?


  1. Just don't forget the fun of keeping that rain going out of combat too. Trying to find warm dry places to camp, and even if possible, hail on the tent/roof keeping everyone awake. Any light in teh darkness atrracting other dangers... the list just goes on and on!

  2. shortymonster you bring up a good point and I am glad you did. There are a great many roleplaying possibilities with environments. The possibilities are endless with them looking around for shelter and food even if players try to use things like spells to stave off the cold or hunger.

    The old light attracting other dangers routine ah I know it and love it well. I can see many parties setting up camp in that cave. Who know what dangers lurk at the mouth of caves? Does anyone remember what happened to poor Baggins company in The Hobbit?