Scales of War
Below are a few guidelines to keep in mind when we’re playing Scales of War.
Railroading isn’t fun. Combats flow according to the dice; encounters flow according to your roleplaying choices. No dumbing monsters down or forcing you through a predetermined encounter path. At times, your possible courses of action will be constrained, but those constraints will (hopefully!) emerge naturally from the story itself (e.g. you decide not to anger the mage because he will kill the hostages you are trying to rescue, and not because the DM has just arbitrarily decided you can’t anger him). Similarly, I don’t have hidden auto-hit or auto-miss macros that I use to steer a fight a certain way. If you guys steamroll through an encounter I thought was going to be challenging for you, or bypass a planned RP encounter through devious planning or creativity, so be it.
When possible, don’t mess with The Rules. As much as I can, I will enforce rules that add positive complexity to the game, because I feel that doing so differentiates characters from each other by emphasizing specific character attributes in certain situations. A character that has an easier time gaining partial cover, for example, should be rewarded for his build by the DM enforcing partial cover at all times. By contrast, I will generally eschew or simplify rules that complicate the game needlessly.
Monsters act according to who they are. An unintelligent monster will attack whoever hit him last, take OAs to pursue a foe who arouses his ire, and generally fail to be a crafty opponent. A leader or boss, on the other hand, will be as intelligent in combat as I can play him (ok, so maybe not that intelligent ;)).
When your turn is over, it’s over. With one or two exceptions (such as forgetting to make a compulsory end-of-turn saving throw), I won’t allow you to go back and “do over” any aspect of your turn. And to be fair, I’ll apply the same standard to myself as a DM. If I forget to use a monster’s power or fail to apply a bonus to hit that would change a missed attack into a hit, too bad for me.
Combat is not calibrated. In other words, I don’t tailor each combat to match your specific character builds, powers, combos, etc. Certain combats will obviously be more difficult than others, obviously (a boss fight will likely drain all your resources; a random street ambush shouldn’t be that taxing unless the dice rolls don’t go your way), but I won’t go out of my way to balance things out, because I don’t have the math skillz, time, or inclination to crunch numbers. Ultimately, it’s more fun to me to let the chips fall where they may.
Non-Combat Encounters and Roleplaying
Skill checks don’t substitute for roleplaying. A skill check, in and of itself, will rarely grant you unconditional success, unless the situation is mundane enough that roleplaying it would be a tedious waste of time. In most cases, though, you’ll have to roleplay your way through meaningful social situations. For example, if you’re trying to convince the duke to grant you passage through his realm, just rolling a successful Diplomacy check won’t be enough. At most, the check gets you a “foot in the door,” i.e. gives you the opportunity to roleplay your encounter with him.
I like atmosphere, and I hope you do too. For me, memorable encounters and storylines depend on mood and atmosphere as much as they do on good roleplaying. So feel free to make your character act accordingly. Maybe your character is irritated from a long forced march across a stinking marsh and is thus not quite as ready to be diplomatic on her first night back in town.
Interpretation is more fun than exposition. In other words, if you are trying to unravel a mystery, I will usually present you with clues that are open to interpretation, rather than iron-clad certainties that only point you in one clear direction. For example, instead of finding a letter that clearly and explicitly incriminates the town mayor, you might find traces of a scent of perfume worn only by three different suspects in your investigation. Correspondingly, the Insight skill is not going to give you godlike powers of intuitive understanding. At most, you’ll know that something is “off” about what NPC X is telling you, or that he’s holding something back.