DMRT: The Geek Ken Opinion

The folks over at 4 Geeks 4E have a pretty fun podcast covering different topics on D&D. One part of the Dungeon Master’s Round Table show is taking twitter questions from listeners. As a semi-regular series of posts I’m throwing in my 2 cents and cherry picking a few tweets to address:

@Hzurr: Setting tailored PC themes in neverwinter; do we want these for all settings, or was it a nice one time thing?

I think this is definitely something to explore for all settings. One of the great features of the Dark Sun campaign book was the introduction of themes. I really feel that this is a great option for characters and allows them to tailor their character a bit more.

Additionally, this allows the player to have some stronger ties to the game world. Not everyone may run a campaign setting with the players input in its creation. Also if running a published setting, players may feel they are a little ‘outside’ the campaign world. Using themes makes it easier to cement that character into the world setting.

Another positive point is that themes give a DM tools to incorporate the character into the storyline, and at the very least give them seeds for potential adventures. Right at the first sitting, the PCs have a network of contacts, enemies, and allies from their past. As a DM, you have plenty of ways to hook players into the story, or have a laundry list of potential story arcs to explore.

@Darkpatu: What are your thoughts on buying and training feats and skills outside of level, both in story and role-playing.

Mechanically, I’m a bit wary of players picking up feats. Most feats incur some bonuses or abilities that add to the power of players and can impact combat. While most bonuses are minor, it can allow for a slow power creep into the game.

For skill training I’m much more lenient. In fact, I’d be willing to easily accept 1-2 skills having a +2 bonus due to some kind of training or experience. I think this is a great way to incorporate story events into improving the PCs abilities.

The key point for any of these additional feats and skills is to allow this for all players. A DM really needs to strive and keep it an even playing field among the PCs. A small (+2) skill bonus is not a big deal, but if one player is singled out to get a bonus feat this can stir up some negative feelings in the group. Make sure that all your PCs get a chance to pick up neat abilities.

As for story, I think additional feats might be an interesting reward for certain long quests, with small skill bonuses are particularly great. If the group returns some religious relic to a local temple, the clerics might open up their holdings of arcane texts, or provide instruction from their weapons trainer.

In turn characters might learn more from the temple library holdings about the local region (+2 history), medicinal herbs (+2 heal), or wildlife in the area (+2 nature). Likewise, the martial trainer might put characters through a regimen of heavy training (+2 endurance), or possibly emphasise more finesse and being light on their feet (+2 acrobatics). So as rewards, I think there is definitely some room to allow players to expand on their abilities and make it related to the story or consequences of their actions.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.


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About Geek Ken

Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.

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