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Role Playing (Games)

Journal Short Circuit's Journal: Magic ants 3

So one of the PCs has the ability to detect magic at no expense. So
he tells me he's going to be continually casting detect magic.

Well, you know me, I don't plan details of my session far in advance.
So this poses a problem; It makes random generation of spoils after an
encounter impossible. And it raises questions of "well, he was in the
tavern with us, I should have detected it then" and other problems of
spontaneous backstory generation.

If he's going to poll continuously, I'll throw in some spam...

"Do I detect any magic?" "Yes."
"Where is it?" "On the ground below."
"What do I see there?" "A broken sword." (I think, "Hah! A useless
magic item. That's what you get.")
"Well, a sword loses its magic when broken, so it can't be the sword."
(Oh shit. Didn't know that. Ok...)

"I take the sword." "You find an anthill."
"Is the sword magic?" "No."
"Where do I detect magic?" "Where the sword was."
"The ants are magic?" "Yes."
"Cool! I bottle up some of the ants." "Alright..."

(Grr...I've greated something persistent. Maybe I can get him to drop it...)

Rest of the party continues on, starts leaving PC behind. PC leaves
to catch up. They take care of some business, get outside

The rest of the party members go on without them. PC fills his only
flask, and catches up with the other party members. Wizard fills a
flask, continues. Party beds down for the night, then they move on.
After a while, they come across the ant hole again.

PC starts collecting ants again. Wizard comes along, and asks what
he's doing. PC indicates that he found magic ants. Wizard goes,
"Cool!" and starts filling flasks with them.

PC fills his flask, moves on, and the ants start following him and the
wizard. PC catches up with the party, while the wizard obsesses with
filling all nine of his flasks, moving backwards ahead of the ants as
he does so.

Dusk falls, party beds down. Wizard fills all of his flasks, but
notices that the ants are moving toward him quicker, and, now that the
light has dimmed enough to see, are even glowing red. Wizard breaks
into a hustle in the direction the PCs went. PCs, in their last watch
for the night, see the approaching wizard and the red river catching
up to him (at almost ten feet per second...these ants get *fast* at

When they see the wizard, they bug out and cross a nearby river. The
ants pace them until dawn, when they slow down. Meanwhile, PC did a
couple tests and determined that it was the ant-filled flasks that
attracted the colony, not any of the PCs themselves.

Dawn breaks, the party reaches town, and the PC starts concocting a
plan where the town would become beset by raging magic fire ants that
only he knows how to remove. But first, he's going to check with the only magic user in town to see if he can use the lab to convert the ants into some sort of reagent....

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Magic ants

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  • But for a more normal gameplay, the better response would have been that he has to concentrate to detect magic. That means he's automatically surprised by anyone who attacks, and he has to move at no more than 10 ft per turn. Slowing himself that much means either he slows the party into boredom, or he does a lot of wandering around alone, getting surprised by random encounters.

  • I played in a game where one of the PCs had an amulet of detect golems. The DM's solution to the "always on" nature of the magical item was that the player always had to ask the DM if there was a golem in range. During most 6 hour games the player would only remember to ask about twice. So unless your player is extremely consistant (and annoying) about asking if anything magical is near, then make him ask each time if anything magical is in range.

    Most of the DMs I have played with also weren't afraid of

    • This particular player has broken the game a few times with a few different abilities with a few different characters. He seems to find most character concepts and abilities boring.

      Now that we're playing in a wilderness setting instead of an urban setting, I'm able to more easily throw things at them that challenge them.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.