I’m A Horrible DM Because I Do Things Like This

I like to give monsters potions, then have them drink the potions at the start of the encounter. The potions count as the encounter’s treasure.

Once, in a 3e combat encounter, I gave a ghost a special ring of regeneration that deals negative energy that heals undead. Essentially, it’s a ghost touch ring that hits the wearer with an inflict every round.

The encounter was very long and boring. The players didn’t know where it was getting so many hit points. They calculated that it had taken more damage than a CR-appropriate ghost could possibly have if its hit dice were maximized.

The ring was very expensive.

It counted as the encounter’s treasure.

Comments (6)

Trifith (December 24th, 2012)

So your monsters use their treasure to make them stronger in combat? And some of them have custom gear that makes them stronger in combat? Do your players use their treasure to make themselves stronger in combat? Do your players have custom gear that makes them stronger in combat?

Sounds fair to me. Especially when your monsters all have to share the same brain to figure out what makes them better, while each player gets their own.

justaguy (December 25th, 2012)

I dunno that I’d say horrible, but I’d probably be annoyed at you if you regularly not only made the creatures harder than their CR allotment but also didn’t even award the appropriate treasure for the original CR, much less the new one. The ghost thing in particular…

Now, yeah, it makes sense to a degree that if a treasure item is useable by a monster it might use it… I’ve done that. But I generally reward the players for their efforts. But I dunno your group, if they have fun in the end that’s what matters.

Philo Pharynx (December 26th, 2012)

You are right. You are a Horrible DM.

Letting monsters use the treasure is applicable. I remember way back in my red box days thinking it was odd that the Orc had a +1 sword hidden in it’s bedroll and was using a cheap stone axe.

With the potions, timing is everything. If they take the potions before the players have a chance to react, that’s utterly unfair to list them as treasure. Now if they pause to take potions after the battle is joined, then that’s fair to me. They players have a chance to deal with the monster in lots of ways and can see them draw the potion. Especially if the first enemy draws the potion one round and drinks the next. They players have to decide what to do about it. Do they risk destroying the potion in order to prevent the monster from getting the beenfit?

On the other hand, if the monsters are so willing to down potions at the first inkling of trouble, that says something. I would think that they’d have a lot of potions available. I have put the party against a group of kobolds where every kobold had several potions available and they all used them quickly. Eventually the party found a storehouse of potions where they got their treasure from the enhanced enouncters.

The ring is a different barrel of unfair. It’s an item that provides multiple benefits to undead, but is worthless to a living adventurer. Less than worthless, as it actively harms anybody who tries to use it.
Note: in a world where magic items can be broken down and the energy used to make other items, this might count for the value the players can use of it. Then it would be fair. Likewise if there’s an undead PC, or the PC’s are not opposed to undead and able to sell it. I’ve also seen worlds where good temples will pay people who bring them evil items for destruction or containment.

Squirrelmh (January 12th, 2013)

I agree, if the players have no chance to gain the treasure, it is unfair to call it the encounter’s treasure. That ring is just silly. It is a cheap way to add regeneration to a creature that really should never have it. Spectral undead are already overpowered and likely to drain inordinate amounts of the party resources.
Honestly, if the encounter was “long and boring”, you fail as a GM anyway…

Pax (January 14th, 2013)

Sorry my first blog, I’ve been a DM for 35 years yes i’M A OLD DOG, OK here it is!! I Give My player a 51% chance to live if they are smart the chanh goes up, stupid it goes down. played alot of games that way, have you played for 35 years??

Lukan, the Destroyer (February 7th, 2013)

Honestly, I wouldn’t allow a ghost bordering on the Ethereal Plane to wear an item of physical possesion. How are the players going to use this? Do the goblins really know what these potions do and would they trust that type of magic? Every DM should know that the real challenge to being a great DM is trying to keep the game “real.” So think real! What’s a ghost gonna do with a horde of treasure anyway? Is it there to protect it?
Also, as another bit of advice, don’t be afraid to let the players kick a little butt. A real player’s death should only come to them at the climax of the adventure. So don’t worry about challenging them until you are absolutely sure of what they are capable of doing. Then give them the 50/50 situation. And when it comes to the grand finale, make it 75! Keep em hooked!

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