Save on Miniatures by Purchasing from Other Games

The official Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons miniatures can be quite expensive, especially for the rarer models, but rarity isn’t the only thing that increases the price tag: demand does as well.  As previously mentioned I believe that purchasing individual models is more fiscally responsible since you will hopefully only purchase miniatures you will use.  You can also save significantly more if you purchase models from other miniature games.

World of Warcraft Miniatures

Storm RagerWoW miniatures are very good quality and come at great prices, but the size of the base of the miniature is around 50mm (2 inches) rather than the 1 inch of DnD miniatures.  This means that they can’t really be used for medium creatures but are perfectly sized to be large creatures.

A few notable warcraft miniatures are the elementals (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) and the Ironfur bear which works well as a general large-sized bear.  Warcraft does not have a large selection of miniatures, but I am a fan of the quality and especially the price.  The average warcraft mini is only 49 cents.

 

 

Mage Knight Miniatures

It's a Trap!Mage Knight has a rather large selection of miniatures for your perusal which can fill a variety of roles within your game.  There are a very fair number of  humanoids and other creatures that you can use, most costing around 49 cents each.  Solonavi makes an excellent lich and the Specter is excellent for a shadow creature as well.  Really there are hundreds of usable appropriate medium-sized miniatures available from the Mage Knight game, most of which will cost you less than a dollar.

There is one miniature in particular that I feel should be pointed out.  Now, the latest expansion of miniatures from Wizards of the Coast, the Lords of Madness expansion, is very high quality and comes with some very interesting miniatures.  One of my favorites is the Trapped Chest which is a $2.00.  Within the mage knight miniature set you can find over 50 different treasure chests with moving parts.  There is a nob on the lid and the base that changes the difficulty of opening the chest (using mage knight rules, but you can adapt these) as well as the contents of the chest.  Not only that, but the chest can be labelled as trapped internally as well.  Also, unlike the DnD miniature this one has a functional lid and actually opens.  Each one costs a mere 49 cents (if you buy a mage knight booster it automatically comes with one) and can serve for all of your treasurey needs.

Reaper Minatures

Reaper Miniatures are generally crafted out of pewter which means they are significantly heavier and significantly more expensive.  However, there is a set of prepainted plastic miniatures which can serve functionally well for dungeons and dragons.  There are many packs of three minis that work well for minions or other mass mobs, such as skeletal soldiers, skeletal archers, and orcs which can save you a bit in the long run if you are looking to create a small army.

Your own Miniatures

If you already have miniatures from some other game or system you can save a lot by just using what you already have.  When my group started playing we originally just used decorative counters colored with permanent marker to represent miniatures.  We upgraded later to using Lego Minifigs and then one of our player’s Warhammer 40k miniatures.  I decided I wanted actual miniatures for certain monsters and for bosses and from there I essentially got carried away, though I do proxy my monsters often still.  The best way to save money is to not spend it at all.

One Thing Not To Do

If you are trying to save money don’t think you’ll get lucky and get the monsters you need buying random booster packs.  You will end up getting random creatures that you’ll force yourself to squeeze into your game that are inappropriate.  Having a miniature makes you want to use it because if it isn’t used then it is just wasted money.

The Stages of Planning

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I’ll admit that I spend a decent percentage of my free time planning for my Friday night gaming sessions.  I’ve noticed over time that I go through a simple cycle for my planning throughout the week, each part focusing on a different aspect of the game.  The ultimate goal, of course, is to create an immersive enjoyable experience for both my players and myself.  Here are the phases I go through

Worldbuilding

The first thing I concern myself is with the world and story itself.  I look at my current Big Bad Evil Guy and try to figure out what he is doing and why he is doing it.  If I know my players are going to be going to a new town soon I figure out what is going on in the town, what motivation people have, and who the players will likely interact with.  From there I expand attempting to anticipate the moves of my players, the enemies, and their allies.  It is important to know how much information your players have and ensure that they know what they need to know.  I use to have problems with giving my players information during combat, but they are in a completely different mindset when in battle so it is important to allow them to gather this information outside of the initiative roll.  I try not to spoon-feed all of their information to them, though.  The story is more dramatic when they are able to figure things out themselves.

Want to surprise your players?  Do something expected.  Your players will be expecting betrayal or NPCs who act as allies to become enemies, especially if their goals aren’t directly clear.

Encounter Building

Once I know where the story is going I take the important bits and design encounters around them.  My group’s primary motivation is currently delving into the ancient history of the world.  I decided that their destination would involve going through a kobold warren and, just to make it interesting, I decided to use the dungeon out of the back of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.  This would be something familiar to them, but I wanted to twist it a bit.  They were significantly more powerful than any kobold they faced, even the lead wyrmpriest who was only a level 9 solo (against a group of six level 12 characters), but the kobolds had reoutfitted their warren with much improved security.  While the kobolds themselves proved not to be a threat, the traps and ambushes they had set up proved to be nearly exhausting for the party.  The traps for each encounter made up at least half of the experience for each encounter.

I always want to add something unique to important encounters.  Combat should feel different at least every few battles and the players should have to reevaluate their tactics in certain situations.

Creature Building

A major way I try to make the world my own is by designing my own monsters.  Usually I’ll take a base monster and modify it to fit the theme, or I’ll take several monsters and Frankenstein them, taking pieces and aspects of each and combining them into a new monster.  The theme for the kobold dungeon was traps, traps, traps.  Now, I don’t like the idea of a party moving at a crawl because they feel they need to stick that 10-foot pole on every floor tile.  To culminate the kobold encounters I had the little bastards bring out a War Machine they had spent years building.  Essentially koboltron, the war machine consisted of 5 separate parts.  Each part had no actions of its own but the kobold pilot could spend its action to give a particular part of the machine actions.  There was a slashing blade (skirmisher), pincer claw (controller), artillery head (artillery), defensive bulwark (soldier), and ambulatory unit (brute).  Instead of the monster being one big standard-move-minor solo monster with a couple extra actions it was 5 standard mobs that essentially occupied the same Huge space but only had a standard action each.

Creature…. building

I try to make my world as immersive as possible, but I unfortunately can’t afford dwarvenforge products.  I do like to purchase miniatures, but when you have a giant mechanical kobold golem miniatures usually just don’t cut it.  In this situation I ended up dragging out my box of Legos from 20 years ago and building a miniature that fit the koboltron.  The reactions of my players when I placed it on the game mat was amazing.  “You’ve got to be kidding?” “Is that really what we see?”  “I don’t know about you guys, but I think I’ll be heading out of the dungeon now.”

Of course, I don’t use Legos often, but I do go through a phase every week where I want to make sure my ideas have a good physical representation.  This is usually done by making sure I have the proper miniatures or miniature equivalents (a penny, a paperclip, a piece of cardboard and a printed image can go far) or map drawing.  I find that preparing and drawing maps ahead of time can go a long way for making combat or noncombat encounters more fun and detailed.

While we’re on the subject, I highly recommend Gaming Paper for repeatably usable maps and Game mastery flipmats for single shot or quick maps.

Mechanics

With new creatures and unique encounters come unique mechanics.  I try to toss things up a bit by adding unique mechanics to the game, but they can’t be too complicated that the players can’t figure it out or It is too difficult to explain it to them.  For example, in one chase scene where my players were fleeing on horseback from an army of kobolds I had modified the mounted kobold rules to make them fit better.  I added the vehicle steering rules to horses and changed a few attacks to allow the kobolds to dismount the players.  My group got the idea that the kobolds were trying to slow them down while a pair of drakes attempted to catch up and did an excellent job of slowing their attackers down enough to get away: The exact goal I was hoping they’d go for.

Smoothing Gameplay

I always want to try to make my characters more comfortable when they play and this means figuring out ways to ensure that as much information is available any time.  I’ve made initiative card hangs, purchased status effect flags, use status effect chips, Quick reference cards, Masterplan, and a lot of other things to try to help speed up combat.  I enjoy designing the game environment as much as I enjoy designing the game world

Play!

And of course there is actual playtime.  The culmination of the events.  The story being told, live, in action, getting to see all my work come together.  While we play I try to take notes about what I like and what I don’t like in the world.  I try to understand what my players know and what I want them to know.  I adjust the world on the fly as well as the encounters, monsters, and everything that I’ve done all week.  It is necessary to be as flexible as possible with every aspect because things don’t always work out the way you want.  Improv is one of the most important skills you can have as a DM

Recovery

Oddly, every Saturday I am very eager to continue working on the story.  While everything is fresh in my mind I want to continue forward at full steam and begin preparations for the next session, but as much as I try I cannot.  I usually spend my Saturday doing other things, but I keep a notebook with me to write down ideas I have as they come.  For over the next week I have a lot of new things to plan and prepare.

Megaman Style Loot Distribution

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Three blades for the price of one!

Personally, I’ve never enjoyed paging through the thousands of items available to players in order to try to pick an item out that they’d like go reward them with.  I also hate the concept of wish lists, where the players tell you exactly what they want and the quests just happen to reward it or the monsters just happen to be carrying it.  I’ve discussed some alternatives before as well as  custom items , but now I want to talk about the Megaman style loot system for creating custom items.

I spend about 30% of my preparation time trying to come up with unique  encounters and creatures.  It is more important to me than any items, of course, because the design and encounters are how I play the game.  I want them to be memorable and when a player takes something away from a story that they can bring up later for a laugh or a smile, it makes me happy.  So, I’ve decided to start letting the characters take something away from specialized encounters as well.

When my players face a particularly tough boss, they usually have some sort of theme attached to their threat.  A shadow dragon uses orbs of darkness to move around combat more freely.  A hobgoblin might have the eye of a beholder it uses to cast random energy rays.  A kobold master might be much more shifty than a regular kobold.  When these creatures are defeated, I have the drop something that embodies their own power, though not to the full effect.

For example, my shadow dragon dropped some gloves that as an encounter power allowed the user to create an area burst 1 within 10 cloud of darkness, much like the Drow racial.  As a daily power they could move from any square of total concealment to another square of total concealment.  The encounter power was useful on its own, but the daily power gave them mobility that was difficult to match.

Recently my players fought an optimized version of Thar.  Even without any modifications you’ll notice that Thar deals extra maximized weapon damage on a critical hit.  I took this fact and applied it to the axe he was wielding to create the Sundering Executioner:

Sundering Executioner
Level: 13
Item: Executioner’s Axe
Enhancement: +3
Critical Hit: +3d6 damage
 

Property: The high crit damage on this weapon is maximized.

I usually only do this on particularly nasty or memorable fights when the enemy in question has an obvious power that might be useful and usually only on Solos and Elites.  When giving out regular loot, especially lower level loot, I tend to find something reasonable from the known list and give them a token that allows them to enchant their own item.

Use a Dice Box to Roll Dice

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If you’re tired of dropping your dice on the floor resulting in a Natural 1, if you don’t like your flying across dice getting mixed up with others, or maybe you just want a flashy way to roll your dice then you should consider using a dice box for rolling.

My Dice box.

Since I started DMing I mostly use [[l:http://www.habitualindolence.net/masterplan|masterplan]] for my dice rolls, but occasionally there is something it won’t roll due to the power’s formatting, extra damage, or recharge powers.  This is when I’d pull out my “box of death” and roll by shaking it then revealing the numbers to myself.  Since i started playing rogue I’ve continued to use the box for all of my attack rolls as they generally use the same dice.  I recommend dice box to both players and DMs alike.

Nice and neatThe idea is elegant in its simplicity.  Simply get a small box, in this case the box was originally for a pocket knife.  Place the dice you need inside and shake.  Open the box to reveal your rolls.  This goes well with my ways to speed up combat as you roll the attack and damage at the same time.  In the picture above you can see my rogue’s dice:  d20 for the attack, d4 for weapon damage, and 2d8 for sneak attack with the Backstabber feat.  The extra d6 is my critical die and is disregarded unless I crit.  If I cannot deal sneak attack the d8s are disregarded as well.  When I roll I always open the box completely to allow the other players to see my roll and I can easily slide it across the table to let someone else see it.

You’ll also notice an extra d20 off to the side as well as a d4.  The d4 joins the box when I use a 2[W] attack and the d20 is for non-attack rolls such as skill checks and initiative.  In the box I also have a small chart I use to figure out my attack bonus and damage bonus easily since they are different depending on the situation.

As a DM, I load the box slightly differently.  My “box of death” usually contains 1d20, 2d10, 2d8, and 3d6.  It can be a bit crowded, so if necessary I remove dice that I am not using.  the 3d6 are usually for recharge powers and I always rule that I read left to right, top to bottom.  This means that if I am rolling just one recharge I still roll all three dice, but only use the upper-left most d6 for the recharge, even if the other two would recharge the power.

You can use pretty much anything for your box.  Make sure it has enough space to allow multiple dice to shuffle around and I recommend a hinged lid for easy opening/closing.  My dice live in this box between sessions as well as my power cards.  Sadly this one is too small to keep a pencil as well, though I’d keep that in there as well if I could.

My max damage on a 1[W] crit at level 4 is 30.

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/feat.aspx?id=185

Make Shopping More Involved

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Not going to get much for 13 copper.
Shopping in 4e is boring.  Very boring.  From what I understand of Lost Forgotten Realms shopping is essentially “Can you afford it?  You have it.”  I like to try to spice things up a bit with my shopping system.  Over on the What’s A DM To Do? forum user Glabados and I began discussing [[l:community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/25172597/Treasure_Parcel_Alternative:_Shopping__Cursed_Items?pg=1|possible alternatives to the parcel system]].  I took his idea and ran with it, adding it to ideas I’ve already used.

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Running Proper Skill Challenges

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Skill challenges are one of the strangest types of encounters in 4e and I do not think I have found a way to run them often that makes me happy.  Over the levels we have played I have vastly improved them from their base theme to something much more useful.

Increase the difficulty
Add 5 to all difficulties for skill checks.

In a recent D&D article the developers admitted that the DCs for skill checks where just way too low.  For example according to the July Update a level 8 moderate skill check should be about DC 14.  Let’s do some math to see just how hard that is.

Given: Moderate History Check is DC 14
Given: Character is level 8 and therefore gains a +4 bonus to the check (half level)
Assume: Character is not using intellect as a dump stat.  At level 8, a character can be expect to have an intellect of 2-5, averaging +3.
Assume: Character is trained in history.  Otherwise in a skill challenge they are not likely to try to use it.  +5
In order to meet or beat DC 14 the character rolls d20+4+3+5 or d20+12. The character needs only roll a 2 to succeed and therefore has a 95% chance of success.

That’s moderate? Sure, if they don’t have history trained their success drops to 70% but that is still most of the time. To put these DCs in line with what they should be we can simply add 5 to the DC. a 70% average success rate in a trained skill makes sense. It is up to 85% if it is happens to be your primary stat too. If you aren’t trained and it is a secondary stat (+2 we’ll say) your success rate is still around 40%. With +5 the difficulties come out right where they should be.

Avoid Telling them they are in a Skill Challenge

Limit Repetitive Checks
The shortest path between two points is the beaten road. When a player realizes they are in a skill challenge they will try to find the easiest path to defeat it. Attempting to track down kidnappers in the forest? Nature checks! Trying to cure poison? Nature check! Identifying a magical staff? Nature check! If you are running a skill challenge limit the number of success a player can get by saying “I want to do _____ again.” If you don’t then it isn’t a challenge.

Don’t Define the Skills
You can’t limit the abilities that the players can use. If you force them to only use bluff, diplomacy, and streetwise in the challenge and none of them are charisma based then they are doomed to failure. Don’t even bother defining what skills the players can use and instead let them define how to do it. This works especially well when you limit repetitive usage as they need to find unique ways to solve the problem. Allow them to propose how they would use the skill. For example when attempting to track where the goblins had taken their prisoners one of my players said “I want to use my endurance skill in an attempt to figure out which path would be the easiest for marching or how far they could have traveled given the condition of the slaves.” Brilliant! Endurance would definitely not have been a normal skill to use for a tracking skill challenge.

Keep It Short
Skill challenges don’t get the adrenaline pumping or require much actual thinking.  Long skill challenges tend to drag on as the players exhaust the abilities that they can use.  Try to keep them short and you should probably never go over complexity 3 (8 successes). If you’re going to run a longer skill challenge you’ll have to mix things up.

Mix It Up
One of my favorite ways to run skill challenges is to mix non-skill challenges in them. I’ll toss my players a physical or mental puzzle to solve which can earn them a success. I’ll throw a combat encounter which they must finish quickly or take a failure. The idea is to break the skill challenge into smaller more digestible bits.

Add Complications
While the goal needs to be clear, the path should not be straightforward. If you’re in an a diplomatic encounter perhaps those whom you are talking with are lying or if you’re trying to track down the bandits the players can be forced to make a choice. A time limit is very useful, such as a locking mechanism that gets more complicated the longer it is open. Any sort of complication can make your skill challenge more interesting.

Shadow Dragon Optimization

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Dragon’s are very weak.  I’m sorry if I am offending one but 4e dragons are one of the weakest boss-type mobs that I have ever run.  Besides their breath weapon and perhaps one extra ability a dragon is easy to lock down and eliminate and yet still I use them and I’ve been using them reasonably often.  Today I am going to take an ordinary level 8 young shadow dragon and turn it into a real threat. 


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Superior Implement Training

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I hate superior implements.  Not so much the concept behind them, but how they work.  First you have to take a feat to get training in superior implements and then you have to go out and find that specifically flavored superior implement.  You want the sprinkles and hot fudge of having it be a magic item?  Better hope that happens to drop as well!

Essentially there are three parts that much match for a superior implement to work:  Training in a specific superior implement, the implement item has that specific type of superiority, and the implement has an enchantment on it that pleases you.  What makes it worse is that if you are already using an implement when you take the feat you need to go out and find a new one before the feat does anything.  The fix is a very small rewrite of the feat.

Superior Implement Training
Heroic Tier
Benefit: Choose a superior implement type for an implement you can use.  When you use an implement of that type it gains the benefits associated with the superior implement.
Special: You can take this feat more than once. Each time you take this feat, choose a different superior implement.  The effects cannot be applied to the same implement.  During an extended rest you may change which superior training affects each implement.

My rewrite basically changes the feat from “training of a superior implement” to “superior training of an implement.”  The idea is to remove the requirement for the player and DM to have to specify that the implement is superior, much like how armor is expected to be masterwork in paragon tier.

Unique Kobold-Crafted Rewards

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Recently my groups have been traveling incognito deep within a kobold warren in search of The Staff of Eyes, an ancient relic of untold power.  They’ve been disguised as kobolds and interacting with their society or mostly trying to avoid interacting since they could potentially be detected and have to fight thousands of kobolds.  During their stay they talked with a kobold craftsman who said he could craft some of the best equipment in the world.  They shrugged him off at first, but gave his wares a lookover and was quite amazed at the quality of work.  Every piece he had for sale was unique in some way offering properties that they had not seen in stores.  To no surprise they pulled out their purse and requested to purchase items only to be told that the craftsman was not at all interest in gold.  He wanted something rarer and more harder to get.  Something much more valuable and delicate.  He would sell his wares in exchange for Sibiki mushrooms.

Sibiki mushrooms rare mushrooms that grow in areas rich with natural minerals, specifically [[w:vanadium]].  They absorb the minerals as they grow and are very valuable among both kobolds and goblins not only as a currency, but as a delicacy.  That’s right, Sibiki mushrooms are usually eaten.  The group’s focus essentially became gathering enough sibiki mushrooms as they could to buy everything they wanted.  I had planned that they could get about 100 mushrooms total, but they managed to exceed that amount through some cleverness.

All in all, the mushroom side quests turned out to be a great success.  Not only did it have them explore and learn about the kobolds, which was my primary goal for them in the warren, they also enjoyed trying to find mushrooms and figuring out the best ways to get them.  They were willing to take many risks for a chance to get more including running The Gauntlet.

Each item was specially crafted for that player’s specific needs or wants.  They would all be +3 items as the players are on the verge of hitting paragon level and +3 items should be showing up just about now.  Here are the four items they managed to procure through mushrooms.

Juggernaut Armor
Level: 12
Price: 30 [[Sibiki Mushrooms]]
Item: Wyvernscale Armor
Enhancement: +3
.
Property: When you are stunned you can still take a single action on your turn, but you can only use at-will powers or basic actions.
Property: When you are immobilized you can move up to 2 squares on your turn, but no more than 2 squares and you cannot shift.
Power (Daily) : No Action. Trigger: You spend a healing surge. Effect: You make a saving throw against all effects on you that a save could end with a power bonus equal to the number of enemies adjacent to you.

Our warrior is rather effective at keeping things near him, but occasionally he can be locked down himself.  I decided to give him a way to circumvent this to a degree.  My original idea for the daily power was a property that allowed him to make a saving throw whenever he spent a healing surge, but I thought that was too powerful.  The current power was born eventually since his job is to have as many enemies as possible adjacent to him.

Symbol of the Sacred Flame
Level: 12
Price: 30 [[Sibiki Mushrooms]]
Item: Neck
Enhancement: +3 Fortitude, Reflex, Will
Critical: +3d6 damage.  If the power triggering this effect was Sacred flame, each ally within 5 squares of you can make a saving throw or gain temporary hit points equal to your charisma modifier + one-half your level, or make a saving throw..Cr

Property: You can use this item as a holy symbol for cleric powers.
Property: Your sacred flame power gains a long range equal to twice its normal range.

Power (Daily) : No Action.  Trigger: You use your Sacred Flame power.  Effect:  Until the end of your next turn your sacred flame gains the following line: “Effect: One ally within 5 squares that you can see regains hit points equal to your charisma modifier + one-half your level or to make a saving throw with a power bonus equal to your charisma modifier.

Our warpriest’s biggest issue is ranged attacks.  There just isn’t much he can do if he can’t get right up next to the enemy to hit it with his mordenkrag.  I decided to increase the range on his sacred flame while still encouraging him to move closer to the action.  He expressed interest in increasing his healing and support ability so I added that in as well.

Shortspear of Ghostly Steps
Level: 12
Price: 25 [[Sibiki Mushrooms]]
Item: Spear
Enhancement: +3
Critical Hit: +3d8 damage
.
Property: When you use a power that allows you to shift you can move through enemy spaces, but you must end your movement in an unoccupied space.
Power (Daily) : No Action. Trigger: You use a daily power that allows you to shift. Effect: You gain phasing and insubstantial until the end of your turn.

Our monk is already pretty happy with his abilities.  He was playing the role of tank until we got our warrior and has since been attempting to lower his defenses to increase his damage.  He said he was happy with his damage and I know one of the things he enjoys most about monk is mobility.  So much so that he usually spends several minutes during his turn contemplating the best path to take to damage the most enemies.  To help with that I decided to increase his mobility with this item.  This should have the indirect effect of speeding up his turns as well as increasing his damage since he will be able to get closer to more mobs with more ease.

Primal Claws
Level: 12
Price: 35 [[Sibiki Mushrooms]]
Item: Totemic Staff*
Enhancement: +3
Critical Hit: +3d6 damage, or +3d10 damage if you are in beast form

Property: Gain a claw attack while wielding this weapon: a two-handed military light blade melee weapon with +3 proficiency bonus to attack rolls and deals 1d8 damage. The wearer gains proficiency with this weapon. This attack counts as a melee basic attack.  While wielding this weapon are are considered to be holding a weapon in each hand.
Property: You can use at-will powers with the beast form keyword even if you are not in beast form

Power (Daily) : You make a melee basic attack against each enemy adjacent to you.

This was the first item that I actually showed the players and they were able to use it as the base for the items they requested.  Our druid, Ravonna, has been switching over from predatory beastform druid to castery pack leader summoner druid.  He wanted to be able to be effective in both melee and range and I noticed he preferred staying in caster form.  I decided to give him a method of easily handling enemies that decided to approach him as well as having a fun way to just charge into combat, claws bared.

Property: If you are a dwarf, this hammer functions as a warlock implement for you (but do not apply the weapon’s proficiency bonus to attack rolls for warlock powers).

Benefits to Sleeping Indoors

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If you have players like mine you know the trouble that can be had when there isn’t a clear benefit, but a potential detriment to performing an action.  Invited to dinner with the queen?  It’s a trap!  Celebration in your honor?  It’s a trap!  Sleeping in an established safe location?  It’s a trap!

Even still, I do somewhat agree with them.  There should be a palpable reason to sleep in the inn that costs 100g a night rather than the one that costs 5 silver a night.  Hell, why bother even paying that 5 silver a night when you could just sleep in the street, on the ground, or in the woods?  Worse case scenario you end up with more experience points.

Deterrent

The first solution is probably the most obvious and likely one you are already use.  If your party decides to forgo the comforts of modern life and sleep in the wild make sure they understand what that means.  Wild animals may be attracted to their smell or the smell of their food.  Animals don’t always attack humanoids, but that doesn’t keep them from trying to steal a yummy treat if it seems worth their while.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that a big animal or a pack of animals won’t attack the unguarded party if they think they can handle them.  As Hobbes once said, “Most people don’t sleep well next to a hungry tiger.”

Of course if your party is way out in the wilderness you may be a bit more lenient.  It only grows frustrating when they refuse to be civilized in civilized areas.  Sleeping on the street is something they may consider but it is usually against the law and can earn you a stint in the local jail and have to stand trial for it.  The court might let the player off if they’re well known but it will tarnish their reputation.

Sleeping outside the city limits has its problems as well.  Being alone outside the protection of society means you are vulnerable.  Bandits might attack them or gnomes might steal their magic potions and meat.  Perhaps it might rain and some of their scrolls or books would be ruined.   There are numerous reasons to stay indoors

Regardless, the most effective deterrent is actual gameplay debilitation.  Explaining that their sleep was restless and they do not recover a daily power or an encounter power, or that their healing surge value is reduced or they don’t recover all of their healing surges would get the point across

Incentive

Deterrents are a good start, but if you want to train your players in this behavior.  Simply put, just give them some benefit to paying that extra bit gold for the fancy inn.  Here are a list of ideas you can mix and match based on the price range of the inn in question.

  • +2 Healing surge value
  • +1/2 con healing surge value
  • Whenever you spend a healing surge you gain additional temporary hit points equal to your constitution modifier.
  • +1 healing surges
  • +1 to attack rolls
  • +1 to damage rolls per tier
  • +2 to knowledge skill checks (Dungeoneering, History, Nature, Religion, Streetwise)
  • +2 to physical skill checks (Athletics, Acrobatics, Endurance, Stealth)
  • +2 to awareness skill checks (Perception, Insight)
  • Once during each encounter, when you miss with an encounter power, you may chose to retain the use of that encounter power.

The list could go on, but make sure it is something that fits the cost.  You can apply this benefits to meals as well since I’m sure no person, adventurer or not, would really want to survive on trail rations for their entire life but my players would rather eat shards of iron than have to worry about eating or drinking.