Sunday, February 1, 2009

DM Burnout

Just the suggestion that I might be burned out on running my D&D game was met with the affirmative from Michael this week. I've been running games for many years, and burnout creeps up on me slowly. There's this constant fear that I've outgrown the game, that adult responsibilities have finally caught up with me. Role-players in their forties (and older!) are trailblazers of sorts and we don't have many role models that have gone before. The RPG community is certainly aging, and sometimes we just need a sign that everything is alright.

Another one of my group members will be taking over my DM responsibilities for a while. That means I get to play again. I get to make a character! I get to finally play D&D 4, a game I've followed closely, ran a campaign up to 4th level, yet I've never been on the other side of the screen. I pulled out all my books and fired up the DDI character maker beta and started the research for a third level character.

The books suddenly had a new life to them. As a DM, most of the new books are not terribly interesting. It's like a catalog of what other people can do to you, rather than a toolbox or interesting reference. Boring! As a player, however, the various options were shiny and interesting, and I started making various combinations that I had set aside as a DM for later. Three characters emerged: A dragonborn warlord, halfling bard, and eladrin ranger with a blink dog animal companion (call the dog what you want, all "wolf" stats are the same).

Recovering from DM burnout, I wanted more of a supporting role. I wanted a character that could fill in the various holes that I saw in our group, that emerge every time. The ranger seemed the least interesting, his animal companion seemed kludgy and held back. It was as if the designers started from a position of the combination being overpowered and gradually pulled back until the animal companion was appropriately neutered. I saw it as interesting, but nothing special. The bard build suffered from limited information in DDI, since the PHB II hasn't been released yet. It was more of a preview class, and I deemed it not quite ready. The warlord, however, was just right.

I went with an inspiring warlord with the bravura presence from Martial Power. The concept was a feral dragonborn who rushed into combat with spectacular results, when he survived. The problem with the build is it requires high strength and charisma, meaning his dexterity and constitution are lacking. Those lacking qualities are what you need if you want to rush into combat, unfortunately. I gave him a Cloak of the Walking Wounded to help him cope with this. I really like the chess board feel of the warlord, the ability to push and pull others around and manipulate combat. Knowing how I operate, I'll probably change character concepts several more times before we begin play.


Megrash, level 3
Dragonborn, Warlord
Build: Inspiring Warlord
Commanding Presence: Bravura Presence

Str 20, Con 10, Dex 10, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 16.

AC: 19 Fort: 18 Reflex: 13 Will: 16
HP: 32 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 8

Diplomacy, History, Intimidate, Athletics.

1: Improved Bravura
2: Bravura Spirit

1, At-Will: Furious Smash
1, At-Will: Brash Assault
1, Encounter: Luring Focus
1, Daily: Fearless Rescue
2, Utility: Reckless Opportunity
3, Encounter: Flattening Charge

Light Shield, Adventurer's Kit, Acidic Khopesh +1, Horse, Warhorse, Crossbow, Crossbow Bolts (20), Cloak of the Walking Wounded +1, Magic Chainmail +1


  1. I have no idea what you're talking about with this "GM Burnout" thing... *looks over at the sadly neglected link to RPoL*

  2. Yeah, enthusiasm can be hard to maintain.

    BTW, I'm on to an Eladrin warlord with the Tactical build. He's a heavy spear wielding thinking warlord. His background is as a guard within a faerie court somewhere in the feywild.

    Kelderon, level 3
    Eladrin, Warlord
    Build: Tactical Warlord
    Commanding Presence: Tactical Presence

    Str 18, Con 10, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 11.

    AC: 18 Fort: 16 Reflex: 14 Will: 13
    HP: 32 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 8

    Arcana, Diplomacy, Endurance, History, Athletics.

    1: Eladrin Soldier
    2: Moon Elf Resilience

    1, At-Will: Opening Shove
    1, At-Will: Commander's Strike
    1, Encounter: Warlord's Favor
    1, Daily: Pin the Foe
    2, Utility: Repositioning Command
    3, Encounter: Follow Me In

    Greatspear of Myrdroon's Shard +1, Eladrin Chainmail +1, Feyleaf Sandals (heroic tier), Adventurer's Kit, Crossbow, Crossbow Bolts (20), Clearsense Powder (level 1), Clearwater Solution (heroic tier), Riding Horse, Cannith Goggles (heroic tier)

  3. I'm going to show my DHG here and say that that looks like nothing so much as the incomprehensible stuff my WoW-playing friends start spouting if provoked.

    On the other hand, I felt much the same about 3e character descriptions.