Can mages change group composition during Ceremonial Casting without interrupting the spell?

When casting a spell, a mage has to constantly concentrate on it for a specific time period (taking Concentrate maneuveres each turn). Their energy reserves are limited by whatever FP they have at the moment plus an optional Powerstone. In other words, barring additional rulings, if the spell costs 16 energy points and the mage only has 14 FP of his own, they cannot cast it at all without a sufficiently large powerstone – they can’t stop in a middle of the casting, rest to recover the spent energy, and then continue.

However, things are slightly more complicated with Ceremonial magic (M12, B238), when the mage can get one or several assistants for contributing more energy to the casting, at the cost of tenfold increased casting time and several other penalties. There is one particular note that grabbed my attention:

  • Once the spell is cast, the participants can continue to provide energy to maintain the spell. The composition of the group may change, as long as the ritual continues uninterrupted. Thus, ceremonial magic lets you maintain a spell indefinitely.

It’s not clear at all whether the composition of the group can change during the casting, though. It would make sense that it can – after all, the ritual continues uninterrupted and the “caster” – group as a whole – keeps constantly concentrating on it. Surely, some of the participants should be able to leave for a while – possibly getting replaced – rest and return, if the ritual is designed so that such leaves are agreed upon in advance and are not a result of any accidents or interruptions?

The rulings on Enchantment (“Slow and Sure Enchantment” – M18, B481) state that, at least with this specific form of ceremonial magic, the participants can regularly interrupt the casting to rest in between. This could have been implying that interruptuble casting has a heavy price of extended time and resources required – as the other form of enchantment (“Quick and Dirty”) is much cheaper, but has no rulings on interruptions – however in this case, the group does not maintain constant concentration, the consequences for possible interruptions do not ruin the whole spell (only a day’s work), there are other benefits over QoD enchanting (no skill penalty for the number of participants), as well as suggestions for GMs who wish to further restrict QoD enchantments. In other words, this is not a definitive indicator.

In addition to that, there’s a Cone of Power spell described in Thaumatology (page 52) which allows to do things very similar to an interruptible casting, but still has many significant differences.

On the other hand, an interruptible ceremonial casting could have quite a few balance issues. For instance, a distant cult in some forgotten temple in a backwater of the world could be casting a Rain of Fire spell over the entire world over the course of several years without anyone noticing… and then unleash it all at once! Then again:

  • It takes just one random raid (or a falling rockâ„¢ plus a failed Wil roll) to ruin years of preparation – and so it clearly cannot be done without a GM’s permission, implicit or explicit;
  • “Cone of Power” allows to do that, too, and is way more dangerous – after all, the collected energy can be used prematurely to repel any potential attackers – yet this spell is in an official guidebook;
  • It’s actually quite a hook for an adventure!

    The Cult of Doom has been preparing a terrifying, humongous spell to unleash upon the world, of which our diviners have learnt just now, and now someone must sneak into their highly protected lair to interrupt the casters! Bonus points for cinematic arrival just in the nick of time to interrupt the cult just as they are about to finish the casting.

So…

Is there an official, documented ruling on whether the mages can change group composition during Ceremonial Casting without interrupting the spell? And if not, what balancing considerations the GM should keep in mind when making his own ruling?

Improve MySQL query efficiency for first row in a group

I’ve written the query below in MySQL to get the top 10 top landing pages across all browser sessions.

Reading other similar posts about how to access the first row in a group, it seemed like the solution was the following:

SELECT MIN(`created_at`) AS `created_at`, `session_token`, `url` FROM `session` GROUP BY `session_token`; 

This produced incorrect results and I found that while using MIN() to get the first record in a group, it only applied to the specified column and that other columns could be picked from other rows within the group.

I amended the query to the one below which produces the correct result:

SELECT `b`.`created_at`, `b`.`session_token`, `b`.`url`  FROM (     SELECT MIN(`created_at`) AS `created_at`, `session_token`, `url`      FROM `session`      GROUP BY `session_token` ) a INNER JOIN `session` b USING (`session_token`, `created_at`); 

I’ve created the solution below that produces the correct results, however it is now using two subqueries.

SELECT `c`.`url`, COUNT(*) AS `hits`  FROM (     SELECT `b`.`created_at`, `b`.`session_token`, `b`.`url`      FROM (         SELECT MIN(`created_at`) AS `created_at`, `session_token`, `url`          FROM `session`          GROUP BY `session_token`     ) `a`     INNER JOIN `session` `b` USING (`session_token`, `created_at`) ) AS `c` GROUP BY `c`.`url` ORDER BY `hits` DESC LIMIT 10; 

I’ve only tested it on a small dataset and it doesn’t seem particularly fast. Could it be improved to increase efficiency?

How to deal with different levels of initiative and propensity to overtalk in a large group?

I recently started playing with a large group of about 7-8 people. I noticed that, in our group, a couple of the people are very active: whenever there is a chance for the group to do things, it only takes them a second or two to come up with an action for their character and narrate it. On top of that, they are comfortable verbally jostling, interrupting, jumping in just after someone else is finished, and participating in overtalk, in order to take space for themselves in the conversation.

This would be fine with me–I can fight for conversational space just fine, and don’t mind so much when people do it to me–but a couple of the other players in the group don’t seem as willing to talk over people or to jump in with something as soon as the last person is done talking, and when they do talk it is at a much lower volume. For all I know they have as many great ideas bubbling around in their heads as the loud players, and are just waiting for their turn, but since they don’t loudly wade into the verbal fray, they don’t get to do anything.

In combat, there’s the initiative/turn-taking system that can solve this problem to some extent: even the quietest player at the table is guaranteed a turn and the DM’s attention. But out of combat, a couple of players who are always the first to speak up can go through several whole scenes without the quieter players’ characters doing anything.

I’m not sure if it has gotten to the point where any of the quieter players are bothered about it to the point where they are willing to speak up about it, but I’d like to prevent that from happening, or at the very least avoid being part of the problem.

As a player, how do I balance my desire to speak with the needs of our group’s quieter players to have room for them in the conversation? If I speak up I’m not giving the quieter players a chance to speak, but if I stay quiet, the other loud players will talk. As not one of the players who is getting talked over, is it my place to broach this with the DM? Or should I talk to the players I see as having the problem first? Or to the other louder players?

As a group, what methods can we use ensure that even our shyer/quieter/more reserved players have space to play, outside of combat?

IC conflicts, OC hurt feelings, how did you overcome group conflicts as a player?

I’ll try to not go too deep into detail and this might turn into a small rant, so sorry in advance. For easier reading I added some subtitles. 😉

Here is some context:

My group and I (4 players, amazing DM) play for almost 2 years now and it is the first rpg group for all of us. It was very clear early on, that we have different playstyles (mainly me), which is mostly fine. While the others are more focussed on combat and doing their own thing in character, I’m more of a role-/teamplayer. While I also like some good old chop chop action, I love playercharacter and NPC interactions just as much. Now we do have one main plot hook, that keeps the characters together and until a few months ago this was enough to keep the group in a relatively good state. My character seems to be the only one with enough social capabilities to be able to get some higher standing NPC contacts and drive the group into a direction where we can actually rally some folk and do “big stuff” (meaning: fight devils – level).

The problem:

Now the other PC’S did some things, that don’t sit right with my character and actually threaten my PC’s life. So I tried resolving the problem by talking with the group in game (my PC mentioned his concerns two times before) where I was met with no understanding and my concerns were quickly dismissed and even made fun of. This really bothered me out of game, so I talked to the players and asked them to be a bit more forthcoming in order to make it easier for me to justify that my character stays in the group despite those differences. This was met with some ambivalence and I don’t feel like they really cared – it felt kinda like they were saying “Well it’s your problem, not ours.”. Now I admit at that point (our latest session) I took their ignorance personal and their reaction (or lack there of) hurt me. From my point of view I had done so much for the group in and out of game and now they are not willing to have one (in my eyes) small nice moment of appreciation with my PC, which also doesn’t cost them a thing, to make me happy? It also bothers me that somehow the other characters are way more friendly towards some random NPC than they are towards my character who has gone out of his way to help them or do them some small favors (which they have never done for my PC so far).

My role in the group:

As I mentioned before, we have very different playstyles and I don’t mind accomodating to them so they can have their fun moments. This situation though has bothered me for a while now and I find myself enjoying the game less, cause I seem to ALWAYS be the voice of reason in the group (e.g. making them take prisoners instead of butchering everyone, not stealing from the king etc.) without anyone actually listening or appreciating those efforts. Being the reasonable one was the job I was aiming for by creating this character, but they make my job so much harder than it needs to be and take the fun for me out of it… We all want to play this amazing story our DM has created for our PC’S specifically and are invested, but my fellow players are not at all invested in any other PC’S than their own. Which is fine I guess, but I feel like my wishes for more in game teambuilding (or at the very least not giving reasons to leave the group) are not being heard.

Talking to the DM:

I talked to the DM about this (maybe I am the problem?) and he understands my side and sees the problem, but doesn’t know how he can help. He also mentioned that if my character were to leave the group, the other PC’s would have a hard time driving the plot forward cause, as I said, my character is (I guess thanks to my roleplaying-affinity and the DM rewarding that) the only one with considerable ties to important NPC’s.

Also:

I’m all for doing silly stuff and we have a lot of fun memories, but because of plot, we now have to act and think bigger than “tavern shenanigans” and becoming small “village heroes”. Killing some monsters in the woods for some gold doesn’t cut it anymore. I really love the story and want to see where it takes us and how we can shape the world. And despite my rant, I like the other characters as well. I think my group has tremendous potential, but if they continue to refuse to acknowledge the obvious in game problems I don’t see how this group can work for me anymore. It’s a game after all and is’nt it the responsibility of all players (and DM’s) to make sure that everyone has fun?

Some advice please:

Have you been in a situation like this? What did you do? Should I just drop the in-group issues? Should I move on and focus just on my fun and my characters journey and “ignore” the actions of the other PC’s?

RPG format for one-shot large group campaign [closed]

Can anyone recomend an RPG format that would allow me to run:

  • a one-shot (~6h) campaign
  • with about 15 inexperienced players
  • that would allow me to add some “morality” to the journey

They’d only be playing this one time, so I’m trying to find something that requires little to no character building, so we can straight up play, and where the characters have few rules and actions, so they don’t get as lost and it’s easy to understand.

I thought about running a murder-mystery campaign (and just give them some sort of powers/actions to solve through the mystery) but the only RPG I’ve experimented with is D&D, and it’s a bit hard to skim throuhgh all the different formats and trying to understand what would work.

Does a single PC who is stealthy get to surprise monsters when the rest of the group is not?

The rules for a surprise round, seem to be focused on the people being surprised. (They lose a turn) rather than being focused on the people doing the surprising (They get an extra turn)

The rules are clear, that each person in a group can be surprised, even if other people in the group are not surprised. So if a party is ambushed by a single stealthy carrion crawler, some members of the group will lose a turn (be surprised) and others will not (they get to act normally).

However, I’m not clear what happens if two groups approach each other, were some members are being stealthy and others are not.

For example, I have a Rogue who is being quiet and stealthy and rolls a 20 on their stealth check. The rest of the group however (Fighter and Wizard), is just marching along at a slow pace. They turn a corner, and see a group of 4 goblins, with a passive perception of 13. Do the 4 goblins lose their first turn because they are surprised by the rogue? Do the Fighter and Wizard get to act on that first turn?

Another example, Same two groups. Two of the goblins rolled a 20 on their stealth, and the other two rolled a 5. Are the Fighter and Wizard and Rogue surprised? (They lose their first turn) Or can they only attack the two goblins with a stealth of 5?

How can we kick our novice roleplayer out of the group for being a poor match, without alienating them from the hobby?

I have someone in my group who is completely new to the hobby. We are now 12 sessions in, and I will most likely need to remove them from the group: Our play styles don’t match, and the rest of the group (me as GM + 3 other people) want to play a campaign with a completely different tone than that player – The campaign was “advertised” on Roll20 as a more “serious” game (Story- and character focused), but the player (or his characters, he is on his second one) does nothing but silly/goofy actions and otherwise does not participate most of the time.

They joined the group via “looking for group” on Roll20 (It is an online game), and in the game description I laid out a few requirements/expectations about the tone of the game. The other three players had experience with RPGs so we decided to accept someone who was completely new to the hobby into the group. It quickly became clear that it was a mismatch. I won’t go into detail here (not necessary to my question), but they were also below the minimum age I had set for my game (again, in the Roll20 game description on the Looking for Group page) by four or five years.

They received a “warning” from the rest of the group: we spoke with them about the difference in style, and they said they where willing to change their playstyle to better fit – I told them that if they could not (or did not want to), we would probably have to part ways.

Now, a few sessions later, they are returning to their previous behaviour, and the group decided that it was time to “kick them out”. Now here is my problem: It is not their fault that the playstyle does not match, they couldn’t really know (as they had never played before) and while they omitted their age when applying, we also didn’t ask (although we suspected just from their style of writing), and accepted them in. They are also quite enthusiastic, which I really like. I absolutely don’t want to destroy their enthusiasm for our hobby, but I am also not that good with people.

So, my question is: How can I make sure that, when I kick them out, they understand and won’t lose their enthusiasm? How do I part ways with them “on good terms”?

The player in question is 13 or 14 (not 100% sure), male, the game has been running for about 6 months, with about 2 sessions per month, they received the “warning” around session 5 or 6 and it got better for a few sessions after that.

How can I deal with a “goof-ball” player in my WoD group?

I am a storyteller in a World of Darkness group, and I’m about to start designing a new scenario. However one of my players (let’s call him Eric) is worrying me. Eric usually goes the goofball route when it comes to roleplaying. This means that he is great at doing just that (DM-ing comedic campaigns in D&D for example) but less great when it comes to actual serious roleplaying.

In my last (and first) WoD campaign (a pre-written scenario called Night of the Ghoul) he said that he played a depressed artist with a cat who lived in his backpack. However, after min-maxing him, he played the character like an aggressive and borderline psychopathic thug who had almost no regard for anything, including his own life. Basically an MMO-character in the present day.

Now I want to run a proper, serious survival horror story, but I’m afraid that he will goof-out again. Is there any way I could design the story to build around this or fix this issue without just goofing-out myself?

[EDIT]: Eric’s old character is now in jail for assisting in killing a hobo, digging up the corpse of his uncle and decapitating it and wounding a teenager… laughing all the way.