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Character Survival Techniques

Version 1.3 (Compiled by Willem van Driel)

 
Subject: The List of Character Survival Techniques V1.3 [LONG]
From: Willem van Driel <jvandriel@wxs.nlREMOVE2REPLY>
Date: 1999/10/23
Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.cyber,rec.games.frp.dnd,rec.games.frp.gurps,rec.games.frp.misc
The List of Character Survival Techniques V1.3
 
This is the list so far (last updated October 10th 1999). It contains
advice for both low-tech and hi-tech games. It may sometimes seem a bit
incongruous, with AD&D stuff right next to something directly from a
cyberpunk game, but all in all I think the point usually comes across.
Anyway, I've tried to keep the advice general enough to be of use in a
wide range of games. I've also tried to keep it practical and to avoid
such advice as 'don't get shot' or 'don't mess with dragons'. (Heaven
help you if you needed to be told those things :-)
 
The most recent version of this list can be found on my website at
http://home.wxs.nl/~jvdriel. For those of you who wish to put the list
on your own website, that's fine by me as long as: a. it's not done for
profit and b. the contents aren't altered. If you let me know that
you've put the list on your site, I'll make sure you automatically get
any new versions.
 
Finally, I'd like to give a warm thanks to everyone who sent in their
advice and comments. This list wouldn't have been possible without you.
 
Willem van Driel <jvandriel@wxs.nl>
 
[Note: * indicates new or revised entries.]
 
---INDEX---
 
Equipment.
Combat.
Character creation.
Negotiations.
Extreme environments.
General advice and strategy.
 
---EQUIPMENT---
 
1. The 10 ft pole (Thaddeus Moore)
As in the expression "I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole!" Well
I guess u could carry a larger one. In a party I once played with the
thief carried a collapsible 10 ft pole, made of sections with treaded
ends so they could be screwed together. I think he also had some kind of
pulley operated claw at the end. For picking things up, very useful for
detecting trip wires and pulling suspicious levers too.
 
2. Bandages (Lloyd Revious)
Bandages are a must!!! Unless your DM just kills you and doesn't do
unconsciousness or bleeding to death.
 
3. Chalk
A good way to keep from getting lost in dungeons and mazes. When you
leave a mark, add a small, hardly noticeable detail so that you'll be
able to tell if someone has messed around with your signs.
 
4. Crowbar
At least one person in the group should carry one. That way, you won't
have to start using Excalibur to pry open a wooden chest or door. In an
emergency, a crowbar will also serve as a weapon.
 
5. Lightsources
Always carry torches, a flashlight or some other form of illumination. A
coin with continual light cast on it is popular in many AD&D campaigns,
though you shouldn't neglect to bring some ordinary lightsources with
you as well. Otherwise a simple dispel magic could leave you groping in
the dark. A burning torch can also be useful as a weapon, especially
against animals and regenerating monsters.
 
6. Straps (Lloyd Revious)
String or leather tie straps are almost as useful as rope. Then you
don't have to cut up your much needed climbing rope to tie up a prisoner
(or whatever).
 
7. Piano Wire (Thaddeus Moore)
Thin very strong (metal?) wire, can be used to bind things together or
for trip wires. Use in conjunction with spikes and drive them in at
various heights. While traveling through a dimly lit corridor the group
came to a wooden door. They listen and heard orcish voices on the other
side. So they doused all the torches on the walls. And set up piano wire
at head level by driving spikes into the wall and fastening the wire to
them. Then the group's fastest runner opened the door, taunted the orcs
and took off down the hall. The party had notched the wall where the
wire was. And the runner was able to duck and keep running. While the
orcs got some nasty headaches.
 
8. Firestarters
Fire is one of the most useful things there is. It can be used for
illumination, warmth and destruction. You should always carry the means
for making fire, whether it's old-fashioned flint and steel or a
zippo-lighter.
 
9. The small mirror on a stick
Ideal for looking around corners. Also useful if you're being shot at
and don't want to stick you're head out of cover. (Believe me, taking a
quick peek only works in the movies. In real life (well, real
role-playing), a quick peek isn't enough to give you any useful
information but it's certainly enough for a sharpshooter to add a third
eye).
 
10. Rope (The Wizard)
Rope, you can never have enough, every PC should carry some, and at
least one PC should have a grapple hook. Try to get silk rope, lighter
and stronger.
 
11. Wooden wedges
Shoving a wedge under a door is a much quicker way of blocking it than
by piling up furniture (of course, you should always make sure the door
opens in the right direction). Alternatively, a wedge can keep doors
from closing behind you (secret doors tend to have this nasty tendency).
 
12. Fire extinguisher (Boltcutter)
[Shadowrun] Keep a fire extinguisher by the bedside; ritual magic's
payback, and payback's a bitch.
 
13. Missile weapons
Always carry a missile weapon with you, even if it's only a couple of
darts or a small pistol and even if you don't have the relevant skill.
If an enemy is coming at you from a distance, a missile weapon basically
means you get some free attacks. Also, there will be times when a gun or
bow is simply the only way you can reach the enemy. Besides, a missile
weapon can be very useful for intimidation purposes.
 
14a. ID (Craig L Wigda)
Always have a spare "fake" ID handy (several if you can get them). Have
"real" or "false" permits for your gear (cyberware or weapons, or any
other restricted items).
 
14b. ID (Blank Dave)
Don't forget a badly faded piece of ID. Man I can't believe Superman
believed me when I said my union card was a Cross Dimensional
Immigration Authority card.
 
15. Fake plates (Craig L Wigda)
Have at least two other sets of license plates made up for your vehicle
that match a "legally" registered vehicle of the same make and model
(having the fake ID to go with the plates is also needed, just for your
common traffic offenses).
 
16. Smoke grenades
When pinned down by enemy fire, a well-placed smoke grenade might be
your only way out. My own group got stuck in a building once. We were
completely surrounded by snipers and getting to the nearest neighboring
building meant having to run across a lot of open ground. I would have
given a lot to have had some smoke-grenades back then.
 
17. Stethoscope
Useful for finding out if there's anybody on the other side of a door,
or for listening in on conversations in the room next-door.
 
18. Pistols and knives (Blank Dave)
Pack a pistol and a knife (both are easy to hide, cheap to lose, and are
like brains (everyone's got one, but few use them). They will go
unnoticed, and if not they probably won't draw much attention, unlike
monoswords and assault shotguns. Neither might pack much kick, but their
general utility level makes up for that.)
 
19. Nasties (Lloyd Revious)
One thing I also like to do <...> is add some nasties. Like say
caltrops, snap traps, dog pepper, or anything else your devious heart
desires.
 
20. Stun weapons
Carry some sort of stun weapon (tasers, darts coated with sleeping
poison, etc.) in case you need to capture someone unharmed (for example:
a partymember who has been possessed or has gone berserk). You might
even want to consider making a stun weapon your primary weapon of
choice. People who don't leave trails of corpses behind usually get less
hassle from the law. You also run less risk of being hunted down by the
familymembers or friends of your victims (a lot of action movies are
based on that concept and who knows where your gamemaster gets his or
her ideas).
 
21. Protective clothing
You never know what you're going to have to touch or walk on, so a pair
of heavy gloves and strong boots should definitely be part of your
inventory. Players in a more futuristic setting might want to carry some
gloves and boots capable of withstanding toxic waste. If you've got the
money and vehicle-space, bring along an entire environment-suit.
 
22a. Paper and pen (Klaus AE. Mogensen)
Useful for drawing maps, writing messages, doing calculations, drawing
portraits ("Have you seen this man?"). The paper can also be used as
kindling, to wrap things, and as a fan.
 
22b. Paper and pen (bardic_delusions@my-dejanews.com)
Also the paper can be waved in front of a guard while stating "Important
message for your boss" as you stroll past. As long as they don't get to
read your laundry list you may get by. In a similar vein you can walk
around ostentatiously taking notes and asking questions and people may
assume you belong.
 
23. Sticky stuff (Darkwalker)
I would also add Duct Tape and Super Glue to the list. I've found
endless uses for them.
 
* 24. Explosives
If you can get away with it, carry some explosives (preferably in a nice
shock/fire/waterproof box :-). You don't need to carry many, just have a
few handy to bail you out of difficult situations. An explosive can
open/create doors, take out that armored vehicle/creature that's
impervious to your bullets, provide a diversion, etc. Most grenades can
also be made into booby traps.
 
* 25. Hooks and whistles (Matt "Dirty A Sid" Johnston)
A note about preparation; five words for you: Fish hooks and signal
whistles. Oh yeah, don't forget the string. Can you imagine dropping
Nystuls Magic Medallion of Unending World Peace down the sewer grate,
just as the bad guy with Tensers Magic Medallion of World Destruction,
is about to tear your world apart? Is your thief really going to be
strong enough to tear that grate from the ground? Hope your DM thinks
so. What about that time you tried to get your friends attention before
they mistakenly gutted the runaway prince in disguise, during the heat
of battle, with swords clanging on shields all around? Bet he bit it
didn't he?
 
---COMBAT---
 
1. Standard operating procedure (Thomas R Nelson)
Have an S.O.P. for battles, i.e., these guys in front/left/middle/
right, and these guys in back, clerics casting this and this, and mages
casting this and this. There aren't that many different situations
you'll encounter. When you're under attack, if you ALWAYS set up the
same way for the fight, then you'll get quicker at it and not only will
the players react better as a team, but also it can make a difference
whether you spend a round coordinating or can get set quickly. i.e., we
spent two rounds deciding who does what and in the meantime, the monster
was able to close on our mage; or the fighter went to close with the
monster, but the mage was casting a lightning bolt at him, so the
fighter moved into the path of the bolt and...
 
2. Keywords/phrases (Bardic_Delusions@my-dejanews.com)
In certain circumstances a character yelling one word or phrase could
make everyone do "the right thing". Little things like "double team
right" might mean the mage and right fighter are to combine on the right
side enemy. Customize the concept to your team and abilities.
 
3a. Concentrating attacks (Sean Emmott)
Concentrate as many attacks as possible on one opponent: the quicker one
is killed, the sooner there's one less attack on your group.
 
3b. Concentrating attacks (Klaus AE. Mogensen)
While this may be true in AD&D, it's not necessarily true in games where
damage impairs the ability to fight. In HERO or Rolemaster (for
instance), if all PCs attack different opponents in the first round,
they may be able to stun them, so they can't hit back. In Rolemaster,
HarnMaster, Storyteller and other games to numerous to mention, damaged
characters get combat penalties, so even if they aren't stunned, they
are unlikely to hit you. In many games with reasonable combat rules, the
best mass combat tactic is to let the poor fighters perform holding
actions (parry for all they're worth) while the good fighters finish off
_their_ opponents.
 
4. To fight or not to fight... (D.G. Larush)
Know when NOT to fight- A thief or mage who is out of spells is NOT
useless in a fight as long as you realize that you can be valuable while
not fighting. Reining up the horses, pulling wounded party members out
of combat, throwing burning oil. These can all aid the party without
placing a wounded or otherwise non-battle ready party member in
jeopardy.
 
5. Evil altars (Boltcutter)
Don't leap on the, actively used, altar to the Evil God to get a better
swing at someone.
 
6. Surrendering (D.G. Larush)
Surrender IS an option- I almost lost a character once because I got too
"heroic" and never even considered paying off highwaymen as an option.
Learn to recognize when the DM is hinting that you're outnumbered (forty
of the king's archers with arrows nocked is a good sign), and learn to
be able to eat crow and surrender when appropriate. A good DM will never
let your characters rot in jail forever, but will use it to further the
plot. What do you think thieves are for?
 
7. Cover
Use cover if any is available. Anyone who needlessly stands out in the
open during a firefight deserves every bullet he gets. Remember that
cover can sometimes be shot _through_ (not even stone walls can always
provide safety), so try to never give away your exact location.
 
8. Melee against groups
When fighting against a large group in melee combat, always place your
back against a wall or another large object so you can't be attacked
from behind. Even better, try fighting from an enclosed space such as a
doorway or a narrow pass. That way, even less enemies can get at you
and, more importantly, you still have the option of retreat. If you
yourself have the advantage of numbers, then be sure to use it. Surround
your enemy so there's always someone who can attack from the rear, try
to catch the opponent in a cross-fire, etc.
 
9. Pursuit
If you have an advantageous position, the enemy might try to lure you
out of it by retreating. If you were winning before the withdrawal,
you'll probably feel a strong urge to pursue and continue the fight.
Only do this if you're sure the enemy is truly broken and disorganized.
 
* 10. Shield-wall (Phil Hendry)
Assuming a dungeon setting... When meeting an opposing group in a
corridor, any fight which ensues is almost bound to be 'fair'- i.e. one
on one, two on two etc. The odds can easily be weighted in the party's
favour if the party is prepared to retreat to the last chamber they were
in, then by clustering around the doorway inside the room, they can get
maybe as many as three on one. This works best if the room is off the
side of the corridor, rather than at an end- otherwise the opposition
can 'charge' down the corridor and break through the 'shield-wall' in
the room, negating any advantage.
 
---CHARACTER CREATION---
 
1. Spell selection
When choosing your spells (or mutations or psionic powers or whatever)
make sure the spell isn't superfluous. A lot of spell effects can be
achieved just as well by having the right equipment or by the skills of
your fellow partymembers. For instance, if you're a low-level mage and
have several warriors in your party, go light on the combat spells. Most
of the time, the damage you can do with them is negligible compared to
what the fighters will dish out. Pick something more useful instead.
 
2a. Skills
With all the combat skills to pick from, it's often easy to overlook the
more unobtrusive ones. Don't forget skills like swimming, riding (or
driving) and reading/writing.
 
2b. Skills (Blank Dave)
Always have a medical skill, First aid will do (if only one person has
such skills, you can be almost guaranteed he'll be the first one in need
of those skills when the fighting breaks out).
Always have some form of combat skill (a fight will always break out,
being able to defend yourself is a must. Even non combat oriented games
will usually have a physical fight somewhere).
 
3. Group input (Blank Dave)
As a group make your characters as a group. Too often the characters are
independently made. This results in holes in the group. By making
characters as a group, it is possible to provide a better width and
depth to the group. Think what happened when no one made a cleric or
magic user.
 
4. Powerlevel
Strange as it may seem, sometimes your odds are better if you don't try
to create an all-powerful character. There are several reasons for this:
 
a. GM compensation. It's a gamemaster's job to provide the players with
a challenge. If you create characters capable of taking on a tank, then
tanks are what you'll get.
b. Overconfidence. Powerful characters usually wade into combat without
even considering if there's another way of dealing with the situation.
But combat can be deadly no matter how strong you are.
c. Lack of character attachment. Powerful characters rarely have
interesting non-combat skills or equipment, because the player spent all
his resources on boosting fire-power. The end result is usually a combat
machine with about as much originality as the average toaster. Because
of this, the player tends to care much less about keeping the character
alive.
If you're used to playing terminator-type characters, it can be quite
difficult to make a change. Power gamers usually shudder at the thought
of not maxing out a combat skill, and start sweating at the idea of
actually spending some points on charisma or social skills. The best
advice I can give is this: when creating a character, choose the one
thing that most defines the character. This could be anything. Perhaps
your character is a thief with a love for climbing. Or perhaps she grew
up near the ocean and loves ships. Or tends to be very curious. Or wants
desperately to be a part some social group. Or has a drug problem that
he's trying to beat. Or wants to be the first mage to perfect the
growing (and domestication) of really big carnivorous plants. Once you
establish the core concept, the rest of the character usually comes
naturally and you'll feel much less inclined to spend all your character
resources on combat.
 
5. Be interesting (Xiphias Gladius)
I have had at least one GM change a die roll so that I didn't die, just
because he liked my character. In my experience, GMs are much more
willing to let boring characters poorly played die, while they will go
out of their way to find some way of keeping favorite fun characters
alive.
 
---NEGOTIATIONS---
 
1. Basics
Never let on how badly you need the other parties help. And always be
sure to let your most charismatic/silvertongued partymember do the
talking.
 
2. Talking is an option (ChAoS)
One overlooked survival technique is to talk. Many people die because
they attack the too tough for them creature because "it's there" or
"it's evil". But kings have armies, some monsters gate in help (some
fiends gated help can also gate), and sometimes you just aren't tough
enough. But talking may give you a chance to deal with the enemy, get an
idea of its plans, find a weakness, or deal with the villain while
others sneak by to complete the mission. Perhaps he'd GIVE you the goal
of the quest if you do something for him. <...> As usual talking
requires judgement but may save you a painful death.
 
3. Truth (D.G. Larush)
Never assume the other guy is telling the truth. All too often I've seen
PC's take the word of any NPC as gospel truth, even if the NPC has
obvious reasons to lie (i.e. is having the crap beat out of him by the
PC's).
 
4. Motivations (D.G. Larush)
Always keep the other guy's motivations in mind. The key to negotiation
is figuring out what the other guy wants. Is the other guy a mercenary?
Offer double what the other guy's paying. Is the other guy a Techie? How
about some flashy tech? Is he a religious devotee? Hope you know enough
about theology to convince him that you're in the right.
 
5a. Lying (Ryan Mark Vurlicer)
Don't lie unless you need to. I've seen many PCs who ended up as
pathological liars when talking with NPCs, when there was no known
reason to lie. Often, the NPCs eventually found out they were being lied
to. This does not make for successful negotiations.
 
5b. Lying (Jim Davies)
And when you do lie, make absolutely sure that you know what you said.
Lies are harder to remember. It's often a good idea to make sure that
the GM remembers it as well, so that you can at least agree on
something.
 
6. Losing face
When you've got your opponent over a barrel, make sure he knows it but
be careful not to rub his nose in it too much. If you do, he might
decide to refuse your demands, regardless of the consequences. There are
people who would rather die than be extorted/humiliated, especially by
someone they don't respect, so loss of face should be kept to a minimum.
Staying polite helps. And occasionally you might want to consider giving
up something relatively invaluable, so your opponent has something to
show his own people that can be interpreted as a victory.
 
7. Ask for the moon (bill.dowling@ibm.net)
Don't be afraid to ask for the moon. The other party may have no use for
it.
 
---EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS---
 
* 1. Jungle: machetes (Vos MC)
<...> you want to take machetes with you when you're traveling through
the jungle, as our group recently found out. Short swords get real thin
when you use them like that.
 
* 2. Jungle: transport (Vos MC)
Also, horses aren't a very good form of transport in the jungle, and
horsemeat gets a bit boring after a couple of weeks. (That must have
been the third batch of horses we went through. And the first of the 4th
batch died recently too. (Never charge unknown creatures that are slow
enough to run away from.))
 
* 3. Jungle (Vos MC)
Bring something waterproof to keep your maps and other papery stuff in.
 
* 4. Space: vacuum-suit
NEVER, EVER go on a space-journey without a vacuum-suit. Somewhere along
the line, your ship *will* get a hull breach. (They always do. Sigh.)
Keep the suit handy and know how to use it. If you haven't got an
appropriate skill, then at least train until you're able to:
a. get into and out of it without too much delay.
b. seal the suit and activate life-support.
c. seal ruptures.
 
* 5. Stuff to bring along (Pieter)
Jungle: insect net, poison antidote, machete, portable boat.
Desert: water, white clothing, water, compass, water, camels and water,
warm clothes (it gets COLD at night), water.
Arctic: black goggles (to prevent snowblindedness), rope to tie each
other together to avoid snow-filled chasms, knowledge of how to build an
iglo, really warm clothes, ice pick, crampons.
Space: well, gee, a space suit; comm gear; navigational stuff, spare
fuel, space suit repair kit.
 
---GENERAL ADVICE AND STRATEGY---
 
1. Keeping your Polish minedetector alive
When exploring a dungeon with a lot of traps, the person who walks point
basically acts as a Polish minedetector. Needless to say that this
person should have a lot of hitpoints/dexterity/good saving throws/luck.
Since a lot of traps are of the pitfall variety, the pointman should
always hold on to a rope that is also being held by the other
partymembers. That way, if the floor collapses beneath him, he won't
immediately be turned into hero-kebab on the spikes that traditionally
line the floor of any self-respecting pitfall.
 
2. Marching orders
Several people have remarked to me about the importance of this. Though
the actual marching orders will vary depending on the party in question,
the general order usually resembles something like this:
Point: any character with stealth.
Front: warriors, preferably with distance weapons available.
Middle: vulnerable characters.
Rear: warriors again or other characters with at least a little bit of
combat power.
 
3. Splitting up the party
Never. Ever. No matter how good an idea it may seem at the time.
Remember that 'divide and conquer' works just as well for the enemy. If
you are, by some act of God, forced to split up, then at least agree on
a rendezvous-point and time and also on a recognition sign or password
(shapeshifters can be a real pain in the butt).
 
4. The Law (Dave Brohman)
Use the proper authorities whenever possible. The cops are a lot less
likely to think you are a crook when they see you show up every three
month bright and chipper to renew your e25 monoknife carry permit. This
came up in our game just last week. Someone broke into my apt. And tried
to access my computer for incriminating information. We caught her and
she though she had me over a barrel. She knew from her source that I
wasn't going to kill her so she was all smug. So I picked up the phone
and dialed 911. Everyone's jaw dropped. No one, ref included, had
thought of that. Remember, 'punks straddle the line. Just cos they
spend a lot of time on the wrong side doesn't meant they have to stay
there.
 
5a. Public transport (Dave Brohman)
Use the subway. Everyone keeps suggesting that making a getaway on
public transport is a bad thing. Not so. A subway is a really good place
to get lost in the crowd. Plus, they can't run your plates or I.D. your
vehicle.
Guard: "They got away sir."
Boss: "What did their vehicle look like?"
Guard: "About 40 feet long, seats 60, 'Night City Transit Authority'
written on the side..."
 
* 5b. Public transport (Dragonscroll)
A corollary to this advice. Do not attempt to flee from the police or
the Transit Authority via public transportation. They both have the
ability to stop the subway car/bus/rickshaw you are on and come to get
you.
 
6a. Low profile
When your on a mission or if you've got something to hide (like having a
body in the trunk of your car), don't do something stupid like speeding
or driving under the influence. Even if you get off with only a ticket,
that ticket might be enough to connect you to the crime. Also, don't get
into fights and when a cop/guardsman tells you to do something, say "yes
sir" and play the concerned citizen. Don't overdo it though. An overly
helpful person gets remembered as much as a troublemaker.
 
6b. Low profile (Craig L Wigda)
If you have expensive/military/or hard to get gear, do not flash it
around. People would just love to take things away from you if they can.
 
7. Bugs (Craig L Wigda)
Always check provided gear/safe houses for bugs.
 
8. Shooting cops (Blank Dave)
Don't shoot at the police (it makes them mad, and this point can never
be overstated enough).
 
9. Keywords/phrases
These were already mentioned in the combat section but they can also be
useful in other situations. The party should have a short list of subtle
signs, with meanings like:
"Something is wrong, try to leave unobtrusively."
"Get ready for a fight."
"Get ready to run like hell."
 
10a. Planning
When you're making a plan, _always_ make a backup plan for when things
go wrong (which, let's face it, they always do). So don't just say:
"We're going to sneak into the temple, steal the Ruby Eye of the Mad
God, and then sneak back out again", but also decide in advance what
you're going to do if you get discovered halfway and you've got hordes
of mad priests and guards coming towards you from all directions, while
bells madly toll the alarm. My group usually starts arguing, with half
the players wanting to make a run for it and the other half wanting to
go on and try for the Eye anyway. Of course, while we're arguing our DM
happily lets the guards and priests close in.
 
10b. Planning
In general, try to keep plans simple. You can't plan for every
contingency anyway and having too many/too long/too detailed plans only
ensures that things will get messed up, not to mention the fact that
they suck up a lot of game-time.
 
10c. Planning (Sander Biesma)
Whenever you decide to make a plan, stick to it. Just because you
discover a hidden door which might hide a load of treasure (and your
usual Fiend or two) that doesn't give reason enough to sidestep from
your original plan and screw it up completely, making your original goal
harder to achieve.
 
11. Unknown territory
When heading into unknown territory, try to get information beforehand
if you can. Try to find out about weather and terrain conditions,
monsters you might encounter, local leaders, customs the people might
have, laws of nature, laws of supernature, etc.
 
12. The real deal (Dave Brohman)
Ask questions FIRST, shoot later. So many punks accept the line they are
fed without bothering to check the facts. Get your employers line, then
visit your local information sources and find out the REAL deal.
 
13. Mr. Johnson (Craig L Wigda)
Always check out your job and the person hiring you before you take the
job (but most GMs do not allow you the chance to do this). Never trust
the equipment provided by Mr. Johnson.
 
14. Coffins (Gary Astleford)
Don't open coffins. Only stupid people open coffins.
 
15. Navigating buildings (D Howard)
One of the best survival techniques is if you run into a building to
evade capture NEVER head upwards, through yes, but never up because it's
a lot harder to get back down again!
 
16. Portable phones
If your character carries a portable phone, turn off the sound before
you go on a mission requiring stealth.
 
17. Meetings
Never let the other party chose the place for the meeting. Make sure
it's held somewhere public and unenclosed, such as a mall. If you need
more privacy, try to meet somewhere in the open, a public park for
instance. That way, it's harder for your enemy to box you in. Always
arrive at the meeting place early and spend some time observing it. Note
the available exits. During the meeting, have some backup waiting
(preferably with a getaway vehicle and a long range rifle).
 
18. Mugshots
Before going on an assignment, try to get pictures or descriptions of
people important to your mission. My own group once went to talk to a
scientist without taking this precaution. The person we met later turned
out to be a very well-armed imposter [Ouch].
 
19. Payment
When accepting a mission, try to get as much money in advance as
possible. Not only does this reduce the chances of being cheated, it
also makes it less likely that your employer will try to stab you in the
back in order to avoid having to pay you. Don't forget to ask if your
expenses (hospital costs, ammo, broken equipment etc.) are covered.
Also, those surviving should receive the shares of deceased teammembers.
 
20. Traces
Be careful not to leave traces at the scene of the crime. You might want
to invest in some gloves, a disguise or perhaps even some spells
specifically designed to clear all traces. These can be extremely handy,
especially in Shadowrun, where even a single drop of blood or strand of
hair is enough for a ritual magic team to track you down. Also remember
that a lot of firearms eject empty cartridges, which might be used for
evidence.
 
21. Dealing with the Mob (Blank Dave)
Don't wave sexual apperatus at the local mafia Don (we learnt that
through experience).
 
22. Boltholes (Craig L Wigda)
Have more then one bolt hole or safe house with some extra gear, cash,
and fake IDs.
 
23. Intrusion
While (or before) trespassing through a fortress/dungeon/corporate
building, see if you can pick up an appropriate outfit/suit that will
allow you to blend in. Also, pay attention to the names of high-ranking
personnel (again, try to find this out beforehand if possible). That
way, when someone stops you and asks you what the hell you're doing in
the Inner Citadel carrying the Scepter of Urgh, you'll be able to say:
"I've got direct orders from lord X, out of my way, you flunky." This
will probably not be enough to get you out of trouble, but it should
keep the guards from attacking you on the spot and thus buy you some
time.
 
24. 'To do' list (Lauri C. Gardner)
Make a list of all things you are supposed to do, especially the dumb
things. If you don't mention them, you will forget them. Have the list
go around having rest of the team members make additions.
 
25. Some advice for thieves (Barry Wood)
[AD&D] If you detect traps, do NOT assume just because you have a
"Remove Traps" roll after the "Detect" that you are somehow responsible
for removing each and every trap. Even at medium levels, the odds of you
failing your roll and being killed by a trap are high. So, let the mage
spend some spells removing it. Let the fighter use his polearm to poke
around a bit. The best thief I ever ran with would go to the front of
the party and say "Yep, there's a trap here" and then promptly return to
his place in back of the party.
 
26. Animals
Keep a sharp eye and ear on the local fauna. When something is wrong,
the animals often know about it before you do. An unusually quiet forest
or a flock of birds that suddenly takes off for no apparent reason could
both indicate trouble. You might also want to consider getting a trained
dog or another animal with senses sharper than your own.
 
* 27. Use it!
If you've got it, use it! Saving your resources 'for the real
emergencies' is all very well, but when you feel you might have need of
a certain item/spell/whatever, don't hesitate to use it. A lot of
characters die with unused healing potions in their backpacks and unused
spells on their minds. Don't let that be you.
 
* 28. Know Who Your Friends Are (Colin Turner)
Many groups fail to note who's good to deal with. Or worse, they even
fail to remember who they've dealt with at all. Sometimes an old friend
has just what you need, or knows who can help you - why takes risks all
over again by asking favors of new contacts when you don't have to?
Associates from years past don't drop off the face of the earth because
you've been out of town for a while. In fact, they may have just the
information you need, but you've forgotten all about them.
 
* 29. Hair (Bishop187@aol.com)
Long flowing hair (on either sex) looks good, keeps your neck (and
possibly shoulders, depending on length and your taste in clothing) from
being sunburned, and cushions those nasty crit hits - skull. Problem is,
if a clever opponent gets close and grabs you by that hair, you're in
deep trouble. Same goes for long beards. If you still insist on looking
like a Viking, a punk rocker, or Weird Al Yankovic, I would suggest the
following measures:
a) pre battle haircut. possibly with dagger.
b) some sort of magic spell, possibly "Retract Hair" or somesuch.
c) grease applied to hair to make it too slippery to hold.
d) become a character who wears a helmet, and tuck all that hair inside.
 
In short, GET A HAIRCUT. A short one. Even if you're female, and
required by fantasy gaming law to have "midnight black"/"golden yellow"
hair down to your ankles, it's better to break the law than to be one
day dangled out a window by that hair.
 
 
Well, that's it for now. My thanks go out to the following people whose
suggestions made it into the list in one form or another:
Gary Astleford <ocelot@connectnet.com>
<Bardic_Delusions@my-dejanews.com>
Sander Biesma
<bill.dowling@ibm.net>
<Bishop187@aol.com>
Roderick Christ
Blank Dave <blank_dave@sympatico.ca>
Ronald Boehm <ronald.boehm@tu-clausthal.de>
Boltcutter <sbartholet@sprintmail.com>
Dave Brohman <HughMcHugh@aol.com>
ChAoS <jj@monadnock.keene.edu>
Darkwalker <darkshidhe@aol.comNOSPAM>
Jim Davies <jim@moose.powernet.socks.co.uk>
Florian Decker
Dragonscroll <cio@dragonscroll.com>
Sean Emmott <seanemmott@email.msn.com>
Flykiller <flykiller@aol.com>
Lauri C. Gardner <lauri@dawn.joensuu.fi>
Phil Hendry <p.hendry@lancaster.ac.uk>
D Howard <bigd@wyrmtalk.u-net.com>
Matt Johnston <dirty-a-sid@tyler.net>
Peter Knutsen <peter@knutsen.dk>
D.G. Larush <larushdg@muss.cis.McMaster.CA>
Klaus Æ. Mogensen <klaudius@get2net.dk>
Thaddeus Moore <tadmoore@erols.com>
Thomas R Nelson <tnelson@uic.edu>
Pieter <psimoons@wi.leidenuniv.nl>
Ike Porter <iporte1@umbc.edu>
Lloyd Revious <etrigan@imt.net>
Turner, Colin <ctu1f@Allstate.com>
Vos MC,0876208 <mcvos@cs.vu.nl>
Ryan Mark Vurlicer <rmv2498@unix.tamu.edu>
Craig L Wigda <clwigda@gdwest.gd.com>
The Wizard <dzur@hotmail.com>
Barry Wood <fenris@utdallas.edu>
Xiphias Gladius <ian@schultz.io.com>

 

 

 

 

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