Campaign vs. One Shot Style Conflicts


I plan to start my players on a Conan "campaign" but I plan to do it with one-shots, much like Robert Howard's stories. But one of my players is a sorceror, and I've noticed, looking through the spells section, that a lot of sorcery involves scrying, and fortune-telling, and other non-combat items.

I see a slight problem with this, in a "one-shot" environment. It seems to me that a sorcerous player would be better suited to a campaign environment, where his long-term sorcery could better be used. Otherwise, I can see telling him that his crystal ball has told him there's a treasure at this location, etc., and the party will go there to get it. But that seems rather pointless to me, as the party is going to go to that location regardless. That's what I wrote the story for! And I would think that the sorceror player might consider his fortune-telling powers to be a waste, while the barbarian goes charging through the temple with all kinds of fun attacks...

I'm just kind of wondering if this player might want to reconsider playing a sorceror, if every time we get together, his powers will more or less be used as a backdrop for the REAL story, which will happen typically in one night, as the party raids a temple, etc. I can picture the sorceror standing around bored as the rest of the party does most of the work...

Do I make sense here?
I find that sorcerers work better as NPCs, otherwise the game seems almost like a DnD style Conan pastiche (like Steve Perry's Conan novels).
VincentDarlage said:
I find that sorcerers work better as NPCs, otherwise the game seems almost like a DnD style Conan pastiche (like Steve Perry's Conan novels).

Yes, you save the mystery for your players: magic will always be an unknown and unpredictable factor. 2 of my 3 players never even read the magic rules.
I, too, have yet to allow my players take any level of scholar. I find in not doing so, it gives the players more of a sense of wonder and mystery.
I agree with Vincent. However I think the Dabbler feat can add a little bit of sorcery and mystery when properly used. A nobleman who is disenchanted with his life and is seeking "alternative" entertainment is a great character to give the Dabbler Feat, or at the most one level of Scholar.

Eric in Vegas
Sorcerer's are a fantastic class, the adventures and roleplaying you can have with a scholar PC are immensely deep. The magic system is top notch and definitely my style. However the problem is it would need to be a solo campaign. Or the other PCs would be the scholar's lackies (and thus expendable).

The PC scholar I had recently died. Unfortunately when you deal with demons and teachers, their goals aren't the parties goals. I had great fun with it and so did the player, he died when his master hunted him down and fried his brain in a War of Souls. (I rule that the scholar must have a teacher to gain the first level - human or demon...Demonic Pact/Greater Words and Signs can be learned on your own through research.)

Outside of combat and in between games we had great roleplay sessions. Once combat started though the scholar took a backseat. That was quite often, Conan is action packed.

Though we had a great time with it, the whole group tends to agree sorcerer's are best left as evil NPCs.
Fearguis said:
I plan to start my players on a Conan "campaign" but I plan to do it with one-shots, much like Robert Howard's stories. But one of my players is a sorceror, and I've noticed, looking through the spells section, that a lot of sorcery involves scrying, and fortune-telling, and other non-combat items.
Wow, have I got answers for you. The campaign I have been running is very much like this (I call it "episodic adventures") and I've had a scholar PC in it from the beginning (an Acheronian raised in Stygia).

My PC scholar hasn't really taken many (any) spells from divinations or summonings or other spells with a long casting time. Most of his repertoire is instead focused on hypnotism and curses: he can break your mind like a twig

However he has really focused on his knolwedge skills, lots of ranks plus he even took the Knolwedgable feat (and I let the bonus from that feat apply to his Knolwedge is Power class ability) and he looks to use those knowledge skills any time he can. Since I want to support him in this I have been prety generous with the information I hand out and as a result any time the party encounters anything even the least bit unusual he is the goto man for answers. Besides, it allows me to drone on and on about the adventure background I wrote :wink: :roll:

Likewise I have forbidden any player but him from reading the Sorcery chapter. He has become absoluetly invaluable as the party's anti-magic specalist. Whenever they encounter something supernatural he is the one who can identify it, its strengths and weaknesses (or at least make guesses, I don't hand him everything on a silver platter) and even though he went for the longest time without counterspells he still has some valuable anti-scholar capabilities just based on War of the Souls and Rule of the Sorcorer's Soul.

A really good example of how all this works out is from last session. I introduced them to a NPC for the first time, this guy is really the eipsode's BBEG but his reputation is that of a respected physician. The BBEG's bluff score is through the roof, nobody in the party can even hope to cover it, and his diplomacy isn't so bad either. He is in the process of feeding the party a load of BS when the PC scholar indicates to me that he catches the BBEG's eye (as I expected him to do). One quick magic attack roll later and the PC scholar not only knows that the guy is a magic user but that he has a corruption score of 7! That bit of info really helped the party decide to focus on the BBEG in their investigation. Later on the PC scholar will get a chance to swipe some of the BBEG's notes and with a few knolwedge checks (and maybe a decipher script check or two) will be able to come away with some info on what sort of wacky hoodo the BBEG is up to.

Another thing my scholar has found usefull: he has put ranks into Craft[alchemy] and Craft[herbalism] (which is the skill used to make poisions in Conan) so I usually let him "make" some items "inbetween" eipsodes. He has gotten a lot of mielage out of simple flame-powder and combined with Telekenisis he quite literally always has a nasty trick up his sleeve. Of course I also took the time to add a lot of new alchemical/herbal/poisions to the game just for him (and me) to use and abuse.

Lastly don't forget the rest of his skillset. Heal is an invaluable skill. He also has bluff, intimidate and sense motive as class skills and in a party of barbarians and pirates he might easily become the "face".

Last thing I want to address is all the comments about PC scholars being a bad idea. They aren't but they do have to be approached carefully and the GM and player need to work together on it. I let this player play a scholar because he was really eager for it and I knew that he was a big fan of swords 'n sorcery and he knew what needed to be done and how to do it. So far he hasn't disapointed me. He understands that as a sorcorer half of his power lies in midirection and bravado. He plays it dark and mysterious and finds creative ways to pass on some of the information I give him to the other players in character. I don't feel that having him in the party has made magic less mysterious or exotic to the other players, in fact it has helped keep them confused since every time they think they have him pegged he throws another suprise at them! Sometimes I have bent the rules to support him and somtimes I have declared "GM fiat" to throw him a nasty suprise just to remind him that he is playing with fire. All in all it has added a lot to the game and I would recomed that, if you think your player can handle it, that you go ahead and let him try out a scholar.

Hope that helps.
Indeed, I think the key to properly using a scholar is to find ways to make his *skills* useful, and let his magic be an added bonus.

Alchemy (which has a reasonable no of combat uses), Herbalism, Healing, and, of course, all those lovely knowledge skills.

In addition, skills that might often be supplied by rogues or bards in a D&D game might easily be supplied by scholars - decipher script, diplomacy, that sort of thing.


I don't see the problem with a one-shot game, either. Just because teh sesion is only a few hours does not mean the adventure has to be. A journey of a week to get to the site of the treasure can be glossed over in minutes, but leaving plenty of time for the casting of divination spells.

I think it's probably as easy to give the scholar player a good time in a dungeon bash as it is the Pirate, who is equally out of his element, and equally combat inefective when compared to a rampaging barbarian.