Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

Uncle Sam gave me some pretty important news the day before Christmas.  It seems my schedule has been accelerated and I'll be leaving before February is over.  With that in mind I've had to change a number of plans, one of them being the Rules I've been developing for far too long.  With all the feature creep and redesigns it's been looking like the project will sit in development in perpetuity.  I had something I could've released in 2008, another I could've released in 2011 each one bearing little resemblance to its past incarnation and here we are on the cusp of the 2014.  As much as I love tinkering it's time to release something.

I started pushing myself towards this point by posting Excerpts, hardcoding mechanics that way I couldn't drastically change them later.  At this point I need to get everything set in stone, a difficultly since the core mechanic hit two major overhauls in the last two months and is no longer as smooth as it once was.  The game is starting to be buried under feature creep so I'm going to need to adjust formatting for modularity and some things simply don't have enough time for playtesting which means I'm going to have to leave a lot on the chopping block.  A finished and fine looking product doesn't seem reasonable in a two month time frame, and a kickstarter would be unfair since I will be unavailable for many months and I'll be damned before I turn into an M. Nystul.

So here's where we stand. Come January I'll start an open Beta.  If I can get my shit together before then I'll get a nice PDF release before February is over.  This is a labor of love so there won't be a price tag.  Pay what you want will be offered but all funds will be donated to Charity, either the EFF or Child's Play.  Licensing will likely be Creative Commons.  Well I've got my work cut out for me.  The two pronged attack of crunch time at my day job won't be helping either.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 27, 2013

Playtest Report: Desert of Desolation Prelude Finale

Thundarr the Barbarian
With the departure of the Great Thunder Lizard most of the Croc tribe begins worshipping those that rose from the Sand
Great Croc leader is not amused.
Kills High Priest who knelt before Thundarr PC's.  I
nstructs remaining priest to carry on with Ceremony.
Bronan: "Over my well oiled dead body"
Great Croc Leader and Bronan have a Showdown
Great Croc Leader's Morningstar proves too painful and Bronan's badly bleeding hide must retreat while Jacque steps in.
One Critical hit later Jacques Flamberge has carved out the Great Croc leaders heart
Croc Tribe swears fealty to new Croc Leader
Monsieur Frog is clad in Croc Chief regalia

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Playtest Report: Desert of Desolation Prelude

Fencer by Beaver-Skin
Bronan the Barbarian and Jean-Claude the French Canadian Fencer have blown into town in search of adventure and coin.
Town is an oasis in the middle of the shifting sands.
Plenty of Caravans and Merchants
Plenty of crazy tribes too.
Party witnesses tribal dance followed by selection of beautiful girl who is led off crying
Party demands answers from local street vendor
Local street vendor proves surprisingly knowledgeable
Tribals are superstitious and think that Great Thunder Lizard will emerge from deep beneath the sands to wreak havoc and consume the oasis.
Tribals placate Great Thunder Lizard with human sacrifices.
The last sacrifice was an out-of-towner they snatched.
She proved resourceful and escaped (or was eaten, hasn't been seen since)
Tribals have selected a new sacrifice.
Bronan on a quest to save Damsels in Distress
Jean-Claude will not suffer this Lizard Worshipping.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twilight Imperium: A Great Way to Spend 7 Hours

I enjoy the occasional board game but I don't normally seek them out so when a friend asked me to commit to an 8 hour board game I had my doubts.  This is the second time we've played, both times it has been a blast.  Fairly easy to get into, it's easier to watch than have it explained to you but once you do the game moves pretty fast and is continuously engaging.  Plenty of treachery, wheeling and dealing, politics and of course space battles. 

In fact, the space battles are quick and easy with a decent amount of options to keep it fresh.  If I ever revisit my Mecha Mashup rules I would definitely like to go for a simple space army battle presented in Twilight Imperium.  One of the problems my players always had in character creation was choosing the genre (Zoids, Gundam, Robotech/Macross, Evangelion, etc.) and type of Mecha to build as a character.  Giving them the option to build armies rather than units could be quite a bit of fun.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Etrian Odyssey

EO Golem by Jehudy

I've been on an Etrian Odyssey Binge so I've decided to finish up an old draft from a ways back.

All this talk of Combat as Sport (CaS) or Combat as War (CaW) has got me thinking of one of my favorite games, an old school dungeon crawler with modern day influences, a cult favorite and continuously improving game series.  I speak of course of the hand-held joy Etrian Odyssey

Etrian Odyssey is a first person dungeon crawler similar in vein to Eye of the Beholder or Wizardry that many greybeards may be more familiar with.  You create a guild, recruit people from various classes and stunning hand-drawn portraits then you assemble a party of up to five adventurers and journey into the labyrinth.  Each game in the series has one main goal at its core, to explore the world-spanning labyrinth Yggdrasil, going deep beneath its depths or high amongst its branches to seek mystery, fame, fortune, and answers.  There is a new Yggdrasil or equivalent in each game, it is at the end of the first game you learn the true purpose of this tree in what is often a very bright and cheerful post-apocalyptic world.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Excerpt: Initiative

Doug Anderson proposed an idea for Initiative a while back that I'm rather keen on.  At the time my slow as molasses Dwarf player wanted to have some way to not go last in Initiative and this worked perfectly.  After plenty of playtesting I'm rather satisfied with the end result in the context of my HP system.  Read more about it here

Doug proposes that when the party encounters another group you allow them to Spend HP to improve their initiative.  When they run head first into a party of goblins they have to decide whether to conserve their resources and let the goblins act first or to spend some of their Luck (HP in his system) and strike first.  It's a quick but important decision that adds a good deal of oomph to combat without over complicating things.  Simple and Clean, my kind of thing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

R&D Update: November

A month has slipped by past my original deadline and I'm glad it did.  Being overdue has put me in crunchtime but the lack of a firm deadline keeps me from burning out.  Although I've got a major career and life change no more than three months in the future which is driving me forward.

I've been doing serious playtesting 3-5 times weekly and I've gotten a lot more revisions in and more recently a focus on readability.  I am currently trying to pass a fundamental design test as follows:
Set the player down with your game.
Give them only the character creation rules.
Can they make a character without any guidance?
Step 2, give them the combat rules and have them run combat.
Is it intuitive?  Are there any hiccups?  What areas do people frequently forget or misinterpret?

It has certainly been eye opening and gives me a finer lens with which to tweak things and to instill some clarity.

I was fortunate enough to have a good friend of mine who is equal parts board-game fanatic and statistician take a look over the MK I rule set.  After nearly two years of playtesting he's the first to bring up a fundamental flaw in the die rolling and the we have appropriated 3d6 in place of the d20.  As a result I've had to do some major math-wizardry by taking an existing option for Titanic PCs and and applying it unilaterally and seeing the consequences.  This entails rewriting a lot of formulas, retooling a number of basic combat mechanics and a grand sweeping change to Saving Throws.  That is why the post on Initiative has been delayed, but fortunately Armor has been spared and will remain the same.  The downside is that PC's are now universally a cut above the common man, on the brightside the PC's are now rockstars.

As a result I've also become a secret member of the d12 cult.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Playtest Report: Magical Miscreants & The Curse of the Elf Whisper Part 3

Artwork from Dungeon Adventure Elf Whisper
Titanic Wizard Battles to follow.

We returned for the final segment of the adventure as the PC's were conversing with the Three Elven Sisters of Illumenine.  Not quite trusting what they were up to or believing that Illumenine was the one responsible for Ygwannach the following happened:

Lance:  "I cast Damning Silence after her last statement."
DM:  "The sisters glare at you but make no noise."
Aldehyde: "Hell with this I think we found the real culprits.  Blood for the Blood God!"
DM: "Your surprise attack (and subsequent critical) nearly slays one of the sisters.
Completely aghast the illusion on the other two fades away, the bodies of elder hags are revealed misshapen and foul, their mouths are frozen in agony but no sound yet escapes.  Between them they clutch a giant glass eye that seems to resonate with Lances Amulet."
Aldehyde: "If I play a Beholder will I find them beautiful?"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Playtest Report: Magical Miscreants & The Curse of the Elf Whisper Part 2

by David McClellan
Party returns to town and with their downtime level-up.
Acquire/rediscover some new spells, and experiment with a new school of magic.
Level-up took 10 minutes, mostly spell selection.
Keith Zone hauls Mario Navarro to the authorities, will return soon.
Water Wizards recover very quickly compared to ordinary mortals.

Party returns to bog.  
Encounter Morgo the Hillgiant guarding his three elven brides in the mud-bungalow.
Regret leaving behind Keith Zone, he would smoothly deal with this situation.
Lance notices Morgo's weird eye amulet, chooses not to vaporize it in the pursuit of science.
Morgo hurls boulders at party
Party avoids being squished.
Aldehyde casts Chiseled Champion on Morgo's next boulder.  Rolls out of his hands and clunks him over the top of the head.
Party takes advantage of Morgo's vision clouded by canaries.
Morgo tramples party, Lance chooses to get out of the way.  Aldehyde goes for the gold and cuts him down while getting stomped on.
Lance takes weird eye amulet around Morgo's neck.
Does not wear it (Drat!)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Excerpt Armor: Descending Armor Class


Since I'm getting pretty close to a stable release it is time I start posting more excerpts.  Armor factored pretty decently into the last few posts on proficiencies so let's continue with that.

Here's how I handle Armor.  I use a similar system from the past that has been cut down, renewed, rewritten, retooled until eventually I found myself returning to Descending Armor Class.  Ol' Faithful.  Of course this has a twist.  I still use Armor as a way to reduce damage, now how do we reconcile that with descending Armor Class if lower is better?

Playtest Report: Magical Miscreants & The Curse of the Elf Whisper

Princess Mononoke

Party of traveling Wizards including one drunken monk and one battle mage approach sleepy town in pursuit of known bandit Mario Navarro.  500GP reward, will let them live the high life for a long time.
Sleepy town not so sleepy.  Probably cursed.  Local bard is crazy and crying constantly at the bar.
Drinks ruined by tears party decides to end the curse, first step investigate all these Elf Ghosts Song and Dance the bard won't stop blubbering about.
Find Keith Zone, local bounty hunter and woodsman.
Finding him so smooth the party cannot help but recruit him.  Kick crazy Bard out of party.
Bard invisibly follows party.  Party not perceptive enough to notice constant invisible weeping.
Party ambushed by Navarro's bandits.
Party remember bounty notice.  Party out for weregild.
New Ranged combat proceeds smoothly.  Party still pincushioned.  Lance glad he took a shield.  Drunken Monks lack of armor clearly shows.
Party clear cuts bandits.  Navarro was not present.  Party commandeers bandit horses and rides east. 
Party gets caught in Ettercap nest.  Horses in web, party deals with poison (successfully). 
One evil-spiderman bewitched into seeing its greatest fear, a giant moa, flees.
Too close for spells, switching to spears.
Keith Zone kills the remaining ettercap.  
Party remounts and finds Pixie groves.  Deals with Pixie nonsense.  Answers riddle and receives Ring of Swimming.  
Puzzled DM doubtful this Ring will ever see use.
Pixies direct them to bandit camp.  Tells them to avoid the bog, scarred man was lost there.
A clue for Navarro!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dungeons & Drawings Artbook

I received my copy of Joe Sparrows and Blanca Martinez first art book just recently after a short hop across the pond.  The two of them write and draw for Dungeons & Drawings one of my favorite blogs.  Their speciality is going through the various Monster Manuals and reinterpreting various creatures in new and exciting ways.  Take a look, there's plenty to love.  Especially Mecha Crabzilla

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Proficiencies in my game: Fighter Archetype

Warrior of Light by BaiHu27
Alright, after two posts examining proficiencies it's time to propose a solution.  A quick recap:
  1. Character Creation shouldn't determine the only weapons you wield in your career. 
  2. While the Fighter may share proficiencies he is still the best at wielding weapons.
  3. Not only can the Fighter wear heavy armor but he is still capable of quick movements

Taking that altogether here is the base Fighter Archetype I use in my games.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Proficiencies: Final Fantasy

One thing I always liked was the portrayal of the Fighter in the original Final Fantasy.   He was a master of all arms and armor, he hit the hardest using the best weapons and could take as much as he could dish out wearing the thickest of armor.  This is never quite realized in D&D in my opinion.  Let's take a look at 3rd edition with allows for broad weapon and armor categories.  Sure the fighter classes can wear all armor and use all non-exotic weapons but it's really not that big a boon.  You might have a slightly larger die (d8 vs d6) comparing your martial weapon to a simple weapon (the elimination of speed factor is one less variable to differentiate between the two groups but that's worthy of its own post) and you're armor might provide you a marginally higher armor class (Heavy Range +5 to +8 VS Light +2 to +4) at the cost of seriously slowing you down and giving you tremendous penalties to useful skills.  That's before we get into the overly economic mithral chain shirt which eclipses most heavy armor provided you have a bit of dex and enough coin to buy Full Plate.  The point is, being trained to use better weapons and armor isn't much of a feature if the weapons and armor aren't markedly better.  Let's take a look at the original Final Fantasy a direct descendent of D&D.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Proficiencies: Baldur's Gate

When I first started this I never expected I'd make it to 100 posts (and I passed it a while ago).  I started this blog as a way to bounce ideas around, to get a better idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to implement them.  Plus, I needed to start writing again because if I wanted to put together a book I better return to my eloquent ways.  That said this is a post I've been working on for a while.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Playtest Update: Tammeraut's Fate 1.3 Conclusion

Zombie poster by Jeff Proctor distributed by Mondo/Alamo Drafthouse

We began the session with the PC's fortifying Firewatchkeep.  Due to their candy filled coma the DM had to provide a lot of suggestions on areas where it might help to barricade, areas to destroy or objects to move for the impending zombie apocalypse.  In the end the the PC's with ranged abilities (Streetshark and Quickman) would hole up on the second floor and guard the only entrance to the arrow slit room where the Priestess, infected NPC's and the remaining PC Brock Sampson, incredible bodyguard that he is, would be holed up. The two PC's upstairs barricaded one door, applied Salve of Slipperiness on the only staircase leading up and took up vantage points to see anyone entering from the North or South.  They then took note of what Scrolls they happened upon during their initial search.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Playtest Update: Tammeraut's Fate 1.2

I mentioned before my love of the death-exploration-reset cycle in Dark Souls.  One of the major stopping points for incorporating this fully into your home game is that it doesn't make sense unless your game takes place in a dimensionally fragmented world and the player's are undead.  So then I thought to myself, why not make these Halloween hoodlums undead?  The conclusion to this adventure just got a lot more intriguing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Playtest Update: Tammeraut's Fate 1.1

Taking a break from the parties Wizfest debaucheries while hunting down a way to break the Elfwhisper Curse I'm running a special Halloween game this week. The adventure in question is Tammeraut's Fate appearing in this issue of Dungeon.  I wanted to run a zombie themed adventure to test out mob tactics, two-weapon fighting, wound recovery, missile combat and a few classes that haven't been playtested since they went through a major revision in February of this year. Tammeraut's fate just so happens to involve my favorite zombie scenario.  A hapless group of adventurers stranded on an island who must survive the night. This time though instead of mindless zombies the adventure provides Drowned Dead, intelligent former Scarlett Brotherhood with a hivemind and life sense. You can run my friends but you can't hide. The finale has the zombies attack in waves but since my system makes the characters a little more robust encounter-to-encounter due to some Hit Dice Witchcraft I've decided to change it up a bit.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dark Souls: Sin and Punishment

To cap off this series I want to examine something that has been cropping up in the electronic medium for many years but has been a core aspect of tabletop RPG's since their inception.  Player agency as determined by choices and consequences, or in Dark Souls' case: Sin and Punishment.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points Part 3

After we had converted to 3d6 D&D completely I had an idea in my head that I wanted to tinker with.  Using the previous system of rolling Hit Dice at every encounter instead of adding HP together each Hit Die would be recorded separately in your HP.  This means that with your 3 HD as a third level character if you were to roll 3, 5 and 2 you would record 3, 5 and 2 as your HP.  Seem strange or have you already figured it out?  You see by recording them separately when dealing damage you can treat each individual HD as a buffer protecting your life.  This means that if your opponent roll a 4 for damage, you the defender then assign that damage to one of your Hit Dice; should it be lower than that Hit Dice it bounces off ineffectually as you duck out of the way, if instead it is greater then the Hit Die is defeated and removed.  When you run out of Hit Dice you'll land yourself on Death's Doormat shortly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points Part 2

"He who values his life dies a dog's death"

One of the driving reasons behind altering HP is the attitude I often see in players who have achieved a certain level.  Were I to tell them for their heinous crimes that the guard has been dispatched to arrest them the response I would ordinarily get is "So what?"  Rightfully so, a 5th level fighter is rather adept at dispatching some common guards who on all accounts should be no more than 2nd level.  Throwing more guards at him won't exactly solve the problem if his AC is sufficiently good.  I'm a big proponent against level inflation so I have zero desire to start ratcheting up the levels of guardsman.  While I'm not a big fan of the Eberron setting I did highly appreciate the idea that the only high level characters left, besides a few monarchs were the PC's.  With no one else around it falls on the PC's the shake up the kingdom, dispatch some monsters and save the world.  For that reason I cannot in good conscious merely amp up the level of the town guard to be on par with the PC, it would be unfair to the heroic genre and the goals of fantasy gaming.  Incendiary opinions aside rather than hand-wave it away by saying the guards superior numbers take this vagrant down I would like for there to options in the mechanics to accomplish this.  Either by combat tactics (flanking/surrounded) or a change in the foundation of Hit Points.  Why not both?

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points

Boromir's Last Stand by Deligaris

A while back in my Dark Souls series I promised a post on how I handled Hit Points nowadays.  The system is pretty revolutionary {ugh buzzwords are flowing into my vocabulary too often nowadays} compared to what we're used to and the idea just kind of hit me one day.  Before I get into that though I want to discuss conceptually how one would get to this system, odd as it may be, and the influences that lead me to this system.  As you can surmise Dark Souls certainly influenced a lot of my later redesign goals and it's approach to difficulty and lethality has granted a new perspective both to how I run games and now how I design them.  I've come to appreciate death as the ultimate teacher and while "It Gets Worse" is a staple of mine there are times where I've let the dice lie and dealt out uncaring justice towards poorly thought out actions.  Although most of the time though I prefer the gentler approach.  Still when it comes to willful ignorance and devil-may-care recklessness I prefer the give-and-take lethality present in the Witcher games which values preparedness and research above all.  A Witcher without his potions or his knowledge aberration anatomy makes for a poor monster slayer indeed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

R&D Update: Elementalism Part 2

This playtest was particularly useful because it allowed a chance to try out a key battlefield provision that would keep yonder geomancers from planting roots.  In this system they were encouraged to move to the last place they made use of an elemental effect to allow them access to more powerful arts.  This playtest is hot on the heels of a proof test tiered requirements which supersedes communal mana which in turn displaced personal pools a long long time ago.  The problems with communal mana came into effect where geomancers of the same element tried to use an ability which would steal mana out of the communal pool, thus screwing over whoever went second.  Not to mention high level arts wouldn't get used which runs counter to the idea that two elementalists surging forth with mana would cause a destabilization rather than a neutralized zone; think hurricane vs eye of the storm.  Unintentional hurricanes add mental limits to players who are not keen on destroying the surrounding countryside (or themselves.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Temple of Elemental Evil: Recap 2.5 TPK Vengeance

Brace yourself this will be the longest recap yet for quite an exciting session.  The PC's tested their luck one time too many and death was in hot pursuit.
Large Fire Elemental by Julie Guthrie

We resumed our elemental gallivanting with all players in tow.  We picked up after the eerie green wind ghost was put to rest but before the player's could catch their breath another green glow lit the room. Fortunately this time it was their longtime companion Drake Phoenixbreath back from the dead.  His flames had become corrupted through his cycling demise at the hands of his former partner Nigel in the Fire Temples Alter.  His self-sacrifice on the Salamander altar pushed him over the edge and now his phoenix flames burned an eerie green (the player opted for a Low Essence of Hi/Lo fame which alters his personal element and Origin of Fire.).  Reunited once more the players decided what to do, princess Tilahi after hearing of her beloved Prince last seen on level 3 of this elemental hell-hole was dedicated to pressing onward rather than escaping.  With poem in hand the players thought it best they start rounding up elemental gems (in the original module the gems are all stored in nodes but throughout this campaign they have already been reclaimed or found).  They headed towards the fire temple who they knew were in possession of the fire gem and as an added bonus Nigel would be there and in possession of the Water gem which he had used to devastating effect on the party earlier.  In addition, Romaag High Priest of the Earth Temple sent them on a mission to kill two high ranking fire cultists who were stealing his followers; after he found out about the Salamander incident he instructed them to kill the High Priest of Fire Alvarnon as well.

R&D Update: Elementalism

Well things have finally settled down to manageable near-crazy levels so I should be able to keep a regular posting schedule.  Plus this weeks upcoming dog sitting will keep me chained to the keyboard.  With that said I can't help but notice it's already October 21st.  My original plan was to have a prototype rule set ready by the end of October.  Of course this isn't the first time I've made such claims but I'm feeling pretty fruitful and since I have a major life/career change on the horizon I'd like to at least publish before I'm potentially overseas for a few years.  So, two weeks left; I could strip a lot and put out something bare bones and serviceable; but like a typical engineer I'd rather just let this one run over budget and sink more time into it.  More time, of course means more playtesting.  Speaking of which:

This playtest gave me a chance to try out two competing resolution system for Channeling the Elements and Unleashing their Fury.  This scenario and it's repetitions took a party of three geomancers, Terra the Teraformer, Frosty the Snowmage and Dr. Witcher M.D.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem is a series I've held near and dear to my heart ever since it's North American debut with Fire Emblem (Rekka no Ken / Blazing Sword).  My interest in the series was piqued with the character cameos in Smash Bros and the corresponding trophies that hinted at what the game was about.  I had completely missed out on the Shining Force series back on the Sega Genesis so this was entirely new territory for me; a strategy game that was turn based and didn't involve space marines, how exciting!  The games highlights are challenging fights, permanent death for allies, a small band of rebels skirting around overwhelming forces until they can eventually muster victory, a human-only setting (with the occasional undead mixed in), character hair colored with shades of the rainbow, accursed random number generator and random level-ups for one's stats, usually a horrible evil dragon waiting at the end, and the eponymous Fire Emblem.  It's a fun series and definitely worth a look.  A good place to start would be the aforementioned Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance or Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on the Nintendo DS as your first forays.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I've had some medical issues crop up with a family member so I'm going to have to take a break from blogging for a while.  Rest assured I will return as I always have plenty to say.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 28: Character you will never play again

A character in 4th edition.  I've played and ran a few times, one game in particular went from level 1-30 and after that I simply have no more desire to play another character again.  This goes back to the problem I have with the edition where an overwhelming sense of sameness, a lack of mechanical differentiation between classes and significant distinction between archetypes.  The degree of separation between a class or even an archetype was so minimal that after playing one striker I had no desire to play another striker.  Instead playing two completely different archetypes I soon realized that I was running in the same hamster wheel.  So while I appreciate the art direction, Death & Dying mechanics and some of the interesting ploys they had given monsters I'm afraid I have no desire to play a character in that edition again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 28: Future Characters

A designer at heart I don't think of playing a new character so to speak but in the future but whenever I see a new class or game system I am excited to give the class or archetype a try.  Rather than try to find a class to fit my concept I prefer to find a class and build a character concept around it.  Playing a new class is getting a chance to try another creative expression the designer advocated in their system and playing it is the best way to appreciate the strengths and flaws in their design.  It is also the best way to learn to improve upon your own design.  So I'll list a few classes that have piqued my interest but I have not gotten around to playing because nearly all my time is spent behind the screen.

OSR Retroclone
Labyrinth Lord AEC

Monk, just the simple fact that the monk can be quite capable with a melee weapon as he can be with his fists is very appealing to me.  As an avid lover of kungfu flicks I've never actually played a martial-artist but this particular rendition of the Monk would be where I start.  Out of all the editions this is my favorite version of the monk.

Of course the next OSR game I run will likely include Dyson's d12 Subclasses

Thursday, September 26, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 26: Favorite Non-Magic Item

The best 10GP I ever spent.
A small steel mirror.  What better way to detect vampires, peek around corners unnoticed and appear entirely dapper?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 25: Favorite Magical Item

Cloak of Displacement
Taken from one of the coolest of monsters the Displacer Cloak provides the same bonus this monstrous feline receives.  Your image is projected a few feet in another direction.  In game mechanics terms it usually equates to a 20/50% miss chance either via Percentiles or some nebulous dodge bonus.  I'm not a super big fan of that so I say let's spruce it up a bit.  The way I"ve always interpreted it is that you're image is projected a few feet in another direction and that you yourself are essentially invisible.  I've heard other interpretations which treat it similar to Mirror Image but we'll stick with the first for now.  Naturally anyone taking a wide swing will likely hit both you and your image, however a thrusting weapon is pretty much guaranteed to miss you.  Most 1-handed non-thrusting weapons do not move in wide sweeping arcs often without leaving one vulnerable so we can throw those in the miss category as well.  Until the foe figures out the illusion you are only hit by two-handed slashing &/or Impact weapons.  For those unfamiliar I've categorized all weapon types as either Impact, Thrusting or Slashing (The rules for these damage types as well as the rules for Wounds have changed drastically since then, I'll be putting that to paper soon).  Impact includes Maces, Hammers and even Axes.

As an avowed lover of Scarves the Displacer Cloak would make for a wonderful life saving red-scarf as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 24 Favorite Energ--Really?

I'm beginning to regret not looking at all the days before accepting this challenge.

R&D Update

Dev Diary:
Got plenty of playtesting done today.  Got a lot of experience working with Surprise Rounds, Flat-footed and Flanking and plenty of me forgetting attack bonuses for different weapons, a rather essential change from the last revision.  Fixed plenty of little nuances in game language that otherwise I would not have predicted without running head first into them during playtesting.  The biggest triumph has been a recent overhaul of the weapon type system which is speeding up combat and removing a few hard to remember effects which, while realistic, impeded the flow of play.  I'm satisfied with their more streamlined counterparts although more tweaking may be necessary.

I'm sincerely glad I've taken the modular approach and many layers of complexity can be removed without harm.  Running a few NPC's in addition to the hordes of enemies the player's face is a daunting challenge.  I get the impression that if you have only character to worry about the amount of depth is not overwhelming but we'll see with further play testing.  At the moment the game is very robust before taking on Class features or any sort of character customization.  It's shaping up to be something greater than I imagined.

Still further refinement and pruning is necessary, back to the old grindstone.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dark Souls: Spells and Atunement

This is where Dark Souls presents a very elegant solution to the 5 minute work day while still preserving the feel of Vancian magic.  Spells are attuned to slots, some spells are quite powerful and require 2 slots which is consistent with the description set by Mazirian and Turjan.  The number of slots you can hold is dictated by your attunement stat, a stat that exists purely for more slots and thus more chances to cast spells, it is a replacement for MP that its predecessor and a number of other games have used.  It should be noted that attunement slots can be used for any combination of sorceries (arcane), miracles (divine), or pyromancy (once more fire is given its own special place in the game). 

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 23 Least Favorite Monster

The Mummy is a classic horror monster.  Yet he is my least used monster in D&D.  I never find the Mummy to be particularly frightening in any way shape or form.  He's a slow moving fellow that you simply, well, outrun-or outwalk.  Now the recent Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser were pretty good at making the Mummy a believable enemy but for the most part as a PC I simply can't find the idea of a group of mummys threatening.
Sure Mummy Rot is pretty lousy but, just don't get hit.  Just, walk around the barely ambulating set-piece.  I suppose the concept of the Mummy requires a location that allows him to tirelessly chase you down, with his near invulnerability to weapons.  The idea of being chased by a creature that can not be hurt is pretty frightening but I find the Mummy in D&D terms to be severely underwhelming in this regard.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 22: Favorite Monster Overall

My favorite monster is certainly a lesser known one.  As you may have guessed from previous entries regarding my bird-brained exploits in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by mutant birdmen I happen to enjoy crazy bird men.  The Aarakocra were right at the start of the AD&D monster manual and that is where they first caught my eye.  It's a wonder they are even in there, if you look at their ecology they try to avoid all human contact.  They are recluse and rarely leaving their hunting grounds.  That is what makes them perfect for any adventure, deep in the mountains where the PC's are lost, beaten battered and broken when they wander into a new civilization.  Formerly unknown to the world these creatures will allow them to nurse their wounds, perhaps even guide them through the treacherous passes.  Who knows, perhaps the PCs can help them with their Dragon problem as of late.

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 21 Favorite Dragon

Ever since I went wandering through the various Monster Manuals and Compendiums I always found the idea of Gem Dragons very intriguing.  They were alien, inscrutable and barely similar at all to their chromatic counterparts.  Most of all they were neutral, neither interfering goodies like the metallics or ruin-everything chromatics.  That's what I like in a Dragon, ancient, hard to grasp, does not deign to intercede but anyone that interferes in their domain will receive harsh punishment.  I'm not too keen on the Psionics angle, or that all Dragons are spellcasters for that matter but I can roll with it.  In fact, Dragon's mind stomping lesser races works out pretty well for a campaign that involves Giant Lizards sitting on thrones.
Sapphire Dragon by Brass Dragon

As many of my early campaigns involves wandering around the underdark and kicking the butt of numerous drow I rather admired the Sapphire Dragon.  They made their lair underground and had an extreme aversion towards the underdark denizens, even waging war on any that entered their domain.  As a young lad who read his fair share of DragonLance I decided that were I to ever partner up with a Dragon in my crusade against the never-ending onslaught of white haired spider kissers, it would be a Sapphire Dragon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge: Catchup Day 15-20

 Lots of monster categories and favorites to go through.  The lack of Giant or Golem category is fairly disappointing as both of these iconic D&D monsters have plenty of variations to argue over.   Since I have another wedding this weekend I'll be posting Day 20 a day early as well.

Previous entries can be found here:

30 Days of D&D Challenge: Catchup Day 11-14

Ho boy have I fallen behind.  Turns out a transition between careers takes up quite a bit of time and September it seems is a month full of weddings.  Well, no time to tarry let's see how many days we can get through.

Day 11  Favorite Adventure You Have Ran
If we're talking stand alone module then look no further than my player's ongoing expeditions in the Temple of Elemental Evil.

If we're talking a single adventure not meant to be the focus of the campaign I can think of one in particular from Issue 108 of Paizo's Dungeon.  "30 Feet of Demonic Danger: Take on the Iron Satyr"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge: Day 10

Can be found here:

The Man Who Ate a Phoenix

In short, when I put the player in a situation after we returned from hiatus, the best solution he had was to sacrifice himself on the alter he was currently being sacrificed on.  Last minute flipping the bird payed off in stunning dividends and left me scrambling on how to handle this unexpected turn of events.  In the short term it decimated the fire cultist population and sent the leader hiding in his hole.  In the long term it meant the Earth Temple was going to seize this opportunity to wipe out fire for good.  Also in the short term, the PC's had some vengeful fire salamanders to deal with.

Monday, September 9, 2013

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 9: Favorite Character You Haven't Played

Day 8: Favorite Character You Have Played
Day 7: Favorite Edition
Day 6: Favorite Deity

When I was growing up I'd spent a lot of summers at my Aunt and Uncles house and a lot of time breaking in the Sega Genesis they picked up at a yard sale.  One of the games in the library was Phantasy Star III, Generations of Doom.  I've often hear it is the most hated of classic Phantasy Star games but I'm always been baffled as to why.  As a kid I loved it, playing the originally three today I still love it.  Nothing quite beats an opening where you the young prince has his bride to be stolen by a racist dragon.  The kidnapping mirrors history as you go on a quest to save her, find love and unravel the true story of your ancestors and lastly get married.  When you finally do, you play as your kids, and then their kids.  Generations of Doom.

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 8: Favorite Character You Have Played

The first character that comes to mind I'll be saving for the ninth day because I love that character but was not able to play him to his full potential.  So instead I'm going to talk about my bird-brained, intimidating, half-crazed, mana-spewing Kenku Tobias Fanuilh.

30 Days of D&D Challenge Day 7: Favorite Edition

This is certainly a tough one, I started off with OD&D but missed most of the fun bits, races as class especially.  I spent most of my youth playing AD&D and has a fun romp of campaigns but I felt the rules were rather restrictive, although I was one player that didn't mind tithing.