Archive for October 2009

Terrain Features, Part II

Was in the middle of a post on Multiclassing/Hybrid mechanics and thought of some more terrain effects. Some of these terrain effects can get pretty complicated, and in general are things that on the fly I'd only normally think of if a player brought them to my attention. Not wanting to stir the shitpot on "D&D being too anime," but some of these came to mind while watching Fullmetal Alchemist.

Mud: Difficult terrain, and also increases most forced movement effects by 1 (DM discretion, would limit to effects that knock someone around as opposed to taking control of their movement). Mud can be frozen with a cold attack, in which case it only adds forced movement distance, and running might call for an Acrobatics check to avoid falling prone.

Rain: Rainy areas impose an attack penalty to effects with the fire keyword, and creatures gain a +1 bonus on saves against ongoing fire damage. Attacks with the cold keyword also slow a creature for a round if they do not already. Heavy rain might grant a minor amount of fire resistance.

Pillars: I'd talked about pillars before, but I was thinking about allowing characters that can make multiple attacks actually attack pillars in order to knock them on an opponent. Like, slicing through one at such an angle as to cause it to fall on them. This is another option in addition to the normal pushing them over thing and also gives martial characters some more stuff to do with terrain.

Pools: Another one that I'd mentioned before, you can freeze them to slow/immobilize targets. Something else I thought of is hitting them with a fire attack, which creates a zone of fog that grants concealment for a round.

Snow: Grants fire resistance and/or cold vulnerability. Also, could have a staggering kicker effect where an effect that slows instead immobilizes, and if it immobilizes instead restrains.
October 30, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Songs of Erui: Mappage

Made by Elminster (one of the contributors). In case my players are wondering what Erui looks like, there ya go. Just need to add in names and stuff, we're done!
Posted by David Guyll

Dragon Age: Combat Screens

I have some action-oriented screen shots to bestow. Behold!

I got a lot more, but I dont want to flood the page with pictures. know, be sated by them.
October 29, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Multiclassing vs. Hybrid Classes, Part I

Multiclassing in 4th Edition has gotten a lot of flak since the specific mechanics were introduced a short time prior to the game's release, probably because it functions nothing like it did in the past, excepting that it lets you pilfer abilities from a class other than the one you started with. Some people think that it sucks just because of this, while others get all butt-hurt because they think that either: A) multiclassing feats suck too much to be worth the effort, or B) that it just doesnt let you spread yourself out thin enough.

In general I don't think that is a bad thing. In fact, I like it more than before since it makes more sense when you stop and think about it.

Huh?? Yeah. WHA?? Uh-huh! Explanations abound!

In 3rd Edition class wasn't a hardwired option for you, as it was really a point based system masquerading as a class based game for the sake of tradition. At any point in your character's career, you could opt to pick any class you wanted to when you leveled. ANY. You could start as a fighter and then take a level in wizard, rogue, dread Necromancer, totemist, whatever the fuck you wanted. I'm not going to go into the logistics behind this, but suffice to say that problems would ensue depending on what you did since many classes had abilities that scaled by level. For example, there was little point in multiclassing into wizard for only a level or two since the more levels you got the shittier those spells were.

In a nutshell, abilities and features tied to a specific class's level do not work when you can freely pull levels from multiple sources on a whim. Well, they work so long as you never stray from the class they are tied to.

The other flaw isn't really mechanical but...not...mechanical...? Er, it arises when you consider the game narrative/consistency. What I mean by this is lets say that you started out the game as a wizard. You're proficient with only a couple simple weapons and no armor of any sort. You go adventuring for a bit, perhaps a few days, and gain a level. Usually you'd just take wizard again so that you get more spells, but you could instead take a level in another class. Lets say...fighter. Since you gain all the class features, proficiencies, and class skills of the class, your wizard can now use all simple and martial weapons, as well as all forms of armor without any penalty whatsoever (except for spell failure, that is). Make sense? Yeah, I thought not.

For better or for worse, 4th Edition does not roll that way.

Multiclassing in 4E is a mechanical option that lets you acquire powers and/or class features from a class other than the one you started as by expending feats, but you have to burn a feat each for encounter powers, daily powers, and utility powers. What this means is that you end up "dabbling" in another class. Using the above example you dont gain a level and spontaneously gain a mastery of all cantrips and low-level magic, you instead pick up a single spell and also a fundamental understanding of arcane magic and shit. As you get higher level you can gradually pick up more and more spells at the expense of learning whatever the hell it was you were doing with your actual class.

The best part is that its considerably easier to ensure that your attacks are effective since A) attack bonuses scale by level, not by class, and B) powers also scale and you can swap them out as you progress. So, no having to fall back on magic missile at epic tier. The only drawback that I've encountered is that the ability score used doesnt change, so in some cases you might have to stretch your ability scores a bit in order to make it work.

As far as feats go, the opening multiclassing feats are actually quite good for what they provide, which is basically Skill Training plus something else. Generally if I want to pick up Skill Training I end up browsing the list of MC feats to see if one will give me the skill I want. Past that things get a bit trickier because you have to burn a feat each if you want to swap out encounter, daily, and utility powers. I think people get hung up on this "feat tax".

On one hand I want to say that it does seem a bit much since you are just swapping things (and therefore gaining nothing), but on the other hand you get twice as many feats as you did in other editions and its not like any particular feats are necessary to survive. Plus, you can always paragon multiclass and not pay anything at all for your troubles. Or both. Whatever.

Actually, what I would like to see are multiclass combination feats that let some races get extra benefits when they multiclass in a thematic combination, kind of like how tieflings got that infernal captain thing going on, just not as shitty (warlords and Con-based warlocks dont really mix).

From a narrative stance this method shines since you dont get an entire class's suite of stuff, just a trick or two. It makes so much more sense that the Fighter was able to pick up a spell by "reading over a Wizard's shoulder", instead of somehow mastering them all in a fraction of the time it took the wizard to do so.

I'm not an optimizer in the sense that I methodically construct characters, mapping them out in intricate detail throughout all 30 levels. Mainly I think of a concept and just roll from there, preferring to take the "organic" approach and pick new options as I actively play the character and see how it grows. Usually the starting concept is a logical one, such as a Warforged Fighter or Longtooth Shifter Barbarian. Sometimes its a bit more unorthodox, like a Gnoll Monk or Gnome Barbarian. Depends on if the concept looks cool in my head.

The entire process goes like this, I pick a race like...minotaur, and mash it with a class like, say...rogue? Well they're strong so I'll go with the brute scoundrel class feature and try and pick powers that emphasize mobility and forced movement. Is this ideal? I dunno, just sounds cool to me. I then go through the motions picking feats and powers that work with the concept. They may not be the most optimal, but they're the ones that fit the theme that I'm aiming for.

Multiclassing can help with this conceptual phase quite a bit, and I dont have to worry about it crippling me in the process. I made a Minotaur Tactical Warlord/Artificer that was based on the idea that he was a general during the Last War and got hit by a particularly nasty living fireball, which caused him to lose his arm. He got a mechanical replacement, and decided to learn how to maintain it himself. This concept was made functional because of how multiclassing works in this edition. In 3rd Edition it would have made for a very sub-par character since my Artificer infusions would have gradually depreciated (and my attack bonus would have sucked ass, making for a very piss-poor Fighter...which is saying a lot since 3E Fighters were always piss-poor).

So thats my opinion of multiclassing. It works out alright from a mechanical and narrative perspective, perhaps better on the latter. I think a good "fix" would be to make racial feats that make it easier to pick up powers from thematic classes (like eladrin multiclassing into wizards, elves into ranger, etc). Maybe a feat that lets you use another ability score for attacks instead of the original one? Dunno. Really though I'm content with it as is since for me multiclassing is an option to assist me in realizing a concept, nothing something I utilize for min/maxing purposes.

Next up, hybrid classes.
October 28, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Savage Encounters Preview

I'd be a bit more surprised/excited about previews for the newest DDM set if DDM Spoilers hadnt spoiled it quite some time ago. Like, awhile ago. I forgot how long they've had images of every damned mini on their site. Hell, they've got some theories for the next one if you want to get a real preview. To keep this post short, the dragon and sorrowsworn look good, the lil' green goblin looks like lil' green shit.
October 25, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Wizard Essentials

I'm a big fan of the wizard class, even if mostly in theory. My only stint with 4E wizards was a fire-themed tiefling summoner in a short-lived Scales of War campaign. I enjoyed the fact that I could specialize in a specific energy without gimping myself in case we ran into one of a million fire-themed baddies, but I also liked being able to be a wizard all day without also serving as the naptime indicator. Win-win for all.

This first half of Wizard Essentials mainly condenses basic class information from Player's Handbook and Arcane Power, allowing a new or initiate wizard player to have the basics all in one spot (and I suppose to also help pimp AP in case you didnt already own it).
  • It starts with class features, going into brief detail on the individual cantrips (such as non-combat uses).
  • Implements just talks about each implement and power selection to go with. There's also a table of race/implement match ups at the end.
  • Ability scores doesnt tell you anything that a cursory examination of the actual implement sections wouldnt, but I guess its nifty to have it all in one place.
Again, nothing you couldnt figure out on your own. Basic, but good for players that want to get quick information on wizards without having to hit the (physical) books. If you already play wizards then you arent going to get shit from this first half. However, everyone wins with the second part.

There are nine feats, with four heroic and five paragon. There's no particular theme here: Far Spell extends ranged and area bursts, Immolate the Masses grants temp hp when you drop minions, Lightning Transport lets you teleport when you kill something with a lightning spell, etc.
I particularly like Bitter Cold and Acid Splash as benchmarks for making feats that play up to energy specialization. The former adds a kicker effects if you hit while the latter deals a minor amount of damage if you miss. I'm a fan of thematic characters, and whenever I make a wizard I tend to stick with an energy type (like fire).
Frankly, I think that there should also be a feat that deals damage if you miss with a fire effect. :-P

There's also an assortment of new spells, including another at-will attack (in case you thought that the current nine just werent cutting it). Many of them require that you are using a specific implement, which I like since it plays up the fact that wizards really care about what sort of tool they are using (like fighters). In fact, why not make spells that get extra benefits if you are using a specific implement? I think my fav is tome of transposition, which lets you use another daily of equal level or lower thats in your spellbook and use it if you miss.

It wraps up with a paragon path specifically for tome users. You get bonuses to rituals, can daze enemies with action points and crits, and the level 20 daily sucks the critter into your book so they can sit out for a bit.

So, good for everyone. If you dont know about wizards, its a crash course on wizardry along with some new shit. If you already know what they are all about, shit. Enjoy.
October 24, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Dragon Age: Oghren Trailer

Oghren is a dwarf. He likes to drink and fight, which is par for the course when it comes to dwarves and dwarfyness.

Umm...not much else to say.
Posted by David Guyll

Den of the Slave Takers Review

The second adventure for Chaos Scar is out. The backstory to Den of the Slavetakers is pretty confusing: you have gnoll slaver(s) that are actually using their slaves for "death rituals" whatever a botched witherling is instead of selling them, a halfling packing a meteor shard that is using it to create fucked up homunculi (for some reason), and myconids that are being drawn to the shard and want to take it and destroy it...I guess. I mean, they're taking their time on it, to be sure, but they'll get around to it when the plot calls for it. Or not. I dunno.


The default hooks are either going into the Chaos Scar to rescue captured halflings and/or being hired by a temple of Avandra to bust up Torog's cult. Simple and straightforward, which is fine considering that the encounter composition is batshit random. There's just no theme or sense of consistency going on here.

First, there arent gnoll slavers, there's just one gnoll with one arm. He fancies himself the Hand of Torog, and spends his time playing watchdog during religious ceremonies (that are held I have no fucking idea where) instead of actually participating. Actually, he gets to play watchdog with a mutated arbalester that is kept chained up for no reason that is made apparent.

Second, the map looks pretty artificial, which normally wouldnt be a problem except that I dont know if its supposed to seem that way. From what I gather, its "naturally formed"...with thin walls, level floors, stairs (of all things), and doors. If its worked, I want to know how, since halfling and gnolls arent exactly known for their masonry.

See, I dont mind the squared off walls and whatnot (much easier to map by any means), its the rest of the crap that doesnt work for me. There should be more difficult terrain, uneven sections, lack of doors, and for the love of fuck where are all the slaves? Even if they're all dead, where would they keep them? There just isnt any room for them. The entire dungeon layout looks bad, reminding me of the worst aspects of Rescue at Rivenroar and/or Keep on the Shadowfell.

Finally, the end attack where all of three myconids show up to fetch the shard is also pretty damned weak. Like, a fungus tower comes crashing against the cliff, and then a trio of shrooms clamber up and...well...dont do much. I'd have liked to see the insertion of minions or something to make it seem, I dunno, grander.

Why not have the dungeon be a lost fane of Torog that was revealed after the meteor crash, seeing as he's an Underdark god and all? Actually, you could have just as easily gone with all myconids that are serving the shard (or something of a better level that also likes to live underground). What if gnolls were kidnapping people, and the party show up only to have most of the gnolls and slaves gone and discover that myconids erupted out of the dark and dragged everyone off? Could add a horror element to the adventure, and add some consistency to the plot (like, gnoll slavers...plural).

The general concept of Chaos Scar has be intrigued. Stick in the Mud really had me going. This? This grinds that interest to a halt, and drops a fucking bomb in my car. I have absolutely no interest to run this. Luckily Chaos Scar is designed to be very open ended so my players can skip it...or I can just rework it with my own ideas and call it something else entirely.
October 19, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Failed Perceptions 2

And its time for another issue of Failed Perceptions. This one was done for Wyatt, who specially requested this power. I was happy with the first panel, but then due to time constraints had to gradually rush through the last two. As a disclaimer, I think I'm pretty good at drawing, but I'm neither a professional artist nor comic art-dude.

So here's our plucky rogue, using his totally 4wesome and radical power, bloody path. His words literally bleed with conviction, and his dagger is called Pain Chain. I also found that laser-background-whoosh effect thing. You can see it now.

The boneclaw is confused cause he has Threatening Reach and didnt get to attack the rogue, and now is beginning to think that maybe he still doesnt understand the opportunity attack rules.

While bloody path is a magical compulsion that causes you to attack yourself, the boneclaw was feeling particularly emo about not getting his opportunity attack, and thought fuck it, I'll just carve out my brain and go play 3E/3.5E/3.75EPathfinder. He died because the rules dont say that undead can live without brains. Remember kids, exception-based design kills you. Kills you mega-dead.
October 17, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Dragon Age: Origins Character Builder

If you absolutely cannot wait until the game launches, you can fritter away your precious time by making characters. Not sure if characters made with the program can be ported into the actual game when/if you get it. If so, its not a complete waste of time. I spent about half an hour messing with all the sliders to see what sort of bizarre features I could "bestow" upon my horrid creations. To the game's credit, I find many of the available options to be palatable to my vision, though the hairstyles mostly fall within the range of stupid and fucking ridiculous.

While eye candy does not a good game make, as I'd feared the initial options seem much too limited for my taste. Three races, and they cannot select from all the classes? Why cant dwarves pick mage? Its just stupid and arbitrarily limiting. It feels like OD&D, and I'm none too fond of that. Hopefully the class options are diverse enough to span the gulf.
October 15, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Rust Monster Podcast

Trying out some new things to see how people receive them. First was the comic, and now you can hear me bitch about things with my first podcast evar.
Posted by David Guyll

Dragon Age: Origins Sacred Ashes Trailer

Okay, I give: my interest is finally piqued. This trailer has some pretty badass shit hitting the fan. Granted, I dont know why they are looking for a tomb, but at least something visually interesting is actually happening. Even so, its a trailer and not actual gameplay.

Not a fan of under-dressed female characters, especially when its freezing ass cold and they are scaling a mountain. Oh, and fighting monsters for a living. Just saying, I'd probably try and keep my chest protected 'cause there's important shit in there.
October 12, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Re: Re: Failed Perception

My crude visual renditions have generated a small measure of controversy. I'm also going to respond to it, since what I'm going to say here likely cannot be confined to a mere comment.

I find it odd that a blog labeling itself as a Revised Edition resurgent would pay any heed to a blog that almost universally talks about 4th Edition (I also review digital games, apparently). Buuut, he does have me on his blogroll.

First Issue
Katallos doesnt like that 4th Edition refers to each class's powers as, well, powers. Its a kind of global label that encompasses the majority of what a class offers (and what makes them unique). To him, the word power just doesnt grok with the fantasy genre. I dont really care since in the narrative people dont refer to them as such, and some classes might not refer to them by their "source name" (exploits, spells, prayers, etc).

I suppose there might be another label for this game mechanic that would work better, but I'd say this is more of a nitpick than anything: his second point is much more interesting.

Second Issue
Often I see this stated as something like, "its like mashing a couple of buttons over and over again," but I'm glad that Katallos is willing to at least make the concession that 3rd Edition had this as well. I'm just going to take it a step further and say that 3rd Edition had it a lot worse.

See, in 3rd Edition many classes, especially those without spells, were basically relegated to a routine of roll to attack, and roll to damage if you hit. Thats it. No kicker effect, few if any conditions (and those were often extremely limited), and not combat dynamics. Once you got your character in melee, be prepared to just stand there and trade blows til someone runs out of hit points. Fighters, low-level rangers, monks, paladins, and more spent almost all of their time making a nondescript attack roll over and over and over.

His complaint? That 4th Edition does basically the same thing. I would agree, except this is false. Well, I suppose its not entirely false since to be fair most of the time in combat you will be repeating one of 3-5 different things over and over. Not necessary in subsequent rounds, but I mean you'll probably end up using something like reaping strike at least twice in the same encounter. At least until you get a few levels under your belt and start getting access to multiple encounter powers. Those do a good job of reducing the time combat lasts and how many times you'll fallback on the at-will stuff.

By the rules, a 3rd Edition fighter can only make an attack roll for damage if he hits. Sure, there are a few other combat actions you can take like grapple or disarm, but those are generally incredibly difficult to reliably use, and even then you would want to burn feats to give it a snowball's chance in hell. The other stuff Katallos mentions can only be done if he takes some feats, allowing you to switch into different modes that dont do anything except subtract from his attack roll in order to increase AC or damage. In the end, he still makes an attack roll to deal basic damage. How does this compare to 4th Edition? Well...

Every fighter in 4E has at least three attack options in a given round without resorting to the use of special actions (grab, bull rush, etc) or feats. Those extra combat actions? Much more reliable and you dont have to burn a feat to avoid getting whacked for your troubles. You get two at-will powers by virtue of being alive, and you can also opt out to use a basic melee attack, which is mechanically identical to 3rd Editions melee attack except that at level 21 the damage dice are doubled (helping to keep it somewhat useful).

Again, not quite the same. At all.

He also claims that in 3rd Edition you could use description in your attacks, such as by making a jump check to leap at an opponent before attacking. You can still do this in 4th Edition with Athletics, so...I fail to see the difference. He also mentions that if he rolled well enough, he could sometimes get a damage bonus, which is a houserule and fairly abusable. By allowing a player to make a non-penalized roll to randomly determine a benefit, you have just created incentive for the player to always make the attempt because there is absolutely no drawback. Just make jump checks all the time and see if you get a little extra. Bad, baaad mechanic! *swat* It would be like letting wizards make Arcana checks to see if they can boost their spell save DC: they'd do it all the fucking time.

Going back to combat narrative, if you think that the at-will fighter exploits somehow detract from it, then just continually use melee basic attack. Its the exact same fucking thing from 3rd Edition. Not that you cant dynamically describe existing exploits in various ways. The existing flair does not discourage, but merely provides a default description that mostly helps explain how the power does what it does. Its just fluff. You can use it or invent your own. Just because they started dropping descriptions in 3rd Edition books for spells doesnt mean that I was forced to use them, just like I dont always describe monsters, magic items, equipment, or locations the way they are in the books.

Third Issue
This I can somewhat agree on, at least for new players. Yes, many powers generate conditions or modifiers. Yes, they can and do change on a round-by-round basis. I think that this adds a dynamic layer to combat that helps make it fun and interesting without overtly penalizing players for the long term with stuff like ability damage/drain and level drain. Honestly if you forget a modifier here and there (and people will do this in all games), its not going to break anything.

Out of his entire post, this is the only point that makes sense to me.

Fourth Issue
Ah, the good ol', "everyone is a spellcaster" argument. Easy-sauce.

What Wizards of the coast did is make all characters follow the same resolution mechanic. This is good for precisely the reasons that you preferred it in the past: system mastery is bad. Players should not have to become heavily invested in the game in order to "unlock" certain elements. If a player wants to play a wizard, why should it be any more difficult or convoluted than playing a fighter? If they are into fantasy and really enjoy magic, its not going to be fun if they have to memorize additional rules and resolution mechanics.

Besides, I never really liked that wizards were only wizards for an hour of each day.

I disagree on your claim that classes play the same. Having played many of the classes and seen other players try them out, I can say with confidence that even classes with the same role do not run the same way: you cannot play a fighter like you play a paladin, and you dont play a druid like you play a wizard. Hell, you dont even necessarily play a ranger the same way you play a rogue, and they are both martial strikers!

When I played a cleric, I mostly hung back and used my prayers to blast monsters and bolster my allies. When I gave the artificer a shot (another leader), I instead relied upon a combination of melee and ranged attacks to grant my allies bonuses and also create constructs and barriers. When I played a warlord, I was up in the thick of melee inspiring people and providing tactical advice. All leaders, none of them the same.

Shazbot is familiar with rangers and rogues, and he can feel free to pipe in on his experiences with both.
October 09, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Failed Perception

I will not apologize for the shitty art. Suffice to say, I drew this last night after I considered how some people h4ters perceive the usage of powers in 4th Edition. As a disclaimer, I like anime a lot.

You cant see the background laser-wooshy thing, but it was there this morning I swear.

Technically, there should be a "ka-bong" in there, since tide of iron uses a shield.

I dont know what the fuck that thing is supposed to be. An ogre, troll, or trogre. Whatever. Cue Final Fantasy victory theme of your choice. You can do a pose animation, too.

Here's some cooler art out of Primal Power to make up for it.

October 08, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Moar Dragon Age Screens and Stuff

More stuff on Dragon Age: Origins. This time its a small trailer and a trio of screens depicting an ironically slimmer version of Clotho from God of War 2. The trailer doesnt illicit an emotional response aside from, "its a fat tentacle monster with boobies." Again, nothing to say about the gameplay yet, and I'm not saying it wont be an interesting battle. I'm just trying not to get all hyped up about it until the game actually launches.

Not really sure about the graphics in this shot: the textures dont look too hot and frankly neither does she.

Worst Macaulay Culkin impression evar.

Fat and bulemic? Reminds me of an uglier (if thats possible) Allfather D'Aronique from Preacher.

So there you have it. A monster that as far as I know exists to be killed because she is ugly and I guess eats babies. Literally. I'd really prefer to see videos flaunting the character creation system and/or gameplay mechanics, personally. Maybe something on how questing works?
Posted by David Guyll

Stick in the Mud Review

I realize that when I like something, I dont use swear words nearly as much.

Stick in the Mud is the first official adventure for Chaos Scar. Its for level 1 characters, and actually wont provide enough XP to net a level (a bit over half, I think). There's only about five encounters, making it a little longer than your typical delve. All in all it has this nostalgic feel of when I played Diablo 2 and went into the Den of Evil: it was sweet, short, and I got some levels and loot for my troubles.

I'm curious if Wizards is going to go this route for all their adventures, as it seems sufficient for a night of gaming (five encounters is about what I'd expect my group to plow through given 3-4 hours time), but also has the preparation advantage since the backstory isnt super complex or necessarily linked to larger events. If you have the prep time then you as a DM could link it into future adventures or other events, but if you dont then I think its great for people without a lot of time on their hands.

There are three suggested hooks to get the players going. One is for them to retrieve a staff for an ancestor of the dude that made the keep, and another gives you a cash bounty per bullywug head (the XP reward is also boosted if you kill them all). My favorite though is the second hook where a NPC asks you to scrape mud off of them and bring it back for some kind of magical experiment.
I really like how one of the quests is that a NPC wants you to bring back mud samples taken from various bullywug types. He gives you a one time payment of 30 gp for each individual monster (croaker, mucker, twitcher, and mud lord). It'll be interesting to see how people react to this sort of immersive monster harvesting project. Also? The XP reward goes up if you collect it from all four.

Its got my interest so far, but how does the actual adventure part hold up?

The first encounter was surprisingly engaging despite its simple layout. It takes place in the ruined foundations of the keep build by the sorcerer-dude, and is a square area with lots of missing walls and debris. The missing rooms make it somewhat like a maze, which would let players use some dynamic movement and tactics. Since the outer walls are also damaged, you could approach this encounter using stealth try and net surprise, but you could also launch a pincer attack by coming in from two ways. I think that it caters to both tactical players and the ones that just want to kick in the door and start hacking...or both.

The next encounter occurs after you go underground, in a study. Its much more narrow than the ruined keep, but its underground so thats to be expected. There are a few terrain features that players can manipulate: braziers, tables, and bookshelves (oh my). The braziers can be toppled over to provide concealment, the tables can be used as cover, and the bookshelves can be...hopped onto with a...DC 20 Athletics? Whaaa?
Mind you, these shelves arent standing up, they are already knocked over. I dont know about you, but if I knock my shelves over that I could get on them extremely easily. I mean, even if I couldnt jump on top I can still fucking climb something thats barely a foot-and-a-half high. The author also makes a not to remember the -2 penalty for the mud, but I'm not sure if he's already included it or what. The old DM screen lists a level 1 hard DC as 20, but I'd say its more of a moderate thing. I would drop the DC to 15 and then up it to 17 because of the mud.

I dont want to spoil the rest of the encounters, but the author does a good job of repeating terrain features so that players can learn what to do with them in one encounter and use it in the immediate future. Also, there is a slight mix up on monsters, so its not just a repetitive grind of bullywugs. Better yet? Unlike the first Scales of War adventure the composition makes sense. He includes narrative bits for the bullywugs, such as by having them taunt players in Primordial. Its sweet, its short, and it delivers. This is bad for me since I'm on a DMing hiatus because of school, and I really want to fucking run this.

-Fin T.T
October 07, 2009
Posted by David Guyll

Dungeon: The Chaos Scar

Looks like Wizards is rolling out another campaign that is about a meteor plummeting out of the sky, destroying a large amount of real estate, and attracting lots of monsters of various level and alignment ranges (mostly Unaligned through Chaotic Evil, kplzthx).

Its more or less supposed to be player driven, heavily supporting the, "Say yes," mantra. The DM provides description and exposition, then lets the players loose to do whatever it takes to destroy the meteor. My main problem is that from what I've read, there isnt really any reason to do this. Sure, its gathering up an army worthy of Mordor, but they arent really doing anything. Mebbe its just a very proactive stance?

Adventures out of Chaos Scar as supposed to be ran with minimal prep time, which is good, but then most adventures are setup that way. Its also remote and modular enough to be dropped into any campaign, which is great for Points of Light buffs like myself. Normally I'd say tough shit to the crowd using prepublished campaigns (like myself) since you dont know how far spread its going to end up being, but the stated campaign goal is very simple and straighforward: get to the end and kill the meteor. So, hooray for Diablo 2-like simplicity?

I think its an interesting feat they're attempting here. Very flexible in terms of player choice, easy to port into any campaign, but the end-game goal is given right from the start. Hrmm...well...the first adventure is out, so I guess I'll go read that and see how it goes.

Not sure if the campaign is fully worked out, since they are accepting submissions for it.
Posted by David Guyll

Character Concepts: Hawkeye - Half-Orc Seeker

D&Di debuted the upcoming PHB3 Seeker class today. The popular speculation was that this would be another Divine Striker, come to find out that the Seeker is actually a Primal Controller.

Just goes to show what wild speculation is worth :\

Yes...the Primal power source already has a formidable and compelling controller class in the Druid...but as it turns out, the Seeker is utterly and completely it's own animal and vastly different from all of the other controller classes.

The most unique thing about the Seeker is that this class does not utilize implements like other controller classes to focus her evocations, but instead relies on ranged weapons such as bows, crossbows and thrown projectiles. A lot of the Seeker's powers involve loosing arrows wreathed in a swirling maelstrom of spiritual power that upon contact with the foe, creating area of effects that damage or hinder surrounding enemies. Some powers create terrain altering zones as well.

The Seeker is Wisdom based, with secondary effects keying off of Strength or Dexterity. Their primary class feature, Inevitable Shot, allows them to make a ranged basic attack against a nearby enemy when they miss their primary target. Also many of her evocations state that they can be used as a ranged basic attack. This makes the Seeker an effective secondary striker, as they are almost always doing damage.

The Seeker class also offers two different builds to choose from, each with it's own "Seeker's Bond" encounter power. The Bloodbond, which was detailed in the D&Di preview, grants the Encaging Spirits encounter power. This creates a burst effect that pushes and slows enemies as a minor action. In addition, this class feature also allows the Seeker to shift as a minor action while not wearing heavy armor.

The article, written by Robert J. Schwalb, with design commentary by himself and Stephen Radney-MacFarland, also details to Prestige classes: The Crimson Hunter, who is like a vengeful primal assassin, and has features that mostly promote their secondary striker effects. The Seven Fates Archer is a spirit talking Seeker who is purely about control.

All in all, the Seeker class is very jizz-worthy. If I had known about this before, I would probably have utilized this class for Antioch's primal-centric "Songs of Erui" campaign rather than my Shifter Archery Ranger, Greymalkin. Simply put, I want to play this class like a motherfucker.


Which brings me to my character concept: Hawk-Eye, the Half-Orc Seeker.

Since the Seeker class is Wisdom and Dexterity based, Elves are about the most perfect choice, with Razorclaw Shifters nipping at their heels.

But optimal is boring to I decided to go with a Half-Orc (my personal favorite race across all my years of playing D&D. I have yet to play one in 4E though, alas.)Partially because the Half-Orc is usually characterized as a savage fighter who relishes in melee combat, and I wanted to change it up, and partially because their Furious Assault power and Dexterity bonus lend themselves well to the Strikery-ness of the Seeker.

In addition, I decided to go with the Ranger multiclass, to increase damage output and open up a whole world of archery based feats and Paragon Paths. At some point, during the heroic levels, Hawkeye would be taking feats like Weapon Expertise: Bows, Weapon Proficiency: Greatbow, Distant Advantage, Lethal Hunter, Weapon Focus: Bows, etc.

In paragon levels, I would probably have Hawk-Eye take the Battlefeild Archer PP, to bolster his hit% and Battlefield Experience + AOE=sad DM : )

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Half-Orc Seeker, level 1
Inevitable Shot, Seeker's Bond: Bloodbond, Hunter's Quarry (Ranger MC)
Background: Forest (+2 Perception)

Str 12, Con 14, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 8.

Str 10, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 8.

AC: 15 Fort: 12 Reflex: 14 Will: 14
HP: 26 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 6

Acrobatics +8, Athletics +6, Perception +11, Nature +8, Perception +10, Stealth +8

Arcana +0, Bluff -1, Diplomacy -1, Dungeoneering +3, Endurance +4, Heal +3,
History +0, Insight +3, Intimidate +1, Religion +0, Streetwise -1, Thievery +3

Level 1: Warrior of the Wild (Ranger Multiclass)

Seeker at-will 1: Elemental Spirits
Seeker at-will 1: Stinging Swarm
Seeker encounter 1: Spider Spirits
Seeker daily 1: Storm of Spirit Shards

Half-Orc encounter: Furious Assault

Adventurer's Kit
Leather Armor
Quiver (30 arrows)
October 06, 2009
Posted by Shazbot


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