Archive for June 2011

The Heirs of Ruin Play Report 1

I've been rather slow and/or late updating over the past few weeks due to planning out an adventure path for Dark Sun, titled The Heirs of Ruin. My group has been clamoring for it since the books were released last year, and I've finally got a chance to put them to use.

By popular demand the group began as prisoners or slaves to Balic's arena. I pitched a variety of character hooks, but Beth was dead set on playing Maximus from Gladiator. I don't mean that she wanted to play a general that was betrayed, forced to participate in the arena until he got a chance for revenge; no, she is literally playing Maximus were he transplanted to Athas. The rest of the cast involves an elven politician (Artful dodger rogue) that was lobbying for abolishing slavery, a swordmage/warlock hybrid sunsoul genasi captured by slavers while searching for something (ie, lost magic to free primordials), and a goliath shaman that escaped from Balic before being shortly re-captured by a legion lead by Maximus.

Due to technical difficulties it took an hour to get the game rolling, so we only got through a pair of encounters involving a band of silt runners and an id fiend. I have to say, that poster map out of Bloodsand Arena was super-fucking handy. There wasn't much in the way of social role-playing, though I'd hoped to spark something by letting Kamon know that Beth's character was responsible for the murder and capture of his escaped slave tribe (something that none of the players knew beforehand). Ah well, maybe Beth's brooding will incite something.

This session could have gotten a lot smoother, as I'd forgotten to implement a few things due to lack of sleep and trouble getting character sheets printed. First, I'd hoped to get a system going where the audience could affect the outcome of the battles by cheering/booing/throwing stuff. Second, I'd totally spaced handing out glory boons for characters that took the most damage and did the coolest shit. I'll need to remember that at the start of the next game (where the players will have the chance to escape). I'd also liked to work in some notoriety, which will bite them in the ass once they're outside, as being easily recognized is a bad thing when you are an escaped prisoner trying to lay low.

That was basically it for the first session. Hopefully next session goes smoother and runs longer, so if nothing else I can write something a bit more interesting (and take pics).

Battle Cleric Options

Courtesy of Mearls, there's now additional options for Strength-based clerics to the tune of a variant class feature, variant Channel Divinity power, and sixteen at-will and encounter attacks ranging from levels 1-27. This is a hefty addition, and I'll need to let my Saturday game's dwarf cleric player do some retraining (especially because she even went so far as to take Scale Armor Proficiency). Lets take a look at the alternate features and powers, first.

  • Battle Cleric's Lore gives you a shield bonus to AC and proficiency with scale. That right there is nice, essentially a small bundle of feats (except that you do not actually have to carry a shield), but it also grants allies an attack bonus instead of bonus hit points when you heal them. This basically gives you a hands-free defender's AC, but your healing words still get some extra perks on the side. As it stands it seems a bit too good, especially compared to Healer's Lore (bonus hit points healed equal to your Wisdom modifier).
  • You can swap out  divine fortune for favor of the gods, which gives one creature a free reroll before the end of your next turn. It isn't something you can use when they miss, you target them with it on your turn, and if they miss they can opt to give it another shot. Kind of like a more conditional version of divine guidance, and I like it a lot more than divine fortune.
  • You can swap out turn undead for punish the profane, which is a weapon attack that deals radiant damage and immobilizes the target. It also deals half damage on a miss and has a secondary effect that targets all undead within an area of effect, dealing a small amount of radiant damage and pushing them on a hit. This one I don't necessarily like more than turn undead, but seems very flavorful for a battle cleric.
New Cleric Powers 
There are two at-wills, and both work better with simple weapons. Battle cleric's weapon mastery, in addition to needing a shorter name, has a built-in attack bonus and gives you a damage bonus if you are using it with both hands. It is basically a souped up melee basic attack. On the other hand, weapon of divine protection deals an extra d6 damage if you are using a simple weapon, and grants allies next to you a defense bonus as an effect. So, that's pretty leader-y.

The rest is a bunch of encounter attacks that extend all the way to epic tier, two per level. They all follow the general theme of gaining an attack bonus (ie, Strength +1 vs. AC) and damage bonus if used in two hands, or just one or more d6's if you are using a simple weapon in general. Some of them are just improved versions of themselves (for example, sundering might and divine beacon), and I would have preferred if they just used the formatting that they use with powers that scale if you take them at a higher level.

These new encounter attacks really seem like Mearls just going through the motions of trying to wrap up support for a class concept, which is actually very good because despite the fact that any competent DM or player could have done the same thing: I know many people do not allow something that didn't come out of a book--specifically, an official D&D book, and sometimes not even then

You will like it if you play clerics in general (especially for the alternate features), but obviously if you want to emulate a warpriest then this should have you covered.
June 25, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

Conquest of Nerath Review

Conquest of Nerath is WotC's latest board game that takes a departure from their previous cooperation adventure games, instead pitting sometimes allied groups of 2-4 players against each other as they wage war across the implied setting. My previous experience with strategy board games is limited to basically, "that one time I played Axis & Allies like, six years ago or something". Oh yeah, I tried to give StarCraft a shot, but the whole reverse order bullshit made it very hard to teach other people and eventually I just gave up and played StarCraft 2. At any rate Conquest of Nerath promises to rope me in through a combination of the D&D brand and simple, straightforward mechanics and game play that coincidentally reminds me of Axis & Allies.

I'm only going to go over things in brief, so if you want to check out the rules yourself, you can find them free (and legally!) here.

The map is divided into two land masses that each serve as the starting point for a pair of opposing factions, with an island plopped in the center, and both land and sea are in turn divided into territories or regions. Each faction begins with a set number of units and cash. Aside from starting composition the factions differ in the appearance of most units, their starting position, what their Event cards do, and on what turn they act (each faction has a set turn order). The rulebook makes it a point to sum up these strength and weaknesses, for example stating that, "Karkoth has an aggressive starting position but has the weakest Event cards".

There are nine unit types: footsoldier, siege engine, monster, fighter, wizard, castle, storm elemental, dragon, and warship. Statistically each unit is the same between factions, though in most cases they are cosmetically different. For example, a Karkoth footsoldier is a skeleton, while Vailin has an archer. Some units have special traits, such as being able to attack first (and thereby thinning the opposing force so long as they don't have First Strike units), or inflicting more damage while attacking.

Each player's turn is divided into six steps; drawing an Event card, moving any units you want, fighting, repositioning, reinforcing, and collecting income:

  • Draw: Drawing an Event card is exactly as it sounds; you get one, play it if it says to "Play Immediately", or hold onto it for later. There's no cap, so you don't have to worry about discarding.
  • Move: Each unit has a move value, usually 1 or 2 (dragons have 3). Obviously, you don't have to move all your stuff, and you don't have to move them the full speed.
  • Fight Battles: Fighting is as easy as moving your units into a territory occupied by an enemy, and is resolved about as easily: both sides roll an associated attack die for each unit--from the lowly footsoldier's d6 to the dragon's d20--with a 6 or higher scoring a "hit". Once a round of combat is over, you just allocate the damage taken to your units however you see fit. Most units die in one hit, though dragons can take two and fully heal after combat if they aren't killed. 
  • Reposition: Some units, namely dragons and storm elementals, get to move again. Also, dungeons get new monsters (meaning you can loot them again on your next turn).
  • Reinforce: Once combat is wrapped up you can reinforce you forces by spending gold, training as many units as you want at your capital or four at any castles you've built in the field. 
  • Collect Income: Finally at the end of your turn you collect gold based on the number of new territories you control and the number of starting territories that you don't.

Despite all the fighting going on, you can still find time for adventure. Fighters and wizards can go into dungeon spaces and fight monsters, gaining additional gold and treasure cards for their efforts. Unfortunately the monsters aren't pushovers and can also possess traits like First Strike (your wizards are useless) or making it so that only an eight or higher hits...and both types of hero units only use d10s for their attacks. On the other hand, being able to get an item that lets you do something like add in a free footsoldier once per turn (in addition to a one-shot addition of three) and a Victory Point can make the risk worthwhile.

This game looks very fun and easy to both teach and play, especially in comparison to other board games like StarCraft and Arkham Horror. Hell, even the other D&D adventure games are more complicated than this, but I don't look at it as a drawback. Being able to go dungeon crawling for loot is a nice touch, which gives is a distinct D&D feel as well as a nice risk versus reward mechanic.
June 24, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: The Core of D&D

In this week's Legend & Lore column, Mearls begins by submitting that in the early editions of Dungeons & Dragons it was easier for DM's to modify the rules: one might just make shit up on the fly, while another might put a lot of time and effort into reaching a conclusion. He goes on to submit that with 3rd and 4th Edition rules became more comprehensive and easier to use, and that consequently DMs began to simply rely on them rather than modify them.

In my personal experience I have found that recent editions--well, almost exclusively 4th Edition since I was basically the only one in my group that would run 3rd Edition--have made it so easy to modify rules and make rulings that not only are DMs in my group (myself included) doing it more often, but we also are not coming up with "broken" rules and rulings in the process. For example, if a player wants to try and flip over a table it would be very simple to come up with an on-the-fly ruling with little experience or chance of making table-flipping "too good" of an ability (Strength check to tip, followed by an attack versus Reflex with some damage and prone on a hit, monster standing adjacent to table on a miss).

Yeah you could make a similar ruling in all editions, but depending on your DM the number(s) needed to succeed and results could very wildly, and as editions progressed I think that DMs adhering to either extreme of the spectrum of usability became much less likely.

The other part of the article are the "essentials" of D&D. That is, stuff that would remind you of D&D, even if you saw it in another game:
  • The six ability scores—Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma—as the categories for measuring a character’s abilities.
  • Armor Class as the basic representation of a character’s defense.
  • Alignment (Law v. Chaos, Good v. Evil) as a personal ethos and a force in the universe.
  • Attack rolls made using a d20, with higher rolls better than lower ones.
  • Classes as the basic framework for what a character can do.
  • Damage rolls to determine how badly a spell or attack hurts you.
  • Gold pieces as the standard currency for treasure.
  • Hit dice or level as the basic measure of a monster’s power.
  • Hit points as a measure of your ability to absorb punishment, with more powerful characters and creatures gaining more of them.
  • Levels and experience points as a measure of power and a mechanic that lets characters become more powerful over time.
  • Magic items such as +1 swords as a desirable form of treasure.
  • Rolling initiative at the start of a battle to determine who acts first.
  • Saving throws as a mechanic for evading danger.
  • “Fire-and-forget” magic, with spellcasters expending a spell when casting it.
Aside from initiative, I pretty much agree with the entire list. Palladium's line of games cribbed quite a bit in an attempt to be like D&D, but that just makes me think of D&D all the same anyway. I could live without alignment, especially in favor of having personality traits for helping players judge what their characters might do, as well as Vancian magic, which I've never really liked. The rest of the list makes me feel very optimistic about future editions, as it features game mechanics that make it easy for me to create adventures and accurate challenges for my players without bogging down play too much.

Some posters think that Mearls has a fixation for OD&D to the point where he is going to steer 5th Edition back to basics, but I seriously doubt anything remotely close to that is ever going to happen.
June 21, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

Character Themes: Born from Shadow

Only two themes, this time? Oh well, at least they are shadow-oriented. Now if only I was able to run a L.A. Noire-type campaign that takes place in Gloomwrought (or hell, Eberron) I would be in business. I think WotC should do some sort of compilation and throw it in a book, perhaps with one of those random-background generator tables.

Student of Evard starts you out with essence of death, which deals scaling bonus damage against an adjacent creature that you hit with an attack. The damage is nice, but you also take some damage. To make matters worse, it also scales. At level 5 you gain a bonus on skill checks related to nethermancy and necromancy, and you can also use the Last Sight Vision ritual once a day for free. At 10th-level the skill bonuses double, and you also gain an attack bonus with shadow powers for the first round of combat.

  • Dark Focus: A level 2 daily utility that lets you burn a healing surge for a reroll. Kind of like arcane defiling, but only you pay the price.
  • Shadow Vision: A level 6 encounter utility that grants you dark vision for a turn. Lame.
  • Dread Blessing: A level 10 daily utility that is similar to dark focus in that you burn a surge for a reroll, but this one targets allies, grants a bonus, and if the reroll still fails you do not expend it. Very nice.
Gloomwrought emissary starts you out with strike from shadows, which lets you lump on weakened when you hit a creature granting combat advantage with a melee or ranged attack. As a minor bonus you can also shift a short distance. Level 5 gives you a staple bonus to Diplomacy and Streetwise, while level 10 lets you reroll a Charisma-based skill once per day. Eh...could be better, but at least it fits the theme.

  • Jibber Feint is a level 2 encounter utility that lets you automatically cause one enemy to grant combat advantage for the next attack levied at it.
  • Ghostwalker is a level 6 encounter utility that renders you insubstantial for a turn, and lets you fly before your turn ends.
  • Noble's Decree is a level 10 encounter utility that basically lets you double your Charisma modifier for a Diplomacy or Intimidate check.

Student of Evard is pretty nice, and while the Gloomwrought emissary is thematic enough it just feels underwhelming in the same way that a 3rd Edition bard was mostly good for auto-winning Diplomacy checks.
June 17, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

Vestiges of the Black Star

I'm planning a Dark Sun campaign in which one of the players is a genasi swordmage/warlock hybrid. The player wants to be able to gain vestiges that are built around primordials (such as vestige of Ilmeth and vestige of Shax), and while there are already a few I decided to go the extra mile and make a small selection of warlock spells thematic towards Timesus the Black Star since, well, he is supposed to have gotten killed at some point during Prince of Undeath.

Not featured is a spell that lets you summon a shard of Timesus, as well as generate black star fragments when bloodied that basically operate as necrotic bombs.

As always lemme know if they are too powerful/weak.

Legend & Lore: The Many Faces of D&D

Mearls is of the belief that D&D is at its best when it manages to cater to as many styles of play as possible. While trying to please as many players as possible is a noble design goal, I find that games that try to be many things at once often fail to adequately represent most (if not all) of the play styles that they are trying to support. In other words, I think that good games set out with a goal in mind and run with it. For example, I felt that Brutal Legend tried too hard to be both an action game and a real-time strategy, and consequently felt underwhelming on both fronts.

Personally, I like abstraction because it helps avoid the tedium of tracking often trivial things, as well as provide a result without bogging down the game. I don't want to roll to hit a creature, determine hit location, determine ht severity, and with both results (hopefully) determine a conclusion. I'm not even a big critical-hit-chart type of guy, because ultimately it is just going to hose over players even in the short run. I guess placing myself on the chart I'd fall about in the middle of the story-tactics axis (because I prefer my games to have plenty of both), favoring the abstraction end of the spectrum.

Now that I mention it, I disagree with the story-tactics axis for the simple reason that I do no understand why a game cannot effectively deliver both. Immersion and abstraction I get, but Mass Effect 2 both had a compelling story and highly tactical combat that required the use of cover and your entire squad's abilities in order to survive. I think using a radar chart would be better suited to mapping out an edition's strengths and weaknesses, because it could both allow for more than four categories and inform us of how well it catered to other categories; I agree that 4th Edition does well for tactics and abstraction, but also think that it handles the story part superbly.

Ultimately I do not think it is a good idea to try and shoehorn a game into too many play styles, and instead focus your efforts on making sure that the game is fun for what it is supposed to do. Maybe creating alternate rules ala Unearthed Arcana could be used to add "realism" to the game (as well as other rules)? Honestly, I think I'd prefer if WotC would make another game that uses D&D mechanics that work, while modifying it as necessary like they did with Gamma World.
June 16, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Limits Adventure Design?

This is going to be one of those ranty posts, so if you aren't a fan of those then I would just move along.

So over at Paizo's messageboards they for some reason have elected to keep the 4th Edition sub-forum, which means that from time to time I duck it and scope things out (sometimes they do adventure conversions, which are kind of nifty). A thread titled "Pathfinder 4E?" caught my attention, in which someone asks the question of whether or not Paizo would do an adventure path intended for Dungeons & Dragons. The immediate answer was a flat-out no. This was expected, as were the follow up comments of thank god, why would they, 4E is probably too boring to write for, etc.

Not far down, a poster (who is also a publisher?) pitched in the following:

From the trunk of D&D 3E has sprung two very different branches: 4E and Pathfinder. And more than just rules divides them. Design philosophy divides them. I dont think you could actually make the adventures Paizo makes using the 4E rules. The two just don't go together. 4E is all about set piece combats. Just see their adventures. Its so true they even changed the format of how they publish and present adventures. Gone is story and character and development and anything not related to the game table. Paizo is all about story and character. And there is a belief (that is clearly held, whether or not 100% true) that you can't do what the developers at Paizo want to do with the 4E rules.

While I agree that there is a design philosophy difference (ie, character balance and usability), I think that Clark is outright wrong in his observations.  I cannot tell if he is deliberately trying to misinform or is simply ignorant. Probably both. What is even more fucked up is that on the next page, he states that he does not intend to make absolute statements (despite making several), and is actually congratulated by Sean Reynolds two posts down.

Of course it all made sense after doing some research and discovering that this guy wanted to do 3rd-party material for Dungeons & Dragons. Since WotC didn't release a license permitting this for quite awhile (I guess since it was done in all of one Edition, that it must be a mandatory thing?), he was not able to do so and is now bitter about it. So bitter that he is resorting to disguising his heavily biased opinions as facts after they had already been challenged and refuted. Seriously. He isn't even being creative about his trolling; it is the same shit that was being slung back in 2008.

What I would like to know from an alleged publisher (with a website that hasn't been updated since 2009) is the same damned thing that I have wanted to hear from the haters since 4th Edition was released: why do you think the game limits character development and storytelling? What about Pathfinder makes it "all about story and character"? I'd heard from someone at Paizo that one of the purported reasons that they wanted to stick with 3rd Edition is that they couldn't do the adventures that they want. You know, those same adventures that people are having an apparently easy time converting, sometimes on the fly?

The truth is that there is no valid reason why Paizo couldn't make an adventure path for Dungeons & Dragons, except for perhaps spite and bitterness, which makes more sense because of the magazine licenses being pulled (despite giving them time to wrap up Savage Tide) and releasing a new edition. The fact that WotC did not include a third-party license probably just made things worse, but then they were never required to do so in the first place (and I am of the mind that most third-party content in 3rd Edition was ass, anyway). I know Clark thinks that Paizo hoisted the magazines to new heights, but I never used any content from Dragon, and only bothered with the adventure path content in Dungeon. Nowadays I use content from Dragon all the time, and have run plenty of adventures out of Dungeon, so at least for me it has gotten a lot better.

It is funny to see him throwing around comments like, "Paizo gets it" or that they are "gamers to the core". I guess Chris Perkins's Iomandra campaign wiki, and all those podcasts and videos don't mean shit? The best part I think, is where he goes on about how he is glad that he "cannot" support Dungeons & Dragons. Oh sure if he could he'd "probably have to"...except he then follows up by saying that even if WotC did make an OGL for D&D that'd still probably go with Pathfinder. You know what? I am also glad that he "cannot" support Dungeons & Dragons. I think we are better off for it.
June 11, 2011
Posted by David Guyll

Monster Vault: Threats of the Nentir Vale Review

Packaged in a paper sleeve, Threats of the Nentir Vale includes a 129-page soft-cover book that abides by traditional dimensions of Monster Manuals past, eight sheets of monster tokens, and a poster map that gets referenced in some of the monster entries. Unlike other monster supplements, this book provides regional content for the Nentir Vale and only features monsters in the Heroic and Paragon range (the highest level monster is 20). While the actual book is the proverbial meat of the product, it seems a bit on the thin side: there are only 40 separate entries (Monster Manual 3 had what, over a hundred at least?), with a good mix of monsters and villainous factions with tenuous roots in the Nentir Vale.

In terms of presentation I'm very pleased with the book in spite of the recycled artwork--cadaver collector, mooncalf, and ragewind come to mind, and each monster has several paragraphs of flavor content to give you a foundation for what the monster is about and spark your imagination with adventure ideas. This book is very useful if you plan on running games in the Nentir Vale, but (perhaps) aside from names nothing is stopping you from porting these organizations or locations to, well, anywhere else. For example the Barrowhaunts are a band of undead adventurers that haunt the Sword Downs. You could very easily file off the names and use them for any level 9ish encounter in which undead are warranted.

Portability aside, a lot of the organizations help round out existing monster entries like hobgoblins, orcs, dragonborn, tieflings, and even felldrakes. There are some new monsters, however, by which I mean almost entirely monsters from past editions making a belated return, such as--again--the cadaver collector, mooncalf, and ragewind. Seriously though, there's also boggles, a werespider nestled in the Hunter Spider faction, penanggalan, liondrake stationed in the Dythan's Legion entry, peryton, big-ass mimics, and more.

Despite the Nentir Vale subtitle, this book should prove to be almost as useful as any other Monster Manual on your shelf. As I've emphasized several times, they are easy to modify and displace assuming you want to keep most of the flavor attached. Even if you detest the implied setting and all that it implies, there's a good chunk of monsters to round out the existing stock along with new additions. The only downside is the price tag, as $30 formerly got you a hardcover book with almost a hundred extra pages. If you like tokens then it definitely makes it worthwhile. Otherwise, not so much.

My Ideal Digital D&D

These pregens were WAY cooler,
back in the day.
In the wake of Daggerdale's disappointment, I decided to write up a list of stuff I'd like to see--and not see--in a digital game adaptation of D&D.

Personally I prefer an action-role playing hybrid like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but even action games can be a blast if done right as long as they mix in some sort of advancement system, such as God of War or Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Regardless it would need to offer meaningful decisions during character creation, because as fun as those old D&D arcade games were I might want to play a fighter that uses something other than a sword and shield (or is of another race, for that matter).

My general preference here is at the least no Forgotten Realms. Almost every D&D takes place in Forgotten Realms, and frankly if I wasn't already tired of the setting on the table I'd be tired of it by now. Going with the implied setting would allow for a lot of creative freedom, though I'd like to see more of Eberron than just some parts of Xen'drik and Athas would look pretty badass on screen. Basically, try something new--which in this case doesn't technically have to be new, but merely another pre-fabbed setting.

It is okay to venture out of the Realms, have a set
character, and still have a successful game.
Just stick to the existing model out of Player's Handbook and let players pick their race, class, feats, skills, etc. There's really no reason to deviate from this model, even if you're doing an action-only game. Provide at least four races and classes, each with two or more class features to choose from for a larger variety. Which races and classes depends on the style and setting of the game: In the implied setting I'd expect your typical fare of human, elf, dwarf, fighter, cleric, wizard, etc. If you're going with a horror game in Eberron's Shadow Marches? Give us half-orcs, shifters, druids, barbarians, and the like.

Being able to pick a gender wouldn't be unreasonable (even for an action game), but for the love of god avoid stupid hairstyles like mohawks, or whatever the fuck those "double-mohawks" are called. Skills could have applications even in an action-game; for example Endurance might help shake off poisons, while Athletics might help you climb or swim faster. Finally when it comes to feats, just give us an assortment of the usual fare along with a handful of class-specific stuff.

I expect the game to utilize the actual D&D mechanics as much as possible, especially if it is a turn-based game. Even if you go with real-time--or whatever you call real-time that lets you pause to make decisions in combat--you can still make it work, and Daggerdale really fell flat in this department by not including action points, opportunity attacks, healing surges, power resource management (or well, powers), skills, and probably some other stuff I'm probably overlooking.

  • In a real-time game action points could be used to just increase your attack/movement speed for a short period of time, or even linked to an ability in order to instantly use it (ie, ignore cooldown time). 
  • Neverwinter Nights had a way of handling opportunity attacks, so 'nuff said.
  • Healing surges would be great for not having to lug around 50+ healing potions of various grades, as well as encourage better tactics and resource management.
  • Encounter powers would refresh once an encounter has concluded, kind of like how in Dragon Age your health/mana/stamina just max out after a short period of time once you wrap up combat.
  • Daily powers could be recharged at the end of an adventure, or if the players find a "campsite", which would be areas of an adventure zone where players would be able to take an extended rest, probably just once. They would be stuff like bedrooms, secluded glades, safe houses, secret rooms, pocket dimensions, airships cabins, or any other locale that you as a DM might let your players hunker down for a night and recuperate. Some might prompt for random encounters.

Actual adventuring occurs when the players find a hook and actually decide to head out, fast-traveling  to an adventure "zone" or module like how you go from place to place in Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Fits the theme of D&D, where the DM just glosses over lengthy travel times, and you could still work in random encounters (they did it in Fallout and Dragon Age).

Adventures would have minor and major quests, a set number of encounters, and a set amount of treasure, again, like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. I prefer because it helps ushering you through the story without a bunch of senseless side treks and padding to distract you, a pitfall that I've run into all too often in games like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed. Adventures could have optional quests that could provide extra rewards or change how the story plays out (like killing a monster or having a NPC die). On the other hand, I could see small side-treks that operate like delves; unrelated to the plot and only a few encounters.

Use the loot system as written. Characters already have a lot of flexibility without having to mill through damaged this and cracked that, which is just made worse by the fact that Daggerdale also had shitty magic loot. Restricting magic items to the four or so that players normally get each level also helps make them more meaningful when finally discovered.

I'd like a D&D game that allows for the customization of the paper-and-pencil version, complete with an actual plot that I give a shit about. This shouldn't be too difficult, and games in the past--Planescape: Torment comes to mind--have come close on the mechanics front. If the game must be a straight forward action-hack-fest, then at least provide a somewhat discernible story with some character development that matters: four pre-fabs, mostly worthless feats, and a smattering of "powers" wasn't sufficient years ago.
June 02, 2011
Posted by David Guyll


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