Archive for August 2013

Epiro: Episode 111



CAST
  • Atticus (elf druid 5)
  • Ben's gnome (gnome artful dodger rogue 5)
  • Iola (wood elf centered breath monk 5)
  • Josh's new wizard (human evocation mage 5)
  • Perseus (human Chaladin 5)
Now that they had a chance to breathe, they could see that the first room was a wide marble hall, with a ceiling supported by fluted pillars, and the center featured a very much vibrant tree with golden leaves and apples. There were two exits to the north and east flanked by statues, with another pair of statues along the west wall (some of which Perseus recognized as distant relatives).

Wandering Monsters: Fiend Folio

This week's Wandering Monsters article is brought to you by the letter "F", though the word "uninspiring" would have likely delivered the same.

The firenewt is basically a slightly more physically inept lizardfolk that is resistant to fire and has the most pathetic breath weapon I have ever seen: 5-foot range, one target, 1d6 damage (half on a miss!). What else, what else...oh! They are also Neutral Evil, plundering other races for supplies. Did I mention that they eat humanoids? Still not working for you? Well try this on for size: they ride giant birds.

Wandering Monsters: Three of a Kind

Though I am generally a fan of fiendish things, there is a lot about this article that bugs me.

For starters, each of the monsters is basically a slight variation at best of the same concept: cambions are the offspring of a mortal and some kind of fiendish creature, draegloths are essentially a specific type of cambion, and tieflings are the ancestors of people that mingled with fiends (so, less powerful cambions).

Seeing a pattern?

August 21, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: The Final Countdown

It looks like that September will be the last publicly released playtest packet, marking the end of the initial phase of trying to nail "the feel" of Dungeons & Dragons. The game is not done mind you, and other groups will carry the torch in order to (hopefully) balance math and (also hopefully) remove abusive combinations.

I would say that the playtest has hit a feel that Dungeons & Dragons has evoked before (3rd Edition), it is just not one that I am interested in (also 3rd Edition). Mearls describes Dungeons & Dragons as a tool of creativity. I agree to a point, though I do not think it is a particularly well-designed tool because of its 3rd Edition-isms:

August 19, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Through the Vast Gate

Before I talk about the foulspawn and gibbering mouther, I want to point out how odd it is that they do not want to tie the origin of aberrations to the Far Realm because it "might not be a part of every DM's cosmology and campaign", but are totally fine making assumptions about what other planes exist (Ravenloft), how they are arranged (the Great Wheel), and what goes on there (like the Blood War).

Why the favoritism? What about people who think that the Great Wheel is not particularly interesting or creative, or even simply feel that it is not appropriate for their campaign setting? What about official campaign settings that do not include those things? There is no need to make so
many "traditional" assumptions, which among many other bizarre decisions
is something that continues to confuse and frustrate me.

Numenera: A Glimpse of the Ninth World

"I am a satisfied backer who enjoys running Numenera."

HELLO NINTH WORLD
Its got monoliths.
Given how critical I was about Monte Cook's rules proposals for Dungeons & Dragons Next I am not sure exactly why I backed Numenera. Maybe it was the pitch of a world that exists impossibly far in the future, or maybe it was because he worked on Planescape, one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings of all time. Maybe I just had a good feeling? At this point, over a year later, I could not tell you.  At any rate I even went so far as to pick a backer level that gave me access to playtest rules, and though I never got a chance to run a game I was surprised at how mostly simple the game was.

August 12, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: You Call That Done?


The fact that the races, classes, and other "core elements" of the game are considered almost done fills me with a combination of confusion, worry, and disappointment. This just seems less like a large company with a sizable staff working on a well-known, established brand, and more like someone tried to halfheartedly cobble something with Dungeons & Dragons in the title and gave up.

For starters the classes look woefully anemic and lazily designed (especially after 4th Edition gave us so, so many options from the start), most of the monsters are incredibly boring (and some have spells that require you to reference another source), skills are gone, equipment still 
relies largely on gold, armor is terribly designed, and magic makes no 
sense (and is also uninspiring and boring).

Posted by David Guyll

The Barbarian Horde (Throughout Editions)

One of my criticisms about Next is the lack of being able to make meaningful decisions both when building a character and during level up, as most levels of most classes have predetermined class features.

Sure at 2nd- or 3rd-level you get to pick a kind of theme (which you may not agree with), but this one choice predetermines everything else you get for the rest of the game. This is not only boring, but limits a class to one interpretation of a concept and makes it needlessly more difficult--if not impossible--for a player to build the character that they want.

To better illustrate my point I decided to compare the barbarian class in 3rd Edition, 4th Edition, 5th Edition, and 13th Age.

3RD EDITION
You get fast movement (+10 ft. speed when not in heavy armor) and can rage once per day (bonus to attack, damage, and Will saves). For some reason you cannot read or write unless you spend two skill points. The only thing you can customize here is how you distribute your skill points and where to spend a feat.

DDN Q&A: Skills

If you were wondering why skills were largely jettisoned in the most recent playtest packet, I guess it is to...streamline the game? If you were also wondering why lores were kept (and the bonus drastically inflated), it is because a lot of the players apparently missed being able to be an expert in a field of knowledge...?

Right.

I am serious: they kept asking what their characters would know, so the solution was to give them a non-scaling bonus to a couple of checks, which at
a whopping +10 is less of a bonus, and more of a guarantee, so I guess it
accomplishes their mission of streamlining the game since players will not even
need to ask.

August 08, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Bound Constructs

This is going to be another one of those posts where I wonder why the designers are keen on giving us a variety of specific, similar monsters, instead of just adopting a toolkit approach with some examples. I think it is even more fitting given that we are talking about constructs.

A helmed horror is a Medium-sized suit of armor that for some reason glows purple, can see invisible things, cast a couple spells as defined by...someone, is immune to exactly three spells, and built for a purpose. I kind of zone out after the first comma, as none of the rest approaches anything resembling rhyme or reason.

Why the purple glow? Is it because of the magic? Is purple the magic color for an animated suit of armor? Why air walk and feather fall? Why immunity to exactly three spells? Why is this described as an entry-level construct for spellcasters wanting to get into the craft? It is expensive and has a variety of bells and whistles that probably contribute to the cost without serving any necessary function. I guess always envisioned a wizard's first starter-construct to be, I dunno, at least crude-looking.
August 07, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Classic Complexity

Some people like the 3rd Edition fighter because it is simple to the point where it is often used as an introductory class (you do not do much besides roll to hit, and roll damage if you do), while others dislike it for that very same reason (well, that and it is horrendously underpowered mid- to late-game).

Gamers have different tastes, and those tastes can change over time, so if a game get lets you determine--among other things--character complexity on the fly then you are just increasing the odds that they will not only like your game, but stick with it when they feel like switching up the amount of book keeping they want to do.

Epiro: Episode 110

Cast
  • Atticus (wood elf druid 5)
  • Josh's Wizard (human wizard 5)
  • Iola (wood elf monk 5)
  • Perseus (human paladin 5)
We spent a good chunk of the session mulling over the new packet and, well, "transitioning" the characters by filing off skills, feats, and some class features.

The characters finally arrived at Copper Cairns, got paid (a small fortune of 5 gp each), and without missing a beat headed directly into the mountains. A storm picked up that filled Perseus with one part sense of longing, one part anger. He used detect magic, which I declared only allowed him to detect divine-ish magic, which was fine because it was divine-ish in origin. Rather than recognize spell schools, which to me is a silly thing for a paladin to be able to do, it instead registered domains.

August 03, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

D&DN Q&A: Math Check

Earlier this week it was revealed thatfor now anywayattack bonuses sans ability score mods would cap at +6, while skills and saves can, in specialized cases anyway, hit +12. The reasons given for this are that attack rolls tend to be made much more frequently, the range for Armor Class is narrower, and the consequences for failing to hit something less severe.

I agree with the first part. In my experience attack rolls eat up the majority share of dice rolling compared to skill checks, especially if you just count the meaningful ones. I also agree with the narrower Armor Class range, as they want to avoid the issues of the past two editions where numbers scale so that
you can throw bigger numbers at other, bigger numbers.

D&D Next Packet: No Choice or Skills

And here I was not expecting to see a new packet until sometime around GenCon, on the day of my weekly playtest campaign and release of the backer-only Numenera pdf no less. The general reaction from my group wasaside from a few things here and therealmost entirely negative, especially with the removal of skills, changes to feats, and further homogenization of many classes.

We still had fun mind you, but not because of anything to do with the system, which is disappointing because the Numenera playtest felt much more polished in a much quicker time frame, and it was not designed by a massive company. Anyway, let us take a look at the packet one pdf at a time.

Posted by David Guyll

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