Archive for September 2013

Numenera: Meet Ort

Ort is a charming nano who exists partially out of phase. He is also not human.

It looks like in a couple weeks I will get a chance to play Numenera. The original plan was for me to start running something after Epiro wrapped up, but Randy wants to take a stab at it and I am more than happy to let him sit behind the screen for awhile.

So what to make? Though there are only three types, there are plenty of descriptors and focuses that you can mix and match in order to add more diversity. All the same there were already a pair of nanos, so I originally chose jack partially for variety, partially because it seemed to play well with existing partially out of phase. However this changed once I started trying to envision what my character looked like, or more accurately what it was.

September 30, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Class Roles...I Mean Groups

3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons introduced the sorcerer as a kind of wizard that, like pretty much every wizard in fiction that was not based specifically on Dungeons & Dragons, was not forced to memorize/prepare her spells in advance prior to using them.

The bit of flavor on them suggested that they carried the blood of dragons, but pretty much nothing about the class backed that claim up: they were basically wizards that just managed their spells in a slightly different way, material spell components and all.

Epiro: Episode 114

Pictured: Spoilers. Kind of. It is not as big.
Cast
  • Perseus (level 6 demigod Chaladin)
  • Iola (level 6 wood elf Centered Breath monk)
  • Atticus (level 6 wood elf predator druid)
  • Nero (level 6 human evoker)
One-hundred foot diameter rock hurtling towards your face? That would be time to leg it.

Atticus and Iola were the quickest, easily making it to the relative safety of the passage; being either an elf in cat-form or an elf capable of high-velocity wind-jumps has considerable benefits when the name of the game is speed.

Nero and the heavily-armored Perseus? Not so much.

September 28, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Basic Beasties

This week takes a brief look at some classics; the bulette (aka landshark), manticore, owlbear, and pseudodragon.

I could not find any stats for the bulette in Next, but if the manticore and owlbear are any indication I am guessing that it is going to be about as...straightforward as it was in 3rd Edition, where it could bite and claw you, or jump and for some reason only claw you a bunch of times. These are all pretty good examples of what I dislike about many monsters in Next: they just kind of stand there and trade blows until someone dies/runs away.

Dungeon World: Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes


Our second product, Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes, is finally up on Drivethrurpg. This is a side project that I have been working on when not bugging Josh about A Sundered World, though ultimately he contributed a good deal to the writing.

It is a "campaign front foundation" for Dungeon World that, as the name implies, gives you a solid campaign front and some steadings to start with, as well as some dungeons, new dungeon gear, optional dangers, monsters, magic items, a compendium class, a blank map.

If you like the stuff that we have posted before, then you will probably like this, too. Though it is specific to Dungeon World, if people enjoy the story I would definitely port it over to 4th Edition and 13th Age (when they allow us to, at any rate).

NOTE: I also dropped the price on Seekers of the Sand to $3 for all those looking for a bargain on thematic seeker powers, magic items, and a paragon path.

Legends & Lore: The Next Phase

Though the mostly-final Next packet was a disappointment, I am still ultimately reserving judgement until I see the finished product in case they end up fixing things, and/or create enough optional rules to provide a more entertaining experience.

At this point it looks like there are two design teams: one will be in charge of finalizing the core game, and the other will handle a number of herculean tasks; the underlying math, optional systems for tactical combat, drama, and character customization (all three of which should really not be optional), and a "campaign system".
September 23, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Q&A: Skills & Proficiencies

Earlier this week it was revealed that skills would be part of the default game (yay!), and we even got to see the current roster (yay...). This week's Questions & Answers follwup sheds a bit more light on the skill list, how proficiencies work, and if/how you can pick more up.

The skill list is mostly fine, though a few like Perception and Search could stand to be combined (just swap out Wisdom and Intelligence depending on the circumstance), and I can easily see something like Drive being useful if a character wants to use a chariot, like in Eberron or Dark Sun.

D&D Next: The (Almost) Final Packet

Whelp, looks like this is it. Well, except for the part where they mention a packet update for the druid and a paladin oath.

Spoilers: I felt that 4th Edition was a major step forward for Dungeons & Dragons. Aside from a few legacy mechanics like per-day resources they were not afraid to change whatever they wanted to make the game better. With Next Wizards of the Coast is well on their way to making a very...adequate game. Nothing about it seems fresh or innovative, much less even interesting. It looks like a 3rd Edition cloneflaws and cluttered language and allwith some 4th Edition mechanics tacked on, just without actively referring to it whenever possible.
September 20, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Deceitful Devils (Or Is It Demons?)

Dungeons & Dragons does not exactly have the best track record when it comes to translating critters from real-world mythology into the game, so it does not bother me much if the succubus ends up being a devil, demon, or something else entirely. What does bug me is when someone argues that it should be a demon "because that is what is was before" and/or that the wikipedia article cites it as a demon.

In regards to the first argument I was one of those who preferred them as devils, both because a Lawful alignment seemed better suited for a being trying to use deceit and subterfuge to corrupt a soul, and devils in general had a strong theme of corruption (as opposed to Chaotic demons,
who favored the route of destruction).
September 17, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Skills Are Back

It is nice that, after a few weeks of no Legends & Lore (and a pretty disappointing packet release), it comes back from hiatus with some good news: skills are back, +10 lore "skills" and skill dice are gone, and skills are not hard-wired to ability scores.

I made it pretty clear on at least one occasion that I was disappointed with the removal of skills; characters are already starved for choices, and I am not one of those people that believes that having a high Dexterity or Charisma is the same thing as being skilled at sneaking or talking to people respectively.

September 16, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

A Sundered World: What Is Going On...Also Mind Flayers

It has been awhile since we last talked about A Sundered World: I moved and have been busy with a new job, play-testing a Super Dungeon Explore expansion, reading up on 13th Age and Numenera, Josh has been busy with his existing job (and his schedule got a bit wonky for awhile, too), etc.

So partly this update is to say that we are still working on the Dungeon World version of A Sundered World (with other systems to come). The page count breached pages out of a projected 150, and we are still working out the gazetteer, class playbooks, equipment, magic items, monsters, and more.

The other part is to talk about the direction we are taking mind flayers or, given that mind flayers are considered Product Identity by Wizards of the Coast, whatever we end up calling our version of them. Mind you none of this stuff is specific to A Sundered World; it could easily fit in any setting with a Far Realm.

September 15, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

My Next Wishlist


When I got the first playtest packet I was pretty underwhelmed, but still hopeful. Yeah the characters were pre-gens, the system looked like the worst of what 3rd Edition had to offer, and the adventure made absolutely no sense, but despite the protests of my group I figured that this was just the initial release: it looked bad now, but it would get better over time.

And it did.

For awhile, anyway.

September 13, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Epiro: Episode 113


Cast
  • Atticus (elf predator druid 6)
  • Iola (wood elf centered breath monk 6)
  • Nero (human evoker/pyromancer mage 6)
  • Perseus (human Chaladin 6)
  • Thoros (gnome artful dodger rogue 6)
Zeus was down and an elemental-flanked cultist was preparing to finish him off with a black sword, while another presumed cultist sat next to a pillar, grasping at and talking to things that were probably not there.

September 11, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Dragons Revisited

The last time I recall dragons coming up there was mention of a "legendary" status that could, among other things, allow them to manipulate their environment in interesting, flavorful ways. It had a lot of promise, and so I find it disappointing that all of the dragons in the bestiary still look like 3rd Edition dragons (ie, the same but with different breath weapons).

Well, that is not entirely true; they do not have a big list of spell-like abilities, which is a plus in my book.

Wandering Monsters: Once Upon a Time

Dungeons & Dragons arbitrarily draws bits and pieces from various mythologies, especially when it comes to monsters: sometimes monsters with set populations can be found in abundance, have different origin stories (if they even had one at all), are named after another monster, come in numerous variations, and/or possess very different strengths and vulnerabilities.

I am used to the game taking liberties with its monsters, and really take no issue with it as long as the final result is something that I would want to use at the table. Even if this means that I end up changing the flavor and/or mechanics, I am good if something about it manages to inspire me.

For these two examples, the mechanics had better be pulling double duty.
September 05, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Epiro: Episode 112

Cast
  • Atticus (level 5 predator druid)
  • Iola (level 5 centered breath monk)
  • Nero (level 5 human evoker)
  • Perseua (level 5 human Chaladin)
  • Thoros (level 5 gnome artful rogue)
After another hour or so of walking the characters found a light at the end of the tunnel. A strong wind was funneled into the passage, slowing their advance. They could see flashes of lightning, and thunder trembled through the ground and walls.
September 02, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Subpar Classes

I am not a fan of 5th Edition's approach to classes, even with the introduction of subclasses: you pick a class, then a few levels in pick a subclass, and aside from some stat boosts/feat choices your character is effectively on rails for the rest of the campaign.

The rationalization is that it allows a player to manage complexity in the game: if you want to play a complex fighter then you go with gladiator, and if you want to play a simple one then you go with warrior. The problem is that you cannot change your path after you choose it, and you cannot play a fighter that can use maneuvers and defend your allies.

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