Archive for November 2013

Wandering Monsters: Born of Dragons

I remember half-dragons as far back as 2nd Edition, specifically in Council of Wyrms, though I do not remember much about them besides a breath weapon. Despite the considerable benefits package 3rd Edition's half-dragons were pretty badly executed, partly because of the once-per-day breath weapon, mostly because the +3 Level Adjustment severely gimped you. 4th Edition's dragonborn are great: not only can you play one right from the start without being punished, but you can also use your breath weapon more than once in an entire day.

Legends & Lore: Design Folly

"Elegance means that your game not only works, it works well."

Going off of that definition I would have to say that Next is not elegant. "Well, no duh," I hear some of you saying, because apparently people have this idea that I venomously hate Next for the crime of merely being different, as opposed to legitimate reasons or criticisms. Hell, according to some this hatred even extends to the flavor content: it is not because it makes no sense or is silly, it is obviously because it is in any way associated with Next.

November 26, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Numenera: The Devil's Spine, Episode 002


  • Junloo, a learned jack who explores dark places
  • Zuko, a swift nano who rides the lightning

Now that they had alien worm-things nice and snug against their spines they were ready to meet "mother".

In the adventure exploring the underground complex is represented with an hourly progress check. You roll a d20 and consult a table, which might have you consult a second table depending on what you get. Each hour exploring gives you a cumulative +10 to the roll, but you need to get 150 or more to get to the end.

November 24, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Under the Sea

My first extended underwater experience was early 3rd Edition, when I ran an all-drow campaign that found its way to the Elemental Plane of Water (do not ask). Otherwise I—like plenty of Dungeon Masters I am sure—have tinkered with it in various encounters here and there, because sometimes it is fun to break out the rules for swimming and holding your breath.

I am okay with almost everything about the merfolk flavor. Nothing really stands out, but neither is it confusing or silly: the caves, coral, coral weaponry, fish, etc all seems like standard fare and there is nothing wrong with that.
November 21, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Product Release: If These Stones Could Scream

My second Dungeon World adventure, If These Stones Could Scream, is up on Drivethrurpg. You can get it here (or at least check out a preview), or by using the Products link at the top.

If you liked the stuff I write here for free, or if you bought Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes, then you will most certainly enjoy this, and it is a nice, cheap, arbitrary $3 (which at this point might be cheaper than coffee, I have no idea).

Speaking of which, I have also reduced the price of Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes to $3, forever, since that seems to be a nice, sweet price point for people.

If you get it and like it, lemme know, rate it, spread the word, etc. Even if you hate it still let me know so that I can improve future products I write.

Numenera: The Devil's Spine, Episode 001

Our weekly game has moved to a Monday schedule, but given that it has run into several hiccups—which is why there has not been a play report in some time—a few of us have decided to continue getting together on Friday to roll some dice, starting with Numenera's The Devil's Spine.

So if you are planning on playing it, do not read this.

  • Junloo, a learned jack who explores dark places
  • Zuko, a swift nano who rides the lightning.
The backstory summary is that the pair normally occupies their time exploring the pipes and cliffs of Uxphon in their search for deliciously expensive numenera. During one of their forays around the Tichronus estate they noticed people being taken inside, and so figured they might as well see what was going on because thugs abducting people is the kind of thing you should
nose in on.
November 19, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Priorities

There was a time when, though deliberate or even accidental choice, that spellcasters could do pretty much anything they wanted to, including things that other classes could do, and in all likelihood do it better; if you have been playing Dungeons & Dragons for the past decade or so, then you have probably heard that if you want to make a competent fighter, instead make a cleric and buff yourself, or even go with druid and wait until you get wildshape.

4th Edition got rid of all of that. If you wanted to be good in melee, then you picked a class that was good at melee. While there were a variety of classes capable of swordplay, they each had their own perks and style
of play that made them feel different from each other. Even better was
that classes like the fighter finally got "nice things", making them not only
viable at higher level play, but capable of doing what their class advertised.

November 18, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Wandering Monster-ception

Rather than talk about monsters, this week's Wandering Monsters column talks about the qualities of a good encounter, the purpose of random encounters, and asks howor even ifyou use either in your games.

The article states that a great encounter has history, a clear objective, and a meaningful outcome. I guess I can agree with these standards; I do not think that every great encounter has to have all of them, but it probably does not hurt. I would add that a great encounter should also be interesting and fun, which due to varied gamer tastes are harder standards to quantify but likely benefit from the previous factors.

November 15, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Riddle of the Sphinx

This is admittedly not a bad start for sphinx flavor and lore. Mind you it still needs some adjustments, but it is much better than many of the previous Wandering Monsters columns. First, the good.

Despite kind of treading on the angel's concept, I do not mind the divine origin: they look different, are more grounded in the natural world, and not every god has to have angels on tap. I really like the description of various tests, from withstanding an androsphinx's roar, to escaping a gynosphinx's imagination zone, to fighting against a grossly unfair friend-to-foe ratio. This not only makes it easy to use them, but allows you to use them in some really inventive and memorable ways.

And now the bad, or at least the parts that I disagree with.

November 06, 2013
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Miss-conceptions

Great Weapon Fighting
When you miss a target with a melee weapon that you are wielding in two hands, the target still takes damage from the weapon. The damage equals your Strength modifier. The weapon must have the two-handed benefit or versatile property to gain this benefit.
--Classes, pg 25

Now that is a very clunky read, but given that part of D&D Next's design philosophy is restructuring the format so that you have to sift through walls of text to get the necessary details I am not really surprised.

Legends & Lore: Warlock Design

Given that the warlock is one of my favorite classes in Dungeons & Dragons of all time, it is comforting that at least this time I only see potential issues in today's Legends & Lore.

I never played a warlock in 3rd Edition. It seemed like a two-trick pseudo-sorcerer that was created as a mechanical experiment to see if it would be possible to permit a character to cast a couple of spells whenever they wanted to. Of course given that magic does not have to let you circumvent the rules of the game the answer is yes, it was just a fairly lackluster execution.

November 04, 2013
Posted by David Guyll


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