4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 304

  • Humal (level 4 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 4 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 4 elf rogue/ranger)

Despite no one daring them to, the characters decided to stay the night at the hastily abandoned, only very recently de-zombified keep. Well, everyone except Adair that is, who ventured off in search of his missing battle chicken.

While they were barricading the door, a dwarf arrived at the doorstep. She introduced herself as Corzale, and explained that she was looking for a band of dwarves that had traveled to the surface in order to wipe out a rash of worm-ridden undead that had been troubling them lately.

None of the characters had seen any other dwarves; they invited Corzale along for the return trip to Diamond Lake the next day, as it was both a mining town and the closest settlement to the keep. It was the only lead Corzale had, and safety in numbers, so she agreed.

Though nothing attacked them at the keep, during the three-day trek to Diamond Lake a pair of trolls ambushed them while they were trying to march through the night in an effort to put as much distance as they could between them and the swamp. The trolls more-or-less made it clear they just wanted to eat Corzale, since she smelled of gods. Of course the party objected, and after reducing the trolls to rubble they sought out as good a refuge as they could and rested for what remained of the night.

Their arrival at Diamond Lake was preceded by several gibbets, though this did little to prepare them for the sight of blackened corpses and stakes planted in the town square, and armored soldiers from the garrison patrolling the streets. Diamond Lake had been rife with crime and corruption for quite some time: what could have prompted such a response?

A brief exchange with a trio of soldiers implied that Balabar had been executed or driven off, and that the characters' presence was not welcome. Since Humal mentioned heading to a now vacated Blackwall Keep, the soldiers instructed them to visit the garrison and explain what transpired. Humal and Cenric did so, and once the debriefing was over Humal was warned against practicing necromancy on pain of death.

Having answered numerous questions and yet received only threats and warnings in response, it was time for them to visit Allustan.

Design Notes
First things first, if you're interested in playtesting FrankenFourthyou can see the current alpha document here (you can also see the Wound/Vitality and damage math for the first three levels).

Kelly, the player of Corzale, voiced his concerns about the current Wound/Vitality system after getting knocked deep into Wounds during the troll fight: namely he felt that characters should have more Vitality than Wounds. I don't think I've posted specifically about the Wound/Vitality split (or, at the least, explained why it's the way it is), so here goes.

Originally I had it so that everyone calculated Wounds the same way, something like 10+Constitution, while your class determined your Vitality. This meant that most characters started out the game with about 9-12 Wounds, and anywhere from 4-10 Vitality depending on class (basically using the class's Hit Dice from prior editions). As you leveled up, you gained flat amounts of Vitality using a rounded-up Hit Die average (ie, how it works in 5th Edition).

The idea was that over the course of the adventuring day you'd gradually lose Wounds until you eventually had to rest. At 1st-level this worked out fairly well. Characters were tougher than in previous editions, which was by design since A) magical healing isn't assumed, and B) magical healing isn't as readily available as it is in other D&D editions (and it can be both time- and money-consuming).

We noticed a problem within just a few levels: characters would get in a fight, take some damage, and get all their Vitality back when it was over. It was almost like playing 4E with infinite healing surges. Yeah, occasionally characters would take a bit of Wound damage, but so long as they survived they could take a short rest and get the majority of their points back.

The problem would only get worse the longer you played, as characters gained more Vitality and purchased better armor, so we quickly shifted the Wound/Vitality ratio to favor Wounds, and it's been going much better: characters get gradually worn down over the course of the adventuring day, but they still don't need a constant supply of magical healing just to get by.

Plus, I wanted to include kicker effects when characters suffer Wound damage (like venomous bites, blood drain, etc), and a bigger Wound point pool makes it easier without a character needing to be nearly dead.

So, lemme know what you think: do you agree, disagree, is there something we're overlooking, something else we could do with the system, etc?

We've added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library!

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster is out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World<

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