FrankenFourth: Druid & Fighter Playtest

  • Merric (3rd-level human fighter)
  • Pikala (3rd-level elf druid)

Merric and Pikala were hired by a village to investigate a mining village several days upstream, to figure out why the nearby river had gotten so polluted, which would probably also answer the question as to why a previous group they sent to investigate hadn't yet returned.

The further they ventured the more contaminated the river became, until it was a viscous, black sludge slowly oozing past them. When they finally arrived at the mining village, the affects of whatever had altered the river were so potent that not only was nothing growing within a considerable distance, even many of the nearby rocks were crumbling to dust.

The streets were empty and quiet. Merric checked a random house, and was not surprised to find only corpses within. Pikala examined them and determined that they had died from severe poisoning. They didn't bear any wounds, which caused her to suspect the river water. She couldn't imagine anyone drinking from it in its current state, but it was the only lead they had so they continued following it.

They soon arrived at what could generously be described as a waterfall sluggishly dripping out of a large opening. Stairs hewn into the mountain side wound up towards it, but before they could ascend several zombies crawled forth from the river and attacked. Pikala temporarily restrained a few with conjured roots, giving her and Merric time to whittle the other two down before the rest could shamble over.

During the fight Merric was poisoned by their bites, but Pikala assured him that its effects were only temporarily (albeit prolonged). Pikala healed his wounds, and once the effects of the poison wore off they climbed the stairs.

The interior of the cave was completely dark, though they could hear what sounded like picks chipping away at stone. Unsure what to expect, and wanting to keep their hands free, Merric lead the way with sparse light from his enchanted sword. They observed numerous branching paths, with a handful of zombies scattered about oddly focused on the task of mining. Rather than wander about, the pair continued to follow the river.

It led to a fetid pool that was fed by a downpour of presumably fresh, pure water from above. While exploring its edges for the source of the corruption a basilisk emerged from the filth. The dim light made it easier for them to avoid meeting its deadly gaze, though even cursory glances were sufficient to ravage their bodies.

Pikala bound it in thick roots once it crawled out of the pool, and Merric managed to blind one of its eyes before it was able to break free (making it easier still to evade its gaze), after which it began savagely tearing at him with its numerous teeth and claws.

Calling upon the last of her magic, Pikala healed Merric's wounds and cleansed some of the venom coursing through his veins, keeping him alive long enough to continue occupying the basilisk long enough for her to drive her spear through its head, and finally slay the foul beast.

Design Notes
The purpose of this playtest was to test out the druid, as well as a fighter geared around maneuvers (as opposed to being hyper-focused on dealing damage).

Melissa's character started with the Entangle, Wildshape, and Renewal talents. I realized afterwards that I should have given her a couple more talents, since the druid is based on the cleric, which gets two Domains plus Lance of Faith at 1st-level, buuut there's always next time.

She didn't use Wildshape at all due to the time requirement, so I'll probably end up reducing it to a single action. I considered allowing you to spend a point of Favor to speed things up, but since Favor is a per-day resource I don't foresee anyone bothering with that, either. I suppose I could ramp up the effects of Wildshape to make it more tempting, but then I don't want druids to just focus on that and stay in animal form all the time, either.

Entangle was great: she was able to damage each of the zombies in the first encounter, plus trap a couple for a round or two, which gave the characters some extra time to whittle the others down. It was even able to keep the basilisk tied up for a couple rounds.

As expected Renewal was useful: it's based on the cleric's Healing Domain talent, after all.

Adam and I discussed giving the fighter more talents, because right now it only gets one talent choice at 2nd-level: the other levels are eaten up by passive attack and damage bonuses, plus multiattack. I didn't want to have to further nerf the fighter, but I also didn't want to load up the other classes with more stuff, so we settled on a rule that allows fighters to swap out their damage bonus for a talent.

Even doing so twice (giving him the Bodyguard, Sweeping Strike, and Trip Attack talents), his character was still exceptionally effective, and his high AC and Damage Resistance gave him a good deal of staying power (except against the basilisk's gaze attack, which ignores all armor).

The basilisk is one example of many monsters that can be harvested upon death. In this case the PCs were able to get 100 sp worth of basilisk blood, and 40 sp worth of basilisk hide. Adam likened it to Monster Hunter, which someone else has noted, but the only PS3/PS4 versions I've seen are (so far) only available in Japan. I've seen people describe God Eater 2 as monster-hunter-ish, so I'm going to pick that up since it's only like $30.

One of the players in our Thursday game will be unable to play after a few more sessions until he can get his work schedule sorted out, which might take upwards of six months. So, we're looking for at least one other player, though since we'd only have two players even if/when he comes back you'd still be able to game with us.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it 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).

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