Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Cheers and see you again soon!
The land of Bakanoria, which would formerly have been considered a great mass of light in the worlds, has now been so cluttered with small dark spots that seeing the light requires at least low-light vision, if not darkvision. Numerous criminal organizations exist and do business regularly with each other. Most criminal organizations do some form of business with the government, work through the underground, and trade out of the harbor in Val’sata or one of the other port cities. A few of these are included below to give an idea for DM’s to produce their own criminal organizations for Bakanoria.
The Heralds of Wealth
Threat Level: Low
Leader: Guild Master Felix
Strength: Heroic Tier
The Heralds of Wealth a group of master thief-bards which perform in the Halls of Crescendia. They are masters of deception and steal from both the people and the government on a regular basis. They operate out of Val’sata and have bases outside the underground. Their main goals are to steal from the people as long as they can. Guild master Felix has good relations with the government and pays them regularly from the “legitimate” business dealings which he has outside of the country.
Encounter with The Heralds of Wealth
Location: The Underground
Terrain: Dark Lit Area with rocky banks on either side of an underground river.
Setup: The Player’s have chased a group of bandits down one of The Singing Wells.
Enemies: A party of level appropriate NPC villains. Encounter Level can vary as needed. Party of Villains includes:
1x Bard – Wizard
2x Bard – Fighter
2x Bard – Rogue
Aftermath: The players are left to explore The Underground and see where it leads or resurface and face the consequence of climbing down the well.
Headquarters: Val’sata and the Underground
Threat Level: Low-Medium
Leader: Mistress Elvira, Song Dragon
Strength: Paragon Tier
The sisterhood is a group of hags that have blended into the population. At night, while everyone is partying, The Sisterhood coax drunken men into following them off. They then poison the men and steal them off to be sold into slavery in other countries. Occasionally they simply kill the men, but they are very careful not to leave any traces of their attacks. The government has close ties with The Sisterhood, as they are an integral part of the outfitting of the missionaries within the country; they run an importing business for the government which brings in weapons and armor for the new missionary recruits in the church. The sisterhood’s ranks are bolstered by Songborn Dracoliches; former song dragons, which have been turned into liches by The Sisterhood, but still retain their ability to speak all languages and change shape. They follow the orders of the sisterhood for some reasons, unknown even to all but the highest members.
Encounter with The Sisterhood
Location: In the streets of Bakanoria
Terrain: Night time, low-light, small compact alley way or cul-de-sac with boxes of wine littering the street.
Setup: The Player’s have caught a Hag of The Sisterhood in the act of murdering one of her prey.
Round 1: 1 Death Hag (Level 18 Soldier, MM 152)
Round 3: 3 Night Hags (Level 14 Lurker, MM 152), 1 Dracolich in Human Form (Level 18 Solo Controller, MM 73).
Round 4: Dracolich assumes its natural dragon form.
Total Encounter Level 19.
Aftermath: The players are surrounded by broken bottles of wine, the faded corpses of four individuals that look to be long dead, and one fresh body.
The Poisoned Land
Threat Level: High
Leader: Zehir, god of Snakes
Strength: Epic Tier
The Poisoned Land could be better described as an army rather than a criminal organization, because their numbers rise into the tens of thousands. They have developed a massive underground that is unknown even to the other criminal elements within the country. Nobody within Bakanoria would benefit by their goals being met. They have soldiers ranging from every manner of Yuan-ti, Naga, and Snaketounge. If they accomplish their plan, the entire nation of Bakanoria will fall. The army is said to be lead by Zehir himself and that he desire to destroy the nation of agricultural success, but this may or may not be true.
Encounter with The Poisoned Land
Location: The now blighted land of Bakanoria.
Terrain: Day or Night, the streets are filled with the running and screaming masses of now sober individuals as they face the threat of total annihilation, they make it difficult to maneuver about the battlefield.
Setup: The Player Characters have been unable to prevent the Yuan-ti from carrying out their final solution. The vineyards have all withered up and died and the hordes of snake people have begun sweeping over the country from The Underground. The players are caught in the middle of the massacre of Bakanoria.
3 Yuan-ti Anathema (Level 21 Elite Skirmishers, MM 272)
1 Death Knight, Snaketongue [use Dragonborn] Paladin of Zehir (Level 24 Elite Soldier, MM 52)
1 Primordial Naga (Level 25 Solo Artillery MM 196)
Total Encounter Level 27.
Aftermath: More bloody battles with the Yuan-ti until the players can find a way to strike at the leader or gain divine aid.
Rumors, Legends and Plots
The following provides history check results for the country of Bakanoria. They are divided up by tier and the DC’s are provided. Note: Some of the DC’s for information are the same, the DC’s are meant to provide some knowledge for adventure hooks. Knowledge checks in one tier should not be provided to heroes in the tier below unless that party is on the brink of reaching playability in the tier above as some of the knowledge provided in upper tiers may lead the players on adventures in which they are not capable of success.
Common Knowledge DC 14
Bakanoria is a land full of bards that relies on wine for trade and sustenance. The country worships the dragon goddess Crescendia who is rumored to lived somewhere in the country.
Expert Knowledge DC 16
The government of Bakanoria has many laws which are strict about bringing goods into the country. They also have tough laws regarding immigration, but the government is lax on crime and criminal organizations move with ease throughout the country. There are rumored to be several large criminal organization located centrally in the capital of Val’sata.
Expert Knowledge DC 18
The group Compos Mentis, while in the public and government view is nothing more than a group of doomsayers and party spoilers, is in fact a group of knight-bards which police the country seeking out the criminal element and attempting to destroy it. They are always in need of new members and would gladly appreciate the help of those looking to join.
Master Knowledge DC 20
Compos Mentis has begun training young people in combat so that they might defend themselves against invasion, but their militia building movement has yet to take root as they are generally looked down on by the public.
Master Knowledge DC 22
It is rumored among the students at the school that Jack was in fact the first basis for the term “Jack of All Trades,” but this is simply speculation and holds no factual support; however Jack’s unnatural age and proficiency in a number of different schools of combat, both arcane, divine, and martial, has given to speculation about his origins.
Common Knowledge DC 22
The goddess Crescendia, is a song dragon that takes the form of a beautiful silver haired woman and walks among the people at night and spends the days sleeping and singing in her den deep in the mountains. From her den, the music of the singing wells is produced. Some of her offspring are said to exist in the country as well.
Expert Knowledge DC 24
The government of Bakanoria is blind to the criminal organizations in Bakanoria. They receive payment from many of the organizations which have licenses to trade on behalf of the state outside the country. They view this money not as bribery, but rather as the money they have earned by putting their trust in the hands of individuals deserving of it; they are not willing to accept that these people are in fact evil unless presented with a great deal of solid proof.
Expert Knowledge DC 26
The criminal groups in Bakanoria use the Singing Wells as a means of smuggling and accessing the underground. The underground passages make a perfect route for traveling throughout the country as they are not accessed by any of the good upstanding citizens for fear of disturbing the songs of the goddess, however this fear is unfounded and no such disturbance occurs. One of these organizations is supposedly kidnapping men from town to town and selling them into slavery in other countries.
Expert Knowledge DC 28
The massive number of new missionaries in the country is actually an elaborate lie fed to the church by The Sisterhood who is in fact kidnapping the men to sell them into slavery.
Master Knowledge DC 30
The Sisterhood is in fact led by one of the daughters of Crescendia who was spurned by her mother. Elvira desires to bring pain to her mother any chance she gets and has drawn a group of hags together in order to better accomplish this.
Common Knowledge DC 30
The leader of the Musical Institute of Liena, Hans Archibald the 3rd, a wiry man of fantastic musical intellect, but quiet in word, is said to know the location of the dragon goddess’s den, but he has never spoken word of this to anyone.
Expert Knowledge DC 32
The Battle Criers have lost much of the potency which they once had and now the countries defenses are not nearly as potent as they once were. This fact is known to some of the criminal factions in the city, but The Battle Criers do not know it themselves.
Expert Knowledge DC 34
The Poisoned Land, a sect of yuanti worshipers to the god Zehir have established a plot to overthrow the entire country of Bakanoria from underneath. They are biding their time and preparing to strike at all locations throughout the country at once, by poisoning the ground itself thereby blighting the grape trade. In the chaos, they will strike and wipe out the entire populace when they are at their weakest.
Master Knowledge DC 36
Jack Stringer, the founder of the stringer school and voice of the people, has been around since the nations founding. He is neither human nor undead, but a construct formed by Crescendia to do her bidding. He is actually a mindless puppet of the goddess.
Godly Knowledge DC 38
The goddess Crescendia does not see her people and followers as particularly important, but rather feels that they are small, insignificant pieces of a giant celestial prank. She has no intention of saving her people should they face ultimate destruction, but rather views this occurrence as the punch line in her masterfully crafted joke. Jack Stringer was once her lover, before the country was founded and it was he who uttered the words that would convince Crescendia to found the nation of Bakanoria. After his death, the goddess was so severely pained by her loss, she forged a magical body from the mold of a warforged and gifted it with human skin; she wrenched the soul of Jack Stringer back from the afterlife and forced it into the mechanical shell. In this form, the bard has lived for centuries alongside his eternal lover and companion. Together they have plotted the joke that is Bakanoria, they have watched its rise, and are waiting with anticipation its eventual fall. They have no intention of helping aid the country if it should fall under threat of destruction. Should someone get in the way of the nation’s downfall, they may take revenge on those individuals for interfering in their prank.
Well, there is one more part left. It is my take on Song Dragons in 4e, combined with the summary of the entry and my thoughts on what i would have liked to do better. Hopefully that will be a wrap on this one.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Bakanorian People and Background
Most Bakanorians are human. Most Bakanorians choose to follow the path of the bard, which is the most highly praised profession of the church. All Bakanorians have slightly darker skin, tanned from the constant sunlight that the country is blessed by. Human Bakanorian men tend to be a bit fatter, as a result of the constant drinking, but Bakanorian women tend to have curvy figures and wider hips. Most Bakanorians have dark hair. Bakanorian farmers have strong, lean muscles toned from picking grapes all day. All Bakanorians are raised to appreciate wine from an early age as part of both their culture, thus they have an unnatural strength when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Bakanorians are virtually all high-spirited and good natured people who are willing to lend a hand to people in need. Bakanorian people are naturally good singers as well as natural story tellers, though when they are in the midst of story telling, they are prone to stretch the truth for purposes of entertainment. Bakanorian people are also very trusting, but when their trust is broken, they tend to hold grudges against that individual for far longer than others.
Add Diplomacy and Endurance to your class skills list and gain a +1 Bonus with Diplomacy and Endurance checks.
Politics, The Church, and Political Organizations
The Church of Crescendia
Leader: The Theocratic Council of Vintners
Strength: Paragon Tier
The first people to inhabit Bakanoria were worshippers of the Elder Song Dragon Crescendia. Following her commandments, they began to establish wineries and structured vineyards to harvest the grapes that grew throughout the land and turn them into wine. After the founding of Val’sata and the nation’s growth, The Council of Vintners was formed as the ruling body of Bakanoria. There are currently 9 members on the Council of Vintners. The people have no say in who is or is not appointed to the council and there is no limit or minimum number of people that may sit on the council, or what manner of person or beast may obtain a council seat. Currently, only one non-human, a single dragonborn bard occupies a chair on the council, but he is highly respected and will probably become the head of the council in the near future.
No trade agreements can be made without having the church’s approval. The council controls the entire manufacture of wine within the country and the ownership of a winery or vineyard is strictly controlled. Each of the council members has a massive vineyard and winery to themselves, but other high ranking members of the church are granted the right to own vineyards as well. Note however that the Council controls these vineyards, but they give the vast majority of the profits back to the people through one medium or another.
In Bakanoria, all the citizens that work on the vineyards receive a salary each month for their service. Missionaries also receive a salary which is slightly higher, providing greater incentive to travel and preach.
Missionaries of Crescendia are also large in number as the general tenants of the church mandate that joy be spread to all people anywhere. Most missionaries carry a good deal of this holy water on them so that the people might sample of its pleasures as an incentive to change locales.
As Crescendia’s law commands that her followers drink and make fools of themselves, the government has created some special laws to protect the wine trade. The legal system however leaves something to be desired. Most laws are not strictly monitored; in most cases, the people that do the monitoring are in no sense capable of monitoring anything but the inside of their eye-lids. Lesser crimes can be negotiated out of on the by simply claiming intoxication; in these cases most times people are let off with a warning.
The following are a list of laws particular to Bakanoria which extend beyond the basic murder is bad, don’t do it common sense laws of other nations:
#1 Harming the Vines
No person should willfully do harm to any of the grapes that grow in the country.
#2 Interfering with Trade
No person shall interfere with the trade of wine in the country.
#3 Speaking Out Against the Government
No person shall speaks out against the Council of Vintners.
#4 Spreading Rumors of Danger or Impending Doom
No person shall spread rumors of danger or attempt to stir a panic.
#5 Profaning the Goddess
No person shall profanes the goddess.
All individuals must follow proper procedures for entry into Bakanoria.
All goods are subject to inspection and confiscation when entering the country. Confiscated goods are returned when an individual wishes to depart.
#8 Trafficking in Disease
All sick persons entering the country, or any person possessing a communicable disease is subject to quarantine or deportation.
#9 Entering a Singing Well
No person shall enter a Singing Well.
Individuals found in violation of these laws are almost always punished without any chance for appeals, but confinement is prosecuted in church dungeons that are not difficult to escape from and the law enforcement has the nasty habit of not being able to recognize repeat offenders. Criminals often escape from the dungeons immediately following their imprisonment. Death sentences are carried out on rare occasions in the dungeons without any public knowledge, but only on very severe crimes.
The Voice of the People
Leader: Jack Stringer
This group was formed so that the Theocratic council of Vintners could more easily hear, and respond to the needs of the people which had spread out across the country. As the people do not have a vote in how the money they earn for the government is spent, it is left to the Voice of the People to inform the council of Vintners what the people need and want; it has no combat powers beyond the basic strength of the country’s peasantry, except for its leader Jack, an ex-council member who is arguably the most powerful person in Bakanoria save for the goddess and her children; his unnaturally long life is a thing of legends in Bakanoria, he has been the head of this organization since the nation’s founding. He is still greatly respected and honored by the Council.
Each town has a delegate which reports to Jack, who then in turn approaches the council with the problems of the people. The council does for the people what they can, but the people don’t always get what they want.
The Battle Criers
Leader: The Theocratic Council of Vintners
The Battle Crier’s are technically a leaderless group of church ritualists that report to the Theocratic Council of Vintners. They were formed out of a need the church saw to protect their country from invasion, but lacking the necessary elements to build a well trained army, most of the people would be too drunk to lift a sword, they began work on a musical spell that could be sung by the Church ritualists.
The ritual which they wield, “The Song of Triumph” is a massive battle hymn which is performed in unison by all members of The Battle Criers. They alone possess its secrets. When it was last used, it completely destroyed an entire fleet of snake-tongue pirates that sought to sink the Bakanorian trade fleet and make off with their wine. Since then, no nation has challenged the defensive capabilities of Bakanoria; this has meant a great peace for the nation over the years, but it has also meant that the Bakanorian military has become fat, bloated, and prideful in the thought that their ritualistic power is completely without compare anywhere else in the world. They are unfortunately mistaken. While years ago, the rituals power was incomparable, the ritualists have become lazy and drunk and now lack most of the strength they formerly possessed. Though they themselves do not know this, others might…
Many non-political organizations exist within Bakanoria, many music schools and art schools dot the coast line, but the following organizations are of particular importance.
The Stringer School
Leader: Jack Stringer
Strength: Paragon Tier / Epic Tier
The Bardic school of Val’sata, named the Stringer School after Jack Stringer its founder, and current dean, was established so that the country might train missionaries to travel the world and sing the praises of Crescendia, but it does not fall under direct jurisdiction of the church. Every student of the school aspires to one day be “Just like Jack,” a true master of all trades. The school is home to many bards who live there and study under teachers of different classes in order to do better in missionary service. The school has attracted teachers ranging from former thieves, wizards, fighters, rangers, paladins, warlords, and even warlocks; all of them converted to the teachings of Crescendia and share their knowledge and past experiences with their students. Only the primal classes are not represented in some way at the school. The school is free and entrance to the school is open to visiting students wishing to train temporarily under one of the masters or permanent students wishing to become missionaries of the state.
The Musical Institute of Liena
Leader: Hans Archibald the 3rd
The Musical Institute of Liena not only manufactures some of the most ornate and beautiful musical instruments anywhere in the planes, but also is the center for teaching of musical theory and practice. They possess no military strength. The institute, lies in the city of Liena not far from the dragon goddesses den, but they don’t know of its location, nor does anyone else…
Leader: Knight Lord Tien’hor
Strength: Heroic/Paragon Tier
Compos Mentis was founded recently, seeing a need to drive out the evil forces which are going untouched by the government. They are also called the Sober Sect by the masses. Compos Mentis is a small knightly order which is led by former council member Tien’hor. They can be best described as a vigilante police brigade and are often the brunt of governmental harm for the help they are trying to do. They are allowed to exist because of their leaders former connections within the council. They hold that happiness without happiness is not really happiness at all. The public views their actions, for the most part as a group of troublesome party crashes, whose sole existence is to kill their buzzes. This is in part because the church does all it can to squelch any rumors of lurking evil in the hopes that it will keep the people from seeing reality, and to keep Compos Mentis from actually being a Buzz Kill. The ranks of Compos Mentis are mostly multi-classed Bard - Knight Protectors of various levels throughout the paragon tier. Initiates into Compos Mentis are usually Fighter – Bards or Bard – Fighters in the middle heroic tier. The order wields shields and swords, but all members carry a set of pipes which they use to sound the alarm or signal other members of the order.
Next time in Part 4 of the series i will show some of the Criminal Organizations as well as some encounters / hooks. Stay Tuned
Friday, June 26, 2009
I would love to get a hold of Santa from Customer Service. Who wouldn't want to just make him a regular villain in their games? I know i would.
Here is the link:
Here are some links to this so you know I’m not crazy…
Link to the competition at wizards:
Link to the competition at RYZ wear:
What does this say? Well, for a long time I have been under the impression that Wizards of the Coast is doing everything they can to mainstream Dungeons and Dragons and make it “cool.” It makes sense from a business perspective to make the game more appealing to the masses by getting rid of the nerdy pen and paper elements and making the game as electronic and consumer friendly as possible. D&Di is a big part of this; adding revenants back into the game and making the Raven Queen more important, while having basis in prior editions, seem to be an attempt at piggy-backing off the success of Blizzard with The Scourge in World of Warcraft. If Wizards saw the kind of user numbers and money that Blizzard was seeing they would never have a money problem. Ever. What do shoes have to do with this then? Well, how many gamers care what they are wearing. I’m not saying that gamers don’t usually have good style sense…wait, I am. Designing a pair of custom kicks seems like something that wouldn’t be something a pen and paper RPG company like this would do; if you’re going to make something for Nerds T-Shirts and Sweat-shirts like those sold by JINX are the way to go. Very few gamers realistically want to spend over a hundred dollars on a pair of shoes when they could easily spend that money on new books for their games, it just isn’t practical for appealing to this group, in my opinion.
I guess I myself don’t fall into this category because I consider shoe fashion to be one of the things I pride myself on. I have well over twenty pairs. I have been called a girl on many an occasion for it. I have custom sets of converse weapons. I have custom Nike’s and I have custom slip-ons from Vans of every color and variety. Maybe I am just the type of person that Wizards is trying to appeal to… perhaps they are being very successful in this new marketing, but the reason that they are successful is because I am highly susceptible to fashion and trying to look cool, call me a lemming if you will, but I live in a city where 50% of the women riding a given train at one time are all carrying Luis Vitton bags, regardless of whether or not they had to mortgage their tiny house to get them. If Wizards of the Coast is trying to make Dungeons and Dragons fashionable and cool, where will it take them in the actual game department? Will they make an attempt at doing nerd makeovers? Where will the madness stop?
Will you be designing a pair of sneaks for the competition? I would love to give it a try, but my tragic lack of any artistic skills or media to work with on this would probably be a big problem.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Is Making Compatibility a Dump Stat Really Necessary? by Exchange of Realities
He makes a great point. There are things as a player you shouldn't do. The above is one of them. It kind of makes me want to start a series on de-optimizing your group as examples of things that you shouldn't sacrifice to have a better time, because when you sacrifice them, everyone suffers.
Fighting Your Way Through a Big and Changing World Part 1
Where would Steampunk be without its toys, and by toys I mean GUNS! The weapons of the steam powered era got a whole lot more deadly as soon as your average thug could pick up a one shot pistol and have your shiny new brass pocket-watch before you had a chance to offer him your wind up dog instead. Thus begins a battle of escalation… if the pick-pocket is carrying a one shot pistol, you better be carrying a steam powered, rotary gatling gun (no joke, there are lots of these in Steampunk).
Gunpowder had already been a part of the technological timeline for over two hundred years at least by the time Steampunk had its dawn, so the technology behind firearms had already been well established, it just meant that now, things could get more serious when you put Steam power behind it.
For the most part, nobody carries a bow and arrow around anymore, maybe a steam powered bow with a grappling hook and a scope, but probably not your run of the mill, powered by muscles, stereotypical elf-wielded longbow. Guns are this ages bread and butter. If you wanted to put guns into your Steampunk world, it wouldn’t take more than a little reflavoring to get things working really, since most things in the world scale when you add in these elements.
If you want a good starting point to make your own Steampunk era guns, try using the 3.5 Dungeon Master’s Guide. In it, there are several guns all laid out for you to use in your variant historical setting. I used these as basis for some of my early games before I took a crack at developing my own gats.
Now on to these fine pieces of death…
First, since we’re developing new weapons that don’t exist in the current setup of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, we’ve got to give them a weapon group.
Weapon Group – Guns: Steam or black-powder powered weapons which have explosive and random tendencies.
Now, since the era is one where guns have spread like wildfire and are not something out of the ordinary, there isn’t any reason for them all being superior weapons. In standard fantasy era games, bows and crossbows are iconic weapons of the era, but variations on them may be easier or more difficult to use; the same holds true for guns. So, breaking them down by category seems like a good thing to do.
Thinking about how guns work in comparison to crossbows is a good place to start. The damage is probably higher on a gun, bullets tend to do more damage when they lodge themselves inside of something and move around inside the body then standard crossbow bolts which remain static and can easily be removed. The time it takes to load is also different; standard black-powder guns took a fairly long time to load. I would say that the standard load time would be about equivalent to a move action. This would still give you time to load and fire in the same round, but it makes sense from the perspective that basic pistols and rifles didn’t have the capability to do rapid fire in a single round. Skilled players can take feats to reduce these load times, just like a skilled player can take feats to reduce the load time on a crossbow.
So with these thoughts in mind, here are some guns for your viewing and using pleasure (note I’ve left out the prices because this really varies the most because it is almost entirely world based):
Simple Ranged, One Handed
Range 10 / 20
Weight 2 Pounds
Properties: Versatile, High Crit, Load Move, Bullets
This is the iconic pistol of pirates and swashbucklers. It is muzzle loaded and fires a spherical bullet. It can be used one handed, but because of its significant size can also be wielded two-handed for better lethality.
Simple Ranged, Two Handed
Range 20 / 40
Weight 6 Pounds
Properties: High Crit, Load Move, Bullets
This gun is fired from the shoulder, has a long iron barrel, and is loaded from the muzzle. It is effective at long range, but isn’t as accurate as some other firearms. It fires round iron bullets, the same as those fired by the pistol.
Range: 5 / -
Weight 10 Pounds
Properties: High Crit, Load Standard, Spread 2
This gun is fired from the waist and is useless at anything but close range. It does however pack a serious punch and because it fires a spread of small shots, the blast is very powerful and deadly to multiple enemies. The Blunderbuss uses gundpoweder but can be loaded with various types of ammunition, from gravel, to metal shavings to sand, all of which are effective.
Military Ranged, One Handed
Weight .5 Pounds
Properties: Off-hand, Load Minor, 2 Shots, Shells
This tiny pistol can easily be concealed do to its size. It has a pair of barrels which can each hold a single small encased bullet which makes reloading easier. Due to its size, the Suicide Pistol doesn’t deal as much damage as a normal gun.
Range 4 / -
Weight 4 Pounds
Properties: High Crit, Versatile, Load Standard, Spread 1
Similar to the Blunderbuss in construction, this small single handed version of the weapon can be used two-handed for better efficiency. What is sacrficies in power and spread, it makes up for with its size and weight.
Military Ranged, Two-Handed
Range 20 / 40
Weight 5 Pounds
Properties: High Crit, Load Minor, Shells
This improved version of the musket fires bullets incased in shells which are pre-loaded with gunpowder, similar to those of the suicide pistol. It’s lighter weight makes it harder to use, but it is more accurate and still effective at the same range.
Range 7 / -
Properties: High Crit, Load Move, Shells, Spread 1
This improved version of the blunderbuss fires a more concentrated burst but with higher damage and effective range.
Superior Ranged, Two Handed
Range 25 / 50
Weight 6 Pounds
Properties: High Crit, Load Move
This version of the rifle has a greater effective range and also deals slightly more damage than a standard rifle, but its length makes it unwieldy and more specialized to use.
Spread: This weapon fires a spray of bullets which travel up to their maximum effective range and can hit anyone in line of sight. Add squares next to the target up the spread value then draw line of site to these squares as well as the intended target. Roll to hit anyone that is in line of sight to any of these squares.
That concludes the first part Steampunk firearms, the black powder goodness. In the next part of my Steampunk series, I’ll go into making them more… how should I say… steamy??? The weapons have to get beefed up somehow and there are plenty more specialized superior weapons to be had.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Bakanoria’s largest population group is that of humans. Humans were the original founders of the nation and they are the primary farm workers. Very rarely will any other race be found working in the field, unless they are married to a human of the realm. Half-elves are the exception to this, as their free spirited nature draws them to the realm for agricultural and farming work. Gnomes and Halflings are often found wandering about the main cities; they are skilled bards and come from all around in order to be appreciated by the people. Dwarves are not uncommon in the country and have their own ales and beer trade. They are almost never seen tending to the wine; however their beer and ale production is appreciated by the church as an extra form of income and is prized by the people when they are looking for a change of pace in their drinking habits. Although few Dragonborn reside in the country, they are virtually all loved by the people as they are considered to be relatives of the goddess. Dragonborn bards of Crescendia are considered to be extremely holy and next to godliness. All other races are sparse in numbers with several exceptions. Elves and Eladrin are almost completely non-existent in the country as they see themselves too proud to be associating with a bunch of drunkards. Tieflings as well as other darker and monstrous races are scorned by the populace and are not allowed into the Halls of Crescendia.
Bakanoria is a nation of virtually all bards. Every member of the clergy is trained either primarily or secondarily as a bard. All of the nations defense forces are trained bards which rely on a music based ritual to defend the nation from attack. Bards make up more than 80% of the population of the country. Other common classes in Bakanoria are spellcasters of all kinds, both divine and arcane. Also, multi-class bard paladins are very common throughout the country as both missionaries and clergy-men. Fighters are common as well; they are praised in the country for their valiant feats of bravery which have been the subject of so many bardic tales. Clerics to the goddess Crescendia are very common, however clerics of other gods and goddess are almost non-existent. Druids and other primal classes are uncommon in Bakanoria. They exist in small numbers along the coast and are there temporarily as a stop-over when traveling to some other country.
The Unrecognized and Unseen Population
All of the above concerns the population recognized by the government and the public. A massive, literal underground exists in Bakanoria as well. In the underground scorned races abound. They are virtually all of some evil inclinations and wish to either do some kind of harm to the populace, or profit off their drunken blindness.
The Goddess Crescendia and her Followers
Good Lesser Deity
Crescendia is an ancient song dragon, rumored to be almost as old and powerful as the dragon gods themselves, however her non-combative nature and her love of telling stories has kept her out of the conflicts between the other dragon gods, Bahamut and Tiamat. Many of her worshippers are not even aware of their prayers to the goddess: every time a man or woman lifts his voice in song, she hears them; every time someone lifts a glass of wine to their lips, she tastes it; every time someone tells a joke, she laughs; every time someone tells a story of bravery or legend, whether its true or not, she listens with her whole heart. Crescendia is a goddess to those that otherwise, would be godless. She is a lord of poetry, songs, drinking, merriment, and in general, joy. Although Crescendia has no official prayer, numerous drinking songs exist in her honor. She would also be considered, by many, as the patron goddess of wine, as she is of the belief that wine facilitates all other joys that come out of human creativity, compassion, and love. Although she generally wishes to see her people joyous and prospering, she has been known by other gods to be a jokester of massive proportions, with many of her pranks taking centuries to come together completely and end up in catastrophic punch-lines. Although Cresendia is a massive elder dragon, she mostly takes the form of a beautiful woman, with long, silver hair, so that she might walk easily among the people and enjoy their laughter with them. She has been known to take mortal lovers as well as marry them, but her immortal life span, when compared with that of her mates, means that she has done this many times. The offspring of these unions were the original song dragons, which now propagate the world, although few would notice, as they too, prefer to take human form and blend in with the public. Crescendia’s commandments include:
Drink in life until not a drop is left.
Sing to lift your spirits.
Laugh to enlighten your soul.
Crescendia’s holy symbol is that of the profile of a laughing dragon drinking wine from a goblet.
The followers of the song dragon goddess amount to approximately 90% of Bakanoria’s population, but the one’s she holds most dear are the bards who sing and tell stories in her name. The cleric’s of her church virtually all have some form of bardic or musical training so that they might better serve; her cleric’s also have penchant for over-indulging in the intoxication of wine, which only brings more joy to the goddess. One thing to note however about Crescendia’s followers is their general lack of perception, which at first would indicate a general stupidity of the populace, but in fact is indicative of their blatant over-indulgence in her holy water. The people are no dumber than anyone else, but they are simply drunk most of their lives. This has caused the followers of Crescndia to have the bad reputation of treating everyone as a drinking buddy.
Bakanoria has few religious holidays, but those that exist are fiercely popular and all work comes to a crashing halt on these days. In keeping with her religious tenants, these holidays are meant to be an entertaining relief from the work of farming. The entire populace empties their homes during these occasions and joins in giant parties, banquets and dances, all in addition to whatever the actual event may be. The Festival of Song is held in Val’sata and is a week long event of music. The Festival of Wine lasts several days and is celebrated throughout the country. Two other events of note (mainly because they form challenges to the players) are: The Drunken Tournament and Storyteller’s Eve
The Drunken Tournament
The Drunken Tournament was conceived after one of Crescendia’s favorite past times: watching the drunken brawls that happen in taverns. The tournament could better be described as the bar fight days. The tournament happens twice a year, once in the winter, and once in the summer. Although the tournament does involve fighting, it is relegated to non-lethal combat only. Anybody wising to partake in the tournament simply gathers at one of the Halls of Crescendia and waits for the tournament to begin. When all entrants have been approved, the tournament starts. All competitors drink as much wine as they can and then they beat the tar out of each other with their fists until nobody is left standing. The crowd chooses a winner based on who drank the most while fighting the hardest. The winner from each hall is given gifts by the church for their fighting spirit and songs are sung of their glorious combat for the following years.
Entering in the Tournament – Skill Challenge for Both Heroic and Paragon Tier
Player Characters Wishing to Join the Tournament need but wait outside one of the Halls of Crescendia on the night of the tournament, if they choose to compete in one of the main cities, such as Val’sata or any other city along the coast, the challenge becomes paragon tier as the opponents are greater in number and more powerful than those located in the farmlands. They must strip themselves of all armor, weapons, and magic items. They then engage in a complex skill challenge to see who if they can be victorious.
Number Entrants: 5 in heroic tier and 10 in paragon tier.
Base Skill Ranks for non-player entrants 10 for Heroic tier combatants and 17 for Paragon entrants.
Complexity Level 6 (something i made up)
The first part of this skill challenge is the drinking component. The Player must make a series of endurance tests to see how many drinks they can put away. The DC of the Endurance Check starts at 15 in heroic tier and 20 in Paragon tier. Each time the player succeeds on one of these checks, the player suffers a cumulative -2 penalty to further skill checks during the tournament for endurance, athletics, and acrobatics. The player keeps making endurance checks until they have failed 6 times. The number of times they succeeded is recorded. While the player is doing this, the DM is doing this as well for each entry into the combat.
Once the drinking portion of the skill challenge is complete, the player enters into drunken combat. The athletics skill is used to attack other competitors, endurance is used to defend against their attacks, and acrobatics checks are used to gain crowd favor. The player can attempt to perform at most three acrobatics attempts during the combat. If the player is attacked, he must make an opposed endurance check against the opponent. I fhe attacks someone else, the same is true in reverse. The fight lasts until all combatants have failed 6 checks. Every time the player succeeds on a check, he records that. The DM records all successes for the other combatants. When the fight is over, the combatant with the most amounts of successes in both the drinking portion and fighting portion is declared the winner.
Rewards for winning the tournament are left up to the DM’s discretion, however they should be both tangible in the form of gold or magic items, as well as non-tangible such as fame, or friends within the higher ranks of the church (in the case of paragon tier).
Story Teller’s Eve
Although Crescendia favors song, she is just as keen to hear a good story as sing one. On Story Teller’s Eve, the Singing Wells fall silent for the only time each year. Bards from all around the world gather around the wells to tell stories of daring, legends of bravery, and tales of horror. On Story Teller’s Eve, Crescendia sits inside her den listening to every story told by every bard in her country. At dawn, when all the stories have finished, Crescendia herself, sings a song to the bard who told the greatest story. More than one bard has fainted and nearly died of pure joy from hearing the goddess praise him so highly. The names of these bards are hung in the Stringer School and the excellence of their abilities is praised for eternity. It is said that winners of the tournament are often visited personally by the goddess in the future.
Telling A Story - The Story Teller’s Eve event is an epic level skill challenge of complexity 4. The player can make use of Bluff, Diplomacy, and any knowledge based skills in order to weave the story and win over the crowd. The DC of each check is34. The player should be encouraged to role play out his story before the other players in the party. The player must make 10 successes before 5 failures. If he is successful, he is considered victorious by the goddess and she sings a song praising him of his tale. The goddess will also appear before him on the following day to meet him in person.
In the next part i'll post up player backgrounds for people from Bakanoria as well as some of the organizations. Stay tuned for part 3!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
In this part 1 of my series on Steampunk, i'll be taking a look at cosplay around the net and giving some commentaries on how that reflects on the Steampunk genre.
Some of my friends are ardent Steampunk cosplayers and have been professionally photographed at the Anime Expo in southern California as well as other conventions (they have been trying to get me to do it for years, but I’m a bit too shy for that). The images that exist in the steam-punk genre for inspiration are nearly endless. Try google searching steam-punk cosplay on the internet and see what images come up… I’ll wait… ok, you found them. There are tons! Steampunk fashion and Steampunk culture are a huge rage, especially out here in Japan, where it is going strong, despite its origins in jolly old England (funny how western concepts tend to cross over into Japan).
If you look at Steampunk cosplay, you can really see a lot of what constitutes steam punk fashion. Here are some of my observations, maybe yours will be different.
19th Century Eat Your Heart out!
When it comes to Steampunk fashion, the basics often get overlooked. Steampunk guys are often seen wearing what accounts for today’s business dress: Suit Jackets, white, collared button up shirts, vests, pinstripes, black leather boots, black leather gloves. If you look back to 19th century fashion and pictures of true gentlemen, cover that with dirt, and then add in some brass, you’re golden! I like watching remakes of Dickenson books and looking at the clothes, or if you’re interested in something a bit more fun, try watching the movie “Sweeny Todd,” the new one with Captain Jack. That is a great place to get a look at period clothing.
The same can really be said for women, look at period clothing from movies like this and you’ll get all kinds of info: corsets, big billowing dresses, dark colors, leather, tight pants. For women’s fashion, taking a bit from the gothic department, dirtying it up, and taking some of the depression and sense of self-hate out of it, you have a pretty good starting point for what women’s Steampunk fashion looks like.
The basics however are definitely not what makes Steampunk, nor from just period clothes can you possibly see Steampunk in your head. This brings me to the main point of Steampunk fashion…
Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!
When it comes to Steampunk, you can never have too many accessories, and rarely is something to gaudy, as long as it looks and feels mechanical. Hats are one of the least mechanical looking things that you can see in Steampunk fashion, but they are almost always a necessity. Big top hats seem to be all the rage in this made up timeline of history, but they were a pretty big part of that era’s fashion. Top hats are great for guys or gals, and if you tilt one of the side of your head, you look cool and sassy. Big top hats on guys are always a good thing, little ones for girls can be great too. Steampunk Abraham Lincoln is a really popular image that floats around the internet; aim for that size hat. News boy hats are also a good thing. The newspaper, which was getting its start in the era of steam power, was probably the starting point for these (or at least for the name).
Watches are a big part of Steampunk (and consequently the other half to the Carnial this month… kind of). Clocks, specifically the wind up ones with lots of gears are a big part of Steampunk fashion. The pocket watch, the wrist watch, either can become an integral part of a proper Steampunk getup. The more exposed gears the better; this proves that you are really hardcore into the mechanic business.
Eyewear is also a big part of Steampunk fashion. Glasses with multiple lenses to see things that are up close and far away are a major player in a proper Steampunk outfit. I can kind of imagine why… all the time spent in the workshop building and messing with your contraption, reading that newspaper that you just got hot off the presses, and years spent without anything but candlelight before that wonderful invention of the light bulb are all reasons why people from the Steampunk era might have bad eyesight. Goggles are another big part of Steampunk fashion, probably for similar reasons with glasses; you have to keep the grease and sparks out of your eyes somehow and if that steam builds up and blows up in your face you’re going to want to have something keeping those retinas of yours in tact. Remember, as per the above, the more exposed gears, valves, levers, gauges the better.
Big Leather Boots. Not much to say there. The more big the more better. Depending on how far you go into the Steampunk genre, and how high powered you want to be, adding mechanical elements to things like boots, that might not serve a purpose in today’s society can be a good idea. The streets back then were filthy remember, steam powered automatic boot cleaners could be a nifty contraption.
Jewelry which features gears and moving parts is also a very good thing, to quote Martha Stewart, who I have always believed to be half steam powered machine anyways.
Belts, while not always seen up close, are a big part of Steampunk fashion in an important way. Belts are where you keep your tools! As well as all your other miniature goodies. Think batman with less sleekness and more bolts. Leather tool belts make for good mechanics, leather belts with lots of pouches make for good adventurers, but hey, in Steampunk, those are pretty much interchangeable character concepts in all honesty.
Piercings, while not necessarily a big part of the Steam side of things, are a big part of the Punk! Any and all. Go wild, but remember to stick to the good old rules of gears and springs. Earrings with dangly gears, great, earrings that have gears dangling attached to springs, better.
All in all, Steampunk fashion loves to add in as much mechanical goodness as possible, keeping things brass or bronze, and using rivets, nuts, bolts, screws, gears, levers, gauges, tubes, and springs in places that to the normal human eye would serve no readily visible purpose… but to a Steampunker, everything has an explanation.
Statting Out your dirty new Steampunk wardrobe
There doesn’t need to be a very complicated process for changing the way Steampunk genre clothes and accessories work vs. how standard fantasy versions work. It really just gets down to the fluff, what something looks like, how something works, etc. The only significant difference is that these are not magically controlled or created and so the price may vary as well as how that items interacts with effects that stop magic. It really comes down to personal taste and preference how you want to reflavor an item for a Steampunk world. This, I will leave up to personal discretion.
This ends part 1 of my look at Steampunk, maybe you're thinking that i forgot something above.. like WEAPONS! Well, that is coming in part 2.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The 9th contest, which now goes back a couple of months was about building a nation. The nation i built, which i am using in my current campaign setting, is called Bakanoria. You might want to grab yourself a nice bottle of wine when reading through this entry... because you're going to want some liquor once you hear about these guys.
They say that the land of Bakanoria was founded when the great song dragon Crescendia, upon meeting a particularly interesting and battle hardened looking fellow, asked him, “What in your opinion would scare you more than anything else in the planes?” He responded jokingly, “A Nation full of drunken bards….”
--History Check DC 25
Population: 500,000 --- Human (40%), Half Elves (20%), Halflings (15%), Gnomes (15%), All other (10%)
Alignment: Good / Neutral (but all with a touch of chaos)
Principal Exports: Wine, Beer, Musical Instruments
Principal Imports: Wine, Beer, Metals, Stone, Arms and Armor
Bakanoria is a land where the drunken bard is king. The country is completely geared towards the delights brought upon by consuming wine and the aftermath of this behavior when carried about on a daily basis in excess. The country is filled to the brink with singers and song writers as well as traveling minstrels seeking fame. The populace of Bakanoria are lively and quick to befriend new-comers to the state, but they are also near-sighted and do not realize the many problems that face their country.
Bakanoria sounds like a good idea to anyone who has ever heard of it. That is exactly wherein the problem lies. Yes, it sounds like a good idea… no, a great idea, to virtually every man, woman, and child who has ever tasted a bottle of wine and said, “Gee, I wish I could drink this, sing songs, and be a happy little fairy for the rest of my days”. To the happy drunken gnome singing a battle song to Crescendia as he skewers an orc through the gullet, Bakanoria sounds like paradise; the problem is that it also sounds like paradise to virtually any criminal organization or cult that has enough good sense to go there, exist in the shadows, and work their dirty little hands till they bleed.
As a goddess who likes singing, dancing, telling stories, and a good drunken night at the bar, Crescendia is lacking in a lot of the omnipotence and clairvoyance that other gods possess, which is possibly why she has never ascended with the other gods into the pantheon, or perhaps it’s the other way around (ask her that and see what kind of answer you get…). As she is lacking in this respect, and blatantly encourages her followers to do the same, the country of Bakanoria has become, what some villainous individuals would characterize as, a nation of blundering idiots drunk on joy to the point where its almost not any fun to steal from them any more, but you will continue to do for several reasons: A - its easy; B – it’s pure profit ; C - its fun; and D - their dark gods love bringing misery to a people that is so happy and care free all the time that they are unable to see when they are being conned.
Although the threat of war is mostly gone, the threats from criminal organization and cults go almost completely unnoticed by both the people and the government. Thus, the threats to Bakanoria come from the inside, and, although they appear small when separated from each other, they have been building up and becoming increasing worse to the point where Bakanoria has nearly become a crime state, with the criminal organizations firmly supporting the government in every way possible, because they are such a blithering fools that they wouldn’t know a cult of Vecna if his hand and eye were resting on their shoulders and they were whispering kill, in whatever physic tongue artifacts speak in these days, into their ears of the nations leaders. The Council of Vintners would probably take it as some kind of prank made by a particularly witty bard who was capable of imitating the undead. They might even give him a medal for his charm. It’s not because they are stupid…well, maybe it is, but mostly it’s because they are all drunk!
Where is the goddess in all this? The dragon goddess Crescendia, the focus of all praise and glory, walks among the people, but as she isn’t helping out much with the crime problem, does she really desire to help the country succeed or is she just toying with the mortals as part of a long and hilarious joke? Will she rise to help the country if it falls into peril, or will this duty be left to someone from outside?
Exports and Imports
The countries wine trade is sacred and its production is considered holy. Because of the great care that goes into the production of wine, the people take pride in its creation. They produce it in massive quantities. It is consumed on a daily basis throughout the country, but there is still so much left over that it has become the nations largest, and virtually only, export and the basis of their entire economy. The nation exports wine all around the world and it is consumed in the halls of king and queens. It is extremely expensive when purchased outside of the country as it is unmatched in both taste and strength. The country completely relies on the wine trade for making money, but they also supplement the export of wine with the production of beer and other alcohols, but on a very small scale. Also, the nations many bards have established the manufacture of musical instruments which are also exported. The Musical Institute of Liena is famous for its fantastic precision and intricacy in the production of both magical and non-magical instruments which are sold throughout the realms at ridiculous prices.
The country is self-sufficient in most areas. They have enough people working in places other than the vineyards to maintain their lifestyle, however the people’s cravings for wine have made them less than skilled in crafting metals as well as other finished goods and therefore the country imports these on a regular basis to fill any needs that arise. Missionaries are given top quality goods from other countries when they begin their mission trips into the other realms, mostly because the government understands that the weapons and armor they manufacture cannot be relied upon in battle.
Physical Characteristics, Geographic Elements, and Places of Interest
At first glance, anyone would believe that the semi-coastal nation of Bakanoria is a paradise. The country has an extremely temperate climate: the winters are never very cold and there is almost never snow fall, but the summers are never too hot either. The massive number of coastal cities on their western side, as well as trade roads that connect Bakanoria through the mountains that make up its other borders have helped further their wine trade.
Topographically speaking, Bakanoria is mostly rolling hills and flat arable farmlands. The roads are well maintained and connect all the cities. It has many small rivers that come down from the mountains and flow into the sea. All large cities are along the coast, but numerous smaller cities and villages lie between the vast wineries that occupy most of the land. The only exception to this is Liena, the city of muscicians, which lies at the base of the northern mountains. It is a major trading city with the nations of the north and stands at the top of the red river, so named because of the special red grapes that grow aquatically on the river bottom giving off their color into the water. These grapes are harvested by aquatic farmers and used to grow Liena’s special label wine.
The Capital: Val’sata
Val’sata is a large port city centrally located along the coast. The City is shaped like a crescent moon enclosing the massive bay that is the hub for the nation’s ship based trade. The docks of Val’sata are always outrageously busy, even at night. The city is the base of operations of the church of Crescendia and is the location of the headquarters for most of the organizations, both criminal, and non criminal in Bakanoria. .
The Halls of Crescendia
The Halls of Crescendia are massive and resplendent taverns and are “houses of worship” to the goddess. Official worship is conducted in her Halls each night, but no prayers are uttered and no blessings are given; the people simply gather for drunken parties and the telling to tales and the singing of songs. Outsiders who are not knowledgeable to the nation’s religious customs may find that these practices to be strange at first, but they quickly find themselves sucked into the fun of it all. Religious observance in the halls is therefore almost non-existent in a traditional sense, but pleasure, in all its non-harming forms, is considered to be observing the tenants of Crescendia’s church and tribute to them is paid in her taverns.
Halls of Crescendia exist in other countries and in other forms throughout the world all of which can be marked by the sign above the door, bearing her holy symbol, but those in Bakanoria are more like massive cathedrals than ordinary bars. Each Hall has its own construction, based on the design the owner wished to pursue. In Bakanoria, anyone wishing to construct a Hall must have the church’s blessing; Halls which are established outside of Bakanoria do not have this requirement, though, most of them are established by her missionary bards as places to gather new followers.
The Singing Wells
The Singing Wells appear to be nothing but rather large holes in the ground, connected to an underground river; however, the wells produce beautiful music, drawing all those near to them in admiration of the godly harmony. The Wells appear throughout the country, some in random locations where the ground split open and some were produced by human hands and happened to connect to the proper underground channels. Entrance into one of the Singing Wells is strictly prohibited, but the various criminal organization use them as a means of escaping capture and smuggling; the fact that they are all connected makes underground travel to the far ends of the country easy.
The Den of Crescendia
The goddess, Crescendia doesn’t dwell on another plane, but rather walks among the people of the material one. Her den lies in the mountains in a sacred and beautiful cavern, but its location is unknown to the people of Bakanoria. Her song carries out from this cavern, and is the source of the music that can be heard throughout the country rising up endlessly through the singing wells.
Just under the surface of Bakanoria lies another country of its own. The Underground is a massive network of tunnels and caverns which stretch from the coast to every end of the country. They are all linked by a massive network of underground canals and rivers which link the Singing Wells to the Den of Crescendia. The Underground is home to the less than human members of Bakanoria’s populace, but their existence remains a mystery to the drunken hoards clamoring about above. The sound of the Goddess’s singing is appreciated even in The Underground however, as it provides a cover for the criminal dealings and a means of avoiding detection or capture by the government above. Although The Undergound, technically lacks a capital city, or any cities for that matter, but they have numerous black market outposts with the largest being located under the capital of Val’sata where The Underground connects to the port and thus provides a method of trafficking goods in and out of the country without being noticed.
That about does it for Part 1. In part 2, i'll post Demographic information as well as more information about Crescendia's church, her followers, her rituals, and her holidays. Look for more information in the following posts. Hope you enjoyed this one.
If someone is interested, leave me a comment and we'll work things out. I'm not really looking for anything complicated, just something i can use and not get sued. If you think you're up to the task (in other words, have a couple hours to fiddle around in photoshop) then please let me know.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
As if i wasn't still backlogged enough with all of my previous entries that i have yet to put up on the blog, the 11th Expert Dungeon Master's Competition (XDMC) has opened up on the Wizards forums. This competition has been running for a fairly long time since the birth of 4e DnD and is a place to let your creative juices flow. I've been taking part for the last 3 XDMC's with very little success, but maybe the one will be different.
Here is the link the the thread where this competition takes place.
This month's competition is entitled " Create a Little Bad Evil Guy"here is the synopsis:
"A good DM can create a compelling villain (the "Big Bad Evil Guy") to antagonize adventurers for a dramatic climactic final confrontation. But it takes an Expert DM to create a lesser villain who is equally memorable. Lackeys, sidekicks, rivals, minor antagonists. All require care to craft. This entry asks you to create a memorable minor villain (the "Little Bad Evil Guy") for the adventurers to confront."
Well, doesn't that sound interesting??
The competition has several main rules, which can be found on the thread, but the real fun from this competition comes in the constraints... welll, kind of constraints, kind of building blocks. Each entry must include at least 3 of the following optional elements:
1. At least one confrontation is a non-combat skill challenge that uses no Charisma-based skills as primary skills.
2. Fulfilling a minor quest (described in the entry) could cause the villain to become neutral to, or allied with, the adventurers.
3. The adventurers discover the villain has information or a unique item useful against the main antagonist.
4. The entry presents statblocks for the villain at multiple tiers of play.
5. The entry summarizes three or more hypothetical confrontations that include the villain.
6. The villain is neither humanoid nor unintelligent.
7. The villain is Small or Tiny in size.
8. The villain is the spouse, offspring, or parent of the main antagonist.
9. The villain serves multiple masters with contradictory motivations.
10. When first encountered, the villain appears to be the main antagonist, but isn’t.
Sounds like fun right? Why not get over and enter? The competition is a great place to be creative and interact with some of the creative geniuses that float around on the Wizard's forums. If you win, you get a cool little Title below your name, the chance to judge further competitions, a boost for your ego, and mad streed cred (...well, maybe not street cred, but at least forum cred...). Hope to see you there! Good luck on your entries!
When you play Dungeons and Dragons, you have everything worked out before hand, you know exactly what is going to happen and you exert yourself well around the table to keep things on track and under control. You know how to deal well with people and keep the game environment fun and relaxed… however, as a DM, you are very much into your story and your plot, so much so that you often find yourselves railroading the game in order to get your players to do the things you want them to do. When you have combat, you force your players to do what you want them to do, giving them usually a single method for success, but even if they manage to kill the big bad villain guy, you will probably say that he escaped to live another day in order to advance the campaign you are playing in.
You know how to play, and you know what to do. You are a by the book DM. You are there to let your players enjoy their time, so you aren’t very much into house ruling or doing things outside of what you are supposed to do. Your players have fun in the game because they see that you are impartial and practical and you make judgment calls based on logic and a need to protect the game, but you are also flawed by making things to easy on your players at times and keeping them alive even when their stupidity should have whipped out the entire party. If you don’t get this under control, your players may end up not really learning anything about strategy or tactics, and thus they may suffer if they attempt to play in a different campaign which requires more thought, skill, and less, how should I say this… child support.
You love to homebrew. You are adapt at building your own races, classes, and campaign settings. You love to set your characters free in your world and let them roam about doing as they want, supporting them and giving them what you can as a “bribe” to explore your world and try new things. When you have combat, you tend to give the players obvious hints and advice on how to beat a certain scenario, making things overly easy on the players. They don’t necessarily appreciate your constant giving, but they like to see their characters empowered and thus, don’t complain. They may feel less rewarded when good things happen because of your constant generosity.
You relish combat and making your players suffer. To you, the game is about the Players vs. The DM. You relish challenging combats and love putting your players up against villains which are tougher than a player should have to face; you also like to do this more than the number of recommended times per day, often exerting both your players and their characters to feats of massive heroism. In actuality, the constant danger your players face has made them the stronger for it; they have probably united together, studied tactics and begun optimizing their characters… if they didn’t leave you game after you killed them for the second time. In terms of story, you’re not interested, but if there is story to be involved, it has to be twisted and smack at both your player’s and your PC’s emotions. If it isn’t profound, you’re not interested, but as stated above, this all takes second fiddle to your combats and encounters. Skill challenges are just another way to show your players how they can fail!
Shinobicow the MC Bard / Wizard DM
I find myself falling into a mix of the leader/controller roles. I often hand out items or levels simply because I want to advance the flow of the game to a more fun and interesting spot, and I often find myself writing back-stories for other peoples characters. My villains never die until they are supposed to die; I’ve been accused of railroading on multiple occasions.
How do you DM well?
Like any good party, the DM has to have a balance of the above roles. Good DM’s should at least be able to dabble a little bit into the better sides of each of these, and then emphasize on what he or she tends to enjoy. In other words, a good DM, like a balanced party has five parts. Maybe he is 2 parts striker and 1 part everything else, liking combat, but not being afraid to write up some homebrew, manage the table well, or give his players a hand when he knows he has made something a bit over the top. You can use your imagination from here.
As always, I’d appreciate your comments and critique. If you think something I said here is off, I’d love to hear your opinion. If you have something you think you should be added, I’d be glad to consider it. Finally, what role do you think you play as a DM? To which of these roles do you find yourself leaning?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Multi-classing has been an important facet of Dungeons and Dragons for many editions. Being able to build on two separate classes has always been popular and necessary (in my opinion) for fleshing out characters and making the most interesting character a player could want.
Biological laws not withstanding, there are numerous reasons why two different races may have merged together, I means its D&D, magic, experiments, fits of passion, etc. The reasons are endless and potentially provide for an entire character background based on why that character is the way he is. Who were his parents? Was he part of some crazy magical experiment? The list of background ideas goes on and on.
So, why not with races as well???
Looking at the races of Dungeons and Dragons which are available for play it stands to reason that there is nothing that should keep these numerous humanoid races from intermingling and spawning new half breed races which are both interesting and fun to play. The Half-Elf is an obvious precedent for this, not to mention the numerous half-breed races that existed in 3rd edition: Half-Dragons, Half-Celestial, Half-Orcs (now a 4e race), etc.
Why aren’t there rules for this yet?
Who knows… maybe they are on their way down the line, maybe they’ll be coming in one of the subsequent DMG’s or Player’s Handbooks. Maybe they won’t.
So here is my take on creating Half-Breed Races. This is simply a set of guidelines that I would use when building them based on the existing Half-Races which are currently in play.
Average Height: Average of the Two Parent Races
Average Weight: Average of the Two Parent Races
Ability Scores: Pick one bonus from each of the parent races, but you cannot pick the same ability twice. This allows for multiple different breeds of half-breeds. I.e. Some half-breeds pick one set of ability bonuses; some pick another.
Skill Bonuses: Pick one bonus from each parent race, but you cannot pick the same skill twice.
Size: The smallest of the two parent races. It stands to reason that a small creature giving birth would give birth to a small creature (well an appropriately sized baby, who knows how large Halfling babies are).
Speed: The average of the two. Speed should be rounded down just like all other cases of rounding in Dungeons and Dragons. Most of the times Speed will be 6.
Vision: The greater of the two parent races.
Languages: One from each of the parent races.
Racial Abilities: All half-breeds have dual heritage. This lets them take feats which would apply to either of their parent races. Then, they pick 2 racial abilities, one from each parent, but can only take one power based racial ability from either parent. Racial Abilities are chosen on a point buy system with all current racial abilities being evaluated on a scale of power. Racial Abilities are then “bought” from each of the parent races for a certain number of points. (This will be explained further in part 2 of this series).
This concludes part 1 of my take on multi-racing. I’d appreciate comments on this work, if you think something should be changed, added, or deleted, give me a comment. I’m always looking for good advice. In part 2, I’ll provide more evaluation of the Racial Ability Point Buy system and see how it works in several of the pre-existing races. I’ll also provide the first of my homebrewed half-breed races, the Dwargon (Half-Dragonborn/ Half-Dwarf).
Friday, June 19, 2009
In the previous parts of this article, I discussed the nature of the People of Jurai from the anime Tenchi Muyo and how incorporating a civilization which draws its power directly from nature could be put into a technological/future style setting of Dungeons and Dragons.
In this part, I’ll introduce my homebrew race the Kodama and talk a little bit about the inspirations behind them.
The Kodama – Children of the Forest Planet
The Kodama are a highly advanced civilization that draws an ultimate power from nature itself. They dwell on the Forest Planet known as Shinrento; this planet is completely covered by forest and nurtured by healthy sunlight and continuous light rain which is produced out of the atmosphere and circulates around the planet.
The Kodama themselves stand little more than 3 feet tall, has hair that changes color with the seasons on their home planet, has pale skin and dark black eyes; at first glance, they may easily be mistaken for a Halfling were it not for the looming guardian spirit that stands above each of them, plain to see and visible to all, which appears to be a mid size human, translucent, but bearing some resemblance to the Kodama to which it is bound. This guardian spirit is the spirit of a great tree growing on the Kodama home planet of Shinrento and connected to the Kodama at birth; when the Kodama is born, a tree sprouts into being on Shinrento. The Kodama never age, perpetually being seen as children, but their guardian spirit, the spirit of their tree ages normally; when the tree lives out its full lifespan, which may be hundreds of years, the Kodama dies peacefully along with their tree. If their guardian tree spirit is killed or takes root on soil not from Shinrento, they begin to age normally and begin to grow and age as normal humans.
As a civilization, the Kodama are very intelligent and have a masterful hold on both technology as well as magic. They are counted as some of the greatest technomancers in all of the planes. They are a wholly good race, very rarely does a Kodama turn evil, but when they do, the tree that grows on Shinrento begins to whither and its leaves turn black, signaling the tree out for culling; the Kodama do not suffer this kind of evil lightly and usually purge evil elements from their society at the first sign of a turning.
The Kodama have grown very powerful. They are considered to be one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe possessing the highest affinity and link to nature throughout the known galaxies and planets. They use their link to their guardian tree spirit to draw life energy, radiant energy, from the holy forests of Shinrento and channel that energy in battle. Through this ability, the Kodama have been successful in creating massive armadas powered by the radiant life energy of Shinrento. They use these armadas to protect nature across civilizations as well as restore peace to war-torn planets and star systems.
Individual Kodama’s character traits vary, they often take on traits which are similar to that of their guardian tree: pine trees stand tall and resolute, willows are often drowsy or depressed, oaks are stubborn, etc. But, for the most part, all Kodama carry themselves with respect and dignity savoring nature and respecting it. They can be quick to anger when dealing with matters of passion or nature, but are usually serene and good judges of character.
Influences for the Kodama
The Kodama as a race carry a link to the society of Jurai as mentioned in previous articles in this series from the standpoint of a highly advanced nature revering race, but they are also influenced by other sources as well.
I am a current resident of Japan and major in Asian Studies and so I usually draw upon Japanese elements for many of my game designs and character concepts. Kodama is a Japanese word for tree spirits; these spirits can be seen in many Japanese places, the most prominent of which is the movie Princess Mononoke, by Studio Ghibli. But, the Kodama of Princess Mononoke and the Kodama of Shinrento share little in common other than their small stature and black eyes. Other sources of influence for this race are the forest children of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time (as well as other games in the series).
Drawing on multiple sources of reference I feel is necessary in creating a unique concept; Something that I feel is true is a phrase I have been told over and over again, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Concepts evolve and change, but virtually everything has been done already in some respect. It is always about putting your new spin on something that already exists or shaping multiple existing concepts in such a way that you can create something which resembles something new.
Next time in Part 4 of Druid Tech, I’ll present the stat block for Kodama as a player character Race in Dungeons and Dragons 4e as well as further define the reasons that a person might want to play a Kodama in their game.
When I initially started developing the dump stat, my goal was to provide a source for information for both DM’s and Player’s, which could be used to maximize the fun you have around the game table. I’m trying to keep away from commenting on the actions of Wizards of the Coast, but every once and a while something will come up on my blog about them.
I really think that the community of Dungeons and Dragons is the driving force behind 4th Edition. The Wizards forums are a great source for discussing game concepts and homebrew, so I’m on the forums looking around a lot. When I find something interesting, you’ll often find links to it on my blog,
I’ve got a great line-up of planned articles coming up. I’ll be finishing my series on Druid Tech before delving into other technological power sources and how they fit into Dungeons and Dragons 4e. I will also be posting some of the results for the WotC forums contests: Hero Artisan, Hero Craftsman, Expert Dungeon Master, and Master Dungeon Master, which I am often a participant in, but rarely a winner of anything. I’ll be talking about my entries as well as the winning ones from the recent contests. I am also currently doing a guest spot on Stargazer’s World, my current weekly series called the “Gamer in Japan” details the time I spent in Tokyo and how it affected my pen-and-paper RPG adventures. Following that I will be doing a series on “World Building the Japanese Way;” this column will discuss Japanese themes and how they can be used effectively to create a splendid world of fantasy regardless of setting or time period.
Finally, I will be posting chapters from the nearly completed novel I’ve been working on inspired in part by a D20 Modern game I’ve been running for a while, set around the Japanese underground and crime world of the Yakuza. I will also be posting character fiction and back stories for several of the characters in my gaming group as well as my past and present characters.
I hope that everyone can enjoy these articles. I am glad to be able to share my thoughts on the hobby with people from around the world and I would really love to hear people’s comments and criticism for anything I post up here on the blog.
Looking forward to a wonderful new relationship.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
First i will be writing a short series on my experiences with role-playing in Japan. After that i will be doing an ongoing column on world building, especially my thoughts on world-building using Japanese themes and concepts.
Hope you'll go over to his site to give them a read. I'll post links to my columns up here in a sidebar once i actually start the meat of the columns which i'll be writing.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I have just been given the opportunity to be a guest blogger over at www.stargazersworld.com. It should be an interesting and enlightening experience. Hope you'll give these guest posts a read. I'll post links to them here on my blog as well.
That's all for now, but lots of posts are on the way.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
In a high tech setting, Druids and other Nature loving classes shouldn’t be left out in the cold. It thus becomes important to put them into some type of high tech context. So, lets take a closer look at the Jurai as they are seen in Tenchi Muyo:
The Power of Trees
The Jurai take their power from their ancient trees. Each member of the Jurain royal family has a tree which grants it power. The greater the tree, the greater the power that the individual gets. Trees are used to power star ships, grant eternal life, and channel attacking energy which rivals that of massive space stations and interstellar alien robots.
Adapting this into Dungeons and Dragons
Putting a race into play that mimics the power of the people of Jurai seems to be not so difficult. There are already many nature worshiping races and races which have an affinity towards nature in the game. Elves have always been closely linked to nature and remain so in 4th edition. Eladrin are the race of the Feywild, which has an even closer link to nature as residents of a plane where nature at its finest is in abundance.
It seems then that building a race, similar to the Jurai into Dungeons and Dragons wouldn’t take much more than slipping one of these two races, or one of the other races, into a new role in this campaign setting; the other option would be to create a completely new race from scratch (which under the new rules seems not to be too difficult) and there it is.
I believe that in my world, I want to go with this second option. Elves and Eladrin, while having a connection to nature, do not seem to draw their power from it. I think that a homebrew race could do just the trick in my setting.
In part 3 of this series on Druid Tech, I will showcase the race that I have built and call it up for examination.
This is a collection of pure genius. I'm really impressed with the quantity of races out there which have been made by fans of the game. It is very impressive.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Rewatching it the second time around has been just as rewarding, but now with my D&D hobby taking up as much time of my life as it is, i've started to examine things from the perspective of a DM and how i can fit things into my games/campaigns.
I've been working on one campaign setting On'gaka, which i think is turning out to be a dud. I'm trying to bind too many disparate elements into something that i think just won't work; however, i find the concept of fantasy-punk (one of the sugestions for a 24 RPG over at 1km1kt) to be very interesting. I have always loved adding tech elements to D&D games; i think that Eberron did a good job of this, to some extent, but they really dug themselves into a mid 20th century version of technology rather than pushing tech farther into the future.
I think there is room for a more advanced technological/cypber-punk style of game which is built into a D&D setting.
Getting back to my introduction with Tenchi Muyo, the people of planet Jyurai (i hope that is how you spell it) are basically a race of lordly druids which use the power of nature to fuel starships, energy weapons, and so forth. What an awesome concept for a D&D campaign setting; this is something that i think would fit perfectly into a higher tech version of a fantasy-punk setting. Seeing natural elements combined into a fantasy-punk or high tech style of game seems to be something that never fits in quite right. The nature lovers of the future always end up being some low intelligence, tree hugger group which is dissatisfied by the way the world has abandoned the love of mother earth in favor of exploiting her for resources and technology jumps. Well, looking at Jyurai, why not make the nature lovers the biggest bad-asses in the universe. These are the guys who have channeled the primal energy of nature, the greatest power source in the universe, in order to become the power-brokers of the galaxy.
So, i think i'm going to try and incorporate something along these lines into a fantasy-punk style game. Hopefully i won't fail on this one like i did with On'gaka.
Friday, June 12, 2009
During the discussion about DM styles, specifically the comparison of Greyhawk and Eberron style of DMing, i've come to realize the reason for being so drawn into this setting. I like DMing Movies. For me, i've always wanted to write professioniall, screen plays, books and such, and so I believe i was naturally drawn into this style of game in a setting where it is encouraged. I almost always use scene based styles of play in my games, whether the campaign is set in Eberron or not.
What style do you play in and Why? Homework for the week. There will be a quiz next period.