Friday, May 29, 2009

Creature Building in 4e: Way Easier than Before?

Well, i've been working for about a week on my entry for the XCMC #10 and now i have 6 different monster and i can't figure out which to enter, which caused a realization in me... Monsters are way easier to build in 4e than they were in previous editions. The DM toolkit in the DMG makes basically allows the DM to put together a monster in a matter of minutes rather than days. I'm having more a problem thinking up backstory and lore for these creatures than actually putting them together.

I will start posting some of my creations here up once or twice a week. Hopefully i'll end up putting a bunch of them all together in a PDF of some kind and people will download and use them. Take Care

30 Day Game Part 3

Here is my 3rd installment of my, going to run seemingly forever, 30 day game module, which i'm building. In this entry, we get to look at the Introduction and some of the backstory.

*****

The Introduction

The following section should be read to the players as soon as the campaign starts, after character generation. The players should hear all this then immediately before they begin the first encounter and not before. Try to keep some measure of surprise regarding how the world has devolved before the players get wind of it.


The world is gone… the entirety of the material plane has vanished in an instant as the many planes come together and collapse in the cataclysmic destruction of not one world, but nearly all of them. Only a single bastion of light remains in the vast swirling chaotic mess that has become the universe: a tavern by the name of “The Black Cat.” Before the collapse, assorted travelers of race and background had converged within for a meal or to spend the night, none of whom were prior acquainted to each other or had any presupposition of what would soon occur. Moments before the end, a crazed and panicked gnome burst into the tavern; he hurriedly produced from within his robes a device which at first glowed dully before bursting into a circle of radiant energy. One of the guests to the tavern, panicked, ran for the door and opened it only to find himself sucked from the tavern and ripped into a million pieces, but through the open door, those within bore witness to the world’s collapse and the end of all things.

The gnome, who had not the chance to protest the initial patron from being torn asunder stood in front of the door barring anyone else from leaving and asked all those within the bar to make no attempts at escape as The Black Cat is now the only place left in existence and those within the tavern are the last hope for preservation of not only the planes, but the gods as well.

The gnome pulls himself together, brushes his matted hair back away from his sweating brown and holds the device out in his outstretched hand.

My name is Cornelius Fibble, I believe John Haverwell, this good establishment’s owner may well be acquainted with me as this isn’t my first time within these walls. I live just up the street from here, a home to which I retired following a life of travel and education in order to, how should we say, experiment in my now copious free time. You see, I am both a man, well, a gnome, of science and an inventor. In my travels and interactions with the many magics, both arcane and divine throughout the world, I’ve come to appreciate and expand my horizons to a degree that you here may believe to cross a boundary into the impossible. One of the devices that I have had in my possession for some time is a glass of sorts which continuously looks into the very near future; I use it, for the most part, to avoid confrontations with unwelcome bill collectors, but today, well, your today, it foresaw the end of the world. This is a device which I constructed that could, for a period, stop the flow of time in a small area, about the size of a one story building. It has allowed me to live far beyond the standard length of any normal individual’s life and continue my research for the span of many lifetimes. I’ve now used all but the one you see before you and I no longer have the materials needed to produce more. I have spent my time, I’m not sure how long analyzing and researching the present phenomenon and I believe I’ve been able to not only pinpoint the problem, but also a solution and a means to said end, but it will require your support as you are, perhaps the plane’s last and only hope. I have been able to construct various devices which might be able to help you in this task.

Cornelius moved to the bar and set his device upon the bar top. He then produced from his cloak a bag and from it he produced several silver pocket watches, one for each person within the bar.

I would ask that you come closer so that I can give these to each of you and explain their purpose and use.

The bartender first made a move for the watch and as he touched it, the chain that connected to it quickly attached itself to the bartenders flesh through his shirt at the waist, he seemed to take a start however made no exclamation of pain nor discomfort.

Each of these watches has been forged for the purpose of allowing you to venture into the nothingness and chaos that exists beyond these walls.
You will see that each of these watches is possessed by several dials, the largest of these marks the day. This is perhaps the most important thing I should mention, from now you will have only the length of a single cycle of the moon during which you can complete your task and save us all, after this time, the magic of my time stopping device will cease and we shall all be lost to this chaos.
The smaller dial within marks the hour, the magical energy of the watch only supports 12 hours of continuous use before it must return to the source of its power within these walls, you may therefore venture out for only 12 hours at a time before the watch must return here for an equal amount of time in order to recharge. The device you see before you here on the bar possess within it a powerful homing beacon which can reach beyond any plane or any world; each of the watches is connected to it. When the charge on the watch has run out, it will return to the beacon via its magical connection and bring the user of the watch with it. . I have constructed each of these watches to link to an individual’s soul. Soon each will link to one of yours. Because it is linked to your soul, should the watch feel that it is in jeopardy of destruction after you have fallen in battle, it will return you here so that I might care for your wounds in a timely manner and have you back out on the battlefield in the following day.
The third device within this time piece you will note is a series of dials. On each of these watches you will take head that the dials are currently reading 0, however on the watch which has now been bound to our good innkeeper John, now reads a total of 100, a measure of our fellow’s ‘soulestial’ worth. In my vast research and studies over these countless years, I discovered a value in one’s soul which increases with respect to his life experiences. You can therefore view this number and measure your strength, a process which might prove both humbling and scary depending on how you might value your own personally worth. It is here, not because I have a desire to press upon you the personal psycho-analysis that may even drive a perfectly collected wizard to the brink of madness, but because of another device I have developed; I call it the “Soulestian Apparatus.” This device constructs an item at the request of an individual providing he has enough “soul power” to bring that item into being.
This device has the power of our salvation. I developed with it another device that can identify sources of soul energy which are profound and powerful out there in the chaos. I believe that if we can gather all these sources of unbelievable soul energy out there, and should they all be brought here together, that when united and presented before the device, they will be able to call forth an artifact of pure soul energy as powerful as the cosmos itself that can undo the madness that has befallen the planes.
Your first task is to gather these and other items from my workshop up the street. I had not the power, nor the speed to gather these items myself before coming here. You will find the streets outside to be decidedly different in nature since last you saw them, but I would have you be courageous and brave this first challenge as many as those that are to come. Now each of you, take hold of your watch and go with strength.



Once the players get their watches, which they should first of all, they will notice each of the soul meters has been increased to 100 just as high as the bartenders figure. They are given the opportunity to talk to Cornelius as well as to the bartender and each-other. John has very little to say regarding much of anything other than the geography of the town outside the bar and he can draw the characters a map should they ask him to. If they ask, the gnome will put his house on the map and describe the layout of the house as well as the description of the two machines they need to retrieve. He also gives the players a pair of portable holes which they are instructed to use in order to retrieve the pair of machines.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

D&D Podcasts and MM2

I am a long time listener of the D&D podcasts. I really enjoy listening to them while i do character sketches, taking notes on good ideas that i hear. I didn't start listening to them until about a month ago, but i quickly cleared through the entire archive and now wait impatiently for each new one to come around. If you haven't listened to one of the podcasts yet, i strongly encourage it; they are filled with great insights and all kinds of interesting stories. I'm a huge fan of both PvP and Penny Arcade so when the guys that produce these webcomics teamed up for not 1, but 2 different adventures which were recorded for the Podcast, i was all ears.

Well, this week, they reviewed MM2 and the creature decisions they made about the book. I'm not sure how i like the concept of Metalic Dragons now willing to rumble with the Players as easily as Chromatics, but i'll let it slide, mostly because i love the other monsters that they let into the book. I've always been a fan of the underdog creatures. The Bullywug is one of my favorites as are Myconids and Kenku. I can't wait to get these guys into my games, especially now that i've heard so much more about them from the designers.

The one thing that i loved in this podcast was the discussion about the reworking of solo creatures to turn them into more of a challenge. The way they are retooling them has a very MMO esq feel to these fights, something that i think could be done very well in the proper hands of a skilled DM. The Beholder is an awesome creature and i would love to see more solos like this which really challenge the characters regardless of party composition or tactics.

I'm in the midst of building my 2 Elite Creatures for the XDMC #10 over at the Wizards forums. I wanted to put in a solo element and now that i have more of the designers thoughts, i think i can make it work. I'll post a link to my entry when i get it in.

30 Day Game Part 2

Well, continuing my posts regarding my long worked on 30 Day Game, mostly in light of the fact that others have come to notice it through Greywulf's Lair, here is the second installment of my many-parted series regarding 30 levels of play in a month(ish) of game sessions.

*****

The 30 day game’s mechanics

The Point of the 30 day game
The point of the game is to get a character from level 1 to level 30 in thirty days. The reason to conduct a game in this way is mainly due to a time crunch in terms of actual play days afforded to the players involved. Perhaps you play this game every day as the name of the campaign insinuates, or perhaps you play one, two, or three times a week, but the players involved desire to get there characters as far as they can in the time that they have and to experience as much growth in their characters as they are able.
Make no mistake, this is a combat based campaign experience, however there will be chances for players to make use of numerous skill challenges which may help to reduce the difficulty of certain combat challenges.
The ultimate campaign experience would then mean that the players are able to reach level 30 in 30 sessions. This is the ideal and perfect reward for the campaign – seeing your character to the completion of his epic destiny.

Encounter Difficulty
Each day, the players face a variety of encounters. During the heroic tier, when combat is less complicated, each day the players will face between 3 and 5 encounters. The first encounter of the day is always the easiest, it gives the players a chance to get used to their new gear from the day before and test out their new abilities. It also helps the players get back into the game, remember what they were doing, remember their tactics and their powers. It also helps the DM judge whether or not it is going to be a good or a bad game day based on the mood of the players involved.
During the paragon tier, there will be fewer encounters and the first encounter of the day will not be quite as easy as during the heroic tier, but will still give the characters a chance to try out new tactics based on the new gear they received and the new powers they gained from the day before.
During the epic tier, the players should have a pretty good idea of how their characters work and how the game works as well. Players who are new to the game when the campaign began should have a pretty good understanding of how the game works by this point and should therefore not need as much time to grasp their powers or the other players with whom they are playing. The further they get into the epic tier, the harder the encounters get. The last few days of the campaign will be single encounter games which will severely test the tactics, cooperation, and ability of the players. The final day is a massive boss battle which may or may not find the characters saving the world. If they get to this point, there aren’t any do-overs.

A level every day
If you’re going to play a game in 30 days and go from level 1 to level 30 that means one level a day. The condition to gain this level a day feat is by living through each day. If a player dies during a session, he is brought back to life at the beginning of the next session, but didn’t gain the level from the last session. If the other player’s were able to complete the days encounter without that individual they all advance a level while the other person lags behind. In addition to not gaining a level that day, the individual also doesn’t receive a magic item of his level per the experience requirement for gaining a magic item.

Item Acquisition
As mentioned previously, the players are allowed to pick an item they might desire at every level or exchange an item they have received at a previous level for one of that level’s equivalence. In order to better facilitate the speed of this item acquisition, each player should put together an item wish list for their character divided by level before they begin the campaign. Should they want to amend this list, they are able to at the DM’s discretion.

The total party kill
Each of the following encounters has varying means of increasing or decreasing the difficulty level as need be for less or more experienced players. If everyone dies, the players get another chance, actually they may get many as long as they don’t screw it up too badly (beyond the point of beating the encounters of the day). If they all die, chances are their tactics were grossly misguided, their luck was bad, or the DM did something wrong. If everyone dies and it’s the fault of the DM, the players are all saved by the gnome who immediately heals them and sends them back in to where they were with all of their daily powers refreshed and the players get to keep the magic item they earn if they beat the encounter. If they player’s luck ran bad or they used their tactics poorly, they come back into play, but may or may not get their dailies back and or they don’t get the item for the day that would have been gained for beating the encounter. If the players can’t beat the day’s encounter more than two times, it is left up to the DM’s judgment as to what to do…

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The 30 Day Game Part 1

Greywulf has been posting a bit about his ideas for a 30 day game, just as i have in the past, so i thought i would start posting up some of what i have so far for my 30 day game.

*****

After the End of the World

Preface:

The challenge was put to me recently whether I could design, prior to the start of the first game, without regard for player classes, number of players, race of the player characters or the relative skill levels of the players involved, a complete campaign that would take the player characters from level 1 to level 30 in 30 play sessions. This isn’t probably a realist or doable task, but I said I’d try and do it so I will try. I will definitely need people’s input however in order to help, so I ask that everyone provide as much input as you are willing to give.

People that need thanked:

A while ago, I posted on the forums that I was trying to do this and several people gave me some advice on how to do it better. Specifically those people are:

GregT 314 who gave a lot of great ideas in very few words, the work of pure brilliance.
Fastcarfreak
Kuonji
Jimmy 631
Trei
Atanakar
Witchslasher
Intoxicated-T-F
Whitebaron
Noon

Once again, thanks guys. Your ideas helped make this possible.

Rules are made to be Broken

This campaign will break many rules of game play, chiefly those regarding players having a mind of their own and the desire to go on side quests and such (who cares what the player thinks really anyway). It will therefore break several rules all of which are explained below.

Players generally want the ability to go on quests of their own or want to go explore the infinite world that is Dungeons and Dragons.
This cannot be allowed as the campaign has to have the entirety of the game already prepared as thirty days doesn’t allow any time for the DM to build anything in between games (the “I have a life too assumption”)

It takes generally between 8 to 10 encounters to gain a level.
This will almost surely be cut down at every level, with the exception of perhaps the first few levels which may approach the 8 encounter mark.

Every game session lasts a different amount of time.
Well, this is the tricky part. In trying to build a game from start to finish before meeting the players you can’t really know exactly how long each game session might take. In order to actually get each session’s game play done, this will mean that there won’t be a whole lot of story telling if the players aren’t as quick on the uptake. Every day is encounter heavy and each encounter length should be mitigated for time purposes.

Item Availability is usually random to a degree.
Screw this, it takes too long and if bad treasure comes up, then kiss all hopes of the player being able to see this campaign to the end goodbye. This game will make use of the “Shop of Unholy Awesomeness”… a shop where the players can buy whatever they dang well please.

Character leveling takes place during game sessions.
Screw this, it takes times. Before the campaign starts, everyone agrees what material sources to take gear, items, and powers from and then makes sure that the character is legal… or ideally, the players would all use the character creator which is put out by WotC and therefore the characters are proved to be legal by the character builder and no house rules are used.

More to come in Part 2 Including My 30 day game special mechanics

Friday, May 22, 2009

XDMC #10 Create a Pair of Elite Creatures

Well, the 10th Expert Dungeon Master Competition is under way. The theme this time around is to create a pair of elite creatures... sounds like fun right... well, yea it is, but something of this just seems a little complicated to me.

The rules for this particular competition are the following:

1. Provide separate statblocks for two creatures that might be encountered together. The statblocks must contain all the information found in the Monster Statblock Template in the 4e SRD appropriate for that creature.

2. Each creature must have the Elite group role.

3. Briefly describe each creature's typical appearance and behavior.

4. Set forth what characters may know of each creature with an appropriate Arcane, Dungeoneering, Nature, or Religion check.

5. Set forth at least one scenario in which a typical adventuring party might encounter the creatures, and the strategy the creatures might employ in this scenario.


The Optional Elements which can be used for this competition are the follwing, remember you must include at least 3, count 'em 3, in your entry:

1. Each creature gains a mechanical benefit from standing within two squares of the other.
2. One creature has a Good or Lawful good alignment; the other has an Evil or Chaotic Evil Alignment.
3. One creature serves as a mount for the other.
4. Only one creature has a burrow speed.
5. The creatures appear almost identical, but one is at least five levels higher than the other.
6. The creatures are both thematically associated with a solo creature of the paragon or epic tier found in the Rules Compendium.
7. The creatures do not share the same type, origin, or size.
8. The creatures have different abilities that complement one another.
9. The creatures would suffer damage or a deleterious condition if they touched one another.
10. The creatures’ powers are antilogous in some way (fire and ice, light and darkness, etc.) but the creatures still believably might be encountered together.


I strongly encourage anybody interested in creature building to go on over to the Wizards forums and check this one out. You can find the competition under What's a DM to Do? on the Dungeons and Dragons Forums.

I'm sure everyone has lots of good ideas and that entries will be very interesting... I've got a few brewing around in my head at the moment, but the first thing i'm doing is putting together an Exel Monster Builder Sheet to make the whole process a little bit easier. The DDi Monster Creator is good, but it doesn't let you build Elite or Solo creatures very well and so i'm not a huge fan of it. The fact that you have to run it out of your browser as well isn't that great and there isn't a save function for the creatures, other than the usual copy and paste. So, i think an excel spread sheet should do the trick nicely. It will also make putting things into your DM tools account very easy and thus making creation of Monster Cards much more simple. I'm about half way done at the moment, just finished putting together some important forumals and stuff. Next will be on to actually creating my monsters... whatever shall i build... hmmmmmmmm........

Friday, May 15, 2009

Earth! Battle for Dominion... throwing in the towel

Well folks, real life has gotten in the way of my latest 24 Hour RPG attempt. Not going to be able to get this one done. I'll come back and finish writing it of course, but i'm not going to be working on it anymore today. Leaving it unfinished almost brings a tear to my eye, but o well. I'll just have to get working on a new one sooner than later.

Another 24 Hour RPG project...

Out of my depressed anger regarding my current performance in the latest XDMC contest, i decided to enter into the 24 Hour RPG build contest yet again. This time around, i've chosen to do the Aliens vs. Monsters vs. Pirates vs. Ninjas as my theme. My entry is entitled...

EARTH! BATTLE FOR DOMINION

I think i won't have too much trouble doing this one, as the theme is a little bit less vague and has the makings of a truly fun and wide scope. I'm hoping that i can do it justice.

So far, i've got a setting where 5 different factions are trying to control the planet earth: The before mentioned 4 and the already present human race. My hope is that the game plays something like a version of cooperative risk, where all the players are fighting using a single faction in order to try and take over the world.

As far as the system is concerned, the game will play out particular battles, which have a differernt difficulty rating as well as a varying consequence rating. The more battles you fight and win, the more areas of the globe you will control. At the same time, the other factions are fighting as well.

Well, wish me luck. I hope somebody likes this one and gives it a read. I'm taking a very differnt approach to this one than i did with my last 24 Hour RPG, Bloody Stuffing, but hopefully it will come out looking like something interesting.

Results of XDMC #9 Build a Nation...

Well, again, not another winner... but, i did move up a bit from last time in terms of my overall rank amongst the pack. It was a close one, to be sure. I came in 10th of 22, but there was only a 3 point margin between first and 10th place. WoW. I can't imagine how hard it is to actually judge this competition.

The thing that i got hit in points the most was usability. The people that won the competition all had countries which were either smaller in scale or were in a venue that could be added into any campaign with very little maneuvering. I, on the other hand, decided to build a vast nation, with a huge population, and thus probably got dinged a lot for that. My original concept was to put the entire nation in a demi-plane found inside a wine bottle which floated around the world. People that found the bottle and opened it, would be transported inside into the land of vineyards and wine. I think if i had actually done this, i probably would have faired considerably better in the judges eyes... that might have made that 3 point difference. Oh well, from now on, i go with my gut, which will lead me into strange and forbidden places, but will probably also garner me a bit more respect in return.

I'll post my entry up here soon. I want to make a few minor changes to the format beforehand.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

6d6 Fireball Adventure Writing Competition

Well, I started working on my adventure for the 6d6 Fireball Adventure Writing Competition. I really encourage anybody reading this to head over to their website and check it out. Its a really great competition hosted by a solid bunch of guys.

The Adventure is anything you want, but it must in some way involve the use of Bearded Devils. I've begun hammering mine out. The tentative title is:

The Citadel of Iron: Dispater's Reach

Its themed around an Erinyes (spelled wrong i'm sure) and a pair of Bearded Devil associates that form a cult of Dispater and begin taking over a small city and castle through the use of an artifact which turns a body into iron and then acts as a summoning portal through which a single Bearded Devil can pass through to the material plane, taking the position of the previously living humanoid. This is about as far as i've gotten with it, as its my first attempt at writing a professional level adventure. We'll see how it turns out.

Wish me luck.

Laterz

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bloody Stuffing uploaded to Mediafire

Ok folks, here is my entry for the 24 Hour RPG. Hope you enjoy. I couln't figure out how to get it up on the sight because its too big for a forum attachment, but this is the same file i submitted last night to them, and i was assured that everything is cool, so here she is...



Teddy Bear Blood Sports - Bloody Stuffing
http://www.mediafire.com/?fnz0mm4yhwg

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

24 Hour RPG... Teddy Bear Blood Sports

Well, it took me just over 21 hours, but i finished my post for the 24 hour RPG contest. My entry entitled Bloody Stuffing, is a setting in which players take on the roll of a puppeteer in order to control teddy bear golems that have been transformed from their siblings in order to get said siblings soul back... i know it sounds a little convaluted, but if you read it, i'm sure you'll at least have your interest peaked.

Head on over to the 1km1kt website to check out my entry.

Monday, May 4, 2009

24 Hour RPG attempt... Teddy Bear Blood Sports

Well, i'm a little bit more than half way through my attempt at creating the 24 hour RPG for the 1KM1KT forums. The Theme i chose was Teddy Bear Blood Sports. I think my entry is coming along quite nicely, if i do say so myself. I've got most of the mechanics done, my formatting is all clear, my character sheet has turned out nicely, and i'm working my way through adding in all the extra stuff.

My entry is titled

Bloody Stuffing....
To the Victor Go the Souls

Hero Craftsman #21 Cosimo d' Tharashk, and other stuff...

Well, my submission for HC #21 is up over at the wizards forums. I now have an entry in each of the competitions. Hopefully, one of these entries will actually show some merit, though i can't vouch for them very much...

I had originally thought about going with an Inspector Gadget type character, but the homebrew in 3.5 is pretty rediculously hard to work, at least for me, so i didn't end up doing that.

Instead, i went with a character, roughly based around batman, a masked super-hero who fights crime and solves mysteries, a super-detective if you will. Hopefully the judges like the concept as much as i did. I see Cosimo, or The Dragonne, his super hero name, as something of a nerdy-type dude who likes to put on a mask and a cape and pretend to be a detective fighting bad guys.

For now, i'm not supposed to post the character for review, following the rules of the contest, so if you want to get a look see, browse on over to the Wizards community forums and take a peak.

My entries in forum contests right now are:
Rikthalik the Clubber - [4e] Hero Artisan #4 - Nautical
Cosimo d' Tharashk - [3.5e] Hero Craftsman #21 - It's all in the details.
Bakanoria - [4e] Expert Dungeon Master Competition #9 - Build a Nation

As each of these competitions wraps up, i'll post my entries up for review on my blog. Wish me luck, maybe i'll take home some medals this time around (i probably won't judging by the competition).

Anyways, on to some other news...

I put up a new campaign that i'm working on on Obsidian portal. I'm hoping to work on it more and more as the days go by, but i'm not sure how much time i will have with school and the family. I'm hoping to get my friends to start posting to this blog soon enough, and maybe then it will really take off.

The campaign setting is called On'gaka (a play on the Japanese word for music). It is a mix of fantasy, steam punk, and futuristic elements mixed together with the power of music. I really want to have something of a more light hearted system that i can play with my friends while we sit around drinking and listening to whatever we want to listen to. To this end, i'm hoping that i can reflect different genres of music, and the people that listen to said music, within my campaign setting; all of this while trying not to get to rascist or become a terrible stereotyper. This may be a terrible idea, but i think it is going to be funny. It is going to have something of an anime/asian feel, mostly because i live in Japan and i know the culture pretty well; i'm looking at shows like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Afro Samurai and trying to turn that feeling into a game setting.

Got any ideas? I would love to hear them.

Laterz