February 25, 2015

Gasping Simplified

Over on the forums, a poster asked another about a comment made that the writer used a simplified version of both Technical Grappling and The Last Gasp. The first poster noted that TLG was "complicated," and asked for what simple rules were in place.

While I think I might take exception to the complicated thing, I did wonder what I'd do if I needed to completely and massively simplify The Last Gasp to put it within reach of anyone, easily.

Actually, some parts of it work really well.

February 23, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - Military Intervention

We see action coming out of the manor as we start out. Ten spearmen, a couple of men-at-arms, and a few carts and wagons. We decide to anticipate them heading to Lervin, so we can set an ambush at the bridge (B) from Lervin to Phandalin - the route with the best road.

We guess correctly, and high-tail it first down the same road as they will take, but then cut cross-country to come at the bridge from the south.

We wanted to set a Rune of Boom on the bridge, triggering it when the bad guys are on the bridge, but the Glyph is not that easy to set up. We estimate it'll only take 1-2 hours to get there for them, so we're going to have to move it move it to get set up and prepared.


The good news is that we can probably move several times as fast to cover the roughly 2 miles from Highgarden to the bridge at Lervin. Even at 10 mph, that's about 12-24 minutes. So we'll have anything from abut 35 minutes to as long as 1 hour and 45min to get ready for them. Most likely is something like a bit more than an hour - just enough time to set up the Glyph of Explody Bits and then have a bit of time to wait for them to come.

February 20, 2015

Pyramid #3/76 - Ridiculous fun with DF IV

While I'm sure I'll follow my narcissistic tradition of doing a full-issue review of Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV, I did want to drop in and note that yes, I do have an article in it, which I co-wrote with +Peter V. Dell'Orto.

This isn't a designer's notes post, but I do want to talk a bit about how ridiculously fun it was to collaborate with Peter on this one.

I can't remember where it started - I think it was a series of comments about a Dire Yorkie or something. But we started with a fart or crap joke, I think, and ran with it to terrible places. Probably during one of +Erik Tenkar's Swords and Wizardy games.

So maybe that was the origin of the Terrible power Not Cleaning That Up. Maybe it was something else. But poop jokes sound about the right level for a game that features +Tim Shorts, so I'm going with that.

Still, one thing led to another, and pretty soon we had an entire series of really awful jokes masquerading as powers and monsters.

And then +Steven Marsh asked for more. And boy did we have fun with that. The article was an odd size, and so we could either cut or add. He asked us to add, and so we did, and the Terrible Foliage and Terribly Dire Wolverine were born. More and better bad jokes were made. Plus references to both Into the Woods and Transformers, which is just win/win.

If you play Dungeon Fantasy, I think you'll like this article. Seven ready-made monsters that will rock worlds. Plus, of course, the opportunity to go buy Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 and get more.

But ultimately, I hope you have a least as much fun reading it as I had helping to write it.

February 19, 2015

The Firing Squad welcomes Brian Engard

This was far too long in coming, but in January, the Firing Squad welcomed +Brian Engard, and we discussed game design, self-publishing, and how to broaden the gaming market, among other topics. It's about a 90-minute interview.

I interacted with Brian first as a contact about the interview with +Steve Jackson, only to discover that Brian has a ton of notches on his belt, from design work with +Leonard Balsera on Fate Core, as well as Spirit of the Century and Shadow of the Century, and Strange Tales of the Century.

He's also self-published a very different kind of game, called Becoming, which is part improv theater, part RPG, and likely different than anything that you've seen before.

Give a listen!





MP3 Audio File


Text Transcript (Forthcoming)

February 17, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - Journey and Recon in Highgarden

OK, we jump right back in, waking up in Phandelver with the town still intact, and us heading out to Tain via Highgarden Manor. We look to see if we could bring a few fast riders, that we could dispatch in case we need to send a "LOOK OUT, VIOLENCE" warning back to Phandelver. We look around, and there are no horses, let alone fast horses, to be found anywhere. Only mules, oxen, and other mining-friendly beasts. We decide on runners instead, and Devan and Tomas step up. One of them brags he brought a midwife to town - there and back - in the time it usually takes to get just there.

He's hired.


February 16, 2015

Spell Choices for the 4th-level paladin

I'm playing in +Rob Conley  Majestic Wilderlands campaign, using D&D 5th edition as the ruleset. I'm playing a Paladin of 4th level, following Oath of Devotion. The character background and full writeup can be found here.

I've got six spell slots plus Sanctuary and Protection from Evil/Good which are Oath abilities and therefore always prepared. What I'm wondering is, in the collective experience, what spells are effective in what conditions and fit with the character concept.

My experience with D&D magic is somewhat limited, and I'm very interested in actual play anecdotes about where each spell might be more and less useful.

Note that at fourth level, I am only selecting from the fifteen 1st-level spells, of which two are pre-selected. So I'm basically choosing from half the list. My paladin is focused on sharp combat, defeating those that oppress the weak, and putting himself in the way of harm.

I tried the Stack Exchange forum, but since I'm asking for actual opinions and data, that seems to be off topic - that forum seems to be strictly right/wrong answer driven, which is not what I'm looking for.

So, here's the list from which I must choose:

  • Bless
  • Command
  • Compelled Duel
  • Cure Wounds
  • Detect Evil/Good
  • Detect Magic
  • Detect Poison and Disease
  • Divine Favor
  • Heroism
  • Protection from Evil
  • Purify Food and Drink
  • Searing Smite
  • Shield of Faith
  • Thunderous Smite
  • Wrathful Smite

I already have Proection from Evil (and Sanctuary, for that matter). Perhaps the right way to go here is to talk about what's not appropriate. Detect Magic and Poison/Disease doesn't seem the right thing for my guy. He's all about putting himself between overt threats - that was the curse/blessing that the fey elf and Veritas called him for. Likewise, Purify Food and Drink seems equally off-base.

Compelled Duel almost screams at me that it's mandatory, so I'll mark it that way. "Face the wrath of the Hand of Veritas!" seems just perfectly in character. Shield of Faith fits in perfectly with the Protection fighting style, so that has to go on the list. Four more.

That puts me at

  • Bless
  • Command
  • Compelled Duel
  • Cure Wounds
  • Detect Evil/Good
  • Detect Magic
  • Detect Poison and Disease
  • Divine Favor
  • Heroism
  • Protection from Evil
  • Purify Food and Drink
  • Searing Smite
  • Shield of Faith
  • Thunderous Smite
  • Wrathful Smite

So, of the four remaining choices, where would you go?

Edit: Based on the comments and another day's play, I've made some more selections, with the definites in bold, and the options in red. I actually used Command in the game on Feb 16 to cause the surrender of a person that we might have otherwise had to kill. Bless is twice-recommended, so that's probably in. Healing never goes out of style, so Cure Wounds isn't a bad call, but Heroism and Divine Favor also have some compelling qualities.

So I'm down to "Pick two of Cure Wounds, Divine Favor, and Heroism." I agree that spending a spell slot on 2d8 extra damage for my channel divinity ability (and more still with higher level spell slots, which I don't currently have) is worth more than the smite spells. Plus I enjoy the visceral feeling of whacking things with swords.

February 15, 2015

You got your GURPS in my D&D 2 - slashing mace

I saw a question on the RPG Stack Exchange which got my wheels turning briefly. "Hey," said a user. "I want to use a particular ability in 3.5, but it requires two slashing weapons, and my guy uses maces. I want a slashing mace!" The question also had a lot of rules-specific questions about some sort of wardancing, but that wasn't what my focus was, and I'm unqualified to offer advice on that sort of thing anyway.

I put my GURPS hat on for a moment - always a mistake for D&D - and said "but hey, a top-heavy weapon that does slashing damage is a common thing. It's called an axe."

I was, of course, immediately downvoted. But still, Pathfinder gives a warhammer 1d8 Bashing damage (Warhammers should probably do piercing - they're basically military picks, but easy mistake and probably legacy to the game) while battleaxes do 1d8 Slashing damage. Basically, the same weight of blow but different damage type, which is pretty much how GURPS would classify it, and how, within the one-handed martial weapons category, Pathfinder (the only 3.5-style book I have on my shelf) seems to as well.

Flip-flip-flip. Yep. D&D5 has the same similarity. 1d6 slashing for the hand-axe, 1d6 bludgeoning for the light mace; 1d8 bludgeoning for the warhammer, 1d8 slash for the battleaxe. It does have a "war pick" at 1d8 piercing (I'm sure Pathfinder does too), so all the top-heavy variants are covered.

I did suggest a combo weapon as well - mace on one side, axeblade on the other. I even found a decent example.