Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Feywild deck ideas

So it has been a while since my last post (blogging is harder then it looks!), sorry for the delay.  Here are some ideas for the feywild Bright Beauty deck.  The problem I have been having with this particular idea is pecking traits to amplify, some sound great until you sit down and try to think of mechanical implications for them.

So without further ado, here is a list of five traits that the Bright Beauty can have an effect on, more to come soon.


Luck
"Oh wow did you just see that?  Wait, No!  Not that!"

You can crit on a 19 or better, but you also miss on a 2 or less.
For each Milestone this effects lasts for increase both the ranges by 1.

Rage
"You don't want to see me angry..."

You gain a +5 bonus to all damage rolls, in addition each ally adjacent to targets you damage take 5 damage that cannot be negated in any way.

For each milestone this effect lasts for increase  both the bonus and damage to allies by 2.

Confidence
"I can take them all on myself!"

You gain a +2 bonus to your attacks but a -2 Penalty to all defenses.

For each milestone this effect lasts increase both the bonus and penalty by 1

Pride
"I can do it all by myself!  Leave me alone!"

You gain a +2 bonus to skill checks made on your own but you and your allies take a -2 penalty to group checks you participate in.

For each milestone this effect lasts increase both the bonus and penalty by 1

Apathy
"I suppose I could fight... But maybe in a bit."

For the first round of each combat you gain a +5 bonus to all defenses but you can only take one action.

For each milestone this effect lasts increase the number of rounds this effect lasts by 1




Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Bright Beauty

I just received the Shadowfell: Gloomwright and Beyond box set and I am loving ever single page of it so far.  One part that stands out in particular for me is the despair deck, it is a deck of 30 cards that simulates the effect of the shadowfell upon your character.

For instance one of the apathy cards (They are split up into three different kinds, Apathy, Fear and Madness) Clumsy makes it so that whenever you roll a natural 1 on an attack, skill roll or saving throw you fall prone.  Sound bad?  Well don't worry there are ways of getting rid of despair effects.  At each milestone you roll a saving throw and depending on if you have training in a key skill you gain a +2 to that roll you can get rid of the despair and gain a boon.  Clumsy turns into being able to reroll a natural 1 once an encounter.

So what does this have to do with "The Bright Beauty" an effect of the feywild?  Simple, I think a deck like this could easily simulate the effect that the glamor of the feywild can have on your character.

I am imagining a small deck of cards that give you a boon at a cost, so something that you might either want to keep around or drop like a hot potato.  For instance, perhaps a card that represents an aggressive streak in your character coming to the surface, you gain a +5 damage bonus to all attacks, but at the cost of any ally adjacent to an enemy you attack takes 5 damage.  In fact lets make on up quick:



Not that bad, poaching a bit from the despair deck I would say that you can choose to roll to remove these every milestone.  Though depending on the one you get you might just want to keep them, perhaps a progressively worsening effect might simulate losing yourself in the Bright Beauty.  Maybe the above card could be improved by having each milestone you keep it the damage to enemies and allies grow by two, so you get more dangerous but to everyone.

Well I am going to think on this idea more as I page through my new toy, Ill post more on it later!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Strange Items

All throughout the world there are failed inventions of mad tinkerers, thats not to say that they were ineffective.  But rather that they might not have had the applications they were originally designed for.  Lets take a look at a few.

Alchemical Launcher


Designed originally to be a method for delivering message capsules by launching them from a spring loaded tube, it was discovered later on that it was just easier (and cheaper) to grab a young recruit and have him run the message.

It was only after some Kobolds found their way into a warehouse looking to steal some food did they find their most fun toys yet.  They stole the launchers and adapted them to fire their gluepots, firepots and whatever else they could fit down the barrel.

Perhaps you have come into ownership of one of these failed inventions after a particularly fearful Kobold dropped it after a failed raid.

Alchemical Launcher
Ranged Superior two-handed weapon
Proficiency +3
Damage Varies
Range 20/40
Price 150gp
Weight 25 lb

Special: This weapon must be used in conjunction with alchemical items, you can add the proficiency bonus to attack rolls and an extra 1d6 to any effects that have rolls.

Enchanted versions of this weapon deal add and additional 1d6 per plus to effects that have rolls


Grabshot


When the foreman asked for a new way to grab the crates and pull them onto the wagons, one of his men combined a crossbow with a grappling claw.  The device never say the light of day though as the man realized his calling to the adventurers life.


Grabshot
Melee Superior one-handed weapon
Proficiency +3
Damage 1d8
Range Reach 3
Price 100gp
Weight 7 lb

Special: When a target is hit by the grabshot the target cannot move further away from the user then the range of the weapon.  The target can end this effect by making an escape action and the user of this weapon can end the  effect as a free action.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Themed Themes: Feywild Themes pt.1

So I was thinking about themes and how they can be applied to the feywild, I came up with a few ideas, in fact here is one right now!


Courtier (or Courtisian) of the Fey Courts

The Fey Courts are the base of power in the Feywild.  They are filled with numerious sycophants, each vying for power and notibility within the court.

Creating a Courtier or Courtisian of the Winter Prince

When creating a Courtier or Courtisian of the Fey Courts Choose a court to ally with, this will determine effects on your powers and boons you might gain.

Summer Court
Probably the most well know of all the courts, the Summer Queen presides with the most curiocity toward mortals and less powerful creatures.  Why do you follow the Summer Queen and her unpredictable nature?  What role do you hold in the court?  Does the Queen have a fondness for you?

Green Lords - In Progress

Winter Court
There are those whom willingly choose to take the path of Winter, those that do find a harsh journey ahead of them and to the few that survive the journey find even harsher masters.

The Winter Prince is not very fond of mortals, but there are very few that prove themselves find themselves in a unique situation where their position can carry power but they are subject to the whims of the Winter Prince.  What drove you to this path?  What is your position in the Winter Court?

Sea Lords - In Progress

Gloaming Court - In Progress

Starting Feature

Just being associated with any of the Fey Courts is enough to make any opponent have second thoughts in attacking you or your party.

Benefit:

You gain the Presence of the Courts power

Presence of the Court Courtier of the Fey Courts Attack
Your mere presence is enough to cause uncertanty 
among your opponents.

Encounter * Primal, Varies
Summer Court: Charm
Winter Court: Fear
Minor Action                              Close Burst 2
Target: Each enemy in burst
Attack: Highest Ability +2 vs. Will
Level 11: Highest Ability + 4 vs. Will
Level 21: Highest Ability + 6 vs. Will
Hit: The target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls until the end of
        your next turn
Winter Court: The target is pushed 2 squares
Summer Court: The target cannot take opportunity attacks
        until the end of your next rutn
Effect: The target is pushed 1 square
Level 11: The Penalty increases to -3
Level 21: The Penalty increases to -4

Note: I am unsure weather I should have this be a standard with some damage and a non scaling penalty or not.

Additional Features

Level 5 Feature:

The Courts are places of political intrigue, and while they all
take different approaches to it, the same basic story is the
same, manipulate your opponents to do what you wish them to.

Benefit:

You gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy Checks
Winter court: +2 bonus to Intimidate Checks
Summer court: +2 bonus to Streetwise Checks

Level 10 Feature:

Having survived the life of the courts your patrons have granted
you a boon not handed out often.

Benefit:

Cloak of Summer
Until you act hostile when you meet a creature its attitude is one
step higher then it would normally be against you.
Example: A hostile creature would be unfriendly, an unfriendly
creature would be peaceful and a peaceful creature would be
friendly.

Mantle of Cold
Any enemy that starts its turn next to you becomes slowed until
the start of its next turn.

Note:  I think the Mantle of Cold needs something non combat related rather then it's current version.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power

Winter Court: You can choose the Winter's Fury utility power
Summer Court: You can choose the Backlash utility power

Winter's Fury Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
in a moment of aggression you strike back with the full force 
of winter on your side.

Encounter * Primal
Immediate reaction
Trigger: You take damage
Effect: You can make a basic attack against the triggering enemy
with a +5 power bonus to the attack.

Backlash Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
The spirits of summer rise to shield you and to take revenge 
on your attacker.

Encounter * Primal
Immediate reaction
Trigger: You take damage
Effect:  You reduce the damage by half and the triggering enemy
takes the same amount of damage.


Level 6 Utility Power

Winter Court: You can choose the Blackmail utility power
Summer Court: You can choose the Negotiate utility power

Blackmail Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
You have survived longer in the court than most, it is due to 
your attention to the smallest details that everyone might not 
want known.

Daily * Charm
Standard Action Close Burst 5
Target: One creature in the burst that you share a language with
Effect: You can gain either a small favor  or receive information
with moderate or less risk to the target.
Special: This power cannot be used on PCs

Note: I know it is subject to DM's authority but that's how I roll.

Negotiate Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
You have a way with words, you can incite rage or calm 
the most heated discussions.

Daily * Charm
Standard Action Close Burst 5
Target: you and one creature in the burst or two creatures in the
burst that you share a language with
Effect: You can change the Atitude of the target towards you
to either, Peaceful, Unfriendly or Hostile (save ends). or eachother
to either Unfriendly or Hostile
Special: This power cannot be used on PCs
Power

Level 10 Utility Power

Winter Court: You can choose the Chill of Frost utility power
Summer Court: You can choose the Summer Breeze utility power

Chill of Frost Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
The cold winds of winter wrap around you and buffet your enemies.

Daily * Fear, Aura
Minor Action
Effect: You gain an aura 2 and gain a +2 power bonus to Intimidate
checks and enemies that start their turns within the aura take a -2 penalty
to will and fort defenses.

Summer Breeze Courtier of the Fey Court Utility
The Cool refreshing breeze of summer brings aid to your allies 
and soothes their aches.
Daily * Aura
Minor Action
Effect: You gain an aura 2 and gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks and
allies that start their turn within the aura gain a +2 power bonus to fort and
will defenses.


That was hard.  I didn't realize how much work it took to build these until I tried to.  But I think it was worth it.  Thanks to @gamefiend for the idea to combine my theme warlock style and to Phillip for helping with some of utilities and also thanks to whomever in the at-will webchat helped out!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just read the Fourth Core Armory and...

I love it and I mean all of it, from the weapons, to the wondrous items and especially the gambits.  If you have not read it yet go do so now, your soul will thank you.

For those of you who wont go read it I'll give you the rundown on gambits.  Basically they are favors that you gain/purchase from NPCs, Groups or Factions.  They range form an airship rescue to spreading a rumor around town.  They were compared to divine boons but without the divinity.  I have a few idea's of my own or credited when credit is due.


Friends in Low Places
level 5+ Uncommon

You build up a network of favors and trust with the faceless
and forgotten members of society, everything that happens in
sight of these unseen you will know about it.

Lvl 5 1,000 gp
Lvl 15 25,000 gp
Lvl 25 625,000 gp

Gambit
Property: When first acquiring this gambit,
choose a type of vagrent or low class
(such as Begger, Street Urchin or Whore; DM’s
discretion). Your use of this gambit’s
power is limited to that type of person.
Power (Action Point): No Action. Gain a +5
bonus to your next Streetwise check.
     Level 18: +10 bonus
     Level 28: +15 bonus

Partial Credit to Raron for the brainstorm


Smuggler's Contract
Level 3+ Common

You have either paid for or earned the sought after services of a
group of people whom only call themselves "movers".

Level 3 50 gp
Level 8 150 gp
Level 13 650 gp
Level 18 3,400 gp
Level 23 17,000 gp
Level 28 85,000 gp

Power (Consumable): No Action.  You procure services to transport 100 pounds of materials between two destinations within a days travel to a place of your choosing without any interference by a target group or faction you wish to hide the materials from.
Special: you can increase the travel time by adding 10gp for each day
     Level 8: 200 pounds of material and the cost per day increases to 20 gp
     Level 13: 500 pounds of material and the cost per day increases to 50 gp
     Level 18: 1000 pounds of material and the cost per day increases to 100 gp
     Level 23: 5000 pounds of material and the cost per day increases to 500 gp
     Level 28: 10000 pounds of material and the cost per day increases to 1000 gp

Note: I am not too sure on the prices for this one, I just followed the average prices for consumables.  If anyone has any other ideas please comment.


Blackmailed Arcanist
Level 10 Uncommon

All sorts of people have skeletons in their closets, but 
you have learned of a secret that you can use to your 
advantage

Lvl 10 500 gp

Power (Consumable): You can ask one question of this 
character and they will answer to the best of their knowledge 
as long as it is within their field of study chosen at the time 
of obtaining this ritual (Examples: Geography, Monster Lore, 
Arcane Arts, Etc...) this takes between 1 hour and 1 week 
(DM's discretion)
Special: after the question is asked the PC rolls a saving throw
 with a penalty to the roll equal to the number of times this power 
has been used.  On a successful roll this power is not expended.


Thats all for now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Epic After Action Report

So I played my first real epic character last night in a friend's delve and I have a few observations.

High defenses are over rated.

I created an Eladrin Feywild Guardian Knight whose defenses were in order 46/56/51/50,  Needless to say with the exception of my AC which the DM needed mostly above a 15 you hit me he needed a 20 to even hit my other defenses.  Needless to say I was an impossible to hit defender.

Not exactly a bad thing, but with another defender in the group and fighting a couple of solo monsters my aura almost never triggered and i was ignored for the most part.  So lesson learned, high defenses make for a bit of a boring encounter.

Another thing I didn't like was the plethora of choices.


I played an essentials knight, along with the slayer are probably the simplest classes in the game, at yet I had at least 4 stances, 8 encounter powers, 3 dailies (from my ED and a MC feat) and about 15 items with powers.  I was swamped through the whole thing, I had a few interrupts, and some opportunity actions but mostly on turn actions and I was the fastest one to do stuff.  Everyone else had classic 4e classes and took at least twice as long as myself to do anything.

Now that might just be because we have not grown into it and basically had level 30 characters thrown into out laps.  Perhaps epic isnt that bad when you have gone through paragon and heroic first.

This one I wont fault the DM on totally was the encounters themselves


Encounter 1 was quick, about 4 elites on a mostly empty plain.

The second one was a dog, a single beholder solo in a room with only a single square catwalk around the perimeter and randomly moving motes in the void.  The beholder stayed in the middle of the room so we had to use the motes but most of the time only one or none were adjacent to him and with 3/4 PCs melee it was hard.  Good thing I was a feywild knight with the ability to teleport a creature hit by my powers tirke or we would have hit him even less then we did.

We didn't get around to the third one because it was too late but the overall impression is that the difficulty was artificial, it was because we couldn't get to the monsters half the time and not because the encounter's were actually hard.

But even with my issues, I did have fun.  I think I could enjoy the epic tier if it was not in a delve format, maybe an adventure.

Friday, May 20, 2011

So I played Bocce last night.

And it was pretty fun.  Totally unexpected, I was walking through the park with my wife and we stopped to see what it was all about next thing I knew I was subbing for a team.  It was actually quite exciting.

Of course afterwards I do what I do with everything that I experience, I think how can I make this a part of my D&D game.  So here is what I am thinking, it's along the same lines as introducing games of chance into a game.

Wikipedia link to Bocce if you don't know how to play.

Dwarvball


In the deep halls under the earth dwarves developed their own sport, it mimics various other overworld games but dwarves dont like to acknowledge this fact.  They claim that the sport was handed to them by Moradin himself.  There are entire areas set aside in his temples and devoted show their faith by playing.

Who plays:

Two teams of equal amount of people up to 4

How to play:

Choose one d20 as the pallino, this will be rolled by the team that wins a coin toss or equivalent method.  This is the target number that you are trying to get the most rolls closest to.

The Team that rolled the pallino rolls the first of their 4 rolls and play continues as normal rules of Bocce.


Special rules:
  • To represent character skill players can modify their rolls up to half their dex mod + 2 on every roll.  
  • Rolls that match an existing number force that die to be rerolled straight with no modifiers

I realize that this method of representing the game places more emphasis on chance then actual skill, but short of actually bowling actual d20s I think it's a decent try.  What do you think?

Life Lesson: Plot and Scope

Building upon the previous two life lessons, lets take a stab at Plot and Scope.

From Zerro

So when I originally started out I railroaded, I railroaded hard.  For the longest time my game could have been described as me leading my party around by their noses from one plot to the next.  I planned everything, I remember having a flash of genius when I figured out how i was going to link where my game was at the moment to where my level 30 showdown was going to happen.


Sadly I did not know one of the more important rules of DMing at that time:  "Never point a loaded party at a plot you do not want to shoot".  After several reboots and party splits after players had left for school my original plot is in shambles and I patch it along with every little mini plot.

With scope though, I still have issues.  My party has just reached Paragon tier and they have so far:
  • Fought on the back of a rampaging primordial.
  • Become agents of the dragon god
  • Fought alongside dragons against gods
  • traveled through time to the end of the world
My players have done amazing things, to me I am finding it hard to top the previous thrill of the last adventure, their heroic tier has been so fantastic I'm not quite sure what to do with paragon.


To Herro  


As mentioned in the other life lessons, I bought a module for my group it is a sandbox adventuring site type of module and it's given me enough structure to be comfortable with letting my player run around a bit more on their own.  


Though, if I were to do it all over again.  I would probably have started small.  A city, or maybe a country side and then expanded into the rest of the world.  That doesn't mean that I would have necessarily started with saving the farm from a pack of wolves.  But rather I would have kept the adventuring "zone" small, let it become an important location.

Also knowing what I know now about improvisation and making up encounters on the fly I would not be as prone to railroading as I starting out doing.  Sly Flourish's master DM sheet is amazing for this, I have personally run an encounter or two just by using this worksheet alone.  GREAT TOOL!

I have also taken a page from Gamerfiend's Situational 4e and presented my party with situations rather then plot lines   This small bit of advice has helped me the most, it has let me still have things happen but I don't feel obligated to plan out anything until the party actually stumbles fully into a hook.

Thats all for now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Lesson: Worldbuilding

Time travel was a pain, but this next subject could have probably saved my game a lot sooner.

From Zerro 

When I started my game I had a simple premise, there was a king who left his kingdom in search of a new lad for his people.  He was never seen again and now years later the steward of the throne nears death so he calls upon adventurers to leave in search of the fate of the old king and if they returned with the news they would find themselves rulers of the kingdom.

Simple right?

Well I started mapping out some islands for the party to explore with Voyage of the Dawn Treader in mind.  But at that point I watched the entire first season of lost in a weekend.

Big Mistake.

Well watching Lost was not a mistake, using it as a majority of my inspiration was.  With that in mind my game became a never ending maze of questions.  They were lead form one island to the next fed more and more confusing clues and at one point I believe I didn't even know what was going on.

So what did I do?  my first reboot, I tore the party out of the islands and put them back into the world of the game (also at this point introducing time travel),  I had a map (below) and I was ready to begin the real story!


As you might see from the image above, I had a really empty world.  I mean there really is nothing to it, and I threw in time travel as well!  Also note that the locations marked on the map only a few on the right contenant actually were filled in at the time this has taken place.

To Herro  

So, what to do about it?  Well for mentioned in the previous post, I bought Hammerfast and placed it in the world.  I cut off the PC's method of fast travel and I anchored them to Hammerfast for the time being.

My new goal is to build outward from Hammerfast and build slowly instead of giving them a map with every location marked on it.  Perhaps without a set map in the party's hands we can do some exploring rather then just traveling from place to place.

So not a whole lot more to talk about, so I'll cut it off here, I think Ill tackle Scope and Plot next time as they pretty much go hand in hand.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life Lesson: Time Travel

I my previous post I mentioned in my list of things I learned the most from time travel definitely tops my list.  Now a bit of a disclaimer, I don't think that time travel is inherently a bad trope or would I be opposed to running some time travel game in the future, this is just my experience so far.

The Zerro   


Time is a big place, a biiig place.  Think about it for a bit, have to take the scope of your game and multiply it by how many time periods you have, thats how big your world will be if you plan on making time travel easily accessible and sandbox style.

This is how I started my game and my biggest regret, though this could have been managed in hindsight quite easily had I limited the scope of the game.  Keeping it local to maybe a town or maybe a single small country might have been manageable.  But as a first time DM I had huge dreams for my game, it was going to be quite epic.

I think That is truly the root of the issues with my game, I tried to go epic without a clear understanding of the game and the work that comes with such a grand scope.  I had fractal terrains, a few pins on the map and I thought I had it made.  I opened up the game to time travel and almost as soon as I did I realized the mistake, I reigned it back in and railroaded the game a bit to get it back on track.

When I realized the amount of work I had not done to allow this type of play to happen I panicked, I let them do some time travel, but kept it quite goal oriented and once they finished with another goal some emergency would pop up and I kept them only to the places and times where I felt like I could make the world seem like a real place.

It was a miserable time for me, the players seemed to enjoy it, but it was horrible for myself.  The game had become little more than patch after patch after patch.  There was no world, there was just a series of places and times that the party had no influence on.

The Herro 


The good news is since this problem encompasses a lot of my bad habits (railroading being the worst of them), means that I can make changes to the game and at the same time work on being a better DM.


The first change I made is to stop the time travel all together and set the PCs down in a place that they can set some roots down and hopefully we can work a bit on the PC side of the game.  This one is the hardest for me, even as I write this the railroader inside wants to set down some rails and make sure the game runs smoothly.


So a few things I did for myself as well as my players is buy Hammerfast, this has been a great resource for myself to have that sense of structure but still allow for a sandbox sort of game.  The only Issue I have so for is that Hammerfast I built to be heroic and my party just entered Paragon.  Though this isn't much of a deal I just let the party be big damn heroes for some of the issues presented in the book.

And while we are having fun eventually the time travel will have to come back into the picture, when it does come back I think it will be more of a plot device rather then a free form sandbox.  I think my original aspirations were too big for my world.

Future plans for time travel being a main mechanic in a game will require a few things:

  • A world with a history
  • Smaller scope
Without a history time travel is useless, you are just traveling between places and then what is the point of time travel?  With too large of a scope the game also can become unwieldy to manage and then it gets unfun. 


Which brings me to the end of this life lesson, next time I will talk about my experiences with worldbuilding.