Monday, May 28, 2012

Whiney Gamer Syndrome

How the hell did D&D fall into the situation it has been in for a couple decades now where many participants are averse to risk of character death?

It has gotten so bad that recent editions are full of things to keep the characters safe, protecting them more and more from the long scythe of Death. Buckets of starting hitpoints, deep negative hit point allowences before death can lay actual claim, death saves (I'm guilty of this one), easier and more readily available healing including the famous wand of healing (which as I recall was prevelant in 3e), healing sugres, and now in the playtest docs for D&D Next, a renamed form of surges along with full hit point recovery after a long rest. Add in the nerfing of level draining, and a few other tid bits, and you have Dungeons and Wussies.

I blame Dungeon Masters.

You heard me right, Dungeon Masters. Plot intensive games where characters are tied so tightly to a plotline that their death in play could wreck an entire campaign are the fault of Dungeon Masters. Setting the campaign plots up to require characters to survive till the end of the campaign and not leaving an "out" in the over-arching story has lead to the creation of more and more safety nets for PCs.

This need for protecting the plot by decreasing the risk of PC death through ever increasing safety net rules has accumulated into many people thinking that is what D&D is supposed to play like. They are suffering from Whiney Gamer Syndrome.

There is a cure. DMs have to stop creating plotlines so important in and of themselves that the death of a character ruins everything. Learn to leave plots open and flexible. Give up on detailed prophesies. Instead make them so vague players will only be able to verify what it means after everything is complete. Stop rail-roading. You can always return to sandbox style play and relieve your weary head of the worry that your precious plot will murder the campaign. And stop coddling the players and their characters. There is a cure.

"But wait" you say, "DMs can't be the only ones at fault?"

You're right. TSR and WotC bear some of the blame. By failing to provide solid DM advice in the DMGs on how to avoid these pitfalls when crafting campaigns, they bear some responsibility for the spreading plague of Whiney Gamer Syndrome.

WotC has an opportunity with the upcoming edition to begin vaccinating the D&D community against this scourge. Take the buckets o'hit points away from starting characters. Get rid of the Everyone is healed fully after a single long rest. Let undead be as nasty as they should be. These things have to be adjusted in the core set of rules. Sure leave some soft options available as modular options, but get back the focus of it being a game with challenges to overcome. Players should have to make some hard decisions and there should be plenty of risk, otherwise you can phone it in or send out an email every week telling the players their xp and treasure without actually playing the game.

So Wizards, are you up for making 5e the edition it should be?

To quote a friend of mine "it wouldn't be called an adventure if it didn't involve risks".

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More 5e playtest document skimming and thoughts

I've now begun to read through the How To Play document and skim the DM Guidelines document. Again, note, these comments are given without having actually played. Also it will help to have your copy of the playtest documents handy to comprehend some of these notes.

One thing reading through the Dm and How to Play docs did was clarify the Rounds vs Turns thing a slight bit. Yes, there is some mixed use, but the intent to use rounds instead of turns as the combat time period has been made clear.

Something that really sticks out to me favorably is how they are handling the Conditions. The clear way these are described and the mechanics work is well done thanks to how the Advantage/Disadvantage rule functions.

Ethereal appears to be taking the place of non-corporeal.

Invisible still leaves me wondering a bit about the DC to detect and locate the invisible character or creature, but I am not anywhere near as skepticle as I was during the rumors and leaks phase of things. It appears to be an opposed roll from the reading.

Frightened is good. Fear has always been tough one to cope with for a player and sometimes inconvenient for a DM. This version simplifies it greatly.

Intoxicated is one I want to see in actual play. I'm not in favor of the "buckets o'hit points" so I'm inclined to think a lower die type of damage resistance might work better for what I see as D&D feel. A d6 seems high. This also might be abusable. Testing required.

The Death and Dying rules are geared toward the "bucket o'hit points" style characters, but they should work fine, especially for more story intense games.

Under the Heading "Healing" the rule listed is almost identical to a house rule my campaign has been using for a year. The only difference is my rule has characters healing from 1 hit point and the Next version is healing from 0 hit points.

Hit Dice and rests. This doesn't stike me as having a D&D feel just from reading it. It seems to be too far into the risk averse category of play which takes the tension and anticipation away from the game. Without risk there isn't much reason to plan or prepare, or be concerned with failure. The planning, prep, and concern is a big part of D&D for me.

Under Equipment and Money, it looks as if the rumor of going to the silver standard might have been just a rumor. The gold piece standard remains intact.

The way armor and Dexterity modifiers works seems broken. While someone without good dex will benefit most from heavy armor, having a good dex makes it a better deal to go with the higher end of the light armor. You have the advantage of lower weight, better mobility, lower cost, and in many instances better total AC compared to people in medium and heavy armor. This definitely needs work.

The inability to lose a spell when clobbered by something while casting doesn't appeal. Doesn't feel like D&D to me. Again, another risk averse, "I don't wanna lose" mentality. It would appeal more if the character had to make a check to avoid losing the spell instead of never losing the spell. Give it some drama.

I won't go into the equipment list yet since there really isn't much of interest, and there's not much I want to discuss yet on spells with this minor exception: Turn Undead is being tested as a spell instead of an ability. (Have not read character sheets yet.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beginning to examine the playtest documents for 5e

I have finally been able to download the playtest documents from the WotC site. It will be a little before I get a chance to play and see how things really function, but I do want to start by skimming the stuff and mentioning things that stick out just on a quick read.

I'll do a section at a time and will not be copying anything from the document so having your own copy may greatly enhance your understanding of what my comments mean.

Since this is only from a quick read and not from play experience it lacks some perspective playing would provide. With that in mind I intend to come back to blog about how it plays if/when I get the chance to give it a thorough going over with the dice.

Here then is the notes I made while skimming the Bestiary included in the playtest materials.

From Bestiary
Creature saves – instead of giving them ability scores, how about a single save score which can be modified according to individual creature through varied situations at the DMs desire.
Same with their skills, just assign a score and don’t complicate things by making it derived from stats.
Monsters shouldn’t be treated like characters.
How do you identify the creature’s level? I see no sign of level or hit dice in the stat blocks.
Calling rounds turns is confusing for players used to turns being 10 minutes. It also is not D&D-like, except for those only exposed to 4e.
Bushwhack seems somewhat overpowered. Is it single use or if the creature remains hidden (does invisible count for this?) does it continue to get the bonus?
The DC for centipede poison saves seems too easy to avoid.
Creatures with spells should not be treated as PCs with regard to flexibility in slot. This creates too much for the DM to remember.  Set it and forget it so the DM has one less decision in play and can instead make such decisions ahead of play time and not have to read the unnecessary text during the encounter.
Cunning Tactics also seems somewhat overpowered when it comes to extra damage. Having allies being able use advantage already increases the likelihood of extra damage without that option. Combine Cunning Tactics with Dirty Tricks and you have a recipe for large amounts of damage. Low level characters should not have deep buckets of hit points to begin with and their traditional low level enemies should not be a danger just based on damage potential.
The Corrosion ability listed with the Gray Ooze sounds nifty. The concern is that this may add another element to keep track of which can be forgotten or overlooked.
Pestilence under Dire Rat doesn’t model disease well, instead making it just give extra damage on an attack. Not d&d-like.
Under Stirge, the Attach ability includes an extra die roll to avoid attaching. If it hits it should attach and not eat up extra time with the roll.
Blood Drain under Stirge is problematic by forcing the tracking of a condition and being deadlier that traditional Stirges.  If 3 Stirges attach it is instant death.
Troll regeneration is the same as 4e. It is workable, and may be good due to simplicity, but doesn’t feel much like the traditional troll.
The Wight’s Enervation is interesting. Instead of having to recalculate everything after losing levels or having to keep a folder with earlier character sheets, it nicely avoids this issue by using temporary maximum hit point status. Unfortunately having all ill effects go away after a full/long rest weakens the fear that these undead should generate and takes away the need to make important and tense decisions the older versions resulted in for characters and players. Give some real permanence back to the loss while having clerical means to fix the problem and the fear comes back without the book-keeping issues for losing levels.
Need more details about how long after death a zombie victim rises as a zombie. This is a flavorful addition to an old standard bringing them a little more in line with pop culture in a way that doesn’t take away from them being a D&D staple.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My problem with 5e

The open playtest started today, but many people (me included) are unable to download the materials. So I can't comment on anything in the playtest materials. Sheesh!

Come on WotC, you could have done much better than this with the downloads. You had options. Beef up broadband capacity, or do it a less expensive way such as quietly opening it up in waves throughout the week to cut down on the server load you had to know you were going to get hit with when launching the playtest.

Looks like I'll have to wait until they can fix the issue before diving into the pros and cons of early Next.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flushed And Gone Swirlin' - Level Drain

Level draining undead and magic is a topic of no little controversy in the game. It is easy to see the side of many people whose characters have been on the receiving end of this type of attack or the DMs whose campaign was torpedoed by their own bad guys. It was Monday night's session of the weekly game that got me thinking on this topic after my dwarf - Ollimarus - lost a level to a wight while exploring a temple.

Ollimarus had just squeaked over the XP threshold from 4th to 5th level at the start of the session. This was actually a good thing. Instead of being close to 6th level and ending up back at the half-way point in 4th level, he doesn't have as much of a deficit to make up to get back to where he was. Also, he is still almost as effective. His saves remained the same, and the 1 point of thaco and 7 hitpoints, while important, are not as critical as they could have been.

Sadly we expect more level drainers to be inside this temple. Good thing we have two clerics. Too bad they lack the levels to cast Restore.

As a player I am not the least bothered by losing the newly won level. I dread possibly losing more levels, but I relish the style of play we are engaged in with all the inherent risks to the characters. Ollimarus is my second character in this campaign, the previous one having become fish food.

There are some that argue the way level drain is handled throughout most of the editions doesn't make sense, how can you forget things and lose skills and abilities you already had. I prefer to think of it as the effects of post traumatic stress from an incredibly frightening and damaging attack on the very fabric of the character's essence. It isn't that the victim loses those abilities, skills, etc, it is more that the trauma makes it nearly impossible for the victim to perform at the pre-incident level of competence until enough time and healing has taken place, reflected in having to regain lost experience.

In a sandbox environment and even most story campaigns this can be accounted for easily enough. However in some situations where character survival and ability is tightly tied to advancement of the plot, the standard level drain method has the potential to wreck a game without some means of rapidly compensating for the loss of character functionality.

For story based campaigns I like to tweak level drain to track much closer to how 3rd edition and 3.5e handled it. The character gets -1 to all checks, attack rolls, and saves for each level drained and then rolls a save after the next full rest to see if any of the losses stick. Successful saves restore the lost level, failure means having to find a cleric that can cast restore, or if unable to find one within the time limit, kiss that level goodbye and fix it the old-fashioned way, re-earn the lost XP.

One of the reasons I don't have a big issue with lost levels is that I enjoy letting the dice have a voice in telling the collective story. Some of the more interesting gamer stories I've heard or been party to, were made that interesting because of, not in spite of random outcomes playing a role.

So sure, my character is down a level, his hard won, cherished, shiney new level, and he may lose more in this dungeon, but hey, there's a story to be told and treasure to be gained! Onward!
XP Muncher

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Dice Are A Lie Zazzle Store News

I have set all the prices in my Zazzle store (link to the right under Caves of Chaos) to drop, effective Monday. (Maybe even as soon as Sunday).

Also I am looking for a cartoonist to do some work for me. I have a t-shirt design in mind I'd like to get done.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Monster - Blighter

I neglected to mention what the Infant Obscenity is capable of gating in to assist it. Well, here they are - Blighters.

The demon gated in over a dozen allies. The Blighters were quickly everywhere. Dundell Brownbones was surrounded by 5 of them with two of them trying to climb all over him, his helmet and shield covered in splotches of necrotic saliva. Luckily they missed his exposed skin.

Wisma had tried to avoid them by climbing into the exposed rafters, but quickly found herself dangling from a beam with two above her, drool forming at the corners of their wretched little mouths at the thought of spitting on her head and stomping her fingers.

A few of them were distracted by a desire to play with some of the younger orphans much to the plague demon's annoyance and our great concern.

Beorn was in great difficulty facing the major demon and dealing with a Blighter gnawing at his ankle. It wasn't any better for the rest of us. Every time we hit the plague demon we were lucky if we avoided the disease bearing bile and puss that splattered everywhere. Now, like Beorn, we had all been bitten by these new enemies and the signs of disease quickly became evident on all of us. 

# Encountered: 2d12 (gated 1/day without failure, by Plague Demon) or 5d10
Alignment: Chaos (evil)
Movement: 120 (40), climb 20
AC: 2
Hit Dice: (1 hit die) special, see below
Attacks: 1 (bite) 1d3 + disease, and special
Save: F5
Morale: 7 (9 in presence of more powerful demon)
Hoard Class: see below
XP: 110

Blighters are the even meaner cousins of Imps. While they will not directly attack infants, toddlers, and young children, preferring to play with them and lure them into patterns of evil behaviour, everyone and everything else is fair game for their torments.

Though Blighters are only 1 hit die creatures they are far more dangerous. As demons they are immune to sleep and charm effects. They save as 5th level fighters, magic weapons are required to hit them, a save vs poison is needed to avoid contracting a disease, and they can spit once a day at +4 to hit to a range of 30 feet. The spittle causes a necrosis to set in causing 1d3 damage immediately and if the target fails a save vs Breath Attack they suffer ongoing damage of 1 point every 10 minutes, preventable by spells such as Remove Curse, Cure Disease, Wish, etc, and Protection from Evil will hedge this out.. Also this can be slowed by use of Neutralize Poison. This spittle also causes rotting in anything it hits. Gradually the object decays/rots. Holy water will neutralize the effect on objects preventing further damage.

Blighters only interest in treasure is to collect toys from children they have tried to corrupt. Once in a while (15% chance) when a Blighter is killed and crumbles to ash, there may be a small toy in the pile that has some monetary value, perhaps inlaid or encrusted with gold or gems.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Monster - Infant Obscenity (Plague Demon)

The bastards had done it. The cultists had summoned a demon before we could stop them. Not just any demon, but a Plague Demon, an Infant Obscenity, right in the middle of an orphanage. The wailing cacophony of cries from the mass of dead and dying infants was nearly impossible to bear, and Noree suffered the worst of it, breaking and running for the exit. For the rest of us the sound made it feel as if we were walking through mud. Beorn's ears began to bleed just as his blade sank deep into the beast.

Several of the children huddled around the edges of the room began showing immediate signs of illness, one even coughed up thick bloody chunks and died on the spot. We had to stop this thing.

Plague Demon - Infant Obscenity

# Encountered: 1
Alignment: Chaos (evil)
Move: 90 (30)
AC: 0
Hit Dice: 13 + 13
Attacks: 2 (fist), see below
Special Attacks & Defenses: see below
Damage: 2d8 + disease
Save: F13
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XVI in lair only, none otherwise.
XP: 6,000

Truly a horror to behold, one of the major plague demons, the Infant Obscenity appears as a shambling mass of babies in various stages of necrotic decay displaying numerous diseases and infections. The mass of infants cries perpetually and can be heard up to a half mile distant. The primary focus of this demon is to spread disease to infants and to bring about terrible plagues of infant mortality as it wanders.

Three times per day the creature may "wail" as if hundreds of infants cried at one time in horrible anguish. This will affect anyone within 120 feet. Those who save vs Petrify/Paralyze are slowed to half speed as long as they remain within 120 feet of the creature. Those who fail the save must flee in fear for 2d4 rounds.

The demon can be struck by normal weapons since part of its purpose is to spread plague, and injury to it often results in just such an event.

Anyone striking the creature with a melee attack causes gouts of puss, and bile to explode forth, causing all within 30 feet to save vs poison of contract a disease (DMs may wish to roll randomly from a table of their own design or just pick one) which incubates immediately. The victim also becomes a carrier of the disease, spreading it wherever they travel unless treated with Cure Disease followed by Remove Curse.

The creature regenerates 5 hit points per round unless a cleric succeeds at a turn attempt against infernal creatures, preventing further regeneration.

It is immune to sleep, hold, and charm spells. Cold based spells slow the creature, but also improve its AC by 2. Raise Dead cast on the creature slays it outright if it fails a save vs Death.

As with all demons it has the following abilities:
Infravision (90E)
Half damage from cold-based attacks
Half damage from electrical-based attacks
Half damage from fire-based attacks (all)
Half damage from gas-type attacks
Gate (varies in expression, not available to lower order demons)
Telepathy (allows all languages to be understood)
Teleport without error (not available to lower order demons)

Attacks by the Infant Obscenity are by "fist" which is a mass formed of infants. Such hits force a save vs poison. Failure indicates infection by disease.

The Plague Demon can detect invisible creatures within 120 feet on a roll of 1-4 on a d6.

Slaying the demon remands it to its plane of origin for one year and a day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Red Knife - Legendary Giant Eagle

Red Knife as he is known, was not born an Eagle, but was instead an adventuresome young man. He along with his companions set out to assault the tower of an ogre wizard. Insisting he could best help the party if he were able to fly to the top of the tower with rope, he had the party arcanist polymorph him into a giant eagle. He ascended into the sky and made his way to the window at the tower peak which led to the ogre wizards lab. Sensing an opportunity he flew in and unfortunately encountered their target. Realizing he could not defeat the ogre alone, he chose to escape, but wanted to not have the effort be a complete failure he picked up a magical red-hilted dagger from the wizards table. Unfortunately the polymorph could not be reversed. Red Knife remembers very little of his life as a human.

Giant Eagle stats from LL AEC, modifications in red:

No. Enc.: 1 - Unique
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30E (10E)
Fly: 480E (120E)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 3 (1 claws, bite, magic dagger)
Damage: 1d6/1d4 + 3/2d6
Save: F5
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XI, XXII (no coins)
XP: 350
The grand, giant eagles have a 20ft. wingspan. They nest on
large cliffs or other out of the way rocky areas. Their eyesight is
so finely honed that during the day they are impossible to
surprise. In addition to their normal claw and beak attacks, giant
eagles may use a dive attack that deals 2d6 damage per claw,
with no beak attack possible. They may instead opt to carry
away prey, and can carry up to 200 lbs. at half their normal
movement. When a nest is encountered there is a 60% chance
that there are 1d4 young, otherwise there are a like number of
eggs. Giant eagles are intelligent, and have a kind fondness for
elves and dwarves.
Dagger damage is doubled on a dive attack.
The dagger is +3, of wounding, causing an additional hit point of damage each round for 1d8 rounds or until magical healing by potion or spell is applied, whichever comes first.

Eagle, Giant

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Influences on D&D

The Vorpal blade is perhaps one of the best known of the iconic D&D weapons. The origin for the weapon is from the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol. Mentioned twice in the poem, the blade was used to defeat the Jabberwock, which he beheaded and took the gruesome trophy home to prove his victory over the beast.

What the poem does not explicitly state is that the blade slew the beast by beheading it in combat, merely that the hero took the creature's head home with him after slaying it. Despite this lack of confirmation for a neck severing fetish, that is how has been depicted in the rules of the game from the early days.

Vorpal weapons rank among the many powerful obstacles to the survival of Big Bad Evil Guys during campaigns, and many a longterm campaign plot has had it's head handed to the DM by the lucky stroke from this amazing weapon.

Anyone have a story of how this weapon was used to humorous effect in a game you took part in?


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872) `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chess - another hobby of mine.

It was chess club that introduced me to the wargaming group which eventually led to my finding out about D&D.

As it turns out the United States Championship began on Tuesday May 8th featuring 12 of the top players in the country, and today the World Championship gets officially underway between challenger Boris Gelfand and reigning world champ Viswanathan Anand.

For detailed info on both events, and others, follow the link to Chessbase.

It was D&D and a lack of natural chess talent, that led to my switching primary hobbies and staying mostly a board and rp gamer instead of focusing on competetive chess. My rating never broke the lower rankings despite some strength at my peak of play that indicated above average skill. Sadly, inconsistancy and distractions like a certain lovely young woman at a tournament in 1989 sort of did in what may have been my best chance for decent money from playing chess. I did have some memorable tournaments, but lets face it, in D&D we all win.

The Hellraiser of chess I was not.
I still fancy a game of chess from time to time and with a couple very major events happening right now I kind of have the urge to hunt up some opponents. Chess anyone?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The most frightening monster . . .

Beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the most frightening monsters characters can encounter is the lowly Rust Monster. It isn't that it is deadly in and of itself. Heck it could care less about fleshy creatures, unless they have tasty metal with them!

In the weekly game, we recently had the final watch of our rest interrupted by two of these things galumphing into camp trying to devour every last bit of metal we had on us, which was quite a bit, some of it magically enhanced.

We dealt with them the best way we knew how . . . panic! The party thief grabbed a magic shield from one of the two clerics and high-tailed it to the opposite side of camp. The cleric on watch tried to face them down and lost one of the two plusses his armor previously had. My dwarf, suited in his skivvies and bearing his wyvern scale covered shield and an old hand axe interposed between the camp and the critters.

Martin the Ineluctable struck at them with a brace of magic missiles. That worked as it was first blood (technically) and they apparently didn't like the taste of his bitter bolts. The two fled our camp and the cleric with the wounded armor cast light on the tail of one as they dodged out of sight between some boulders.

The party then got our collective butts 200 feet higher up the cliff we camped at the bottom of. Thankfully those bastards don't fly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Borrowed Monster - Manbearpig


# Encountered: 1 - unique
Alignment: Chaos (evil)
Movement: 240 (80)
AC: varies (roll 1d6: 1,2 = AC6 , 3,4 = AC7 , 5,6 = AC8)
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 2 Damage: bite 1d10, claw 1d8, or by weapon type
Save: F10
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: none
Special Defences: normal weapons do 1 point of damage max, imaginary (illusion) weapons do normal damage. Regenerates 2 points per round.
XP: 2400

Manbearpig is believed to have been summoned into existence as fear made manifest and terrible by the dual wizard Park Stoner when under the influence of what was thought to be powerful mana boosting mushrooms. Whilst attempting a summoning for hot food from a nearby tavern the dual wizard inadvertently mumbled something like "Man this is unbearable, I could really go for some bacon."

As intelligent as a common man with mind clouded by rage and a desperate craving for truffles, Manbearpig appears suddenly, without warning and savagely slaughters all it encounters.

Manbearpig only suffers a maximum of 1 point of damage from normal weapons no matter how strong the wielder, but illusionary (imaginary) weapons cause typical damage for the type including the bonus appropriate to the weilder. Once damaged, Manbearpig begins to regenerate at a rate of 2 points per round.

It is rumored that Manbearpig can use wands, staves, and rods, and will berserkly expend charges during a rampage should it get control of these items.

Manbearpig has no treasure, but anyone wandering through the site of a recent onslaught might avail themselves of things lying around presently untended and say "Manbearpig must have stolen it!"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Odds and Ends

I am feeling under the weather. Seems to be something going around lately.

Meanwhile I'm still working on the Druid class and hope to have something new up for it soon.

Was reminded that Free RPG Day is set for June 16th and as usual, there are no stores in my area taking part.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Modified Deck of Many Things

One of D&D's most feared, campaign breaking, artifacts is none other than the Deck of Many Things. Some DM's refuse to use it in their campaign because of the incredibly drastic swings the individual cards can cause. Some of them even remove characters completely from the campaign until another high powered piece of magic is put to the task of reversing the harm done.

Here then is a revised 24 card deck (normally 22 cards) that I put together for possible future use with low level characters. Read it over and see what you think. Please be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments for other cards you think would also fit into the deck. Maybe we can get the total cards up to 30.

Balance - Reverse the outcome of the character's next reaction roll or diplomacy attempt.

Comet - The character is arrested and fined 500 gold and must spend 1d6 days in jail. Paying 1000 gold allows the character to remain free.

Donkey - The character finds a wandering pack animal with packs and saddlebags full of 2d6 days of rations and water.

Euryale - The character suffers a penalty of 2 on all saves for one month beginning immediately.

Fates - Player may have the DM reroll one result and take the worst of the two results.

Flames - Someone not yet met becomes an enemy.

Fool - The character loses 200 experience points and must draw from the deck again.

Gem - The next gem the character finds is worth twice the initially appraised value.

Idiot - All intelligenced based rolls are penalized by 1 for one month beginning immediately.

Jester - The character gains 200 experience points or may draw two more times from the deck.

Key - A potion or scroll is found on the characters next search attempt.

Knight - A man-at-arms appears in the near future and serves the character for one month.

Moon - The next difficult task performed by the character is given a bonus of +10.

Planet - The character gains a specialist hireling follower profient in a trade, willing to work for them.

Rogue - An NPC ally turns against them.

Ruin - The character loses treasure worth up to 200 gold at a future time.

Skull - The character will be ambushed by an undead of equal level when alone.

Star - One ability score is increased by 1 for the next month.

Sun - The character finds a wonderous magic item on the next search attempt.

Talons - One magic item the character owns will be destroyed in the near future.

Throne - The character finds a deed to a ruined castle.

Vizier - The character may ask one free question of a sage.

The Void - If the character fails the next death save attempted, the character is instead in a month long coma.

Donkey and Planet were the two additions I made to the deck to allow for use of a 24-sided die, but adding another 6 couldn't hurt since it allows for use of a 30 sider or the swapping of cards for a smaller deck of the DM's intentions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

That was fast . . .

The new design is already available in the zazzle store. Check out the stuff there and let me know what you would like to see. Also if you would prefer the design without the blog url it can be easily arranged.

New Art for the blog and merchandise.

Once again I am a shameless marketing whore. :)

I had some additional work done by Mark Allen, the gentleman responsible for the cool banner logo above, and had him pull the image below out and blow it up for use on shirts, mugs, and other things in my zazzle store. (the link is to the right below The Caves of Chaos).

Here, in dramatic fashion is the combat scene from the logo:
Notice the not-so-subtle blog url placed ever so gently in your face . . .  :)

If you are interested in getting this design on some items, please click the link for the store and have fun. The design should be available sometime in the next 48 hours if you don't see it right away.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Spell - Ineluctable Elevator

Martin's Ineluctable Elevator

Level: 2
Duration: 2 rounds + 2 rounds per caster level
Range: 60 feet

Martin the Ineluctable developed a fascination with mobility spells, especially of the sort concerned with vertical movement, after an expedition where such spells proved themselves invaluable. Concerned that the requirement for such spells would reduce combat effectiveness, Martin began researching ways to use these spells on other people including enemies.

If cast on a willing target it functions just like the spell Levitation and does not require a saving throw. If cast on an unwilling target, the victim must save versus spells to avoid the effect. (it isn't completely ineluctable)

While Levitation cast on self has a very long duration, Martin found that this had to be sacrificed in order to make it useful at range and against unwilling targets.

(note: This is inspired by a player in the weekly game whose character Martin the Ineluctable recently made very effective use of the Levitation spell.)