Monday, December 31, 2012

Timely Topic - Falling Damage

Falling damage has differed slightly through the various versions of the D&D game and clones. The most common damage taken seems to be 1d6 per 10 feet fallen. In a recent version that changed to 1d10 damage per 10 feet.

Some versions apply modifiers for deliberately jumping, landing in water or softer substances, having the tumbling skill, etc.

In Labyrinth Lord for example the first mention I recall seeing about falling damage is in the description of the consequences of falling into a pit trap = 1d6 per 10 feet fallen.

In honor of the recent damage escalation discussion . . .

What if we tried modifying the dice used?

Perhaps the first 10 feet was 1d4, second 10 feet 1d6, third 1d8, etc? Then you could shift the dice to reflect the modifiers. For example, deliberate jump makes the escalation of die type begin one step later. The first 10 feet remains 1d4 then the second becomes 1d4, then 1d6, 1d8. Say the character deliberately jumped into water it could be 1d4, 1d4, 1d4 covering the first 30 feet and then begin to escalate 1d6, 1d8, etc.

Would this be worth experimenting with or should it be kept simple at 1d6 per 10 feet and rule on the fly if some is non-lethal damage?

What other systems for modeling falling damage have you seen in fantasy rpgs?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More 13th age

I read a couple more review comments that indicated 13th Age also has the extreme amounts of damage escalation and increased to-hit for all classes every level.

It is beginning to sound like designers are on a massive dice kick lately. If I wanted to play a game designed around massive numbers of dice for damage it would be Champions, which I had great fun with years ago for a couple of superhero campaigns.

Time to seek out reviews for Dungeon World and see what it does that might be useful.

Friday, December 28, 2012

13th Age Rpg

I've become curious about the 13th Age RPG coming out in March from Pelgrane Press and written by Johnathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo. I get the sense that while I might not choose the game as my system of preference, that it will likely be filled with stuff to transplant into whatever system I do use.

The Icons story mechanic or whatever one would call it, in which characters at time of creation are given relationships of a sort with from one to three powerful organizations or entities and this influences things throughout the campaign. I can see using that and converting it into something very useful for a Ptolus campaign for tieing the characters more into the goings on in the city. It could serve as plot points and motivators for the player characters.

For example, there are numerous noble families, criminal organizations, political factions, cults/religious orders, and others pushing and pulling at the setting. If a character had some connection, be it positive, conflicted, or negative with an organization that creates all sorts of fun possibilities. Maybe a character has a minor negative (adversarial) connection with the Balacazar Crime Family, when the DM rolls to see if that connection comes into play it might mean the Balacazar's district enforcer is up to something that will impact the character, or it could also mean that someone with a dislike for the Balacazar's might aid or involve the character in something that affects the crime family.

The character may also have conflicted ties to the Inverted Pyramid. Some members are friendly to the character, some not as friendly. At times the character might get aid and at others interference from the group.

The system looks to me like it would really be a boon for getting the players to involve their characters in all sorts of activities.

Backgrounds as it appears they are handled in 13th Age may also prove useful for similar reasons, and the One Unique Thing idea is also worthy of borrowing.

The mechanic for speeding up combat, the Escalation Die, works sort of like the doubling die from Backgammon, except the escalation die just gives an increasing bonus beginning in the second round to all attack rolls for the characters and some more important villains. This sounds like a nice way to handle using flatter math and avoiding grind as opposed to what seems to be happening in the current WotC 5th edition playtest with outrageous amounts of damage escalation.

I suggest looking up the game info and playtest reviews on the web and you may also want to visit BJ Shea's Geek Nation and listen to all 5 episodes of the podcast of Rob Heinsoo running the hosts through character creation and a short bit of play.

There is still a lot I do not know about the 13th Age RPG so I am non-committal about purchasing it until I learn more. Any reader insights are welcome in the comments!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

Er, no, not that kind of boxing.

This year I managed to neither give nor receive anything related to gaming this Christmas. Not even a stocking stuffer of dice or the like. I think that is the first time in a number of years that something gaming related has not passed in one direction or another. It may be that none of us had anything unaccounted for on our wish lists this time around, or maybe none of us seemed too exited by current releases.

Did any of you give or receive gaming items this year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5e playtest weirdness

I have been out of the loop for a while now and still have not come fully back into the gaming fold despite beginning to blog a little recently.

The latest D&D5e playtest material is available. I downloaded and skimmed a bit of it so I could get some idea where they might be heading. Knowing that playtesting involves trying things that may not end up in the game I can honestly say that 50% or more of what I read belongs in the 'leave it out' or make it a module category.

For example, the steep escalation of ability scores appears in this iteration. I dislike that for many reasons including making magic items that enhance ability scores too powerful and/or less interesting, and because I don't like to mix my swords and sorcery genre with my superhero genre. Escalating ability scores forces other modifications to the math throughout the system and I saw too much of that in 4e.

A bunch of things from 3e have made their way into this packet as well. Attacks of Opportunity and the load of different triggers are back. Grappling appears to be heading back to being more complicated, though not yet what it was in 3e.

The experience table had me scratching my head from only a quick glance. The table itself likely won't be a big deal so I'll reserve comment until I get a more detailed look at what they are trying to do with XP.

There also seems to be power creep in the system. If my understanding on a skim is correct, a fighter might potentially be able to inflict 51 or more damage when rolling a 1 with their weapon at top level. I know without context this makes no sense so please download the documents from WotC and let me know if I need to give it a detailed read.

While I like the idea of flatter math for attack rolls, I'm not so sure making damage output increase so dramatically is needed as a balance mechanism.

Looking at character creation and levelling gives me a very 3e feeling. It looks as if character sheets are going to look like novels as a character levels due to all the information that will be needed. That kind of clutter may slow down play since there will be a lot there a player won't want to miss.

Skills will definitely require a detailed look. With just a glimpse it seems as if a character can be at variable levels of ability with the same skill moment to moment. They can apply a bonus mechanic to help boost a skill and then if they are trying again and don't have the bonus mechanic available are suddenly less capable. Please tell me that isn't the case.

Ability enhancing items may work jut like they do in 4e (as tactical short term boosters) instead of having non-tactical use and flavor. That assessment is based on one passage in part of the playtest documents and does not appear to match the description o giant strength belts in the Magic Items section. Not sure which way they are handling it.

Can anyone tell me if WotC are still working on modularity of parts or have they tossed that out to go with a single way of doing things. I have not noticed modularity being mentioned in the most recent things I have read, but that doesn't rule it out.

If time permits I hope to give the 5e playtest material a more comprehensive read.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Magic Item - Goblet of Reflection

Goblet of Reflection

Besh had vexed his attempts at recovering the Fohlud Scrolls three times now and Embuk was determined to take him out of the picture completely and finally. To that end he had enlisted a team of nefarious types to track and slay his nemesis. After weeks of planning and surveillance it was time to end the problem of Besh.

Drin the Slinker had tracked the target to his favorite watering hole, Sting of the Wyvern, and within minutes the assembled team had worked their way into position.

Gul Jerga, Master of Shades, sat quietly in a dark corner of the busy tavern. His fingers played slowly along the rim of the goblet he appeared to be absently staring into as if in deep reflection.

Across the room, Embuk signaled to his companions to strike. Zladuk was the first to move. The wiry goblin emerged from beneath his hooded cloak, rapidly drawing and throwing two daggers. From her vantage point at the other end of the bar, Teek the halfling necromancer whispered a baneful dirge-curse. Lorpa stepped seemingly from nowhere wielding a barb ended spear, thrusting with all her might at the heart of Besh.

To all it seemed as if Besh had died a painful if quick death, but Embuk sensed something was not quite right. Scanning the room as his hirelings fled, Embuk noticed the mystic in the dark corner. The figure had not reacted at all to the startling event. Looking back to the prone body of Besh revealed that he had been outfoxed again. Besh had hired his own help, an illusionist to cover his tracks.

Time to leave town thought Embuk, scrolls be damned.

Magic Item - Goblet of Reflection

This magical goblet is both a minor scrying device and an enhancer of illusion spells. When the goblet is filled with a liquid the holder can focus his or her attention into the depths of the fluid and by manipulating fingers along the rim, adjust the view seen within and concentrate on spells cast through the goblet.

Viewers suffer a penalty of 2 when saving to pierce the veil and recognize the illusion.

The goblet may also be used in a similar fashion to a crystal ball for visual information, not auditory.

The range of use is limited to no more than 100 feet and the user must have personal visual knowledge of the target area.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

For the want of a 10 foot pole

Back around the time that WotC announced that development had started on 5e (D&D Next) I read a message board post by someone complaining about how stupid the 10 foot pole was and how he wanted nothing to do with a game resembling the older editions of D&D. He went on to complain that he didn't want to waste time exploring and just wanted to get on with the game.

This of course got me thinking about how easy their DM must make things for the group. Do they search for traps? Is the loot all in bearer bonds to make sure they don't have anything heavy or bulky to transport? Their DM must not make them figure out how to get all the loot out of the dungeon.

If that is their preferred play style fine, however it did give me pause to imagine them trying desperately to remove a dragon's hoard without hirelings and the tools to do the job. Imagine if this was how you had to haul out large sacks of treasure.

Not only would you have to leave a bunch of your equipment behind, but a bunch of treasure as well. Your movement would be hindered and if you came under attack you would likely have to drop your loot and beat feet since you might have left your armor and weapons back in the vault.

Humans figured out millenia ago that there was a better way to haul things and still keep your weapons on hand . . . the ten foot pole. It makes the task of moving heavy or bulky objects quite a bit easier, and easier to put down in an emergency.

Here we have a couple of hunters with their catch posing for a picture. That pole may not be ten feet long, but it isn't much off the measure. Think how much freer these guys would be to defend themselves if they'd thought to hire a couple of pack bearers as well.

This is such a basic thing that there are even toys/miniatures for the concept of the ten foot pole for hauling stuff.

Just like hunters with a deer carcass strung to a long pole rested on the shoulders of two men, so too can bags of loot be tied to the ten foot pole and rested on the shoulders of hirelings.

So before your party sets out on an adventure, don't forget to take a ten foot pole or two. They're not just for trap detection, they're an investment!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Spell - Beast Mark (nature)

Beast Mark

Level: 1
Duration: 1 turn
Range: touch

The caster smears the spore of a local, natural animal, on a non-movable surface (tree, rock, etc) and quietly chants a prayer to that animal spirit. Within 2d4 rounds 1d3 animals of that type arrive. Animal type must be at or below the HD of the caster. The animals are uncontrolled when they arrive and most likely in a territorial mood, meaning reactions begin as unfriendly.

After 1 turn the influence of the spell wanes and the animals are free to do as they will.