DND 5th Edition Analysis Monday, Aug 11 2014 

I got the new 5th edition because one of our players complained about 4th edition and wanting to go to a different system with faster combats. I can agree 4th edition has long combats about as long as Pathfinder and DnD 3.5 at the 11th level we are currently running.

The problem I had with the playtest is the monster math was not done during the playtest so we were testing characters based on false numbers of monsters. In my world of QA that would mean completely invalid tests. I picked up the 5th edition players handbook and have been going over and it looks like we went a little backwards in game design and did not learn all our lessons.

Here are the races and the points based on feats, abilities, and stats. For instance feats got 2 points since according to WOTC they are worth 2 stats. Abilities for the most part were given 2 points as well.  The drow are the winner in abilities given out even with a -1 for sunlight deficiency.  I gave this out as most organized play adventures are indoors so this could even go as far as -2 in home brew and of course being reviled.  However, that part does not come in at organized play but could in a home game.  You will see the human variant that allows a feat at level 1 comes in a total of 5 points.  The average points comes out to 9.8 or 10 points.  So, humans base are 4 points and 5 if they take the variant.

 

I see this as a huge disparity in a place where we have come with better game balance.  This balance before had each of these races taken negatives to stats so the gap was not as wide.  Especially things has -2 to con which affect hit points as we see in pathfinder and 3.5.

race stats base ability base skill base feat sub stat sub ability sub feat disad total
drow 2 5 1 1 4 2 -1 15
mountain dwarf 2 4 2 2 2 2 14
hill dwarf 2 4 2 2 1 2 13
high 2 5 1 1 2 2 13
wood 2 5 1 1 2 2 13
forest gnome 2 4 1 4 11
rock gnome 2 4 1 4 11
dwarf 2 4 2 2 10
half elf 4 4 2 10
half orc 3 6 1 10
lightfoot 2 4 1 2 9
stout 2 4 1 2 9
dragonborn 3 6 9
tiefling 3 6 9
elf 2 5 1 8
halfing 2 4 6
human 6 6
gnome 2 4 6
human variant 2 1 2 5

 

 

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My wants for D&DNext Friday, Jan 20 2012 

Go check out D20 Monkeys amazing cartoon on the DNDNext feedback horror here.

The post I had yesterday was my quick rundown of things I have seen from forum users, players, etc about DNDnext.  While I may of been a little bit harsh about saying your dm sucks if there is no roleplay in 4e, that’s actually the groups fault.  I have kind of felt that I keep hearing the same criticism over and over from people about 4e and most of it is pretty unfounded.  Or with a little bit of knowledge is quickly dismissed, if people are actually wanting to listen to reason.  Of course this is the internet and geeks over their ‘precious’ so we know how that goes.  I’m sure I’ve done my fair share of holding onto sacred cows over the time.  Well, actually I did during the play test of Hordes and hated seeing my favorite beasts turned to mediocre instead of the awesome they were.  Unlike in a rpg in a miniature game I can’t just stick with an older edition and play it I have to move on and maybe that’s why I am able to better equipped when I see the D&Dnext items in the horizon.

My wants are pretty basic and fall right in line with most everyone else.  I’ll try not to do the pie in sky items that are never going to happen.  I said try 🙂

  1. Electronic tools day 1 with character builder, monster builder, conversion from 4e to DNDNext in HTML5 as well as continued support for the 4e tool set.
  2. Podcasts of walking through rules and play maybe 1-2 months in advance to give us some better ideas of what we are going to deal with.  Sure, forums, and reading are great but sometimes certain things don’t come up in our brain into it actually happens and seeing “experts” deal with them might help.
  3. Unique new setting or continue with Nentir Vale as default.  ( I think this might be lost with all the Forgotten Realms freaks out there)
  4. Settings book for GreyHawk, Ravenloft, Dark Sun that give a detail of what you need to change in order to make that world yours and play in it from the generic default setting.
  5. Drow go back as a feared and hated race.
  6. Make it so a strength built fighter can fire a bow and actually hit something reliably.  He does not have to be ranger accurate but at least be useful.  This was one thing in 4e I’ll give to all the haters that made zero sense to me.  The warrior trained in all weapons was pretty much never going to hit anything with a bow and arrow.
  7. Keep to the default basic races Human, Half Elf, Elf, Dwarf, Half-Orc and basic classes Fighter, Wizard, Ranger, Paladin, Cleric, Rogue.  Get these right first and then you can expand from there.  Or maybe those will be enough and with feats or trees people can customize to their hearts content. 
  8. Do not listen to everybody and make it too generic.  If we wanted that we would all go play HERO or GURPS.  Do not go the way of Conan and listen to all the whines and turn something good into something horrible.
  9. Themes need to stay.  I think they are a really great jumping off point for how things can be done right.
  10. Make the shade something worthwhile, 4e neutered this concept to me 🙂

Please feel free to follow me on twitter here

Also check out the Facebook D&D group here

Let me know what you think and if my ideas gel with yours or if I’m off base.

DND NEXT!! Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

5th edition is coming out and that makes everyone excited and nervous.  People tossing ideas like they think it’s going to impact what WOTC has.  I think it’s great to come up with all these ideas and maybe this will spawn some people to get together and make a new version or put in house rules to try out in their current game.  However, I do not think we will be getting to affect the foundation as much as everyone would like to hope.  I doubt we are going to create completely new mechanics like “bennies” or a spell point system.

This will be pretty much like what we had Warmachine/Hordes field test and the Pathfinder beta.  Hopefully without having to pay to do the beta like they did with Pathfinder?  And less whining from Warmachine people on the hordes play test.   As we saw in those we had the foundation and a lot of items already built we just needed to tweak items to get them just right.

WHAT DO WE KNOW?   What we know is that they have some kind of outline and enough for a sneak peak to be shown at DDXP.  And we may or may not get something out of that to let us know what to expect.  There is a friends and family beta test going in right now.  Several bloggers are in on it and maybe after a certain period of time they will be allowed to say their impressions.  We also know that there will be an OPEN test supposedly in the spring time.  That will give us our first look at what’s in store for us in DNDNEXT!

Wow let me say there are a ton of ideas and people out there with what they want to see.  And it is seriously mind-blowing to see so many people involved and that’s those who are in specific groups and not those who dodge forums.  So I can imagine all the feedback WOTC will get when this goes OPEN.  I do not envy them that task.

Things I want people to think about are this.  If you are playing any version of D&D or Pathfinder you are doing it right!  We all enjoy playing games and if your group is having fun with it then that’s that.  So to tell me my idea is dumb because I like a particular mechanic then you are not what we need in a play test.  Please do not waste WOTC’s time go back to your cave and play your game and let the rest of us try to make this the best edition for what we want. 

 I’ve seen several people go off about battle grids are horrible please do not have them, without giving a why.  Or 4e had no role-playing to it.  Really or is it because your DM sucked?  Yep, I just called out your groups DM, right there.  Role playing is what your group makes of it I am sure everyone has had good and poor experiences NO MATTER THE EDITION.  A poor group can sour anything.  So to blame an entire edition and say it had no role-playing in it makes you sound uninformed.  4E every class played the same?  What really?  So you are telling me that it’s okay for my cleric to get stuck in to monsters and pretend to tank?  Or for other simile that Cygnar plays exactly like Khador.  Once again you are uninformed and should keep your opinion to yourself.  The only way they are similar is that you mechanically roll dice to see if you’re successful but to succeed you will have to drastically do different things.

Another fallacy I hear is 4e combat takes too long without why it takes too long?  You know what combat took too long any WOD combat!  3E and 4e combat takes about the same amount of time of about 60-90 minutes for an average encounter.  Let’s take a look at the why’s combat is taking too long.  Now this will be my conjecture and from what I’ve seen in running my home game, running events, running/playing Encounters for 2 years, and from stories of those I know personally.

  1. People do NOT PAY ATTENTION.  People are too busy doing other things and when their turn comes up they waste time making a decision.  That’s your fault bad player not the game.
  2. People refuse to learn their characters.  Sorry, you’ve been playing the same guy and same abilities for 8 consecutive weeks it does not take 5 minutes to figure out which power to use.
  3. Out of turn actions.  This can disrupt play but usually only causes a hiccup by example 1 players who go “Whoa, I should of attack with X player cut of y”  Game master “Well you should but I called your name and you didn’t respond”  Once again a player not paying attention causes issues for everyone. 
  4. Rules.  Not having a tight rule set can lead to rules arguments.  I’ve had them in EVERY game I’ve played period.  Tight rule set for the DM helps prevent these arguments. 
  5. Options.  Having too many options can paralyze a player with analysis paralysis.  Yep, understand that in early levels as everyone gets use to things.  And also if something just happened that was really crushing and changed everything which is an exception not an every time occurrence.  But then this turns to point 2 LEARN YOUR CHARACTERS ABILITIES after a time.

In my next post I’ll go through some of the things I would like to see in DNDNEXT.

 

Back to basics? Monday, May 30 2011 

As I write this I am running my hot water in a locked bathroom to make a faux sauna. I am less than twelve hours from weighing in. Not for a fight or a wrestling match but for a weight loss contest at work. During the last twenty weeks I’ve lost twenty pounds and could stand to lose probably twenty more. I feel really good about my weight loss this period. All I did was add in daily exercise and making healthier choices with my food and beverage choices. As of last weigh in I had a 1.2 % advantage over my closest competition.

Why am I trying to cut weight like a fighter because of weigh ins? I guess it’s the competitive animal in me. I want to know that if I lose it’s because I got beat, not because I left any “weight” on the table so to speak. This attitude served me well while playing sports and all manner of competitive games.

This conversation was helped spawned by the 4e at will chat from Friday night.
What do I mean with back to basics? I recently started looking at Pathfinder and 3.x and remembered all the cool combat maneuvers we use to have. Now in 4e all we have is at wills and a melee basic attack mainly used for opportunity actions. Which we rarely see use of nowadays or at least in my campaign and various sessions of Encounters.  With the essentials release we see martial characters stripped of combat options now. All they can do is swing a sword with no cool additional effects. The encounter and daily powers represented a cool martial maneuver. Now I know wizards is going to say you can still sunder, disarms, trip as given by the discretion of the DM. Well how about you just give us rules for these options and make it simple for everyone

What if initially we did not get at-wills and were left with encounters, dailies, utilities. And not only melee basic attacks but the old combat manuevers much like pathfinder? I am sure every little mage fan boy just cried a little. Let everyone perform the maneuvers and such and if you want to have a better disarm take feats to allow such a thing. Or just leave the at wills as is and give actual possibility to manuevers for all.

I do understand the streamlined design of 4e and I do like it. Maybe giving back some complexity to the game will help with the audience you lost and are losing with the new direction. A little faith should be put into your customers in how smart they can be. There is no reason not to give out “advanced” options for us players who want it. Games use to have the simple rules and then added in advanced features to enhance it. No reason not to do the same thing here.

I have about five minutes left in this sauna so I will give a short review of The Hangover 2. The short answer is if you liked the first then you will like the second. And if you hated the first then ignore this because it’s more of the same. It will throw in your typical Thailand and Bangkok jokes so be prepared. Leave your brain at home and have a good time

Vampire theme & Assault Tuesday, May 24 2011 

I was planning on writing yesterday but putting my arm in a sling does not help one type. My goal was to give a first shot at a vampire theme for 4e. Then I began reading the uproar about lair assault. Seeing this reminded me about uproars in the miniature world and so I figured I would drop my two cents.

Let’s start with a fun subject first. I think just about anyone who saw heroes of shadow was a little disappointed with the shade and vampire. Sure the class is okay but for those of us who played WoD or even any other edition of D&D it seemed more Twilight then Stoker. The designers have said they built things like they did for layers of creation. So when we got what we got I wondered immediately why not use themes? I understand they did not want to let the newbie come straight in and play vampire without needing extra knowledge of the game. Which is understandable to try to hit the niche vampire r KeWl crowd. Hooray for Wotc, now how about a bone for your advanced players?

I’m not really going too far with my creation of this as I think they got the basics right. This will probably need to be playtested to make the best result.

Vampire template:

The bad

Lose half your surges. Patterning this after the only 2 surges the regular vampire has.

Gain Vulnerability to Radiant 5

If you end your turn in direct sunlight and lack a protective covering  you take 5 radiant damage (plus additional damage from your radiant vulnerability) from the sunlight, and you are weakened (save ends). If you drop below 1 hit point from this damage, you are instantly destroyed.
 

Gain

You are an undead creature.  No need to eat, breathe, sleep.  But still must rest to gain healing surges, dailies, etc.
You have darkvision.
When you are bloodied gain regeneration at your highest stat attribute.  (Going back to the different types of vampires.  This probably should be based on Charisma aka Willpower)

I do not know how to do make the cool encounter power stuff and I am sure someone can tell me how to do it very easily.  So bear with this.

Vampire Bite : Melee 1  Hit: Attribute vs AC if you have someone grabbed you autohit.  Dmg: 1d4 + gain a surge

This allows the whole stealing from party members to heal up to full.

Also, if you have more surges then your max lose surges and go to full hit points.

Utility powers: Just follow the progression from the vampire class

Next time I will tackle the shade. He is dear to my heart and I was disappointed with what I got from Heroes of Shadow. So, instead of complaining I will do something proactive and build my own version.

Now on to this whole lair assault thing that has people all in an uproar. It’s honestly just the flip side to the Encounters program. It’s there for people who want something a bit more then the whole level one to three intro adventure. Basically they want to give some of the challenges they have done at conventions and give them to the LGS’s to run and drive some sales and give extra exposure to the game. Not a thing wrong with that and it might be fun for a change of pace.  I know our own LGS has dropped the whole essentials only for Encounters because those of us who prefer martial characters think just swinging a sword is boring :).
If you don’t like it the idea then ignore it and do not play in it. Very simple don’t be negative especially when you have not even tried it. The program was not made for people like you. This is like how in miniatures such as Warmachine/Hordes you had tournaments and leagues. The leagues are balanced for people who want to try new things and can play tons of games. They are not for the hardcore tournament guys. Were tournaments are there for the players who get tactics and know there way around the game. Two programs that outreach to two totally different consumers of the said game. If one hobby can do it why can not another do the same thing without all the teeth gnashing?

I get that tactics appeal to some people and not all.  Why I personally come from a miniatures war gaming background as well as card game professional I also like the role playing side as well.   I’ve also played at conventions from 1e up to 3e and guess what there was no role play for the most part.  Why, oh because of a TIME CONSTRAINT!  If you want to roleplay do not go to Encounters, Lair Assault, or Living Forgotten Realms, or the new Pathfinder program.  Why because time will stop that from happening.  Do not get me wrong and think I do not role play at all.  My home groups will tell you sometimes I get carried away with it.  And one DM who will remain nameless gives me looks to keep me line with my bard.

So in the end play what you like and have fun!

It’s been a while Sunday, May 22 2011 

Like the title said it has been a long time since I have posted anything to this blog.  The real world has  back  over much of my life.  Fortunately the big project at work has been taken care of and now I can get back to other things that I enjoy more.  After  losing both my main machine and backup I lost a lot of work.  However, the only way to get back to it is just that start writing again.  So, this is my initial run of starting my writing back up.

My personal game has reached its one year anniversary.  I’m pretty happy with how its all turned out.  We will be approaching paragon tier very soon.  A couple of players have figured out their paths so that is going to help with the path of the campaign.  The next place I believe they will go is the Underdark or to the Shadowfell which I am fortunate Gloomwrought came out.

I finished up running the Encounters season of March of the Phantom Brigade.  It went really well for the most part.  I unfortunately had 4 TPKs for the season, which no other DM has done on now at the store.  The players seemed to be okay with that has they began to use better tactics throughout.   I will say that running 8 players in 4e just sucks as a DM.  It might be just as bad a player with that much time between turns.   Plus its hard to scale the encounter on the fly just right sometimes especially with all the insubstantial running around.

We got tired of the essentials characters so we will be playing anything goes for Evard’s.  The first couple of weeks have been interesting.  Hopefully they will continue this path and we will not see the frustration we saw with the insubstantial last season.  This has given me an opportunity to play around with the themes that WOTC has released recently.   So far I’ve only tried the Order of the adept for the extra aoe.  I’ll definitly will try more over the time.  I’m not so sure of the long term additions themes will bring and may not know for a while. 

 Upcoming posts will  give my theme for vampire and shade which is what I think all of us wanted to see.    

You may follow me at Saintdave22 on twitter.

Random Musings on a day off Monday, Feb 21 2011 

My wife is at the dentist and I’ve done my morning routine of knee exercises so I have time to put into the blog.  The problem is what to write about?  So, instead of having a topic I decided just to throw things that were coming to mind.

First, Dragon Age 2 will give us a demo tomorrow, 2-22.  This should give us a little bit of satisfaction while we starve for the real thing that comes out in March.  After playing the first rather recently I’m very excited to continue my time in the Dragon Age universe.

Second, I came across the new trailer for Game of Thrones on HBO, found here .  This looks to be coming along well.  Now if Martin would get off his duff and finish the books and not pull a Jordan on us.  I’m very excited to see the world come to life on-screen.  I wonder if Vegas has a prop bet on him finishing his book before he dies or not.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the Conquest of Nerath Boardgame.  This is supposed to played much like Risk from the information we have.  I would like to know more about it before I preorder it.  I mean $50 for a board game is nice chunk of change and would like to see a little bit more of the pieces or gameplay before plunking it down.  However, if I wait the preorder price goes up to $75 which might be hard pill to swallow if its not a good game.  So if anyone runs across something about it please toss it my way.

I have encounters to run in a few days and feel that I might be killing my players this week.  TPK because people refuse to use tactics are justified in this setting.  I’m not fudging dice rolls to make people feel good.  If these people want to do the extreme hard-core delves they need to learn now what to do because I’m pretty sure these will be WAY harder.

Encounters and Home games Thursday, Feb 17 2011 

I have been running encounters for the March of the Phantom brigade.  The first session we had 8 players and unfortunately we had no way to get a second table going.  So, off we go with 7 stirges and 8 pcs.  Unfortunately for the pcs they could not hit a thing.  The stirges dropped each of the pc’s at least once and in case of the warlock three separate times.

Week two we actually got to split up the groups a bit.  The goblins I used went to town on pc’s who charged out of place and let themselves get surrounded.  2 pc deaths and almost TPK if the wizard had not critted on his daily fire fountain spell.  Heroic moment there you go!  Now, I did have all the least experienced players at my table.  Including the duo that played defenders who ran away from the dragon and refused to take a hit that killed a cleric. 

I’m sort of torn on what to do here.  Now, do I keep up the tough love and as they continuously play poorly?  Or do I baby them and have the monsters do stupid things instead of playing them correctly?  I think not killing them is doing a disservice as they have had one full season to learn the game and still doing the same things.

The other front I’ve been invited to a home game.  I’ve decided to go outside my comfort zone of rogues and wizards and try a defender.   I’m not totally sure what to play here.  I’m drawn to the paladin as it is a polar opposite of the rogue this group knows me for.  Unfortunately I am not able to find something I want to try.  Maybe I should wait and see how the rest of the party shakes out before I try and pigeonhole the type of paladin.  I’m drawn to sword and board but unsure if that’s the best to go with.

Things to do Monday, Jan 31 2011 

I know most people do resolutions and such at the start of a year.  I’ve finally been able to sit down and think what I want/need to do this year.  Of course the wife and friends will always add and subtract from things we need to do.  I’m sure many of your lists will reflect mine or maybe you will have an idea for me or something will jog for you to try.

  1.  Write more
  2.  Run D&D 4e with my friends and keep it fun
  3.  Take my turn as DM of Essentials
  4.  Lose weight
  5.  Sell off miniatures and games not using
  6. Attend a gaming convention
  7. Read more

These are mainly simple goals but with the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we forget things we wanted to do and just lose sight.  One reason gym memberships swell in January and their use declines significantly by March.  I’ve already started writing more as I need to write if I ever want to finish the book I started writing.  Now I have no delusions that it will make me a best selling author but I just want to finish it.  Sort of like training for a marathon and running it. 

I will be running March of the Phantom Brigade at my local store for next season.  I know I DM at home but the other players who could run it have run the past two seasons.  Yes, I lose my chance to stretch out and play but its only fair to take my turn behind the screen.  Next season we might be able to get a new player behind the screen.

Darym campaign- Entering Tomb of Horrors Sunday, Jan 23 2011 

The characters worked out what the next step was and that was to figure out how Durac made people forget about him.  After leaving they were greeted by an old man who said if they answered a riddle he would answer three questions.  After answering a relatively easy riddle they got some answers from the man.  Who ended up actually being a 5′ tall grey rat man or Skaven. This shocked has these were creatures of myth.  He explained that they had tipped the scales when things got too far out of balance.  Showing the drow the secret tunnels to the dwarven stronghold.  Putting the whisper in a kings ear to unite a kingdom or planting the seeds of deceit in a in a general.

After learning that two more spells will be cast one on the shadow plane and the other on the fey kingdom they head out for the fey bridge.  Using the knowledge [[:elphaba | Elphaba]] had passed to [[:crispis | Crispis]] of where they lived they made the journey to the rainbow bridge.  Upon coming upon a beautiful summer glade in winter(?) they were greeted by  [[:boromeer-rageshadow | Boromeer Rageshadow]].  He at first did not wish to allow them passage but relented eventually.  The keep was on high alert due to the instability in human kingdoms.  After verbal jabs back and forth he took them to see Whirlwands Moonshadow.

The cousin of Elphaba who was once Durac’s traveling companion.  The learned that he had broke the nose of Durac as well as ran away and allowed him to get capture.  For this Durac waited and caught him and tortured him some 50 years later.  He had been branded with the symbol of the griffon.  He was a broken man speaking in broken language throughout the conversation.  They got the names of the first traveling companions of Durac as well as one of the generals, Acerak.

Jumping on the lead they asked Rageshadow to take them to Acerak and he said that he had died.  Not believing him Rageshadow took him to one of the mages that was their at his death.  The mage claimed that he had help trap Acerak in a tomb over two hundred years ago and that he was quite dead.  The group wanted to see this “tomb” for themselves.  So he transported them there.

The group found themselves in a cave with light leading up and a dark hallway with several frescoes painted on the wall, on the ground itself.  After navigating some pittraps they entered the fresco of a four armed demon.  After entering the chamber found behind the door they were greeted with the taunting of Acerak and four armed gargoyle.  After a very long battle the group moved on and found a room of three chests.  When they opened the first one a giant dual scimitar wielding skeleton attacked them after finally dispatching it the part is laying bloody and exhausted.

This campaign may also be found at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/darym-return-of-durac/adventure-log

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