Well, I’m back…

•September 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It’s been more than two years since I made my last post. A lot has happened in the past couple of years, many of which I’d rather not re-live but understand that they happened and have grown for them. So I figured I’d try out the old “What D&D Character Are You” quiz again. Let’s see what I got!

You Are A:


Lawful Good Human Wizard/Sorcerer (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 15
Dexterity- 13
Constitution- 15
Intelligence- 16
Wisdom- 14
Charisma- 14

Lawful Good- A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Wizards- Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

I’ve almost always played as Arcane casters so this wasn’t a huge shock to me, but I’ve recently found I’ve had more Lawful Good results than Chaotic Neutral recently. I’m not sure if this is a change brought on by age or demeanor but it’s not unwelcome.

I think a lot of us play Chaotic Neutral because it’s the ‘Free Spirit’ alignment. You can do just about anything and get away with it without moral repercussions because “Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time!” but we don’t all really act that way.

So I’m back on the east coast, Charleston actually, and I’m really starting to enjoy this place. It’s homey, warm and welcoming, with good food, good drinks and good people by and large. I’m going to really really try to keep this blog updating more often, but I’m not going to make any promises. I’ve got a lot of new projects I’m working on (which I might just showcase here) and I’m still trying to get my family settled into a new town. It’s heavy stuff, but I’ll do my best. Thank you, those who have read this blog and have followed me for these past few years, and I hope that I’ll have more and more content to keep bringing you back.

Till next time, may all your dice roll true!

When they come… #DnD #ZDay

•February 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So I am indeed NOT dead, though I have been on extended hiatus from this blog for much longer than I would have liked.

For those of you following along, I’ve moved from the south-east coast to the pacific-north-west in pursuit of… well, something new.  A new scene, a new outlook, new places and people.

One such person is the lead at the local gaming store where I take my son every other weekend (when he’s not in trouble with his schoolwork).  I asked him about the local tabletop games and made passing mention that I was an experienced DM and he jumped at the chance to get someone to run D&D games for the shop. The usual guy was getting burned out, working six days a week and using his off-day to run three games for not only the people who come into the shop but for his friends too.

So we met a couple of weeks ago to work up and hash out a few ideas for the new game since the previous DM just finished up the recent “Murder at Baldur’s Gate” series from Wizard’s and were looking for something fresh.  I brought up one of the old games I ran years and years ago, where I used statistical averages to determine ability scores for my players and local maps to develop our playing field to create a survival zombie game.  It was like someone had put tacks in his chair he sat up so fast.  I pitched a few other ideas to him, high fantasty to D20 future but everything came back to the zombie invasion game I led with.

Here is the most accurate real-life to D&D stat generator that I’ve come across that doesn’t require spending some serious time soul-searching and looking through statistics, and is probably going to be the one I’ll use with the new game once it starts.  Maybe you’d like to pitch this to your gaming troupe as well, it really wound up being a fun, scary game that had everyone on their toes and fighting for their lives through the whole time.  Here’s my pitch:

The first thing everyone noticed was the earthquake. 
The worst one since the early 2000’s, and even then never so close to the Columbia.  The pavement groaned and dishes fell, a few windows even cracked and shattered out of their frames and car alarms went off.
Then came the sound.
At first it was like rolling thunder on a hot summer night, but it never crashed, just thundered down the valley, rebounding and growing until the houses seemed to tremble with the roar of it and what windows that didn’t break when the earthquake hit exploded inward as the rush of air behind the sound hammered at our homes.
From the smoke a lot of people thought Mt. Saint Helen had finally blown, but we were wrong.
Then it was news crews.
Then the scientists.
Then the military.
For days the air was filled with chalky smoke and dust that settled onto the cars and streets and stained everything a sickly yellow.  The dust that covered everything smelled of bitter pungent sulfur and stale smoke and painted your hands green and yellow where you touched it.
A week went past before the black choppers stopped cutting through the air all day and night and things started to go back to normal.
Then they came.
At first it was rumor and rare reports, whispers of strange sounds and savage murders.  Government cover-up and corruption in the police force hiding the truth.  Then it wasn’t rumor and speculation anymore.  It was in your yard.  Stumbling down the street and through the parks, faces you once knew half gone and hanging in red ruin from gnashing teeth.  And the sound… oh god the sound they made…

I guess the only question left is… can you survive?

I focus heavily on survival and avoiding the zombies in this game, taking a map of the local area and cordoning off sections like hospitals, grocery stores, hardware stores and the like that would be the first places people would go during the outbreak and have those be high concentration zones based on area population.  I’m currently living in a rather small town so the concentration wouldn’t be terribly high, but you would still run into more zed-heads at the grocery store than you would at a bank.

Then comes the idea of how to make these zombies into unique and scary creatures, I mean modern day horror movies and video games have shown that a rag-tag group of strangers can often take on a horde of the undead for quite some time until they are over-run.  Well then you have to get a little creative.  The same old shuffling zombies all day every day can get a little tedious after the new “Dawn of the Dead” runners and the multitude of hordes and breeds in games like “Left 4 Dead” and “Dead Island”, so we mix it up a little.  What made your every-day Joe into a flesh starved ghoul anyways?  Radiation?  A plague?  Parasites?

In this case I’m going with radiation myself.  The impact of a meteorite has released radiation into the surrounding area, and those that are affected by it slowly die and change into mindless killing machines.   The radiation also has a terrible effect on their physiology, causing mutations based on proximity and length of exposure.  This also adds an extra danger to our party as these irradiated zombies now make even staying someplace where they are defeated deadly after too long.

All of this plus limited resources will put our brave survivors in terrible straights and proves to be delightfully deadly and entertaining crawl through your own neighborhood and I hope will be lots of fun for the local D&D and D20 fans in my new homestead.

Your #DnD class:

•October 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment


You Are A:

True Neutral Human Druid (4th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 14
Dexterity- 13
Constitution- 16
Intelligence- 13
Wisdom- 12
Charisma- 16

True Neutral- A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Druids- Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

I always love these quizzes, and this one was pretty damn awesome.  A lot of great questions, and pretty even-handed, no obvious trick questions like:

“You see a box of puppies!  Do you: A) Save them!  B) Kill them!”

Nope, none of that nonsense here.  Go check it out, it’s worth the 5 minutes to fill in little circles.

http://easydamus.com/character.html (mind, for alignment it uses the WoTC questions)

Also, there’s the ‘Real-life Stats’ generator: http://www.kevinhaw.com/add_quiz.php
I’m rocking a  STR:12 INT:15 WIS:16 DEX:16 CON:15 CHR:18 according to that, and then of course the official WoTC alignment test: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20001222b   on which I also scored as a ‘Neutral’ character.  A change from my ‘Chaotic Neutral’, but still riding the fence I guess.

Okay, that’s enough pointless time-wasting.

What is it that makes #fourthcore so awesome? #DnD

•March 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s not really news.  I’m sure most of you have seen the word on your twitter feed or heard it tossed around at least once by one or more of your gaming friends.  But for those of us who are a little slow on the upswing or might have slept through the first part of class, I’ll recap.

The Fourthcore movement was started around 2009 by Save Versus Death, or Sersa Victory based around bringing back the challenge and danger of many 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons games.  Classics such as the ‘Tower of Gygax’ and ‘Tomb of Horrors’ are key examples of the kind of deadly, trap-laden, monster filled doom-dungeons that Fourthcore tries to emulate.  This is NOT about killing characters, it’s about not pulling any punches and making you actually work for your victory.

But what makes it so enthralling to those who play it?  The inherent danger that comes along with these games is enough to balk many would-be adventurers, as the threat of character death is something of a phobia to a lot of gamers.  What most people fail to understand is that even if your character dies halfway into the first room, it’s okay.  You can always make another character.  Not only that, but that death has served a purpose in showing that you made a mistake and forces you to think about what you did and what you are doing next.

Fourthcore challenges not just the character, but the player as well, making you step outside of your comfortable little attack range and pushes you forcefully outside of the box and into the world beyond.  So many traps and tricks in these games have alternative solutions that if you attempt them with conventional means you are doomed to fail again and again.  These kind of challenges train you to think differently about what you’re doing and how you might be able to circumvent the problem altogether with the right actions.

The monsters and denizens of the Fourthcore world are also highly deadly, over-the top fiends from beyond the stars, far overpowering your puny humanoid characters as you feebly attempt to best them.  Again, this is another example of how the playing style challenges you in that you realize that there’s no way to face this creature head-on, there’s got to be something else you can use to hurt it.  Like throwing an adult blue dragon at a group of 1st level adventurers is a slaughter, unless you just so happen to be fighting in an abandoned mineshaft with loose rocks in the ceiling that a well-placed blow to the support beams would bring tumbling free.  Most, if not all of the monsters in Fourthcore games have a weakness or key element that allows the players to have the upper hand.  Perhaps it’s the setting or maybe just a personal weakness, or even a specific item you would manage to get from playing through the game.

Throwing your characters into dangerous situations has been the name of the game since the inception of Dungeons and Dragons.  And while that has remained true for the lifespan of the game, a lot of the gloss has been rubbed away from many of the dangers that our personalized heroes face.  Greater skills and feats and powers and spells have turned once average people into titans of steel and arcane power.  Fourthcore acknowledges this and doesn’t shy away from powerful PC’s,  but lets you know that for all your shinies your character is still mortal and weak compared to the world he lives in.

By not holding back on the thrill of mortal danger and the power of the monsters you face, the victory is that much sweeter when you survive and claim your glory.  Bringing back save-vs-death and save-vs-petrification rolls from 1st and 2nd edition, and limiting the amount of magical items your players receive, Fourthcore feed the grognard in all of us that remembers when games used to be tough and you hooted and hollered for each save and each successful hit.   Even with magic enhancements being rare, each item or enchantment you retrieve is often along the same lines as the monsters you face, over the top and awe-inspiring in its power, almost evening the playing field for your darling PC’s.

No matter which way you cut it, sitting down with a group of friends and chanting “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…” as your level five adventurers face a horde of level eight classed monsters bearing down at you from their stronghold is FUN SHIT.  Nothing like an awesome evening of fear and frantic rolling of dice to bring people together.  The moral of this story is try Fourthcore.  Find a DM online who’s local or willing to run an online game for you and give it a try.  Even one game can completely change the way you see Dungeons and Dragons.

House rules on damage and the consequences of such #DnD

•February 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So I recently was on the receiving end of a rather nasty burn, I started thinking about damage in dungeons and dragons.  Your players are always taking damage from one source or another, and while it’s their major concern, not a lot of detail is put into WHAT happens.

DM: Roll your save.

PC: Uh… I got a 17.

DM: Oh, so close, but you take 12 points of damage from the rolling ball of spiky flaming doom.

PC: Darn.  Heal me up, cleric!


Yeah, that’s how it goes.  But what about that flame damage?  Have you ever been burned?  It takes a LONG time to heal.  My not really so terrible burn on my hand is STILL healing a full three weeks after I set off a grill-based fire trap.  AND I made my reflex save to take half damage, it could have been worse.  So this got me thinking, why not make damage more realistic in D&D?

Burns take weeks, sometimes months to heal depending on their severity.  Salves and magic could speed it along, but what about the sub-dermal damage caused by heat?  Nerves can fry, muscles can cook themselves into near paralysis, and bones ache as the injured party member has to bind their arm across their chest to keep from moving it, putting pressure on the joints.  It’s with this in mind that I conjured up this little doozy of a house rule.

Damage heals differently and with different effects depending on the source:

Fire damage adds 1d4 days to the total for natural healing per 1d6 of fire damage taken and additionally reduces the PC’s total HP by 1/4 the total damage taken (no less than 1) and persists until natural healing of 1 point/day brings HP back to full.

Frost damage results in slow status on a failed save, halving speed, making it impossible to run and subjecting the PC to a -3 on reflex saves and initiative.  The chill also slows natural healing to half normal speed for 1d4 days per 1d6 of frost damage taken.

Shock damage causes muscles to spasm and lock, resulting in a 25% chance to not be able to move or take actions for 1d4 rounds per 1d6 of shock damage taken.  Electrical damage also addles the wits subjecting the victim to a -3 on will saves for 1d4 rounds.

Negative energy damage corrupts the flesh, dealing 1 point of constitution damage on a failed save and persisting for 1d4 days.  The foul energy also causes the victim to look sickly and sallow, incurring a -5 on all diplomacy and bluff saves.

On a failed save, positive energy damage causes the body to react in overdrive, the victim becoming twitchy and restless, acting hastily.  This adds a -1 to any roll due to the victims jittery nerves.  This persists for 1d4 days and affects sleeping/resting habits, causing the victim to become fatigued in half the normal time.

Physical damage reaction is calculated by location of the damage.  For each part of the body [legs, arms, head, chest] calculate 1/4 of the total HP for your PC.  On a called shot or direct hit, roll 1d6 [1-left leg, 2-left arm, 3-right leg, 4-right arm, 5-torso, 6-head] to determine the area damage is dealt to.  Armor does absorb a portion of the damage directly to the part of the body depending on its hardness.  At 1/2 HP for a body part it is broken, requiring 1d6 weeks to heal naturally.  At 0 HP, the limb is lost, requiring a regenerate miracle to restore the body.

Now that we can see how damage can negatively affect your PC beyond simple HP loss, let’s see how it can become beneficial to your player over a long period of time.

Upon healing naturally a total of 50 points of elemental based damage, the PC gains the feat Firekissed, Iceborn, Lightning Rod, Corrupted One, Godtouched, or Thickskin respectively

Effect: The hero gains resistance 5/fire as their skin thickens and becomes tougher.  They however take this with a -1 to Charisma

The hero gains resistance 10 to frost damage as their body acclimates to dealing with intense temperature drops.  This incurs a permanent -1 to reflex saves.

Lightning Rod
Prerequisite: Special
Effect: As a minor action, the hero can attract and redirect any shock-based damage that takes place in a burst 5, dealing 1/4 of the damage to themselves and dealing 3/4 to their intended target.

Corrupted One
In unholy places the hero has a +5 to defenses and saves and gains a resist 5 positive energy.  Their appearance however is sunken, and they cannot seem to gain weight as their bodies wither from the stains of their soul, taking a permanent -1 to Strength.

The hero gains +5 to attack and skill checks when on hallowed ground.  The infusion of sanctified power causes their body to radiate a faint light, imposing a -5 to any stealth checks.

The hero’s skin is traced with webbed scars telling of their many brushes with death.  They gain 5/- resistance to damage and a +5 to intimidate checks.  However their tough skin is not as flexible now, imposing a -1 to reflex saves and 1 less to their maximum speed.

So, we see how damage can be dealt, healed to add realistic consequences to the game, and how the heroes can become stronger by surviving it.    Of course this doesn’t effect how magical healing or potions can heal damage, but certainly adds an element of drama to that ordinary no-fuss flaming ball of spiky doom you threw at them last round.

Not #DnD, but still #Fantasy #cookery

•January 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Okay, so this will be my first NON-RPG post.  This morning I made banana-stuffed french toast with berry syrup and my wife demanded that I write this down to preserve it and let others try it out.


8 slices bread (you can use french bread or white bread)
2 ripe bananas sliced
1/2 package of french vanilla pudding mix
3 tablespoons honey
3 eggs
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup milk (1/4 and 1/4)
2tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest
1/2 cup mixed berries
1 cup cooking oil
powdered sugar

Banana mixture:

Place the sliced bananas, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 cup of milk, the half packet of french vanilla pudding mix and 1 tsp each of the cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest into a food processor.  Blend until smooth and use a spatula to scoop into a bowl.  Set this aside and chill in freezer or fridge.


Beat the eggs, water and milk together until uniform and sift in the flour into the mixture while stirring.  Add the remaining cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest as well as two tablespoons of white sugar.  Blend until mixed and it just becomes thick.


Place the mixed berries and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Strain through a sieve to get out any remaining fruit pulp and seeds, using a spoon or spatula to stir and push the simple syrup through.  This can be used as it is or reduced over a low heat for 5-10 minutes to result in a thicker, richer syrup.

Take the slices of bread and spoon the banana mixture onto one of the slices, covering it with another to make a sort of sandwich.  You can leave the bread whole or use a cookie cutter to cut it into shapes. Heat the oil on medium and dredge the filled bread in the batter, making sure to get both sides completely covered as well as the sides to ensure the banana doesn’t drip out.  Fry on each side for 3-4 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and spoon the berry syrup on top.  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of honey and serve with fresh fruit. 


I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did!

A few ideas for #DnDNext

•January 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

A lot of talk has been flying around about what D&D:Next should be about.  Some people cry foul for the mere four year gap between editions (likely the same that bawled about the same gap between 3rd edition and 4th) and even more complain that the new version will never live up to the most recent version, again, probably the same ones who couldn’t believe that D&D could move past 3.5.

The thing a lot of people don’t get is that if this IS true to it’s word, this will be the most comprehensive rules set of Dungeons and Dragons EVER.  All of your house rules have a chance to get into this from the mundane ability to buy training in skills to the fantastically dramatic leaping double sword strike you begged to be able to do.

I’m under the opinion that instead of being rules heavy with every possible action plotted out step by step without any grey areas at all is a rather silly idea and should be swept from the table like a furious child rage-quitting a checkers game.   Break the rules, throw away the charts and graphs and make D&D FREE again.  Open the cages that the rules monkeys have built over the years and let the fantasy run rampant!  A few bare-boned rules about combat, character development and races should be included and that’s it.  The new D&D:Next book could be narrowed down into the same flimsy red starter book you got when your face was still second pick to a slice of cheese pizza.

1: Character creation:
Races and classes of course are the meat and potatoes of the D&D player’s repertoire, finding what works best for what character or just what would be the most interesting to play.  Your basic races should still apply; elves, dwarves, humans, halflings, etc.  but more exotic races, ie: tiefling, assimar, eladrin, shardmind (insert shudder) should be harder to start as or play with to ensure their progression is similar to those of the base races.  The best way I can think of to do this would be a point-buy system.  Not for the attributes, but for your race and racial bonuses.

Not all people of irish decent have red hair and green eyes.  Not all people of african decent have curly hair and ebony skin.  Not all people of french decent are whiny nasal pricks (Oh grow up and take a joke).  So why should all elves have the same +2 to dexterity?  Why should all half-orcs automatically get +2 to strength?  Maybe your character was born with a lighter frame than other half-orcs due to some odd mix of your hereditary bloodline and you’re more agile?  Maybe that elf you’re playing is nimble, yes, but also trained for hours on end and is as a result slightly stronger while still being quick on his feet?

A recent discussion on twitter between Landras Phaelan, Wolf Samurai, Digital Draco and myself hit on the very important question of upbringing, racial traits and culture as big points in character creation.  The question that brought this about was “What if an elf was orphaned and raised by dwarves?”  Well naturally he would have to be called Leek or Yam some other root vegetable as to avoid copyright infringement, but what would that do to his natural racial bonuses?  Would he keep the +2 to dexterity despite growing up working in a mine or a fortress, performing heavy physical labor and learning the ways of the dwarf?  Could he still recall his native tongue or would he speak broken elvish and perfect dwarvish?  Would he still wield a bow and longsword with finesse and grace or would a warpick feel more at home in his hands?  This is why a point-buy bonus system would work better for character creation.  It lends itself to a greater breadth and depth of character creation.

The buy system would be fairly easy to work out, maintain your preferred method of attribute creation, be it a 36/42 point buy or the 3d6/4d6 method and choose your race.  The races can still have their ‘natural’ abilities, in other words how they would generally develop when surrounded by their fellows and in a generic setting for their race.  At that point you can choose alternate cultures and upbringings for your character and distribute points accordingly:

6 Points for attributes with the cost for each increasing with each additional point maxing out at a +3 bonus
3 points for weapon skills, ranking as capable(+1), proficient(+2) and adept(+3)
5 points for language skills, ranging from understanding, to broken speech, to fluency
10 additional points to distribute through skills and other bonuses learned or inherited by heritage and culture with a maximum bonus of +4 to any one skill or ability.

The result of this would be a sort of cross-race character through changes in culture and allowing for greater customization through backstory, while at the same time exemplifying that the rules should fit the character, not the other way around.

2. Classes and Skills:

I’ve always like the idea of starting at level zero and BECOMING the hero.  It really puts your character into the mindset that this is development and growing as a person instead of just jumping into a pair of level 10 shoes.  From level zero your character could be anything, a hunter, an alchemist, a sage, a farmer, whoever happened to be in the right place (or wrong) at the right time.  Or perhaps they chose to stand up against tyranny or danger to defend their families and friends.  To quote a famous robot, “A hero is just a man who knows he is free.”

But how do you make a class out of a commoner?  Simple.  As a commoner, you have varied skills, none really fantastic, but workable.  Perhaps you’re strong and know how to hold a sword.  Maybe you have an affinity with magic, or know the right kinds of herbs to heal sicknesses and speed healing.  Maybe you’re slight and quiet and quick with a knife.  All of these boil down to skills.

Skills should classify your, well, class.  Melee skill, ranged skill, arcane, ritual, knowledge, stealth, all of these make what your character is, so why not add additional focus on them by making them what your character uses every day.  Want to hit with your sword?  Roll your melee skill vs their armor class.  Cast a spell? Arcane knowledge vs DC based on difficulty.  Avoid a trap?  Tumble, jump, or dodge skill.

This of course changes the basic mechanics of the game, but only in a very general sort of way.  We’re still looking at a d20 roll plus bonus to beat a certain difficulty score.  So to hit an enemy with an AC of 17, you would still have to roll an 11 with your Melee skill bonus of 7 to hit them.  But this also opens a world of different choices for you.  Say you’re a 2nd level wizard and want to change your magic missile spell to do fire damage instead of force damage; add an additional 2 to the standard DC of the spell for energy admixture and if you succeed, the spell fires off, if not it blows up in your face or fizzles.

Want to use your broadsword silently to gank that unsuspecting guard?  Roll for stealth and melee vs his perception and AC.  Fire three arrows at once? Add +1 to the DC for your ranged skill check to see if you manage to hit.  This allows for so much more customization of actions and allows players to make their own powers alongside the abilities granted by their chosen ‘class’ features.

3. Healing

I know that this is usually the sole namesake of the Cleric, but hear me out.  Second winds and Healing surges made it so that every player could boost themselves up in a time of need depending on the circumstances.  I understand that the healing role is the place for Clerics but I also think that other players should be able to perform healing too.  First aid, poultices, alchemical potions and the like should be able to be created through a combination of healing skill and knowledge or profession (alchemy/herbalism).  The Cleric can provide immediate healing with Heal checks of x2 his roll over DC but others can create potions and kits that could heal 1/2 to 1x their roll over the DC.  It would allow for greater variety of the party without needing a healer class.

For everyone out there now pulling at their hair and gnashing their teeth, fine, make up all the rules you want.  Put up your invisible walls that train-track you to the bad guy and take the average of rolls for your dice to attack and use your skills.  Sit down with graphing calculators to produce unbeatable tactics and strategies while you min/max your level 27 fighter/cleric/thief.

All this being said, this could and probably will inevitably be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.  If everyone gets their say all you wind up with is a mess that no one wants to eat.

Have an idea for D&D:Next yourself or just want to comment on mine?  Let me know!

#DnD #5e, or “How I stopped worrying and said, who really gives a shit, let’s play?” #DnDNext

•January 10, 2012 • 1 Comment

A LOT of hype and rumor and speculation is going around about the announcement of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.  Wizards of the Coast presented their official statement yesterday in the Legends & Lore section of the D&D branch of their website.  The article exemplifies how they are looking forward to the future of gaming and are reaching out to the gaming community for inspiration and guidance for the evolution of “Dungeons and Dragons: Next”.

“We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game.”

As far as I knew, the fundamental essence of D&D was “Here’s a decent outline of how to play this game and some rules we came up with and some monsters and stuff.  Have fun and make up your own games!”  That’s how I learned to play first edition, second edition, third and three-five.  Fourth edition threw me for a loop, but no more so than the change from first edition to third edition.  You pick up the game-play manual, you learn the basic rules, and you modify them to suit your own needs and desires.  Or maybe I’ve just been playing the wrong way for almost sixteen years.

The HUGE and absolutely obnoxious groaning that followed the release of 4th edition about how everyone HATED the new rules and how DUMB everything was and how GOD AWFUL the new class systems were, just pissed me off.  Are there really so few serious roleplayers that all of these asshats couldn’t sit down and say “You know what, I don’t really like this, let’s change it shall we?” and proceed to use the ONE THING that makes this game work: CREA-FUCKING-TIVITY.

THIS is why I’m dubious about the D&D:Next movement.  Not because it’s a new edition that will have new books and errata to spend my money on, not because it’s going to change my dear precious game, not because I’m a stubborn grognard, and not because WoTC and Hasbro have ‘Joined-Forces-To-Sodomize-D&D’ as a lot of people had adopted as their battlecry during the merger.  I’m dubious because so few people actually stood up when 4e came out and said “I didn’t like it, so I fixed it.”

SO many genres started as someone’s home game, Eberon, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Arcanis, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, hell even the storyline of World of Warcraft as we know it started as a tabletop game with a desolate high-gravity world that didn’t have elves.  The players and the DM are responsible for the game they play, not a set of crummy rules.  The book isn’t there to hold your hand and guide you to a magical land of wonder and awe.  Fuck no, that’s your job, It’s just a manual.  And for all of the rules monkeys out there who say we need to play the game as it is written, Gary Gygax himself said:

“The new D&D is too rule intensive. It’s relegated the Dungeon Master to being an entertainer rather than master of the game. It’s done away with the archetypes, focused on nothing but combat and character power, lost the group cooperative aspect, bastardized the class-based system, and resembles a comic-book superheroes game more than a fantasy RPG where a player can play any alignment desired, not just lawful good. “

The idea that WoTC now wants us to help build the new system of D&D would be great if I felt I could trust my fellow gamers to come up with something actually  worth playing instead of winging about what they don’t like.  I’m joining the fight to make D&D what it can be by putting my two cents in to try to make the game better, not just bash what I don’t like and then sit back sucking on mountain dew and eating funyons and expect someone to come along and dance for my entertainment.

Instead I will be sucking on mountain dew and eating funyons while I show the gaming world that creativity is not dead.  I’d like for you to join me.

Peren and Pirate Sammy Join forces #dnd

•November 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So last night was my children’s first game of D&D together. We got set up and I finally found my Midnight Syndicate CD (yes!) so we had some fantasy jams pumping as we got into the actual game.  My son was already in a single-shot campaign and my daughter was playing free-form, so I melded them together in a way so they both could work towards the same goal.

My son’s elven wizard, Peren awoke after having been badly wounded last game to find that the NPC crew of companions I had lent him had gone ahead without him.  They left him some supplies and a map leading him to the city of Althera, the port town that Pirate Sam had visited.  He set out and found that he was but a few hours travel from the town by way of a well-traveled merchant road.  While traveling, he saw an old man stumble and fall, and as he helped him up, the man pressed a heavy card into his hand that showed a picture of a red and green splotched leaf.  He thought nothing of it, but when he looked again the old man was gone.

Pirate Sam however, was rowing her longboat through the mists and saw the port looming ahead, and after docking, realized that the mushrooms that had been overwhelmingly prevalent the night before were completely gone, as if they had been a dream.  The marketplace was alive and bustling once again, and there was no sign that any of the townsfolk had been infested by the mushrooms.  Sadly, however, Sam had neglected to bring along her pack when she sank the ship and had to buy more supplies.

Peren’s companions were set for the Isla Fuerea in search of a scroll of sealing that would close a gate of darkness in this land and had chartered a ship to take them there.  However they had chartered this ship through an intermediary and didn’t have anything but the captain’s name and the name of his boat,  Saint “Salty” James and the Greldhorn.  His first stop is the ‘Swooping Swallow’ inn, a moderately furnished tavern near the waterfront.  He barely had a chance to sit down before Sam and her captain, John, entered.  Introductions were made and Peren made mention of the card he was given which bore an incredible resemblance to the one Sam carried.

After a brief explanation of their past adventures, John made mention that he was familiar with Saint James, and his old haunt, “The Bawdy Wench”.  He led our players down a seedy back alleyway through the slums of the harbor to a bedraggled tavern with a filthy, half broken sign depicting a barmaid lifting her skirt to her knees.  Once inside, the scene was bedlam, raucous fighting, laughing, yelling, and general carousing of unsavory characters filled the pub from wall to wall.  Forcing their way through the crowd, John found himself at a table with a lone, slender figure nursing a pint.  A good three feet around the table was unoccupied and the man sitting there seemed as dry and tough as thick jerky.  His knotted beard was white and tangled and his right eye was covered with a patch.

Through the noise, Sam and Peren couldn’t make out what John was saying to the grizzled old man, but in a blur of movement he stood and cracked the captain a solid blow across the jaw.  Peren rushed forward and asked the man what his problem was while Sam lingered back, commenting that she knew him from her youth and didn’t want to be recognized.  After a brief exchange they came to the agreement that while Peren’s companions did not show up Saint James would take them to the island.

As they were leaving the bar, my daughter’s active storytelling got them into trouble.  “One of the drunk guys grabs me and makes a mean sort of face at me.”  She says.

“Okay.”  I respond.  “What do you do?”

“I pull my pistol on him.”

“I hit him with my staff.” My son chimes in.

“Okay, roll to hit.”

“…I got a 2.”

“You hit the guy behind him, roll for initiative.”

So they started a small brawl, with three of the patrons joining in and my daughter intimidating the guy to let her go by offering to shoot him in the head if he wanted.  Being generous, I offered to let them deal subdual damage to these guys and just rough them up some.  “Do you want to kill these guys?”

“Yes…wait, will that make more people try to fight us?”  My daughter asks.

“It’s a yes or no question.  Are you trying to kill them?”


So her first longsword hit knocks one of the brawlers down to less than half HP, making his ale-addled mind react and he loses his morale save, trying to book it out of the place.  “Now since he’s trying to push past you, you can make an AOO, kiddo.  You want to do it?”

“Oh yeah, I’m taking that.” She says.

Her AOO hits and she scores another 12 points of damage to him, all but gutting the poor fool in the doorway.  To this she yells “I LOVE this game!”

Not to be out-done, my son lays down a Shocking Sphere on the other two, scorching the hell out of them and leaving them with not much HP to spare.  They both score terribly on their morale and surrender immediately, scooping up their dying friend and hot-footing it out of the place.

Once the blood splatter was cleaned up and the patrons stopped being so interested in their drinks, our adventurers made their way to the docks and onto the Greldhorn where they set off for Isla Fuerea.  On the journey they learned of Saint James’s dark past with the island and how he lost fifteen men on an expedition to the accursed place.

He explained how a dark man had hired them as valets and guards for the trip and how his men began to disappear one by one from their campsite in the old ruins where they had been led.  Saint James got no straight answers from the dark man about the disappearances, but remained with dwindling patience until one night a terrible light and horrifying keening arose from the lower levels of the ruins where the dark man had set up his research, and he and the nine remaining members of their twenty man troupe ran through the woods, trying to escape whatever was coming up from that hellish place.

He saw two of their number fall to the jungles around them, and heard two more attacked by whatever horrible clicking monster it was that was bearing down on them.  He didn’t see it directly, only flashes of limbs and white through the leaves and shadows of the jungle.

As the hour began to grow late, he retired to his cabin and bid the others do the same, for they would need their strength to face the island.

We called the game there, since it was closing in on 10:30pm and way past my youngest bed time.  We face the island tonight and shall see how our adventurers fare against the terrors ahead!

…And then there was One

•November 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

After 19 years of hellion-hood, we laid to rest our old family cat, Binky, ne’ Samoas, Parten.  She had a hell of a run, and while she was a crotchety old bitch she was our crotchety old bitch.  I’ll miss watching that five and a half pound ball of tabby terror back a 6’0″ 195lb man into a corner for fear of having his ankles flayed.

I don’t think I could have put it better than my sister did so I’ll link you to her blog for today.

…And then there was One.

Goodbye, Binks.  I’ll miss you.