Welcome to my D&D blog, a place of discovery and adventure. Here, there be monsters.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fourthcore Team Deathmatch Toronto Event


Last weekend, #FTDM made it's way up into the (not-so) frozen north in the form of a tournament ran by RWaluchow over at Crypt Thing. RWaluchow ran the games, and also played in them so we could have enough numbers for 3 vs 3. This was my second experience with FTDM live, the first being a 2 vs 2 vs 2 game on RWaluchow's Court of the Storm Lord map.

This time, we started with one of the first maps, The Citadel. Each match lasted an hour, but the first seemed to fly right by. A combination of luck and solid tactics saw our team in the lead position throughout the game (and by luck I mean the Bugbear Slayer played by RWaluchow a good portion of the map prone and humiliated.) I played a warlock binder, who hit some good damage, and our two Eladrin mages were able to make great use of the ballista.

In the Court of the Storm Lord map, a combination of bad luck and solid tactics lead to our team losing by two kills. I spawned in the whirlwind twice, and RWaluchow and Gingerbeard Man were able to use the blood sacrifice secure victory in the second to last round. Gingerbeard was also able to use his Enchanter to great effect, sliding us off of ledges, and the Warlock on the other team was hard to take down with his steam of temporary hit points.

The second match was a bit slower than the first, as line of sight and mobility were problematic. Some tweaks by RWaluchow will make it a lot smoother, and ready for our next event (coming soon!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

D&D Next Playtest: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wizard (again).

*These are my thoughts on how my character worked in a game RWaluchow at Crypt Thing ran. Check his site out for a description of the game itself, and for some killer artwork and maps.

Ok, maybe love is a strong word for a character I used for all of an hour (so far). Without any customization options beyond spell memorization, it's difficult to see what the class is really capable of. What magic schools (if any) are going to be available? What will be the upward limit of a wizard's power? When do I get my fireball?

The point here is that there is still way to much left for WoTC to figure out. And rightly so. They've opened themselves up to a dearth of opinions from the entire D&D-playing universe internet, a population that will not rest until they've posted their points of view—however relevant or useful—anywhere they can…


That said, there are some things that I think really work and hope will make it into the final edition.

Minor Spells

Magic Missile became my go-to spell again, functioning as I would expect it to and dealing enough damage to fell a kobold. Enough said.

Other Spells

I appreciated the simplified nature of spell descriptions. My biggest issue with 3rd edition was the amount of time I spent looking up spells in the PHB or Compendium. Even though we misused Comprehend Languages in an encounter with the kobold chieftain, and assumed it granted the ability to speak the language as well as understand it, the DM was so happy to try out the new skill challenge system that he didn't care. We later figured out a way to make a charisma check against an opposing intelligence save to see if the Kobolds could understand. A simple spell description inspired us to roleplay through a situation that could have easily seen our deaths.

Hit points

The first wizard I ever played, in 2e, had all of 1 hit point. The DM gave us healing potions at one point, and I gave mine to the fighter because if I ever needed the potion, I'd be dead. 16 was enough to survive a few sling bullets, but still feel a sense of urgency. We haven't yet used the healing or rest mechanics, but I think the lack of easy healing will bring a sense of urgency back to the game. It was assumed that a cleric could keep a party alive no matter what in 4e. Now, in the playtest at least, it's not nearly as certain.

High Elf

Personally, I'm very happy to get rid of the Eladrin and go back to the older classifications. The name High Elf evokes Tolkien, a sense of history and eternity, whereas Eladrin meant very little to me. Free Spirit, Keen Senses, and Low-Light Vision all felt exactly like the elf of yore, without being a dominating factor in the character build.

Background and Themes

Similarly, these inform the build without being a dominating factor. I flubbed my two lore checks—showing that they aren't ways of getting around role-playing as 3e Bardic Knowledge tended to be—but they are handy tools to move things along when the players are stumped. So long as there are numerous options to inform builds, and not become over-powered, they will only add richness to the game.

I have very few concerns right now, beyond fears over the level of variety in character design (which will likely be unfounded), and spell descriptions either being too ambiguous or too complex. 4e brought a level of clarity to combat situations that I hope they keep, while still encouraging creative applications of a basic set of rules. My own wishes are dangerous, as they assume a sense balance and elegance that won't end up bloated and unwieldy after four years of development, or broken in the hands of power gamers. I tend to belong in the power gamers camp most of the time, though I think in 4e that was easy if not necessary. I'm looking forward to revisiting my roots as an explorer and role-player in Next.

In fact, I'm torn by the fact that I have very little to argue with right now. The advantage/disadvantage system doesn't allow for scaling, and Bounded Accuracy will hard to judge fully until we can see how it impacts the game at higher levels. I want to provide constructive feedback, but I'm pleased with what I see and I'll stay cautiously optimistic about what WoTC will release. I'll leave the vehement arguing to the rest of the denizens of Twitter and the forums.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You Never Forget Your First...

I've recently decided to revisit the campaign world I created in back in second edition. Many (if not all) of the maps and other materials I drafted in high school have vanished in the dozen or so moves I've made since then, but I would have had to update them anyways.

I hope use this blog to rebuild the feel and atmosphere of that environment and (hopefully) use the D&D Next mechanics to give it life again.

Two Nations at War

The first world map I drew, apart from the (terrible) fantasy novel I tried to write at 13 years old, was of a land book-ended by mountains in the East and West. A funnel-shaped sea lay in the centre of the map, tapering down toward the south. Surrounding the sea on the East and West were two countries, each at war with the other. A narrow land bridge ran across the bottom of the map, connecting the two duchies. I believe their names were Markdale and Lekeland, though I remember little else of the names.

The adventure opened with the players arriving in the newly-built capital of Lekeland, the Eastern nation. The duke had put out a call for loyal adventurers, hoping to find a group foolhardy enough to sneak into enemy territory and gather any intelligence they could. The former capital city of Lekeland had been razed by the enemy not long before this, and they had rebuilt a city geared for defense behind an ancient forest in the south-eastern part of the vale. The duke, as such, was a paranoid man constantly in fear of attack from the Westerners. Perhaps rightly so...

Shortly after arriving in the city, a pickpocket attempted to steal the coin purse of the party's wizard. He harshly dispatched the thief with his Shocking Grasp, and they were then able to get the attention of the captain of the watch and secure an audience with the Duke. The rogue, a dapper hand-crossbow-carrying rake, sweettalked the party into a banquet held that evening, and seduced a number of the court ladies (though spent the next day dealing with the harsh rules for alcohol we had recently downloaded).

With their mission in place they set out through the mystical forest, but the campaign didn't last too long thereafter. My intention was to have them get through the forest and explore the ruins of the former capital. The ruins were close to the disputed land bridge between the two nations, and they would move from there into the enemy encampment on the isthmus.

Unfortunately my laziness and lack of experience led me to borrow heavily from Lord of the Rings, The Riftwar Saga, and even Final Fantasy II (snes). I lost steam pretty quickly and the campaign fizzled into nothing but fond memories.

Newer experiences with pbp, and over a decade with two other iterations of D&D, have given me renewed confidence and a drive to see this world realized again. Hopefully I'll be able to find some of the old materials to update and post, but I'll enjoy creating them from scratch if need be.