Monday, March 25, 2013

Sharpened Keep on the Borderland Cave Map

   I looked around for a nice map of the Caves from the B2 as it seemed like a nice place to have ready if I ever get a chance to run an older edition game and did not find one that fit my requirements. This was unsatisfactory so I took the best one I could find on the net and converted it to black and white then sharpened the image so it would print out better on my colleges B&W only printers (free > color). Of course doing this did not make any of the numbers and other things visible so I also went and hand fixed those things. Most of the things where easy but some points such as area g in the B cave was hard to even figure out what it was at first. Mostly because it used a lower case g which pixelated badly. Those I denoted with a little A then the the g and the print out, even on a single sheet of paper it seems to have looked good enough to use. Anyway here is the picture:
B2 Caves Map

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dissociated from 4th edition

   Not posted in a while but a post over at Jeffs Gameblog got me thinking. First though read this post on another blog about Dissociated Mechanics and then read Jeff's post here. Okay now that you have read them both I can get started with what I think.
   I did not like 4th edition as D&D though the game itself seemed fun and I think that the reason for this is hidden somewhat in the two posts I linked to above. What I believe is that first roleplaying games need to be balanced in favor of associated mechanics though this does not mean it needs more of them then dissociated ones. Two over time the mechanics that are a part of a certain game are bound to it, both associated and dissociated. Jeff has his 3 vectors and the third one is in my opinion in need of work. Its not that the community does not accept new dissociated mechanics but that to still consider a new version as a successful update to the old version it needs to have enough of the mechanics connected to the old one. This is where 4th fails.
   To explain better I need to take a look deeper into the basic framework of D&D. Wizards and other magic using classes have a limited number of spells a day they can cast because its based on a magic system portrayed in some books Garry Gygax read. It doesn't really make that much sense and when someone first comes into D&D or any roleplay game which has a magic like system that is not purposefully bucking the norm you have to explain why it works the way it does. Sure it is easy to see that it balances magic but the in-game logic needs to be explained. This means that it is at some level a dissociated mechanic used to limit the use of magic. Now you won't see it at such as it is the norm now but its there. 4th editions system makes a lot more sense, you can use easy spells as much as you like and the more difficult the less you can use them without resting. Where in all other editions you have to explain about things like the brain only being able to store so many spells and then get into why you can't just use it all to store magic missile, 4th lets you just say the spell is harder so you can do it less. Then you get to the generic fighter and you realize something else about 4th. Everyone is a wizard, all that changes is what you specialize in.
   This its a wizard called fighter problem is something you see brought up in roguelikes a lot as all fighters can do in such a limited setting is bump into things. Sure you can add all kinds of bells and whistles but after a certain point the difference between a magic user and that is that the magic user is less complicated. 4th edition fixes this "fighters are boring" problem by making everything a magic user. I don't care that ones flavor text says its arcane and the other says its something physical there is no real difference in the end as all the classes are based off of the same daily power scheme. Once again I will say that it makes more sense  then a lot of other systems that D&D has used. But this is where it all comes together.
   4th edition changes too many base assumptions of the game.  I have said it before and I will say it again many times, 4th editions is a fun game but it is not D&D. Now I seem to have gotten away from the original topic which was dissociated mechanics being why 4th was "not D&D" and thats because you need one more piece to this puzzle. That piece is that D&D has changed a  lot between version before but not llike this and the difference is how they changed the dissociated mechanics. Changing out a number of mechanics doesn't matter as long as you replace them with an equal number, adding more mechanics doesn't matter either though associated ones will be better received. No what matters is that when you replace mechanics you don' replace a bunch of those systems with a smaller number of them. Up until 4th edition D&D has grown every version.. Even if its just by a few sub-systems there has been more. In 4th edition while it may seem that there is a lot of stuff in reality what used to be a bunch of different systems both associated and dissociated where merged into 1. The class system as originally made while not being the most associated of systems it was less of a system and more of a way to choose what system you want to use, do you just want to bash stuff, maybe healing is your thing, or maybe the wizard with your lack of armor to hold in all that cosmic power. Even if some classes are similar they are all generally different systems in some way. 4th has one system and you choose whether you want to call what your doing physical or magic and even that blurs some. In the end this system is even more dissociated then the old systems, it has to be as there is no way around it if you want to be able to generalize enough to fit all the classes in. I am not going to say any mechanic is fully one or the other but overall 4th reduces the systems and dissociates from the game and the source. If it had just changed out systems, if it had only added more, if it had replace them with a more associated mechanic, then maybe I could have called it D&D but because it failed at all of these things 4th managed to fall on its face.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interesting fix/nerf for my Soulbow's Saves

   My character is broken. Almost completely broken in the most amazing way. One way he is no longer broken is his saves which I am actually fine with. The godly saves was actually and accident on my part because for the first six levels only one class did I take twice and that was Soulknife so I could qualify for Soulbow. This meant that without trying my Fort save was +8 and my Reflex save was +9, of course with a wisdom of 28 my will was up there at +18 but when your stacking a stat like that it is to be expected. Anyway long story short the DM did not like that even  my worst save was better then some of the other players' best saves. He figured out a good solution for this as well along with improving my base attack bonus. My saves where broken because of having so many classes (same with the BAB but in the wrong way) so he figured out how to normalize it. To put it simply he just looked at how quickly saves and BAB advanced and that is what I got. For saves there are only 2 kinds, good and bad. If a save has a bad progression then for that level you get 1/3 of a point, for a good save its a little trickier if only because first and second character level (not class) you get 2 then 1 and from then on you get 1/2. Saves round down of course. This mean that my Cloistered Cleric 1/Soulknife 2/Fighter 1/Monk 1/Soulbow 1 my saves before stat bonuses was Fort 4, Reflex 3 1/3, and Will 5 1/3 which was a lot more in line with what everyone else had. Of course lets not forget BAB which has 3 different advancement speeds good, average, and bad. A good one advances +1 every level, and average one advances +1/2 every level, and a bad one advances +1/3 every level so my character ended up with 4 1/6 (remember Cloistered Cleric has a bad progression). Of course I lost more then I gained and would definitely revert back to the old way in a moments notice though thats just because of how broken my guy is in combat. The worst bonus to attack I can have if within 30' is now 17 where before it was a 15, not much difference though it does mean I can potentially get a +21 to attack but really most of what we fight I just have to roll to make sure its not a 1. Also we just went up a level which is nice though it did not do all that much for me. Its next level I look forward to because of how our group does stat increases which is you get +2 instead of +1 to a stat. Everything I do in combat is based off of Wisdom so basically next level I get +1 to hit, to damage, and to AC automatically. Also my BAB goes up 1 but until it hits +6 where I get another attack at +1 I don't really notice it that much, I mean really whether I am adding +20 or +21 to my roll is meaningless when anything but a 1 is a hit but when suddenly its a +22/+17 then it matters. Combine that with my making it so I can use flurry with my Mind Arrows means that in reality it would be +20/+20/+15 which matters quite a bit, especially when the damage I do is 1d6+1d4+14. Now the 1d6 and 1d4 are a little boring and I don't really care about them and would replace them with a solid plus instead of a random number its the +14 that I like as its dependable. So yeah, I broke my character and the DM is slowly fixing him though I don't think it can be done that easily especially since I am only about 3k gold away from upping my Periapt of Wisdom from +2 to +4 and thus at level 8 I will almost definitely have a Wisdom of 32 and as I said before, everything I do in combat is powered by my Wisdom.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The end of another game for me

   I am no longer DMing a D&D game as next week we will be going back to having the guy who normally DM's and starting a new campaign with characters at level 6. The basic problem with me is that I opened up the world so they could go out and create their own story and mostly everyone in the group would prefer a more structured story then that. I tried to give them hooks though not that well I guess. Maybe some other time. I hate to admit it but I knew this was coming when the one guy had to drop from the campaign. He was basically holding the game together by actually interacting with the world in a search for something to do sorta way.
   Anyway I am going to be a Soulbow which is a psionic ranged character that is a prestige class of the Soulknife. I don't quite know how I want to make it but I have thought about it before and basically I have to start at around 6 so I can actually be of use as before that I am just a melee guy trying to do ranged combat without a good weapon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comparing D&D and Windows

I would like to preface this with the fact that most of my knowledge on both subjects is second hand at best so take it with a grain of salt. I believe what I am saying though for whatever thats worth.

   I'm not really up on any of the new buzz about D&D as I mostly look back for inspiration but I just realized a pattern in Windows versions and D&D versions. I was reading through Delta's blog again when I came to this article. Now the problem that came from the complete dropping of backwards comparability is not unique to D&D and if the post's title did not tip you off its Windows that did it and you probably guessed already it came in the form of Vista. Once you get down to it 4th edition D&D is quite similar to Vista in a couple of important ways which will let me predict what will happen to 4th edition and 5th edition which is to come.
   First of all the loss of backwards compatibility caused numerous problems for their respective systems. The easiest to see this with is Vista as a number of horrible bugs are the result of throwing away old code to try and make a clean slate. Basically they took hundreds of thousands of man-hours worth of debugging and threw it away. How many of you out there are still using XP because of the fiasco that was Vista? Windows 7 is a decent platform, hell even Vista has gotten better but that does not matter as with the fallout from Vista people realized that they did not have to auto update to the newest thing out there. Now lets look at 4th edition D&D and see what there is to see on this topic. Actually let me tell you why I won't play 4th edition. Its not D&D. Now I have played 4th edition and yes it is a fine game but it simply is not D&D. Like with computers it used to be that once a new version came out you updated and before 4th you could theoretically move your characters to the new version. 4th was a line in the sand and like how Vista made people realize it was fine to stay with an older version and even more so then computers there is no downside. Once again I will say that 4th edition as a game is fine but by being not D&D to anyone that played before it the line in the sand was drawn and people have realized they have a choice.
   Now the above is all fine and dandy but how does this let me see the future? Well first of all the second they can rush D&D 5th edition out the door people will try to sweep 4th edition under the rug and try to make people forget the troubles caused by it. Like Vista, 4th edition has made money and with a little ironing its a fine system to use and people will continue to use it just like people continue to use XP/3.whatever and just like how Windows 7 is doing 5th edition will be better. Now the thing is 5th edition or whatever they call will be better and may actually include suggestions from actual people like you or me but it won't like D&D was. It may have parts of it but in the end it will be 4th edition but more so. Just like Vista, 4th was trumpeted as a fresh start for a tired brand and just like Windows 7, 5th edition will be pushed out lower key and mostly to try to catch those they had alienated already.
   The biggest difference between what will happen with D&D and what has happened with Windows is that someone managed to make D&D's golden goose public property. People have gone back to Windows not because they fixed what they broke even though they mostly have but instead because they want a Windows experience with a computer and don't want to bother with Linux or Mac but they can't stay with XP because it is no longer supported and it wont be able to keep pace with newer requirements. Here is where D&D differs as 3rd edition is alive and well under the name of Pathfinder so people never have to go to a newer version. Also unlike computers technically all you need are the core rule books and it works just as well now as it did when they first came out even with modern wants and needs or in other words OD&D is still a fun game to play still while DOS is a relic. D&D as a brand won't die just yet but if they contuse down the route of continually pushing new versions they will find that less and less people will be buying the books because unlike computers the rules don't get outdated.
   Anyway in-case I was not clear enough a quick bullet point list of my predictions:
  • 4th will be swept under a rug as soon as possible
  • 5th will be 4th but "better"
  • Even though the above is true it wont capture people quite as much as 4th had
  • If they try to push out 6th edition within 5 or so years it will do worse then 4th or 5th
  • 5th will only have token bits included that are fan derived
  • I pray I am wrong but D&D as I know it is gone from the brand

Monday, February 13, 2012

I think my group is now tired of centipedes

   So yeah, centipedes. My group, they fought them. Anyway I now am out of my pre-made caves so I will actually have to prepare for next week. Besides a cave full of centipedes there was a lot of fun to.
   The session started slow with them not wanting to go to town so finally they decided to follow the river. This was nice as I could fill out some interesting features on the three tiles there. First night nothing much happened till near morning. One of the players decided that after their watch they would sleep in a tree and of course there was some jokes and such and someone offhandedly mentioned a squirrel attack. So of course I had carnivorousness squirrels attack the character in the tree because he slept on their nest. Only three and they where mostly speed bumps but it was exciting. The player in the tree was not woken by the person on watch shouting so the squirrels got a free attack on him. Then the rock goblin archer type with a freaky ricochet ability destroyed 2 of the squirrels. The player in the tree was awake so he tried to tumble out because he was a ninja or whatever. Rolled a natural 1 so the group decided he should be stunned for a turn and I picked up on this and said he was. Of course the last squirrel tumbled down onto the ninja perfectly and hits him again. The rock gobbo then critted it and did over 3 or 4 times its total health. I decided the two that where killed to start where shot through the skulls and the arrow was stuck in the tree so it was just a couple squirrels hanging on the tree. Next day of course the party decided they should cook them but I said just the skulls where left on the arrows and that even that had scratch marks like something squirrel had been gnawing on them. At the end after we finished they joked about vegetarian wolves so I joke of course there where some after all the squirrels needed mounts after all. Yeah I wasn't joking, I hope they go back there sometime. Not much else happened but the seconded night they found a cave to sleep in and it had a slightly hidden spot which had a gold piece worth of silver coins.
   On a slightly sad note for me as I liked him the new player will be leaving the group because of military service. Of course he did go into it by choice so its not a bad thing but he was fun to have in the group. Also he is the one that was on the side making deals with the goblin who originally guided them to their cave home. Because he is leaving I can say that he is getting paid on the side by said goblin for basically spying on the group and is getting extra money for useful information. The location of the cave with nothing much this time and  the location of the cave from the session before where the one scarred gobbo had his treasure where particularly good information so he got a good bit of money. Of course since he is leaving and I can't have him just vanishing his character will become a NPC employed by the goblin. Also I am having him level up for next session. No I am not doing this because he is leaving. I would have had him level up anyway because I was basically counting his spying and such as providing bonus XP. I tried to let the other people in the party do similar things but one stayed at the cave so could not, another was getting fitted for plate which is fine but then a second one went with him because he did not want to go to a bar and the final ones first action on getting to the bar was to get drunk, completely and entirely drunk all the way till night time so yeah the only person who was going along with their freedom is now leaving. I have no clue how I am going to get the party moving besides a nice set of rail road tracks onto some structured quest. I don't know why I expected any different a that is basically what the other campaigns where I was a player where. I will mourn the loss of a player who knew what to do when given freedom. Oh and as a final note the rock goblin in the party will become known in town as squirrel bane while the ninja is going to be squirrel bate, about 3 in 10 will recognize the squirrel bane while 1 in 10 will recognize the squirrel bate and if they are together if one is recognized the other will be too.