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Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

Wapole Languray posted:

OK fixed. Most of the names are gibberish or execrable dog-Latin so you're not missing much. And I've added the proper title, so we never forget this is a game with a literal METAL FONT title.

Also, like 50% of the fuckers in this book END REALITY. It's honestly goddamn tiring.

In all honesty, if you had me guess I'd assume this review is the April Fool's joke.

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Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Auricle



GET IT ITS LIKE AURAL PLUS ORACLE HAHAHAHAHA!

It's one of a type of monster called a Sensor (Guess how many others there are! WRONG ITS ONLY 3!) They ... go around listening for misery, and hurting people who make happy sounds.

Like, literally laughing and giggling and happy noises make them super angry and they'll attack! It's literally just a wandering ear-ball that will jump you for chuckling. Most of its entry is about combat because that's all it does. And it is BULLSHIT.

The first two rounds it attempts to mute the players. Save vs Magic or lose the ability to speak for 1-4 rounds! It can also deafen them! Save Vs. Magic or become Deaf for 1-4 rounds!

From third round later it switches to... well a total bullshit attack. "heinous murmurs" has a range of 50' in a radius. Save Vs. Magic, AGAIN. You get infected with NIGHTMARE WHISPERS that distract you so bad you take a -4 to EVERY ROLL for 24 HOURS. Oh, and you get 1-6 HP Damage no matter what, it's just automatic.

Now we get to the pun. See those whispers are actually warning the players of future events. If a PC focuses they can listen to specific words and then take action on the calamity being predicted. So Aural+Oracle. Hahaha.

Oh, and it's damaged by happy music. If you play a happy ditty it takes 1d4 damage per round, or a silencing spell does 1d10 damage.

Auspice

Hentai-Tentacle made of liquefied corpses and giant zits.

OK this thing is a sentient fungus that eats people in exchange for telling you the future. Like, if you feed this immobile fungus tentacle a living person it will give you a TRUE PROPHECY by answering one question about the future.

So first off, useless unless your PCs like human sacrifice. Also it destroys magical and cultural artifacts using the Ritual of Adumbration, which apparently also destroys the culture the artifact is from somehow?

If you fight it, it lashes at you like a tentacle. I fit hits you make a Save vs. Poison or be infected. The Infection does 1 damage per day until cured by healing magic. Then once cured, you roll 1d6 (it says 1 in 6 chance but ITS 1d6 YOU gently caress) and if you get that 1 in 6 (I assume a 6, or maybe a 1? UP TO YOU GM) then you roll on a 1d4 table to see HOW hosed YOU ARE!

That's right baby, your flesh falls off and you get a PERMANENT STAT MALUS! Oh, note how all of them only matter to fighters. Magic-Users are A-OK!

Bilious Grub

Seriously, there is a totally naked dude being disemboweled and dismembered here. It's just a Carrion Crawler guys, Jesus gently caress why did I need to see a dudes mangled stumps

It's a Grimdark Carrion Crawler. It's a giant alien bug monster that eats people. When it fights you , make a million Save vs Poison or get a variety of diseases that gives you various stat malus until you get better, no cure just wait it out.

It can spit on you that makes you immobile and gives all attacks against the target a +2 for the next round. No save or avoiding, it just does this. If you hit it, it shits all over you and you have to make a save vs. Poison (Everyone within 5 feet) or take a -2 to next roll.



If any GM actually does this poo poo, burn his books.



This is actually kinda cool. I have NO IDEA why killing a giant bug gives you superpowers but whatever. It's pretty neat, doesn't seem too broken, hell I like it.



Oh... Nevermind.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




The Auspice almost sounds like it has a point, in the evil-cult-god manner of speaking. The rest seem like they were randomly generated from a big table of BRUTAL features, like Nathan Explosion wrote a game supplement.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Pretty sure D&D doesn't stand for "Defeat & Defile". But I'm not a professional RPG superstar like this guy, so I could be mistaken.

Skellybones
May 31, 2011






Fun Shoe

The Martian tribe of superintelligent mantis shrimps in the bodies of cyborg prostitutes seems exactly like the sort of thing you'll find in the dystopian future. The only way it could be better is if it weren't a mad AI experiment, but a hypercorp's viral marketing gimmick that went too far.

LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


Kavak posted:

The Auspice almost sounds like it has a point, in the evil-cult-god manner of speaking. The rest seem like they were randomly generated from a big table of BRUTAL features, like Nathan Explosion wrote a game supplement.

That's...that's pretty much Rafael Chandler's thing.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



NS2: Beyond the Wailing Mountains



Beyond the Wailing Mountains takes place 9 months after Vengeance of the Long Serpent as a new spring dawns. Whether by paranormal activity of an Althunakian flavor, visiting the Ulnat again, or receiving word from a northbound friend or ally in danger, the PCs are back in Ulnataland. The adventure also suggests the possibility that the PCs may wish to put a stop to Elvanti once and for all immediately after Vengeance of the Long Serpent, and to adjust the season accordingly. There is less of a jump in terms of character progression, with the minimum recommended level being 6th and the maximum recommended being 8th as opposed to Long Serpent's 5th/7th. With the exception of NS10: the Broken Shieldwall, every adventure in this campaign bumps up by 1 level for recommendations.

The adventure proper begins in Laquirv. Kelvani, Yilithi's brother and Kelvani's other son is back...dead, and encased in a block of ice impervious to mundane fire. The body within has an obviously broken jaw and posed to hold a severed hand and bloodied spear, meaning he did not die of exposure. Clearly this is the work of the Children of Althunak! The PCs do not have much respite to contemplate the weight of this before the cult follows up their warning with a proper raid. A legion of yetis and ice trolls attack the village, with the PCs fighting 3 or 4 of them while the rest battle Ulnat warriors in the background. Kelvani's corpse reanimates as a fetch (cold-based undead) and slays his own father.

Once the battle is done an Ulnat examines an ice troll's monstrous form and sees the face of Klinqa: the women who rebuffed Elvanti's advances! In fact, the many ice trolls of this adventure are Elvanti's "snow brides," women captured from the cult's conquest to be made into his concubines. Faced with this sudden discovery, Yilithi gathers up the surviving elders and further explains things to the party. From speaking to the former slaves of the Cult, he learned that the one they were building was referred to as the "Second Temple." Combined with Elvanti's first exile beyond the northern mountains, it's concluded that the Children of Althunak are still active beyond known Ulnataland. What lies Beyond the Wailing Mountains his people know little of, save that the trail is littered with the bones of heroes."

Naturally, Yilithi and the Ulnat wish the PCs to help them once again. However, they may necessarily be alone. With a diplomacy check they can recruit up to 5 Ulnat Warriors (2nd level rangers) along with dogsleds (the latter of which can't be taken across the mountains). Yilithi will also suggest one more visit to Heroes' Rock, and the spirits there will lend the party their magical items again.

What I Changed: I replaced the ice trolls with human Adept cultists using disguise self spells to appear as frozen undead. I did this both b/c I had a policy of not incorporating themes of sexual assault into the campaign, as well as being a tactically challenging alternative (fool the party into thinking they have undead immunities).

Ulnataland



The first chapter is just the voyage to the foot of the mountains, and has no plot event or set-piece encounters of note. We get a description of the wilderness (tundra with poor game) along with random encounters which are the same as in Vengeance of the Long Serpent save they now include some more dire animals and friendly Ulnat hunters.

Yup, it's only 2 and a half pages. This must be a new record for lack of length.

Trail of Ravens and Beyond

This is where things heat up. This chapter is divided into two regions: first is the Trail of Ravens crossing through the Wailing Mountains. Travel is slower, the nights are longer and colder, and the random encounters include more dangerous foes. Two notable one-time encounters include a frost giant loyal to the Cult and a pair of Remohraz tainted by the demon-god's influence, along with ogres, normal trolls, and yetis (oh my)! 50% of the random encounter results are natural hazards from crevasses, avalanches, and blizzards.

The White Fields of Death are a vast plain of snow and ice. Technically this is part of the Lost Lands' northern pole, and no living soul, not even among the Ulnat, are known to have crossed its horizon. It may as well be endless, and being at the polar caps the sun doesn't seem to set for days. The environment here is harrowing; the reflection of the sunlight off the white snow can cause blindness for 1d4 days on a failed Fortitude save, and the place is so cold (-30 to -60 degrees Farenheit) that by a strict reading of the Pathfinder environmental rules characters will take 1d6 cold damage every minute regardless of the clothing they're wearing, no save. I can't help but think that this is an editing mistake, but the adventure itself refers to the Environment section in the corebook for cold dangers. There's no way a party without endure elements or cold resistance will be able to complete this adventure without dying of exposure, and food and crops here are non-existent. If you still want to maintain a "dangerous land" feel, I suggest delaying the damage to every couple hours, or a day if the group has no magical healing sources.

As there are no civilizations to hide their presence, Althunak's demonic minions are free to rule openly, and random encounters include several varieties of evil outsiders, including a unique encounter against a corrupted dire bear animal companion known as Blue Fang the Snow Bear:



Awww, he looks so sad...


The only set-piece encounter here is an artificial blizzard over a lake of frozen corpses (remnants of Hvran's army). The creator is Kaliope, an Ulnat woman who is now a yuki-onna...an evil snow spirit from Japanese folklore.

What was that about not borrowing from other mythologies, Northlands?

Kaliope is the "boss" of this chapter. The blizzard is a constant environmental hazard which hinders the PCs, and Kalope resorts to hiding underneath the ice and grappling PCs to drown them. Once she dies the storm dissipates, and they get a +2 spear from her corpse for their troubles.

The Temple of Ice and Stone



The final chapter covers the ruins of the City of the Lord of Winter, the center of Althunak's worship on the Material Plane. The city itself sits on the edge of an unfrozen lake in which the demon-god's corpse is said to lair. The statues and reliefs throughout depict the eternal-winter-cannibalism motif the Lord of Ice and Cold is known for. The city's natural defenses include the Lake of Frozen Screams (which deals lethal cold damage upon immediate exposure) and the outer wall (C1) which is rather simple in its lack of murder holes and armed patrols. The front gates (C2) have elite cultists known as Eaters of Men (Barbarians), and the main street (C3) has regular patrols of more Eaters backed up by shamans and ice daemon marauders as backup. The residential structures (C4) are the living quarters and contain cultists along with kidnapped Ulnat slave women who grant bonus experience for each one who is saved.

What I Changed: My players are too canny to just waltz in the front door and cruise down an open street, so I had ice daemons along the wall. Seeing them from stealth outside, the party elected to use the folding boat to sail along the Lake and scale the Temple. They did bypass the city encounters, but when it came to the dungeon they reverse-fought their way out of the Temple once their business was done.

The Temple of Ice and Stone is a 50 foot tall fortress with a granite foundation. It sits above the Lake of Frozen Screams and has a series of tiered bridges and chambers connecting it to the rest of the city. The Causeway Head has a great treasure, a pair of sapphire eyes on a giant statue of Althunak worth 10,000 hacksilver each. The bridge has a flight of gargoyles who can be bypassed with use of a ritual which can be figured out via Knowledge-Religion, and the entrance to the people proper has half a dozen low-level acolytes who are no real trouble for 6th-level PCs.



Elvanti awaits our heroes in the main cella (big atrium-like place) in front of a humongous statue of his dread lord. Elvanti, Chosen of Althunak and Oracle of the Perpetual Winter, has undergone a change into a hideous ape-like monstrosity in the intervening years. In addition to the 2 snow brides willing to battle at his side, Elvanti himself is pretty tough: he is physically focused, has spell resistance, a fly speed, and limited-use ice storm and call lightning spells which he can use thanks to open skylights in the temple. In fact, said openings are marked on the temple's maps and he will use it on exposed PCs, adding a tactical mini-game for movement and positioning. Elvanti can also turn others into Snow Brides by draining their Wisdom with a grapple, and invoke a save-or-die by encasing a victim in frozen ice as an inference of Kelvani's ultimate fate.

Should the PCs win, they find much in the way of valuables. The greatest treasures include: the crown on the statue of Althunak worth 20,000 hacksilver plus 29 crystals worth 21,750 hacksilver, a +3 icy burst greataxe etched with scenes of Althunak feasting on mortals and demons, and plenty of fine tapestries, silk, and various art objects.

What I Changed: I kept Elvanti's stat block the same but made his appearance a physical human. The previous adventure still had him as such, and I felt that having him be as mortal as everyone else made his evil feel more "real" and approachable, even if ultimately unjustifiable. I also swapped out the pair of snow brides for a babau demon who acted as his second-in-command.

The adventure mentions that the death of Elvanti is a great blow to the Children of Althunak, but this is still a setback rather than a full victory unless the PCs find a way to destroy the Temple itself or at the very least breaking down the statue. This will cause the forces to scatter to the four winds rather than rebuild. If any of the PCs are divine casters of a deity, then said gods will now know of Althunak's existence, causing the demon-god to go on the down-low and not wanting to risk a "battle he cannot win." Still, Althunak knows how to hold a grudge and from then on winters become colder, fires take more effort to burn and give off less heat, and remnants of his cult will go south to hunt for the ones who wounded them so in the form of suggested random encounters for future adventures.

What I Changed: Funny thing is, given that his presence dominated 3 out of 4 adventures so far, Althunak won't make a comeback until NS9. Yeah, they weren't kidding about him going into hiding. I more or less had his cult make a reappearance in NS7 as part of my rewriting process for that adventure.

On the plus side, the Ulnat are grateful for their victory. Any snow brides still alive turn back into human forms and will be the first to come forth with marriage proposals for PCs. And heroes who die are buried in a new cairn at Heroes' Rock. And speaking of Heroes' Rock, the spirits there give the party their blessings to keep their magical relics:

quote:

ďKnow that though beaten, the Icy Maw is not destroyed. He will return, and he will seek you out to slake his thirst for vengeance. Your very lives are now a quest against the Cold Dark, and your hands are worthy to hold the weapons that bear our legend. Go and keep these items with our blessing; may they protect you from the coming darkness."

What I Changed: There were no snow brides (and thus no marriage proposals), but Aluki (the male "Yilithi") wished to venture to the Northlands alongside the PCs after a farewell to her family and a promise from them to keep her safe.

Concluding Thoughts: The adventure's very linear, and slow in regards to having random encounters be a significant factor in the first two chapters. That is, if the party triggers them at all. But I did like the playing up of the eerie nature of the polar region and the "tactical weather" mini-game for Elvanti's fight. The less-knowledgeable PCs thought the "eternal sun" was witchcraft.

After a quest on a forlorn iceberg and two adventures in Ulnataland, it seems that it's been a while since the PCs adventured in the Northlands proper. Well the next quest makes up for that on a region-trotting journey where our heroes seek to lift The Death Curse of Sven Oakenfist!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 08:46 on Apr 4, 2018

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



4e Player's Handbook: A Critical Review

The year is 2008. People have finally gotten it through their skulls that maybe D&D classes are unbalanced, there are lot of weird sacred cows that could be killed, the game is bloated to hell and confusing, and people are just about ready for a change - or at least to stop having to ban incantatrix every 3.5 minutes, keep up with the drat polymorph rules because of Joe's druid, and design cool new artifact swords for the fighter to keep them relevant.

Now there's a new game! It's gonna be cool and awesome! Combats are gonna be cinematic, fast, and hardcore! We're finally going to get rid of every character needing a pile of magic items! You can combine any class with any race! Everyone gets powers! This is going to be great! All the overpowered bullshit of 3.5 - and crap rules like Wealth By Level - are going to be swept away!

Well, we didn't get that game. We got:



The one good thing you can say about this book is - well, they tried new stuff. Some of it could have worked in the hands of competent designers. A lot of the ideas were just bad, and the ultimate failing of this book is that for every step forward they take two steps back. Fighters gain powers...but are still useless out of combat and most of their powers are boring damage boosts. Wizards are nerfed...except not really, they still lock down encounters like the third edition wizard. Roles are introduced...but this book makes no effort to actually keep roles distinct. Fans claimed it was the most balanced edition of the game ever...but infinite damage loops were found in the core book before it was released in stores, and the V-classes were garbage.

The truth of the matter is, as much as 4th edition fanboys don't like to admit it, this edition split the D&D community heavily and - worst of all - gave rise to Pathfinder and D&D 5e, both games which are contemptible in their own right. So we are going to look into this mess, and figure out what people actually objected to, rather than the beloved caricature of people who just weren't enlightened enough to grasp 4e's elegant design principles.

Chapter 1: How to play
Standard "what is an RPG" fare. There's not much to object to in here ever since the constitutional amendment that every RPG book must have one of these. If you are in this thread, you know the drill, and the target audience of these books is gonna skip right to the meat of the game. Here we go!

Chapter 2: Character Creation
This is the standard D&D fare, with some differences. You're given the usual list: pick race, pick class, determine ability scores, choose skills, choose feats, choose powers, choose equipment. Now, this is usually out of order as a lot of times people select class before race (you want that strength bonus as a fighter!) and 9 times out of 10 people are picking powers and feats before skills (as those are tha actual meat of the character's combat ability). We get a short overview of races and classes and then something new: character roles.

In 4e D&D each class has a role - controller, defender, leader, and striker. Controllers seriously have no good definition at the time of this book, they either disable enemies or deal a paltry amount of AoE damage. Defenders are tanks, leaders buff and heal, and strikers do damage. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that it imposed role protection on classes that really didn't have it before. You could build controller fighters in 3.5, but in 4e you're expected to tank all day every day. It's different and not necessarily the worst thing, but a lot of people weren't happy with it. Personally I don't think the concept of roles is terrible, but I'll cover that more when we get to the implementation.

Next is ability scores, and we get to the first thing 4e actually got right - promoting point buy. Now, most 3.5 groups had ended up using point buy to avoid random character, but 4e opens straight with "pick your ability scores through point buy" and it turns out that's actually a really good way to do it. I give 4e a gold star for this.

Then we have...alignment. Rather than sticking with the 9 traditional D&D alignments or just removing alignment altogether, they left Lawful Good, Good, Neutral (called Unaligned), Evil, anc Chaotic Evil. It is stupid and pointless and gets referenced nowhere in the rules. There is even a little sidebar explaining that alignment is totally different than personality. This has always been supposed to represent that you personally were aligned with one of the great divine powers or whatever, but has always denigrated into grognard debates, arguing over whether the paladin fell, the actual morality of baby murder (really) and other idiocy. Fortunately it's not referenced by the rest of the book much.

There's a short list of deities. They're not interesting enough to write home about. There's Avandra the change god (who is good), Bahamut the Dragon god, Corellon the elf god, Erathis the civilization god, Ioun the knowledge god, Kord the strength god, Melora the ocean god, Moradin the dwarf god, Pelor the sun god, Raven Queen the goddess of death, and Sehanine the moon god. I just saved you 2 pages. Also there's a paragraph on how you could worship a dark god, but that's totally mean you guys and makes you a puppy kicker so don't do it. There's a short section on ability checks (roll a d20) and retraining, but the next meaty part is leveling up and the tier system.

See, in 4e they raised the level cap from 20 to 30 and divided the game into 3 tiers, heroic, paragon, and epic. In heroic tier you are a low level scrub who fights orcs, paragon you are a guy who can fly and teleport, and epic you are a god-slaying world-conquering hero. This is how the game advertises itself. Keep these in mind, we'll come back to them later. The important thing to take away from this section is that as you progress through the tiers you get more and more powerful to the point where epic level heroes are supposed to be people the world plans around. There's a brief explanation of the 4e character sheet and then we get into:

Chapter 3: Races

It just wouldn't be a D&D book if the color of your skin didn't determine how smart you were.

Ok, that came out really badly, but one of the big things this game hyped was that racial penalties were gone now, so any race could be any class. As we got closer to the release date this turned out to not be true, as each race got a bonus to two stats, and classes required two stats...the end result was that there was a decent list of optimal race-class matchups that if you didn't conform to, you were behind the curve. This provoked further hilarity when it turned out that despite all the marketing rhetoric of how the math "just worked" it did not actually work and to fix your character you had to pay $50 more for the PHB2 a year later to get the expertise feats -even if your class stats matched your race.

The odd thing about all of this is that each race had a racial power and that would have worked absolutely fine for distinguishing the races. If the Tiefling had infernal wrath, the Dragonborn had dragon breath, and the humans got an extra basic power from their class, that would have been absolutely fine as an actual choice that doesn't penalize you too hard for wanting to be an orc mage or a tiefling with a greatsword. Telling people that their eladrin wizard is going to use a wand because they have a dex bonus pisses people off. The game alternates between explaining that being a dwarf wizard wasn't a complete waste of time (PHB only, it was) and hyping that you should be an elf if you want "to be a member of a race that favors the ranger, rogue, and cleric classes". It's nuts.

Anyway, on the actual races we dropped the half-orc and gnome from the 3.5 Players Handbook and replaced them with the eladrin, tiefling, and dragonborn. The eladrin are just another type of elf (why?), tieflings are devil people who used to be splatbook-only but are now in the PHB, and dragonborn are lizard dudes who are like dragons but the game is far too scared to just let people play dragons. This leaves us with dragonborn, dwarf, eladrin, elf, half-elf, halfling, human, and tiefling. Each gets a 2-page spread where half of one page is dedicated to the game stats and racial power, and the other page is dedicated to a paragraph of fluff and some sample characters. Couldn't they have spared 4 pages for the gnome and the half-orc?

(The answer is no, because they were saving those to get you to buy the PHB2).

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Libertad! posted:

NS2: Beyond the Wailing Mountains

What I Changed:

I really appreciate these bits of your write-ups, because it's a useful insight into the practical realities of running a module with human players actually poking and prodding against it.

(and especially that bit about the Ice Trolls, yeesh)

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


Skellybones posted:

The Martian tribe of superintelligent mantis shrimps in the bodies of cyborg prostitutes seems exactly like the sort of thing you'll find in the dystopian future. The only way it could be better is if it weren't a mad AI experiment, but a hypercorp's viral marketing gimmick that went too far.

In X-Risks, one of the last books for EP 1E, we got a picture of them



I know it's a pod, so it's supposed to look like someone threw it together from a bunch of parts. But it really look like someone threw this together from a bunch of photoshop assets. I think it's the gun and the weird positioning of the leg.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



4e Player's Handbook: A Critical Review continued

Chapter 4: Classes

The real meat of the book starts here. We've got 8 classes - Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord, and Wizard. Compare this to the 11 classes in the 3.5 PHB and it looks a bit lacking, even if we cut the sorcerer for being a redundant piece of poo poo. Notably, the bard, barbarian, monk and druid aren't in this book despite being mainstays of many adventuring parties (again - 1 year later, PHB2, $50. Except the monk which was in PHB3 because that class is the abused stepchild of D&D).

New with this book are paragon paths and epic destinies, which are an adaptation of 3.5's prestige class system. Now, the prestige class system in 3.5 was awful. You needed to plan your character's growth to take a prestige class at a certain point, and this either resulted in a free pile of dope powers (if you were a mage in the right class) or pointless gimping and trap options (pretty much all warrior prestige classes not called Frenzied Berserker). 4e takes the approach of just giving people a prestige option at 11 and a prestige option at 21...to mixed results. In 3.5 there was about a 50-50 chance your prestige class would change the way your character played (though the most powerful and commonly used were just your class++). In 4e it's just something you staple on for extra power. Your fighter's a pit fighter now, that gives him...a +`1 AC bonus, bonus damage when using an action point, adding your wisdom to weapon damage, a 2-attack encounter power that dazes. a revenge attack bonus that can be used 1/day, and a daily that's great at hitting wounded dudes. If this all sounds like something a heroic tier or level 1 guy could do...you're not wrong. Even the ultimate powers of the epic destinies, aside from everyone getting a cheat death 1/day, is poo poo like minor hitpoint regeneration. It's all rather disappointing.

This provides an excellent opportunity to delve into 4e and the class power system. Everyone in 4e gets the same resource-management schedule, with daily, encounter, and at-will powers appearing at various levels and utility powers siloed into their own weird schedule to prevent people from deciding whether they needed to prepare battle spells or utility spells. As much as I deride this book, I'm actually A-OK with everyone getting powers on the same schedule, it's the implementation that fails here. A lot of people like to scream about "weeaboo fighters" and "sameness" but fighters needed some options aside from autoattacking, and Wizards of the Coast quite frankly struggled with multiple casting systems in 3.5.

The system falls apart first when we look at the powers, and later when we look at them with the class's ability scores.

The powers themselves are unfortunately mostly boring and repetitive. Let's look at the fighter. They have a first level daily power called Brute Strike, it hits for 3 times your weapon damage. One of the level 29 daily powers, which is supposed to be a pinnacle of your class very few people master? Same thing, but 7 times your weapon damage instead of 3. There's no upgrade mechanism to these things, which leads to several powers being redundant upgrades. A lot of the powers are thematically similar - the fighter gets a LOT of "make two attacks and do a minor thing" which really makes you wonder why you couldn't have an upgrade system and some conceptually new powers? Sure, in older editions of D&D you were supposed to swap out your fireball spell every few levels for an upgrade with a higher dice cap, but you're slaughtering tons of sacred cows already! You've only got 4 powers per level thanks to your giant-rear end power format, can you please give people actual options instead of swapping out the low power buff laser for a laser with the same buff that does more damage? The power level of anything not damage swings wildly between levels - sleep, the first level wizard daily, is arguably the best spell in the game because it incapacitates dudes in an area and hands out free critical hits. The 5th-level dailies up from that inflict strictly worse conditions or low AoE damage. It's kind of amazing really.

This also fails to mention that a lot of the power list grants you the illusion of choice or heavily pushes you toward one power or another. All the classes have two builds given by the designers, and they range from "suggested powers anyone can take" to "running off a different primary stat entirely". The wizard is a giant nerd whose powers all run off Intelligence. The Fighter has a weird choice to make where they can either grab Dexterity, Constitution, or Wisdom as a secondary stat (remember Pit Fighter?) but a lot of the powers also get bonuses based on the weapon you're using. Want to be a fighter with a bow? Go gently caress yourself! Want to be a two-weapon fighter? That's in Martial Power! Now, the next thing that everyone is going to point out is that the ranger gets both bows and two-weapon fighting. This is true, and you can play a bow ranger for your archery needs - but the point is that every build needs a ton of powers to support it, and none of those classes can share powers. There is noshared martial power list for ranger and fighter to grab "do two attacks this round" despite them each having a ton of powers that basically do that. This wouldn't particularly even need to hurt role protection. The ranger is a DPS and gets class features that bump his damage, the fighter is a tank and has class features that aggro. We could maybe even extend this to the warlord and give the warlord a class feature that restores other people's HP when he stabs them or something. The end result would be to cut some space and maybe the developers could have included the cut classes. It would have gone a long way toward not leaving fans furious. The alternative would be to actually include more than 2 powers at each level that a given character can select, but how does that sell books?

Another huge problem you can see in the class chapter is that - despite 4e's marketing rhetoric - the classes aren't balanced at all. The bow ranger and the warlock are both ranged strikers. They even have the same class features under different names. The bow ranger gets an at-will power that does two attacks - allowing it to add most of its damage bonuses twice per turn - while picking up encounter powers that let it attack when it's not its turn. The warlock gets no off-turn attacks and its at-wills are all just single target blasts. Even the base damage is worse - the warlock's spells are all locked to a single die ahead of time, while the ranger can change the damage of its attacks by picking up a weapon with a different damage die. The nail in the coffin is that the warlock is somehow expected to balance constitution AND charisma as attack stats while having intelligence for rider effects. This is not going to happen, and the end result is that the warlock is hard-capped out of half their powers, unless they were stupid enough to play a star pact warlock where the powers alternate between Con and Cha. Keeping two attack stats high is difficult, keeping two attack stats and Intelligence high is a goddamn nightmare. The pact was overhauled in errata 1 or 2 years into the lifetime of the edition and virtually every power was rewritten to use either attack stat, but the class is a fairly obvious nightmare even without delving too deep into it. Heck, the known broken classes didn't even get nerfed that much. Muchwas made in the launch of 4e how wizards were totally OP bonkers nuts in battle. A 7th level 3e necromancer can totally lock down an encounter while commanding an undead hydra that has better defenses and damage output than most party fighters. It was hilariously broken and rightfully pissed a lot of people off. Come 4e...and that same wizard lost the hydra, but can use the orb of imposition to nullify the balance checks on save-or-die spells and instantly end a fight by putting everyone to sleep. Sure, you lost the hydra, but both wizards can hold people powerless long enough that you can stab them to death with a toothpick. Future books only empowered the lockdown wizard to the point where the original issue wasn't actually fixed at all. It's amazing.

The last thing is that 4e is absolutely terrified of giving players any form of narrative control. This deserves some explanation. Back in the leadup to 4th edition, there were countless forum posts screaming about how wizards having unlocking lock spells totally pooped all over rogues, who had to roll dice to open a lock, or how wizard flight magic made the climb spell useless when people were legendary heroes. Clerics were ruining
mystery plots with speak with dead, or the mythical teleport ambush killing guys on the toilet, or....

This isn't to say that 3.X didn't have busted spellcasters, because it did. Shapechanging magic was an absolute disaster, mind control was extremely powerful, most travel problems could be solved by diving through the spell list, and if you took the time to combine splatbooks you could put together mages who were literally immune to everything the game could throw at them. Now, non-mages did have some advantages such as diplomacy being more powerful than any mind-control magic save mind-rape and nonmagical stealth being better than invisibility in some ways(can't be true sighted) but the end result was that while you could build a fairly useful rogue fighters just kinda sat around looking dumb when they didn't have to sword things. There was a lot of talk about how fighters should be able to perform mythical feats a la Hercules and the Augean stables, or Beowulf arbitrarily deciding he could breathe underwater OK, or that knight in L'Morte d' Arthur who could just turn invisible. The announcement that every class would be getting special utility powers made people excited for amazing feats of strength and skill.

Naturally, 4e hosed it up. The vast majority of utility powers are in combat repositioning or combat buffs. The actual utility powers that can be used out of combat go to...wait for it...the cleric and the wizard, the two classes everyone complained about having too much utility out of combat. The wizard can fly and turn invisible, leading to more complaints about the mean old mage making climbing skills seem dumb and useless. The cleric gets a pimp car that lets him fly all day and bring 4 dudes with him. The rogue gets...to turn invisible one turn if he takes the right paragon class. The warlock gets a messenger imp, flight, and invisibilty. Almost everything else power-wise is for fighting, healing, or repositioning. Heck, they had to errata the book to let you target objects! This philosophy permeates later books, to the point where the familiar rules specify your familar can't interact with objects at all. We will get to the big out of combat systems, but rest assured they do not work and one of them heavily favors wizards and clerics.

In short, we can really start seeing where a lot of the initial promises and design goals were broken and not met in this chapter, and it just gets worse as the book goes on.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



oriongates posted:

It was most impressive. I feel really, really dumb for not catching on once the skill list was posted. A separate swimming skill for freshwater and saltwater should have been a dead giveway...but nope somehow I felt it was something that might have been done. Heck, that was the only bit that got me even a bit incredulous...even the ridiculous climb modifiers didn't flag as unbelievable.

EDIT: And I'm not sure how many people were in on this, but everyone piping up over the weird stuff about the author or game's history did a great job of selling the prank. Thanks for those who twigged to the prank early and played along to sell it.

I dunno about the others, I was warned in advance a while ago. Decided to wait to chime in til he was mostly through posting and other people called out the show because we have an April Fool's rep.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



theironjef posted:

I dunno about the others, I was warned in advance a while ago. Decided to wait to chime in til he was mostly through posting and other people called out the show because we have an April Fool's rep.

I wasn't paying that much attention to Eldoru, but I did think your post sounded uncharacteristically full of sour grapes.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Angrymog posted:

I wasn't paying that much attention to Eldoru, but I did think your post sounded uncharacteristically full of sour grapes.

drat, undone by my usual cheerful demeanor.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

The thing about the Lusus Naturae monsters is that most of the extreme edge and GM gently caress-yous are completely tacked on. The edge is so artificial, it's obvious that it's only there for shock factor. That knocks out any impact it might have had.

Like, take the Adversary for example. There's no tie-in with the beast-spawn thing. It just feels like a weird random detail, and it's unclear how the players are supposed to know about it. Maybe they end up fighting some sort of weird ape-man, but there's nothing to suggest it's related to the main monster. It would just feel like a random encounter. Likewise, the cult doesn't really seem to have anything to do with the monster. It's just a random "Hah, here's something hosed up to happen to the players to show how grim and gritty this setting is!"

GM gently caress-yous are always pretty lovely, because they reek of the writer or the GM trying to pull a fast one or show how much smarter they are than the players. But because of the power imbalance, it never really is. A GM can simply declare "rocks fall, everyone dies." There's nothing clever there. Clever design gives players lots of ways to get around bad poo poo, or at least to play to it. If bad poo poo does happen, it should be because the players took a risk, or because it opens up the floor for them to do something cool (or funny, depending on the game's tone) in response. But it takes forethought to actually come up with those situations, to think it through beyond "Okay, this will really hurt the players" to "Okay, this will lead to memorable game moments my players will want to share and remember later on."

This one is especially egregious because it punishes players for doing what the game is ostensibly wanting them to do. "You defeated the monster. gently caress you!"

The edge feels tacked on, and it undermines anything actually cool or clever going on with the monster. It's edge for the sake of edge. It doesn't come from the story, it's obvious that it's the GM or the designer coming up with the edgiest poo poo they can, and that takes you right out of the fiction.

A better designed monster has all of its elements feel thematic. Even things that aren't directly related should feel that they flow from the same basic idea. Any "gently caress-yous" should come from choices the players made, with plenty of chances to avoid them, and then plenty of cool things for them to go to afterwards. Any darker bits should feel natural to the monster and to the setting. It shouldn't feel gratuitous, it should feel like a natural, inevitable consequence of that monster.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


I was reading the Lusus Naturae stuff and thinking 'I should review the Teratic Tome at the same time, since it's the same sort of thing' and then I discovered it's by the same guy but two years earlier. Although it's got its share of dead children, body horror, and women=monsters -- which of course it does, because that's the OSR -- I think it's actually less grimdark and edgy.

But I've got more than enough to do right now. Maybe another time.

E: gently caress it. I'll do it. Give me a couple of days.

potatocubed fucked around with this message at 15:06 on Apr 3, 2018

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


TheGreatEvilKing posted:

4e Player's Handbook: A Critical Review continued

Chapter 4: Classes

The real meat of the book starts here. We've got 8 classes - Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord, and Wizard. Compare this to the 11 classes in the 3.5 PHB and it looks a bit lacking, even if we cut the sorcerer for being a redundant piece of poo poo. Notably, the bard, barbarian, monk and druid aren't in this book despite being mainstays of many adventuring parties (again - 1 year later, PHB2, $50. Except the monk which was in PHB3 because that class is the abused stepchild of D&D).

Personally I was glad that they cut the number of base classes hugely, and extremely disappointed that they then re-added all the cut classes, and more. I already felt like 3rd ed had insufferable class bloat to start with.

Also I think one of the things that personally turned me off 4th ed D&D was how awful the low-level stuff was. Like, yeah, I've got cool AT WILLS and DAILIES and PER ENCOUNTER powers... except since we're still running off a loving D20 odds are that I'll deploy my huge, rarely-usable powers and they'll just... poof, miss. And I'll be stuck battering away with At Will abilities... just like any other character who's doing their lame basic, generic "hit them with a weapon"-attack for the rest of the fight.

It felt like it didn't so much address the issue of "fights can only autoattack in combat" as much as it spread the misery around.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

theironjef posted:

drat, undone by my usual cheerful demeanor.

If it makes you feel any better, my wife still swears that thereís an ALF movie that she saw as a kid *somewhere*.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 10: Introduction to the Dungeon Masters Guide and Dungeon Mastering (Part 1)

So here we are, back to the introduction. The DMG's introduction is much the same as that of the PHB, in that it tells you what each chapter contains and gives advice on multiplication and rounding. Specifically, all fractions should be rounded down, and multiplication works a little weirdly. Basically, if you have more than one multiplier, then instead of multiplying them together, you should subtract one from each multiplier after the first, then add them all together - for example, if something gets doubled twice, it should be multiplied by three, or if something is doubled and then tripled, it should be multiplied by four, rather than four and six respectively. It also gives a brief introduction to the job of being DM:

DMG Introduction posted:

You've read the Player's Handbook, digested the material inside it, and you're ready to take on a challenge beyond creating a character. You want to be the Dungeon Master (DM). Or, you've been running games for quite some time and know a lot about what you're doing. Either way, this book is going to present you with some surprises and unveil some secrets.

Let's start with the biggest secret of all: the key to Dungeon Mastering (don't tell anyone, OK?). The secret is that you're in charge. This is not the telling everybody what to do sort of in charge. Rather, you get to decide how your player group is going to play this game, when and where the adventures take place, and what happens. You get to decide how the rules work, which rules to use, and how strictly to adhere to them. That kind of in charge.

You're a member of a select group. Truly, not everybody has the creativity and the dedication to be a Dungeon Master. Dungeon Mastering (DMing) can be a challenge, but it's not a chore. You're the lucky one out of your circle of friends that plays the game. The real fun is in your hands. As you flip through the Monster Manual or look at published adventures on a store shelf, you get to decide what the player characters (PCs) take on next. You get to build a whole world, design all its characters, and play all the ones not directly controlled by the other players.

It's good to be the DM.

The DM defines the game. A good DM results in a good game. Since you control the pacing, the types of adventures and encounters, and the nonplayer characters (NPCs), the whole tenor of the game is in your hands. It's fun, but it's a big responsibility. If you're the sort of person who likes to provide fun for your friends, to create new things, or to come up with new ideas, then you're an ideal candidate for DM.

Once your group has a Dungeon Master, however, that doesn't mean you can't switch around. Some DMs like to take a turn at being a player, and many players eventually want to try their hand at DMing.

It's not a bad introduction to DMing, though I would argue that creativity is something that can be developed. Far as I'm concerned, all players are potential GMs. Once this is finished, the book goes on to a whole chapter on DMing for beginners. It doesn't have anything required for future reference, but instead contains a bunch of good advice for the general running of a game.

It begins by saying that the DM has a number of jobs within the game. They need to provide adventures, which can either be done by buying pre-written stuff or by creating your own (advice for which is given later in the book). With regard to pre-written adventures, it mentions that not only are you allowed to make changes to the adventure to better suit your game, but you'll probably need to, if only to allow it to fit into your campaign world if it was written for a different one.

The next listed job is teaching the game to new players. The book recommends having a good grounding in how character creation works so you can help them with that, and teaching them the most basic aspects of the rules (roll a d20, add modifiers, equal to or better than the DC is a success) and then teach them other parts of the game as they come up in play.

We also have providing the world - even if you're using a published setting, the world is still yours. It is more than simply a backdrop for adventures (though it is certainly that too); it is everything in the fictional world that is not the PCs and the plot. A well run world should make the players feel like their characters are a part of it, rather than apart from it. While the PCs are powerful and important, they should feel like part of a world that is ultimately larger than they are.

Advice given here includes to make sure there's plenty of consistency in your world - the same NPCs should be running the shops (unless there's a good reason otherwise) in the same places. Change can and should happen for the world to feel alive, but it should make sense.

The next job is that of determining the style of play. There are three major styles of play listed here. The first is Kick in the Door, where the world serves as merely a backdrop for the players to kill poo poo and take its stuff. In such a game, mechanical balance is incredibly important, because the vast majority of the time is going to be spent on combat. The advice it gives here is that people they're meant to kill should be clearly evil; people they're meant to help (or who might help them) should be clearly good, and you should try to get them back into the action as quickly as possible.

The second is Deep Immersion Storytelling, where everybody remains in character all the time, combat should only ever happen for in character reasons (and as such should be rare), and you might go for multiple sessions without a single d20 being rolled. Here, it suggests that it might even be worth streamlining the game's combat system so that fights can be gotten over with quickly. I like this - even this early in the book, it's giving explicit permission to change the rules when doing so will make for a better game.

The third (and most common) is somewhere in between the two. The book advises that a good mix of role playing opportunities and combat encounters will generally be the most fun for most players.

In addition to these styles of play, the book also mentions that you should also have some idea of how serious or humourous your game should be, any naming conventions in place and whether or not players are allowed to play multiple characters. It suggests that each player should only play one character, but allowing them to play two each might be useful for groups of fewer than four players.

The next job is adjudication; basically, making rules calls where the rules exist for a thing, or making rulings where rules don't. In the latter case, it says you ought to keep note of what the ruling was, so that you can keep things consistent should something similar happen again.

After that we have moving the game forward. Essentially, this boils down to keeping things moving, but also includes suggestions about maybe using props and music to set the mood. It also says that a little bit of physical acting can be useful here, such as miming giving a thing to a player when an NPC is giving something to their PC, but that it shouldn't be allowed to get out of hand.

Next, we have keeping the game balanced. On balance, the book has this to say:

Keeping Game Balance posted:

A lot of people talk about game balance. They refer to the rules they like as "balanced", and the rules that don't seem to work as "unbalanced". But what does that really mean? All game balance does is to ensure that that most character choices are relatively equal. A balanced game is one in which one character doesn't dominate over the rest because of a mechanical choice he or she made. It also reflects that the characters aren't too powerful for the threats they face, yet neither are they hopelessly overmatched.

The book mentions two main ways in which balance is kept in a game of D&D: firstly, we have DM management. This refers to ensuring that challenges are appropriate to your party, giving all the PCs a chance to shine and, in aggregate, rewarding the the party equally for their efforts. In addition, the challenges should neither be too hard (resulting in a killer dungeon) nor too easy (resulting in a Monty Haul). The second main way is for the players to be able to trust that the DM will run the game fairly, will give adequate consideration to anything they include in the game, and will generally not be an rear end in a top hat.

It then moves on to mention two different ways of solving potential problems if a PC has somehow become much more powerful than the rest of the party - dealing with it in game by having whatever it was be stolen (presumably to be regained at a more appropriate level, if at all), or dealing with it out of game by talking to your players like a loving adult. It presents both options as equally valid, since some players might not be receptive to being spoken to like an adult, but I think it's obvious where my preference lies. In particular, it notes that one potential problem with dealing with the problem out of game is that if this fails, any attempt to deal with it in game will be obvious. Honestly, far as I'm concerned, if the problem can't be solved by talking to the player like an adult, then there's a bigger problem at the table than just game balance.

The next job mentioned is changing the rules. Yeah, that's right, front and centre, not only does the game tell you that you can change the rules, it tells you that you're expected to. That said, it points out that the rules as written were written the way they were for a reason, and changing those rules should only be done after a lot of thought. In particular, the following questions are given for you to ask yourself:

DMG posted:

  • Why am I changing this rule?
  • Am I clear on how the rule I'm going to change really works?
  • Have I considered why the rule existed as it did in the first place?
  • How will the change impact other rules or situations?
  • Will the change favour one race, class, feat, etc. more than the others?
  • Overall, is this change going to make more players happy or unhappy? (If the answer is happy, make sure the change isn't unbalancing. If the answer is unhappy, make sure the change is worth it.)

I don't think I've ever actually seen better advice on changing the rules of the game you're playing than is given here. It also adds that players might want to help with redesigning certain rules, and that that's perfectly fine, but the DM should make sure that their ideas aren't (intentionally or not) game breaking. The only advice I would add to this is that the DM should discuss this with the rest of the group, to make sure everyone is fine with changing things - it is, after all, their game as well.

It adds a couple of extra questions for making additions to the game (such as a new feat or spell) - "Is everybody going to want it?" and "Is it too limited?". If the answer to the first is yes, it's probably too powerful; if the answer to the second is yes, it's probably not powerful enough. Finally, it points out that mistakes can and will be made, and they should be dealt with as before; either in game or out of game.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 11: Introduction to the Dungeon Masters Guide and Dungeon Mastering (Part 2)

The biggest section in the chapter is dedicated to running a game session - which makes sense, since that's what a DM will usually spend most of their time doing. The first thing is says is that as DM, it is your responsibility to know your players well enough to know that they'll be able to get along with each other at the table. Beyond that, it suggests establishing table rules, such as who is responsible for snacks, what to do about absent players, what to do with dice (if it lands on the floor, for example, and where it may be rolled in the first place), what books may be referenced at the table and so on. Some suggestions here include only allowing the players access to the PHB at the table and not discussing rules in general during the session itself.

It also gives advice about dealing with problems at the table, such as when players start arguing over loot, or if you have an obnoxious player who ruins everyone else's fun (the advice here being to kick the bastard out of the group, because you shouldn't play D&D with people you wouldn't hang out with in other situations). It also mentions that, again, all of the PCs need time in the spotlight, and that if you have a player who's always telling the other players what they ought to be doing, you need to have a chat with them outside of the game about their behaviour.

Next, it says that you should try to discourage metagame thinking by subverting expectations on occasion, but at the same time you should encourage in game logic (for example, if the players are saying that there must be a lever somewhere to disable a trap because the DM wouldn't put a trap in that couldn't be disabled, then perhaps there is a lever, but it's rusted in place; while if the players are saying that there must be a lever somewhere because the inhabitants wouldn't have placed a trap that they couldn't get past themselves, perhaps the lever will actually work).

It is also your job to know your PCs - you should have some idea of their basic capabilities, because this will help you to design engaging encounters; you should know what kind of stuff they like and dislike, so that you're not introducing content that they're going to be bored by, and you should keep track of what's going on in the game so that you aren't going to be taken by surprise. In particular, your adventure design should take the players' plans into account - if they want to go and visit the Wizard's old master in the mountains, then you're going to have to allow for that rather than simply trying to force the PCs to do what you want.

Around here, there's a side bar about other things you might want to consider - whether or not you want to use minis (or counters or just about anything else for the tactical aspect of using minis without needing to actually buy minis), a DM screen to both hide your notes and provide easy reference material, a computer for having your notes in electronic format. These are interesting things for the new DM to consider, but obviously not important enough to get main rulebook space.

Obviously, preparation is important (though the form that the prep might take varies) - for published adventures, you might only need to note down relevant rulebook pages for certain NPC abilities, what the monsters might do prior to the fight starting (if anything), any changes that you need to make to the adventure in general, and reminders of consequences of certain actions. For your own adventures, it also adds things like maps of the local area (only as detailed as you want them to be), a key to said maps, NPC stats where relevant and any other notes you might find helpful. It does not say that all of these things must be prepared in advance, but that it might be helpful for some of it to be. There are things I would prepare in advance that aren't mentioned here, such as random encounter tables, but at the same time there are things I wouldn't prepare in advance, like plot (I much prefer situations, NPCs and aids to improvisation).

Naturally, you need to know the rules. That doesn't mean that you need to be intimiately familiar with every aspect, but it does mean that you need to know the basics and have a good idea of where to look so that looking up rules takes a minimal amount of time. It also mentions that if a player remembers the rules a little better than you do, but they're respectful about it, by all means thank them for their help (though obviously don't let them be a jackass about it).

For setting the stage, the book talks about three things: recapping the previous session, descriptions, and mapping. For recapping the previous session, it gives a decent example (quoted below), before explaining why a recap is useful - basically, that it can be frustrating both to the players and to the GM when the players can't actually recall what they were doing previously. This also means that you need to keep some notes of what happened previously. Under describing, it mentions that mood and emotion are as important as what they can see and hear. If the players ask a question, you should answer it; if they might not know the answer, ask how they intend to go about finding out. Also, it says that you should avoid leading questions - instead of "Do you look in the alcove?", "Where do you look?" is a much better alternative. Some of this stuff is fairly obvious to us, but as a guide to a complete beginner it's good advice to have available. Under mapping, it says that you should basically provide all the details the player asks for (though you should be willing to make an exception where this makes sense, such as when the party are running through unexplored passages or are exploring a maze - in the latter case, since potentially getting lost is part of the challenge, it makes very little sense to go out of your way to aid mapping.

A DM's job also includes setting the pace of play. As little time as possible should be spent on looking up rules - if you can't remember it perfectly and can't find it, then make a ruling and move on. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions. If the players seem bored, ask if they'd like to skip ahead or to pick up the pace. Ask them what their goals are (short and long term) for future preparation. Given that some players like to keep their PCs' goals secret from the other players, maybe ask them this outside of play. Finally, when you finish up a lengthy session, consider taking a break for people to go to the toilet, get a drink/snack or do whatever.

Next up, we have providing the action. For handling PC actions, it says to give them the answer to what happens as soon as possible after they tell you what they're doing. If it's not covered by existing rules, then extrapolate from something that is, make a ruling that makes sense, and move on. Encourage players to make decisions quickly during combat - each round lasts only 6 seconds, so while spending 30-60 seconds deciding what to do when you're not as familiar with your abilities as your character would be is fine, spending five to ten minutes just slows the game down. Finally, the player controls their own character. This means that you don't take actions for them (unless they're being magically compelled), you don't tell them how they feel (unless magic is involved), and high Charisma is not mind control. NPC actions should run on the same rules as PC actions, but the DM should be even quicker to decide what those actions are in order to keep things moving.

Around this point, we get another side bar - this time on DM tricks and tips using a notepad. It suggests drawing out a quick combat matrix with characters in initiative order down the side and turn order across the top. That way you can mark down when effects end and easily keep track of whose turn it is. It also suggests having a sheet of 20 random NPC names for when the players inevitably ask who the as yet unnamed NPC is, a more or less random flow chart diagram for use as an impromptu map, and a list of random magical items, spells and monsters that haven't been in the game recently as aids for improvisation. Finally, it suggests having a blank sheet of paper available just for taking notes.

For determining the results of actions, the first piece of advice given is that sometimes it doesn't make sense for a player to know how well they rolled - while the player should roll their dice in the vast majority of cases, sometimes skills such as bluff, diplomacy, sense motive, spot, listen, search, hide, move silently and rope use should be rolled in secret by the GM to avoid having the Rogue know that the reason they didn't find any traps might be that they rolled a 1 on the d20, rather than an actual lack of traps. Next, it says that you shouldn't tell the players the DC or AC for any given roll; it's up to the players to keep track of that stuff.

It also goes into the subject of fudging rolls. What it has to say on the matter is that ultimately, the DM can't cheat, since the DM is the referee. On the other hand, the DM might feel that both they and the players need to take the good with the bad when it comes to die rolls, and so roll everything in the open. What it also says is that even if you do fudge occasionally, make damned certain your players don't know it. If the players know you'll fudge the dice on their behalf sometimes, it drains most fights of any tension.

Ultimately, the dice might decree that one character's adventure ends a little sooner than planned for whatever reason. Let players be upset about this, but remind them that while bad things do happen, setbacks can also lead to new opportunities. If your character is dead, maybe there's another character concept you've been wanting to play for a while. Even a TPK doesn't need to mean that the campaign is over - maybe the party are raised from the dead, only to owe someone a big favour in exchange for all those diamonds, or maybe you just start with a brand new party in the same world - whoever the big bad was, they're still working towards their own goals, meaning that now a new band of heroes must put a stop to it. Whatever you decide, don't try to trivialise loss - if you retcon things like character death or level loss for one player, the others will expect it too, and this will drain dangerous encounters of their tension.

The chapter ends on ending the session. It largely gives common sense advice like not ending the session mid-fight and making sure there's a good way to work in any characters who were missing from the session next time. Finally, it mentions how you may wish to award XP at the end of the session, or you may wish to wait until the end of the adventure.

The final side bar is a session checklist that I'll quote below:

DMG posted:

  1. Set up the play area. Even if the game's not occurring at your house, you should set things up so that you're happy with where you're sitting. You need to have enough room for your notes and books and so forth. Make sure everybody can see and hear you.
  2. Make sure everyone is familiar (or refamiliarised) with his or her character and the current situation.
  3. Get a volunteer to keep a map/take notes.
  4. Determine the marching order of the characters - in general, where they will be in relation to each other during the adventure, so it's always clear who is where. This information can be written down or displayed with miniatures or counters.
  5. Describe the initial scene.
  6. Ask the players what their characters do.
  7. Run through all the events and encounters of the adventure (or that session's portion of the adventure), taking a few breaks as needed.
  8. Bring things to a good stopping point or a suitable cliff hanger.
  9. End the session.
  10. Ask the players what they plan to do next time.
  11. Award XP.

This chapter is, quite honestly, probably the best beginners' guide to GMing of its time. Where many games just give you a single chapter on everything that a GM might need to do with a game, this chapter is focused entirely on beginners' material. Perhaps if I'd actually read this chapter (beyond where it says fudging is OK), my very first game wouldn't have been nearly so loving terrible.

hectorgrey fucked around with this message at 11:41 on Apr 3, 2018

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




PurpleXVI posted:

Personally I was glad that they cut the number of base classes hugely, and extremely disappointed that they then re-added all the cut classes, and more. I already felt like 3rd ed had insufferable class bloat to start with.

Also I think one of the things that personally turned me off 4th ed D&D was how awful the low-level stuff was. Like, yeah, I've got cool AT WILLS and DAILIES and PER ENCOUNTER powers... except since we're still running off a loving D20 odds are that I'll deploy my huge, rarely-usable powers and they'll just... poof, miss. And I'll be stuck battering away with At Will abilities... just like any other character who's doing their lame basic, generic "hit them with a weapon"-attack for the rest of the fight.

It felt like it didn't so much address the issue of "fights can only autoattack in combat" as much as it spread the misery around.

Kind of the point is you should be using tactics, abilities and above all teamwork to put yourself into the best position to be using those abilities. I keep hearing 'I use all my dailies then I use all my encounters then I use at-wills over and over, this game is boring' and like, that's the absolute worst way to play the game.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

There is a stunning amount of practical and good and cool advice for DMs in the 3e DMG (of either revision, and even more in the DMG2).

If only people actually read it!

hectorgrey posted:

Around this point, we get another side bar - this time on DM tricks and tips using a notepad. It suggests drawing out a quick combat matrix with characters in initiative order down the side and turn order across the top. That way you can mark down when effects end and easily keep track of whose turn it is.

This one in particular I adapted when I read it, and have been using it ever since. And I specifically had to see it in the 3.0 DMG, as this isn't in the 3.5 revision.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Inescapable Duck posted:

Kind of the point is you should be using tactics, abilities and above all teamwork to put yourself into the best position to be using those abilities. I keep hearing 'I use all my dailies then I use all my encounters then I use at-wills over and over, this game is boring' and like, that's the absolute worst way to play the game.
Yeah I'm generally sour on this talking point.

For one thing, "I'll use my best move, until I can't anymore, and then I'll use my next-best move" is ... like ... how any game is played. If you build a Trip Fighter in 3e, no poo poo you're going to want to trip everything you come across until you fight something that you can't. And when you can't, you then switch to whatever else you've got.

And further, it sort of flattens the combat dynamics to assuming that there's always only just the one "best" ability to use anyway.

I mean sure, if you look at this level 1 power:


And you compare it to this level 29 power:


then you might conclude that "it's all the same!", but that disregards these two other level 1 powers:


And these two other level 29 powers:



If you want to make a Fighter whose whole power selection is "HIT MAN WITH SWORD", you can absolutely do that, but I think it's disingenuous to ignore the other options available to you and then claim that the game is therefore simplistic or samey.

EDIT: to PurpleXVI's point, I'd also like to remark that Brute Strike and No Mercy are Reliable powers, meaning they come back if you miss - so besides taking them purely for raw damage purposes, one might also take them to avoid this nagging feeling of "wasted" turns by loading up with a bunch of powers that keep coming back until they hit. You give up utility elsewhere, but then that's the point of having options and trade-offs!

And to drive the point home further, just look at the At-Will abilities themselves:




If you want to interact with the game at only the most basic level, then yeah, you might consider that it all just comes down to Reaping Strike and nothing else, but you've got Cleave for Minions, Sure Strike to ... ensure a hit when it counts, and most importantly Tide of Iron to either take advantage of positioning set-ups for the rest of the party, or to exploit dangerous terrain on the battlefield.

If we grant that what is the "best" ability actually changes from round-to-round depending on the overall tactical situation, then the game couldn't be boiled down to a rote order of power use.

gradenko_2000 fucked around with this message at 12:56 on Apr 3, 2018

Desiden
Mar 13, 2016

Mindless self indulgence is SRS BIZNS


In addition to being a fun april fool's F&F, the Eldoru talk of USEnet rants made the name of one of the old trolls from that era pop into my head for the first time in like, 20 years (Mark Kamikaze Hughes, for those who remember). So out of curiosity of his life after getting banned, like, everywhere in the 2000s I googled him and found a hilariously lovely site where he's trying to sell even more hilariously lovely app games that would have been bad even when the first iPhone came out.

So basically, I got two hits of grog amusement out of this. Kudos.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Scion: Hero
How To Be A Hero

So, making a Hero is identical to making an Origin-Tier character, but with the following modifications:
  • Heroes get 3 Callings, not 1, and have 5 dots to spread between them. They must all have at least one dot.
  • Heroes get one Knack per Calling dot, which can be spent on a Calling Knack for that Calling or Generic Knack. Immortal Knacks, which are more powerful, take two spends and take up two Knack slots.
  • Heroes get one Innate Purview off their parent's list, and their Pantheon's Signature Purview.
  • Heroes get seven dots of Birthrights; more on those in a bit.
  • Heroes get two Boons, selected from among their Purviews.
  • Heroes have a Legend of 1 and a Virtue track, which they start at the center of.

Non-Scion mythical creatures on the Hero tier get somewhat lesser benefits. They get Calling dots as above, though one of their Callings must be their creature type - so instead of Healer, Lover and Judge, a Kitsune would have Healer, Lover, Kitsune, maybe. They then get Legend 1. Then, they must select one of the following:
  • A single Purview they access innately and one Boon in that Purview.
  • Four dots of Birthrights
  • A single area in which their actions are treated as +1 Scale higher than they normally would be.

So I'd suggest, if you plan to be a mythical being, be one that is a Scion. You get the benefits of being able to take their creature type as a Calling and all that, but get the better package of benefits.

Legend is both your power stat and the name for your power points. Your Legend is a measure of your mythic weight, the power of the Mantle that is growing around you and your Deeds. As your Legend grows, you get more access to Boons and Knacks. You also become more famous, but the connection is purely one way: fame does not grant Legend. Legend grants fame. Your Legend pool has points equal to your Legend rating. Most powers require you to Imbue Legend - temporarily spend a point of it to power the Boon, then get it back when you're done. More powerful abilities require you to spend Legend instead, reducing your pool until you can regain Legend. Legend runs from 1 to 12. 1-4 is the Hero level. 5-8 is Demigod. 9-12 is God, but most gods have Legend 9. Those with more diverse Purviews might be 10. Legend 11 is typically for the most important gods of a pantheon - the God of War, the God of the Harvest - while 12 is exclusively for only the top three or four mightiest of the gods in a pantheon.

As you go up in Legend, you gain new abilities. At Legend 1, you have your 2 Boons and known among your local cults and neighborhoods. At Legend 2, you get another Boon and a new dot to spend on one of your Callings. Your name is known and spoken among your chosen people and a fe wothers. At Legend 3, another boon, +1 Enhancement when dealing with the Attitude of your pantheon's worshippers, and you gain an omen, a cosmetic supernatural effect that shows whenever you imbue or spend Legend, such as flaming eyes or a shining halo or a flock of ravens. Your omen has no direct mechanical effects but can make for a good reason to use some Stunts. Your deeds are often spoken of and emulated. At Legend 4, you get another Boon and another Calling dot, and you're famous. You probably have a Wikipedia page or show up on magazine covers, your religion knows exactly who you are - you've got cultural weight and are changing the World.

Legend cannot be raised by XP. Instead, your sheet has three boxes, one for Short-Term Deed, one for Long-Term Deed and one for Band-Term Deed. When you complete one of the appropriate type of Deed, you fill in a box. Once all three are filled, you go up 1 Legend and erase them. However, the Band box cannot be filled again until everyone else in the party has gone up a Legend, too. When you increase your Legend, you may respec all your Boon choices.

How do you regain spent Legend? There's two main ways: Sacrifice and Fatebinding. When you accept a Fatebinding, you regain 1 Legend. Typically this can only be done once per scene. Sacrifice, well, that's more complicated. Typically, it means taking a scene and performing a ritual offering to your pantheon or divine parent in a holy place or shrine appropriate to them and in accordance with your pantheon's motif. Once the sacrifice is completed, you regain 1 Legend. If your pool was already full, you may immediately spend or imbue that point. Sacrifices are either major or minor. You can only make a minor sacrifice once per story arc. Typically, this is stuff you can get between scenes - garlands of flowers, expensive cigars, animal offal. Obviously, it needs to be something your god wants, too. A major sacrifice, on the other hand...you can make as many of those as you want, but they're costly. These tend to involve multiple scenes or entire sessions' worth of effort to gain, or may have consequences severe enough that even a Scion won't make them lightly. Human sacrifice is major, of course, but so is making a master-crafted effigy and burning it, or sacrificing the final cigar in a box that once belonged to the Incarnation of Eshu. Self-mutilation or scarification is typically a minor sacrifice and gives an Injury condition, but doesn't take much work to acquire.

Callings get some extra rules now that you have more of them. First: at Legend 3, 5, 7 and 9, you may rearrange your Calling dots as you please, as long as you leave at least one dot per keyword you've used in your Legendary Title in each of them, and at least one dot in each. (We'll talk about Titles in a bit.) Only one of your Callings has to match your parent. You can change Callings, but to do so, you must first commit a Failure Deed, a notable and important failure in pursuit of that Calling, and then an Adoption Deed for the new Calling you want instead, which will shift your dots from the old Calling to the new one. You can't do this if you already have dots in the Calling, and you must do both Deeds as part of the same arc.

So, your Legendary Title. This is a special Path that only Scions and similar beings have, and can be used just like any other Path, including making obviously supernatural Twists of Fate. It is composed of keywords. Each Calling has associated keywords, and you have one keyword per dot in each Calling. So you might have Warrior 2, Healer 2, Lover 1. Your keywords might then be Devoted (Lover), Renewal, Purifier (Healer), Bloody and Soldier (Warrior). You can also invent your own appropriate keywords, with the group's approval, if the lists for each Calling aren't to your liking. Your keywords represent your legendary focus within your Callings. For every dot of Legend you have or gain, you get one new Title that incorporates one of your Keywords. Your first Title, for Legend 1, is often related to your Visitation. So from our list, we might pick Bloody, and decide that we are famous for coming out of a house soaked in blood, rescuing a kid. So we are now 'The Bloody Rescuer'. Note that if you change a Calling as per above, you do not lost any old Titles you had, even though you change your keywords.

Whenever you do something that is covered by one of your Titles, you may spend 1 Legend to make that a Feat of Scale and increase your Scale for it by 1. You can do the same with actions that are covered by one of your Keywords but not a Title, but it costs 2 Momentum as well as 1 Legend.

Next time: Fatebinding

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


gradenko_2000 posted:

If we grant that what is the "best" ability actually changes from round-to-round depending on the overall tactical situation, then the game couldn't be boiled down to a rote order of power use.
The even bigger part of this is 4E is really built around the party as the basic unit. So if you're zoning out between turns and not staying engaged with the rest of players during each round, then yeah, it's going to be boring - and you're not going to do nearly as well.

Brute Strike is reliable so it's not a perfect example, but even then if you tell the party ahead of time "hey next turn I'm going to drop this daily on them," you can spend the round building up synergies. Throw some debuffs on the enemy to make them easier to hit, if someone has a re-roll power they hold onto it for your turn just in case, the striker sets up a flank for CA, the leader uses a power that grants damage bonuses to maximize how much you get out of the hit.

By far the most common thing I saw with groups who struggled with 4E combat was that they didn't work together. They didn't think about how the powers they had would affect each other's turns, didn't share their plans, didn't ask for advice. Once you get people to actually do that, then things take off.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


There's also leaders like cleric and Warlord that can grant actions. So if you blow something that lasts until your next turn it's 100-300% more effective if you've got a warlord giving you 3 extra MBAs in that time.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



That said, the d20 mechanic with most cool effects being hit riders really was not a good fit for what 4e was trying to do. I liked it a lot and lament that they didnít build on it rather than go in on grog appeasement for 5e, but notable successor Gloomhaven has only the damage portion of effects depend on the die roll, and it is a vast improvement.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Simian_Prime posted:

If it makes you feel any better, my wife still swears that thereís an ALF movie that she saw as a kid *somewhere*.

She's right, there is. Project ALF came out in 1996, and featured guests stars Ed Begley Jr, Ahmed Zappa, and more. 1996 by the way is five years after the show was cancelled. The movie had no members of the Tanner family in it, and was made on ABC instead of ALF's previous home NBC. We figured anyone checking for an ALF movie would find that title and posters and it'd inadvertantly lend some credibility to our gag.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

She's right, there is. Project ALF came out in 1996, and featured guests stars Ed Begley Jr, Ahmed Zappa, and more. 1996 by the way is five years after the show was cancelled. The movie had no members of the Tanner family in it, and was made on ABC instead of ALF's previous home NBC.

Given my dim memories of Project Alf mostly being those of regret and cold melancholy, I think I'd rather watch your Alf movie. It at least sounded "accidentally" funny.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Also I played a multi-year campaign as a warlord and my favorite ability that got used more than just about anything else, almost always first in every combat, was this thing:


I love that the D&D wiki immediately and helpfully notes for us that it's a bad power. Except if you're a Tactical Warlord built for Pushing then it turns into a Turn 1 "Throw our Paladin 11 squares across the battlefield before their turn begins so they can screw up enemy positioning plans" or "Chuck the Rogue into the enemy artillery" or "Push an enemy six squares into the fighter's reach and then let him mark them."

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





theironjef posted:

She's right, there is. Project ALF came out in 1996, and featured guests stars Ed Begley Jr, Ahmed Zappa, and more. 1996 by the way is five years after the show was cancelled. The movie had no members of the Tanner family in it, and was made on ABC instead of ALF's previous home NBC. We figured anyone checking for an ALF movie would find that title and posters and it'd inadvertantly lend some credibility to our gag.

Also I seem to recall a large part of it is ALF is being chased by the government, but it still tries to be a sitcom? Given the hellish conditions on the sitcom's set, I'm not shocked none of the other cast came back.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 12: Characters (Part 1)

So you know how in the Players Handbook, the default rolling method is 4d6, drop the lowest, assign as you wish? This chapter begins with a number of alternatives. The first alternative is to roll 4d6, drop the lowest, and assign in order. You may then reroll any one stat, and switch any two. This method of rolling gives less control than the default, but can result in slightly more powerful characters to compensate. Personally, I quite like this option - if I were going to run a game of D&D 3e, I'd be very tempted to use this for generating the first characters, with the player's option of either this method or the default for replacement characters (say, if a PC dies for example). The switch means that you can still play whatever class you wanted to play, but you're also likely to have a few unusual stats for that class.

The second method is roll 3d6, and assign as you wish. This generates average characters (where the usual assumption is that PCs should be slightly above average), but still gives a little leeway in terms of the kind of class you can play. That said, it's worth noting that given that your highest stat is likely to be a 13, the average Wizard is going to need either magical items or multiple wishes in order to access 8th and 9th level spells, which may help to reduce the imbalance between casters and non-casters. Two weapon fighting, meanwhile, isn't going to be appreciably better than using a single handed weapon until level 8 on average. A Fighter may need to choose between being able to take power attack, dodge or expertise, and on average most people are going to end up with with two ability penalties and two ability bonuses.

The third method is the classic 3d6 in order. I understand why people like this option, but frankly I much prefer the first option if you're going to have a random character. The above notes apply here too, with the addition of potential problems from a character ending up with ability combinations that don't really lend themselves to any of the classes.

The fourth method is is the exact opposite of the above: 5d6, drop the lowest two, assign as you wish. This will generally result in very powerful characters even at first level - the imbalance between casters and non-casters will be increased at higher levels, as the casters get even more bonus spells per day than they might have otherwise been likely to get. I'm not a huge fan of this method either; I find the default provides characters who are already enough above average for the most part.

The fifth method is essentially the default method, except you get to reroll the lowest die once. This is just a little bit more powerful than the default, but not massively - the better the stats you're rolling, the less likely it is to make a stat significantly better than it would have been. It is a good way to avoid ending up with a 6 though.

The sixth and seventh methods are essentially the same: point buy. The sixth method, standard point buy, gives you 25 points. This is roughly as good as the default rolling method, and with it you can purchase the average result of the default method (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8). The seventh method gives you a number of other point values, including 15 (which is roughly as good as the second alternative, and with it you can buy 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, the average of that method) and 32 (which I would imagine to be roughly the same as the fourth alternative).

The eighth method is to simply take the default array. I would probably not use this - instead, I'd be more likely to use standard point buy, and give this array as an example of what can be bought in order to save time.

Even given that there are some of these that I wouldn't use, I wouldn't tell anybody not to use any one of these alternatives to the default - I would simply make sure they'd thought through the potential consequences first. They each suit some games better than others. That said, the ones that are of roughly similar power level to the default are the main ones I'd suggest for people looking for alternatives that don't take much work.

Next up, we have races. While there's a decent selection in the PHB, someone is always going to want to play something a little different (one of the examples given is a cat person), so some advice on creating new races is given. Firstly, there is advice given on how to create subraces. There are no stats given, but there are suggestions for making subraces that are either focused more (or less) on magic, that live underground, that lean towards a different alignment, or that live in substantially different climates than the default races (including underwater).

The next possible change to races is to add limitations that weren't there before - for example, Dwarves and Halflings might only be able to become Fighters, Clerics or Rogues. The book then goes on to say that the explanation behind any changes here should make sense, and should be balanced by the race gaining something in exchange to make up for the reduction in flexibility.

Finally, it suggests changing races by either adding or removing features. It notes that this can be risky - removing dark vision from Dwarves is going to result in fewer people playing them, for example, while making Elves immune to death from old age would suggest the question "Why aren't Elves the dominant race rather than humans?", but it can add flavour to your campaign.

Next, we get advice on creating new races. The first part of this is given to adapting monsters to be played as PCs. Some monsters (such as Goblins and Kobolds) are easier than others - they can be given ability penalties and bonuses, and can be treated as any other race. Other races, such as ogres and gnolls, which have their own racial hit dice, are a little trickier. There are a couple of tables given here for generating stats based on the default stats of a given monster; it's a little more complex than using bonuses and penalties, but it allows for the bell curve to be maintained rather than having it be weighted towards the bottom end with penalties greater than -2.

Races with racial hit dice but few other special abilities have a minimum character level based on the number of hit dice they have. The more special abilities a race has, the higher this minimum level becomes. An ogre, for example, has a minimum level of 5. If you generate a fifth level Ogre, it has its racial hit dice as levels, and that is it. It has 10,000 XP, the amount of wealth you'd expect of a fifth level character, and other than having its abilities generated using either the default method or one of the ones listed above, it is otherwise basically identical to an ogre found in the Monster Manual. Once it reaches 15,000 XP, it gains its first level in a PC class, along with all that that entails.

The second part is creating new races in general. In general, you should use the races in the PHB as a guide. One thing of note, all abilities are not made equal. A bonus to Strength is not equal to a penalty to Intelligence or Charisma, for example - this is why the Half Orc gets a penalty to both. As such, there is a list of which stats ought to be penalised if a bonus is given to a different one - for Strength and Dexterity, a penalty in the other, Constitution, or any two of the mental abilities is roughly equivalent. For Constitution, a penalty to any other stat is fine. For the mental abilities, a penalty to any other mental ability will be reasonably balanced.

This section of the chapter ends with the idea that it might be worth considering halfbreeds other than half elves and half orcs to make races out of - and that it might be worth deciding that some of those halfbreeds might be infertile.

The next section is on Classes - modifying existing classes to better suit a character concept, NPC classes for the nameless nobodies the party will encounter on their adventures, and Prestige Classes that a PC might eventually qualify for (provided the DM chooses to include in their game). It begins with modifying existing classes by changing their class features around. The advice given here is that changes that simply make the class better should be avoided; instead, improvements should be balanced by drawbacks. For example, if you wanted to create a swashbuckling variant of the Rogue, you might give it the full BAB of the Fighter, but remove its ability to Sneak Attack. A slightly more extreme example is given of creating a Witch class by taking the Sorcerer and completely changing the spell list to include some minor healing, some illusions, plenty of charms, some nature magic, plenty of shapeshifting magic, some minor utility magic and absolutely nothing flashy (no lighting bolt or wall of fire here). It's a pretty cool example.

Around here we have a sidebar asking why we might want to mess around with the classes in the first place. It answers that while the classes in the PHB are very flexible and can fit seemlessly into most settings, some DMs might want something custom built to their own campaign setting. Likewise, a player might be interested in playing a certain class, but would like to change certain class features (remember the customisation bit in the PHB?). The example given here is of someone who wants to play a Ranger, but is only interested in hunting animals. On the other hand, the special mount from the Paladin looks pretty cool. A DM might consider that a fair swap. In general, it is worth making the effort to adapt a class to better suit the player wishing to play it; it makes the game more enjoyable for them, and it adds unique flavour to your game.

Finally, we get advice on how to create new classes - or rather, to modify a class already presented so radically as to be barely recognisable. The example given is to take the Ranger, but limit their weapon selection to that of the Rogue, only grant them one lot of Favoured Enemy (which must be used for Undead), grant them the Rogue's Sneak Attack, modified to work against (and only against) undead, modify their spell list so that it deals exclusively with undead and subterfuge, and at third level give them the Paladin's Smite Evil, only useable against undead. What you end up with is a class focused pretty much entirely on hunting the undead - which I find kinda cool.

Next, we have Prestige Classes. A Prestige Class can only be multiclassed into - you cannot begin as one at first level. A PC should be mid-level (that is, around 5-6) before they can enter a Prestige Class. It is entirely up to the DM whether Prestige Classes are available, and if so, which. If they were an assumed part of every campaign, that the players should be able to plan for right from the start, then they'd be in the PHB. A Prestige Class should have a number of restrictions, but class and level should not be among them. Skill ranks in one or more skills, Race, Alignment, BAB, spellcasting ability and specific class features are listed as good options for restrictions - that way, a combat focused Prestige Class with a minimum BAB of 8+ could still technically be taken by a Wizard, even though they'd have to wait until level 16 to do so.

Prestige Classes should be used to establish and develop racial and cultural distinctions in the world, religious orders, and specific guilds with their own specialised training. As such, this is a good place to create more specialised versions of the base classes, racial archetypes, classes that blend two other classes together, and special abilities that might improve with specialised training. The Prestige Classes listed in this book? The players should not assume that they exist in any given campaign; the DM should start introducing opportunities to take them if that seems to be something a PC would be interested in.

I'm not going to detail the Prestige Classes here (it would make this post far too long, their 3.5 variants are all on the SRD, and none of them seem to have changed much). The ones to look at are the Arcane Archer, the Assassin, the Blackguard, the Dwarven Defender, the Loremaster and the Shadowdancer. I will, however, mention that the Blackguard (essentially the opposite of the Paladin) has the option for fallen Paladins to exchange levels in one for the other. This is, I believe, the only way to be a single class member of Prestige Class - and after 10th level you'll still need a new class to move into.

Following Prestige Classes, we have the NPC classes. They are the Commoner, the Expert, the Warrior, the Adept and the Aristocrat. With the possible exception of the Aristocrat, players should not be taking levels in any of these - they are all less powerful versions of the regular PC classes. The Commoner has a d4 hit die, 2 skill points per level, proficiency in a single simple weapon (and no armour) and poo poo saves. The Expert is basically a poo poo Rogue - a d6 hit die, 6 skill points per level, the ability to pick their class skills (up to ten, and one or two can be exclusive to other classes), simple weapon and light armour proficiency and no other class features. The Warrior is basically a poo poo Fighter. Take the Fighter, lower the hit die to a d8 and remove the bonus feats and Weapon Specialisation, and you have the Warrior. The Adept is basically a poo poo Cleric, with a d6 hit die, proficiency in simple weapons but no armour, and spells of up to 5th level. The Aristocrat is basically the Warrior with a 3/4 BAB, but with 4 skill points per level and class skills that the Fighter wouldn't otherwise get. I still wouldn't have a PC take this class; I'd be more inclined to have them take Fighter, reduce their hit die to a d8, make Will their good save, and give them the Aristocrat skill points per level and class skills.

And at this point, I'm going to have to call it a post - much longer, and this update won't actually post. Next time, I'll be getting into optional rules such as starting at first level as a multiclass character and variant rules for levelling up. It will also include the rules for the Leadership feat, and descriptions of where the PC classes actually fit into the world.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
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Inescapable Duck posted:

Kind of the point is you should be using tactics, abilities and above all teamwork to put yourself into the best position to be using those abilities. I keep hearing 'I use all my dailies then I use all my encounters then I use at-wills over and over, this game is boring' and like, that's the absolute worst way to play the game.

The point is, as a level one character, I had... four tricks, I think, for abilities. And two of them, the Daily and the Encounter ability, were gone once used, at least until the next big event. Which left me with a grand total of two things to do. As I remember it, for my class, one of them was being able to mark enemies, and the other was being able to take advantage of that mark. Even with the grand possibilities allowed by teamwork, it still felt very much like going "oh, sure, I attack." each round rather than actually having to think or having some options of any kind.

I'm sure it opens up as you get into the game some, sure, because you're going to get a greater variety of abilities, in particular at-wills which prevent you from being stuck in just using one power over and over on loop late in an encounter or after a series of encounters. And you'll probably also start being able to reliably use your powers. But I really wish that powers had been more reliably hitting from the word go and, frankly, it feels like it would've been a more fun game if each player had two or three characters on the board at once. At least at the low levels.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Wait, are you seriously complaining about an edition of D&D not giving 1st level characters enough to do and limited that to 4e?

Because ain't no edition where first level is any goddamn fun at all.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



Mors Rattus posted:

Wait, are you seriously complaining about an edition of D&D not giving 1st level characters enough to do and limited that to 4e?

Because ain't no edition where first level is any goddamn fun at all.

Thatís certainly true but it doesnít make it any less true of 4E. We almost always started at...3? 5? So that people had more to do. It was a revolutionary game and remains the best D&D, but I think itís a reasonable critique.

Serf
May 5, 2011




as opposed to the 18 or so actions every class can choose from at 1st level in other editions

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

Wait, are you seriously complaining about an edition of D&D not giving 1st level characters enough to do and limited that to 4e?

Because ain't no edition where first level is any goddamn fun at all.*

*Unless you're a spellcaster.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ultiville posted:

Thatís certainly true but it doesnít make it any less true of 4E. We almost always started at...3? 5? So that people had more to do. It was a revolutionary game and remains the best D&D, but I think itís a reasonable critique.

Itís a reasonable critique of D&D (all) rather than 4e in particular. Limiting it to 4e is hella disingenuous. 4e suffers from it, yes, but no more than any other edition.

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




4e has some stuff that sucks, but it's almost entirely stuff that also sucked in 3rd. Like feat bloat, for example.

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