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Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragons of Despair: 3rd Edition Changes

I hope that this doesn't come off as backseat F&Fing, but I happen to own both the original and the 3rd Edition adaption of the Dragonlance Chronicles. I also made a series of blog posts discussing how I changed said adventures for my 13th Age game to make it less railroady and more playable.

So interesting things, the 3.5 version changed some things around: for one, all of the PCs are of the same level. However, there's still a problem in that the overwhelming majority of them are some degree of Fighter, with Tasslehoff, Goldmoon, and Raistlin the major exceptions (Riverwind's a Barbarian/Fighter). Furthermore, Riverwind got upgraded to "true PC" status. Furthermore, there are discussions of archetypes for players who want to make their own PCs to replace some or all of the Heroes of the Lance, as well as a pool of "free GP/XP" for magic item crafting given that the Chronicles rarely have any downtime. To account for this the adventure calls out how certain characters and events would react to said archetype (the Prophet [Goldmoon] may be asked by Elistan to share their tale of the true gods," etc).

There's also further discussion about the world of Dragonlance and how certain races or classes would logically make sense or be affected by things (bards cannot cast spells, sorcerers do not exist outside of dragons/fey/etc at this time, and so on).

Also in the 3rd Edition version no Seeker council member gets outright killed. Rather, it merely shoots out a bolt of blue energy at Locar who gets singed rather than murdered (and is Lawful Neutral and will try to take the Staff by force from the PCs). I happen to own the AD&D version, and while outright death is possible the blue bolt deals 4d6 damage which given the Highseeker's HP averages from 16 to 26 is a possibility rather than an inevitability.

Furthermore, the battle with the hobgoblins at the beginning is led by Fewmaster Toede, a comic relief recurring villain who's bilking travelers for "protection money." This happens in both versions. But in 3rd Edition as the plot needs him alive he gets a Natural 20 on his initiative result and will spend the first round fleeing on his donkey while his minions fight the party.

Edit: This is kind of important and strangely overlooked. There are 3 more DMPCs you can recruit! They have no pics, but can be hired out as mercenaries at the Steel Tankard Tavern in Haven but only if the current party is too small or missing members. In AD&D they cannot be recruited and have no proper names or level, but can give advice about goings-on in Abanasinia. They are Jaymes Green the Ranger, Bear the Barbarian, and Fiona Wainwright the Rogue. They are all 5th level and the conversations with them in the tavern are given more proper action in description rather than just quoting text, like what you'd see in a novel. They even have full stat blocks in the appendix in back, and Fiona has a unique feature where she has one eye missing and takes a -2 penalty to Initiative, Reflex saves, and ranged attacks.

Also Riverwind and Goldmoon are automatically part of the party at the beginning. There's actually 3 separate encounters (Toede included) which can be run in a "split the party" manner where the PCs are coming back to Solace from their respective journeys for the true gods. The other 2 are Seekers with attack dogs looking for the Staff, and goblin deserters from the Dragonarmies. Each of these encounters can shine some light on further goings-on in the adventure proper.

Edit putting things in from later post:

PurpleXVI posted:

Oh no, it's entirely reasonable. I probably won't be touching the 3E content, so it's interesting to see that 3E, despite being generally not an edition I like or have many positive comments for, actually made Dragonlance suck less poo poo.

The first hobgoblin ambush here is also, by the way, lead by Fewmaster Toede, but only in the sense that "Toede tells his minions to attack, then hightails it away before anyone can interact with him."

It had the benefit of a new writing team who did more than just a straight translation. Cam Banks was one of the major writers on the project, who some here may know as the lead designer for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. They also had the advantage of having several more generic supplements out (the Campaign Setting, Towers of High Sorcery, etc) to adapt to the modules. Gilthanas has the Heroic Surge feat, which grants you a per-day resource of being able to do a bonus move or standard action in a round, which had the most obvious benefit of letting you move and full attack. Some of the PCs are poorly built with sub-optimal choices, usually reflective of situational incidents from the books: Tika's built around improvised weapons due to a frying pan scene in the books, and Caramon has Improved Unarmed Strike despite being a sword-wielder also due to one scene where he knocks out a pair of baddies by conking their heads together.

Also the maps are a lot more clear. Here's one for the Abanasinia region:

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 07:28 on Dec 30, 2019

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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!


EimiYoshikawa posted:

Also, wtf, Raistlin has a str, but especially a con, higher than low single dig- insert sound of head slamming into desk to cease this madness before it goes any further

For those not in the know, in literally every loving page of the Dragonlance books where Raistlin appears, the descriptive text will go on for lengths about how sickly and weak he is and how he'd be basically a paralyzed cripple without Caramon to haul him along. Sometimes he even coughs up blood.

When the stats insist that he's just an average guy, physically.

I know your pain, Eimi, I know your pain.

Libertad! posted:

I hope that this doesn't come off as backseat F&Fing,

Oh no, it's entirely reasonable. I probably won't be touching the 3E content, so it's interesting to see that 3E, despite being generally not an edition I like or have many positive comments for, actually made Dragonlance suck less poo poo.

The first hobgoblin ambush here is also, by the way, lead by Fewmaster Toede, but only in the sense that "Toede tells his minions to attack, then hightails it away before anyone can interact with him."

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



From what I understand, the whole business of Raistlin constantly talking in whispers came from his original player, and Weis and Hickman just ran with it in the books, regardless of what his game stats might have been.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Selachian posted:

From what I understand, the whole business of Raistlin constantly talking in whispers came from his original player, and Weis and Hickman just ran with it in the books, regardless of what his game stats might have been.

I also recall that the original player rolled a 3 for Constitution, thus his most-famed sickliness. Although with the official publication it seems that got moved up on account that may have been too lethal even by AD&D standards.


PurpleXVI posted:

Oh no, it's entirely reasonable. I probably won't be touching the 3E content, so it's interesting to see that 3E, despite being generally not an edition I like or have many positive comments for, actually made Dragonlance suck less poo poo.

The first hobgoblin ambush here is also, by the way, lead by Fewmaster Toede, but only in the sense that "Toede tells his minions to attack, then hightails it away before anyone can interact with him."

It had the benefit of a new writing team who did more than just a straight translation. Cam Banks was one of the major writers on the project, who some here may know as the lead designer for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. They also had the advantage of having several more generic supplements out (the Campaign Setting, Towers of High Sorcery, etc) to adapt to the modules. Gilthanas has the Heroic Surge feat, which grants you a per-day resource of being able to do a bonus move or standard action in a round, which had the most obvious benefit of letting you move and full attack. Some of the PCs are poorly built with sub-optimal choices, usually reflective of situational incidents from the books: Tika's built around improvised weapons due to a frying pan scene in the books, and Caramon has Improved Unarmed Strike despite being a sword-wielder also due to one scene where he knocks out a pair of baddies by conking their heads together.

Also the maps are a lot more clear. Here's one for the Abanasinia region:

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 23:30 on Dec 1, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Raistlin is really the archetypal "Completely useless guy in a bathrobe, except he can rewrite reality" wizard, I suppose.

Baku
Aug 20, 2005

by Fluffdaddy


To be fair to Raistlin having "too high" of a Con, this was the point in the game's history when HP bonuses didn't start til 15 Con, Wizards had 1d4 hit dice, and you were meant to roll that poo poo at every level.

A 10th-level Mage with a 14 Con who rolled real bad could have 10-15 HP, at which point RPing that character as incredibly frail makes a whole lot of sense.

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!


No. 1 Apartheid Fan posted:

To be fair to Raistlin having "too high" of a Con, this was the point in the game's history when HP bonuses didn't start til 15 Con, Wizards had 1d4 hit dice, and you were meant to roll that poo poo at every level.

A 10th-level Mage with a 14 Con who rolled real bad could have 10-15 HP, at which point RPing that character as incredibly frail makes a whole lot of sense.

Raistlin has 8HP at level 3, so one more theory busted. :v:

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Halloween Jack posted:

Raistlin is really the archetypal "Completely useless guy in a bathrobe, except he can rewrite reality" wizard, I suppose.

Doesn't most of the setting constantly move to make him the most important man in the universe, too?

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Night10194 posted:

Doesn't most of the setting constantly move to make him the most important man in the universe, too?

This is less in the Chronicles proper and more during the succeeding modules and novels (Legends of the Twins) where he sets out on a series of events to claim godhood. His 3e starts at this time are an epic-level 28th level character. Unlike Elminster he multi-classes purely in Wizard/Wizard of High Sorcery/Archmage which makes him a better spellcaster than even Ed Greenwood's Marty Stu. Although at that level it's like debating the relative powers of black holes; the mechanics for epic spells are so far beyond what the D20 system can support for reasonable gameplay it's all pretty much relative.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


A 3rd level wizard in any edition is rubbish - if he wasn't munchkin-ed out with his artifact, Raistlin gets, what, two first level spells and a one second level one per day? That's two sleeps and a ... melf's acid arrow or something, then he's completely tapped out. While the encounter rate is insanely high.

It's less dire in 3rd edition, where wizards get bonus spells from Int, but that's the edition where wizards broke the game forever.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I can't imagine playing out 8 combat encounters for a single adventuring day. That would take for goddamn ever.

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!


Night10194 posted:

I can't imagine playing out 8 combat encounters for a single adventuring day. That would take for goddamn ever.

Keep in mind, though, if you're playing as the canon party you're literally immortal. So you can just throw dice at the table without even looking at it until you've ground up to the levels where Raistlin can Teleport everyone across the swamps, or turn them invisible so they can sneak past all the encounters. Perhaps that's the intended way of playing it.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

For those not in the know, in literally every loving page of the Dragonlance books where Raistlin appears, the descriptive text will go on for lengths about how sickly and weak he is and how he'd be basically a paralyzed cripple without Caramon to haul him along. Sometimes he even coughs up blood.

When the stats insist that he's just an average guy, physically.

I know your pain, Eimi, I know your pain.

This is a point where AD&D could have benefited from some kind of Merit/Flaw system. Merit: Cool, somewhat useful Artifact at 3rd level. Flaw: Weak, tired occasionally coughing up blood.

And on a completely different topic, Yessssssss!.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Everyone posted:

This is a point where AD&D could have benefited from some kind of Merit/Flaw system. Merit: Cool, somewhat useful Artifact at 3rd level. Flaw: Weak, tired occasionally coughing up blood.

And on a completely different topic, Yessssssss!.

There are very few games ever made that have actually benefited from their Merit/Flaw system.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Is AD&D the one where you aren't supposed to fight every encounter? I know in one of the old D&Ds you only care about the spoils and if you could sneak past a bunch of orcs or convince some goblins to hang out with you or whatever then that's pretty much an encounter gone perfectly. A wizard with two sleeps and an acid arrow makes more sense when those two sleeps are get out of jail free cards for when you gently caress up your sneaking or talking because 8 encounters isn't 8 combat encounters unless something went wrong every single time.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Legends of the Twins' was 3.5's attempt at modeling flaws in the vein of Raistlin's crippling cough known as Character Traits. Said rules granted you a bonus in one field at the expense of another, and often represented some negative personality trait rather than a virtue. For example, Abrasive gives you +1 on Intimidate but -1 on Diplomacy, while Illiterate made you unable to read and write but you get +1 on a single skill besides Decipher Script/Forgery.

Jesus, I seem to be talking non-stop about LotT. I may as well start writing up a FATAL & Friends of it while everyone's jawing about Dragonlance.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 02:34 on Dec 2, 2019

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


EthanSteele posted:

Is AD&D the one where you aren't supposed to fight every encounter? I know in one of the old D&Ds you only care about the spoils and if you could sneak past a bunch of orcs or convince some goblins to hang out with you or whatever then that's pretty much an encounter gone perfectly. A wizard with two sleeps and an acid arrow makes more sense when those two sleeps are get out of jail free cards for when you gently caress up your sneaking or talking because 8 encounters isn't 8 combat encounters unless something went wrong every single time.

Well, the AD&D Revised DMG I've got goes on about experience for slain monsters and experience for treasure, with an "eh, eyeball it" for any other experience point gaining action (like overcoming a trap to get at said loot). Technically 3rd edition and up, beating an encounter would get you experience based on the CR of the encounter, killed beasties or not, as long as you resolved the encounter - but the initial AD&D paradigm was firmly "kill monster, collect loot, get XP."

Tylana
May 5, 2011



Pillbug

Could be worse, you could start F&Fing the... 4th age (?) nonD&D dragonlance RPG that was deck based. Maybe used special dice too? I forget. I think I found the core book but not the core box.

EDIT : Also, Fenneko is the best, I approve.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Tylana posted:

Could be worse, you could start F&Fing the... 4th age (?) nonD&D dragonlance RPG that was deck based. Maybe used special dice too? I forget. I think I found the core book but not the core box.

EDIT : Also, Fenneko is the best, I approve.

Ah, yes. The Fifth Age with the SAGA system. That's pretty much where I just shrugged and "gently caress this setting." I admit I did like some of the set up. Heroes of the Lance getting the poo poo murdered out of them (in Dragons of Summer Flame if you didn't laugh your rear end off when The Chaos God killed Tasselhoff by stepping on him you have no soul)? Check. A bunch of kender finally feeling fear because a big-rear end red dragon roasted the gently caress out of a bunch of them? Awesome. But the whole card thing? Bleecchhhh!

PurpleXVI is razzing the poo poo out of the original Dragonlance, but its biggest problem was that it was written for 1st ed AD&D and by comparison with a lot of RPGs today, 1st ed AD&D sucked rancid donkeys ball.

But the SAGA system? I'm half-convinced that was a deliberate act of cruelty .

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Libertad! posted:

Some of the PCs are poorly built with sub-optimal choices, usually reflective of situational incidents from the books: Tika's built around improvised weapons due to a frying pan scene in the books, and Caramon has Improved Unarmed Strike despite being a sword-wielder also due to one scene where he knocks out a pair of baddies by conking their heads together.

Did something once, may not be that good in it (relatively speaking) ; Therefore, let's put one of your limited "these are my tricks" on that!

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!


EthanSteele posted:

Is AD&D the one where you aren't supposed to fight every encounter? I know in one of the old D&Ds you only care about the spoils and if you could sneak past a bunch of orcs or convince some goblins to hang out with you or whatever then that's pretty much an encounter gone perfectly. A wizard with two sleeps and an acid arrow makes more sense when those two sleeps are get out of jail free cards for when you gently caress up your sneaking or talking because 8 encounters isn't 8 combat encounters unless something went wrong every single time.

Technically? Yes.

Practically? The only character with any system for avoiding combat is the thief, there's no actual stealth or hiding skill for anyone else, so when a 2d6 Wraiths show up as a world map random encounter, you're reliant on GM fiat if he says you're allowed to hide from them or go in a large circle around them. Also all of these encounters are all wild or mindless creatures(undead, animals, dragon hatchlings) or members of the Dragonarmies that really should be pretty loving suspicious of anyone traipsing around in the wilderness near the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth and should be smart enough not to just let you say: "uhhhh, we're birdwatching." and let you go without at least patting you down for divine artifacts. In the case of the huge black dragon, Khisanth, she also attacks a certain percentage of the time whether aggravated by the party or not. It's only every fifth time she pops up, but that's still enough for a total party wipe just from a breath weapon driveby.

So with eight encounters a day, I think you can presume that the same GM who's sociopathic enough to actually roll for them all is also going to be enough of an rear end in a top hat to make you deal with them all. And we have to assume that people actually play this by the rules as written, if we want to judge how badly or well-made it is.

Everyone posted:

PurpleXVI is razzing the poo poo out of the original Dragonlance, but its biggest problem was that it was written for 1st ed AD&D and by comparison with a lot of RPGs today, 1st ed AD&D sucked rancid donkeys ball.

Hahaha, no. God, no. AD&D is not Dragonlance's biggest problem.

I'd say number one would be the writing and the level of railroading.

Number two, I'd say that the designers had no idea how to actually write for AD&D.

Eight random encounters per day in a swamp is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of these numbskulls writing this adventure module. Nine out of ten of those encounters being party wipes you'll only survive because the text says the True Protagonists(tm) are functionally immortal, is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of bad design.

Now, I'll agree, a lot of RPG's are better designed than 1e AD&D, like 2e AD&D which I'm going to insist until my dying breath is the best D&D edition we ever got(so far. we might yet get another good edition!), but you can not heap the majority of Dragonlance's suck on it being a 1E game.

Seatox posted:

Well, the AD&D Revised DMG I've got goes on about experience for slain monsters and experience for treasure, with an "eh, eyeball it" for any other experience point gaining action (like overcoming a trap to get at said loot). Technically 3rd edition and up, beating an encounter would get you experience based on the CR of the encounter, killed beasties or not, as long as you resolved the encounter - but the initial AD&D paradigm was firmly "kill monster, collect loot, get XP."

Actually! In the earlier incarnations of D&D, collecting loot was far more profitable, XP-wise, than killing monsters, in most cases. So you really wanted to not engage most enemies and even better yet, just get the loot without the killing, because the loot was itself worth a considerable amount of XP based on its value.

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


AD&D was not Dragonlance’s problem. A later edition of the setting used its own system, and it was if anything more of a shitshow.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



When it comes to gaming, most Dragonlance players are familiar with one of two eras: either the original Chronicles which spanned an epic fantasy against a dragon-themed evil empire, or the Fifth Age which detailed events fifty years after the former. But a new trilogy of books revolving around Raistlin and his brother Caramon’s time-traveling adventures never really got the module adaption treatment. This is due to the fact that it doesn’t really model the typical Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Still, the introduction of not just time travel but alternate timelines of parallel realities were a pretty novel idea. So during the 3rd Edition era of D&D, Margaret Weis Productions released the Legends of the Twins sourcebook as a supplement to the already-existing Dragonlance Campaign Setting (which I reviewed here)!

I was quite enamored of this book back in high school, in that it took the standard world in some neat and novel directions. Want rules for time travel? We got that! How about alternate campaign options, such as the Wizards of High Sorcery taking over Ansalon? You betcha! How about a detailed look at the Abyss, Dragonlance’s planar home of evil deities? We’ve got that too! Want a totally borked stat block of Raistlin at the height of his power, who will most definitely murderize your party if they lose initiative?

...wait, you don’t want that? Well don’t let that scare you! This bad boy’s 210 pages should have something to intrigue you!

Chapter One: Characters


Both of the first two chapters are quite short and PC-friendly, which makes me wonder why they weren’t combined together. Chapter 1 provides some new classes and feats with an optional trait system we’ll be talking about first.

Character Traits are ‘role-play enhancing materials’ meant to showcase some weakness or personality flaw for your PC in exchange for a minor bonus representing a positive side of said weakness. For example, being Abrasive grants you +1 on Intimidate but -1 on Diplomacy, while Slow halves your base movement speed but gives you 1 bonus hit point per level. All in all, they’re not really anything noticeable or special to really change a character and will be of limited utility save among the min-maxers out there.

The books’ new Feats are interesting in that they vary widely in scale. About half of them are the boring +2 to 2 different skills, but divine spellcasters will love Academic Priest and Dynamic Priest which let you substitute your Intelligence or Charisma in place of Wisdom for all spellcasting needs. As Charisma governs turning and rebuking undead, Dynamic in particular is quite popular. Heroic Surge was a reprint from the base setting, but grants you a per-day use of one bonus move or standard action per round to be performed at any time during your regular actions. Said feat was very popular among gaming groups for letting martials make full attacks while moving more than 5 feet. Astrological Forecasting is a rather situational one, where you can read someone’s horoscope once per week and give them a spendable +1 to +3 bonus on a single check any time during the next 7 days. The concept is cool, but the piddly bonus and infrequent rate blunt its use.

For classes we have one base class and prestige class each. The Mariner is our new base class, and was actually an updated reprint from an earlier sourcebook based on fan feedback that the original was too weak. Sadly, there’s not much improved here: the concept is a light-on-their-feet mobile fighter with some seamanship, but nothing that existing classes cannot replicate better. They get fighter-esque bonus feats but only every 5 levels, their Sailor Lore is like Bardic Knowledge but more limited in subject matter, their Dirty Strike is a poor man’s Sneak Attack (max 5d4 at 18th level) and requires a full round action to use as part of an attack rather than adding to every attack you make like Sneak Attack does. The only other features of note are a bonus to some mobility-based skills and a dodge bonus to AC when fighting next to allies.

If this is an improvement, I dread to see the original!

The Knight of the Divine Hammer is our sole prestige class, representing the elite soldiers appointed by the Kingpriest of Istar. Before Dragonlance’s main setting proper, there was a great empire so obsessed with destroying evil that they committed many atrocities to the point that the gods destroyed their civilization. As such, the Divine Hammer’s not really around in modern times and most likely be encountered as NPCs while time-traveling. The class is a noncasting martial variety with mostly role-playing based prerequisites. The class features they gain reflect their imperialist manner, from bonuses on social checks when exercising authority, able to deal nonlethal damage without penalty, Smite Infidel instead of Smite Evil,* and limited use abilities to grant bonuses on saving throws versus fear or physical ability scores, and the ability to impart smaller bonuses to allies at higher levels.

*aka outsiders, spellcasters of all kinds, and certain evil creature types like undead

The Knights can multi-class as paladins and must be no more than one step from Lawful Good, but lose their class features if they act dishonorable or “commit an evil act” which we’ll see later on in this book is pretty much impossible to do by serving Istar’s government. Well, impossible in most campaign settings besides Dragonlance, but we’ll get to that in Chapter Three.

Chapter Two: the River of Time


This chapter delves into the more supernatural aspects, such as how manipulating time works in the Dragonlance setting and new spells and magic items centered around all things temporal. First off, the fluff!

The River of Time is a core fixture of the Dragonlance cosmology, its main current flowing in one direction. However, people capable of traveling back have limited means of making any permanent changes, and all but the most powerful magic allows you to manipulate the past beyond that of an immaterial spectator. The three primordial races* (humans, dwarves, ogres) who go back in time will find their ability to change major events hindered or outright unconstructed once they return. However, if a race which bears the primordial essence of Chaos (aka all of the other races) travels back in time then the River’s immutable nature no longer applies and time paradoxes become possible. The River still has one main ‘flow,’ so even if history is altered then the River will ‘fork’ into a parallel reality where events unfold differently. And those forks can further fork from paradoxes of their own.

*Oddly enough there’s no mention of what happens when dragons time travel, as they are born of the world itself which would technically make them as limited as humans/elves/ogres.

Even the gods are affected by time, and there are alternate Krynns where they’ve become enslaved by the Kingpriest, died or usurped of their power by another, and so on and so forth. But the gods have more control over the River than mortals, able to see potential futures and transport mortals but unable to alter or stop the flow of it themselves.

We move on to new Spells, which are ill-understood and the book recommends not letting PCs automatically learn or prepare for them right out of the gate. Instead they would individually uncover said spells as part of an adventure, along with a sample hook of a researcher losing a book detailing said spells while venturing among the ruins of ancient Istar.

We have 14 new spells, and they’re heavily geared towards being exclusive to sorcerers and wizards. Only 3 can be learned by Clerics, 2 by Mystics (Dragonlance’s divine equivalent to the Sorcerer), and 4 by Druids. I won’t detail each of them and some are merely greater versions of existing ones, but a few of the more interesting spells include Frozen Moment (freeze one creature or object in time), River’s Ravages (rapidly age a creature’s form), Temporal Shield (slow incoming objects to a near-stop, granting you an AC bonus), Temporal Sphere (create a sphere of slowed time around yourself which makes all within invulnerable to outside attacks but can only act every other round), Timeheal (send a living creature’s body back in time to reverse negative ailments), and Time Reaver (Travel 20 years backward or 1 year forward in time per Caster Level, albeit at a hefty cost of money, experience, and the temporary depowering of a major artifact as a focus).

Overall, the spells tend to be utility-focused although the more offensive ones merely debilitate rather than outright damage or kill, and quite a few can be used for defensive measures.



When it comes to Magic Items, we have 11 items and 3 artifacts. Most of them are rather bleh, merely allowing you to cast or use the aforementioned spells or ones from the core rulebook like the Slow spell. The ones which do stand out are the Iron Nail of Iteration (which can be driven into an area with a magical aura and repeat/recast a spell’s effects) and Time Candles (which create a localized Time Stop spell within its illumination, but is one use and has a market price of 306,000 steel pieces* which insures no PC will bother crafting it on their own!

*steel pieces are equivalent to gold pieces in the Dragonlance setting.

Our artifacts are all priceless relics which can perform feats even the aforementioned spells cannot do and are regarded by most as mythical rather than something which actually exists. The Device of Time Journeying is in the possession of the Master of the Tower of Wayreth** and famously used in the Legends trilogy when Caramon and Tasslehoff used it to travel to the past. The Device is virtually impossible to steal as reality itself returns it gradually to its legitimate owner, and you need to repeat a series of verses and puzzle-like manipulations of buttons, rods, and lenses in order to activate. Once this is performed the person merely imagines the era in which they desire to travel, and they and nearby individuals will be transported along the River of Time.

**which is Dragonlance’s sole remaining academy of wizardry and thus the hub for arcane spellcasters.

The Globe of Present Time Passing was invented by Raistlin and gifted to the immortal historian Astinus. You can use the Globe to effortlessly scry anywhere in the present and project yourself in spirit form to said places. It can theoretically be used to peer into the past, but at risk of being more difficult to return to your present era and thus become forever stranded.

The Tapestry of Time was weaved by the gnomes of Mount Nevermind to make predictions of the future. Those diligent enough to maneuver through the infamous gnomish bureaucracy may be allowed to stare at it. By merely gazing upon it without focusing one’s eyes the threads will weave together, depicting a visual recreation of a potential future event. This can only be done once per day per viewer, and the events are not foolproof but rather predict what is most statistically probable based upon current events. Said pictures are highly individualized and different people staring at the Tapestry may see different scenes based upon their query.

Thoughts So Far: Legends’ first chapters have a mixture of features. There’s quite a bit of useful options, but the classes and many feats are of dubious quality. The new spells and artifacts were the chapters’ strong points, and quite useful for the levels at which they can be learned.

Join us next time as we cover Chapter Three, Eras of Legend!

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!


Ah yes, Time Travel, absolutely a great element of any story that's totally not one of the most commonly bungled, mishandled and self-sabotaging elements in fiction. :v:

Though I have to admit that my dream is for some sort of time wizardry in a game that isn't total dogshit. It would be nice to have.

Rubix Squid
Apr 17, 2014


Pretty sure you'd have to write your own time physics to do that.

Carados
Jan 27, 2009

We're a couple, when our bodies double.


There is a time travel RPG that does consider what some of the... "pratical" implications of time travel would be, but then you can't go too far into the future or else you'll learn that humans have evolved into Greys.


Also it's incomprehensible.

rodbeard
Jul 21, 2005



My only successful attempt at playing 1st ed dnd I decided my barbarian would collect the skins of every animal he came across which led to me killing a pack of giant beavers and finding out that their pelts were actually worth 500-2000gp each so the entire party ended up leveling up.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Spire and Black Magic and Strata

Post 11: Spark Your Own Revolution

So part of the reason I feel comfortable writing up the entire base resolution mechanic of Spire (aside from being able to do it in like one paragraph) is that the authors have done the same. https://rowanrookanddecard.com/product/the-resistance-toolbox/ is where you can pick up the Resistance SRD and hacking guide (It's pay as you wish). You have no idea how helpful it is to just have a concise, clearly written document where the writers of a game lay out 'Hey, here's why we did the things we did mechanically, and here are some guidelines if you want to make your own stuff'. Now I like trying to figure out the logic behind RPG design (or if there is any) but let me tell you, it's a lot easier to do when the writers just tell you.

They also do a good job of doing so! The SRD is an easy-to-read and easy to grasp document that's written with user understanding in mind. They lay out the core of their game system: Resistance's base engine is about losing things. Not losing the game, mind you, but I'm not kidding when I compare dice hitting the table to Blood Bowl. You have a significant chance of things going wrong every time a roll is called for. You don't really roll dice to demonstrate mastery of stuff in Resistance, so much as your mastery means you have less chance of losing badly when you roll dice. Dice should only show up when 'could things go horribly wrong?' is 'oh god yes'. The actual resolution mechanic is much more about points of potential failure than grand triumphs, and it's designed that way. Similarly, they're upfront about 'this is really not a game about tactical play'. Resistance is a little more mechanical than something like PBTA and definitely more traditional, but it's really not about lines of fire or ammo counts or whatever.

The idea that the game mechanics are designed around potential points of failure (they say you should decide your Resistances around what players stand to lose, after all) is really important to understanding Spire and the base system as a whole, and I admit it's not something I really grasped before I saw the SRD. The explanations here are honestly quite helpful if you're not quite used to narrative games and Spire is your first, so I'd recommend it as reading even if you don't want to try to design or hack your own stuff for Spire or make your own Resistance game. It's an interesting way to think about it, and the more I look at it, the more that's how mechanics tend to serve in a lot of games; every time you roll dice, something is in question and it's a point of potential failure.

One of the other really important bits of design is that characters grow. The SRD doesn't actually dictate you must use the same Low Medium High Advance scheme as Spire did; they did that in Spire because one of their goals was to change the scope of the game as a campaign went on. But you should use advances. Resistance is intended for campaign play. In one interview with the authors I listened to, they were pretty explicit that they wanted solid character advancement and growth rules to help encourage campaign play and that they wanted them to be more robust than what you find in PBTA games. Character advancement in Resistance is not intended to be linked to EXP or playtime, but rather to the characters driving the narrative of the game forward. In Spire, you earn advances by changing the city. Deciding what people do to cause their characters to grow is as critical as deciding what they have on the line. You also need to decide what Skills and Domains are in your game. A game where everyone is some flavor of occult wizard probably wouldn't even have a single Occult Domain; it would probably have all kinds of them, and maybe even make them the main way you gain Domains. Similarly, one where you're all WWI soldiers hiding from artillery in the mud probably isn't going to have a single 'Fight' skill like a game where everyone isn't a soldier.

Similarly they actually give good guidelines on class design, and even have some pretty good examples of what class design would look like for, say, a gritty WWI game (hey that's actually just useful for my current Spire campaign!). They also have good guidelines on creating Fallout results, which are also pretty helpful for adding my own Fallout in Spire, too. Actual solid guidelines like 'Fallout can set up complications for the next session, frame the next scene, force the player to choose between two bad options' etc etc are useful to have. Like I said, I'm not really used to running narrative game systems, and I've found the SRD really helpful for getting into the right mindset as a supplement for the main book.

The Resistance Toolkit is a great resource, and definitely worth taking a look at if you want to run or play Spire. It's not even very long; if you have the patience to read my crazy walls of text, you can almost certainly make the time for 24 pages of solid game design advice. I'm not really sure I'll end up making my own classes or anything; the base ones are definitely strong enough and cover a wide enough range of characters that I don't have a pressing need. At the same time, it's nice to have the tools, and I'm definitely going to be using the advice on Fallout design to tailor things to my own campaigns. I really hope this kind of thing keeps popping up with RPG design; I love having a look at what the authors actually intended and why they do what they do. Death of the author and all that, but it's a lot easier to work with a system when you know how it was supposed to work. Whether you're changing something to taste, designing your own extra material, or just running it as intended.

Next Time: Spire Wrapup

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


PurpleXVI posted:

Technically? Yes.

Practically? The only character with any system for avoiding combat is the thief, there's no actual stealth or hiding skill for anyone else, so when a 2d6 Wraiths show up as a world map random encounter, you're reliant on GM fiat if he says you're allowed to hide from them or go in a large circle around them

In one of the older editions afaik stealth and hiding worked by you just saying that you're hiding and if it makes sense you're hiding. The Thief's skills were for when it doesn't make sense. Like "I hide in the dark behind this rock" anyone can do, but "I sneak down well-lit corridor in view of the guards" is Thief time, which is also why the weird percentage is so low. There's no Spot Hidden thing either if I recall because you just say you're searching the wall and the GM says if you find the thing or not. Early D&D wasn't super crunchy and left a lot to the GM to make calls based on the personalities of the creatures and what the players could do based on what makes sense, like using the ladder you brought to cross a gap.


PurpleXVI posted:

Actually! In the earlier incarnations of D&D, collecting loot was far more profitable, XP-wise, than killing monsters, in most cases. So you really wanted to not engage most enemies and even better yet, just get the loot without the killing, because the loot was itself worth a considerable amount of XP based on its value.

Yeah, this is the thing I was talking about, gold value = XP stuff.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

AD&D2e was IIRC the edition that formally introduced quest XP, as opposed to just Gold=XP plus a relatively fussy method for determining XP for slaying monsters. But a lot of the shift away from pure dungeon looting and towards quest-based campaigns is in the writing of the campaign settings and modules.

It's why some grognards think AD&D1e was the last good edition of D&D, in spite of the fact that 2e isn't all that different mechanically.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

Technically? Yes.

Practically? The only character with any system for avoiding combat is the thief, there's no actual stealth or hiding skill for anyone else, so when a 2d6 Wraiths show up as a world map random encounter, you're reliant on GM fiat if he says you're allowed to hide from them or go in a large circle around them. Also all of these encounters are all wild or mindless creatures(undead, animals, dragon hatchlings) or members of the Dragonarmies that really should be pretty loving suspicious of anyone traipsing around in the wilderness near the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth and should be smart enough not to just let you say: "uhhhh, we're birdwatching." and let you go without at least patting you down for divine artifacts. In the case of the huge black dragon, Khisanth, she also attacks a certain percentage of the time whether aggravated by the party or not. It's only every fifth time she pops up, but that's still enough for a total party wipe just from a breath weapon driveby.

So with eight encounters a day, I think you can presume that the same GM who's sociopathic enough to actually roll for them all is also going to be enough of an rear end in a top hat to make you deal with them all. And we have to assume that people actually play this by the rules as written, if we want to judge how badly or well-made it is.


Hahaha, no. God, no. AD&D is not Dragonlance's biggest problem.

I'd say number one would be the writing and the level of railroading.

Number two, I'd say that the designers had no idea how to actually write for AD&D.

Eight random encounters per day in a swamp is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of these numbskulls writing this adventure module. Nine out of ten of those encounters being party wipes you'll only survive because the text says the True Protagonists(tm) are functionally immortal, is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of bad design.

Now, I'll agree, a lot of RPG's are better designed than 1e AD&D, like 2e AD&D which I'm going to insist until my dying breath is the best D&D edition we ever got(so far. we might yet get another good edition!), but you can not heap the majority of Dragonlance's suck on it being a 1E game.


Actually! In the earlier incarnations of D&D, collecting loot was far more profitable, XP-wise, than killing monsters, in most cases. So you really wanted to not engage most enemies and even better yet, just get the loot without the killing, because the loot was itself worth a considerable amount of XP based on its value.

Part of it is that I was really, really into the Dragonlance setting in hgih school/college, but I haven't really looked at the modules since then. So yeah, 2d6 Wraiths for 3-7th level characters (and how many of them even had magic weapons at this point?) with no cleric to Turn Undead? Slaughter time - except they allow somehow get washed over a waterfall in the middle of a swamp and turn up alive again. And at the time I was one of those assholes who thought Kender were just adorable.

Yeah, Weis and Hickman's tendency to create entire races for the sole purpose of comic relief was a little annoying at times.

So part of my tendency to defend Dragonlance is from nostalgia, which is poisonous to reason. But the other part was that 1ed Dragonlance Advenntures sourcebooks, because I can trace a lot of stuff from 2ed AD&D (which we agree is the best edition) to that book and the concepts in it. Sure, the "Flyer" from Kitty Hawk was a deeply lovely airplane, but because of it, we have stealth bombers and commercial airliners.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Spire and Black Magic and Strata

Post 12: Wrapping Up

So I think it's pretty obvious by now that I'd recommend Spire. It's an unusual game for being a blend of two styles; it's still heavy on the setting and the world, and it's still a little closer to an older style of RPG than most heavily narrative systems. But I find that makes it a good first narrative game for people who usually play others. More critically, the setting is really well done. To be honest, though, I do think the Cosmic Horror bits are the weakest part of the setting from a writing standpoint as well. They're not bad if you like that stuff, but they lean way too close to 'okay, the writers really like Warhammer and Bloodborne', so to speak. There's just nothing particularly intriguing or even mysterious about the Heart as it's written. We've all seen a thousand corrupted wounds in reality that spill forth mutagenic dark magic and terrible energies. It's been done to death. It's fortunate for the setting that everything else about it is goddamn fantastic. The pervasive sense of magic and the power of faith and religion throughout Spire is excellent, and helps make up for the fact that the Heart is kind of boring. The rest of the Spire is so exciting it doesn't matter.

That setting really sells the book, as does the strong central conflict. The aelfir are a well written villain, and the intentional range of interpretations for their seemingly alien nature is fantastic. Similarly, the game's concern for player and group comfort when handling dark themes and terrible events marks it apart as genuinely mature, compared to edgelord nonsense like Adeptus Evangelion. Spire absolutely gets that it has to treat the stuff it's dealing with with care, and it deserves a lot of praise for that.

The game's rules might be simple, but the classes and advances (and even the equipment) actually get a surprisingly strong blend of mechanical and fictional abilities out of them anyway. Advances are exciting, and you aren't going to run out of things you want to learn how to do. There's a solid mix of 'new things you can try to do', but also 'thing you can just do'. The normal skills and domains are concerned with avoiding disaster when you're called on to make a roll, but advances can often give you entirely new avenues of power that don't take any rolling. A simple thing like 'if you put on your mask and disappear into a crowd, you won't be seen unless you draw attention to yourself' is flavorful and very useful. They often mix in nicely with bonuses to your resistances and new Skills. Like the Bound being able to make anyone who drinks from their hip-flask tell them about crimes they've been involved in, while also learning Compel from the same ability. Similarly, Mastery is a big enough bonus and situational enough to distribute throughout all sorts of advances and powers. Spire makes a lot of a simple system.

With strong setting writing, good mechanics, a strong sense of respect for its themes and its players and a solid main conflict, there isn't much left to say besides 'you should really give Spire a try'. I find the add-on books considerably more mixed than the main book, but they aren't bad. Strata is definitely the stronger of the two, but that's hardly a surprise when it's a full on 200+ page supplement and Black Magic is a short add-on. I'd still definitely recommend Strata, and Black Magic is useful if you're interested in the cosmic horror aspects. The Blood Witch is a solid core class, more solid than I thought it was at first. I would love to see more books expanding the districts of Spire and the setting the way Strata did, though I'd also prefer if they cut down on the sheer amount of time they devote to pre-made adventures. The Strata pre-mades are just too much of the book. Even if you found them useful, they're really not 'over half of the book' useful, especially not when you get so many good plot hooks and so much good fluff out of the other half of the book.

Spire is very much worth some attention. It's a great game that I'd recommend to anyone, even with my occasional misgivings with parts of it.

The End

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





The only thing I don’t like about Spire is the fact that the sequel game they’re making is about going dungeon crawling in the Heart. As you note, it’s the least interesting part of the Spire and the least novel style of play. So it goes; I’m sure it will be a great weird dungeon crawler if that’s what someone wants.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


For my personal game I rewrote the Heart into one of the reasons everyone wants Spire, because it's a massive, ancient purification engine that draws in and cleanses terrible magics and awful occult sicknesses. Which means you can much more easily manufacture and work with terrible magics in the Spire, because there's this miraculous cleansing engine. Also, the runoff and concentrated awfulness flowing towards it has immense power, and the Blood Witches and others swim in that sick and filthy river of magical runoff and scoop it out for their own power, not caring that it's all the terrible pollution and leavings of magic because it still has power.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Night10194 posted:

Spire and Black Magic and Strata

Post 11: Spark Your Own Revolution

So part of the reason I feel comfortable writing up the entire base resolution mechanic of Spire (aside from being able to do it in like one paragraph) is that the authors have done the same. https://rowanrookanddecard.com/product/the-resistance-toolbox/ is where you can pick up the Resistance SRD and hacking guide (It's pay as you wish). You have no idea how helpful it is to just have a concise, clearly written document where the writers of a game lay out 'Hey, here's why we did the things we did mechanically, and here are some guidelines if you want to make your own stuff'. Now I like trying to figure out the logic behind RPG design (or if there is any) but let me tell you, it's a lot easier to do when the writers just tell you.

This is really good, thanks and let me say man, I really wish more game devs did this because I know way too many people who treat Gary Gygax's brain droppings like dogma instead of what they are which is the inane ramblings of a DM. Like the aforementioned wraiths in DragonLance. Why do they have level drain? Because Gygax was a prick and wanted to gently caress with his players so now mid-level undead have level drain bullshit! I've said it before, but the rpg community really have given me excellent insight into how religions get formed.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I just wish they did it because I find reading game designers talking about why they do game design really interesting.

I loved it in 13th Age, too, because it clearly told you who dragged that game down from what it could have been. Seriously, every Jonathon Tweet interjection in 13A is 'this is a bad idea but I insisted it be in this game because it was in D&D 3.PF' and they clearly showed the game would have been much better if he'd been ejected into the sun.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Spire needs a book of expanding on the stuff that is going on outside the spire that still influences it - more stuff about human arcology archeology, and lots more stuff about gnolls and their kingdom - from everything in the various books, the spire version of gnolls are an incredibly sophisticated civilization putting up a hell of a fight against the invading elves, but the aelfir universally treat them as wild animals, so all the ones you see in the spire are either deep undercover, or broken slave-pets on leashes. There's totally room for a spire-spinoff game about the forever war against Far Nujab and the drow who suffer their durance there.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Ithle01 posted:

I've said it before, but the rpg community really have given me excellent insight into how religions get formed.
They give us even better insight into how religions schism!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Seatox posted:

Spire needs a book of expanding on the stuff that is going on outside the spire that still influences it - more stuff about human arcology archeology, and lots more stuff about gnolls and their kingdom - from everything in the various books, the spire version of gnolls are an incredibly sophisticated civilization putting up a hell of a fight against the invading elves, but the aelfir universally treat them as wild animals, so all the ones you see in the spire are either deep undercover, or broken slave-pets on leashes. There's totally room for a spire-spinoff game about the forever war against Far Nujab and the drow who suffer their durance there.

On one hand, I'd like more of an outline on these things, but on the other I actually quite like those elements being very 'left open'.

Still, if I wanted a specific sequel game, I'd like to be the gnolls fighting the aelfir. You could keep to the 'standard throwaway D&D bad guy fighting the shining high elf paladins, except they're no longer dehumanized' thing.

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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!


Ithle01 posted:

This is really good, thanks and let me say man, I really wish more game devs did this because I know way too many people who treat Gary Gygax's brain droppings like dogma instead of what they are which is the inane ramblings of a DM. Like the aforementioned wraiths in DragonLance. Why do they have level drain? Because Gygax was a prick and wanted to gently caress with his players so now mid-level undead have level drain bullshit! I've said it before, but the rpg community really have given me excellent insight into how religions get formed.

I gotta be honest, while I don't enjoy using level-draining undead, especially with no access to Restoration or similar spells, I actually think there's probably a good reason there beyond "lol Gygax was a prick," or at least a better one than that.

I mean, even if you don't agree with the end result, most stuff in 1E and 2E D&D actually have a reason behind them that implies that a rational human being thought about them. Like, take racial level limits. Seem like a lovely idea, probably most people houseruled them out, but they're actually there as an answer to "lol why isn't the world just full of level 20 elves everywhere since they live forever?????" which is kind of a legit question if you have a species with a much-longer-than-human lifespan. Why aren't they dominating the world? They even address, at least in the 2E AD&D DMG, that you might want to remove it, they just suggest that you consider what kind of world it might result in, compared to the default one.

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