September 30, 2011

Flowcharts for Gardmore Abbey, SND-01, C1

A handy tool for both designing, reading, and running an adventure is a simple, diagrammatic flowchart. The flowchart shows the main encounter locations, meaning all major skill challenges as well as any potential combat encounters, linked together to show all the possible paths that the dungeoneers can take. A diagram that is very simplistic is easy to run and prepare for, but can run the risk of feeling like a railroad. Likewise, an overly complicated flowchart can give the dungeoneers plenty of freedom, but makes the Dungeon Master's job more difficult. The flowchart informs the adventure's author just how much complexity they are putting into the adventure and guides the Dungoen Master with an easy to follow reference for where their dungeoneers are headed to next.

Just for kicks, I put together these images showing the flow diagrams for Madness at Gardmore Abbey, SND-01: Revenge of the Iron Lich, and C1: Crucible of the Gods. The most interesting thing I found out of this little exercise is that it clearly illustrates just how much complexity and nuance is put into the two Fourthcore adventures, which represent only one gaming session each.

September 28, 2011

The Sundering of the Earth - A Fourthcore Adventure

The Sundering
Long ago in a forgotten age, I had entered the PAX East 2011 Dungeon Master's Challenge. My notes for that adventure can be found here. Afterward, I immediately set forth to "upgrade" the adventure to something approaching the Fourthcore moniker, dubbed The Sundering of the Earth. Like most pieces of work, the author was never satisfied with it and it languished in the unknown obscurity of my hard drive awaiting just one more playtest that simply never happened. After much cajoling by my faithful readers whom would enjoy seeing more of the fruits of my labor and some more detail to my PAX adventure, I have acquiesced and hesitantly published what I have. Like everything on DMG 42, I have posted it in the hopes that it helps the Dungeon Masters of the world have a better game at their own table. I dare you to NOT find something within the adventure that does not inspire one of the adventures at your home game!

September 23, 2011

Rule #7: The skill challenge goes on as long as it has to.

Fight Club (1999)
The 7th Rule of Skill Challenges is the same as that of Fight Club: it goes on as long as it has to. I'm talking specifically about the Complexity of a skill challenge, the number of successes that it takes to win.

Many of you are doing your skill challenges wrong. Bad fun wrong. This can be easily felt at the game table as a wooden, forced experience during skill challenges. Internet trolls and the haters on forums love to bash 4E's skill challenge system because of this feeling of artificial construction that so often rears its ugly head.

The subject of improving skill challenges has been gone over extensively the last few years. There's a lot of great information and advice out there, and that should certainly be taken in. The Trump/Fold mechanic of Fourthcore (as shown in adventures S1: RotIL and C1: CotG) springs to mind as a great addition to any skill challenge. This post, however, aims to change a more fundamental aspect of how skill challenges should be presented and run at the table.

September 16, 2011

4E Modern - Rules Tweaks and New Tokens

Here are a few rules tweaks the the 4E Modern System created as a result of my ongoing mini-campaign using them. RPGs, by their very nature, are a communal activity ad one that lends itself to be constantly evolving and changing to suit the needs and desires of its players. As such, the 4E Modern rules will be continually changed to suit what the needs that my group has developed.

Gain the following:
* Tuck and Tumble: You reduce all falling and Fall Out damage by 1d10.
Adrenaline Rush (Daredevil Novice Power) is, in fact, an At-Will power.

 * Create Profile: Once per encounter during a rest, you may determine one of the following about one creature that you are investigating: size, level, role, defenses, immunities, resistances, weaknesses, or allegiances.
 * Inquisitive’s Eyes: Once per encounter during a short rest, you may cast your senses back through time to observe a snapshot of your current location as it was up to a number of hours ago no greater than your Insight check result. You can observe the scene as if you were there, although you cannot affect anything.

With a high enough Wealth Roll, an Agent may purchase multiple, lower cost Omega Tech items. An Agent may purchase one additional Omega Tech item for an added Cost of +3. For example, on a Wealth Roll of 4, an Agent may buy two Fragmentation Grenades (Cost 1) instead of just one.

Agents receive +2 to damage rolls when wielding similar weapons in each hand as (opposed to +3 to damage rolls).

The Origins PDF has been updated as well to reflect the changes: 4E Modern Origins.

Also, here are a few new images for making 4E Modern tokens. They're all things that I've been putting together specifically as my home game needs them. We've found that it's somewhat difficult to quickly differentiate friend from foe on the battlemap, so I've redone the tokens used for the Agents to have a green border around them instead of a silver border.

September 15, 2011

Baltimore Fourthcore Team Deathmatch - Next Month!

The Baltimore FTDM starts up in t-minus 30 days, don't miss your chance! Register now to reserve your place by emailing me here.

September 13, 2011

4E Modern - Session #1 (09/11/2011) Recap & Game Master Notes

I normally don't try and advocate game recaps too much. When I read a recap on another blog I tend to find it boring and trite. However, I have been directly asked to relate my campaign's development, and like my olden days of college radio, it's hard for me to resist a request. If nothing else, these recaps will provide me with a means of communicating some of the implied ideas I have about Modern campaigns, as well as the less than clearly described rules, and subsequent rules tweaks.

Also, stats for evil Nazi Warlocks.

September 8, 2011

4E Modern Assignment: Workshop of the Mad Alchemist


Many gamers out there have the desire and passion to make the leap from playing a typical medieval fantasy Dungeons & Dragons game to that of a Modern-era RPG, but hesitate to do so for lack of available adventures and lack of good direction on how a Modern game should be designed. I'm here to lend a hand with those two unmet needs, drawing on my previous experiences with d20 Modern and my ongoing experiences with 4E Modern.

If you haven't done so already, make sure to check out the articles on WotC's official d20 Modern site here; including short adventures, plot hooks, and helpful tips from the creators.

My first adventure (called Assignments in the Modern parlance) will be an easy conversion of a well put together two-page delve done by Benoit at Roving Band of Misfits. Go look at it here!

September 7, 2011

Fourthcore Weaknesses

Nosferatu (1922)
One of the ideals of Fourthcore is to provide dangerous, exciting, and rewarding adventures. Challenges are designed to benefit those whom are creative and quick-witted, and to punish those who are lazy and disinterested. You can't sit at the table on coast by on auto-pilot while playing a Fourthcore adventure. One tool with which we can use to help create this scenario is Weaknesses.

Weaknesses are a purely detrimental Trait applied to a villain, usually a high-level and/or Solo creature. Weaknesses represent the frailties, flaws, and cracks of humanity that break through a villain's hard exterior. Creatures may only have one Focus per type of Weakness (see below), and a Dungeon Master must foster a means for the dungeoneers to be able to research and discover these Weaknesses.

The mechanics presented here are written specifically for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, however the basic framework can be easily applied to any roleplaying game with a high degree of combat.

September 4, 2011

4E Modern - Experts

During my Modern campaigns, I've consistently run into a category of player I like to refer to as an Expert. Experts can take a variety of forms, and have both positive and negative impacts to be wary of. A shrewd Game Master would be wise to look for the signs of The Expert(s) in her group, identify what type of Expert is at work, and use that information to enhance the campaign.

A common problem that plagues many Modern campaigns is the too-strict adherance to the functionality and practicality of the real world. It's very easy to fall into this trap, playing in a Modern campaign by its very nature leads to all sorts of implied assumpptions that only seem reasonable at the time. However, the Game Master must always be careful not to let too much of reality into her campaign. Why? Because reality sucks.

September 1, 2011

4E Modern: Vehicles & Chase Scenes

rendering of what Baltimore will look like in about 24 hours

Most of my readers are probably blissfully unaware; but now, right now, downtown Baltimore has been transformed into a Grand Prix race track. Yes, I'm serious! It is then only fitting that I delve into the last major piece of 4E Modern: Vehicles & Chase Scenes.