January 30, 2012

Exploring the Lich-Queen's Beloved: Part 3-1/2

This post continues to document the journey through The Palace of Whispers, as started here.
If you're in this campaign, don't read these goddamn posts. Steven.

This week, our normal Sunday morning Dungeons & Dragons was interrupted by the plague: almost all of us (myself included) had called out due to a heinous bout of the flu or somesuch malady.

So, to keep the players interested and thinking of the game and to keep the story moving, we chatted via email about the four divinations they were to receive regarding the dungeon in reaction to their use of the grim haruspex from last week. During that session, they had already gotten a question in, and learned that the Lich-Queen's phylactery was not located in Susurrus.

After some back and forth discussions, the player generally in charge of puzzles (Ryan) asked these questions on behalf of the group. My answers were, predictably, cryptic, and the last of these questions left me with some questioning of my own!

January 27, 2012

Vancian Magic in 4E

One of the recent announcements about D&D Next coming out of The Dungeons & Dragons Experience (DDXP) was that the Wizard class would be seeing a return to Vancian magic casting. For those out of the loop, Vancian casting refers to science fiction author Jack Vance's stories. The magic-users of those stories spellcasting came from memorizing vast, intricate formula that were so complicated only a handful of spells could be memorized at a time. Simply not enough room in the brain, as it were. This was the D&D spellcasting method du jour since the 70's, and was largely abandoned in the 4th Edition.

Largely, but not entirely. Vancian spellcasting can be equated exactly as if every power a 4E character has is treated as a Daily power. It's then a pretty easy jump to whip together a quick and easy option to introduce Vancian Wizards into your 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game.

To create a balanced Vancian Magic Option for your 4E Wizard, simply do the following:

  • Refer to all Wizard 1st Level At-Will Spells as "cantrips". It's way cooler and more fun this way.
  • Increase the damage output of all Wizard Encounter Attack Spells by a damage die or two. Some examples are provided below.
  • Change the frequency of all Wizard Encounter Attack Spells to Daily. Change the frequency of all Wizard Utility Spells to Daily. Increase dazes to stuns, and stuns to dominate, etc. You've got to really use your brain here and make intelligent changes, there's no quick and easy fix. This isn't actually so bad, as most Wizard tility Spells are already Daily.
  • On a case by case basis, change all Encounter and At-Will Wizard Utility Spells to be more powerful, in-line with an equivalent Daily Utility Spell of their Level.
  • Optional: Allow a Wizard to select a Ritual (of the appropriate Level or below) to cast as a Standard Action in lieu of a typical Utility Spell when he or she receives a new Utility Spell.

Done. I've used this in actual play; it is really fun, brings the feel of the older edition Wizards, and is perfectly balanced with the 2008-era 4th Edition Wizard.

January 25, 2012

The Lost Crown of Tesh-Naga: Play-By-Post

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love PbP

I'll be the first to admit it, I did not like the concept, the very idea of playing Dungeons & Dragons in a play-by-post format. Without the face-to-face aspect, the very heart and soul of the game is lost. If you're going to run a play-by-post game, sitting alone in front of your computer screen, why not just play a video game? I thought play-by-post was for D&D players who didn't have any friends.

I was mistaken.

Through the enormous and overwhelming success of the Fourthcore Team Deathmatch blog, which includes a heavy dosage of play-by-post matches, I have come to learn the strengths of a play-by-post format and have embraced it.

  • I can play D&D on the sly while at work. Blogger gets through the firewall, for the win!
  • It allows friends from across the globe to get together and play a form of D&D. If there were only some sort of official version of this concept, a "virtual table" of sorts. If only.
  • Everyone can play at their own pace, on their own time, only needing to spend a few minutes here and there out of their all-too-busy schedule.
  • Cold and calculated, the players of a play-by-post game offer a scenario to the Dungeon Master where they can bring forth their best ideas without as much of a time pressure. This is very useful for testing out ideas to the breaking point. If your idea doesn't get broke in play-by-post, then it's fool proof for a real game.
  • It's very fun, way more fun than I could have imagined, and way more fun than I'm sure you're thinking.

With that in mind, I want to formally announce that I am looking for players for the DMG 42 Lost-Crown of Tesh-Naga Play-by-Post!

Although the adventure has extremely high replay value, the adventure will be open only to players whom have never before read or played through it. If this is successful, I will run it again with a group of all LCT-N veterans. To those veterans out there: don't spoil anything!

To sign up, simply drop a comment below.

Your ability to comment on this blog is pretty crucial, so that will be your first test. I am looking for at least four players, but hopefully we will grab the maximum number of seven. Due to the special nature of this adventure, character sheets will be limited to fit the guidelines of the seven available character archetypes. More on that when you sign up. I'm looking to wait at least a couple of weeks to start this thing; so mid to late February.

Milwaukee Joe has provided a good summary of how the Play-By-Post style works, which can be found here.

I've spoken about this adventure before: here. I've temporarily disabled the links to make it easier to resist the temptation to look up all the goodies and spoil the fun surprises. That said, it's still possible to do so if you know where to look, so please do not go hunting for the adventure. You'll ruin all the fun!

January 23, 2012

Exploring the Lich-Queen's Beloved, Part 3

This post continues to document the journey through The Palace of Whispers, as started here.

This post will actually be recapping two week's worth of play. I always like to have some new, usable content for my readers with every post. Being as I posted the baseline conversion of the whole adveture already, I'm really looking to the additions and alterations I've made. These come mostly in the form of deadlier enemies and added deathtraps, so not every single week is entirely appropriate. This past week has been so; have at thee!

Warning: This is a long-ass post.

January 3, 2012

Exploring the Lich-Queen's Beloved, Part 2

This post continues to document the journey through The Palace of Whispers, as started here.
Picking up where we left off from the last game, the dungeoneers had (very briefly) faced Abilene the Iron Lich after stumbling into her throne room. Some very lucky rolls delayed the penultimate Level + 5 Solo villain of the adventure enough to give the dungeoneers a moment to retreat. Abilene had managed to cast a spell on the Shardmind Invoker of the group, turning his floating rocky body into a statue of solid steel. Failing multiple saving throws, he was petrified. Forever!

Or at least until the group found an old potion of flesh restored they had lying around. In this campaign, all magic items need to be physically present at the table in the form of a small printed card, or else it is unusable. It's a good method of keeping track of things, and makes sure that the players take some time taking care of their character sheets and whatnot. It does also place some burden on me, the Dungeon Master, as I'm responsible for having a printout of all treasure. However, I've found this to be a minor inconvenience. Also, dungeoneers are forbidden from crafting magic items.
Even though the group solved that problem/dungeoneer death very quickly, it hurt them pretty bad. That was their one and only potion of flesh restored, and it certainly won't be their last run-in with Abilene the Iron Lich. This session had a lot of fat trimming from the stores of magic items accumulated over the years, as the dungeoneers are looking to at everything they can get their hands on to give themselves an advantage.