Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Archivist

Have you ever wanted to play a character that knew a lot of information, be it about monsters, old lore, legends, history, or even life, the universe, and everything?

Most people will point you to a bard.

What if you don't want to be some spoony bard, all singing and music playing? You could tell everyone that you have a dark character, that sings dirges and gives dirty looks, but nobody would take you seriously, you're just the spoony bard, bein' spoony.

But if you were to look through some of the source books for 3.x you might find the Archivist. Archivists are seekers of dark lore and knowledge, they are similar to clerics, mostly in spells they are able to cast, though they can cast any divine spells, given that they can find a scroll of it. The class's abilities have to do with knowledge, for example, dark knowledge lets them give their allies bonuses against certain monsters based on knowledge checks based on the type of creature. Its an interesting class, and when I next get a chance to be a player, I will definitely consider it, even if its 4th edition.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post- a character idea

A lawful neutral archivist, the leader of his group of good aligned characters, even though he is borderline evil. He is not really evil, he wouldn't kick a puppy... Not if he was not benefiting from it anyway. He is the party's leader in the sense that he makes sure they get paid. Sure they can do whatever they want, but if they won't be well paid or have somewhere to loot, he directs the party to greener pastures if possible, and follows along unwillingly if there is no gain in terms of money, powerful items, or knowledge. For all of these things give him more power.

Now, if you excuse me, I have a druid playtest to read up on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Best Terrible Idea I've Ever Had

The other day, my mother and I determined the most efficient morally-questionable profession ever.

But I can never tell, for I cannot unleash such a concept on the world.

You mundanes have no idea what a burden us imaginatives have.

Monday, November 24, 2008

D&D session 5

I need to post sessions before the next one happens. Anyway, after defeating the kobolds and Irontooth in their cave, they were so close to leveling that I decided to have them go on the side quest to rescue Douven Staul to get that last bit of EXP. But first, we wrapped up the end of the kobold cave.

Having just defeated the kobolds and Irontooth, Aiur searched the cave to see if it is safe to stay the night and recover from the battle as Nieen tended to her injured teammates. As he searched, he found a large locked chest that he dragged into the main room of the cavern. He could not pick the lock, and Marric was unconscious, so as he was about to "pick" the lock with his axe, it occurred to him to check the bodies for a key. On Irontooth he found a pouch that contained a key that opened the chest as well as a message to Irontooth. Inside the chest was dwarven chain mail and over 400 pieces of gold.

We continued right where we left off, finishing the battle. I had to "hint" to my players that someone might have a key...

The Heroes triumphantly returned to Winterhaven, and go to the town lord's manor to let him know that the kobolds have been taken care of. The lord thanks them, and gives them their reward, which Marric does not take a share of. Aiur, Nieen, and Rameus leave while Marric stays behind and discusses his own debt with the lord. As they were leaving, a woman came up to them and asked them to go look for her husband, Douven, who should have come back home to check in by now, or at least sent a message. They agreed to look for her husband... but not before stopping by the tavern!

Worst adventurers ever. I really thought they were just going to head straight out and rescue the guy, but they decide to go get a drink first! >.<

While there, they talked to Valthrun "Val" the Prescient about
the pendant they had found. He looked at it and recognized the symbol on it as one of the symbols used by Orcus's worshipers, the Death Eaters. About this time, Marric entered the tavern with a bevy of halfling women, telling tales of his daring adventure, fighting an army of kobolds, and going one on one with the hobgoblin "Ironfang," Rameus right behind, agreeing with everything he says for a few free drinks. Val goes on to tell Nieen that if the Death Eaters are in the area, they would want nothing more than to reopen the rift and let Orcus into the world. With the old empire no longer around, nothing would be able to stop Orcus's flood of undead creatures from overrunning the town and establishing a kingdom of undeath in this world. Nieen and Aiur agree that it is their duty to stop this cult, no matter what. Aiur drags Rameus out of the tavern and Nieen asks Marric if he will help them save the world, and not wanting to look bad in front of the ladies, agrees. Once outside, he asks whats in it for him, to which Nieen replies that they are going to go to a keep full of treasure and he will get a fair share.

For how much of the area is humans, Marric sure found a large amount of halfling gals, and yes, halflings are represented in my campaign as they are in Dominic Deegan. Gnomes, as you will later see, are their evil cousins, and hard to tell apart unless you are too close or know halflings and gnomes enough. I really did think they would just go run out and save the guy, but they just had to go to the tavern! Now they are supposed to go save some guy instead of saving the whole world. They should have just gone to save the guy first! >.<

Even though they need to stop the Death Eaters from releasing a great evil onto the world, they had promised the woman that they would go look for her husband. They go to the dig site she had told them he is working at, trying to dig up the remains of an ancient dragon. Once there, they find several people, two of them halfling sized, along with two drakes in the center of the dig site looking at their findings. One of the shorter men called out to them, saying that they had to be down there to truly appreciate what they had found. Our heroes get about half way down the slope when the talkative one, now recognizable as a gnome, yells out, "NOW!" With that, the people in the dig site suddenly attacked them, catching them off guard. Aiur slid down the side of the ramp as the gnome commanded the drakes to attack Nieen. Rameus, who had already started drinking as an alternative to looking at whatever had been dug up, scorched one of the human rabble that the gnome had hired as Marric and Nieen prepared to do some damage. The remaining rabble tried to thwart our heroes best they could, but they quickly fell to their weapons, and the other gnome stayed back while slinging stones at Aiur. Eventually the gnomes met their end, and the group began looking for Douven.

The second gnome was actually a halfling, but I decided that gnomes and halflings dislike each other, since in my D&D setting (slightly off from typical D&D setting) gnomes are closer looking to halflings and evil and therefore would not be working together. Also, with this battle, the characters got to level 2!

Nieen hears a noise coming from something covered with a blanket, upon investigating it they find Douven tied and gagged. After releasing him, he tells them that the gnomes were there looking for an artifact in the dragon's hoard- a mirror. He tells them that he is not quite sure what it is from or for, but that the gnomes seemed happy to find it. They checked the bodies and found some gold, and Douven went over to one of the gnomes and took a locket off of him, opened it up and smiled. He then walked up to Aiur and explained that the gnome had taken the locket with a picture of his wife from him, and after removing the picture, gave it to Aiur saying that it was a magic, protective item, which Aiur accepted graciously. The party then escorted him back to town, much to the happiness of Douven's wife.

Phew! finally done! Now to do the next one before we have another session!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blog Status

Wow, its hard to believe that this blog is already in it's 3rd month...

Even harder to believe that I feel like the quality is slipping, considering it was not that great to begin with.

I am two sessions behind on posting the tales from the D&D game that I am running, and got far too lazy with the "Shifty Shifter" and the "PHB2 Speculation" posts. Over the next few days I will catch up on the sessions, and rework those posts I just mentioned. I know I don't have many readers (if any), but I would like to keep things up to a certain level of quality.

If anyone reads this, post a comment and let me know what you think. I'd hate to think that even my friends don't read this. : (

Alright! I got both of the posts reworked (though I may add more to the Shifty shifter post) and posted one of the sessions. Almost there!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

D&D Fun: Player's Handbook 2 Speculations

It is still a ways off, but while hanging out with some fellow geeks, we got onto the topic of the next player's handbook. Several of the classes and races were excluded from the first one and we were wondering what was going to go into PHB2. This will be the third form of this post, the first being speculation found on forums, the second being a condensed version of that, and the third being whatever follows.

First, lets start with classes. Personally, I am expecting two divine classes, two arcane, and the addition of four primal. This would balance out the first four power sources: Martial, Divine, Arcane, and Primal, giving them all four classes each(or six for arcane, if you include swordmage and artificer), or as I have come to think of it, enough for a supplement book. Beyond that, you could get into the argument of what roles they will make the new classes, but I have a chart for my own personal use and am not going into it any further. At least not here. I believe that the next PHBs will have the other power sources, named in the first PHB as Ki (monks), Psionic (psions), Elemental, and Shadow.

Currently there are two classes available for playtest on the D&D website that are not expressly mentioned to be in a different book. Those classes are Barbarian (primal) and Bard (arcane), while Druid (almost certianly primal)and Invoker ( expected to be divine and is an entirely new class), have been announced for playtest in December. Other classes that have been mentioned are sorcerer (expected to be arcane), shaman, warden (both expected to be primal), and avenger (expected to be divine).

Races seem to be all figured out, given the clues. Five new races: Gnomes, Half-Orcs, Shifters, Goliaths, and Devas (the 4e name for Aasimar, which are the angelic equivalent of Tieflings), although some of them do not really count as new, hainvg been in the monster manual. While looking around for information about them it seems that they are considered to be as good as confirmed. To be honest though, none of the new races really interest me all that much, Devas are cool, but the new name is kinda lame... especially since they changed it because "aasimar" made them think of the word "ass" too much, from what I understand anyway. But now I cant help but think that if I ever make one, I'll end up RPing him as a 'fabulous' Deva...

Moving on though, since the races in the PHB2 don't really interest me, I am looking forward to the Monster Manual 2, to see what new playable monster races it has... But since that is still a ways away, its nice to know that December's Manual of the Planes is supposed to have a new monstrous race entry.

This guy has a compilation of all the information that has been released about many of the books, so definitely something to watch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Barbarian with a thesaurus

Ok, what do you think about this:

A barbarian who talks at about Tarzan level, "Me Tarzan, you Jane." but every once in a while throws in a really complex word, "Krug exterminate tiny gob!" Maybe even more exaggerated, by using words that the other characters may have not even heard of, using it perfectly: "Krug extirpate tiny gob!", "Krug hit infinitesimal gob!" and the like.

I think it could be pulled off. Probably not by me, but it could be.

Do I actually have any readers? you can post comments, you know. And its about time that I post about something that isn't specifically D&D.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

D&D fun: Shifty character

I was going to make a post about PHB2 speculations, but I got distracted.

When the character creator finally getting released, I decided that I would work on a character idea I had thought of: extreme shifter!

Basically, a character that moves around enemies like nobody's business. When a character shifts, they do not provoke an attack of opportunity while passing or moving away from enemies. This would make a character who could get past stronger enemies and get to weaker ones, or move in, strike, and move away without giving the enemy a chance to him them.

Using the character creator and the D&D compendium I found everything that would make a good shifter.

Shifty Races:
kobold: best choice, can shift at-will as a minor action.
goblin: second choice, can shift when missed by an attack.
elf: third choice, can ignore difficult terrain while shifting, not great, but fits to some extent.
shifters, longtooth and razorclaw: has shifter in the name, good for a "shifty shifter" title. otherwise pointless.

I decided to make my character a kobold, as being able to shift one square every turn as a minor action seems the best option.

Shifty Classes:
The only good option here is ranger, and personally I think the two-weapon fighting style is perfect for this.

Ability Scores:
A ranger;s main ability scores are Strength, Dexterity, and Wisdom, but since Dexterity is mainly for ranged attacks, it is not as much of a concern, and the kobold's racial bonus gives it a boost anyway. Several of the shifting abilities let the character shift a number of squares in relation to his Wisdom modifier, so that becomes the main stat for this character. Damage is the next largest concern, making Strength next, followed by Dexterity for defense, Constitution for health, and Intelligence and Charisma as dump stats.

Wis - 16 (+3 mod)
Str - 16 (+3 mod)
Dex - 13+2 racial bonus = 15 (+2 mod)
Con - 11+2 racial bonus = 13 (+1 mod)
Int - 10 (0 mod)
Cha - 8 (-1 Mod)

At will powers: Hit and Run and Twin Strike.
Hit and run effectively works as shifting for the first square when moving away, and although Nimble Strike lets you shift, it requires a ranged weapon, so doesn't work with the close combat purpose of this character. Twin Strike works perfectly fine for more damage or careful strike for accuracy, this guy is going for damage, so I pick Twin Strike.

LVL 1 Encounter: Evasive Strike
Before or after the attack you can shift (1+Wisdom modifier) squares, before or after you attack. Perfect!

LVL1 Daily: Sudden Strike
On hit, shift 1 square and make a second attack against the target.

LVL1 Feat: Agile Hunter
Lets you shift as a free action after getting a critical! A good way to add insult to injury.

Adventurer's kit, every adventurer needs one.
Hide armor, light armor so Dex Mod is added to AC.
2 Scimitars, oh what fun!
Short bow + 30 arrows, just in case.

Name: (only time will tell)
Alignment: Neutral Good
Deity: Bahamut
Height: 3'8"
Weight: 70 lb
Age: 25

Level Ups:

LVL 2 Utility: Yield ground
An immediate reaction that lets you shift away (wis mod) squares.
LVL 2 Feat: Fluttering leaf style
Allows you to move an extra two squares after using hit and run. (from the gladiator article in dragon 368)

LVL 3 Encounter: Cut and Run
Make two attacks, and shift (1+wis mod) squares after the first or second attack.

The Character creator only goes to third level, though I may have another post to have the character progress further.

Other Shifty feats:
from players' Handbook:
Avandra's Rescue: if you want to multiclass into cleric, this would let you switch places with another party member by shifting, not great, but works.
from the gladiator article in dragon 368:
Deft Footwork: allows you to shift in the place of an opportunity attack.

Shifty Paragon paths:
Beast stalker: has action shift, which lets the character shift as a minor action for the rest of the encounter as a minor action (Good for everyone but kobolds, unless you can talk your GM into making so that you can shift 2 as a minor.) Hunters grace lets you shift up to your move if you go first during an encounter (and it helps you get there if you have training in stealth), but the other abilities don't really work, as they are for ranged weapons.
Draeven Marauder:
for those who multiclass into fighter. although its made for using spears, it has a feature and two abilities that let you shift 3 squares. (this is from dragon magazine 365, look for the cormyr section)

It would be a fun character to play but eventually the DM will get tired of it and decide to squish you how ever he can.

anti-shifting monsters:
Cyclops Hewer, death knight, dragonborn soldier, githzerai Cenobite, Hippogriff Dreadmount, kobold dragonshield, Orcus, Aspect of Orcus, spectral panther, Rakshasa warrior, Sahuagin raider, longtooth hunter, skeletal tomb Guardian, sword wing, and war troll.

I make people think twice before using my ideas.

Edit: Ah! I found that the water soul Ganasi from the forgotten realms guide has a shifting racial power as well!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

D&D session 4

So it is now official that the group is now just down to me, Ky, and Kami. This would not bug me as much if that did not mean that there is an equal amount of players and NPCs in the adventuring group, and for a short time more NPCs. But the game must go on. Now, where were we?

When we had last seen our heroes, they had just defeated a kobold ambush and were recovering from the battle. Amongst the kobold's possessions, a necklace with an obsidian dragon figurine that had a skull with ram's horns etched into it. Despite their religious training, Nieen and Aiur did not know the significance of the symbol, Luckily, Rameus recognized it as an abstract symbol for the demon god Orcus. About that time, another kobold walked up to them and casually attempted to make conversation.

Lol, religion checks. Its pretty bad when the wizard has to tell the cleric and paladin the religious significance of something. Enter new character.

The kobold, who had gold colored scales, introduced himself as Firebeard, the dwarf sorcerer.

The party stared for a while, then Aiur stated, "But you are a kobold."

Firebeard, somewhat flustered, mumbled something about people thinking he was a kobold a lot lately, and then replied that he was, in fact, a dwarf. Aiur quickly devised a test to see if he truly was a dwarf, and asked him what his favorite drink was, to which Firebeard quickly replied that it was Ale. Nieen realized that this was a somewhat silly way to check if someone was a dwarf, and remained unconvinced. The arguing continued for some time, and tempers flared, but Firebeard convinced them that he wanted to help them eradicate the kobolds and that he knew where the kobold camp was. After they finished their resting, they continued on towards the kobold camp.

Ugh... When I had my other players (they had one, quick session separate from these characters) met Firebeard, the accepted him quickly. These players, on the other hand, would not accept him, Aiur called him a faker. FIREBEARD BELIEVES HE IS A DWARF! Firebeard was my masterpiece! A truly interesting character, with a complex background, and they couldn't get over the fact that he was a kobold, sure they have fought nothing but kobolds up to this point, but he had gold scales... maybe i did not stress that enough... Bah, I'll just kill them next session... Heh, heh, heh... By a gnome no less! XD

Once they reached the camp they found that the kobolds had set up their camp next to a waterfall, and quickly made plans for their attack. They jumped out of the bushes surrounding the camp, catching the kobolds off guard. The party began to slaughter the kobolds, first going after a larger one that stood inside a magic circle. Reinforcements quickly came to the aid of the fighting kobolds, but were quickly cooked to a crisp by Firebeard and drunken Rameus, who found that drinking seemed to help his magical abilities. When he realized that they were losing, one of the kobolds screamed that 'Irontooth' needed to be warned, and began to flee towards the waterfall. Firebeard shot a frostbolt at the kobold, freezing him in place, giving Marric a chance to finish him off.

Wow, it seems like I am only talking about the NPCs... XD The PCs are pulling their weight, but to be honest, they just aren't as interesting to write about. Although Nieen learned to use her ranged attack, its much more entertaining to note that Rameus had somehow become the drunken master of wizardry. In case you are wondering how I have a character with the sorcerer class (I know you aren't) I'll put it in later in this post.

After the last of the kobolds were defeated, they peeked behind the waterfall to find that the kobold's base continued inside. Once again they got the jump on the kobolds, catching them off guard and killing some before they had a chance to react. Once they took to the fight, they fought hard, knowing that failure meant death. Our heroes fought back harder, quickly wearing down the kobolds, who were calling into the shadows of the cave for help. And they got it. More kobolds appeared, lead by a tough looking, battle scarred goblin who taunts the party, calling himself Irontooth. Aiur challenges Irontooth, and instructs the rest of the party to take care of the rest of the kobolds. Marric has a knife fight with one of the kobolds, Rameus takes care to not torch his teammates while doing as much damage as possible, and Nieen hits whatever kobold she can while keeping her team in top condition. Nieen manages to notice that one of the reinforcement kobolds is none other than Dak Ness, the black scaled kobold.

Ah, the plot thickens! The boss emerges and Dak Ness returns! I don't even think that my players even though much about the fact that the kobolds were being lead by a gob... (which may be why I am ever so subtly putting it here) The whole idea of Dak Ness was further embraced when I came up with the idea for Firebeard (you will see why soon) but the heroes were not really trusting the 'dwarf' sorcerer, so it kinda put a dent into those plans... We'll see what becomes of ol' Dak.

While the battle raged on, Dak Ness noticed Firebeard, and called out to him, calling him Bryt. This seemed to confuse Firebeard, who decided that the best coarse of action would be to fireball Dak, causing the two of them to battle, ignoring all else, except for one occasion where Nieen yelled at him to attack another one of the kobolds. Eventually most of the kobolds were felled, and while nearing death, Firebeard realized that he was Bryt Ness, a member of the kobold tribe they were attacking. The very powers he had mastered to protect his tribe had scarred his brain, making him forget who he was... He apologized to his brother Dak, and the party, telling them to tell his sweet heart that he loved her. He then ran to the far side of the room, and took his own life. In death, the magical energies consumed his body, erupting in an explosion that burned Irontooth, and pushed Dak back into the shadows of the cave.

*sniff* He had the heart of a champion... *sniff* and the worst part is... he never actually told them who his sweet heart was... Her name is Bonnie, she is one of the local dwarf farmers, and had found Firebeard, starving and having forgotten who he was. She felt sympathy for him and nursed him back to health, and told him he was a dwarf named Firebeard. He worked on her farm for a while, eventually learning how to control his powers, which Bonnie figured must be sorcery. Eventually the two fell in love. When the kobolds started attacking the farms in the area, he decided that his powers needed to be used to stop the kobolds before Bonnie's farm got attacked. More on Firebeard's elaborate back story later, back to the story!

The party finished off the last of the kobolds, and focused their attacks at Irontooth. He got in a few good hits, but eventually he fell to our heroes. After the final blow was dealt, Irontooth cries out, "Kalarel! Lord Orcus! Prepare my way!" The party was so weakened by the battle, that they had to camp in the cave after making sure it was safe.

We ended the session there, and called it a night.

Anyway, the rest of Firebeard's back story-

It was prophesied that when two kobolds were born from the same egg, one with golden scales and one with pure black scales, the two would eventually fight, and the winner would determine the fate of the tribe. if the golden one survived, then the tribe would flourish, if the black one lived, the tribe would fall into ruin. when the twin kobolds were born, Never being told of the prophesy. The golden one was taught the ways of kobold magic, powerful but unstable at best, and the black scaled one was made a lowly servant. One day, the magic backfired on the golden scaled one and erased his memories, causing him to wander until he was found starving by a local dwarf farmer.

Nobody ever said that the prophesy would not be fulfilled when the battle between the brothers was happening.

Firebeard was mostly based on the kobold wild mage from dragon magazine 364 with a few changes- I never actually used wild surge, just wild magic, as an attack, and I never had him use wild teleport. I lowered his stats, hp, and defenses, I don't recall why, maybe I was trying to use the normal character rules or make him level one.

HP- 31 bloodied- 15
surges - 6 surge value - 7
INIT- +1 Speed- 6
AC- 14, FORT-10, REF-12, WILL-15
STR- 8 (-1), CON-10 (0), DEX-12 (+1)
INT- 10 (0), WIS-12 (+1), CHA- 16 (+3)

melee attack- dagger- standard, at will, weapon
STR vs AC; 1d4 + STR damage

ranged attack- wild magic- standard, at will, implement and fire, cold, lightning, or poison
ranged 10 CHA vs REF; on hit roll 1d4 for effect-
1- flame bolt; 1d6 + CHA fire damage and ongoing 3 fire (save ends)
2- frost bolt; 1d4 + CHA cold damage and immobolized (save ends)
1- lightning arc; 1d6 + CHA lightning damage and dazed (save ends)
2- venom bolt; 1d4 + CHA poison damage and ongoing 3 poison and slowed (save ends)

wild blast (when brought to 0 hp)
when slain, explode- close burst 2; +10 vs REF 2d6 + CHA fire, cold, and lightning damage

shifty- minor, at will
shift one square

RIP, Firebeard...