Results for tag: Analysis
Posted by: Alas on Feb 14, 2012 at 02:53:28 PM
The "milestone" is an abstract achievement in 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. The party earns a milestone every second encounter (or so-- see page 123 of the DMG) that they complete before taking an extended rest. So, two encounters to the first milestone, four encounters to the second milestone, and so on. Take an extended rest, and the milestone "counter" resets. What does the milestone actually do?
For that last line to make sense, you have to remember that when 4th edition was first published, characters could only use one magic item daily power per tier, per day....
Posted by: Alas on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:45:55 PM
If you were to look at my roster of characters in the Character Builder, you'd notice a preponderance of the following:
They're mostly arcane, and they all have some pretty flashy class features. But what really draws me to these options is that they rely on Constitution as the primary or secondary ability score. Why should such a design choice appeal to me to the exclusion of others? Obviously, a high Constitution score offers better hit points, more healing surges, and a good Fortitude score, but I think my preference has more to it than liking survivability and well-rounded defenses.
For most of the life of Dungeons & Dragons, Constitution...
Posted by: Alas on Jan 14, 2012 at 06:42:09 PM
When I get to musing about the mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons, I often lose sight of the actual play experience those rules are intended to produce. Picking apart attack bonuses and comparing monster abilities can rapidly descend (or ascend, depending on one's mood) into pure mathematics or ontology. Now that Wizards of the Coast has openly started discussing a new edition of D&D, I find it helpful to draw myself a little reminder of what I want my game to look like. Consider it a restatement of my assumptions (or expectations).
To that end, Figure 1:
The Dungeon Master sits at one end of table to gain a good view of all the players and the shared space in the middle. Before the DM sit notes for the evening's session, and a copy of the most frequently consulted rules.
The Players sit...
Posted by: Alas on Jan 6, 2012 at 11:31:20 PM
To continue talking about mounts in 4th edition D&D, I'm going to put some existing mount options on a continuum of sorts. At one end of the continuum, the "mount" is very abstract: it is really just a narrative convenience to describe or explain an effect, and there is no creature there. At the other end of the continuum, the mount is more realized: it has its own level on the 1-to-30 scale, it has ability scores and hit points, and so on. Here's a picture of what I mean:
The "steed" in Spirit Steed (Glorious Spirit Utility 26) only exists in the flavor text for what is ultimately just a personal movement power. However, with Cloud Chariot (Cleric Utility 22), the power explicitly creates a vehicle and the creature to pull it, and they both occupy Large spaces. The entities created...
Posted by: Alas on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:33:43 PM
My D&D campaigns have never employed mounts as much as I'd like, leaving me feeling like I've missed out on an important element of fantasy adventure. Knights on chargers, Perseus on Pegasus, the fire-mares scene in Krull (don't laugh-- I was 8 when Krull came out and I believed it was utterly rad)… even plain old stagecoach chases in Westerns. With their speed and bulk, the presence of mounts seems to magnify the action in these stories. So why haven't I used mounts more often in my games?
Dungeons are not mount-friendly. The default setting for a D&D adventure is cramped, winding tunnels far underground. In those circumstances, a mount becomes a liability. Great for getting from the town to the more remote dungeons, and bringing treasure back, but during the real action the horses...
Posted by: Alas on Dec 3, 2011 at 09:38:45 PM
I mentioned in a previous post that I like to plan for a three hour gaming session, and prepare a "set piece encounter" for each hour. For my D&D games, a set piece is a dramatic scene in which the characters:
1) encounter a memorable person, place, or thing, and
2) have to negotiate, navigate, or overcome that element
3) at some risk to themselves
4) in order to move on to the next plot point.
If the scene I have in mind is missing one of those points, I still might include it if the other points feel strong enough. If a proposed scene is missing two or more of those points, I start to investigate whether I can redistribute the components to other scenes or relegate them to "off screen" action.
Here are some example set pieces I've used in the past three or four years:
1) The party...
Posted by: Alas on Dec 3, 2011 at 05:08:11 PM
I can't run a D&D game like I used to. I don't mean that I'm not capable of it; I mean that as I slide down the ramp to 40, my friends and I face a host of logistical challenges that have forced us to change the way we play.
When we first started gaming together back in college, getting together for a game was easy because we 1) all lived on the same campus or close to it, 2) had virtually identical class and work schedules, and 3) had plenty of "disposable" time. During our collective gaming peak, we participated in two to three different campaigns a week, meeting at 7 PM and playing for six to eight hours at a stretch. This schedule allowed us to build up to some truly epic events that were years in the making. Yet during any given game, we had plenty of time to spend on little moments...
Posted by: Alas on Mar 28, 2011 at 08:19:58 AM
In Advanced Dugeons & Dragons, player characters earn experience points through two basic activities: defeating monsters, and acquiring treasure. Gaining XP for defeating monsters is pretty straightforward, and should sound familiar to players of all editions: knock 'em down, record your points, and move on. Gaining XP for acquiring treasure is a little more peculiar, though, especially if you take into account the financial cost of levelling up a character. Let me back up and explain a bit more.
You see, in AD&D, merely reaching the target amount of XP to go from 1st to 2nd level is not enough. To actually level up, a character also is expected to find a tutor and pay for training. This training costs 1,500 gp...
Posted by: Alas on Mar 14, 2011 at 05:47:07 AM
Gaining levels in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is... peculiar. You may already be aware that in 1st edition each class has its own experience point chart, and that each class advances at a different rate. But! Did you realize that those rates also vary over time? For example, the fighter advances faster than the magic-user until 7th level; but the magic-user will reach 8th level first, and advance faster from there on... until 14th level, where there paths cross and the fighter takes the lead again!
Here's how it looks:
The thief and assassin already have a clear lead, and the paladin's already feeling a bit of a price hike...
But now the monk suddenly jumps up, and the druid is the "cheapest" class?
And here, it's starting to look like...
Posted by: Alas on Mar 13, 2011 at 11:26:41 AM
It bears repeating: I'm not trying to "fix" AD&D. However, I do like to think that picking the game apart and seeing what makes it tick can lead to a better experience at the table. AD&D, perhaps more than later editions, requires the DM to make lots of rule interpretations on the fly. I'm comfortable making those interpretations, but if I can anticipate issues before the dice roll, so much the better.
Case in point: while I was fiddling around with reformatting AD&D monsters into 4th edition stat blocks, I noticed that their Armor Class tended to be a lot lower than I expected. I had a little time to kill, so I decided to plug some numbers into a scatter chart.
Here's the chart:
Ugh-- Numbers is not exactly as robust as Excel, but it's what I have at home. The vertical is Armor Class...