Black Ice Effects

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I haven't made it all the way though the campaign guide, so I apologize if my questions are answered in there...

 

What does the Black Ice do? In game terms? What if a character gets a hold of a ring, or an axe, or some armor?

I dont believe there are any specific game mechanics mentioned for the effects of Black Ice throughout the books, so as to keep them "edition neutral" though for use with Next I would suggest that such items have the Magic Item trait "Wicked" (see the Magic Items document in the playtest packet).

"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

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I gave my party 1 trinket of black ice yesterday (found during the looting of corpses). For the moment I am not having any ill affects, however the longer the person currently holding onto it holds onto it the more they will see each conversation and body movement as a threat to them in some way (even if it isn't) and won't know better.

For 4e, I might write it up in a manner similar to the diseases, but using Will saves instead. The catch would probably be that you can't just shake it off like other diseases, as long as you own the object. It's something I'm going to have to look over tonight on the Compendium and see how it I can make it line up.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

Perhaps require a Remove Curse ritual to break free of its influence totally.

"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/

Do you inform the players of the negative effects and hope they don't metagame avoiding the objects or keep it secret?

I keep the effects a secret, although I did point out that the paladin who was holding onto a trinket for several days was taking a lot of things as being threats toward him or people just rubbing him the wrong way. I am pretty sure he knows it is caused by the trinket by now but he is doing a good job of keeping Meta from Character knowledge.

This is my initial thoughts for how to handle the Black Ice:

I am making the effect depend on the weilder. How quickly that effect takes hold depends on the person being effected. 

  • Stage 1: It tends to make the owner contrary and very greedy, prompting decisions that are out of alignment
  • Stage 2: Extremely argumentative and paradoid, bending alignment to evil
  • Stage 3: Ultimately it takes over the mind of the person who then becomes insane and is unable to hold a thought for as long as it takes to speak it

For individuals who are already in one of those general states of mind, the effects take hold and progress more rapidly, sometimes very rapidly, and they become obsessed with the substance.

 

For items made from Black Ice, I am treating them as follows:

 

  • Stage 1: +1 attack for weapons, +1 AC for armor, choice of either for trinkets
  • Stage 2:  Black Rage: grants advantage once per turn, but places you at disadvantage to enemy attackers.
  • Stage 3: I'm too crazy to care what it does for me, I just want more of it.

If more than one item is owned, the bonuses do not stack, but the owner gets the feeling that it does and will seek to aquire more. For stage 1 and 2, the effects can be cured be eliminating exposure. For stage 3, the effects are permenant unless a Remove Curse is used.

  Here's what I did with my black ice weapons last game when my group got ambushed by a group of Baerick's followers.

  • All black ice weapons are +1 

  • Whenever a black ice weapon successfully damages someone keep a separate tally of the number of times they were hit

  • Whatever that number is the person who took the damage can not heal that many hitpoints from magical/shortrests

  • Effectively the persons hitpoint maximum becomes that amount unless they take a long rest and use their hitdice

  • This works both on players and NPCs/Monsters

 

  The way i described it was that when they tried to heal after the battle they noticed that the wounds that black ice makes lingers and the wound looks to be black/infected. They feel the ice seep in and start to effect their mind. I also have a similar idea for if a player decides to use one of the weapons. What I have planned here is:

  • Keep track of the number of times the player damages someone with the black ice weapon

  • After a set number (probably 10,20,30,40 so on) the effects of the black ice worsen

  • Probably base the save against the effect off the number the charges the player has but will work it out once a player gets there

  • Effects include becoming more greedy, paranoid, violent, lying

  • Probably the same thing for trinkets but instead of attacks I'll use encounter games (probably weighing them more heavily)

Groups liking it so far, they are very weary about black ice weapons now and if they have a long day fighting dwarves with black ice then I could see their hitpoints wearing thin.

The part I'm not sure of is that most seem to be saying the general effects are greed, paranoia, etc. How do you keep that secret from players? Seems they would have to RP those effects. I have doubts my party would do that. I see them just going, "my guy dumps the black ice object" and then simply avoiding them. Maybe I can just work in some physical thing that can be kept track of like Shoopful is doing, but without any emotional side effects. Though that pretty much goes against the story.

SublimeBW wrote:

I gave my party 1 trinket of black ice yesterday (found during the looting of corpses). For the moment I am not having any ill affects, however the longer the person currently holding onto it holds onto it the more they will see each conversation and body movement as a threat to them in some way (even if it isn't) and won't know better.

 

This is how I've been handling it. One person has a pendant. Whenever he interacts with an NPC I'll feed him a paranoid/threatening version. I've also been making comments once in awhile when he talks to the rest of the party. Like, "Aelar seems awfully interested in the pendant." I plan on playing it up as time goes on, only 3 days into the adventure.

 

The one mechanical aspect I plan on doing is if a person has a black ice object for a long period of time, say 5-7 days, or they are exposed to a large amount such as the ram from the Howling Fiend if they roll a 1 they are overcome with paranoia and make an attack on an ally. I might make it a Will save they have to overcome.

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Gonchar wrote:

The part I'm not sure of is that most seem to be saying the general effects are greed, paranoia, etc. How do you keep that secret from players? Seems they would have to RP those effects. I have doubts my party would do that. I see them just going, "my guy dumps the black ice object" and then simply avoiding them. Maybe I can just work in some physical thing that can be kept track of like Shoopful is doing, but without any emotional side effects. Though that pretty much goes against the story.

 

Well, you are correct that this takes cooperation from the Players, but if you have the right group, it could be lots of fun. So what you have to do is have a out-of-game discussion with your Players and just lay it on the table. This is what's happening with the black ice. It's a big part of what's going on in the world right now and I expect you to role-play your character based on the information you are given and separate player knowledge from character knowledge. Just trust me that it's going to be fun and go along for the ride.Tell them that each of them may learn different information about the black ice at different times and that this is player knowledge that they are not allowed to share with the other players. Admittedly, it might take some maturity, but really all it takes is a willingness to go with what the DM is giving you in the interest of fun. 

 

So the way you help them make decisions is by giving them saving throws vs. the effects. Do this at the beginnings of the session and call it something else, so they don't suspect what it is. Tell them to make a perception check or something, and record the results so you know who is thinking clearly. If they pass, the next check may be a little easier. If they fail, the opposite occurs. The important thing is that you track each effected person individually and give them notes that reflect their current state of passing saves. In my game it will be like death saves, 3 successes before three failures or you move to the next stage (see previous post for stage effects). 

 

So, for the greed example... If the party finds a black ice amulet, as the DM, you send a note to anyone that inspects it based on their current stage. In most cases, they feel like this would make them better at whatever they do. Either it's a bonus to AC, attack, damage, spellcasting, whatever. Make sure they realize that it's player knowledge that can't be shared other than to say that it makes me better at what I do. Make the power increase extream, like a +5 to attacks or something rediculous, it doesn't have to be true. You ultimately control the powers anyway, so while it really only gives a +1, the player and thereby the character, thinks it's much more powerful than it is. This might encourage a little competition for the item. And while the Ranger sees the item boosting his attacks, the mage thinks it increases his spell damage and wonders why the hell the Ranger wants it, he must be greedy.

 

To work around alignment problems, you just say that it feels right for your alignment because the item seems to have an ultimate goal that is in line with your beliefs. For good characters, they believe that in the right hands, this item could be used for good, but in the wrong hands, well, you know... Lord of the Rings stuff.

 

Don't be afaid to pass them a note that says they see another character do something that they didn't actually do. Just pass the other player a note too and have them answer you with a note. It could be something totally unrelated. Just so the players see notes going back and forth.

 

This doesn't have to play out very long before it will fall in on itself and the clear thinking players realize what's going on. That's fine too. At least they have figured it out first hand and have experience with the effects. Now they can warn others, who may not always welcome such wonderful insight.

 

It may work, it may not, but it will definitely be interesting. I can't wait to see how my table responds because they now have an amulet, a weapon and a helm, so the **** just got real.

 

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