Saturday, April 28, 2012, 7:43 AM
Categories: Dungeons & Dragons
So, I found a new gaming group with which to play D&D. This is the first time I've ever DMed a group that actually had the right numbers: I will be overseeing a group of FIVE player characters. For some of you, this might seem mundane, ordinary, and no reason to get excited. For me, it's totally awesome. In the 15+ years that I've been roleplaying I have never had more than three players for any extended period of time. Daniel was our fourth for a while, but... it didn't work out (I'll elaborate in a later post). Those are the consequences of living in a rural area with no hobby shop: if you don't know gamers, you don't meet gamers. The only reason I was able to discover D&D was that my local library had a copy of the 1st edition AD&D Player's Handbook (which I checked out and didn't return for like 10 years). Anyway, I thought I'd introduce my players here and, possibly, chronicle our rise to power. I've changed the names, since I'm doing this without their permission...
Shaun (Lanstaf, male human Wizard - Controller)
Shaun is actually a really close friend of mine, and one of the players that formed my regular three-player group years ago (back when I had a full head of hair). He is the classic power-gamer player type described in the 4e DM's Guide: he loves to be the best, the strongest, the most powerful. For this reason I was surprised when he decided to play a Wizard (he's usually the Dwarf Fighter).
The background story for Shaun's Wizard is pretty interesting. A long time ago, in the time before D&D 4e, there was 3rd Edition. And within the 3rd Edition ruleset there was the latest incarnation of The Forgotten Realms. And, within 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms, there was Lanstaf. Lanstaf (whose name means, literally, Long Staff... no innuendo. He was a wizard.) was an NPC that I created for my first FR campaign, and he became a staple character who helped the PCs through many trials and tribulations. By the time the campaign had ended, Lanstaf was almost level 40 and about seventy-six years old.
Shaun took the concept of Lanstaf, a very powerful Wizard, and decided that, just before the Spellplague really started, Lanstaf was sucked into a powerful vortex that put him in the Nentir Vale (in a different universe altogether). Lanstaf was young again (about 16-17, though he couldn't be sure) and all that he knew had become jumbled and vague. Magic didn't work in this world as it had in Faerun: he could no longer feel the Weave. So, Lanstaf sought out a Wizard in the Harkenwold named Lenthir and became his apprentice.
Lenthir was the Wizard in a now-disbanded group of adventurers that included Douven Staul (I added that part into the background). Before the first adventure (which will simply be the sample adventure from the DMG, Kobold Hall), Lenthir succumbs to old age and passes into the afterlife. Lanstaf, who had become quite fond of the old Wizard in the four years of his apprenticeship, decides to travel to Fallcrest to let Douven Staul know of his friend's passing face to face.
Ed (Adrik, male dwarf Fighter - Defender)
Ed is somewhere between the Explorer and the Slayer. He likes exploring dungeons and towns and villages, but if there's no combat he feels cheated. Ed is another of my three-man group, and has been a friend of mine for years (guess it's not really so much a new gaming group, as a couple of new players...).
His character, Adrik, is the youngest son of Barik - a successful adventurer-turned-merchant from Hammerfast, and a member of Douven Staul's now-defunct adventuring company. Adrik has decided to strike out on his own in the world, and chose Fallcrest as the perfect starting place to do so. He carries with him a letter from his father asking Douven to look out for his son, and possibly teach him a few things about adventuring, if he has the time.
Adrik's brothers and sisters have no adventuring spirit whatsoever, so Adrik is at once the black sheep and his father's unofficial favorite. Barik is very proud of his son and expects great things from him. Adrik, who is somewhat self-deprecating, feels a great deal of pressure to succeed because of this.
Pete (Erdan, male elf Ranger - Striker)
Pete is one of the new guys, so I don't really know what kind of player he'll be. He's one of Sean's college buddies, so I tried to get Sean to forge some sort of connection to Pete's character, just to make it a little easier to get everyone together.
They decided that Erdan is a member of the Woodsinger Clan out of the Harken Forest that had befriended Lanstaf (who you'll recall lived in the Harkenwold). He now travels with Lanstaf to Fallcrest to support his friend in his time of grief.
Liz (Finduiloth, female half-elf Cleric of Avandra - Leader)
Liz is another of the N00BZ, and my beloved girlfriend. Though we've never played D&D together, I have a feeling that she is going to be the textbook Actress type of character. She's so excited about her character and can't wait to play. During character creation, I suggested she use a mace. Her response was, "No. Fin wouldn't use a mace. She uses a quarterstaff that doubles as a walking staff." Who was I to argue?
Finduiloth is Erdan's cousin (her mother's side of the family is elven), and lives in Winterhaven in Avandra's temple there. She was traveling with a merchant bound for Fallcrest as a favor to Sister Linora when the wagon was attacked by kobolds upon the road. Finduiloth was able to help the merchant and his people escape from harm, but their wagon and all of their wares (including a certain dragon hide) were stolen. Finduiloth has accompanied the group to Fallcrest and takes it very, very, personally that she wasn't able to foil the ambushers.
David (Ulmo, male halfling Rogue - Striker)
David is Liz's pal, and assures me that he would be awesome at Dungeons & Dragons. We'll see, David. We'll just see...
Seriously, though, David is a really nice guy and I'm super happy to have him playing with us. Of course, I don't really know what his playing style will be since this is his first time playing any RPG of any kind, so it promises to be an interesting night. David chose to play the Rogue because "leather armor looks cool".
Ulmo is Douven Staul's student, and lives with the Stauls in a homestead just a couple of miles north of Fallcrest-proper. He is untested but capable, according to Douven, and is the only member of the group who knows that Douven is not at home - about a month ago he left for Winterhaven after some research pointed to the burial site of a dragon being located there. He asked Ulmo to look after things in his absence, and, should he find anything in Winterhaven, he'd send for Ulmo to come help.
As you can see, I've done my best to forge a few connections among the players in the form of Douven Staul (who actually becomes an adventure hook in H1: KotSF). Finduiloth and Erdan have little to do with Douven, so I made them family, which should serve to make the party a little more cohesive than just a bunch of random adventurers who meet up in a tavern on one fateful night. I have no idea what our first session (this Sunday, 4/29/12) is going to look like but I'm certain that it will be fun.
Hopefully, I'll be able to let you, dearest Reader, know "what's the haps". Thanks for reading.
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Friday, April 27, 2012, 3:53 PM
Categories: Dungeons & Dragons
As the title of this post might suggest, I'm tired of Hit Points (HP) and Armor Class (AC) as they have traditionally been handled in past editions of Dungeons & Dragons. Why? Well, there are any number of reasons.
1) HP are not clearly defined. Okay, Hit Points are ___________? The textbook answer is: an abstract representation of a characters ability to roll with the punches, dodge blades, and resist injuries. That seems like a cop out to me. If my character can dodge a blow, then I want to be in charge of whether or not that happens. If Hit Points don't represent "hits" then why call them Hit Points? And if lost HP don't represent injuries then why do I need to heal them?
2) AC means nothing if HP are what they are explained to be. If an attack beats my Armor Class, that means it has gotten past the protection offered by my armor. But, if my HP is affected it is narrated as a near miss or a glancing blow. NOT COHESIVE! If HP is what we're told it is, then armor should add to your HP rather than represent how hard a PC is to hit.
3) HP do not accurately represent the effect of someone getting stabbed in the back with a dagger or hit in the head with a brick. A character that gets stabbed when he can't defend himself should die, no matter what level his assailant happens to be. "So use a coup de grace," you say? Still, a high level character isn't going to die from a coup de grace if it deals 1d4+3 damage. It's not that I want to kill the PCs in my party via low-level assassins, it's just the principal that bothers me.
4) AC is static. I don't like this.
1) All I want to know is how many injuries a character can sustain before dying. West End Games' Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game used a system which I found very fun to use. You roll damage against the targets Strength score (STR and CON were just the one Strength score in that game, for those who need a point of reference). The difference between the rolls would determine the extent of the target's injuries: Stunned, Wounded, Incapacitated, Mortally Wounded. No HP. No constant amending on scratch paper. It was quick, easy, and effective. This would be a good basis for the next incarnation of D&D.
2) My armor class should represent the armor I'm wearing (plus shield, if applicable). Period. It should not represent any abstraction whatsoever. If my AC is compromised then my character should be injured.
3) See #1.
4) At the very least I should have the choice between "taking 10" (the standard AC) or rolling the d20 to dodge/parry.
I realize that I'm allowed to change the rules to suit my own campaign. And these thoughts could use some hammering out, to be sure, but the way I see it: the closer the core product is to what I'm looking for, the less work I'll have to do to make it mine.
Just some thoughts. Your opinions are welcome, as long as you don't make them personal attacks.
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