Champions of the Nentir Vale β Chapter 3: Keeping to the Shadows
The following morning (once all your preparations are done), you once more head out from Winterhaven. This time you take the same route as a day and a half ago, north into the foothills of the Cairngorms, but without all the running.
Early on, you come alongside a caravan headed north toward the Three Corners region; you think you recognize a couple of the profiles in one of the wagons as belonging to the Stahls.
In due time, as you approach the mountains, the Watchtower appears ahead, a couple of birds floating around it in lazy circles; whether they are vultures or hawks or ravens, it is difficult to say from this distance. Eventually, an old grown-over trail branches off from the main road, heading straight for the watchtower; you follow the path, to the Keep on the Shadowfell.
Ahead, the narrow track widens into a clearing. Great piles of shattered stone blocks and scorched timbers dominate the clearing, sprawling out from its center to the edge of the woods. No plants grow among the ruins or within the clearing. The ground is bare dirt, and although the forest has begun to reclaim the path leading here, it has not intruded into the ruins of Shadowfell Keep.
Yet clearly someone has tampered with the ruins. In the center of the debris, stone blocks and timbers have been gathered into a pile. Someone has cleared a path through the rubble and pulled aside the wreckage to reveal a stone staircase. The staircase descends into darkness.
• Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's circumstances, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Abusive (Personal Attack)— Insulting the person, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Tu Quoque— Saying the person's inconsistent, not addressing the argument. • Appeal to Authority/Belief/Common Practice/Consequence of a Belief/Emotion/Fear/Flattery/Novelty/Pity/Popularity/Ridicule/Spite/Tradition— Using emotion instead of Fact. • Bandwagon— Use of peer pressure. • Begging the Question— Assuming premises which haven't necessarily been agreed to. • Biased Sample— Using a sampling which may not properly represent the whole. • Burden of Proof— Shifting it to the wrong side. • Circumstantial Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's interests in supporting their argument. • Composition— Assuming that the whole has the same qualities as individual parts. • Confusing Cause & Effect— Assuming that one thing causes another because they appear in conjunction. • Division— Assuming that the individual parts have the same qualities as the whole. • False Dilemma— Assuming that only two options exist. • Gambler's Fallacy— Assuming the odds have changed because of past occurances • Genetic— Assuming a perceived defect in the origin of a claim is proof of a defect in the claim. • Guilt by Association— Attacking others who agree with the claim. • Hasty Generalization— Assuming a quality based on too small a sample size. • Ignoring the Common Cause— Assuming there is no outside cause of two connected things. • Middle Ground— Assuming the midpoint of two extremes must be correct. • Misleading Vividness— Assuming a colorful anecdote outweighs statistical evidence. • Poisoning the Well— Using unprovable claims about the person instead of addressing the argument. • Post Hoc— Assuming that something caused something else simply because it happened first. • Questionable Cause— Assuming that one thing causes another. • Red Herring— Using irrelevant evidence to divert a discussion. • Relativist Fallacy— Asserting that a claim may be true for some but not for the speaker. • Slippery Slope— Assuming the inevitability of one event based on another. • Special Pleading— Claiming exemption without justification. • Spotlight— Assuming individuals that get the most attention to be indicative of the whole. • Straw Man— Misrepresenting the opposing argument. • Two Wrongs Make a Right— Justifying something unethical/immoral as response or pre-emption to something else unethical/immoral.
Response to those who like to compare 4e to a Video GameShow
Also, I find that the "D&D 4e is like an MMO" argument is often a sign of someone who is deliberately being obtuse and/or is potentially ignorant of actual MMO play. As someone who only ended a 6-year World of Warcraft addiction a year ago, I can say that most of your bullet points actually don't match up to the truth of it.
In D&D 4e, you can choose a hybrid, you can choose to play one class as though it were another (people played Warlords as Bards frequently, when the edition first came out, and Rangers were refluffed to Monks), you can focus your class on its secondary role (a Warlock who is more controller than striker, for instance), you can multiclass, and you can create a particular concept (a mounted lancer, a charger, etc.) within the mechanics via feats, choice of powers, and choice of skills. You decide which set of stats you use--are you a Chaladin, Straladin, or Baladin?--and you have ultimate influence on how your character turns out in the end. Yes, powers require you to be using a particular weapon within your class's available selection, but the powers are not themselves tied to the gear. Powers tied to weapons or armor are typically powers that belong to the item, not to the character class that's most likely to use it.
Yes, there are only so many powers available, and these will be what you do in battle; this is all that the designers created. Yes, there is a time-frame in which they can be used; this has always been the case, even in the days of Vancian casting. Yes, there are suggested builds, but you can routinely ignore those if it pleases you; the only parts of a class you have to take are the class features, and even those have options at this point. But the only way that this can be considered at all conflatable with MMO character building/playing is if you are deliberately ignoring all of that.
In WoW, you choose a class and you're done. No multiclassing or hybridization, no way to mimic one class with careful building of a different one. There is a firm dividing line on what is a WoW class. No secondary roles or creative concepts, either; you're going to be what the class sets out to be, and that's it. You'll always have the same stat allocation as another of your class, because you get set numbers as you level up, and you've got at best four options--and that's only the Druid class--to build, and if you plan on running dungeons, particularly heroic level ones, or raiding, you'd better not even think of deviating from the single defined best build on the talent tree for what you want to do. It was only recently, with the complete tear-down and recreation of talent trees for Mists of Pandaria, that there was a concept of there being anything but the one best build that people who calculated such mechanical advantages (the folks on Elitist Jerks, for example), and the people who did things like achieve "World First" at various top-tier raids set precedent for.
Also, no class will ever not have a specific set of powers; all Priests in WoW have the same baseline, with deviation only based upon their talent tree specialization, where a D&D4e player could take whatever power in their class pleases them. Any Retribution Paladin will be the same as any other in terms of powers, because that is what a RetPally is. Any Assassination Rogue will always have the same powers as another, etc. All powers are always on specific cool-downs, but will always be there when they start a battle, where a 4e PC might enter an encounter with only At-Wills, or without their Daily powers due to what plot has done up until that point. Furthermore, no power that is not already specifically tied to an item will ever "require" you have that item, to my recollection. Classes get all their powers based on class; gear only gives bonuses to stats, possibly cuts down cast times for abilities or cooldowns, grants temporary extra bonuses to stats (the latter two most often on the raid tier equipment), and on rare occassions an extra power that may or may not be valuable, as some are only special effects instead of valuable abilities.
Most honest/open response on why DDN needs to be InclusiveShow
I've always felt it is in the best interests of D&D to be as inclusive across the playerbase as they can be and still have a game. I've never felt though that making a game that was inclusive within a group was very useful or even desirable. DM's and players can decide amongst themselves what options or restrictions they want for their games. I tend to lean to the DM to make most of those decisions but again that is a group specific thing.
Having said that. I get the distinct impression that there are a lot of players on these boards who come from groups that generally ruled against their own desires. It's almost like they are an oppressed minority from a gaming perspective. I also get the impression that they tend to advocate against things that if available their fellow group members might like and vote them down on.
Do a lot of you feel this way?
Just for clarification...here are some examples... 1. Alignment restrictions as an option. 2. Alignment Mechanics 3. Martial healing 4. Races being included or not.
I know my perspective is not that I often play at tables where my likes are not represented. Instead, my perspective comes from the many years I spent being a bad DM. I was a bad DM because my guidance came from the books, and the books gave bad advice. The books told me that alignment was a useful approach to roleplaying, so I went with it even though it felt kind of weird to me. Now I know that, at least in my style of running games, alignment destroys rp. I trusted the books to give good advice, and it messed up my game. Now I'm much more mature as a DM, so I know how to take advice with a grain of salt. And I still learn new stuff every session I run.
I don't want future DMs to go through my problems again. There's a big enough DM shortage as it is. DMing well is hard.
The biggest thing I had to unlearn in my process of becoming a good DM was the idea that the game is a simulation of a world. I understand many DMs prefer a more simulationist approach, although I am always skeptical simply because I would have said the same thing until I learned and grew as a DM. This doesn't mean their approach is completely invalid, but it still gives me a personal twinge when I see a regression back to 3e era sim style gaming.
I also have noticed many groups where one or two old-school players run a whole group's playstyle because the newer players aren't even aware there are other ways of doing things. The newer players tell me stories of things they hated in the session, and I end up explaining to them how those things they hate are very fixable, and in fact are fixed in the newer edition of the game their older players have told them is terrible.
In regard to things like martial healing, I don't think it's necessary for it to be in the game for the game to be fun. However, the attitude that says martial healing is terrible and shouldn't exist is an attitude that, to me, reveals a wrongheaded approach to the game. Therefore, my fight for it to be an option is to help legitimize the more narrative approach that I think is what most players want, but many don't know is possible, because they've never been exposed to it.
Antsy stares up at the birds, speaking softly to himself, "Those are vultures. Gotta be vultures. Maybe hawks? Probably vultures. Definitely not ravens though. Nope. Not ravens." His mind made up, Antsy lowers his eyes and refuses to let his eyes tell him anything different. He seems distracted (from your experience, a common state for him) and almost stumbles down the staircase.
Armalia notices that Antsy has been muttering to himself more than usual, which worries her more than usual. Don' remember him wantin to be first in dark places either. Huh. When he stumbles on the staircase, she grabs his elbow and leans back, holding on until he regains his balance. Nerfertiti is behind her, and plows into her, unaware that the dwarf had stopped. Armalia casts her other arm out to keep the drow from pitching headlong down the dark staircase.
"Anybody got a torch?" she asks, not liking the idea of continuing downward without some type of light.
Flint grins as he rummages in his pack. "Come now, laddies, none of yous be thinkin' we'll be needin' a bit o' light here and there?" He pulls out a short sunrod snaps it with both hands, the inner glass container shatters to mix its insides with the outer shell. A bright, radiant luminescense grows stronger as the two alchemical components mix.
"Somebody else has to carry it though, cuz I'll be needin' both shield and sword hand I'm guessin'." He tilt his head and licks his lips as he thinks for a moment. "Worse to worse I can always tie it so it sticks out from me shoulders, but never know when'll take a hit from a glancing blow. Then it'll be all darkenss."
Armalia squinches her eyes up until they can readjust to the light that Flint has just produced. "I can see in low light, but not in pitch blackness. I also don' usually mind bein' underground, since I was born and raised in caverns. This ain't natural though. Did ya notice there weren' no grass or nothin' growin' in the ruins above? Green, growin' things know when a place is cursed. They stay away." She looks all around, keeping her eyes and ears wide open for danger.
Riardon takes the sunrod from Flint before Wil can reach it. "I've seen you fight. I think you'd be better having you had free. I, on the other hand, can easily carry it, and with its bright glow light will be far even when I'm in the back."
Back at the Inn -------------------- Nefertiti somehow manages to get through Antsy's innovative alarm system with minimal stirring from Armalia. She watches the dwarf sleep for several minutes before brushing her hair out of her face and whispering "You're the best friend I've ever had, Armie. Thank you." She then unrolls her bedroll on the floor and falls fast asleep.
The Walk to The Keep --------------------------- Nefertiti takes the locket off and walks beside Wil for a few minutes, a huge smile on her face (and only getting bigger as Wil becomes more uncomfortable). "So Wil, I figure you're on the fright line more often than I am, you can probably use this more than I can." She hands the locket to Wil and, with a wink, adds "Think of it as a thank you for always protecting me."
She then skips ahead to walk near Antsy. "So, I still think you suck for not letting me have some of your hair but I still like you, Antsy. And I have a vested interest in your continued well being so I figure you can probably use this." She removes the amulet she's been wearing and hands it to him. "It's served me well so hopefully it will serve you well...um....as well?"
As she falls back a step or to, she considers her sentence. "Sounded better in my head. Maybe Wil is rubbing off on me."
At the Keep ---------------- "Never really needed a torch. If we lose our light, I'll do what I can to keep us organized," Nefertiti volunteers, starting to feel more confident amongst the party. "Maybe I should go down first to keep any element of surprise...?"
Wil smiles back to Nefertiti. Though not quite as uncomfortable as he has a track record of being, he stills feels a bit awkward and wonders what she has up her sleeve. When she presents him with the amulet, Wil is taken aback by the gift. "I... thank you, Nef," he says quietly, and then repeats, more loudly, "Thank you!"
Wil puts the amulet on and feels his protective aura grow a stronger as magic from a new source flows into it. "Yes, this is definitely a boon," he says out loud to himself.
At the Keep...
Wil blinks as Riardon grabs the sunrod first. He nods after he's explained. "Fair enough. Might just be better than dropping it every time there's trouble, I- I suppose."
He turns to Nefertiti. "That could keep us from getting ambushed... But whatever's down there could also be as -- well, as good as seeing in the dark as you are." Wil falls into thought as he brushes his hair back with a hand.
Nefertiti pats Wil on the arm. "Thanks for looking out for me, hon but you don't grow up in the underdark without learning a little bit about tip-toeing. I'm not going to go crashing in there like Flint. Don't know if you heard the rumors, but we drow can be pretty sneaky from time to time."