Monday, August 25, 2014

Sleeping While Studying


If 5e Had Boobs I'd Marry It

I've been fooled by a fair amount of roleplaying games.  Well, fooled isn't quite the right term.  They didn't quite meet my expectations.  They seemed like they were the right tool, but in the end, they didn't provide the playing experience I had wanted.

Fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons was one of the big ones.  It took me two and a half years of playing to figure it out.  I could get better at running the game - I could 'master' the ruleset, I could house rule the thing up one wall and down another - and it was never going to give me what I wanted.  I wasn't even exactly sure what I wanted - but it had something to do with that D&D feeling I had back in the early 80s.

When Next was announce, I was mildly optimistic.  A sea change seemed to have happened at Wizards of the Coast - perhaps brought on by the tidal pull of the moon that is the OSR - and it appeared to be a good move in the right direction.

After the 4e fumble, I had gone back and played every single previous version of D&D - and a large selection of clones and almosts and sorta-kindas.  Some were good, some were bad, and some were ugly.  But even the best ones - old and new - didn't hold me for long - no matter how wonderful.  There were a lot of good bits and pieces in all the versions, and no one game seemed to capture all of the potential goodness.

The Next playtests were enlightening - and I gave my input were I could - but the whole thing had me nervous.  I really didn't feel like doing a lot of work to just get stabbed in the back - so I moved off to different old favorites like Traveller and GURPS.

Then, one day, all of the playtests were over and WOTC began dribbling out 5e content in a way that they've never done before - slowly and carefully and . . . generously.  Free shit all over the place.  A dirt cheap Starter Set that I'm sure they are loosing money on.  And then a PHB that just absolutely rocks.

On Saturday, we almost had two TPKs.  One was at the mouth of a cave full of orcs and ogres.  I swore we were all about the be pounded into paste - until the wizard remembered he had a certain, special scroll and lobbed a fireball over our heads.  WABOOM.  Sure, we don't have eyebrows anymore - but we had a gaming moment that you just can't buy.

Then there was the bit where we were facing down a room of ghouls that ripped through the front line like it was Swiss cheese and began to shred the squishy rear echelon.  Knowing my fighter was paralyzed and unable to help caused feeling of dread and fear to well up.  Not just anger at a tactical blunder or an analytically attempt to fix the problem - but actual emotions.  And it washed over EVERYONE until I rolled a successful save and opened up a can of furious vengeance upon the bastard fucking skinny ass eaters of the dead.

So I can sit and talk about mechanics all day long.   But that doesn't help explain why I am so happy with 5e.  The rules DISAPPEAR during play.  There is no chess board to strategize over.  The game is back in our shared headspace where it belongs.  Yes, you can have all over your fancy character abilities and whatnot, but to me, at least, none of it gets in the way of a good time.

That's a VERY subjective explanation, I realize.  And lots of games have that potential - not just 5e.  Maybe I'll formulate something more objective later and share it.  But that is the best I've got now.  But I'm whole hog in now anyway.  I'm willing to fully admit that I love this game.  It may betray me at a later date and I'll have to go to divorce court.  We'll get separate bank accounts and split up the kids.

But for now, 5e is my waifu.

:)

- Ark

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Playing Prebuilts in the 5e Starter Set

Lady Sarafina of Corlinn Hill
(actually, Joan of Arc from some Japanese computer game, but it will do)
I've never played prebuilt characters that I can recall, except at conventions or game demos, so when we began the D&D Starter Set, I figured my prebuilt fighter/noble would be a short-lived affair and I'd quickly move on to a character I crafted myself.

That was not to be.

The character's noble background, with it's traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws really brought the character to life in my mind, and Lady Sarafina of Corlinn Hill was born.  She's a short little 4' "11 blonde lawful neutral lady with the built in goal to CIVILIZE the area.  Throw in the fact that she feels responsible for the common people and she's greedy at the same time, and well, you get he cutest little megalomaniac you ever did see.  Her battle cry is 'I AM THE LAW!'

Burning Mountain Adventuring Company graffiti
While going through the first dungeon, I began to feel that Lady Sarafina would start to worry about the state of the caves afterwards.  Eventually, it might be repopulated with monsters again.  But even barring that, should some adventurer come through at a later date and see the butchery of evil that had occurred - would they ever know WHO had cleaned the caves?  Marking the caves in some way - tagging them - was essential.  She could mark them with her own heraldic symbols, sure, but others did help, so perhaps something else was needed.  Thus the Burning Mountain Adventuring Company was born.  She came up with an icon that symbolized her history and the history of the area since the eruption of Mount Hotenow and began tagging every dungeon, castle, and cave they cleaned out.

As the area became reasonably secure, in her downtime she joined the Lord's Alliance, began building and training a militia in Phandalin, set a bounty on trees and bushes that could create ambush points on any roads a day's travel from the village, started building watch towers, set up a company to build a saw mill and organize a construction labor exchange, organized prisoner work gangs to repair existing buildings, and organized the non-productive children in Phadalin into 'beautification squads' that painted the buildings in-town while she used her paint supplies proficiency to detail each of the buildings in glorious colors and shapes, working in her coat of arms and the symbols of her patron deity, Lady Siamorphe, into all of the designs.  She arranged for the rebuilding of Trendesar Manor as well, involving herself into some legal, but probably very unethical, business dealings that ensured her ownership of the land.  She digs into the town master's accounting books every time she can, looking for irregularities and questioning him on every single line item in an attempt to root out corruption.

She didn't ask anyone for permission.  She didn't ask what color anyone wanted their house.  She just did it.

Lady Sarafina is a tornado of law and order, spewing out justice and evenly ordered white picket fences in her wake.  The rest of the party just sits and watches the Type 'A' little lady like she's crazy.

Now that Lady Sarafina is third level, she believes she is ready to expand and forge her empire, so she is penning this note to the Lord's Alliance:

To My Fellow Members of the Lords' Alliance

Announcement of Intent

I am writing to inform this Honored Body of my claim of authority over all lands fifty miles in all directions from the town of Phandalin, in a bounding box from the Sword Coast and the High Road in the west to the Starmetal Hills in the east, and the Neverwinter River in the north to the Sword Mountains and the Kryptgarden Forest in the South.  This includes The towns of Phandalin, Thundertree, Leilon, Conyberry, Wyvern Tor, Cragmaw Castle, but does not include the city of Neverwinter or its environs.

Nefarious organization such as The Zhentarim and the Red Wizards of Thay are at work here, and their plans must be thwarted.  I intend to bring law and order to these lands and prosperity to its people and rule within the regulations, bylaws, and ideals of the Council of Lords.  Any military and financial assistance from the Lords' Alliance in furthering the cause of civilization would be welcome.

Should areas within my territory have a previous claim on them by a living, active authority recognized by the Council of Lords, I will hear and consider them, then adjust my sphere of control accordingly.

In The Lady Siamorphe's Holy Name,
Lady Sarafina
Daughter of Count Lander and Countess Olga of Waterdeep
Heir to the House of Corlinn Hill
Liberator of Castle Cragmaw
Mistress of the Resurrected Tresendar Manor
Protector of the Fair Town of Phandalin on the Sword Coast of Faerûn

I think our DM is laughing right now, ready to smack Lady Sarafina with a giant legal hammer soon - but hopefully not belore she marches with the folk hero/fighter my son is playing on the evil infested ruins of Thundertree.

Playing her while adventuring is just as fun.  She's the tank and races as fast as she can to the front lines.  Sarafina, when angered, will attempt to climb an enemy combatant and force his face into the ground. And when confronted by a charging owlbear - she will charge right back and attempt to grapple it.  This tends to leave her clutching an angry owlbear that is rushing through the woods, but that's just an occupational hazard. 

Her biggest problem is people that she knows NEED death, but she hasn't seen them do anything illegal or evil.  This gnaws on her greatly, and keeps her up at night imploring the goddess Siamorphe for guidance.  Well, she's just looking for a green light for wholesale slaughter, really.  Lady Sarafina isn't exactly a nice person.

Below is her current character sheet.  I took her away from her prescribed advancement path on the prebuilt sheet.  At 3rd level, she did not follow the Champion Archetype, but rather, followed the way of the Battle Master.  The maneuvers I selected under Battle Master makes her similar to a 4e Warlord in battlefield control.  When she hits 4th level, she'll go for the Sentinel feat, which further solidifies her control of the battlefield - front line especially.

I still love the way WOTC set that up.  You can pick Champion as a fighter and a stat increase at 4th level and go as an uncomplicated, but very effective old D&D style fighter, or go Battle Master with feats and have a 3e/4e feel and replicate a variety of martial combatants.  Or do a mixture of the two.  Your character can be shaped to fit your play style.

Be sure to click to embiggen . . .



Feel free to include Lady Sarafina as the crazed megalomaniac of Phandalin if it fits your Forgotten Realms campaign.  I think if you are forgoing the Starter Set, but are running Horde of the Dragon Queen, she'd fit quite nicely as someone to hear news about. Until she gets eaten by the dragon on the front of the box, that is. :)

All of the pregens in the box are pretty cool.  Well, except that rogue.  There is something wrong with a rogue that has a lower perception that EVERYONE ELSE IN THE PARTY.  But all of them have tons of potential personality to play with - so don't be afraid to pick one up and play.

- Ark

Dancer


Friday, August 15, 2014

Further Adventures in Power Sorting 5e Creatures

Okay, so I added to the Basic DMG monster list with the monsters in the pdf appendix to Hoard of the Dragon Queen.  That should be all of the official D&D 5e monsters that are currently available for free.  There are, I think, a couple of creatures in the back of the printed HDQ book and there is the Starter Set - but I'm only including free stuff.  I'm not including the D&D Next monsters because I think that all of those were beta and not relevant anymore.  Besides, I'm emotionally done with this project now. :)

Below is an alphabetized list that you can copy into an excel sheet and sort however you wish.  Note that the BDMG has two sections - one for monsters and one for NPCs, so don't get lost.  Enjoy. :)

Creature Challenge XP BDMG HDQ
Acolyte 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Adult Blue Dragon 16 15,000 Yes
Adult Red Dragon 17 18,000 Yes
Adult White Dragon 13 10,000 Yes
Air Elemental 5 1,800 Yes Yes
Allosaurus 2 450 Yes
Animated Armor 1 200 Yes
Ankylosaurus 3 700 Yes
Ape 1/2 100 Yes
Assassin 8 3,900 Yes
Awakened Shrub 0 10 Yes
Awakened Tree 2 450 Yes
Axe Beak 1/4 50 Yes
Baboon 0 10 Yes
Badger 0 10 Yes
Bandit 1/8 25 Yes Yes
Banshee 4 1,100 Yes
Basilisk 3 700 Yes
Bat 0 10 Yes
Berserker 2 450 Yes Yes
Black Bear 1/2 100 Yes
Blink Dog 1/4 50 Yes
Blood Hawk 1/8 25 Yes
Boar 1/4 50 Yes
Brown Bear 1 200 Yes
Bugbear 1 200 Yes
Bullywug 1/4 50 Yes
Camel 1/8 25 Yes
Cat 0 10 Yes
Centaur 2 450 Yes
Chimera 6 2,300 Yes
Cockatrice 1/2 100 Yes
Commoner 0 10 Yes Yes
Constrictor Snake 1/4 50 Yes
Crab 0 10 Yes
Crocodile 1/2 100 Yes Yes
Cultist 1/8 25 Yes Yes
Cyclops 6 2,300 Yes
Death Dog 1 200 Yes
Deer 0 10 Yes Yes
Dire Wolf 1 200 Yes
Doppelganger 3 700 Yes
Draft Horse 1/4 50 Yes
Eagle 0 10 Yes
Earth Elemental 5 1,800 Yes
Elephant 4 1,100 Yes
Elk 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Ettercap 2 450 Yes
Fire Elemental 5 1,800 Yes
Fire Giant 9 5,000 Yes
Flameskull 4 1,100 Yes
Flesh Golem 5 1,800 Yes
Flying Snake 1/8 25 Yes
Flying Sword 1/4 50 Yes
Frog 0 0 Yes
Frost Giant 8 3,900 Yes
Gargoyle 2 450 Yes Yes
Ghost 4 1,100 Yes
Ghoul 1 200 Yes
Giant Ape 7 2,900 Yes
Giant Badger 1/4 50 Yes
Giant Bat 1/4 50 Yes
Giant Boar 2 450 Yes
Giant Centipede 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Giant Constrictor Snake 2 450 Yes
Giant Crab 1/8 25 Yes
Giant Crocodile 5 1,800 Yes
Giant Eagle 1 200 Yes
Giant Elk 2 450 Yes
Giant Fire Beetle 0 10 Yes
Giant Frog 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Giant Goat 1/2 100 Yes
Giant Hyena 1 200 Yes
Giant Lizard 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Giant Octopus 1 200 Yes
Giant Owl 1/4 50 Yes
Giant Poisonous Snake 1/4 50 Yes
Giant Rat 1/8 25 Yes
Giant Scorpion 3 700 Yes
Giant Sea Horse 1/2 100 Yes
Giant Shark 5 1,800 Yes
Giant Spider 1 200 Yes Yes
Giant Toad 1 200 Yes
Giant Vulture 1 200 Yes
Giant Wasp 1/2 100 Yes
Giant Weasel 1/8 25 Yes
Giant Wolf Spider 1/4 50 Yes
Gnoll 1/2 100 Yes
Goat 0 10 Yes
Goblin 1/4 50 Yes
Gray Ooze 1/2 100 Yes
Grick 2 450 Yes
Griffon 2 450 Yes Yes
Guard 1/8 25 Yes Yes
Harpy 1 200 Yes
Hawk 0 10 Yes
Hell Hound 3 700 Yes
Helmed Horror 4 1,100 Yes
Hill Giant 5 1,800 Yes
Hippogriff 1 200 Yes
Hobgoblin 1/2 100 Yes Yes
Hobgoblin Captain 3 700 Yes
Hunter Shark 2 450 Yes
Hydra 8 3,900 Yes
Hyena 0 10 Yes
Jackal 0 10 Yes
Killer Whale 3 700 Yes
Knight 3 700 Yes Yes
Kobold 1/8 25 Yes Yes
Lion 1 200 Yes
Lizard 0 10 Yes
Lizardfolk 1/2 100 Yes Yes
Mage 6 2,300 Yes Yes
Mammoth 6 2,300 Yes
Manticore 3 700 Yes
Mastiff 1/8 25 Yes
Medusa 6 2,300 Yes
Merfolk 1/8 25 Yes
Minotaur 3 700 Yes
Mule 1/8 25 Yes
Mummy 3 700 Yes
Noble 1/8 25 Yes
Nothic 2 450 Yes
Ochre Jelly 2 450 Yes
Octopus 0 10 Yes
Ogre 2 450 Yes Yes
Orc 1/2 100 Yes Yes
Otyugh 5 1,800 Yes
Owl 0 10 Yes
Owlbear 3 700 Yes
Panther 1/4 50 Yes
Pegasus 2 450 Yes
Peryton 2 450 Yes
Phase Spider 3 700 Yes
Plesiosaurus 2 450 Yes
Poisonous Snake 1/8 25 Yes
Polar Bear 2 450 Yes
Pony 1/8 25 Yes
Priest 2 450 Yes Yes
Pteranodon 1/4 50 Yes
Quipper 0 10 Yes
Rat 0 10 Yes
Raven 0 10 Yes
Reef Shark 1/2 100 Yes
Rhinoceros 2 450 Yes
Riding Horse 1/4 50 Yes
Roper 5 1,800 Yes
Rug of Smothering 2 450 Yes
Saber-Toothed Tiger 2 450 Yes
Satyr 1/2 100 Yes
Scorpion 0 10 Yes
Scout 1/2 100 Yes
Sea Horse 0 0 Yes
Shambling Mound 5 1,800 Yes
Skeleton 1/4 50 Yes
Spectator 3 700 Yes
Specter 1 200 Yes
Spider 0 10 Yes
Spy 1 200 Yes
Stirge 1/8 25 Yes Yes
Stone Giant 7 2,900 Yes
Stone Golem 10 5,900 Yes Yes
Swarm of Bats 1/4 50 Yes
Swarm of Insects 1/2 100 Yes Yes
Swarm of Poisonous Snakes 2 450 Yes
Swarm of Quippers 1 200 Yes
Swarm of Rats 1/4 50 Yes Yes
Swarm of Ravens 1/4 50 Yes
Thug 1/2 100 Yes
Tiger 1 200 Yes
Triceratops 5 1,800 Yes
Troglodyte 1/4 50 Yes
Troll 5 1,800 Yes Yes
Twig Blight 1/8 25 Yes
Tyrannosaurus Rex 8 3,900 Yes
Vampire 13 10,000 Yes
Vampire Spawn 5 1,800 Yes
Veteran 3 700 Yes
Violet Fungus 1/4 50 Yes
Vulture 0 10 Yes
Warhorse 1/2 100 Yes
Water Elemental 5 1,800 Yes
Weasel 0 10 Yes
Werewolf 3 700 Yes
Wight 3 700 Yes
Will-o'-Wisp 2 450 Yes
Winged Kobold 1/4 50 Yes
Winter Wolf 3 700 Yes
Wolf 1/4 50 Yes
Worg 1/2 100 Yes
Wyvern 6 2,300 Yes Yes
Yeti 3 700 Yes
Young Green Dragon 8 3,900 Yes
Yuan-Ti Malison 3 700 Yes
Yuan-Ti Pureblood 1 200 Yes
Zombie 1/4 50 Yes

- Ark

Father and Son That Moved Too Much


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Power Sorting 5e Creatures

The new 5e Basic DMG has some guidelines for developing combat encounters, relying on XP and Challenge values.  It's pretty nifty, but it does rely on a DM knowing what the hell is available to build an encounter with.  I'm stocking some dungeons, so I whipped up a list of the Basic DMG creatures in excel that I could sort and order the way I wanted.

An ascending list of Challenge and XP levels seemed to be the most helpful to me - so I figured it might be helpful to others.  I imagine some of the rating will change in the future, monsters will be added, etc, but for right at this moment, it does it's purpose.  Enjoy. (All stuff property of WOTC. Etc Etc.)



Challenge XP Creature
0 0 Frog
0 0 Sea Horse
0 10 Awakened Shrub
0 10 Baboon
0 10 Badger
0 10 Bat
0 10 Cat
0 10 Commoner
0 10 Crab
0 10 Deer
0 10 Eagle
0 10 Giant Fire Beetle
0 10 Goat
0 10 Hawk
0 10 Hyena
0 10 Jackal
0 10 Lizard
0 10 Octopus
0 10 Owl
0 10 Quipper
0 10 Rat
0 10 Raven
0 10 Scorpion
0 10 Spider
0 10 Vulture
0 10 Weasel
1/8 25 Bandit
1/8 25 Blood Hawk
1/8 25 Camel
1/8 25 Cultist
1/8 25 Flying Snake
1/8 25 Giant Crab
1/8 25 Giant Rat
1/8 25 Giant Weasel
1/8 25 Guard
1/8 25 Kobold
1/8 25 Mastiff
1/8 25 Merfolk
1/8 25 Mule
1/8 25 Poisonous Snake
1/8 25 Pony
1/8 25 Stirge
1/8 25 Twig Blight
1/4 50 Acolyte
1/4 50 Axe Beak
1/4 50 Blink Dog
1/4 50 Boar
1/4 50 Constrictor Snake
1/4 50 Draft Horse
1/4 50 Elk
1/4 50 Flying Sword
1/4 50 Giant Badger
1/4 50 Giant Bat
1/4 50 Giant Centipede
1/4 50 Giant Frog
1/4 50 Giant Lizard
1/4 50 Giant Owl
1/4 50 Giant Poisonous Snake
1/4 50 Giant Wolf Spider
1/4 50 Goblin
1/4 50 Panther
1/4 50 Pteranodon
1/4 50 Riding Horse
1/4 50 Skeleton
1/4 50 Swarm of Bats
1/4 50 Swarm of Rats
1/4 50 Swarm of Ravens
1/4 50 Wolf
1/4 50 Zombie
1/2 100 Ape
1/2 100 Black Bear
1/2 100 Cockatrice
1/2 100 Crocodile
1/2 100 Giant Goat
1/2 100 Giant Sea Horse
1/2 100 Giant Wasp
1/2 100 Gnoll
1/2 100 Hobgoblin
1/2 100 Lizardfolk
1/2 100 Orc
1/2 100 Reef Shark
1/2 100 Satyr
1/2 100 Swarm of Insects
1/2 100 Thug
1/2 100 Warhorse
1/2 100 Worg
1 200 Animated Armor
1 200 Brown Bear
1 200 Bugbear
1 200 Death Dog
1 200 Dire Wolf
1 200 Ghoul
1 200 Giant Eagle
1 200 Giant Hyena
1 200 Giant Octopus
1 200 Giant Spider
1 200 Giant Toad
1 200 Giant Vulture
1 200 Harpy
1 200 Hippogriff
1 200 Lion
1 200 Swarm of Quippers
1 200 Tiger
2 450 Allosaurus
2 450 Awakened Tree
2 450 Berserker
2 450 Centaur
2 450 Gargoyle
2 450 Giant Boar
2 450 Giant Constrictor Snake
2 450 Giant Elk
2 450 Grick
2 450 Griffon
2 450 Hunter Shark
2 450 Nothic
2 450 Ochre Jelly
2 450 Ogre
2 450 Pegasus
2 450 Plesiosaurus
2 450 Polar Bear
2 450 Priest
2 450 Rhinoceros
2 450 Saber-Toothed Tiger
2 450 Swarm of Poisonous Snakes
3 700 Ankylosaurus
3 700 Basilisk
3 700 Doppelganger
3 700 Giant Scorpion
3 700 Hell Hound
3 700 Killer Whale
3 700 Knight
3 700 Manticore
3 700 Minotaur
3 700 Mummy
3 700 Owlbear
3 700 Phase Spider
3 700 Spectator
3 700 Werewolf
3 700 Wight
3 700 Winter Wolf
3 700 Yeti
4 1,100 Banshee
4 1,100 Elephant
4 1,100 Flameskull
4 1,100 Ghost
5 1,800 Air Elemental
5 1,800 Earth Elemental
5 1,800 Fire Elemental
5 1,800 Flesh Golem
5 1,800 Giant Crocodile
5 1,800 Giant Shark
5 1,800 Hill Giant
5 1,800 Triceratops
5 1,800 Troll
5 1,800 Water Elemental
6 2,300 Chimera
6 2,300 Cyclops
6 2,300 Mage
6 2,300 Mammoth
6 2,300 Medusa
6 2,300 Wyvern
7 2,900 Giant Ape
8 3,900 Frost Giant
8 3,900 Hydra
8 3,900 Tyrannosaurus Rex
8 3,900 Young Green Dragon
9 5,000 Fire Giant
10 5,900 Stone Golem
17 18,000 Adult Red Dragon

- Ark