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Masterplan Def Bug Update

Posted by Dennis

I've just seen a post on the Masterplan facebook discussions that the bug with imported defenses will be fixed with Masterplan 8.5.  Hopefully this will be out before next weekend.

A big thumbs up to the developer(s) of the program.


Masterplan Bug With Custom Creatures

Posted by Dennis

I've posted on the masterplan facebook about a rather painful bug with Masterplan and custom monsters and it's important enough that I thought it should get as wide a notice as possible.

Defenses on custom monsters are invariably screwed up.  Typically if you have NO modified defenses on a creature that you import from the MB then you'll get the right AC.  FRW though will typically be broken and broken on the high side like +3 to +6.  If you've modified defenses down very far then you'll see a corresponding increase on the + side of FRW.  So if you have for example FRW lowered by 5 in the Monster Builder you'll find F up by 5 and RW +11 in Masterplan.

You can fix this in MP by going in and modifying your monsters manually until there author gets a fix out.

My apologies to my players for not noticing this earlier.  Luckily for them I've only run two sessions using MP at this time and it really only drastically impacted two encounters.



Word Macro for creature printing

Posted by Dennis

Not sure how anyone else is doing this but I though I'd share as I know one person at least that does something similar to what I do.

I use the Monster Builder to create the player's foes and then use the Export as Rich Text in the app to get the data.  I paste that into a page in MS Word where it looks all nice and neat.  Unfortunately the monster colors are far from printer friendly (massive green, well cyan and magenta, ink usage) and they're not all that legible when printed.   It's impossible to apply a theme to them due their oddities in format so I came up with this macro to strip out all the coloring and set the text all to black.  Now they're very printer (and eye) friendly.

Sub RemoveShading()
' RemoveShading Macro
With Selection.ParagraphFormat.Shading
.Texture = wdTextureNone
.ForegroundPatternColor = wdColorAutomatic
.BackgroundPatternColor = -603914241
End With

Selection.Font.Color = -587137025
With Selection.Cells
With .Shading
.Texture = wdTextureNone
.ForegroundPatternColor = wdColorAutomatic
.BackgroundPatternColor = -603914241
End With
End With

End Sub


Taint System

Posted by Dennis

Tainted WarriorFound an interesting document about Taint which is similar to the Chaos of say Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game.  I was looking for some mechanics to help simulate exposure to the places and creatures of Darkmith and found this link.  There's no author'ship noted anywhere so I can't give any credit.  If you happen to know who came up with this document let me know and I'll see they get credit for it.

[Edit: Per a reader's comments this is a take on the Taint system from Heroes of Horror, a DnD 3.5 supplemental book.  Thanks for the info!]

The base premise is the characters are exposed to something or do something that 'bends' them mentally and or physically.  This can range from pyschosis to turning bestial and many other things. Â  Perhaps wandering the streets of Darkmith and the aura of evil and power that envelops that city might plant a seed of evil in someone.  Or maybe the touch of Liloth's powers driving one to stab a companion in the throat might leave lingering inclinations to repeat the action unforced.

We will see.

A few snippets from the pdf although a quick perusal shows some missing entries and some small typo's that could be fixed as well as generalized overhaul to fit my personal needs.

The Touch of Taint
Characters in the Vale that venture into the dark places of the world, or dabble in the waters of evil, run the risk of their minds and bodies becoming poisoned by taint. Mental taint, or depravity, can eventually send one mad, where physical taint, or corruption, can transform a living being into an undead horror.

Acquiring Taint
“Sometimes one’s soul can be filled with evil because of the evil of their actions. Sometimes all it takes is for one to pick up the wrong book...”

Committing acts of unspeakable evil
In cultures throughout the typical D&D setting certain acts earn universal condemnation amongst races and peoples with even the slightest moral code: murder, torture, genocide, and rape as well as fouler acts warp the mind of those committing them and result in the offending character gaining depravity.

This does not represent external evil creeping into the character’s mind, but rather represents the wearing away of one’s moral compass as characters begin to treat others as pawns and toys rather than as individual creatures worthy of respect. Even characters that describe themselves as “hardened” or “jaded” are not immune to gaining depravity in this fashion; indeed, one could argue that being extremely hardened to or jaded about the suffering of others is a sign of one gaining depravity.

Exposure to areas warped by evil
Whether due to the presence of demons, foul creatures from the Far Realms, or simply areas forever marred by evil of a less supernatural variety (such as the execution of an innocent man by a corrupt court, or the shack where a serial killer went to hide his “conquests”) can result in character’s gaining corruption through no fault of their own.

Typically, there are only certain areas in the blighted zone that bestow corruption (the area around the altar where innocents were sacrificed to dread gods), but in the cases of extreme blights, every square foot of the area might potentially bestow corruption. This corruption is typically applied to a character after a certain length of time and isaccompanied by a feeling of instinctive disgust that warn both the player and his or her character that it would be wise to spend as little time in the location as possible.

Certain sanity-rending locations that warp the minds of those who travel through them, like an area tainted by the energies of the Far Realm might very well bestow depravity instead as character’s minds break under the strain of sights alien to any sane man or woman.

Exposure to dread items
While tools and weapons both magical and mundane have no moral significance in and of themselves, the uses they are put to or the techniques used in their creation can sometimes result in them being a vessel of corruption or depravity.

A blade carved from the bones of a whimpering slave carries with it an imprint of the suffering of the one who “donated” the material for the blade and might whisper words of condemnation and hatred to a character who chooses to carry it, slowly increasing his or her depravity. A weapon wielded by a demonic general or an unknowable Far Realm entity might have acquired some of its master’s inhuman corruption, and might plague a wielder with disgusting growths. Then of course, there are weapons and other items specifically crafted by mad cultists or vindictive spell casters that slowly drive their wielders insane with lust for power, or that cause them to rot from the inside out.

Mental Condition -

Foul whispers cloud your mind with images of what you could receive if you struck your companions down. Once per encounter when an ally leaves a space that you threaten, the DM may choose to roll an attack with an attack bonus of your level +3 vs. the will defence of your character to represent the urge to take an opportunity to strike. If the attack is successful, you must make an opportunity attack against your ally. The upside is that your treacherous leanings make it easier to stab others in the back-you gain a +2 bonus to damage against creatures that you have combat advantage against.

Physical Condition

Internal Corruption (Ranked, maximum 3)

Your body is slowly consumed from the inside out by the corruption growing within you. While others cannot see it, it's effects are all too obvious-for each level of this symptom taken you regain 2 fewer hit points from a second wind and take a -1 penalty to endurance checks. However, the festering growths within your body make you unappetizing to creatures that might otherwise want to make a meal out of you. If a living creature makes a bite attack against you that deals damage, it takes a -1 penalty to all attack rolls and skill checks for each time you have selected this symptom, until the end of its next turn.

Image Credits


4E Status Markers

Posted by Dennis

ExampleI won't say I came up with this idea, cause I didn't but I thought I'd show these around.  I picked up a sheet of foam core $2, a roll of 1" magnetic strip $3, a bag of 12" sticks $2 and black magic marker $3 and some plain ol elmer's glue and fashioned these status flags.

I cut out 1" square foam core pieces, well technically slightly less than 1" square.  I also cut out 1" pieces of the flexible magnetic strip.  I cut the sticks into 4" long pieces.  Using an x-acto knife I cut a small hole in one corner of the foam core and glued a stick into it.  Once those were all dry I peeled and stuck the magnet bits to the bottom.  I have magnetic receptive game mats.

Using photoshop I made some number flags and some condition flags.  The numbered flags were glued directly to the sticks.  THe condition flags were glued to small pieces of drinking straws.

Now during play I can park a NPC on top of one of the flag bases and can easily see what number it is for the purposes of record tracking and announcing. Â  In addition as an NPC gets a condition I can drop a reminder on it.  By dropping them upside I can designate they go away at the end of the turn (turned over) or if they're right side up they're a Save Ends.  I made the status flags pretty generic without numbers because frankly having a marker for every freakin' option is just too much.  +X ongoing, -X to AC (F/R/W), Save Ends, End of Next Turn, etc and so on. The status markers are just visual reminders when a creature has something odd about it.

If you're mini's also have magnets on the bottom of them then they all stick together quite well and you can use the status stand to move them around pretty easily.  Otherwise you just have to be careful when you pick them up to avoid the mini from falling off.

Anyway for $10 or so I made 25 of these with a ton of material left over.


Trivial Combat Drain System

Posted by Dennis

ACES[D'oh.  There is a similar kind of thing that you can find here by GreyScott.  Different from mine but the spirit is the same.  I like mine better but then I like my kids a lot more than other people's kids so that's not unexpected.]

Barring dungeon crawls I don't really do trivial encounters, that long progression of 'gimmie' fights that a DM puts a party through to do a slow drain on their resources to soften them up for the BBEG encounter at the end of the work day.  I certainly run multiple fights in one work day but typically they're not quantified as 'trivial'.  Each one has a chance to result in death for someone other than the NPC's.

Let's face it, the vast majority of us have limited play time and expending that playtime in fights that are 'gimmies' seems wasteful.  Many of these single type encounters can be done using Narrative rather than combat.  But there are times that you do need to show the wear and tear on the group as they go through a long series of encounters but breaking out the mini's for each one just eats horribly into the time you have to play.

Lately I've been using skill challenges to drain surges from the group to simulate small but pointless fights as they flee pursuit through the swamps or try to hide from the hobgoblin tribes while making their way home. Â  But those seem rather flat.

So I'm considering something more combat encounter based and let the party use their combat values against some defensive value, kind of an abstract combat.

The key question is how, I like the 3 rounds and you're out system I use for skill challenges (duh or I wouldn't use it right?) rather than the three strikes and you're out that is the official system. And right now three rounds of combat are close to typical for the group at the level it's at and seems like a good place to start.

So primarily how to abstract something as tactical as 4th Edition combat is the big question.  I need to work in a way for the players to gain some benefit from the various level of powers, at-wills, encounters and dailies with the understanding that a daily used during an abstract combat encounter is a daily they will not have during that work day.  And we need a simplistic way to simulate buffage.

So my thinking is on any of the three rounds the players can elect to use an At-Will (base), Encounter (bonus), Daily (bigger bonus).  They will take their Attack value for that power, added the bonus for encounter/daily, and then roll against an abstract defense of their opponents.  This isn't so much to abstract their ability to hit as it is to abstract their ability to do damage.  Encounters and Dailies = more damage output.

Enough failures and they will be forced to expend a surge for each round. Â  So the most they can cost themselves is 3(4) surges per A.C.E. which isn't out of line with a trivial encounter.

But we also need a way to more equitably spread out the surges lost.  As we all know barring really hard fights it's typical for some (defenders) to go through an asston of surges while classes that can remain out of harms way might spend none.

So as a first draft let's see how this flies -

Abstract Combat Encounter System or ACES


To simulate resource drain for a fight the party is expected to win without much risk but without having to take the time to move to a tactical simulation.


The party will negotiate 3 rounds of abstract combat.  In each round each member of the party will pick one of the following, At-Will, Encounter, or Daily.  They will roll a d20, compute their attack roll and compare it to the appropriate DC for the encounter using the AC/F/R/W values as set by the DM.

On any round that there failed rolls are equal to or less than successes the members of the party will lose one surge.

On any encounter that the party does not garner at least one success they will be penalized an additional surge.


Characters /Attacks -

During each of the ACES rounds each member of the party will choose one of their powers to use.  If the power is an attack power that targets a defense, the character must roll against the appropriate DC/Defense as set by the DM.

If the power also enhances another member of the party then the player may grant/add a +2 bonus to another character's roll using the Aid Other rules.  If the power does not make an attack against an AC/F/R/W attack but it grants a benefit to another character then the player rolls against a DC+encounter level.  If they succeed then it counts as a success and grants a +2 bonus to the other character's roll.  [NOTE: Yes this grants higher 'value' to non-strikers in general but what the hell let's give them a time to shine.]

If the power is not an At-Will the character receives the following bonuses where appropriate:

  • Encounter +5 to attack roll / Additional +2 bonus Aid Other.
  • Daily +10 to attack roll / Additional +4 bonus Aid Other.

Monsters / Defenses / DCs -

The DM will determine the defenses / DC's of the encounter using the average AC, Fortitude, Reflex, Willpower of the encounter creatures.  You can also use the following values as an overall average across all monster types

  • AC = 14+Encounter Level
  • F/R/W = 12+Encounter Level

All encounters are assumed to be at the Easy level.  If you wish to simulate a normal or harder fight then add +2 per increase in difficulty that you wish to portray.

Experience / Loot-

The party will earn loot for the encounter just like they would have if it had been played out tactically.

They will earn full experience of the encounter divided by 3 multiplied by the number of rounds they succeeded at with a minimum of 33%, even failure teaches us something.  i.e. if they only succeeded on two rounds then they get 2*33% or 66%.

If they win two out of three rounds they'll also typically earn some mundane items of value.  By winnign three out of three rounds they'll also earn some items of higher value or items of a magical nature.

Sacrifice -

One per encounter a character can elect to sacrifice a surge and take one for another member. Â  More than one character can sacrifice for a member but each character can only sacrifice once per encounter.

Major Failure / Death-

If the group fails all three rounds then one player determined randomly is assigned a Death Strike which counts toward their three death strikes for the day and as such can only be removed after an extended rest.

Long Term Usage / Wave Attacks -

Sometimes you might want to simulate a lot of minor attacks, wave situations for instance where the party might have to face 5-10-20... etc trivial fights.

In this case you could instead of each encounter being three rounds, you just decide how many rounds per wave you want simulate. Â  Each round rather than once per encounter a player may sacrifice a surge for another player.

If a character runs out of surges they're considered out of the combat and the remaining characters incur a cumulative -2 penalty per out of commission character on their die rolls to simulate them being forced to 'take up the slack'.  If all characters are reduced to 0 surges the encounter is considered lost.

High Level Example: Goblin Warrens for Level 1 Party

Setup: The party has been tasked with cleaning out a goblin warren on one of the caravan trails.  The creatures have been causing issues with the caravans, stealing things at night from the strong ones, attack and pillaging smaller ones after driving off or killing the guards.

Attacks against the goblins have proven of little use with only a few killed.  But now the location of the warren where they're holed up has been found and the party has been sent to insure that one way or another the raids stop.

It's assumed that trying to deal diplomatically has failed and there's no point in talking to anyone but the leader of the goblins and the outside chaff won't talk.

So the DM figures it'll take 3 minor encounters to get to the inner sanctum of the goblins.  He chooses to do this with ACES to leave time for the big boss fight whether that turns tactical or roleplay.

The first two encounters are truly easy so the DC's for those are going to be AC: 15, F/R/W 13 as they're level 1 encounters.  The third one will see the goblin boss throwing in some of his personal bodyguards so he's going to crank that difficulty up one notch and that fight will be at DC's of AC: 17, F/R/W 15.

The final boss battle will be played out normally.

Encounter 1 - Party of 5:

  • Round 1 - 4 successes - Result: No loss
  • Round 2 - 4 successes - Result: No loss
  • Round 3 - Only two success - Result: 1 lost surge

Total: 1 surge lost.  The paladin elects to sacrifice a surge for the cleric and loses two and the cleric loses none.  Experience gained equals 66% of the total.

Encounter 2:

  1. Round 1 - 3 successes - Result: No loss
  2. Round 2 - 4 successes - Result: No loss
  3. Round 3 - 5 successes - Result: No loss

Total: No additonal surges lost. Full experience gained.

Encounter 3:

  1. Round 1 - 2 successes - Result: 1 lost surge
  2. Round 2 - 2 successes - Result: 1 lost surge
  3. Round 3 - 3 successes - Result : No Loss

Total: 2 additional lost surges per party member.  The fighter sacrifices for the wizard and loses three surges while the wizard only loses 1.  The paladin does the same for the cleric losing three surges and the cleric loses 1. Â  Only 33% of the encounter experience gained.

ACES results -

  • Wizard - Down 2 surges
  • Paladin - Down 5 surges
  • Fighter - Down 4 surges
  • Cleric - Down 1 surge
  • Ranger - Down 3 surges

Comments? Thoughts?

Image Credits


Steampunk In Fantasy

Posted by Dennis

Clockwork RifleFound this post and it's one of the better alternates for adding guns to a fantasy world that I've come across, not OP like many or just horrible implementations like some [the one that every shot creates a cloud of smoke cover, I'm looking in your direction, as well as the ones with a random chance to blow up, yeah you too].

Given I've got an artificer and they're going to be searching for artificer type things something like this might actually find a way into their hands.  Given the secrets of the powder manufacture is currently lost it's a automatically self limited resource.

Obviously the superior ones would require a feat for all to pick up and use well and the martial ones would require a feat for most.

Image Credits

Original idea presented by DMEric on the official WOTC forums -

The goal of my firearms was to make ones that had a historical basis, but presented an interesting option to players as opposed to either an overpowered "must have" item or a slow loading piece of junk outclassed by bows. The martial level of items represent what, stat wise, amounts to a martial level crossbow. The superior level ones are essentially a superior version of the Repeating Crossbow.

Blackpowder is a rare and "expensive" item from the perspective of a peasant(or lord trying to outfit an entire army), but still trivial to any adventurer past the earliest levels, or very well funded mercenaries, pirates, etc.

My firearms come in two varieties, Martial and Superior. I haven't designed feats yet, but I think in all likelihood they will just share feats with crossbows, since they are used in a similar manner.

Martial Firearms use breech loading mechanisms (they are loaded from the rear- either from the side sort of like a bolt action rifle or from behind like an old style shotgun), and they use paper cartridges with minnie balls. A minnie ball is a special type of bullet that when fired expands slightly to grip the rifling, allowing one to load the weapon at the speed of a musket, but fire with the accuracy of a rifle. (Historically, the difference was that rifles had "rifling", tiny ridges that spin the bullet, inside the barrel, while muskets were smoothbore. However, rifles took a much longer time to load than muskets since the bullet had to be very carefully seated inside the barrel w/ a rifle, while muskets could use paper cartridges and just be quickly jammed in.)

    • Pistol  +2  d8 5/10   50gp   2lbs Firearm  Load Minor/High Crit
    • Musket  +2 d10 15/30  75gp 4lbs Firearms Load Minor/High Crit

Superior Firearms
are special weapons based on the designs of the famed artificer,Vicento Leorezzi. These weapons, while using a smaller bullet, utilize magazines preloaded with primer, cartridge, and shot, allowing the user to reload the weapon from the magazine by way of the weapon's finely tuned internal clockwork mechanism. In addition, the improved barrel design alows for accurate fire at longer ranges than conventional firearms. Each magazine holds ten shots, costs 3gp, and requires a standard action to remove the spent magazine and load the fresh one.

    • Clockwork Pistol +2 d6 10/20 80gp 2lbs Firearms Load Free*/High Crit
    • Clockwork Rifle +2 d8 20/40 105gp 4lbs Firearms Load Free*/High Crit

Swamp Walker

Posted by Dennis

Swamp WalkerCreated this little gem of a guy that you could use if you like.  He's designed for a swamp but it coulde a Woods Walker almost as well, just reskin the obvious powers into a basic force blast of some kind.  Maybe dust or dirt or leaves or whatever.

You can grab a copy of the monster builder files and a pdf here - [download#40]

And here's a basic screenshot of the creature you could print out but it doesn't include the Animate Trees.  Just grab the download for the PDF.

The basic tactics would entail using the swamp spew on its enemies to weaken them by making them easier to hit, then typically it would summon two animate trees and use the surging wave ability to push creatures away that are trying to get flanking on it while just smashing the crap out of everything that approaches.  It does have a ranged attack as a minor action that it can use where plants near the target lash out at it.  If you use this then I'd recommend you add in some 'high ground' for one or two characters, a rock pile where a character can escape the minor attack, that kind of thing.  But its your encounter do with it as you will.



Runty Hill Giant

Posted by Dennis

Runty GiantCame up with this as a possible encounter for a group of level 4-5 level 3 characters.  [Disclaimer with the house rules I use this is an actually viable encounter creature even though it's 7 levels higher than the group, your mileage may vary.]

This is just an example of tweaking an existing creature.  I took the Hill Giant which is a level 12 brute, dropped his level in the character builder, reset the damages a bit to nudge him closer to a soldier while keeping the defenses and hit points etc of the brute, and added in a couple of powers as the default Hill Giant would be boring as a boss encounter.  With the other things I've got planned for this encounter I think it'll be a good BBEG level encounter for the group.

You can grab the monster builder file here [download#39] and an image of the creature below you could print out.

Image Credits

Hill Giant Runt


Against the Slavers – Creatures

Posted by Dennis

innerguardianSomeone asked so here you go.  THese are the creatures I created for last week's sessions, they all weren't deployed.  They're designed versus a level 1 party with 5 members. Â  The encounters ranged from around 750xp budget to  1200xp for the 'boss' level encounter budget.  There are six possible encounters, they bypassed one from good rolls during a skill challenge (and the challenge grants the same amount of XP).  Total experience is around 5000 not that I track it that way.  As a plot point they'd level at the natural stopping point after encounter six.

You can get the Monster Builder files here - [download#38]

And here's images of the creature stats that you could print out if you like that kind of thing.



Your character wants a what? Where?!

Posted by Dennis

Decoration or weapon?Piercings and Tattoo's for fantasy characters?  Magical piercings and tatoos?  WTH?! That's just about the du... Hmmm you know that might actually work...

This thought train this morning was put into motion by the Tattoo's and Piercing's article over here.  My first 'visual' was one of the demons that escaped from Hell in the TV Show Reaper that had tattoo's on his body that he could pull off and use.  A tattoo of barbed wire running up his arm became a very nasty garotte, a fire-burst and flame on his neck became a fireball he could throw.

Picture if you will an Assassin tasked with getting close enough to someone, the Duke, the brilliant general of the opposing side, the gray sorcereress who's keeping the thieves guild from expanding due to threat of extinction, whatever.  She's going in as an exotic courtesan, a 'painted lady of the fiery south lands' where they don't wear much in the way of clothing but instead decorate their skin with ink.  One of her tattoos might be of a savage beast on her back with the clawed paws coming around to cup her breasts, the tips gleaming in green.  One of those claws when 'pulled out' becomes a poisoned weapon to which she's built up an immunity. Â  She kills the target, stabs herself and lays near death for the guards to find in the morning with some story of some fell shadow assassin that attacked them both. This would require of course some means of preventing Raise Dead, perhaps RD only works when the brain is intact.  Or you could take a page from the Taltos series and certain weapons destroy whatever it is that makes people people and un-revivable.

Anyway, the article is a good read and IMO certainly a viable option if your world supports such things.

Image Credits


Community Resource Netbook

Posted by Dennis

Random ImageSaw a tweet that lead me to a post that re-acquainted me with a netbook for 4th edition. I have a much earlier copy but the current version has no less than 500+ pages of community created content for 4th edition, classes, feats, paragon paths, monsters, gear and phat lewtz and all that.

Highly recommended for any DM to peruse for use at their table.

There is considerable overlap in some areas with official content, now anyway, but when it was written it was just users filling in the gaps of the original 3 core books.

So while I'm rehashing other news (nothing new there right?) I would like to ensure that this does reach as wide an audience as possible as there's a lot of work here that deserves to be seen.

Image Credits


Player Bonus Cards

Posted by Dennis

Sample CardI've been meaning to make these and finally got around to finishing them up.  They're Player Bonus Cards much like the official RPGA ones (and some ideas were based on those cards obviously).  Other ideas come from this article which I'd posted about before.

This is the first draft and doesn't include any 'cursed' cards.  I'll most likely make those a separate page definitely and perhaps a separate download completely as they're not everyone's cup of tea.  I personally thing good luck should be tempered by bad or it's not good luck, it's a given.  So a 1 bad card for every X good card ratio I think would be more pleasing to me but I'm not you so you'll have to make that decision yourself.

A lot of the cards are set up as Immediate Actions to add a bit of a twist to them since they then compete for the use of the one IA that a character can perform once per round.  You can eliminate that if you want.

You can download the cards here -[download#4]

If you like them let me know.  I do like feedback.  I just noticed for example that my Quest Card has been downloaded 700+ times and no one's had any comments on them so I don't know if it was worth the time to put them up or not.

Also if you have any ideas for similar cards by all means share.


Masterplan Bump

Posted by Dennis

Combat SampleJust realized through a very roundabout way that I don't have any mention of Masterplan on here.  (I was looking for the link to see if there was a recent update and my search came up empty on my site.  There is an update BTW).

Anyway it's a campaign planner, has DDI integration, map maker and you can run combats in it and it has the ability to display maps to the players on a second monitor that are not filled in like the DM's maps. What's not to like?

And it's free.  So what do you have to lose?  Go check it out.


KOC Nerfer

Posted by Dennis

KOC_NerferOkay just in case anyone else is remotely interested I've uploaded the KOC Nerfer to the site.  Here's the included Read Me below.

This is based on my thoughts on House Rules that are intended to make the game more fun (better hit rate for both sides), less draggy (increased damage), monsters are able to used at a broader range (less work making new ones).

It's written in dot net so you'll need dot net installed to run it. I would imagine that if you have the ability to run the Monster Builder then this should work just fine.

No I don't intend to make it work on a Mac.  Unless you want to give me a Mac to do development on. Then we'll talk about it.

If it's not obvious this is a home grown app not designed to be pretty and you'll see a lot of broken status messages flying through the text window, ignore them.

The file - [download#37]  [Updated link to version 1.1]

The Read Me -

This app will make certain modifications to *.monster files as exported from the
Wizards of the Coast Adventure Tools Monster Builder application.

Your use of this program is an implicit contract that you will not hold me
responsible for anything it may do down to running away with your cat to
las vegas to get married.


Community ‘Delves’

Posted by Dennis

White DragonFound a pretty cool thread that hopefully keeps going on Enworld.  Various DM's are 'rating' encounters they have put up against their players and giving the specifics and how they turned out.

Makes for some really good idea fostering since they're easily 'consumed' and aren't burdened with giant blocks of stats and all that so you can 'microwave' them in a minute or two and go "that's cool" or "meh" without spending a lot of time at it.  Then you can go stat them up into encounters of your own tailoring.

All the listed ones are good but I thought this one in particular would have some really good 'visuals' and could be adjusted with custom monsters pretty easily for any level.

Image Credits

XP Encounter Difficulty: Level 7+4
(Used on a level 7 party, but it is a level 11 encounter)

Brief summary: Adult White dragon blasting the snow away from graves awakening the dead.

Area setup
: An island in the middle of a icy river with precarious stepping stones. The island has a big graveyard, the graves are covered by snow.

Adult White Dragon Level 9 Solo brute with 20% fewer hp, so award 1600xp
3xChillborn zombie Level 6 Soldier
3xMad Wraith Level 6 Controller

Enemy setup:
The Dragon awakens as the party bicker like hell crossing the river, fights them as they come onto the island. It uses its breath weapon to blast the snow away from some graves awakening the chillborn zombies the following round. It stays flying and uses its breath weapon a few rounds later to awaken the Mad Wraiths in the same way

How it went:
The archer in the party was scouting and noticed the dragon, shot it and started the fight with only two PC's on the stepping stones. Otherwise it went about as planned. One of the fighter pushed the gravestones over the chillborn zombies as they awakened, slowing them by one round. (I didn't let them use the aura when they had a gravestone on top of them). The dragon never landed and flew away after getting down to 25% hp.

Actual Difficulty:
The encounter is a little easier than it might seem, as the dragon uses it's breath weapon to uncover the graves and the undead used some rounds getting up of the graves. Difficulty about as a level 10 encounter. The players used all available dailies.

How well did it work(on a scale of 1-10):
The multiple enemies that had to be handled and the big bad guy made for a very interesting encounter for every character type. The encounter has plenty of suspense and the characters feel threatened but not overwhelmed. I would give it an 8.5.


Zombie Mall Skill Challenge

Posted by Dennis

Zombie DadI found a thread well worth using since it involves Zombies. The Zombipocalypse is a subject near and dear to my heart after all.

This involves a group of high school kids getting past the crowds of zombies and into the safety of a shopping mall.  Obviously this is a modern setting but it could just as easily be a beleaguered keep or even just a fortified homestead.  Flavor text is always the DM's pervue of course.

Anyway pasting it here en masse so I don't have to go looking if I want to use these ideas.

You can find the original thread here.

Image Credits

Updated version:

Skill Challenge: Getting into the Mall
Complexity: 5 (12 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Diplomacy, Bluff, Stealth, Streetwise
Other Skills: Perception

Victory: The PCs manage to make their way into the mall, without the zombies getting in.

Defeat: The PCs are caught in the full force of the horde and a combat encounter begins immediately.

Acrobatics: Moderate DC (1 Success, no maximum)
The character manages to weave, dodge, or maneuver through the zombies.
Failure: The PC is caught in the middle of the zombies, and they hold him back. He loses one healing surge as they tear at him. Mark a failure.

Knowledge Skills (Arcana/Dungeoneering/Nature/Insight/Religion): Moderate DC DC (0 Sucesses, but provides +2 to next skill check by any PC, failure gives -2 to next skill check)
Your knowledge of Zombie Movies (Arcana), the mall’s inner workings (Dungeoneering), places of natural camouflage (Nature), insight into the zombie’s senses (Insight), and power of faith (religion) allows you to give assist the others on what you should or should not do against zombies.
Failure: -2 to next skill check. You have no clue what you are talking about.

Athletics: Moderate DC (1 Success, no maximum)
The character barrels through the zombies, getting closer to the doors.
Failure: The PC is caught by the zombies, and they tear at him. Lose one healing surge. Mark a Failure.

Bluff: Hard DC (1 Success, no maximum, Gives -2 to next diplomacy check)
The character pretends to be a zombie, and successfully moves forward through them.
Failure: The PC does not fool the zombies. They surge around him, forcing one of the other checks. Once a bluff is failed, that PC cannot attempt this again.

Diplomacy: Hard DC (1 Success, 3 maximum, Gives -2 to next Bluff Check)
The character convinces the NPCs in the mall to help them. The NPCs will begin attacking zombies to distract them and opening the barricades. Success allows for the following options: +2 to any skill check, a reattempt on Bluff/Stealth, or negate the loss of a healing surge when using Acrobatics/Athletics.
Failure: Mark a Failure.

Perception: Easy DC (0 Sucesses, but provides +2 to next skill check by any PC, failure gives -2 to next skill check)
The character notices a path that is clear, which zombies are distracted, or if zombies are hiding where they are going.

Stealth: Moderate DC (1 Success, no maximum) +2 check if another pc failed Athletics/Acrobatics check.
The character evades notice and sneaks to the entrances of the mall.
Failure: The PC is spotted and zombies surge towards him. This forces him to use another skills. Once a stealth check is failed, that PC cannot use this skill again.

Streetwise: Hard DC (1 Success, no maximum)
Using his knowledge of the mall, the pc finds a path closer to the mall without being noticed by the zombies.
Failure: Mark a failure. Took a wrong turn, zombies!

Thievery: Hard DC (1 Success, Maximum 3)
You assist with finding a way through the barricades.
Failure: Mark a failure. You think you know what you’re doing, but the truth is you should just be hammering on the door. The zombies close in.

And there's another option although this one would be a little more difficult to fantasize but still well worth looking at for ideas.

Destroying the Mall

You must drive the propane truck into the garage, next to the boiler room, without stalling out or getting overwhelmed by zombies.

There are three parts to the challenge.

1) You must get the truck running, sneak and repair the truck or defend the truck while repair it.
2) Drive the truck to the Garage, while the zombies try to overwhelm it and crash it. Defend, Assist, or Drive.
3) The security gate to the Garage is locked. You either have to open the gate or crash through it. Opening the gate without destroying it allows you to close it behind you.

Part 1-Fixing the truck.

4 successes before 3 failures.
Victory: You get the truck started and begin driving towards the sublevel parking garage. Defeat: Combat Encounter starts. Zombies surge the truck and try to force their way through barricades.
Skills: Stealth and Thievery.

Stealth: Moderate DC (1 Success, Max 2)
You hide, keeping the zombies from noticing you in the truck.
Failure: Mark a failure. You are noticed by a zombie, he has not been noticed by others yet.

Thievery: Hard DC (1 Success, Max 3)
Failure: Mark a failure. You fail to get the truck started, but it makes noise. Zombies begin to file closer to the truck.

Creative uses of other skills can add to these checks. If combat breaks out, the zombies will attack. To get the truck started, you must succeed at the thievery checks.

Part 2- Driving the Truck
Complexity 4: 10 successes before 3 failures.
Victory: The truck makes it to security parking gate.
Failure: Truck crashes. Have to leave it behind and fight the big boss without a big propane bomb.

The way this challenge will play is that you have choice to drive, assist, or fighting the horde.

Driving: Hard Difficulty-Any skill or stat can be used with a descriptor, but repeated use of the same skill drives up DC +1. These checks are only ones that can give Successes for Victory

Assistance: Easy Difficulty- Gives +2 to next driving check. Failure gives -2 to next check. Repeated use of same skill gives +1 DC.

Fighting the Horde: Whenever there is a failure on the driving test, a zombie climbs up on the truck. When the third zombie gets on the truck, it crashes. If you choose to fight, make an attack (any attack power or basic attack), if you are successful, the zombie is knocked off the truck and a failure is removed. If you miss, you miss. Encounter powers gain a +1 to attack roll. Daily powers gain a +3 attack.

Part 3- Opening the gate
Complexity: 4 successes before 3 failures
Victory: Gate is opened for truck, but closed before zombies get in.
Defeat: You cannot get the gate open. Your options are to crash the truck through or climb through to fight big bad without propane bomb.
Before this challenge begins, assuming the pc’s still have the truck, they can simply choose to drive the truck through the gate. Make a +8 vs AC attack on each person in truck, for 2d8+3 damage. The downside is that the zombies will follow them into the garage, making escape difficult.

Skills: Thievery, Athletics, both Hard DCs. Do not increase DC for repeated use.
Other skills can assist, giving +2/-2 per normal. +1 dc for using same skill repeatedly.

While this challenge is ongoing, a combat encounter is going on. A skill check for the challenge takes a standard action.


Custom Undead

Posted by Dennis

Source of EVIL!!!These are the undead that I'm going to use in my house rules test.  Someone wanted them and I do try to be reasonably obliging. 🙂

You can use the images below or you can down the pdf's [download#30], [download#31], [download#32], [download#33].  I'm also using the new Export function of the Monster Builder and you can grab the .monster files - [download#34] if you kinda like these but want to tweak them to your own needs.

It's interesting but for any non-published stuff I find myself just making my own creatures.  That's another subtle but very huge draw/benefit of 4th edition.  That you can make almost auto-balanced creatures without any issue that are actually interesting.

Got to take my boys to a birthday party so I can't really expand on this but surely these can give you some ideas...

Image Credits

Hanged OneSteel Thewed ZombiePyre DeadTortued Remains


Swarm template

Posted by Dennis

SwarmedJust thought I might want to look at this again sometime although it's pretty common sense. The Vulnerability 10 should be modified I believe to scale with tier, 5 for heroic, 10 for paragon, 15 for epic or something along those lines.  +10 damage at level 1 from an at-will like Scorching Burst would pretty much decimate any swarm in very short order.

I've used Rat Swarms and Drake Swarms to good effect, the adjacent attack can be a constant brutality if you're rolling well against the players.

Image Credits

Swarm Template (Elite Soldier)

Vulnerability 10 close and area attacks.

Saving Throws +2

Action Point 1

Hit Points +8 per level + Constitution score

The creature gains the Swarm keyword.

Size increases by two steps (tiny > medium, small > large, medium > huge, large > gargantuan). Reach remains the same as that of the original creature.

Mounted creatures can be turned into swarms. Use the size of the mount (usually large) to determine the swarm's new size. Use the mount's speed to determine the swarm's speed.


Swarm Attack
Aura; the swarm makes a basic melee attack as a free action against each enemy that begins its turn in the aura. The aura's range equals the reach of the original creature.

Swarm Defenses
A swarm takes half damage from melee and ranged attacks. It is immune to forced movement (pull, push and slide) caused by such attacks.

Swarm Movement
The swarm can enter or move through an enemy's space; this movement does not provoke opportunity attacks. An enemy can enter a space occupied by a swarm, but the space occupied by the swarm is considered difficult terrain, and doing so provokes an opportunity attack. A swarm can squeeze through any opening large enough to accomodate even one of its constituent creatures, i.e. it counts as two sizes smaller for the purpose of squeezing.


Initiative Order and Status Tokens

Posted by Dennis

Artistic MockupI've knocked up some PDF's for my own use.  These include a sheet of initiative cards and a few sheets of status tokens.

The idea is to print and cut these out and then fold them in half. Â  Fill out both sides of the initiative cards, one side that faces the players only has a name on it, the other has some fairly relative information, your needs may vary but this is what I want at a glance.

Drop the cards in initiative order on your DM's screen, because of the table I use for gamin I'm going to make a simple upside down T out of some oak and plexiglass (mockup over there ->) and hang them on those.  Then you can slide them back and forth etc.

The status tokens are also printed and cut out and you just drop appropriate ones over the cards, that should make it pretty simple and braindead to remember who's taking ongoing damage, who needs to save for something, whether a condition runs out on a save or end of turn etc.

Anyway if you like them then feel free to use them.

[download#28] and [download#29]