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25May/128

DnDNext

Posted by Dennis

ūüôā

All the negativity toward #dndnext is making me want to get in there and make it work somehow.

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24May/123

DnD Next – First Look

Posted by Dennis

Looked through the playtest materials and so far, probably not something I'm going to spend money on. I have multiple old school rehash systems of 1st and 2nd edition DnD and this doesn't appear to bring much to the table.

From the GM perspective the monsters look to be very boring to use for the majority of them which while it may make them fit the old school style, still ends up boring to use.

Based on this small sampling, from a power/mechanics perspective, most of the fights are going back to the old school 'fllintsone boxing' where two characters simple roll d20's at each other until someone generates enough randomly determined damage to put the other guy down. Then the winner moves on to the next one.

It should in theory make for much quicker turns for everyone though given it greatly simplifies the 4E choices. So that's a benefit.

It also brings back systems I truly dislike like Vancian magic and influences of 'no healer, no adventure' and the 15 minute work day.

But in general I'm very meh so far on what I've seen. Maybe they'll wow me with more material but as I own every core edition since Basic and a big bunch of the various OSR style systems, I just can't see spending money on this one.

Your mileage may vary of course.

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10Nov/110

PAX 2011 DND Podcasts

Posted by Dennis

In case you missed it and you enjoyed the first DnD podcasts here's the next installment -

PAX 2011 Live D&D Game, Part 1


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5Jun/110

Engaging Players – Universally

Posted by Dennis

I've been meaning to write this and just hadn't gotten around to it.  I want to offer up some observations, all personal and from 30+ years as player and gamemaster for Pen and Paper RPG's.  (Who uses pens anyway?  I guess pen is just easier to say than pencil)

It's about engaging the players and keeping them interested and focused on what's going on at the table.  First let me state you're not going to get every player every session every round.   It's just not going to happen, maybe they're tired from a long day at work, or having issues at work,  or they've had a fight with their significant other, or their car needs costly repairs, or whatever.  Real life intrudes no matter how much we might want to get a few hours to escape it.  Expect it and work around as best you can.

Your goal as a game master is to engage most of the players at the table most of the time during most of your sessions.

To help with this, here are some things that I've come up with after thinking and experiencing modern life -

Downtime -

This is a big one to me personally.

You have to reduce the downtime between each player's turn so they're not sitting on their thumbs for long stretches of game time.  If the player only gets to actively participate in what's going on, once every half hour then you're going to have a serious problem. Even if it's once every 20 minutes you're going to have a problem.  IMO you should be shooting for sub 15 minute's between a given player's turns and sub 10 is better.

Do whatever it takes to get that time down.  If it means moving out of your game system of choice comfort zone then do it.  Nothing in my opinion will make a player wander off mentally and physically more than having to wait too long between their turns.   There are tons of lighter game systems out there that can reduce the time for a players turn from minutes to a minute or less.  Don't use a heavy system UNLESS your players are seriously interested in the system directly and the system itself will keep them engaged.

There is a huge list of factors that contribute to this.  The system you're using, it could be inherently slow due to the number of options each player has to choose from when its their turn.  It could have complicated combat mechanics that require a lot of repeated math and comparisons.  The system may be structured such that it simply takes a lot of time to wear down a the bad guys, aka The Grind.

The players, they could be disengaged when it's not their turn taking additional time each time it is their turn to get up to speed on what's going on.

The gamemaster could have so many bad guys and so much data to keep track of for each one that his/her turn takes unduly long.

Something as subtle and simple as the number of dice rolls involved for each participant in the situation, if there are several involved then each one adds up.

The Setting -

If the setting isn't grabbing the majority of your players then you're going to get disengagement and honestly if you're not running or playing in something you're looking forward to each week then consider coming up with something else.

Game settings and storylines are very strongly influenced, even dictated, by the gamemaster.  In my experience most GM's have a story they're wanting to tell and that story unfortunately may not be one that their players are interested in at either the macro or micro levels.  I don't exempt myself from this issue by the way.  But your idea of a great story may not be interesting to your players or interesting enough to engage them.

Maybe the player doesn't like the excessive roleplay segments but the world setting is interesting.  Maybe they don't like the excessive combat segments because they're not playing a combat oriented character.   Maybe they want to be killing zombies instead of dragons or the other way around.

But if you're not engaging your players with the setting then you have to engage them with something else.  And vice versa again.

The System -

Not everyone enjoys the same mechanics in a system.  Many people for instance find the Fudge system too simple.  Others find GURPS too complicated.  Some people enjoy the Aspects of the Fate system while to others they're just a "Uh what now? How does a parking lot have aspects?"

I don't personally believe that a system will make or break a campaign as long as the gamemaster is familiar with it enough so that it doesn't get in the way of the story.  But if every 5 minutes you're having to look up rules because you're not sure exactly what happens when you grapple someone or how damage is computed or what determines success on a skill check etc.   Then odds are you're in for trouble in terms of keeping your players interested in what's going on.

Modern Day Reality -

Let's face it, the players are not the same players the were 20-30 years ago.  We've played MMOG's, CRPG's, we've got RPG's on our phones for goodness sake.   We're used to, spoiled by and expecting swift game play, infrequently missing, and lots of POW! and Kablam!  We simply aren't the same as we were back then.   We don't have the time to invest in gaming.

And I don't know about your players but my experience hasn't been great in getting old players to learn new tricks.  Or even show a minimal amount of interest in new tricks at times.

So What Can You Do?

That's probably what you're asking yourself and struggling with if you've come across this article and it hit home enough to get you this far.

On some levels I wish I could tell you something other than find try again or find players who slot better with what you're trying to do.

But that's rarely an option for most locations at least in finding physical bodies to sit in chairs, virtual gaming is a horse of another color and not germane to this post and comes with it's own host of issues.

So I'll offer this little nugget of wisdom which I'm sure you've never heard before, "Know your players.  Know what drives them to show up."

And "If your desires and the players desires don't mesh, don't try to force it.  You're doomed to failure."

Design your story around those drives and desires.  If it's hack and slash group, then throw dungeon crawls at them with vast amounts of loot and monsters to take it away from.

Say yes to your players. I repeat, say yes to your players.  Don't come up with ways to screw them.  If a system is inherently screwing the PC's then fix it, do away with the mechanic or get a new system.  I have one golden rule in designing my own game system, if a mechanic sucks then it's coming out.  There's a difference between a mechanic that adds difficulty/tension and one that sucks.  Spell memorization sucks.  Making death saves when you're dying adds tension.

Learn you're system or know your system.  Yes you might end up having to shoehorn a size 9 hiking boot onto a size 3 ballerina's foot to make a system work for something it wasn't intended to do but at least you won't waste time looking up rules.  And hopefully you'll be able to keep the game moving quickly enough to keep most of the players entertained at a given time.

And a key rule, if you're not having fun as a GM then again don't bother.  If you're not having fun there's just little to no chance you're going to be able to make it fun for your players.

Don't railroad your story.  The story that you think is just oh so damn cool, the players may end up with a been there, done that or I'd rather be buying rope.  So be flexible and learn to read your players.  If they're browsing ESPN on their laptops while you're trying to play a game then odds are you're story is of little interest to them.   In a side note, if they're wandering away when it's not their turn, odds are you're system of choice is taking too long to play out and they're simply getting bored waiting.

Boring, don't bore your players.  Don't have scenes where most of the players didn't need to be there but were forced to.   If you do have to focus on a single player for undue amounts of time make sure that the other players have at least the appearance of having something to do during the encounter even if you're just pretending and nothing they do will have any impact.   And make sure they don't know that.

And finally don't force it.  I used to have a saying, primarily right after Ultima Online came out, if it was pretty obvious that the majority weren't paying attention I'd close my notes and say "Okay disinterest has reared it's head, we'll try again next week." and we'd spend the rest of the evening talking about something else.   Just because you're pumped and ready to go doesn't mean you're players are and you have to learn to recognize that and work around it.

I hope something here helps you get a more engaged players and more engaging materials to present to them.  Because nothing kills your own enjoyment of this particular hobby than presenting it to players who aren't interested.

4May/110

Blender Update 5/4/2011

Posted by Dennis

A butt load of little changes over the last few days, too many to remember really.  Added a group roll mechanic, primarily to Stealth but the mechanic would work for everyone.  It's roughly the same group mechanic I came up with for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.  To sum up, the law of averages makes it impossible for a group of players to sneak anywhere, someone is either ALWAYS going to fail their stealth roll or make their Perception roll.  This removes any chance for the group to work as a team and sneak into something.  Granted it might be 'realistic' but it doesn't fit the cinematic game system I'm going for, where yes Virginia sometimes the hero can manage to sneak a group of women and children out of the bad guys warehouse without getting spotted even though none of them are particularily stealthy.

Basically it's just a bunch of synergy rolls, one person makes the actual skill roll and everyone else involved simply adds or subtracts to that roll.   So it's not possible for one person to blow it for everyone and it's possible for the group as a whole to help or hinder the leader's roll.

Extended the Extended Skill challenge system to allow for conditions where two or more groups are trying to achieve a goal against each other.  It now works much better for chase scenes or for any extended challenge with actively opposing forces.   And extended challenges can have their own unique stunt tables that the participants can purchase to achieve successes or bonuses or assign penalties to their opponents.  Should work out fairly well I think.

Came up with the basics on how to make the system work with just d6's as an option for those that want it.  Requires a handful of value changes and it impacts the math more than I like but it can be done for those who don't want to try and get a set of d8's for everyone which typically aren't sold separately in sets at least in many places unlike d6's and d10's.  D10's aren't a great option as it waters down the stunt and explosion factor which are a strong component for adding cinematic feel to the system.

Due to a math issue the standard TN is being shifted to 15 from 13. ¬†When I was computing average rolls I'd changed the code to only allow one dice to explode on the skill rolls and only allow it to explode once and forgot to change it back. ¬†As a result this impacted the average roll for 3d8E down a bit. ¬† And 15 works better since I'm using multiples of 5's. ¬†Even the warriors can usually add and subtract by 5's. ūüėČ

There's also a bit more love for battlefield control for melee types either the DPS or Tanks, their Taunts and Intimidate ploys can now shift their targets around on the battlefield and by buying the appropriate knack they can turn them into an AOE.

Skills -

Taunt (Intellect) - You can taunt someone within a number of squares equal to your skill as a standard action.  Make a Taunt skill roll opposed by Resolve.  With one degree of success the target suffers a -2 to attack anyone but you on their next turn.  With multiple degrees of success the penalty increases to -4 and the target is immediately pulled one square toward you if they can.

Intimidate (Resolve) - You can intimidate someone within a number of squares equal to your skill as a standard action.  Make an Intimidate skill roll opposed by Resolve.  With one degree of success the target suffers a -2 to attack you on their next turn.  With multiple degrees of success the penalty increases to -4 and the target is immediately pushed one square away from you if possible.

Tier 2 Knacks -

Taunting Call - Requires Taunt 3+. As a normal Taunt but you can affect targets in a burst 1.

Intimidating Roar - Requires Intimidate 3+. As a normal Intimidation but you can affect targets in a burst 1.

In other news I'm listening to a podcast of guys playing DnD, Pathfinder version I believe and once again I'm struck by how much playing a wizard sucked under those vancian magic systems.  To paraphrase the conversation...

Dude 1 - "How many magic missiles did you memorize dude? That's like the third [bleeping] one!?"
Wizard Guy - "What do you mean, I can't cast it over and over?"
Dude 1 -"*laughter* No you [bleeping] idiot,  just the once for each time you memorize it.  You get them back once a day."
Wizard Guy - "Ohhh... *pause*  That [bleeping] sucks.  Okay I'm done, that's it, I got nothing for the  rest of the [bleep] day then."
Dude 1 -"Use your staff and hit something with it."
Wizard Guy - "I've got 4 [bleeping] hit points!"
Dude 1 -"Welcome to playing a D&D wizard.  Enjoy."
Wizard Guy - "This sucks, go ahead and kill me, I'm going to play a ranger."

Filed under: DIY, DnD, Game Design, LCA!, RPG No Comments
28Mar/110

Blender Update 3/28/2011

Posted by Dennis

Not much to report lately but I'll offer what I've got.  Work has been kicking my ass along with doing things around the house that I just haven't had the time to do much.

But with that said, I'm going to be adding in a Dodgy Bastard Knack that can be bought by a character.   My thought is to allow them to take a hit on their next turn to increase their Evasion score this turn.  It'll go something like this for play testing -

Dodgy Bastard - Before an attack is made against you, you may choose to dodge out of the way and gain a +2 Evasion against this one attack and are Off Balance until the start of your next turn. (Off Balance is a standard -2 Evasion penalty)

I've cleaned up my States section and currently employ Dazed, Off Balance, Slowed and Immobilized.  Dazed = no actions, Off Balance is the -2 Evasion penalty, Slowed reduces your speed to 2 and Immobilized means you cannot take any actions that require rolls based on Brawn or Grace.   I want to strike a balance between no states and Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition's ginormous amount of states which while they add verisimilitude are incredibly unwieldy in game play at times.

I also really don't want any lingering states that have to be kept track of if I can help it.  The most you can be dazed for instance is one turn and that's if you fail your undazing check.  So fail = lose one turn, succeed = suffer a penalty on this turn, suceed well and get your full turn.   No getting stuck losing actions turn after turn because you rolled crappy and not getting to play.   It's awesome when a party of players stun locks a boss (or is it? Really?) and they put a beat down on it and it never gets to do anything.  It's not so awesome when it happens to a player.   And I'm going to fall down on removing not so awesome issues where I can.

The exception is Immobilized from the Crowd Control power which does linger as long as you don't break free and the power user keeps the power going on you.

In addition to hammering that stuff out I wrote the Animate Object spell which will be used for everything from summoning skeletons to making tables walk to dancing swords.   To counter the potential power of such a thing I think I've got it limited in such a fashion that it's useful but not overshadowing.  Time will tell.

And I've created a first draft of a character sheet, I don't have it with me or I'd post it, it's blah like all my character sheets are, I design for usability not graphic splendor.  I have trouble reading character sheets filled with backgrounds, stains, rips textured boxes, white text in black boxes, with tiny fonts.   Ergo I don't do that.

Animate Object -Rank: 2

Range: Thrown

Power Cost: 2 per object

Duration: Persistent (Scene)

Pool Drain: 2 per object

Special FX: Dancing sword, walking table, raising skeletons or corpses.

Targets: NA

Description:  This power allows the power user to animate items and control them for the purposes of attacking.  The animated objects attack on the power users turn and each attack costs the power user an action.

The animated objects enter the scene on the power users next turn and are the equivalent of Extra’s.  They have a base Evasion of 13 and a Damage Resistance of 4.  Any damaging attack will destroy them.  The objects deal damage like an improvised weapon or 2d6 non-exploding.

Enhancements:

Spend an power point per object to increase their Evasion and Damage Resistance by 1 and modify the damage to allow for exploding dice for one additional point total.   This does not count against pool drain costs.

Special:  This power requires that appropriate objects be within range per the special fx of the power to function. The objects must remain with line of sight to the power user or they stand idle.  They must remain within range or the effect is lost.  The pool drain is released per object as it is destroyed or released by the power user.

25Jan/110

Game Math Part 6

Posted by Dennis

Work has continued on my game math and things are still looking 'okay' for the most part.  I just realized on the drive to work this morning though that I don't have any mechanism to reward good strength stats in melee.  With fixed damages for the sake of the math and balance, it's going to be a bit tricky perhaps.

Typically games that reward strength in melee do so by granting a bonus to the damage.  Savage Worlds lets you use your str die as one half of your damage roll, Dungeons and Dragons, Gamma World 4E, various D20 systems give you a flat bonus to your damage, Hero systems gives you additional dice of damage.

A problem is though that at this level of granularity flat bonuses stack up very quickly. This has the subtle effect of making your ability to hit more important than your damage output when you do hit.  As well as making any hit damaging.  It's a lot like older editions of Dungeons and Dragons where after awhile the damage range on your weapon became less important than all the bonuses you got from magical properties, strength, feat, and assorted other bonuses.

I need to run the numbers and see just how deadly fights become with my current mechanics when adding in flat damage bonuses based on dice pools.  My thought was to add a +1 for each die of strength in the strength pool.  But that means a warrior with a 5 dice strength is going to deal on average 13 damage on a regular hit with a 2 handed weapon (2d8).  That's going to hurt someone with each hit.  Granted that's the worst case scenario.  I could though adjust for that by nudging protections up slightly but that will have a cross effect against ranged weapons.

But on second thought that helps to balance ranged weapons versus melee weapons as the ranged weapons have a universal DC to hit a target while the melee weapons have a variable DC based on the targets melee skill.

With game design the more features you add the more a single change can have a big waterfall effect that you're not expecting, especially if you're not using formulas or my favorite, simulating it with a million virtual warriors locked in eternal combat, to verify the math.    I think the lack of simulation or advanced math testing that there are powers in the 4E power collections that simply do not work based on the math.  That some powers are just such weak sauce that they're only taken by accident or because they sound cool.  Cool goes a long way but a player shouldn't, in my opinion, be able to gimp his character by going on cool.

But then I could be wrong. ūüôā

9Jan/110

Game Math Part 4

Posted by Dennis

The search for a game math mechanic that I'm happier with continues.  Unfortunately the single die roll which determines attack and damage doesn't work well for me.  The math extremes are between the top and bottom are just too extreme.  It's a lot like the issues with the One Role Engine and it's derivitives, there's just too much disparity.

I'm still working on the dice pool versus the flat percentage probability of the D20 and WFRP versus the stepped dice of Savage Worlds.    The flat percentage while I think it works well for DnD leaves little area for... excitement?  You know 1 in 20 times you're going to do maximum damage. If you're an avenger or twin weapon ranger you know one in 10 rounds you'll get a critical hit.  That kind of thing.  Other systems you don't even get that, you simply hit or miss.

Granted the use of the damage dice are a secondary implement in how to determine how well you did.  But I think for most people there's a subtle or not so subtle expectation that if you roll 12 higher than you needed to hit that you should somehow hit 'better' or 'harder' or whatever.  But if you need a 7 or better to hit (or 30% or higher) to hit then it doesn't matter if you roll a 7 or a 19 you have the same range of results.

With the single roll out of the question I broke combat down into the ubiquitous attack and damage rolls again.  This oddly enough broadened the math between the least and maximum dice pools.

Like apparently many people I enjoy the thought that the better your attack roll the better your result should be, rather than a binary or trinary result which is pretty much all the other systems I'm familiar with.

I've run a few bazillion simulations and balance is getting closer and is within reasonable parameters right now.  Some of the current highlights -

A character's ability is determined by their dice pool.  Someone untrained in a skill has a pool of 1d10 and is subject to a -5 penalty.  Someone with some training or ability gets a 1d10, a master of something gets up to 5d10 in their pool.

Success at something is determined by beating a equaling or beating a 5.

Your level of success is determined by how many multiples of 5 you roll over the necessary number. This is very Savage Worlds but I found that type of mechanic workable for what I wanted and thus using it.

In combat a character has two defenses.  Their Damage Avoidance or DAv and their Damage Absorption or DAb.   DAv determines if you get hit at all.  DAb determines how badly you got hurt by the attack.  Again this is like Savage Worlds Parry and Toughness.  I'm not 100% in like with it but tracking Hit Points is slow and annoying regardless of the mechanic and I found the Wound levels of Savage Worlds another thing worth stealing from them.

A round of combat consists of a character rolling his attack dice pool and determining the highest number rolled.  This is then compared to the target's DAv.  For each multiple of 5 that the attacker rolls over the DAv they roll their damage.  Damage is determined very simply, weapons that are wielded in one hand deal 2d6+xd6 damage and weapons that require two hands deal 2d8+xd8 damage.  The xd6 and xd8 are variable depending on how well the attacker rolls.

While it sounds odd that two attacks at 2d6 somehow equal one attack at 2d8, oddly enough that's how the math works out with the range of damage avoidance and absorbtion numbers I'm using.  I was a little surprised myself.  But using the same damage for each major group of weapons provides for ease of play and opens up a lot of roleplay opportunities without having to worry about the nuts and bolts.  Granted for some groups that's simply not going to work, they want the 12 pages of weapon stats, but that's not the group I'm designing this for.

Example:  Attacker rolls his dice pool of 3d10 using a pistol, a one handed weapon.  His highest die is a 9.  This is then compared to the DAv of the target.  If this was a 5 then the attacker hit with +4 over so he deals the base 2d6 damage (one handed damage).  Let's say he shoots another person the next round who's DAv is 4 and gets another 9.  9-4 is 5.  This means on the second shot he does the base 2d6 but because he got 5 over the necessary value he gets to add another 1d6 for 3d6 damage.   This varies from the Savage Worlds in that it's open ended.

Another reason I'm using Dice Pools is that I want to include a Stunting mechanism.  I'm doing this through the use of doubles.  To determine how many stunt points you have you simply add your matching dice up and take the one's digit.  Example:  You rolled 2 6's in your pool.  6+6 is 12 so you get 2 stunt points.  Roll 2 9's?  18 or 8 stunt points.  Two 10's?  20 and 0 stunt points but then rolling two 10's is reward in and of itself.

As a character's skill increases, their dice pool increases.  This causes a corresponding chance for doubles and thus stunt points.  Someone without any training or little training with a 1d10 pool, never gets to stunt.  With 2d10 they stunt but rarely.  With 5d10 they'll stunt roughly 25% of the time.

Stunt points will be used add special effects to an attack.  The list is nebulous at this time but I foresee things like for X points you get to add another dice of damage, or push the target  X spaces or knock the target prone or immobilize the target by pinning it to an object or smashing a knee cap etc.

These points will allow players (and the GM) to essentially build a power on the fly as they need to and the better skill a character has the more stunts they'll be able to pull off.

Right now I've got the numbers pretty balanced again, between 1H+Shield, 2H and Dual Wielding warriors.  How it's working out is that dual wielding works better against lightly armored targets and 2 handed weapons work better against heavily armoured targets.

Dual Wielders have a bit of a penalty in that they never achieve the win percentages that the other two types of fighters do but they have an advantage that's not apparent from the combat sim in that they get two rolls per round and thus two chances to get stunt points.   So the dual wielders will in general be the flashier fighters while the other two will be more steadfast and stable fighters.

This works out pretty well to my thinking.

Some things that came out of this is that in Savage Worlds a dual weapon fighter HAS to have ambidexterity to be as effective as the other types of warriors. As a result I'm simply not going to be sticking an off hand penalty into the system.  Anything that's mandatory to be equitable should be a given.

Another thing that came up is that if you assume a multiple action penalty of -2 like Savage Worlds then for the math to add up you can only allow this to be reduced to -1.  If you allow something like Two Fisted to reduce that 0 then the dual weapon fighter becomes drastically better than someone who doesn't wield two weapons.

By removing the off hand penalty completely and then limited MAP removal to -1 and subsequently offering an equivilent advantage to 2 handed fighters to gain +1 attack bonus and shield fighters to gain +1 bonus defense when using shields you continue to keep the math balanced.   If you don't test all three types of fighters against each other then you always run the risk of breaking the math of any system.

Right now the numbers are looking good at this particular juncture, A vs B vs C are within reasonable balance and have a bit of Apples to Oranges feel with them with each type of fighter having a bit of a niche to fill.

There's always though the 'feel' of the system.  I really want to replicate the ease of Savage Worlds system, just with a little different feel and the inclusion of some other mechanics and get the math more in line with what I need to be happy with it.

5Jan/110

Game Math Part Three

Posted by Dennis

I've been noodling the math some more.  I'd come up with a scaling damage system that seems workable but I've hit a bit of a snag.

To sum up the system, your level of ability at something is set by a dice pool.  The more dice you have in the pool the better you are of course.  Each time you need to do something roll the appropraite number of dice and take the highest one.  The dice can ace or explode such that if you roll the highest possible value you get to keep that then roll it again.  This repeats until you don't roll the highest value for that die.

The value you roll is compared against the defense of a target which is a flat number right now, how it's determined is still to be determined but likely it would be a factor of skill and physical defenses.

For every X you roll over the defense of the target, currently for every 4 or 5 units is the number I'm using using d10's for the dice pool, you inflict a damage condition.  This starts at Dazed, then 1 Wound, 2 Wounds, 3 Wounds, 4 Wounds.   Once you get to the 6th condition, 5 wounds, you're dead.  The number of wounds you suffer inflict attack roll penalties.  Unfortuantely this is resulting in a definite death spiral that's hard to get out of.  That's one issue.

The other issue is more subtle.  As your dice pool for your attacking dice goes up, your average value goes up as well which also makes your average damage go up in direct correlation.

The systems I've got my eye on right now for inspiration I'm realizing have flat damage.  It really doesn't matter how good you are with a sword in Savage Worlds or Dungeons and Dragons, you're going to inflict the same base damage pool for the majority of your attacks.

It's realistic of course that someone skilled can inflict more damage than someone unskilled, I don't really have a problem with that.  It's the granularity of it that's the biggest issue.

Someone with a dice pool of 1 die has a  3% chance to defeat someone with 5 dice in their pool and this doesn't even start to bring in the Stunting system which is currently set up with doubles rolled during your dice pool.  i.e. the more dice the higher the chance for doubles the more stunts you can pull off.  2 dice versus 5 dice is 13% chance to win, 3 dice vs 5 dice is 27% chance to win, 4 dice vs 5 dice is a 40% chance.   The percentages change too drastically for me to think this is a workable solution in its current state.

Assuming I remove the ability to increase damage with the use of stunt points this still leaves a limited level of granularity.    Now I do know that the Level +/- x range limitations exist pretty heavily in many games, it's just a fact of life.  But I want content to be more widely useful than say Dungeons and Dragons or Gamma World or Mutants and Masterminds etc.

Perhaps I might have to go back to the drawing board and work with a system of a smaller or larger pools (hates handfuls of dice) and flat bonuses to represent skill levels.

28Dec/100

Dice Mechanics Redux

Posted by Dennis

As I mentioned awhile back I've been tossing around a dice mechanic for a game system.  There's a rather extensive set of design goals I've got floating around in the back of my head.  Here's some random thoughts on existing mechanics that keep them floating.

Disclaimer: I like my systems to be mathematically balanced.  Some people don't, I'm not them.   I don't like systems where combinations of race/class/powers/builds are just world crushingly more powerful.  Whether by accident or player design characters that end up with those combinations make the game less fun.  When one player constantly upstages everyone else during play, you're going to find few enjoy playing.   So balanced math is near the top of the list for design goals.

Let's look at an obvious mechanic in almost every game, weapon damage. Weapons have different damage... for lack of a better word let's use range. Let's take a familiar system to many, Dungeons and Dragons.   A longsword is a d8, a greatsword is 2d6.  One averages 4 points of damage, the other 7.  But it gets tricky, a long sword has +3 to hit while the greatsword is only a +2.  That nudges the longswords damage over time upwards because it hits more often.   A long sword also allows you to use a shield which decreases the damage you take over time because you're harder to damage.

Are they balanced?  Unlikely.  With a limited set of ranges caused by a fixed set of dice (d4,d6,d8,d10,d12) it's not possible to balance them.  You can get them close but there's always going to be a particular weapon that's simply... better to use.

Gamma World Fourth Edition bypasses this by throwing out the whole individualized weapon stats, a move I really applaud.  It's a paradigm shift for this particular style of mechanics.    There is no one best Light 1-Handed Melee weapon in that system.   This is an awesome step forward for roleplay and characterization and a giant step backwards for mechanical diversity.   But the step forward is what I personally care about.

So one of the design goals is that weapons are Gamma World 4E in flavor.  A few broad categories or rather combinations of categories, Light/Heavy, One Handed/Two Handed, Ranged/Melee, define each weapon.  Light weapons favor faster fighters, heavy weapons favor stronger fighters etc.   Light weapons hit more often but do less damage, heavy weapons hit less often but do more damage.

But mathematically is there any real difference?  If something hits more often but less damage and less often for more damage, isn't that simply the same thing by the numbers and all its really doing is giving the illusion of a difference?  Something to think about certainly.

The damage ranges conflict with another design goal, a better roll on your attack increases your damage output.   Dungeons and Dragons allows for this in a binary way, you hit and deal your normal random range of damage or 5% of the time, on a natural 20, you deal maximum damage.    But if you need say a 5 to hit that means that it doesn't matter what you roll really.  You either need any one of 14 numbers, makes no difference which one or that 20.  5-19 always results in the same damage.

It works but I'm thinking, what if your damage scaled in a more granular fashion?  So that a 19 is better than a 15 is better than a 10 is better than a 8 is better than a 5?  That would be pretty cool now wouldn't it?  Of course if we were playing with a computer we could easily do that.  Computers have no trouble computing what 57% of 1d8+4 is.   People, generally not so much, ignoring any Rainmen in the group of course.

On a side note, one of the House Rules I used for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition is I averaged damage across the board.   1d8+4 meant you dealt 8 damage.  It worked really well for speeding up the game and no one found it detracted from it.  So it was a win/win in our group.   Other's who've tried it report a similar overall

After running millions of simulations and computing percentages and spreads and the like my current design (after shelving several) is to use dice pools for your attempt roll.  The 'better' you are at something the more dice you get to rol but you still only use ONE of them.  The pool currently ranges from 1 to 5 with non-skilled getting 1 die with some penalties and legendary world shaking heroes getting 5 dice with bonuses.

To this basic premise I add the ability to fine tune percentages by adding flat bonuses, a flat bonus nudges the percentages up by (1/dice size)*100) percent.

A hero with a some training in Heavy Melee skill might have a 2d8+4 which averages out to roughly a 10, while a 5d8+4 averages 1 better with an 11.

Whaaaa? you might be saying, increasing the dice pool from 2 to 5 increases my average roll by only 1 point (technically it's 1.4 give or take).  That's crazy, why spend character points to get bigger pools?

Well there's a fix I have in mind for that which is simply adding in the exploding or acing dice mechanic from Savage worlds.   Which simply means that if you roll the maximum on a dice you get to roll it again and add them together.   With explosions turned on let's run those numbers again.    2d8+4 exploding now averages 11 per roll.  5d8+4 exploding is 13.6 so we've gained a 2.5 higher roll.   That's a more reasonable gain.

Exploding dice also have a very critical (to me anyway) benefit of allowing anyone to successfully attack anyone. Granted it might be a ' slim chance' but there's none of that "Oh they're level 2's and I'm a level 12?  Pfffft, I just walk through them, they don't have much chance to hit me and if they do it'll take a week to burn through my hit points.  Meanwhile every time I swing three die."  This is important to me because it keeps all content relevant.  There are no creatures that get 'out leveled'.   That's one thing I dislike about Dungeons and Dragons in all Editions but especially 4E.  Any creature four levels higher or four levels lower than the players is difficult to impossible to use.   They're either impossible to hit or impossible to miss or vice versa depending on your viewpoint.

One of the other design goals was the use of 'stunting' dice mechanic that Dragon Age Origins RPG brought to the table.  With that system you roll 3d6 but one's an off color.  That die is your stunt die and the value shown gives you that many stunt points you can use to give your attack a bit of 'oomph' by letting you knock someone down or daze them or move after the attack etc.  In other words you're encouraged to do cool shit on your turn which is never a bad thing.

Now we could go with an odd color in a dice pool and that would work certainly.  But what if instead we say that if you roll doubles of a number you get that many stunt points...  That gives a player a bigger incentive to up their dice pools than purely more chances to succeed.

Your chance of getting doubles with 2d8 is only 12.5%,  with 5d8 though you're going to end up with doubles 83% of the time.  Which kind of makes sense, a barely trained fighter is going to be lucky to hit you with a sword much less do a double flip over the bar, bounce off the mirror after cracking the bartender on the skull and then swing out to catch the chandelier to swing over to the door.  But a legendary warrior with a 83% chance of getting some stunt points should be able to do something that awesome a majority of the time.

Another design goal the use of a bell curve where extreme swings in value are infrequent is in one of those shelved systems but I had to drop it as I like the idea of dice pools.  It might be possible to 'do the math' and come up with a way to drag it back in but for now it's on a back burner.

By the way, the d8 I refer to is simply a placeholder.  I've yet to determine which die size offers the best results for the damage design goal.

So right now my current mechanic, using a dice pool for attacks of exploding dice along with a way to allow for stunting handles several of my large view goals.

The trick is of course going through the nuts and bolts of the minutiae.   How to handle specialized training? What about weapon quality?  What are the typical min/max ranges of bonus possibilities and penalties.  What about the range of target numbers you're trying to succeed at, whether it's whacking someone with a sword or picking a lock or convincing a tavern wench to meet you after closing?

Let's not forget about weapon classifications, how do we truly differentiate those?   What about damage mitigation?  How many hits, hit points, damage ratings does it take to go from healthy to dead?  How many attacks does that take on average?  Is it too slow to be fun aka the high level solo boss slog in 4E or too flast like the one hit kill possibility in Savage Worlds?

Game mechanic design isn't something you can just jot off on a piece of paper.  You can have what appears to be an awesomely workable system but then once you start coming up with all the nuts and bolts it just falls apart.

But running through it is certainly mentally stimulating.

29Nov/100

Castle Ravenloft – New Adventures

Posted by Dennis

Played a solo game of Castle Ravenloft yesterday, first time playing and was immediately struck by expandable by the consumer the game would be.

Sure enough a quick search this morning and there's a bunch of new adventures, heroes, magic items and the like available.

You can get started over on this thread on Board Game Geek and start picking up all kinds of nifty things for the game.

The game is very simple to pick up, assuming you've played 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons or at least have some faimiliarty with it.

The solo Adventure 1 turned out to be a cake walk for me as the Dragonborne Warrior as one of the first itmes I looted was a Teleport Scroll.  I just kept exploring edges, killing monsters till Strahd woke up and came after me.  Once he entered my tile, I burned the teleport scroll and put myself on the far side of the dungeon and kept digging through the tiles while he came after me again but I found the Secret Staircase before he got anywhere near me.

Without the teleport scroll I'd of probably been dead, the Staircase tile was 4 tiles deep and I was out of Healing Surge tokens with a skeleton, a ghoul and a gargoyle and of course Strahd.  The teleport to get out of jail free card was pretty much that, an I Win button.

Short review - Good quality materials, game is reasonably fun, playable solo and provides a bit of a 4E hit when you don't have any other options.  It's a basic dungeon crawl, you navigate a randomly generated tile based map finding and killing monsters, collecting treasure and trying to achieve the Victory Conditions of the specific adventure you're play.  There's quite a bit of luck to the game, weighted to that end in fact given monsters, loot, attack rolls, tile selection are all randomly generated.  Your only real tactics are in picking and choosing when to burn one use powers and items.  But with additional characters in play this can be mediated to some extent.

If you're a DM who wants to play 4E this is one way to do it.  If your'e a group of people and just want a beer and pretzels session of 4th Edition without having to deal with character generation and running a 'full' session this certainly fills that need.

Overall I'll give it a 4 out of 5.

15Sep/100

Rule 1 – Casters Get Dicked

Posted by Dennis

I'm working with Savage Worlds and now that I"m wanting to delve into Fantasy I'm finding another system I need to try and get around the Casters Get Dicked syndrome with this one.  It seems in many systems the philosphy seems to be that Magic is some dark and dreadful thing that only masochists need apply to.

Warning: Some people are going to find this sacrilege and even possibly offensive depending on how much they cleave to this idea of magic and their personal sensitivity to something they believe being questioned.   You've been warned.

Remember the first time you played DnD and wanted to make a cool wizard?  And then got told he averaged 2 hit points when the least weapon averaged 2 points of damage? For the math impaired that meant a single successful hit on average would remove the character from play and leave the player to sit there with nothing to do.

And that they got maybe 2-3 spells they could use. For the ENTIRE day?And had to play the Fortuneteller game and try and decide which 2 or 3 of their several spells they should get memorized.  And then the caster gets to toss his one or two Magic Missiles and then guess what he pulls out some weapon he has little hope of hitting with and does little damage with.  A well chewed and almost tasteless bone to throw to the poor player so they can keep participating in the game.

Toss in that whole Materials component book keeping and it's a wonder anyone bothered to be bothered with it.  And frankly in my experience a wizard was far from the class of choice for most of the players I had under me over the last 20 years.

I'm running into the same issue I've had with DnD (barring 4th edition) since day one and various other systems since up to and including Savage Worlds.   To wit, the caster gets a limited use of his characters bedrock, underlying most basic abilities, the ability to cast spells.

Meanwhile the Rogue simply doesn't run out of backstabs.  The ranger can fire his bow all day long.  The fighter can swing an axe until the cows come home.

But the gods help the player who wants to be a caster.  He has to continually try and guess how many fights there are going to be before the next rest period so he can husband his powers and not be stuck throwing rocks after the first fight.   Yay, how heroic!

On top of that with Savage Worlds, every time, every SINGLE time the caster tries to use any of the abilities that define his character he's subjected to a chance to knock himself out and if he's stupid enough to keep using them when he's wounded he can actually kill himself by casting the simplest spells.  Yes I'm not making that up.

After hearing that a couple of the Savage World's settings books, to wit Solomon Kane and Hellfrost have non-resource management mini-games for their world settings.  And after reading them yes they both do away with the resource management.  But they delve into a Let's Dick The Caster Even Worse area.  In both of these systems one in 36 times that the caster screws up their use of their basic powers their ability to use their powers decreases.  Permanently.  That's right even the best wizard on the planet will eventually fail often enough that they'll end up without any magic ability at all.

In addition their system, called Backlash tables, penalize the caster with being knocked loopy to taking damage and typically losing the ability to use their powers for anywhere from several rounds to several days.

Yes, just by using the powers that make them what they are, that are their reason for existence they can and are penalized to the extent that their character is permanently screwed over and fairly often they're forced to come up with some other way to play. Not an option to play differently, forced to.

Meanwhile the rogue is still having a great time stabbing people in the back and never once will he ever kill himself doing it, nor knock himself out, nor ever have even the most minute chance of losing his ability to stab people.

The ranger is still shooting people and having a hell of a time, picking them off from afar and up close.  Let the gray geese fly he cries with gleeful abandon and no worries an arrow is going to loop around and hit him in the eye.

The warrior can leap into the middle of any fray, day or night, without a care that he can swing maybe 3 or 4 times and then he's down to name calling because he ran out of energy.  Never is he going to manage to lop off his own hands and remove his ability to swing an axe.

I have to applaud 4th Edition for seeing that this is a problem and for deciding to do something about it. That this particular vision of magic as laid down by the great Gygax and company doesn't have to be carried forth as a sacred cow on a platter.

And if they'd of gone the other way with it and made a resource management game for every single other playing option, i.e. warriors only get X swings per day, rangers only get X shots per day etc. while I'd of seriously questioned their sanity at least it would have been fair and equitable across the board.

Of course your opinion on any of this can differ, you may enjoy the strategic points of playing a caster and trying to figure out when you should just sit back and do nothing and when you should toss out a spell or two.  But I think, and this is just my opinion, I think that the majority of people simply want to be able to be a wizard and throw magic missles around all day long just like the ranger does and not have to count beans and sit out of combats because it hasn't been eight hours of game time yet so they can rest and get their three spells back again.

Anyway, I thought I would just go off on a bit of a mild rant or perhaps express my thoughts on how I felt on this subject.

In an aside this is an issue I have primarily because I don't see it as being very fair, indeed it's very unfair in my eyes the differences in classes in a fantasy setting.  I do NOT have this same objection to say a super heroic setting where EVERYONE has the same resource management issues.  Where everyone has X amount of power to do the the things their character is built to do.  That I have no problem with at all.

Happy gaming!

7Jun/100

CATS Podcast Episode 17 – Part 3

Posted by Dennis

Episode 17, part 3 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.

7Jun/100

CATS Podcast Episode 17 – Part 2

Posted by Dennis

Episode 17, part 2 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.

7Jun/100

CATS Podcast Episode 17 – Part 1

Posted by Dennis

Episode 17, part 1 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.

1Jun/100

Cats Session 18

Posted by Dennis

This is our Finale session for the summer, during the hiatus we'll be delving into the Savage Worlds system.

Everyone is present and accounted for in this session, Biminey, Stak, T'Balktu, Torel, Visra.  Our heroes have reached level 10 in the quest to end the dangers to their little corner of the world.

We join them in Aricee's lair where the dragon, shifted into human female form, instructs them in their tasks, how they must defeat the Guardian of the Lance of Unmaking, recover the Lance and then go to Darkmith to destroy the Chaosborn.

T'Balktu and Aricee spend a few hours alone while the rest work on their gear and Biminey crafts magical items.  Aricee gifts T'Balktu for his performance with a matching set of axes, the greataxe known as Ghost Slayer and the throwing axe known as Splintertree.  He is pleased as was she.  And it's not everyone who gets to lay with a dragon.  Which I'm sure will have no dire consequences...

They proceed toward the Guardian's lair after Aricee assures them that she will help them return after they find out it's a chute down into a room.  Biminey uses his Ladder ritual to make it easy to descend into the depths.

There they find a floorless room with flipping platforms on gears and pistons to stand on.  As the fourth one comes down the platform flips and almost tosses Biminey [I think] into the bottomless darkness but a quick grab by one of the other's saves him from certain death. [Yes this was a return to the Save or Die of the old days but it is the season finale and the dangers are ramped up accordingly.]

They spread out and defeat the constructs that are attacking them for serious damage, inadvertently spreading out and reducing the risk of any particular platform flipping over. [A platform flipped on a roll of 15 or high, +2 for each person on the platform over 1.  By splitting up they made it a lot less likely that a platform would flip.  Purely unintentional on their part.]

They moved around the room, jumping from platform to platform with Biminey working his way closer to the central brain to shut it down but the amount of damage the party can pump out swiftly overwhelmed the mobile portions of the construct.  There was another bit of a hair raiser as T'Balktu jumped on the platform that Biminey was on and caused it to flip over sending T'Balktu plunging to his death only to be snagged at the last second by Bimney's Acrobatics roll (which he has no skill in) saving T'Balktu's player from having two deaths in the campaign.

Under the platforms they uncovered the Lance and retrieved with T'Balktu nimbly climbing the pistols and gears to get to it.  There was no sign of Aricee so they left the room of the guardian by T'Balktu using the lance to open a passage through the shielding magic.

Aricee was waiting at the top and she had a bit of an interlude with T'Balktu in a frozen moment of time where she gave him her True Name so he could destroy the crystal binding her to her service as the tunnel's guardian.   When he destroyed the crystal embedded into her chest a two headed dragon shadow was cast from the explosion of light.  T'Balktu kept this bit of information to himself.

They talked with Aricee about what they were supposed to do, "Kill the chaosborn" and she was going to get them to their destination and bring their airship to them and support them in their battle.

[In an aside, with herself free from her captivity she didn't give a rat's ass about the chaosborn, a minor annoyance only to her and simply wanted the party out of her hair figuratively speaking.  When she didn't show up to help, when they had to walk back because there was no airship, and later on as Biminey figures out the whole 'explode the airship' was bullshit the light began to dawn on the group.  "Never trust a dragon." isn't a phrase that came about by whim and whimsy.]

The group found themselves in Darkmith where a war was going on.  They spotted the central power area and headed that way, failing their attempts to sneak through town and were surrounded by undead, summoned by Phy'el Fleshwalker for the battle.  They defeated a huge swarm of undead only to seem hundreds more running after them.  When the undead all stopped and Phy'el himself appeared.  "If you win, remember I did you no harm when I could have." he says and all the undead drop motionless to the ground as the cut the strings binding them to him.  Phy'el has long held a grudge against Liloth and her King and like all good evil people is more than happy to screw them over for slights they have done him.  And he's also hedging his bets, he senses the magic artifact the group possesses, trying to curry a little future favor perhaps.

They push on and reach the ziggurat of power where the Chaosborn is being reborn.  Liloth his lover is climbing the tower toward him.

T'Balktu kicks on his Ghost Slayer ability and charges the Creature, slaying it, at least it's human form, releasing the chaosbeast within.  He continues to use the Lance of Unmaking against the creature, finally destroying it and the group turns its attention to Liloth who's a little upset at the events.  But the group has grown too strong for this little regional hazard and mops up the floor with Liloth and the pet shadows.

They recover a Shadowblade, a dreadful greatsword from the shadowfey that was the Chaosborn's weapon and very gingerly maneuver it into a bag of holding without touching it.

They help mop up the city, joining in with the hobgoblin tribes battling the minor darkness's still released in the city alongside the strange eyeless, mouthless priests of the white king.

Leaving the city, on foot, they trudge through the swamps surrounding the city and stop off to spend a couple of days with the Soul Eaters in their home range, the tattoo's on their arms are extended by the tattoo artists of the tribe, depicting their battles against the darkness in stylized abstracts.

They continue back to Larkson where they find Teagon working a power play to take over the city and remove the Council.  He's hired more mercenaries from Anvil and after all the fighting his forces outnumber the Watch.    With the group informing him that the deed is done and the city is safe he bargains with them to join in.

The group does and become partners with Teagon.  They arrange for Garon and the just appointed Merchant faction Councilor Neev to be moved out of power gently as possible.  They work a deal to keep the Watch alive and in their control and direct all martial activities in the city, although everyone understands that with Teagon holding the purse strings that feeds the mercenairies that that control could be tenuous.  But Teagon is smart and wise and understands the power that the group presents so the deal is made and at this time both sides appear to be genuinely interested in keeping it.  The group will receive a 1000 golds a month each for their portion of the bargain, a fortune really for this town although Biminey is going to donate his income to the Watch to help train, equip and restore them.  The Watch lost most of their men, dead or injured beyond fighting ability, and what's left are the lucky, green and inept without only a small cadre of veterans.

They bring the airship into town and then fly out to the slaver stronghold searching for the two ships full of the town's women and children, finding only a work crew lead by a slaver working on rebuilding the islands buildings.  They capture them all, interrogate them and then destroy the newly constructed works and building materials and fly back to their city.

Sushanna tells Biminey that one of the until now dead lights on the ship's consoles lit green for a few hours one day while they were gone (during their walk back to Larkson).

When they get back to the city, there is talk of a flying creature spotted in the skies out to sea, seen more by it's blocking out the stars than any direct visual.  It was assumed to be the group's airship but when word got around that it wasn't then other people stepped forth saying it was a vast flying creature, a dragon certainly.

What it was, what the green light means, where the slavers took the slaves, where did Phy'el wander off to, where the slavers main bases are and what they're doing, the rebuilding of the city of Larkson and the outcome of the battle of Darkmith, these questions and more will have to wait till we pick up this campaign and enter the Tier of the Paragon's...

Image Credits

16May/100

CATS Session 17

Posted by Dennis

We start our little soiree with everyone present, Biminey, Stak, T'balktu and Visra.  The group meets with the Council and founds out all the bad news, the town was attacked shortly after the group left by portals pouring through undead inside as funnel clouds descended and ripped up the protective stonework even as an army of undead swarmed over the outside walls.

The priests of the temple of Eris were able to eventually sever the controlling strings of the undead and they all dropped to the ground motionless and the citizen rose up in arms to destroy those wandering the city streets.

As the group arrived back they found Captain Werrick missing one of his legs from the knee down and discovered that he led a force against three figures that seemed to be commanding the forces as well as breaching the walls, a female in white, a mostly nude man who's flesh morphed and wavered and a dark shadow figure.

They also learned that 'merchant ships from the south' had arrived and were taking on women and children to sail them to safety.  Two of the three ships had already left filled to the brim with children and women and the third was still loading.

The group jumped to the conclusion that the ships were slavers picking up an easy profit and headed to the harbor.

They ran into a group of sailors and approached them.  A noble looking individual confirmed that what the group suspected and delivered an ultimatum, the group delivers the airship to the island and they give the women and children back.  If they don't deliver the airship then they're going to infect all the captives with the parasites and give them back.

The discussion rapidly went downhill.  The noble turned out to be a fake, while the real noble, a fire mage of some power was dressed as a sailor.  The sailors were quickly put down leaving the fire mage and the slaver lashmaster.  As things took a turn for the worse for the slavers the firemage made his escape using a contingency teleport ring to teleport back to the ship leaving the lashmaster who surrendered to the group.  As he made his getaway he told the group that they'd just doomed one ship full of children and if they wanted the others returned then bring the airship to him.

The gruop took a few minutes to recover, loot and discuss the thing and smoke started rising from the harbor.  They rushed to the harbor and found several of the small fishing ships on fire as well as the docks and warehouse. People  rushed in to quench the flames.  Once it was clear the flames were under control  the group got out their longboat and sailed out to the airship and set off after the fleeing slaver ship.

after an attempt to set the ship's sails on fire failed, the firemage simply doused the flames, Stak shot a note down to the ship demanding the slavers debark in the ships boats and leave the captives onboard.   The slavers failed to listen so the group started riddleing it with ballista bolts.  The slavers quickly retaliated by lashing their captives to the sides of the ship.  This failed to deter the group and they continued to try and sink the ship.  And yes their ballista bolts hit more than one captive.

On board the ship the firemage weighed his options and found them wanting and performed a ritual that exploded the entire ship, killing everyone on board rather than see group rescue a single one.

The group turned the air ship around and headed back to its usual place with a rather somber atmosphere.   They re-entered the city.  Torel's new found ability to see the lines of power protecting the city while holding the battle standard lead them to an old reading room now in use by the high priest as a bedroom as he didn't feel comfortable taking the last high priest's bedroom.

They found a mosaic in the floor and using the key they've been carrying for so long they triggered a lift, the entire floor of the room that dropped them down deep into the earth into a chamber.

There they were accosted by constructs demanding a pass phrase, when it wasn't forthcoming they fought the constructs.  Torel in his infinite avenger wisdom opened a door and added in another set of constructs.   But with clever use of the Deamon Heart amulet and a failed reaction roll the new buzz saw construct fought with one of the other's and the two ended up dealing something like 150+ points of damage to each other which was probably one of the few things that could have saved the group.   In total the encounter ended up a level 15 against a level 9 party which would typically result in someone or all someone's dying.  But by setting two of them on each other they removed roughly 300 damage the group would have had to absorb and added 300 damage to the group's output.   Call it luck if you will but it saved them.

Inside the second chamber they found the Book of All Things and Biminey was able to recover an ass load of residium from the cylidners powering the protections on the room as well as enough parts to make a new construct, a mobile buzzsaw that he can deploy in combat.

As they left the temple they were met by Aricee, a strange being in the form of a plain looking woman but with the eyes of a dragon.  She opened a portal leading them into her lair where they waded through piles of gold and jewels to a side chamber where they were fed a great meal.

Aricee told them that their best chance in the upcoming battle was to recover the Lance of Unmaking which is located deep in her lair guarded by a creature.  She tells them she guards the lair, the guardian guards the lance and she has a device embedded in her chest that protects the lance from her.

The group is located in an instant between the past and future and will have several days grace before the time in the world ticks over and the chaosborn is freed.   This gives them time to prepare, recover the lance and save the world.

She also tells them that the lance and the banner may not be enough and that it is possible to destroy the airship in a single cataclysmic event that will unmake everything in the blast radius.

We leave our group there as they prepare to descend into the tunnels after the Lance of Unmaking for their final climatic battle against the chaosborn and go down in a ball of flame or emerge victorious.

Image Credits

14May/100

CATS Podcast Episode 15 – Part 3

Posted by Dennis

Episode 15, part 3 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.

14May/100

CATS Podcast Episode 15 – Part 2

Posted by Dennis

Episode 15, part 2 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.

14May/100

CATS Podcast Episode 15 – Part 1

Posted by Dennis

Episode 15, part 1 of the Key Our Cars group's 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast gameplay session.

Subscribe to the feed - http://www.keyourcars.com/feed/podcast/

Also available through iTunes.