Posts Tagged ‘4e’

Changing horses midstream, pt 1

July 15, 2012

My 4e D&D game has now passed its third birthday. What started with three players in May 2009 dealing with mysterious zombie uprisings and hostile tribes of Shifters lurking in the woods has transformed to a cosmos-hopping six player epic scale beast with all of Creation at stake. I’ve never had a single game run this long, nor been running one system pretty much exclusively for this length of time.

But a couple months ago I started to feel burnt out. (more…)

D&D Organized Play: Encounters and Lair Assault

November 4, 2011

I think I’ve run more D&D this year than I have, well, ever.  My Friday night 4E Keep on the Borderlands campaign continues bi-weekly.  I’m taking it slow, so they have just reached 7th level and we’re discussing where they want to go in the Paragon Tier.  It’ll take a little time for those ideas to settle, but they are already bearing fruit, as I’ve created a mini-campaign for levels 7-8 in a lost dragonborn city sunken into the swamp south of the Keep.  There was always going to be a set of ruins there, but since our dragonborn paladin/warlord hybrid expressed interest in becoming a Scion of Arkoshia at Paragon, and eventually recreate the old empire(?!), I tied together some pre-gen draconic adventures to expand the ruins.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have also been running the D&D Encounters program at the local game store, The Gaming Goat, that opened this year in Elgin.  When they opened in January, the Keep on the Borderlands season of encounters was already running (D’oh, I would have liked to have seen what WoTC did with that), so I started running with season 4 of Encounters in March.  Since then I’ve been running a 2-hr ‘Chapter’ pretty much each Wednesday, only taking off when I’ve been out of town for work for two weeks in June, and a week in October.  Running a short, regular game each week that I don’t have to prepare much for has been interesting.  Some times really fun, it can also be a bit of a chore since, designed as a pick-up game anyone can show up for, there isn’t any practical way to call off on short notice if something comes up.  And the restriction to play Wednesdays only (as mandated by WotC) means it’s been inconvenient at times for both players and DM alike.  Fortunately we have developed a couple of alternate DMs since March, which is good, since that first season (March – May) saw me sometimes running 8 or 9 players in a scenario written for 4-6.  Adding monsters helps balance things, but it also means every turn takes a loooong time.  But since we started splitting into two tables of no more than 6 players, the pressure of wondering how I would accommodate more players has gone.


[4e] Solos and Big Bosses

September 27, 2010

In my tabletop game last week, the players got themselves into a situation where I needed to drop a dragon on them.  True to form for them, they’d gone and done something I wasn’t entirely expecting so I didn’t have the encounter prepped beyond knowing that it was an Adult Red with a Githyanki Sword Seeker riding it. I opened the MM1 to the page on Dragon, Red, Adult and the fight began.  Within a few rounds I realized there were serious problems here and that I needed to look at some of the Solo redesign philosophies that have come out in the 2.5 years since MM1. (more…)

Serpent’s Skull Conversion: Backgrounds

September 21, 2010

Mostly a thought exercise, but here are some D&D 4e conversion notes for the Serpent’s Skull Player’s Guide from Paizo. If you’re unfamiliar with the model: Paizo publishes a free introduction to each of their Adventure Paths. The Serpent’s Skull path has pirates, jungles, and Robin Laws fiction, so I’m all over that.

The bulk of the Player’s Guide is background and notes on why particular races or classes would be on this adventure. This needs no conversion. The interesting conversion bits are the Campaign Traits, which correspond roughly to 4e backgrounds. I say roughly because they are somewhat more immediate than 4e backgrounds — e.g., you can take Boarded in Cheliax, which says nothing about your background beyond where you got on the ship. Still, I think the 4e background rules still work well.

The Player’s Guide says that characters may take two campaign traits; in 4e, a player may take up to six backgrounds, but only one of them provides any mechanical benefits. That rule remains. The actual conversions follow the break.

Essential Readings: HotFL pt 2

September 12, 2010

Okay, dinner has been consumed. Back into the book.


Essential Reading: Heroes of the Fallen Lands pt 1

September 12, 2010

No idea how many  parts this will be. I’m just going to start going through the book and commenting on interesting things in a somewhat disorganized manner. I should note that I’m reading/writing this from the perspective of someone familiar with 4e but who hasn’t been obsessively keeping up with the previews and spoilers for Essentials.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin… (more…)

The student is now the master

August 31, 2010

My wife is DMing her first D&D game. After years of playing games I’ve run, and years of ones our friend Jon ran before that, she’s absorbed the most important lesson of Dungeon Mastering: A.B.C. Always. Be. Cilling PCs. Okay, Killing. But ABK doesn’t sound as good. (more…)

4e and Windows

May 21, 2010

Briefly, the secret to defeating opponents quickly in 4e: create windows of advantage, and go through them as quickly as possible.

Example: use action points and dailies in two circumstances. First, use them when you have a temporary advantage. Am I playing a ranged character, and does my target grant me combat advantage? That won’t last forever. Unload now. Bonus points if I understand the capabilities of my party and I know that sometimes I’ll get combat advantage plus a bonus to hit. Then I can wait for the +4.

Or is the monster nearly dead? Does it go right after me? If I can kill it now, I reduce its options in a rather dramatic fashion, so let’s do that. Maybe it’s worth spending an action point to finish it off, even. If half of my party gets a turn before it goes, well, then the impact of my extra attack is not as large, relatively speaking. The window of advantage is longer.

GMs can play this game too. People will tell you that a high level cleric can outheal anything your monsters can do. That’s nice, but clerics get to act once per round just like everyone else. Start your focus fire with the monster who goes after the cleric, and see if you can drop the target before the cleric gets a chance to do anything. Rinse, repeat.

Or just focus fire on the cleric. The defender may do something to you as a result. Big deal. Her AC is 3 points higher than the cleric’s anyhow, so you’re more likely to hit the cleric than the defender and you’ll do more damage to the cleric expressed as a percentage of the cleric’s hit points. Use your windows. Open windows for yourself. Sure, the swordmage can blunt one attack per round, but only one. Open the window by using up his immediate actions.

Disclaimer: in practice I always wind up using my action points and dailies because my PC is pissed or enthusiastic or whatever. My PCs aren’t usually as smart about tactics as I am. (Which is a low bar anyhow.)

More musings on 4e and my apparent software/hardware mismatch.

March 19, 2010

I usually don’t read gaming blogs (present company excluded), but a friend on LiveJournal (badlydrawnjeff) linked to a post this morning about 4e combat, I thought it articulated the reasons 4e probably did not click for me the one time I played it, and I thought I could boil that post down into a simple mathematical formula:

A) Powers: “we’re playing a card game now” +

B) Positioning minis: “we’re playing chess now” +

C) Too Many Choices: choices for movement, choices for hitting, choices for encounter/daily/etc powers… it leads to boardgame over-thinking and stagnation =

D) Combat is just too damned long.



More 4e Supers

March 11, 2010

More thoughts going back to this post.

-I really love the mechanic for the Psi classes (except the Monk). That feels how Supers should work – having an Augmentable pool so you can really push to have a big effect when you need it. I immediately think of Cyclops for some reason, putting points in to make weird bank-shots or for massive damage effect or something.  Or those things could all just be his various Encounters and Dailies I suppose.

-Travel powers. Bill and I hit upon this while looking through PHB3: handle them like the Skill Powers. You can swap out Utilities for them or use a Feat to buy more of them. In some ways I like this and in some the “everybody gets an At-Will for free” works better. Not entirely certain there.

-With the now 5×4 grid of Power Source/Role (and some doubling up) there still doesn’t feel like there’s  a good pattern to use to map onto supers genre conventions as neatly as I would like. I think Race and Class are probably going to be individually determined and may not bear any consistency from one character to another (I mean, look at Mutants or Aliens or Robots. They don’t really have much in common from one character to the next that can easily map onto “all aliens are Deva and all Mutants are Gnomes”). I’d really like to not have that kind of looseness, but that’s just me. I would sit down and ask someone to describe the kind of character and powers they would want and try to find the best match. Role is the primary foundation here, so once someone decided they want to be a Controller, for example, then the differences between Wizard, Invoker, Druid, Seeker and Psion dictate the class (have to work up a chart to define the differences more concretely. I think of a Wizard as more pure AoE status control and an Invoker as doing more AoE damage and debuffs but that may not be accurate). I think I just have to let go of my Bert-like control issues on this one.

-One of the most important things is to be able to use the Character Builder. The damage types and flavor text are entirely handwaved but the powers and feats themselves should remain constant. Equipment largely goes away thanks to the DMG2’s Inherent Bonuses (thanks, Bryant).  Doing the travel powers as outside at-wills wouldn’t interact with the Builder at all and would allow for skill-monkey Batman-type characters to really shine.

I think I may well be at the point where I want to get some people together and try making up some characters, and then FIGHT! just to see what it looks like.

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