Monday, March 29, 2010

Rays of All Sorts

Heard from the PC Gallery:
"Ray of Frost"
"Ray of Enfeeblement"
"Ray of Exhaustion"
"Ray of magical snack items"
"Can I cast it on myself?"
"Poof -- you're a twinkie."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

4E or not to 4E

So yesterday I had the conversation with the girls and my wife.

"So D&D 3.5 is getting old and the world is moving on so we need to figure out what direction we're going to go.  We can either switch to 4, which is what we've been watching them play on D&D robot chicken..."

"I really don't like the cards and I don't want to have to learn a whole new system."

"... or we can switch to Pathfinder, which an extension to 3.5 that fixes some of the problems."

I also mentioned that some of the races were changing in 4E.  S, who plays Coco the gnome, was not amused.

I also mentioned that Pathfinder adds some new classes and such.

I also mentioned that we can get Hero Labs for Pathfinder.

The troops were sold on Pathfinder.  So as soon as we can assemble the necessary materials, I guess we're switching over to Pathfinder.

-DM Dad

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Box of Knowledge

I have a hard time keeping track of spells and abilities and special items.

So the other day in an office supply store I picked up and index card box and a bunch of graph paper 4x6 index cards, along with some index tabs.

Now I am having all the players give me a list of their special abilities, spells, and special items.  Each one gets written on a card.  Now when I need to remember how something works, it is at my fingertips without trying to wrestle through books and indices during the game.

The City Beneath the Earth Part 3

So our fearless adventurers start again down their path.

The group first must cross a 20 foot wide, 20 foot deep rivine with a slippery board to walk across.  Jerry jumps and the rest balance on the board using a rope tied across for balance.

They emerge into the next cavern to find a group of duegar, 6 to be exact.

The rogue has smartened up and learned about flanking.  She works with everyone to start flanking opponents so she can backstab.  The crew waylays the duegar group.  Only the ranger seems to have issues with the dice being kind.

The final building seems the logical location for the forge, especially since there is a water wheel on the side of the building with a drow chained to it -- the drow is walking like a hamster in a wheel to run something.

The rogue, Dahlia, tries the door.  It is unlocked.  She activates her dagger, which allows her to teleport inside invisibly and make one backstab before becoming visible.  She finds a very large duegar pounding on a forge.  She gets the first hit, but then all heck breaks loose and her teammates come charging in.

The group easily takes out the duegar smith, unfortunately, because I fogort he had three heal potions.
"Bad DM"  *Smacks self in head*

The group finds some magical weapons, a big pile of gold used to run the forge, and, of course, the forge.

The ward is afixed to the forge and everyone waits.

The forge teleports out, but not before a massive wave of magical energy erupts causing the cavern to start to collapse.

The group of adventurers makes a run for it.  Each room finds them making reflex throws to avoid falling cavern damage.  The obstacles on the way in (cable car across the river that fell, plank across the rivine) still remain, but do not hold up the group this time.

Happily the group exits with their lives, their loots, and a bit of anger for the dwarf that set them up.

They speak briefly with the dwarf about the cavern collapsing, but the paladin doesn't let them be anything more than unpleasant.

And with that delve, the party now has some characters at level 7.

-DM Dad

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The City Beneath the Earth Part 2

So our adventure starts off with the bard and ranger in one cramped cavern, and the remaining three (paladin, rogue, barbarian) in a slightly larger cavern, separated by the occurrences during a river crossing.

I let the bard and ranger play ahead where they run into a larger group of duegar, outnumbered more than 2 to 1.  The gnome bard is easily grabbed up and put in manacles.  The ranger starts to fight but decides not to take her chances.  They disappear off the board.

The group of three plays forward and find a larger cavernous room with a pit.  The pit contains their missing comrades and 3 drow, and is guarded by spiders.

The rogue, thinking quickly, presses the magical gem on her dagger and transports invisible to right behind a spider.  A backstab and a round later, the spider is dead.

Leno, the paladin, and Jerry, the barbarian, run to take out the other spiders.  Jerry triggers a pit trap that collapses into the larger pit, but misses getting pulled in.

The drow observe at first and then, realizing the attempted escape by the newly captured slaves of their slavers, attack the unarmed ranger and gnome bard in the pit.  The rogue comes to the aid of the bard as she climbs out of the pit.  The ranger gets taken out by a pair of drow.  The barbarian and paladin finish off the spiders.  Jerry is distracted by a chest where he finds the missing equipment.  Leno lends support with her crossbow.

Finally Jerry jumps into the pit and starts hacking away on the two drow.

With 1 member down, 2 nearly dead, and the others hurting, the group finally emerges victorious.  Badly beaten and low on supplies (Why do they never buy potions?), they leave the caves to rest and return another day.

--DM Dad

The City beneath the Earth Part 1

Briff Stonehammer meets with adventurer's in a tavern to ask them to perform a task for him.  The town he previously lived in was swallowed by the earth.  In this town, a magical forge existed that was used to make magical weapons to fight against the Duegar.  Briff has recently located the entrance to a cavern which he believes leads underground to the town.  Unfortunately, a wyvern has taken the entry cavern as a home, so he needs a group to go in, get past the wyvern, and investigate.  If the forge is found, Briff provides a ward to place on it that will teleport the 1000lb piece back to the surface.  The adventurers are offered 10,000 gp if the forge is found and returned.  The adventurer's may also keep anything they find.  Briff hints that since the forge runs on gold, they may find both gold and magic weapons.

The group now consists of:
*Lino, half-eld paladin, played by P.
*Dahlia, human rogue, played by K.
*Jerry, human barbarian, played by V.
*Annah, half-elf ranger, played by C.
Coco, gnome bard, played by S.

The group wanders into the cavern and surprises the wyvern huddled in the refuse of slaughtered cattle in a large blood-spattered cavern.  Near the back of the cavern, the remnants of a building stand, with a roof sticking out perhaps 2 or 3 feet off the ground.

The adventurers make quick work of the wyvern who is gone in a mere two rounds.

Jerry quickly charges over the ground and onto the roof, ignoring calls for Dhalia to check it out first.

A crack and a crash later finds Jerry fallen through the roof into a rock enclosed pit in the base of the house.  The group taunts him thoroughly for not listening and then throws him a rope.

Over the roof, the party finds another cavern with a perfectly preserved house at the other end.  Checking as they go, they make a couple of rounds of movement when up pops a Xorn.  From their knowledge, the party knows that Xorn, which closely resembles a clawed, armored, three-legged plant stand with a ravenous mouth on top, is an earth dweller that can smell the jewels they carry in packs and attached to weapons and mugs.  If he is hungry, he will be wanting to eat them.

The group attacks and the xorn responds.  Lino rolls a critical and is able to kill the xorn with a single stabbing blow after her teammates have weakened it.

The part proceeds cautiously through the unlocked doors of the next building.  They find a brew pub complete with tables, chairs, and small bar, and three large 8 feet high kegs built into the back wall.  The search through the cobwebs and find nothing.  Jerry pulls out a mug and flips open a tap, only to unleach a flood of skunked ale into the room.  The door clicks locked behind them, leaving their ranger standing outside with a bewildered look on her face.

The party is going to act fast.  They have only a few rounds before the room will be filled and only a couple of rounds before the rather short gnome will be treading water.  Lino acts quickly and opens another spigot, disabling the trap, unlocking the door for Annah, and reveal a tunnel further into the cavern.

Careful checking by Dahlia reveal to traps and the tunnels leads them to an underground river perhaps 40 feet below their ledge.  A cable car rides on a rope over the river that stretched from a post on their ledge to a ledge below.

Coco checks out the cable car with her engineering skills and reckons that it will only hold 2 or 3 of them, but they will have to get across the river quickly or the car will fall.

Jerry and Coco start across first with Jerry pulling.  Failures on strength checks slow their progress and send them falling into the river.  Jerry swims to the shore of their destination.  Coco gets swept downstream but finds a second cavern opening that she can reach.

Lino attempts to climb on the rope down, but falls and swims to shore where the barbarian sits.  Dhalia and Annah both jump in and swim.  Annah drifts downstream too far and ends up with Coco.  Dahlia joins the barbarian and paladin.

And so ends our first part of the quest for the Magical Forge of Stonehammer.

I tried using a soundboard tonight, but found it too hard to get to the various sounds on my netbook screen.  A matrix of buttons would have been a lot easier.  Instead, I'll probably just use background music.

--Dm Dad

Friday, March 5, 2010

Latest Minis

I feel like I am really starting to improve, both in my mini painting and in my mini photography.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Weekly Campaign: The Night of Severe Dragging

The campaign totally dragged tonight.  The adventure starts out at the entrance to Innsbruck.  The PCs just wander around, talking to people, not taking any new jobs, not really getting anywhere.  After multiple NPCs drain my voice and distribute clues, the party finally get underway to the local fort.

The fort comes with immediate excitement.  A set of caravans come rolling in on the Fort, bandits chasing them.  But suddenly things turn strange.  The bandits and escorts peel off the wagon and it crashes through the fort, setting it on fire.  It was all a trick.

The local troops are busy fighting the fire, so the adventurers are left to fight off an equal-matched set of bandits. The new group consisting of a human barbarian, a gnome bard, the previous ranger, rogue, and paladin, have to fight a group of 3 archers, a bad-ass cleric, and two sword fighters.  Hitpoints are falling on the table.

Finally just before bedtime, the PCs prevail and the last sword fighter surrenders, nearly dead.

So the question for the day -- how do I keep long bored wanderings through the city out of the campaign?

My thoughts thus far:

  • Shorten the connection between information and the missions to avoid wandering.
  • Railroad a bit more.
  • Focus on weekly dungeon delves with a loose theme tying them together.
  • Try to get my wife to no longer be the group leader.  The kids need to role play more so they don't get bored.
  • Lose the big city.  Focus on small villages.
  • Stop trying to write a video game style campaign.  (Too many years of playing Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights)
-DM Dad

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Fighting of Large Groups: Expected Damage

A battle with too many monsters and PCs can be tough.  A couple of weeks ago I had an encounter where a group of 5 PCs and a companion animal were caught in a cemetery with around 30 undead.  How am I supposed to keep track of 30 monsters?

So here is a proposed solution that I am calling "Expected Damage".

Simple formulas:  

Probability of Hit = (20-(AC of target - attack of attacker))/20  (Minimum is always 1/20, maximum is always 19/20)

Expected damage = Probability of Hit * Half Maximum Damage

So now, given a defender and an attacker, I can estimate the amount of damage the defender will take per round.

(Note that this formula does not take into account criticals.  The min and max values take into account miss on natural 1, hit on natural 20)

Back to the scenario -- 30 undead of the same class.  Given a PC AC, I can estimate the amount of damage they get per round and ignore having to run individual hits from each undead.


PC AC: 14
Monster Attack: +3
Damage: 1d6

Expected Damage Per Round: 9/20*3 = 1.35

If the PC is surrounded by 3 attackers, they take 3 * 1.35 = 4 damage.

I would also use this formula if battling two large groups of monsters or NPCs against each other.  This might be good in a scenario where PCs are caught in a large battle, either directly or in crossfire.