Monday, September 29, 2014

Projects Update: Status and Progress in September

September has been a long month, but I have gotten a few things done.  Here's my status update.

Port Wayne Cyberpunk Setting -- I successfully completed a release of the Port Wayne Cyberpunk setting and have already started adding a few new pieces of content that will appear in the next version.  STATUS: Complete

Dead Channel Sky -- I've done a lot of work on this here and there.  The NPC and Premade Vehicle sections have been split out as a separate book.  I also recently found a quote from William Gibson, indicating he really didn't like Shadowrun and its mixing of Elves and cyberpunk, so I'll probably change the name and direction a bit.  I've also looked into appropriate licenses for release.  For now, I am just trying to get it to a playable state for a single game.  STATUS: 90% Complete

The Pink Dice Chronicles Blog  -- My stats are down in September, mostly because I haven't been posting as much.  I will work on this.  STATUS: Ongoing

The Pink Dice Chronicles Vlog -- I haven't done anything on this.  STATUS:  No Progress

Miniatures Painting -- My big find this month was a new brush that sped up my painting quite a bit.  Unfortunately I haven't spent any time at it, mostly just glueing up troll miniatures when I have a couple of minutes.  I am hopeful that I will be able to do more in the future.  STATUS: Less than 1% Complete

Game Room -- No progress here.  Unfortunately a lot of what I have to do, I just can't do right now. STATUS:  No Progress

Online Games -- Ponyfinder is stalled until I watch more of MLP: FiM.  Darklands has taken a backseat.  Currently I am gathering players for Port Wayne.  I am also starting to make maps for a D&D 5e game, probably based on Hoard of the Dragon Queen.  STATUS: Darklands No Progress, Port Wayne 90%, D&D 5e 15%, Ponyfinder No Progress

Finding a Game -- I am playing in a Rise of the Runelords adaptation to D&D 5e.  It has been a fun game, and I really like D&D 5e.  STATUS: Complete

My Character-based Novel -- No work done on this.  STATUS:  No Progress

This month I don't really know how things are going to go.  I am starting new treatment and physical therapy for my back, so my time to work on this stuff will be limted.  I am hopful I can get the Port Wayne game going again and get some speed painting time in on my miniatures.

Rise of the Immortals: Murder and Intrigue

Torin,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I still await the assistant you had planned to send.  There is much to do here and I obviously cannot handle all of it myself, as the local sheriff looks to our group to assist with matters now.

In fact, just this week the sheriff came to use with a murder investigations.  It was some sort of ritualistic killings, from what I have seen, and there have been multiple deaths.  It all seems to point to some sort of intelligent undead.  We're leaving this day to go to the Misgivings, the old manor belonging to Adrienne Foxglove, a friend of the others and local nobleman.  I hope he is ok.

I am very excited by the trip.  I've never been to the Foxglove manor, and the rumor is that it is haunted.  It lies on the coast down a couple days from Standpoint.  The ride will be a nice change of scenery.

My skills continue to increase with magic.  I have now learned a method for casting while still holding my shield and sword.  I've also learned a new spell to defend me when attacked out of nowhere.  The best combination is though when I charge my hands with lightning and then attack with my sword.  Not only does it effectively subdue our opponents, but it also shows others that oppose us what awaits them should they challenge me.

The team is becoming ever closer and more skilled.  Zolis, the paladin, is always at my side as we charge into trouble, usually with Warryn, the gnome druid, dragging us into trouble.  The Gnome has become a fierce ally with his ability to take the form of a bear and various magics.  He also seems very intelligent and has helped set up this new business.  Zolis and Warryn also look after our health like a couple of mother hens, always tending to our wounds.  It is really nice.  

Rolen is forever at the back of the party, a fitting place for an elf with such a deadly bow.  He kills as many if not more foes than I do with the magic he weaves with his arrows.  I fear sometimes I increase the trouble that befalls us with the eye I have for valuables and artifacts, but, as you have seen, I find very unique items with rare cultural significance, just the kind of things we are looking for.  This group has been a good find during my journeys.  Between the 4 of us, there seems not a single foe we cannot defeat.

Regards,
Llarm Blacksword

---

Llarm and crew did make it to the Foxglove manor after dealing with some animated scarecrows along the path.  In fact, we searched nearly the entire house, waiting to bust down just the last door as the session ended, only 100 points away from level 5.  Level 5 is a bit of a snooze for Llarm, but very powerful, as he gets his second attack per round.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rise of the Immortals: Bold Intentions

Torin,

I hope this letter finds you well, but soon I shall be able to see for myself.  We have wrapped up this nasty business of taking down the goblin war chief and the dark woman and her minions that attacked Standpoint.  I was able to gather up many artifacts which I will turn over to you promptly.  After you see the bounty, I am sure you will choose to send another person down here to help me study this place.

On a slightly stranger note, this ragtag band of folks I have been working with, including myself (Ha!) inherited the local glass factory.  The woman whose it was could not bear to run it after all the misery of her father and brother dying there, and she having been held there.  We have begun preparations to convert it over to produce magical goods.  We will be looking for an alchemist, enchanter, smithy, and guards when we arrive in Magnimar.

I guess this delving into ancient tombs, danger be damned, is quite my style, so I will be outfitting for more exploration.  I cannot wait until we get to the lighthouse -- what secrets does it hold?

Please keep a spot open for me at the gallery.

Regards,
Llarm Blacksword

---

Yes, so much to Llarm's surprise, he now owns property in Standpoint.  What a cray random happenstance?!?

Llarm is level 4 now.  The GM has ruled on warcaster allowing me to attack with my rapier to deliver touch spells (I only have the cantrip shocking grasp for touch).  The slightly increased damage will maybe balance me against the rest of the party until level 5 where I get me extra attack.  Eldritch Knight is tricky.  My utility spells are eating up quite a few spells known, which has made it harder.  Shocking grasp -- if it were a scimitar I would be back to playing Ranier from a previous campaign.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fixing the Eldritch Knight with War Caster

There is a lot of discussion that Eldritch Knight in 5e is suboptimal when compared to battlemaster fighter / wizard multiclass builds.  There is also discussion that war caster is a feat tax since divine casters can use their shield as a holy symbol for casting.

I think the simplest fix is to interpret war caster with a special case for touch spells.  When casting a touch spell with a weapon in a hand using war caster, the caster can make their melee spell attack using their weapon attack and add weapon damage to the spell effect.  So for example, shocking grasp would grant a single weapon attack with a bonus 1d8 lightning damage.

Is this overpowered?  I don't think so.  The feat comes at level 4 or later.  The attack only gains a significant bonus if the weapon is magic.  Compare this to the rogue's sneak attack at a bonus of 1d6 for no feat cost at level 1.

The following spells could work with this combo (touch spell, no material component, offensive, grants a melee spell attack):  shocking grasp (cantrip) @ 1d8, Inflict wounds @ 3d10(1st level), contagion that inflicts a disease (5th level), vampiric touch @ 3d6 (3rd level)

These again don't seem overpowered considering the spell casting and feat requirements for spell
level.

For an eldritch knight, the feat comes at 4th level, which could be used in combination with shocking grasp.  Not a considerable boost since casters can do this damage at first level, but enough to make eldritch knight more comparable to the multiclass. At 8th I could add vampiric touch.

At higher levels, the trade off becomes spell vs multiple attacks, and so balance is also maintained.

I already talked with my DM about the touch spell with war caster, and he is on board, so hopefully I can prove the balance in game.  Certainly it closely resembles the pathfinder magus which is both fun and balanced.

Rise of the Immortals: The Glass Factory and Thistletop

Torin,

I am sorry to send word that I haven't gotten to the old lighthouse yet.  However, I was able to make it into some old ruins below the old glass factory.  We found evidence of a greater mystery, including a reference to a powerful being Malfeshnekor.  I found a couple of artifacts of Uz to bring back with me.  I fear they are too valuable and dark to send by courier.
We have undercovered a terrible plan to destroy the town, sacrifice various beings, and do who knows what.  We saved a girl -- a beautiful elf!  She has sent us on another mission.
Today we embarked to thistletop to fight goblins and perhaps slay the evil creature behind the plans.  We ran into all sorts of creatures and goblins and their minions.  There were even some mercenaries.
The best news this week, is that I have finally gotten the hang of some of the spells I've been studying.  In combat, I'm able to cast them off the top of my head, which has been very handy.
I shall attempt to send another letter in a day or so once we've returned and figured things out a bit.  Hopefully I will have more good news to share.

Humbly,
Llarm
---
Llarm had a good week at level 3 eldritch knight.  The cantrips are quite handy in battle.  I almost hope that Llarm gets imprisoned at some point since he had several spells and they don't require a spellbook.  He also can call his weapons into his hands from anywhere on the plane.

Oddly enough I have been reading about how eldritch knight is underpowered and yet the one fest that balances it, namely war caster, seems to be interpreted by a lot of folks to not really work the way I think it should.  Luckily my GM agrees with my interpretation which gives me a spellstrike-like magus ability at level 4, essentially using my rapier to deliver touch spells.
The DMG just can't get here soon enough.

Llarm now has his ultimate question to answer.  He wants to know how to become an immortal runelord.  Llarm reminds me a lot of Ranier, my pathfinder magus who left the party while looking for a way to become a lich.  Ranier was a bit more suave; Llarm's sage background tends to make him a bit more geeky and impulsive.  This last session that impulsive nearly got the party attacked by a shadow from a sarcophagus he just had to open, even thought the paladin had said it was evil.
Good times.  I'm liking 5th Edition a lot.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Game: Rise of the Immortals with Llarm Blacksword

So Sunday nights has me playing D&D 5e now.  Oddly enough I am playing through a version of Rise of the Runelords adapted to D&D 5e.  This is my third time through... maybe I'll finally make it to the end.

My new character is an Elf Fighter (soon to be Eldritch Knight) with a Sage background.  He is a researcher from Magnimar who has been sent to Standpoint to investigate the ancient ruins and solve an ancient mystery (TBD).

Llarm Blacksword never turns down a gold piece or a chance to ask for one.  He never turns down a tomb or a catacomb or an ancient ruin to be investigated.  He loves a mystery.  He has a tendency to talk a bit much in explaining things and often blurts out things without thinking.  His rapier makes a whoosh as it cuts through the air.

The party consists of a gnome druid, a human noble paladin, and an elven ranger.

Llarm reports back to his group in Magnimar through letters, which I'll be sharing on here.  Don't read ahead if you don't want some serious Rise of the Runelords spoilers.  Here's the latest:

Torin,

I hope this letter finds you and the others well.  Please tell each one of them I asked about them, though I have not the parchment to list them all by name.  Standpoint greeted me harshly, having just suffered a terrible goblin attack, but your letter got me through the gates.  I happened upon some local heroes at the local Sleeping Green Dragon Inn where they were whooping it up over their victory over the goblins, savoring good ale with a local nobleman named Foxglove.  They have allowed me to join them and I think they can get me safely into the lighthouse ruins and, perhaps, as a bonus, into the catacombs beneath the temple.

The rooms in the Dragon aren't bad and I think my association with the heroes has gotten me a free room for now.  A gold piece saved is a gold piece earned so they say.

There was a disruption in the tavern when first I got there, with some old crank of a noble yelling at his daughter.  I hoped to track her down after the altercation, but she got away.  I guess being with these heroes is rubbing off on me already.

I made a few gold coins on my second day in town and saw the most amazing thing.  We had to check out a tomb, under the temple, and found a number of animated skeletons and zombies about.  The skeletons were quite impressive.  Necromantic servants like these seem like such a good idea.  The party and I quickly dispatched them, but not before the poor gnome was nearly killed.  I guess all the sword practice from my youth is starting to pay off.  Strange too, that we found some remains had been taken from the tomb.  There is a mystery afoot!

We also checked out the glass factory, where we seemed to lose track of Amiko, the elven daughter from the tavern.  There was worry for her, but instead we stumbled into an even bigger plot.  I rushed into the building after the gnome discovered that there were goblins in the building.  Amiko's brother, it turns out, was working with the goblins and in fact has killed his father right there in the factory by covering him in glass.  The heroes and I fought the goblins and I ended up having to kill the evil brother as he was trying to escape with my crossbow.  

It turns out that the brother is in league with some woman, daughter of the priest whose remains were stolen, who is trying to raise Malfeshnekor, apparently some sort of devilish, demonic creature or great power.  There is something afoot with a succubus, as well.  The excitement is just overwhelming.  I can't wait to investigate further.

It is unfortunate to date that I have discovered no artifacts of interest, but I am sure this will change very soon.  I have taken a few rubbing of tomb artifacts, which I have enclosed.  Things look to be dangerous here, at least for the next fews day.  Should someone need to find me here, please have them contact the Sleeping Green Dragon Inn and ask for the heroes of Standpoint.  I will be with them.

Humble regards, 
Llarm Blacksword

--

In addition, I wanted to post just a few quick takes on D&D 5e since this is my first game with it:

  • D&D 5e is very streamlined.  I've only had the PHB a few days and I was up and running with no trouble in the first game.
  • D&D 5e is extremely balanced at first and second level.  I expected to be an overwhelming force at first level as a fighter.  This wasn't really the case.
  • Leveling up in 5e is quick.  We did it in game in less than 10 minutes.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about skills yet.  In Pathfinder there is an ability to change your skills as you level up.  I don't see any way to do that in 5e.  It can be a problem if multiple people in the party chose the same skills.  Still researching this one...