Friday, February 29, 2008

Last week, wizards published a preview of the 4.0 rogue class (you have to sign in to their website to get a look there; it's also up at Enworld and other places around the web). I looked at it, and didn't like what I saw. It hearkened back to my previous worries about using a Tome of 9 Swords model for the 4.0 fighter.

The number of options that a 4.0 rogue has available made them look hard to build and use. Rogues used two stats to modify their combat abilities, which is twice the number crunching. I know they want to create options for PC, but I still think too many options is a barrier for new players, and I don't want that many options as a GM. It makes it that much more difficult to create encounters.

Today, gamers have posted six character sheets from the D and D experience. This is what the characters look like in action (no rogue yet).

At first glance, although characters look harder to build, they look easier to use. Wizards look a hell of a lot simpler to use. There's some kind of trade off there, but I'm not sure what it is.
I'm betting my players will like this.

Looking at the characters, and I truly don't know if this is a bonus or a negative, it seems to me that combat looks like it will become kind of formulaic. Using the warlock PC as an example, he would open most combats with his per encounter ability, and then follow up for the rest of the encounter with random combinations of at will powers.

Some of the at will would be favored in some combats. He would probably hold his per day until the climactic encounter of a game.

This is actually an improvement for the warlock: he has three at will blasts instead of one boring old arcane blast.

Every other character will play kind of the same. Fighter? Use your per encounter power as soon as possible, then other. Rogue? Use your per encounter power.... A given character build will give you a simple strategy that you follow all the time.

I bet this will be the first common complaint about how the game plays, as opposed to the aesthetics of the system.

The last things I need to know, are how easy it is to build an encounter. And, of course, how it runs at the table.

As of this writing, there is a kobold posted on the ENworld homepage. It looks interesting. He has 27 hit points! It just looks weird to see a kobold with 27 hit points, but it looks like it's in line with the rest of the game that we've seen. He has 3 abilities to use in combat. That's more flavorful than your average humanoid.

The stat block is clean, and doesn't have a lot of clutter. That's great for DMs!

I want to see a kobold warlock at first level.

Here's what I'm betting: all the players will have about 4-5 combat options to keep track of, maybe a few more at higher levels. Options will increase in power as you level up, replacing old ones.

GMs will probably have 2-5 options to keep track of per monster. That would be okay by me.

This guy is at DND experience and has some interesting things to say about how it ran around a table.

Scarapede - Major Universal/Wondrous Item

Scarapedes: One of a family of biointegrative psi-tools of unknown origin and manufacture call the scarabites, the scarapede often appears as a six inch segmented ball of a glassy brown substance when not attached to a user. When an unattached scarapede is touched by an individual that can manifest psionic powers, the ball rapidly unfolds to become a three foot long centipede-like creature made of the same brown glass. This is the scarapede's active form.

In the next round, the scarapede will make a touch attack on the psionic who touched it at +4 to hit. The psionic who activates the scarapede may choose not to avoid the attack, allowing it to succeed automatically. If it succeeds, it will graft itself to the psionic's body. A DC 17 Fort save will resist this effect, but the save can be forgone. The scarapede will appear to enter psionic's body by merging directly with the skin. If the graft is successful, it results in a permanent loss of one constitution point. This is not constitution damage, and can't be healed.

If the scarapede fails at a graft attack, it will then roll back up into its dormant form.

The next time a psionic with a scarapede grafted to it uses a weapon of medium size or smaller, the scarapede will surface through the skin near the weapon and wrap around it, performing another graft on the weapon. A DC 17 Fort save will resist this second graft, but the save may likewise be forgone.

If the weapon is successfully grafted into the psionic's body, they gain a +1 to all attack and damage rolls while using it. They cannot be disarmed.

Depending on how many psi points they have left at any given moment, the weapon will also gain an enhancement bonus of +1 to +3. 1 power point gives the weapon a +1 enhancement bonus. 4 power points give it a +2 bonus. 6 power points give it a +3 enhancement bonus.

When a grafted weapon is released, the scarapede will pull the weapon back into the psionic's body, where it will be hidden until a mental command brings it out again.

Releasing and calling the weapon are move equivalent actions.

A DC 20 psicraft check will allow the current weapon to be swapped out with a new one.

A weapon stored inside the scarapede's user gives a +20 bonus to Sleight of Hand checks to hide it.

This doesn't apply to metal detectors, although it does allow a the scarapede's user to substitute his Bluff bonus for his Sleight of Hand bonus, as most people won't really understand what they are seeing when they see an object inside the body.

Grafted weapons and the scarapede still count against the user's weight limits.

A scarapede is a fine object in either form, with a hardness of 4 and 4 hit points, but when grafted to a psionic it cannot be attacked separately.

When a scarapede user dies, its scarapede will flee the body and roll into its dormant state in an adjacent five foot square. It will leave any weapon it is grafted to behind, either in its user's hand, or inside their body, which sometimes makes retrieval problematical.

StrongTransmutation/Psychometabolism; CL 5th; Purchase DC: 37; Craft Wondrous/Universal Item, Polymorph Any Object or Graft Weapon; Cost 29,000 gp; Weight: 2 lb.

Treasure Value: 16th
NPC Gear: 15th

Math:

3*5*2000 = 30,000

Loss of one con = 1*1*1000, -1,000

Compares well with a +4 weapon, small bonuses are offset by needing resources to be fully active

Monday, February 25, 2008

Activated Giant Blood - Alchemical Substance

Activated Fire Giant Blood: This thick red liquid, often kept in large stone jars, looks like ink, but smells and tastes like sulpher and rust. 3 oz. is a dose, but jars usually have up to ten doses.

A spell using character who drinks activated giant blood may add +3d6 fire damage to the effect of any succesfully cast spell. For instance, a 6th level wizard who drinks a vial of activated giant blood can increase the damage of a fireball to 9d6. Or a wizard who cast hold person will do 3d6 fire damage in addition to paralyzing his targe, if the target fails their saving throw.

Weak evocation; CL 4th; Brew potion; 4th level burning hands; 225 gp

Math: 3*3*1000/50 for single use

I use one thousand as a multiplier because this kind of damage bonus is used case by case, not each attack, so will come in to play less often that an applicable weapon bonus.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Scarascorpion - Minor Wondrous/Universal Item

Scarascorpion: One of a family of biointegrative psi-tools of unknown origin and manufacture called scarabites, the scarascorpion often appears as a six inch segmented ball of a glassy black substance when not attached to a user.

When touched by a psionic capable of manifesting telekinesis or any psionic power that manipulates energy, the dormant scarascorpion will unroll into a fine sized obsidian scorpion. The scorpion will not move.

If pressed against the activating psionic's palm, breast, forehead, or eye, the scarascorpion will dig a socket for itself over two rounds, doing 1d6 hit point of damage per round. At the end of that time, it will have been permanently implanted in the character, looking much like a glossy black stone in the socket it dug for itself.

An implanted scarascorpion results in a permanent loss of one dexterity point. This is not dexterity damage, and can't be healed.

A scarascorpion user may convert psionic energy to a ranged touch energy attack. There are five types of scarascorpions: pyro- (which converts to fire damage), cryo- (cold), electro- (electrical), sono- (sonic) and entropo - (acid). The ray has a range increment of 10 feet, a range of 10 feet per psionic point spent to generate it, and does 1d4 points of damage per psionic point spent to generate it.

A psionic may have more than one scarascorpion implanted. Only one ray can be manifested at a time.

A scarascorpion given an eye socket duplicates the sight of the lost eye, and its user gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls made with that scarascorpion's ray, but suffers a -2 bonus to Bluff and Disguise checks.

A scarascorpion is a fine object in either form, with a hardness of 4 and 4 hit points, but when grafted to a psionic it cannot be attacked separately.

When a scarascorpion user dies, its scarascorpion will flee the body and roll into its dormant state in an adjacent five foot square. It cannot be removed without surgery (Heal/Treat Injury DC 15).

Each scarascorpion takes up a glove, hat, or necklace item slot depending where it is implanted.

Weak evocation/psychokinesis; CL 2nd; Craft Wondrous/Universal Item, energy ray or ray of frost; Purchase DC: 29; Cost 1,260 gp; Weight: -.

NPC Gear: 4th
Treasure Value: 5th

Math:

1st level ability: 1*1*2,000 = 2,000
perm loss of dex = 1*1*1,000 = -1,000
+2 limited attack to hit with ray = 2*2*300 = 1,200
-2 to two skills 2*2*100 = 400*2 = -800
requires resources to use = -10%

1,260 gp total

Monday, February 18, 2008

Silver Band of Thought Catching - Ring

Silver Band of Thought Catching - This ring of silver green mithril is engraved with runes from the enchantment school of magic. Though plain looking, the edges of the band are decorated with a intricate design of miniaturized knotwork.

This ring allows it's wearer to detect thoughts for ten rounds each day. This effect can be switched on and off as a free action, and required concentration to maintain. One or two rounds of use does not give any more information than a normal detect thoughts spell.

Weak divination; CL 3rd; Craft ring, detect thoughts; Cost 800 gp.

NPC Gear: 2nd
Treasure Value: 3rd

Math:

Detect Thoughts 2*3*2000 = 6,0000, /5 for once per day, 2,400 gp, prorated for limited duration, divide by 3

(Detect thoughts for one minute 1/day 1*2*2000/5= 800)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Todd's Lancet - Specific Weapon

Todd's Lancet: This tiny knife pops out of a palm sized silver case engraved with a picture of a pelican. Todd only made one of these knives, enchanting it to better find veins for bleeding his patients.

The tiny blade and its innocuous looking case give the wielder a +2 circumstance bonus to Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal it or to Bluff attempts made while attacking with it.

It is a +1 magical, keen wounding weapon, and has the following properties: Damage: 1d3, Critical: 17-20/x2, Type: Slashing. It is a tiny weapon.

Moderate evocation; CL 10th; Purchase DC 30; Cost 16,702 gp; Weight: 1/2 lb

NPC Gear: 13th
Treasure Value: 14th

Math: Priced per the DMG, this weapon is worth 32,702 gp. However, I've always suspected that small or tiny enchanted weapons aren't worth much to PCs. The base damage they, no matter what you pile on it, just doesn't add up to a real value. Sure, you can do some neat tricks with a weapon this easy to hide weapon. It will probably give you an excellent first round in some combats. but would a high level thief rather have this than a longsword with the exact same enchantments on it? Probably not.

However, I give the "natural" price of the item above in case you want to use it instead. This makes it a treasure for 17th level encoutners, and NPC gear for 16th level NPCs.

So, I halved the value of the bonuses.

The base value of the item includes a +2 bonus to sleight of hand checks with it (2*2*100=400)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blessing of the Tooth - Medium Wondrous Item

Blessing of the tooth: The blessing of the tooth is a rune scrawled into the enamle of a piercing tooth, then dusted with a quick setting enamle of iron oxide clay, mithril dust, and manticore bone.

Although the blessing of the tooth can be used by anybody, it is most often used by dragons and their scaleykin allies. It cannot be removed from the mouth of a creature once it is scribed.

Once per day, the bearer of a blessing of the tooth can gnash his teeth together and declare the command word as a move equivalent action. This has a 75% chance of invoking a greater magic fang +4 effect. If the effect is not evoked, the use for that day is wasted.

Moderate transmutation; CL 16th; Craft Wondrous Item, greater magic fang; Cost 12,960 gp

Treasure Value: -
NPC Gear: 12th

Math:

3*16 (third level spell, 16th caster level effect)/5 for once per day, prorated for 75% chance of taking effect

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Game 1

Taking a small break from our current campaign, so that I could create stats for the massive, epic, climactic battle next week, we rolled up characters for the Celestial Wastelands campaign I've been hungering to run.

I had copies of the rulebook made up at Office Max and spiral bound. Too expensive, especially given how little copy editing I did before hand. But we had copies to pass around the table.

The characters my group "rolled up" using a 28 point buy method were:

Doc, a Kobold sniper who uses magical energy weapons to hit his targets from afar.

B.C., a Giant Blood warrior who smashes things. Hard.

Cheezeweasle, a Dwarvish spellcaster who concentrates of using spells that alter or enhance his body for combat.

Putkin, a Kobold spellcaster who models his magic of psionics.

After explaining the changes from d20 Rules As Written (RAW), I set up the milieu for them:

Giantblood aggressors to the south, Fire fountain to the south east, fey and construct haunted ruins to the North East, slave hunter chasing fey out of the Darkwode to the North. Oh, and a freshly fallen star surrounded by mutated monsters in the Baelatian mountains to the west.

The PCs were members of the Starjumper tribe, a mixed race group who send their youths out to find pieces of fallen stars in order to prove their adulthood, or gain their citizenship, or whatever. The PCs have yet to do so, and so they decided to head for the fresh starfall.

At the end of their first day, they were ambushed by Asterial Moas... duhn, duhn, duhn! These are giant, predatory birds whose ancestors had been mutated by exposure to a falling star. Three of these fearsome birds came over the foothills, shooting energy rays with their eyes. Cheezweasle sent her pony to the attack, while BC and Cheez charged and Doc and Putkin hung back and fired with Sineals. A round later, two more burrowed out of the hill. The moas were a tough fight, zotzing eveybody with eye rays and attacking anybody within reach with their huge, cleaver like beaks.

Out heroes managed to prevail. Heavily wounded, they carved up the Moas and dried the meat (worth 360 trade), and took four of their intact skulls, still faintly glowing . I awarded XP, and we broke up.

These were the stats that I used for the Asterial Moas:

STATS
Asterial Moa: CR 1; Medium Animal; hp 5; Init +2; Spd 40 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 Nat), touch 12, flat 11; BAB +0; Grapple +2; Atk +2 melee (bite, 1d8+3), or +2 ranged (1d6, fire/sonic/electrical/cold ray); Face 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; SA energy shot; AL N; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +1; REP 0; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 4.

Skills Alertness +1, Althletics +1, Sneak +1, Survival +1. Feats - Improved Natural Attack.

I took baboon stats, replace it's feat with Improved Natural attack, and stuck on the Extraterrestrial template from d20 Future.

Friday, February 08, 2008

+2 Gourd of Alchemist Fire - Specific weapon

+2 Gourds of Alchemist Fire: The kobolds of the Baelatian peaks have learned to magically engrave the shells of gourds and large nuts that they steal from the gardens of their dwarven and giant blooded neighbors. Drying the gourds and coating them with inflammable rubbery sealant and wet clay, powerful kobold shamans then use mildly magical inks to enchant the gourds for accuracy and fill them with alchemists fire.

A +2 gourd of alchemists fire has a +2 enhancement bonus to hit, and a +2 enhancement bonus to damage on the first round. Neither splash damage nor the second round of alchemist fire damage is enhanced.

Weak transmutation; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, greater magic weapon; Cost: 180 gp each

NPC Gear: 1st
Treasure Value: 1st

Math:

Alchemist Fire 20 gp+
2*2*2000 = 8000, /50 for single use = 160 gp

+1 gourd = 60 gp
+3 gourd = 380 gp
+4 gourd = 66o gp
+5 gourd = 1,000 gp

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snowflake Obsidian Fang - Medium Wondrous Item

Snowflake Obsidian Fang: This piece of obsidian, carved to resemble a carnivore tooth longer than a large man's hand, may look like a ceremonial knife without a handle to a casual observer. The glassy black surface has delicate looking lacy white spots in the grain of it.

Usually crafted and used by dragons, any large size creature can extract a tooth and replace that tooth with a snowflake obsidian fang.

A snowflake obsidian fang grants a +2d6 bonus to the damage of its bearer's breath weapon.

Moderate Evocation; CL 6th; Craft Wondrous Item, any third level evocation spell that does energy damage; Cost 8,000 gp

Treasure Value: 12th
NPC Gear Value: 10th

Math: I treat a +2d6 bonus as a +2 weapon bonus.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Todd's Blister Cups - Medium Wondrous Item

Todd's Blister Cups: Usually kept in a velvet lined box fitted with special forms, these three glass cups are heated by dropping burning material into them. The hot cup is then pressed against skin to draw up large blisters, supposedly drawing out infections along with the humors in the blood. Todd's cups were enchanted to better facilitate this process.

When the blister cups are used on a character suffering from any natural or magical disease, they allow the character to make another save versus any one disease they are affected by (including lycanthropy). If the save is successful, the disease is cured and no longer affects them. Either way, the character takes 1d3 points of temporary Constitution damage each time the cups are applied.

Strong; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item, remove disease; Purchase Difficulty Check 32; Cost 15,000; Weight: 5 lbs.

Treasure Value: 14th
NPC Gear: 13th

Math: 3*5*2000 = 30,000

Divide by half because of limit: doesn't cure disease, only allows additional save. Causes damage each time it is used.