Archive for April, 2010

Day 30: Rites of Reunion

April 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Friends fail and, sometimes, friends return. Frip has rejoined us – though he is not quite himself. Upon returning home we located a druid circle and found that Frip had left instructions with the circle leaders to conduct the rite of reincarnation to recover his soul. Though it cost us dearly in gold, our newly recovered gnome friend stands before me – but now as a human. He seems to find his human form quite distressing (as would I, to speak in all honesty) and, in his current state, it is bittersweet to have him back among us.

In the same manner, Aranthis has also returned to us, bearing her full wit and charm – though she seems weaker than the druids had anticipated. Perhaps after a little time for recovery in Orlan, she will be able to rejoin us.

In Orlan, the watch over the egg continues. The scrying of the local sages has determined that a copper dragon lies within and that it still lives. They work day and night to purify the egg of the foul enchantments that have been cast on it. Though it is still to soon to tell, they hold onto the hope of saving the creature from corruption.

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Day 27: Nightscale, a Black in the Depths

April 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The worst imaginable tragedy has befallen us – we have lost two of our number. Our gnome friend, Fripwort, and the charming Aranthis have fallen to the horror of a dragon – Nightscale. We found the young black at the bottom of the pit where we defeated the dark dwarves.  We had made our way down into it by means of a chain link ladder that was fastened to its rim. At the bottom we found a cavernous lake, with slight access to ledges and beaches. The black toyed with us, rising from the dark depths to assail us with its acidic breath. Each time it breached the surface, I loosed my arrows. Driven by rage, the creature even confronted us on the beach and we fought swords against claws. But we could not slay the beast and it retreated to the depths.

That’s when we saw its hoard. Coins sparkling, jewels shining, and untold magics piled all in a heap – but isolated on a small island some thirty feet from the nearest shore. Failing to find a safe means to access the treasure, I was ready to walk away from the riches. But the others would have none of it and flung themselves into the water in a mad rush to gain such wealth. Frip was the first to go – swallowed in a great gulp by the lurking black. The others gained the island and threw what they could across the waters to my waiting grasp. Then the mad rush to regain the shore was on, and Aranthis was suddenly gone as well. Though the lying wyrm tried to entice us with promises of the safe return of our comrades, we knew them dead and made our mournful retreat.

Over-simplified Skill Checks

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Today is game day – Woot! That means more pics and more adventure fodder for the blog.

On my mind today is skill checks. Maybe because we rarely use them (“You can’t do that!”) or rarely use them well (“Um, make a dex check?”). I was thinking of a simple way to take the next step in simulation without the complexity and drudgery of a full-blown set of tables for every crazy action that might be attempted.

D&D 4E certainly helps, since the number of skills are parsed down significantly from previous versions (e.g., Perception vs Spot/Search/Listen). But there is still the issue of working out the difficulty of the action. In the past I juggled dozens of tables… how smooth is that wall? how hard is that door? is that rope knotted or not? Simply too much detail bogged down the flow of the game.

Therefore, I thought I’d resurrect a simple all-purpose scale for single shot difficulty checks. Now go roll d20 and add your skill!

Trivial (DC 0 or 5): Just do it. Don’t roll a dice, don’t check a skill, just do it.

Average (DC 10): Most untrained folks have an equal shot at making or missing. Of course a bit of training can make this trivial.

Tough (DC 15): Untrained folks will fail most of the time. Trained folks will succeed most of the time. Focus in this area can also make the tough feats seem routine.

Challenging (DC 20): It would take a miracle for untrained folks to pull this off. Even folks with focused training have a chance of screwing it up (think olympic level feats of athletics or acrobatics).

Formidable (DC 25): At this level, folks with focused training have a equal shot at making or missing. Failure should carry some consequences and could result in taking damage.

Heroic (DC 30): Even heroes with focused training will miss this most of the time (think David Blaine stunts). Failure should carry serious consequences or damage.

Miraculous (DC 40): As a DM, never say no – simply say “Roll me up a 40!” At this point, years of focused training must combine with divine intervention to pull off this miraculous feat. Even David Blaine wouldn’t attempt something so foolish. Failure should carry serious consequences, damage, or even death.

That should be a reasonable scale to judge most acts of heroism. Let ’em roll!

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Day 26: Vicious Furnishings

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

As we uncover room after room in this wonderland, I begin to question my senses. I hesitate to write of it, for it sounds like the ravings of a madman. We’ve been attacked by… a table, a combat dummy, and I personally was almost suffocated by a constricting rug. The shock of the attacks is only exceeded by the humiliation of being overcome by common household furnishings. Luckily we have all survived.

A host of undead has assaulted us – one so fearsome it froze me in my tracks. Rooms, filled with bleached bones, have risen up to assail us. We’ve even uncovered the remains of some of those who have adventured here before us. Though we have uncovered a few prizes – there seems to be little here of any worth.

< later >

Either we have performed a noble deed or unleashed a great evil. We came upon a sealed library and found that it held what appeared to be a human female. She wove a tale describing how she was entrapped in this room by powerful magic after her party had been killed by some of the undead that we encountered. Her story seems valid, since we had found the remains of just such a party in the location that she described. Apparently a simple command “You are free” was sufficient to release her and she has disappeared – perhaps to take vengeance on the mage who doomed her.

Catt’s PC Mastery

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Character building, old school.

Back in the day, before Wizard’s released their awesome character builder app… when 3E and 3.5 were all the rage… I put together an excel spreadsheet to automatically do most all the PC generation calculations that you’d need. Taking inspiration from other beautiful character sheets I found on the internet, I then formatted it and liberally applied graphics from the PHB and DMG until it absolutely sang to me. After that came the “back page” with inventory, languages, etc. Then all the class-specific spell lists to track memorization and usage.

If you’re still kickin’ it 3E style (actually 3.5), you may find this little tool meets all your PC generation needs. You’ll need to enable macros and pay attention to the tabs (mainly the green ones) to get full functionality out of it. And if you know your excel, you’ll probably find that it is amenable to customization (but be careful about modifying anything with a red colored tab).

As always, check the widget in the sidebar for this file “Catt’s PC Mastery.xls.” Or see all files available for download and grab them from here. Enjoy!

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Day 25: Forge of Fury

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

We came across a locked and ironbound door with a deviously difficult lock. I was just barely able to open it. Upon entering we were greeted with the far-off ringing of hammer on anvils and found ourselves in a circular room with three statues of dwarven warriors and two doors. I was able to quickly find and disable triggers in the two doors that would have released the mechanical center statue. Yet the doors led only to blank stone walls.

A second check of the room uncovered a secret door (ah, those cunning dirt dwellers!) which led to another door protected by a magical alarm. Past this door we were greeted with threats and warnings. Though we tried to negotiate with our unseen adversaries and went to extraordinary lengths to maintain peace, we would not be bullied into leaving and finally came to blows. We were attacked by three strange dark dwarves. They were unusually thin and blank-eyed. They were much larger than dwarves have a right to be, but upon their deaths they shrank to normal size. Searching their bodies, we recovered a large shield, a battle axe, chain mail, a chain shirt, and a vial of pink liquid – no doubt the potion that was responsible for their extraordinary size.

We found ourselves in a large throne room, and still the constant ringing of hammers. The sound led to a forge with yet more of the dark dwarves. Upon seeing us they downed some potions and literally disappeared. We explored the forge and found that the only other exit led to a huge pit. It was here that our quarry improvised an ambush – to no avail. Though the battle was hard fought, we wiped out the three dark dwarves and continued our explorations. We came upon another room, I assume manned by the two leaders of the dwarves and vanquished them as well. Strange, but aside from the throne room and forge, the rest of this area seems thick with dust and unexplored. We rest here tonight.

Day 24: Deeper and Deeper

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

We have explored miles and miles of this cavern and found many things strange to the eyes of one raised in the forests and then the streets. We have defeated one troglodyte and one has escaped. And we have defeated a large bear that they loosed upon us. We’ve come across unused storerooms, stone bridges, magnificent waterfalls, and flooded rooms. Rooms filled with colored molds and corpses. We defeated a slick gray liquid that attacked as if it had intelligence and ate through the metal of our weapons. We’ve even recovered a magic bastard sword.

But the strangest encounter was also the most frightening – for I foresaw the death of our entire band. Upon entering a cavern split by a rushing stream, we found what, for all the world, appeared to be a living stalagmite – known to us now as a roper. Ji’Etah carelessly approached it and was quickly entangled by tendrils that suddenly sprang from its gaping maw. I loosed arrow after arrow at its single yellow eye, all bouncing harmlessly away. Though we hurled spells, steel, and insults, all went for no effect. In a final plea for mercy, Aranthis was able to woo the surprisingly intelligent creature with promises of servitude. It appears to be interested in little else than satiating its ravenous appetite. She was able to pacify it and secure my companions release with a meal – the bear’s corpse.