Moving

Hey everybody! This will be the last post here at WordPress.com! We’ve moved!

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You might notice some weirdness as I settle in. As part of the move, I’ll be doing some housekeeping (changing posts, removing superfluous posts, that kind of thing). Let me know if anything appears to be broken.

 

The Lady of Pain, Mythender

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If you’ve been following me at all here or on Twitter, you should be aware of two things. One is that I love Planescape, and two is that I love Mythender. Today I’m going to talk about the two of them together.

Mythender is an awesome game that’s about to come out. It’s the brainchild of Ryan Macklin, and it’s all about deicide. He was kind and generous enough to let me (and others) get a sneak peek at it before he releases it into the wild, and I have to say it’s been fun reading it.

As I read it, I couldn’t help but think about Planescape. The marriage of these two things that I love just seemed natural.

Today, I’m going to make the Lady of Pain a Mythender. Let me cover some ground rules first.

  • This is my own take on her, so I may play with the canon somewhat. Deal with it if that’s a problem for you. The Lady of Pain is a Mythender, and this is what allowed her to enter Sigil and slay Aoskar. I’ll probably stat her up as a Myth in a later post, but it’s also fun to think of her remaining a Mythender even as ruler of Sigil.
  • I’m not going to delve too much into the mechanics (turns out creating a Mythender doesn’t require system knowledge, just knowledge of character creation). Regular readers might recall my post here where I did this before.
  • Planescape and the Lady of Pain are the property of Wizards of the Coast. I can’t take credit for them or allow you to use them in any context.

The Lady of Pain

Crusader Apostate of Portals

The Dream of Portals

A floating sea of mortals writhes within a grey void. They scream as some of them have their bodies ripped apart by the random opening and closing of portals. Others disappear into portals only to be vomited out seconds later as unrecognizable masses.

Questions

What belief or ideal do you fight for?

The magic of portals should be free and available to all, and there should be a place free from all Myths.

What happened to make you so angry with the world?

I saw the tyranny created by a so-called “god” and his ability to control portals by mere whim.

What reward do you expect?

The oblivion of non-existence

What Myth did you devote yourself to?

Aoskar, god of Portals

What was done to make you flee your oaths and bonds?

I saw the havoc wreaked when Aoskar refused a band of refugees safe passage back to their land through one of his precious portals. The pursuing band of yugoloths spared none of them, myself included.

What did you give that can never be replaced?

I gave up my emotions. Never again will I feel joy, or sadness, or anger.

Weapons

  • My shadow of razors … is my weapon. (Intrinsic)
  • My army of dabus … is my weapon. (Companion)
  • My ability to project thought without speech … is my weapon. (Intrinsic)

Mortal Form

A beautiful woman with porcelain skin, wearing robes.

Mythic Forms

Personal Blight

Mortals begin to doubt their faith … in my presence.

Paragon Form

I appear as… a robed woman with glowing eyes.

Supernatural Form

I appear as… a robed woman with glowing eyes and no facial expression that hovers above the ground.

Godly Form

I appear as… a robed woman with glowing eyes and no facial expression, with a crown of razors, that hovers above the ground.

Fate’s Powers

My fate allows me to… imprison mortals’ bodies and minds, and open and close portals.

Gifts

  • Bloodlust

Comments? Questions? Leave a comment, email me, or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Intelligence as an Attribute

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I had a thought the other day. It might be because I’m now getting to play in @MilwaukeeJoe‘s Revenge of the Iron Lich play-by-blog game (you can catch up on the antics at his Grind4E blog) or that the Crucible of the Gods charity run redux is coming up in a little over a week.

Fourthcore is very much about pitting the players against the DM. To that end, I started thinking about the role of Intelligence as an attribute in D&D. I remembered this post along the way. If Intelligence represents knowledge that your character has that you don’t, can’t that be represented with skills better than an attribute? I don’t think people are honestly roleplaying characters smarter than themselves (unless they are truly gifted individuals), so why not just dispense with it entirely?

This brings the number of attributes down to five, and my brain then transitioned to thinking about Cortex+ with its increasing die traits (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12). There are five die-types there! I could get the characters to map each of the remaining attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma) to a die type. How cool is that?

Remember this post where I talked about using Distinctions (not Aspects as I mistakenly said in that post) to simulate the influence of the planes on the characters? Couple that with this attribute as die type and we start to get an interesting dynamic for playing Planescape without using D&D. (How dare I suggest such a thing!)

This isn’t a fully fleshed-out idea but I think I’ve got something interesting cooking here. What do you think? Leave a comment or tweet at me.

Fourthcore Character Creation

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@MilwaukeeJoe runs a cool Fourthcore blog over at Grind4E, and he posted this about running Revenge of the Iron Lich (RotIL) as Play-by-Post (PbP). I decided to take a crack at generating a character (see his post for more details).

I have very little experience generating fourthcore character or 16th level characters, so I figured it would be a good experience. My thoughts here may or may not reflect good principles of fourthcore character design; this is merely what I perceive to be good ideas. Hopefully, some of the fourthcore guys will weigh in.

One Fell Evening

There’s another disclaimer: RotIL happens in one night, in-game time. This constraint really came into play and affected how I chose daily powers and utility powers. I tried to pick daily powers that were reliable. For utility, encounter powers took precedence over daily powers.

The Long Haul

Powers that gave healing in one form or another were taken over powers that didn’t. Powers that gave saving throws were also prioritized. In lieu of those, I tried to pick powers that dealt a good amount of damage in order to try and speed up fights.

I picked up feats that gave me a chance at surviving longer (Durable, Toughness, etc.).

Skills are the Key

I have heard that skills become very important with #fourthcore, so I tried to pick feats and equipment that gave me skill bonuses. The equipment was mainly to give bonuses for my untrained skills. I avoided picking the Bard as a class, although I was sorely tempted to (and I actually like 4E bards, so it wasn’t that).

Other Considerations

I’ll present the following bullet list to show a few of the other things I considered (several of these are good for character generation in general):

  • Defenses
  • Damage resistances
  • Mobility
  • Class abilities

I’m currently a second stringer, waiting for someone’s character to die a spectacular and gruesome death, so my hybrid ardent / avenger came off the bench and get in the game. Think he’s got a chance? Let’s assume heart’s not the issue. Have I built him in a such a way that as long as I bring my A-game, he’s got a shot? Leave a comment or find me in the twitterverse, as always.

More Fourthcore Dungeon Thoughts

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So last time I talked about Fourthcore and gave some initial thoughts on a dungeon idea. This post is a continuation with more thoughts. I’ll probably continue to do these as long as ideas keep coming to me. At some point, I’ll hopefully move to posts with content that others can use in their own Fourthcore adventures (like traps, monsters, and room layouts).

Some of these I shared on Twitter, but I’m reproducing them here for easier access later.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I think the dungeon should be populated with immortal guardians (angels and the like). No undead here. (Let’s push the design envelope a bit, shall we?)

Another idea would be to keep score of how the players respond to challenges. As they progress, their actions change how the guardians respond to them. Maybe more guardians show up as they succeed (or fail but survive, I could go either way with it). Maybe the last room features a majordomo (the overlord) that the crusaders would either have to fight (if they barely make it through) or possibly bypass (if they’ve done well). I’m not sure if I like the idea of giving a good group a pass on the combat, maybe the fight occurs either way, but it’s tougher if the crusaders have done poorly.

Idea #2: What if the crusaders picked a vestige and the last room was a PvP battle royale? The winning crusader’s vestige is the god / primordial resurrected.

Idea #3: what if the god’s resurrection required a sacrifice of some kind? I’m fuzzy on how I would implement this, but I’d like for there to be a solution that didn’t require one of the players to die / kill a party member. Any suggestions are welcome.

Acid Wing

I haven’t had any more thoughts on this, but that’s okay, because I think the idea I detailed last time is awesome enough for now.

Lava Wing

I’m thinking one of the rooms should feature a slanted floor that leads down to a sealed exit. Solving a puzzle in the room would allow the crusaders to exit the chamber easily. Failing causes the room to begin to fill with lava. This would mean the exit would be all but covered by lava that causes insta-death within a round or two of the lava beginning to flow. A clever party would notice a second hidden exit that leads to a passage with some kind of fight in it.

So clever crusaders bypass the fight entirely by solving the puzzle and taking the primary exit. Not-so-clever crusaders end up finding the hidden exit and dealing with the fight. The rest end up dying in lava. Fun!

Void Wing

I have to make a correction here. Last time, I mentioned the elemental plane of void. That should have said Vacuum. Shame on me. I like the idea of void, but I need to come up with how this would work mechanically.

As always, leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter.

Initial Thoughts on a Fourthcore Dungeon

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Disclaimer: This post will contain my thought process on a fourthcore dungeon I’ve been kicking around for a while. It might be a bit spoilery in places, but I need to get the thoughts down before they evaporate. I’ve got one big surprise in mind, so I’m going to keep that one close to my chest.

Ideas are a mix of my own pondering mixed with random dice rolls using the Fourthcore Alphabet as a guide.

Overview

The dungeon is a vault in the astral plane, said to contain the corpse of a dead god or primordial. The vault has three wings, representing three powerful elements: lava, acid, and void. The chambers contain an odd mix of planar creatures and angels.

Acid Wing

The acid wing must have one chamber that contains a cylindrical walkway with portholes in it. The entire walkway radiates arcane magic (for those attuned to such things). The porthole offers no resistance, and indeed pulls in anyone that dares to stick an appendage in. The surprise here is that the entire room is a gelatinous cube, punched through with magically warded corridors. Traps and monsters in the wing may destroy sections of corridors, turning the whole wing into a maze if the crusaders aren’t careful.

Lava Wing

I’m still working on what this wing should contain, but one feature will have to be a trap that turns PCs into lava golems when triggered (there’s an old twitter joke here for those that have been following me long enough).

Void Wing

Void represents nothingness in this dungeon. A primal force that cause things to cease to exist (think similar to the elemental plane of void from Planescape – that’s right, I have to include a Planescape reference). Trial should involve a trap that makes pockets of void appear randomly, I think. Another option is to have a spherical area of void in a room that the crusaders must cross through and survive.

Anyway…

Like I said before, these are my rough thoughts, and I welcome any feedback. For those of you into fourthcore, am I on the right track? Does it sound interesting? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter.

Night’s Black Agents

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Super-spies vs. vampires? Yes, please! Night’s Black Agents (NBA) from Pelgrane Press takes this concept and cranks it to eleven. Kenneth Hite (@kennethhite) has taken the GUMSHOE system and run off to battle otherworldly horrors with it. My cursory reading of the rules has me excited to see what the system is capable of.

I’ve been running through character generation in order to play in John Adamus‘s (@awesome_john) Tinker Tailor Vampire Die campaign. He’s even been posting the entire campaign at Enworld. My cloud agent, Ezra Corvus, was a blast to build. Character generation is an important part of any game system, and NBA gets it right. There’s plenty of options, but they don’t overwhelm. Character history and motivation is baked right in.

As part of character generation, I took the existing character sheet (Excel spreadsheet) found here (made by Kevin Kulp) and fiddled with it a bit to get my own version. I’ve included the PDF version here in case others may get some use out of it. I might be persuaded to include the excel version too, if there’s interest.

Have you played Night’s Black Agents or GUMSHOE? What did you think of it?

Thoughts on Morality

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The topic of morality has been on my mind recently for numerous reasons. One is the ongoing speculation with #dndnext in regards to alignment (some excellent discussion on it here). Another is that the question of morality and how it’s handled in games is something I think about quite a bit. There’s a faint thread of it in my blogging. My interactions on Twitter touch on it from time to time, but I’m often reticent to discuss those types of things due to the medium (I find 140 characters is a difficult space for me to express thoughts like this fully).

My designer-brain engaged, and I started thinking of how I’d create a game who’s primary purpose was to explore the issue of morality. Consider this an initial step in that process: info-gathering on current RPGs that have morality as a predominant feature.  Here’s my research list and thoughts so far.

These are in no particular order (seriously).

Star Wars (various flavors)

Obviously, morality plays a major role here with the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force. Honestly, I’m not as interested in this, as this is a little too black and white for me.

Dogs in the Vineyard

Sorcerer

These two intrigue me. I’ve heard rumblings of Dogs for quite some time now, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to play it yet. I’m less familiar with Sorcerer, but it might be worth picking up both of these when I get an opportunity.
I know the “fruitful void” comes up in discussion about these types of games, and that’s an interesting design space I may need to cogitate on more fully.

World of Darkness

This one came up in both its old and new incarnations, with Vampire being mentioned more than the others.

How We Came To Be Here

I know nothing about this game, not even that it existed.

They Became Flesh

I’m intrigued by this, although I know next to nothing about it.

Dragon Age

From what I hear, this one has morality all over it. The rub is that it puts characters in moral quandaries. This is a good thing and is applicable to what I’m looking for.

So what am I missing? I know there have to be some more games out there that deal with morality (either directly or indirectly). Post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.

Retooled Lord of Chaos Epic Destiny

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I had the wonderful opportunity to be on the Tome Show last night with Jeff Greiner (@Squach),  Tracy Hurley (@SarahDarkmagic) and Michael (@OnlineDM1). We had an awesome time talking about the newest D&D 4e book, Player’s Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos.

My purpose today is not to rehash what was said there. You’ll have to wait for Jeff to post the episode. Rest assured I’ll edit this post to include the link. My purpose today is to try and create my own implementation of the Lord of Chaos epic destiny (found on page 140). Michael and I both felt that this epic destiny left a lot to be desired, so I thought I’d take a crack at improving it (with all due respect to the designers that crafted it).

Without further ado, I present my altered version of the Lord of Chaos. (Note that I’m only including the mechanics, as I don’t want to reprint the entire entry from the book.)

Lord of Chaos

Master of Chaos

Master of Chaos

I’d keep the level 21 and 24 abilities intact.

At level 25, gain the Minor Whim of Creation power (which was the level 26 utility power with a few changes).

At level 26, gain the Whim of Creation power (brand new).

At level 28, the Lord of Chaos also gains the ability to use his primary stat instead of Intelligence for the Influence Unstable Plane skill (page 10 of the Manual of the Planes).

At level 30, the Whim of Creation power is replaced with the Chaotic Creation power.

I also think it would be a good idea for the DM to suggest / impose that the Master of Chaos create a demiplane or stronghold within the Elemental Chaos as part of his destiny.

These are my rough thoughts on what would be good. I haven’t playtested them, but I’d love to hear about it you use it at your table. Also feel free to leave me a comment or tweet me if you have comments or suggestions. (I’ll even take criticism, as long as it’s constructive.)

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