Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Something old, something new

I'm trying something new for my post today. It's going to be a bit bare bones. I am in Durango co for work and I just finished playtesting d n d next. I am actually writing this on my phone so the format may be a bit wonky. I'm going to try to get a better post up later, but I want to get my first impressions down.

First, it has a really old school feel like a lot of people had said. It definitely feels like d n d. Like my post it felt a little bare bones. Given the nature of the playtest and that we started at first level that was expected. Even so I struggled a bit my first round.

I played the cleric of moradin. I was hoping to try out the wizard. I jumped in with both feet however and decided to play an orphan dwarf whose parents had been killed by orcs. I'd like to get into the details but I won't here. Because of the playtest rules I'm going to post something on the wotc forums and then link to it here. For now just know I had fun and wish next all the best. thr

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekend Chainmail: Plate Mail

There has been a lot of talk recently about the way women are portrayed in fantasy art. I tend to stay out of those conversations mostly because of my anatomy. Obviously I enjoy the pictures I post here, but I also would like to see some more realistic art, particularly as we approach DnDNext. So in aid of that here are some pictures of women in plate mail.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth
First we have Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth the first is well known as a strong woman who ruled England in her own right. I don't want to bore you with history, but she was widely regarded as a good ruler and was probably a patron of Shakespeare. 
Woman in Plate with large sword
I really like this picture. She looks like she is about to pick up the sword and behead Edward Longshanks. Maybe I'm reading into it, but I think she would be right at home with William Wallace shouting freedom. The pose isn't completely natural and there is something strange about the way her hair flows, but she definitely pulls off the reasonable armor. 

Female Barbarian
Ok so this isn't reasonable armor. It does cover a bit more than most of your chainmail bikinis. All politics aside I will continue to like the chainmail bikin and I won't apologize for it. I think reasonable armor and a portrayal of people who aren't Hollywood perfect deserves a place in the game. If you have any thoughts please feel free to post a comment or find me on Twitter or Facebook. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coming Attractions

I'm not entirely sure all the things I'm going to have time for this week, but I do have a couple ideas I would like to get posted. I'm not going to promise an update every day, but I'm going to do my best to make it happen. At the very least I'll get a couple of posts this week.

Aramil? Aramil? Anyone?
Secret Warlock: Many things have happened in this campaign since I've posted an update. I'll try to update you on the things that have happened including Aramil's confrontation with a very boring history professor and his confession about not actually being a bard.

Weekly Homebrew: I still need to make the Steam Powered Giraffe familiar, but I am seriously considering doing some necromancer themed creations inspired by my foray into Pathfinder.

Other than that I still have some D and D inspired fiction that I am working on if I can get my muse back. I may also have more thoughts on DnD Next as the open playtest approaches. As always if you an idea for an article or want to request a homebrew item feel free to leave a comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In defense of the healing surge

Is this where I audition for DnD Next?

It has been a while since I have written an article like this. But I have seen a couple of things lately that I would really like to respond to. Specifically I have seen a lot of comments on this article about self healing in DnD next that make me cringe. When I see people attack the way I like to play D and D my first response is to attack them back. I mean we are playing a game with floating wolf spirits, magical elves, colossal pixies, and dragons. Do we really need to quibble over whether the dragon bit me in half or only made me bloodied? I don’t think so.

 I like to keep healing abstract, and I don’t think insisting hit points are damage does any favors to the game. Furthermore, I feel that insisting healing surges, and non-magical healing are game-y, misses the point. But, if I simply respond with a pat answer and put down their style of play I am not any better than they are. So, I feel a more detailed defense of some of the “game-y” elements that 4e added is in order. I hope to see them available in DnDnext, but I don’t think anyone is doing it wrong if they don’t like them.
Heroic characters in fiction often call on inner reserves of strength. Almost every action movie has a fight scene where it looks grim for the hero, but somehow they pull through. Whether it was John Mclane in Die Hard, Rocky Balboa in Rocky or pretty much anyone Arnold Schwarzenegger played you could expect the hero to go down to one knee and then stand back up, spit and get back into the fight. There are some good examples in the fantasy genre as well. To use King Leonidas in 300 as an example might be stretching fantasy as a genre to its limit, but it works. The best example by far is the death of Boromir in Lord of the Rings.

A rousing speech can wake the dead. Okay not literally, but there are plenty of examples of using a rousing speech to get people into a fight, or back into it. Additionally yelling snap out of it and slapping someone to wake them up happens so often it is a trope. In fact a recent episode of mythbusters found that slapping someone can increase their adrenaline which would give them a boost. I think the best example of this idea was when Tinker Bell was brought back from the verge of death by clapping.

Yes but he didn't know the peasants were going to rebel
Not everyone wants to play a Cleric. I know this is more of a metagame concern, but I think it’s good to at least keep the idea that we are creating a game in mind. I have done a medieval history simulation, in a history class. It has its place. Honestly it was kind of fun thinking about being a peasant for a bit. In general however, I refer you to Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be the king.” But, there are many things about medieval reality that just wouldn’t be fun in a game. I don’t want to write a history paper here, but if anyone is interested in a list I’ll be happy to write one for you.

The main thing is that it’s not fun to be knocked out of the action. It’s bad enough to be out for a round or two, but with more realistic healing you either need access to magical healing or you could be out for weeks or months at a time. As a player it isn’t fun to be pigeon holed into playing something you don’t want to play, or to be out of the action for a whole session or even more because of a few poor dice rolls. I am of the opinion that while the threat of death is needed for the game to be fun, but actually dying is usually anything but fun for a player and can wreck havoc with your plans as a dm.

As the dm having really fragile characters can be very limiting to the types of encounters you want to run. If the characters can’t bounce back from encounters fairly quickly you have to be very careful with the balance. More importantly if your characters have to rest for weeks between encounters to become healed you either need to hand out tons of magic or the system will play havoc with your pacing. The players play havoc with things enough you don’t want the system to do it as well.

How many weeks do I need to rest to get rid of this face?
I feel gritty, realistic combat has a place in D and D.  I’d like to say here that if you want gritty, realistic combat play another game, but I have committed to not being an edition warrior. I understand the motives for a more realistic expression of combat. I certainly feel that if someone wants to use wounds or some other mechanic to track damage that the game should let them. I do get irritated with people who say there is something wrong with how I play the game because their abstraction is more realistic than my abstraction. I hope I have made the case that my abstraction deserves a place in the game as well. If I have go and vote. Let's make DnD Next a game we all want to play. Until next time remember don’t let your DM tell you no. It’s always, “Yes, and…?”

Saturday Chainmail: A Long Time Coming

I've been away for quite some time. I'm excited to get back into the swing of things a bit here. Work has slowed a little, and I've finally gotten into another long article. I'm almost finished with it and I'm pretty sure I'll have it posted on Sunday. For now I'd love to show you some of the pictures I have found this week.

Purple Chainmail Top
First is this lovely purple top. So many of these are steel grey that I really love seeing some color. Additionally the jewelry really draws attention to the top. Normally I don't like chokers, but I think in this case it works.
Winged Tiara
Another picture with an interesting accessory. I like the tiara here. It almost reminds me of Aragorn's crown in Lord of the Rings. Again, the chain draws attention to the top tying together the outfit.

Chainmail and Umbrella
I am pretty sure this is the same outfit minus the tiara. I enjoy seeing more of the model in this picture, and I think the mug and the umbrella paint a picture of a warrior who still has time for the finer things in life. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Until next time remember, don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Homebrew: Axe of Thraxxor

I was inspired to create this axe from a couple of different sources. For my vision of how the axe looks I used the Felguard's axe from World of Warcraft.
And a righteous axe at that!
For the origin of the axe I was inspired by Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, specifically this video which is not safe for work. Look for the Demon Thraxxor in an upcoming Weekly Homebrew. Once again I am not sure the power of the axe lies within aceptable parameters, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I would love to hear some feedback on it, whether general comments or how you end up using it in your game. I am finally starting to get the hang of using Power2ool to make magic items. I hope you enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"
Created on Power2ool

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Many Many Apologies

I am sure some of my hardcore followers have noticed a fall off of content and posts lately. It's been very busy and work and I am also trying to get some real life priorities straight. I am going to continue updating the blog, but it will likely be spotty for the foreseeable future. I appreciate those of you who have participated in my polls. I do plan on having a weekly homebrew this week.

Since it was a tie the last time I checked I am going to try to post both. If I get the chance you should see something tomorrow afternoon or Friday morning at the latest. If nothing else I will do one this week and the other next. I still have some ideas for D and D related fiction and articles I just haven't had the time I needed to devote to them. Hopefully once things settle down I'll be able to jump back in with both feet. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekend Chainmail

I've got a long busy weekend coming up so I will be posting these without comment. Enjoy!
Hula Hoop

Nice day outside

Set against a charge

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Weekly Homebrew: Copper Elephant

Continuing my love affair with steampunk I present this creature inspired by Steam Powered Giraffe. For those unfamiliar they are an excellent steampunk flavored band. Their personas are automatons created to battle copper African elephants. I really like the image.

  I am working on a poll for next weeks venture. For now would you prefer a Steam Powered Giraffe familiar or the Axe of Thraxxor a magic item inspired by Metal? If you have a preference or want to recommend something else entirely feel free to leave a comment or find me on twitter or facebook. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Chainmail Motivation: Metal!!!11one11

Happy Hump Day Followers. I have been toying with the idea of a metal inspired D and D game. I have had a few thoughts on it, mostly about how awesome it would be. Unfortunately I am a bit at a loss as to how to make it happen. On a side note I really do like Symphonic Metal. If you haven't heard Rhapsody of Fire (they were called just Rhapsody once) then you really need to. In any case please enjoy this visual representation of one of my favorite genres of music.

Let's turn this to 11!
Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Secret Warlock: Guest DM part 2

As promised I have a few thoughts on the guest DM from my Secret Warlock campaign. I'd like to start with some thoughts on the idea itself. I may be one of the luckiest people who play D and D because most of the players I know are also good DM's. I have heard that DM's are hard to find and a good DM is worth his or her weight in gold. I certainly agree witht the second part, but apart from some time on the virtual table, I haven't noticed a scarcity of DM's. Because most of the players I know also DM I have thought several times of having one or more of them run a game or two in my world.

Unless of course you run out. 
It can be fun to play in someone else's sandbox sometimes, but the idea can be a bit daunting. The key is to make sure you have your own stamp to put on things, but definitely don't kill any of the regular DM's sacred cows. It might be really hard to balance the needs of the DM's world with your story. Remember that it's not your world so you may need to let a few things flow differently than you normally would, but if you didn't have a story to tell there would be no point in you running the game.

One of my favorite things about playing D and D is the shared storytelling you get to do. I don't always run it that way. Sometimes it's easier just to kick down doors and chew bubblegum. When it works however it is awesome. Which is why I love the idea of switching DMs up sometimes. One of the best games I have been in was The Ebon Hand of Sharneth. It started as an all stealth Mercenary group and has evolved into a group where all of us take a turn at DMing. We have had some off moments of course, but on the whole it has been an enjoyable effort.

Sure it's big enough, but look at the location
I want to say a few words about the game the guest DM ran. Several people brought in new characters, but I chose to keep my Secret Warlock around for the adventure. It was actually kind of fun because I was able to let loose a little because I wasn't trying to hide who I was as much. You have no idea how much easier it is to be able to just say warlock's curse instead of trying to jump through hoops to get the idea across without saying it.

Other than being a slightly different dynamic with different characters, the main difference between this game and the normal game was the structure. Our normal DM tends to give us a lot of options. In fact sometimes it is a bit like Tolkien where we get lost looking for the forest because we are buried under a sea of Ents. It was sort of pleasant to have a more structured adventure. Though it did get a bit railroady in parts. I think the highlight of my evening was seeing our DM try to horse whisper a Nightmare.

On the whole I had a good time with our guest DM, but I am looking forward to getting back into the main story even if that means more twists, turns and blind alleys leading to dead ends. I know I'll enjoy the ride. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Chainmail: Chainmail Outside

I thought about saving this post for the first of may, but I decided a chainmail parade would be appropriate for St. Patrick's Day as well. It turns out Denver is famous for it's Green Beer Holiday Parade. I have to work so I would love some pictures or updates.

I hope it's like this only Greener
I have noticed a trend in many of the pictures I am finding. Many of them come from Ren Faires. If you have a moment you should really check out this. I love this podcast and pretty much everything else Marc Gunn does. I am actually still bummed about the Brobdingnagian Bards breaking up. Some of my best D and D moments have used their songs.

I digress. I have found a good number of pictures of people wearing chainmail outside and it was warm enough today for me to share them. I hope you enjoy.

I love these costumes. I like the blue dress and blue armor combo
Really? You want to take my picture in this?
Until Next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always"Yes, and...?"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weekly Homebrew: Artificers Tool Belt

I am on a serious steampunk kick. In fact Steam Powered Giraffe has gotten me threw a few hard days. I am still thinking about making a steampunk game using Ebberon as the chassis. I posted goggles last week and this week I want to share this tool belt.
I love this belt

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Midweek Chainmail: Motivation

Huh punk? Do ya?
In most of my wife's campaigns she got tired of the players wrecking all of her well thought out and mapped bars. So she turned Bartender into a multi-class that required at least 20 levels in another class. Suddenly the players were much more civil in her bars, and if one of us wasn't she always had Scorch the Great Wyrm Red Dragon who had polymorphed into a bartender. It is in this vein I post this picture. Happy Hump Day followers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Secret Warlock: Guest DM

We have a guest DM this week. I am kind of excited to see what happens. If I have time I will update tonight with more info if not I'll post a breakdown next week. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coming Attractions

The only new idea I have had for this week is a mod for Forbidden Island to make it Zombie Island. I'm not sure how I want it to work, but I'm going to work on it and may post it here if it looks good. Otherwise I have a lot of other projects in various states of completion and I may see something on DnD Next that will inspire me to post. I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

King Arthur's World part 2

I am more than a little bummed about things today. I realized that although I am having a great time running my Arthurian Britain game I can't seem to keep any continuity through it at all. I even offered one of my players a boon because he was the only one who had showed up three sessions in a row. I think part of it is my fault. I know I get busy with life and forget to communicate about my game. I shouldn't expect people to just show up or read an email four hours before the game and be able to make it. Still I do wish I had heard from the couple of people I had emailed earlier in the week about the game. Pete and Robert I am talking to you.
"If I say it's a goat it's a goat it has horns
doesn't it?"--Squee the goblin king

The good news is that I am having a blast and I think the players who show up are having a good time as well. The turnover hasn't yet caused a breakdown in the story so hopefully we can get a core group going and then have a few guest stars if we need to. Some of my favorite moments in the game was roleplaying the goblins. At one point the goblin king told one of the players to get back on the table because he "had told you that you were a pig for dinner" I am not sure if you have heard of Squee the goblin king, but I was channeling him tonight.

I am really hopeful that I will be able to get some consistency in my game. I have enjoyed running it and I have some big plans for it in the future. Maybe I'll even remember to send an email out more than one day before the game next week. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Saturday Chainmail: Swimwear

So I just got back from working in the mountains and I found this wonderful picture.
I really love this swimsuit. I know she is a little skinny, but I think it's ok to show some... wait. I think there are pirates in this picture.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Open Letter to the Hotel where I am staying

Please join us in the 21st century. I would like to be able to use the internet or at least my cell phone in the room. I know you are in the mountains and therefore slightly crazy but I am tired of sitting in the lobby. Also why do I have to stare at this Polar Bear's butt?
Polar Bear Butt
I am digging the fireplace so that can stay. That is all. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weekly Homebrew: Goggles

I make these look good!
I made this on Power2ool which is an excellent website
This post inspired me to create this item. I realize they are probably not balanced, but Chris Perkins says that's ok. I'd love some feedback on this item and maybe some other ideas for steampunk inspired magic items. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Midweek Chainmail: Red Sonja

Happy Hump Day followers. I love this picture of Red Sonja. I think it's cool that at least the shield is the right size. I love the skull on the floor almost of sight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
Fear my mighty Axe!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Secret Warlock: It's a Bugbear Party

Hey baby you want to see my multiclass ability?
Well I got to have an actual party tonight. We helped save a Bugbear village from an Evil Necromancer (TM). In return they threw us an epic party. It was fun because myself and the new Satyr in the group had a contest to see who could catch the most fleas. (I'll give you a moment to think about that). I also played have you met Ted with the bugbear in the group. Good news he ended up married. We are finally back on track to stop the disease. We just need one more component the Fury of a Fire Giant. I have a good idea how to get it, but we need to bring back the two fire giants that fell off our ship a couple of weeks ago. Now where did I put that Raise Dead ritual scroll. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coming Attractions

It looks like it's going to be another busy week at my day job. I'm going up into the mountains again and I am not sure how available the internet is going to be. I'm going to try to get a couple of posts ready just in case, but if I go silent you'll know why. I did have an idea for a short story, but I'm not sure I'll get it finished so I don't want to share any more about it until it's a bit closer to done. As always if you have something you would like to see here leave a comment or find me on Facebook or Twitter. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Portal 2

I spent most of the day playing coop mode of Portal 2 with my son. I think it was an excellent way to spend my day off. We did take a break for a round of Forbidden Island which is an awesome game and pretty inexpensive. I'm hoping to have some time for more content next week but work is taking me into the mountains again, so I make no promises.
How are you holding up? Because I am a potato!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Saturday Chainmail: Sensible Armor

I posted a picture of a female character in more sensible armor a couple of days ago. I have since found several more beautiful pictures of women in sensible armor. I hope you enjoy the break from the chainmail bikini. 
Wonder Woman in Ancient Armor
This first picture is of Wonder Woman in ancient armor. I really like the Roman look and the best part is that you can still tell you are looking at a woman. 
Completely unlike this picture
I like this picture of Alice in armor from the new Alice in Wonderland movie. It's about the only thing I do like about the movie. 

Explain to me again why Hatters are mad?
As much as I enjoy the chainmail bikini it is more than possible to have beautiful pictures of women in sensible armor. 
Sometimes less isn't more. Sometimes more is more.
I am not going to go completely away from the normal weekend chainmail. I will be back to the cheesecake you know and love next week, or perhaps Wednesday. I do hope you have enjoyed the more sensible armor I have found for this post, however. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Once again I got to play some Pathfinder around an actual table this week. I very much enjoyed getting together with some people and having some face to face gaming. I can still see why I chose 4e for most of my gaming needs however. I am playing a Death Priest of Wee Jas working towards the True Necromancer prestige path and there are no other healers because the person who was playing a cleric died and rolled a 1st level paladin.
Ok which end am I supposed to hit with now?

I did get to have one shining moment of awesome when a zombie crit failed to hit my summoned skeleton and killed his buddy instead. For most of the rest of the game I was trying to roll an 18 on my dice so I could hit with my scythe. I think the saddest part is that I am the expert on the system other than the dm so I think we may be in some trouble as we go on. I mean this was the second week in a row where we had to pick up half the party from the floor.

 I really enjoy the group dynamic so I'll probably keep going back, but if anyone remembers how to break a death priest I would love for you to tell me. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Weekly Hombrew: Dominated Cultist

This weeks Weekly Homebrew is a cultist minion that is a much larger threat than it first might appear. The dominated cultist was made on the Wizards of the Coast Monster Builder using the Human Lackey as a base. The dominated cultist works great as a generic minion of a cult. Having a Mind Flayer at the center of the cult would work great. One thing that could work really well is having a familiar npc, preferably one the players like, be one of the cultists.

The dominated cultist works like any other minion while alive, doing a small amount of damage on a hit and generally being a nuisance. It is not until it dies that it really comes into its own. Any time a Dominated Cultist dies anyone in a cultist's Mental Feedback aura takes a small amount of psychic damage. If someone is standing in multiple auras the damage can really start to ramp up. If you can make the party vulnerable to psychic damage either through a terrain effect or another monster such as Zindriel, Sand Bride that's even better. The best is that the domination is insidious, attempting to dominate whoever kills the Dominated Cultist. Note this ability only works when the cultist is killed so a smart party would be encouraged to knock the cultists unconscious and look for another way to end the domination. This is all to the good since the players likely know the cultists and would probably feel bad about killing them outright. 

When using these you will want to be careful, because it would be easy to overwhelm the party especially if they kill a lot of cultists with close burst effects. You should definitely give the party some clues as to the nature of the cultists so that the first Mental Feedback isn't a total gotcha. I hope you enjoy using these cultists as much as I did. Until next time remember, don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Midweek Chainmail: Non Pointless Armor

I found this picture and thought it was gorgeous. I know it's not exactly what you are used to here, but then what is? Happy Hump day followers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Secret Warlock: Motivation

The campaign that I am playing in as a secret warlock was put on hold for this week. Since I don't have a review to do I would like to share another motivational poster. This one ties in to the Aggro Control poster I shared a couple of weeks ago. It's always important to remember that I don't have to outrun the T-Rex. I just have to outrun my demonic minion.
A zombie army also works in a pinch

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Coming Attractions

In addition to not having a day off this week,I am also recovering from a stomach bug. I am going to keep this short. I may not have much content again this week. Some ideas for articles I have had include a discussion of what "Epic" is and how to get it at the table, some ideas for a more"metal" D and D and of course some of the ideas I've mentioned before but haven't had the time to explore as yet. As always if you have any ideas for articles, or just want to see something talked about go ahead and leave a comment below or you can find me on Facebook or Twitter. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always "Yes, and...?"

Another Late Night

I just got back from another late night of gaming. This time we played Arkham Horror which turned out to be a lot of fun and surprisingly we won. I don't play board games very often so it was a nice change of pace. I have had some interesting ideas for article which I will share with you tomorrow until then enjoy this picture of Lovecraftia.
Please don't eat me

Friday, February 24, 2012

Saturday Chainmail: Star Wars

I have seen a lot of complaints about the portrayal of women in D and D and since I post chainmail bikinis every Saturday I thought I should make some sort of response. I give you Princess Leia Organa Solo a very strong female lead. 
"Into the Garbage Shoot Flyboys"
A princess rescue does not have to be sexist
I have not rescued a prince before in D and D and I think if I did I would end up with a lot of Monty Python references at my table. However, the last time I rescued a Princess she basically took over as soon as we let her out of the cell and she ended the session as an Empress ruling in her own right. I know the trope has been overdone, but it doesn't have to be sexist. 
"Because I am holding a thermal detonator!"
Sometimes a princess is captured because she intends to be
Luke's plan may have been insane, but Princess Leia was right where she needed to be when she was needed. 
"He doesn't know it but I am so going to choke him to death"
Sometimes you can tell what someone is thinking
Now since you have been good here is your cheesecake. I know there is a lot of misogyny in D and D and the world, but sometimes being a princess is not only ok, it's awesome. Until next time remember don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Party Optimization Part two: Mechanics

We talked about creating a party that has similar goals and perhaps even an overarching theme such as all arcane characters in part one. Now we’re going to talk about making mechanical choices that will create a synergistic party. Once you have agreed on a party theme, or at least gotten some ideas how the characters could be connected, the next step is actually creating a party. When creating a party you want to look at how all the pieces fit together, instead of simply making individual characters on their own. Remember the goal here is to make a party that runs like a well oiled machine. Occasionally a party will work well together from happenstance. Additionally, if the characters and players all have similar goals a party can run smoothly as well. However, a party built together with a theme, with short term and long term goals, and with an eye towards working as a unit, can run sensationally well.

The first step to making a mechanically optimized party is to pick a theme. Your theme should include some basic story ideas, how the characters will interact and what the party will be good at. No one character can be good at everything and the same is true of adventuring parties. While you can certainly have a party that does a bit of everything, having a more focused party is going to shine brighter. You certainly want to cover your bases in party creation to make sure you don’t have any glaring holes. For example a party that is functionally blind or socially illiterate. The main thing is to come up with some sort of concept for your party such as our party always wants to go first, or our party never wants to miss. Of course you will never be able to fully reach those goals, but if you have them you can make informed choices to come close to reaching them.

There is some inherent synergy in choosing classes that share a power source. For example, arcane characters tend to have some great controller options across the board, divine characters tend to have a touch of leader in them, most martial characters have good basic attacks and warlords can give out basic attacks like candy. This is nice because the game rewards you for making a party with a theme. I’ve never been in a party of all arcane characters, but I imagine it would be fun frustrating all the monsters into oblivion.

Yeah it's kinda like that
Playing a group of characters that share a race has less inherent synergy. Still there are some options that can be synergistic, and even more options that can work well together on a basic level. A team of all Devas could work well, especially for a group of divine characters. The bonuses like up, and Devas make excellent Divine characters thematically. You will get a lot of mileage out of Memory of 1,000 lifetimes and the Deva’s resistances are a nice bonus. Some feats are particularly useful for a group of Devas. These include Radiant Power, Battle Intuition and Auspicious Lineage in the heroic tier. Shared Memories is an excellent feat, but is for Warlords only. One interesting tactic could be an entire party of multiclass Warlords. The multiclass Warlord feats out of Martial Power 2 are all excellent choices for this. The party would get a ton of benefits when anyone used an action point and the party’s memory power would become a poll available for all to use whenever needed.

If you never want to miss a party of all elves could be interesting. Elven bonuses would work well for a primal themed adventuring party if you wanted to go the hippy tree hugger route. There are plenty of good feats for Elven characters, but nothing terribly game changing. One interesting idea is to make a party which includes at least one Elf, at least one Eladrin, and at least one Drow to make use of Caelynnvala'sBoons.

No Beast will escape my tiny pixie wrath
Almost any race could work to build a themed adventuring party around. Some races have more support than others, but as long as the party tries to work together your party of pixie beast slayers should do quite well. The character optimization race guide wiki is an excellent resource if you are looking to make an optimized party of all one race. Another excellent place to look is this post on Dungeon's Master.

Here are some other thoughts you should keep in mind when building an optimized party. Your leader is a resource for more than just healing. Healing is an important aspect of any leader, but there is more to being a good leader than healing. There is an excellent guide to leaders here. The guide lists several aspects of being a good leader, and all of the leader classes excel at some aspects but not others. Keeping the other classes needs in mind while building your leader is a key to successful party optimization. Several classes, most notably the Blackguard, gain bonuses from having temporary hit points. Having a leader that gives out temps is great for those classes. A class like a barbarian that likes wielding big damage, low accuracy weapons would love a leader that helps with accuracy such as a tactical warlord.  On the other side very accurate characters like Avengers and Rangers would love a damage boosting leader like a Panther Shaman. The Panther Shaman works especially well with a Ranger because the damage roll bonus would apply to both Twin Strikes ramping up the damage even more.

Healing surges are a party resource. You are only as resilient as your weakest link. If you want to keep going after others have fallen you should start to think of healing surges as a party resource. There are a couple of really good ways to extend the party’s day by passing around surges. The Paladin can give out some healing by using Lay on Hands. Clerics, Shamans and Artificers have some good options for surgeless healing. Artificers in particular are good at this because their encounter heals can be replenished by any party member’s surges. If none of those options work well in your group you should make sure that someone has access to the Comrade’s Succor Ritual. It is a first level ritual and well worth the price.

Then the Jaguar ate his face! True story. 
Guild and Tribal feats are your friend. If you can get the whole party on board the guild and tribal feats are well worth the investment. The feats all give a solid benefit for taking them, and the benefits are improved for each other party member that takes them. If you have a good theme in mind the feats can help solidify it.

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful when you are building your next party. Even if you don’t want to make a totally optimized party, thinking about a theme for your party and making some choices together can lead to a richer gaming experience. In the future I would like to post a complete party that uses these ideas including some basic backgrounds and connections between the characters. If you have made a party cooperatively or just have some ideas for how it might work, please leave a comment below. Until next time remember don’t let your DM tell you no. It’s always, “Yes, and…?”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekly Homebrew: Syrantharax

As promised Syrantharax an Epic tier Solo Monster. I have divided him up into two parts.

The first part of the encounter he is polymorphed into human form. It would be interesting to have him be another type of humanoid for example elf, and then you could just give him Elven Accuracy or whatever other racial power you wanted him to emulate. You will want to start the encounter off with Tides of Despair so he has the aura available throughout the encounter. Once Syrantharax is bloodied he should transform into Dragon form.

Once there you should allow the players to attempt to dispel the aura either with dispel magic or some creative skill use. Hopefully by switching forms in the midst of combat Syrantharax will remain interesting throughout the entire encounter. However he should not fight to the death so if it gets to be a grind, simply have him start to try to negotiate with the players. If they seem averse to negotiation you can have him fly away to fight another day or simply surrender and beg for mercy if you don't want to bring him back later.

I hope you find a use for Syrantharax. If you have any thoughts on design or want to report how he worked in play feel free to leave a comment, or find me on Facebook or Twitter. Until next time remember, don't let your DM tell you no. It's always, "Yes, and...?"