Friday, December 18, 2009

3.5 Sorcerer: Native Spellcasting

I've decided that the 3.5 sorcerer in my games are going to be worth playing.

My first modification: All sorcerers will have an ability called Native Spellcasting:

"Complex spell recipes are for wizards, who merely study ways to emulate the power you were born with. You grew up finding your own way to evoke the magic in your blood, and your spellcasting traditions are unorthodox in nature. The Difficulty Class for someone to discern a spell you are casting increases by 4."

Also: I'm considering stripping away the familiar, adding eschew materials as abonus feat, adding bloodline abilities, and adding metamagic and pseudo-spell abilities.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Custom Minis

Let's take a moment to honor Patrick Keith (, in my top ten list of coolest people ever.

Why? He just sculpted this bomb mini for me.

This is Kaal, my brother's aspiring dragonslayer, complete with dragonlance. Maybe one day I'll post the story of Kaal, and the artwork that accompanies him. I sketched the design for this lance back when he was starting this character out, then I had AvatarArt do a sketch with him and the lance, and now this!

As far as the process of getting a mini sculpted, it's actually quite easy. I contacted Reaper and asked if they'd do it. They informed me that they cast minis, but don't sculpt them. So they recommended some sculptors (of which Patrick was one).

Now that it's sculpted, I can have Reaper cast the mini and I keep the rights to sell them. How cool is that?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Retooling the 3.5 Sorcerer

I think most people agree that the 3.5 sorcerer needs retooling in order to keep up with the wizard. I want to make it a class people want to play.

I like the bloodlines introduced by Unearthed Arcana and championed by Pathfinder. I think these and their powers should be standard and not require feats or class feature substitutions (but perhaps feats to enhance the bloodlines would work).

One thing I think a sorcerer should have in her repertoire is the ability to produce quasi-spell effects. Variations on traditional spells should come as a standard power for sorcerors.

Example: a sorcerer with burning hands should be able to light a fire similar to the effect of a match without expending a spell slot.

I need to think about this more.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I recently whipped up a 6th level paladin (Kallen Highshield) for a short-notice game, and I wanted to give him some flare. For me, a paladin's flare usually comes in the form of his sword. Long ago I read a list of cheesy paladin quotes, and one stuck with me: [to sword] "Here's the goblin I promised you."

So I had Estraeus forged for my pally. It was a +1 keen longsword (17-20 threat range!). I stacked that with the Great Cleave feat progression, and waded into ranks of orcs with quite the swagger. Haha!

Then we ended our three session adventure, and I had some time to think some more about this hasty character. As I reviewed the deity I selected, I realized that the greatsword (not the longsword) was the god's favored weapon. But Kallen (and I) was already so attached to Estraeus!

Solution: have Estraeus reforged!

So the story goes: the church's weaponsmiths split Estraeus down the fuller, widened the blade, but maintained the magically sharp edges. Then they extended the pommel, and added plenty of heft to the whole weapon.

Result: Estraeus 2.0, +1 Keen Greatsword. Behold!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Throwing People

Long ago, when the internet was relatively new, I ran across a list called, "The Greatest Things About D&D."

Only one item on the list stuck in my head to this day: "Having to calculate the trajectory of a thrown goblin."

I've never actually had anyone try to throw another creature since about year 2000, when I was still in 2e. It's never come up, so I've never considered the d20 rules for such an attempt...until now.

I've got a player in one of my games who just made a character who could very well have the ability (and motivation) to throw people. He bugged me for rules on how this would work, so I had to oblige.

Here is a new house rule for throwing creatures.

"Creatures are considered two handed improvised melee weapons for the purposes of throwing them. This means you must use two hands as a full round action to throw them. Tiny and Diminuitive creatures have a range increment of 10ft. Small and medium creatures have a range increment of 5ft.

If targeting a specific floor square, treat the creature as a splash weapon for determining the result of the throw. The AC is typically 5 for a segment of floor, and the directional rules for a miss also apply. If targeting another creature with the throw, a ranged touch attack is required.

Damage from being thrown - A thrown creature is dealt falling damage when thrown. The distance thrown equals distance fallen for the purposes of determining damage taken. Add 1.5x the throwing creature's strength modifier to damage dealt.

Damaging other creatures - Tiny and Diminuitive creatures do no damage if they hit another being. Small creatures do 1d6 damage per 10ft traveled if they hit another creature, and Medium creatures do 2d6 damager per 10ft traveled.

Thrown creatures that hit another being also perform a bull rush (use the thrower's strength modifier and the thrown creature's size modifier to determine the outcome of the bull rush). The thrown creature must continue with the opponent as it moves."

Here's an illustration: Clayton's got a pipsqueak of a goblin berating him, and it's hard as heck to hit with his hammer. Finally, though, he gives up conventional means of slaughter and is able to grapple it. Now, holding onto it, he wants to make it really pay for all the nasty things it just said to him. He stands 10ft from a cliff and decides it should plummet to its doom. He rolls d20 + his ranged attack bonus - 4 (improvised weapon) - 2 (range increment). The AC in this case is HUGE (wide open spaces). Chances are, he successfully flings the thing to it's doom. It takes the appropriate falling damage and likely dies.

Here's another illustration: That goblin's worg comes after him, and he's got no time to dance with it, for he sees that his friend Amrielle is currently surrounded by a group of goblins by the same cliff. He grapples the puppy normally, then decides to fling it at a goblin in an attempt to knock it off. Clayton is 15 feet from the goblin, who happens to be 10ft from the cliff. He throws the worg, rolling a d20 + his ranged attack bonus - 4 (improvised weapon) - 6 (range increment). If he hits the goblin's touch AC with the attack, the worg deals damage to the goblin, receives damage, and initiates a bull rush versus the goblin.

Clayton get's to represent the worg in the bull rush (it is his attack, after all). He rolls d20 + his strength bonus + 0 (worg size) vs. the goblin's roll. Let's say the worg successfully bull rushes the goblin. If the worg win's by 5 or more, it must choose to follow the goblin and move it further, successfully pushing them both off the cliff.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

1kXP-12 RMT Session 1

It's time for another doomed to fail initiative...Remedial Munchkin Training (RMT), courtesy of A Thousand XP to Midnight (1kXP-12).

Munchkin (n): a player who plays what is intended to be a non-competitive game (usually a role-playing game) in an aggressively competitive manner.

In the military, RMT (Remedial Military Training) is used for whiny misfits and arrogant problem children. The intent is to reteach them the basic tenets of their profession, to take them back to basics. At 1kXP-12, RMT is akin to that. We intend to give GMs/DMs and players the tools to whip munchkins back into shape.

Session 1 is a simple exercise. Strip them down, just like in basic training, so you can build them up the right way.

As I developed this, I drew inspiration from MMOs such as Everquest and World of Warcraft. Years back, a friend of mine recanted a tale of a drizzly day when his EQ guild's server went offline. Yearning to play SOMETHING, the group found a new server, created barbarians, stripped them to their leopard skin thongs, and raced across the map on foot. They trudged through zones too powerful for their unclad newbies, and dropped like flies. This naked barbarian footrace has become his most memorable moment of his EQ days.

I then came across a similar event in WoW. A group of 40 embarked on an odd quest: raid the 10th level NPC "Hogger" with 40 Gnomes at level one. A silly video of this not-quite-epic hunt is here. All I can say about it is, "Tread with caution through this poppyfield."

Now on to my exercise, which isn't necessarily for munchkins alone. Have your players create low level commoners with little to no special powers or abilities (D&D players, level 1 human commoners work great!). Then have them try to navigate a world or adventure made for heroes. I can guarantee three things:

1. Hilarity will ensue,

2. The players will dig deeper than ever to succeed, and

3. Nearly everyone involved will look at the game in a new light.

Frank, Natalya, and Jervesh have no idea that Gnolls are lurking in the grass...

The intent in this is to teach that player (and everyone knows that player) a thing or two about the game. This is for the character who isn't content playing a 'basic' hero. You know, the hero made from the basic rules? "That's not interesting (or challenging, or powerful) enough." Have them try to defend their hovel against a squad of orcs with nothing but a pitchfork and pot of stew, and see how much they appreciate the "weak" abilities a fighter holds.

This kind of game works even if you're not trying to teach a lesson. On many a boring day I find myself with gamer friends not sure how to fill a couple hours. There's not enough time (or we're missing key players) to run a serious game, but we feel the need to game.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Loss of Fear

I've been screaming this for forever...

"D&D has grown further away from its roots with every edition." Eventually I had to take a stand and stick to 3.5. While it has lost much of what made me fall in love with the game when I first played AD&D, I feel it has a good enough balance of new fantasy and old atmosphere.

What I feel is most lost is the feeling of fear. The fear of traps, the fear of the monsters, and the fear that your character could die tonight. I believe this article sums it up best.