Monday, May 28, 2012

Baatezu's Advocate: Problem with Forums and D&D Next

Ah, well, this particular post isn't too bad. I would like people to actually see it though, so a bit of cross promotion is in order.

Problem with Forums and D&D Next

Saturday, May 26, 2012

RPG Thoughts: D&D Next Playtest Stuff

RPG Thoughts; D&D Next Playtest Stuff

As I have mentioned, I got the D&D Next Playtest stuff. Took me awhile to look through and figure out what I needed to so here's what I wanted;

  "Notwithstanding the foregoing, you may publicly discuss your thoughts regarding the D&D Next Playtest Materials and your playtesting experience." 
-From the Playtest Agreement

That's what I needed to hear. That means I get to talk to all of you fine readers about my thoughts on it. Now, make no mistake, I can't stand 4th Edition. I hate it, and I make no bones about it. As I've said, its a fine RPG, but it ain't D&D. D&D Next seems at first glance exactly what they were looking to do, mesh all of the editions into a game that appeals to the majority of players. However, over at the WotC forums, all the 4th Ed players hate it-so I'm liking it for no other reason so far. So let me get a bit more indepth, and these are just my first impressions after reading the materials and just slaughtering my kids in two encounters. I am going to talk about this in depth in a couple different categories.

The Playtest Materials.
1. First off, they were hard to get to. While they were released on Thursday, due to bad servers and demand, I got 404 errors until Friday morning. This seems to have resolved itself, mainly due to demand dying down, but it was a raw deal. When doing an open play test like this, you should expect TONS of demand.
2. The set up. The packet itself was a .zip with a bunch of files in it. Overall it was around 125 pages of material. Me, being, me, I had them printed at Fedex office (AKA Kinkos), though it seems they raised their prices, and it cost me nearly 15 bucks to print it all. I can read rules off the computer screen, but actually running an adventure, I need to have something tangible in front of me. 
3. While it was bare bones, it was neatly presented, and the info was relatively easy to find with a little flipping. While I am not too enthused over the way that some of the info was presented, it wasn't a deal breaker. 
4. B-2! While it is missing the 'Keep' part of 'The Keep on the Borderlands' it is an old school adventure. That's some classic game there. It makes me happy that it came back. It is just the 'Caves of Chaos' it was a nice nod to those of us who have been playing forever. 

The Characters.
1.  The playtest packet only contained the four basic classes (Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, and Cleric). However, they did have two different character builds for clerics. Now, there were NO character creation rules, and all the characters were pre-generated. I suspect that there will be a character creation play test at some later point.
2. The character sheets were good...sort of. There were a lot of places that are still behind the curtain, so to speak, so there were things that weren't properly explained. Just going off what is on the sheet, there were some things (like damage modifiers) that I couldn't fathom how they got to. There seems to be a Base Attack Bonus or To Hit Armor Class Zero in there somewhere, but it wasn't specifically called out, or explained. 
3. While each sheet described how to level each character, there was no choice in the matter. I think this goes back to this is the 'combat' or 'monster' playtest, not the character one.
4. Hit Points are set instead of random. However, you can take a ten minute break and use your hit dice to regain some hit points. Its a nice change, it rather splits the difference between the no self healing of previous editions and the 'healing surges' of 4th.
5. Cantrips and Orisons (Sp?) are now at will spells. That's awesome, except for the fact that magic missile like it existed in 1-3.X is at will. WTF? Seriously a group that spammed wizards would be nigh-unstoppable. Seriously, if you have four wizards, that's 8 damage minimum guaranteed to hit every round with a max of 20. That's hardcore. 

The Rules.
Before Listing things, I want to talk a bit about the rules. There weren't very many of them, and many of them are basically slight variations of the same things that are in every edition. So I wanted to mainly talk about those things that are either A) Entirely New or B) New to Me.
1. Advantage/Disadvantage. This is one of the simplest yet most effective game mechanics I've ever come across. Basically, you roll 2d20, and if you are at an advantage, you take the higher, and if you are at disadvantage, you take the lower. It's simple, its clean, and its easy for everyone to get after about two tries. 
2. Long Rest. If you take a long rest of 8 hours (IE go to sleep), you regain all of your hit points and magic back. Now, this upset some people, but I disagree. While I have not house ruled this, my PCs basically have always practiced this. Go fight, get hurt, return to base, heal. Get up, heal again if necessary, if not at full compliment of spells, take the day off. Get up, go back to fighting with full HP and full magic. This basically takes that extra day or two out of the equation. I have a feeling that many people probably already house-ruled this, OR their PCs were doing the same things mine were. In this edition whenever a PC goes to sleep I'm going to do the Do-do-duedue-DUE from Final Fantasy. There's fluff that basically states that your HP is not actual wounds, but your exhaustion from battle or whatnot, but really it doesn't need to be justified. 
3. Themes and Backgrounds. These I believe are being brought from 4th ed, and I actually kind of like it. Background is nice, its basically an in-game back story that gives you an actually crunch thing. Themes though, I'm slightly wary of. Right now, it seems like a nod to 4th where everyone has a set party role (Defender, Striker, er, other stuff). I'm not a fan of the set party role. Without more character stuff, I'm not sure what this is really going to be like.
4. Simplify by diversification. Ability modifiers are MUCH more important in this game. There's no specific saving throws, its all by ability modifier. Then there is no scaling in the Difficulty Class for saves dependent on level. Then skills are all set at a certain rank. Skill rank+ability modifer+d20 is what you roll, that being said, I don't think that the DCs of skill tests are going to get ridiculously high.
5. No More Hand Holding. There's no sliding scale of appropriate encounters like there was in 3.X and 4. There are monsters, and you will not be able to beat them all. Run away. This is very old school. Each Monster has XP, no indication of what threat level they are. Learn quick.
6. Death Threshold. I really like this change. It went from -10 to Con+level. The stabilization rules are also more streamlined, and include a penalty for not succeeding. The flip side of that is that healing magic ignores those negative hit points, which is kinda dumb given how easy it is to get back up to full HP.

My Issues.
Again, I want to stress this is a playtest, and there's a bunch I'm missing, but I still think I need to talk about this stuff.
1. Armor As Treasure. There's a ton of armor as treasure in this adventure. Especially like platemail (Room 27, 16). In previous editions it was handled one of two ways. In 1st and 2nd it was clearly spelled out that to use heavy armor like that, it had to be made to order. In third edition it was good for a particular body shape (elf, or dwarf). In this case, which is it? The availability of those heavy armors could be a huge difference in the game, especially since it is better armor then what the PCs have to start with.
2. Where's pick pocket? The Rogue has a 'stealth' skill, but that seems more like being sneaky rather then dipping your hand into someone else's coin purse.
3. The kobolds in the module do 1d4+2 damage with a dagger, but in the bestiary they do 1d4-2 damage with a dagger. Which one is the typo?  An argument could be made for either type.
4. Light. The rules for light were simplified down to bright light, shadowy, and dark, the game really does not go into how much of a difference that makes. Shadowy seems to exist as a way to allow Rogues to hide in shadows, but there really aren't any more penalties for it. It says that it makes everything 'lightly obscured' but there is no real definition for what 'lightly obscured' means. Does it mean I can't target something in shadows with magic missile or what? I like only having three light levels, it makes it simpler, but there needs to be some clearer rules for what those light levels mean.
5. Technically, to play this, you MUST sign up for the playtest. This is a pain in my ass. I tried to get my eldest kid signed up to make it all kosher, but to sign up, I would have needed to send in a parental approval thing by snall mail or fax. What? C'mon! Let me sign the damn thing online, especially since I am a member myself! Stupid.

Well, that's all I got so far. I'll probably have more as I go along.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Delayed Gratification.

At long last, I am back. Yet again, real life intervened and I was unable to work on the blog last night. To be honest, though, I've hit a major stumbling block in my work.

The baseline stat block.

Now, the baseline stat block is easy to see here. I'm not sure what the exact GW policy is on posting their stat lines is. I'm going to err on the side of caution for this. However, it does mean that the BASE elf is +1 M, +1 WS, +1 BS, +2 I, and +1 Ld. That's a huge upswing from the human baseline in Mordheim. Going by the upgrade chart for one off games, each High Elf would be a 105 crown model. That's stupid, crazy stupid.

However, I did figure something of a cheat out. I took the 'baseline' of three different henchmen to figure out a easy solution. The three I used were the 'mercenary warrior', 'dwarf clansman', and 'orc boy'. Taking their base  cost from WHFB and compared it to the cost of each henchmen in Mordheim. I figured out a handy dandy little cheat. Its roughly x5 the points cost in WHFB to the cost in Gold Crowns for Mordheim. Which means the standard High Elf model is 55 points, which is a tad more reasonable.

However, that still a huge amount either way, 105 or 55. That's an issue. A huge issue. Even a small warband would be prohibitively expensive. That's before adding costs for things like special skills or enhanced stats for heroes.

There's two solutions to this problem.
1. Reduce the cost, but keep the stat line the same. This could be potentially game breaking. It would make High Elves possibly an over effective warband.
2. Reduce the cost, but reduce some or all of the baseline stats. This is problematic since you might as well play a human or other warband with HE models.

So right now, I'm wrestling on trying to have it both ways. I'm trying to figure it out. Right now, I'm leaning towards giving them the improved iniative and the higher movement, but leaving the rest at comparable to the rest of the warbands. It still bears thinking about. By next week, I should have a probationary view of the stats that I want to use.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Delay: Again

This has not been my month, has it? I'll have something more up tomorrow.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

RPG Thoughts: Online Gaming

RPG Thoughts; Online Gaming

So my work game group has fallen apart. Jim and Po are moving on, and I for one cannot congratulate them enough. I'll miss them, and to be honest, losing my last two vets is a blow. Being left with just Tom and Megan does not make for great gaming. Two people is a very small group, and we don't have anymore days where we are all together, but the bosses aren't. So no more big games like Mordheim (the boss would frown on us putting up a table when the big bosses could see).

I don't really want to lose this group of gamers. I've lost a lot of groups over the years, and I really don't want to lose this one. So I am going to try and start an online D&D game via Skype. It seems like an easy fit. I can sit there and DM, and they can listen and respond. I've done quite a few things with group chat in Skype, and it will be an interesting thing to run a D&D game. It has a built in file send so that I can send quick maps to people for combat.

Ah, combat, that's the interesting thing. I've found lots of online dice rollers, but none that allow others to see your roll. I know that it is possible, since the old WoD chat games had one. That's a minor concern though. If it comes down to it, we can find other ways of doing rolls.

I am looking forward to returning back to my homebrew campaign. I always found it rewarding. I can't wait to introduce some new players to it. This will be an interesting experiment. Have any of you my faithful readers done anything similar?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Homebrew High Elves III

Monday Night Mordheim: Homebrew III- More Pointy Eared Wrong Headedness

So this week I actually got a chance to sit down and read the High Elf Army Book. That was an enlightening read. I've played against HE on several occasions, and I've got some HE models, but I've never actually looked over their fluff or crunch. I learned several things about elves, which I will elaborate on after the page break.

I mainly learned two things reading the HE rulebook. The first and the most important is exactly what Von had said in the comments of last week's MNM blog post. HE fluff does not make working them into Mordheim seem feasible. I found a way, but it will require me to go back and re-work from the ground up my views on how a HE warband (or army for that matter) should work. Not a big deal, and I'll get to that after I address the second thing that I learned.

The second thing I learned is that I HATE ELVES. I actually want to start a blog for all that controversial crap that I really don't want to spew all over this fine blog publication. I want this to be a postive place, even though I've not done that in the past. Oh, wait, I've so done that.

Now, getting to the meat of the matter. I looked at HE as the way that I always pictured them being played against me, a bunch of archers, bolt throwers, and a few wizards. That's the feel I wanted to capture with a HE warband. I realize now reading their army book, that's the wrong way to go about it. The thing is that there are already some nice distance warbands in the game (Reikland and Dwarves spring to mind). So to focus exclusively on the ability of the Elves as archers does a diservice to both the HE and the other ranged warbands already in the game.

So the main issue I ran into is that the main idea of HE is that they are a group of homeland militia fighters, and not very expansionist. So a group of them hanging out in Mordheim trying to deal with other warbands is not a very likely. However, there was a piece of fluff that I am absolutely amazed that no one else has hit on before. Especially since it has to do with the name of one of the most important special units in the HE range. So let me work this out while I talk at you.

The Loremasters of Hoeth Warband.

The Loremasters are elven wizards who are in search of knowledge to combat chaos. That's promising, and it is a great combination with the Swordmasters of Hoeth as a unit. It ties together nicely. Instead of focusing on Archery, the warband will focus on Magic. So it is going to be a bit different then I intended it, but it will allow for a different type of play style then I had originally thought about, while still being very thematic for HE. This will require a different type of warband then I had originally envisioned, but having read the book, I think I am in a better position to go forward.

There are a number of things that having read the rule book that I realize that I will need, and as always, I have a numbered list of stuff to do.
1. Re-do the Heroes and Henchmen, they are now not what I think a Loremaster warband should be.
2. Elven Universal Rules. This is should be a pretty easy one, since it is what all elves should have.
3. Campaign Skills. While just choosing from the skills available is a good start, I think that adding a possible Elven skill list will help define the warband from others. This would also include the High Magic list as well.
4. Write some Fluff. Er. I'm not a fan of doing that sort of thing, but I can do it. I have done it in the past, and I can do it again in the future. I'll do it for this project.

So let's get to work. I'm thinking that I'm going to do a bit of preliminary work first, and then work out the fine details next time.

1. Heroes and Henchmen
Now the first thing is to re-do the heroes and henchmen. Now what I wanted is not really working out, but I think that I have a better idea. However, I am going to keep the maximum warband size at 12.
1;Loremaster of Hoeth; a captain with access to hedge magic and the soon to be written High Magic list.
0-1; Apprentice of Hoeth: Like a youngblood, but access to EITHER hedge magic or high magic list.
0-2: Journeymen of Hoeth: Like the actual Swordmaster of Hoeth, but slightly brought down, and give them strongman skill.
Elven Archers: No brainer. Elf=Bow. Done.
Elven Youth: I'm sorry, but reading the fluff, the stupid spearmen are expensive as heck, and surprisingily, the BETTER more experienced dudes then the archers. WTF? It's a bit like the 40K tactical marines, they are supposed to be the vets, whereas every other unit is newbs. I don't like that.
Great Eagle: I love warbands with a great big thing that is tough. I think that it makes for a characterful unit and a great warband center-piece. I also like including one since it will behave so differently from anything else on the table top.

2. Elven Universal Rules
Now, according to the HE book, the Elves have two general special rules and I think that both of them will do with a tiny bit of modification.

Speed Of Asurman; Normally it means that Elves ALWAYS go first. To be honest, this is a bit over the top for Mordheim. With their high iniative, elves will almost always go first regardless. However, I think that a good modification to this is that elves always go first in the event of a tie of iniative, otherwise they behave normally in all respects to turn order. I'll think about it and come up with a good fluffy reason for this, but so far so good on the crunch side of it.

Valour of Ages: This normally gives a HE army a re-roll for any type of psychology roll against Dark Elves. However, there are not really a Dark Elf warband in Mordheim (there is one, but I personally find it broken), so this rule is rarely if ever going to come into play. I'm thinking of modifying it to be that any HE model can re-roll 'all alone' tests, but the second result still stands. Yes, it does mean that they will rarely run away from being alone, but to be honest, I rarely see 'all alone' tests being made anyway.

I was thinking of some other additional rules. I probably won't use all of them, or perhaps any of them, but I would like to hear some thoughts on them.
Cut Off From Civilization: During exploration and purchases, the Loremasters of Hoeth warband is considered one category larger then they normally would be to represent the difficulty that they have getting supplies that would they would deem suitable.
Sharp Eyes: They can always re-roll one die during the exploration phase.
We want the Crown!: Cannot hire dwarven hired swords or ally with dwarven warbands during Chaos on the Streets matches.

3. Campaign Skills.
This is a bit difficult, since I've been thinking about it the least. So this is the most bare bones thing that I have.
Loremaster of Hoeth: All skill Lists.
Aprentice of Hoeth: Academic, Speed.
Journeymen of Hoeth: Combat, Academic, Speed.

High Elf Magic: Still working, though I know that one of the spells will be a 'anti-magic' spell. I am also trying to work out some more stuff for this. I am basically going to re-work those that are appclible from the HE army book and perhaps the 40K lores to work appropriately.

4. Write Fluff.
Blah, Elf-shite, elf-shite, elf-shite. What's this fish? Mordheim, eh? Blah, blah, elf-shite. I stepped on an apple.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Delayed With Cause- Homebrew II

Welcome back to my series on homebrew. I got delayed a day, Eldest Child had a paper due for school, so the internet ready computer was being used to email homework to avoid missing deadlines. So my deadline gets pushed back. So here's part two, with some more thinking.

As I had stated earlier, I really wanted to make a High Elf warband that was really characterful. Now, I was unable to obtain a copy of the HE army book. Which is unfortunate, since I wanted to do some really characterful special rules, much like the Dwarf Treasure Hunters warband. The first thing I did was some research on the relative different stat lines of all the warbands. 

Now, I would love to put my research on my blog, however, I'm not to sure what the exact GW rules on it would be. All it is each warrior's stat line and cost in gold crowns. It's information that is freely available for download from their website, so you can do the research yourself. I found some interesting things about the stat lines from that I would not have noticed. One thing that was almost near univerisal is that the 'leaders' of the warbands were not exactly created equal. Sure, the Vampire is a god-awful killing machine, but it was more surprising to me that the Skaven Assassin Adept was as cheap as the Mercanary Captain, or the Witch Hunter Captain, but with MUCH better stats and special abilities. This research has made me realize that I'm going to have to do some heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out what the cost of each model will be.

The easier part was deciding what to have as the Heroes and Henchmen. I did some preliminary work on the Heroes, and now I've thought about the Henchmen as well. 


1. High Elf Captain
2. High Elf Mage: Now, I'm going to cheat a bit with this one. It's basically going to be the hired sword with the same spell list (since HE get the same lores), but with the stat line of the elf.
3. Sword Master of Hoeth; Now, this will be the standard stat line from the regular elf, but with the Strong Man skill. Normally a Sword Master has two attacks, but it is a bit over the top for a starter in Mordheim.
4. Shadow Warrior: Again, quick cheat, the same hired sword

1. Elf Warrior: Standard Stat line for Elf, and basically acting like the warrior, zealot, or brethren from other warbands. Cheaper and plentiful compared to the rest. 
2. Elf Archer: Standard Elf statline, but really replacing the marksmen of other warbands.
3. Great Eagle: Yeah, I went there. I love the idea of monsters in warbands. I think this is a good fit, because most other warbands have a rare choice from the army book as a henchmen. Skaven have Rat Ogres, Orcs and Goblins have the Troll, Witchhunters have Flagellants (er, special, but STILL). The Great Eagle is on pair to Ogres, Rat Ogres, Vampire, and Trolls. I'll have a few rules about flying, not entering buildings, and not gaining experience. 

That's all I got so far. Next week, I'll be posting a bit more. Hopefully, I'll get my hands on the HE armybook so that I can work on more special rules along with the base experience and skill sets.