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Topics - Dacke

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Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / A challenge!
« on: August 12, 2006, 12:35:18 PM »
Tonight at 9 pm Eastern Time, WOTC are having a trivia contest on their chat site, and I'm eligible to play again after winning back in May.

Anyways, the last few times have been almost embarrassing, with most of the other contestants not quite understanding the meaning of the word "trivia" and seeming surprised when there are questions that require knowledge of books other than the PHB. Back in the day, there were people around who could give me a run for my money, but not in the last few years.

So, I am challenging my fellow geeks to come to and try to beat me. You will need a screen name (although if you already have one from the boards that works, as long as it's IRC-kosher - no spaces, for example), and getting one might take a short while, so I'd recommend getting one in advance.

Well, there are quite a few, but this one in particular occured to me.

In fiction, the heroic warriors are often able to fight off the vile sorcerer's hypnotic magic through force of will, but one thing that can easily lay them low is "cheating", such as using poison.

But in D&D, that is reversed. A 10th level fighter has a Fort save of +12 or more (counting a high Con and a cloak of resistance), but probably a Will save of like +5 (average Wis, the same cloak). So he laughs at most poisons, but will almost certainly fall prey to mind-affecting magic (an equal-level caster will have a DC of 20+ on his highest-level spells).

Now, I see why this is done from a gamist standpoint (the fighter is the one that has to get into melee with things like giant spiders, and thus needs the Fort save), but it still irks me.

Complete Arcane has a feat called Collegiate Wizard hidden away in a sidebar on page 181 (not the main feat chapter).

Collegiate Wizard [General]
You have undergone extensive training in a formal school for wizards.
Prerequisites: Int 13, Wizard level 1.
Benefits: You start with 6+IntMod 1st level spells, and get 4 free spells per level. In addition, you gain a +2 bonus on all Knowledge (Arcana) checks.
Special: You can only take this feat at 1st level.

Now, this feat has all the traits of a regional feat from Player's Guide to Faerûn: it defines the character's background, it can only be taken at 1st level, it's a bit above the power curve, and it should not be available in all places. So when I start Red Hand of Doom in FR (which will likely be with the people I occasionally visit and play with in another town), I was planning to make this available as a regional feat. As a nice side-effect, it will alleviate the problem wizards would have in that campaign (it's rather rushed, so they would have problems finding the time to scribe new spells).

So, what regions would be appropriate for this feat? In other words, what places in FR have institutions for wizardry that goes beyond the normal master/apprentice situation? The ones that immediately come to mind are, I think: Halruaa, Silverymoon, and Thay. Any others? Any non-human regions that would be appropriate (likely elven ones)?

Help Desk / What's up with the smilies?
« on: May 30, 2006, 08:58:09 AM »
Is one of the Nutkins fucking around with the graphics or something? Currently the "heh" smiley has a small picture of Bender, and the frowney has some sort of comic soldier guy. Some of the other graphics seem to be changing too, like the acorn on top of each post sometimes changing to a big picture of a pair of dice.

Edit: Added a picture of this post with the wacko dice.

My PCs have a portable hole on loan from house Jorasco (they're supposed to use it to move a heavy item from a location in the Mournlands). Some of them also have Bags of Holding/Heward's Handy Haversacks. When they got the Hole, they were warned not to mix it with bags of holding.

One of the traits of the Mournlands is that most forms of healing don't work there. Goodberries do, and warforged can be repaired, but natural healing and Cure spells don't. I kind of hinted to one player that there is a loophole around this, and one of his suggestions (I didn't confirm any of them) was to hop into the portable hole, which opens up to another dimension, and do the healing there. This does work, but I would not be surprised if one of the PCs that have a bag of holding wants to hop in, and will forget either that they're carrying one, or the dangers of it (since the warning was last session).

So, I'm considering giving the players a Wis check just as the player is about to go in, but I'm not sure what the DC should be. I'm currently leaning toward 15 for the player who's jumping in and 20 for everyone else (the guy who's jumping in gets it easier because he's presumably more aware of carrying a bag, and would probably have noted the warning), but I'm willing to be persuaded about other DCs.

Two weeks ago, I bought Exalted 2nd ed. I figured I'd share some of my thoughts on it. This isn't a full-fledged review by any means, just some stuff that's popped into my mind.

Good stuff:
  • Some skill rearrangement. Brawl has been folded into Martial Arts, and Endurance into Resistance. This has left room for War (used for mass combat, where it acts as a cap on other skills used) and Integrity (resistance to mental influence).
  • The Craft skill has been more codified. All mundane crafts are divided into five categories: Air (delicate stuff), Earth (creating big stone stuff), Fire (forging large things, doing things that deal with fire), Water (stuff that requires cooking or chemicals), and Wood (natural materials). There are also references to more obscure Crafts, like Magitech, Necrosurgery, and the like.
  • Artifact can be taken multiple times to get multiple artifacts, instead of splitting your existing Artifact background. This makes it possible to start out with more than five dots worth of artifacts.
  • The difference between a penalty that reduces your dice pool and one that reduces your actual successes is clarified. The former is stuff that reduces your ability to act, with the latter is stuff that makes things harder. They have also included the rule from the Player's Guide that says that barring wound and multiple action penalties, Exalts never roll less than their Essence in dice.
  • Abbreviated rules for mortal thaumaturgy are included.
  • You don't roll defense anymore or use actions on it. Instead, you have a static defense value (well, two actually: Dodge and Parry) which are both equal to half what the pools would be in the old rules. Performing various actions reduce your defense, as does getting attacked multiple times, but no longer will you declare three parries only to have your opponent declare four attacks, leaving you defenseless against the last one.
  • Hardness (ignore attacks that do less than X damage before soak) is now part of the core rules.
  • Mass combat rules are included in the core rules rather than being relegated to a late supplemental book. I haven't read through the rules, but they seem to be pretty much the same as in the Player's Guide. That means that the armies pretty much function as extensions of their commanders - as someone put it, "two generals beating each other up with armies instead of swords." But that fits pretty well with the individual-centric world-view of Exalted.
  • All skills now have three "do stuff better" charms, called Excellencies. There's a dice-adder, a success-adder, and a reroll enabler (called First, Second, and Third excellency). Stuff has also been cleaned up, and many charms have various keywords added to clarify what they can and can't do. Finally, the charm trees have gotten an additional bit of layout: dots showing prerequisites (both regarding skill and essence). Some charms have moved around a bit, especially those related to the two new skills (for example, War stole the "troop-training" charms from Performance, and Integrity got the "Wyld-resisting" charms from Lore).
  • There are two martial arts presented: Solar Hero, and Snake. Solar Hero basically consists of the old Brawl charms, with a Form charm added. It is denoted as being "natural" to Solars, meaning that they don't need any more training for it than they need for other charms, unlike most martial arts where you need instruction.
  • Combos have been cleaned up. Instead of arcane rules on what can and can't go into a combo, the rule is simply that charms with the keywords "Combo-OK" and "Combo-Basic" can be included (the latter only with Reflexive charms).
  • The storytelling chapter is expanded, and includes some guidelines for more experienced Exalts (like how much experience you get per year), and for including new characters.
  • The Antagonists chapter again benefits from having the previous edition to pick from, in addition to having things more defined. There's a lot more detail on gods, elementals, and demons. The ones that benefit the most from this added detail are, of course, the other types of Exalts.
  • The Panoply (equipment) chapter includes detail on what sort of money is around, in addition to comparing things to Resources values. Weapons, armor, and artifacts are illustrated, making it easier to understand the differences between the various swords, and figuring out what the heck a "buff jacket" is.
Bad stuff:
  • I'm not very fond of the new combat system. Instead of having rounds where everyone gets their action/actions, you now have a system of "ticks", where each action takes a number of these ticks. So you perform your action, wait a couple of ticks, and then take your next action. You can perform multiple actions in one if you want: this is called a flurry, uses the same multiaction penalty as in the old rules, and takes as much time as the longest of the included actions. To me, this smacks of micromanagement of a sort that does not belong in Exalted - the old, more flexible, rounds fit better with the kind of action I expect, especially stunts and the like.
  • A related issue is that weapons have two stats that are redundant. Speed measures how many ticks attacking with the weapon takes, and Rate determines how many times you can use the weapon in a flurry. In other words, one determines how often you attack, and the other determines how often you attack. I prefer the division from the Player's Guide, where Speed is an initiative modifier and Rate limits the number of attacks per round. Of course, the initiative modifier thing doesn't really work with the new ticks system.
  • They have included a system for Social combat, which is pretty similar to the system for normal combat. However, the system lacks the tactical depth of physical combat, since all you have to do is "hit" the opponent to get him to either do what you want, or spend a Willpower. Once two Willpower points have been spent on ignoring persuasion in a scene, you are immune to further attacks. In physical combat, there are multiple ways of attacking (different weapons, etc), but social combat has no such options. Furthermore, there's no difference between a social attack with 15 successes, and one with 2. In all, a nice idea but not carried through very well. In fairness, it should be noted that it seems many charms use the framework of social combat, which might make it more worthwhile.
That's pretty much my thoughts so far. I think the good points outweigh the bad points. There are certainly more of them, but the bad points are pretty important things (especially the combat stuff).

Help Desk / What's up with NTL?
« on: May 10, 2006, 11:33:58 PM »
Since this is NTL's companion site, I figured this would be the place to ask. As of 05.30 am, CET (which would be 11.30 pm, EDT), all I get from any NTL/SO-related URL is the "There's Nothing down there - April 2006" image that was there before it changed name to Nothingland. Perhaps Pooka or one of the Nutkins knows what's up with that?

Help Desk / Request: Time zone
« on: May 10, 2006, 03:15:46 PM »
At the top of each page, there is a system notice: "Boards will go down at 7 PM today for backup and a minor upgrade".

Given the international nature of the board (and heck, there are plenty of time zones just in the US), it would be neat if announcements like that were coupled with the time zone used. It's clearly not the time zone I'm in, since it's already past 9 pm here.

At work today, I started thinking about the pricing of spell-based magic items (notably scrolls, potions, and wands, but also many items in other categories). In an earlier thread, I complained about the low price of wands of cure light wounds, especially compared to more high-powered wands (a wand of CLW costs about 2.7 gp per hp healed, while a wand of CMW costs 7.5 gp per hp and a wand of CSW costs 12.2 gp per hp).

Anyway, I started thinking about the price of "spell" items compared to "bonus" items. Spell items are normally priced as Spell level * Caster level * constant, while bonus items are priced as bonus^2 * constant. Since most items are made at minimum caster level by primary spellcasters (wizards, clerics, or druids), CL is equal to 2*SL-1. This in turn means that spell items cost (2*SL^2 - SL) * constant. For spells of a 2nd or higher level, that's between 1.5 and 1.9 times the factor for a normal bonus item.

What I am considering is to make spell items with the "standard" casting level cost (spell level)^2 * constant. This would lead to the following item costs:
Code: [Select]
[b]Level  L^2  scroll  potion     wand   use-activated[/b]
1        1      25      50      750           2 000    
2        4     100     200    3 000           8 000    
3        9     225     450    6 750          18 000    
4       16     400     800   12 000          32 000    
5       25     625   1 250   18 750          50 000    
6       36     900   1 800   27 000          72 000    
7       49   1 225   2 450   36 750          98 000    
8       64   1 600   3 200   48 000         128 000    
9       81   2 025   4 050   60 750         162 000

Items made with non-standard caster levels would have costs in proportion to their base costs (e.g. a CL 8 wand of fireball would cost 8/5 times as much as the base version, or 1.6*6,750 = 10,800).

So, anyone got an opinion on this?

Help Desk / Pistols at Dawn error
« on: April 22, 2006, 03:04:55 PM »
It appears that the Pistols at Dawn thread got broken somehow. I don't mean the participants, I mean on the technical side. It ends in mid-post 34, with "vbmenu_register("postmenu_12483", true);".

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Am I too evil?
« on: April 17, 2006, 02:39:10 PM »
I'm considering tossing this at my players (5 PCs, 2 8th and 3 7th level) in tomorrow's game:

 Nesirosidus (CR 9)
  Race Mindflayer
  Class/Lvl Monk 1
  Alignment Lawful Evil
  Size/Type Medium Aberration (8 HD)
  Init +6
  Senses Listen +16, Spot +16; Darkvision 60 ft
  Languages Telepathy 100 ft, Undercommon, Common, Aquan, Daelkyr, Dwarf, Goblin
    AC 28 (touch 17, flatfooted 26) [20 (T17/F18) without inertial armor] [20% concealment with concealing amorpha]
  hp 49 (94 with vigor)
  Resist/SR SR 26
  Saves Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +13
    Speed 30 ft
  Melee 4 tentacles +10 melee (1d4+4 plus grab) AND Unarmed strike +5 (1d6+3)
  Space/reach 5 ft/5 ft
  BAB +6; Grapple +13 [+21 with grip of iron]
  Attack Opt. Improved Grab (tentacles)
  Spec Actions Extract
  Combat gear potion of cure serious wounds
  Psionics Manifester level 9   5th- psionic plane shift, psychic crush (45 ft, Will 17 or go to –1 hp, 3d6 on success)
4th- psionic dimension door (760 ft), psionic divination (10 min manifest time, 79% correct), psionic dominate (190 ft, Will 20 neg, Conc., 1 h for +1 PP, 1 day for +2 PP, other types for PP, augment increases save), schism (9 rounds, extra action with manifester level 3)
3rd- body adjustment (heal 1d12 damage, +d12/2 PP) dispel psionics (190 ft, dispel check +9), hostile empathic transfer (+10 touch, transfer 25 points damage, Will 19 half, +5 damage/PP)
2nd- concealing amorpha (9 min, 20% concealment), ego whip (190 ft, 1d4 Cha damage + 1 round daze, Will 18 half + negate daze, +1d4 and +2 DC/2 PP), forced sense link (190 ft, Will 18 neg, +2 PP reverse, +4 PP second sense), psionic suggestion (45 ft, 9h, Will 18 neg, +1 target/2 PP), read thoughts (60 ft cone, Will 18 neg)
1st- crystal shard (45 ft, +8 ranged touch, 1d6 piercing, +1d6/PP, no SR), detect psionics (60 ft cone, conc.), grip of iron (imm., 9 rds, +4 grapple +2/4 PP), inertial armor (9h, +4 armor, +1/2 PP), psionic charm (45 ft, 9h, Will 17 neg, augment save +various) vigor (9 min, +5 hp, +5/PP)
PP/day 99 (9 spent on inertial armor)
  Psi-like at will - mind blast (60 ft cone, stun 3d4 rounds, Will DC 20 negates)
Str 16(+3) Dex 14(+2) Con 12(+1) Int 23(+6) Wis 21(+5) Cha 19(+4)
  SQ Darkvision 60 ft
Feats Ability Focus (Mind Blast), Combat manifestation, Expanded Knowledge (Grip of Iron), Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike
  Skills Bluff +12, Concentration +11 (+15 manifesting defensively), Disguise +4 (+6 acting), Hide +10, Knowledge (psionics) +13, Listen +16, Move Silently +10, Sense Motive +14, Spot +16, Tumble +11, Use Psionic Device +8
  Possessions bracers of mighty fists +1, headband of intellect +2
Mind Blast (Ps): This psionic attack is a cone 60 feet long. Anyone caught in this cone must make a Will save (DC 20) or be stunned for 3d4 rounds. The save is Cha-based and includes a +2 bonus for Nesirosidus’ Ability Focus feat.
Improved Grab (Ex): Against Small-Large opponents, must hit with a tentacle to start the grapple. If Nesirosidus begins its turn with at least one tentacle attached, it can try to attach its remaining tentacles with a single grapple check. The opponent can escape with a single successful grapple check or Escape Artist check, but the mind flayer gets +2 for each tentacle that was attached at the beginning of the opponent’s turn.
  Extract (Ex): A mind flayer that beins its turn with all four tentacles attached and that makes a successful grapple check automatically extracts the opponent’s brain, instantly killing that creature (with certain exceptions).

Comments? I just love the idea of a mind flayer monk, in order to boost their coolest attack (brain-eating) a bit - and then a bit more with grip of iron.

Help Desk / A feature request (big pictures)
« on: April 13, 2006, 11:27:13 AM »
I don't know if this is a feature that can be turned on and off in VBulletin, but I figured I'd ask anyway.

Back on NTL, each post in a thread was apparently treated as its own table. Here, like on ENWorld, the whole thread is just one table (well, the part of it that shows on one page anyway). This means that when someone posts a big picture, like [thread=846]here[/thread], it makes ALL the posts in the thread too big for the screen, and not just the post where the picture was posted. If each post was treated as a separate table, this would not be a problem.

So, is this something that could be done here?

I was thinking... the DMG goes into some detail on the easy way to write an adventure, as based on the whole CR/EL thing: four encounters in a row, each with an EL of the party's average level, more or less. Since each "appropriate" encounter is supposed to drain 20-25% of the party's short-term resources (mostly hp and spells), four encounters should pretty much exhaust the party, making the fourth pretty risky. However, there is one item that makes this whole setup into a big sham:

The lowly wand of cure light wounds.

This item costs a mere 750 gp, for 50 charges of 1d8+1 healing. That comes out to between 2 and 3 gp per hp healed - call it 3 gp on account of some "overkill" (and that term feels VERY inappropriate when talking about healing). Its existence means that the party starts every encounter in top condition, at least as far as hp are concerned. It makes most traps pointless, unless they deal enough damage to outright kill those affected or have some other, non-hp related effect (e.g. poison). The same pretty much goes for monsters, except they usually stick around for a few rounds so they have more time to deal lethal (or at least dangerous) damage.

The wand also affects class balance a bit. Clerics and druids get a little boost through its existence (since it means they can use their spells for other things than healing), but the big winners are the fighting classes, especially the plain fighter. The main resource the fighter expends in an encounter are his hit points, and the wand easily replenishes those. Other fighting classes tend to have some X/day abilities (Rage for barbarians, Smite evil for paladins, um... nothing I can think of for rangers other than spells), but hp are a pretty big thing with them too. The ones who gain the least from the wand are arcane casters, since the main resource they expend in an encounter are their spells and the wand doesn't help there.

I'm not sure what, if anything, to do to the wand. I don't have any problems with the spell itself, or with potions/scrolls of it (since you don't tend to carry around fifty of those in a convenient light-weight package that you get for a big discount). I don't have much of a problem with other wands either, mainly because wands tend to suck for most other 1st-level spells you want to cast a lot of (because of low DC, damage, and/or other level-based effects), and as soon as you leave 1st-level wand territory
prices go up pretty steeply (a 2nd-level wand costs six times that of a 1st-level wand). I think it's a combination of the general lack of time sensitivity of Cure Light Wounds (by the time the fight is over, you can generally take a minute or two to heal people up) and the fact that it doesn't rely much on caster level or save DC. I don't want to add a surcharge to that one wand in an arbitrary fashion, and I don't feel like adding a focus to the spell (which would increase the wand cost in a non-arbitrary fashion) because that would increase the cost of scrolls and potions as well.

Whatever, if anything, I end up doing probably won't be done in the course of the campaign I'm currently running. I don't like changing rules mid-stream, especially rules as game-affecting as this. But I think something should probably be done before I start up another campaign, but I just can't think of what.

In my Eberron campaign, the PCs accidentally released a daelkyr and are now trying to put it back. Doing so will involve travelling to various parts of Khorvaire (and possibly beyond) to reassemble the pieces of the artifact use to trap the daelkyr in the first place. They got one piece in a previous adventure (a lens that on its own can be used to see invisible and to focus magic to do more damage to aberrations), and in the latest adventure they found a book that explains what the other pieces are and how to put them together.

However, I have little idea about what exactly those pieces should be. I figure they should involve something made from byeshk (anti-aberration material like cold iron is anti-fey material), and definitely a pretty big khyber shard in which to trap the daelkyr (this one would be a new part rather than finding an old one), but I'm sort of stumped on figuring the others out. So now I turn to you guys in hope of getting me some inspiration.

I'd like there to be at least four other parts, which would make one for each of the others of the five nations (the group is based in Sharn, so I consider the lens the Breland shard - though if I get many ideas, I might go beyond the original concept). I also figure that the Cyre shard should be the last one to get, since the Mournlands is a pretty damn dangerous place to be. Don't feel too constrained about the one per nation thing, I don't mind branching out into other parts of Khorvaire as well (given that most of the other nations came about as splits from the Five, you could easily put the "Karrnath" piece in the Talenta plains or something like that).

So, after seeing all my encounters devolve into "guy with guisarme trips opponent, all other PCs dogpile the guy and kill him with AoOs when he tries to get up," I'm getting kind of tired of the AoO for standing up from prone that was added in 3.5. So I'm considering removing that, returning a small part of 3.0 to my game.

The way I see it, even without the AoO tripping someone is a pretty OK proposition:
  • Your other attacks for the rest of the round get a +4 bonus.
  • Your allies who go between you and your opponent also get that +4 bonus.
  • Your opponent can't make a full attack next round, because he has to spend a move action getting up.
  • If you have Improved Trip, you don't even really waste an attack doing it, since you get a free attack if you succeed (at +4!).
Adding AoOs on top of all those advantages changes trip from a decent option to a super one, at least against creatures likely to be susceptible to a trip (e.g it will be hard against huge quadruped creatures...).

So, anyone like to try to talk me out of it?

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