P1NBACK's page

430 posts (432 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.

Hello all,

I'm looking for a PbP game (preferably set in Eberron and using 4th Edition rules, but I'll play anything).


I'm running a 4E sandbox game soon and I'm trying to build some random encounter tables. This is my first sandbox style game, I usually run plot driven games, so I'm a little new to random encounters.

Specifically, this is going to be a wilderness exploration campaign. I'll have a variety of regions of varying difficulty (level) and I want random encounter tables for each area.

I've got down the basic jist of how to build the encounter table, what I'm struggling with is the "probability" of an encounter actually happening. Do I base it on time? Distance traveled? Other factors?

How do I determine that an encounter even takes place? When do I roll for the encounter table? Etc...

Any help/advice would be great.

And, any general advice on random encounters is also appreciated.


We're looking for additional players for a 4E West Marches style campaign. Please email me: michael dot p dot pfaff at gmail dot com.


Hi all, I'm very interested in participating in a PbP 4E game. I DM a game in real life and haven't really had a chance to play 4th Edition.

I'm open to any type of campaign using the 4E D&D rules set.


Hey everyone, I was playing my first 4th Edition session for our new campaign last night and I wanted to use a monster from one of the D&Di articles. I couldn't find the damn thing! I tried using the online compendium and it turns out monsters aren't on there yet (or ever??).

So, today I developed an index for all (I think...) of the Monsters that have been released via the Dungeon and Dragon online magazines.

Check it out here: D&Di Monstrous Compendium

In addition, if anyone notices any errors, or monsters I missed, lemme know!

Is the Compendium supposed to start collecting monsters released via Dungeon and Dragon magazine? I ask because it took me forever to sort through all of the Dungeon and Dragon articles I have to find the "Arcane Ballista" monster I wanted to use for my next adventure.

The compendium would have been nice to just search through and find it...

Anyone find an editable .pdf character sheet for 4th Edition? I'm thinking something similar to the 3.5 Eberron Singing Sheet - but doesn't have to auto-calculate anything.


Hi, I'm a super reliable poster who has lots of experience with table top RPGs. I DM two D&D campaigns (3.x and 4E) in real life and I'm looking to play a little while I'm at work and on the weekends during off time.

I love Eberron and I'm very familiar with it - although I'd be willing to play in just about any campaign setting including homebrew goodness.

I'm not a powergamer, but I'm proficient with making my character worthwhile. I'll play any sort of character.

I'm willing to play any system 3.5, PFRPG, 4th Edition, etc...

You can email me - michael.p.pfaff@gmail.com if you would like to communicate further.


If my Paladin is using a Falchion (+3, 2d4, High Crit) and he has a Charisma 17 (+3).

He wants to use Shielding Smite, which has an attack of Charisma vs. AC but also states it is a Standard Action Melee Weapon.

To calculate that, would I use 1/2 my level, +3 (for Charisma Mod) + 3 for Falchion (since I am using a weapon for the attack)?

I'm just trying to clarify, even if you use an ability other than Strength to make a melee attack, you still add the weapon modifier and relevant ability modifier it says? Correct?


Why do people keep saying these alignments are gone? They aren't. They are just re-labeled now.

Lawful Evil is just Evil, and Chaotic Good is just Good.

Read the definitions:

Good: Freedom.
Evil: Tyranny.

Sounds like the old 3.x Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil to me. If anything, the alignments missing are Neutral Good and Neutral Evil. Basically, neutral all around has been removed and in its place - Unaligned.

I think this is an improvement as Law and Chaos has always been an important part of D&D.

Could it be that 4E's minion system could be the best way of doing PCs in the midst of a HUGE battle? - A la William Wallace wading through a sea of English hacking each one with a single blow?

If there's one thing I learned in the Army, it's the difference between cover and concealment. A wall of sandbags conceals you from view and protects you from things like bullets. Thick foliage conceals you from view, but it won't do a damned thing to protect you from bullets.

In the real world, cover grants concealment, but concealment doesn't necessarily grant cover.

So, my question is this, in 4th Edition, does cover grant concealment as well? If I am behind the corner of a wall, do I not have cover AND concealment? Would attackers get a -4 (-2 from cover and -2 from concealment) to hit me?

If this is the case, I've come up with the following table to determine the exact penalty it is to attack you if you are behind Cover (w/ concealment) or simply Concealment.


-2 to attack Concealed
-4 to attack Concealed by Cover
-5 to attack Totally Concealed
-7 to attack Concealed by Superior Cover
-10 to attack Totally Concealed by Superior Cover

Concealed – Hiding in some brush, heavy snow/rain. Or, hiding behind heavy foliage, heavy fog, or invisible adjacent to you.
Concealed by Cover – Hiding behind a corner, an embankment, or tree.
Totally Concealed – Invisible, hiding behind heavy foliage, or in heavy fog not adjacent.
Concealed by Superior Cover - Generally when you are adjacent to the target behind a window, grate or arrow slit.
Totally Concealed by Superior Cover – Hiding behind a window, grate, or arrow slit.

Is this unreasonable?


Has anyone found a way to Mount a horse faster than a Standard Action - ala Quick Mount via a Ride check in 3rd Edition?



Chatty's Review: D&D 4e's Keep on the Shadowfell

As mentioned this morning, I was able to read a copy of D&D's 1st 4e adventure, Keep on the Shadowfell, thanks to ZeStuff.

Now it's time for the review! Hurrah!

I'll take the spoiler-free approach (though I may slip a bit in places) as I guess that a lot of readers will want to play it in the upcomming weeks.

Let's dive in shall we?

Physical Characteristics

The product is made of 2 non-glossy magazine-paper booklets: A 16 page 4th Edition quick-start rules booklet with pre-generated characters and an 80-page one containing DM-rules and the adventure itself.

The adventure also comes with 3 large size, double-sided full-color battlemaps.

Except for two of them, the Battlemaps are actual reprints of some of D&D Fantastic Adventure Locations:

The King's Road
The Dragon Graveyard
The Dungeon of Blood
The Forest Cliff Lair
All without the D&D miniature-specific info like Start and Victory Areas. The remaining two are a Graveyard and another Dungeon/Temple map.

I don't really mind getting duplicate maps, but it would have been nice to have all different ones portraying the encounter areas so that a DM could increase his collection.

The booklets have nice covers and the interior is black type on white paper, separated by decorated section titles.

One word of warning, and my main beef with the product, the booklets are very fragile (paper is easily damaged) and the ink smudges very very easily. I've been handling this one for a few hours and pages are already covered with enough fingerprints to incriminate me without actually having to call the local CSI.

Since the booklets do not have a back cover, the smudges on the white background are becoming bad enough to make it harder to read. I heartily suggest that find a way to protect this product.

All of this is packaged in a sleek, light cardboard portfolio. The booklets and maps slip neatly in each side of the folded package.

Quick Start rules booklet

The booklet starts with a 1/2 page intro to D&D and roleplaying in general, marking this product as an entry level product. However, I don't actually think a complete neophyte DM could run this without the 4e core books.

Then there are 4 1/2 pages of the basic rules of the game.

This covers:

The d20 roll mechanic
Skill checks
Attack rolls
Encounters (Combat vs Non-combat)
Actions (Standard, Move, Minor, Opportunity, Immediate)
Turn sequence (Very much like Magic the Gathering, I'll post on this soon)
Attacks and Damage
Critical Hits (Full damage)
Other Actions: Charge, Second Wind (i.e. use healing Surges to regain 1/4 HP), Powers
Move actions & Forced Movements (Pull, Push, Slide)
Occupied Squares
Difficult Terrain &Obstacles
Action Points
Hit Points, Healing and Dying
Right up front, the authors tell us that D&D 4e rules are exception-based. This means we have a few Core rules and a ton of exceptions built into powers, options, magic and so on (very much like the game rules of Magic the Gathering).

From these very summarized rules, the biggest changes that jump out at me from 3.x are Healing and Dying.


All characters have a certain number of healing surges that they can spend in a day. The most basic way of spending a surge is by spending a standard action, that gives you 1/4 of your max HP back (once per encounter I believe).

Some examples of exceptions to this basic rule:

The cleric's Healing Word ability allows an ally (or the cleric) to spend a surge without using an action.
The Paladin's Lay on Hands ability allows a character to be healed while using one of the Pally's Surges.
Bloodied and Death:

At 1/2 HP, a character becomes bloodied. This has no effect in itself but a lot of powers are triggered when a character or a target is bloodied.

At 0 or less (up to -1/2 HP) a character is dying and falls unconscious. The player must make a saving throw (i.e. roll 10 or more) every turn. Success has no effect. However, should a third save fail before the character is stabilized, he/she dies.

At -1/2 HP you're dead, regardless of saves.

I really like this because death is somewhat predictable, takes long enough to give the party tactical flexibility while still creating a dramatic '3 strikes you're out' tension.

The rest of the booklet presents five characters sheets that you can photocopy and play with. Just add a name and a gender and you're good to go. The characters even have leveling up instructions until level 3.

The characters are:

Dwarf Fighter
Halfing Rogue
Human Wizard
1/2 Elf Cleric of Bahamut
Dragonborn Paladin of Bahamut
All are loaded with a lot of powers, most of them cool for level 1 characters. Each have numerous options for combat and a list of skills that are explained very succinctly in this booklet (and in more details in the other booklet).

I won't go into the details as I leave this to your discovery… but a lot of the 4e promises are there. Wizards and Cleric have a lot more to do than the per-day allotment of spells. The paladin reeks of helping others and the Rogue will give control freak DMs a heart attack as they slide monsters all over the place (confirming once and for all that miniatures and maps are essential).

No background or stories are presented or suggested. Each character comes with a short descriptive text that can act as a primer to a personality. This is mostly a 'learn the game' set of characters as such a product is won't to be.

Adventure Booklet

This 80 page booklet starts with the introduction to the adventure.

The adventure centers around a walled-village surrounded by farms (an archetypal point of light) sitting 5 days away from the nearest city.

As the title suggests, there's a ruined keep nearby and all kinds of stuff happens around the village and the keep. It's a totally classic adventure plot with limited (but not absent) backstory and roleplaying-driven storylines.

It's well suited for an introductory adventure (it reminds me of the Village of Hommlett) and I found the story to be more interesting than 3E's The Sunless Citadel.

The booklet then presents three optional adventure hooks (including quests with gold and XP rewards) that the DM can choose to start the adventure.

Then there is a 2 page explanation of the adventure's structure like how the tactical encounters are to be read and how to read Monster stat blocks (each taking about 1/8 of a 2 columns page, weeee no 1 pager stats!).

The Quick-Start rules are re-printed as is, with a few more DM-focused rules such as leveling up, Conditions (Blinded, Dazed, etc.) and Skill descriptions.

Then the adventure starts on page 16 with the 1st combat encounter (a roadside ambush).

WotC kept their Encounter Format developed in later 3.5 adventures. These remain very useful as you have all the necessary information to conduct the in a two page spread (3 pages for the Grand Finale). Each encounter features different monsters, each presented in an all-inclusive stat block that covers all special powers with full descriptions.

Let me tell you that many of these monster powers are cool. Players will absolutely HATE some of the iconics low-level humanoids featured in this adventure. The term "slinger" may very-well end up instilling fear and respect in low-level characters.

The 1st 'Boss' level fight features an Elite Brute boss that has more than 100 HP (while players are still 1st level).

This confirms that there's some more HP inflation from the last version of the game. While minion monsters have only 1 hp, various level 1 soldier-type monsters have HPs in the 30's (and PCs have between 25-31 HPs).

The adventure assumes that 5 players would be around the DM and has no instructions/tips for lowering the number of monsters if the party is made of less than 5 characters. I would suggest to reduce the number of minions and soldier monsters in each encounter.

It's not necessarily a big deal but it will make the adventure particularly lethal in the hands of an inexperienced DM with less than a full set of players.

(On a side note, I really liked having 4 players, things went fast and everybody had adequate time in the spotlight)

Also, a new feature I had never seen in D&D adventures are 'DM's Advice' and 'Interludes' pages between chapters. In these, roleplaying and descriptive tips are suggested to give life to the adventure. Instead of telling you that X NPC is surly or Y location is gloomy, the DM is encouraged to make them up as they see fit and to pick up on mundane interaction to build up a side-story.

For example, you are told you can build on the discussions between a PC and a Store owner if and when they try to pawn a piece of jewelry looted from the monsters.

That's a promising change.

Investigative parts of the adventure are presented in FAQ form. Questions PCs would ask are printed out, followed by in-character responses that this or that NPC would answer (you can read, paraphrase or adapt as you see fit). I really like this approach as it gives material to build upon for creative DMs while still lending sufficient fluff for less experienced/confortable DMs.

Some combat encounters are set up on the included battlemaps. The others can all be created easily with the D&D tiles or drawn on graph paper in a few minutes. I really like that (I'm a big D&D tiles fan!)

In the dungeon encounters, there is a break in tradition with previous adventure. Encounter area now encompass between 3 and 4 dungeon rooms, allowing larger space to move around (no more fights in 5′ wide corridors and 10X10 rooms! Hurrah!)

This means that dungeons don't have boxed text for each room, only encounter (combat or otherwise) get them. If PCs decide to take a room by room search approach, you'll have to make it up as you go, fortunately, the dungeon maps feature furniture and such, making description easier.

Finally, the one +1 magic Item I saw so far combines the classic bonus with an additional static power (bonuses to saves) as well as a daily power. That's nice and makes a mundane item more interesting.

The adventure does have a few editing issues which seems to indicate that it was somewhat rushed out. It's small things like saying that a monster throws a spear when it's equipped with javelins, I've seen a few other ones.

Bottom line

This is a well made adventure that showcases what low-level heroic-tiered characters and foes can do. It's a simple, straightforward story that puts into play some of the core 4e fluff (The Shadowfell, Orcus, points of lights and so on).

The preview of the combat ruleset really reminds me of Magic the Gathering where you have well defined turn sequences and where each players use powers they chose (during Char Gen) and see how they interact on the battlefield. Combo fans like my friend Yan will fall for this system really fast.

Corollary to that, such exception-based rules design will lead to the creation of broken (post publication edit: not broken maybe but really effective) combos with the creation of additional powers and options in future sourcebook. DM discretion, as always, will rule.

In fact, I predict that a group of well designed characters handled by a group of players used to teamwork and cooperation will be extremely efficient during combat encounters…

Luckily (or unluckily) DMs with good deck encounter building skills will be able to create fiendish encounters whose synergistic powers will be quite a match to brilliant players.

So does reading this pull me in or out of 4e?

In definitively… I need to try it now and see how my gut reacts while players slay baddies and interact with the adventure's NPCs.

However, I remain somewhat concerned with the 'gimmicky' set of PC and monster powers that abound in there (and the game in general), but I'll reserve judgement on this when I actually play it out… chances are the gimmicks are going to make for some awesome action gaming.

We'll pay this in early June, I'm looking forward to it.

Another Smaller Review.

here have already been a number of blogs and such about 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons since the haze of NDAs has been lifted from the play-testers, but I thought I would throw in my own opinions and comments as well. This is more as a player than a play-tester though – so no NDA for me to worry about!

Misty Mountain Games is one of those “gold level” stores with Wizards of the Coast – at least I think that is the distinction given to it. I am not sure all of what that means, but it did mean that we got a store demo copy of Keep on the Shadowfell a few weeks before it came out. For those of you confused as to what I am talking about, that is a sample module with pre-generated characters and some quick start 4th Edition rules. It is a sample of 4th Edition for the role player to get a taste for the system.

So our Sunday D&D group took a hiatus from our Savage Tides campaign and gave this system a whirl. Even better for me, Dave – the owner of the store – wanted to run the event. I was crushed at having an opportunity to play a character. So the week of the next game, I stopped in and got photocopies of the five pregenerated characters and the quick start rules to read them over. The more people going over the rules, the smoother things go. Also, once he ran it for us, I was going to schedule sessions for customers to get a shot at trying it out.

For those of you worrying about spoilers here, don’t. I highly doubt the statements of “we were attacked by a small group of kobolds” will spoil anything for you. This is more a discussion on the rules, the powers, and how the game flows as a system. So read on with little fear – well maybe a little – our one-shots tend to become exercises in the most outlandish character personalities.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of hit points that each character had. The warrior was still the “meat shield” of the group, but the human wizard did have a stunning 23 hit points to start at first level. This feels like it is part of an effort to increase the balance of the characters at all levels – basically making it so that the wizard can still have an effect on the game without risking being “one-shotted” by a goblin, a kobold, or a simple irate squirrel passing by.

The next thing that I noticed was the powers and spells that the characters had. As has been reported in multiple blogs and reviews, there are “at will” powers, “encounter powers” and “daily powers.” If you were thinking this pertained to the wizards and clerics only, you would be mistaken. Even the dwarven fighter had combat maneuvers that were treated the same way as spells. So everyone had something they could do, and never ran out of spells.

There was also your actions allotted to your character each round. Every round you could take a minor action – such as a “shift”, formerly known as a 5 foot step – a move action, and a standard action. Additionally, all of the powers and spells would state on them if they were a minor action, free action, or standard action. It did help to solidify what you could do and when you could do it. It is like clarifying the turn sequence in a card game.

Speaking of card games there was an aspect of card games that we found represented in the types of actions available. There is another, newer type of action available that is a throwback to the collectible card game – the triggered interrupt action. As a specific example is the celric’s Bahamut’s Armor ability. If at any point a critical hit is scored against the paladin or an ally within five squares of the paladin, his power invokes and changes it to a standard hit instead of a critical. In case you were wondering about that as it is a powerful ability, it is also an encounter ability – once per encounter.

This seems to open up quite a bit for counterspells and the like. It makes it so that your outcome for an event can be controlled a bit more than it was in the previous edition. Unfortunately for the players, this means that the DM has the same ability to use on them as well. It is a double-edged sword, but I liked the way it played out.

Also the change to action points involves the use of actions. Basically your character starts with one action point, but you generate one more for every two encounters that day. Once per encounter – if you have them – you can spend one action point to get an additional action that turn. As an example, in a battle against the kobolds mentioned above, my wizard took a standard action to do a healing surge and gain back seven hit points, took a move action to move 5 spaces closer to the fight to gain line of sight on a monster, and then spent an action point to be able to have another standard action to cast magic missile at the kobold. Of course even getting +3 to hit due to an ability called Action Surge (bonus attack on any action gained from the use of an action point), I still missed – but it was still pretty cool.

Healing is also opened up more. Your character has a number of healing surges each day they can use. They can use one per encounter by doing a standard action called Second Wind. The cleric has powers that allow for the use of addition surges as a free action, and you can also use multiples between encounters. In short, the options for the cleric have opened up a whole lot, not to mention that much of the onus for healing is placed on the wounded person – at least as much so as on the healer.

Now if you want an apples to apples comparison, in our normal 3 to 4 hour gaming session, we usually have a little bit of role-playing encounters (non-combat), and one combat encounter that takes up the better part of our time. In comparison to that, during the first session of our 4th Edition trial, we had two encounters – with the second one being much tougher than the first – and enough time in the village where we were getting our information/quests from to visit several of the more important structures in town. On the whole, it sped up the encounters a lot, leading to more effective use of game time.

In short: more time spent gaming; everyone always had something to do; less rolling to resolve actions (explanation to come later); and I’m a monster, RAR!