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Scarab Sages

CorvidMP wrote:

Bag of rats is a deliberate misinterpretation and abuse of the rules in a way that totally brutalizes game balance, rules as intended, and basic human decency.

I recommend you read page 40 of the DMG, "Legitimate" attacks.

Scarab Sages

Entertainment value aside, I think the rules cover this case pretty well: This is clearly a "Bag Of Rats" situation. You can't attack yourself because you are a "meaningless" threat to yourself (pg 40 dmg). Specific beats general, so unless the power specifically says the creature attacks himself, he cannot do so. I think it's well within the "Bag of Rats" argument to state that, in general, a person is considered a meaningless target to himself, and only when specifically directed, can make attacks on himself.

Why is this a meaningless attack? Because the defender knows EXACTLY how/when/where/etc the attack is being made and knows EXACTLY the perfect counter because he is also the attacker. Ahh, but he knows the PERFECT attack as well, one he cannot counter...and so it goes, ad naseum. Meaningless.

Bag of Rats I say.

Scarab Sages

A lot of this sounds like people simply want the PLAYERS to be more narrative. I don't care what system you use, if your players are not into narration, it isn't going to happen.

Scarab Sages

There are a couple of things you could do:

1) Pure Fluff. You want a squirrel? Poof, you have a squirrel. No stats, not combat utility. Just a squirrel

2) Arcane Familiar feat. It has some utility, but its countered by the use of a feat.

3) Companion. DMG2 has rules for companion characters. Essentially what you have done is created an NPC called "Squirrel". The Player in question is basically going to use this squirrel as a second character (albeit a weak character). In that case, the squirrel gets a share of the xp. I wouldn't actually level it, so its usefulness diminishes as the party levels. But it becomes an xp drain, so its balanced. Review the companion rules in DMG2.

4) House Ruled Feat: "Nuts about Squirrels". This feat allows the character to conjures a Squirrel in an adjacent square as a minor action. This conjuration can be moved using the PC's move action (Speed 6, Climb 6), or make a basic melee attack using the PCs standard action (+6 vs AC; 1d6 damage). The conjuration has 10 HP. If any single attack does 10 or more HP, the conjuration is destroyed doing 5 hp to the caster. Less than 10 damage from a single attack has no effect.

This last option is probably what the Player in question is looking for. A pet that attacks. The feat can be swapped out once the squirrel isn't good enough. Of course, tweak it after reviewing the rules for Conjurations. You don't want the attack better than a PC melee basic attack. In most cases, a PC would be better off using their own attacks, but this may give the Player a sense of doing something cool.

Scarab Sages

Paul Worthen wrote:
A while back, we had a thread about encounter design where someone suggested that every 4e combat should have a "twist" - reinforcements show up from other rooms, terrain changes during the fight, or some other challenge appears. I've really tried to take this to heart, and I've found that it's made my encounters much more interesting.

It was the 4E Time Management Thread HERE

Which is good for a re-read and for the OP.

Scarab Sages

The web troll is eating my posts...Ive lost 2 long explanations. Her's my 3rd:

What I mean is simply have the enemies RESPOND to the PC change in tactics as well...which I think is what you are also in favor of. I do NOT mean make whatever choice they make a success! I simply mean make that choice SEEM like they chose wisely. More of a "descriptive" reward than a tangible, kill the monsters take their loot reward.

Choice: Swing across vine to get across river but maybe fall or go out of your way (a few rounds) to a bridge while the guy your chasing is getting away. (assuming the the "reconsider" moment was the guy they are chasing surprised them by swinging on the vine to get across)

Player chooses bridge - reward choice by having the PC notice the Pirhana and how weak the vines look and perhaps have the guy run somewhat in the direction of the bridge anyway. Do not have the bridge collapse as they approach due to "heavy flooding".

Player chooses vine - reward choice by having the guy they are chasing have a shocked look, a look of panic, before the player rolls a check to see if he makes it across. Do not have the guy they are chasing then run towards the bridge on his side of the river, such that the PCs are like...doh! we could have just used the bridge.

The point I was trying to make was that the PCs are supposed to be heroes. The reconsider moment breaks up the combat and introduces a "OH NO!" moment that the players can have their PCs respond to in a heroic way. Your response as DM is to make sure that however they choose to respond, you describe things in a positive, heroic light. Let the dice fall where they may.

You talked about false choices. It certainly is false if both outcomes lead to the same result. But if the outcomes are vastly different but the players are under the impression that the choice is 6 of one, half a dozen the other, it is also a false choice. We DMs provide the info.

We provide info in the REVELATION phase. We are saying "this is reality as you know it." The PCs react to that reality and start changing the reality by their actions

We then say in the RECONSIDER phase "Reality has changed in this way". Again the PCs react and start changing reality by their actions.

In the RESOLUTION phase, we (the DM) should then be CONSISTENT with that reality and not change "reality" again (no more reconsideration). However, as the PCs change the "reality" we reward them in this phase by now having the enemies be the reactive body rather the PCs. In the prior two phases the DM sets the stage and the PCs react. In this phase, the PCs are attempting to change the stage to their liking (usually with piles of dead bodies at their feet). We as the DM need to let go a little and let them. We have created the encounter, determined tactics, created the environment, set up a gotcha moment. The resolution phase is where we as DMs let go a little and let the players do their thing. No more gotchas, no more "But wait! There's more!" The carnage still goes on, and victory isn't certain, but we DMs won't change the stage or the rules.

That's all I mean. The enemies (the DM) is now simply reacting to the players. That IS rewarding as a player. A player lays a zone down, he expect enemies to avoid it. In the reconsider phase, the DM may have all zones vanish as a magical pulse shoots out from the evil doo-hickey. But in the resolution phase, the DM doesn't pull any "tricks" like that. We already did it, the players are annoyed/thrilled (it really is one emotion if done right), to do it again would suck.

Scarab Sages

Uchawi wrote:
In the same scenario, they did find where the hopping vampire was located inside a padagoa, where they had to climb 4 floors (via stairs) to reach the vampire at the top. There were multiple caskets on each level, which had vampire spawn, shadows, and skeletons which were all minions for the most part, to let the players get a feel for how powerful the vampire really was as they cleared each floor. However, the vampire knew they were coming (some of the naga archers fled to warn him), so it challenged the players from the top floor (each floor was hollow in the center). In their rush to meet it at the top, they bypassed all the caskets. When they finally reached the vampire, he turned insubstantial and floated to the floor, and they had 4 floors of minions to fight to get back down as they all started to awaken (the shadows flying up, the vampire spawn crawling on the walls and the skeletons climbing the stairs).

Using your encounter described as a guideline, I would break it dowen as follows:

1) REVELATION: The PCs enter the Pagoda, take note of the 4 floors and the hollow center. The Vampire at the top would issue its challenge, goading the PCs to move quickly to the top. Along the way, they would spot the numerous Caskets. I personally would have had the Vampire fight here initially, then go insubstantial at bloodied to float to the top. WHile the Vampire floated, the PCs would likely run up stairs. The Vampire gets to the top, then rings a bell or gong or something, thus activating the minions. Its the same encounter, but there is dramatic tension.

2) RECONSIDER: At the point when the minions start appearing, this would be the reconsider phase. The Reconsider phase should impose some kind of choice. Do the PCs deal with the minions or ignore them and go after the Vampire? If the Vampire isn't posing a threat, then its not a real choice. Giving the Vampire a wicked ranged attack to use down the center open area would be a great idea, or perhaps some "Infernal Device" (the vampire rings a gong every round, bringing 1-4 minions back to life, for example). This phase where what the PCs thought was the focus of the encounter (get to the top and kill Vampire) changes to something include something else. The original goal should still be visible. A bait-and-switch is ok once in a while. Your reconsider was the Vampire going *poof* and floating down while the minions streamed up. But what choice did the PCs have besides slog their way down? Here would have been a great "jump into the center of the open space and grab the ropes, then slide down" moment. Risky, but a dramatic scene nonetheless.

3 RESOLUTION: Once the PCs make their decision and "commit" to it, its your job as DM not to "block" it and punish the choice such that the Players don't feel like they made the wrong choice. Rather, the Resolution phase is where you reward their choice and make the ENEMIES change their plans such that it reinforces the choice the PCs made as a good one. The Vampire escaped to the bottom, but perhaps getting "trapped" by all the minions is a blessing in disguise...if the rogue can only disable the "infernal machine" while the rest of the party holds them off, the minions can be made to crumble to dust. That sort of thing.

FYI...I'm not criticizing your encounter...it sounds like it was very cool and fun! I was just trying to impose my methodology on it in order to illustrate how my brain works.

Scarab Sages

Uchawi wrote:
That is some great insight on how to create 4E encounters Stedd. I am curious what you used as a reference, or is that just your experience when stating the 3R method.

I made it up...its simply what is in my head when I design/draw an encounter.

No magic in 3 parts either. Think of it like a story: introduction/body/conclusion. In every part have obstacles: terrain and creatures; some visible some "hidden".

BTW, as an aside, minion archers are devastating. Keep them out of range of a double move initially, spread them to the edges of the battlemap, and throw a "scary" critter in the center. 9 times out of 10 the PCs head for the big nasty and ignore the minions. Include focused fire and you are about to clean PCs clocks with the steady drip drip of HPs. I had such an encounter, I added a leader type archer as well, shouting out orders, designating targets. Each round I bloodied or dropped a PC with those minions (10 attacks at 5 hp, avg 25 hp per round...ouch!). I had notes indicating that if the Archer Leader died, the minions would flee i there were no other melee forces left or would choose random targets thereby spreading the hurt. The PCs suffered greatly since they dropped the Archer leader last! To add injury to insult, one Player kept saying "I think we should get that commander who keeps shouting orders!" but his movement sucked, and the leader simply stayed out of his way while the other PCs ignored him. Very cool encounter. (It also included the order of "Flame Arrows" to a pitch soaked bit of open area as hinted at in my above post)

Scarab Sages

I agree with Paul wrt terrain: Interesting terrain makes for more memorable/harder encounters than simply tougher/more creatures. Thats why I recommend pre-drawing the encounter on a battlemap (or the paper I recommended above). In the process of doing so, think about the encounter, the movement of the enemies/PCs, hidden traps, and what I call encounter triggers.

When drawing I like to think of the encounter in 3 distinct phases:
1) Revelation
2) Reconsider
3) Resolution

(The three R's of encounters)

1) Revelation: Perception check, knowledge checks, etc that reveal the encounter. Encounter distances are determined, and initial movement and engagement occurs in this phase. If you describe minions rather than reveal them outright these is the phase where the players test their theories as to which are minions, brutes, etc. (these skeletons where rusty bits of armor, a few even have numerous bones missing. Their weapons look dull and rusty as well. THESE skeletons over here, however, wear better looking armor and weapons, are mostly intact, and it seems you could see the eldritch energies holding them together if only you could get the right angle...)This is also where you as the DM introduce the key powers of the enemies. Goblins and kobold hop away using their racial abilities, hobgoblins form ranks, etc. This phase determines the BATTLE LINE. The Battle Line is where the defenders and soldiers meet and typically lock down. This is important. Placement of the battle line determines the range for the artillery/archer types. If the range is such that the artillery can take advantage of cover bonus, but it can be such that the ranged types have to move out of cover in order to reach the battle line with their attacks, thereby exposing them. Design the encounter with these concepts in mind: Where is the likely battle line (given move rates, where are likely melee types to meet?) Where should I place cover for ranged people (pc and enemy), what kind of obstacles do I need to impede movement so PCs don't flank BBEG too easily, etc.

2) Reconsider: In this phase things change. A memorable battle usually has that element of the unexpected - new solo monster design incorporates this concept with improved attacks at bloodied, but you could do this in other ways. You could introduce a wave(s) of minions such that the PCs have to do a skill challenge to close the drawbridge/gates/doors. You could have the BBEG reveal his uber-power the PCs weren't expecting (a zone that nullifies necrotic resistance the PCs may have by 5/10/15). You could have the terrain itself change. Archers in the back field unleash firey arrows that light the field on fire, introducing an unexpected hazard, etc. It could be a simple change such as the leader shouts a command and the enemies focus fire on the healer, for example.

3) Resolution: Essentially this is the slog to the finish, but a very well crafted encounter allows for the PCs to introduce their own surprises that are contextual to the encounter that can end it quicker than usual. Here, as DM it's difficult to plan ahead for, but during the session you invoke the rule of YES. For example, the PCs, with fire erupting from the fields all around them (from the reconsider phase above) decide to start bull rushing enemies into the fire. Great idea, but make it even better for them and introduce something else, like the enemies may panic and flee or begin a tactical withdraw. The ide is to reward them for their "clever" tactics. Ostensibly the resolution phase ends when encounter is over, but rather than force players to slog the last few hit points of what is clearly a victory, and rather than simply declare the battle over by DM fiat, have something the PCs do to end it. That is the spirit of the resolution phase.

Happy Gaming

Scarab Sages

If you haven't already, pre-draw the maps. I use 1" grid easel pad (http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/409528/Office-Depot-Brand-Recycled-B leed-Blocker/). A little colored pencils, and a few well-placed dwarven forge pieces and the encounter is good to go.

Another idea is for players to think and act faster. Discuss it with the players, but basically start with easier encounters, and do the following: Have them declare all their actions at the start of their initiative (I use a move action to move closer to my ally, use a minor action to shout an Inspiring Word to the ally, then a standard action to use Commander's Strike on the Orc), then have them resolve it. If they can't articulate it they "Delay", and the next player in initiative goes. Once the players get the hang of it, it goes pretty quick.

Encounters rarely take less than 1 hour. 2 hours can be from table chat, a larger group, newer players, or tough encounters.

Ask yourself, which is better:

1 - 4 mediocre encounters rushed through 4 hours of play


2 - 2 great encounters executed carefully through 4 hours of play?

Since I've shortened our play time from 6 to 3 hours and increased frequency from every other week to every week, the players are more engaged. They remember the story better and I can focus on a couple of encounters and make them more memorable.

My group plays for 3 hours on Friday nights. I plan each session as one of three options

1) 3 fast, easy encounters 1 hour each (e.g. a couple of Giant Wasps)
2) 2 average encounters 1.5 hours each (e.g. a bandit ambush in the forest)
3) 1 hard encounter (the proverbial BBEG)

Scarab Sages

Stewart Perkins wrote:
She has the H1-E3 set at her disposal

I would recommend telling her not to worry about being "true" to the module. Beginners often get bogged down in trying to run it "correctly". Tell her the philosophy of "yes". If a player comes up with something, or the players as a group are heading down a path not covered in the module, the philosophy of yes says to run with it, not to steer them back to the train tracks.

Scarab Sages

The 1e super module "Scourge of the Slavelords" and its previous RPGA component modules A1-A4 is a great little inspirational tool for creating the "you been captured, now get free" plot. In the supermodule (modules) the PCs are actually captured twice.

In the first scene they are at a party, when the town is attacked by slavers. After a tough fight with overwhelming odds (read: Deus Ex Machina) the PCs awake as slaves aboard a ship, destined to row until dead. There is a great scene where the ships captain picks a few choice peices of gear from among the PCs stuff, then tosses the rest of the "junk" overboard. Oh the horror! E. G. Gygax uses the same thing in the Mythus rpg as a "starter" adventure. Also very good for inspiration.

The other is inside the volcano town of Suderholme (sp?). The PCs are captured and thrown into prison, but the Deus Ex Machina in this case is when the volcano erupts, dumping the loincloth clad prisoners into the tunnels below. The PCs fight monsters (not humanoids with gear) through a series of tunnels before finally reaching the panicked streets of town.

I would suggest the same thing. Consider a "Delve" or two worth of encounters without gear:

The volcano erupts, the earth splits, and the PCs find themselves in a monster infested warren. Skill checks to find their way through the twisting tunnels, find usable makeshift weapons, and of course food and water. By the end of the 3 to 6 encounters (you're call) they'll have found makeshift armor composed of bits of rusty chain, ancient bronze breastplate, hides from the freshly killed Kruthik, etc. as well as makeshift weapons such as a half-eaten thigh bone of a dead ogre used as a club, obsidian shards (its ina volcano after all) used as daggers, etc.

The upcoming Dark Sun rules will apparently have some weapon breakage rules. I'd say on a natural one the weapon breaks, and on crit, the enemies don't do max damage, but instead the armor falls apart dropping the AC bonus by 2, that sort of thing.

The final encounter can be with a patrol of guards out to find and recapture the PCs. Now, suitably geared in the guards armor and weapons, the PCs can either attempt an assault on the Prisons well-fortified "underdark" entrance or go deeper into the underdark, looking for another way out...

Scarab Sages

As an aside, I'd like to share how I "deal" with skill challenges.

Rather than try to outline them in any fixed sense ahead of time, I like to keep things fairly loose. I may know I have a "chase scene", a cross the desert scene", and a "Climb the cliff" scene, but I try not to say "this is a hard challenge of level x, and these are the skills." Rather, I let the players describe their actions, help them determine appropriate skills for that action, provide DCs for the Skill check (in my head, using the DMG guideline), and let the dice roll.

In many cases, a "climb the cliff" scene I had in my head turns out in the gaem to be a single die roll of a single character who then drops a rope to the others who easily climb up. The players weren't engaged in making it more complicated, the story needed to move forward faster at that point for whatever reason (we hadn't had a combat that session, the sessions almost over, and the fight is at the top of the cliff, whatever). So that "skill challenge" got downgraded to a simple skill check.

On the other hand, I may have thought " a party nature check to cross the desert, failure means loss of a surge for the fight at the oasis" but then players get all creative and excited, the Elven rogue wants to use perception to spot any plants, anywhere, the fighter wants to use athletics and endurance to dig quickly and efficiently, the wizard wants to use a cold attack power to condense water out of the air, etc...well, at that point I do the same thing, let them make their checks, etc. I keep track of successes, simply adding them up. If they get 12 success and it seems enough to "get across the desert" boom, they get the xp for a complexity 5 challenge. If only 6 checks, less xp of course. If they get three failures, well, they still get across the desert but they loose the surge. Or maybe, the fighter dug them into a buried building filled with undead (a combat encounter), whatever.

The bottom line is, I try to have it occur organically

Scarab Sages

Don't be so quick to toss out half-elves and half-orcs. What if you opened the 4E PHB to Half-Elf, ignored the fluff description and focused on just the mechanics. Then, whenever the word half-elf appeared you read numenorean? I think half-elf mechanics would make a great High Man. The same goes for half-orcs and easterlings or savages. I'd even go so far as to say tiefling mechanics might work ok as easterlings.

The key to 4E is to do exactly what you are proposing to do: re-tool. I would simply do what I've proposed for the races of men, and tweak as needed. If a player doesn't choose to play an easterling, then its a moot point anyway. DM creations do whatever the heck you want them to do, so easterling NPCs are no problem. If a player does choose an easterling (a re-skinned tiefling) and something doesn't sit right with you or the player, discuss it and make the adjustment. You'll be happier for it. My advice to DMs doing some world-building is to PLAY PLAY PLAY. The details will grow as you go. Getting the players involved and letting them have some leeway goes a long way towards a long and healthy campaign.

Scarab Sages

I've been running a game with 3 players from 1st to currently 7th.

Party Consists of:

Human Barbarian (Rageblood build) - Striker
Gnome Avenger - Striker
Githzerai Artificer - Leader

The barbarian avenger combo is nice. The Avenger picks a target and punishes any other enemy to dare attack him. The barbarian is melee death on steroids. Any enemies that avoid the barbarian and attack the avenger instead take damage from the avengers "can't touch this" abilities (we lovingly call the avenger Mc Hammer). That leaves the artificer. I personally believe a cleric makes a better healer, but I have come to appreciate how an artificer effectively makes healing surges a "pool" to draw from. A character with 0 surges can still be healed by the Artificer.

I would steer clear from the defender and go the 2 striker route. A smaller group tends to approach encounters with stealth in mind rather than the front door approach. In addition, the avenger played a defender (fighter) for 1 level (part of the story...avenger was captured and the defender helped in the rescue) and everyone felt the combats lasted too long. The Fighter did "soak" up the damage that would have gone to the Barbarian or Artificer, but because the fights lasted longer needed more healing as well.

A quick note about defenders: A defender should have an AC no more than 2 higher than anyone else in the party. Stacking AC on a defender is counter-productive. Why attack the defender at AC 22 when I can attack the controller at ac 19 with a -2 penalty (effective AC 21)? If the defenders AC is too high, the penalty is not a deterrent. The defender is then left with their class ability (like a fighters movement stopper).

So, if you do go defender, keep its AC in check, pick one like a fighter that locks enemies movement down, and use a ranged striker (ranger). Otherwise, High AC strikers do just fine. If you go 2 strikers, they work best as 2 melee for a small group of 3. Combat advantage for flanking goes a long way.

One last note: Gear, gear, gear. Potions of healing help in small groups (especially when the leader drops!), Cloaks of the Walking Wounded rock for small groups (make sure they use their second winds and/or total defense actions even if they don't have these cloaks!).

Scarab Sages

Very Good Start. I like the flavor a lot.

You have the Draugr as a controller. While I can see from the powers this makes sense, however it doesn't seem to fit the flavor. Mechanically controllers are best used with other critters...this guy seems to be a loner. My gut tells me this concept would work best as a lurker.

Rending (At-will, standard): +13 vs AC; 1d8+5 damage.

This is fine, but as a solo I think another power is needed. I would rename this power as simply "Claw Attack" and have a new power called "Rending". This power would be recharge 5,6 or something like that, and standard. It would state: Make 2 claw attacks against the same target. If both attacks hit the Draugr deals an extra 2d6 damage.

Grave Breath (At-will, standard) * Necrotic: Close blast 3; +12 vs Fortitude; 1d8+5 necrotic damage and the target is slowed (save ends).

The breath weapon doesn't feel right. Since its a solo your after, we really want the solo to be doing more than 1 thing per round. A great way to do this is through an Aura. Lets rename it "Chill of the Grave" or something, make it an Aura 3. Make the following attack against any character that starts its turn in the Draugr's aura: +12 vs Fortitude; 1d8 necrotic damage and the target is slowed (save ends). that will give the Draugr more attacks, but allow smart players to avoid them.

Vile Clutches (Recharge 3+, usable only when not bloodied, standard): +11 vs Reflex; 1d10+5 damage and the target is grabbed; the draugr and the grabbed target shift 6 spaces.

This power SCREAMS lurker! It is a defining power. This is what is going to make this creature memorable. Drop the "when not bloodied". This should be the Draugr's Modus Operandi. It can should always have this option so make it at-will but with a caveat of "A draugr can only have one grabbed opponent at a time". I'd drop the damage entirely, shifting 6 squares WITH a grabbed opponent without making a "moving a grabbed opponent" check is HUGE. Add the fog and this power becomes very creepy. What's needed now is another power to follow this up with. This guy is a vampire, the fluff describes fangs...we need a nice vampiric bite, so lets look at the next power:

Bloody Shredding (Recharges when the Draugr first becomes bloodied, standard) * Healing: Requires the target is grabbed or immobilized; +12 vs Fortitude; 2d6+5 damage and the target is weakened (save ends), and the draugr regains 36 hitpoints.

This power looks pretty good as a bite to follow the Vile Clutches power. But only 2 an encounter takes some of the steam away from a sneaky, fog obscured grab and dash. I'd call it Vampiric bite, make it at-will (remember, they already have to be grabbed). I'd make the damage necrotic to ease the pain for characters with necro resist. I'd also make the healing equal twice the damage dealt. At best this is 34 hit points, but on average 24 hit points...a decent drop in healing to make up for its at-will. In addition, i'd reword it as "...and when the Draugr is bloodied it regains hit point equal to twice the damage dealt. Healing on a solo is a tough thing to counter...this sucker has a boatload of hit points and solo fights tend to drag on as a result. limiting that healing is a god thing. I'd play test it, and if the fight drags, drop the healing to equal to the damage dealt rather than twice.

Horrific Gaze (At-will, immediate interrupt, when an enemy moves adjacent) * Fear, Psychic: Close blast 2; +12 vs Will; 1d6+5 psychic damage and the target is immobilized until the start of its next turn.

That's pretty powerful. The close blast 2 is confusing. If you literally want the character immobilized when adjacent, then it should be close blast 1 with a trigger of when an enemy moves in range. Close blast 2 with the trigger when an enemy moves in range means the character stops before becoming adjacent. A much better power for lurker trying to munch on another character in its "Vile CLutches". However, THis would need to be toned down. Make it encounter with perhaps a recharge on bloodied. Play it to find the balance.

Flayed Form (Encounter, Free action when the Draugr first becomes bloodied) * Fear: The Draugr transforms into a flayed bear (or ox) until the end of the encounter, and gains a speed of 8. The Draugr immediately makes an attack: Close burst 2; +12 vs Will; the targets are immobilized (save ends).

In tactics you say the Draugr starts in flayed form...but it can only do this when bloodied? This needs to be fixed. I don't know the real world legends of Draugr, but I assume you get this shapeshifting idea from it. It seems a bit of a weird add-on. What is the purpose of this polymorph? Is it simply a way for the Draugr to get around? Or is it a disguise meant to fool travelers before it brings in the fog and transforms back? I like this last. Drop the attack, drop the bloodied condition. Animals do not fear it in this form. Its a disguise, perfect for a lurker: "Up ahead you see a small herd of oxen cross the road. As you approach, a thick fog begins to rise all around you..."

Bloody Rampage (At-will, usable only while bloodied; standard): The Draugr shifts up to its speed, and may make up to three Rending attacks at any point during the shift, though no more than two on a single target.

with the other changes, this is a bit out-of-character for a lurker (and a controller for that matter...this is very "skirmisher") But a nice "go boom when bloodied" is always a treat. Perhaps simply make it an encounter power usable when bloodied (one shot) but make it such that the Draugr can make 2 rending attacks (as I've recast it) against 2 different opponents. Keep the shift, but only in the fog. This give the Draugr the potential to deal massive damage to 2 characters.

Call Up the Fog (Recharge 6+, Minor): Close burst 3; the Draugr creates a fog cloud within the zone until the end of the encounter. Squares within the zone are considered heavily obscured to all creatures except the Draugr. If this power recharges and is used again, any existing fog clouds created through this power immediately dissipate.

Make it a close burst 10...give the draugr some movement. I think heavily obscured is a bit too much, way too defensive. lightly obscured allws the characters to more success on attacks. I'd add a power that gives the Draugr combat advantage against any enemy in the fog.


Stone Meld (Recharge 5+, Move): The Draugr can move through earth or stone up to its speed, but must end its move in an open square.

Indestructible (The same)

Stand Your Ground (The same)

These last are fine as is.

I just realized a quoted the above posters changes and not the direct material (I think)...but I think my comments still stand.

General idea is to think a little harder about what the role best suits the concept, and then use powers that reinforce that role.

Scarab Sages

Remember, creatures can use the Aid nother Action as well. If the power is used in a fight with lots of creatures, 3 creatures could use Aid Another on Leader, for example, while the rest wail on the Invoker.

Scarab Sages

Rather than use "Piercing" "Blunt" etc. I would suggest altering the cards to the power source: "Martial", "Arcane", etc. and give it appropriate fluff. 4E does away with the blunt, pierce, etc distinction, and while it's not hard to pair them up, it would be better design to switch to power source. The problem is new power sources...each card doesn't have to have all power sources. Split it up any way you want...perhaps even a critical deck for each source!

With 4E, I would avoid making each critical effect better than the standard Max damage. Most cards should be roughly equivalent, but with cool "fluff" or tweaks to make it different...like "roll damage as normal for a hit and you can push the target 2 squares and is knocked prone" or some such.

As a first approximation, 50% of the deck should be roughly "equal" to RAW crits, 25% of the deck can be slightly better (add push, slide, pull, prone, daze, etc), 12% of the deck should be clearly better (add 1[w] or 1d8 if not a weapon power and push, pull, prone, daze, etc), 7% should be much better (Stunned, immobilized, helpless, etc with added damage), and the last 6% should be over the top coolness: Insta-death, or something that effectively takes the creature out of the fight (not death, but for instance, deal damage as normal for a crit, the target is knocked unconscious (save ends)...which means a coup-de-grace can pretty much finish it.)

Scarab Sages

Like any tool of the DM, when used a bludgeon it can be bad. However, If all at the table agree to it and think it would help, then it can be good thing. I know I wanted to stop using swear words, and I asked my wife to keep on me about it. Others may have felt, looking on from the outside, that she was "nagging" me about it. However, I agreed to it and wanted to change that behavior. It worked.

So, if the players are having a hard time "staying in character" in a game that frowns upon OOC, by all means use it. If the game is more casual, then don't. It's just one more thing a DM can use or choose not to use. Offering the option in the DMG2 is a good idea.

Scarab Sages

Least Favorite: Any Small race. Gnomes and Halflings basically. You know that scene in Star Wars II where Yoda fights Count Dooku? It is totally ridiculous. I can stomach a small race as a caster, where magic makes up for their lack of might, but when they are fighters or even rogues Its hard to fathom. "I sneak attack the giant!" "Uh, so you landed a devastating blow to its knees."

Favorite: Drow. Pre-Drizz't. I loved em from the days of yore. They've become a bit of a joke due to their over-popularity, but to hell with that and those Drizz't haters out there. Drow still rock!

Goliath: The whole "race of stone" schtick steps on the toes of dwarves. I am more inclined to think of the as "enlightened ogres". It's a race that I think fills a niche (along with minotaurs btw) that hasn't been done well or addressed in D&D: that of the "giant". In biblical terms, these are the "Nephilim", The Sons of God, who are married with the "daughters of men" whose offspring are the "heroes of old", presumably wiped out in the great flood. A similar myth about Goliaths would make them more rich (less biblical and more D&D of course). Perhaps Goliaths are the offspring of Deva's (astral) and Giants (elementals) and as a result are an abomination in the eyes of both the gods and the primordials. Their shamanistic tendencies and ties to the Nature power source are a direct result of that. When they die, their spirits live on, and the Goliaths practice a form of ancestor worship (a shaman class would conjure his ancestors as his spirit rather than an animal spirit, for example). I think Goliaths have potential, but as presented they fall short.

Scarab Sages

Remember, in D&D terms Unconscious doesn't mean what we normally mean in the "real world"

Unconscious means:


• You’re helpless.

• You take a -5 penalty to all defenses.
• You can’t take actions.
• You fall prone, if possible.
• You can’t flank an enemy.

To clarify further, Helpless means:


• You grant combat advantage.

• You can be the target of a coup de grace.

So we can say that Unconscious actually means:


• You grant combat advantage.

• You can be the target of a coup de grace.
• You take a -5 penalty to all defenses.
• You can’t take actions.
• You fall prone, if possible.
• You can’t flank an enemy.

The only thing on that list that might prevent spending a healing surge is the phrase "You can't take actions".

Let's look at short rest:


Duration: A short rest is about 5 minutes long.

No Limit per Day: You can take as many short rests per day as you want.

No Strenuous Activity: You have to rest during a short rest. You can stand guard, sit in place, ride on a wagon or other vehicle, or do other tasks that don’t require much exertion.

Renew Powers: After a short rest, you renew your encounter powers, so they are available for your next encounter.

Spend Healing Surges: After a short rest, you can spend as many healing surges as you want. If you run out of healing surges, you must take an extended rest to regain them.

Using Powers while You Rest: If you use an encounter power (such as a healing power) during a short rest, you need another short rest to renew it so that you can use it again.

Interruptions: If your short rest is interrupted, you need to rest another 5 minutes to get the benefits of a short rest.

No where does it mention that any of those things require you to take an action. "Short rest" itself is not an action (If it were we'd know if was standard, minor, move, at-will, encounter, daily, free, etc)

It's best to not get caught up in the whole "negative hp's means I'm bleeding out". Think of a boxer laying on the mat trying to get up. He may get up (spend a healing surge when an ally heals), he may stay down while the ref counts and move closer to being pass out (failed death save), he may spontaneously get up, renewed by sheer will (rolled a 20 on death save), he may continue to try and get up, but the ref counts to 10 (makes the death save multiple times, fight is over) or he may pass out (failed 3 death saves).

Once the encounter is over, the story is served best by the characters picking themselves up, licking their wounds, and moving on. It is rarely served by having the PC bleed out while allies helplessly look on.

Scarab Sages

I've recently ran an encounter (The horned Hold Assualt in Thunderspire mountain) where the party "triggered" other encounters (a duergar escaped to warn others, who sent another duergar to warn even more).

The party was doing pretty good, and had actually taken steps initially to prevent anyone from running to get others. But they let their guard down and the duergar took it. Suddenly, they had 2.5 encounters worth of combatants to deal with.

Rather than immediately retreat, the party took a more defensive position and tried to fight it out. They were quickly out of dailies and encounter powers, as well as 2nd winds. At some point, there was a pause in combat (a door was slammed shut and held so a fallen comrade could be stabilized) I immediately granted them the limited benefit of a short rest: They regained their encounter powers, they were allowed to spend 1 surge each to heal (but nose any Healers Lore or powers) and since they had indeed finished 2 encounters that day (actually 2.5) They regained an Action point.

It wasn't enough, they fell and are now captured by slavers, but it was certainly dramatic and nobody

I say that if the attacks are in waves, then between each wave is a short rest, not 5 minutes. The story drives the game, the game shouldn't drive the story. If we adhere to the 5 minute rest to preserve the game, at the expense of the story, that is obviously bad. But the if also adhere to the story such that game is no fun, that is also bad.

Facing three encounters should allow for a short rest between, alter the short rest accordingly.

However, you can design the three waves as one encounter (Perhaps one 4 levels above the party level), not allow a short rest, and simply have more creatures of lower level to make up the xp budget.

The choice comes down to this: Three increasingly difficult fights or one long fight that seems to never end. Both are valid.

I prefer the 3 fight approach and the hand-waved short rest.

Let's face it, in-game time only matters when it matters. Few, if any of us, play such that we know exactly what time it is in-game, or how long it takes us to eat a meal at the inn, or how long it took the characters to traverse the Street of Heroes during the festival. The precise measurement of time didn't matter, so we ignored it.

The precise measurement of a short rest doesn't matter. What matters is whether or not the encounter(s) are structured such that one is needed. If so, allow it. If not, don't allow it. If the story demands that the PCs arrive in time, then let the number of rounds in the encounter make the difference, not the rest between.

One other suggestion, Make it two encounters: One encounter with a second wave, and a final encounter. Then let the players determine when/if they want to rest. Tell them explicitly: You only have time for one short rest, any more and you will not arrive in time. They can determine if they want it between waves of the 1st encounter, or before the final encounter.

Scarab Sages

I read the first page, then decided to post. I may be treading over covered ground, but I didn't want my thoughts muddled.

If we imagine Asmodeus in the classical sense as THE devil, ie the fallen archangel of God, then the idea of a LG Paladin worshiping him is not as far-fetched as it seems. At some point, presumably, Asmodeus was...good. (I do believe Fiendish Codex and other bits of lore are in line with the classical...I am unsure of Pathfinder)

Perhaps this Paladin, though of dim wit and a bit of a fool, is practicing a heresy among the greater church of Asmodeus: The heresy of Asmodeus as a God of Light, a bringer of Truth and Knowledge. I am not so keen on the Sarenrae angle personally. The great mystery is why does he receive holy blessings when he is clearly expressing his devotion to Asmodeus. It may be because he is, in fact, worshiping another deity (in this case, merely uttering Asmodeus' name instead of Sarenrae). But far more interesting is that he is, In fact, receiving his divine power from Asmodeus. The greater church of Asmodeus would seek to stamp out this heresy (plot hooks - adventure!), Other churches would be conflicted, confused, supportive, and all sorts of things. The thing to do would be to design a GOOD version of Asmodeus, assign it powers/Domains/etc. and have the Paladin follow that mechanically (ie the metagame). But in terms of roleplaying, he represents a new sect at best, or a true heresy at worst.

Is the act of worship of Asmodeus via the good tenets actually changing Asmodeus? Is a seperate entity in existence, a split of the entity of Asmodeus into two forms, one good, one evil going on? IS the Paladin simply deluded and worshiping another deity but using the wrong name? These are questions best left unanswered and revealed IN GAME via roleplaying.

Scarab Sages

This might be a bizarre connection, but what immediately popped into my mind was the movie "Paint Your Wagon". A western epic with Clint Eastwood (he sings, lol) where western moving pioneers "settle" and create a town, getting all proper and such, when it all goes to hell, they pack up and move on...

The reason it popped into my head is because the theme you seem to be going for is what I call the "Tyranny of Kindness". In many ways our own society is guilty of tyranny by kindness: we are enslaved by the desire/obligation to help "those in need" even to the extent that our own lives are lessened and the unforseen negative consequences.

Tolkein touched upon it when frodo offered the ring of power to Galadrie, and she turned it down wisely recognizing she would be a beautiful tyrant of kindness.

Another source of inspiration would be Orwells Brave New World (which shouldn't need a description....go read it if you don't know it!)

Weis and Hickman wrote about it in Dragonlance: Good stagnates in its perfection and dies when left to itself while Evil destroys/consumes itself.

As far as a campaign goes, I would approach it from a fairly high fantasy setting. I would take a theocratic approach to government in that it is a mandate from heaven for this perfect society to care for all your needs. This sets up a game where you fight angelic beings, deva's (celestials) etc. I would borrow heavily from Dragonlances Istar and the Kingpriest era. I would set the campaign in a colony, much like the American Colonies, to set the campaign up for a revolution led by the PCs at higher level. You would need neutral parties that could be allies/enemies (changing as roles throughout the campaign...) to act as the "straight" guy in this drama: France to America and England for example. The neutrals should be either fairly vanilla fantasy or something outrageous...both representing alternatives to the Mary Sue Regime...

Scarab Sages

My 2cp:

Forgotten Realms and Eberron were "must haves" and as a result were published without regards cross-promotion...For example, the primal power source introduced in the PHB2 is not really "geared" for Eberron.

We know at this point that psionic power source is PHB3...as well as the Monk. Asian classes and psionic power sources point towards both Dark Sun (psionics) and Asian (the Monk) campaigns.

The "safe" bet is Dark Sun. But I would not discard the notion of an asian setting. It is a popular fantasy setting, brings in the manga/anime fans, and can be done without re-hashing old settings. The WotC model of re-publishing the same content is under a lot of fire, and "new" asian campaign setting goes a long way towards quelling it. With cross-promotion, all those new Monks, Shukenja, and Wu Jen in PHB3 will fit in nicely to such a setting, and the cool paragon paths, feats, and majic items in the asian campaign will complement your PHB3 classes. You'll want both.

Scarab Sages

Stefan Hill wrote:

I would but it's almost against my religion. I'm also from table top wargaming background where 3 colors and "representative" figures are minimum requirement. I'm not going out on a limb by saying that by miniature standard the D&D minis are just plain awful. Perhaps small steps, if I DM again I'll ask players to bring a painted figure for their character - we can build form there.

The mini issue is plaguing me as well...I like to use the right mini, and while I have a stable of the basic critters, I certainly don't have them in numbers. A kobold horde using goblin mini's to round out the numbers is one thing, but in 4E damn near everything has a minion representative, and I simply don't have that many ogres for the Ogre Thug minion.

As to prep and your OP:

I think 4E is a DMs edition. It harkens back to the "old" days. Its so much easier to customize the monsters, to create interesting/fun encounters, and the prep time is small. Here's my "method" to create encounters:

1) Determine, roughly, what creatures I want to use.
2) Determine XP budget, then "buy" the creatures for encounter, letting my mind try to envision the terrain that would "fit" and give maximum benefit to the creatures.
3) draw the map and small graph paper, quickly, keeping in mind all the 4E design philosophy: terrain has a purpose, map big enough for movement, choke points, etc.
4) go back to 2 and 3 as needed to get a better fit. Maybe I don't need as many minions, but a "lurker" hiding out in these rocks would be a nasty surprise...that sort of thing, tweaking in other words.
5.) Here is the best time saver: Poster sized graph paper. You can buy it at most office supply places, over by the other large sketch pads that business types use for "brainstorming". One inch squares and all. I PRE-DRAW all my encounters. I use the love-able wet-erase battlemap for the BBEG encounter and have it pre-drawn as well. I also have a smaller wet-erase battlemap for random encounters and responding to the players whims...
6) I create a stack-block/hp page for each encounter. I have a photocopier at home, so I basically copy cut and past the MM info into a single sheet. If I create an all MM1 skeleton encounter, there's no point, since I don't have to flip...I just use the book.

That all seems like a LOT of prep, but it isn't really. As long as I have an idea, I can prepare an encounter in 30min or less. For me, that's part of the fun. Sometimes, I create encounters unrelated to the story, its just too cool an idea not to make. Paper clip the folded map and stat-page together and I have encounter ready to go. With a little practice you'll be creating encounters left and right.

Final Note: you can, of course, cut out the encounter map from the poster-map, and lay out each encounter as the group moves to it. I don't worry about the map revealing a door that's around the corner, for example...For the sake of game play, revealing it doesn't give too much info away, and drawing mid-battle when it comes into view slows things down at the wrong time.

Happy TPK!

Scarab Sages

Fey is "just" a creature sub-type. Primal is a power source. Effectively all you are doing is lifting the "nature spirit" theme of the primal source and making it a "fey spirit" power source. I see nothing wrong mechanically. If you just hand wave and say make it so, and everything else remains the same. It doesn't matter "where" the power comes from.

You could do some minor mechanic shifts for thematic purposes. Make Fey Pact Warlocks use the primal source rather than the arcane pops into my head. Maybe swap out a couple of class skills. Let them use magic rods still but call them "totems", etc.

For the most part, 4E is pretty forgiving when you "swap" things around. Try not to take away or add.

Scarab Sages

Well, I know of about 8 "older" adults who haven't played D&D since ancient times (OD&D, 1st Ed., 2nd Ed. mostly) and suddenly popped out of nowhere to play 4th edition (meetup.com is your gaming groups friend)

Since then, another 6 people showed interest having never played. So...in my personal experience, 3 full gaming groups have formed with players consisting of people who have never played 3rd Ed. (the three DMs, not-so-surprisingly enough, have played 3 ed.)

IIRC, 3 edition did the same thing. With the clout that WOTC has, its sort of difficult for it not to generate interest among people who have never played, older or younger. Nearly every bookstore has a shelf, if not a whole case, dedicated to D&D, usually near the fantasy books and/or the comic books. The kids are noticing, they are curious, and they are playing...what I have been experiencing, however, is that the adults are noticing too and want to relieve the magic or finally learn the game so many people have talked about throughout their lives.

Let's face it. D&D is a sub-culture nearly as popular as the Star Wars sub-culture.

Scarab Sages

RE: Warlock Powers

Any warlock can take any warlock power. A Fey Pact Warlock can take Hellish Rebuke and the new Eldritch Strike if they so choose at 1st level.

Scarab Sages

That is a great scene, and does highlight what minions are for. Let's keep in mind that while the "heroes" were able to quickly dispatch minion after minion with one shot kills, the halflings were no match for them. Boromir may have fallen to an Elite Archer as it were, but not after using up many of his Encounter powers and dailies on those minions, not to mention that great abstraction 'hit points', leaving him vulnerable for the archer.

Scarab Sages

Spellcrafter wrote:

Any help would be appreciated.

NPC's are only as detailed as they "need" to be. Take a friendly barkeep...you don't need stats if the party isn't meant fight them, and if they do, it's simple enough to treat them like a minion: one hit kill. Likely, the NPCs of Fallcrest fall into this category. Otherwise, chalk it up to editing to keep the page count low.

Scarab Sages

I think its a good idea if that's your bag. Although I think it should be limited to encounter attack powers or daily attack powers. At-will seems a bit too good.

Scarab Sages

Golarion Goblin wrote:

Rereading the pact boon, I can see where it isn't clear. I meant the boon as "Pick a defense, gain bonuses in that defense until the end of your next turn". However, I'm not sure that's A) elegant or B) clear and concise. Any suggestions on how to make it clearer would be appreciated

Hmm..heres a draft:

Armor of Scales: You have the Armor of Scales pact boon.
Shimmering scales of power coalesce around you whenever a cursed foe falls.
When an enemy under your Warlock's Curse is reduced to 0 hit points or fewer, choose one defense: Armor Class, Reflex, Fortitude, or Will. You immediately gain a +1 bonus to that defense until the end of your next turn. If more than one enemy afflicted with your curse dies before the end of your next turn, add an additional +1 to the defense chosen. At the end of your next turn, any bonus you have from the Armor of scales pact boon becomes zero. A new defense can only be chosen when the Armor of scales defense bonus is zero and an enemy dies while cursed.

It has been stated (enworld I beleive...at work, dont have time to search) by Mike Mearls that the Wizard was a first attempt at a controller and as a consequence, didn't really fit the niche they had in mind well. Now, I think everyone agrees controllers are "status" inducing aoe damage niche characters. Looking at the wizard, Mike Mearls clearly states that the At-Wills are under-powered. For example, Cloud of Daggers could be made sustain minor and it would become much more useful. Ray of frost could target one or two creatures (for 1d4 instead of 1d6...the slow is more important than damage), and Magic Missile could have a Push 1 effect added to it.

So, assuming a sustain minor is ok for an at-will on a controller, then a sustain minor is probably ok as an encounter power on a non-controller with a controller feel, and ok on a full non-controller.
Although, I agree, that may be pushing theorycrafting into dangerous territory, I think overall it should PLAYTEST ok...anyone who plays this should understand that any and all powers can be modified at a moments notice.

Draconic breath: Dropping the damage to 1d6 (no bonus)cis a good idea if you want to keep the damage type flexibility. If that's what you want, then definitely no sustain minor.

I like the change to terrifying roar. As you develop the powers, it would be interesting to have various powers "call upon" other draconic types as well. A Charm power can call upon the might of the green dragons for example. This would make the characters builds very interesting: do I do a "jack-of-dragons" builds with powers and damage types all across the spectrum, or do I focus on 1 or 2 dragons and get powers to reflect that (all cold powers, for example). I think you hit a homerun with the terrifying roar flavor text.

Scarab Sages

Draconic Blast is a bit too good with the ability to choose damage type on the fly. Imagine if scorching burst (wizard) had that kind of flexibility. That might be ok for a controller, but this is a striker. As written it trumps any wizard at-will hands down, that's not good imo.

Armor of scales could use a little more clarification. If 3 enemies dropped before my turn could I apply the bonuses as +1 will, +1 ac, +1 reflex for example? Also, when does it go away specifically? The end of my next turn or the start? Likely the end would be best.

Fluff of swarm of claws is not to my liking, but that's not really an issue. I'd prefer a swarm of phantom dragonlings that just appear in those squares. I'd also drop the slow effect, leave that for the real controllers, aoe's are enough of intruding on their turf (and warlocks are more about damage than status effects anyway). As a compromise I'd make it a sustain minor and any creature that starts its turn in those squares or moves into those squares takes damage equal to charisma modifier with the dragontouched pact (replacing the simple additional damage special)

In any event, pretty good start.

Scarab Sages

The key to new builds will be the little boost they get with specific powers. For instance, if a power does 1d6+1 damage, a pact might make the damage 1d6+int. So there is that to consider in addition to the pact power itself. There are two approaches: modify the existing powers to fit the new pact or develop new powers.

I, for one, am lazy and think modification is a good first start.

I know nothing of the dragonborn adept or whatever its called, but here is a suggestion, my 2cp if you will:

Dragon Pact:
A dragon pact warlock gains the use of the Dragons Breath power.

Dragons Breath
A warlock with a Dragon Pact gains a breath weapon as a STANDARD encounter power (just like a dragonborn breath weapon but a standard action rather than a minor - choose damage type, choose key ability).

Whenever a creature under the effect of a warlock's curse dies, all creatures (all enemies?) within burst 1 centered on the square of the cursed dead creature take Con (or whatever key ability is associated with the dragon pact) modifier damage of the same damge type as the warlocks dragons Breath.

So boom. The warlock remains a Striker (as it should), it "loses" the bonuses the other pacts get with certain powers, but gains a very powerful breath weapon encounter power that has a controller feel as well as a curse effect that has a very controller feel to it as well.

For even more funkiness, you could make the pact effect damage type specific. If the Dragon Pact warlock had acid damage type breath, rather than Key Ability damage in burst 1, make it ongoing 1 acid damage , save ends. Or if Cold, no damage but the burst creates a slow effect, save ends.

Power-balance-wise, this is a bit too good. So maybe the curse creates an immediate reaction power, burst 1, same damage, but a to-hit roll is needed for all enemies creatures in burst. Keep in mind, if its all creatures, that means allies too, so cursing an enemy that runs into melee may very well do more harm than good as it damages your allies.

In any event, it clearly needs tweeking, but makes for a great start.

Scarab Sages

ugh, apparently my edit came out as a double-post. Please ignore first post.

There is no restriction on using any power while in beast form as written. There is absolutely no reason to not be in beast form at all times. Unless I missed it, there is no text stating that you can ONLY use beast form powers in beast form.

whoopie, I am a wizard that looks like a bear.

Scarab Sages

Stedd Grimwold wrote:

Wildshape is essentially a minor action to change your appearance and give you access to most of your powers. In this respect it weakens druids with respect to wizards: I have to "waste" a minor action to get access to my powers.

The preview is short, and at first blush, the powers seem slightly more "powerful" than a wizards in terms of damage, but weaker in terms of AoE. So overall "balanced". But, to take a minor action to assume "beast form" (read: I look like a beast) in order to access those powers is a bit of a let-down.

To make matters worse, they include the helpful little description of a "primal beast" that's a mass of feathers, claws, beaks, fangs, etc. Basically an ephemeral beast that has no distinct shape.

Druids are thematic wizards that have to waste a minor action each encounter. Not being in beast form confers no advantage or trade-off so you'll stay in beast form.

Even if they include options through feats and PP's to make being in certain forms interesting, as a RAW core feature, Wildshape is a big waste of ink.

Scarab Sages

Wildshape is essentially a minor action to change your appearance and give you access to most of your powers. In this respect it weakens druids with respect to wizards: I have to "waste" a minor action to get access to my powers.

The preview is short, and at first blush, the powers seem slightly more "powerful" than a wizards in terms of damage, but weaker in terms of AoE. So overall "balanced". But, to take a minor action to assume "beast form" (read: I look like a beast) in order to access those powers is a bit of a let-down.

To make matters worse, they include the helpful little description of a "primal beast" that's a mass of feathers, claws, beaks, fangs, etc. Basically an ephemeral beast that has no distinct shape.

In short: Druids are thematic wizards that have to waste a minor action each encounter.

Scarab Sages

Psychic_Robot wrote:
Somebody specifically said that he didn't play D&D "RAW."

I would hazard a guess that NOBODY plays the RAW...the developer and designers posts about their games are a very salient case in point.

Scarab Sages

I wonder if there any "permanent" reagents. Something that has the same effect as a black pearl, maybe daily or an encounter use, but isn't consumed. It would have to fill a slot for balance I would imagine.

Scarab Sages

hogarth wrote:

Here's my rule of thumb:

If a small change makes some people happy and doesn't make anyone unhappy, make it.

I agree. But lets face it, we all have different ways to solve this issue, thus for your rule of thumb to work, ie "doesn't make anyone unhappy", we are talking about an individual group. We are in agreement.

Scarab Sages

hogarth wrote:

So how would it hurt you to have that loophole closed? It seems like your post just boils down to: "I don't care; I do my own thing anyways."

Ding! Ding! You are correct!

Wedge issues aren't really worth the effort to close in a formal way (ie for pathfinder community to waste time and effort on). There are bigger fish to fry.

To put it another way: If a game is "broken" by spellcasters planar binding efreeti and milking them for wishes, the problem lies with the players and DM, not the system. This issue is not a systemic issue. It's a wedge issue. Wedge issues are BEST resolved by each gaming group.

Here's a rule of thumb:

If a problem can be solved in a few minutes time by a gaming group, then it should be solved by a gaming group.

If a problem can NOT be solved by the gaming group but it can be solved by the community, then it should be solved by the gaming community (gaming boards, Organized play like pathfinder, etc)

If a problem cannot be solved by the gaming community, likely you have a systemic problem with the rule-set. It can only be solved by the designers.

Where does the efreet-trapping issue fall? IMO, each gaming group can best solve this issue.

I understand there is a desire to fix EVERYTHING with 3rd edition and put it in Pathfinder. That's a good thing, but we should be discussing systemic issues with the 3E rule-set and fix those FIRST, then the big issues likely to get in the way of organized gaming like pathfinder society, and then and only then , polish the system with "fixing" wedge issues.

All of this within the time alloted. I honestly don't think its possible to fix "everything" in the coming year. I would hate to see so much effort wasted on details and wedge issues and let some systemic issues slip by because there wasn't enough play-testing, energy, time, etc.

Scarab Sages

I guess I am old school. I don't DM by the RAW, that just makes the DM a computer to process results and AI of the mobs. No thanks. I'd rather play WoW.

Any wish that is granted by any means - Ring, Efreet, Deck of many things, magical water-spewing-duck fountain named Howard...whatever - in my campaigns are old school "DM wishes". They are not a 9th level wizard spell. Wishing for things that mimic the 9th level wizard spell is usually the safest. Artifacts and efreeti wishes always come with strings attached.

I don't let gamers who "game" the system at the expense of story into my games. So it's never a problem. But for those gamists out there, how in the heck is it fun to find and play the "I win" card. That's lame and unskilled. I can "game" with the best of them, but I would never stoop to such low tactics. I'll willingly "ignore" such loopholes and still mop the floor with the blood of whatever is thrown at me.

Scarab Sages


I am not a veteran, republican, nor democrat. I am a dungeons and dragons player. Here's how I see it:

The McCain aide used the stereotype of the basement-dwelling, D&D playing dork to ridicule and undermine "rickrocket's" blog. However, this stereotype is one perpetrated by none other than D&D players themselves.

When the cover the Player's Handbook 4th edition ANDY COLLINS name on it, a casual search about who these people are (follow the link) would suggest a certain left-leaning sympathy.

Using D&D players as a derogatory attack is certainly childish, but to the uninitiated, thats exactly what we the D&D community have perpetrated.

Offensive? Hardly.

I've been called a "D&D Nerd" for decades now. I choose not to empower people by being bothered by insults.

Scarab Sages

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Hey! Where are the wallpapers for Second Darkness? Chop chop people! How am I suppose to know what AP you guys are on if it's not staring me in the face when I start my computer?

kk, thanks.

Scarab Sages

Jas wrote:

I have not been playing or following D&D for many years. I've only just recently started playing 4.0 after coming back to D&D through Eberron. What is this "Points of Light" concept that keeps coming up?

It's a reference to the inaugural address of George H. Bush.

"I have spoken of a thousand points of light..."

nyuck nyuck

Scarab Sages

I assume we are talking about the "overgrowth" version not the "enrichment" version of the spell. Enrichment does not effect woodland stride. Overgrowth does.

In terms of how long, yeah, why not 1000 years? If the plants remain viable for that long, then yes. But all it takes is a fire to remove them or a work crew of laborers to clear it, its not really a problem. If the area in question is subject to extreme weather, perhaps you could have it slowly "degrade", but that hardly needs a rule...DM story goals are fine.

I would like to add one caveat: If the area in question already (naturally) had a speed impediment such that "Speed drops to 5 feet, or 10 feet for Large or larger creatures" I wouldn't have Plant Growth stack and therefore THAT area would be passable via woodland stride.

Scarab Sages

Wisdom is often that thing we as humans get with experience. Some of it is intuitive, there are wise children after all (that kid has an old soul).

I think in regards to Half-Orcs and Orcs, we should really focus on the wisdom that comes from experience. Another term for this is "Street Smart", "School of hard knocks", maybe even "common sense", etc.

Intelligence tells you that the wet feeling stuff falling on you is rain.
Wisdom tells you to always carry an umbrella when in Florida.

You might carry an umbrella because of an intuitive understanding of the cause and effect of umbrella's, rain, and the common weather patterns in Florida. You're not really conscious of this, you just do it. You are wise.

You might carry an umbrella because you spent a week in Florida getting soaked and vowed to always carry an umbrella when in Florida. You learned from experience. You are wise.

Scarab Sages

I've always house-ruled overall all attractiveness to be the average of ALL ability scores. This essentially means that NPCs are generally "average", Elites and PC are "above-average", and high level PCs with stat-boosting etc are down right yummy. If we are talking only physical beauty its the average of the 3 physical stats. Internal beauty, the average of all the mental stats.

High Strength doesn't necessarily mean huge, but muscle tone is attractive

High Constitution? Maybe its better to think of low constitution: Is the asthmatic with bad acne and bad allergies attractive? Not to denigrate those who fit the description, but lets face it, its not a plus.

High dexterity seems odd, but as a friend pointed out when we coming up with this stuff: Gymnasts are very dextrous and limber, as well as those girls in yoga and pilates...very attractive.

So the wizard with a str 8, dex 12, con 10 would be 10, "average" in terms of physical attractiveness. But his Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 12 would mean his "inner beauty" would be a 14, well above average. He would be plain looking but smart, sensitive, and confident. Average it all up and you get the total package, what you would consider after a first date: someone who is a 12, a little above average.

Scarab Sages

David Marks wrote:
Dennis da Ogre wrote:

I don't think I would pay $60/ year for 2 digital magazine subscriptions though. How much did Dragon and Dungeon cost previously? I thought it was less than $60 for the two for a physical copy shipped to your house.

Those concerns aside... overall this is good news.

I'm not sure about other people but I think I paid like $75 a year.

yes, it was more like $75 a year.

But I value the hard copy. I like to own "things", especially books. Without the hard copy, a drop from $75 to $60 is 20% discount. I personally feel that eliminating the costs any publisher pays for publishing a hard copy should be passed on to the consumer. 20% discount is simply not sufficient.

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