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Showing posts from 2011

Advanced Dungeons for Dimwits, 3.14th Edition

Character Generation- Pretend to be an Elf.Enter the Dungeon- Roll a six sided die.You fall in a pit and die.You get killed by a [monster]*.Waste time quoting Monty Python. Roll again.Injured. Roll again at -1.You survive the dungeon but don't level up. Roll again +1.You level up, congratulations! Add one to your level and enter a new dungeon.*- replace [monster] with the following depending on your level:1-3: Orc
4-9: Troll
10+: Demon

4e D&D Starter Set – Review

I've had a chance to take a good look at the starter set and it's left me with mixed emotions. On the plus side, I really liked the counters which have some really nice art and are sturdy- just like the included dungeon tiles. I also found the DM's book to be pretty well done. It has a nice selection of low level monsters and just enough info to run a game - if you've played D&D before.That brings me to the down side. The Starter Set is just woefully inadequate when it comes to actually being a starter set. I can't see how anyone who is new to rpg's would be able to take this boxed set and get near to playing what would be recognizable as D&D. It's not just that there's no character generation rules- other, better starter sets have done this before. This set is missing much more. What more do I expect? Examples, lots of examples and there are very few here. No combat examples. No example of play. The only real example is for a Skill …

The most iconic image of D&D…

has to be this cover of the AD&D 1st edition Player's Handbook.

There have been an amazing number of homages done to this image over there years. Here's the ones I could find. Are there any more?

Free 4e Adventures from WotC

Review of DCC #59 Mists of Madness

I wrapped up my second D&D 4e session in Goodman Games Mists of Madness adventure module last week. It's a full module by Harley Stroh that only costs $2 (disclaimer- I bought the pdf during a recent sale at rpgnow for even less) and is for 1st level parties which is just what I needed. It is advertised as being 32 pages long, but after subtracting the OGL and advertisements is only around 25 pages in length. The adventure follows a well worn plot as the party must defeat a band of evil cultists before they can summon a lich. WARNING- there be spoilers ahead.First the good parts. The interior art gives it a nice old-school flavor although I do miss the cover style that they used for their 3rd edition modules. The module details a ruined castle and its dungeons in a swamp that are pretty generic and are easily dropped into most any campaign setting. While the main plot of foiling the plans of cultists has been done to death, this one does have a clever twist to it by havi…

Quick Start Characters are for Suckers

The Quick Start rules in HackMaster Basic allow you to create characters very quickly (10-15 minutes), but the characters made just don't compare to scratch built characters using the full rules. Why? Simple, they don't spend all of their available build points- in most cases, not even close to all their build points. Here's the breakdown-Everyone starts out with 50bp. QS pc's all get a 50bp bonus for leaving their stats as rolled. 100bp total now. QS pc's are all human so every class costs 25 bp. So 75bp total. Every pc gets +2 stat points which costs 40bp. 35bp total.Ok, so every QS pc at this point has 35bp to spend. This is where they diverge.The Fighter spends 5bp on weapon proficiencies, 7bp (maximum) on 2 random skills, and 20bp for level one specialization in longsword. This only leaves him with 3bp left over. That's pretty fair.The real problem is with the other classes.The Cleric (True) spends 2bp on weapon proficiencies and 0bp on skills (all his sk…

How to disable all applications in Facebook

Tired of getting annoying Farmville requests from your stupid friends? Yeah you can hide requests from different apps and games one by one as they turn up, but wouldn't it be great if you could just disable them all, forever? Well, there is a way. Just follow these steps and you'll never be bothered with any of this stupid crap again. Bonus feature- it also seems to disable some of the advertisements in Facebook. I bet they don't realize that yet.Go to your Facebook page. (duh)Click on Account at the top right.Click on Privacy Settings.Where it says Apps and Websites, click Edit your settings.Where it says Apps you use, click Turn off all platform apps.Click the Turn Off Platform button.Enjoy your much less spammy Facebook account.

Your Character is Not a Special Snowflake

How special is your average D&D player character? Obviously above average, but what exactly does that mean? Is he or she one in a million? One in a thousand? I decided to put it to the test and find out.I wrote up a quick and simple program that randomly rolled (3d6) sets of stats which would compare them all and decide which one had the highest stats for a certain number of characters rolled. I then figured out the average point buy value for them by D&D 4e rules to see where that would put them.So, how special is your average character? The highest level test I ran was for 1 million pc's. The one in a million pc was a whopping 50 point buy character. What does a one in a million character look like? Here's one picked at random- 13 17 16 14 15 17. Pretty nice stats, eh?Ok, so my character isn't one in a million. He's still pretty special, right? Well, not really. I ran tests for a hundred thousand, ten thousand, a thousand, even one in a hundred; and they were…

Treasures from the past

I've found some more stuff from my old site that I've been able to recover, so expect some old posts to find their way here soon. To start things off, here are two java programs I created for D&D some years ago.
Dice Monkey - dice rollerTreasure Monkey - treasure generator for D&D 3eJust download to your computer and double click to run the program. If you have problems running it, you probably don't have Java installed (correctly) on your system. You can download the Java VM at

Gen Con 2011

Another Gen Con is over and I had an even better time than I had last year. Above is a pic of my youngest daughter and me in front of the Privateer Press booth in the dealer area. You can see the rest of my photos here. Most of them are of cool stuff I saw in the minis area.Due to some schedule conflicts and some change of interest, I ended up making a lot of changes to my registered events. I played two Flames of War games, Spacehulk, Wings of War, Munchkin Quest, and a Pathfinder delve game. I also got in some short demos of the new Legend of Drizzt game and the Lego Heroica game.
The Good Flames of War was so fun that I went back for a second game and was lucky enough to get a spot. The games were put on by the local gaming group Able Kompanie. They were very friendly and knowledgeable about FoW and had some great terrain and minis that really showcased the game in the best possible way. I picked up the Open Fire starter set and have resigned myself to spending too much money…

Stat Rolling and Power Level

I greatly prefer rolling up characters rather than using point buy systems or standardized arrays, but I still want characters to be reasonably balanced amongst themselves and against the opposition they will face. Many games like D&D and Pathfinder provide power level guidelines for use with point buying but don't offer much in the way of help when rolling dice for stats. So I whipped up a program to help me see how different stat rolling methods ranked in terms of power level.I used every dice rolling method I could think of that just used straight dice rolling or just dice plus or minus a set number. For power level comparisons, I used the point buy system and power levels given in Pathfinder. I did add two new levels to what they have- Gritty Fantasy (~5 points) and Super Hero Fantasy (~30 points).Hopefully, the Methods are self explanatory. The Ranges are the limits of scores possible. The Avg. Stat is the mean score you would expect to roll. The Deviation is the st…

PathFinder Point Buy Calculator

Figure out the point buy value of your character for the Pathfinder role playing game with this calculator.STR7891011121314151617180 Points0 DEX7891011121314151617180 CON7891011121314151617180 INT7891011121314151617180 WIS7891011121314151617180 CHA7891011121314151617180

Quick Tip: A substitute for 3d6

Do you just have one of those 7 dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d100, d12, d20) tubes and need to roll 3d6 (rolling up characters, playing GURPS, etc.)? Rolling 1d6 three times is lame and tedious. Just roll your d4, d6, and d8 together. You'll get the same result as using 3d6.

My first look at the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

The beta rules and Free RPG Day module have both been released now for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and I've seen enough to decide that it probably isn't for me. That's a bit sad as I've been enthusiastically following it's development for a while now. I do think it will probably do pretty well since it has superb art, nice production values, some nifty and interesting mechanics and will be strongly supported by Goodman Games modules.What puts me off of it? Here are the things I really don't like-Appendix N. As the game is supposed to be mainly based on them, I went back and read some of the old books referenced by Gygax in AD&D and I found that outside of Tolkien and Howard, there's not a whole lot that I really enjoy. My fantasy reading tastes and influences are usually pretty modern and the flavor of this game doesn't match up well enough with my tastes.The Adventures. More Dungeons? Even though I like dungeons, I was expecting something…

I hate Gamescience dice

I know this will get me thrown out of the old-school he-man munchkin hater's club, but I really dislike using those "precision" Gamescience dice. Yes, yes, I've seen Lou Zocchi's videos on why his dice are the best things since sliced bread. I've also read countless posts from gamers who love them. And now the DCC RPG practically requires you use them as only Gamescience produces most of the weird dice types needed to play.Well, I've tried to embrace them. I've bought three sets over the past couple of years and while researching how to buy the additional ones needed for the DCC RPG, I just recently dug them out again. Now I remember why I hardly ever use them. Here's the top 5 reasons why GS dice suck-They're expensive. They usually cost about 3 times as much as other rpg dice.If you go the cheaper route and buy the un-inked dice, they are a pain in the ass to ink yourself. I'm way too lazy for this and plus they never look as nic…

Going to Gencon

I registered for Gencon yesterday and survived the rush of event registration. I like to try out new games at conventions so pretty much everything I signed up for is new to me. Here's my schedule:Flames of War - The Battle for StalingradThu 2 PMTalismanThu 9 PMHackMaster - Not More Caves!Fri 8 AMSpace Hulk: Lost Hope Fri 1 PMKnights of the Dinner Live ReadingFri 6 PMSavage Worlds - Temple of the BeastmenSat 9 AMLegends of Anglerre - Dreams on Dragon IslandSat 4 PMMunchkin QuestSat 8 PMMonsterpocalypse How to Train Your MonsterSun 10 AMI hope to see you there!

Dice Probabilities in Savage Worlds

The odds in Savage Worlds are a little hard to decipher at first. This is mainly due to the fact that die rolls can "Ace". An Ace occurs when you roll the maximum number for that die type. When this happens you keep on rolling and total up the sums of all the rolls. For example, if you are roll a 6 on a d6, you get to roll again and total both rolls (if you happened to roll another 6, you can keep on rolling). To make this even more complicated, Wild Cards (pc's and powerful npc's) get to roll a "Wild Die" along with their Trait die and pick the best roll. This is almost always a d6. Extra's (most npc's and monsters) do not get to roll a Wild Die. This leads to some weird probabilities that you would not normally consider to be correct. Take a look at the tables below and you can see where the strange spots are. They usually occur where the maximum normal roll for a die type is. An example of this is that it is easier to hit a Target Number of 1…

What are those wandering monsters up to?

Roll 2d6. 2Returning to lair to heal up after a fight. (reduce hit points)3Fighting with another creature. (roll up another monster)4Returning to lair with prisoner. (roll up a prisoner)5Returning to lair with treasure. (roll treasure as if they were in their lair)6Just passing by on the way to somewhere else. (not looking for a fight, roll for reaction)7Defending territory. (warparty looking for invaders)8Hunting for food. (quiet, wary, and hard to surprise)9Chasing after another creature. (roll up another, weaker monster)10Running away from another creature. (roll up another, nastier monster)11Building new lair. (digging a hole, setting up camp, making a lot of noise)12Groggy from too much partying and looking for a place to sleep it off. (easy to surprise)

WFRP - One Roll Combat

Combat in WFRP uses a fairly easy system, but the number of die rolls and table look-ups can get rather tedious at times. For a successful hit there are 2 die rolls (roll to hit, roll damage) and you have to look up the hit location on a table. That's not so bad, but for a critical hit there are 3 rolls and 3 tables to consult. Add in the math necessary for figuring actual damage by subtracting the target's toughness and armor and it all gets a bit much to handle for 6 pcs and 8 beastmen late at night. Yeah, I know its still way simpler than <insert complicated game here>, but I'm stupid and I like simple. So here's what I came up with- combat that is resolved with 1 die roll and 2 tables max. And one table is so simple that its easily memorized. Here's how- Step 1: Roll <= WS to hit target on d100. (as per normal rules) Example- a pc with a WS of 35 rolls a 24 on a d100 and hits. Step 2: Find location of hit by comparing the second digit of the …

Cadaver Dog

Medium Undead
Hit Dice: 2d12 (13 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+3
Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d6+3 plus paralysis)
Full Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d6+3 plus paralysis)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Paralysis, trip
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., scent, undead traits
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +4
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 15, Con -, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Skills: Jump +6, Listen +4, Spot +3, Survival +1*
Feats: Track
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary or pack (3-8)
Challenge Rating: 1
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: 3 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment: -
Large, gaunt dogs with green glowing eyes.Cadaver dogs are created whenever wild dogs scavenge on the dead bodies of evil beings. They slowly become undead beings with a hunger for decaying flesh. Because of this, they are usually found at the sites of recent battles and graveyards. Combat
Normally cadaver dogs are content…

Creating a new monster in D&D the easy way

Creating a new monster for D&D can be rather complicated and time consuming. Building one from scratch means a lot of chart lookups and quite a bit of number crunching. While it can be fun to do, what if you either don't want to or don't have time to do all the work yourself? The easiest solution is to take the stats for a standard creature and just make a few tweaks. Viola, a new monster to trouble your players is born!I created the creature below to add to the free adventure module The Burning Plague. That adventure features a group of kobolds with their dire weasel pets. Now back when kobolds used to be little dog men maybe them having giant weasels as pets made sense. In 3rd edition, however, kobolds are little dragon men. I just can't picture them befriending mammals anymore. What they really need is a giant lizard to be their pet.The easiest way to do this was to simply change the dire weasel into a lizard. I just change the name and the description. I…

The Evolution of the Fighter in D&D - Take 2

Here's a new look at the how the Fighter in D&D has changed over the years. I took the same fighters from my first experiment and created a new test for them. This time instead of seeing how many goblins they can kill before dying, I test to see how dangerous is it for him to fight just one goblin (or in the case of 4e - four goblins minions at once).

The test combats are pretty simple. First, I roll for initiative to see who goes first. Then the fighter and his goblin opponent take turns trying to hit each other. The first one taken to zero hit points is the loser. To get a good average result, the tests for each edition are run 10,000 times. The total number of fighter deaths divided by the number of tests gives the percent chance of the fighter dying in a combat with a goblin. I also graphed out the average length of combat per edition as that was also of interest to me. Here are the results-
0e - the almost complete lack of stat bonuses coupled with low hit p…

The Evolution of the Fighter in D&D

This is a by-the-number comparison of your average first level Fighter found in the various versions of D&D. The ground rules followed for this comparison were: Human Fighter with the average stats that would be expected from using the standard stat generation method for a given edition. Stats were arranged in the same order for each fighter with Strength the highest stat and descending to Charisma with the lowest. Equipment would be long sword, shield, and the best armor (all AC's are stated as ascending AC's to make comparisons between editions easier) that average starting money would allow. After generating the fighters for each edition, they would then be paired up against an unending stream of Goblins (also from that edition), one at a time, to see how effective they were. The tests were run 1000 times each in a javascript program.First up, the fighter from the little brown books-OD&D Fighter
Stats - rolled 3d6 with highest roll in Str and then descending in…