Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A reader asks about running 4e

"Hi Simon,

I been browsing your blogs and post on 4e. Congrats on completing the 4e campaign, must have been rewarding. I am planning to start one but having difficulties adjusting to the playstyle. I play mainly BD&D style dungeoncrawls/hexcrawls. Do you have any tips on making 4e adventures?"

My answer:

Hi - I had some blog posts:

4e doesn't do crawl type exploration well. I find it works best to think in terms of strong characters and scenes, the 4e DMG advice is actually good for the 4e game if understood in context, so do go over that. Battles are best as big epic affairs, but you don't need to railroad PCs into encounters - I found a few Paizo battle maps and perhaps 2-3 different enemy encounter groups lets me largely improv a 4e session, with battles occurring naturally. A big dungeon is I think best skipped over the way Peter Jackson filmed trekking through Moria, rather than room by room/corridor by corridor movement, and go to a dramatic 'bang' such as the orcs being alerted when the PCs are deep in the dungeon. It works well as a Hollywood fantasy combat scene game. But there should be non-combat interpersonal scenes too. I don't recommend Skill Challenges as written but the idea of a dramatic non-combat scene with opposition & stakes works well.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

5e NPC Stats Compilation

Just did this compilation for my own use, thought others might find it useful to complement the MM NPCs. They're arranged by ascending hit dice.

5e NPCs

HD 3

Medium humanoid (human)
Armor Class: 17 (+3 DEX +2 shield +1 torc & ring, +1 psychic), 15 no shield
Hit Points: 17 (3d8+3)
Proficiency +2
Speed: 30 ft.
Strength 11 (+0), Dexterity 16 (+3), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 10 (+0), Wisdom 12 (+1), Charisma 14 (+2)
Skills: Athletics +2, Intimidation +4, Perception +3
Passive perception: 13
Challenge: 1 (200 XP)

Martial Advantage: Once per turn the guard can deal an extra 7 (2d6) damage to a creature she hits with a melee attack if that creature is within 5 feet of an amazon guard's ally that isn’t incapacitated.

Longsword: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage, 14 (1d8+2d6+3) with martial advantage.
Longbow: Ranged Weapon Attack +5 to hit, one target. Hit 6 (1d8+3) piercing damage.
Amazon Axe (finesse greataxe): +5 to hit, reach 5 ft, one target. Hit: 9 (1d12+3) slashing damage, 16 (1d12+2d6+3) with martial advantage. SA: Lunging strike - the amazon can extend Reach to 10' when attacking with the Amazon Axe. Doing so grants Combat Advantage until the start of her next turn.

Armor Class 17 (breastplate, shield)
Hit Points 17 (3d8 + 3)
Speed 30 ft.
Proficiency +2
STR 14 (+2) DEX 12 (+1) CON 13 (+1) INT 9 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 11 (+0)
Skills Perception +2
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages any one language (usually Common)
Challenge 3/4 (150 XP)

Martial Advantage: Once per turn, the Warrior can deal an extra 7 (2d6) damage to a creature it hits with a weapon attack if that creature is within 5 feet of an ally that isn’t incapacitated.

Ghinoran Spear (1-h reach 10' only) or Sword (reach 5'). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 10 ft or 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

Armor Class 14 (chain shirt*, DEX). 16 with shield.
Hit Points 17 (3d8 + 3)
Speed 30 ft.
Proficiency +2
STR 14 (+2) DEX 12 (+1) CON 13 (+1) INT 10 (+0) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 9 (-1)
Skills Perception +2
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages Ghinoran Common
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)

Martial Advantage: Once per turn, the Marine can deal an extra 7 (2d6) damage to a creature it hits with a weapon attack if that creature is within 5 feet of an ally that isn’t incapacitated.

Typical Weapons
Longsword ATT +4 dam 1d8+2
Sea Axe ATT +4 dam 1d12+2
Heavy Crossbow ATT +3 dam 2d10+1/1d10+1 range 100'/400', reload 3r

*Can be removed in 2 actions (belt off, shirt over head) giving some chance of surviving a fall into the ocean.

Armor Class 10
Hit Points 17 (3d8+3)
Healing Dice 1 (d8+1)
Speed 30 ft.
Proficiency +2
STR 10 (+0) DEX 11 (+0) CON 12 (+1) INT 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Medicine +4 Religion +3
Senses passive Perception 12
2nd level Clerical spellcaster. Spell save DC 12, +4 to hit.
Cantrips: 3
light (20' bright+20' dim, 1 hr)
thaumaturgy (30', 1 minute, 1 sign of Mitra's power per casting, max 3, action to dismiss)
sacred flame (flame descends on target in 60' range, target make DC 12 Dex save or 1d8 radiant dmg)
1st level (3 slots):
bless (up to 3 allies get +1d4 att/save for 1 minute)
cure wounds (touch heals 1d8+2 hp)
sanctuary (bonus action, wards 1 creature for 1 minute, attacker must make DC 12 WIS save to target, choose new target, or lose the attack)

Staff, ATT +2, 1d6 dmg.

Turn Undead: 1/short rest
Action: present holy symbol.
If succeed, Undead within 30' are turned, fleeing for 1 minute (PHB 59).
Medium humanoid
Armor Class 9
Hit Points 18 (8,2,8 hd3d8) Healing Dice: 1 (d8)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 7 (-2) DEX 8 (-1) CON 10 (0) INT 11 (0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 15 (+2)
Proficiency +2
Good saves WIS, CON
Passive Perception 14

Turn Undead: 1/short rest
If succeed, Undead within 30' are turned, fleeing for 1 minute (PHB 59).

Spellcasting. She is a 3rd-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks).
She typically has the following Cleric spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will):
light (20' bright+20' dim, 1 hr)
sacred flame (flame descends on target in 60' range, target make DC 12 Dex save or 1d8 radiant dmg)
thaumaturgy (30', 1 minute, 1 sign of Mitra's power per casting, max 3, action to dismiss)
Spells Prepared: 4
1st level (4 slots):
cure wounds (touch heals 1d8+2 hp, 2d8+2 with level 2 slot)
sanctuary (bonus action, wards 1 creature for 1 minute, attacker must make DC 12 WIS save to target, choose new target, or lose the attack)
2nd level (2 slots):
lesser restoration (creature touched - cures disease, blindness, deafness, paralysation, poison)
hold person (r. 60', target DC 12 WIS save or paralysed, target can save at end of each turn, requires concentration to maintain)
Consecration: 2nd level Ritual, prevents animation of corpses, allows a font to be used to make holy water, can make a single couple (male & female, same species, no closer than second cousins, adolescent or older, etc...) legally married in the sight of Mitra, etc. Requires 5gp of burnt incense or a vial of holy water per 30'x30' area, and takes 10 minutes per area consecrated.

Staff Melee Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d6-2 bludgeoning damage.
Unarmed: 0 damage

Shepherdess, Experienced
Medium humanoid
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 13 (3d8) healing die: 1 (d8)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 8 (-1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0) INT 10 (+0) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 13 (+1)
Proficiency +2
Good saves DEX, CON
Senses passive Perception 12
Sling. Missile Weapon Attack 30'/120': +4 to hit, one target.
Hit: 1d4+2 bludgeoning damage.
Unarmed: 0 damage

Sheep Dog:
Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 16 (3d8 + 3) healing die: 1 (d8+1)
Speed 40 ft.
STR 12 (+1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 12 (+1) INT 3 (−4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (−2)
Skills Perception +3*, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages — *woof!*

*Keen Hearing and Smell. Advantage on Wisdom
(Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Pack Tactics. Advantage on attack rolls against a
creature if at least one of the wolf’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Critical hit: 4d4+2, and if the target is a small or medium creature it is
knocked prone.

Temple Guard Veteran
Medium humanoid
Armor Class: 18 (4 breastplate, 2 shield, 2 DEX); or 16 (4 breastplate, 2 DEX)
Hit Points: 17 (3d8+3)
Proficiency +2
Speed: 30 ft.
Strength 16 (+3), Dexterity 14 (+2), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 8 (-1), Wisdom 12 (+1), Charisma 9 (-1)
Skills: Athletics +5, Intimidation +1, Perception +3
Passive perception: 13
Challenge Rating: 1/2 (100 XP)

Deadly Strike: Once per turn the temple guard can do 1 extra damage die on a melee weapon hit (included in stats).


• Longsword: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8+3) slashing or piercing damage.
• Shortbow: Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage.

HD 4

Elf Scout, female
Medium humanoid
Armor Class: 13 (+3 DEX)
Hit Points: 22 (4d8+4)
Proficiency +2
Speed: 40 ft unarmoured (30 ft. standard)
Strength 8 (-1), Dexterity 16 (+3), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 13 (+1), Wisdom 14 (+2), Charisma 10 (+0)
Skills: Survival +6 (Expertise), Perception +4, Kno (Nature) +3
Passive perception: 14
Challenge Rating: 3/4 (150 XP)

She can make 2 longbow attacks or 1 dagger attack per attack action.

Longbow ATT +5 dam: 1d8+3 (2 attacks)
Dagger ATT +5 dam: 1d4+3 (1 attack)


HD 5

Chosen Axeman
Medium humanoid
Armor Class 12 (unarmoured defence)
Hit Points 32 (5d8 + 10)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 15 (+2) DEX 11 (+0) CON 14 (+2) INT 10 (+0) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 10 (+0)
Skills Intimidation +2
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Altanian, Common
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Pack Tactics. The Axeman has advantage on a melee attack roll against
a creature if at least one of the Axeman’s allies is within 5 feet of
the creature, and the ally isn’t incapacitated.

Multiattack. The Axeman makes two melee attacks.

Great Axe. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 8 (1d12 + 2) slashing damage.
Javelin (2) Missile Weapon Attack +4 to hit,
Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Dwarven Elite Clan Guard
Medium humanoid
Armor Class: 18 (plate)
Hit Points: 32 (5d8+10)
Proficiency +2
Speed: 25 ft.
Strength 16 (+3), Dexterity 10 (+0), Constitution 14 (+2), Intelligence 10 (0), Wisdom 11 (+0), Charisma 10 (0)
Skills: Intimidation +2, Insight +2, Perception +2
Passive perception: 12
Challenge Rating: 2 (450 XP)

Attack - the Clan Guard makes two attacks per attack action.

The Clan Guard can make an Opportunity Attack with halberd against any foe entering its reach.

Halberd (reach 10') Attack +5 damage: 1d10+3

Ranger, female
Medium humanoid (human)
Armor Class: 14 (12 studded leather, +2 DEX)
Hit Points: 28 (5d8+5)
Proficiency +2
Speed: 30 ft.
Strength 9 (-1), Dexterity 14 (+2), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 12 (+1), Wisdom 14 (+2), Charisma 15 (+2)
Skills: Survival +4, Perception +4, Nature +2, Stealth +4
Passive perception: 14
Challenge Rating: 1 (200 XP)

She can make 2 longbow attacks or 2 shortsword attacks per attack action. She can use a Bonus action to make a third shortsword attack.

Longbow ATT +4 dam: 1d8+2 (2 attacks)
Shortsword ATT +4 dam: 1d6+2 (3 attacks)

Favoured Enemy: Gnolls, Humans. Advantage on Survival rolls to track and Int rolls to recall knowledge. Knows Gnoll-tongue as well as Common.
Natural Explorer - Plains.
Fighting Style - Two Weapon.

Equipment includes Explorer's pack

HD 7

Sorceress, Experienced
Armor Class 14 with mage armour, 11 without
Hit Points 31 (7d8) Healing Dice: 3 (d8)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 8 (-1) DEX 12 (+1) CON 10 (+0) INT 15 (+2) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 17 (+3)
Good saves INT, WIS
Proficiency +2
Perception +1 Arcana +4
Passive Perception 11
Spellcasting. She is a 5th level spellcaster (Sorcerer spells). Her spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks).
Cantrips (4)
Dancing Lights (conc, phb 230)
Fire Bolt (120', att +5, 1d10 fire damage)
Light (20' r, +20' r dim)
Mage Hand (r 30', action to control, 1 minute, 10 lb weight)
Spells Known (4) Spell slots: 4 1st 2, 2nd
1st level
1. Magic Missile (120', 3 force darts, 1d4+1 damage each), 4 at 2nd
2. Mage Armour (touch, unarmoured target gets AC 13+DEX for 8 hrs)
3. Burning Hands (15' cone, targets make DC 13 Dex save or take 3d6 fire damage, half damage if save, ignites flammable objects), 4d6 at 2nd
2nd level
1. Detect Thoughts (phb 231 - surface thoughts/wis save dc 13 if deep probe, target knows)
3rd Level

SA: liable to wild magic surge, phb pg 104

HD 9
Elf Mage
Medium humanoid (Elf)
Armor Class 13 (16 with mage armor)
Hit Points 40 (9d8) Proficiency +3
Speed 30 ft.
STR 8 (−1) DEX 16 (+3) CON 10 (0) INT 18 (+4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 13 (+1)
Saving Throws Int +7, Wis +4
Skills Arcana +7, Persuasion +4, Perception +4
Senses passive Perception 14. Darkvision 60'.
Languages Common Elf Orc Goblin
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
Fey Ancestry. Advantage vs Charm & cannot be Sleeped.

Spellcasting. The elf mage is a 9th-level spellcaster. Its
spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 15, +7 to
hit with spell attacks). The mage typically has the following wizard
spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): fire bolt, light, mage hand, prestidigitation
1st level (4 slots): detect magic, mage armor, magic
missile, shield
2nd level (3 slots): misty step, suggestion
3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, fireball, fly
4th level (3 slots): greater invisibility, ice storm
5th level (1 slot): wall of stone OR dominate person

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or
range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage.

HD 11
Dwarf Hero
AC 18 (half plate 15, +2 shield, +1 dex), 16 no shield.
HP 72 (11d8+22) Healing Dice 5 (d8+2)
Speed 25'
STR 16 (+3) DEX 12 (+1) CON 14 (+2) INT 12 (+1) WIS 8 (-1) CHA 13 (+1)
Proficiency +3
Good Saves STR, CON.
Perception +2 (11)
CR 4
Multiattack: He makes two warhammer attacks.
+1 Warhammer: ATT +7, dam 1d8+6 blunt damage. x2
Dwarven Heavy Crossbow: ATT +4, range 100'/400', dam 2d10+1/1d10+1, 2 rounds to reload.
Bolts: 12

Elf Knight
Medium humanoid (Elf), any alignment
Armor Class 18 (+2 studded leather, +4 DEX, +2 shield)
Hit Points 72 (11d8 + 22) Proficiency +3
Speed 30 ft.
STR 14 (+2) DEX 18 (+4) CON 14 (+2) INT 11 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 13 (+1)
Saving Throws Con +5, Wis +3
Athletics +5 Acrobatics +7 History +3 Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13. Darkvision 60'.
Languages Common, Elf
Challenge 6 (2300 XP)
Fey Ancestry. Advantage vs Charm & cannot be Sleeped.
Indomitable. The knight cannot be Frightened.
Duelist. +2 melee damage with single 1-handed weapon.
Duelist Strike: +13 (3d8) damage 1/round with a melee attack vs a single target with no adjacent allies.
Action Surge. The knight may take an extra Action, once per Short Rest.

Multiattack. The knight makes two melee or ranged attacks.

+2 Rapier. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one
target. Hit: 12 (1d8 + 8) piercing damage, 25 (4d8+8) with Duelist Strike.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack +7 to hit, one target. Hit 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage.

High Priest hd 11
Medium humanoid (any race), any alignment
Armor Class 20 (+5 from +1 breastplate, +2 DEX, +1 ring of protection, +2 from shield)
Hit Points 75 (11d8 + 22)
Proficiency +4
Speed 30 ft.
STR 10 (+0) DEX 14 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 12 (+1) WIS 18 (+4) CHA 16 (+3)
Saves WIS +8 CHA +7
Skills Medicine +7, Persuasion +7, Religion +8
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages any two languages
Divine Eminence. As a bonus action, the priest can expend a spell slot to cause its melee weapon attacks to magically deal an extra 10 (3d6) radiant damage to a target on a hit. This benefit lasts until the end of the turn. If the priest expends a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the extra damage increases by 1d6 for each level above 1st.
Divine Intervention 11%, 1/week.

Spellcasting. The high priest is an 11th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). The high priest has the following cleric spells prepared:

Cantrips (at will): guidance, light, sacred flame, thaumaturgy, spare the dying

Spells (15)
1st level (4 slots): cure wounds, healing word, bless,
2nd level (3 slots): lesser restoration, spiritual weapon
3rd level (3 slots): dispel magic, mass healing word, spirit guardians, revivify
4th level (3 slots): Death Ward, Divination, Freedom of Movement
5th level (2 slots): Flame Strike, Commune
6th level (1 slot): Blade Barrier


+1 Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d6+3 piercing damage.

HD 12

Avenger, Experienced
AC 15 (chain shirt 13, +2 dex)
HP 78 (12d8+24) Healing Dice 6 (d8+2)
Speed 30'
STR 16 (+3) DEX 15 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 11 (0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)
Proficiency +3
Good Saves WIS, CON.
Perception +5 (15)
Stealth +8 (spec)
Survival +5
CR 4

SA: Deadly Killer - he does +1d6 damage with his chosen weapons.
SA: Multiattack - He makes 2 attacks per attack action.

+1 Greatsword: ATT +7 damage 14 (3d6+4), two attacks.
6 Throwing Blades (finesse weapon): ATT +6 damage 10 (2d6+3), two attacks. Range 20'/60'.

Equipment: wilderness survival gear, 2 potions of healing (2d4+2), 6d6gp.

HD 14

Medium humanoid (human)
Armor Class 13 (15 with mage armor) (10/13, +2 DEX +1 ring of protection)
Hit Points 69 (14d8+14)
Proficiency +4
Speed 30 ft.
STR 8 (−1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 12 (+1) INT 14 (+2) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 20 (+5)
Saving Throws Wisdom +7 Charisma +9, +1 to all with ring
Skills Arcana +10 (Expertise), Persuasion +13 (Expertise), Perception +7.
Senses passive Perception 17
Challenge 8

Spellcasting. She is a 14th level Bard-list spellcaster, spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks).

Cantrips (4): friends, light, mage hand, mending

She knows the following 18 spells:
1st level (4 slots): Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Mage Armor, Healing Word
2nd level (3 slots): Detect Thoughts, Suggestion
3rd level (3 slots): Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Fireball, Revivify, Speak with Dead
4th level (3 slots): Compulsion
5th level (2 slots): Scrying, Raise Dead
6th level (1 slot) Mass Suggestion, Globe of Invulnerability
7th level (1 slot) Fire Storm (as Sorcerer), Teleport

SA: Song of Rest +5 hp recovery on short rest to those who can hear it.

MI: d4+4 potions of healing, Ring of Protection +1 AC & Saves, 1d4+1 doses of Keoghtom's Ointment

Amazon Weaponmaster
Medium humanoid (human)
Armor Class 18 (11 torc & ring, +4 DEX, +2 shield, , +1 psychic), 16 no shield
Hit Points 92 (14d8 + 28)
Proficiency +3
Speed 30 ft.
STR 12 (+1) DEX 18 (+4) CON 14 (+2) INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)
Saving Throws Dex +7, Wis +3
Athletics +4 Acrobatics +7 History +3 Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13.
Challenge 7

Duelist. +2 melee damage with single 1-handed weapon.
Martial Advantage: 1/turn she can do +14 (+4d6) damage to a creature she hits with a melee attack, if that creature is within 5 feet of an ally of hers that isn’t incapacitated.

Multiattack. She makes two melee or ranged attacks.
+1 Rapier. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one
target. Hit: 11 (1d8 + 7) piercing damage, 25 (+4d6) 1/turn with Martial Advantage.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack +7 to hit, one target. Hit 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage.
HD 16

Pirate Queen
AC 15, AC 18 vs one melee attack each round that would otherwise hit (Reaction: Parry)
Hit Points 120 (16d8+48)
Proficiency +3
Speed 40' when unarmoured, otherwise 30'
STR 12 (+1)
DEX 18 (+4)
CON 16 (+3)
INT 12 (+1)
WIS 12 (+1)
CHA 16 (+3)
Saving Throws DEX +7 CON +6 WIS +4
Skills Athletics +4 Acrobatics +7 Intimidation +6
Passive Perception 14

Pirate's Defence: + 1 AC when unarmoured
Brave: advantage on saving throws vs being Frightened
Slayer: + one damage die with any weapon (included)
Parry: Reaction, +3 AC vs one melee attack each round that would otherwise hit

Multiattack: She makes 3 melee attacks.

Cutlass: ATT +7 dam 13 (2d8+4), 1-handed.
Boat Spear: ATT +7 dam 13 (2d8+4), 2-handed, reach 10'. ATT+9 vs sea monsters!
Dirty Kick: ATT +7 dam dam 9 (2d4+4). A Medium or smaller humanoid creature must make a DC 15 STR saving throw or be either knocked prone or pushed 5' (Sarene's choice).

HD 18

Barbarian Hero
Medium humanoid
Armor Class 14 (dex, unarmoured toughness)
Hit Points 134 (18d8 + 54)
hd 9 (d12+3)
Speed 40 ft.
STR 20 (+5) DEX 12 (+1) CON 17 (+3) INT 9 (−1) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 12 (+1)
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages Common
Challenge 7
Proficiency +3

Multiattack. He makes two melee attacks.
Berserk. On the second & subsequent rounds of combat, he can make a third attack as a bonus action. Suffers 1 level of exhaustion, recover through short rest 3/day.

+1 Greataxe. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one
target. Hit: (15) 1d12 + 9 slashing damage (+5 STR +3 Rage +1 magic), crit (28) 3d12+9.

Javelin (2), Missile Weapon Attack +8 to hit, Hit: 1d6+8 piercing damage, crit 3d6+8.
HD 20

Barbarian Great Warlord
Great Warlord
Medium humanoid
Armor Class 17 (+2 dex, +5 unarmoured toughness)
Hit Points 190 (20d8 +100)
Proficiency +4
Speed 40 ft.
STR 20 (+5) DEX 14 (+2) CON 20 (+5) INT 12 (+1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)
Saves STR +9 CON +9 WIS +5
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Altanian, Common
Challenge 10

Danger Sense - Advantage on DEX saves
Feral Instinct - Advantage on Initiative rolls

Multiattack. The Great Warlord makes two melee attacks & 1 bonus melee attack.

Javelin (2) Missile Weapon Attack +9 to hit,
Hit: 1d6+5 piercing damage.

Yusan - Sword of Bondorr
+2 Greatsword, Dragonslayer. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2d6+10 slashing damage (+5 STR +3 Rage +2 magic) (3 attacks) (crit 6d6+10)
Sword does +3d6 damage vs dragons and dragon-blooded (Orichalans etc).
The sword when drawn gives its wielder immunity to enchantment/charm effects.

Minars Rapak - Axe of Minars
+1 Altanian War Axe, 10' reach & Polearm Master.
Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft, one target. Hit: 2d12+9 slashing damage (2 attacks), 2d4+9 blunt damage (bonus attack).
Opportunity Attack on enemy entering Reach.

Knight Commander
Medium humanoid (human)
Armor Class 22 (+1 full plate & +1 shield), AC 19 no shield.
Hit Points 150 (hd 20d8+60)
Speed 30 ft.
PB +4
STR 20 (+5) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 12 (+1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 15 (+2)
Saving Throws Con +7, Wis +4
Skills Athletics +9 History + 5 Bluff +6 Persuasion +6 Intimidate +6
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common
Challenge 11

Double damage dice with any weapon
Crit on 19-20
Brutal Critical. +2 dice
Brave. The knight has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Duelist: +2 damage with 1-handed melee weapon.

Multiattack. The knight makes three attacks per attack action.

+1 Longsword, three attacks, Attack +12 to hit (PB 4, +5 STR, +1 magic, +2 leadership).
Hit: (17) 2d8+8 (+5 STR +2 duellist +1 magic), crit 19-20 for (35) 6d8+8.

+1 Longbow, three attacks, Attack +10 to hit (PB 4, +3 DEX, +1 magic, +2 leadership)
Hit: (13) 2d8+4 (+3 DEX +1 magic), crit 19-20 for (31) 6d8+4

Leadership (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). For 1 minute, the knight can utter a special command or warning whenever the knight himself or a nonhostile creature that it can see within 30 feet of it makes an attack roll or a saving throw. The creature can add +2 to its roll provided it can hear and understand the knight. A creature can benefit from only one Leadership bonus at a time. This effect ends if the knight is incapacitated.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My Shattered Star/Runelords mash-up campaign

Game blog is here:

In previous campaigns (1) running Rise of the Runelords, party TPK'd in Book 1 and
Sandpoint destroyed (2) Curse of the Crimson Throne completed.

I started off the campaign with the premise from SS1 Shards of Sin, the PCs are Pathfinders seeking to recover the Sihedron shards. But at the same time one of the Runelords has awoken and is growing in power per RotR. After SS1 and SS2 the PCs were sent by Sheila Heidmarch to Sandpoint
region to investigate the Skinsaw Murders.

Idea is basically to interweave the quest for the Sihedron (SS) with the rise of Karzoug
(RR). The way SS is structured, SS1-5 are necessary with SS6 optional, whereas with RR the connections are pretty loose and I can leave out material but would probably want to use RR5 & RR6
as a climax.

My reason for doing it like this was that I found Crimson Throne a bit railroady and
constraining. Using two APs lets me open things up and get more of a living world feel. Also I want to slow the pace down, especially in the mid levels (running CotCT in Pathfinder the PCs were levelling every 2 sessions, doubling in power every 4 sessions).

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?489269-Actual-play-experience-with-5e-XP-system-does-speed-of-progression-change-at-11th-level/page3#ixzz4LXKcgOQU

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Conversation with JesterRalin - On Running Multiple Campaigns

From http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?34503-quot-an-ancient-evil-has-awoken-quot-or-the-Big-Threat-plot-device&p=898663#post898663
Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post
Side note: I'm reading your blogs (I pay closer attention to SS campaign), and I must say that I find it quite impressive that you manage to control 4 quite difficult and complicated campaigns at once.
Wow. Well done. I'm flattered. 
4 campaigns at once is really too many I think; I'm planning to rest the weekly online Ghinarian Hills one (5e S&S) for a bit until I can conclude the fortnightly Loudwater (4e Epic) one in August. I can't rest my weekly Mentzer Classic Karameikos game since I love the players too much & my son plays in it & would kill me.  Also one of the players is a brilliant instigator, her renegade Claudia Morrigan Thief PC is returning with plans to wreak horrible revenge on erstwhile Cleric PC comrade Roseanna 'the White Dame' and I'm keen to see how that plays out. My 5e Shattered Star game is trucking along nicely fortnightly, wisest thing there is not to mess with it.

To the extent I have a secret for running 3-4 games, it's minimal prep - only the Pathfinder AP ones ever take much work. Taking good post-session notes is the main thing I do. Generally it's just as easy to create material at the table as beforehand, and simple published adventures (eg Basic Fantasy stuff) make just as good a canvas as complicated ones.

Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post
It might be only me, and I'm not particularly resourceful kind of guy, but still, 4 full-scale campaigns at once... Minimal preps and simple notes can't be the complete answer - the amount of elements, plot seeds, NPCs, items, places, not to mention ideas about where to push the story next must be really staggering.

I'd appreciate learning that your memory is far from "common level" and/or you posses great multitasking capabilities. If not, then I'll have to rethink my opinion about my own Gamemastery.
Hah. My memory is crap!  I often ask players to remind me of stuff; or in the online game minutes pass while I go look stuff up (usually stats). There's a lot of duck-paddling going on too. 
A few good resources are important - for Wilderlands that's the Ghinarian Hills campaign page and the NPC stats blog. For Karameikos it's GAZ 1 Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Plus published old school modules for both, simpler the better. The d6 is my friend, rolling to see if something happens - on a '6' X happens, which might be a wandering monster table roll but equally well could be the Griffon Riders of Highaven swooping in to aid the heroes' battle, or interception by the undead war fleet of Neo-Nerath - whatever looks plausible. 
There is a lot of not sweating the small stuff, plus a lot of "God I wish I'd taken 30 minutes to do some prep before running this session". 

Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post
the amount of elements, plot seeds, NPCs, items, places, not to mention ideas about where to push the story next must be really staggering...

...great multitasking capabilities...
I guess I'm quite good at multitasking, which really means "do X quickly, then stop doing X and do Y" - and only do as much as you need (I usually do too little & too late). I do very little 'push the story', I have some very very broad general ideas about enemy threats, but the main trick is getting into the head of enemy NPCs so they act and react naturalistically in the moment. This means the players are often taken by surprise - the antagonists' agendas rarely focus around the PCs so they often act unpredictably, in pursuit of their own goals. Villains don't just sit there, but neither do I have piles of notes on what they'll do next, I have a very simple basic idea of what eg Warlord Yusan wants and what he'll do to get it.

Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post
I agree that all that helps - a lot, especially helpful, forgiving players are godsend. Still, impressive achievement.

This isn't an empty flattery, I know what I'm talking about: I ran SS for PFRPG, an additional SF scenario and participated as a player in one more, and while none was neither particularly detailed nor complicated, it was enough to keep me occupied for a time being and deplete my creative energies a bit.
Shattered Star AP is nice - plays much better than it reads - and blending it with Rise of the Runelords AP will keep it fresh for me, I know upfront I'm not likely to use everything (eg might never use Book 6). Crimson Throne AP was really tough though; read well but really hard to run. Running SS in 5e so I know to ignore most of what's in the stat blocks helps a lot. I am feeling depleted since restarting Loudwater though (plus my non-gaming social life is getting busy) so planning to rest the Wilderlands campaign after one more session. That will leave me with 3 games, 1 weekly & 2 alternate fortnightly, which has been ok so far. I think I'm going to try to keep it to maximum 3 campaigns in future.

 Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post
Out of curiosity: what do you feel is the biggest challenge in PFRPG -> D&D 5th conversion? Aside of numbers, of course.
Grabbing an appropriate monster stat block out of the 5e MM. Sometimes the 5e version is pathetically weak, eg the lemures in book 1 of SS. A bit of variation is ok but a whole dungeon level of trivially weak critters got the players complaining. So I hit em with an ooze/hellhound combo and nearly killed one of them, they shut up then. 
In general running SS in 5e has been far far easier than running Crimson Throne with Pathfinder. Paizo's tendency to include obscure monsters from Bestiary #5 without bothering with a PF statblock is annoying, considering how much space they waste on other stuff. Eg the Fiendish Seugathi in book 2 has no parrallel in any D&D creature. But this is still a minor issue compared to the brain-scrambling effect of trying to run a 3-page 3e/PF stat block off the page in Pathfinder rules.

Quote Originally Posted by JesterRaiin View Post

Well, they have to justify their 99$ worth yet-another-monster-pack books somehow. 

I think I've seen a fanmade attempt to create enemy tables for PFRPG, 3,5 some OSR (I don't recall its title) and most recently 5th. It was a huge Excel spreadsheet where you could select a creature from one system and see some "close enough" alternatives for other systems. Wasn't perfect, but worked just fine. I wonder whether the project continues...
I generally just pick the closest with similar CR. So eg I use 5e Black Pudding stats where the PF adventure says Gray Ooze, because 5e Gray Oozes have a crappy CR and 5e Black Pudding has a similar CR to PF Gray Ooze. Last session PCs fought a Cave Giant 'CR 6, see monster book XX' - I just looked for a 5e giant with similar CR and decided the 5e MM CR 7 stone giant was close enough for my 5 PC, 5th level group. I could have used hill giant stats if my group was weak.

I think in future I may just substitute entire monsters, eg that CR 8 Seugathi could have been any old demon or devil of similar CR. The trick is to select a monster of similar-ish CR, rather than one that looks the same but is vastly weaker or tougher.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Progression Rate and XP

I'm running Classic, which is very similar to 2e except that the XP to level requirements top out at about half those of 1e/2e, so eg a Fighter needs 120,000 to level not 250,000 and a Wizard needs 150,000 not 300,000. The Classic Rules Cyclopedia recommends 5 sessions to level (2e I recall says 10 sessions?) which I think is a good aim point and is midway between 2e and 3e-4e-5e's indicated 2-3 sessions/level. RC suggests handing out enough gold that PCs get 20% of XP from the monsters, 80% from gold. I can't see any real reason to hand out artificially inflated amounts of gold, so instead I increase monster XP, give normal gold XP, give quest and discretionary award XP - the RC recommends these awards be 1/20 the amount needed to level, again about half the recommended amount for such awards in 3e/4e/5e.

I noticed that I could take 20-30 minutes calculating XP and it would come out within a couple hundred of what I'd have given as an arbitrary session award (eg 20,220 calculated vs 20,000 I'd have just handed out), so now sometimes I do arbitrary awards BUT I periodically do the full calculation to make sure I'm not drifting/inflating awards. I'm aiming for around 20,000-25,000 XP for a successful session, varying from maybe 8-10,000 for a light session up to around 30-35,000 for something really big. That way the PCs are leveling up about every 5-8 sessions of play currently; later as they get higher level the awards will increase somewhat and progression rate will likely increase a bit.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?485226-Leveling-Up-in-2E#ixzz47geyplGs

Saturday, 30 April 2016

How often should PCs level up?

For games with levels like D&D, how frequently do you think PCs should advance, given typical play? HOw do you use the XP system to facilitate that, if at all (group XP, individual XP, level by GM fiat)?

I was just musing about how my 5e DMG suggests PCs should level up every 2-3 sessions, which seems very fast to me. I ran a Pathfinder AP (Curse of the Crimson Throne, converted) using Pathfinder Medium Track XP (party xp), the campaign went from level 2 to level 14, and for most of it the PCs were levelling up every 2 sessions on average, about 8 hours of play. This meant their power was doubling about every 4 sessions; I felt this rate really harmed the game, pushing the PCs up into the double digit levels where the system really breaks down. With my 5e tabletop 'Runelords of the Shattered Star' game (mashing up the Paizo APs Shattered Star & Rise of the Runelords) I'm aiming for a level-up rate about once per 5 sessions, or about 20 hours of play, about half the advertised rate.  I think this should work well for long term play; I would like this campaign to run maybe 4 years, about 90 sessions or so, at 5 sessions/level that should take the PCs to 20th, though I'm fine if they cap out lower or we play awhile using the Epic Boon rules in the DMG. The default 5e system seems to support this sort of progression rate ok just by using mostly lower level monsters, using individual xp, and not being too generous on bonus XP; currently the PCs are level 5 after 15 sessions, with rapid progression to 3rd then slow thereafter.

Both those campaigns (Crimson Throne & Shattered Star) run/ran fortnightly. My recently resumed 4e D&D Loudwater campaign runs fortnightly, evening sessions so shorter, 3 hours or so, and the PCs (using party xp) have levelled up about every 4 sessions/12 hours for a long time - currently just hit level 27 after 96 sessions. 4e is so slow that we only get 1 fight per session and I have to give a good deal of bonus XP to hit that rate; it's still slower than the recommended 1 level per 10 hours of play, or 2.5 typical sessions - same recommendation as 5e.

I also have a couple weekly games:
The Ghinarian Hills is an online text-chat 5e sword & sorcery themed game with individual xp, I use standard monster xp and a fair bit of xp from other sources. After 74 sessions the highest level PC is 15th, so a bit over 5 sessions to level. The other PCs are in the 12-13 range. This rate works pretty well for online game, maybe a bit fast.
Finally there's my weekly tabletop Classic D&D Karameikos campaign. After around 13 months of weekly play the PCs are in the 8-11 level range, though the highest couple had been played previously in an earlier campaign and came in higher. A recently retired Thief PC who'd played from the start at 1st level hit 10th level. Typical advancement rate is about 1 level per 5 sessions, which is the recommended rate in the Rules Cyclopedia. I find this works well; I tend to get this through bonus XP rather than huge piles of treasure, though.

Overall I'm finding in my games that about 1 level per 5 sessions seems to work best, which fits with the norms in older games (eg Gygax recommended that a year of weekly 1e AD&D play should get a successful PC from 1st to 9th), a bit quicker with 4e. But this is about half the default rate recommended by the GM guidance in 3e/PF, 4e and 5e, which all seem to recommend 2-3 sessions to level and 20 sessions in a year of weekly play.   What do you find? What works best for you?

Friday, 29 April 2016

New DM Starting a 5e Campaign

For a new GM I would recommend starting with an episodic feel with a series of episodic adventures - which can be changed/amended according to player activity in earlier adventures, stated preference etc - growing over time towards an epic confrontation. I would therefore tend not to recommend an AP, which in my experience take a lot of practice to use well. The big risk with an AP is that players feel shuttled down a pre-set path with no real input. They can also place a heavy burden on the GM in understanding how it all fits together, though more episodic APs like my current Shattered Star one mitigate this.

The Primeval Thule campaign setting book is excellent IMO and would be a good basis for such an open campaign. It has adventures in it, but you can also drop in many published dungeon adventures as-is; Goodman Games stuff fits the swords & sorcery flavour but I wasn't impressed by the one GG 5e adventure I bought. Lost Mine of Phandelver would need some conversion to give a Thule feel - goblinoids become Beastmen or savages, use a Thulean dragon not the regular green dragon etc. I would generally think it easiest to use the adventures in the Thule setting book plus the NPCs, monsters etc, give the players choice in what to do, riff off that, and prep a few extra encounters you bring each week that you can always throw in if unsure what to do - "Bandits Attack!" Think about what excites you most, think of a villain or group with long term plans, and start introducing them over time. As your skills develop you can create your own adventures, following the DMG guidelines on monsters and treasure. You can draw your own maps or get free ones online; Dyson Logos' site is particularly great - https://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/maps/. He has adventures too - something like Challenge of the Frog Idol would convert easy to 5e (has Classic D&D stats) & work great with Primeval Thule - and if you like his stuff then Dyson's Delves I & II are available for purchase.

Alternately you could use a WoTC Adventure Path as your basis, but keep it as sandboxy as possible. I think Princes of the Apocalypse might be the easiest for this but I'm not familiar enough with them to say for sure.

The main trick is to present a living world and give the players plenty of freedom of action. A good campaign setting book like the 5e Primeval Thule one supports this; APs rarely do.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?484731-Thoughts-on-New-Campaign-for-New-Group-for-Returning-DM#ixzz47DPV7YKT

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Scarier 5e?

Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian View Post
@S'mon based on your experience, what do you think of 0 HP = dead in the 2nd tier, with no revivify and new PCs coming in at level 5?
I'm a big fan of taking PCs out without killing them; 0 hp = dead would have deprived me of several cool scenes where Hakeem the barbarian survived being KO'd by sleeping gas and chewed on by a wight, or the time he held off the orc horde & their sorcerer leader long enough for his friends to escape, was KO'd by a cone of cold and put in a wagon for transport back to their dark tower, only to wake up, break his bonds and escape, returning to his beloved... 

What I do in my online Wilderlands game is use negative hp, you die at hp = negative max. This makes death rare (rarer than 3 death save fails = dead) but also makes popping dying PCs back up again during the fight is unlikely. After an hour if a PC makes a death save they can short rest, spend hd and potentially wake up & be active again.

Not using revivify seems fine, it's never been used IMC. I would probably rather keep revivify and lose raise dead/resurrection/true res though, I think that would keep the fear of death more strongly while reducing in-game lethality. There was no raising IMC until late in the heroic tier, and only 
a couple NPCs (cute, female companion NPCs)  have ever been raised, never any of the dead PCs. 
The 5e game would work fine with no raising (including revifify) at all - rare, permanent 
death works well. 

Start at level 5 - I do that, new PCs start at the bottom of the Tier or with half the XP of the dead PC, whichever is better. Sometimes I have different starter points, eg in my 5e Varisia game 
the current start level is 4th. 5 works well for PCs in the 5-8 range, for level 8-10 PCs I start them at 8th. Currently in my Wilderlands game the active PCs are 12-14 and start level is 11. 
Eventually I'll raise the start level to 14, then 17.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?482389-Finding-5th-edition-too-quot-safe-quot/page13#ixzz44kPPLmP0

Friday, 1 April 2016

Open World, Tailored Encounters

Sandboxing does not necessarily mean Status Quo encounters.

My 5e online game is an open-world sandbox, but it's not entirely a 'status quo' sandbox - I fairly often have encounters tailored to party level, partly because that's what the available wandering monster tables are designed for. So eg when the party decided to go on a quest to destroy the Black Sun Gate I was using a lot of ca EL 10-12 encounters, matching party level.

You can have sandboxes that are entirely open world and entirely tailored, like Elder Scrolls III, and this is a way to get around the level-up issue. Generally the 'zoned' approach of low and high CR/level zones works better for immersion - eg the area around the Black Sun Gate was one of powerful magical energies.

Currently my party are 12th-14th level and command their own fleet; with 3 warships and 200 warriors (down from 280 before the last battle)  - significant encounters are with enemy armies! It's still entirely open-world; they can take their forces whereever they want and decide who to fight, who to seek to recruit, etc.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?482109-D-amp-d-is-not-a-good-sandbox/page5#ixzz44aSEdih4

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Campaign Durations

Thinking of how long my campaigns have lasted... Just the post-2000 campaigns. Here's what I can recall of tabletop campaigns I've GM'd:

Gaxmoor (3e D&D): 2000-2003; 3 years.
Barakus (3e D&D): 2004-2006, 2 years.
Willow Vale (3e D&D): 2008-10, 2 years with gaps.
Larin Karr (4e D&D): 2009-10, 18 months with gaps. 18 sessions?
Southlands (4e D&D): 2010-11, 6 months. 20 sessions.
Loudwater (4e D&D): 2011-2016, ongoing, 5 years, 94 sessions so far.
Yggsburgh (Pathfinder Beginner Box): ca 2012, ca 6 months, 12 sessions.
Punjar Saga (4e D&D): 2013, ca 6 months, ca 12 sessions.
Crimson Throne (Pathfinder): 2014-15, 2 years, 34 sessions.
Karameikos (Classic D&D): early 2015-, ongoing.
Varisia (5e D&D): late 2015-, ongoing, 12 sessions so far.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


It looks pretty empty, but they're only 1 mile hexes. DMG says a half dozen monster lairs across 50 miles. This is about 30x40 miles.
You can definitely have more than 6 monster lairs in a 50x50 = 2500 square mile area. 
6 monster lairs in a 50 square mile area (5 x 10 miles) seems high but not outlandish 
especially if they're man-sized or smaller; it mostly depends on what they eat and what the food 
supply is like. A big dragon might have a 900 square mile (30x30) or more hunting range,
but most creatures will have much smaller ranges. Hunter-gatherer humans & similar man-sized humanoids likely have a density between about 1/sq mile (though much lower in extreme desert) to 10/sq mile (very fertile areas like the Pacific Northwest of N America). Mixed herder/hunter types 
will have a higher density; Small creatures like Goblins can be much higher, for 3' tall 
creartures 8 times as many, while Large creatures like Ogres will be much lower - a creature weighing 5 humans will likely need 5 times the hunting range. Farmer density goes from about 10/sq mile in barren areas like the Scottish Highlands to 100/sq mile and above, medieval France 118/sq mile, can be much higher with intensive rice-paddy agriculture.

I used 1 mile/hex maps in my Yggsburgh game, based off Gygax's 1 mile/hex map in 
that book, which covered a 50x50 mile area. That works really well for getting to know 
an area in depth, which makes sense for settlement/colonisation. Gygax has a campaign's worth of monster lairs and dungeons in that area. 
Doing a new map every 2-3 adventuring days seems excessive, at the very most I'd do 1 map
per Tier. Eg you could do a 1 mile/hex map for levels 1-4, 3 miles/hex for levels 5-10, 
10 miles/hex for levels 11-16, and 30 miles/hex continental map for levels 17-20.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?478910-Hexcrawls-wilderness-adventures/page6#ixzz42ImcocBT

Friday, 8 January 2016

Which OSR adventures are most useful?

The things that have been most useful to me, running D&D:

Dyson's Delve I & II - for my swords & sorcery Wilderlands campaign. Tons of great dungeons, and then tons of beautiful unkeyed maps to make your own.

Most of the adventures from Basicfantasy.org - Adventure Anthology 1, The Glain Campaign, and Monkey Isle in particular are all great. Saga of the Giants looks cool too. They are in the style of Moldvay-Cook/Marsh Basic/Classic D&D adventures, the printed versions are sold at-cost from amazon. Most very good, and unbelievably good value. I use them for a Mentzer Classic D&D campaign set in Karameikos.

I also enjoyed Venger Satanis' Liberation of the Demon Slayer (for the Wilderlands game), tons of inventiveness but it's a bit of a mess, the maps need re-keying.

I think the key for me is that OSR adventures need to be modules I can plug in to my own campaign. I recently bought Stonehell & Dwimmermount - these are well done megadungeons, Dwimmermount especially is fantastically well presented, but they are designed as tentpoles for your campaign, not plug-in elements.

If you wanted to kick off a megadungeon-focused OSR campaign in OD&D style, then I'd recommend Dwimmermount. If you are doing your own wilderness sandbox dotted with dungeons in the Judges Guild mode then the Dyson's Delves (you can plug them in to eg Rob Conley's Blackmarsh or Points of Light). If you are doing episodic 'dungeon of the week' - the default Moldvay & Mentzer Classic D&D approach - then the BasicFantasy.org stuff is best, though much can also be used for sandboxing.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

My 4e D&D Task Difficulty System

I think the 4e DMG pg 42 table should have explicitly stated baseline assumptions for "This is what a Low Heroic environment looks like", "This is what a High Paragon environment looks like" etc, to make the DCs & damage feel grounded in the world rather than free-floating. The GM could always move the slider if he wanted a Low Heroic game set in the Elemental Chaos. There is a little bit of this in the general Tier descriptions but it's not tied in to page 42.

Running high level 4e, I've also had a problem with "all monster abilities scale" vs the fixed DCs, rather than with arbitrarily ascending DCs. You get eg high level minion monsters that can climb walls like ninjas because their level & STR makes them great at Athletics, so they can swarm up regular DC 20 walls no problem. I can see why some GMs just have *everything's* DC scale by PC level, which is functionally equivalent to nothing scaling.

What I did with 4e was to create my own DC table based on the environment rather than on PC level, as so:

Task Difficulty
Easy Heroic: 10
Medium Heroic: 15
Hard Heroic/Easy Paragon: 20
Medium Paragon: 25
Hard Paragon/Easy Epic: 30
Medium Epic: 35
Hard Epic: 40

So eg navigating the slippery ice field might be a Hard Heroic/Easy Paragon sort of feat, that makes it Acrobatics DC 20.

With the usual +/- 2 for circumstances (so a particularly hard Epic task is DC 42 - unpicking the lock to Orcus' vault, say) that then covers every possibility in the official task DC table, which runs from 8 to 42, and I can keep it in my head and assign appropriate DCs on the fly without caring that eg my PCs are currently level 26.

Friday, 1 January 2016

My old-school D&D stat gen method

I find 'roll & assign as desired', the default in 1e AD&D, a very bad way to create PCs, it's basically 'variable point buy'. Default Array & Point Buy work best for the 3e/4e/5e attribute mods systems. But for old school D&D I now use an 'assign when rolled, default to in order' system where each number rolled is then locked in to a particular stat (eg the first roll either goes to STR or is assigned to a different stat, then 2nd roll goes to INT or one of the other 4 remaining open stats).  So the final attribute rolled is always random - this is often CHA, since it's at the end of the STR INT WIS CON DEX CHA line.