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First off, it has been a  while since I last blogged, mostly due to school and a job, so I apologize for the absence. Good news is I should be graduating this month with my Psychology Degree! YAY Go me!

Anyway, this isn’t a post for or against the age old trick/dilemma of splitting an adventuring party. This is merely an observation from a 4E standpoint. To set the scenario, I’ll start with the fact I’m currently running the Scales of War campaign, published by dragon magazine. It’s a campaign which takes the characters from level 1-30, and my current group (new players aside) have been playing since level 1. We are currently level 12 and running through the Module “The Bitter Glass”.

Now, I’m not an inflexible DM by any means, and I usually let the dice fall where they fall since I believe D&D is not just a story but a game as well. There are winners, and sometimes losers. I’m not a 90’s child where little Johnny gets a consolidation prize because “everybody is a winner”. If the PC’s mess up, they could lose their character. Continue Reading »

This post has been a while in coming since it took about three weeks for things to play out.

The moral of this post, is surrender is usually a forgotten option for PC’s. They don’t usually like the idea that they get beat, but that’s part of the game. Everything doesn’t always go your way, and a good DM can help turn a down moment into story element and not just a punishment more than what it needs to be. For me I’ve seen parties refuse to surrender when given the option and it results in a TPK. I’ve seen parties surrender and escape, and have a great side story wrapped up in it. But with 4E it’s been difficult to see how capture would play out or even if could play out via a published module. But upon reading the adventure the Mottled Tower, I was amazed to see that not only was there a chance, but if not played well a TPK could be a result as well.

Well, it finally happened, we almost had a total party kill (TPK) in a fourth edition (non Fourthcore) campaign. As I had hinted to before hitting paragon tier and the drastic increase in the cost of Raise Dead will make the potential of 4E lethality a bit more closer to possible since PC’s will be loath to cough up the 50k to bring back a Paragon hero.

For those of you not aware, I’ve been running the Scales of War saga published by Dragon Magazine which was designed to take the PC’s from level 1-30. Being set in the Forgotten Realms this saga is a follow up to the old Red Hand of Doom module and in my opinion is done very well.

Surrender FTW!

In our latest episode, The Mottled Tower, the PC’s found themselves in pursuit of the main villainous figure they have identified in the big conspiracy thus far. Having encountered him several time before they knew their opponent was tough. On their approach to his lair, they made a mistake by trying to camp out right outside the bad guys lair, which was the subject of a previous post. However once we continued the next week, one player was not able to make the session, which undoubtedly hurt them.

The party chose to assault our villains tower which basically leads up to a triple/quadruple fight with very little chance for a rest. This is done intentionally by the module. I read this several times to estimate the viability of this challenge, and in my judgement, this task would be difficult, yet not impossible to win.

The party is first pitted against some mobs, in a room with a rising pool of lava as they attempt to reach a portal in the room. The best solution of course is to avoid the mobs, and move quickly to the portal. Naturally the PC’s will try to engage the mobs before the realization of the situation sinks in. Unfortunately for my party one PC misjudged the speed at which the Lava rises and was caught in the lava and burned to death. Continue Reading »

So, the time came when I finally decided to move the widescreen TV into the game room! This was definitely something I was looking forward to doing, but I had concerns about the room it would take up. So, I decided to change the room around! After much deliberation, sketches, and finger puppets, I decided to use the same corner for the TV, and turn the Ultimate Gaming Table 90 degrees to the side.

Looking from the Storage Door

You can see in the background the 54″ Widescreen TV. It is my old projection flat screen TV, which is still a really good TV and much larger than the 36″ which used to be in there. I also added the surround sound system to the room and you can see the center channel speaker located on top of the PA speaker behind the TV.  This moving of the table turned out to be a really good thing, while one side of the table lost a little room, the other side (which was previously against the back weall) gained a good amount of room. The DM now sits on the back wall where nobody needs to get behind him. Continue Reading »

One thing which is in scarce use in 4E is wandering monsters. It is one of those random things older editions brought to the table in spades. Sometimes rolling random monsters was a pain, and sometimes it was fun. It all depended on the frequency and the chance in my opinion. I never liked rolling a bunch of times for a small chance. I always preferred to roll fewer times with a higher chance. But along with those odds, came the possibility that the party could be overwhelmed. Well, that was just part of the game in the old days. Today, 4E has largely gotten rid of random monsters, in favor of its encounters. Which works out well for the most part. Sometimes skill challenges will have combative results, and some modules include an extra encounter if the PC’s need some XP, or are getting off track.

This brings me to the Short Rest x2 scenario. One of my players, (who will undoubtedly read this) posed the question to myself and the group as to why they don’t take two short rests back to back in order to allow the cleric and warlord to use their healing/inspiring word powers, so that they get more bang for their buck healing wise. Good question actually, since getting more bang for the buck is generally what the party strives for. However I know full well this is not how the game is “intended” to be played. As we discussed I pointed out that the downside of a Short Rest is that you can literally do “NOTHING”. You sit, burn healing surges, chit chat, and that’s it. You don’t loot, search, research, use powers, or cast spells. You are basically sitting down, having a drink and catching your breath, with some possible talk. This takes 5 minutes.

Djamela

So when a combat is over, 5 minutes goes to sitting on yer butt. Searching, looting, using powers etc. is in addition to this time. So I mentioned that what I feel the purpose of the short rest is an effort by the game to get the party moving along without RANDOM ENCOUNTERS. Now I’ve run all sorts of modules over my stint as DM, and this 4E mechanic of short resting is right about where I’d say, if you take it, and move on, you won’t have to worry about random encounters. It makes it simple for me as a DM, and frankly it works well. However, when a party decided to circumvent this safety, well they begin to play with fire. Continue Reading »

So, I play in one 4E group and I DM another 4E group. Only two other players are in both groups, and over the course of the last year or so there’s always been references to previous D&D editions. Come to find out, only one other person had played first edition D&D in some form. So I decided to put together a night of BASIC D&D, old school, the way it was pretty much originally played.

Original White Book

For those who are hardcore or history buffs, the White Box is actually the first incarnation of D&D, and went through 3 printings (by my last count). In the late 70’s the magenta BASIC D&D box hit the shelves, and this is the version we were going to play.

Basic D&D Box

For the module, I decided to pick a classic module which I owned but had never actually run for any group. Palace of the Silver Princess! It actually can be found in two forms. The Tournament module, and the DM tutorial module which runs the first three rooms of the module like a pick a path book. I owned the latter, so I went with it.

I had 8 players, all level 1, which is fine because Palace of the Silver Princess is designed for 6-10 characters levels 1-3. Which is a big change from 4E module design, and something which caught the players notice.

The first difference players noticed was in rolling up characters. We went “by the book”. Players roll 3D6 for stats, some of my players had NEVER rolled for attributes, having been raised on Point Buy systems. Secondly, stats are rolled straight down the line!!! Meaning your first roll is Strength, second roll is Intelligence, and so forth!!!! You should have seen the looks on their faces.  Fortunately nobody rolled anything horrible, however nobody rolled an 18 either. I think we had one 17 and it was a fighter who rolled it for Con. Continue Reading »

Earn it to own it!

So my previous post on What to do When PC’s Go Missing got a little notice from the Id DM, who asked me about “choosing a side” and writing a little dueling perspective on XP distribution. So I’ve agreed to take the Capitalistic side and present the pro’s and con’s of Capitalistic XP compared to Communistic XP. (I’m a child of the cold war so don’t hold it against me) Anyway I hope you guys check out the other perspective and please comment on both.

Like I mentioned in my previous blog When PC’s Go Missing, I have been playing recently in a campaign where XP is given equally to all players no matter what you do or don’t do, or whether you show up or are absent.  It’s been over a year in that campaign and likewise I’ve been trying this in my own campaign as well to see how it worked. For the previous 20+ years I’ve been conditioned to only giving/receiving XP for actually participating in the encounter(s) where XP can be earned. The old rule of “you have to be a threat or a target” to get XP is still very much a part of what I learned through the years. “Sitting on the bench does not experience grant.” I’m sure that is something Yoda would say. You get work experience from going to work! Not from going to school.

So after about a year of exposure to Communist XP (as I’ve come to call it), I’ve come to the conclusion that capitalist XP is the better way to go. My reasons are fairly simple in principle, but are actually linked to simple Id like desires. Yet however selfish they may seem, merely just make sense. First and foremost, if you earn the XP, you should get the XP. If you don’t earn it, you shouldn’t get it. That seems pretty basic to anyone whose ever been to school or had a job. Continue Reading »

So I finally got around to posting some pictures of the new upgrades around the table. So folks have been requesting that I update the latest features, so I figured I might as well do it here. The biggest addition has to be the wiring I’ve put in under the table. Not because it looks cool, but because of what it does for the gaming experience. This is really cool because it allows any player to plug-in a laptop, clip fan, or any electronic device directly under the table. How did I do it? Easy.

First I cut small holes in the support legs with a drill fitted with a round saw bit, then one in the middle center line to join the two sides. I then mounted a power splitter under the center section, and connected another splitter through the middle so as to service the opposite side. This also lets the DM hook up under the table too.

Power Splitter under table.

In the picture you can see the storage compartment under the tray which was a later addition about 2 years ago. Any connection cables come up behind the tray, which is under the table yet over the tray. This has become really handy, as we now use YAHOO IM for secret messaging instead of the AIM hand helds I bought way back when. Continue Reading »

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