Archive for June, 2011

I just posted up the Fourthcore Dungeon Masters Guide v1 – (PDF document) on my Fourthcore page which is where that stuff will live from now on. This guide is basically a guideline for DM’s to help them understand the balance between design and 4C challenge. Lethality is obviously a part of the challenge but it’s something which must be tempered properly. In my time writing modules and designing traps it’s always been the biggest complement when a crushed player says “I should have know better”. To which I usually say “yeah, you should have”.

On the other hand chance has to have a reasonable chance for success and failure based upon the stakes, and the 4C DM guide speaks to that balance as well. I also cover things like riddles and puzzles as well as time limits and character death/respawning. So check it out, and by all means if there is something to add let me know. This is your game too after all.

I do plan to update the guides as good ideas and information roll in. So consider them evolving and ongoing. I’ll make sure to post when I update them.


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So, with the death (not literally) of a creator, there is a big hole to fill. I’m not saying I’m trying to fill the shoes, but dammit, I’ve got moxy! Besides, I’ve done this stuff for a while and 4C has got a fire buring in the Maestro’s belly. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, so I’m throwing it up to the wall, and seeing what sticks.

I’ve created a Fourthcore page on this blog for my Fourthcore created content, and yes I will be creating content. My first offering is simply some base guidelines for Fourthcore character generation. As I explain in the guide, it’s not about forcing anyone to do anything. But instead it’s about having a baseline that people can recognize as a starting point. In truth most of the content is taken from guidelines laid out by previous 4C modules, so this isn’t anything startlingly new.

What I think would be cool, is that if people recognize guidelines it allows content to be generated in balance to the characters & vice versa. (characters are generated in balance to the content) Which means less tweaking between players who share modules and dungeons. So if bob in Australia writes a 4C module based on “guidelines” then Joe in Texas doesn’t have to tweak his players characters. Make sense? This makes playability easier for the largest spectrum of players. As always DM’s can tweak to their heart’s content. It’s your game after all, I just prefer less tweaking, and more killing.

So that being said, here is the: Fourthcore Character Generation Guide v1 – (PDF document)

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Recently I was asked by my friend, the Id DM, to host a Fourthcore game. He was asked to play test one of the new scenario’s from the fellas over at Save Versus Death, who spearheaded (past tense – see comments) the fourthcore movement. So I polished up the Ultimate Gaming Table, served up the bev’s, J. brought the Pizza, and we gave fourthcore a whirl!

What is fourthcore?(short for Fourth Edition / Hardcore) Simply put its tournament style D&D, mixed with increased lethality. This isn’t to say you are going to die, but it’s to say that messing up has harsh consequences. In my many years of gaming I’ve played tournament modules and DM’d them. They are always a challenge because it seems as everything you do, has some relevance; and the things you don’t do, have some relevance as well. The same can be said for some of the most lethal modules every built by Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve had the pleasure to DM many, such as the Labyrinth of Madness, Tomb of Horrors, & the Dancing Hut of Babba Yagga to name just a few. Each one is a punishing module of tricks, traps, puzzles, and monsters. (more…)

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The bad guys run! Are you going to just stand there and let them get away? or You turn tail and make for cover with your enemies in hot pursuit!

Climb Speed FTW!

With all the discussion over long combats, and lack of RP on the blogs lately, I’ve written a universal chase scene which can either act as a scene all unto itself, or be an ending to a combat encounter. The goal here is threefold:

  1. To provide a skill challenge which can be used by the PC’s from either side of the fence.
  2. Provide a faster alternative to ending a battle rather than whittle down every single HP an NPC has.
  3. Provide a Chase skill challenge that is opposed rather than one sided.

Again, this is a skill challenge that can be used in a variety of environments as you will see, and in any situation. It can likewise be used as a stand-alone situation or when enemies flee combat as well as from the angle of being the pursuer or the fleer. It can also be a single or multi-participant challenge.

The goal is to create a challenge which uses a broad array of skills which can be moderated by the DM according to the environment. It also factors in modes of movement advantages, number of participant advantages, and level of participant difficulty, as well as factoring the Endurance of those who are part of the chase.


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So, as Morgoth, my little wizard, looked over our parties recent treasure haul from our last adventure, we had a Longsword +2, (common item) that nobody wanted. So I went to sell it. Well, common items sell for 20%, ergo it’s price of 1800gp was going to be cut down to 360gp which is sort of sad considering it’s a magic item. Then, a thought occured to me what if I disenchant the item for residuum? Well again it yeilds 20% since the item is common.

Then an epiphany!

Talk about an upgrade!

The Enchant Magic Item Ritual allows you to upgrade an existing item for the difference in cost. So the Longsword +2 it worth 1800gp. To create a Pact Sword +2 takes an 800GP investment. (Total cost of the new sword = 2600gp) The kicker is that a Pact Sword +2 is an Uncommon Item! So now you have an Uncommon item worth 2600gp. With the Disenchant Magic Item Ritual, you can turn a magic item to Residuum as I noted previously. Uncommon items are converted into 50% of their cost. So by disenchanting the Pact Sword +2, you yeild 1300GP worth of Residuum!!! Which can be used or sold for an equal amount of gold. You just made a 500GP profit for several hours work plus the cost of the disenchantment!

So, those uncommon plus weapons are now a good way to make some GP/Residuum in order to be used to craft items of greater power!!!

So crafters of the World rejoice!

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Death comes for us all!

Here’s a topic which has been floating around for a while with 4E, that has some people split. Is 4E lethal enough? Some people think that it’s near impossible to die in 4th edition due to the fact the old school -10 rule is now Negative Bloodied value, the numerous amounts of surges each class gets, and the fact that any healing while negative starts from zero!

First, I would like to say that I killed two characters in our last session, (A Scales of War campaign I am running) and I darn near killed a third. Darn you KRAKUS!!! (He made a death save, stood up and ran like hell). So with that in mind I took a hard look this last week at the lethality of 4E compared to other editions; and here’s what I’ve come up with.

First off, I believe that 4E is just as lethal as other editions. It’s been my observation from listening to talk, playing and DM’ing, that some DM’s are just reluctant to punch a number when it comes up. Secondly, 4E incorporates party KNOCKOUTS in a big way. Basically any character who has negative HP is unconscious. What better way to run a captured and tied up scenario? After all as a DM you have more than twice the wiggle room than other editions since negative Bloodied is easily greater than -10 after just a few levels. (more…)

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Hey there, this is the first in a category which I’ve titled “house rulez” since well, they are house rules we use to make 4E better. Or rather, what we believe to be better.

One small issue I have with 4E is that potions now seems to need to be “powered” by surges. While this plays mechanically, and prevents a certain amount of potion obsession among characters, it’s logically flawed. Particularly where healing is involved. While I am quite ok with someone drinking a potion and spending a surge to produce a Non-healing benefit, it makes no sense to spend a surge in order to produce a healing benefit. Or rather, why would I drink the healing potion if I have a healing surge? Duh…

Well mechanically your options are limited of course, since you can only second wind, once during an encounter, barring the fear third wind. And healing options have their limits. All of which I enjoy. But the level 5 Potion of Healing asks you to spend a healing surge to receive 10HP of healing. While at first level this may sound great, following levels get more and more gipped by this low return on investment.

Ergo, the following House Rule was born in my game. Subsequently the Id DM decided to use it as well.

Rule = When consuming a Potion of Healing, the user can receive the 10 HP of healing; Or use a Healing Surge to receive their full surge value.


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