Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Short Story: Ba'har and Owlbear

When Ba'har Ba'har and Jon-Jack "Owlbear" Whillis entered the shop, it was like the beginning of a joke: Ba'har was tall even for a Dragonborn, having to duck through the door, and Owlbear was a typical halfling, which brought him up to the waist of most people. Few people would guess that Owlbear was the more dangerous of the two. Once they looked in his face, and noticed his knives, they might change their minds.

The two briefly spoke before idly examining the wares. Soon, Owlbear approached the shopkeeper. "Do you have any banners?" he asked casually. "No," said the owner, disinterestedly, "what you see is what we have." "Then I'll just take these potions," he said, placing several vials on the counter. The shopkeeper told him the price, and Owlbear put some coins on the table. The owner looked at the coins, then at Owlbear. "You're a little short." he said, referring to the money, but Owlbear's face quickly contorted in anger.

"A little short?" He shouted, jumping up on the counter. "I'm a halfling, you want to make something of it, you son of a bitch?" He drew his knife and held it up against the man's throat. From the far side of the store, Ba'har ran to Owlbear, calling for him to stop. Owlbear stared into the shopkeeper's eyes, "Say something like that again, and you'll never say another word," he growled. Ba'har grabbed Owlbear from behind, pulling him toward the doorway. "I'm sorry, he doesn't mean it," Ba'har apologized, "he's very sensitive about being insulted."

Owlbear certainly seemed to mean it as he convulsed like an animal, trying to break free of the hold, barking loudly. All the while, his eyes never left those of the owner of the shop, who hadn't moved a muscle since Owlbear drew his knife.

Once Ba'har had pulled Owlbear into the crowded street, he instantly calmed down, sheathing his knife. Ba'har looked down at the halfing, "What in the world did he say to you?" he asked, frustrated. "Don't worry about it," said Owlbear, smiling, "What shop are we going to next?" he asked, rolling a coin over his finger and pocketing the vials.

Monday, September 7, 2009

To-Hit Vs, Damage

Let's compare the BattleAxe and the LongSword. The Axe does 1d10 damage and has a +2 to-hit. The Sword does 1d8 damage and +3 to hit. They are otherwise functionally identical.

The question at hand is whether +5% chance to-hit is worth about +10% damage. I think the answer is "yes". If the question was purely based on doing basic attacks with no bonuses, the axe would be superior, but there are other factors. For example, a typical fighter will start with a strength bonus of +5. This means that the Axe does an average of 10.5 damage and the Sword does an average of 9.5, bringing the percent bonus to damage to less than 10%, but leaving the to-hit bonus at +5%. As the character reaches higher levels, this factor becomes even greater.

The other factor is that damage isn't everything. Almost every attack grants some sort of advantage from hitting the enemy. That +5% chance to-hit doesn't just increase the chance of doing damage, it increases your chance of getting that secondary effect, which, particularly with Encounter and Daily Powers, are vastly more important than the pure damage output.

Yes, I am aware that the percentages I quoted earlier aren't true when you're talking about Encounter and Daily Powers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monster Manual II

It's nice having a new monster manual to work with while making this adventure, I may be able to give you guys something you haven't seen before. This means I'm going to have to cancel my previous adventure: Assault on the Gricklands: A Tale of the Gricklands.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Making A D&D Adventure

I've been building a D&D adventure for our group, and I was wondering how other people build adventures from scratch. I'll tell you my method: I looked at the monsters at the appropriate levels, then worked out some nice ideas for encounters, then worked out a general structure. It's not done yet, so we'll see.

Hint: There may be undead involved.

Friday, April 24, 2009

GURPS Innate Attack

When you compare Strength to the damage done by Innate Attacks in GURPS, there's simply no way to pretend that they're balanced. From now on, I'm doubling the cost of Innate Attacks. Even then, it's often more economical to buy the attack, but this should help.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Banshrae Blowdarts

I noticed this at the last game: Banshrae use blowguns, does something seem odd about that fact?

A banshrae in its natural habitat

They don't have mouths, which is why they only communicate through telepathy. No mouths, but blowguns. I guess they just spin it above their head rapidly to propel the dart through centrifugal force.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Descriptions In Combat, Please

I think our combat in D&D could use a little more description of what's being done, particularly what the NPC's are doing. I know we don't need to know the flavour text of the battle, but it helps me role-play, and draws people into the fight.

There are times when I have no idea what our opponents are doing other than attacking us. I'd like to know if they're breathing fire or whatever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Early Levels

It's pretty sad that our highest Charisma is 10. This is what we get when we have a bunch of min-maxed characters and no warlords, paladins, bards, or warlocks. No charisma whatsoever.

Planning a party takes more work than we put into it. Sometime, I'd like to design the optimal party, it'd be an interesting exercise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Elves Move 7?

Did anyone else know that Elves have a default move of 7? I assumed that everyone moved at 6, until I found Dwarves move at 5. I don't even read those traits; I just assume they're all identical.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good Feat In PHB II: Weapon/Implement Expertise

Weapon/Implement Expertise seems very good to me. Many classes, like my Warlord, only use one weapon, so it serves as a universal +1 to attack.

Apparently Wizards don't think people value bonuses to attack as highly as they should. I don't know who those people are; bonuses to attack are my #1 priority.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Giving Your Characters History (But Not Really)

In an undeniable sign of power-creep, recent D&D books have included the option to include a "character background" which gives you a small bonus. This bonus is small enough that I don't really mind it, but it's still odd that they would let players have an unambiguous benefit with literally no trade-off.

Anyway, it seems that we've misinterpreted the nature of this bonus. Where it may seem to give you a +2, or access to, more than one skill, it only conveys one of those bonuses. The Player's Handbook II is more explicit about the nature of these benefits.

I don't mind it so much, I just wish they wouldn't add stuff after the core book was already published.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Failure Is Another Word For Experience...Or Death

The performance of our level 1 characters was shameful. Truly embarrassing. But I think that we can use it as a learning experience.

First of all, building characters on-site is a crappy way to start. There are too many things to check, and too few books for everyone to do all the work they have to do. Also, we end up starting late and having less time to actually play the game.

Second, we need remedial tactics training. Lesson One: Don't split up your forces. Lesson Two: Don't be afraid to take an 8 hour rest. Lesson Three: Don't walk into an obvious trap; let the thief scout things out.

Next time, we'll have our characters built in advance, and I hope we won't have anyone decide that they're opposed to the party for no good reason.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Glossary: Raven Oath

Awesome session yesterday: the Raven Oath is great.

Raven Oath: n. A proof of courage. To demonstrate the sincerity of a promise, you jump out of a 10th story window with the person sharing in the oath. In game, it seems more silly than it does out of game, since we know that the characters can't possibly die from the fall.

PS. Raven Pact! Why didn't we call it the Raven Pact! I'm officially renaming it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


This is the first time I've ever heard of a PC just sitting on the side of the road and pouting.

Monday, February 16, 2009

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C'mon, guys, answer my invites.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Costagauna on Obsidian Portal

Our first RPG to appear on Obsidian Portal is up now, and here it is. There are still a lot of red links, but I think this can be a genuinely useful tool for keeping track of various proper nouns, usually trouble for an RPG.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obsidian Portal

You recall earlier I was thinking about using the internet to create some sort of campaign log/public access utility for our RPGs. Turns out there's a website that's perfect for it: The Obsidian Portal. I suggest that we try it out. Can't hurt to try.

I'll update the blog when I start a page.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Ground Rules

I'm not banning tea-bagging monsters, or sticking things up the anii of our opponents, I'm just asking, "Can we go one encounter without either? Just one? Please?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


No hurry on making an IOU character everyone, but you should keep it in the back of your mind. If anyone finds my copy of the book, make sure you get it to me! I think I could run the game without it, but I'd rather not.