Search

Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"

Month

April 2014

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

Psionic Dungeons and Dragons Campaign

There’s been a campaign idea bouncing around in my head for quite a while now, I ran it by Jade once or twice and she liked it enough that I think it warrants a bit of attention. The idea is for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in which all of the characters are playing one of the psionic classes, such as psions, monks, ardents, and battleminds. The main villain of the campaign is a mind flayer who only feasts on the minds of people with psionic potential. One of the first foes I’m planning on having them face is a intellect devourer sent to sniff out powerful psychics. In the campaign setting psionic power is a rare thing so our mind flayer often goes year without a meal, making him very anxious to get his hands on anyone who he can snack on.

The psionic classes have always been of interest to me, especially monks, but since they didn’t appear in 4th Edition until the release of the Players Handbook 3 I feel as though they were lost in the shuffle. Before the campaign could start I’d have to get my hands of a copy of Psionic Power to give players as many options as possible when choosing their powers and such. As I said a rough idea, but a peak into the mind of a GM.

Mind_flayer_sorc

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

Happy Easter everyone, here’s today’s does of the Daily D4!

Revenants

There are a ton of fantastic races to play in Dungeons and Dragons, but none of them are quite like the Revenant. These animated souls occupy the same bodies that were theirs in life, raised from the dead to carry out a task. The Raven Queen is the only being with the power to create one of these undead avengers, but she sometimes negotiates with others and creates a revenant on their behalf. The story potential for the revenant is really the thing that draws me to the race more than anything else. Who raised them from the dead? What is the task they’ve been brought back for? Are they the only revenant currently walking the world? There are so many interesting questions about them that can be woven into a campaign’s story I think they make an excellent option.

387_wr_revenant

 

Cockatrice

There’s something very entertaining about the idea of an enormous partly reptilian chicken that can turn people to stone, and that’s exactly what the monstrous cockatrice is. The first time I ran a game of Dungeons and Dragons a cockatrice was responsible for turning the only child of the local noble into a statue, and the party was tasked with hunting in down and gathering some of its feathers which could be used to concoct an antidote if they found the beast. They’re not terribly powerful but the threat of being petrified adds an extra element of danger to any encounter with a cockatrice that players and GMs can enjoy. You can actually trace their lore back through the centuries and they are mentioned many times in medieval manuscripts Images of these strange creatures even appear on buildings dating back to the 14th century.

cockatrice

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

You’ll be getting a double dose of the Daily D4 today since I was up late last night. Here’s the first batch.

Mutants and Masterminds Mr. Freeze

I recently decided to try and run another play-by-post set in Gotham City, and in order to make that happen I started making character sheets of a few of my favorite Batman villains. I’ve always been fascinated by Mr. Freeze, the vision of a tragic character trying to save his wife time and time again provided a sharp contrast to most other villains. He wasn’t motivated by greed, or anger, or insanity he just wanted to protect the person he loved which is why I think his relationship with Batman was so interesting.

Since I had to work today, but things were very slow and I had plenty of downtime, I managed to finish making my Mr. Freeze character sheet and I thought I’d share it with everyone.

Mr. Freeze
Secret Identity: Victor Fries

Abilities
Strength 0
Stamina 2
Agility 0
Dexterity 0
Fighting 1
Intellect 6
Awareness 2
Presence 2
[24 Power Points]

Skills
Close Combat (Unarmed) 2
Expertise (Science) 4
Intimidation 8
Ranged Combat (Freeze Gun) 6
Technology 4
Vehicles 2
[14 Power Points]

Powers
Immunity 2 (Aging, Cold) [2 Points]

Refrigeration Suit (Dynamic Array)
*Enhanced Trait 8 (Strength) [18 Points]
*Feature 1 (Body Temperature Regulation) [3 Point]
*Power Lifting 2 [4 Points]
*Protection 8 [8 Points]
Limit: Removable
[27 Power Points]

Freeze Gun (Array)
*Affliction 8 [Alternate Resistance (Dodge), Cumulative, Extended Range 2, Extra Condition, Progressive] [41 Points]
*Blast 8 [17 Points]
*Create 4 {Permanent} [9 Points]
*Environment [Extreme Cold] 2 [5 Points]
Limit: Easily Removable
[44 Power Points]

Advantages
Accurate Attack
All-Out Attack
Favored Environment (Subzero)
Improved Hold
Improvised Tools
Inventor
[6 Power Points]

Defenses
Dodge 1
Fortitude 2
Toughness 10
Parry 3
Will 8
[26 Power Points]

Combat
Initiative +0
Close Combat (Unarmed) +3 DC 23 Toughness Check
Ranged Combat (Freeze Gun) +6 Dodge Check DC 18 Fortitude Check Hindered, Immobile, Incapacitated

Complications
Weakness: Since his body chemistry was altered Mr. Freeze is incapable of surviving outside of a subzero environment for a prolonged period of time without his refrigeration suit.
For Nora (Motivation): Mr. Freeze is driven by a desire to protect his wife Nora and cure the illness that force them to place her in cryogenic suspension so many years ago.

709051-b_cards_pic09

Mutants and Masterminds: Gotham

For those who don’t know Mutants and Masterminds is a tabletop RPG that allows you to create your own heroes and villains then battle it out in a wide variety of settings. Just about anything you can imagine can be turned into a M&M campaign. You can even play using established characters such as Batman, Swamp Thing, Spider-Man, or Howard the Duck. As I mentioned above I decided to run a campaign of Mutants and Masterminds set in Gotham City, and I’m pretty excited to see how it will turn out. In the past I’ve run several Mutants and Masterminds campaigns and they’ve all been great fun. I chose Gotham for the setting this time around because I think it’s an ideal setting for what I call street level heroes rather than more powerful characters.

If you’re new to RPGs or GMing play by post campaigns might be a good way for you to get started, there’s an element of anonymity and you don’t have to try to coordinate several people’s schedules to arrange play time. If you’re interested feel free to check out my new campaign over on Critical Failures.

http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/189311/m-m-3rd-edition-gotham-now-recruiting#latest

Batman_Gotham_City_Secret_Files_and_Origins1

If you enjoyed this installment of the Daily D4 you might also enjoy the following podcast.

Episode 5 Mutants and Masterminds: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/108110-episode-5-mutants-and-masterminds

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

 

The Dungeon Master Experience by Chris Perkins

Someone suggested that I should incorporate tips for game masters into the Out of Character blog, and I liked the idea but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about getting it started. So I turned to an old favorite of mine, the Dungeon Master¬†Experience articles written by Chris Perkins and I thought I’d give them some praise on the Daily D4. The series went on for several years and Mr. Perkins tackled a wide variety of issues GMs of at any level of experience might be confronted with. Everything from simple tips on how to make your maps a bit better looking, to employing the gods in a campaign, crafting encounters, building worlds, and even how to begin or end a campaign were all discussed at one time or another. It’d be a disservice to try and condense down all of that material, but I will say I’ve read over all of them and I highly recommend reading them if you find yourself behind the GM screen with any sort of regularity.

DMXP106Image

Red Dragon Inn Allies: Ozrik the Adept

Slugfest Games has added another ally to the Red Dragon Inn game, Ozrik the Adept master of the elements and a man looking to make up for all of the property damage he’s caused over the years. Ozrik’s character deck apparently allows his player to power up his individual cards by discarding other cards from their hand. Managing you hand size so that you can really pack a powerful punch while deciding which cards to discard makes for a pretty interesting challenge, and it’s also pretty unique compared to the other sets the preceded Ozrik. I have to say the idea of being able to employ earth, air, fire, and water against an inn filled with unruly adventurers sounds like a lot of fun too. As with all of the other allies Ozrik’s deck comes with a player mat, counters, gold coins, and everything else needed to use him allowing for easy use with any of the other Red Dragon Inn sets. It’ll be available in August of 2014 so keep your eyes peeled and your tankards full until then.

I’m seriously thinking of acquiring all of the allies and having them duke it out to see who should end up a full fledged member of the party.

SLUGFEST_Ozrik_4_klyph

If you enjoyed today’s installment of the Daily D4 you might also enjoy the following podcasts.

Episode 3 Waxing Heroic: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/105592-episode-3-waxing-heroic

Episode 14 A Pixie, a Troll, and a Wizard Walk Into an Inn: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/121317-episode-14-a-pixie-a-troll-and-a-wizard-walk-into-an-inn

Episode 18: Wet Paint

Jade and I decided to pain miniatures yesterday, and we recorded a podcast while doing so. There wasn’t a set topic for this podcast so we discussed a variety of topics ranging from dice etiquette to the immigration laws of fantasy kingdoms. Please enjoy!

 

Episode 18 Wet Paint: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/167080-episode-18-wet-paint

Podcast Updates

So now that real life has settled down and we are returning to a schedule that could be confused with something like a normal I am going to do my best to get back to posting on the blog and updating the podcast on a regular basis once again. This means the Daily D4 will hopefully be a daily installment, however there will probably be times when I just can’t find the spare time to write up a worthwhile post on a given day. The podcast will be easier to manage though given that we can record them in advance when the need arises.

We have been forced to downgrade our account for the site that hosts the podcast due to the fact that Jade lost her job recently, meaning there is a smaller allotment of time for us to use each month. Hopefully we can still fit four up there each month and manage to fit everything into the new space.

A few things I’d like to do in the near future include completing Neverwinter, Pain and Grain as well as running through the deadly Tomb of Horrors, I’d also like to play a few more RPGs on the podcast and do further reviews similar to the one I did of Mutants and Masterminds a few months ago. I’d also like to try to get a few Pittsburgh gaming VIPs to participate in the podcast but that’ll probably take a while to pull off.

So there’s a quick update for all the folks who enjoy the podcast, look for more episodes soon and I hope you’ll continue reading and listening.

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

Cardhunter

I’ve been playing Cardhunter a lot for the past few weeks and it has proven to be a fantastic game. It allows players to assemble a party of adventurers and then lead them through scenarios, much like those that you might play through during a typical game of Dungeons and Dragons. Fighting goblins, skeletons, zombies, kobolds, and oozes of various consistencies is made a bit more difficult by the game’s combat system. Moving, attacking, and the use of special abilities requires you to draw and play cards from each of your character’s decks. It plays like a strange amalgamation of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering.

One of my favorite things about the game is the art style which depicts all of the characters as miniatures battling it out on a map. If you look at the edge of the map you can see dice, snacks, and other gaming supplies laying on the tabletop. You also get to assemble you team from a wide selection of options. Humans, dwarves, and elves all make appearances and each race can be used to make a wizard, a fighter, or a cleric with plenty of options to customize the look of your characters.

Aside from the individual stories tied to the modules there is an overreaching story following the growth of your GM and his struggles to find his own way in the world of Cardhunter.

 

card_hunter_header_0_cinema_640_0

The Jewel of Yavin

Up until now I’ve resisted the urge to try Star Wars Edge of the Empire, largely due to the price tag attached to the rulebook which is a bit high for my budget. Then I saw the cover art for The Jewel of Yavin and I knew that my resistance would be waning in the near future. The Jewel of Yavin is the first adventure module that’s been released for Edge of the Empire, except for adventure that was included in the beginners box. Instead of trying to liberate the galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire or trying to master the force the storyline focuses on a heist with a precious gem as the prize. You’ll also have the chance to participate in the Cloud City Grand Prix, and to rub elbows with the social elite of Bespin. I’ve loved Cloud City ever since the first time I saw The Empire Strikes Back so the idea of playing an adventure that takes place on Bespin is really appealing, getting to race starships and steal stuff is just icing. I’m going to get my hands on this as soon as humanly possible.

 

star_wars_edge_rpg_the_jewel_of_yavin-425611388448093d

Cloud City, Bespin
Fantasy Flight
Gather a crew and steal a priceless gem

The Daily D4

4-sided_dice_250

Today’s installment of the Daily D4 is all about Dungeons Dragons. Races, books, adventures, and fun galore.

Goliaths

The very first time I played Dungeons and Dragons it was as part of a duo working to improve the conditions of a newly established settlement on the edge of the frontier. My wizard joined forces with a Goliath barbarian and together they set out to replenish the settlement’s dwindling water supply. Together the confronted a ferocious tribe of halflings, a water elemental, and a trio of subterranean races before their adventure came to an end. It was only one session of a campaign, but the experience left a fondness for the Goliath race that still remains to this day.

Goliaths are towering tattooed warriors who dwell on mountains in scattered tribes. They’re a highly athletic and extremely competitive race, they often engage in contests of strength and skill for the simple joy of proving their own prowess. Since they prefer living in untamed regions of the world they rarely come into contact with other races with the exceptions of dwarves and giants. Their relationship with dwarves can sometimes become adversarial as they may find themselves competing for territory and resources, the fact they sometimes serve giants who have been known to enslave dwarves does nothing to ease the tension between their races.

One of the most interesting aspects of Goliath culture is their worship of the primal spirits of nature and their ancestors. Those facets of their belief system lend themselves well to creating a character who utilizes one of the primal classes such as barbarians, shaman, druids, and seekers. If you’re thinking of giving a Goliath character a try I’d suggest making a fighter, barbarian, shaman, druid, warlord, or ranger. Utilize their great strength and constitution to wear down your opponents.

Goliaths_-_Steve_Argyle

 

Death in Thay

The latest seasons of Dungeons and Dragons Encounters has gotten me excited about the program for the first time in a while. Death in Thay is set in the Forgotten Realms and it is the latest part of a far reaching event known as The Sundering which will alter the fate of Faerun. In this installment adventurers will find themselves contending with Szass Tam, the lich lord of Thay. The undead master of his Red Wizards are poised to seize control of the Sword Coast, and only the destruction of a powerful artifact called The Bloodgate can thwart them. It appears as though this will be a dungeon crawl with plenty of traps, monsters, and probably more than a few unexpected surprises lurking in wait to put an end to anyone who comes looking for The Bloodgate.

This season will pick up where Scourge of the Sword Coast left off so if you missed out on that event you might want to pick up campaign notes from someone who did attend. I’ve tried Encounters a few times but I’ve never been all that impressed with the results, the adventures always sound very interesting but I think they’re really dependent on having a good group to play which given the nature of the program isn’t a certain thing. I also don’t care for the near total lack of anything outside of combat that I experienced during the events I attended. However the adventures themselves all seem very well done and I think that with the right group they would be fantastic.

If you’re interested in Death in Thay you might also want to try some of the more recent adventures that have lead up to it. Murder in Baldur’s Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard, and Scourge of the Sword Coast are all available in one form or another.

news_20140310_2

 

Underdark

In an effort to clear out the remaining fourth edition books on their shelves one of my friendly local gaming stores started selling all of their fourth edition books at a forty percent discount. Underdark gives detailed descriptions of the subterranean realm and the creatures who dwell in the darkness in the world below. Mind flayers, drow, beholders, duergar, grimlocks, and troglodytes are all afforded their own special descriptions and their places in hierarchy the Underdark are all fully explored.

The history of the Underdark and the secrets behind its creation are also unveiled. Within these pages you’ll learn of The King Who Crawls and how his battle with a Primordial and his efforts in the aftermath helped make the Underdark what it is today.

The tiers of the Underdark are divided into the Shallows, the Deeps, the Feydark, and the Shadowdark. The Shallows are the tunnels and caverns in the Underdark closest to the surface world and they are also the least dangerous region of the realm. The denizens of the Shallows shun the light and view those entering their territory as easy prey, potential slaves, or intruders. The Deeps lurk far below the Shallows in the unknowable darkness and the dangers that loom their are far greater than any that might be encounter elsewhere. It is here the mind flayers feast on the brains of their captives, and it is also where the cities of the drow unfold like spider webs threatening to ensnare any who wander to close to them. The Feydark is a beacon of light in the Underdark, albeit perhaps a dim one. It is here that you will find the subterranean realms occupied by gnomes who dwell underground, forests blooming with luminescent moss and fungus, and fomorians who rule kingdoms throughout the Feydark. Lastly the Shadowdark which is by far the darkest, dankest, and most unearthly of all the regions within the entire Underdark. Anyone who find themselves wandering its frozen halls will be confronted by deadly servants of darkness, and they might even come face to face with the King Who Crawls himself much to their misfortune. Some say Lathan, the River of Souls passes through the Shadowdark ferrying the dead to the Raven Queen.

There are some interesting adventures outline in the book, including one that presents your characters with the interesting choice of choosing to abandon their own race in favor of becoming a Drow. In all it makes for a great addition to any dungeon master’s collection, fans of drow or for anyone who happens to be curious about the realm.

underdark

Jerimond’s Orb

Whenever I got the Phantom in the Attic, a friendly local gaming store, I check out the used RPG books without fail. It’s a great way to find some materials that might never have crossed my path otherwise and I enjoy rescuing gaming materials that have been set aside by their previous owners. On my latest excursion I uncovered a curious pamphlet that I couldn’t resist buying. Jerimond’s Orb, written by Ree Soesbee, is one of several adventure boosters published by Alderac Entertainment Group. It’s designed for a party of four to six characters between levels two and four. In it the party find themselves under attack by a ferocious creature late one night after making camp somewhere outside of the peaceful village of Treefall. Rumors of strange misfortune befalling the prosperous village have been passing through the region for some time now, but no one had believed them until now.

The pamphlet is sixteen pages long and includes everything that you would need to run the adventure, with the exception of the Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Players Handbook. A complete map of the village of Treefall, a description of the area, NPCs, an outline of the events, a new magical item, and even the monstrous creature who attacks the party are all found within. It originally retailed for $2.49, but I bought the used copy for less just a bit more than $2.00 which seems like a bargain considering the quality of the product.

AEG produced many more adventures besides Jerimond’s Orb including Castle Zadrian, Sundered Faith, Tomb of the Overseers, Against the Barrow King, Out of Body Out of Mind, Crypt of St. Betehsda, and Kurishan’s Garden. Personally I would love to see more people running with this idea of publishing simple well made pamphlets like these and circulating them through friendly local gaming stores. Publishing books is expensive and obviously you have to come up with enough material to make them worth that cost, but these could be produced so easily and at such a value to players. I’d like nothing better than to walk into a shop and see a display filled with these one day in the future.

25425

If you enjoyed this edition of the Daily D4 then you might also enjoy the following Out of Character podcasts.

Episode 3 Waxing Heroic: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/105592-episode-3-waxing-heroic

Episode 8 Neverwinter, Pain and Grain Part One: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/111877-episode-8-neverwinter-pain-and-grain-part-1

Episode 9 Neveriwnter, Pain and Grain Part Two: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/112420-episode-9-neverwinter-pain-and-grain-part-2