Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"


September 2014

The Daily D4


Kindred Spirits by Mark Anthony & Ellen Porath

A few weeks ago I snagged a couple of used paperbacks at the bookstore down the road from my house, and one of them was a gem from the world of Dragonlance that I couldn’t resist. Two of Krynn’s most legendary heroes meet years before a fateful night in Solace that would set them on the path to becoming legends. Flint Fireforge, dwarf adventurer and master craftsman journeys to Qualinost at the invitation of the Speaker of the Sun. While working in the city he meets and befriends a young Tanis Half-Elven whose mixed heritage affords little affection among the elves. The two form an unlikely friendship over the years and when Tanis is blamed for a series of grisly murders it falls on Flint to prove his innocence. I’m only about halfway into the book so far, but it’s been a really enjoyable story. It’s interesting to see both of these characters at different times in their lives and to see how their relationship developed. If anyone is thinking of picking this up it’s just volume one of The Meetings Sextet, which presumably explains how all of the Heroes of the Lance came to know one another.



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Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition

The first of the three core books for the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons is of course the Player’s Handbook which includes everything players will need to get started on their next adventure. There’s a wealth of material covered in the book so I’ll just cover some of the highlights for the moment. Everyone will be happy to know that Wizards of the Coast didn’t skimp on classes or races, and there’s a nice blend of old and new to be found among both. The core races are dragonborn, dwarves, elves, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs, humans, gnomes, and tieflings. One thing I really enjoyed about the race section was that included mechanics for playing sub-races when appropriate. For example the section on elves featured the rules for playing a high elf, a drow, or a wood elf and gives a detailed description of each in turn. Likewise the section on dwarves showed the mechanics for hill dwarves, mountain dwarves, and even duergar. The fact that dragonborn didn’t get left out in the cold made me feel more comfortable with this edition too as it was the second time I’ve opened up a player’s handbook to the race section and been greeted by one of the honorable warriors. As for the classes : barbarians, bards, clerics, fighters, monks, paladins, rangers, rogues, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards all make an appearance. They definitely included something for everyone in this edition and I think most people will be able to find one of their favorite classes somewhere in the mix. Of course the handbook also includes the rules of play, a wealth of equipment, spells, and other useful tips for aspiring adventurers. The chapter discussing backgrounds was especially interesting and I thought it made a nice addition to the gameplay.


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The Best Trio in the Galaxy

With the Guardians of the Galaxy Heroclix event going on at my friendly local game store I have made it my mission to make the best Guardians of the Galaxy team possible. This week I used a three hundred point team that consisted of Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and Rocket Raccoon from the starter set. In all three of the matches I played in that night the team swept the field with the sort of wanton destruction that can only be described as an annihilation wave.

Drax definitely functions as the bruiser of the team with a blend of defensive abilities that include impervious, invincible, and invulnerability. His defense value never goes any higher than seventeen, but it also doesn’t dip below a sixteen and if you roll well for impervious he can stay around for a long time. By blending charge and super strength you can carry out the classic move of picking up a large object and smashing an enemy over the head with it for a fairly impressive amount of damage. Taking advantage of his Hadron Enforcer trait allows him to use pulse wave once per game a free action, when doing so you choose an unoccupied square of clear terrain within range and line of sight, Drax can use pulse wave as though he occupied that square. Now one free pulse wave per game isn’t much but it can definitely serve to soften up your opponent’s team a bit. Flurry, blades/claws/fangs, exploit weakness, and close combat expert all make appearances on his dial giving him a nice blend of offensive abilities to work with in order to deal even more damage. The fact that he is indomitable allows you to keep him on the move as often as possible, and his range of six lets him toss a few knives around the map if he happens to be out of close range. For 125 points he had the highest value figure on my team, and he was also the only one that was defeated during the event. I know some people don’t care for him because he only has six clicks making him a prime target for anything with penetrating psychic blast or exploit weakness, but he really did perform well. Even in the match where he was knocked out he took a lot of damage that would have been devastating if it had landed on any of his teammates.

Gamora was the high damage dealer of the game, and she also offered a bit of versatility and control that I like to see. Her Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy trait allows her to choose an opposing character, and increase her attack and damage values by +1 until that character is KO’d. Then she can choose another opposing character to apply the trait to. She also has a special version of close combat expert called Nerve Strike that lets her decrease one of a target’s combat values by -1 until your next turn. Her movement powers vary between charge and a blended plasticity/sidestep abilities so she can get in close and take advantage of her other powers and hopefully keep opponents within close range. Precision strike is her attack power for her first three clicks but it is replaced by blades/claws/fangs for the last four on her dial. She also trades super senses for toughness on her last three clicks, gaining a damage soak late in the game is often useful as other pieces tend to lose them altogether. Her last three clicks also grant her probability control so she can lend some support if the match isn’t going well. With her indomitable this is definitely a piece that you have to get in close and use all of her abilities carefully in order to get the best results. Don’t choose a target for Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy until they’re within range of Gamora’s sword, and whatever you do don’t forget to take advantage of her Nerve Strike while you’ve got it. Hopefully her super senses will keep her from taking any damage long enough for her to inflict some serious harm upon her enemies. The fact that she lacks any range whatsoever is a bit of a weakness for Gamora, but overall for one hundred points she’s an excellent damage mill.

Even for 75 points Rocket Raccoon is a bit of a risk because there are only has five clicks on his top dial and he has no soak whatsoever. What he does have however more than makes up for those disadvantages. His top dial includes stealth, outwit, willpower, and a special attack power called Two Big Guns that allows him to make two ranged combat attacks as free actions after giving him a power action. Paired with outwit that is a pretty nasty way to deal six damage to anything within range that relies on a soak. That power only appears on three of his clicks, and it is replaced with energy explosion on the others so use it while you can. Rocket replaces his stealth with running shot and finishes off with sidestep as his movement power so he can definitely jump around to take advantage of any cover that is on the field. His willpower is lost after his first two clicks and replaced with energy shield deflection allowing him to perform even better against ranged attacks. He has a range of seven, two targets, and tiny size which grants him a +1 bonus to his defense value against ranged combat attacks. His lack of indomitable is a bit limiting later in his dial, and if someone bases him he doesn’t have much of anything to fall back on aside from outwit. I used him the same way in all of the matches. Launching him forward in to the most central piece of hindering terrain I could find I kept him on his top dial thanks to stealth and proceeded to shoot anything that moved within his line of sight. His improved targeting is helpful as well as it lets him ignore hindering, enemies, and allies when he lines up a shot.

In all this team did really well for me, but it is one of those forces that has clear weaknesses that can be taken advantage of. All of the figures are from the Guardians of the Galaxy starter set, as well as a Star-Lord, Groot, and Ronan that are worth taking a look at. For the record the best part of the evening was during a casual game when Rocket leapt into a trash can object that had been placed on the map by my friend Justin.


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