Archive for May, 2012
Today (as of this writing), I received my Random Dungeon Generator and Wandering Monster posters from the Blog of Holding Kickstarter campaign. Paul started the project to fund production of the former, and generously required only a $22 donation to have the latter thrown in as well! I got them laminated, and they’re now hanging in a place of honor above my workspace.
If you are unfamiliar, the random dungeon generator (pictured right) was originally created by Gary Gygax, and included in the Dungeon Master’s Guide as appendix A. The generator takes up about 4 pages of the book, and is intended to help GMs create dungeons both in preparation for, and even during, a session of game play. The variety included in the tables is impressive. Numerous types of corridors, room sizes, trap types, treasure and even whether or not a monster is present can be generated with the tables. They can be somewhat difficult to follow, and require a lot of page flipping, but the creation of it is a feat of Gygaxian proportions.
As Paul tells the story, it first occurred to him that the tables could be re-drawn as a flow chart. It then struck him that a dungeon is basically a flow chart with monsters in it. So he set out to represent the random dungeon generator as a dungeon, and it turned out beautifully. It’s extremely simple to follow. I’ve already created a few dungeon levels using it, and aside from having a difficult time finding a table large enough for it, it has been a pleasure to use. The art is top-notch as well. I know many of my readers have a soft-spot for detailed black-and-white art, and I don’t think they’d be disappointed by what Paul has done here. There are little visual treats everywhere, with tiny characters making their way through the many dungeon obstacles present.
The Illustrated Wandering Monster Tables are of somewhat less use to me, since I have so much fun creating those tables myself. But the art is, once again, very nice. Plus I think it will be fun to use in conjunction with the random dungeon generator. If I can somehow fit them both behind my GM screen, I won’t even need to bother making any game preparations any more!
So far, the poster has only been made available to those who participated in the Kickstarter campaign, but Paul has said they will be made available somewhere online soon. When it does become available, you have my recommendation to purchase it.
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Posted by LS on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 at 5:45 am
Categories: Old School Dungeons and Dragons
Tags: Mapping, Monsters, OSR, Product Review, Randomization
Casters are overpowered in Pathfinder. It’s not exactly a controversial statement. They’re less overpowered compared to non-casters than they were in D&D 3.5, but that’s not saying much. Wizards were demoted from Gods, to merely Demi-Gods. Finding ways to creatively nerf wizards has become a side hobby of mine. I’d like to bring them in line with the other classes, without taking away of the flavor which I view as central to the class.
In early editions of D&D, Magic Users gained their spells at random, and that served as an effective balancing device. And while I think it’s a really cool idea, I don’t think it fits into the Pathfinder mythos very well. A Pathfinder wizard is a scholar; there is nothing random about how they go about their business. I’ve suggested before simply removing any spells that a wizard gains by leveling up, and instead offering the wizard spells as treasure. I still like this idea a lot, but I understand that not everyone can get behind such a large nerf. It has also recently been suggested that any spell a Wizard casts from a scroll should count against their total spells per day. I quite like this idea as well, but obviously it’s not sufficient to completely balance the class.
While reading a recent post over at Brendan’s site Untimately, I struck upon another idea. What if the spell slots of the Wizard (or any other Caster) were not level specific? According to the current Pathfinder rules, every time a wizard gains a new spell level, they have only 1 spell slot for that level. At the next level it goes up to two slots, two levels after that it goes up to three slots, and three levels later it maxes out at four slots. By level 20, a Wizard is able to prepare four spells from all ten spell levels each day, for a total of 40 spells every day. If they like, a lower level spell can be placed in a higher level spell slot, but that always feels kinda wasteful, doesn’t it?
Using this idea, a wizard will still have spell slots, and still prepare their spells using a Vancian “fire and forget” system. But instead of having X number of slots for Y level spells, the caster will instead gain generic spell slots which can be used to memorize spells of any level. The catch is that each spell requires a number of spell slots equal to its spell level to memorize. So a fifth level spell will require five spell slots.
The way the system scales is really quite interesting. Using the official Pathfinder rules, characters who reach a new spell level can only prepare a single spell of that level until they gain a new character level. Using system, however, characters probably have enough spell slots to prepare several of their highest level spells as soon as they gain access to them–but at the expense of only having a few spells to cast for the day.
I feel like I’m writing ‘level’ and ‘spell’ a lot.
Another interesting thing about this system is that it becomes remarkably easy to scale the wizard’s level of power until you find a good fit for your game. If you’re running a low magic game, Wizards start with 4 spell slots, and gain 2 new slots each time they gain a class level. If you’re running a game with more magic, wizards start with 3 spell slots, and gain 3 each time they level.
The system seems elegant to me, but I haven’t play tested it yet. I wish I could claim credit for coming up with the idea first, but it appears Brendan beat me to the punch by almost a year. And apparently an old sourcebook called The Principalities of Glantri Gazeteer beat him to the punch by several decades. Still, I think the idea deserves some consideration.
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Only a short post today. As I’ve mentioned in the past, two of the members of my current gaming group are artists. This works out pretty great for me, because I regularly get to see my games come to life in cool ways. Such as the above picture.
Currently, my ToKiJaTiMo gaming group has a lot on their minds. They need to kill a dire spider for its eyes, find an entrance to the underdark so they can steal some hair from a drow, track down a spider which is more than a thousand years old so they can nab one of its eggs, investigate a nearby forest where gnolls are mysteriously being transformed into half-ogre monstrosities, hunt down a lich, and make a trip to the Abyss to harvest some demon blood. And some of them haven’t even reached level 2 yet!
In order to facilitate their rather ambitious goals, they traveled across the continent to meet up with their old friend Mahudar Kosopske. The wizard gave the original party members (now level 3) some of their first adventures, and they’ve remained on friendly terms. So when they came to him requesting information and supplies, he was happy to aid them. Even if he did require almost all of their treasure in exchange!
This piece, by the way, is from my rather talented ladyfriend. She’s done a lot of art for Papers & Pencils in the past, and you can see more of her work on her DeviantArt page.
Edit: My ladyfriend is on a roll! This post has not even gone online yet, but she’s already completed another piece based on the same game. Here she depicts a battle earlier in the adventure where the party fought some of those mysterious half-ogre monstrosities. I really love the coloring here, with each of the characters being highlighted in a color which thematically represents their class. Red for the barbarian, green for the ranger, blue for the rogue, yellow for the cleric, and purple for the sorceress.
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Posted by LS on Sunday, May 27th, 2012 at 8:45 am
Tags: Images, My Games, ToKiTiMo