Proprietary cases are a great way to give your minis the love that they deserve, but they can overkill tabletop RPGs. Here’s a quick and dirty way to keep them safe, while keeping your budget under $10
I’ve had a strange relationship with the grandfather of all RPGs. I speak, of course, of the venerable Dungeons & Dragons.
You see, as a child of the 80s, I originally bought in to the “Satanic Panic” that was going on around the game and so did my parents. I had known a few people who played, but I avoided those people for fear that I would somehow become “corrupted.”
Wizards of the Coast announced this week they are working on Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Unlike previous releases they are now courting player input. Many long-time players were upset by 4th edition. They often referred to it as World of Warcraft with pen and paper.
As a relative newcomer to D&D I think there is some good to be had in asking for player input. But, it won’t be an easy road to travel. I should clarify that I like 4e. For years I looked at D&D with fascination but never took the plunge. The game looked too difficult to get into. Creating a player, getting a party, finding a DM, and playing appeared to be massive chores.
Fourth edition simplified all of that. It made the game accessible to a wider group of potential players. Friends often spoke of the difficulty in finding a good Dungeon Master for their 3rd edition and 3.5 pathfinder games. Players who wanted to wear the DM helmet found themselves rudderless. Fourth edition made the task of creating encounters much easier. The new Dungeon Master Guide walks DMs through encounter creation and helps them to balance the fight for adventurers of any level. Need a moderately difficult encounter for a party of fifth-level characters? Don’t worry because the DM Guide makes that easy to accomplish.
It is clear that the focus of the game has shifted to place a spotlight on the action. Yet, any DM worth their mettle can weave a tale for their players. This allows for the adventurers to earn XP in non-combat settings.
As any gamer quickly learns, gamers hold myriad opinions and are unafraid of voicing those opinions. This could prove problematic when Wizards invites feedback as part of developing 5th edition. People have grown up with D&D and are passionate about the game. To many people it means so much. The cacophony of feedback will not be easy to sift through. I don’t envy Wizards’ task. But, they are taking a huge leap in the right direction. Finding out, in a transparent setting, what their customers want may help to improve the game so many of us love and enjoy.
What do you think about Wizards’ new move? Please post your comments below.
As a DM returning to the table from a long absence I’d have to say it’s both. The journey is its own self-same reward, but there’s a lot to be said for the accolades and loot you find at the end of the road. Striking that balance can be hard, but it’s satisfying when you do.
You may be scratching your head and saying to yourself “not another new guy!” Hopefully you’re instead asking yourself, with eager anticipation, who is this Jonathan person? Maybe, just maybe, you’re ready to unleash 20 questions for me to answer.
To save the awkwardness of spending time creating and filling out questionnaires please allow me to introduce myself. I’ve gone by many names. Viktrious the Kingslayer. Nathaniel Hawksworth. ^Raven^. Arick Rolanputural III. Benjamin Kil’dred Nam’a’taht. Rajzar Raoub. Most people, however, call me Jonathan.
I’m a 30 year old retired local politician working in a public library that loves to game. Gaming, talking about gaming, and preparing to game are some of my favorite activities. They’re so beloved that I run my own gaming blog, CWF Game Cast, and bi-weekly gaming podcast titled Wargaming Recon. Naturally, I do those when I’m not on TrollITC posting about gaming.
As a kid I played the stereotypical children’s games. My grandfather and father taught me how to play chess. Checkers, Guess Who, Stratego, and Sorry were some of my favorite board games. Over the years I graduated into playing classic Milton Bradley games like Axis & Allies, Broadsides and Boarding Parties, Conquest of the Empire, and Shogun (now known as Samurai Swords).
My gaming experience drastically changed when I graduated high school and bought into Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy, and Battlefleet Gothic. That transformed me into, primarily, a miniatures wargamer. I still play a healthy dose of board and card games. But, my focus was forever shifted onto miniatures.
The one oddity in all of this is my love of roleplaying games. I say that RPGs are the oddity, for me, because I didn’t play a pen and paper RPG until Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition came out. I had seen earlier versions of the game, such as AD&D, but never actually played them. It seemed too confusing to create a character, learn the game mechanics, find a party to adventure with, and get a great dungeon master. Fourth edition made most of that absurdly easy.
By now you get the picture. I love games and have played a variety of them. The question remains, “what can you expect me to post on TrollITC?” You can bet to see the usual content that one shares on a gaming blog. I will review gaming products, share my thoughts on games, and discuss my gaming life. Currently I’m enraptured with Warlord Games’ Black Powder rules. Or, as I prefer to call them “Suggested Guidelines for Gentlemanly Wargaming.” Those rules are the system for an American Civil War scenario, Daybreak at Hangman’s Creek, that a couple of my friends are running with me at the Total Confusion game convention this February. I am sure to discuss my process of bringing this game to a convention reality.
Before I end this piece I want to thank you for sticking around this long. I am long-winded, which is a bad thing for a journalist and a blogger. We’re supposed to write tight as my high school and college journalism teacher used to say. That’s hard to do when there’s so much to talk about. It is a good thing that Ben is around to keep me in line each week when I share a new post with you.
If there are games, topics, or anything gaming related you want me to share, then please don’t hesitate to be heard. You can leave comments on this post or e-mail me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My history with D&D 4th Edition has been a rocky one. When 4e first came out, I began a campaign with a bunch of old friends. We played fro about four months before the burden of GMing—which was, sadly, a burden at the time—became too much for me. I transitioned to being a player in the same group. It wasn’t long before I had a falling out with a member of that gaming group, and subsequently, left, ending up gameless for another six months or so. The problem was that I conflated D&D 4e with the troubles I had with that person, and began to intensely dislike it. I talked about all of that, as well as my reconciliation with D&D 4e in this post.
Both I and D&D 4e have come a long way since those days. I have matured, and so has the product. When I went to GenCon this year, I talked with some folks from Wizards of the Coast, and I was excited to hear about what they were doing with their (then) upcoming campaign setting, Neverwinter. I got myself on to their review list, and received my copy of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting a few weeks ago. I’ve been giving it a once-over, and I am liking what I am seeing. As this is the first 4e D&D product that I have actively looked at since the Adventurer’s Vault came out, I am going to look at this product both as what it is—obviously—as well as what it does as a representation of where 4e products have come. (Hint: they have come a long way).
When I take a look back at the three original core books for D&D 4e, I see what amounts to some unpolished work. And I mean that in a very specific way. It’s not that the books were not put together well, or that the information contained within them was unfinished, but they seemed to be lacking a support structure. The “Points of Light” campaign setting ideal was one that I really liked the idea of, however, the traditional Greyhawk underpinnings felt like they were forced to work with the racial changes—Dragonborn, Eladrin and Teiflings. It never completely meshed for me.
Now, I realize that WotC updated the Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun and Eberron to reflect these changes, and they succeeded to one degree or another. I am not familiar with those products, so I can’t comment on how successful they were. From what I have heard about them, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting is a refinement of the presentation of the original settings.
The biggest thing that I can see if the introduction of the Themes, which I understand were introduced in Dark Sun. They really give a DM a hook to hang their hat on in terms of campaign planning. The city of Neverwinter and the surrounding areas are full of plot hooks, great detail, and a lot of interesting directions in which a campaign could go. As well, the presentation of that information is spot-on. The book is very easy to follow, in contrast to what I thought were some relatively cludgy layout choices in original Core books. The art is also uniformly good, and since I am new to the book, it is all new to me. I have heard that some of it is reused from other products, and if I knew the books fr0m which they came, it would bother me a bit. I realize art is expensive, but it always rankled that the 4e Core Books reused art from 3rd Edition, especially the Monster Manual.
As well, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting caps out at 10th level, or the end of Heroic Tier. I think this is a great idea, as it provides a much-needed sense of scale to both the setting as presented, and the Forgotten Realms in general. I love Faerun, but many people have this sense that there are so many super-powerful people running around that those people should fix all of the problems, not their characters.
What’s the Same?
Well, furor over Essentials aside, this book looks like a 4e book. I know that there have been errata changes out the yin-yang, but I feel like I could use this book with my Core books with little issue. That thought might stem from my naivete, and my lack of a regular 4e game, but it feels right as I look at the books in comparison. This is still 4e, even though it has been updated and tweaked. I like it.
If you’ve been looking for a place to set an upcoming 4e game, I really recommend this. I love all of the setting detail, and the improvements in presentation that I see from the Core books to this book. Also, capping things at Heroic tier makes this game much more manageable, which I enjoy as a DM.
Before I give my final score, I realize that it might be unfair to compare what is essentially a settingless trio of books to a fully developed campaign setting that has the benefit of a few good years of development. In fact, they’re not even really the same thing. I get that. However, I have not actively worked with a 4e product since the end of the campaign I mentioned above, so for me, the comparison was necessary, as I had to see for myself how far the D&D 4e product line had come.
Final Verdict: 4.75 out of 5 stars. I love the setting, I love the presentation, and I recommend you check this out.
Despite Wizards of the Coast not showing up on my doorstep with a giant novelty check and a offer to move to Renton, I’ve decided to complete what I set out to accomplish. And that was of course to publish two articles so mind numbingly boring that ICANN shuts down the internet. The first was “How do I add 25% to 4d8+18?”
But first, let me clarify something about the previous article. I picked a bad title. I should have stuck with “No, Pimp MY Orcus”, or “Roleplaying with PORN STARS and monster damage charts”. But instead I picked the one dice roll that happened to be trivially easy to add 25% to. Did I pick 3d6+11? Noooooo. I had to pick the one that anyone half-awake would notice as an easy conversion. So my hat’s off to ya, me muckers, for paying attention.
I’ve included in my files below the 50% increase in damage for single target attacks. I won’t belabour how I arrived at my numbers because I used the same method as for 25%, and so it’s nothing surprising. What I did want to talk about is the Two-or-more-targets chart. I don’t like it – they broke it – so I went and fixed it.
The two-or-more-targets damage chart has a nice regular pattern to it. The average damage and critical damages go up twice, then they repeat twice. Two increasing, two the same. Two increasing, two the same. Damage is always going up. I’m a strong believer that regularity is good. But for some reason, at level 26, they decided to break that pattern and DROP the average damage and the crit damage. Scandalous I know! But my beef is that there’s no good reason for it – there’s no bad reason even – it just plain and simple looks like a mistake. So I fixed it.
Then there’s the minions. I like minions – I think every encounter should have a few. Minion damage hasn’t been errata’d recently, but does show up in the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 (page 133). And, of course, they’ve got their own special fine print: “Artillery minions deal 25% less damage on multitarget and melee attacks”. So I took the chart, added another column for Artillery -25% damages, and extended it down to level 35.
So I present to you, the three charts for your 4th Edition monster designing fun:
- Single Target Damage table, with +25% and +50%, down to 35th level.
- Multi-Target Damage table, with +25% and +50%, down to 35th level. With my correction.
- Minion Damage table, with Brute (+25%) and Artillery (-25%), down to 35th level.
- And, as a bonus, all the above wrapped up into a handy spreadsheet.
And just in case it wasn’t clear from the start – I hope that someone, somewhere does find these charts useful and time-saving. If not then – well – my family had a lot of fun dressing up my miniatures. Not a total wash in my book.
(Warning – There will be math. And numbers. They bore me too. Well, not really but I’m trying to empathize. Skip the numbers if you don’t like them – dwell on the poor humor instead.)
In July 2010, Wizards of the Coast released a Dungeons and Dragons (4e) errata update, specifically to the Dungeon Masters Guide, more specifically the monster damage table. Monsters in the upper tiers were proving to be woefully underpowered – they just weren’t hitting hard enough. Now this table (shown very helpfully to the right) is all well and good – useful even. But the footnotes I found vexing.
For brutes, the damage should be 25 percent higher. For limited damage, such as damage from encounter powers or recharge powers, increase the value by 25 to 50 percent.
How do I add 25% to 4d8+18?
It’s not one of those things I picked up in grade school. I must have been sick that day.
I started by investigating – how much damage are we talking about here? 4d8+18 sounds like a lot. On average, 4d8+18 will do 36 points of damage. (Don’t believe me? Wolfram Alpha does dice). Now 36 is a number I can deal with. 25% more is 45. But I don’t think the intent is for monster designers to be doing math on every dice roll. (Other than addition don’t get pedantic on me) I have yet to see a monster block containing the text: “Hit: 2d10+8+25% points of necrotic damage, and DM is dazed (save ends)”. My presumption here is that we need find a dice combination that rolls 25% higher.
Now before I go any further let me explain why I care about any of this: I received Orcus for Christmas. (PSA: You know you’ve been bad, very very bad, when you find a demon in your stocking). I’d also been reading Sly Flourish’s article Pimp my Tarrasque, so I had the brilliant idea of updating Orcy’s statistics and maybe even get an article out of it. I even had thought of the perfect title: Pimp my Orcus. I’m good with titles.
So, to get an average of 45, there’s one very easy way to do that. 4d8+18 already averages 36. Just make it 4d8+27. And that works in a pinch. But I was worried about the extreme end of the damage scale. What about the critical hit?
Now I’d argue to a group of drunken Dungeon Masters and Badger wranglers that the critical hit damage is as important as the average. Especially for brutes and such, and that it deserves the 25% boost too. “Why?!” they’d shout, and I’d answer “Be quiet you sorry lot, drink your Goblin’s Piss Ale, and I’ll tell you.” Monsters do not hit Player Characters on every roll of a d20. Maybe half of the time. For the sake of discussion, let’s suppose a monster misses the PC on any roll 10 or under. 11 or higher, it hits. And on a 20 it gets full damage – a critical hit. This means that 10% of the time (1/10) that the monster hits, it gets full damage. Compare that to rolling a 4d8. The changes of getting full damage (rolling all 8s) is 1 in 512. When rolling multiple dice, it’s hard to deviate from the average roll. You should be familiar with this exercise. Roll an 18 on 3d6. Go ahead. Do it now. Didn’t do it? Really? An 18 appears on 3d6 less than 1% of the time (I don’t want to turn this into a dice and probability lesson, so you’ll have to trust me). A maxed out roll – full damage – gets even more rare the more dice you roll. So having the critical happen 10% of the time is often. And that makes it important to get right.
Returning to the 4d8+18, the critical on that is 50, and 25% on top of that is 62.5. The “works in a pinch solution” of 4d8+27, only produces a critical of 59. I’m not going to claim that is a huge difference, but – is there a way to get the best of both worlds? Is there combination of dice and bonus that produces an average roll of 45, and a critical of at least 62.5? There is: 4d10+23 gives us exactly that. An average of 45, and a critical of 63. So, being an altruistic anal retentive fool (lawful good), I set out to find a dice and bonus combo for every entry on the table. And I set myself some limitations. The new combo couldn’t be fundamentally different from the original – I didn’t want to go from 4d8+18 to 1d20+35, or 13d6+3. I wanted the critical damage to be at least 25% higher than the base roll and the average should be within 1 or 2 points of ideal.
And thus was created my first masterworks armor damage chart. Only it had a fatal flaw. An Achilles heel that those paying attention will have already caught. Orcus is level 33 – the table in the DMG is a few levels too short. But the trend of the table is easy to spot. Average normal damage is level + 8, with a little wiggle room. I extended it downward to level 35, and calculated the brutes damage.
At this point I decided to return to Sly Flourish, to check my work and compare notes. And discovered that Mike Shea is a rat fink time traveler who traveled into my future, read this brilliant classic article, returned to the past and put it on his blog. He even stole my great title – Pimp My Orcus. If you had popped open the hatch on the ISS space station you couldn’t have sucked out my enthusiasm faster.
But again, being Lawful Good, I realized that in order not to create a time paradox and destroy the universe, I had to write this article for him to retro-plagiarize. And it gave me something to compare against, and see if I have a legal case he read my thesis carefully. Apparently he has not. The Wand of Orcus attack he has does 4d8+33 damage. Mine is 5d8+29. His average and crit are 51 & 65, respectively, and mine are 51½ & 69.
“But Wait!” you cry, a pleading, desperate tone to your voice, “What about 50% higher damage? What about two or more targets? And minions? You haven’t completed the chart!” Well, yes I have. But you’ll have to wait until next time to get that succulent, juicy morsel. Like John Wick commands, I Play Dirty.
[tags]rpgs, dungeons and dragons, 4e, D&D, role playing games, math[/tags]