All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Dungeons And Dragons; Home Brew

Last week I mentioned that I run a D&D game. I also mentioned that I write my own campaign rather than using an adventure that's either been brought out by Wizards or created by other DMs. I also have created several Homebrew items and abilities, which I thought I'd share with you here.

So the First one is an item I built for my group's 4th level barbarian/1st level Spellcaster. They were at a decent level but their spells were pretty much useless and so they were never using it. I created this item as an 'ancient artefact' that the party could never get any more of.
The item;
'Ring of Hidden Power'
A ring that can be activated as a part of any other spell.
The ring has 5 charges, each day at dawn it restores 1d2+1 charges. One charge can be expended to augment a spells caster level by one. Four charges can be used to maximise the spells potential caster level.

The second item was built for the same campaign, but for our beguiler (basically a 3.5 version of the arcane trickster rogue). The player was struggling with their character because they'd built the character for the city we were going to with all of the rogue hiding and lock picking stuff, he had very little combat utility but it took us a year to get there and it was getting frustrating.
The item;
'Everwand of Emulation'
This wand has no specific spell that it can use, instead it emulates any spell up to spell level 3 that is cast into it. To cast a spell into the Everwand of Emulation a spellcaster must sit, holding the wand for an hour and then cast the chosen spell for it’s full costs. Once the spell has been cast the wand will cast that spell until for one week and the spell fades at dawn on the seventh day. This ritual can only be performed once a week.
This wand has 5 charges, each day at dawn it restors 1d2 charges. The wand consumes 1 charge for every spell level that a spell uses when cast through it (minimum 1 charge). And the spell’s caster level is considered the caster level of the person who cast the spell into the wand, when they cast it.
Spells with ongoing triggered effects (i.e. call lightning) only use their initial effect.

The third item was for the Paladin in our group who had miss-built her character for what she was hoping to do. She was wanting to get in the thick of things and fight, btu hadn't put any points into strength, and so could never hit. I didn't want to just give her strength, I wanted to make new game play and utility, not just a buff.
'Circlet of accuracy'
The circlet has ten charges, each day at dawn it restores 1d6+1 charge. One charge can be expended to add one to their attack roll before rolling to attack. Three charges can be expended to add one to their attack roll after rolling to attack. Five charges can be expended to re-roll an attack but the player must then take the second roll (even it it’s worse).

The final thing I'm going to talk about is a feat I built for D&D 3.5. This came about because our Barbarian wanted their character's main thing to be that they kill monsters and then Kill them. Which sounded cool. she wanted to be a chef in the game and when I really looked into the cooking crafts and professions in D&D 3.5 it was very meaningless. Food meant nothing except that you had to eat something twice a day. Professions meant nothing except you could roll on it to get money when the opportunity arrived.
So here it is;
'Monster Cooking'
Prerequisite: Craft (cooking)
DC = monsters (CR x 1.5) + 10 (rounded up)
Time per 4 meals:
Take 15 minutes at -2
Take 30 minutes at -1
Take 1 hour at no change
Take 1 hour 30 minutes at +1
Every 60 minutes longer gives the player an additional +1 to their cooking roll up to +5.
Critical fail; all who ate any take 1d6 of damage of the creatures element or poison if not applicable)
Fail; it's fine, the food sustains you for 6 hours with no bonuses.
Success; All players who eat the food gain +1/10th of the Monsters highest stat (if multiple equal stats roll for the stat) for 6 hours or until their next meal. (e.g. successfully cooking an adult black dragon will give the player +2 strength).
Critical Success; as well as the stat change from success players get 1 of the monsters hit dice + players con health. (e.g. a crit-success cooking an adult black dragon gives the players 1d12+con modifier hp)

So to sum it up; the barbarian can cook monsters and if she passes the DC (difficulty class or target number) then all those who eat it will gain a bonus based on the stats of the monster that she's eating.

So those are just some things I've home brewed for my players. I've also re-built the Paladin class and the Hexblade class to make them more interesting, but I feel like they'll be a bit hard to comprehend here.

I hope that you find that interesting. Perhaps I'll start talking about the campaign itself soon. Who knows!

- James

Monday, 25 February 2019

Dungeons and Dragons and Me

Over the past few years the phenomena that is Dungeons and Dragons has rocketed in popularity, spreading far and wide. In part due to twitch streaming shows such as the acclaimed Critical Role on Geek and Sundry and the perhaps less known but just as good Dice Camera Action on DnD's Twitch channel. These shows and shows like them, more than anything else I believe has brought D&D into the mainstream, increasing their popularity and making them more acceptable in the public eye. And to clarify I don't mean the whole Satanic Panic thing from the seventies where people got the wrong end of the stick and linked D&D to devil worship, I'm talking more the social stereotypes making D&D seem a little... I don't know, something that you hide?
Which is great. D&D and other Role Playing games like it are amazing. there is absolutely no reason you should have to hide that you play. No reason that you should want to play but then get real quiet about it when people who don't play are nearby. And these shows, and more specifically the people on them have done so much to make that happen.
From their work with 826LA to the 'Jocks Machina' phenom these people have done an insane amount of work and put so much love into this to make it mainstream and acceptable.

What I wanted to talk about today is less about D&D in general and more about What D&D has done for me.
I might talk about D&D itself in more detail another time but right now I wanted to address the reasons that I personally think that D&D is amazing.
To understand really what it means to me we need a little background;
Upon writing this I am a 32 year old Games Designer with delusions of Author-hood. I've been in the games industry for 10 years as of September 2019, I've been playing role playing games almost constantly since 2015 when I watched a show on Geek and Sundry called 'Titans grave' DMd by Wil Wheaton.
Something in that show struck me, something about the storytelling, the investment of the players and the way that the DM could craft a world and a narrative where anything could happen.
After watching that through I went to my friends and sent out an e-mail to my company saying 'I'm going to run a game of Fantasy age. Who wants to play.' I got about 10 responses. so I asked them 'What do you want the world to be like? fantasy, scifi, modern age?' which helped me figure out what I wanted to do. It didn't even occur to me that I could buy or use a premade campaign. as soon as I decided that I was doing a RPG I was building a world. I was building a story, I was going nuts. Even now I don't use premade campaigns, not because they're bad but simply because what i want to do is tell a story, build something from nothing and interact with the players in a meaningful way that I personally don't think I can get from a campaign book.
Anyway, over the weeks leading up to playing the number of players wittled down to 4 and then 3. eventually that campaign ended due to people being unable to attend and interest dropped off. But I'd been bitten by the bug. I knew I wanted to keep going, and I've been DMing, whether in Fantasy age, D&D, Fate, Dread or who knows what other rule set ever since.

I've always been fairly shy. People around me have always had the spotlight and I've never been good at talking in public, at making myself known, at asserting myself in general, but being a DM means that you can't just be on the side lines.
For me one of the biggest things I can say that D&D has done for me has made me much more comfortable with myself and has (to use an over-used parlance) brought me out of my shell. Now that isn't to say I'm not shy in some situations, but it's helped me so much. There was a time when I couldn't speak up for fear of making a fool of myself. Even in DMing there was a time when I couldnt cut people off and get them back on track with the game. Now I lead discussions at work, and use character voices in the DM chair.

Not only that but those people who stayed for that first Fantasy Age game are my best friends now and they're still my players, as well as a couple more. those people who I DM for I make lasting friendships with. It gives us a connection, a bond that I haven't had in any other situation, and the things I design and build in D&D give me things to talk to other people about.
Not to mention that all of this world building has been incredibly useful for helping me to become a better games Designer.

Basically what I'm saying is that D&D is amazing. Role Playing Games are amazing. They help you in so many ways, especially social skills and everyone should do it.
I will most likely make more posts about D&D in the future, maybe some DMing stuff but for now that is it.

- James
A fun D&D story

Monday, 18 February 2019

Throw the Javelin

I played the Anthem demos. both the VIP one and the open one. If you just want to know what I thought of the game without having to read everything; basically I really enjoyed the gameplay, but there were some massive issues with the VIP demo and a few issues with the open demo.

If you're still here, then I suppose you want a more in depth review of what I played. As always I have to start with the preface that I'm a massive Bioware Fanboy. That said, this is a very different type of game to the games they usually make. It’s still a role playing game to an extent but the focus has shifted away from the story or at least away from the human experience, the relationships you form to something more about gameplay and action.
For those who don’t know, Anthem is BioWare and EA’s upcoming multiplayer, 4-person-squad based shooter based around the mech-like ‘Javelins’ that the players will operate and pilot.
Not a lot is know about the story at this point, it seems to be a sort of post apocalypse where people live in forts and players known as ‘freelancers’ venture out to get whatever is needed and stop the bad guys and monsters from coming to get you.
It's a fairly common idea that we see in games a lot these days. Destiny, Borderlands, Metro to an extent, fallout and who knows how many others. So i wouldn't say the story is particularly original, which is a shame because that's what we all know and love about Bioware. That said it was only a demo. We got barely any story for it, so it's unfair to judge.
What we did get was level 10 game play.
the developers have said that the levels will cap out at level 30 so what we played was about a third through the game, strength wise and it was a ton of fun. One thing I've heard a lot, and agree with about the last Mass Effect, Mass Effect Andromeda, is that the story was bad, but the gameplay was a lot of fun, really refined, and i feel like Anthem took that and massively improved upon it. Without the shackles of an established franchise to hold it down I genuinely think that Anthem's gameplay was a huge step in the right direction.
The flying felt fun, the combat was punchy and the special powers made me feel very Epic. Especially the Storm suit which had me blasting elemental attacks as well as using the standard guns.

It's also worth noting that despite the solid game play there were a lot of issues with the VIP Beta, not all of which were fixed for the open Demo. For instance I experienced infinite load times, menu errors that stop you from being able to continue and the servers just not working for the first twelve hours or so.
It's to Biowares credits that all of these things were fixed by the open demo and the issues I faced in the open beta were significantly smaller, limited to things like losing connection to the server or simple bugs like graphical errors and lag.

So like I said, there were some errors but the gameplay was really enjoyable. We'll see how it does when it goes live on friday the 22nd, though I wont be able to play until the 25th as I'm going on holiday.
I do have high hopes, I hope its good.

- James

Anthem Tube

Monday, 11 February 2019

Fallout 76, a bad experience.

So I went into Fallout 76 knowing how bad everyone said it was and to be honest I didn't have that experience. i played it for a couple of hours with my uncle and we had a good time. It wasn't a full fallout game by any means, but I hadn't paid full price and looking at it as just a sandbox to have fun with someone it was a fun thing to do. Run around murder things and maybe build up my settlement, but today, only my second time on the game things started going down hill.
I was level 4, just out of the gate, hadn't even finished tutorial quests they give you to learn about the game and these 2 guys about 10 levels higher than me started attacking me. At first it was just annoying, they were hitting me but it was doing nothing because I was below the level where I could engage in PVP. but then I levelled up, still not out of the tutorials and they started being able to hurt me, sure it wasn't a lot, but they just wouldn't stop. they followed us around for the entire rest of the game attacking and then killing us.
there's a system they have in the game that is supposed to prevent this sort of griefing and that is that if people attack you and don't respond they kill you and they get a bounty on your head. but there are 2 things this doesn't take into account; until you respond this takes a long time to do so you're basically stuck not playing the game because you have a bunch of ass holes griefing you slowly to death, thus destroying your fun
and 2, there has to be players on the server that want to go after criminal players. on this server world clearly there was not because We got killed a couple of times and they just kept finding us on the map and keep on coming for us.

This really feels like a flaw in the game to me. maybe because I don't come from a DayZ background, maybe cos I never really picked up on Ark survival, but I went into this game to play with my friend and that experience ended up not happening because these two guys wouldn't let us. not only that but when they killed me they stole resources off me, so it actively reversed my game progression up to that point, and that's a really bad feeling when you've barely started the game.
It didn't even give us the option of changing server worlds, We could have quit and come back, but by that point we're basically done playing.

For me this is a very poorly designed system, it relies too much of the assumption that other people will want to stop the griefers, and doesn't take into account the idea that people might buy the game 2 months after release.

We will likely pick it up again, because we like playing co-op enough to give it a second shot, but if I'd been playing this single player I would be uninstalling the game now.

- James
Fallout Tube