Taedium Edax Rerum

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Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons & Dragons’

Heroics Writ Small

Posted by Doug on May 13, 2009

Off and on over the last week, I’ve been playing—for lack of a better word—the Dungeons & Dragons Tiny Adventures Facebook app.  The “gameplay” is simple (almost to the point of being nonexistent): you pick your character, name it, and then send it out on adventures.  In each adventure, there are between six and fifteen encounters, during which one of your character’s skills will be tested by generating a more-or-less random number between 1 and 20, adding whatever relevent modifiers your character has, and then comparing that to a target number.  If the target number is met or exceeded, you succeed in the encounter, and gain a good chunk of experience, gold, and sometimes an item; if not, you fail in the encounter, you take a significant amount of damage, gain a little experience and a little gold, and rarely an item.  Once you start an adventure, the only control you have is over when your character uses the potions they have (if they have potions).  There is no strategy, no tactics; if you have friends who are also playing, they can “buff” your character (giving a bonus on the tests).  It’s like a slightly more sophisticated version of Progress Quest.

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Limit Break

Posted by Doug on May 3, 2009

Your players have fought every listed encounter group in the Monster Manual, plus all the solos….plus everything from the Draconomicon, and the Dungeon and Dragon magazines, and the other splatbooks, and the homebrewed stuff you made…and the homebrewed stuff you found on the internet.  The PCs have all passed the 1,000,000 experience point mark a long, long time ago.  You’re at the point in your campaign where the well-intentioned Dungeon Master’s Guide recommends ending the campaign, and starting anew, but nobody in your group wants that.  They want to keep going.  The thirty-level limit of the Fourth Edition just rankles them; they want to reach level 31, 32, 33, 40, 50, 60…

Well, I suppose one way to deal with this situation is for the Dungeon Master to simply follow the advice of the  DMG and say “Sorry, level thirty is it.  New campaign!”

This post is not about that option.

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I Just Hope They’re Not Talking About Me

Posted by Doug on April 27, 2009

The possibility exists that I might be serving as Dungeon Master for a player new to Dungeons & Dragons, and so I have been trawling the official D&D Fourth Edition forums, partly for general inspiration, and partly in the hopes of finding some nuggets of wisdom relevant to the task of DMing a new player, and partly just to pass the time.

Posts like “1001 Worst DMs to Ever Have in a Game“, while generally long and whiney, do speak to an underlying truth: some DMs, simply put, suck, and quite frequently the individuals in question are utterly unaware that they do, in fact, suck.  The worst part of it all is that as I read the comments in threads like those, I inevitably start finding descriptions that are eerily familiar, almost as if I’m looking at a mirror…

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Posted in Games, Traditional RPGs | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Tiefling + Zweihander

Posted by Doug on April 24, 2009

The Dungeons & Dragons Character Builder is a very useful program for anyone interested in the most recent edition of Wizards of the Coast’s flagship roleplaying game (whether or not it is worth subscribing to Dungeons & Dragons Insider to access is debatable.  I think it is, but your mileage may vary).  It is a fairly straightforward interface that can step you through the process of making a playable character and whenever you gain levels, it can guide you through that, too.  You make all the choices, and the Character Builder does all the math, adding up your attack bonuses and defenses and whatall, and outputs the end result to a slightly customizable character sheet…which is one of the weaknesses of the program.  At best, it is an inefficient, disorganized layout with lots of unneeded and/or redundant information.  At worst…well, needless to say I organize my character sheets differently.

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Posted in Computers, Games, Software, Traditional RPGs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

A d20 Versus the Chi Squared Test

Posted by Doug on February 10, 2009

So I was trawling through the official Dungeons & Dragons forums, and came across one thread where a DM claimed that he had a player who had rolled a 20 on a twenty-sided die a total of twenty-three times in a row.  Of course, given that the odds of this occuring are 838,860,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1, the consensus of the community seems to be that either the “lucky” player is cheating, or that the DM is full of it.

Of course, the player may not be consciously cheating, and the DM may not be deliberately lying, but just consider: assume that the odds of a player cheating (consciously or not) are 1 in 1000 (generous) and the odds of a poster in a forum repeating nonfactual information (consciously or not) are also 1 in 1000 (veeeeeerrrrrry generous).  This means that either a cheating player or a nontruthful poster are 838,860,800,000,000,000,000,000,000 times more likely than a non-cheating player actually rolling twenty-three 20s in a row.

The other forum-goers who decided to chime in brought up loaded dice (a possibility that the DM vehemently rejected), and this got me to thinking about my own dice: were they fair?  Does, for example, my green-and-white Chessex d20 have exactly the same chance of landing on any one of its twenty faces?

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Posted in Games, Mathematics, Science, Traditional RPGs | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Idiot’s guide to making a deity.

Posted by Yamane Ishi on February 1, 2009

How many times have you tried to make a God? And by that I mean stat one up in fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Way back before I can remember, a couple of years ago, I created a character for a campaign that Doug was going to run. By the nature of the campaign and there only being one player the character was epic 3.5 to begin with and a gestalt rouge-fighter. Well through a series of unfortunate evens, or very fortunate depending how you look at it, he acquired divine ranks and became a god.

Well now it’s my turn to have a go at wreaking mischief upon player characters and I’ve decided to use my character as a major deity within the campaign. It may come to pass that I will need to stat him up as a monster. Now that shouldn’t be too hard right? Except that he had some pretty amazing ability in his 3.5 incarnation. So now I have to create abilities for him that at least resemble to some degree ones that he had without making him massively overwhelming;  cause let’s face it, what’s the point to a big baddy if the characters have no hope in hell of wining. So how do you convert a character that could take on a Great Wyrm Prismatic Dragon as is it was a bug bear to something that 5 level 30s 4e characters can face? Where did I put my Idiot’s guide creating Deities?

Posted in Traditional RPGs | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Dungeons Rove the Land

Posted by Doug on January 31, 2009

“…dungeons were things that roved about the land destroying settlements. The only way to stop them was to delve into them and defeat the guardians…”

I have been interested in traditional roleplaying games since forever, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing and even more time just tinkering around with the 3.0/3.5 version of Dungeons & Dragons. As I was DM more often than not, 3.0/3.5 worked for me, but I spent more time feeling as if I was being held back by the rules, rather than having the rules work for me. Custom-building a monster was a huge amount of work, which was insanely disproportionate to the amount of time that monster would be in the fight (and even then, the resulting monster would either be a TPK or a cakewalk. It was so damn hard to get it right the first time). The alignments were both worked into the fabric of the gameplay system so deeply it was all but impossible to remove them, and so poorly defined as to be meaningless.  Low-level characters were piteously fragile, and high-level characters were either gods or they were not wizards.

Needless to say, when the 4th Edition was announced, I paid close attention to what they had to say about (what I perceived to be) the faults of the previous editions, and I liked what I heard.  I bought the core rulebooks, and I liked what I saw even better.  Custom-building a monster has been streamlined.  Alignments, while still subscribing to a childish black-or-white sense of good and evil, were no longer so obtrusive.  First-level characters don’t have to be treated like a fine glass sculpture, and the wizard is no longer a god (and the fighters, clerics, and rogues are just as powerful and cool).

And there were minions.  Minions are awesome precisely because they’re not awesome.

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Posted in Games, Traditional RPGs | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Dungeons and Dragons of Haruhi Suzumiya

Posted by Doug on October 24, 2008

The D&D of Haruhi Suzumiya

Posted in Anime | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »