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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Goblin Watchtower

In moving towards wrapping up the core rules, I decided an introductory adventure was required. Originally, I planned to skip this since the core rules will also have Vault of the Goblin as part of the package, then I realized that someone may end up with just this one book, and that I could/should use the intro adventure as a teaching tool for the GM. I was going to save that GM instruction for Vault of the Goblin (and I still may save some of it), but at least a primer to running the adventure has to go in the core rules. I like the old school vibe of the map, and it has enough nooks and crannies to do some things that are a little less conventional. Want to descend the well to attack the tower? Go for it. Want to march in the front door? Okay. Want to rummage 'round at the bottom of the pit under the draw bridge? Cool! You might find the secret door...

In terms of the adventure itself, I think that the hook is that the fellowship is exploring while the bandits who have claimed the tower are away... and the boys come home as the PCs are exploring. This gives them a number of interesting options... they can defend the tower (close the draw bridge and fire up the ballistae) or hide out and try to pick them off... or simply take advantage of one of the many means of escape, if they feel the bandits are too much to deal with. Of course, there are other things to deal with in the natural caves that have crawled out of the water, too...

FYI, that dotted line down the middle is a knotted rope. The ladders they used to have are long since rotted, and the new residents have run a long knotted rope through fireman holes to allow you to go up and down (assuming you have the muscle to do it).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More Maps

Two maps of vastly different styles/approaches. I have been trying to mix up the elemental halls a little in terms of design of the maps, and I like how this elemental ice hall came out, with the big glacier pushing in through the south, and the skating rink over to the east (and the ice slide to the west)... maybe my daughter's been making me watch Frozen too much.

Then, I wanted to go a little more classic and old school (since my last few maps have been stretching me more) and decided to finish the rest of level 1, with the "slaver's stockade" where the goblins kept and tortured their prisoners/slaves. There was once a passage in the southwest corner that lead to the outside world, but during the Goblin Wars that was sealed off, so the only way to access this level is from the central stair. I see this as the terminus of exploration of Level 1 (in fact, many fellowships may not even get here, since it's a pretty remote corner of the first level), but I also see it as ideal for a place to set up as a base of operations. Once you clear out the undead lingering here and the all of the spiders, this would be a fancy HQ for an ambitious fellowship... convert that little chaos temple to law, fire up the old baths, clean out the prisons and torture chamber, and you have a nice little home away from home!

Friday, July 25, 2014

More from the Sketchbook

Two more pieces from sketching it up... a dwarf, and an example of charm monster for the creature section...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

From the Sketchbook

I tried to channel my inner Mike Mignola/Jeff Smith, and these are what I came up with. I'm not sure if any are keepers for the core rulebook, but it was fun to stretch my legs a little. I think that my style is coming along in terms of hybridizing what I do with what I want to do... getting closer all the time.

Now, I need to start thinking about actually signing my art! I realized that I never even put my initials on anything...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Of Feats and Saves

As I’ve been reviewing the core rules draft (I really want to finalize this before I get too deep into books 2 and 3… ), I find that many abilities end up working similar to saving throws… a thief’s ability to pilfer an object or foil traps is based on his level modifier + his dex modifier +4.

But so is his saving throw.

So do I need two mechanics?

Actually. I don’t.

As of right now, a save has been defined as a defensive/resistant ability. Thief abilities are generally active. However, I’ve already layered sense into your save, and that can be active or passive, depending on the situation.

I need to re-define saves. And I think I’m using feats, a la army ants.

It’s the same number derived in the same way. Roll a FEAT to do any of these things… withstand a poison, prevent being turned to stone, sneak around, sense the unknown… and you can get situational or magical modifiers to these rolls. You can take a talent that makes you a better burglar (+2 to burglary FEAT rolls), drink a potion that makes you more perceptive (+2 to sense FEAT rolls) or face a spider with a weaker than usual poison (+2 to the FEAT to resist the poison).

Since I am re-branding ‘saves’ as FEATS, I will have to re-brand what I’ve been using as feats as ‘Talents’. It’s mostly semantics, but these are important semantics in terms of their overall function in the game…

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Feats in Saga of the Splintered Realm

In the draft I have going for Saga of the Splintered Realm, I am using 'feats' as a catch all for a variety of ways you can upgrade your character. Characters earn feat 'slots' at advancement thresholds:

Humans earn feats at levels 3, 6, 9, 12
Demi-humans earn feats at levels 4, 8, 12

Feats include pretty much everything you could want to upgrade your character. Examples include:

- The ability to cast an extra level 1 spell. You could take this as a fighter to pick up cure light wounds, or as a magic user to get an extra level 1 spell slot.

- Enemy, giving you +1 to all rolls against that enemy type.
- A +1 to any one attribute score.
- An extra attack each round.
- Two-handed fighting

Right now, I know that these are not particularly well balanced, but I'm working towards a modicum of balance. Some feats seems more powerful than others (an extra attack each round trumps a level 1 spell pretty handily), so it's absolutely a work in progress. We play tested last night with a group of level 5 characters, and I'll walk you through how this worked out...

The human fighter and elf champion both took quick strike, giving the +1 attack roll every round (with the primary weapon). My human cleric took +1 vs. an enemy type (he selected undead), and this came in very handy against the vampire they squared off with. The human magic user took quick spell, granting one round of double-casting per turn.

I like this as a mechanic that unifies a variety of other abilities into one mechanic. You want to be a very quick ranged combatant? Take sharpshooting (giving you +2 to damage) and quick draw (giving you an extra missile weapon attack per round). Pick up expertise in DEX (taking your DEX to 13) and you are borderline Legolas... by the time you get to level 12.

I plan to layer every other ability into this hierarchy... so the fellowship found a bunch of roc eggs, and they plan to raise these. If they want to train them and take them as steeds, that's fine - but they are going to have to use a feat slot to pick up the ability to ride and handle a mount like that.

Feats provide a mechanical framework for a lot of the quirky things players want to be able to do, and sets up specific levels at which they can pick up such abilities.