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Tag Archives: D&D 4E

I know I have been silent for a rather long time, but the semester ended up taking a lot of my attention towards the end.   But, with the most recent announcements of WotC about the work on the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, I find myself torn.  Fourth ed worked alright, but I am very worried about the general downward trend Hasbro/WotC is taking with their roleplaying games.   I have signed up to be a playtester for the new edition, and hope to make some kind of decent impact on the new iteration of the game.

In pursuit of this, I have been watching the developer blogs closely.  I came up with this one this afternoon: http://community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/01/20/mechanics_supporting_story.

Monte Cook, one of my favorite damned game designers of all time, takes a very short amount of time and text to deal with something I do find problematic: Should a flavor factoid for a race, or of any kind for that matter, provide a game mechanic bonus?  The example given by Cook is how dwarves favor axes and elves favor bows.  Should they necessarily receive a mechanical bonus to attack just because they are the stereotypical weapons for the race?

My answer to this is a firm No.  Think about it: just because a race favors a weapon over others doesn’t mean they all attack better with them.  In addition, rulesets like this create a problem.  I call it the No Child Left Behind Effect.

Follow me on this.

When No Child Left Behind came around, it was discovered that teachers were told by administrators to teach the test materials in an effort to secure greater funding for the schools.  In essence, they stopped teaching comprehension and began teaching rote memorization.  All for a bonus.

Now, when you tell players that al dwarves gain a +1 to attack with all weapons considered axes, you are, in essence, telling them that if they play a dwarf, they better use an axe.  After all, to do otherwise is to miss out on a mechanical loophole that makes you a better warrior.  This causes players to, at least 19 out of 20 times, follow the stereotype in order to min/max their character.  You are encouraging a decrease in creativity instead of offering chances for your players to break out of Tolkienian molds in order to blaze new trails and ideas.

One of the things I alternately offered was called a Proficiency Downgrade; certain races treated certain weapons as being one category lower for proficiency purposes.  Dwarves would treat Axes as part of this, meaning that in Fourth Edition, an Urgosh, normally a Superior Weapon, would be treated as a Martial Weapon for proficiency purposes.  By the same token, a battle axe would be treated as a Simple Weapon instead of a Martial Weapon.  This shows that the Axe is a weapon favored by dwarves, but mechanically speaking, there is no bonus to attack or damage offered.    Sure, many players will opt into Axes still, but it dramatically decreases that amount.

Personally, if I wouldn’t face absolute rebellion by doing so, they would be a simple thematic element.  Dwarves like axes; big deal.  Most dwarves you run into will use them, but not necessarily every PC.

What do you think?

Well, I figured I would let the cat out of the bag and tell everyone the project I am working on, and that is a comprehensive update of Ravenloft to Fourth Edition.  So far, I have about 12 pages of notes for this, and I haven’t even hit on the Curses or on the Domains themselves.  One week in, and I really wish I was getting paid to do this stuff.  I am also considering finishing off the Shadow power source, ignoring the Vampire class from Heroes of Shadow, and instead making up a leader, controller, and defender class using the power source to go along with the Assassin class from Dragon Magazine.

Please, tell me what you think; you would all be surprised how your feedback helps spur me on.

Thanks, and hang in there!

Alright, folks, I have decided to try something new.  I have created a character for D&D 4E, a warlord named Rami.  What I am looking for is three other characters that would make a good party to accompany Rami on adventures.  Since Rami is a warlord, a leader class, I am looking for other characters of the other roles: defender, striker, and controller.  This is less about game statistics and more about background and flavor.  I am looking for a cool character with a great backstory that will work well with Rami’s background.

I wish I could offer something like a cash prize or such, but really all I can do it offer this: each winning entry gets a chance to decide a subject for a blogpost.  So, what you can do is come up with a one to two page character backstory, along with a description of your character (stats are optional) and email it to dragoneyes77@gmail.com.  The deadline for the contest is June 7th, with the winners announced on June 8th.

Here is Rami:

Rami ibn Rashid ibn Faris

At the edge of the Great Desert is the city of Muraq, the last bastion of greenery and opulence before the sands and nomadic tribes of the Great Desert dominate life.  The city of Muraq is a great metropolis of various peoples from all over, a meeting point for a countless number of merchants and travelers on their way to other places.

The city of Muraq is guarded by a great and powerful force of warriors dedicated to Al-Ha’Daarah, the Muraqi version of Erathis, goddess of civilization.  Calling themselves the Jadaar, or wall, they protect the city of Muraq as well as everyone within its walls.  Made up mostly of fighters, paladins, warlords, rangers, and swordmages, the force of Jadaar stalwartly guards the walls and streets.

Rami ibn Rashid ibn Faris was raised in the household of his father, Rashid ibn Faris, a powerful paladin of Al-Ha’Daarah herself.  Rami himself never felt the call of the goddess, but did always feel the call to lead others and protect those he could.  Rami joined the ranks of the Jadaar, and found he had great ability with the Muraqi Greatbow, a powerful ranged weapon made by laminating layers of strong wood with layers of extremely strong horn harvested from the Horned Sand Sharks of the Great Desert.

Rami was soon put in charge of a patrol of the city’s slums, taking the early evening watch.  Rami himself led many forays into the sewers of Muraq, chasing down both criminals and vicious monsters with zealous power.  Awarded various medals for his exploits, Rami was on his way to becoming one of the most honored patrol leaders the Jadaar had seen in three or four generations.

But tragedy soon struck.  A rival of his father’s, one Zamir ibn Jahziir, set into motion a plot to discredit all of Rami’s family.  Zamir was once a powerful and vicious assassin, notorious throughout Muraq as the best at his craft.  Rami’s father Rashid had caught Zamir, and had Zamir’s right hand cut off for his crimes.  Zamir was left with only his “unclean” hand, and a significant loss of ability.  Using his amassed riches, Zamir had a magical replacement crafted for his lost right hand.  And then, he began plotting.

Rashid ibn Faris was making one of his daily trips to the marketplace when the order came down from the Caliph himself: items of worship for the dark god Eblis, the Muraqi name for Asmodeus, were found in Rashid’s home.  Rashid was declared fallen, and arrested for the worship of one of the Dark Gods.  Rami was incensed; he knew his father was no more fallen than he was.  All of the Jadaar were convinced of Rashid’s fall from grace, as the word of Caliph was seen as that of the Goddess herself.  None could know that Zamir himself had bought off an official, and planted the items of Eblis in Rashid’s home.  That same official was dead less than a week after Rashid’s arrest.

Rami left the Jadaar, seeking to find a way outside of the city to gain power.  In time, he wishes to return to Muraq and free his father, clearing his name.  Rami had heard stories for years of Zamir, and is convinced the maimed assassin had something to do with the false crimes his father was arrested for.  So now Rami finds himself far from the lands he once roamed, seeking the items he needs, as well as any companions he may come across in order to one day return to Muraq, clear his father of his crimes, and bring Zamir to true justice once more.

What do you think?