Friday, April 17, 2015

Encounter Design: Boss Fights in Tabletop Games

Tabletop games, like video games, have long had a concept of a "boss fight," a climactic end to an adventure or series of adventures. Starting from that similar position, though, video games have done far more creative things with the concept, while tabletop games have scarcely advanced beyond what MMO players would call "tank & spank." There are exceptions, and I'll be noting the ones I can think of, but in general I'm interested in expanding the range of options people consider when they design climactic encounters.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

D&D Storyline Postmortem: A Well-Turned Heel

A few weeks ago, I ran a session of D&D in my Aurikesh campaign that everyone at the table really enjoyed, and I wanted to write about what made that particular session and storyline work, what minor things I could have done better, and so on. To do that, though, I have to summarize another two-session adventure from July of 2014. For privacy, such as it is, I'll be referring to players by their character names, and I'll clarify when one player has two or more characters.

Friday, March 27, 2015

D&D 5e: Problems in the Warlock Design

In case you aren't already reading it, I'm still writing a weekly column on exploring the history of D&D's classes. Once I got to the end of the Druid, I took a vote on what I'd write next. It looked like the Paladin would score an easy win, but after I had started writing, the Warlock cut some kind of dark bargain and surged from behind. But, well, there were already words on the page, so I'm writing about Paladins first, then Warlocks. Anyway, the point is that I perceive some key problems in the design of the Warlock class, and I want to talk about them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

D&D 5e: Elemental Evil Player's Companion

The Elemental Evil Player's Companion is now available for free download on several sites, and since the price is right, people interested in 5e should pick it up even if the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline isn't something you expect to use. This 25-page PDF, by Sasquatch Game Studios and WotC, offers new races, spells, and one lonely feat, all focused on the Aristotelian elements. It's also the first official player-directed content expansion. Which brings me to analysis and review, because in this blog I cover design, not gaming news.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

D&D 5e Playtest: Mass Combat Rules

I love that the new Unearthed Arcana column on the Wizards website offers public-playtest versions of future material for D&D. This week, there are rules for mass combat - always one of the sticky design areas for tabletop games intended for focus on individuals. In part to make sure I understand them myself, this post examines the playtest rules in detail.

Also, I have to say this up front, because otherwise I will never get through this post: "hur hur, he said 'unit.'"

Better now. Read on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

D&D 5e: Exorcism Domain

Let me start by freely acknowledging that the Cleric class is better-supplied with subclass options than any other class but Wizards. I expect that for a lot of people, adding an Exorcism domain is painfully extraneous. On the other hand, in my homebrewed D&D setting, I specifically need characters specialized in exorcism, and I want to go a step beyond the fact that every cleric gets the requisite spells to be a passable exorcist. Also, I've never seen The Exorcist, so as much as it pains me, this article won't be a constant stream of paraphrased quotes and ridiculous puns. God, what have I become, if I'm going punless in public?

Friday, February 20, 2015

D&D 5e: Training as Treasure

There are two little paragraphs in the 5e Dungeon Master's Guide, plus three bullet points, that offer a wonderful amount of room for expansion: Training, p. 231. In the 4th edition Dungeon Master's Guide II, there are a few pages on Alternative Rewards, and the group I played 4e with thought this was just about the best thing in the world - thus giving me incentive to explore training as treasure in 5e.