Friday, August 15, 2014

D&D 5th Edition: Mastermind Roguish Archetype

A few days ago, the G+ thread following +Rob Donoghue's post on Rangers and Rogues led to an idea that really grabbed me: the Mastermind Rogue. This is a Roguish Archetype that roughly parallels some of the functions of the Bard and the assisting functions of the Battle Master archetype. For all that I loved (OMG loved WTFBBQ) 4e warlords and other leaders, this first draft doesn't attempt to offer any real healing effects until 17th level - this is a matter of embracing the apparent style of 5e rather than trying to shoehorn in something from 4e.

Monday, August 11, 2014

D&D 5th Edition: Enforcer Background

In my campaign, the Bounty Hunter background in the playtest documents was one of the more popular options. Since the setting runs more toward late-Renaissance and early-colonial rather than the core medieval setting of most campaigns, players used that background to cover slightly more modern law-enforcement concepts as well. The Player's Handbook doesn't offer a Bounty Hunter per se, though - instead, it's a minor option within Outlander. That's sufficient for the majority of campaigns - I don't think WotC "did it wrong" on this by any means. All in all I'm impressed with how many character concepts are thoroughly covered by the Backgrounds that are in the book. But if, like me, many of your favorite characters are cops, detectives, bounty hunters, vigilantes, thief-takers, or inquisitors... read on.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaming to Byzantium

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
--W.B. Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"

Okay, I'll fess up - this isn't a post about how to use "Sailing to Byzantium" as game inspiration, though I've done that too. I recently read The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire by Edward N. Luttwak, and (like anyone as monomaniacal as I am) I reinterpreted a lot of what he talks about through a gaming lens. Before I really dive into it, let me recommend the book in the strongest available terms: if you care about a more nuanced understanding of medieval warfare and politics, or if like me you previously knew approximately nothing about the Eastern Roman Empire, this book is ideal.

(For clarity, I'll generally be calling them Byzantines rather than Eastern Romans. I know perfectly well that this is historically laughable.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

D&D Basic: Spells

Spells

This breakdown of spells is lengthy enough that I'm going to boil down trends first, rather than making readers wade through a discussion of literally every spell in Basic to read a derived change log. You might say it's a trifle dry. (This blog is justly accused of same; I laud your forbearance.) There are also some discussions of what I foresee as optimal applications of various spells, and emergent oddities.
  • In-combat healing is drying up a bit, except for the high-end stuff. The spells aren't going away, but they've lost a bit of throughput.
  • Damage output for spells is holding steady or increasing - the more iconic the damage spell, the more likely that its damage has increased.
  • lot of spells that had a fixed duration in the playtest now have a Concentration duration. This is a broad-spectrum nerf to spellcasting classes, until we see domains, traditions, or magic items that change up a character's interaction with Concentration rules.
  • Many spells that previously did not have scaling effects from higher-level slots have gained them.
  • There are only two spells in all of Basic that still have hit point thresholds in their mechanics - the Power Words. All other uses of hit point thresholds are gone.
  • There are a lot of all-new spells, and a lot of classic spells that were absent from playtest packets but have now returned.
  • Most spell ranges that are greater than 15 feet are factors of 30 feet, rather than 25 as in the packet. More ranges go up than down.

D&D Basic: The Rules of Magic

When last we left our intrepid blogger, I discussed Combat and Conditions in D&D Basic, focusing particularly on how the rules had changed between the playtest packet and the final. This time, it's Part Three, the Rules of Magic. In June of last year, I wrote about the spells of the then-current playtest packet in detail; the spell list is much shorter in Basic (though there are some all-new spells as well), and that does interesting things to the game (especially as discussed in the Blog of Holding.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

D&D Basic: Combat and Conditions

This is my fourth post reviewing the D&D Basic rules, including comparison to the last playtest packet. Previous posts have covered races and classes; personality, backgrounds, and equipment; and general rules and adventuring. Judging by the title of the post, I'm probably writing about combat and conditions this time. Like all of the posts in this series, I expect to run on at the mouth keyboard a bit. Unless this is your first-ever visit to Harbinger of Doom (in which case, Hi! tip your servers), now is a rather silly time to be surprised about that. I'm skipping over spellcasting and the spell list for now, because the combat chapter gives me a lot to talk about as is.

Monday, July 14, 2014

D&D Basic: General Rules and Adventuring

In this, my third post comparing D&D Basic to the last of the playtest packets, we get into the fundamental rules of D&D. In the Basic PDF, it's Part Two: Playing the Game, but either part of that would make for a misleading post title, and what kind of barbarian of a blogger presumes to use two subtitles? So here we are. I'll also continue into the Adventuring chapter, where we see another of the tonal elements of 5e that sets it apart from its forebears.