Tuesday, November 25, 2014

D&D 5e: New Fey Creatures

The fey are one of the few areas of the 5e Monster Manual in which the lore is disappointing. Of course, there aren't all that many fey in the first place: blink dogs, dryads, green hags, pixies, sea hags, satyrs, and sprites. To my mind, this contrasts sharply with the implied dread power of the Archfey, which are apparently on a power level comparable to the Dukes of the Nine Hells and the unnameable Things that dwell between the stars. 4e introduced the Feywild to the D&D cosmology and the concept of warlock pacts with the fey, but 5e didn't carry that sense of power and prestige forward into its creature design.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Fourth Year of Blogging

It's four years now that I've been writing this blog.  I've just passed 250 published posts. Considering that I average more than two thousand words per post, I conservatively estimate half a million words, and possibly closer to twice that. Every year of writing has slightly fewer posts than the year before it, but raising a child will do that. Also moving... twice. If you think to yourself, "But Shieldhaven, you don't have a job, surely that means you have more writing time?" then I'm guessing you do not so much as know anyone with children.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

D&D 5e: Two New Feats

I'm surprised by how much I like the design space of feats in 5e, and how different they are in function and concept from 3.x and 4e. Somewhere or other I saw them described as small chunks of multiclassing, and that is about right; in this they've preserved some of what I liked from Specialties in the early playtests. Each time you get an Ability Score Improvement from your class progression (4th level, and 4-6 times after that, depending on class), you get one of the following:
  1. +1 to two ability scores of your choosing
  2. +2 to one ability score of your choosing
  3. +1 to a specific ability score, and a modest new ability
  4. A bundle of new connected abilities

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Harbinger's Advice Column: Sneaky Bastards

Some time back, a reader asked about starting up sneaky characters in LARPs, especially when you are new (to whatever degree) to that game's community. Characters who telegraph that they are untrustworthy are tough to begin with, but when you tack on having no established OOC relationships, it's all the harder. I'm going to address this question as three separate matters: the character archetype in itself, the matter of being new to a community, and finally both elements together. Also, two disclaimers: first, I do not advocate law-breaking behavior of any kind in real life. Second, don't be so vain - this post isn't about you doing anything wrong.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Immunities and Encounter Design

The D&D 5e Monster Manual has been out for awhile now, and it is 95% goddamn amazing. I want to get that out of the way, because this is a discussion of one of its problem areas. Seriously, though, it has a great variety of monsters, excellent artwork, a reasonable level spread, and incredibly compelling lore. I have read a lot of monster books in my life, and this is the first time I have ever found lore that made me want to run more games immediately, using this creature right here.

Anyway, the problem is immunities. Yes, I'm always complaining about them. Today, though, I'm going to talk in detail about why this implementation is a problem and a better role for immunities in game design.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Homebrewed 5e: the Races of Aurikesh, Revised

For my Aurikesh campaign setting, I scrapped the core 5e races and wrote new racial abilities. I am pretty much fine with 5e's rules for elves, dwarves, halflings, and the less common races, but they weren't what I wanted for Aurikesh. As I've mentioned before, I really don't like the rules for humans, because "the most generic ones" is an approach that gaming can't seem to escape. The other point of this is to experiment with unusual racial abilities and re-level the playing field as to how many distinct abilities each race gets.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Ranger Class, Part Three

In the first two posts of this series, I've discussed the history of the ranger class from OD&D to 2e, along with the peripheral additions that splatbooks added to it. Now that I have a little writing time again, I'm going to see if I can wrap up 3.x through 5e in this post - rather a lot of terrain, but anyone who's read this blog before knows I am not afraid of bulky wordcounts, amirite?