Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D&D Next: After One Session

On Memorial Day, I ran a session of the D&D Next playtest with Kainenchen, Stands-in-Fire, Samhaine, and two more friends. If, like my players and me, you have never before played through the Caves of Chaos, then either turn back or be comfortable with some minor spoilers. This will be your only warning. In a seven-hour session with a rule set no one had played before, the party cleared the kobold area of the Caves of Chaos (avoiding the encounter with 40+ kobolds), and fought two groups outside of the caves: one group of orcs and one group of human cultists. The kobold cave represented four distinct combats, one of which took less than a round thanks to my unwillingness to roll 18 saving throws against sleep.

Also, Mearls has posted about feedback so far here. I'll just say that the things he clarifies - hill dwarf using d12 rather than d10 for HD, cleric using d10 rather than d8 for warhammer, presumably the same for halflings and rogue weapons - these are things that looked like typos at the time, and the whole playtest would have been a lot clearer if some guidance on the baked-in bonuses had been included somewhere. Also, while they're pretty much okay balance-wise, I don't really like this benefit to picking a class that my race favors. Actually, I'd be fine with absolutely no favored-class style of rules, because it's such a short step from there to that race/class pairing being the only one that feels valid.

Our first observation, then, is that it's a pretty speedy system at first level. Players found it reasonably easy to understand what their characters could do. This is a strength it shares, more or less, with 4e, and I would venture to state that it may do this better than 4e did. There were a few specific abilities that weren't all that clear, but I think we puzzled our way through them - digging up how many reactions a character got in a single round, for example (answer: 1).

The much-discussed advantage/disadvantage system really couldn't be much faster to resolve. It is, however, quite swingy. It wasn't absolutely true, but it felt very much like you'd never miss with advantage, and never hit with disadvantage. The rogue's sneak attack ability, which is pretty good at first level and gets a lot better thereafter, relies on advantage, and it feels balanced only because advantage is not something a player can currently get every round (since there are no flanking rules). The Guardian theme's "tanking" mechanic - using a shield to protect one adjacent target per round - was hugely effective and felt very natural to us, less gamist than the marking mechanics of 4e (which bothered some of the players, and didn't bother others).

Our group strongly prefers having a gridded map with minis, rather than the theater-of-the-mind style that the WotC devs are encouraging people to try out. It's how we've played for, um, twelve years or more in my case, and it's what we're all comfortable with. Similarly, we'd like to see a bit more of a shift toward tactical play and focus on movement. The lack of any kind of opportunity attacks meant that when the party was in something other than a 10'-wide hallway, the bad guys could maneuver to attack the squishier members of the party with impunity - not great given the very low defenses of the wizard, and the very little that the wizard can do about it. Also, every character can split up movement before and after attacking - what we called "every character has Spring Attack." This is something else we might well do away with in seeking a more tactically-driven experience.

We liked the loose definitions of the skills, to the point that some players expressed concern that that would be reduced in future rules releases. One character has Survival, one has Wilderness Lore, and one has Nature Lore. Without the rules ever spelling out what these do and just relying on interpretation, it meant that we had three characters using their skills for basically the same tasks. I didn't regard this as a problem.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

D&D Next: Off the Cuff

This post will be something relatively close to liveblogging my reactions to reading through the D&D Next (I still think of it as 5th edition) material. Note that I haven't played or run any of it yet, and won't until Monday. Also, I can point to things here that contradict very recently posted material. I will not be spoiling any Caves of Chaos material here, since I asked my players not to read it.

Specifically, they've stated that they're changing the Hit Dice for wizards to d6s and rogues to d8s, but that isn't reflected in these documents. Also, they've listed the fighter's hit die here as d12, but that post specifically mentioned that they would have d10s. As the article suggests, they've also made the Hit Die itself carry a little more systemic weight - in this case, it is also a close cognate of 4e's healing surge mechanics. Your Hit Dice plus (Con modifier x level) is effectively your limit in nonmagical healing per day.

The long rest mechanics are explicitly written to require either 1) a 4+ person party or 2) some span of the rest that has no one on watch. Hey, look, it's the first rule I absolutely must remove: if you take any strenuous action during the long rest, you must start the rest over. So basically, if the party is attacked during the long rest, you gain no benefit. I get that this is meant to encourage the party to return to town, but it's a huge impediment to wilderness adventuring. On the other hand, the long rest is a 100% restore (if you had at least 1 hp). If you didn't have at least 1 hp and don't have a magical source of healing to get you to 1 hp, you're stuck in the Stabilized condition for 2d6 hours. Guys, there has got to be some better way to do this - I'd like to see a Long Rest grant less than a full heal, while also restoring all spells. Natural healing does need to be more robust than in 3.x, but less robust than 4e. I want my low-level parties to need time to be up and ready to fight again.

Humans have no racial ability listed. This makes me cranky, especially in light of the dwarven immunity to poison (oh, how I hate it when players have immunities!) and the much-less-surprising elven immunity to sleep and charm effects. Races don't really have visible drawbacks, though it's hard to tell based on what might be numerical effects that are already factored in. One of my fellow commenters points out that they may be better off during ability score generation, but it's hard to tell - there are no character creation rules here.

Not sure what's up with the halfling rogue using one die size larger for dagger and sling attacks. But that pales in comparison to my objection to +1d6 sneak attack damage every level. Sneak attack scaling was too steep in 3.x already! In combination with the halfling's Naturally Stealthy racial feature and the Lurker theme's Ambusher feature, it looks like the halfling should be able to gain advantage kind of all the time, as long as there's someone larger in the party. At least hiding takes up your turn.

Interestingly, they've made the melee cleric the "tank" of the party by giving it the Guardian theme (grant disadvantage to enemies attacking targets within 5 feet of you). I had been under the mistaken impression that characters had three major choice points in creation (race, class, and theme). I expected theme to be relatively minor in terms of how much power it gave your character, so I was surprised when they revealed that "being a defender" was something you got from your theme. I felt that this was at odds with it being a minor aspect of the character, and further felt that it would invalidate a huge range of theme options (since so many parties will want the fighter to be a defender). I would have gotten all of this beforehand if I had read this article, but it somehow evaded me. It turns out that characters have four major choice points: race, class, background, and theme. Background now does what I had expected theme to do, and theme carries the more significant mechanical weight. Backgrounds are still pretty nice for granting skill bonuses, but you don't have to choose between, say, blacksmith and guardian the way I was fearing.

I'll have to improvise a stunt system into existence to give fighter-types more rules support. I liked the powers that 4e gave fighters to help them characterize their fighting style in evocative and rules-meaningful ways. The options here are like someone took 2e and bolted on just the tiniest bit of 4e (specifically, the Slayer automatically deals a small amount of damage even on a miss).

Giving the wizard the "magic-user" theme just seems silly to me, but its effect is perfectly reasonable and useful. But thinking about the statement that my wizard is specialized in magic kind of hurts my brain with its redundancy - this would be less of an issue if more of the visible themes seemed feasible for the wizard in the first place. I'm looking forward to writing a wide variety of themes and backgrounds to cover things that fit into my conception of a setting.

The Guardian's defense mechanic is super stripped down, as it simply inflicts disadvantage. The lack of "punishment" as part of the mechanic is odd to me as a long-time 4e player, but I'll reserve judgment until I've seen it in play. The Guardian (which is, again, a cleric - a pretty tolerable paladin, if you're willing to squint) gets a stickiness mechanic at 3rd level. The only problem I have with this is that I got used to thinking of it as a core role function, but it's probably fine.

The melee cleric has the death ward orison, which is completely unlike 3.x's super-powerful death ward effect. This is something the cleric can use as his action every turn, but probably won't - still, giving the cleric a constant ability to counter necrotic energies is interesting. "Resistance" now means "half damage from that source," end of story - this disappoints me because it sort of fails at granularity, for my tastes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Warrior Societies of Aurikesh, Part 2

I enjoyed writing the first two warrior societies so much that I thought I might do two more. I also left out any clear indication of fighting style for the Iron Temple in the last post, so I thought I'd mention it here. I mostly see these guys fighting with sword and shield, or mace and shield for classes that don't get access to longswords (if that's a thing in your edition of choice).

Sovereign Knights of the Council Fire

This warrior society is a knightly order, sworn firstly to serve and defend Council Fire Fortress in Kaldeshar (kagandi name: Morried's Jewel); secondly, to defend the lawful ruler or rulers of Kaldeshar; and thirdly to uphold the law wherever they travel. Kaldeshar is a remote domain, in the northeast of Balioth, and it does not have close ties with domains that are not its immediate neighbors. As long as Council Fire Fortress and the borders of Kaldeshar are sufficiently guarded, the rulers have traditionally allowed the Sovereign Knights a great deal of freedom to travel, make contacts in other lands, and uphold their knightly virtues. A member of this order might, however, be recalled to Kaldeshar to serve, or to answer for reports of infractions against their code.

The knighthood is built entirely around its oaths, which its members swear while kneeling in the light of a captured star. Long ago, before kagandi came to Balioth, they lived on the continent of Sestomera. A warrior-wizard named Zereysa the Binder used a now-lost magical process to trap the mystical strength of a star in a gem. Although some writings indicate that this was not her original intention, she continued to experiment with what she had created, and discovered that it possessed a power very much like a geas, but capable of rewarding adherence rather than solely punishing transgression. Many have theorized that the creation of Zereysa's Star permanently destroyed or changed a spell that might have done something similar. Zereysa used its power to found a knightly order, as she believed that oaths are all that bind society together. Centuries later, the Sovereign Knights relocated from Sestomera to Balioth and brought Zereysa's Star with them, fixing it in the abandoned-but-intact Council Fire Fortress.

The star hovers in midair wherever it is placed, and can be moved only under certain circumstances that include oaths of honorable behavior. It shines with a piercing light, such that it is difficult to approach. It possesses no heat, however, and is safe to touch. Oaths sworn on the star are binding, and the mystical strength of the star grants certain minor benefits to those who follow their oaths in times of trial. In times when an oath is not tested, the star does not grant any particular benefit.

Long ago in Ferradona, Sovereign Knights of the Council Fire came into political conflict with warriors of the Iron Temple. The war that erupted out of that conflict lasted for many years and resulted in an ongoing schism between the two groups. The Sovereign Knights hold that the Iron Temple incites rebellion against lawful rulers and dishonors the holy name of Talend, their patron deity, by encouraging people to resist legitimate kingship. The Iron Temple, on the other hand, accuses the knighthood of choosing corruption and cowardice over justice and honor. Wherever warriors of the two groups meet, they are sure to come into conflict, although they take steps to avoid the conflict becoming lethal.

The ranks of the Sovereign Knights are, in ascending order, the Squires (those not yet fully inducted), the Knights, the Knight-Champions, the Knight-Commanders, and the Lord Commander. By tradition, the ruler or rulers of the order's home domain is granted the honorary title of Knight-Commander, and any heir apparent is granted the honorary title of Knight-Champion. Despite being a Knight-Commander, the ruler has the right to issue orders to the Lord Commander, except for matters strictly internal to the order.

Races: The knighthood is dominated by kagandi, much as the coastal domain of Kaldeshar is predominantly kagandi. Humans, veytikka, and beruch are welcome, though much of the order comes from nobility and wealth, and looks down on veytikka. Parthé are actively recruited, but their numbers remain few within the order.

Classes: Fighter, Paladin, Warlord, Cleric (and Runepriest, if that's a thing). Though Zereysa was a wizard, the order has not maintained a tradition of arcane spellcasters. In general, the order regards the open pursuit of other paths as distractions from knightly prowess and ideals. Clerics of the order are expected to behave like crusaders.

Vows: In addition to the core oaths of obedience, knights often take shorter-term oaths, particularly in relation to quests they wish to undertake or individuals they wish to champion. These oaths can only be taken at the Council Fire Fortress itself, before Zereysa's Star. While specifically upholding an oath and facing a challenge to that oath, the knight gains some advantage, about on par with a +1 bonus to all defenses.

Benefits of Membership: Sovereign Knights receive a warm welcome in most royal courts throughout Balioth, as the monarchs recognize that Sovereign Knights will give their unquestioning support to any lawful order, so long as it does not directly conflict with the orders given to them by the Lord Commander or the ruler of Kaldeshar. They further receive basic war-gear: a chain hauberk or breastplate, a steel shield, two tourney lances, one normal lance, and a flail. Knights are expected to provide their own mounts. Any kind of martial training that the knight desires and any member of the order can provide is to be taught freely; the student pays any expenses that are incurred, but even this is often waived by wealthier senior members who wish to show favor to promising junior knights.

Fighting Style: Sovereign Knights hold that tourneys and jousting are a proper way to inspire others toward chivalrous behavior, and to win glory for the order as a whole. They generally favor one-handed flails with shields, or two-handed flails, for other forms of melee combat. The links of chain in a flail represent the oaths that bind a knight, and bind society. Only rarely will a Sovereign Knight wield a starlock pistol, as most regard it as beneath them; this attitude is less common among kagandi. Starlock muskets are hunting weapons, however, and not involved in the same standards of honor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Magic in Narrative: Games and Fiction

A conversation about magic in the Marvel universe over in Google Plus today has me thinking about the greater role of magic in storytelling and games. A ton of different sources factor into my thinking here, starting with Merlin and the wizard-heroes of the Kalevala, continuing through the Wizard of Earthsea, Discworld, and Name of the Wind (note: this is one of the only times I will suffer the latter to be mentioned in the same breath as the former two), on through Mage: the Awakening and Justice League Dark and whatever else comes to mind. I recall now that I've been writing nominally pseudo-academic things about magic since college and probably even high school, so now I hope to make good on all those years of confused essays about Faerie-logic in poetry and prose that my professors (inexplicably) tolerated.

Quite some time back, Rob Donoghue asserted that the central question of any combat resolution system is "How do we keep people from killing each other?" In a similar vein, then, the question of magic is, "Why can't magic solve every problem?" Obviously, if magic can solve everything, the story ends because there's no more conflict (or because the non-magical hero can't muster a threat against the magical villain) There are fundamentally three answers to this question:
  1. Magic can solve every problem, but it carries a (scaling) cost upon the wizard... or the world.
  2. Magic can solve every problem, but the wizard is a sufficiently flawed individual that unintended consequences erupt, replacing the existing conflict with a whole new conflict.
  3. Magic cannot solve every problem; instead, it does effectively solve a limited range of problems, so the wizard must figure out a way to maneuver the problems he has into being problems his spells can solve.
The first two answers are found throughout myth, all the way down to present-day fantasy. The third does appear at times, but it's much less common in fiction. There's also a huge difference in whether the wizard in question is the protagonist, wise teacher, or antagonist; to create a compelling narrative, there are almost always more restrictions placed in the hands of an ally than an enemy, and still more restrictions on magic placed in the hands of a protagonist than an ally - after all, fiction writers have to work just as hard to protect their conflict from the magical powers of the characters as GMs do.

There are those - even respected fantasy authors - who regard breaking magic systems down into game-like rules as "the stomping boot of nerdism," and maintain that the setting and by extension its magic should at all times serve the narrative and nothing more. As a professional game designer and amateur author, my disagreement on this point surprises no one. I believe, though, that the unexamined magic system is not worth writing about, not because of my fetishistic love for magic systems, but because the audience can tell when the world didn't have enough thought put into it. A well-designed magic system protects a game from becoming unbalanced just as it protects a novel from collapsing under fridge logic. (Because you might be reading this at work, I am doing you a favor and not linking TV Tropes here.) I am hereby entering Justice League Dark into the evidence - I'll come back to it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Monsters of Aurikesh: Domain Sentinels

Creature design has always been tough for me. When I run tabletop games, I mostly use monsters out of the books. I can take credit for only a small number of the monsters in Dust to Dust. On the other hand, I've found that in almost every creative endeavor, the first few ideas are the tough ones; after that, ideas start to come more easily. Domain Sentinels are intended for use in the Aurikesh setting, but they work equally well in Birthright (this is not a coincidence) or any other setting made up of a patchwork of small countries, dukedoms, prince-bishoprics, and so on. Or even islands adrift in a sea of stars, if that's your thing...

This is the thing I haven't explained about Aurikesh yet, in all my posts about it. (Eventually I'll scan and post the map.) In deliberate imitation of the Birthright setting, the main land mass is divided up into fifteen domains, and each domain is made up of one or more of the forty-six provinces. I'd eventually like to apply Birthright's domain rules to these provinces, in case I ever have time to run such a game.

In trying to come up with a new creature for the setting, I naturally wanted to draw on the things in the setting that made it unique. Okay, unique-ish - I'm certainly up-front about the main source I'm stealing from! Well, if these provinces are so important, what is it that makes them that way? Were they always divided, even before the humans and kagandi arrived? Why is it that provinces change hands "whole," rather than just shifting borders by a few miles as happens in the real world? The game-running reason is obvious: because redrawing the map on that level would be a terrible pain in the ass, while noting that a province has changed hands is comparatively easy. I'd still like to have a compelling world reason that it works this way. I don't have that reason nailed down yet, but I felt that having golems directly tied to the domains (by some force that long predates the land's current owners) would reinforce the existence of that world rule. That is, it would prompt players to ask the question again, with a new piece of ambiguous evidence.

Domain Sentinels

Unknown centuries - millennia? - before the humans and kagandi sailed from southerly Sestomera to Balioth, a now-presumed-lost race dwelt in Balioth and divided it among themselves, along the lines of provinces that persist in the present day. Ruins from that civilization are found in every province, and some of those ruins house constructs of stone, eight or nine feet tall. These constructs take many different shapes, according to the domain in which they are first found; in the northerly domain now called Pereil (or Atramyr's Crown, to the kagandi), the domain sentinels are like centaurs of stone, and one hand is a scythe-blade, and short horns sprout from their brows. In Dalassiria (Angel's Thorn, to the kagandi) - and only in Dalassiria - they have found domain sentinels with grotesquely over-sized claws and vents cut into the stone that spew flame.

Ambitious people, especially rulers and spellcasters, seek out domain sentinels so that they can be controlled by magic. The sentinels remain still and tolerate any amount of handling, inspection, and even transportation (if someone can figure out how to move a two-ton piece of irregularly-shaped stone), unless they are bound by a spellcaster who has learned the particular spells necessary. The only time a domain sentinel animates without an external, magical command is when the domain (as defined by the sentinel's original borders) faces an unmistakable existential threat, such as a catastrophic flood. At such times, the sentinels rouse themselves and attempt to intervene. Most of them fail to do so, as they are buried in long-forgotten ruins and frequently encased in rubble. Minor tremors of the earth that accompany other kinds of catastrophes are almost certainly domain sentinels struggling to reach the surface.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Experience Points

It's interesting to me how conversations about specific topics sometimes crop up in multiple unconnected places at the same time. Just as Ryan Macklin is discussing disadvantages and experience points in his blog, there's also a lively exchange on experience points going on in Google Plus. The G+ conversation is, unsurprisingly, more focused on XP in LARP design, but I think the conversations inform each other in interesting ways. There's a lot going on here, and that G+ conversation isn't readily available to most of my readers, so I'll recap. Um, this is going to be long. Go get yourself a frosty beverage.

Ryan Macklin examines the evolution of disadvantages over the past 20+ years of game design, starting with extra character points only at character creation (Old WoD, GURPS, D&D 2e Skills & Powers, etc.), continuing through disadvantages granting XP whenever they hinder the character during play (New WoD, probably a bunch of others), and ending with disadvantages granting Plot Currency rather than XP whenever they hinder the character during play (New WoD's Virtues and Vices, FATE's Aspects, etc.). In the comments, though, he asserts that the broader gaming community is just fine with characters advancing at different rates. I find this to be simply false, but neither Macklin nor I truly have anything beyond anecdotes. On the other hand, this is my blog, and I'm comfortable laying out why I object to characters receiving differing amounts of XP.

And Now for a Ton of Exposition

The games I cut my teeth on were D&D 2e for tabletop and Shattered Isles for live-action. As many readers will recall, 2e had differing XP charts by class, and had optional rules for each class receiving XP for different things (the fighter gets XP for defeating monsters, the thief gets XP for amassing filthy lucre, and so on). Self-taught DM that I was, I didn't use those optional rules, but I did grant small amounts of bonus XP to individual characters for good roleplaying, successfully doing awesome things, and so on. I don't think players cared a lot one way or the other back then, but it's not something I'd do now. Nowadays, I'm much more aware that some players are more vocal, assertive, and motivated than others, and the game absolutely doesn't need to reward them with more character power on top of that.

In fact, I am currently involved in one game that tracks XP separately for each character (Arcana Evolved), and still clearly remember the Pendragon game we played for around three years that awarded separate Glory totals for each character. In AE as in 3.x, enchanting magic items is a cost borne solely by the enchanter (exactly one member of our party), the standard level-loss-for-death rules are in place, and the DM grants bonus XP (equal to 50 x average party level) to each player who completes a journal or similar content-creation work since the previous session. Further, new characters come in at the minimum number of XP required to be of the same level as the lowest-level member of the party. The balance to all of this is that, as in standard 3.x rules, lower-level characters earn more XP than higher-level characters in a party of mixed levels, so it's theoretically possible for lower-level characters to catch up. With all of that, there's just one more complicating factor: some classes must perform ceremonies to increase in level, which means that some players have gone for multiple sessions without gaining the level they have earned (and thus continuing to earn XP at the better rate of the lower level).

This is kind of complicated bookkeeping, with lots of checking and re-checking that the players' records of their XP totals and the DM's records of their XP totals agree. It's fine that it works that way... mostly because I'm not DMing this campaign. This system doesn't cause hard feelings, in part because the DM isn't making value judgments in awarding XP. It's still far more spreadsheet maintenance than I would care to do, were I the DM.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Warrior Societies of Aurikesh

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned warrior societies as a means of giving fighters more social connections and motivations to drive interaction with NPCs. I had wanted to include a few example warrior societies in that post, but it was long enough that I thought better of it. These are for Aurikesh, a setting I continue to poke at occasionally, but they should be relatively adaptable for other settings. Once the 5e rules are somewhat publicly available, I'll be trying to figure out the right design space for warrior societies in those rules. If I ever get anywhere with refining the Aurikesh rules for SIFRP, I'll post that too.

Tiger's Claw

The Tiger's Claw are an elite cadre of guards sworn to the service of the wizard Var Dyrak. From his tower in the north, Var Dyrak pulls political strings, performs strange and dark experiments, and stars in many of the tales told to frighten children. The Tiger's Claw are his agents, enforcers, and sometime spies, famed far and wide. Thanks to their master's political maneuvering and their own fearsome reputation, they are more often treated with respect than hostility when venturing abroad. Their most distinguishing features, as a group, are their tiger-skin cloaks (often enchanted), their starlock pistols (or, rarely, muskets), and their curved swords. Some focus their training more on their marksmanship; others, on swordplay.

They travel singly or in small groups on a regular basis, often arriving at the last minute to take part in tournaments, and aggressively recruiting bravos and warriors without a lord. To such fighters they offer training, wealth, and purpose. Those who show any potential for arcane spellcasting can also hope to join the novices who learn from Var Dyrak.

The ranks of the Tiger's Claw are, in ascending order, the Sworn, the Oathbound, the Swift, and the True. They are addressed as Sworn Brother, Oathbound Sister, and so on. From the ranks of the True, Var Dyrak chooses three Marshals, and each Marshal chooses two Captains from among the True or the Swift.

Races: The Tiger's Claw theoretically accepts anyone. In practice, the veytikka have a hard time finding acceptance here, and no beruch have yet attempted to join. The kagandi are close enough to equal in numbers that in some years they are the majority. The coastal location of Var Dyrak's tower makes their lives easier.

Classes: Fighter, Warlord, Ranger, Rogue, Barbarian; characters with multiclass levels in an arcane casting class are accelerated in their promotion through the ranks, as long as their superiors don't feel that they're neglecting martial training.

Vows: The Sworn take a vow of obedience to Var Dyrak and his appointed proxies. Secondly, they take a vow of obedience to their own chain of command, except where that conflicts with their first oath. The Oathbound swear to uphold the honor of the Tiger's Claw against any who slight it; if the odds against them are overwhelming, they must find a way to avenge themselves upon the transgressor within a fortnight. The Swift and the True take on further vows, but the terms of those oaths are secret.

Benefits of Membership: Tiger-skin cloaks are stylish! (Editor's note: This game is a work of fiction. We do not support the hunting of tigers or any other endangered species in real life.) The Sworn receive the cloak, a starlock pistol, and a scimitar. They are expected to maintain their gear thereafter. Room, board, and a modest stipend are available to Tiger's Claw warriors who stay in or near the Tower on duty. Those who undertake missions receive a larger stipend to cover their costs. Guards on duty receive blackpowder for free, while other members may purchase it at cost from the Tower's storehouses. Members can request training from higher-ranked members, as long as it does not interfere with a high-priority assignment. (My intention is that there are cool fighting things to learn from the order - attacks that incorporate pistol, sword, and cloak all together.)

Isn't it tough for these guys to be adventurers? No - while they are beholden to the dictates of the Tiger's Claw, Var Dyrak has sent many of them out into the world simply to report on whatever artifacts of interest they find. They sometimes receive letters (and sometimes magical communication) with more detailed assignments, such as a local dangerous monster that needs to be captured or slain, or magical components that Var Dyrak requires for his spells. Incidentally, Var Dyrak is not a nice guy, and some kidnappings do get blamed on the Tiger's Claw. Not in a way anyone can prove, though.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Projects that Could Have Been

By request, all commentary on this Projects that Could Have Been post has been redacted. I apologize for any grief this has caused.