Caltrops and Other Things

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Caltrops are the great equalizer. With few exceptions, whatever is charging at you will stop or at least slow down when confronted with caltrops. I believe the party in my high school group kept the caltrop industry churning at high speed across several planets and alternate dimensions.

We surround the only entrance with caltrops.

We lay down a 20 by 20 spread of caltrops on the main highway. Seeing as this highway is on the side of a cliff, we are going to fly out of here.

Does a thrown caltrop do 1 point of damage? What about 20? They're kinda like shurikens, right?

The other thing they liked were mules. Mules could carry more loot, who cares about looking heroic. If push comes to shove, the retainers (and the magic-user) can ride mules while the rest of us have horses.

The ten-foot pole was also quite popular as well as iron spikes and a small hammer. Honestly, the fear would eat the party up sometimes when they spiked a door shut and laid out caltrops around it.

My favorite, however, were thieves' tools.

When I was younger, I had no conception of how they worked or what was included in the kit. The group and I figured that there were some wires, an earhorn (for combination locks), some ball bearings, maybe a bit of acid,  a bag of lime and some rope. Whatever it was, I liked to think of it as a non-magical bag of holding that always produced what was needed for a particular lock or trap. I wanted to create a real kit that with useful things for modern-day so that I would be ready for anything, too.

Looking to the Future

I want to play anything in the future. I am still trying to overcome a bit of nervousness and run a game on G+. I wanted to join an existing group, but Wednesday are really hard for me. I may ask to join a friend's in-person group, even if they are playing a Dungeon World hack of Edge of the Empire. I really want to play/GM again really soon.

But my favorite character to play in the future will hopefully be a character in whatever my son's campaign will be. It will be a while, but we're getting warmed up for it. Tonight I was the Dolphin Torch, an alternate-earth version of the Human Torch that is a dolphin that lives on land. Tonight's encounter was the Invisible Woman (my daughter), Mr. Fantastic (my son) and me (the Dolphin Torch) going camping and roasting food on a campfire that I started.

The food items included pickles, iron plates, dinosaur meat, s'mores, hot dogs and tires. This was his list of ingredients.

Alas Glendon, Never Again

It's not that I didn't like Glendon, the Elf, it's just that he was all 18s. Playing a character that is perfect at everything is just no fun at all. Nope. No fun.

What I Always Roll

I always seem to roll an 8 on a d20. I tend to roll 3s on a d4, 5s on a d6 and 19 on a d%.

I do not own a d30. I hang my head in shame.

The Best DM I Ever Had

That was easy. +Scott Roche. We used to rotate around the DM'ing duties, but I really liked his adventures. Maybe this is why he is beginning to enjoy some success as a writer. GO BUY HIS BOOKS!

Seriously, we would be a little less gonzo, but we had to really think our way out of issues. There was no wand of fireballs to blast our way out, not that it would have helped at all, but there was always a reward for being clever. And no, hammering every door shut and laying out acres of caltrops wouldn't help you either.

He was much better at traps than I was and he could make interesting plots. Early on, I was very much of the "Kill things and take their stuff." He was more of a story guy and I really really liked that. I like to think that I run things more like him because of that.

Oh, I'm still somewhere between Races of Carcosa and The Wizard of Oz, but the answer will tend to be what you find, not what you exterminate.

On to the Next Episode

La-da-da-da-dahh
You know I'm mobbin' with the DMs 3.

You know, Stelios has an idea for some extra days in the challenge. That's why I finished the rest in this post. More than anything, actually writing has helped me to feel more creative and more like finishing certain projects. So here is his list:

  • Greyhawk: how a campaign should be published or just an old antique?
  • Elminster: should he live or die?
  • Do you allow Monty Python quotes at the tabletop? Why or why not?
  • Why to you love/hate/feel indifferent to 4e?
  • Is your character drunk yet?
  • Is D&D Next D&D last?
  • Do you spend more time talking/posting about gaming than actualy playing?
  • How do you kill a flumph?
  • What were the last words of your last character who died?
  • Do you think you're addicted to D&D?

The question about Monty Python quotes should go without saying. However, I do know some folks that do not allow them.

Elminister should die. Yeah, I said it. It's time for new blood.

I could go on.

So I'm looking at making my own list, so to speak. I hope to keep up the posting pace at about every other day. I also plan to have more stats for S&W stuff. I plan on including a few things from the above list as well.

See you Saturday. 🙂

When Your Weapon Is Smarter Than You

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Yes, I love intelligent weapons.

mcleanI say weapons because I had no problem with intelligent axes, maces, halberds or shields. In fact, the one intelligent shield I had was +3 with Fire Resistance, but with the personality that can be best described as a cross between Eeyore and Marvin the Paranoid Android. If you kept it long enough, you would go insane or change alignment.

The appeal of intelligent items for me was that it allowed me to be a member of the party. I had to play the intelligent weapon with its agenda and personality quirks. I enjoyed the players and me talking about "the plan" for what they would do next. The temptation, of course, was to use as a way to railroad the party, so I minimized the effect of weapons dominating their owners. I usually didn't roll it.

Back to the point, being an intelligent weapons allowed a different level of interaction. This could be serious interaction, but many times became something like this:

Here I am, the best shield on the planet and all you do is use me to cover your eyes from the sun. Isn't there a red dragon or remorhaz for us to attack?

Well, I like cutting things. After all, I am a sword, right? Well yeah, I'm a sword. I'm just saying that, well, you know, you could use that guy's dagger for cutting rope and stuff. I have, well, other plans for my life, you know? I'm meant for something greater, like killing ogres. Have I told you what ogres are like? They are big and smelly and should be totally wiped off the face of the planet. I mean, why did the gods bother with them at all. They are a blotch on the world and require excision in all haste. LOOK AN OGRE! MUST GO KILL NOW!

Hmm. Did you say something? Oh, well, I think going to town is just so much fun, but maybe we should go east. The town is just so, how shall I say, NORTH and WEST. I think going east would be advisable.

As strange as it may sound, having the sword (or shield or dirk or mace) interact with the players introduced a random element for them. It seemed that the characters were always amazed that the thing could talk. One time, a player was between adventures and noticed that his intelligent mace could speak Draconic. He asked if the mace could be his mentor to learn the Draconic language. Why not? I rolled it and he was successful.

He should have asked me what kind of dragon he talked like. :evil grin:

I liked intelligent weapons so much, I attempted to make them a character race/class. It had only six levels of advancement and the powers that were granted each level could be random determined at the player's choice. I had always mapped out the powers ahead of time, but sometime the players love their dice. If I could find the notes for the race/class, I'd include them here. I probably won't re-create them. I recall that it wasn't much fun to be an intelligent sword as a player.

On a different note, I loved loved loved the Deck of Many Things. I mention it here because one the cards in my deck was intelligent. It would provide a minor benefit all the time, but could provide a major benefit once, but then it would disappear. The card was always trying to convince the character that the major benefit wasn't really needed. If memory serves, I believe it was something like a +1 to hit all the time, but the ability to do 6d6 damage in a one time attack.

I know you're dying, but I really don't think that the big kaboom is needed. I mean, the other guys are bleeding less than you. They should be able to hold that thing off for a bit. What do you say?

He used the big attack. It wasn't required, but he threw the card at the demon to do the big attack. It worked as advertised.

Fascinating – Pure Energy

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I've discovered that three of my most recent posts appear on the Campaign Wiki Links to Wisdom. I am honored by whomever thought my ramblings were good enough to be included.

Thank you.

So when it comes to energy types, I usually think what d20 and later games call the five types of energy:  acid, cold, fire, lightning, and sonic. My definition is broader, but of those five, my favorite type of energy is sonic. Why sonic? In part because it is used so sparingly. Very few magic items are created to resist sonic attacks or even produce them. For most folks, a sonic attack is a variation of a banshee's special attack, some kind of loud shout.

Like Sean said in the blog post, though, it's also the energy of vibration. That lends itself to earthquakes and tremors. Tweaking it a bit further, a creature's ability to use echolocation (like bats and dolphins) can also be transformed into a type of detection magic that also causes damage. It is the perfect attack against an invisible creature, especially for those creatures that have poor eyesight anyway (like bats and dolphins).

Having said that, I have a much broader list. It may be influenced from 4e, of all things. I still have acid, cold, fire, lightning and sonic. I also consider arcane magic as a separate type of energy as well as divine magic and psionic energy. So I consider Magic Resistance to be the same as Fire Resistance, it's just that Magic is a different form of energy.

In most games, arcane/divine/psionic energy is the same, block one and you block them all. With the right group, though, I make them all different. This makes spells like Resist Divine Energy and Block Psionic Energy necessary. It also make the game more dangerous. Bwa ha ha.

I also use darkness as a form of energy - it is the source of level drain and ability score drain. You know, those nasty shadows can take your Strength down to zero.

Lastly, there ectoplasm, specifically the matter that comes from the deep ethereal plane. It isn't energy as much as proto-matter. With the right magic or technology, ectoplasm can be shaped into any object or form of energy. I consider paladins and theurges of Ptah (remember Spelljammer?) to increase their mastery over time of converting ectoplasm into various things that appear in our world as spells. In a sense, they have only one spell, Summon Ectoplasm, but they learn endless variations of it to heal, produce flame, create food and water, and anything else imaginable.

Even with the extended list, sonic is still my favorite. Maybe in the next monster book, I'll find some sonic-based monsters.