Monday, October 25, 2010

Ye Olde Provisions Shop - Ranged Weapons

Greetings, Readers!

I return once again to continue my series of equipment cards for Dungeons & Dragons Essentials™.  Now available are Ranged Weapons.  Because there's not as many items in this deck, I've combined both the Simple and Military Ranged Weapons into a single deck.  

Remember to right-click on the link below and choose "Save Link As" to download the PDF file.

Ranged Weapons

Coming up this week, I'll be doing the actual equipment cards.  There's quite a few of those, so I'll probably do them in two different decks.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ye Olde Provisions Shop - Military Melee Weapons

Greetings, Readers!

A short post today, simply to let you know that a third set of equipment cards is now available.  This deck contains the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials™ Military Melee Weapons.  Before I link those up for you, a bit of warning.  This file is about 21 mg, so download with caution (broadband users should have no trouble).  Here's the link, it's best to right-click the link and choose "Save Link As":

Military Melee Weapons

By now, you get the drill.  Print out the cards, shuffle them, and select a number of them based on the size of the community the weapons shop is located (click HERE for an example).  As these are military weapons, the DM might require a special license for a shopkeeper to sell these kinds of weapons.  The choice is up to you!

I'd love to get some feedback as to the usefulness of these cards.  Let me know!

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ye Olde Provisions Shop - Simple Melee Weapons

Greetings, Readers!

As promised, our merchants have been busy building weapon shops all over your campaign setting.  Linked below are another set of cards you can use to determine what weapons can be found in what shops.  Using these cards works just the same as using the armor cards; which are described here.

Large City      Draw 36 Cards.
Small City:     Draw 24 Cards.
Town:            Draw 18 Cards.
Village:          Draw 12 Cards.
Hamlet:          Draw 06 Cards.

I've changed the distribution a bit on weapons, as it was my feeling that weapon shops would probably carry more weapons than an armor shop would carry armor.  Of course, your campaign will vary, so adjust the number of cards in your "inventory" deck to suit your needs.

You can link to this set of cards by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.  For easier opening, I recommend right-clicking on the link and choosing, "Save Target As".  

I'd love to hear your comments on what you think of the utility of the cards.  Let me know what your're thinking!

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ye Olde Provisions Shop - Armor & Shields

Man, everyone needs provisions.  Armor, weapons, implements, equipment.  All that stuff needs to be acquired so that you can take on the bad guys and win the day.  However, when you roll into town, how do you know whether or not a merchant has a specific item?  More importantly, how can you make sure the DM knows whether or not a merchant has that certain item?  Are you really going to make your poor suffering DM come up with all these tables just to see if a merchant has that suit of chain mail you need?

Friends, I have an answer for you, and it comes in the form of a set of cards you can download right here at Initiative or What?.  These cards are free, and were created using a great site called Go Deck Yourself.  That site has some great templates for creating cards for just about any tabletop game, and all for free. I've probably talked about them before (spoiler: they're awesome), so I won't go into that here.  What I want to speak about more specifically is how to use the cards.

Before I go any further, let me link up the cards I currently have available for download.  CAUTION!!  This a pretty hefty PDF file (a little over 17mg), so download with care.  ARMOR & SHIELDS SHOP.

Okay, I'm not going to brag about the cards.  I specifically designed them to be simple, and to easily communicate all the vital information you need for that type of item.  FYI, all the stuff you see here is coming out of the 4e Essentials rules.  In this case, they're right out of Heroes of the Fallen Lands™.

Now, here's how you use them:

You're the DM.  You have different communities of different sizes, with correspondingly differently sized shops.  So, let's say the town has an armorer (smithy, metalworks, what have you).  After the cards have been cut out, shuffle them and draw a number of cards that correspond to the city's size.  You can go with my suggestions, or you can use your own system:

Large City      Draw 36 Cards.
Small City:      Draw 24 Cards.
Town:            Draw 12 Cards.
Village:          Draw 06 Cards.
Hamlet:          Draw 03 Cards.

The cards drawn represent the assortment of armor (and shields) that particular shop has on hand that day.  Of course, popular merchants will get shipments in all the time.  My own recommendation is for each week of game time, shuffle the deck again and draw the same number of cards.  That way, a new selection is always available.  If you're an especially benevolent DM, you might even hand the player the card of his choosing, to keep for his records.  If the player trades in that card for something better (a suit of magical armor, perhaps), then you can slip it back into the deck "shop", for future shopping.

Over the next several days, I'll be making additional equipment cards for the items that can be found in the Essentials rules.  That way, no matter what kind of item your heroes are looking for, you will be sure to know how to find it (at least the ordinary stuff, anyway).

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

D&D Essentials - Object Properties


So, I'm going through the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Rules Compendium, and came across the chart that helps determine the object properties for items you find within the game (it's on page 177).  Object properties can be important if the heroes want to put the smack down on a statue, or throw glass wine bottles at a hobo on the street.

Whatever the reason, it's important to know the basic stats (AC/Reflex/Fortitude) and the hit points of the object in question.  The table given in the book is great, but it contains (wait for it)...MATH.

I really hate math.  Granted, it's not complicated math, but when you have two variables you have to take into consideration (type & durability), it's more math than I care to do.


Starting with the basic table the Rules Compendium gives us, I created an expanded table for easy reference, with all the math completed (I used a calculator).

You'll find a .pdf link to the table RIGHT HERE.

For you impatient types, here's an image of the table.  You can click on it for a larger view.

Let me know if you find this chart useful.  I might pick some more low-hanging fruit like this for enhancement.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Into the Myst


I'd like to talk a little bit about my Dead Orcs Society campaign, but before I do that; let me lay out the following  alert:

WARNING:  If you are a member of the Dead Orcs Society and are reading my blog, please be aware that there are spoilers below.  I'm happy you're reading the blog, but don't ruin the game experience for yourself. Take a look at another article instead!

You.  You're one of them!  Your time is not at hand.  Go.  Go now before it's too late.

Okay, thank you for that indulgence.  On with the post.

Well over a year ago, I mentioned a couple of times that I'm a HUGE fan of the Myst series of games.  By today's video game standards, they seem pretty basic.  The game consisted of a linear plot with slide-show like presentations of graphics, augmented by a little animation here and there.  At the time, the game was amazingly innovative, as it was the first game released on CD-ROM.  Also (for its time), the game had beautifully rendered 3-D graphics.    Each image was like a photograph.  In addition, the images, combined with the curious puzzles and haunting music, made for an entertaining experience.

The creative story line behind the Myst (and later Uru) series of games seems tailor-made for a Dungeons & Dragons type of game.  Haunting locales, devious puzzles, interesting artifacts all combine to create an intriguing experience.  However, using the Myst universe as a basis for a campaign had some challenges.  This post is how I plan to hurdle these challenges and create a rewarding experience.

Challenge #1:  Technology

Atrus (the main protagonist in the early Myst games) was a writer capable of describing some amazing worlds.  As a result, some of the things that he "wrote" into these worlds were technological devices.  Thus, I had to figure out how to deal with these in a campaign that previously had little technology.  Fortunately, this was pretty easy to do.  Most of the technology described in the Myst series of games is of an organic nature.  That is, the tech is so incorporated into the world, it looks like it belongs there.  Most of it is naturally powered, or uses strange energies.  The nice thing about this fact, is that it's so well integrated, anything unusual can be chalked up by the character as "magic".  In my own campaign, that will be the default explanation as well.  I won't prevent my characters from finding out about how the technology works (and in some cases they'll need to, in order to solve a puzzle), but for the most part, it just does.

Challenge #2: Transportation

One of the main features of the Myst campaign setting, is the fact that certain D'ni (the race from which Atrus sprang) individuals were trained at an early age to be special writers.  These writers could write books describing just about any fantastic place.  The writer could then pen a "linking book" that would take you straight there.  From a campaign perspective, that's a pretty powerful magic.  For my campaign, writing books like this would require a VERY high leveled ritual, extremely special materials, and a great deal of time. While I won't make this magic impossible to acquire, most of my heroes will be far too busy to deal with it.  At the same time, I couldn't allow this kind of magic within the heroes' home setting.  Since using linking books takes you to a different world, that's exactly what will happen.  The Myst portions of the campaign take place on different worlds, effectively isolated from the home world.  Hence, no dangerous magical contamination.

Challenge #3: Linear Plot

Although the game of Myst encourages exploration in many different directions, the main plot is pretty linear.  You can count on one hand the number of possible outcomes of the game.  Fortunately, this isn't too much of a problem with my own campaign.  The Dead Orcs are used to a linear campaign & wide sweeping story arcs.  Thus, the Myst universe portion of the campaign, shouldn't be too difficult to sell. 

Challenge #4:  Monsters & Other Dangers

This challenge is the biggest one to hurdle.  Myst was created as a pretty relaxing game.  While there are some endings where you can "lose", at no point in the game can you really be killed or injured.  The slide-show type of presentation means you cannot travel to those places the game won't let you.  You can't accidentally fall into a pit or impale yourself on a machine, etc.  In addition, no monsters are going to come out of the woodwork to try and kill you.  Obviously, these game conceits simply won't do for a Myst-based D&D game.  The challenge means incorporating creatures and dangerous terrain that could be found in the setting.  Fortunately, the haunted & abandoned feel of the original game lends itself to using undead.  Also, the existence of strange devices using unusual energy sources, means that elementals of various types could be used prominently.  These kinds of monsters are best, because you can "drop" them into the plot.  You don't have to write huge back stories to explain why such things exist, as you would if you dropped in humanoid tribes, for example.  For my own campaign, there will be plenty of opportunities for the heroes to fight creatures.  In addition, terrain features are can be deadly, and so will be dealt with accordingly in the campaign.  You don't do a cannonball off of Stoneship, unless you're prepared to swim several hundred miles through open ocean.

The nice advantage to Dungeons & Dragons over the original Myst is that the heroes actually have a chance to change the plot.  They can choose whether or not to help Atrus, or do anything at all about his sons.  In addition, (at least for my own campaign) the heroes will be able to actually claim one or more of the worlds for their own use (if they so choose).  Of course, the heroes will have to be able to find their way home...

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Dungeon & Dragons Essentials - The Un-Review

Greetings, Readers!

By now, I'm sure you been flooded with all sorts of blogs & media regarding the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials product line and what it means for the industry, the hobby, & your game.  Many folks far more knowledgeable about the subject than myself, have put out a lot of great information.  Maybe you decided to purchase it or maybe you haven't.  

But I'm not going to talk about that.

I will tell you, that I have purchased the Essentials product line, and am enjoying the products.  For the record, here's the items I have so far:

  • The Red Box Introductory Set
  • The Rules Compendium
  • Heroes of the Fallen Lands
  • The Basic Dungeon Tiles Set (x2)

Instead of regaling you with my opinion on what I think of the rules, the game play, or even the various components of the game, I want to speak instead about the aesthetics of the set.  Too often, reviewers gloss over what I think is an important part of any set of game rules.  That is, the physical attributes of the set.  As table top role-players, this is understandable; but I think it's important to realize when a product has been cleverly designed.  For me, Essentials is a cleverly designed product.  For examp:

The Books are Table-Top Friendly:  This has probably been mentioned, but the "trade paperback" size of the main books (The Rules Compendium & Heroes of the Fallen Lands) are sized just right for the tabletop.  For the first time, I feel like I can keep a D&D tome on the actual table without it getting in the way, or being used as the backdrop for a dice roller.  The Rules Compendium, especially, will always have a place at the table.

The Books are HEAVY:  I was impressed with the "density" of both the Rules Compendium & Heroes of the Fallen Lands.  They feel like true digests, and not like textbooks.  When you open them, they seem jammed with rules, and for me, that's a good thing.  An encyclopedia at my fingertips.

The Counters are Clever:  I liked the fact that different monsters were printed on both sides.  I plan to use the counters as minion pieces, and the utility of having more monster types as minions is really appealing to me.  The counter material is dense, and while not quite as sturdy as plastic, it's probably more sturdy than anything I could print off at home.

The Tiles are Bountiful:  I've owned tile sets in the past, having purchased a couple each of the Harrowing Halls & Dark Sun sets.  Ten sheets of tiles in the Dungeon set, is quite generous for the cost (as far as I'm concerned).  Some folks have raised issue with the fact that the designs are recycled and not original ones.  That fact doesn't really concern me too much, as I've never really seem them before myself.  Oh, I  have to award bonus points for the frames the tiles are set in.  My wife, Anna (@FELTit on Twitter), is using the stout frames (empty now that the tiles have been punched out of them), as templates for felting projects.  Go utilitarianism!

This S**t Stacks Together:  I discovered this by accident.  If you place the Rules Compendium & Heroes of the Fallen Lands side by side on the Dungeon Tile set box, they stack.  The friggen things actually stack!  I don't know if it's an accident of design; or if the product design gurus over at WotC were sitting around thinking, "You know?  D&D nerds are going to be carrying this stuff to conventions, Encounters sessions, and to distant games. I wonder if it would be helpful to be able to stack all that stuff neatly together?". Well, whether they intended it to be like that, or not, it is a Cool Feature.   

Well, that's my "Un-Review" of Essentials.  As additional products are released, I'll see what I can do about identifying other unique properties of this Dungeons & Dragons product called, "Essentials".

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.