Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pathfinder "Advanced Class Guide" Playtest

Breaking News! I just received in a email less then an hour ago about Paizo's upcoming "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide" They are releasing a Playtest document for this rulebook next Tuesday and Pathfinder Society members like myself are getting a first look at it. The Advanced Class Guide Playtest PDF will be available for download at starting on 19NOV13.

The rulebook is due out next August. This book contains 10 all new classes "hybrids" classes. Each one takes rules elements from two existing classes and blends them together to create a new concept. Below are the currently revealed list of hybrid classes. Check out Paizo's blog for the full details.

1- Arcanist: a mix of sorcerer and wizard
2- Bloodrager: a mix of barbarian and sorcerer
3- Hunter: a mix of druid and ranger
4- Shaman: a combination of oracle and witch
5- Slayer: a blending of ranger and rogue
6- Swashbuckler: a mix of gunslinger and fighter
7- Warpriest: mixing the cleric and fighter
8- The Investigator: blends together alchemist and the rogue (Revealed Today)
9- Unknown
10- Unknown

The best part is that the characters will be legal for  Pathfinder Society Organized Play 
I for one I'm very excited to see these new classes and probably will build a new Society Character or two using the new rules.

Next D&D Druid, Part 3

As per my last D&D Next post and This Page on Coast website, I thought that the Playtest Packet released on 19SEP13 was going to be the final one. To my surprise, a new playtest kit is out. I made this discovery by chance when I went to to re-download the documents again. The file is renamed "101413_DnD_Next_Public_Playtest" so it's a safe bet that it was released on 14OCT13.

I'm happy to report that in general, this revision of the Druid class is better then it's former D&D Next incarnations. It's still inferior compared to 3.5 and Pathfinder Druid in my humble option but it's nice to see that Wizards of the Coast is making notable progress. I'm confident that they will release a decent final product when the new edition of Dungeons & Dragon is published.

Below is "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" list from my last two druid previews. Overall, my main complains of the D&D Next class are still valid but there are some sufficient improvements.

  The Good                                The Bad                                               ...And The Ugly

 Wildshape at Level 2                Limited Wildshape Forms                    No Animal Companions
                                                   (Improved since last Packet) 
  "At Will" Cantrips                   Druid Circles                                        Natures Ward Removed
  (4th Ed Style At Will                (The Class is less Versatile,                  as a Standard Ability 
  Powers)                                    Forces Specialization)                         (Poison/Disease Immunity)    

  Evergreen                                "Spell per Day" Reduction
  (Slow Aging)                            (Compared to D&D 3.0/3.5)
  Beast Spell/Speech                   No Summoning Spells
  (Now Standard Abilities)

"Per Day" Limit Removed
 from Wildshape

Wildshape Retooled: Druids are no longer restricted to a set number of Wildshapes per day. Instead, Druids are able to Wildshape once after a long rest (8 hours) or a short rest (1 hour.)  At level 8 this improves to twice between rests. Effectively, a druid will have the opportunity to shift around 3 or so times a play session at level two depending on how many short rest the party takes. In my personal experience playing D&D 4.0 (which at a similar "Second Wind") and Numenera (which also uses a rest system) groups generally take two short rest a session.  

The other notable improvement over the previous playtest material is that WotC finally ditched the "unlocking forms" as a Druid levels mechanic. In the last playtest document, here is how the form progression worked:

Level 2- Hound; Level 5- Steed; Level 7- Fish and Rodent; Level 9- Bird. 

This time around a Druid has access to all available forms as soon as they receive Wildshape. At level 2, Druids can now transform into a bat, a cat, a deer, a dog, a fish, a hawk, a horse, an owl, a raven, a snake, a toad, or a weasel. They can stay in these forums for 1 hour plus half there Druid level and they take on the stats and abilities of there new forums. The only way to gain more forums is to specialize in shape shifting by selecting "The Circle of the Moon" as there Druid Circle at level 3. 

These forums provide a Druid with a large amount of useful abilities and skill bonus/advantages but for the most part these forums won't help much in combat. Without the Moon Circle forums, shifting drops your hit points total to match the animal your transforming into. I admit this makes logical sense but it drastically reduces a Druids combat survivability. Also, the playtest PDF doesn't say anything about these basic forms scale up as a druid levels so this problem is only going to get worse over time.  

In short, Wildshape is not a combat ability anymore unless you pick "The Circle of the Moon." This circle adds combat orientated shape to a Druid's arsenal.

Moon Circle Changes:  Last playtest this Circle granted two "Battle Forum," bear and great cat, at level 3 and then give you ways to improve these forms. The abilities "Giant Battle Shapes," "Ancient Battle Shapes," and "Behemoth Shape" would greatly enhance the Druid's bear and great cat forms. Now, the Moon Circle just unlocks more increasing combat capable shapes over time. Sure, they give it a fancy name like "Monstrous Shapes" but it's essentially just grating two additional animals per tier:

Level 3 "Battle Wild Shape," Dire Wolf and Panther forms.  
Level 6 "Mauler Shapes," Brown Bear or Tiger.
Level 10 "Monstrous Shapes," Cave Bear or Triceratops.

As I said in "Wildshape Retooled," these animals are built for combat. They have a healthy amount of hit points, good STR score, and decent natural attack. The AC is still a little on the low side but that can't really be helped. Maybe there will be ways to shore up a Druid's defense while shifting down the line, such as the "Wild" armor enchant in Pathfinder. It's expensive, +3 enchant at 9,000 gp including masterwork armor and +1 enchant costs, but it's worth it. 

Beast Spell/Speech: These two abilities were formerly Circles abilities but now all Druids get them. Beast Speech is granted at level 7, allowing a Druid to talk normally while shifted. Beast Spell is earned at 20 and lets the Druid cast spells while Wildshaping. It may not seem like a big advancement in the grand scheme of things but it makes more sense. Wildshape is a core feature of the Druid class so it's great that all Druids can now benefit from these abilities regardless of which Circle they pick. 

Overall: This latest is definitely a step in the right direction. I've finnally found a local gaming group playing D&D Next so I'm really looking forward to actually playing the new Druid Class in the next few weeks.

If you have not already, I highly suggest signing up for the D&D Next Play Test.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NekoCon 16 Highlights and Photos

As per my post from last week, NekoCon took place Friday through Sunday at the Convention Center in Hampton VA. Unfortunately, due to work and other social commitments I was only able to go on Saturday. Spent almost the entire day a Nekocon and it was great. The Cosplayers were amazing, the gaming was good, and all of the events that I took part in were excellent.

For me, the highlight of the day were the Pathfinder Society games, the free Jonathan Coulton concert, and Cat Scratch Fever dance. For those of you who are unaware, Jonathan Coulton is a musician who writes and plays great geeky songs. He's probably most famous for writhing the amazing song "Still Alive" which played the video game Portal as the credits rolled. Jonathan has a large collection of songs, a few of my favorites are "Code Monkey," "My Future Self," and  "Skullcrusher Mountain."This was the first time that I've seen Jonathan in concert and he put on a great show.

In the Table Top gaming section,  Pathfinder Society of Virginia Meetup Group ran many Organized Play Sessions throughout the entire convention. I sat in  one game with my PFS Character Shamus, Scenario #35-02: The Wardstone Patrol. The setup was very straight forward. The Wardstones that protect the country of Mendev from the demon-infested Worldwound are weakening and as such, more demons are getting through the magical barriers. To handle this new development, Mendev is requiring all Pathfinders operating in the country to serve a brief tour of duty to reinforce line that guards the barrier.

As our required duty the group of Pathfinders were tasked with following a jaded veteran commander on his routine patrol of the boarder fortifications. Not wanting to spoil anything, the commander is kind of a jerk who doesn't help out in combat. Luckily, my group didn't need his help. Except for the first combat encounter which took three hours, we steamrolled past the demons with ease. The story for this scenario was very good. Thankfully, our group did well enough that we avoided the "big twist ending" which I assume would have been a challenging fight.

Lastly, below are some phones I took on my smart phone.

A Dalek and Weeping Angle From Doctor Who

The Two Unnamed Protagonist of "The Journey" for PS3

A Group of Full Metal Alchemist Cospalyers

Female Joker and Poison Ivy from the Batman

"V" from the Movie "V for Vendetta"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Forever Deam: Session One

Preamble: I started a Numenera Campaign called "The Forever Dream" online. It is played using the site Roll20, for dice rolls and visual aids, and over Skype for voice chat. I have four players and we're going to be gaming weekly for the next two or three months. I'm intending for this to be a short campaign with the option to continue at some point in the future. Just FYI, the opening entry can be found HERE. Additional post can be found by clicked on "The Forever Dream" tag on this blog.

 As a reference point to readers, here are the group's characters:


The Session: We gamed for about three hours on Friday, 01NOV2013 starting at 2000 US eastern time. The entire group was present.

Adventure Summery: The story began with a small group of wayward adventurers from the theocracy community of Bless. They were sent into the massive and insanely dangerous forest swamp which surrounds their home town on an important "Divine Quest." The trade caravan that arrives twice a year like clockwork is a day late. Suiko's team was dispatched to investigate the trader's uncharacteristic tardiness.

The team left at the crack of dawn. The first leg of the journey was painfully uneventful. The party aimless searched the swamp for hours to no avail. Around midday the group finally caught a break. A large mechanical tread print was found in the mud. The group quickly deduced that it was most likely made by the caravan which happened to be an armored mechanical monstrosity built in worlds past. The tech savvy man named Orion who owned and operated "The Star-Crossed Trading Company" stubbornly maintains it's the safest way of transporting goods through the swamp. "Sure it's expansive," Orion would comment when asked about his caravan by non-Blessairens, " keep old Betty up and running but it's worth it. That psychedelic brew those cultist create in that death trap has made me a shin-thousandare!" 

Using his impressive feral-like taking skills, Lucien picked up the caravan's trail and led the group deeper into the swamp. After advancing for a few minutes, the party happened by a brutal sight. A group of 20 Laaks had attacked and were about to devourer one of Bless's most ionic inhabitants. The gravity defying telepathic floating Jellyfish known simply as "Nercos." This odd species is the creation of the Living God "Nercomadusa." There sole purpose is to serve Him and to assist His followers while in their moral shells. Having arrived just in the nick of time, the party rushed to the Jelly's aid. Mobius  used his psychic abilities to lift the Nerco out of harm's way while Moardeki electrocuted the swarm of small lizards by volleying a few electrically charged crossbow into the water. While doing very little himself, Suiko led the group to victory by issuing good advice to his comrades. 

With the Laaks fried, the party revived the Nerco and Mobius contact with it. Lacking the intelligence for direct commutation, the Jellyfish relayed it's story telepathically by sending emotions and flashes of memories. Some time after the group was deployed the Care Taker of the town released numerous Nercos into the swamp unprotected on a search. Although the Jelly didn't specify what they were searching for the group came to the logical conclusion that they are also combing the wilderness for the traders. After the short interaction the group continued onward with the Jelly in tow. Following at a safe distance.

About an hour later the group encountered a very strange and very curious pool of water. In the pool where humans, adhumans, and local wildlife loudly chatting away with each other. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that something very weird was happening. The conversationalists were in fact just severed heads mounted on metal polls. Clearly not a natural phenomenon, Lucien approached the disembodied heads.With lighting fast speed, a metal tentacle surged from beneath the water and wraped around Lucien's leg. The creature emerged from the water, revealing it's true nature. The creature was clearly a robotic horror from built ages ago. It had a massive metal torso, two deadly sharp crab like pincher, and a mass of grey tentacles.

Grasping Lucien, the robot atempted to slam him against a conveniently located jagged rock but it failed. At the last possible second he slipped out of the hold, rolling to (relative) safety. Luckily for the party, the crudely programmed robot momentarily lost it's query which caused it's targeting software to glitch and execute a line of junk code. Abandoning it's primary function, the automation entered "kill everything that moves with reckless disregard to self preservation" mode. Also fortunately for the group, the creature was in disrepair. Suiko spotted a few weak spots on their fearsome attacker and pointed them out to the party. Exploring their adversary's vulnerabilities;Lucien, Mobius , and Moardeki eventually dismantled the rampaging device but at great cost. The harrowing battle left the entire party tired and wounded. They took a long rest and patched themselves up the best they could before continuing.

While scavenging useful components from the broken robot another Nercos appeared. It relayed to the group that there was a large building in the heart of the swamp and urged the party to go there. The group reluctantly agreed after the Jelly shared some memories of structure. The building execrated water from every orifice and was surrounded by hostile looking abhumans called Margr. But next to all that craziness was fresh caravan tracks. Having no other leads, the group marched forward...surely heading directly into harms way.

Conclusion: The session continued after this point but we stopped soon after. The adventure was not able to be completed within a single game session. However, finishing this write up as the party arrives at building at the heart of the swamp is a logical closing point.

I award the party 2 XP for the discovery/partial exploration of the structure and that was it.

Notes: First off, I apologize for whatever grammatical and spelling errors that exist in this post (or anywhere else in my blog.) Currently, I'm dong all my own proof reading and I'm not very good at it. Feel free to email or message me any mistakes and I'll to my best to fix them in a timely manor.
- This is a Home Brew Campaign takes place in an unknown location within the default Numenera World Settings.

- The Living God "NERCOMADUSA" and His "NERCO" servants are based on real Jellyfish.

- LAAK are found on page 243 of the Numenera Core Rule Book.

- The creature in the pool was a MESOMEME, found on page 246 of the Numenera Core Rule Book.

- When the MESOMEME grabbed Lucien, that was a GM INTRUSION. Found on page 88 of the Numenera Core Rule Book.

- MARGR are found on page 244 of the Numenera Core Rule Book


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Numenera Campaign

Numenera is a science fantasy roleplaying game set in the far distant future created by Monte Cook. From a purely mechanical standpoint it's a very streamlined and straight forward system. It was designed to lessen the burden on Game Masters so they can spend more time on story and world crafting. As a soon to be Numenera Game Master, I really appreciate it.

For one thing, it's so easy to come up with obstacles on the fly. Everything that the PC encounter has a standardized difficulty level from 1 to 10 which applies to anything the player do to interact with it. Lets say that there is a level 3 metal door that the players need to get by. The target number the PC need to roll is always three times it's level, so for this example they need to roll a 9 or better for any action. It doesn't matter if they choice to pick the door's lock or bashing it down, their target remains 9. However, if a player has a skill or is carrying a applicable asset (such as ram or lock picks) the task becomes easier.

In Numenera, bonuses or penalties to actions are not common. Any skills or assets a player has usually drops the difficulty level specially for the action attempted, which in turn lowers the target number. Another way the player can drop an action's level is by applying effort. By choosing to exerting extra effort into a given task, a character makes it easier at the cost of points from their stat pools. For the full run down on Numenera stat system, check out this link:

Two other very interest features of Numenera are it's experience mechanics and character creation. Experience points are not handed out for killing monsters, instead they are earned through discovery and GM interventions. GM don't have to roll dice (unless they want to) so they use interventions to add complication to the narrative. The GM offers up a challenge to the player which will grant them 2 XP. However, if a player has unspent experience on hand they can choice to refuse it by paying 1 XP and forgoing the 2 XP bonus.     

Character Creation is very quick and painless compared to more complex systems such as Pathfinder or Shadowrun. In my experience, building a character in pathfidner or shadowrun takes about 30 minutes using Hero Lab, or an hour or longer by hand. There are so many options in systems it takes time to figure out all the specifics. In Numenera, it takes maybe half an hour by hand or considerably less time if you use the character create app or There are only three major choices you have to make and this sentence is a tool to guide you through the process :

_Name_ is a _Adjective_ (descriptor) _Noun_ (Class) who _Verb_ (Focus Ability)

All you have to do is fill in the blanks and they then pick a few options. This sentence is also a handy way of describing your character. It hits all the key points a gives a clear idea of your character is capable of.  

 Starting next week I'm going to be running a short Numenera Campain on called "The Forever Dream"The game is set in a very weird town, even by Ninth World standards. The town is called "Bless" to it's residents and by "Jellyvill" or "That wet and smelly village full of floating telepathic jellyfish" (they look like the above photo.) But to the players, it's just home sweet home. They have lived in Bless all their lives so jellyfish, the Forever Dream, and Divine Quests are just business as usual. The Sleeping Priests that run the town send them and other residents on Divine Quest, normally to gather Numenera, which they have to complete complete. One simply doesn't ignore the will of the Living God "Narcomedusae," the creator of The Forever Dream and giver of immortality. However, the player's next Divine Quest is something special. A mission of such vial importance that the fate of the entire town rest in their hands.

I have a full group of four players and our first game is on Friday, November 01 at 7:00PM. I'm planning on post session summaries on this blog. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NekoCon 16 Next Week

After what seemed like an eternity, I'm back home and just in time for NekoCon 16. NekoCon is a yearly Anime Convention that just so happens to be very close to where I live. It's the best geeky Convention in the Hampton Roads Area and arguably the best Anime Convention in Virginia. As per there are 5: NekoCon, Ring of Fire Con, Shoboucon, Anime USA, and Anime Mid-Atlantic.  

Having lived in VA for some time now I've been to all these Convention at some point and in my humble option, NekoCon is the best. Anime USA is also really good but it's more of a "Washington DC" Convention, rather then a Virginia one.

NekoCon 16 is shaping up to be another amazing event. Great Cosplay opportunities, interesting panels, great guests, awesome anime shows/movies, and most importantly (to me anyway:) a tabletop gaming room with a ton of sessions planned. My favorite being the Organized Play Sessions being run by Pathfinder Society of Virginia Meetup Group.  Below a few events being held at NekoCon 16 that I'm planning on taking part in:

Panels and Workshops:                                                        Events:
Plus 2 Comedy                                                                    Saturday Night Dance: Cat Scratch Fever
Anime for Manly Men                                                        Art Show                                         
Anime – Whose Line Is It Anyways                                  Karaoke
Becoming a Video Game Writer                                        AMV Idol
Beyond D&D
Character Design                                                               Guests:
Borderlands Q&A                                                              Anthony Burch (Borderlands Writer)
Game Guy’s Game Show                                                  Ashly Burch (Voice Actress)     
Mass Effect as Applied to the Real World (18+)              John Swasey (Voice Actor)

Just FYI, here is the Pocket Schedule for NekoCon 16. Since my early arrive back home in VA was bit of a last minute surprise I probably won't be Cosplaying this year or taking part in any of the official NekoCon challenges this year. Which is fine, I'm very lucky to be attending this year...even if I have to pay the full cover change for not pre-registering.

I'm really looking forward to this Convention, happening 3 days next week starting Friday 01NOV13 and ending on Sunday 03NOV13. I will post photos and maybe a summery of the Convention shortly after the event. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Next D&D Druid, Part 2

For those of you who don't know, for almost a year Wizards of the Coast has conducted a semi-open play test for the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the project being creatively code named "D&D Next." This has been an ongoing process since May 24th 2012. As per the Wizard's website, the Playtest Package download released 19SEP13 on  is the one and marks the end of the public testing.

The final public package for D&D Next has been out for a month now and I think it's time to put out some more into on my favorite class. This post is primary just an updated version of "Next D&D Druid, that was written a few play test document ago. Changes have been made and now is the prefect time for an update.

  The Good                                The Bad                                               ...And The Ugly
  Wildshape at Level 2               Very Limited Wildshape                         No Animal Companions
                                                 Animal Forms                                       

  Cantrips - D&D 4.0                Druids are less Versatile, having            "Natures Endurance" (Poison/
  Style At Will "Weapon             to specialize by choosing a Druidic        Disease immunity) has been   
  -Like" Spells                           Circle                                                    Removed as a Default Ability  

  Evergreen- Slow Aging            Large Reduction of "Spell per Day"
                                                 Slots compared to D&D 3.0 and 3.5
                                                  No Summoning Spells

Quick Update: Since my last Druid post, "Wildshape" has moved to level 2 and "Druid Circe" to level 3. "Nature Endurance" has been removed and replaced with the Circle feature "Land's Endurance." This new ability work just like it's predecessor, providing the Druid with immunity to poisons and diseases. "Nature's Ward" was also moved to a Circle feature and "Healing Trance" was removed completely.

The Circle have been heavy adjusted. "Circle of the Oak" has be replaced by "Circle of the Land," which has different abilities..."Circle of the Moon" remains mostly the same.

This version of the play test ditches "Attack Bonus," "Spellcasting Bonus," and expertise dice of prior packages in favor of a catch all "Proficiency Bonus." It's a straight up level dependent bonus when you use or do almost anything your character is proficient. It looks like this:
                               1 to 2; +1                 7 to 10; +3             15 to 18; +5
                               3 to 6; +2                 11 to 14; +4           19 and 20; +6

This bonus applies to all skills and tools/kits checks your proficient  with; attack rolls with weapons your proficient with, and spells casts while using a focus.

Wildshape: The Druid's supernatural ability to change their physical forum to that of an animal they are familiar with has been the classes "signature ability" for many years. D&D 3.0/3.5 Druids gained the ability to shape change into medium sized animals once a day starting at level 4 and would become more powerful as the character takes druid levels. In 4.0 Druids had the opportunity to shape change but it wasn't automatically given. The player would have to choose to take Shape Changing daily powers.

This current incarnation of the Druid class can Wildshape at level two but are restricted on what animal form they can take. By default, the form progress goes like this:

2- Hound, 5- Steed, 7- Fish and Rodent, 9- Bird. 

To gain more shape shifting options a Druid has to "specialize in wildshaping" by selecting the Moon as their Druid Circle.   

Spell Casting: Basically, it's 3.5 Spell Casting with a few 4.0 traits. Daily Spell Slots are back and Druids once again have nine levels of spells at their disposable. The down side is that the actual number of spells that can be cast per day has be drastically reduced compared to 3.5. At the maximum level of 20, druids will only be able to cast 19 spells, divided between 9 spell levels, per day not counting Cantrips which are at will and free or Circle of the Land extra/bonus spells. This is a vast reduction compared to a D&D 3.5 Druid's 39 base spell slots, not counting 0 level or bonus spells granted by high spell casting ability score. 

The "Circle of the Land " is the Druid's spell casting specialization option. It gives the Druid an a free spell slots and added spells to the Druids spell list base on which of the seven lands they became a Druid in: Coast, Desert, Forest, Grasslands, Mountain, Swamp, or Tundra.

Circle of the Land: Originally, this was the Druid's extra spell casting option but it's received a substantial upgrade. In this incarnation, it has a lot more flexibility and a lot more options to players. A Druid that picks this Circle at level three gains a Land Type which grants one free specific spells at 3, 5, 7, and 9 based on their choice. For example, below are two of the seven choices available:

              FOREST:                                                          TUNDRA
              3- Augury, Barkskin                                           3- Augury, Spike Growth
              5- Call Lighting, Plant Growth                             5- Sleet Storm, Slow
              7- Divination, Freedom of movement                  7- Freedom of Movement, Ice Storm      
              9- Commune with Nature, Plant Door                 9- Commune with Nature, Cone of Cold
Also, they gain bonus spell lots and the following unity abilities: Land's Stride, Nature's Ward, Land's Endurance, and Beast Spells. I already spoke about "Land's Endurance,  Land Stride (A.K.A Woodland stride)  and Nature's Wards (A.K.A Resist nature's lure) work similarly to there 3.5 counterparts. "Beast Spells," allows Druids to cast spells in any forum, is very useful but it's too bad that you have to wait till level 20 to get it. My Pathfinder Druid can do that at level 5 by taking the Natural Spell Feat.

Circle of the Moon: This Circle has not changed much since my last post but there are a few differences. Right when a Druid selects this Circle they gain the ability "Moon Shapes" which heals hit points equal to your Druid level when reverting from a Wild Shape and gives the Druid a +2 to STR/|DEX while in Hound form. Last play test they give extra forms as soon as get a circle but this time around you have to wait level 6 to receive extra forums. here is the breakdown for your Circle fourms:

                       6- Cat and Bear (Battle Shapes)       14- Ancient Battle Shapes
                       10- Giant Battle Shapes                    16- Behemoth Shape

Lastly, at level 20 a Moon Circle member gets "Instinctive Wild Shape" which allows the druid to Wild Shape an unlimited times per day. Once again, Pathfinder already does this and they don't require a feat or any other specialization either. All Druids can Wild Shape at will it at level 20 by default.   

No Animal Allies: I covered this at length on my last post so I'll keep it short this time. In D&D 4th edition Wizard of the Coast moved away from summoning spells and player controlled companions for all classes. When first released there were absolutely no powers or abilities that dealt with summoning or companion creatures but they added in a splash of it with later 4.0 release. Unfortunately, it looks like D&D Next is also going down this road.

To me, it feels like the Druid Class is missing a core element without gaining really anything in return. In the Pathfinder RPG, Druids can choice to forgo a animal companion by selecting a Cleric domain as their "Nature's Bound." Sure they are giving up an animal ally but they are getting something almost as good in return.  

Overall: So far, I really don't like what I'm seeing with my favorite class. I'm not saying that D&D Next is bad, that too early to tell but this class really needs an over hull. D&D Next Druid is a striped down 3.5 model with a few 4.0 additions. They took away a lot of what makes a Druid awesome and they give us practically nothing new in return.  

If you have not already, I highly suggest signing up for the D&D Next Play Test.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Numenera: Tales from the Ninth World

"Tales from the Ninth World" is a digitally disturbed PDF, written by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain containing three short stories set in the upcoming Numenera RPG. The PDF file also has a three page preview of the Numenera Core Rule book entitled "Welcome to the Ninth World." I recently bought this PDF from RPG NOW for the low, low price of 2.99 USD.

 The Ninth World, Numenera's world setting, is a science fantasy representation of what earth might be like a billion years in the future. The "World" we know and love is long gone and the current age is built on the defunct marvels of technology of the Eight previous Worlds. The most recent incarnation of humanity struggling to survive amongst the horrors unleashed by their predecessors. Their level of technological mastery is comparable to our medieval time period with the exception of "old world" devices salvaged and discovered by brave and diligent adventurers. These technological relics are called "Numenera" the three classes of adventurers changed with their retrieval are Glaives, Jacks, and Nanos.

"Tales from the Ninth World" features three short stories:

"The Smell of Lighting" by Monte Cook. It's about a kid named Faber who lives with his family in an Castle that has the seemly supernatural ability to grow and self expand. 

"The Taste of Memory" by Shanna Germain. The protagonist in this tale is a self defined thief and ink addict named Marseyl. She a Jack who trades the Numenera she finds on jobs for ink; a combination hallucinogenic drug and tattoo ink that allows the user to experience false memories    

"The Sound of a Beast" by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain. A miss matched team of adventurers are on a mission to escort a captured but completely complainant varjellen. The narrative start with the main character, a were-beast style shapeshifter, laminating about his annoyance with a party member named Palmer and his strong desire to kill him.       

All three stories were very original and paint a great picture of what it must be like to live in a broken world haunted by the shadows of eight grand civilizations All three also end leaving many questions unanswered, perhaps keeping the stories open for future installments. In my humble option, the best of the lot is "The Taste of Memory."  The idea of Ink felt very true to the source material and it had a likable yet highly flawed leading lady. On the other hand, the preview pages of the Numenera was a little bit of a let down. Most of the info presented can be found for free on their website,, overall it was worth the three bucks.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pathfinder "Ultimate Campaign" Book is Almost Out

Being an big fan of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game, I have the "Pathfinder RPG Ongoing Subscription" on It's a service that pre-orders all the Pathfinder "main series" releases as they come out at the list price. The benefit to the buyer is that I get a free PDF of the book order when it ships.

Yesterday, I received an email stating he following:

In the next week or so, we're expecting to ship Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign (OGL) Hardcover, the next product of your subscription.

It's no the definitive release date I was hoping for but it's still very good news. I've been looking for to this release for awhile now, ever since I read it's going to included updated Kingdom Building rules. This is exciting for me on a personal level because I've Game Mastered the "Kingmaker Adventure Path" before and I love the idea of the player's carving out a new county out of a dangerous wilderness. Unfortunately, my group fell apart right after the start of book two...right when Kingdom Building kicked off.

Some of my Player's complained that they didn't like Kingdom Building. They thought it was a hassle and just wanted to spend our time at the table adventuring in the Stolen Lands. It is my desire that Paizo fixed these issues with Ultimate Campaign so I can try Kingmaker again with the updated Kingdom Building Rules.

 For those of you not interested in running a Kingdom, the book will also offer the following:
  • A detailed guide to generating character backstories, including a new system for random character generation and traits and drawbacks to meld your background with your statistics.
  • Story feats that increase in power as you achieve key goals, making quests and crusades more than just flavor!
  • A complete downtime rules system to flesh out those parts of a PC’s life that take place between adventures, such as running a business, gaining power and influence in a community, or starting a magical academy.
  • New rules for retraining and switching classes; honor, reputation, and fame; young characters; investment; magic item creation; and other key adventuring topics.
  • Mass combat rules to help you lead clashing armies and conduct epic battles in a fun and efficient manner—without losing sight of the PCs themselves.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Big News in the World of Shadowrun

First off is that a Shadowrun Video Game is being made called "Shadownrun Returns" by Harebrained Schemes. By the looks of it, it's the first Video in a long while that will do justice to the Shadowrun Table Top RPG. If your like me and you missed out on the Shadowrun Return Kickstarter Campagin you can still pre-order the game for 10% off now:  

More good news, the Shadowrun 5th Edition Preview One is out and availble for download for free on  RPGnow. If you a fan of the game it's a must read. It's only 12 pages long and doesn't have a lot of info regarding the new rule set. Still, is worth a once over if only to read a pretty good Shadowrun Short Story. Here is the download page:

Lastly, a Shadowrun MMORPG is in the works. For all the details, click below:

Details Revealed for Upcoming Redwall Adventure Game

Still no word on "Receive a Free Copy of Redwall: The Warrior Reborn" Stretch Goals or Backer Levels but they released Partial Specs:
  • Genre: A 3D Progressive Adventure Game in, around (and under) Redwall Abbey
  • Platform(s): Primary is Mac/PC – probably via Steam. Also a slightly nerfed version on iOS and Android tablets. Consoles like Wii U, PSN or XBLA are realistic options but no commitment there.
  • Characters: Three playable species, current leaders are Mice, Squirrels, and Badgers
  • Gameplay: Heavy on exploration, interaction and puzzles
  • Combat? Yes, there will be combat...just wouldn't be Redwall without it!
  • Hours of gameplay? Why? Do you have to be somewhere?
  • Game Engine: We’re using Unity3D as our game engine. We’ve been using Unity for years and absolutely love it!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


 A New Monster I created for a Pathfinder RPG Comparable Game...  

Failcat doesn't look undead while active. To a casual observer she is just a regular mundane house cat who happens to be down on her luck. The cat appears to be mangy and beat up but possess a endearing charm and a kind nature. This ruse often invokes pity and allows Failcat to cozy up to her victims so she can quietly feed on their negative mental energy.   

Cat                   CR 1                                     XP 400

Undead Psionic Tiny animal

Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +5


AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 size)

hp 3 (1d8–1)

Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +1

Undead Traits (Ex)


Speed 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +4 (1d2–4), bite +4 (1d3–4)

Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.


Str 3, Dex 15, Con --, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7

Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 6 (10 vs. trip)

Feats Weapon Finesse

Skills Climb +6, Perception +5, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers
+4 Climb, +4 Stealth


Organization solitary, pair, or small pack (3–6)
Treasure none
Cats typically weigh 5–15 pounds when fully grown.

Special Abilities---------------------------------------------------

The Mere presence of Fail Cat causes Failure...

Feed on Failure (Psionic-Like)- A Failcat can passively feed off the negative mental energy that is created by any and all sentient beings when failing within a 30 foot rang. Feeding causes no innate harm to her victims, is a free action, and is undetectable without the aid of Psionic powers. Feeding keeps a Failcat alive but grants no other benefits.

If reduced to zero HP Failcat or hasn't feed within 24 hour she "dies" and becomes dormant. Failcat is unaware of her surroundings, can take no actions, and no longer can use her Psionic-Like abilities.

Fail Sense (Psionic-Like)- Failcat can sense the generation of  her negative mental energy food source from any sentient creature within 100 feet of her.  

Aura of Failure (Psionic-Like)- Works like the Witch Hex Misfortune (Anytime the creature makes an ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, it must roll twice and take the worse result) but applies to all rolls made to all creatures within 5 feet of Failcat, grants no save throw, and has unlimited uses.    
Fail Shield (Psionic-Like)- Any attack targeting Failcat surfers Misfortune as per the Witch Hex expect that it grants no save throws and has unlimited uses. Spells and effects that allow save throws grant Failcat Fortune on the roll, as per the Witch Hex (reroll any ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, taking the better result) 

Touch of Failure (Psionic-Like): Due to high concentrations of absorbed negative energy, any creature that has made physical contact with Failcat surfers a -2 Incompetence penalty on all rolls for 1d4 rounds per touch to a max of -10.

Gaze of Catastrophe (Psionic-Like)- Just by looking at someone, Failcat can turn a small failure into a big failure. When Failcat watches a creature exclusively for a minimum of one round that creature must treat all failed/missed rolls as critical misses/failures.

Regenerate (Supernatural)-  If any creature rolls and scores a critical misses/failures within 100 feet of Failcat's corpse she can feed off it and use the consumed negative psionic energy to self-revive, regenerate her physical forum, and become active again. This process takes a full round and cannot be use if the Failcat's corpse is completely destroyed.  

Flavor Text---------------------------------------------------

Failcat is a emotional vampire that feeds by absorbing a very specific negative mental energy generated by a victim when they fail. Not succeeding at any attempted action often causes a person to experience a mental state of failure, which psychically manifests as stress and frustration. Without action, Failcat passively draws in all "fail energy" within a 30 foot radius. Basically, she is a black hole of failure. This energy nourish her, a Failcat must feed at least once a day the she will fall into a "dead cat" dormant state. Staved Failcat can take no action and is unaware until they are revived using Regenerate. 

The Failcat has many passive Psionic-Like abilities which help ensure their targets keep failing so they keep creating enegry for her to feed on.

Failcat will never attack, even if provoked. If Failcat witness or senses a creature failing she will be dawned to that creature, moving into it's space if able. If unable, she will stand adjacent to the creature were she can safely bask in tier failure. Failcat will move with the targeted creature if necessary but can be lured away by a different creature failing near by or can be repelled by her victim. A creature becoming undesirable if they producing positive mental energy by winning. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Redwall: The Warrior Reborn

The first Officially Licensed Redwall Adventure game has been announced and it needs the support of fan for creative support and funding. 

Redwall is a series of children's fantasy novels written by Brian Jacques. The series is set in various time periods within the history of Redwall Abdy, which serves at the primarily setting of books. The majority of the characters in Redwall are anthropomorphic animals of some sort, almost all of which can speak and possess most of traits associated with human beings. 

The Redwall Video Game Kickstarter was launched a few days go and if your a fan of the books I highly suggest you become a Backer of this campaign. Before you pledge I have a  word of caution, the Redwall Kickstarter page is a little confusing. The campaign is actually for two related projects: a Minecraft Mod called "AbbyCraft" and the Offifcal Redwall Adventure game. As of right now, most of the page and all of the Backer Rewards deal with the Minecraft Map. None of the Reward levels give out the Adventure game.

I sent a message to the team creating the game, Soma Games, asking for an explanation. Soma said that the Kickstarter is only for AbbyCraft at the monument but the full Officially Redwall Adventure game will be unlocked by reaching Stretch Goals.  Once unlock, the $20 and up pledge level will receive a free copy of Redwall: The Warrior Reborn once released. However, the campaign has no Stretch Goals listed on the Kickstarter page.. In order to clarify this, I suggested that the design team update their Kickstarter page with Stretch Goals. The campaign could be missing out on Backers due the lack of the Adventure in Soma's Kickstarter Rewards.

Being a Banker of this project and a fan of the books, I have a vested interest in seeing this project reaching "The Redwall Adventure Game Get's Made" Stretch Goal. If your a fan of Redwall or just adventure games in general, please give Redwall: The Warrior Reborn a look.

The Next D&D Druid

The semi-open playtest for the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the project being creatively code named "D&D Next," has been ongoing since May 24th 2012. Being a proactive RPG geek  I jumped on the opportunity to beta test the release of the next installment of the world's most well known Table Top Role Playing Game.

Every few months Wizards of the Coast updates their playtest material based on user feedback. Seeing the evolution of the game over the last year has been very interest but what I really want to discuss is the next version of my favorite D&D class: the druid.   

The Good                                The Bad                                               ...And The Ugly
Wildshape at Level 1               Very Limited Wildshape                         No Animal Companions
                                               Animal Forms                                       

Cantrips - D&D 4.0                Druids are less Versatile, having 
Style At Will "Weapon             to specialize by choosing a Druidic
-Like" Spells                           Circle                

Natures Endurance-                Large Reduction of "Spell per Day"
Immunity to poisons                Slots compared to D&D 3.0 and 3.5
and disease
Evergreen- Slow Aging           No Summoning Spells

Wildshape: The Druid's supernatural ability to change their physical forum to that of an animal they are familiar with has been the classes "signature ability" for many years. D&D 3.0/3.5 Druids gained the ability to shape change into medium sized animals once a day starting at level 4 and would become more powerful as the character takes druid levels. In 4.0 Druids had the opportunity to shape change but it wasn't automatically given. The player would have to choose to take Shape Changing daily powers.

This current incarnation of the Druid class can Wildshape right from the get-go but are restricted on what animal form they can take. By default, the form progress goes like this:

1- Hound, 2- Rodent, 4- Steed and Fish, 6- Bird of Prey

To gain more shape shifting options a Druid has to "specialize in wildshaping" by selecting the Moon as their Druid Circle. Doing so grants the Druid more combat focused forms such as Bears and Great Cats. These forms come at a heavy cost of missing out on extra spells and spell slots given by the Circle of the Oak.    

Spell Casting: Basically, it's 3.5 Spell Casting with a few 4.0 traits. Daily Spell Slots are back and Druids once again have nine levels of spells at their disposable. The down side is that the actual number of spells that can be cast per day has be drastically reduced compared to 3.5. At the maximum level of 20, druids will only be able to cast 19 spells, divided between 9 spell levels, per day not counting Cantrips which are at will and free. This is a vast reduction compared to a D&D 3.5 Druid's 39 base spell slots, not counting 0 level or bonus spells granted by high spell casting ability score. 

I personally don't like this nurfing of spells but I understand where Wizards of the Coast made the change. Practically, Druids, Wizard, Clerics, and other full caster enjoyed a ridiculous number of spells at high levels. It was nearly impossible for a level 20 Druid to use all their spells in any given in game day or real time game session. As a experienced player of druids, at high levels I would have my high slots as my damage dealers and use all my ten or so low slots for healing and utility functions. Having less slots makes life a little bit more challenging for high level caster because they lack the flexibility of having extra spells to burn. 

As I talked about earlier, the "Circle of the Oak" is the Druid's spell casting specialization option. It gives the Druid an a free spell slot to cast the following spells:

1-  Entangle, 2- Augury, 3- Call Lighting, 4- Divination, 5- Cone of Cold

Augury, Divination, and Cone of Cold are not on the Druid's spell list so the only way to gain access to them is through the Oak Circle. I prefer the Moon option but "Cone of Cold" is hard to pass up. It's s a handy spell for a druid to know; 6d8 cold damage to everyone in a 60 foot clone can clear a room real fast.  

No Animal Allies: In D&D 4th edition Wizard of the Coast moved away from summoning spells and player controlled companions for all classes. When first released there were absolutely no powers or abilities that dealt with summoning or companion creatures but they added in a splash of it with later 4.0 release. Unfortunately, it looks like D&D Next is also going down this road.

Once again, I can understand why this was done but I still not like it. In 3.5, when I wasn't Wildshaping I basically a "Animal General" so to speak. Using my animal companion and summoned creatures I would direct them into the main fray while I stayed on the sidelines casting damage dealing or support spells. Sure, it took a few rounds to set this strategy up since summoning spells require a full round action but it's devastating. On my Pathfinder Society Druid, Shamus RavenFeather  has literally saved groups from TPK'ing (Total Party Kill) on two separate organized play scenarios using a similar methodology.

Removing theses additional player controlled assets from the Druid's arsenal makes encounters more challenging and forces players to discover new strategies with D&D Next new class.

Odds and Ends: D&D Next has done a good job of buffing many of the druids miscellaneous abilities as compared to earlier editions.

"Venom Immunity" has become "Natures Endurance;" granting immunity to poisons and disease.

"Resist Nature’s Lure" has become "Nature Ward;" granting immunity to charm and fear effects of Fey and Elemental.  

"Timeless Body" has become "Evergreen" which extends a character's lifespan 10 fold at Druid level 13. 

Overall: I've been keeping up to date on D&D Next Playtest by downloading the PDF maternal from the Wizards of the Coast Playtest Page but I have been unsuccessful in finding a group to actually playtest the new Druid class. So far I have mixed feelings; I like and dislike a lot of what I've read in the latest packet. I reserve judgment until I get some hands on experience with D&D Next and the class.

If you have not already, I highly suggest signing up for the D&D Next Playtest.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Battle Worlds: Kronos

Another day down, and another potentially great is being a reality thanks to Kickstarter!

Battle Wolrds: Kronos  Revisited is a forthcoming  Turn-Based Strategy game for the PC, Mac,Linux, and Web Browsers (for Multilayer only.) Thanks to the completion of the $250,000 stretch goal "Play Anywhere!" it's  also coming out on the iPad, Android Tablet, and Ouya. All backers of the project will have free access to these extra versions.

Battle Worlds will have a strong Single Player Campaign with two opposing factions, the "Yerla" and the Rebels. Each boasting 30 plus hours of gameplay. Other features include single player challenge maps, live muliplayer, asynchronous multiplayer mode, and a map editor for the windows release.

As per Kronos's Kickstarter page, estimated delivery of backer rewards is Dec 2013. The public release of the game will most likely not be too far behind.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Divinity: Original Sin Funded on Kickstarter

This morning I was very excited to hear that not only is Divinity: Original Sin going to be released, it reached all of it's Kickstarter stretch goals. Before I went to sleep on the 25th I saw that with less then 24 hours left in their funding campaign Divinity was able to hit the $800,000 mark. This "second to last" goal upgrades the in game hirelings from genetic Henchmen to fully developed Companions. A major achievement indeed but the odds of the game reaching 1,000,000 and unlocked the final goal of "day/night cycles, weather systems, and NPC schedules" seemed unlikely.  Too much money to cover in too short a time.

As it turns out, the conurbations donated to Larian Studios LLC via PayPal were enough to push the total funds received passed 1 Million. Thanks to the generous support of RPG gamers like me we're soon going to have the pleasure of playing a 100% complete Divinity: Original Sin later this year.  


For those of you unaware of this forthcoming title, Original Sin is the third game in the "Divinity" main series and will feature old school turn based combat in an a large free roaming world. If your a PC gamer and a RPG fan this game is definitively worth looking in to.  


...and thus began the mighty hero's EPIC experimentation with Blogging.

I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time but could never get it off the ground. Each time I would start by writing layout HTML tags and monkeying with style sheet, full indenting to finish the initial site so I can began posting my "amazing content." As it turns out, building a website from scratch is a painfully tedious and time consuming endeavor when you have zero web design training. All my previous attempts were doomed to fail.

Today while checking my email Google recommended that I try their "blogger" product. I figured it's time to give this website thing another shot. All posting content with minimal formatting frustration.

Purpose of Blog: Primary, to share my interest and ideas with the general public. Have a blog is also a good way for me to work on my writing skills on a regular basis.  

Declaimer: I apologize for whatever grammatical and spelling errors that exist in this post and anywhere else in my blog. Currently, I'm dong all my own proof reading and I'm not very good at it. Feel free to email or message me any mistakes and I'll to my best to fix them as soon as possible.