Monthly Archives: July 2012

PbP 4e D&D now An Actual Possibility

I’ve been looking for software that does exactly this for a while:

An intuitive, detailed map-making program that works right in your web browser and allows export to jpg and png. It’s got a built-in grid for D&D goodness, and – although I haven’t tried it – a “scene-builder” designed specifically for PbP games.

I’m so pleased! PbP 4e D&D is now a possibility! 😀

I mean, it was before, but what with my workplace blocking all known image-hosting sites and Google Docs, my ‘post-from-work’ habit would have been untenable.

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Further Fatescape/Shackled City Thought

It occured to me this morning that part of the problem with Jzadirune in the Shackled City is that it exists purely to give the PCs the XP and equipment they’ll need to face the Malachite Hold, where the interesting challenges are – I could have cut it out of the Fatescape version entirely without affecting anything in the greater plot.

Welp, too late now.

I’ve also got an excellent idea for a very-slightly-tongue-in-cheek 4e D&D game, which can join the ridiculous queue of games I would run if I had the time. Inspired by a throwaway comment on RPGnet about “the design space for a ‘dark lord of the storms’ is huge” I find myself driven to create a game where half a dozen dark lords of the storms have chosen the prime material plane for a giant storm-waving contest – to the detriment of the local peasants, of course, and requiring the intervention of low-paragon level heroes.

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More MHR House Rule Thoughts

Well, the Area house rule in my older post didn’t work so well – we’re going back to using Area as written until further notice.

Something else worth paying attention to when starting up a game of MHR is character generation. Without any concrete guidance, you tend to get characters who have a lot of d10s and d12s in their abilities, which I can say from experience leads to very rapid victory in almost anything they attempt: it’s not so much that d10s and d12s roll higher than d8s as that having a d10 or a d12 for your base effect means you only need to land 2-3 hits to take an opponent out.

Digression: It also occurs to me that a complaint I have with the MHR system is that while there are a bajillion ways to engage in and defend yourself from physical stress, inflicting mental stress is limited to Mind Control as an offensive power and mystic/psychic resistance as a defence. It’s an easy fix, thanks to the descriptive nature of the game – just make sure people know they can add things like Superhuman Willpower d10 to their power sets if it’s appropriate – it just annoys me a bit that the game offers options for non-violent problem resolution but then doesn’t support that as a choice.

Anyway, character generation. There are several point-based systems floating about, but I don’t really want that; part of what makes MHR work is that you can put Daredevil up against (or next to) Thor and not worry too much about their absolute power levels – whoever has the greatest narrative weight is likely to get their way, which is exactly how comic books work. So instead, here are some guidelines I’ve just pulled out of thin air:

Affiliations: As usual. d10/d8/d6 allocated as you see fit.

Distinctions: As usual. Three things you like.

Power Sets: The biggest differentiator in terms of raw power in MHR is whether someone has one or two power sets*, because extra dice are king of getting your way. So take two. If your concept only lends itself to one, throw in Multipower or Versatile as an SFX so you can multiply your dice.

Then write down the various powers each set covers. Whatever seems right. The real trick comes in assigning die sizes:

  • If the power just offers you access to something that normal people can’t do – usually some form of Enhanced Sense that covers normally-unsensable phenomena – it’s a d6.
  • If you have the power, it’s a d8.
  • If you’re really good at the power, or it’s a strong focus of what the character does, it’s a d10.
  • If you’re one of the top five most powerful users of your power in the world, it’s a d12.

d12s among characters should be rare, with most powers clocking in at d8s and d10s.

Any given power set should have 2-3 SFX and at least one Limit. Having 4 SFX is acceptable if the concept requires it, and up to 5 is acceptable if you’ve only got one power set (although one of those should be Multipower or Versatile, as noted above).

Having more Limits doesn’t really change things much, and as far as I can tell neither does having no Limit at all on a power set – all it’s really doing is depriving you of PP. If in doubt, slap Limit: Exhaustion on there and move on.

Specialties: Like with powers, people love to make their characters Masters of everything. As a general rule of thumb: if your character is notably good at something, they’re an Expert (d8). If they’re one of the top five in the world, they’re a Master (d10).

If a character only has one power set, be more generous with the specialties. They’re going to need the extra dice they can get by splitting specialties down, which means they’re going to need correspondingly huger specialty dice.

* Assuming you’re not using the house rule which says “take two dice from your power sets in any combination” instead of “take one dice from each power set”.

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Fatescape Under Way

Well, the first session in my new Fatescape test game was last night: it didn’t go too badly, all told, although there are a few places where the mechanics need shoring up. I’ve gone with The Shackled City as the module I’m going to run for them.

Translating the dungeon crawls into FATE is tricky, since I’m caught between several conflicting objectives:

  • Presenting the players with meaningful choices between routes through the dungeon.
  • Making sure key scenes get played out.
  • Cutting out as much of the pointless rubbish as possible.

The problem I’ve found is that if I cut all the pointless stuff and focus only on the key scenes, the dungeons become entirely linear. A lot of the meaningful choices in D&D seem to spring not from ‘do I go from A to B or A to C?’ but rather from ‘do I go from A to B via route X or route Y?’

I’m not sure yet how to convert that into FATE terms. The player choice of route from scene to scene should have consequences… hmm. I think there’s something in that, somewhere. I’m thinking some sort of flowchart-based dungeon design, where you map out which paths lead to and from which scenes (since in a site-based dungeon scenes and locations cross over to a great extent) and just make notes regarding the pros and cons of each path.

Yes, I’ll try that for the dungeons in Chapters 2 and 3. The second part of Chapter 1 offers enough interesting choices on its own that I don’t think it needs embellishment, but the following dungeons could do with some brevity.

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