Saturday, October 31, 2009

The latest purchase from my FLGS, pt.7

After the disappointment I felt towards Damnation View, the most recent sourcebook of the CthulhuTech game, my enthusiasm for future releases was greatly diminished. Happily, I didn't give up on the game because I am pleased with the new book, Mortal Remains. The new release is much more like a traditional sourcebook than Damnation View. It has tons of useful information and crunchy goodness. By far, the best part is the large section on all things Migou. There are new mechs, new weapons, new magic and rules for creating Migou characters for people who really want an intense role-playing experience. There is also lots of interesting fluff on Migou life, history and motivations. All told, there are about 45 pages dedicated to the Migou. This is good, since the rest of the book, which contains large, fluffy sections on the New Earth Government and the Nazzadi, is pretty weak. Oddly, the adventures which made up the bulk of Damnation View, are almost completely absent in Mortal Remains. Only about ten pages at the back of the book are dedicated to adventure hooks and there are no full adventures at all.


OT: Halloween was less busy than past years, as one would expect because of the swine flu. We tried a couple of times to get our yard apes vaccinated, but the queues were just too damned long. This whole vaccination program has been a massive clusterf*ck!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What am I reading? Gardens of the Moon

I've been seeing Erikson's books in the stores for years and most seem to have pretty cool looking covers. I was over at a friends house a week ago and we were talking books. Gardens of the moon was one that caught my attention and he mentioned that he'd never been able to finish it, although he got about 80% through it. Well I did get through it and here what I have to say about it.

This is a very ambitious novel. It doesn't take long to see what the author has planned. He sets up 5 or 6 different plots and then runs them into each other at high speeds for an explosive finale. This is both good and bad. A good element is that it builds great tension. After a while you can see how the plots are going to come together but how its going to end is anyone's guess.

There are however, a lot of things wrong with this though some of it can be blamed on the authors style. Each plot have several main characters, many of which are somewhat similar to each other making tracking what's going on very difficult.

Another fault of the author is that he explains very little. There is a ton of history and background for this setting and very little of it is explained. The magic system is rather unique and very complicated.

I kept wondering if it really was the first in the series. It felt more like a third or fourth book where the setting, background and any unique features to it had already been explained.

This book is over flowing with cool ideas but organized in a way that makes many of the incomprehensible and meaningless. New characters keep getting introduced before you've managed to get the current ones straight. The characters are interesting but there are too many of them. They often have diametrically opposed goals and its hard to figure out who to cheer for.

I liked most of the mundane characters and their mundane plot lines. I can follow the bits about revenge, love and duty. Where I got lost is when he starts talking about magic, gods, soul shifted insane puppets, and ancient monsters.

Overall, I have to say I'm disappointed. After a huge buildup parts of the climax failed to deliver. Too much of the book didn't work for me and unless someone comes along and tells me its gets better I'm not sure I will continue with the series. I liked the war theme but there was just too much left unexplained for me to continue.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The latest purchase from my FLGS, pt.6

Today is my birthday, a characteristic I evidently share with James "Grognardia" Maliszewski (although I am 4 years older). It is unlikely JM reads this blog (or is even aware of it), but if you are reading James, Happy Birthday! Anyway, as if on cue, the much-awaited Pathfinder Bestiary arrived at my FLGS this very day. Grasping a handful of shekels generously provided by my family for this very purpose, I headed downtown and bought myself a copy. The Pathfinder Bestiary delivers everything we've come to expect from Paizo. The artwork is, for the most part, top-rate and in some cases, truly outstanding. All the important monsters are presented, except for the well-known non-OGL creations like the beholder and the mind flayer. There are some surprises. Some monsters have undergone significant changes in appearance (the troll being the most significant) or design (the ogre mage is now an oni, a type of outsider). There are also a few new monsters. One in particular had me picking my jaw up off the floor, that being the SHOGGOTH! Holy crap! An iconic Cthulhu Mythos monster is in there. My first question is, "How did that happen?" Chaosium is notoriously protective of its rights to the Mythos. Did this just slip past or is it indicative of some sort of arrangement that may allow future Mythos entries into the Pathfinder campaign setting? You cannot imagine my excitement if it turns out to be the latter.

I do have a couple of minor complaints. There is precious little in there on playing monstrous races such as gnolls as PCs. This is certainly something that can be adapted from D&D 3.5, but it does some odd that the designers don't seem to feel this is a priority for players. The other obvious omission is advancement guidelines for monsters. Again, this is easily adapted from 3.5, but I don't understand the reason for leaving it out. Still, despite these minor issues, the Pathfinder Bestiary is excellent. Go out and buy it.


One more thing, the medusa is hotter than the succubus. That just ain't right. Also, dryads apparently now wear Prada.

Edit: Upon further reading, I see that monster advancement rules are to be found in the appendices and they seem pretty similar to those in D&D 3.5.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nooo. Not THAC0

So I tossed out the idea of running a PbP to my gaming buddies a couple weeks ago. Something to fill up the 13 or so days between our regular play sessions. Originally I had an idea of what I was going to do but as I started to plan it out and looked through some of my resources I decided on something a bit different.

Anywho, I planned to run it with the Pathfinder rules. With no battle mat nor miniatures, combat was going to be somewhat subjective to my whims as DM. Rognar suggested that I might look into something more rules lite like Labyrinth Lord or any of the other first edition clones.

I like free so I downloaded a copy of Labyrinth Lord and looked through it. It was very much like my much beloved Red and Blue boxed sets from so long ago. With a bit of work I could run the PbP with these rules.

Now the point of this post is that possibly changing the rules has got me thinking how it would change the game. The initial plot hook wouldn't change. Since the path to the "dungeon" was going to be largely role playing based, I don't see this part changing much either. The biggest change I can see is some of the cool encounters I had been dreaming up. With no grapple rules, one of my custom beasties won't be nearly as scary (although I think I can still make it work). With no skill rules, I am going to have put more thought into how the PCs can overcome certain obstacles that they are almost assuredly going to encounter.

I don't think the NPCs will change drastically. Sure the stat blocks would have little in common but since I haven't created any of them yet no loss there.

It would be interesting to run a 1st edition game. It has probably almost 20 years since I have. Who knows, with fewer rules and systems to deal with it might even improve the PbP experience.

I have just realized that THAC0 is a second edition term but the mechanic would still work in first edition so I am leaving the post title alone.

Kobold Quarterly, it's no Dragon

I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with Dragon magazine since the early 80s. I would subscribe for a couple of years, let my subscription lapse, forget about it for a few years, then notice a glossy new issue at my FLGS and re-subscribe. I held a subscription when WotC pulled the license from Paizo and went digital. That's when we parted company for good. I don't like to read stuff online and I wasn't switching to 4e anyway, so Dragon had nothing more to offer me. I still like a little light gaming read when I'm in the bathroom or lying in bed late at night, so I picked up Kobold Quarterly 10 last week to give it a look. It's certainly not as colourful or well-illustrated as Dragon and being a quarterly, rather than a monthly publication means it would never be able to satisfy all my light reading needs, but I felt I'd give it a try. Sadly, I found, upon perusal, that KQ is trying to be all things to all people. It covers D&D 3.x and 4 as well as Pathfinder. From what I can tell, the decision to include 4e is a recent one and not a very popular one either. Given that WotC already has a house organ for 4e, I can understand 3.x fans would be upset that KQ has decided to include articles for the new edition. In any case, I gave them a try, but I have no desire to pay for 4e content. Kobold Quarterly will not become my new Dragon.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eclipse Phase chargen - third stage

As noted in the previous post, Ravel is sleeved in an Exalt morph. Basically, he is a genetically-modified human. His morph gives him +5 COG as well as +5 in three other aptitudes chosen by the player. I will increase his SAV, REF and COO by +5 each. All skills based on the improved aptitudes are also increased by +5. As an aside, it is helpful to keep track of what aptitude and skill bonuses you received from your morph, since at a later time you may be resleeved into another morph which may provide different bonuses.

Ravel has a total of 270 Rep points (50 for free, 220 purchased with CPs) to divide up among his reputation networks. He divides them up as follows:

Hypercorps (c-Rep) 80
Autonomists (@-Rep) 80
Firewall (i-Rep) 80
Criminal (g-Rep) 30

At this point, all that remains is to purchase equipment, including upgrades to the morph.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Eclipse Phase chargen - second stage

Characters get 1000 customization points (CPs) to spend on skills and other character aspects, such as morph, starting wealth and reputation. A minimum of 400 must be spent on active skills and 300 on knowledge skills, but I will spend 500 on active skills. Skills can be bought up at a cost of 1 CP per point up to 60 and 2 CP per point from 61 to 80 (the starting maximum). The base level for each skill is the relevent aptitude plus any bonuses derived from background and morph. So, from the list of active skills, 500 CPs buys the following:

Networking: Hypercorps 70
Networking: Autonomists 60
Networking: Firewall 60
Networking: Criminals 40
Persuasion 70
Infosec 65
Infiltration 65
Interfacing 60
Pilot: groundcraft 40
Fray 45
Perception 80
Freefall 30
Freerunning 30
Investigation 70
Protocol 30
Beam weapons 30
Kinetic weapons 30

From this, you can see Ravel places a high priority on interpersonal skills. In particular, his networking and persuasion skills are quite impressive. He's also quite skilled at dealing with information systems and computer security and is a very perceptive person. On the other hand, his combat skills are not impressive, so he tends to keep his head down when the bullets start flying.

From the list of knowledge skills, the following:

Language: English 85 (native speaker)
Language: Mandarin 70
Language: Russian 50
Art: writing 50
Academics: computer science 60
Academics: cryptography 50
Academics: psychology 60
Academics: mathematics 45
Profession: security ops 50

Ravel is a native English-speaker, although his Mandarin is nearly flawless and he's quite fluent in Russian. He also has a background in several fields related to his professional competencies and he dabbles in a bit of creative writing from time to time.

I spend the remaining 200 CPs as follows:

Exalt (30 CPs)

Positive Traits:
Adaptability (20 CPs)
Fast Learner (10 CPs)
First Impression (10 CPs)
Situational Awareness (10 CPs)

220 Rep points (22 CPs)

5 Moxie points (75 CPs)

23,000 credits (23 CPs)


Eclipse Phase chargen - first stage

Character generation in Eclipse Phase is no trivial undertaking, so it is fortunate that character death is rarely permanent. Throwing together a character on the fly is simply not an option. I decided to share my first chargen experience to illustrate the process.

The character's name is Ravel Pasternak, he is a spy working on behalf of Extropian interests in a Hypercorp city-state on Mars. He is also an agent of Firewall.

The first step is selection of a background. I have chosen to make Ravel a native-born Martian. This gives him a +10 Pilot: Groundcraft, +20 Networking: Hypercorps and +10 to any technical, academic or profession skill. I chose Infosec. As stated previously, Ravel serves the Extropian faction, which gives +10 Persuasion, +10 Networking: Hypercorps and +10 Networking: Autonomists.

The next step, I have 105 points to divide up among 7 aptitudes, which are cognition (COG), coordination (COO), intuition (INT), reflexes (REF), savvy (SAV), somatics (SOM) and willpower (WIL). The default for each is 15 points, but Ravel is involved in information gathering, so he needs an edge in interpersonal skills and information technology. I make his SAV and COG 20 each. As a trade off, I drop his COO and REF by 5 each. He's not quite as naturally agile and dextrous as the average transhuman, but he will be able to compensate with his skill selection and benefits derived from his morph.

My base aptitude scores are: COG 20, COO 10, INT 15, REF 10, SAV 20, SOM 15, WIL 15.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Rippin' on Warhammer 40k, pt.2

With the recent release of Rogue Trader RPG by Fantasy Flight Games, it's appropriate that Zack and Steve should turn their attention to the original Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So, what's on your iPod?, pt.4

The late 70s/early 80s was a very influential time for me. My life-long tabletop rpg addiction began then, as did my love for British metal. Bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead still dominate my music collection. The thing was, back then everyone liked those bands. That's why I had a special place in my heart for Saxon. It wouldn't be fair to say nobody was listening to Saxon back then, but among my circle of friends and acquaintances, I was the only one who really knew the band. So, I was especially saddened when Saxon started to decline in the mid-80s. Like with rpgs, golden age cool was giving way to silver age suck, eventually giving us grunge and "storytelling" games (my apologies to Nirvana and/or White Wolf fans but I'm old, so get off my lawn). Imagine my sheer, untarnished joy when Saxon came out with a truly great album in 2007! The Inner Sanctum is a return to the awesome sound of early Brit metal and to my youth.


Yo, West End Games, what up?

The glorious resurrection of West End Games was the talk of the gaming world a few months ago. They had a shiny new product called Septimus, even including softcover print copies for sale at GenCon. They had a new business model, the Opend6 project. They started releasing old d6 products as free pdf downloads. It seems now, however, all that momentum has melted away. If you want a dead tree copy of Septimus, you have to order one of the softcover copies left over from GenCon, since the hardcover version intended for retail still hasn't shipped. The Opend6 website still hasn't been activated and some of the d6 products intended to be released for free have not yet been made available.

Regarding Septimus, it is a game setting that fills the same niche as Eclipse Phase by Catalyst Game Labs (an awesome game with an awesome setting) and Fadings Suns by RedBrick and Holistic Design (a mediocre game with an awesome setting) as well as games like CthulhuTech, Dark Heresy and Traveller to a lesser extent. Suffice to say, there is some stiff competition out there. WEG can't afford to be perceived as a fly-by-night operation.

Oh, one more thing. Please WEG, do something about the website. Your average cat blog looks better.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Gaming makes you think

I am simultaneously working on the perfect combination of options to build a potent fighting mage and pondering how technology will impact human evolution in the future (yeah, slow day at work). What other hobby demands such mental flexibility? Be proud, brothers!


Random Thoughts on Transhumanism

I recently bought a dead tree copy of Eclipse Phase and it has gotten me to thinking about the future more than any game purchase I've ever made. The basic premise of the game is the concept of transhumanism, the use of technology to advance the human mind and body. In the game, the mind (called the "ego") is decoupled from the body. The ego can be stored, uploaded and transmitted at will. The body is little more than a mobile storage device. If the body dies, it can be replaced. The body doesn't even have to be flesh and bone, it can be robotic. It can even be a nanoswarm. This concept raises a lot of questions about identity and social constructs. It is just a game, of course, so certain assumptions are made for the sake of playability, but it is thought-provoking.

One thing I have been pondering is the question of sanity. How would a human mind deal with being "resleeved" (the game term for being downloaded into a new body or "morph") into a synthetic body? Would it drive that mind insane? Is it even possible for a consciousness stored in a synthetic matrix to be afflicted by mental disorders? After all, brain chemistry is often at the root of most mental disorders. How would an ego perceive the world differently in a digital versus an organic form? I guess the designers of synthetic brains would have to recreate the human brain to a very high level, even to the point of producing electronic analogs of serotonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals that affect how the mind perceives the world.

Speaking of perception, what about human senses? Do all humans perceive a particular shade of blue the same way? Presumably, we could measure the frequency of the electrical impulses moving along the optic nerve when a person is looking at a particular colour and then reproduce it in a synthetic system, but do all human minds interpret that particular frequency the same way? Does it even matter, as long as the frequency is the same? What about more exotic morphs such as nanoswarms? It's hard to imagine being able to recreate human sensory input in such a radically different physical form.


Still more on the "Gish"

Derobane-bane offered up quite a comment to my most recent post on this subject (perhaps it should have been a new post). I will endeavor to address some of his points. First of all, there is this:

I'm not sure if one could make a 'gish' as effective (in terms of game combat mechanics)as Vendalin in Pathfinder. 3.5 was pretty easy to manipulate with all the extra sources out there. Still, I'm sure that one could make a PC that is almost as awesome as a fighter and spellcaster of equal level, given enough time and thought.

There is something to consider about Pathfinder that is different from D&D 3.5 which tends to work in favour of the gish concept at the expense of straight up melee classes and that is the relative availability of magic items for purchase. In Pathfinder, the maximum value of items available for purchase in a metropolis is 16,000 gp. That is equivalent to a +4 armour bonus before adding in the cost of the armour itself. Therefore, high-level fighters will have to find their magic weapons and armour in the treasure hoards of defeated foes or cajole their spellcasting comrades to make them. For this reason, I think the fighter with the +5 full plate, +5 heavy shield, +5 ring of protection and +5 amulet of natural armour is probably a thing of the past. So, the difference in AC between a gish and a fighter of equal level will probably not be as great. Of course, the fighter will still have a ton of hps, but he also has that low Will save and as we all know, smart opponents will always try to charm or dominate the enemy meat shield.

Another issue in gish creation is which sort of arcane spellcaster to chose. I have gone with sorcerer for one main reason, the bloodline benefits. Abyssal and Draconic bloodlines both provide some very useful benefits for a melee fighter. I chose Abyssal mainly because the bonus spells at lower level were more appealing, especially bull's strength, rage and stoneskin. At higher levels, the Draconic bloodline gives you the various form of the dragon spells, but getting there basically means you have to go with the sorcerer class all the way (in which case, you aren't really a gish).

The main drawback of choosing sorcerer is that there are effectively no dump stats. First of all, you need Cha since your spellcasting is based on it. Some of your bloodline bennies also use Cha. Of course, you need Str, Con and Dex for their combat benefits. That leaves Int (which you need for the Spellcraft skill to make magic items) and Wis (for Will saves). Int probably comes closest to being a dump stat in this case, but you will soon find yourself wishing it was at least 10. A wizard could choose Cha as his dump stat, but as handy as that might be, it doesn't come close to counterbalancing bloodline benefits. Sorcerer is the way to go.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wheel of Time Bah!!!

Well this was going to be a victory post celebrating the release of book 12 to the Wheel of time finally bringing to end the highly enjoyable but extremely bloated series the Robert Jordan started about 20 years ago and that I've been reading and rereading for almost as long.

As I was perusing Amazon I saw that the book was finally going to be released October 27th but a bit more searching has turned up only disappointment. The actual release date is November 3rd which is not big deal. My real issue is that its not really book 12 - the end. Apparently book 12 is so bloated (no surprise considering the insane amount of story arcs that need to be resolved) that it has been split into three parts. So its not really a 12 part series if book twelve is 3 parts long is it?

So it will be another 2 years before the ghost writer finishes the final book(s).

Anyway, here's a quick review of the different books in the series.

Book 1: Great book. The ending is a bit of a head scratcher but the rest of the book is so good I didn't care. Many people are critical of the way he writes the female characters but I didn't have any issues with it.

Book2: One of the best in the series.

Book3: Not one of my favorites but still very good.

Book4: Most people that I talk to agree this is the best book in the series. It's a bit odd in that it ignores most of the main characters and really only focuses on a single story arc.

Book5: Second only to Book4 in terms of greatness. The ending presents one of the greatest mysteries in the series. At least it's my favorite to debate. This book starts to show the problems that will ruin the series as it progresses. The number of separate story lines is beginning to reach the point where they are difficult to keep straight.

Book6: The last of the "good" books. While I still really liked this book most poeple agree that this is the last book where enough stuff happens. From this point on there are too many storylines and each one fails to progress significantly.

Books7-10: The are the stinkers. While the writing is still enjoyable its a very fair criticism to say that almost nothing happens in each book. And when each book clocks in at over 1000 pages that's saying a lot. You can probably read the first and last chapters of each book and not miss anything significant (they are usually 100 pages long each).

Book11: after years of nothing book 11 finally started to show that there was some hope for the series. Jordan actually began to advance the main plot lines and wrap some of the lesser story lines up. Then he died.

Book12: I do have hope. Jordan created a great story that collapsed under its own bulk. I'm hoping the ghost writer Brandon Sanderson can do a good job of piecing Jordan's notes together and ending this thing in a satisfactory way. Everyone already knows how its going to end, what we aren't sure is how we get there.

As an aside, the reason I was on Amazon is that I was looking at getting Glen Cook's Black Company series. Any of you guys have it, recommend it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Star Wars Saga Ed., end in sight?

Notice this list of release dates for the Star Wars Saga Ed. supplements:

The Force Unleashed - Sept.,08
Scum and Villainy - Nov.,08
The Clone Wars - Jan.,09
Legacy Era - March,09
Jedi Academy Training Manual - May,09
Rebellion Era - July,09
Galaxy at War - Sept.,09

This is the list of currently planned future supplements:

Scavenger's Guide to Droids - Nov.,09
Galaxy of Intrigue - Jan.,10
The Unknown Regions - Apr.,10

What is that I see next spring? A three-month break in the release schedule which has been consistantly bimonthly. The declining crunch-to-fluff ratio combined with an upcoming hiccup in the release schedule leads me to conclude that game has run its course in the current form. All signs point to a new edition of the Star Wars RPG in 2010.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

More thoughts on the "Gish"

In my opinion, the key to building a gish in D&D 3.5/Pathfinder is to concentrate on creating a melee fighter. There are three basic approaches, creating a range combatant, a melee combatant or a balanced fighter-mage similar to the old elf class from Basic D&D. I think most people would agree the last option is the worst since it fails to generate any synergy between the two classes, in effect, creating a lousy fighter and an ineffective spellcaster in one character.

The ranged combatant approach is not bad, especially if the character concentrates on using ray spells. The fighter has several feats that can be applied to ray attacks, including weapon focus, improved critical and point blank shot. Also, the increased BAB is always handy even if most of the attacks are ranged touch. Having said that, the loss of a couple of caster levels to gain a modest increase in BAB and a couple of useful feats is not really that great of a trade-off. I would say the result would be quite inferior to a warmage.

So, how about the melee fighter? Well, obviously a gish is going to be less effective as a front-line combatant than a pure fighter or even a ranger or paladin. However, with the right choice of spells and feats, it can certainly hold its own. You really want to get rid of your arcane spell failure as much as possible, so arcane armour training and arcane armour mastery are essential, especially when combined with mithral armour. Oh, pretty, pretty mithral. Another sweet little feat is arcane strike, just an extra little bonus to your damage since you won't be able to dedicate as many points to Str as you might like.

On the spell side, the gish is going to want to stack up the buffing and defensive spells; bull's strength, bear's endurance, shield, heroism, alter self, rage and stoneskin are all great choices. A few offensive ranged spells are also a must, but since you will be down a couple of caster levels and also won't have many feat slots available for metamagic or spell penetration, you will want to take ones that either don't have saving throws or are not affected by spell resistance.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Building my Pathfinder "Gish"

I am striving to build the perfect Pathfinder "gish" (fighter-mage) and I have concluded that a combination of sorcerer with an abyssal bloodline and eldritch knight PrC provides the most bang for the buck. The real question is when to switch to EK and forgo the remaining bloodline benefits of the sorcerer. Specifically, do I go for the 9th level bennies or not? Here is my build with two different advancement paths. Opinions are welcome.

1. sorcerer 1 - abyssal bloodline, eschew materials, toughness, arcane strike, claws (1d4), CL 1, BAB +0
2. sorcerer 2 - CL 2, BAB +1
3. sorcerer 3 - weapon focus (spear), electricity resistance 5, +2 save v. poison, bloodline spell (cause fear) CL 3, BAB +1
4. sorcerer 4 - CL 4, BAB +2
5. sorcerer 5 - craft magic arms and armour, claws (magic v. DR), bloodline spell (bull's strength), CL 5, BAB +2
6. sorcerer 5/fighter 1 - arcane armour training, CL 5, BAB +3
7. sorcerer 6/fighter 1 - combat casting, CL 6, BAB +4
8. sorcerer 7/fighter 1 - great fortitude, claws (1d6), bloodline spell (rage), CL 7, BAB +4

1st advancement path
9. sorcerer 8/fighter 1 - arcane armour mastery, CL 8, BAB +5
10.sorcerer 9/fighter 1 - +2 Str, electricity resistance 10, +4 save v. poison, bloodline spell (stoneskin), CL 9, BAB +5
11.sorcerer 9/fighter 1/EK 1 - improved initiative, quicken spell, CL 9, BAB +6/+1
12.sorcerer 9/fighter 1/EK 2 - CL 10, BAB +7/+2
13.sorcerer 9/fighter 1/EK 3 - weapon specialization (spear), CL 11, BAB +8/+3
14.sorcerer 9/fighter 1/EK 4 - CL 12, BAB +9/+4
15.sorcerer 9/fighter 1/EK 5 - improved critical (spear), critical focus, CL 13, BAB +10/+5

2nd advancement path
9. sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 1 - arcane armour mastery, improved initiative, CL 7, BAB +5
10.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 2 - CL 8, BAB +6/+1
11.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 3 - weapon specialization (spear), CL 9, BAB +7/+2
12.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 4 - CL 10, BAB +8/+3
13.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 5 - improved critical (spear), critical focus, CL 11, BAB +9/+4
14.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 6 - CL 12, BAB +10/+5
15.sorcerer 7/fighter 1/EK 7 - greater weapon focus (spear), CL 13, BAB +11/+6

Clearly, at 10th level, the first path is superior with the Str bonus, the improved resistances, the higher CL and the bonus spell balanced only by a higher BAB and improved initiative in the second path. However, at higher levels, the combat feats start coming earlier in the second path. I am just not sure which option I like better.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thoughts on XPs

Character advancement is a very abstract concept in games like D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, as opposed to, say Call of Cthulhu and other Chaosium games which use the Basic Role-Playing (BRP) system. In the latter, if you use a skill successfully, you have a chance to improve it (although it is not automatic and becomes more difficult as you get more skilled). If you don't use a particular skill in an adventure, it cannot be improved. This feels more realistic. The "XPs and levels" approach of D&D could never be adapted to such a character advancement philosophy, but I think it could be done better. In older versions of D&D, you got XPs for treasure. It didn't matter how you got the treasure, be it from killing monsters, picking pockets or even taxing your serfs. Treasure was treasure and it was all worth XPs. Now, when you get right down to it, accumulated treasure is a purer measure of character success than monstrous bodycount. After all, it takes into account eveything your character does. If a bard spends the week entertaining at the local inn or if a wizard makes a few potions and trades them for some rare spell components, do these activities not warrant some experience? Such a system would also encourage players to take skills which might earn them some coin during the downtime between adventures. The gps earned might not entice them, but combined with XPs as well and suddenly taking a few ranks in Profession (woodcutter) looks a lot more interesting.


Rippin' on AD&D, pt.6

After wasting the whole month of September ripping on Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game by White Wolf, possibly the most obscure RPG ever published by a major company, Zack and Steve are funny again. Check out their take on the classic module, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.