Tag Archives: 4e

Epic beginnings

Emboldened by handing in my scenario work for approval with the publisher recently, I’m deciding where to go next. I think I’ll go right to the other end of the normal adventure spectrum.

I love the 4e cosmology, and the Astral Sea treatment in particular. WotC really never got behind epic tier play, not really, and there’s no chance at all now. So, confident my stuff won’t tread on any toes, or get superseded, I’m going to write in this space.

Tonight, a close read of the book, with notebook in hand. I will let the ideas drip feed out and see what makes sense in the morning.



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A new initiative

I tried out a new way of dealing with initiative in last nights 4e game. I took it from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Everyone rolls as normal. The highest goes first, as normal. At the end of their go they pass the play to another combatant, friend or foe. This continues until everyone has had a go and then a new round begins. No new roll, it just keeps getting passed round.

This brings up a new layer of tactical play, and actually a new level of narrative as well. If the players all get greedy and just pass the play to each other, leaving the monsters to go last, then the monsters will pass back to themselves in round 2 and basically get two full rounds of actions. Heh.

Instead, you can set up some cool teamwork. In the source material this is where Colossus and Wolverine team up on the Fastball special. In 4e it’s a battle, with shouted commands and exhortations back and forth.

As DM I enjoyed not having to maintain the initiative list. The players appeared to enjoy the higher level of engagement needed as they could be on deck at any moment. Reservations? There are plenty of feats and abilities that key off the normal initiative system (see Rogues) and they might have to adjust more than others.

Overall? Yeah. I think it worked. I would do it again.

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Now I have a machine gun

Quick question about modern firearms in your (d20) gaming. How have you seen automatic fire handled? I want an option that is reasonably balanced against single shot, or a grenade, or any other standard action. I’m guessing it should represent a decreased chance to hit (?) but increased damage. The balance could be in the ammo usage, which again I want a nice elegant mechanic for.

First thought, reskin the rangers twin strike exploit. Second thought, go with a triple strike idea but have it cost a standard and a move action? Third thought, have Auto as a keyword on equipment.

What have past d20 based games done to pull it off?


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This year I plan to write a game. I’ve never managed to get beyond the daydream phase in the past but this year I’m feeling confident. Confident enough to publically commit!

The idea came from me assembling my favourite parts of gaming and seeing what those jigsaw pieces looked like as a whole. This is different to the normal way of having an idea and then building a game around that.

I like: skirmish rules, cinematic physics, heroism, mission based adventures, all the dice, Minis and kit, combat, party based play, martial powers.

The answer was obvious. Use the 4e system and World War Two as the setting.


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4e as a skirmish game

Last night we played a one off special for the holiday season. Instead of our normal 4e campaign we played out some skirmishes between monster war bands. It was a nice change of pace, and the guys seemed to enjoy it. Here’s how it worked.

I cracked open the Compendium and looked up all monsters from levels 1 to 3 in the Monster Vault. From there I picked out 500 xp worth of loosely themed monsters. I also had a look at Threats to Nentir Vale and did the same. (I went with these books on the basis that I knew I’d have the correct tokens for them, you could easily go to other books depending on your minis resources). A bit of cut and paste later and I had eight war bands ready to go. These are exactly like generating an encounter, using similar guidelines.

The players grabbed some tiles (we used Icewind Dale tiles for the snowy scenes) and set up the war bands ready to fight. And that was it! Really simple, and I think we needed to think about two rules call all night (could a monster use a healing surge? What damage would a healing surge count as against a monster?) both easily answered. (no, and a quarter of hit points)

It was interesting to see my players running monsters, and actually getting really involved with the narrative that emerged from the interaction of powers and systems. We had a white dragon pulled down into the snow by zombies. That same dragon froze and then shattered a water elemental. And loads more.

We all voted to give it another run out soon. We’ll go for more points (probably 1000 xp, with anything from heroic allowed) and we can prepare some elaborate battlegrounds in advance. It’s low maintenance, beer and chips D&D and I recommend it.

Makes me wonder though, the new official skirmish game is in play test now, and it’s in production next year. What will it do that we didn’t get from our amateur version last night?

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Bring the editions together

An idea has struck me. Editions mean trouble, no matter how good they are, they cannot help but be devisive. However, a single edition cannot possibly appeal to all styles.

There’s lots of debate about the direction a 5e should take, and everyone has an opinion. What if we could have a new way of dealing with it?

This is counterintuitive, but how about a supplement to the current edition, that makes 4e a more rules light, OSR friendly game?

It might include chapters on playing grid less, about condensing conditions, speedier combat etc. Basically solid guidelines on all the usual suspects that clog up the forums. This would work as an option for 4e players, to be ignored if they want. For others, it would have to be inclusive enough to allow folk to use it to play *without* having to pick up the Essentials books (which might be bad for business), a standalone game. Gamma World gets very close to this.

When you take away a lot of the crunch, and look at the heart of 4e, you actually have quite a light system. Using that as a springboard for the other sorts of play styles people want seems to me like a reasonable plan, one that doesn’t add fuel to the edition fires.

Or am I being naive?

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This is the BEST setting idea I’ve seen in ages…

I’m blatantly cutting and pasting this from Pete Whalley’s thread on RPGnet. I often find myself agreeing with Pete and this one has really got me thinking.

“So given that I’m in the mood for some D&D, but not really feeling the traditional Tolkien stuff nor sword & sorcery that I tend towards, I’ve hit on a new and cunning plan.

I’m going to take the Great Maze map from DeadLands and call it a D&D world. It’s the new world, there’s a gold rush on and given that nothing interesting has happened in the old world for about a century, everyone with a sword and a spellbook has hopped on a ship and headed out west.

There’s monsters- from the D&D classics through to the DeadLands coolness of desert rattlers, maze dragons and wendigo. Natives run the gamut from decent folk to cannibal savage, and there are plenty of weird wilderness spots and occasional ruins left over from some olde civilization that has a lot of bat motifs that the natives don’t like to talk about. (Mostly because I keep smiling when Tori Berquist posts and I see that Camazotz the Bat God title).

There’s pirates, slavers, cults and corrupt businessfolk all looking for a piece of the pie, and decent folk looking to make a new life for themselves.

And adventurers tend to find themselves in high noon swordfights/spell duels as the gunslinger ethos of the wild west and the duelling kung fu masters of cinema just seem to have set up shop in my head and I want that shit in D&D.

So that’s it. The new world awaits, there’s adventures to be had and all I’m intending to do is unleash my players on the map and see what happens. It should be awesome.”

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with Deadlands. I’ve bought it in at least three rules incarnations, and tried running it at least twice too. Much as I want it to work I can never quite get it right. I’ve come round to thinking its because it doesn’t have a party dynamic that I can work with. Yes, there’s specialist classes, but actually I miss the whole fighter/cleric/wizard/rogue paradigm. So this idea has got me thinking, swords and sorcery wild west. Yes. Good.

For critters, I’m looking to Dark Sun to help me out. I probably won’t go back to a pure DS game any time soon, so this gets me more mileage from previous purchases. All it needs is a little reskinning and we’re off.


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