Showing posts with label 4e. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4e. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Class Struggles: The BECMI Prestige Classes

A slightly different sort of Class Struggles today.
Yesterday I reviewed the Companion Set Rules.  Within those rules some new "sub-classes" or "traveling classes" were introduced.  Let me summarize here.

Druids are Neutral clerics of 9th level or greater dedicated to the cause of Nature. They are non-land owning and not devoted to another lord or cause.
Knight a Neutral (or any alignment) traveling fighter, that is a non-land owning fighter. Must swear fealty to a royal ruler.
Paladin a Lawful traveling fighter who swears fealty to a Lawful church.
Avenger a Chaotic traveling fighter who swears allegiance to a Chaotic church.

There are others, such as Guildmasters and Magists, but those four are the focus of my attention this week.


Looking over the rules I can't help but think of how much these resemble what would be known as a Prestige Class in 3.x D&D.  In fact let's make a direct comparison between the Avenger and the Blackguard, an evil fighter prestige class.

According to the d20 SRD for 3.0 a Blackguard must meet the following requirements.  I am putting D&D BECMI equivalent translations in brackets [].
Alignment: Any evil.  [chaotic]
Base Attack Bonus: +6. [at least 6th level]
Skills: Hide 5 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 2 ranks. [again at least 6th level with some knowledge of religion so high wisdom is good]
Feats: Cleave, Improved Sunder, Power Attack. [knows some combat maneuvers]
Special: The character must have made peaceful contact with an evil outsider who was summoned by him or someone else.  [makes allegiances to an evil religion.]

Given the systems, the Blackguard is pretty much the same as an Avenger.
Back in the 3.x days, there was even a Paladin Prestige Class that you had to be a fighter or a cleric to qualify for.  It made a lot of sense to me.


So a Knight, Paladin, and the Avenger can all be seen rather easily seen as BECMI Prestige Classes.
In 3e, Prestige Classes were designed to be open to any class, but some were easier to get into if you started in the right class. Some were limited to class, but not "on paper" so a Prestige Class limited only to clerics could say "must be able to cast divine spells" or "ability to turn undead."  Yeah, it was sneaky, but a fighter could take a level of cleric and be able to get in.

So I am thinking that in BECMI prestige classes would have to be "Base Class" specific.
What do I mean by "Base Class?" Well, these are your Cleric, Fighter, Magi-User, and Theif classes.
In D&D 3.x a difference is made between a Base Class and a Prestige Class.   Why would I even care?  Well, looking at classes in this light gives me a ton of new options.  For starters it allows me to be able to add classes to my BECMI games and not add the bloat of an extra set of class rules.  It also allows me to explore all sorts of other options for a class.
It also allows me to have these new classes, often treated like a multi-class or dual-class without the need for a bunch of messing with double noting of XP rewards.

There are other examples.
The book GAZ3: Principalities of Glantri covers the Seven Secret Crafts of Magic in Glantri.  Each one of these could be seen as Magic-user specific prestige classes.  The Master's set introduced the Shaman and Wokani classes.  Not to mention all the various "witch-like" classes I have covered from other BECMI books.  I am sure there are more to be honest with you, I just have not had the chance to dig them all up yet.

BECMI Prestige Classes

How then can you use the 3.x Prestige Classes, or for that matter 2nd ed. Kits, 4e Paragon Paths or 5e sub-classes, in BECMI?  Simple find classes that work for you first.

So I am going to start up a BECMI campaign and I know that one of my sons is going to want to play an assassin and the other will want to play a ranger.

Both classes are in AD&D and in most versions of the game.   How can I bring them in?

Well, the simple solution is to import the class wholesale, but I guess at that point why not just play AD&D?  I want something that is more Basic-feeling.  I would need to add some more details, but here are some ideas.

Acrobat
A thief that steals not for profit or personal gain but instead for the thrills and even the challenge could become an Acrobat.  These thieves can be Neutral and even some Lawful.  I would follow the guidelines in the Unearthed Arcana.

Assassin
This class was removed from AD&D 2nd Ed and absent in D&D 3e as a base class.  It does exist as a 3e Prestige Class and a 5e Sub-class. In the case of 3e the fastest way in is to start out as a Rogue.  In 5e you have to be a Rogue first.  The 5e SRD only lists one sub-class or archetype, the Thief.
The BECMI Assassin starts out as a Thief but at some point becomes an assassin.  I am going to say 8th or 9th level, and they would need to be Chaotic. They can use poison, but a limited number of weapons, armor, and no shields.

Illusionist
These are Magic-users that focus completely on Illusion Magic. They have their own spell lists like the druid does.  They do not build their own towers but are often entertainer magicians for courts and other notables of power.

Ranger
These are fighters that are dedicated to nature, much like the druid, and focus on a particular enemy.
They cannot become Lords or Ladies, but instead, have a small stronghold.  Fighters of 9th level or higher may become rangers.

These ideas can be easily extended.

Necromancers
Have their own spell list. Do not build towers but may take over any ruins. Command undead.  The existence of Illusionists and Necromancers could also imply other schools of magic like AD&D 2nd Speciality wizards.  I suppose I could just import those. Other options are like the School of Magic in Glantri.

Bards
Oh man, these guys in AD&D are a mess.  But I would steal a page from 2nd Ed and make them Thief-like and have them improve their fighting skills a little and give them some druid magic.  OR go the Celtic route and make them part of the Cleric class.  Still thinking on this one.

Looking at 3.x a few jump out right away.  In addition to the Blackguard and the Assassin, I can easily see adapting the Arcane Archer for elves and the Dwarven Delver for Dwarves.



There can be many, many more.  With five other editions of *D&D to choose from there is no end to what could be done. 

Now I am sure some people might complain about "class bloat" and that is a fair argument.  I think keeping to the base four (or base five if you count my witch) then adding the other Prestige Classes on an as-needed basis. 

Or, even closer to the spirit of the rules, add these as "role-playing guides" only.  I mean really what is to stop a player from saying "my elf is an arcane archer!" and make the choice to only use a bow?  Maybe the DM and the group can decide that this elf can add +1 to hits with their bow due to their dedication.  Simple fix and no new rules added!

Make some use out of that multitude of books I own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

BECMI: Other Versions and Homages

I don't think it is a stretch of the imagination to say that the BECMI Basic box is the Red Box that most people remember. Indeed, when you say "Red Box" this is the set that most people think of.

A large part of this is due to the number of units sold. It has been claimed that this was the best selling version of D&D at least up to the modern age of 5e.   It was certainly one of the most widely distributed versions of D&D up to that date.

International

While I have seen French, German, Japanese, and more versions of this set, it was the one printed in England I wanted the most.


Reading this one is a neat little exercise in "what if."

What would this set have been like if it was a single volume?

The Japanese versions also looked great.


The French version seems closest to the American one.


Norway had a single volume version too, but their's appears to have been a hardcover.


Although I must admit I have always wanted the German version.  If I had known it had existed back then I would have grabbed it.  Sadly my German is terrible these days. Don't use it you lose it.


And some great pictures of Javier Murillo's Spanish editions.




In fact, Javier Murillo appears to be the leading expert on these foreign language editions.





There is an entire listing of the printed foreign editions at the Acaeum.

That is quite a legacy of print.
It should be no surprise then that the cover was often imitated.

Inspiration

Maybe more so than the AD&D Player's Handbook (or very close) no other version of D&D has inspired the look of other sets.  In fact, it has become its own shorthand to nostalgia.  Want to tap into those nostalgia dollars?  Make your box red.



Of course, nothing irritates the old-school crowd more than when this is used for a game they don't like.



and of course the D&D Cartoon,


a puzzle, again from Javier Murillo,



and the early "skin" for DnDClassics.com, which now points to DMsGuild.com,



Not to mention a bunch of t-shirts.




That's an awful lot of red.

Now certainly someone in the old-school gaming community will say something stupid like "sacrilege!" or some other nonsense, allow me to remind you what TSR was doing themselves back in the day.






Thursday, January 9, 2020

Review: Brimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms Novel

Back in 2011 Dungeons & Dragons 4e Essentials was out and Wizards of Coast was putting it's full efforts behind it.  To help expand on their 4e and Neverwinter properties WotC turned to relatively new author Erin M. Evans to turn in a tale about tieflings and warlocks, two of 4e's more popular additions.

The result of her efforts was the first novel in the "Brimstone Angels" series, also titled Brimstone Angels.  The six-book series spanned two editions of the D&D game (4th and 5th) and help define what tieflings, warlocks, Dragonborn and even devils, succubi,  and Asmodeus himself.  But it all started with a tiefling girl named Farideh with mismatched eyes and her twin sister Havilar.

Farideh is a tiefling and since publication, she has become something of a poster girl for tiefling warlocks. But that is getting way ahead of myself.  Farideh and Havilar were abandoned outside of the walls of their village, they are adopted by a Dragonborn warrior (who has a past) Mehen.  Mehen is a good father to the two girls, although no amount of warrior training prepares him for raising teenage girls, especially tieflings and teens at that.  In the Forgotten Realms tieflings are new and twin tieflings are considered to be a bad omen.  That soon enough comes true as Havilar finds an old book and attempts to summon an imp.  Farideh has to jump in, she is more familiar with magic, and the girls soon realize they have bitten off far more than they can deal with.  They summon the cambion, Lorcan, the half-human and half-devil of the Invidiah, the leader of the Enriyes.   To send him off Farideh agrees to a pact with him and becomes his warlock.

Summoning the devil has other consequences, including burning down their home and getting them kicked out of their village of refugees (Arush Vayem).  They then go on an adventure where Evans treats us to a *new* Forgotten Realms.  I say new because unlike other Realms books where you can play spot the Extra Special Guest Star, this is a trip of normal folk, or in this case, three unknowns that happen to be a Dragonborn and his two adopted tiefling daughters.  Evans plays the family dynamics expertly.  Mehen obviously loves and worries about his girls.  Havilar is closer to his sensibilities having picked up the glaive and become and fighter like her father,  but it is Farideh that has him the most worried.

In addition to that dynamic, there is the Farideh-Lorcan relationship which gives us the best "Will they or Won't they" dynamic since Maddie and David (Moonlighting) or Ross and Rachel (Friends).  I won't spoil it, but I will say I am very satisfied with it.   Evans knows how to write characters, she would be fantastic in a game.

All this time there is a great story and impending apocalypse that could change the face of the Realms and a prophecy about the Brimstone Angels that will change the politics of Hell itself.  So no small stakes here, so no small feat for the first book.

The background story is great and a ton of fun, but truthfully it is the characters that will make you want to read the next in the series.  Lorcan is devilishly fantastic, Havilar just wants to beat things, Mehen wants to keep his family safe and Farideh is caught between them all.

As "gamer fiction" the book does a great job of explaining some of the quirks of 4e. Such as why are succubi devils now? Why did erinyes change? What happened to Hag Countess of Hell? Why is Asmodeus a greater god now?  What is the deal with Rohini? Well, not all these questions are answered right away, but they are dealt with.

What I loved about this book, other than the characters, of course, was that you didn't need a ton of Realms knowledge to enjoy it.  But in truth none of that matters, there is enough of Farideh, Lorcan, and Havilar to enjoy.    It is also a good introduction to the Forgotten Realms if you are like me and ignored the Realms for the last few decades.

It's a great start to a great series.

Legacy

Brimstone Angels was the first of six books that spanned from 2011 to 2016, and like I said, two editions of Dungeons & Dragons (4e and 5e).  The books had a huge effect on the direction of the game at least in terms of how warlocks could be played.

One needs to look no further than the Player's Handbooks for both editions to see the effects.


There in the Dragonborn names are Mehen, Farideh, and Havilar. 
There are other cases where text from the books, in particular interactions between Farideh and Lorcan, are used to flavor text next to the warlock entries. 

As I go through the other books I will try to remain spoiler-free, but apologies if an odd one slips by.

Links
https://smile.amazon.com/Brimstone-Angels-Forgotten-Neverwinter-Paperback/dp/B014S2IWTQ
https://dnd.wizards.com/products/fiction/novels/brimstone-angels
https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Brimstone_Angels
http://slushlush.com/
https://www.facebook.com/brimstoneangels/

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Return to the Nentir Vale

I am on Spring Break now.  Yeah, that is still a thing here in the Brannan Household.
Got back into my Into the Nentir Vale which I am setting in the Forgotten Realms.

I am doing the second part of H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth, The Well of Demons.  Throughout the course of today's adventure, the characters discover that more gods than they knew have been killed.  They are are a little disturbed.


Now I am really messing around with the Faerûn gods and history here, so bear with me.  They learned today that Bhaal the God of Murder is dead and likely killed by Baphomet.  They already knew that Mykrul was dead, but unknown who did it. They will soon learn that Moander was killed by Zuggtmoy in her attempt to open the Temple of Elemental Evil. Other gods that are dead are Azuth, Amaunater, Bane, and Leira.  There might be more.  Shit is getting serious in the Realms.

This campaign is my attempt to revive my abandoned 4e game.  My attempt to make some use of all my 4e books.


It's actually been a lot of fun.  I even worked out a quick method of converting any 4e stat to 5e.   Typically any 4e number (level, HD, hp) can become a 5e number by multiplied by 2/3rds. It's worked out to be pretty close to what I see in 5e.

I am keeping track of experience points, but I use the 5e Milestone advancement for this.  Each of the published 4e adventures (HPE, 9 in total) the characters level up one level halfway through and then one level again at the end of the adventure.  So 18 levels all together.  I am doing this to keep the levels from going crazy. I can hear people now complaining that characters need to earn their levels, but trust me they are getting far more experience points.

Really it has been a blast and I can't wait to do some more. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Featured Artist: Claudio Pozas

I got the chance to meet today's Featured Artist when he put out a notice for commissions.  Once I answered him and I got the details over to him I remembered where I had seen his work before.
Claudio Pozas has done some great work for Wizards of the Coast for both 4e and 5e.



Getting a commission of my witch Larina gives her a certain air of authenticity in the D&D 5 art style.

Here is Claudio in his own words,
Claudio is a fantasy illustrator from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A gamer since 1987, Claudio worked in Advertising before switching careers to pursue his art, which he has been doing for almost 20 years. He did art and design for D&D 4th edition, and has been illustrating D&D 5th Edition since its launch in 2013.
He has done some really excellent work.







You can find Claudio Pozas on the internet here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Come Endless Darkness: Adventures in Coggle

The day is getting away from me. So my post for today will have to wait.   I am playing around with a new tool today at work.  Thought I might try it as a way to map out all my D&D 5 campaigns and games.



The tool is called Coggle and it used for multi-user mind-maps and flow charts.

You can click here to see the public version.

I'll add the characters then hyper-link everything to the proper resource (DriveThru, DMsGuild, D&D Beyond).  Build it up as I go.  It's a nice organizational tool and a way for me to keep track of various items, especially characters. Had a player lose his character sheet so we recreated what we knew but said he lost all of his equipment and magic items.

I can see a lot of uses for this.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Plays Well With Others: Making 5e Bloodied

Yesterday I talked about how my Nentir Vale/Demon Slayers 5e game is a reboot of my 4e game and I will be adding more 4e elements to it.

Today I spent some time with D&D 4e Essentials to see what I could glean from that.



I know a lot of people had problems with 4e.  I was not one of those people.  I liked 4e and really wanted to give it more time.

5e is so flexible that there is so much you can do to it and it won't break the system.  4e was a very tight game, so tight that pulling out one piece had some serious impacts.

I am hoping that this will not break 5e; I doubt it will.

Bloodied in 5e
When a creature or character is reduced to half their HP or less (rounding down) they are bloodied.  This can trigger a number of actions.  I want to mix as much 4e and 5e as I can here.

Characters
These are taken from Dungeons & Dragons Player Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

Dragonborn
When you are bloodied you may invoke your Dragonborn Fury.  You gain a +1 racial bonus to attack rolls.

Half-Orc
When you are bloodied during an encounter you may invoke your Half-Orc Resilience.  The first time you are bloodied during an encounter you gain temporary hp equal to your Proficiency Bonus + your Constitution modifier.

Tieflings
Bloodhunt: You gain a +1 racial advantage on attack rolls against bloodied targets.

Monsters
All of these creatures (for the most part) come from Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Monster Vault.

Aboleth Overseer
Psychic Slime (standard; recharges when first bloodied)

Angel
Angelic Presence: When not bloodied attacks against the angel are at Disadvantage.

Beholder
Death Ray (necrotic):  If the target is bloodied before or after the attack, it is also dazed (save ends).

Blood Fiend
The blood fiend gains combat advantage against any living bloodied enemy.

Bulette
When bloodied the creature burrows underground and uses it's Second Wind.

Demon, Babu
Bite: The target also takes ongoing 5 acid damage, or ongoing 10 acid damage if the babau is bloodied (save ends).

Demon, Hezrou
Noxious Stench: Any enemy that makes an attack while in the aura takes 10 poison damage, or 20 poison damage while the hezrou is bloodied.

Demon, Marilith
Weapon Dance (melee): Recharge when first bloodied. Can attack again.

Demon, Vrock
Spores of Madness: DC 20 Wisdom Save to enemies within 5'.  On a failed save 3d10+6 Poison damage and the target is dazed.  Successful save, half damage.

Demon, Balor
Flaming Body: Normally aura is 2 squares or 10 feet. When bloodied it expands to 3 squares/15 feet.  Any enemy that starts its turn in the aura takes 10 fire damage, or 20 fire damage while the balor is bloodied.

Devil, Kyton
Chains of Vengeance: The devil can attack with it's chains twice.

Dragon (all)
Bloodied Breath: When first bloodied the dragon can recharge and use it's breath weapon.
When Bloodied a Dragon can critical on 18-20.

Drake, Rage
When bloodied the rage drake has Advantage on attacks.

Eye of Flame
Fiery Burst (when first bloodied and again when the eye of flame is reduced to 0 hit points) Close burst 2; DC 20 Dexterity save; 2d8 + 6 fire damage.

Gnoll
Blood Frenzied: The gnoll adds their Proficiency bonus to damage to all melee attacks when bloodied.

Golem, Flesh
When bloodied the golem can make a slam attack at Advantage.

Hag
When bloodied make one additional claw attack.

Lizard Folk
Additional tail sweep attack (1d6) when first bloodied.

Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Attack advantage on bloodied targets.
Proficiency bonus added to damage when bloodied.

Ochre Jelly 
When bloodied the creature splits into two creatures, each with hit points equal to one-half its
current hit points. Effects on the original ochre jelly do not apply to the second one.
(this is in addition to the split described in the 5e MM).

Owlbear
Stunning Screech: When bloodied the owlbear will Screech (close blast, 15'). DC 15 Constitution save or be stunned.

Vampire
The vampire takes damage while bloodied they become insubstantial and gains fly speed 60'. The vampire cannot attack or use cloud of bats. This effect lasts for 1 hour or until the vampire ends it as a minor action.
The vampire has combat Advantage on bloodied targets.

I am not sure how all of these will work out.  In many cases, the monsters are now more deadly.  I might need to compensate with a bonus of 5 to 10 XP.

If it works well my son has offered to do more of these for me.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Father's Day Weekend Gaming

Had a fairly packed weekend game wise.

Friday was our local Public Library sale.  Sometimes we can find some gems, but this time all we found was this book on potions.


Saturday was Free RPG Day.  We all went and got some books.  Of course, we still ended up buying a bunch of stuff too.



Sunday, Father's Day, we went back to the Nentir Vale to finish off the Blood Reavers.  The Demon Slayers found some more clues and are headed to the Well of Demons now.



We want to add more 4e feel to this game.  Just like our Order of the Platinum Dragon 5e game is more "old school" in feel and the Second Campaign has more of a 3e feel.


I have some Encounter Cards I want to use and I'd love to work "Bloodied" into our combats.  I think that might be fun.  Using some 4e stats the monsters are much tougher and these characters are already having more issues than their other 5e counterparts.

For reasons too various to name, our gnome druid, Dimbel Timbers, has adopted this has his theme song:


Every character should have a theme song.
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