Thursday, October 30, 2014

If you have already started drinking the 5th edition cool-aid and want some more flavors, check out my friend's blog

My friend (and Estarion player) Rich Howard has been busy playing with 5th edition and developing some materials for the game.

First of all, Rich studied Marine Biology many moons ago in Santa Cruz, which grew out of his love of the ocean and unhealthy fascination with Aquaman. Well, maybe not obsession. But he like Aquaman before it was cool. Because it will totally be cool some day. In fact, in my game he is playing a cleric of Poseidon named Arturius Courius. Because we like a good comic book in-joke. The upshot of this is that he has created a series of aquatic builds for PC classes and races:
 He also has some monstrous races built out as PC options:
 I present all of these to boost some awareness of cool things a friend is doing and to just share some of the general sense of DIY vibe that I think can come out of the new rules.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

AD&D Derroes roughly adapted to 5th edition....

Another experiment in 5th edition design. This time, at least, I crack open the Monster Manual II rather than the Fiend Folio. The Derroes, while they seem to be too much like the Duergar, are actually a major reference to Richard Sharpe Shaver's insane conspiracy rantings. I needed to come up with something menacing in my game, and the weirdness of the Shaver Mystery seemed like a good way to sneak in some weirdly menacing creatures conspiring against and experimenting on humanity into the campaign to fill in an element of a character's background he left open for me to fill.

Some statements from the MMII about the derroes:
The derro are a degenerate race of dwarf-like stature, possibly a cross between evil humans and dwarves. They inhabit the great subterranean realms common to drow and their ilk (kuo-toans, mind flayers, troglodytes, etc.). Although the derro hate light and suffer from nausea in sunlight, they venture out upon the surface of the earth at night through secret shaft openings to steal and kidnap humans for slaves. Rumor says that some humans are actually eaten as well....
The derroes are said to have a major stronghold somewhere deep beneath the ground, and there their savants plot and scheme to devastate the upper world and enslave all mankind.... They speak a language of their own, some Common, and know the trade vernacular of the underground world.
Derroes are very much like humans, only shorter and slightly more muscular in proportion to their height. Their features tend towards grossness. Their hair is pale tan or yellow, their skin is very white with a bluish undertone, and their eyes are very large. (p. 42)
I see them as terrible secretive and inscrutable sociopaths with a desire to torture, experiment, and dominate. Shaver said his dero meant "detrimental robots", though they weren't robots in the common sense that they were actual machines, but that they lacked any sort of real humanity.

Derro
Medium humanoid, chaotic evil
Armor Class: 15 (Studded leather)
Hit Points: 33 (6d8+6)
Speed: 30ft
STR 10 (+0), DEX 16 (+3), CON 14 (+2), INT 14 (+2), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 8 (-1)
Skills:  Perception +5, Stealth +6
Senses: Darkvision 120 feet, passive perception 15
Languages: Undercommon, limited common, Derro

Sunlight Sensitivity: While in sunlight, the derro has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Magic Resistance: Derro have advantage to saves vs. spells and magical effects.

Actions
  • Repeating Crossbow: ranged weapon attack +6, range 30/120 feet, one target. Hit 1d4 plus save (CON DC 11) or 2d6 poison damage. 10 shot magazine.
  • Hook Fauchard: melee weapon attack +6, one target. Hit 1d4+3 plus save (DEX DC 11) or knocked prone.
  • Dagger: melee weapon attack +6, one target. Hit 1d4+3 plus save (CON DC 11) or 2d6 poison damage.

Derro Savant
Medium humanoid, chaotic evil
Armor Class: 15 (Studded leather)
Hit Points: 33 (6d8+6)
Spd: 30ft
STR 10 (+0), DEX 16 (+3), CON 14 (+2), INT 16 (+3), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 8 (-1)
Skills:  Arcana +6, Investigation +6, Medicine +5, Perception +5, Stealth +6
Senses: Darkvision 120 feet, passive perception 15
Languages: Undercommon, limited common, Derro

Sunlight Sensitivity: While in sunlight, the derro has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Magic Resistance: Derro have advantage to saves vs. spells and magical effects.

Spellcasting: The Derro Savant is a 9th level spellcaster, Its spell casting ability is Intelligence (spell DC 14, spell attacks +6). The savant has the following spells prepared:
  • Cantrips (at will):  Blade Ward, Mage Hand,  Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation
  • 1st level (4 slots): Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Witch Bolt
  • 2nd level (3 slots): Phantasmal Force, Suggestion
  • 3rd level (3 slots): Blink, Fear
  • 4th level (3 slots): Dimension Door, Phantasmal Killer
  • 5th level (1 slot): Modify Memory
Actions
  • Dagger: melee weapon attack +6, one target. Hit 1d4+3 plus save (CON DC 11) or 2d6 poison damage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Estarion, Game 3

  • Arturius, Carver, and Jarret take a short rest in an abandoned hovel; Sharin volunteers to lead the bad guys away from the group as a decoy (mostly because Thad was not available to play). 
  • In the meantime, Regga and Meadow, whose players weren't available last week, return after a brief interrogation by Ugly Malik, a high-level enforcer for Amon Sahid, one of the city's crime lords. Sahid wanted information on Regga's investigations into the rat cult on behalf of the Beggar King.
  • After being released by Ugly Malik, Regga and Meadow go looking for Arturius, and end up finding the fuller's they were investingating now a buzzing hornet's nest. They note three parties of cultists leaving the headquarters: two hunting through the neighborhood for the intruders into their base, the last escorting prisoners.
  • Regga and Meadow stumble onto the hovel that Arturius, Carver and Jarret are hiding in and manage to pick off a rat acolyte, conveniently creating a distraction to draw a dozen cultists, an acolyte, and a half dozen giant rat "hounds" after them, and into the territory of the Night Masks, the criminal gang of Downwind.
  • The heroes manage to heroically run away, regrouping in the Temple of the Olympians. After weighing their options (tracking a hard to identify merchant, scouting out the fuller's, or searching the sewers), the characters went down the path of searching the sewers to find the rat cult lair.
  • After some research and guesswork the heroes found the lair of the rat cults, a simple flop house which doesn't fool the players at all. After ambushing a cultist, trying to interrogate him, then killing him when he wouldn't break, Regga leaves him a note that makes it look like the Night Masks are out to attack the cult.
  • The heroes decide to attack from the sewers. After more surgical attacks on a smaller number of foes, they liberate six prisoners from the cultists. The cultists seem to be transforming into something fishy — Arturius finds they seem to be turning into sahuagin — and then go on to brutally beat down the remaining cultists. 
  • When they search the cultists' lair, the heroes find a list of Aquilan names:
    • Herminia Cassius (Wife of the Otho Cassius, Imperial Physician)
    • Lucanus Valens (Chief of palace guard)
    • Marcellus Nonus (Runs an asylum)
    • Nevius Albanus (Imperial Master of Keys)
    • Tatiana Scaevola (Owns a high class brothel within the city)
    • Vitus Pontius (Merchant who supplies the Imperial kitchens)
  • Regga follows up with the Beggar King, who warns Regga not to get too close to conflicts he may start between the Night Masks and the cultists and to that he should be nervous that Amon Sahid is keeping tabs on the Beggar King and Regga.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Estarion, game 2.

Meadow and Regga go missing. Arturius  recruits some new muscle: grim hermit/scholar/wizard Jarret Helfiker, twin-scimitar wielding druid Sharin, and berserk axe-wielding hobo with memory loss Carver and goes looking for intelligence at the fuller’s that they had as a lead from the first game.

After some inept espionage at the fuller’s, Sharin and Carver go undercover working as laborers and, after being sized up as potential kidnap victims, they manage to be too obvious and make it clear that they are surveilling the place looking for rat cultists.

After the botched surveillance, the heroes head out after a day of labor and come in to bust in at night, clambering down the stairs and into an ambush. Unprepared and too eager to move forward, the heroes become pincushions under fire from multiple crossbowmen. Jarret goes down, is healed back up; Arturius and Carver go down; and Sharin stays up at just 1 hit point. Jarret spends his time picking off bad guys from cover until they move to regroup, then he and Sharin flee with the unconscious colleagues. They end up fleeing and hiding in a nearby shack, hoping to hide until they can recover and regroup.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The John Wick movie posters are confusing the hell out of me

I keep seeing movie posters for the upcoming film "John Wick" starring Keanu Reeves. This confuses me to no end, and I had to look it up because I thought it very unlikely that a major studio was backing a biopic about a game designer, even if they were a big fan of Legend of the Five Rings and 7th Sea.