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Thursday, September 18, 2014

#DnD in #MtGKtK: Adventuring in #Tarkir! (BONUS: Ainok as a PC race!)

Well, finally after the intellectual injury that I felt during the #Theros period, a new Magic expansion comes. (To add offense to injury, I even liked Theros' art and mechanics, making me even more mad about the flavor...).
Khans of Tarkir looks like it will become one of those expansions that catch me completely, like #Innistrad or #Zendikar (although nothing can beat Zendikar for me, really).

What are some good bullet points about Tarkir as a D&D setting?

  • The land is wild and dangerous but includes some civilization in many different forms.
    This is particulary good because it offers variety in playstyles. You could have dungeon crawls in the bowels of the #Sultai decadent cities, intirgue on their surface, wild adventures throughout #Temur and #Mardu territories, with Mardu offering a cool militaristic/nomad background and Temur focusing more on primal aspects. #Abzan organized cities would be good for crime and politics adventures, while #Jeskai monasteries could house arcane weirdness of all kinds.
  • Each clan has multiple focuses, allowing for different types of characters in it.
    The Sultai (my favorite) are about necromancy, opulence, assassination, intrigue, and even world domination.
    The Abzan are about law and order, with a focus on defense and passive isolationism.
    The Temur are the go-to clan for primal forces, druidic magic, beasts and the wild in general, but also have a good bit of martial prowess in them.
    The Mardu are the typical "horde" clan, the icon of the setting if you wish, with "raiding" being the standard form of living, but with some dark magic (especially concealment) in it as well.
    The Jeskai are the most "enlightened" clan, with monks being prominent, but also wizards and a pursuit of knowledge and perfection in general.
  • There are a few nice peculiarities about magic in Tarkir.
    The "morphs" are basically just concealed creatures or things that fight with some kind of elemental or purely arcane force power. There are artifacts and spells to look what these morph "clouds" conceal, and it's a form of magic available to all clans, something connected with the world itself maybe, worth exploring in D&D even as a new mechanic.
  • Dragons are apparently absent, but at the same time their presence is felt.
    The spirit dragon Ugin is trapped somehow here in its homeland (although he was prominent in Zendikar, so it must be or have been a planeswalker), and Sarkhan Vol is a dracomancer. The spirits of dragons may be the basis of elemental/primal magic in Tarkir, and some dragons may still be alive, trapped in hybernation beneath the ices that they indirectly brought after their last war (some sort of nuclear winter!).
  • A guide to the setting: Part 1 (Intro, Abzan, Jeskai, Sultai) and Part 2 (Mardu, Temur, Planeswalkers)
    There is even mention of locations and prominent NPCs. I'd say it makes for a nearly ready-to-play world!
  • Quite a few interesting races!
    The new tage on naga, the brand new Ainok that come in canine or ursine variants, the extremely original take on djinn and efreet... There is really plenty of races to choose for Tarkir characters!
  • There are strong connections with Zendikar!!
    This is not really an advantage of Tarkir as a D&D setting in general, but for me personally it is that and much more!

Clan Mechanics

I really tried to translate some of the clan mechanics to feats or some other kind of thing, but I must admit that even with my now long experience of translating even the most abstract Magic mechanics into D&D terms, this time I thought it was too much of a stretch. It's really not worthy in my opinion, and subclasses specific to the clans may do a much better job. I might change my mind on special feats, but it would entail changing the original mechanic very much, especially since some of them are just keywords that activate always on the same condition, but never having the same effect. These must change for sure, if they have to be set into feats, while they can retain their variability if set into different subclasses, or variant class features.

All in all, it's really not necessary to convert these signature mechanics, because more than anything they represent the style of the clan, which is already apparent if one builds a character well-inserted/themed in/around the clan.

Races! The Ainok!

Yes, I could not resist!

Ainok Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Size. Canine, desert-dwelling Ainok associated with the Abzan are human-sized or even a tad smaller, while the ursine Ainok of the Temur lands are much bigger, espeically broader.
Subraces. There are two subraces of Ainok: the canine Ainok allied to the Abzan, and the ursine Ainok allied to the Temur. They are very different.

Canine Ainok
Canine Ainoks sometimes resemble hyenas, and are adapted to the desert of the Abzan territories, and the magic art of sandcalling.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.
Survivalist: You are trained in the Survival skill.
Desert Adapted. You have the equivalent of the Natural Explorer Ranger feature focused on deserts and dry steppes. If you are a Ranger, you must select another territory, since the bonuses wouldn't stack.
Sandcalling Adept. You can conjure sand to make lightly obscured an area of 10 feet per 10 within a range of 30 feet. The effect lasts until the end of your next turn. You can do so a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier. You regain all expended uses after a long rest. At 5th level, you can instead make the area heavily obscured.

Ursine Ainok
Ursine Ainok resemble bears, and are adapted to the cold sub-arctic territories of the Temur clan.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1, and your Constitution score increases by 2.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Cold Adapted. You have Resistance to Cold damage.
Broad Build. You have Advantage on Shoving and Grappling checks and count as Large for the purpose of carrying capacity and the amount of wight you can lit, push, or drag; but you have Disadvantage on attacks and Dexterity ability checks and saves when confined in a 5-feet wide space.

That's all for now folks, please provide your feedback and ideas!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

@criticalhits: Here's my 10 #DnD monsters I always use & 5 I don't!

A tweet-title for this mini-blog-carnival post induced by Critical Hits!
Here is the original post by legendary Dave Chalker: quite an awesome list, especially because it reminded me of the Zaratan (a turtle-island thing!), and made me think of ways I would use it..!

As my few readers might imagine, my list is gonna be a bit counter-intuitive... But let's start with no further ado! (Usually I don't do it when I declare it, but here fortunately there's really no possibility of writing any useful introduction..!)

10 monsters I use in every D&D campaign:

  1. Gargoyles
    The gothic factor is really impossible to ignore, and where the campaign flavor is not really gothic-y, I tend to use their stats for re-flavored variants. In general, having a cool stony decoration taking life is something that makes my adventures... Mine! Ah, there's no way these monsters won't be customized by me with particularly nasty martial prowess and/or divine magic... They're just made for these things!
    (I know the illustration is that of a Malebranche Devil, but that's how my gargoyles look like, when not of stone!)

  2. Faeries (of any kind)
    The Seelie Court and even more so the Unseelie Court are always present, somewhere, in my campaign worlds. And when these beings come into play, strange things happen. For me, fey/faeries equal morality madness: it's an occasion to introduce truly strange and contrasting morals and ethics to the campaign and make the players question themselves both about these critters and themselves! Who's doing right? Who's the bad guy? When tricksters are beautiful or even cute, the lines of these questions are very blurred!
    (The illustration is that of Oona's Blackguard, from MtG: an example of dark faerie flavor!)

  3. Faerie dragons / Pseudodragons / any tiny dragon!
    First of all, obviously, it's a way to add dragons at low levels, and possibly tie them with the faeries. Second, they can be even more annoying than true dragons! A faerie dragon usually has spells and magical abilities that makes it a pain for adventurers to fight (or even ally with), and pseudodragons, with their random "save or sleep" sting are another major threat when in large numbers! Plus, the whole aesthetics of the campaign and/or setting change when these creatures are abundant. It basically means "in this world, common things are a minority"..!
    (Link to illustration: )

  4. Kuo-Toa / Locatah / Sahuagin 
    There MUST be "fishy folk" in my games... No game of mine is complete without a big part of it at least related to underwater adventuring or underwater threats coming out to do some unusual above-water adventuring! Locatah in particular (in the illustration), this forgotten-by-game-designers kin, are my favorite: their very fish-like look makes them the most alien of the three, and thus the most likely to be related to some kind of cult dedicated to, spawned by, or spawning some... ->

  5. Far Realm entities / creatures
    And I'm not speaking Mind Flayers or other D&D classics... I'm speaking pure Lovecraftian horror!! And they MUST be aquatic. Aboleths are in fact among my favorites, and as many of you know, you can base entire story-arcs on them, even in traditional published worlds such as Forgotten Realms.
    The illustration is originally Juiblex, a demon prince. But the fact I found it in a lovecraft fansite to represent a Shoggoth is telling...
    But since we're speaking aquatic unfathomable horrors, I must go epic directly and call forth The Prince: ->

  6. DAGON
    YES. Even if he's supposed to be an incredibly epic level guy, his presence must be felt since low levels in my campaigns. The Prince of Depths incarnates four things that I like and I already cited in previous entires: aquatic, horror, great evil, alien, blurred morality. You would say a demon prince has nothing to do with blurred moralities, but if you go by the most complete D&D lore about him, Dagon is a demon of an older generation compared to "regular ones", even other princes. He's an Obyrith, demons that basically ended up with their universe of origin already, and crawled into this universe before more regular demons even existed, and possibly even spawning them. It screams alternate creation myths and links to the Far Realm. And just as with Aboleths, Krakens, and other related aquatic masterminds, it also calls for a cult of followers, with all that such a thing implies for a D&D setting!

  7. Hobgoblins
    Finally a classic, you'd say! And yes, I like the classic-ness of Hobgoblins, particularly the fact that they're militaristic and, in D&D terms, devil-ish, due to their favored alignments and general motivations. They're cool also because they could constitute the army of another race, and because their possible link with devils might make them connected with Nine Hells-related plots. And from a simple humanoid critter, there goes a planar campaign in the making!

  8. Ghosts
    Everybody has a favorite undead, and I go again for a rather surprising classic in this department. Ghosts can be simply everywhere, and they are basically living (undying, actually) mini-quests for adventurers. Each ghost is a side-trek in the adventure of its own.

  9. Angels
    Again a matter of blurred morality, but nobody can deny that angels can be pretty scary. Especially because when you finally manage to stop their fury (by killing them: they would never surrender), you start wondering a bit too much about who or what you angered in doing so... In the illustration, an angel that appeared in the archive of 4e's Monster Manual illustrations online, but not on the actual manual... Never solved the mystery, and yes, although it's probably a rare case of evil angel, don't think the others were less scary!

  10. NINJAS!
    Broad enough to cite more favorite monsters in one entry, in D&D ninjas can be anything, and in my campaigns this is especially true. There can be desert elf magic ninjas, lizardmen ninjas (Predator love, anyone?), naga ninjas (icing on the cake!), rakshasa ninjas (the revelation/transformation moment is golden, plus these cat-people die easily once revealed!), giant undead mantis ninjas (yes, I did it once), warforged ninjas (can't help thinking about that villain from the first Hellboy movie!) and sometimes even DRAGON NINJAS (Shadow Dragons of course)... The important thing is acting like a ninja. Mixing exotic combat styles to plain assassination-aimed lurking! In the illustration, Ink Eyes, a ratling ninja of the MtG setting of Kamigawa. It's an oriental-flavored example, so not very apt at displaying how many more "typical D&D flavors" exist, but she's my favorite by far!

... And 5 I don't:

  1. Drow
    Perhaps due to many players favoring the race, perhaps because they're too obvious, Drow never figured in my D&D campaigns as enemies, except for one time in which they were reflavored as the dominant civilization in a "real world setting" in which they were basically the civilization of Atlantis. And they looked nothing like true Drow.
  2. Orcs
    Come on... Orcs...
  3. Giants
    I find them mostly uninteresting, with the exception of Fomorians!
  4. Zombies
    Another thrill-killing critter! And I hate zombie movies as well!
  5. Elementals
    At least in their single-element standard variants, they are really boring compared to many other elemental-themed creatures!

Now blog yours!

Let's keep up the hype at least until we're not too busy reading the new Monster Manual!!
It's your turn now!

Monday, August 4, 2014

New #DnD #5e class in the making: the Weaver! - Part 1

D&D 5e is out only through the (incredibly promising) Starter Set as of now, but I couldn't hold myself anymore, I did it again: I created a custom class!

Actually, I haven't created it yet... I have some notes, a stream-of-consciousness-like thread of facebook comments in the D&D Next group, and many ideas in my head. But possibly, here and now the class is going to take the first gaming-terms form for the first time.

First of all, a little intro as I'm used to do.

Why a new class, and why the Weaver

To the first question, usually I wouldn't bother replying, because in my world (real-world sense), with my parameters, there is nearly always space for a new class. However, many people are concerned with this question, probably because they don't have/know fixed parameters to regulate new classes.
To me a new class has to exist when NO other class or even multiclass combination has the mechanical and thematic space to allocate for a given concept. 
Negative examples: 
- A Pirate class? Nonsense: even if the thematical niche is big enough, there is nothing in their way of doing things that couldn't be done with other classes, so it ends up being a Background in D&D 5e terms.
- A Ninja class? Hardly: as a subclass of the Rogue or Monk (boys, it's really coming as the latter!!) every needed mechanic can be represented, so add a specific custom Background to that, and a new Class becomes completely redundant.
- An alternative caster class? Depends: if we're just talking of a new way of dealing with existing spells, you could make a new class mechanics-wise, but thematically it's surely going to step on others, becoming more useful as a simple replacement of slots for an existing class, like it happened during the playtest of D&D 5e for the spell points system.

So, for many people, this would mean there is really no space for new classes. For me, it means you just restricted an endless pool to a still numerous list.

The Weaver is a spellcaster in thematic terms (and even there, with a foot steadily set on "trickster class" territory), but mechanically is a completely new animal, with absolutely no spells in traditional sense.
It draws from many past concepts to ultimately becoming something completely unique and new, and as such, also difficult to explain.
I will start with a quote from my draft of full class write-up, to make the Weaver more of a solid concept: sample characters scenes like in the upcoming D&D 5e Player's Handbook!

A mischievous gnome hops around a minotaur, artfully dodging his axe, and suddenly the expression on the minotaur's taurine roster becomes one of nonsensical amusement, and he starts dancing, carelessly dropping his weapon.
A brooding tiefling runs past the beholder with demonic speed, and the aberration starts emitting unspeakable sounds while it bursts into green flames.
An elf with colorful sparks fluctuating inside her eyes dances intricately as if with an invisible companion, then she abruptly soars in the air and a mighty gale blows from her, hitting hard the imps and dropping them to the floor, tens of feet away.
These magic users are rare gifted individuals who can see and manipulate the weave of magic. As such, they are known to a few scholars of cryptic arcana as Weavers. Their unique way of creating magical effects involves only movement, along invisible and ever-changing leylines that only they can see.

Now, from here the Weaver actually starts looking like a quite familiar concept, and you might think that it actually does step on other classes. But look at a common element among these characters and especially their actions: movement. The Weaver is a movement-based spellcaster. To cast spells he/she actually has to move. However, this is not "its shtick", or its source idea.
Here we go with more specific Weaver info...

Seeing the Weave of Magic and knowing how to use it

This is the underlying concept behind the Weaver. The Weaver does not have an innate source of power, but has an innate supernatural ability to see invisible sources of power all around: the strands, or leylines, of the Weave of Magic. If you prefer to reason in scientific terms, the Weaver has the ability to see in so many spectrums at once, that he/she can even perceive things such as magnetic field lines, electrical fields, and basically every force that could (un)realistically be harnessed.
In fantasy terms, the Weaver is very much tied to the Fey, or better yet to the concept of a parallel invisible world were "magic flows strong". They see these currents and they understood by pure experience that by moving through them, they can produce magical effects.
The tricky thing is that they don't decide where these currents, which we'll call leylines, are or go to. The leylines are influenced by the position in space of living individuals, the Weaver first and foremost, and as such, when the Weaver moves, the leylines are readjusted. But more than anything, they are simply random, and they usually go through, or into, living beings near the Weaver. Whether they are allies or foes.
If you are an experienced D&D player, you already see a lot of mechanics underlying this. And the funny thing is that even with this apparent randomness, especially in the selecting of targets, the Weaver's magical effects are always useful, because they can be used always in two ways: positive or negative. So they can always either help allies, or damage (but mostly hinder) foes. It's just that each turn the Weaver has little control on what of these two he will do, although he can still try to move around, and readjust the leylines to his or her liking (but risking to end the available movement, and thus the available magical effects!)

So this is the general concept in rather gamist terms. It has a lot more theme to it still to be explained, even if I could see already a lot of potential theme in these gaming terms, such as an interaction with the forces of magic unlike any other caster, an innate or acquired special sense to see them, and a surely chaotic tendency, other than little reliance on Intelligence and study, and not much even on true personal power. It's nearly a new take on what personal power is.

The original story of the Weaver and the many possible ones.

I admit that at first the Weaver had a very set-in-stone story/setting element to it. So much so that it could have been "disqualified" by my "new class requirements". In fact, if a class includes a Background, it basically invalidates Backgrounds. But it was pretty easy to overcome this problem. However here goes the original flavor behind the class.

The Weaver was the Spelldancer. A class deeply connected with the Fey. In particular, it had to represent the way fairies do things in Magic: The Gathering. It's incredibly difficult to "port/convert" Magic cards into D&D or even just RPG terms, but it's possible, and with a lot of abstraction, anything can come out, even awesome things. The fairies in MtG are scary because they are fast, and because even if they are "squishy", they can basically run past the opponents that they disable through magic, and defeat the enemy before the big creatures can be effective or sometimes even act. So this was the original idea behind the movement-based spellcasting. As such, the Weaver/Spelldancer was meant to be "the fey caster": the fey version of the Wizard if you wish. As such, however, it covered a really small niche. Some settings don't even have fey altogether. So instead of seeing the fey leylines, I decided that Weaver version 0.2 could actually see the whole Weave of Magic. This makes for a much more general and sub-divisible concept (don't forget every class needs subclasses, in D&D 5e). 

However, the Weaver still has a "main story", and from being a full-on "fey class", it became "a rare type of natural gift that more often appears in fey races", but dealing with energies that are not fey in nature, just purely magical. This can also help explain, in the settings Weavers are present, even if not common, why a fey creature such as a Sprite or Pixie might be very hyperactive movement-wise: it would be their preferred way of creating magical effects.
Being a class common among the fey, the magical effects of the Weaver are still going to bear fey-reminiscing names, but just because they were named by the fey: nothing in their nature is intrinsically fey.
I think this helps convey the original story, without rooting it too much into the class: just rename the magical effects or even just their classification, and you got another flavor. The underlying game-world story of being able to see and manipulate the general Weave of Magic will make the rest: the character would be one of those rare individuals, and could have even named him/her-self the effects that he/she discovered how to produce.

So basically each Weaver can have a unique story, but with a common underline about the source of their power, just as Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks can.

Of Charms and Seasons: the original "spells" of the Weaver

So the "default" idea is to leave a fey-ish tone set into the "spell-list" of the Weaver.
As such, I present to you the table of the Weaver's Charms:

Seasons / Charms of Power - Charms of Hearts - Charms of Making - Charms of Flutter
Winter  /   Charm of Ice       - Charm of Apathy    - Charm of Disappearing - Charm of Borea
Spring  /   Charm of Dawn  - Charm of Empathy  - Charm of Appearing     - Charm of Zephyr
Summer / Charm of Fire     - Charm of Sympathy - Charm of Making         - Charm of Sirocco
Fall      /  Charm of Dusk    - Charm of Antipathy - Charm of Unmaking     - Charm of Mistral

If you noticed a pattern, well... You missed some! Many patterns here, and with many possible implications.

First of all, these are not exactly the bread and butter of apprentice Weavers, at least not in my current idea. The first two levels are going to be those of Minor Charms. A bit like the cantrip versions of Charms, although all Charms are at-will, more on that later. From 3rd level onwards though, you're gonna be able to select 10 Charms. If you notice, 10 among a selection of 16, arranged as a "4x4 matrix", means that you could complete only two "rows" or "columns" of Charms. Which means, only two Seasons or two types of Charms, or one of each. This gives me some room to do something cool with Weavers: making them change based on what Charms they are able to produce. Or even better, leaving it unclear if they are really selecting them, or if they are just unraveling a deeper magical nature within them! Lots of story possibilities.

Again, if you think the names make the flavor too set in stone, you can change a lot. The ones which are perhaps a bit bound are the winds, or Charms of Flutter. In theory, these Charms could optionally make the tactical aspect of the Weaver a bit more complex, adding preferred attack (or buff) "directions". However, I think about leaving this rule optional. And if optional, it could mean they could be renamed in many ways based on their effects. The Borea is a wind that opposes movement. The Zephyr facilitates movement. The Sirocco increases movement, and the Mistral just moves everything. They could be interpreted as (and they are, actually) different ways in which the magical strands of the Weave and its "currents" can affect the physical world, just like the other Charms, but in a more literal/physical way. They are the true forces at work, and I'm even thinking about associating them with areas of effect. One could be cone, one could be line, one could be "burst", and so on.

As you can see, it looks like one Charm by itself would not be very useful, but two or three together might turn into real spells. Well, that's exactly the case. And "two or three" is exactly the number of Charms that a good Weaver could cast in the time a Wizard casts one spell..!

Weaving. Or how to cast 2 or 3 mini-spells to get a full one.

This concept I hadn't touched yet. The Weavers use movement to cast Charms. But they are also very good at movement, and can move in strange ways, when the leylines allow them to. In particular, they are extremely fast when near other living beings, which bend the leylines. This is represented by a simple rule which will say that "circling around" a living being (or more than one, with the progression of levels), only costs half of the base movement, whatever the base movement is. This rule implies they can do so two times, potentially. And these two special movements are the triggers for 2nd and 3rd Charm in a row! The 2nd is actually going to be a Bonus Action. The third is actually going to be a Reaction, so it's gonna come up later in the round, but still necessarily before the start of the Weaver's next turn.
Note that the Charms are meant to be combined, and they work in a "cascade-like" fashion: the 2nd Charm is going to include elements of the 1st, and the 3rd is going to include elements of both 1st and 2nd, becoming the most dangerous or useful, depending on who's the target. 

So yes, Weavers actually do their most awesome thing outside of their turns. The problem is they don't know the target, or not much in advance: the leylines are constantly changing with movements of creatures!

The Leylines: their randomness and their awesomness

Let's go with my proposed mechanic, without much ado:
At the start of your turn, and each time you move at least 5 feet, roll 1d6 to determine the direction of the leylines: 
- 1: The leylines go upwards. (You can still use them using a Charm of Flutter or any other ability to jump at least 10 feet up, or fly.) 
- 2: The leylines pass exactly in between the two nearest living creatures. (You can circle them only if they are separated by no more than 5 feet.) 
- 3: The leylines go through the second nearest creature. (You can circle it.)
- 4: The leylines end into the second nearest creature. (You can circle it, you have Advantage on Charms against it, or it has Disadvantage on Saves against your Charms.)
- 5: The leylines go through the nearest creature. (You can circle it.)
- 6: The leylines end into the nearest creature. (You can circle it, you have Advantage on Charms against it, or it has Disadvantage on Saves against your Charms.)
So basically, from 3 to 6 you will surely be able to do something interesting (that is, casting at least two Charms, if the distances permit it), while 1 and 2 can mean being limited to one Charm, and possibly being better off using weapons, unless you have a Charm of Flutter, roll 1, and use a Charm of Flutter to soar a little, then possibly another one to soar more, and then use a third Charm as a Reaction later, with devastating effects. You will see this is possible only past 5th level, and it's good because it can result basically into a Fireball!

Note that "circling" is still a placeholder name, and it refers to actually circle around a creature. In the upwards leylines it would actually mean circling in the air. I will think of a standard terms to use, maybe, or keep circle just because it's easily understandable.

That's it! I think the table and the possible cases look as simple as I see them, to everyone.

A Weaver's Abilities.

So, for the final part of this part 1, I will talk about the abilities needed by a Weaver. I hope I won't surprise too much anybody who read until here, at this point, if I say Dexterity will be the "spellcasting ability for Weavers". Yes. There is still a bit of uncertainty about the second most important ability. Part of me is prone to making it subclass-decided. And in particular, it should affect the Unarmored Defense, if present (still thinking about it). The most thematically-correct choice would be Charisma, and could even be class-wide, but it would make the class a bit too race-tuned, something I don't like. Wisdom would be very correct under the Unarmored Defense point of view, and the fact the class actually needs to sense the Weave well, but it would make it too Monk-like. So in the end, I think I'm gonna stick with Charisma, and say that the Leylines themselves can basically be a form of defense for a Weaver, and this defense is stronger the more his or her force of personality is strong, because the Leylines would be affected by it. In ways only a Weaver can exploit.

So to wrap up everything, here is an illustration that I hope won't cause wrong judgments by the sexism-conscious crowd, of which I'm part, actually... It's just that it's hard to find good illustrations of spllcasters that look like they are dancing...
Plus, for a Weaver it actually makes sense to have absolutely no armor: movement is everything. And Charisma adds to AC...


Friday, June 20, 2014

Oracle of Nectars from #MtG as inspiration for #13thAge/#DnD character!

My Zendikar 13thAge / D&D conversion is revealing itself a titanic task, and although I deeply enjoy writing for it, sometimes I need a change of pace, and creating a character from a random (and awesome) illustration is exactly the change of pace I need!

We now know that codename D&D Next will simply be called D&D (as easily foreseen), and "5th edition" will be written on the back cover, because they can't lie of course. :)

I'm still under NDA from my Wizards Of The Coast internal playtesting group (have I ever mentioned that?), so I can't use any of the more up to date material. As such, in this indirect comparison between the two RPGs' character creation systems, 13thAge rolls with Advantage, to use a D&D game term... Or D&D with Disadvantage... Or both. You got my point.

So here is the guy I want to represent!

We are clearly seeing, apart from the exaggerated ears and the horns typical of some MtG planes, a light-armored if not unarmored elf, with some kind of spellcasting looking perhaps druidic, perhaps holy, perhaps elemental in nature, and a fine sword. Clearly a Dexterity-focused type, probably also Wisdom. Perfect as a Wood Elf!

Here I go with my D&D Next (last public playtest packet) version!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

#MtG #Faeries as a #13thAge Playable Race!

I couldn't help it once +Adam Minnie gave me the idea, and here's an initial adaption of the Faeries from Magic: The Gathering to the rules of 13th Age!
I think I found an elegant solution to represent the variety and the "tempo mastering" of MtG faeries, although it's so difficult to find equivalent mechanics between such fundamentally different games...

Feedback needed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trying to replicate #MtG Faeries in #dndnext and #13thAge!

Ok so I'm having a LOT of fun with the "Up To Mischief" deck for the soon-to-be-obsolete Duel of The Planeswalkers 2014 (that I play on my Sony Z1 compact... Very small text, not for everyone).

I was sure I was going to love Faeries decks in MtG since I saw some decklists around the web, and this deck, although far less powerful than optimized ones, and surely not as powerful as other decks in the videogame, is a blast to play. And even more than that, the flavor is awesome.

The Faeries work with one another in a very particular way, and are basically "spell-creatures", in that each one of them does something that normally only sorcery or instant spell do, and they do this as instants because they can be summoned off-turn. It's actually easier for me to show you how it is in play, than to tell it, so let me do an example with the actual cards.

  1. Ok, so this random ugly faerie is the basis of the deck. It costs one mana and it flies. There are other creatures this convenient, but not many. Usually fliers cost more. So it's already a nuisance for the enemy to see this on turn one, because it very probably won't have anything to block it with.
    But what it does best is being a buddy to the faerie that comes next...

  2. This awesome lady instead is much more interesting. She has Flash, meaning that she will be summoned off-turn. And she counters ANY enemy spell, provided it costs as much mana as you have faeries. And since it's turn two, the enemy will only have two mana. And you have already one faerie. With this one coming, it already counts as two, so basically you can counter whatever the enemy tries to cast!
    Only problem: she does that as a one shot. Then it's just a common 1/1 flier that will die easily.
    Note that this is true for the whole "army of the faeries": they have great utility and they surprise the enemy coming off-turn, but they are very frail, and will die if you sneeze at them.
    But look what happens when the following girl comes into town...

  3. At turn three, if you have three mana as you should, you can use one to summon this mischievous winged girly. She is mischievous because she doesn't want to enter the scene unless someone else comes out. But guess what, you have a very good reason to kick out the Spellstutter Sprite. After all, she's just coming back to your hand. And you're leaving two mana untapped. That means that right when your enemy will have three mana himself (all of this assumes you play first by the way, paramount importance for Faeries decks). you will be able to summon Spellstutter Sprite again, and counter whatever he or she may cast, again, for the second turn in a row, and using the same creature, and even after that creature had already scored one point of damge. It's not much, but little by little, the enemy is gonna die the death by thousand cuts..!

  4. Ahh this is my personal favorite, especially for the name: Pestermite! It's a true pest, and the enemy will know it! It can tap or untap anything. Use it to untap a land of yours and possibly have mana to cast another faerie (maybe another Spellstutter, which will benefit from another faerie in the battlefied, being able to counter even bigger spells!), or tap a land of the enemy before he or she acts, reducing the available mana for the turn. Or tap a creature that you know will be a problem, such as one that deals a lot of damage or is unblockable. Or use it during your turn to tap the only flyer that the enems might have at this point, thus making your army of faeries damage the enemy without anyone trying to block!
    The Pestermite has tons of uses, and the cool thing of this deck is that you will always find new creative ways of using the creatures.

  5. This guy is visibly and mechanically the bard of the group. He buffs all the other faeries, but the nice thing is that as most of them, he can enter off-turn. So you can lure the enemy into attacking your weak fairies and then bam! Suddenly they're not that weak anymore, and in addition, they gain complete protection from spells or abilities that target them.
    Note that this guy can't affect himself. But if you manage to land TWO Scions, then they're gonna affect each other, and you're gonna have a truly fearsome army!
    However, useful as he may be, he can't reach the coolness levels of the next in the chain of command...

  6. The Archmage of the faeries really gives the impression of being a miniaturized version of a powerful mage: she's not a force to be reckoned with, but she is surprisingly resilient.
    Basically, she can receive any mount of damage, she can die, literally. And she will come back, just at half power.
    And she can exploit this "magic shield" she also visually has around there to use a very romantic ability of sacrificing to counter a spell. Yes, she's basically killing herself, but she also basically has two lives. So you can view her in two ways: either her magical forcefield is one of her lives, and she can lose it either by interposing herself between her allies and any monster or her allies and any spell... Or she can really die and resurrect, at least once, and she can literally sacrifice herself to counter a spell. She's the cutest of the bunch to me, only by virtue of having this ability!

  7. And there she is, the Queen! Oona is an engine of arcane destruction. She messes up with the enemy library of spells directly, not just forcing a discard (which means they could be recoverable in some way) but exiling them, which is a complete erasing from the game. And for each one exiled like this of a chosen color, you summon a pesky faerie rogue.
    You can also do this off-turn (although you can't summon her off turn) to have these new faeries be ready to fight on your next turn. But more often than not, at this point of the battle, you could just "turtle up" in defense, and win by depleting the enemy's library, since if the enemy starts a turn in which he or she can't draw a card, the game is lost!
    Now two more ladies that come up a bit off the list...

  • This faerie is basically a kamikaze, but defensive. She's a living minefield. And the explosions will permanently cripple the enemy. Basically she will never survive an attack, but the enemy, if surviving the two damage, will never heal from the wound and will also lose strength in equal measure! So if a big 4/3 creature is attacking, it will become a much more manageable 2/1 after dealing with the Gatewarden. And as such, she will be blockable by any Scion-enhanced "soldier faerie" (one that I didn't put here), which will be 3/3. Or simply by another kamikaze defense of a worthless Zephyr Sprite..!
    So she's not necessary in the ecosystem, and this is why I wanted to separate her from the true list, but the fact she's basically the personal guard of the Queen could make me think of something RPG-wise...

  • And here's a much more important faerie, and darker too! In fact, she's a blackguard, and she empowers only Rogues. Not only she empowers them, she infuses them with the dark magic necessary to make the enemy forget spells!
    And do you remember (apart from the Impostor and the Pestermite) who else is Rogue? All the countless faeries summoned from enemy spells by Oona the Queen! So just add this Blackguard to the mix, and the enemy is going to be hopeless against them.
    The problem with this Blackguard is that she's... Black. The fact that basically all the rest of the ecosystem is Blue, makes me think that even if this Blackguard costs only two mana, she comes into the fray much after what her cost suggests.
    And I'm not reasoning in MtG terms anymore, because if you haven't understood yet, I found the way to replicate this "ecosystem" in D&D-like games just fine..!

Translating a deck of creatures in D&D

... Is not an easy thing to do. At least not until you figure out what translates into what. The concept of mana is completely out of question, or isn't it? In a way, yes, because there's no way to translate the tapping of lands to get mana. But the mana cost gives some kind of ranking to the creatures. And the fact that in Magic they come out sequentially, has given me the idea to represent the whole thing:

What if we treat these faeries a bit like the demons of old in D&D, which were able to summon others of their kind..?
Basically, the "type 1" (or 1 mana) Faeries would be able to call the Type 2, and so on. So the encounters would always (or regularly) begin with only Type 1s. But they will soon call Type 2s, and the Type 2s will call the Type 3s and so on! With one exception: once a Type is called in, even if the directly inferior are not there anymore or are dead, even the lowly Type 1s will be able to call the Type 3s, and 4s. It's like a threshold system. Once a type is ready, it will always come, even if the "callers" are not there anymore. That is, you'd have to kill ALL the faeries to get rid of them completely. Or they could retreat of course, but the game wouldn't be over...

So basically this would be the system. Then the abilities are much easier to convert:
  1. Impostors would basically protect a faerie already called in, making it come again later. Mechanically, this could be like a teleport with delayed re-entry, or in 13th Age, it would be perfectly represented by the Shadow Walk mechanic of the Rogue, but applied to another creature, by the Impostor.
  2. Spellstutters would of course make spells fail. But I'd say not only spells, everything ranged. They would come out of nowhere, fluttering right under the nose of the casting or shooting character, and the attack would fail, based on how many other fairies are present.
  3. Pestermites would do pretty much the same, but they would make the character lose the action directly, making them useful also against melee characters. In addition, they could basically insta-call somebody else (in particular Impostors or Spellstutters), to represent their ability to free-up used mana.
  4. Scions would just give a small combat buff (namely a +1 to AC and a +2 to damage), and they would make everybody invisible, forcing the characters to deal with them, since they would remain visible and weak.
  5. The Archmage would lure attacks onto her, just to make the characters discover that she's invulnerable, at least for a round. Then she could remain in the back, until a big danger comes, and at that point she could again interpose herself and die for good, but maybe saving many more in the process.
  6. The Queen would right away suck Hit Points from characters and use them to summon "type 1s". Along with Hit Points, she could also interact with prepares spells, or draining Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma, making spells ineffective. But sucking true HP is important as well, because the point is that you can't let her do her thing for more then 4 or 5 rounds, or you're dead.
  7. The Gatewarden would be a mook/minion but that gives a combat debuff that doesn't go away, to those who kill her.
  8. The Blackguard would be pretty much like the Scion, but no Invisibility and instead add some debuffing effect to the attacks of rogues (Impostors, Pestermites, and the Oona minions).
And basically that would be it! I'll also add true stats to the post, but for now I'm happy like this already!

Keep up the faerie-like mischief, everybody!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 5: Story Hooks

From the moment I read +Philippe-Antoine Menard's article on +Critical Hits titled “13th Age” Musings: Story Hook-Based Adventure Prepping, I knew (and I told him) I would have used this method for my Zendikar project. And here I am!

I am well aware that half the genius of the ChattyDM's idea was that with this method you can turn those often-forgotten loose threads of adventures into new and exciting side treks, or even new courses for the entire campaign, but since the other half of the geniality is just the simplicity and quickness of the method, I decided to write a post providing these Story Hooks as possible campaign or adventure starting ideas for Zendikar, without actually referring to any loose threads of a pre-existing campaign (since we're talking about starting, of course!)

So this will be my list of Story Hooks, which in a fashion similar to all my latest post, will be a growing list that I will update over time. I decided I will only add Hooks based on the Locations I already described in my Locations list, With an additional "sub-focus" on one of the organizations or authorities present in the location.
I'll also link every first occurrence of an Icon or Minor Icon in each hook to the relevant section, if I've already written it.

So we'll start from the continent of Tazeem, which non-coincidentally is also the best land-mass in Zendikar to start a low-level adventure or campaign, since it contains the highest amount of civilized population in stable settlements, with the exception of the even more highly populated Guul Draz. Although around there, 90% of the civilized population enjoys sucking blood of intelligent humanoids, and must also do so to survive, making it probably a little less than recommendable as a starting place...

Note that, to keep the spirit of ChattyDM's Story Hooks, I purposely choose less-than-obvious and less-than-epic hooks here. Even more than to keep the original spirit of the method, because since the obvious and epic ones are already quite clear when reading the Locations or Icons lists, it would be redundant to also describe them here in this fashion.
Actually, I go a bit far from the original model in terms of length and detail: I can't help being as prolix as always!




Friday, April 18, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 4: Locations

One idea that I vented in my brainstorming on Icons (a post that I removed from the project, to avoid confusion), was that of having some locations in zendikar act exactly like Icons. That is, you can have positive, conflicted, or negative relationships with these places. It works in Zendikar, because the world is literally much more alive than your standard fantasy setting. So I would definitely allow some characters to have bonds to some places, if their story or their concept justifies so.

However, it must be said that even in Zendikar, locations are rather static. Maybe you come up with an awesome reason for which your Merfolk Sorcerer is really hated by the mysterious Jhwar Island, but then what happens if the campaign stirs away from it, and maybe doesn't even touch the nearby continent of Ondu? Rather disappointing.

So basically I'll just talk about locations, starting with the ones cited in the Detailed Icons section, and if relevant, I'll add info about using the whole location as an Icon. After all, it can also make sense for certain small communities to be in good or bad relationships with ceratin individuals, and if they are active communities, it means by extension to have such a relationship with its people.

Here we go! Text in italics comes from the source material, copyright Wizards of The Coast!

(Tazeem continent)

 - 1 - The Enclave
 - 2 - The Magosi Portage
 - 3 - Sea Gate
 - 4 - The Depths of Halimar
 - 5 - Oran Rief, The Vastwood
(Ondu continent)
 - 1 - Zulaport (Beyeen island)
 - 2 - Kabira (Agadeem island)
(Bala Ged sub-continent)
 - 1 - Bojuka Bay (and Bojuka Bastion)
(Murasa island-continent)
 - 1 - Sunder Bay (and Tumbled Palace)


Saturday, April 5, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 3: Minor Icons

I still haven't finished the full list of icons in my Icons mega-post, and I'm already thinking about more icons.

The idea is a bit different though, than just adding more icons. I just noticed that some of my icons were very close to some other powerful figures that should have influenced them somehow. So instead of creating "dual icons" (which might be an option anyway), I will put here these kind of "minor icons" that complement some of the standard ones for my Zendikar adaption.

The write-ups will be smaller, and having relationships directly and only with these icons should be mostly impossible, as they exist in symbiosis with others, for one reason or another.

For now I'll put just one, and will update the post when I have more, as I'm doing for the standard ones.
I will start with what should have been my entirely fictional (that is, not present in the cards) Icon, that then I replaced with the more "setting-integrated" Stoneforger (aka Stoneforge Mystic)

 - 1 - The Lord of Cliffhaven
 - 2 - Tuktuk, The Returned
 - 3 - The Enclave Cryptologist
 - 4 - The Kabira Evangel
 - 5 - Sutina, The Speaker of the Tajuru

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 2: Icons

This post is going to be big, because I want each Icon of Zendikar to receive a treatment comparable to the Icons of 13th Age if not more extensive. However, it would take me too much time to post all Icons altogether, so I'm going to update this post over time, adding Icon over Icon, or possibly even expanding on Icons I already wrote about, although I will try to limit that.

I'm gonna post a small index here at the start of the page, with eventual updates on existing entries, so that if you're interested you can stay up to date. I will also share on Google+ and Twitter each time I make a change to the page.

 - 0 - Brief introduction
 - 1 - The Loremaster
 - 2 - The Vindicator
 - 3 - The Stoneforger
 - 4 - The Chronologist
 - 5 - The Treespeaker
 - 6 - The Surrakar
 - 7 - The Shield of Emeria
 - 8 - The Acquisitor
 - 9 - The Ruin Sage

Welcome to Zendikar! :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Quick Icons!

A flash of insight hit me suddenly about the icons in Zendikar and I had a stupid idea that proved less stupid than first thought.

It started thinking about the "everything goes" philosophy I was beginning to think was the only solution to the Icons in Zendikar. I thought: "At this point, you could even just take the cards that most closely approximate the 13th Age Icons, and call it a day." - And then I tried the experiment..!

The Archmage: Seagate Loremaster

It can definitely be a legendary (aka unique) figure in Zendikar, even if the card itself is not Legendary in type, and thus allows multiple copies of it to be in the game. But we're not playing Magic: we're devising a setting. So in our setting, The Loremaster is a legendary figure of which there's only one!

It's also extremely appropriate in Zendikar for the Arcane/Lore Icon to be a Merfolk.

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Icons Brainstorming

It's proving extremely difficult to devise Icons that work in the standard 13th Age way for the Zendikar world.

A bit of background explanation is needed to understand why. Then I'm going to basically propose some "models" and see what you guys in the community think about this.

BACKGROUND: Why Zendikar lacks world-shaping NPCs.

First and foremost, we would be tempted to cut the matter short by stating that Zendikar has never meant to be role-played into. As all Magic: The Gathering worlds/planes, it's just meant to be a backdrop to battles that involve tapping the magical resources that are embedded into the world's lands (and this is also the focus of Zendikar compared to other MtG worlds), and havng creatures and spells summoned in this way.

But Zendikar has everything it needs to be at least a common D&D setting. It has dunegons, it has adventurers, it has sorts of guilds of adventurers, and it has all manner of artifacts and magical stuff, a strange unfolding prophecy and a culmination into an eldritch apocalypse involving three Chtulhu-like aberrant gods that will devour literally all reality unless they are stopped. (Oops, spoiler!)

So what it lacks is exactly the classical important NPCs/factions that the Dragon Empire of 13th Age has. Or doesn't it? It depends on the scale used to measure their possible equivalents in Zendikar

LARGE SCALE ICONS: Zendikar doesn't lack big players, but can they be Icons?

The three apocalypse-igniting alien gods trapped within the very earth of Zendikar are immensely powerful.

The triads of gods that the major religious races (Merfolk and Kor) have in their theologies, are just cargo-cult versions of the long-forgotten appearance of the three mentioned world-enders. That is, technically the "true gods" of Zendikar don't even exist: they are historians' failures in keeping the memories of those old terrors for what the truly were. BUT. But... There still are clerics of these gods that have powers. And there still is a connection between the true Eldrazi (the names of the alien elder gods) and the "theological illusion" gods. So two routes are possible here: either we consider the religons' gods as some kind of spiritual avatar of the imprisoned Eldrazi, maybe become so thanks to the mortals veneration, or we even think that while inspired from the Eldrazi in origin, these gods also became something "kind of real" as separate mystical entities.
In any case, we're still talking of distant entities, in all senses.

And that's the problem with the large-scale players of Zendikar: be them imprisoned, mystical avatars of the imprisoned that became somewhat stand-alone gods, or very abstract deities, they lack a lot of the characteristics required by icons.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 1: Races

If you know me from the Wizards community or even just if you are one of the few regular readers of this blog, you know that I have a passion for Zendikar, the Magic: The Gathering world that I consider most playable and fun from a fantasy RPG point of view.

I already spent a lot of time in the past trying to "convert" the setting to D&D 4e, with mixed results, and now, after seeing how good of a job does the 13th Age system do in giving life to settings, thanks to the Icons idea, and pumped up for the opportunity to contribute to a 13th Age fanzine proposed by +David Eglinton, I want to try out a 13th Age conversion of Zendikar!

First of all, let it be clear that "conversion" should not be the term to be used. It's not about taking the actual Zendikar block cards and converting them to D&D or 13th Age rules. It's about making the world behind those cards into a playable setting.

Set this in stone, even before the Icons, which will prove quite difficult in Zendikar, compared to the straightforward Guilds->Icons correspondence of Ravnica, I want to start with the iconic Zendikar races, one of which, the Merfolk, I just re-wrote for D&D Next.

Races in 13th Age are extremely simple. They only get one ability score bonus chosen between two, and one racial power. There should also be a racial feat for Champion tier, but it's kind of secondary: you can play the first levels without it.

So let's do it!!

Part 1: RACES

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#Merfolk, the #MtG variety, home-brew as a race for #dndnext!


As a merfolk, you share these racial traits with others of your kind.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2.
Age. Merfolk grow and age at approximately half the rate of a normal human, attaining adulthood in 30 to 35 years. They live to be around 160.
Alignment. Merfolk tend to be neutral on the cosmic war between chaos and law, although exceptions exist, especially for very tight communities where lar prevails, or banished or orphan indivudals who can tend more toward chaos. Their side on the good and evil axis depends a lot on their personal experience, tending toward evil if they experienced or witnessed evil acts, or towards good if vice-versa.
Size. Merfolk are more or less the same height as humans, but tend to be lighter in build than the average human.
Speed. Your base land speed is 30 feet. You also have a swimming speed of 35 feet.
Aquatic. As a merfolk you can breathe underwater, and being underwater imposes no penalty on your attack roles or ability checks.
Languages. You can speak and read Merfolk and Common.
Reflexive Twitch. In place of an Opportunity Attack or when surprised by or surprising enemies, move half your speed without provoking Opportunity Attacks and without expending movement or actions.
Curious Researcher. Choose a feat that grants a bonus to an ability score. You gain its bnefits, except for the bonus to the ability score.
If feats are not in use in your game, choose two different bonuses among the following: proficiency in one skill, one weapon, one saving throw, one tool, or learn a language.
Subrace. Merfolk exist in many planes, and in each plane they develop substantial differences and adaptions


Zendikar is a plane of stronger and more pervasive magical forces, where the land itself changes constantly under the geo-magical phenomenon known as the "Roil". Zendikar merfolk have attuned so well to this that they know how to be nexuses for the Roil, even in planes where the Roil doesn't usually manifest: when any spell disturbs the natural order, you can "ride" the magical currents that get amplified by your presence and take advantage as the laws of physics change around you.
Ability Scores. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Roil Nexus. When casting a 1st level or higher spell, or as a Reaction when a 1st level or higher spell is casted within 10 feet of you, choose one of the following effects:

  • One or two creatures within 10 feet of you are pushed up to their speed in any direction (Strength saving throw negates, saving throw DC is 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Wisdom modifier)
  • You and a willing target within 10 feet of you gain a fly speed equal to the respective base land speed until the start of your next turn.
  • Choose an area within 10 feet of you up to 10 feet per side to become heavily obscured or 4 areas of 5 feet per side to become lightly obscured, until the start of your next turn.
After you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a short rest or a long rest.


In Ravnica, Merfolk have lived in isolation under the surface of the city for centuries. When they emerged, they found themselves at home in a recently battered Simic guild and eventually took control of it and brought it back to a prominent position.
The guild's take on evolution matches perfectly your own fast adaption to new environments.
Ability Scores. An ability score of your choice other than Intelligence increases by 1.
Fast Evolution. If after two consecutive long rests you exhaust your Hit Dice by healing, you gain an additional Hit Die to spend in healing until the next long rest. Alternatively, if after two consecutive long rests you exhaust your daily spell slots, you gain an additional daily spell slot of the highest level you can cast until the next long rest. These bonuses can't happen at the same time and are not cumulative. If both conditions apply, the Hit Die benefit applies.


Original "design notes" of my 4e Zendikar adaption (here) - annotations in italic. 

I envisioned two principal themes while exploring Zendikar's Merfolk [cards]: exploration/scouting and knowledge.
They are described as solitary in the sense that they enjoy researching in solitude, but most of their abilities benefit their allies as a group. They have a leader streak mechanically, without actually being charismatic. They lead with their knowledge.

There were many powers that fitted as a racial power for them, so I decided to make a single power with many uses depending on the merfolk's power source. This encourages hybrids and/or multiclassing, and makes the Bard an attractive class for the merfolk (which is thematically fitting IMO), even if Charisma is not given a bonus. - I simplified this by just letting them choose the effect. The concept of power source could still be used in Next, but the caster classes are too few for now, and even if I considered making the effect tied to spell school, it would have made the effect more "arcane", when it's intended to be more a "ride the currents of magic" thing.

Their other signature ability is knowing an extra encounter or at-will power of their level but needing to swap it with another one in order to use it. It's like they all have a mini spellbook, which I think is fitting because they're listed as wizards more often than any other class, and this power swapping during resting also sounds as something a solitary explorer/researcher could do, to prepare him or herself to the next challenge in advance. - This was of course re-adapted into the toned-down feat.

The explorer feature can be powerful and it can be extended to allies via feat: extra move action during surprise rounds. Note that it can be combined with the racial power, which is a minor action, and can thus be used by burning a move action if need arises. - No more racial feats, and no combination of racial power with the Reflexive Twitch. After all, it's not intended to be an at-will racial power, but a feature that can be linked to a spell, it's more passive.

Last thing, maybe the most overpowered, the racial power doesn't scale with level in quantity of bonus, instead gaining more uses per encouneter. Two at paragon and three at Epic. I thought that maintaining the effects low, it could have been a good way to represent the resourcefulness of the Merfolk. - Of course, I didn't make the "racial power" scale, because it's already quite powerful for Next standards.

P.S.: The Ravnica subrace is quite uninspired I guess, but I think it was uninspired in the setting as well. They just needed an iconic Blue race to put in Ravnica, but they didn't expand on them enough, so I just wanted to make them flexible and with a take on the theme of evolution, typical of their Simic Combine guild.


And that's all! Above you see my favorite Merfolk character, Cylonea, whose card-inspiration, Caller of Gales, is also the inspiration for the flying-giving power of my Merfolk race write-up (she's a very basic Merfolk but she can give flight to any creature, so I figured it was quite a basic thing for them in Zendikar!).
She can't be converted right now, because there's really nothing like the 4e version of the Shaman (and a World Spirit Shaman at that!) and the Artificer.
I could eventually try to make the spirit companion a matter of Feat, but then I wouldn't really know on top of which class to put it to represent her. Druid would be ok if it wasn't for the unavoidable Wild Shape which really doesn't suit her. I just hope that between the Warlock and the Sorcerer, something will come up in Next to represent her in a nice way!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Solanyt, the #Simic and #Dimir winged elf assassin, from #DnDNext to #13thAge

I had already written before of how I consider 13th Age the perfect system to play in Ravnica, but I had questioned the feasibility of it in representing my Solanyt character.

The expansion book 13 True Ways will bring multiclassing, thus making it really easy to build the Solanyt I want, but even before laying my sticky fingers (or sticky cursor) over the new product, Wade Rockett provided me with very useful suggestions to build the character using the core system, just tooling around a bit!

So let's go through character creation, following the book step by step.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Ranger that #DnD never gave me. A #DnDNext wanna-be post.

There are a few D&D classes I always rant about. Basically all the "not-big-4" classes. That is, everything that is not Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, or Rogue.

The idea that all other classes should be derived from these is a common "political alignment" in the D&D community, and it's a nasty confusion in and by itself. Because one thing is saying that classes should all be classifiable in those 4 big groups, which would make it easy, for example to have mechanics such as feats or things such as magic items apply to whole groups of classes, like all spellcasters, all scoundrel etc; another thing is to say all classes are technically a combination of those 4, and at that point can very well be sub-classes. You know, I agree: if they are a combination of features from those 4, definitely make them subclasses. Or even more rationally, (p)re-packaged multiclass characters, for those that really don't like to manually multiclass.

The big problem is very simple: all of this comes out of one seldom-recognized mistake: wanting to recreate the "hybrid classes", such as the Ranger, in every edition so that they resemble the first incarnation of the class. You might say "But it's tradition of the game, it's a classic". And I say: "Sure, the Ranger is a tradition and a classic. But is its class advancement table also that??".
My point is that for a class to respect its own tradition and classicism (pun not intended), the mechanics need not to be the same.

Ranger by BBeaton

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ABU HELL - Auras

- "Mom, mom!"
- "What's up, baby?"
It took a few seconds for Ryan to reply.
- "Look outside!"
- "The clouds?"
- "The... Birds."
- "Where are they, Ryan?"
- "... There... No, th... There..."
- "I can't see anything, honey, are you playing with me?"
She was still in a good mood, although something in the way the kid was talking was a bit unsettling.
- "..."
- "Ryan?"
- "..."
- "Oh my God, Ryan..!!"

At the special training, they were quite specific: treat the stratospheric ascent as a normal take-off, and avoid walking in the cabin, unless extremely necessary. But the attendant calls were sounding like crazy, and a handful of people, especially moms, were also calling outloud. Some directly for help.
After purser and flight deck approval, the crew began walking, not without difficulty, around the cabin, to see what was going on. Many kids were having strange symptoms. Their muscles were extremely tense, breathing was powerful but rare, eyes unblinking, very difficult to move, especially neck and head.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

ABU HELL - Flight FZ001

Early morning. A very well known aerospace hub. February. Already 27 degrees Celsius.

The immense, shining-new, world-record-breaker airliner is taxing towards the runway for its very first flight with passengers. It's a historical day for the company. And for aviation.

Three thousand passengers distributed on 3 decks. There's no economy class. There is a lower class but it's not called economy. It's either Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
And to accommodate the changes and underline even more the already apparent will to separate this beast from the other aircrafts of the company, a new sub-company's flag is on it. "FAZL". Strange name. Apparently a possible transcription of Arabic for "grace, generosity".
Some strange marketing decision, along the one of painting the whole aircraft red, leaving only tail and part of the wings white. Some said it looked cheap, others appreciated the pioneering vision of it.

The aircraft seems too big even for the airport, literally. It towers over the terminals. A new one is in construction, but making the first flight was a priority. Insiders opinions are divided. Some say things were rushed, others say an unprecedented amount of work and care has been put into the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crunchy Bits: New, #Zendikar themed, Rogue and Barbarian #DnDNext Subclasses!

Yes, I got inspired again. Yes it's gonna be crunchy bits, this time!

Zendikar's under my spotlight again. A fellow Italian player wants to D&D-ize the setting using 3.5-PF rules (no surprise: no 4e or Next fans in Italy!), so he contacted me, having seen my previous work on the setting, which can now be found here:

Ravnica would also be an evergreen and although none of the two are the latest setting MtG has touched, seeing the latest setting only makes me want to think about the old ones and eventually what's coming next..! Seriously, a setting based on a B- movie (Clash of The Titans), certified B- by seriously awful metacritic scores. And it's even graphically inspired by it, completely. The artwork is even good to the eye, but when the brain connects to the eye... Oh my God(s)... </rant>

However, I decided to focus on Zendikar because its adventuring theme makes it effortless to come up with D&D material for it!

So here we are, trying to design some new stuff for Next, waiting for the crunchy bits to come from Wizards itself...