October 31, 2014

5E Friday - Dungeonscape

The news this week is that Dungeonscape, the online gaming tool being made by Trapdoor, is no longer being made for 5E. News has been sparse and is likely to remain so as to the actual behind the scenes decision making. Here are some of my random thoughts on the topic...

-I suspect the product was late. Normally such a product should have launched with the Player's Handbook. Two months after the PHB release and they are still in beta. It also looked like a release version was far off.

-Seeing some recent feedback on the beta...things were not going well. They didn't even have the character generator complete or non-buggy.

-Combine a late product with it looking even later and WotC probably decided to pull the plug on what they felt was a non-viable product. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but from WotC - "we remain committed to creating great tabletop and digital gaming experiences for Dungeons & Dragons players and DMs" - To me this sounds like Dungeonscape was not looking like it would be a 'great...digital gaming experience'.
If the product had hope of completing I suspect WotC would have kept them on...but it didn't look like that was a possibility.

-People are hoping that PDFs of the books will become available now. Previously the only online versions of the books would have been through Dungeonscape. However, I suspect WotC is working on a new online resource with the same intent of keeping the books behind an online source (ie no PDFs).

-It sounds like Trapdoor is looking to continue on the project, however, it will likely not be for 5E. They will likely shop it out to other companies or make it something generic.

-I never expected a personal "need" for the product, though I would have checked it out. However, I won't be missing it now that its dead.

-Look for news about their newest online product for 5E from WotC soon. I suspect they've been looking for another producer for at least a month.

October 28, 2014

5E Background - Guard


You have the skills to protect other people and their possessions. In the past you may have been a bodyguard protecting a traveling merchant caravan, protecting an important person or a security guard protecting a place of business. Likely you've done a bit of all of those tasks over the years. However, keeping other people's gold safe gets old after a while. Eventually you decided to go out and find your own gold...though sometimes you still have to take the occasional guard job to pay the bills.

Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set
Equipment: A set of common clothes, a set of bone dice, a belt pouch continuing 10gp

Feature: Steadfast
You are used to spending long periods of time waiting but being on high alert the entire time. During a long rest you can perform light activities such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for 4 hours instead of the maximum of 2 hours.

Suggested Characteristics:
A guard has a broad range of skills. They need to be capable with weapons, but they are not soldiers. They need to be aware of what is going on around them at all times. They need to put themselves in harm's way. They are a military jack-of-all-trade but master of none.

Personality Trait:
1. I have given names to my weapons and I talk to them.
2. I am very good at waiting. Patience is a virtue I have conquered.
3. I am awkward and uncomfortable around people I am attracted to.
4. I do not lie and hate being lied to.
5. I am good at taking orders.
6. I never panic in a crisis situation.
7. When there is not much going on, I like to eat. My gut would indicate, maybe I like it a bit too much.
8. I like to know the names of everyone around me.

1. Aloof. I try not to get close to those I protect, it makes my job more difficult. (Neutral)
2. Self-Sacrifice. My job is to save the lives of other people, even at the expense of my own. (Good)
3. Spontaneity. Try to keep them guessing. If the enemy doesn't know what defenses I've planned then they can't prepare for them. (Chaotic)
4. Diligent. I'm getting paid to do a job, I'll see it to its completion. (Lawful)
5. Sadist. I like to hurt people and being a guard makes it legal. (Evil)
6. Meaningful. It may not be glamorous but what I do is of value. (Any)

1. I once saved the life of an important noble. I keep a medallion he gave me as a reward.
2. During one of my stints as a security guard I found a stray cat. It still travels with me.
3. I'm not an alcoholic, but I perform better after having a drink.
4. I work better as part of a team; we can watch each other's backs.
5. After 6 months guarding a caravan the boss stiffed us on our wages and left us out in the middle of no where. I want my pay.
6. Some day I'll be the leader of my own mercenary company.

1. Someone I was hired to bodyguard died under my watch. The family still blames me. Even worse, I blame myself.
2. I am suspicious of everyone. It is very hard for me to trust anyone.
3. Once I am on a job nothing will dissuade me from completing it.
4. I was once a soldier but left under a cloud.
5. I hate organized crime and will doing anything to crush it wherever I find it.
6. I was tasked to protect an artifact from a cult. I failed and my goal is to recover it one day.

October 24, 2014

5E Friday - Inspiration

I'll admit it, I was a bit leery about 5E's Inspiration mechanic. To me it seemed like it was either...

...a munchkin tactic wherein the players would work to get them for no reason other than to gain a numerical advantage in game.
...an unnecessary rule that overcomplicated the system.
...virtually the same as the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic.

However, having seen it in practice I've decided I like it.

The munchkin, min/maxer, in my game quickly started going for it. He started role-playing the quirks on his character sheet (the players are using the pre-gens from the Starter Set while we try out the system). The thing is, he is not the most diligent role-player. He is very based in the numbers and not the character. I would call him a roll-player and not a role-player. And yet, here he was role-playing and doing it well. Sure he was doing it to gain the advantage for his die rolling, but despite the motivation...he was role-playing!
The best part was that he was interacting more with the other characters and getting them to role-play as well. While my fear of munchkin-ism was basically proven true, I'm okay with that. The end result is an overall improvement to the game.

The second Inspiration I handed out was when one of the players made the entire table roar in laughter for a good long time. I'm not even sure if it was for something in-character or out-of-character; it didn't matter. It seemed like a nice reward for entertaining us and she seemed pleased to get it.

For me, Inspiration is a reward for role-playing or simply being entertaining. It's a way to reward the players when they do something I approve of, a way to give them direction without demanding it. I'm liking it utilization.

October 21, 2014

5E Background - Traveller


Some would call you vagrant, vagabond, tramp. drifter, but they just don't understand. You are gripped with wanderlust and enjoy the simply thrill of traveling from place to place, experiencing something new every day. You are most comfortable on the road and staying in one place for too long begins to get on your nerves. This might be a week or a year, but eventually you need to move on.

Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Survival
Languages: Two of your choice.
Equipment: A set of traveler's clothes with sturdy shoes, a walking stick (that can act as a staff), a rucksack with 5 gp

Feature: Home on the Road
You have adapted to always being on the move and not having a home to live in; you make your home wherever you stop for the night. You are able to find shelter, or build it quickly, while traveling. This means you can stay dry and warm outside of urban areas. You can also find food and water for yourself and up to 1d6 other people daily, assuming there is any food and water in the area.

Suggested Characteristics
Being tied down to one place is antithesis to who you are. Being on the move is where you feel the most comfortable. This does mean who are the perpetual stranger and people tend not to trust you, but that is fine since you'll be gone soon anyway. The world is a huge place and you intend to see all of it.
Personality Trait
1. I hum the same tune when nervous or unsure.
2. I can't help letting people know where I've been.
3. I'm not sure when my next meal will be so I am constantly eating something.
4. I have no sense of personal space.
5. I may not tell outright lies, but I will certainly embellish a deed.
6. Whittling is how I spend much of my time.
7. My mustache is a thing of beauty and perfection. Keeping it groomed is time well spent.
8. I make sure to think through a question thoroughly before answering.

1. Change. Anytime something becomes stagnant is the time to change it. (Chaotic)
2. Gain. I try to take as much from an area before moving on. (Evil)
3. Respect. I am only visiting; I should leave things as I found them. (Lawful)
4. Individualism. I won't stop you from doing what you wish, don't try to stop me. (Neutral)
5. Amiable. There is so much for all to see and enjoy in this world. (Any)
6. Nurture. As I make my way through the world, I try to leave it better than I found it. (Good)

1. I have my favorite walking stick which I am never without.
2. The book I carry is a record of every place I've ever been.
3. I will see something no one else has ever witnessed before.
4. I know the location of a hidden vale that if revealed to the rest of the world would cause its destruction.
5. There are tales of a lost city. I will find it one day.
6. I search for my father. All I have is his name, but I know I will find him before I die.

1. I can't bring myself to retrace my steps. I'll take the long way around if that is an option.
2. I am running from someone I have wronged and must stay constantly on the move.
3. I am impatient and brusque with other people which makes me appear surly.
4. I am uncomfortable touching other people and avoid it as much as possible.
5. Personal freedom is more important than anything else.
6. I left behind a spouse and child and it now brings me great shame.

October 14, 2014

5E Monsters - Which Ones Are Next?

The 5E Monster Manual gave us a bunch of the most iconic monsters D&D has ever produced. It's like the Hall of Fame for monsters. However, which monsters will be in the next Monster Manual? Which ones do YOU want to see next? For myself...

Dark Ones
Oozes (other varities)
Rot Grub
Yellow Musk Creeper

Looking through the list of past monsters, there are not a lot of must-haves. The 5E Monster Manual really did a good job at including the "necessary" monsters. From this point on, we'll likely see monster variations (different types of golems, etc), setting specific monsters and the bizarre ones.