December 19, 2014

5E Friday - Codename: Morningstar

This is tangential to 5E in that WotC already cut their ties with Trapdoor and their Codename: Morningstar aka Dungeonscape digital product. However, 5E put their name in the public eye and I feel their Kickstarter is a continuation of their 5E work. And that is what I want to talk about today, their Kickstarter.

As most people know, they have a Kickstarter to update the software they were working on for 5E to be used for Pathfinder (and any other system they can get). They are asking for nearly half a million dollars ($425,000). For any Kickstarter that is a lot to ask for in the initial offering. Most Kickstarters, even those that break $500,000 initially ask for far less. Look at Numenera - $517,255 pledged but $20,000 was the initial goal. I think Trapdoor asked for too high an initial goal.

Now for my real problem with Morningstar. Essentially Trapdoor is asking to people to fund a product that already failed. They already had a contract with WotC. They failed to reach their end of that deal. They failed to meet their deadlines with the quality they had promised and was expected. From many accounts, the beta, which didn't start until after the product should have already been launched, was riddled with problems. Some of those problems were basic things that should have been sorted out long before a beta (mis-adding stat bonuses to a basic attack). And now they want us to give them more money to finish the product they couldn't finish before.

Sure, converting the software from 5E to Pathfinder can take some time, but their proven track record is...bad. Really, the software should have already been completed.

Personally I think Trapdoor has high and lofty ideas, ideas that are great if they can be achieved. I'm not sure they can do it, certainly not in a timely manner. And to ask for half a million dollars to finish something that should already be done, seems ludicrous to me.

December 16, 2014

5E Group Background - Family

The World Builder Blog did a nice article on Group Backgrounds for 5E. Basically these are backgrounds with the assumption that the player characters are all from the same background instead of the usual individual ones. This allows for player character group to have some initial ties, giving a more coherent reason of why they are together.
The initial article gave some basics for the Group Backgrounds, but I thought it would be neat to expand them into regular backgrounds. These could also work as regular Backgrounds for individuals.

Group Background: Family
Your party is made up of characters who are all part of the same family. Not everyone needs to be blood-related. Some might be related through marriage or adopted. Others might be servants or friends so close they might as well be family. Whatever the relation, you have spent a significant portion of your lives together and that time has created a familial bond.

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, choose one of the following (Insight, Perception, Sense Motive)  
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a token from your favorite sibling (a ring, toy, or scarf), a belt pouch continuing 15gp

Feature: Favor Exchange
If someone outside the family owes a family member a favor they can repay the debt to any member of the family. Any NPCs consider your family one close unit and as such will grant favors and friendship to all members of the party equally.


Suggested Characteristics:
Family has its own quirks and foibles. You may hate each other, but in the end you are all family. Blood runs thick. The truly odd part is that it is possible to be an individual while still being part of a large group all with a similar background.

Personality Trait:
1. I have an annoying habit of always saying what’s on my mind – no filter.
2. I tend to interrupt people in conversations. We just got used to talking over each other growing up.
3. I love to cook but I always over-estimate how much to make.
5. Growing up I had to wear hand-me-down clothes. Now that I’m an adult I make sure to always wear new and fine clothes.
6. I eat my food quickly.
7. I tend to be the quiet one in the back. I’m used to not being noticed; being noticed makes me uncomfortable.
8. I try to have good manners all the time. I don’t swear or yell. I open doors for others. I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I am respectful to others.

Ideal:
1. Clannish. My family is the most important thing to me. Everyone else takes second place to them. (Neutral)
2. Closeness. A family is the fundamental core of any society. It all starts with the family and a strong family can make the world a better place. (Good)
3. Pandemonium. In a large family there are always multiple things going on. I embrace that diversity of action as it keeps life interesting. (Chaotic)
4. Respect. The elders of the family are the ones with the learned wisdom to best make the decisions for the family. I treat them with the respect they deserve. (Lawful)
5. Exploitive. I’m just using my family to get ahead. (Evil)
6. Enduring. Every family has its ups and downs, but in the end we’re still family. (Any)

Bond:
1. The founder of our family was a famous adventurer who changed the world. I seek to emulate him and make my name just as celebrated.
2. The family has fallen on hard times and I seek to bring it back to the heights of society.
3. Some of the ancestors of our family live on as ghosts. Maybe it’s just my overactive imagination but I believe I can see them…and that they talk to me.
4. A few generations ago we lost our ancestral sword in battle against orcs. My driving goal is to recover it for our family.
5. One of my sisters married into a powerful family. Unfortunately I believe she is in an abusive relationship. I will find a way to free her from her predicament.
6. I have a favorite sibling; I would do anything to keep them safe.

Flaw:
1. Every family has its black sheep. I guess it’s my turn for this generation.
2. One of our ancestors was a traitor to the kingdom.
3. My family is used to sharing, clothes and other possessions, all the time. Sometimes I forget other people aren’t like this and they get upset when I take their items.
4. I suspect someone in the family is cheating on their spouse. It’s only a suspicion so I am not sure what to do about it.
5. I am deeply in love with someone, but one of my siblings is also in love with them.
6. You are an illegitimate child. While not of direct blood, they still accept you as a member of the family…for the most part.

December 9, 2014

5E Group Background - Secret Society

The World Builder Blog did a nice article on Group Backgrounds for 5E. Basically these are backgrounds with the assumption that the player characters are all from the same background instead of the usual individual ones. This allows for player character group to have some initial ties, giving a more coherent reason of why they are together.
The initial article gave some basics for the Group Backgrounds, but I thought it would be neat to expand them into regular backgrounds. These could also work as regular Backgrounds for individuals.

Group Background: Secret Society

Your party is made up of characters who work for an organization with inner workings which remain a secret to the public. Your society might be spies for a government, a cabal of assassins, a band of hidden protectors of nature, a team of vigilantes, a group trying to divine the secrets of the world, an organization bent on world domination, or something else. Whatever the case, you have a secret mission to carry out. This secret bonds you and your party together in trust.

Skill Proficiencies: Deception, choose one of the following (Persuasion, Stealth)  
Tool Proficiencies: Disguise kit, forgery kit
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, two sets of common clothes, a disguise kit,  a belt pouch continuing 15gp

Feature: Information Network
You are part of a network that relays secret information on a regular basis. You are able to pass along and gain information easily. Once a day you can send out information or request information on a topic and sometime thereafter (as determined by your DM) a response will come back to you through your network. 


Suggested Characteristics:
Being a member of a secret society means always living a lie. Who can you trust? Who can trust you? Fortunately, you have a core group of people you know you can trust, but beyond them the world is uncertain.

Personality Trait:
1. I do not have many possessions. I may have to pick and move on a moment’s notice.
2. I don’t like looking people in the eye. This tends to make them nervous around me.
3. I enjoy discussing politics.
4. I am afraid of giving too much away so I talk as little as possible.
5. It’s very hard for me to trust anyone I haven’t known for a long time. I assume everyone is lying to me.
6. I am more of a follower than a leader. Maybe that explains why I was so willing to join this society.
7. I like to think I’m a sexual charmer.
8. I am as outgoing and friendly as possible. Everyone trusts a friendly face.

Ideal:
1. Revolutionary. Things need to change. I haven’t thought much about what the world will be like after the change, but that can wait for later. (Neutral)
2. Idealist. Only through change can the world be made better. (Good)
3. Anarchic. Down with those in authority! Change the status-quo! We will prevail and change the world! (Chaotic)
4. Trust. I have reliance on the society. To question it would introduce doubt and lead to failure. (Lawful)
5. Rebel. I like being outside the established societal order, whatever that might be. If we win by accomplishing our goals and become the new society, I’ll rebel against that. (Evil)
6. Diligent. I believe in our mission. (Any)

Bond:
1. I once had an intimate relationship with a leader of the society. It didn’t work out but I still have feelings for them.
2. My older brother, who was also part of the society, was taken in for “questioning” by the local authorities and has been missing ever since. I will find him one day…or at least uncover what happened to him.
3. I’ve used so many aliases, it’s starting to get confusing as to which one I’m supposed to be using when.
4. There is one new recruit that may be too young for this sort of thing. I’ll have to keep an eye on them and make sure they stay safe.
5. I used to do a lot of heaving drinking to help me get through everything. I realized I had a problem and stopped completely. However, some days it’s hard not to go back to drinking.
6. I am building a hidden stash of money and items in case it ever all goes bad.

Flaw:
1. I was once accused of selling out the group for money. It was later proved it was someone else instead. Now no one completely trusts me any longer.
2. Members of my family have been asking a lot of probing questions about my activities of late. Soon I may have to choose between my family and my society.
3. I have the local authorities out looking for me.
4. I suspect another member of the society, one outside on my immediate circle, of betrayal. However, the person is highly placed within the society so openly accusing them without proof will get me killed…but the longer I wait the more harm they can cause.
5. I am being blackmailed. Someone knows of my membership in this society and is threatening to reveal it.
6. My father is a high ranking member of the authorities that are actively hunting us.

December 2, 2014

5E Group Background - Religious Order

The World Builder Blog did a nice article on Group Backgrounds for 5E. Basically these are backgrounds with the assumption that the player characters are all from the same background instead of the usual individual ones. This allows for player character group to have some initial ties, giving a more coherent reason of why they are together.
The initial article gave some basics for the Group Backgrounds, but I thought it would be neat to expand them into regular backgrounds. These could also work as regular Backgrounds for individuals.

Group Background: Religious Order
Your party is made up of characters who are all part of the same religious order be it a monastery, cult, or temple. You share devout beliefs in the same gods, studied religion together, and are friends who share common morality. Together you walk the world, doing deeds in the name of your religion.

Skill Proficiencies: Religion, choose one of the following (History, Medicine, Persuasion)  
Languages: Two of your choice
Equipment: A set of common clothes, vestments, a holy symbol, prayer book, a belt pouch continuing 10gp

Feature: Aid and Comfort
In any given community it is highly likely there will be people of the same faith as yours. They will provide lodging and food as long as you are in that community. They may even be persuaded to give additional aid as requested, such as local information or even putting themselves into danger for your cause.


Suggested Characteristics:
The belief in the same god or religion can bring together people who otherwise would have little in common. It also helps define their relationships and actions. For many people they are defined by which religion they follow.

Personality Trait:
1. Before I do anything else at the start of the day, I offer up a prayer to my god.
2. After meeting a new person, one of the first things I try to do is discover which god they worship.
3. I took to the more somber teachings of my faith. Thus I have a glum outlook on life.
4. I can’t help myself and feel the need to let other people know about my deity.
5. I make it a point to thank every person that provides me some sort of aid or service.
6. I am trying to better understand the world and my faith. This means I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes people don’t like those questions, but I need to know.
7. My personal grooming is a reflection of my devotion to my god. Thus I try to look my best at all times.
8. I like to quote religious texts as responses to questions or as a parable in related situations.

Ideal:
1. Benevolence. I have faith in my god, but people are free to form their own opinions on which god to worship.  (Neutral)
2. Kindness. The purpose of our worship is to make the world better for everyone. (Good)
3. Thoughtful. I love to have philosophical discussions on the nature of the gods. Sometimes I’ll even take up a contrary position to better explore a topic. (Chaotic)
4. Devout. By holding true to the words of our god, the world will be a better place. (Lawful)
5. Zealot. There is no true god except for my god. Anyone who worships another god is a heretic. (Evil)
6. Faithfulness. Worshipping my god brings me joy and a sense of well-being. (Any)

Bond:
1. My mother is a high ranking member of the church. I work to make her proud.
2. The village where I grew up in needs a full-time minister. When I retire I am hoping to settle there.
3. My father was a traveling priest and faith healer, who turned out to be a charlatan. I work to absolve the memory of his sins.
4. Sometimes I hear voices in my head that guide me. I don’t know if they are from my god, but so far they have not steered me wrong.
5. I have been tasked to carry a holy icon of our order. I must display it for all to see, but more importantly, I must keep it safe.
6. I see all those who worship my god as family members. A worshipper of my god can count on me for aid.

Flaw:
1. I have begun to lose faith in my god.
2. I am disgusted by those who try and use their faith as a means to give themselves more power and control over other people. I will oppose those people wherever I find them.
3. I have faith that my god will protect me in all things. This mean sometimes I may seem to be reckless.
4. While I allow the foolhardy to believe in their own false gods, I become violent when someone says something bad about my god.
5. I tithe far more than required. I can’t help myself from giving to those less fortunate than myself.
6. I automatically trust anyone who claims to be a fellow worshipper of my god.

November 25, 2014

5E Group Background - Military Unit

The World Builder Blog did a nice article on Group Backgrounds for 5E. Basically these are backgrounds with the assumption that the player characters are all from the same background instead of the usual individual ones. This allows for player character group to have some initial ties, giving a more coherent reason of why they are together.
The initial article gave some basics for the Group Backgrounds, but I thought it would be neat to expand them into regular backgrounds. These could also work as regular Backgrounds for individuals.


Group Background: Military Unit

You are all part of the same military or mercenary unit. You have trained together, lived together and fought together. You know how each of you will act within a combat situation. There is a camaraderie that only a soldier can know. Upon leaving the military you carried that comradeship with you into the civilian world.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, choose one of the following (Animal Handling, Intimidation, Survival)  
Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set
Equipment: A unit insignia, a set of common clothes, a set of bone dice, a belt pouch continuing 10gp

Feature: Secret Code
You and your party know a secret, coded language which is only shared with others of your former unit. This language is both spoken and written. Parts of the language can be used to communicate through hand gestures.


Suggested Characteristics:
The camaraderie of a tight military unit where life and death are on the line forms a bond that can be carried over in a civilian life. However, it can also be too easy to carry over part of the military life, making a non-military life difficult.

Personality Trait:
1. When it comes to personal grooming, I have a morning ritual I adhere to every day.
2. When times get hard, I have to crack a joke to lighten things up.
3. I naturally follow orders.
4. I like to travel light. If it doesn’t fit in one rucksack I won’t bring it.
5. I keep all my weapons and armor as polished as possible.
6. I dislike politicians as they meddle in affairs they know nothing about.
7. Shoes are the most important thing to me. Keeping my feet dry can be a lifesaver.
8. In combat situations, I expect people to follow my orders and grow annoyed if they do not.

Ideal:
1. Duty. I was just following orders. (Neutral)
2. Involved. The ultimate goal of war is to bring peace. (Good)
3. Pre-Emptive. War is the extreme response to eliminate those who would harm us. Hit them before they hit us. (Chaotic)
4. Organization. One thing I learned while in the military - following the structure of command will keep you alive. (Lawful)
5. War. I enjoy killing people. War was legalized murder for me. (Evil)
6. Necessity. War is something that is inevitable. It is best to be prepared for it so it can be concluded as efficiently and quickly as possible. (Any)

Bond:
1. This shield saved my life countless times. I won’t go anywhere without it.
2. I received a medal for bravery in battle. I wear it proudly.
3. There was a commander on the other side that I still want to see dead.
4. During one battle I was able to save a family caught in the wrong place. I still look out for them.
5. We had a mangy dog as a unit mascot. I took him with us when we left.
6. Not everyone in my unit mustered out when I did, but they are still family to me. I would do anything for them.

Flaw:
1. I’ve seen enough death to last a lifetime. I try to avoid combat as much as possible now.
2. The unit fell into disrepute due to something I failed to do. I carry this shame with me.
3. My hesitation caused the death of one of my comrades. I still blame myself and so do his family.
4. I rarely get a full night’s rest as I suffer nightmares from the horrors I’ve seen in battle.
5. I am always on high alert, never able to appear calm or in control. This makes it hard in personal interactions.
6. Sometimes I have flashbacks and think I’m back in a past battle.