Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pathfinder Does a Beginner Box


Ok, so a project that was supposed to be due sometime in mid-November is now due by November 1st, which means blogging will be spotty until next month. Even my regular gaming has been thrown off schedule. This is what I get for boasting about how we play nearly every week. For those of you to whom I owe writing, yeah, might be a little late because of this. Basically, work is sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

Paizo's decided they wanted to get in on the box action, and they're launching their beginner box this month. It includes a 64 page player's book (nice traditional page-count there) that will get you all the way through 5th level. The pre-gen character sheets are done up to explain how to use the stuff on the sheet to minimize running back to the book. There's also a DM's book that's twice as long that includes an intro adventure that introduces different aspects one-per-room (the first room involves a skill check, the next room has a combat, etc.). It also includes 100+ monsters with a much more strealined statblock (still not old-school simple, but surprisingly sleek for 3.x game) and advice on building your own adventures. Plus other goodies:

Frankly, the neatest parts to me are the character sheets for the pre-gens that give you the basics right on the sheet. For a game as complex as 3.x, that seems pretty vital to me. I'm also intrigued by the implication made towards solo play out of the box (though no details, so possibly I misunderstood that part).

The box comes out in late October and retails for $35. That's probably still in the impulse-buy range for people with jobs and comfortably below the price of a new computer or console game. The challenge for Paizo will be getting it in front of potential new players; their strength has always been in catering to the existing 3.x community, and I doubt they're going to have penetration into WalMart or Target.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hex Mapping Part 18: In the Hot Seat

On the subject of random tables, someone recently asked me, "how much is enough?" That really depends on you and your skills as a DM.

The dungeon isn't just easier for players. It's also noticeably easier for GM's. Each room is usually a unique experience. You almost never see dungeons consisting of the same type of room over and over again. Why would you do that to your players? It's boring.

Now let's take a look at our wilderness map. It's got a lot of the same sort of hexes right next to each other. To the west, we have lots and lots of savanna. In the east, it's lots and lots of jungle. In terms of geography this looks right. In terms of running a D&D adventure this looks like a nightmare. How in the world are you going to prevent this hex crawl from devolving into an endless repetition of "another two hexes of jungle"?

If you happen to be one of these amazingly creative types who can come up with interesting stuff on the spur of the moment, you've got no problem. This map plus some wandering monster tables should give you all you need to create interesting terrain and situations for your players to deal with. If that's not you, however, you might want more help. And you can give yourself all the help you need with more random tables!

Keep in mind, however, that were still talking about a fairly gross scale for all of this. So the sort of things we want to be talking about are probably going to be those things that you almost assuredly can't miss if you enter one of our 6 mile hexes. So most of the interesting features we should be talking about need to be at least a mile long, tall enough to be seen from miles away, or extremely flashy.

Any day (but not night) where a random monster isn't encountered, or some other interesting terrain feature (like a village or river) isn't encountered, roll a d12 and consult the following table for the jungle:

1: Nothing.

2: More nothing.

3: Even more nothing.

4: Short cliff of obsidian, measuring 3d4 feet high and 1d4 miles long.

5: Elven ruins built around a circle of massive crystal menhirs. Any magic-user spells cast while standing inside the circle are treated as being cast by a magic-user or elf of 150% their level (round down). If the moon is full, then treat the spell as being cast by someone with twice the level of the caster.

6: Empty monster lair. Roll on the wandering monster to table to see the type of monster, then roll for its treasure as per normal. 1d6 x 10% of the rolled treasure is here. If the monster rolled is sentient, there may be traps.

7: Quicksand! Double movement penalties through one hex.

8: Ancient Goblin Burial Ground. If players search this area, they can collect 2d100 copper pieces, 1d100 silver pieces, and 10d100 gold pieces worth of jewelry every hour, for 1d4 hours. However, for every hour that they actually find something, there is a 1-in-4 chance that they will be assaulted by 1d100 goblin skeletons the following night.

9: PCs stumble across the corpse of a dead adventurer. The human died of disease and/or infected wounds. The corpse will have fairly standard adventuring gear, plus one random potion. There's a 1-in-6 chance the corpse was carrying a map of the area and that this map hasn't been completely destroyed by moisture. It will reveal 1d4 hexes in each direction from the current location (roll separately
for each direction).

10: Ancient Shrine. Roll randomly to determine the alignment of the deities the shrine was dedicated to. Clerics of compatible alignments who meditate or pray at this shrine will be able to cast an additional 1st level spell the next day. Clerics of the opposite alignment will have the next spell they cast with a random component behave as if the lowest possible number was rolled.

11: An especially monstrous tree. If the PCs scale the tree to its top (this will eat 3 hours for up and down) they can map out every surrounding hex.

12: PCs stumble across the entrance to a dungeon!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

What You May Have Missed: Romancing the Clone

Yes, I'm still alive! Just busy as all get-out. New text-mapping posts should be showing up next week.

In the meantime, unless you are a fan of 3.x gaming you may have missed what Paizo's been up to lately. Of particular interest to me have been attempts to add rules for romance into the game. As you'd likely expect, they seem heavily influenced by computer RPG tropes. We don't see the actual rules here, but we do see that there is a romance score, preferred gifts, and hated insults. At a guess, you ply your character's object of affection with gifts and services to, in effect, "buy" their romantic interest.

An interesting twist on this idea is the inclusion of a devotion boon. This is the mechanical bonus your character gets when they have earned enough of the NPC's affection. There's also an enmity boon that I assume you acquire if the score goes too far in the opposite direction. It's a neat idea, and I would be shocked if the notion isn't picked up by outfits like BioWare.

In other news, Paizo has also optimized their online rules resource document for viewing via phones and tablets. I imagine this will be a huge boon for their players of their game in the coming years.