Continued from Here.
Adam’s Druid decides that the never rotting flesh in the next room, plus the zombies that won’t rot are unnatural, and decides to summon insects to try and return natural order. The women panic, and take some reassurance to get settled down again.
The next idea involves taking the women to the “warm healing room” (#11), to see if it will regenerate their missing limbs, which the party assume were the hands that attacked them in the wand room (#6). The women are very unwilling, and require great amounts of persuasion (from Adam and Sebastian) to enter the room. Rightfully so, for as they enter, they are only able bask for a moment before incinerating to ash.
Confused, horrified, and disturbed, Adam and Sebastian exit the room, and inform the remainder of the party that the women are gone.
Bothered, but determined to push on, the party heads down to #7, where a clockwork trap (timer in chest, reset button on head) built into a suit of armour scares everybody for a while, before they let it count down, and the door to #8 opens. The next room is full of piles of rusting metal, and a treasure chest that instantly bounds away from the party.
Leading a merry chase, dodging sharp rusty shards, eventually the party catches the chest, using Colin in bat form to harass from above.
Upon opening, large chunks of metal fly from the chest, bonding instantly to Al’s Armour, adding 100 pounds to it’s weight. They appear to be impossible to remove. Al sheds the armour, as he’s too encumbered to move.
The party debates for some time, trying to determine if there is a way to remove the grimore from the the giant cat without being attacked by it AND the 100 other cats in the room (#2). Adam’s Druid is withdrawn, and sits petting cats while the party finished investigating the last 2 rooms, and deliberates.
Colin comes up with a plan, and stages himself on the library balcony (#1), facing the library. The others stand out side the doors to #3 and #7, out of “blast arc”. Colin then sounds the Horn of Blasting, which instantly throws the majority of the cats in the room against the far wall, dissipates the unseen servants, but fails to ruffle the fur of the large cat, much less displace it from it’s post. Pulped cats (probably about 70 of them) are plastered into the north wall.
The party reenter the room from the various doorways, amazed at the damage. Adam, horrified at the loss of life (after his recent unintentional maiden murder), flees back to the healing room (#11), too mortified to continue.
The rest of the party attack the lone Giant cat, attempting to destroy it, and free the book. It’s fast, but the party manage to slay it. It instantly rises again, however, slightly larger than before, and moving a little bit faster.
The party fights on, separating the cat from the book for a little while, but it aggressively attacks anybody holding, or nearest to the book. As it’s slain a second, and then third time, it grows even larger and faster.
Greg falls back to the healing room, heavily wounded, and heals up as much as he can before he can return to the party. The cat is slain another 2 times, now moving at amazing speeds, and the party is now quite concerned. It’s now far too fast to outrun, so the party can’t even escape the encounter.
Stepping in too close, Chet the summoned warrior goes down in a massive flurry of claws. He bleeds out as the party is too occupied to aid him. The party manages a sixth kill, and then Colin joins Chet, dead instead of just unconscious. Al & Sebastian fight on, both heavily wounded, until Greg returns, racing in to help.
Finally, with even Greg heavily wounded again, the cat is slain, and stays down. Adam’s druid turns to ash in the healing room, more than doubling his maximum hit points.
The grimore turns out to be a spellbook, with some fairly nice wizard spells for the party. The damage however, was very severe. Greg, Al, and Sebastian drag the 2 corpses to the healing room, but as they feared, it will not restore life to the dead.
In an act of desperation, Greg slips the brass gauntlet from Colin’s dead hand, picks up the white orb, and touches it to Colin. It resurrects Colin to everybody’s surprise. Amazed, Greg restores Chet, and Adam’s deceased Elven fighter he’s been carrying for weeks in the bag of holding.
Restored, the party is ready to continue their adventures…
The party takes the dogleg turn north/west, and then continues north again at the junction to approach room #9.
Here an alter of white marble, streaked with pink sits, framed by large brass doors to the east and west. On the Alter sits 2 spheres, one pure white, one pure black. A brass gauntlet, covered in intricate detailing sits between them.
On the North wall, a cutout widow swirls with light and darkness, punctuated with flashes of lightning.
With some religion and spellcraft, iconography on the alter is revealed to state “life and death are punishment for the uninitiated, power for the chosen”.
Wary of the message, and uncertain of how to proceed, Colin slips on the gauntlet, and decides to “initiate” by entering the two brass doors.
Starting with the left, the brass door is quite cold to the touch, and as it pushes open, there is the gasp of indrawn air, if as the door was suctioned closed. No light or sound seems to penetrate the room, and Colin steps in, and immediately disappears from view. He immediately feels very cold, and hopeless. He attempts a light spell, but sees no illumination.
He begins taking damage, first quite minimally, and then adding up quickly.
After a duration, Greg decides a rescue is in order, ties a rope to his belt, dives in, leaving the party with the other end.
Grappling in the void, Greg takes hold of a shape, and pulls the cord to indicate he needs to be retracted. The party pulls him out, and sees that he’s holding a physical shadow, torn from the darkness.
The party attacks, and quickly discovers that non magical attacks heal instantly. Only magic seems to affect the creature. Sebastian begins to lash out with his magical mustache, Al wields a bronze spear, and Greg un-sheaths a set of javelins from earlier adventures. Adam mutters a cause light wounds, and falls to his boxing proficiency.
With the combined might, the shadow falls to the party. Meanwhile, Colin eventually finds a door on the north wall, still suffering damage every round, and near death. He falls through, and quickly quaffs a healing potion.
He peers down the hall into room #12, and the enters the space, silently. On a peg on the wall just in side the room he finds a number of cloaks. The center of the roof is a giant open column, stretching off into the darkness above.
With some experimentation, he determines that he can grip the cloak’s edges, and leap, transforming into a gigantic bat, and fly around. Landing again, he decides to rejoin the party, via the alternative south door (#11).
This room is the opposite of it’s partner, actually healing Colin as he passes. It’s warm, radiant (blindingly so, if you attempt to keep your eyes open), and he makes it through without peril. He rejoins the party, many of whom decide to take part of this healing chamber as well.
The party decides to proceed back through the floor plan to room #4, and discovers it contains a large slab butchering table, with dirty, used instruments, and unidentifiable portions of remains scattered about.
The Door to the south leads into Room #5, which is full (wall to wall) of cages, filled with young women, all missing their hands. After the party assures them they mean no harm, they beg to be freed. They warn however, that the wall lever opens all the cages at once. The cages farthest from the wall actually contained zombie women, some of the oldest prisoners of the room.
The party dispatches the zombies through the bars, then frees the women.
The party gathers after completing the fire node, and attempt to rest in the central room, but are disturbed by a Fire Elemental which chases them from the node. Adam keeps it at bay with the fire key, as the party retreats.
It’s a moderate climb, but Colin, aided with rope and pitons climbs 60’ with a guide rope, bring us all up after. He lands on a windswept balcony, with an iron railing, and with heavy red velvet curtains partially obscuring the door beyond. The door appears to be pine, swollen and soft with age and neglect.
On the balcony rests a deck of cards, sitting on a plain round table. While waiting for the remainder of the party to ascend, Colin draws a card. It’s the Jack of Hearts. A young male human fighter appears suddenly, armed with a broadsword, and chainmail. He says he’s here to help, and his name is Chet. He can’t remember any other details of his previous life, or any more about himself.
At this point the remainder of the party has ascended, and approach the desk as well. Krispy goes for broke, and draws a pair of cards. The first, a “marked joker” makes him lose 10,000 xp, and drop in level. The second is the Jack of Hearts again, and this time summons Fran, a female fighter in Plate Mail (really?) with a short sword and bow. She also only remembers her name, and that her mother was named Christina.
Greg draws the Jack of Diamonds, and gains 2 points of wisdom.
Adam draws the Queen of Clubs, and has a weird sense of great foreboding, leaving him vaguely unsettled.
Sebastian and Al pass on drawing a card. Colin attempts another draw, and determines that he is unable.
The party turns to face the door, puzzling how to enter. Adam recalls that the elemental tokens were referred to as the key to the next level, and places the fire token against the panel, where it softly sinks into the surface.
After the other 3 tokens are presented, the door opens.
The room within is a 2 story library, open floor with railings to support the second story of books and ladders without. It’s 75’ x 100’ and contains at least 100 cats, sprawled throughout the entirety of the room. Damage to books is very evident, both from scratching and urine. A very large cat sits near the center of the room, apparently reading from a grimore.
When approached, the large cat gets quite hostile, preparing to attack if neared. Adam’s Charm Person or Mammal refuses to “lock on” to the target, indicating that the cat is not as it appears (to no one’s surprise).
The other cats in the room are very friendly, and are evidently cared for by some number of Unseen Servants, feeding and cleaning up after the animals.
The party checks the room for useful/undamaged texts while Adam plays with cats. They recover 10 volumes, at 5 lbs each. Titles include Hitchman’s Guide to Nature, Ellington’s Fabulous tome of sequins and accouterments, Monkey Vol 2, Playa’s Handbook, the Guide to Halflings and lesser species, a script for a Play called Avatar, and the like. The party evaluates their worth at 500gp each (failed appraisal).
The cats refuse to leave the room.
A doorway sits in the middle of the east and west walls.
To the west is a 10’ hall, ending in a pit, filled with rusting iron.
To the east is a 40’ hall, and smells strongly of feces and spoiled meat. It junctions at the end of the 40’ length, going North and South. At the junction is another pit, clearly the source of the smell. It looks like this is where the Unseen Servants dispose of the cat waste.
North from this junction, the door opens into an L Shaped Room. The walls are filled with shelves, with wands of every color, shape and condition laid out. A large work area dominates one wall. The passage continues to the north after the room.
Sebastian detects a Fire Trap in the center of the room, and urges caution.
15 additional hands scutter from the shadows, threatening more directly.
The party dispatches all 20 hands eventually, and claim the identified wands as below:
Magic Missile (15c) – Krispy
Wand of Illumination (10c) – Al
Wand of Paralyzation (14c) – Colin
Wand of Detect Magic (21c) – Krispy
Wand of Slow (7c) – Al
Krispy also finds a wand unused by the hands, marked as a Wand of Fire (20c).
Adam collects a few useable hand tools (pliers, dented bell, and 6’ of light chain).
Until the next adventure…
When we last left our brave adventurers;
Inside the wizards tower, they approached the Hall of Fire. A eastern stone corridor opens to lava stone, and continues for 30’ before opening to a 30’ circular chamber with passages leading to the North, SE, and SW.
A 6’ wide pool sits in the middle of the chamber. A flame burns constantly on the surface, never seeming to diminish the volume of the liquid. An earthenware bottle floats directly in the middle of the pool. Fearing a trap, Al summons an Unseen Servant, who safely retrieves the bottle.
The party hears grumbling drifting from the SW room, in common. A male voice complains of food quality and temperature, and the tea.
Colin stealthily creeps ahead of the party to investigate. The corridor is only 10’ long, and opens into another 30’ circular chamber, all decorated in red. It’s very elegant, heavily lacquered furniture, hung with deep red curtains around the perimeter. A man sits along a chaise by a samovar of tea, and has a large spread of food laid out before him on a short table. He reclines wearing a belted robe, but chainmail is visible underneath, and he has a sword belted at his hip. A tall spear rests nearby.
Splayed out on the floor in front and the right of the man lay 3 figures. The two larger humans appear to be deceased, though probably recently (one male cleric?, one female ?). The third figure is a robed gnome, clearly breathing, but unconscious and bound at wrist and ankle.
Colin uses the curtains to circumnavigate the room, ending behind the chaise. With a careful lunge, he strikes for a backstab. Unfortunately, right as he stabs, the man leans forward to grab a bite from the table, and the strike glances from the chainmail harmlessly.
Colin shouts to the party as the man rises, angered, and still unharmed. Al reacts quickly, and orders the Unseen Servant to draw the man’s sword, and retreat with it into the other room. The servant obeys, dragging it away from the battle. As the rest of the party enters the room, one of the platters on the table flips of its own accord, spilling a brown pudding to the floor, which begins oozing toward the party.
Greg bravely battles the ooze, as Colin stands off against the man, who’s now holding the spear. Sebastian attacks away with his magic mustache, and Adam cures, bark skins, heat metal’s the chainmail and samovar in the backfield. Al drags the unconscious Gnome from the room into the hall, and releases his bonds.
As the battle continues, the man eventually falls to the combined forces, but not before the curtains and ooze are set afire in an attempt to attack the two foes. Greg battles on, while Colin tears down curtains to stamp down the blaze, and Adam attempts to recover the food and tea.
After the ooze is finally dispatched, the party heals a little more, and then journeys on.
Back in the main room, the SE passage leads to another 30’ round room, with a large starburst pattern overhead. Two hands hold up high (what? I don’t even remember what I was writing here). Lots of beakers (???)
The party decides to not mess with any of that right now, and heads back, and then into the North passage. Again, a round 30’ space, this time with a 10’ wide pit of burning flames in the center, and 8 braziers spaced around the room. A large scaled fire elemental sits within the pit, and threatens the party, surging forward.
Greg quickly casts hold person, and Al and Adam bind it with some hemp rope. The skin of the creature begins burning the rope, so they know they’ll be unable to restrain it. They offer a quick coup de grace, and Adam sets about butchering the creature, looking for an amulet within.
Foiled, the party turns to the braziers, which seem to spawn pairs of smaller elementals when approached.
Finally, with a careful measurement, and some deliberation, Adam creates a disc of water, saturating the pit. The Amulet of Fire is then exposed within, that Adam recovers.
Still not certain what to do with the initial earthenware bottle, and fearing a trap, the party sends the unseen servant into the SW room, and tells it to open the vial. It explodes, destroying the servant, the remainder of the room, and validating the party’s concern.
Overall, I think I give the system a failing grade.
There are certainly things I enjoyed, and aspects I was a fan of, but overall the system seemed really overbalanced in a couple of major ways.
First, the whole no attributes, just bonuses, was a major loss for me. The need to roll under an ability was a major component of D&D all along. I really don’t appreciate how close they made the tests, regardless of level. In “classic” D&D, a 15 in a stat was worlds above a 10, and actually made you 75% likely to pass a skill check, instead of 50%. Now a 15 is only 2 points or +10% to a roll. Everything comes down to that roll now, and the ability score is virtually non-impactful.
Frankly, since they are never referenced, or used in any way, why does this system even have ability scores? Just list a modifier.
I’m also not a fan of the whole +2 proficiency bonus across the board. Fighters should be proficient with certain weapons or classes of weapons, and should be far better at using them than the other classes. Clerics and Wizards should get more “tool” or non-weapon proficiencies, or be better at them in some way. Also, whatever happened to thief skills? How does a thief notice, or disarm a trap? We found Steath as a skill, but nothing else, really.
Along those lines, it seems that the passive Wisdom (Perception) skill was critical. The included scenario used it extensively to notice LOTS of things about the environment, ambushes, traps, and the like. That one skill score was far more valuable than anything else in the game, and that felt very wrong.
Damage seemed to be heavily ramped up as well. Goblins, as 1 HD monsters, had a +2 prof check to their hits, and also had a baseline dex and str to add a +2 to hit, and DAMAGE at ranged, and close combat, meaning they hit on a 10+ to most of the party (most were AC 14). Then they’d also get 1D6 +2 damage, which generally could incapacitate in 2 hits. Going back, a 1st level monster was 20 THAC0, attacking a party member with AC 6 (the old equivalent) would need a 14 to hit, an almost 50% harder hit. Again, with no damage bonus, that straight D6 damage will average to a 3.5, which a character can react to better than the 5.5 average that the 5th ed goblins dish out.
Anyway, enough negative.
Here are a few things I like (and frankly, all of which are easy to cut out and use in other editions, or even other systems):
Equipment kits. A great simple way to output characters faster. It’s optional, but gives characters (especially new players to the game) what they need to get in, and start playing.
Advantage. Because this system was all or nothing on the die roll, advantage/disadvantage was devastating in play. With a system that used higher starting values to test against, it would be advantageous, but not game shatteringly so. Same for disadvantage.
Backgrounds. The fact that these archtypes added an additional aspect to each of the character classes, AND an in game, tangible benefit was very nice. The traits, ideals and bonds really added additional depth. These were pre-gen characters without even a name, but because of this part of the system, they had depth, and personality.
Things I’m a little more on the fence about:
Cantrips. Unlimited casting is nice, so the wizard / cleric can still be contributing to the game when their 1 or 2 spells is exhausted. The cantrips in this edition were WAY too powerful though.
One cleric ranged cantrip was a 60’ D8 damage. Better than my Halfling archer could do (even if the monster got a save to remove damage). The cleric didn’t even need a clear line of sight.
Another allowed for minor earthquakes, throwing a voice, trippling the voices volume, and throwing lights or other distractions, up to 3 effects at a time. A shrewd player could cause all KINDS of havoc with that.
Anyone else have some thoughts to share?
I generally play AD&D 1st and 2nd editions, was very not fond of 2.5, 3, 3.5 and 4, so I got interested when it was mentioned that the 5th Edition, also referred to as Next, and simply Dungeons and Dragons, would be more reminicient of those earlier days.
I snagged the free rulebook off wizard’s site (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/basicrules), which I thought was a great way to get people excited about a new edition, and then I also grabbed the starter set, very reasonably priced at $20.
So, with those 2 resources, here’s my initial impression (pre-play) from a AD&D 2nd perspective:
Advantage/Disadvantage: If the DM thinks you’re in either of these 2 scenarios, you roll 2 D20, and pick the highest if you’re in advantage, and lower if you’re in disadvantage. A lot of the old racial traits (elven charm resistance, Halfling bravery) have been changed to advantage rolls. Sneak Attack for thieves requires you to be in “advantage” status.
Trait checks: Everything is now a positive number, always. To test traits, you roll a D20, and add your trait bonus against a difficulty number. No more rolling UNDER your trait. This means a stat of 10 and a stat of 13 only have 1 difference on your die rolls (+0 for 10, +1 for 13).
Proficiency: there are now tool proficiencies in addition to weapon proficiencies. Prof Bonuses are also the same for all classes now, and based on level (I think this will probably be a basic only rule, and will probably be dropped in the PHB). If you are proficient in something, you roll your die, add any trait bonus, and add any proficiency bonus. (ie. Attack Roll 12, +1 for strength, +2 for prof bonus = 15).
- Targeted Spells also get a proficiency bonus.
- No negatives for NOT being proficient, just no bonus.
Rests: There are now short rests and long rests. Short rests allow characters to “spend” Hit Dice to roll a hit die + their constitution and recover that many HPs. “Spent” HD recover after a long rest. You still need long rests to do spells. Fighters also have a “second wind” ability they can use to recover 1HD worth of HP any turn, which refreshes with a short rest (Basically, a lot of this seems to be taking the cleric / healing potion need away).
Death: No more -10. Unconscious at 0, dead at your –total hit points. So for a first level thief at 6hp, he’s dead at -6. For a 10th lvl fighter at 54 hps, he gets to go all the way to -54. You can also “self stabilize” if you succeed in a special save vs death roll 3 times.
Saving Throws: Speaking of saves, there really aren’t any any more. Casters set the difficulty of the resistance to their spells, based on their level (the 2 pre-gen casters are both resisted at a DC 13). I presume traps will also
- No more speed factor. Initiative in combat is just D20 + Dex modifier.
- Ranged weapons all have melee stats to be used as an improvised club (lol).
- One move, one action in either order, each round. It can even be broken up (move 10ft, attack, move 20ft).
- Some fairly extensive free actions as well (withdraw a potion from your backpack is a free action? That seems really involved).
- Critical hits now roll dice twice, then add modifiers, instead of doubling damage. (dagger crit is 2d4+bonus, instead of (1d4+bonus)*2).
That’s a pretty broad understanding of the changes so far, I’ll report back after my first game with some impressions, and any other changes.
I’m writing this article to talk about the campaign maps that I’ve created for Warhammer Fantasy, but the methods and tools used here can relate to any other Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or other setting.
The first step of course, is to find a high resolution image of the region that you wish to base the campaign on. The higher resolution that you can find, the better. It’s likely that other components that you use or output resolutions will be smaller, but it’s far better to lower a resolution than try to increase one.
For Warhammer, this is often found via the resources published for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game, which has some really great high resolution images. If you’re using Google, you can tell it only to return images of a certain resolution or higher, which is an excellent way to filter search results.
Of course, if you have access to source books, a really high resolution scanner can do wonders in making your own campaign map directly from the source materials. If you don’t have your own, a college campus is a great resource both at this stage, and at the printing stage. For example, our college campus prints Posters for $10 USD flat, while the local Fed Ex Office store is $1 a square foot. If you’re not a student, I’ll bet you can find one at your FLGS. :)
Grid / Overlay
After obtaining a source image, you need a overlay in whatever format you’re using. Most campaigns prefer a Hex overlay, but there are certainly maps that follow natural borders (which would have to be overlaid by hand), or squares. The important part here is that your space between the overlay is TRANSPARENT, not white, which many grids use. This will allow it to land over your map without having to delete all the hex internals (which you certainly don’t want to do). It also allows you to do “fills” with your chosen army colors, to show ownership as it shifts throughout the campaign. Size isn’t AS critical here, as you can resize a hex fairly simply to make it fit better.
There is a good sample transparent grid here: http://www.forum.koboldenterprise.com/index.php?action=gallery;sa=view&id=19 which I’ll re-host here in case the source goes down.
For a square, Here’s a dot based grid: http://thepiggroup.blogspot.com/2012/05/exercise-in-lines-dotted.html linked locally to the right.
Or a more traditional “line” grid here: http://www.rpgcrossing.com/showthread.php?p=3914838
For my projects I’ve used Photoshop (full version), but I’d expect that Gimp, or Photoshop Express might work well. The critical thing you really need is software that can handle layers, and hopefully layer grouping.
You’ll want a:
- blank (preferably transparent) background layer
- a base layer for your map image
- a “map modify layer” where you’d add roads, villages, move mountains, or whatever other “structural” changes you want.
- A “base overlay” layer, which you might have to play with a lot, re-sizing and re-importing until your overlay is the exact size you want, to separate the map components properly.
- One layer (at least, we’ll talk on this more) PER ARMY that is a duplicate of the base overlay. These layers will be partially transparent, and if you have “stronger” colors that require different levels of transparency, this give you that capability.
- One layer for labeling your overlay (numbered hexes, or a A-Z and 1-00 column row system). You could also add the Legend to this layer, or make it it’s own.
- One layer per “icon” or playing piece you’ll simulate moving around the board. Much easier than cutting and pasting as you change turns. If army tokens are destroyed, and need to regenerate at capitals, you can also just hide the layer for a turn before re positioning.
I’ll try and put together a quick video of this process. If so, I’ll link it here instead of this text.
Next section, coming soon!