Friday, July 29, 2011
So to start my new home campaign I’ve decided to try out Dawn of Worlds. For those of you who don’t know, Dawn of Worlds is a fantasy-based world generator game. The game was designed by Legends, a group of rouge game designers from clanwebsite.org. I know very little about the designers but I’ve heard rumors that they are working on a new version of the game but the original version that released in 2005 is free for download. Feel free to visit their website and download the pdf of Dawn of Worlds at your leisure. In the Game, the group leader draws up a blank map of a world. Then each player in turn order begins to add to the world to create a unique setting for whatever game you may be playing. The game is not rooted in any one system of role-play. In fact, any fantasy game from D&D, World of Darkness, and the Dresden Files could combine this game to its set-up.
I think this game is amazing. It allows my players and I to equally participate in the development of our own fantasy world. Players can feed off each other’s ideas and react to changes in the environment to create a rich history of a fantasy epic perfectly tailored to our desires. My hope is that my experience with Dawn of Worlds will inspire you, the reader, to at least check it out, browse over it, and maybe give it a whirl.
For my first session we were missing a few players sadly but I felt like we had to get the ball rolling. Even though this was my first time running/playing Dawn of Worlds and I knew that it was going to take a long time to play. The game is divided into 3 ages; Creation, Population, and Civilization. So I tried to time it out so that we could finish at least one age per session. At a rate of one session per week, then world creation should be done by week 3 and we could start playing D&D in our custom world by week 4. Sence we had our first session this week, I want to share with ya’ll how our world is turning out to be so far. During game play, we each decided to take on the role of a deity of our own design. I had no idea what kind of god I would turn out to be but it is really interesting to see the dynamics that build between the players and the world itself.
The Briefest History of Astra
Years 0-5,000 of the 1st Age
The World of Astra was founded by Four gods of Creation. Rekoligo (Josh) the gatherer, he preferred to be inspired by creation and manipulate and make it beautiful and grand. Far-Mor (HumorousEndeavors) the Never Sleeping Frost god, he forges mountains and breaths a cold wind that covers the land in Ice. Dra (Ryan) the Dragon god, he erupts volcanoes and covers the land in flame while his dragons roam the skies of Astra unchallenged. Khauzdul (Scott Farspell) the Dwarf god, he raised the highest mountains and forged the strongest of races, his burly Dwarves who seek honor in a hard day’s labor.
In the first millennia of the first age, Far-Mor began to raise mountains in the north and covered the land with his Frost Winds creating the Frost Lands. Rekoligo took the Frost Winds and created Hiber, an angelic being who embodies the Season of Winter. The others slumbered.
In the 2nd millennia, Far-Mor Raised the High Top Mountains and continued to spread his Frost Winds. Dra began on an island in the far East by creating the Fire Dragons, a race of dragons whose bodies are engulfed in flame. He also created a massive volcano that would rival the High Top Mountains in size. But Khauzdul raised the largest single mountain ever seen in the middle of the Frost Lands, the Dawn Forge Mountain. While Rekoligo sent his servant Hiber to visit the Fire Dragons, which he befriended them and brought some back to the Frost Lands where the cold doused their flames, turning them into Stone Dragons
In the 3rd Millenia, Far-Mor created the frozen lake of Rym between the High Tops and the Dawn Forge, in honor his kinship with Khauzdul. Dra covered his island of Dragons in fire and called it the Burning Lands. While, Rekoligo created the beautiful Hiber-Mor Forest on the northern coast of the frost lands. And Khauzdul created the Dwarves and placed them in the Dawn Forge Mountains.
By the 4th Millenia, Rekoligo built the great Vaerym City for the Dwarves of the Dawn Forge Mountains and commanded Hider to anoint the Stone Dragons as the guardians of the Frost Lands. Far-Mor Continued to spread the Frost Winds across the land. While Khauzdul raised the Hiber Rift mountain range to protect his Dwarves, Dra created the Elm of Ages, a giant tree which emanates life extending magic.
The 5th age begins with Rekoligo’s Great Forest which sprang up around the Elm of Ages. He also created Willow the tree Ent, guardian of the Great Forest. Far-Mor created a son from rock and ice which he named Roc-Mor the stone giant. Dra continued to scotch the Burning Lands and add to the Great Forest, while Khauldul fell back into slumber.
5000 years of History in one 3 hour session. I had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to play again next week. I’m curious to see how some of the elements in our game will translate to D&D but so far the themes of Astra has not strayed too far from traditional fantasy. The best part about the creation process isn’t the creation itself but the story that develops. The gods, creatures and even the land begins to take on personalities of their own and I found myself being inspired by the other players as the game progressed. My only criticisms are that it does take a long time to play and some rules are still a little vague. I was hoping we would be done with the first age this week but it is going to take at least one more 3 hour session.
Next Week we will start in the year 5000.
Until next time, keep playing.
Monday, July 25, 2011
It's called Call of the Dream and is loosely (or heavily) based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Devan is a big fan of the Necronomicon and the narrative of Lovecraft's design definitely comes through in the adventure. It is based off of D&D4E (cause that's how we roll), but Devan also made a little tweak to the rules to help capture the feelings of insanity that comes with the world of darkness that Lovecraft details.
We are planning to put together a PDF of the adventure with all the information required to run it.
To test it out, Devan ran through the adventure with a small group of people (me included!) and that playtest is available here to check out! Enjoy!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
So it has been exactly a month sence we posted the latest Episode of Gold, Frankincense and Murder. Sadly the summer is coming to a close and it is time to bury the hatchet on the Red Box adventure.
Overall, I liked the Twisting Halls adventure. It had everything you need for a good game from Dragons, magical puzzles, treasure, and a little bit of mystery. I would recommend the Red Box as the perfect starting game for someone who is new to the game, but experienced players might think that this adventure is generic because that is what it is. It is a generic dungeon crawl, perfected for rookies but a little bland for a pro.
I will miss the Red Box but I'm excited for our next adventure.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Who here doesn’t like beating shit up? Heck it’s one of the main reasons we play D&D, so we can act out our fantasies of revenge and dish out our own brand of justice. But sometimes that desire can get in the way of a fun game.
The striker role in 4e is probably the most popular role in the game and understandably so. Everyone likes being the party bad ass, the one who can really throw down when push comes to shove. But this can sometimes lead to problems because no matter how tough of an assassin, rogue, or barbarian you are if you can’t stay up you can’t fight. It won’t matter how many healing surges you have if you can’t expend them to stay in the fight. It’ll never matter how much sneak attack damage you can do if you can’t get combat advantage to use it.
And what about when you just absolutely need to hit an enemy and could use the extra buffs? This is why there are leader characters. Leaders characters are probably the most unappealing characters at first glance. I mean just take a look at how many rogue, paladin, and warrior players there are in World of Warcraft and then and then compare that to how many priests and healer players there are. Why everyone hates playing the healer I will never know but it really confuses me. If my past and present gaming experience in D&D/4e are anything what yours are like then you will be aware that usually people have to be forced or coerced into playing healers. More on that latter though.
What use is a striker against large groups of enemies? Even if it’s just a group of minions if you’re a striker you can easily be overtaken in just a few rounds. Since strikers usually focus on a single enemy at a time (the Barbarians charging, the Avengers Oath of Enmity, the Rogues Sneak Attack) they can be easily defeated if they find themselves surrounded or singled out. This is where the Controller role comes in. With their large bursts and blasts that can not only deal out the AOE damage but also help in keeping enemies busy and off the Strikers back.
And how about Defenders? Strikers tend to have the lowest AC, the defense that the majority of attacks target, which means they are very easily hit and can go down with only a few well rolled strikes. Paladin’s are a Strikers best friend. Not only because they mark the shit out everyone taking all the agro, but because they allow the strikers to sneak around back and get combat advantage or to single out an enemy and focus on it entirely without having to worry about his guards jumping into the fray.
What I’m trying to get at here is that Dungeons and Dragons is a game that is designed to be played with these four roles in each party. The game is not designed to be played by a party of all Strikers or all Defenders or what have you. If you do so you “break” the game. A party with four or five rogues will die within a few encounters and only by the DM making vast, huge breaks in the games core structure will it ever work. I know that it sounds as if I’m being hard on people who want to play as strikers but I’m not. All I’m simply trying to get across is that not everyone can play a striker and why not try branching out? Try playing a Cleric or Warlord or maybe a Wizard or Paladin, give another role a try and you might be surprised that you like it better, but no matter what you do, make sure to let the D20’s roll like milk and honey.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
But the big thing that caught my eye was a particular creature highlighted in the back of the book. There is a host of really cool factions and different monsters and power players to include in any game setting, but the very last entry was something special to me.
The Widow of the Walk is described as a matriarch of a mercantile family who moved against the local leadership. In the battle of the noble families, all of her children were killed and when she died her spirit was condemned to walk the city looking for her lost children. Now the crunch behind this creature is truly impressive. She is a SOLO of almost epic level and she doesn't have a single ability that is a direct attack power. She doesn't even have an ability that costs a standard action! When I started reading it over, I was taken aback and really just not too interested in this monster that doesn't attack. But then I saw what she could do and just how impressive it was.
First off, the Widow is a ghost so she has some insubstantial effects that is good, but she also has a minor action ability that basically demands the target ends their turn next to her or take auto damage (and pretty substantial damage). Essentially, Mother demands you come home. Creepy! Then her abilities are all triggered. If an enemy ends their turn within 5 squares of her, she dominates them and specifically convinces them they are one of her dead children. She has tactics and bonuses for the specific children coming into play, but for the rest of the encounter she just sits back and lets the party tear themselves apart. It is all constructed in such a way that it protects the Widow from the Solo problems that have come up in monster design before. This is such a fascinating concept, a monster that doesn't directly attack the party, but really takes them under her wing and drives them mad. This was a really good way to simulate the possession concept and creates a really difficult encounter, no matter the location. I was totally challenged by the concept behind this because it makes a lot of narrative sense, but isn't something incredibly intuitive in the way I plan. So kudos to the developers and my party had better beware because this unconventional Solo changed the way I think about how monsters function.
Sunday, July 10, 2011