Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by LightWarden, Mar 5, 2005.
Going to my first D20 session tonight! Wish me luck.
Just out of interest, is anyone up for 3rd ed D&D played in this environment? I haven't touched my sourcebooks for ages, and I admit I've only got the old original 3rd ed version, but is anyone up to do something along these lines? Light?
Do you have to even ask?
Heh. Anyone else?
If you can explain the rules in itty bitty words to me I'll play.
Do I have an advance on 2?
And incidentally, does anyone want to GM it? I'd volunteer for the duty as a last resort, but I'm really crapped out busy with my kid at the moment, and to add GM duties would put me really under the pump. Besides, it strikes me that other folks have got a lot better idea of how to implement something like this in a board format. Also, again while I'm willing to go with everyone else's ideas, may I tentatively suggest Forgotten Realms as the milieu?
Well, I have a rather nifty and exciting module I'd like to run, but I don't have time to be a full GM on a game. At the very least, it wouldn't be too hard to run a very basic demonstration of D&D along the lines of [link=http://www.wizards.com/playdnd/playdnd.asp]the demo[/link] to walk through and explain how things work, then start a more plot, action and character-intensive module/mini-campaign of heroism and such.
LightWarden: On a reconsideration it was probably a bit rude for me to say "Anyone want to start up a D&D RPG" and then ask someone else to do all the work. So I'll volunteer for GM duty, on the proviso I might not be able to do regular posts/updates depending on how my work schedule goes. Fortunately the planning process should be easy, though: I've actually got an old homecooked Forgotten Realms adventure which I started with a tabletop party but never completed thanks to player movement issues (as in to the other side of the country). It *is* site-based rather than event-based, but I'm a sucker for the dungeon crawl, so with everyone's tacit permission I'll run that one. One thing: it is really geared for level 5/6 characters, so it won't be the ideal "starting adventurer" shtick, but on the upside at least people can deal out some meaty blows...?
I agree with you a "demo" sort of scenario is probably the best way to teach it, too, so I'll start knocking something together. I'll send some PMs about to a couple of folks since not everyone reads the thread -- actually a note to the RPG discussion list is probably a good idea too -- and I'll aim for minimum of 4, maximum of 6 players to suit the overall adventure. Sound okay?
DarthXan318: Xan, if you've played any of the D&D computer-based RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, or even old chestnuts like Pool of Radiance or Curse of the Azure Bonds, the system is roughly represented in any of those games and if you're familiar with that you'll probably pick up the formal tabletop version of D&D fairly quickly. I'm assuming, though, that you haven't seen any of those games. So, at the risk of Lightwarden throwing virtual tomatoes at me for my horrible "York Notes" version of the system, I'll try and give a very rough overview of how things work.
Saintheart presents: a rough overview of the D&D system!
Fundamentally, the D&D system is a set of rules designed to control the outcomes of interactions and consequences in a fantasy setting. The rules give you a mechanism for arbitrating who wins a fight, a debate, a duel of magic, etc, etc -- remembering always that the rules are an adjunct for the roleplaying in the story, not an end to themselves.
The primary tool for this, under the present system, is a twenty-sided dice, called in shorthand a d20. Your success at performing a particular task -- swordfighting, ropeclimbing, you name it -- is usually decided by rolling a number on the d20 which represents the difficulty of the task you're trying to do (called the Difficulty Class, or DC.) For example, the rather weedy character Conan the Librarian is attempting to dance on the head of a pin. It's a very hard thing to do, so the number he's trying to roll is 19 on a d20. Needless to say the chances of success are very low, but there is the possibility of success nonetheless.
How a character's aptitudes, training, or abilities factor into this is usually in the way of a bonus, or modifier, that you can make to your score on the d20 roll. Conan the Librarian, for example, is a rather bulky fellow who has done a lot of reading and doesn't dance as a rule. As such he doesn't get to add any modifiers to his roll. By contrast, Arthur the Artful Dodger, a slick thief who's been stealing purses since he was 5 years old, has developed a lot of skill at delicate movements and has a natural agility to him. He's given, say, a "+2" bonus to his rolls when they relate to tasks requiring agility. As such, when he makes a roll on the d20, he gets to add 2 to whatever is on the dice at the end. If he rolls 19 or 20, obviously he succeeds at the task. But if he rolls 17 or 18 on the dice, he still succeeds -- because the difficulty of the task is 19, and he gets to add 2 to the roll. One might express this as his years of experience getting him over the line.
And of course, one can factor in things like whether the character is wearing armour (which usually subtracts f
Funny, I was also thinking a level 5/6 module, since I'm not a fan of the first few levels of D&D owing to the fact that you don't get any of the neat magic loot and spend most of your time killing yap dog lizards. I'd be more than happy to help out with things, I just can't take on full GM duties for another game. To the PMs, where we can exchange notes!
Anyways, I already described the Star Wars RPG at the beginning of this thread, and described the Saga Edition RPG later on in the Casino Royale game, but I can help more here.
I might say that, looking at the d20 character sheets that people have posted in this thread from time to time there looks to be a fair amount of concordance between Star Wars d20 RPGs and D&D d20 RPGs, even down to the "attributes" I outlined earlier.
Not surprising, as it's the same company that produces both games.
Hey kids, let's do a walkthrough of character generation. Saintheart already covered the first area of ability scores, so now I'll go jump all over the thread.
First off, a little piece of advice:
Dungeons and Dragons can be kind of intimidating, as the learning curve can be kind of high. But this is why you have a DM (short for "Dungeon Master", because thirty years ago TSR decided they needed a nifty name) and experienced players to help you out. They will help you, because they are not complete twits, and helping new people is how you get new people. That, and making sure you have a good game (caveat emptor). At the very least, I am able and willing to help.
Secondly, the rules are all hosted online at sites such as [link=http://www.d20srd.org/]this one[/link], because of Wizards of the Coast (the guys who currently own D&D) and their agreement which basically lets everyone have access to all of the rules required for the game absolutely free. The catch is, they sent you the rules without the manual (which is what the Player's Handbook and other fine Wizards of the Coast products are for), so they don't actually cover the process of character generation, just the stuff that anyone who knew the process would be able to look up if necessary.
First off, a bit of an explanation:
Dungeons and Dragons was first produced by a company called Tactical Studio Rules, Inc, or TSR for short. They produced the game back in the 1970s as a sort of wargaming/fantasy roleplaying system. It was then split off into Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (which we will now call AD&D), with more complex rules and such. Some of the earliest D&D games were done using AD&D, such as the classics that none of you guys have even heard about. By 1989, AD&D had gotten an update in the form of AD&D 2nd edition, which evolved the rules by adding things such as "spell schools" (which we will cover later) and "nonweapon proficiencies" (which we will not), among other different methods of customizing your characters. This was the ruleset used in some of the great RPGs such as the Baldur's Gate series and Planescape Torment (some seriously excellent games. These things were just fabulously done).
By the time we woosh through the 90s, TSR had fallen as fans discovered that the company was in the hands of a pack of phenomenal idiots who made some seriously bad business decisions. This was the point in time where TSR was bought out by a company called "Wizards of the Coast" who had made money with a little card game called "Magic: The Gathering". With a new owner, the D&D brand got an overhaul to a brand new system, which gave the grognards (nickname for "veteran" gamers) plenty to complain about. To be fair, WotC did kind of have a point- the Dungeons & Dragons game was fun, but incredibly complicated and counter-intuitive, so they went about remaking it into a more uniform system of 3rd edition in 2000, which emphasized the use of the d20 in the game. Apparently it wasn't quite what they wanted, so they released another version three years later called 3.5e, an increment to the system. And if you thought they'd be content then, guess again. 4th edition was announced in November, and will be out in June of this year.
What Saintheart proposes is to use a game based on 3rd edition, since those are the books he has. I'd say it's not too hard to convert to 3.5e, since the rules are right [link=http://www.d20srd.org/]here[/link] and are a quick study for anyone familiar with 3rd. I'm not saying 3.5e is perfect (I mean, just look at the shapeshifting rules- WotC changes them regularly and yet people still find fun ways to break them), but it's pretty fun. That, and it's got the most amount of neat (and possibly game-breaking) splatbooks ("splatbook" is the nickname for supplementary books that are designed to integrate new options into the existing game, named for a game system (the World of Darkness by White Wolf) which used an asterisk (*) to denot
Cool, I'd be interested.
One question, since I've only played RL D&D, in which it's played in sessions, how would this be err....timed?
It's continuous, which means that people keep posting whenever they're needed. Combat can drag on somewhat, which is why it's usually a good idea to set up standard operating procedures for such things (ex: If you don't post in X amount of time, your character will just defend himself). It's perfectly doable, I've run games over boards before for something like 3500 posts over a 3 year period (which wasn't too bad considering it was my first game and I barely knew what I was doing).
Well, I said Race, so let there be Race (and Racism).
In D&D, creating a character is more about starting with an idea. If you don't have an idea, you can just roll some dice, get some ability scores and see what works. And despite what Saintheart said, rolling 3d6 for your scores is pretty much a way to get characters that are nigh-unplayable. Standard procedure is usually roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die, then add the rest together, or to use a point buy system wherein higher scores cost a more than proportional amount of character points (since statistically, these rolls fall along a bell curve, with 18s being hard to achieve).
Anyways, with your ability scores in hand, the next step in the PHB (though not necessarily the next step in the process overall) is to pick a race. D&D has seven basic races included in the Player's Handbook (part of the "Core Rules" that consist of the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual, the three books that will allow you to run a campaign. Coincidently, most of their content is also online at the SRD).
Human: This would be you. At one point, humans were fairly boring, their sole special ability being access to any of the classes of the game. This meant that many people were playing different races, though there still were plenty of humans. With 3rd edition, any race could be any class, so humans gained an extra feat and extra skill points in compensation (more on this later). This had the side effect of making humans the most played race in the game by a huge margin... it's like 70% of the characters in the game seem to be human males (I'm trying to sound shocked here, really, I am). Humans are the "do-anything" class, you really cannot fail if you make your character a human. Not that you can really fail if you make your character any other race of any other class... they provide abilities that don't really make a huge difference in the late game.
Elf: Do I really need to explain this one to you? The first of the characters shameless swiped from the Fellowship of the Rings, elves are a staple of D&D. Elegant, graceful (if a little on the wispy side), long-lived, with keen senses, free skill with some of the better weapons of the game, immunity to sleep, ability to meditate for a few hours instead, and come in about eleven different flavors, elves are pretty much second only to humans in terms of dominance. They make good wizards, finesse-based characters, archers, or anyone else who doesn't mix it up in melee.
Dwarf: The third of the staple races, dwarves are squat, stocky types who tend to be tough and resistant, though not always the most personable sort. Slower than humans, though they don't slow down for anything, they're also good with stone, can see in perfect darkness, possess resistances to magic and poison, and are pretty good at fighting certain types of enemies. They tend to be tough characters, and excellent fighters, though there's no reason you can't make them something else.
Halfling: Once called "hobbits" until TSR got a letter from the Tolkien estate, halflings are short people who tend to favor agility and stealth rather than strength. Slower and smaller than humans, they don't hit as hard as others. They tend to be cheerful happy-go-lucky characters who are surprisingly good at staying alive, which is why Belkar Bitterleaf was designed to be less-than-cheerful to break the typecast.
Tolkien marks the most popular forms of player races. There are still three more in the PHB, but they tend to be less common than their fellows.
Gnome: Let's face it, no one knows what to do with gnomes. Designed to offer an alternative to halflings and dwarves, they're the third race of midgets. But where halflings are supposed to be the sneaky carefree Bilbo Baggins types, and dwarves are supposed to be gruff and industrious types, gnomes don't really have anything in particular aside from being those guys with the large noses and assortment of skills. They've got decent sense
Embarassed concession: 4d6 is the method we'll be using for rolling up characters' attributes. He's quite right.
I take it this would use that uber-online-dice-roller that you're always advocating, Light? It's a bit disappointing, since in the beginners' campaign my friend ran, we were encouraged to cheat our dice rolls (when I went honest, my ranger made Quick Draw McGraw look accurate, and our mage seemed drunk every time he entered combat...)
Yup, it'd be online dice rolls and honesty. Sorry.
On the plus side, Murphy's Law says if (read: when) I throw an encounter at you which I'm convinced you guys won't win, a statistically improbable series of "20"s will inexorably prove me wrong.
On races: If Light already addressed this, I apologise, but the way the differences between races is most fundamentally expressed is in an automatic bonus (or minus) to some of your attribute scores (leaving aside level adjustments and the like). For example, dwarves at the point of creation usually get to add 2 points to their Constitution score permanently, but have to subtract 2 points from their Dexterity scores permanently. Hence: the dwarf who loves the smell of hemlock in the morning but generally soaks up punches rather than avoid them.
Uh, that would be +2 to Constitution, -2 to Charisma. Which was what it was even in 3rd edition.
Anyways, if you want bonuses and penalties...
Elves: +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution
Dwarves: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
Halflings: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength
Gnomes: +2 Constitution, -2 Strength
Half-Orcs: +2 Strength, -2 Intelligence and -2 Charisma (remember, I said this was the realm of subpar)
4th edition has apparently decided to shuck the penalties to stats in favor of each racing getting a +2 to two different stats, making it so everyone is around the power of what a race with a +1 level adjustment would be, to make it so race is actually a factor. As is, it's more a decision thing than anything else.
Ah. You can tell who hasn't looked properly at his manuals for a while...
Definately like what Im reading so far!!
I know that I said classes, but I don't have enough time to do a full update, since I need sleep. Suffice to say, there are 11 core classes in the Player's Handbook, and then Wizards decided that it could do with another forty more.
Expanded Psionics Handbook
The above are the standard classes in the System Resource Document (SRD), and pretty much all you need to play. The below are a bunch of books containing more random junk that I may or may not talk about, owing to the fact that they're different classes designed to fill similar roles but with a much different flavor. In most cases, I didn't repeat a class if it was presented in two books. I also didn't list any of the 120 or so different variations of the core classes that involve mixing around random abilities to customize it to your tastes. Books are listed in semi-chronological order, or grouped with like.
Eberron Campaign Setting
Tome of Battle
Tome of Magic
Magic of Incarnum
Heroes of Horror
Player's Handbook II
Tomorrow: I talk about the core classes
After that: Perhaps I'll give a brief run-down of some of the other ones. I am taking requests.
Is the Dashing Swordsman from OOTS a real class?
Short answer: No
Longer answer: First off, the "Dashing Swordsman" is a Prestige Class. Prestige classes are different from normal classes in that they're taken (if you choose to take levels in them) later on in your adventuring career. They represent a focus of abilities along some sort of particular path, or a novel character concept, and there are something like 700 of them produced in Wizards of the Coast books alone. Basically, what happens is that once you hit a level (usually around 5 to 10), you can take levels in a prestige class provided you have the appropriate prerequisite abilities. So if you wanted to be an assassin, you'd have to have at least a certain level of stealth skills (and be a generally unsavory individual), but once you met those requirements (by about 5th level), you could then gain a bunch of different abilities such as a death attack that has a chance to instantly kill your target. You don't have to take a prestige class, there's nothing preventing you from going fully into your chosen class. As I mentioned earlier, it's usually a focus along a particular line of abilities.
Though "Dashing Swordsman" is a prestige class (abbreviated as "PrC"), it's not a prestige class published by Wizards of the Coast, as it's from a "third-party" sourcebook. Wizards of the Coast allows companies to generate content for D&D thanks to the Open Gaming License, or "OGL". The OGL allows for other companies to make and sell whatever they want for D&D, so long as it's not part of the Dungeons & Dragons Product Identity, which contains some of the D&D signature items, people, monsters, and spells (one example of product identity would be the Illithid, a squid-like monster with psionic powers and a habit of eating people's brains). So if you wanted to, you could make up your own stuff and sell them to your friends, for all the good it will do you.
Anyways, Third party sourcebooks contain lots of random stuff, some of which is better balanced (that is, appropriate for a character based on the challenges a character of that level is expected to face) than others. Which isn't to say that WotC managed to successfully cast "Protection from Stupid Gimmicks" either.
Anyways, to our knowledge, the "Dashing Swords" PrC isn't in any sort of third-party sourcebook that we're aware of, which suggests that it's something that Rich Burlew made up. He does tend to [link=http://www.giantitp.com/Gaming.html]do that[/link] from time to time (Fun fact: Burlew was one of the finalists in a contest held by WotC to design the next big campaign setting (an established world with its own unique flavor where people run their games in) for WotC to produce lots of stuff for. He didn't win, that went to Keith Baker and his Eberron Campaign Setting. Other fun fact: Rich Burlew wrote the "Dungeonscape" book that I listed earlier). However, Burlew has yet to actually publish the rules (mostly because he doesn't want people complaining that characters can't do this or should do that according to their stats), so we can only make inferences based on what Elan does in the strip.
That said, there's nothing stopping people from designing their own Dashing Swordsman prestige class, though if you're new at the game, the simple truth is that it's probably not going to be the most magnificently balanced thing. Game balance is an acquired trait, and not something that everyone necessarily acquires. Still, even if your abilities are pretty well balanced, there's no way to know that out of all the books published, there's a few out there with some abilities that can be used to create a frightening synergy with your own creation. Of course, there are people who do know this, and it's a process known as "Munchkinism", "Min-maxing", or if you're not trying to be derogatory, "Character Optimization". Basically, it's the process of using the rule system to find synergies that allow you to tweak out your characters to do something particularly well. The results can be pretty capable, or utterly game-breaking as they throw t
Ok, class time. You'd probably think that I'd talk about the classes in the alphabetical order that I've given them, but that's not quite how this is going to work. Instead, I'm going to introduce the classic classes, and use them to outline some of the various roles they can play in your typical adventuring group.
Fighter: Fighters are designed to be your masters of combat. They have access to the best weapons, armor, and shields in the game, allowing them to become veritable mobile fortresses of defensive power, the role known as the "tank". Fighters get a ridiculous supply of "feats" which allow them to master weapons and strikes to an incredible extent, and tend to be the major source of combat damage in a straight-up fight. Unfortunately, the tongue-in-cheek descriptor of "meatshield" can also apply, implying that the fighter is nothing more than a glorified speedbump to prevent the opponent from clawing at the more valuable members of the group. Don't listen to these people, a fighter who focuses on a particular weapon can still be a great asset to his companions, especially when you start removing heads left and right.
Wizard: Magic is the staple of high fantasy, and few things are more iconic than the magic-using wizards. By far the frailest and most combat-incapable of the classes, the wizard relies on his selection of spells to make things much more interesting. Wizards occupy the role of Batman in your typical party- they have spells for every occasion. You can be a blaster, doing direct damage to your enemies. You can buff your allies, improving their combat capabilities to enable them to shred your enemies, or you can build magical items for them to do the same thing. You can be a controller, shaping the battlefield and your enemies to your will. You can cast spells that can turn the battle around if the enemy's defense isn't good enough. You can cast general utility spells that help your party gather information, navigate obstacles, or just make it through the night without being eaten by monsters. In fact, you can do all of the above, provided you have the spell slots.
Wizards rely on a system known as "Vancian Magic" (named for Jack Vance, author of the novels that D&D got the system from). Basically, a Vancian spellcaster has a series of "spell slots" which can be equipped with spells in advance. When a spellcaster casts that spell, the spell is triggered and the slot is used up, and it can only be regained after eight hours of rest. If you thought that sounded stupid, you haven't read any of the books which have described the mechanic in-universe (because it somehow sounds even stupider). Basically, this turns Vancian spellcasting into a game of tactics, where knowledge of your situation can allow you to prepare the right counter-measures. It also means that you can screw yourself over if you prepare something that has relatively no function whatsoever, so it's usually a good idea to prepare spells that are generally useful. A wizard's strength depends on the intelligence of the player
Rogue: While the wizard is the man with the spells, the rogue is the one with the skills. The sheer amount of skills available to rogues make them capable of handling tons of situations. Rogues can be diplomatic "face" characters, scouts, sneaks, investigators, and just about anything else you can think of. Rogues are also the best class for handling "machines trying to kill you", capable of finding, disarming, and avoiding damage from any traps you come across. In combat, rogues are situational strikers, capable of inflicting incredible amounts of damage with a well-timed sneak attack (or five), reducing their opponents to dust. Rogues don't use heavy armor or weapons, and tend to rely on their agility for increasing their defense, offense and bolstering many of their skills. Rogues work best with a group.
Cleric: Your other spellcaster, the cleric is the font of divine magic. Unlike the wizard's arcane magic which represents tapping into the natural o