Fantasy The Saga of the Nameless Lands ~ A Dungeons and Dragons 4e Campaign

Discussion in 'Role Playing Forum' started by Ramza, Jul 5, 2009.

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  1. Saintheart Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Just a light interjection here, and not trying to tell grammy how to suck eggs, but have you guys tried working with MapTools itself for over-the-net sessions? I confess I've never actually tried it, only used it for the mapping function (I tend to take a screenshot of the state of play at the start of battle and use MS Paint to write up the axes on my grids, using cut and paste to move people's pieces around and generate new round-by-round pictures).

    Of course, the medium here is a lot different, but the system looks pretty powerful just on my cursory glance over it.

    Also, for nice(r) maps, I recommend [link=http://www.dundjinni.com/]Dundjinni[/link], which, although not free through conventional sources, does have a decent library of clip art and textures (including a built-in gridmaker) and the maps can be imported to MapTools. Like RPTools (and like most of the DM management software I've tried over the years) it's not immediately user-friendly, but with a bit of fiddling around (and assuming you're willing to put up with suspiciously-regular-looking backgrounds) you can pull off some passable maps.
  2. LightWarden Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    And if you're an RP fanatic with two gigs of hard-drive space and a strange desire for legitimacy, here's a [link=http://blog.mnology.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/mapping_objects.torrent]torrent[/link] of a ton of resources pulled from free mapping sites, organized by category. Just bust out Paint or some free image manipulation program if you don't already have one and you're golden.
  3. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Indeed we have. The problem seems to be connecting other accounts (hence the Hamachi proposal). Right now, I've been either making or stealing maps off the internet and updating each round, but it's slowing us down.
  4. Kev-Mas_Colcha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2002
    star 5
    Have you tried making the maps before hand, like during the preparation for the sessions?
  5. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    I do prepare some of the maps in advance. However, I'm limited as to how much I can accomplish because marching order is decided during the session, and even then, updating the maps during combat is way too slow. I feel I should reiterate what I said about how yes, I need to more effectively prep the maps, but how combat is too slow anyway.
  6. Saintheart Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    There's [link=http://www.fantasygrounds.com]]Fantasy Grounds II[/link], which also looks impressive. There's also 4E rulesets that their communities have built. Or is it just plain old problems with detecting other people's IP addresses?
  7. Chukles38 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2005
    star 5
    I think one problem is that we are not all running the same operating systems. Several of us are on Windows, some on Linux, some running Macs.... so it makes finding a good program to use rather difficult as well. :p

    But, I think ramza mentioned this, most of the programs so far require us to lower our security settings significantly in order to work properly, which is something none of us are will to do.
  8. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Fantasy Grounds II is actually notorious for being under supported by the developers and requiring open access ports so... yeah. Chuks pretty much just hit the nail on the head.

    Now, I should put on a disclaimer that it might be worth trying some of this again when I get back to the university, since port control might be less of an issue (Of course, it might be even more of an issue, but it's worth a test drive). As for next session, I'll try to get maps prepped in advance and then we'll make adjustments at home rather than the cumbersome "adjust map export to jpeg post on photobucket link to photobucket" thing we've been doing, and we'll see how that goes.
  9. Kev-Mas_Colcha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2002
    star 5
    We also may want to do away with fancier looking maps, and just use simple grids. Maybe even use Google Docs Spreadsheets, which are configurable to be republished upon edit, and if you want, you can even give each player edit permission, so they can move their character on the spreadsheet grid (provided they have a google account, which are free anyways, and I think that since everyone put their Character Sheets on Google Docs, it should be fine). I'll set up an example spreadsheet as a proof of concept if you want.
  10. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    I guess an example would be nice, since I'm not sure I'm fully following what you're getting at.[face_blush]
  11. Kahn_Iceay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    he may or may not mean something like [link=http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tSI_9Gpyw9UQnWGa2GjDipA&output=html]this[/link]
  12. Kev-Mas_Colcha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2002
    star 5
    Exactly, and it is easily updated. As soon as someone edits it, it republishes.
  13. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Very nice. A definite, easy possibility.[face_thinking]
  14. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

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    Approved!

    [link=http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcddcmw6_2gqc26scz]Signor L. Ravelle[/link]
  15. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    star 7
    Folks, you may recall last night's effectively paced but still torturously slow combat. After perusing multiple different guides (Including, I kid you not, Big Eyes Small Mouth d20 Revised, Mutants and Masterminds 2e, and yes, Vampire: The Dark Ages), and reviewing Chapter 9 at length, I have our solution.

    I present to you:

    Ramza Speed DnD

    Attacks are made as normal. But instead of rolling damage, the following rules apply:

    A hit by a player on an enemy does 2x maximum damage. A critical hit does 3x maximum damage.

    A hit on a player by an enemy or fellow player does 1x maximum damage. A critical hit, 2x. This also applies to healing, since it's essentially an anti-hit to another player, if that makes sense. That also keeps the healing from outpacing the damage being dealt.

    Now, at first this seems a bit biased, and it is. But, generally, monsters can take a lot more punishment than players. So, this makes things a bit more even, and lethal (Imagine if those scorpions had been dishing out full damage each turn!)

    We'll be testing out this system next session.

    Also, Marcus Dade has been approved for our waiting list, with his Elf Druid. He could be appearing as a guest in a future adventure, or even become a full timer, so keep your eyes peeled.[face_peace]
  16. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    star 7
    Yeah, yeah, double post, I know.:p

    Anyway, I'd like to give you guys a sneak peak at some variant rules I'm cooking up. Not sure which one I'll use yet, but hey, behind the scenes stuff is fun!... Right?

    Weak Point Attacks - As the name implies, you attack the enemy's weak point for massive damage. RIIIIIIIIDGE RACEEEEEER!

    Grafting - Those of you familiar with the Hand and Eye of Vecna might have an idea of what's going on here. Basically, you permanently affix an item to yourself in exchange for benefits. Obviously not every object is eligible, but for those that are... watch out.

    Free Form Movement - My top priority, and arguably the hardest on this list. I'm basically trying to get rid of tactical movement altogether to speed up combat. It's slow goings.[face_plain]

    Feints and Grappling - The former doesn't exist in 4e, the latter is almost a running joke of broken. Grappling has improved significantly, but could still be better, IMO, and I miss feints.

    So there you have it. If you have any suggestions on any of these elements, feel free to post them in the thread, and I'll see you folks this Sunday.[face_peace]
  17. LightWarden Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Some comments:

    -Weak Point Attacks: If this is an at-will thing, then you might have to balance it against itself unless you want it to be the inherently superior option. If it's a multiplier, then it will absolutely explode when applied to encounter or daily powers, especially those with a "1/2 damage on a miss" clause (since you either do full damage or more than full damage, so there's no reason not to swing for the fences). The way 4e does it with certain classes is to create utility, encounter or daily attack powers that bestow a vulnerability on the target for a certain amount of time. They took multiplying damage out because it made combat too wild, so caveat emptor.

    -Grafts are on page 51 of Open Grave. They're more for adding flavor abilities to monsters, with the idea being that they might not be something you want the PCs to be overly fond of (at least for undead grafts, anyways). Though, there's nothing stopping you from using them as treasure or something (daily, encounter, or minor at-will), it's just a suggestion.

    -I'm not so sure if removing movement is going to be worth the effort. As you probably have already noticed, it's pretty much a major part of the system, since it's incorporated into powers, range, movement, OAs and the controller powers that aren't about status effects. Just removing the AoOs from ToF caused a whole bunch of shenanigans since it basically made mages as utterly fearless as possible. I've found that mapping actually makes things faster and easier to understand, especially if others are paying attention to where everyone is, and communicating as to what they intend to do. You're still probably going to have to come up with a system of "those guys are in range, those guys are out of range, those guys are uncomfortably close", unless you want to borrow the system from some other turn-based RPGs and have a "front row/back row" set-up with two groups bashing on each other.

    -Feinting is on page 183 of the PHB, it's a Bluff option. "Gain Combat Advantage: Once per combat encounter, you can try to gain combat advantage against an adjacent enemy by feinting. As a standard action, make a Bluff check opposed by the enemy's Insight check. If you succeed, you gain combat advantage against the enemy until the end of your next turn." There's at least one Rogue paragon path that turns this into a minor action, and there may be some other feats or powers that aid in this somewhere (Changelings have this as a minor ability as a racial encounter power). (Actually, according to the [link=http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/database.aspx]Compendium[/link], which is CURRENTLY FREE TO BROWSE DURING GENCON FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, there's also a bard paragon path from Dragon Magazine that does something similar). As for Grappling, they changed it because it was a ridiculous clusterfrag that you either built your character around or got completely whomped by anyone else who did (plus the rules were rather complex). They realized that due to the mechanics grabbing became utterly useless in high levels, so they put a feat into the PHB II to improve it, plus various powers that grab the target, and a ton of stuff in Dragon Magazine for things like garrotes, whips, chains, and nets (if you are not subscribing, you probably should, there's lots of neat stuff for only $8 a month). If you want to make it more complex, try to avoid the mistakes made earlier, or just give people the Improved Grab bonuses (just as many DMs I've seen just give people the Weapon/Implement Expertise bonuses that WotC tried to use to patch the growing discrepancies between player attacks and monster defenses at higher levels) and call it day, since if they want to specialize they can go do that.

    Also, instead of multiplying damage, why don't you just cut the HP of their opponents in half, (and maybe reduce the HP of the heroes by a third if you feel that it's necessary)? I haven't actually seen you guys in action (because no one ever reminds me when you're playing), but it sounds as
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    star 7
    Well, the idea is to remove the tedium of damage rolls, hence max. The doubling is to simply speed killing up, so yeah, halving enemy HP would also do the job. Thing is, it didn't matter what kind of hitpoints the baddies had, it just took freaking forever between planning, declaring actions, rolling, hitting, rolling damage. So the idea is to eliminate the last part, and since I can just read what damage is being done, makes life a bit easier.
  19. LightWarden Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Roll to hit and roll for damage at the same time. If it's a critical hit, then you maximize and roll for your magic weapon/implement.

    Most rollers I know allow you to do stuff like "1d20+13; 1d4+9".

    I think the 3.5e PHB II and DMG II have stuff for speeding combat that doesn't involve house-ruling it beyond any semblance of balance. A big part of it involves making sure your players are aware of what's going on and plan things out before their turn. You can take your turn in less than a minute, and plan your actions while other people are moving. Know what your powers are, what your ally's powers are, what your role is, and where you should probably be. Then communicate with your allies to ask/give advice. Voice your concerns ahead of time.

    The game goes remarkably faster if everyone's on the ball. I recommend you solve the PEBCAK problem first.
  20. Kahn_Iceay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    I personally like Ramza's speed DnD concept. The whole concept of this isn't to have a full blown DnD game online, as thats pretty difficult to do as DnD isn't a slow game. Its more about having fun in the DnD 'universe'. Which is what the Speed DnD thing will allow. We wanna have fun, not memorize character stats and specific dice rolls.
  21. Kev-Mas_Colcha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2002
    star 5
    From what we learned, normal DnD will NOT work online in a chat environment. This is why we are implementing these house rules, which I rather do like. We aren't so much heading for authenticity as much as what matters more - fun.

    Also, we have tried the planning things out route, and it doesn't go far enough to speed up the game.
  22. The Great No One Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2005
    star 8
    yea, we've all gotten pretty good about the planning thing. it just takes at a bare minimum of a few minutes to actually get everything done per turn, regardless of how fast one person is. that's due to it being online, and it's not possible to reply as quickly as you would IRL. and the roller we're using, the one in AIM, doesn't allow for one to add anything actually. you have to do each die roll individually, only adds to the time.

  23. Chukles38 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2005
    star 5
    While I have not thoroughly read all that has transpired in the last few posts, I do want to add something briefly. As was mentioned, the main reason ramz is doing this is because in this environment, the game just wasn't fun. None of us came into this wanting a full blown, dice rolling, DnD experience. Instead, we wanted some light rp'ing with a nice battle system. The problem with that is the battle system has taken over. It just isn't fun. There is very little if any RP'ing (Our main interest here) and more just rolling dice and figuring damage. It's become very technical an very tedious, and I will venture to guess none of us is particularly enjoying it... I know I'm not. So, are there ways to preserve a more classic DnD feel? Of course. Is that what we want? Eh, not necessarily.

    Just my opinion.
  24. LightWarden Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Actually Kev, people have been playing D&D in chatrooms since maybe the mid 70s or so. Chat RPGs gave rise to MUDs, which were at least a contributing factor in the development of RPGs today. 4e's heavy use of the tactical map may make this more difficult, but there are also a great variety of tools nowadays such as Maptools, Ventrilo, cameras and the D&D Compendium which make it much easier to play over the net these days. I understand you've had problems, but there are varying degrees of work-arounds depending on what you're willing to do.

    Trimaj, you might want to consider using a different roller. If you guys aren't going to switch to IRC, then maybe you want to try something like Invisible Castle (which we use for ToF), or [link=http://www.metstuebchen.de/cgi-bin/DIESERVER/roll.pl?diestring=&comment=&code=&name=&showroll=show]this little number[/link]. Just set it up beforehand and all you have to do is remember what to roll, then cut and paste. Trust me, you can probably get faster once you get the hang of the system (though if you're a slow typist, you might want to consider VOIP and a service like Skype).

    Chukles, I must take issue with your statement that "There is very little if any RP'ing (Our main interest here) and more just rolling dice and figuring damage" especially since your wording seems to imply (likely unintentionally) that that sort of thing is the "classic DnD feel". The problem is that in the past I have found that there are people on this board who have voiced the sentiment that D&D and other tabletop systems are somehow a less ideologically pure form of roleplaying (if we must go into such utterly idiotic territory) because they somehow hinder the player or allow them to get by without roleplaying as if they were "just" playing a game (despite the fact that you can do zero effort posts right here at the RPF, and you look like a ponce, as well as the fact that most electronic roleplaying games are set up to let you roleplay and decide to do things as your character would. Tabletop just has the advantage of having a DM who's capable of adapting to unusual PC decisions). I'm not really addressing you so much as those nameless individuals who might be tempted to say "Aha, scientific proof for our theory!"

    To these individuals: like any other system, D&D requires that you provide the roleplaying why it provides some mechanics. Contrary to grognards, no two characters are identical unless you make them that way. Even if you build them to be mechanically identical, how you play them (or not) is entirely up to you. Roleplaying is in every aspect of your character, from the way you look to the way you talk and the way you act in battle just as much as out of it. It's in your battle cries, your taunts, your flourishes, your invocations, your whispered apologies at the defeat of an esteemed opponent. It's the naming of your personal attacks, the vision of a salamander dancing amongst the flames of your fireball, the way you call upon your weapon as you unleash its power. Basically, D&D is a framework with a lot of options that you can pick from in order to create a character you want to play (thematically, mechanically, or any other way you wish), and it will only remain a lifeless framework if you are completely unwilling to do anything with it.

    Back to you Chukles: if you feel as though you've done enough and don't want to do any more, then that's what you've decided. I'm not the fun police here (though if you don't like typing up things, you might consider getting a microphone).

    Ramza: After entering "grab" into [link=http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/database.aspx]THE COMPENDIUM[/link] (the free trial period is winding down!) and seeing all items, feats and powers they had, I'm sort of wondering what else you wanted from grappling. Also, I now want to play a rogue with a garrote. It is awesome.
  25. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    star 7
    Okay, duly noted on feint and grapple, thanks.:D

    As far as combat rules go, I'm definitely not the sort of person who falls in the "systems are bad" camp, being an RPer who grew out of the tabletop scene. But the length of combat and myself have always come to grips, even in person-to-person settings. It was fun when I was in sixth grade and, y'know, we were smacking around Tarrasques on our bad days.:p

    But when you sit there and slog through a three hour fight with some damn Level 1 electric scorpions, you know something's got to give, and so I'm hoping static, high damage smack downs will speed things up. Is it unbalancing? Sure, I'm not going to make the argument it's not. But when balance is getting in the way of fun, that's when I think the balance has got to give. We're not changing the skill system at all (Which I still like, by the way, spreading different information and watching my players try to come up with... unique applicable skills is highly entertaining), and we're certainly not changing the biggest underlying concepts (To Hit Rolls, ACs, classes), so I think we're still getting the DnD feel with just a bit less baggage.

    Concerning technical issues of combat visualization, it seemed to run fine with the map and then track by hand system, and certainly a lot faster than before. This also minimizes potential technical hiccups (And let me tell you, my firewall at home is nothing compared to the host-hating flame shield that is campus security's). Regarding Skype, I've noticed some players can have trouble with roleplaying while talking (Arguably my best roleplayer when my old group switched to online as the result of geographical issues was arguably the worst in person), so while I've got it and can certainly use it, I'd want all of my players' consent before switching to it. The other disadvantage is I don't have a text record I can reference when writing updates.

    Die roller programs, as long as the rolls are quick I don't mind where they come from, but I am a skeptic and am going to get a bit paranoid if you roll naught but 15s and above.
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