Wednesday, 28 August 2013

'Add Your Own Fluff' Cursed Item: Helm of Spying

What it seems to be: A helm that, when put, activates whatever spell is used to spy on others in your game system of choice. It works for anyone, not just spellcasters.

What it actually is: It does work as previously mentioned but for one important detail; The helm itself is not really magic, rather a magical spirit resides within it, a spirit that can read the mind of its wearer (no save allowed) and relishes in feelings of betrayal. If the helm wearer uses the helm to spy on someone they trust and/or care about, the helm will show something that is not actually happening that will lead the helm wearer to believe the other person is betraying them.
  For example, if a helm wearer uses it to check on his wife, the helm might show her cheating on him with a trusted friend or even an enemy of his. If he uses it to check on an ally, he might see that ally selling information to an adversary.
  In the same vein, if a trusted person actually IS betraying the helm wearer, the spirit will give a vision of the person acting in a completely trustworthy way.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

'Add Your Own Fluff' D&D Cursed Item: The Fusing Longsword.

  Place this cursed longsword decorated with gold in a treasure pile, sit back and wait. This particular cursed item is cruel for two reasons. The obvious reason is that it's cursed, but the other one is that what triggers the curse is the next critical hit rolled by the player character wielding it!!!
  It will be all the more glorious when the player's initial joy at getting a critical hit is met by the DM with a "Roll a saving throw against..."! (Fortitude for 3.5 -you pick the DC-, Magical Device for old-school games, etc)
  If the player fails his roll, his hand(s) become(s) permanently fused to the sword! (To state the obvious, whether it's one hand or two depends on how the character was holding the sword.) Gauntlets or gloves will not stop this effect, in fact they will be fused along with the hands to the handle of the sword. And to clarify, one can't just cut the skin around the hand or nonsense like that; the sword doesn't become glued to affected hands, they merge together, bones and flesh magically melting around and into the sword handle.
  Even if the player manages his saving throw, once the curse has been initially triggered it will now require a new saving throw for every successful hit, no longer just with critical hits. Giving it to someone else will reset the trigger for that person, but not for anyone who triggered it before and uses it again.
  To be fair though, the character now cannot be disarmed of the sword, the fusing causes no damage since it's magical and the successful attacks that trigger the curse still take place normally otherwise. There's no reason to be mean to players. ;)

Roll for...Spoilers???

  So you're a DM and there's this thing that your players are unaware that still calls for a saving throw. Let's say someone poisoned their mugs of ale with a sleeping potion that won't take effect right away. You ask them to roll for Poison without explaining more. Or you roll a die yourself while hiding the result (the 'good' ol' DM secret die roll!) and look at their character sheet. Or if you're sneaky enough, you roll a die yourself and look up the saving throw value discreetly/have it written somewhere/remember it. WHATEVER! To quote Rocky Balboa, "Let me tell you something you already know!" (+100 xp if you read it with Stallone's voice in your head); The players now suspect something and will behave differently, even if they genuinely try not to meta-game.

  Oh what's that, you sometimes roll for nothing so they won't know when you're rolling for real while grinning so they'll be scared or something? That gets annoying really quickly. "Oh look, he's rolling AGAIN while grinning, same as he did five minutes ago." And if instead you don't roll them often but sometimes you roll to bluff so they won't know when it's real, they'll still change their behavior anyway because it doesn't happen so often that they'll ignore it!

  So what's a DM to do? I dunno for you, and maybe you'll even tell me you like the methods I've just dissed and that's fine if you do, but this is what I did the other day: I took a sheet of paper, asked every player to roll their d20 (for saving throws) a few times while I wrote down the result of each throw. Then I asked them to do the same with a d6 since the game I'm running uses them for skill checks. What does that accomplish?

  Well, I take notes often. If players see me putting pen to paper, they don't know what I'm checking. They don't know I might be scratching off one of the dice results. If you think even that might give a hint, then simply remember where you are in the list of pre-thrown dice rolls and scratch off the used ones later after the game or when no one is looking.

  Players will finally be none the wiser.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Aerynn Ivillios the Druidic Avenger (And Barbarian and Scout and…)

  Before I start sharing the adventures of my D&D character Kelleck Mage-Hunter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other player character in that game, Aerynn Ivillios! Aerynn is a half-elf… Well, he’s lots of things but story-wise I just say he’s a Druid/Barbarian. Stats-wise though… Oh boy! He’s even more complex than Kelleck is, with variants and multi-classing and whatnot! (And obviously, our DM doesn’t use the multi-classing XP penalties!)
  Unlike with Kelleck, I’m not going to mention all the sources but the main one is the 3.5 version of ‘Unearthed Arcana’. There’s also some stuff from ‘Dragon Magazine’ in there and the ‘Holt Warden’ Prestige Class comes from ‘Complete Champion’.
   Our two characters are currently at level 9 and I forgot what his latest level was in, but at level 8 Aerynn was a:
Druidic Avenger 1/Fighter1/Half-Elf Paragon 3/Lion-Totem Barbarian 3
 Whew, that was a mouthful! The ‘Druidic Avenger’ and ‘Lion-Totem Barbarian’ are variants found in ‘Unearthed Arcana’. On top of that, he chose a nameless variant of the Druid from the same source which removes theWild Shape class feature for other benefits in return. So his Druid class alone actually contains two variants!
  He took two Flaws at character creation, which granted him an extra Feat each. The Flaws are: ‘Gullible’ and ‘Love of Nature’.
  His current Feats gained from level or class are (in the order he obtained them):
Level 1: Combat Reflexes, Furious Charge, Power Attack
Level 2: Intuitive Attack
Level 3: Powerful Charge, Quick Draw
Level 6: Greater Powerful Charge
Level 9: Hurling Charge
  If Aerynn survives to see Level 20 (where the game will finish according to our DM) he’ll be a:
Druidic Avenger 9/Fighter 1/Half-Elf Paragon 3/Lion-Totem Barbarian 3/Scout 1/Holt Warden 3

My D&D Character: Kelleck Mage-Hunter

  Just a random post to talk about my current D&D character… Kelleck Mage-Hunter!
  Kelleck is a happy-go-lucky swashbuckling adventurer who works part-time as a bounty hunter, specializing in tracking down and stopping evil spellcasters.
  The game I play Kelleck in is an ongoing campaign of one DM and another player. The fact that there’s only two PCs gives it a ‘buddy movie’ dynamic which is really fun. And our DM is the best I’ve ever had. As a side-note, the DM and the other PC are good friends of mine and a couple (the girl is the DM) so at least it’s easy to set up a game when I visit them, given that they already live together. On the other hand I don't get to visit them often since they live outside the city so the game advances VERY slowly.
  Anyway, this post is mostly about the ‘crunch’ of Kelleck, his stats. I’ll possibly share more about his background and adventures later on, there’s even some funny ones. He’s a 3.5 character (D&D, not Pathfinder, just to clarify). The following stats are pre-planned from level 1 to 20, but he’s currently level 9. I hope he lives long enough to reach his full potential! I don’t need to worry about epic levels since our DM made it clear she intends to end the story at level 20. Basically the story will have a clear beginning, middle and end.
One reason I’m happy with Kelleck, other than the fact that he’s such a fun character to play in such a fun campaign, is that I worked very hard to find all the right stuff to make him work stats-wise, from variant classes, variant class features, feats and prestige classes. So here it is…
- Lvl 1: Urban Ranger 1 (‘Arcane Hunter’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Mage’, ‘Urban Ranger’ variant from Unearthed Arcana’, ‘Solitary Hunting’ Ranger variant from Dragon Magazine #347, Feats: ‘Urban Tracking’ from Urban Ranger class, ‘Improved Initiative’, ‘Nemesis’ from ‘Book of Exalted Deeds’ and using it with Arcane Hunter)
- Lvl 2: Urban Ranger 2
- Lvl 3: Urban Ranger 3 (Feat: ‘Mage Slayer’ from ‘Complete Arcane’, Spellcraft at 3 ranks.)
- Lvl 4: Urban Ranger 4 (‘Champion of the Wild’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Champion’, CotW Feat: ‘Weapon Finesse’)
- Lvl 5: Urban Ranger 5 (Knowledge: Arcana at 5 ranks)
- Lvl 6: Urban Ranger 6 (Feat: ‘Weapon Focus: Cutlass’)
- Lvl 7: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 1 (‘Occult Slayer’ prestige class from ‘Complete Warrior’)
- Lvl 8: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 2
- Lvl 9: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 3 (Feat: Dodge)
- Lvl 10: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 4
- Lvl 11: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 5
- Lvl 12: Urban Ranger 7 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Pierce Magical Protection’ from Complete Arcane)
- Lvl 13: Urban Ranger 8 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Improved Favored Enemy from ‘Complete Warrior’ and linking it to the ‘Arcane Hunter’ variant)
- Lvl 14: Urban Ranger 9 / Occult Slayer 5 (‘Spell Reflection’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Mage’)
- Lvl 15: Urban Ranger 10 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Favored Dodge’ from Dragon Magazine #335)
- Lvl 16: Urban Ranger 11 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Blind-Fight)
- Lvl 17: Urban Ranger 12 / Occult Slayer 5
- Lvl 18: Urban Ranger 13 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Pierce Magical Concealment’  from ‘Complete Arcane’)
- Lvl 19: Urban Ranger 14 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Two-Weapon Defense)
- Lvl 20: Urban Ranger 15 / Occult Slayer 5

Sunday, 18 August 2013

'Add your own Fluff' D&D Magic Item: The 'Save v.s Death' Knife

  So this is the idea; A magic knife that anyone stabbed by it has to roll a Saving Throw v.s Death or die. However if the target succeeds in their roll, the wielder of the knife must then make the same Saving Throw or be the one that dies! You know, because the knife is hungry for souls.
  Anyone killed by the knife can only be brought to life following the destruction of the knife. (How the knife can be destroyed is up to whatever system your specific version of the game uses or the DM's own personal ideas.) Alternatively, you could use a Wish spell to get the soul out of the knife and then use whatever other spell (including Wish again) to bring the victim back to life.
  Its magical effect won't work on the undead, constructs or any other opponent who's already dead and/or soulless. Those will only receive the normal 1d4 damage. The knife will still try to take the wielder's soul in such a case, it hates being teased with the promise of a new soul to devour only to find there's nothing to take.
  I can see this object being used as an 'all-or-nothing' weapon against opponents that the player otherwise doesn't stand a chance against. Which is a gamble in itself since a tougher opponent will very likely have a better Saving Throw than the player. If it's used before being properly identified, it could also lead to some very surprising situations for your players...