Archive for D&D

D&D for 5 year olds.

Lesson 1 in dealing with short attentioned children you need visuals – cue ‘Wrath of Ashardalon’ board tiles, miniatures, dice with spots (easy to count up) and little green glass beads for ‘hearts’ (hitpoints/life points).

Basic rules:

Attacking: A 5 or 6 on the dice to hit/blast/zap/explode or otherwise incapacitate the bad guys.

Movement : 1 dice = number of squares can move

Fighter: If using a fighter type thats only a 4,5 or 6 to hit in combat. They have armour. But no magic and 4 hearts. If the fighter has a weapon that is good against a tough baddy then they get a bonus +1 on the dice. (so using a hammer against a stone gargoyle gives a bonus)

Wizard: If using a wizard-y type, they can hit all baddys on a tile within 2 tiles on a 5 or 6. If they want they can do a line (lightning bolt) which goes for 2 tiles in a line.  If they have a type which is strong vs the baddy (so ice vs fire dragon) then they only need a 4, 5 or 6. They can make up the type ad hoc.

Armor: Goodies are hit on a 5 or 6, except by minions (hit the goodies only on a 6) or if they have armor (ie fighter types – need a 6 to be hit). Super baddied (the boss, and big things hit the goodies easier so need a 4 5 or 6 vs wizards and a 5 or 6 vs armoured fighters)

Hearts: Wizardy types get 3 hitpoint beads, Warrior types get 4. Normal baddys get 1, big baddies (trolls, ogres etc) have 2 and the boss has 4

Big baddies appear every 3rd tile. (they have 2 hits and attack on 4+/5+) Little Baddies appear on a corner. They can move, attack and move again (hitting only on a 6) because they are fast and stabby. Pick them randomly out of the bag once a new tile is explored.

10 Stupidly Expensive Things Whot I Want + TTOT

This is total fantasy and most of these items are completely pointless and/or impractical, e.g. I cannot ride a motorcylce, play a harp or would ever use 1000 toy soldiers!

1) A Harp ££


How can wood and strings be that expensive?

2) A HD Cruiser Motorcycle £££,£££,£££,£££


Surely a Vespa would do?

3) A Full Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter £££,£££,£££,£

We are the Emperors Angels of Death… 










4) ..and someone to paint it £££,£££ to £££,£££,£££

5) Nikon Microscope £££,£££,££

This is small. But the one over there is far away.

6) An 18-200 VRII AF-S lens for aNikon Camera. .5£

AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f3.5/5.6 IF ED

7) A unicorn – this would require genetic manipulation of rhino and horse DNA in a country with few ethics. I would probably look more like a Ki-rin than a Auropean unicorn. £££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££,£££ +

8) New serverboard based computer with 3 monitors and the power to crack government encryption in 15 years! Liquid Nitrogen Cooled and overclocked to the max. Only has solitaire and windows 95 installed on it though.

Replace NASA with ‘Evil Overlord Inc.’ and it would be accurate!

9) Sub-dermal CGMS, Insulin Pump and wearable computer all synchronised in a non-clunky way to work as an artificial pancreas – £££,£££,£££

It’s actually a really old idea…

10)To own games-workshop and nintendo. GW is a bit more viable being only ~48X££££££, whereas nintendo approximatly 520x times their worth! Though I guess for majority shares I could roughly halve that value!

They’re actually not that bad despite what the internet nerdrage claims.

They are actually worse than the fanbase says…


Ok now to the wifey bit; 10 things of thanks. This is for the week just gone.

1 – Painkillers, my left back/shoulder/leg/head has been acting up again. They work. Woo!

2 – Niece & Neph who were largely well behaved and brought joy to my heart during their sleep over, who accompanied me, no whining, to the play park so wifey could sleep on and were just generally cute and nice company, if not a *little* trying at times.

3 – Church youth-work BBQ thing. Though I’m finding religion/God/church hard at the moment it was good and worthwhile going to. It was nice relaxing craic.

4 – Nice locum doctor – I gets me brain medicine on national ‘elf!

5 – Baldur’s Gate II – A really really oldschool computer RPG that I’ve played though moreso than any other game. The array of choices and options is quite staggering and I’ve been replaying it recently. If you’re a geek get it on!


6 – Paints – I dabbled with my watercolours which I found to be quite relaxing and made some prop-y bits for my D&D game which will hopefully resume on Tuesday after a 3 week hiatus due to absence and illnesses all round.

7 – Sunshine. I don’t like the heat but I do like the light and actually today isn’t too oppressive.

8 – Pepsi Max, I looooove Pepsi Max, and I’ve had lots of it this past couple of days and it has helped me keep chugging along. That probably means I’m addicted but as long as my pepsi-sugar readings (as opposed to blood sugar readings) are fine then I have nothing to complain about. THERE’S BLOOD IN MY PEPSI-STREAM!

9 – For this geeky cartoon which made me really happy.

10 – Wifey, for being ultra-supportive while I was being quite down and chivvied me along to the doctor and is just generally amazing. And lovely. And bringer of chocolate. And hugs. And Tea. And all sorts of lovelyness.


Ten Things of Thankful

New Name

The new title at the suggestion of Wifey is Dungeons & Dragons & Diabetes. Kind of makes sense in an odd sort of way!
Anyway I don’t really have much to add in terms of D&D knowledge as the internet is full of interesting stuff. I don’t particularly innovate anything other than my own plots or ideas and any ‘hacks’ or slight modifications other than the Action Point and no XP thing are shamelessly inspired stolen from the interwebs.

I’ve also managed to finish pokemon gold with mostly an unevolved Spinarak. There were HM slaves and a lvl 30 Gliscor for double battles but all the rest were filler. He was level 79 when he finished (Moves = poison jab, bug bite, shadow sneak and psychic)
Interestingly I thought being a bug/poison he’d take 100% damage from psychic, turns out bug is +50% vs psychic (+100% since he has STAB too) but confers no resistance, but the poison confers +50% weakness. Similarly with the orginal ghost (Gengar/Haunter/Ghastly) who are Ghost (+50 vs Psychic +100 if STAB) but have the poison secondary giving them weakness to psychic instead. Thankfully against the E4 after weathering the first attack if they were faster my little spider managed to bug bite any psychic attacks. The only other problem was some fire attacks (houndoor and a couple of Bruno’s fighters) and Kogas flipping minimizing, regerating Muk… his attacks were useless against me but I couldn’t hit him by the time I got eastablished. Eventually I got 2 hits close enough together to KO it but it was tough.

Fingers Crossed

So I submitted 4 pitches to Wizards of the Coast for Dungeon/Dragon articles.

Here’s hoping they are interesting and good enough to be considered – it would be a dream come true to write D&D related stuff for WOTC!

Also I had a look at their novel writing guidelines and this tickled me:

 ‘Avoid the following character archetypes: alchemists, any other author’s signature characters (Drizzt, Elminster, and so on), anyone who fights with two swords, apprentice/inexperienced wizards, drow of any kind for any reason, even in “cameos,” dwarves or gnomes for comedic effect, sorcerers, Asian/Oriental Adventures/Kara-Turan characters. Note: If you use one of the “iconic” characters that have game stats in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, they cannot be killed or permanently altered.

Basically saying idiot dwarves / gnomes, ANY DROW EVER, Bilbo-style dropped in it, dual wielders and famous characters are off limits.

It reminds me of this guy from Order of the Stick:

Totally not  Drizzt…

Wrath of Ashardalon

I like games. I’m a bit of a gaming geek – Boardgames, chess, RPGs and wargames are all of interest. It’s a consistent thing ever since I was small and started with Hero Quest. (The gateway drug to Warhammer/Games Workshop for so many people!)

Anyway today I decided to play some Wrath of Ashardalon – which is a great Wizards of the Coast (WotC / Whot-See) D&D based boardgame. It uses a D20 and takes place in the D&D ‘multiverse’ – that’s about as similar to D&D as it is, since it’s more like old out of production Heroquest or infact Warhammer Quest due to the exploration factor in a boardgame.

Anyway the game runs itself via exploration and various decks of cards (monsters, treasures and random encounters like traps, cave-ins, curses, extra monsters and so on) Due to this it is possible to play it solo.

So I hit up the ranger who’s model is cool and who has an auto-hit but low damage power. Also good at exploring. She died after a troll, owlbear and orc chief decided to show themselves. RIP Ranger :-(

So I decided to go to my go-to character – the Elf Paladin who fared a lot better. I managed to do 3 quests in a row with her. Firstly stomp an evil dwarf barracks which was fine (krumping an ogre and orc chief on the get-go and levelling up in the process!). Then the 2nd quest was to loot the eponymous’ dragons horde. Said dragon can arrive when you reach the horde after 1-4 encounters. (Encounters: AKA bad-stuff, which happens if you don’t explore or if you do and the dungeon decided to hate you anyway) It arrived straight away. Oh poo.


The bears just want to hug you… and steal your pic-a-nic!

Then my mind wondered to thoughts of suitable paladin-y glory – what happens if I kill the dragon straight off? Is he merely ‘wounded’ or does he die thus rendering the whole point of the campaign pointless at this stage? Mentally I’m sure the paladin yelled the equivalent of ‘Deus Vult’ and charged to put the hurt on the dragon. The whole question of ‘what if..’ turned out to be a bit moot as although I got him down to 6hp (from 12), when I got to 2hp I thought it was worth fleeing escaping tactically withdrawing with my loot (discretion being the better part of valour and all that).

I drew well for the available loot at the dwarven traders (vorporal sword, flying shield and something else – yes please to the sword and shield for an AC of 20 and snicker-snack-abilitiy.

The 3rd quest was to use my newly stolen shinies to vanquish the leader of Ashardalon’s Orc minions – the orc shaman. I was feeling confident with AC20 and a vorporal sword and sped though. However it seemed as though this was where my luck would run out as I ‘pulled a Dave*’ -and chain-pulled a kobold and duregar – the kobold proceeded to explore into a snake, and the duregar explored into long corridor with (they basically ‘explore’ themselves o.O) with a Grell and then another Duregar who then chained more stuff :


Nope, we’re not finished exploring the dungeon for you yet…


Rolling wasn’t great and one of the encounters was to let a monster (the Orc Chief who turned up again) … explore… to a troll …. in a long corridor…. to an orc druid.


The Grand Melee

Thankfully despite needing to spend both of my healing surges I managed to defeat the shaman. Techanically I won but I was surrounded. I decided to see if I could escape and then throwing shielded the kobold in the face before running like a goblin tactically retreating again. Thankfully I managed to speed away although the speedy boar managed to get a few licks in before I got to the exit tile. Phew! Money was scarce but I managed to buy 2 healing potions which might keep me alive for the next round!

*Dave being a member of Southampton Sluggaz who managed to chain TEN monsters together with a combination of enconuters, monster cards, duregar and kobolds and during a game of WoA at the club

Proper Party Placement Prevents Poopy Performance

The P6 maxim. (Stolen from a Baldur’s Gate TOSC strategy guide from over a decade ago)

Basically in any tactical combat situation a good way to mitigate failure is to ensure everyone is where they should be. The defender should be drawing fire, the healer should be supporting, avoiding attention and healing, the striker should be behind enemy lines (rogue) or behind their own lines (warlock) and so on.

Things which effect the party’s ‘placement’ include terrain, obstacles and enemy controllers.

This was evidenced last night when they were inside a squamous far realm tower (Madness at Gardmore Abbey encounter#14) which was quite small compared to the usual dungeon/wilderness areas, it had a chasm and mimics pretending to be a bridge. In addition the floor slides the PCs into a pit of ooze and the walls can restrain/grab adjacent PCs.

The rogue over extended followed by the defender while the healer was still outside. This put them out of healing range and lead to a tense couple of rounds when both the übertank swordmage and rogue were down and dying. The small space did mean that it didn’t take long for the healer to get in range, but it also brought her closer to the danger.

So lessons learned – an EL-1 encounter can be challenging if in a confined space and if they enemies have surprise. Compare this to an EL+2 encounter a couple of weeks ago which they breezed through and I do wonder how accurate 4th Edition monster level/XP budgets are. Usually I  just wing it.

And to leave you here is a monster that has no difficulty getting into position, I’m sure that the wheels give him bonuses to move!


D&D House Rules

Most RPGs tend to have house rules – a tweak on the ‘rules as written’, generally adopted because   no decent rules system could possibly cover the almost infinite things that any player may think of doing. (If the system does cover everything I would hazard a guess that it’s not fun to play and overly complex!) Some are basically house ‘rulings’ on ambiguous rules or occurrences. Others are actually new (or modified) rules.

There’s 2 ‘house rules’ that I use in D&D and both involve action points. To summarise – an action point gives the player an extra standard action that turn. Generally only one can be used per battle/encounter and the players get 1 action point for every 2 encounters they do. They cannot be saved between days. (resetting to 1)

Firstly I allow more than 1 to be used per battle – but no more than 1 per player turn, the reasons for this are simply that it penalises saving – basically you start with one, get another one after your finished 3rd 5th and 7th (and 9th and 11th ….) encounters. But if you can only use 1 per encounter you basically have to use your initial action point during the 1st or 2nd encounter then use the extra one in the 3rd or 4th and so on. Otherwise they’ll start to accumulate and you can’t use them.   As the encounters go on you’re more likely to run out of other resources (powers, healing surgers item uses etc) and thus going to want to rest – so saving isn’t a good idea. You might be dead and not get to the next encounter to spend that action point you’ve saved. Bascially carpe diem – use them early and often.

To avoid this punishment and to encourage dynamic heroism I allow more than 1 per battle.

The second involves action points and another limited resource – daily powers. These are usually the battle changers – if they hit. Since they are generally used on the toughest enemies they are less likely to hit than a regular attack on a regular pleb. It’s a bit disappointing as a player when your uber daily you’ve saved and not blown misses and makes little difference than if you’d used a good at will or encounter.

Natural 1

So to this end (before rolling damage) if a player totally misses with a daily they can spend an action point to re-roll to hit. And yes they can use 2 action points in a turn in this way – 1 to use the extra action to take a daily and then spend one to re-roll. So in short saving a little is generally worth it in my games compared to Rules As Written (RAW)

Needless to say this didn’t just spring up overnight, it is the result of sucky moments and me feeling sorry for my players as well as cold hard maths.