Pirate World Review

So Pirate World I guess technically came out, surprising everybody because it's well over two years late and the last creator update was nearly a year ago: pretty much everyone had written it off as yet another unfulfilled role-playing game Kickstarter.

It might have been best if the creators had also forgotten about it and moved on, if not for the fact that comments preceding the project "fulfillment" update mentioned pursuing legal action, which lends credence to Melissa's theory that this was only finally shoved out as a legal evasive maneuver.

Of course some people are pretty stoked, but I'm not sure why given how bad it is.

I mean, it's not Inverse World bad (this has more/better quality art, actually strange races, correctly statted monsters, more than two magic items, and so on), but with the typos (that I've found merely by skimming some of the PDF), creative commons art, poor quality non-creative commons art, and overall poor design in general you have to wonder what the fuck took so long (especially since the last creator update back in September mentioned print copies).

The short of it is that this is a huge disappointment. It was not worth the wait, and certainly not worth the money I'd pledged. I wouldn't even recommend this as something to merely mine for ideas, and I frankly wish I'd asked for a refund when I had the chance (I kept forgetting about it, something I have a feeling Iain wished the other backers would have also done).

Ultimately, it is the Mighty No. 9 of tabletop roleplaying games.



With that out of the way, what follows are more of my criticisms, loosely organized, written as I unfortunately skim the book again:

The art is wildly inconsistent in style and quality. The cover and a few interior pieces are so amateur that it makes Apocalypse World's "art" look almost competent (and the cover is recycled for the swashbuckler). Much of the creative commons stuff looks fine, and there's some neat, full-color art (most of the races) which unfortunately contrasts in a bad way with the rest of the art.

Here are some examples:


Really, I just would have kept to the creative commons route. Would have saved money and kept everything looking more consistent.

The layout is at times sloppy, and often text will bleed over onto the next page. In some cases it's mid paragraph, but in the case of blackpowder beard (page 66) you get the name, but everything about it is on the next page. Other examples of this are faithful goblin breech loader (page 68), and red mercury dagger (page 70).

On that note, mundane and magical gear is presented to you, all mashed together with no indication as to which is which, in one barely formatted wall of text. It features such gems as a bottle of grog, which somehow is worth 4 rations, moonshine, which isn't worth any rations but you can pour into your eyes to somehow reveal a path to the nearest dire portent (why), and a bottle of rum that instantly heals you for d6 damage (but you are confused for an hour).

Damned shame nothing has prices.

There's a section for "pick-up-and-play-playbooks" near the front, which are basically half-page pregen characters:


Aaand I just realized that these are not even accurate: the actual brute starts with five moves, not three, and the effects of both armed & dangerous and leap do different things. (Also, why is the cestus messy?) Another inconsistency with the pregens and actual class is the avatar: the pregen mentions Favour, which is similar in effect to our cleric, while the full class has zilch to do with Favour. Also, false idols have both the thrown and ammo tags.

At any rate, this is especially pointless for Dungeon World characters, because everything you need to run a character already fits on one side of a sheet by default, including example names and looks. You're basically just making what few choices players need to make for them. It's a waste of space that only serves to pad out the book's still anemic page count.

Most backgrounds have check boxes for...some reason. Not all of them do (like cannibal, cultist, and hexmaster), none of the classes do, and what? Does Iain think that people are going to mark the boxes in the actual book? This isn't as bizarre as the use of asterisks instead of bullet points:


Well, most of the time anyway: gear doesn't have anything, and I noticed that the mercantile background (page 82-83) has bullet points. I find it odd that the way moves are formatted is changed, so that the different results are (usually, I think) start on their own lines (instead of being one big-ass paragraph).

Really though, it would have been nice to add bullet points or the star thing (✴) that Dungeon World typically uses to make it easier to read. As it stands it's only maybe marginally easier.

There's a blank page on page 89. I'd question this, but it seems standard fare in most indie products. Since Iain is using mostly creative commons art anyway, there's no reason he couldn't have plastered something here.

Playbooks use Drives instead of Alignments, which is an irrelevant alteration Jacob Randolph tried pushing despite the fact that a Drive differs from an Alignment in name only.

There are numerous problems with moves, both in formatting and effect.

For example, the brute's juggernaut move says "On a 10+ pick two, on a 7-9 pick one". The juggernaut's leap move is bleh: basically when you want to jump somewhere (no range given), you roll+STR. If you get a 10+ you get there, but if you get a 7-9 you don't and the GM tells you where (unless you're using the brute pregen, and then something else happens for some reason).

I mean, whoop-de-fuck. I'll just try jumping again? There could have been a choice. Like, you could take damage from the fall, damage/break/lose something during the leap, and maybe opt to not make it all the way if you don't wanna take damage or something. As it stands, whatever.

Other "meh" moves include security and atlas: the former lets you look for work (on a 10+ you find it, on a 7-9 you still find it, but dangers are vague for some reason), while the latter, wait for it, bumps up your load to 15+STR...which is 3 more than before! Did I mention it's a 6-10 move?


This is just looking at some of the brute, mind you. The psychopomp's reaper man and bonded soul have boxes with spaces too small to record information, the reefmonger only has 16 advanced moves (and it doesn't tell you which are 2-5 and 6-10), the swashbuckler is I guess a captain right from the start (but there's also a captain background), their flourish move always deals damage to themselves on a 7-9, their crazy leap and riposte moves are incredibly limited, the list goes on and on and fucking on.

The locations are somehow more lackluster than what you got in Inverse World. Basically, each "location" is a monster stat block with less stats:


There's an octopus covering most of one of the pages in the bestiary. Iain says that the text is duplicated on other pages, which begs the question: what was the fucking point? Is the octopus supposed to be covering a page? If so, how did an octopus get in the book? If he just wanted an octopus picture, why not put it on its own page? I mean, there is at least one blank page that could have actually used something like this!

Monster statblocks are a mashup of Dungeon World and FATE. Unlike Inverse World, the Dungeon World parts seem to at least be statted correctly, though I didn't notice any stress boxes for FATE. As with the rest of the book, stats bleed onto other pages, and The Sphere (page 139) just has I guess a move?

The rules changes to hirelings are yet another attempt to add needless complexity to the game, this time in the form of injury boxes. I mean, if you want to give hirelings stats, at least stick with what characters use (like hit points). Or go play a game like Dungeons & Dragons, where hirelings have the same shit as the characters.

The more I read the more problems I find, so I'll just end this by saying that I wasn't ever expecting this to come out, what we finally got feels like a waste of time and money (for both parties), and as I mentioned above I fully believe Iain only pushed out this unpolished mess in order to avoid legal action.

We've already made a pirate and swashbuckler class, and A Sundered World has ship rules, so if we ever want to run a pirate game we're more than set.

UPDATE 7/23
Hi everyone coming in from the Kickstarter comments!

So, Iain says this:


I didn't insinuate anything. I was pointing out the confusing difference while plugging something we'd made, because why not? But hey, if you wanna go down that road here's how the Favour thing worked for the Avatar, waaaaaaaaay back in October 2014:


In December 2014, Invoke was changed:


And now, in the ass-end of July 2016, here's the "pick-up-and-playbook" Avatar:


The similarity between Minor Blessing and our cleric's Divine Favor is that you can spend 1 Favor to take +1 when doing something that's related to your deity's domain(s) in some way. The cleric can also spend 1 Favor to do other things, and you regain them through prayer (which might involve having to do/sacrifice something to top it off).

But, I am curious why did you remove the Favour mechanic (which was kind of interesting), and then put it back in just for the pregen, in a completely different fashion, even though the other class doesn't have it?

I should note that the "core"(?) Avatar only shares the Smite move with this version, and it's roll+WIS instead of spending Favour. Invoke is there, too, but it's similar enough to the December 2014 iteration. Oh yeah, I just now noticed that it says Alignment instead of Drives on page 26, and that on page 27 it says Basic Moves: levels 2-10 instead of Advanced Moves.

Goddamn this thing is a mess...

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Paladin is out, and we're holding the next Dungeon World class vote now!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
July 22, 2016
Posted by David Guyll

Christmas in July Sale!

DriveThruRPG is currently running their Christmas in July sale, which means until the 29th you can get all of our PDF stuff at 25% off (like The Paladin, which came out a few days ago, or A Sundered World).

The bundle prices are unchanged, so right now it's probably cheaper to buy whatever you want individually.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Paladin is out, and we're holding the next Dungeon World class vote now!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeon World: The Paladin

The Paladin is now on sale! It has been added to our All of the PlaybooksAdventuring Party, and Alternative Class bundles.

As with The Bard, The Druid, The Fighter, and now even The Cleric, The Paladin isn't merely a half-hearted/assed reskin: it's a considerably different take on the concept.

Though it's still a competent melee warrior, most of the class is built around the seven-heavenly virtues: you choose three at the start of the game, and can choose more using advanced moves. Most of the twenty-five advanced moves require and build onto the virtues you choose, so not all paladins will feel or play the same way.

As with our other alternative classes, this is intended to replace the default paladin, but frankly they're both different enough that you could use both at the same table.

This product contains three files.

A letter-sized character sheet that use our new character sheet layout (so that we could fit all twenty five advanced moves).

The other two are digest-sized books, one in color, the other in black and white (to make it easier to print at home if you want). They both contain:

  • The paladin class.
  • New weapons and armor (including armor for animals).
  • The cavalier compendium class.
  • A director's cut with questions to ask yourself when rolling up a paladin, explanations/clarifications for some of the moves, and some extra moves that we couldn't fit on the sheet.

You can see a preview of it over on DriveThruRPG.

Note: If you purchase using the PayPal Buy Now button, we will also send you a complimentary copy through DriveThruRPG. Please allow up to 24 hours for delivery, though it usually ends up being at most eight (depends on if you buy it after we've gone to bed).

$2.50

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Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 407

Cast
  • Humal (level 6 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 6 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 6 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
Before leaving Doppeligos's lair, Sumia plucked a magic crystal from one of the tanks. It looked similar to the ones they'd found in Doppeligos's remains; when she touched it she felt a presence faintly press against her mind, but she couldn't understand what what it might be trying to say or show her.

Weaving through the mirror-maze, the party gradually made their way back to the pillar room. Where before, the room was at least poorly illuminated by luminescent fungus growing in patches of various sizes across the ceiling, it was now completely dark.

Sumia moved towards the lever that crested the pillar jutting from the brackish water, but when she attempted to pull it something sharp grazed her arm and fell into the water with a brief, quiet splash. Undeterred, she tried again, but as before something sliced her arm.

She couldn't see what was attacking her, but rather than return to the rest of the party she ordered Humal to conceal her in an illusion before trying the lever a third time. It worked, and once the pillar finished noisily retracting into the floor she found herself all alone at the bottom of the now mostly dry chamber.

Sumia shouted back to the rest of the party that something was sniping at her from the darkness. Corzale walked onto the bridge and looked about, but saw nothing. This was when Sumia realized that whatever was attacking her had followed her down. Her mysterious assailants sliced and stabbed at her until Corzale literally leaped to her aid, crushing one of the creatures on her way down.

Fortunately Corzale has the foresight to bring a torch, and in its flickering light she caught glimpses of an amalgamation of man and rat, clad in rags and wielding jagged daggers...but when splattered looked just like every other doppelganger they'd killed so far. Humal commanded his skeletons to assist Corzale and Sumia, and when the doppelgangers attempted to flee he charmed one while the rest of the party and his skeleton crew killed the stragglers.

They quickly learned that the surviving doppelganger possessed a variety of useful abilities beyond simply changing its shape: it was exceptionally strong, could quickly and easily climb walls, see in the darkness, and store objects inside itself. It also knew much about the sewers, including a hidden passage that would allow them to escape more easily, and where its creator was holed up.

The only problem was that it reacted to their statements very literally: when Sumia instructed it to take a rope, climb the wall, and throw it down, it did precisely as instructed. After some back and forth it eventually just carried Sumia up with a rope, and she lowered it for the rest of the party.

Per Humal's request it then guided them out of the sewers. Not wanting to just let it go--possibly to simply go warn its creator--Humal gave it the name Abby and had it assume a form that would allow it to pass itself off as Sumia's sister. When they went to retrieve their corpse-laden cart at Stonehome, they learned that the staff believed that they bribed their way to freedom, and were regardless no longer welcome there.

So, they returned to Filge's hovel.

As expected he wasn't there, and the place was ransacked. They could not be sure if he had been captured, killed, or simply fled the city in a hurry, but at least it gave them a place to stay while they recovered. Plus, if he was still alive there was a chance he would return. In the meantime, Sumia went about posting fliers and asking about her owlbear, Humal went to the mage's guild to put their invisible stalker essence to good use, and Corzale paid a visit to her local temple to see if they'd learned anything.

It took all of their invisible stalker essence, but Humal was able to fabricate a pair of cloaks that would help whoever wore them blend in with their surroundings. The task complete, he set about delivering the information they'd uncovered underneath the Sodden Hold to various guilds and organizations. This he did in secret, so as to avoid him and the rest of the party being targeted in case the information fell into the still wrong hands.

At the temple, Corzale learned that many of the clergy had been suffering from nightmares involving green worms. In some, the worms wriggled into people without transforming them, in others massive worms erupted from the ground to devour and destroy. Her friend had also taken to drawing worm-riddled skulls on the walls with his own blood; they were forced to restrain and drug him in order to prevent further harm.

The high priest warned Corzale that something was about to happen, and he believed that she had been brought to Dovin in order to find the source and destroy it. To aid her in finding and cleansing the evil that stirred within the city, he provided her with a blessed maul. With it, she would be able to inflict harm upon any evil creature regardless of their defenses.

Design Notes
Hopefully Melissa learned to never split the party. It's a harsh lesson, but at least she survived: other characters aren't so lucky.

I'm considering having Enchanter have a limited duration, unless you "invest" mana into the effect in order to sustain it (though mistreating the target will still break it). Originally I for some reason thought that charm person from other D&D-games was permanent, but checking the d20srd I see that it's only one hour per level, which sounds reasonable enough to me.

That said it's been a blast socially roleplaying Abby, so I'm not about to retcon anything.

The party went waaay of the rails this session, which is fine because they still accomplished and learned quite a bit (plus they got their first noteworthy magic item). I'd planned enough to see them through the first half of the last dungeon (which included of course changing various bits of it), but maybe next time and we had a lot of fun anyway.

The invisible stalker cloaks basically give whoever wears them +1 to Stealth (Humal could have used all of the essence to make a single +2 cloak). They aren't magical (and so won't register with the Detect/Smell Magic talents), but are an example of many magical-ish/alchemical items characters will be able to make.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Shriekers

Near the end of the Hall of Harsh Reflections, there's a dungeon that has shriekers in one of the rooms.

Shriekers, in case you somehow didn't know, are one of many silly D&D monsters. Some are amalgamations of two or more different animals, while others look like a myriad of objects such as swords, gold pieces, or even pillows.

Shriekers buck both of these trends in that they're basically fungal alarm systems. If you get too close they, well, "shriek", which can then attract other actually dangerous monsters to try and beat you up.

I've already modified the adventure content considerably thus far (along with other creatures, like kobolds and medusas gorgons): the big bad is an exceptionally skilled transmuter instead of a mind flayer, I stuck with more doppelgangers instead of suddenly switching to drow, and the dungeon has plenty of weird features (fleshy walls, metallic heart pump, etc).

So, I figured I might as well change the shriekers.

Instead of being naturally occurring screaming fungus alarms, they're a composition of humanoid faces and fungus made by the big-bad. Each shrieker looks similar enough to a mushroom, but the cap is covered in milky, crusted eyes, and when they see light a bunch of mouths along the stalk begin screaming or moaning in pain, maybe even begging for help.

This would ideally attract people who think someone is in trouble, only to come across an eye- and mouth-covered mushroom. If they're not the adventurous type, they'd ideally be scared off. Of course, even if they for whatever reason stick around, the noise can still warn/attract other creatures (which might get the drop on them while they're freaked the fuck out), so it's still a win-win for the monsters.

An alternative I also cooked up, for those that want to go the "naturally occurring" route, is to give shriekers an actual attack. In this case, when it sees light it starts screaming or begging for help, and when the characters get close it shoots toxic spores at them. The spores deal some damage, and can also put you to sleep, giving them time to infest and kill you.

If you die from shrieker spores, it grows throughout and across your body, and kind of takes over your corpse. This gives it the ability to speak, so when other creatures approach, it screams or moans or begs for help using your voice, possibly attracting more creatures and allowing it to repeat the process. Just imagine hearing people begging for help, and when you round the corner come across a mount of fungus-caked corpses.

This could also be where myconids (or something like myconids) come from: after a while of infesting the corpse, the fungus just kind of takes over and can start walking about. Maybe something like Last of Us clickers, just not completely crazy.

Anywho, here's the statblock for the base shrieker (bigger shriekers would be higher level):

Shrieker
Level 1 Medium Plant

Ability Scores 
STR -5 DEX +0 WIS +1
CON +1 INT -5 CHA -5

Skills 
Perception +3

Defense
Initiative +0
Speed 0 feet
Special A melee attack made against a shrieker always hits (this way, unlike 3D D&D, you can't attack the stationary fungus and somehow miss)
Immune Shriekers are immune to anything that affects the mind or relies on vision
Fort 11 Ref 10 Will 11
Wounds 4 Vitality 3 Total 7

Offense
Spore Cloud 30 foot cloud around the shrieker; +1 versus Fort; 1d6+1 poison damage (ignores armor), half on a miss. On an 15+, the target also falls asleep.

Treasure
2d4 x 10 sp of shrieker spores (good for making powder/poisons that could put others to sleep)

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFouth Sandbox Campaign: Into the Black Wood

Cast
  • 2nd-level elf ranger
  • 2nd-level human paladin
  • 3rd-level dwarf fighter
  • 3rd-level human cleric

Summary
As I mentioned in this post, the players were able to choose which dungeon they wanted to tackle first. I warned them that each time they explored a location, subsequent visits would be more difficult. Despite this, they chose the Black Wood twice in a row.

Their first foray had them wandering about the outskirts, where they found a seemingly friendly hunter that led them into an ambush near what they assumed was his cabin. After killing the cultists they ransacked the cabin, hauling out bundles of animal skins, a handful of gems, and a strange bone idol.

Near the cabin was a ring of bloodstained standing stones, but when they went to inspect them another band of cultists showed up, this time with a few goat spawn who were much tougher and stronger. The party slaughtered them all, but while trying to destroy the stones a hulking, tentacled monstrosity emerged from the forest.

Despite the fight being four-to-one, it managed to knock out the dwarf and paladin before it was finally slain. Lacking the necessary tools to even deface the stones, the cleric looted the bodies and with the help of her skelidog dragged the other characters back to Falcon's Point.

Their second trip took them much deeper. This time the party came across a larger band of cultists camping outside of a cave. They weren't interested in talking, and during the fight that ensued one tried to flee into the cave, but the ranger took him out with a few well-placed arrows.

Inside the first chamber was a group of cultists and goat spawn. Nothing new, and by now the party knew well to keep their distance from the goat spawn: the ranger and cleric remained outside of the cave, using divine magic and arrows to support the frontline warriors.

The last chamber contained a gate that about a half-dozen cultists were apparently trying to ritual open for some almost certainly nefarious purpose. The party tried stopping them, but a dark young popped out a couple rounds in. Fortunately its sheer size prevented it from bringing all of its tentacles to bear, at least until several cultists were slain.

The dark young was then able to scoop up the paladin and cleric, smacking them about until they were rendered unconscious, but by then all of the cultists and goat spawn were dead, and the ranger and fighter were able to focus their attacks and finish it off.

Design Notes
While the cultists could harm the fighter and paladin, the combination of their armor, and the cleric's Hymn of Healing and Healing Domain talent basically had them dealing 1 point of damage once they started losing Wound Points.

At first this concerned me, but in retrospect I think this is fine given that most of the characters were two levels higher, decked out in medium armor, and the cultists were just using daggers: the goat spawn were wielding two-handed axes (2d6+STR damage), and they were definitely feeling those. That, and by the end of the second session the paladin and cleric were both knocked out.

Due to the staggering number of damage taken, most of the party is going to be out of commission for at least a week in game time, which is also fine since several of the characters are picking up various craft skills: dwarf fighter is learning weaponsmithing, the paladin is picking up armorer, and the cleric is going with alchemy (my character is the only odd-person out).

One of the (many) highlights of FrankenFourth is that every craft skill can be learned simply by paying someone that knows the skill, and taking the requisite amount of time to train with them (which for novice craft skills is generally 7-10 days). You don't gotta spend your skill points or talents (or feats if the game had feats). The first rank basically lets you make normal items in the normal amount of time, while additional ranks reduce the crafting time and/or let you make improved/masterwork versions.

This gives the party something to spend their cash on, and since magic items aren't assumed/necessary/available for purchase regardless is probably more rewarding for the fighter when he makes his own weapons and/or armor that aren't utterly eclipsed halfway through the first dungeon.

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Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

A Sundered World Review (by Drunkens & Dragons)

Looks like after a short hiatus, Hankerin is back making videos. Since the player expansion for A Sundered World just has three illustrations and maybe some words for the Director's Cut to go, I figured I should post the really awesome video review he did for the core campaign setting book back in February (also because I forgot to at the time).

Disclosure: This review was done completely because Hankerin wanted to. I didn't encourage him/compensate him in any way besides giving my thanks for taking the time to do it.



Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth Sandbox Campaign

Our Monday game got canceled due to 4th of July things, so we ran another FrankenFourth session with the kids, continuing where this one left off.

The party—a dwarf fighter (because our son is basically always playing fighters of some sort), a human cleric (mostly healing, with only a dash of melee ability), and a human paladin (yep, we're finally taking it for a spin now that the Dungeon World version is nearly finished)—ended up dealing with some bandits that were fucking up trade for the already fucked up village of Falcon's Point.

They succeeded, though the dwarf got taken out during the last encounter. He's still alive, but both he and Melissa's paladin had to sit around for nearly a week recovering from their wounds/lingering injuries.

Got to test out the Lance of Faith talent I mentioned in this post: I'd considered giving clerics Wisdom+level Favor points, but as it turned out going with level=Favor points worked just fine: the cleric was able to reduce some damage and still zap a few enemies in each encounter. Her skeledog was also really useful, even when you take into consideration that I counted it as a full-on character for the purposes of encounter-building.

For this campaign, I'm giving the characters the option to spend money in order to help restore the village, allowing them to recover faster, make better gear, gain access to better services (like healing/healing items), and let them do stuff like craft alchemical items. Here's part of the village sheet we're using:


They opted to start by fixing up the inn, which will let them rest without their Wound Recovery being penalized (normally it's -1 in a "dungeon" environ, which means that unless your Constitution is +2 or higher, you gotta use healing items to bump it up). Additionally, they get to rest there for free, but they gotta bring their own food.

For their next adventure, I gave them the option of venturing into the catacombs beneath the church (full of undead), the forest (cultists and goat people), or a grotto (fish peeps/deep ones). I also warned them that each time they choose a location, it will get progressively more difficult until they clean it out (and things might come looking for them/wreaking havoc on the village).

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Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Playtest Adventure Update

We've updated the Dungeons & Delvers public playtest adventure with the rules changes mentioned in this post and also this post.

From the original post:

It's one part hexcrawl, two parts dungeon crawl, and there are four pregen characters in the back; a future release will provide rules for actual character generation and advancement.

We're mostly interested in how difficult the adventure is (so we can get the numbers right): can the adventurers get through several encounters before having to rest, do they need to run back each time, are they able to breeze through everything, is there something they can't beat even at their best, etc?

Of course if the rules aren't clear, don't work, don't seem to work as intended, or you have a better idea for how to handle something, definitely let us know.

As with our FrankenFourth playtest, feel free to share this with your group, run it, and comment on anything and everything: send it via email, post a comment here, or head on over to the G+ community.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth, you can find the public alpha document here.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is also out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Lance of Faith


While prepping for a 10th-level-one-shot-kill-a-dragon-playtest, I realized that clerics that don't specifically focus on the War, Fire, and/or Thunder Domains have only situational usefulness in combat (which we probably would've realized sooner if almost all of the playtest clerics didn't pick the War Domain).

A 5th-level fighter going down the Slayer/Sundering tree deals around 3d6+6 damage, with armor piercing 1, while a rogue can easily get away using Dexterity for most weapons, which also works well with their Reflex and several key skills (plus, the Sneak Attack tree lets them pile on some extra damage).

Though wizards (currently) must choose whether to have an offensive magical option (specifically the Evoker talent), in virtually every playtest players have opted for stuff like Enchanter and Illusionist, both of which have proven useful in combat. In fact, in our Age of Worms playtest campaign, Humal's go-to tactic is to use Illusionist to temporarily blind enemies.

But a cleric? It depends on your Strength, but assuming no offense Domains you're looking at probably 1d8+1 or +2 damage with something like a heavy mace. Now, against many enemies—with Armor ratings of maybe 0-2—it's not that bad, as monster "hit points" don't needlessly scale based on your level: a bandit is a bandit, no matter if you fight it at 1st-, 5th-, or 10th-level, and even a 1st-level Healing-focused cleric could feasibly take one out in a couple of hits.

Against big-ass enemies, however, with many hit points and Armor ratings of 3 or even 4? You're basically chipping away, up until the enemy likely clobbers your ass. Sure, if you're going down the Healing tree you can shave off a good amount of damage that you and your friends end up taking, but that doesn't use up your turn; best case scenario you're just standing around (unlike the wizard, who has to use his turn doing stuff).

So, we're giving all clerics a Wisdom-based attack at 1st-level. For now I'm calling it Lance of Faith (name subject to change). It has a 30-foot range, uses Wisdom to attack, deals 1d6+Wisdom damage, but costs 1 Favor each time you use it (so unlike 4E and 5E D&D it's not an at-will thing). It also automatically scales as you level up: at 5th-level it'll deal 1d8 damage, and at 10th it'll deal 1d10, but I could see talents further boosting it (like something that blinds the enemy if you roll a 15+).

War clerics of course can continue to largely focus on their weapons, which can still give them more damage: Spiritual Weapon lets you conjure a radiant weapon that relies on Wisdom to attack and damage, and the War Domain tree lets you reroll attack rolls and tack on extra damage.

We've been doing a long term, episodic/sandbox FrankenFourth playtest campaign with the kids (try new characters, see how characters of various levels interact so maybe you won't have to try and keep everyone's level the same), so I'll just add this to our daughter's cleric and see how it works out from here.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

4Ward/FrankenFourth: Death Farm

One of the players from our Save the Princess, Mario-esque 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game was away for the week, so Melissa ran a short, two session crawl that had me and the kids exploring a haunted farm. Normally we'd do this with Dungeons & Delvers, but we've already playtested the hell out of that and she's more familiar with FrankenFourth anyway.

I'd intended to play a human fighter because neither of our weekly campaigns had a fighter for an appreciable length of time, but one of the kids wanted to play a dwarf fighter (his go to for Dungeons & Delvers too) so I shifted gears to a human ranger with the Archery and Beast Companion talents (armor piercing 2 with ranged attacks and a level 1 beast respectively).

We managed to clean everything out without having to stop and camp for the night, which is really good considering that Melissa was basically eyeballing the encounters and monster stats. In the end we leveled up, saved someone captured by a flesh golem because he wanted a bride I think, and walked away with nearly 1,000 sp in swag, a few potions, and a book on making your very own flesh golem (because it obviously worked out so well the first time, that at some point we'll give it a shot, too).

Our daughter really likes a specific mini that we got out of I think the second Reaper Bones Kickstarter: normally we treat it as a wizard, but this time I figured she could play a cleric going down the Healing Domain tree to mix things up and give us some added staying power. Here's a shot of her sheet and mini post-level up:


A few people have reacted to FrankenFourth under the assumption that it's a 4E D&D hack. We started with 4E, but quickly deviated from it, stripping out almost all of the complexity in the process. What you see is the essential bits of her character, which fits nicely on a third of a sheet of paper.

You got her stats, Reflex Defense (what you gotta roll to hit her), Armor (reduces damage taken most of the time), Wounds (some comes back with long rest), Vitality (comes back with short rest), and to-hit-and-damage. The boxes at the bottom represent her Favor: when we take damage, she can check one off and reduce it by 1d4.

She wanted to befriend the skeledog, so she's multiclassing into wizard to start going down the necromancy tree in order to get undead minions (thanks to Jacob, the player of Humal in our Age of Worms playtest campaign, for helping "flesh" it out).















Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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