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RSS Changes

This is just a basic site news post. You may be aware that Google Reader is going away. Well, with that, Feedburner is also disappearing.

This is not a promise that the site will start getting updated regularly or anything, but if you still have me in your RSS reader, and want to be notified when it does, you will have to point the feed to a new URL:

Thanks to anyone who is still here. If you change your feed, you’ll be the first to know when/if I update again.

Warlords and Healing in D&D Next

I listened to the latest #dndnext podcast, and I have to say, I take issue with the discussion on warlords.

Specifically, Mike Mearls asks whether warlords should have martial healing, giving the following (paraphrased) example:

Mike Mearls: “If you get your hand cut off, and a warlord inspires you, the hand won’t grow back. He’s not really healing you.”

Now, I can kind of understand the point behind this. Words can’t heal a severed hand.

But you know what else can’t heal a severed hand? Ten minutes of rest and some bandages. Yet that is allowed to restore hit points.

Or, ignoring short rest mechanics, a month of bed rest can’t heal a severed hand, yet you’ll easily be at full HP due to that.

My issue with this statement by Mearls is that is flies in the face of what D&D hit points are, and have been since at least 1e AD&D. Hit points are a combination of stamina, skill, and even luck. In D&D, it only takes one blade to run you through – and hit points are what prevent every blade before that from doing so.

Significant wounds, like severed hands, have never been a part of core D&D, and aren’t represented by the hit point system. If such a thing is in a module, that’s fine. And if that module states that only magical healing can restore such lasting wounds, then I’m cool with that.

But that isn’t the base assumption of the D&D hit point system.

And so I ask you, Mike Mearls, why can Warlords not restore hit points (aka stamina/skill/luck/courage), when bandages and rest can?

High Level Play – Concerns

The latest Legends and Lore article on the WotC website worried me, and I responded in the comments. I feel this needs more visibility than hidden in comments and rage, however. Luckily, I have a blog I never use for just this sort of occasion.

What I wrote:

This post makes me the most concerned out of any L&L post ths far, as it seems that Monte doesn’t actually understand the reasons people think D&D breaks at high levels. This worries me.

I love the idea, the concept of high level play. The problem is, execution is always mediocre. In 3e and prior, the issue wasn’t just that encounters could be bypassed with spells, it was that the non-casters had to just sit aside twiddling their thumbs as the casters did so. The issue wasn’t that you could disintegrate hordes, it was that climactic fights could be 2 hours long, or 2 minutes, depending solely on how the Wizard’s luck went with those spells.

4e, despite all the complaining handles the tier changes the smoothest. Fights get too long, and the DM has to do a lot of work to give big challenges sometimes, but everyone remains useful, and everyone gets a chance to contribute to the game.

As a fan of Mages (as you said at DDXP), I understand fully why you’re a fan of high level play in all editions.

But please, try to understand why some of us, as fans of Fighters, Rogues, Paladins, etc, have issues with it.

I like the idea. I want the game to change. I want my Paladin to soar across the sky, mounted on a dragon, pummeling demon lords and saving gods.

But in 3e and prior? I never got the chance. Either the Wizard removed all challenge, or he failed and we TPK’d since we couldn’t get past the magical wards.

For me, the game broke.

Please understand this. And please let me pummel my demon lords.

I suppose my main point is that D&D doesn’t break as a game at high level by default. Rather, it breaks if you want to have a diverse party. If my entire 3e party were primary spellcasters, I’d be fine. But it absolutely sucks playing my high-level fighter alongside those characters.

Monte talks about the type of game where you create your own planes and lay waste to planets, teleporting around and disintegrating hordes. But he needs to remember that not every class gets to do those things. We need to make sure those classes are still fun.

If we can do that, and keep combat from ballooning into a 3-hour affair, then I’d officially call high-level play “not broken”.

Wherein I debate 4e and call Healing Surges realistic

So I was rolling around the RPG Bloggers network, and came across a post on The Labyrinth regarding asinine statements about 4e. I agreed with him that the statement was asinine, but for very different reasons than originally stated, and we discussed it for a bit.

So Labyrinthian, who runs the blog, decided to put forth his points, and air all his dirty laundry about the system, to get my responses on it.

Many of the points, I had heard before. I tried to answer all of them as best I could.

But, as I am wont to do, my comment in reply to him ended up something like 8 pages long.

As such, I’m posting it here, and leaving Labyrinthian a link to it. It… it’ll just work better this way, I think.

Go read his post first (as I don’t feel comfortable copying his questions here without permission). Then read my responses below.

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Wherein CAB Pretends to be a Professional of Sorts

GMG4450CoverLargeSo, thanks to my good friend Phil, the ChattyDM, Goodman Games sent me a product to do a pre-review of.

I know, neat, right?

So, now that we’re finally finished moving and I’m settled into my new job on the other side of the country, I should probably get on that.  Let’s see… it releases…


Well, so much for the “pre” part.

Anyways, the book I was sent was Agazar’s Book of Rituals, and as I said, it is out today.  This is an interesting book, as it was “crowdsourced”, in a way.  Way back in January, Goodman Games put out an open call for submissions, and this is the result.

I have to say, knowing this, the end result is quite impressive.  Most of the contributors are not professional game designers (and many may not even aspire to be such a thing).  The fact that such a product even exists is a feat unto itself.

But that’s not what you’re here for, is it?

What the hell is it?

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CriticalAnkleBites and ChattyDM pretend to be journalists

Eiffel_Tower_sketch_2Yeah, that’s right, we’re back!

And we went to Gen Con! I should write more about that, but haven’t had any time, due to the next point.

We’re moving! To British Columbia! And need to find a gaming group in Kamloops! Any suggestions/offers?

Back to Gen Con, however. Just before we went, I was contacted by my good friend Phil, the Chatty DM. He said that he was scheduled for an interview with Bill Slavicsek and Andy Collins on Sunday, and asked if I wanted to come.

What the hell kind of gamer would I be if I passed that up, right?? (I am a particular fan of Andy’s work… my players still hate me for using that one.)

Unfortunately, Bill wasn’t able to make it, but we had a good chat with Andy, so all is well. Phil has part one up over at, where he rambles in overtired Québecois with Andy about DMing in general.  Read that first.

For my part, I got a number questions from the community members over at the forums of Andy Collins’ personal site. (Small forum, but a great group of people there.  Thanks, guys.) This was my first chance to actually be more than the general public, so I really wanted a chance to let the fans of the game ask their own questions.

So read part 1, and then continue here!

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Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic…

sarekThanks to Dave of Critical Hits, I have found some holes in my “no more ability checks” idea.

Making Bull Rush an Athletics check steps on the toes of at-will forced movement powers like “Tide of Iron”.  A Fighter trained in Athletics would actually find it slightly easier to Bull Rush than use “Tide of Iron”.  The only disadvantages would be the lack of damage and the lack of marking.

But this is not the kicker.  This can be accepted and dealt with, especially for powers like the Warlord’s “Opening Shove”, which allows an ally to shift or make an attack.

Rule 42.  Actions the rules don’t cover.  Ability checks come in during some of these, as attacks without weapons are essentially ability checks.

Trip: Strength attack vs Reflex

Throw sand in their eyes: Dex vs Fort


So, unfortunately, ability checks can not be completely done away with.

(But the little boxes on the character sheet that people keep confusing with their damage bonus, or vice versa?  Yeah, that can probably be removed.  Or at least moved away from the ability scores box.)

Strength checks? We don’t need no stinkin’ strength checks!

house-rules-lNote:  Holes in this idea have been found.  Read the next post for more.

So, we’ve been playing 4e regularly since September 2008, and like most groups have found some things that work for us, and others that don’t.

In 4e, however, there are a lot fewer things that we don’t use as written thus far.  Up until now, I’ve only found need to house rule three things.

  1. Daily Magic Item Uses – As suggested by Wyatt:

    Unlimited Item Power:  You can use any item’s daily power once per day but have no restrictions on your own uses, so you can have 10 different items and use all of their powers. Once an item’s daily power is used once it is spent – you can’t give it to another character for a go, for example.

    And if anyone decides to abuse the system by hoarding multiple cheap items, you smack them with the rulebook and take the privilege away.  They don’t get nice things.

  2. Skill Challenges – I haven’t quite figured out what to do with these, but had my first really good one at the MM2 Game Day.  They are not run by the book, however, and are affected by #3.
  3. Skill Check DCs – The errata’d DCs are too low, and make Skill Challenges a cakewalk.  The original ones (with the +5 for being skill checks) were too high, and made Skill Challenges too hard.  I use the new Skill Challenge system (X/3), as the old one didn’t scale properly, and the original DCs (sans the +5 for being skill checks).  It seems to give the difficulty I want.

And of course the minor per-character house rules, such as reflavouring powers or making a Wizard into a Druid.

But recently, I’ve been thinking over another house rule, which I want to present to you here (and to the players on Sunday).

Let me start with a question.

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Oh my, he’s at it again!

jared-hindman-dnd-delves-banner-1If any of you out there don’t keep track of Jared Hindman yet, I have to wonder why.  You’re missing out on some great content.

Well, it turns out he’s at it again, with Dangerous Delves Doodles – a.ka. Jared’s a Big Dice-rolling Dork (who plays with toys), in which he presents his interpretations of the entire new monster set of D&D Minis.

This time, however, I was beaten to the punch by WotC themselves.  As Jared says in his blog post:

If you check out the official Gallery page of Dungeons and Dragons (Click Here) you might notice something else cool.
Seriously…scroll down to the bottom.

I think it’s fitting that his alternate perspective was listed as Uncommon, don’t you?

I should also note that he’s looking at coming to GenCon this year, and wants to do commissions and requests (including D&D art) to help finance it.

Given the awesomeness of his Artsmash Tequila (and Artsmash Tequila 2), I think he’d be a hell of a participant in our Drunken D&D plans.

In other news, I’m finally graduated from Civil Engineering.  No more exams!  Which means updates may actually be coming soon.

On a related note, does anyone work for an engineering firm and want to hire or recommend me?

I need money so I can commission a banner from Jared Hindman, after all.

32 hours of D&D gaming party!

Remember the bigass 32-hour gaming event my FLGS (GameKnight) hosted last Game Day?

Well, they’re doing it again.  It’s starting… right now, actually.  I probably should have mentioned this earlier.  Oh well.

If anyone in Winnipeg didn’t know about this and wants to come down, get your ass down there!

I’ll write about it after the fact, and maybe post something before I crash tonight.  I will also have a twitter feed going once I get there this afternoon.  Check it out, if you’re into that sort of thing. This liveblog/livetweet/whatever won’t be on the site until later, however.  My schedule lately didn’t give me enough time to set that up.