February 22, 2010

Converting White Plume Mountain, Interlude: Blackrazor and Wave stats from WOTC

The main treasure in White Plume Mountain is the three artifacts - Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor. Way back when, Whelm got stats in Open Grave (since it belongs to the vampire Ctenmiir). Later on, Wave got stats in Plane Below, and WOTC previewed it here.

That leaves Blackrazor, the distant cousin of Stormbringer. WOTC ran a competition looking for good stats for it, and now they've decided to publish the winner. You can see the stats here.

That's all three artifacts covered, and two of them are free. I like it when other people do my work for me.

February 15, 2010

Skill Challenges With Organic Time Limits in 4E

So I've been thinking about skill challenges again. One tweak I've come up with is to add in an organic time limit, by way of two steps:

  • Calculate how many rounds a normal skill challenge would take at maximum, if all rolls contribute either one success or one failure.
  • Add the number of complete rounds to the number of failures needed to fail, but also add one failure per round that passes without the PC:s completing the challenge.

Example: A complexity 5 challenge requires 12 successes before 3 failures. Thus the maximum number of rolls is 14 (11 successes, 2 failures, the 14:th roll decides the outcome either way). A five player party would complete two rounds and be at their third when the challenge completes.
Thus, the modified skill challenge requires 12 successes before 5 failures.

If the PC:s only roll for primary skills without any tricks, this is mathematically identical to the core skill challenge rules, but it opens up several possibilities:

  • You can have secondary skills that grant bonuses to primary skill checks, but rolling for them takes you closer to getting an "extra" failure for taking an extra round.
  • Spending action points to roll for those secondary skills becomes interesting, turning skill challenges from a "free" half-step towards the next milestone into an actual encounter that drains resources.
  • Skill rolls where success/failure count as two of whatever you rolled become more attractive.
  • And of course, a counter-incentive to skipping your turn, since you're usually not better off not rolling now, even if your skills are bad for the situation.

I think I might try this for the next skill challenge I run.

February 08, 2010

Go To Hell

Nono, don't go. Go To Hell is the reason I didn't update last weekend. You dig through the earth, gathering coins to afford the entry fee to Hell. Weird, but an entertaining game. You also have to gather food (each dug tile makes you hungry) and health (tangling with snakes and bats hurts, you know).

So why did I tag this with "Roguelikes"? Just this feeling I get from it. You dig down through layers of the underground, using the terrain as a tool to kill the wandering monsters or avoid them. Sensible stuff works - you can put out torches with water, drown snakes with the same, drop rocks on creatures to splat them. And you, too, can drown or get splatted. Also permadeath - you get lives, but no saves.

There are some glitches, like splatting yourself with a boulder when you push it over an edge, but other than that I can definitely recommend you to Go To Hell.