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Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 7

June 3, 2010 in Podcast

The part of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages.” The gargoyles comes to life, the party faces a dragon, and the adventure moves into the down proper.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid|Shaman
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 6

June 2, 2010 in Podcast

The first half of the third session of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages.” The party faces down another group of savage Bullywugs, including a fire-belching Mud Lord. Mayrik’s spirit companion (lovingly dubbed ‘Bob’) takes quite a beating, much to May’s chagrin and detriment. The party also finds a set of strange objects that literally need puzzling out.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid|Shaman
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 5

May 14, 2010 in Podcast

Session Two of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages.” The party experiences a shocking incident from the outset and face several bands of monsters while pushing deeper into the Darkfall Manor vault.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid|Shaman
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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by Jim

Story-Based Class Changes

May 10, 2010 in Adventure

“There is a flash of light in the room and Mayrik suddenly reappears. The flash catches everyone’s attention, and as you look, Mayrik lifts her head. Heroes and enemies alike are taken aback by the change in her appearance and demeanor. Her eyes flare briefly with primal light, almost like purple burning flames. She seems changed in other, non-visible ways — and she is now accompanied by a Spirit Companion.”

In our group, we have five players covering three roles — one Defender, two Strikers, and two Controllers. Our first session together made it clear that the lack of a Leader made healing in combat a lot more difficult. The Paladin has some limited ability to heal, but two uses of Lay on Hands isn’t necessarily enough to get a party through a particularly intense encounter. Fortunately, I have a very flexible group of players, and the Druid volunteered to modify her character so the party could have a little extra healing clout during combat.

The trouble was that the party had been locked in this dungeon with no opportunity for release until the quest’s completion, and I knew that the hardest encounters were yet to come, so there was no way the Druid would be able to find a way to receive new training without help. So of course a supernatural solution presented itself.

The party had just completed clearing a cavern of some rather pesky rat swarms. The original story I’d planned for the party was to have them make a couple of skill checks in order to cross a deep hole in the floor, but once the Druid volunteered to modify her class, I decided to change tack.

Just as the party slew their final rat (Trayanor crushed it beneath his armored boot), they found themselves magically whisked away to random locations in another part of the dungeon. There’s always a catch, though, and this case was no exception. The party discovered, much to their chagrin, that the process of being teleported so unexpectedly left them dazed. To make matters worse, they had been teleported right into combat. And to make matters even worse, they had reappeared minus their Druid.

First round of combat was rough for our heroes as they struggled to shake off the disorienting effects of being yanked so violently across space. A couple of them had ranged attacks and so were still able to inflict a little pain on their enemies. Once past the first round of combat, however, the action paused briefly as a brilliant flash of light lit the room, and the scenario above played out. The Druid had been transformed into a Hybrid Druid|Shaman by an unknown source, adding a bit of extra healing power for the party. Of course, there are more than likely other implications from this transformation, but that’s a story for another time.

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Breaking the Minotaur Mold

May 7, 2010 in Player's Drawing Board

I’ve been building a Minotaur character for myself since ever since the Player’s Handbook 3 came out, even before I decided to put together a D&D gaming group. I’ve always been fascinated by the minotaur in classic mythology. So when I saw that Wizards of the Coast had added Minotaurs as a playable race, I just had to check it out. And since I rarely ever do things according to the norm, I decided to break the typical minotaur mold in my character creation as well.

In the vast majority of pictures you see of minotaurs wielding weapons, they’re either swinging axes or some sort of club with wicked spikes. I wondered what it would look like to see a minotaur wielding a regular sword. But again, I didn’t want to have a Minotaur PC who was plain vanilla Fighter, so I took a brief walk through some of the other classes available for play. What I decided to go with was a Minotaur Swordmage, mixing intelligence and strength (two stereotypical abilities) with magic and cunning (two abilities that one might not necessarily associate with a minotaur) — and frankly, I love the visual of a Minotaur teleporting all over the battle field.

Since then I’ve been massaging the statistics for my character and developing a backstory that explains his unusual choice of training and abilities. The articles that Wizards has published over the last few months have helped tremendously in decided which feats and powers to start with. As I learn more about the mechanics of 4th Edition, I’ve been able to make more intelligent decisions about how to adjust my stats to my liking. I might even share the character sheet later for anyone interested.

So now I have this teleporting Minotaur Assault Swordmage named Thogold Bloodsword. I see him as a character who has undergone severe hardship in his life, not least of which was by the hands of his blood clan. These and other hardships have caused him to seek out a somewhat different path and career than is typical for his race. He has trained hard and now stands on the cusp of testing himself against the real world. I’m eager to see Thogold join up with an adventuring group and watch the course of his progress in battle. I think he will be a formidable foe on the field of battle, one who won’t just let enemies slip away unnoticed.

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Houseruled Forceful Push

May 5, 2010 in Dungeon Mastery

Attentive listeners to the podcasts of the first session of Darkfall: Oracle of Ages may have noticed a small implementation error of Caremita Dawntracker’s Forceful Push power. Neither the player nor I noticed that, despite being a free action, Forceful Push is an encounter power. Throughout the entirety of the session, we had played it as an At-Will power, which I’d noted during the session seemed over-powered and might need to be limited. Once I looked up the power afterward, I realized that Forceful Push was only meant to be used once per encounter.

Forceful Push Unfortunately, the liberal use of Forceful Push was a major part of the fun for Caremita’s player, and removing the ability to use the power more than once per encounter took much of the excitement out of the game for her. One of the great things about D&D (and about being the DM) is the fact that the game allows you to fudge the rules when you need to in order to make sure the game stays fun for everyone. In this case, I decided to take another look at Forceful Push and see if there was a way to modify the power to make sure it was still fun for the player to use without it, in turn, being too overpowered.

Making Forceful Push an At-Will power was simply out of the question. I’d already seen that, as a free action, it was too powerful to be an At-Will power, and making it an At-Will minor or standard action still seemed too powerful to me. So how could Forceful Push be modified to keep it as an Encounter power while still giving the player more access to use it? Turns out, the answer was simple: Certain Encounter powers in D&D have the ability to be recharged after they’ve been used the first time. What I’ve done with Forceful Push in this case is to add a Recharge 6 clause to the power. That way, once the player uses Forceful Push and her turn comes around again, she rolls 1d6, and if a 6 comes up, the Forceful Push power charges up again and is available for Caremita to use to move an enemy around the field of battle. This gives Caremita a chance to use Forceful Push more than once in an encounter and adds a certain amount of additional unpredictability to battles. Win-win.

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Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 4

April 20, 2010 in Podcast

This is part four of the first session of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages” from the “Codrus’ Labyrinth” campaign.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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by Jim

Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 3

April 20, 2010 in Podcast

This is part three of the first session of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages” from the “Codrus’ Labyrinth” campaign.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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by Jim

Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 2

April 20, 2010 in Podcast

This is part two of the first session of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages” from the “Codrus’ Labyrinth” campaign.

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin

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by Jim

Darkfall: Oracle of Ages – Episode 1

April 18, 2010 in Podcast

This is part of one of the first session of “Darkfall: Oracle of Ages.”

Jim Stitzel as the Dungeon Master
Liz as Caremita, the Eladrin Psion
Kristen as Mayrik, the Razorclaw Shifter Druid
Jesse as Alaston, the Human Ranger
Joe as Chorazin, the Human Monk
Karley as Trayanor, the Half-elf Paladin