Friday, January 15, 2016

Thought of the Day #4 - D&D Initiative Deck

Or rather, shuffle and draw instead.


Thomas asked me about Initiative Tracking apps and in our discussion this morning I had this thought... A quick Google Search shows this might be a distillation or alternative to an existing alternative Initiative systems, but I'll flesh it out here quickly anyway.

Part of the tediousness of rolling initiative is having all the players roll, do the (basic) math of adding DEX and other bonuses and then getting everyone organized to tell their initiative to whoever is tracking it. One thing Thomas wants to try (and I do too, now) is maybe having initiative change each round (or could of rounds) to keep players on their toes and great a more dynamic combat. The roll method makes this difficult and existing initiative apps might have their own drawbacks, so why not...

  • Take 20 blank playing cards for each player and number them from 1+ the PC's initiative modifier to 20+ the PC's initiative modifier with the PC name on them as well.
    • So the Cleric with +0 to DEX would have cards from 1-20, the Rogue with +4 to DEX would have cards from 5-24 and so forth.
    • I had initially proposed 10 cards per deck, which you could still do, but Thomas correctly points out that would inflate the impact of DEX bonuses.
  • Instead of "rolling" players would shuffle and draw their card for initiative.
    • These could be quickly sorted and displayed.
    • The cheap alligator clip photo display stands would work well for this, or just binder clips.
    • This method also lets Barbarians draw two cards when they have advantage on initiative checks.
  • The speed of shuffling, drawing and sorting could possibly allow you to redo initiative each round of the combat.
  • The DM could have their own set of initiative cards for monsters, or could just roll a d20 as normal. I find that getting monster/adversary initiative in the order doesn't take as long.
    • If the DM uses cards, they could pre-roll or draw initiative before the session, to prevent them from having to sort through their decks of cards.
    • I'd use blank playing cards for sturdiness/ease of shuffle, but you could also do flash cards or half-size index cards to get different colors.
The biggest downside I see, is that I just got a swanky Dice Tower with magnetic initiative tracker for XMAS... But... I could have the players use them, keep their cards where they could see and then I could use just the magnetic tracker on my side of the screen for my tracking, then I would cut out the time I spend keeping the set of initiative the players see on their side of the screen...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thought of the Day #3 - Two Toss Off Campaign Pitches



Two quick campaign pitches that have been on my mind that I'll probably never run in D&D.

  • Megadungeon Siege
    • The PCs are in a city under siege and tasked with clearing out the megadungeon under the city to open a supply line out of the city.
    • Good for a limited series, 6-12 sessions.
  • Bounty Hunters
    • Probably because I saw the Hateful Eight, but I think having the PCs play Bounty Hunters could provide a good frame for a D&D game that runs on an occasional basis with easy to identify goals for each session.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Dortherdoreft: Initial Thoughts and Lessons

Spoiler: the Derro babies in cages totally stole the show...


So, Thomas and I ran our two session, same dungeon, themed New Year's D&D, Dortherdoreft. First he ran a party of all Dwarves through and then 48 hours later I ran a party of all Drow through. We wanted to both have some iconic player character class choices, like Dwarven Cleric and Drow Priestess of Lolth, and also to feature some icon Underdark features. We also decided to try and provide both some challenges for the PCs but also some places where their iconic abilities could shine. Here are my thoughts about how it went and lessons learned, both as player of a Dwarf Battlemaster Fighter and as a GM. We're hoping to tweak and write up the adventure for everyone to take a look at, but for now, here's some initial thoughts. You can find Thomas' thoughts on Dortherdoreft on his blog.


A Bang & then a Whimper - The Final Dispatch from Parcher's

When we left our rag-tag band of PCs and their 50-60 hangers on (in addition to Pinky's gang, Man also decided to take the 'hav...