C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness Pregens for 4th Edition #DnD #ADnD #RPG

Any gamer that knows me well knows that Allen Hammock’s Ghost Tower of Inverness is my favorite RPG adventure of all time. Allen wrote it for the AD&D tournament at Wintercon VIII. I’m arranging to run my 4th Edition D&D conversion again, and that inspired me to post my versions of the pre-generated characters for that game in case my players, or anyone, wants to use them. As 4th edition is often played with 6 characters, I created my own character, Three, which I’ve provided as well. I also took some liberties with the races of the characters for the sake of stirring the pot and updating to the modern gaming community. These were created some time ago, and I’m no min/maxer, so you might want to make some modifications if you’re going to use them.

Discinque, Drow Rogue (Thief)
Hodar, Tiefling Wizard (Mage)
Lembu, Dwarf Fighter (Knight)
Li Hon, Halfling Monk
Three, Warforged Hybrid (Artificer|Swordmage)
Zinethar The Wise Half-Elf Cleric (Warforged)

If you’d like the character builder files, just let me know. WordPress won’t let me upload them here.

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New Living Campaign for #4e #Dungeons & #Dragons #DnD #RPG #GenCon CC: @Erik_Nowak @Luddite_Vic

Information has slowly been swirling through or local Washington, DC gaming community, and to a lesser extent, beyond that. The Gamers’ Syndicate has put synDCon on hold and is focusing its efforts instead on something that you can enjoy all year round: A living campaign for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Many 4e players feel that there’s still more to do with 4e, just as 3rd Edition players felt there was more to do with 3e, and we’re seeking to give 4e players that same opportunity that Paizo gave the 3e players with Pathfinder and, more to the point, Pathfinder Society.

Living Campaign

For those of you that don’t know what a “living campaign” is, I point you to the Wikipedia entry, because Wikipedia never lies. Actually, “living campaign” is often defined differently by different people. To me, the most important aspect of a living campaign is allowing all of us to meet each other. In other words, it grows the role-playing game community; however, there are other important aspects to it. It allows the players to shape the campaign world even though their playing pre-written adventures. That is, if the majority of players accomplished a task in one adventure, that fact will be tracked by the authors and shape how future adventures are written. What the players do matters, even though they’re sharing the experience with thousands of players worldwide.

The Campaign Setting

Every campaign needs a campaign setting: a world that needs protecting and sometimes saving. Some famous examples of Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings include Ed Greenwood’s Forgotten Realms, Keith Baker’s Eberron, and Gary Gygax’s (everyone bow, right now!) Greyhawk. Our campaign setting hasn’t yet been named, but it’s one of our own design, spearheaded by the devious mind of Erik Nowak (who, if you recall, brought us Rotting Toes). Erik premiered the first two adventures (co-written by Dave Phillips) for this campaign setting at synDCon I and synDCon II. The setting is high fantasy, but not quite that high. Characters will use inherent bonuses so that acquiring magic items won’t be critical, and when they are acquired, they’ll be special.

We’re also introducing a mechanic for tracking a character’s reputation in the kingdom, and have a fairly ambitious plan in the works, but those are topics for later posts.

GenCon 2013

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be running the two introductory adventures at GenCon this year, which serves as a sneak preview of the campaign. However, we’re working on the first four adventures, so we’re on track for an official start not too far in the future. Stay tuned.

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D&D Next = Dungeon Crawl System, Second Edition: Validation!

I said this on Twitter, and I’ll say it again here. Based on what I’ve seen from the later D&D 4e products, the current season of D&D Encounters, and D&D Next, I feel like all the work I did on the dungeon crawl system was completely validated. (It’s a shame the Living Forgotten Realms living campaign writers didn’t follow suit, as it would have breathed new life into the campaign.) WotC basically took 4e in the direction I took it about a year ahead of time, and after processing the feedback from 4e players, D&D Next is looking like a “dungeon crawl system, second edition.”

Please note that I’m not suggesting they plagiarized my work (though I know they were aware of it), and even if they did, it’s not illegal. I’m simply pointing out that great minds think alike, and apparently I’m a great mind. 🙂

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Three Thoughts from Last Week’s Game

I’m currently running my 4th edition D&D conversion of the classic AD&D adventure G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King. My players have run through G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and G2: Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and assuming everyone’s interested, G3 will lead to conversions of the D1-2-3 and Q1 modules as well. The conversions have been performed using  my Dungeon Crawl system, which makes high paragon and epic level play much faster, but most importantly, the system allows for a more realistic approach to dungeon crawls, wilderness treks, or other DM stories that make the 15-minute adventuring day seem ridiculous in both 3rd edition D&D and 4th edition D&D (and probably others).

There were three things that came up in that game that I thought were worth noting here.


Here’s the set up: The PCs are opening a door. The door makes noise. There’s no way to stealthily enter without the NPCs being aware of their presence. However, there’s no reason for the NPCs to be on guard. They’re busy working in the armory, so the door opening won’t necessarily be alarming. They might not even look over, meaning the PCs could still get the drop on them (i.e., gain surprise).

Under those facts, whether the PCs gain surprise is really a matter of luck, which is always handled with a die roll. So, I reached back into my (fuzzy) memory and recalled that surprise in AD&D was handled with the roll of a d6. I told the players that I wanted a d6 roll, and on a 1 or a 2, they’d gain surprise. Knowing my tendency to roll low, they asked me to roll the d6, so I said, “Fine, but you gain surprise on a 5 or 6, then.” They said they’d accept that, because they knew my rolling curse wasn’t a matter of always rolling low, but rather always rolling poorly. I rolled a 5. The PCs gained surprise.

My memory was indeed flawed. AD&D surprise was determined by rolling opposed d6s. From the DMG,

Surprise is determined by rolling a six-sided die for each party concerned, modifying the result by using the most favorable member of the party concerned, i.e., a ranger, surprised only on a roll of 1, will represent the whole of a group of other character types. Note, however, the effect of dexterity as detailed below. The same holds for mixed types of monsters. Of surprise is indicated for both parties concerned, the party which has lesser surprise subtracts its result from the result of the greater to find the number of segments the latter are inactive. Nonetheless, it is possible for both parties to be surprised equally — with surprise having no effect.

Surprise is usually expressed as a 2 in 6 chance for all parties concerned . . . . Each 1 of surprise equals 1 segment (6 seconds) of time lost to the surprised party, and during the lost time the surprising party can freely act to escape or attack or whatever . . . .

There’s more, including a table, but that’s the gist of it. Refer to the AD&D DMG for more.

DM Screen

At DDXP a couple of years ago, I was in an official WotC seminar. DDXP is great because the seminars are small but give you access directly to WotC personnel. (Whether this will change now that WotC has pulled out of the Ft. Wayne convention in January remains to be seen.) I mentioned to Chris Perkins that, despite the 4e DM screen being printed in landscape orientation, it’s still too tall. I like having certain information at my finger tips, but even an 8-1/2″ tall screen blocks too much of the battle map. If I can’t see what’s going on, I’d rather ditch the screen and just rely on a player to look up a rule if necessary. The one thing I can’t live without (for 4e D&D) is the DC chart, but as I provided in one of my Protection from Chaos articles, Protection from Chaos, Part IX: For My Conversion of an Adventure, What May I Publish?, I include that in the footer of my adventures.

Bloodied? How Boring

I’ve always used different words to describe a character as bloodied. (For non-4e D&D players, this refers to a character who’s been reduced to half their normal hit points.) For example, mechanical constructs don’t have blood, so it doesn’t make sense to call them “bloodied.” Instead, I call them oily reflecting that oil, not blood, is spewing from their bodies upon taking a certain amount of damage. Not all constructs, however, are “mechanical.” A stone golem is nothing by stone animated by a spirit of some sort, so stone golems get “gravelly.” Here are some of my favorites (YMMV):

Flame creatures steamy (as if doused with water to put out the flames)
Ice creatures watery, wet
Incorporeal creatures (e.g., ghosts) misty
Insects, demons, and devils ichory
Oozes, water creatures low viscosity

As you should always do, I’m just making the game my own. In my case, that means making the game a smart-ass.

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