Friday, April 9, 2010

[DND] PH3-izing Ability Scores

Inspired by @digitaldraco's question on Twitter,
Would it break any rules balance to give other races the same kind of ability score options that PH3 races get?
I thought about it, and I don't see how this would affect the rules at all.  If one were to start handing out additional +2 bonuses to third and fourth ability scores, sure, that would throw off the balance.  Just rearranging the bonus, though?  All I can see that "breaking" is the flavor of each race, which has nothing to do with the rules or game balance.

My second thought was that players might try to take advantage of this and create weird, illogical ability score combinations (like +2 CHA for Dwarves, when pre-4E Dwarves have historically taken a penalty to Charisma).  I figured splitting the stats into Physical (STR, CON, DEX) and Non-Physical (INT, WIS, CHA) and only exchanging between them (like giving Elves +2 WIS and the option of +2 DEX or +2 STR because they're both Physical stats) would make sense.  I compared the ability score options for the existing PH3 races, and they don't follow this pattern, so I guess we can scrap that idea.

I looked harder for a pattern in the PH3 races' optional ability scores, and I thought I found one.  Some races offer a choice between DEX and INT (Githzerai, Changeling).  Not consistent with my "Physical/Non-Physical" idea, but they do affect the Reflex defense and add to Armor Class.  Other races offer a choice between WIS and CHA (Shardmind).  So I figured, maybe they only offer ability score choices between those that key off the same defense?  Then along stomps the Minotaur and Wilden with more inconsistent options: CON or WIS and CON or DEX!

Based on this, I guess there is no real pattern or precedent for which ability scores can be interchangeable.

So then I began to wonder: which ability score options would be available to the PH and PH2 races?  Here's my opinion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

[DND] Character Concept - WAR D&D: Witch Elf

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog article about building a character for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons based on Robert E. Howard's character, Solomon Kane.  As I built the character, I realized that it could also pretty closely simulate a Witch Hunter from EA Mythic's Warhammer Online (WAR).  I had so much fun doing that article that I decided I'd try doing a character concept article for all 24 classes in WAR.

A little background info first: WAR really only has 12 different classes, but the opposing faction mirrors those 12 classes for a total of 24.  In this article, I intend to build a D&D4e character that could feasibly stand in for the Witch Hunter's mirror class: the dark elves' Witch Elf.

From the Witch Elf description page:
A Witch Elf can be an unstoppable force of death and destruction under the proper circumstances. By picking their targets carefully, the Witch Elf can win a fight in a short amount of time. A Witch Elf prefers to rapidly close with lightly armored targets, where their wicked poisons can find exposed flesh. Using a combination of rapid attacks, the Witch Elf works herself up into a Frenzy to execute powerful attacks that will stop most opponents dead in their tracks. When facing a heavily armored foe, the Witch Elf relies on her agility to survive long enough to pick apart her opponent's defenses and opening him up to a savage death blow.
  • Lightly armored and agile, capable of closing long distances rapidly
  • Wields long sacrificial daggers coated in deadly poisons
  • Armor is adorned with razor sharp hooks, and wickedly barbed metal plates
With this in mind, I decided to focus on these main themes:
  • lightly armored
  • long, deadly daggers
  • speed and agility
  • strong bursts of damage
  • poison attacks
Thanks to a little help from Dragon Magazine issue 373, I think my Witch Elf turned out pretty well.  Read on for all the bloody, eviscerated details.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

[DND] Character Concept - Solomon Kane

Honestly, I didn't know anything about Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane until last summer at San Diego Comic-Con. I happened to catch the tail end of the Solomon Kane movie preview panel because I wanted to see some other programming happening later on in the same room. When they played the trailer for the film (which apparently never got a distributor for a U.S. release), it enthralled me instantly.

You see, back then, I played more than my fair share of Warhammer Online. The imagery of Solomon Kane in the movie reminded me very much of the Witch Hunters in that world, which I also found fascinating.  Naturally, I immediately want to put such imagery into game terms, so I decided to translate this idea into a D&D character.

To start off, I wanted to identify a few core themes and characteristics that I deemed most vital to the character:
  • devout piety
  • singular focus on seeking out and punishing evil
  • expert swordsmanship
  • flintlock pistols
  • pimp hats
In D&D4e terms, the religious aspect of the character led me to the Divine power source, while the swordsmanship and pistol aspects sounded more like a Martial discipline. To get as close to the source character as possible, I decided I would have to build the concept character as either a Multiclass or a Hybrid. I built one of each, and I go into excruciating detail about them below. So let's get down to it.