#RPGaDay2019 31st August: ‘Last’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 31: Last

The last game I was in was D&D 5th Edition, a campaign that I’ve been GMing since the start of the year. We’ve entered the final arc and I’ve got to admit that while I have enjoyed it I am looking forward to a change of system. d20 will never be my system of choice, there are just too many parts that I don’t enjoy. Perhaps the biggest is combat. I am really tired of trying to make combat more interesting when a hit rarely does anything more than whittle away HP. I want each and every hit to have a narrative consequence, not ‘you get hit by an arrow for the 5th time this combat, lose 7 HP’. I’ve got workarounds but ultimately the issue is with the system. We’re probably moving on to Demon Hunters next, which utilises narrative conditions. I can’t wait for the change in pace and the opportunity to introduce the group to the wider world of both the setting and role playing in general.

And with that we bring RPGaDay 2019 to a close. It’s been an interesting challenge responding to the daily prompts and I hope that people have appreciated my stream of consciousness approach to it.

#RPGaDay2019 23rd August: ‘Surprise’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 23: Surprise

When it comes to combat encounters I like systems where surprise makes a significant difference. During one encounter in our current D&D game the PCs set up a well thought out ambush – they had height, concealment and were able to ensure that the enemy had limited options for retreat. They stacked the deck so well in their favour that they downed half the enemy during the first turn (they were only level 3 so no over inflated HPs to grind down). I looked over the numbers again afterwards and it should have been a much harder fight, not the rout that they inflicted.

Unfortunately that is rarely the case. If we had been playing at higher levels the chance of one-shotting an enemy is basically zero, which I find frustrating. Even in games with modern settings and advanced weaponry it is usually exceedingly difficult to down an opponent with a single attack even if you are prepared (GURPS seems to be one of the rare exceptions to this). From a narrative perspective I understand why, it doesn’t make for a great story if PCs can die instantly but I think this is one of those cases where more games would benefit from an asymmetrical approach to character design. NPCs that go down quickly while PCs can almost always take a significant amount of damage. It’s certainly more cinematic though would need to ensure there is a way to heavily wound PCs on occasion.

#RPGaDay2019 21th August: ‘Vast’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 21: Vast

Despite playing a wide variety of systems I’m extremely aware that there are vast sections of the hobby that I have had minimal interaction with. If I created a venn diagram of overlapping spheres of influence my main intersection would be with “traditional non-D&D” then much smaller overlaps with D&D and indie games with a final tiny overlap with OSR and story games. There is just so much out there that I can’t understand how people can stick to just one or even one type of game. I’d happily play or run a different system every day if I could and I’d still only skim the surface of what was out there.

#RPGaDay2019 20th August: ‘Noble’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 20: Noble

The first time I played D&D I ended up playing a character who was pretending to be the servant of a noble PC while we infiltrated a vampires castle. Having to maintain the pretence that I was a downtrodden, bored butler while sneaking around was great fun. We had 2 noble born PCs that had to sell their foppishness while the rest of us had to downplay our character competencies and pretend to be regular members of the household staff. That part of the game, focused on the roleplay was fantastic.

Unfortunately the character build itself wasn’t.

The GM had put it together for me (based on an outline of what I was after) as I was joining an existing game and he had clearly wanted to show off how well he knew the system. As a new player I’d expected a basic sneak/bluff rouge based character but instead found myself with a multi-classed factotum/chameleon that could blend in by switching abilities each day. Not surprisingly that didn’t work out so well. Having picked abilities for the day that facilitated sneaking at the expense of combat I quickly encountered a glass golem that I was essentially unable to harm but the GM really wanted to run the encounter. So I ran, it chased me and we went round and round until I finally succeeding in picking the lock I’d somehow triggered after entering the side tower I was in.

It’s no surprise that the rest of the game followed a similar pattern, a few moments of great RP interspaced with awkwardness and lousy encounters. It wasn’t a great loss when the campaign fizzled out after the very next session.

#RPGaDay2019 9th August: ‘Critical’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 9: Critical

I wish the success of Critical Role would expand out more into the hobby as a whole. I’ve come across so many new gamers in the last few years that have been drawn in by the show but know of virtually nothing outside of D&D. The hardest part is that many aren’t even interested in trying a different game, whether due to a lack of interest in non-fantasy settings or from the belief that you can just reskin D&D 5th edition ad infinitum. I had hoped we’d seen the back of that after the bubble burst on the 3.5/d20 market. It’s especially frustrating as somebody that got into gaming through a society where virtually every table was running a different system. This isn’t to say that I blame Critical Role or wish it didn’t exist. I think they have made tremendous strides in attracting new people to the hobby and showcasing what is possible. I just wonder what they could achieve if they started expanding out into other systems rather than sticking almost exclusively to D&D. They’ve got a fanbase that would leap onto anything that appeared on the show, to the point that even just discussing a smaller game would probably boost its sales significantly.

#RPGaDay2019 6th August: ‘Ancient’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 6: Ancient

Ancient dragons may be a classic creature for D&D but I’ve yet to actually use one in a game for the simple reason that I really hate playing beyond the first tier (Levels 1-10). Go above that and I tend to think the game just slows down too much, the PCs are overpowered and the chipping away at HP becomes excruciatingly slow. How anybody plays all the way to level 30 is beyond me. This means that I spend a lot of time reskinning monsters, using the stats from an established creature as a quick tool to help with balance. As has been pointed out to me in the past D&D stands for Dungeons and Dragons, so why aren’t both given proper spotlight? I need to look through the DMs Guild to see if it has been done but I would really like a compressed version of monsters, allowing for lower tier play without sacrificing the many iconic creatures that the game has developed over the years.

Review: D&D Monster Cards 6-16 by Gale Force Nine

As my D&D campaign has progressed my players have slowly murdered encountered tougher and tougher opponents. It’s the way that D&D works, which meant that sooner or later I was going to want to field creatures with challenge ratings above 5. We’ve now reached that point, so it seems appropriate to review the second of Gale Force Nine’s Monster Card packs, which covers CR 6-16.

This slighly smaller pack provides 74 creatures, once again using a mix of regular and double width cards with images on the front and stats on the back. The majority are double width, which isn’t really surprising given the more complex rules associated with many of these creatures. As with the CR 0-5 pack the cards are of good quality and presented in a consistent, clear format that includes their special abilities. As a reference resource they work, though you’ll need to look up the details of any spells that are listed (which is understandable)

Unfortunately, as with the CR 0-5 pack (reviewed here) Gale Force Nine have chosen to omit a number of monsters, including some of the more iconic entries. You get, for example, all of the Young Dragons but not a single Adult Dragon. There’s also no Beholder but for some reason the CR 17 Dragon Turtle and Goristro are present (I don’t know if this is a mistake in my pack or not because GF9 don’t list the contents anywhere I could find). Apparently some of the omissions are because they didn’t want to include anything with a lair action, which I think is a rather ludicrous choice given the stated CR range.

All in all the pack is rather disappointing, while I will make use of the cards for quick reference the omissions compromise it too much for me to recommend it at the RRP of $16/£13. That goes double if you already have easy access to the Monster Manual.

All reviews are rated out of 10, with Natural 20s reserved for products that go above and beyond my expectations. Unless otherwise stated all review products have been purchased through normal retail channels.