Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Proposals for Eberron Characters


Formerly of House Cannith, although possibly still a scion of the house.  He will not have the House Dragonmark, which forever nominated him for a quiet life in the back rooms, designing toys and devices that may never be built and waiting for special projects to appear that he can attach his name too.  


With both parents and potentially two siblings manifesting the Dragonmark, he is the unloved third child of a fairly prominent family.  Each of the others would have the titles of lord and lady, which would have made him quite jealous.


While fundamentally a Guildsman, I play with the idea that not everyone teaches guild rhetoric absolutely.  With no manifest dragonmark my education was put into the hands of a prominent, if dissenting tutor who shaped my worldview with a bias against the ancient War of the Mark, which is House Cannith’s finest hour!  I may have developed a quiet desire to go to the Aberrant’s Last Stand in Sharn.

Alignment, and Consequently, Region

I can’t think what alignment I would want to play besides Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral.  This choice is made because I have so little ability to commit to Evil, whether to push Religious Evil or my own interests at the expense of all others.  I invent to make life easier for everybody who follows the law and serves the guild, and consequently my interests.  This association with my interests and the good of the Guild is significant for what is coming up.  By consequence, this biases me toward the Western Cannith faction.


It would have been my greatest dream come true to manifest the Dragonmark of Cannith late in life.  When a Dragonmark appeared, jubilation turned to panic, and dreams to nightmare.  It was an Aberrant Dragonmark.  Let’s make the Dragonmark itself easily hidden. Its bestowed powers could be passive, but it is infinitely more intense if the Mark bestowed active powers, and then, could not be controlled easily or even at all.  It is now imperative that this character flee the Guild as quickly and quietly as possible, lest he lose his place in it.  What this story lacks is what I would need to ask the DM for assistance with.

The Adventure Seed

This character needs something to quest for.  The greatest treasure possible would be a tool, magic item, or reflecting that he is an artificer, an infusion or spell that can be researched as an infusion.  Spells already exist to change the shape and look of the Dragonmark, but he needs a spell to control his Aberrant Powers.  This target does not need to be real, and certainly does not need to be easy to find, but should be somewhere dark and lonely – robbing the guild treasury is not such a great idea.

Adventuring Props

Whatever the powers of the Aberrant Mark, this character needs another cause to blame for those powers manifesting.  And he is artificer!  This works perfectly!  He will travel with up to three do-nothing machines, such as spinner wheels or jack in the boxes.  When he senses the Mark acting up, he will draw the do-nothing machine that first comes to hand and “trigger it,” then announce to all and sundry that “Sorry! Sorry, no it’s not supposed to do that.  Sorry, experimental!”  He’s an artificer, he is known to be playing around with dangerous infusions, and it is generally known that you cannot do Craft Wonderous Items safely until 3rd level.  These do-nothing machines might leave the character with a fine for Recklessness, or Disturbing the Peace, but that is miles away from being Excoriated for being an Aberrant Dragonmark.

Player’s Request to the DM

Although the quest objective is to restrain and control the Dragonmark, I think I would have more fun in a campaign that keeps pushing the character to explore and harness the Dragonmark.  The setting includes numerous foils that can serve admirably to bring that about, such as the heirs of House Tarkhana.

Possible Other Options

The House Cannith is a great placement for an artificer, but if the character class was different, other Houses could be used instead.  For example, a warrior would come from House Deneith, and would have little besides his weapons and what the Mark gave him.  This seems more limiting, though, so I am not sure I like it.  It also loses the “Sorry, Experimental” excuse, which I thought was mighty clever!

Attitude/ Personality

This character would tend to see himself as a victim.  Rather than dwelling on “Why is this happening to me?” though, he would focus on his abilities as an artificer to support his teammates and let them take center stage.  He would be if anything more comfortable working on another party members problems rather than his own, all the while questing for hidden artifacts or spells that could enable him to return to his quiet workshop at home without fear of discovery.  Most of those spells would come early, but can always be increased in power, duration, or effect with higher levels.

Adventuring Restrictions

Most PC adventurers are a forgiving lot, but there are characters which are riskier than others.  In general, fellow House Dragonmarks are likely to be familiar with what Dragonmarks can do, and more dangerously what they cannot do.  Long term adventuring is likely to give them more opportunities to learn who and what you are, and they are unlikely to be any friendlier knowing than the family back home.  This goes double for House Thurrani characters, which are likely to set his fears to panic.  This is a character who desires very much to get out of the public sight, and fellow Dragonmark adventurers are likely to set him off.

Weapon and Combat Choices

Artificers have the ability to infuse scrolls at first level, potions at second, wondrous items at third, and weapons and armor only at fourth.  Given the choices, any artificer is likely to seek tools that allow him to make best use of his scrolls early.  I’m already picturing a character with a dozen scroll tubes in his backpack, a tool for every occasion.  But that could impose long delays in finding the exact tool he needs in combat.  Two scroll tubes on his belt could help a lot, one on the left and one on the right.  That still doesn’t seem good enough.

Here we go.  My artificer would carry a portable lectern, a clipboard with moldings formed like a crossbow.  There can be three (or more) scrolls mounted to the lectern like window blinds; reloading could take minutes but each scroll could be deployed and cast within the round, and kept organized for the crunch time.  The lectern itself could serve as an anchor for infusions, with a small hood that can be infused with light or a weak spell to repel water.

The only problem with this design is that it cannot include a crossbow – it cannot be loaded as a crossbow.  But a blow gun can be loaded from the front!  Suppose the mouldings housed a blow gun design with a mouthpiece to blow into.  I like this a lot, as this weapon not only allows the use of scrolls for big attacks and a blow gun to deliver smaller, more efficient attacks on normal sized targets.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Blog on hold

Sorry to have to do this, but I've been working too much and have been running on empty.  To make matters worse, I've gotten 26 pages of Victorian Evil written two weeks ago and haven't been able to substantially write to it in a while.  Excuses, excuses, I know, but for now, I need to get back to you guys later with the blog post.  Sorry for this.
Happy Easter,

Friday, 6 April 2012

Know Thyself

I want to blog, and I know that I need to blog, but I just can’t turn my mind to something creative right now. 

Completed Kid Icarus Uprising today – awesome game, kept me busy for weeks, wish there was more by I will be busy for weeks more on higher difficulty levels.  Not sure if I will try the multiplayer, since I would have to go online.  I hate gamers online.

Xenoblade Chronicles – I was hopeful for something else, I guess.  The games controls are byzantine, difficult, and unforgiving.  I hate them!  I do feel for Shulk, though, and while I dread the plot twist that could not be more clearly telegraphed coming about the now “dead” Fiora, I would like to keep going and see what comes of long term.  The emotional depth is a large hit, and it makes it difficult to concentrate.  I feel much more tense, which is something I tend to feel often enough at work and don’t like at home.  The music is hauntingly beautiful, though, and the graphics are solid.

Haunting nightmares.  I see it coming with Fiora, but ironically or by accident of timing, Kid Icarus Uprising touched on the same idea in the final boss battle.  Changing.  Becoming one of them.  Not a new idea, in fact very familiar throughout the whole history of zombies, or werewolves, or vampires.  Now machines.  Or Hades’ underworld monsters.  It is an inherently wasteful process, the recycling of souls, and the bad guys say lots of things to justify this violence, and we stare, mortified but transfixed. 

We ourselves are changing.  Every day we change just a little bit, and so rarely by our own wills, so commonly by the world and outside pressures which grind us down.  Can you tell that my opinion of work influences this? 

And then we meet old friends again, and they see what we’ve become.  In reality, drastic changes kill us, and the essence of what we once were is lost, together with the promise.  Promise.  Ha!  Universally the road not taken, the road closed.  Promise that can no more be fulfilled.  In fiction, the soul survives such changes, persists, despite the change in form, in taste and sensibility, loses itself in the new form and belongs to it.  If the form is evil, either a giant Mechon soldier with a face or a one-eyed laser blaster with tentacles, than it will conduct itself as though that was all it was.
Except when it doesn’t.  Fiction thrives on conflict, and the greatest conflict is not always man versus beast or man versus machine, or even man versus hilariously ugly monster thingy, but man, or soul versus itself.  Conflict such as the innocent, changed by violence to a monstrosity, recognizing itself.  Knowing its’ own soul.  Know thyself.  The words etched into the arch leading to the Delphian Oracle’s chamber in our own reality.  The first truth to know before other truths can follow.  

Thanks for letting me work out my musings today.  I don't know where I am going with this.  And it is scary!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Writer`s Block 4 – Hillarious class design.

Inspiration: This new class inspired by Unforgotten Realms.  check out Robert Moran's hilarious parody of the Role Playing game, and help me put together a class that can bring his zany randomness to the gaming table.  Some of these ideas are going to be better than others, though.

Monocle magic – instantly adjust non magical items to fit any form.  Ritzy monocles, which cost a fortune to tailor, fit any eye socket.

Color magic – change color of self, target.  Colors reflect nothing of value.

Wheel as a shield – AC bonus of 0, but better than nothing!

Puppetry – move objects with progressively more powerful forms of telekinesis, throw voice.
Detect Die rolls

Use Keys at 1D1 Axe weapons

Summon Parabola – Parabola`s paralyse targets with difficult math.  Creatures with intelligence less than 14 are permanently caught (will never solve them).  Otherwise DM rolls 1d4 to determine how long it takes to defeat the parabola.  They otherwise do no damage, and monsters are compelled to attack free targets first.

Letter T – “Scout’s Motto, Mike, Scout Motto.”  “Comes with free Rocket Launcher.”

Jam key into randomly determined square of ground – tone initiates, no other actions result

Puns inflict 1 point of damage

Pokéfy Creature – Nominate a Pokémon type, target creature becomes a Pokémon of that type.  It gains no ability to evolve, and gains no new types of attacks, only adding the named type.  By DM`s choice, the creature`s attacks can be weakened by the transformation.  This transformation lasts 1d10 rounds and as such does not last long enough to permit the character to train in their new powers.

Afterlife = Diddy Kong Racing –  When the hero falls, his spirit is doomed forever to the world of Diddy Kong Racing.  He/She will never be able to walk again, boss attacks are frequent during otherwise mundane activities and you cannot escape the feeling that there are better things you could be doing with this time.  Truly, he/she has the greatest of hells awaiting his/her spirit.
One target creature can`t attack if you cast Powerword ``Wait``.  This is a full round action.

Mispronounce Words – Turns random objects into monsters.  ``You can put random things in AAAAniimey-mey-mey-mey-mey-mey!``  Monsters created by this spell gain no new attacks or move actions, but can snarl and make snide comments as a free action.  Puns continue to inflict 1 point of damage.

Magic Power of Ressurect Foe - `Ah!  This can`t possibly get any worse.``  Remember to do the Mega Man intro.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Writer’s Block #3, Review of Kid Icarus Uprising Bosses

I’m on a kick right now of returning to some of the most iconic, innovative, and thrilling boss fights on Youtube from all gaming.  Kid Icarus, long absent from the gaming sphere, brings his own cast of villains to rank in.  Does the rogues gallery have what it takes to stack up in modern games?

Twin Bellows (land) – this iconic two headed dog is a beast for power, but well timed dodges puts a swift end to him (them?).  The pyrotechnic coat looks impressive, but for a monster whose main attack is charging and crashing, he lacks staying power.

Dark Lord Gaol (land) – yes you are reading right.  Kid Icarus defeats the dark lord in only the second level.  This heavily armored warrior dashes about the arena, with Magnus, your NPC ally, in hot pursuit.  He’ll throw a few surprises your way, but it takes a special kind of failure to be finished by the Dark Lord.

Hewdraw (both air and land) – This three headed dragon can become a challenge without a plan.  While flying in the air the three heads will take turns charging up attacks.  These attacks can hurt, but can easily be stopped.  As each head takes lethal damage, it will be cut away, leaving you to finish off the last head and kill the original body of the Hewdraw.  Trouble is, the other two heads are still alive!  Descending to the ground, Pit must track the Hewdraw heads as they attack a local town, fighting off the army.  The first head will do little more than snap and charge at Pit, dangerous but not too hard to dodge.  The final Hewdraw head has successfully regrown it’s body, and when cornered by Pit will hide underwater, rearing and snapping to attack, or otherwise charging up painful energy attacks.  It takes fair dodging skills to avoid the homing attacks he launches (are those scales, or claws, or what?).  Shoot the glowing energy spheres to drop them into the water, exposing the last Hewdraw and giving you a chance to pummel him.  

This boss is not hard to fight, as it is stretched out over the entire level, and Palutena’s continuous dialog helps keep you on target.  

Great Reaper (land) – The large amount of hit points that the normal size Reapers possess should warn you about the kind of battle you are in for here.  Great Reaper focuses on powerful laser blasts from his Eye, and deadly use of his battle scythe.  There are two levels to this room, and knowing when and how to move quickly from top to bottom  and back again saves you a lot of aggravation.  Stay moving left and right two, as this keeps you from his Eye blast.  Attacking his feet serves as a weak point, but be warned, he is very quick to stomp.  After a lot of injury to his head, victory can be yours.

I’ll remember the Great Reaper for a while, as I certainly have unhappy memories of the Reapers of old.  Careful observation, not panicked continuous attacks, leads to victory.

Pandora (land) – Essentially a shadow with a face, Pandora runs and dodges about the room, challenging you to keep up.  She will keep up the pressure with ranged and energy attacks.  Her true danger was always in her illusions, though, and it was surprising how easily she seemed to give up the mirror.  The following cut scene creates Dark Pit, who immediately betrays Pandora and assists you to kill her.  His welcome distraction makes it very easy for you to land the killing blow on Pandora.

Pandora is almost too easy.  On top of it all, Dark Pit makes it even easier to kill her.  This is too bad, as her level guarding the path to her is top notch and very memorable. 

Dark Pit (Pittoo, but only if you want to eat your socks) – Once again, Dark Pit drags out the battle across the entire stage.  Pit takes to the skies to hunt him and is almost immediately struck by Dark Pit’s fire, which I still can’t tell if he was shooting at me or just attacking random monsters near where I would be…  That’s pretty much how this battle goes, with Pit pursuing Dark Pit as they both fight off waves of underworld monsters until Pit does enough damage to Dark Pit to chase him to the next stage.  The showdown on top of the town has some clever banter, and hints that Dark Pit is some sort of creation of Pit’s deep fears, made real by the mirror of course.  

This battle is nothing special, except for that witty banter.  Pit and Dark Pit trade blows until one falls, but it’s the barbs and insults they hurl, more than the blows, that makes this battle feel like character growth.  Dark Pit’s steadily changing arsenal also helps keep the battle lively.  The difficulty is fair, but nothing challenging.

Thanatos (land) – this boss may be the most standout of all battles, despite all the wrong reasons.  Thanatos’ voice actor conjures Disney clowns to mind, while the writing is trite, and several times focuses on Thanatos’ evasion of questions about his involvement with Medusa.  He has numerous stages to his battle, and changes them when one is no longer effective.  The first stage involves fighting trading shot over range, shape shifting into a giant foot or other attacks.  When he tires of that, he announces that he’s going to take a snooze in his jar, which is completely impervious to direct attack.  Only by meleeing the skulls he launches can Pit break the jar, an overtired tactic for Nintendo to be sure, but hard to do in a range heavy game like Kid Icarus.  The final phase sees him change into a Russian doll, no challenge too difficult to fight since the real one is hiding in the smallest doll.  

Thanatos is a weird boss, and can prove challenging due to his unconventional defenses. 

Space Kraken (land) – this boss may be the oldest retread, as I felt it was just as recently as Skyward Sword that the Kraken had been seen before.  This overgrown tentacle Deku Scrub requires Pit to shoot his five tentacles to reveal the head, then shoot the schnoze.  The tentacles take fair damage and do as much again to Pit.  The final phase involves him spiting lasers, which can be very difficult to avoid.  The head also takes a lot of damage.

This boss suffers more from the act he’s following: Tentalus the fifth level boss of Skyward Sword looked goofy until you realized each of those silly locks was actually a razor toothed snake head.  Tentalus was also harder to hit, perhaps due to his own movements, but more likely from the rocking of the deck where Link fought him.  Neither speaks well of Pit, who can take his time lining up powerful shots and make them count, without an ammo limit!  Space Kraken should probably be left calamaried!  Seriously, that’s all we have to remember him by!

Medusa (air) – Unique among KIU bosses, Medusa won’t even let Pit enter range to shoot her without Palutena’s direct intervention.  She’s a titan too, sorry I meant in size category.  She will fill the screen with fire to make Pit’s life difficult, including blocking whole sections of it for long seconds at a time.  Dodging is a tough order for Pit.  Continuous fire at range makes this battle much easier.  Medusa changes her form and fire type several times, but not the underlying strategy.  In her second form she will reluctantly allow Pit near enough to melee.  In her third, her face changes to a Cyclops and her whole head will chase Pit around the room, raining fire on him. 

In my first throwdown with Medusa, I had quite a few “oh shi-“ moments, but came through without losing a life because of continuous dodging, sometimes crashing right into her traps, with almost no break in fire, and by using the Power Attacks (the ones that fill the screen with Pit’s arrows and kill all enemies/deflect all shots) a couple of times.  This is a tough battle, but not impossible.

And just when you think that’s it over – Pits victory over Medusa is short lived, as Hades, who looks quite a bit more badass but every bit the wise-ass compared to Disney’s Hades, puts a violent stop to the rolling credits to announce that he was the jerk behind all of your enemies.  Without actually telling you why he did all this, he announces that it’s only just begun.  Stay tuned for more.