Archive for Ooze

D&D 4e Essentials Hexblade: Other Pacts

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2011 by Kullervo

The D&D Essentials player’s guide Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms gave us the Hexblade, a Warlock variant that draws on otherworldly power through pacts with powerful extraplanar beings and channels this power into a sorcerous weapon. This is, of course, insanely awesome.

In HoFK we get the Infernal Pact and the Fey Pact versions, and DDI gave us a Star Pact hexblade. The Fey Pact’s power comes from deals made with powerful archfey, the Infernal Pact’s power comes from deals made with archdevils (well, as per HoFK it draws on loopholes in ancient pacts that Bael Turath made with archdevils; I think this is a sissy move, but I will post more about that another time), and the Star Pact, assuming it is the same as the regular Star Pact Warlock in the 4e Player’s Handbook, has pacts made with the alien stars of the Far Realm.

All of this is great, and I lvoe this class and the ideas in it, but it leaves me wanting more. If this kind of power is available through deals with three different kinds of powerful extraplanar archbeings, why not all the other kinds of powerful extraplanar archbeings? Dark Sun has already given us a Sorcerer King pact Warlock. What else could we have?

Here are my ideas:

Grave Pact: Power from deals made with dead/undead ancestors or other powerful ghosts in the Shadowlands. Essentially the same as the Abyssal Exalted. Consequently, this is the idea I like best.

Demon Pact: If it’s okay to deal with the Far Realm, it’s okay to deal with the Abyss. At first glance, a Demon Pact might sound like it would be effectively identical to the Infernal PAct, and while that’s one way to take it, I think there are some interesting and diverse options. What would a warlock be like whose pact was made with Juiblex?

Titan Pact: Why not some kind of elemental pact, made with the titans of the Elemental Chaos? Or maybe zero in on just one interesting kind, like a Frost Titan pact or even an Eldritch Titan pact? What would that look like? It would be tempting to just come up with some generic “elemental pacts,” but I feel like the 4e cosmology offers more interesting options.

Void Pact: A pact made with a terrible slaad lord like Ygorl?

Primal Pact: What about pacts made with the powerful essence of the material plane? Instead of tapping that power in the usual way, what if you could bind it with eldritch rituals? Some kind of Druid/Warlock hybrid, perhaps?

Dragon Pact: Dragons so powerful and ancient that they spend almost all their time dormant, but are immense wellsprings of arcane power. Possibly based on lore passed down from the ancient empire of the Dragonborn?

Angel Pact? What other possibilities are out there? It seems like there’s a ton of untapped potential. I think most of it could be accomplished by cosmetic re-skinning of existing Warlock/Hexblade options, requiring minimal actual rules-tinkering, but maybe I am underestimating it.

Advanced Space Crusade Variant: Dungeon Storm

Posted in Advanced Space Crusade with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2011 by Kullervo

After some contemplation (and a legendary marathon weekend of play), my brother and I have come to the conclusion that Games Workshop’s Advanced Space Crusade is one of the most brilliant skirmish boardgames ever invented.

The game combines operational strategy, the fog of war, and tactically interesting and engaging combat (courtesy of an elegant reaction system that lets your forces respond to the actions taken by enemy forces, without necessarily bogging the game down too much at the scale implemented in the game) in a way that is, above all, an enormous amount of fun.

Our first epiphany following this realization was that expanding ASC would be easy.  While the game as written pits Space Marines against a Tyranid Hive ship, it would not be too hard to extrapolate ASC’s profiles against what we know about the Warhammer 40k game to come up with profiles and rules for basically every GW miniature invented.

Including Lictors, Carnifexes, Spore Mines and Zoanthropes among the Tyranid forces is a clear no-brainer (although they, like anything over the 40 point blip cost, should probably be paid for and used in game like mind slave blips, i.e., they have their own points cost and you can’t recycle them, unlike standard 40-point blips).  but what about alternate invaders?  The rules already provide for Chaos Space Marines–it would be simple to just come up with rosters and rules for Eldar, IG, Tau or any other 40k army.

And why does it have to be the Tyranids?  Why not an invasion of an Ork space hulk?  A Necron tomb?  A hive world overrun by Chaos Cultists?  These variants require a little more work, as you would need new board sections and new cards and a dozen other tweaks, but still nothing prohibitively difficult.  The more we thought about it, the more excited we became.

Eventually, we realized that the game system would work fine even outside of a Warhammer 40k context.  Once we’re already statting up new forces, tweaking the rules, drawing new board sections and making new cards, the sky is really the limit.  Any scenario involving an attacking force going into close quarters to fight a lurking enemy is a perfect recipe for the ASC rules.

And that’s when we invented Dungeon Storm.

The basic idea is a D&D/HeroQuest/Warhammer Quest style dungeon crawl, but with an operational element.  In other words, instead of one party invading a dungeon to kill monsters ant take their stuff, we imagine a coordinated company of adventuring parties, acting in a more organized fashion.  The basic tactical unit is still the traditional adventuring party (a warrior, a magician, and one to three others depending on your favorite source material), but with a command structure.

The dungeoneer player builds units of adventurers by purchasing adventurers from a list, with some constraints (off the top of my head, each Party must have 3-5 adventurers which have to include 1-4 warrior-types, 1-3 specialist/rogue types and 0-2 magic/priest types).  Individual adventurers come a la carte, but you can mix and match within the constraints to come up with your favorite combinations.

Inaddition to Parties, the dungeoneer player an purchase Legends and Extras.  Legends include heroic, powerful solo characters, legendary (non-customizable) parties, and dungeoneer-friendly monsters.  Extras are weird crap like a forge, a cannon, a huge idol or a beer wagon that will provide some kind of benefit to the dungeoneer’s forces while being hilarious to put on the board.

The dungeon master player buys monsters and traps to pit against the dungeoneers.  Monsters, like the tyranid forces in ASC, are bought either as recyclable blips (with a standard points cost) or as unique monsters (usually with a higher points cost, and you can’t re-use them when they die).  Blips are bought off of one of several lists, depending on the theme chosen by the dungeon master player, or alternately from a list of generic dungeon denizens (standard stuff like rat swarms, giant spiders, and oozes that are a good fit to any dungeon).

Right now we’re working on two themed lists, greenskins (orcs, ogres, goblins) and undead (zombies, skeletons, and mummies).  The dungeon master player picks one of these lists and can freely buy blips off of the sleected list and/or from the generic denizens list.  If the dungeon master player wants to buy blips off a different themed list, he has to treat them like unique monsters.  I other words, they won’t get re-used.

Unique monsters are more powerful, cost more, and as mentioned twice before, do not get re-used.  This list will include things like trolls, dragons, demons, manticores, basilisks, and such.

Traps are bought with points like everything else, and can be used in limited numbers per board section per fight, but whether or not the traps are ever sprung or found, they can not be re-used.  So it makes sense to only buy traps that will be placed in a likely spot–but this also gives an advantage to the dungeoneer player who can count on traps to more likely be where it makes sense for them to be, i.e., high-traffic areas.

Rules-wise, we’re not talking about much departure from ASC.  Offensive spells and magic will mostly just be written into model profiles like weapons.  We’ll need new exploration cards and new board sections, but we were talking about doing that anyway.  And we’re not completely sure what role treasure will play, if any, but right now we’re thinking about including limited artifact-type treasures that can be put to immediate use, but not a lot else.  And like in ASC, there’s a victory condidion.

Hopefully we can get something cobbled together enough (and conquer the geography problem–we don’t live enar each other) to playtest it sooner rather than later.