Archive for Power

Warhammer Quest: Death By 1’s

Posted in Warhammer Quest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Kullervo

I played a bunch of Warhammer Quest with my 5-year old son this weekend. He can’t quickly do the math and he doesn’t understand all the rules, but does grok the basic ideas really well (turn sequence, 1’s in the power phase mean unexpected events, rolling high is good, the guy with the lantern explores the next room, when you run out of wounds you die, etc.) and WHQ doesn’t have so many options that he gets overwhelmed. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he can read really well. In any case, he can hold his own well enough that playing is legitimately a fun time even beyind the basic fun of spending time with my kid.

We decided to go ahead and play campaign-style, so we will be able to visit settlements, spend treasure, train up to new battle-levels, etc. At least in theory. The problem is that at battle-level 1, Warhammer Quest is hilariously lethal. The “roll a 1 phase” phenomenon can quickly devolve into cascading events, most of which are monsters, very quickly, and the players just drown in a sea of evil. Accordingly, we have yet to actually complete a dungeon without all dying gruesomely.

I don’t think it’s a bug though–it adds an urgency that is a lot of fun and feels realistic without being strictly a simulation. If you spend a lot of time fighting and making a ruckus, you run the risk of attracting the attention of other monsters in the dungeon. So it’s not unreasonable that a protracted fight would eventually bring the whole house down on you. And that’s precisely what happened to us.

Yesterday, while descending a staircase, we (Elf and Dwarf played by my son; Dwarf Trollslayer and Wizard played by me) were set upoon by a group of goblin spearmen. Alone, they were not much of a threat and we were well on our way to cleaning them up when we rolled another 1 in the power phase and drew another event: the ceiling collapsed! Suddenly we had two turns to get out of the staircase before the whole thing came down on our heads (this is stressful because it also means that if you decide to go out the wrong door, you stand a chance of permanently cutting off the objective, or worse, locking yourself in a dead end–we played it safe and backtracked so we could at least make it back to civilization even if we couldn’t “win” the dungeon).

But the next turn, before the colllapse had even actually happened, we rolled a 1 again, and drew a mass of orks and ork archers. We were down a few hit points from the goblin fight, and the goblins were not all dead either, and we had spent a turn running away from the cave-in instead of killing the last few goblins, so this was troublesome.

The other problem with roling a lot of 1’s in the power phase is that it means that the wizard does not have much power to draw on, which means he can’t cast a lot of healing spells (or area attack spells, or spells of any kind), so the cascading monster ambushes are compounded by the fact that the wizard is basically running on empty. When the orcs strolled in, I had the wizard burn up all of his reserve power to heal up everyone as much as he could, but that meant he was stuck with whatever the power die gave him for the rest of the game.

And of course, the power die kept coming up 1, which means we kept drawing encounters and the wizard kept not being able to cast spells. The turn after the orks showed up, a mob of skeletons strolled in, and our characters started biting the dust: first to go was the Wizard (which is a problem because the elf’s healing potion was already gone, which means all our sources of healing for the rest of the game were now off the table) and then the Trollslayer. The
Elf went down in short order, as well. There’s only so much you can do when compeltely surrounded by ork and skeletons, and taking fire from ork archers down the hall at the same time.

So the Dwarf was left all alone in a sea of monsters, taking his last stand Davy-Crockett-style. In his last turn he rolled yet another 1 in the power phase, and a gang of skaven pounced on him. The monsters were overflowing into nearby rooms at this point. The Dwarf acquitted himself manfully (dwarffully?), but he didn’t stand a chance. Another party of adventurers never to be seen again.

But we had a good time! My son doesn’t get upset when his guys die; he only gets upset if the game ends too early (so the other night when we drew 3 minotaurs in the first room and all got instantly slaughtered ended in tears). So he was happy as a clam because we got to play for a long time. So was I.

We’ll just have to try again.

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.