Monday, January 22, 2007

Stuff You Hope the DM Doesn't Say

The armored Knight of Death laughs menacingly as you strike at him with your cursed Longsword of Foolishness. Roll for damage.

Character Name Generator

Reading an article on Wizards.com about saving a game where the PCs have ridiculous PC names, I found a link at the bottom to the Character Name Generator.

Ever get stuck for names of NPCs your player characters run into that you never expected to provide them? Here's a fast and easy way to have many monikers on hand when Rodar the fighter wants to know the name of the brash drunk challenging him to a fight in the tavern, or the name of the shy barmaid over whom they're fighting. Simply follow the instructions below to produce names for all sorts of characters, including PCs if you like.

Let's try it out, shall we? Looking around the Seamist-Inn this afternoon, you can see the usual cast of shady and unsavory characters sitting in the various booths and spread out at the bar.

  • Jamroar (Male Half-Orc Blackguard), a.k.a. Jamroar the Blackguard or Jamroar the Bearer/Porter, is in the booth in the corner energetically drinking ale from one mug and a stale-looking beer in the other.
  • Sitting across from Jamroar is Belhorn Forgedown (Male Elf Assassin), a.k.a. Lord Belhorn, slowly nursing his small mug of ale with disinterest.
  • Nerisella Smilebeard (Female Gnome Ranger) slouches relaxed on a stool at the bar with her back and elbows reclined against it.
  • Norendithas Silversgleaming (Male Half-Elf Shadowdancer), the inn's Baker, is showing off his moves for Nerisella in the middle of the room.
  • The inkeeper's wife, Ravaella Armorsmith (Female Human Bard) is strumming fast and rhythmically on a twin lute/reed instrument while tapping her boots on the dusty wooden floor. The tune is exotic, but ignorable.
  • Farther down the bar, Krisella (Female Half-Orc Assassin), a.k.a. Lady Krisella or Krisella the Hunter, is enquiring about a room.
  • The innkeeper, Leoamros Armorsmith (Male Human Commoner) is smiling conversationally while weighing the assassin's coins. As you know, he's also keeping one eye on the rest of the room, pausing momentarily to glance disapprovingly on Norendithas' dance moves.
  • Sitting in another booth by himself, reading by the light of a solitary candle, is Leoroar Littleknight (Male Halfling Sorcerer). His bifocals rest neatly on the tip of his nose as he sips absent-mindedly from his mug of spiced rum.

Give it a try at Character Name Generator

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Killing an Elephant

So in a game played over the Christmas break with Nate and Beth as Elven characters and myself running the show, I was quite surprised by their reactions, specifically within one encounter. I completely made up a random dungeon and a random reason for them to be there. As part of picking random encounters for this dungeon, I stopped on the page in the Monster book about Elephants. They are NOT subterranean creatures and the encounter occurred underground in a rough-hewn cave network. However, I thought that it might be usable. Just for fun, I put the elephant as a captive in a rickety cage and also made him a little sick with hunger. I could come up with ten reasons for the animal to be there, but I never really needed to.

I made the encounter threatening, as the characters needed to traverse the room right past the large cage, but everyone knows elephants are herbivorous, so I assumed they would avoid or --perhaps-- rescue the creature.

Instead, as the creature banged his massive forehead harder and harder on the cage walls, the characters began to attack him. WTF? I kept my response minimized and let them. Keep in mind these are both Neutral Good characters. There were plenty of other ways to avoid this fight, including simply ducking out and going around some other way in the cave network. The cave paths between rooms were not large enough for the elephant to travel himself. In fact, that should have been a big alert for the characters. How did this thing even get in here in these tight quarters. Instead they started firing arrows and then moved in for melee.

Compounding their mistake was the fact that this animal is an 11HD creature with hit points to spare and their characters were not as powerful. It quickly became enraged and bashed down the cage walls. They could have done well with spells or ranged weapons, but the Fighter Mage decided to move in for melee... and didn't do very well.

I don't mean to make fun. I mean that I (as the Dungeon Master) should have done slightly better in this encounter. I could have better conveyed the pitiful condition of the creature or made it more clear that they had other avenues. Or I could have simply stopped the action before it started and suggested that they consider if their alignment and their actions matched. Instead, the elephant eventually died after bashing the pair around a bit.

Anyone have any suggestions? What should I have done? And now that it happened should I consider even awarding XP in this case?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dragons As Well As Heroes

We're our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thongolir Heir Seeks Wife

This is a funny article on Wizards.com that I decided to use for my campaign. I kept the nobleman's name the same, but changed only the dateline.

Zethul -- Dolerphus Thongolir IV has put out a public call for a "kind, gentle woman who loves to cook, knows how to ride, won't disapprove of frivolity, hard drinking, or long hours of neglect while I attend to work, and is willing to share my bed." Thongolir promises to make his bride more wealthy than most women ever dream of becoming (his generally well-thought-of family is rich indeed), and the "work" he refers to is the family business concerns of calligraphy, limning, and printing.

Questioned bluntly as to the reason for his unusual request, the tall, slender, and handsome Thongolir heir replied that he now believes he can find a suitable life-mate only by casting his net wider afield. He has become disgusted by the predatory courtesans, daughters of ambitious wealthy merchants, and jaded, dishonest noblewomen who keep trying to snare him.

The article was written by Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood. Read the original Waterdeep News: Thongolir Heir Seeks Wife.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ask Wizards - 2007/01/02

Q: Dear Sage,
Does the monk's fast movement class feature apply to all forms of movement?
--Brad

A: Since the entry doesn't limit the bonus to just the character's land speed, it's fair to apply it to all speeds the character possesses.

This question and it's answer made me think about all of the possible movement options that certain non-humanoid characters (PCs and NPCs) could possess. This is a +10 feet bonus that comes at 3rd and increases by 10 feet at every three levels.

Aarakocran Monks would gain this bonus to their flying speed as well as walking. Aranean Monks would gain this bonus for their web-walking abilities in whatever forms they can use the ability. I can also imagine swimming or burrowing monks.

This could get interesting.

'Lost 39th' Regiment Emerges From Talorn Reach

This story and adventure seed reminded me of twilight episodes with it's weirdness.

MOONWATCH — A regiment of Brelish infantry lost since 972 marched into Moonwatch from the southwest, ending a 26-year mystery into their disappearance during a routine troop transfer to a garrison on the southwest coast.

According to numerous eyewitness accounts, the soldiers expressed amazement at the current date. Nor had they noticeably aged during their disappearance of more than two decades.

The regiment will board sea vessels tomorrow for the journey to Sharn. Once there, they'll be questioned about their missing time, then ceremonially mustered out of the crown’s service.

At this point, we believe that the 39th was the victim of some sort of fey enchantment, and we hope to get more details in the next few days, said King's Citadel captain Rollis ir'Ondric, deferring further comment until the 39th Regiment arrives.

Morgrave University arcanist Gillan Luhensia said that episodes of 'elastic time' are characteristic of fey magic.

Both traditional folklore and more academic sources are full of episodes where someone will fall asleep amid a faerie circle and wake up a month or a year later, she said. But for hundreds of soldiers to simultaneously undergo elastic time represents a watershed for our understanding of the phenomenon.

Folk tales about time slowing down or speeding up are common in southwest Breland, Luhensia said, and many even reference the Talorn region specifically. But thus far, arcanists have been unable to duplicate or observe the phenomenon directly.

If we can't figure out the conditions under which it occurs, that often means that it's not the place itself that's altering time. It's probably a powerful fey creature or creatures within the Talorn, she said.

Why a creature would trap a regiment within elastic time, then free them unharmed is a matter for others to speculate on, Luhensia said.

Because many members of the 39th Regiment were recruited from Sharn, a homecoming parade is planned for two weeks time. City officials said a parade time and designated route would be ready in time for next week's Sharn Inquisitive.

The Talorn is a known home of many dangers, including flesh-eating satyrs and strange fey tricksters. While it contains thousands of acres of theoretically arable farmlands, past efforts to settle it have fallen victim to strange mishaps, unusual weather—and perhaps the superstitious fears of the settlers.

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