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Posts Tagged ‘Pirates’

Adapting Old Modules for 4e

December 1, 2011 6 comments

The pirate campaign has been great fun so far. For this campaign we are throwing XP out the window, and round-robin DMing; leveling up any time we switch DMs. Our initial adventure is complete, and we’re setting sail to unknown horizons. DM for next level: This guy.

I love reading through old modules for inspiration, and I love the old school aesthetic. I found one particular module that I think lends itself to adaptation for our pirate campaign: B4 The Lost City. I’m aware that this particular mod has already been updated, but for Paragon Tier, of which our new scurvy dogs are not even close. I don’t want to give too much away, as several of the crew keep tabs on the blog, but I did want to mention that the process has been really fun, and a lot less painful than I anticipated. Most of the monsters already have 4e stats, and the trap damage can be updated by roughly multiplying the potential damage by about 4x. Other than that, its just a matter of drawing the maps. The old maps typically are 1 square = 10 feet, rather than 1:5ft., but that just makes for a more spacious map!

I’ve heard the complaint of so many fights in 4e being a squad of bad dudes in a room 8 squares by 8 squares, but its funny how often I’m encountering that very same setup in the earliest days of D&D. Dust off your old mods, and take a look. You might be surprised!

Don’t be afraid to try a 4e conversion of an old module. Its been a really fun and educational experience for me. Have you had a similar experience, or was a conversion a big pain? Let us know in the comments below!

Using video games as inspiration or research – naval weapons

November 21, 2011 Comments off

The guys at Skyland Games do not live in an analog bubble. We play video games, just like a huge percentage of the gaming population. Some people feel like 4e plays like a video game already, and some think that’s awesome. We love games of all types, we just generally choose to blog about RPGs and Board Games. That being said, the two do not have to live completely separate compartments in our brains. Many of you won’t be reading this article for a few weeks, because your every spare minute is dedicated to Skyrim. Having seen the immersive awesomeness therein, I completely understand. See you in a few months. That being said, you can mine Skyrim and other games for character concepts or adventure seeds.

In my particular case, I just started playing Sid Meier’s Pirates! over the weekend. This dovetails nicely with our newly launched pirates campaign, and has provided a wealth of ideas and adventure seeds. The main plot of Sid Meier’s Pirates! is that your family has been unjustly held against their will. As the young scion of your family, you manage to elude capture and must seek out your family and become the most renowned pirate in the Caribbean!  The game itself is set during the golden age of pirates in the 17th century. This is generally much later than most fantasy RPGs are played in terms of available technology, but with a few house rules, just about anything can be used.

There was some debate as to whether our ship in our pirates campaign had cannons and whether gunpowder weapons would be used at all. As it turns out, in the first session our ship went through a portal that tore it in half, ship-wrecking the party and what remains of the crew on an island. Kind of a moot point for now. That being said, who knows where that portal took us, and what technology is available where ever our party ended up? If we do end up using cannons and gunpowder, Pirates! has some interesting special weapons that could be used in ship to ship combat.

First up, Chain-shot. Chain-shot is a naval weapon used to damage particularly masts and sails to slow an enemy ship down. Two smaller than average cannon balls linked with a section of chain are loaded in to a single cannon. When fired the chain spreads out and can do massive damage to rigging, sails, and masts. In the video game, its used to disable ships so that they can be easily boarded. Usually once all the masts have been taken down, the ship surrenders, leaving the precious cargo intact.

courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Secondly, Grapeshot. Grapeshot is an anti-personnel load that essentially turns a cannon into a giant shotgun. This weapon is formed with a small canvas bag filled with smaller, maybe musket-sized balls. Grapeshot doesn’t to much to sink a ship, but puts a hurt on the crew, most of whom would be above decks during a battle.

Look for these special weapons to be stat-ed out for 4e once we get our naval battle system up and running.

Categories: 4e, DnD, Pirates, RPGs, Tips Tags: , , , , ,

Character concepts – Archetypical or Unique

November 16, 2011 1 comment

courtesy of RPGBlog.net

The pirates campaign launches this evening! Anchors away! Avast ye mateys, and all that. Most of the party is coming to the table with character concepts in mind (if not character sheets!) which got me thinking; In this new campaign we are starting as members of a pirate crew, each there for our own reasons. I chose pretty much the D&D archetype of archetypes, the elven ranger. Who am I, Legolas? I know, but here is the thing – I *like* elven rangers. I was a boy scout growing up, I always liked woodcraft and archery, and can identify with knowing where I am in the woods and wanting to enjoy and defend nature. Statistically in D&D 4e, it makes *sense* to play as an elf because of their love of the natural world, and the handy bonuses to Dexterity, Wisdom, (optionally Intelligence) and skill bonuses to Nature and Perception. It just feels right. Experienced gamers may roll their eyes and say, “Oh, and I suppose you have a gruff dwarf in the party who doesn’t like boats?”

No. That would be silly for a pirate campaign.

As far as I can tell so far, my character is the only true archetype among us. The rest of the party are unique combinations that will bring a lot of flavor to the campaign. We’ve got a drow artificer, who fancies himself a “doctor” that has engineered clockwork spiders. He seems very keen on the study of anatomy, if only to enhance his own creations. Next, a Gnoll Monk who serves as the ship’s cook. Apparently his cooking is terrible, but who’s going to critique a 7′ Gnoll surrounded by deadly cooking implements? We will probably have a Dragonborn Warlord who maintains the heavy weapons on the ship; ballistae and such. Finally we have a water Genasi Ensnaring Swordmage with longsword fashioned from coral. We may end up with a wizard before the night’s end, but so far, the elf is looking like the normal kid in the bunch.

courtesy of fistfull of coppers

While my character may start like a fairly typical archetype that many who are familiar with D&D would readily recognize, who knows what will happen to him throughout the campaign? He could acquire a beast companion who becomes a life-long friend, or a nasty scar from a future nemesis. Its important to remember that characters evolve as we play them, and my elven ranger would be a lot different from anyone else’s if for nothing but the different experiences and companions that this elf is going to have. To me, character creation should be about what you want to play. If you want something that sets your guy apart from the crowd from day one, D&D certainly provides the opportunity to create someone truly original. Want something more familiar you can slip in to, like an old sweatshirt, worn, but comfortable? All your favorite archetypes are possible too. Which do you like when it comes to creating a new character for a campaign? Tried and true, or something off the wall?

Categories: 4e, DnD, RPGs, Tips Tags: , , , , ,