Monday, February 28, 2011

So Many (More) Classes...

Hello everyone!  I have officially decided that my Jumper Class is very overpowered (but extremely fun to play as).  I say this for two reasons: 1) at level 10 the teleporting abilities of the Jumper allows a player to teleport indefinitely upward without ever hitting the ground 2) I am a pain in the butt to kill. 
We are currently facing a trial where we have to fight a clone of ourselves that has all the same equipment and abilities that we do.  One would think “Ah! Brilliant challenge!” but in my case because I on average deal in the realm of 18 damage (a.k.a half my total health), have a +11 on attack rolls, and my abilities allow me to ignore an enemies Dex bonus to AC,  it basically boils down to who is favored by the gods of dice rolling.  Long story short, I’m having trouble killing myself.
Anyway, back to the classes!  Here are the final five base class descriptions:

7) Paladin: The righteous warrior. This class has high HP, can wield most weapons and armor, and has a small set of support spells to heal minor damage or increase stats.  While all of these are good things, there is one “problem” (depending on your preferences) with the Paladin in that it MUST be Lawful Good aligned.  This means you must do the right thing ALL THE TIME.  Paladins are tanky front liners that boost their melee capability with spells.
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
8) Ranger: Think Aragon from The Lord of the Rings.  Rangers can either fight at a distance with bows or up close using Two Weapon Fighting. They also have the help of an animal companion, like the druid. Rangers are primarily offensive damage dealers, usually specializing in the multitude of ranged feats they can take advantage of more than any other class.
          9) Rogue: (My favorite class).  This class is the skill master.  No other class is as proficient in skills or has as many skill points as any other class.  They are also the only class that can disable and notice magical traps.  In addition, Rogues can deal high damage with Sneak Attacks.  Rogues, while not the best combat class, are a vital part of any group because of their sneaky battle tactics and high skill proficiency.

A Sorcerer Courtesy of Wes-Talbott
          10/11) Sorcerer and Wizard:  These two are together because they have more or less the same abilities, but are played very differently.  Both of them are the quintessential spell casters of D&D, but the way they cast their spells are very different.  Sorcerers cast spells as an inherent ability that they gain from their bloodline, though they don't know very many spells.  Wizards, on the other hand, gain their spells through study and hard work and then record them in their spell book.  Basically, Sorcerers know a few spells that they can cast at will, while Wizards can cast a much wider range of spells but fewer of them.  These two classes are generally the party’s primary spell casters and while weak in lower levels, they are devastating at higher levels. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

Hope you enjoyed this layman’s rendition of the classes.  Until next time!



Player Tip of the Week

Keep note of minute details. While it can be a little difficult to keep track of exactly what is in your surroundings, sometimes the smallest of details can be the answer to a potentially lethal situation.
            For instance, in the same situation as mentioned in last week’s example, the man who we were supposed to kill jumped down into his cellar and grabbed a pencil that was on a desk and wrote on some magic leaves that allowed him to disappear from our sight in the cellar.  [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
As stated last week, I had already searched this cellar and noticed the pencil.  If only I would have taken the pencil (or at least moved it) then we wouldn’t have ended up in a dim cellar, which we filled with fog thinking that we would be able to see his silhouette move in the mist.  It didn’t work…

DM Tip of the Week

Improvisation is a good thing. In a D&D campaign, almost nothing will go as expected, but just because there was a hiccup in your master plan doesn’t mean the end of the world.  In fact this is often a good opportunity to expound on the plot of the story and make the campaign better. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
For instance, in our current campaign, we had made it to this town which had been charred to a crisp before we arrived, and I wanted to search it for loot.  Even though our DM had not planned on there being anything I rolled a 25 on my search check (so there just had to be something to find, right?).  So I found a cellar that had 5 bottles of vintage wine that were worth a small fortune. 
Lo and behold, though, these bottles of wine were actually Shadowbreaker Wine that when drunk cause the drinker to become possessed with an evil spirit sealed in the wine.  It just so happens that this is a major plot device for later in the campaign. 
None of this was planned.  All of these thoughts and ideas were entirely made up on the spot and left me wanting to drink the wine while my party is threatening to kill me if I so much as touch the cork.  It was great.

Monday, February 21, 2011

So Many Classes...

            Hello everyone!  Well, our campaign has officially started and it is looking quite interesting thus far.  The basic plot goes something to the extent of: the world is split into three zones that are blocked off from each other by giant magic walls, which, if crossed, takes you into the netherworld forever.  However, there is a series of items on the other side of these walls that, if acquired by the wrong people, could bring about the end of the world.  The zone where we are starting is one where magic is not looked upon kindly, while the other two are very magically affluent.  Our party consists of a Jumper (me), Cleric, Ranger, and Sorcerer.  To give you a hint as to how imbalanced we are as a group, we were nearly killed by four Dire Weasels… It wasn’t pretty.
            Speaking of classes, I figured that this would be a good time to give a bit of a “layman’s” description of the basic classes.  Each class is good at specific things and there are particular ways to play each one that can optimize their usefulness.  I’ll give the first six classes now and the last five in my next post to conserve space for my DM and Player Tips.  None of the art is mine and is property of the DeviantArt Artists mentioned in their respective captions.
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
1) Barbarian:  This class is best summed up as "angry strongman."  The Barbarian has almost no skills and is even illiterate at 1st level.  However, this class has more HP any other class, as well as a tremendous bonus to striking with melee weapons. This is boosted by the Barbarian's Rage ability that raises its Strength and HP significantly.  One would play as a Barbarian to act as either a tank to absorb damage or as a power house to dole out the damage.

2) Bard: This is an interesting class because it has the abilities to do pretty much anything.  Problem is, it is also mediocre at everything.  Bards are primarily a support class that raises the stats of his allies by singing a variety of different songs.  If you are going to be a Bard, you are going have to pick a focus of where you want to go with the character because you can never be good at everything.
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
A Cleric Courtesy of Dkuang
3) Cleric: This class is basically the buffer of the group.  Clerics are heavily armored and able to wield a variety of weapons, but lack skills and agility.  While a potent class if used correctly, Clerics are difficult to play due to the complexity of their spells.  Clerics can be used as either a support class for healing, or a control class with a heavy melee presence bolstered with spells.

4) Druid:  Think nature freak.  Druids are into everything nature and this is reflected in their special abilities and mannerisms.  Druids cannot wear or wield metal, thus eliminating most armor and many weapons, but they make up for this in their multitude of spells and shapeshifting ability. They also have an animal companion to aid them in and out of combat. If you are going to play a Druid, your biggest consideration is whether you want to focus on the physical or magical aspects.
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
5) Fighter: This is possibly the most basic class in the book in that they can do more or less anything combat.  They deal moderate damage and can use most armor/weapons.  In addition, they receive bonus feats frequently making them very diverse combatants.  There is nothing really bad about the fighter except that they are basic.  They can do anything physical combat related, but it starts and ends there.  Fighters can be used as either a tank or damage dealer.

A Monk Courtesy of RegoCreations
6) Monk: The monk is essentially a flexible hand-to-hand fighter that specializes in the idea of never being caught off guard.  While Monks are unable to fight with ordinary weapons or wear armor, they are able to fight with their fists and deal many blows in one round. They are especially adept at grappling, and can even snatch arrows out of the air. A monk's biggest weakness is that they really have no ranged attacks.  Monks are primarily a damage dealer and front-liner class. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

To be continued…



Quote of the Week

“Is my drink getting warm?  If it is, I would like to cast ray of frost on it.”
            ~The Sorcerer

Player Tip of the Week

Don’t be afraid to take risks.  D&D is meant to be enjoyed, so have some fun and jump off that 40 foot ledge in the hopes of being able to tumble out of taking damage.  D&D is a game and the point of a game is to have fun so go ahead and do something that is out of the ordinary.
            For instance, in the campaign that I am playing in, we went on a quest to kill a man whom a traveling merchant didn’t like, and bring back the man’s ear in exchange for a nice reward (an Alchemic set... Weee!).  After searching the man’s house and finding a hidden cellar (that was 40 feet deep) under a rug we decided that I should wait at the top of the ladder for the man to go to sleep so that then I could kill him in his sleep. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check] 
That didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me so I decided to wait for his return to the house and then make sounds like a child crying in his cellar.  As soon as he opened the door I shrieked at him and then teleported behind him with a dagger at his throat and threatened to kill him if he wouldn’t part with his ear. 

DM Tip of the Week

Feel free to create your own rules.  As a DM you have the power to do pretty much whatever you want.  Even though there is a structure to D&D that should be adhered to for the most part, don’t hesitate to create your own game rules for specific circumstances.
            For instance, I was DMing a campaign where different dimensions were all colliding into the player’s dimension and one of these dimensions just happened to be the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 dimension.  What I did was recreate the structure of MW2 to roughly match D&D rules (I used crossbows instead of guns among other things).  There was a map, kill streak rewards, weapon class selections, re-spawn points, and of course knifing.  [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
            While this game type was an experiment on my part (it only moderately worked), as a DM you have this power and should use it to its full extent even if in the end all you accomplish is proving that MW2 is all about knife kills.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sites Other Than Mine You Should Peruse

Hello Everyone!  Good news! My friends and I will be starting a new campaign this week so expect some interesting stories in future posts because our party is so imbalanced that, if anything, it will be… challenging.  But regardless, I wanted to take this post to introduce to you three web sites that I have found particularly useful when it comes to running a campaign.  Theoretically, you could run a completely book-free game of D&D with these sites.  However, the books are still worth it and are more helpful in the long run.
The first site is the D20srd and is possibly the most useful site you will ever find for Dungeons & Dragons version 3.5.  This is because the site is a digital compilation of all three books necessary to play D&D 3.5 (The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual).  Races, Classes, Feats, Spells, Equipment and everything else can be found on this site in text and table format that is about the same as the books.  There is even a search function for all those obscure bits of info that you are having trouble finding.  Overall this is an excellent site for all your general D&D purposes. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

The second site is Pen, Paper, & Pixel, which works in conjunction with the d20srd.  This site provides you with three specific tools that, while not necessary, will certainly save you a lot of time flipping through pages.  The first tool is a simple Dice Rolling tool that has your 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, and 100 sided dice set.  Preferably, you want your own dice, but when you are down a pair or don’t know if you want to purchase your own dice, it’s a good “starter set”.  The second tool is the Monster Filter, which helps you narrow down what monsters are appropriate for your particular environment and character levels.  The final tool is a Spell Filter, which if you aren’t sure what kind of spell you need for a particular situation is very helpful.

             The final site is D&D Wiki, which is a fun site for alternative campaign equipment, classes, monsters and other interesting things that you won’t find in any book.  For instance, in the campaign that we will be starting this weekend, I wanted to play as a different class than the basic ones so I went onto this site and found the Jumper class.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Jumper, that’s exactly what the class is only with the limitation of only being able to teleport at max 100ft each round.  Now while the Jumper’s page is a very complete and well thought out entry to the site, not all of its info is 100% sound.  Many classes, like the Lucky Bastard class, do not have complete character information or are not formulated well and should not be played with.  Regardless, this is still a fun site that is worth digging into.
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]


Player Tip of the Week

Pay Attention!  While this should go without saying, it is still a problem that comes up consistently.  If your group is strategizing how to deal with a situation and you aren’t paying attention, it is very frustrating to have to recite the plan all over again.  This applies also to the role playing elements of the game as well.
            For instance, in this party of 4 there is a Paladin, Rogue/Assassin, Druid, and Ranger who have to infiltrate a small keep.  The Paladin and Rogue were both disguised as guards who were taking the Druid and Ranger “prisoner”.  However, they had no rope to bind their hands with so when the real guards asked why they were not bound, the Rogue bluffed and said that a magic spell was holding their hands together.  Testing this the hefty guard was easily able to pull the rangers wrists apart, but thinking quickly the Paladin said that anyone could pull the arms apart except for the person bound “Try and pull your wrists apart” the Paladin said to the Ranger.
            In a panic she promptly responded by pulling her wrists apart, completely blowing their cover.  Then face-palms ensued. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

DM Tip of the Week

            Don’t go overboard with magic items.  One thing that can be a relatively big problem, at least as far as difficulty is concerned, is giving your players too many magic items.  Magic items, while perhaps taken individually are not too game changing, once a player starts gathering more and more of them, it becomes more difficult to give your players a decent challenge that won’t kill them at the same time.  The problem is that if your players have magic items, then your enemies also need magic items to compete with your party, but then once the enemy is defeated, all of a sudden your players have MORE magic items.  I had this problem in my last campaign.  Here is what each player ended up with:

Rogue: A Pokeball with Charizard in it, Chameleon Power ring, +5 Anarchic Short Sword, +3 Flaming Dagger, Headband of Intellect, Amulet of Health +2,  Medallion Thoughts, and -2 Short Sword of Shock, Flame, and Frost (don’t ask…).
Paladin: A +2 Thundering Long Sword of Mighty Cleaving, The Deck of Many Things, Amulet of Protection +2, The Holy Sword Excalibur, Horseshoes of a Zephyr, Cape of the Mountebank, and a Cross of Blessing.
Ranger: Dagger of Returning and +3 Seeking Bow of Frost (this one weapon with all her specific feats made her do 40 damage on average per turn.  I decided this was more than enough.)
[This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
            While some of these items I made up as plot devices and others I rolled up randomly, either way, they ended up way overpowered, so much so, that they beat the final boss in only 4 rounds (dealing between 75 and 100 damage each round).  To avoid situations like this, I recommend being VERY restrictive of what you randomly roll for magic items.  As the DM, just because you rolled up a +5 Anarchic Short Sword or a +3 Seeking Bow of Frost does not mean you have to give them to the players.  Just reroll or dumb them down yourself.  However, if you do decide to make your magic items weaker, DO NOT tell the players; peer pressure may get the best of you otherwise.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quick! Do A Spot Check!

Greetings to you my reader, and welcome to Do a Spot Check!  On this blog you can expect weekly updates on all kinds of Dungeons and Dragons awesomeness including: book reviews, DM and Player tips, interesting D&D related stories, character and equipment ideas, and much, much more! 
            My purpose in this is to show that D&D is not some game for the select few but can be appreciated and enjoyed by anyone.  In addition to this though, I want to provide a service to both rookies and veterans alike that does not only involve calculators and generators but actually assists you in the “how to play” aspects of the game.  I have tried on many occasions to find straight forward advice on how to play a certain character or how to best formulate a campaign, but have been unsuccessful.  Hopefully this will help fill that void and we can all have a good time doing it.  Enjoy! [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]



Book Review

For my first book review I have decided to review the D&D Accessory book Song and Silence: A Guide to Bards and Rogues mostly because Rogues are my favorite class.  This book, like many other class guides, acts as supplementary information that can or cannot be used according to the DM of a particular game and includes such information as Prestige Classes, New Skills/Feats, equipment, and other helpful tidbits of information.
Where this book succeeds is in the fact that it is immediately useful.  You can pick it up and, quite literally, find something useful on any page you flip to.  My only complaint is in the trap making section because the process is so bloody complicated, but that isn’t the books fault necessarily because trap making is freaking difficult anyway. 
While it does tend to focus more on Rogues than Bards, the information provided for each class is equally helpful if not evenly allocated.  Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

Player Tip of the Week

Know Your Character.  In a campaign there are a plethora of enemies and puzzles that will arise and there is no better way to handle each situation than to know what your character can and can’t do.  Basically, the more you know about your character, the better you will be able to react to different situations. 
For example, if you are a Druid on a side quest picking herbs and you are approached by a Giant Ant, you should know that Druids can talk to animals with a low level spell, and that you may be able to talk your way out of the conflict.  Let’s then say conflict is unavoidable, and you, being the level 5 Druid that you are, have the quite powerful spell Call Lightning, you should know that this spell (which deals 3d6 damage per turn) is a much better option than whacking it with your club (1d6). [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]

DM Tip of the Week

Don’t dictate exactly what has to happen in a campaign.  Even though you may have an idea of how you want a particular situation or puzzle to be solved, sometimes the players themselves can divine a better solution than you had initially thought. [This post is property of Do A Spot Check]
For instance, if presented with a small fortress that has a 15 foot wooden wall surrounding it and a watchtower nearby, a DM’s solution to this problem might be as simple as shooting the guard out of the tower with the party’s heavy crossbow and then climbing up the wall using a ladder.
However, you’re players may decide that it would be better to scale this thing “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” style and have the party’s rogue hang on to the top of the ladder, while everyone else carried the ladder at the bottom so that when they reached the wall he could leap off the ladder, onto the tower, and kick the guard off before he had a chance to draw his sword.  This actually happened in a campaign and it actually worked.  The rogue changed his name to Peter Parker afterward.