The Importance, As a Player, in Writing Post-Game Session Recaps

During the series of Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaigns I played with fellow authors Jinx, Ness, and our other friends, one of the most valuable tasks we were asked to do was write our own post-game session recaps. For the Upheaval campaign (which we’ve written about several times on 3-Sided Die), we were asked by Jinx, our Dungeon Master, to write these recaps in the voice of our characters. I can’t stress enough how important these were to the richness of our campaign.

Medieval Scribe

“Medieval Scribe,” accessed at “The Middle Ages Online” website, hosted by Louisiana State University

First and foremost, doing the recaps helps everyone remember what happened. While the DM builds the story, its locations, and its inhabitants, it can be a hefty challenge for them to recall all the actions and deviations that occurred in each game. Also, our group only got the chance to meet in person every six to eight weeks, so having a record of what happened in the last session gave us more time to play the active encounter instead of slogging through the “when we last left our heroes” prologue.

Second, it gave us a creative outlet to deepen and express the personalities, beliefs, and motivations of our characters. I was able to take the decisions I made in each session and flesh out how those actions either validated my character’s convictions or questioned them. Putting those feelings in writing gave Jinx new insight into how our characters were seeing and experiencing the world and allowed him to craft changes to the campaign. We could see the changes we made to the world as a result of what we chose to do in each session, rather than having to stick to the rails of a more inflexible campaign.

Third, it gave our group a unique way to work together in character. Everyone has that moment at the start of a campaign where the group simply assumes that their characters either all know each other or have zero concerns or inhibitions about working together for a goal that probably wouldn’t matter to each of them in the same way in a real situation. What ended up happening with the Upheaval campaign was almost a fan fiction: one of us would write the first recap, and then another member would talk about their character’s perspective of the same events. These stories threaded together a neat “side story” that we wouldn’t normally think of while slogging through combat. Also, our particular group didn’t have super-strong role-playing or story-telling talents, so having the time after each game to think about what transpired and plotting out the motivations behind them worked really well to keep the story alive.

Lastly, the recaps helped with world-building. Further into our campaign, our write-ups began to include memories or thoughts the characters had about their past or others they encountered during the session. Perhaps it was a place one of us had visited earlier in our adventuring lives, or, in the case of Lu, my deva swordmage, one of her past lives. As with character motivations, this gave Jinx more food for thought as he created our next objectives and challenges.

For Upheaval, Jinx awarded us bonuses and benefits for supplying the write-ups. He chose a “party points” method, where the recaps, especially ones that deftly explored a character’s thoughts and decisions, added points to a pool that we could all share. These points could be used to either re-roll a skill check or attack, convince a non-player character, or give the entire party a initiative or healing bonus. The more points we accrued with our recaps, the more heroic actions we could take in the next session.

I had a great deal of fun writing about Lu and how she saw the world, and would enjoy doing so again for any future campaigns in which I played.

About brightmatrix

brightmatrix is a long-time casual gamer. His gaming journey has included Magic: the Gathering, the first, second, and fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the first wave White Wolf games from the late 90s. If you are a denizen of the Twitterverse, you can read his posts on Magic, web development, puns, and other shenanigans at @brightmatrix.

Choices and What We Make of Them

NewHyrule

Image of Hyrule from the new footage by Nintendo, don’t remember where I got the pic sorry.

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” – Andrew Ryan

Free choice is one of the newer buzzwords from the last generation of systems but it really has been around for a very long time. True, choices are more player driven than ever before but the idea has been around from gaming’s earliest systems. The original Legend of Zelda was as close to an open world game as most early Playstation games, the concept of beings able to choose which direction to go in was never really an option in earlier games. In those games you mostly followed a linear level until completion or you player a handful of levels, on slightly varying, until the game became to difficult to beat. Zelda for me, as an early gamer was a whole different concept. I could go in whichever direction I wished, true I was gated at some points, but mostly because I would have gotten killed if I wandered too far into Hyrule’s more difficult areas. The important thing was this changed my game experience from a friends, I may have gone left to find my first shop, where he went right and found the edges of the level. We might encounter different monsters and at least begin our adventure with our own experiences. Leaving players to choose the direction of their adventure has been one of the hallmarks of the series and still to this day is one of its most enjoyed aspects, the sense of adventure.

As games move to new systems they allow for more freedom for the game creators to allow the player to craft their adventure or at least to adjust their characters to the worlds around them. A big g step for me was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which as s D&D guy, it gave me the freedom to play a variety of races and job classes, even allowing me to create one of my own. It gave me the freedom to play the game my way. Bethesda (creators of The Elder Scrolls) then followed it up much later with Skyrim (I know they did Fallout 3 in between I’ll get to that) which went much further in the ideas of player choice. Gone were the days of choosing primary skill sets and lesser ones, Skyrim says simply said, whatever you do you’ll do better. It allowed players to level skills that they used as they used them. If you wanted to be better at casting illusion spells cast illusion spells a lot, if you wore light armor a lot you’ll level up your light armor skill. This had a profound affect on my gaming as I was no longer afraid of choosing skills l would never use or creating a essential broken character. Grand Theft Auto: San Andres had an interesting system of choice as well, it affected your main character CJ. If you ate a lot of food dreamed “bad” for him (fast food) and didn’t work out he would gain weight and would lose endurance, speed, and stamina, but if he worked out at the gym he could get more muscular and his melee damage increased as well as his endurance and stamina. CJ’s clothing, hair style and tattoo choices also had an effect on his attractiveness. Aside from the main character you could choose to follow the law or do pretty much whatever you wanted in the confines of what the game allowed. Grand Theft Auto 3 opened up the concept of the “sandbox” or open world game as we think of it today, a world in which the player can choose to ignore the storyline of the game and cause mayhem or just drive around. The Saints Row series took this idea even further and allowed for the customizing of the main character, any gender, race, physical body type, you name it they allow and encourage it. Dragon Age and Mass Effect allow for character customization as well but what I find most interesting is they encourage romantic interaction between the player character and NPCs that the main character travels with, deepening the bond between player and game.

This leads to one of the more recent moves in gaming which is the moral choice. I really found this one to be a choice I never really expected to have in my games. The most powerful and earliest choice that affected me was dealing with the Little Sisters in Bioshock. We, as gamers, have really only had one choice when dealing with most NPCs, we killed some and not others. We kill the monsters and not the villagers, as an example, but we never have been given the reasoning of why or how will we feel about it. Bioshock asked are we going to choose to save a little girl to help her (with the promise of benefits later) or sacrifice the child to empower ourselves now. Of course the game itself did not make the choice easier as Dr. Tenenbaum begged us to save them, as Atlus insisted that we kill them to harvest the Adam slugs. If we decide to “buy” into these worlds do we buy into the choices we make? I can’t help but think we could. I’ve played Bioshock a half dozen times and still have never harvested a single slug. I always save the Little Sisters. Fallout 3 (told you I’d get here) gave us meter by which we could track our choices, but never try to influence us on our choices and truly you could save the whole of humanity or be a true monster based solely on you acted toward the NPCs and how you handled different encounters. Fable too gives us moral choices as how we our choices affect the town in which we live. If we side with evil Bowerstone gives way to poverty and depression, while good choices give us a flourishing city. The choices we make, make the world around us.

I quickly what to mention Minecraft as it really is the truest version of a creative experience. There is barely a “story” to be had (especially in the earliest versions). The whole experience is based on player choice. You create your own story based on what you choose to do in the game. The only real limit is your creativity and the limit of the game itself, and I’m not even sure of that to be honest.

So where do we go from here? The future looks bright. With games like Minecraft selling off the shelves and the world eagerly awaiting the next Fallout announcement I predict that player driven choices I games will not only continue but flourish with the newest generation of games like Shadow of Mordor playing heavily on how you choose your encounters and take on the Warchiefs to which powers you upgrade first are starting off strong. No Man’s Sky for the PS4 will soon give us a whole universe to explore where we get to choose where to go, who to go with, and how long we want to be there. It truly looks like an incredible experience, driven by the player. Ken Levine, creator of Bioshock, and his team have been working on a game where it is story driven by the players decision. He calls it “narrative Legos” as it has a base but the players choices build onto the world and affect many aspects of the game. I for one can’t wait to see and play it.

Thanks for reading. Please comment if you so choose. Question of the post! How does choice affect your playing style? I love it and Jinx knows this, will spend minutes choosing colors and heads for my Borderlands characters. Do you think about it or is it such a part of the game now you barely notice it? Let me know, I’m interested to hear what you think.

Thanks again, hope you enjoyed it.

Ness

About Ness

As a chaotic good nerd I try to be as well rounded as possible, from video games, comics, tabletop RPGs, anime, and cartoons I try to fit it all in. Although I enjoy all of it, video games have always dominated the majority of my time and attention. My plan for here is not to write previews or reviews but to talk about how I relate to the games I play. Hopefully we can all play along.

20 Question For Shadowrun To Develop Characters – my character’s answer

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Image taken from the Shadowrun website. Good old city sprawl.

I’m taking a bit of a break from a gaming post to talk a little bit about fleshing out characters. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a role player and LOVE getting into the minds and souls of the characters I create and play. Currently I’m enjoying a series of Shadowrun games GMed by a friend, currently I’m playing a female magic adept gunslinger named Zune Helhar. Within one of the newest books, Run Faster is a 20 question section, to assist players get to know their character. This I could not pass up. Granted it’s not a insane as Jinx’s 100+ questioner for his last D&D game (Upheaval, which he has talked about on this site in length). I loved that one and I really enjoyed this one, so naturally I thought I would share it with you.

Shadowrun 20 Questions

1. What is the character’s gender?
She is female, pretty much standard. She is an elf, born to human parents. She is strait, although generally she cut herself off from interest in any romantic relationships.
2. What is the character’s physical size?
Zune is average for an elf of her age. She is fit and works out regularly in both strength and flexibility. She was a gymnast in her youth and works to retain the skills she learned. She is more muscular then she may appear, given her style of dress, without being to muscular to inhibit her flexibility
3. What is the color of the character’s hair, eyes, and skin?
Zune was born as an adept elf and one reflection of this was in her eyes, even at birth. No one is sure if it’s the elf blood or the magi that flows within her or even both but her eyes are a brilliant shade of indigo. Her hair is naturally a golden red and usually kept long with various braids and hair accessories to highlight the unique color. That was in her childhood, now though after everything that happened to her she keeps it dyed black with 2 streaks of indigo in it. Gone also is the length as she keeps it short, not much pas the back of her neck. Her skin is very fair and pale. In her youth she would burn easily so she kept it well protected, in recent years her more nocturnal lifestyle keeps it similar in shade.
4. What is the character’s general appearance?
In Zune’s youth she dressed to accent her elvish qualities, clad in greens, light brown, and yellows. The outfits commonly were dresses, skirts, jeans, simple shirts, all reflecting elvish designs and writings. She nearly always wore sneakers. Currently, she wears nearly all black, although all her clothes are accented with fiber optic colors held only in indigo. Her clothing style is more function now, with armor jackets and armored clothes, usually leather or a similar style fitted tight to her body, with the exception of the jackets. Also she always wears boots. To peers and classmates from her past might not even recognize her now. Being that Zune is an elf she is considered by most to be beautiful. She could never admit to seeing it. She sees herself still as the broken little girl hiding in a cabinet, crying. She has a haunting beautiful gaze with her indigo eyes and an air that you can look but never touch. She tends to be quiet and reserved until the fighting starts then she’s the center of attention because of her physical beauty and cold look as she’s firing her pistols.
5. Where was the character born?
Zune was born and raised just outside of Seattle in one of the very few exclusive rich suburbs. She was a child of privilege for most of her youth, but after everything changed she moved into Seattle and currently lives in the Elvin District, a little too close, for her liking, to the Orc Underground.
6. What is your character’s age?
Zune is currently 28 years old, although being an elf she appears younger the she is. Her appearance is of a young 20 year old, this tends to lead to people making assumptions about her that she will occasionally use to her advantage.

7. What was the character’s family like?
Zune’s family was killed by an assassination group called “Kill Streak.” This was a fundamental change in her entire world. Her father was a scientist and her mother an investor, they worked together for many years, fell in love, married, and had Zune. They were incredibly accepting of her being born an elf. Her father would immerse her in elvin culture and her mother had tutors teach her to speak fluent elvin, even learning some herself. She wanted for nothing. She did well in school and in gymnastics, much to her parents’ pride. When they were killed it destroyed the Zune that she was and gave rise to the Zune we see now.
8. Has the character begun her own family?
She has no current plans to start a family. She has put all her life and any potential life on hold until she has killed every member of “Kill Streak.” There may be a chance when that happens but until then she put all thoughts into focus on getting her revenge.
9. Where or how was the character educated?
Zune was educated until high school in a privately funded, non corporate, rich private school where she excelled, especially thanks to her photographic memory. After her parents were killed she disappeared into the Seattle sprawl. She used the money she took from her parents account to survive the first few years in near seclusion. Later she was taken in and trained by a former Troll mercenary called One-Shot Wartooth. Her education from him helped turn her from the broken child to the Zune we know now. He trained her in firearms, using her adept powers, and surviving in the world she now belonged.
10. Has the character done anything else for a living?
Zune’s only life mission is to eliminate the former members of “Kill Streak” that has been her focus since 16 years old. She has no interest in anything else. Her family’s fortune has provided her the ability to do nothing else. Sadly, vengeance doesn’t pay well so after the money started running out she had to find a job that fit her new abilities.
11. What are the character’s political and religious beliefs?
She hasn’t thought about politics since school had them follow the presidential race to study it for Social Studies. Her beliefs about politics are simply that they are owned by corporations and are bought and sold just like any other commodity. Her religious beliefs are somewhat different, the closest thing to her thoughts are that she is she believes something is out there but it has little to no effect on her. She fears if she thinks about it too much it would force her to see that whatever it is let her parents get taken away from her.
12. What is the character’s moral code?
Zune really has a loose moral code. It’s pretty much defined as, she doesn’t shoot children. Aside from that if anyone draws a weapon on her she feels little to no compassion about putting a bullet into them. She generally believes they choose that course of action and they must deal with the penalties of that. People who were not involved in a shootout, she will avoid brining them into it, but if they do she does not feel it’s her job to save or protect them. This is life in the Seattle sprawl, only the strong survive.
13. Does the character have any goals?
Her only goal in the past 10 or so years is the elimination of “Kill Streak,” everything else in her life it to support that single goal. She is still as angry as she was back then, she cannot move past it. The only plans she has past that is to move from Seattle to Tir Tairngire and disappear and reinvent herself again, but that’s as far as she has planned.
14. Why does the character run the shadows?
As Zune grew older and lived on her own she used her parent’s dwindling fortune to support her life and her goals. That money is now almost gone so she has had to find a source of income. Her only skill set now parallel the skills a successful Shadowrunner needs, so the fit was natural. She runs to support her revenge focused life.
15. What is the character’s personality?
Once Zune was a happy, fun elf girl who was full of life and potential, that’s all different now. For years she was optimistic and fun and a joy to be around. Her friends loved her and she them, her whole life rose before her like a brilliant sunrise. After losing her parents Zune now angry, all the time, she is short on patience and has little interest in the lives of others. She still keeps her connection two old friends close to her and is incredible important to her. For all of her beauty her personality can be a hindrance to find love and new friendship. She seems cold and indifferent to people she newly meets. She is very slow to trust but once trusted she will go to the end for her friends and companions. Fitting into her personality she bears three distinct tattoos on her back, one on her left is an angel’s wing with the word Mother written in elvish, on her right a digital wing with the word “Father” also in elvish, finally across her shoulders, again in elvish is “Revenge Solves Everything.” (This is a nod to my love of Dishonored.)
16. What special qualities does the character posses?
Zune was born a magic adept, gifting her with a variety of special qualities, such as mystic armor, enhanced reflexes, a heightened combat sense, and others. Aside from those, she is an incredibly quick healer and has a photographic memory. She can speak fluent elvish as well as English. Zune is incredible fast when it comes to gun slinging, she may even be as fast, or faster, then a computer controlled pop-up weapon. She can also drive.
17. Are there certain things the character just cannot do?
There are things that Zune has a hard time with or cannot do, for example she has a difficult time dealing with computers, she can easily navigate her comlink, but anything that requires real computer skill she not only cannot handle, she generally won’t even try. She cannot harm children, as a woman whose life was irreparably damaged in her childhood she has a certain fixation on protecting and watching over children, especially girls, who she over identifies with. She can sometimes have trouble dealing with social situations, as someone who was raised rich but then removed from that life she is stuck in how she, in her teens, should act in fancy, or high society settings.
18. What does your character hate?
Zune hates all members of “Kill Streak” as well as the house worker who let them in. She has killed some of them, but she still feels anger toward them. She is also not stupid enough to believe that any of it was their idea, they had a corporate backer, they too are on her Kill List. She is the kind of girl who will burn down the whole corp to get to a few certain people. She has a strong distrust for more people, especially corporate. She also has a strange anger at herself for not being able to do something to save her parents, she knows she couldn’t but the feeling is still there.
19. What does the character love?
There are a few things Zune loves. She still loves her parents, even though they have been separated from her for a long time. She loves One-Shot Wartooth and his wife who took her in when she needed someone most. She also loves her two best friends (Lin Woo and Angel) who have stood by her side since her childhood. She also has a love for whatever gun is strapped to her side.
20. What is the character’s name?
Her full name is Zune Artasia Helhar. She still goes by her given name. The name she is starting to develop on the street is Zune the Reaper. Still some refer to The Reaper, but are unaware it’s her. (She leaves writings written in blood at the site of a “Kill Streak” elimination, mostly about reaping what they have sown.) She has a SIN, because her parents were members of high society and therefore registered to the national SIN. Interestingly after her parents were killed Zune disappeared, people and the press assumed the killers kidnapped her and were waiting for a ransom, but it never came so they assumed the killers couldn’t deal with her or take the heat of the investigation so they killed Zune. As of now when she get fingerprinted or anything similar her SIN comes up as her being dead. Usually she tells people it’s a clerical error and she’s working on it. The Helhar name hold nothing financially but it does still carry some weight, especially within the science circles.

I hope you enjoyed a little venture into the mind and history of my Shadowrun character. She’s quickly becoming a favorite to play. Let me know what you thought.

So here it is my question of the post, I always like to include one, so how much time do you spend not jut building a character but fleshing them out and filling in all the blanks about them. Do you power game and are done or do you create whole histories for them?

Hope you enjoyed,

Ness

About Ness

As a chaotic good nerd I try to be as well rounded as possible, from video games, comics, tabletop RPGs, anime, and cartoons I try to fit it all in. Although I enjoy all of it, video games have always dominated the majority of my time and attention. My plan for here is not to write previews or reviews but to talk about how I relate to the games I play. Hopefully we can all play along.

Zail Hakken, my Drow Rogue/Sorceress

Zail

(Image from the Dungeons & Dragons webpage)

I’m taking a quick break from video games this week to talk a little about D&D. You’ve seen the epic multiple posts from Jinx about his D&D campaign Upheaval as well as BrightMatrix character (Lu the Deva Cleric/Swordmage) that he ran in said campaign, so today I thought I would share my character with you, and her name is Zail.

Now the original concept came after BrightMatrix and I ran our outrageously successful pair of his Kobold/Barbarian Rex Regulus Rex and my Goblin/Cleric Throck Bonesmasher. The characters were fun and we realized we play off each other very well and it would fun to create characters that were created to work together or at least complement each other in the game. Our original thoughts were to have two D&D version of “80s valley girls,” which sadly didn’t work out since Jinx changed the world from standard fantasy to Upheaval we had to revamp them into something more serious. (Luckily for our gaming group, we would have annoyed the hell out of everyone.) Anyway, Lu went on to become the beacon of hope for the world while my character Zail went to become the realist of the pair. BrightMatrix and I talk long about the characters, how they got along, which powers we would choose, how the met, why they were friends, and so on. One of the great joy of creating her was to be able to work on the background and story with a friend and bond the characters together similar to our friendship.

I tend to be a role-player more than any other type of player when it come to table top gaming so where Jinx focuses on powers and so forth I focus on the character’s background and choose powers, traits, and items that fit into the character’s story. Zail is no different, that’s not to say she can’t hold her own, by all means my little Drow is quite the bad ass in combat but that’s not the focus for me, it’s creating a character that is believable and has a sense of place in the world. So with that in mine here is Zail background. I really enjoy creating background for all my characters, it’s a bit long as I give them a full life story, but also realized this one of my shorter ones. I hope you enjoy it.
Zail Hakken was born Xune Helhar, to a Matron Mother in a large Underkark Drow city. While still an infant her house was attacked by both the house directly above and directly below, in the social ranking of Drow society. She was kidnapped by the house above. Xune’s house survived and she was taken out of the city by the remaining members of the higher house and sold as quickly as possible t a trade caravan. That is all she would know of her life with her birth family. She spent most of her formative years with various trade caravans. She would stay with one for a while then be sold off for goods or gold, always with the promise as a future servant. She learned many thing s at this young age, reading, writing, and not to hold onto lasting friendships as they would always either leave her or she would be forced to leave them. Eventually, she was sold to a surface trader who took her away from the comforting darkness and to the surface of the world and to the sun. Initially she hated the sun and the daytime; it burned her eyes and reminded her of how exposed she was without a stone ceiling. Although, for how much she loathed the sun and the day, she loved night, the bright glowing moon, and the millions of stars. Finally though she would find one place she would call home or at least a place to live.
Sadly, she ended up being sold to a thief’s guild called The Carnival of Thieves, where she served in near slavery. For the nine years she was bound to her servitude, never leaving the guild hall, never seeing the moon and the disliked sun. Only now through windows did she see the free people walking by, even her bedroom was no more than a closet with a mattress. For the most part she was rarely acknowledge by the guild members, who saw her more as a thing then a person and the other servants were afraid of her, even as a child they feared the Drow. The guild knew not her name so they simply called her Drow, she also had no memory of her life in the Underdark so she assumed it was just her name. All life seemed to her was work and she worked and watched, always watched. For years she observed the thieves at work and at play and she began to learn, to move in silence, to the basics of sword play, and a base understanding of lock picking. She was never formally taught but just through years of observation she began to understand. When the guild fared well she had little concern for her most basic needs, but in the times when the guild found little work those needs became harder to come by as it was after eight years that the guild fell on rough times and she was simply not provided enough to eat, she more than others as she was at the bottom of pecking order, even below the other servants. She started putting the skill she spend years observing to the test, she began stealing food. All were aware that food was going missing but no one knew who the culprit was, even those on watch saw nothing in the night, complete darkness. It was at this time the guild most experienced and auspicious member returned from a long mission, Ryder Hakken was back. He would come and go over the years, never staying long and only having a passing view of the Drow servant. Ryder was requested to stand watch to find the thief. After a few nights he realized the darkness that crept into the store room was not natural, and it was Drow using one of her gifts, her Cloud of Darkness to avoid detection. He confronted her about the stealing; she did not deny it and stood tall prepared for her punishment. He was impressed with her fearlessness, her strong will, and her ability to steal from a thieves guild under their own roof for years and never get caught. After sending her to bed he began thinking, by morning he made his decision he would take her. The very next day he bought her from the guild and would make her his protégé. That day she walked out of the guild hall for the first time in nine years and would never look back, she was walking toward her new life.
The first order of business was her name, Ryder hated that she called herself Drow and had to explain why she needed a new name for her new life. He told her that Drow was not her name but what she was, as he was a human and an elf was an elf, she was a Drow. He asked her to choose her own name, she thought for a while finally she chose a name she crafted herself, her very own name that was hers and hers alone, Zail. From that day forth Ryder and everyone else called her Zail. She and Ryder moved out of the old city to a larger city called Safe Haven, Ryder owned a small house within the city walls. It was a fairly large trade city mostly surrounded by the Crescent Wood, a forest that had grown in the shape of a crescent moon. There she spent the first year with Ryder training in thievery, moving ins silence, from shadow to shadow, she learned lock picking, wall scaling, pick pocketing, and breaking and unlocking traps. Over and over, day after day she learned and studied. Ryder was always impressed with her progress; she seemed born for the work. After spending so much time together Zail felt comfortable sharing a secret she hid from everyone for years, she could use magic. She didn’t know why or how but when stressed and pushed she could call magic to her as if it was bubbling insider her. She told no one for fear of how the guild would react and treat her. Soon after Ryder sent a letter to a friend who he had helped a long time ago who had sworn to help him one day. He received a letter a few weeks later that appeared out of thin air, he was coming. Until that day would come Zail would work on her thieving lessons.
Finally, on a bright night under a full moon a man appeared at the door, except it was not a human, it was in fact a Drow, and not just any Drow a Wizard named Karcillus. Zail was naturally excited to meet one of her own kind, she had no memory of any other and while Karcillus was kind to her he warned that much of their race were evil to the core, they would kill her and Ryder if ever they found that he was raising her. He told her one thing about the Drow, if you ever see one…run. For the next year Karcillus trained her in the ways of the arcane. Ryder would come and go as work came or as he needed, knowing that Karcillus would take good care of her. Soon into her teaching Karcillus realized he could not teacher her with books of spells and wands or orbs, she needed them not. She was not in fact a wizard, nor was she an invoker, her magic seemed to flow within her very blood, she was a sorceress. He put away his books and implements she could not wield and began from a whole different perspective. He taught her to call up her power from within. After months of teaching she could call her power at will and the dagger that Ryder had given as self protection served her as he taught her how to wield them as implements to focus her power. Although she could not control the type of magic she called (as she was still a child in the world of the Drow) she could now call it at will. With the teaching of the arcane he also explained to her what it meant to be a Drow, the gifts of her race that others did not posses. He taught her the she was never really sleeping but was in fact in a state of trance, she learned how to increase her Cloud of Darkness, and how to levitate, this came to Karcillus as worrisome, for only a Drow noble could levitate. He put that out of his mind for the time being as he focused on teaching her. One evening the three ate, as Ryder had returned that day, Karcillus mentioned to Zail that if she desired he could teach her to call a familiar. Her eyes went wide, she leapt out of her chair and began screaming and running around, Karcillus was in shock, Ryder just laughed and explained that meant, yes. The next day under his guidance Zail began the spell, at first…nothing. Zail began to lose faith that she had failed, then suddenly a small wisp of smoke tumble into existence at the center of the table and began to grow. The wisp soon grew into a small cloud that began to take shape, first legs, a tail, then a head, even ears, still it appeared as a cloud until two eyes opened from the still forming head, they eyes opened and stared at Zail they were a deep lavender, just like hers. The smoke settled into the form of a black cat that matched Zail for it was small and lean with its lavender eyes. It purred and lazily walked over and brushed up against Zail, leaving a small wisp of smoke on her. Zail was in love, never before had she had a pet, much less one that was such a reflection of her, Karcillus told her she must name it. Karcillus and Ryder game some suggestions that both Zail and her new familiar disagreed with, finally it came to Zail, the perfect name, one that she herself had carried. She named her cat familiar Drow, the cat agreed. Zail and Drow had a strong connection from the start; she seemed to understand the cat, which informed her it was in fact a female spirit, as the cat seemed to understand Zail. Sadly, a week or so later Karcillus had to leave to return to the mage guild he had taken leave of. Ryder thanked him and Zail hugged him, he never believed he would ever be hugged by a member of his own race, he was pleased at the way Ryder was raising her. He told him as much when he said Ryder should be proud he had a fine daughter. Zail looked at Ryder; he agreed he had a wonderful daughter. From that day on Ryder always called Zail his daughter and to her he was always her father. Before disappearing Karcillus had given them an unexpected gift, that of family.
The next two years of Zail’s life were dedicated to one single focus, battle. She had a formative understanding on fighting but Ryder expanded that exponentially. She learned the exquisite art of melee fighting utilizing her short sword. She bonded with it so much that she could utilize it to call her arcane powers. She began tying in all he had taught her about stealth, precision movement and surprise striking into an affective and deadly fighting style. Ryder also taught her in the use of daggers as both melee and throwing weapons, her accuracy was deadly. She began integrating her natural Drow born abilities as well, become a force to be reckoned with inside her Cloud of Darkness. As the first year passed the training continued but Ryder started taking her with him on missions where she gained real life experiences and was able to put all she had been trained for to the test, meaning stealing (or liberating as she calls it) items from their owners. She soon began earning a reputation for herself as Ryder’s daughter. That year was the happiest she had known in her life, she had a family in Ryder and close friend in Drow, a home, and a job that she both loved and was exceptional at. She hoped it would last forever, she would soon learn just how wrong that hope was.
No one knew it but the time of The Cleansing was upon the world. Most would believe the gods had abandoned them as volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes reeked havoc all throughout the lands. Safe Haven was not spared. The city was hit hard, a great earthquake, seemed centered on the city began ripping it apart. Ryder was away on a high paying mission and Zail was walking home from the market, wearing her favorite pink gown the sparkled in the sun, when the earth shook and the street she just left splintered. She raced for home, into the house she went and grabber her Handy Haversack, which contained all her gear. A trick Ryder had taught her was to keep all her “work gear” in one bag that way it’s easy to make a quick getaway. She moved her bed and moved the two loose boards that opened up to Ryder’s secret basement he used to smuggle items he took. It was also prepared in case he himself had to hide as it well stocked with food and water. She quickly changed in the basement, putting her last gown away, deep into her pack wondering if she would ever wear it again. For over a week she remained in the hidden basement, rationing the food as best she could. When all the violence seem to subside she tried to leave through the trap door, but it would not budge so she back in the basement she move the hidden door reveling the secret passageway to the Crescent Wood. Ryder had installed this as a quick escape route in case he needed to leave the city in a hurry. Now it was her means to escape whatever was happening above. She sent Drow down the passage ahead of her knowing that nothing could really “kill” her, if she was destroyed Zail would wait a day or so and call her back from the Astral Plain. She was in luck the tunnel was intact, small parts had collapsed but not enough to block her from escaping. She crawled down the long passageway always awaiting an aftershock but finally made it to the end of the tunnel and up the rope ladder leading to the wood. As she exited through the hollowed tree stump what she found drew not just the words from her but her very breath. She fell to her knees and wept for the destruction of the world she knew. The Crescent Wood were gone, burned to the ground and what little was left was still ablaze. From the near center of the forest she could see what was left of Safe Haven. Most of the town was simply gone, swallowed in a great fissure in the earth, what was still there, a small piece of the outer wall and only a couple of building, were also ablaze the rest was flattened. She knew all she had known and all she owned were gone. She stood for most of the day trying to come to grips with what happened, she went to the town to look for survivors but found no one, at least alive. She left the only place she really called home for the first time and the last. The next couple of months were a blur, after her supplies ran out she began foraging for food, hunting when she could, stealing when she couldn’t. She slept when she had to in caves, broken building, in trees, anywhere she could feel safe. The world had been turned upside down she now felt safest during the day as the night now contained monsters she had never seen before, as the Shadowfell leaked into the mortal world. She believed Ryder and Karcillus were still alive if anyone was it was them, all she had to do was find them, her dad was first on her list, but until then she had to focus on surviving each day. Zail felt it was simply herself and Drow, alone, against the world. That too would prove to be very wrong.

Well there it is, Zail’s background, if you are interested comment below and I can give a more game based explanation of her powers, feats, perks, and all the “business” end of D&D. Thanks for reading, I might indulge in a little more D&D posts in the future.

As I always like to leave with a question for everyone, here is this post’s. What kind of play are you? I always see myself as a role-player, I like to do voices and act out what my character is doing. Are you a power gamer (like Jinx) or an explorer? Are you here for the storyline or the snacks and Mountain Dew?

About Ness

As a chaotic good nerd I try to be as well rounded as possible, from video games, comics, tabletop RPGs, anime, and cartoons I try to fit it all in. Although I enjoy all of it, video games have always dominated the majority of my time and attention. My plan for here is not to write previews or reviews but to talk about how I relate to the games I play. Hopefully we can all play along.

Building a Better Battle-Rager

Hey all,

So, I’m going to share my build of a D&D 4th Edition Bugbear Battle-Rager.  I’ve had loads of fun with this character and thrived in the subterranean campaign he was run in.

Image found at https://fractured-realms.obsidianportal.com/adventure-log/adventure-log-3

This has to be my favorite picture of a bugbear.  Completely badass.  The image is not my own and was found here.

So, what are the benefits/goals of this build ?

  1.  It provides versatility, independence (on the battlefield) and POWER.  (You’ll feel like a Striker)
  2. Easily soaks up damage and shakes off status effects.
  3. Shifts about the battlefield relatively easily, which means not being subjected to unnecessary opportunity attacks.

So far, I have found this to be a highly effective build and not only does it annoy the hell out of my two friends that co-DM this PC, but even the other players shake their heads at me.

Background: Auspicious Birth – This replaces CON with your highest attribute for determining your starting HP.

Themes:

  1.  I went with Sensate, for versatility over battle prowess in this case. The benefits don’t really pay off until after level 10, but the Sensate’s level 10 feature gives you a +3 bonus to all skills when you have temporary HP.  Battle-Ragers are swimming in Temp HP, especially with the added bonus of the Sensate starting feature, which gives you ½ your level in Temp HP after using an encounter attack or daily attack power! It’s a cheap way to get a +3 bonus to all your skills, which fighters usually lack.  Versatility!

Ability scores:

  1. Strength
  2. Dexterity
  3. Wisdom. Wisdom is important for Combat Superiority, giving you a +Wis Mod bonus to all opportunity attack rolls and ends the foes movement. Also good for the feat: Marked Scourge and to up your Will defense.

Race: Bugbear

  1.  It allows you to use over-sized weapons.  There is some controversy about this, as being broken, but if the character builder and DM allow it, then so be it.  I utilize an over-sized executioner’s axe, as it means doing 2d6 for its regular weapon damage.  Since an executioner’s axe is BRUTAL 2, any roll of 1 or 2 on a die, means a re-roll. That means you are re-rolling your damage 33% of the time, giving you a 6-12 damage range for each (W) of damage you’re dealing. Plus axes give Battle-Ragers a +2 to damage, since you’ll be wearing light armor.
  2. Once per encounter when you have combat advantage, you deal 1d6 damage by utilizing the bugbear encounter power predatory eye. (Not much, but extra damage is always welcomed.)
  3. The racial bonuses for a bugbear are +2 Str & +2 Dex.  Perfect for a Battle-Rager who depends on wearing light armor instead of heavy (for full Battle-Rager, temp HP gain)

Powers/Magic Item Picks: NOTE: As with any character, I try to take powers/items that are encounter powers (whenever possible), as that ensures I have them available for EVERY encounter.

Combat Advantage: Cloaked Executioner’s Great Axe (You’ll need the Superior Weapon Proficiency for the Executioner’s Axe feat), will provide combat advantage and is helpful in using the racial bugbear power: Predatory Eye. It’s an additional 1d6 damage every encounter. Not much, but why not?  Plus, an invisible weapon is just helpful in so many situations.

  1.  Extra Damage: Besides the additional damage from Predatory Eye, I suggest taking the multi-class Ranger feat “Warrior of the Wild”, as at paragon, that could be an additional 4d6 damage per encounter. Marked Scourge adds your Wisdom modifier damage each turn vs. marked enemies on a hit, Weapon Focus – Axes adds +2 damage for each attack, paragon tier, Iron Armbands of Power provide a +2 damage with all melee attacks.  I also recommend the Battle Fury Stance.
  2. Shiftiness: Boots of the Fencing Master utilized with Powers such as: Footwork Lure, Inexorable Advance, Shrewd Repositioning, along with the feat Swift Footwork, which allow a total of 5 shifting powers / items, means for 6 rounds of combat, you have an additional +1 bonus to Reflex and AC, as well as being able to shift almost at will to reposition yourself or possibly get combat advantage.  I don’t think any of our encounters have ever lasted more than 6 rounds and if so, very few.
  3. HP Gain: Battle-Rager Vigor (which provides temp HP in numerous situations) along with Invigorating Powers such as: Crushing Surge, Appalling Crunch, Knee Breaker and Inexorable Advance along with the Daily power, Victorious Surge, utility powers such as Shooter’s Nemesis, and magic items such as: Ironskin belt and amulet of life+2.  Then you have the paragon path Dreadnought +10 bonus HP and when taking an action point, Resist 10 damage until end of next turn.  This provides you with a LARGE # of HP and a high resistance to damage.

Dreadnought Paragon Class: Gives you a 10HP Bonus and as a minor action, you can take 10HP of damage (can’t be resisted) and automatically save against any status effect that a save can end. This is insanely powerful!  Also, when you spend an action point, gain resist 10 until start of next turn.

Here are the feats I chose at the appropriate level:

Level 1:  Superior Weapon Proficiency (Executioners Axe)
Level 2:  Warrior of the Wild: Multi-class Ranger (Gain Hunters Quarry feature)
Level 4:  Weapon Focus (Axe)
Level 6:  Swift Footwork
Level 8:  Improved Vigor or Axe Expertise (your preference)
Level 10: Toughness
Level 11: Paragon Class: Dreadnought  Feat: Marked Scourge
Level 12:  Feat: Mighty Battlerage

Level 14: Feat: Paragon Defenses

I recommend the following powers:

At Will: Crushing Surge and Footwork Lure

Encounter Powers: Sweeping Blow, Reckless Strike, Inexorable Advance, Appalling Crunch

Daily Powers: Knee Breaker, Dizzying Blow, Victorious Surge.

Utility Powers: Battle Fury Stance, Shrewd Repositioning, Shooter’s Nemesis.

Here is the magic item list I recommend, up to a level 14 character:

Cloaked Executioner’s Axe, Strikebacks, Iron Armbands of Power, Power Jewel, Ironskin Belt, Amulet of Life (better than Cloak of the Walking Wounded, as you might not get bloodied), Boots of the Fencing Master and Salve of Power. I personally have Magic Snakeskin armor for my Battle-Rager, but I would choose anything that heals, resists, regenerates or adds to defense.  I’m sure there are a bunch of others magic items out there that would be useful, but it depends on how you want to customize your PC.

If alternative awards are allowed, Mercurial mind and Ioun’s Revelation are two that I like, for speed and added versatility.

Look forward to hearing what you think and you can find a .pdf copy of my character here: Bugbear Battle-Rager lvl 14.

Jinx

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called “The Fall of Astia”. Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you’d like to see featured on our site.

Character Spotlight: Lu, Favored of Erathis

For my second contribution to our “Character Spotlight” mini-series, I’d like to introduce you to Lu, a character from the 4th edition ruleset of Dungeons & Dragons.

385_wr_deva

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast.

Functionally, Lu is my interpretation of the classic Final Fantasy “red mage”: a spell-wielding adventurer who can cast both “white,” or curative, and “black,” or offensive, magics, as well as being a competent swordsman. In 4th edition D&D, a swordmage is someone who casts their spells using a light sword (falchion, epee, rapier, etc.) as their implement, or item through which they channel their arcane energies. Swordmages specialize in spells that move allies and enemies around the battlefield, such as switching places with a friend under attack or moving a foe into harm’s way, and can strike foes from afar. This serves as the “black mage” half. The clerical half of Lu serves as the “white mage” part of her persona.

Thematically, Lu is a variation on the traditional “lawful good protector” archetype you usually find in paladins: a rule-abiding servant of the weak who lives to smite the wicked and bring order to the world. She is honest, loyal, and devoted to her faith and her friends. She believes intensely in a higher purpose for her life and is firmly rooted to her service to Erathis, a D&D deity of order, structure, and civilization. Lu is a deva, a race of human-like people descended from angelic origins who are reincarnated in new bodies when they die. They are tall, slender, and ethereal. I wanted to instill in Lu a sense of heavenly kindness tied with earthly concerns about those around her and the divine purpose she believes she is destined to fulfill. Whenever I imagined Lu talking in game, I thought of voice actress Hynden Walch’s performance as Starfire from Teen Titans. I felt Starfire’s lack of contractions and the measured cadence to her speech suited Lu’s patient and caring, yet formal, nature.

What helped me really craft Lu’s persona and backstory was my participation in building her world. My friend and co-author, Jinx, was the dungeon master for our campaign. The theme was a dystopia, a land ruined by vengeful gods who rained destruction down upon the mortal world (similar in a way to the World of Ruin part of Final Fantasy VI or the post-Istar timeline in D&D’s Dragonlance franchise). Our adventure would take place a few years after the cataclysm and show how our characters were coping with the changes and working to either restore the world or simply survive. I used the deva’s reincarnation aspect to have Lu appear as a new incarnation just after the gods’ rampage, starting her fresh in this new land. I wanted her to project a sense of hope and purpose despite the crushing despair and destruction all around her.

I wrote a lot of material around Lu, her background, her birth into the ruined world, and the order of red mages in whose footsteps she followed. As such, I’ll split this article into a few posts that give each piece its due. Let me start with the character background I authored that explains in more detail Lu’s mannerisms, appearance, and beliefs. Next week, I’ll share the origin of the red mages and Lu’s first adventure as a new deva.


Lu, Deva Swordmage/Cleric (“Red Mage”)

Lu is a lawful good deva female, with the apparent age of 19. As a deva, she is immortal and timeless, but her current incarnation arose immediately following the Cleansing two years’ prior, appearing in a bright flash atop the upturned mountain now called Vertigo. Lu is a devout champion of Erathis, believing fervently that truth and order are the ultimate expressions of the divine.

Standing at just over six feet high, Lu is slender and sleek. Her platinum skin is painted with thin vertical stripes the color of a storm-filled sky; her long fingers share the same deep shade. Lu’s pale violet eyes, banded by a single, broad stripe of bluish gray, gaze upon the world with the unceasing watchfulness of a sentinel. Shining silver hair falls in straight curtains past her shoulders. Her gait is steady and purposeful; she has no wasted gestures or movements.

Lu’s demeanor is cheerful and patient, even in the most perilous and grim situations. Her voice rings like a silver bell: pure, clear, and measured, without contractions or slander. Lu is always generous with a smile, but, curiously, she never laughs. She is endlessly loyal and faithful to her friends and compatriots, and will do her utmost to bolster their spirits and soothe their wounds in the tides of battle. Lu’s faith, however, rests firmly on the scales of justice, and, as such, she is tireless and fierce when facing down the foes of order and civility.

While the other races may believe that the gods have forsaken them and abandoned this realm, Lu is adamant that they are still here, and watching. To her, the Cleansing was a brutal, but necessary, cataclysm. Lu believes the gods, foremost among them, Erathis, the savior of civilization, would never have consented to the world’s destruction unless the existing societies been beyond any means of mortal or divine redemption. Her sacred oath to Erathis is not to restore order, but rather to build the roads, ramparts, and cathedrals of a new order, a new beginning, to a world that has been judged and deemed unworthy.

Lu has donned the mantle of the fabled Order of Red Mages in her journey to bless the resurrected realm with the light and purpose of Erathis. True to the order, she wears the red greatcoat and feathered cap, filigreed with the curious ornate traceries favored by deva. She holds no loyalty to, or nostalgia for, the shattered realm of Teslamenta, however, knowing the fall of The Shining City was brought upon itself by pride and placement of mortal power before divine fealty.

“As the world was shattered and burned, I arose, new and fresh, into this realm. Those whose paths I meet do not understand why the earth was broken so. Though I am new in this incarnation, I remember so very much, and know, with all of my souls, that this has not been the first time these lands have been seared and purified. Now that the world has been stripped of its rot and decay once again, the time is right for the saviors of order to lay the proper foundations and sturdy walls of a just society. By the light and the will of the Great Goddess Erathis, this time, we shall build it right. Glory to the Goddess, my dear friends, and onward to our bright future!”

About brightmatrix

brightmatrix is a long-time casual gamer. His gaming journey has included Magic: the Gathering, the first, second, and fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the first wave White Wolf games from the late 90s. If you are a denizen of the Twitterverse, you can read his posts on Magic, web development, puns, and other shenanigans at @brightmatrix.

Character Spotlight: Rex Regulus Rex, Kobold Barbarian

Today, I’m carrying forward the semi-regular column we’ll be posting here at 3-Sided Die called “Character Spotlight,” where we share role-playing characters we’ve created and enjoyed playing. The subject of this essay is Rex Regulus Rex, a kobold barbarian from the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

band of kobolds

Wait, what? A kobold barbarian? This is a typo, right?

For those of you unaware of how strange this is, here’s a quick primer: in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, kobolds are diminutive, spry, and generally wicked-natured reptilian humanoids who fill the “easy-to-kill” and “comic relief” categories of foes you and your party will face as they adventure. Barbarians, as a character class, are powerhouses of primal rage, fearsome in stature and fierce in their battle prowess. That last sentence is the exact opposite of your typical, run-of-the-mill kobold.

Rex, however, is not your typical, run-of-the-mill kobold.

My D&D troupe needed a break from a long campaign, so our game master had the idea of running what he called a “misfits” campaign: a one-shot adventure where we’d roll up the most oddball set of characters you could imagine. Since our main party was the usual mixture of humans, elves, and dwarves, we decided to pick (mainly) nonhuman races such as goblins, hobgoblins, and kobolds. The setting was the exact same world in which our main party lived, and some of us wrote short backstories where our “misfit” characters ran afoul of those characters. Rex was my choice. My co-author, Ness, rolled up a goblin cleric of the sun god, Pelor. We also had a dwarven archer (raised by elves, naturally), a goliath thief, and a hobgobin sorceror.

For Rex’s personality, I decided to give him the well-worn trope of the small-sized hero with the oversized sense of self and inflated confidence. He was tough-talking, brash, and didn’t give a whit about what he did or where he went. When you needed the party to be silent for stealth checks, Rex just sauntered on into the room and bellowed out challenges to everyone in sight. Traps ahead? Forget the details, LET’S SMASH SOME HEADS! Oh, and he spoke with a rough-and-tumble Brooklyn accent, for added, uh, flair. Ness’ goblin cleric became Rex’s “straight man” cohort, whom he called “Sunshine.”

Without further adieu, allow me to share the background I wrote for Rex. Imagine your best Brooklyn accent as you read this. The less intelligible, the better.

So, there I was, digging in the holes with the other kobolds, right? And I says, this ain’t for me. Nope, not for me. I was good at breaking rocks, but I liked breaking heads better. ‘Cept the others didn’t like that all that much. And I didn’t like my name, either. It was pretty awful. I mean, we kobolds ain’t no poets or nothin’. Somethin’ like “Barzall” or somethin’. I mean, who could like a name like that, am I right?

So’s I left. Right then. Went right out. Grabbed an axe or two or many, somethin’ to eat, knocked some heads, and went right out. You know, outside an’ all. I had to run a bit, but you know how it goes.

So I walk around, nowhere’s particular. And I see somethin’. And I smashed it. Then, I saw somethin’ else. So I smashed that, too. An’ you know what? Then I saw somethin’ even BETTER.

It was this little guy. One of them gnome thingies. Trapped in a hole or somethin’. Leg all crazy like my brother’s eyes. Man, he was crazy. My brother, not the gnome, right? Anyway, the gnome. Little guy, real small. And he was quiverin’, right? Scared outta his wits, I tell ya.
He says to me, “Woop-dee-ooo! Oh, Mr. Kobold, sir! Please o please don’t hurt lil’ me, will ya? Woop-dee-ooo!” Man, those gnome thingies, they make some strange noises, they do. So I’s thinkin’ a bit. And thinkin’. And I says, “Hey there, you. Tell me your name and maybe I’ll be all merciful-like and all. We got a deal?” And then he’s all, “Woop-dee-ooo!” Man these gnomes are so weird. He says, “Oh, Mr. Kobold, my name is Rex Regulus Rex. I have a family and a loving home and …” BASH. Smashed him. Right there. I gotta tell ya, heads are SO much more fun to smash than rocks. Am I right?

So’s I take this guy’s name. I like it. “Rex Regulus Rex.” Sounds all formal and all. REGAL even. I really like it. Forget the old name; it’s outta here like yesterday’s rat meat. Boom. Gone. From this day on, this kobold is one “Rex Regulus Rex.”

So then I walk on. You know, in the forest and all. Then, wouldn’t ya know, it starts raining and all. Man, I hate rain. So’s I find a, what’s it, shelter under the trees and all. And then, woo, man, this lightning starts all booming and crashing and what not. Big storm, I tell ya. BIG. So’s I’m sitting and wonderin’ what I can smash next. And this big bolt hits the dirt. Can’t see a thing for like, a while. And this BIG voice comes all talkin’ to me like, “BEHOLD” or something like that. Total big man, this guy. And he says to me, “REX, YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T JUST GO AROUND SMASHING EVERYTHING, YOU KNOW. THERE IS NO HONOR IN IT.” And I says, “Whaddya mean? I like smashing stuff.” And the guy, he’s like glowing and stuff. Big shield, all shiny and stuff. Tall. Kinda, well, really tall. And he says, “SMASHING WITH A PURPOSE IS BETTER, REX. YOU MUST SMITE YOUR ENEMIES, BUT DO SO WITH HONOR AND A PURPOSE, REX.” And I’m all like, “Who are you, anyway, tall guy? No one tells Rex who to smash.” And he’s all like, “I AM THE LORD OF THUNDER, KORD.” And I’m all like, “NO WAY, MAN! I think I’s heard of you and all. Them humans like you, am I right?” And he’s all like, “TOTALLY. BUT YOU MUST FIGHT WITH HONOR, REX. I WILL TEACH YOU, IF YOU ARE WILLING.” And I’m like, “Well, will I get like, you know, POWER and all that? ‘Cause that would be sweet.” And he’s all like, “SERVE ME, AND YOU WILL INDEED FIND WHAT YOU SEEK. I SEE MUCH POTENTIAL IN YOU.” Whatever “potential” means. So’s I’m like, “OK, Mr. Kord. I can do that.” And then he waves his hand and all this STUFF goes in my head, right? Like I KNEW stuff. Awesome stuff. Like how to smash things, but with STYLE, right? I was all staticky and tingly. And then, just like that, BOOM, he’s all gone and what not. Totally gone. It still rained, though. I guess that Kord guy was a big deal. I mean, he was shiny and all boomy and what not. I kinda like the guy.

OK, so then I’m walking around, right? And I see all this commotion. You know, lots of guys bustin’ each other up. Tall guys, like elves or something. Fancy boys. And they’re all beatin’ up on these goblins and stuff. So’s I go to help ‘em. Cause, you know, goblins ain’t all that bright, not like us kobolds, but they’re all right. Good for raids and all. So’s I’m helping the last guy not all smashed. He’s all like, “Oh, good sir! Pelor greet you! Please, I could use your help. My friends, they’ve been ambushed!” And I’m all like, “Wow, you got that right. Youse been totally messed up. I can help ya.” And I help the poor sap up, and I says, “What’s your name, buddy?” And he’s all like, “I am Throck Bonesmasher, devoted of Pelor! What is your name, friend?” Ooh! I’s been WAITIN’ for this moment for, like, EVER. And I says, “I’m Rex Regulus Rex, baby. I’m here to smash stuff. WITH HONOR,” I add, remembering Kord and all. And from then on, woo, it was like good times all around. Lots of good smashing with this Throck guy. But I like to call him “Sunshine” ‘cause he’s all into this Pelor guy. Some sun guy or something. Real nice guy or some such. Sunshine’s a little strange and formal and all, but I like him too, ‘cause he has all this honor stuff too, am I right? But he’s good.

And that’s my story so far, buddy.

What? Hey, what’s that? Ooh! Let’s smash it. BUT WITH HONOR.

Nice, huh?

OK, so a campaign full of misfits, full of race and class combinations that should have meant we’d be dead in, what, two, three rounds at most, right? Well, no. As you can see from his character sheet, Rex is actually pretty buff for a pint-sized ball of pent-up rage. Our game master was a bit too generous with the ability score pool, so our band of miscreants ended up kicking more scales and tails that they should have. That just enabled me to ramp Rex’s misguided arrogance and heedless bravado to higher heights.

Truth be told, I haven’t had this much sheer fun playing a campaign in ages. I’ve found you don’t have to play the serious paladin or noble elf all the time. Adding a bit of Terry Pratchett in your Lord of the Rings-style campaign can go the distance in making an adventure that is maddeningly fun. If you haven’t, give it try! But, in the words of Rex, do it WITH HONOR.

About brightmatrix

brightmatrix is a long-time casual gamer. His gaming journey has included Magic: the Gathering, the first, second, and fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the first wave White Wolf games from the late 90s. If you are a denizen of the Twitterverse, you can read his posts on Magic, web development, puns, and other shenanigans at @brightmatrix.

Character Spotlight: Elven Decker for Shadowrun 5th Edition

Picture above found here.

This image was found at http://store.steampowered.com/app/234650/

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to talk about a 5th Edition Shadowrun Character I’ve created.  He’s an Elven Decker named Hi-Jinx and here are his stats below.  I’m new to Shadowrun and I want your opinion on what does or doesn’t work, tips, tricks, etc….  I feel like he’s pretty solid, but I want your feedback, in case I’m missing something.  Still working on my contacts, so this is a work in progress, though any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

 Background Synopsis: Hi-Jinx was born with a rare form of osteoporosis normally found in older women, making his bones extremely fragile. He luckily was born into a well off family, who had the money to take care of him appropriately when he was young, including paying for the bone lacing procedure to strengthen his bones.  It couldn’t be performed until after his body stopped growing though, to avoid future complications. The bone lacing ALMOST makes him normal. The cybernetics and armor are partially for his low self-esteem and almost depressive state of mind, to protect him from the world that he feels so vulnerable to.   His most recent run got him into trouble, when he overstayed his welcome in the matrix (something he vows he’ll never do again) and had to suddenly move, before they found his physical body. He ended up moving in with a gunslinger adept, with whom he had performed a couple jobs for (one of the other PC’s) and so she let him stay, as long as he continues to help her cause.

I envision Hi-Jinx as bald, frail and weak looking, (almost like an anorexic) but at the same time, he is loaded up with cybernetics all throughout his body, which are obvious to the naked eye.  Couldn’t find a pic that fit the bill though.

You can find a more user friendly version of the character here:  Shadowrun – Elven Decker – Hi-Jinx.

 Shadowrun Character

Elven Decker – Name:  Hi-Jinx

 Armor+Body:         27         (+12 from Jacket, +3 from Dermal Plating, +2 from R. Cyber Hand, +2 from Left Cyber Hand, +1 from R. Cyber Foot, +2 from L. Cyber Foot, +2 from Aluminum Bone Lacing, +3 from body rating)

Essence:                1.50

Priority A – Resources – 450,000 Credits

Cost:                       Miscellaneous Gear:

345,000                Sony-CIY-720 Cyber Deck (Cost of 345,000 credits), Attributes of 7,6,5,4, Device Rating 4, Programs 4.

Cyberdeck Programs – Armor, Biofeedback Filter, Fork, Exploit (Currently Running)

560                         Additional Common Programs – Browse, Configurator, Edit, Encryption, Signal Scrub, Toolbox and Virtual Machine.

3750                       Additional Hacking Programs – Baby Monitor, Biofeedback, Blackout, Decryption, Defuse, Demolition, Guard, Hammer, Lockdown, Mugger, Shell, Sneak, Stealth, track and Wrapper.

150                         AR Gloves

200                        Biometric Reader

600                         Bug Scanner – Rating 6

100                         Gold Credstick

2500                       Fake SIN – Rating 2

200                         Winchester Shotgun Carrying License – Rating 1

200                         Sony CIY-720 Cyberdeck Use License – Rating 1

200                         Ares Predator V License – Rating 1

200                         Ares Crusader II Machine Pistol License – Rating 1

250                         Goggles – Capacity 5

500                                         Thermographic

2000                                       Smart Link

500                                         Vision Enhancement Rating 1

250                                         Vision Magnification

150                         Earbuds – Capacity 2

500                                         Audio Enhancement – Rating 1

250                                         Select Sound Filter – Rating 1

800                         Motion Sensor – Rating 8

25                           1 Flashlight

125                         2 Light Sticks

300                         Respirator – Rating 6

750                         Medkit – Rating 3

150                         3 Stim Patches – Rating 2

1100                       Living Expenses for 1 month (.5 low lifestyle (share w/ Ness) + 10% (per Team Lifestyle costs)

363810                  Total – Standard Gear and Living Expenses

Cost:                       Weapon 1:

725                         Heavy Pistol – ARES Predator V

725                                         Smart Gun System

125                                         Laser Sight

500                                         Silencer

50                                           10 Spare Clips of Ammo

2125                       Total – Weapon 1

 

Cost:                       Weapon 2:

1300                       Winchester Model 201

125                                         Laser Sight

50                                          50 Bullets

1475                       Total – Weapon 2

 

Cost:                       Weapon 3:

830                         Ares Crusader II Machine Pistol

2500                                       Smart Firing Platform with Clear Sight Autosoft (Slaved to my cyberdeck)

125                                         Laser Sight

50                                          10 Clips of Ammo

3505                       Total – Weapon 2

Cost:                       Armor:

1000                       Armor Jacket

250                                         Fire Resist – Rating 1

250                                         Chemical Prot. – Rating 1

500                                         Non-conductivity – Rating 2

2000                       Total – Armor Cost

Cost:                       Bioware/Cyberware:

5000                       Cyberdeck implant – Essence 0.4

1000                       Data jack – Essence 0.1

5000                       Cyber Left Hand – Essence 0.25

6000                                       Armor Rating – 2

5000                       Cyber Right Hand – Essence 0.25

6500                                       Agility Upgrade – Rating 1

6000                                       Armor Upgrade – Rating 2

5000                       Left Foot – Essence 0.25

6000                                       Armor Upgrade – Rating 2

5000                       Right Foot – Essence 0.25

3000                                       Armor Upgrade – Rating 1

9000                       Dermal Plating – Rating 3 (Armor +3) – Essence 1.5

13000                    Reaction Enhancer – Rating 1 – Essence 0.6

18000                    Aluminum Bone Lacing (Armor +2, Body +2, Strength +2P for unarmed dmg) Essence 1.0

93500                    Total – Bioware / Cyberware

4085                       Current Nuyen

Priority B – Skills  36/5

36 Skill Points / 5 Group Points to spend (no specialization of groups)

Specialized denoted with a *.

 Individual Skills:

*Cybercombat – Rating 6                                   Specialization: Devices

*Electronic Warfare – Rating 6                         Specialization: Encryption

*Hacking – Rating 6                                           Specialization: Devices

*Negotiation – Rating 2 (4 Karma)                    Specialization: Bargaining

*Longarms – Rating 6                                        Specialization: Shotguns

*Pistols – Rating 2                                              Specialization: Revolvers/Single Shots

*Gunnery – Rating 2 (4 Karma)                         Specialization: Automated Defenses

Skill Group:

Electronics: 5 – Includes Computer, Hardware and Software

Knowledge Skills/Languages:  (Language – English – Native)

22 Free Skill Points to spend (Logic 6 + Intuition 5) x2 = 22 points

 Street – Security Companies – Rating 4

Professional – Police Procedures – Rating 5

Street – Fences – Rating 4

Professional – Corporate Matrix Protocols and Procedures – Rating 4

Professional – Military Hacker Protocols and Procedures – Rating 4

Interests – Video Games – Rating 1

 Attributes: Priority C = 16 Points, all stats start at 1, unless otherwise noted.

Body – 1 (3)                          (Aluminum Bone lacing)

Agility – 5 (6)                        (Start with 2 as an elf, 1 additional from cyber arm)

Reaction – 2 (3)                    (With Reaction Enhancers)

Strength – 1                          (3P for unarmed damage from bone lacing)

Willpower – 4

Logic – 6

Intuition – 5

Charisma – 3                         (Start with 3 as an elf)

Edge – 1

Priority D – Elf (0)

Priorty E – Magic or Resonance – NONE

Qualities:

Codeslinger – Hack on the Fly:  -10 Karma

Codeslinger – Full Matrix Defense:  -10 Karma

 Negative:

Code of Honor – Technomancers – +15 Karma

Insomnia – +10 Karma

So again, please let me know what you think, where I can improve and any suggestions you might have for Hi-Jinx. He looks forward to getting into trouble, but not deep enough where his seemingly vulnerable self (his armor is fairly high) could get hurt.

Thanks all!

Jinx

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called “The Fall of Astia”. Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you’d like to see featured on our site.