Saturday 30 June 2012

Terrifying Ghost

Inspired by Skulls in the Stars by R.E.H.

This ghost is the ethereal spirit of a person who was killed.  At night it haunts the area where the killing occurred, be it a house, dark alley, or a lonely heath.  It hates all living things and feeds on their fear.  Similarly, courage weakens the ghost.

DnD Rules


HD: 5(0-10)*
Move: 240' (Flying)
THAC0: As fighter of same level*
Damage: 3x1d4 (talons+bite)
AC: 8 (only hurt by magic weapons)
Turned As: Undead with same # of HD

*The Ghost begins with 5 HD.

Any round a character attempts to stand-up to or attack the ghost, they must save vs. Magic with a bonus equal to the Character's Level - the Ghost's HD.  If the character succeeds, the Ghost loses 1HD.  If they fail, they are too scared and must flee that round and the Ghost gains 1HD.  Similarly, if the character chose to flee on their own, the ghost automatically gains 1HD.

The ghost can reach a maximum of 10HD in this way.

If courageous characters/magic weapons reduce it to 1HD worth of HP or less it will flee to the specific location of it's death/body.  If it is reduced to 0 HP it dissipates.  In either case, the ghost will reappear the next night.

The only way to destroy the ghost permanently is to appease it(let it avenge it's death, etc.) or if it is destroyed by a high-level cleric turning it, etc.

Changes for Cyberpunk

Same as above, except use 1d10+COOL checks to fight-off fear(10 to succeed).  The ghost begins with 12 HP.  Successful fear-checks cause it to lose 1HP, while failures cause it to Gain 1HP, for a maximum of 25.  When the ghost is reduced to 4 HP it flees, 0HP it dissipates.

Ghost gets 3 melee attacks for 1d6 each.  Attack roll is 1d10+5+(# of HP left).

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Kaldanian Lycanthropy

King Verigan, after having killed his son the Crown Prince Verigan II in a fit of lycanthropic rage

 OK, yet another round of Art-Inspired game content.


Lycanthropy first reached Kaldania several centuries ago in an incident still remembered in the common folklore. It became known that Avalzaunt, the court magician, was teaching the Crown Prince, Prince Verigan II, the Arcane Arts. King Verigan, in a fit of rage, ordered the Magician's study destroyed and Avalzaunt banished.  The light of the burning philters and grimoires reflecting off his brass manacles, the Magician cursed the King's hasty anger by the Eleven Unspeakable Names of the Arch-Demon Phalighmar.

A few days later, while the King was upbraiding the Crown Prince for keeping his unauthorized magical education a secret, King Verigan slew his heir in a fit of anger. Though torn with grief over the rending of his only heir, the King went on to produce other heirs.

Many generations have passed since then, but the curse lives on in the blood of the Kaldanian monarchy, and many a servant's death at the hands of the royal family has been hushed-up.  Not only that, but due to the Kaldanian Royals' penchant for keeping mistresses and lovers, the lycanthropy has spread throughout the kingdom and even without, among the offspring of other royal families who married Kaldanian royals, and even through illicit liaisons with the maidservants of visiting nobles.


The child of a Kaldanian Lycanthrope has a 50% chance of being a Lycanthrope, while the child of two Lycanthropes has a 100% chance.

When Lycanthropes becomes angry, they are susceptible to becoming possessed by the spirit of a Wolf-Headed Demon.  While possessed, the Lycanthrope gains incredible strength and will attack the source of their anger(and any Human, animal, or inanimate objects within reach), often biting for their jugular.  Unlike other types of Lycanthropy, the Kaledonian Lycanthrope does not change shape while possessed.

DnD Rules

When the Kaldanian Lycanthrope becomes angry, he must save vs. Magic or become possessed for 1d10 rounds or until the source of his anger has been destroyed.

While possessed, the Lycanthrope gains the equivalent of Hill-Giant strength.  It will attempt to grab it's victim(s) and bite them(Thac0 12, 2d6 dmg).  The Lycanthrope never retreats while possessed and will keep fighting into negative HP until killed(-10 HP).

Monday 18 June 2012

Witold and the Jolly Janissaries

OK, let's play this again.

Witold and the Jolly Janissaries are a notorious band of treasure hunters, dungeon looters, and monster slayers that a party may encounter while out adventuring.  Witold and his gang are a bunch of good-natured, carousing vagabonds, out for killing, loot and a good time.

They generally view other parties of adventurers as competition, but will not attack them outright unless the party directly threatens them or their loot.  It is much more likely that they will treat the party with a rough-friendliness, but they shouldn't be deceived-- the Janissaries love practical jokes!

For instance:
Reverend Francois Delacroix tells of how he and Sir Bertrand of Lockwood met a band of Janissaries while questing for the Chalice of Divine Virtue among the subterranean ruins in the Hills of Amorach. The Janissaries were hauling out several chests of coins and, when asked, replied that they had seen just such a chalice among the piles of treasure down the trapdoor at the end of yonder passageway. 

The good Reverend painfully relates how he had lowered his companion down about 30ft when suddenly there was a scream and a terrible crunching of bones and armor and the rope went slack.  He caught a glimpse of black tentacles engulfing the broken form of the Paladin before the light went out.  When he later caught-up to the Janissaries, they had a good laugh at his expense and offered him a stiff drink.

Similarly the Janissaries will often spend time resetting traps, or constructing their own, for the sake of a good laugh.

The Janissaries are often joined by their Holy Men, two brothers Josef and Pyoter.  They are the only educated members of the band. The band treats them with a surprising amount of reverence, for such a colorful bunch of ruffians.

A small band of Janissaries encountered in a dungeon consists of:
  • 1d4 New Recruits
  • 1d4 Janissaries
  • 1d3 Veteran Janissaries
  • 50% chance Specialist present
  • 30% chance Janissary Chieftain present
  • 10% chance that Witold present
  • 30% chance that Josef present
  • 30% chance that Pyoter present

DnD Stats

AC: 7 due to agility, thick clothing

  • New Recruit(Level 0): spear, lantern/torches, dagger, matches
  • Jannisary(Fighter 1): rifle, sabre, flask of oil
  • Veteran Jannisary(Fighter 2): rifle, sabre, flask of oil
  • Specialist(Thief 2): 10 ft pole, pistol, sabre, thieves tools, rope
  • Jannisary Chieftain(Fighter 3): pistol, sabre
  • Witold(Fighter 4): pistol, sabre
  • Josef(Cleric 1): lantern, (map)
  • Pyoter(Cleric 2): lantern, (map)

For games with no black-powder, give them light/heavy crossbows.  Give the chieftains chainmail.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Polish Resistance: Session 6

As opposed to the technical-problems in Session 5, in Session 6 everything just ran like clockwork.  In part, I think this was due to the players getting used to the game.  In part I think that my sandbox reached a certain level of maturity.  In any case, by the end of the session, the players achieved their goal of reaching the Russian-occupied city of Sandomierz, much faster than I had anticipated.  A lot happened in this session so I'll try and break it down rather than give a full summary.

Reduced Lineup

August 29, 1944, the session started off with the party returning to the village of Lipnik.  Their their NPC companions, Jurec and Ludmilla bid them farewell and their PC medical doctor, Leora, stayed on to tend the wounded, promising to rejoin them as fast as she could.  As such, the two brawny boys, Andrei and Shmengy, set-off alone with their horses and a donkey.

Random Events/Encounters

As I said, a lot happened this session.  I had a lot of fun with this, generating almost 30 random encounters and events over the 3 hour session, including:
  • German Armor
  • Russian Scouts
  • Russian planes
  • 4 zombies little girls
  • Civilians
  • Various destroyed civilian and military equipment
I also used the Luck mechanic a lot to answer player questions about various details.

Player-Driven Action

A big part of why I generated so many events/encounters was that the players seem to have figured out how to get what they want out of the setting.  They played very cautious most of the time, hiding, traveling off the main road, masquerading as German troops, and generally not getting sidetracked from their goal of reaching Sandomierz.

The one random event they spent the most time on was, while crossing some empty fields, they stumbled on the remnants of a tank battle.  They immediately decided this as a low-risk opportunity for looting and the second tank they checked was found to be in pretty good condition.  This was when they took one of the session's bigger risks--Andrei rode back to Lipnik with the horses to fetch Jurec, in the hope that he could get the tank back in working-order, while Shmengy continued to loot alone.  But the risk paid-off, and by evening the 3 were siphoning gas and would soon be ready to drive-off(though none of them knew how to drive a tank!)

At that point, I rolled up a German patrol, in the form of three halftracks with almost 20 troops!  The PCs decided not to risk losing their hard-earned tank and took advantage of the dark to surprise their enemies with grenades and automatic weapons. 

Spoils of War

The party's ambush went their way, and destroyed the small halftrack, captured one of the large ones, while the third got away.  They lost their horses in the fray, but by the end of the session had captured a lot of materials, including:
  • Two working tanks(one Jurec drove back to Lipnik)
  • A blood-splattered, but functional halftrack(8-seater)
  • German Halftrack driver(prisoner)
  • Numerous SMGs and ammo
  • An automatic pistol
  • Numerous grenades
  • A German sniper rifle
  • A few flack-jackets
  • A tire-iron
  • A German tank crew uniform
  • A Polish citizen's ID card
  • Bribe money(from a polish citizen, while disguised as a German tank crew)
  • A Russian flag to wave at Russian anti-tank crews while riding around in their Panzer
  • Probably other stuff that I forgot


I also got to use the clue generator twice.  It yielded:
  • Program from a German Officer's Ball in Opatow, including name and rank of various German officers
  • A small stone stature, shaped like a hand with a seven-pointed star on the palm

Objective Achieved

On August 31, 1944, the party finally drove in to Sandomierz with their Panzer, towing the half-track.  They were directed to the head Quartermaster, to whom they donated the vehicles.  In exchange for their contribution to the war-effort, he promised to recommend them to Field Marshal Vladimir Yurlovich, head of the Russian Army, and he also gave them the use of a confiscated civilian car.

I think that next session, the Quartermaster will offer to take their extra guns/grenades in exchange for credit, which they can use to buy food/ammo and other materials from him.

Monday 11 June 2012

Polish Resistance Game Art

Here's some game art for Polish Resistance.  Enjoy!

Polish Resistance Members

Young partisan cleaning his weapon
Partisans marching through liberated town

Ragtag gang of partisans

Homemade weaponry


Karlotta Stepanski, a spy for the Resistance, embedded as a secretary in the German Civil Authority
A Russian sniper displaying his weapon


High Inspector for the SS
Halftrack similar to the ones the party has been following


A German Ace pilot


Dr. Gustav Sporer, an Archaeologist at the local Univerity


Muirne Adamski, a lounge singer at the German Officers' club






Sunday 10 June 2012

Dissociative Mechanics and Rules vs. World Centric Gaming

Pictured: NOT a Dissociative Mechanic

There have been a few posts about Dissociative Mechanics floating around the old blog-o-sphere lately.

Justin Alexander gives the following brief definition, before trying to come-up with something more precise:
An associated mechanic is one which has a connection to the game world. A dissociated mechanic is one which is disconnected from the game world.

What it all comes down-to is immersion.  Dissociative Mechanics tend to encourage Rules-Centric gaming and ultimately hurt immersion.  It's not a direct relation. You could have a World-Centric game with dissociative mechanics, or a Rules-Centric game with associative mechanics. The point is what the rules tend to encourage.

The more things going on in the game that have no intuitive mapping to the game-world, the more players are drawn out of the game-world.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Monsters in the Night

The night was warm and windless, and the woodland seemed to hold its breath. There were, he knew, other monsters abroad in that year of the Twenty-first Century. The vampire still survived, subtler and deadlier, protected by man's incredulity. And he himself was not the only lycanthrope: his brothers and sisters ranged unchallenged, preferring the darker urban jungles, while he, being country-bred, still kept the ancient ways. Moreover, there were monsters unknown as yet to myth and superstition. But these too were mostly haunters of cities. He had no wish to meet any of them. And of such meeting, surely, there was small likelihood.
 Now there is a Cyberpunk 2020 game I'd like to play, courtesy of Clark Ashton Smith: the PCs are classic monsters in a near-future world where it is no longer safe to be a monster.  Where classic monsters are nearly "obsolete" and harder, faster, shinier new monsters roam the streets.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Speaking of DnD computer games...

Following up on my recent post about how I got into RPGs via computer games, GreyhawkGrognard just posted a great link to a paper about how DnD computer games have influenced common views of the middle ages.  I'm not sure that she argues her thesis so convincingly, but there is a lot of very interesting history about the love-affair between DnD and computer games.

Tuesday 5 June 2012


Inspired by REH's Pigeons from Hell and my previous post about Furtive Monsters.

The Zuvembi is a malevolent Undead being, formerly Human, who has been created by a Voodoo ceremony.  The Zuvembi hides away in a dark, secluded lair(often in an abandoned house, building, sewer, crashed plane, beached shipwreck) by day and at night it prowls the area seeking out people unfortunate enough to wander into it's territory.  It is very shy and secretive and possessed of a considerable but inhuman intelligence.  Locals may know the area is dangerous/haunted, but there is only a 20% chance that a local has seen the Zuvembi and lived to tell about it.

The Zuvembi can only be slain with lead or steel.  Any other damage is regenerated at a rate of 20% per day. It prefers remaining in the dark, stalking it's victims furtively and using it's abilities. It will flee if it feels the tables are turning against it. If cornered, and it's aura of fear is overcome, it is not such a formidable opponent, though it will attack with it's hands or any weapon it may have handy. In any case, it prefers to kill as vindictively as possible, terrifying it's victims first if it can.  It does not eat it's victims or any form of food that Humans can discern.

Hypnotism Ability

It can hypnotize the living by the sound of its voice, a sweet, otherworldly piping sound.  It will cause the first hypnotized victim to slowly approach it(25% of movement rate) where it is hiding, while the others are paralyzed, watching their friend walk-off in a trance. When the victim reaches the Zuvembi, it will kill them easily, in some particularly gory manner.

It may continue to call victims one at a time, or release the hypnosis and send the now dead victim(s) to kill the others(see next ability).  The Zuvembi is smart and will often kill the victim that poses the most threat first.

If a victim resists the hypnotism, they are no longer effected by it for the duration of the encounter.

Control Dead Ability

When it slays a man, it can command his lifeless body as a Zombie until the flesh is cold. It will generally release the other hypnosis victims so as to terrify them more, when their now dead friend tries to kill them. Use stats for a Zombie, except that these zombies can use weapons, albeit without much skill.  Zombies collapse dead after 1d3 hours.

Fear Ability

To see the Zuvembi's face, a leering yellow blur of lunacy, is to know fear. Roll to see the effect of the fear on each victim of this ability:
  1. will not melee attack or willingly approach within melee range of the Zuvembi for 1d10 rounds
  2. paralyzed with fear for 1d10 rounds where they can be easily killed
The Zuvembi may allow it's intended victims an initial glimpse of it's face from afar, even before it attempts to hypnotize them. This is purely to terrify them before moving-in for the kill.


DnD Stats

HD: 2HD+2
Move: 120'
AC: 3
Attacks: fists 2 x 1d2 or hand axe or large knife
Hypnotize Ability: acts as a Charm spell. Victim saves once per period depending on intelligence:
  • INT 3-8 save once every 5 rounds
  • INT 9-12 save once every 3 rounds
  • INT 13-18 save once every 1 rounds
Fear: victims save vs. Magic with +1 bonus per level higher than 1
Undead(turned as Wraith)


Cyberpunk Stats

REF: 7
INT: 8
Armor SP: -1

Attacks with hands or axe or knife


Stealth: d10+15
Dodge & Escape: 5
Hypnotize Ability: 1d10+10+(victim's EMP-INT) vs. victim's Resist torture/drugs(1d10+skill+cool)
Fear Ability: victims save by rolling 15 or more on 1d10+Cool

Sunday 3 June 2012

Pool of Radiance

Born in 1980, and coming of age well past DnD's peak popularity, my induction to DnD was through TSR's computer games, and specifically Pool of Radiance. And while PoR wasn't the first computer game to bear the DnD name, it was the first, to my knowledge, to actually use the rules of DnD.

PoR was released in 1988, by SSI, a prolific computer game company famous for their War Games and their DnD games, licensed from TSR. I probably picked it up a year or two after it's release, being mystified by it's cover: a stoic, chain-mailed hero, swinging his sword at a firebreathing dragon.

It quickly became, and remained, my favorite game on our Apple IIGS, not just for the game itself, but for the materials that came with it.  The equipment list, copy-pasted from ADnD, I soon had committed to memory from reading and re-reading, and it also came with a runic wheel whose use mystified me(apparently a creative form of DRM--photocopiers being rarer than they are today, not to mention the precise cutting required to fabricate it correctly).  I also spent hours going over SSI's sizable catalog of games, imagining playing each of them. And the game itself kept me busy for years.

Anyway, PoR was HARD. One of the reasons was probably that I was a kid. Another was that the encounters were very deadly. When sneaking around a dungeon, a party can often avoid encounters by being cautious.  In PoR, you were just told that you encountered monsters, and if you didn't surprise them, then chances were you were going to have to fight them.  And a large percentage of the encounters were difficult enough to result in a TPK for first level characters. Also, encounters were usually just on a big open map, so it wasn't like you could just fight them two-at-a-time at a choke point. At one point I realized that I should be fleeing more often, but since the monsters were generally faster than my PCs, you needed a head-start to make that work.

PoR let you change your ability rolls at character creation, so I generally pumped up all stats to 18 to have a chance.  But later, I read in the clue-book that the encounter-generator creates more difficult encounters based on your ability scores, so the joke was on me!

Anyway, for all it's difficulty, PoR was still playable due to the fact that you could save at any point. PoR kept me busy for years, but my party's progress was slow.  At one point I decided I wanted to invest in the Clue Book advertized in SSI's catalog. I went to the Southern California hobby store where I had bought the game but was told it was out of print. Then the proprietor told me something that I remember to this day. That he had worked on the game and that he could get me a cluebook free-of-charge even though it was out-of-print.  Wow!  I had never met a celebrity before, much-less such a generous one! (I believe it was Russ Brown, listed in the credits as a Programmer, though apparently it was more than just another programming job, since he later worked in a hobby store) Someone who had worked on my favorite game!  Anyway, true to his word, a cluebook arrived in the mail a month or two later, which helped my progress considerably and I even got to fight the dragon from the cover.

Anyway, SSI computer games continues to be my main exposure to DnD for a good number of years, until college, when a friend invited me to come play DnD 'for real'. I wonder if many other gamers of my generation first came to the hobby through the computer games and then made the transition to pen and paper.

An Interesting Death

A completely unrelated picture

Ah that age old question:
What happens when a character reaches 0 hitpoints?
Death?  Incapacitation?

Jack from TOTGAD recently posted a great little table to determine the answer here.

Here's what I like about the table:

  • Permanent injury is an option(something that was always missing from DnD)
  • Has an option of mortally wounded but still fighting--pure awesomeness!


Here's a higher-level breakdown of the options:

  • 40% chance of certain death
  • 25% chance of death without immediate treatment
  • 10% chance of permanent crippling injury
  • 25% chance of unhurt/stunned

It's a good balance. Nevertheless, I think I'd like to see a few more injuries.  So my table would look like this, with all 4 options at 25%:

d20 Result
1-2 A Second Chance – the character is unfazed by a blow that would fell a lesser creature; they may act normally.
3-5 A Stunning Blow – the character is not killed, but is instead stunned (may take no actions) for 1d4 rounds.
6-10 A Felling Blow – the character is knocked unconscious and must make a successful Saving Throw vs. Death or die every turn until they receive doctoring or magical healing.
11-12 A Crippling Blow – the character is knocked unconscious and additionally suffers a loss of 1d4 points of Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity (determine which randomly).
13-15 A Blow to the Head – the character is knocked unconscious and additionally suffers a loss of 1d4 points of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma(determine which randomly).
16-17 A Death-defying Stand! – the character has been mortally wounded and will die in 1d10 rounds unless medical aid or magical healing is obtained. Until that time the character may act normally as they grit their teeth and fight on through the pain.
18-19 The Reaper's Scythe Falls – the character dies. Raise Dead or similar is their only hope now.
20 Horrific Demise! – the character is dispatched in a truly gruesome, stomach-churning manner. It's going to take a Resurrection spell to bring them back from beyond the veil. All allies who witness this atrocity must make an immediate Saving Throw vs. Horror.

Now if I could just find a way to incorporate limb-loss...

Saturday 2 June 2012

DnD Next Armor Class

Plate Armor with FABULOUS neck-protection
In my last post, I promised a more in-depth look at DnD Next's AC system. In order to do that, let's go back a bit, to the days
When men were men, and men used charts!

Attack Matrices

In the first editions of DnD, in order to determine if an attack hits, each class came with an attack matrix showing, for each level/AC, what number you needed to roll to score a hit. So the process is:
  1. Calculate To Hit Value=(chart lookup)
  2. Roll=d20 + bonuses  
  3. Compare values


The idea of a chart that each player needed to have available at all times got old pretty fast, such that the DMG in 1e already mentions calculating a character's THAC0 or "To Hit Armor Class 0".  So here the process is:
  1. Calculate To Hit Value=THAC0-AC
  2. Roll=d20+bonuses(level,proficiency,environment,effects)
  3. Compare values

Now this is a subjective improvement, some players prefer charts, but my impression is that THAC0 was eventually widely adopted and that most players, including myself, prefer it.

DnD Next

DnD Next changed the AC system so that a character's AC IS the To Hit value. As such the process to determine a hit is:
  1. Roll=d20+bonuses(level,proficiency,environment,effects)
  2. Compare to AC
I would argue that this is an improvement on the THAC0 system for two reasons:

First, in the THAC0 system, I need to calculate and remember two values for each attack, which for my notoriously bad short-term memory, is a bit clunky. I didn't realize how much the 5e version is an improvement until the 5e playtest. It's nice not having to calculate the to-hit value for each specific monster.

The second reason this is an improvement is that the DM need not reveal the monster's AC to the players.  The player just states his roll and the DM compares to the AC value.  This is more immersive, since the player doesn't know objectively how hard the monster is to hit.  Monsters should be mysterious and an unknown quantity.  Once they become just a list of numbers in the players' mind, then the game becomes less immersive.

Actually, this AC as the to-hit value may have already been present in 4e, but 4e combat is so Byzantine and complex that I didn't notice how great it is until now!

Anyway, I still won't be giving up Labyrinth Lord as my choice version of DnD to run, but I might just swipe 5e's Armor Class rules when I do run my next DnD game.

Friday 1 June 2012

5e Playtest Postmortem

So my good friend who usually DMs a 4e game for our group decided to switch it up this session and run the DnD Next playtest.  Here are a few of my impressions. I know it's a long post--feel free to skim :)

Character Sheets

I tend to be partial to Fighters and Thieves, so I chose the pre-generated Halfling thief.  Overall, I was happy to see that the sheets looked more like traditional DnD than 4e, so it's nice to see that Wizards is taking DnD back in a simpler, more traditional direction. In fact, instead of 5e I think we should call it DnD 3.6! Anyway, combat no longer requires miniatures, so it can be played over Google+, so that's good news.

The character sheet was too long(2 pages of A4 for a 1st level character) but this was due mainly to the inclusion of too much color-text("Halflings are clever, capable opportunists...bla bla bla) and due to the inclusion of various Facets(Specific Race, Background, Theme).  Also, to be fair, there is a good deal of playtest related info(further level mechanics, room for notes).

I wasn't happy to see the Facets--this ultimately makes character creation complex and encourages Mary Sue-type character creation.  The reason WotC included them is presumably money. Howling Tower recently pointed out that Expanded Character Options is what makes the most money and these Facets mean that to create a character, a player needs to either buy books or a subscription to WotC's character creation software. But, supposedly these are optional, so that's a good thing(though I suspect that many DMs who will choose to run DnD Next games will require them).

Armor Class

At first I was disappointed to see that 5e has high-AC values like 4e(my thief had AC of 15). But upon further thought, I think this might actually be an improvement on the original AC system!  But let me write a more detailed post on that(next week) before you freak out at me for saying that!

In any case, 5e has an alternate system where armor reduces damage, rather than making your harder to hit.  I'm familiar with armor as damage reduction from WFRP and CP2020 and I actually am fond of it.  I don't think it's more realistic, since for realistic damage reduction you have to take into account types of damage(piercing, slashing, crushing) and those systems always seemed to complex to me to be practical.  Nevertheless, damage reduction seems more immersive to me personally: getting hit and then the damage being reduced makes me feel like I'm really wearing armor!  Anyway, it's a nice little touch that they now support both common armor paradigms.

The Hook

If you didn't know, the playtest uses module B2, Keep on the Borderlands.  I don't know if they actually distributed the original B2 or a modified B2, but my impression is that new modules published for DnD Next can easily be DMed with older DnD rules. I don't think that this is by chance: DnD Next is about Wizards trying to appeal to both 4e users and to people who use older editions. I think this is a sign just how much of a force the OSR has become in the hobby, WotC can no longer ignore us and are now trying to appeal to us in their long-term strategy!

In short, our party was enlisted to create unrest in a nearby mega dungeon whose various denizens were putting aside their differences and may soon become an existential threat to humanity. An ex-cultist suggested that we start by disguising ourselves as Human cultists(with robes he provided) and infiltrate the evil cult.

The main problem with this was that our party consisted of two Dwarves and a Halfling, so disguising ourselves as Humans might be difficult.  So after briefly considering having the Dwarves stand on each others' heads and the Halfling pretend to be a child, we decided instead to scout out one of the demihuman levels of the complex.

Thief Skills

One are of confusion was that there is no explicit Pick-Pockets mechanic on my Thief's character sheet.  We decided to use the Stealth skill instead, which may or may not have been the intention of the game designers.

One complaint that I heard second-hand was that Halflings don't have any sort of dark-vision, so the Halfling Thief didn't make for much of a scout.  We could definitely relate to the problem: we did a lot of sneaking and scouting, switching-off between the sneaky halfling, crawling around blindly, listening for monsters, and the two Dwarves with their night vision, trying not to clink too loudly in their chainmail.

Ultimately, I don't agree that "Halflings should therefore be given dark-vision".  I'm not a great believer in 4e's obsession with "balance" and anyway dungeons should be dark and scary!

Also, my character had a Luck mechanic, which was nice to see included.

Too Many Hitpoints!!!

Anyway, my main criticism with 5e has already been voiced by the great Jeff Rients. PCs have WAY too many hitpoints. When we did finally finish sneaking around and plan an ambush of a Goblin guardpost, it was a simply TOO EASY. The goblins each had 5HP and my Halfling Thief had 16. That's simply ridiculous--starting characters should have approximately the same number of HP as the weakest monsters!

There are several reasons I don't like this, but the main one is immersion. Monsters should be SCARY! And I'll admit, I was rolling unusually well all evening, but those Goblins were going down like flies,regardless.  They even manages to call their Ogre friend, and he was a total pushover(one of the Dwarves had to be healed once, but never went unconscious).


Anyway, to summarize:
  • Liked it more than the overly-complex 4e
  • Too many HP for starting characters
  • My DnD rule-set of choice is still the simple, elegant, and well organized Labyrinth Lord
  • Had fun--and that's the most important part anyway, let's be honest