Thursday, November 12, 2020

November update

Still running twice weekly games and having a good time.  Roll20 is working well for this kind of campaign and the sheets are working as is keeping various maps in play for overland travel, dungeon exploration and managing handouts.

In the playtest some players are starting to hit level 4 as they explore and fight their way across the wilds.  I think that the rate of advancement is about perfect, combats are averaging about 3-4 encounters and around 250-300XP per six player session and they are spending a good amount of treasure to top up to next level when they return to town.  It will be interesting to see how this shapes up as they hit the mid levels 5-7 and see if it still seems to track.  

The overland map is expanding outward as they explore and looks like this now:

Adventure Map
The northern wilds

Using the VTT features in roll20 is great although I wish I could use a tablet or something to do the live drawing part since using a mouse with their tools is very obtuse.  The players are able to add annotations to the maps and I am using copy/paste to lay out the terrain icons which works well.  In Roll20 the DM needs to manage the map I think although I would love if the players did take on more mapping and notetaking.

I'm currently working on the 7.4 rule update which is a bunch of minor tweaks and fixes more than any big changes.  Still slowly updating the spell descriptions to make them more skill facing and still working on more challenging monsters.  One player bought a bunch of war dogs and we quickly realized that adding 2HD for trained animals was too much, so that buff got scaled back to 1HD.

I'm tightening up the language around combat round actions a bit, each round you get an attack action and a maneuver or two maneuvers.  

Attack actions are: 

  • weapon attacks;
  • aiming;
  • casting spells;
  • defense.  

I specifically listed Aim as an attack action since PCs with multiple attacks could then use an attack to take aim if they wanted.  I also called out the Defense action here which makes it more clear how that works to provide AC bonus.   

Maneuver actions are: 

  • movement of various kinds;
  • manipulating items;
  • swapping gear;
  • assist;
  • or other miscellaneous actions.  

The assist action is new here and I see this as a replacement for things like flanking or other ways to give another player advantage and still leverage the initiative system.  The way announcing actions and movement happens it is too hard for players to rely on combat positions for bonuses so having this action will mitigate that I hope.  It also lets other players set up surprise attacks for rogues which would let them act sooner in the round than if they had to set themselves up.  These are not really changes so much as clarifications to existing mechanics and hopefully its all a lot more clear for those reading the rules now.

I also formalized overland travel and rest around the 4 hour "watch" period, generally rolling for an encounter and giving a travel description for each 4 hour period.  I standardized the journey encounter rolls to a d6 where 1 is an encounter on the relevant table and 6 is a 'character moment' where a PC will give some information about themselves either in a story or in interaction.  I like that idea since it gives some sense of time and getting to know one another on overland treks.  Players were kind of hesitant at first but since they know its coming up they are starting to warm to the idea and prepare things for it.  I like it a lot, especially since its an exploration game and I am discouraging long backstories at character creation.  I also added a petite rest because I noticed when they are resting players fall into the idea of first and second watch pretty quickly but it was a bit hard on PCs who only had minor wounds as they usually got tapped to keep watch.  I decided to give PCs who only rest for 4 hours a small HP recovery equal to their level.  I also want to make sure that PCs who didn't get at least 4 hours rest in a day would have disadvantage until they did.

No firm date on when I push this latest update out, but it will be soon.

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