* Five Pages, Thirty Stat Blocks v.2
After running 5p30s (below) for the better part of a year, I realized monsters couldn’t pull their weight passed the Heroic tier. I re-calibrated the dice so a basic attack will deal one-third of an average PC’s hit points in damage.
* Five Pages, Thirty Stat Blocks v.1
This document takes Page 42 and puts it in a stat block format. There are no encounter powers, no dailies, no utility powers, or indeed — anything at all besides what might vaguely be interpreted as basic attacks.
* Static Damage Table
If you want a roguelike 4e experience, here’s a table to help you on your way — stats for creatures 1st to 30th level, with fixed initiative, damage, et cetera. It can also be useful if you want your players to roll all the dice.
Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition
I started with Third Edition D&D and I resisted the move to Fourth Edition. I followed its development but saw no reason to commit to a game none of my friends were playing — I was intrigued but unmotivated to learn it.
Order of the Raven
My webcomic Rumors of War launched in 2010, and around that time I joined a D&D group that was getting into Fourth Edition. I took the opportunity to learn the system since I had all but avoided it since its launch.
While the characters in the campaign they were playing were new, the group had been playing since at least Second Edition. We picked up a few players along the way and built up a consistent gaming group.
I offered to take the reins for the mid-paragon tier, and ran the first part of an original adventure, Escape From White Cliff. I’ve written a bunch of stuff here about its design and development.
That summer I took a break from tabletop gaming for the wedding, and didn’t rejoin the group until some time after the campaign had concluded.
Essentials and Encounters
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say the entire D&D community saw Essentials coming, and I don’t think it’s ever managed to shake the stigma of being “Four Point Five,” reflecting the rules update of the previous edition.
I resisted the new material because it looked like a hacked version of the standard rules. The new classes had half the content of the original classes, and some of them looked awful — the Cavalier, Sentinel, and especially the Vampire.
Essentials heralded a few good things — like the Encounters program.
D&D Encounters caught my interest. A friend vouched for me at the FLGS and I acquainted myself with some of the regulars. At the end of the Encounters season, I approached a few of them with a campaign. We continued to play at the store until scheduling conflicts interfered.
In Praise of Stone
D&D Encounters seemed like “too little, too late” when it was introduced. It worked though. If a handful of players get their start through the program, if even one new group is organized per store, the whole thing is worth it.
“Praise of Stone” started in May 2012 and concluded in April 2013. It takes place in roughly the same setting I developed for Rumors of War. After a lengthy discussion of expectations with the players, I wrote a “Campaign Standard,” and we had one of the more organized character creation sessions I’ve led.
Our group had a little turnover in players in the middle, but our core group remained consistent throughout the entire campaign. Once we hit paragon tier, I noticed some disturbing trends in the group’s attitude toward NPCs that I knew would not enable them to survive the entirety of the paragon and epic tiers.
About halfway through the paragon tier, and despite combined efforts from myself and a few of the players, some interventions and hard lessons, I concluded the party wouldn’t survive epic tier. Rather than ending abruptly, I sped up level advancement so we could see where the party’s actions would lead.
And it was glorious.
Basking in the Afterglow
It’s been almost a month since the end of the campaign, and I feel ambivalent. Proud obviously, it was the first campaign I’d ever taken from the start all the way to the finish. Though we sped things up in the end, there were prolonged periods with little advancement at both the beginning and in the middle.
But now I’m not sure how I feel about starting anew. I’ve been doing a lot of creative work recently — designing character classes, analyzing play experience to run a better campaign in the future — I don’t want to spoil the feeling.