Saturday, 29 May 2010

Cleric starter pack - A pack for first time players.

As you maybe aware, I am new to the 4th edition so I have been dabbling around the books today and learning how it's different from 3.5 edition in the process. I have some friends who will be coming sometime next week to try out D&D and none of them have ever played it. So... as I was learning the ropes of 4th edition I decided to create the characters for them and type up an information sheet to help them understand how to play.
The list doesn't include how the combat works but that is up to the DM to explain how the combat works. I'll type up a combat reference sheet at a later date.

I haven't filled in a character sheet for this Cleric character yet, but you can find printable character sheets here.

Below are some notes about the cleric that will help you fill in the character sheet for them.



Deity – Bahamut – Lawful Good

16 – Str / +3

16 – Wis (+2 from race)/+3

13 – Con/+1

12 - Charisma/+1

13 – Dex (+2 from race)/+1
10 - Intelligence/+0

Skill (+2 nature, +2 perception)

Able to use Longbow and short bow

Considered a fey creature

Group awareness: +1 bonus to perception checks to allies within 5 squares of you

Wild step: Able to shift on difficult terrain without penalty

Skills (+5 bonus)

Religion (int) = 5

Heal (wis) = 8

Diplomacy (char) = 6

History (int) = 5

Nature (Wis) = 5

Perception (Wis) = 5

Feats: Weapon focus (mace), ritual casting

Equipment (100G)

Chainmail (40gp)

6AC, -1 speed

Mace d8 (5GP), remember weapon focus

Holy Symbol (10GP)

Ritual Book (50GP)

Ok, now onto the real thing, just copy and paste below into a word document and print it out! Make sure you have "Cleric" as the header and the page number and number of pages at the bottom. Make sure "Combat" and "Role playing" are on seperate pages. Sorry about the spaces, no idea why blogger does that when I copy something from Microsoft word. Just staple the character sheets and the text below and ask the to have a quick read through it.
I'll be writing up another character tomorrow, so keep up to date!


Look at this page whenever you have a combat encounter with enemies. There are 3 types of attacks, At-Will, Encounter and Daily. At-Will can be used whenever, Encounter powers can be used once or twice per encounter and the Daily power can be used once per rest.


Lance of Faith

A brilliant ray of light sears you foe with golden radiance. Sparkles of light linger around the target, guiding your ally’s attack.

Standard Action: Ranged 5 (Target 1 creature within 5 squares of you)

Attack: Wisdom (d20 + 3) vs. Reflex

Hit: 1d8 + Wisdom modifier (3) damage and one ally you see gains a +2 attack bonus to his or her next attack roll against the target (you choose any one ally you see to increase their chance to hit against the same target you attacked).

Priest’s shield

You utter a minor defensive prayer as you attack with your weapon.

Standard Action: Melee (Target 1 creature adjacent to you)

Attack: Strength (d20 + 3) vs. AC

Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier (3) damage, you and one adjacent ally gain a +1 to AC until the end of your next turn (Yourself and an ally next to you gain +1 to AC, making you harder to hit. This effect is gone when it is your next turn).


Channel Divinity – Use 1/encounter

Divine Fortune

In the face of peril, you hold true to your faith and receive a special boon.

Free action (Personal) – This can be used at any time during your turn.

Effect: You gain +1 bonus to your next attack roll or saving throw before the end of your turn.

Healing Word – Use 2/encounter

You whisper a brief prayer as divine light washes over your target, helping to mend it’s wounds.

Minor Action – You can use this, and perform a standard action as well.

Target: You or Ally within 5 squares of you

Effect: Target ally spends a healing surge and regain an addition 1d6 + 3 (wisdom modifier) of hit points.

Divine Glow – Use 1/encounter

Murmuring a prayer to your deity, you invoke a blast of white radiance from your holy symbol. Foes burn in it’s stern light, but your allies are heartened and guided by it.

Standard Action: Close blast 3 (choose a 3x3 square that is adjacent to you and use this skill, it will affect every creature caught in the blast, enemy and ally).

Attack: Wisdom (d20 + 3) vs. Reflex.

Hit: 1d8 + Wisdom modifier (3) damage vs. reflex

Effect: Allies in the blast gain +2 bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn (All the allies caught in the blast will gain +2 to attack rolls, increasing their chance of hitting a target. This effect is gone by the end of your next turn).

Elven accuracy: Encounter Power – Use 1/encounter

With an instant of focus, you take careful aim at your foe and strike with the legendary accuracy of the elves

Free action (Personal)

Effect: Reroll an attack roll. Use the second roll, even if it’s lower. (If you didn’t like an attack roll you got on the d20, you can reroll and use the new value).

Daily Attack

Use this skill wisely as you can only use it once before you have to rest to be able to use it again!

Avenging Flame

You slam your weapon into your foe, who bursts into flame. Divine fire avenges each attack your enemy dares to make.

Standard Action: Melee (Target 1 creature adjacent to you)

Attack: Strength (d20 + 3) vs. AC

Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier (3) damage, and ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends). (If you hit with this attack then the creature takes damage, and then the creature will take 5 damage on the start of its next turn. If the creature attacks during that turn, then it takes 5 damage on it’s next turn. However, if the creature does not attack during its turn, at the end of the turn it will roll a d20 (a saving throw), if the result is 11 or more the effect disappears. If the result is 10 or lower the creature will take an additional 5 damage at the start of it’s next turn. This continues until either a successful saving throw is done, or death).

Role playing Encounter

Below is some information about your skills that can influence the outcome of role play encounters. Also a small bit of information about how your character should behave towards the other characters.

Your character

You are a Lawful Good Cleric, so you believe in everything that is true and you wish to smite evil wherever possible. The deity you follow teaches you to protect the weak and to defend what is true. You are a nice person who treats others (who are good) with respect. You are rarely scared by a challenge. The rules set by society are correct and true and every being must follow these rules. Those who do not follow shall be punished. In combat, your main role is to ensure the other members of your party are as healthy by healing their wounds with Healing Word. If you’re confident that they are ok, you smash enemies whilst at the same time providing boons for your allies by using skills such as Priest’s shield and Lance of faith.


Skills determine how competent you are in an area. The more points you have in a skill area the better you are at it. Your character has these skills with the assigned values. If you wish to use these skills, just ask Edd at any time:

Religion (int) = 5

Due to being a cleric you have knowledge about gods, religious traditions, ceremonies and divine effects. You are able to roll a check to reveal information about the strengths and weaknesses of the undead.

Heal (wis) = 8

You know how to help someone recover from wounds, poisons or diseases. You can stabilizes some one who is dying (who is below 0 HP) by rolling a skill check with a DC of 15. Upon success the character stabilizes and stops dying. You can also help treat a disease by rolling a heal check vs. the DC of the disease (Edd will know this). This can be used on yourself or another ally.

Diplomacy (char) = 6

You can influence others with your tact, subtlety, and social grace. Make a Diplomacy check to change opinions, to inspire good will, to haggle with a patron, to demonstrate proper etiquette and decorum, or to negotiate a deal in good faith.

History (int) = 5

You know past events about the area, such as wars, leaders, legends, laws, traditions and memorial events.

Nature (wis) = 5

Due to your elven heritage you have an connection with nature, you can make your way through the wilderness safely, have knowledge about natural beasts and recognising natural hazards.

Perception (wis) = 5

Due to your elven heritage you have a bonus in this skill. You have keen eyes and ears to spot for clues, detect secret doors, find traps and listen for sounds beyond a door. Just declare to Edd when you want to use this skill to look for traps, secrets or listen at the door.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Spending XP, an alternative to leveling up in D&D.

There are some Role-playing games out there that have a different stance on how to level up. As I have lately been playing Final Fantasy 13 and Dungeon Lords I have been looking at a way to incorporate their levelling system into D&D.

How the levelling system works in those two games is you gain experience points (or crystal points in Final Fantasy 13). You can then spend these points into levelling up your attributes (such as strength or magic) and learning new skills and abilities (such as learning new spells). This is different to the normal levelling system in dungeons and dragons where you gain feats and abilities upon reaching a certain amount of points. You don't spend the experience points, it just represents how much your character has learnt across encounters.

However, this method feels unrealistic as we learn and apply abilities as we encounter them. We don't become better lock pickers by watching people over a few weeks and then trying it out our self and instantly becoming better at it. It's all about trial and error. We learn better by watching first then trying it out our self.

I prefer levelling up by spending experience points because you don't have to wait a long time for an exciting spell or waiting to upgrade your attributes. So, I thought, why not try and incorporate it into Dungeons and Dragons?

To be honest, I struggled. I do have the 4th edition books but I don't know a lot about 4th edition yet and how the levelling system works. So I blew away the dust on my 3.5 D&D books and reminded myself of the levelling system. I decided that the abilities you should be able to level up using this method would be skills, abilities and feats. I left out health points, base attack bonus and base saving throws because I felt it would complicate things even further.
I looked up how much experience a level 20 character would acquire over their development and it would be 190,000. Now assigning how much experience should go into each domain (ability, feats and skills). The most experience should be assigned to the ability area, less in feats and the area with the least amount of experience should be skills. Therefore:

190,000 experience all together
Abilities - 80,000
Feats 60,000
Skills - 50,000

For everyone rank increase in ability, feats and skills, you increase the amount of experience points you need to spend to increase it. This is to ensure that you don't get 5 ability points spent within the first 5 levels and therefore over powering. I wanted to make sure that every 4 levels you gain 1 ability point and 1 feat and spend all your skill points.

Regards to skills, this is a difficult area to figure out as different classes have different amounts of skill points to spend. Also, intelligence influences how many points you can spend as well in skills. Therefore, I think one way to figure it out is to assume firstly that one skill point will be spent per level. Once that is worked out, you should divide it by the skill points available. For example, a rogue has 8 skill points to spend per level, if they have +1 intelligence modifier then they have 9 skill points. Lets say we worked out it costs 200 experience points per rank to increase a skill up by one rank. For example, to increase it to the 5th rank you would need to spend 1,000 experience points. However, as the rogue has 9 points to spend per level, it would cost around 110 experience points. You can see how messy this is but I know something can be sorted out!

To be honest, math isn't my strong point so any mathematicians out there who is good at creating formulas then get in touch below and contribute! Any other comments are very welcome as well!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Caves of the Dead - Opening Adventure

This could be slotted into any campaign or adventure.

You've travelled for a few days now and feel tired and weary. The wind and rain batters on your back, a storm is coming. The rain is so heavy it's making it hard to see, however squinting in the distance you notice a large cave. Holding your arms up to defend your face you slowly make towards the cave entrance. The wind is blasting against you, trying to force you back, or warn you, but you are determined to get to the entrance of the cave.

Finally, shelter. The interior of the cave is decorated with green mold patches covering the dripping walls. It's a dark sort of rock and the cave floor moderately declines deeper. The rain has caused the floor to be wet, so it feels quite slippery.
Easy DC acrobatic check to see if they walk into the cave safely, if not then a moderate DC reflex check, upon fail a character slips down into the darkness and disappears from the rest of the party. If all party members fail this roll, they slip down the slope in darkness. They hit the bottom and take easy damage).

Descending to the bottom of the cave you enter complete darkness. A void surrounds you and a coldness envelopes you. You shiver and feel uneasy about this place. Pure silence greets you as the sounds of the bellowing storm fades to nothing from the outside. The only company is the sound of the party's breathing and the sound of a small drip coming somewhere nearby. Looking around with a light source the cave has suddenly got smaller and there are no other passage ways. It could be a good place to rest for the night.

(Players can rest here for the night, a passive perception check of a hard DC notices a small lever on the east side of the cave on the floor. Players can actively search the room for this with a hard DC. Upon failing them both, the party can rest or wait. If the party want to return upwards and out of the cave, they can do a moderate acrobatic check to get out of the cave).

If Sleeping
(Sleeping players need to make an easy DC passive perception check, however ignore this is there is one character on guard or meditating. Upon failure, the zombies grab the nearest player and gang up on him or her. See zombie grab in the monster manual)
(Character being grabbed) You feel a cold but strong grip on your arm, followed by many other grabs on various parts of your body. Your eyes snap open and through the sleepy haze you see a gang of zombies trying to rip apart your flesh.

If Waiting
The sounds of moans slowly but surely echo around the cave. The grinding sound of a rock can be heard, as if it's being slid across. Suddenly, the sounds of moaning and shuffling feet fill the cave with noise.

If Pulling on the lever
Pulling on the lever causes a nearby rock to suddenly jump to motion. It slides across revealing a new room to encounter. Peering into darkness you see dark humanoid figures slowly travelling towards you. It seems a group of zombies are hungry for some flesh!

(Regardless of how the players behave, it's a moderate EL).

With the last zombie slain the now open rock beckons for adventure...where does it lead?

From here onwards you're welcome to do what you want with it. Maybe it's an undead infestation? Or the lair of a Lich? Or maybe a necromancer's home who conducts experiments on corpses and tries to find ways to reanimate them.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

5 steps to writing a "first time DM" adventure

This article is more aimed at DMs who are new to D&D and may find writing an adventure pretty scary. It really isn't, this guide will help you write up a simple adventure to guide your friends through. Recommended for a first adventure for a first time DM with a party of 5 members. The steps are below:

1. Plan

A good plan means a good adventure. Firstly, you need to write down the main quest you want to send the characters on. Write down one line for your main quest. Such as defeating X person, or escorting Y person, or retrieving Z item. The Dungeon Master's guide provides a few good ideas.

Once you have your main quest, you're ready to expand out a bit now. You need to think about where the players are going to start, in a tavern? Woods? Wandering around a village? Don't panic too much about how the characters got together as you just want to give a story for now.

Next thing is to think about he setting around the main quest and to give it a location. For example, if your main quest is to defeat a powerful Warlock, is this Warlock in some caves? A castle? Deep in some woods? Inside a haunted crypt? If it's an escort quest, do you have to travel across the desert? Woods? Snowy mountains? Through a mountain?

Write a few sentences for all those areas. Yes it's shallow but we want to keep it simple. You technically have a beginning (where the players are starting), a middle (the context the main quest is in) and an end (the goal of the main quest)

Now you need to think about why there is a main quest going on. Write down quite a few sentences about this...does the magical item have healing powers and they need to cure the sick? Has the dragon in the nearby cave been terrorising the city? Does the merchant need to get his goods safely through the mountain? Write a good few sentences for this one, the more detail the better. But don't worry about too much detail as this is your first time and you want to keep it simple! need to write an adventure hook. This is quite simple as you have all the background you need now. An adventure hook is an event that happens that draws the player into the main quest. You could over hear a conversation of troubles in the pub, go to the mayor looking for work, or just talk to the towns people to find out about the local area.

Your plan is now done! Great, onto step two!

2. Encounters

So you now know what is going to happen in the quest, you now need to think about how it's going to break down into separate events. This is where the idea of encounters come in. Encounters are like scenes in a play or TV episode where important events are played out. Each encounter has an encounter level (or EL for short) assigned to it. EL is basically the level of the encounter, or how hard or easy an encounter would be to over come for a party.

For example, a level 1 encounter for a level 1 party would be a moderate difficulty encounter to overcome and a EL of 5 would be impossible to over come. If a level 5 party did the same level 1 encounter, they would find it easy and find a level 5 encounter standard.

Within each encounter make sure you have some lines about what you would say (The DM) to describe to the players what is happening. Describe briefly the town, what is in the area, population and describe the interior of a cave etc. You firstly need to set the scene.

Once the scene is set, you need something to happen, this would be in the case of a monster fight, travelling/exploring, or the players encountering another character (or NPC - Non-player class).

You would then need to scribble down how the encounter would end - this is usually when all the monsters are defeated, or the players have finished talking to the NPC or the players have finished exploring. Usually the player would declare they are finished, just say something like "Are you ready to move on?". The players could also say "I want to head to the castle now", which basically suggests you should move on.

If it's a combat encounter, you'll need to choose what creatures will appear. A good idea is to look in the monster manual as they already have templates for various EL. If you want level 1 monsters, look at kobolds or goblins as they are one of the weakest enemies.

You'll probably want about 5 encounters for a first time DM. First should be a role play encounter, this is where the players are hooked in, then you want 4 combat encounters. Regards to the combat encounters, you would want the first one to be equal to the party level (for a first time DM, it should be a level one encounter), then have the last encounter to be two level higher than the party (or a level 3 encounter for a level one first time party). The last encounter essentially would be a boss battle and the toughest of all encounters. The middle 2 combat encounters can be whatever difficulty you want. For a first level party, have one of the combat encounters EL 1, and the other one EL 2.

Finally you'll need to determine the experience earned from encounters. For the combat encounters, it's pretty easy, just add up all the experience that the creatures give and then divide it by the party members.

3. Maps

So you've done your outline and you've prepared the encounters and now you need to prepare the maps for the encounters to appear on. You can either buy tiles from amazon, on which to place your miniatures on top of. Or, if you like the cheaper version (like me!) you can buy graph paper and you can draw your map upon this. Within the dungeon master's guide there is an excellent method for randomising dungeons if you have a lack of imagination (like me, again!). For the first encounter (the role play one) you don't really need a map, unless you like drawing maps go ahead, it will act as a visual aid for the players. For the combat ones, you will need a map for the players to place their figurines on. Don't worry about placing traps as this can change the EL and you just need the experience of running an adventure first. However if you're feeling up to the challenge, read the traps and hazards section of the dungeon master's guide and give it a go. Make sure you have a few doors and chests to open which can be locked to be a barrier the party must over come together.

4. Treasure

Now to allocate treasure. Within the dungeon master's guide (again!) there are treasure parcels which need to be given out. You can do this how you want. Have a read through that section and start distributing treasure. If you want to hide some treasure under some rubble, for example, then do so, make it an easy or moderate search (vs DC 15 or DC 20 search check for a level 1 party) and give the member the treasure. Maybe place some treasure in some chests you've plopped down. Or you could put all the treasure at the end as a giant horde in a room after the boss has been defeated, something very exciting for players to uncover! Make sure you only use about 5 or 6 parcels of treasure, as there are only 5 encounters (assuming you have followed this guide). Make sure there is at least one magic item in there that is useful to one of the party members.

5. Play

Now all your hard work is done you are ready to play your adventure. You maybe nervous but that is natural, the players will be understanding of that. Just take your time and you'll be ok, after all this is a very simple adventure for the players! Take a look at my explanation of combat, it is 3.5 edition but there are similarities. The players will gain around 625XP each (around 1,000XP for a level 1 character to get to level 2). Once you feel happy that you played the adventure well, then start looking at the skills in the Player's guide and traps and hazards in the Dungeon Master's guide and incorporate them into your next adventure. Take it slowly, there's no rush to understand everything at once and you'll fine you'll come to enjoy D&D a lot more!

I hope this helps new players, please place your comments and criticisms below!

Anyone else want to add anything they think would be important for a first adventure?