Monthly Archives: August 2012

Dungeons and Dragons Next – Playtest packet 2: Character Generation

The second packet of playtest materials for the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons, currently called ‘Dungeons and Dragons Next’, was released a few days ago. The first packet contained some pregens, basic rules and a brief adventure.  This packet has rules for character generation (for at 4 races and 4 classes anyway) as well as a bestiary.

I can’t claim to be a major D+D player but like a lot of people it was the red box set that got me into RPGing



So, to have a whirl at character generation.

Step 1 is to generate ability scores.  From the playtest rules, can either allocate an array or roll 4d6, pick the highest 3, and do this 6 times.

I rolled:

10, 14, 9, 15, 12, 12.

Step 2 is chose a race.  There are elves, halflings, humans and dwarves to chose between, with subraces.  I am going to chose a High Elf.  This gives my PC low light vision, elven weapon training, keen senses, trance, free spirit, elven and common languages, +1 INT, and one minor Wizard spell.

Step 3 is chose a class and a background and speciality (these later two are optional).  The classes available at present are fighter, cleric, rogue and wizard.  As members of the club will be unsurprised to learn, I’ll pick wizard.

This gives me +1 to either INT or CON, 4 HP + CON bonus, +3 magical attack, +2 weapon attack, no armour proficiencies, and dagger, staff, light crossbow and slings weapon proficiencies.  Class features are arcane knowledge, spellbook, cantrips, and arcane magic.

Skills in this edition work a bit differently to in the past – if trained in a skill, gives a +3 to any attribute check made relevant to that skill, with further increase possible with levels. Arcane knowledge allows me to pick 1 of 4 lores to be trained in, I’ll pick Magical Lore.  Spellbook gives me five 1st level spells written in it, and arcane magic means the PC can cast 3 prepared spells of these/day. Cantrips gives me 3 minor spells that can be cast at will and without preparation.  With the bonus from being a High Elf, this is 4 in total.  I’ll pick the spells later.

Background is a v nice feature. There are a selection of ‘packages’ that tell you what your character did in the past and where he/she came from professionally.  Each package gives you three trained skills and a trait.  ‘Sage’ is one that would work well for a wizard, granting more lore skills and improving researching abilities, but I’m seeing my High Elf as something of a decadent, charming wizard so will pick ‘Noble’.  This grants Diplomacy, Heraldic Lore, and Societal Lore as trained and the trait of ‘retainers’.

Speciality describes the way the PC operates, in combat or investigation, and specific training and knowledge.  ‘Necromancer’ is appealing, as is ‘Healer’ but think will pick ‘Magic User’.  This grants the level 1 feat ‘arcane dabbler’ which gives another 2 minor spells (6 total to pick – 3 from class, 1 from high elf, 2 from speciality feat).

Step 4 is to assign attributes.  The attributes are the same D+D attributes we’ve known and loved for a long time, STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, CHA.  I see my High Elf wizard as clever and charming, but not strong or wise.  This allows me to spread the scores I rolled thus:

STR 9 CON 12 DEX 12 INT 15 WIS 10 CHA 14

He gets a +1 INT for being a High Elf and another +1 to either INT or CON for being a Wizard.  I’ll add +2 to INT giving, with attribute modifiers:

STR 9 (-1) CON 12 (+1) DEX 12 (+1) INT 17 (+3) WIS 10 (0) CHA 14 (+2)

Step 5 is figure out combat numbers.

Hit points will be 4+1=5, AC is likely to be 11 given that won’t be wearing armour or using a shield, Initiative +1, Melee attack will be +1, Ranged attack +3 and magical attack +6.

Step 6 is finishing touches.  I’m going to pick an alignment of Chaotic Good, to reflect his good natured but irresponsible attitude, Aelar Meliamne as a name from the suggestions in the playtest material, and rather than buy equipment, take the equipment recommended for wizards including robes, staff, spellbook, adventurer’s kit and healer’s kit.

For his 6 minor spells, I’ll pick detect magic, mage hand, magic missile, ray of frost, ghost sound and light.  For the 5 spells in the spell book, burning hands, shield, charm person, sleep and thunder wave.  Of these, thunder wave, shield and charm person will be prepared.

So, there we are.  My first attempt at character creation for DnDNext.  Must say I rather like it – a blast back to earlier edition (certainly pre-3rd ed) but with nice features such as the backgrounds to give you some history to the PC.

Aelar is now ready – a whimsical, irresponsible, High Elf, troubled by ennui, who has both magical powers and some interpersonal skills – as well as handy retainers to carry all his treasure!


If interested to try it yourself, here is a link to sign up for the playtest

The One Ring

Over the summer we’ve been playing Cubicle 7’s fantastic RPG, The One Ring.

Here’s one of the their videos explaining the genesis of the game:

Cubicle 7: The One Ring – The Beginnings

We have completed 6 sessions to date and have been playing through the published adventures, with some slight tweaks.

The One Ring begins 5 years after the Battle of the Five Armies, 2946 in the Third Age and hence just after the end of the Hobbit.  It is a time of relative peace and cooperation for the free peoples, before the Shadow returns and the Nazgul come to Mirkwood.

Many of us had played MERP back in the day and knew the Tolkien novels and the setting well so despite a lot of enthusiasm for the new game, there was also some concern as to how it would compare to prior games.

Think fair to say we’ve enjoyed it tremendously.  Does very well in capturing the weariness of travelling, the effect of Shadow on sapping morale, and the almost Anglo-Saxon feel of the society.

We’ve played the adventure from the core set, ‘The Marsh Bell’, the opening adventure from the adventure book, Tales from the Wilderland (TfW) ‘Don’t Leave the Path’, the Gencon 2011 launch adventure ‘Words from the Wise’, and the second adventure from TfW, ‘Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbits’.  TfW was written by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and is brilliant.  For those of you who don’t know his work, I really recommend his writing for this and other games – the adventures are uniformly excellent, challenging, fun, and don’t require too much prep. The final 4 of the 7 make a mini-campaign revealing a threat to the Wilderland. We are breaking this week as people are away on holiday but 23rd August will find us starting ‘Kinstrife and Dark Tidings’.

and here is a clip of Gareth talking about the adventures:


Cubicle 7: The One Ring – Tales from Wilderland


The PC’s for our Fellowship include:

Tomas Arden, Barding Scholar
Bodvar, Beorning Warden
Calidon, Elf Warden
Salithor, Elf Slayer
Eboric ‘The Bright One’, Woodman Wanderer
Borin, Dwarf Slayer
Frain, Dwarf Treasure Hunter

These were all created using this excellent Character generator – best to use in browsers other than Internet Explorer.

Highlights for me as GM came from some excellent roleplaying by the players at the end of ‘Don’t Leave the Path’ when the players get entranced by a creature of shadow and fall to their desires, and at the end of the ‘Words of the Wise’, due to spectacular bad rolling by the players of 12 Eye of Sauron runes, when defending Woodman Hall against some Orcs, we had two players down, the archers having to engage in melee and a TPK looking a distinct possibility. But as we know, where the light is darkest, there the saving power grows.

The boxed set itself comes with two beautifully illustrated books, one for players and the other for the Loremaster, two maps, and customised dice (the d12 has both a Gandalf rune and the Eye of Sauron on and have mechanical effects).

Can see all the goodies here:

The One Ring: unboxing

Next releases for the game include a product that combines a Loremaster Screen + sourcebook for Laketown, with subsequent releases detailing Rivendell, and a campaign called ‘The Darkening of Mirkwood’.

Hoping we can keep going with this for some time…

ECW on the horizon

There was much salavating from certain of us with the release of Pike and Shotte, but that was tempered by the realisation that the armies that in my head will be marching to the cause of King and country are in fact a pile of unpainted plastic and lead.

The challenge is on though, myself and Mr Abbott, to be ready for 1st October for our first game, time to get serious…