Tag Archives: DnD 4e

How To Be: Cassandra and Rapunzel from Tangled (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

You know the story of Rapunzel? The kid’s story about a girl with long hair in a tower which you can tell as a bedtime story and it takes maybe ten minutes, fifteen if you’re doing a lot with the voices and details and want to make the witch’s end really grisly? Well, yeah, turns out that got a movie back in the day and then that movie got a TV series and that TV series kicks ass, and so for this Smooch Month, I decided to try and make an article about base-level optimising choices for a pair of characters, a battle couple. In this case, one of those Battle Couple members is Rapunzel, the hero of the story Rapunzel, and the other is, uh

Her name’s Cass.

a book cover meant to look like a 4th edition expansion book, showing art of Cassandra and Rapunzel from Tangled, the Series, with the text on it "Tangled synergy" and "Crossing the line twice." The art is by Nonadraws
Original art by Nonadraws

And hey, I’m going to talk about some spoilers for a kid’s cartoon you probably didn’t watch but I do like it and I think if you care about spoilers, well you should watch it without me being the way you find out about the third story arc of the TV series and what it means okay byeee.

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How To Be: Power (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

I suppose, in addition to any of the other standard comments you see from me in a How To Be post, I’m going to be mentioning some details from late in the story of Part 1 of Chainsaw Man. To that end, consider a spoiler warning in effect. You’re going to learn some stuff about how Power’s story goes, in general. No point by point, and I will keep the details broad, and if you’re interested in Chainsaw Man I do recommend you check it out. You know, if you don’t mind an action horror manga where discussing the character requires a mandatory Spoiler Warning I suppose.

A How To Be cover title graphic. It shows a 4th edition book cover with Power on it. The top title is 'All That Power', the bottom title is 'wait there needs to be wo' spilling off the side of the book. Power is mispositioned in the page so the text covers her eyes. In the background is the Chainsaw Man logo.
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Iron Hearts And Minds

When I talk about Cobrin’Seil and the people who live there, I do it in the context of I guess a kind of worldbuilder who wants to present heritages as whole sapient people who exist in a world and relate to that world materially. ‘A Wizard did it’ does not satisfy me. I do not like entirely magically sustained cultures, and I do not like the idea of cultures that have a singular personalised focus. I treat the heritages as if they have cultural stereotypes, which are based on interactions and communities, but I try to approach them as if they are creatures that exist in a world and interact with that world.

an image of a wizard and a warforged standing side by side. Art from the cover of Exploring Eberron.

This approach is great when I’m starting out and filling out the broad spaces. What are humans? What are the things related to the humans? But the thing is, in D&D, character heritages aren’t just a worldbuilding entity, they’re also player pieces, mechanical objects that players want to interact with. They can range from important for entirely mechanical reasons (hi there, Dragonborn and Dwarf), or because of cultural prominence.

In this category fall today’s three examples: The Minotaur, the Warf*rged and the Giths. And I want to give a bit of a talk about what they are in Cobrin’Seil, but also, why players see them, and what that means for the world.

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How To Be: Sothe Pathofradiance (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Who are we looking at this month? Well, since this series was started off by Hilda from Three Houses, it seems positively rude on my part to not reach once more to the Fire Emblem well, with its wonderfully varied names and … embarrassingly limited mechanical scope.

Let’s look at a character from a Gamecube game about fighting a dragon, or a god, or the black knight, or something.

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4e: The Unmindful Monk

Normally when I write about 4e, I do so trying to talk about the game in a way that doesn’t involve or introduce any particular changes to the game. It’s not useful for me to advocate for a game in terms of ‘here’s how cool this game is, if you accept my houserules.’ Typically speaking, I try to talk about what’s in the rulebook, even if I’m gleeful about pointing out the ways that we didn’t play 3e by the rules and probably nobody else did.

But it’s a bit of a challenge to advocate for something when you’re actually advocating for a connected idea in your head. Like, at that point I might as well point out that part of why I like 4e D&D so much is I get to play it with my cool friends who are great, and at that point: Who am I fooling, of course that game kicks ass. If I present new content for 4e, it’s discretely new; it’s cultures from my own world, new class feats or whatnot, but it’s not asking you to change anything in the game that exists. That makes this something new, and something I am doing with so much more thought than it really needs.

Anyway, hey, what if the Monk was Martial, not Psionic?

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4e: The Vampire Sucks

Across all my writing about 4e D&D I’ve spent a lot of time espousing cool things that you can do as a player without really needing any input from a DM. The game design is robust and reliable enough that you can make things like a werewolf or a ghost-haunted pile of crystals and the game system handles it so the DM doesn’t have to make something specific for you so it worked.

I have mentioned the Vampire from time to time, but always with a drawn-in breath of ‘if you want?’ or something like that. A warning, a gentle one, but a warning nonetheless. The vampire, you see, for all that it is part of this game system I like and does something I like, doesn’t do it very well, and for that, it needs to be presented to players with a warning that hey: This could go wrong, right? You need to be prepared to be okay with that.

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How To Be: Harrowhark Nonagesimus (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

I’ve had this one in the drawer since like April, I didn’t realise just how much I was going to enjoy digging into it two books later.

Oh and hey, sorta-but-not-really spoiler warning? I don’t mean to spoil the books to examine the character, but there is some inextricable hairs that come off with this particular bandaid. Particularly, if you know nothing about the books, there’s a vision of ‘proper’ fandom that says I shouldn’t do anything that gives you any impression of anything in the story, that I should somehow make a hermetically sealable piece of media because someone hypothetically should know nothing about the book when they first engage with it. This is silly. Telling you that, for example, in Harrow The Ninth we get to see that Harrow is a really good necromancer, that shouldn’t be considered as a violence against engagement with the books.

I liked the books, by the way, I think you should check ’em out.

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4e: Strong Defenders

There’s a hole in the tanks.

That is, the defender characters you can play in 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. The classes in 4e have roles that come with standard packages so that the DM can reliably expect any given party to be able to handle threats in general. I’ve talked about how great roles are in the past, but also in that same article I was talking about the way roles and methods are intertwined, and how you defender shouldn’t be determined by that you defender.

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The Sporekin

The term ‘Sporekin’ refers to any of the number of humanoids who can symbiotically link with and connect to the forest known as the River of Madness from the nation of Mosetto. Officially, the efforts to contain this forest are absolutely successful and there’s no growth from the forest outside of the ravine, and there are no people living in there – only dangerous plant life and symbiotic living-seeming things from inside the forest.

There’s nothing in the River to worry about and the whole affair is contained.

What do you mean you’ve seen people coming out of it? You must be mistaken. The spores cause madness, after all. Do you need to sit down? We can take you in for medical examination. Anything in the name of containing the River, you know. No? Then you best stop with these rumours.

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Skyjacks and Sporekin

It’s a growing concern when I write about the world of Cobrin’Seil that I’m creating a vast and sprawling set of locational information that is not interesting for a player to engage with and not detailed enough for a world nerd to truly love. Part of it is really that I’m filling out a map, and each place I fill out, I want to be both a real enough place with an economy and a vision of everyday life, and yet I also want each country described to be its own place with a reason for it to be its own place. When there are multiple countries that are like one another in a reasonably close proximity, Europe style, I tend to think of them as ‘provinces’ of a larger body politic.

What’s more, I feel like I know what I like to see in a Nation writeup but I also know the things I need in a Nation writeup. A Nation writeup is a hook, a place to belong, and I want you to give me ideas like how my life as a person in that space might be a thing I can feel and inhabit. A Nation writeup is also a thing a DM needs to be able to check for useful data with signifiers quickly, because it’s a place to come from but also a place to go to. Basically, it is a dessert to consume but there are vegetables to have first.

Presented in a book, I know that I’d be presenting a big splash graphic, with sidebars, and mechanical references in nice formatted popouts. Not so here, where the only visual material I can generate is either icons, stock art, or morphed/warped pictures of similar locations from the inspirations. The rest, all I can do, is with words, words, words.

Come with me to learn of Motesso, the Skyjacks, the Sporekin, the Citadel Ironsky, and the River of Madness.

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How To Be: Kaede Last Blade (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Hey, I left this introduction blank and nobody noticed. Anyway time to talk about a character I’ve already spent thousands of words describing in terms of the negative space created by fighting games that enable a lot of fun interpretation and also selling us the vast and valuable currency that is nothing.

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How To Be: Mystique (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Let’s look at the first* transgender* X-Men*!

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Werekin in Cobrin’Seil

Cobrin’Seil, being a magical setting of my own devising, has its own range of shape-shifting creatures known for various titles of ‘were-something.’ Werebears, weregoats, wereboars, all that kind of thing, grouped together under the community title of ‘werekin.’

The word ‘werekin’ comes from the Erd language, as do the phenomena of the werekin themselves. The actual condition is comparable to a kind of magical medical symbiosis; a bit like a long-term medical condition but not seen, generally, as a kind of illness.

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4e: The Were-With-All

Players love options. Players love the ability to differentiate their character. One of the problems that D&D character building has is that, certainly in the versions that are centralised like 3e, any given member of a class has a certain limited number of options that are worth taking. A wizard wouldn’t take Weapon Focus (Longsword), for example, even if the longsword is the best weapon of its type. This meant that there were a lot of options that were made to create or convey a mood about a character that weren’t worth spending one of your limited feat choices on.

In 4e, they added another dimension to each character, with the idea of character themes. Character themes were optional, and gave a character in the level range of 1-10 something class-independent that nonetheless let you expand the abilities of your character in a way that had a sort of, well, for lack of a better word, a vibe. By making these packages contained, it meant that the game mechanics for them could be balanced against one another —

Which unfortunately, they weren’t.

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How To be: Altair Ibn La-Ahad (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Just looking at that name I wonder about if I’ve done a decent job with capitalising that name. Oh, it gets all-capsed by the formatting, but I had to type it in and wanted to get it right, and I don’t know if the ibn should be capitalised or – you know what, never mind, I’m showing a lot more respect to Ubisoft’s Slice Of Brand than I should.

Anyway, hi, remember Assassin’s Creed, that interesting game with a lot of potential? The thing that’s distinct from The Assassins Creed Franchise, a bloated multi-billion dollar proof case for the idea that videogames, maybe, aren’t art?

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4e: When You Crit

I have never found feats or abilities that amplify the effect of critical hits to be exciting in 4th edition. There are plenty of them — almost every book features an effect that looks really cool and special, but it only fires off when you critically hit an opponent. You can have powerful effects on crits, mind you! Famously, D&D offers in its history, the Vorpal Sword, a weapon that decapitates on a crit – fight over, we are done. And the vorpal weapon is part of a powerful lineage of reasons to want to crit.

A while ago, a friend described for me the idea of a ‘raisins sentence’ where the excitement in the sentence increases every step, until suddenly dropping off a cliff, demonstrated with the phrase:

Would you like some chocolate covered raisins

The idea is that every part of this sentence is great but the raisins makes the whole thing disappointing. A lot of the crit-based feats, powers, and item rules are like that. Sure, crits are great! They can be very powerful, and making crits even better is even better still. But when a feat describes a strategy or a style of play that’s exciting that kicks in or triggers when you crit, all the air goes out of my enthusiasm.

Why, though?

Ehhh, a couple of reasons.

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How To Be: Amaya from Dragon Prince (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

She’s power, she’s grace, she’ll punch you in the face, she’s a queen, she’s a knight, she’s here to have a fight, she’s Amaya from The Dragon Prince!

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How To Be: Amity Blight (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Hey, you know The Owl House? That’s a recent animated television program that has all sorts of conversations around it about the way queer representation gets handled and creators get treated and yes, did you know, did you know that Disney are a bad company? It’s the first I heard of it too! Anyway, The Owl House kicks ass so I want to do a How To Be about a character from it and…

And how hard could this be if … oh jeeze, I see the word count.

Okay!

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4e: Alternate Rewards

If you’re one of the many people who these days primarily interact with 4th edition D&D not through a set of physical books or even legally-acquired and properly indexed PDFs but rather through some kind of searchable javascript database, then you may have had some reason to stumble into browsing the items category. This category, typically, is arranged by alphabetical order, with the subcategories also in alphabetical order, meaning that while you may have popped it open expecting to browse Ankheg Armour and Armbands of Apparel, you instead get smacked first and foremost in the face with the category of Alternate Reward, shriven of any and all context describing what they are or how they work. You may even have read some of them and found yourself reacting to something like ‘oh this is cool, I would want that,’ then ‘how much is it, can I afford it in my character’s budget?’ and then a sudden sharp shock.

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… The Paladin is Unleashed

Yesterday we broached the topic of what it means to be a Warlock, and yes, I am spending thousands of words arguing with a tweet, don’t at me, dad. But I can’t just leave it at what the Warlock is without talking about the very important characteristics of what the Paladin isn’t.

Art by Stu Harrington

Because there’s a big fat misconception about what Paladins are, implied by how people relate to flavour text.

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The Warlock is Contracted…

There’s this phrase you’ll hear: “The only difference between paladins and warlocks is that one’s got an employer and the other’s got a sugar daddy.” This is a funny tweet that went around, and like many funny tweets, it’s useful for interrogating an idea, presenting a useful handle and it starts an argument.

What’s the difference between Warlocks and Paladins, it asks? According to this, almost nothing. Except for the way one of them is physically powerful and heavily armoured, and the other smell like cloves, but you know, we’re being needlessly reductive here, right?

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How To Be: Samus Aran (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Really gotta specify that ‘in 4e D&D’ on this one.

When we talk about How To Be, the point has always been to take characters that are interesting in some particular way then see how we can carry that vibe into the creative space of 4th Edition D&D. What we’ve seen, when we try and make things like a real-world-alike gangster or a robot dinosaur, is that there are some concepts that seem very easy to translate into the play space that really aren’t. Zelgadis is a D&D character and he was very challenging to translate to the game just because he’d already been filtered through another set of different game rules. Minfilia showed us that when a character leaves large parts of their method and ideology as blank slates, there’s a challenge creating something in the space that fulfills that character.

Extremely defined and extremely vague characters, in both directions, are hard.

Anyway, let’s look at Samus Aran.

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The Beastfolk, As People, Part 2

This is part three, effectively, of a long form examination of the political coalition of the Beastfolk of Cobrin’Seil – which is basically ‘how furry can I be in this setting, conveniently?’ The answer, broadly, is ‘pretty furry,’ with things like werewolves and werebears available, but also, this is where you get rats, monkeys, dinosaurs (I made mistakes googling ‘anthro raptors’ for this article) and of course, the vitally important presence of bnuy.

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The Beastfolk, As People, Part 1

I talked about the origin of the term beastfolk in Cobrin’Seil, and how it represented a political coalition of  different people whose shared commonality was the origin for the term beast. What I didn’t really talk about there, though, were the actual cultures that made up that grouping, and what kind of options you have presented to you as a player, nor really what those cultures meant in their place in the world. Plus, in the overview of the Beastfolk, I kind of gave a list and that got me thinking about the cultures as a whole.

And well, I like talking about the cultures in the world of Cobrin’Seil. I like talking about their peculiarities, and about ways to encourage players to see their place in the world, and about the spaces they create by what they imply.

So then:

The Beastfolk of Cobrin’Seil, more or less, as worldbuilding entities, with an important detail about how to consider them as a player.

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4e: Dangling Claws

The weapon system in 4e D&D is full of specific keyworded mechanical distinctions for each grouping of weapons in a way that’s designed to add depth to the play experience of any given type of weapon. While in earlier systems, axes and swords and staffs all could be reduced to a mathematical formula representing their damage output over time and therefore, inevitably, the greatsword won, 4e weapons have two different ways they can feel different. The first is just how the weapons work, period, where anyone who picks up a weapon of that type will notice this effect or feats that reference weapons by their category to indicate that the training for that particular weapon enables a different way for that weapon to work. In the first group you have weapon effects like Brutal or Heavy Thrown, and in the second, things like Hammer Rhythm or Axe Expertise. The result is that the weapon system is genuinely interesting to engage with and even though there is a clear hierarchy, the boundaries between the tiers of that hierarchy are not so steep, not so absolute.

There is nonetheless, an area where the weapon system does stagger, though, and that’s natural weapons. The base game features almost nothing with a natural weapon, and the one option you have for it in the starter set is the Gnoll, with a heavily errata’d mess of a feat to get your claws dirty. What’s more, the feat is a bit wonky and weird because, first, you’re spending a whole feat to get the weapon, but you’re also getting a weapon that is only about as good as a short-sword and it interferes with abilities that require you to not be wielding a weapon in your off-hand.

I think that’s dumb; I can treat my fist like a weapon at will, but the game doesn’t then say that I must always have a weapon in my off-hand even when that hand is empty. This indicates to me a simple hole in the way 4e handles natural weapons, and how it makes them available.

So I fixed them.

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How To Be: Link (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

With Frame Fatales running, I wanted to talk about a character who has a strong presence in speedrunning, and a character that owns a special place in the heart of the community, and a character who helps people feel connected to something.

I figured what better to do, than look at a Link.

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4e: Group Flirts

Sure, let’s call it that, why not. That’s not going to be completely incomprehensible.

The skill challenge represents one of the many pieces of 4th Edition D&D technology that was underappreciated in its time and misunderstood in hindsight. The Skill Challenge was a tool that let the DM run a non-combat encounter with the same kind of group engagement that the game’s combat system normally demanded; it has a failure state represented by eventual failures, but it also serves to let players platform their own choices and express how they do things. Skill Challenges in the simplest form are ‘the group needs to succeed on X possible checks before they fail N possible checks.’ The system isn’t necessarily all that groundbreaking, but the Dungeon Master’s Guide bothered to explicate a bunch of useful, good ideas about their execution.

There are ideas you might realise are fiction first and fail forward in the 4th edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, but they’re not called that, and people don’t seem to remember what these books were like. What skill challenges let you do was explicitly call for a moment when many people are trying things at the same time, and get to negotiate the fiction of what that means, what kinds of things people are doing, and how their skillsets are expressed. It’s a great system, and I wish more people were familiar with skill challenges, especially in how they do something D&D does well (induce and encourage all players to engage with simple rules tools) and patches something it doesn’t tend to do well (encourage spaces of free creative expression).

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