Saturday, March 17, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Another Optional Initiative System

This is idea for an alternative initiative for 5th Edition and grew out of Mike Mearls' Greyhawk Initiative. For a previous attempt, see here.

Initiative goes from Highest to lowest roll and a d20 is replaced with the following system:

You roll initiative every round.

If you are casting a spell this round, roll a d6 + Dex Mod.

If you are making a weapon attack this round, roll 1d10 + Dex Mod.

If you have levels in the Fighter class roll 1d12 + Dex or Str Mod.

If you have levels in Rogue you add your Int Mod and your Dex Mod to the roll.

If you are making a ranged attack this round you have Advantage on Initiative, so you roll 2 of the appropriate dice and take the highest.

If you are moving this round you have Disadvantage on Initiative, so you roll 2 of the appropriate dice and take the lowest.

For simplicity, the DM can roll d8+ Number of enemies.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Counter Culture: Looking at the Pathfinder 2E Announcement

I've been working at my store for 19 years. I've been through the launches of DnD 3, 3.5, 4, 4 Essentials, 5 and Pathfinder.

This announcement for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, as a retailer, has been a bit odd for me.

First, there isn't any buzz in my store about it. There is amongst my group, as I ponder if I will try it (I pondered trying Starfinder but it was more system than I want right now).  Heck, there was more buzz about Starfinder, in fact. Now, that is completely shocking because Paizo has always cultivated a better direct to consumer program than any other RPG publisher. But that also meant, even at it's height of sales when Wizards of the Coast abandoned 4E and we were waiting for Next, it's sales were not anything significant for us, as DnD always had been. But it's also not as shocking because WotC wisely decided not to do a 5.5 and those unsure of it playing other games are now more willing to dive in. And new players are diving in every day, right now. Meanwhile, I'm lucky to turn (sell) a Pathfinder Pocket Core book every two months.

To complicate things, it seems that Erik Mona is bristling with comparisons to 5E, while he and his teams are making statements that remind me of 4E. If I were Erik, I'd look at the fact that their success is built upon WotC walking away from a customer base AND the fact that almost four years into it's life cycle the Player's Handbook is STILL #4 on Amazon. I would want to catch that lightning. That doesn't mean I would make 5.5, but I wouldn't necessarily distance myself either.

In fact, if I were in charge of Pathfinder, now would be the time I would take an older Adventure Path and convert it to 5E. Yes, WotC screwed them on the OGL portion of 4E and yes they were smart enough to capitalize on those who didn't want to leave 3.5 behind, but when Green Ronin is selling their Critical Role books like they are, why wouldn't you try a campaign out?

This is merely my gut feeling, but I think Paizo has as good a chance of having their 2nd Edition be received the way DnD 4E as they do of having a hit. Understand, at the retail level, Starfinder did great for everyone on it's first printing. But there is been very little momentum on additional supplements or it's second printing for my stores.

And please understand, I don't wish Paizo ill, I learned about eight years ago they wouldn't drive RPG sales for me the way WotC and DnD do. You see when DnD is successful, the whole industry is successful. Other systems and DnD "competitors" like Pathfinder or 13th Age NEED DnD to be huge, so that the iconoclasts and grognards out there have something to rebel against it. That's why the OSR was good for DnD.

I'm watching all of this and waiting to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Cloudwrought

Cloudwrought is an elemental node aligned to air and earth and currently held by the Stonehand Clan of Gargoyles, led by a priest named Granite.

It was formed over 1000 years ago and is made up of petrified lightning. It's presence is believed to contribute to the constant presence of thunderstorms and why some of the locals out of nearby Stormhaven refer to it as "tornado alley" along the High Rode that runs through it.

Because of the node's potency, any spell cast within 2 miles of it requires a roll on the following table:

Roll a D10
1 The spell fails, but the spells slot is not lost.
2 - 4 The spell is cast normally.
5 If the spell does damage it is changed to lightning damage.
6 If the spell does damage it is changed to bludgeoning damage.
7 The caster gains a +1 bonus to AC for 1 minute.
8 The target(s) of the spell gain a +2 to their Saving Throw, if the spell has one.
9 The spell is cast normally, but the caster takes 1d8 thunder damage.
10 The spell is cast normally and the caster gains 10 temporary hit points.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Paizo Just Announced Pathfinder 2nd Edition

I can't say I'm shocked. I'm sure they tested some major ideas with Starfinder, and here it is, Pathfinder 2E is a thing.

I was never a big Pathfinder 1E fan, because I wasn't a big DnD 3.X fan. I preferred the OSR to DnD 3 or 4 and then 5E was pretty much what I would have designed in an edition.

From the announcement, it seems to take quite a bit from DnD 5E, not that that is a bad thing.

3 Modes of Play.


Proficiency Bonus.

No mention of Bounded Accuracy.

I dug the idea of using different Skills for initiative, if nothing I else I might swipe it.

I do hope Monster Design is truly easier, because designing monsters in Pathfinder, was in my opinion, a mess.

The 3 action thing is interesting, I wonder if it will replace iterative attacks for Fighters and such?

My concern is that Pathfinder, like the foundation it was built upon will continue with multiple, fiddly modifiers. I've gotten pretty spoiled by Advantage/Disadvantage. And while I've looked through Starfinder, it didn't move that far from it's inspiration, in my opinion. And I can tell you at the store, it sold great right after Gen Con, but the second print run has not done anything since coming in. But that is just my two stores.

And then there is the Third Party Support, will this be a boon or a bane?

I worry that by moving away from their stated mission of bringing DnD 3.X back to the audience felt jilted by 4E that they are going to lose more players than transfer over or give it a try. DnD 5E is a juggernaut and this could be a bad move.

I also wonder if the Powers That Be at Paizo would look at converting an older Adventure Path to 5E and testing the waters?

I will download the playtest and probably give it a spin and I'll certainly stay informed. I'm not saying Pathfinder 2E couldn't beat out DnD 5E for me, but it's got a long mountain to climb.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

My Dad

It's been a long and busy few weeks.

On February 10, I moved my Mom and Dad into our house so Dad could enter Home Hospice.

On February 19th, at approximately 7pm, my Dad passed away.

I will cherish those nine days. He had told my Mom, two nights before he passed that he was ready to die. The pain was just too great.

I'm extremely blessed that I got 45 years with both of my parents and can't imagine how much harder this would have been if I were younger.

My Dad's name was Gary.  When I was younger, I would have told you we had nothing in common because I was blind to so many of the traits he gave me and the foundation he toiled to lay for me.

Now, I know that I get my love of history, politics, and cinema from him. And he loved cowboys as much I love DnD. 

More importantly, whatever success I have as a man, a husband, and as a father, I owe to the example he set in the 47 years he was married to my Mom.

I know things have been slow on here and I don't know exactly what my output will be, but Cross Planes won't end. Right now, there are still things to work out for my Mom and things for me to work through.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Counter Culture: Welcome to D&D

Something really cool happened this week at my store. Everyday, I had at least one person come in and tell me they were new to DnD and needed dice, books, miniatures, etc.

They would tell me how they had just played or were about to play in their first game and they were super excited.

I really can't contain my own excitement by this trend. And it's not merely because they are spending money with me, it's great to hear their excitement and to see their interest in my favorite hobby.

I don't know if anyone from Wizards of the Coast will read this, but good job, guys. You are getting it really right this time.

And I thank you as a gamer and a merchant.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Aarakocra Windstalker

I've been taking a break from running our Thursday game, but our excellent DM couldn't make it. I didn't want to continue our Oakhurst game without him, so I ran the PCs from his game through a small adventure. The group came upon aarakocra and gargoyles battling and wrongly assumed the gargoyles were the bad guys. They eventually benefited from the kindness of a gargoyle, but fell to an aarkocra ambush.

The region around Stormhaven has become embroiled in open hostilities between Bluefeather's aarakocra tribe who worship Wendigo and Granite's gargoyle clan who worship Asintmah. They battle over the elemental node known as Cloudwrought, a powerful refuge of elemental power formed out of petrified lightning. Granite's clan currently holds Cloudwrought and seeks to keep it from Bluefeather's tribe. Wendigo, in the guise of the Windwalker, has promised the aaracokra chieftain the power to slaughter the gargoyles in his domain once Cloudwrought is secured. Granite, warned by the earth goddess, Asintmah, seeks to keep the node from falling into the hands of such a chaotic and destructive being.

The fate of Stormhaven, and all those traveling the trade routes to it, could be decided by war being waged by these winged rivals.

Aarakocra Windstalker
Medium humanoid, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 
Hit Points 18 (4d8) 
Speed 20 ft.; fly 50 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
12 (+1)        16 (+3)        11 (+0)        10 (+0)      14 (+2)      10 (+0)

Skills Perception +6
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Aarakocra, Auran
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Dive Attack. If the aarakocra is flying and dives at least 30 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a melee weapon attack, the attack deals an extra 4 (1d8) damage to the target.


Talon. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) poison damage.

Boomerang. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.

If you like this post and others like it and have an extra $1 a month, please consider becoming a Patron of Cross Planes at Patreon.

D&D 5th Edition: Another Optional Initiative System

This is idea for an alternative initiative for 5th Edition and grew out of Mike Mearls' Greyhawk Initiative . For a previous attempt...