Sunday 15 September 2013

Aegis of Ages Artifact

Gom Vardae, the Aegis of Ages.
I've a lot of love for the 4th edition artifact rules. They're basically a streamlined version of 3rd edition's Weapons of Legacy, with a nod to the old Ego rules for intelligent items. There are two things about the new system I really like. Firstly, an artifact's magic is built around its "Concordance": meaning more powers unlock the more you appeal to its goals, and vice versa. Secondly, they're not built to last - they're supposed to hang around for a level or two and then move on to a new owner. While this means they don't permanently unbalance your game, it also gives them a more credible role in your story. (Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium features artifacts that abandon both of these rules, and I think the system as a whole suffers for it).

In my own HPE campaign I've started featuring two artifacts per adventure. So far we've had the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd, the Orb of Light (which we modified to fit into the pommel of the paladin's sword), the Head of Vyrellis, the Hand of Vecna, and two artifacts of my own devising: the Deck of Illusions and the Rhonic Saddle. Now we're cycling back to the beginning, which means a new artifact for Bravus Boulderborn - Stacey's dwarven warrior.

Stacey fell in love with Gom Vardae as soon as the party pried it from its previous owner's fingers, and she's carried it for well over a year in the hope it will become her next artifact. With its big carved face and telepathic interjections, it's her perfect fit. She's one of those player types who just loves NPCs, and goes out of her way to befriend them (one of her old 3E characters even adopted a whole team of sidekick characters, including a robot, a dog, a wind mephit, and a jungle boy who was essentially Mowgli). The Concordance system was basically built for her.

In our last session Gom finally awoke for real, and allied itself to her cause. This meant finalising its artifact rules, which I share here for your own use. The Aegis of Ages worked out pretty well in combat, but we've yet to trial its later powers. So - for my own players only - keep out! 

Sunday 8 September 2013

Walking With Drakes

A Goliath Drake (Argentinosaurus)

Oddly enough, I happen to know quite a lot about dinosaurs.

Roughly a year ago, the company I work for was approached to pitch a dinosaur-based game. I didn't know much about dinosaurs beyond what I'd learned in school; in fact, I was a little worried by how sparse my knowledge actually was. Still, we managed to get the contract, and for the past twelve months or so I've been cramming my head full of facts while trying to turn our game into a reality.

It's actually turned out to be remarkably interesting. Did you know, for example, that palaeontologists have learned more about dinosaurs in the past decade than the entire century preceding it? We've all heard about the discovery of feathered dinosaurs, but did you know that a feathered cousin of T.rex has been found in China (or that, due to the incomplete nature of fossils, some scientists now believe all theropods may have been feathered?). Did you know that T.rex had South American and African cousins that were equally big and mean, such as Carcharodontosaurus or Giganotosaurus, but who hunted in packs? Or that there were sauropods so huge - like Argentinosaurus - that smaller dinosaurs actually drowned in their footprints?

It's been a fantastically fun game to work on. With my head so full of prehistoric thoughts, it's only natural that some of it should spill over into my RPG campaigns. So here, for your gaming pleasure, I present "Walking with Drakes" - four new reptilian monsters for use in your D&D 4th Edition games. Some are hybrids of existing monsters, but I've tried to include a few original tweaks in each - and provide some factual details about the dinosaurs they're based on. Hopefully each can find its place in your own lost worlds.