Monday, March 30, 2009

CJ's Warlord School - The Defensive Line

The PCs face off against the wave of monsters and cannot let them enter the final row of the Gauntlet room (or other goal area).

An actual Gauntlet defensive line would be very difficult if the room were 10 squares wide as the party is likely 4-6 characters strong. They would have to rely heavily on OAs to prevent forward progress by the minions.

More likely is an assortment of regular monsters and minions that work to progress through the room. Monsters with teleportation and flight would be rude at low levels but might be an appropriate challenge at higher levels. Powers that slow, immobilize, and push/pull/slide would be able to shine in such a fight.

A variant could include defending a burst 1 area from enemy occupation. The game could end if an enemy starts its turn in the area or points could be deducted from a set total for each such occurrence with the goal being longevity.

A team of dwarves could advance upon the area and make it very difficult to remove them. Lurker monsters could constantly spring attack their way into the area without provoking. Teleporting/flying monsters would challenge players to utilize forced movement powers. Points should be lost for PCs standing in the area.

CJ's Warlord School - The Gauntlet

Candle Jakk's Mercenary Adventuring Company hosts a Warlord's School. Contrary to the name, which may very well change in the future, it is a school for learning and honing the finer points of 4e tactical combat, character optimization, and teamwork. The school idea grew out of the suggestion on OYT for running 4e games of Capture the Flag or other scrimmages to acclimate people to the combat mechanics and 4e's emphasis on tactics.

The Gauntlet arose from the adventure CORE1-6 in LFR. There is a room in the adventure with nigh on 20 minions. They all but fill the available space (at least until the DM figured out half of them were in another part of the room). CJMAC's Gauntlet is a 10x20 or 10x30 square room filled with minions. They occupy every square except for the opening 1 or 2 rows that serve as the characters' starting location. The goal is to arrive at the other end of the room.

The weak variant of the Gauntlet entails normal minion rules. The minions may or may not move to advance on the PCs as their fellows die.

The intermediate variant of the Gauntlet sees minions respawn on their initiative each turn. This allows the PCs to use area powers to open holes for the party to advance before the minions close in on them again. Unlike the weak variant, however, the minions do not fill in the holes with their standing number (thus opening holes elsewhere) but respawn within the vacant squares.

The hard variant of the Gauntlet entails minions respawning each turn. Each PC is responsible for opening his own path. Readied actions may or may not help; if the purpose of the exercise is to explore teamwork and coordinated actions through the ready action, then it should be a valid tactic; otherwise, the Gauntlet is testing individual ability with a secondary emphasis on teamwork and positioning (it is still better to end your turn adjacent to an ally because that is one less minion attacking you; you want to be able to reach a close burst 5 from the healer; etc).

Further variants are possible, such as mixing in actual monsters or trapped squares, but the Gauntlet itself is defined by a room entirely full of monsters (even though I now regret using that term for this particular type of scenario).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Best Man Speech

This is the speech I gave as the best man in my best friend's wedding:

Excuse me everyone, if I could have your attention for a moment. I'm Chuck's best man and his best friend. I'd like to take a few moments to say a few words. I promise to keep it brief because some of you have heard that I'm smart like Chuck and the longer I talk the less likely you are to believe it.

I'd like to thank Sarah's mom, Jennifer, for opening her home to us on this special occasion and for arranging such a beautiful scene for Chuck and Sarah's wedding. Everything is just gorgeous.

I'd also like to thank Chuck's mom and dad, Barbara and Eric, for the wonderful dinner last night and especially for taking on the lost cause of keeping me up to date on times, dates, and places. I even bummed a ride over with them.

Charles, how am I going to explain our friendship without revealing just how nerdy we are? I met Chuck in 8th grade at a National Academic League Match … which is like sports for nerds … due to a passing reference to Dungeons & Dragons … that I made … and he corrected me on.

Since that day, I have had the honor of Chuck's close friendship. A man who possesses an unending sense of wonder with the world. A man with an endless depth and breadth of knowledge who has never failed to open new worlds to those near him. I mean, who ever heard of quantitative psychology before meeting Chuck?

Over the years I have seen Chuck mature and set his life on a path. After high school, every time I spoke with him he had a new major and a new dream job. That changed when he decided to join the Air Force. I remember driving down the road near my house and seeing Chuck running on the sidewalk. I asked if he wanted a ride and he said no, he needed to get in shape for basic training. Keep in mind he lived about 10 miles away. That was dedication.

I see the same dedication whenever I see Chuck with Sarah. I knew something was different when Chuck came home to visit and all he wanted to do was show me pictures of cats. The next time I saw him, he couldn't stop talking about Sarah. This man was smitten. Before I ever met her I knew Sarah was someone special. She had won the heart of my best friend and changed him, not into someone different, but into someone better.

And as I look at all the friends and family gathered here today, I know that Sarah and Charles have touched many lives. These are two very special people who have come together today as bride and groom to leave today as husband and wife.

So I raise a toast to the bride and groom and I know you all share the sentiment:

My greatest wish for the two of you is that through the years your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carrion/Dung Spider

I had an idea for a new kind of spider. Maybe these already exist after some fashion.

Carrion spiders come in two varieties - the scavenger and the hunter. Both utilize the same method of capturing prey - they set up their webs or stalk their prey around a dead body that attracts insects and other scavengers.

Scavenger carrion spiders are the stalkers. They wander around the forest (or other environment) seeking dead fruit, plants, and animals and prey on the other insects that come to feed on the carrion. They are especially attracted to the smell of rotting flesh and so are sometimes fooled by carrion plants (indeed, the sight of dead scavenger carrion spiders is a good indication that the source of that terrible smell is a carrion plant).

Hunter carrion spiders are the trap setters. They do not seek out existing carrion but purposefully kill other creatures and leave them to rot in order to attract more food. Since they choose the where and the when of the carrion lure, they are able to set up webs to trap their prey rather than stalking and subduing it like their scavenger cousins.

The fun comes from the giant carrion spiders. Scavenger spiders set ambushes around dead bodies that fell to traps or combat and attack looting adventurers. Giant hunter spiders are deferential to shiny creatures as bait. A fat merchant with a dozen rings makes for a very enticing lure, both for looting adventurers as well as less intelligent beings. It is rumored that some hunter spiders are possessed of a malign intelligence and they use piles of treasure as bait.

Dung spiders are carrion spiders that hang around dung rather than kills. They are more numerous and better off from an evolutionary stand-point as dung is much more readily available.