DCC RPG: The Elf

This is the final installment in The Iron Tavern’s weekly series looking at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. Each week I have taken a look at one of the classes, some of its highlights and features and provided my own opinion of the class. In previous weeks I have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, the Dwarf, the Cleric, the Halfling, and the Wizard.

This brings us to the final character class to take a look at – the Elf.

The Class

DCC RPG elves are long-lived with lifespans that cross a thousand years. The long-lived elf prefers woodlands and natural terrain. They typically settle away from the shorter-lived races. This long lifespan allows an elf a tremendous amount of time to become proficient with both the ways of magic and martial ability.

Elves are trained in a variety of weapons and include the ability to use longswords, longbows, and even the two-handed sword. Elves are able to wear armor of mithril, though this does affect their spellcasting when doing so.

Elves use a d6 for a hit die putting them towards the lower end on amount of hit points, though more than a Wizard character. Elves tend away from a lawful alignment with neutral or chaotic being more prevalent.

Elves have infravision out to 60’ in DCC RPG and have what many would consider to be the typical elven immunities being immune to sleep and paralysis. They also have increased senses and receive a bonus to finding secret doors and are entitled to a check when simply passing by a secret door even if they are not actively looking.

Elves frequently draw their magic from other creatures and beings. Their longer lifespan can even allow them to become more familiar with a particular patron over the years, an opportunity a wizard may not have. Despite this elves still obtain their spells randomly, though they do receive the invoke patron and patron bond spells in addition to their normal spell slots.

Elves do have an unusual vulnerability. They have an extreme sensitivity to iron. Prolonged contact actually causes a burning sensation to the elf and if continued causes the elf hit point damage each day.

My Impression

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but once again I like how the mechanics of the DCC RPG elf works out. My first D&D character ever was an elf, an elf named IronWolf. That mere fact alone made be curious as to how race as class for demi-humans would work out. Mixing the martial prowess and the magical art is a strong start.

The blend between martial prowess and the magical art helps reinforce the old school feel I have for an elf from my early days of playing D&D. The tie-in of elves to patrons as a source of power is a distinguishing factor from a human wizard, which I find a nice touch. Whether an elf draws from more natural elements or from more foul beings the mechanic to do so is easily granted to them.

The vulnerability to iron struck me as a little different. I may just not be as well versed in ‘Appendix N’ reading as I should be though. In either case, I think it is important for a judge to make sure to remember this vulnerability in order to help keep the elf from being the ultimate in character class. I think if a judge does not remember to enforce this vulnerability the elf could become somewhat of a dominant class.

I think Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has once again done well with striking that old school feel for the elf while bringing modern mechanics to the class.

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Fulgrim’s Backpack

What is in your backpack?

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is titled “What’s in your backpack?” asking for what folks have in their real life backpack or their character’s backpack. I found the topic interesting and was initially going to talk about the art of selecting items for a character’s backpack or what a standard load for the backpack should consist of.

But then I started thinking. That is all fine in theory, but what happens as a character progresses? What really happens to the items they carry in their backpack? So I decided to let one of my characters empty out their backpack and see what they have accumulated over the early levels.

Fulgrim Ironforge

With that, meet Fulgrim Ironforge, a 4th level Barbarian from the Pathfinder RPG System. Let’s see what he has to say.

“Backpack? Ye want ta’ see in me backpack?” the dwarf with a shaved head and long, thick brownish beard says looking up his chair. “I ‘spose I got time fer that.”

The dwarf slides a worn leather backpack from one side of the chair. Several straps hang from the pack with similarly worn brass buckles, scratches scoring the surface of the metal. A battered tankard clanks against one of the buckles as the dwarf finishes sliding the backpack in front of him.

The dwarf reaches to one of the side pockets of the backpack and begins to draw things forth, placing them on the table. From a side pocket he pulls out a ball of twine, several pieces of chalk, and a whetstone. “Can mark ye way wit da chalk if needed. Dat twine, never know when it might be handy.” Fulgrim states as he moves to another side pocket.

From that pocket he pulls out a dingy cord about three feet in length, stained with dark red and rust colored spots and places it on the table, followed by a vial of thick, silvery liquid. “De cord is a good way ta’ keep yer weapon on ye if somethin’ try to take it from ye. Dat silvery stuff can ‘elp against stuff resistant ta normal weapons.”

Fulgrim moves on to the next side pocket and slides out a much used deck of cards. The edges are worn and marred with dirt. He shrugs as he places them on the table “Somethin’ ta play in de evenings.”

Finally the dwarf opens the top flap of the backpack and begins removing items from the pack. Several vials, a flask or two are placed on the table. A silken rope is placed next to the vials as Fulgrim rummages around in the backpack more. “Flask ‘o de finest dwarven liquor fer de cold nights.” Fulgrim says, still rifling through the pack.

Fulgrim pulls a blanket out that seems unusually bulky, even for a blanket. He smiles as he places it on the table and slowly unfolds it revealing several caltrops, a hammer and a water skin. “De blanket keeps de spikes from pokin’ a hole in de pack. Helps muffle de sound too, keeps ’em from clankin’ in when ye don’t need ’em ta be.” Fulgrim adds.

Reaching further in the dwarf pulls out several more items, several small pouches of powder, trail rations, flint and steel and another waterskin. “Dat looks ta be it.” Fulgrim says.

Fulgrim gazes at the items on the table for a moment, “Guess it don’t hurt ta be prepared!”

Meta

Here is a list of what was actually in Fulgrim Ironforge’s pack:

  • Alchemist’s Fire Flask
  • Antitoxin
  • Blanket
  • Caltrops
  • Chalk (x3)
  • Flask
  • Flint and Steel
  • Hammer
  • Marked Cards
  • Tankard
  • Oil (x3)
  • Powder (x3)
  • Rations, 1 week
  • Rope, Silk (50′)
  • Twine (50′)
  • Waterskin (x2)
  • Weapon Blanch, Silver
  • Weapon Cord
  • Whetstone x3

I tend to load my dwarven characters up with more supplies than I do other races.

Summary

I think it is interesting to see what characters tend to keep in their backpack. I tend to vary mine from character to character. Some are pack rats and fill their pack full of miscellaneous items and others only pick up the bare essentials. Fulgrim is just one glance at one character to see what is carried

One Year Anniversary

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today I made my first post at The Iron Tavern. I started the Iron Tavern after an #rpgchat that was focused on RPG blogging. With that chat as inspiration I wanted to use The Iron Tavern as a platform for a multitude of things. I wanted it to be a place to write some fiction, offer up product reviews, offer commentary on games I was interested in, and more.

Over the past year I have tackled most of those. I have not posted fiction here since the early months of the Tavern, but reviews, game commentary and the like are frequent topics at The Iron Tavern. In many ways, even a year later I feel like the blog is still hitting its stride and finding its place in the RPG blogosphere.

From the early days of the blog traffic here has increased ten-fold-plus. I would still like to see continued increase, but I am quite happy with how things have been going with the blog. It provides me an outlet or soapbox for me to write about a wide variety of RPG topics, review various RPG materials, and simply as a platform to talk RPG. The comments I receive regarding the blog are favorable.

I do not want to dwell too much on numbers and statistics, but I find it interesting to at least take a look at some of the more popular posts over the year. Let’s take a look at the top three posts from the time I launched this blog one year ago to now.

The most popular post?  A Look at The One Ring. This post is one where I took a quick overview of the game, touched on some of its more major mechanics and provided thoughts on the game. Over the past year, it has been the most popular post, excluding hits to the home page of the blog.

Coming up closely after that, are my review if Hero Lab Beginner Box and my Rise of the Runelords unboxing. The Hero Lab post fell in the first quarter of the blog, though at the tail end. The Rise of the Runelords unboxing was more recent having been posted just over a month ago.

The Contest

What anniversary celebration would be complete without a contest? The Iron Tavern is hosting its first ever contest to celebrate its one year anniversary!  Up for grabs is a $15 gift certificate to RPG Now or Amazon.com – winner’s choice! There is also a second place prize of a $10 gift certificate to RPG Now or Amazon.com, winner’s choice.

While I hope this will be the first of several more contests in the future, this contest certainly has the lowest hurdle to entry! Though there are several methods of entry and even methods to increase your chances!

The Iron Tavern Comment Entries

The first, and easiest, is to simply post a comment to this post wishing The Iron Tavern a Happy One Year anniversary. That is it, post a comment on this post and you are entered! Only one comment for entry per person please. The cut-off is Sunday, September 2nd at 9pm Eastern for comments to be considered.

Looking for another way to enter to increase your chances? I have a few of those as well.

Google+ Entry

You can follow The Iron Tavern’s Google+ page. I post updates there when the blog is updated and it can be a great way to keep up with what is happening at The Iron Tavern. Once you have added The Iron Tavern on Google+, be sure to comment on the Google+ Update about The Iron Tavern Anniversary and Contest so I know to add your name!

Twitter Entry

Tweet a link to this contest post on Twitter, make sure to cc: @ir0nwolf so I know you posted a link and I will add your name again to the list of entrants.

Blogroll Entry

Add The Iron Tavern to your own blog’s blogroll. Already have The Iron Tavern on your blogroll? Then just let me know by posting a comment here or pinging me on Twitter and I will add your name to the list of entrants again!

That is it! Four ways to enter this contest! Post a comment on this post wishing The Iron Tavern a happy anniversary, follow The Iron Tavern’s Google+ page (and comment on this post announcement on Google+ so I know about it), add The Iron Tavern to your own blog’s blogroll, and tweet a link to this contest while mentioning @ir0nwolf! Choose one method or all four to increase your chances of winning!

Who Wins?

The contest winners will be decided by a roll of the dice. I will put all entrants names into a spreadsheet and then use invisiblecastle.com to roll a dice to select the first place winner and then the second place winner by random roll. Get in on this contest now, as this will be the easiest contest The Iron Tavern ever holds! Future contests are going to require a little more work on the contestants’ part!

The Rules

  • Contest Ends Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 9pm Eastern.
  • Winners Announced Monday, September 3, 2012
  • Four Methods of Entry
  • You can enter the contest via each method to increase your chances of winning, but only once per method.
  • Winners names (or handles) may be used in future blog posts or blog promotion.
  • Winners will be determined by random roll at invisiblecastle.com
  • 1st Place Prize $15 gift certificate to RPG Now or Amazon.com – Winner’s choice
  • 2nd Place prize $10 gift certificate to RPG Now or Amazon.com – Winner’s choice

DCC RPG: The Wizard

This article is another in the weekly series in which I have been looking at each of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. I have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, the Dwarf, the Cleric, and the Halfling in previous weeks.

As we came down to the end of the series I posted a poll to see which classes people wanted to see next. The Halfing just managed to win that poll with the Wizard coming in a close second. This week I will be taking a look at the DCC RPG Wizard.

The Class

Being a Wizard in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is dangerous. Wizards draw their power from demons or gods, ancient black magics from long forgotten tomes or through deals with the devils or other unearthly beings. While great power and magic can come from these exchanges, it is not without risk.

The wizard in DCC RPG starts with a d4 hit die at first level. They are able to use a handful of weapons, including long or short swords. While they are able to wear armor it does cause a penalty to spellcasting.

Wizards can choose their alignment with black magic tending to be practiced by chaotic wizards and neutral and lawful wizards practicing more with the elements of the world. Enchantments can be used by any of the three alignments.

Magic is an interesting area in DCC RPG as it includes a large amount of randomness. The randomness factor helps reinforce the idea that magic is not always controllable or predictable. The use of magic is not to be taken lightly. A beginning wizard beings with four spells, these spells are chosen randomly at first level.

When a wizard casts a spell, they must make a spellcheck – a d20 roll plus some modifiers that includes the wizard’s caster level. The result of this roll is looked up on a table for the specific spell being cast. The roll will determine whether the casting was successful, whether the spell is retained for use later, and how great (or little) the effect of the spell is.

As noted above, a wizard can draw their sources of magic from many different places, including supernatural patrons. A wizard can bind themselves to a patron and from that point use a spell called invoke patron to seek special aide in times of critical need. A patron may or may not respond to this request and may or may not barter an exchange to grant the aide requested. While this is quite powerful, it is not without its risks. Most of these risks are left to the liberty of the judge to determine.

A wizard can summon a familiar if they so choose by using a spell to do so.  A wizard’s luck modifier applies to rolls of corruption and mercurial magic.

Mercurial magic. This just one way that spells are different and unique depending on the wizard that is casting it. When a new spell is learned by a wizard, they roll on the mercurial effect table to determine how that spell will behave when cast by this specific wizard. There is a table with 100 different effects on the table. These effects can be positive or negative in nature and affect how that spell works each time it is cast.

Image by Steve A Roberts, http://fantasyartdesign.com/

There are some other mechanics in DCC RPG that affect wizards and the way they cast magic. As mentioned earlier, a wizard makes a spell check roll when they cast a spell to determine if the spell is successful or not. If a wizard rolls poorly they might suffer a misfire, corruption, or patron taint. The table with each spell will help determine the result of the roll and whether a misfire, corruption, patron taint, or possibly all three apply.

Misfires are specific to the spell and tend to include unexpected effects of the spell, frequently detrimental to himself or his allies.

Corruption has a rather significant effect on the wizard. There are three tables for corruption that cover minor, major, and greater. Corruption tends to be things that damage the wizard, leads to an altering of their appearance or other such effects. A wonderful graphic in the book illustrates the progression of a wizard over time. The first frame showing a young, handsome man and by the final image a grotesque hunched over monstrosity.

Finally there is the spellburn mechanic. Spellburn allows a wizard to call upon outside sources such as demons, devils, the darkness between the stars and so on to burn ability score points in a one for one exchange in bonus to a spellcheck roll. A wizard can burn points from their Strength, Agility or Stamina ability scores.

My Impression

The wizard class can seem pretty complex at initial look. With pages and pages of spells with tables and charts, mercurial magic, spellburn, corruption, and misfires. As you start to read more about the class and actually play though you learn that you only need to be concerned with the spells your wizard actually knows and a handful of tables which can easily be brought to the table.

Once over the initial hurdle of familiarizing yourself with the basics of a wizard, I think the mechanics do a very good job of reproducing that “Appendix N” feel for the wizard. Magic is random. Magic is not something to be taken lightly. Magic has its price.

One of my favorite lines from the DCC RPG in the Magic section is “Use a torch, fool; it is much safer!” This line helps set the readers expectation as to how magic works in this world. It isn’t used to light your way in dungeons or to light street lamps or for any trivial task. Magic is not to be trifled with.

In d20 games there is always the debate of Vancian magic systems versus some other magic system and how wizards can over power the rest of the party at higher levels. I think the magic system and wizards in DCC RPG have found an interesting way to balance the wizards power, the frequency they can cast spells with the random nature of making magic dangerous as an elegant solution to the wizard’s power. Sure the wizards can obliterate some foe – but at what possible risk to them or to their party?

I am quite satisfied with how a wizard functions in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. It gives me the old-school feel of the wizard from the strength perspective, the power that we all think of when it comes to a wizard with the randomness of something bad happening when casting to temper that power a bit.

Next Week

Next week I will be bringing the character class series to a close with a look at the Elf. The Elf is the last character class on the list! Be sure to check back next Friday for the final article in this series.

Mini Review: Pathfinder Comic

While at Gen Con this weekend I picked up the new Pathfinder Comic from Dynamite Entertainment. While I have not been an avid comic reader for many, many years, I was intrigued by what Paizo and Dynamite had lined up.

The comic is written by Jim Zub and illustrated by Andrew Huerta. There have been multiple covers illustrated by various artists, I have the Gen Con Edition which depicts a fierce looking Paizo-style goblin with a short bow.

This issue comes in at 40 pages long, though not all of that is comic. The comic book includes 10 pages of Sandpoint Gazetteer material, we will get to that in a moment. A small poster of the cover of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook comes folded up in the comic, a tactical map is on the flip-side of the poster.

I thought the illustrations in the comic were very good. Several of the iconics are included in the initial story. The feel of the art is different than one would find in the Pathfinder rules and supplements, but the essence of them is there in this comic book format.

Gen Con Cover

The writing was also good in this first issue. The story moved well and helped give a feel for the local environs before moving into the coming problem. I found myself smiling in amusements at several portions of the story!

The 10 pages of Sandpoint Gazetteer was a surprise to me. This portion was like a mini-Pathfinder sourcebook and written by James Jacobs. The Gazetteer is chock full of information about the locale the comic book story is taking place in. The stats for the town is included, sections on crime and justice, shopping, adventure hooks, NPC stats and more. There is even a one page full color map of Sandpoint included in the comic. 1st level stats are included for Seoni, Valeros, Ezren, and Merisiel are also in this section of the comic.

I found the comic a fun read and the Gazetteer was a neat addition. I am looking forward to see what the other issues in this line of comics has in store for the reader. Looking at the product listing on Paizo’s site appears to show that a similar format will be used in at least the next issue. I was certainly pleasantly surprised by this comic.

Gen Con 2012 Report

As it turned out I did make it out to Gen Con 2012 this year for what amounted to 36 hours including six hours of driving time from Ohio to Indianapolis. I had a great time while out there and was able to meet up with several of my local gaming group friends and meet several folks that I had only known from online interactions previously.

Game wise I did manage to get a couple of games in. First up was The Red Dragon Inn. A fun game from Slugfest Games you play adventurer’s drinking it up in the tavern. A fortitude score and alcohol content score are the prime mechanics at play. Each player plays a character that has their own deck of cards for that character. It was a quite fun to play.

I finally managed to cross paths with Tracy Barnett (@TheOtherTracy) despite both being from the Columbus, Ohio area and missing each other at Origins. He ran a late night game of his creation, School Daze. It was also a fun, Fiasco inspired game that is fairly free form and improv. Character generation is easy and a d6 is the only die needed. We played the Super Villian version which meant we each had some super power and attended school with other super villains. Tracy ran a great game, I had a lot of fun with it.

I was able to take in a couple of seminars while I was there, one covering freelancing in the RPG industry and the other Meet the Kobold Minions. Both were enjoyable and I was able to meet a couple of the people on the panels afterwards.

I of course spent a good amount of time in the exhibit hall this year. It always amazes me how crowded the hall is, even on weekdays. I really only had one item I was really on the lookout for and that was GameScience zocchi dice. They were easy to find and I picked up two sets of those. Over the course of my time there I did pick up a few other things, including a great deal on the 1e AD&D reprints.

Twitter was an invaluable tool while at the Con. It made running into people (it is how I managed to get into the last minute School Daze game) and seeing what was going on very easy. While I tend to prefer Google+ these days, I have maintained my Twitter presence. At Gen Con twitter definitely seemed to be the best way to keep up with what other folk were up to in real time. Or to let other folks know where I was out for them to find me.

And finally, here is a look at some of the things I brought home with me. I would have had more pics of other things from the Con, but my phone camera lost several photos while I was out there.

Update: Iron Tavern and Gen Con 2012

It looks like things have come together enough to allow me to sneak off to Gen Con for Friday and Saturday. By the time you read this I will be on the road for the trip to Indy!

Given the last minute nature of the go or no-go, I do not have a lot of games lined up. I plan on hitting the dealer hall up and wandering it aimlessly and then crossing paths with a few other friends I know are out there. I will keep my Twitter feed updated during my two days there. If you are at Gen Con as well, fell free to ping me on Twitter and we will see about meeting up!

Oh – and I may or may not have 20 0-level DCC RPG pre-gens in my bag and a few 3rd level pre-gens with a couple of DCC RPG mods to run if the urge strikes!

I will be writing up a post-Gen Con report here as well early next week. Also don’t forget that my weekly series covering each character class in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG will continue next Friday when I will be looking at the Wizard.