Category Archives: DevLog

Building a Module : Part 5 : Loot

Now that we have the two encounters for this part of the module, we need to drop loot. Even though this part isn’t half of the XP, it is half of the adventure(lots of RP leading up to it), so I’m planning on using about half of the treasure amount, or 850g per player.

First of all, they are recovering a powerful artifact that allows them to use two different spells each twice per day. A wand works similarly, so I priced it as a level 8 item, since a Wand of a single rank 3 spell is a level 7 item, while this one has a single rank 4 and a single rank 3 spell. A level 8 item is normally 660g, so it uses 330g of our budget. However, since it is two spells each twice per day, it is worth 660g. Since it is a single item drop and not a scaling, we have to figure out the per-person budget. If you don’t know the exact size of the party, I typically use 3 players. So 220g of our 850g budget.

Next up, since this is a temple of the nature god, I decide that having rare alchemical ingredients makes sense.

I add a Nature 13(moderate) check to find 50g per person in rare alchemical ingredients in the main temple. I also want a bit of morality puzzle here, so I make it 40g that you can collect safely, or 60g, but the plants will not regrow here later.

I decide to give the Archdruid a +3 Dominating Staff which would normally retail for 1000g, so 500g of our budget. Again though, this is divided by 3 since it’s a non-scaling drop.

I decide to allow with a Nature, Heal, or Craft(alchemy) to craft a mind-controlling poison out of the ranger’s and treant’s corpse. Since the rangers already scale at 1/2 number of players, I just keep it at one per ranger. For the treant, I allow one per player. So the players receive 1.5 poisons per player. This may seem like a lot, but remember that we are pricing it by sale price, so they can always sell them in town.

There is currently a Cobra Venom that is a level 10 poison that stuns for 1 round, so I’ll base the domination one off of that.
Domination Poison: Dominate 1 round, but at -1 Fortitude DC. Threshold 6. Sells for 175g

So for the poison, we have 262g per player. Added to our 220g artifact, 50g alchemy ingredients, and 167g for the archdruid’s staff we are at 701g.

I decide to give each of the lesser druids different rings that sell for 220g. Since the druids are 1 per even player, this means 110g per player budget.
Caustic Ring: DR(acid) 1 per level(7). Immune to Sunder Armor.
Flaming Ring: DR(fire) 1 per level(7). Immune to Burning.
Holy Ring: DR(radiant) 1 per level(7). Immune to Blind.

Now we just have about 40g per player left. I decide to give normal gold for the rest. I have the druids from the first encounter drop 40g, but since they scale at 1/2 players it only uses 20g of the budget. The rangers will not have any gold, since they were probably looted by the druids.
The 2nd encounter involves the Archdruid, the Treant, and rangers and druids for any players after 2. It doesn’t make sense for the treant or rangers to carry gold, so I have the archdruid carry 20g per player.

And with that, we have our 850g in loot set. I hope this weeks walkthrough of building part of my level 7  module has helped show how easy it is to build interesting encounters in Apprentice.

Building a Module : Part 4 : Building a Boss

Since we have the first easy encounter build(One Dark Ranger per odd player and one Corrupted Druid per even player), we have a hard encounter left on this stretch of the module which means we have 80xp per player to work with.

I want there to be a giant corrupted treant to fight, so I write it down as a level 7 boss +2, or 120xp. I decide to use a brute for high damage, low attack, low defenses, high HP.

I can safely assume there will be at least 2 players, so a base 190xp pool is fair game, and I can add more monsters to scale afterwards.

I decide that the archdruid who corrupted the treant will be a level 7 boss +1, or 80xp. This puts me 10xp over budget, but this should not be too terrible but something to keep in mind.

To fill out the scaling, I’m going to make a simple corrupted dryad monster using defender stats.

Corrupted Dryad – Level 7 Defender
HP:176 AC:24(20) Saves:6/6/4 DR: 7
Smash +9(48 bashing)

Using the monster spreadsheet, I see that a level 7 brute Boss+2’s base stats are:
HP: 402 AC:24(23) Saves:9
Basic Attack: +10(68)

I decide I’m okay with it’s basic attacks being straightforward:
Slam: +10(68 bashing damage)
Vine Attack: +8(68 slashing damage) range 6.

I know that as a +2 boss, I need to make two bonus attacks per turn. I decide to make the vines attack two targets, and have the slam deal damage in an area around him for one of the attacks.
Slam: 68 bashing damage in a 3 square burst centered on Corrupted Treant. Reflex(19) for 1/2 damage.
Vine Attack: Two targets +8(68 slashing damage) range 6.

For the extra attack, I decide to go with an aura that requires a Fortitude save or stacking debuffs. I decide on 2 rounds for the durations, so even melee characters can move away fast to remove all stacks of the debuff.
Spore Cloud: Each turn, creatures who end their turn within 3 squares of the Corrupted Treant must make a Fortitude save(19) or be Sickened(-1 attack/AC/saves) for 2 rounds. Targets already Sickened are instead Shakened(-2 attack/AC/saves) for 2 rounds. Targets already Shakened are also Blinded(-4 attack) for 2 rounds.

Because this encounter has a lot going on, I decide not to give the treant any more abilities, though most of the time you want bosses to have a few recharge abilities to give them more depth.

Corrupted Treant – Level 7 Brute Boss+2
HP: 402 AC:23(22) Saves:10/7/10 DR: 7
Slam: 68 bashing damage in a 3 square burst centered on Corrupted Treant. Reflex(19) for 1/2 damage.
Vine Attack: Two targets +8(68 slashing damage) range 6.
Spore Cloud: Each turn, creatures who end their turn within 3 squares of the Corrupted Treant must make a Fortitude save(19) or be Sickened(-1 attack/AC/saves) for 2 rounds. Targets already Sickened are instead Shakened(-2 attack/AC/saves) for 2 rounds. Targets already Shakened are also Blinded(-4 attack) for 2 rounds.

Now for the Archdruid, we have base stats of:
HP:191 AC:22(24) Saves:8
At-will attack: +10(48)
Recharge: 73 damage DC19
We remember from the druid before that we need to have the following spell ranks:
Rank 2: Recharge(3)
Rank 3: Recharge(4)
Rank 4: Recharge(5)
I also decide to choose his at-will attack as a rank 1 spell to further show off his power over the other druids.

Jet of Flame (Rank 1): +10(48 fire damage)
R3: Draining Spores(Rank 2): Summon a 6 square cone of spores. Creatures inside it have 50% chance to need to make a Fortitude(19) save or be Exhausted(-5 speed, minimum 1) for 5 rounds.
R4: Fireball(Rank 3): 4 square burst that deals 58 fire damage, Reflex(19) for 1/2 damage.
R5: Wall of Stone(Rank 4): Create 9 square wall of stone. Each square of stone has 91 HP.

So you can see I chose his spells around control and defenses. He’d much rather his minions(including the treant) take the party out than himself.

Now, as a Boss+1, he should have an extra set of actions per turn. To accomplish this, and to give him more spells to feel properly “Archmage-y”, I decided to go with a set of recharge spells that are swift actions.

Lightning Shock(Rank 1): Swift Action. RT +10(38 lightning damage)
R3: Dispel Magic: (Rank 2): Swift Action. Target loses one magical effect. Original caster can make a Will save(19) to prevent removal.
R4: Stoneskin(Rank 3): Swift Action. Target gains temporary DR 11 for 5 rounds. ((73*.8)/5)
R5: Serious Triage(rank 4): Swift Action. Heal target 43 HP. (-20% swift, -20% no-miss)

Corrupted Archdruid – Level 7 Mage Boss+1
HP:191 AC:22(24) Saves:8
Jet of Flame (Rank 1): +10(48 fire damage)
Lightning Shock(Rank 1): Swift Action. RT +10(38 lightning damage)
R3: Draining Spores(Rank 2): Summon a 6 square cone of spores. Creatures inside it have 50% chance to need to make a Fortitude(19) save or be Exhausted(-5 speed, minimum 1) for 5 rounds.
R4: Fireball(Rank 3): 4 square burst that deals 58 fire damage, Reflex(19) for 1/2 damage.
R5: Wall of Stone(Rank 4): Create 9 square wall of stone. Each square of stone has 91 HP.
R3: Dispel Magic: (Rank 2): Swift Action. Target loses one magical effect. Original caster can make a Will save(19) to prevent removal.
R4: Stoneskin(Rank 3): Swift Action. Target gains temporary DR 11 for 5 rounds.
R5: Serious Triage(rank 4): Swift Action. Heal target 43 HP.

Next time I’ll look at filling this part of the module with treasure and gold.

Building a Module : Part 3 : Building a Mage Monster

Last time, we made our Dark Ranger, so today I’m going to make a Corrupted Druid. The temple they are visiting is to the druid god, so showing not just dark priests but other classes working for the cultist would be neat.

Looking at the monster spreadsheet, I see the base stats are:

HP: 96 AC:21(23) Saves: 7
At-will Attacks: 48
Recharge(4) Spell Damage: 73
Spell DC: 19
Spell Hit: +10

The saves are default Fortitude +7, Reflex +7, and Will +7. I decide that these druids probably aren’t overly fast, so I reduce their Reflex by 2 to raise their Will by 2.

I looked at the druid spell list in the Spell Tome and see rank 0 Sickening Spores, which I decide to use for their at-will attack.

Sickening Spores
Conjuration – Rank 0
Fortitude Negates
You summon a 6 square cone of spores. Creatures in it have a 50% chance to need to make a Fortitude save or be Sickened(-1 attack/AC/saves) for 5 rounds.

Since there is no damage portion of this attack, I can translate it immediately onto the monster without any changes.
Sickening Spores: 6 square cone. Creatures inside have 50% chance to need to make a Fortitude(19) or be Sickened(-1 attack/AC/saves) for 5 rounds.
I also want a damaging ability on the druid though, so I give them Ray of Frost.

Ray of Frost
Evocation – Rank 0
Ranged Touch
Target takes 1d4 cold damage per odd level and is slowed(-2 speed) for 2 rounds. If the target is already slowed, Ray of Frost deals an additional +1 cold damage per level.

This ability DOES require some translation for use with the monster. Looking at my chart in the monster guide, I see that rank 0 spells are normally d6 per odd level. So I need to take the base at-will damage(48) and reduce it by 20% or 38 damage.
So for the monster listing, Ray of Frost would look like this:

Ray of Frost: +10(38 cold damage and Slow(-2 speed) for 2 rounds. If already slowed, instead deal 45 cold damage)

Again, looking in the Monster Guide, I see that as a level 7 monster, I need to choose a Rank 4(Recharge 5), Rank 3(recharge 4), and Rank 2(Recharge 3) spells to round it out.

For the rank 2 spell, I decide to go with Wildfire, which deals d4 fire damage. Consulting the chart, I see that it is normally d6 for rank 2 spells, so I take the base damage 73 and reduce it by 20%. Mage monsters are an exception that the different recharges do not effect damage. So for a monster, Wildfire looks like this:

R3 Wild Fire (Rank 2): Summon a 1 square burst of flame. Each round, the flame expands 2 squares. Each creature in the burst at the end of the Corrupted Druid’s turn must make a Reflex save(19) or take 58 fire damage.

For the rank 3 spell, I decide to add a healing spell, while also giving players a good target for dispel magic in the heal Invigorate. Unfortunately, Invigorate is one of those spells that doesn’t convert directly using the chart. It grants Fast Healing over 5 turns. I decided to take the base damage(73) and divide it by the 5 rounds to give that much Fast Healing(14).

R4 Invigorate(Rank 3): Target heals 3 HP and gains Fast Healing 14 for 5 rounds.

Last up, for our rank 4 spell, I decide to mess a bit with players too by giving the druid’s Purge, which can remove any magical effects in range. Since this doesn’t do damage, it doesn’t need much translation.
R5 Purge(Rank 4): Remove any number of ongoing magical effects within 12 squares. Original spellcaster can attempt a Will save(19) to prevent their effect from being removed.

So here is the final Corrupted Druid:

Corrupted Druid – Level 7 Mage
HP
: 96 AC:21(23) Saves: 7/5/9
Ray of Frost: +10(38 cold damage and Slow(-2 speed) for 2 rounds. If already slowed, instead deal 45 cold damage)
Sickening Spores: 6 square cone. Creatures inside have 50% chance to need to make a Fortitude(19) or be Sickened(-1 attack/AC/saves) for 5 rounds.
R3 Wild Fire (Rank 2): Summon a 1 square burst of flame. Each round, the flame expands 2 squares. Each creature in the burst at the end of the Corrupted Druid’s turn must make a Reflex save(19) or take 58 fire damage.
R4 Invigorate(Rank 3): Target heals 3 HP and gains Fast Healing 14 for 5 rounds.
R5 Purge(Rank 4): Remove any number of ongoing magical effects within 12 squares. Original spellcaster can attempt a Will save(19) to prevent their effect from being removed

Building a Module : Part 2 : Basics of Monster Building

Last time I made a rough outline for our module. Today we are going to go into details on the design of the first encounter. Again, I’m going to try to avoid spoilers unless they pertain to the design.

First up is the smaller area, which only has one easy and one hard fight.

Again, an easy fight will be 40xp per player. This could mean a single level 7 monster per player, or two level 5 monsters(base 30xp -10xp for being two levels lower).

I decide that the first fight I want to be smaller to help the players figure out the mechanics of the area. So I decide on making two types of monsters, one that is per even number players, and one that is per odd number players.

For the first enemy, we are going to look at making a Dark Ranger.

Choosing the proper type for the monster is important. Do I want them to be fast Strikers, heavy Brutes, strong Defenders, or the Base creature stats. I could honestly see Striker for a ranger, but I know I’m going to pair it with a Mage, who also does huge damage from the back. So I decide to go with the average Base stats for now.

Looking at the monster spreadsheet, I see the base stats are:

HP: 127 AC:23(22) Saves:7
Basic Attack: +11(55)

First of all, I know I want these rangers to be corrupted by dark seeds, wrapping their bodies in these leeching vines that control them and give them strength. I look at the Customize Stats portion of the Monster Guide and decide that because of the vinesthey have Weakness(fire), which will increase any fire damage they take by 50%. To off-set that, I’m giving them +1 AC and Fast Healing 7. I also decide that since they are being mind-controlled, they have -2 Will, but +2 Fortitude.
For their attacks, they will have Thorn Blades, which can cause the target to bleed, and a Seed Arrow ranged attack using their bows and corrupted seeds.
Thorn Blades is going to have +2 Crit and cause the target to bleed(works like Burn, dealing 7 damage each round that ignores non-typed DR) on critical hits. The +2 Crit costs 2 “points”, meaning I’m going to have to lower either the hit or the damage. I decide to lower the damage by 10%.

To cover the bleed part, I decide to lower the damage by 5%(2.75 damage), but have the bleed last 3 rounds(21 damage) since it only happens 15% of the time(or avg 3 damage per turn).
Thorn Blades: +11(46 piercing damage, crits on 18-20. On crit, target bleeds for 3 rounds, taking 7 piercing damage per turn that ignores non-typed DR)

For the Seed Arrow, I decide that once a target is hit two times by the arrow, they are Dominated for 1 round. Domination for 1 round is a pretty powerful ability. Ray of Greed is rank 2 spell that does it with a ranged touch attack that deals no damage. I’ve off-set the power by requiring 2 hits, or an average of 4 turns. Of course, multiple Dark Rangers focusing on one target can be pretty harsh. With that in mind, I settle on -20% damage. I also decide to give the target a save. I look over at the mage stats in the monster spreadsheet and see the DC is 19 at this level, so I use it.
Seed Arrow: +11(44 piercing damage. Targets hit twice by these seeds must make a Will save(19) or be Dominated for 1 round).

Final Dark Ranger:

Dark Ranger  – Level 7 base
HP: 127 AC:24(23) Saves:9/7/5 Fast Healing 7 Weakness(fire)
Thorn Blades: +11(46 piercing damage, crits on 18-20. On crit, target bleeds for 3 rounds, taking 7 piercing damage per turn that ignores non-typed DR).
Seed Arrow: +11(44 piercing damage. Targets hit twice by these seeds must make a Will save(19) or be Dominated for 1 round). Range 12.

Tomorrow we will be building the Corrupted Druid to round out the first encounter.

Building a Module : Part 1 : Outline and XP Distribution

This week, I wanted to show how I go about building modules or campaigns for Apprentice. When I call it a module, I mean a chapter in the story that roughly translates into one player level. You can split your story up however you like, but this is one way that works for me and my group.

In case one of my player’s reads this, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum.

During the last chapter, the group found a group of cultist were using a magical forge to melt down souls to craft powerful artifacts. They also found out that the cult had captured the major spirit that they claimed to worship and planned on using his power to tear down the veil between this world and the afterlife.

They stopped one of the three lieutenants of the cult, so this chapter will be about hunting down the next two so that they can scry the location of the cultist leader.

So at this point, I know I want two locations with dramatically different encounters and spaces.

Looking at the XP chart, I see that I need to fit 400xp per player for a level 7 group over the course of the module. An easy fight is 40xp per player, a moderate fight is 60xp per player, and a hard fight is 80xp per player.

I know I want at least two fights per area, one easy and one hard for a total of 240 xp per player.

I decide that the second area I want to be bigger than the first, so I add two medium encounters for a total of 360xp. Seeing I have 40xp left, I decide to have an easy encounter I can add wherever I need to later on to fill my quota.

While I’m looking at the big picture, I note that my treasure goal is 1700g per player, which at least 800g of it should be in magical items(at half their cost). I don’t really like to divy up all of the gold right away, instead giving items where it makes sense then filling in the treasure afterwards.

So with our outline set up, it is time to look at crafting our first encounter, which I will show off tomorrow.

DevLog #35

So I’ve gotten Tower of Satoris, or Module 2 for Apprentice completely written. This weekend has been focused on playtesting. It looks like it will be a bit longer than Module 1, and a lot less combat focused. Cave of the Goblin King was pretty much fight after fight with only a bit of downtime, Tower of Satoris gives players many more changes to explore this abandoned wizard’s tower and interact with a host of NPCs.

One of the premade characters for Tower of Satoris is a ninja, which is a first since their recent redesign of the entirety of their ninjutsu and clan lists. The ninja, who is named Noga Bakko, is focused on wooden ninjutsu to grant allies shields, as well as an earth jutsu to quickly build walls around the battlefield.

While designing Noga, however, we came to a realization. We had feats as well as the skill Psionics that granted Breath points. The problem with this is that every single ninja we were making was taking these feats. We had breath scaling at 3 + 1 per level, but no scaling based on their caster stat(Wisdom). Wisdom could be safely ignored for many ninja who did not want to use ninjutsu with saving throws. We had to have multiclass feats from breath classes grant bonus breath, which meant that every ninja was a ninja/psion for the extra breath.

We moved Breath to be a base equal to your Wisdom modifier. It doesn’t matter how you got the abilities that use breath, be it feat, class, or item. Everyone has a base amount. Ninja still grants +1 Breath at every even level since they tend to tie up much of their breath in Auras.

Our original goal for Ninja was to allow a jack-of-all-trades but require a focused build in the same way we did for Bard and Fighter. As time passed, however, it became abundantly clear that ninja was a bit too unfocused. A ninja can still focus on Strength or Dexterity on weapon strikes, but they cannot completely dump Wisdom. Focusing on Auras means less reliance on saving throws and breath, which means Wisdom can stay a secondary stat.

DevLog #34 : Skills And You

Yesterday’s discussion on pronouns actually had me looking at the fact that I use 2nd person for feats and items, but 3rd person for classes. After a lot of discussion, I decided to make all of the rules consistent and go with 2nd person.

About 30 Find & Replaces and a lot of proofreading later, we have an Updated Classes Document.

This update not only includes the grammatical and layout changes, but also include a new Wizard class, a few “bug fix” style changes. And perhaps most importantly a change to the Skill system.

One of our goals with the redesign was to reduce the huge cap between high skilled classes and low skilled classes. We were having a class flat bonus plus your Intelligence modifier each level with a much smaller scale of skills(they max at 10 ranks). This way worked, except that Intelligence based classes like Wizard were getting enormous amount of skills. A 10 Intelligence versus a 24 Intelligence was the difference of 70 skill points at level 10.

The new system is on average 2 more skill points from your class, but you only gain your Intelligence modifier once. This will help increase skill points for low Int classes, especially at low levels, while still granting Intelligence based characters more skill points. Intelligence is still an incredibly important stat, since it is important to many of the important skill checks, and can improve your Reflex if you have low Dexterity.

DevLog #33 : Representations

As I was editing the classes document for Apprentice, I was noticing a lot of female pronouns. I choose random pronouns for each class as I wrote it. A friend commented on it so I decided to tally it up, and I was really surprised!

Male Pronouns: 9
Female Pronouns: 7
Neutral Pronouns: 3
Second Person: 2 (Oops. Trying to avoid 2nd person)

So even someone like me who is actively seeking representation can have hidden biases skew their vision. I will be editing the two 2nd person classes into female pronouns and attempt to keep representation numbers to keep myself accountable in the future.

DevLog #32

I have been busy getting Apprentice 0.7.1 PDF and the Quicksheets system ready for release.

In addition, I’ve began writing Fieron’s Journals  entries again. The first of the new set is about Teghar, and includes a map of Ryrin.

Ryrin World MapI will be writing more of these entries as writing exercises.

I’ve also been working on the layouts for Ryrin Tactics. Once we get some more of the art finished, we’ll be previewing the game on Tabletop Simulator, as well as building up towards a new Kickstarter.

 

 

 

 

 

DevLog #31 Barriers

We are almost finished with our redesign of the ninja abilities for Apprentice. One thing that came up was the idea of player created walls. We’ve had multiple spells that created walls, but they really came to the forefront of ninja when two of our 10 elements(Ice and Earth) focus on walls pretty heavily.

I should probably first note that our monsters stats are based on equations. A base monster’s attack is (Level*0.125 +7)level. (Side note, the Level*0.125 is to make up for player’s getting more DR as they level up). So roughly speaking, a base creature deals 7 per level damage. By 10 this is actually 8.3/level.

Roughly speaking, monsters with more than 8 damage per level are the Striker, the Brute, and the Mage’s cool down abilities, while the groups below that threshold are the Defender, the Base creature(before level 8) and the Mage’s at-will attacks.

This made 8 HP/level the perfect wall HP. High damage monsters will be able to break through in a single hit(but still waste their action and limit their movement), while lower damage monsters will take two hits to break through.

If we want “improved walls” to take 2-hits for even high damage monsters while not requiring tons of hits from lower damage monsters.

We used to have walls that gave DR, but unless we are in a ratio of 3/5 for HP to DR, there is very little difference in the scheme of things.