Friday, November 30, 2012

Pass the Word for VetNet

A quick Public Service Announcement.  I saw this over on Engadget and with one son just out of the Navy, one with 15 months left in the Marines and a nephew back from Afghanistan and getting discharged before Christmas, I'd like pass the word about VetNet.

I remember my transition fifteen years ago and it would have been nice to have had something like this available then.  I also know that there are a lot of gamers who have served, so be a good shipmate and help pass the word.

I realize this is a US centric service Google is providing and having had the pleasure of serving with many of our allies (including a memorable afternoon drinking aboard HMCS Terra Nova off of Haiti), if you are aware of support efforts for veterans in other countries, let me know and I'll help you pass the word for them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Building Campaign Maps with Google and GIMP 3

Ridiculously easy

In the previous post, I had finished editing out all of the roads and labels leftover from the screenshot I had taken in Google Maps.  I want a hex map, I came up when players still bounced routinely between RPGs and Avalon Hill or Strategy and Tactics' board games, all of which were overlayed with a hex grid. I 've tried generating hex grids on computers for thirty years with varying results.  Here I go again.

Start by saving the map as a GIMP *.xcf, that way even if you screw up down the line, there's a back up of all that work you put in to clean up the terrain.  With the xcf file, I'm going to add layers, that way if I put a town in the wrong place, I won't have to re-edit the terrain.  To do that, press Control-L to bring up the Layer dialog. 

I've gone into the Layer Properties and renamed the first layer as 'Terrain', and created two additional layers 'Grid' and 'Player_Knowledge'.  I'll use the latter to control what shows up on any maps I provide to the players.  The little eye icons, control visibility of the layer, 'Grid' is currently invisible.  The highlighted layer indicates which one you are currently editing.

As expected the page icon in the lower left is used to create a new layer.

So, how about that grid. I did a quick Google search in the expectation that someone, somewhere had not only wanted to use GIMP to make a hex grid, but had published direction on how to do it.  What I found was a GIMP 'Script-fu' to do it for me - Hex Grid. Follow the instructions to install the script, then select your Grid layer and Filters->Render->Pattern->Hex Grid.
Change the color to red, reduce the Line Width to 1 pixel and throw in a horizontal offset of half a pixel to avoid edge effects.  A little playing around counting hexes demonstrated that a Side length of 9 pixels gives a scale of approximately one mile center to center on the hexes. I'm not going to worry about the exact scale, (a) I'm limited by technology, I can't make it draw fractions of a pixel, (b) in the Classical world they couldn't agree on the length of measurement either, and (c) it's a play aid, close enough works.

Here's the map from Apollonia to Oricum at 1:1 scale.  I'm also showing the Player_Knowledge layer with the cities and major roads.  Oddly, to me anyway, each name is treated as a separate 'mini-layer' by GIMP, so looking in the Layer dialogue you will also see Layers for 'Apollonia' and 'Oricum'.

As I said at the beginning it's ridiculously easy to add a hex grid in GIMP for tracking overland travel.  In a subsequent post I'll cover how I sited the cities, and start generating smaller communities on a 'Small_Town' layer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

20 Questions

My answers to Jeff Rients 20 Questions. Campaign map at the bottom.

  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
    It's all politics at the top. Powerful individuals get elected to the position of high priest for the social status it brings them. They can do a few divinations, but don't ask them to raise the fighter from the dead. The heavy lifting is done by under priests, who often retired/crippled adventurers such as your character. The good news is that if you can help the high priest, he'll help you. Whether it's straightening out that little mix up that burned the tavern down or knowing where to get that rare Egyptian unguent needed for the potion, the high priest has the connections to help.

  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment? 
    Lissus, Epidamnus, Apollonia can supply you with most of what you want. In particular, Apollonia and Epidamnus are major trading ports on the route to and from Italy and the East. Goods are periodically available in those locations that are usually only available in larger cities. Lychnidus, Oricum and Onchesmus have most standard goods for sale, rarely a single masterwork item. Smaller villages will only have provisions and mundane items.

  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? 
    Sucks to be you. Platemail hasn't been invented yet, nor has half plate. The best you will do is Banded. I'd start with the armorers at the Cohort IXof Legion I Macedonicus in Lissus

  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? 
    Pantarious, as the Egyptian Pan-Twa-Re's name has been latinized. A recent arrival with the new Legate G. Servilius Vatia in Apollonia.

  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land? 
    Lucius Pulcio, retired Roman soldier now serving as Captain of the Guard for Perseus Tuetella, Dynast of Epidamnus. Pulcio single handedly killed an elephant charging his cohort at the battle of Zama, receiving a Civic Crown for his achievement.

  6. Who is the richest person in the land?
    The Legate G. Servilius Vatia is only here temporarily, so Perseus Tuetella, Dynast of Epidamnus is the richest local.

  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing? 
    Apollonia is your best bet, the Temple of Apollo has an attached shrine to his son Asclepius. Also, you can try the Stoa of Apollonia, a group of mages and sages who are willing to try anything to cure someone else.

  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? 
    The Stoa of Apollonia

  9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? 
    No guild, but you can buy temporary library rights from the tutors at the Stoa.

  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? 
    The Stoa of Apollonia for intellectuals.  Lissus, Epidamnus and Apollonia for skilled craftsmen.

  11. Where can I hire mercenaries? 
    Lissus, Epidamnus and Apollonia have ruffians for hire. Not really trained mercenaries, but sailors who like to fight.

  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? 
    Illegal, no. But anything bigger than a shortsword and leather armor gets you marked as a barbarian within the towns. In other words, prices go up and reactions go down (-2).

  13. Which way to the nearest tavern? 
    The upper class entertain each other in their own houses. So all you'll find are neighborhood bars, where prices will go up and reactions down (-2) to strangers, or dives down by the waterfront. 

  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? 
    Nothing near the cities, and anything done up in the mountains will be discounted as occurring in out in the sticks.  You might want to hire someone to write an epic poem about your feat, if fame is that important to you.

  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? 
    Legion I Macedonicus Cohort IX in Lissus is hiring. It's a twenty five year hitch, roll up a new character. Tribal raids from the Illyrians are an occasional annoyance, but haven't gotten past the fortress at Lissus in over twenty years.

  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? 
    Epidamnus. Minimum ten fights, hard to win - yes,  for glory and cash go to Rome.

  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? 
    Not so much secret societies, but people with agendas include Perseus Tuetella, Dynast of Epidamnus, who would like to kick the Romans out and set up the Illyrian kingdom again.  Also, the magician Pantarious is known to have his own agenda, but rumor doesn't agree on what it is.

  18. What is there to eat around here?
    Fish, Goat, Olives, Fruit, Grains.  Wine in the low lands, beer is more common in the mountains.

  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? 
    Jason's Shield, that he used to defeat Medusa, is said to be hidden in the mountains.  It is said to be the first object made out of Bright-Steel by the Miraditorum dwarves.

  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
    A large bronze dragon has been seen along the coast south of Oricum.
Here's the map with the cities shown.  How I went from the terrain to adding in cities and major roads is a subject for another post.

Building Campaign Maps with Google and GIMP 2

Removing labels, roads and borders

In my last post I had taken an image from Google maps and trimmed off the unwanted borders.  Now for a few techniques in taking the map down to just the terrain.

Here I've taken the previous image and zoomed to a 4:1 scale (400% actual size).  I've found this is the largest scale where I can still recognize the terrain while I'm editing. I'm going to remove the label "Kolonje" in this example, it will demonstrate the technique I use to rebuild land forms that were covered by labels.

Use the eyedropper tool (1) to select the lightest color from the surrounding terrain.  The use the paint brush tool (02), set on a convenient shape, such as "Circle (05)" (3) to paint over the lablel (4).

The next step is to use the spray gun tool to rebuild terrain features.  This time select the darkest portion of the feature being rebuilt with the eyedropper and set the spray gun tool to "Fuzzy Circle (03)", this allows the paint to fade out at  the edges.  Draw in the lines you want and then darken the intervening spaces to match the surrounding terrain.

 The last step is to use the eyedropper to select the color of the surrounding terrain and paint over the rest of the label and any roads or other symbols in the area.

Repeat for all the other labels until your map is clean.  It will take several hours, but in the end you'll end up with a map like this.  (In this map, I've stitched together the areas above and below the initial map to build a map of the campaign area).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Gaming Shelf

James over at Grognardia has posted a picture of the gaming references he keeps on hand.  So here's my shelf.
The thick white binder I got at one of the very first 'Supporting Microsoft Windows 95" courses (I attended with the instructors), it contains a copy of the German RPG The Dark Eye (English language version)The Green binder next to it is my battered copy of Chivalry and Sorcery, the red cover edition.  It fell apart back in the early 80's so I transferred it into a binder using a three hole punch on the pages.  What you don't see are the PDF's I've collect on my tablet, Pathfinder and RuneQuest supplements such as Pavis and the Big Rubble, Griffin Mountain, Cult Compendium and Border Lands and Beyond.  Bless you, driveThruRPG!  Somewhere in the basement are my first edition ShadowRun and Traveller books

Building Campaign Maps with Google and Gimp

My campaign has been in hiatus for a few months now while I've been playing Alesmiter; so my batteries are recharged and I'm ready to start planning the next round of adventures.  One of the decisions I've made is to move the campaign location from North Africa to Eprius Nova, the area which we now call Albania.  It gives me adventuring areas closer to an urban center.  Time to make a new map.

I'm using a new technique to make the maps, snapshots of Google maps areas, cleaned up and stitched together using GIMP.  I'm not a GIMP expert by any means, but I've been able to figure out how to do things with it fairly easily.  I'm running a campaign set in a fantasy Roman Republic, just after the fall of Carthage and about 90 years before Gaius Julius Caesar invades Gaul.  So Google Maps can be used to build my campaign world.  Of course, any large scale (small area) fantasy setting could be mapped over piece of the real world terrain using these techniques.

Getting the image - I opened Google Maps to Albania at the 5 mile scale and took a snapshot on my tablet.
I saved the image off onto my laptop and opened it in GIMP.

I used Google Maps - Terrain mode because it gives me an effect I like better than the plain Satellite view or the Earth view.  It does have a limitation in that I can't turn labels off in this view.  So I'll have to deal with them later.  The first thing I'll do is crop the control bars on the top and bottom of the image. 

The cross hairs on the pointer (not shown) identify a point on the image, by hovering over the top of the lower control bar, the pointer location circled in the bottom corner of the screen shows that it's at pixel 752.  Similarly I used the pointer to find the bottom of the top control bar, at pixel 58.  752 -58 gives us an image height of 694.

 Using Image -> Canvas Size from the menu I reach this dialog

Click on the chain icon (1) to decouple the image Width and Height, as we don't need to trim the ends.  Set the desired image height (2).  Set your offset from the top of the image (3) - not sure why the value '58' didn't get captured here.  Select to resize All Layers (4), click Center (5) and then Resize (6).  And you have successfully trimmed your image.

In my next post I'll cover techniques for getting rid of those pesky labels, modern roads and borders from the image.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thoughts on Role Playing

It's fun to get together with the group, catch up and roll some dice, but I really enjoy the role playing aspect.  In particular, coming up with the role I'm going to play with this character.

The first piece of developing a role is to establish a backstory.  Different games provide the players with different requirements for the backstory, 1e has a table of professions, 2 and 3.x didn't have anything that I used.  Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing (WFRP) has you generate what the character is doing for  living; Chivalry and Sorcery started with two pages of tables laying out your birth order, standing in society and whether or not you were the Black Sheep of the family.
Now, the backstory does not need to be terribly elaborate, a single hook can be enough to for you to know how to play the character.  In one case I was playing a halfling barbarian armed with a warhammer, I came up with the hook that he had been an enforcer for the Hobbit Thieves Guild (thank you Fineous Fingers).  With that hook and class, I then decided that as a halfling, his specialty would be kneecapping the opposition, which gave me his nickname 'The Kneecapper'.   When the dice rolls showed that the character had noticed the same shadowy figure watching the party as he had seen earlier, the character's response was obvious, the pint sized Conan waked up to her and said, 'I never forget a pair of knees, what are you doing here, doll?' - or words to that effect.   Attacking the watcher, alerting the party, or any other option simply wouldn't have fit  the character's personality.  Later when the party visited a city, everyone else was running around searching for more and more powerful magic items to buy, I gave some thought to his actions.  Conan never upgrades his equipment unless it's been broken or failed him somehow, so no upgrades for the Kneecapper.  Barbarians like shiny things and blow their money on wine, wenches (a term my wife loathes) and gaudy toys.  The look on the DM's face when he asked me what the character was doing and I asked him for a price on having my armor gold plated will warm my memory forever.  Sure, I could have gone out and bought a +3 warhammer and armor of never being hit, but that would have been the player buying it and not the character.  Nor would it have been nearly as enjoyable for everyone.

Most players seem to come up with at least a sketchy backstory, but character goals seem to have disappeared since 1e.  Two of my 1e characters established territories around Lake Whyestil in the original Greyhawk campaign setting.  Since then, I haven't seen a game that addresses how these powerful characters can settle down and fit into their society.  I think of it as the WoW effect, all electronic games are heavily scripted, the more options they present to the player, the more scripts they can execute, but it's an illusion of freedom,  you can never deviate from the actions the developers have allowed.  The action the developers allow is for the player to advance his character to evermore powerful levels.  Now this makes perfect sense in electronic games, particularly MMO's where the developer or at least the host has an economic interest in keeping the player playing.  Breaking this limitation in RPGs adds to the enjoyment for the players.  Whether the character retires to NPC status or is simply referenced in the name of an inn their new characters visit on a later adventure, it adds to the sense that they have helped create the world you're sharing with them.

 And if you want the character to retire after they've earned enough gold to buy that inn, well why not?  A good DM can certainly use that as a springboard to new adventures, anything from catching a persistent burglar to dealing with an infestation of kobolds in the beer cellar.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TSR Returns?

Both Gamers and Grognards and Grognardia are reporting that TSR has been resurrected by Tim Kask and will be publishing Gygax Magazine starting next month. Reportedly Phil Foglio and Rich Burlew are signed on to produce comics. Going to gygaxmagazine.com takes you to a sign up page for notification when the magazine is published.  Now if they can do raise dead on Fineous Fingers....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Converting D&D 3.0 to Pathfinder - Feats, Encumbrance and Spells

The (probably) last post in the series will cover a fairly eclectic list of the pieces of the character sheet that we haven't covered to date.


Big changes here again, the first two eTools feats were granted powers of the War domain.  Those have gone away, so I spent the feat I earned at third level to take Weapon Focus again.  I do not need to retake the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat, as all Clerics now have proficiency with their deities favored weapon. Clerics of Tharizdun in the Greyhawk campaign lose out on this rule - "Spiral of decay (no equivalent weapon)".  But Orlin is back to where he started having only suffered the loss of feat slot.


Almost forgot this area of the character sheet.  No changes for the character, but the rules for learning languages have changed.  They no longer cost skill points, sort of, rather the Linguistics skill allows you to select one language for each skill point you buy in it.  Also, barbarians are no longer illiterate.  Drunk and Thunk now have a use for books other than starting fires and cleaning themselves.


eTools Spells

Pathfinder Spells

Looks like a bigger change that it really is.  And it's a change for the better to me.  Instead of three pages of spells for a second level cleric (eTools prints every Cleric spell in it's book because it treats them as all being in the cleric's 'spellbook'); Pathfinder just gives you a space to list the spells your character knows.

I've found in the past that it's easier to look up a spell in the Player's Handbook than it s to search for it in the sheaf of papers, so I'm happy to see it.

For playing purposes I just list my default spells here and use a scratch sheet or note card to track the spells the character actually has prepared and used.  It's the same way I've managed spells for magic users in the past.

0 level spells are prepared, but not used up as explained below under Special Abilities.  Cure Minor Wounds (curing 1 hp) has been replaced by Stabilize (stops character from dying).  So I can't heal the party one hp at a time under that rule.

The spells conform to the changes made between 3.0 and 3.5, so buffs have a duration of minutes, not hours.  The duration issue certainly affected my spell choice.  Why waste a slot on a one shot buff that only lasts for a single combat?

Domains have changed considerably, as I've alluded to various times in these posts.  Most of the changes I'll cover under Special Abilities, but one that I'll call out here is a revision to the Domain spell lists.  The Travel domain first level spell (which I didn't take) is new 'Longstrider' - adds 10' to your movement base.  previously it was 'Expeditious Retreat', which doubled your speed.

Special Abilities

This is a busy section and I'll concentrate on the differences between the two.  Much of this may have been covered in previous posts, but I'll reiterate, just to make sure.

New and modified Racial Traits - 'Slow and Steady', dwarves are not slowed by armor or encumbrance penalties.
'Greed' - +2 on Appraise checks of non-magical items containing gems or precious metals.
'Hardy' - the ++2 save vs poison has been expanded to include spells and spell like abilities.
'Stability' - brand new, as the Combat Maneuver Defense statistic is brand new.  Helps defend against two of the maneuvers.

Cleric Features.  As mentioned previously, Heavy Armor Proficiency has been lost.  Also Shield Proficiency no longer includes Tower Shields.  On the plus side - every cleric is now proficient with their deity's favored weapon.
'Aura' is new, it answers the long running question - does the Evil cleric show up on a Detect Evil spell?  The answer is they do now.
'Channel Energy' - replaces (ad simplifies) turning undead.  Channeling energy directly damages undead in a 30 foot radius.  It's usable multiple times a day.  It can also be used as a mass cure.
'Orisons' - as I mentioned under spells, 0 level spells are not expended when cast; but only a fixed number of spells can be prepared per day.  In effect, 0 level spells are treated as Sorceror or Bard spells.

Domain Powers.  The domain powers have been replaced by lesser abilities.  Travel used to provide Freedom of Movement against magical obstructions.  Now you can ignore terrain restrictions.  War was great domain, it provided two free feats.  Now, although the one feat is replaced by the Favored Weapon rule above, all you get is the ability to give one ally at a time a +1 damage bonus for one round.  Pretty much a downer.


eTools Encumbrance

Pathfinder Encumbrance

 Finally, the last topic I have to cover in these posts.  And it's not a very long one.  The ranges for encumbrance values have not changed.  On the other hand, it wouldn't matter for this character, as dwarves are not slowed by heavy loads.

Instead of listing every piece of armor and weapons individually, I've simply totaled the weights for what the character is actually carrying.  I believe I said earlier that the Great Axe has gone on a diet and is down to twelve pounds in weight.

One innovation I do like is Pathfinder providing the amount of weight that the character can lift over their head, lift off the ground or drag.

That wraps up this series of posts on converting to Pathfinder.  If you have any questions, please contact me by email or leave a comment.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Converting D&D 3.0 to Pathfinder - Skills

As I warned in the last post, we're going to throw out old skill set and re do it from scrtach.  Before we do let's compare the skill blocks from eTools and Pathfinder.

eTools and Pathfinder Skill Blocks

The layouts are similar and many of the names are the same, but there are significant differences.  Search, Spot and Listen are gone, Pathfinder rolls them into a Perception Skill.  The changes are laid out in the Conversion Guide, so I won't rehash them in detail here.

A even bigger change is in Class vs Cross Class skills.  As you can see from the Pathfinder Skill block, the concept of Class Skills still exists, but Cross Class skills have gone away.  If you want your Paladin to be good at Picking Pockets, then throw some skill points into Sleight of Hand.  Each skill point buys you on rank of any skill you want.  So what's the purpose of having Class Skills?  Now you get a bonus for putting a skill point into a Class Skill instead of being penalized for purchasing Cross Class skills.  The first skill point you place in a Class Skill gets you a three point bonus to that skill. You can see the bonus reflected in the scores for Appraise, Heal and Profession - Brewer.

The impact of these changes is so great, that I recommend you recalculate your total skill points and start over from the beginning in buying Ranks.  If there is a skill you're using a lot (such as Graven looking for traps and opening locks - the "strange rituals" referred to in the Expedition posts), I doubt that you'll forget to put points into them.

 The way I've read the rules, this is a bonus to the skill, not additional ranks, so I've entered it into the right hand column.  This is an important distinction for Linguistics, as you get an additional language for each Rank you have in the skill. 

I'm also assuming that even though I haven't put ranks into all of the Class Skills, the character has been trained in them.  His modifier of -1 in the various Knowledge skills reflects his low intelligence, presumably he skipped class a lot.

I've used parentheses to indicate conditional values, in both the Total Bonus and Miscellaneous Modifier columns.  The actual conditions are listed at the bottom of the Skill block.

Skills and Advancement - Pathfinder contains a statement that when you add a level to your Favored Class (which is no longer restricted by race) you may either add an additional hit point OR add an additional skill point.  As our DM has ruled that you get 1/2 a hit die +1 for each level I'm unsure if that +1 refers to this bonus or not.  We'll need to get clarification on that.

Maximum Skill Ranks - One of the statistics removed from Pathfinder's Skill Block is the Maximum Ranks.  As there's no longer a difference between Class and Cross Class skills for purchasing ranks,  You can never have more Ranks in a Skill than you're total number of Hit Dice.  Which is the reason that I determined that the Class Skill bonus is not added to your actual Ranks in the Skill.

That wraps up Skills and the front page of the Pathfinder character sheet.  I still have Feats, Special Abilities, Spells and Encumbrance on the back page to cover in later posts.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Converting to D&D 3.0 to Pathfinder - Attacks, Armor and Weapons

As the title says, here's the next set of conversions.  Things are beginning to deviate noticeably from D&D.


eTools Attack Block
 Let's get the similarities out of the way before we discuss the differences, because there's only one.  The Base Attack Bonus - the change between the blocks from +1 to +2 is because I reached 3rd Level after the last adventure.

While Pathfinder has jettisoned the statistic blocks for Melee and Ranged combat it calculates the bonuses exactly the same as D&D 3.0.  Since the statistic block is gone, you'll see below how I've annotated the individual weapon blocks.
Pathfinder Attack Block

Grapple is gone completely, this is a major, and I might say a 30 year over due, change to the system.  I recall a Dragon article quoting Gygax saying that he'd been talked into the complex grappling system in AD&D and used a simpler system in his own campaign. 

So much for the oft quoted admonishment from the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide that if you modified the rules you weren't playing AD&D.

Instead Pathfinder uses "Combat Maneuvers", a concept that includes Bull Rush, Disarm, Grapple, Overrun, Sunder and Trip attacks.    The game mechanic for all of these is that you make an attack roll, substituting your CMB (Combat Maneuver Bonus) for your regular attack bonus.  Instead of an opposed roll, it's a Difficulty Check with the DC set as your opponents CMD (Combat Maneuver Defense).  It sounds sweet and simple and I look forward to trying it out in the game.


eTools Weapons Blocks

Pathfinder Weapons Blocks
The blocks are almost identical, I've added some information that I find useful to the Pathfinder block that eTools didn't fill in in it's blocks.

Leveling up explains the difference in the attack bonus for the Great Axe. Besides my Base Attack the bonus includes the Masterwork quality of the Weapon and the Weapon Focus - Great Axe feat that I received for free as with the War domain.   That free feat went away in Pathfinder, on the other hand all clerics are now proficient with their deities favored weapons.Pathfinder adds feats at odd levels, so I 'paid' for the feat again with the one I just earned.

The differences for the club is that in eTools I had equipped it as the primary weapon paired with a dagger.  That gave it a -4 on the attack roll, which neatly canceled out the attack bonus.
Pathfinder doesn't have the extra room to spell out weapon type, so I've abbreviated Slashing and Bludgeoning with a single letter.  In the club's Attack Bonus block is one of those additions I've made, where I show both the Melee and Ranged attack bonuses.  I've added the threat range to the Critical stat block, because I find it handy to have in front of me.

Pathfinder has dropped the weapon weight stat, so you don't see that the Great Axe has gone on a diet and dropped eight pounds.  This change will bring me down to a light load in a future post.


eTools Armor

Pathfinder Armor
One of the unresolved issues eTools has was poor pagination.  The first page was always too long and carried over to a stub second page with one or two skills and in this case, the bottom line of the armor block, which I edited out of the illustration for clarity.

As discussed in the section on Armor Class, the AC has gone up, the Armor Check Penalty has gone down too.  Otherwise there's little to discuss, again I pointed out in the previous post that as a dwarf the character is no longer slowed by armor or encumbrance.  Mind you, the easiest way for a dwarf to beat an elf in a foot race is to let the pointy eared bugger get ahead of you and shoot him in the back with a crossbow.  Usain Bolt is definitely not related to these guys.

Enough for this post, next up is Skills where we boldly throw out what we've done before.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Converting from D&D3.0 to Pathfinder

  After ten or more years of playing D&D 3.0, we're finally upgrading to a new system - Pathfinder.  We never adopted 3.5, mostly I believe because of the cost involved.  We all had better things to invest in than another set of books.  4.0 to me, sounded like lets play World of Warcraft with pen and paper, so I never pushed to make that jump either.  Pathfinder has been out for awhile now under the Open Gaming License and is often referred to D&D 3.75.  That suits our style well.

While there are Pathfinder character generators out there, I haven't tried them yet. This post or more likely series of posts will walk through manually converting from D&D 3.0 to Pathfinder.

Useful Tools

Since I've been playing off of my tablet, I've saved the D&D 3.0 Character Sheet (eTools) as a PDF and then used Acrobat Reader's new editing capabilities to make notes on the document.  The Pathfinder character sheet is included in the PDF version of the core rules, and is also freely available from Piazo.  Piazo also has a nice downloadable PDF of Conversion Rules from D&D3.5.  I haven't found any discontinuities in those conversion rules while working with 3.0.

Piazo Links  (as of 11/09/2012)
Character Sheet
Conversion Guide
There is also a PDF on Character Traits available from Piazo.  These have the flavor of the Regional Feats from the Forgotten Realms source books.  Our DM, Mike has not indicated that we can have these, so I'll ignore them for now.

Another very good link to online information on Pathfinder is the Pathfinder_OGC web site.
And if you don't have it already, go out to Adobe and download the latest version of Acrobat Reader

Starting the Conversion

D&D 3.0 Character Sheet Header
eTools Header
The header contains very basic information about the player and the character.  Few changes are required in this area.

Pathfinder Header
 All that I've needed to do is advance the level count and  add the size and gender.  I added the homeland  "Tavern" and filled in the hair and eyes based on the miniature I use.

Ability Scores

eTools Ability Scores
Pathfinder Ability Scores

Do a straight transfer of the ability scores to the Pathfinder sheet.  Notice that the character's wisdom has jumped two points.  This is a new racial modification in Pathfinder for dwarves.  The modifier progression is the same in both systems.

Hit Points, Speed, Armor Class, Initiative and Saving Throws

eTools Hit Points
  Here we see the old statistic block.  You notice that I had edited the PDF to reflect Mike's ruling on Hit Point gains on advancement. (1/2 Hit Die + 1 + Constitution Modifier).  The new statistic block is more compact.

Pathfinder Hit Points

As I've advanced to Level 3, my hit points are now 21 + 1/2(8)+1+4 = 30.

Note that Hit Die sizes have increased for Bards, Rangers, Rogues, Sorcerors and Wizards.  They receive an extra 2 HP at first level and 1 HP at every succeeding level.

Speed, not a statistic we usually worry about.  eTools gave us a very minimalist box.  Pathfinder expands it considerably.
eTools Speed

Pathfinder Speed

I believe that the SQ in the Pathfinder boxes stands for 5 foot squares, but I haven't found the reference yet.  Notice that my speed has gone up from 15 to 20 in Pathfinder.  There's a reason for that: a new Dwarven Racial Trait - Slow and Steady, dwarves' speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.

eTools Armor Class

Pathfinder Armor Class

Notice in the eTools format where it's been edited to reflect the suit of Plate Armor I picked up during the last adventure?  Now notice that my Armor Class in Pathfinder is lower than the Full Plate value in eTools, yet higher than the crossed out Chainmail value.  Pathfinder Clerics no longer have the Heavy Armor feat.  I've had to change back into my Medium Armor chainmail.  Good thing I haven't had a chance to sell it.  That's why it's lowered, but Pathfinder adds one to most armor classes, so my chainmail is now a +6 instead of a +5. Pathfinder also adds a convenient box for AC Modifiers.

Pathfinder Spell Resistance

Way at the tail end of the eTools stat block lives Spell resistance, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the armor you're wearing.  Pathfinder has broken it out into a separate block.

eTools Initiative

Pathfinder Initiative
 No changes in Initiative.

eTools Saves
 The only differences between these blocks are the increase in my reflex save for going from 2nd to 3rd level and I filled in the modifiers that eTools had left blank.

Pathfinder Saves

That's enough for one post.  My next post will feature Attacks, Weapons and Armor.

The Third Expedition

Slick says his name is Graven Runehouse, I still think he's running from someone.  But maybe he just wants to learn how to be a real dwarf.  The dragon said to call him "Flash", he's definately avoiding someone.

Flash likes to play riddles, I won his contest today.  Thunk wasn't feeling well, he stayed with Flash and the wagon while we went into the dungeons.

Graven continues to perform his rituals before the doors.  We found an old wooden idol, I couldn't figure out which deity it was for.  Maybe I should have paid more attention in school, but they all look alike to me.  Hanseath is always easy to find, there's beer.

In the next room we found a gnoll and a spotted wolf.  Graven fell down after the wolf bit him.  The gnoll hit him with an axe too.  I killed them both.  His axe wasn't as good as mine.  We found some gold and a wand.  It has a faint transmutation glamour. Niether Graven nor I could determine what it does.  Drunk found a sliding panel.

When he opened the panel we saw a pile of coins n the floor.  Drunk thought there might be a hole in the floor.  He suggested that we throw the body of the gnoll into the room.  So we did, it bounced.Drunk went in to pick up the coins, a weird greenish one legged monster with many arms phased in behind him and stole a pouch.  Then it phased out before we could attack it.  I skipped the courses on creatures from other planes to work on my brewing.  Now I wonder if that was as good of an idea as I thought it was at the time.

In the next room we found four zombies, they hit me several times.I rekilled two of them, including the one Graven had decorated with tassels.  Drunk killed the other two.  We found some plate armor just my size.  As I was putting it on that green thing popped back in, I hit it with the greave I was holding, Drunk and Graven hit it too.  It went away again.

We found a cauldron under a haystack.  What an odd place to put a cauldron.  It had a fancy candlestick, some gems and fifty very nice crossbow bolts.  Drunk and Graven split the crossbow bolts.

Then we left and rested a day and two nights.

We went back in and found a room with two lizard men.  I ran in and killed one, Drunk killed the other.. We took their weapons and two gems we found.  Graven said Drunk's lizard wasn't dead yet, so he made sure it was.

Before Graven finished his rituals at the next door, two lizard men opened it and hit him.  When they did a portcullis fell down behind us, trapping the lizard men so they couldn't get away.  I killed them both, then I healed Graven because he wasn't feeling well.

Graven continued with those rituals that keep getting him hurt.  I'm a cleric, but this kid has got what looks to be a terminal case of religion.  We found some scented oil in one room and a secret door in another.  Behind the door were six zombies.One of them hit Drunk hard, I rekilled three of them, Drunk rekilled two of them and Graven rekilled one with nothing but tasseled darts.  We thought that was pretty slick.

We didn't find anything of interest in the dungeon, so we left and looked for another one on the map our employers furnished.  I won another riddle game with Flash.

We found another dungeon.  Graven continues his rituals.  This time there were three lizard men behind the door.  We each killed one, we found some gold and gems and a wand with a faint glamour of enchantment.  We couldn't figure this one out either.  Drunk wasn't feeling good so I healed him.

There was a flaming dwarf in the next room.  He was a real hot head.  He hit and I woke up back at the wagon.  Graven and Drunk had carried me out.  They had the hot head's kilt, it made of some woven metal.

Several days later when I was feeling better we went back in.  The first room had a coatrack, a corpse and a wardrobe.  No light post in the wardrobe, I checked.  The room also had a secret door.

Drunk showed Graven how to open the next door.  He found a hole in the floor, Graven fell in when he tried to cross it.  We went and got the wardrobe and put it across the hole.  All we found in the room were two empty flasks.  I'll use them for holy water.

Drunk fell in the hole in front of the next door.  We used the wardrobe again.  When we opened the door there were two gnolls waiting.  Drunk and I killed them.  We found some gold and a scroll with Levitate and Mage Armor.  Graven found a hidden area with more gold, some platinum and a great axe.  It's better than my old one so I took it.

We found two ghouls in the next room.  One bit and clawed me, I killed it and Drunk killed the other.  I wasn't feeling well, so I healed myself.  While I doing that they found a smoke stick, an electrum dagger with a star ruby in the pommel - not very sharp.  And Drunk found another hole in the floor, he didn't fall in this one.  Graven wen in it and came out with more platinum and a potion, it's brown with a syrupy flecked appearance, tastes salty.

Then we found a room with a corpse in a bathtub.  Pretty old.Past that room we found a ramp leading down.

We opened the first door and found a blubbery thing.  Drunk and Graven ran away, I cast Magic Weapon on my new axe.  The blubbery thing, I think it's called a dretch, made a big greenish cloud it smelled just like my mum's cabbage surprise.  I hit him with my axe and he went away.  I found some gold and a needle sword.  I don't like them they're too bendy.  But it nice and has faint transmutation glamour (+1).  i gave to Graven when they returned.

When we opened the door out of the room, the next rom was too dark for us to see into it.  We decided to come back later.

The next room had a giant skeleton.  It hit Graven and he fell down.  Drunk got mad and smashed it.  It took all my healing to get Graven up enough to walk out on his own.  We waited three days before we went back into the dungeon.  I lost at riddles with Flash.

We went back to the giant skeleton room and found some gold, gems and very nice long sword.  Nobody wants it.

Something odd happened in the next room.  There a=was a halfling named Artifinn Higgy.  He said he'd been trapped in there for over a week.  We took him with us so he could show Graven how to open doors.

We found two troglodytes in a room, they smell just like my mum's cabbage and pickled rat casserole.  Mr Higgy wasn't a halfling, he turned into some kind of a bat and kept stinging Graven. Graven killed it after I hit it with my axe.  I think it was an imp.  I really shouldn't have skipped those classes.

We found a ghoul in the next room I killed it.  Drunk broke his armor.  Then we went back and searched Mr Higgy's room.  We found some gold and a wand with a faint glamour of illusion.

We went back to the dark room, we could see some coins on the floor again.  Two darkmantles attacked us, one grabbed Graven's head and he fell down.  I stablized him while Drunk killed the other.  The one from Graven's head hit me then I killed it.  We found some copper and some smoke sticks. That was the last of the dungeon, we didn't capture anything for our employers.