Archive for the D&D 3.5 e Content Category

Use your illusion II

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by boccobsblog

Level 5- While the SC gives us the Illusionist means of quick travel with shadow fade, and the PHBII gives us the classic friend to foe spell allowing the illusionist to manipulate the battlefield.  A very utilitarian spell is the PHB’s shadow evocation.  Consider it like a mini-wish, yes the 20% effect with a failed will save can diminish the potency but the versatility of choosing any evocation spell is pretty handy.  The enemy is in that perfect straight line which is perfect for a lightning bolt but you don’t have that spell… you could really use a gust of wind at that moment to push the blackguard of the cliff.. you got it. 

This is how my Phantasmal Killer would appear...

Level 6- While distraction is the illusionist’s forte, mislead is the perfect combination of magics wrapped into a tight bundle.   You create an illusionary copy of yourself, while at the same time placing yourself in greater invisibility.  You could have the double perform a  variety of tasks, such as attempt diplomacy, or pretend to cast a spell (then vanish), while you place yourself in the perfect spot for further spell casting all while remaining invisible. Not to mention many enemies want to open up with their most effective attacks on a spell-caster and with this spell, they would be likely to waste it on your illusionary double.

Level 7- If you are an illusionist who can cast simulacrum you can create the army of icy copies of doom!  When you kill that mighty red dragon, why not make a half hit die copy, which is at your beck and call (Or how about half a dozen).  Or a couple of half powered doppelgangers of yourself which can buff you for combat before casting invisibility on themselves and making their way to safety.  The possibilities for this spell are really quite endless.

Level 8- Just when your DM has squashed greater invisibility antics with a bunch of see invisibility endowed enemies now comes the paramount invisibility, superior invisibility (SC). The end all be all of invisibility. It prevents detecting the character through any other weird sense, scent, tremors etc. and is not subject to the see invisible spell.   So once again, your illusionist can reign spells down upon their enemies while being completely cloaked.

"For my final plague...I cast weird!

Level 9- The top tier of magic does not present us with many options for illusion. At first glance weird seems like an aoe version of phantasmal killer, which is not too bad.. but then again not seemingly earth shattering until you look at the target area, “Any number of creatures, which cannot be more than 30 feet apart.”   When put to practical use this is a pretty frightening concept…  you know that army of 10,000 bugbears seeking to level the capital city, well now they all must make a save or die.  Imagine if cast in a city environment? How many targets can be chained 30 feet apart?  In a small dungeon, every encounter could be less than 30 feet apart and they would have to confront their greatest fear or die.  For mass slaughter, few spells do better than weird.  Meteor swarm may be flashier but then you have to worry about catching allies and collateral damage, weird is surgical. It allows the caster to choose who in the area will be subject to a horrific death on a biblical scale. 

Overall- Illusion is a school of magic that really is as useful as the player is crafty. While party members might berate the illusionist for his lack of magic firepower, the right illusion can be a party saver.  The right spell for the right situation is always a subject of circumstance. What the spells above illustrate are some illusion spells will make the illusionist much more than just a source of distraction, but a master of fear, shadow, and deception. 

 -Ben

Use your illusion I

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by boccobsblog

Illusionists, in 1st  and 2nd edition, were always the cute and cuddly spell-casters who could make the orc you were fighting grow bunny ears, and whose best option in a scrap was to disappear only to reappear when he whiffed with his puny dagger +1. No more my friends, the illusionist of third edition is the undisputed master of the shadow plane.  In this article, we will look at each spell level and the best options available for the illusionist who wants to be more than the party charlatan. In this article we will make use of the Player Handbook (3.5), the Players Handbook II, and the Spell Compendium, as each of these books has a plethora of useful new spells and are a must have for any 3.5 edition DM’s collection. 

Turn this...

Level 0- One should not overlook the usefulness of zero level spells.  While ghost sound is the only PHB option for illusion spells. However, the spell silent portal from the spell compendium could have its uses.  One could use this spell on a door that the party thief is picking, covering up the noise. Or it could be used to prevent any makeshift alarm traps on a door.  For a zero level spell, it has options, if you are looking for a change in place of your typical ghost sound

Level 1- If your illusionist can tolerate the mockery of his party( about being a leprechaun, for example)the best 1st level illusion spell is, hands down, color spray. While its uses fade for higher-level spell casters, a first level spell that has four different status effects that is pretty tough to beat.  I have seen this spell used on my party at low levels and it practically incapacitated the entire group.  In fact out of the first level offensive spells color spray is probably one of the best spells overall.  Even though it gives a save, its area of effect is a cone.

Level 2- Invisibility is the bread and butter utility spell, which has dozens of uses and most likely will be memorized by an illusionist as soon as he can access 2nd level spells, but what if I were to tell you that by casting a second level spell twice you could kill 90% of monsters of any hit die that you could encounter… because that is what phantasmal assailants (spell compendium) can do for you!  This spell inflicts attribute damage not penalties meaning with a failed save they take 8 wisdom and dexterity damage.  This in itself is useful in making the target easier to hit ( by lowering dex) and easier for your spells to take effect ( by lowering wisdom) but if a second spell is casted within the duration, that is 8 more in attribute damage.  16 wisdom or dexterity loss will incapacitate most foes and if not make them sitting ducks for future mind-breaking illusions. Keep in mind the spell does have a duration, and at the end of which the spell will have no use, but if it is casts consecutively, it could lead to a potent combination.

Into this...

Level 3- Displacement is a very useful defensive buff but let us place another potent combination into our grimoire.  Suspended silence.  Silence is always a useful spell-caster bane.  This version gives us a command word activated ability.  Imagine casting this on one of your ranger’s arrows and having him pelt the lich with them; you speak the command word basically eliminating most of his offensive capabilities. Or using a bit of subterfuge (invisibility perhaps) you cast this spell on the enemy wizard’s favorite magic item.  When combat breaks out you utter the command to leave them spell-less, they must then make the choice to discard the item or go silent.  Plus one would imagine if it were a wand or staff they would be unable to activate it because you have silenced them. 

Level 4- Greater Invisibility is the lynchpin of mages everywhere, as they cloak themselves to reign death upon their enemies with little recourse.  Yet after annoying several DMs with this tactic, eventually more and more enemies will gain the ability to see the invisible, which is when the crafty wizard implements the ever-useful greater mirror Image (PHBII).  This spell not only creates more images than the second level companion, but also makes new images over time.  This makes the wizard practically as protected from attack as invisibility, but it is much harder to counter. 

-Ben

(Next time, we’ll look at level 5-9)

Content Poll

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 3.5e DM Content, Poll, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by boccobsblog

We got some input on what systems people were interested in; and now we’d like to know what type of content you’d like to see.

How to Make Tokens for Any Game System

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content, D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, The Crafty DM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by boccobsblog

It is hard to match the coolness of gaming with 3D miniatures and terrain, but miniatures can get expensive. A cheaper alternative to miniatures is 2D tokens. Tokens have two major advantages over miniatures: they are much cheaper, and you can create a token to accurately match any creature in your game regardless of system or genre.  Best of all, tokens are very simple to make.

Materials List

Time and patience (seriously)                    Circular paper punch

Photo paper                                                       Chipboard

Glue stick                                                            Wax paper

Digital images

Step one

Select the images that you want to make tokens of. You can find anything you need by simply running a Google image search. I take my images directly from Wizards of the Coast. You have to search around (or click this link), to find them, but all the art from all the 3.0/3.5 books can be found free of charge. (That is one problem I have with 4th edition, most of the art galleries require a DDI subscription)

Step two

Once you have the images that you want, paste them into a Word or Publisher document. I have seen other sites mention fancy token making software and Photoshop programs, but you don’t need any of those. Simply paste your images onto a MS Word document placing them in even lines. By double clicking the image on the page, you can adjust its size, color, etc.

For some large pictures, you may want to crop the portion that you intend to use. Again, you don’t need fancy software, your computer’s Paint program will work just fine. Make sure the image is larger than the token. For example, a tiny, small, or medium token will be a one-inch circle, so make you image 1.25 – 1.5 inches to ensure you don’t lose any part of the image when you cut it.

Also, don’t bother trying to make a fancy border around your picture, they are hard to cut out and take up valuable space.

Step three

Once you have your images arranged on a Word document, you’re ready to print them out. Use a high-grade photo paper. It costs more, but the added quality is worth the cost.

Learn from my mistakes. In the past I have tried several different paper types, sticker paper (don’t cut cleanly, and the image is grainy), various cardstocks (any images will be low quality) to name a few, photo paper is your best bet.

Step four

Once your images are printed out, you’re ready to cut. (Note: the printer ink will likely still be wet on your photo paper, so be careful and allow it an hour to dry before messing with it)

Save yourself a world of trouble and purchase a circle cutter from your local scrapbook store. They come in various sizes, and you will need a 1” punch for tiny, small, and medium, a 2” for large, a 3” for huge, a 4” inch for gargantuan, and a 6” for colossal (but you will use this one so rarely you can skip it and cut out squares if you like).

By using these punches, you will save yourself a great deal of trouble and frustration. I started out with just a 1” punch and tried to cut the larger monster into squares. The end product (regardless of the tools used), was not high quality. The circle punch will give you a perfect cut every time and look amazing.

Marvy or EKsuccess brands work well

Step five

Next, you will need to glue the circle onto a sturdier material. Some sites recommend washers, but that can get costly, take up more room and weigh a ton. Just use chipboard (thin cardboard) that you can get for next to nothing at the scrapbook store where you bought your circle punch. Punch out several chipboard circles. Glue your photo paper images onto the chipboard circles with glue and you’re nearly done.  (Note: don’t try and save time by gluing the photo paper to the chipboard and then trying to punch out the images, the photo paper/chipboard combo will be too thick and you’ll get ragged cuts)

Final step

Place your tokens on a flat, hard surface, cover with a piece of wax paper, and place several heavy books on top. Leave the tokens to dry for several hours.

Gygax Memorial Fund

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 4e Content, Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by boccobsblog

Last week we ran an article about the new Tomb of Horrors. That discussion got me thinking about Gary, and his massive impact on millions of people. After I posted the article regarding ToH, it dawned on me that I should have mentioned the memorial fund working to honor Gary with a bronze statue in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I would like to take that opportunity now.

The Gygax Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization led by Gary’s widow, Gail Gygax. You can make a donation on the fund’s website or by writing to Gail directly (her address can be found on the fund’s site). So take a moment and check out the site, and be sure to read some of the testimonials of gamers explaining how much D&D has improved their lives.

If you have it to spare, give something to honor the man who gave us all so much.

-Andy

Tomb of Horrors is back!

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 4e Content, Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2010 by boccobsblog

image found at Wizards.com

Tomb of Horrors is back. If you’re keeping track, this will be the Tomb’s seventh incarnation, eight if you count the novel of the same name. (You would think Acererak would be getting tired of having his ass whooped and move out of the tomb and into a condo in Florida by now.)

The module, written by Gary Gygax, has managed serious staying power since its 1975 debut at Origins 1. The fabled adventure has been reprinted in all four editions of Dungeons and Dragons, its last was released as a free download at Wizards.com on Halloween 2005 to celebrate D&D’s 30th anniversary.

According to Wizards of the Coast, “This D&D adventure is designed for characters of 10th–22nd level and includes a full-color, double-sided battle map designed for use with D&D Miniatures.”

The tomb is set for release on July 20th, 2010.

-Andy

Two Useful Websites for 3.5e (and they’re free!)

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by boccobsblog

The following are two websites that I use frequently, and they have been extremely useful so I thought I would share them with you.

The Hypertext D20 SRD

The SRD (or System Reference Document) is a website that contains all the open license information found in the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual, Epic Level Handbook, Deities and Demigods, and the Expanded Psionics Handbook (Plus the open content from Unearthed Arcana). The site allows for quick reference without the need for costly game books.

The website is laid out in a clear and organized manner so finding what you need is a breeze. The only drawbacks to the site (which are due to legal constraints, not design flaws) are that some content is not available. Anything that is property of Wizards of the Coast will not appear on the site. For example, Mind Flayer, Slaad, and Displacer Beast are copy written creations and cannot be published under the open gaming license.

The site itself is free, but it can be downloaded for greater ease and mobility for ten dollars.

Monster Advancer ™

This site, true to its name, automatically advances the hit dice of the chosen monster. Also, the site has a number of templates that can be applied and then does the math for you. For example, you can select a basilisk, advance it up to 18 hit dice, and apply a fiendish template, click the button and a printer friendly version will appear in a new window. Along with the ability to increase hit dice, and add templates, the site allows you to add levels to your monsters.

I cannot begin to explain how useful this site is for busy DM’s that don’t have the time to sit and rework the monsters in their game. We all know how tedious it can be to add templates, increase the size, and add levels to monsters. The site breathes new life into monsters that your players have outgrown, and allows for maximum use of expensive miniatures. Haven’t been able to use that CR 7 Hill Giant because your party is too powerful? Literally, with two clicks from a drop down menu, you can advance that Hill Giant to 24 hit dice, add ten levels of Barbarian and you have a CR 20 bruiser ready to crush anything in its path.

My only complaint about the site (and it is a small one), is that the ability score increases that each monster receives every four levels are not automatically calculated. That said the advanced entry will have a line that tells the DM how many ability points the monster has accrued.

As with d20srd.org, the site does not have creatures that fall outside of the open game license. The site also has a quickened version of its program as well as a random monster chart generator.

_

Both of these sites are free (though they do appreciate donations from grateful gamers), and they will make planning your games easier and quicker.

-Andy