Sat, 29 January 2011
Hey everyone, we're back after a short break. We were having an argument with our account but Chris beat it into submission with the Baseball Bat of Justice (+2) and it all worked out. You should see another MasterCast episode soon too. Enjoy!
Topic 1 [1:56]: Our favorite RPG systems
Topic 2 [14:19]: Playing Something Different (Playing Children, Crossing Gender Lines, and Aliens)
Topic 3 [26:25]: Top 5 Favorite Video Games
Topic 4 [52:35]: Gamer Shame
Character Concept of the Week [1:07:58]: The Coward
Direct download: KTDPE_e8_-_Adam_Cruises_the_Porn_Forums_to_Play_Something_Different.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:27am EDT
Fri, 28 January 2011
Hey guys, Jim here. Turns out we have this nifty blog feature here at Kicked in the Dicebags and I figured I'd get some use out of it by tossing up a product review or two. Up today we have a preview of the upcoming D&D 4e Fortune Cards. I was fortunate enough to get a hold of half a box of these cards through DMing D&D Encounters. After doling out a couple packs to the group I still had quite a few left over so I decided to try them in my home campaign.
Dungeons and Dragons Fortune Cards: Shadow Over Nentir Vale
Produced By: Wizards of the Coast
Game Line: Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition
What Are They: Fortune Cards are an upcoming optional addition to 4th Edition D&D. Basically they are CCG style collectable cards that provide minor tricks your character can perform or enhancements to your abilities. The scope of the powers are something like rotating, one shot feats.
The cards are divided into three categories: Attack, Defense, and Tactic. Attack cards modify your attack powers, examples include the Careful Aim card, which allows you to omit one creature from an area attack power, letting your Wizard drop a fireball on that group of monsters that are crowding your party's fighter without nuking Fytor as well; or the Reckless Violence card which allows you to take a -2 to your attack roll and grant combat advantage until the start of your next turn but gain a +4 bonus to your damage. Defense cards give you more defensive options, such as negating conditions like dazed or forced movement, or gaining bonuses to your defenses if you meet the criteria presented in the card. For example the Live and Let Live card allows you to gain +4 to all defenses until the end of your next turn, but can only be played on a turn where you do not make an attack. Tactic cards are a bit more versatile. They provide bonuses to movement, or allow you to move in a certain way that you may not normally be able, such as the Trained Advance card which allows you to shift one square when an ally within 5 squares uses a move action to shift. Tactic cards also provide other effects that don't fall under the purview of Attack and Defense cards, such as granting an ally a saving throw, or letting them take 10 on their next save or skill check.
A worry I think that many will have is that these new cards could lead to a Magic: The Gathering style power creep in which the players with the most money will end up having the most powerful characters as they can buy boosters until they get the best cards. Some may also be concerned that to use the cards at all they will have to invest a large amount of cash. WotC seems to have taken these concerns into account. Firstly, much like the Gamma World card boosters WotC stresses the fact that the boosters are optional, a group that wants to play D&D does not need to buy them but can if they want to add the extra element to their game. Second, the buy in cost is kept quite low. The cards are sold in 8 card booster packs for four bucks and a group looking to try them out can opt to have each player buy one booster and use it as their deck. Players can opt to collect more cards to build a custom deck, but from the 40+ different cards (out of a set of 80) that I've seen none of them seem overwhelmingly better than the others. Some are better in a specific situation, or more generically useful but as a whole the cards seem to take 4e's dictum of game balance to heart, not allowing any one card to be game breaking.
Using the cards is fairly simple, but took a little explanation for my group. At the start of an encounter each player draws a card. The card will tell them when it can be played and what it does. If they use the card it is discarded. At the end of their turn a player can either: draw a new card if they don't have one, keep their card, or discard their card and draw a new one. All my players picked up the idea though they had to be told a few times when they could draw or discard and sometimes forgot the cards were there . A few reminders though and the cards fit into the game without any trouble.
The random nature of the cards can effect how the players thinking an encounter and how they react to different situations. For example in the adventure I ran my group through using the cards, the players were infiltrating a keep that had been taken over by a mercenary group who had locked the rightful ruler of the land in the dungeon. The players sneaked up to the keep but were spotted as they scaled the castle wall and a fight broke out on the ramparts and in the courtyard of the keep. The party's fighter drew the Stand Firm card, which allows him to negate one forced movement. Seeing this and seeing that their is a guard tower nearby that could contain reinforcements he chose to run up and try to block the tower door to buy time for the rest of the part to get over the wall and properly situated for the coming battle.
Players can build their own decks of multiples of 10 cards, using 3 of each type plus one other card of any type for every 10 in their deck. This provides an extra degree of character customization, which is great for groups playing the Essentials line as their are not very many points at which you can make your character mechanically distinct from other characters of the same class compared to “regular” 4e. Some cards lend themselves to certain roles, but most are generically useful and serve more to add flavour and interesting options to any character.
I've always been of the school of thought that the mechanical options in a game system should not only be tactically useful, but be able to reflect the character's personality in some way. Fortune Cards provide an excellent way of doing this. For example let's say I wanted to build a pirate captain character who was a chronic gambler with a penchant for taking long shot risks. So I build my character, lets say I make him a ranger, since dual cutlasses sounds awesome. Then I go to my collection of Fortune Cards. Knowing that my character is a risk taker several cards stand out to me, Gambler's Dodge and Gambler's effort seem fitting. Gambler's dodge lets me make a saving throw when I take damage and if I succeed I only take half damage. Gamblers Effort lets me roll a d20 when I make an attack, on a 1-9 I fumble in some way and only deal half damage, but on a 10+ I get a damage bonus. Very in keeping with the risk taking pirate captain. Other cards lend themselves to other personality types, like Distracting Banter could be used for a smart mouthed character or a charismatic, silver tongued type character or Might Makes Right and Gang Up could be used for a brutal gang leader or warlord type character.
Final Word: Fortune Cards add an interesting new element to 4th Edition D&D and allow for interesting character customization. The fact that they can only use one randomly determined card per turn seems to encourage some creative thinking from players and makes combats less predictable. If I had to point out cons in them I'd point to the fact that they could get expensive if a player was dedicated to collecting them all just like any collectable cards, and the fact that it is an extra physical item to tote around and keep organized; something that can be burdensome when you already have to worry about toting around notes, maps, miniatures, dice, pencils, snacks etc to your game sessions.
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Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EDT