Digital Changeling

May 16, 2012

Why WotC’s Sexism in Gaming Art Article Made Me Happy

Filed under: D&D,Feminism,Games — Eva @ 12:47 am

WotC recently published a post titled Sexism in Fantasy that’s caused a lot of mixed reactions. I want to talk about why the article, if not it’s content, made me happy.

I see myself as a feminist. I know by putting that out there at the beginning I’m raising a lot of expectations about what I care about, how I react to things, and what I’m likely to defend. I’m also a relatively laid back person, despite some of my blog rants, and I’ve been through a long journey trying to understand sexism and feminism. For me this journey was many small cycles of “not getting it” punctuated by bursts of insight as I incorporated new ideas into my worldview. I grew up in the gaming world and for a long time I was so used to how things are that the roots and implications of the many traditions were invisible to me.

I’ve also watched many of my friends go through various cycles of getting and not getting aspects of sexism, racism, and other -isms. I’m not going to claim to be super enlightened… I mess up on ableism issues all the time… but I’ve reached a point where that cycle is familiar to me.

When I read WotC’s article what I saw was Jon Schindehette going through one of the early cycles of trying to understand sexism. He was “not quite getting it” and honestly if he’s just starting to struggle with these issues, I can’t blame him for not understanding them all at once. I’ve been there and I’ve fallen in the same pitfalls. I wish he had gotten further along before he wrote a public article… but he has my empathy as to why getting there takes time.

Jon tried to approach the problem logically and understand what sexism is and what it’s doing to gaming. He fell short on three fronts. One is that he didn’t do enough research on discussion that’s already taking place in the online community. Blogs like Go Make Me a Sandwich contain lots of resources that include frank discussion of the sort he’s trying to elicit. Tumblrs like Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor include loads of beautiful examples of art that’s attractive and pretty while presenting characters who look like people rather than toys. The fact that Jon didn’t bring up any of these resources makes me suspicious that he didn’t do this kind of research. He tried to start from square one by himself and he suffered for it. It’s a lot easier if you build on the work others have already done. ;)

The second problem Jon ran into was that he got into his logical investigation and backed off when he was starting to get somewhere. The definition of sexism he found, which seems quite reasonable to me, was, “Sexism is defined as having an attitude, condition, or behavior that promotes stereotyping of social roles based upon one’s gender.” That’s a good start. After talking about it for a bit he failed to take the next step and investigate gender roles.

To start understanding how sexism could promote stereotyping, you need to ask: “what gender roles might we be perpetuating?” Wikipedia has a good overview of historical gender roles. However, in the last 30 years, gender roles have changed. The “perfect submissive wife” ideal is not what our societal norms think women should be anymore. Unfortunately, there are still some very damaging gender roles out there for men and women.

One of the ones that hurts women the most is the idea that they must always be physically attractive and sexually available for men. This is sometimes called the Beauty Myth, and it’s the big problem one Jon missed. The Beauty Myth says a woman can be a brilliant rocket scientist, but if she isn’t also pretty, she’s not really worthwhile as a woman and no one will love her.

One of the roles that hurts men the most is the idea that they can only succeed financially and aren’t particularly physically attractive to women. This is also called the Success Myth. This is rather insidious because the Success Myth says that an average man needs to find a high paying job if he wants any hope of attracting a woman. If he suffers setbacks in his career or prefers to do something that is low paying, then he’s worthless and no one will love him.

Here’s a good summary of these two roles and how they hurt us from a male perspective.

The twin roles define a lot of our popular culture and they bleed into our fantasy as well. The Beauty Myth is why people fixate on making female characters beautiful even when “beautiful” crosses the line into impractical and unrealistic. The Success Myth is why we’re still unbelievably stuck on the “guy succeeds and then guy gets the girl” story plot.

Back to Jon… the third thing that I think went wrong for him is that he stumbled into some very basic fallacies talking about an -ism. This is a pretty common mistake and while embarrassing, isn’t all that surprising. Fallacy one is to assume that whatever went before is ok by virtue of being tradition. This was mostly justified by “market forces” in the article. If all tradition was free of -isms life would be sunshine and kittens and I wouldn’t have to write any blog posts in the ‘feminism’ category. :)

More seriously, a lot of people think “feminism happened, sexism is done now, right?” and sadly the answer is no. It takes a long time to change culture and there’s a lot of momentum. That’s not to say we need to flip out and throw all of our traditions out the window tomorrow. We can start by calmly taking a step back and making a few rational changes at a time towards a better, less -ism filled world.

The second fallacy Jon made was while talking about his three images. He got a bit muddy because he couldn’t see the modern roles affecting them and drifted into the “it’s really all opinion, anyway” argument. There is some opinion in everything, I agree. Sadly the existence of a systemic problem in media and in gaming media specifically isn’t really up for debate. It’s been discussed at length by a lot of people, especially authors. You can’t use the fact that some people can’t identify prejudice to justify prejudice not existing at all… that’s downright Paranoia levels of circular logic.

I want to be clear: being a bit blind to sexism doesn’t mean you’re some sort of horrible misogynistic asshole who’s running around saying terrible things all the time, it just means you haven’t quite figured out how to see sexism hidden in the world around you. All of us have been there, you don’t need to be ashamed of it, just do your best to keep an open mind and learn. :)

The final fallacy that Jon fell into was the “a few people complained, but lots of people like it, so everything must be great!” The argument “lots of people agree with me, therefore I’m right!” is not meaningful, especially when you’re talking about -isms. It’s an appeal to base social pressure and has no bearing on the correctness of your argument.

I suppose at this point you’re probably wondering how I’m going to justify the title of this post. Well, to be totally honest, as much as parts of the article irritated me, Jon redeemed himself in my eyes by taking the initiative to write about something as scary as sexism in the first place, making an honest (if flawed) attempt to learn, and asking for our input.

I can remember the first time that I tried to write up a post on a feminist topic. I think my hand was actually shaking when I pressed the “Publish” button. It’s scary putting yourself out there to talk about any issue of prejudice, because we all know our culture is so ready to throw a firestorm back in your face if you get anything “wrong.” I appreciate and respect that Jon was willing to try and that WotC was willing to let him.

When I reached the end of his article I was overjoyed that he openly solicited our feedback and I was presented with a comment box to put my thoughts into. Wow, was I happy. I didn’t even realize how happy I was until I’d spent an hour skimming and “liking” other people’s comments. I wanted a chance to speak to WotC directly and he gave that to me, which I’m deeply grateful for. The number of people who posted ernest, well thought out comments, some with great links to resources, made me feel better about the community. It made me feel like other people believe I belong here. :)

A lot of the commenters were talking to Jon too and most were very civil. Some offered him links to resources (like some of the ones I posted above) and encouragement. I’m hoping he’s taken some of those links and moved forward on his own path to understanding.

So, thank you, Jon, and thank you, WotC. It had some issues, but I appreciated the outreach and the effort that went into it. Please keep learning and write more about sexism and other -isms in gaming in the future. :)

January 15, 2012

GenCon (and Gaming) Belongs to Me Too

Filed under: Angry,D&D,Feminism,Games — Eva @ 11:28 pm

One of the most heartbreaking moments of my life was the GenCon the first year after my wedding. I was starting to truly grok feminism and for the first time I walked the exhibitor’s hall with my husband, Alan, and paid attention to how people treated each of us.

I made eye contact. I smiled. I asked vendors leading questions about their products like I always do. I found that in a minority of the time they treated me as if I knew nothing about gaming even when I said that I played RPGs. I’ve had people do this to me before. I look really young for my age, so I normally don’t mind letting them just assume whatever and go on with their job. The pitch is usually much the same, it just includes more intro and layman’s terms. This time it was different, because I realized that they weren’t making these kinds of assumptions about Alan.

There was one booth we stopped at where Alan was supremely uninterested and I thought the setting looked kind of cool. I picked up a book and skimmed the back, looked up at the nearest guy in the booth (there were three, all male, sitting around not doing anything), smiled, and asked some trivial question about the setting. The booth guy, instead of answering me, literally turned to Alan and answered my question. I was so shocked I just kind of stared at him. Alan was pretty startled as well.

There were other incidents, but that was the worst, the one that stood out above the others. I left that con feeling for the first time in my life like I did not belong. It hurt so much I couldn’t even express it.

When I was a kid GenCon was the one place outside my home where I felt totally accepted. I’ve attended almost every year of my life. I literally said my first words in a GenCon. Now it felt like the con had rejected me.

Soon I got angry. The man in that booth, he was probably half again as old as me. The chances are I’ve been to more GenCons than he has. I’ve been playing video and board games since before I started pre-school. The chances are I may have been gaming as long as or longer than he has. Fuck him. Fuck him and fuck his sexism.

GenCon doesn’t belong to just him. It belongs to all the gamers and geeks who attend. I attend and it belongs to me too. I sure as hell want the other people who attend to be less sexist, but even if they aren’t, I belong there and it’s also mine.

I’m not going to let prejudice drive me away from a hobby that I love.

September 27, 2011

Did You Notice?

Filed under: D&D,Games — Eva @ 6:18 pm

A lot of people seem to be shaken by Monte Cook’s suggestions for non-rolling perception systems in D&D. I find it kind of amusing, since my first reaction was: I’ve played that game, it’s called Trail of Cthulhu (aka the Gumshoe system).

Well, I haven’t played exactly that game. He’s actually suggesting something lighter than Gumshoe. The spirit is similar, since it encapsulates skills determining if you find stuff automatically based on whether you have them or not. It sounds like in Cook’s case, he’s trying to maximize immersion by limiting when the players pause to roll dice. This supports a very old school style of play that encourages players to interact heavily with their in-game environment. In the case of Gumshoe, I believe the design goals has more to do with successfully modeling PCs following the trail of a mystery. You may learn more or less about what’s going on based on how you attack the investigation, but the system guarantees that you won’t end up stuck because you missed all the clues (which is no fun for the players or GM).

The lack of rolling to find things in Gumshoe hasn’t hurt the achievement I felt when I found things or when we solved the mysteries, I promise. The thing I think folks might be missing is, it’s not like having a GM fudge rolls. You aren’t “just being given things,” you earned them by spending your character resources on those skills and not others. There’s still plenty of rolling to flee horrible monsters or to convince crazy people not to shoot you in Gumshoe. If you spend all your points being good at noticing stuff, it’s going to get rough when you need to run away!*

A system like the one Cook is recommending could easily be generalized with the existing skills in D&D to allow you to run more investigation focused plots. This wouldn’t require major rules re-balancing or new kinds of die rolls, just a change in how the GM interacts with their players. If you focus on giving PCs information based on the things they are good at (maybe which skills they have trained for example) you can give them a world with a lot of detail while making them each feel like they have different tools to use to understand it.

If you also follow the three clue rule you have a much better guarantee that your players get most of your clues. When they use those clues to their advantage they’ll feel great. When they can’t make heads or tails of them, you’ll have more avenues to feed them stuff that keeps them going in the right general direction. If you want to do mystery and tactical combat in a fantasy setting, it’s a win-win.


*This is a gross simplification. There are a lot of trade-offs when you build a Gumshoe character and it just isn’t possible to be good at everything. ;)

August 31, 2011

D&D Initiative Cards

Filed under: D&D,Games,GM aids — Eva @ 9:48 pm
example initiative cards laid out on the table

Several initiative cards

When I started running 4th edition D&D I was intimidated by the prospect of being in charge of a combat. The sheer amount of information that you need to handle during a fight is kind of overwhelming. There are piles of monster defenses, initiatives, and all sorts of powers to juggle. The GM needs to make sure combat flows smoothly, which seemed incompatible with keeping all of that stuff straight and keeping 4 to 6 players on task.

Luckily, I met Jeff Sorensen at GenCon and he showed me how to use monster initiative cards. These cards let me literally hold all the stats I needed for a fight in a single hand. This massively upped my confidence in my ability to run fast, fun combat encounters.

a page of example monster init cards

Monster cards for some of my NaMoDesMo creatures*

When I got home I made up my own quarter-sheet card template similar to Jeff’s and started making cards. I made cards for monsters and cards for heroes. They made my game seem so much more polished when I had them ready to go each week.

All my monsters “take 10” on initiative to speed up the beginning of combat and the players write their initiative values on their cards and pass them up to me. Then I sort the cards by initiative and flip through them as the fight progresses. I turn cards sideways to denote PC’s holding actions and move their card if they delay their entire turn to a different place in the order.

As I collected more and more of these cards I realized that I needed somewhere to store and organize them if I was going to reuse them. So I commissioned a custom recipe box on etsy from this gentleman. I affectionately call it my box of death.

recipe box with lid open to show that it's full of monster initiative cards

The box of death

I make my cards with a semi-manual process because it forces me to read through the creatures’ abilities and consider how they could be used in combat. I pull the text for a monster from the Compendium using my D&D Insider subscription and then format it onto a Word template manually. The template has been refined many times over the last two years. When I’m done formatting, I print my cards on cardstock and cut them with a paper cutter.

Sometimes I make custom monsters for game sessions and sometimes I pull from what’s in my box. At the moment I’m working through the first Monster’s Vault in my spare time and making cards for all the monsters. I already did something similar with the MM3. This gives me lots of random monsters to pull from if I need to create an encounter on the spot.

If you’d like to make your own cards for personal use, please feel free to use my monster card template or my PC card template. If you redistribute monsters made with the template digitally I ask that you link back to this post and credit the template to me. (I hope it goes with out saying, but) Please don’t redistribute the blank templates, instead link to this post if you want to show them to people. ;)

Both templates are Word files and I can’t promise they’ll layout correctly in other programs like OpenOffice. I’m not a graphical designer, so my layout ability is shaky even without Word “helping” me. The text uses styles, so when you add new powers, you’ll want to look at the existing styles and reuse them. If you want to use the same icon set that WotC does, this gentleman has made a lovely font called Game Icons available for that purpose. I’m too lazy to use it much of the time, but it’s really neat!

If you use my templates I’d love to hear any feedback you have. I’ve tried to make them as usable as possible over the last two years. I’m sure that other people will have different thoughts and use cases beyond my own.

* A pdf version of this set of monster cards is also available. I’m slowly making cards for my NaMoDesMo creatures, but don’t currently plan to releasing the rest of these publicly.

June 29, 2011

D&D Daggerdale Videogame Review

Filed under: D&D,Games,Reviews — Eva @ 10:14 pm

D&D Daggerdale is a beta pretending to be a game. The game has potential but it’s drowning in an incredible numbers of bugs and a camera so laughable it might as well be the first D&D movie*. I found one showstopping bug that was so amazingly obvious I find it hard to believe they ever ran this game past a playtester. I’m glad I played it, but it was not worth what I paid. WotC should be embarrassed for putting their name on such a low quality product.

Annoying things / bugs that I saw:

  • numerous cases of shooting enemies and they were so ‘surprised’ that they died frozen standing up
  • one cases where an enemy was so very, very surprised to die that he remained in his idle animation
  • one case where an enemy’s weapon hung around floating in the air after his death; it was persistent too, stayed through many reloads of that dungeon area
  • when talking to an NPC to finish a quest, if the NPC teleported away after the quest ended, the green circle under them and their floating name remained
  • when I finished some fights that triggered NPC dialog, the game teleported me as far as it wanted across the level to the NPC; this made it very hard to pick up the treasure from the enemies I just killed
  • once when I was teleported to talk to an NPC the game decided he didn’t actually want to talk to me, but the camera was locked on him; I could see myself on the mini-map, but otherwise had no idea where he was; eventually I dead reckoned back to him and talked to him manually to unlock the camera; this was a showstopper in my mind, since I couldn’t even trigger the pause menu
  • did I mention the camera was my worst enemy? it constantly pointed where I was going, which is useless when you’re playing a bow focused character who runs away and then shoots things behind them; I spent much of the game judging enemies state by the sounds as I shot them
  • the camera also totally destroyed the cinematic boss fights; there was at least one boss with floating and fire and different stages; I couldn’t watch any of it while fighting because the camera wouldn’t look at the boss
  • the NPC guards were really not very smart; several times I felt guilty about dragging them off to parts of the dungeon they weren’t meant to be in because they followed enemies and did not return to their “posts” when the threat was over; this was especially sad when they got themselves locked behind doors only I could open
  • I really wanted the ability to compare weapons and armor on the shop screen; in your inventory you can properly compare things with your full stats before equipping them, but in the shop you’re guessing based on their description, which is slow and boring
  • Oh my god, the mini-map; pure directional indicators are not good enough when you’re running around a cave with twisty, poorly connected passages; I got so f’ing turned around and spent a lot of time just wandering trying to find things; THIS WAS BORING, NOT FUN
  • Some of the feats would have been utter gibberish if I was not already a D&D player; likewise, I would have had no idea how to choose my primary stats if I didn’t already know what classes use what in the game; there needs to be either more guidance or a “choose this shit for me because I have no idea” button so the game is not only for D&D nerds like me
  • I never used my special attacks; they were too confusing and too slow; I got through the whole game and I am a killing machine with just my basic attacks

I think my main advice to the folks that made this game is to fix the camera, then maybe patch some of the more obvious graphical bugs. Most of the other stuff would be forgivable without the camera. Also, next time you make a game, please keep in mind that you are making a video game, not a tabletop simulator on an XBOX. If I wanted to play pure D&D I know where my table and my books are. The point of a video game is to abstract away some of the boring numbers and get on with the action.

I’m not even going into the local coop play, which based on my brief sampling has so many shared camera issues that it is nearly unplayable. I think they may have to implement split screen to save this mode.

The plot is cheesy and stupid, but based on the RPGA games I’ve seen, it’s above average for plots that comes out of WotC. I’m going to protest here that every single dwarf I saw in the entire game was male, which is gibberish based on WotC’s normal campaign materials. I saw very, very few female characters of any kind and those were primarily ‘sexy female assassins.’ Apparently the folks who cast this game think Tieflings reproduce through binary fission or something similar. I was also not impressed by the last 10 minutes of the plot. It’s stupid. Really, deeply “the gm has decided exactly what’s happening to all the NPCs and you’re just here to hang out while the action occurs” sorts of stupid. I’ve had GMs like this and I don’t play under them anymore, WotC.

I wish I could say the autotargeting makes up for the camera, but that would be like saying that crutches make up for two broken legs. This was especially evident because I played with the elven rogue and specialized in using a bow. This meant that most of my time was spent running away from enemies so they couldn’t reach me and then shooting them with the bow. Running causes the camera to pivot to the direction that you are running, so you can’t see anyone chasing after you. As I mentioned above, the camera further screwed up all climactic fights, by not showing me the super scary bosses. The simplest of camera lock-on features could have fixed this issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Daggerdale in spite of it’s persistent, awful flaws. It shares something with NWN in that it fills that third person dungeon crawl desire in me. It has well designed environments and reuses them effectively, with meaningful connectivity changes and interesting location based quests. It has bad guys who actually feel different to me and there are coherent combat groups rather than just a random bunch of the same guy attacking you. Despite wanting to stab the person who designed the camera in the face with an icepick, I finished the whole game and was max-level when I did. Through the anger and constant ranting about the camera/npcs/plot/controls/bugs/etc., I had fun.

At this point I would only reluctantly recommend D&D: Daggerdale if you’re already a fan of D&D and games like NWN and you want to play it solo or coop over the network**. I’m hoping the game will eventually be patched to fix the most egregious issues and I’ll try to append my review if it is.

* Yes, this is the basest of sarcasm. I think the first D&D movie was terrible.

** I haven’t played network coop but I’m assuming you’ll all have your own camera to contend with rather than a shared one.

November 30, 2010

The Invisible Pink Unicorn

Filed under: D&D,Games,NaMoDesMo — Eva @ 2:02 pm

The Invisible Pink Unicorn

The mighty Invisible Pink Unicorn has been told of in many legends and songs. She is said to reveal herself only to those who are pure of heart and strong of mind. All others must have faith in her pinkness and understand that her invisibility is for their protection.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn

Level 35 Elite Skirmisher (Leader)

Large immortal magical beast

XP 94,000

HP 630; Bloodied 315

AC 49; Fortitude 46; Reflex 48; Will 47

Speed 8, fly 10 (hover)

Immune gaze, radiant

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +33

Perception +30



O Trust in Pinkness • Aura 5

Allies in the aura gain a +3 bonus to all defenses.

Invisibly Pink

The unicorn is invisible. All effects that would make the unicorn visible fail to do so.

Standard Actions

m Invisible Hooves • At-Will

Attack: +40 vs. AC

Hit: 10d6 + 10 damage.

M Piercing Charge • At-Will

Attack: The unicorn makes a charge attack; +40 vs. AC

Hit: 12d6 + 10 damage, and the target is pushed 3 squares and knocked prone.

M Swift Strike • Recharge 5 6

Attack: +40 vs. AC

Hit: 8d6 + 15 damage, and the target is stunned until the end of the unicorn’s next turn; the unicorn can shift her speed before making this attack.

C Fear of Her Invisible Presence (fear) • Encounter

Attack: Close burst 10 (targets enemies); +38 vs. Will

Hit: The target is stunned until the end of the unicorn’s next turn.

Aftereffect: The target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends).

Move Actions

Unseen Passage (teleportation) • Encounter

Effect: The unicorn can teleport 15 squares.

Minor Actions

C Intangible Horn Touch (healing) • Encounter

Effect: Burst 2; All allies in the burst can spend a healing surge or make a saving throw against one effect that a save can end.

R The Beauty of Invisibility (charm) • Recharge 5 6

Attack: Ranged 10; +38 vs. Will

Hit: The target cannot attack the unicorn, and the target must make opportunity attacks with a +2 bonus against any creature within reach that attacks the unicorn (save ends).

Triggered Actions

To Saturn • At-Will

Trigger: The unicorn drops to 0 hit points.

Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The unicorn becomes insubstantial, teleports into a stable orbit around Saturn, and then heals 157 hit points.

Skills Arcana +30, Diplomacy +32, Heal +30, History +30, Insight +30, Religion +30, Stealth +33

Str 27 (+25)

Dex 33 (+28)

Wis 27 (+25)

Con 27 (+25)

Int 27 (+25)

Cha 30 (+27)

Alignment Languages

© 2010 Eva Schiffer

The Invisible Pink Unicorn in Combat

The Invisible Pink Unicorn will come to the aid of those who have faith in her pinkness. She stands as an invisible beacon of hope, truth, and goodness in a world of dark and evil. Her sheer beauty drives her enemies to protect her and her hooves fall hard on those who fail to believe.

This concludes my NaMoDesMo entries. I hope you enjoyed them! :)

November 29, 2010

Rainbow Vampire

Filed under: D&D,Games,NaMoDesMo — Eva @ 1:04 pm

Rainbow Vampire

So named because of the prism-like effects that result when this vampire is exposed to sunlight, the rainbow vampire is a bit different than its darker cousins. While not skilled with transformation, rainbow vampires are much faster and stronger. They are also able to walk in the sunlight without losing their natural regeneration, making them formidable daylight foes. They are however prone to strange obsessions and writing very bad poetry. They lack both the terrifying power and the leadership ability of the older creatures of the night.

Rainbow Vampire

Level 25 Elite Soldier

Medium fey humanoid (undead)

XP 14,000

HP 466; Bloodied 233

Regeneration 10

AC 41; Fortitude 38; Reflex 36; Will 37

Speed 10, jump 2

Immune disease, poison; Resist necrotic; Vulnerability -5 radiant

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +27

Perception +16

Low-Light Vision


If It Sparkles Kill It

If rainbow vampires are exposed to direct sunlight they emit telltale sparkles that can not be easily hidden.

Standard Actions

m Punch • At-Will

Attack: +32 vs. AC

Hit: 2d8 + 8 damage, and the target is marked until the end of the vampire’s next turn.

r Throwing Stuff • At-Will

Attack: Ranged 5/10; +30 vs. Reflex

Hit: 4d8 + 8 damage (crit 28+4d6, or crit 28+4d10 against Large or larger creatures).

M Double Attack (weapon) • At-Will

Effect: The vampire makes a punch attack against one target and a punch or throwing stuff attack against another target.

M Blood Drain (healing) • At-Will

Attack: +30 vs. Fortitude

Hit: 2d12 + 7 damage, and the target is weakened (save ends), and the vampire heals 116 hit points.

Second Wind (healing) • Encounter

Effect: The vampire spends a healing surge to regain 116 hit points. In addition, it gains a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of its next turn.

Move Actions

Blinding Speed • Encounter

Effect: The vampire shifts its speed.

Minor Actions

M Backhand • Recharge 4 5 6

Attack: +30 vs. Fortitude

Hit: The target is stunned until the end of the vampire’s next turn.

R Mind Reader (psychic) • At-Will

Attack: Ranged 20 (one creature); +30 vs. Will

Hit: The vampire telepathically asks the target a question, and the target must answer the question truthfully or else take 3d8 + 11 psychic damage.

R My Bella (gaze, charm) • Recharge 5 6

Attack: Ranged 5; +30 vs. Will

Hit: The target is dominated and takes a -2 penalty to saving throws against being dominated (save ends both).

Aftereffect: The target is dazed (save ends). The vampire can have only one creature dominated at a time.

Triggered Actions

M Mine • At-Will

Trigger: An enemy marked by the vampire shifts or attacks a target that is not the vampire.

Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The vampire makes a punch attack against the triggering creature.

Skills Athletics +29, Intimidate +26, Stealth +24

Str 34 (+24)

Dex 25 (+19)

Wis 19 (+16)

Con 25 (+19)

Int 22 (+18)

Cha 28 (+21)

Alignment      Languages

© 2010 Eva Schiffer

Rainbow Vampires in Combat

Rainbow vampires lack the finesse of many other vampires, relying on their speed, strength, and raw sex appeal. They often work in groups, sometimes dominating seducing humans into serving them as well.

Tomorrow, the Invisible Pink Unicorn!

November 28, 2010

Half-Dragon Gelatinous Cube

Filed under: D&D,Games,NaMoDesMo — Eva @ 11:01 pm

Half-Dragon Gelatinous Cube

Formed from the unholy alliance of a dragon and a gelatinous cube, the half-dragon gelatinous cube resembles its ooze parent, but with a tint of color that suggests its draconic heritage. It also inherits higher than normal intelligence and cunning from the dragon side of its family tree.

Half-Dragon Gelatinous Cube, Bronze

Level 13 Elite Brute

Large natural magical beast (blind, ooze, aquatic, dragon)

XP 1,600

HP 324; Bloodied 162

AC 25; Fortitude 26; Reflex 25; Will 25

Speed 6

Immune gaze; Resist 10 lightning, 5 acid

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +9

Perception +9



The cube is nearly invisible until seen (Perception DC 24) or until it attacks. Creatures that fail to notice the cube might walk into it, automatically becoming engulfed.

Standard Actions

m Slam • At-Will

Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude

Hit: 2d6 + 5 damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends).

Engulf (acid) • At-Will

Effect: (one or two Medium or smaller creatures); The cube attacks the targets; one or two Medium or smaller creatures; +14 vs. Reflex (automatically hits an immobilized creature). On a hit, the target is grabbed and pulled into the cube’s space; the target is dazed and takes ongoing 15 acid damage until it escapes the grab. A creature that escapes the grab shifts to a square of its choosing adjacent to the cube. The cube can move normally while creatures are engulfed within it.

C Breath Weapon (lightning) • Recharge 5 6

Attack: Close blast 3; +14 vs. Reflex

Hit: 4d6 + 3 lightning damage, and the cube pushes the target 2 squares. If the attack hit at least one target, the cube makes a secondary attack against a creature within 10 squares that was not a target of the primary attack.

Miss: Half damage. Secondary Attack: +14 vs. Reflex; 2d10 + 5 lightning damage, and the cube pushes the target 1 square.

Triggered Actions

C Bloodied Breath • Encounter

Trigger: The cube becomes bloodied.

Effect (Immediate Interrupt): Breath weapon recharges, and the cube uses it.

Skills Intimidate +14, Stealth +14

Str 16 (+9)

Dex 16 (+9)

Wis 16 (+9)

Con 22 (+12)

Int 16 (+9)

Cha 16 (+9)

Alignment unaligned Languages

© 2010 Eva Schiffer

Half-Dragon Gelatinous Cube in Combat

Half-dragon gelatinous cubes fight much like their transparent parents, lying in wait for unwary creatures using their near invisibility. They are slightly more detectable due to their color, but they make up for it in combat with their vicious breath weapon attack.

Note: Special thanks to Kelsey, who first came up with this monster in 3.x.

Tomorrow, a rainbow vampire!

November 27, 2010

A Wake of Buzzards

Filed under: D&D,Games,NaMoDesMo — Eva @ 3:02 pm

A Wake of Buzzards

Buzzards haunt the desolate areas of the world and scavenge off the remains of the dead. Occasionally difficult times, or evil magic, drive them to attack the healthy in place of their normal fare.

A Wake of Buzzards

Level 6 Elite Skirmisher

Huge natural beast (swarm)

XP 500

HP 138; Bloodied 69

AC 20; Fortitude 18; Reflex 19; Will 18

Speed 4, fly 8

Resist 5 necrotic, half damage from melee and ranged attacks; Vulnerability against close and area attacks

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +12

Perception +4

Low-Light Vision


O Reek of Death • Aura 1

Any creature that starts it’s turn in the aura takes 5 necrotic damage.

No More Patience

The wake does an additional 2d4 damage to prone targets.

Standard Actions

m Hungry Claws • At-Will

Attack: +9 vs. Reflex

Hit: 1d4 + 3 damage, and the target is knocked prone.

M Feast • At-Will

Attack: (one bloodied target); +11 vs. AC

Hit: 6d4 + 5 necrotic damage and the target is blinded (save ends).

Move Actions

Between the Living • At-Will

Effect: The wake shifts it’s speed, it may pass through squares containing enemies. If it moves into a square containing an enemy it immediately makes a hungry claws attack against that enemy.

Triggered Actions

Scavenge (fear, healing) • At-Will

Trigger: A creature adjacent to the wake falls below 0 hit points.

Attack (Immediate Interrupt): +11 vs. AC; The swarm regains 10 hit points. The target creature loses one healing surge. If the creature has no surges to lose it loses one surge value in hit points.

Str 13 (+4)

Dex 19 (+7)

Wis 13 (+4)

Con 13 (+4)

Int 13 (+4)

Cha 13 (+4)

Alignment      Languages

© 2010 Eva Schiffer

A Wake of Buzzards in Combat

Buzzards tend to single out victims and harry them with repeated passes until they are blooded. Then they descend in mass to feast upon their victim’s delicious flesh.

Tomorrow a half-dragon gelatinous cube!

November 26, 2010

Firegaze Tyger

Filed under: D&D,Games,NaMoDesMo — Eva @ 3:07 pm

Firegaze Tyger

In daylight a firegaze tyger looks like any other tiger, in darkness it glows with a bright inner fire that burns the eyes of those who look upon it. They are solitary creatures and make their homes in the deepest of jungles, as far from the bustle of civilization as possible.


History 17: There is an old story of a king who was determined to capture a firegaze tyger for his menagerie. It cost him half his huntsmen, two packs of good dogs, and the life of one of his daughters before the creature stood before him in chains. He was too proud of his catch to weigh his losses dearly and took the tyger back to a cage in the gardens of his castle cheerily. Over the next week the creature’s light began to slowly dim as it weakened in captivity. The king’s advisers warned him that allowing the tyger to die would bring him terrible fortune, but he would not listen. On the last night of the week, when it seemed the tyger’s light would be snuffed out the king went to the garden to see his prize. No one is sure exactly what happened after that. The servants heard a terrible cry and there was a blinding flash of light from the gardens. When they arrived, the tyger was dead and the king could only gibber and claw at his bleeding, sightless eyes. He died later that night.

Firegaze Tyger

Level 9 Solo Soldier

Large fey beast (fire)

XP 2,000

HP 392; Bloodied 196

AC 25; Fortitude 22; Reflex 21; Will 20

Speed 8, climb 6

Resist 5 fire

Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2

Initiative +10

Perception +6

Low-Light Vision

Standard Actions

m Claws (fire) • At-Will

Attack: Reach 1; +16 vs. AC

Hit: 3d8 + 5 fire damage and 5 ongoing fire damage.

M Fearful Symetry • At-Will

Effect: The tyger makes a claw attack, if the attack hits, the tyger makes a claw attack against each enemy adjacent to the target of the initial attack.

Minor Actions

C Burning Bright (fire, force) • Recharge 6

Attack: Close burst 5 (all creatures in burst); +14 vs. Fortitude

Hit: 4d8 + 5 fire and force damage, and the target is blinded (save ends).

Dread Feet • Encounter

Effect: The tyger takes a move action.

Triggered Actions

What the Chain • At-Will

Trigger: The tyger is immobilized, slowed, grabbed, or restrained.

Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The tyger makes a saving throw against the condition. If it saves it also shifts two squares.

Sieze the Fire • At-Will

Trigger: The tyger is hit by a melee attack.

Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The tyger’s attacker takes 2d8 + 5 fire damage.

Skills Acrobatics +13, Stealth +13

Str 20 (+9)

Dex 18 (+8)

Wis 14 (+6)

Con 18 (+8)

Int 14 (+6)

Cha 12 (+5)

Alignment unaligned Languages

© 2010 Eva Schiffer

Firegaze Tygers in Combat

Firegaze tygers prefer to close with enemies as quickly as possible and use their fearful symmetry to harm as many as possible. They are especially annoyed by fire-resistant foes, and usually save them for last.

Tomorrow, a wake of buzzards!

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