Initiative Or What? – Archives – Sep/2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

More Character Considerations

Well, I guess I got my wish. Looks like my wonderful wife and I will be joining a virtual D&D game hosted by my brother-in-law’s brother, Ross. Ross is a pretty creative guy, so the campaign setting is interesting and unique (a double planet system, where the two planets actually interact with each other). With his permission, I might post more about his world at another time.

In the meantime, however, I thought I’d share with my readers the background I wrote for the character I plan on playing — a Male Human Sorcerer (Storm) by the name of Coegi Tempestas. Like most of my character backgrounds, it takes the form of a story, whereby the DM and other players are left to determine my character motivations by reading about his actions within the story; instead of having said motivations spelled out. Enjoy!

The hollow whap, whap, whapsound echoed through the cave as Coegi Tempestas struggled with continuing to sleep. Shifting on the pile of reed mats that served as his bed, he made a mental note to wipe away the drool that was now pooling around his chin and dampening his beard.

Whap, whap, WHAP! The sound ended abruptly, and Coegi sighed. Just as his rum induced unconsciousness swam up to return, he heard a voice call out, the tinny sound of it echoing off the cave walls, “Master Tempestas, Master Tempestas! Are you home?”

Fighting down the urge to vomit, Coegi turned his head and feebly called out, “Go away! Sleeping!”

His voice barely carried; but it banged around in his head, making it perfectly clear that a remarkable hangover was in the making. He thought for a moment that it might be a good idea to see who his visitors were; but the reed mat was too soft to give the thought serious consideration. Moments later, he drifted off once again into unconsciousness.

Some time later, Coegi began to blink slowly, and come to. His eyes adjusting to the light of an everburning torch propped against the far wall of his bedchamber, he realized immediately that he wasn’t alone. His head hurting too much yet to actually get up, Coegi reached out with his free hand and felt around in the dim light. His hand immediately came to rest on a small shoed foot. Squinting with the one eye that wasn’t buried in the pillow, he could make out several such feet. An absurd thought crossed his mind, “Why am I surrounded by children?”

“Master Tempestas, forgive the intrusion, but we must speak with you.” The voice was somewhat high-pitched, but it didn’t sound like a child’s voice. Lifting his head slowly, he looked around again, and groaned. He was surrounded by gnomes.

Making a goliathean effort to raise himself up on one elbow, he used his free hand to wipe the drool from his beard. Sitting up, he rubbed his temples in a failed attempt to reduce the pounding that threatened to stave in his skull.

“You’re trespassing, Mathias. Go away.”

Gesturing for the rest of his companions to wait outside, the older gnome wiped his hands on his oily apron and idly fiddled with a bolt in his pocket, “The team needs you, Master Tempestas. The experiment is too valuable not too…”

Coegi tilted his head and glared, “You’re trying this again?” His voice, punctuated by last night’s drinking, was hoarse with anger.

“It has to be done, Master Tem…Coegi.” Mathias lowered his voice, “The council is demanding a solution to its water demands. Agreements have to be met.”

“I don’t give a flying Similak about your agreements, Mathias. Did you forget the seventeen reef caskets lined up off shore? Did you forget that I lost friends in those gods-forsaken tin canisters you call a home?” Reaching over to his nightstand, Coegi snatched the leather goggles lying there and thrust them into the gnome’s face, “Did you forget about her? Did you forget who’s fault it was?”

Mathias lowered his eyes to the outthrust goggles, a trace of sadness crossing his face.

“I haven’t forgotten. The Safety Panel ruled the incident an accident, Coegi. Those gnomes gave their lives for a valuable project. Their memories are honored. As gnomes, we have to go on. We have to move on to the next project and get the job done. It’s the only way we can honor those who have fallen.”

Despite the gut-wrenching pounding his head was giving him, Coegi stood up, towering over the gnome, “You forget, Mathias. I am not…a gnome.”

Side-stepping around Mathias, Coegi half staggered, half walked to the wooden panel that served as the door to his bedchamber. Sliding it to one side, he squinted in the bright light that was pouring into his cave. Based on the brightness, he figured it was nearly three hours past high sun. Pushing past the rest of Mathias’s crew, Coegi made his way toward the back of his cave. Here, a small stream flowed; and Coegi knelt down and splashed water in his face and soaked his hair in the cooling water. Flipping the mass of wet hair back, he focused and could feel little jolts of electricity sparking from the tips of his fingers. Gathering a few of his things, he sat down on a modified stalagmite and addressed the gnomes still hovering around him.

“Look…all of you. I’m done. I realize how important you think your work is, but I’m done. Too much has happened. I barely have control of my power as it is. Harnessing it for your experiments is just too dangerous. I won’t do it. Find someone else to sling your lightning.”

Mathias looked up. Gnomes rarely begged, but the look on his face was damn close, “Coegi, please! The accident was over a year ago. Things have been improved, variables locked down. We can…you can do this!”

Placing a hand gently on the gnome’s shoulder, Coegi shook his head, “Not this time.” Standing up, he lifted the goggles he’d been holding and fastened them around his head in a familiar fashion. Heading to the door of his cave, he held it open while the gnomes filed out quietly. Coegi watched as they picked their way down the mountain trail that would eventually lead them to town and then on to their own homes.

Latching the door shut, he followed them down; taking his time in the afternoon sun. It was going to be dark in a couple of hours, and he wanted to make sure he had a good seat at the tavern. He had some money left. Perhaps he could finally manage to drink himself into forgetting.


“You could be doing better for yourself.”

Coegi looked up from the pandi gourd shot cup he was cradling and considered the woman who had seated herself next to him. Attractive, but not delicate; the woman was plump and dressed in traveler’s garb. Her blouse probably revealed more than she intended; but Coegi was too absorbed in the ritual of intoxication to really notice.

“I am taken with the belief that women don’t enjoy my company, lady. Ply your trade elsewhere.” Coegi drained his shot cup and gestured to the barkeep to pour him another. Refilling the small black cup, the bartender handed it back to Coegi.

A gauntleted fist pounded on the bar next to him and Coegi jumped, nearly spilling his drink, “I am not a whore, and I should kill you for the insult, Storm Driver. I only stated the obvious about you.”

Taking a sip from his cup, he sat it down carefully and straightened himself up on his barstool. Taking note of the woman’s gauntlets, he could see etched in the leather, a pattern of dragons and dragonflies. He didn’t think he’d been drinking long enough to hallucinate, so he made another assumption – the woman was a Convergence Fighter.

“My many pardons, good lady, my assumption was indeed hasty. I’m afraid I’m not exactly…myself this evening. May I buy you a drink? If not for anything else, but to apologize for my words?”

Coegi gestured again, and the barkeep poured another shot of pandi-rum and passed it to the woman. Taking the cup, she closed her eyes briefly and lifted it into the air in front of her. “Here’s hoping to die in the sky,” she toasted. Draining the cup in one gulp, she flipped it over and placed it back on the bar.

“Yeah…cheers.” Coegi drained his own cup, and likewise flipped it over on the bar. Forcing himself out of his self-induced fog, he regarded the woman sitting next to him. It had been a long time since anyone had bothered to talk with him; let alone a woman of merit. He was surprised to discover his self-loathing had abated somewhat.

“With all due respect, my lady. Why are you sitting in a bar making conversation with a has-been such as myself. Surely a woman of your prowess would find better company.”

The woman shifted on her bar stool and removed her gauntlets, placing them in her lap, “It’s difficult to be a has-been when you’ve hardly even gotten started. You sell yourself short, Storm Driver. Like I said when I sat down, you could do so much better for yourself.”

“That’s the second time you’ve called me by that name. No one around here calls me that.”

“That’s because few people around here speak Draconic, Tempestas. It’s subtle, but it won’t keep you hidden, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“No, that’s not it at all,” Coegi turned himself around on his barstool and rubbed his forehead. “There was a time when my folks thought it might be a good idea for me to learn the language. They had survived a few convergences, and thought I might make a good candidate for a Fighter. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a head for tactics. In order to avoid disappointing them any further, I left home and never looked backed. I changed my name shortly after that. Worked for some gnomes for a time, but that ended badly. Now I pretty much spend the rest of my time learning to appreciate fine liquor.”

“The liquor here isn’t really that great, Tempestas.” The woman glanced at the bartender, who was frowning. Coegi smiled.

“Yeah, that’s true. Helps me forget though.”

“Look, tragedy hits all of us at some time or another. You got to move on and do something. I’ve heard of your talent. You’re a charmer, and a force to be reckoned with…that is, when you’re not climbing into a bottle.”

Coegi sighed, “Yeah I know. I have a job waiting for me, it’s just…just too hard to get up sometimes.”

Leaning over, the woman placed a hand on Coegi’s knee, “I don’t know about this job you’re talking about, but I do know this. In a few days time, a caravan will be rolling through here led by a man named, “Garavel”. He’s on the lookout for enterprising talent that can assist him in the liberation of Kelmarane from a tribe of bloodthirsty gnolls. Maybe you heard of it?”

Coegi brushed an imaginary crumb off his other knee, “No, can’t say that I have. However, I’m not that fond of gnolls, so anything that reduces their ilk is probably a good cause.”

The woman removed her hand from Coegi’s knee and sat up, “Give it some thought. If you have half the talent I think you do, you’ll find success out there.”

Abruptly, the woman stood up and tossed five gold coins onto the bar, more than enough to pay for both of their drinks. Out of an old habit, Coegi stood up as well, smoothing his shirt, “Leaving so soon?”

Slipping on her gauntlets once again, the woman smiled. “Charm me another time, Storm Driver. I have errands to attend to. Consider what I told you though, I think you’ll find that your fortune will change.” In a move he neither anticipated or expected, the woman leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. Stunned, Coegi stood there blinking in disbelief, little sparks shooting from his fingertips.

After a moment, Coegi ran to the door of the tavern and looked up an down the street. The mysterious woman; the Convergence Fighter with all the helpful advice, was gone. Suddenly sober, Coegi walked briskly across the street to the Inn. Walking up to the innkeeper, he suppressed the urge to give him a playful shock and instead lifted his purse.

“Can you tell me when Garavel’s caravan is due?”

The innkeeper consulted some papers on his desk and looked up, “In about two days time, from what I understand.”

“Give me a room for two days, then.” Coegi smiled for the first time in a long time; and laid his money down on the counter.

By the way. If anyone knows the actual pronunciation for Coegi, I’d be grateful. I like the name, and don’t mind the various possible phonetic ways it could be pronounced (in Latin, the name Coegi Tempestas means “Storm Driver”); but would really like to know how it’s formally pronounced.

Until next time.

Game excellently with one another.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 1

With Swine Flu still making headlines in the news, I thought I’d turn my attention to an area of 4E that seems to have been neglected: Disease. While I love the rule mechanics that now govern disease, I think 4E drops the ball on execution. There are only a handful of examples; and almost no information on how to design diseases to fit your own campaign. In addition, occasionally a DM wants to sneak in a disease to challenge characters at a lower level. The lowest example in the Dungeon Master’s Guide is a Level 9 disease.

Not satisfied with what was presented, I opened up my own bio-tech firm and started creating my own. Presented below is the start of a list I hope to compile over the remainder of the year. Six diseases of every level through the Heroic tier (I’ll get to Paragon and Epic diseases later). For each level, I’ve set the difficulty class and attack power of each disease to be the same. These will go up in an even progression as the level of the disease increases. As far as effects; well…I had to wing it. There just isn’t any design specifications regarding what kinds of effects are appropriate for what level of character.

A couple of notes, though. I’ve set the difficulty class for each level of disease based on a “typical” exposure to the disease (this translates as “Moderate” on the Difficulty Class and Damage by Level table in the Dungeon Masters’s Guide. Use the “Easy” rating if the disease exposure is slight, and the “Hard” rating if the disease exposure is significant or prolonged.

Also, these disease are all caused by infectious agents of some kind: bacterial, viral, fungal, or even magical. I have not considered diseases that might result from genetic issues because I figure these kinds of diseases are more like conditions.

Finally, I’m no doctor or medical scientist. Some of the presented diseases might mirror real-world conditions, but I’ve made no attempt to try and be scientifically accurate. It’s a fantasy game, after all.

Okay…without further ado, I present a half-dozen of 1st Level Diseases for 4E:

Click HERE for a link to the full disease document.

For you technical geeks, the formatting of the image is a sham mock-up of what the Dungeon Master’s guide presents. I built the table in Excel, and simply copied the table into Macromedia’s Fireworks. Then I saved the image as a .png file. When I have the full selection of Heroic diseases completed, I’ll provide a .pdf file for download. In the meantime, these diseases are free to steal and share. I’ll not claim them, as my bio-lab needs to remain hidden.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 2

As promised, here’s the second installment of “It’s a Dirty, Dirty World“. Presented below (be sure to click on the link for the full sized image) is my list of 2nd level diseases for 4E.Before the image, though, here’s a couple of additional notes I considered for adjudicating these diseases:

1. For every day a character has gone without an extended rest, add a +1 to the attack roll for the disease.

2. For every reasonable precaution a character takes against a disease (drying his clothes, making sure to sleep in clean surroundings, etc.) subtract 1 from the attack roll of the disease. Watch the OCD come out in every character.

And now, without further ado, your 2nd level 4E diseases!

Click HERE for the full disease document.

Third level diseases are up next. Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 3

Greetings, Gamers!Welcome to another edition of the continuing series…It’s a Dirty, Dirty World.

In this post you’ll find the 3rd Level 4E diseases I’ve come up with. As always, I welcome your comments.

Without further ado…

Click HERE for the full disease document.

You should see the 4th level diseases posted on Friday. Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 4

Greetings once again, gamers!

Today, I continue my series on 4E diseases. Presented below is the list of 4th level diseases I’ve come up with. As always, I appreciate any feedback any of you kids in blogger land wish to give.

Click HERE for the full disease document.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It’s a DIrty, Dirty, World: Part 5

Feeling sickly, yet? Got a tickle in your throat or feeling a little flushed?Well, with this installment, we come half-way through our Heroic level diseases. This installment presents 5th level diseases that you can use in your own 4E campaign. As always, your comments and feedback are appreciated.

Click HERE for the full disease document.

Now I have to come up with names and ideas for the next 30 diseases. Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 6

Well folks, the contagion parade continues with this installment of 6th level disease for 4E.

I’m on the downhill side of this little project now, so I’ll soon start thinking about ways to consolidate this info into one .pdf file. I might even look into having it published to one of the rpg download sites. I’ve never done that before, so I’ll have to do some research first, before I try that.

In the meantime, here’s some 6th level diseases to enjoy!

Click HERE  for the full disease document.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 7

Well, the bio lab is cooking right along and has uncovered this dirty half-dozen for use with 4e. Some of these diseases are particularly nasty.

I will try to post the next segment on Saturday, if I can get a decent web connection at my folk’s house while visiting them this upcoming weekend. Otherwise, Part 8 of this series will probably show up on Monday.

Enjoy, and here are your 7th Level diseases:

Click HERE for the full disease document.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 8

Well, at this point, the hospital ward is getting pretty full.That said, here are the 8th Level 4e diseases I was able to come up with. I try not to play favorites, but I really like Shifter’s Plague. DMs, if you’re tired of your players bouncing all over the map, THIS is the disease to hand down to them.

Without further ado…8th Level Diseases:

Click HERE for the full disease document.

Until next time…

Game excellently with on another.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It’s a Dirty, Dirty, World: Part 9

Well kids, we’re starting the final stretch of my list of 4E Heroic diseases. I’ve not really received a lot of feedback, so that probably means either my blog isn’t being read (this would not be surprising), or everyone is waiting for the compiled file to appear before they comment. For everyone that has already made a comment…thank you! Your feedback is appreciated!

Here is the list of 9th level 4E Heroic diseases. As always, comments are certainly welcome.

Click HERE  for the full disease document.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. R.M. Walker, who can be found in numerous places on the internet as “DeadOrcs”, is a long time gamer with some 30 years experience playing RPGs. Despite occasional forays into the bizarre, Randall has always come back to Dungeons & Dragons.


About DeadOrcs

R.M. Walker, who can be found in numerous places on the internet as “DeadOrcs”, is a long time gamer with some 30 years experience playing RPGs. Despite occasional forays into the bizarre, Randall has always come back to Dungeons & Dragons.

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