Category Archives: D&D fourth edition

D&D Next trades to-hit bonuses for enhanced damage

(This post continues a discussion I started in “What does D&D have to do with ironclad ships?”) As I discussed in “Riding the power curve,” the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons attempts to straighten out fourth edition’s logarithmic power … Continue reading

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Bounded accuracy and matters of taste

(This post continues a discussion I started in “What does D&D have to do with ironclad ships?”) In my last post, I wrote about how to-hit and damage bonuses contributed to Dungeons & Dragons’ power curve. When we compare D&D … Continue reading

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Riding the power curve through D&D’s editions

(This post continues a discussion I started in “What does D&D have to do with ironclad ships?”) In the very first set of Dungeons & Dragons (1974) rules, every weapon dealt 1d6 damage. Short of magic, characters could only improve … Continue reading

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Example: Finding the hidden chambers from Halaster’s Last Apprentice

(Part 6 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The first D&D Encounters season, Halaster’s Last Apprentice, included a skill challenge that works perfectly within the original conception of the skill challenge rules. “You make a perilous … Continue reading

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Spinning a narrative around a skill challenge

(Part 5 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2’s example skill challenge shows the Dungeon Master responding to each success or failure in the traditional DM role─by telling the players what happens in the … Continue reading

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The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 remakes the skill challenge

(Part 4 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) Just a year after fourth edition’s debut, the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 upended the original skill challenge. The new material makes just one specific revision to the original rules: … Continue reading

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Speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments, and skill challenges

(Part 3 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons included lots of rules that no one uses: weapon speed factor, weapon armor class adjustments. A little of that tradition lived … Continue reading

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The skill challenge: good intentions, half baked

(Part 2 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The forth edition rules make the encounter the central activity of the Dungeons & Dragons game. The Dungeon Master’s Guide says, “Encounters are the exciting part of … Continue reading

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Evolution of the skill challenge

When Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition came out, I found a lot to like, and one thing I hated: the skill challenge mechanic—not the underlying idea of giving non-combat activities center stage, but the rules framework of the original skill challenge. As … Continue reading

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Battle maps take over Dungeons & Dragons

Early versions of Dungeons & Dragons always included miniature rules for movement, range, area effects, and even for actions similar to attacks of opportunity. But I never witnessed those rules in action. They seemed to require miniatures. Collecting miniatures cost … Continue reading

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