Monthly Archives: September, 2010

Flight in Echelon

I thought I’d take a look at flight. It’s a pretty common ability, even in real life. It should be possible for creatures to fly.

Fairly close again, I think. 75% of the creatures can pay for their flight out of the slots available at their tier, and it’s not that hard to come up with supplementary talents to fill out where they don’t quite fit.  I can easily account for a bit better than 90% of the flying monsters from the RSRD.

As you might expect, outsiders and creatures with the Air or Incorporeal subtypes are the most problematic… but still reconcilable.


Dragons in Echelon

About a month and a half ago I posted an article that said that I expected it to be tricky to implement dragons in my ‘monster reconstruction’ scheme. That may still be so, but I realized recently that they may actually be quite easy in Echelon.

It was a fair bit of work to get this article together, it is probably the longest one I’ve written (I’m not counting those where I was just copying from other sources to show how they could be used). Lots and lots of thinking involved, but with the exception of where I said to hell with it and kludged because it’s late and I’m tired (natural attacks, I’m looking at you) this mostly came together quickly and easily. Most of my time was spent on formatting and (hopefully) I didn’t introduce any errors when writing the things down, rather than thinking about whether things were reasonable or not.

I like easy monster creation. A lot.


More Iron Heroes

About three weeks ago I posted how to incorporate some Iron Heroes Feats. I had put off writing some more partly because I was interested in other matters, but also because the mastery feats often use a token mechanism that I wasn’t sure I wanted to include.

I’d forgotten that my current goal is not to get a perfect game (yet), but to get something that can be taken to the table and played. While I am not a huge fan of the presented token system, it is a usable system. Echelon’s architecture lends itself rather well to replacing systems and subsystems, so I’ll just go with what’s already there and replace it later if I decide I don’t want it.


Experimental Mapping Techniques


Experimental rivers and forests

I thought I might explore a bit with some techniques.

  • my rivers needed help.  I like how they look now, though it does make for some fiddly work.
  • I’m becoming comfortable with this method of drawing forests, though I’m going to stop doing them piecemeal — I’ll note where I want them while I’m doing my rough work, but since they are perhaps the most subject to change as other map elements are added I’ll leave them as rough markings.
  • I wanted to try some different water effects.  I like the shore effects I was getting, but I wanted to go back to basics while I work on the river appearances.

So, like the rivers (shapes are good, they can use some touching up to make them more visible), forests are coming nicely (need to practice some more to get the form selection better, I think), water… not so much.

I might look into mountains some more soon, and hills.  I think the forest technique can be reused there, to some extent.  I liked how water and shore looked in my previous maps, so if I can get that to interact with the rivers better I may shift back to that.

On the other hand, I suppose I could explore line-based maps instead.  They’re not nearly so picky on color and texture matching… but they often don’t look as pretty.

Another Place

A forest and water

Another place that doesn't exist

I thought I’d try another experiment, I’m working a bit now with forest techniques.

Next one, I think I’ll take it a little farther — plan the image, for one thing, and  get a few more terrain types and the like in.  The rivers need a little more work, too.

Actually, I think I may have to do things fairly backwards.  In this case I did the land/water, then the rivers, then the forest (which isn’t too bad), but I’m not pleased with how the rivers meet the sea.  I think I may need to instead cut away at the land mask where I want the rivers, then fill from there.  I’m depending on some almost subtle interactions between the image layers here that are really hard to do by hand.

Also, unrelated to this picture, I think I may back ‘Thing a Day’ off to every couple of days.  I’m more or less back in the habit of analysis/writing/drawing regularly, but I find that I only have time to think or write each day, if I want to get a reasonable amount of sleep each day.

If I don’t sleep, I don’t do any writing, and thinking gets hard (and my job is mostly thinking), so cutting sleep is no longer a viable option.  When I’m not doing so much analysis I can probably do more writing again.

Sometimes I Surprise Myself

I haven’t posted anything in a few days. I’ve been doing an analysis of the monsters in the RSRD to see how some of the design changes from Echelon work out.

I can’t exactly model the RSRD monsters. This was never a design goal of Echelon. However, I will take it as a good sign if I can get reasonably close, most of the time. If I can do this at the same time I normalize other design elements (such as making level, Challenge Rating, and Hit Dice mean more or less the same thing) then I am a happy man.

I’m not happy yet… but I can see satisfaction looming.


No Post Today

No Thing a Day post today, I think.

I’m in the middle of a frighteningly interesting analysis that I don’t want to interrupt.  Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday.

Something Different

Map of land and water

Just some place

I’m feeling a lot like not wanting to write today, but have generally been good about writing regularly (a post every day for more than five weeks).  Instead I thought I’d do something different, practice a bit of map drawing.

It’s been a while, I’m relearning techniques I haven’t practiced in over a year, so things aren’t quite as polished as I’d like.  Ah well, this just means I’ll get better, yeah?

Case in point, my ‘rivers to nowhere’ at the bottom of the map — I forgot to scroll the silly thing when drawing the rivers and they just end.  River police are gonna get me….

Who knows, I might do these irregularly, I may decide to start a regular feature where I draw a picture of a place that doesn’t exist.

Adventure and Encounter Design

In discussing yesterday’s post about the goals of Echelon, I realized there are some unspoken assumptions on my part.

I mentioned how I didn’t mind ‘CR math’, the arithmetic used to combine Challenge Ratings to find Encounter Levels and thus estimate whether or not an encounter can be considered reasonable for a party of four iconic characters. This system, as written, suffers somewhat in a number of ways. I’ve found ways to work around most of these difficulties, that suit how I want the game to run, and no longer deal with the same problems.

The Challenge Rating system as presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide runs into some complexity when it comes to determining experience point awards. Again, I typically use different means to determine experience point awards and thus don’t have to deal with those complexities.

It’s actually fairly simple.


Goals of Echelon

As with any piece of work, it’s best to identify the goals of the work – if for no other reason than being able to know when you’re done.

My goals in developing Echelon are pretty straightforward.