Teratic Tome Takeaways

Teratic Tome Cover

Teratic Tome Cover

I’m not normally one for alliterative titles, but it fit here.

Often when I absorb media — read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, and so on — I find or look for things I can take away from it. Whether it’s ideas for role playing games or ways to improve my programming ability, new techniques or traps to avoid, I like to incorporate new things into what I know and do.

A major component of my day job is to prepare technical documentation. I’m not formally a technical writer, I’m a software developer, but I do a lot of technical writing. This lends itself to a certain mindset — informationally-dense, but generally focusing on factual information rather than narrative elements. There isn’t often a story to be told in a database dictionary, operations manual, or functional specification.

Teratic Tome demonstrated to me that I am horribly underusing monsters. I do not mean that I’m not using enough of them. I mean I am not taking full advantage of them.

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Review: Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler

I don’t do a lot of reviews. I should probably do more, actually, I certainly read enough RPG material.

Short form: holy balls is this an impressive book. If you like old school and you like freakishly scary and horrifying monsters, BUY THIS BOOK!

A few weeks ago Rafael Chandler posted a picture to Google+ of the cover of his soon-to-be-finished book.

Teratic Tome Cover

Teratic Tome Cover

That is badass. (The description of the creature later is even more so, and I’ll come to that later.)

Actually, let’s look at the actual image he posted.

Teratic Tome Full Cover

Teratic Tome Full Cover, 50% scale so it fits the page, click to enlarge

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Dungeons of Carcassonne: What It Might Look Like

I was reviewing my site stats today and saw an inbound link to my Dungeons of Carcassonne post from last year. I’d almost forgotten about it (and the followup post)

This happy reminder caused me to consider reposting the link to Google+, and while I looked for an image of a Carcassonne tile to add to that post I stumbled on an article by Peter Norvig about building a ‘nice layout of cities‘, that led to the map below.

Peter Norvig's Carcassonne 'Urban Challenge' result

Peter Norvig’s Carcassonne ‘Urban Challenge’ result

I think it unlikely a Carcassonne dungeon map would be quite this tidy in practice, unless an effort is made to make it so.

That might be worth doing, actually, even if it does require more planning up front and cooperation. I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, it looks like this could be workable. I think I might make a few changes to my original plan, though.

  • Where a road leads directly into a city, you have an open doorway.
  • Where a road passes adjacent to a city wall (as with the top second from the left in the top row — the road and wall must be on the same tile, I think), there is a door.
  • Where walls of adjacent cities touch, you have a door or a doorway (or a secret door)… some kind of connector.
  • Cities with fields between them (such as the cheesy-twos in the second row) are not connected (or may be connected with a secret passage?)
  • I have no idea what to do with the cloisters.

This planned layout looks like a pretty feasible dungeon, actually. All cities can be reached, there are decisions to make in navigating (branching paths) with few linear connections. Only in a couple of places must you pass through one city to get to another, and there are places you can shortcut the hallway by cutting through a room, and conversely avoid a room by sticking to the hallway.

I’ll have to a graph of this, I think, but it looks like this actually might be a decent dungeon map. I find this very cool.

However, as good as this looks as a dungeon map, I think the cooperative construction and attempt at a ‘nice’ layout might detract from it as a gaming structure. I think I’d prefer to keep the random draws and construction (with rewards for completing cities). Perhaps I would break out the Big Box and bring out all the tiles.

That could take a while, but the thought of a Carcassone-constructed megadungeon tickles me.

D&D Meta-Spells

Many spells in D&D 3.x and Pathfinder differ only in small ways from each other, to the point they are defined in terms of one of them.

For instance, Pathfinder has four cure wounds spells, one for each level from first to fourth. Plus a mass version of each. And they can be reversed to inflict wounds as well. I make this sixteen spells that only fix or cause (reversed for undead targets) hit point damage. Heal actually does other stuff too, so I’ll count that as a different spell.

Why have so many spells? Why not have a single spell that can have different effects when cast at different spell levels?

Cure Wounds Meta-Spell

Cure wounds lends itself to this form of simplification very well because there are many forms that really vary only in the amount of damage fixed and, with the mass versions, how many creatures are affected.

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