Bard On!

The Bard is a class that I never played before, so when I was invited to play in a new Tomb of Annihilation campaign earlier this year – I figured it was time to give it a try. I lived vicariously through the exploits of other players talking about Bards and celebrating them through social media. The concept of playing a Bard always seemed enjoyable to me; it’s a character with high charisma that can solve problems in unique ways and bolster the efforts of the rest of the party. When playing in a campaign, I typically like to be up-close and personal in melee range making attacks and eliminating monsters, so playing a character that does not exactly shine in one-on-one combat would be a stretch.

I took on the challenge!

Character Development

One thing I wanted to do with the Bard was come up with a relatively simple backstory that did not rely on the character going through significant traumatic experiences early in life. Perhaps influenced by recent fatherhood, I created a character that is a family man first, performer second, and adventurer third. He’s got a stable home, a spouse, several children, and he travels the Realm from time to time to perform his music and assist other adventurers.

During our first session, I even had him ask the first major NPC we encountered, Syndra Silvane, to send money to his family in the event that he did not survive the quest to locate the Soulmonger. It was interesting to roleplay a character that expressed hesitation about the perils of adventuring rather than being eager to run in the direction of the next big, bad evil thing.

When creating my Bard, I thought about his name for a long time.

A very long, long time.

I borrowed/stole a device from Saga and named him The Stone. For a few moments before my son was born, I thought about Stone as a possible name; my wife wasn’t as keen on the idea. Pearl Jam is my favorite band, and Stone Gossard is one of the members. Plus, I’ve been curling for the past 5-6 years, and the rocks in curling are often referred to as stones. My wife and I ultimately decided on the name, Hugo, for our son – mostly inspired from this lovable guy.

The Stone featuring Dirk

With the name locked in, The Stone, the next step was to find some art that inspired me. While creating the character, I noted that a Bard could specialize in a small variety of instruments. The instrument that jumped out to me was bagpipes. YES! My Bard is going to play the bagpipes, and that obnoxiously glorious noise will be a part of future gaming sessions. I thought about a band we saw at a Renaissance Festival many years ago, Tartanic, and how they were wildly entertaining with pipes and drums. The next step was to conduct an Image Search on Google for: bard bagpipes.

Yes, this guy is – without a doubt – The Stone.

Oh, he’s magnificent!

Swap out the jug for a hand crossbow and we are set! I sent a question to our Dungeon Master, and asked if The Stone could have a companion animal. I clarified that the only thing the dog would do is carry around a tip jar on his back for times when The Stone performs. She enjoyed the idea, and allowed it, which has provided for some hilarious situations as The Stone tends to his pet in the severe jungles of Chult!

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Do You Know Your Role?

My article next week will address several combat-related issues. Before that time, I compiled preliminary data to obtain feedback from readers. The following tables were created by coding the powers for three character Classes found in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Character Builder.

To code the information, I went through each power (At-Will, Encounter, Daily) and coded the type of Status Effect it could apply to an enemy (or enemies). For example, if a power caused an enemy to be knocked prone and dazed, then the power was coded to have 1 Prone and 1 Dazed Effect. If a power did not apply a Status Effect, then it was coded as a 0; however, I have removed the zero values in the hopes of creating a table that is easier to view and understand. After each power was coded, I totaled the Status Effects by Tier (Heroic, Paragon, Epic).

For example, the first table below states the character has a total of 40 possible Status Effects that can be applied with the various powers (At-Will, Encounter, Daily) available during Heroic Tier. Obviously, a player cannot choose all of those powers, but this presents the options that are available. Of those 40 Status Effects available in powers during Heroic Tier, one causes an enemy to be Blinded, five cause the enemy to be Dazed, and so on. The values in each Tier are independent from the previous Tier. For example, the four powers that create a Dazed effect in Paragon are independent from the five powers that create Dazed in Heroic.  

As a prologue to next week’s column, I would like to see if players and DMs can correctly identify the Role of the three characters presented below. Please take the time to look at the tables below and determine if the results were created from a Leader, Defender, Controller or Striker.

Please leave a question in the Comments below if the tables are unclear, if you have thoughts about the data or how you arrived at the answers.

And please return next week for the results!

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Et tu, Errata?

I have happily sat on the sidelines during most conversations about Errata in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. However, I finally feel like I have something to say on the topic after the latest Update from Wizards of the Coast. My goal is not to classify errata as “good” or “bad.” I want to understand it, and specifically want to understand how it affects the mechanics of D&D 4e and the players that use them. Perhaps more importantly, I want to understand how errata alters the relationship we have with a game like 4e. This final point is what I find the most interesting, and I’m going to attempt to explain why below.

First, what is the definition of Errata? I went to Dictionary.com and pulled the following definition:

A list of errors and their corrections inserted, usually on a separate page or slip of paper, in a book or other publication

Errata fix mistakes. They are more commonly known in everyday life as Corrections. Your local newspaper, the New York Times, peer-reviewed scientific journals, broadcast news and other such media run Corrections all the time. For example, the media makes an error in some fashion and later posts a Correction to fix it. The Correction alerts their audience that the media source was wrong. The Correction reduces the likelihood that the audience will be misled by the information moving forward.

Should the current system for Errata be trashed?

So if errata list errors and make corrections, then someone or something must be wrong. But who is it? It would seem the company, in this case Wizards of the Coast, is acknowledging that their were design flaws in the game anytime a piece of errata is released. However, it’s not that simple to me. It seems that whenever D&D 4e Errata is posted by Wizards of the Coast, there are a percentage of players that lose the ability to play the game the way they have been playing it. Errata in this case does not apply to errors, but to individuals.

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