Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tactics in D&D 4E

More than in computer role-playing games, combat in D&D still has some elements of monsters and events being there for dramatic effect. But while the story-telling and dramatic effects very much depend on the DM and the players, the underlying combat rules provide a solid base of game mechanics, which would work just as well in a computer game. Understanding how this system works and what consequences the game mechanics have for strategy and tactics enables players to be more successful, and DMs to run better battles.

Now 4th edition D&D combat rules show a clear influence of MMORPG combat systems, and that is something that previous editions didn't have. While D&D combat always had heavily armored fighters in the front rank and glass cannon mages in the back, in 4th edition the tanks gain some forms of "taunt"-like abilities for aggro control. And like in MMORPGs, combat healing is now more prominent. All this has as consequence that classic MMORPG "holy trinity" tactics play a bigger role in D&D 4E combat than in previous editions.

Combat in D&D is nearly always a group activity. And in 4th edition in most cases the monsters also come as a group. Especially the introduction of minions, monsters with just 1 hitpoint, enables DMs to create encounters which look a lot more dramatic from the start due to the presence of lots of monsters. This group vs. group concept of combat has tactical consequences, because the two groups aren't equal: In a standard combat all or nearly all of the players should be alive at the end of combat, and all of the monsters dead. But as the monsters don't die all at once, this implies that combat is getting easier for the group as they eliminate their enemies one by one.

The best tactics for a player group usually is to eliminate the minions first, with AoE spells and abilities if available. Then the players should concentrate their fire on one opponent after the other, because every monster gone is making the next round of combat easier to survive. But as D&D 4E combat is highly tactical, using a battle grid, movement limitations, zones of control, and all that, players usually can't all hit the same mob. Often it is better to to engage in some crowd control: A fighter "tanking" one mob while the group kills another monster. Or the mage using spells like sleep to keep some mobs busy.

One important tactical decision by the players is which powers to use. At-will powers have the least effect, but are not used up. Encounter powers can only be used once per combat, and daily powers only once per day. As players don't know how the combat will evolve, and whether they will have more combats that day, they are sometimes reluctant to use their encounter and daily powers. If the players don't know the monsters, and are unsure which of them pose what sort of a threat, it is understandable that they might want to start with at-will powers to not waste their good powers on weak monsters and later regret not having it for a stronger opponent. But even if you start the first round of combat with an at-will power to see how it goes, it is generally best to use encounter and daily powers early in combat. The faster the players take out the first mobs, the easier the combat gets for them.

In principle the same tactics are true for the DM playing the monsters. Only that "winning" the combat isn't actually the DMs goal. A wipe, usually called "TPK" for total party kill in D&D parlance, represents a major setback in the story for both the players and the DM. It shouldn't be impossible, especially not if the players did something stupid to get into that mess. But as the DM controls the number and strength of all monsters, killing the players can't be a challenge for him, because he would always be able to do so by pulling enough of them out of his hat. Instead the challenge for the DM in combat is to provide the players with a tactical challenge and dramatic effects that make the combat memorable for the players, but not necessarily lethal. Having a player dead once in a while isn't bad, and adds to the drama, but a TPK isn't really a desirable outcome.

Fortunately understanding of tactics works both ways. Without having to fudge dice or use Deux Ex Machina events, a DM can moderate combat by having his mobs act more or less tactically intelligent. There is always an excuse for artificial stupidity: Not every goblin, wolf, or bandit is likely to be a tactical genius, so using tactics that are unlikely to kill the group is perfectly justifiable. And fortunately the desire to not kill the group and the desire to make combat dramatic for everybody are not incompatible with each other: Having the mobs spread out their attacks and wounding everybody a little instead of concentrating their fire can feel more dramatic for the players, while actually being less dangerous for them.

Combat needs to make sense to the players, and it is best if there is a certain visible logic behind the decisions the DM takes when running his monsters. For example D&D 4E "taunts" aren't absolutely forcing monsters to attack the tank. But it usually is a good idea to treat them as such, so as to make taunting work as intended. In many battles it probably would be possible for the mobs to ignore the the tank and all concentrate on the healer to take him out first, but that would make combat rather frustrating for the healer and then the other players. If the players make a reasonable effort to keep their squishier members protected, the DM shouldn't go out of his way to destroy that plan. But making combat logical also means that if the group plays carelessly and the mage ends up being a front line combatant, the DM shouldn't hesitate to have several mobs attack him to make the consequences very visible to him.

The DM not being out to "win" and kill the party also means that he should be lenient on rule calls if the players try out something non-standard. The goal is for everybody to have fun, and to create a good story, so the rogue swinging over the battlefield on a chandelier isn't something the DM should discourage. In fact it is probably a good idea to run combat on maps containing various pieces of furniture, obstacles, and other stuff that can influence the fight, so as to encourage the players to try other stuff than just using their standard powers. Of course that doesn't mean you should allow the mage to single-handedly win the whole battle with a simple cantrip. Thus him casting Ghost Sound to create a dragon's roar behind the enemy could be ruled to give a combat advantage for one round while the enemy is distracted, but not to make all monsters run away.

Personally I do like the D&D 4th edition combat system. It is more likely than previous editions to let all players participate in having entertaining and dramatic battles, because everybody has "spells" now. And with positioning being so important now, it becomes possible for the same group to fight similar monsters twice and get battles with a very different feel, depending on the geography and features of the location. And in some way combat is auto-regulating, becoming easier through monsters being killed, while players are becoming more worried over the damage accumulating on them. If players consider every fight tough and dramatic, that is a lot better than the MMORPG habit of thinking "let's go and kill a hundred mobs to grind some xp". In D&D the story is the purpose, the entertainment, and not "winning".

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 1 - Session 4

The players ended the last session by having a night's rest in Winterhaven, where they are investigating the mysterious death and subsequent zombification of the mage Arris. Getting up the next morning they are greeted by a scene of busy village life. It is the day before the Blessing of the Seeds procession, and most villagers are busy preparing for the festival: The elder villagers are sweeping the streets, although they seem to be busier talking than sweeping. Some boys are playing noisily, doing all sorts of pranks, and Father Matthias has caught one naughty boy and is spanking him. The girls of the village are busy preparing garlands, and the innkeeper is stretching cords from house to house to hang them up.

The players decide not to interact with the villagers at this point, except for one dwarf getting a second breakfast from the innkeeper. Then, following clues that villagers have disappeared in the woods, they decide to put up a trap: One of them disguises as a villager, hacking wood in a clearing, with the rest of the group hidden out of sight. [DM's note: There is a good DM rule to try and say "yes" to everything the players try, but that doesn't mean that you need every plan of them succeed.] After having spent the whole day that way without success, the players return to the village.

Suddenly one of them remembers that they were previously worried about the chalice in the church getting stolen, so three of the players go there. The chalice is still safe and sound, although Father Matthias tells them that the boy he was spanking this morning had tried to steal it, and got paralyzed by a glyph. The players don't follow that up, but spend the night in the church guarding the chalice, until they are awoken the next morning by Father Matthias coming to prepare for the Blessing of the Seeds. The mage asks him whether he could examine the chalice, and with an arcane check finds that the pentagonal chalice has a symbol on each side representing different planes: Prime Material Plane, the Shadowfell, Feywild, Celestia in the Astral Sea, and the Abyss in the Elemental Chaos. He suspects that the chalice is good for planar travel, but can't activate it without a command word.

Now one of the big classic issues of DMing an adventure arises: The players decide to do nothing, while waiting for the Blessing of the Seeds procession. D&D is designed to be an interactive story-telling experience, between the DM who has all the information about the world and what is going on, and the players who have limited information and are trying to find out what is going on. The DM gives the the players hints and descriptions what they see, and the players are supposed to follow those up. Only sometimes they don't. Either the way to go isn't obvious, or, as I suspect in this case, it is *too* obvious. The dead mage having been found with a ring of depetrification on his finger next to a circle of standing stones with one outer and the central stone missing should have encouraged the players to depetrify another stone, but they suspected that to be a trap releasing even more problems upon the village. I've seen adventures get stuck like that, so the trick to not let that happen is to have a plan B and know how the NPCs and villains will drive the story forward if the players don't.

The procession of the Blessing of the Seeds festival begins at noon, with Father Matthias coming from the church holding the chalice and moving towards the village gate and the farms outside, where he will fill the chalice with holy water and bless the seeds to guarantee a good harvest. The villagers form up in a procession behind him, children first, then the adults. The players decide to stand guard and distribute themselves strategically around the procession. With the detect undead ability of the priest's mace they are thus well prepared when three juju zombies attack.

What they aren't prepared for, having not followed up a lot of available information, is when in the middle of the fight one of the children next to Father Matthias polymorphs back into his natural form: An ancient vrock demon named Jaazzpaa. Jaazzpaa grabs the chalice from the priest, and apparently tries to use it for planar travel, looking somewhat surprised when that doesn't appear to be working. In spite of the player's attempts to stop him (somewhat divided due to the zombie attack), Jaazzpaa then flies away with the chalice. The players kill the zombies and discover that one of them is not a villager; instead it is a man in a loin-cloth with blue painted symbols on his torso, a bone through his nose, a feather hat on his head, and armed just with a dagger made out of flintstone.

Now the players find out what happened. They depetrify another stone of the stone circle, liberating another stone-age shaman in similar attire. With a comprehend languages ritual they learn from the shaman that 5,000 years ago 10 shamans of the surrounding villages sacrificed themselves in a ritual which transformed them and "The Beast" permanently into stone. The Beast (Jaazzpaa) had used his chalice to teleport into the villages from his home in the Abyss, eat a villager or two, and go back home. The shamans' sacrifice was the only way to stop him. When the mage Arris, misled by stories saying that the stones were farmers petrified by a basilisk, depetrified one of the shamans, he inadvertedly broke the ritual spell and freed the demon. The demon killed both the depetrified shaman and Arris with a spore attack that made them come back as zombies two days later, under the control of the demon. Jaazzpaa then tried to get this chalice back, polymorphing into a village boy. As he couldn't enter the church's holy ground, he charmed another boy to steal the chalice for him, but didn't succeed. So he had to wait for the chalice to leave the churce during the Blessing of the Seeds, using the shaman zombie and two villagers he had caught in the woods and zombified as distraction.

While Lord Padraig would like the players to go after the demon, and the players are interested too, they don't know where to start looking for Jaazzpaa now. Valthrun, counsellor to Lord Padraig thinks he can find out something about the demon's whereabouts, using his library of books and network of informants. But that will take some time, and he advises the players to spend that time gaining a bit more experience before tackling a powerful demon. The players thus return to Fallcrest, fulfil their initial quest of bringing the ring of depetrification back to the temple of Selune, and reaching level 2 with the quest xp.

This ends the group's level 1 adventure. Much of it was taken from an adventure published in Dungeon Magazine #25: The Standing Stones of Sundown. The plan is to do another adventure now before coming back at a slightly higher level to chase Jaazzpaa the Ancient Vrock.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Not a spectator sport

Watching other Dungeon Masters of Dungeons & Dragons in action, let's say via YouTube, to learn something from them turns out to be not so easy. First of all there are very few videos of real play sessions on offer. And then those who are of a reasonable production quality turn out to be not quite the real thing: In order to get the film to a reasonable length, combat is often shortened by using just one real monster and filling the rest up with minions that die quickly. And while you can watch some bantering between players, there is never the endless discussion on what to do next which characterizes many real games.

I will be playing D&D tonight, and we are still on the first "adventure". Maybe the group will finish it tonight, maybe they'll need another session. Which means that going through one adventure with one story and a few fights will have taken up to 20 hours of play time. Even if I had the best camera equipment in the world and had filmed that adventure, nobody would want to watch 20 hours of people sitting around a table, talking a lot, and sometimes moving some figurines around and rolling dice. But *I* was immensely entertained during these hours, and as far as I can tell, so were my players. It is just that this entertainment can't be caught on film.

In a way that is a bit like reading a book. Those of us who read the Lord of the Rings years before the movies came out probably all had some vivid images of the fellowship and their adventures in their heads, even if they read editions of the book without graphics. Our imagination is often the best graphics card. Watching a video of a guy reading a book can't possibly display the fun and entertainment happening in his head.

It is also important to point out that most people who play in a regular D&D group don't meet up *only* to play D&D. Hanging out with friends is an important part of the activity, and a lot of the exchange between the players either has nothing at all to do with the game, or is in the form of in-jokes nobody outside their circle would understand.

If I look at computer RPGs and MMORPGs, there are a lot more videos available and it is easier to get an idea what the game is about by watching. Nevertheless there is still a gap between for example the graphics and activities presented in a World of Warcraft trailer and those happening if you play WoW. Probably the trailers are meant to represent what people imagine while they play, not what they actually do while playing. I've seen some hilarious films of people playing a WoW raid where the camera showed only the player, not the screen; between the facial expressions, hammering on the keyboard, and swearing into a headset that gave an interesting image of World of Warcraft, but not one which corresponds to the mental experience of the players themselves.

Dungeons & Dragons not being a spectator sport makes it more difficult for Wizards of the Coast to promote the game. Basically you need to play D&D to understand it. I think they had a good idea of running the "D&D Encounters" every Wednesday in gaming stores, but coverage for that appears to be good only in the USA. There is no store running D&D Encounters in a 200 km radius of where I live shown on WotC's website for finding those. WotC claims that 5 million people play D&D, but I have no idea how they could possibly come up with a reasonably exact number for that. D&D can be "Free2Play" in a way, as X players playing the game together don't need X copies of the rulebooks. But then somebody might have the rulebooks but not be playing. So if the only data you have is product sales, it would be difficult to estimate number of active players from that.

I am happy that I have the opportunity to still play D&D. Computer games are nice, and often a lot more convenient than getting a regular pen & paper group together. But computer games by necessity have very strong limitations to what you can do in the game, limitations that don't exist in a pen & paper game. If you want to play a game which is only limited by the imagination of you and your friends, there is nothing better than pen & paper roleplaying games. Even if it's not much to watch.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw

stempel warna
Dalam artikel kali ini, kita akan bahas mengenai pembuatan stempel dengan aplikasi desain Coreldraw yang sudah tidak asing lagi bagi para desainer grafis, cara sederhana dan cukup mudah dalam pengerjaannya.
Tahapan Membuat Stempel Dalam coreldraw :
  1. Jalankan aplikasi coreldraw yang sudah ter install di kompi / laptop anda lalu buka halaman baru pada coreldraw dengan mengklik New blank document, seperti gambar di bawah ini :
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
  2. Buatlah sebuah lingkaran pada media dengan mengklik menu Ellipse Tool yang terletak disebelah kiri halaman atau tekan F7 pada keyboard anda,
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
    selanjutnya Klik Tahan+geser(Drag) sambil menekan Ctrl pada keyboard anda, agar lingkaran yang dibuat jadi lebih sempurna.
    membuat lingkaran
  3. Kemudian klik mouse pada Pick tool, object lingkaran masih keadaan terpilih (aktif) tekan 2 kali tombol + (plus) di numpad (keyboard) untuk menggandakan, dengan tekan Ctrl, drag ke dalam sedikit, kemudian lingkaran hasil penggandaan yang kedua drag juga kedalam dengan ukuran yang lebih kecil (jangan lupa dengan tekan Ctrl)
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
    Selanjutnya buat kotak dengan Rectangle tool (difungsikan sebagai object pemotong) dan tempatkan pada posisi seperti gambar dibawah ini (untuk memposisikan center cara yang paling cepat, Klik object kotak dan Shift klik object lingkaran dan tekan E dan C di Keyboard, perlu di ingat..! jangan terbalik, yang harus di klik object kotak dulu lo..!, dimanapun tempatnya object kotak akan mengarah pada object lingkaran dengan posisi center.... )

    Stempel coreldraw

     kemudian Pilih object lingkaran dan object kotak dan klik Back minus front pada Property bar, maka object lingkaran akan terpotong dan object kotak akan hilang dengan sendirinya. .
    Stempel coreldraw
  4. Selanjutnya buat object lingkaran lagi dengan men-copy object lingkaran yang sudah ada, keadaan object lingkaran masih dalam keadaan terpilih klik Text tool pada Toolbox, kemudian pada Menu bar pilih Text --> Fit Text To Path
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
  5. buatlah teks apa saja yang Anda inginkan
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
  6. Untuk membuat text yang melengkung dibawah, Text tool masih keadaan terpilih arahkan cursor ke object lingkaran bagian bawah kemudian ketikkan apa yang Anda inginkan
    Membuat Stempel Di coreldraw
  7. Kemudian klik Mirror text horizontally dan Mirror text vertically
    Contoh stempel
    Atur parameter pada Distance from path,
    parameter pada Distance from path
    dan Pada Offset

  8. Kemudian klik Shape tool untuk mengatur spasi pada text
    Shape tool
  9. selanjutnya masukan teks ke dalam lingkaran dengan posisi Center 100 %ASLI stempel
  10. untuk pembatas buat object bintang dengan menggunakan Polygon tool, tekan + pada Numpad  untuk men-copy object bintang, dengan tekan Ctrl, drag object bintang ke samping.
    object bintang
  11. Proses awal selesai, dan untuk pengaturan warna, buat object kotak yang (yang berfungsi sebagai lensa) tempatkan persis diatas desain stempel yang sudah jadi, kemudian pada Menu bar klik Effect --> Lens, dan atur seperti langkah gambar dibawah ini
    lili solifah
  12. selesai. dan hasil akhirnya seperti gambar di bawah ini :
    stempel lili solifah
  13. Untuk Vector Stempelnya silahkan download di bawah ini :
Vector Stempel  CDR
Catatan : Jika ada link Download yang rusak mohon beri tahu kami.
Special Thanks To "Belajar coreldraw"

Vector Sepatu Olahraga | Vector sepatu sport

Vector Sepatu Olahraga / Vector sepatu sport

Sepatu Olahraga, sepatu sport

Vector Sepatu Olahraga / Vector sepatu sport CDR
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy anniversay, World of Tanks!

The EU version of World of Tanks is celebrating its first anniversary. I'm still playing, but I pretty much gave up on the rat race of trying to get ever bigger tanks. Most of the time I'm playing scouts. And apparently I'm not all that bad at it, my T-50-2 just got the "Mastery Badge: I class - earn more experience in a single battle than the highest experience gain of 95% of the players in the same tank within the last seven days."

But as much as I love light tank scouts, I couldn't help but notice that they got somewhat too good over the last year. There are a lot more light tanks in the tank trees now, and also some other tanks like the new American tank destroyers which move at the speed of a light tank. In a game that has a lot of rock - paper - scissors elements, that has consequences: Artillery has become nearly unplayable, and few people use SPGs any more. Which in turn makes heavy tanks more powerful than they are supposed to be, as their major threat was basically removed from the game. I think that makes the game somewhat less interesting now than it was before.

World of Warplanes is in global alpha now, and a "2012" release date was confirmed. But the game I'm really waiting for is World of Battleships. Until then I can still drive around with my light tanks for a while.

Vector Ban Mobil

Vector Ban Mobil
 Ban Mobil

Vector Ban Mobil CDR
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