Tabletop for one: Interlude

Before Jindra’s adventure continues in The Lost Mine of Phandelver, i wanted to take a quick break to share a few thoughts and ideas that came up after surviving the goblin hideout.

level up

Firstly, she leveled up! This is always great news in an RPG, bringing with it an increase in capabilities. The additional hit points are always welcome. The only other change for the dwarven fighter was the Action Surge ability, giving her the option of taking an extra action once per short or long rest. For a solitary adventurer, this is huge.

In researching what other players have discussed about the specialized build of a shield fighter, i came across an intriguing forum thread exploring the RAW for shields as weapons and any precedents existing in the rules that would help buff this concept. Although both the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide are scant on information, one person pointed to the Monster Manual of all things. In it, there’s an entry for a human gladiator, who has in its arsenal of attacks a shield bash. The damage is described as 2d4 +4 (the +4 being its Strength bonus). Additionally, a Medium or smaller creature struck by this attack must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. The latter part of the attack seems a little overpowered to me (for a PC) but i like that damage profile – double what i was using, considering the shield as an improvised weapon.

fantasy cap

Another thing was discovering a homebrew subclass called the Guardian. Quite obviously inspired by Captain America, this fighter archetype focuses on the notion that the best offense is a terrific defense, using a shield as a weapon with some nifty tricks.

The first and primary ability this archetype brings is the Offensive Defense, granting proficiency with a shield as a light melee weapon that dishes out 1d6 bludgeoning damage. It also includes the Cavalcade Throw, allowing the fighter to throw their shield as a ranged weapon that returns to their hand afterwards. Once extra attacks per round are gained, the Guardian fighter can use those with the Cavalcade Throw to ricochet the thrown shield to other enemies within 10 feet of each other (one ricochet per extra attack). That is incredibly awesome, giving this highly-specialized sort of fighter a ranged option that they otherwise wouldn’t have (as a roleplaying option to forego any other weapons but the shield).

The next Guardian ability i don’t really like all that much, called Stalwart Commander at 7th level. This represents Cap’s battlefield command prowess, allowing the fighter to use their force of personality to direct others to action. Mechanically, it is a little wonky and also, not exactly how i envision Jindra.

The other abilities, Refined Defense at 10th level, Errant Charge at 15th and Generous Vitality at 18th, are pretty solid.

My thinking is maybe i’ll tweak the Guardian a bit, and swap out one of the other fighter Martial Archetype 7th level abilities for the Stalwart Commander. The Champion’s Remarkable Athlete is appealing. Or, maybe the Battle Master’s Combat Superiority. That’s the 3rd level ability but the maneuvers from that plus the Guardian’s shield throw would add a lot of variety to just bashing bad guys round after round.

Since it is designed as a group game, a lot of the abilities and powers in D&D and other games lend themselves, naturally, to supporting teammates. Several of the Battle Master maneuvers, for example, involve aiding or buffing allies. At first, i figured i’d skip on those choices, since Jindra was the only PC in the adventure.

Coming off a few solid months of Adventurers League-only play, it is incredibly refreshing to play a home game not constricted by organized play rules. While i completely understand the need for those guidelines, the best parts of RPG-ing is molding the game to what you want it to be.

But anyway, after rescuing Sildar and with an eye towards essentially assaulting a goblin stronghold, the thought of bringing along some NPC allies is a distinct possibility. First of all, there’s Sildar himself, who might feel obligated to help in Gundren’s rescue. He was, after all, the dwarf’s guard when they were ambushed. Then, there’s Gundren’s brothers, who i’m certain would want to help rescue him.Then there’s straight-up hirelings, described in the PHB as costing a mere 2gp per day for skilled experts such as mercenary soldiers. Jindra racked up 155gp already so, hiring some skilled help wasn’t a terrible idea.

Finally, i had a mind to think ahead beyond The Lost Mine of Phandelver. What would Jindra do after the adventure concluded – assuming she survived that long?

There’s a few other published D&D adventures that might be worth exploring. The Hoard of the Dragon Queen, in particular, appeals to me because it’s about dragons, which i love taking on in D&D, and also contains a good amount of political maneuvering that would make for a fun story. Princes of the Apocalypse is cool because it’s essentially this edition’s version of Temple of Elemental Evil, one of my all-time favorite adventures. But, although my work schedule has put the kibosh on my Adventurers League availability, i was part of an ongoing group going through that campaign already. Rage of Demons looks neat, focusing on the Underdark. But what most intrigues me is the next planned campaign book: Storm King’s Thunder, this generation’s iteration of the classic Against the Giants adventures. More than likely, i’ll go for that since it’ll be the newest thing and the story and classic roots is really exciting.

microscope

However, a game i picked up on a whim called Microscope adds another option. Described as “a fractal role-playing game of epic histories,” Microscope looks to be a sort of grand, world-building game focused on creating rich worlds. The fella at the game story highly recommended it, and another guy who saw the book sitting on my table stopped to talk about it with me. Although it is a game in and of itself, he said Microscope is also a great way to come up with and develop worlds and settings for other games, something i’d thought about myself when i decided to purchase it. i told him about this very series of posts, about solo RPG play and how i thought about incorporating Microscope into it, and he agreed that it would be a great resource. He also expressed support for this style of play. He was interested in learning how things turned out and also a follow-up on what i thought of Microscope and how it integrated with my gaming.

As an aside, i want to give a big shoutout to Emerald Tavern Games & Cafe in Austin, Texas. As a great lover of both coffee and games, this is the perfect hangout for me and where i am writing this post. The staff here are all gamers themselves (as well as making kickass cappuccinos) and always willing to talk about games of any sort. In fact, one of them was talking to some dude about Imperial Assault, a campaign-style board game i’ve wanted to try for some time, and i kinda jumped in there out of curiosity myself, leading to the dude and i deciding to meet back up here to try it out next week.

Anyway, next time on Tabletop for One, i’ll share what happened after Jindra hit 2nd level and struck back out on the road to further adventure in The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite homebrew game concoctions? And, do you have a favorite place to hangout amongst other gamers?

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