Wednesday, December 16, 2009

VG Meet Dnd: Larva Crab Worms from Borderlands

[Below you'll find a 4th Edition rendition of the Larva Crab Worm enemies from the hit role-playing shooter game Borderlands]

Larva Crab Worms
Heavily armored subterranean threat who place their habitats near areas soaked with magic.

Larva Crab Worm Tactics
With their hardy scales and territorial nature Larva Crab Worms have a tendency to rush into battle, and use their Scuttling Charge ability to push opponents into advantageous positions. Against ranged foes or opponents they can't quite reach yet the Larva Crab Worms unleash their powerful Corrosive Spittle attacks. Regardless of their tactics, Larva Crab Worms make the most of their burrow speed, utilizing it to both ambush opponents and escape from hairy situations.

Larva Crab Worm Lore
Nature DC 14: The lair of larva crab worms are often placed near deposits of crystals, most notably the magical shock crystal which they cultivate and harvest in a symbiotic relationship. Because of their strange relationship with shock crystals, larva crab worms have built up a resistance to electricity.
Nature DC 17: Despite their thick protective scales larva crab worms are extremely sensitive to pain, and any grievous injuries quickly kill the beast.

Arcana DC 17: The shock crystals that larva crab worms are renowned for farming can be used to decrease the cost of items with the lightning keyword. Each fully-formed crystal (DM's discretion) can be used to lower the cost of an item with the lightning keyword by 10%.

Encounter Groups
Although protective of their shock crystal deposits, larva crab worms are occasionally pressed into the service of young Behir Bolter Whelps.

Level 10 Encounter (2,450 XP)
  • 1 behir bolter whlep (level 8 solo soldier)
  • 2 larva crab worms (level 8 skirmisher)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dungeon Brew Reviews: Critical Hit and Fumble Decks

When playing 3.5 DnD, or even the new Pathfinder, sometimes a critical hit just doesn't feel that...well, critical. Doing x2 damage is all well and good, but sometimes you want to eviscerate your foe, causing him to bleed to death, or smack him so silly he's seeing stars for a few rounds. By the same token, missing on a 1, while annoying, just isn't very descriptive. So you critical fumbled, how did you do it?

Well, thanks to Paizo's Critical Hit and Critical Fumble Decks you get a little more out of your Critical die rolls. The premise of both cards is that when you roll a 1 (for the Critical Fumble Deck), or confirm a critical threat (for the Critical Hit deck) you draw a card from the deck, compare it to what kind of attack you made (magical, natural, slashing, ranged) and that card tells you what action your critical took. Things from an extra attack roll all the way to decapitation (for the Critical Deck) or dropping your weapon to hitting yourself with your own spell (for the Critical Fumble Deck).

The Good
Besides helping busy DMs with go-to descriptions for Critical hits and fumbles, the cards keep the game lively. I use them myself and my players are always excited about a critical hit, calling for a draw from the deck almost before the threat has been confirmed. By the same token, it helps lessen the effect of a critical fumble. Sure, you are making a failure more than just an automatic miss, but from my experience the players don't mind rolling a 1 quite so much now that it comes with an interesting explanation.

The Evil
This system isn't entirely balanced. One of the critical hit cards, as mentioned above is decapitation. That is a pretty powerful thing, even when its as rare as a 1 in 52 chance already tacked on to less than 5%. A critical already has the chance to obliterate a well crafted plan by destroying NPCs and villains who were meant to live longer, adding in an additional chance for them to perish increases this problem. The other issue is that the two decks are meant to work together. You don't have to of course, you could easily use the critical hit deck or fumble decks by themselves. Keep in mind though, that in 3.5 D&D, not every monster is capable of receiving a critical hit, if you run a campaign where the players fight a lot of undead, constructs or other creatures immune to critical hits the fumble deck becomes a much more serious issue as it isn't balanced by the benefits of the critical deck.

Bang For Your Buck
Each deck costs $9.99, and for that you receive 52 cards with 4 different outcomes on each one, each outcome pertaining to a different type of attack. You also receive rules with advice for how to balance the cards for use in your campaign, and some new mechanics for your game that enhance the rules presented.

The Final Verdict
I endorse these products wholeheartedly, I've been using them in my games for around a year now and they definitely keep things both interesting and fun. They are cheap, they are are well made, and they make combat a little more complex. If that's not what you want, I can see you not getting them, but if you want to make your fights a place where a man can lose some fingers, or a fighter's sword could go flying out of his grasp during a dangerous maneuver, these cards will help you make it happen.

Francis Bousho is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Dungeon Brew Reviews Paranoia Mandatory Bonus Fun Card Gam

Hello and welcome to Paranoia. I know you were expecting to come here for a review, but unfortunately that information is above your clearance level. But don't worry, Friend Computer is here to help.

Let me explain. In the Mandatory Bonus Fun Card Game, the players take on the role troubleshooters (people who find trouble and shoot it) in an underground complex run by a benevolent, albeit unbalanced, computer. Your job is to undertake missions all while remaining vigilant against mutants, and members of secret societies. By the way, you are a mutant and a member of a secret society. You are a traitor, a well armed traitor at that. But the problem is you are on a team of other well armed traitors, all bent on proving their "innocence" by proving you are a traitor against Friend Computer. I wouldn't worry too much though, because there will be plenty of chances for you to do the same to them, or even kill them outright.

The Good
The game is fun, the rukles are simple and mission structure keeps the game engaging with a variety of objectives to complete. Added on top of all that though is the fast paced and strategic game play where every traitor for himself and danger lurks around every corner. The game maintains a sense of dark humour with great art and quotes adorning every card, not to mention missions like "Bake the Traitor" and action cards like "Spurious Logic".

The Evil
Well the biggest problem with the game is that its out of print. Thankfully though and the PDF format have come to the rescue, allowing you to purchase a copy and download it directly to your computer. Of course, this presents its own issues, mainly having to print out all the cards. While most of the cards are black and white, the clearance cards and some of the game tokens are in color. And the PDF is constructed poorly, with each card being presented on a page of its own. For the color issue I ended up using different color paperclips as tokens, and I placed a paperclip over the player reference card, sliding it up and down to denote security clearance. The other problem took a little more work, I copied each individual card as a jpeg and then placed them side by side on a .doc file. Although time consuming, this allowed me to print them out about six at a time.

Bang For Your Buck
The game costs a whopping $24.95. For this you get 20 different mission cards, which act like minigames, 39 different actions cards, and a variety of tokens and player reference cards, all of which have to be printed and cut out.

The Final Verdict
I had a lot of fun with this game, I picked it up at 20% off and I loved it. My friends and I played it extensively while I worked on this article. That having been said, this game is not for everyone. If you love, or you know someone who does love, the world of Paranoia, anything Orwellian or non-collectible card games you'll love this game. For those of you who don't, you'll be better off spending it on something else.