A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

12 May 2015

[review] The Manor #8

I can't tell you how much I enjoy mail-call here at The Stronghold when I see the "GM Games" logo on an envelope. Well, that happened yesterday: Issue #8 of The Manor appeared!

The usual disclaimer applies: I am one of Tim's proof-readers, so...there's that. That doesn't color my perception or review; all it means is that I get to see the good stuff in advance. Even still, there's nothing like holding the final version in my hands and giggling reading the good stuff. So...without further ado...let's look inside Issue #8!

John Larrey's cover art sets the tone for the issue. Who among us has not been in the shoes of that fighter, facing down a slavering troll, with naught but our shield between us and certain death?

In point of fact, all of the artwork in Issue #8 (as usual) is top-notch and fits perfectly in its assigned place, setting the scene for the article.

The grappling article by Cole and Dell'Orto, while written for S&W, is going to be stolen for my 3.x house rule file, at least for my kids' game. It's just so neat and elegant, especially when you compare it to the cluster that is Wizard's attempt at explaining a grappling system. (Honestly, 3.5's grappling rule is one of the things cited by a player who left our group as one of the things driving him away from the hobby.) This system seems like it would resolve grappling quickly, neatly, and easily.

There's only one thing I would change, and that's an addition. Now, I will admit to knowing very little about the S&W rule set. I know, I know...go ahead, get the gallows started. But as far as using this grappling rule in 3.x, there are times when a creature can substitute a DEX modifier for a STR modifier. I think that this should be one of those instances, at least for certain classes or Prestige classes (the "Brawler" or the "Swashbuckler" for example). I don't think this would violate the spirit of this easier rule; instead, I think it fits right in to the very spirit this rule change is designed to promote. Additionally, it adds a bit more flavor to the rule. As an illustration, remember back to The Princess Bride.

[Aside: I'm referring here to the BOOK version of the story, as it's the version I prefer. However, for purposes of this example, I suppose one could refer to the movie version as well. It fits my purposes just as well. Just this once, though. End aside.] 

So...The Princess Bride. Fezzik lies in wait for the Man in Black (MIB), waiting to crush his head with a stone. When the MIB appears, Fezzik agrees instead to best him in a Feat of Strength --mano a giant-- instead. They begin to grapple wrestle and it quickly becomes apparent that Fezzik's STR modifier is MUCH higher than that of the MIB. However, after a few initial grappling attempts attempted holds, it also becomes apparent that the MIB's DEX modifier was equally higher than Fezzik's.

SPOILERS: The MIB's DEX wins the day and Fezzik succumbs to the grapple, the MIB successfully (essentially) pins Fezzik and renders him helpless. The MIB then runs off after Vizzini for a Battle of Wits for the Princess' life.

As for the other articles, they're also just as useful as the Grappling article. I just purchased a copy of Trey Causey's Strange Stars RPG. I'm looking forward to getting my print copy and sitting down to absorb a great-looking Sci-Fi setting (and then trying to convince my group to play it, but that's another story).

Tim's hirelings, torches, and Torchbearer class all made me ask the same question: Why isn't our 3.x party using hirelings?!? It's a proposal I'm prepping in my head already to present to members of my group. Definitely some good stuff here.

My recommendation? Get yourself a copy. Even if you've never picked up a copy of The Manor before, get this one. 5 out of 5 stars. Yeah, it's that good.


Tim Shorts said...

Boric thanks for the review and you use of the Princess Bride comparison is great.

Peter V. Dell'Orto said...

I think swapping in DEX for STR makes a lot of sense. I'd do it for "to hit" but not for the damaging roll for effect, which I'd reserve for STR, if only because being strong is such an advantage in grappling. You wouldn't want a high DEX to be an uber grappling stat - better AC, better to hit, and better damage, where equal STR would only do the last two. And having high DEX and STR combined should be the ultimate combo.

Douglas Cole said...

Thanks for the kind review. I suspect Peter and I did consider using DEX in some circumstances, and came down on the side of "Keep it simple." Your suggestion fits with a lot of cinematic tropes and would be widely accepted by a gaming audience, I think.

I'm a big fan of using every stat where you can, so if I were house-ruling my own article (and D&D in general), using DEX for the grab and STR for "damage bonuses" to hold on and break free has some appeal to me.

Boric Glanduum said...

Peter and Doug, thanks for stopping by. Come back any time.

I think your tweak of my tweak is great; DEX for to-hit and STR for damage.

And Tim: great job as usual!

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