Indiana Jones and the Temple of Elemental Evil

Just started a themed solo-campaign (D&D 3.5)...playing an Indiana Jones based character (i.e. a very knowledgeable explorer of archeological sites obsessed with religious and mystical artifacts). I realize this is old hat *rimshot* but it's the first time at a table I occupied.

The character background is a straight rip & nod, so nothing really to say about that.

As for the build plan I picked Scout for the base class owing to the amount of exploration, running, movement based combat, skills, etc. I also really thought it was important to include the religious/mystical aspect, so included Cleric of Boccob with Knowledge and Magic for my domains which added a TON of synergy, especially regarding knowledge/academia. I felt I had to add one level of Wizard, just for a few spells to aid in 'Indyisms' (like animate rope, disguise self, jump, etc), and because I also really wanted a snake familiar (named him Short-Round). Finally we adapted the Loredelver PrC, allowing for divine spellcasters of non-Illumian descent (something we always thought the class deserved anyway since 'tomb-robbing' is inherently more of a clerical sphere than wizardly).

Nearly all of the planned adventures are research into mysteries, or Tomb Raideresque dungeon delves, all against the backdrop of the world war against the Axis of Evil (Great Kingdom, Iuz, & the Scarlet Brotherhood).

So by the end he'll be a Human Scout 14/Cleric 5/Wizard 1/Lordelver 10 wielding whip and hand crossbow, wearing anachronistic leathers, using spells and skill tricks to create some cinematic goodness. It's not an optimized build by any means, but it's INCREDIBLY fun and very close to true for the character inspiration.

I wish more people played around with themes like this rather than min/maxing. It's crazy awesome. Thinking seriously about requiring it for the next game I run.

Comments

  • I've usually been calling this CA as "Mechanical Johnny", from Mark Rosewater's psychographics. It's a style I don't like at all and it's been leading to some clashes at our table. I'm more into expressing your character via open-ended options such as traits, while one other player is like "Where's the skill list?" and he's been missing the skill list from ACKS that I find so unwieldly.

    Hope you have fun. Going solo dungeon delving as Indy in a war-era Greyhawk does sound amazing.
  • I'm not a big 'builds' fan on the tabletop (though I ADORE it on the computer). In fact, the only time we touch 3.5 is when our kids are playing or DM'ing because it's what they learned on. In this case it's my daughter and I, so I tried to shoehorn the 3.5 mechanics into a character theme I could grok. I'm surprisingly happy with how it turned out.

    If it were fully up to me our D&D would always be our own version (or BECMI/AD&D/2nd just for nostalgia and simplicity) ...but if this turns out the way it's starting I could be convinced to find a higher shelf for 3.5.
  • I'm really impressed by the analysis that the Magic: the Gathering team does of their playerbase - like Rosewater's psychographics. I'd love to see something similar about Dungeons & Dragons (I don't think that the old Dragon magazine articles about Actors, Casual Gamers, Power Gamers, Rules Lawyers, etc., were really talking about the same thing).

    phoenix182, what sort of spells and skill tricks are you using for cinematic goodness?
  • Well just getting going still (just reached 3rd lvl last session) so I haven't developed enough to earn much yet. But planning on things like clever improviser (bag of sand for the idol pedestal), whip climber (obviously), magical appraisal (figured out the ark, the grail, etc), collector of stories, and a bunch of the movement tricks.

    Spells will be anything I can use to emulate anything done in the movies...for instance: summon monster (or my familiar) to put snakes or monkeys on enemies, jump to clear the pit trap, animate rope to help with whip tricks, comprehend languages to...comprehend languages, and so on.

    End result being that I can use these things to bend mechanics (i.e. reality) enough to achieve scenes in the game resembling the scenes of an Indiana Jones movie.
  • I'd love to see something similar about Dungeons & Dragons (I don't think that the old Dragon magazine articles about Actors, Casual Gamers, Power Gamers, Rules Lawyers, etc., were really talking about the same thing).
    Yeah, I never recognized myself in any of those -- Actor maybe. Now that they've added Instigator, that feels like a better fit. The Big Model (from the Forge) does a better job but also feels incomplete.

    Phoenix182, cool that your daughter is running a game, I started out with my mom as DM, too. We wrapped it up after one session because of murk, I didn't understand the game. One of the biggest regrets of my life, still, even though I blame the edition more than anyone at the table. Wish we could've kept playing.
  • Yeah, she never stood a chance given the amount of hardcore geek permeating all aspects of my life. She's been playing about 8 years now (OMG I'M SO OLD), and just started expressing an interest in running games last year or so. It's great for me because I don't get to be just a player very often.
  • Spells will be anything I can use to emulate anything done in the movies...for instance: summon monster (or my familiar) to put snakes or monkeys on enemies, jump to clear the pit trap, animate rope to help with whip tricks, comprehend languages to...comprehend languages, and so on.

    End result being that I can use these things to bend mechanics (i.e. reality) enough to achieve scenes in the game resembling the scenes of an Indiana Jones movie.
    Sweet. That's definitely taking D&D in a different direction to most players.
  • Yeah, I've heard that since I was 8 and started playing. To me, and those I play with, that's just what roleplaying has always been (i.e. storygaming). Others see us and suffer a near stroke though.
  • I'm really impressed by the analysis that the Magic: the Gathering team does of their playerbase - like Rosewater's psychographics. I'd love to see something similar about Dungeons & Dragons (I don't think that the old Dragon magazine articles about Actors, Casual Gamers, Power Gamers, Rules Lawyers, etc., were really talking about the same thing).

    phoenix182, what sort of spells and skill tricks are you using for cinematic goodness?
    The thing about Timmy, Johnny, and Spike is that they're sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone's reason for playing magic isn't described by one or more of those profiles, they probably don't play magic at all. Dungeons and Dragons has tried, to a greater or lesser degree, to be all things to all people. You can't do that and have conveniently classifiable psychographic profiles at the same time.
  • Great insight. I hadn't thought of it like that.
    That said, I've seen many who are "Johnny"-players in card games take to "buildy" RPGs like 3.5.
  • edited February 2015
    I feel reasonably confident in being able to pigeonhole most D&D players (pride before a fall) into four categories.

    1. DMs running D&D to act as the social lynchpin and motivator of the gaming group, the commissar type.

    2. DMs running D&D to enact their creative fantasies and the enjoyment of the story, the arty type.

    3. Players playing D&D for the enjoyment of their characters and to interact with the world, the roleplaying type.

    4. Players playing D&D for the enjoyment of the game and a sense of mastery, escapism or entertainment, the gamer type.

  • The point is that Timmy/Johnny/Spike are just fundamentally more specific than that. Potemkin, your #4 description would effectively cover the timmy, johnny, and spike analogues by itself.
  • Which confirms my suspicion that D&D is fundamentally more varied and engaging than Magic the Gathering. Or at least that having two ways to engage with the game (either as DM or Player) pushes it outside the limited scope of the Tims, Johns and Spikes.
  • What? How? If anything, D&D would be less engaging.

    The point of the T/J/S analysis is that it's seeking to find specific game elements that will engage specific players. A certain card will appeal to Timmy because it's big and impressive. A different card will appeal to Spike because it's not particularly tricky or impressive, but it is efficient.

    Using your four type model doesn't really help with any of that. Can I point to a feat and say "this feat appeals to all players who play for the enjoyment of the game"? No, because those players enjoy the game in a very different way. Timmy might dislike a feat because it isn't visceral enough. Change it to be more visceral, and Johnny might start to dislike it because it's too simplistic. Change it to please Johnny, and Spike might dislike it because it's not an efficient choice.

    And that extends equally into the other three realms you describe. Consider three more psychographic profiles, corresponding to your #3 (role-player) category: Jenny, Sam, and Erasmus. They each derive their pleasure from the fictional, role-playing aspect of the game, but that doesn't really help the game designer.

    For example, Jenny and Sam disagree on what the character advancement system should be like, because Jenny comes to the table with a specific character already in mind, and wants an advancement system that allows her to continue playing that character. But Sam is all about change, and she wants a character advancement system that encourages drastic changes. Jenny wants to start as a 1st level apprentice thief and end as a 20th level apprentice thief, while Sam wants to start as an apprentice thief and end as a king. Meanwhile, Erasmus hates that, because Erasmus already knows the name of the king (Because Erasmus has read the setting guide cover-to-cover) and if someone else becomes king, that changes the world, and Erasmus is all about inhabiting the world he likes.

    On the other hand, Erasmus and Jenny disagree about the alignment system, because Erasmus believes that the alignment system helps define the important conflicts that shape the world, while Jenny believes that her character is a special snowflake and the alignment system is trying to force her to be in a box. Meanwhile, Sam is fine with alignments, but only if she can change her character's alignment over the course of play.

    To be an engaging game design in the way that MtG is an engaging game design, D&D would have to recognize the difference between Jenny, Sam, and Erasmus. Your 4-types model certainly fails to do that. I think the actual designers of D&D have often done a better job over the years, but they've done so in very haphazard ways, and some iterations of the game therefore fail to engage certain players.
  • edited February 2015
    Yes, I think you're right. You really can't have convenient classifiable profiles relate to a game that's attempting as broad a number of things as D&D is. I don't agree that it's trying to be all things to all people, but it's certainly used that way by some playgroups.

    Whew, sorry for going off-topic a bit hard thar.
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