My wants for D&DNext Friday, Jan 20 2012 

Go check out D20 Monkeys amazing cartoon on the DNDNext feedback horror here.

The post I had yesterday was my quick rundown of things I have seen from forum users, players, etc about DNDnext.  While I may of been a little bit harsh about saying your dm sucks if there is no roleplay in 4e, that’s actually the groups fault.  I have kind of felt that I keep hearing the same criticism over and over from people about 4e and most of it is pretty unfounded.  Or with a little bit of knowledge is quickly dismissed, if people are actually wanting to listen to reason.  Of course this is the internet and geeks over their ‘precious’ so we know how that goes.  I’m sure I’ve done my fair share of holding onto sacred cows over the time.  Well, actually I did during the play test of Hordes and hated seeing my favorite beasts turned to mediocre instead of the awesome they were.  Unlike in a rpg in a miniature game I can’t just stick with an older edition and play it I have to move on and maybe that’s why I am able to better equipped when I see the D&Dnext items in the horizon.

My wants are pretty basic and fall right in line with most everyone else.  I’ll try not to do the pie in sky items that are never going to happen.  I said try 🙂

  1. Electronic tools day 1 with character builder, monster builder, conversion from 4e to DNDNext in HTML5 as well as continued support for the 4e tool set.
  2. Podcasts of walking through rules and play maybe 1-2 months in advance to give us some better ideas of what we are going to deal with.  Sure, forums, and reading are great but sometimes certain things don’t come up in our brain into it actually happens and seeing “experts” deal with them might help.
  3. Unique new setting or continue with Nentir Vale as default.  ( I think this might be lost with all the Forgotten Realms freaks out there)
  4. Settings book for GreyHawk, Ravenloft, Dark Sun that give a detail of what you need to change in order to make that world yours and play in it from the generic default setting.
  5. Drow go back as a feared and hated race.
  6. Make it so a strength built fighter can fire a bow and actually hit something reliably.  He does not have to be ranger accurate but at least be useful.  This was one thing in 4e I’ll give to all the haters that made zero sense to me.  The warrior trained in all weapons was pretty much never going to hit anything with a bow and arrow.
  7. Keep to the default basic races Human, Half Elf, Elf, Dwarf, Half-Orc and basic classes Fighter, Wizard, Ranger, Paladin, Cleric, Rogue.  Get these right first and then you can expand from there.  Or maybe those will be enough and with feats or trees people can customize to their hearts content. 
  8. Do not listen to everybody and make it too generic.  If we wanted that we would all go play HERO or GURPS.  Do not go the way of Conan and listen to all the whines and turn something good into something horrible.
  9. Themes need to stay.  I think they are a really great jumping off point for how things can be done right.
  10. Make the shade something worthwhile, 4e neutered this concept to me 🙂

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Let me know what you think and if my ideas gel with yours or if I’m off base.

Back to basics? Monday, May 30 2011 

As I write this I am running my hot water in a locked bathroom to make a faux sauna. I am less than twelve hours from weighing in. Not for a fight or a wrestling match but for a weight loss contest at work. During the last twenty weeks I’ve lost twenty pounds and could stand to lose probably twenty more. I feel really good about my weight loss this period. All I did was add in daily exercise and making healthier choices with my food and beverage choices. As of last weigh in I had a 1.2 % advantage over my closest competition.

Why am I trying to cut weight like a fighter because of weigh ins? I guess it’s the competitive animal in me. I want to know that if I lose it’s because I got beat, not because I left any “weight” on the table so to speak. This attitude served me well while playing sports and all manner of competitive games.

This conversation was helped spawned by the 4e at will chat from Friday night.
What do I mean with back to basics? I recently started looking at Pathfinder and 3.x and remembered all the cool combat maneuvers we use to have. Now in 4e all we have is at wills and a melee basic attack mainly used for opportunity actions. Which we rarely see use of nowadays or at least in my campaign and various sessions of Encounters.  With the essentials release we see martial characters stripped of combat options now. All they can do is swing a sword with no cool additional effects. The encounter and daily powers represented a cool martial maneuver. Now I know wizards is going to say you can still sunder, disarms, trip as given by the discretion of the DM. Well how about you just give us rules for these options and make it simple for everyone

What if initially we did not get at-wills and were left with encounters, dailies, utilities. And not only melee basic attacks but the old combat manuevers much like pathfinder? I am sure every little mage fan boy just cried a little. Let everyone perform the maneuvers and such and if you want to have a better disarm take feats to allow such a thing. Or just leave the at wills as is and give actual possibility to manuevers for all.

I do understand the streamlined design of 4e and I do like it. Maybe giving back some complexity to the game will help with the audience you lost and are losing with the new direction. A little faith should be put into your customers in how smart they can be. There is no reason not to give out “advanced” options for us players who want it. Games use to have the simple rules and then added in advanced features to enhance it. No reason not to do the same thing here.

I have about five minutes left in this sauna so I will give a short review of The Hangover 2. The short answer is if you liked the first then you will like the second. And if you hated the first then ignore this because it’s more of the same. It will throw in your typical Thailand and Bangkok jokes so be prepared. Leave your brain at home and have a good time

Vampire theme & Assault Tuesday, May 24 2011 

I was planning on writing yesterday but putting my arm in a sling does not help one type. My goal was to give a first shot at a vampire theme for 4e. Then I began reading the uproar about lair assault. Seeing this reminded me about uproars in the miniature world and so I figured I would drop my two cents.

Let’s start with a fun subject first. I think just about anyone who saw heroes of shadow was a little disappointed with the shade and vampire. Sure the class is okay but for those of us who played WoD or even any other edition of D&D it seemed more Twilight then Stoker. The designers have said they built things like they did for layers of creation. So when we got what we got I wondered immediately why not use themes? I understand they did not want to let the newbie come straight in and play vampire without needing extra knowledge of the game. Which is understandable to try to hit the niche vampire r KeWl crowd. Hooray for Wotc, now how about a bone for your advanced players?

I’m not really going too far with my creation of this as I think they got the basics right. This will probably need to be playtested to make the best result.

Vampire template:

The bad

Lose half your surges. Patterning this after the only 2 surges the regular vampire has.

Gain Vulnerability to Radiant 5

If you end your turn in direct sunlight and lack a protective covering  you take 5 radiant damage (plus additional damage from your radiant vulnerability) from the sunlight, and you are weakened (save ends). If you drop below 1 hit point from this damage, you are instantly destroyed.
 

Gain

You are an undead creature.  No need to eat, breathe, sleep.  But still must rest to gain healing surges, dailies, etc.
You have darkvision.
When you are bloodied gain regeneration at your highest stat attribute.  (Going back to the different types of vampires.  This probably should be based on Charisma aka Willpower)

I do not know how to do make the cool encounter power stuff and I am sure someone can tell me how to do it very easily.  So bear with this.

Vampire Bite : Melee 1  Hit: Attribute vs AC if you have someone grabbed you autohit.  Dmg: 1d4 + gain a surge

This allows the whole stealing from party members to heal up to full.

Also, if you have more surges then your max lose surges and go to full hit points.

Utility powers: Just follow the progression from the vampire class

Next time I will tackle the shade. He is dear to my heart and I was disappointed with what I got from Heroes of Shadow. So, instead of complaining I will do something proactive and build my own version.

Now on to this whole lair assault thing that has people all in an uproar. It’s honestly just the flip side to the Encounters program. It’s there for people who want something a bit more then the whole level one to three intro adventure. Basically they want to give some of the challenges they have done at conventions and give them to the LGS’s to run and drive some sales and give extra exposure to the game. Not a thing wrong with that and it might be fun for a change of pace.  I know our own LGS has dropped the whole essentials only for Encounters because those of us who prefer martial characters think just swinging a sword is boring :).
If you don’t like it the idea then ignore it and do not play in it. Very simple don’t be negative especially when you have not even tried it. The program was not made for people like you. This is like how in miniatures such as Warmachine/Hordes you had tournaments and leagues. The leagues are balanced for people who want to try new things and can play tons of games. They are not for the hardcore tournament guys. Were tournaments are there for the players who get tactics and know there way around the game. Two programs that outreach to two totally different consumers of the said game. If one hobby can do it why can not another do the same thing without all the teeth gnashing?

I get that tactics appeal to some people and not all.  Why I personally come from a miniatures war gaming background as well as card game professional I also like the role playing side as well.   I’ve also played at conventions from 1e up to 3e and guess what there was no role play for the most part.  Why, oh because of a TIME CONSTRAINT!  If you want to roleplay do not go to Encounters, Lair Assault, or Living Forgotten Realms, or the new Pathfinder program.  Why because time will stop that from happening.  Do not get me wrong and think I do not role play at all.  My home groups will tell you sometimes I get carried away with it.  And one DM who will remain nameless gives me looks to keep me line with my bard.

So in the end play what you like and have fun!

It’s been a while Sunday, May 22 2011 

Like the title said it has been a long time since I have posted anything to this blog.  The real world has  back  over much of my life.  Fortunately the big project at work has been taken care of and now I can get back to other things that I enjoy more.  After  losing both my main machine and backup I lost a lot of work.  However, the only way to get back to it is just that start writing again.  So, this is my initial run of starting my writing back up.

My personal game has reached its one year anniversary.  I’m pretty happy with how its all turned out.  We will be approaching paragon tier very soon.  A couple of players have figured out their paths so that is going to help with the path of the campaign.  The next place I believe they will go is the Underdark or to the Shadowfell which I am fortunate Gloomwrought came out.

I finished up running the Encounters season of March of the Phantom Brigade.  It went really well for the most part.  I unfortunately had 4 TPKs for the season, which no other DM has done on now at the store.  The players seemed to be okay with that has they began to use better tactics throughout.   I will say that running 8 players in 4e just sucks as a DM.  It might be just as bad a player with that much time between turns.   Plus its hard to scale the encounter on the fly just right sometimes especially with all the insubstantial running around.

We got tired of the essentials characters so we will be playing anything goes for Evard’s.  The first couple of weeks have been interesting.  Hopefully they will continue this path and we will not see the frustration we saw with the insubstantial last season.  This has given me an opportunity to play around with the themes that WOTC has released recently.   So far I’ve only tried the Order of the adept for the extra aoe.  I’ll definitly will try more over the time.  I’m not so sure of the long term additions themes will bring and may not know for a while. 

 Upcoming posts will  give my theme for vampire and shade which is what I think all of us wanted to see.    

You may follow me at Saintdave22 on twitter.

Things to do Monday, Jan 31 2011 

I know most people do resolutions and such at the start of a year.  I’ve finally been able to sit down and think what I want/need to do this year.  Of course the wife and friends will always add and subtract from things we need to do.  I’m sure many of your lists will reflect mine or maybe you will have an idea for me or something will jog for you to try.

  1.  Write more
  2.  Run D&D 4e with my friends and keep it fun
  3.  Take my turn as DM of Essentials
  4.  Lose weight
  5.  Sell off miniatures and games not using
  6. Attend a gaming convention
  7. Read more

These are mainly simple goals but with the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we forget things we wanted to do and just lose sight.  One reason gym memberships swell in January and their use declines significantly by March.  I’ve already started writing more as I need to write if I ever want to finish the book I started writing.  Now I have no delusions that it will make me a best selling author but I just want to finish it.  Sort of like training for a marathon and running it. 

I will be running March of the Phantom Brigade at my local store for next season.  I know I DM at home but the other players who could run it have run the past two seasons.  Yes, I lose my chance to stretch out and play but its only fair to take my turn behind the screen.  Next season we might be able to get a new player behind the screen.

Darym campaign- Entering Tomb of Horrors Sunday, Jan 23 2011 

The characters worked out what the next step was and that was to figure out how Durac made people forget about him.  After leaving they were greeted by an old man who said if they answered a riddle he would answer three questions.  After answering a relatively easy riddle they got some answers from the man.  Who ended up actually being a 5′ tall grey rat man or Skaven. This shocked has these were creatures of myth.  He explained that they had tipped the scales when things got too far out of balance.  Showing the drow the secret tunnels to the dwarven stronghold.  Putting the whisper in a kings ear to unite a kingdom or planting the seeds of deceit in a in a general.

After learning that two more spells will be cast one on the shadow plane and the other on the fey kingdom they head out for the fey bridge.  Using the knowledge [[:elphaba | Elphaba]] had passed to [[:crispis | Crispis]] of where they lived they made the journey to the rainbow bridge.  Upon coming upon a beautiful summer glade in winter(?) they were greeted by  [[:boromeer-rageshadow | Boromeer Rageshadow]].  He at first did not wish to allow them passage but relented eventually.  The keep was on high alert due to the instability in human kingdoms.  After verbal jabs back and forth he took them to see Whirlwands Moonshadow.

The cousin of Elphaba who was once Durac’s traveling companion.  The learned that he had broke the nose of Durac as well as ran away and allowed him to get capture.  For this Durac waited and caught him and tortured him some 50 years later.  He had been branded with the symbol of the griffon.  He was a broken man speaking in broken language throughout the conversation.  They got the names of the first traveling companions of Durac as well as one of the generals, Acerak.

Jumping on the lead they asked Rageshadow to take them to Acerak and he said that he had died.  Not believing him Rageshadow took him to one of the mages that was their at his death.  The mage claimed that he had help trap Acerak in a tomb over two hundred years ago and that he was quite dead.  The group wanted to see this “tomb” for themselves.  So he transported them there.

The group found themselves in a cave with light leading up and a dark hallway with several frescoes painted on the wall, on the ground itself.  After navigating some pittraps they entered the fresco of a four armed demon.  After entering the chamber found behind the door they were greeted with the taunting of Acerak and four armed gargoyle.  After a very long battle the group moved on and found a room of three chests.  When they opened the first one a giant dual scimitar wielding skeleton attacked them after finally dispatching it the part is laying bloody and exhausted.

This campaign may also be found at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/darym-return-of-durac/adventure-log

Everything old is new again Saturday, Jan 15 2011 

I hae seen many people discussing the different announcements by WOTC on their D&D property.  Maybe it is Hasbro not understanding the RPG model and trying to get the same ROI that MTG has brought them.  When WOTC originally bought D&D we heard all the doom and gloom about how they would ruin it.  We got D&D 3.e and it was in my opinion a good edition.  When 4e came out we heard how everything was going to ruin the game.  And with the announcements of killing the miniature line and the addition of the D&D randomized booster pack cards wil ruin the game.

Honestly the only thing that can ruin your game is yourself or the group your in.  A good GM can make a break a campaign.  A good group that works together will overcome the shortcomings.  Look at all the OD&D groups.  How many people stayed with 3.5?  Pathfinder took hold because it saw the hole left with 3.5 to 4e and fixed them. 

When the Chainmail line came out in early 2002(?) many of us took it up as our side game from 40k and WHFB.  Unfortunately they gave it about a year to take hold and swapped to the plastics.  This made some people happy and some of us not so much.  We enjoyed D&D miniatures that showed classed we were playing in a metal form that we could paint.  The prepainted items that came up just were not for us.  Now D&D minis is gone for good minus the special sets.  I am sure players will find a new outlet for miniatures.  Sure tokens are alright but I think most of us like seeing 3d monster on the grid.

Now we have these cards that being added to the game.  I doubt my players will pick them up and use.  In Encounters they are your “rent” for playing in the game.  I do not think its a bad idea for LGS to make money off this service.  I know some of the players at the LGS I play at buy their stuff off the internet and do not support the store.  8 cards for $4 is a bit steep though.  The pricepoint should be less since last I remember MTG is 15 cards for 4?  Maybe the cards are of a higher quality?  But I doubt that.  I hope that they have some negatives to them as well but since they are more buff cards I doubt it.  Makes the DM have a monster deck to help even odds out.  So, the best thing is to have your home group talk it out and decide if cards are good for you or to spend on something else.

Now those who play in the RPGA living realms and complain that you have to buy several cards to build correct decks to compete with the power level increase that may happen.  I feel bad for you.  But since there is no roleplay and most of the encounters can only be overcome via combat in those games your probably have to make some investment.  Well your their target for this.  Just talk it out amongs your group to figure things out.  Maybe invest in a box with several people and get cards that work for your build.  Or do not use them at all.

Return to Fellcrest Monday, Jan 10 2011 

The heroes cleared out the slavers without any problem.  They found a ledger with several symbols in it that correlated to certain races being bought and sold.  Another had the payout to several bounty hunters as well that they recognized.  When they went into the cells they were greeted by Castri, who they let out and sent on his way.

They went up the other tunnel which they figured out was the dragons escape route.  When they got to the top they meet by an ice troll calling himself Niq the Quik.  The fight was quickly over and they checked out the view at the top of the mountain.  On one side was tents of a skorne party the heroes had no intention of crashing and the other contained the lights Silverton.

Getting back Silverton lead to a nice rest for the heroes.  This was short lived when the blacksmith banged at their door seeking help.  When they made it to Darren the necromancers place they saw several gnolls assaulting the farm.   The gnolls were trying to get the necromancers child and when the leader of the gnolls saw the party, the voice of Orcus cursed them for meddling again. After saving Darren’s wife and baby the heroes tried to talk Darren into leaving his farm.  Which in the end he acquiesced and left for Fellcrest to start a new life.

Rolling into Fellcrest the group was puzzeled that no history existed for Durac and no person they talked to remembered him.  Roland and Crispis found their friend Alex Stormheart all in shining plate as newly initated Paladin of Everyn. Finally, they went to a church of the Raven Queen were they ran into Razvahn.  He met them at the Red Velvet Inn were he told them that the church was monitoring him very closely as he was an outworlder and one of the few shadar-kai walking the world of Darym.

Clash of the titan Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 

In the latest installment our heroes slaughtered the last of the orcs finding the other pieces to bind stonefang. They went back to the ritual area and went to put the Titan back in his place. They meet up with one of the shadowed clan dwarves and got right into the action. Just as the dwarves had places the rib Stonefang threw a boulder and smashed them. This was to let the players know it was serious business.

They went right to it, by getting all the pieces bonded immediately. Stonefang wiffed his first round immediately. It was then a race to finish Stonefang and luckily only Roland got taken out but not dead. Well and a couple of summoned animals got killed too bit they don’t really count 🙂  The heroes quickly finished the ceremony with the last dwarf and put Stonefang to rest for a bit.

They then struck back out to Tilverdale to meet up with Thoren and let them know they had succeeded.  Flinka was happy to know they had found her sisters medallion communicator and gave them as a gift to the heroes.  After a brief respite they got  Thoren and his companions back to the pass and checked in on Shadowfell Keep.  They meet up with Lord Maxwell and saw the renovations that had taken place.  They got a bad feeling from Larak who is one of the advisors as well as ran into Ninnaran who happens to be a scout for Lord Maxwell.

This leads the heroes with several things to deal with and options to move on to.  And what exactly happened to Elfaba?

Week of stuff Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

This has been a crazy week for me with work as well as my wife.  This morning things have slowed down enough for me to post and get my thoughts out.  The post will be one of those mixed bags of everything just kinda vomited up.  Sorry about the image there just did not know of a better way to describe it in this early morning.

I am glad for the age we live in so we can have live updates and quick responses.  I was very glad of all the Gen Con and Comic Con coverage I have received over the last few weeks through various blogs.  Its people showing you what is there almost immediately and we do not have to wait 2-3 months in magazine what exactly happened.  We have learned about the cool Odin’s throne room, infinity gauntlet, Lords of Madness, gator warlocks, etc.  This is a pretty nice day and age of course there can be too much information has everyone wants to be “FIRST!” but right now I feel the good far outweighs the bad. 

Scott Pilgrim was a fun ride that my wife and I both enjoyed.  The easiest way to describe it is a romantic comedy video game adventure.  So, it has something for everyone.  It was definitely a very fun romp through the universe of Scott Pilgrim. 

My own game has started Orcs of Stonefang Pass.  I have to say the monsters have been putting a hurt on my players.  The two part earthquake encounter was fun for everyone and was causing a little be of havoc.  I like different ways of doing fights as it adds a little something to the story.  Plus, I can use it later as well and twist it on my players.  This reminds me to make an update to my campaign page as well http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/darym-return-of-durac.  I just got my Dark Sun module to run the game day adventure at my store.  I hope I do alright I mainly said I would do it to give our DM’s from our Encounters program a break.  So, I’ll need to get acquainted with it shortly.

Hordes/Warmachine!!  The Skorne book came out and I really like it for the most part.  I do not see anything really over the top good in the theme forces but maybe we will see something in actual play.  And after going through my Legion cards I think I really can thank PP for nerfing both Skorne and Legion.  I did not expect it with the play test but it actually did happen.  Its a very sad day to see unfortunately that the knee jerk reaction went this far across the bar.  After having conversation with a few in house PP guys last year and hearing “Legion players do not know how to play and when MK II comes its going to be a rude awakening”.  Maybe but I think it went a bit far overall.  Balance is what I think everyone wanted and its just sort of sad to see the pendulum go a little too far.

Finally, football season is upon us and that also means fantasy football time.  I love fantasy football as it makes me more interested in all the games and helps me to appreciate more teams out there.  It also practices a little bit of strategy as well and I think the more different types of games you play it helps you all around.

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