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.

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DND NEXT!! Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

5th edition is coming out and that makes everyone excited and nervous.  People tossing ideas like they think it’s going to impact what WOTC has.  I think it’s great to come up with all these ideas and maybe this will spawn some people to get together and make a new version or put in house rules to try out in their current game.  However, I do not think we will be getting to affect the foundation as much as everyone would like to hope.  I doubt we are going to create completely new mechanics like “bennies” or a spell point system.

This will be pretty much like what we had Warmachine/Hordes field test and the Pathfinder beta.  Hopefully without having to pay to do the beta like they did with Pathfinder?  And less whining from Warmachine people on the hordes play test.   As we saw in those we had the foundation and a lot of items already built we just needed to tweak items to get them just right.

WHAT DO WE KNOW?   What we know is that they have some kind of outline and enough for a sneak peak to be shown at DDXP.  And we may or may not get something out of that to let us know what to expect.  There is a friends and family beta test going in right now.  Several bloggers are in on it and maybe after a certain period of time they will be allowed to say their impressions.  We also know that there will be an OPEN test supposedly in the spring time.  That will give us our first look at what’s in store for us in DNDNEXT!

Wow let me say there are a ton of ideas and people out there with what they want to see.  And it is seriously mind-blowing to see so many people involved and that’s those who are in specific groups and not those who dodge forums.  So I can imagine all the feedback WOTC will get when this goes OPEN.  I do not envy them that task.

Things I want people to think about are this.  If you are playing any version of D&D or Pathfinder you are doing it right!  We all enjoy playing games and if your group is having fun with it then that’s that.  So to tell me my idea is dumb because I like a particular mechanic then you are not what we need in a play test.  Please do not waste WOTC’s time go back to your cave and play your game and let the rest of us try to make this the best edition for what we want. 

 I’ve seen several people go off about battle grids are horrible please do not have them, without giving a why.  Or 4e had no role-playing to it.  Really or is it because your DM sucked?  Yep, I just called out your groups DM, right there.  Role playing is what your group makes of it I am sure everyone has had good and poor experiences NO MATTER THE EDITION.  A poor group can sour anything.  So to blame an entire edition and say it had no role-playing in it makes you sound uninformed.  4E every class played the same?  What really?  So you are telling me that it’s okay for my cleric to get stuck in to monsters and pretend to tank?  Or for other simile that Cygnar plays exactly like Khador.  Once again you are uninformed and should keep your opinion to yourself.  The only way they are similar is that you mechanically roll dice to see if you’re successful but to succeed you will have to drastically do different things.

Another fallacy I hear is 4e combat takes too long without why it takes too long?  You know what combat took too long any WOD combat!  3E and 4e combat takes about the same amount of time of about 60-90 minutes for an average encounter.  Let’s take a look at the why’s combat is taking too long.  Now this will be my conjecture and from what I’ve seen in running my home game, running events, running/playing Encounters for 2 years, and from stories of those I know personally.

  1. People do NOT PAY ATTENTION.  People are too busy doing other things and when their turn comes up they waste time making a decision.  That’s your fault bad player not the game.
  2. People refuse to learn their characters.  Sorry, you’ve been playing the same guy and same abilities for 8 consecutive weeks it does not take 5 minutes to figure out which power to use.
  3. Out of turn actions.  This can disrupt play but usually only causes a hiccup by example 1 players who go “Whoa, I should of attack with X player cut of y”  Game master “Well you should but I called your name and you didn’t respond”  Once again a player not paying attention causes issues for everyone. 
  4. Rules.  Not having a tight rule set can lead to rules arguments.  I’ve had them in EVERY game I’ve played period.  Tight rule set for the DM helps prevent these arguments. 
  5. Options.  Having too many options can paralyze a player with analysis paralysis.  Yep, understand that in early levels as everyone gets use to things.  And also if something just happened that was really crushing and changed everything which is an exception not an every time occurrence.  But then this turns to point 2 LEARN YOUR CHARACTERS ABILITIES after a time.

In my next post I’ll go through some of the things I would like to see in DNDNEXT.

 

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

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.

Random Musings on a day off Monday, Feb 21 2011 

My wife is at the dentist and I’ve done my morning routine of knee exercises so I have time to put into the blog.  The problem is what to write about?  So, instead of having a topic I decided just to throw things that were coming to mind.

First, Dragon Age 2 will give us a demo tomorrow, 2-22.  This should give us a little bit of satisfaction while we starve for the real thing that comes out in March.  After playing the first rather recently I’m very excited to continue my time in the Dragon Age universe.

Second, I came across the new trailer for Game of Thrones on HBO, found here .  This looks to be coming along well.  Now if Martin would get off his duff and finish the books and not pull a Jordan on us.  I’m very excited to see the world come to life on-screen.  I wonder if Vegas has a prop bet on him finishing his book before he dies or not.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the Conquest of Nerath Boardgame.  This is supposed to played much like Risk from the information we have.  I would like to know more about it before I preorder it.  I mean $50 for a board game is nice chunk of change and would like to see a little bit more of the pieces or gameplay before plunking it down.  However, if I wait the preorder price goes up to $75 which might be hard pill to swallow if its not a good game.  So if anyone runs across something about it please toss it my way.

I have encounters to run in a few days and feel that I might be killing my players this week.  TPK because people refuse to use tactics are justified in this setting.  I’m not fudging dice rolls to make people feel good.  If these people want to do the extreme hard-core delves they need to learn now what to do because I’m pretty sure these will be WAY harder.

Encounters and Home games Thursday, Feb 17 2011 

I have been running encounters for the March of the Phantom brigade.  The first session we had 8 players and unfortunately we had no way to get a second table going.  So, off we go with 7 stirges and 8 pcs.  Unfortunately for the pcs they could not hit a thing.  The stirges dropped each of the pc’s at least once and in case of the warlock three separate times.

Week two we actually got to split up the groups a bit.  The goblins I used went to town on pc’s who charged out of place and let themselves get surrounded.  2 pc deaths and almost TPK if the wizard had not critted on his daily fire fountain spell.  Heroic moment there you go!  Now, I did have all the least experienced players at my table.  Including the duo that played defenders who ran away from the dragon and refused to take a hit that killed a cleric. 

I’m sort of torn on what to do here.  Now, do I keep up the tough love and as they continuously play poorly?  Or do I baby them and have the monsters do stupid things instead of playing them correctly?  I think not killing them is doing a disservice as they have had one full season to learn the game and still doing the same things.

The other front I’ve been invited to a home game.  I’ve decided to go outside my comfort zone of rogues and wizards and try a defender.   I’m not totally sure what to play here.  I’m drawn to the paladin as it is a polar opposite of the rogue this group knows me for.  Unfortunately I am not able to find something I want to try.  Maybe I should wait and see how the rest of the party shakes out before I try and pigeonhole the type of paladin.  I’m drawn to sword and board but unsure if that’s the best to go with.

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.

Talk about it (Encounters and other things) Thursday, Jan 20 2011 

The second session of the last week Encounter played out last night.  It went almost flawlessly with minimum damage to us and very quick.  We were in and out in under an hour with our party of a mage, a slayer, a hexblade, paladin, and my warpriest (change over from rogue to help out).  Honestly, our mage used their blasts effectively and the catapult finished the house.  This was a great for our table over the last few weeks where the paladin and slayer were refusing to get into melee and causing the team to have several problems.  I really like this last section of Keep of the Borderlands and may take some of the “encounters” and incorporate into my personal game.

Looking at some of the items from WOTC it looks like next seasons Encounters a player starts at level 1 no matter what week they come in.  I understand their thought on this but this could cause some problems with people seeing all these higher level folks and being forced into a level 1 guy.  I know they want to make it easier on new players but lets give them a little credit and the people around to help them figure it out.  I do like that experience will actually be tracked this season but I preferred the free level up.

In September they are also offering a “tournament” level Encounters programs for the hardcore.  I like this but think it might put off the casual player.  Of course its not for them and its okay but I can tell you how many times I’ve heard Friday Night Magic horror stories about over competitive players.  One thing that would be nice is if WOTC put these “hard core” encounters available to everyone so we can take a crack at it by our home players who might have to work on those Encounter days.  I just do not want to see people frustrated that they get steam rolled in the hard core adventure.

As far as on the pop culture scene it looks like we got our villain and actors for the next Batman movie.  I’m happy with Hathaway as Selina Kyle and know she will do fine.  I keep hearing to watch HAVOC for an excellent performance by her.  Now, I just finished Bronson that features Tom Hardy who will be playing Bane.  Bane is one of my favorite villains in the Dark Knights rogues gallery and I remember getting sucked back into the  comic world during the “BREAKING OF THE BAT”.  Now, Hardy can act but I just pictured someone bigger as Bane.  Brock Lesnar is about the right size or even Cain Velasquez would even fill the latin requirement.

For those who read this drop me an idea for some topics you would like to see and I’ll get on it.

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.

Labor day and D&D Thursday, Sep 2 2010 

I’m taking a nice four day weekend this week for many reasons. The main being it’s time for a nice break from work, get random errands done that are hard to do during the week, and to relax a little. I’ve been teasing third book of the fire and ice series and loving it. So I can take my car to get a checkup and read a book

Encounters this week was fun but very frustrating to me. We had two new guys which is great but lost two of other guys to school. I was lit up by chain immobilized by the gith. Not a pleasant place for a marauding ranger. Also unfortunately burned through all my surges because the new guys did not want to waste encounter powers. It’s fine they are new and it happens. The good news is I did take over 50 damage and revived a dying ally (thank you curious knack). So I am assured to make the magical sixty mark but will be pretty useless the next two encounters with thirteen hit points and no surges. This should pose an interesting challenge

Okay just found out that the immobilization was an encounter power and the dm made a mistake throwing it every round. Well that bites a bit but what can you do ? Everyone makes mistakes I know I have as the game master. Maybe I’ll catch some luck next week.  Heck I use to have affect wrong in 4e for while and unless it hit.  Something I learned from playing encounters actually.

A player of mine bought some gaming paper for me and I plan to bust some of it out this weekend. There are a couple of encounters that wizards did not supply maps for. So let’s use my present right? Everyone has raved about it so it should be excellent for what I need. I bet there is way to print up my own single sheets at home. That would probably work better for the places I am using this week.

Writing this blog has given me the itch to go back to the book I am working on. I need to read it and fix the obvious errors and hopefully get back to the flow. I feel this blog has given me an outlet to get unblocked.

I did a little jaunt on a podcast so those of you wanting to hear my voice take a listen.  I will also plug their podcast which is listed on the side of my blog, ZERO FORTITUDE.  Here is a link and go ahead and give me pointers about my wirting or my radio skills.

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