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.

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.

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.

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.

The story continues Sunday, Aug 8 2010 

The players made it to a town with of Tilverdale which was at the base of the mountain and a trade town.  This allowed them to get some weaponry and stock up on supplies that they had lost from the slavers.  Walking around town they found the Skorne one side of the slavers and Roland follwed him to learn more about their enemy.  He succeeded in a skill challenge of shadowing the Skorne praetorian commander and learned their numbers and their plans for when they were moving out.

In the bar they met an strange elf named Castri (yeah, I was bored and used my Dark Sun encounters character) for a bit of RPing fun.  He gave the party information about the Skorne and their society.  The party offered to take him as he might come in handy navigating the terrain and to get a little revenge on the Skorne.

The party setup a rock slide ambush on the praetorian party.  The fight went pretty well for their party with only a few nicks and scratches minus the praetorian commander getting into the Deidra and Elphaba.  Thankfully the leader of the Skorne called off his troops in order to survive the bloodsheed.  The party took Jasteer of House Balaar of the Skorne and learned what they could have from the drop.  They decided to take Jasteer with them and send the two praetorian back into the desert.

After setting up watch they learned their new elf friend Castri was a bit of a cannibal.  He apparently had gone back during the night and cut up some the skorne flesh as well as catching some regular food for the guests.  The party decided it was time to send him packing and he left with no further provocation.

The players had a plan to use the skorne robes they had and get closer to the Blood Reaver hobgoblin slavers.  Unfortunately Elphaba set off a smile rockslide while moving up stealthily which lead the the Hobgoblin archers shooting and bloodied her immediately.  The rest of the party still used their advantage of took to charging the slavers.  The fight was a knockout brawl and the party came up victorious.  Highlighted by the rogue fighting a hobgoblin wearing his armor.  That would be the last armor that hobgoblin wore.

The party traded the Hobgoblin is life for information and the warcaster kept his mouth shut for the most part as he did not feel the party would keep their word.  They handed over the hobgoblin and one of the slaves to Jasteer, the dwarf Ramkin Glintshield and the human Coleman decided to take arms against the Bloodreavers.

The party went through the tunnels and came upon a guard station.  Roland once again took the robes and bluffed the guards into believing he was one of the skorne.  One of the watchmen went back to tell the leader that the trade had been unsuccessful.  The other two guards quickly came under the blades of the party.  Fearing that the hobgoblins might be too alert and resources expended the party decided to back out of the mountains and make back to Tilverdale.

Gen Con and the little things Wednesday, Aug 4 2010 

I know many a group is traveling to Gen Con right now or with then then next few days.  So, lets stay safe on those road as we do those 16+ hour road trips straight .  Also, lets be classy and no gouging at Gen Con we gotta show the West Coast how to act at a convention. 🙂

A new update came out for the character builder which I am pulling down now as I type and several hours after you read. It looks like it just added in items from the last months books and magazines.  Which is fine as I just bought HS2 Orcs of Stonefang pass and I got to say it is unique.  I think people at the least should check it out.  My party will possibly be hitting that this weekend after the debacle of getting captured last session.  Or they just might go home to lick some wounds.

Its Wednesday and so we get D&D encounters today.  By my thoughts today is probably end of the chapter.  So, blow those dailies and action points because no reason to hang on to them.  I’m really enjoying this style and having fun with Castri.  Of course coming out axes blazing is much fun.  Next season we are suppose to make our characters and would like complete confirmation before I go hog wild.  This is something I may bring up today to the guys I have in my group.

My Gen Con Itinerary for today

3am – Wake up all excited that I have a fantastic job so I read some mail and blog.

5:30 AM- Eat a muffin and get ready for work

6:30 AM- Arrive at work, set up for the day

8:00 AM- Go down for coffee break and further discuss projects

9-11 AM – Work furiously on projects

11 AM- Lunch and read up on all the Gen Con happenings

12-4 PM Back to work

6pm – D&D Encounters where I get to blow my dailies and action points

7pm – Work on my campaign and watch various tv shows

Get ready to repeat the next day.

Nope my itinerary is nowhere near as exciting anyone actually there.  But, I have a fantastic career that does so much for me.  So, I may miss out on little things like Nationals and Gen Con but they more than make up for it in other ways. So, let us know about your awesome Gen Con experiences and have a fantastic week.

How to deal with time off? Wednesday, Jun 30 2010 

Its that time of year when people have vacations and summer things going on.  People do not want to be in the house they want to experience the joys of the good weather.  So how people deal with games going on Hiatus for one or two months?  What do you do to bring people back to the fold?

The D&D campaign Saturday, Jun 26 2010 

Its been a while since I have written anything in this spot.  Work was a challange the last couple of weeks and took me away from this.  I really need to get back to this and keep writing.  If I am going to actually finish the book I want to write.  Those pages will just languish if I do not do anything with them.

Probably like every other sports fan that is not out I am watching Ghana vs US in soccer.  While I am not a soccer fan per se I will watch in person and it is fun during this time.  It may not be exciting as other fast paced sports but it has its place.  Also, the buzzing sound is pretty horrid.  I can only imagine being there in person.  It sounds as if a hornets nest has been stirred up and I’m walking towards it.  Probably something our characters may hear upon coming upon a giant bee’s nest.

http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/darym-return-of-durac Is the like to where I am keeping some campaign information.  And it actually has been fleshed out with history and factions of intrest, along with NEW NPC with pictures.  Now just to get my players to take a peek there.  Probably add in something such as free reroll in game for finding better picture, writing history, etc.

So, I was setting up to finish the final two encounters for Keep on the Shadowfell I got a text from my wife stating that her friend wanted to play.  Within twenty minutes I made a paladin and a cleric very quickly for their friend to play.  When they got here after niceties I gave them the PH and said look at pictures and tell me what you think is cool.  Thankfully they picked a cleric and I printed out the character for them via the handy D&D tools.  My group was a little shocked someone just popped in but were very helpful to the newbie.  Well just as helpful as they are to my wife as she figures out her wizard.

After using some shennigans I had the cleric join the party via the ghost of the Verdent Lord they found in the kobold lair.  They went down and dealt with both encounters with good efficiency I thought.  I made a dramatic decision and had Karlael after being pushed into the pool of blood just slowly sink.  Then I had the portal pop out Durac and I totally mishandled how my party would deal with this character.  I should of just had him say a few things and leave.  I think the late night made me make poor decisions.

My players then headed back to Winterhaven and were given a hero’s welcome.  After some trade they went on back to their home base of Fellcrest.  Which is pretty much where we left it.  The cleric decided to join the group full time and I hope she continues to play.  Unfortunately this will be our last session before a three week hiatus because of vacations for everyone.  I hope the rust is not too bad when we come back.  I am trying to keep session full of side adventures and get things ready for the next big adventure for them.

Flowing thoughts Tuesday, Jun 8 2010 

Well tomorrow we have the release of the Cryx book and in a month the release of the mercenary book for Warmachine.  I am very excited to see what is in store for the Merc book.  I can hope for an epic Ashlynn and good storyline.  Then Gen Con will see the release of the Hordes Primal book.

The Ravagore for legion just went up.  It looks like an overblown stinger.  I just feel like Legion beasts are just unispired.  This is the faction lead by the most creative, smartest, and egotistical dragon.  Something just does not feel right these models.  I am getting the feeling that when they swapped the play style of Legion they got confused on what they want to do.  Skorne and legion feel like incomplete factions while Trolls and Circle seem to be aokay. 

The D&D game is going great so far.  They are about to reach the second floor of the Shadow Keep.    All the old school players have picked up fourth edition nicely.  The two newbies to our group are picking it up slowly.  Not sure what I can do to help them catch on faster.  We each help them with the powers and so forth.  But they do take a little extra time trying to figure out what to do.  Those who wish to follow along can check it out here.

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