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.

 

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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!

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.

User error Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

I think  with technology as it is today everyone has fallen prey to this. everything to remotes not working because dead batteries to screen savers not coming on because you turn your monitor off before they come on in power settings. We see this in gaming as well. Some of it just happens and some of it is blatant.

The idea is to always play perfectly and make no mistakes. If you can go back and say I made all the correct decisions with the information I had then you can not fault yourself for losing. Playing perfectly means you doing all the right things even those that hinder you when you play. For instance remembering to take damage when you cut for fury, tap a painland, retrieve an encounter power via a feat. No one is perfect and errors will occur but with two or more people there to police inadvertent actions can be caught.

I’ve seen the rising of “simple mistakes” in competitive play recently. Now I do not know if it’s the rise of new players or people trying to play the system. I have seen cases of both recently. The best defense for this is not to allow any take backs in competitive play, no exceptions. I watched a player try this ploy in a tournament recently. They “forgot” to place focus during convenient times. After watching this happen in two different rounds I got wise to the situation. In my game my opponent did not allocate focus on the third turn after being perfect for two turns. I said no after he started moving his second jack to allowing him to add focus. Lots of whining from my opponent about how unfair it was and it ruined his game.  The easy answer is do not ask or give takebacks.

Footbal season is starting today and I’m sure makes lots of guys happy and wives miserable.  I’m just glad its back!

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.

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.

Simple Things Friday, May 7 2010 

I did not think I was going to start my blog this way but I will go with it since they say write what you know and what is on your mind.  My initial thought was to give some basic information about myself and move into step one of being a better gamer. I’ll turn this into manners as a gamer.  Because without players having a social conscience the games tank.

This weekend after a fun Kentucky Derby my wife and I and our friends went to an unnamed Mexican restaurant.  Now the food and service were fine and we were having a great time talking about the days events and about next week’s UFC fight.  Also, mint juleps I do not know about this drink, it’s just not for me.  Now I love my whiskey and cokes and Kentucky bourbon and coke but something about this drink did not sit well with me.

 To continue I excused my self to go to the bathroom after we had finished eating and we were waiting for the check.  I walk in to hit stalls and what do I see but feces and excrement covering the toilet.  A child about six or seven was finger painting his own defecation on the walls.  I turn to the father who is just standing there and he says

“Okay son, come over here we got to clean you off.” 

“You did so well going to the bathroom all by yourself”

Obviously ignoring the mess made in the stall.  He makes no move to clean the stall after his kid had started washing off.  In fact he just stands there all proud that his little boy for making a “poopy” for others to clean. 

“Sir, are you going to clean up after your son?” I inquire after seeing him making a move to the exit.

“No, I’m going to let the wetbacks earn their pay.” He continues to tell his son what a great job he did. 

“Sir, that’s a hazmat type situation you might want to take care of it.  If you want I’ll get the manager to get you the stuff you need to clean it up.” I say a little bit more forcefully.

“Mind your own fucking business.” Says the father

“Well, I guess if that is the kind of example you want to set for you son to let other people clean up his mess then that’s fine.” And I just walk by the jerk.

I get back to my table and tell the people what I encountered.  Everyone is just kind of shock that someone would let their child do that and not clean up after them.  About twenty minutes later the man and his son did come out –so they did clean up after themselves.

Now what does this have to do about gaming?  I think it has to do with EVERYTHING actually.  The first step is be a human being and be responsible for yourself.  I ask, “Do you want to game with someone who does not wash, wear deodorant, constantly forgets their tape measures, or comes to your game place and trashes it?”

How many times have you walked into a game store and seen coke cans, chip bags, dice,  other items cluttering the area around?  Most game stores are our home away from home.  And should be treated with the same respect or more than we treat out own home.  We are after all, guests.  Do you treat your house like garbage and leave things laying around and finger-paint the walls in your feces?  Now, if you do not see it often then either you have an excellent game store staff who cleans up after the gamers or gamers who are actually responsible for themselves. 

Do not be that guy who does not shower.  Or the guy who leaves a pile of coke cans and thinks it funny.  Or the jerk who opens tons of packs of cards and leaves the waste on a table or on the floor for someone else to clean up.  When you do this you add to the overhead of the store.  Trust me store staff prefer to only have to vacuum and clean up one or two forgotten cans then some of the laziness I see with this generation of gamers. 

I point mainly at the newest generation gamers since they are mainly the culprit in this.  I think it has to do with no strong parental feature in their lives.  You know parents who teach their kids manners.  Mainly it is younger kids with hygiene issues as their body changes.  But do everyone a favor take a shower and use the deodorant.  PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF!  If you spill a drink go clean it up immediately or tell the store staff so they can help you.