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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4e: What I love about thee

Now, before we start, regardless of this post's title, this isn't a love letter to 4e. On the contrary, I want to dissect the things about 4e that I really, really, really like and think set it apart from other editions or even systems.

I started thinking about this off and on when I first started playing 4e again in comparison to my other go-to game, Pathfinder. I started thinking about this more frequently, though, when designing my 4e variant, Legend4ry

So, without further adieu, 

  • Healing Surges - I love the idea of healing surges as an abstraction of a more realistic health for a character. I know 4e is far from simulationist, but I like the realism more than anything. A human (or insert race here) can only take so much punishment throughout the course of any given day before catching ones breath (short resting) and magic healing take their toll or are just no longer effective. In order to heal, a body needs real rest, an extended rest as it were. While this isn't entirely realistic, I like the idea of it and it just clicks in my head perfectly. 
    • Subsequently, I also love Second Winds. Being a runner myself, I understand how crucial and awesome a second wind can be in real life. It turns the race around, it makes you strive to finish when otherwise you'd be likely to give in. You're beat, bruised, battered and yet still you persist as you get that tiny burst of energy to send you over the top. If I can do that, why can't my character? Oh, wait, I can, thanks 4e!
  • Multi-Class Feats - I know I might catch some flak for this, and that's fine, but there is a reason for this, I swear! It mainly involves the overall narrative of a game. Sure some games are beer and pretzels, some are just straight up "don't get attached to your numbers on a sheet as they will die" dungeon delves, and others are just narrative madness that I don't quite understand. Regardless, I've never really understood multi-classing in previous editions. Sure I know how it works mechanically and have done it in the past, I get that, but what I don't get is how it fits into the narrative even if the only narrative for the game is going on in my mind. For example: Oh Mr. Fighter wants to delve into the realm of wizardry and multi-class into the first level of Wizard. Cool. But from what I understand of magic, it's hard to grasp and takes years of concentrated study. So when is Mr. Fighter actually taking time to study? Between monster slaying? Is he taking night classes while everyone else is sleeping? For me, this makes no sense. So let's re-imagine this situation in 4e terms: Mr. Fighter wants to learn a little bit of magic, so he goes to the party magic user and over the course of a few weeks Miss Mage teaches Mr. Fighter a single Arcane spell. That just makes sense, and I love it. If Mr. Fighter wants to learn more magic, he can invest in it at later levels. Perfect.
  • Hybrid Classes - Now this one doesn't make sense in terms of the "real world" examples I've given above and that's fine. I like the concept for pure customization. I like being able to break out of archetypes or maybe build a character from fiction that I really, really like. Or maybe I just want to build something silly out of two classes (here's looking at you surprisingly effective Cleric Vampire...) I like the Hybrid Talent Feat to unlock more of Class A or B's abilities, I like the customization, I like the fun, I like... Wait, well there is one thing I don't like about it. I don't like being forced to have an even balance of Class A and B powers. I understand this is so someone doesn't dip into one class only to reap the benefits and only take Class B powers, but it doesn't make sense. Maybe Mr. Fighter/Mage needs to focus for a level or two only on Mage powers or visa versa. This is one thing that I don't think breaks any balance whatsoever and is easily fixed, at least in my games, by house-ruling said restriction out.
  • The Warlord - In my opinion after having played every Leader save for the Runepriest, this is the best Leader out there. In play I've done some crazy things that have been game changing (this happens most sessions, in fact) and on the other side of the screen I am always amazed at how a well-played Warlord dominates the battle field with heals, strike directing, and more. This is my favorite class in 4e, hands down.
  • The Warlock- Before 4e I was never interested in the Warlock class mainly due to watching someone play a broken one in 3.X. It just never appealed to me, I didn't care for the fluff and then 4e came and changed that. I love it's fluff, I love the options, and I love the versatility. You can build a Warlock to be a little bit of everything and it's great. In my opinion a well-built Warlock could effectively solo (though the same argument could be made for a well-built Avenger.) Also, as a comic book nerd, the Warlock is my go-to class simply from power diversity for recreating super heroes. Dr. Doom? Warforged Warlock. It's just perfect fluff-wise and works well mechanically. 
  • Essentials Classes - I know, I know, I'm in the minority and about to get roasted. You know what? That's fine.  I love Essentials. They offer simpler classes that are great for beginners and keep you from being bogged down by way too many choices power-wise (thanks ___ Power line...) Now, don't get me wrong, I love choices, I love the AEDU classes (as noted above) but I also dig the older edition/school feel of Essentials classes much the chagrin of Grogn4rds everywhere. Essentials classes are what brought be back into 4e after a bad introduction to the game (admittedly I was experiencing my first bout of grognardia when transfering from 4e and kept thinking of 4e from a 3.X mindset, my bad.) I mainly like the synthesis of the Essentials line; they effectively boiled down the basics of a class, the iconic bits, and got rid of the extra stuff leaving you with an effective and not bogged down version. It's great and they work great in unison with AEDU classes as well. 
  • The Racial Options - Seriously. There are so many races. I love it. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the archetypal PHB1 races as much as the next guy, but I also like being able to spread by wings and play as the Half-Vampire Vryloka or a Pixie for Orcus' sake! (Disclaimer: I will never actually play as a Pixie. This is the one thing I disliked about Heroes of the Feywild.) I love the lack of Level Adjustments and being able to jump right in as a Minotaur without having to worry about investing 8 levels into actually being one. 

Well, now I'm drawing a blank and I know for a fact that I hard a larger, longer list in my head. Perhaps I'll mention them in future posts when I remember! What are your favorite aspects of 4e?

As promised, next time I'll post the adventure entitled: Escape from Bitterkeep Stronghold

Until next time,


Edited to add: How could I forget two of my favorite things of 4e?!

  • Inherent Bonuses - This is easily  my most favorite aspect of 4e. I don't have to worry about magic items and still the math works, if I do decide to give magic items out it doesn't affect anything mathematically and if anything, it makes magic items rare and dynamic, which is how they should be.
  • Encounter Building - Seriously, this is fantastic. I don't have to mess with CRs and other nonsensical stuff that makes it hard to properly build an encounter that is a challenge yet doable. 4e? No problem due to experience budgets and what not. Monster/Character roles help here tremendously as well. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Legend4ry D&D

Recently I started a new blog to coincide with this one. This blog has always been intended to be a more broadly focused D&D blog as opposed to a Fourthcore/old school-esque one. That said, I really want to delve into the dynamic adventures and deadliness that is the old school dungeon delve, but specifically for 4th edition. 

This blog will continue to be a more generally focused one dealing with my gaming philosophy regarding mainly 4e D&D, while my new one delves into trying to bring that hardcore old school feel into my games.

You can find my new blog here, entitled Legend4ry D&D, or just Legend4ry for short. The name itself comes from playing through the various Halo games on legendary mode with a friend of mine and concluding that the only way the game was meant to be played was on its most hardcore of settings, legendary. This philosophy, for me at least, is something I want to delve into for my table top gaming experience.

While I may be coming into the game late, a lot of the ground work has been dug by sites such as Save Versus Death, DMG42, Dungeon Oracle, Dread Gazebo, and more. Here's to hoping that I can make some meaningful contributions to this awesome community. 


Next post: the first of the aforementioned one-shots, a (late) review of Heroes of the Feywild, and a discussion over a magic-lite setting I've been tinkering with off and on for a month or so. 

Until next time,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Olde School 4e Dungeon Crawls?

So, I hate using the term "old school" as it just evokes a somewhat grognardian outlook on RPGin' that I just want to avoid if at all possible. BUT, that said, I love the idea of the "old school" dungeon and systems. I know, I know, I'm a hypocrite. This is one of the reasons that I love Fourthcore and Goodman Games circa 3.X (sadly their 4e stuff just wasn't able to really give that feel very well, despite some great ideas.) Goodman Games has a game system coming out in early 2012 called Dungeon Crawl Classics that is inspired heavily from older editions of D&D that I am beyond looking forward to. At FreeRPG Day this year I happened to pick up their supplement and have been inspired and left wanting since first reading it. And then WotC released in Dragon 403 an interesting article entitled Heroes' First Steps which entails rules for creating level-0 characters within the 4e rule-set. Awesome, right? Now, I've yet to give the rules a shot and as a result am going to withhold passing judgment until then. 

But, now that we have moved passed the above text-wall, down to my idea: "old school" style deadly dungeon crawl with 4e level-0 characters.

Now, in terms of making it as "old school" as possible, I'd like to employ a bit of randomness to it (though not with ability score generation as that's something I am thrilled is not in common use any longer.)

Here's what I am thinking:

Power Source: Roll a 1d6 to determine power source.
  1. Arcane
  2. Divine
  3. Martial
  4. Primal
  5. Psionic
  6. Shadow
Race: Roll a 1d10 to determine race. (Sticking with just Essentials races for simplicity, love it or hate it.)
  1. Human
  2. Dwarf
  3. Eladrin
  4. Elf
  5. Halfling
  6. Dragonborn
  7. Drow
  8. Half-Elf
  9. Half-Orc
  10. Tiefling
Ability Scores: Either pick the Promising or Prodigy array.
  • Promising (14,14,12,10,10,10)
  • Prodigy (16,12,12,10,10,8)
Skills, Feats, Equipment, Defenses, Hit Points, etc: As per the Dragon 403 article. 

Each player would play 3-4 randomly generated characters in a puzzle (and occasionally combat-heavy dungeon) that is specifically designed to leave each player, if they are lucky, with 1-2 characters apiece with the possibility of leveling up to 1 (and then followed by a deadly dungeon meant to weed them down to 1 apiece, again, if they are lucky.) The crucial focus here is on the difficulty and deadly puzzles ala the original Tomb of Horrors and its ilk. 

What's the verdict on this crazy/deadly/evil idea? Thoughts on building deadly puzzles, traps, and encounters for a level-0 dungeon crawl?

Until next time,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Healing Surges as Currency?

So, I've wondered for some time now about the possibility of using Healing Surges strategically as a type of currency. In many sense this would encourage a more tactical and perhaps meta-aspect to 4e, but at the same time it could very well increase the power of PCs at a price, and that's something I like the idea of. 

What I mean by currency is as follows (and keep in mind that this is only me just throwing out un-refined and un-play-tested ideas):

  • spend a Healing Surge (without gaining any HP) on your turn as a trigger to having missed with an Encounter or Daily power. 
    • 1 HS for an Encounter, 2 for a Daily? I don't like this and I feel like 1 HS for each would be more sufficient. 
    • Perhaps have this only usable once per Encounter?
  • spend a Healing Surge (without gaining any HP) at the end of your turn on a trigger defined as having failed a Saving Throw and immediately reroll the Saving Throw using the second roll.
    • I think that this, too, should only be usable once per Encounter.
Those are just a few ideas I've been tossing around and I like the idea of having to make a rough choice of a short-term gain at the cost of a long-term resource. Now, I do realize there are some issues with this as it favors some classes tremendously over others and could potentially make Durable a very popular feat choice for obvious reasons. 

What do y'all think? Any other potential ideas for the HS currency?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's been awhile...

So, first off let me say, whoops! Life has gotten lifey and I've been busier than I first thought I'd be. Now, that all said, I have some exciting news:

1) I have spent some free time, what of it I have, painting the minis from the Castle Ravenloft board game. I am almost done, finally having gotten to the PCs themselves. Now, I'm actually a little nervous for this, with the monsters at least I can paint them one to three colors and they look fine, the PC minis require a bit more detail (and I don't have any fleshtone paint!) Once I finally finish with the PCs I'll post the some pictures of the whole bunch with some tips and tricks of my admittedly short painting "career."

2) I recently took a group of friends under my wing and corrupted them and taught them how to play D&D. These guys are addicted now and cannot get enough. Every couple of days I get a text asking if we can play or do an impromptu one shot or something. It's awesome! Now, mainly we've been running through Keep on the Shadowfell, despite some of its more glaring flaws, with some minor (and major) alterations. The game has gone swimmingly and has been a lot of fun on both sides of the screen.

The reason I bring up teaching some buddies how to play is that we've done a number of one shots that I have written up and I plan on posting them on here for frizzles with some author notes. Now, given the nature of the group (they're newbs) the adventures themselves are fairly (read: very) railroady. Despite the as-written rail road that is the plot, I do do a lot of impromptu on the fly type stuff based on how they react to certain things or try something crazy that I hadn't accounted for. Now, once I finally get these bad boys re-typed to be more clear in pdf format I'll upload them here, likely one every few days or so.

Here is a brief teaser/spoiler for the one shots I've written:

  • a prison break
  • a tongue-in-cheek Buffy the Vampire Slayer-esque parody (don't ask...)
  • a delve to a forest temple filled with ancient cultists (meant to be a one-shot set within the events of Keep on the Shadowfell)
  • a classic armies of the land versus the sea the contains prisons and gladiatorial combat
  • a delve into the Underdark
  • a time travelin' trek into the Underdark (a sequel to the first delve)
If there is an interest in any of these, please do not hesitate to let me know either in the comments or via email! Regardless of reception I am planning on posting the above rail-road-tastic one shots and if I receive enough buzz I will post a very deadly Castle Ravenloft inspired work that I am currently writing in my spare time. 

3) I am currently writing two different settings. The first of which is the aforementioned Castle Ravenloft inspired setting which is probably going to lean on the side of somewhat grimdark, for better and for worse. As I stated, it's going to be deadly and I will likely be making use of a lot of homebrew stuff as well as the Fourthcore Armory and the Fourthcore Alphabet. (I will also review the Fourthcore Alphabet once I receive it in the mail!)

The second setting is more of my attempt at 4e world building. I have built worlds and concept in the past that I've gotten 75% of the way into before I just start drawing blanks. A big problem with this was years ago when I was very much on my Pathfinder kick. Ever since I delved back into 4e a couple of years ago, I have been inspired and this second setting is the fruits of that labor realized in a low magic church inquisition type setting. More on this in a subsequent post.


Well, that's all for now. I know I've written a lot of checks in this post and I'm going to make a concerted effort to uphold my end of them. I'm going to try and be more active during the tail end of this year and throughout the year next year because Sorcerer Blob has lots to say about the wide world of gaming!

Things to come: product reviews for Brother Ptolmey and the Hidden Kingdom (finally!), Heroes of the Feywild, the Fourthcore Alphabet and Armory, and finally Altered Earth. In addition to this will be pictures, blog posts, my own adventures and reviews of published adventures like the Madness at Gardmore Abbey and the Saturday Night Delves over at Save Versus Death.

Until next post!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Terrain, terrain, terrain and more

In my last post I noted that I had been linked to Heroscapers and had spent hours perusing thread upon thread on how to build custom terrain for gaming. The terrain listed on the site is specifically geared towards Heroscape itself, but there are many lessons to be learned on how to go about building terrain for any system!

One of the biggest suggestions on the site was to hit up a store called Michaels, the only problem was that the closest one is a good hour away from where I live. I ended up making the trek down there one weekend and came back with too much stuff for a great price. (Sales rock!) After nerding out at Michaels I picked up some paint of varying colors, some sandpaper, and patience and got to work.

The first piece I made was this temple out of foam board and poster board:

Next, I made some pillars and rocks. The pillars are made out of the Grecian-style cake stands and the rocks are made from a foamboard base and egg cartons:

After that I constructed some inexpensive wooden puzzles/buildings I found at Michaels and painted them to serve a fairly generic purpose in-game. They can serve as mini-temples, outposts, manors, etc.

I also found some other wooden goodies at Michaels, such as a wagon, a cannon, and a catapult (that actually works!)

Next is a castle shaped birdhouse that I found and repurposed for my own uses along with some miscellaneous things I created. The first is a wooden bridge I made out of scrap wood from the wooden puzzles, followed by a pile of gold bricks also made from scraps, and finally two ballistas also made from scraps. I'm resourceful!

The next two pictures are my pride and joy. The first of which is two towers made from a toilet paper tube, a label tube, egg cartons, poster board and a lot of time.

Lastly is another tower/outpost/castle/whatever that is also made from label tubes, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, poster board and lots of glue.

That's all so far. I'll post a tutorial on how I did these next as well as pictures from the other wooden buildings/puzzles that I have yet to construct and paint.

EDIT!: I almost forgot the group shot of all of the buildings and terrain set up with minis just for fun!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This is a doozy!

Well, it has been awhile since I last posted, and I apologize for that audience of 0. I have been busy of late (mostly distracted) and have neglected this here blog.

Some things that I've been up to recently are:
  • Making OotS inspired Avatars of epic characters played during my D&D sessions with friends
  • Building foam-core dungeon terrain (I love me some verisimilitude!)
  • Re-purposing and customizing miniatures for my collection
  • Building my all knew 4E campaign - a Mega-Dungeon tentatively titled "The City of Fallen Sigil

First off, the OotS avatars. I recently decided to jump back into the mighty (and strange) world of forums and joined up with the Giant in the Playground forums after having lurked there off and on over the past few years. I decided I needed to fit in, gave into peer pressure, and decided to give a shot at creating my own OotS avatar for some of my favorite characters in various campaigns with my gaming group. These avatars run the gamut from my creations to theirs. Regardless, it was a lot of fun using the free Inkscape program and this handy, dandy tutorial from David Shaw. There is a slight learning curve with the program, but after you make your first avatar you'll be just fine!

(A picture of my World's Largest Dungeon Crew - from left to right: Gaius the Vampire, Lenny, Monkeybeard, Heathen, cursed Lucien, and Sloth the worst Rogue ever with our evil, evil DM up top!)

Secondly, I have been working on actual terrain for my dungeons when I DM. This terrain is really simple, made from foam-core board, superglue, exacto knives, and patience. (I have glued my fingers together a few times now...) They are not the prettiest things ever but they work and are hands-down better than just lines drawn on a battle map. These are designed to be fairly universal and work in conjunction standard gaming mat use. 

Above is an example shot of some of the walls and terrain I've created with some minis throw in for scale. I was completely happy with this until I was linked to the Heroscapers community where they excel at making some of the most beautiful custom terrain I've ever seen. This is a fantastic community that is very welcoming and even took the time to explain what the hell Heroscape was to me. There is a lot of good ideas for terrain for any table-top miniatures-based system. I know that once I get some money I am going to be implementing (read: stealing) a lot of these ideas for my table. Until then... foam-board terrain will do just fine!

I've also recently been working on re-purposing and customizing minis for my game table. I have a fair share of official D&D minis and wanted more, but they are oh so expensive (and out of print! Damn you WotC!!) I did some snooping around on the 'net and found a fantastic site called Troll and Toad for the frugal gamer. I picked up a bunch of Mage Knight minis that happened to be about the same size on the cheap (something like $0.15/apiece.) This was a steal, shipped quickly, and only required me to carefully snap off the minis from their too-large bases and glue them onto D&D-sized bases. 

Wooden bases for the conversion. The one of the left is 1"x1" and the one of the right is 1.75"x1.75". All that is required is to color them black with either paint or a sharpie (the paint takes the longest of the two methods but looks sharp, while the sharpie is quick and easy and looks just fine, this is the method I use) and then superglue the converted mini onto it. Below are some shots of the converted Mage Knight minis, enjoy!

 (D&D Minis beside the converted MK minis)

 (A D&D Dwarf mini next to a converted MK Dwarf mini for comparison)

(A large D&D Ogre mini and a large converted MK mini for comparison)

And lastly, I have been working hard on a new 4E campaign that is going to be a mega-dungeon, while pushing the envelop on what actually defines a mega-dungeon. There isn't going to be a lot of actual dungeoneering in this, but the concept remains the same. This is my first real attempt (other than making a few 5 Room Dungeons of my own) at D&D 4E encounter design and I have to say, damn it is easy. The encounter XP budgets and treasure parcels really help spread things out and speed up campaign design. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out the encounter budget for the first level of play and assign the right thematic monsters. It's been a fun and fantastic experience, the only real hold up is determining where these encounter will take place in the first "dungeon" that covers the first five levels of play. The tentative title for this campaign is "The City of Fallen Sigil."

I have another campaign that I've been working on off and on for the past year or two that was originally for 3.5 edition, then I converted what I had over to Pathfinder, and am now considering switching it over to 4th edition. The only real conversion will be skills and trap DCs and the encounter structures, the fluff can actually remain the exact same. I don't know though, I think I'll keep going with PF and maybe do both. It's a pretty cool campaign idea, if I say so myself, and is tentatively titled "Secret Invasion." I won't go into any details about it just yet, but I will say it's a doozy filled with betrayal and intrigue.

That's all I've got for now, but if anyone has any questions about anything in this post or previous ones, just ask in the comments below! I'll try to post more frequently, hopefully later this week. Until next time...


Edit: I meant to add, RIP Save Versus Death and Fourthcore! Sersa V, I wish you nothing but the best and want to thank you for creating an awesome take on the current edition of my favorite game. Take care, and if you ever need anything, Blob has your back!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

RPG Stack Exchange

About a month or two ago I Stumbled Upon RPG Stack Exchange and have been following it off and on ever since. This past weekend I actually decided to register after having a few questions of my own.

Now, you are probably wondering to yourself, "what is this RPG Stack Exchange you speak of, Blob?" To put it simply, it is like Yahoo! Answers but specialized. There are quite a few different Stack Exchanges over various subjects as well as a website that polls user interest in creating a new Stack Exchange over a new and potentially popular subject. If the idea of it being similar to Yahoo! Answers turns you off from visiting, just wait and hear me out. RPG Stack Exchange like I said is specialized and sorted by subject with all tabletop gaming under this one heading. The people who answer the questions are generally players of the varying games themselves and have to work their way up a reputation scale to even be afforded the privilege of answering a question. This, in my opinion, is what sets it apart from other Q and A sites. The search engine is magnificent and the support from the users is top notch. Hell, I have not even touched on the answers yet! The answers themselves are generally well cited from the source material, occasionally provide insightful examples, and are rarely matters of opinion (unless called for or in a situation where a rule is up to "DM discretion.") The old saying "there are no stupid questions" rings true here and chances are if you were confused about a rule in an RPG you've read or played you are probably not the only one!

So, readers, (if I even have any at this juncture!) check out RPG Stack Exchange and become more enlightened about your respective games and maybe provide some enlightenment to a confused gamer while you are at it!

Here are some of the questions I've asked to date (and have gotten excellent responses on!):


My next post will be over a connection I made when writing my introductory post regarding "stereotypes not always being true." It dawned on me that both the Gamer and Frat-boy stereotypes often overlap, sometimes even intertwining, and I am going to explore that in depth and with examples. 

Hopefully, my post after that will be my review of Brother Ptolemy and the Hidden Kingdom, a 3rd party 4E adventure and mini-setting created by the geniuses at Nevermet Press, so stay tuned!
Until next time,

S. Blob

PS- Also, "Howdy!" to the visitors from the Stack Exchange website!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Welcome to Sorcerer Blob: Charisma Isn't Everything!

Hey folks! A little about myself: I am a 25 year old gamer who got into RPGs (D&D specifically) back in 2008. I was always aware of D&D, for example, and always in the back of my mind thought it sounded cool but for whatever reason I avoided my nerd-dom like the plague. This wasn't just a D&D exclusive denial of my nerd-dom, this also applied to my love of all things comic book (except manga, it can burn in hell.) Eventually, as I matured, I embraced it and even was coined as a "day-walker" by my now-DM. (For those of you unfamiliar with "day-walkers" see the Blade the Vampire Slayer movies or comics - In this case, he was referring to how I can easily pass in non-nerd and nerd circles)

Having played many of the computer games growing up that were set in the Forgotten Realms, I had a vague idea of what was going on with D&D on a certain level. Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 and the expansions, both Icewind Dales, and my much-beloved Neverwinter Nights, plus expansions and fan-created modules, colored my opinions of what D&D was, and I was intrigued. In 2007 I inadvertently started a job with a self-proclaimed pack of nerds in the stockroom of a popular Texas-based-Mid-Western-And-Somewhat-In-The-South retail store that sells books, music, video games, comics, and video (both to rent and buy.) This pack o' nerds would spend the beginning of most weeks talking about their campaign and what had played out at their last game-day, typically on Sundays. I would eagerly listen in, sometimes commenting, sometimes joking. The rest of the week would be talking about gearing up for the inevitable play day that was rapidly approaching. I could hear the excitement in their voices when they discussed funny or epic things that happened in game or what gear they would buy or their class builds or or or. It sounded awesome. But of course, I was too shy and couldn't admit to myself that I wanted in. And then it happened, "The Invite." After listening to my co-workers talk for about 6 months, with them dropping subtle invites along the way for me to come and play with them I finally agreed to it. I talked with one of the players about what fantasy-trope I wanted to play (Hey, to be fair, my knowledge of fantasy was pretty much limited to film and what Sci-Fi/Fantasy books I had grown up reading, so it's only fitting that my first character be an obvious rip-off/stereotype!) I was on a Robert E. Howard kick at the time, rapidly consuming all things Conan after having not read his stories in about a decade and justifiably decided that I wanted to go to non-complicated character route and chose the brute known as Conan. I didn't just want to base my character off of Howard's creation, my character was Conan.

I showed up for my first game approximately March 2008. I was admittedly confused but eagerly embraced the game. With my limited knowledge I was readily rolling d-what-the-hell-are-theses? with the best of them. Conan, my Barbarian-Rogue-Druid (I have no idea about the Druid part, I did not make my first character!) never raged, barely remembered to add in his sneak attack die, and actually saved the party a few times simply by being able to use magical devices. Thank you level of Druid for that and my Air Elemental companion, Blow Hard. I loved it. I was enthralled. Every weekend I played D&D to my heart's content, every week I discussed our games with my coworkers. I even got talked into reading some of the Forgotten Realms novels and made the rookie mistake of loving the Drizz't books... until they got completely ridiculous. I even, in my spare time, tried to make up a Drizz't character using 3.5 Editions rules. Yeah, I know, I was like every 12 year old almost 20 years ago. 

Sadly, my first campaign was cut short, mainly due to the fact that I came in at the tail-end of it. Our next campaign was coming up, a different DM (and for the record my current DM all of these years later) and a different setting, 3.5E Ravenloft. I decided after having tried my hand at a simple "hit 'em 'til they stop moving" character that I was going to be bold and make my own character, a magic user. I created the super charismatic sorcerer, The Blob. In my mind's eye, The Blob was an excessively obese man who could charm the pants off of anyone, and boy did he try. After a few sessions of fun with Blob, I invited my roommate to join us for a session and thus the addiction spread unto him. We completed Ravenloft, killed Strahd who turned out to be a complete push-over. I was more scared of Madam Eva than I was Strahd. 

When D&D 4E came out we organized a game day at our retail store and played through Into the Shadowhaunt one-shot. We left loving it, even though it took us way too long to finish it! We all eagerly purchased the new 4E Core books and began Keep on the Shadowfell just a few weeks later. We played it for about a month and all had a growing distaste in our mouths, what had they done to our precious D&D?! We didn't finish the module and moved on quite quickly. There were things we all liked about 4E and things we hated. Multi-class feats? We loved. New skill system? Hell yes! Actually having HP at 1st level? Sign me up! (And Tieflings, I loved Tieflings!) Every class having "magic powers?" No, a thousand times, no. Almost no customization (due to only the Core having just being released.) And marking and all of these status effects? It was hell to keep track of, especially transitioning from 3.5E! That was part of the problem, too, that transition. We went into 4E with 3.5E in mind and when 4E didn't play like 3.5E we hated it. It was only later that I learned that you had to play them differently to enjoy them because they are, after all, different games. 

When we moved on we delved into my first mega-dungeon, Alderac Entertainment’s The World’s Largest Dungeon for 3.5E. I drug my roommate along and another co-worker who hadn’t played since 2E as my DM took us through the torture that was the WLD. My DM has split the 12 different levels of the dungeon into 2 groupings of 6 dungeon levels apiece and ran a good and evil party. I quite obviously chose evil as did my roommate and other-co-worker. The DM’s wife and some other shmucks chose the good party whose goal was to chase some escaped criminals of the worst degree, us, into the WLD. The two parties ran through the first level simultaneously but not together only to exit it through two different exits leading to two very different 2nd levels of the dungeon. And thus the race to finish the dungeon first to get the drop on the other party began. The drop being a mass combat between the 12 characters at the end of the dungeon. Awesome, right?! This dungeon was a first for me, we all played 2 characters apiece and I experienced my first character death. D’Strus the Half-Drow Duskblade/Fighter/Vampire was not meant to be and a fall from a pit trap proved it. Luckily, that was my only character death unlike my roommate who seemed to have to roll up a new character every session, included one ill-fated session where he had 5 characters die. We ended up making it through the dungeon after over a year of play with three of the original 6 characters still alive (quite a feat!) and having climbed to the ever-elusive 20th level. The good party never made it out of the dungeon, but no one was really sad about that, them being Lawful Stupid and all.

Around the same time of having started the WLD, I also decided to have my hand at DMing 3.5E. I ran my play group through Scourge of the Howling Horde and Dungeon Crawl Classics’ The Dragonfiend Pact quite successfully. I made some rookie DM mistakes of course, like forgetting some minor rules, and even ran into the stereotypical trouble that is DMing for friends, one of them expects you to pull the punches for them and when things strategically go bad for them they blame you and think you are picking on them. Crisis eventually averted, we finished both of these modules and I found that I loved DMing almost as much as I loved playing.

Towards the end of our trek through the WLD, my fiancée and I discovered D&D Encounters and decided to give 4E a shot (again for me!) Fiancée had played 3.5E D&D once in college with her pack o’ nerds ™ from the fraternity she hung out with and really enjoyed herself and wanted to give it a shot again since I played every Saturday. (I know what you are probably thinking, frat boys that belong to a real fraternity and not a music or “insert major here” frat playing D&D?? What?! But, to be fair, this nerd was also a frat boy and also plays D&D. Turns out stereotypes are not always correct!) So we ended up playing 2 Encounters seasons, the first being Undermountain and the second being Dark Sun. We loved it. I loved how 4E had progressed in terms of source material and how I didn’t feel pigeon-holed into just the Core sources as well as the Character Builder. Fiancée loved it due to its stream-lined rules and just how much fun it was. 4E had successfully won me back over, and further did so with the release of the Essentials line, which I feel harkens back to previous editions and gets rid of (at least slightly) my complaint of every class, even Fighters, having “magic powers.”

After the completion of the World’s Largest Dungeon by the evil party, my play group moved onto Paizo’s Pathfinder line and find ourselves deeply involved in the 3rd module of the Kingmaker story-arch. I love Pathfinder. It fixed all of the problems I had with 3.5E and then some and I love that the Wizard, Sorcerer, Rogue, and Monk are actually useful and have real hit die! That and the new classes in the Advanced Player’s Guide are phenomenal and not over or under-powered like the non-Core classes in 3.5E. I will probably continue to play Pathfinder games for a very long time!

If you cannot tell by now, I love me some D&D and Pathfinder. While it is primarily what I play and will be discussing here, I am always open to new games, RPGs, and suggestions. I also enjoy reviewing products and plan to post semi-regular reviews, the first of which will be Nevermet Press’ Brother Ptolemy and the Hidden Kingdom. My love of games is not limited to tabletop games, I love me some Risk, Clue, BANG!, and all Munchkins. So, if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to comment here or send me a message! Thanks for reading!

-S. Blob