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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dungeons and Dragons: The Next Iteration and More!

I was fortunate enough to catch the D&DXP live chat hosted on the WotC site earlier today as well as follow the live tweets of the D&D Experience chat with Monte Cook, Mike Mearls, and some dude named Jeremy Crawford. It was... interesting.

I'm trying hard to keep an open mind and not immediately jump into grognardia, but it's hard. I love me some 4e, so knowing that it's time with official support is going to end kills me a little. I will, however put off total judgement until after the open play-test documents for 5e are released sometime this Spring. 

Some things that were discussed:
  • Modularity was key! Between world-building and even between sessions this was stressed. I'm not sure how I feel about a potential lack of consistency between sessions, but we will see.
  • Monsters that remain effective throughout a campaign. Now, this part I like initially. I have always hated that Kobolds or Orcs are just worthless after a certain level and this is true for most editions of D&D. Now, on the other hand, this feels very Elder Scrolls, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. That said, one of the key complaints of Oblivion and even Skyrim was that the monsters leveled up with you and it never truly felt dangerous. I wonder how this will work out...
  • Mass combat was mentioned, cool!
  • Varying complexity at the table was also mentioned. You can have a barebones Fighter that is still effective at the same table with an optimized Fighter. This doesn't feel like a huge stretch for me, as I've played at tables that mix the simplified yet iconic Essentials with the typical AEDU classes of 4e. That said, I'm curious what this means in terms of optimization. 
Lots more was discussed, some I liked, some I didn't. Again, I'm trying to keep an open mind as D&D is a great game that's a lot of fun. What better excuse than to sit around with friends and drink some beer and have a blast together?

Now, 5E stuff out of the way, I had two of my last D&D sessions for the foreseeable future this week.

On Sunday I got together with my D&D Noobs group and ran their characters through an extended one-shot to give them some closure as well as a huge cliff-hanger for our next session in July. It was a blast! We started around 2pm and wen't til about 11pm and did aerial combat, mounted combat, a "protect the citizenry" scenario and more. It was a lot of fun to DM and I got positive responses from them despite trying out some new things. Mounted combat, we found out, is fun, but a little convoluted. Very quickly the players and even enemies dismounted and took it to the ground.

This happened and it rocked!
Yesterday I got together with my Every-Other-Wednesday group and almost died. Let that sink in. We went into the session down on resources and in the first combat the entire party used up most of their resources. Queue the next encounter with nothing but a short rest and we were hurting. Three PCs dropped that encounter and it was great. It was an on the edge of your seat nail-biter the entire time and it was a lot of fun albeit stressful. My character is "the great hope" and the DM had him whisked away by the spirits for further training while I'm gone. I look forward to my return to that group in July as every session is an absolute blast. 

I play a Longtooth Shifter Resourceful Warlord
That's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more comments on the D&D Next shenanigans when they are released. But seriously, what the heck is with this "iteration" nonsense, it just sounds like a bad marketing decision to me. Call it 5th edition and own it! Instead, WotC is making it appear as if they are ashamed of releasing a new edition. Despite my love of 4e, this just feels weak! OWN IT!

Until next time,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

D&D Anniversary

So, I don't know how I missed this, but Wizards of the Coast announced just a day ago that they were going to release anniversary/super-duper-collector's editions of the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons line. We're talking AD&D Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes. Now, it's no secret that I was pretty late in the game, I came into table-top gaming about five years ago now (I like to think I'm on the border between being a noob still and being a veteran at this point) but I can still be excited by this. As mentioned previously, I recently got into Swords & Wizardry, so my old-school-itch has been scratched and wants more.

The three anniversary "premium" books are due out April 17th in limited release geared towards your FLGS in the US. I don't what I'm going to do as I'm going to be out of the country in April, but I'm going to do something to drop the dough required to pick these bad boys up. 

It's exciting that these books are being made available again, especially since the funds are being used to build a statue to Gary Gygax in his home state, but it leaves many gamers to ask a few questions:
  1. What about Dave Arneson? Is he too not a "godfather" of gaming?
  2. Is this just a ploy by WotC to regain some of their fractured customer base? If so, nice play, hell, it's got me on board and I'm not a member of the fractured user base!
Until next time,

Also! I almost have the PDF version of the first promised railroad-tastic one-shot I made for my group of D&D newbs. At this point I just need to find a good site to upload it to for easy download. As always, if you have any suggestions or comments emails are always welcome (and so are comments below!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx: Zombies chainsawed, not... stirred?

So, how do you feel about rules? Ya know, those things that guide pretty much everything and are all but crucial in most games/rpgs? (Save, of course, for the OSR. But even then it has rules...) Personally, I like them, except when I don't. Now, I am intentionally being somewhat vague here, but I've basically described the confusion that is caused by a game of Fluxx, or more specifically the variant I've played, Zombie Fluxx by Looney Labs.

So my intentional vagueness and rules confusion shouldn't be seen as a negative here, this is a design decision in the game itself. And it's great! Essentially the premise is that you and your buddies sit around a table and play a card game. Wait, wait for it. The card game itself has the standard rules as you go in, like only draw 1 card on your turn and only play 1 card. These rules can be altered by other rules cards that you place on the table that trump others. So you can have a "draw 5 cards, play all" set of rules on the table and play one hell of a game that is hard to win.

So, how do you win, is probably what you are asking at this point? And it's a good question. Every game has a singular, mutable goal (much like rules cards, you too can alter the goal for the game) that every player tries to reach. Most goals have set winning conditions where you must have certain cards, or Keepers in this case, equipped to your person. These Keepers can be stolen by your buddies, discarded, etc. Most goals are thematic and in this case are trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, fitting right? For example: Have a can of gasoline and a car. Or, Have the baseball bat and no zombies

Wait, what's that? Zombies? Yeah, zombies. In Zombie Fluxx there are cards that are pretty much the opposite of the helpful Keepers (like the car, gasoline, a chainsaw, zombie repellent, etc.) known as Creepers. Creepers, quite plainly, are zombies of varying annoyingness that can be accidentally drawn from the deck or handed out by your buddies in an attempt to screw you over. Much like the various iterations of Munchkin, you are out for yourself and your friends be damned! There is one such Goal card where everyone loses if everyone has zombies. It's annoying, sure, but it's quite fun too after a long and back-stabby game. 

It will take a session or two, much like the aforementioned Munchkin, to really get the gist of what's going on, and that's great. Be prepared to be slightly confused by every changing rules but learn to embrace it, because once you do, it's great! Fluxx comes in a lot of different varieties such as Monty Python, Pirate, regular, and more. Looney Labs also has a number of other card games that look particularly interesting, but sadly I've yet to have a chance to check them out. Personally, I'm interested in Chrononauts, Back to the Future, and Are You the Traitor? If anyone has had any experience with these other LL games, feel free to chime in below on the comments or via email, I'd love to hear what y'all think!

Until next time,

Also, be sure to check out the exciting developments over at Legend4ry!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Design and Changes

Howdy, faithful reader(s)!

As you may have noticed I changed the layout and color-scheme of the site a little due to readability issues. As much as I love a black-grey-red color scheme, it just ended up being difficult to read at times, and for that I apologize. Hopefully this new layout is much cleaner and crisper. If not, feel free to let me know and suggest some changes and I'll see what I can do!

All of that said, I have an announcement and a promise: I am planning on posting something here on the minimum of a weekly basis. That means for you that if you check back once a week there will be something new and hopefully cool for you to read. 

When I started this site this was my original intent, but life got lifey. Since having wormed my way into the online D&D community a little, I feel that I have something to contribute and want to make the effort to do so not only for the community but for myself as well. 

Here's to looking forward to an active 2012!

Until next time,

Oh, and be sure to keep on eye on all of the more-frequent changes happening over at Legend4ry! I'm almost done with the Basic Rules and about to delve into the campaign setting. Once the Basic set is compiled I will link and post a pdf for free download for easy access to some hardcore 4e campaign play!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Out with the old, in with the New: Or, a newly announced edition of D&D in 2013

i'It was announced today, by both the New York Times and at the D&D website proper that they are currently in development for the as of yet un-named edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I have justifiably mixed feelings about this for reasons I don't quite understand, but do, if that makes sense.

I came into playing D&D in the last quarter of the life of 3.5e and loved it, to be fair. But that said, 4e was the first edition that was mine. I had been there since the beginning, bought the books the day they came out, went to the first game day for it back in 2008. It was my baby and I watched it grow up. I, as a player, grew along side it.

So of course I'm going to be sad to see it go!

That said, I'm hopeful, too. I'm still going to be playing 4e, you bet your money on it, I love the system, much like I still play 3.X and Pathfinder. The opportunity mentioned by Mearls to be part of an on-going community playtest is a fantastic opportunity, and one that everyone should sign up for. If it works as advertised, we have a chance as D&D fans to have our voices heard and our hopes for what, in our minds, is iconic for D&D realized. This is a great chance, and one I do look forward to. 

As mentioned over at Save vs. Death and Dread Gazebo, we need to leave our venom at the door and realize what an opportunity this is, and they are right. For Fourthcore design fanatics this is a chance to perhaps return to a deadlier style of game, and for D&D fans in general this is a chance to have your voice heard. 

So go sign up and be heard, this is a great chance! But make sure to leave the negativity of editions wars at the door. 

I'll still be developing my Legend4ry line, from now to whenever I call it quits, so despite the new edition announcement, it's still coming and it's still going to dominate. 

Until next time,

What's up 2012?

Hey reader(s)! Happy belated New Year to the D&D community!

Now, I apologize for the lack of posts, but I've been busy. Way busy. I had surgery, the holidays, all that fun stuff.

Here is a preview of what's coming up:

  • The promised (railroad-tastic) adventures I made for my Newb-Gamers group
  • The promised reviews for various gaming books and future ones
  • More and more talk about Legend4ry D&D

Speaking of Legend4ry, I've been working a lot (read: ALOT) with this hardcore 4e campaign variant. I've made a lot of use of some Fourthcore ideology but also have compared it with readings of older school D&D systems. It's been a blast, come check it out over here. (I just had a doozy of a post about character creation, leveling up, and character death!

I also recntly had a game day with a local RPG group that sets these up in the area for the community. It was a blast. I branched out and gave Swords & Wizardry a shot, never having had any experience with any D&D editions prior to 3.X and had a blast. I'm an OD&D-clone convert. That was easily one of the most fun gaming experiences I've had, easily top ten, and it was just a (potentially on-going at the game days) demo game. I played a confused Half-Elf who was a Fighter/MU/Thief. The DM provided us with pregens and said, "We could play for ten years and you'd maybe be level 4." Awesome. That said, I loved my character and discovered that the best first level Magic-User spell is Sleep. I wrecked some combat (and almost died in the process, those characters were fragile!) The game itself was mainly a dungeon delve, but who doesn't like cracking skulls in some nameless dungeon in the mountains?

Also coming up this week is my second to last session with my every-other-Wednesday gaming group. I'll be leaving the area for about six months, so I've got to get as much gaming in this January as humanly possible as my gaming opportunities are slim-to-none where I'm going. (Though I may have to give meetup a looksie...) I'm really excited every other week to play in this campaign, a fantastically created 4th edition D&D low-magic (or no-magic, really) world with a fantastic premise. The DM is a great adjudicator of the rules, makes great/fair rulings, and is an open DM as far as rolls and other things go. In other-words, he's great. One of the real selling points in this game is character/player buy-in, which I am all about as it helps with a more total immersion. Each one of the players (5 of us at the time) had the option to create a ruin/dungeon to be explored. I chose a corrupted forest ruin, as my character is from the forest tribe in the area. Others created a water-temple (that we've yet to explore) and a giant sink-hole in the mountain. The campaign itself has great roleplaying opportunities in-game and out-of-game on our Facebook group by way of character monologues about previous sessions which is delicately mixed with some hack-n-slash and exploration of story and the setting itself. 

Recently I finished my heavily altered version of Keep on the Shadowfell for my gaming-newbs and they had a blast. Their characters have quickly come into their own and developed awesome personalities. My original plan was to run them through an altered H-P-E line, but sadly there will be a 6-month hiatus before we can jump into the second of the Heroic Tier adventures. We've been supplementing actual campaign play with some one-shots and giving one of the newbs a chance in the hot-seat to DM. He's got a lot to learn but he's doing a great job. Hell, I've been DMing for years and I still have a lot to learn, but then again, don't we all? It's definitely an art! The main point of this is that I'm patting myself on the back: I introduced some doubtful newbs with minimal gaming experience outside of computer/video games and they have loved it and even one has branched out into DMing on his own. It's awesome to see the fervor in which they embrace the game itself! Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that my DMing is what did it, the game (4e) does it all on it's own! I did find that starting with limiting them to Essentials classes was helpful, and after the conclusions of KotSF, I have them the option both mechanically in-game (queue training montage) to "upgrade" to non-Essentials classes and 2 of 3 decided to do it. One went from Warpriest to full Cleric, the other from Cavalier to Paladin and the last stuck with his Hexblade, but who can blame him as HBs rock! They got a chance to play their new (leveled-up) versions in a one-shot about a month ago and loved their changes and came to appreciate some of the Essentials design features at the same time. (Choices are not always a good thing, especially when there are borderline too many.)

Alrighty, I've rambled enough, but it's been an exciting month to hopefully an exciting upcoming year!

Until next time,