Sunday, September 27, 2009

Update: Details of my first Pathfinder game--what actually happened.

Here are the details of the game you asked for.

I am playing something I’ve wanted to play for a while, a dwarven wizard who can cast in armor, a “fightin’ wizzie!”  Pathfinder’s rules have 2 feats that allow me a arcane failure reduction of 20% by 7th level I think.  Also, I want him to make his own magic armor, shield, and weapon eventually.

I decide to start him as a fighter at level 1, so as to not have to take feats in armor proficiency, and also to give him a boost in hp at low level.  By way of backstory justifying it I came up with the basic “His family was killed by an assault of Drow, and he watched most of them get killed by Drow  wizardry.  Now he wants to learn the ways of the wizard to seek his revenge some day.”  He is already a trained fighter, and for some years has been studying under a wizard master, who says he’s almost there, he just needs to clear his head a bit, go out and see and do things, and eventually those spells in the spellbook he is having so much trouble with will eventually come to him.  So he joined a bunch of people on a mission for hire.

We did the 4d6 dropping the lowest for character generation, and I came up with (after racial adjustments):
Rags the Dwarven Wizard-in-Training

Str 12
Dex 16
Con 17
Int 16
Wis 12
Cha 9

I dropped a point into Craft: Armor; Craft: Weapon; Knowledge: Engineering; Knowledge: Engineering; Ride.

Then we did something interesting: we took some background traits or stories which gave half a feat.  We are doing the Legacy of Fire adventure path, and I ended up taking Reactionary, giving me +2 initiative, and Reclaiming Your Roots, which gave me a masterwork Dwarven Waraxe.

The Dwarven Waraxe thing is cool because I planned on using one as a bonded item, and starting out with it as part of my backstory is damn neat, and it gives me a reason to have one.  Plus, a universalist wizard gets an ability to telekineticaly hurl and have return to me a weapon held in hand a few times a day. How cool is it to hurl my family heirloom bonded item a Dwarven Waraxe?  Totally unexpected for a wizard to even have one, the ability to use it, and a proficiency with it.  When it flies from the hand of a dwarven armored wizard who has a shield in his other hand, its gonna be neat.  Thankfully this group isn’t a bunch of min/maxers, so I can try out stuff like this.

The rest of the group consists of a druid with a big snake as a companion, and a cleric and a paladin who both follow the same god.  We are all NG or LG, though after the first session I decided to change to N to better reflect the character’s personality as it was coming out in-game.

The DM is a cool guy, a Yale University post doctoral student, with a German or Austrian accent I think.  It’s often like listening to Arnold Schwarzeneggar when he takes on the voices of the NPC’s. :)  It’s sometimes hard to understand his pronunciation of proper nouns, but he does a great job in every other department, and is very prepared, and takes a lot of pleasure in acting out the roles of the NPC’s in character.
So, the adventure begins with us traveling with a guy to meet his boss-lady, who wants to hire us to clear out/reclaim some town for her.  She is of a noble family, working for an overlord of the main city of the area.

As we approach the caravan she is in (desert setting), we see flames coming from camp.  We manage to help put out the fire in one of the wagons, but not before one unfortunate guy in the wagon was burned to death.  We are thanked, and asked to do the main mission, which is to clear out the town from gnolls.  I manage to haggle for a few hundred more gp each out of her.  Through all this I learned about something in the game we never did before–assisting another character in something.  We did it a lot with strength checks, and in talking to other people with diplomacy stuff.

We are also given a side mission–-to find out how the fire started, and if it was caused by someone.  My character, Rags the Dwarf, doesn’t believe in extra missions without extra pay, so he just goes through the motions and by way of “investigating members of the caravan” just hangs around the fire with the dirty, smelly, scruffy, greasy mercenaries, sharing cheap wine and feeling right at home.

The other members of the group do their jobs and ask everyone everything under the sun.  The guy who plays the cleric is an exceptional roleplayer, and he does a great job at asking questions and getting to know people.  Through it all, though, I am amazed at how many skill checks were made and for all manner of things.  Just during one conversation many skill checks were made for bluff diplomacy, sense motive, etc.  In my main group we never make such use of social skills, letting the scenarios be roleplayed out mostly and what you think about if someone is full of crap is what your character thinks.  For diplomacy, we live and die by what we say, not the roll of the dice, though our high skills can enhance it. The main determiner though is what the player says, not the character’s score.  There was also heavy use of knowledge checks.  Apparently these are all standard in most gaming circles in the 3.5 era, so when I say heavy, I mean in relation to the game I normally play in or run.

Anyhow, all signs point to one guy, the greasy smelly guide, who everyone thinks did it.  The rest of the group talks to him, and basically piss the guy off enough that he doesn’t  want to talk anymore.  He says he didn’t do it, it was little bad luck gremlin-like things that did it, and he hates gnolls, having had his whole family killed by them.  He now lives for revenge.

Rags the Wizard in Training, upon hearing this from other members of the group, takes a bottle of wine from the now-drunken mercenaries, walks over to the caravan guide (who is reputedly an expert at killing gnolls), sits down next to him and says basically “Hey buddy, you have hatred and want revenge, I have hatred and want revenge.  I don’t give a shit who killed the guy in the fire.  I don’t even care if it was you.  Have some wine and tell me how to kill gnolls so I can get more powerful and kill drow.”  It was a beautiful bonding moment.

Next up, the middle of the night mission to find and save the caravan’s prize goat.  We hear the sound off in the distance, and head out to investigate.  Rags is thinking “the hell with the goat, but if it’s dead, hey, we can have a good meal out of it maybe.”

So the thing is stuck in a cactus grove, which bordered a steep ravine filled with cacti.  It is also tied to a cactus, an obvious trap. I figure, lets head in, spring it, and beat the shit out of whoever set the trap once it’s sprung.  I didn’t count on losing 3 of my 13 hp from the perilous cacti in walking 3 rounds to get through the grove.  I also didn’t count on having to roll 10 different failed checks to just pick up the goat, cut the rope, and walk out of the grove.  Apparently these gremlin things cause bad luck, in that you have to make every roll twice when near them, and take the worst roll.  Of course, as soon as I managed to do so, the little gremlin thing jumps out from behind a cactus and starts shrieking at me.  I go to throw the goddamn goat down the ravine and into cactus trees so I can fight, but the rest of the group yell to me “No!  It’s the prize Goat!” I say “yell to me” because every one of them, including the brave Paladin, is safely on the other side of the cacti, and the other side of the fighting zone, 3 movement rounds away. Rags taunted the paladin whom I’ve dubbed “Brave Sir Robin” about this during the fight.

Apparently this shriek is a very special kind of shriek, usable once a day, that shatters metal.  Bye Bye family heirloom and future bonded item Masterwork Dwarven Waraxe.
Now Rags is pissed.  He pulls out the light crossbow and shoots and kills the little fucker, which was trapped by the druid with an entangle spell.  Still enraged, he picks the corpse up, and begins to drop-kick the corpse into the ravine to be impaled on cactus trees.  The rest of the group yells “No!  We need it as proof that the caravan guide was innocent!”  Note:  they yell this from safely behind the other side of the cactus grove.

Rags finishes the drop kick, and the gremlin thing goes flying.
He then picks up the shattered pieces of the Axe, hoping to repair it some day.

We return to camp, heroes of the hour again, for saving the little goat.  The cleric can’t heal me fully, having used his other cure light wounds on the goddamn goat who got fucked up running away from the gremlin thing after I dropped him.

We go to bed, planning to set out next day to clear something out as a prelude to clearing out the town.  Rags is planning his future goat dinner, cooked by fireball, once he figures out how to be a wizard.

My first Pathfinder game

I know I'm gonna regret  blogging with a rum and coke buzz, but here goes.

Today I began my first Pathfinder game with a new second group, playing the "rules as written."  I'm doing it mostly just to learn the ruleset everyone uses who follows the Pathfinder evolutionary branch of D&D, rather than the 4e evolutionary branch, which I have no interest in.  It's a very new experience, because my main non-Pathfinder group is a weird animal. It's my brother and myself, who have played together for 26 years, and a couple friends. Me and the bro have houserules, some of which are detailed in the bard campaign guide (upper right of blog), but we have several times more houserules than listed, because we just know each other and agree on a certain playstyle.  We don't even articulate them all, nor would we be able to if asked.  They are basically just understood between us.  The other guys we play with aren't rules lawyer types, so they don't really care what we do.

That odd playstyle and house-ruleset, and its difference from mainstream 3.x/Pathfinder play, became apparent during my inaugural Pathfinder game tonight, and in discussions leading up to the inaugural gameday.  I am playing Pathfinder with 4 other guys I had never met before we decided to play as a group. We all met via email before we got together in person to play.  So, in that regard it is a very new experience to me as well.  I've never NOT played with my brother, other than with the classmates in 1983 who got me into D&D in the first place.  The others I have played with over the years are just a small handful of people.  These new guys seem really cool though, and have a lot of gaming experience, though when I told one of them I had been playing D&D for 26 years, he said he hadn't even been potty trained for 26 years.  :)

I can't describe my thoughts on Pathfinder without a bit of an intro as to where I am coming from in my regular long-term game.  My regular non-Pathfinder group's game can best be described as 1e/early 2e, with some skills and feats from 3.0.  We basically took the 3.0 rulebook, used the d20 system and spell descriptions, and then proceeded to take a battleaxe to all parts of the game that did not exist in 1992 D&D.  Hence, for example, no DR, no ability score increasing magic items or spells, no attacks of opportunity except as comes up during narrative style combat, no mini's or grids, no prestige classes, no special attacks like bull rush or grapple---basically we just swing heavy sharp metalic objects at people and blast them with fireballs, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

The other weird thing we do is basically ignore the rules unless it makes for a good book. Let me explain. Basicially, we all play D&D as if we are writing a book together. If we would think either the dialogue, the scene, or the action taken by our characters is cool, and would be really cool to read in a book, we do it. If we don't think it would make a good read in a book, we don't do it.

An example of how that comes up in gamelay is as follows---a guy in my new Pathfinder group told me that in his high level 3.x campaigns his character had upwards of 20-30 buffs/effects on his character at any one time.  Though we use the 3.0 rules as a base in my main group, and the rules provide for it, we never buff like that.  In fact, we rarely buff at all, though the rules allow it, and even assume we do it. Why not?  Because when was the last time you read in a book 3 pages of the main hero spending time getting buffed before a combat?  It would make for a sucky read, and take away from the heroic action.

I am the main guy who buffs, because I am a wizard, and I get mocked for it by the rest of the group, even though I do the basic mage armor, blur, and mirror image buffs before the big bad guy.  It's become a running joke that my wizard is a coward because he buffs.  But I guess that's one reason we don't have a 15 minute adventuring day.  We have plenty of spells left after each encounter because we don't waste them on buffs.  Since we don't use a formal xp system, and just level whenever the dm feels like it, it doesn't matter if we are underpowered as compared to monsters we are "supposed" to be fighting at our level. 

Playing the Pathfinder game "rules as written" is like playing 3.0 for the first time.  As such, I have no meaningful review of Pathfinder, as my experience is not really one most people share. The review would be meaningless.  As for the 3.x system in general, I can say I like aspects of it, like certain skills and feats which help you differentiate your character from others of the same class, but overall I like it less than earlier editions of the game, because of its gradual morphing into a tactical combat game, whose morphing seems to have been completed in 4e.  I prefer a narrative combat style of game.  So, there's my belated review of 3.0 and 3.5, which applies by default to Pathfinder.  I can't compare Pathfinder to other editions, because I never really played other editions as written since early 2e (we never bought or played the latter 2e stuff, which incorporated early incarnations of prestige clases, skills and feats from what I've heard.)

That being said, on our walk back from the game tonight, when describing my regular game, one guy asked why I didn't just play a narrative non-D&D ruleset, and he named several games for me.  I guess the reason is that I like D&D and all the elements that make up the game. I have a certain list of elements in my head which to me represents D&D.  The further one gets from those elements, the less it is D&D to me.  Those elements are probably more limited for me than for others because I have basically never played any other role playing game (other than a very brief stint with MERPS for my brother). Ever.  Just D&D.  It's the only one I ever wanted to play. I never felt the need for another. I don't consider myself a RPG'er in the larger sense of the phrase.  I just like to play D&D, and to the extent the game I play is like the game I played early on in the 80's, the more I like it. I also don't consider myself a gamer in the general sense, as I don't play any type of card games, board games, or MMORPG's or computer games.  I have sporadically in the past, but never really got into it that much.  I'm just a guy who likes to play D&D.

When the new player asked me about 4e, I told him I didn't like it.  He asked me if I played it, and I said no.  He wondered how I could form that opinion. It's basically because it doesn't contain the elements I consider to represent D&D in my head. Compare it to pizza.  My favorite is hawaiian pizza, which comes with ham and pineapple.  But I'll still eat and enjoy a pepperoni pizza.  And I recognize all pizza's as pizza because I have it in my head what properties pizza has.  To me, 4e is lacking certain elements I associate with D&D.  It's not pizza. It may be a meal, but it's not pizza. To others it has those elements.  Others consider it to be pizza.  Everyone has their own elements.  (Yes, I have pizza on the mind, as I skipped dinner and Dominoes is closed, damnit!)   To each their own, as long as they all enjoy their game. Bottom line, we all roll dice. Have fun, roll dice, kill stuff, and take their shit. Lather, rinse, repeat.  :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Holy Crap---Magical Gear Lists, AD&D and 3.x

I was just reading through the old Forgotten Realms Grey Boxed set which was released for AD&D in 1987 I think.  Under the section for mercenary companies, they list the uber company "The Flaming Fist" which was lead by a 20th level fighter, who was also a ruler of a large city.  The Fist cost 10,000 gp per day to hire.  The guy who owned it was super rich and powerful, and could afford the very best of all gear.  His gear was:

1 Greenstone Amulet
Plate mail +2
Displacer Cloak +2
Ring of Absorbtion (750 spell levels left)
Ring of Anti-venom (absorbs poison, 22 charges left)
Girdle of Storm Giant Strength
Gauntlets of Ogre Power
Silver Dagger +2
Silver Longsword +2
An Intelligent shortsword +1 with some minor detection abilities.
A bracelet that alows him to commnicate telepathically with 2 specific people.

Compare him to the iconic 15th level fighter Redgar from Enemies and Allies:

+5 Full plate
Amulet of Natural Armor +2
+5 Greatsword
+2 Mighty composite longbow
20 +1 arrows
Bag of holding
Boots of Striding and Springing
Bracers of Health +4
Cloak of Resistance +4
Gloves of Dexterity +2
Headband of Intellect +4
Belt of Giant strength +6
9 potions of cure moderate wounds.

Keep in mind when comparing the 2 equipment lists that the AD&D guy is the leader of a major city, and head of the largest richest most successful mercenary company in the entire world.  And it says of his gear specifically:

"Eltan is probably the most heavily loaded of the normal high level types, such as successful PC's, shouldn't be walking around with quite so much stuff.  Eltan has it because his mercany company represents the ultimate in equipage, ...and because Eltan is a very rich man who has tried to prepare for every eventuality, such as powerful adventurers trying to knock him off with ease."

When comparing him to the 15th level, yes, 15th level, Redgar, who as Enemies and Allies states is " average representative of their race and class."


I'll probably have more to say on this later, but as for now I am still in the WTF!?!? stage.

Does the core mechanic of 3.x push such a reliance on gear?  Or does the CR system designed monsters/XP awards drive the race for gear with plusses next to their name?

I know this is probably an old argument and an old topic for debate, but I don't think I've ever seen a better example of how the gear drives the gameplay/character builds as this one.  I know they're different systems, but still...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I watched a game of D&D tonight streamed live over the web...

Tonight I watched/listened in the background to a group playing D&D 4e streamed live over the Internet.  The site is  Apparently they do it every 2 weeks.  They had some sort of computerized gaming table software, and I think had some people playing remotely as well.  It was very interesting.  The players seem to be a husband and wife, with a few friends.

I have hardly played or even seen games played by people outside of a very small group of friends.  Ignoring the fact that they were playing 4e, and I have no real clue how that system operates, I was struck by the similarities between their game and mine. There was lots of out of game talk, kids running around, looking up rules, people trying to figure out how something works, the eating and discussion of food, putting the kids to bed, references to geek culture stuff (star wars, etc.), swearing and jokes, but underneath it all was a bunch of people laughing and having a good time.

I don't mean to say that 4e players and games aren't supposed to be similar or fun. The similarities were notable because my experience with other groups are very limited.  It brought home to me that what really matters about playing the game, and why we actually play, is the fun with friends, not the rules.

I think streaming game sessions could also be a good way to introduce people to a new game system. Were I so inclined, I could have really sat here and tried to understand how 4e works as a system as a way of deciding if I wanted to buy it or not.  A live broadcast of an actual game session could be a good sales tool for anyone looking to market a gamesystem. If it was specifically for that purpose, however, I would make sure the kids were already in bed.  :)

It was also my first experience seeing how a virtual gametable worked in actual play.  At a glance, I don't think it's for me or my group or the style of game we play, but for others it might be interesting to take a look at.

Does anyone know if any other groups have either live streaming or podcast versions of their game sessions?  I'd be interested in checking them out, whether live or archived.

I also think that if some groups got together to stream their games live they could make money at it. You might even be able to set up some sort of subscription moel.  If Monte Cook, or the gang at Paizo or Rob Kuntz were to set up a semi-regular webcast of their personal games, I betcha there would be people who would pay to watch it.  It's like reality TV for geeks.

Ironic that my 50th blog post is about watching a 4e game.  :)

EDIT:  So, inspired by my ideas above, I posted this over at Paizo's Boards:

Have you guys ever thought of live webcasts or recorded podcasts of actual games you play with each other? You could probably get a subscription model out of it. Can't beat getting paid to play D&D and have a good time. You might even have guest DM or player of the week kinda stuff. Also, it would be a good way to introduce the game to people who are unsure of whether they are going to buy it, and as a way to introduce certain aspects of the game or other supporting products by showing how you use them. I think most DM's and players are always looking to be better at the game, so it would be looked at as a way to learn from the best in the industry.

Plus, it would be fun to watch. It's like reality TV for geeks. If you screw up or do something cool, you'll either get your balls busted or get accolades the next day on the boards.

Also, as an idea for Paizocon, live webcasts or podcasts we can download of the event which aren't taken by some audience member's cell phone camera would be something you might make some money at as well. If you could go to Paizocon for 50 bucks from the comfort of your own home, and watch the seminars or view games or conferences or panel discussions at your leisure, it could make some money and please a lot of fans who can't afford to go there. Virtual Paizocon. Heck, via chatroom functions you might even be able to take live questions and answers if it was streamed live.

On the marketing of OSR products

There seems to be a disconnect between the people producing the products as a result of the OSR, and the gamers they are trying to sell to.  The producers of new product have a desire to produce stuff for older game systems.  I think the fundamental assumption they make, that there is actually a demand for those products in any great quantity, may be flawed. A desire to produce does not necessarily equal a desire to buy.  I know people will point to LULU sales, and Knockspell and Fight on! as examples of demand, but as a whole I don't think the target demographic of "people who would buy stuff for older games and RC's" is currently that big.  How to grow that group and make more sales is the big question.

Though I don't play any OSR or older edition games anymore, I am hopeful that the retroclones bring new gamers into the hobby.  In that regard, I support it and am glad that it seems to have grown.  That being said, a post by James Raggi at LotFP got me thinking about a few things regarding the marketing of older edition products.

The basic question he asks is "How come no one is buying stuff for retroclones or older games produced for retroclones if the product doesn't say D&D on it?"  I don't think the problem is the lack of D&D on the label.

Just because someone plays, or still plays, an older game or retroclone doesn't mean they are looking for anything new to buy.  Between Torrents and other file-sharing downloads, and the fact that there is already a ton of material out there that can be converted to any edition of D&D someone wants to play, you have to wonder that even if you have a large pool of potential purchasers, are their needs already being satisfied? Also, given the fact that most players of older versions or their clones are likely older players, they have probably developed the skills need to make up whatever they need anyhow.  After 30+ years of gaming products, OGL and otherwise, can there really be anything produced today that is not already out there in some form or another?  Plus, we are in the worst economic depression since the 1930's.  People are buckling down on their spending. Also, it seems that the most valuable IP in terms of the stuff that might sell well is being given away for free--namely, the games themselves.  Labyrinth Lord, S&W, etc. can all be downloaded for free.  I downloaded them, checked them all out, enjoyed them, and never spent a penny. 

As to the demographic of the potential purchasers, what is it?  Who are you shooting for?  

Let's use this as an example of a breakdown of the demographic:

  • People who played older games and still do.
  • People who used to play older games and got back into them recently.
  • People who used to play older games and haven't gotten back into it.
  • People who never played the older games but played more recent ones.
  • People who never played RPG's

Once you get those categories, you go to the next question:  Are they playing a game that would make them interested in a product I am producing for that game system?  Though playing a game system is not necessarily a requirement for purchasing a product for that system, it definitely helps.  If playing a game is a necessary requirement for that potential purchaser to buy a product for that game, then a producer of that product has to find a way to get that person to play that game so that he can then sell his product to him.  That's a big hurdle for a guy who just wants to sell a module.

Next question: Do the potential purchaser even know of the product I am producing?  Most people don't, because knowledge of the OSR seems to be an Internet thing mostly, limited to a small subset of the D&D online gaming community, which is itself a small subset of D&D gamers.  A subset of that knowledge, knowledge of the products produced for older games and clones other than the rulesets, seems to be a very specialized bit of knowledge.  I wouldn't even know where to go for a good listing of all products in the OSR and I'm pretty well connected to the on-line gaming community.

Once you get past those threshold issues, you have to ask: Is there a need in the potential purchaser's mind for my products?

If there is not a need, then you ask: How can I create that need so that they buy my products?

Lastly:  Is my product good enough to satisfy that need so that I make a sale with that purchaser, he tells his friends and I make sales with them as well, and also make future sales?

It seems that the potential purchasers of RC products can be drawn from every demographic.  I have no idea which one would be the best to target your time and resources at.  It seems that most of the people who are into older games either never left, or used to play them and are playing them again since the recent 3.5/4.0 schism and Gygax's death. 

I think the biggest problem that people who develop products for the RC's face is the limited audience.  I remember an episode of Beavis and Butthead, where they each got a box of candy bars to sell for a school fundraiser.  Beavis had a dollar, and gave it to Butthead for a candy bar.  Butthead then used the same dollar and bought one from Beavis. That happened over and over until they ate all the candy, and ended up with one dollar to turn in to the school.  I wonder if we are seeing the same sort of thing here.  If you look at all the blogs associated with the OSR, its mostly the same people talking to each other and commenting.  Is it an echo chamber?

One thing that would bust the OSR wide open would be if one of the clones was sold in regular stores. LULU doesn't count. All LULU does is give us a chance to print out a book and bind it because we don't want to get caught doing it at work.  By stores I mean Borders and Barnes & Noble type places. If the clones were sold in stores, then you overcome a big hurdle upfront:  awareness of the game and people actually playing it.  This assumes of course that there is in fact a wider potential market for games of that sort in the first place.  They would be sold mostly to younger people, who grew up with MMORPG's, a shitty education system that dumbed them down and also stifled their imaginations, and who read far less than our generation did. 

The good thing for producers of clone related products is that kids today have been indoctrinated into believing that buying stuff and being a mindless consumer is the ultimate way to affirm anything and everything good about themselves. If they aren't spending money and don't own the latest and greatest thing, they feel worthless.  So if they play a clone, they will buy for it.  It's just a matter of getting them to play the system in the first place.  The only way to do that is to make the games seem cool, sexy, and make the kids think they will somehow get laid, get rich, or somehow affirm something they believe or want to believe about themselves to be true if they play the game, with absolutely no hard work or effort required.  Associate the game with something the kids want to be associated with.

That being said, it seems the largest potential group of consumers of older games and clones will not buy the clones in any great level like the heyday of TSR when it was associated with devil worship.  Still, having S&W or LL in the Barnes and Noble will definitely help sales of clone-related products. 

Barring that happening, the clone product producers have to ask themselves if there is enough need or desire out there for their products to support the sales they hope for?  Maybe there just isn't, for all of the reasons I mentioned above.  Just because you have a desire to produce something doesn't mean there is a desire to buy that thing.  It seems that with the OSR we have a supply being produced before there was a demand. Or, perhaps more accurately, the true demand/desire was of the guy who wanted to make a buck off of making an old school D&D module.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bought the Pathfinder RPG Hardvcover today.

I got a copy of the hardcover in Connecticut from a Borders bookstore.

I had to drive an hour to get it, and it apparently is the only bookstore of the major chains (Borders and Barnes & Noble) in about 150 miles that is going to get one in any time soon---and this store only got ONE in.

The thing is so heavy I had to strap it in with a seatbelt, so in case I stopped short it wouldn't blast through my engine block.

I'll take a look through it this weekend and let you all know my thoughts. I know it is definitely well worth picking it up, even if, like me, you have the pdf. There is just something about having a book to read and understand something. The pdf is good as a reference once you learn it, but to learn and get it I think that for me a book is a must.

PC's who give a sh*$

It's very interesting in running a campaign (the Bard one) with players whose characters pointedly do not give a shit...about much of look at modules for ideas and find that almost all of the recent ones (last 10 yrs) are premised on the fact that characters, if approached with a problem that's not their own, actually give a shit about the poor bastard with the problem.

This could be just a failure of memory but wouldn't you say that back in the AD&D days, characters didn't so much give a shit about helping others, as they did in helping themselves, first and foremost?  And the modules were designed with that premise in mind?  It seemed to be mostly about slaughter and looting, and if someone else was helped along the way, good for them.  Or, if you want my help, you're gonna pay dearly for it bitches.  Granted, a lot of modules have "other character hooks" sections, but the main one, and the one modules seem to be written around, is one of the helpful do-gooder PC.

Even if you want to explore other plot hooks, often because of the story format of modules, and the tie-ins from one section to another, you have to do large revisions of sections to make it fit.  Certain encounters are based on the characters following the story arc of the helpful PC---otherwise that encounter wouldn't make sense.

If this is indeed a true observation and not just a revision of history, when did the shift in assumed motivation occur?  By shift I meant in the modules themselves, not in the players. A shift in the design premise of the module that the PC's players use will be do-gooders. Seems that the older modules didn't have this built-in assumption.

What came first, the do-gooder assumption in module design creating more and more players playng that way, thinking it was the way to do it, or the players out there actually doing it so modules were designed for them?  Was it a result of the whole 2e abortion of assassins, devils and demons?

D&D/RPG Gamer demographics and online/electronic social networking mediums

I just read ths article, and thought it might spark some interesting discussion re: RPG/D&D players and the social networking sites we use. Check it out.

For me, I have Facebook and Myspace but I go on Myspace like once a month to check out the two friends who are on there. I don't like it. I recently set up a Facebook account specifically for family members and have a separate one for friends, because I don't want my 16 yr old cousin of my 78 year old uncle to be part of my social interactions with my friends. I have a blog I post to maybe once a week, and I subscribed to Twitter, mostly to follow D&D related tweets. I don't know anyone else who uses it other than D&D related people. I check it once a day, usually when I get home from work, and usually see so many "tweets" that I don't even bother reading them.

As far as text messaging on a cell phone, I can't stand it, and do it very rarely. I use IRC like a few times a year for chat rooms related to D&D. I do have text messaging set up with AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, GMail, MSN and Facebook, and run them all through one central interface program called Pidgin. I don't use Skype/internet voicechat or any sort of webcam/video conferening applications.

Just to add to it, on how my use integrates with my RPG hobby, I tried once in the mid 90's to do a voice over modem connection game of D&D with a guy from our group who moved away and our group. It failed horribly. I am sure it would work better now than on the half duplex modem setup we used, but we haven't had a need to try since then.

I use IM to chat with another guy from various boards or blogs I read, but that's rarely.

I do post to other people's blogs once in a while to comment, but that might be once a week or so.

I check on maybe 6 boards a day, but post 99% of the time on

I used to have as Facebook "friends" maybe 60 people in the rpg industry, then I realized I didn't really know any of them, and didn't really care to know that much about their personal lives, so I unfriended them.

Every once in a while I go to IRC Chatrooms for the Greytalk chat on That's a rare thing though.

Every so often I will listen to or watch a RPG related podcast or Youtube video, if the interviewee or topic looks interesting.

I'm curious what the rest of us use, in order to determine the demographic for D&D/RPG'ers, if there is any such thing. Also, what do you use and how do you use such applications in support of the hobby?

Feel free to post ehre in comments, or I have a poll set up here: