Saturday, October 31, 2009

PDF Piracy

Interesting article.  Think there is a correlation to the RPG world?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A fun surprise for tomorrow night's game...

I am scheduled to DM the 3.x Bard Rock Band campaign tomorrow night.   Tell me what's wrong with these pictures then...


I decided to make them the guinea pigs tomorrow night for my AD&D conversion of Red Hand of Doom.  :)

I started working on tonight.  I am going to run them through chapters 4 and 5 of the module. Chapter 4 conversion is complete.  This will be the run-through of what I plan to run at a local Con in December.

They have no idea it's coming.  Two of the guys haven't played AD&D 1e since like 1989.  The other guy never played any edition other than 3.0.  It should be interesting.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wanna help me brainstorm?

I threw a big curveball at the players last time I DM'd the bard medieval rockband campaign.  It was set in Freeport, with part of the island concealed by the mystical fog from Castle Zagyg's Upper Works.  Freeport was set in the Wilderlands setting.

Anyhow, as part of the last session, I wanted to spice things up. I found I didn't have enough time to learn the ins and outs of Wilderlands, so I decided as a side effect of the players magically opening up large areas of the concealed parts of the island, includng the Castle itself, all kinds of crazy extra-planar rift shit happened.  I plopped the whole damn island chain 2 miles off the coast of Waterdeep, 1st edition Forgotten Realms, a place I know pretty well.  Meaning pre-scimitar-wielding drow, pre-time of troubles, pre-everything second edition.  I personally think that the grey box Realms was pretty old school in mentality.  (Disagree in another place please....)

And I've already decreed that Elminster had his hands cut off, his tongue ripped out and his balls and cock fed to piranha while still attached, for having been caught fondling young boys behind his tower.  So he is out of the picture.

Thing is, I hadn't planned on playing this again until January, so I put it on the back burner.  Our regular session is canceled for this week, so we decided just tonight to play the rock band bards on Friday night. 

I haven't put a lot of thought into the consequences of dropping an island of pirates 2 miles off the coast of Waterdeep.  I figured I had more time.   :)

Wanna help flesh some stuff out?

Here are some ideas so far:

1.  They owe a favor to the crime lord Finn, so he has them investigate the city, with his weirdass submarine contraption.  (Apparatus of Kwalish? or something like that)  They have to break through the Waterdeep naval blockade submarine style and report back.

2.  Large waves and seismic tremors wrecked a lot of the dock area of Waterdeep, hurting the navy.  An alliance with the new island would be helpful.

3.  Waterdeep, unurt by the plopping, after long negotiations, instead of conquering the city, decided to keep them as a sort of puppet state, independent in name, but gets them to do their dirty work.

4.  Tough situations would arise if a city like Freeport with its "evil" humanoids integrated with Waterdeep.

5.  Other cities of the sword coast, enemies of Waterdeep, seek alliance with the new island against Waterdeep.  This would mean that Waterdeep's navy and docks were wrecked heavily, for Waterdeep to tolerate such a thing and the navy of Freeport is relatively intact.

6.  Adventurers from Waterdeep flock to Castle Zagyg, once the blockade goes away.

7.  Naval War!

8.  Trade War!

9.  Part of the mountain in Waterdeep collapses on the city, hurting them badly economically, forcing them to need Freeport.

10.  Freeport's factions unify out of fear of a common new unknown enemy---Waterdeep.

11.  The party's actions in opening up the mist areas and the Castle are known by Freeport and eventually Waterdeep's rulers---making them targets of interest---and hate.

12.  Finn the crime lord finds out about it, keeps it quiet and uses it as leverage over the PC's.

13.  War between the underworld of the 2 cities.

14.  I may use the Ruins of Undermountain, especially the evil city underneath it.

15.  More rifts open up in various places, some permanent in nature.  Some to other primes, some to evil places.

Throw me your ideas!  Any idea is a good idea, both for the short term and the long term.  What would logically happen as a result of this crazy event?  :)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Note the new kid on the RPG Social Networking block---link to the right.

It's called the Role Playing Media Network, set up by Berin Kinsman Unclebear).  It's already having explosive growth, over 100 members in like 6 hours.  It's pretty cool, with chatroom, forums, blogs, media centers, all sorts of neat things.  Check it on the link to the right.  

Just in case the RPGN bites it....

make sure you save your favorite blogs as favorites in another application, like the Blogger Dashboard thing.  All you have to do is click somewhere on a blog to be a follower of the blog, starting with mine of course.  :)

I'm not saying it will crash and burn, just being cautious.  I have no idea what will happen, especially now that I unsubscribed from the mailing list.  Burnt me out trying to figure what was going on...

All 250 or so of the RPG-related blogs I follow are listed on the right, in case you're looking for a starting point.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Are just plain ol' boring to me.  The last long term dungeon I played was Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.  I couldn't stand having my character stuck in a hole in the ground for the best 8 or so levels of his life, rather than walking around the world, doing his own thing.  Granted, I've been called a control freak in RL, and my characters seem to have that trait as well, but to just hang around in a hole in the ground killing shit and taking their stuff ad nauseum is just a waste of time to me.

It's like the difference between the old video game Gauntlet and the newest MMORPG's.  The freedom to do what you want to do, and not be tied to a place to go kill shit and take their stuff.

If you like it, more power to you.  It's just not to my tastes.  I like being above ground, shaping my own character's destiny in the world around him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aprarently Conan was real, and we're all a bunch of pansies.

Came across this anthropology article the other day, and it made me realize how much sitting on my fat lazy ass typing on Blogs and Boards has made me a girly-man.  Check it out....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Character Class Archetypes, Reality, and Game Preferences

It occurs to me as I play PF/3.5 as written that my preferences for a less grid/movement/tactical game come not only from a preference for a certain style of play, i.e. narrative v. tactical, but perhaps primarily derive from how I define character classes.

My preferences for character classes go back to the original Red Box stuff, where you had a guy who swings a sword, a guy who steals stuff, a guy who can pray and have actual miracles occur as a result, and a guy who can use magic.  I like those 4 archetypes because they are very basic, and because (outside of the magic and miracles) they represented what an ordinary guy Western Europe in the middle ages could do. 

For example, a guy in the middle ages who was a warrior swung a heavy piece of sharp metal.  The more he swung it and prevailed in combat, the better he got at swinging it.  The guy who steals stuff had to rely on his physical body to move around silently, and his wits to determine if there were traps, or people he didn't trust.  The more he was successful, he became more experienced, and became better at doing what he did best.

The rules of Basic D&D let me determine if an ordinary guy who fights with a sword or steals is successful at what he is trying to do.  In other words, you have an average guy who is good with a sword.  He is not supernaturally strong, nor does he have any powers a guy in Western Europe in 1345 AD wouldn't have had. He is not as strong as a giant, nor could he ever grow to be.  If I wanted to determine if that guy in a magic free world swung his sword and hit something, the rules of D&D Basic Set give me the ability to do so.  They don't give me any rules for something an average Western European in 1345 AD couldn't do.  This is the natural world, the same one we all live in today. The rules for these two character classes just describe what we can already do in the natural world, both then and now, and help us adjudicate chances for success.  You could run a game of D&D set in the medieval European world of Earth using the Red Box rules for fighter and thief and its combat rules.

That's the base of the game.  Let's call it the natural world.

Then you have the overlay of magic and miracles on top of it. Let's call this the fantasy overlay, level 1.  In addition to being able to wield a weapon and wear armor, a guy can also cause miracles to occur, as a result of the direct intervention of a deity he worships. Another guy can also tap into mystical forces which are real, and cause fire to spring from his hands and burn his foes. They both tap into the forces of the supernatural.  Certain elements of fantasy books, magazines and movies of the time were basically added to the natural world, and we now have normal people living in the natural world, some of which have the ability to do the fantastic, or tap into the supernatural.  In all cases though, the magic or miracle was something that was outside of you. You were a normal man who was able to tap into something outside of yourself and make it affect the world around you. The character wasn't himself magical, fantastic, or supernatural in any way. 

Next we have supernatural creatures added into the combination of natural world and fantasy overlay 1.  Let's call this fantasy overlay 2.  Some of the less fantastic creatures can be played as classes, and some are there to interact with in other ways (mostly just to kill and take their stuff).  Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes, etc. represent classic fantasy creatures, with rules which determine their ability to do things in certain circumstances. These races are not as powerful as most of the other fantastic creatures, but are more numerous.  They are inspired from classic mythology and other fantasy elements of the time when the rules were written.  The rules describe how the abilities they were portrayed as having in mythology or in the literature of the day function and interact with the natural world.

There was a strict division in the classes humans were able to play.  You were one of the 4, and there was no overlap in abilities.  You were either someone who fought, stole, used magic, or caused miracles to occur.  

Again though, until we added the fantasy layers, the rules represented reality and how to deal with real life situations that would have occurred in 1345 AD or 2009 AD, assuming we stole without the use of technology and fought with medieval weapons in 2009.  The classes represented that reality.

Classes in later editions don't start off in the natural world.  They are inherently supernatural, jumping right into, stemming from, and are an inherent part of fantasy overlay 2.  How else do you describe a race/class combo that can teleport at will?  Or push a dragon a distance just by using a power?  Or a swordsman who can target, mark, curse, put an oath on, or otherwise affect his foes magically before he even swings a sword? Or heal himself at will?  Is this ability inherent in everyone who lives in the land? Making them all supernatural? Or can it be learned?  Making humans all latently supernatural? Are these people even human anymore?

Just so you don't think I'm picking on 4e, to use 3.x examples, how can someone shoot 2 arrows at once with any accuracy in the real world?  Or not be penalized for shooting arrows into an ever-shifting melee combat?  Or not be penalized when swinging a sword at someone when you're blind?  Or hit four people with one swing of the sword with equal effectiveness?  Or trip or grapple a guy 2 or 3 times your weight? Or grow in strength to be as strong as a supernatural creature 10 times his weight?  Would a guy with a sword in England in 1345 AD be able to do that?

The reality we are starting with in the later editions is not natural, it is supernatural, or superheroic at least.  It's a world where the adventurer is not the average guy who got good with a sword, but something not human as we would describe it on earth in 2009.  Supernatural abilities are built into the class, and the class doesn't describe what a person primarily does (as in swings a sword, steals, causes miracles or casts spells), as much as it describes a list of inherent supernatural or superheroic abilities or powers that a person has. The rules no longer start with a basis of reality in the natural world. They start with a basis in a reality I can no longer identify with, either because I am not involved with or don't like the latest literary, film, or computer game influences, or because of some other reason.

I can understand that some fighters may be better with a bow than they are with a sword due to specializing in it, and that a thief may be a cat burglar rather than a pick pocket. To the extent the rules allow for such specialization, I agree with them.  But other than casting spells due to arcane study or making miracles due to devotion to a diety, I don't agree with rules which represent a reality not present in 1345 AD England.

Not surprisingly, I also don't agree with multiclassing without serious penalties.  Each profession of the four above requires much hard work and discipline to achieve mastery in.  When you dabble in two fields which each require total focus to master and get better at, there ought to be a seriously huge penalty to how fast you can achieve mastery in each (level up) when you are dividing your attention.

To the extent someone may argue that some of these classes from later editions are simply characters with multiclassed abilities integrated so as to make a new class, or a prestige class, I also call BS on it.  It has no basis in reality, because you are essentially starting as human and melding into your very being supernatural or magical abilities, so that they manifest in a sword fighter who can channel electricity bolts from their being through their sword on a successful hit.   Or who can blink in and out of a this phase of existence, like a phase spider, and strike down a foe without them seeing you coming, not due to casting a spell, and channeling energy outside of yourself, but by using energy and power you somehow have made a part of yourself.  Again, you're no longer human.

To the extent a class system is more based in the natural world, with magic or miracles being something a special class of adventurer has to cast spells to achieve, who is a normal human being in every respect other than their ability to cast spells,  I like the game system better.  Likewise, to the extent all playable races have abilities which aren't magical or supernatural (like the ability to cast faerie fire) but are rather the product of them living in a certain environment and being in tune with it due to the nature of their race (detect stonework traps), I like those races better.

Was I imprinted by my early experiences to therefore like certain editions and styles more than others?  Yup.  Obviously.  Does it matter to me what someone else plays?  Nope.  Enjoy it.  I just write these essays and experiment with newer systems to help me to better define what I like in a game, and why I like it.  There is no one game system which is inherently better than others, except on a personal level, due to personal preference.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The role of Customer Service in an RPG company

I wonder how much different D&D would have been if the original attitude prevailing at early WOTC as described in the link below had been present for the past 10 years.

An interesting thread on this topic is running at now.

Here's the link mentioned above,   from Al at Beyond the Black Gate, and think it's pretty relevant to the discussion...Enjoy...

Back to the subject at hand in this thread,  I doubt that any of the PR or customer service mistakes would have been made. It would have been so fundamentally against the corporate culture to do so, that they would never have come up.

I think that the Lisa and Vic mentioned in that article link are the same who now own Paizo, so maybe in a sense the spirit of the early WOTC days is still alive in Paizo/Pathfinder.

Fundamentally it comes down to who owns/runs/works at the company, and why they do so. If it's all about the money to the detriment of the hobby and those who enjoy the hobby, you have problems. To the extent the decisions and corporate environment reflect the spirit of enthusiastic members of the hobby making things for others who enjoy the hobby, you have a company like Paizo doing well with PR effortlessly, because to them it's not PR. It's just being themselves and enjoying what they're doing.

I wonder if we can ever get such an attitude back for D&D pen and paper tabletop roleplaying in some way...I don't know if the cultural underpinnings are there anymore to support such widespread manic enthusiasm for either the current or older versions of the game.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scott Rouse leaves WOTC

Being the PR guy for WOTC these past few years must have been like being the guy back in the 90's who had to make sure Bill Clinton didn't get in trouble with women while President.

That WOTC was a PR nightmare of their own making can't be disputed.  That it was Rouse's fault though is another question.  How much input he had in choosing the direction of 4e, or deciding to pull pdf's we don't know.  How much his hands were tied in dealing with WOTC's messes we don't know either.

The situation could have been as simple as:

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "We need to make a new version of D&D that effectively destroys most of the 3pp market with a very restrictive token "partnership" license only a fool would sign onto because it puts all the power back in our hands, gets kids who play MMORPG's to play D&D, and changes the game mechanics and language drastically for the sole purpose that no one can legally make anything for it via the OGL.  After that, we need to do everything we can to make sure no one plays any version of the game other than our latest one, so we need to stop selling anything for any other version of the game."

Rouse:  "That will piss a lot of people off."

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "Who gives a shit?  All that matters is that every buck that people spend on RPG's goes to us.  It's your job to put the best face on whatever we do. Just don't tell the truth about anything.  Spin Spin Spin.  Deny 'till you die.  Give vague non-specific glimpses of the new game. Get the suckers excited. That will hurt the 3pp's, as people stop making or buying for the old system, just like in the 3.0 switch to 3.5 days."

Rouse: "Once the truth is out about what we did, I'll look like a liar, and so will the company."

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "Who the fuck cares. At that point, there will be no real competition anyhow (and I'll likely have gotten a promotion and be out of this Hasbro backwater division anyhow, for my cost cutting profit increasing measures of firing half the division after the new version is released.)  If people play old systems, they likely won't spend a buck on anything new anyhow.  So fuck 'em.  We need to get the people who still delude themselves into thinking they can't make up better shit than the piss-poor waste of paper we put out every month.  After all, it's not like some company is going to keep the old system alive, revamping the old rules, and still publish quality material for it.  Besides, people are too stupid to believe the truth that this was our plan all along, even when the truth is obvious, staring them in the face."

Rouse:  "Ok.  Sounds good.  I'm on board with the plan.  Brilliance!"  (goes to polish up his resume.)

Good Luck Scott.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Massive Hoard of Old School Gaming Material Looted at Local Store-----Check it Out!!!

So, as a result of what I posted last weekend, I contacted a local comic store which I didn't even know existed, that's right near my house.  I asked them if they had any Dungeons and Dragons stuff.  He said nothing new, just a few boxes of old stuff.  My interest piqued, I asked if I could take a look at it.


A MASSIVE collection of old school stuff, much of which I had never even hear of, going back to the 70's.  All kinds of odd publishers.  Apparently they had been in some guy's mother's attic since the 80's, and the guy just wanted the comic guy to sell them for him.

The comic guy said there were a few kids in earlier in the week, who asked if he had any D&D stuff, and he directed them to the boxes.  The kids took a look, and apparently not recognizing a thing they understood to be D&D, making comments about "old shit", they left it untouched.

Thank GOD for the stupidity of kids today!!!

I purchased it ALL!!!   I'll save the price to the end.  Before you ask, NO!  I am not selling a damn thing.  :)  I would be curious as to your best guesstimates as to how much it is worth though.

I just brought it home tonight. First, and most importantly, such a massive organizing endeavor required Beer.  Much Beer.  A 12-pack at least.  I'll put the pizza on hold until after the organizing. No sense getting the stuff greasy.

Next, I laid it out on my kitchen table organized by publisher and type, and typed up this list.

Note that this stuff is 99.5 % in fantastic condition.  Well over half of it, and most of the magazines, are in plastic sleeves.  The stuff looks virtually untouched. The only thing that has seen better days is the MM1, which looks like a Tarrasque got a hold of it. Everything else is in amazing shape.

Behold My Treasure!!!!!!!!

Judge's Guild:

Book of Treasure Maps III
Character Codex
The Book of Ruins
Island Book 1
Portals of Torsh
The Illhiedrin Book
The Book of Treasure Maps II
Wondrous Relics
Fantastic Personalities
Portals of Twilight
Tegel Manor (1980)
Caves and Caverns
Spies of Lightelf
The Unknown Gods
Wondrous Weapons
Lara's Tower
The Caverns of Thracia
Rat on a Stick
Frontier Forts of Kelnor
The Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor
Ready Ref Sheets Volume 1 Second Edition
1 big 2-sided map of the Wilderlands, one side with hexes, one side without.
Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches
Wilderlands of the Magic Realm
Map--1-sided-Map 1-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 2&3-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 4&5-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 6-Laminated (other side bland hexes)
Map--2-sided-Map 7&8-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 7&8-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 7&8-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 9&10-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 9&10-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 7&8-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 12&13-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 12&13-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 12&13-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 14&11-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 14&11-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 15&16-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 15&16-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 15&16-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 17&18-Not-Laminated
Map--2-sided-Map 17&18-Laminated

Midkemia Press:

Jonril, Gateway to the Sunken Lands-with Map (co-author Raymond E. Feist!!!)

Bard Games:

The Compleat Spellcaster
The Compleat Adventurer


Carse (Midkemia Press City)

Columbia Games:

Rethem Kingdom Module
Orbaal Kingdom Module
Chybisa Kingdom Module
Azadmere Kingdom of the Dwarves
Son of Cities Expansion Module for Cities of Harn

Iron Crown Enterprises:

Thieves of Tharbad (Middle-Earth)
Haunted Ruins of the Dunlendings (Middle-Earth)
Creatures and Treasures

The Companions:

Plague of Terror
Streets of Gems
Gems for Death
Cards of Power
Sylvan Settings

Beast Enterprises Ltd.:

Tortured Souls 4
Tortured Souls 5
Tortured Souls 8
(Like an early British Dungeon Magazine, #4 is from 1984)

Flying Buffalo:

Grimtooth's Traps Too (1982)
The Isle of Darksmoke 1, The Nameless Village and the Dome Level

Role Aids:

Monsters of Myth and Legends
Angry Wizard Fez III
Evil Ruins
Deadly Power
Question of Gravity
Dark Folk
Fantastic Treasures II

White Dwarf Magazine:

Issue 44x2
Issue 50
Issue 79
Issue 55
Issue 74
Issue 51
Issue 45
Issue 34
Issue 85
Issue 36
Issue 53
Issue 32
The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume III

Dungeon Magazine:

Issues 2-13
Issues 15-18
Issue 20
Issue 21 (with poster)

Basic/Moldvay/Holmes Etc.:

Player Character Record Sheets (3-hole punched booklet of green sheets)
B4 The Lost City (3-hole punched)
X9 The Savage Coast
X3 Curse of Xanathon
AC10 Beastiary of Dragons and Giants
B6 The Veiled Society
M2 Vengeance of Alphaks
X7 The War Rifts of Kron
M1 Into the Maelstrom
CM3 Sabre River
X6 Quagmire
AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn

AD&D Books and Supplements:

DMG New Cover
Unearthed Arcana
Monster Manual 2
Field Folio
Players Handbook Old Cover
The Rogues Gallery
Players Reference Screen
Monster Manual Old Cover (pretty beat up spine, but this is the only thing in the collection in less than really good shape)
WORLD OF GREYHAWK (I put this in all caps because it is not boxed, but in a folder, with maps of Greyhawk, the maps are the same as the boxed set and thre is a booklet called the Gazetteer.  I've never seen or heard of this version before).

AD&D Modules:

WG4 Forgotten Tample of Tharizdun
A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity
Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits
D3 Vault of the Drow
I10 Ravenloft II: The Houe of Gryphon Hill
I12 Egg of the Phoenix
C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
S2 White Plume Mountain (Orange Edition Extra Artwork)
WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure
UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave
UK2 The Sentinel
C4 To Find a King
X13 Crown of Ancient Glory
I5 Lost Tomb of Martek
D1-2 Descent Into the Depth of the Earth
G1-2-3 Against the Giants
I11 Needle
MV1 Midnight on Dagger Alley (With Magic Viewer!!!)
H2 Mines of Bloodstone
N5 Under Illefarn (For Realms)
H4 Throne of Bloodstone
Waterdeep and the North
Empires of the Sands

Dragon Magazines:

Issues 56, 57
Issues 73, 74, 75x2, 76
Issues 80, 81, 82, 83x2, 85, 88
Issues 94x2, 95, 97, 99
Issues 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109
Issues 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119
Issues 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 129
Issues 130, 131, 149, 155
Best of Dragon Volume 3

Assorted Random Stuff:

Imagine Adventure Games Magazine Issue #1 April 1983 (Apparently a UK Official TSR version of Dragon Magazine)
Game Master Publications GM3 In Search of New Gods
Entertainment Concepts (1982) Search for the Lost City:  A Jungle Adventure
The Armory (1986) 30-sided Character and Other Tales
Heritage Models (1978) Rules for Wargames, Wizards and Warfare, by Peter Irving
Dragon Publishing: Dragontales-- An Anthology of All-New Fantasy Fiction August 1980 (Apparently a TSR publication of Fiction Stories.  Even Tom Moldvay has a story in there called Black Lotus Moon)
Fantasy Games Unlimited Castle Plans for Sieges in 25 mm Scale (including the castle maps and plans, 4 sets)
Warlock The Fighting Fantasy Magazine, Volumes 6 and 8, (1986)
Squadron/Signal Publications (1981) Down in the Dungeon (Color artwork)
Avalon Hill:  General, Volume 26, No. 6
Heavy Metal Magazine October and November 1981
Marvel Comic: The Savage Sword of Conan #111
Harrier Comics Presents Redfox No. 9

The Price I Paid:

$100 bucks.  

For all of it. 


And best of all, I have a 3 day weekend coming up.  I now have plans for the weekend---Do Not Disturb!

What do you think it's all worth? Best guess?

Monday, October 5, 2009

D&D and Halloweens Past

1992. We were in college, and after an entire day of paintball wars (single shot pump action pistols, none of that automatic spray the woods with paint crap for us), we got ready for a whole long night of D&D.

Anyhow, we're all drinking and rolling dice and on the third floor of this guy's apartment. We hear the knock on the door of trick-or-treaters, but we're all too tired and drunk to go down and up to answer it. Besides, all we had was beer to give them anyhow, and we weren't parting with the beer.

Next thing you know, his window gets pelted with half a dozen eggs. We look out the window, and it was a bunch of high school kids, too old to be trick or treating in the first place, taunting us like the frenchman from Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Being all adrenalined up from a successful D&D slaughter, we all looked at each other, finished our beers, grabbed our paintball guns, and proceeded to hunt down and shoot the punks for the next hour, all over the neighborhood.

Best Halloween D&D night ever.

Regional Demographics of Gamers in the US

I'll probably land in hot water for the stereotypes I am about to bring up, but here goes.  I was thinking this morning about the lack of gaming stores in my area, Connecticut.  As far as I can tell from a few years of looking, there are none.  I have to go browse for books at the local big chain retail bookstores, and they basically only carry official D&D books.  The closest ones are in NY City and Boston.  Even then, NY only has like 2 decent ones.  That's for a city of what---11 million people?  All crunched into just a few miles?  

Then I read on various blogs about states in the midwest and west having tons of FLGS (friendly local gaming stores) all over the place, in little towns even and they stay in business.  In some instances, new ones are opening up. I know these states don't have anywhere near the population density of NY City or Boston.  Some states probably don't even have the population of these cities in total. And it's not as if the whole state is serviced by one or two stores.  The geographic distances make that an impossibility. 

So, what's the deal?  Are there more gamers in the midwest and western states?  Is there something about the culture that fosters this?  Or do the metropolitan coastal areas just buy the books online and value a sense of community less than these states?  Is the slower paced lifestyle more conducive to gaming and a gaming lifestyle?   Is this the same in less metropolitan areas around the world? Are hobbies like gaming and other hobbies in which you get benefits from having a FLGS nearby more prevalent in non-east coast-metropolitan regions?

What's up?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Too Heretically Delicious Not To Post...THOR!!!

The next edition

This may be an exercise in futility to say this, but lets try not to get into an edition war on this one.  I'll try and narrow the topic to a specific question:

Since 4e is so tied to the digital medium, and it took so long to get the digital aspect of it functional and integrated, do you think the next edition (4.x or 5e) will be a change as great as 4e was from 3.x?  Or does the investment in all that technology and digital integration force the next edition to be a modification/expansion/overlay of 4e, in that it would be to much of a new investment and too great a loss on the old investment to make such large-scale changes by making much of DDI useless?

Your thoughts?

Pathfinder Update 2: Combat

Tonight I got schooled in combat, 3.x/Pathfinder style.

My head is still spinning. We had our first real fights in tonight's game.  It involved a lot of tactical movement with miniatures on a grid/map of the place. What became apparent to me is that without in-depth knowledge of the rules of movement, and what types of actions you can do in certain parts of your turn, you just suck and are far less effective as a player.

The other guys in the group know most everything by heart, and are learning the PF variations on the 3.5 rules.  For me, I'm just learning the 3.5 rules for the first time, and am moving from our usual narrative combat style of play to something very structured.

It's almost like the guys who put together 3.x said to themselves:  "We have a game where people do these couple dozen things in combat all the time. Let's codify everything related to them in the rules, rather than let the DM just wing it when someone wants to try something other than swinging a sword or blasting with a spell."

The combat reminded me of chess with randomness elements, more than anything else.  It's a thinking man's combat, analytical.  I don't know how such a style would handle outside the box creativity, if it weren't accounted for in the rules.

One part of me likes it. I could see myself enjoying it on certain level, if I could ever figure out all the 1001 details of it all and how each element interacts with the rest.  It's truly a game where gamemastery of the rules makes for a great player.  I can also see because of the gamemastery why people look for every advantage they can get with prestige classes, and other splatbook stuff that gets their characters some sort of advantage.

I also can see now where 4e came from a bit more clearly.  There's not much of a leap from what we did tonight, to what I've heard about in 4e games. To the extent that (from what I've heard) 4e is more bland, and not as based in a simulationist world, then I could see myself liking it a lot less than 3.x.

The combats definitely take a lot longer than I am used to.  The tactical advantage gained by movement/skill/feat/spell/combat rules combinations are significant, and require more time that rolling to see if you hit something every round.

One other think I noticed that when playing D&D with virtual strangers, all you have is the game. There is no bullshitting time. We get there, roll, kill, loot, and go home.  The guys I play with all seem pretty cool though, and I'm sure it will change over time as we get to know each other.  But it's just an odd thing not to spend half of our time in non-game related talk.

EDIT to add in response to someone who told me not to feel like I played poorly:

Thanks man.  I think I was more bewildered than anything else.  I read the combat rules in PF, and in the 3.0 rules we use, but we never implemented most of them from the 3.0 rules into our game.  It's an entirely different thing to read about them, and then see them effectively implemented.

I kept saying to myself "Wow. This is D&D huh?"  I feel like I should have felt like I was left behind for these last 10 years, but due to my ignorance of the true 3.x game, didn't feel that way--if that makes any sense.

The other thing I realized  is why I am so confused when people say that "X spell is broken" ,when X spell is basically the same as it's been since the 70's. When the game is so rules centered, where every action has a predictable outcome, if you throw a spell in there which throws off predictability, people don't like it.  Maybe a rigid ruleset has made DM's less flexible and less capable of handling it.  Player's maybe don't want to have all their tactical logical plans shot to hell because of the randomness factor.  It makes more sense.

I'm sure 3.x is a fine game, and I am enjoying learning it for the first time.  I just don't see myself and my group adopting it once my little solo experiment with it is over.  But even with all that being said, I'm having fun learning something new, and the group is a bunch of decent guys.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I'm gonna do it.... !!!!!!

One of the guys in my new Pathfinder group runs AnonyCon in Stamford CT. He asked me if I was willing to DM a game there. For the reasons described in my other post, my houseruled game would be difficult to DM. I was thinking of doing a AD&D game (if I did it at all), just because it was the game I had some of the most fun with ever, and I haven't played it since the late 80's/early 90's and want some nostalgia play.

I've decided to do it. I am going to run AD&D, because I haven't run it in over 20 years and have the itch. To add to the challenge, I'm going to run the "Red Hand of Doom" module, originally for 3.x. I'll convert it, both as a way to re-familiarize myself with AD&D, and as a way to ensure that no potential players know whats coming.

Plus, I am going to do this in coordination with TARGA, an organization created to raise awareness of traditional adventure roleplaying games. I ran my rum-and-coke influenced mouth the other week ago on their mailing list with ideas and critiques, so now I feel obligated to put my money where my mouth is.

I'll probably give out TARGA fliers, info, and CD's to people who show up. I figure that since Red Hand was a great 3.x module, showing how 3.x games can be backwards converted and still be fun is a nice way to get newer players into older games.

I will spend a lot of time converting the module, and after the event I will post the conversion notes and stuff on my blog so others can do the same thing if they want.

So once I decided to do it, I went to the old books and stuff to see what I had. The DM's and Player's screens were still there, intact. I used to have AD&D official player character record sheets, the orange ones which were joint sheets. There was one for Magic-User/Illusionist, one for Cleric/Druid, etc. I remembered telling myself 20 years ago that I was going to save one of each and not write on them, just in case I could ever get access to a photocopier somewhere (much harder to get access to one as a 16 year old kid in 1986). Sure as shit, when I checked there was one of each saved. Damn I'm good. Work photocopier here I come!!

I've also managed to pick up an additional PHB and 2 more DMG's over the years, to add to my one of each. Now the players can share a PHB between them.

I've never run Red Hand under 3.x, but always wanted to, which is another reason I want to run it here. I have no idea how long it will take to play out. As such, I will hopefully playtest it once it is converted. I may make the duration open-ended.

More details as I get further along. I'm kinda excited.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Does Pathfinder mark the end of the age of prestige classes?

Do you think people are just tired of splatbooks after the 3.5 era, after seeing what the never-ending splatbook nuclear arms prestige class race ultimately lead to? Are we thankful for good interesting core classes that can be played to high level, and want to just stick with them? Does the Pathfinder RPG mark the new age of far fewer prestige classes?

Did the interruption of no 3.x splatbooks force us to be a bit introspective, take a look around, and realize "Shit, prestige classes are a pain in the ass.  Who needs them and the kind of game they lead to."

The point of my question is as to prestige classes specifically, not splatbooks in general.  Or are prestige classes so integral to splatbook sales that they can not be left out?

Was Pathfinder the impetus many needed to finally say "No more prestige classes!" ?  A natural break with the past in some ways which justifies putting an end to them in peoples' campaigns?  A way to justify getting off the prestige class treadmill?

Another reason may be we are all older now, we who played through the 3.x era, and can pick and choose what we want a bit more discriminatingly, and are less reliant on splatbooks for game mechanic related things? Ideas are always good to glean, but game mechanic stuff like prestige classes, less so? That seems to be a lot of what I am seeing in a thread on I started on getting older...

Also, maybe just going back to core is scratching that Grognard itch?