Friday, June 4, 2010, 6:45 PM
Yup, pretty bored again. I've been in touch with some of the members of my normal gaming group over the past few months and I'm hoping we can start up again once we're all back. We're all deployed at the moment, which is actually kind of funny. Being in the military usually means having to be gone for anywhere to a couple of weeks to a year or more, and isn't always condusive to keeping group activities intact. You may be deployed at one point, and when you get back, your regular group may yet again be seperated because one or more other members may have been or will shortly be deployed as well.
At any rate, I haven't broached the subject of what edition we're going to play thus far. We probably won't even be starting till September anyways, enough time for everyone to get back, take some block leave time with the families, get readjusted to living in conditions where the bathroom is 10 steps away instead of 100, and having children running underfoot (i mean the little ones, not the ones you have to look out for as a leader sometimes lol). I'm hoping we'll finally delve into 4th edition, seeing as how its kind of pointless to buy books for a game I'm not playing, and as I sold my 3E and 3.5E stuff for the most part along time ago. So I figure that if we don't end up playing 4E, then at least we can upgrade a little to Paizo's Pathfinder RPG rules.
I picked up the pdf version of the Tome of Secrets, usable with Pathfinder, for its Spellblade class. Its kind of a variant on the duskblade, my favorite class for 3.5E, but its got its issues. I've never understood why, if a class is supposed to be a frontline combatant, it always gets stuck with a d8 hit die. Its SUPPOSED to be in combat! I was glad that when the Swordmage came out, it was supposed to be on the frontlines, and got what would be good hit die for such a role. Of course that didn't make up for the brevity of uninteresting or depowered attacks when compared to fighters of the same level. I'm hoping that whenever Arcane Power 2 comes out, the swordmage will get beefed up a bit.
Since Dark Sun is supposed to be the new "in" thing, along with the whole psionics bit, doesn't look like it. The books were ok I guess, though the concept of "desert world" never really appealed to me. I did like having my 8th level fighter wield the Silencer of Bodak though back in 2nd edition lol. Guess we'll see.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 9:36 PM
Still waiting. Only a little while to go. I was waiting for the page to open up to add the post and read over a few interesting threads on the forum. The thread was discussing the problem where the players led off with an Alpha Strike against the baddies, and one player was pretty much left out of doing anything because everything was already dead. I'm not sure what the "Alpha Strike" thing is, so I assume its only a term meant when the players unload pretty much everything and the kitchen sink plus action point attacks at monster groups all at the same time. Most of the responses were about how much it sucks to be left out pretty much. From my own experience, this is a quirk that is just inherent in D&D as long as it has been played. The players who acquired the powerful magical items or weapons or selected the right artillery spells pretty much ruled the table, while the rest of the group could pretty much step back and twiddle their thumbs, or, because they hadn't acted yet, were subject to interference or removed from play by whatever monster or monsters were on the field. Even a game that has been pretty much redesigned everything that's supposed to be a much more enjoyable D&D experience, it still happens, except we've gone from the need to possess potent magical items/weapons to do it to its already built in to the characters, and it still happens. Pretty much negates whatever effort went into making everything all "equal opportunity" on the board huh? The only way to pretty much prevent that is for the group to come to a consensus to hold back whatever they wanted to do so the "weaker" character (or perhaps player) can act as well. I've been on both sides of the coin. I've played tanker characters of different kinds of classes that were pretty much capable of levelling the entire field alone or with a hand or two, and I've been the player who, by just a series of quirks or really sucky and consecutively initiative rolling, hasn't been able to do much for the team except look on. Yeah, it does suck. But the job gets done doesn't it? The problem with subbing in more powerful monsters or having a monster cavalry is that all that XP will start to add up, which may or may not throw off your game since your players are starting to get more powerful at a faster rate. Oh, you could always fudge a few rolls to let your monster live or some crap like that, but that's part of the extra work for the DM that was supposed to have been rid of, to allow for easier play. In some ways, the game is too easy now. Its harder for the players to get killed, the monsters seem to be engineered for lower hit points (well, some of them lol, Elite/Solo monsters mostly being excepted of course) and of course, the players have much more hit points than they used to, all done in the effort to let players have more staying power to last through fights and campaigns. So if that's the case, WHY NOT unload whatever you can? If you don't use those guns, someone else will, and you'll be left out, so of course players are going to go with what works? But, I agree, it does suck. When you have one player, or two, pretty much controlling the board or the game with all the damage their dealing, it does tend to leave the little guy out. Try playing with a guy whose PC is a golden nippled Krynnish minotaur with a big friggin waraxe. The flipside to that is, if the players who want to utilize their players have to keep getting held back so that little Johnny can do something too, then there will be a little resentment on that player's part too. I'm not saying that I have the solution, but I'm sure there is a way that the DM can play to both sides that work out favorably for all. That is part of the DM's job. But in real life, would anyone honestly get into a fight then stand aside to let the last guy take a few pots at your or your team just so one guy can have a go? Nope, you take them down as hard and as fast as you can so that no one has the opportunity to get hurt or killed. Yeah, I know. Its a team played fantasy game. Still, I've heard the same thing happens in WoW too. So, whatcha' gonna do? Can't please them all.
Thursday, May 13, 2010, 8:36 PM
Let me tell you about Jaysen. Jaysen has been around for going on 15 years now, starting waaay back in the latter days of 2nd edition. I'd developed a few characters around that time along with Jaysen- Cullen Branford, a paladin/dragonslayer (after I'd picked up the Council of Wyrms box set) and Elorah Silverdawn (sometimes half-elf, most of the time human, alternating between aspiring to be a Dweomerkeeper of Mystra or a wizard; I was never fully settled). Jaysen had kind of an odd place amongst the rest of my characters over the years, as he was subjected to the most dramatic changes, both in backstory and in class. The name had been with me forever. I'd pulled it out of one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia Arcane from a magic sword- Jaysen's Mage Blade I think, and for some reason or the other, the name just kinda stuck. I'd used Jaysen for pretty much every video game I played. Hell, my wife thought that since I used Jaysen so much that its what we named our son, albeit with an alternate spelling- Jayson.
Jaysen started off as a gish concept first. But back then, the gish wasn't truly given the form that I'd liked quite yet (stupid dual classing!). Around that same time though, Final Fantasy 7 came out, and I had also started watching a lot of anime-Dragonball Z being a big influence, but also the Fatal Fury series' Terry Bogard), and I ended up getting The Complete Ninja's Handbook. I'd also developed a part of Jaysen's backstory that has pretty much stuck with him since then too-being the only son of Mystra, Goddess of Magic in the Realms. So Jaysen became a Ninja, and his backstory involved being sent away by Mystra in order to protect his identity and existence from her enemies, Cyric and Shar (haha, quite funny when later on it turns out that these two are the ones that kill her). Somewhere along the line, the Tuigan Horde comes along and he gets carried off to far away Kozakura and ends up being a highly magical ninja. Another part of his story concerns Elorah and his half-elven, half-uncle Jethoril. These two would always be involved in Jaysen's backstory from that point on. I never played him as a ninja though. The only time that I actually got to play him as a 2nd edition character was as a Battlecaster, a definite gish class combining fighter and a one school wizard and he turned out to be pretty badass.
Eventually though, I kind of moved on a bit from D&D (high school girlfriends can take up a lot of time you know lol) and it wasn't until after I'd joined the army that I found out 3rd edition was coming. So after waiting patiently for almost a year I FINALLY got my hands on the 3E Players Handbook and giggled in girlish glee (yes, i said girlish glee). Jaysen went from being a former ninja, then Battlecaster to a fighter/sorcerer (sometimes I toyed with fighter/wizard but come on, sorcerer pushes out way more blasting power than wizards). I wasn't very in love with the fact that I had to make him "purdy" though, being that sorcerers main stat was CHA. Then along came Blood and Tomes, and he picked up spellblade. I kinda struggled with him, because i wanted him to be a fairly low powered guy (for story purposes), at least in class level, so he ended up as anFighter 2/Sorcerer 4/Spellblade 1 or 2 level PC. Jaysen continued to develope. In some ways I saw him as a Link kind of character-an agile fighter and competant fighter, using magic to beef himself up when needed, but definitely cockier than Link. Then there was the Cloud Strife concept-big sword, again doing some beefing up, and being a bit more of the broody sort. But I also had this concept of an Anakin Skywalker (Clone Wars had come out a little before that deployment). As the Chosen One, Anakin was gifted with a little more power than the average Jedi, and it struck me that since Jaysen was a Chosen as well (developed a little earlier, but not the full-on power of the rest of the Chosen of Mystra), it would be kind of an interesting tone in his backstory-gifted with incredible powers and having to fight against the excessibe pride or conceitedness that seems to come with having greater power especially at a young age.
I developed this pretty cool mechanic around that time too (at least I think so). He would have a little more power at his level than the normal 7th or 8th level character did as well, with some drawbacks of course. First, he could use Prestidigation and Mage Hand at will (which he still has today in his 4E incarnation), as well as Detect Magic in a 10 foot radius at will. He also received the bonus feats of Spellcasting Prodigy and Practiced Spellcaster, and could inherently speak the Celestial language. But that was just kids play. He received extra spell levels available per day that weren't tied in any way to his sorcerer/spellblade levels. I'd thought about giving him a condition such as "gains and casts spells as a sorcerer one level higher, since I was trying to keep his levels low. So I came up with this solution. He extra spell leves that he could use to power any spell that was of an appropriate level to use, equal to his CON modifier plus his character level, so this meant that at full power he could use 2 (CON 14) + 8 (PC level) of extra spell levels. He could use these levels to pretty much duplicate any spell or spell effect that he was of an appropriate level or ability to cast, arcane-wise. Alternately, he could use these powers in a kind of kind of spellfire fashion, and create silvery, fiery blasts, half fire, half force, of magical energy that would cause 1d6/per level of damage (sometimes this turned into a 1d4/level + 1/level action). These levels would recharge at a rate of one level per 8 hours, or extended rest. To offset these incredible abilities though, whenever he would move into a wild magic area, he would become dazed, and if long enough, subject to the effects of a Confusion spell. If in a dead magic area, he would have to make a saving throw every five rounds or receive a -2 penalty on every check and damage roll, as well as to his CON score, and if he stayed in the zone long enough, poof, dead as a doorknob. He also had all the benefits of a Chosen of Mystra appropriate for his level too.
I never got to play him under these conditions, but it would have been interesting. His backstory had developed too. After Mystra gave birth to him (which alternated with the idea of a sped up gestation period or going a full nine months and just staying out of the lime light for the time being), she visited her only living relative in a dream, her half-elven, half-brother Jethoril ??(typically Wyndsong after the tower, but I changed it every now and again). Mystra told her former brother everything, and, being a wizard and follower of Mystra, was charged with protecting her only son and raising him. Jethoril took Jaysen back to Highmoon in Deepingdale, that being his and Mystra's homeland, and raised him in the Dale of Trees. Jethoril could tell that, even an a young age, Jaysen was inherently gifted in the Art. When Jaysen was still a boy (the age varied sometimes, depending on some of the elements later included/excluded in his backstory), an event happened. I could never decide which to settle on in this part. One part involved Jaysen and a bunch of kids playing away from the walls of Highmoon and getting captured by plant things (the little bush monsters from the Sunless Citadel adventure, and later included some corrupted greenwarders from Monsters of Faerun), led by a figure in a dark cloak, a fey'ri. The children, including Jaysen and Elorah Silverdawn, daughter of the Cormyrean ambassador to Deepingdale, Lord Agravaine Silverdawn, were transported to an area outside the Darkwatch, the ruins of blighted Tsorynl (a place that in all the novels I've read that interestingly enough had never and has never been really explained or explored to my knowledge). Taken to a ruined temple and led deep underground and encaged, the fey'ri (never settle on a name, class or level) sacrificed the children one by one on a bloody alter in front of a huge statue of a chained, clearly angry elf or elf-like creature, with glowing red eyes with mist pouring out of them (one of the influences of Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture). When it came to be Jaysen's turn, the ritual was ruined by the entry of Deepingdale rescuers, led by Agravaine, Jethoril, and Rhauntides the Sage. In the flight from the Darkwatch, Jethoril was gravely injured when there group was beset by corrupted greenwarders. Jaysen first used silverfire at this point, and obliterated the monsters, then fell into a feverous coma for a period of time (usually 3 or 7 days). After waking up and getting better, Jethoril took Jaysen on a trip to Lake Eredui, and that night, they were visited by an old crone in tattered robes (Mystra's description at one point in The Prince of Lies), and was gifted with an Amulet of Godblinding to protect him, though he didn't know it, and a magical prism that produced pre-programmed images with messages from his mother, Ariel Manx. On his return, some short time later, their home was attacked by cultists in black (usually Cyricists, sometimes Sharrans) and if not for the timely intervention by Agravaine and his guard, all would have been lost. Jaysen and Jethoril left Deepingdale shortly thereafter, presumably forever.
Like I said, I'd never nailed down whether I wanted to include one or both of these events. I hand wrote pretty much everything. I typed up all of Jaysen's stats and backstory too, but I've always like writing by hand. I've spent countless hours and time just writing Jaysen, over and over and over (and as far as I can tell I'm not OCD lol). I was just never satisfied. Sometimes I would write his stats, which pretty much remained constant, and an as-summarized-as-I-could-get backstory, othertimes, the full backstory, which would take up several pages. I always did it in these special college ruled equivalent, graph paper notebooks that my in-laws would send me from German, as they allowed for neat and more compact writing. Hell, I even was anal enough to break out colored pencil lead for my mechanical pencils, with each color being assigned to a specific category. Yeah I know lol.
After some indeterminate amount of time that led to a brief settlement in Silverymoon, Jaysen talked Jethoril into adventuring. They eventually meet up with others who would form the rest of the core group that would be featured in my "book" (hey, I still had and have aspirations lol. I didn't say they were a reality). The very young (16 usually) human/tiefling/halfling, Kyoin Blue/Blackstone, the dwarven fighter/cleric/paladin Reghar Storm/Mountainhammer and former companion, and a short, fiery haired (and fiery tempered) wood elf (the name always changed), who also happened to be the former lover and adventuring companion that Jethoril left behind when he left in secret to raise Jaysen. The backstory always involved Reghar's refusing to go adventuring anymore due to "clan requirements" until Jaysen challenges him to a drinking match, whereby Jaysen cheats by secretly turning the brew into regular water using his "spellpower", or whatever you'd want to call it. In the meeting with the wood elf, Jethoril would always get pinned to a tree with very well placed arrow shots, then having her walk up to him and deck him across the jaw. Kyoin came in later as getting caught by a dragon after his own adventuring companions either backstab him by spreading the word that he stole its treasure or just diming him out when the dragon attacks the village that they were in. Jaysen and Co go to the rescue and manage to do just that, and in gratitude, Kyoin joins their group.
The party goes to Luskan (the reasons always changed) and get ambushed by the Hand's Eye thieves' guild, of which Kyoin is former member. The ambush is led by a thief and Kyoin's older sister (sometimes adoptive, sometimes literal, and whose name constantly changed) that Jaysen falls in love with named Felycea (I modeled her more or less in some ways on a young female thief from I think the Shadow Of A Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist). The companions get invited to meet the guildmaster and are contracted to retrieve some magical bauble (usually a crown with mind control powers) from a dragon (so sometimes I switched Kyoin's backstory around a bit). Felycea accompanies them, her and Jaysen get all nice and cozy, they retrieve the bauble, and return to Luskan to find a thieves' guild war going on. Felycea and Jaysen are seperated from the others, and she leads Jaysen to a secret sewer hideout where, while waiting things out, their love is blissfully and fully acted on (bom chicka wah wah) and Felycea slips out one night to try to find her brother. Unbenknowest to Jaysen, she gets captured by Rikard, the Hands' Eye chief assassin and told if she doesn't bring them the crown and Jaysen Kyoin will die (he has somehow found out about Jaysen's amulet and it properties against location). She meets back up with him, and after some more bom chicka wah wah to kinda serve as a distraction, their hideout is attacked by Rikard and Jaysen's taken captive. Felycea (or a runner) gets word to the others about what happened and why, and they spring into action and attack the main building serving as the guilds' seat of power. After freeing Jaysen, they head to the top of the building to rescue both Felycea and Kyoin. In a scene inspired by another Fatal Fury moment, Jaysen goes on ahead while his companions battle minions, and he has a final showdown with Rikard, who first uses Felycea to attack her former lover using the mind control device (got this from Metal Gear Solid in the fight with Solid Snake and Meryl). When things get head-to-head, Rikard whips out daggers coated with an extremely virulent poison. The details of the fight would vary, but it would always end with Felycea being somehow either backstabbed or scratched and her dying in Jaysen's arms, and the phrase "If you want the bitch you can have her" (Fatal Fury). Jaysen's so overcome with emotion and grief that the he taps into his wellspring of power and uses one of his silvery fire blasts at Rikard, whereby not only destroying the assassin but most of the room.
The group leaves Luskan, travels around the North for a bit with a very morose, self loathing Jaysen who believes that he can't protect anyone and who has developed a very deep anger at the gods. Since they don't even know he exists, they can't have ever heard any plea or prayer made to them by him. Not even Mystra, since she gave Jaysen the amulet. Jaysen eventually overcomes his despondancy and settles things with a very angry Kyoin (he was tied up in the corner during the fight and watched it all and who blames Jaysen for his sister's death). This is what leads up to his returning to Deepingdale, and the return is what the beginning of the first book was supposed to be.
Long huh? Now you see why it would take pages and pages for me to write out, and this was supposed to be a backstory! During my last deployment, the PHB 2 came out for 3.5 and I instantly fell in love with the duskblade. I loved that class. It had magic, it had warrior skills, he had a few tricks of his own to combine the two, and it was just what I wanted in a gishy class. Throw in the Realmsian backstory that Wizards provided a little later and BAM!, I thought it was great. So Jaysen became a duskblade disciple. I know it still had its limitations. It had only a so-so hit die, even though it was supposed to be a warrior class, and the Reflex saves weren't all that great, but I had the most fun playing a duskblade. When I was reclassing to commo back in '08, I met up with some guys who were starting up a game and I fell right into with Jaysen Midnight, the duskblade. I definitely held my own, even though our "leader" was playing some samurai/monk/iajitsu master/special divine, specially create UBER-prestige class named Ichigo Kurosawa or Kawasaki (yes I'm aware that its Bleach) that did 100+ damage with a single strike and was somehow beloved of the gods. Whatever. While the player was macking it out on one occasion behind the group with some chick who joined in, Jaysen had decided he wanted a shot at the title in some coliseum the DM threw in. He did awesome. I know that some say the spell list for a duskblade is limited, but I always made the best of it. In some ways its funny, because in a lot of books and supplements, characters were forced to use a limited spell selection to survive, especially without magical items, as a way to improve themselves as better spellcasters. The last battle had Jaysen going up against some undead thing. Now, this thing looked like a zombie, but was like uber powerful. It summoned crap left and right. If I could remember the name of this little bastard, I'd tell you. But everything it summoned was fiendish, I think. First Jaysen gave it a couple of good whackings but was forced to defend himself from some fiendish rhino thingy, then a fiendish tarantula thingy, then some kinda flying snake thingy. He broke free of the spiders web using a swift fly spell, landed on top of some column, beat down the flying snake, was knocked back down by the rhino, laid the smack down on the spider after being lucky enough to have the rhino give pursuit and get trapped in the web, then finally killed the stupid mega powerful zombie, who, oh by the way, turned out to be a CR 18 zombie thing to my 12th level duskblade. Yeah, thanks DM for not reading the monster listing right lol. Hey, Jaysen prevailed though, and it was a great fight.
Later on, I found out that 4E was coming and I kind of had "oh man, what now" mindset for a bit, since I had really come to see Jaysen as a kick ass duskblade character. I'd adopted him to the Link mindset (long sword, large shield, gleaming mithral chain shirt, which eventually gave way to the necessarily more protective mithral full plate). Even in the armor, I still had the Link concept in mind, especially after I had seen an absolutely incredible piece of art done on deviantart.com with Link in a more ceremonial looking breastplate armor. But, when I found out that 4E would have a Swordmage and that Rich Baker was doing a series of novels on a swordmage character, I was definitely more interested in trying 4E out.
By this time, I was living in WA state in Lacey, WA and Wizards of the Coast was pretty much right up the street in Renton. I've mentioned this before kind of jokingly that I've made a "pilgrimage" to WOTC HQ. I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the swordmage wasn't going to be in the PHB but I continued to bide my time as it had been announced for the FR Player's Guide. I've seen many people complain on the forums that since the swordmage came out in the FRPG that it meant that the class was a FR specific class but I disagree. I understood that not everything can be published at once, and when trying to get as much and as soon to the players as possible, they had to put it in there. The drow are definitely not FR specific, even though it is a race that is definitely featured in the FRPG, but it was something people wanted, just like the swordmage, so in it went. No biggie.
Now Jaysen is currently an 8th level swordmage, and I'm back to kind of a limbo concept with him. Link doesn't work quite as well. Link wore a chain shirt and carried a shield, and despite some of the overlookings of the artwork department, swordmages continue to not use shields lol. I think I've seen a piece of artwork that goes something like "Swordmages don't use shields. Shields. Swordmages don't use them. Someone please inform the art department" lol. Anyways....Once concept that does work though is the Cloud Strife concept. Big sword, does actually fight on the front line, does actually use spells in a fight (giving Sin Bahamut the what-for in Midgar comes to mind). It works. Hmmmm. Shielding or Assault. Shielding is definitely the better, defensively. I mean, you can sap an enemy's damage to another ally by throw up your Shielding Aegis which is great. Fighting with a one handed blade though definitely takes a bit out of your own damage dealing abilities. Assault, well the name is good. My only problem with that one is that you actually have to wait until your ally gets hit before you can do anything. That really doesn't bring to forefront of what I had in mind of "assault". Now say, if your swordmages teleports adjacently to the enemy in mid-strike and hits the bugger, thereby cancelling its attack against your ally, that would be assaulting your enemy to me. I dunno, maybe it was tried and thought too powerful. Ensnarement just doesn't "ensnare" me for Jaysen. And since I haven't been able to really field Jaysen as a 4E Swordmage yet, well, I'll have to bide my time.
He still has the amulet of godblinding, in a way. I've had to adjust it a bit, and replace it with an +3 amulet of absence instead, since I haven't figured out if the Character Builder can even do custom stuff like that yet. Oh well. I've adapted him to the 4E Realms as still being born in 1359 DR, still being raised in Deepingdale, still leaving Deepingdale either due to one, the other or both of the fey'ri/cultists reasons, still settling in Silverymoon, only now becoming a swordmage rather than a duskblade, and well, haven't worked the rest out. I've toyed with the idea that the Luskan incident still happens. One way to bring him forward into the new Realms is to have the companions get into a fight with a dracolich, and accidently getting sucked into a malfunctioning gate and landing in the future. One idea was to have the companions spread out at different points in time. Jaysen would either be found by Elorah, now a wizardess, while researching gates or something. I decided that the amulet has stopped working due to Mystra's death and upon his arrival either falls off or just gets changed over to the absence amulet, and now he has amnesia. Sometimes I put Jethoril as her mentor, and through some adventure I haven't fleshed out yet, revealing that he's Jaysen's uncle and the events that got them seperated. Oh and there's now Elorah has a dragonborn paladin or fighter "brother" named Skarn, adopted when her father found a lone egg in some aftermath of a raid. I've even thought that maybe Jaysen the amnesiac would still be found by Elorah and Skarn, and having Jethoril now being a whacked out insane wizard, bent on restoring Mystra through some ritual using Jaysen's magical blood. That could work. I've come onto a different sort of feeling for him now though, story wise I mean.
My favorite character in Dragonball Z, even more than Goku in a lot of ways, is Vegeta. In the beginning, Vegeta is a villain and is the opposite of what Goku represents- he's egotistical, he's malicious, very analytical, very concerned with personal honor, and he's power hungry. As the show goes on though, Vegeta becomes a more human character. He's forced to come to terms with the fact that he's not the most powerful, he has to struggle and work hard to get to the level he's at, he actually cares for others, and his greatest friend may be his only rival. He's a much more dynamic character than Goku.
One of my ideas was for Jaysen to arrive in the future, amnesiatic, but full of some deep anger he just can't place. He is found by a man or by a group. Not sure on that yet. One path has him being placed under control and used as a weapon, akin to Terra in FF6, or just willingly going over. The man is part of an evil group and Jaysen, now going by Auron works for the group. Maybe he comes up against Elorah and Skarn, with or without Jethoril. Through the course of events, Jaysen/Auron finds out that Jethoril is his half-uncle. The whole "son of Mystra" thing will come later. Gotta start small right. I've also thought about Jaysen just being in a state where he wants to forget about his past and goes over to the group willingly until Elorah and Skarn with or without Jethoril, and he finds out blah blah blah.
Ok I know it was long. Sorry. Had a lot of time on my hands, what can I say lol. If you read this, I'm sorry lol. Adios!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 11:56 AM
Let me restate that....Yaaaay! Almost there! Redeployment is coming soon and I can't wait. I'm kinda disappointed though. Before deployment, I had spread the word around that I would be trying to start up a D&D game while we were down here. Something fun, that would help ppl chill, relax, and have some fun during their downtime. Hell, even if it meant being the DM. Unfortunately, I only ever got one person to sit down with me and play through the first half of Keep on the Shadowfell, and we never even finished. Brought all my manuals, picked up some extra miniatures on leave (instead of having to use the blue box tokens that are too easy to lose) and its pretty much been for naught. Time and circumstance just didn't work in D&D's favor lol. Plus, most of the guys were too busy playing Call of Duty, Halo, Dragon Origins, or doing whatever other personal interestst that suited them. And we lost the only really good location I had picked out on the camp that would allow us to play without being bugged by everyone. Ah well, c'est la vie. I'm hoping my group can get together pretty soon after I get back and that maybe we can finally try out 4E as a group. They were still pretty averse to the idea.
Friday, January 29, 2010, 12:54 AM
So this is my first blog post. Ever. Ok I take that back. I had some stupid crap on my MySpace about two years ago. Whatever. I first fell in love with D&D back in my junior high school days, as so many of us did. I remember getting handed a satchel/duffel bag from my older cousin Doug when I was about 14. Maybe it was because those are the impressionable teen years, maybe it was just love of the game itself, but I've been hooked on it ever since.
Preface to this-I have been in love with legends, lore, myths, folktales, you name it, since before I can remember. I had read Howard Pyle's (at least that's the name that stands out) version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and from that point I was hooked into the genre. So now fast forward 5 or 6 years or so to getting handed what was virtually a Holy Grail of fantasy material. I'd never really heard much about Dungeons and Dragons up to that point, maybe a casual reference or two, but as I poured over all the books my cousin had given to me, mostly first edition AD&D stuff, with some of the original D&D softback books as well, I discovered this wonderful world that I wished I could be a part of. Elves, Dwarves, warriors, mages, magic, all these things just snared me.
I spent an entire summer pouring over those books like a wizard pouring over mystical tomes. I made characters, my own character sheets (which were pretty basic and actually would never have worked for actual gameplay purposes), perused monsters in the Monster Manuals and the Fiend Folio, read the 1st and 2nd Edition Player's Handbooks practically from cover to cover about three or four times each. Hell, I even felt guilty peeking into the Dungeon Master's guides just to see what cool things were in there, especially the loot! I had all these good things but no one to play with unfortunately. When I did get back to school as a Freshman, I talked to some of my friends, who told me they had actually already been playing at our local library in Cape Girardeau, so after school, that's where I was. It turned out to be not quite what I expected though.
See, while I had only just found out about D&D, the few of my friends that did play had done so the year prior, and now Magic: The Gathering was the big thing, so they all had decks of all kinds of stuff that confused the hell outta me. I tried to play, but I didn't like it at all. To this day, I still don't know why the Black Lotus is banned in this or that game or championship or etc. I did manage to get a couple of game sessions in, though, but they were ok. At the end of the summer previous, I'd gotten the huge white, soft back edition of the first three books of the Dragonlance saga, so my first two characters were Caramon and Raistlin Majere.
After that, it was a very long time before I got to play again. I read every single Dragonlance book that I could get my hands on, all the ones that used to be listed on the inside covers back in those days. Then I branched out and picked up The Crystal Shard on a lark and dove into the Forgotten Realms. I did finally find a real group to play with during my senior year in high school, when one of my best friends invited me to play with his group. My first character? A human battlecaster, a class i'd discovered in Dragon magazine a few months before. He was badass actually. I played him really well apparently, as the others in the group, much older guys who'd been playing for years (except for a couple of dorky high school guys from Jackson who argued incessantly). It was pretty funny actually. After having had and read over the Monster Manuals now for almost four years, I ended up being that guy that knew the vulnerabilities and strengths of most of the monsters of the book and each of their descriptions and didn't realize there was supposed to be distinction between player knowledge and character knowledge. Oh well. My battlecaster was still badass. I got this rinky dink longsword+1 after saving our golden nippled minotaur leader (don't ask lol) and was pretty disappointed.....that is until I accidently burned down and entire field of cows with the fiery breath of a Great Wyrm Red Dragon. Long story. Precursor to today's dragons not necessarily being evil just because they're chromatic or good because they're metallic.
After that, life just kinda took hold. I had a steady girlfriend in the last half of high school, and not to say she drew me away from playing, but I did drift, and then I joined the Army and that was about it for a long while. I bought manuals when they came out, I made characters (or more accurately, I continued to develope and evolve a particular character in some attempts at writing, which I still have my idea for to this day), but not much playing. I'd had a few offers actually when I lived in Fort Leonard Wood, MO (or Fort Lost In The Woods to those who've been there), but as I was newly married at the time and didn't want to do a whole lot of stuff without the wife back then, I had kinda put it off. Ok, boring stuff, I know. Wah wah lol.
I picked up playing again a couple of years ago, while going to school to reclass into a different job in Fort Gordon, GA. It was ok. I had lots of fun, don't get me wrong, but when the DM and one of the players are kinda the only ones that seem to matter (along with the NPC's or PC's respectively), it threw some game balance off. It wasn't until we got a chick to come play and they started getting rather frisky during game time that I was really able to do a lot of ass kicking. By then, my battlecaster had evolved into the duskblade, a great class but unfortunately, waaaay too late in 3.5 to make a difference.
When I came to Fort Lewis, WA, I was pretty stoked actually. I figured being in WA, and therefore much closer to the WOTC hq was a surefire way to find lots of gaming groups, and while I did find a couple, I was a bit disappointed. Your schedule in the Army can be a total downer when it comes to gameplaying sometimes. There are lots of soldiers who play, don't get me wrong, but I think everyone hates to jump into a middle of the campaign then have some or all of your players have to be absent because of duties or training excercises, and a lot of civilian groups weren't willing to pause they're game like that. But I did find a group to play with, and it was good buuuut......
See, by this time, 4th edition had rolled around, and while I could kinda get the basics of all the change, there was a lot of "new" to take in. My group had actually said that they weren't switching over to 4th. I agree with them on some of the reasons, though I think some of it has to do with the fact that, having spent all this money on books and materials, to have to spend even more money all over again just to relearn a game they thought was already good to begin with was a bit much. I understand. I still had bought my core books set, don't get me wrong, but I'd had to sell most of my 3rd and 3.5 stuff just to clear out space for the new stuff. So we play 3.5, and I have a great time. I have an incredibly slow assed dwarf cleric who apparently can't hit the broad side of a barn despite having a good STR score, and who has only pretty much been successful at blowing up skeletons with his turning ability lol.
But, just in case, I have my 1st level human swordmage on standby should we ever decide to jump into 4th edition. Unfortunately, we're all deployed, so it doesn't matter. C'est la vie in the Army.
You know, I really forget the reason why I started this thing. Maybe an introduction I suppose. Whatever. I've played a couple of times out here with one of my joes who is a much older guy who "played back in high school". Met lots of those guys, but most haven't taken me up on my offer to play. I'm also forced to be the DM. Its not that I don't think I can do it, I just like playing more than running the story. But hey, somebody's got to do it right?
Oh and I really have been to the Wizards of the Coast offices in Redmond. And yes, it was a bit like a "pilgrimage" for me? Geeky? Yeah i know, but that's fine by me. I stepped off of the elevator onto the 2nd? floor and found myself looking at that image of the mage and the floating eye a la Complete Arcane, and then wandered from there. It was great. I just liked being there. I even looked through the German and French versions of the books. I signed my name as I think "SGT Baldwin says Hi" on the visitor register haha. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet anyone, but oh well. I still was there lol. Ok, well I've got to run. It was a nice, hopefully not too boring trip down memory lane. Maybe next time I'll have something more exciting to say lol