Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 10:04 AM
Serious question is serious! I've asking myself, if Wizards announced 5e tomorrow, what gamers would be excited?
Fourth edition gamers? As a 4e fan myself, I would not be. I like 4e a lot and we're less than four years into this edition. There's so much left for my gaming table to explore. We haven't even seen Paragon tier, for Bahamut's sake! I'm sure most 4e gamers have tweaks they'd like to make to the game, but by and large we seem pretty satisfied with what's currently on offer.
Three-point-ecks gamers? Not hardly. Not only do they have eight years of published material to mine, the success of Pathfinder means that in all but name their edition is still releasing material.
0D&D -> 2E grognards? Doubt it. Most of these have been playing their game for decades now and they seem pretty happy with it. Should they tire of playing in Gygax's sandbox there are numerous retro clones available.
New gamers? HAH! WotC wishes.
I'm just thinking out loud here, but the potential audience for a fifth edition seems pretty limited right now. We're talking about the small subset of gamers whose needs aren't met by 4e/Pathfinder/0D&D plus those gamers that will pretty much try anything once.
Of course there are always disgruntled gamers hoping that the NEXT edition will be the one that gets back to [insert favorite edition here] but let's get real - the likelihood that a fifth edition of the game would be anything but a radical redesign the way the 3rd and 4th editions were is practically nil. If they want to tweak what we've already got, they can put out a splat book or a 4.5.
Unless Wizards has some incredible concept that will REVOLUTIONIZE D&D their best bet is to wait until 4e and Pathfinder gamers tire of their respective editions. And that seems like it won't be happening soon.
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Friday, August 12, 2011, 7:51 AM
I never felt like the AEDU classes were too complicated so simplified versions of everything weren't something that was missing from my life. Meanwhile, they are mixing up the role system, one of the strengths of 4e and blurring the lines between builds and classes. It's like they keep hitting the 'undo' button on Fourth Edition class design.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 8:40 AM
WotC is a CCG company. They made their fortune on MtG and Pokemon. So it only makes sense that sooner or later they'd introduce cards into D&D, right? And so, we get the newly announced Fortune Cards. That's the narrative in the community right now. But what if it's wrong?
Over on ENWorld, Dykstrav made a really interesting point:
From what I've heard, people in the game store business hate running D&D events because they're always packed--but the vast majority of the people there buy nothing. They purchase their books on amazon.com or just use a Dungeons & Dragons Insider account and maybe buy a soda or candy bar while at the event. It eats up a ton of table space and results in very little return for them.
In other words, it's not WotC that's been pushing for the introduction of cards into D&D - but your FLGS!
It makes a lot of sense. If a hobby store hosts a CCG event, the people who show up are buying cards left and right. When was the last time you bought a book on impulse during a D&D event? D&D books cost $40. They just aren't impulse buys. Maybe you buy a coke and some minis. Then you pick up pizza across the street and tie up a seat until closing time. That's not exactly a great return for your FLGS's investment.
I think this logic explains the relatively high price point that has been announced for Fortune Cards. The FLGS wants players to spend x dollars when they show up for an event. But realistically, you just don't need that many cards for a game of D&D, even if you're using one every round of combat. If they put too many in a pack you won't need to buy a new pack each session.
I'm not saying that all this justifies Fortune Cards as a good idea. I still think that on balance they are not. In fact I think they could accomplish the opposite of their intended purpose by driving people away from D&D events. But I think it's interesting that it may not necessarily be WotC's greedy corporate self-interest that's driving this.
Instead it may be an attempt to prop up the always rickety hobby stores. That makes it a nobler, if still misguided, idea.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 7:31 AM
Hey, D&D players, veteran DMs, hobbyists, true believers, I have a message for you: It's Not Your Fault.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010, 11:37 AM
I was pretty skeptical about the new races in the PHB3. I have no problem with WotC releasing new races, but my attitude was "Meh, not for my game." Now that I'm actually reading through them, I may have to change my mind.
I think the designers did a great job of giving each new race really strong role-playing hooks that make them intriguing. Let's go one by one:
Initial Reaction: Great, another excuse for players to play as monsters.
After Actually Reading: OK, I actually really like this. Fighting against your beastial nature is a really strong roleplaying hook. The idea that minotaurs revere labyrinths as symbols makes for a really cool, unique flavor. And a minotaur society under constant threat from falling under the sway of The Horned King opens up endless story possibilities. I really like that these guys aren't just another noble warrior class, an area where I feel that the Goliath for instance was kind of lacking.
Overall, this race made me do a complete 180 on whether I'd play a minotaur or even allow them in my game, which is pretty impressive.
Initial Reaction: Living psychic crystals are too weird for my game. And I can't wait to see players disrupt the game as they goofily attempt to roleplay a completely inhuman lifeform.
After Actually Reading: One of my major reservations about these guys is how you would actually play one. I could see all kinds of nonsense being justified by the fact that My guy is a living crystal, dude. But the designers thought about this and gave us some nice roleplaying hooks. I like the idea of wide-eyed, childlike beings with very little control over their emotions. The idea that there is a school of shardminds which wants to destroy all shardminds helps flesh them out as alien, but not completely unplayable. Physically the idea that they are holding their humanoid form together through conscious force is pretty cool.
I'm still not sure why they need to wear clothes.
I still feel that shardminds aren't for every game, and they're going to be challenging for low-level campaigns in the material realm just because every single villager you come across is going to be freaked out by the crystal golem guy. However I would definitely be interested in working them into a campaign at some point.
Initial Reaction: Plant people? Really?!?
After Actually Reading: These guys are still a bit vaguely defined for my taste. There's not a STRONG roleplaying hook here. However, the idea that their personalities can shift with their aspect could be great for a player who is weak on roleplaying. Or it could lead to trouble. I actually find the idea that they are a new race really intriguing. Every other race you meet is ancient and mysterious and blah blah blah, and here you have some guys who are still figuring things out. That is pretty cool and could lead both a DM and a player in all kinds of interesting directions. It doesn't quite square with their description of "keepers of ancient secrets" though. If they're young, how can they know ancient secrets? The idea that they change seasons as they age is just awesome.
Overall, I would have liked to see more roleplaying hooks for these guys. But if you've got a player with some strong ideas or your campaign has a strong link to the Feywild, there's no reason not to include them. I'm not that into the primal nature-oriented stories, but I'd still like to learn more about this newly awakened race and what sort of society they are going to form.
Okay, I'm not going to give these guys a full write-up. I already like the Gith and assuming a game with some extra-planar adventuring they've got a place. They are pretty much what you'd expect. Maybe some new ideas would have been nice, but what is presented in the PHB3 is solid and works well.
Since we've covered all the 'standard' races and then some, it would have been easy for these four new races to devolve into a menagerie or a freak show. I think the designers have done a great job of avoiding that. They've managed to find a unique niche for each race that can fit nicely into many game worlds, and they've come up with RP-rich hooks for players to latch onto.
I can't imagine what races will be left for the Player's Handbook 4, other than the dreaded flying race. For now, though, color me impressed.
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Monday, December 7, 2009, 4:54 PM
So, Sunday's session:
I've built a puzzle encounter around the classic 'pick the door' logic problem. You know, there's four doors (or boxes, or road signs) and two say 'don't pick this', one says 'pick me', and the last says 'the one that says pick me is lying'.
In my version, there's four sepulchers. Three hold powerful mummies, and the last holds a key that will open the padlock on the gate leading out of the area.
In a situation like this, you typically are building some content that you don't expect to use. What I mean is, if the players solve the puzzle, then they don't face the mummy that I've spec'd out. However, if the players don't solve the puzzle and just decide to open a bunch of doors and face the consequences, they've really missed out on the puzzle itself.
What did my players do?
The first thing they did was to roll a natural 20 on picking the padlock. My mouth dropped open. I wanted to say "It's a magic padlock!" but I just couldn't do that to our rogue. Fair's fair, I thought. He nailed the skill check. "Okay," I said, "the lock falls open. You can proceed!"
"Hey guys," said one of my players, "I think we should still solve the puzzle. I want to know what's in the sepulcher!"
I did a quick mental calculation to add some gold to the solution so that my players wouldn't feel shafted when they solved the puzzle and got a now-useless key.
Sure enough, after some debate the players selected the right crypt, and opened it. "You peer in and see a key... and a box!" The players got some gold and were happy. "Okay," I said, "You can proceed into the next area!"
"Hey guys," said another player, "I want to know what happens if we open one of the wrong sepulchers."
What happened was, they got attacked by a mummy. Which they backed through a door and sealed off, to deal with when they returned. Then, at last, they proceeded into the next area.
However, in one fell swoop they had: Bypassed my puzzle entirely, solved my puzzle correctly, and fought the monster anyway.
I love my players!
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Monday, December 7, 2009, 4:43 PM
I played in a new game this weekend. The DM was about as new to the game as I am.
We encountered a group of goblinoids near a mining camp and gave battle. Afterwards, we inspected the camp itself, which contained a tent. Someone rolled a high perception check on the tent. "There's uh, a map of the camp inside. Which you can already see," says the DM. Someone else rolls to take a closer look at the tent's contents. "Look," says the DM, "it's just a tent!" After that it was pretty much all over.
"I roll arcana to check the tent for magic!"
"I roll a histoy check to see if I know anything about the tent!"
"I attempt to use diplomacy to negotiate with the tent!"
"I climb the tent with athletics!"
And so on for a couple of minutes, as all the players displayed a rare moment of cooperative play to yank the DM's chain.
"Dude," I said to him, "you gotta just make something up. Say we find bloodstains on the tent or something."
Face it, when your player rolls a natural twenty on a perception check on that piece of scenery you hadn't put any thought into, you can't let them just go away empty handed. You have to improvise. Reward their curiosity, their initiative and their attention to detail - even if it was to the wrong detail.
I had a similar situation in the game I ran yesterday.
The players enter an area where they've been before, but recent events have transpired to turn the previously peaceful locals into hostiles. They were secretly lycanthropes, and the moon had come out!
So, the PCs roll for init and spend a few rounds sending them packing. Then they want to do what they normally do - loot the bodies and explore the area.
Well, here's the problem - they already know what was on the bodies and the area has been explored. And then someone rolls, yes, a natural twenty on their perception check.
"Okay, well, the courtyard appears much as you left it... you don't notice anything new. But, uh..."
"Uh, you detect a faint glimmering in the pool in the center. Your arcane knowledge tells you that it may have magical healing properties! +2 healing to anyone who wades in the pool!"
The PCs all rush into the pool and award themselves a couple of hitpoints. I sigh in relief. Since we're out of combat this has no effect on the encounter. And a +2 heal is hardly game-breaking anyway. But the players still feel like they got something. Bully for me!
Of course, this could still come back to haunt me. I'll have to be on guard for the moment, two sessions from now, when somebody has dropped dead and someone suddenly remembers the magical healing pool and wants to drag the body over there and see if it revives them.
Or maybe they'll want to bottle and sell the water.
This is, after all, the group that tried to burn their way through a maze of bushes and attempted to stop up a genii's magical fountain.
The point is, you should always be prepared to improvise. Your players' creativity is your friend, not your enemy. Some of the best moments in our games have come from people trying really out-of-the-box things.
As a DM, I want to get better by learning to springboard off those moments when the player tries something unheard of, rather then attempting to head them off or stuff them back in a box.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009, 7:33 PM
The best encounters, in my book, are the ones where the party is pushed right to the edge of failure and then snatches victory from overwhelming odds. Which is why I wanted to try to kill my party.
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Saturday, September 26, 2009, 6:42 PM
One of my players and I were surfing cable the other night and talking about D&D when we stumbled across Hellboy II, which we'd seen before. It wasn't long before we were noting similarities between the onscreen action and D&D, specifically 4e.
We'd both seen Hellboy II before, but if you haven't you'd better stop reading.
I think Hellboy II would make a spiffy 4e campaign basically because of all the flashy set-piece fights in unusual places: the troll market, the library, the churning gears of the Golden Army's vault.
Then there are the monsters. It would be a lot of fun to recreate Hellboy II's monsters in 4e. There seemed to be a similarity in that you've got kind of a basic attack and then some sort of surprise power. For instance, the huge troll can shoot out his fist on a chain. The forest lord is an insta-kill if you 'crit' him in the head. And then of course there's The Golden Army itself, which would be great as one of those big combats that turns out to really be a skill challenge. The point at which the heroes realize that the automatons repair themselves and that they are screwed is awesome.
Then there's the psychicly linked elven prince and princess. What a great hook for a BBEG that would be! The person you're trying to save is the good twin of the person you have to destroy.
And of course, you have your party of bad**** with diverse powers: Hellboy himself works pretty much straight-up as a tiefling fighter (albeit one who has taken INT as his drop stat). Liz is, what? A dragon sorcerer? An infernalock? Someone with lots of FIREpower, anyway, and I'd say a high CHA by the way she ensnares men. Johann Krauss is clearly a revenant, maybe as a leader class of some sort. I think Abe might be some sort of homebrew. As a DM I might advise him to rethink that one, as his stats seem a little lacking. Maybe try a psion instead?
The real inspiration, though, was The Angel of Death, the bizarre character with eyes on its wings that Liz has to bargain with for Hellboy's life. My player turned to me and said, "Our game needs something like that. Creepy but cool." I grinned and said, "Don't worry..."
If there's anything I would really want to take away from Hellboy II, though, it's flavor. Harnessing just a little bit of the bizarro creativity that inhabits every moment of this movie would definitely take our game to the next level
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 2:21 PM
For Sunday's session I ditched the stack of papers and index cards and fired up the DM Battle Screen on my laptop to run encounters. It worked like a charm. Mad props to PhantomPalmer for working on this to improve the lives of DMs everywhere.
It's a snap to import your players into the tool from the Character Builder. You then construct monsters into the Monster Repository and prepare a battle. All very easy, although it will be better if/when monsters can be imported as well.
Running encounters is where this tool really shines. Kiss tedious iniative tracking and frantic searching for where-did-I-put-that-stat-block goodbye. The init order is beautifully laid out flow-chart style. Players can easily be delayed or set to have readied actions. Hit points are easy to add and subtract for everybody.
There are also some really cool features, like a reminder to recharge powers when monsters with rechargable powers come up! I never remember to roll those damn things, so this is awesome.
Monsters can be added to the battle on the fly, if need be. There is also a monster 'pool' that you can place reinforcements in, to be introduced as needed.
Battles auto-save, so a crash won't ruin your game.
Huge, huge props to PhantomPalmer. I ran two encounters on the DM Battle Screen Sunday and it really is great. I am a DM who is forever losing the relevant piece of paper, so this really upped my game. Giving all monsters their own initiative is also a nice option, as it adds a bit more interest to combat.
It's awesome that a gamer is building this great tool in his free time, and a little sad that it takes the pros at WotC two years to get useful tools like this off the ground. And: this tool requires no DDI subscription.
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