Sunday, June 10, 2012, 8:18 AM
I will be the first to publicly thank WotC for changing the terms and conditions of the Playtest, allowing us to do it over play by post. It was a good decision on their part, and opens up the test of the new system for a whole host of people.
The thing about living in Iowa is this: The food's cheap, the beef is good, and the rent is manageable. The downside? Unless you live in Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Davenport or Iowa City (Not surprisingly, all are along the I-80 Interstate corridor), there isn't a whole lot of opportunity to get together and play real life D and D. That's why I got into play by post 5 years back. I figured, if I couldn't find any games around, I'd hit up the interwebs. One of the best decisions I've made when it comes to my hobbies, really.
So when we finally got the go-ahead to playtest online, myself and a cadre of pals got busy. I'm playing the elf wizard (And I'll keep things general, because we don't want to go violating any wiggling clauses in the agreement now, do we?), and I made her a girl named Ariadon. Ariadon was actually the first 4th edition character I played as well: So, one elf wizard became yet another elf wizard.
In our group, we fleshed out some rather colorful backgrounds. The one thing we have in common is that we all seem to be running from something. The fighter is running from his past, I'm running from an arranged marriage, and one of our clerics is running from someone who wiped out his entire family.
I jokingly suggested that if we ever kept this thing going once the real game was released and didn't break the party up, we could change the name of the game to "The Runners."
They seemed to enjoy it.
Sunday, May 27, 2012, 7:39 PM
A long time ago, there was a really terrific cartoon called the SWAT Kats. Basically, two anthropomorphized tomcats ran a junkyard and in their burgeoning spare time, also flew a modified F-14ish jet called the Turbokat out of a secret hangar underneath all the piles of scrap at their place. They'd fly around and save the city and thumb their noses at the authorities with their vigilante awesomeness, and the weapons officer/tech guru would flaunt his stuff with the "Missile of the week", which always had such hilarious names.
The one thing I adored above all else in that show was that they'd say one phrase in particular: "I've got an idea so crazy it has to work!" And it always did.
When I started playing D&D, I took that philosophy to heart. It made me a more versatile player: I started examining my character's spells and abilities and questioning the bounds of them. It wasn't what a spell was designed to do, it was what a spell could do that was important to me. By the time I became a DM in my own right, it had reached codification. Now, it's my signature at message boards I frequent for roleplaying.
One recent example: My players were doing a flashback sequence about how our team of unstoppable A-Team like heroes were tasked with disabling an enemy fleet parked in harbor while the main army dealt with the invasion infantry. Now, sure. They could have done the logical thing, and commandeered some shoreside artillery to take them out, but that wouldn't be fun. Instead, my players came up with the notion of hijacking a ship, breaking it into pieces, and then climbing aboard the forward catapult and aiming themselves at the next ship in line before they went down with the first ship.
A few successful checks later, they scuttled ship one and landed safely on ship two. Insane? Certainly. But well within the bounds of the Law of Awesome, which I've been informed since also functions as the "Rule of Cool." I like mine better, though. They wiped out the entire enemy fleet in this fashion, taking only minimal damage from rough landings; they became quite adept at aiming their trajectories for soft things. Like enemy sailors.
So let's hear from all of you. Have you had any Law of Awesome moments in your own games?
Friday, May 25, 2012, 7:39 PM
It took some doing what with all the server troubles, but I did finally manage to download the playtest packet. Learning that they were developing a new edition of D&D kinda made me happy. After all, sure, I got into 4e pretty seriously for a bit; had a D&D Insider account for a time, blogged here fairly regularly, and was obsessed about the bard.
I think what eventually turned me off was no longer having the Character Builder as a program I could refer to even when I was offline...and of course, the D&D Essentials, which went against everything I'd ever learned from playing D&D back when 3rd edition was still the status quo.
But huzzah! A playtest? I was on that right quick. I'm always up for trying new things, and the whispered hints appealed to me. They were attempting to take the best parts of every prior version of D&D and make something easy, yet enjoyable...yet not quite so railroaded and bluh as the D&D Essentials had been. Naturally, the first character sheet I checked out after unzipping the files was the wizard.
Worriedly, I scanned the top entry. d4 hit dice...yup, that's normal. Bad AC? Yup, good. And then it laid out quite clearly what bonuses I got for being an elf and being super studious. Decent knowledge skills. Oh, they're called Lore so far.
And then my spells. To my amazement, they pulled some inspiration from 4th edition: Cantrips were at-wills. They were inexhaustible, and lo and behold, some of my favorite attack spells were now cantrips. MAGIC MISSILE! And the Magic Missile I remember! Autohit, minor damage, improves over time? Sweetness! And to make matters even more terrific, I had a potent selection of 1st level spells to pick from at the get-go. More classics!
I stared into the bounty before me, and unconsciously began to apply what I knew. Rolling for spells to hit? 4th Edition. At-Wills and freebie cantrips? 4th Edition. Back to Hit Dice, and with the ability to pick and choose? 3rd edition. Spells that carried quite a bit of weight, and the element of uncertain victory? 2nd edition. DM freedom to run the game however they wanted to? 2nd edition.
From what I've seen so far, 5th Edition (I refuse to call it D&D Next, preferring my numerical favoritism) looks like it's going to be quite fun.
Now I just have to get into a group and try this bad boy out.
Monday, November 15, 2010, 8:23 PM
Once upon a time, very long ago, Wizards of The Coast announced that they would be building a vast panoply of special features for those who played D&D. The two that they put out first, The Character Builder and the Monster Builder were both quite enjoyable, and well put together. (Well, maybe not the last Character Builder update so much...)
Now, the Character Builder is going to the Cloud, and we'll see how it does. Meanwhile, what happened to the rest of the Adventure Tools?
What happened to the online gaming board that would allow players to link up and play with each other in a scalable three-dimensional setting of dungeons and settings, maneuvering their characters and pitting themselves against the forces of evil? They made such a big deal about it at first, putting together a demo for their booths and kiosks, waxing poetic about it, and trying to tap into the "Online" angle of roleplaying games, if only by a small degree.
Well, it's been 2 years since 4th edition launched...And still, all we have is the Character Builder (Which will go fully Cloud-online tomorrow) and the Monster Builder.
As a paying D&D Insider, I'm left wondering...
Where the Hell did the rest of their marvelous bag of tricks go? One of the things that concerns me most is that they don't even mention it anymore. As if, "Maybe if we don't bring it up, people might forget we ever had that idea at all."
Sorry, WotC, but if I didn't forgive my College for reneging on its "Laptop Replacement program", I'm probably not going to merrily wipe my mind of certain programs and features you found it convenient to mothball. And are they mothballed? Are they still works in progress? We don't know. Because they don't talk about it.
WotC remains vigilantly active when it comes to content: Dark Sun, The Essentials, ongoing "Power" supplements...
But when it comes to computer program additions, they fall woefully short of their promises. And considering that a lot of people pop $100 a year for access to the D&D Insider features (Myself included), one would think that they'd allocate SOME of that funding into following through on their original goals.
Make a plan. Announce a plan. Follow through on the plan. We don't pay engineers full price for a half-finished job, why should we pay WotC, if their intent is to cut and run?
So, the Santa Claus that lives in Seattle, do you know what I would like for Christmas this year?
I would like Wizards Of The Coast to follow through and finish the programs they promised, so I can finally get my full money's worth.
Otherwise, I'll gladly fade into my Play By Posting message boards and free utilities such as MapTool and never bother you again.
But I think they'd prefer to retain customers than have to constantly seek out fresh blood all the time.
Friday, October 8, 2010, 10:25 PM
As gamers, we look for memorable moments...stories we can tell weeks, months, even years later. Fantastic exploits. A series of events and battles that we prop up as an example of what we want.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true. One thing I loved about the independent production "Dorkness Rising" was that it brought this to the forefront. The party was anything but incredibly combat efficient. They quarrelled, they stumbled. But they had fun doing it...
Plus, I'm partial to Bards, and the line "Hide behind the pile of dead bards!" made me laugh for two minutes.
Now, back to the point.
In the eight years I've been doing D&D, I have accrued a library of memorable moments. Memorable moments happen.
Games you remember, campaigns you always want to go back to however? Those are a bit more rare. I've been fortunate enough not just to play in one...
But to have created one as well. Minus the specifics:
About 3 years ago, I hobnobbed with an enterprising soul from a D&D game that turned sour on account of DM abuse. He and I were both smart enough to get clear of impending doom, but in each other, we'd found a common trait we liked.
Now, I'm from Iowa, and he's from Arizona. And we did our gaming via the internet...which, believe it or not, works all right.
The two of us thought for a bit. I'd been coming up with an idea for a new game, a bit of a Robin Hood-esque thing, and he was intrigued. I asked if I could bring an old College chum of mine on board.
Then he asked if he could do the same. Long story short?
MY gaming group met HIS gaming group. Iowa and Arizona, blended into a romp of infinitely awesome proportions. Everything just seemed to click into place. Our characters had all sorts of foibles. I played the heroic team leader, who, when he wasn't moping about, was going berserk and saving his men. My gaming buddy played my second in command, my right hand man who was the cool shadow to my poster boy. My primary Arizona pal played the head of the "Enlisted" crew, who did poetry with his attacks. His pal played our berserker who drank tea. All the time.
We had two awesome seasons of playing in that setting, and time eventually took us apart. But we remembered.
Now, a year after we last picked up the pieces, I've breathed life back into it, and turned our game into a play by post.
The adventures continue, and everyone's excited. Especially me. I get to DM in a setting I love, with people I enjoy playing with.
And there will be much awesomeness.
We remember "That one Game." You'll always want to go back to it.
And if you're lucky, and you take the initiative...
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