Friday, June 29, 2012

D'alton: Ultimate

D'alton Braun is a Fell Human standing approximately six feet tall, with black hair. His eyes are a brilliant, almost glowing, ice blue color. He is lean, but muscular and weighs less than two hundred pounds and his skin is the ghostly pale of a corpse left in the cold. Typically he dresses in dark colors, greys and blacks, most commonly wearing a leather duster, gunbelts, bandoleers of ammunition across his chest, and a jaunty cap.

D’alton Braun was born in 9963 DK in the Fell Peaks, the bastard son of Way’de Braun, and El’lyn, the wife of Way’de’s brother, Pat’ryk. The Braun family dealt in arms, selling to the highest bidder, on both sides of the war. Way’de and El’lyn were killed in a deal gone badly shortly after D’alton’s birth. D’alton’s uncle reluctantly took him in and raised the boy in the city of Hell.

Young D’alton, not having much in the way of parental love or concern, turned to running with a youth gang, the Vanbur’yen Boys. Being a small child, he was known to the members of the gang as Mole, as he could get into tight spaces and vents, making break-ins all the easier. He learned everything he needed to know about thievery, blackmail, and second story work by the time he was fifteen years old.

When D’alton was twenty-four, he fell for a girl named Ko’serra, sister of his gang’s leader. At the same time, his uncle pulled him out of the gang, as he was set to retire. It was now time for D’alton, as the last Braun male, to take his place in running the family business. His uncle told him the story of his parents’ deaths, and forbade him from seeing Ko’serra. D’alton said he didn’t feel it was right for an interest to suddenly be taken in him, after years of neglect; he told his uncle he wanted no part in the business. Pat’ryk threw D’alton out of the house, and cut him off financially.

D’alton, now destitute, plotted to rob the largest bank in the district, and get out of Hell to start fresh. He was caught mid-robbery, and taken to the Beltan Prison Camp.

Eight years later, D’alton was part of a large prison break, and began adventuring with a few of them. Calling themselves The Robust Five (More or Less), they avoided the law, and occasionally aided it along the way. D’alton became fast friends with Spineplate, and finally found something akin to what he’d always wanted: family.

D'alton Braun Level 20
Male Shadowborn Fell Human
Rogue 4/Gunslinger (Pistolero) 1/Shadowdancer 10/Sorcerer (Shadow Bloodline) 5
Init: +10; Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Low-Light Vision; Perception +20
Languages: Thoeleknair, Citytongue, Guttertongue
AC 20, touch 17, flat-footed 13; (+3 armor, +6 Dex, +0 natural, +1 Dodge)
CMD 29
HP 120 (20 HD)
Fort +11, Ref +20, Will +18
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +15 1d6+2 19-20/x2
Ranged +15 1d8 20/x4
Ranged +13/+13/+8/+3 1d8+6/1d8+6/1d8+6/1d8+6 20/x4
Base Attack +12, CMB +13
Abilities Str 12, Dex 23, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 13
SQ Cantrips, Deeds, Defensive Roll, Deft Shootist, Evasion, Gun Training (Pistols), Gunslinger's Dodge, Hide In Plain Sight, Improved Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Gloam Shimmer, Grit (2), Nighteye, Rogue Talent (Combat Trickx3), Rogue Talent (), Rogue Talent (Sniper's Eye), Shadow Call, Shadow Illusion, Shadow Jump 320 ft., Shadow Magic, Shadow Master, Shadowstrike, Shadowy Resistance (Cold 5, Electricity 5), Slippery Mind, Sneak Attack +2d6, Sorcerer Bloodline (Shadow), Sorcerer Bloodline Arcana (Shadow), Subtle Manipulator, Summon Shadow (59 hp), Trap Sense, Trapfinding, Uncanny Dodge.
Favored Class: Rogue (+2 on Stealth and Sleight of Hand checks in dim light).
Traits: Sorcerous Bloodline
Feats Arcane Strike, Blind-Fight. Combat Reflexes, Dark Sight, Dodge, Hammer The Gap, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility, Point-Blank Shot, Quick Draw (Revolver), Rapid Reload (Firearms), Two-Weapon Fighting, Warped Flesh (Sticky Fingers) Weapon Focus (Revolver).
Skills Acrobatics +26, Bluff +18, Climb +14, Craft (Alchemy) +9, Craft (Gunsmithing) +14, Disable Device +31, Disguise +20 Escape Artist +23, Perception +20, Perform (Dance) +9, Sense Motive +15, Sleight of Hand +29, Stealth +34.
Spells 0-Level: Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost
           1st Level (7/day): Chill Touch, Jump, Longshot, Vanish
           2nd Level (4/day): Bullet Shield, Darkness
Possessions Disguise Kit, Dragon Spit Bullets, Flare Bullets, Gunblade Revolvers (Masterwork, Sights), Gunsmithing Kit, Leather Duster (Custom Fit, Masterwork, Oil Slick) Masterwork Thieves Tools, Springsteel Bullets, Wolf-Iron Bullets

This is D'alton Braun. I'm not sure where he exists in the timeline of The Known World, and I'm not entirely sure if this is the original from The Rebellion Arc or a clone from The Psychogenic Fugue Arc. This D'alton is a D'alton that has not succumbed to his shadowy nature, and instead has taken Iron Will and levels in Sorcerer in an attempt to control it. The background information at the top of the post doesn't cover the events of The Rebellion Arc either. 

The Shadowborn Fell Human thing is something I am considering doing with Fell Humans. I am considering breaking down the Fell Human race into different flavors. The Shadowborn would have the resistance to cold and shadowy nature D'alton is rather iconic for. I dunno. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Minecraftian: Redux

I had another day off. Sigh.

Yeah, I burned down the other place and put up a bigger brick house in its place.

I also added a porch, and a little garden to the left of it. 

Sitting room is similar to the other one, there is a burning fireplace next to the tv though. 

The Contemplation Room, books and paintings and chairs for relaxation, along with lamps and windows for lighting. 

The kitchen, no real good angle to see everything. The weird door on the left is the fridge, normal Minecraft textures would make it look better, but Ovo's Rustic has overall better colors and quality. Sacrifices must be made. 

Bathroom. That is the shower on the far wall. 

Also with a "working" toilet. The button on the right of it opens and closes the lid. Heh.

Shower works too, the lever beyond the glass works a piston that blocks off a water generation square, so you can have running water in the shower. 

Bedroom. The switches on the right turn on the lamps above the bed and there is a desk hidden in the far corner by a lamp. A stone pressure plate and a painting do a decent imitation of a laptop. 

Secret room! Yep, there is a secret tunnel in the place. 

And a secret railroad. 

Which leads to an underwater glass fortress. 

Not much of a secret though, as it is clearly visible from above. Heh.

I added a hard to see skull icon to the old tower and its moat of burny death.  The stone of the eyes and nose are kind of hard to see. 

I also added a switch to the inside of the tower. 

That causes lava to pour from the eye sockets and nose hole of the skull. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Orcunraytrel - 02: Bountying Up

Alright, so at this point we gamed a few weeks ago. It was the second scenario of my Orcunraytrel campaign. Jeremy could not attend due to a family emergency, but everyone else showed up. Lance was a bit late but Skyped in while driving to his house while Eric rolled for him and loaded his character onto his phone. It worked decently.

The whole point of the mission was to play the part of caravan guards to earn some cash. It went off pretty well. They all lived, caravans were protected, and cash was made. They even increased their standing with the Tradesman Guild. Yay. They made plenty of cash and should be able to finance their soldiers and provisions for at least three or four months.

The random encounters for guarding the caravans were pretty standard, Asosans, starving wolves, and Morks. They encountered a new race of Orcunraytrel, the Morks. An underground dwelling race that have weird elongated bat like ears. They also discovered that unlike the Asosans, the Mork use fine steel weapons and armor. The Asosans have always been equipped with moderately well made iron armor and weapons. They asked Gob a little bit about them and discovered there is this whole underground realm of two races of Mork and a race called Nocks. Then I had a tongue slip where I called the Morks Dwarves, whoops. I mean, I wasn't exactly being subtle about what the Mork are, but slips of the tongue like that are becoming all too common, like when I called Krieg Krieg Zauber'konig.

In addition to the revelation of the Mork and Underhel and all of that, Eric had a spell misfire, but it didn't. He rolled a super low number on his spell misfire chance, and it didn't fail completely or go haywire on him, which is weird. Eric did a bunch of tests when he had some down time and had Karl cast spell after spell after spell, willing some of them to misfire, not a single one did. Definitely a peculiar incident. He's is waiting to put a skill point into Knowledge (Arcana) next level before he does any more research.

The guys also discovered that there are demons in the deep places of the earth. They investigated a destroyed Goebleen warren and the little Gob would talk about it was to say that demons did it. I would be very interested to hear their thoughts regarding the occurrences in that warren. At least now they understand why Gobleen and Asosans don't build anything deeper than a cellar.

Unfortunately, stopping to investigate the warren cost Gob's cousins guarding the tower their lives and allowed a motley collection of pirates to take it over. The players retook it and scared off the squatters with no loss of blood (theirs at least). Gob was upset they let them go after they killed his cousins and violated the group's home, but he understood the group's logic. He did say that he needs the  scalps of the killers to present to his aunts as blood price for the death of their children.

There was some muttering that the occupation of their tower was writ in stone and unavoidable. To a certain extent it was. They were gone from their tower for almost a month and they originally heard about it as a rumor in Je'Clre. There was a time limit on how long they could be away before someone else wandered out there to investigate the rumor of an Asosan tower in the middle of nowhere. If they had returned to the tower instead of going to investigate that event in the mountains, the squatters would have investigated the tower and found it occupied. Or if they had come back from Je'Clre with their twenty or so soldiers in tow, it would have been very easy to extricate the squatters with no bloodshed.

Unfortunately, a recent conversation with Jeremy saw him bowing out of the group. This saddens me, as I have been gaming with Jeremy for about seventeen years, but life gets in the way of silly hobbies sometimes. He'll return at some point, and I look forward to that day.

The between session emails are working well, we are getting a surprising amount accomplished. They've settled on a name: Fort Jagged Tooth for their tower, no group name as of yet. Raging Bulettes does have some nice imagery to it, and a bulette is quite literally a land shark, which is cool. We'll see what they go with, Jason has suggested something with hunter in it.

All in all, it was a good session I think, and I look forward to what the future brings with this group.

One last thing, while Jeremy may not be among us physically, he will always be with us in spirit. This is his rendering of the flag of Fort Jagged Tooth:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Instructional Gaming

So some guys at work asked me to teach them DnD. My partner asked me questions while working and one guy also made plans to go LARPing. He is the one I think is really interested. Normally I am leery of new players, took me a while to get the courage to invite Fred to our group, but I figured if they were into it, I should go with it.

A while ago I bought the Pathfinder Beginner Box, which is a product full of good content and is well designed for new players, so I figured I'd use that. I researched the included module, which wasn't exactly complex, and kind of got in the mindset of teaching newbs how to play Pathfinder.

We set up a time to roll characters while watching The Two Towers on Bluray and possibly play a few rooms in the module. Long story short, they bailed on me. I was strangely unsurprised though. For some reason I kind of felt it coming, despite my partner constantly asking me questions about the game. I'm not that irritated by it either, which is also rather surprising. But, it wasn't like I spent a bunch of time building a scenario for them, just read a ten page adventure a few times to make sure I had a good handle on the content and the flow of the module. Not really a big investment of time.

I dunno, I'm just kind of like meh about the situation. I don't care. If they want to try DnD, they'll make it happen, I'm just going to concentrate on my main game. I am really enjoying the current campaign. I like the group dynamic and the focus on planning things out for the future. It feels like we could do a lot of cool stuff with this campaign and it has me so excited I am putting them on the fast track with the fast experience progression, at least for now.

I feel this sense of excitement about this campaign. I feel like the group has chemistry. I feel like the setting has potential. I feel a lot of things, and most of them are good. All of them really. I guess the core reasoning for this is because the players are planning for the future. Not in the sense that they have a feat they want to take at 3rd level, or a magic item they'd really like to have that they wrote down on a list of magic items they'd really like to have and handed off to me. More in the sense that, we have this tower, we'll need to defend it to keep it from being snatched out from under us, lets hire a bunch of dudes with spears to protect it. We need food, so lets buy food in bulk to cut costs for these soldiers of ours. 

In the previous campaign, they just wandered into whatever mess they felt like or that I put in front of them, and wandered back out just as nonchalantly. They did whatever anyone told them to and didn't really question why or what the consequences of their actions might be. I dunno, my next post will be about the actual scenario itself, so I guess I can pause here for now and continue on Friday. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Hate You, Minecraft, And Gygax

I quit.

This is the exterior view of the tower from the frontish.

This is the exterior view of the tower from the stable and forge side.

This is the exterior view of the tower from the rearish side. There are some blocks missing from the crenelations, but I have since put them in their proper place. 

This is the first floor of the tower, the mess hall. The trapdoor to the cellar is behind the wooden counter on the right and the door on the far well next to the stairs leads to the forge.

This is the cellar, cramped and packed with storage for food.

This is the 2nd floor, the barracks, nothing but cramped space and bunkbeds and footlockers.

This is the 3rd floor, where the PCs and Gob sleep. Four beds, footlockers, and a desk crammed over there in the corner.

This is the 4th floor, packed with storage for weapons and armor and whatnot.

Roof of the tower, the ladder and hatch leading back to the 4th floor are on the right.

This is the interior of the stables, with stall, storage, and logs across the top supporting the roof and loft.

This is the forge, the door on the left leads back into the tower, there is a door on the right kind of hidden by my hand.
So yeah. I ended up building Fort Jagged Tooth in Minecraft. Each block in Minecraft is one meter, so like three point three feet or some such, and I built it pretty damn close to the actual dimensions of the tower in game, so it gives a good idea of how much space there is. I very briefly considered stocking all the chests with appropriate gear like cooked meat, tools, weapons, saddles (you can saddle pigs and ride them in Minecraft), and so forth, but I felt that bordered on obsessive. 

There are three types of stone brick blocks I used for the stone of the tower, normal, mossy, and weathered. The mossy ones are present around that base and if you have an obscene eye for picking out detail, you'll notice that the presence of worn stone increases as you move up through the tower, with the top of the tower being almost completely built of worn stone, I felt it would be the most weathered. 

Ignore the terrain around the tower, it does not accurately represent that of Orcunraytrel, on the map there is actually a massive swamp that the tower faces on the stable/forge side and the tower is actually built pretty much directly over a massive pit that the game generated. I blocked over it with dirt and grass. As the fort develops, I  will continue to terraform the area to fit with what actually surrounds it in our Pathfinder game. 

The exterior of the tower is very bland, I may throw some more stone on it as accents or supports or something to break up the image just to make it ascetically pleasing or some such. The whole thing took a few hours (long enough for me to watch Terminator and some Louis C.K. stand up on Netflix) and I had an issue where the coals in the forge were sparking and kept burning down the roof of the forge and parts of the stable, but I resolved the issues easily enough. 

Just as a note, I'm using a texture pack called Steelfeathers, not the normal Minecraft textures. There is one I saw recently in a Youtube video that is perfect for a fantasy/medieval setting, but so far I can't track it down, and Steelfeathers is pretty nice anyway. If I can find the texture pack and it looks more fitting for the place, I'll post new pictures. 

I had fun building it and I hope you guys like it. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Promethian In Nature

So I went and saw Prometheus the other night. I am a big fan of the Alien series, and the Predator series. I think Alien is one of the best space horror flicks out there. I think the only space horror film I like more than Alien is John Carpenter's The Thing, which is one of the very best out there. I am also a fan of Event Horizon and Pandorum. Alien is so good to me because it has genuine moments of tension and horror where most horror films just settle for jump scares, which is not to say Alien doesn't have any. There are plenty.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with Prometheus. There is tension, jump scares, androids, and lots of callbacks and explanations of stuff we've already seen in the series, but not enough that everything you've ever wondered is explained.

Michael Fassbender really stands out with his portrayal of the android David. Really good acting there and plenty of callbacks to previous movies. The acting overall was rather good in the film. The actor that played the captain was very entertaining. Charlize Theron played her bitch company exec to the hilt, looking at her you can just feel how pissed she is at all times, there is no softness or weakness in that character, just an iron hard bitch dedicated to Weyland Corp's interests. 

I won't spoil the movie, as it is very hard to talk about it in any detail without giving away spoilers. I will say that I enjoyed it as a lover of film, and as a huge fan of the Alien series. There were times where I was giddy and literally clapped my hands and bounced in my seat during the film. 

One thing that struck me at the theater was a feeling of age and weariness. The film Alien came out before I was even born, but as a youth I recall my dad and I watching Aliens and Alien 3 together. At the theater, looking around at the 75% packed midnight showing, I felt like my friends Dan and Sean and I were the oldest people in there. Everyone else looked like they were in the early twenties and late teens. I was left wondering, "Do you people even know who Ripley and Ash are? Have you seen the Space Jockey or seen any of H.R. Geiger's art?" I dunno, it was an odd thought, and obviously they could have, as the previous films released in the series are on DVD/Bluray and whatnot. More than likely, their introduction to the series was the Alien vs. Predator films. Which, yeah, fine, they have Xenomorphs and Yautja in them, but to me they aren't Alien or Predator films. 

I dunno, do you  like Alien? If yes, you'll probably like Prometheus. If you don't, the acting is pretty good in this film and there is a good balance of tension and excitement, if a little too much religion for my tastes. I dunno, see it.

Just as a heads up, there is a special, bonus, Saturday post appearing tomorrow. I don't want to spoil anything, but just let me say that I hate you all. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Been playing way too much Minecraft lately. Sigh.

To continue...brace yourself, this is a longish one.

I've reached a point where I am bored with towers and glass. Plus, the map height has increased, which makes towers a dogdamn obscenely difficult thing to make as I am of the mantra of going big or going home. My previous efforts at the game made a tower of glass to the top of the sky, which was lower in beta. In full version I made a massive glass pyramid to the top of the sky with a floating castle inside of it that contained a portal to the Nether.

Then I formatted my computer and fucking didn't save my save files. So yeah. I immediately logged on to start anew, but lacked motivation and inspiration. I had a half formed idea to build my gaming group's tower as they developed it, and I still may do that, but I got bored after one floor, heh. If they do build a fortress and a town and fields, I can replicate all of that in Minecraft. I can even train, corral, and breed pigs if they do that. Could be nifty.

One of the reasons I love Minecraft so much is because it is Legos with (some) physics. Stuff ignites on fire, lava destroys everything, railroad tracks can't go uphill (unless they're powered), you drown underwater, and gravel can suffocate you if too much falls on you. You can also set up pressure plates and wiring to make traps with TNT, or use pistons to hide secret doors. It is a game full of nifty stuff to do, limited only by your creativity and level of commitment (right now I am watching a video series of a British dude building a giant flying turtle with a city inside of its shell and jet engines instead of legs).

Mainly, I build towers and dig holes. At least I used to.

I've been on a seven day vacation for work for no better reason than because I can. I have assloads of pto and it only cost me two days of it to get my little vacation. Mainly I've been focusing on growing a beard and playing Minecraft.

Actually, I'll be straight with you, we're all friends here after all. In the past seven months I've gotten divorced from the lady I've been seeing for about a decade if not more, been struggling to afford a large apartment on one income, coping with living alone for the first time ever, my crazy ex came at me with a knife, and she tricked my into knocking her up (though I freely admit I am only slightly less responsible for that situation than she is, nonetheless: fucking crazy bitches). Frankly, I've been stressed, and resolving that last situation there was about as stressful and difficult as the rest of it combined. Plus work can be stressful, what with all the shootings, cpr, and dying kids I seem to come across on a monthly fucking basis. I feel I needed a fucking vacation of doing nothing.

So I did it. I grew my beard and rediscovered my love of Minecraft. I interspersed it with bike rides, seeing Prometheus, hanging out with some friends, EVE, and some DnD. More on some of that in another post.
I got bored one night and just started watching some Minecraft videos. People are doing some crazy ass shit with that game, ranging from giant and disturbingly detailed dick sculptures, to the fucking starship Enterprise. I felt like a pathetic member of the community with my glass towers and holes in the ground. After zoning out on videos for an hour, I was filled with the same energy that suffuses me when I sit down to create a campaign world or a story. I booted up Minecraft as a gleaming bright eyed avatar of creativity.

Then I built a tower. Because that is what this motherfucker does.

First I deleted the world where I had made a halfhearted attempt at creating my gaming group's tower. Then I loaded up about ten more worlds till I found something with a beginning area I had a good feel for. Then I built a tower. Not something simple though, a big fat tower of cut stone, which is annoying. You have to mine stone, which converts into cobblestone when mined, smelt it back into stone, combine the stone in a crafting box, and then you get your nice blocks of stone. It has stairs and railings and lights, there is even a little patio. Then I surrounded the motherfucker in a moat of lava and burning Nether blocks. While doing this I made a strip mine for finding coal and ores, a tree farm so I could use lumber as a renewable resource to power my smelters instead of coal (which is not renewable, though it is found everywhere), and set up a powered railroad to cart mined stone from a quarry I dug back to the base of my tower for smelting. Then I watched a bunch more YouTube videos of Minecraft and decided I would finish the tower later, probably when I figure out a good way to use pistons, wiring, and switches to make it so I can flip a switch and have lava pour down the sides of my stone tower. At heart, I am basically a twelve year old that likes tits, whiskey, and fire.

Deciding to try something new, I set off across the ocean, building a powered railroad across the water as I went to make it easy to travel back and forth from my bases. When I reached a foreign shore I liked the look of, I burned down a section of the forest and began constructing a wooden dwelling. I don't really work with wood a lot, I mostly make fortresses and towers of stone. The last time I used wood as my medium was when I made Jeremy's DnD character D'alton's ancestral home. There was an accident with some flint and steel and it burned down, I saved the library and the basement. This accident made me very leery of using wood for construction as Minecraft has super good fire physics.

So, I have this  three room dwelling constructed. The sitting room has a couch, lamp, and tv. The kitchen has a stove, cabinets, a table, and a refrigerator that dispenses cooked steak when opened. The third room is a bedroom with dressers, a closet, a bed, tv, bookcases, and a chest.

Right now I have a secret door set up somewhere in the place leading to my secret underground powered railroad, which will inevitably lead to a secret underground tower/fortress where I'll probably have a bunch of potion making and enchantment stuff. Maybe I'll send the railroad out into the ocean and make a glass dome over it, that would look kind of neat I think. Difficult to make though.

In the interests of honesty, I have installed a mod that allows me unlimited access to resources. I've put in my time, built mountains of glass made from sand I dug up and smelted, I've strip mined to the bedrock of the map and collected my ores. I just want to worry about building stuff in this world. I'm cheating and I am ok with it.

I was talking to Tony the other night and kind of got interested in the idea of a multiplayer server. Something small and affordable to play Minecraft with my friends on. Something where you can just wander around wondering what the fuck is going on in people's heads and what the fuck are they trying to build. I think it would be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it is just Tony and I that are really interested in Minecraft and he is already on the Tested multiplayer server.

Dogdamn do I love this game.

The actual dwelling. The exterior of the kitchen, which is the bigger pod on the left, is rather plain, might need to add something to accent it and break up the boredom of the columns of wood.

The sitting room. The door to the house is just beyond the right border of the screen.

The kitchen, the refrigerator I spoke of is just beyond the left side of the screen. Whoops.

The bedroom, obviously. I may add a painting to the tv on the right side just to indicate what it actually is. Right now it looks like wood and some dark squares.

Transoceanic railway!

Smart Update Complete! Also, my fenced in nursery. Each tree is four blocks from the ones around it.

My tower, with moat of burny death.

Also just as an FYI, each block in Minecraft is supposedly one meter, so three feet or so. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

4th Edition

Once again, I'm going to talk about 4th Edition. Also once again, let me say that I do in fact like 4th Edition. Every time I open my mouth about it, I seem to hand it a backhanded compliment. The reason for this is that the 4th Edition framework does not fit the way I like to play DnD. With each class so tied to its powers, and each of those powers tied intrinsically to spells or specific weapons, it is hard to throw things like revolvers, grenades, and zeppelins in without having to come up with completely new classes, or change the flavor of existing ones to the point where you might as well be creating new ones. Having a Ranger use Boar Tusk Shot or Twin Brambles Shot or some other nonsense like that sounds good when the Ranger is using a bow, but it sounds goofy with rifles. Every time John used a power with his rifle in our Hekinoe campaign, I chuckled in my head, because the imagery was ridiculous. Nitpick nitpick nitpick, anyway.

4th Edition was announced...some time ago, I have no idea. I remember there being a 4dventure banner on the Wizards of the Coast site and realizing what this meant. I then sent a sarcastic and passive aggressive email to my players stating that the announcement today would in no way change the way we played DnD, which was 3.5. I did this because I am an ass and was close to ragequitting and knew not one damn person in the group was remotely aware of that banner on the Wizards site or what it meant, and the confusion of their responses to that email proved my thoughts true.

Look, I'm a cool guy. I like to laugh and drink and make jokes and bullshit with my friends. I have friends. They like me. But a frustrated DM is not human, we're black hearted things of hate. We are tired, our brains drained and dried like a bathroom sponge left too long in the back of a cabinet. We get stuck in our own little world of dice and frustrated dialogue and we just want to strike back at the players. We have one recourse. We could tpk our players, but that is no fun, you are the DM, you literally have all of the power. If you want to be a dick in game, you can tarrasque those level three fucktwits. Or threaten them with meteors and giant asteroid sized Bigby's Clenched Fists. It happens. Back to 4th Edition.

So 4th Edition was released in like 2008 and DnD Next was announced in 2012. If I remember correctly, the 4th Edition release schedule at that point was pretty barren, I think there was a month or two where no sourcebooks of any kind were released. Essentially it was winding down. Now, this isn't a bad thing. I don't need a shiny new thing every month, as long as the releases they do have are full of solid content and high quality. I've never been impressed with the sourcebooks that Wizards put out for 4th Edition, the last one I bought was the Dark Sun campaign setting, and I don't buy something unless I am impressed with it, and I don't buy something unless I can get a look at it first. 

Sell some fucking pdfs Wizards, seriously. We're in 2012, the digital format is ubiquitous. If you fear piracy, don't charge forty bucks for a pdf, charge ten like Paizo, I'll eat that shit up like candy. 

Looking at the release schedule on the Wizards product page, it looks like the last actual sourcebook released was The Dungeon Survival Handbook a month or so ago, the description mentions stuff like themes, so there are definitely game mechanics in there. The next two books are Menzoberranzan and Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. Menzoberranzan looks like a fluff book, which is fine, except we've had like a half dozen books at this point about the Underdark and the Drow. We don't need another one for thirty-five bucks with 75% of its material being copy and pasted from previous editions. The Ed Greenwood thing is just him talking about Forgotten Realms, which he no longer has any control over or input in, maybe input. I dunno. I'm not an industry insider. It seems to me that Wizards is winding down 4th Edition in the same way that it wound down 3.5. A bunch of fluff books being released in lieu of actual innovative game materials. Fluff is fine, I like fluff, I am fascinated by anything I can read about the Elder Elemental Evils and Tharizdun. I found that stuff fascinating in the various 4th Edition sourcebooks. Then I did about ten seconds of research and found it is simply a copying and pasting of the plot from the original Temple of Elemental Evil. That's the problem with fluff, it is too often just stuff copy and pasted from a previous edition and altered enough to fit with current game mechanics and popularity. 

Which leads up to this point: 4th Edition had a four year run before the next set expansion...I mean edition, came out. Which is bullshit. Now I am going to gripe about 4th Edition, actually, I'm going to gripe about Wizards of the Coast.

Look, I've said before that the game must constantly be evolving and innovating to stay relevant. I get that new editions will happen as long as the game exists, they are mandatory for the game to exist. I do not in any way argue that we should all still be playing 2nd Edition or 3.5 Edition and have six hundred rulebooks full of new and innovative content. That is irrational, sometimes and edition gets too big to manage, too many rules and subsets of rules, too many weird unforeseen interactions occur that can't be handled by a pdf of errata.. But a four year cycle on a game that has an investment like DnD is just as irrational. These books are fucking expensive and very short, the core investment is at least ninety dollars, depending on retailer and taxes. While I know that no one will ever demand that I stop playing an edition of DnD to play the new one, and Chris Perkins isn't going to fly into my apartment on s unicorn and steal all my books and cackle like the freakish nerd his is as he flies away, I also know that once DnD Next comes out, Wizards won't support 4th Edition anymore. It won't be played at their public events, they won't spend any resources on it to further develop it, or release errata for it. This is unacceptable after such a short run. I've spend well over three hundred and fifty dollars on buying books for this edition of the game, other supporters have spent a lot more. 

AD&D existed from 1977 to 1989, twelve years. AD&D 2 existed from 1989 to 2000, eleven years. Technically, 3.0/3.5 existed from 2000 to 2008, eight years. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Wizards is pulling this crap. We let them get away with it with 3.0 when they admitted that they had made a shitty, broken ass game, and we're going fix it, but only if you bought the new editions of the PHB, DMG, and MM for full price. Technically the edition versions were compatible, if you squinted and fudged some numbers yourself. 

Honestly, I don't know what I'm griping about. I don't even play 4th Edition anymore, and every time Wizards comes out with a new edition, it is always pretty solid. I always find something I like in it once I get past my nerd rage or whatever. It'll come out, the Internets(s) will resound with the fury of a thousand nerds, and then I'll get a look at the product and order it on Amazon, because that is what I do. 

Seriously, do I have to wait till I've been playing the game for two decades before receiving my Grognard License, or can I qualify for an accelerated program?

Is this the part where I should mention that Original D&D, the Little Brown Books Gygax assembled in his basement, basically one hundred page pamphlets that were very light on rules and only had rules for playing till level ten, lasted for three years before AD&D came out alongside the release of the second edition of OD&D?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Orcunraytrel - 01

So, we played some Pathfinder two weeks ago or so. It was the first scenario of my new sandbox campaign, where the players take on the role of invading pirates attempting to conquer and gain a foothold in a new land. It was the day before Mother's Day, so Jeremy couldn't come, but we had three other players and my NPC Gob. Lance introduced us to his friend Jason and I think Jason is a good fit with the group. Eric, Lance, Jason, and I had a lot of laughs and a lot of nonsense while we gamed, I think he'll mesh nicely with the already established members of the group and whatnot. Yay group unity!

Anyway, the scenario was a little more structured than I want those that follow to be, but I laid it down as a guide scenario and kind of taught them how to find missions, explained random encounter rates, and how to plot out a route to get to a destination. They were introduced to the Goebleen, the only native race allied with Haven at this time, apparently they like guns and explosives more than they like maintaining their sovereignty. It was also explained that none of them understand Asosan, the language of Asosans, the other native race that Haven has encountered and decided to eliminate.

The scenario was simple, go out and find a tower, clean out the Asosans, capture their commander for questioning, and return to Je'Clre for money and standing increases. They plotted out their course and headed out, got into a few random encounters. When they were near the tower, the decided to subdue an Asosan from a random encounter. Unfortunately, they couldn't really question him, so they had Gob ask him questions. Gob did so by blowing off the Asosan's leg with one of his revolvers. The Asosan told them how many soldiers were in the tower, a lie, and then died. Give yourselves a skill point in torture. Hehe.

Things progressed rather rapidly, which I always like. There were several detours for the purposes of humor. A pirate hat was worn and a black flag was in fact raised. We used the Excel spreadsheet method for battle, and even with random encounters to set up on the fly, I feel it worked out pretty well. There were a few incidents where someone ended up where they shouldn't be on the battle mat, but it wasn't a big deal.

They ended up skipping over the special event that I told them the location of and went more or less directly to the tower. They did a bit of scouting and tried to take the place by stealth, but dice being what they are, someone rolled a critical failure on a Stealth check and all Hell broken loose. Lots of Asosans died. They did attempt to subdue the commander of the tower to but kind of got bored with it I think and just ended up slaughter killing him.

In a fairly brilliant move, they collected scraps of armor from their fallen foes and turned those in to the Tradesmen Guild for bounty rewards. Good on them for figuring that out on their own. Once they looted the corpses and tower, they were given the option of what to do with the tower. Gob said the Goebleen clans would like to use it as a base and there was always the option of turning it into New Haven for some pocket change.

The players went in another direction and opted to take the tower as their own and stock it with troops and supplies. Then Jason attempted a coup. Heh. He came up with a fairly thorough financial plan for stocking the tower appropriately with supplies and there was some discussion of long term goals of possibly trying to set up their own town or fortress. It led to some very nifty email conversations between the four of us, as Jeremy has not really chimed in at all on his thoughts. I have a feeling what they do with this drafty tower in the middle of nowhere could lead to some very interesting things in future scenarios. They still haven't come up with banners/sigils or a party name yet though. I am interested to see what manner of nonsense they come up with. Heh. I look forward to our next sessions.