Archive for the ‘Roleplaying’ Category


D&D Tinies!

August 22, 2008

The Vermin Handler

June 20, 2008

See, stuff like this is why I absolutely love Fourth Edition. This is a stat block for a new kobold released today in a new Dragon Magazine article. It’s called the “Vermin Handler.”

I just love this schtick! You can see him using that Vermin Cage ability clear as day. He sort of scuttles to the side of a battle, picks out the most heavily armed fighter, and chucks his box of bugs right at the melee guy’s head! Bugs and wood go flying and the poor bastard with the sword has to swat and swear at his armor until he kills most of them off. Brilliant.

Of course, my players aren’t facing down this guy. I’ve got a couple of much nastier tricks up my sleeve. Hee! I’m still not one of those GMs that thinks its his job to kill the PCs, but I can’t help but cackle with glee that finally – FINALLY – I’ve got some toys of my own to play with.


The Bunny Did It

June 20, 2008

I’ve never had someone request a blog post before, but Alan did so via email yesterday. I feel inclined to acquiesce.  This is the story of what can happen when three college-age gamers stay up way too fragging late having fun with what they do.

Also, I should point out that tabletop roleplaying is not *all* wanton violence and murder. It’s actually a very subtle mix of storytelling and tense action; the best moments I’ve experienced at a gaming table are locked in my head just as vividly as any movie. This … em … is not one of those moments.

So, warning: incredibly juvenile, inappropriate humor coming up. This was done at like 3 in the morning during college, and was almost certainly one of the most innocent things happening at that hour in Iowa City’s downtown. Don’t take this out of context and be horrified please (Mom).

Read the rest of this entry ?


Behind the Screen

June 17, 2008

I fear you’re going to have to bear with some interminable D&D-related discussion over the next several months. I’m once again at the head of the table, doing my game master thing for a group of unlucky players. This time around, it’s the fourth edition of Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons, and I’m almost speechless with excitement. I’ve been waiting to do this for the better part of a year, and now that the hour is at hand I find myself a little taken aback by the game’s promise.

Sunday myself and a group of friends sat down to get characters created. A good time was had by all relaxing and enjoying the company of fellow gamers. The party is Katie, Erich, Jeff, Ben, and Jeff’s friend Matt, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting only a few times before. It’s always interesting gaming with someone new, but in a way that’s sort of the point. Getting to try out old tricks on new people, seeing new ways of dealing with the usual encounters … it’s all awesome.

I’ve recently realized that if my experience playing tabletop RPGs was a person, they’d be able to vote. My first system was TMNT & Other Strangeness, and my first player was my aunt. That was actually my first gaming experience ever, being the GM. Very foreshadowy. My first experience as a player was as a short-lived mutant weasel. That was a sad night in New York City’s harbor.

Now during the week I’m finding it ever-so-enjoyable to work out encounters and plot for the game. It’s mostly been me noodling story concepts, actually, because coming up with actual encounters is really, really easy. The new rules are so easy that I would feel comfortable completely winging a session, if I were inclined to do so. Sometime down the road I may even do that (without telling the players) just to see what it’s like.

For thiscoming Sunday, I’m setting the stage for all of what’s to come – hopefully, an interesting but not driving plotline peppered with unique combat encounters. This time it’s all coming out of my brain, no safety net. Not even a real campaign setting, just the ‘points of light’ pastiche they give you in the main books and the preview tomes.

Should be fun.


Anctici … pation

June 3, 2008

To say that I’m looking forward to Friday would be a gross understatement. At the end of the week the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons is set to be released, a big marker in my 18 years of playing tabletop roleplaying games. Fourth edition, or 4E, is a big deal(tm) to tabletop nerds for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s easy. It’s by far the most simple rulesset that the game has ever had.
  • It’s fun. These simple rules are very focused on the combat elements of the game, and bring to life stale game elements that have bogged down previous editions.
  • It’s fast. Playtime has been significantly cut down. I know it seems odd for a non-tabletop gamer to envision, but with previous rules events that took place in a matter of minutes inside the game world could take hours to adjudicate in real life.
  • It’s online. There’s an entire online component to the game that I find alternately fascinating and frustrating. My hope is to be able to play a game via this system sometime soon.
  • Most of all, it’s clean. I’ve spent the last four-odd years mulling the design decisions of MMO devlopers, which has given me an appreciation of game design in general I didn’t have those 18-odd years ago. The way these new systems interlock, the care they’ve given to making simple rules fun and flavourful … oh yeah.

I’m almost done with Cryptonomicon, and despite the staggering amount of work I’m doing this week I’m going to try to finish up before Friday. I really want to crack into those books without wrecking my (still chugging) Kindle-based reading initiative.


Monster Mash

October 5, 2007

Finally, finally, finally we get some meaty information about Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition. The latest episode of the D&D podcast is all about the Monster Manual. There aren’t a ton of concrete details – there’ s no specific list of what’s in and what’s out – but there is a lot more info that we’ve gotten yet.

To sum up:

  • They reiterate the concept of monster ‘types’, like brutes, masterminds, skirmishers, etc. They also mention the concept of ‘elite’ monsters, that take up two ‘spots’ on the opposing monster team. It sounded like some monsters are elite by their very nature (like the Death Knight), while some can be ‘buffed up’ into an elite to make a fun creature more powerful.
  • It’s way easy to put together an encounter just by looking at the lists of monsters. They did it at a couple of level ranges at the end of the podcast just by looking at what they know is going to be in the first MM; this is doable because if you know level and ‘type’ of monster you can just slot them in. We need a few brutes, a mastermind, maybe some healer or skirmisher types … bingobango you’re done!
  • Frost Giants won’t be in the first MM. This is just one of the ‘core’ monsters that aren’t going to make it in because they want us to understand that all of the Monster Manuals are ‘core’ books. Plus they want to make a fuckton of money.
  • There are a lot of cool-sounding critters in there. I think it was something like ‘the Carved Eidolon’? And another was something like the ‘Frostshackle Gryphon’. Cool names are just the first step to a great encounter.
  • Critter abilities are no longer just spell names written in the stat block. They’ve really gone out of their way to give critters new and interesting things to do. Even when it is duplicating a spell, they’re including the info right there in the block – because they love us! They’re also really only including the important stuff in the stat block. There are far fewer 1/day type abilities, really only stuff you’re going to use in the encounter. Some abilities will also variable repop during a fight.
  • They’re differentiating humanoids! So Gnolls aren’t just “3-HD goblins”. Their example with my favorite hyena-headed critters was that specifically gnolls will attack like pack animals. Goblins, on the other hand, will be more dodgy and staying out of the range of your weapons. Kickass.
  • James Wyatt is actually looking forward to running a Beholder against his players. That speaks volumes to me about this game.

These regular podcasts are going to keep me super excited for this project all the way into next year.


Days Out And Outer Planes

September 30, 2007

Hey there reality.

I just want to thank you for today. From the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, I did precisely two things:

1.) Played World of Warcraft and
2.) Watched Justice League Unlimited with Katie

Yeah, a total waste of a day. And, given the fact that I got precisely nothing done last week, it was probably a luxury I shouldn’t have given myself. But eh… screw it.

One of the few things I did online today was get a bit caught up on what I’d missed out on this week. World news events aside (did you catch Ken Burns’ interview on Jon Stewart about The War?), I got my first hint that they really are thinking different for Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition. From the Design and Development article on Fourth Edition Cosmology:

“Godly dominions, elemental chaos, shadow kingdoms, and faerie realms are all part of the world. Most mortals know little of these things, but heroes are a different matter. Heroes often find that adventure calls them to distant and strange dimensions indeed … No one is knows how many astral dominions there are. Some dominions, such as the Nine Hells, are the size of worlds. Others are no larger than cities, rising like shining islets from the Astral Sea. Several dominions have been ruined or abandoned, usually because the gods who made them were destroyed or forgotten. What sorts of treasures—or perils—might slumber in such places, only learned sages could say.”

IE: Forget about the big Wheel. No more Sigil, etc. I’m gonna miss the Lady of Pain, but if if means the Outer Planes are more understandable and such … maybe that’s not such a bad thing.