Saturday, August 25, 2012

Only 4 hours left on the Reaper Kickstarter!

It's over $3,000,000.00 now, wow! What the hell am I going to do with all these minis? I don't know, but it will be glorious. Hurry up and get in on the greatest gaming deal of the century!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Basic D&D's B2 vs. D&D Next's B2

One of the heartening and surprising things to me about D&D Next is how very close the playtest version of its Caves of Chaos holds to the original in The Keep on the Borderlands. I've been doing some detailed comparisons between the two and they are almost identical.  Treasure is lower across the board, which is a good thing in my opinion, but the monsters and their numbers are virtually the same.  Take a look for yourself at one of the areas:


B. Orc Lair

Basic - 1 orc
D&D 5e - 1 orc

Basic - 4 orcs, 16gp
D&D 5e - 4 orcs, 8gp

Basic - 4 orcs, 16gp
D&D 5e - 4 orcs, 8gp


Basic - 30 orcs, 14gp
D&D 5e - 30 orcs, 9gp


Basic - orc leader and 2 orcs, 994 gp, +1 shield, potion of healing, fireball scroll
D&D 5e - orc leader and 2 orcs, 140 gp, +1 shield, healing potion

Total Treasure-
Basic - 1040 gp, +1 shield, potion of healing, fireball scroll
D&D 5e - 165 gp, +1 shield, potion of healing

Overall, I really like that the versions are so similar.  It makes me very optimistic about being able to use my old modules with 5e or to be able to use new modules with my old games.  Rock on WotC, you're on the right track.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Group Stat Rolling

I ran the numbers on a lot of different stat rolling methods a few months ago but since then I've thought of a new way that should be very balanced and involve the whole group.  Everyone roll up 6 stats (using your preferred method) and combine all the rolls in one list.   Example-

player 1 rolls- 12 15 16 14 13 11
player 2 rolls- 17 14 14 9 14 15
player 3 rolls- 12 14 9 13 18 14
player 4 rolls- 15 8 8 11 6 11

12 15 16 14 13 11 17 14 14 9 14 15 12 14 9 13 18 14 15 8 8 11 6 11

Now players take turns selecting the stats for their pc from the list.  Who goes first?  Roll init for it or go with whoever had the highest stat roll.  In this case, player 3 goes first because he rolled an 18.  Now the trick to this is that the stats picked have to be in order and the same exact 6 numbers can't be picked twice.  So considering everyone wants that juicy 18, they might pick stats like this-

player 1 picks- 18 14 15 8 8 11 fighter
player 2 picks- 13 18 14 15 8 8 rogue
player 3 picks- 14 9 13 18 14 15 mage
player 4 picks- 12 14 9 13 18 14 cleric

This way everyone gets a really good chance at decent scores that are in line with everyone else's scores and the results still produce interesting, organic-feeling characters.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

System neutral D&D products I'd like to see

In the run up to D&D 5th edition (or whatever they decide to call it), WotC will undoubtedly publish some system neutral products that they can try to make money with as 4e winds down. They've already announced a book of Ed Greenwood's original campaign notes for the Forgotten Realms which should be systemless. Here's some other similar products I'd like to see them come out with.

  • The Grand History of Greyhawk - just like the book they did for FR.  It would be a detailed timeline of Greyhawk's past together with designer notes and art from past products.
  • The Greyhawk Atlas - again copying from a FR product.  A detailed atlas of the lands of Greyhawk with high quality, very detailed maps.
  • Hey, why they're at it, just republish the FR history and atlas books too.
  • Dungeon Mastering Wisdom - a collection of the very best articles on dungeon mastering from the entire run of Dragon magazine. If it's too much for one book, break it into several - Handling Players, World Building, Adventure Creation, etc.
  • D&D Comics - a collection of all the comics that ever ran in Dragon and Dungeon magazines in one book.  Yeah, I know it would probably be a licensing nightmare, but there's no way this wouldn't sell like hotcakes.
  • Dragon Art - a nice coffee table book of the original art that graced the covers of Dragon over the years.
  • Hex Crawl Maps of FR and/or GH - map sets of the great campaign worlds done at the 5 mile/hex scale.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Answering the GM Questionnaire

Here's my answers to Zak's GM Questionnaire.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

It would have to my WFRP combat system hack. It worked wonderfully in play.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

ummm... almost a year now. And that's been about the only time I've run a game in the past couple of years. I guess that explains my lack of posting lately. I've been spoiled by being in a group with multiple gm's and have wasted a lot of time waffling between different systems. Sigh...

3. When was the last time you played?

A couple of weeks ago I played in a PathFinder Basic game. My group usually plays weekly.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

Space Hulk the rpg.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

I usually go over my notes or reread what's coming next.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

We play in a game store that has a good supply of snacks for sale, so a variety of snacky crap gets eaten.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Yes, sometimes it is. I usually find it hard to sleep afterwards because I'm so wound up from it.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

Hunting for the Mulemen. You had to be there...

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

I don't think I've ever run a game where the setting actually mattered.

10. What do you do with goblins?

Kill them in large numbers.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

I constantly see stuff in books that I want to use in games. And then I get lazy and forget about it.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

See Mulemen above.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

WFRP 1st edition rulebook. See waffling about game systems above.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Clyde Caldwell - few do cheesecake fantasy better.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

No, I'm not even sure it's possible to do genuine horror in an rpg.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

Back in the 90's when I ran the AD&D 2e Night Below campaign. Really great stuff there.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

Ideal? Gary Gygax's basement. :)

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

D&D and Traveller. They're different (if not the opposite) in almost every way, but their both the best at what they do.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

I'd have to go with my wargaming background before D&D existed. A lot of my concepts of what a game should be originated then.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

People I get along with - that's all that matters.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

I've used some real places that I've hiked to before in game.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

The perfect version of D&D. I'm still looking.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

Nope, I don't talk to people about rpgs unless they play them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The model for D&D 5e?

Is 2nd edition AD&D the model for the upcoming 5th edition? Over the past year, Monte Cook and Mike Mearls have both voiced a strong desire to make D&D into a modular design that individual DM's could use to better create the game that they want to run. The previous edition that comes closest to this ideal is 2nd and probably not coincidentally, Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell were both developers at TSR during the days of 2nd.

Why is 2nd edition the most modular of the editions? Just look at the core rules. They are loaded with side bars with optional rules for damn near everything. Every class outside the main four are optional. There are six different ways to roll stats. Three different ways to do initiative. Two different ways to do critical hits (and those are optional as well). Options were everywhere and allowed dm's to run fairly different games of D&D right from the beginning.

Now look at the slew of optional rule books that came out for 2nd. Yeah, yeah, I know - 2nd edition created the word "splat book", but no other edition has had so much official (non-3rd party) support and options to chose from. From the horde of class and race books to rule books for creating castles or running campaigns at sea, 2nd edition had you covered. By the end, it also had the Player's Options books which allowed DM's to even more radically change the game they were running. 2nd edition had options and modular systems out the wazoo. Yeah, a lot of it was unbalanced and poorly thought out garbage, but the concept was right and I think this is the path they are looking to follow once again.

Time will tell. I'm signed up for the playtests. It should be a very interesting year!