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Saturday, April 24, 2010

OD&DITIES Issue 15 On Sale Now

Full Color cover with this issue.  Not bad.  So, what does your 2 bucks get you in OD&DITIES 15?

First things first.  There is a call for submissions.  If you have something you are looking to see in virtual print, this may be your chance.  Go to the author's blog at OD&DITIES and let him know if you have something to submit.  There are deadlines you know ;)

So, what do you get for your 2 bucks? 

A new class:  The Elementalist.  Its an interesting twist on the arcane caster type, it comes with its own spell list.  Quite possibly worth the price of admission on its own.

An article dealing with what you way encounter traveling on the road.  Nice little piece.

A few pages on resurrection and other such spells.  Since my games tend not to reach the level players can cast, or afford to have other cast, these spells, it hasn't come up for me recently.  It may be a good article for others.

Alternate Alignments:  This goes hand in hand with the new class, as the new alignments are elemental in nature.

Elemental Beasts:  See a pattern?  heh.  Imps and Mephits for you Labyrinth Lord game.

An article and charts for treasure maps.  Useful if you need to define one that the party just found.

All of this ends with "Mr B's Last Word".  

The issues have gotten consistently tighter and professional with each release.  A bargain at 2 bucks.  You owe it to yourself to check out a copy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

VTTs - Where's the Damn Book?

I've noticed that probably the most frustrating aspect about running your RPG sessions with a Virtual Table Top, or VTT software is the lack of newbie usable documentation.

Case(s) in point: 

Fantasy Grounds 2.  The online documentation is really next to worthless in explaining to a new user how to set up and run a game.  Sorry, it sucks.  The download-able manual?  Might help a newbie player, but the GM?  Not enough to run a game.The documentation on how to mod rule sets is pretty much limited to users that have some experience in writing in computer language (XML).

What was the cure for this horrible handicap?  A community created series of tutorial videos.  Vids so good it 's gotten me to the point that I can convert a printed module into FG2 format.  Yes, when I get my game of Labyrinth Lord running, I should have both feet on the ground and some confidence in running a fun and enjoyable game for my friends.  All this thanks to Xorn on the FG2 boards.

BattleGrounds has an outdated user manual, and updated (yet still a bit outdated) user manual and tutorial video.
The included manual is much, much more thorough than FG2

Maptool has a very nice set of community created tutorial videos.  Which helps with the steep (almost overwhelming) learning curve due to the immense amount of custom-ability of the software.

What do these 3 VTTs have in common?  Very active development / revision / patching / enhancing of the software, to the point that keeping an up to date Instruction manual  is next to impossible without stealing man-hours from improving the software.  All there also have active forums and frequent participation by the developers... many questions get answered quickly, but may be hard to find later as they get lost in the forum chatter.

Most learning is either by watching as a player (or as a pure observer) in game, and trial and error as a new GM.  Thankfully these videos put the new GM on firmer footing, which makes for a better game for all involved.  At least, I hope that is the case for me.  We will know in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Virtual Table Top Roundup - Part 2

Hmmm... Part 2 of the VTT Roundup is also post 200 for me.  Huzzah!

Oh, and thanks to Heruca over at Battlegrounds for a "holy cow that's alot of VTTS" listing that he's compiled.  Way more extensive then I'm presenting here.

Gametable - Simple and effective VTT for free.  I was playing around with this last year before deciding to take the FG2 plunge.  Simpler then MapTools in my opinion.  A nice choice for a free option.

EpicTable - in development.  Screen shots look good but no ETA given for a playable release.  Forums are relatively active for an unreleased VTT

Glittercomm - freely available as long as hosting costs are covered.  Forums are fairly dead, but it might be a viable option for the gaming group on budget

WeRole - Uhm, I think its a video / chat service.  No screen shots.  Little info.  Subscription based.

JParanoia - Name is pretty descriptive.  This VTT is pretty much all Paranoia all the time. The main site also has a nice general Paranoia forum.  Free

GRiP - Generic Roleplaying for Internet Players.  Forums are up but fairly dead.  Software seems to be no where to be found.  From the looks of things it wasn't that bad a VTT.  Just looks tho, I've never tried it

ViewingDale - Appears to be more of a way to share maps interactively than a true VTT.  Forums are fairly dead.  Paid

TTopRPG 2.0 - A frequently updated VTT with an active designer.  Free

Of course, after listing all of these Virtual table Tops the past few days, I've never really gotten around to explaining what they are.  Cart before the horse I guess.  Next up:  What is a VTT?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Virtual Table Top Roundup - Part 1

Alright, lets get this Virtual Table Top Roundup Started.  I'll go deeper into each of these, as much as I can, later.  In the meantime, consider this the cheat sheet.

Fantasy Grounds 2:  If there is a giant in the VTT playground, this is it.  It has the virtual dice that WotC "borrowed" for their proof of concept VTT.  Recently under new ownership, it has gotten much more responsive to community requests.  Paid

iTabletop / Pandoren: While other VTTs get by with IM's and Group chat features, this one stresses Voice and Video.  iTabletop is the current (much less enhanced) version while Silvetable / Pandoren is the hopefully, soon to be released on the masses, gaming nirvana.  At least, I hope it hits that high note ;)  Paid

Battlegrounds RPG:  Before FG2 came under new ownership there wasn't a VTT that had as responsive a developer as Battlegrounds.  More map centric than other VTTs, Heruca is constantly updating it with new releases and patches.  Paid

Klooge:  One of the granddaddies of the VTT sphere, there are still some VTT grognards working on mods for it.  Paid

Screenmonkey:  Just the GM needs the software - the players log in and interact thru their web browser.  Paid for Full version, Free for the Lite version.

Maptools:  The constantly updated free alternative to the paid VTTs.  It has a large following and a very active community.  Free

OpenRPG:  Probably the grandaddy of the freeware, and one of the oldest VTTs still out there.  Free

K, that a quick list of the main VTTs (in my humble opinion).  I'll dig a bit for the more obscure or up and coming VTTs for part 2 of the list, and then get into the VTTs themselves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Mashup

First, I'd like to thank Kiltedyaksman for being my 25th follower.  Welcome.

Secondly, I'm working on a quick post to be used as an overview of the main (as I see them) Virtual Table Tops out there.  Later on I'll go into each one in a bit more depth, and include personal experiences where applicable.  Safe bet the Fantasy Grounds 2 will be the first one to get the in depth treatment.

Tonight is Zero Session part 2.  Working with my fourth player to get his character ready fro the campaign.  Should be fun :)

Correction, it is fun.  Edit: Was fun.

Party consists of a Fighter, a Thief, a Cleric and a Druid.  Might be able to guilt a 5th player to play the Magic User ;)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keeping it Positive

As mentioned in my last post, last nite was a kind of "Zero Session" for my new Labyrinth Lord Campaign. It was character generation, playing with the Fantasy Grounds interface and general discussion of the rules. Skype was a godsend.

At one point one of my players (who had already decided on being the party cleric) frustratingly announced "I guess I'll be a human". He had been deciding between dwarf and gnome, but then he noticed the level restrictions and was backing away from his character concept. Not a good start when trying to bring people back to gaming who have been out of it for 12 years or more.

My solution last nite? I told him to make the choice based on concept and I would adjust the rules.

A few weeks ago the issue of demihuman level limits was making it's way around the OSR blogs. My idea was making the listed level cap a "Soft Cap" and reducing expo by 50% after hitting the soft cap (adjusted by any expo bonus due to high stats). I'll be sticking with that with one exception: single class characters have their soft cap increased by 2 levels. My reasoning is that the focus on one class allows them to push themselves that much harder. We will see how it plays out in game.


- Posted from my iPhone