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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gathering of Fools - June 11, 2011 - Recap

Today was the Annual Gathering of Fools that my old gaming group does every year around this time.   We chose late May / early June so that we can remember the member of our circle that we lost on 9-11.  His birthday was in late May.  We miss ya Paul.  You are with us in spirit.

As for the Gathering itself, it was a blast as always.  We spent a good amount of time playing Rock Band and Guitar Hero on the Wii.  As I am the only member of our group that never learned how to play an instrument, I stuck with singing.  Belting out Rammstein's Du Hast was fun, but didn't leave me much vocal strength for a good Ramone's song.  Yes, I'm a Punk / Metal / Rock / Techno geek when it comes to my musical tastes.

Mexican food was on the menu for lunch - our host, Wall Street Wizard made an excellent choice.  Any more food and they would have had to carry me back to the car.

We watched Zombieland, which was much more enjoyable watching with a bunch of goofball friends then it was when I watched it on my own.  Heck, we usual watch Army of Darkness, and this hit many of the same sweet spots.

Movie time was followed by a game of Action Castle, a game that seeks to reproduce a Zork-like gaming atmosphere as a party / family game.  Once they got the hang of it, they had a blast.  It was Wall Street Wizard's idea for me to bring it along, so he was on a roll today ;)

Gave out some gaming loot to the guys.  Highlights were a copy of the Tunnel's & Trolls 7.5e boxed set (Davey grabbed that), and extra copy of LotFP Weird Fantasy Rulebook for the Grindhouse Edition (Wall Street Wizard), 2 copies of the T&T Corgi edition of the 5e rulebook, 1 T&T Corgi double solo, 2 Monsters! Monsters! reprints and some extra copies of the Sorcerer's Scroll that I picked up on Ebay.  Not a bad haul for the 4 of them to split.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming Off the DCC High

Now that I've had a chance to read thru most of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta RPG Release, I find it is neither as as great as I had hoped, nor as bad as I feared.

I still have issues with the 0-Level mob of starter characters, as it reminds me of the Paranoia (1st Ed) RPG's use of disposable clones. But, as I read later, there are rules for starting characters at level 1, or even higher (up to level 3). Clone-mob may be fun once or twice, but after that, the novelty (and the joke) will wear off.

I like the use of skills based upon previous (pre adventuring) training. We used something vaguely similar back when I ran AD&D 1e games.

Spells. I'd have to see this in play, although some high roll spell effects are great, they won't come into play much with certain spells, as the hight roll benefits will only benefit if you cast the spell assuming you'd get that benefit. Okay, that was confusing. In any case, some of the spell charts could default to one basic spell chart, which would lessen the need to constantly look crap up.

Criticals. Is it just me, or did others have a RoleMaster flashback? Personally, I've seen criticals do more harm then good, as sooner or later a crit is going to take PC out.

Dice. I have 'em. I foolishly ordered a set in the same color. The d24 and d20 look damn close, as do the d14, d16 and the d10s. Sigh.

I'll play a game or two of DCC (I better, I preordered), but I haven't fallen in love with it. It may be good for a one nite stand. Heck, it may even look better with beer goggles ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to NOT Kill Things and STILL Take Their Stuff!

One aspect of roleplaying game that I feel is frequently overlooked in most rule books is the game outside the charts, tables, lists and rolls.  To some extent, 3e did us a disservice, as it went too far into defining a character, their abilities, feats, skills, etc.  It took much of the magic and imagination that the PC / Player shared and turned it into a multi-page character sheet.

A Basic D&D or even AD&D 1e character had depth beyond the sheet.  He HAD to, as there was so much left to be defined that wasn't covered by a rule or written on the sheet.  Heck, back then, you could have written your character on an index card with little problem - I know I did.

See, rules in our RPGs tend to be written to cover success and failure in events that can't be role played.  The thing is, with 3e (and even more so in 4e) events that were once role played were now played and decided with the roll of a die.

Still, there is an advantage to the mechanics, especially with the older systems - play them enough, the rules are learned to the point that they fall into the background - role play begins to trump roll play.

The OSR games that stick the closest to their sources seem to be the most successful at bringing out the "role play" in people, but I think that is more because our gaming muscles still remember the rules as we knew them.  Our gaming instincts are less distracted by rules.

From what I've read so far, it seems that Dungeon Crawl Classics, much like Hackmaster before it, adds too many complications to rules that most of us are already familiar with - to the point that gaming the rules will take precedence over ruling the game.

Or, to put it most simply - familiarity with the rules facilitates role play.  Learning and constantly referring to the rules (such as the numerous charts required for spell casting in DCC) will promote roll play.

When you know the rules you no longer need them (to take stuff from Things), when you don't know the rules you need them (to kill things and take their stuff)

X-Plorers Boxed Set Coming From Brave Halfling


I need to thank Ze Bulette for bringing to my attention Brave Halfling's latest release: X-Plorers Boxed Set.  I do love me some boxed RPG sets.  I'm already in for 2 sets - at $25 a piece it's a hard price to beat.

Maybe I'll finally have the SciFi RPG rules I want to use...

Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta - More First Impressions

Goodman Games must be enjoying the hell outa all the hype they are getting on the DCC Beta release. Personally, I LOVE the art. There, I've said it. No, I don't know of any High School friends that could have done better back in the day. Art can set the tone, and this art does.

Is DCC aimed at the RPG newbie? I doubt it. I think they would be both overwhelmed and not get many of the "Old School" references that the game includes. This seems to be more like a reinvisioned Hackmaster then anything else. Not that it's Hackmaster, but it seems to be aimed at a similar audience.

Race as class. Not my preferred method, but I can deal with it. My issue - from my reading of the previous professions table, the only way to have an Elf, Dwarf or Halfling is to have rolled it on the profession table (Dwarven armorer or Halfling gypsy and such). I don't like the idea of taking that much choice out of the players' hands.

Zero level characters. I ran them in AD&D once or twice (was it Under Ilfarn or something like that?) and while fun or novel as a change of pace, I'd hate to use it more then once. The novelty wears off fast, and how does a zero level peasant turn into a 1st level magic-user over nite? Doesn't make sense.

Zero level swarm parties. 15 zero level characters thru attrition become a 5 character 1st level party. Why are these untrained adventurers adventuring? Why, if 2 outa 3 are going to die, are they stepping into the unknown? This seems more like Paranoia then D&D. I might swallow it better if Goodman Games can supply the right backstory, but I doubt that is going to happen. Instead, it seems like a piss poor game mechanic. It really pushes my suspension of disbelief that is necessary to immerse myself in a RPG.

Wacky Dice. I'm mixed on this. I suspect when the Original D&D Boxed Set was released, folks were damn annoyed and confused by the "wacky dice". I've ordered my set of "wacky dice". I'm willing to give it a shot. The D7 that I found doesn't match any other dice in color or markings. What a PITA.

That's all for now. Back to the grindstone

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta - Its All the Rage!

The frickin' thing is hotter then hot cakes!  Every blogger and their younger brother has something to say about the Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta that was released today - some good, some bad, some bad / good, some good / bad.  The simple fact is people are talking about it, more-so then any recent RPG release that I can recall.  Heck, I preordered sight unseen when it was first announced, and ordered my funky dice this past weekend.

I'm sure that  everyone is waiting with baited breath for my thoughts on it, but that will have to wait.  My initial impression, having virtually thumbed thru my digital copy is that the art rocks and the game definitely has multiple roots - Dungeons and Dragons, Tunnels & Trolls and Rolemaster immediately come to mind, but there might be more.

My thoughts come later ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WotC To Support Older Editions? It Will Cost a DDI Sub To Find Out

According to this thread on ENWorld, an article in the latest Dungeon Magazine (loose definition of magazine, but whatever) talks about adapting a 3E adventure, "The Lich Queen's Beloved" not just to 4E, but to AD&D 1E and 2E.

Much as I'd like to think this will be an ongoing theme, I doubt it.  I can't vouch for the article itself, as I have no intention of paying 10 bucks for the privilege of reading the single article I might be interested in.

Still, I find it interesting that they would even consider publishing an article dealing with anything other then the rule system they are currently publishing.  Would have made more sense to have this article available to non-paying subscribers, to bring those that might not normally check out the whole DDI thing to the WotC site.

Eh, time will tell.

In Case You Missed It: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Beta Available June 8th

I'm sure you've seen it announced already, but Goodman Games' DCC RPG Beta will be available for download at the Goodman Games website tomorrow.

I already ordered my set of funky dice.

Although I certainly don't NEED another set of Old School style RPG rules, I enjoy them none the less. Looking forward to reading them tomorrow ;)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Creative Mountain Games is Having a $1 Sale - Time to Get Your 3.5 SRD For a Buck!

Even at full price, CMG's 3.5 SRD Bundle is a great deal, but for a buck it's a no brainer.  Seriously, I've owned it for years.  It was one of my earlier RPGNow purchases.  Get your's today.  Or tomorrow.  Or however long Mark is having his sale for ;)

Oh, he has other stuff on sale too!

Description

This huge Bundle includes the PDF Icon-Interface Index, the SRD 3.5 Revised Basics, Spells, and Magic Items PDF, the SRD 3.5 Revised Monsters PDF, the SRD 3.5 Revised Creature Stat Blocks PDF, the 3.5 Revised Divine PDF, the 3.5 Revised EPIC PDF, the 3.5 Revised Psionics PDF, AND the 10 SRD 3.5 Revised Spellbooks (Adept, Assassin, Blackguard, Bard, Cleric, Domain Spells, Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer/Wizard)!

Over 3,500 PDF pages in sixteen cross-linked, heavily-bookmarked documents!

Things To Do, Places To Be

My spring craziness is finally winding down. This coming Saturday is the semi-yearly Gathering of Fools. Yep, my old gaming group will be hanging out, drinking beer, playing video games, telling war stories from our old campaigns - the usual shit. I've been asked to run a game of Parsely (think gaming table Zork type fun). I figure with a few beers in everyone it should be a blast. I also have a bunch of Tunnels & Trolls stuff to give away - I'm like the RPG Santa Claus at these events ;)

I also need to get back into the swing of things with the renovations at the house. The clock is a ticking. A hair less then 5 months to get everything done. Then I can think of actually running a game on a regular basis. Tunnels & Trolls or Swords & Wizardry Complete (especially if my Bard class makes the cut).

Not even going to mention work. Busy busy ;)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mini Review - Resolute: The Splintered Realm (RPG)


Resolute: The Splintered Realm is one of those nifty systems that relies solely on D6, which means you can find the dice you need by raiding just about any board game.  Gotta love that.

The author squarely places his inspiration on the back of D&D "red box" - the first one.  The inspiration shows, even if it looks nothing like a D&D game, it's Old School roots are there.

Success is decided by 2D6 plus modifiers compared against a Difficulty Rating (DR).  For every 5 points your beat the DR, you get a bonus success.  That's the core of it.  There are other things that can modify the roll and such, but the core is fairly simple.  It should be, as the rules wrap up in 20 pages.

We get four core classes (sound familiar?): Disciple, Fighter, Magician and Scout.  Each class - I mean Archetype, has a special ability which helps define it and make it unique.  Or you could avoid taking an archetype all together.

Magic spells have their own chapter.  Magicians aren't the only ones with access to spells, but the other classes need to purchase each spell ability individually.  Nice way to make your character unique, or to model him on some of the other D&D-like classes.

There is a small section on beasts and such and even a one page dungeon included in the mix.  Fair deal for a $3 investment (although there is a Book of Beasts available for a buck).

The PDF is scaled for widescreen monitor and tablets, although there is a printer friendly version also included.

Tech Review - Samsung Galaxy Tab - Sprint Version

As many of you already know, i'm a big fan of tech toys, especialy when I can use them with my gaming and game related activities. My first such toy was the Amazon Kindle DX, the first portable device besides a netbook that I had to read PDFs. I retired that device last spring when I got my iPad.

My iPad has been my go to device for just about anything related to reading, blogging or blog reading. its an amazing way to read all my PDFs in a form I can take with me or read in bed.

I grabbed a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7" Screen on Woot! last week, and it arrived hours before I had to leave for my engagement party. I must say, I'm pretty impressed.

With half the screen real estate then an Ipad, its not going to replace my iPad when it comes to blogging or even surfing the web while I'm at work (my iSpot 4G hub from Clear doesn't work with the Galaxy Tab, which shouldn't be a surprise, as it isn't supposed to, but it is the first device I've tried that hasn't) but as a PDF reading device, it is excellent.

The Galaxy Tab can be held with one hand, the iPad requires two. It reads PDFs in their native format using Adobe Reader, and I can use Dropbox to move them to the GT.

My GT is a Sprint refurb, but it looks brand new and was about a 1/3 of the price that I paid for my iPad last year (or about 1/2 of what a top of the line 1st gen iPad will cost you now). My refurb is contract free, and works well on my home wireless. Have't tried the 3G and have no need of it, so I doubt I'll be reviewing that aspect down the line. At less then $275, it was a steal, especially if you want to take your PDFs with you. Excellent touchscreen, on par with the iPad. I'd recommend it, especially if you are looking for something a little smaller then the iPad.