Dec 17, 2010

I really, really, really, really dislike the new character builder.

Web-based 4E character builder - it stinks.  I'm paying the same for less?  The saying, "Smooth move, ex-lax" comes to mind...complete with my dad's condescending tone.  Now I know how he felt.

Essentials characters...fit awkwardly....into what is now a "custom" party.

If you errata the Rules Compendium - I'll kill 10 kittens and a beagle - I swear it!  Their blood will be on your hands.

RE: DDI in general - I'm leaning towards not renewing my subscription.  Unlike your digital characters, paper ones are yours.  I'm just not seeing enough innovation or even intelligence to make me feel my money is well spent. 

Do you keep your programmers locked in cages or something? 
Do you folks even read your own forums?
Where has the last year gone?

I need a drink.  Game well folks.

Nov 17, 2010

I laughed, I cried, then I realized that I had played this game before!

OMFG, If you haven't seen the new trailer for YOUR HIGHNESS yet, I encourage you to do so, and be immediately reminded of every game of dungeons and dragons you have ever played, only with less sausage, and Natalie Portman in a shiny thong.

Also:  The evil wizard's response to the delicious Ms. Deschanel's question re: Love wins everything, everywhen, and every time :)

On a side not, Web based DDI?  Really?   I'll give it a shot, but am rapidly growing impatient.

Nov 1, 2010

So what is the story with DDI?

I'd call this an open letter, if I thought there was any chance it would reach it's destination...so let's just call it food for thought.  Or perhaps a crazy and bearded DM on unemployment ranting to the winds.  Doesn't particularly matter to me, so long as you listen and think.

Dear grand high mucky-mucks who run my favorite hobby,

Good morning, and hello.  Donny the DM here, and I have a few things I'd like to get off of my chest.  As you probably don't know, I'm a DM, blogger, and generally a fan of you and your works - however - I am troubled.

This is for several reasons, but we'll get back to that.  you see, I am also not troubled (that is to say, that when I'm not troubled...I'm...not...troubled...?)  Anyway, I'd like to start with the velvet glove before showing my backhand if you don't mind. 

1.)  4E - Please pass a hearty round of congratulations for me.  4E is the best edition that has been released to date.  I've been playing since release, and cannot remember having more fun playing D&D.  I have some minor design quibbles, but none of it matters enough to need mentioning at this point.

2.)  DDI - Please give a second back slap to whomever came up with the idea for DDI and adventure tools.  These two pieces of software have revolutionized my tabletop.  FINALLY a legitimate use for the near ubiquitous techno-gadgets that have become such necessary status symbols.

3.)  The future - It looks so bright, I might need shades.  I am salivating at the thought of finally getting to play gamma world, and cannot wait to find out what the next two campaign settings will be!  (holding out for spelljammer).

All in all, I feel that the hobby is in good hands.  Now that the edition wars are finally dying back to isolated skirmishes between the new town guard and the cave-people, we can finally begin moving forward to the gaming singularity.

Goodness, all this happy and sunny crap is starting to make my beard itch.  Let's sow some karmic seeds to balance this out.

1.)  4E - you guys can admit it.  You didn't playtest 4E worth a shit did you?  All those closed door sessions and NDA's got you a product that really has chapped my ass a few times.  I hope you wanna know why, 'cause I'm a-gonna tell you regardless.  On release day, I ordered the fancy-schmancy-guy name of Dancey 3 book collection of core rulebooks, and was blown away....

Then cometh the errata.

Not just any errata, but errata that has since reduced my books to cellulosic paperweights.  And that was just in the first 6 months!  Since then, I have gone from a little gnaw of buyers remorse to not buying dead tree D&D books anymore.  Not because I'm some jaded jerkoff fanboy, but because my money matters to me.  Hell, I broke that rule once, to buy the forgotten realms campaign setting with the proceeds of a 3 month long recycling binge - and was happy that it was done almost right the first time, but I feel that this was not the norm...my Martial Power and it's SIX PAGES OF ERRATA seems to be more the norm. 

This is a problem.  A very big problem.  I cannot trust what any of my books say until I have double checked them, and so I have this fat folder filled with printed errata that was such a pain in the ass we quit using it.  On  the bright side, you seem to be getting your acts together in that sense, but now we are changing stuff from the core because we changed our minds a year later.  WTF!!?  You guys owe me new - updated - books, and I am not buying any more D&D books until I get them.

2.)  DDI - I've made my opinions clear a couple of times.  I'll re-iterate the issues I still have, and we can go from there.  WHAT IS GOING ON WITH DDI!!!?  No updates in forever, and those gaping bloody holes in my adventure tools screen.  Where is the treasure parcel generator?  Where is the encounter generator?  Where is the character visualizer?  At this point, the online tabletop is forgotten - as in vaporware forgotten, and you know what?  I'm okay with that.  It's all of the other little tools I need to make my life easier that I miss.  Unfortunately I don't even know if any of them is still in development, due to the iron wall of embarrassed silence that has been erected since the grandiose promises so long ago.

I use DDI religiously.  IMO, it is the ONLY way to make an accurate character, and I will not accept one that hasn't been made on it.  This would be easier if we had a GROUP SUBSCRIPTION WITH GM/PLAYER PERMISSIONS, but obviously this is a bad idea - right?  Hello?  Anybody?

I don't even know why you are still publishing books, but that is another discussion entirely.

3.)  The Future - The future seems to hold more of the same.  I see great stories, books, and campaigns coming out, and I am seeing splatbook creep IN THE CORE MATERIALS.  Contrary to what some will tell you, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  The only way I can keep up with all of the books, races,  classes, builds, feats, powers, is to use DDI.  Unfortunately, I cant make use of anything recent due to a lack of updates, and I still have to use third party apps to fill in the gaps.  Hire some software developers please, there are a lot of them that are out of work right now.


As you can see, the three biggest strengths of 4E, are shadowed by it's three biggest failures.  PLEASE guys, don't forget about us poor, miserable wretches that actually have to pay for your products.  We have needs and wants too, as well as extremely limited budgets to work with.

Until next time, game well - and be excellent to each other.

Donny_the_DM  

Oct 11, 2010

Where is my #$^&(%$ 4E Future?

From a distance, echoing and reverberating through the dark fog of your conscious, the sound of an alarm klaxon.  That sound...it's incessant and urgent blaring stirs something within you.  Looking around, you notice the room around you is cold and dark...lit only by a spinning emergency strobe mounted above a wall terminal to your left.  You are confused, and unsure of where you are...

Looking down to your mag-booted feet, you see in the intermittent light that you are wearing a uniform of some kind.  The name tag says ___________.  The name sounds right, and immediately you are rewarded with a flash of memory. 

You are standing in a well lit room, surrounded by scores of uniformed men and women, uniforms that look like yours.  A large holoscreen takes up the majority of the back wall, it is covered with hundreds of multicolored icons of different sizes and shapes.  You cannot make sense of the symbols, but it is obvious that the two forces displayed are massively mismatched.  The red icons are spread evenly in a crescent shape, the outnumbered blue icons were clustered feebly around a single pair of systems.

The tense silence in the room has begun to slowly devolve into tense murmuring when the door to the ready room opens, and a crisply dressed man with a severe expression painted across his face.  He quickly steps to the raised lectern, and without a glance to the board behind, begins to speak.

"Ladies and gentleman, I'm not going to lie to you, this screen behind me doesn't even begin to describe how bad things really are."  His epaulets and name tag identified him as Rear Admiral Robbins.  You have never heard of him, but then again top brass had been turning over quickly these last few years...a reflection of how many flagships had been lost.  He took a long ragged breath, one that was filled with exhaustion, tension, and something else - perhaps resignation?  "We have confirmation that the Athena system has fallen."

The room breaks out into raucous gasps, and disbelieving cries.  Admiral Robbins pauses for a breath, and then his amplified voice breaks through the din like a razor through flesh.  "SILENCE!" 
His demand is honored instantly, and silence reigns again.  It is now a thick and frightened silence.  There is anger there too, but much more fear. 

Behind him, the holoscreen updates, and the Athena system, with it's 12 Billion souls, blinked the sullen red of a fallen system.  An update moments later added the icons indicating 90%+ casualties, and orbital bombardment.  The icons for the individual fleets and task forces redistributed automatically.

Admiral Robbins cleared his throat, "As you can see, the enemy paid dearly for their prize, as we are currently estimating a 9 to 1 ratio of exchange."  His voice took on a more sullen tone, "As you can also see, these losses will make little to no difference to the fleets defending the home system."  To his credit, he didn't choke on the last, but he came close.  "We have been ordered to perform a special...punitive mission of sorts."  Now he had their attention, as far as the rest of them knew, they were at maximum speed towards Sol to reinforce the home fleets.  They all knew it was nearing the end now.  It was better not to think about it.

The room was rapt now, the stench of dead hope was suddenly less palpable than before.  The admiral hesitated a moment before continuing on.  "You all know the CALIFORNIA was recently refitted at the Hyperion Shipyards."  This refit had been the topic of considerable discussion for months.  A lot of the fleet's best and brightest had been disappearing into the black hole that now occupied position Echo-4, Tier 3, at the very core of the fleet's ready formation.  The Admiral continued, "She was to be the first of a new series of Line vessels we call GATEships, their drives are powered by a unique process discovered accidentally during a salvage expedition nearly 5 years ago."  Behind him several panes of data were breaking out around the border of the holoscreen running schematics, video feeds, and other incomprehensible, mostly mathematical data.  "We are going to strike our enemy's home world and obliterate it."  The tension could be held no longer, and the crowded room erupted like a rolling barrage.  Vengeance would soon be ours.

To be continued?  
...and fuck Halo.

Sep 15, 2010

Honestly, I don't think there is a way to "do it right", the middle ground is an illusion.

Of course this has started making the rounds, and it gives me a little bit of perspective.  It is nice to see over the top of the ivory walls every once and awhile.  To loosely paraphrase, Mike Mearls has a hotseat interview regarding the purpose and scope of the new red box essentials line.  I've made my opinions on the matter clear. 

Supposing that what I have to say matters a wit to begin with, I take away two things from this. 
1.)  Mike Mearls loves his job.  Seriously, as an occasional visitor to his site, is there actually anyone who wants to question his credentials?  Like those pesky birthers, I find myself needing to state the blatantly obvious.  Let me make the crystal nice and clear.  NOBODY AT WOTC SET OUT TO DESTROY D&D.  I can't believe I actually felt the need to say that.

In fact, that mantle goes to TSR for financial dumbassery, splatbook shotgunning, product prairie-dogging, and ruleset rustling.  I still view revised second edition as the root of all evil that has passed, and is yet to come.  I may have my issues with their (so called) digital initiative, but I have never felt the hobby was in better hands - over all.

2.)  It pains me to say it, but the grognard fucktards are actually getting to the boys from Renton.  Seriously - a fucking T-shirt?  What kind of idiot...ugh.  I'm not even going to go there.  If you are simultaneously grognard, belligerent, and like overpriced T-shirts, then you deserve your own adjective - Fucknard?  As   usual, I digress.  It's been two years.  I just can't believe people are still crying about this - much less enough to merit a statement from MM himself.  It really annoys me that in this day and age, people still get all asshurt when they find out that their favorite product really wasn't designed by elves JUST FOR THEM. 

After all, isn't that what this whole hoorah is all about?  Folks being all asshurt because "their" game was now "someone else's"? If you are reading this Mr. Mearls, listen up.  Unlike half of the nutsacks on the internet, I'm not going to assume you owe me the shit off of your shoes.  You build the game you want to build.  You build the game my kids are gonna be playing in 10 years.  D&D is more than a hideously expensive collection of rules and artwork.  It is more than spilled dew and cheetoh stained character sheets.  It is more than GNS theory and flame wars.  I can't think of anything else off of the top of my head that means so many different things to so many different people.  Therefore we come full circle back to the very title of this post.

THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND.
THE CENTER IS AN ILLUSION.
THERE IS NO US OR THEM.

We are all gamers...except those still playing revised 2nd, those people are masochists!

Until next time, game well and remember that YOUR game is a trainwreck to everyone who isn't playing it, making you a big pile of fail to all who love you.  Until next time.

Oh...a promise is a promise.  Keith Baker is a butt pirate (but seriously dude, Eberron Fucking rocks!)

Aug 17, 2010

An amazingly strong urge to make love to the sun, in a dark and gritty way.


Amateurish photography aside, one of my gamers is going to be showered with the DM's affections, and I mean that in the most horribly wicked way you can imagine.  I'd tease a review, but you wouldn't believe me :)  So I am just gonna sit back for a little while and let this charming lass have her way with me.

Good gaming to all, and to all a good game.

Jul 13, 2010

Unessential essentials, and watch me insult Bill Slavicsek

So after months of teasing, we are finally seeing the new face of BASIC Dungeons and dragons.  Complete with n00b friendly choose your own adventure style character creation.  I speak of the essentials line that is soon to descend upon us.  My feelings are a bit...mixed.

Allow me to sidetrack - for just a moment.  I FINALLY got to game this past weekend.  With the wifey off to vegas to play with her girlfriends, I was able to do some serious gaming :)  After rounding up a handful of unlikely suspects, also known as folks that always wanted to - but just never got around to playing, I have a couple of observations that they actually asked me to pass along on the off chance one of the powers-that-be in the design department notices.
  1. This is the most fun I (we've) had in YEARS!
  2. Dude...too many books to look through - why are you even bothering to publish anymore?
  3. I can't afford all this crap - thank the gods the DM used to be loaded!
  4. Make DDI free with purchaseable content modules.
  5. Mini's are expensive.
  6. Why is WotC's digital initiative stuck in 2002?
While I realize that  some of these grievances are old - and I've mentioned before, I'm going to bore you with them again because THEY KEEP COMING UP.

1.) This is the most fun I (we've) had in YEARS!

This is number one for a number of reasons.  My players are all 25+, with two of them around 40.  In all that time, none of them can specifically recall having such an awesome night.  I can attest that it was phenomenal, and a good example of the synergy you get when you have 4 good friends sitting around the table learning to role-play
.
2.) Dude...too many books to look through - why are they even bothering to publish anymore?

I suspect that this is the model of the planned future, and watching those poor bastards cross-referencing and discovering new options in book after book made me a little nauseous.  Between the BOTCHED release errata - rendering nearly a hundred bucks worth of books quasi-useless, and making me PAY to find it all in one place, this is a serious problem.  It is specifically because of this I will not be buying any more dead tree products from WotC.  It's not a protest so much as a consumer stand - I  will not pay a premium price for shoddy products.

3.) I can't afford all this crap - thank the gods the DM used to be loaded!

This dovetails onto #2.  So we have a sytem that is supposed to be easier to play (it is) and requires less book referencing (if you have a computer and DDI sub handy) and yet we are still focusing entirely on books.  WTF.  I shudder to think how long it took to code those databases DDI uses, and yet all of that potential is being wasted to sell more made in china dead tree books.  Branch that (logically) into a refusal to sell digital copies of said books (with errata corrections), and a hosted community that doesn't appear to be ANY kind of killer app, and you have to wonder how many monkey up ther in Washington have their tails tied together.

4.) Make DDI free with purchaseable content modules.

Steam for D&D - enough said.

5.) Mini's are expensive

I've been using the same .3 cubic foot bin full of minis for 5 years now.  Yes, my skeletons do double duty as orcs and gnolls.  Yes the players are sick to death of them.  But considering I spent just shy of fifty dollars for that 4lb pile, there will be no "new" additions.  They are all older 3E releases because neither I nor my gamers can afford to go out and buy them at will.  Maybe once before, but definitely not now.  Does anyone have that kind of money laying around these days?  Don't get me started on that HAREBRAINED idea to make you BUY digital minis for the likely abandoned virtual tabletop.

6.) Why is WotC's digital initiative stuck in 2002? 

One of my normal gamers is our "tech guy".  He is an off and on military contractor who specializes in Database GUI overlays and query language, yeah, basically a master's certified DBA.  He loathes DDI and adventure tools.  Something about "shoddy code written by caffeinated lemurs with long hours and small paychecks."  Okay, I added the lemur part, but only because I do not wish to use the other term I replaced.  This goes back to my previous post regarding adventure tools - ONE F*CKING YEAR AGO we got the monster builder, a beautiful database with an unstable (STILL!!  A YEAR LATER!!!) GUI that crashes whenever I window out or get a zonealarm popup.  Is this REALLY the best that the premier RPG developer on the planet can do?  Look - either devote some resources to the digital initiative or kill it.  It is really that simple.  The status quo is, well, embarassing.

A side note to end my sidetrack - I'm not the only one to have this question.  Apparently after completely screwing multiple pooches on 4E release, the powers that be have decided that it is best to keep us nasty old customers out of the loop.  When you get egg all over the face, I suppose it is customary to hide said face.

Now, lets come full circle back to the beginning.  So we have the huge release of a whole new line of products for n00bs and such, with yet more buids and powers and all that jazz.  Based on my experience playing with a 48 year old pseudo-homeless greek alcoholic, a cross country drifter who teaches Tai-Chi, and a Sonoma state university economics major.  It took less than two hours to teach them enough about the game for them to realize how it all worked - and crave a new set of characters.  By the second game, they were using teamwork to combo-up.

I guess where I am going, is that IMO, the essentials line is completely redundant and unnecessary to 4E.  Why those resources couldn't have been used to hire a couple of additional programmers is beyond my ken.  I imagine that this is someones baby, and it WILL see the light of day at any cost...market or not.  Gotta love small business politics.

To recap and simplify:

Release finished products please.
Quit wasting our time and limited money on redundant supplements.
Invest in the future, seasonal layoffs?  What are you f*cking Wal-Mart?
Deliver my Gorram adventure tools.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my ranting.  Until next my motivation peaks - I'm forgetting something...oh yeah.  Bill Slavicsek is a cheese weasel. 

Jun 21, 2010

Bloody gaping wounded sockets on my splash screen.

Lately there hasn't been much gaming going on, and with other obligations promising to extend that particular state of affairs until the second week of July (fingers crossed!), it's been tough.

I actually did a bit of a whirlwind roundup of the current state of affairs, and was impressed.  It was Antioch that got my proverbial "greenish ichor that churns like curdled milk through my cold black heart" pumping again.  In fact, I got really pissed the other day about it, and after remembering it over at points lf light I came to a realization.

I Love my DDI.  Seriously, it is awesome.  Every #$%%$# time I open it up I inevitable spend three hours making characters I will never have enough evil unlife to play.  So with this revelation, I realized where my anger and annoyance was stemming from.  It was the things I wanted to spend the "other" 21 hours of the day doing.  I speak of the horrible and gaping empty holes in my adventure tools splash screen.  I speak of my @##$# missing DM Tools.

I want to drag and drop monsters from adventure tools into an encounter manager, and print a beautiful stat block with lore, pictures (low res will do), and errata.  I want to click a button and auto-generate a treasure appropriate - and arm the beast(s) with said items when applicable.

I want a community tab with a (Dare i say it) a Facebook-esque social networking scene that will help me fill holes in my group or find a new one.  Basically I want my DDI to be steam for Dungeons and Dragons.

What I have is a beautiful, well managed character builder, and a well updated monster database nearly ruined by a clunky and unfriendly interface that takes 3 minutes to load, and still crashes if I need to window out and check my yahoo group email.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  I'm not angry, I'm annoyed.  I see clearly what "could" be, and see no progress even towards where we were "supposed" to be.  And yes, that is a dig on the virtual tabletop.

Ugh.  At least they are bringing back Dark Sun.  That has actually made my evil glands tingle rather pleasantly.  Unlike most of my group, I'm old enough to remember what it was like to kill a party with a silt horor :)

I want spelljammer as the next campaign world.  World peace too...and hammer pants, those things were as confortable as they were ugly.  Until I get one or the other - that is a decent set of DMing tools or a Spelljammer campaign world, I am going to say mean things about WotC staff on the internet.  This is how I got over being mad, and I encourage anyone else who feels similarly to save a little wear and tear on the 'ole ticker, and just ask - followed by threat of internet slander.

After all, it seems to have worked for everyone who wanted more fluff in their crunchy stat-O's.  Yes it's a DDI article, I assume if you are here reading even marginally 4E content, you have a basic account.

So, to start - Mike Mearls poops candied apples.  Let the chips fall where they may.

Mar 12, 2010

Heroic surges?..Hero points?..Willpower points?..My god, ANYTHING but healing surges!!

Not too terribly long ago - at least in dog years, I wrote about healing surges and a houserule that I have been using to make them more useful.  I wanted to follow up for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it seems that between PM's and comments, it was a well-recieved idea.  Secondly, I thought I'd share my thoughts on how it has continued to evolve.  Lasty, because if I write healing surge enought times, someone from WotC will find this and consider going back in time to change healing surges to something that doesn't make me cringe mid-game.  Anyone else not elated over the choice of words?  It's bothered me since release - but I digress.

Since that post, I have played 3 games, and ran two.  As I don't think I've ever actually said it in the last 135 posts, I am involved in two 4E games.  I run a generic encounter and event based game with 4-6 good friends.  I play an Eladrin War wizard/Battlemage 13.  We get together opposite weekends and play 4-6 hour games.  Mine has been running since release, and Sam's game about 6 months.  Those are my credentials (so to speak) take 'em or leave 'em.

As a DM, I've been in the position to watch this houserules useage pretty closely, and based on my (admittedly amateur) reckoning, it generally increases the party's firepower by about a level - n + 1 if I read their mathtalk correctly :) 

This is expressed in two ways, the first is the immediate amount of firepower that can be brought to bear.  A player with 7 healing surges can recharge two dailies, or three encounter powers between extended rests.  This would seem to really have an effect on the actual gameplay, and in practice is a profound positive.  I have yet to see the party crash more than three consecutive encounters (and even that was only once), with the norm being two.  This allows for a nice concentration of firepower in these what, 2.125 or so encounters?  Please indulge me a slight diversion - Monsters have too many hit points! - Thank you. 

This has made the game infinitely more playable for us.  Not only does the party do more damage per encounter - which REALLY helps with brutes and elites, but they are a "little" more inclined to not horde their dailies.  Please forgive another slight diversion - Anyone else have problems with stingy players causing encounters to grind on.  Specifically because they don't nova off their encounters, and rarely use their dailies? - Thank you.

Now...it's not all pie and ice-cream.  With the mechanics built the way they are, some classes - the Paladin and cleric come to mind seem to be at a disadvantage, as they use their own healing surges with some of their powers.  Having no cleric in either game, and a newbie paladin in the other, I havent been able to test it out yet.

The other drawback is the obvious, in my game, I've noted an average use of 3.4 healing surges per encounter, with lows of 0, and a few spikes of 6-8.  This is over 29 sessions.  In fact it was these "leftovers" that caused me to trudge down this path to begin with.  This would make it fairly obvious that resource management is still absolutely essential in a combat encounter.  In other words, to much pew-pew make hero dead.

I intend to keep this rule in effect, as well as an active version of Jonathon Jacob's Powers of war ability from his excellent series of skill challenges.  This one allows a bonus to skill rolls by spending healing surges.  In my humble opinion, allowing more options with a common and somewhat limited resource is just one more dimension of cool in one of my favorite hobbies :)

To aforementioned WotC employee, I am available, work cheap, and telecommute (you save on office space!) As a special bonus, I will burn down a games workshop retailer of your choice (in the continental US). 

In other news, I am fucking ecstatic about 4E gamma world.  I'm spazzing right now, which is scary when you're as big as I am.  Alpha omega is beautiful - and complicated.  And where in the hell have I been?  Battletech is being re-released in both tabletop and video game forms.  These are good times to be a geek, good times indeed.

Thank you for the compliments on the "redesign".  My crude and amateurish hack-job on the template's code seem to have finally gotten me when I wanted to be.  Until next time, have fun, game well, and be excellent to each other.

Mar 11, 2010

Only the truly intelligent can grasp the immensity of their own ignorance...or now I know why I thought I was abandoned.

So...my humble pie is rather delicious, I offer a short story to illustrate how it was prepared and brought before me...

So a month or two ago, I noticed that I had been abandoned.  Yup, abandoned.  You, my readers had left me in droves.  Strangely, my followers list continued to grow, but none of you were commenting anymore.  That made me one saaaaaad dungeon master.  So fast forward a little, as I try an peer through my unemployment beard, and I notice some kind of odd error with my blog - stupid widgets disappearing when I scroll past a certain point.  Extremely annoying.  I change my template - which seems to have fixed the problem, and notice that I had turned my comment moderation on...and forgotten about it...so now I am eating my dumbass flavored pie and see that I am still loved :)

Even though none of you actually left, let me still say that you were missed :)

So...open question.  Is 4E beginning to creep too much?  I only say this, because it appears that we are rapidly heading in the direction of too many builds for too many classes.  Seriously, WotC - PLEASE SLOW DOWN A LITTLE.  I am no longer buying books because I can't keep up.  Simpler system or no, you are rapidly filling the punchbowl faster than we can drink it up.  I don't think I need to tell you where that will inevitably lead.  I get the whole "evolution of a ruleset" idea, but as time goes by, it is going to be a repeat of the past...More campaigns, less new rules please.

And another thing, what in the hell ever happened to adventure tools?  Not a peep in ages about any of the other add-ons that were such a huge part of the release.  I know, I know, I get that you have scaled back your plans a bit, but still...not even an update?

I'm not going to hold my breath while waiting for a response, nor do I really expect one.  I just had to talk about it to someone who isn't obligated to agree with me on pain of death - it's a DM thing.

Until next time - game well, and be excellent to each other.

Feb 4, 2010

The things DM's don't say.

Alternately titled:  Growing a beard and becoming an unemployed shut-in who laughs too much :)

Want to plan ahead, want to keep a ready reserve of different deat-adventures and encounters ready for a moment's notice.  Perfect, spent 3 hours putting this chain together...of course they just portal travelled to another continent...it's not like they knew about the awesome treasure you put in there...great, okay, use same encounters - make them all asian, that's exotic, right?  Need more soda, I wonder why if this stuff has caffeine, I'm still yawning...Roll, roll, pontificate, NATURAL 20!!, SUCK IT BITCHES!!  Why do I keep thinking that?  F*cking internet.  Dammit, wife annoyed.  Kids screaming, gamer's yakking, why do I bother?  JOY!  Drowned fighter in pit of sewage!  That's why I do this :)  What time is it?  Where's the pizza?  Wife would look hot as an elf...How many goblins did I have in this fight?  Dammit, wasn't enough.  Why are these tools ending the encounter with all of their encounter powers?  Why won't this stupid breath weapon recharge?  How many natural 1's can one dice monkey roll in a day!? (edit: 19, go f*cking figure).

BREAK!  DINNER!  Who cleans up after these people when I'm not here?  Geez, I'm glad you like the pizza, got that 10 bucks you owe for the last 3?  Of course it's no problem, you swine.  If I think that the girls in avatar were hot, am I a furry?    God I hope not, my ass is too big for cosplay.  My god the SCA attracts OCD types.  I wanna play D&D with porn stars too...Or do I?  Save that one for later.  Why does the battlemat look nothing like my cheat sheet?  Who drew this F*cking thing?  I want to kill another PC...it's not like they wont raise him :)

Yeah right you rolled a 15, thet odds of three of those in a row are off the charts, roll on the table plz.  Wife would look good dressed as a witch...ooooh....INITIATIVE!  confusion, all speaking at once...numbers...first.  Ouch, these guys are good.  Treasure!  Sorry, it's what I randomly rolled up, and I realize it is completely useless to every member of the party - it's either random or not.  How much would 40,000 gold coins actually weigh?  Imagine chump PC's lugging around 11 200lb gunny sacks full of clanging gold coins :)  Dammit, didn't think of that, please don't notic-dammit.  Fine, cakewalk - SECOND WAVE (weakness fixed, hehehe) Yes, it IS a motherf*cking dragon in this motherf*cking dungeon.  God, will I ever get a chance to say that out loud?

Tired, this must be what being an actor is like.  More pizza.  Will these nat 1's ever end? (edit - no)  Sorry, thats what you get for wandering off alone :)  yes, it's broken.  Maybe, no I don't know what residuum smells like?  No you can't eat any.  Gonna be edgy and have a non-dwarf blacksmith.  Does an 18 CHA make you hot even covered with drying shit and blood?  What about the three-weeks-on-the-road cornchip smell?  ewwww.  I hate cornchips.  Wife mad again.  Kids crying again.  Wife would look good smeared with battle deitrus...

Too many dice.  Not enough pencils.  Need more minis.  Need job.  REBOOT!  Where was I...Orcs.  Yes, it's a surprise round.  No, you are surprised.  Why were you suddenly paying such close attention?  He doesn't know that I am willing the orcs to be in desperate need of a halfling sodomy doll.  God that's evil.  I don't want to be a halfling.  Or a sodomy doll.  MOVING ON.  Damn wizards.  Try some elites!  Damned paladin.  Try a solo!  Damned warlord.

That's it folks.  Good night, great game.  got to calc XP and treasure.  need to plan for next weekend.  Got to write review for Jonathon.  Need to write blog post.  Need to clean mess.  Need to buy tinkerbell costume for wife.  Need to find job.  want new books.  Glad I prepaid DDI.  OUCH!  Stupid mini on the floor.  Do I get xp for killing lizard men?  Why do I do this again?  Why does everyone have a health and mana bar above their heads?  I think if dragons really existed they would be as much fun as a musty bag of dicks.  At least they would be if I was their DM.




My own personal thoughts as they happened, more or less.  Feel free to add a stanza to the things DM's don't say, otherwise stay nerdy :)

Jan 20, 2010

An update, as well as some thoughts about healing surges.

So after an excellent two weekends of hosting and playing, I finally feel like I have something to talk about.  I actually had a draft written up on this topic, but was unable to connect all of the dots until now, so I'll just start over.

In the game I am currently running (hit lvl.8 at last session), I have been using a houserule allowing players to spend healing surges to do a limited number of additional things.  This was an extension of the Skill Challenge option that were developed at the Core Mechanic.  After seeing how he used powers as just that:  Power to be channelled in a (hopefully) useful manner, I was inspired to expand upon that.

In combat, healing surges have a very limited scope of useage.  A small subset of creatures have attacks that directly target them (yes undead, I'm looking at you), their only other real utility is to heal oneself.  Once by yourself, and once or twice more through the intervention of party members.  Potions come to mind, but are terribly limited in their power as well.  As an aside, does anyone every REALLY use healing potions in heroic tier?

Moving on, I decided to allow players to sacrifice healing surges to recharge a wide variety of different "things".  The list looks a little like this:

Encounter power - 2 surges
Daily power - 4 surges
Magic item power (Encounter) - 1 surge
Magic item power (Daily) - 3 surges
Action point - 3 surges
+2 bonus to any roll - 1 surge ea.

I'd like share what 10 sessions look like from the driver's seat.  Battles go much more smoothly.  We have rarely had an elite or solo encounter go on for long, and that was usually a function of high defenses, as the blows that landed were staggering.

Considering that healing surges recharge on a short rest (read - encounter based) frequency, I like to think of it as 4E overdrive :)  In practice, only one character ever actually nova's off every encounter.  It's the striker, he likes hurting things - go figure.  I still have a hard time getting players to pound out their encounter powers.  Aside from the warlock, most players still end the encounter with half of their surges intact.

I'm still evaluating it, but haven't had any real issues yet.  I would like to say that the encounter power, action point, daily power, sac 3 surges, daily combination is a straight up slayer of elites.  Seeing the look on the player's faces when they dump 45-80 points of damage and bloody an obviously bad-ass critter makes all the rules lawyering I have to endure worthwhile.

So how about you folks?  Any similar or otherwise noteworthy houserules you are using?  If I get enough decent ones :)  I'll follow up and run them all through the ringer. 

As an aside, I'm looking to run a valentines game using Nevermet Press's excellent The Desire.  I have some quibbles, but if this is indicative of their line, I'm all in.  Until next time, game well :)

Jan 8, 2010

Well then, that was certainly a fun little vacation...

Greetings, readers!  I know, long time no see and all that :)  Needless to say, for now, I'm back.  As previously stated, I got laid off from my cushy and supposedly safe government job.  After spenind the last week wallowing in self pity and "what now" bullshitology, I have reached an inner plateau of zen that has allowed me to come back and bore you all to tears with my RPG blathering.

Since we last spoke (of anything containing ANY relevance whatsoever) I was lamenting the state of affairs I had brought upon myself by ad-libbing my way through the PYRAMID OF SHADOWS.   Since then, the party made their choice, and chose to ally with the rather unsavory Gharash Veng to dispose of the dragon.

As leaving the dry-erase on the mat for long periods of time seems to cause unremoveable stains, I decided that it gets erased every time we wrap for the day - and is redrawn according to the events that occurred in the last game.  As a magical pseudo-quasi-pocket dimension, I decided that it periodically changes to reflect the power of the denizens within it.  As such, when they completed the first mission (kill, fetch and carry) for the beast, it's power was increased, and it's digs got bigger and more complex.  Simple, eh?

So they go blundering into a newly remodelled white dragon's lair, they immediately noticed that there was a large water element now.  Frozen, slushy water that gently lapped at the edges of the ice crusted stone walkways that crisscrossed over it.  In the rear, the dragon's horde - unprotected!  They wisely chose to allow Gharash and his thugs to go in first.

Yeah, you guessed it.  The Dragon was under the water :)  He surfaced and blasted the would be heroes with his icy breath, following it up with some good old fashioned flesh rending.  This theme would repeat itself throughout the battle.  The dragon would submerge, and a horde of ice-zombies would clamber up from the slush and attack (minions, anybody?)  This worked out well, and allowed me to stay a half step ahead of the party before they decided to go all "nova" on me and busted out with a half-dozen dailies to turn the tide.

In the end, they defeated the great beast, and claimed some awesome treasure in the process.  Special thanks to Asmor's Quartermaster for making the once tedious process smooth and simple.  So now, we left them gazing upon the headless body of Varyliss (sp?) and usure of what to do next.  Great stuff :)

Yes, that really is all I've been up to.  Wasted a ton of time going to union meetings, writing appeals and such, as well as just feeling useless and doing nothing.  I'm good now, but as you no doubt may have noticed, it's been tough trying to keep things running smoothly around here.  Tell me, dear and venerated readers, why do you come here?  What do you enjoy about this little nook here?  I'm genuinely curious, and want to re-connect with my readers, so I can start planning ahead.  With all this time I'll have on my hands in the immediate future, it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

As for the future, I am writing a pretty long critique of Nevermet presses "The Desire".  While it is late, I have been savoring it (both it's goods and bads) and will be espousing that in the next week.  Until then, game well and look around at what you have - and appreciate it for what it is :)