Monday, November 28, 2011

You know you've hit the big time...

I got my first referral from a spam url!, I hope you get lots of business from the huge crossover crowd that I'm sure exists between the role playing game community and those in desperate need of dental implants!

This post is for you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gamma World... Is Here! video edition

This octopus walks on land!!!

This jewel wasp turns a cockroach into a zombie which incubates a wasp egg

Giant Centipede vs. Snake - FIGHT!

xkcd shows us the money

This has absolutely nothing to do with roleplaying, but I have to say that I am simply flabbergasted at this.  I'm a huge fan of xkcd anyways, but this... this takes it to another level.  Do yourself a favor and click ze link

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gamma World... Is Here! cont'd

Seriously, why are we playing games??!!  Fact is stranger than fiction*!!!
*unless you count landsharks.  That's pretty weird.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Savage Worlds Presents... The Brain That Wouldn't Die!!!!!

I played Savage Worlds for the first time last night, and I have to say, it was quite enjoyable.  Having no idea what I was doing, I decided to keep it simple and design a specialized character based on a strong, simple concept.  We were playing the Superhero variant of the game, and thus was born The Brain.  The Brain began life as one Joe Smith, an average fellow who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was struck by a bus and lapsed into a coma.  His friends gathered at his bedside in the hospital, and were all affected by whatever it was that gave them superpowers.  Joe Smith as a person was lost, as Joe Smith's brain became self aware as it's own organism.  The Brain had the powers of Flight, Mind Control, Telekenesis and Heightened Awareness.  Rising from it's bed, the Brain was disgusted to find that it was tied to a body, which it refers to as, "The Husk" and is, unfortunately, necessary to it's continued survival.  So essentially the Brain floats around, dragging the body which it looks at as an unfortunately necessary life support system.  Still wearing the hospital gown (open at the back, of course), and with IV tubes still dangling from its arms, the Brain set off with it's companions to rob a Seven Eleven, and then a Bank, killing and maiming as they went (yeah, so we didn't actually turn out as "superheroes" in the most literal sense of the word).  The Brain's forte turned out to be controlling other people, which it did with aplomb, until it encountered a pair heroes affiliated with the local chapter of this world's equivalent to the Justice League and their psychic backup.  The team of villains has retreated with several thousand dollars, or several hundred thousand dollars (we haven't counted it yet) to plan their next step towards world domination.

As far as the system goes, I really liked the inventiveness of the "exploding" dice routine, which made for some truly remarkable situations.  There didn't seem to be a sense of scaling - we were fighting schmoos that were knocked over by a stiff breeze until we were fighting gods that were impervious to... well... just about everything.  I have a feeling that was more situational that system related, though.  My only real system criticism was that using the cards for initiative seemed somewhat... gimmicky, and didn't seem to add anything to the game.

Overall a very fun night, though.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh 2e, how do I love thee, let me count the ways...

In addition to starting character creation for Ark's Stars Without Number game, we cracked the books and started building characters for an upcoming 2e game that I'm about to start running.  I was born into this world of Dungeons and Dragons in the time of 2e, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.  Which is unfortunate, because it's grown up to be the redheaded stepchild of the D&D community.  Not old school enough for the grognards, but too old fashioned for the Pathfinder generation.  Which is unfortunate, because it had some really great ideas.  I love non weapon proficiencies, and THAC0 just make sense to me.

Yes, as Ark reminded me (several times) the books were not laid out as well as they could have been, but that's more an impediment to getting started - once you move past that, of course the armor prices are on a different chart than their respective armor classes!

Anyway, I've got a great idea for a campaign, and I'm looking forward to running them through it.  The greatest joy of the night, though, was our resident powergamer trying to min/max his way out of fantastically average stats, finding out he had 4 hit points, and one spell that he could use once per day.  You are not a hero, you are not special.  You are a dude who picked up a sword.  Now go out into the world and make something of yourself!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's funny how the nature of a game can shape its goals.  In the original D&D, the purpose of the game is mainly survival for the first few levels.  You're no hero, you're just a schlub that happened to pick up a sword or a spellbook and stumble from adventure to adventure.  The mortality rate is shockingly high, so high that you wonder how desperate life must be in that world that adventuring is considered a viable career.  You start out with essentially no difference between your player and your character, and over time, you build the skills you need in order to become the person you want to be.  Over time, this evolved, to the point where in 4e, you begin the game as about the equivalent of a fourth or fifth level version of your 1e character, and build to godlike status as you go.  Correspondingly, the goalposts shift from mere survival to legendary quests.  It's sort of like how bank robberies, once the staple of comic books, have been replaced by near daily threats to the universe - that sort of thing just doesn't cut it for today's audience.  Going to the caves on the outskirts of town to find a lost child and bring them back isn't fit for a 1st level 4e character, unless there are firebreathing kobolds that have kidnapped them.

Not trying to turn this into an edition war post, just that as the game evolved, so did our expectations for what a game of D&D means.  4e being more combat heavy that previous editions, focuses all of it's powers on building the better kobold-killer, whereas I remember spells in 2e that were ludicrously useless, but added to the flavor.  I think that the NonWeapon Proficiencies were some of the greatest things ever introduced to the game, because it forced the characters to think about what their characters did when they weren't killing things.  I hope that when 5e comes around, they put some thought into that, and, now that they have devised an incredibly well balanced, finely tuned combat system, can turn to the role playing aspects of the game.

Move the expectations for a game of D&D beyond character advancement, bring them into the realm of character development!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Old School

Much is made of the whole "Old School Renaissance", and I am greatful for its existence.  I think that there is value in looking back on what came before, and not forgetting where you come from, so to speak.  I think it's important to look at things as they are, though. 

Near as I can tell, the "Old School" is representative more of a mindset than a system in particular, which makes the abundance of retroclones bewildering, to say the least.  Rules-light is attractive, but let's face it - some of the stuff that our forefathers abandoned was jettisoned for a reason - it didn't work the first time around. 

I play a Labyrinth Lord campaign, and I love it.  I enjoy the back to basics approach that forces me to rely on my wits rather than powers.  But there are things in it that just stick in my craw - the Charisma modifier doesn't change whether you've got a 13 or an 18, for instance.  The insane area of effect for the Entagle spell (80 ft in diameter!).  Using a chart to determine hits instead of THAC0.  That sort of stuff.

Yes, there were great things about the original games, and lord knows we wouldn't be here without them.  I'm all for us keeping that flame alive, and not marching blindly into the future of collectible cards and paid downloadable content.  But let's not forget why we left some of that stuff behind to begin with, huh?