Archive for May, 2012

Betcha thought this post was going to be about D&D Next…not yet it’s too soon, my thoughts are a maelstrom, I need to center myself. Until then please refer to this post by Mr. Morrison over at The Rhetorical Gamer as he appears to be some kind of thought thief, slipping into my bedroom as I lay sleeping  and dancing away with my thoughts and feelings.

I have finally settled on a game to run online and so I thought I would natter about it for a bit. I going all Dark Sun as there is just something about that setting that draws me to it. I recently finished Robert Schwalb’s Death Mark (it was excellent by the way –spoiler- someone gets their cock eaten by a Halfling) and downloaded the old Prism Pentad series by Troy Denning to my Kobo (kindle equivalent for you non-canucks out there) as primers.

I am structuring (a nicer way to say restricting) the game a little to keep with that Dark Sun goodness.  Playable races are limited to Human, Elf, Dwarf, Mull, Thri-Kreen, Eladrin, Goliath, Half-Elf, Halfling, Dragonborn, and Tiefling. I really hummed and hawed about the last two but given the way class and race interact in 4th edition not having them seemed a little overly punitive. Inherent bonuses are in and should cut down a little on the redonk twink factor. I am implementing a House Rule on rituals designed most excellently by Mr. Neuroglyph in order to encourage their use and give a little old school flavor.

I also codified a social contract for the game that will be passed out with the player materials:

“The single most important goal of the game is for it to be fun for everyone. All game decisions will be based on this goal. To quote Spock “the needs of the many out way the needs of the few, or the one….  I have been and ever shall be your friend”…..well mostly the first part. So if something becomes unfun for group we will strive to correct that. By all means bring your twinked up badass but if something becomes an issue and creates unfun then we will need to address it, after of course celebrating your mastery of the game and ability to reduce me to tears. This contact goes both ways, as if my DM’ing is so atrocious and oppressive that I need to be replaced in a bloody coup then so be it.”

I am also going to push myself a little on the DM side of things as I am going to try and wing it a little bit (once again slightly influenced by Mr. Rhetorical Gamer). I have been trying to jot down some NPC’s and anticipatory ideas, sort of how I might react to certain things, but I am going to try and work with what the players come up with..sort of…well as best I can given my meager skills and online medium. I am not going to lie to you It could end up being quite a train wreck.

I am about to start recruitment so if any of you out there in the interwebs want to throw some bones or just enjoy train wrecks let me know.


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The king is dead, long live the king. I just picked up my copy of Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook which appears to be the last print product that will contain 4th edition specific crunchy goodness. Everything else in the product catalogue seems to be edition neutral leading up to when D&D Next/5th edition/whatever arrives.

I also checked out this weeks Legends and Lore article by Mr. Mearls which gave me a bit of a chuckle. It was about healing and hit points in the next edition. They seemed to have tweaked healing surges and grognardishly re-named them Hit Dice as not to offend certain delicate sensibilities. This just makes me think that they’re so fucked in a dammed if you do and dammed you don’t manner.  So if you hated healing surges and martial healing with white hot nerd rage, well we did too that’s why we changed it do Hit Dice. What you loved healing surges and thought it was the greatest innovation in modern gamming, well us to that’s why these Hit Dice things are essentially just tweaked healing surges. As an aside, given that I am an honorry “Evil GM” I am all for anything that makes the pc’s less durable. I really just want the designers to say fuck it and stop trying to appease people on either side of the lines and just go balls deep and make the best game they can. Who cares if it implodes in a fiery mess and D&D gets shelved for a bit, dare to be Icarus and fly as close to the sun as you can. Stop getting input from all us jerk wads and neck beards, we can’t agree on crap anyways and there is never any real consensus except that everything is shit if it’s not what I want.

Anyways back to Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook. I haven’t given it a good read yet as I am gearing up for a Dark Sun game and have been voraciously consuming like material. I wanted to post about a really cool section of the book called Infamous Dungeons. The breakdown is that the authors detail several modules from the past editions of D&D. They give a breakdown of the module, ideas to continue the story, and then tie a few character themes to the module. I don’t know what it was but just seeing the pictures of those old modules made me geekasm a little.  I love the idea of continuing these adventures, now I just need them too painstakingly and in great detail show me how, as what was presented in the book was like that free first taste of smack that the dealer offers you.

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Well the MCAT is in the bag and I am ready to rise from the ashes of my rpg semi-sabbatical like a nerd phoenix. Hopefully I hit my targets and need not revisit the test but we’ll see. Whatever happens I feel a great sense of accomplishment in just “rolling the dice” and whatever happens happens, que sera sera and all. There was a young cat at the testing centre that I had taken the MCAT prep course with and we sort of sweated it out together. He was a little tense and I told him that there were greater disappointments to be had in this world than not getting into medical school. Life, death, love, family these are the big deals I said.

I know it is easy for me to say since I already have a doctorate and a career but it’s the truth none the less. I have seen a lot of people over the years that have “made it” so to speak and still weren’t happy and kind of hated what they were doing, me included. I came to realize how important having passion for what you do is. I understand that not everyone can chase their dreams or flights of fancy as sometimes you gotta put food on the table, but to those people I would encourage them to find something they are passionate about and do it balls deep. Freud wrote that the love and work are the two pillars of mental health; I would add hobbies as a third.

I recently read Kevin Smiths latest book “tough Shit: Life advice from a fat, lazy slob who did good” and I had to chuckle at the thematic similarities between our lives as he reflects on being a filmmaker and his decision to transition out of it and chase passion again. I have become a big fan of his over the years and I encourage anyone to check out not only his movies but his books, Q&A’s, and Podcasting Empire.

In the meantime the gaming world is my oyster so to speak and I am ready to jack things up or off or whatever.  Although I have to admit with such limitless options I am a little paralyzed with indecision. I think I am going to start up an online game again but what game/system or what setting? Should it be more 4E or pathfinder or Castle and Crusades or Star Wars or a supers game, see I just don’t know. Part of me is thinking about a game in Dark Sun as I just started reading Rob Schwalb’s new novel in that setting.

I am going to jack things back up in my home game as well. Just this evening I finished detailing some NPC’s and potential plot hooks in the wake of the last adventure arc. I also had this idea to sort of spice things up not only for the players benefit but for mine as well since we have been going at it with the same cast for the better part of 2 years. The players have some henchmen mostly consisting of gladiators they freed from slavery. So for a change of pace I am going to roll up some of these cats and have them play through side adventures as their henchmen doing stuff that the pc’s are far too important to waste time doing. This will give my players a chance to try different classes out. I was even toying with the idea of playing the henchmen with the Castles and Crusades rule set and running them through some of the classic 1st edition adventures like Hommlet or the slavers series. Alternatively I might put them through the 4th edition Village of Hommlet and have the henchmen uncover the rise of the cult of elemental evil which then the players main characters might need to go and curb stomp out.

So decisions, decisions, decisions…any thoughts?

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