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Archive for July, 2012

I finally found a way to do it. It wasn’t easy though. It took a lot of skill, charm, and ruthless determination, but I managed to win at D&D. While I was in San Diego at the Comic Con I fought my way through the seething masses (40,000 + a day) to the ballroom hosting rpg play. It was slim pickings with only D&D 4th Edition and Pathfinder being offered, but none the less the place was packed. On the D&D side of things they were offering LFR mods, learn to play with the red box, and 1 hour delves. It was the later that scratched my itch as I found out you could earn points based on team performance that could be traded in for loot. Basically you earned points for monsters killed and encounters completed within the hour time limit. As I lazily scanned the loot table my eyes popped out of my head like some cartoon character getting a glimpse of Bugs Bunny in drag (on a side note does anyone else see that as an erection metaphor or is that just me and my juvenile default to cock?) as I spotted the condition cards. Now the thing is you can’t actually buy these things anywhere as they were originally created as DM rewards back in the day, trust me I have tired. This always seemed strange to me given the prevalence of conditions in the game and a little bit of ball dropping or fondling on WoTC’s part, particularly since the other more popular and better looking half of the company is a card making machine. The great thing about these cards is the awesome artwork on each one depicting and action scene in which said condition is being applied.

When my friend and I sat down at the table we were joined by the standard motley crew, the type of cat that frequents the dark corners of cons, you know a real nerds nerd. With so much riding on the outcome I needed to take stock of the situation and see what kind of hand I had been dealt. I was a little worried when 2 of the players turned out to be relative noobs. That left my sidekick (who I have personally trained in the ways of the 4th edition) and a young dude who said his group stuck with 3.5. He was wearing a paper Magic the Gathering crown and spoke with a little too much denial so I had a hunch he was sandbagging. Something needed to be done as I had a horrific vision of my precious condition cards slowly tumbling from my hands. So I took charge. I quickly and nonchalantly put forth the treatise on focused fire and subtly maneuvered myself into one of the striker pre-gens. What followed was the worst display of bossy boots I have ever witnessed at a gaming table. I was all over the place with “helpful hints, reminders and suggestions”. It was slightly shameful but as the final seconds ticked down and the BBEG fell like a sac of doorknobs I knew I had achieved my goal; I had won at D&D. When the volunteer placed those cards in my hand I felt like Robert Duval in Apocalypse Now as he surveyed the napalmed beach and heard his voice echo in my head  “it smells like..victory”.

So that’s it for this week. I will probably post more about the comic con next time with some pictures when I am back into the non-vacation routine.

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Gone Geekin’

That’s right; I am off for a little undeserved R&R at one of the holist of holies in the religion that is nerd.   Mrs Middle-Aged DM, the generous and ever forgiving soul that she is, surprised me at Christmas with a trip for myself and a friend to the San Diego Comic Con. Is that not an awesome wife or what? She is literally too good to be true.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of Karmic debt she must owe the universe from a past life to get saddled with such a curmudgeonly misanthropic asshole like myself.

I have such a fondness for comic cons, despite the sensation of being awash in a smelly sea of humanity, which dates back to high school when I first began attending them. They weren’t as grand with all the pageantry as they are today, but more understated in that seedy, shameful, back alley porn shop way.  None the less I often couldn’t contain my excitement as I poured over a hand written list of back issues needed to fill out the collection. Would it be McFarlane’s run on Amazing Spiderman this time or the Hulk’s stint as Joe Fixit? Sometimes it was the cool bootleg shit you could pick up like the time I was able to snag a VHS copy of the long rumoured but, at that point, never released Punisher movie starring Dolph Lundgren.

The title of this post is somewhat inspired by the Evil GM’s latest offering. You should stroll over and check out his cool blog and let him know what you want him to write about.  I am kind of partial to his class discussions, monster creations, and critical analysis of WOTC’s design processes. In a similar yet more fitting vein you should also leave a comment here letting me know what you think I have no business ever rewriting about again 😉

Sometime during the con I plan to saunter over to the gaming area and see what kind of trouble I can get myself into. Maybe I will try something new or something I haven’t played in a long time, so if you are attending the Con and want to roll some bones drop a line and we can storm the gates together.

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I don’t think I am the best DM. Don’t get me wrong I think I run an enjoyable game that people seem to like but there are some limitations or gaps in my toolkit if you will. I have never been that guy that can create an immersive homebrew setting filled with a rich tapestry of culture, people, and Machiavellian plots. Given my extensive nerd studies, consisting of pouring over tomes and tomes of fantasy literature, I am really better at world pilfering than world building. My games are also not super serious, although I try and get a mix of the serious and humor. I think this is, in part, a reflection of how I shuffle through this world with a sardonic glint in my eye and a fondness for dick and fart jokes.

What I have done since I got back into RPG’s and running games has been to exercise some of these weaker DM muscles, sort of like nerd pumping iron. In my 4th edition games I am trying to be more flexible and encouraging of the players to narrate actions and do interesting things irregardless of the rule system. Often I don’t’ even ask for a skill check or roll and just try and get them to describe what happens. This also expands into story aspects as well, with more sand boxy elements and brief forays into collaborative story telling. With the latter it’s kind of funny how jarring it can be to the players if they are not used to it and can make for some unpredictable and hilarious moments like what led to the title of this post.

It’s the second session of the Dark Sun game and I needed to introduce a character that was absent from the first session. He is playing a Tarek (aka a Half-Orc) hiring himself out for jobs that target the Sorcerer Kings infrastructure. We decided to have him apprehended and sold into slavery after torturing and gutting a Templar for secret information desired by his veiled alliance employers.  So the party was able to spring Targ-Ugu and squire him back to Iman Fasile (ex-gladiator, tapas joint operator, and veiled alliance contact) with only minor bumps and bruises  🙂 then the moment of truth came, Iman, in his gravelly voice asks “so what was the message?”. At which point there was dead silence, followed by some humming and hawing, and then a voice chirped up over skype “Pork Swords”. I was like Pork Swords, really like WTF, but good old Iman didn’t miss a beat, he was all “holy shit that sounds terrible…this is bad news bears….this sounds petty bad, what do you think it means?…It sounds terrible, that’s gotta be some kind of code right?

Did I mention my fondness for dick and fart jokes? Well I guess you do reap what you sow sometimes. So now I gotta figure out how to work “Pork Swords” into some kind of grand Templar scheme…any ideas?

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