Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Air Wars

January 7, 2011

I have no idea if this is anything like Car Wars, but it has a turning key and the preview scenario says something about customizing jets, so in my brain it’s Car Wars in the sky. I may be doing an injustice to someone by this. Either way: 3D papercraft jet models!

[4e] Solos and Big Bosses

September 27, 2010

In my tabletop game last week, the players got themselves into a situation where I needed to drop a dragon on them.  True to form for them, they’d gone and done something I wasn’t entirely expecting so I didn’t have the encounter prepped beyond knowing that it was an Adult Red with a Githyanki Sword Seeker riding it. I opened the MM1 to the page on Dragon, Red, Adult and the fight began.  Within a few rounds I realized there were serious problems here and that I needed to look at some of the Solo redesign philosophies that have come out in the 2.5 years since MM1. (more…)

Serpent’s Skull Conversion: Backgrounds

September 21, 2010

Mostly a thought exercise, but here are some D&D 4e conversion notes for the Serpent’s Skull Player’s Guide from Paizo. If you’re unfamiliar with the model: Paizo publishes a free introduction to each of their Adventure Paths. The Serpent’s Skull path has pirates, jungles, and Robin Laws fiction, so I’m all over that.

The bulk of the Player’s Guide is background and notes on why particular races or classes would be on this adventure. This needs no conversion. The interesting conversion bits are the Campaign Traits, which correspond roughly to 4e backgrounds. I say roughly because they are somewhat more immediate than 4e backgrounds — e.g., you can take Boarded in Cheliax, which says nothing about your background beyond where you got on the ship. Still, I think the 4e background rules still work well.

The Player’s Guide says that characters may take two campaign traits; in 4e, a player may take up to six backgrounds, but only one of them provides any mechanical benefits. That rule remains. The actual conversions follow the break.

Essential Reading: Heroes of the Fallen Lands pt 1

September 12, 2010

No idea how many  parts this will be. I’m just going to start going through the book and commenting on interesting things in a somewhat disorganized manner. I should note that I’m reading/writing this from the perspective of someone familiar with 4e but who hasn’t been obsessively keeping up with the previews and spoilers for Essentials.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin… (more…)

Shilling Q&A

August 18, 2010

If you read this you’ve probably already seen me shill this sucker somewhere else, but I’m not proud and we only need six more commitments before it becomes a real boy.

So: there’s this site called Stack Overflow, which is a place where programmers can ask and answer questions. Imagine Yahoo! Answers, but without all the ads and fourteen year olds who want to know where they can watch True Blood free streaming online. There’s a reputation system, so you can vote up good answers, and if you get enough reputation you get to be an editor, and so on. This all works surprisingly well.

I myself dig the sysadmin-oriented offshoot, Server Fault. There are a couple of other official sites in the family. There’s also been a lot of “hey, you should do a site for cooking/the English language/Zen gnosticism” talk, so they came up with a proposal/beta scheme for new sites, to make sure there’s enough support for any random proposal.

Stage two is the bit where a proposal needs to get 300 people who’re willing to say they’ll use the site. Stage three is beta! The roleplaying site is way close to stage three, so click on over, maybe take a look at those other links first to see if you like the way these sites work, and commit. It’ll be fun.

Race, Class, Theme

August 18, 2010

I am so far behind the curve I just noticed how Marxist it is to always be talking about D&D characters as products of race and class.

BUT that is not what I am here to talk about.  I am here to talk about THEME, the new pillar of D&D character creation introduced in the new Dark Sun campaign guide.  If you haven’t picked that up yet, then I will explain.  You pick a theme along with a race and a class; the theme is what your character did before they became a PC, a sort of super-background.  The Dark Sun book has ten themes, including Elemental Priest, Gladiator, Desert Nomad, and others.

What the theme actually consists of is a single encounter power you get for free, plus a bundle of additional power selection options.  For example, the Gladiator gets a weapon-based encounter exploit that hits vs. AC, does 2[W]+mod on a hit, and pushes the target two squares, plus the target and all enemies adjacent to it at the end of the push are slowed until the end of your next turn.  The Veiled Alliance theme (the Veiled Alliance is a secret conspiracy of wizards) gets an encounter spell, implement keyword, hits vs. will for 1d10+mod damage and you become invisible to the target until the end of your next turn, useful for escaping, which is just what a wizardly conspirator might want.

So: additional encounter power, generally an okay power but not insane.  This by itself is merely okay, but the theme also provides a menu of power choices for higher levels: for every power selection between 2 and 10, there’s an option.  So the Veiled Alliance theme has a level 2 utility spell, a level 3 encounter spell, and so on up to the level 10 utility spell, all of which offer some abilities based around the Veiled Alliance theme of using magic to hide.  All the themes have an associated role; the Veiled Alliance is controller, the Gladiator is a defender (Gladiator exploits mostly cause the foe to grant combat advantage, take penalties to hit, et cetera), and so on.

But there’s more!  First, there are feats that improve the theme’s powers, just like class feats, and there are paragon paths that build on (and require) the themes.  Way more substantially in terms of innovation, the themes’ attack powers are all keyed off of “primary ability.”  So a wizard gladiator uses Intelligence for that disrupting advance, the fighter veiled alliance member uses Strength for the temporary-invisibility spell, and so on — you aren’t locked into a subselection of themes based on your class.

There’s a bunch of different mechanics WotC has tried out over the 4e lifespan for a third leg to character creation: dragonmark feats, spellscars, “dhampir heritage,” the ‘poisoner,’ ‘bravo,’ ‘cutthroat’ semi-hemi-demi-multiclasses from that one Dragon article, and so on.  The theme mechanic is the best implementation of that concept I’ve seen so far (and it doesn’t consume feat slots).  I’m hoping to see a Big Book of Themes, or at least a series of Dragon articles.  Everything from the Factions in Planescape to the social organizations in Krynn to the dragonmarked houses in Eberron.  Not to mention more generic social roles, professions, education, military background… the list goes on and on.


August 9, 2010


DC Universe (cause I like the Green Ronin guys and it’s also M&M 3rd edition)
Apocalypse World (rarely does a lumpley game have nothing for me)
Parsley pack (been wanting this for a while, cheap amusement, $20)
Five sets of dice (2 sets of Chessex for each of me and Susan, one set of Gamescience for Susan)
Lots of Alea Tools magnets
Some miniatures


Peter Seckler’s Nixie Queen LFR My Realms adventure (one of three)
Two LFR specials for our paragon level characters (in your face, Ice Queen Iyraclea)


Ram (20 minute wait, not sure how we did that)
Alcatraz (way worse than previous years, boo soggy Reuben)
Buca (mmm, lots of Italian)
Steak ‘n Shake (tradition)
Cafe Patachou (seriously go here for breakfast)
the usual food court stuff

Chatted with:

Chris H. (too briefly)
Chris McG. (also too briefly)
Matthew G.

Missed sadly:

Ivan (BOO, I shoulda scheduled or something)
I’m sure tons of other people

Ah, Gencon, you are always about a week too short. No con crud this year, because we took lots of multi-vitamins and rested and drank a ton of water. We discovered rather late that the multi-vitamins had a coffee-cup sized dose of caffeine in each one. BUZZ.

“Hi, Billy Mays here for Dungeons & Dragons!”

July 29, 2010

My wife just saw a TV spot for this product, and thought it would be pretty useful for gaming. And by god, I think she might be right.


July 12, 2010

Great interview with James Tabor, who wrote a book about the world’s deepest caves. Like over a mile deep. This seems like it ought to be great dungeon inspiration; I’ll report back once I’ve finished the book.

Freebie Papercraft

July 7, 2010

If you want to try a free Dave Graffam model, he’s put his old Hovel up for download again. One sheet of paper, super-easy model.

%d bloggers like this: