Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Editions and Old Fans

The announcement of the upcoming 6th Edition of the Hero System got me to thinking about the process that goes into conceiving and producing a new edition of a game system (especially a well-established and popular one).  From reading the Discussion Forums about the new edition of Hero, it looks like there is a fair amount of dialog about exactly what to change and how extensive those changes should be.  It's very interesting stuff to read.

Many games that were recently updated, including the 4th Editions of Shadowrun and Dungeons & Dragons, made significant changes from previous editions.  The 5th Edition of HackMaster also looks like it will be a pretty big departure from the previous edition (some of that by necessity I understand).  I know the case of D&D is a fairly unique one, but I wonder how dangerous it is for the average game company to make such a radical change in an established game.  How many new players are gained versus how many old fans are driven away?  Can the new edition of a game sink an established property?

Also, it looks like many new editions are produced in order to 'streamline' and 'clean up' an older edition.  Is this what the average RPG player wants?  I ask because, although I have been a fan of Champions and the Hero System since the early '80's, I have to admit that I wouldn't mind a version that requires a little less calculator work.  But is this what most Hero fans want?  Enquiring minds want to know....

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Review of Knights of the Dinner Table #149

Wow. I can't believe Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) magazine has almost reached issue #150! I started reading with issue #38 and the magazine has only gotten bigger and better. In fact, it's (at lease that I am aware of) the ONLY 'general purpose' gaming magazine left.

If you haven't ever read KoDT or haven't read in a long time, you might be interested to know that, while the general format and content have remained the same for quite awhile, there have been some tweaks. The layout is slightly different and some features have been removed and others added. It also looks like the fonts have been altered. All in all, I am pleased with the changes. The magazine is clean looking and easy to read. Now, onto the contents of issue #149.

This issue has seven strips. You have the Knights of course, the continuing saga around Hard 8, and the Black Hands continue their CattlePunk Campaign. I won't spoiler any of the particulars. but there is a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of the last strip, which I assume will be resolved in issue #150.*

*UPDATE: One of the editors over at KoDT (Barbara Blackburn) let me know that issue #150 will have a bushel basket of one-shot strips.  We will have to wait until issue #151 for the resolution of the cliffhanger from this issue...

As far as the rest of the issue's contents, I thought they were a mixed bag - and that's a good thing. While I never like every article in an issue of KoDT, I almost always like at least some of them. In this issue, forinstance, I really enjoyed the Web Scryer. It has a healthy dose of internet resources for the World of Darkness. I am thinking about working on a Vampire: The Dark Ages campaign at some point and so that information is useful to me. On the other hand, I have no desire to game in the universe of Quentin Tarantino and so Gaming the Movies held little interest for me. The regulars are all here too, including Bait & Tackle, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, and Lost Game Safari. You even get a complete fantasy d20 adventure; Tomb of the Frost Kings.

I really like Knights of the Dinner Table. The strips are always entertaining and every issue has at least some content that is interesting and/or useful to me. If you aren't reading it or haven't read it in a long time, I would recommend picking up. And don't miss issue #150. It contains a free copy of DAWG: the Role-Playing Game - hoody-hoo!

I nearly forgot.  If you are interesting in more info about issue #149 or if you don't have a FLGS and want to pick this issue up, click HERE for a link to its product page on the Kenzer & Company website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ok That Tears It - 4E and I are Done!

I came to the stunning realization today that in 4E even an ADULT red dragon can't take down a lowly 3rd level fighter by breathing on him - even with a good damage roll. I could care less about the design decisions behind this. The fact just sticks in my craw. The game is called Dungeons & DRAGONS after all

Time to eBay my 4E books. I just wish that I hadn't gotten rid of all my 3.5 books, except for my Player's Handbook. Most of them are wicked expensive on the secondary market. *SIGH*

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Thoughts About 4E

I have really been thinking hard about 4E and I stumbled across THIS post on Unnatural20 that neatly sums up some of my issues with the game. Namely that combat encounters grind on way too long and that there is a certain 'sameness' to all the character classes because of the powers system.

Do I think 4E is a bad game? No. I just think it might not be the game for me. so, if not 4E, what should I be playing? 2nd Edition AD&D? 3.5 D&D? HARP? Something else? I just don't know right now...

Monday, March 23, 2009

D&D Game Day: 4E and I May be Done

I want to say thanks to everyone that turned out for my 4E game at Games Plus this Saturday. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I have to say that as for me, however, I left the game feeling somewhat disillusioned about what 4E D&D has to offer.

What really did me in was the fact that the first encounter took over TWO HOURS to complete! I know that four of the five players were new to 4E and the characters were 9th level - but that's ridiculous. I don't think the players took excessive time to choose their actions and the game flow was ok. It just took way too long to grind the monsters down. The second encounter was not as bad, but I made a stupid error when I forgot the beholder's aura. We never got to the third encounter.

I am definitely going to take some time to mull this episode over and try to decide whether or not I am going to sink any more time and money into 4E. I play roleplaying games because they are FUN and based on the amount of time that I put into preparing and running the game Saturday, I can't say I got much fun in return for my investment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Modern Appendix N Reading List

I stumbled on an interested thread over at ENWorld that mentions creating a modern updated reading list similar to the one Gary Gygax included in Appendix N of the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. I think that's a great idea! I can see lots of possible candidates, including Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company series, George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books and a lot more. What books would you include? Comment up with your choices.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dungeon Delve: First Impressions

Had a chance to read a bit of Dungeon Delve last night. Adversarial DMing... D&D as boardgame... Tool for learning to DM... One-shots... Con games... Side treks... Interesting stuff indeed. More in-depth review to come.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Unsheath Your SORD!

I run a very occasional 3.5 D&D game for some old buddies of mine in Macon, GA. While preparing for my next session, I picked up a copy of SORD version 1.4 from DriveThruRPG. If you haven't seen it, SORD is basically a big 34-page PDF full of charts, tables and cheat sheets for running a game of 3.5 D&D.

While that may sound boring, it looks like a FANTASTIC way to speed up a game. The PDF is colorful, laid out well and chock full of content. I can't wait to use it for my next session. I believe it was a $1.95 well spent...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Some Pics of Counter Collection 4th Edition Heroic 1

I did purchase and download Counter Collection 4th Edition Heroic 1 yesterday as part of the GM's Day Sale at DriveThruRPG. I also managed to find the time to print out and mount some of the counters. Below are a few shots of my handiwork. NOTE: the tile pictured is NOT part of the set. I just used it for 'set dressing' to see how the counters would look on the tabletop.

The counters are pretty neat. The art is slightly 'cartoony', but does a good job of representing each 'heroic tier' creature found in the 4th Edition D&D Monster Manual. I also like the little spot on the counter for writing a number. Very useful for keeping track of that horde of minions.

I mounted mine on plain old pasteboard box style cardboard. This seemed to work out pretty well. The tiles are light, but thick enough to pick up easily.

If you are looking for a cheap and attractive source of counters for your 4E game, i recommend that you check Counter Collection 4th Edition Heroic 1 out. I am very pleased with my purchase. And the price was right!

UPDATE: For those of you that would prefer the convenience of a pre-printed version, Jason of Fiery Dragon Enterprises reminded me that they now offer a boxed version of the 4E counters that are already diecut for your convenience. Check them out HERE.

Monday, March 02, 2009

GM's Day Sale at DriveThruRPG

I am excited about the GM's Day Sale at DriveThruRPG. There is so much to choose from, but I definitely think that I am going to buy Counter Collection 4th Edition Heroic 1. I have used counters in several 4E games and they make for a great portable alternative to minis.

Now I just have to figure out the best thing to print them on. I might try packing box cardboard or foamcore. Time to download...