Friday, August 31, 2007


I'm doing something I've never done before.

I have a sheet of hex graph paper. I am filling it with weird things, many of them generated randomly.

Things on the map include:
A clan of circus gnomes in rafts.
Three separate halflings traveling up the river in boats. The second one is named Sam "88 Keys" Clark.
An underwater ogre cave with a spyglass, a silver holy symbol, and an everburning torch. (That last item will make the cave easier to find, I think.)

I thought it would be nice to have a river, so I could put a village I was thinking about making on the river. I spent the next two hours coming up with weird things to be in the river.

Being the DM is fun.

Leader Niche

I like bards.

I've played two bards. One was fun to play, one wasn't--function of the group. (And the one that was fun to play kept her campaign log entirely in limerick.) But they were both frustrating.

I like clerics. I've played a bunch of clerics, all with varying degrees of crazy. (All my characters have varying degrees of crazy.) They were all more or less fun, but there were moments of frustration.

This article makes me happy.

On a related note: doesn't 4th edition combat look cool? And am I right in thinking that one of the characters is an eladrin ranger? And one's a warforged fighter. Are these both core player races now?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not Just Fourth Edition

If you're interested at all in 4th Edition, go check out Mike Mearls's forum blog. And the other 4th Edition staff forum blogs.

There's some good stuff in there, and not just about 4th edition. What really caught my eye was this piece on making dungeons "chunkier," that is, keying encounters to groups of rooms rather than single rooms. That way it's easier to keep track of what's going on in each room, and how they're interacting. Good advice, no matter what edition you're running.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Things That Should Not Be

They sell Transformers t-shirts at Hot Topic.

My world-view--nay, my very soul--trembles at the thought.

Mike Mearls Is All Over This

This new "Points of Light" implicit assumption in the 4th edition D&D setting? Heard it before. Those are all ideas from the first part of Iron Heroes setting chapter (more setting toolkit with example) rewritten to feature D&D trappings.

It's not a bad idea. In Iron Heroes, it's part of a package of features that establish the PCs as a few of the most important people around. Iron Heroes presents a world with little or no real order to it, and assumes that the players are among the few interested in and able to impose it.

It's not a bad way to handle big difference between D&D and the real world: adventurers. Yes, there's magic, but most settings tend to treat it like technology, and have it mostly controlled by guilds and the upper class. The presence of well-armed, socially mobile, mostly autonomous groups is a much bigger anomaly, because there's no real model for it.

Why are all these people mucking about? Why are they tolerated? Why do they want to go into this line of work in the first place? Monsters. Big, nasty monsters, roaming around the countryside. The world is a dangerous place, kings don't have a whole lot of direct control over the countryside, it's too dangerous for militias to handle on their own. Enter a small group of people who, for various reasons, are able to amass a great deal of personal power, and are all batshit insane. They go out, do a job that no one else can or will do but that everyone really wants done. And they don't even ask to be paid for it, because the monsters are all guarding treasure.

I will point out, though, that this situation works a lot better in Iron Heroes than it necessarily does in D&D, because Iron Heroes doesn't have reliable magic. D&D--as of Third Edition--tends to assume that there are a decent number of wizards and clerics hanging out in cities and towns, not necessarily associated with any particular adventure party. Wizards who can cast spells like teleport, and scrying, and sending, and clerics who can cast spells like commune. Finding out what's going on in the world is pretty easy for folks like that.

Though all that is, of course, subject to change. And they may choose to downplay the presence of powerful NPCs in 4th Edition--they did with Eberron. Almost all the really powerful characters are bad guys. Or they may make magic by default more unusual, like they've indicated they're doing with magic items.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Continuing Series

You know what else is tasty? Bourbon chicken.

If you like fancy alcohol-flavored things. Which I do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Salisbury Steak

I had Salisbury Steak for the first time today. I never knew what it was, beyond being steak-related and somehow associated with airline food.

It is, apparently, steak-shaped hamburger, covered in gravy.

There is nothing that I can possibly add to that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Dragon Has A Grapple Modifier of "You Lose"

Why all this hate for grapple? Why does Wizards keep holding up grapple as an example of everything that's wrong with the game? I like grapple. No, really. I just ran a couple of monsters that were heavily into it, and now all I have to look up is the list of things you can and cannot do while grappled.

Though I will say--the Hypertext SRD helps. A lot. It's also the kind of thing that you use more often, and is more fun, on the DM side of the screen.

On an almost-entirely-unrelated note: Am I the only person who is seriously digging the dragon flame sound effect on the new D&D website? Yeah. Yeah, I thought so.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

An Unexpected Coincidence

There's a band called The Brothers Martin. Man. That's just . . . strange. Particular as Pandora just sort of sprang it on me when I wasn't expecting it.

Grand Literary Tradition

"Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves shall all be permitted to be used when handled in the classic tradition, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high-caliber literary works, written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world."

Comics Code, as revised 1971

When you're writing the Comics Code, irony is optional.

Credit where credit is due: I found this quote in Reading Comics, by Douglas Wolk.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You Can Hear The Gears Screech

None of the regular crowd is going to get any of this, and even if I explained I doubt they'd care, but it's all been rattling around in my head for a while, so, here goes:

Isn't the song "Iron Man" just perfect for Iron Man? Particularly as of Civil War, but I hear tell he's still just as whacked out.

While we're on the topic: the new Ultron. I know the justification is "Frank Cho likes to draw hot women," and allegedly doesn't like to draw Iron Man, but I have to wonder how Bendis got from there to something so mind-boggling bizarre. On multiple levels. (Maybe it's not weird in the comic? Maybe it's just my interpretation of the comic, second-hand?)

It is yet another situation explained by yelling "NANITES!" This makes me happy.

Iron Man is cool. Have I mentioned that? (Never read any of his comics. Looking forward to the movie.) Not personally, but conceptually. (I wonder, is it bad that I think of him as "like Batman, but with SCIENCE!" And less ethics. Which is frightening. Really frightening.) The heart thing is . . . pondersome. Hrmm.

Continuity: Not My Strength

I want to run a campaign that grows. That I run more than one campaign in, with more than one group. That's a goal that I'm never likely to accomplish, being as distractable as I am. (See: blog archives.) But it's a goal.

The idea really came to me at the end of Is This Fair? Is It? We set up this nice little status quo, off in the future, for the characters. And it occurred to me that you could start a new campaign, with new characters, based off that status quo--say, with the old campaign's characters sending the new ones off on adventures. Or even just basing it in the city, with the old characters being background.

I'm not sure how likely this is to happen. I'd kind of rather not base another campaign off the Diamond Throne. (Though I could strip parts of that out, but it would still be obvious where it came from. The giants, and their reaction to said established status quo, would be somewhat key in any political intrigue resulting.)

But it'd be nice, sometime, to do that. Base a campaign on one that had come before. Not a sequel, exactly. Not with the same characters: that way lies madness. Probably not even with the same players. Maybe not even in the same area of the world, at least at the beginning. But I'd have something to draw on, an additional influence besides the stories and ephemeral junk I normally dump into a campaign. (A good campaign, anyhow.)

I think I could do something, with that kind of foundation. It'd be fun to try.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Live Commentary! As It Is Watched!

No women in the teaser video. Bleah.

New logo is not bad. Not, y'know, awe-inspiring or anything. But not bad.

Pictures on the covers! Neat-o.

"Character advancement fun and meaningful at every level of play" is a very, very good thing. That means: no dead levels. No levels where you maybe get a number bump, but no cool new powers to play with. (I know this because it's an issue they've addressed on the website before. They know this is a problem.) And what I hope it means is that you've got a choice or two to make at every level. Not a huge choice, not takes-five-hours choice, but a "this character is unique and cool" choice.

I'll believe what you say about high level play when I see it, thank you very much. Never used that part of the game myself (want to, I've got one player who really wants to) but I have heard . . . stories. Especially from the GM side of the screen.

Simplified stat blocks, you say? Why, that sounds quite peachy. This is problem number one from the GM side of the screen, and I am glad they are aware of it.

Less time consuming game prep? Excellent.

THIRTY LEVELS? BWAH? Ooooh . . . I get it. More frequent leveling.

Pulling stuff off Tome of Battle? That book is awesome. In concept, anyway.

Improving the game on the encounter level . . . hmm . . .

Better monster roles! Also nice.

Gleemax. Ick.

Okay. The game is playable with just the book. Good. Getting a little worried there.

Hang on just a minute. Is that Orcus on the monster manual?

An e-version of the book? Free with the printed book? That's a point in favor of this insider business.

You also get Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine . . . I should start making a list.

This digital stuff actually looks kinda cool. (Solves a particular problem for me, if it works well.) What's the subscription cost?

The drawing stuff tells me this may be a reason to finally get that tablet. Especially if there's any kind of custom content creation utility.

Custom digital minis? Major coolness.

One thought: this will subtly limit custom monsters, races, and other visual elements. Yeah, you can use other stuff, like we always have, but it puts up a small barrier.

Note to Wizards: A big part of The Sims (and sequels) success is the artistic side of it. You can make stuff for that game. Allowing people to do something similar with these utilities could go a long way towards getting people into it.

Check the fine print of the people involved in the game. Mike Mearls is there, which is always a good sign. The man knows awesome.

"I'd also like to thank Vecna." Perfect.

Wish I'd gone to GenCon now. I considered it. I suggested it. But no. . . . No one else was too keen on the idea.

Hey, maybe they'll videotape those seminars, too. Otherwise, hopefully someone whose blog I read will write down the important bits. And ask some good questions.

They have a seminar by a woman. Promising.

How do you become a 4th edition playtester? Didn't see that one coming.

Guess I'm signing up for D&D Insider now. Might even be interesting. Total scam, of course, but, hey. Free is good. Hopefully they won't be stupid enough to pull an AOL.

Oh, yeah. Almost forget. I actually like grappling. I don't find the rules difficult to remember.

This Is What's Called "Male As Default"

I am Officially Irritated.

Finally got on the Wizards website. The Race article? Very cool. The Class article? Very, very cool. I like fighters. I like this vision of fighters. We're only on the idea stage now, but these are ideas I can work with.

But the teaser video. Indeed, the teaser video.

There are no women in this video. Zero. There are, in this video, sixteen players of Dungeons and Dragons, and not a single one of them is female. Not even in the fancy future 2008 video.

Why are there no women in this video? Women play D&D. Lots of women play lots of D&D. And they spend money on it, too. But not in this video.

No. What this video says to me is, "Women? Women don't play D&D. They didn't play D&D in the past. And they definitely won't play D&D in the future."

This does not make me happy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blind. Panic. No Joke.

Man. Man, oh, man. I get home and suddenly I get this sprung on me.

Forty minutes left.

I have a lot of things to say about this. A lot of things I did say, and then deleted. A lot of things that I do not need to say, because other people have said them. And a lot of things that I will say in the future, once I have more information and the panic has left the bloodstream.

I am scared.

There are a lot of things I am scared of. Again, I won't name them: no point. They are all, at this juncture, ephemeral. Wait until a few of them solidify so I can deal with a handful of actual terrors, rather than the multitude of possibilities.

But I am scared. Terrified, even. That's worth saying.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Will Return With Tales of Adventure

No wi-fi for me for the next couple of days. Freedom!

Not that there'll be any noticeable difference. But now at least I have an excuse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Novelty Gaming

Man, now I really want to run a sandbox game.

Get a big wilderness hex map, fill it with cool stuff, and be ready to add things as the players start moving around? Does that ever sound awesome. Throw in a few huge, nonsensical dungeons (one big dungeon with entrances all over the place! woohoo!) and I am totally sold.

I have never, ever done anything like this. Never run it, never played it. But I really, really want to try.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Sign of True Excellence


Not dead yet!


I love how my absolute first reaction is to grab the SRD to find out exactly how disintegrate works. Order of the Stick is so awesome.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Against Principle, On Principle

I'm thinking, now, that I'd prefer to vote for a politician who had originally supported the Iraq war. Why? Because I remember the run-up.

No one talks about just how popular the war was, back in 2003. Yeah, there was a very loud anti-war contingent, and yeah, feelings on the war went south very fast. But at the beginning, there was a majority in favor of the war. (Wikipedia--sorry.) And don't forget--the Republicans were playing very nasty, very partisan hardball. They would have loved an excuse to lambast the Democrats for wanting the terrorists to win.

So when Obama attacks Clinton for voting for the war, and pointing out how he was against it from the start, well . . . he wasn't in the Senate until 2005.

Now, I like Obama. (Yeah, I know. It's called thinking.) He's a strong second choice, and I'd vote for him in a primary if Clinton were to get totally knocked out of the race. (Could happen) But I don't need Clinton to apologize for that vote.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Such Great Heights

This is an awesome song. The New Dominions did a cover; that's how I know about it. I think of it as a Girl Genius kind of song.

And the video is pretty slick, too.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

You May Perhaps Have Read This In The Newspaper

Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?

(Hint: No.)

And They All Lived Happily Ever After

I just want to go on record as actually liking the ending of the latest Harry Potter book. Not for any particular reason; just because I've read two people today who didn't like it, and while I understand their objections, I still like it.

I'm not going to talk about exactly why I liked it, because it would be too much work to phrase it in a non-spoiler way. (And bringing up specific objections would give too much credit to the people who raised them, roughly half of whom hail from the "hate hate hate" school of literary criticism.)

'Course, everyone who cares probably has already finished the book. So I guess I just don't want to do it. I will say, though, that it is not how I would have handled it. I am more a student of the hard-stop school. Show's over, everyone goes home now.

Which is part of the reason I liked it. The approach simply wouldn't have occurred to me; it's a fresh thing to my mind.

Mind you, the one time I did do a little bit of the "twenty-years later" wrap up, with that latest campaign, I was really happy with it. That's actually one of my favorite parts of that campaign, that little thumbnail sketch of the rest of their lives. I'm even holding a few things in reserve, in case we ever go back to it. Doesn't quite count, though, because it wasn't my idea. Didn't have it planned.

But, anyway. Liked the ending.