Tag Archives: d&d

Blogging from the car

Thought I’d see if you can use the wordpress app to write posts off-line and what do you know, you can. We’re just on our way to weekly d&d (4th ed.) and the m1 north bound was slow bit it’s cleared up now. My fighter made it to level 5 last time we played but various events transpired against us and it’s been a few weeks since we got together.

Probably a lot of downtime things in this session, dead companion to replace, gear to restock etc.

Heroism and D&D

I read this interesting article over at Dungeon Mastering website about why we should be thankful for D&D.  I commented over there, but wanted to expand on what I said.  Here’s my comment,

They’re about heroics. They’ve emphasised this in the 4th edition, but the earliest editions were the same (they sort of lost their way a little at the end of 2nd Ed and partly in 3rd Ed). Want to be a hero of legend? What to be able to do heroic deeds? Want to be a force for good, a force for change, to do the right thing with a huge fanfair of trumpets in the background? Want to jump in a save the Prince in Distress or help the Princess reclaim her throne?

D&D is about being a hero, unrepentant righteous heroism. It’s a light in the dark, hope amidst despair. It doesn’t excuse itself, it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s the pulp fiction of roleplaying, for better or worse and it leaves you feeling good.

I guess this depends on the kind of person you are.  I know a lot of roleplayers who wanted to play the sneak, the liar, the bully, the bad guy.  They got a kick from it, a challenge, and that’s fine, I can live with that.  Some game settings thrive on that, and some thrive on trickery or deception.  Some game settings intentionally blur the line between good and bad, that’s how they’re designed to be played.

But D&D, in it’s original form and even more so in 4th edition is about being a hero or heroine.  It’s not about beating up folk and extorting treasure, it’s not about attempting to overthrow legitimate kingdoms and take them over, it’s not even about killing orcs for the sake of it.

It’s about smiting orcs because they are evil.  It’s about recovering treasure from the vaults of evil lizardmen.  It’s about rescuing the good people who need to be rescued and putting down the evil tyrants who took them in the first place.   The world is in peril, the forces of evil stand on the brink of victory, this is your chance.  To make a stand.  To be the light in the darkness.  To shine brightly, for however long it takes to drive back the storm.

Don’t muddy the waters with morals.

Be strong.  Stand firm.  The enemy is upon you.

Now is the time for heroes.

D&D 4th Edition first two encounters

We ran through a couple of encounters last night in our new roleplaying campaign.  First time we’ve used the 4th edition rules in anger, so all of us were a little slow and spent time referring to stuff in the rulebook.

I have to say, I was surprised it ran as smoothly as it did, the positional issues didn’t affect us as much as I feared, and provided a decent tactical element.  The use of powers instead of basic attacks is the real difference, and it certainly gave my character (straight forward fighter) more options during the fight, without having to rely on feats.  For example, my fighter has two ‘at will’ powers which are essentially regular attacks.  One (Cleave) allows him to hit a second target for a small amount of damage if he hits the first target, and the second causes minor damage to a single target even if the swing misses.  So depending on how many targets are adjacent to him, he gets to pick which makes more sense.

Also, we had a Warlord in the group, who has a power which provides additional damage to basic attacks so during one combat round I used a base attack to benefit from that.

All-in-all the combat seems ok, we’ll see how it ramps up.  At the moment, I still feel bereft without haste, multiple attacks, dual wield and stat increasing spells (Bull’s Strength!) which were such a strong feature of 3rd edition, but I’m sure we’ll get used to them not being there.

The two major things I learned yesterday about 4th edition,

  1. You don’t roll saving throws any more, they work like AC (i.e. they have a static value which the attacker has to beat).  This is going to take some getting used to.  You do still make some saving throw rolls, but they’re a straight d20 and succeed on 10-20 (I think), they’re used when you’re under the effects of spells (for example, sleep).
  2. Everything about combat has bigger damage numbers, and everyone has more hitpoints.  It’s going to take some getting used to.  In earlier editions not being hit was key early on, but in 4th edition everyone has far more hitpoints at first level, including the bad guys.

Oh, and being able to Shift in combat makes much more sense, it may only allow you to move 1-square at a time, but at least you can shift through the enemy without incurring opportunity attacks if you need to.

The era of instant feedback

I think one of the greatest changes the ‘net has brought about, or maybe faster and more global communication has brought about, and which the ‘net is at the forefront of is immediate product / action feedback.

The feedback is so immediate that it starts well before the product even hits the shelves.

In the past, maybe a small core of fans and people ‘in the know’ would start talking about a new movie or a new game or a new book long before it came to light, and there would be a bunch of people who knew about it but the vast majority would not.  Even those who did know might not have any way of sharing their concerns or joys with the people producing their product.

If we look at computer games in the mid-80’s, there were plenty of monthly magazines which talked about possible games, and reviewed existing ones.  They had some letters pages, people wrote in, but the market was small and the hype about games was still confined to small groups of people.  People making the games may have read the magazines, but what impact could three or four fans have?

Sure there was Fidonet and bulletin boards, and I’m sure there was chatter in those locations about stuff coming up.  But the big change I think is when not only fans but producers of products started using the same medium for talking.  I’m not sure when it happened and I’m too lazy to go and do a load of reading around the subject, but if you skip to today you can see the vast difference.

Now, months before a product is even seen people are claiming it is rubbish or the best thing since Jet Set Willy.  Fans claim products have ruined their lives long before those products ever turn up.  Movies, music, games, technology and everything else you can imagine, lampooned, praised and analysed months before they arrive.

Once the product is actually in the market, the feedback is immediate and abundent (if not always entirely objective).  Prospective buyers can trawl Google for a thousand comments on a product that’s been out for a few weeks, companies get to see the impact of their product almost in real time.

It’s a big change.

I was thinking about this in relation to 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons.  Long before it turned up, when Wizards were leaking/revealing details, people were worried and claimed it would ruin the legacy of D&D.  Some people said it would be fine.  Within days of it being released the ‘net was covered in feedback.  I wonder how that differs from the release of the Master edition of D&D or even the first release of 2nd edition AD&D?  I wonder how companies handle that information, if they do anything with it during the production phase1 and the post-release period.

  1. which clearly the company who made Snakes on a Plane did []