Role Playing Games-RPGs

Adopting the Eclipse Phase Mesh to Combat Internet Censorship

The Internet enables communication for millions of people worldwide in a way that levels the playing field. By giving access and a voice to everyone online a certain measure of equality is simultaneously granted.

But such free communication is hardly ubiquitous, and is already subject to restriction in many areas.

Maybe what we need is a fully decentralized network as in Eclipse Phase’s mesh.

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Combat Strategies in Rolemaster for Low Level Characters

Rolemaster is a fantasy role playing game with a detailed combat system. Here I’ll provide some tips players of low level characters can use to stay alive, and kick some butt.

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Wageslavery – an Underappreciated Theme in Shadowrun

Shadowrun Wageslavery - Chipped Workforce

Shadowrun’s futuristic technology includes skillwares, chips with software which grant users access to knowledge and skills they do not innately possess.

Convenient for shadowrunners, yes. For the general populace? Downright dramatic; think about areas like manufacturing, and it becomes apparent that skillwares pose new pressures on the global workforce.

Here’s how I think new levels of civil unrest and social upheaval can create an excellent backdrop for a meaningful Shadowrun campaign.

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RPGs: Do You Take Notes?

I tend to prefer being a gamemaster versus a player in a role playing game. Thus I read a lot of role playing books. This weekend I finally started a new activity while reading that I’ve been thinking about for a while: I’m taking notes.

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Eclipse Phase – Available Now

Sort of…

First let me say, I do plan to get back to writing here soon but work has been beyond insane lately and I simply have not had the time to game enough (at least for my taste) much less write about gaming.

However, I did want to say that for those interested in the game, Eclipse Phase can now be purchased in PDF format!

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D&DI Exlusive Content

Today Wizards announced some new stuff coming soon to D&D Insider. In addition to the (already mentioned) Players Handbook 3 content that will be pre-released on D&D Insider, the insider will have an exclusive race and an exclusive class that, according to Bill Slavicsek, will never appear in any book.

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The State of My Gaming Life: 2009

Just over a year ago I wrote a post that I called The State of My Gaming Life. It was basically a rundown of all the gaming I was doing at the time. Honestly it was pretty self indulgent and rather pointless but kind of fun to write and neat to look back upon.

My goal is to continue this annual posting so that I (and others if they so desire) can look back and see what has changed and so that those who wish to understand a bit more about me as I write about other topics have this information available to them.

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D&D – Hybrid Characters Playtest

Wizards has posted a playtest article for what they call Hybrid Characters, if you’re an Insider member you can check it out.

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Dungeons and Dragons: Paragon Path Rules Issue

One of my players was a bit unhappy with his characters plot (or rather lack there of) and decided he wanted to bring in a new character. As he was one of the two leaders in our six-player party he decided to stick with a leader character but bring in a Shaman as they are good at group healer while the other leader, a Cleric, could hand the single target big heals. In our first game with this character things seemed to go fairly well but an issue came up with one of his paragon path powers (say that three times fast!).

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Hands on With the Player’s Handbook 2

I was planning on picking up a copy of the Player’s Handbook 2 at our local game store yesterday but when I stopped in I didn’t see any copies. It’s possible they weren’t out yet or I missed them but after getting back to my house and having two of my players bring copies, a third mentioned they had one on order, and a fourth said they would probably pick up a copy at some point, I decided that spending the money for a copy of my own just felt like throwing money away.

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On the Brink of Paragon: Some Thoughts on D&D 4th Edition

Last night my group reached level 11 in our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. We have been playing this same game since early last June, giving us over eight months of play time so far. If the next two tiers go at a comparable speed we will reach the end of the whole campaign (should we see it to its conclusion) at right about the two-year mark.

Overall I have enjoyed the new D&D quite a bit and I just thought it would be interesting to comment on a few of my observations as we have just reached a major milestone in the game.

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A Lazy Way to Link You to Cool Stuff

So, whenever I find something game-related that I think is really cool I like to write a post about it and link to it. I did this with Obsidian Portal, Brettspielwelt and others. Today while I was popping around I found another blog that does this as a weekly thing and has it far better organized than my rather erratic posts.

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Totems, Totems, Totems! – Wizards Previews the Shaman

The first three levels of the Shaman are up for Insider members over at Wizards site and I have to say it looks pretty interesting and gives us four options for the Leader slot once the PH2 comes out (Cleric, Warlord, Bard and Shaman).

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Sorcerer Preview – A New Twist on the Old Favorite

Wizards has put up their preview of the first three levels of sorcerer and it seems pretty neat.

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Savoring Level One

Say for a moment that you are starting a brand-new role playing campaign. I’ve known some GMs to begin players at mid-level so they don’t have to toil around as a first-level character. Yet I think doing so misses the sweetest part of many role-playing games: starting your characters inexperienced and watching them grow.

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A Pointless Post About the Pointlessness of XP

I had been noticing for a while that experience points in D&D 4th Edition were almost more trouble than they were worth and I thought I would do a post about it. Unfortunately, I was beaten to the punch last week by Chris Youngs who wrote about XP in his Editorial. Still, I wanted to say a couple words about it even if I am treading over a well-worn path.

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The Warden and Other Cool New Stuff for Insider Members

I have so many cool things I want to write about but this past weekend ended up being a bit crazier than I had planned. I hope to get back to writing more, including writing reviews for no less than six games that I have either played recently or have recently realized I never got around to reviewing. For today I just wanted to send you over to Wizards where you can check out the newest preview from the Players Handbook 2, the Warden.

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A Few Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2009

There are several more games I need to review and I also would like to write a bit more about reviewing and perhaps change the way I write reviews but it occurred to me that there are a number of game related things I am quite excited about at the moment and this being the last day of the year a post about these items might be a good idea.

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D&D Controllers: Wizards and Druids and Invokers Oh My!

Recently the preview for the Druid went up and I commented briefly on that, and today we now have the preview for the Invoker.

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D&D: Druid Preview

I know a lot of people were really excited to see what they did with the Barbarian while others were pretty thrilled when they released the Bard but personally I think the Druid could be the most exciting of the bunch.

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Eclipse Phase – On the Horizon

I was checking out some Shadowrun stuff recently when I noticed a mention of Catalyst’s new upcoming SF/Horror game Eclipse Phase.

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My Reaction to Immediate Reactions in D&D 4.0

One of the things our group missed when we first started playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition was that players could only perform one Immediate Action per round. The rule that defines this is not all that hard to locate, being found plainly under the explanation of what an Immediate Action is it states, “You can take only one immediate action per round”. Mostly, we just overlooked it.

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Thoughts on Stealth and Perception in Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

I have always had a bit of a problem with perception in role playing games. One issue is the fact that, with so many players (five or six for most games I have run), one player will inevitably roll high and thus find whatever it is they are looking for, even if they have a low score in perception. The RAW for D&D 4th Edition tries to avoid some of this by using Passive Perception Checks.

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Barbarian Preview Up

For those fans of the Barbarian class in D&D the preview is up at the official site.

Because it is a preview article you do not get all the options and some of what is listed might change before the official release in 2009 (as part of the Player’s Handbook 2), however we do get to see some of what we’re in for.

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Cthulutech – Wacky New Offering from Catalyst

Heading over to the Shadowrun site to try and figure out why my pulped tree version of the Runner’s Companion wasn’t in yet I discovered Catalyst’s newest product with an apparent street date of October 14th: Cthulhutech.

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Running Into Trouble

We had our first actual Shadowrun game yesterday and boy was it a bumpy ride…

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Partying with the New Party

We had our first session last night after our near party wipe. Things went quite well and the players were able to see the usefulness of having two defenders as they were surrounded by a group of orcs.

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D&D: Wipe Out

So, we had our first character death in Dungeons and Dragons today. Actually, we had our first, second, and third character deaths and a fourth character who was so disgusted with the whole ordeal that he went off into the unknown.

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A Great, if Silly, Idea for a Shadowrun

Most days I glance over the top news stories on Yahoo and today was no different. I try to keep myself informed on a variety of topics but I admit that I only read the articles that look as though they will be interesting or humorous.

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A Shadowrun Idea for the Spatially Impaired

I’ve mentioned before that I have trouble with locations in my role playing games. I’ve never been good at picturing things three dimensionally and when it comes to buildings I have trouble picturing room layouts (both where the rooms should be within the structure and what should be where in the rooms).

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Review of Shadowrun: Runner’s Companion

Shadowrun Runner\'s Companion

As I have mentioned several times I am a huge fan of Shadowrun. I love almost everything about the game from its living world with new and interesting events happening all the time to its concise and well thought out rules. Shadowrun, for me, offers the perfect mix of action and role playing and really opens itself up to all kinds of gamers.

Recently I purchased the Runner’s Companion combo pack which gets you the pdf version of the book and the hard bound version when they release it. Most likely I would have waited for the hard bound version if my next game were not starting soon but as it is starting soon I wanted the new options available for my players. I also figured that it gave me the opportunity to write a brief review of the book in a somewhat timely fashion.

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Of Shadowrun and Shooting People in the Face

I’m really not a fan of these days. They seem to always come down very harshly on the games that I like best and often their “reviews” are little more than sarcastic rants. Still, I do pop over their from time to time and check out what is being said.

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Shadowrun – Right Around the Corner

I finally got my hands on Unwired for Shadowrun 4.0. It looks pretty good even if it seems to contain a bit more fluff and a little less crunch than Arsenal, Augmentation and Street Magic.

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Skill Challenges – Comparisons, Game Incorporation, and House Rules

I’ve spoken at some length already about my feelings toward skill challenges and in general those feelings have been rather positive. This article is meant as a wrap-up of all of the previous discussions and to be sort of my “final word” on the subject. In all likelihood I will mention them again but probably not at this length. I hope that this post will not end up being tragically rambling but then that is my writing style and I am trying to touch on several related topics so I’ll do my best but don’t count on it.

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D&D 4E – New Tricks

Wizards started showing previews of their up coming book Adventurer’s Vault today. The book is described as having “Hundreds of new weapons, tools, and magic items for your D&D character” which sounds pretty nice from a DM’s perspective.

The most interesting thing for me was the preview of the wondrous item, Bag of Tricks.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – Solo Monster – Necro Infused Orc

After my first attempt at making a solo monster I was left frustrated and disappointed but after starting a post on the official forums and reading what others had to say about solos I decided not to give up. Instead I refocused and began working on a couple new ideas for solo monsters. Below you will find the stats for the first of these solos.

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Heroscape, Shadowrun and Other Things That Make My Time Disappear

I’ve been working on a number of different projects lately and they have taken up the time I would normally be using for ranting about some random D&D thing… er… I mean “writing for the blog”.

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New 4th Edition Errata (Dungeons and Dragons)

Wizards posted new errata for the 4th edition core books today. Most interestingly are the changes that have been made to skill challenges.

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Feeling So Low About Solos

I have a lot of annoying habits and tendencies. Among these is the habit of criticizing everything. It is seems to be in my nature to be critical at all times. I have never personally considered this a bad thing, I actually think many people are not as critical as they should be and find their lack of criticism disturbing, but I can see why in some situations it could be considered bothersome.

One thing that has bothered several of my friends over the years is my critical interpretation of nearly every movie I see. This has lead people to joke (or perhaps not “joke”) that I hate all movies. The truth is more that I find fault with most movies. For example I loved Batman Begins but I think Christian Bale’s “Batman Voice” was awful and I have no problem making fun of it. I simply feel that I can like or even love something and still notice and criticize its flaws.

Most people know that I like the new Dungeons and Dragons quite a bit but I don’t feel that this prevents me from seeing things in it which I consider to be flaws. One flaw I see in the game at this point is the concept of Solo Monsters.

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The Challenge of Skill Challenges

Since the release of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition there has been a lot of talk about Skill Challenges. A lot of players find the idea to be quite intriguing, allowing more dramatic rules for situations that were once resolved by a single roll of a single die, but others have pointed out that the math for the Skill Challenges seems a bit broken and in some ways, they are unfortunately correct.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – Classes, Roles and Professions

One of the biggest complaints I see these days in regards to D&D 4th Edition is the limitations put on a character because of Class and Role. While some people seem to understand what the creators were trying to do, others either don’t get the idea or deliberately avoid understanding it. Because this is a bit of a hot topic and one that interests me I thought I would spend a moment talking about how I perceive it and how I feel it should be perceived.

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Into the Shadows

Saying Goodbye

My gaming group made their final decision about our Saturday morning RPG last night. We had already come to a unanimous decision that Scion had major issues, and while there was some divergence as to what to do about it most fell closer to the “abandon it and don’t look back” side than the “muscle on, the idea is so cool!” side.

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Funny Anecdote From D&D

I’ve told this story a couple times over the past week and thought maybe I should just write it up for the blog as other gamers may find it amusing.

Last Tuesday we finished our first 4th Edition Dungeon with the players confronting the Gribb Witchdoctor Rikshock and his minions. Upon entering his rather nasty looking quarters they discovered that both he and his minions were in fact on the other side of a ten foot wide crevice in the floor. Across the crevice was a thin wooden plank. The only thing on their side of the room was a desk.

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Elite Gribb Statistics

Here are two Elite Gribb I made up for my player’s first D&D 4th adventure. I was trying to figure out how to template them before posting but computers and I really don’t get along. These guys are based on my Gribb statistics.

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Super Hero Universe Idea – A Super Blast From The Past

I got a call yesterday from a friend of mine I don’t see too often, about a fumble table I had used in my last D&D game. Basically I had written up a random table to roll on whenever a player fumbled because I felt the whole “lose the rest of your attacks” or “hit yourself” or whatever we had previously been using was kind of boring and uninspired. I guess this friend (he had played the flashlight wielding paladin I have mentioned a couple times) is in a new game and had mentioned my table to his new DM. I was rather flattered and told him I would seek out the table and post it on the blog.

Instead I ended up with this Super Hero Universe idea. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

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Scion Snag and Shadowmoor Silliness

This week will likely be a very busy one, which means that I will probably not get to write the posts that are floating around in my head at the moment. Still, I wanted to take a couple seconds to comment on a few of the things that happened over the weekend in my Scion campaign and some Shadowmoor online.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – Monster Statistics – Gribbs

I love the collection of monster in new 4th Edition Monster Manual and I love the array of powers that the designers have given them. I know some people are lamenting the loss of certain creatures (centaurs, rust monsters, metallic dragons, etc.) but never having had an attachment to the D&D world of old I guess I’m just as happy with these things as without them.

There are several reasons for choosing the creatures they did, not least among them that they wanted to keep a few hold-outs for the Monster Manual 2. While some people will insist that this is a greedy move by the company I guess I personally would rather see a book have some “normal” monsters and some bizarre monsters rather than have the basic Monster Manual be all the boring stuff and then have the later MMs be full of ever more crazy creatures.

One problem I have with the Monster Manual is that there are very few options for introductory adventures. At about level five onward you have the option of sending lots of lower level creatures at a party (or perhaps “pumped up” versions of lower level creatures) but of course there are no lower level creatures for a starting party. It seems your basic options are either Kobolds or Goblins. I wanted to have another option so I created Gribbs.

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Role Playing and Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

Just how much role playing is in the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons? Just how much role playing was in the older editions? Is D&D a roll playing game? How much does a system of rules force players to play a game a certain way? How much impact does genre have on role playing?

I felt I should warn people that this is a rather long post. I get some flack about the length of my posts but I still have not learned the art of brevity. Since I have no soul and very little wit, this really comes as no suprise.

Since the release of 4th Edition (and actually even before its release) many people have become irate about the lack of role playing in it. Many felt that the changes were taking away options and making the game less realistic or more board-game-like. Not everyone agrees with this statement, and after reading through most of the core books I don’t agree either. In this post I would like to examine the evidence and explain why I feel there is greater potential for role playing in 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons than in 3.0 or 3.5. I will also touch upon other aspects of role playing such as genre impact and rules impact. These ideas are far more general but they are no less important to the whole.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – A Wickedly Short Review

Many people beat me to the punch of reviewing D&D 4.0. In truth if you were looking for reviews and opinions of the new edition you could easily have found them long before the game was officially released (you could even have found some here!). In fact you could have found the whole game before it was released since a pirated copy showed up online and released some hundred copies a week early.

So, I really don’t feel another normal review of the game, one that goes over the changes and then either says “D&D 4.0 scores big for its simplicity and fun” or “D&D 4.0 is now a completely different game, Wizards has destroyed the game we all know and love!” is in order. Instead what I would like to do is talk about one of the things I was doing this weekend instead of writing a review, namely going to see the musical Wicked.

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Paranoia XP – Mission Blender Online

The Paranoia Mission Blender is so freaking cool that this online version of it deserves its own post!

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