Wizards

Netrunner: The Big Sell-Out

I just wanted to make a brief mention of excellent multiplayer rules for a game I have a special soft spot for: Netrunner.

The Big Sell-Out is a Netrunner variant for four (or more) players, pairing a runner with their corporate “sponsor” for cyber-hijinks in the vein of Magic’s Two-Headed Giant.

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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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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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My Brief Return to Magic

Sunday Morning found me awake fairly early. Recently I have been sleeping better and thus sleeping in but this Sunday the alarm went off at our normal weekday wake up time and I never got back to sleep.

So, I wandered downstairs looking for something to do and decided to sign on to Magic Online and after a bit of waffling I decided to give it a go.

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D&D Character Builder – Pleasantly Suprised

Being an Insider member and a naturally curious person I decided to download the full version of the character builder that Wizards put up recently and I have to say, I like what I see.

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Whither Magic?

Not Shadowmoor’s damage as -1/-1 counters ability, I’m pondering the state of Magic: the Gathering and its newest card sets.

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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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Obsidian Portal

I was poking around on Penny Arcade today and was informed about this nifty wiki-like site called Obsidian Portal.

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Magic: Channeling Land, Oona, and You

It’s been some time since I wrote the Channeling Land Magic variant. In my group we’ve been playing that flavor of Magic exclusively for several months now. There are just a couple of sticking points, which I’ll cover here and offer suggestions on how to smooth them over.

The Faerie Queen

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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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Dungeons and Dragons – Character Builder Beta

So the Character Builder Beta was released to those who have subscribed to D&DI, and being one of those willing to fork over the bucks I was able to download it and check it out. Personally I can’t say I was impressed but then I doubt they could have impressed me.

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Dragon Magazine Articles: What I Would Like to See

So far I think the articles for Dragon Magazine on D&DI have been pretty good. They have covered topics from traps to treasures including new player options as well as new DM options like new monster types. It got me thinking about what else I hope to see released online.

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D&DI – Brief Review of the Bonus Tools

D&DI Bonus Tools

Currently individuals willing to pay for a D&DI subscription have access to three “Bonus Tools” with the promise of more online tools, not called Bonus Tools but still tools of a sort, to come. Obviously the most dynamic of these eventual tools is the Game Table but for now all we have is The Encounter Builder, The Ability Generator and The Monster Building which are the three tools called Bonus Tools. I had played around with the first two already and finally took some time to check out The Monster Builder, so far I’m very unimpressed.

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D&DI – Time to Pay the Piper

Dungeons and Dragons Insider stopped being a “free action” on October 15th. You can find the article about their launch here. I know a lot of people, myself included were dreading this day but after only a couple of days of hemming an hawing I broke down and payed up.

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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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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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Magic Evolves in a Struggle to Remain Relevant, Part 2: A Brief look at the Business of Magic

Continuing from Part 1: Magic’s Evolution, here I’ll briefly examine the business side of gaming that these changes to Magic: the Gathering expose.

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Magic Evolves in a Struggle to Remain Relevant, Part 1: Change

As they say, these changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary, yet Magic is indeed changing.

I’ll take a look at the new shape of Magic: the Gathering to come with Shards of Alara and beyond, and what it means to the game we know as Magic.

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D&D Tiny Adventures

If your into silly little Facebook games you should check out D&D Tiny Adventures.

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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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MtG: Playing with Channeling Land

This all started when I mused about building Magic decks without land. Much discussion ensued. In the meantime, my group and I spent a little time playing with the variant; what follows is my account of how the variant plays, with a look at some of the ups and downs of employing this seemingly simple change to Magic: the Gathering.

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Magic Online – Eventide Release and a Brief Look at Economics

Magic Online 3.0 went live a while back and shortly after that I slowed down my drafting and then a bit after that more or less quit Magic altogether. Not “for good” but I had a number of problems with the new program and I figured I should walk away and let them sort the mess out. Also, as I have made fairly clear on this site, I was not and am not a big fan of Shadowmoor.

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D&D Insider Update

In case you missed it (I did at first since it isn’t under the normal Features. Dungeon, or Dragon tabs) Wizards has announced some more information about D & D Insider.

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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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Fat-Free Magic: the Gathering – Without Lands (Channeling Land Variant)

Ever since Magic’s debut, there has been a built-in inefficiency to deck building and play caused by the requirement of including basic land.

This always irked me, and here I’ll look at why basic lands exist, then explore some house rules variants which remove them and evaluate the merit of each. Find out how Magic: the Gathering can be more fun with no lands!

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Eventide Pre-Release Wrap-Up

This weekend’s pre-release of Eventide was a lot of fun. I’ll take a quick run through the highlights of the Magic pre-release tournament experience and the new set.

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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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Eventide Pre-Release Tournament: Wrapping Up Shadowmoor Block

Eventide is coming soon, and the latest Magic pre-release is almost upon us. See the conclusion of Shadowmoor and the -1/-1 counter craze (too quickly for some, and long overdue for others).

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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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The Addition of Editions: A Brief Look

The release of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition is right around the corner and if you have been paying attention at all you’ll know I am pretty excited about it. When I first heard about it I shrugged it off but then curiosity got the better of me and I did some research and posted the results of that research. Since that time I have been reading the Wizards posts and poking around for opinions from people with advanced copies while I eagerly await the arrival of my copies of the books.

The opinions about the new edition seem to be fairly split, with an edge given to positive impressions. While there are many different complaints (no gnomes, no half-orcs, no sorcerers, multi-class changes, alignment changes, etc.) the most amusing complaint I have seen is “3.5 is fine, don’t let Wizards trick you into spending more money!”

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Smorgasbord of Gaming Goodness

This past weekend I got to play games with Scott for the first time in… well… a while. We played History of the World, Citadels, Boom Blox (yes, it’s a Wii game but it’s awesome!), Minimum Wage, and Vegas Showdown as well as playing the one shot Paranoia game I ran. All in all it was a pretty cool weekend.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – The Good and Evil of the new Good and Evil (Alignment Changes in 4th Edition)

I’ve been waiting for today’s D & D preview to come out even know I was pretty sure I already knew what it was going to say. It was about alignment. I have already spoken about how I feel about the old alignment system and anyone that read that post can be fairly certain that I was looking for a change. Well, it looks like I got what I wanted or at least got part of what I wanted.
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Stunt Dice, Role Playing XP Rewards and How Not to be a Jerk While Game Mastering

Perhaps this does not deserve a whole post but I came across this while reading up on D&D 4th and found it to be quite interesting.

“I’ve seen a lot of games (both in early RPGA and home games) that gave XP for good roleplaying. By good roleplaying do I mean the quality of your character acting? The problem with the roleplaying reward is this: You’re almost always going to give out the maximum to everyone at the table. Why? Because telling someone that they didn’t do a good job of roleplaying in a game where everyone is there to have fun seems overly judgmental, can create hurt feelings, and is… well… just downright crappy. It’s also so very meta and arbitrary that it begs questions about other forms of bonus XP. Why not give similar bonus XP for rule knowledge? Playing well with others? Bringing the most snacks?”
Stephen Radney-MacFarland

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – Skill Challenges

Yes, it’s me, talking about D&D again. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the game but this new edition really has me excited. I wanted to hate it. A friend mentioned that he had it pre-ordered and I scoffed at him. Then another friend mentioned how excited he was and I shook my head. Then I took a look for myself… and shook my head again. I had to admit, it sure looked cool.

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The State of My Gaming Life

This is fluff. It’s so absolutely, completely, and amusingly fluff that it hardly needs to be read or looked at or edited or posted and it certainly doesn’t need to be written. Of course I have already written it and gone ahead and posted it so well… go ahead and waste your time reading it if you want to. But you are wasting your time. I mean, at least I warned you. It’s not like they had an announcement like this at the beginning of In the Name of the King that politely informed you that you were wasting your time. At least I am being nice about it.

Actually, it does serve some purpose. I find that knowing a writer can help me enjoy books and many people love watching director (or writer or producer or whatever) commentary on their special edition DVDs. Think of this as a brief look into me that you might be able to refer to as you look at some of the other things I have posted.

Still, it’s pretty much useless fluff.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – A Pre – release Perspective From a Long Time Detractor

Dungeons and Dragons Player
Cover of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook

Most people that know me know that I don’t like D&D. I have played both 2nd and 3rd edition and I have run games for both (sometimes under some amount of protest… from me) but it has never been my favorite game and while I considered the move from 2nd edition to 3rd edition a huge leap forward I still came to dislike the game and find it lacking.

So, why should you care what I think about 4th Edition? Well, simply put, so far I kind of like it.

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Love the Dark: Shadowmoor Pre-Release Coverage

Guest Post: this post contributed by Rev. Joe.

Well, I went to the April 19th pre-release event for Shadowmoor, the newest installment of Magic: the Gathering. Regardless of what Josh writes I think it is a phenomenal set, full of darkness and twists that keep you on your toes.

First, let’s break down the new abilities:

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Shadowmoor – Color Me Unimpressed

I attended (if you can call it that) the Sunday Shadowmoor prerelease in Syracuse over this past weekend and I felt I needed to chime in a bit about my initial impressions. First I should say I didn’t play too much. I opened my packs, realized I wasn’t winning, played one match where I went 1 and 2 (I had my opponent to three life in the first game and four in the last but it wasn’t enough obviously), dropped and went home.

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Shadowmoor Pre-release Tournament Next Weekend

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty psyched about Shadowmoor. Next weekend is the chance for Magic players everywhere to experience the new set, aka: pre-release time!

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