Author Archive

1st Ed Greyhawk Campaign

April 15, 2012

I expect more folks will be exploring older editions of D&D as the D&D Next speculation builds, and in anticipation of the promised play-testing sometime later this year (or early next).  The re-issue of the original AD&D core books this spring/summer practically calls for it.  So cue the announcement from the local gaming store that a DM has stepped up to run a monthly 1st Edition Greyhawk game.  Now, I am an old fan of the World of Greyhawk – but specifically from the original presentation in 1st Edition AD&D.  I had most of the box sets and modules based in Greyhawk up until the advent of the Greyhawk Wars meta-plot, after which I kind of lost track of events and situations.  So in my mind, Greyhawk will always be stuck in those early days, which means this is an opportunity to revisit the imagined lands of my childhood.  I remember when my best friend in grade school showed off the original Greyhawk maps, and we gleefully recognized names and locations alluded to in some of our favorite modules.  Later, when I got the first World of Greyhawk boxset, it gave actual map coordinates for many of those same adventures, which brought a sense of depth to the world.  All of which leads this campaign idea to be just my sort of thing.

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Marvels, Mutants, and the Murder Castle

March 6, 2012

Available right now in PDF from DriveThruRPG.com and later this month in print, the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game is by Margaret Weiss Productions, the same folks who brought you the SerenityBSG and Supernatural rpgs.  More to the point, they are the ones who did the Smallville and Leverage rpgs using a system called CORTEX Plus, a variation on their standard dice pool system from those earlier games that is extensively modified to suit the particular game and genre being emulated. With Smallville, you’ve got dramatic tv series with powers rules that under the hood could do just about anything the awesome indy game Prime Time Adventures can do, though with a more codified tactical structure.  Similarly, from what I’ve seen of the Marvel game, it does a similar job for high action serialized stories (ie comic books, or even, dare I say it, the pulps!).  As PTA is to Smallville, I see Spirit of the Century (or more generically FATE) is to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Friends of mine worked on the book, and the preview I’ve seen so far looks beautiful.  I ran a demo of the MHR game at my FLGS, The Gaming Goat, this past Saturday.  This was to be part of the official ‘Launch Party’ for the game, but since the print books have been delayed a few weeks, the Goat’s party has been postponed until April.  I showed up, anyway, in case some didn’t get word of the reschedule. Good thing, since two players showed, and a third who was awaiting a later D&D Lair Assault game joined in.  Since we were pressed for time, rather than run the prepared ‘event’, I simply started with my players choosing their demo characters, and followed the premise that suggested; Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine walk into a bar…

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The DM’s Role/Rule in 4E, Organized Play, and Beyond

February 28, 2012

As a D&D child of the 70’s and 80’s, I’d never questioned the rule of the DM.  It’s our shared game, but the DM is the glue that holds it together.  The DM makes up the adventures (or prepares the published modules) and runs them, adjudicating both the players’ actions and what response the adventure has in store for them.  Players know the rules, but don’t have perfect knowledge of how those rules are applied in the game world for any particular situation.  In other words, the role of the DM is to rule.

But that’s not necessarily true these days.

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I survived the Tomb of Horrors! (Though I didn’t finish, neither did it finish me) Part 1

February 28, 2012

With the upcoming limited edition re-release of the original core AD&D books (check with your LFGS for April – part of the proceeds goes towards the Gygax Memorial Fund), one of our local DMs, Clyde, decided he wanted to revive some old memories and run a bunch of us through the original Tomb of Horrors module.  A recent return to the fold of gaming, Clyde was a gaming child of the 1980’s as I was, but had last played in the AD&D days. Rejoining the D&D world through the Encounters program I was DMing last August, he has since jumped in with both feet, two-fistedly DMing or playing in upwards of six games a week, both 4E Encounters, Lair Assault (he’s become our main DM for that), Gamma World and Pathfinder.  Though he had a full group of 6 players sign up for this weekend’s run through almost immediately, he consented to run a test last week at the local gaming con, KitCon, after I ran the Lair Assault Talon of Umberlee for him to play for a change.

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D&D Next – Future Plans

January 11, 2012

So, the shoe has dropped.  D&D Next is announced, and I’m not even finished with the Heroic tier for my bi-weekly Keep on the Borderlands 4E campaign!  Not that I’ve been pushing them to advance, as my group has just reached 8th level and I see from my older posts they were reaching 4th at the end of 2009.  Granted we’ve had a few breaks for other games (my SotC Jazz-era LoEG game and a short-lived Arthurian D20 Modern game), but I’ve also been throwing a LOT of inter-related stuff at them in game, and since we get at most 3-4 hours per session, progress has been slower than I expected.  I think everyone has been having fun, though,so it hardly matters.

Still, since I have plans now into at least the early Epic Levels, considering a transition before I reach mid-Paragon is not something I look forward to.  And likely won’t consider, for this group, at least.  Since WoTC is talking about an extensive public playtest (or at least more so than in years past), it sounds like I’ll have at least another year and a half to make the decision.  As with many others, I figured something of this ilk would be announced for 2014 and the 40th anniversary of the game.  I was figuring at D&D Experience in January 2014, but now it sounds like that is being rolled into GenCon starting next year, so GenCon2013 appears to be the odds on favorite guesstimate of the ‘Next’ launch.

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[4e] Not Your GM’s Keep on the Shadowfell: Magic Surges

October 6, 2009

As I related in my previous post, our old DM from a multi-year 3.0 homebrew has taken over running a regular 4E game for my Thursday night gaming group, and being who he is, can’t help but change things.  Last time I discussed identifying magic items, and withholding their abilities until worn for at least 24 hrs.  This time, I’m going to try and figure out how replacing Milestone refreshes of Daily Magic Item uses with Magical Surges changes things around.

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[4e] Not Your GM’s Keep on the Shadowfell: Identifying Magic Items

October 2, 2009

First off, Mea Culpa on The Keep on the Borderlands articles that have been mentioned but failed to materialize.  Work and other obstacles have stalled me on that front.  But as my players have recently reached fourth level, and are taking a much deserved break back in the relative safety of the Keep, I may have a chance to catch that up as I prepare for the second half of the heroic tier.

In the meantime, I have started playing in another 4th Edition game with a different group, this time a weekly game (more or less) run by our old 3.0 – 3.5 DM.  While I am having fun, I feel the need to share some of the changes and modifications he’s made to the game, both for my own sanity but also so I can think through the implications and perhaps get some help pointing out the potential pitfalls, and avenues for exploitation.  The backdrop will be somewhat familiar to most 4th Edition players, as these stories will involve us progressing through his interpretations of the Heroic Tier adventures, starting with H1 Keep on the Shadowfell.

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Adam’s Amber Game Log 2

June 2, 2009

Session 2: 5/7/2009

Still in a meeting room at Argolin Castle in Jason’s Shadow of the Realm, Talon attends to his prisoner (a vermik) and interrogates it. Discovers that the gods had been to its home shadow and recruited some of its people recently. And it’s hungry.

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Adam’s Amber Game Log 1

June 1, 2009

This is a game log from Adam’s Amber Game, run at the EAGLES regular Thursday night meetings. This is the first post-Auction session, run on 4/30/09.

Leonardo, son of Fiona, was the first to see one – a creature out of Shadow that was just suddenly there. Was it hiding shapeshifted as a rock in the Grove of the Unicorn? Not wanting to confront it (and sure his stakeout for the Unicorn was interrupted) he calls in Julian by Trump, and heads back to the Castle.

He runs into Jason, son of Flora, and tells him the details. Jason senses a disruption in the local Pattern, and they go to investigate. Bryce, unacknowledged but known Patternwalker, was researching something in the Library when a similar creature appeared. Grayish, with a retractable sword in the arm. Bryce called for the guards, and together they finished it off just as Leo and Jason arrive.

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UpKeep on the Borderlands: Introductions

May 30, 2009

keepbw

This is the first in (hopefully) a series of articles on how I am approaching my first 4E D&D campaign. Consider this post zero; why I’ve chosen to use B2, Keep on the Borderlands as a basis to update, and my history with it.

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