Saturday, February 20, 2010

The perils of 4E and Power Cards

There's a good thread going on over at about a recent promo video posted to YouTube in which the DM, a WotC employee I won't mention by name because I think he seems like a good DM and innovator aside from this cited instance everyone's ganging up on, made what seemed to be a debatable call about a D&D power card that a player wanted to play. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially on a game as open to interpretation as D&D, and that's not where my concern is. But, if you read through the below thread, you'll see that the objection many more of us are starting to have deals with the actual 4th Edition powers themselves. If a player can or can't do something based upon a series of actions built into the rules, that kind of limits the game. Sure in AD&D, a wizard was only as good as his spell list, but typically he/she had other ways to contribute (at least after 1st or 2nd level...). But to this poster's point that I quote in my response, below, it seems that in 4E, you spend a few hours debating what card justifies what, whereas in many other RPGs, you'd be well into the adventure by that point.

Original Post By WarlockLord on Enworld:
This mentality needs to die

This. This is videogame logic, the logic that won't let you get past the Ragecandybar man despite the fact that you have 2 dragons and a ghost in your pocket. Tvtropes. Why is this considered good? And would you want your DM to do it?

Quote from another poster, and my response:

Originally Posted by nedjer View Post
WTF? Did I just watch someone spend about a month not opening a door. Wasn't even an interesting door. I assume the guy who left the table popped out to hang himself.

Was playing rules light with a kid last night. In almost the same amount of time as that video she knocked out a couple of goblins, then wounded, healed and befriended a timber wolf, duelled with a goblin shaman, interrogated another goblin who told her to drink from a fountain. Didn't drink from the poisoned fountain but evaporated some of the water to form a blade venom and . . .
Bingo - and that's the problem I'm finding the more and more I run 4e. It becomes about "but I have a card that does this" rather than, "Wouldn't it be cool if I tried this action that's vaguely justified by this elaborate game of pretend we play?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Obsidian Portal

I'm building out my old RuneQuest campaign on Obsidian Portal, tonight. Has anybody out there used this for managing a campaign? It's got some great features for managing your maps (you can drop markers for different adventures and locations on the map), integrating a forum tool, wiki pages... Lots more cool stuff. Check it out!

Also, major points for leveraging Vimeo streaming video as the instructions for using the tools. Very cool!

PS - I'm also updating the campaign to RuneQuest II. Any advice there is appreciated.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why do I feel like I'm being punked...?

WotC is releasing a new Dungeons and Dragons red box using Larry Elmore cover art?!?

New product description here.

Nostalgia kick or April Fool's gag being posted to the wizards site months early???

UPDATE: 2/19/2010 - So, Wizards has updated the cover box art to remove the Larry Elmore image - a shame...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kingdoms Live Update on iPhone

Riding off of my post about how crumby the iPad sounds to me, I feel I should give Apple some love. The iPhone does have a lot of cool stuff going for it (although, my wife's Droid makes me jealous), and the volume of stuff in the app store is one of its biggest assets. Shortly after getting the phone, I downloaded a bunch of free games, including Dungeon Quest and Kingdoms Live. Both are casual social games (billing themselves as MMO's, but that's a stretch...) Most of the functionality is of the FarmVille model - complete a quest, get a prize, buy stuff with fake currency to complete another quest. You can invest real currency into the games to upgrade your character, and Kingdoms Live is the only instance in which I've ever done that - to expand my party. For a while there, Dungeon Quest was my fave - its tie-in's to both Facebook and its cross-platform support on Android devices are hip. But check-a-dis! Kingdoms Live now has support for achievements/badges, much like an XBox game or 4Square. Pointless, true, but it adds a new aspect to the gameplay that adds to the social/competitive nature of it.

Check the release notes here:
and the overall description here:

And for those of you Android people out there, check this out and let me know what you think - a game called "Parallel Kingdom," which is basically Zelda using Google Maps... Hip!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

EnWorld Post - Gamma World coming back?!?

Eeee! One of the best RPGs of all time is rumored to be coming back?

Did anyone play the D20 incarnation? My pals and I had a great time playing it, using the D20 Modern rules. We leveraged an absurdist setting in which Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney led an army of mechs and zombies across the U.S. Ah, when this comes true one day, we'll all just sit around and laugh...

Monday, February 1, 2010

iPad and D&D - the enworld thread, and my take

There's a good thread going on at right now about using the new iPad in gaming.

A few good ideas, to be sure, but I'm not sold. The iPad won't make reading PDFs any easier at the gaming table than a 10" net book - if anything things will still be shrunken down too much. Had they made the thing as big as apple's tablet-style laptops oh 5 years ago, this would be a slam dunk of a device. But at the size of a large iPhone, I really don't see this changing things all that much. One idea posted on the thread that was neat was laying the iPad flat and putting minis on it, but in practicality being able to use a real - much larger - actual battlemat seems to be more useful for combat in rooms wider than 5 squares by 7 squares or so... (and if you're playing 3rd or 4th edition d&d, those scenarios will be rare at best...)

No native support for a camera or SD card for PDF's... That's kind of the piece that seals it for me. I like the idea of integrating technology with gaming - heck, that's the point of this blog - but this device seems like form over substance for me, as it relates to my hobby.