TotalCon is New England’s largest game convention. 2013 marks Jonathan’s 3rd year in attendance. He recounts his top 5 highlights from the con.
TotalCon is New England’s largest game convention. 2013 marks Jonathan’s 3rd year in attendance. He recounts his top 5 highlights from the con.
It’s true! Want to go old school, or even sorta old school with 3.0, but do it in a digital way? Now you can! As of 8 am this morning, 80 titles are available at D&Dclassics.com with more bundles being launched in February. It’s a partnership between Wizards of the Coast and OneBookShelf, which means your DTRPG or RPGNow account grants you access. As the year moves forward, I’ll expect you’ll see a growing collection of awesomeness here.
For those who’ve already asked, if you’ve purchased a D&D PDF through DriveThruRPG or affiliates, when the updated PDF becomes available, you’ll already have access to it. Pretty sweet!
Most of these titles will fall between $4.99 and $19.99 in price.
The official press release:
At our Gen Con 2012 keynote address, Wizards of the Coast was pleased
to announce that in early 2013 we would be releasing the first wave of
D&D backlist products in electronic format.
Today, Wizards of the Coast together with DriveThruRPG, is thrilled to
announce the official launch of Dungeons & Dragons Classics, a new
online PDF store containing classic content from every edition of D&D,
including fan-favorite supplement materials and iconic adventures. A
one-stop-shop for classic D&D content, DnDClassics.com offers an easy
way to access and download favorite titles electronically by computer,
mobile phone, or tablet (including iPads).
How does it work? It’s easy! Simply create an account* and instantly
gain access to a wealth of D&D titles. There are 80 titles available
at launch, with smaller batches of additional titles being released on
a rolling basis starting in early February. Favorite titles can be
downloaded to an online Library or saved to a “Wish List” for purchase
later. Most titles can also be printed. Settings can also be
customized and users can opt to get email alerts whenever favorite
publishers or topics get new items (*Users can also sign-in using
their DriveThruRPG.com or RPGNow.com login).
We encourage you to share this exciting news with your readers. For
more information, check-out DnDClassics.com or visit Wizards.com.
Pretty cool news for a Tuesday morning!
Two answer the two big questions, every published edition of D&D will be available, and WotC are not sure if D&D Next will be available as PDFs through this site yet. Also, all PDFs will be watermarked, but there’s no limit to how many copies you can download for your various devices.
So, for those of you that missed it, the upcoming rules set of D&D has entered a public beta, and you can sign up now over at Wizards of the Coast (be careful, there’s still some server load and issues with download links. Check their Twitter for help if needed.)
I’ve been looking forward to the public beta, not only because D&D is what brought me into roleplaying, but because I might actually get to play some D&D with it.
I tried to get into 4E when it came out, but among a great number of the people I might actually play with, it wasn’t really popular. A great number moved on to Pathfinder, the rest clung to 3.5 because the new version was “too complicated” and they “got bored during character creation” (actual responses when I tried to get a few to play – they refused my help with explaining it to them, too). I’ve been hoping that the new rules might make them realize that there are other versions of the game they love so much, and whilst they might not play exactly the same, fun can still be had playing them.
Now, I want to stress that I haven’t finished digging through the playtest materials, but I’ve gone through them enough to mention a couple of highlights. I also haven’t played the game, but that’s happening next week, so there will likely be a follow up article about that.
So, on to my first impressions.
It feels like an amalgamation of the different editions of D&D. I’ve not got a lot of experience with the earlier stuff, but I can see some of it coming through. Some quick (though actually a little detailed) highlights:
I’m excited by the adventure, The Caves of Chaos, which is part of Keep on the Borderlands. I’ll be playing this week with a small group, so I can get back to you more on the adventure then, and how the game itself plays. From what I’ve heard of hints from the closed playtest contingents, I’m excited to see how well it all works together.
There are still a few things I’m unsure about. The Dwarf’s starting damage with his Greataxe is 2d6+7, and I can only account for +6. And why does a wizard have 10 torches in a backpack if they can cast a light spell at will?
EDIT: I’ve been having more of a dig around. There are some more discrepancies than a simple +1 modifier for the Fighter – Greataxe in equipment is listed as 1d12 (which is the 4e damage value). For now I’ll run as the sheet says, but make a note for feedback.
Well, that’s my two cents for now, more after I’ve played the game itself, probably with more commentary once I’ve had a better look at the rules. What are your thoughts so far?
A few weeks ago, a commenter lamented that I didn’t give specific examples when it comes to the suspension of disbelief, breaking it, and potentially getting it back. I aim to
misbehave please, and thus I’ll try to expand upon that idea a bit more. Here are some sure-fire ways to break the suspension of disbelief and rip your players out of the story:
Ultimately, they are called role-playing games, and there have to be some rules otherwise it’s just shared storytelling (nothing wrong with that, either). When there are rules, especially rules which take a lot of time to play out, that are difficult to understand, don’t really mesh with game very well, or are more tedious than actually fun, you run the risk of pulling back the curtain on the fantasy world you’ve delicately set up. There are many examples of crappy rules, but one that immediately springs to mind is the grappling system from D&D 3.5.
Now, grappling is a big part of 3.5 D&D. Many monsters do it, and they do it very well. It’s difficult for a seasoned player to create a character that doesn’t have some way of escaping from a grapple. However, the rules are quite horrible:
1. Initiate the grapple by moving into your opponent’s square.
2. They make an attack of opportunity. If they hit and deal damage, you fail to grapple.
3. Make a touch attack to see if you can “grab” them.
4. Make opposed grapple checks to see if you can actually “grapple” them.
You could argue that the whole system of attacks of opportunity is clunky and breaks the SoD, and I wouldn’t fight you too much. I think they make sense (let your guard down, get attacked) but sometimes it seems like it would have just been better to give you an AC debuff instead. Whatever. The problem with grapple, for me, always came around step 3 and 4. You have to make two checks, one to see if you can even be in a position to grab your opponent, and then another to see, ostensibly, if you can hold on.
I don’t know why this couldn’t be handled with one check. The reason for the above rules makes sense (grab, then grapple), but ultimately it pulled my players out of the game because everyone always seemed to forget there was a touch attack involved, then a grapple check, and then you didn’t really even do anything that round, instead you had to wait until next round when you had to make another grapple check to maybe do something to your opponent (like stab him with a dagger or bite his face off). Suffice to say, grappling was extremely clunky, and what exactly you could do while you were in a grapple (cast spell? use a weapon? move the grapplers?) was constantly a question.
A good rule of thumb here is that if you have to constantly reference the rule from the rulebook, you’re breaking the suspension of disbelief; if you have to step out of character to look through the rulebook for what you’re able to do, that sucks and it has brought you out of the game. You stop visualizing what your character is doing to that orc and go elsewhere.
Pathfinder made it a bit better (took away the opposed rolls), but not much.
These are facts and not hypothesis. With the veracity of these declarations beyond doubt we come to the issue of roleplaying games. For ages they have been dominated by fantasy settings as notably evidenced in Dungeons & Dragons. To a lesser extent other settings are commercially available with science fiction being popular. Star Wars, Scion, Legends of the Five Rings, White Wolf, and Dark Heresy are some of the many varied and popular venues.
Visibly absent is anything set during World War II. Why is that? The war canvassed the globe touching different environments and people. It is already equipped with conflict and equipment for adventurers to use on their quests. It is so large that DMs can write their own story lines without changing history…and if they changed the history who cares?
Are companies put off by the known outcome? Are they concerned that gamers would have to deal with Hitler’s genocidal programs? Or, are they worried that customers will dislike recreating historical engagements?
Yes, we all know how the war ended. We know the general facts of the war. We know the broad strokes. While Hitler is a rightly despised individual he can be used as a teaching tool. We can use the roleplaying game to put gamers in the shoes of those touched by the concentration camps, the forced breeding, and the paranoid secret police. If knowledge is power, then we can use the game to educate people and thus give them the power they need.
If companies are concerned about recreating history, then perhaps they need to have a glance at the innumerable reenactments and organizations that bring the history buffs together to replay past battles. Those individuals know who won, who lost, and how it happened but they gather year after year to recreate the events. Clearly, there is demand for this.
To all the game publishers I say that I don’t know why you are not releasing WW2 roleplaying games. But, I do know that you are missing out on a fiscally lucrative and interesting market for a game. You have me befuddled.
I have noticed a trend in my gaming habits over the many years. As a system starts to release more rules supplements I slowly begin to lose interest in that system or at the very least begin to feel overwhelmed at the number of options. With the D&D genre as an example and a touch of Pathfinder thrown in my gaming pattern highlights this trend.
The Sea Grows Deeper
I stuck with 1st Edition D&D right up until the 2nd Edition of Advanced D&D came out. I played that during high school and early college and then the options increased with the release of numerous “splat” books. Some of them were actually pretty fun and did offer interesting options, but as time went on the sheer number of options became overwhelming. Coupled with other life events I took a break from RPG gaming.
I came back with the release of D&D 3.5, yes, I skipped D&D 3.0. D&D 3.5 was great fun. It scratched all the right itches. I really liked the flexibility and felt like I had the tools at my disposal with the class system, skill system, skill resolution and feats. The core books provided everything I needed. I even bought into some of the Complete series of books as well, though that did signal the start of option creep to me as well. Eventually as more option books and rule supplements were released I began to lose interest with D&D 3.5 as well.
I took a much shorter break from RPGs during the awkward 3.5 to 4e phase, made even easier as the 4e rule set just did not attract me to that release. When I sought to come back to the RPG table it was with Pathfinder. At the time there was only the core rulebook and Bestiary in the Pathfinder rule system. It was great – I was back to a core set of rules, there weren’t hundreds upon hundreds of options to choose from. It felt safe and the game felt less about the rules and options and more about playing the game. I really enjoyed my early days of Pathfinder gaming.
Next the Advanced Player’s Guide was released. I also enjoyed this book, it added just the right amount of options and choices in my opinion. A very solid product offering and I easily put it in with my core release assumption of the Pathfinder System.
Now it seems Paizo has started with the unrelenting release of rule supplements with the Ultimate series of books and the even more recently announced book with 30 new prestige classes due in the upcoming year. So once again I find myself trying to stay afloat in a sea of feats, classes, options, archetypes, spells and more. And once again I find myself intrigued by other systems as my life raft to regroup and refocus.
I think there are two seats at the table to look at the amount of options, that of the player and that of the GM. Let’s take a closer look from these two seats through the Pathfinder lense.
I’ve never played Second Life but I imagine the world of Oasis that Ernest Cline created in his debut novel Ready Player One is what the developers hoped their online world would become someday. Set in the year 2044 and the world is pretty much a shambles. Most people escape the reality of their lives by logging in to Oasis, a massive multiplayer online universe, created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow that allows them to immerse themselves in traditional MMOs, become a character in their favorite movie, or just explore fantasy or science fiction settings in whatever way strikes their fancy. Gregarious Simulation Systems, the company who runs the Oasis, also allows schools, churches and employers to use the universe. The best part is that it’s mostly free to play, with options to buy up on gear and extras. People can literally have everything they need delivered to their homes and spend their entire waking life immersed in this online universe. It’s as close to a perfect life as any average person in this dreary future can hope to have.
And then James Halliday passes away leaving no heir to the billion dollar company and universe so many people rely on. At the point that Halliday dies, Ogden Morrow no longer has anything to do with the company. Instead of leaving GSS to simply become a stock holder owned company, or selling it off to the highest bidder, Halliday’s video will (sent to every person with an Oasis account) announces a contest for his estate. An “Easter Egg” hunt through the Oasis universe where three keys must be found to unlock three puzzles to be solved. Whoever does it first inherits Halliday’s entire estate and control of Oasis and GSS. People devote their lives to the contest. Egg Hunters become known as Gunters. Five years pass and no one has even found the first key. In addition to Gunters, the company Innovative Online Industries (IOI) also actively hunts using their employees in a loophole of the quest rules that they are using to try to win and gain control of GSS and Oasis for, you know, the usual Evil Corporate purposes. Enter the hero, Wade Wyatt, an 18 year old with not much to look forward to in life. He’s a dedicated Gunter who’s spent his free time learning every detail he can on Halliday—the games he played, the movies he loved, and everything about his life and history. Because Halliday was a child and teen in the 80’s, and because so many people are like Wade in his obsession with finding clues in the man’s past, the 80’s has once again become popular. But it’s that kind of obsession that will lead Wade and four other Gunters into a race to beat IOI to the holy grail that is Halliday’s treasure.
There are references to post 80’s MMOs and enough description of what has become of the world (the grand divide between the haves and the have not’s) that’s just enough to make you realize why everyone would rather spend their lives in a virtual world instead of the real one. But if you grew up in the 80’s, and especially if you were a geeky kid of the 80’s, this is a wild nostalgic ride. A reviewer on Goodreads called it “nostalgia porn”. It’s exactly that and so much more. There is something from nearly every facet of the 80’s that pops up in this book. Remember Zork? What about Ladyhawke? Or Dead Man’s Party? You will find a lot of descriptions of old console game systems like the original Atari and some of the first home computers like the Commodore 64, but you’ll also be treated to reminders of the movies and music that were popular in the 80’s. I found myself more than once reading a passage and smiling because I hadn’t thought of a particular song or movie in a while. This is also one of those books where you find yourself justifying all the time you’ve spent memorizing movie quotes, pop culture trivia and walk throughs of video games you love—it’s not a waste of time, SOMEDAY there could be a billion dollar contest that requires the exact combination of “useless” knowledge you have in order to win it. The book is an adventure I highly recommend you take. So, are you ready player one?
Proprietary cases are a great way to give your minis the love that they deserve, but they can overkill tabletop RPGs. Here’s a quick and dirty way to keep them safe, while keeping your budget under $10