Thursday, January 29, 2009

"to-hit" isn't quite what it used to be

Still yet, this post is a few weeks late from when it's events actually occurred...getting close to being current. B^]

As I noted in my first 4e D&D experience (a bunch of folks probably already know this but I am just now learning), the theory of "to hit" (or "Attack Bonus") being a focus point in 4e is something that other players (vets, included) have advised me of. It was something that I could see a lack of with that 1st level Dwarf Fighter, but I blame that more on the sucky dice rolls. I wonder if I mistakenly grabbed one of my old 0-9 (twice) d20s. I really don't seem to recall rolling anything above a 9. Hhmmnn.... Sadly, that was not the case. I guess my forgot to keep my pimp-hand... err... dice-hand strong that night.

Regardless, I also noticed the new weakened "to-hit", bonus-wise, when making a higher level character. I mean look at the Weapon Focus feat, for example. I was used to it enhancing my + to hit (limited 3.5 experience, mainly via D&D Online), but in 4e it enhances your + to damage. Same with some other gear, and such. I could be wrong, but that's how it looks to me, and that's how others who play a few times per week for the past 6 months see it.

Here's some more example: Look at this 8th level Elf Ranger of mine:

his basic ranged Attack Bonus ("to-hit"):
1/2 level = 4
ability (20dex) = +5
no + for Ranger as a class
Prof (a GreatBow is a +2 prof weap) = +2
no + for any feats
Enhancment (magical weapon: +2 Vicious Greatbow) = +2
no Misc +

So hit Basic Ranged Attack bonus at 8th level = +13

Honestly, that's not as high as I (a 4e newb) was expecting. Obviously one should try not be too quick to judge these things vs previous versions without looking at the other aspects of the characters abilities and the game features/rules. So, I will hold some judgment here on trying to directly compare this to OD&D or 3.5 D&D or anything in between. It's just weird when you are used to a certain named feature doing one thing, and then a new rev changes that feature, yet keeps the same name. /shrug

The cool thing, however, is the potential damage on some of these attacks that this Ranger has. Some cool attacks/powers that he (hopefully) will use are 2 attacks (2 arrows) per use (Two-Fanged Strike, Twin Strike, Split the Tree, etc).

This GreatBow, although it took a proficiency feat to use (Exotic weapons are now called "Superior"), is a 1d12 bow. Yikes! Plus it's Vicious. Double yikes!!

Anyway, I would love to go on and on, cuz this stuff gets me all giddy, but I am such a newb still with 4e, that I need the books in front of me to reference in order to not totally hose up anything else I'm blabbering about.

I will say that the "Adventurer's Vault" and the "Martial Power" books are very cool, and I highly recommend them. Again, this is with a whopping one whole play session and one whole planning session under my take it as you wish.

Still, real play experience aside: I like books. Books are cool. These two books are neat. I buy books. I am a book dork. ;>]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In which I make a Ranger who actually ranges (4e D&D: round2)

Again, this post is about a month late from when it's events actually occurred. I'm a little bit behind, but I'm catching up. ;>] Anyway, here it goes...

So my next foray into 4e was a lot more "local"...we're talkin' like 5 miles from my Anyway, there is a local gaming store (Blue Dragon Games) that has a few campaigns going with 4e (some still 3.5, and some other games too, but they are doing a lot of 4e there, so that's cool).

Now, I'm having trouble committing to a constant weekly group thing, as I have very little time as of late in RL. Well, they have scheduled some "sanctioned" RPGA events at the shop, including a series called Dungeon Delves (or something). It's basically broken down into sessions that include 2 encounters each, and are supposed to be sorta like 1-shot pickup games on a weekly basis. I think the deal is you can show up for one and miss the next, maybe show up for the 4th one, etc. We'll see. This is the sorta thing I need, since I cannot commit to a weekly thing fully.

So I went to the 1st session, and it turns out I was the only person on the planet that even knew about it, save the store owner and an employee/manager (DMing these). I only knew about it because I was in the store on New Year's Eve day, just out shopping (returning a gift or two from Christmas) and stopped in the store for a little browsing. They have added it to their website, so I hope there are some folks that show up next time.

Anyway, I got to at least make my character that night. The DM told me that everyone who joins in would have to make an 8th level character....whoah! Now that may be old hat to some, but a brand new system, with all new powers, skills, feats, classes, races, etc is kinda tough to jump into 8th level. But man, was it fun!

My 8th level dude, is a Ranger of the Elven variety.

He is actually going to "range" things. The Ranger in my 1st (level 1-2) group was a melee guy. This dude of mine will pop things from afar (whoah!). He has some sweet powers (at-wills, encounters, dailies) and feats, and even a little gear (you get to pick 3 magic items at that level, one at level (8), one below (7), and one above (9), so that helps out a little), mostly all geared to maxing his ranged damage.

He is gonna use a +2 Vicious Greatbow almost exclusively. The vicious is different than what I've seen before (3.5?, D&D Online/DDO). No damage back to the user, but it does nice work on a crit. Now I won't crit a lot, cuz they don't have the true improved crit stuff that I've grown used to (in DDO, especially), but when I do crit it will be massive!

In encounters Rangers get to tag their closest foe as their "quarry" once per round. Anyway, when you do that you get some nice bonus damage on them (1d6). With a feat that I took (Lethal Hunter) this additional 1d6 of quarry damage increases to a 1d8. Oh and as an elf, I can re-roll some misses, Eleven Accuracy or on the big attacks, I can use a power to re-roll some of! This is gonna be fun!

Man, I just hope I get to actually play this dork, as it took forever to make him. The employee/manager of the store (the future DM of these sessions) was *very* helpful and sat there the whole time with me pouring thru the books and such. Another player who is frequently at the store, playing in several campaigns, was also very helpful with some of the creation process. It was pretty daunting for a 4e newb, especially making this guy 8th level to start.

It was a ton of fun, and I never even rolled a single polyhedron....ha!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

my first 4e D&D experience(s)

Well, certainly 4e doesn't fall into the "back in '81" time frame, but let's be real. It's D&D, and D&D in any form, any edition - good, bad, or ugly - makes me bethink the good ol' days. So even though 4e is a modern thing, I'll babble a little about it here. If anything, it can be used to compare the new with the old. I like to compare them, but I also like to freakin' *play* them, so I don't bash any edition too much.


I actually got my first taste of 4e play from the series of podcasts (8 in all, so far), starting with this one of the guys from Penny Arcade, PvP, etc being DM'd by a WotC dev/DM/dude (actually 2 different DMs across the whole thing). Personally I think these are freakin hilarious, and I learned quite a bit about the new 4e system/mechanic/etc just from listening to them. If you haven't yet seen...err listened to them, you really should. There are some more upcoming podcasts from these guys, along with Wil Wheaton joining the fun with them.

Ok so I decided to try it out, and met up with a few dudes locally who had some 4e sessions going weekly. This first 4e play for me was actually about a month ago now, but I'm very late catching up with things recently, so I may pile a few 4e experiences in a row here, just to catch up.


It was a fairly new party/group but a couple of them had played 1-2 sessions together before, as this party. They were only level 1-2 though, so it was cool for me to jump right in, along with another new member to the group that night. The DM had played 4e before, but I think he told me he had never DM'd it, so it was new to him in that manner

My first character was/is a Dwarven Fighter (defender - hammer&board) wielding a new weapon from the "Adventurer's Vault") called a Craghammer: 1d10 1-hander that qualifies for some bonuses to my "Dwarveness" and a feat I took named Dwarven Weapon Training. Oh and the darn thing (Craghammer) let's you reroll any damage that you roll that is 2 or less (it's called "brutal 2", IIRC). So if I roll a 1 or a 2 on my d10 for base damage, I get to reroll that die...nice!

Too bad, I missed almost every freakin time....jeesh!

It appears that 4e is all about the "to hit"...they (devs) have kinda made it tough to do that in this edition. Damage is easier to pile up, but you gotta hit first, which can be tough from my experience and from some advice from vets that I played with.

Anyway, we only really had one major encounter (full on fight), and it was pretty big: about 5 or 6 ogres or varying toughness at the gate to the city they were traveling to from the last session. The Rogue in the group actually made a mess outta them pretty quick. Rogues can be very, very badass in melee in 4e, with some very cool backstabbing. Anyway, I missed a ton, so I won't go all into it...ha! Oh, I was just some dork along with the other new member (Elf Ranger) at the gates of the city who met the party by joining in and (trying) to help them fight these brutes at the gate. Anyway the day was saved and so access to the city was granted, as well as membership to this adventuring gang.

So, the rest of the night's session was spent dorking around in the city. The Dragonborn Pally and the Eladrin Wizard sold some crap and got a couple weapons (like a +1 longsword and a thundering dagger or something for the pally and the rogue). The rogue got into tons of trouble in one of the taverns, including gambling, arm wrestling (not really, he dumped the table on the guy), stealing...concluding with waking up the next morning tied to the bedposts in a room upstairs in the inn, with some weird glowing runes burned into his forearms...he met a lady friend the night before who just happened to have horns and a tail...go figure! This guy was really good at role-playing and making a typical night at the tavern into a pretty adventurous night for us, especially him...ha!

Anyway, we messed around in the town and just started to get mixed up on some errands for the royalty of the town (in their castle/downstairs...oooooo, creeeepy....) and then it was pretty late, so we called it quits.

They have probably met a couple times since then, but I had to bail, due to the holidays and such. Maybe I can join up with them again soon....dunno. Bummer part is that it was really not *that* local after all. I had to drive over an hour to get there....ugh. Hopefully a closer option will surface.

* BTW, these sa-weet images above are by Mike Krahulik, who is "Gabe"...err...John(athan) Gabriel in the Penny Arcade webcomic. If you are not hip to them surely are not laughing enough in your life. Go check out their stuff, and Scott Kurtz of PvP. They are awwwsummm!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Labyrinth Lord & Mutant Future my own backyard!

I meant to babble on about this a couple months back, when it happened, but alas stuff happens. At any rate, I snagged a real (or perfect) bound copy of "Labyrinth Lord", as well as "Mutant Future." I also have the PDFs of both games, from my first look at these games/rules, but the real copies are so niiiiice.

I got these bound copies from a local business that specializes in printing and gaming: Guild of Blades Publishing Group. I actually just found this shop via drive-by, and saw a window sign that stated "We Buy Games." Well, so do I! So I figured they might also sell the ones they

As soon as I entered the shop I saw LL and MF on their shelves. Awesome!

So, I snatched them up immediately, along with some "Fuzzy Heroes", "The Lost Toys", and some KoDT Hack! card game decks...great stuff.

I figured I could also order it from Lulu, Amazon, or even Barnes & Noble, but if I could buy it right then and there, and support a local gaming business in the process, then it was a no-brainer.

Now, many folks around the wonderful blogs that I read (see my profile for a ton of really nice ones, not to mention the front page here that only scratches the surface on cool blogs you should visit) have played one or both of these great games (LL and MF) and have given them rave reviews. A couple specifically that I know pointed me to these great products are Jeff's Gameblog and Grognardia. Jeff Rients (from said Gameblog) has several posts in which he discusses and reviews LL, so you should go poke around his blog as I am far too lazy to find them all for you here. Ah heck, here's a little help with that search. Same goes for James Maliszewski (over at Grognardia), but I will point you to a specific review he did of Mutant Future. He has many more articles regarding these games throughout his excellent blog. There are many other fine blogs that probably have pointed me in the Goblinoid Games direction. They are all in my bloglist. You should check every single last one of them. ;>]

I personally have only participated in a little Play-by-Post gaming using the LL rules (or really the Moldvay Basic/Expert worked too, but it was posted as a LL game), so I can't really give them their due review. I will whenever I get some good time in one them though.

I love Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic and Expert D&D and I also dig 1st, 2nd and even 4th edition Gamma World, so I know I already like Labyrinth Lord (B/E merged copy, almost), and I have a very good feeling that I will love Mutant Future too, seeing how it's basically LL with a Gamma World twist....sorta.

I plan on snagging some (if not all) of the modules they have produced for LL. Sadly, I haven't seen any for MF yet. Of course, seeing how these are very familiar rules, you can use pretty much any of your favorite early modules too. I have stacks and stacks of those (don't we all?) but I'd still like to get some of the new ones published for these games.

Two more sites for you to check out, if you haven't already: Uhluht'c Awakens (a blog by Daniel Proctor, the creator of LL, and co-creator with Ryan Denison of MF, himself) and Brave Halfling Publishing (a blog that features modules and other aids for LL and other games). They (BHP) also have the very cool looking "Kids, Castles & Caves" RPG for youngsters too. I hope to get to try that out with my kiddies someday.

Anyway, if you haven't checked these out yet, then you absolutely must. Get the pdf versions (here: LL & MF) if you wanna get a quick look. Then snag the real deal (bound) forms, if you really dig them. Heck get the hardcovers! I just might.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

50,000,000 Princess Leia Fans Can't Be Wrong

Holy Carbon Freeze! I just saw this post over at geekdad, and now my co-workers are wondering just WTF is so funny about this conference call in which I am (sorta) participating. ALT-TAB don't fail me now!

Anyway here's WTF is so funny: the very cool and hilarious animated short by Joe Nicolosi over at FishRockit that he made to visualize his friend Amanda's interpretation of the plot of the Star Wars Trilogy...sorta.

It appears to be getting a lot of action on teh internets, but it made me smile (and laugh, and choke, and urinate...huh?), so I'm gonna give it a +1 modifier with another plug here.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

It is filled to the rim with massive amounts of hilarity, as she (Amanda) employs such phrases as "he's got white-face", "brown muppets", "frozen with...the stuff", "the force is strong, or whatever", and "a big crusty white guy".

Sprinkle on a few more cups of "or something"s and "or whatever"s, and call it good!

My fave part has to be Princess Leia's "Golden Suit", which looks suspiciously like something I've seen before....hhmmnn. She looks hilarious in that thing, sporting that blaster.

Look for that special somebody at the awards ceremony. Oh, and the final kiss "alternative" ending. I don't quite recall that one. I wonder if Han shot first? (ok, that was bad...sorry...really)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pretty Frakkin' Funny (a quick BSG s1-4 video recap)

I saw these vids posted over at Topless Robot. That post credits TOYSREVIL, where a 3rd vid is posted (an extended trailer for the season 4.5). They are most likely posted in a trazillion other places too, but anyway here they are again, from YouTube:

Part 1:

with these these kooky narrations:

(1:33) - "they frak cylon-style and her spine lights up"
(2:24) - "Starbuck and Apollo like each other so they beat each other up"
(5:31) - "Apollo just gets fat, waiting for something to happen"

Part 2:

with these gems:

(0:37) - "she spends alot of time painting and acting bitchy"
(0:51) - "Chief thinks Cally off'd herself, so he shaves his head"
(3:43) - "they're BFF so Adama gets mad...and sad"
(3:47) - Apollo grows a pair"
(4:42) - "two knuckledraggers"

In summary:
(4:51) - "What the frak?!?!?"

I can't wait for season 4.5, but my poor, overworked, eternally-96%-full DVR sure can.