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Asheville Comic Expo just two weeks away! New RPG Kids table!

September 29, 2012 Comments off

Video by OpticScene

Excitement is building for the upcoming Asheville Comic Expo at the civic center. It’s a short two weeks away! Also there may be a zombie problem that may require some assistance from our local super heroes. Other than superheroes and zombies, there are sure to be a ton of comics, collectable toys, and games of all stripes!

Interested in rolling some dice and getting in on some roleplaying games? Sign up at the warhorn to reserve your spot at the table. This just in: Asheville Comic Expo will feature an RPG kids table! Unlike the little table in the kitchen at Thanksgiving, this kids table features Paizo’s Pathfinder Beginner Box, game mastered by local Venture Captain Paul Trani! We’ve reviewed the box here at this site, and it is one of the best introductions to roleplaying games available, led by one of the best GMs in the region! It’s a win-win and a great way to inspire the next generation of role-players.

The Asheville Pathfinder Lodge will be out in force for the event, but there will also be a few other RPGs to try if you are looking for something other than Pathfinder. I myself will be GMing a DCCRPG adventure, Sailors on the Starless Sea. If you’ve read anything on this blog, you probably know I’m a big fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics. This is your opportunity to give the game a try. Looking for something a little less traditional? Maybe a little wacky? How about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!?! This is an old system from Palladium games, and was one of the Skyland Games guys first RPG book. It is crazy fun! The RPGs are all being run from 12pm-4pm. Each table will take about that long to run, so the hardest decision will be choosing which one to play!

The Wyvern’s Tale will be there with tons of board games, running demos throughout the day. For those who can’t get enough RPGs, some more Pathfinder tables will be hosted back at the Wyvern’s Tale from 6pm-10pm.

The guys from the Deck Box are going to be running some Collectible Card Game events:

Booster Draft:  Triple Return to Ravnica Booster Drafts. $13.00 Entry, Single Elimination 8-person pods.  Payout will be Return to Ravnica Booster Packs with prizes given out as 4 packs to First, 3 to Second, and 2 each to Third and Fourth (4-3-2-2).  This is great because out of 8 players, 4 will get prizes, making the experience a considerable amount more enjoyable for players, (particularly new ones) as the focus is not so much to get First place.  It always feels good to win something, and this prize structure maximizes that.

Standard Constructed:  $5.00 Entry, Single Elimination 8-person pods.  Payout will also be Return to Ravnica Booster Packs with a bit more going to First, but in the same spirit (regarding prizes) as the Booster Drafts above (6-3-2-2).

All the Magic Events will be DCI Sanctioned.

They will also run one Scheduled Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament.  This event will be Advanced Format at 4pm, and will be $5.00 to enter.

In addition to that the Deck Box will run Kaijudo demos to give people a chance to try out Wizards of the Coast’s revamp of the Duel Masters card game.

If that wasn’t enough, there is going to be an awesome after party at the Emerald Lounge with Minibosses, Metroid Metal, and Danimal Cannon! It is going to be an incredible show, and an awesome expo! See you there!

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Many Sheets or One? The Character Builder Conundrum

September 14, 2012 5 comments

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in quite a few campaigns in the last 3 or 4 years. Some of which spanned 10-20 character levels. In 4e and increasingly in Pathfinder, the easiest way to level up your character was to open up the character builder, hit the “level up” button, and choose the appropriate options for your character and print it out. I think 4e was a worse offender in this arena, but often the character sheets were between 5-10 pages per PC. On Herolab for Pathfinder, if you’ve got an animal companion or heaven forbid a spellbook, the characters can easily get in to this range as well. My main problem with this is every time you level up, your printing again. If not, you have a game table filled with laptops and all the distractions they can bring.

For the Pirate campaign, I wanted to stop the madness. I printed out a Pathfinder Character sheet, double-sided, that I would use for the duration of that character’s existence. It’s easy on first level. Just run down the requirements for your given race/class combo, buy your gear and start rolling! As the levels progress, things get more complicated. You start getting more bonuses from magical loot you’ve found, or through feats and increasing your ability scores, and a standard character sheet can become a jumbled mess. My character in the pirate campaign is a elven ranger/rogue, and I have about worn a hole in both the ammunition spot on the sheet for my arrows, and the hit point area for when he takes damage.

Overall, I am really enjoying just having the one character sheet. I have kept notes on it from previous sessions, and it just feels more authentic to how I feel like a veteran character sheet should look. That being said, I had one session last week in which I forgot my sheet. I borrowed Steve’s laptop and did my best to recreate him in herolab as quickly as possible. It was wonderful to see all the options that applied to my character all laid out in front of me, allowing me to carefully way my decisions and draw from several source books worth of material quickly and easily. At the end of the process I printed him out: four pages. It would have taken me a lot longer to open all my books to the appropriate pages, evaluate the options, and add them to my existing stats. Even making a first level character with only Pathfinder books, a character sheet and a pencil can take hours if you consider all the possible archetypes and race/class combinations. It would have ground the session to a halt.

So what is the answer? Is one way better than the other? I suppose it comes down to personal preference. For me, I play role-playing games as an escape. I enjoy pouring over the books, and the art in those books. I like finding new things in them like a wizard discovering knowledge in a tome of ancient lore. I suppose it just comes down to personal preference: ease of use and a fair amount of waste, or piles of books and maybe missing out on the best option for your character while your sheet gets dingy with eraser marks and quickly scrawled notes. It all comes down to how you want to roll. How do you role/roll? One sheet or many?

Categories: 4e, DnD, Lore, Pathfinder, Pirates, Tips

Pathfinder Comic Review!!!

September 6, 2012 1 comment

Dynamite Comics debuted the Pathfinder comic line this month, and I’ve finally gotten my hands on it. Overall, I like it, but it’s not perfect. Then again, Rise of the Runelords had its own share of issues when it first came out.

I have been known to read Dynamite’s Princess of Mars series and Red Sonja comics, so I’m familiar with what they do. Mainly, that appears to be buying licenses and producing a lot of alternate covers of those same licensed characters. The art quality varies widely in much of the work I’ve read, and violence ranges from medium intensity to stomach churning. They ain’t Marvel, but they have a certain pulpy charm as a producer of comics.

Enter into that playing field Pathfinder. There is a lot to like about this comic. It has a hardcore D&D feel, starting with a goblin fight, rolling into a bar brawl and later a little site based ambush fighting. The iconics play the main characters in the narrative, and we see a little life injected into these characters we see often but hear very little dialog from in Paizo material.

That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff is that we are accustomed to seeing the Pathfinder iconics beautifully rendered. No one is going to be pleased or overly impressed with the illustrations here. Some is just plain bad. See the attached pics for some lower quality sketches. We also see the standard Dynamite gore, which is gratuitous, but within limits. But for the art quality, I’d say this was a big win.

What really pulls this comic out of the fire is some excellent extras. Source book derived Sandpoint stats, along with iconic stat blocks, and an foldout map with a detailed
encounter of Junkers Point from Rise of the Runelords give this some real added value.

Overall, it’s worth picking up and holds a lot of promise. Just give this pilot episode a few months to find its way, and you may see a few stories printed and locales illustrated like your never have imagined.

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Maptools and Hangouts – My first online RPG session

September 4, 2012 3 comments

I’m a little behind the times, which is surprising given that most of the guys from Skyland Games are very tech savvy, but I had never played a traditional tabletop RPG through the internet before last night. I was just a player in last night’s game, so I don’t have the true perspective of the preparations and what it takes to host and run a game (maybe the GM will chime in with his thoughts on the matter in a different post), but one thing I would certainly recommend before setting a date and time to run the game with all of your old gaming buddies from across the country is: do a dry run.

A few days before the scheduled game, get in contact with one of your players and verify that they can sign in to your game, see your maps, and be able to manipulate what you (the GM) want them to be able to manipulate on screen. We had very few technical glitches for the entire 5 hour session, and a lot of that was due to the GM testing things out with me beforehand.

Once the group has decided on the best software to run the game and chat (either typed, audio, or video), make sure you give your players a bit of notice if they need to download software (or incremental version of that software), establish a gmail account, or whatever will be required for the game. This will allow for everybody to get down to gaming, and not battle their computer. That is not the monster we wanted to defeat!

We used MapTool from RPtools for driving the maps and the mechanics. It’s nice and free, and a lot of dedicated RPGers have developed plug-ins for different game systems to automate a lot of different mechanics in game. For instance, we were playing Pathfinder, and the oracle wanted to know who would be included in her 30 ft. burst. Clicking the “Healing Burst” macro revealed the 30 ft. radius overlay and showed us exactly who all would be healed. Pretty awesome. The maps looked perfect since they were loaded in from a pathfinder society PDF, and movement was calculated in feet as you moved your token along the map. I imagine if you did this routinely, the setup work would become easier and easier. The actual gameplay itself was really fluid, and I felt may have moved faster than a traditional table.

We all used a Google+ Hangout for video chat. It does require a gmail account, but for most of us that isn’t a problem. It was fairly error free for all the players, and would have been OK for the GM had he not tried to open up a different web browser and HeroLab while he was hosting the game. We could all still hear him, but he couldn’t hear us. After closing a bunch of stuff and rejoining the hangout it all worked really smoothly and I would recommend it for chat during RPG sessions. I had heard it worked well from other RPG-bloggers, and that certainly seemed to be the case.

I still think the best experience overall is to get people together around a table and throw some dice, but if logistics and physical distance prevents that from happening on a regular basis, at least you can get your game on. Just make sure and try to work out as many of the kinks before hand, and you should have a smooth, enjoyable game across the country!

Goblin Moons and more DCC thoughts

September 2, 2012 5 comments

I wish I could say I have been recovering from GenCon, or that I’m at DragonCon this weekend, but sadly neither is the case. Its just been awhile since I’ve had much RPG-related to blog about. Yesterday changed that:

In honor of the Blue Moon on Friday, the guys at the Asheville Pathfinder Lodge wanted to hold a special event. Our lodge has had particular fun with, and recruited several new members by playing the free Paizo adventure We Be Goblins! It offers the unique opportunity to play Goblin PCs. At least it used to be unique until they recently released the Advanced Race Guide.

Informed by the material in that book, and borrowing the pre-gens from “We Be,” one of the regular APL GMs goblinized the First Steps intro module In Service to Lore. More than just a simple re-skinning of familiar encounters, we’ve created a goblin version of the Pathfinders called the Raidmakers, complete with 10 different goblin factions. Examples include: Ooo… shiny!, Fire Fire Fire FIRE!, Dog-hate, Eight-Fingers, Why Longshanks Get Rid of Good Stuff, etc. All of these line up with a respective “regular” factions we’ve all come to know.

The modules are still in alpha, and of course, completely unofficial, but the players seemed to really enjoy getting to roleplay goblins again with brand new encounters. Once we get them polished up a bit, I’ll check to see if we can post them here and spread the love for our little toothy, watermelon-headed friends.

In other news, I GMed a few sessions of DCCRPG and completed the adventure that came with the special edition of the core rules, #66.5 Doom of the Savage Kings. It was pretty awesome, but the players had some constructive criticism about the system in general. One of the main ones is that their PCs are too fragile! This was a first level adventure, and we had each player running two 1st level PCs. There were a few close calls, but no true fatalities, but the potential was certainly there. Have we become used to having 20-30 hit points on first level from 4e? Maybe. But it does stink to put a lot of effort in to a 5 HP character, only to see him get mauled by a dog or taken down by a brigand.

The other complaint is that most of the PCs aren’t very good at anything. One player had a Wizard with 13 intelligence. That character would never have made it past the character creation stage in any other system. It’s a fair point. So far, we’ve been pretty much playing by the book, or Rules As Written. That may change for future DCC sessions. Right now it feels like DCC Super Peasants! We may create something like DCC Heroes, that allows “5d6 take the top 3” for rolling stats, and rather than rolling them straight down the line, being able to assign numbers to the key stats you want. We may also re-roll 1s and 2s on hit dice so they have a decent number of hit points. Also, we may choose Race/Classes rather than rolling them randomly, as we’ve played several sessions and had about a dozen elves and dwarves, but not a single halfling. We’ll keep experimenting and let you know how it goes! We have plenty of material as I’ve bought all the DCCRPG modules released so far including the gorgeous Special Edition 13th Skull.

The Pirates set sail again this week, as we continue our Skulls and Shackles campaign. It will be good to put my pirate hat back on, and set sail for adventure!