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Archive for November, 2012

A plan for the future

November 26, 2012 2 comments

Don’t bother the kids while the GM is narrating!

It’s been over a year since we started this blog, and frankly I was running out of steam. We have a new plan in which we will be updating the site on Mondays, with a different guy from our group posting every week! It’s not like the gaming world has stood still since my last post, so let me bring you up to date with Skyland Games happenings.

First off, ACE was a really great time! There were tons of comic vendors, people dressed up in costumes, and bunch of people having a great time gaming! I think the best thing in the gaming corner was the 12 and under kids table, featuring the Pathfinder Beginner Box run by Venture Captain Paul Trani! The fantastic guys at The Wyvern’s Tale gave each kid a set of RPG dice just for participating! I sincerely hope we created some life-long gamers at the event. It is great to have the veteran grey-beard gamers with all the years of gaming experience and wisdom that comes with them, but in the age of pervasive video games and a million other distractions, it is increasingly important for us to recruit the next generation of gamers. According to RPG Research, things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Next, the Asheville Pathfinder Lodge is flourishing! We have an awesome one year anniversary event planned. The lodge will be running several different tiers of Blood Under Absalom, a special Pathfinder Society module that can usually only be run at big cons, since it requires five simultaneous tables of players all running through the same encounters at the same time! I played through it at SCARAB last year, and it was one of the coolest RPG events I’ve ever been a part of. If you are anywhere near western North Carolina, be sure and sign up at the warhorn to reserve your seat at the table!

Also, some of the guys from our group attended MACE down in Charlotte and had an excellent time playing Pathfinder Society scenarios and checking out the vendor area. More details to follow in a later post.

I recently ran a DCCRPG game, in which we modified the character creation rules significantly. One of the chief complaints from my players about Dungeon Crawl Classics is that due to the strict character creation process (3d6 for stats in order, 1d4 hit points) the PCs in the game feel very fragile, and aren’t generally very good at any particular skill or stat. To make our heroes more, err, heroic we made the follow adjustments dubbing it the DCC Champion character creation rules: Roll 5d6 for stats, take the highest 3 numbers showing for each attribute. Choose a race/class rather than rolling. Rearrange your stats so your high rolls can be in key attributes for your race/class. Start at level 1 with maximum hit points based on the hit die for your class (4+HD). We played through about half of People of the Pit and while it was less lethal than the Rules As Written, it was still very challenging, but the PCs seemed more effective at their chosen professions. No more 12 Intelligence wizards! That being said, I’m still on the fence about whether it is better to have a PC with very average stats, that survives by wit, cunning, and that fickle mistress luck, or in the interest of heroes being heroic, its more fun to nudge the bell-curve in the players favor. I think to each there own, and as long as you have fun, everybody wins.

In D&D news, the latest edition of encounters looks like they are transitioning away from 4e and allowing players to try D&Dnext as part of a public playtest. Players and DMs still need to sign up for the playtest to participate, but players who want to try it out and haven’t signed up yet can play one of the pre-gens. I met the guys that make up Skyland Games at a D&D encounters game several years ago, and the program has its merits, but just doesn’t fit my schedule right now. I am thrilled to see WotC break open the TSR vaults and reprint some old classics, but with DCCRPG being very compatible with old modules with very little conversion, I’m much more likely to run them with DCC than with 1e or DnDnext.

On the magazine front, there is some sad news, as well as hope that the torch has been passed to a worthy successor. The magazine Kobold Quarterly is no more. This will allow the staff to focus on producing awesome game supplements and adventures, but it is a sad day to see the scion of the print versions of Dragon and Dungeon magazines end. As one door closes, another opens: Gygax Magazine looks to carry the banner as a print RPG magazine. Clash of Echoes has an excellent interview with Luke Gygax, one of the creators of the magazine and son of the late E. Gary Gygax. With the new magazine comes the resurrection of the TSR name, but not THAT TSR. This is a totally different TSR. It appears as though the magazine is starting under a bit of controversy as Grognardia points out, the magazine is starting without the blessing from the Gygax estate. We’ll see how it all pans out.

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NPC CODEX REVIEW!

November 22, 2012 3 comments

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Happy Thanksgiving, Gamers!

Today, let us be thankful for the friends we have through gaming, and also thankful for Paizo for knowing what we need before we realize we need it. The NPC CODEX came out yesterday and I’ve been pouring over it in those brief hours, realizing just how much easier my life just got as a GM.

The Codex features a build at every level for every core character class (Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, and Wizard), NPC class (adept, aristocrat, commoner, expert, and warrior) and for the core Prestige classes (Arcane Archer, Arcane Trickster, Assassin, Dragon Disciple, Duelist, Eldritch Knight, Loremaster, Mystic Theurge, Pathfinder Chronicler, and Shadowdancer). I also has builds of the iconics up to level 15, which is good for the Pathfinder Society Player looking to jump into a game with a pregen.

The builds are each unique, with awesome artwork that brings each stat block to life in a way that makes me want to play half of these characters more than a few of my own.

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Each character totes level appropriate equipment, comes with a memorized spell list, buffs factored in from equipment and spells likely to be precast. This is a nice touch for me, as I always have a lot of hesitation regarding magical equipment for improvised enemies.

The names attached to each character in the codex is more of a descriptor or role: Wandering Mercenary or Death Master. Complimenting that role is a familiar Before Combat / During Combat section offering some strategies in how the NPC might be used. Occasionally they throw in a sample backstory or personality detail to add life to a concept, which is a nice touch. Seeing how Paizo has built these NPC’s has expanded my mind in how I might incorporate different class features to accomplish a theme for a character. It’s impressive and is well worth a look.

This book has some value for the PF Society player, but is more useful for the home game GM. Throwing in a few thugs or thematically appropriate bad guys (Halfling Cannibals? Elven Barbarians?) is made much easier. As my home game prepares to invade a school of Necromancers, the availability of several grim and ghoulish clerics, mages, fighters and rogues is perfectly timed.

What it lacks? I had hoped to see some of the Advanced Players Guide classes in here, but that awaits for a sequel. Generally there is only build per class per level, so there aren’t multiple 1st level cleric builds, for instance. The book, quite rightly, guides you to deconstruct or add to each class to bring it in line with what you need, however. In line with that, they have stat blocks with the various animal companions at different break points in the back of the book, which remains a useful tool for rangers and druids who want the animal companion ready to go.

I’m sure sales will determine whether or not a sequel does come out for this, but my feeling is this is a good book to have on the shelf for the player who likes to seek inspiration and enjoys seeing some different ways to get there, or for the GM that finds his party goes straight off the published adventure and into an unexpected brawl not even contemplated by the GM ( i.e. every GM ever).
Just pull this off the shelf and your ready to go!