Monday, January 30, 2012

4d6 drop the lowest, Woot!

One of the items I read in the live tweeting of the D&D Next seminars was that rolling stats was once again going to be the default. My initial reaction to this was much happiness. When I mentioned it to my daughter, she had the opposite reaction. I expect at least one of my friends to also object.

Those of you who have gamed with me in person know that my luck sucks. Almost no one on the planet rolls worse than I do. So you might be wondering why I prefer random stat generation?

The answer is simple. Diversity.

Every character should be different. It, well, gives them character. With point buy every axe fighter is the same. Every bow ranger is the same. It is boring and unrealistic. Yes, I want 'some' realism in my fantasy world.

If you do sit down at the table with a character that is different at least one person at that table is going to lecture you on how you did it wrong. If you put this there, and that the other place and move that there you wind up with an extra free point, yada, yada, yada. Ugh! There is even a forum on WotC's site devoted to this very thing.

My favorite character was created using the 3d6 in order method. He had an 18 strength and a very low (had to be an assassin) charisma. The numbers gave me the idea for his backstory, and also the clue to how I was going to play him. Yes, he got paid to kill people, but there was nothing cunning or stealthy about his methods. He wore leather, but did not carry a shield, because in AD&D that was a dead giveaway that you were an assassin. He passed himself off as the party fighter. Which he really was at first as the party started off with one wizard, one illusionist and my assassin.

I would never have created him if not for the dice rolls and the rules for minimum stats for classes. But as I said earlier he is by far my favorite character. So much so that a decade later when that same DM started a 3.5 campaign I recreated him. It even fit in with the story line which was that you woke up in a magic circle in the desert of what was clearly another world or plane with no memory of how you got there.

So to the min/maxer's and the it's not fair crowd I say...give it a try, you just might find yourself having a whole lot of fun.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Minis and Battlemaps, a Sacred Cow

First, a little biographical info to help you to understand my position on this topic.
I have been playing D&D since the sixth grade. This August, Gencon and I will both turn 45. I have Never played in a D&D game that Did Not use minis and a battlemap. I even still have the mini for my first character. It cost me 38 cents at the local bookstore, City News Stand. It is made of 100% real toxic lead, and I painted it myself with Testors enamel model paints and a brush that would be considered huge today.

So what does any of this mean to my vision of the 5th edition of D&D? In all the past Edition Wars, 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th I have heard the same argument. "We never needed minis before. They take away from imagination. They ruin the experience. Why are you forcing this foreign concept on us."
Every time I read these arguments I want to scream. Minis have always been a part of the game. Go back and read the history of how the game came about. Historical wargamers who wanted to play in a fantasy setting.

Now, through the editions there have been changes to how the rules interacted with the battle grid. They have become more restrictive, and varied back and forth on several issues. Many of these changes I do feel were unnecessary, and hindered somewhat my enjoyment of the game. Some of my more tactically oriented friends liked the very parts that frustrated me.
Like having to stand IN a square. When I started playing the grid was simply a replacement for having a ruler at the table. If you were standing on a line and could move 5 inches, you moved your mini up 5 lines.
Spell areas were simpler too. You could have any point on the map be the center of your spell. It didn't have to be the intersection of four squares, or the center of one. Where ever you took the pen and made a dot was your center. Once again the grid helped you map out your spell area without a ruler. If the spell and a mini partially overlapped the DM would usually give you a roll to see if you were in or out of the effect, or just declare it half damage. It was elegantly simple, and prevented the "I wasn't standing there" argument.
Then they said you had to be in a square. This led to whining that people who moved diagonally got to move farther. It wasn't "right", it had to change. So then we had to count every other diagonal twice. Drawing spell effects was a pain. It was good for the sales of templates, though. So then we had all these templates, and they dropped the double move in 4th.
The charging rules have also changed with every edition. Sometimes being so restrictive as to make a charge a very rare event. (I think this will be a future topic.) Opportunity attacks and other sorts of interrupts added to the complexity, and the grid went from common sense useful, to forced obligatory.

Bottom line...Minis and the battlemap are a Sacred Cow that must continue on in DnDNext. So why don't we change this conversation into fixing how the rules interact with them so they are once again a welcome friend rather than a dreaded enemy.

(The dragon can't catch me in his breath. I was standing behind him.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

D&D Next, or How I Finally Learned to Twitter

So, it has been ten or so days since WotC announced that they were working on the next edition of D&D. My first reaction was "I told you so," as I had been telling my friends and family for a long time that it was coming. I first said it with the release of the Essentials books. The nail in my coffin of certainty was the rehiring of Monte Cook.

After this initial reaction, I wanted to know more. The idea that WotC wanted feedback from their customers seemed a little odd. I am still not sure I believe it, but some names I know and trust seem to, so I shall wait and see. I entered my email to be notified of the public playtest, (it seems that being married to an LG/LFR admin is never enough to get you on the F&F list) and joined the Dndnext forum. I was horrified to see how many members and posts it already had by the time I had gotten home from work at 2pm eastern.

It was so chaotic and overwhelming that I gave up and moved to Twitter to follow it. I didn't even know how to use Twitter back on 1/9. I only had an account to watch for when the next Leo LePorte podcast was going to be. There have been a lot of good ideas discussed on #dndnext, and it seems that WotC employees are participating. Maybe there really is hope for that player input.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone