Archive for the year 2009

Wherein CAB Pretends to be a Professional of Sorts

GMG4450CoverLargeSo, thanks to my good friend Phil, the ChattyDM, Goodman Games sent me a product to do a pre-review of.

I know, neat, right?

So, now that we’re finally finished moving and I’m settled into my new job on the other side of the country, I should probably get on that.  Let’s see… it releases…


Well, so much for the “pre” part.

Anyways, the book I was sent was Agazar’s Book of Rituals, and as I said, it is out today.  This is an interesting book, as it was “crowdsourced”, in a way.  Way back in January, Goodman Games put out an open call for submissions, and this is the result.

I have to say, knowing this, the end result is quite impressive.  Most of the contributors are not professional game designers (and many may not even aspire to be such a thing).  The fact that such a product even exists is a feat unto itself.

But that’s not what you’re here for, is it?

What the hell is it?

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CriticalAnkleBites and ChattyDM pretend to be journalists

Eiffel_Tower_sketch_2Yeah, that’s right, we’re back!

And we went to Gen Con! I should write more about that, but haven’t had any time, due to the next point.

We’re moving! To British Columbia! And need to find a gaming group in Kamloops! Any suggestions/offers?

Back to Gen Con, however. Just before we went, I was contacted by my good friend Phil, the Chatty DM. He said that he was scheduled for an interview with Bill Slavicsek and Andy Collins on Sunday, and asked if I wanted to come.

What the hell kind of gamer would I be if I passed that up, right?? (I am a particular fan of Andy’s work… my players still hate me for using that one.)

Unfortunately, Bill wasn’t able to make it, but we had a good chat with Andy, so all is well. Phil has part one up over at, where he rambles in overtired Québecois with Andy about DMing in general.  Read that first.

For my part, I got a number questions from the community members over at the forums of Andy Collins’ personal site. (Small forum, but a great group of people there.  Thanks, guys.) This was my first chance to actually be more than the general public, so I really wanted a chance to let the fans of the game ask their own questions.

So read part 1, and then continue here!

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Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic…

sarekThanks to Dave of Critical Hits, I have found some holes in my “no more ability checks” idea.

Making Bull Rush an Athletics check steps on the toes of at-will forced movement powers like “Tide of Iron”.  A Fighter trained in Athletics would actually find it slightly easier to Bull Rush than use “Tide of Iron”.  The only disadvantages would be the lack of damage and the lack of marking.

But this is not the kicker.  This can be accepted and dealt with, especially for powers like the Warlord’s “Opening Shove”, which allows an ally to shift or make an attack.

Rule 42.  Actions the rules don’t cover.  Ability checks come in during some of these, as attacks without weapons are essentially ability checks.

Trip: Strength attack vs Reflex

Throw sand in their eyes: Dex vs Fort


So, unfortunately, ability checks can not be completely done away with.

(But the little boxes on the character sheet that people keep confusing with their damage bonus, or vice versa?  Yeah, that can probably be removed.  Or at least moved away from the ability scores box.)

Strength checks? We don’t need no stinkin’ strength checks!

house-rules-lNote:  Holes in this idea have been found.  Read the next post for more.

So, we’ve been playing 4e regularly since September 2008, and like most groups have found some things that work for us, and others that don’t.

In 4e, however, there are a lot fewer things that we don’t use as written thus far.  Up until now, I’ve only found need to house rule three things.

  1. Daily Magic Item Uses – As suggested by Wyatt:

    Unlimited Item Power:  You can use any item’s daily power once per day but have no restrictions on your own uses, so you can have 10 different items and use all of their powers. Once an item’s daily power is used once it is spent – you can’t give it to another character for a go, for example.

    And if anyone decides to abuse the system by hoarding multiple cheap items, you smack them with the rulebook and take the privilege away.  They don’t get nice things.

  2. Skill Challenges – I haven’t quite figured out what to do with these, but had my first really good one at the MM2 Game Day.  They are not run by the book, however, and are affected by #3.
  3. Skill Check DCs – The errata’d DCs are too low, and make Skill Challenges a cakewalk.  The original ones (with the +5 for being skill checks) were too high, and made Skill Challenges too hard.  I use the new Skill Challenge system (X/3), as the old one didn’t scale properly, and the original DCs (sans the +5 for being skill checks).  It seems to give the difficulty I want.

And of course the minor per-character house rules, such as reflavouring powers or making a Wizard into a Druid.

But recently, I’ve been thinking over another house rule, which I want to present to you here (and to the players on Sunday).

Let me start with a question.

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Oh my, he’s at it again!

jared-hindman-dnd-delves-banner-1If any of you out there don’t keep track of Jared Hindman yet, I have to wonder why.  You’re missing out on some great content.

Well, it turns out he’s at it again, with Dangerous Delves Doodles – a.ka. Jared’s a Big Dice-rolling Dork (who plays with toys), in which he presents his interpretations of the entire new monster set of D&D Minis.

This time, however, I was beaten to the punch by WotC themselves.  As Jared says in his blog post:

If you check out the official Gallery page of Dungeons and Dragons (Click Here) you might notice something else cool.
Seriously…scroll down to the bottom.

I think it’s fitting that his alternate perspective was listed as Uncommon, don’t you?

I should also note that he’s looking at coming to GenCon this year, and wants to do commissions and requests (including D&D art) to help finance it.

Given the awesomeness of his Artsmash Tequila (and Artsmash Tequila 2), I think he’d be a hell of a participant in our Drunken D&D plans.

In other news, I’m finally graduated from Civil Engineering.  No more exams!  Which means updates may actually be coming soon.

On a related note, does anyone work for an engineering firm and want to hire or recommend me?

I need money so I can commission a banner from Jared Hindman, after all.

32 hours of D&D gaming party!

Remember the bigass 32-hour gaming event my FLGS (GameKnight) hosted last Game Day?

Well, they’re doing it again.  It’s starting… right now, actually.  I probably should have mentioned this earlier.  Oh well.

If anyone in Winnipeg didn’t know about this and wants to come down, get your ass down there!

I’ll write about it after the fact, and maybe post something before I crash tonight.  I will also have a twitter feed going once I get there this afternoon.  Check it out, if you’re into that sort of thing. This liveblog/livetweet/whatever won’t be on the site until later, however.  My schedule lately didn’t give me enough time to set that up.

The PHB2 Druid – Nature’s Schizophrenic

gmadjudicationYeah, I know, it’s a weird title.

Preamble: a group of us bloggers, through Ed Healy, got sent a bunch of promotional copies of the PHB2 (release date: March 17).

Now we’re writing about them, as bloggers tend to do.

We decided to split up the book among the group of us, with each of us taking one class and running with it, at least for our initial articles.  (Afterwards, we are free to write anything we want.)

Since one of our players (Roberta) is currently playing a Druid, I jumped on that one.  After our game on Sunday, we sat down and hammered out a level 5 druid for our game.

(To head off any questions: the picture at the right has nothing to do with the 4e druid.  They don’t get animal companions.  But it was an awesome picture from an image search on wild shape.  So there.)

I’ll walk you through what we did, and answer some frequent questions along the way.

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I have a PHB2 and you don’t!

beer_barbarianYeah, that’s right.

The PHB2, which isn’t being released for 13 more days, is sitting right here on my desk.

…or chair.  Whatever.  My desk is a mess and can’t hold it.

The point being, I have a PHB2.  And you, kind readers, do not.

How did this come to be?  Why, through the good Ed Healy, of the Atomic Array podcast, of course.  A group of us from the RPG Bloggers network are splitting up some parts of the book and will be posting all about it over the next little while.

By the way, CAB is a member of the RPG Bloggers network.

Actually, I’m a founding member.  And the resident tech/server guy.  And we’ve been a member since August 2008.

What?  I just never got around to talking about it until now.  Great place, lots of great bloggers.  Lots of great rpg content flows through that site every day.


The articles are slated to start going up around March 13th.

Personally, we’ll be tackling the Druid, at first.  Specifically from the point of view of our current “Druid” character (and her player, who has a thing for playing elven druids).

But after that, we’ll be doing other stuff, too.  I have a couple of article ideas lined up, including some collaborative stuff with Critical Hits, but I’ll also take requests.

Is there something you would like me to talk about/discuss/preview?

Let me know in the comments here.  And remember.

I have a PHB2.

And you don’t. :D

Scales of War – All sorts of updates

procrastinationSo, I should really have posted this a lot earlier than now. Sorry everyone. :( Graham posting again finally guilted me into posting.

ps. this is going to be long.

Anyways, things have changed since I last put up a DM Log; mainly that after we finished Rescue at Rivenroar, Graham took back the helm. He is now DMing, and I am back to playing.

The decision was made for 2 reasons: first, I was running into some mental blocks in trying to run a pre-written adventure. I write, so the main draw of DMing for me is, and always has been, the world-building and plotting aspects. I found that working with someone else’s story was sapping my creativity, both in-game and in my other endeavours. Long story short, my writing was suffering (ie. not happening at all), so I decided to drop the DMing to concentrate on the rest.

I do hope to DM again in the future. I found 4e was so much easier to work with mechanics-wise. Once we’ve had more experience with this edition, I want to run my own stories. For now, it falls to Graham to lead us.

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Musings on the Ages of RPGs

monalisaddSo, through Phil, I was pointed to an article on the “Ages of D&D” by James at Grognardia.

My comment got far too long, so I turned it into a blog post.

First off, I think it’s pretty apt that he uses many of the same terms used to describe comic book eras.  Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age.

It can easily be argued that Golden Age comics were, perhaps, more pure, more original, and probably a bit more naive.  But it’s nearly impossible to argue that it (or Silver, Bronze, whatever) was objectively better than any other age.

I find that fitting.

And did anyone else notice that, if you extend past the Dark Ages era (late 2e, according to James) to 3e, historically you would hit the Renaissance?

I find this apt, too.  See, the renaissance was a time of cultural change, after all.  Things got better (than the Dark Ages, debatable for previous ages), particularly from a cultural viewpoint, but culture and society changed drastically.  While they resemble the previous ages much more than the Dark Ages, they were still very, very different.

Again, seems fitting.

The Reformation fits well for 3.5e.

Age of Discovery/Exploration (which overlapped the Renaissance) can be used for the era following the Eberron campaign setting, as WotC explores new mechanics and options (Tome of Magic/Battle for big examples, and the Eberron setting itself), braving new waters with some drastic changes from what has come before.

And to continue the trend, 4e corresponds fairly well to the Age of Reason/Enlightenment.  During this age, much of philosophy moved towards a mathematical and deductive basis.  This didn’t sit right with some people, who demanded empirical evidence, and debates on which philosophy was “correct” raged.  (Pathfinder could be seen as the empiricist movement, perhaps.)  4e, as well, moved away from empiricism (simulation) towards mathematically balanced gameplay.

…huh.  That worked… surprisingly well.

Now I’m waiting for the Industrial Revolution.  C’mon, 4e d20 Modern!