Monday, January 30, 2012

D&D Experience 2012 Follow Up, or Not

When I sat down this morning to write my follow up article on D&D Experience 2012 - DnD Next, it occurred to me that a lot of  assumptions were being made based on information that has been leaked on the internet, and bits and pieces from Wizards themselves. I looked over the links that I had bookmarked, the transcripts from Wizards of the Coast and I thought to myself, “What am I doing?" Let me take 10.

We are all very excited about the news of a new edition of D&D, HELL who wouldn’t be?

I would be able to once again buy a product that was actually labelled DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. How can we be excited beyond this point at this stage? Besides the lucky few that got to be part of the first open play tests this past weekend, how could we be. I mean honestly, tell me how does the game play? I can't answer that or expect you to.
Really, I can't! Why? Well, because what I like and what you like in RPG rules could be completely different and that’s a given. Most of us agree to disagree on a large part of the rules, with a few that agree on somethings. What I am looking for in a RPG might not necessarily be what you are looking for in a RPG.
Will the next edition of D&D cater to my style of play? I don't know, even if "Mark" down the road gave me a full breakdown of his play test experience, it is still from his perspective, not mine. So I am still pretty much in the dark really, if you think about it.

We are relying on third party information that is being passed along across the internet or word of mouth, but how reliable is that information?  Yes, I can hear you all saying that some of the information is reliable, as it is from Wizards of the Coast themselves, but in all honesty until I hold the open beta play test rules in my hands, I will continue to be a sceptic. So I wait patiently for arrival of Spring with baited breath.

Do I see myself buying into another rule system? I don’t know ...

I have switched to Pathfinder RPG from Paizo and I am pretty darn happy with what I am getting for my money. The company listens to its customers, the products are of a high quality and mostly importantly, and I have to especially complement Erik Mona on this, the fact that he himself takes time to answer mails that are sent to him.

I spent Saturday afternoon sorting out my RPG collection, as someone decided that it was time to spring clean …. I am not going to mention names, only that it took me a good part of the afternoon for me to get everything back into the correct order. This gave me a lot of time to think things through as I paged through my books packing them back onto the shelves. Yes, there is order to everything, especially when it comes to MY things. Anyway as I was packing my books back on the shelves, I looked down at the bottom shelf of my RGP collection and realised that I had spent a fortune on a couple of the game systems that I would never likely ever use again, EVER!

Why? Well to be honest they no longer appeal to me anymore. There is nothing wrong with the rules or the settings, they just not what I want to play. I could happily sit on a rainy day and page through them with fond memories, but I am a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS gamer through and through. It is what I am comfortable with, it is what I know and it is what I really enjoy playing most of all.

I love watching Sci-Fi movies, but that is where it stops, I don’t enjoy reading science fiction, I don’t like reading books where you have genres that mix, that’s just me. I played some Rifts, Cyberpunk 2020, Werewolf, Vampire etc. when I was younger and had a blast, but when I sit down and I want to design an adventure, my first thoughts are always of some sort of Dungeons & Dragons plot.

Early in the article I said that I really liked what Paizo has done with Pathfinder, a good solid set of rules that comes with a lot of options and I find that very appealing, BUT in the same breath I find myself drawn back to the set of rules that started it all for me, my beloved Red Box Basic Set. Hours and hours of fun had been had from those two red books.

The question is why do we continue to try and improve on something that doesn’t need to be improved? Hell, we don’t even need the rules, and it is what Gary said all along, we have the most important tool of all, our imaginations! Let’s face it you either a DM or you aren’t there is no real grey area here. I feel most comfortable in the role of DM, although I enjoy been a player, but it is not long before I feel the call, to once again adorn the mantle of DM and send my players on a perilous journey into the depths of my imagination.

Until the Starbreak ...

Friday, January 27, 2012

D&D Experience 2012 - DnD Next

I like what I am hearing, I really do, but I am still sceptical and will remain so until I have a copy of the playtest rules in my hands. I will say it again, "Wizards are saying all the right stuff, but can they pull it off?" Monte said the magic words - RANDOM TABLES! When I saw that comment I was immediately drawn back to my early days of sitting with my first edition Dungeon Master's Guide, dice and those fantastic tables, man I could generate anything, nothing was overlooked. What have we learnt so far? We know that the Warlord class has features in the Caves of Chaos playtest, we also know that there was a dwarven cleric in play.

Mike keeps hammering that there are three focal points to D&D - ROLEPLAYING, COMBAT and EXPLORING, I couldn’t agree more. The most important aspect of the game for me is to be able weave a tale that will capture my players. My players need to be drawn in and captivated from the get go, but this breaks down when there is too many rules that get referenced often. The players need to have an open dialogue with the DM that keeps the game flowing, rules are a secondary part to the game and should not get in the way.

I am really, really glad that they are going back to old school art. I don't think much more needs to be said on that. A number of other questions were asked and answered, I just highlighted a few, so without further delay, take a look at the transcript below and let me know what you think.

Mike Mearls, Monte Cook and Jeremy Crawford shed a little more light on what we can expect from the new edition of D&D in a live chat on the WotC site. DND XPSeminar

This is what Mike, Monte and Jeremy had to say, thanks to Morrus over at Enworld for cleaning up the transcript.

Q What needs to be preserved from older editions? Player/DM relationship?
Monte: The core mechanic of #dnd is: player says 'I want to X' and DM responds. Therein lie the stories.
Mike: Offering a wide variety of options so every player can play the way they want to.
Jeremy: The game being a toolbox for players/DMs to create stories together. And fireballs. (Some jokes about the importance of fireballs).

Q: What are the essential elements of #dnd?
Mike: The shared language: HP, AC, and things that lead to a shared culture.Shared stories: The Dread Gazeebo, the Head of Vecna, these things help make our common culture.
Monte: Different players have different desires for their games, DMs, too. Take the distilled essence of #dnd, and build upon that in a modular way. Each group can use what they want. You like tactical, grid combat, or feats and extended skills? Use those. If you just like the core game, just use that.
Jeremy: Our goal is to get something from the design team with a specific goal. It's analyzed and evaluated... We're there to reality-check and forecast what the proposed design thoughts would be, now, and down the road. My team also does a lot of number-crunching. We make sure that everything done fulfills the overall vision. A synthesis of the "Greatest Hits" of all editions of D&D. Present and past.

Q: How can we achieve balance in such a modular, flexible game?
Jeremy: What's important to know is that module approach is a spectrum of playstyles.
Jeremy: There's a baseline game that provides the foundation. From there, you add on what you want. The seeds are there.
Monte: For example, the basic game fighter might have specific level-bases abilities. Things that every fighter has. If you decide to get more customized, you can swap standard abilities for more complex, optional abilities. These are the kinds of things that feats do now. But the complex stuff is balanced with what's in the core. One character is more complex, but not necessarily more powerful.
Jeremy: The DM should be able to create the experience that their group wants. The players should be able to choose their level of complexity, and have it work no matter the options chosen.
Mike: You can see expressions of character types that are found in other editions.
Monte: The DM says: we're using grid, mat and minis. The players can then choose options that match the DM's style.
Mike: If we get this right, everyone is sort of playing their own edition of the game. All at the same table.

Q: How will roleplaying, combat and exploration be supported?
Mike: If we support those three things, we've covered about 90% of what's important in the game. The customization comes in at the table level. DM makes choices along with the players to craft their game.
Jeremy: If a group wants more social interaction, the DM can choose the module that support that. If the group wants more tactical combat, then the group chooses those modules.
Mike: For example, a mass combat expansion would have a basic, core system. Choose modules to play generals, etc. Are you seeing the mass combat from the top down, or from an individual's POV?
Monte: These choices hve helped influence class design as well. This lets a combat-heavy fighter and an exploration-based rogue to both fulfill their roles well. Bards can still kick ass. Depending on what a player wants to do in/out of combat, there will be classes that well support that.
Mike: Swap the core class bits to make the character you want to play.

Q: How will high level play work?
Monte: Every edition of the game "breaks down" at a certain level. I don't think it breaks down, I just think it changes. I think 4E does the best of highlighting that high level change and being clear that things are changing. I think that we can run with that for the future and have a list of options for classes/characters that open up when you hit a certain level. We can also have other options, like building a castle, having followers and vassals. We can build that into what high level characters get.
Mike: I think Monte hit on the really important point with saying that different people mean different things when they say the game breaks down at high levels. Some people are excited that their characters get really powerful. The question is what should that change really be? How should the game change at high levels? What should it look like and how should we build the breadth of options to cover that? Those are the real questions we're trying to answer when addressing high level play.

Monte: Instead of the fighter getting a better and better attack bonus, he instead gets more options to do stuff as he goes up in level, and his attack bonus goes up at a very modest rate. I think it offers a better play experience that the orc/ogre can remain in the campaign, and people can know how the monster would work from a previous experience, but they remain a challenge for longer.
Jeremy: The Monsters are in the design teams hands now and we'll be moving to development in the next few weeks. What I can say about this goal that Monte is talking about is that we're working ot provide the DM with really good world building tools. And it's important to provide information about the orcs place in D&D while making sure that a Monster remains relevant as the characters level up. They're might be an orc shaman, an orc champion or whatever for higher levels, but we also want the basic orc to be relevant at higher levels. We want it to be really easy for the DM to open the Monster Manual and drop an orc or iconic monsters into the game.

Jeremy: It's been great to see in playtesting how many different playstyles and desires have come up. The thing that's been driven home for me is how important his modular approach is, and the big tent to bring everybody in to play the same game. We know that the standard D&D game falls into the middle of all roleplay and all combat, but the feedback so far really drives home all the diversity and difference in desires and playstyles. When one person wants X and another person wants Y and they're both on opposite ends of the spectrum it's important that we take into those ideas and adding it in to our modular approach.
Monte: Making sure that a D&D wizard, or a D&D ranger feels like a D&D wizard/ranger is really important. Capturing that feel is one of the more difficult challenges because it's more ephemeral. It's difficult, but I think we've done a good job. When you get a chance to help in the playtest, hopefully you can let us know. (In response to a question: the ranger feels more like Aragorn than Drizzt).

Jeremy: We have talked about having advengtures that cater to very particular tastes - political intrigue or classic dungeon crawl. You can also have the sandbox adventure that is an environment with hooks, fleshed out NPCs, evocative locations, And it really becomes a canvas for players and DMs to paint on. Sometimes, I think that's the best approach for people who want to choose their own way, but sometimes it's better to give a more directed approach for people who need that.

Q: What's the targeted game that you would make for your table?
Monte: I would probably use miniatures, but I wouldn't necessarily want to get too tactical. For example, I would want rules for using a grid for movement around an encounter, but I wouldn't want to worry about too much detail. I would want there to be a lot of social interaction in my game and exploration. I would want those interaction to focus on player/character ingenuinity and descriptions of what they're doing instead of just rolling their dice and telling me what they got.
Mike: I like changing things up from session to session based on what's going on. I really want that flexibility.
Jeremy: I would want to have the flexibility to swing back and forth between mass battles and normal sized encounters, and for the rules to cover those kinds of things.

Q: How will multiclassing be handled? Will it go back to previous editions or be a feat tax?
Mike: We want to make it simple, but iconic class features need to be important as well. There are also packages we're looking at where characters can gain certain features or qualities that helps them branch out and feel like more of an individual or a real person.

Q: In the recent editions it looks like a lot of the player options have been narrowed down to things they can/can't do in the rules. Is this next iteration going to get away from that?
Monte: While having options in the rules is great, we want to open things up so players can get creative and ask to do things that are specifically covered by the rules. We want to empower DMs to with information in the DM guide and others resources to be able to handle those out of the box situations. So basically better gaming through better DM tools and DMing.

Q: Are the random tables going to make a return to D&D?
Monte: There are a few different groups that most DMs fall into, and one of those groups wants to have randomness or at least an easy way to drop something into the game. I do want to make sure that we have those random tables for support for those kinds of DMs.

Q: Is there a timetable as to when we can start playtesting?
Greg: The open playtest starts up sometime in the spring, and that's about all the information we have at this point.

Q: How easy is it to switch to different styles of gameplay with this modular approach depending on the play groups mood or progression of the story?
Mike: The idea is that, hoepfully if we do it right, that you can switch on the fly if you need to from one encounter/story bit to the next. Like maybe you can use miniatures and grid rules for this fight, but switch to some social modularity for the next bit. If we do it right that should be fairly easy.

Q: How are you addressing the specific needs of organized play, and how are we going to see that in the future.
Mike: What I imagine what you might see us doing is, so for our organized play game, here our the standard rules that characters and DMs will be using. It's important for us in an organized play environment that people know what we're getting in to. It's like what you've seen in LFR where there are accepted character options and players and DMs know what to expect.

Q: Do you expect one player to have fun with really stripped down rules and another player to have fun with controlling and doing bigger things?
Monte: Running a few playtests, I had at one long term table a guy who hadn't played since 1st editon, a guy who was more 3rd edtion and a guy who was recently in to 4th. The guy who hadn't played in 1st edition didn't want a lot of options. This solidified in my mind, along with the other evidence we've seen, that there are a lot of players who want to have very few options on their character sheet. As a game goes on, that guy might see some of the cool things that other classes are doing and might want to add some of those modular abilities. This is something that is easy to do and change as the character progresses - he can pick up some of those more modular options if he wants after that point.
Mike: The players will have the flexibility they want at the tables, so the other goal is to make sure the DM has the tools he needs to make sure the different characters/players have a chance to shine with whatever options they choose.
Jeremy: You can have two fighters that are very different at the same table, based on picking from the spectrum of complexity and options. You can have someone who is more just a sword and board, and another guy who focuses on combat maneuver options on the other end of complexity. It's about taking that spectrum we already have in the game and making it broader.

Q: Sometimes you have arguments at the table causing lulls or a character who has too many options and takes forever to act. Any plans on addressing these issues?
Monte: For the first one, we're going to give the DM a lot of tools to address players actions as well as rules discussions. We want to keep play moving quickly. The same goes for the player with too many options - we're planning on DM and player help to address as much of that as possible.
Mike: I think D&D needs to have elements of chaos in it. Sometimes that can be funny, or weird or off the wall. I think that's one of the places where the randomness of the d20 can come into play. I think that some of the recent history of the game has the designer buttoning down and eliminating some of that chaos, and we want to get away from that. It's the interactions between the DM, the players and the game that make it was it is, so we shouldn't stifle that.
Jeremy: the idea that this game is taking itself to seriously has crept into our art as well. I'll give an example - in the last two editions if you look at the art, I think you'll see a lot of characters that look like super heroes. They all look like they've been to the gym recently, they don't have backpacks for traveling through the dungeon - the guys are well shaven. In our recent art we've added a more diverse, modular approach - you've got people that look vastly different. You'll have the halfling who's a bit overweight with some food stains on his clothes along side the more heroic look dashing sort.

Q: How are you guys going to provide iconic D&D experiences or having some awesome and interesting longer combats?
Mike: The first step there is defining what those iconic D&D experiences are, which is what we've been focusing on in a lot of these playtests. There's a lot of room there between roleplay and smash and grab combat, and tactics.
Jeremy: we've seen a great range of tactical style and combat length in the playtest's so far, so our plan is to definitely have DMs and players be able to determine what kind of combats they want to have and have the right options to support those.

Q: What are you doing to make sure that each character/player feels useful in each part of the game?
Mike: It goes back to the three pillars and supporting the different kinds of play - we definitely are working on having DM and player tools and options in place so that characters are engaged. Example - you can have that master climber, but you want others to feel included and involved in whatever thing when that master climber gets to show off.
Take a look over at Enworld at the orginal post click here to see what his readers had to say.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

DnD Next, the Next Generation 5.0

After monitoring the Wizard of the Coast DnD Next forums since the announcement earlier this month, one can notice that there is a flurry of activity (especially from the 4e players) of opinions.

One of the community members on the forums took it upon themselves to consolidate all the suggestions posted, into Yes and No options. With not much voice been heard from the older Dungeons & Dragons Edition players, and more so from the current 4e edition players, is resulting with things like, NO to feats, More Skills, YES to Healing Surges, YES to Daily Powers, YES Class Roles, etc. this is resulting in large number of votes for 4e game mechanics and less against.

If WotC is going to listen to public opinion and the forums are a main source for feedback, older edition players are going to have to make themselves heard or we are going to be seeing a very different D&D 5.0 than what WotC is promoting at the moment.

Everything at the moment IMO is focused on players of different editions, sitting playing a simple or complex character at the same table, but my question is what about the DM who wants to run a simple game, how does he deal with someone who wants to run a complex character? Does the picture above depict the choas that will arise around the table with the modulare approach to the rules?

Already there are inconsistencies that are coming from posts of WotC staff on Twitter and Forums. It is still too early to tell what is what without seeing the rules that are going to be playtest later this week at D&D Experience.

One has to accept the fact that this is something that WotC has been working on for some time now, you don’t just pull something out the hat within a few days …

I really hope that they are able to pull DnD Next off, I am after all a D&D player and that's what I tell people I am playing when I am asked, "What you doing over there?"

On a positive note WotC will be reprinting the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Player’s Handbook click here, Dungeon Master’s Guide click here and Monster Manual click here. The price is somewhat steep if you are not earning dollars, but a portion goes to a good cause, The Gygax Memorial Fund.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with the Herald - Mike

Ok folks for my second interview, I thought I would introduce to you a pirate of the Aerdie Sea, scurvy sea dog wanted in the Lendore Isles, for trafficking of black powder. Wanted by the Sea Baron for that little matter that needs to be cleared up about the Sea Baron's daughter and her wedding night, I present to you "Mortellan" Scourge of the four oceans and master cartoonist in his spare time. With the introductions done here's what my friend Mike has to say.

Section One: Information
What is your name?
Mike “mortellan” Bridges

Where are you from?
The Land of Lincoln, Illinois.

How old are you?
I’m coming up on the big 4 - 0 in September.

What do you do for a living?
I’ve been in the hotel industry for almost 14 years.

What are your hobbies or interests?
Other than gaming? I’m your typical sci-fi/fantasy reader, my favorite book being the Hobbit. I’m also an avid reader of Marvel comics, especially The Mighty Thor. A born artist, I’ve drawn comic strips since grade school among dabbling in other disciplines. I’m a huge sports buff (mainly NFL, MLB and NHL). I run a fantasy hockey league that has been going on for nearly 20 years!

Do you have a blog or website?
My current blog is Greyhawkery
I also have a semi-retired gaming webcomic: WOG Comic

When and what was the first roleplaying game you played?
I started RPGs around 1981 with the Basic D&D set. I remember this because I wasn’t quite 10 yet and I was happy to get the rules. I still kept the box to this day. After that AD&D and the World of Greyhawk boxed set wasn’t far behind.

Do you prefer to be a Player, Game Master or Both?
I definitely prefer to be the Game Master. Having creative control over a story and watching people experience it is what keeps my imagination going. I’m not as focused if I’m not running the show.

What are your favourite roleplaying game(s) to run?
I prefer running D&D (Greyhawk setting specifically), Mutants and Masterminds and Shadowrun.

Has playing roleplaying games had an impact on your life?
I like to think I’m better educated because of RPGs and I have many, many lifelong friends made through gaming.

Section Two: You the Player
When last have you been a player in a roleplaying game and what character did you play?
We switch games so frequently. I’m currently playing in a Hero system game and my character is a masked vigilante called “The Adjuster.” His day job is an insurance adjuster.

Do you prefer to play in a small or large group when playing roleplaying games?
I prefer larger groups when I play because I can blend into the background. I run games so much that when I do play, I don’t want to hog the spotlight.

How often do you get to be a player in a roleplaying game?
I’ve been lucky to have a group of guys that I game with on Mondays and another on Wednesdays. So quite often.

What do you think is your biggest weakness is as a Player right now?
I’m not sure it’s a weakness per se, but I don’t really care about character building mechanics. I don’t plan ahead, which for some might be irritating. I’d also just as soon play a pre-generated character if it’s a system I’m not familiar with.

What could you do to improve your game as a Player?
Try to really learn the rules for different RPGs.

Describe your perfect session as a player in a roleplaying game:
The perfect session for me is 99% roleplay with little or no dice used. I can just sit back, watch and laugh along. I’ve achieved it a couple times as a DM before.

How would you describe the group that you currently play in?
It’s a mix of old school gamers, new gamers and fans of RPGs I never started out with. We cover pretty much all the genres that way.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a player?
The first time I played a female character in Shadowrun. People were weirded out by that at first (even though as a GM you could play several female NPCs in the course of a day) but I kept making female characters to bring some diversity to our all male parties. Now years later, most everyone has played a female character and it’s pretty uncommon NOT to find at least one or more in our groups.

What do you do as a player to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Sleep. Eat. Nap. Doodle on character sheet. Drink a lot of caffeine. And go!

Where and how long do your roleplaying sessions last?
One night of the week we game at a friend’s house, the other game group is at a comic shop. Our sessions last about 4 hours or less.

Section Three: You the Game Master
When last have you been a Game Master in a roleplaying game and what adventure did you run?
I am currently running a Greyhawk campaign (Sea Princes) which is thematically a high seas swashbuckling adventure. I write all my own material for it, though I did lead in with the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.

Do you prefer to referee a small or large group when running a roleplaying games?
I’ve played in games from 1 on 1 up to nearly a dozen people. My sweet spot for GMing is five people. Anymore than that and you lose time that could go to character development.

How often do you get to be a Game Master in a roleplaying game?
Less than I used to, which is to say all the time. As I get older and lazier I’m glad that I don’t GM that much. I got too much else going on.

What do you think is your biggest weakness as a Game Master right now?
My biggest weakness is I don’t embrace gaming technology as much as others, and I rail against technology in general (cell phones) at the game table as a distraction.

What could you do to improve your game as a Game Master?
I’ve not had the opportunity to GM for women. I’d like to see what insights they’d bring out in my game.

Describe your perfect session as a Game Master in a roleplaying game:
Same as playing. Little or no dice/book involvement. Lately though, I’d take no cell phones as the perfect session.

How would you describe the group that you currently GM to?
Same as the group I play with. We all know each other fairly well so it’s easy to cater to their interests and exploit their failings.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a Game Master?
There is no one moment, but any time I hear my players talk about a campaign years after we last played it, that’s a good moment. You know you made a lasting impression on players when they still react with hate when they hear a villain’s name mentioned or they reminisce about certain characters as clearly as if you read about them in a novel.

What do you do as a Game Master to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Write notes in a steno notebook at work. Scour the internet for references. Bookmark some creatures in the Monster Manual. Sketch out a map on the battlemat. Pick out some counters to use.

Do you use published material or create your own?
I prefer to cannibalize published material to make my own. However over the course of my life I’ve probably ran published mods more often than not to save time. Those fatigue me though.

Have you had any of your own material published?
Not professionally. I have had plenty of Greyhawk material published on the fansite Canonfire! however.

What gaming aids do you use when you play roleplaying games?
I like to use cardboard counters, minis and wet erase battle mats.I use minis mainly in my super hero campaigns. I use maps mainly in my fantasy games.

Do you make your own maps or props for your gaming sessions?
I have been known to make my own maps, but the Greyhawk setting has plenty to choose from. Prop wise I like floor plans made out in advance to save time.

Do you have any advice that you would care to share with new upcoming Players and Game Masters alike?
Don’t take the game too seriously. Don’t waste too much time looking up rules during the game. Don’t use screens unless you need to fudge dice rolls a lot.

Thanks Mike that was a great read. Watch this space for next weeks interview for more insight from a fellow hawker.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ramblings of an Old School Gamer

My first introduction to Dungeons & Dragons was through the D&D Basic Set in 1984. It wasn't until about 2 years later that I came across Greyhawk ... I was sold, hook line and sinker.

I wasn't only sold on Greyhawk, but I was sold on Dungeons & Dragons as well. It wouldn’t remain so, with the release of third edition, I was like, "What the hell are you doing!" The game became one bloated system and it didn’t play well in my opinion. So I stuck with my older editions, a hybrid of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and 2nd Edition. It wasn't until the release of 3.5 version of the game did I start looking at the new rules, but by then D&D 4e had been released. I thought that I would never again see a published rule set that I liked, being published by WotC. The question is will this remain true or will D&D Next (5e) be the answer.

Did this concern me? Not really. Why? I had a wealth of books from my previous editions sitting on my shelf, that would keep me busy for years to come. It was something that I had read some time ago, in either the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide or it could have been a quote by Gary(?),  that stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “You don’t need the rules to run the game, all you need is your imagination.”

Although I did not like what D& 3.x was all about, I had purchased the core 3 books of both versions, in case someone convinced me that I was deluded, which happened late in 2009. I am still not 100% convinced ... But by then I was looking at Pathfinder and found that I liked where they were going with the game and as a company they were listening to their target market.

They proved that they were a good company to back and I happily bought into the new rules. I didn't feel like I had to buy everything and focused just on the core rules. I also like the rate at which Pazio was releasing their books and I felt that the books were well priced for what you were getting.

My love of D&D/AD&D has never dwindled, in fact I could say that it has been further fortified by seeing the re-emergence of all the retro clones over the last few years. We all know deep down, we are DUNGEONS & DRAGONS players. Even though we play Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, etc. Whenever someone asks hey what you doing there? We never answer I am playing OSRIC, but rather we say we are playing Dungeons & Dragons or D&D. Only if asked, “What’s that?” Then do we divulge further detail about the current system that we are playing.

Now where does this leave me with D&D Next? Well honestly I don’t know, I would have to say I have an open mind to what they trying to do and in all honesty I hope it works.

I would like to see Wizards to release 3 different variants of D&D 5e, or as it is now called D&D Next (I hope that doesn't stick). Firstly I think the name should get back to basics. My suggestion for the 3 variations of the core system would be;


Now what would the differences be? The “Basic” set would be a simplified rule set that could be expanded to the advance set if needed or as the group gaming styled changed or warranted. The rules would be conducive to fast play and appealing to the “old school type” of play. The “Advanced” set would be your “crunch” system where you have complexity and flexibility of 3.5/Pathfinder, but refined by the input of the public beta testing. Lastly the “Tactical” set would be very similar to what 4e is currently, but removal of the bulky combat system and the multitude of powers. This version would be aimed at the group who doesn’t have a lots of time to setup lengthy campaigns, but enjoys the style of play that D&D Encounters offers with the use of minis and battle maps.

I would like to see the books released as hardcovers with an optional 3 ring binder for print outs. What WotC needs to do is release a "unique code," with the purchase of every book. This will allow you to unlock a digital copy of the book from their website for download encrypted to your WotC profile.

But do we really need change? Are the editions warranted or could we still happily be playing what we started with? I think, we could, but as a society we want to see the newest, the latest and as always moan about it.

New is not necessarily better, but then again change is not necessarily a bad thing either.

I would like to end off with this … Give the power back to the Dungeon Master! Use your imagination, that after all is the most important rule of all.

I will be sure to let you know more about the happenings on the 5e front, but I will reserve my final thoughts once I have had a look at the beta rules.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year. Any month's thirteenth day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia, coming from Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen, or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví, meaning "Friday", and dekatreís, meaning "thirteen" attached to phobía, from phóbos, meaning "fear".

According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century.

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) to be an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares (Mars), the god of war. In addition, in Greek the name of the day is Triti meaning literally the third day of the week, adding weight to the superstition, since bad luck is often said to "come in threes". The thirteenth day of any month will fall on a Tuesday if it began on a Thursday. If a 31-day month contains a Tuesday the 13th, the following month will contain a Friday the 13th.

Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events.

How does this affect us as a society today?
There are billions of people worldwide that are affected by fear on this day. Some people are so afraid that they avoid normal routines or even just stay at home, just to be safe.

I really get peeved when I find a website like this Worldwide D&D Day – Link Between D&D and Satanism Revealed! or a media statement that makes claims that a teenager killed his best friend or his parents on Friday the 13th. ALL because he played Dungeon & Dragons. People do bad things for many reasons, playing dungeons and dragons is hardly the catalyst. People there are just some really bad people out there.

NOW the real question is, how does this affect our local adventures who are on their latest dungeon delve or back walking the city streets of Greyhawk? Are they just as superstitious or more so? Are they just as prone to bad luck as the rest of us or more so?

Maybe I can get my bud Mortellan over at Greyhawkery to do one of his famous comics for us. If you have some time on your hands, go check out his latest article on black powder, great article for all you pirate fans. So what you say Mortellan got a Friday the 13th comic for us?

Bad things do go bump in the night ....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview with the Herald - Anna

Who better to start off the Herald's interviews, than with the lady of the Flanaess, the grand cartographer of all that is Greyhawk, the lovely lady Anna.

This is the first in a series of interviews that I will be doing. This interviews will be focused on  individuals that have impacted roleplaying or Greyhawk in my opinion, one way or another.

Section One: Information
What is your name?
Anna B Meyer.

Where are you from?
I'm from Sweden, but I moved to Corona, California in 2010.

How old are you?

What do you do for a living?
I do fantasy maps and nature, landscape photography. Right now I'm in the situation to be able to concentrate on my passions and I intend to make the most of it!

What are your hobbies or interests?
Politics and trying to understand how the world works. Hiking and being outdoors, even when it's not part of my photography job. Travel to new places often beside the tourist track. I also read a lot but I hardly watch television. Didn't even have one for over a decade. But believe it or not I'm a nerd who likes technology - a lot :)

Do you have a blog or website?
For my Greyhawk maps Atlas of the Flanaess Project ,as well as a Facebook group for my maps Flanaess Geographical Society I also post on the Canonfire! Forums I have my own personal page on Facebook, Anna B Meyer and for my photography Anna's Photos

When and what was the first roleplaying game you played?
I'm typical of my generation, started playing D&D 1979-80. It was during winter and I don't remember if it was before or after New Year. 

How long have you been playing roleplaying games?
Since that first time in the winter of 1979-80. There have been months in between sessions some years but have always been there as one of the big passions of my life.

Do you prefer to be a Player, Game Master or Both?
I like both roles but if I had to choose one it would be Game Master. That is what I ended up to do. At first because our great GM move away and someone had to do it. Didn’t like it at first but for some reason the players did. When I saw them wanting to play when I was GM my confidence grew into a passion in its own right. Now I love to see players who keep coming back to my games.

What are your favourite roleplaying game(s) to run?
It started with D&D and I have tried most of the old classic games like Traveller, Call of Cthulhu and many others. D&D was the game that I liked the most and stuck with. I have GM'ed all editions of D&D and I'm one of the strange breed of gamers who have enjoyed them more and more since they have introduced more interesting components to the game. My interest in 4th edition waned when they didn't support it properly and the world building and other "deeper" aspects of it never really materialized.

Now I'm using the Pathfinder rules and some leftovers from 3.5 to run my Greyhawk campaign and I like that system so much I will find it very hard to change. It has all the components I want and more. It also supported by a large and creative ecosystem of fans, indie publishers and big players like Paizo, that is where I feel at home!

Has playing roleplaying games had an impact on your life?
Yes indeed. For me I think role playing have shaped me deeply in many ways big and small. It boosted my creativity and made me see new possibilities, to think outside the box. Trying to read and understand the rules gave me an understanding of English few of my classmates in my Swedish middle school had, it gave me a second language. To design and run adventures forced me to try and understand how a world work and it got me interested in politics and economy. That made me study both at college and I have worked in the political field. Being a GM is perfect leadership and management education. So it helped me in work and politics to interact with others and to run projects. Now I'm bringing it full circle by using what I have learned in other areas of life back into my gaming and mapmaking.

Section Two: You the Player
When last have you been a player in a roleplaying game and what character did you play?
Last evening I played my Elven Ranger/Fighter aspiring to be an Arcane Archer in Pathfinder organized play.

Do you prefer to play in a small or large group when playing roleplaying games?
A group of 4-5 players and a GM usually are optimum in my experience. Fewer players tend to limit the creativity and "suspension of disbelief" at the table. Larger groups slow down action to much and cause too many distractions.

How often do you get to be a player in a roleplaying game?
Not often enough! My fate has been to be a GM over the years and I must blame mostly myself for it. But I would love to play more it would make me a better person and GM and be so much fun. Thanks to Pathfinder organized play and the many great gamers in the area that is exactly what is starting to happen.Now I usually play at least once a week and GM at least every other weekend sometimes more.

What do you think is your biggest weakness is as a Player right now?
Having GM'ed too much! I need to think and act more as a party member and realize I'm not responsible for the whole session.

What could you do to improve your game as a Player?
Learn more about the world I'm playing in. Must sound weird coming from me but I haven't learned much about Golarion. I guess I'm reading so much Greyhawk stuff I'm getting a bit lazy when it comes to being a player; I want to just play and learn as I go. To defend myself I accept that behavior in players when I'm the GM. But it makes a better game with more prepared players as well as GM's.

Describe your perfect session as a player in a roleplaying game:
When I feel part of a greater story and it is gearing up for a grand event like a big battle and working through initial encounters or finding the weapons and magic to deal with the big evil and having the fear of losing a high level character in the coming mayhem. Then the big event takes an unforeseen direction and the whole party is frantically trying to cling on for dear life.

How would you describe the group that you currently play in?
Since its organized play the continuity isn't the same with stand alone modules and different players from time to time it works really well. Most of the players are the same and it gives me lots of fun. It also gives lots of opportunities to play different characters. If I could combine this with a normal gaming group and my sessions as a GM all my gaming desires would be fulfilled.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a player?
I still remember the feeling of excitement when I realized my character had a whole world and more to explore and interact with. That mental state altered me forever and I will forever cherish that feeling and the game that made it possible.

What do you do as a player to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Not enough, I should do more background studies. That is one of my promises for this year.

Where and how long do your roleplaying sessions last?
Since its organized play we meet at a game store and play for 3 hours a session, sometimes having 2 sessions on a Game Day.

Section Three: You the Game Master
When last have you been a Game Master in a roleplaying game and what adventure did you run?
Less than a week ago and I ran a session in my Greyhawk campaign set in the Principality of Rel Deven, using the Pathfinder rules.

Do you prefer to referee a small or large group when running a roleplaying games?
Five players are the best I think, enough to make the game "lift" but not bog it down during combat.

How often do you get to be a Game Master in a roleplaying game?
Too often...laugh. Haven't said this in public before but my players bribed me with money to run more games at times. Hm... maybe I could make it a business.

What do you think is your biggest weakness as a Game Master right now?
Not enough experience as a player. I need to have more experience having played various classes and races.

What could you do to improve your game as a Game Master?
Be a player more often and still run games as a GM.

Describe your perfect session as a Game Master in a roleplaying game:
To create that tangible aura of anticipation and fear at the table as the story dawns on the players and see them rise to eagerly grasp it and making themselves a part of it. Unbeatable!

How would you describe the group that you currently GM to?
We didn't know each other before and are still in the "getting to know each other" stage. Experience levels are from beginners to seasoned veterans and that is something usually gives a good dynamic of beginners enthusiasm and the comforts of experience, this group is a shining example of that.

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a Game Master?
The best gaming sessions I've run was when we barricaded us in a friend’s basement for a whole week to conclude the fate of Good in Greyhawk.

When it was time to try and save Furyondy from the onslaught of Iuz the party got selected for a special mission, to find the true name of Iuz himself It started as a covert ops research effort and developed into a behind enemy lines operation. they was able to get the info through creative thinking way before I thought they would. They got chased back to safety by the Iuz and his most evil of henchmen.

We had so much fun and nerve-racking close calls that week that we onetime played for 26 straight. We had planned that week for months and it was a huge success (for us perhaps, but not friends and family who didn't see us for a week

What do you do as a Game Master to prepare for your usual game sessions?
The way I look at the how gaming works is to so both the big and the little picture when planning my games. The big picture is the events that happens in the game world around the characters. To portray this "big picture" and make it influence and react to the characters actions are a key aspect of running a great campaign. 

Despite its importance games I've played in as a player have often lacked most of this important dimension. The reason for this is that it is dynamic and therefore hard to put down in writing, most published adventures leave it out. It is the infrastructure of a good story so vital and can't be neglected.

The little picture are the events that take place where the characters are and can be seen and interacted with by them. This aspect is much more the player’s responsibility and they should have much liberty as possible to form their characters actions. This aspect are also guided by the rules so it's important to have a common understanding and agreement in how the rules should be used.

This became very philosophical but role playing are serious for me. Much more than what rules and edition you use, I'm not a number cruncher and optimizer.  Having fun - together with friends - long term, are my goal with gaming. That means building adventures and campaigns like a great epos with tedious and hard part too, for the overall fun.  

Do you use published material or create your own?
I use lots of published material I would say all I can lay my hand on (and I have a lot of Greyhawk material). But I have never run a module as it is written. For me it is all raw materials I use to construct my own personal World of Greyhawk. But I read all of it and use most of it and then tweak it and play with the part to try and present the best possible environment for my players to have fun with their characters. I create a lot of material in order to try and do so.

Mostly maps and tons of notes that I digitized using MS Access and moving to the cloud using Evernote. Soon I will have a note of every place on my map and hundreds of NPC's, organizations, items and tons of more Greyhawk stuff that I have read about or invented myself.

Do you make use of maps and minis during your roleplaying sessions?
I use to have a ceiling mounted video-projector hooked up to my laptop and used it as a virtual tabletop. This was before any of the fancy software apps existed so I used CorelDraw, Photoshop and other graphics programs to show maps, counters, handouts and other illustrations. It worked great!
Now we play in a store so no projector and we have resorted to battle maps and miniatures. not bad but lacking the inspiration prepared maps and art can have. I'm working on a solution for that.

If there is anything additionally that you would like to share, that I might have overlooked please do so here:
There are way too much talk of editions and rule minutia and not enough of good gaming and what is important. Rules ARE important but they are only one bit of a great role-playing experience.
The industry are going through its biggest change in its 40 year history right now I think. Just like publishing in general it is in turmoil and some would say crisis. If you're selling books with rules in them that is definitely so. But if you're in the business of creating the tools for friends to go on imaginary adventures together, this must be the best times ever!   

There you have it folks,  if you enjoyed this interview and have suggestions on who to interview next drop me a mail. If there are any Questions that you would like to see added to my future interviews let me know.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Surprise, Surprise

Extra Extra Read All About It!
"As you may have read in the New York Times, it’s an exciting time for Dungeons & Dragons. We are happy to announce today that we are developing the next iteration of D&D, and will be looking to the legions of D&D fans to help shape the future of the game along with us.

Our mission is to ensure that D&D enters its next 40 years as a vibrant, growing, and exciting game. By listening to the needs of the D&D community, we can meet this goal. As part of our increased efforts to engage with the player-base, we launched a series of weekly articles in early 2011, including Rule of Three and Legends & Lore, to give you a voice in our work. We’ve listened to both praise and criticism from all D&D fans, regardless of their edition of choice, and we’ll continue to do so.

That is why we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.

D&D is more than just a set of rules for fantasy gaming. It launched an entire gaming genre and played a pivotal role in creating the entirety of the gaming industry, both analog and digital. The game has lived and thrived because it has awoken a spark of creation, visions of daring adventure, wondrous vistas, and untold horrors that pull us all together as a community of RPG fans. It is the countless players and DMs who have brought it to life over the years. The game is at its best when it is yours.

For that reason, we want your participation. The goals we have set for ourselves are by no means trivial or easy. By involving you in this process, we can build a set of D&D rules that incorporate the wants and desires of D&D gamers around the world. We want to create a flexible game, rich with options for players and DMs to embrace or reject as they see fit, a game that brings D&D fans together rather than serves as one more category to splinter us apart.

We have begun obtaining feedback from a limited Friends & Family playtest consisting of internal employees and their gaming groups and soon we will be expanding that group to consist of members from our existing body of playtesters. Then at the D&D Experience convention in late January, Wizards of the Coast will conduct a special playtest of ideas currently in development. The D&D Experience will be moving to Gen Con in 2013, so as a convention special this year, we will be offering show attendees a first-look at a draft of the new set of rules. Then beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback. We seek to reach as many people as possible, from the gamer who just started with D&D last week to the gaming group that has been together since the early-1970s. For this process to work, we want to give a voice to all D&D fans and players of all previous editions of the game.

The next year is going to be an exciting one. There is a lot of work to be done, and I’m hoping you have the time, energy, and inclination to pitch in. We sure hope you do, as we seek to make gaming history by shaping the future of D&D, together. If you would like to sign up today to be notified when the playtest is beginning and how you can participate, click here: Sign Up NOW!"
This is the latest news across the web ... BUT is it a little too late for Wizards to win back players lost to other gaming systems like, Pathfinder RPG by PAIZO?

Click here to read the article from the New York Times.

The signs were there, the rumours rife on the net, yet Wizards was tight lipped about the subject. Yes, they hold the brand name Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to win players back and get them to buy into their new edition. Will it be 5e or will they code name it something else? I for one am hoping that they drop the 5e and give it a new name. Maybe something along the lines of Dungeons & Dragons: Ultimate Edition. Let’s also hope that they keep the game true to the original this time round and keep the tactical board game version as a separate product.

I suppose you could say Wizards is starting off on the right foot by having an open beta testing program, but in my opinion they are going to have to do a lot more. A lot of players worldwide have invested heavily into other gaming systems both from a time and monetary value. I personally have spent my hard earning buying into Pathfinder RPG rules.

Time will tell if Wizards has learnt from their mistakes and if they will heed the advice given to them from their play testers.

I’d like to introduce you to the team that will be working on your DND Next.

Mike Mearls  -  Role:  Team Lead  -  Twitter:  @mikemearls

Greg Bilsland  -  Role:  Team Producer  -  Twitter:  @gregbilsland

Monte Cook  -  Role:  Design Team Lead  -  Twitter:  @montejcook

Bruce Cordell  -  Role:  Designer  -  Twitter:  @brucecordell

Robert J. Schwalb  -  Role:  Designer  -  Twitter:  @rjschwalb

Jeremy Crawford  -  Role:  Devevelopment Team Lead

Tom LaPille  -  Role:  Developer  -  Twitter:  @TomLaPilleMagic

Rodney Thompson  -  Role:  Developer  -  Twitter:  @wotc_rodney

Miranda Horner  -  Role:  Editor  -  Twitter:  @mirandahorner

Be sure I will keep a close eye on this and will keep you updated as I find out more.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box

After seen the Beginner Box on Paizo's site I was sold. I knew it would be the perfect present for my son for Christmas, and it did not disappoint!

In a few hours' time my son and I will be playing his very first Pathfinder character, an Elven Rogue. He will be entering a small dungeon looking for a lost treasure, on rumor he heard in the local tavern.

He is not new to Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder for that matter, he has watched me play many times and has had many, many questions. Every father waits for that day with baited breath for their child to say, "Dad .. I want to play D&D!"

My son has shown some interest in playing D&D for some time now, but I wasn't sure on which edition to use for our, "Father Son Game." Then Paizo announced there Beginner Box. That was my answer, I needed to look no further. Not only did it contain everything that he needed to play but it was almost like 1984 for me all over again. It was December of 1984 that I received my very first Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set for Christmas, the school holidays ended way to soon for my liking.

I know this has been covered on many blogs already, but I really believe that Paizo has a winning product on their hands here and deserves another mention. I have included all the links to all the additional material available for download as well as the fantastic character generator from Hero Lab which is absolutely free for the Beginner Box.

Take your first step into an exciting world of fantasy adventure with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box! Within you’ll find simple rules to create and customize your own hero, as well as a robust system to run your character through challenging adventures and deadly battles against villainous monsters like goblins and dragons!

Will you be a courageous fighter who masters weapons and armor to cut a trail of destruction through your enemies? A wise cleric who calls upon the power of the gods to heal your allies and burn enemies with sacred fire? A witty rogue able to disarm traps and strike with deadly accuracy? A brilliant wizard whose magical powers bring foes to their knees? All the details of your character are yours to control. The only limit is your imagination!

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box is packed with everything you need to get started with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, an imaginative tabletop fantasy adventure game for 2–5 players. Scores of monsters, challenges, and advice give gamers the tools to create their own worlds and adventure, providing countless hours of gaming excitement. With streamlined rules and a focus on action-packed heroic adventure, this deluxe boxed set is the ideal introduction to the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the best starting point for a lifetime of pulse-pounding adventure!

The Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box includes:
  • 64-page Hero’s Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • 96-page Game Master’s Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker
This exciting boxed set contains everything a new gamer needs to get started with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the smash hit RPG system that has taken tabletop gaming by storm. From dice to game pawns to simply stated rules, this box is the ideal entry point to the world of Pathfinder.  Purchase Here

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Player Pack Download Here
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Player Pack provides new character creation options for Pathfinder players, including a complete character class: the powerful berserker known as the barbarian! Kit out your character with tons of new adventure gear and alchemical items, dominate combat with new feats and spells, and spruce up your character with new class options for clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards! Take your Beginner Box characters to the next level with these exciting tips and tricks!

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box GM Kit Download Here
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box GM Kit arms Game Masters with new options and opportunities, from a complete adventure that picks up where the Beginner Box's "Black Fang's Crypt" left off to new monsters like the deadly minotaur and the giant black widow spider! Piles of new magical weapons, armor, and other treasures beef up your campaign's rewards, and tips on converting standard Pathfinder adventures for use with the Beginner Box extend the life and variety of your Pathfinder campaigns.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Bash Demos Download Here
Four mini-adventures, specifically designed for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box. These adventures allow a GM and players to expand their experience of the Beginner Box. Each of the included adventures revolve around Sandpoint and are set in four different areas of Varisia and can be run as a sequel to Black Fang's Dungeon found in the Game Master's Guide.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Character Sheet Download Here
Download this colorful two-sided character sheet to record every detail of your custom hero, from ability scores and skill bonuses to weaponry and treasures. Special sections help you record your character's triumphs, including monsters killed and most damage dealt!

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Pregenerated Characters Download Here
Jump right into the action with this helpful pregenerated character packet! Take on the role of Valeros the fighter, Kyra the cleric, Merisiel the rogue, or Ezren the wizard with these digital copies of the 1st-level characters included in the Beginner Box.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box Pathfinder Society Character Creation Guide Download Here
Ready for the next step from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box? The best way to find Pathfinder Roleplaying Game action in your area is to get involved with Pathfinder Society Organized Play, a huge international Pathfinder campaign with tens of thousands of players. This guide provides a step–by–step walkthrough of the Pathfinder Society character creation process while referring you back to the Hero’s Handbook. These instructions allow for a seamless transition from the Beginner Box to Pathfinder Society play.

Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box Download Here
Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box is a separate, free version of Hero Lab that only supports Paizo's Pathfinder Beginner Box.
Unlike the regular version of Hero Lab, Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box is free for all users! That means that anyone can download and use it to create Beginner Box characters or manage Beginner Box encounters.
Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box supports the character creation rules from the Hero's Handbook and Player Pack, as well as allowing the creation of monsters from the Gamemaster's Guide and GM Kit.
Players can create characters from any of the Beginner Box races and classes and advance them from levels 1 to 5. GMs can create monsters and entire encounters, and manage them using Hero Lab's powerful Tactical Console.

Check out our Starter Edition FAQ for more information about Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box!

  • For new RPG players, Hero Lab walks you through each step of character creation, helpfully prompting you through the process. Meanwhile, experienced players can use Hero Lab's power and flexibility to create characters in minutes.
  • All modifiers to skills and abilities due to class, race, ability scores, feats, and more are automatically calculated for you. These include extra feats or skill points, save modifiers, combat modifiers, extra spells, skill bonuses, etc, saving you time and lots of page flipping.
  • Ideal for both players and GMs - players can create and advance a level 1 starting character, while GMs can create a level 5 orc wizard NPC to use against the players.
  • Let Hero Lab handle the complexity to make it easier for you to keep up with your character. Instantly see how many ability score bonuses, custom abilities, and other special powers you get as you level up.
  • For appropriate classes, choose from the full selection of customizable abilities. Pick your Rogue Talents, Arcane Bonds, Rage Powers, Bonus Feats and Arcane Schools - Hero Lab takes them all into account for your character.
  • As you fight monsters and gain powerful magic items, you can add them to Hero Lab with only a few clicks. Costs are automatically calculated and magical modifiers applied when you equip the item. Choose how much to pay, based on whether you find the item or buy it from a merchant with a surcharge or discount.
  • Damage, class and attack bonus of weapons is automatically calculated, based on the weapons, your class and your proficiencies and ability scores.
  • Unmet pre-requisites are properly flagged. For example, unavailable feats are marked with their list of requirements, so you can see at a glance which ones are and aren't available for your character.
  • Choose which weapons and armor to equip. Your attack bonus, armor class and armor check penalty are calculated automatically.
  • Generate a random age, height and weight based on your race and character class.
  • Once your hero is complete, you can generate standard text, HTML, BBCode or Wikitext statblocks, save your hero as a PDF to upload to a website, or print out a character sheet to use at the game table.
  • For players, Hero Lab for the Pathfinder Beginner Box includes level 1 versions of Valeros, Kyra, Ezren and Merisiel, so you can use them as a basis for your own characters.
  • For GMs, Hero Lab includes all the monsters from the Gamemaster's Guide and GM Kit, allowing you to import them into your encounters with just a few clicks of the mouse.
  • GMs can use Hero Lab's Tactical Console and powerful in-play support to manage entire encounters, instead of using spreadsheets or pen and paper. Create your encounters in Hero Lab beforehand, then manage the combatants in Hero Lab to make combats a snap!
... and best of all, it's FREE!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Greyhawk 40 this Year!

After doing some digging around the internet a couple of weeks back, I discovered that Gary Gygax in fact ran his first game in Greyhawk in 1972. This took place after his initial meet up with Dave Arneson earlier in the year.

His very first session took place with his two children, Ernie and Elise in a delve beneath the Castle Greyhawk. His homebrew campaign would later become known as the World of Greyhawk.

Below is a short paragraph taken as reference from this site: to support my findings.
"Arneson's Minneapolis-St. Paul Napoleonic gaming group was in touch with Gygax's Lake Geneva group, and Arneson mentioned his dungeons of Blackmoor that the group was playing on alternate weekends. Gygax was interested, so during a visit to Lake Geneva in 1972, Arneson demonstrated his Blackmoor dungeons to Gygax. Gygax was immediately intrigued by the concept of individual characters exploring a dungeon setting, and believed that this was a game that could be marketed and sold. He and Arneson agreed to co-develop a set of rules based on Chainmail. In order to provide a playtest environment in which to develop these rules, Gygax designed his own castle, "Castle Greyhawk", and prepared the first level of a dungeon that lay beneath it. Two of his children, Ernie and Elise, were the first players, and during their first session, they fought and destroyed the first monsters of the Greyhawk dungeon; Gygax variously recalled this as being some giant centipedes or a nest of scorpions. During the same session, Ernie and Elise also found the first treasure, a chest of 3,000 copper coins (which was too heavy to carry, much to the children's disgust). After his children had gone to bed, Gygax immediately began to work on the second level of the dungeon. At the next play session, Ernie and Elise were joined by Gygax's friends Don Kaye and Rob and Terry Kuntz. About a month after his first session, Gygax created the nearby city of Greyhawk, where the players' characters could sell their treasure and find a place to rest.
Murlynd: Gary Gygax's friend Don Kaye created Murlynd for the second-ever session of Gygax's Greyhawk campaign in 1972. Gygax later recalled that "Murlynd" was the first attempt by a player to make a creative name for a character; in the early days, most players including Gygax himself simply used their own name as a basis for their character's name. (Tenser = Ernest, Yrag = Gary, etc.)"
So how am I going to commemorate this event?

Well my idea is to run an adventure on the 27th July, which is Gary Gygax's birthday and it happens to fall on a Friday this year. Since his first adventure took place under Castle Greyhawk, I think it would be most fitting to return to where it all started, in the depths of the DUNGEONS OF CASTLE GREYHAWK.

I would like to share this delve with the rest of the Greyhawk community so that we can all take part in this special occasion, but I will be looking for some volunteers to help me put this project together.
This dungeon delve will be suitable for a small group of 4-6 players and should be able to be completed in a single session of about 3-4 hours of game play. I will like to keep the adventure system neutral thus allowing game masters to easily adapt the delve to each groups preferred rule system.

Anyone interested can come over to Canonfire Forums and take part in the discussion.

WoTC Crossword Puzzle

Today WoTC features there second crossword puzzle, which can be found here. The first was a bit of a brainteaser, but I really enjoyed doing the puzzle. I must admit it beats the heck out of doing the local one in the newspaper.

I certainly would like to see more of these in the future.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Atlas of the Flanaess Project

Atlas of the Flanaess is a project that has been a passion of Anna's for many years now and to date we have been graced with many wonderful maps from her. Today we get to view all these wonderful maps in one complete picture. Download Anna's map here: Map of the Central Flanaess

If you wish to follow her progress of the development of her atlas you can do so on Facebook or on her main website Atlas of the Flanaess

Anna's maps will breath life into your campaign with her attention to detail, as she has put many hours of research into the development of them. I am really looking forward to seeing her final completed map, it is going to be something spectacular to behold.

Thanks Anna for all your hard work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

J.R.R Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa on the 3rd January 1892. Today we celebrate the 120th anniversary of J.R.R Tolkien’s birth. Why is this special to me? Well, "The Hobbit" was the first fantasy novel I ever read and I was hooked for life.

It was late in 1984 when I read The Hobbit for the first time and it was shortly thereafter that I received my first Dungeons & Dragons box set for Christmas.

Needless to say, that the Christmas holidays were over in no time! But that wasn’t the case with my new found hobby and my love of reading fantasy novels.

Many of my games in the years to come were heavily inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and many other authors, but it was J.R.R. Tolkien that captivated me with his attention to detail and how his story evolved into this wondrous tale of epic scale.

In celebration of this anniversary I raise my glass, the toast is to “The Professor”

Character Folio (Part 1)

At the start of my campaign I always provide my players with a custom made character folio, which consists of a plastic binder with plastic sleeves, a cover specific to the current campaign and an adapted character sheet modified to accommodate some of my house rules. This time round I have decided to use the, “Neceros 1.1.2” for inspiration as my base.

I have added Comeliness in under Ability Scores, added Languages under skills and lastly include a space for notes. The other pages of the character folio will be included in, "Character Folio Part 2 and Part 3."

I have come up with two covers for my character folio and now I am not sure which one to use! So … I think I am going to put it out there to my fellow bloggers and let see which you guys think I should use.

Do any of you provide character folios, character cards etc. for your players? I would be keen to see them and compare notes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

WANTED Brave Adventures!

Are you bored, listless, unappreciated? 
 Looking for just the right quest to suite your finely honed talents?


See Minge of Littleburrow at the Wayward Inn in Kleinmere


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Watch your thoughts, they become words. 
Watch your words, they become actions. 
Watch your actions, they become habits. 
Watch your habits, they become your character. 
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows for the coming year.