Monthly Archives: July 2011

4th Edition – What It Got Right

Following up on my last post, I’d like to point out a few things that are new in 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons with which I do agree.

  1. 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook

    At Will Powers For Spellcasters Since Basic D&D, my favorite class has been the Magic-User, or, as the class came to be called in later editions, the Wizard.  I fell in love with the idea of casting spells to change reality to better suit your needs.  The problem back then was that, especially at lower levels, once the spells were gone, so was your ability to contribute to the combat.  Sure, you could draw your dagger or brandish your quarterstaff, but unless you rolled a 20, you were almost certain to miss.  Add to that the fact that you had at most 4 hit points per level, plus your Con bonus, and you were lucky to survive even one hit from an enemy.  Well, no more!  4th Edition’s At-Will spells now mean that the wizard can fling magic missiles around all day long.  Finally, the Wizard is an actual, honest-to-goodness spellcaster, not simply a glorified stage magician, performing his tricks only once before each crowd.  No longer must the wizard worry about exhausting his spells before the day is over.  I’m focusing on the wizard, I know, but the same is true for clerics, druids, psions, and all other classes that have spells or spell-like powers.

  2. Minor Actions I think the addition of the Minor Action is long overdue.  3.x had it in the expansion books, first in the Expanded Psionics Handbook(if I’m not mistaken), then pretty much every book after that, but never in the Core Rulebooks (PH, DMG, MM).  It was tacked-on almost as an afterthought, causing too many arguments in our group (at least).  In 4E, it’s official, and it gives characters one more action, albeit a minor one (pun intended), during their turn.
  3. Encounter Experience Point Budgets This, I believe, is a huge benefit to game masters.  In 3.x, we had Challenge Ratings, Level Adjustments, Effective Character Levels, and a few tables thrown in to determine an appropriate encounter for a given party.  Add to the mix a PC or two who is one level above or below the rest of the party, or the equivalent CR of two or more of the same monster, and you have a mess.  4E does this right with the XP budget.  Sure, a table is still necessary, but once you have your budget, you have a good idea of what foes, traps and/or other challenges you can safely throw at the party.  Is there a chance of over- or underestimating the challenge?  Of course there is, but 4E is the first edition to give you an easy-to-use, accurate tool to build an encounter.
  4. 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide

    Skill Challenges I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for this one, but I think codifying a skill use to experience point award is long overdue.  According to the rules in 3.x, the only way (well, OK, the only well-defined way) to gain XP was through battle.  Other ways were mentioned, such as story or role-playing awards, but the only numbers given were for defeating foes.  4E is the first edition to say, “OK, you can use your skills to overcome a challenge, and you will get this many XP for doing so.”  The implementation may have been a little wonky, but we finally have official rules for gaining XP outside of combat.  While we’re on the topic of skills…

  5. Combining/Reducing Skills In 3.x, there were simply too many skills from which to choose, and far too many related skills that should not have been distinct.  Do you want some examples?  Hide and Move Silently; Spot and Search; Bluff and Sense Motive.  Theses skills are pretty much two halves of the same action.  Add to that the fact that three skills, Knowledge, Profession, and Speak Language, were really several skills under their respective umbrellas.  4E improved this tremendously by combining appropriate skills and splitting the others.  Let me say this, though: this skill system is not perfect, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

 So, what do you think? Do you like the changes I’ve mentioned here?  Are there any others that you think 4E got right?  Please comment below.


Posted by on Friday, 29 July 2011 in Gaming


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4th Edition – What I Wouldn’t Have Changed

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since Basic and 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  Through the editions, I’ve seen a lot of changes.  Some I liked – for example, allowing the Thief to choose how to distribute his percentage points among his Thief Abilities.  Some I didn’t.  What follows are some of the changes from 3.x to 4E that I don’t like.

  1. Alignment changes What is up with this?  Sure, some folks consider the old alignment system restrictive and over-simplistic.  The truth is, I partially agree with that sentiment.  The 9-alignment system was very simplistic.  However, throughout the editions, it was a constant.  In 3rd edition, they built several mechanics around it, such as the various Detect and Protection spells, magic items, and damage reduction.  It wasn’t perfect, but it made sense within the rules.  My major problem with the 4E alignments is that they pared them to five alignments.  Five.  If you’re going to get rid of some, why not throw away the entire construct?  In 4E, they have no real effect on the game, other than the options available to divine characters.  Throw all of them out, and be rid of them, or, keep all nine, and make the logical connections like in 3.x.
  2. The Elemental Chaos In prior editions, the Inner Planes were the basic building blocks of the Prime Material Plane, and, sometimes, the rest of the planes.  The planes were distinct, there were the Plane of Fire, Plane of Air, Plane of Earth, and Plane of Water.  Now, in 4E, we have one single plane consisting of all four of the elements.  No infinite plane for each individual element, they are now all stirred together in a huge mess.  Sorry, but the classical elements divided make sense to me in this milieu, not a mish-mosh of all.  How do “pure” elementals make sense now, if their building blocks intermingle randomly?  Answer: they don’t.
  3. The Outer Planes Rather, the absence of them is a stickler for me.  Related to my first point, the absence of the nine alignments necessitates the removal of the Great Wheel.  Yes, I want it back, but look at what we have in its place.  The Astral Sea, a single plane, wherein we have islands, realms where none other than the gods themselves live.  No longer are infinite planes the homes of gods, but little islands where the greatest powers in the multiverse live.  Why?  Why limit gods to an island?  OK, so the earlier editions’ gods ruled over finite sections of the outer planes, or entire layers of them, but there were boundaries there, and not just the “shorelines” of a sea.
  4. Eladrin Please, earlier editions had elves, and their offshoots, the drow.  Why split the line further with another elf?  What’s the point?  So we can have an elf with different stat adjustments?  Allow me to roll my eyes.
These are only a few of the problems I have with the changes between 3.x and 4E.  I could go on, but I’ll stop here, for now.
Don’t get me wrong, I like 4E for the most part.  I haven’t had as much experience with it as I have with earlier editions, and that may have something to do with my complaints.  Still, from the first time I read the 4E books, I’ve had these issues with the rules.
How about you?  Do you have any problems with 4E, when compared to 3.x or earlier?  Or maybe you prefer these changes to the earlier editions?  Let me know in the comments.

Posted by on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 in Gaming


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Review – Captain America: The First Avenger

I was late to the comic book scene.  I never even picked up and read one until I was in college.  Once I did, however, like everything else I get into, I went whole-hog.  I picked up a good $10 to $30 per week habit which, in the early-1990’s, amounted to three to seven comic books per week.  Over the course of two years or so, I had acquired quite an extensive collection.

I have to admit, Cap was not one of my regular reads.  I’d pick up an issue here and there, so I knew enough about him that I wasn’t totally confused when he popped up in another series.  So, it is with this background that I went to the movie last night.

To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first; most movies, especially superhero movies, seem to disappoint me.  I was expecting to see bad acting, poor dialog, unbelievable action and oh-too-obvious predictability.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The opening scene shows us a weak and sickly Steve Rogers trying again, unsuccessfully, to volunteer for the military during World War II.  I think they did a great job establishing his character’s personality and motivation.  Just as impressive was the CG hiding Chris Evans’s physique beneath a skinny and short frame;  I didn’t really detect any of the telltale signs of computer gimmickry. Also well-done was the portrayal of his relationship with his best friend Bucky Barnes, important to later scenes in the movie.

I’m not 100% certain that the origin story was true-to-canon, with the super-soldier serum and vitarays, but I enjoyed it.  It didn’t stretch the suspension of disbelief within the superhero genre, so I was able to roll with it and remain engaged with the story.

I was especially pleased with the portrayal of the villain, Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. Red Skull.  His motivation was simple and clear, which is to be expected in a comic-book antagonist.  I also have to compliment the timing of Red Skull’s unveiling – it was perfect, unlike the villain in another film of recent memory.

Finally, the action in the movie was excellent.  It was only slightly over-the-top, and just a little cheesy – exactly what the Silver Age Comics genre calls for.  Not once did I roll my eyes or say to myself, “Oh, please!”  Again, it stayed within the bounds of credibility that it had set for itself.

The conclusion was pretty much exactly what I predicted it would be a quarter of the way into the movie.  However, I really can’t call this a disappointment.  On the contrary, I was pleased with the ending, and may have been disappointed if it were any different.  I say this as a fan of comic book tropes, especially in the Silver Age – the last page has to close the loop.

A bonus for those of us who stay until the credits are finished: you will catch a trailer for the upcoming movie The Avengers.  I’m glad that Mike and I both have the habit of waiting to the very end.

Oh, and I am very pleased to report that the movie did feature a scene with steak.  Colonel Phillips brought a platter to… oh, no, wait – I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet.

BeefGriller’s Rating: 5 Steaks(Prime Rib)

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Posted by on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 in Reviews


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RPG Seeds – Sea Priestess

As a long-time GM, I’ve found inspiration for adventures, campaigns, characters and locales in some of the most unusual places: history books, novels, paintings, sculptures, conversations, and songs, to name but a few sources.  Here, I will briefly describe an idea that came to me while listening to Edge Of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks.

Enter our antagonist – the Priestess of Umberlee, The Bitch Queen.  I chose Umberlee because, at the time, we were playing in the Forgotten Realms, and, in my mind, the antagonist worshiped an evil(or at least very demanding) sea god.  This Priestess has found an ancient and abandoned temple to Umberlee in a cave on a cliff overlooking the sea.  The temple was built by an aquatic race thousands upon thousands of years ago.  At the time of its dedication, the cave itself was submerged.  For some reason, however, the sea withdrew, the cliff rose out of the water, and the entrance remained undiscovered until recently.  How or why did this happen?  Did Umberlee punish her worshipers for some transgression?  Did she lose some great battle to another god – the temple becoming the prize?  Perhaps it was simply a natural occurrence, the result of an earthquake, or global cooling caused the sea level to drop?  The answer to these questions could provide further hooks for the story.

What are this Priestess’s goals?  More personal power?  More power for her goddess?  Does she wish to establish a following on land for her goddess?  To me, Umberlee seems the kind of goddess who prefers smaller, more numerous groups of worshipers – as a Choatic Evil deity, larger institutions just don’t seem her thing.  I’ve always thought of the Priestess as wanting to establish a small cult devoted to Umberlee.  She seeks to increase her own power by increasing the influence of Umberlee.  To this end, she needs followers…

Umberlee, The Bitch Queen

Enter the cultists – two young men who serve the Priestess, in more ways than one.  Yes, it’s hackneyed, but the Priestess has recruited the two youths by seducing them.  They each seek greater attention by carrying out her orders, as well as sabotaging one another’s efforts.  Not only does this competition have them putting forth more effort toward the Priestess’s goals, but also serves Umberlee’s desire for conflict.

For her part, the Priestess spends her days deciphering the ancient inscriptions on the walls, statue bases, stone tablets, etc. found within the temple.  She sends her devotees for supplies, scrolls, and other items that may be of use in her endeavors.

Enter the heroes – this is where the PCs come in.  Perhaps the Priestess’s two cultists have been too ambitious in their tasks?  In gathering supplies for a ritual, they killed a local sage who became suspicious of them.  Or they’ve been poaching beasts considered sacred to a conclave of druids or elves.  Perhaps her devotees’ families are concerned about their sudden elusiveness and shirking of responsibilities.  Or, for the darker campaign, perhaps the ritual calls for the sacrifice of “the blood and entrails of three-and-ten whose souls are pure” – and young children have been disappearing from several towns, villages or cities as of late.

I have to admit – I have a fairly well-defined framework for this story, but I’ve left much of it out of this post.  I’d rather give a general idea for you to use in your own game(s), rather than specific details that wouldn’t work for you at all.  Besides, I believe that a good GM would rather fill in the details himself or herself.

Speaking of which, how would you use the Priestess in your campaign?  Would you like to hear more details from me, or would you care to fill in the blanks on your own in the comments?

Leave a comment

Posted by on Monday, 25 July 2011 in Gaming


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My Very First Game, Or – How To Chase Away A New Player

Allow me to reminisce – about my very first experience with Dungeons & Dragons –

1st Edition Dungeon & Dragons Player's Handbook

It was 1981, the summer between Fifth and Sixth Grade.  I was a mere lad, ten years of age.  I was at a friend’s house, and he wanted me to see this game his older brother was running.  “Don’t you mean ‘playing,'” I asked.  “No, running.  My other brother, two neighbors and I are playing it,” he replied.  “Huh?  What’s it called?” “Dungeons and Dragons – it’s a game where we explore caves, castles and dungeons, fight monsters and get the treasure afterwards.”  My interest piqued, I asked, “So, what do you do, wear armor and swing swords?”  “Well, only if you’re a ‘fighter.’  And it doesn’t have to be a sword – it can be a mace, or a club, or a glaive-”  “A what,” I interrupted. “Uh, I’m not sure – oh, and magic-users can’t wear armor.” “Magic-users?!?” “Yeah, you know, like wizards who can cast spells like fireball, magic missile, invisibility-” he explained.  Once again, I interrupted, “Cool! I want to play a wizard!  Can I?”  “Let’s talk to my brother.”

They didn’t let me play that day – something about it not being realistic to meet their characters while they were in a dungeon.  Still, I watched, fascinated with what was unfolding in front of me.  There were these funny dark orange sheets where the players had written their characters’ stats, items and spells, funny dice (“Why would anyone need anything other than the regular cube?” “d6 – it’s called a d6.”), funny-sounding enemies like “orc,” “ghast,” “stirge,” and “gelatinous cube,” and a whole bunch of paper sheets with numbers written and scratched off (“That’s my hit points, and the DM has the same for the monsters.”).

So, the adventure ended that evening, and I would “roll up my characters” during the week before the next session on Wednesday night.  “Why will I have two characters? Why not just one?” “Well, just in case one of them dies, you won’t be left out,” explained my friend’s brother.  That settled, I quickly pored through this black-covered Player’s Handbook with a gem-eyed demon statue on the cover.  I went directly to the Magic-User section, and rolled…

Three “regular” dice (“3d6, they’re called 3d6,” I reminded myself), write the total in the blocks, top-to-bottom.  At the end, in the second field labelled with the letter “I,” I had written the number 7.  “OK, so I want him to be my wizard.” “Sorry, he’s too dumb,” he laughed.  “He can’t be a magic-user!  Ha-ha!”  OK, that was a setback, I guess.  Still, I forged ahead and made this one a barbarian.  I still had one more chance, with my second character.  Rolling the 3d6 and writing in the first number, I then nervously picked up the dice and shook them, willing a high-enough number to come forth.  Roll-roll-roll, pause.  Roll-roll-roll, pause again.  Then, one more time for good luck, roll-roll-roll, and DROP…!

Magic-User Sheet

Magic-User / Illusionist Character Sheet

4. 6. And 5.  Wait a minute…, “Fifteen!  Fifteen!  I have my Magic-User!” The rest of the rolls didn’t matter to me – I had my magic-user.  That was all that mattered.  So, I finished up with making my barbarian, then turned my attention to the magic-user.  I picked the spells that my friend and his brother suggested, bought equipment for the both of them, and took the sheets home to familiarize myself with them before Wednesday.

The day finally arrived.  I rode my bike to their house, excited that I was finally going to cast some spells!  I sat at the table and listened to the DM about how we were exploring the ruins of some wizard’s tower.  I let the other players direct the actions of the party, as far as going down the stairs, turning left, listening at the door.  The fact is, I don’t remember anything too clearly before this point.

My barbarian bashed in a door, surprising some orcs in the room.  He charged them, the rest of the party following suit.  It was my magic-user’s turn, and he unleashed a mighty MAGIC MISSILE!  That was it!  I had finally done it!  I had cast a spell, by golly!  “OK, roll the d4, Mark.” “That’s the pyramid, right?” “Yes.”  “Wait, how do I know what number it rolled?” (Later, I would learn that everyone asks that question the first time they roll a d4.) Roll-roll-roll: 2.  “Two – is that good?”  The other players snickered.  “Oh, I guess not.”  OK, so it wasn’t the battle-deciding action I wanted.  No problem, there’s always next battle, right?

So, the rest of the battle consisted of my magic-user trying unsuccessfully to stab the orcs with his dagger, while my barbarian did some decent damage with his two-handed sword.  Afterwards, we went down a hallway, and came to a door.  “What do you do, Mark?” “Huh, why me?” “Because your barbarian is in front.” “Oh.  OK, um, listen at the door, I guess?” “You can’t – you’re not a thief?” “Huh?”(1st Ed. only allowed a thief to “Hear Noise.”) “OK, I guess I open the door.”

And open the door he did – to a room with pools of different colored liquids!  “Oh, this is a potion room,” one of the other players asked. “Yes,” answered the DM, “but you can’t tell what they are unless you taste them.”  Ooooo – magical experimentation! But, from which pool to drink?  “There is a blue pool, a red pool, a green pool, an orange pool, a black pool, and a yellow pool.”

“I’ll try the red pool,” said one player. The DM exclaimed, “You feel stronger! It’s a potion of strength!”

“I’ll try the blue pool,” said another. “You start flying! It’s a potion of flying,” said the DM.

“How about the yellow,” asked a third.  “It’s a potion of invisibility!”

“What about you, Mark?  Are you going to try one of them?”  Five sets of eyes turned toward me.  I had no idea which one to try.  “Well, OK.  What one should I drink?”  “That’s up to you,” the DM said.  “Let him pick one,” he told the other players.  “Uh, OK, then… I’ll try the… green one?”  Snickers from the players, then the DM quickly asked, “Which one?  Which character drinks the green pool?”  “Well, my magic-user – he’s the one who knows about potions, I guess?”

DEAD! You’re magic-user is DEAD! Ha-ha-ha!!!” The rest of the players all laughed as well, while I’m left feeling like a fool.  “What? Why?!?” My friend explained, “Green slime – it was green slime, right?”  The DM answered, “Yeah – and Mark’s magic-user drinks it, screams, and melts as his insides are eaten away!”  The next few minutes are like hell as they all comically reenact my magic-user’s death, as if I should have known better.  “Geez, you could have said something to me,” I said to my friend.  “I couldn’t – that’s the way D&D works.  Unless you say that you ask for help, we can’t say anything.”

“WTF?!?” I thought to myself (OK, 10-year-old me would have thought “What the heck?!?”)  I don’t remember the rest of the evening’s activities.  I think I rolled when and what they told me to roll, wrote a few things down, then rode my bike home.  I do remember thinking that I was robbed – I wanted, more than anything, to have a character who could cast spells, but, because of some stupid, unnecessary rule that I didn’t even know about, I wouldn’t be able to do that.

The Red Box

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set

I felt that my first time playing Dungeons & Dragons was a disaster.  I considered quitting the group altogether.  Doing that probably meant leaving D&D, because no-one else who I knew  played it.  Regardless, I decided to go back and continue to play as my barbarian.  I even got him up to 5th or 6th level, I think, before the Christmas holiday.  I’m glad I did, because I saw the potential in this game.  Unfortunately, I never got to play a magic-user again…

That is until the Christmas break, when I bought the Red Box… but that’s the subject of another post.

How about you?  Was your first foray into role-playing games as bad as, or even worse than mine?  Good or bad, has it shaped the rest of your gaming experience as a player or a GM?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Posted by on Thursday, 21 July 2011 in Gaming


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RPG Visuals

RPGs are all mental… wait, let me rephrase that: RPGs exist primarily in the participants’ imagination.  The rulebooks, dice, character sheets, and battlemats are secondary – the primary driver of RPG enjoyment is the imagination.  Without it, RPGs become mere boardgames, where all action takes place on the table with tokens, markers, dice and paper.  Now, this is not necessarily bad – boardgames can be very satisfying.  However, unleash the imagination, and you can have an incomparable experience.  Now, there are many more factors than that, such as the participants, rules, and environment.  But here, we’ll deal with imagination…

Or, more precisely, how a visual accessory can stimulate the imagination.  Let me back up a little.  I, personally, have no artistic ability, as far as drawing, painting, sculpture, etc., goes.  I like to think that I can write descriptive text well enough, and use my voice to bring characters to life, but I can’t even draw a convincing stick figure.  When it comes to something in which I have no skill, I am in awe of those who can do it.  Most recently, I am impressed with the artistic ability of one person whom I know though Twitter.


Symatt is someone whom I am proud to call a friend on the other side of the Atlantic.  He is quite active on Twitter, and, I believe, a fixture in the online RPG community.  Lately, he has been doing what he calls his Countersketches.  He has been requesting ideas for these countersketches lately, and I decided to respond.  Here is what I suggested, in two tweets:

[How about] an azer, reclining in a beach chair on volcanic sand, feet dipped in a lava lake, glass in hand, the contents boiling, of course, and a look of contentment on his face.

An azer, in Dungeons and Dragons, is a dwarf from the elemental plane of fire, with skin the color of brass and fire in place of its hair and beard.  Armed with only this information, Symatt was able to produce the drawing, in only a single day!

Symatt's Azer

I have to say, Symatt nailed it.  I wish I had a tenth of his talent.  Images like this would make anyone’s RPG session 100 times better by stimulating the imagination.


Posted by on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 in Gaming


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So, Let Me Tell You About My Campaign…

I’m a gamer.  More precisely, I am a role-playing gamer.  If you don’t know what that means, feel free to use a search engine to learn about it.  Go ahead… I’ll wait until you come back…

OK, so you know what an RPG is.  I’ve been the GM of my group for nearly three years now.  I’ve been a member of the same group, with slight changes in player composition, for thirteen years.  The problem, throughout the entire run, but especially for the last three years, is the frequency with which we are able to meet to play.  The reasons are numerous, such as family events, sickness, work, life in general.  The most recent game with this group happened way back in January.  (Dear Lord, it’s really been half a year since we last gamed!)

So, with this dearth of gaming, I have really been itching to game.  Circumstances haven’t changed, so I don’t foresee us gaming for a while.  So, what does one do when one is jonesing for a game, but one’s group cannot meet regularly?  Well, one could find new players and start a new game.  Unfortunately, one would also have to be able to meet regularly with said new group, and this one can’t really commit to that.

Alright, then, what does one do in that case?  Well, in my case, I’ve found a new gaming outlet: Play-by-Post (PbP) gaming!

PbP is a style of RPG that occurs entirely online.  The game itself is played out on an online forum, where the GM posts about a situation, and the players post their characters’ response to the situation.  The GM then posts how the situation changes due to their actions, and so on.

Here’s the conundrum: I’ve never participated in a PbP before, as a player or a GM.  I’ve read many PbP game forums, so I have an idea what PbP games are like, but I still have no first-hand experience with them.  Nevertheless, I wanted to forge ahead, and learn as I go.  I was fortunate –  I was able to find three players who have never been involved in a PbP either.  I call myself fortunate in this regard because we are all learning together, and I feel a little more confident because of it.  It is parallel to my initial foray into tabletop pen-and-paper (PnP) RPGs… but that’s a topic for another post.

Another difference for me is the game, Gamma World.  I’ve only ever played and GMed Dungeons and Dragons, in all of its editions.  Well, once I did GM a Toon RPG game, but that was all, and I considered it a disaster – not a fault of the game either, but of the person running it.  But I digress.  So, this is my first time GMing Gamma World, my first time being involved with PbP, leading a group of first-time PbP players. Whew!  For those who may be interested, the campaign, But Not A Drop To Drink, can be found on the ENnie Award-nominated site Obsidian Portal.

So, what have I learned about this new (to me) style of RPG so far?

  1. The pace is slow, even glacial, compared to the traditional, face-to-face PnP game.  We’ve been running this game since July 7 – ten days ago.  I’ve made three “in-character” posts, each of my players have made two.  Fifteen minutes of in-game time has elapsed so far.  I anticipate that to slow even more once combat breaks out.  This pace has its advantage – each of us has ample time to consider our actions and reactions, to read earlier posts for information (just in case we missed something previously, or, perish the thought! – forgot something), or to ask for more information or clarification.  It has disadvantages – for example, every time I post, as GM, I find myself waiting eagerly for my players to respond.
  2. Your words are paramount.  In a text-only communication medium, your writing must be clear, precise, understandable, and informative.  This is more important for the GM, it seems, because the GM is responsible for the world, the NPCs, the events, and, basically, everything the players are not responsible for.  Still, the players must make sure they are clearly describing their characters’ thoughts, emotions and actions.
  3. PbPs are more akin to collaborative fiction than to traditional RPGs.  Depending on the protocols agreed to (or set in place by the GM), the players have more narrative control over the scene than in PnP games.  Is there a rock on the ground that the character can use to smash a lock?  Well, there is if the player says so, and as long as it doesn’t contradict how the GM has set the scene.
Honestly, I’m very happy with how this PbP game is unfolding.  I find myself eagerly anticipating the players’ next posts, as well as the opportunity to post my own replies.  The next “deadline” for the players’ in-character posts is tomorrow evening, Monday, 18 July at 11:59 PM.  I plan to post a follow-up report here at Elf Steaks in a few months, once we all get into a grove and our game and style has more time to develop.
Do any of you have experience with PbP games?  What were the protocols you followed?  Please comment below.
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Posted by on Sunday, 17 July 2011 in Gaming


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Welcome! Enjoy some elf steaks and halfling bacon!

So, I’ve finally done it.  I’ve considered starting a blog for quite a while – long before the term “blog” was even coined.  Oh, I’ve done a few things in the past, such as writing a page about beer – one of my passions, my thoughts on being an adoptee – one of the basic things that defines me, as well as several mini-pages about Linux, open-source software in general, etc., etc..  But I never actually went so far as to register a domain, write posts, and the other various and sundry things that constitute owning a blog.

The question is, “Why start a blog now?”  The answer is… well, I can’t really put my finger on it.  I’ve been active on Twitter for the last year as @BeefGriller, and through that service, I’ve met many wonderful people whom I am proud to call friends.  More than a few of those friends have blogs of their own.  They seem to enjoy posting to them.  On top of that, there are many times that I have more to say than can fit in 140 characters.  Twitter isn’t billed as a microblogging service for nothing.

Now, here I am – at the end of my first post.  My question to myself is, “Where do you go from here, Mark?”  Honestly, I don’t know.  I think I’ll stick with my passions – pen-and-paper roleplaying games (RPGs), family, friends, philosophies, food and drink.  Please be patient with me as I learn not only about blogging, but also the blog itself (themes, widgets, menus…).

It’s going to be fun, interesting times for me.  Wish me luck.


Posted by on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 in Personal


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