Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Pathfinder 2nd ed Advanced Player's Guide

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide
Continuing my exploration of the Pathfinder Second Edition I am going to examine the book you all knew I was going to get to sooner or later. 

Like the previous edition of Pathfinder the Advanced Player's Guide introduces some new classes to the Pathfinder game, and like the previous edition, one of those classes introduced is the Witch.

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide 

As before I am considering the hardcover Special Edition version of this book. The book is 272 pages and has full-color interior art.

This book is Player focused and shares a lot in common with its predecessor. It also follows the format of the Second Edition Core rules.

Introduction

This introduces us to the book and gives us an overview of what we can expect.

Ancestries & Backgrounds

Now here are some neat ideas. We get five new Ancestries here. They are Catfolk, Kobolds, Orcs, Ratfolk, and Tengus.  

The Catfolk are fun and comparable to the D&D Tabaxi and Rakasta (not Rakasha).  Likewise, the Tengus are like the D&D Kenku.  Orcs are orcs, but I like what they are doing with them. Orcs has always been the "Klingons" of D&D. Someone to fight in the TOS ("The Original Series" or "The Old School") but that changed later on. We have Klingons in Starfleet in TNG and beyond and now we can have Orcs as a player race.  Orcs are still described as being mostly chaotic (which I like) and even, maybe just a little bit evil. Player Character Orcs don't have to be.  Also like Klingons, these Orcs seem to see their gods as something they should strive to kill. A little John Wick influence here? (The game designer, not the character).  These orcs would be interesting to play.  We also get Ratfolk (anthropomorphic rats) and Kobolds.  Now I will admit, I really don't like Pathfinder's ultra-reptilian Kobolds.  I am certain they have their fans, but if I am going to play a small annoying creature why would I choose anything but a goblin? 

Each ancestry gets a set of ancestry feats to choose at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

There are new heritages as well including the new versatile heritage which gives you lineage feats as well. I know the "feat haters" are already screaming. Yeah, that might be justified. The lineages are Changeling, Dhampir, and Planar Scions which include Aasimar, Duskwalker, and Tiefling.  These feats are also taken at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

More feats are given for the Core Rules ancestries as well. I think the next goblin I play is going to need the "Extra Squishy" feat.

There are more backgrounds as well including Common and Rare backgrounds. 

Classes

Ah. The real reason I bought this book!

In addition to the four new classes, Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, and Witch, there are new features for the twelve Core Rules classes.

The Investigator is an interesting class and one I can see working well in an FRPG.  Basically is Sherlock Holme could fit into your game then this class has a place too.  The Oracle is a staple of classic mythology and is a divine-powered class. A nice alternative to the cleric.  The Swashbuckler is neat and all but I didn't "get it" until I started thinking of them as a DEX-based fighter as opposed to the normal STR-based one. That leaves just one more class.

The Witch

The Witch has been a great addition to Pathfinder since 1st Edition and I rather like this one too.  This witch is an Intelligence-based spellcaster. Like many interpretations of the witch she gets a Patron and Familiar.  This is how she learns her spells. Now for me this points more to Charisma, but there are a lot of Charisma-based casters in Pathfinder. Wisdom would have also been a good choice.  These witches also get Hexes which are powers they can use that are not spells but spell-like. 

While clerics are clearly divine spellcasters and wizards are arcane, witches as a class can move about these distinctions. So depending on their Patron Theme, they can be Arcane, Divine, Occult, or Primal.  A Rune Witch is arcane, but a Winter Witch is primal. This time also grants a skill, a cantrip and a spell.

In addition to spells, hexes, patrons, and loads of feats, witches also get Lessons, each lesson gives the witch a hex and their familiar a spell. Witches don't use spell books here, just their familiars.  There is so much customization I could make 1000s of witches and no two would be the same. 

Witches in Pathfinder fill the same ecological niche that Warlocks do in D&D 5.

Following the witch we get new feats for the twelve core rules classes. Typically a two- or four-page spread continues with PF2e's design aesthetic. Sorcerers, I should note get new bloodlines as well. 

There is also a section on animal companions (largely stats) and familiars. 

Archetypes
Archetypes

Like the Core Rules of PF2e this has several archetypes that can be applied to classes via the applications of various feats and skills. I do see where some of the 3.x Prestige Classes are now living on here as archetypes. There are also the multi-class archetypes for all the new classes. One of these new archetypes is the Cavalier. I can complete my "Dragon 114" duo with a human witch and an elven cavalier!  Some of these archetypes can be be taken as early as 2nd level, others (typically the former Prestige Classes) need more requirements and have to be taken at higher levels.  I would need to compare and contrast the archetypes to the old Prestige Classes to see how they work out.  I can see where you can build your own Batman now with the monk class, the investigator multi-class feat, and vigilante archetype. 

One thing though. I can see these archetype being adapted to D&D5 or even OSR D&D with some care and attention. 

Feats

Feats are either the boon or bane of Pathfinder. This chapter has more of them.

Spells

New spell casting classes mean a need for new spells. 

Items

New magic items.

All in all this book is a lot of fun. The art is great, and the layout and design is fantastic. There are a lot of great ideas here and I would love to try them out.  Hell. I would be content in making a different PF2e witch a day just to see how many I could do.  But don't worry, I am not going to that except maybe for myself.

There is a lot here I would love to see find a home in some way for D&D, maybe for D&D6.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Review: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Pathfinder Second Edition
All month long I have been talking about, but more appropriately around, D&D. For the rest of this week I want to talk about D&D's, now adult, younger cousin. Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

This won't be a full review. The Pathfinder Core book is massive and absolutely packed. Plus there are plenty of reviews out there.  Instead, I am going to look at some of the changes, updates, and innovations of the game and compare and contrast it to Pathfinder 1e, D&D4, and D&D5.

A bit of history first. Pathfinder 1st Edition was published by Paizo Publishing in 2009.  It was an immediate success with the core book selling out at it's appearance at Gen Con.  Don't quote me, but I think it was some sort of record.  Since then Paizo has always had a huge presence at Gen Con.  Paizo had been one of the 3rd party publishers of choice back in the 3.x days 2000-2008. It had a license to publish Dragon and Dungeon magazines and its support products for 3e were some of the best on the market. When Wizards of the Coast shifted direction and released D&D 4th Edition with no OGL backing, Paizo saw their opening.  They released Pathfinder to a huge public beta testing and took in all sorts of feedback. The Core Rules, which combined what had normally been the Player's book and the Game Masters' book into one massive tome.

It is hard to appreciate just how successful Pathfinder was.  When sales of D&D 4 spiked, but then dropped suddenly, Pathfinder took over the throne of best-selling fantasy RPG from D&D.  D&D didn't just sit on that throne, they built it, often from the bones of vanquished enemies like DragonQuest. So successful that many people began to call it D&D 3.75 and even the rightful progression of D&D 3.x.  

Pathfinder was a success and really would have been a success even without D&D4 underperforming (make no mistake D&D 4 still sold better than pretty much everything else combined). 

Fast Forward to 2012-13. Wizards announce they are holding public playtests for what they are calling D&D Next. The playtests are similar to Pathfinder's.  In 2014 D&D 5e is released to critical and commercial acclaim.  D&D retakes its throne and stays there.  Meanwhile by 2014 Pathfinder is moving along with a 14-year-old system (the 3.0 OGC). It survived the d20 boom and glut and still is the game of choice for many.  But sales are low and the true money maker of any RPG are the core books.  So in 2018 Pathfinder releases their 2nd Edition Playtest book.

Pathfinder 2e Playtest and Special Editions

It does not go over as well as the first playtest, this is the third time the market has seen this from the Big 2, but it is enough that Paizo releases Pathfinder 2nd Edition at Gen Con 2019.  That brings me to today, Pathfinder 2nd Ed in 2022.

Pathfinder Second Edition

Pathfinder 2nd Edition (PF2e here on) is the update to the best-selling, award-winning Pathfinder RPG. For this review/overview I am considering the Special Edition hardcover from my FLGS.  The book is 640 pages with full-color art.

Let's just start from the top. This book is gorgeous. The art is what you have come to expect from Pathfinder and this one does not skimp on it. 

PF2e interior art

There is an evolution here that is very interesting. It is something I call my "Modula-2 Experience."  Back in my undergrad days, I learned to program in Pascal. Not uncommon really, lots of people did that then. But later on I picked up other languages. I had already learned BASIC and Fortran so I picked up C and Modula-2.  C is very different than Pascal so keeping the syntax straight was an issue at first but then became easier. Modula-2 is almost identical to Pascal with some odd bits here and there. Picking up the syntax was a lot easier, but became harder to keep them separate as I went on.

Pathfinder follows the Modula-2 path from D&D's Pascal.  To extend the metaphor more, D&D 3 is Pascal, Pathfinder 1 is Modula-2, D&D 5 is Object Pascal/Delphi and Pathfinder 2e is Oberon. To extend my metaphor to breaking Original D&D is ALGOL.

Exploring PF2e is fascinating. There is a game here that I easily recognize and yet looks new at the same time.  All of the same abilities are here, many of the same races (now called "Ancestries & Backgrounds), and classes.  In fact, the first 240 or so pages read like D&D 3 or 5 or Pathfinder. It's when you delve into the details that differences become apparent.  

1 Introduction

This chapter introduces us to RPGs in general and the Pathfinder 2nd Edition in particular. It (and the rest of the book) features the main text and sidebars to explain the text or put it into context. For example, the text on page 7 mentions dice and the sidebar shows a picture of dice with the standard die nomenclature. 

This covers the basics of character creation such as deciding on your concept, rolling or assigning your six abilities (the classic six), figuring out your character details, and more.  We have six ancestries and twelve character classes.

Ancestries and Classes

Now I will say this. While I appreciate a good character sheet breakdown, the PF2e sheet is ugly as hell. For all the great art in this book that is one garish sheet. Wow. I'll stick with the black & white one.

2 Ancestries & Backgrounds

Modern RPGs are moving away from the concept of "race" and instead are going with Ancestries. I rather like this approach, to be honest. While "race" might be a good term, there are enough negative connotations to it (see my discussions of 19th Century Race Theory) to make it less than desirable. Plus Ancestries and Background help parse out what you get via your parents (eyes, pointy ears, and more) and what you get growing up in a culture.  

Ancestries are what older games call "race" it helps determine your ability score bonuses and sometimes penalty, your size, your speed, and what languages you might know. It also gives you "traits" and who well you see in the dark.  Heritages are sub-specialties of the Ancestries.  My favorite ancestry for PF2e right now is Goblin. Yes, you can play a Goblin in this game! The heritage I like the most is the Ironguy Goblin. You can eat anything.  I love Pathfinder goblins. 

Each ancestry gets an ancestry feat (PF2e is crazy with feats) at the first level. This helps define your character. For example, one feat is Goblin Song where you sing annoying goblin songs to distract your enemies.  You can get additional ancestry feats at 5th, 9th, and 13th levels. Some have pre-requisites. So you can't take "Very, Very Sneaky" at 13th level unless you took "Very Sneaky" before.

An interesting note here. Half-elves and Half-orcs are not an Ancestry. You take Human as your ancestry and then half-elf or half-orc as your heritage. The rule implication here is clear.  You can have mixed ancestry and heritage as the rules allow, you just need your GM to be ok with it. 

Backgrounds are chosen like a feat but are akin to the Backgrounds of 5e.  Akin, not the same.  These usually give some sort of skill, skill boost, or feat. 

Languages come from your Ancestry, heritage (sometimes) and background (sometimes).  

Your HP at level 1 is based on your Ancestry and not your class.  This is a good change since it can also apply to monsters and level-0 NPCs.

3 Classes

Here we get the classes we know from 3.x, more or less. There is the new Champion class, which replaces the Paladin (a Paladin is a type of Champion) and the new Alchemist. 

Alchemist

Each class has an ability boost, HD for leveling up, saves, attacks, and what skills they have access to. They are constructed very similarly to D&D 3.x/PF1e classes. Each class also has a series of feats they can take at various levels. These include Class Feats (specific to class) and General Feats (used by all). You take a Class Feat at 2nd level and every even level after. General feats are taken at 3rd level and every four levels after. There are also skill increases, ability boosts and other powers/abilities so that there is something happening at every level for all classes.   There are also sample variations on each class; these are done with the choices you make in powers, skills, and feats.  For example a Paladin is a Lawful Good Champion and Dancer is a Bard that takes ranks in Acrobatics and Perform (among others).  So customization is through the roof and no two characters of the same class need to look or feel the same. 

Seoni the Sorceress

To add to this there are even Archetypes to define your character or at 2nd level you can take a multiclass feat to add some abilities of another class to your current one. Much like D&D 4e used to do.  There is just so much to do with these classes.   No surprise then that classes take up almost a quarter to a third of this book.

I do miss the Prestige Classes from 3.x/PF1e though. Though with this level of customization they can be "thematically" folded into the existing rules here with no issues.  Want to be an Arcane Archer? I am sure there is a good skill/feat options that allow you to do that. 

4 Skills

There are 17 skills for PF2e. They are well described and include things you can do untrained and things you can do trained. There are also specific examples of things you can do with each skill and whether or not these are move actions, require concentration or other modifiers. For example, Climbing is a type of Athletics check and it is a Move action. 

5 Feats

Pathfinder isn't Pathfinder without Feats. Love them or hate them they are baked into the system here more than D&D or PF1e. And there is a lot of them. Again though great for character customization, bad for GMs needing to keep track of everything.

6 Equipment

Covers the shopping list. But also has premade Class Kits you can buy which have all the basic gear a class is likely to take. 

7 Spells

The next largest section (about 120 pages) is Spells.  All the same, schools are here, but now magic is divided into Arcane (Wizards), Divine (Clerics), Occult (Bards), and Primal (Druids) Spells.  So seeing a bit of PF1e's later material and D&D4e DNA here.  There are Spell Slots from 0 to 10 (yes 10th-level spell slots) and spells of level 0 (Cantrips) to 9. So you can heighten a spell to higher slots or sometimes a spell might need a higher slot depending on a feat. Similar to 3.x certainly but also a little feel of 5e's spell slot system.  So for example there is no Monster Summoning I to IX. There is only Summon Animal (or Construct or Fiend or Fey etc.) and you can heighten the spell at higher spell slots. So taking Summon Animal at a 7th level Spell Slot lets you summon a level 9 or lower animal. 

Spells are all listed alphabetically and tagged with various descriptors like "Cantrip," "Divination," or "Mental" and more. The description also lists what tradition(s) they belong too, Arcanes, Divine, Occult and/or Primal. 

There are also "Focus" spells that are unique to a particular Class.  Bards, Champions, Clerics, Druids, Monks, Sorcerers, and Wizards all get their own lists unique to them. Yes monks get "Ki" spells.  

Like past versions, but mostly like D&D 4e there are also Rituals. these take longer and have certain requirements that need to be met. 

8 Age of Lost Omens

This covers the very basics of Golarion, Pathfinder's game world. It includes a little history, the lands, and the gods. 

9 Playing the Game 

This is mostly the Game Master's section but there is still plenty here for players.  Covers all the rules needed to play with an emphasis on the basic d20 roll and checks. Note there is no "Natural 20 = critical hit" here, BUT score 10 higher than their DC/AC then you do have a crit! So that is kinda cool. 

10 Game Mastering

This is the Game Master's chapter. Lots of advice here on how to run PF2e games (and some of it applies to any d20-based game.)  There is a lot here yes, but obviously more could be said since there is a Game Mastery guide out as well. 

11 Crafting & Treasure

Modern gamers love to make things. I blame Minecraft. This chapter covers making things (great for the alchemists) and treasure. This is also a fairly large chapter.

Treasure

We end with the Appendicies. 

--

This book is huge and it is packed with information.  The index is great and very useful. In fact, the entire design of the game allows ease of access to all information. This is one of the things that made 4e a well-designed game (not the same as "playable") and we see it live on in OSE as well. 

Who Should Play Pathfinder Second Edition?

Anyone who loves to play D&D in its myriad forms and also loves deep character customization.  In fact, if you love building characters and don't have a game going at the moment then Pathfinder has a lot to keep your character-building hobby very busy.

It is not a lite game. It is very, very crunchy.  While the differences between PF1e vs D&D4 were very pronounced there is less obvious differences between PF2e and D&D5 at least in terms of the types of games you can play.  I will say that if you were to play something like "Keep on the Borderlands" the differences in play between D&D5e and PF2e would be minimal and all resting on the mechanics of the game. Still, you are going to roll initiative, roll to attack an orc, roll a d20 to see if you hit, and then roll damage as indicated by your weapon type. At higher levels, these mechanical differences will become further apart, but essentially they both still have the same DNA linking them back to D&D 3 and before.

There is a lot to like about this game. There is a lot of game here too and that might not be to everyone's taste.

I can something like the Ancestries, Heritages, and Backgrounds making their way to D&D proper. It is so useful and gives so much more customization that looking back it seems like a no-brainer.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Die Hüne

David faces Goliath in this 1888 lithograph by Osmar Schindler
Today I want to delve a bit more into an idea I had been playing around with a little while ago, the combined pantheon of Greek and Norse mythos into a Roman-Norse syncretism. Both groups have many common features, but one that sticks out is the use of a race of giants that predate the gods that represent the forces of chaos.

In my syncretized myths these creatures are called Die Hüne, (plural. Singular: Der Hüne).  This is what I said about them before:

Die Hüne are the Titans and the Giants of both myths. Primordial beings of great power that the gods defeated but still trouble them. In this myth, the Gods fought Die Hüne and brought order out of chaos. These are not just giants and titans, these creatures are the demons of this mythology.

In my mind, they are something of a combination of giant, elemental, and demon. The Gigantes of Greek myth (not AD&D) were more monstrous creatures.  The jötunn of Norse myth likewise were more demonic. As time goes on these titans and jötunn become more and more human-looking till we have something like the giants of D&D. 

My goal with Der Hüne is to get back to those older, more monstrous giants. Given that this mythology is half-Roman, these people will have been familiar with some of the tales of Goliath, the Anakim, and others from Jewish mythology.  So maybe some of those tales entered into their thinking.

Here is how they will be used in my various D&D/OSR/FRPG games.

The giants Fafner and Fasolt seize Freyja in Arthur Rackham's illustration of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Erde Hüne

These creatures are also known as Earth Giants.  They are the forebearers of the Hill, Mountain, and Stone giants as well as ogres.  They stand 12 ft tall and are said to have bones made of stone.

These creatures are Chaotic Evil and have the most dealings with humans. While some certainly are stupid brutes, others are sufficiently intelligent and sophisticated enough to lead human armies. They have a taste for human flesh; both in the culinary and carnal appetites. There are some very tall, very evil humans that can trace their ancestry to one of these creatures.  We get the word "Hun" from "Hüne."

Note: These take the role of the "evil giants in the bibles and other tales" giants like the Anakim.  Though I covered some of this ground with Gog and Magog. I had Gog and Magog as a type of Balor or Baalor in my games.  Maybe I could turn up the demonic influences on them and make Gog and Magog the named Erde Hüne.  Balor are also 12' tall.  The myths about Gog and Magog certainly have them more human-looking. This would also bring them closer to the Ogre idea I originally had.  Worth thinking over to be sure and it would give me the demonic influences I want. 

I think just to be "that guy" I am going to make them 13' tall.

Meer Hüne

These giants are found in the oceans to the far north. They are related to the Frost and Sea giants. They are not the progenitors of these creatures but are the offspring of the Rime Jötunn along with the Frost Giants. Sea Giants are the offspring of the Meer Hüne.  

These creatures avoid humans but are no less evil. They have been known to wreck ships where they keep all the treasure and eat the humans aboard. In my myths, they would also be the forebearers of the Viking raiders that would swoop down and raid the villages of these people. 

Note: On Earth, these giants populate the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Norwegian Sea. In my desire to have my cake and eat it too I would picture these guys looking like the stereotypical Vikings. Including "Hägar the Horrible" horned helmets, though no idea how they make such helms. 

Feuer Hüne

These creatures are made of pure living fire.  They are the generation after the Inferno Jötunn and the "older brothers" to the Fire Giants.

Note: Right now these creatures are not significantly different enough from either the Fire Giants or the Inferno Jötunn to merit another distinct monster entry.  

Äther Hüne

These creatures are massive with some towering as high as 36 feet tall. It is said their bones are made of clouds and their muscles are made of storms.  They are the progenitors of the Cloud, Storm, and Fog giants. 

Note: This is my "Jack and the Beanstalk" Giant (though in truth an evil Cloud Giant covers that readily). 

Though anytime I work on giants this image comes to mind.

giants

This image comes from the Creationist idea that there were giants in biblical times. This speculation all grows out of Genesis 6:4 "There were giants in the earth in those days", meaning the fallen angels or Nephelim or whatever.  I spent a lot of time talking about this on my old Atheism blog, The Freedom of Nonbelief

Here is how I use that image above.  These are closer to AD&D heights than D&D 5e. 

  1. Human
  2. Stone Giant
  3. Troll
  4. Ogre
  5. Hill Giant / Erde Hüne
  6. Fire Giant
  7. Frost Giant
  8. Cloud Giant
  9. Storm Giant

There. That is far more useful. 

How do I work through the Square-Cube Law?  Magic!

Of all these creatures I think I will develop the Erde Hüne (Earth Giants) and the Meer Hüne (Sea Giants) more. Fire and Frost are already covered well in the various jötunn of Norse myths. The progenitors of the Storm and Cloud Giants I think are also handled well by the Greek myths.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

D&D Edition Wars: Why CAN'T I Play a B/X Paladin?

All D&D
It's June and I have mentioned that it is D&D month around here. 

The natural question then is, "Which D&D?" All of them! "Even that one?" Yes. Even that one.

I was going through a bunch of material I need to review and Review (reading for my own benefit vs. a full review) and it got me thinking about a bunch of topics.  Should I play more Castles & Crusades? What should I do with all this Pathfinder stuff? Where did my copies of Dungeoneer's and Wilderness Survival Guides go? (seriously. where are they??).

This got me thinking about the various editions and edition wars.  I want to share the story of my first skirmish in the never-ending edition wars, but first I want to talk about the latest side battle in it and my point of view on this in general.

D&D Edition Wars

I am not sure if this will be a regular feature or not.  Typically I avoid edition wars and find them remarkably pedantic to be of any actual use. Don't like a particular edition? Fine. Don't play it.   BUT every so often something bubbles up that takes my notice and I want to comment on it.  The latest one comes to us courtesy of Stranger Things.

If you have not seen the new Season 4 of Stranger Things, please do. It is back to form and good drama.  Sure there are a LOT of characters now and no one is getting the spotlight for very long, but the last episode of Part 1 did a great job of tying together many of the seasonal arcs to set us up for the epic finale.  

They also get to play some D&D.  There is a bit where they deal with the Satanic Panic of the 80s.  I would talk about that now, but I have done that already and most recently back in April. So no real need for me to do that. But in the same milieu of edition wars we are getting some nagging from older gamers like myself complaining that Erica Sinclair's character should have been a Thief and not a Rogue. Well. That is technically correct yes. It was supposed to 1986 and the Rogue does not come into play until 1989. Lots of people are claiming this is a mistake.  Here is my point of view on that.

The Duffer Brothers did not make a mistake. 

Look in the very next scene of their game Dustin (played by the wonderful Gaten Matarazzo; seriously this kid is going to be a hell of an actor someday) drops lines about Vecna (the focus of their game and the season) having been destroyed by Kas. They already mentioned the lack of an eye and hand.  This is not deep lore to us, but to the causal viewer, it is.  And that's the thing. This show has to appeal to all viewers. Those that know D&D but mostly the vast majority that do not.  Here is her line.

"My name is Lady Applejack, and I'm a chaotic good, half-elf rogue, Level 14. And I will sneak behind any monster you throw my way, and stab them in the back with my poison-soaked kukri."

Remember the character is Chaotic Good (which we all understand) and supposed to be a heroic character.  IF she had said "Thief" it would not have the same level of understanding to the causal viewer as "Rogue" does.  Han Solo was a rogue. Robin Hood was a rogue. The normies get what a rogue is. A thief is someone who steals. Yes, yes, it has a different connotation in D&D but that is not the majority of the audience.  I posit that the Duffers knew exactly what they were doing. 

It reminds me of when my main character at the time was a Paladin.  I'd explain to others, who I was trying to get into the game, that my character was a Lawful Good Paladin. Which would ALWAYS be followed by "what's a Paladin?"  Eventually, I gave up and just started saying "Knight."  This is the same thing.  Also it is a nice segue into my next section.

Why CAN'T I Play a B/X Paladin?

The 80s were an amazing time for a lot of reasons. Even in my small home town there were multiple independent D&D groups and clubs happening all the time.  I got invited to a game by a friend one evening. This had to have been either very late in Jr. High I am guessing summer of 82 or 83.  In any case, I was going with my regular DM, he got to play for a change, and a bunch of people I never met. The DM called me ahead of time and asked if I would be willing to play a Lawful Good Paladin. I said sure! I was already playing a Lawful Cleric in my other game so this seemed like a good fit (and it was, but more on this).  Now is the time to be pedantic.  See I was playing a "Lawful Cleric" as in B/X D&D. My regular DM played AD&D and we ran our games as an unholy mix of the two. Not uncommon from what I know now and we had a lot of fun. My first experience with D&D was Holmes Basic and the AD&D Monster Manual.  My new DM just told me to bring my Expert book.

D&D Expert vs AD&D

Well...that was a mistake. I brought my Expert D&D book to an Advanced D&D game and you would have thought I had brought a D&D Coloring book instead with the reactions I got.  Thankfully my DM was still cool about it, even if the other players held their noses in disgust.  

Nowadays of course people talk about their B/X days with pride and fond memories. Especially me.  But that was a contributing factor to me not picking up the BECMI sets when they came out soon after.  I was all in on AD&D from that point on.  No "kiddie" D&D for me! 

That was the first salvo in what I would later come to know as "The Edition Wars." There were many skirmishes between the Basic and Advanced folks back then. Nothing major, I can recall though.  The next battle was fought over the fields of "Unearthed Arcana" and then the "Proficiency Battles" connected with Dungeoneer's and Wilderness Survival Guides (seriously, where the hell are mine??) 

I still have my Paladin from that game. He went on to great glory in the Bloodstone series. I would also roll up my own paladin later, he was the son of my B/X Cleric. 

Now thanks to the OSR scene I have a lot of options to play a B/X Paladin.

B/X Paladin

If Johan II was my Advanced D&D Paladin and son of D&D Cleric Johan I. Then maybe I need to make a Kara Foke II as an OSE Paladin, son of Kara Foke that AD&D Paladin I played so long ago. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

It's June!

The last couple of months has been really busy here at the ole' Other Side. I went from the "April A to Z"  right into SciFi month.  I think June is a great time to get back to the bread and butter of this blog; D&D.  Plus watching Season 4 of Stranger Things has really put me back into the mood.

June was always a great D&D month for me.  While in school it meant summer break. After I got married and had a house it was the month when the planting season was mostly over.  My wife has always had a huge garden (+2,000 ft2, that's a lot for the burbs) so in April and May, every weekend is spent outside working.

I have to admit that of late I have been in a sort of creative lull.  Oh I am still picking at the various Basic Bestiaries and I am collecting art for them. My goal/plan/desire is NOT to do a Kickstarter for it. So I am collecting and buying art as I can.  I have not done much if anything on the High Witchcraft book. I have been sorting through the 800+ spells I have written over the years and trying to figure out which ones need to be used.  Both of these projects will be generic OSR, so not tied to any one rule system. I will use my own Compatibility Logos on them.  But the ideas have not been flowing really at all.  Oh I have picked some Fey Lords and a few different types of Angels (both are also discussed in the High Witchcraft book) but that is about it really.   You may have noticed that outside of NIGHT SHIFT I have not produced anything during Covid-Times. You also may have noticed the uptick in reviews here vs. new content.

My friend and day-job co-worker Richard Ruane pointed me in the direction of something going on on Itch.io.  Itch.io is an RPG PDF storefront similar to DriveThruRPG but catering more to the Indie crowd.  All I know about it is the prices of the PDFs are usually twice to three times what I expect to pay on DriveThru, but whatever.  The thing he pointed out to me was the OSR June Jam

OSR June Jam
https://itch.io/jam/osr-june-jam

I have never participated in a Design Jam for RPGs before. I have done plenty at my day job. So I thought I should give it a go.  

This sounds like a fun idea really, and I do have two completely brand new ideas I could do with this. I will talk about them later since I am looking into some details now. But a hint for one is "Halfling Folk Horror."

It is hosted on Itch.io but I have to look at my contract with DriveThruRPG since I think I signed exclusivity. I don't know yet.  Submissions are due at the end of the month so that gives me 28.5 days to get it all in.

I will also use my Compatibility Logos above for these, but my target system is likely to be Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy and/or Advanced Labyrinth Lord.   Though there are some logos on the site they recommend.

Maybe this is something I need to shake off the cobwebs in my brain.

In the meantime check out all the empty space on my Itich.io profile: https://timsbrannan.itch.io/

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mail Call: Chris Perkins' "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition"

Been a busy time at work, so just a fast one today.

Some time ago I grabbed something called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition" from the web.  It has been sitting in my "to be sorted" folder for ages.  I was in the process of digging up some other material for a project when I happened upon them.   The layout was nice and clean and the covers were nearly print-ready.  So I spent some time a few nights ago tweaking it and slapped the whole thing on Lulu.

Here is what I got.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. Covers

Frankly, I am pretty happy with it. 

I went a re-looked up what this game was/is and it turns out it was done by Chris Perkins.  The game is a very nice blend of AD&D 1st and 2nd Editions with mechanics from D&D 3rd Edition and inspiration from Castles & Crusades.  The overall effect is not unlike D&D 5th Edition, but more of a 1st Edition feel.

The art is all copied from published classic D&D sources, so there is no way this thing is legal to sell. I am sure if cleaned up it could be released under the OGL, but it is so close to Castles & Crusades and D&D 5th edition there is no need to do so save as an entertaining experiment.

Perkins used to have a website for it, http://www.adnd3egame.com/cnc.htm but it is long since gone. There are details about it at RPG Geek and Boardgame GeekI have no idea where it is hosted anymore.  I found a new site for it here: https://scruffygrognard.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/add-3rd-edition/Note: Perkins is now working on a BX3e.

It is a completely playable game and has a lot of nice features.  It reads like a D&D "Greatest hits" album.  It is just missing some "kits" or "subclasses" to make it more like 5e.  

The question of course is why play this when I have all the other versions of *D&D?  Well, the simple answer is that it looks like fun.  IT might be neat to play this "what if" version.  It is also interesting to see which design choices Perkins went with. Like why 20th century D&D style saving throws and not say 3rd/4th Edition ones or 5th Edition/Castles & Crusades ones?  How does the skill system work (feels like a mix of AD&D 1st ed and D&D 3rd ed)?  There are Bard and Monk classes, how do they compare to their 1st and 3rd ed counterparts?  Plus there is a section on Psionics. So there is a lot to explore here.

Besides the books are damn attractive.  The layout like I said is clean and simple, but it appeals to me.

Now that I found his site again I am curious to see if there will be more updates on it. His BX3e project also looks very interesting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Review: Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore
Last week I reviewed that new monster book from BRW Games, Book of Lost Beasts.  Today I want to review the companion book from the same Kickstarter, Book of Lost Lore.  I went into this one less excited than I did with the Book of Lost Beasts, but not due to anything on the part of this book.  I am always more enthusiastic about monster books. I just have to make sure that I am not making unfair comparisons.  I will be making a lot of comparisons with this book and others, however.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

For this review, I am considering the Hardcover I received as a Kickstarter backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.  BRW does their print fulfillment via DriveThru, so I conveniently have my PDFs where I expect them and I know what sort of product I am getting in terms of Print on Demand.

The book itself is 134 pages, full-color cover, and has black and white interior art.  The layout and art are a tribute to the "2nd covers" of the AD&D 1st Edition line. So it looks nice with your original books and other OSR books designed the same way. 

Like the Book of Lost Beasts, this book carries the Adventures Dark & Deep banner, but it is not made for that game.  It is material from that game ported "Backwards" to the AD&D 1st Edition rules. So again like Book of Beasts, some of this material has been seen before, though not all in 1st Edition format/rules.  

Lost Beasts and Lost Lore

Much of the material does come from Bloch's "What If" game, Adventures Dark & Deep, and in particular, the Players Manual which itself was derived from BRW Games' very first product A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (now discontinued).  This is all acknowledged in the Preface of the book.  The selling point of this book is that it is all revised and edited for the "First Edition of the world's most popular RPG."  Not to mention the layout now favors the 1st ed feel rather than the Adventures Dark & Deep feel.

Though as we move on you will see that the biggest comparison that needs to be made is this book to the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.  

On to the book proper now.

This book is split between a Players' Section (close to 98 pages) and GMs' section (36 or so pages).

Players' Section

Dwarf blacksmith
This section covers new races, classes, and spells among other topics that I will discuss. 

Up first, the new races.  Here we are given three "new" races for player characters. These are the Centaur, the Forrest Gnome, and the Half-Drow, of which we get Human-Drow and Elf-Drow.  Those unfamiliar with AD&D 1st ed might be surprised to see level limits and ability limits for the races.  Some are pretty obvious, centaurs tend to be stronger but can't climb walls as a thief. Others are culture-based, drow women can advance more in most classes than their male counterparts due to their matriarchal society, but not as much as wizards since that class is not valued.  While back in the day we really ignored all these rules in AD&D (and they do not exist in 21st Century D&D) they are consistent with the rules and anyone who plays AD&D 1st ed exclusively will take to these easy.

The races seem balanced enough.  The centaur is a nice addition and one that really could go into AD&D well enough.  I personally have never had a desire to play one, but they do seem to work.  The forest gnome is also a good choice and a good option for people more familiar with 21st century D&D gnomes.  The coverage of the half-drow is very interesting and the stand-out of the three.  Given some other things I have crossed my awareness this past week or so I am wanting to try out a half-drow now.  I will need to come back to this one later on. 

Classes are likely the top feature of this book.  They are also the ones that we have seen before.  There are Bards, Jesters, Skalds, Blackguards, Mystics, Savants, and Mountebanks.  Let me repeat. While we have seen these before in other BRW products they are presented here as 1st Edition characters classes and as subclasses of existing 1st Ed classes. Except the Bard, the Bard is it's own class with the Jester and Skald as sub-classes of the Bard.  The Blackguard (or Anti-Paladin) is a subclass of the Cavalier to give you an idea where this book would "fit" into the AD&D 1st Ed lineup. 

It should be noted is a usable single Bard class.  No more advancing as a thief, fighter, and then druid to get to the bard, this is a straight out bard class.  The bard also has some nice powers too. The mystic class seems closer to the BECMI/RC version than it does to the monk.  It was also the focus of one of my very first "Class Struggles" features.   I am a little surprised we didn't see versions of BRW Games'  Necromancer, Witch, or Demonolater classes. Likey to keep these with the Adventures Dark & Deep game. 

From Classes, we move on to Secondary Skills. AD&D 1st Ed has never really been about skills outside of what your character class can do.  While back then I saw this as a problem, I am less inclined to think so now.  Still, a good selection of secondary skills are listed here and how they can be used. 

The next 35 or so pages are dedicated to new spells. Mostly these support the new magic-using classes, though some spells are cross-listed for other classes. 

The last part of the player's section is given over to combat and new weapons and armor.  The arms and armor described here do show an appreciated level of research.  One that would have made Gary and his 6 pages of pole-arms very happy.

Game Masters' Section

This section is not as large but still has gems; figurative and literal. 

making magic items
Up first are some guidelines for social encounters including reactions.  There are some alternate treasure rules that uses the same Treasure Type classification but breaks it down into different categories.  Both the original system and this system can be used interchangeably, even within the same game, with the Game Master deciding what works better at the time. 

There are some new magic items, with updated tables to include them. 

Finally some discussion on the game environment including ability checks. 

Honestly, the only thing it is missing to be "Unearthed Arcana II" is an appendix on the gods of the Centaurs.

Unearthed Arcana and Lost Lore

Some art has appeared before in other BRW books but all of it captures the Old-School gaming feel.

So. Who is this book for?

The obvious answer is for anyone that plays First Edition AD&D.  It should work fine with OSRIC, since that cleaves so close to AD&D, but not sure if players of Advanced Labyrinth Lord or Old School Essentials Advanced will get the same benefits. For example, both of those other games have a Bard class that works about the same.  That is not to say they would not get benefits from this book, it's just the base design principles are not 100% the same.

If you are a player of Adventures Dark & Deep then there is likely nothing new here for you.  But if you have those books and still play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first ed. then there is enough here for you even if you can convert easily between the two games. 

If you play AD&D 1st ed then this is a great book and it will sit nicely on your shelf or on your table next to your other AD&D books. 

One minor point, the book was not released under the OGL.  Doesn't matter for play or use only if you wanted to reuse a class or spell elsewhere.  Though given the use I have seen of the OGL over the last 20+ years this is also likely not an issue. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Thoughts on "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight"

The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
The newest D&D 5e book is now out and so far it is a lot of fun.  I have not had the chance to read through it enough for a full review, but I do have some thoughts on it. 

It's An Adventure, Not A Source Book

Unlike Van Richten's Guide, or any of the other "name" books, this book is designed to be an adventure first and a source guide second.  The guide part comes into play for the setting, the Feywild D&D's version of the lands of Faerie, but that is the situation the adventure finds itself in.  The key piece here is the Carnival.

There are some "crunchy" bits here. But most of them deal with the adventure and its surroundings themselves.

There is a Non-Combat Solution to the Adventure

I have seen some complaints about this online and the question I have is "why are you complaining?"  I applaud the designers for trying something new.  I have often longed for a good adventure that you can get through without combat and get through on skill and cleverness alone.  Yes, D&D is a combat game and yes the monsters in this book still have stats, hitpoints, and alignments.  So you could very well murder hobo your way through it.   OR you can be more intelligent about it and try to get through it without combat.  I understand though that some gamers are not up to that challenge and might never get there.

The NPCs

I wanted this most of all for the NPCs.  I now have 5e stats for my beloved Skylla along with Kelek, Warduke, and more. I actually want to get into the NPCs in a future post. But I want to start with I am remarkably pleased with how the 5e versions of some classic villains (and let's be honest, the bad guys were always more interesting) turned out.

Bad guys

And then there are the new NPCs and among them is one of my favorites.  Thaco the kid-hating clown.  I began my D&D playing LONG before "THAC0" was a term used except informally.  And I have to say this about Thaco.

Thaco
I think he is fucking hilarious!

Are they poking fun at a certain set of Grognards, many of which are actually younger than I am? Very likely.  But look, if you can't stand a little poke like this then maybe you stay off of the Internet for a while.  I have seen some insane and stupid shit like "oh WotC is making fun of us" and "I won't buy their books."  Well, they might be, get over it, and their marketing data shows that only 5% or so of their sales are to people age 45 or over.  WotC is approaching $1B in sales now.  Not Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast.   

I am going to tell you this now.  WotC does not NEED the old-school gamers anymore. They need to cater to the Grogs and the sooner they drop that bowing in fealty to a group that doesn't even buy their product the sooner they can move on to serving the people that buy their product. 

Our season in the sun is over and that is ok.  

Plays Well With Others

There are some obvious callbacks to older D&D here and that is always fun.  It also makes adding more material a little easier with that hook.

Want to know more about the League of Malevolence or Valor's Call? Simple grab a copy of Quest for the Heartstone and use it as an introduction.  Need an inn to stay at?  Why not The Shady Dragon Inn? I reviewed it a while back and it works fine with 5e, you just need to redo the characters. Well, guess what TWBTW has? Yup.  Again, some more about that in a bit.

Given that this place in the Feywild you could easily add, and I say get a great benefit from, the Tome of Beasts series from Kobold Press. Tome of Beasts and Tome of Beasts II both have a large number of Faerie Lords that would work very well here as well as a fair number of fey creatures.

Tomes of Beasts

If you are like me you also will look at this product and think, yeah it is great and all, but it needs more horror. Say along the lines of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" or "Carnival of Souls" or even "Freaks"

As it turns out the answers are not that far away over in the Demi-plane of Dread.  The AD&D 2nd Ed Ravenloft product Carnival has what you need.  There are many parallels between both traveling carnivals and their relationship to their respective planes.  Sadly, Carnival is not set up as a Print on Demand yet and print copies are super rare.  But the PDF is on sale and the "new" scan is 1000x better than the scan WotC used to give out for free on their website back in the  2000s.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight has a lot going for it and is something I would love to use. I might even convert it over to an old-school ruleset, say like OSE.

Monday, September 27, 2021

D&D 5.5 Announcement

Over the weekend WotC/Hasbro and D&D team had their D&D Celebration.  Lots of things were discussed including the new gift box I talked about yesterday.  

Of course, the big announcement was D&D 5.5 or D&D 5 Revised coming out in 2024.

Personally, I think this is a good idea.

D&D 5e Collection

Right now D&D 5 is 7 years old. The "Basic Rules" PDF and the Starter Set were released in July 2014. In 2024, the proposed release date, D&D 5 will be close to 10 years old.  That is about the same amount of time AD&D 1st and 2nd Ed were around each.  That is counting the unofficial ".5" versions of post Unearthed Arcana (AD&D 1) and the Revised AD&D 2nd ed books.  This puts D&D 5e and 5.5 combined to be the longest-lasting version of D&D.

There are a ton of reasons why 2024 is a good date for this.

D&D Celebration

The Hype

I have been saying EVERYWHERE that WotC will not do anything until the 50th anniversary of D&D in 2024.  They can spend the first two-quarters of 2024 hyping D&D from its roots and evolution.  Expect a huge deep dive into nostalgia.  Then third quarter (or even fourth to get that Christmas dollar) D&D 5.5 will hit the shelves.  The message from WotC will be clear, you have enjoyed D&D for 50 years now and THIS is the ultimate edition.  It's not just good marketing, they would be negligent if they didn't do it.

The Rules

When I heard about this I mentioned it to my son last night when he got home from work.  His response was, "oh cool!"  I have seen similar responses from others in the D&D 5 community.  With the publication of Tasha's and other books, there have been enough rule additions and alternates to make a Revised Core Rule Set a welcome publication. 

Right now we are being told these are just going to be rule clarifications and reorganizations.  Everything will be 100% backward compatible.  This is smart given the number of people that play D&D 5 now.  It also makes sense given how poorly Pathfinder 2 was received by the fans of Pathfinder 1.  

Plus D&D 5 was designed to be more modular, so adding in rules should be easy.  Maybe not as modular as D&D 4e was nor as modular as D&D 5 was originally advertised as, but still better than D&D 3 and anything that came before it.

Of there are critics.  I note that most of the complaining is coming from people that have self-admitted that they actually don't play D&D 5.  So I guess their opinions really don't matter.

Expectations

What am I expecting with these new rules?

Well, "race" will be gone and we will get something closer to the Ancestry and Culture mods other games have been doing.  Mechanically speaking it will largely be the same at the end.  Instead of choosing a race and getting a baked-in mod and language; you will choose ancestry, culture and there will be guidelines for mods, languages, and other features.   So what if you were a human raised by elves? Or an orc raised by dwarves?  These things can now happen.  Well, in truth you could always do these you just needed a DM that would work out the details with you and not be dogmatic. 

There will still be a Basic Rules style game with the four basic classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) and the four basic "races" (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) they will just be worked up in terms of the new ancestry rules.  But mechanically a 5.0 elf will work as a 5.5 elf. 

Rangers will get tweaked. Again. Cause no one is ever happy with them.  This goes all the way back to the beginning really.

Warlock might get some changes, as will the monks.  We MIGHT get a Core Rule psionic class, but the chances are very low.

I am expecting some new Session 0 verbiage.

Monsters will have a "typical" alignment with sentient races not having one required.  The new Wild Beyond the Witchlight monsters all have alignments listed.  The idea will be that Ancestry plays a role in alignment, but individuals have a choice. I DO expect to see a group of good or at least neutrally aligned Drow.

There are spellcasting changes coming to monsters that we will get a preview of in 2023 with the Multiverse of Monsters book.

I am also expecting more on non-combat play like we have in the Wild Beyond the Witchlight.

I am sure there will be more and many of the changes will be minor, less than the changes between 3.0 and 3.5 for example. OR even the differences between 2nd Ed and Revised 2nd Ed.

Looking forward to seeing what happens.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: D&D Monsters and More

I have some great ones for you all today! Hang on, there is a lot here!

Asian Monsters: 90+ magnificent monsters for DnD 5E!

Asian Monsters

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendarygames/asian-monsters-90-magnificent-monsters-for-dnd-5e?ref=theotherside 

This one looks like a lot of fun. And I was just lamenting that people had not taken advantage of an obvious market and to do it the right way.  Legendary Games looks like they are taking the right approach here.  Good job.  This one ends today!

Now heading to the old-school side of things.

Chromatic Dungeons

Chromatic Dungeons

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693797308/chromatic-dungeons?theotherside

I have been following the development of this one for some time now.  Glad to see it hit Kickstarter. Quote from the Kickstarter page:

The driving goal behind Chromatic Dungeons is to act as a clone of the early TSR era games, incorporating elements from each of those editions to allow you to play in a style that emulates the experience of playing tabletop RPGs in the 80s, while also being welcoming to all gamers of every demographic to better represent just how diverse our industry has become since the 80s.

Sounds great to me! They just got started and it really looks like a lot of fun.

and one I must have.

Book of Lost Lore & Book of Lost Beasts

Book of Lost Lore & Book of Lost Beasts

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brwgames/book-of-lost-lore-and-book-of-lost-beasts?ref=theotherside

Greyhawk Gognard runs a tight Kickstarter.  The only times he doesn't hit his target date is when he is early.  These books scratch that old-school itch better than what most companies are coming out with.

And you really can't beat the prices.

AND Finally, and this one is brand new.

HYPERBOREA 3E

Hyperborea 3e

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffreytalanian/hyperborea-3e?ref=theotherside

Honestly, what can I say about this one?  I LOVED my 1st and 2nd editions of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and this one looks crazy!  

I was all set NOT to get this one, my other editions are still perfect in my mind, but it just looks so good.  Jeffrey Talanian also runs a great Kickstarter, so this will be great.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary WotC D&D

Yesterday, April 10, was the 24th Anniversary of Wizards of the Coast purchasing TSR and of course, D&D.

Wizards of the Coast D&D

Wizards of the Coast bought the failing TSR for $25 Million.  Today Wizards of the Coast is worth nearly $1 Billion

This means that Wizards of the Coast has been publishing D&D longer than TSR.

TSR D&D 1974 to 1997, 23 years 
WotC D&D 1997 to 2021 (so far), 24 years.

2024, just 3 more years, D&D will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.   IF I was WotC and looking to a new Edition that would either be when I announce it or release it. 

I am not about to speculate what will be in D&D 6 any more than I am willing to speculate when there will be a D&D 6.  I am sure we will see something more akin to D&D 5 though than the radical departures that 3 was from 2, 4 from 3, and 5 from 4. 

No idea if I will upgrade or not.  I have plenty of books and games to keep me happy till I die, to be honest.  But in any case, happy 24th birthday WotC D&D.