Friday, July 11, 2014

30 Years Later The White Queen's Revenge

Got my copy of Gygax #4 in the mail the other day. Most striking of course is the cover by Den Beauvais.
Den contributed to some of the best covers for Dragon including the series of Chess themed covers that this is the fifth part of.



While exciting and full of great geek-fueled nostalgia, I fear that Gygax Magazine runs the risk of been only compared to early to mid 80s Dragon.

Sure. I enjoyed Dragon then. I still like picking up issues for then and rereading them looking for something I missed the first time.   While Gygax is new and covers new games it hasn't really done anything to pull it away from it's roots.

And maybe that is fine.  I enjoy Gygax Mag for the same reasons I enjoyed Dragon back in the day.
I think though now with the first four quarterly issues out it is a good time for Gygax to find it's own voice. Do something extra to make this their own.

Gygax Magazine #1
Gygax Magazine #2
Gygax Magazine #3
Gygax Magazine #4

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Healers in Old School D&D

I was going through some old materials the other day while working Strange Brew and found my notes on the Healer class.

That got me thinking and I dug up my 1st Ed AD&D characters and found my character Celene (enspired by this bit of Elmore art).  She was a Healer. Not a Cleric. Also she was my first 2nd character. Stuffed into the wrong folder I guess.

The healer I used back then was an odd mix of materials I had written for the witch, a necromancer class that no one has seen and the Sun Priest.
They all related in a weird way.

I tended to use Clerics more as the Occult Researchers of D&D.  If it was an evil monster then they knew about it.

So healers, even pacifist ones, had more to do in my games.

Did any of you use Healers as a seperate class? If so how did it work out for you? Did they have awesome 80s hair?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quandary: Convert or Not

I am reading over these new 5th Edition rules and they are nice.
I mean really nice.

It's really like a "Best of D&D", all the things I liked about the past editions, built on top of Basic D&D and in a pretty package.

But I don't have the time to run more games.  I have to wrap up my 3e game and my kids are playing in a 1st ed game.  Both are what I want using the system I want.

I am considering converting my AD&D game over to 5e.  I think I am going to wait for the Players Handbook.  Others have suggested I just run a new 5e game.  Personally I am trying to get my son to run a game or two.

What are your plans? Is anyone converting a current game over to 5e?

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #1 February 1975

"Issue no. 1; preserve this copy carefully! Who knows, the very piece of paper you know hold between your fingers may become a rarity, its value soaring to 1 3/4 times its present cost!"

So that would put it at 17.5 p now?  Could not find a listing on eBay but I figure it must worth more than that.

This of course is the premier issue of Owl & Weasel, the precursor to White Dwarf.  Published February 1975 this actually makes it older than The Strategic Review (the precursor to The Dragon) by a couple of months.

The newsletter is dedicated to 'progressive games'.  But also mentioned are abstract games, psychological games and even computer games.  An interesting description of what would become our hobby.

In these four pages we have a review of "Killer" and a Monopoly variant "Dipoploly".  There is a discussion between editors Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson on wargamming.
But mostly it is a call for more content.

I missed the 'zine era by a few years.  Sure when I got to college there were still some local publications that were zine format, mostly sci-fi/fantasy ones, but they were rare even then.
While the feel is the same a say a blog post or web zine of today, the attention seems different.   I can put anything I like up with zero cost.  Sometimes it is good, sometimes...well you get you paid for.   Here, at 10p an issue I expect that more care and attention was put into the publication.  After all the editors only had 4 pages to work with and wanted to be sure their best material went in.

I am looking forward to see how this Zine and the Hobby develop over the next 25 issues.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Just Play the Damn Game

I had this long-ish rant about the latest tempest in a tea pot internet battle about various parts of the new D&D5 game.

I decided to delete the whole thing instead. Why? Internet "battles" are stupid. Sure I have done my fair share. Hell there have been times I have been on the front line screaming for (virtual) blood.

But man, they get old fast.

The biggest reason of all. 90% of the people who buy this game don't care about this, don't know the people involved, and it has 0% chance of changing their buying decisions.

For once I am going to listen to the advice that had been tossed back a me for so long. I am ignoring it.

So give me my dice and let me pretend to be an elf in peace.  Oh. And get off my lawn.

Monday, July 7, 2014

D&D 5 Starter and Basic Sets

Well unless you have been living in a cave for the last few days, or on a mini-vacation, the newest game to bear the name "Dungeons & Dragons" hit the stores and the net.

I picked up my Starter Set on Thursday and downloaded the Basic set (book?) the same day.

For starters I am SOOOO glad that "Next" has been dropped.  This is just "D&D".  I am glad about that since it puts it firmly back in the camp of D&D games.  This is not something different or "next" but the game we have been playing all this time.

I have not read much of it to be honest, but what I have read I like.
So far this feels like a "best of" D&D.  Taking the things that worked well from previous editions and bringing them together with some new ideas.

The saving throws are back and make more sense now. Honestly we have seen this in games like Spellcraft & Swordplay and Castles & Crusades.  4e-like conditions are back. I have not seen "bloodied" or anything similar yet, but I am sure something like it is there.

I like the Advantage and Disadvantage mechanic.  In fact it really is a nice addition to any single die game (such as Unisystem's d10). I will have to give it a try in my AD&D 1 game I have going now.

The feel of the game is very much old-school and it has all the trappings of old-school as well.

Box, Books, Dice (or chits) and Adventure.

But yet it also feels unfinished.  I am sure that is intentional; we still need the PHB and DMG to properly run this game.  But in truth I have enough background in all the other games to mentally fill in the gaps.  Plus I can see where things can or might be slotted in.  This is the part where we have 3e like feats, or this is the part where we have 4e style combat or powers.

Personally I am excited for this game in how it will help me run my current games.
It is very much like a Rosetta Stone for translating between editions.  Sure, this is something I did on the fly anyway, but something was always lost to accommodate the system being translated to.  Save or Die sorts of modules are more difficult with the mechanics in 4e.  4e monsters tend to be much more powerful than their 1st ed or 3e counterparts and so on.    This feels like a nice middle ground.

The idea that comes to mind right away is to play the 4e HPE modules using these rules and supplementing the 1st Ed H-series (Bloodstone) for the massive "let's go kill Orcus" game I wanted to do under 4e.   Though I admit I am selfish and don't want to leave 1st ed right now.

But I do rather like the 3e style multiclassing that 5e offers.

The game is not all perfect mind you.  I am not thrilled with the new XP to next level tables.  Frankly 300 xp to level 2 is a bit too little.  I might take a page from Holmes/Moldvay and give XP out for gold and increase the amounts to something closer to 3e.  I think I might have to figure out if there is really a difference between the editions.  I have read somewhere that one of the design goals was to be able to level up faster.  That might be true.

The other thought I had was that this game will displace or replace OSR games or Pathfinder.
I can see this selling better than 4e as word of mouth gets passed around and I can see it doing better than Pathfinder.  But Pathfinder fans are loyal to their brand. Plus D&D 5 is pretty much the opposite of "one true wayism" so people might take it's "play how you like" approach at face value and keep playing what they have been.

I haven't even decided if I am going to switch or not to be honest.
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