Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Were-Watch 4: Better Late Than Never!

November 15, 2015

Standard Apology.

With Bestiary 5 coming- Indeed, some of those who DIDN’T order it from Amazon apparently already have their copies!- I figure I might as well knock this one out. Partially because there’s a few other things I want to look at. I also want to look at the rules again because I may have a silly little Christmas gift for you all.

Without further ado, and through my usual lens of madness regarding which of these poor things might make good Were-Creatures, here’s a look at the Animals from Pathfinder Bestiary 4!

Dinosaurs: No animals until D? Jeez. Dimorphodon is a flying Dinosaur that, being Medium, would be pretty damned easy to use. Diplodocus is a classic, though he’s Gargantuan. That’s what Giants (and the Giant Creature template) are for!). Styracosaurus is… a lot like a Triceratops so if you like those, you’ll like this, and OF COURSE, though it somehow took us four Bestiaries, the Velociraptor. Who is Small, fast, and can leap. Clever girl.

You know… The more I think about “Attack On Fucking Titan,” and the concept of were-Dinosaurs and Megafauna in general, the more I want to write some kind of adventure involving were-creatures made from prehistoric animals…

Herd Animal, Giraffe and Stag: The Stag has some very important mythological history, popping up throughout the world at many places in time. Lacking a bite, I nevertheless think they would be pretty neat.

On the other hand: Were-Giraffe.I just want you to think about that. Were. Giraffe.

Oh, don’t worry. My Christmas gift is going to be worse.

Seahorse, Giant and Killer: Why wouldn’t I just use Wereharks?

Tortoise, , Giant and Immense: Behold, for the last time, the mighty were-turtle. The Giant one is Medium, whereas the Immense is Colossal. In any case, these guys, like other were-turtles, would be a pretty fun shift from normal were beasts. Which is what this is about.

Walrus, Emperor Walrus: … Rounding out the pack are these guys. Well, I suppose in very cold regions, they would make sense. They could eat were-Gars.

Weasel, Dire and Giant: Why is the Giant larger than the Dire? Again, if you wanted to go with something different, this is the way to do it. Supposedly, Dire Weasels can acquire a taste for humanoid flesh. Huh. I need to look into this…

And there you have it. Some possible winners and no Megafauna. That makes me oddly sad.

There’s two other things I want to look at, in addition to Bestiary 5, so stay tuned. Hopefully, it won’t take me eight months this time…

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The Bloodstone Disaster, Part 1: Return to the Ashes

February 27, 2015

Okay, so.

Let us return to the summer of 2013. It was a warm and mild summer, as I recall, but fires can start even in these conditions.

My Meetup feed had informed me that one such fire was brewing.

You  may recall that Yoni is the only person I ever did my Player Profiles on, some five years ago now. My review of him back then was sardonic but ultimately positive.

Believe me, that’s only because I was trying to ignore an otherwise inescapable fact: That Yoni was That Guy, and I was trying to hold on to an era where we were just having fun, where we were all friends, and the adventure would never end.

I think many of us have made that error…

I don’t want to go into too much  detail, as it would involve revealing personal information, and I’m not sure how much of that I want to divulge. I hope what I write next will reveal enough, honestly.

About a year or so after I wrote the Player Profile for him, Yoni… Well let’s just say he did something that pissed me off. I reacted disproportionately, and declared him persona non grata from the group- I need not have really bothered, since he was out of the state and could only bother us through text, making my actions political in nature.

It was a mistake. Yes, I should have acted, but not in the way that I did… So I told myself at the time, anyway.

That was probably why, when Yoni sent out a blast on numerous D&D-related Meetup groups, that a new 4th Edition D&D group was starting at Clarkson’s Corner- Ironically, the exact physical location where all this began, in 2008, back when that space was called The Phoenix of Westchester- That I felt compelled to attend.

You can imagine Yoni’s shock when he saw me in the room, waiting for him, especially considering how our previous communications had gone.

“I wasn’t expecting you here…” He said with a stammer, the mark of a man who’d opened a box without checking its contents first, and now wondering if there were some way to close it again.

“You weren’t?” My voice was flat, trying to reflect the usual vague disinterest that I have when entering unknown territory, as if I’ve seen it all, and it just bores me now, “If that’s the case, why did you invite me?”

“I didn’t invite you. I alerted the internet.”

It turns out that Yoni had, in fact, invited damn near everyone from at least two groups on Meetup. I say “at least two” because I got two invitations, one for each group. There may have been others.

Already I was flashing back to 2008, to that faithful day when Yoni gathered us all together, and with a monarch’s voice, cried “We need a Dungeon Master; I nominate ‘not me.'” And I had to take the fucking job.

While I don’t regret that one bit, as I made friends due to it, and had many adventures I will hopefully someday share… Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown.

However, I need not have worried about that. It seems that Yoni had a DM this time.

Himself.

And he even had an adventure he sought to run: Modules H1 through H4, known to veterans of the game as “The Bloodstone Series.” He was planning to run these under 4th Edition D&D.

No, I need not have worried about what happened in 2008, for it was now 2013: Five years had passed, and much had changed.

No, it turns out, I should have been worried for a plethora of other reasons, for you know what they say:

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Non-Standard Apology

January 1, 2012

If to no one else but myself.

Yes, it’s been almost a year since I updated this blog.  To the point where I forgot that WordPress treats carriage returns as double spaces. But that’s besides the point; I mean to say, I would have liked to have updated, but there were a number of factors.

Or excuses. Take your pick.

First was a job change. I got fired mid-late 2010 and found a new job November of that same year.Which started out temp, but turned into a full-time job… With a hell of a daily commute. Nice to be working, though, but it kinda put me into a waking coma for six months.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, it just hasn’t been an eventful year for gaming… If you’re a Dungeons & Dragons fan, anyway. Oh I know Pathfinder’s been making products left and right, and more power to them, I say, but as for D&D? Most eventful thing happened to 4e is Wizards gutting its 2011 release schedule. So there was nothing to buy, nothing to cover, and, really, rather little to interest me. As such, the first part of 2011 didn’t even see D&D, my group played other games. Then one of my players left. We eventually wrangled up a new one, and I’ve been running a D&D game weekly since then, but I can’t always say I’m happy with it; I keep it running to keep it running. My players are enjoying so I suppose that’s the best part.

Third, I know there’s a rich universe of independent games out there, but damned if I have time and money for them all. This group is, by and large, a creature of habit, and so we keep playing D&D because it’s what we know. Oh I OWN Pathfinder, make no mistake, and I have Hero, too, but neither of these have we really dug into. Looking forward to Golden Sky Stories, but if that winds up being anything like Maid RPG, I’ll probably never freaking run it…

In short, if anyone was enjoying my blog when I was updating it, my sincerest apologies go out to you. I don’t know at this point if I’m going to keep updating this or not. I honestly don’t know what to write, and I suppose that was the biggest problem in 2011. Putting this to paper gave me a few ideas, though, so we’ll see if anything comes of it.

I hope you all have a happy new year of gaming. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

And now for something totally the same.

The following was actually auto-generated by WordPress, but gave me the option of posting it to my own blog if I felt like sharing. And I do. See, this was… Well, it was an expiriment. I think it worked, really. Sure it was mostly reviews, but I feel a good review can be entertaining. I’m glad many of you out there in Internet Land seem to agree. I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished this year, delays and other stuff exempted for a moment, and part of what makes it worth it is knowing people read and enjoy my blog. I would like to take a moment to thank Erik Mona, Paizo Publishing, Goodman Games, Neuroglyph Games, everyone else who linked my blog, everyone who read my blog, and everyone who came here searching for “I met you on a Thursday.” I have no idea why, but it’s been in my “top search queries” list since I posted it in March. I suppose I owe you for that, haha.

Oh and I’d like to issue a hearty “No Thanks” to the spambots, who probably accounted for part of my hits this year. Though your incoherent posts now and then made you amusing, you did little more than waste my time…

Anyway, here’s the results!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 50 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 98 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 141mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 18th with 218 views. The most popular post that day was Product Review: Green Races.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, theweem.com, underthepale.livejournal.com, neuroglyphgames.com, and spub.storeblogs.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for i met you on a thursday, long exile gaming, critter cache lovecraftian bestiary, dungeon magazine annual, and dungeon magazine annual review.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Product Review: Green Races December 2010
4 comments

2

Product Review – Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Miniatures: Lords of Madness (DDM4) October 2010

3

Product Review – Dungeon Magazine Annual 1 May 2010

4

I met you on a Thursday… March 2010

5

Product Review – Critter Cache 6: Lovecraftian Bestiary March 2010

A Glance At: Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era

December 16, 2010

Hahaha, oh wow.

This is the product people have threatened to make. This is the kind of thing gamers joke about with their friends (“Jesus saves; Takes half damage.”) It is not the kind of thing you expect to read.

… Nor is it the kind of thing you expect to be any good. But it is.

Purchased cheap due to the Paizo Black Friday sale, Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era is a d20 Mythic Vistas product from Green Ronin… And it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: Dungeons & Dragons. In the mythic age of the Bible.

This is a fairly complete and (to my eye, anyway) well-researched book that provides much of what you need in order to run a game in the Biblical era. Primarily, the age of the Old Testament. You know, back when God was a murdering asshole who commanded his people to slaughter those who didn’t believe in Him, and delivered plagues to his people if they so much as looked at him cross-eyed.

Yeah, I have a few problems with a setting in this age, and thus I have a problem with the base assumptions Green Ronin hard-coded into this thing: You’re more or less expected to be playing Israelites, and thus expected to obey the word of The Lord, regardless of what atrocities He commands, but it’s okay, because you’re just following your god!

… Ahem.

On the other hand, this is the bad news. The rest of the book is good news.

As a D&D 3e product, it contains a number of new base classes and Prestige Classes, based on region. Naturally, the Israelites get the most, with two new base classes (Levite Priest and Psalmist, both more Biblical takes on the Cleric and Bard), and several new Prestige Classes as well, including the Prophet and the Judge. The other regions only get one new class each: The Egyptians  have the Khery-Heb (a Wizard who serves the Egyptian gods and thus can learn some Cleric spells as well), the Babylonians have the Magus of the Starry Host (a mage who uses astrology to work his magic), and the Canaanites have… The Qedeshot, a sort of Bard who is, well… She’s a cultic prostitute. Not much more I can say about that.

There’s also the Spy ( a variant Rogue), and some other Prestige Classes that can be taken by anyone. Well, the Idol-Maker can’t be taken by Israelites, but still.

The good news here is, all these classes are flavorful and interesting. I don’t know how strong they are mechanically, but I would want to play as many of them.

Then we have the smattering of new spells, magical items, and monsters, all of which capture the flavor of the setting and are useful in some manner.

Also, there are highly detailed sections on both, community maintenance and mass combat (as in, between armies). These bring a highly simulationist aspect to the game, one I’m sure is welcome by many. I, however, eschew simulationism, but that is just me.

The place where I feel this book fails, somewhat, is in it being a historical setting. I never liked those much, as, well, you’re bound by history. Which has already happened. Though, in its defense, the book does say that if history is getting in the way of your story, change it! And I definitely appreciate that.

Hell, if I were to run this, I’d go one step further, and make it akin to 2010’s Clash of the Titans: Much like how that took place in Ancient Greece, but it really wasn’t Ancient Greece, this would take place in the Biblical region, but it would have some major differences. Primary among them being, there would be a blending of eras. Also, The Lord wouldn’t be as much of an asshole, and there would be a little more room for parties consisting of people from varying nations. Mostly, I just like the classes too much for them not to be used.

Overall, this book isn’t useful, per se, but it is an amusing curiosity, and it’s much better than I was expecting. Part of me is tempted to run this, mostly to piss off Fundies.

“Oh, RPGs are Satanic? Then why am I serving the God of Israel and smiting heathens and devils?”

Oh and I’m probably still gonna review Green Races, but there’s something else that might get reviewed first…

A Glance At: Damnation Decade

December 12, 2010

Man, I hate the holidays. So much hustle and bustle, and for what? Seriously, what? Well, I also don’t like Black Friday, but Paizo was running a sale. Tons of things were marked way the hell down. And I got a lot of stuff as a result.

It’s a pity most of it’s rubbish. (Don’t worry, Eric: Misfit Monsters Redeemed is not one of the books I consider rubbish.)

Anyway, one of the books I picked up was Damnation Decade, a d20 Modern setting from Green Ronin. Yes, you’ve heard that name before. I praise them a lot, based on the strength of their OGL offerings, mostly in the D&D field.

But this thing is more of an OTL offering…

First off, allow me to talk about something I haven’t before: Parody. I’m not a big fan of parody, because, very often, the approach people take is to take a figure, place or event and paint it a gaudy color. I would call this “lazy,” but in the case of Damnation Decade, they paint everyone and everything in the 1970s a different color, mostly varying shades of hideous day-glo hues, but also a lot of black. I would be remiss to call this “lazy,” as it isn’t. It demonstrates a lot of effort.

It just doesn’t demonstrate enough effort. Also, it doesn’t work.

Damnation Decade takes place in an alternate history version of the 1970s, specifically, 1976. Actually, to be even more specific, it takes place in a Crapsack World version of 1976: The icecaps have melted, many nations are gone, the West Coast is gone, monsters and mutants rampage across Americo (their pastiche of America. Lotta paint went into this one…), aliens are invading, demons are enroaching, and to top it all off, the world is going to end on December 31st, 1979, unless the heroes manage to stop it.

… Though, if you ask me, that’s a pretty big “unless.” I’ll get right back to that, though.

What annoys me most about this book is, as I said, their tendency to simply paint things a different color: Just as a very small example, Stantom Spobeck is Richard Nixon, line and number. For another example, his political rival is the pornographer Hunbolt Suede, and while I don’t know who he’s supposed to be based on (can’t be arsed), his true story uses elements from The Omen, right down to his being the Son of Satan, and he can only be killed by these enchanted daggers and… Ugh.

Also, there’s even a parody of Leonard Nimoy (as if they needed to bother…), who himself has a parody of Nimoy’s old show “In Search Of…”. (Again, as if they needed to bother.)

Oh and there’s even a parody of Elvis (again, as if you needed to bother!), simply called “The King,” who goes about fighting aliens. While I do admit to cracking a smile at that one, I can also say that this is the closest it came to amusing me…

That’s my main chief problem with this book: Everything in it is just things from the 70s, only with a few small twists, mostly to make things more bleak and depressing.

Which brings me back to the “unless.”

Simply put, there IS no good ending for the world of Damnation Decade. If Suede wins, he nukes the world. If Spobeck wins, he continues to fuck up the world. Biscuit, the actual third runner in the presidential race, seems to be a good guy… And he is. Too good, in fact, to do anything. There are Antediluvian horrors who are trying to rebuild their empire, zombie goasts mutants (Complete with a Charles Manson “parody”, come to think of it), who will infect or simply devour everything, aliens who want Earth for its fertile land, and if you somehow manage to defeat ALL THAT, “The Bloc,” Damnation Decade’s version of the Soviet Union, will simply continue to steamroll the world.

Sure, the book SAYS there’s room for funky, over the top play in this, but it sure as Hell does not feel like it. Indeed, it feels more like they were GOING for that, but shot too far in the direction of being the 70s, and really just became a depressing mess.

When it’s not an obnoxiously unfunny one. On top of the shit I mention above, there’s even a Fantasy Island pastiche, oy…

But unlike the world of Damnation Decade, I have good news, and better news. The good news is, I also picked up Testament, also from Green Ronin, and it’s a lot better than this. Once I’ve read it more, I will probably review (or just as likely, Glance) it. The better news is, it’s not the worst book I picked up from this lot, oh no. That is probably Green Races from Fast Forward Entertainment, which is also very likely getting a review, since, well… Unless I missed something on my first glance? This book is bad. So bad, in fact, that I can’t NOT review it…

Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The City

November 17, 2010

Well then.

This won’t be long, as you need only look at my review on Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The Dungeon to learn the basics, but yes, Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a grand total of three tile sets in the Essentials line, with a wilderness set being the last one for now.

In the previous review, I complained about the blank tiles on the flip side of the cards. The City turns this around completely: There are almost no blank tiles whatsoever.

Not to say there aren’t a great deal of fairly generic tiles, a street here, a road there, but this is a VAST improvement over The Dungeon, which was mostly useful if not very exciting.

This? Is actually useful, and excitingt, AND seems to consist of either new graphics, or ones that haven’t been in print in the last three years. There’s a goodly amount of variety, too, with interiors, exteriors, water, docks, statues, lots of nice things. The box can also be used for terrian: It has rooftops on it this time.

If I have any complaints, it’s that there aren’t enough sewer tiles, and perhaps too many water tiles. But overall, it’s a better mix than The Dungeon.

High hopes for the next one. You can release more of these, Wizards.

Highly reccomended.

Anyway, that’s all. A review of Monster Vault may be coming soon too, as apparently, Amazon delivers via Tardis…

Pathfinder Quickie

October 28, 2010

Apparently, Golarion has robots in it.

Color me happy I never started collecting. I am willing to accept lost empires of some stretch, but straight up giant robots in an otherwise fantasy setting? It just seems silly. James Jacobs didn’t want to release that image because of people thinking Golarion has gone the way of super-wacky, Wild Wild West syled bullshit… And then says “There’s just as much sci-fi in Golarion now as there was a year ago—that is to say, there’s a SIZABLE region in the north central area of Avistan where robots and lasers and flying cars and metal men can be found, “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” style.”

… Which just confirms that there is silly, Wild Wild West-styled bullshit in the setting. Barrier Peaks? No thank you.

No.

THANK.

YOU.

I have GOT to make that post where I come out against Gygaxian gaming some day… Barrier Peaks was silly then, and it’s silly now. It doesn’t matter how long its been a part of the game, it will always be silly. God…

I’ll still be buying Book of the Damned II, but if the Abyss has ANY giant robots in it, I am sending the book back to Paizo as confetti.

Product Reviews – Denizens of Avadnu (d20)

October 24, 2010

It’s amazing what you’ll buy for $10.

No, seriously. See, while you probably know I LOVE Paizo, there’s one thing I don’t like about them: Their shipping. Jesus Tapdancing Christ their shipping. It costs like woah, and I hate it. But, as I like to support Paizo, and they do tend to make it well worth my while, I ignore that little fact, and simply try to avoid snagging single items. As such, this often means I wait on purchases, or dig into their bargain bins.

Which brings us to today’s entry, Denizens of Avadnu, from the Violet Dawn campaign setting.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? You aren’t alone, as I had not either. What little I know of it has Violet Dawn coming from a small publisher going by the name of Inner Circle. So small, in fact, that they’ve switched over to full PDF printing for both, their older works and their new 4e products… Wait, I thought GSL didn’t allow that? Yeah, I thought that, once you printed your first 4e product, you were bound to the GSL, body and soul, your blood pact for supporting the horrible regime of…

… No, no, I’m not being a grognard, I just really hate GSL. Maybe I have a flawed understanding of it, or maybe they removed the “sadistic choice” element from it, as all it did was turn Paizo into a juggernaut…

Anyway, website is here, if you want to see it. Okay, so they haven’t updated much. Neither have I…

At any rate, what I’ll say us, Violet Dawn is weird. Here, I’ll quote from the back of the book: “Within these pages lurk Adavnu’s most malevolent spawn. From insidious vylar to rampaging hakalaa, from mighty automentals to nightmarish xxyth, the denizens of Avadnu are as unique as they are deadly.”

… Yeah. That kind of talk is just daring you to open the book, isn’t it? Well, when you do, you fund something you might not have expected from a small publisher: 227 pages, hardcover, full color, and dear god is it some good color we have here. The artwork and presentation are top-notch.

As for the monsters themselves? Kind of a mixed bag. No, not in the bad way; The book promises unique monsters for its Violet Dawn setting, and this book delivers. It’s just that… Avadnu is an alien world, so many of the creatures so presented are weird.

Some of them are pretty much twists on existing monsters, like the Automental, which was created from an attempt to fuse the four elements into a single construct. This granted them elemental attacks. So, golems with an attitude, all well and good. Then we have Inscribers, bizarre undead whose search for knowledge has driven them utterly mad, and in death, their continued ravings constantly appear on their own skin, which they have to periodically tear off and put into massive tomes they carry. Oh and they can drink the words from books. Okay… That’s something…

Then we get into the strange stuff, like the Dark Wanderer, mysterious shapeshifters who have the ability to change between their smaller, more seductive, female gender and their larger, reptilian, male counterparts… with four arms. Or how about the Goldencrest, a peculiar, seaborne ooze that is infused with positive energy.  Stranger still are their magical beast types, including the Grimvole, a rodent-like beast that emits a debilitating necrotic field (and can evolve into a larger form with intelligence and the ability to control undead…).

The list goes on, with creatures making strange use of light and darkness, mosters tied to the sun and the moon (including templates for this purpose), and bizarre outsiders that are pure chaos in a physical form.

Like I said; It’s weird.

But that’s a good thing, really. Each monster is unique in its own way, all have abilities that make them compelling opponents, and it paints Violet Dawn as a strange and outstanding world unto itself.

Also of note are the new magical items and Prestige Classes made available herein. I’d go so far as to say this book has something for almost everyone.

I don’t know how good Violet Dawn is as a setting, and frankly, I rather dislike “alien” worlds, as it makes it harder to sell on groups, but that’s just me. Likewise, though, this book is d20, meaning people who are running 4e games won’t be able to make use of it without converting the monsters first… But expect me to make a post on that in the future. Suffice it to say, it’s not that hard. Even then, if you were looking for ways to make monsters unique and memorable, this book has tons of inspiration.

Anyone with a current 3.5e, Pathfinder, or other similar d20 campaign could probably stand to snag this for $10. Or just grab the PDF from their website for $2.50… Paizo has been selling the book for a good two years now, and it still hasn’t gone out of stock, so they apparently have a lot of them left. That said, if it’s gone, just get the PDF. It’s worth it.

The price is right, either way.

Essentials? Oh, right.

September 16, 2010

I figured this was as good a post as any to rise from my grave on.

So yeah. Dungeons & Dragons Essentials, which some are calling “4.5” or “Not 4.5,” depending.

How do I feel? Well, I don’t really care.

No, really: I have enough rules with which to run my games. What I care about is fluff- Which Wizards hasn’t really gifted us with. We’ve gotten little more than hints, teases as to what the Dragonborn, Eladrin and Tieflings are really all about, and I doubt that’s going to change much. As for the rules? Well, I keep hearing that Essentials changes very little about how 4e actually works, meaning that Vanilla 4e and Essentials 4e are not only the same game, but are therefore compatible.

Which makes the argument moot: Some people are going to stick with Vanilla. Some are going to move to Essentials. Some are going to use both. All will still be playing D&D, and the fluff will probably still suck in the new books, just as it has in most of the other 4e books. Seriously, WIzards? Firing your creative staff was such a bad idea. Paizo just hired them back anyway…

What I do approve of, though, is the Essentials Dungeon Tiles releases: Yes, there’s a fair amount of reprints in the tiles. That said, they’re still extremely useful, and with none of those damn useless three-dimensional tiles that have choked the last two releases, Harrowing Halls and the new Dark Sun tie-in. Again, I question the logic of such gimmicks in a set that’s supposed to put your new face on a third product line, something we haven’t seen since the demise of TSR.

But in the vein of actually useful Dungeon Tiles, we have the current Dungeons, and the upcoming wilderness and city sets, all of which I will likely buy in the future, and will be of great use to me.

So, yeah. Essentials? Couldn’t be less interested. I doubt it’s going to change the way I run my game, one way or another.