Thursday, March 01, 2007

D+D 3.5 is the Lingua Franca

There are many RPg systems available and D+D is not the best. It is a lot of fun, but I like several other systems, either because they are more realistic, more flexible, more cinematic, or more appropriate to a given setting.

When I run games at a convention, I am determined now to only run D+D (and yes, now I have given up most every artifact of 3.0 for 3.5). My reasons are simple: most people know how to play. It is easier to tell a story when the rules are known and don't get in the way of what I am trying to do.

I think I could run other stuff with friends, but it's D+D for strangers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ivarr the Quieter

What follows is the origin story of a character I played this Sunday. It was a D+D game and Ivarr is 14th level, so I had help (thanks Mark) in the game mechanic stuff:

Ivarr was born of the violence of a raid, in a festering marsh. He narrowly avoided being exposed as a baby. His mother raised the war-child because of visions her father related. A Shaman's daughter, she took the boy's rapid growth to be the confirmation of the sign that he was to end the war with the Orc tribe (the Dripping Blades) and bring peace to the village. Ivarr (in Orc - "Hand" as in Hand of friendship) was despised in the human settlement and spent a good deal of his younger years wandering alone.

A friend to the ten-thousand good Kami (spirits), Ivarr eventually did find the Dripping Blades when he reached his teenage years. The negotiations came to a grinding halt when a particularly big and cruel Orc implied that he might have been the young man's father.

What he did to that Orc is why he's referred to as the Quieter. Soon, for better or worse, all around Ivarr grew quiet.

He had to go further from home.

By the time Ivarr enters the story, he's been wandering around so much that he doesn't form strong attachments to places, things or people. Ivarr has no formal training in religion, but he "talks" to the Kami in the area he finds himself in. In any of the many terrains in which he is comfortable, the spirits "talk back." This is the explanation of the preternaturally enhanced skills and abilities.

Physically, Ivarr is massive. He is fully 6'4," heavily built (300 lbs) with strong bestial features. His skin is a green-grey like his Orc lineage, but his eyes are brown and slightly almond shaped (like an east-asian). His hair is black and wiry. All in all, Ivarr is unapologetically ugly.

His fulll plate armor is mitral that has been expertly dulled and scratched to give it a less bright shine. Looking closely, the scratched surface also contains
engravings, in a kind of almost childlike hierogyphics. These mark(incomprehensible to others)are a form of road map of the Kami, or spirits, of the places Ivarr has been. He wears a full helm and gorget, unadorned, that usually has its visor up.

Across his waist is a large belt whose silver buckle depicts two giants fighting. Across his left shoulder is a bandolier from which Ivarr suspends his arsenal. He carries Two greataxes, one black hafted and covered in Fey language blessings(Ivarr calls the axe "Quiet") and a silver greataxe that is otherwise plain.A wicked morningstar also is suspended from the bandolier.

On Ivarr's back is a nice large metal shield and a longbow. His boots are high and clean despite the overall dirtiness of the adventurer lifestyle. He wears a green cloak with magical inscriptions on the inside. Under his lobstered gauntlets , Ivarr wears supple gloves and the only piece of jewelry he owns, a shiny platinum ring.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


My results speak for themselves:

Modern, Cool Nerd
52 % Nerd, 73% Geek, 43% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used
to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a
pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world
that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and
geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very
least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent,
knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing
computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one
you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one
up there, winning the million bucks)!


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 40% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 79% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I don't settle too often

Folks, I love board games. Euro games are my thing. But, after Tuesday, I remember vividly why I am reluctant to play one of the classics : Settlers of Catan

It's the sevens. When a seven is rolled, all that happens is goods move around the board and sometimes folks who have been hoarding lose goods. No one generates anything.

I know seven is the most likely result from rolling 2 six-sided dice, but Tuesday was an example of how strange anomolies in dice-rolling can completely stop a game dead in its tracks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The last con I haven't been to

I am going to KublaCon this year (only Saturday and Sunday). Should be fun! I am running a D+D game, "What Boils up from the Swamp" Sunday at 3:30.

They only had a four-hour time slot for me, which means my six-hour run has to be compressed. This should be possible, but I don't like it. Any suggestions on trimming?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Game mechanics and my favs for now

Quick thoughts here:

- I like bidding as a mechanic. It generally forces tough decisions.

-Games benefit from at least one random element. Too much randomness makes the game light.

- If you can play a games in 2 hours and everyone had fun, that's awesome. Brevity and depth are a hard balance to strike.

My current favs (in no order):

El Grande: I still need to play with five players.

Power Grid: playing this a lot now. Always fun!

Beowulf, the Legend: Quick, easy to learn, and has depth that isn't obvious on the first play

Shadows over Camelot: I still love this collaborative game

Princes of Florence: I think a lot about this game, even though I don't play it a lot

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

V for Vendetta: a touch of taboo politics

V for Vendetta is a recent exploration of the politics of fear, freedom, and terrorism. It has strikingly un-PC things to say about the very nature of ends-means morality and it brings up the big question: What is terrorism and what is patriotism?

How does this all relate to gaming? Simply put, you see all the political considerations in the movie in the actions of Player Characters. In a well-structured RPG world, there are tyrants, terrorists, and freedom fighters. The lines are never 100% clear on what is a justified use of force and what is clearly excessive. The means of accomplishing a goal are often muddled.

When I play good characters, often I am the voice in a group standing up against ends-means thinking and such.

Example: My priest character Br. Thurman, who critiqued the most tried and true assumption of D+D: if you found something in a dungeon, it belongs to you. I argued that "finder's keeper's" rule do not in and of themselves justify grave-robbing, even if it's grave-robing for good ends (fighting evil).

What counts as terrorism in a fantasy world?

- Is piracy against a government you don't agree with OK? (the old Bear Hunters in my D+D campaign did a LOT of this).

- What about kidnapping a child who you know is going to grow up and be a tool of evil? Do future prophesies of tyranny constitute just grounds?

- What about powering powerful devices with the blood of innocent virgins (a PC did this!)?

What counts as patriotism?

- Using mind control against political enemies to gather information about a group's intentions?

- Joining in guerilla raids in an ongoing racial war?

- Attempting to manipulate election processes because you believe the other side is going to do the same?

A good GM can bring up moral dilemmas like these. How players respond shape the nature of the game.