Thursday, July 30, 2009

What kind of gamer are you?

Take the quiz.

My results (with normalized results in parentheses):
Butt-kicker 100% (24%)
Tactician 92% (22%)
Storyteller 75% (18%)
Specialist 58% (14%)
Power Gamer 50% (12%)
Method Actor 17% (4%)
Casual Gamer 17% (4%)

Yeah, I already knew that.


Rippin' on Basic D&D

The latest from I must admit, I've never heard of this supplement, but I stopped playing Basic D&D long before this atrocity came out. In fact, I thought Basic was already done by 1987. I'll bet this is what killed it.

The Book of Wondrous Inventions


Katana - just a bastard sword with good PR

If you want to create a cool character, equip him with a katana, because, as we all know, katanas are miracle weapons. There is nothing you can't do with a katana. Armed with a katana, Uma Thurman can clear a room full of bad guys in the blink of an eye. In the hierarchy of cool weapons, only the lightsaber and the minigun can compete with the katana. Well, I say bullsh*t! And apparently agrees with me. Here's what they have to say about the famous "Katanas are just better" trope.

But the myth of the katana being a better weapon than equivalent European swords (namely the medieval longsword) is debatable.

Japanese swords use vastly inferior iron for katanas compared to that available for medieval European swords, necessitating costly and time-consuming efforts by Japanese master swordsmiths to remove impurities from the iron, such as the famous "folding of the blade". Folding iron is a common forging technique not unique to Japan, but Japanese blades were folded many more times than some European ones to compensate for the inherent lack of quality in material. Viking swords, on the other hand, were commonly more folded, by orders of magnitude, than most ancient Japanese swords. Contrary to popular belief, folding a sword does not aid its cutting or edge holding properties at all; it merely ensures an even distribution of carbon within the steel (while some other alloying elements will remain layered).

On the other hand however, European swords are just as good, if not better than the katana. Besides aforementioned better material quality, the longsword was double edged with a point, which was far more difficult to forge than a single edged weapon. The longsword is a much more versatile weapon, able to cut and thrust, and the cruciform hilt construction is a lot better for parrying off blows than the katana. And the second edge allows the weapon to cut in either direction; blows with the "short edge" (which faces the weilder) are a major component of many Western martial arts. Contrary to popular belief, many longswords of equivalent size were just about the same weight.


By the way, is awesome. Spend some time and check it out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Krod Mandoon - Early Review

Rognar first brought Krod Mandoon to my attention. I checked it out when it first came on a couple weeks ago and I have to admit I was rather disappointed. I was expecting a lot and although it had its clever moments it never really delivered.

I PVR'd the next weeks episodes (they play 2 at a time) but took a few days to watch them. I don't know if my expectations dropped or if they got funnier but I enjoyed them more. I have two more episodes ready to go but as I don't watch much TV, I haven't taken the time to sit and watch them yet.

I think the show will probably develop a cult following but is too weird and out there for a mainstream audience. I doubt it will make it to a second season which is probably too bad because I can lots of potential here.

I will keep watching a do another review later as the first season comes to a close.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The latest purchase from my FLGS, pt.3

I picked up the Rebellion Era Campaign Guide for the Star Wars Saga Edition. As I feared, it's a bit thin on crunch. There are no new races and only a sprinkling of new talents, feats and prestige classes. The unfortunate fact is, this game is reaching the point of being complete. They are running out of material and with several more books in the pipeline (with themes of war, intrigue, droids and unexplored space), they are really going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Expect to see a new edition sometime in 2010.

So, what does it have? Well, it has racial feats which are kind of neat. Each race from the core book (except humans) has three feats associated with it. There are two new prestige classes, the Improviser and the Pathfinder. They seem decent enough. There's the usual list of new equipment, ships, vehicles and droids as well as stat blocks for different types of rebel operatives, soldiers, stormtroopers, etc. There are also stats for many of the minor characters from the original Star Wars trilogy such as Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter and Wicket. Beyond that, it's mostly flavour text on Alliance and Imperial military structures and adventure hooks. A worthwhile purchase, but definitely not as meaty as most of the previous sourcebooks.


Rippin' on AD&D, pt.5

Part 2 of the Fiend Folio critique:

Fiend Folio, pt.2


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Midnight campaign setting

Fantasy Flight Games is offering its Midnight campaign setting (2nd ed.) in pdf form for a mere $10. At that price, I'm prepared to buy an interesting-looking product that I otherwise wouldn't bother with and I'm glad I did. The 2nd edition of Midnight has been adapted for D&D 3.5, unlike the previous edition which was d20. I would describe the setting as Middle Earth if Sauron had won. The Gods were forced to cast down one of their own, the dark god Izrador. Unfortunately, they accidentally closed the heavens to the world of men, elves and dwarves in the process. In effect, they locked mortals in a cage with an evil god who was defeated, but by no means dead. It was only a matter of time until Izrador regained his strength and conquered the world. Now men serve Izrador, either willingly or as slaves, while his orcish armies hunt elves and dwarves to extinction.

In a world as dangerous as the one in
Midnight, even heroes are rarely up to the task of resisting the power of the Shadow. Only those with some sort of special heritage can survive in such an environment, and so all characters have a heroic path, similar to a bloodline which gives them special abilities. These heroic paths come in several varieties, some are true bloodlines such as dragonblooded or feyblooded, while others are more of an inherent aptitude so potent, it gives the character supernatural abilities.

Other than heroic paths, the only other significant change from the standard D&D 3.5 rules is how magic is handled. There is only one spellcasting class, the channeler, although there are three subclasses, the charismatic channeler (who casts bardic spells), the spiritual channeler (who casts druidic spells) and the hermetic channeler (who casts wizard spells). There is no spell preparation, rather the channeler has a pool of spell energy points to spend to cast any spells he knows. In general, a channeler will know fewer spells than a standard D&D 3.5 wizard, but more than a bard.

Besides the channeler, the other core classes in
Midnight are barbarian and rogue, both of which are largely unchanged, defender (which greatly resembles the monk class), wildlander (which is similar to ranger) and fighter (largely unchanged from D&D 3.5, but much rarer except among dwarves).

I do have a couple of minor complaints. There are a couple of places where the page design was messed up, resulting in the loss of some text under some of the interior art. Also, the quality of the maps is a bit substandard for a product of this quality. Still, for the most part, I am greatly impressed by what I have read of
Midnight so far. It adeptly captures the feel of a conventional D&D campaign setting in which events go horribly wrong.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

So, what's on your iPod?, pt.3

Crom is a German heavy metal band, consisting largely of Walter "Crom" Grosse (lead guitar and vocals). Drawing inspiration from Bathory and other bands of the "Viking metal" movement, Crom combines speed metal guitar riffs with pagan and fantastical themes. Grosse is a vocalist of limited range, displaying neither the ear-splitting upper registers common to many metal acts today nor the gravelly low-pitched growls of bands such as Sabaton or Rammstein. However, what Grosse lacks as a vocalist, he more than makes up for as a top tier shredder.

The most recent release by Crom is the 2008 LP Vengeance, a pretty solid collection of aggressive songs sprinkled with an occasional folk-inspired ballad. The limitations of Grosse's vocals are most evident on these more melodic tunes, but really, you're probably not listening to Crom for these rather awkward ballads anyway. Vengeance is available from iTunes in Canada. Unfortunately, the earlier EP Fallen Beauty is not as of this moment. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for this hard-to-find early release.

I should mention there is also a California-based band of the same name. I know almost nothing about them, except that they are grindcore, one of my least favourite styles of metal.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rippin' on AD&D, pt.4

After a long hiatus, Zack and Steve from are back and this time, they are taking a look at the Fiend Folio. I had forgotten just how awful it was.

Fiend Folio, pt.1


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sword & Spell - My new retro RPG

The interwebs are full of gamers talking about simpler times when D&D had fewer rules and gamers were more manly. There are several retro-clones available for free these days with names like OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry. These games seem fine, but I get the sense some old-timey types still think they are too complicated. For those folks, I offer my new game system free of charge. I call it Sword & Spell - The D2 Game System. All you need to play is a pencil, a blank post-it note and a quarter. On the post-it note, you write your character class of which there are two choices, wizard or fighter. Under your character class, write the following:

Not Dead:____

There, now your character sheet is complete.

Ok, now for the system. Combat is based on the time-honoured coin flip engine. Heads, you hit, tails, you miss. The attack roll is countered by the opponents defense roll: heads, you're not dead, tails, you're dead. Some monsters can survive more than one tails roll for defense as demonstrated in the complete bestiary below:

Orc - one tail
Troll - two tails
Dragon - three tails

There are two attack modes, spell and sword. They differ in name only.

All other actions in the game are similarly decided by a "heads, you succeed, tails, you fail" mechanic, subject to DM's approval.

There you have it, a complete retro-RPG. Enjoy.


District 9 trailer

With all the eye-popping, but mindless summer sci-fi flicks this year, one upcoming release stands out as being something different. District 9, produced by Peter Jackson, tells of a ship full of alien refugees who arrive on earth three decades earlier and who have basically been held in a ghetto ever since. This trailer, although rather badly edited, makes the movie look pretty sweet. I hope they don't ruin it.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

DDM Report - Legendary Evils

I have to wonder is WotC has started to learn from past mistakes. Next month, the next set of D&D minis, entitled Legendary Evils will be released. It is the first set containing huge figures since they adopted the current format which includes one visible figure and a bunch of randoms. In this set, the 8 huge figures will all be visible and has them. They are Balor, Beholder Ultimate Tyrant, Elder Green Dragon (nice!), Elder Iron Dragon, Goristro, Storm Titan, Frost Titan and Remorhaz (seen above).

Colour me interested.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Transformers! More than meets the eye...

Well no, not really. After a couple of weeks of seeing the fanboys howling on the interwebs about the atrocity of the new Transformers movie and cursing the name of Michael Bay, I went to see what all the fuss was about. Quite honestly, I liked it. It delivered everything I wanted to see, the wanton destruction of several UNESCO World Heritage sites and lots of bouncing of the ample assets of Megan Fox. If you really think there should be more to it, you are expecting way too much from a cartoon franchise featuring an alien robot that morphs into a tapedeck.

By the way, your enjoyment of this movie will be somewhat diminished if you know anything about the geography of Egypt, because Michael Bay most certainly does not.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Where I've been

Since I can't post this in the comments.

visited 24 states (10.6%)

Since I got married I have added 1 new country to my list, although I did revisit 4 others so I guess it hasn't been all bad.

Where have you visited? pt.2

Among US states, I am somewhat more impressive.

visited 17 states (34%)
Create your own visited map of The United States


Where have you visited? pt.1

Where have you been in the world? Clearly I have to get out more.

visited 7 states (3.11%) - Canada, the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands
Create your own visited map of The World


One RPG Wish...

If you could have just one RPG wish come true, one campaign setting published or franchise created into an game, what would it be?

For me, it would be a space horror campaign setting, incorporating elements of Alien and Event Horizon. There was a hint of such a setting in d20 Future called "The Dark Heart of Space", but unfortunately, it was little more than a couple of adventure hooks and one advanced class. A full expansion of that setting would be awesome.