Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Towers of Midnight: Review

So I am once again caught up on my reading and will be looking for something new to tackle. I am hugely disappointed that they've pushed back the release date of the last book by 10 months! And announciing this delay only a month before A Memory of Light's release date makes me bitter.

Anyway, what did I think of Towers of Midnight?

1. Pacing. This book has rather odd pacing. The middle of the novel has a much better climax than the ending does. That's not to say the ending was bad or boring but it just lacked the build up and excitement of the middle of the book. I had not expected two major plotlines to suddenly intersect resulting in a major encounter much more worthy of the climax. The book's climax was something that has been coming for a long time. The reader knows pretty much what's going to happen and it takes place pretty much as expected with no real twists or turns.

2. Editing. I've been reading Ebooks and I do spot the occasional oddity in most books but I've always suspected its due to the possible source of these Ebooks. These errors look like OCR issues and they are easily ignored (rn = m). This book however had a decent number of misspelled or misused words. The kind of thing where you stop and double check to make sure you are reading it correctly. I was surprised so many slipped through the editing process.

Overall the book was very good. Sanderson tries to keep the action going and has a much more direct writing style that Jordan's flowery meandering style. All of the plot lines advance in a significant manner and you can see how things are lining end for the final book. One interesting chapter in this books deals with what's going to happen after all of this is over (assuming the Wheel of Time is not broken). It will be interesting to see how the issues raised in that chapter are dealt with in the final book.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mongoose editing, as good as it ever was

The first three releases in the Legend game from Mongoose, Legend Core Rulebook, Monsters of Legend and Arms of Legend were actually pretty well done. Though not flashy, they were well-edited and easy to read. Of course, it was only a matter of time before Mongoose reverted back to its old habits. Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic actually sounds pretty good and being written by Peter Nash ensures that what is there will be first-rate. Unfortunately, it appears Mongoose has managed to butcher it in the editing process if the comments on this forum are to be believed (comments which include those of the author of the book himself). Especially egregious (though sadly, not surprising), the text on the website describing the book actually includes reference to material that has apparently been edited out. I will probably still buy the book, everything Peter Nash touches is pure gold, but once again, I will be cursing under my breath at the Mongoose editors.


Wheel of Time, Cont.

Well, way back in October I restarted the wheel of time series. Here we are now almost 5 months later and I just finished book 12 which is as far I had read before. From here on out its all virgin territory. I started Book 13 this morning and I'm pretty sure I'll have it complete long before the much awaited final Book 14 arrives in March. I seems weird that a series I started over 20 years ago is finally wrapping up.

I guess the wait for the Dark Tower was longer but I only started reading that back in 2003.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fading Suns for Pathfinder! Now, please!

Fading Suns is an awesome campaign setting incorporating magic, technology and futuristic horror. Sadly, it has long been chained to a clunky game system. A brief foray into the d20 system yielded less than satisfying results. Now RedBrick is planning to try again with the announcement of an upcoming release of Fading Suns for Pathfinder.

As we announced on Pinnacle Games web site last year, RedBrick is working on releasing a version of Fading Suns for Savage Worlds. We are also updating the previous d20 version for use with the popular Pathfinder roleplaying game. Both editions are based on Fading Suns Second Edition. Development on Third Edition has taken precedence over these editions, so the first books are currently scheduled for released in late 2012/early-2013, as follows (for each system):

2012/Q4: Player’s and GM’s Guides
2013/Q1: Lords of the Known Worlds, Priests of the Celestial Sun

Ok, now I'm excited.


Cross-posted at Rognar's Space Horror RPG Blog

Friday, February 17, 2012

MERP, a retrospective

In the early 90s, I headed off from my childhood home seeking fame, fortune and a graduate degree. Only the third goal was achieved, but I did get to spend a lot of that time experimenting with tabletop roleplaying games that didn't have the words "dungeons" or "dragons" in their titles (this is possibly why the fame and fortune parts never materialized). Some of these, I played the heck out of (notably GURPS), while others, I only tried once or twice (Chivalry and Sorcery, Call of Cthulhu, Alternity, Star Wars d6, Pendragon). Another one of this latter group is Middle-Earth Role-Playing or MERP by Iron Crown Enterprises. MERP is a softer, gentler spawn of the angry, ex-Marine drill sergeant of tabletop role-playing games, Rolemaster. I've never played Rolemaster, I suppose, because I don't hate myself enough, but even MERP requires a healthy level of masochism. The interesting thing about MERP/Rolemaster is that even the DM has to filled with a sense of self-loathing to really embrace the system. Sadistic DMs are better off with Call of Cthulhu, in which they can inflict all manner of pain on their players without having to beat themselves repeatedly about the head. Anyway, as I was saying, MERP is a simplified and more approachable game based on the Rolemaster game engine. Like D&D, it is a class-and-level system, although the power curve is a little less steep. For example, a Warrior will gain 5 development points for weapon skills each level. Each such point may be spent on one of the six weapon skills (1-H Edged, 1-H Concussion, 2-Handed, Thrown, Missile, Polearm) for a 5% to hit bonus or spend 3 points for a 10% bonus. Furthermore, once 10 points have been spent on a skill, the bonuses drop to 2% or 4% respectively. Combat is certainly more complicated than D&D, but not as torturous as Rolemaster. The character has an offensive bonus (OB) based on weapon skill, relevent stat bonus and magic bonuses which he may dedicate wholly or in part to his attack roll. The attack roll is then penalized by the defensive bonus (DB) of the opponent which is derived from the relevent stat bonus, a shield bonus (if applicable) and any portion of the defender's OB he wishes to commit to parrying. Up to that point, combat is pretty straightforward. The modified result is then compared to a combat matrix for the appropriate weapon group (in Rolemaster, there's a separate combat table for every weapon!) which gives a result that accounts for the type of armour worn by the defender. A typical result will give a number of hits inflicted, but good rolls can result in a critical hits roll. This is where things get painful. This game has critical hits for everything. There are puncture crits, slashing crits, crushing crits, grappling crits, heat crits, cold crits, electricity crits and impact crits and tables for each. If you have a particularly brutal "primary" crit, it can also result in a lesser "secondary" crit as well. Especially bad rolls can also result in fumbles, of which there are several varieties.

Interestingly, aside from the obsession with the minutiae of combat simulation, MERP is clearly influenced by D&D. There are six stats which correspond pretty closely to the traditional D&D formula; strength, agility, constitution, intelligence, intuition and presence. There are also six character classes, one for each primary stat; Warrior (i.e. fighter; primary stat - strength), Scout (i.e. rogue; primary stat - agility), Animist (i.e. cleric; primary stat - intuition), Mage (i.e. wizard; primary stat - intelligence), Ranger (i.e. ranger; primary stat - constitution) and Bard (i.e. bard; primary stat - presence). All character classes may learn some magic, of which there are two varieities; Channeling (divine) and Essence (arcane). Obviously, the more magic-oriented classes of Animist and Mage have fewer restrictions. Spells are organized into lists of ten, within which all the spells have a related theme and increase in power with each level. For example, the Mage spell list Fire Law starts with a spell called Boil Liquid that can cause a cubic foot per level of liquid to boil and ends with Circle Aflame which conjures an immobile, 10 ft. high wall of flames encircling the caster and which inflicts a heat critical on anyone passing through it.

So, you may ask why I'm posting about a game I played a couple of times some twenty years ago. Well, it turns out I have a ton of supplements for this game that I recently uncovered during a spring cleaning. I had forgotten I even owned most of this stuff. Going through it all has brought back a lot of memories, not so much of the game itself, but of the time in my life when I used to have a lot of free time and, apparently, a lot of disposable income. So, I thought I'd share it with you all.


Rippin' on....In Search of the Unknown

Some old school fun from Zack and Steve:

B1 In Search of the Unknown, pt.1

B1 In Search of the Unknown, pt.2


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pathfinder Minis: Another Viewpoint

I didn't say it would be a much different view point. I finally got my case from Paizo yesterday and I too got a full set. However my Dragon Booster was missing. Paizo customer service was wonderful as always and within 20 minutes of notifying them I got a shipment notification that it was on its way.

My one big disappointment was how much I paid for them. I subscribed to the Mini line on top of the Adventure Path line and that should get me a 15% discount on a case and each pack's special booster at 75% off. The case and the booster came to about $240 which isn't too bad until I realized I got charged $40 for shipping and then got dinged $20 on customs charges. In the end I paid just over $300.

Derrobane and Tayloritos paid about $240 for their cases and Dragon booster and that included shipping and they didn't get dinged customs fees. I like supporting Paizo directly but not by paying an extra $60 for exactly the same product.

Anyway, prices aside I am pleased with the set. I got a complete set although I didn't pull the werewolf until the very last box I opened. I got a ton of Ettins (3). None of mine were broken and I didn't spot any horribly mangled paint jobs.

Also in the box was part 5 of Jade Regent AP. I have been really pleased with the second half of this AP so far. Most AP start strong and then weaken as it goes on. This one seems to be the opposite which is odd since James Jacobs wrote the first part of the AP and his adventures tend to be pretty awesome.