Monday, February 25, 2008

Dwarven Forge!

Well, I finally took the plunge and got some basic Dwarven Forge sets to use as background for my campaign images.

I plan to use the gaming table and wet erase markers for actual play, but the "re-enactment" photos will incorporate the Dwarven Forge pieces. That way, I don't need to have more than the basic sets, as I can use the walls in a variety of configuration with only as much as can be seen in one photo showing.

Here is the first shot, of The Hopeful Seven.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chore Wars

My Chore Wars character

I was reading entries on, and there was a guy on there who was wondering if there were any more people out there like himself, who had spent more than $4K on miniatures.

I'm sure, cumualtively, I've got him beat, but this poor fella was talking about his minis exactly like an addiction...which, of course, it is. You don't hear people refer to it as plastic crack for nothing. I think it is actually closer akin to a gambling addiction, and the random rewards of randomized minis really do fall into that category. It isn't a slot machine, it is a cardboard box, but it is exactly the same principle involved.

Anyway, he'd maxed out his credit cards and was starting to have marital grizzled veterans of the obsessive compulsive collectors on Hordlings had seen it all before.

One thing I hadn't seen before was something called Chore Wars. One of the posters suggested to the guy that he and his wife and the kids, if they haven't sold them to buy more minis, should register for Chore Wars. The idea is you role play characters and earn XP for doing household chores -- Household Adventures.

You can set it up so that you earn both XP and Gold for various things, and if you agree that you can only spend dollars equal to the gold you've gotten for doing chores...everybody wins.

My wife and I set up an account...she may not invest in doing the Chore Wars thing, but even if it is only a way for me to track my household chore contributions, I'm pleased. You can create monsters to encounter and add in extra treasure.

For example, if while I'm cleaning the bedroom closet I encounter the Dust Bunny of Doom, I might defeat it and get two movie tickets. If the wife is making the bed and defeats the Angry Sock Monkey, she might get a foot rub.

It is fun, and I like it, and I recommend it.



Scribd is a new online service that is sort of like the YouTube of documents, or that is what they are being called.

Essentially, you upload a document, like a PDF, and the file sharing service automatically converts it to several different file formats available for download.

I'm dubious about the legality and wary of the potential for copyright infringement, but I have to say that for someone who labors to back-engineer 3rd edition materials to a useful 2nd edition format, the service is a godsend. I hope they don't go all Napster on us geeky D&D file sharers. That would just be embarrassing for everyone. Besides, with 4th edition coming out this year, all these 3E files will be obsolete and unsupported by the parent company anyway.

When I'm doing up a Monstrous Manual page for my 2nd Edition game from 3E materials, it is incredibly time consuming to scan the text from the 3E books and because of the ebmedded graphics, I almost always end up having to just transcribe it myself.

With Scribd, all I have to do is download the Word version of the PDF and the text is ready to be converted to my 2E files. I am sure that at first blush this seems a lot like piracy, but I have purchased nearly every single book in 3E in order to convert the materials to my 2E game, so WOTC isn't losing any money from me by my taking advantage of this service solely as a document converter.

That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

My life isn't going to be long enough to actually play all the adventures I have planned for my players, any time I can shave off prep and devote to play, I'm all for, and this is going to save me literally months!

Wow...I almost had a twinge of doubt, but I overcame it--D&D crisis of faith averted, hobby time is never wasted! Never!

Check it out. If you search and find a poster who has a lot of the same kind of files you like, click on their name and you'll probably get a very specific short list, like Wilbur07, who has uploaded a lot of WOTC pdfs.

I'm also actually happy about WOTC going to all online content for DRAGON and Dungeon for the same reason. Much as I miss losing a little more shelf space every month with the print versions, I had the same trouble scanning and converting. Now it is just cut and paste and it couldn't be easier for me...though I have to remember to keep logging on to the website regularly to keep up!

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

What I've Been Doing Wrong

I made a resolution to re-read my DMG from cover to cover. It has been a very long time, probably 15 years since I did that. When you use a book like this only as a reference to check rules when problems arise, you begin to let some basics drop. You can't quite remember a rule and don't want to break up the flow of play by looking up the specifics when a ruling on the fly will work just as well...then the next time it comes up you remember the rule made on the fly and don't even think to look up the real rule...and that's how different campaigns get different feels...because they start having different rules without you even knowing it.

I've been surprised by some of the things I've been doing "wrong" for years as a result. Most of them my players would never notice. Some of them are actual rule changes I've made as house rules, and some of those with the player's consent.

We haven't been able to play in my world for a long time, too many IRL conflicts, and it looks like the next time we have a chance to play is March 22 or 23. I might actually be able to read the whole DMG and PH by then, in addition to session prep. Hope springs eternal.

Among the things I've been doing wrong, that I've discovered so far, is that I'd been assigning a speed factor of 3 to natural weapons like claws and bites. The DMG says they have no speed factor. A discover that is bad news for the players, but delights me! Of course, there is the optional table that assigns an initiative modifer to natural attacks by size of creature, and I'm contemplating that...tiny is 0, gargantuan is +12 to initiative, which is essentially assigning a speed factor to the entire creature, even though they say that natural attacks have no impact on speed. I think with this table, the segments added to your initiative roll for a medium creature is +6.

I don't think I'll use it, or if I do, I may modify it. My reasoning is, ff people, which are medium sized, don't have a +6 to their initiative roll in addition to the speed factors, then why should creatures with natural weapons? It seems to me it would have been better to have medium creatures be 0 and give incremental bonuses to smaller creatures and penalties to larger creatures, if you do it at all.

In other matters related to speed and combat, I also haven't been using the attack modifiers for magical weapons to also reduce speed factors. A +1 long sword not only hits better, it is faster by one than a normal long sword.

There are other things, and maybe if I sit and read with the lap top fired up, I'll list some more discoveries of fundamental things I've been doing wrong here...if I don't think it is too embarassing to do so!

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