Friday, February 28, 2014

[The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge] Day 14

Day 14: Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D? Does he or she still play? (Or just post a randomly generated monster in protest of Valentine's Day).

Guess I owe people a monster. You're getting a haunt instead.

The Massacre CR 14
XP 38,400
CE persistent haunt (70-ft. radius, 20-ft. high, encompassing a dead-end alley)
Caster Level 14th
Notice Perception 20 (to hear the rising twang of bowshots escalating to dying screams)
HP 63 Weakness susceptible to ranged attacks with bows or crossbows Trigger proximity; Reset one year (on the anniversary of the massacre, except on the day of the massacre the reset is 1 minute, if the haunt kills a victim within the last day, the reset time is one day)

On the approach to the old alley one notices the telltale signs of bloody violence, rusting quarrel bolts and arrowheads embedded into ancient stone walls depositing rudy stains dribbling from the crevices like caked blood. When the haunt triggers, the air is filled with the gray metallic blur of an arrow barrage. All creatures in the area are subjected to a scouring winds spell. The barrage bursts forth from the alley entry towards the back wall. A powerful wind (windstorm strength) drives creatures in the alley towards the dead-end as ghostly figures of the original massacre relive the event and share their torment with the living. Due to the surprise ambush of the original massacre, the haunt always acts first each round. Characters can take on the role of the aggressors and assassins by attacking and damaging the haunt with bows and crossbows. The spirits are infused into the wall with hardness 8, the haunt hit points are depleted first before the hit points of the wall. However, this enrages the doomed spirits and they retaliate with one arrow eruption spell each round if assaulted at range, duplicating the strongest attack and projectile used against them. Any creature killed by the haunt (either from the scouring winds or arrow eruption damage) experiences the same desperation and doom as the original victims. The newly deceased corpse is targeted by a phantasmal revenge spell with the corpse's killer treated as the nearest living creature in the alley. The spirit of the freshly slain blames those nearby for their demise and lashes out in rage. All living creatures in the alley can see the wrathful spirit rise from the newly slain, though only the nearest creature is targeted.

DestructionThe massacred spirits can be laid to rest if each of the original murderers or their descendants are brought to the haunted alley to face the same fate.

[The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge] Day 15 - 28

Day 15: What was the first edition you didn't enjoy. Why?

Disliked 4E, 'nuff said. Not for the rules, because I never played the game. I abstained from the game on principle of the foolish mega-RSE* they implemented for the Forgotten Realms. Some backwards ape-thinking went into the decision making there, and I say that with the risk of insulting apes everywhere. Apologies my primate brethren.

* RSE: Realms Shaking Event or Realms Shaking Event. Yes, this is an official acronym (actually an initialism) now eve adopted into official WotC blog posts by their designers. When that happens, you know there's too much company interjection of meta-plot into a property.

Day 16: Do you remember your first edition war? Did you win? ;)

I was around the game just in time for the 2E vs. 3E edition war. There was an edition war? Indeed.

Highlights include one 3E proselytizer who wanted to convert over, saying WotC hired mathematicians to balance the game mechanics. Right. Even if it were true, didn't help any. Not a knock on the 3E line, there's wonky stuff in each edition. I hung around the Planet ADnD forums at the time. Some of the old guard refused to switch from AD&D and made it known day in, day out. It was all good training for the 4E edition war, which made all edition wars before it look like a border skirmish. Ah, I love the sound of nerd-rage in the morning.

As for myself, I fell in the middle, stuck with 2E for a bit, not for holding the line, but because I hadn't purchased the 3E books yet. I've played in a mix of games over the last decade and change. No one really won that one, 3E is going strong, doubly so given Pathfinder. While 2E isn't a mainstay, there's enough overlap with the OSR to keep it going.

Day 17: First time you heard D&D was somehow "evil."

The internets. The "D&D is satan" reaction, fortunately, happened before my time and beyond my region (as far as I know).

Heard talk about going after Magic playing in schools, but it was due to distraction from academic work (which would be the true crime if this were a real reason to ban games) or some issues of trading (aka gambling) with cards. Nothing came of it at my school.

The same think happened to Pokemon, but you know those electric squirrel-monsters were up to no good.

Day 18: First gaming convention you ever attended.

Does I-Con count? Probably not. I did game with friends there, well, at their house. Come to think of it, we should do that more often, genre convention or not, but the band split into the surrounding states. Nowadays, the web provides the solution. Not the same, but good enough and has its own advantages.

Day 19: First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you.

In a long running L5R d20 PBeM game, one day a player (a good roleplayer too) brought up an OOC (Out of Character) commentary about how my character's name was ridiculous and he was going to interpret the kanji with a more fitting meaning. This initiated an echo chamber of fellow Nipponophiles 'hai'ing each other. Now I'm not remotely competent in Japanese, but I figured enough out at the time to know the name was silly.

Guess what? It was a code name my character used to stay incognito. He had a real more mundane, more realistic name he kept unmentioned to his party. The game never progressed enough for the big reveal. Fuck those guys.

I guess now I know how folks feel about Realms know-it-alls, but still doesn't excuse the criticism of the setting. Asshats have the potential to infest all games and setting.

Day 20: First non-D&D RPG you played.

Freeform. On another wavelength than D&D so we'll leave it at that.

Day 21: First time you sold some of your D&D books--for whatever reason.

Duplicates sold because I picked up a copy in better condition, probably from buying auction lots and collections of gaming junk.

Day 22: First D&D-based novel you ever read (Dragonlance Trilogy, Realms novels, etc.)

The Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy (which started the franchise), the Dragonlance Legends Trilogy (follow up featuring the Majere brothers and time travel), and the Dark Elf Trilogy of Forgotten Realms (featuring that Drow ranger guy) formed a cauldron of fantasy slurry consumed at a ravenous pace. They were enjoyable enough.

Day 23: First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

Nothing comes to mind, suppose that tells you something ... or something else.

There's music I think fits the bill. There's music reminiscent of the emotions, pains and victories, of characters in the game, or pieces that capture the fun and excitement of playing to a sufficient degree. Yet nothing screams "D&D" to me, only the moments and themes experienced playing the game and those vary widely enough. I guess D&D is bigger than one song. It has to be encompassing in order to be what it is.

Day 24: First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

Record of the Lodoss War. To this day remains more D&D than the D&D movies and most other franchises purported to have that D&D aesthetic. For all the harping about cliche stories of knights and dragons, there aren't too many movies with those elements in them, even prior to the Lord of the Rings. Movies with a D&D-like group of adventurers set up remain rare. The sword and sorcery movies from the 70s and 80s often focus on a singular hero and don't quite have the same vibe.

Day 25: Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in.

Not counting freeform ... Two Realms games and the above mentioned L5R d20 game. Only the Realms game remains, though the game in the homebrew is still technically around in some form just not active.

Day 26: Do you still game with the people who introduced you to the hobby?

Seeing as I introduced my group to the hobby and we learned as we went, I suppose I still game with me. Dude's a loser though, but don't tell him that. We just put up with him to be nice.

Day 27: If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first started gaming?

Probably would have gotten a better start, maybe attend a game run by more experienced players to get a better flow of things. When we started, we only had three people who wanted to play, meaning it was a DM with a party of two. Should have tried inviting more people to at least make it a 3-4 person dynamic. Towards college and the rare games we had while going to non-gaming, yet still geeky conventions, we played short sessions with around six players. Those were a blast. More like that.

Day 28: What is the single most important lesson you've learned from playing Dungeons & Dragons?

Whether edition wars or system schism, old school credentials versus new school innovation, dungeon crawls in sandbox campaigns versus role-play-heavy story-gaming, or whatever topic has seized the energy of online discourse, enjoy the game. Not so much a lesson as a wish for all to have fun.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

[The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge] Days 3 - 13

Day 3: First dungeon you explored as a PC or ran as a DM.

Whatever was in the 2E Fast Play rules. It's a modest starter 'cellar'.

It would've been unmemorable except Wil was the DM at the time. After we finished the adventure-as-written, we didn't much feel like following the end as stated. One successful find secret door check latter and Wil launched us into a large dungeon area that he created on the spot. He drew out on the map on some blank paper as we discovered more. He handled the game with impromptu skills worthy of any veteran game master.

* If I can find the notes and maps, provided they still exist (and since I have all our gaming stuff, they'd be in my possession), I see about posting them up.

I've had less successes behind the DM screen (we just used the DMG for a screen). Behind a computer screen running a PbP or PBeM works better for me.

Day 4: First dragon you slew (or some other powerful monster).

Dragons? Whoa, don't blow your fireballs all in one go.

We battled fairly 'mundane' critters like orcs, ogres and trolls for a good long while. Then dueled some evil humans equal to our level, a rival party if you will. Aren't those the best monsters? :}

We took out a fake beholder once. Oddly enough, in a recent game, the group also popped a fake beholder. The resemblance to scary Halloween balloons probably doesn't help their cred.

Day 5: First character to go from 1st level to 20th level (or highest possible level in a given edition).

Games usually tap out around level 10. One game we started at level 15 (figured give ourselves some room to improve). That game lead a short life.

Day 6: First character death. How did you handle it?

For my group, characters don't die so much as games fizzle without so much as a whimper. We jumped around from game to game and fell in and out of TTRPGs.

A few dozen characters exist in the stasis of limbo. Maybe they'll astral travel their way back to the world of the gaming, some day.

Day 7: First D&D Product you ever bought. Do you still have it?

Covered earlier (Days 1 & 2), the 2E core rulebooks. Still have them, still use them.

Day 8: First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?

A set of Chessex smokey marble, acquired from the internet. Later on we grabbed a Pound-o-Dice, also from some web seller. Still have all of them and used them whenever we get together for an actual tabletop face-to-face game (we haven't met since '07 or thereabouts). All my dice are digital now. There's probably a digital theme running through my responses.

Day 9: First campaign setting (homebrew or published) you played in.

A toss up between Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun. Dark Sun interested the other group members more so we spent more time exploring there, generally ignoring or forgetting the harsh rules of survival. We kind of treated it as a regular setting with a post-apocalyptic veneer.

Day 10: First gaming magazine you ever bought (Dragon, Dungeon, White Dwarf, etc.).

Started a Dragon subscription in the last years of the print magazine (during the Paizo run, which helped convert me to Pathfinder). I enjoyed them and miss receiving a regular gaming magazine in print. Kobold Quarterly helped fill the gap for a while and now Gygax magazine, but the jury is out on how closely the experiences match. Gygax magazine has more topic drift than Kobold Quarterly.

Day 11: First splatbook you begged your DM to approve.

Begging is unbecoming of a wannabe murderhobo.

Or if you want something you gotta work for it, either GM yourself or making a good persuasive argument for inclusion. There's always the possibility of re-flavoring some rule allowed into the same concept.

My group was into splats, never had a problem with them. For online games, there are so many choices that if I didn't like the limits of one I could always not join the game.

Day 12: First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?

Don't recall buying anything at a brick'n'mortar store. I've visited the few in my area. The online retailers and resellers still exist and continue to account for the majority of my gaming consumption supply, as well as Kickstarters, digital releases, and e-books.

I've even gotten someone to pick stuff up for me at GenCon, but we've never met. I feel like I live in a science fiction movie or I'm a patron of an illicit dark-net website arranging anonymous dead drops for my next gaming fix. I think the truth is a little of both and that ridiculous scenario noted above is already here.

Day 13: First miniature(s) you used for D&D.

Dice make good minis when you need a quick and dirty (especially with snack food residue on them) layout of where everyone is during a battle. Use different color dice of course. You can even turn them to the appropriate number face to denote spell effect durations.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

[The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge] Days 1 & 2

As the title (and event badge) says, there's a D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge happening as I type this. It's hosted by d20 Dark Ages, which has a list of the participating blogs (which I've tried to incorporate below) and some tips on how to join in and stay on course (it is a challenge after all).

Here's the list of topics for the month of February:

I'm always a sucker for these daily post prompting activities based around 'lite' topics. It's also a significant anniversary for the game, so for the sake of marking the occasion, why not.

And may D&D have many more anniversary and continue to inspire and help entertain many more fans and future players.


I'm technically late starting this already, but Saturdays aren't the freest days for me. As with all blog hops and challenges they always fall on the worst months (for me) as some sort of revving up for the usual disgorgement of exams and assignments, or other related obligations.

Knowing real life gets hectic starting mid-February, this one is going to be shaky, but trying is half the fun. Anyway, here goes --

Day 1: First Person who introduced you to D&D. Which edition? Your first character?

The first time I remember hearing about D&D was during junior high. I sat with the nerd-geeks during lunch time. The game of those hallowed tables was Magic: The Gathering. Here I learned to play by observation and played by vicarious experience. Never did buy into the hobby. At the time I was the kid with no income or allowance, it seemed an impossibly expensive hobby. Even years later when I had some spending money, I found out it is an expensive hobby (or could easily/often be).

As the geeks at the Magic table have a tendency towards all things geek and genre (gods bless them), one day my friend Andrew turned the conversation towards D&D (probably by way of a Lord of the Rings discussion). I had heard of D&D, but didn't actually know what D&D was. I don't remember Andrew explaining the game D&D either. He talked about the settings of D&D. Fascinating worlds. D&D had me hooked by way of settings from day one.

Day 2: First Person you introduced to D&D. Which edition? Their first character?

I didn't get to play D&D until a few years later, in high school. I was the one to suggest it to my band of friends looking for something to do on Friday afternoons besides video games and traditional board games (Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble). My first (partial) convert to the hobby was my friend Wil.

We started with the free AD&D 2nd Edition Fast Play rules downloading from the TSR website (thank you, mid-late '90s internet) and d6s looted from our Risk game. Quite sure by then TSR was nothing more than a preserved skin-suit worn by Wizards of the Coast (and Hasbro was lurking around looking to kill Wizards and take its stuff).

We played with the pre-generated characters from the fast play rules. I want to say I played Darkblade the ranger (love those mystic warrior archetypes, with a groovy name to boot), but as I distinctly recall using a two-handed sword, I was probably Elanna the fighter at some point or another. I probably also run the other characters, Niles the thief and Thaddeus the mage at least once.

First character I created was probably the Nameless Paladin (I suck at names, I liked the paladin class write up). He was nameless and characterless, just a collection of stats for monster ass kicking. honestly can't remember my friends' characters. We didn't stay in character. At best, we narrating what our characters did, if that much.

Characters didn't really matter at that point (there are times they don't matter even now, and that's the truth). It was mostly hack-n-slash dungeon crawl with some element of exploration.

We messed with the Fast Play rules for a bit, extending them with DIY recklessness (the best kind), until we ponied up more money to get used copies via eBay. Why eBay? We didn't even know where to buy them brick-n-mortar at the time and if we knew where, we also knew from the web they were expensive if purchased new. We found the black binding revised 2nd Edition for relatively cheap in a lot with some of the splats. Little did we know, 3E was on the horizon.

I 'inherited' all of our D&D stuff when we split for college. Those books and boxed sets form the seed of my gaming collection.