Thursday 24 February 2011

So why am I using D&D 3.0?

My friend JB asked me, quite politely, why it is I'm choosing 3.0:

From: ************
Subject: D&D 3.0
To: "Jonathan Hicks"
Date: Wednesday, 23 February, 2011, 22:59


Stop being stupid and going on about that crappy out of date system .....



If there's any mention of 3.0 Thursday night I'll introduce you to the greatness of my PRPG Core Rulebook ......via the back of ya head.



To which I responded:

Okay - here's the reason why I got the 3.0 stuff -

Twenty quid for all three books, and it's pretty much the same game as 3.5/PF. Pathfinder would set me back the better part of 35/40 quid with the bestiary being another 25/30 quid, and the 3.5 core books are roughly 40 quid PER BOOK! A lot of the Pathfinder is overpriced and I can't afford that and the updated 3.5 is holding it's price because it's compatible with Pathfinder, and anyway I'm enjoying the nostalgia of old D&D - I missed out on all that because AD&D 2nd ruined it for me.

There's that, and all the 3.0 supplememts are less then a tenner each - I got three books yesterday for a fiver! What I need right now is cheap and simple and that's what I'm getting from 3.0. It's the same game as 3.5 with a couple of tweaks, and I'm modifying the system to make it simpler, anyway, so any version I get will end up being streamlined and simplified so I may as well do that with the cheap 3.0.

So there you go - I'm old school, baby! I could duff you up with my three hardbacks and three detailed supplements and do more damage - for 25 quid!

Best Regards


*Dusts off hands* I rest my case, m'lud.

Monday 21 February 2011

Sometimes, I surprise even myself...

And, no, it really isn't that hard.

I'm going to hold up my hands and admit I made a mistake - my animosity towards AD&D 2nd Edition clouded my judgement and I allowed D&D 3.0 to pass me by with a dismissive wave of my hand. It's a really good game. I'm kind of looking forward to running it.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Friday 18 February 2011

Dungeons and Dragons 3.0

I never really enjoyed D&D after the 2nd Edition came out. I felt it was convoluted, overly complicated and uneccessarily detailed. I didn't really enjoy playing in the games I was invited to and I never even considered DMing it. In 1989 I gave up on D&D and lost myself in D6 Star Wars, WFRP and MERP.

So the whole 2nd edition explosion and subsequent collapse of TSR, the WotC D&D 3.0 and 3.5 passed me by, but in 2009 I was invited to play D&D 4th. I hadn't played D&D for 20 years so I figured what the hell - it won't kill me. It was fun, but once again I felt like there were lots of details in the game system that weren't needed. The cards and powers were just annoying and games felt like tactical simulations rather than roleplaying encounters. It just wasn't for me.

Last year I was asked to take part in a Pathfinder game. That was good, certainly better than D&D 4th, and I enjoyed it (all the way up to the TPK - damned electric iguanas!) and really liked the system. Then I was invited to another group to play D&D 3.5, which was very good. The DM stripped down the rules to her requirements and the game was less about the mechanics and more about the story she was trying to tell and the adventures she wanted us to have. That was my kind of game - rules light with plenty of roleplaying opportunities.

So, I figured, what could I do with it, a guy who hasn't touched D&D for twenty years? In fact, the last time I DM'd a D&D game must have been 1988 or thereabouts, just before Star Wars D6 took up most of my time. That's 23 years out of the D&D DM loop. I figured I'd start at the beginning and carry on from where I left off. I didn't want to get involved with 2nd edition again so I picked up the three core D&D 3.0 books and I've spent the last day going through them.

Honestly, it's a really good little game, much better than I figured it was going to be. It was highly adaptable and easy to absorb, and I can drop or change rules willy-nilly with very little effort. I'm even considering a gaming world now - my own Stormland from my free SKETCH system games on my website I'll make a few changes and add some monsters and races but the premise can remain the same and the players (and me!) can map as they travel. A solid, dark fantasy setting.

I know there were some changes made to the system in 3.5 and then Pathfinder but these mean little to me, to be honest, as I can make relevant changes myself. If they do spoil the gameplay then I might consider another purchase (probably Pathfinder and not the currently £40 a book 3.5) but right now I'm enjoying the system and the sense of nostalgia that D&D 3.0 is giving me. I'm looking forward to giving it a go.

I know a lot of gamers saw problems in 3.0 and, from what I understand, there is a sense that the books were rushed out before they were properly polished which contributed to these problems, but I'm not really seeing it. It's a pretty solid game and right now D&D 3.0 suits my approach to roleplaying well, primarily because I can modify the rules to suit me and especially now that I'm looking for more simplicity in a game.

Yeah, 'D&D' and 'simplicity'. Never thought I'd use those two words in the same sentence.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

New D&D Advertisements

Well... maybe not new...

More advertisements like this, please, in those little video ad things you get on public websites. And don't put them on existing RPG sites, dingleberry, put them on public sites where new gamers will see them.

In fact, sod it - take this advert and change the final product image to a newer edition of D&D. It's a start, at least.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

None Shall Pass!

I've been flicking through some of my RPG books recently and I was reminiscing about some of the games I've parted ways with. One of the games I sold was my original Red Box Basic D&D game and I regret that for two reasons - 1, it was a great little game and I get all teary-eyed and nostalgic sometimes for some classic gaming and 2, it was written in a style that eased new players into roleplaying games and didn't have them running for the hills because the rulebook seemed to be written in a different language and was so big you could beat someone to death with it.

And here lies my problem.

Rulebooks these days seem pretty impenetrable for the first-time or young gamer who's entering the hobby cold, that is without any kind of peer to help with explanations and examples. In fact, the whole hobby seems to be something of an enigma to those who don't know the game or haven't been involved with it for longer than a few years. I did a little digging by sticking the basics into a search engine, acting as if I was a new and interested gamer with no experience, and I was somewhat mystified by the results.

I got the basic details about roleplaying from Wikipedia - that much was sort of okay - and after sifting through computer and online roleplaying games I finally found some dedicated tabletop roleplaying websites. What I was greeted with was a whole mess of voices and opinions using words and phrases that, if I had been a new gamer, would have confused me straight away and possibly made me change my mind about getting into gaming, especially if I had been a (lot) younger and a bit shy. Lots of different posts from people, some of them vitriolic and confrontational filled with words and references I would have had no idea about. I don't want to surf the internet looking for translations or meanings, I just want to play a game and if I have to be made to work, or even seemingly earn, that privelige then what's the point? Gaming websites seem to cater to the experienced gamer and that will immediately put off new players as they don't want to seem like they're intruding and they don't want to look foolish.

Then there's the rulebooks. Some of them are somewhat accessible but otherwise they can be tomes of words that make no sense. They can be massive books filled with options and tables that have little meaning because the new gamer has no context. Sure, follow the rules as far as creating a character is concerned and learn the basics of dice-rolling, but how do you use it? The advice in some books can be cryptic and confusing as it doesn't talk about gaming in general but about gaming in that particular rulebook's world.

So, this is where I come back to basic D&D. It spoke to the new gamer as a kid, because it was kids that got this hobby fired up in the first place. Pre-teen and teenage kids who wanted to pretend to be warriors, wizards and elves. The books took them through everything, held their hand and explained it all in simple, kid-like terms. That's how I learned the game, and the only thing that made me nervous was sitting down for those first few games with other people. I didn't have these swathes of web pages making my head spin with words and phrases I didn't understand, or hundreds of experienced gamers telling how I should be playing a game of let's pretend.

I sometimes think that the RPG community is it's own worse enemy. They talk about the fading hobby but they spend so much time carping on about the minute details of their game using incomprehensible and sometimes offensive language that they don't realise that they're scaring away potential new gamers. We've managed to make the hobby this strange game in the shadows that people are afraid to approach because we simply make no sense - this was bad back in the 1980s when I joined in but the internet has only served to make that worse. How can we compete with the popularity and simplicity of MMORPGs and CRPGs if this is the case?

So this is what I miss. Simple, talk-to-them-like-children roleplaying games that ease gamers into the hobby with simple rules and long-winded explanations. A game that stands on it's own, like the different coloured boxes of Basic D&D.

Roleplaying games seem to be a dying breed and I have to wonder sometimes just who's fault that is.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

A bit-of-fun campaign - BRING BACK VENGER!

So he was diddled by teenage kids every other episode! That doesn't stop Venger being one of the class act bad guys of the 1980s - not only does he need respect, he needs to be resurrected as a proper full-on bad guy. You know, like Darth Vader used to be before it turned out he turned evil because he was a whiny teenager that nobody liked.

Back in the 1980s I wasn't only playing Dungeons and Dragons I was watching the cartoon, in which a bunch of kids get sucked through a portal at a fair ride and end up in a fantasy world where they are helped by Dungeon Master. Yeah... Well, the kids sucked, but Venger made his mark as a kick-ass bad guy.

The Facebook page linked on the right has been set up to promote the best cartoon bad guy EVER! That's right! He was even better than Megatron! And that prat in Battle of the Planets who built those crappy giant robots! Let's get Venger back out there! D&D modules! Adventures! T-shirts! Movie deals! I want frickin Venger Dancers doing high kicks with one horn sticking out of their Vegas headresses!

If we do this right there's money in this - girls, fame, deoderant ads and some such crap. REMEMBER VENGER!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Videos I've been perusing

I spend a bit of time on Youtube scanning the vids as there's always a gem or two hidden in the trash. The stuff I like the most is the home-made stuff that oozes creativity and imagination, and every now and then I'll stumble across official stuff that's not being crowed about too loud because the movie industry is crowing about their multi-million budget blockbuster much, much louder.

So, draw the curtains and butter your popcorn - it's movie time.

First of all, some Mitchell and Webb goodness.

THis Judge Dredd fan film, I think, looks amazing.

Now for some more 2000AD goodness - ABC Warriors and an amazing Slaine trailer.

Now there's this grown-up, gritty version of the D&D cartoon which is all levels of awesome bonkers.

Finally, there's this. Because I love it. This is part one, so click on the video for the next few parts. It's what happens to the player characters in a D&D game, and I love it.

Ah, Youtube. Constantly a source of inspiration. And shit.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Warhammer Airships

So I'm reading 'Retribution Falls' and it's a damn good book. Some of the imagery makes me think of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, for some reason, and this got me thinking about running more WFRP games but with a slight twist.

I'm imagining the Old World as it is in the normal games, especially with some of the imagery from the Warhammer Online Collectors Box book, but the main mode of transport is by airship. I got some inspiration from the Gotrek and Felix novel 'Daemonslayer' and some imagery I found on the interwebtubes

The one above I imagine to be some normal trader, plying their trade across the Old World as a private enterprise, with a small crew to keep things running. Some could be converted boats with gasbags above them, designed for air and water, and some could be purpose built or modified with a flat hull so that they could land anywhere. They would be expensive, so it's not done to destroy them or send them down, much like the attitude of mariners in the 18th/19th centuries - better to capture them intact as a prize instead of sending them burning to the ground.

The next one helps to illustrate a central town or city where many airships come and go like a busy airport. Places like Marienburg and Altdorf would be central areas of commerce and activity and there'd be huge towers for docking, landing fields for longer stays and giant hangars for repairs.

Then there'd be other countries vying for trade, travelling huge distances in massive airships designed for long-distance travel, equipped with all the luxuries that dignitaries and ambassadors expect.

Powered by gas and magic (hey - 'Gas and Magic' - that's a good campaign name) these machines are helped up by gases but held up by powerful sorcery, much like they're being flown by WH40K Navigators. Using the stats for boats in the WHFRP 1st Edition rulebook, this could work a treat. It'd be like science fiction free traders in the WFRP world, with flintlocks and cutlasses.

Hmmm. I might do some work on this.