Another great author lost

Michael Crichton died recently (November 4th, 2008).

Although Mr. Crichton was not among my very favorite authors I enjoyed his work. I loved his "Jurassic Park" novel, and a friend gave me his book "State of Fear". I enjoyed the book and I liked how he put together credible (if fictional) arguments about global warming science.

I think by far his favorite novel I have read is "The Andromeda Strain". I read it the first time in junior high and re-read it in college.

Maybe I'll pick up "State of Fear" and give it another read, or buy "Next" the last book published before he died. One thing is certain - Mr. Critchton's books will sit on my bookshelf, waiting for my daughter to get to an age when I can start to share them with her.


NaNoWriMo 2008 Day 1 (posted a few days late)

I've decided to try something different for NaNoWriMo this year. I will not be able to commit to the grind of writing 1500 words per day. I have decided to try and write every day and to go through the steps in the package "Twenty-One Days to a Novel" by Michael Stackpole.
I don't want to give away too much of the contents of the package but Day ones exercise took about 45 minutes, although much of the time was given to the extra tasks as opposed to the primary task for the day. I've already read the beginning of tomorrows task and I think it will be an interesting and productive day 2.
I also re-installed Q10. I tried it last year but after losing close to 3000 words in a crash I quickly got rid of it. I am going to give it another try. So far it is working great. I am still tweaking the settings but several saves and no crashes yet.
writing time today: 87 minutes
word count today: 357 including blog entry



I like the concept of retraining from the players handbook. When you go up a level you not only learn new skill sand gain new powers you can also replace one of your old powers. Of course there are limitations, you can't replace a racial or class power - or drop a power that is a prerequisite for another power you have.

What you can do is drop a power you are no longer using or grab a prerequisite for a new power you want to try. The only thing I am not sure of is can you swap out one power, one feat, and one ability. Or, can you swap out one power, feat, or ability. My initial take is you can make one change per level but I am still looking for a explicit confirmation from the handbook.


No rolling for ability scores?

It is most likely my age showing but the first 2 methods for creating your ability scores don't involve dice. I can just here my inner cranky old man:

"In my day we rolled 3d6 for stats AND we assigned them in the order we rolled them, you young punks don't know how good you have it..."

I am going to give the new system a few tries and see how it works out but it just seems odd that new players will not use dice to get their ability scores. I understand the character balance issues, and the problems that a severely under or over powered character can create.

I can remember starting a new character. I would start with a character concept - lets say a over zealous cleric. Then I'd start rolling. 17, 14, 18... hey these are good enough numbers to be a paladin...

I am going to start by building a few characters, creating each one using all the methods in the PHB ans see how it turns out.


Players Handbook

I have finally gotten to the character creation process in the new players handbook. I like the layout of the new book but there is a lot of introductory information in the book. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. I kept skipping ahead but I forced myself to read all the text.

It might be that the content is just right but I am not a new player so it seems to be too much information explaining what a roleplaying game is and what a check is and how to make a skill check...

I would like to hear from a new player who reads this as their first introduction to a roleplaying game.



I signed up for a twitter account a few days ago. I have been following a few people via RSS for a while but I figured I would give it a try.

I am intrigued by the idea of a micro blog but I am not sure if I like it or not. I have had a tumblr account for a while but have not used it mainly because I can not get it to work from my phone. I have added twitterfox to my firefox install but will most likely remove it as it is too distracting. I get pulled away from what I am doing when I get a new twitter notification.

I wanted to use tumblr a while ago to start posting small posts with pictures but because I could not get the posts to work from my phone I just never got it started.

I am going to keep twitterfox for a two week period and then re-evaluate. I might start posting once a week in each just to see how it works.

Post Script: I think that twitter might be a good meetup tool. I post "I will be going to lunch at Bulgogi House on 83rd Ave at 12.30 pm". People I know could post "@papaganoush I will join you." I don't know how well that would work though.


The new campaign!

I am getting ready to set up for my new campaign. it is going to be a pretty lazy set up I will be using H1 pretty much out of the box. Hopfully I'll have the dates and time all set up by next week.


Starting the Players Handbook (PHB)

Okay I've gone over the H1 book and maps and I am comfortable with the content.

I will now start to digest the new Player Handbook. I am only a few pages in and I can already say I like the layout a lot better than the third edition version. I find it easier to read and the binding seems to be really well done.

I'll try to post some pics here once Blogger's latest upgrade is live.


The Fudge List... is gone

I received an email a week ago that the Fudge List was closing. I just read the post on the list closing by Carl and I have to say I think he really hit the nail on the head. Carl talks about how the list stagnated in the end.

I first found the Fudge List back in 1999 or 2000. I didn't post anything for the longest time but I really enjoyed reading the list and hearing all the different ideas on how do use Fudge to play different games. The list was a vibrant community.

In the end though I was frustrated by the conversations all taking sharp turns to the left and turning into discussions about the List rather than the game. As Carl has said maybe closing the list will lead to something new in the Fudge community. I am glad that I am part of the Fudge community. I am glad I was a member of the Fudge List. I hope that the Fudge community will burst forth from the closing of the Fudge List and become a vibrant community again.

Thanks Carl and Karen! Thanks Steffan and Ann and Rob and Fred. Thanks to all the people who shared their ideas. Thanks to all those hundreds of people who answered my questions and critiqued my ideas. Thanks to all the people who agreed with my ideas and thanks to all of those disagreed with my ideas too.

Fudge list archives


Movement in fourth edition

I like and dislike the new movement rules. I love the way they have been simplified. You can move 6 squares. Powers will allow you to move half your movement. You can "Shift" 1 square as a minor action. Certain powers will force you to run your movement +2 squares.

This is so much easier than the old systems, especially when you had several speeds. How far could you move and still attack?

So much better, but movement is listed in squares. Which leads to not only a table top representation being needed, but a table top with a grid on it. This I am not as happy with. Although I have already read a few posts online that playing with a pocket tape measure will allow the movement system to work without a grid.


Level 70!

My Druid hit level 70 in World of Warcraft this past weekend.

It was really cool and I got a sense of accomplishment from it but I have to say it was kind of anti-climatic. I was playing alone late at night and logged off once I had completed the level. I am pleased that I finally hit the max level (for now) in the game but I don't think that the time I spend in the game will really change. I am still "chasing" things but now instead of chasing XP I am chasing items and gold, lots and lots of gold - ad Motes of everything.

One thing I am really looking forward to is helping the lower level characters up the ladder to 70 as well.


And the renos begin...

Today the contractor starts work on the bathroom(s). I am looking forward to the finished product but the process of living in a construction zone is less than appealing.

We are going with a newer contractor but we looked at his work and it was very well done.

Maybe I'll figure out how to get Blogger to post pictures by the time this is finished.


Look something shiny!

I was really excited to see someone had built the new 4th Edition powers into printable cards. However, now that I am getting closer to actually playing i am thinking that although the power cards are three kinds of awesome i don't know if I want to use them.

The game is already going to be fairly reliant on a table top representation of the action, I don't want to add another aspect to the game that will reduce the game to a collectible card game (I play several CCG and TCG's I don't think they are bad but I don't want to change the RPG experience to a CCG).

maybe i'm over-reacting.


Julia Nunes


Julia Nunes rocks.

Go watch/listen to her.



A Typical Encounter

I like the layout of the new encounters. I've ready 95% of the H1: Keep on the Shadowfell adventure.

The layout for the encounters is:
Name of the Encounter
Encounter level (Expected XP)
Overview of the encounter. This includes how the encounter fits into the overall plot. Which included game aids to use. List of the enemies in the encounter. And setup for the encounter.

Features of the Area
Includes a description of the features that will affect the encounter like lighting and any features that might grant cover or concealment.

In the H1 booklet this also includes complete stat blocks for all the creatures in the encounter.

This is a breakdown of the tactics the author expects the opponents to use in the encounter.

There is also a side bar for many of the encounters that point out ways to deal with particular components of this encounter, like the lighting or whether one side of the encounter is surprised.

I have a love hate relationship with the Tactics section. I think it is a great idea but it also means that the DM can be reduced to cranking widgets. For a bought product the repetition of the monster stats in each encounter means i am getting less content for my money but I like that the monsters and opponents are all printed in the encounter where they are used. No flipping around or looking up stats during the encounter.

I am very curious if and how the layout will change for the H2 adventure.

Now that I have read through the adventure I am starting to see what Carl was talking about. There is one encounter that seems to be far higher level than the party would expect to be when the plot reaches that point.

I'll have to see how the encounter plays when we play the game next month.


Defense Values

One of my favorite additions in the fourth edition rules is the addition of multiple defense values, expanding the Armor Class and in sme ways replacing or reducing the need for a saving throw mechanic.

Before an effect would target a player and their only defense would be their armor class. This was modified to use a touch attack in the third edition and included my favorite weird wording rule the "ranged touch attack". Depending on the type of activity the target would then get a saving throw.

This sounded simple but could lead to several rolls and table lookups for a single activity.

Fourth edition simplifies this by adding three new defense types to the process. Now an attack might target the characters Armor class or target one of the new defense values Fortitude, Reflexes, or Will. So the same action will now require one role against the targets defense value. This is a small change that will greatly streamline the process while also reducing the accounting required by the DM.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a look at the new format for encounters in the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure.


Lego Indiana Jones

Just returned from Costco and picked up the new wii game Lego Indiana Jones.

As I mentioned earlier Lego Star Wars let me introduce the Star Wars universe to my daughter. Now I can share the pulp stories I love including Indy with her.

She is upstairs playing with her cousins now.

I am reminded of the stories Wil Wheaton tells about playing games with his kids. I love playing games with my daughter and these new games are opening up new stories that I can share with her as well.

Lego Star Wars and Daddy time

I recently picked up Lego Star Wars to play with my daughter. This was one of the best ideas I've had in a very long time.

This gave me the opportunity to introduce the Star Wars characters to my daughter. After playing several levels together she wanted to start her own game. I helped her set up her own and let her start the game all by herself. We still play together and I get called both to help her on the harder levels and asked to drop out of the game when I am "holding her back"

We have watched the original trilogy movies now. So far "A New Hope" is her favorite.

It have been an absolute joy for me to watch with her these movies that brought me such enjoyment nearly thirty years ago when I was her age. After playing the game - some of her comments watching the movies are truly priceless: "Why doesn't R2-D2 fly with his jets?"

I can't wait to watch the new trilogy with her.


Arena Football

Another Arena football season has ended (Congratulations to Jon Bon Jovi and the Philly Soul on taking the championship).

I was unable to watch many game though. Local coverage is almost non existent, and the league went from NBC - with almost a weekly game on local TV, to ABC - with a game on in week 1 and nothing until the arena bowl.

I tried the AFLNet program again, but the new free service never quite worked for me. I was only able to connect for a few games and the connection was not very reliable. I tried listening online to the EPSN2 radio coverage but almost every station blocked access to Canada. I tried regional radio coverage for the local teams but faced the same problems as the EPSN stations.

I asked a couple local sports establishments and they were in the same boat I was in unable to get the games on TV.

So although I really like the indoor game I will no doubt start to lose interest in the game as time moves forward and it becomes harder and harder for me to see the game live.


The fourth edition seems to really simplify the rules. The saving throw from the previous editions is gone. In its place is a new mechanic that will greatly reduce the record keeping required in the game.

Many effects will have the notation "save ends". This means that the effect lasts until the affected character rolls a successful saving throw. Unlike in previous editions the save does not take place at the time of the condition is placed on the character (whether the condition is placed by attack, ability, or other in game action). Saves always happen at the end of your turn. In place of the old "save on attack" method is different defense values that I'll talk about tomorrow.

So after you have taken all your action you get to roll a save for each condition affection your character in the order you choose. The mechanic is also greatly simplified, roll a d20 and if you roll 10 or higher you save, if you roll 9 or lower the condition stays in effect for another round.

This is going to really reduce the amount of paper work for the DM. The DM mearly has to mark teh effect on the character. At the end of the players turn if they save the effect is removed, if they fail it stays in effect. No more counting rounds, marking on whose turn the effect started (and consequently on which turn the effect will stop).

I think this is a huge improvement on the third edition save, which was a massive improvement over the classic saving throw tables from the basic and advanced D&D games.


Actions and action points

Remember when you used to play a cleric and you had a chance to finish the big bad guy but you didn't because if you did Bob the Fighter would have died from his wounds. So you cast your heal on Bob and forgo your attack for the round. The next round Bob smashes the bag guy, grabbing the glory as you mutter quietly to yourself.

Actions in the fourth edition make it possible for you to avoid this kind of situation. First each character can use three (3) actions* during their turn. A move action, and minor action and a standard action. So how can you and Bob keep Bob alive and slay the bad guy without the cleric giving up his shot at glory?

1. Bob can give up his standard action to heal himself with a healing surge (more on these another day).
2. Clerics can use certain healing abilities as a minor action so both you and Bob can both attack the bad guy.
3. You can attack the bad guy as a standard action and use an action point to heal the Fighter as a second standard action.

Action points are not really new to fourth edition but the coolness they add to the game can not be underestimated, allowing for heroic action sequences. Characters start with one action point and can earn them through game play. Don't hoard them though, when you rest you lose any unused action points and return to one action point.

So what kind of things can you do with an action?
A move action lets you move. Depending on where you start will determine how far you can move and whether or not you are going to give anyone an opportunity for a free attack.

A minor action lets you do all sorts of things. Drawing a weapon is a minor action, many at will abilities are minor actions. Healing Word for example is a minor action that allows you and one ally to both take a healing surge.

A standard action will let you make an attack use a skill and use many of the new abilities. The Clerical powers Turn Undead and Cure Light Wounds both use a standard action.

You can also take these action in whatever order you decide.

*There is also free actions, you can take as many free actions as the DM lets you take.


At Will abilities

Digging into the rules and I have found some things that I really like in the first day.

At will abilities are simply a great idea. I can not recall the number of times that as a mage or cleric I have been at the game table and cast my magic missile or cure minor wounds spell and found myself playing a background role for hte rest of the evening. The rarity of being able to cast that spell sometimes limited the mage and cleric to secondary roles as the action passed them by after they had used their daily power. Rogues and Fighters had abilities that you could use all the time. Fighters cutting into foes and Rogues sneaking about trying to catch an opponenet by surprise.

In the new rules evereybody gets at will abilities. So the Mage and Fighter can both bring a cool ability to bear each and every round.

That is all for today, tomorrow actions and action points.

Starblazer Adventures

The Starblazer Adventures RPG is now available for purchase as a PDF. This is the first RPG book that will list me in the credits. You can get some more information on the game at Cubicle 7.

You should go buy one or two (I don't get a cut of sales). You can get it at RPGNow.


Return of the blog...

Well its been almost a year since my last post. I really lost the passion for writing on my blog after my vacation last year.

However, after a long time off I am ready to start again. I picked up the new gift set of Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition and I am really excited about gaming again. I have a full table for a planned game.

I will be running the H1: Keep on the Shadowfell adventure as written and using only the core books. Once that adventure is done I might buy the Eberron campaign setting if the group is interested in the "steam punk" feel of the setting.

I'll post more as I get through the books and start the sessions.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.