Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blogger Upgrade

I noticed that there is a message at the top of my Blogger Dashboard when I signed on today that the Blogger interface is changing in April. Has anyone done this yet?

Is this anything like the updated interface that I found so horrible last year that I reverted back to the old interface?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Barrowmaze Review

My hardcover copy of Barrowmaze arrived on Saturday. I skimmed through it Saturday evening and a more detailed read on Sunday. My decision to get the hardcover was probably over-kill for a 84-page book, but I like things to last and the glossy finish should repel spilled liquids better than a soft-cover book. The layout and typesetting reminded me of the module Keep on the Borderlands. Monster names are listed in bold, making it stand out better, and the names of magic items are italicized.

The book is written by Greg Gillespie of the Discourse and Dragons blog. It details a sprawling megadungeon of burial crypts and tombs beneath a series of burial mounds in a swampy region. There are 188 keyed areas on the maps, but many rooms are subdivided into numerous crypts, thus there are way more than 188 rooms.

The book contains several new magic items, two new spells, several new monsters which have artwork and stats at the back of the book, random tables to flesh out details of the dungeon, some pregen henchmen and hirelings and PCs as well.

The artwork throughout the book is done in the old school style, and it compliments the setting of the book very well.

Being that the dungeon is set in burial crypts, there are A LOT of undead here. Players running Cleric characters should shine brightly here, but they will find their Turn Undead abilities slightly hampered due to the influence of several cults of evil death dieties. There are several new undead monsters that will throw a few curve-balls at experienced players. That is not to say that all the monsters in the dungeon are undead, however.

One aspect of the exploration and plundering of the burial crypts is that many rooms have burial alcoves and niches set into the walls. It takes time to search them, and well you should, for there can be treasure to be found. The risk is that you may have a random encounter with a wandering monster the longer it takes to search. There is a simple system presented on how many of these alcoves can be searched before a encounter check is made. If there is treasure, it is listed, but as a sum total. This gave me the impression that everything must be searched to get all the treasure listed, but nowhere is it explained how much of that treasure you get if say you only searched half or a quarter of the alcoves.

Besides this minor quibble, I liked the adventure and hope to run it soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Map of Nerath: The setting D&D 5E should focus on.

When 4E came out, there was a "Points of Light" style world in the back of the DM's Guide which was set in a place called the Nentir Vale. This location was the focus of many of 4E's early adventure modules (i.e. Keep on the Shadowfell, Thunderspire Labyrinth, Hammerfast, Trollhaunt Warrens etc.,). The Nentir Vale was detailed just enough to give you a sense of the place and there was room for any DM to develop it further.

I liked the setting and ran a short-lived campaign there using 4th edition before I just got sick of all the rules errata horse-shit and the switch by WoTC to their On-line Character Builder. I cancelled my DDI account and abandoned 4E shortly after in favor of Castles and Crusades.

With the release of the "Dungeon Master's Kit" by WoTC, there were more details included about the small Barony of Harkenwold in the southeast corner of the Nentir Vale. A few adventures were included in the Kit set in the Barony, focused on an invasion by an evil group of marauders known as the Iron Circle. The PCs were to help organize a resistance group and seek out allies and resources to fight against the invaders.

With the release of the board-game "Conquest of Nerath" by WoTC, it shows what the rest of the world looks like. And it's a pretty sweet map. Now that we have a better picture of what that world looks like, this should be the setting that D&D 5E (or D&D Next) should set the game on. I got the impression that WoTC was going to support the Forgotten Realms with this new edition.

I say that's a mistake. Why? Because they nuked the Forgotten Realms the last time they released a new edition of the game in order to shoe-horn an explanation of why the game mechanics were different from the previous edition. That was just dumb and it left a lot of FR fans angry.

You can't disappoint fans of a beloved existing setting if you launch a new one with the release of a new edition of the game. Just think of all the setting splat-books you can publish for the new world....

Below is a map of the board-game "Conquest of Nerath"


I've added a shaded square to the map in the upper left portion of the map which represents a 110 square mile area. This was figured by eye-balling the map and comparing the scale shown of the Nentir Vale in the 4E DM's Guide. So, this should give you a sense of scale.

I'm not really interested in the new edition of D&D. I did like the Nentir Vale setting and I'm just thinking out loud that they should develop it more for the new game. But going back to the well which is Forgotten Realms? The well that WoTC poisoned? That's just dumb.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The OSR is not represented in Orange County

I'm a member of a local D&D Meetup which is not very active, unfortunately. There was a poll posted on February 12th, asking "If you are a DM, What Edition of D&D do you DM?"

Out of 56 members, only 12 have responded.

3 members would prefer to play
9 members prefer to DM.

Out of the 9 DMs, 4 of them DM 3.0/3.5.D&D/Pathfinder, 4 DM 4th Edition and 1 DM's (which is me!)a Retro-clone.

How sad is that?

It would be interesting if the re-release of the AD&D books in April will have an impact on getting new people to play the older versions of the game.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Arrived! The Fiend Folio

I got my Fiend Folio today from Ebay. It's in good condition although the pages have a funky earthy smell, like as if it was buried in dirt. I wonder if rubbing a Bounce sheet on the pages will get rid of the smell? I'll have to try it later.

I used to own this book back in the day, but it was tossed for some reason or another. Stupid me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

[Gaming Aid] City Maps

I found this site today while looking for maps of archipelagos. The artist, Emily Garfield makes hand-drawn maps of cities and it might be useful as a gaming aid if you are stuck with making a city map of your own. Enjoy!

It's Hot

It just turned Summer all of a sudden here in California. Temps are in the 80's!! What happened to Spring? My sweet cool Spring? I hope this is just an anomaly.

I have the air conditioning going and a room fan on and it's 82 degrees in the house. WTF? Ugh.