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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Role-Playing Games

Radio Active #71: Summer's End

by Ken Newquist / September 15, 2008

Logo: Nuketown Radio Active

Summer's over and Nuketown Radio Active's back in the saddle as I talk about a different kind of game day, dodge a bullet with a crashed hard drive, get ready for a Western-themed NukemCon 2008.

My promised review of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has been bumped to Radio Active #72, and instead I talk a little about the challenges of reviewing the game, and what my gaming group's decided to do with the new edition.

Reboot your game with Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

by Ken Newquist / September 14, 2008

There's an old Star Trek acronym called "IDIC", which stands for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations". Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition was all about IDIC, with infinite combinations of characters played out across thousands of campaigns and dozens of different game systems.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is about FDFC -- Finite Diversity in Finite Combinations. It's about focusing the game on a certain style of play, making it faster, easier and more streamlined, but at the cost of limiting player options.

The 30-level Sweet Spot

The goals of 4th Edition have been articulated many times by its designers.
They wanted to expand D&D's sweet spot -- the happy place where rules complexity balanced perfectly against ease to play from the 5th-12th level of 3E to 1st to 30th in 4E.

Game Day: Shoot'em, Nuke'em

by Ken Newquist / September 12, 2008

 Deadlands ReloadedNuke(m)Con is coming back with guns blazing. After a one-year hiatus, my gaming group's homegrown convention returns September 19-21 with a slate of western-themed role-playing games.

We'll be playing Serenity, Dogs in the Vineyard, Aces & Eights and Deadlands: Reloaded. We're also running two high level Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 adventures on Friday and Saturday. During these adventures, which will involve two tables being run concurrently with two DMs, the Blackrazor Guild "A Team" will be launching a strike against Turrosh Mak, the Despot of the Orcish Empire. Character levels will run from 15th to 21st, which will make it one hell of a challenge for both players and DMs. It also represents the first time in a long while that some of the oldest characters in the campaign have seen play, so it should be a blast.

The Art of the Lunchtime Gaming

by Ken Newquist / September 9, 2008

One of the things I've always envied about the folks working at Wizards of the Coast is their ability to have a lunch-time game. In thinking about it, the single biggest challenge in running a lunch game is not time, but players. If you can find enough co-workers to get a game together, then time management, rather than time, becomes the challenge.

So the question becomes ... how do you run a game in only an hour?

Mike Mearls has discussed his lunch games in the past on the D&D podcast, and his approach is to basically run it as a series of one-shot scenarios. It sounds a lot like a glorified miniatures game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing ... but not quite what i"m looking for. Incidentally, you can read about his lunchtime OD&D game here.

I figure you've got about 45 minutes of actual game time during a lunch session. I'd want a game that's got a good mix of role-playing and combat, allocating perhaps 15 to 20 minutes for each, with about five minutes of wiggle room. Two sessions a week seems reasonable, say on a Tuesday and Thursday. That'd give you a total of about 1.5-2 hours of gaming a week, which isn't huge, but if it's consistent you could get a nice, fast-moving campaign ot of it.

RPG Review Digest: Forgotten Realms, Battlestar Galactica, LOT5R

by Ken Newquist / September 7, 2008

Since I mentioned last week that I thought the RPG blogging community should do more reviews, I thought it might be a good idea to follow-up on that and see what's available this week. It turns out it's a good week for reviews, with a slew having been posted for the new D&D 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign book. There are also reviews of the new 4E DM screen, a Legend of the Five Rings source book, and the Battlestar Galactica RPG.

I also came across the blog post "Where To Get You Some RPG Reviews", which runs down the best places to find role-playing game reviews on the web.

Asgard Project: High-level D&D 3.5 Playtest #1

by Ken Newquist / September 6, 2008

Rather than just complain about how difficult high level combat is in D&D 3.5, my gaming group's decided to do something about it. We've created a playtest group who's willing to put in the extra effort it takes to play a high level game ... and to figure out what, if anything, we can do to make the process work better.

Freedom City Atlas: Pyramid Plaza

by Ken Newquist / September 3, 2008

Superheroes need tall buildings to leap in a single bound ... not to mention needing them to serve as backdrops for battles, penthouse homes for their mild-mannered millionaire personas, and possibly even secret lairs.

Freedom City's Pyramid Plaza offers almost all this, and its entry in the Freedom City Atlas provides everything GMs need to incorporate it into their Mutants & Masterminds games.

Shake-and-Bake Skyscrapers

Observations on High Heroic Tier Game Play in D&D 4E

by Ken Newquist / September 3, 2008

We ran our last D&D 4E session on Friday, concluding the playtest campaign that ran all summer. Since this was our last hurrah (at least for a while) we decided to level our characters up from 2nd to 9th level to see how they played.

Here are a few random observations that popped up during the game.

Gamers Need More Game Reviews!

by Ken Newquist / September 1, 2008

The RPG Bloggers Network has been a tremendous success, sparking plenty of cross-blog traffic and comments. I’ve read lots of great articles and discovered a bunch of new sites, but I think there’s one area where the community can improve: game reviews.

Simply put, there aren’t enough of them. There’s plenty of speculation, analysis and debate but there aren’t nearly enough reviews (or, if they are there, they are quickly lost among the flurry of other posts). The RPG Bloggers guys are working on improvements to bring order to the chaos by adding new categories, but even then I think there will be a need for bloggers to knuckle down and review games.

I have as much work to do as anyone else. It shocked me earlier this week when I looked at my own RPG reviews category and discovered that five months had passed between my Battlestar Galactica RPG review and my new one for Star Wars: Threats of the Galaxy. Now granted, my sense of what I’ve written is distorted by all the writing I do for SCIFI, and I’ve certainly posted a bunch of quasi-reviews in the form of playtest reports, but still … there need to be more.

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