Radio Active #72 contememplates the best way to organize a geeky bookshelf, takes another turn at chess with kids, finds out that Neutron Lad has a lot to talk about, asks questions about Nuketown's long-dormant RADIATIONS newsletter and finally reviews Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, the latest edition of the venerable role-playing game by Wizards of the Coast.
I slacked on my own game review duties at Nuketown this week (though I did pitch a review to a new market) but thankfully others remained on the ball, yielding a number of new reviews.
There are two more Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition reviews out this week. The Geek Gazette offers some initial thoughts on the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and rants about the necessity of buying both a campaign guide and a player's guide. This is undoubtedly great for WotC's bottom line, he argues, but no so great for players.
My understanding is that Wizards is scaling back its campaign offerings, so these may be the only two FR books you get this year. I have to think they'll publish additional Forgotten Realms source books in 2009, but at the same time they've been pretty upfront about releasing books for one campaign setting a year (FR this year, Eberron next, maybe Dark Sun after that).
I think the bigger question could end up being not "is this too much?" but "is it enough?"
RPG.net has a favorable review of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Reviewer Eric Christian Berg liked the ease of building encounters and the dynamic nature of combat.
As my group's D&D Dark City campaign winds down, the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game is ramping up. This week sees the group off because of a combination of family colds and Celtic Fest (which, given the rainy weekend forecast, will likely result in more colds, but I digress) but we've spent last few days thrashing out the KOTOR campaign.
Prepping for my "Unification Day" adventure for the Serenity Role-Playing Game at Nuke(m)Con 2008 sent me wandering the web for inspiration, references and shortcuts.
Unfortunately, the official Serenity web site at http://www.serenity-rpg.com is dead, but it seems Margaret Weis Productions is working on moving material from the old site to their new one. The most important of these is the PDF of the Official Serenity Character Sheet. The site also has news on the new Serenity Adventures book, which features a number of related scenarios for the game. The PDF is available now, the print version will hopefully be out soon.
The official site is down, but the unofficial one at FireflyRPG.com may be the next best thing. It's got a beautiful poster map of the Serenity solar system, 3D renderings of ground and air vehicles, weapon reference cards, and deck plans for 28 different ships. There are also two rules quick reference sheets, but unfortunately during the playtest I found they had too many house rules to be useful.
Like a twister carving its way through a Midwestern cornfield, Nuke(m)Con has come and gone. My gaming group held its annual (well, almost annual) home-grown convention over the weekend. In a break from previous years, which typically saw a mix of Dungeons & Dragons and board games, this year's Nuke(m)Con had a western theme.
Last week's surge of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition reviews has abated, but there's a few new ones out there. What I find interesting about the reviews that are coming out now is that folks have had a chance to digest and (more importantly) play the game. As a result, people are getting past the surface reactions to 4E ("oh my god! it's a paper MMORPG!", "oh my god, it's so much better than sliced bread it's like it went back in time, and became sliced bread!!!") and starting to get into actual play issues.
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.
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
- Published by: Wizards of the Coast
- Player's Handbook
- Dungeon Master's Guide
- Monster Manual
- Listen to the audio version of this review in Radio Active #72.
- Buy it from Amazon.com
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.
Nuke(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.
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.