After braving the rings of fire, the digital quicksand, and the firewall of eternity, I managed to download a copy of the D&D Next playtest. Unpacking the zip file and looking over the files, I had to smile. There was the cleric of Pelor. And a cleric of Moradin. A high elf wizard. A dungeon called "Caves of Chaos".
A strong wave of nostalgia hit me, bringing with it memories of cracking open an ancient Red Boxed set and finding a module called "B2 Keep of the Borderlands" inside. A thousand memories of my Greyhawk campaign came rushing forward, carrying names like Kalib, Scrappy, Merwyn, Tanevier, Obsidian Bay and the Cult of Death Undying.
And all that was without opening the PDFs.
The Dragon Age RPG intrigues me. With a lightweight rules system, mana pool-based magic, and a killer background setting, it seems like the sort of game that could help pull me back into fantasy role-playing. After spending a night learning more about the game for a Knights of the Dinner Table column, I decided to order the game. It arrived Saturday afternoon, and I wasted no time in getting to the unboxing.
When it comes to western-style Computer RPGs, the single best designers around have to be Bioware. They created the fantastic high magic, D&D-spawned Balder's Gate, the Star Wars-themed Knights of the Old Republic, the Oriental adventure Jade Empire and the space opera Mass Effect.
This fall they're returning to their fantasy roots with Dragon Age: Origins, a surprisingly blood-drenched sword-and-sorcery RPG. I say "surprisingly" because although my friends have been talking about it for months, I hadn't actually gone looking for any of the promotional videos. After being approached about reviewing the game at Nuketown, I decided to go and browse YouTube for Dragon Age: Origins videos, and found a small horde of them.
At Origins 2009 I had the pleasure of playing in an Introduction to HackMaster Basic session run by Steve Johansson, one of the designers (Dave Kenzer, another designer, was running the other table). Full disclosure: I'm a staff writer for Knights of the Dinner Table but when it comes to HackMaster I'm as much newbie as anyone else.
HackMaster Basic ($19.99, Kenzer & Co.) is a new beginning for HackMaster; the first edition of the game was based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with a number of supplementary (and often humerous) mechanics tagged on. After losing the D&D 1E license , KenzerCo decided to reboot HackMaster with their own game engine.
The end result, featured in HackMaster Basic, is a mix of old and new. It's touted as being the very best in old school gaming, but in truth it manages to sneak in a number of innovations into the old beast. The end result is something that I think could work for a lot of folks who enjoyed the older editions of D&D, but are looking to mix up their games.
My gaming group held our first 4th edition playtest this week, pitting a group of first-level characters against a wandering band of goblins. The battle took place among a couple of low hills, with the adventurers surprising a band of goblins eating roasted dog around a guttering campfire. There was no role-playing component to the encounter; this was strictly a mechanical test.
Setting up the Skirmish
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is upon us. I've spent last two weeks or so readying through the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition core rule books, and my gaming group had our first character creation session two weeks ago.
Ok, maybe "love" isn't the right word. "Tolerate" might be better, but the sentiment is the same: for the first time in months, I'm looking forward to my gaming group's playtest of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition.
First, some background. My gaming group's been together for 12 years and we've played in the World of Greyhawk that entire time. We've had a bunch of different campaigns, adventuring in our home grown city of Obsidian Bay, dealing with the rising threat of the Temple of Elemental Evil, and liberating the Grand Duchy of Geoff from the giant menace, but all that time we were in Greyhawk.
So yeah, our gaming group has some serious history.
D&D 4E is upon us ... and I've created my first character for the game. If I’ve learned one thing about the game in doing this, it’s that the 4E's mechanics don’t fit easily into the old fantasy molds. To that end, I’ve been building out my own 4E campaign setting called Planetorn (detailed in a previous "Game Theory" post), in which a terrible war is ripping through the planes, destroying worlds and tearing people from their realities.
Field General Zhoran is the first 4E character I’ve created for this setting, but he’s not the first character for the campaign setting: that honor belongs to Zilanderan the Second, the Book of Nine Swords swordmage I created for our D&D 3.x campaign.