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Ctrl+Alt+Del Meets Pathfinder Meets Batman

December 30th, 2012

I love this comic! It’s a great mash-up of console gaming, role playing (Pathfinder, specifically) and Batman. Go check it out. You’ll get a great chuckle, especially from the character sheet.


Unboxing Paizo/WizKids Miniatures

February 6th, 2012

Last week, I dropped a cool $400.00 on the Paizo/WizKids pre-painted miniatures. I picked up a case, a brick and 10 standard boosters. They arrived today, and I quickly went to unboxing them, sorting them and checking them out before my son woke up from his nap to “help” me. A four-year-old can only offer so much help. I wasn’t successful in getting them all put away before he woke up, but that was okay. He started picking them up (quite gently I might add) and inspecting each one. I think the “venomous snake” (it’s bright red) was his favorite because he played with that one the longest. I think the assortment of goblins I picked up are my favorite. They’re just so cute (in a menacing sort of way.) All-in-all, I managed to unbox, sort and put 115 new miniatures into my new fishing tackle box/bag with plenty of room to spare for future growth. I even took out the two miniature boxes that were currently working for me, and unpacked them, sorted them and put them away into the new fishing tackle box/bag thing I picked up at the local store’s sporting goods section.

One of the side pouches of the tackle box/bag thing even had enough room for my cardboard chits and markers for the various critters that I’ve bought in the past. Yeah. Now I have one more thing to carry to the game, but that’s okay. It’s going to be well worth it for the variety of PCs, NPCs, monsters and other stuff that goes into the new tackle box/bag thing.

I want to shout out to Bill at this point and thank him for suggesting a tackle box. I was looking at a variety of boxes and such designed specifically for carrying armies for the war-gamers and miniatures for the role-players. I was able to fit all of my goodies into one container for the low price of $29 instead of dropping $50 on something that may or may not have worked.

Feel free to click the images embedded in this post to embiggen them. The last one is especially cool, but the third one is the one I could barely take. I cracked open one of the bricks and found the little boxes inside. I could barely contain myself long enough to take the photo. I wanted to dig in and figure out what I had! I managed to snap the shot with little shaking of the hands and get it emailed to me from my cell phone before I dove into the box.

The quality of the miniatures is top-notch and the paint jobs (for being mass-produced) are excellent. I’m really thrilled with what I have. My next quest will be to figure out what numbers I have and don’t have, so I can build a complete set of 40. I figure out of 115 miniatures, I’m bound to have at least one of each! Right? Man, I hope so.

Here’s the shot of my new “army” of miniatures….


Free RPG Day: We Be Goblins (Pathfinder)

June 20th, 2011

Here’s the first review of Free RPG Day 2011 items. I’m not planning on doing them in any particular order. I’m just grabbing a book off the top of the pile and diving into the reading and reviewing.

The first review is of Paizo’s Pathfinder module entitled, “We Be Goblins!”

This module is a mix of Paranoia-style humor and fantasy role playing at its best. It pulls the players out of their comfort zones of being the standard fantasy fare heroes and turns them into potential champions of a small goblin tribe in the Brinestump Marsh just outside Sandpoint. With even a halfway decent GM, this short adventure (I’m guess that the run time would be 2-4 hours depending on how quickly combats are resolved) should be a hilarious endeavor.Free RPG Day 2011 -- Pathfinder: We Be Goblins

The artwork is well done, but the map could have been a little more clear on how to gain access from one level of the shipwreck to another. Like most Free RPG Day stuff, the adventure is pretty linear, but enough of the immediate area is described to allow for a little sandboxing to occur.

The thing I like best about this module is the four pregenerated characters. They’re well done with great descriptions and funny little songs that go with them.

The thing I like least about this module is that I cannot pick it up and run it by its lonesome. If I were to be handed this book, I’d also need the Pathfinder Core book and the Pathfinder Bestiary to complete the adventure. Sure, I could “wing it,” but to run the module properly, I need the supporting material. Many other Free RPG Day books at least give us enough to go on for rules and character stats and such to allow the book to stand alone. Of course, I said this about last year’s Paizo efforts. I guess they’re not listening to me. :) Honestly, if they had included the full stat block of each creature in the module, then this complaint would vanish.

Grade: A- / The module is hilarious, well written and engaging. The monster stat blocks missing drops the grade a bit.


RPG Superstar 2011: Didn’t Make The Cut

January 18th, 2011

I just found out that I didn’t make the cut for the top 32 wondrous items submitted to Paizo for their RPG Supertar 2011 competition. I’m partially bummed about this, and partially relieved. The only reason I have a little relief in my outlook is that each round will require more and more time to complete and do well in. It’s time that I could squeeze into my schedule, but I’m glad that it’s not a requirement anymore. I was truly worried about the time commitment and the lack of sleep that I would have to endure over the next couple of months.

Good luck to all 32 contestants in RPG Superstar 2011! I wish you the best of luck and greatest of rewards in the competition. I’ll be keeping a close eye on things from here on out.


RPG Superstar 2011 :: Round 1 Entry

December 26th, 2010

As of December 23th, I’m finally free and clear of a non-compete agreement that I had entered with some fellow RPG geeks that had formed Fluid Games LLC. We had worked on two books, but only one that I was involved in made it “to print” in PDF form. The title is “Ashen Sands of Aegandos Player’s Guide.” Before you ask, I never made it rich from my efforts. I actually never saw a dime since “costs” had to be covered before profit was to be split evenly between all involved parties. I’m pretty sure we never sold enough copies to cover our costs, but that’s how things go. I have no hard feelings toward any of the team. As a matter of fact, I have fond memories of the long design session, play testing, running the game four times in two days at a convention and so much more. My best memories are of the people that I worked with. We all had our areas of speciality, and we worked really well as a team.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Paizo’s RPG Superstar for 2011?

Since I’m free of the non-compete agreement with Fluid Games, I’m now available for entering the contest with Paizo. I just submitted my contest entry yesterday, so life is good. Let’s hope that I make it through to round 2, but that means that I’ll have to be one of the top 32 submissions out of hundreds (thousands?) that they’ll be receiving and judging. Let’s see how things go.

Oh. While I’m talking about being out from under the non-compete agreement… I can return to work on my own RPG that I had in the works before I joined forced with the folks at Fluid Games. Once I have more details that I’m willing to release, I’ll post some more here.


Pathfinder Review, Part 3 — The GM’s Portion

October 5th, 2009

I finished off the Pathfinder Core book while at lunch today. I was nearly done, so it didn’t take too long. This review is of the parts of the book designed for the GM.

Chapter 12: Gamemastering

This chapter gives great words of advice to anyone, new and old, on how to run a game. This includes proper preparation of a session, how to start a campaign, what to do during the game and some tips for higher level/power games. One of the most valuable parts of this chapter was the sidebar about keeping a campaign journal. They are invaluable to any GM that runs a long-term game.

Chapter 13: Environment

Holy cow! The folks at Paizo went all out on this one. There are 35 pages dedicated to all the types of terrain (indoors and out) that could possibly be found on the Material Plane. Sure, there are going to be some weird terrains and places in the outer or elemental planes, but if you’re running a game on an Earth-like planetoid, then I highly recommend this chapter… no matter what game system you’re running. There are some excellent details of terrain, environment, plant life and the difficulties and dangers found in the various terrains. My chief complaint about this chapter is that it is mostly fluff with a few rules scattered about in them. That makes it hard to find the rules.

Chapter 14: Creating NPCs

These 7 pages fell flat for me. I feel that if you’re going to dedicate a “chapter” (it’s in quotes because 7 pages does not a chapter make) to one of the most vital aspects of gaming then it should be at least 20 pages or more. Perhaps they are saving their real work for an “NPCs of Pathfinder” book down the road. If that’s the case, then I’m OK with it. However, the treatment they gave to NPCs was a little too brief. I guess it could be considered a launching pad of sorts, but it doesn’t have much of a runway to allow a new GM to get up to speed before taking flight.

Chapter 15: Magic Items

Like with the spells, I didn’t read every item. I just read the basic rules government magic items and skimmed most of them. I actually found myself reading the artifacts at the end of the magic item listing to see how things were changed or altered. I really liked what I saw in the few items I actually read through. Not much really changed in between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder other than some rules clarifications. What did change (at least in the writing) was more clarity in the magic item creation process. I thought WotC did a decent enough job with it in 3.0/3.5, but the Paizo folks cleared up a few of the finer points of the rules.

Appendices

The appendices of the book included information about abilities, bonuses, ability damage, level drain (which I really like they way they worked!), curses, poisons, and various special abilities that PCs, NPCs and monsters may have. Lastly, the book closed with the conditions appendix. I like the fact that this came last in the book. It’s so hard to remember which affliction does what, and having them in an easy-to-find location in the book is the best thing ever.

Index

A 4 page index closed out the book, and that’s a decent-sized index for a book of this weight. While scanning through the index, I found most every topic you could think of to look up. This is a good thing. It’s still no match for the quality of the indices that Steve Jackson puts in their GURPS books, but I think that’s because GURPS is a far more complex system and needs the support of a good index.

This closes out my review of Pathfinder. As the game that I’ll be in starts up over the next month or two, I’ll let you know how the system works in play. Thanks for listening… er… reading.


Pathfinder: Character Creation

September 28th, 2009

The six of us (5 players and 1 GM) got together Saturday night to create Pathfinder characters for the newly starting campaign. Usually, when we start a new game everyone comes to the table with an idea of what they want to play. In this case, only one player had a solid concept and the rest of us sat around the table staring at each other with blank looks. It took a while of leafing through the books, character traits PDF and player’s guide PDF before things started to gel.

I was trying to sit back and decide last because I wanted to create a character that would merge well with the rest of the group. I didn’t do that in the Rifts game, and it caused tons of contention between Eric and me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that option on Saturday. I had to help get the ball rolling. Kelly was waffling between playing a rogue or a paladin. I think she was hooking more into the paladin idea, but didn’t want to create a character that would be at odds with the rest of the group. At this point, the GM said that not all paladins have to be lawful good, but can match whatever alignment of another god if the player chose to do that. This freed up Kelly to lean stronger towards a paladin.

What finally tipped the balance was the fact that I told her that if she played a paladin, I would play a cleric of the same god. We settled on Abadar, the god of cities, wealth, merchants and law. We decided to focus on the wealth part since both of our characters were from wealthy families. Nat, at this point, picked up rogue as her class and decided to, I think, worship Abadar as well since she feels that he will help guide her character to the greatest wealth.

Once I chose cleric, Rhonda decided to dive into her ranger class choice now that she knew we had a healer. I think she wanted to play a front-line fighter all along, but was afraid of the lack of healing that would be coming her way.

In the end we ended up with:

  • Bill – The Gamemaster
  • Eric – Wizard (Conjurer specialty)
  • Rhonda – Ranger (Bow specialist)
  • Kelly – Paladin of Abadar
  • Nat – Rogue
  • Me – Cleric of Abadar

I don’t have a full character background written up just yet, but I’m working on it. I tend to do this with most of my characters. It helps me know them better. However, one thing I’m going to latch onto is the 1st edition AD&D cavalier ideal of having the best armor at all times. This doesn’t mean the best AC, but the best looking. That means that I’ll choose mundane full plateĀ  over half plate +4 because full plate just looks that much better.

As the game progresses, I’ll be giving a report of how things go. I probably won’t be doing a full campaign log, but my impressions of the game flow and how well the system works (or doesn’t).

As far as the quality of character creation goes in the Pathfinder system, I really like it. It’s quite simple and flows very well. Of course, I’m an experienced gamer, so this is usually true of most systems. However, I was reading the book from the eye of someone that had never played before, and I’m still impressed by the clarity of the rules and how well written everything is. This is definitely a game that could be tossed into the hands of a total newbie and they would be able to pick it up quickly if they had half a brain to work with.


Pathfinder Review, Part 2

September 25th, 2009
Pathfinder Core

Pathfinder Core

In my last review of Pathfinder, I covered chapters 1-8. This time, I’m just going to cover 9-11 because that is the last sections of the player portion of the book. Before I continue, though, I did want to point out something that I missed in my last review: the physical qualities of the book. The book is well bound with very high quality, thick paper. The printing is excellent and easy on the eyes, with a few rare exceptions. The fancy borders they put on all of the pages sometimes bleed into paragraphs, especially on the left-hand edge of the left-hand paper, which can make some words harder to discern. The usual “soda proof” glossy protection on the covers is also in place, which I’m very happy for. This glossy coating has saved a ton of my books in the past when an ill-timed mouthful of soda explosively merges with a well-timed hilarious joke or quip. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Now on to the rest of the player portion of the book.

Chapter 9 covered the basics of spell casting and the rules around how spells work. Again, the folks at Paizo did a wonderful job in clarifying rules, using images to depict exactly how spells work and making the whole process make more sense. I’ve been a role player for 26 years now, and these rules are some of the cleanest, easiest to read and most concise pieces of text I’ve ever read in an RPG. I think even the more junior members of my role playing group (and those adverse to reading the rules) will have a good time with this book.

Chapter 10 covered the spells. Did I read each and every spell description? No! There are 132 pages of spells! What I did, however, was to “spot check” the spell list. I started with the lists of spells at the beginning of the chapter. They are well put together and easy to read. The only problem I have with the list is the wizard/sorcerer spell lists are broken down by school before they alphabetized under each level. This makes quickly figuring out the level of a spell or skimming the spell list more difficult for people that are not used to how spells are broken down by school. I didn’t stumble through it much, but a total beginner will have a hard time knowing which school to look under for the spell he is trying to find.

For the several dozen spells (or so) that I read, the writing was well done and easy to understand. I came away from each spell listing with no questions about “What if?”, although I’m sure my group (and others) will come up with some that my brain is not. My only complaint about the detailed spell listings is the fact they chose to use a black background with off-white text for the spell name. While the black background clearly delineates one spell listing from the next, which is a good thing, it makes reading the text a little hard when you’re in a hurry. I don’t know of many people who casually read spell listings (though, I’m sure you’re out there.) Most of the time, a spell is being looked up in the heat of battle by both the player(s) and the GM at the same time in order to better remember how the spell works or to clarify some point. This means hasty skimming of the spell listings in search of a spell. The layout format Paizo chose for the spell titles inhibits this exercise just a slight bit. I know I’m being nit-picky, but when a product is as good as Pathfinder, you have to find something to gripe about, right?

Chapter 11 covered the prestige classes of the core Pathfinder system. These I did read thoroughly, and I am very impressed with the balance of the classes as a whole. Most of them are taken directly from 3.5 with some possible tweaks here and there with the exception of the Pathfinder Chronicler. This is an obvious addition to the list, and I feel it may be a bit overpowered as compared to the other prestige classes. Maybe this is just my first impression, and I could be wrong about that. The only way to know for sure is to talk someone into playing one of them. Heck, that someone might just be me. It all depends on what the rest of my group decides to do tomorrow night when it comes time to create characters.

This concludes the review of the player portion of the Pathfinder Core book. I’ll cover the GM portion of the book in its entirety early next week.


Pathfinder Review, Part 1

September 22nd, 2009
Pathfinder Core

Pathfinder Core

I just finished off my lunch hour reading chapters one through eight of the new Pathfinder Core book. This part of the book took me through character creation, races, classes, skills, feats, equipment, basic rules, combat rules and the miscellaneous bits of rules that are required for any RPG. I must say that I am quite impressed so far. The wide selection of powers, abilities, feats, skills and combat maneuvers is grand. My group is about to start a Pathfinder game, so I haven’t played any of the rules just yet, but they appear to be balanced and well written.

Paizo’s goal was to take D&D 3.5 and clean it up. They did an admirable job of doing so, and I can’t wait to see the game in action. The many things that D&D 3.5 did almost right has been nailed down and spit polished by the Paizo crew. While reading the rules, I could see how they would play out on the battle board quite well. They were easy to read, easy to understand and appear to be easy to implement in the game without slowing things down. Sure, we’re going to have to look up Bull Rush the first time someone does that action, but it will only slow the game down slightly as the rules explain how the maneuver works in clear and concise text.

I’m not sure, as of yet, which race/class/feat/skill combination I’m going to play. I’m leaning towards a rogue/wizard multiclass character. However, this time around, I’m going to let everyone else choose their character setups and then I’ll “fill in the blanks” of the party. Once we get rolling with the game, I’ll let you know which route I go and how it works out.

So far, I think my favorite part of the book is the feats section. I can see the progression of the feats as they build on one another, and each one brings something unique and powerful to the game. There are so many options, I can see three fighters being in one party, and none of them having the same abilities if the players choose to build their characters properly.

Good job, Paizo! Keep up the good work. I can’t wait to see the Bestiary when it hits the shelves.

As I make my way through the rest of the book, I’ll let you know what I think. Expect part 2 of this review in a day or three.


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