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AICN Tabletop: FREE RPG DAY IS TOMORROW! And Massawyrm shares his picks of the litter!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. Well, it’s a big weekend for the RPG industry. FREE RPG DAY! And for those of you casual readers who check this column out with any frequency thinking to yourself “You know, maybe I’ll try one of these games some day” that day is tomorrow, Saturday June 21st. Free RPG Day. Much like its predecessor Free Comic Day, it is a day when the lions of the industry (and a few smaller presses) all send out free, smaller versions of their most popular lines to give folks a chance to check them out. Participating FLGS (Friendly Local Game Stores) will be giving these out (while supplies last) as well as running many of the games they receive. But it’s on a first come first serve basis, and each store will have different criteria for how they’ll give them out – so be sure to call your FLGS in order to find out when and how these will be made available. Some may be one to a customer, while others may require you to play in the demo of the game you’re getting. Others still might be throwing them at passers by just to get them out of their store. You just don’t know. What you do know (or what you will know very soon) is what they’re giving out and what’s worth grabbing. I got a stack of these last week and have been sifting through them to find the real gems. And here are the ones that particularly stand out from the pack: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 4E: TREASURE OF TALON PASS This no doubt will be the most sought after item of the Free RPG Lot, and not just because of the popularity of D&D. Treasure of Talon Pass is a complete module, very 1st ed in feel while serving as a perfect example of how to build a 4E adventure. But what sets it apart from everything else is that it comes with goodies. The flashiest of the lot, this sports a snazzy new mini from next month’s Against The Giants release – the Lurking Wraith, a cool wraith made of blue transparent plastic – and a tile set that is compatible with their current tile sets and can be used to play the adventure on. The adventure itself is pretty standard, but cool nonetheless. It’s got the whole gamut of monsters you’d expect from a D&D adventure: kobolds, wizards, dragons, and orcs. But it also offers stats for two new creatures: a new lvl 2 Minion, the Pack Zombie, and one of my favorite playtest monsters which sadly found itself deleted for space from the MM, the Arbalester, a lvl 4 artillery Homunculus that fires crossbow bolts. There are ten encounters, so don’t expect to be able to sit down and knock this out in one sitting unless you pull a marathon session. My only complaint about the module is that it comes with a new magic item which is either poorly worded or carelessly broken. It’s a new neck item that in addition to its standard abilities, comes with a daily power that reads: Until the end of the encounter, any creature that hits you with a melee attack takes 1d6 damage. Now, if the effect ends as soon as it deals damage, that’s cool. A mighty fine magic item in addition to its other abilities. If it doesn’t however, and it is played as written, they’ve created a minion killing machine that, if placed on the parties defender, can dole out 10d6-20d6 damage in a single fight. As a 3rd lvl magic item. Yeah, just a little cautionary heads up to you DMs hoping to run this adventure. I’d run it the first way myself. But yeah, grab this module if and when you find it. It’s a keeper. HUNTER: THE VIGIL The second most anticipated game of Free RPG Day, this is an advance look at the Hunter: the Reckoning reboot for the new World of Darkness. For those unfamiliar with it, it was the game about normal humans who hunted down the evil creatures in the games Vampire: the Masquerade, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Mage: the Ascension, etc. The problem with the original game was two fold. The first was that these NORMAL people were supernatural creatures in their own right and had a bizarre array of powers which simply made it a more violent, less political version of the other games. The second was that most players who played were absorbed with the fantastic fluff of the WoD universe, and already knew the secrets that should be kept hidden from players of a game like this. It’s kind of hard to be suspenseful when you have a player that takes one look at a crime scene and says “This must be the work of a Tremere using Thaumaturgy.” This new version, at the very least, seems to be dealing with the first problem. All of the pregenerated characters in the adventure are normal humans. No wacky powers, no divine flames of god, no crazed devout weirdness. Just people who know more than they should and are lashing out at the monsters of the night. It has a very Call of Cthulhu without being so ominous and depressing. It also introduces new creatures, and hopefully they will follow suit with new monsters that you can seed throughout your game without seasoned players being able to Scooby Doo the mystery in the first act. This game seems pretty fun, and I’m hoping to run it next week for some friends. All the rules you need to play this adventure accompany the booklet and it comes with 5 pregens – enough for 6 people to play. PATHFINDER: REVENGE OF THE KOBOLD KING Not quite yet ready for the new PATHFINDER RPG (a new modified version of D&D 3.5, already being dubbed 3.75 by fans) this is a classic module for the aforementioned D&D 3.5. It serves two purposes. 1) to introduce players to the wonderful Pathfinder series and 2) to give pathfinder fans a small module in between two of the already released modules. This is a sequel to Crown of the Kobold King but doesn’t require it to play. It’s an adventure for 4 5th lvl characters and while it is one of the most slender of the picks, it is also one of the only full color modules of the day. The art is gorgeous, everything you’ve come to expect from Paizo, so those still playing 3.5, or eager to convert modules to 4E will find a lot to like. But since it requires the rules from a now unsupported system, this one is pretty much going to be for experienced players only. TRAVELLER BOOK ZERO A throwback to the golden age of role playing games, Traveller was one of the greatest science fiction games there was. Well, Mongoose is resurrecting the old girl in fine style and offering this introductory book to get you started. As far as art is concerned, it is fairly bare bones – 4 pieces in all of 32 pages – but it is pretty dense overall. The upside to this book is that it has all the basic rules you need to play. I mean ALL of them. While not all the options are available for character creation, all of the rules are present. And it looks like if you pick up the game, this demo book serves as a handy players reference rulebook to keep on hand. The only real downside is that there is ZERO fluff explaining the universe or setting and NO ADVENTURE. This appears to be the only free RPG that is all rules and no play. If you’ve got old Traveller books or want to pick so up from a used bookstore, this could be a great way to try this out. But otherwise, I think this free release won’t do much to lure in new fans. A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Another in the wide array of fantasy RPGs, Song of Ice and Fire earned a place on my list because it really is moving in a very different direction from the others. This game isn’t modular. It is setting driven, based upon the best-selling book series by George R.R. Martin. There’s no magic to speak of, no dragons (anymore) and the whole game revolves around political intrigue. Another 32 page booklet, this is mostly rules along with a 4 page adventure and 6 pregenerated characters. Based entirely around courtly intrigue, this is a game for folks who prefer to be in character and immerse themselves in world rather than kick doors in and put swords through kobolds. A nice change of pace for those looking for more mature role playing. HEIRS TO OLYMPIA While most of the other fantasy RPGs failed to blow my skirt up, Heirs to Olympia intrigues the living hell out of me. I’m still not certain what to make of it, but the 18 page demo book certainly has whet my appetite. Apparently the soon to be released system (put out by Countess Games) has integrated rules to play as an RPG, a miniature skirmish game AND a LARP (Live Action Role Playing game.) I’m not certain how this works just yet (the rules presented are the RPG rules) but it is a compelling concept. Especially if the rules support settings other than their standard Olympia setting. This is one to keep your eye on and maybe pick up if you find yourself as fascinated by the concept as I am. I like what they’re attempting, I’m just hoping they didn’t bite off more than they can chew. Well gang, that’s it for this week. Next week we’ve got more on Warhammer 40K 5E and maybe a few other surprises. Be sure to support your FLGS and head on over to your nearest Free RPG Day event to pick up some of the goodies. This is by no means a complete list, just those that I really enjoyed or think will play to many of you out there. There’s also a number of reprints of last years games (in case you missed it last year) so there’s sure to be a little something for everyone. But if you’re hoping for some of the prized treasures, you might want to get there early. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • June 20, 2008, 8:33 a.m. CST


    by chipps

  • June 20, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST

    eating my food

    by chipps

    passing out soon

  • June 20, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Good morning

    by Budcrud

    Now I will destroy you!

  • June 20, 2008, 8:55 a.m. CST

    If I won a free RPG

    by Falling_Gruber

    I would fire it into a room of sweaty beardos playing Dungeons and Dragons. No doubt someone would roll a dice to decide just how injured they were or if they were allowed to call for a paramedic.

  • June 20, 2008, 9:02 a.m. CST

    Why the hatred of Hunter: The Reckoning?

    by Allen T

    You do realize that it was one of their more popular lines? As for the Normal crack, yes you were still a normal person who was chosen by a divine power, given some power, but had your whole worldview shattered. You weren't an highly trained sorcocor, assassain, or the like which were most backgrounds for the other games. As for your other complaint, you do realize that is a problem FOR EVERY SINGLE GAME? Out of character knowledge happens in every game line.

  • June 20, 2008, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Free Rocket Propelled Grenades?

    by Kid Z


  • June 20, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST

    D&D 3.0 and on ARE NOT RPG'S!

    by TheEwokThatDied

    ANY GAME that FORCES you....not suggests - or hints at - BUT FORCES you to use miniatures and battle maps IS NOT A RPG. It is a Miniature War Game with heavy RPG influences, but ***IS NOT*** an RPG. Pens, Paper, Dice and Rule Books are the ONLY CORE COMPONENTS that a TRUE RPG requires. If you like this new D&D, that's great. I'd rather see them develop this system that go out of business. And if that's what market research says they need for the OMG-WTF!!!11 crowd, so be it. But I've shot Magic Missiles and carried more 10' poles with iron rations than about anyone else, and I tell you again, this new D&D is NOT an RPG.

  • June 20, 2008, 9:49 a.m. CST

    should have read

    by TheEwokThatDied

    ....system THAN go out of business...sigh....need more coffee...

  • June 20, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    The broken magic item

    by chrth

    I don't know, Massa, it sounds like it lasts the entire encounter. It does seem overly powerful, although maybe it'll force the DM to make sure that every encounter is with a mix of bad guys, and the ranged attacks will go after the dude with the magic item (once they learn the hard way not to hit him). But yeah, seems broken.<p> Sadly, no one near me is doing free RPG day. Ah well.

  • June 20, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST


    by toadkillerdog

    Free Xiphos!

  • June 20, 2008, 10:34 a.m. CST

    I'm hoping to snag "Murder at Miskatonic"

    by Mavra Chang

    Nothing against any of the other RPGs mentioned, but Cthulhu rocks.

  • June 20, 2008, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Hey, Kingdom...

    by Mavra Chang

    Have you ever heard the Dead Alewives "Dungeons and Dragons" routine? Hilarious! Your post made me think of that. "Dungeons and Dragons, Satan's game!" "Where're the Cheetos?" lol!

  • June 20, 2008, 10:55 a.m. CST


    by Brians Life

    I had to. I'm an avid MAGIC THE GATHERING fan, but I've never branched off into tabletop. A few friends (all in their 30's) want to get a Ver. 4 D and D game I missing out on anything?

  • June 20, 2008, 11:18 a.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    So I guess you're one of those guys who doesn't actually know the HISTORY of D&D and how it evolved from the tactical miniatures game Chainmail...and how the reliance on miniatures is a return to form rather than a departure...pity...

  • June 20, 2008, 11:26 a.m. CST

    are minis absolutely necessary in 4e?

    by Shigeru

    esp for battles?

  • June 20, 2008, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Massa & Ewok

    by EddieBlake

    Um...Massawyrm, I know the complete history of D&D (I even did a competitive Informative speech on it in high school forensics) and I STILL agree with Ewok. Just because Chainmail was a tac-min game doesn;t mean that its evolution into an actual RPG should be discounted and then dismissed. Going back to tac-min is a de-evolutyion from the way I look at it. I agree with Ewok that you should need only your imagination and a rule book are the only things you should need (I don;t necessarily think you need pen, paper and dice though- remember the Amber Diceless game?)

  • June 20, 2008, 11:41 a.m. CST

    This is A CLASSIC nerd fight! I love it!

    by Brians Life

    Guys, seriously. The mere rabidness has me excited. If I want to get a D and D game started TONIGHT, what books/materials do i need?

  • June 20, 2008, 12:14 p.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    <p>I see where you're going, but your premise is flawed. You assume that because there is a return to minis that the game is devolving rather than responding to the evolution of technology. In 1980, cheap, easily produced, good looking miniatures were not a feasibility - and the kids who picked up the game weren't able to purchase and paint the lead miniatures. So the game evolved away from that and created rules that didn't require them. Now that we do have access to such things, peoples desire to include them has led to rules that encourage them. It also helps that the company selling the game also sells the miniatures now - something that WAS NOT the case in 1980.</p> <p>But assuming that playing with miniatures requires any less imagination is nothing short of pure, Luddite driven elitism. "I didn't play with minis growing up, so that's not the way it should be played" is silly. You talk about gaming evolution, but accept it only evolving to a certain point.</p>

  • June 20, 2008, 12:18 p.m. CST


    by Kankennon

    I've been thinking about getting abck into pen & paper RPGs, and FREE is certainly a good price. Should I keep waiting in the hopes that somebody will pay me to play? <p> Here's my game store corkboard classified ad: Will play your crappy RPG game that nobody else will. $10/hour + benefits.

  • June 20, 2008, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Free RPGs?

    by DecimatorDan

    Terrorists everywhere are rejoicing.

  • June 20, 2008, 12:21 p.m. CST

    "abck" means "back" in my native tongue

    by Kankennon

    Like Highlander II showed us, I was actually born on another planet.

  • June 20, 2008, 12:34 p.m. CST

    re: minis

    by necgray

    A friend of mine just got us back into gaming casually with Keep on the Shadowfell and we just used the little tiles they include in the module. I don't think the minis are a necessity, just a helpful visual aid. If you don't need them, don't buy them. I'm flummoxed by a lot of the attitude towards 4E. If you don't like it, don't use it. If there's an aspect you don't like, change it. Unlike a video game RPG, you can change the rules of a tabletop to suit your style of play. I personally am against minis because I'm a cheap bastard. Which is absolutely fine because I can just set a quarter down on a piece of paper and say "this is me". Because I, ya know, have a brain of my own...

  • June 20, 2008, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Exactly, Massa

    by necgray

    That one sentence alone actually is my point condensed. "people's desire to use them has lead to rules that encourage them." Encourage, not demand.

  • June 20, 2008, 1:47 p.m. CST

    I'm with Ewok & company...

    by ZeroCorpse

    An RPG does not REQUIRE minis. They should be optional, but the 4th Edition seems to make them necessary in its attempt to emulate WoW and other MMORPGs. I've read much of the new PHB, and I really don't like it. <p> This isn't me clinging to my old way of doing things. This is me remembering sessions in which we didn't even use maps, but had a FAR better time than the ones in which we did use minis. I happened to use minis a lot, and not just in D&D. I sometimes used them for Villains & Vigilantes, Champions, GURPS, MERP, Boot Hill, Star Trek, and even, sometimes, for all the Palladium games. . . But they were never necessary, and they were only used in an abstract sense. <p> Not so with new D&D. It plays more like a tactical game, with less emphasis on the ROLE playing, and more on the ROLL playing. In fact, it reminds me of Car Wars in many ways. It sucks the individuality out of the game. The player characters remind me more of the ones from that old Basic D&D set, or the Dungeon! Board Game. <p> I'm glad you're loving it, Massawyrm, but to me the new D&D feels less like an "evolution" and more like an intentional devolution with a HEAVY emphasis on marketing accessories, minis, and hardcover books filled with some of the worst art to come from D&D in its entire history. <p> Oh yes. I went there. The artwork in the new 4th edition looks like comic book art, or even manga, rather than the awesome paintings of previous editions. Yes, there were some comic booky drawings in all editions, but there were also beautiful paintings. No more will we see these, apparently. Now, they want D&D to look as much like World of Warcraft as possible, without outright ripping off the art style. It sucks. <p> Anyway, back to the point: I don't MIND using miniatures, but I do mind when the rules are changed to focus on them. That transforms the game from a true RPG into a tactical miniatures skirmish game, and if I wanted that, I'd play Car Wars, Blood Bowl (still have my old set), Warhammer, Battletech, or Star Trek. <p> With D&D I want the rules to consider ROLE playing first. I want the players to have the flexibility to play what's in their mind, not what they're limited to by the rules which were streamlined to make miniatures combat more efficient. <p> D&D 4th Edition is made for DMs who don't want to do any work, or have limited imaginations. I'm very disappointed by it. <p> Frankly, I'm thinking of going back to good old 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons... But I sold all my books. I guess if I want to play, I'll stay with the 3rd edition, for now, or maybe switch back to playing Palladium Fantasy. <p> Wizards killed D&D by buying out TSR and turning it from a game company into a different beast. Now it's all about how to get people to buy more supplements and cards and miniatures. I'm surprised they don't make a new kind of dice and patent them so only they can profit from them. But then, what did we expect from the company that invented crack cards?

  • June 20, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST

    Zero Corpse

    by Massawyrm 1

    <p>"D&D 4th Edition is made for DMs who don't want to do any work, or have limited imaginations. I'm very disappointed by it."</p> <p>Spoken like someone who hasn't actually played. Well done sir. And Wizards didn't KILL D&D, they saved it from a company that had mismanaged it into the ground and was going out of business. Had they not bought it, it would just be another relic of our childhood. Disliking it is fine - but it's obvious you haven't played it. Kinda hard to be disappointed when you haven't really experienced it. </p>

  • June 20, 2008, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Right on Massawyrm

    by tk 421

    Keep setting that record straight. TSR totally ran D&D into the ground and the only reason it's still around today is because of Wizards.

  • June 20, 2008, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Had to chime in about the miniatures

    by DarthJedi

    My group has been using miniatures and game mats since we started playing back in the late 80's. We have ramped it up now to where our one GM builds full on table length dioramas for the major battles in the game. For me personally, it's like a double edged sword in that it makes the battles much easier to adjudicate (was he REALLY in the radius if that fireball? Let's measure to find out)but it also takes away from the imagination because you have this 3D representation of the area your PCs are in. You actually see the layout as opposed to seeing it in your head. Although, now that our GM has gotten multiple games to hone his skills, his dioramas are looking REALLY good now. I mean really professional. I couldn't think about playing through a battle without them now. It just makes it go a lot faster easier.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Miniatures and TSR & Wizards

    by chrth

    I used Miniatures for 1st Edition. It just made things easier to see during combat. That said: we don't buy every monster that existed. We basically played "ok, this Umber Hulk represents the Roper, while these orcs are lizardmen". If I set up 4E, I'd probably do the same.<p> One of the things that annoyed me about 3rd edition is that WOTC said that they weren't going to oversaturate the market with product. Well, they lied through their teeth. And they're already planning on oversaturating the market with 4th edition (nothing like having a Player's Handbook 2 already announced). Granted, it's what TSR did to kill themselves in 2nd Edition, but I think Wizards are a bunch of morons for going that route. You publish your core rulebooks, a couple settings, and deliver adventures for us to buy on a monthly basis. Period. Supplemental material should come through a PRINT Dragon Magazine. It worked perfectly fine for 1st Edition, it would work fine for 4th Edition as well. But no. They're going to keep publishing hardbound timelines $30 that are available online. And why? Because they think bleeding gamers is the only way to profit.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:56 p.m. CST

    strategy wargames

    by Prossor

    are my specialty!

  • June 20, 2008, 5:02 p.m. CST

    chrth re: bleeding gamers

    by necgray

    I agree with your antagonism, being the cheap bastard I am, but realistically how else WOULD they profit? I also wonder how much of the "oversaturation" is due to practical matters like page counts? I mean, if they published a single PHB with all the races and classes and powers and etc. they have in the wings, would it make the book even bigger and therefore more expensive? Wouldn't gamers balk at a $75 or $100 PHB? It might just be easier to break it up into Book I, Book II, etc. Though I also think if that's the strategy they should publish them all within at least the same month. That way people who are WILLING to drop the cash can do so.

  • June 20, 2008, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Profit by selling adventurers and Dragon

    by chrth

    Or subscribing to the DND Insider online. Heck, that's a better way of doing it. That way you're giving people choice: you can play just what's in the books, or you can subscribe and get additional material. People are more likely to subscribe, and it might end up being more profitable.<p> Here's the biggest problem: how many classic adventures can you name that came out from 2nd Edition onwards that gamers would immediately recognize? Classic Adventures is what builds nostalgia, not the game itself. A new generation of gamers may play 4E, but unless there are some classic adventures made, they won't come back for 6E (or try to get their kids involved). And that's why they should focus on adventures, not rulebook supplements.

  • June 20, 2008, 7:08 p.m. CST

    Fully developed idea of what I've been saying

    by chrth

    If I was running 4E, this is what I'd say:<p> Core Rulebooks released in Hardcover.<p> Campaign Settings released in Hardcover as well (and no "player's guide to the Realms" either. One hardcover).<p> NO OTHER HARDCOVER RULEBOOKS *EXCEPT* future Monster Manuals. Which you will not need to purchase if you subscribe to:<p> DND Insider. It's a combo of Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and all new rules, races, classes, etc., are printed here. New monsters as well, but they'll be collected every year-and-a-halfish into a hardcover (as previously mentioned). If you don't want to subscribe, you can purchase articles/short adventures for a buck or two. Columns like Sage Advice would always be free.<p> Adventures, adventures, adventures. Softcover (no hardcovers; that's just stupid) adventures on a monthly basis. Sync with the Dungeon mini-adventures (like they did with Keep on the Shadowfell).<p> Softcover Settings books are ok, but should always be optional and should NEVER introduce a new class/race/monster/etc without previously appearing in Dragon article. In other words, it would deliver flavor and NPCs and little else.<p> And of course, dice and tiles and miniatures.<p> I believe that this would be the most successful model. I believe it would be profitable, and that a lot of gamers would appreciate the fact that Wizards is cutting out the BS and worrying about making the adventure the central part of the D&D experience.

  • June 21, 2008, 1:37 a.m. CST

    We've been playing

    by Mezzanine

    Keep on the Shadowfell and so far, I really like it. I just bought my fourth edition books today. Looking through the PH and GODDAMN I can not wait to play a Warlock.

  • June 21, 2008, 4:18 a.m. CST


    by thebearovingian


  • June 21, 2008, 4:19 a.m. CST

    Damn. Not even close.

    by thebearovingian

    Legalize "FIRST!" and watch it lose its appeal and become extinct, much like "Nuked the Fridge".

  • June 21, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST

    could be wrong, chrth, but

    by necgray

    I think they plan to do *some* of that with the online subscription. Which might be even smarter since then they avoid printing costs. Might be a matter of printing extras in hardcover as a way to funnel gamers to the website. But that's speculation on my part. I'm not entirely sure.

  • June 21, 2008, 10:13 a.m. CST

    necgray: well that's how it has always been

    by chrth

    But the extraneous hardcovers always contain more. I say: ditch 'em entirely. It also makes it easier for people to start playing later in the lifecycle of an edition. Can you imagine looking at a bookshelf with all the different books ten months ago when you were looking to start playing? You'd more than likely to just give up! Nah, Wizards is on path to make the same mistakes they made last edition, although I am somewhat encouraged that they seem more eager to make adventure modules with this edition. Hopefully that'll continue instead of the umpteenth dungeoneer's survival guide.

  • June 21, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    Let me put it a different way

    by chrth

    In the typical D&D edition universe, the stuff in Dragon and Dungeon were always considered extras and very very optional. The hardcovers, though, always had the smack of "canon" (for lack of a better word). So if a Player decides he wants to play a character class in PHB2, the DM is usually stuck with giving the Ok. If, on the other hand, the Player wants to play a class from Dragon Magazine, the DM gets the fun of saying Ah Hell Naw!<p> I think it should be the reverse. I think the Dragon/Dungeon stuff should be considered ongoing supplements to the core (and in some ways DND Insider will be that). And I think the inevitable hardcovers should be variations that only get embraced if the whole party is willing to embrace it.

  • June 21, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST

    The free RPG day here has been postponed

    by Mavra Chang

    They're having it on July 19th. Did that happen everywhere?

  • June 21, 2008, 10:53 a.m. CST

    The thing about Insider

    by Mezzanine

    that pisses me off is that the online stuff is available to people who have PCs only. Way to exclude the mac audience, Wizards, especially considering that is a lot of college age kids and MOST of the people that I play with. :(

  • June 21, 2008, 7:30 p.m. CST

    No. I haven't actually played it.

    by ZeroCorpse

    But I do own it. I have read it (PHB, DMG, and MM). I'm pushing 40 and I've spent well more than half of of my years as a GM/DM for various RPGs, so I think I'm pretty well fucking qualified to judge an alleged RPG from the printed materials in my possession. <p> Your only defense-- Your only argument-- Is "spoken like someone who hasn't played it." as if I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm sorry, dude, but the materials printed by Wizards is pretty clear, and VERY dumbed-down, so I'm quite sure I understand EXACTLY what I'm talking about. <p> TSR was indeed having troubled, but Wizards didn't "save" them. Wizards bought the name and property, and promptly CHANGED the games to reflect their own business ethics and ideals. What Wizards has made since taking over has NOT been Dungeons & Dragons. Not in spirit. Not in practice. So yes, they bloody well DID kill D&D, and replaced it with a cyclical marketing setup that compels players and DMs to buy as many extra supplements, minis, and books as possible to get the "full" game experience. <p> But hey, don't take my word for it. Just look at Wizards' forums. People are PISSED OFF about D&D 4th Edition. <p> They didn't just change the mechanics. They changed the ideals. They mashed a few different game worlds together to get this new one. They turned halflings into kender. They got rid of half-orcs and brought in what are essentially Dragonlance draconians. They turned elves into faeries. They demoted gnomes to an optional race. They cast of full-fledged, customizable character classes for templates that are broken, and very narrow in their customization. They killed multiclassing. They killed the alignment system. <p> No, man. D&D is dead. THIS game is not D&D. It's a whole new game that resembles a pen & paper version of an MMORPG. It doesn't have the staples of D&D. It doesn't have the open-ended mechanics of D&D. The only way it resembles D&D is that they kept the names of the basic attributes. In almost EVER OTHER WAY this game is a departure from traditional D&D rules and setting. <p> Why did they even call it Dungeons & Dragons? It's clear that what they meant to do here was to combine Chainmail, WoW, and Magic: The Gathering to get a whole new game. <p> I'll re-read the books. But from my first reading, all I see is a lot of total rewrites of the rules and reinventing the wheel, and very little of the D&D game that I played since the late 1970s. <p> Hell, the characters I played in my favorite campaign wouldn't even be POSSIBLE in this current version. <p> Oh, yeah. And Mezzanine is right. There are a ton of us Mac owners out here, and Wizards alienating us isn't helping their cause. If I want to use their PC crap, I'll have to boot into Windows on my MacBook... And at this point I don't think it's worth it.

  • June 21, 2008, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Wizards Forums

    by ZeroCorpse <p> People are NOT happy with this new D&D in-name-only. <p> I may give it a chance in actual gameplay, but so far, it just seems so dumbed-down that it's not worth the bother.

  • June 21, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

    more disdain for 4e

    by ZeroCorpse

  • June 22, 2008, 4:01 a.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    You can tell me you UNDERSTAND the game without playing it, but everything you're saying shows me you don't. It shows me that you know how to repeat the same tired arguments, but you've illustrated not one word of comprehension of the system in front of you - especially what's involved with running it. As I said in my initial review, there were things I disliked (even hated) BEFORE I played it. Playing it changed that. Seriously, until you've actually given it a few sessions, you've got very little clue what you're talking about. You're effectively telling people how a car drives just because you've looked under the engine. You haven't felt what it's like behind the wheel, but driving other cars gives you all the knowledge you need. keep going with that...

  • June 22, 2008, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Can't we all just get along?

    by chrth

    Look, a name is a name. If you want to call 4th Edition D&DINO go ahead. If you want to call 4th Edition the Greatest D&D Evah! no one is stopping you. Although ZC, I have to wonder where you're getting your information. The original D&D had 3 alignments (lawful, neutral, and chaotic) and no multiclasses (heck, races were treated as a class). So from that standpoint, 4th edition has definitely expanded from the original.<p> And yes, I'm being a complete and utter smartass. Well, about the 1st vs 4th thing, not about getting along.

  • June 23, 2008, 2:11 a.m. CST

    This is the thing Massawyrm

    by d_fens1969

    What if you met someone who told you that they loved film? And you thought, "Cool, someone I have something in common with." Then they went on to say how much they admire Jerry Bruckheimer's filmmaking skills, Hulk Hogan's acting ability, and the comedy of Carrot Top. Would you think that this kind of person really loves film? The depth and breadth of their film knowledge was something to be admired? Granted, the above individual could be a lot worse. He could enjoy films like Beethoven's 2nd or Son of the Mask. I think analogizing the pen-and-paper game industry with the film industry in this case isnt stretching it too far. D&D and 40k are the gaming equivalents of Bruckheimer films and Pro wrestling. Capable of sometimes spectacular visual effects, but ultimately shallow in their use of the medium. Are games systems such as GURPS, HERO, or even the White Wolf line of games too artsy? Too far out of the mainstream? If you would agree with that they are, I believe it is similar to saying that the films of Paul Thomas Anderson or David Cronenberg are too cerebral for the average moviegoer. So there it is. I believe there is a craft in making good RPGs and in playing them. There is little or no craft in D&D 4 or in 40k. Or do you address these games in particular just because their names will be recognized by the average AICNer? If that is the case, it seems as if the averager AICNer could care less about pen and paper RPGs.

  • June 23, 2008, 2:33 a.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    I address them because they have new editions coming out - D&D this month and 40K the next. Kind of a big deal. When Gurps and Hero have new editions coming out, I'm sure they'll get mentioned. And read above, dingleberry...I kind of talked about Hunter. As much as could be mentioned from a small demo book. If I can get my hands on that, I'll talk about that too.

  • June 23, 2008, 5:12 a.m. CST

    Again Massawyrm

    by d_fens1969

    Is it necessary to insult people? Or are RPGs really played by only 12 year olds and grown men who think they are children? Shall we prove the stereotype? "Kind of" talking about one white wolf game doesnt void my original question as to why only the "big boys" get so much attention from you.

  • June 24, 2008, 3:31 a.m. CST


    by d_fens1969

    Am I going to get some kind of a response or no because this is off the front page?

  • June 24, 2008, 2:52 p.m. CST

    d_fens1969: I'd say wait for the next column

    by chrth

    That's what I'm doing with some comments I plan on making

  • June 24, 2008, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Free Freds balls!

    by Freds_Balls_in_a_Mason_Jar

    Free them!