Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The advantages and disadvantages of play by post gaming

I, like almost every other gamer on the planet has had times when it was damn near impossible to get a group together to play a game. In the old days that generally meant spending your time rolling up a billion characters, drawing a thousand dungeons and designing a couple of campaign worlds. However, with the invention of the internet, gaming was able to enter a new frontier. Admitted, there are some signs that say this new frontier might be slowly destroying pencil and paper gaming, but on the other hand, it has also given gamers the ability to contact one another a lot easier.

In the early days of the internet, a system called play by email was adopted by gamers seeking games online. This was a great option for people who either couldn't get a group together or had real life constraints (work) on their time. You simply checked your email, read a post or two, replied, and off you were. It was a short and simple way to get a small fix. In fact there were some PBEM's that I was involved with that were just as good if not better than my average tabletop session.

Along with PBEM gaming, play by Post gaming also started. While Play by Post was a similar way to game it was conducted on message boards. You generally had to create a username and then apply to a variety of games. While I strongly preferred PBEM gaming at first, there was a utility available in PBP that eventually led to it winning the contest between the two. I hear that there are still PBEM's going on (specially in the world of Star Trek Sims) but for the most part the utility and usability of message boards have come to dominate the online gaming community. Having done my fair share of PBP gaming I have come to believe their are certain advantages and disadvantages when compared to a table top game.

The main advantage PBP games have compared to table tops is that you don't have to work around the schedules of five people. You can log into the message boards whenever you have time, enter a quick post, and you are done for the day. Another strong advantage of play by post gaming is that it allows those of us who really like to write and develop characters a place to do so. In fact, if you want to really get an epic storyline going, I would strongly suggest PBP games.

The disadvantages of PBP gaming is the fact that there are no smiling faces at the table with you. You don't get the same feel that the table top experience provides. Also, if you are not much for writing or you don't have internet access it can be very difficult to actually do play by post gaming. Finally there is the fact that you never really know if anyone is cheating or not.

In the end, I find that there are times I want to use play by post for gaming and other times when I want the table top experience. I am glad that both are available to me and can't wait to see a time when technology allows us to get the best out of both worlds (and no WoW is not it)

If you are interested in gaming in a play by post game you should check out mythweavers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Motley Monday: New blog, an idea or two and other stuff

I have decided that I want to have some kind of weekly column here and thought that Monday makes a great day for that. Monday is a weird day for me, I have to get up early, I generally have some kind of work to do, and the kids are in school. By Tuesday I am adjusted to weekday's, but Monday is all about getting the ball rolling. For that reason I really like the idea, so welcome to Motley Monday a collection of various thoughts and the like from yours truly.

I like this blog quite a bit, but I wanted to start another one to act as a place to store my campaign notes, so I started a new blog. I will still keep up with this blog, but I will also be working on the other one. I actually think this will cause an increase in my posting rate so I am kind of excited about it. If you want to check it out go here.

I plan to sit down and get some campaign journals started up. The reason it has taken me this long is because all the games I am involved with had been going for a while before I started this blog and I am trying to make sure I get everything right before posting it up here. Also I need to get permission from everyone else involved and decide upon an acceptable nick name for them in the blog (protecting personal information and all that being somewhat important in this day and age).

My buddy Heavy Noir is starting the first session of his twenty four hour game this weekend. I am pretty psyched about it as I think Heavy is a great GM and I think the idea sounds like a lot of fun. Admitted I am not as young as I used to be so I am not sure how staying up twenty four hours is going to treat me. I used to be able to do it no problem (heck even had some 70+ hour days a couple of times), but now I am not so sure. Whatever happens I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

I am trying to decide on a special teams coach for my fantasy football team. Any suggestions would be appreciated. If you do submit a suggestion and I do use it, you would of course get proper credit.

Well, that is all for now, see you all later!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Raistlin Majere Announced New Offensive Coordinator

I actually was considering totally giving up on the Fantasy Football team idea, but some friends let me know that liked the idea so I decided to keep going with it. At this moment my goal is to have my team finished and built by the start of the actual NFL season (if there is one given the lockout). Anyway, sorry about the slight ramble, now on to the next member of the coaching staff...


About Raistlin:

It is hard for me to think of another character in all of dungeons and dragons who has gained the same level of awe among players. I remember a time when you could see a bit of Raistlin in every wizard brought to the gaming table. One player might use Raistlins' cough, another his whispering voice, and another his sarcastic wit. I myself liked other characters in the Dragonlance world better, but even I had a deep respect for Raistlin as not only an iconic character, but as an example of what happens to those who allow their lust for power to control them.

For me, watching Raistlin change throughout the Dragonlance novels was a great character study. Here is a person who started life sickly and barely alive. As he grows through childhood he is bullied by his peers and if it had not been for his brother, it is likely this torment would have been even worse. Eventually Raistlin finds something that not only gives him power, but offers him a chance to be one of the elite, this is of course magic.

With magic now under his control Raistilin begins to earn both the respect and fear of those around him. Suddenly Raistilin goes from needing his brothers protection to being part of a deadly team and gaining a feeling of independence. However, in the middle of this growth Raistlin body, not in the best of health to begin with, is broken. While he still has the power of magic, he becomes more dependent on his brother than every before. These events make it easy to understand his anger at the world.

So, here we have a young man who has started out in a bad situation that really only got worse. The only real change in his life is the power of magic. With little else to hold onto Raistlin embraces that power and nurtures his anger. Eventually Raistlin is presented with an opportunity to gain power. This power of course has a price and that is to embrace evil and bow to the Queen of evil. Yet, if we have learned anything about Raistlin, it is the fact that he can not abide any being having more power than him and this will become a problem for not only Takhisis but the rest of the world as well.

Eventually Raistlin challenges Takhisis and is on the very brink of victory, we all know that he is going to do it. There is no power in all of Krynn that could convince him to surrender his chance at what he craves the most. Yet, he does, and he does so when his brother Caramon tells him of the empty universe which is his fate if he kills Takhisis. Talk about a plot twist. Eventually Raistlin escapes the abyss and helps rescue the world which allows him his final rest which is about as good of a redemption story as you are going to get.

Why Raistlin?

The way I figure it Asmodeus is going to want someone almost as devious as he is running the offense. I gave this a lot of thought and finally narrowed it town to Elminster or Raistlin but Raistlin edged out ole' Elminster when I considered the hour glass eyed magi's ruthlessness. In football offense is not only about getting the ball into the end zone, it is also about deceiving the defense. Raistlin has what it takes in spades. I remember reading the first Dragon Lance books when I was a kid and how blown away I was by Raistlin becoming a member of the black robe wizards. It amazed me that he was so power hungry. Then he followed this up by coming within a hairs breadth of defeating Takhisis.

It is this combination of ambition, ruthlessness, and talent that really cause Raistlin to shine. As one of the most iconic characters in not only the Dragon Lance universe but Dungeons and Dragons as well he also brings a great deal of notoriety to the team. I know that if I were a defensive coordinator I would hate trying to match wits with Raistlin.

to learn more about Raistlin read this article at Drgaonlance Nexus

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I Do Not Like 4th Edition

While I have been having fun making my fantasy football team, I thought I should take a moment to explain why I dislike 4E.

1: It Wasn't Needed

I was one of the first people I knew to adapt to both second and third edition (and yes 3.5). The main reason for this was because I felt the changes each addition made were needed. While I loved first edition and always will, there were several problems in many of the mechanics. For example limiting demi humans in levels not only made little sense, but could really hurt a party at higher levels. Also some of monsters provided challenges that were hard to gauge correctly. While there were still some problems with second edition (THAC0 anyone?), overall it was a vast improvement over first edition. What I really liked the most about 2nd edition was the fact it was largely compatible with first edition so I could use all my modules without to much work.

 I think where 2nd Edition failed is the Dungeon Masters Guide. The first edition DMG gave a DM so much they could use. An hour until game time and no dungeon made? No problem! Simply use the random dungeon generator and you were good to go. Wanted to know the color of a potion? No problem! Browse through the reputed magical properties of gems for a quick idea. The second edition DMG was only useful for the magic items and little else.  I also think that by the end of second edition role playing games as a whole had matured and the system needed a serious overall. While 2nd Ed brought many good changes (class kits, non weapon proficiencies, etc.) there were still some problems.

I, much like everyone grumbled a bit when I heard the news about 3rd edition. I remember thinking to myself that it was a move to make money and little else. Even though I was inclined not to I decided to buy the three core books and I have to say I was very happy. I thought they had made some great changes. Admitted it did take learning an entirely new system, but the improvement was immense. Sure there were some problems such as the Ranger being worthless, but overall it was a better game. Of course third ed. had barely gotten going when they put out 3.5 but again it was a change that needed to happen. Rules were clarified, classes were better balanced etc.

Then came 4E. I really felt then and still feel that 4E was not needed. The 3.5 system worked fine and had a lot more room to explore and improve. I can see where a streamlining of some of the player options would have been nice, but to overhaul the system completely just was unnecessary. They didn't make a better game, they didn't improve on any of the problems in 3.5, and to top it off they turned the cosmos upside down. All of this led to me finding 4E a huge disappointment. I tried to like 4E, I really did, but the more I played it the more I found issues with how things had changed.

2: Too Many Accessories Needed

When I first started playing D&D you needed a character sheet, a pencil, some dice, and maybe a miniature figure. If you were the DM you needed a note book, some graph paper, enough dice to lend some to the new guy and maybe some minis. Sure, the more advanced groups used minis quite a bit and there were a lot of neat products made to help make visualizing the game easier, but you didn't have to have them in order to play. The D&D game remained largely this way through both second and even third edition. Admitted, things made a lot more sense if you used minis and dungeon tiles (I still think the plastic minis were one of the best ideas ever!), but you could play the game without them if need be.

If you play 4E you absolutely have to have minis and dungeon tiles (though most of the modules to provide some combat maps). So what became a fairly affordable hobby became much more expensive. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with spending money on my hobby. I firmly believe that even including such extras as plastic minis and dungeon tiles gaming works out to be cheaper than most other things, I just feel that I should be able to play a game without having to buy more than the rule books.

3: WoW Is a Better MMORPG

One of the things that really bugs me about 4E is the fact that it seems to be a pen and paper MMORPG. If I wanted to play an MMO I would sign into my Wow account. When I am at a table with my friends I don't want to play World of Warcraft, I want to play Dungeons and Dragons (or Rifts, or Gurps, or L5R etc). Every time I look at the players hand book for 4E I feel like I am looking at a talent tree system and that sucks. One of the reasons I loved RPG's was that each and every character was able to be different even if they shared the same class. Even the most basic of fighters would differ from each other in several ways. 4E simply gives you a list of powers to choose from and in the end there is very little in the way of uniqueness.

In the end, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that 4E is an inferior product in virtually every way to 3.5 and the proceeding editions of D&D. I think that the entire concept was approached in a poor fashion and in no way gave me a better game to play then what I already had. I feel many of the changes were made simply to make 4E incompatible with 3.5. I think that the designers at WOTC got to involved in "shaking" things up and in the end I think we the gamers are the worse off for it.

I still love D&D and am thankful that the OGL allows 3.5 to continue. I will never stop gaming, but I can't wait for 4E to fade away into the night and hope and pray that if and when a 5th edition comes out, it is a better game than what they gave me this time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Interview with Bruenor Battlehammer new Defensive Cordinator

Asmodeus, Head Coach of the new NFL expansion Team the Greyhawk Gamers has moved very quickly in organizing his staff. Early this morning it was announced that the new Head Coach had hired Bruenor Battlehammer as his new Defensive Coordinator. This move actually came as quite a shock to most people as many experts and analysists expected Asmodeus to go with someone from his own background. When asked about the puzzling move The Arch Devil simply smiled and dissapearred in a cloud of fire and brimstone.

Shortly after the announcement of his hiring, Bruenor held a press conference, the following is a transcript of the event.....

BB: I will take any sensible question you have, but make it quick I have a lot to do to get ready for the season.

Q: Coach Battlehammer, do you find it unusual to be hired as a Defensive Coordinator for a football team given that you apparently have no actual football experience?

BB: You don't need to have experience with football to know what a good defense is lad. Remember I have fought numerous battles of a defensive nature and am sure I will be able to put those experiences to good use.

Q: What kind of defensive scheme do you plan to use?

BB: Listen here lad. I don't know what type of game yer playing but I am not about to let the enemy know what I plan to do. The only thing I will tell you is that the NFL has never seen the likes of what I plan on doing. 

While many more questions were ansked, Bruenor simply left the podium.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Announcing the Gamers New Head Coach....(also a change in plans)

Okay, I know I was supposed to get this next blog up sooner than this and I honestly meant too. Unfortunately between life, life, and another dosing of life I found myself not posting. While this post is later than it should be I hope you all don't mind that I also have a new and improved idea. My last post I talked about doing an NFL style draft using fantasy characters. Well instead of doing a draft I have decided to build an entire football team including the coaches! Also instead of using characters from the entire fantasy genre to choose players, I will limit myself to only characters from the Dungeon and Dragons mega-verse.

Now, introducing the Head Coach of the newest NFL franchise the Gamers I introduce....


About Asmodeus:

I first discovered Asmodeus shortly after I began playing D&D. I remember reading through the Monster Manual and coming across the Arch Devil. Even back then there was something intriguing about this guy. Not only did he look kewl, but the fact he ruled the nine hells made him a favorite of mine through every edition of the game. I have to admit that I was bummed with the fact that he didn't make the cut into the first Monstrous Manual (which happened with all the devils and demons in an attempt to "sanatize" D&D), and was even more miffed when I learned he wasn't originally included in the Nine Hells in Plane (the Planescape setting managed to be good enough I got over it). When he made his glorious reappearance in 3rd ed. I was tickled pink.

In my time as a player I have only encountered Asmodeus once. It ended very badly for the party (which given the pick pocket roll the thief made on him was probably a blessing). In my time as a Dungeon Master I have abused, overused, and overplayed him. I have had multiple parties kill him, used him as Deus Ex Machina on several occasions, and even had him travel with the party on one occasion. Needless to say I am one of his biggest fans.

The reason why I am selecting him as Head Coach of the Gamers franchise is because I want a true Machiavellian genius calling the shots. The Numero Uno Arch Devil has managed to balance on top of the mountain of power for an untold eternity while being actively plotted against by every know being of power in the universe! This means that not only is Asmodeus powerful, but he is also able to out maneuver every other head coach in the NFL. Bill Belichick move over there is a new genius in the league.

If you want to read up on the game version of Asmodeus, this was a pretty good article.

If you would like to learn more about Asmodeus in religious mythology this page on wikipedia is worth a read.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Random Thoughts (NPC Draft!)

I know its been a minute since I last posted and that is a pretty bad way to start a blog. However my computer has been acting a bit funny and the desk I currently have is a little to short for me to be able to type comfortably.

So for those of you who don't know I am a HUGE football fan (Go Broncos!) and the 2011 Draft just got over with. The draft led me to thinking about how cool it would be to have an NPC draft. The basic idea is that each person involved with the draft runs an team of evil NPC's bent on killing the good and wonderful players. These bad guys can be from just about any source ranging from literature through video games. However special points would be given to any NPC selected from an pen and paper RPG product. Lets copy the NFL and have seven rounds which gives each team a chance at seven players. To keep it simple no trades are allowed.

I will post my first round pick tomorrow. If you want to join in feel free the only rule is that you are only allowed one guy a pick and you can't pick someone already taken.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I Dislike Hearing "Gaming is Expensive"

Today I am going to cover one of my biggest pet peeves as a gamer. The thing that annoys me more than anything else I hear at a gaming table is the statement "Gaming is too expensive". I guess this statement bugs me because it only takes looking at some basic math facts to prove that it is one of the cheapest hobbies out there. Don'g believe me? Let me prove it!

Last I checked a new rulebook cost around $30-$40, so we will average that out at $35 a book. Now the only book I need to play in a game is generally the players handbook. Yes I CAN buy more, but I don't HAVE too. Now for the sake of arguments lets assume that before I bought the book for $35 I had already played in several sessions (5) and I knew it was a game I would have fun playing (I expect my players to come with their own books in between their fifth and tenth sessions). Also lets assume (again for the sake of argument) that along with the initial sessions I get another twenty sessions of gaming for a grand total of twenty five sessions.

Assuming I never play the game (a very unlikely event in my experience) the price of the rule book breaks down to costing me $1.40 per session. Now assuming that I averaged four hours of game time per session (not at all unrealistic) then the rule book cost me thirty five cents an hour. In comparison an move ticket will cost you about two dollars an hour for entertainment, a gallon of gas costs over three dollars at the moment, and I don't even want to think about concert tickets.

I can already hear somebody saying "But, Da Grizz, you are only looking at one person buying one book! You know most people don't buy just one book for gaming.

To the people thinking that, I will admit they are probably right. So I will use myself as the most extreme example I can think of right off hand. I own more books than anyone I know and in fact when we had a full fledged game store in town I actually had more books than they did (which I am not sure if I should be proud of or ashamed of), so I figure I am a great example of the high side of spending money on gaming.

If I were to estimate the total amount of money I have spent on gaming in my life (including stuff I have lost, given away, had destroyed by dogs and kids etc.) it probably values in at around seven grand give or take. No I am not kidding, in fact I wouldn't be at all surprised if seven grand were a bit of a low ball figure.

Now, as much as I would like to say that I have gamed at least once a week since I started playing at nine years old, the truth is I haven't. I have however, had multiple stretches of time playing in more than one game, countless online games, and more than a few hours planning my next adventure. So, let's just say I have managed to play an average of one four hour period every other week for the last twenty eight years (again I don't think this is at all far fetched, specially if you include planning time). That gives me a grand total of 3,136 hours of gaming. Admitted compared to the seven grand I have spent on the game its not quite thirty five cents an hour, but when you add in the joy I get from having the collection, the fact other friends have used it, and the fact I have spent a great deal of time reading it all, I feel I get an exceptional value for my money. Not to mention I am now introducing the kids to the game and I don't plan to quit gaming any time soon, which increases the value of my gaming books even more.

So next time I get on you to buy your own PHB or the next time you are thumbing through a book that you think might be a good fit for your game, don't tell yourself it's to expensive. Instead look at the fact that you will probably get a better value out of that book than almost any other hobby out there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How it All Started

I started playing dungeons and dragons in the summer of 1983 at the age of nine. My Uncle had made the mistake of leaving his books laying on a table one day and while I knew better than to actually touch them in any way I spent hours sitting in a chair looking at their covers. I remember that feeling today as though it were yesterday. How the pictures on the cover of those books beckoned with a seductive promise of unexplored adventure. From that day on I begged my Uncle to let me play and to make a long story short, my Uncle eventually relented after I proved to him that not only could I read the books but I could understand them. I even had to pass a test he wrote up along with write a five hundred word essay about the game (though to his credit he let me slide at 300).

My first character was a Dwarf Fighter named Melvin Mischief Maker III. His first action was to challenge a farm boy in the Village of Homlet to an arm wrestling contest (which sadly Melvin lost). After a notable career within Homlet, the Temple of Elemental Evil, and many other adventures, Melvin retired a wealthy Dwarf of ninth level. Since that first character I have consistently gamed for the last twenty eight years. Some times I wore the players hat, sometimes the Game Masters. I have played everything from Dungeons and Dragons Basic through New World of Darkness. I have honestly spent more money on gaming than I probably have on cars and I am more than happy about that. In short I am a gamer and proud of it.

I really don't know what this blog will entail other than it will be about gaming. I plan to post journals for each of the four games I am currently involved with (three as GM, one as player) as well as share my thoughts about various aspects of gaming. I do hope I get some steady readers, but I also am doing this blog because I feel I need a space to voice my gaming experience. Finally I hope to enjoy this blog as much as I have enjoyed gaming...