Monday, September 19, 2011

Eye on Ashenclaw: Which version of D&D do you play?

Just a quick post here to share a great article that hits home for me at the moment. I am always hearing a lot of edition bashing these days as I surf the net and listen to various podcast shows. With that being said, I don't truly have a preference on which version I like at this time. I have not written off 4e, I haven't played 2e since the mid to late 90's and I have mixed feelings about the old school basic and 1e systems.

Be sure to swing on over to Gary's article and chime in with a post of which you prefer and maybe why.

Eye on Ashenclaw: Which version of D&D do you play?: I was going to do a post about different gaming attractions and such, but then I decided to break it down into different versions of Dung...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

D&D 4e: Top 12 Ways to Stop Sounding So Damn Metagamey

This was an interesting blog post regarding "role playing vs. meta-gaming". The article itself made me think about some of my own play styles. I have always loved role-playing games but have never been a HUGE role player. I have my moments at the table but I've never been the "act" it out type.

I think the responses to the article added even more to the entire topic! After reading the article and responses I think one of the reasons I don't role play as much is I find myself worrying too much about the environment and fights. I spend more time and energy on wondering how to get my character and party through situations alive than actually role playing. I am trying to make a conscious effort to increase the frequency of my role playing during sessions but it will definitely take time.

D&D 4e: Top 12 Ways to Stop Sounding So Damn Metagamey

Check out the article and let us know your thoughts. Do you and your group role play more or meta-game more?

5 DM's, 7 Players... LOTS of ideas!

Let me first explain that we have a total of 7 players going into our new campaign. Of those 7 players 5 of us are going to rotate being DM. This will hopefully ease the burnout effect of constantly DM'ing. It should also create new environments as you transition from one DM's game to the next.

Six of the seven players met on our usual gaming night last night to start hashing out ideas and issues. The only player not able to make it was on a cruise but our planning will continue through next week so he should have time to put his input in yet as well.

The first thing we did was decide on which gaming system we wanted to start with and build from there. Some of those mentioned were AD&D 2e, AD&D 3e, AD&D 3.5, 6E and Castles & Crusades. There was also the possibility of creating a complete mix and match of various system features we liked. We ultimately decided on using Castles & Crusades as our base system.

From there we began listing topics we wanted to address and figure out how our campaign would handle them. These ranged from religion, magic, survivability, treasure, money sinks and action points. There were many more but you should be able to get the general idea of our process from that. We quickly discovered our views and opinions varied on almost every subject. However, it was a great brainstorming session with much accomplished in the hours spent together.

At this moment we have decided that each DM will have a large island mass to build their world on. This is approximately the size of England. We wanted there to be enough space to have different areas but not so large that it would take you months to travel from point to point. There will more than likely be a sixth landmass that will be the common area or base of operations for the adventurers.

The next thing we decided were some ways to increase the survivability of our heroes. This was a hot topic in our emails last week. Our group of gamers range from thinking death should always be present around every corner to the thought our characters should not be average folk but heroes just starting out. We came up with the solution of getting max hit points each time you level rather than rolling the hit dice to see what you end up with that level. We also decided that raise dead would be available but not everywhere in the world. By having the max hit points we are assuming the heroes will be wise enough and durable enough to retreat from battle if necessary and in a timely manner. Lastly, Mike is working on a couple of options for a death and dismemberment table for what happens at zero hit points or below.

We decided religion would exist but I think we are leaning more toward many gods rather than an all encompassing church throughout the world. This may yet change. We also figured we will more than likely do away with the traditional alignments and do an allegiance or aspect system which John is working on some options to present to the group. We definitely want there to be repercussions for doing evil acts but we want there to be more option to role play among the party without straight up arguments and someone needing to have their character removed from the party.

We discussed several possible ways to increase the enjoyment of magic user players as well. If I recall correctly we decided to give magic users the ability to scribe scrolls right from the start. I don't remember what the cost per scroll will be but this will also help us add a money sink aspect to our campaign as well. The choice was made to have all characters begin with approximately 6000 experience making any character rolled up be level 3. This will hopefully get rid of some of the previously mentioned non-heroic characters as well as increase the enjoyment and usefulness of magic users and other classes that start out slow.

This brings us to the subject of experience. We wanted to actually slow the experience gain process so that when your turn came around to DM it wasn't 5 or 6 levels later. What we came up with was a simple solution. Each DM will get 3 to 4 sessions to run an adventure. By the end of that adventure all characters in the party would get the average level of the party X 1000 experience. We originally discussed using the fighter's experience as the base but I simply stated average level of the party in case we happen to not have a fighter. So an example would be a 3rd level Fighter in group would give everyone in the party 3,000 experience points. The first couple of levels may go fairly quickly but by around level 5 or 6 the speed at which characters level up with slow down considerably.

Tom is always a fanatic about weapons and armor so he is working up some options for that. We also want magical items available in the world but not over populated. This was more of an agreement rather than any set method of measurement.

In addition to the allegiance and aspect system that John is working on, he is also coming up with a couple of possible action, hero, awesome points possibilities. This stems from our awesome Old School Hack session a couple of weeks ago. It would need to be tweaked to be used in a traditional d20 system like we are running but I think we can come up with something.

As far as the setting of the campaign goes, we decided on a lower magical fantasy setting without gunpowder and laser beams. There will also be no physical manifestations of gods. However, we decided to leave demons and devils in the world but they are not considered monsters rather than gods.

All in all we accomplished a lot last night even if we didn't work on much of the world building itself. Mike found a game of sorts to use to build a world but I don't know if we are going to use that method or just draw up our own islands. I have found a few island maps to use as guidance if we end up designing them on our own but if not, I am definitely up for giving the world building game a shot too!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gaming Miniatures - Art or Tool?

I have finally picked up my paint brushes again after more than six months off from painting miniatures. I was really wondering how rusty I would be since this was my first long term break from the hobby since starting last year. Now let me first say that I am by no means a professional or do I ever plan to be. I got into miniature wargaming last year as an alternative to table top roleplaying simply due to the fact it only took one other player and I thought it would be easier to get games in with my crazy work schedule. That lasted for about 6 months and then I wasn't finding time or desire to either play or paint. I really enjoyed the two parts to the hobby though. I liked gaming and I found that I really liked painting and building miniatures and terrain.

If you have read any of my previous posts, you already know that I have recently gotten back in touch with my roleplaying group and have been having a great time. Seeing the mass amounts of miniatures that our host Mike has always gets me wanting to do some more work on mine at home.

This lead me to finally get my work bench cleaned up and break out the paints and brushes and get to work. Now I was definitely rusty with the first couple hundred strokes and still have a way to go before I get back to the skill level and confidence that I was previously at. However, I was surprised at how quickly the feel and knowledge is coming back to me. I have about 20 unpainted (now stripped clean of previous paint or primered) ready to be worked on. I have two going right now. One is a D&D looking knight or similarly armored adventurer which I am practicing my brush control due to the intricate details in the armor and on the shield. The other is a lowly skeletal warrior from Reaper that I took a shot at simply base coat colors and attempted to use the Army Painter Quickshade I have had since last year. I am not too happy with the current results. It appeared to leave a bit too much of the Quickshade on the miniature than I wanted. This may be due to the fact of me not shaking enough off or it might be the intended effect. As I said this was the first time I have used it. I also think I will change up the base colors more on the next attempt. I have not written this miniature off to be put into the Dettol bath just yet. I have some weathering effects I am going to use to practice and see how he comes out.

Once I get my stroke back and the few miniatures I have at home to paint (This does not count the hundreds of unpainted WH40K or Malifaux minis) I offered to help Mike get some of his vintage D&D minis painted up.

The question I have for others in the Table Top Gaming community is how much time and detail do you put into your miniatures? I know when I was doing the wargaming it was a big deal because many tournaments scored not only on your gaming points but also your painting and army composition. I am sure the detail put forth in Table Top Gaming varies drastically but I am just curious as I paint away on my own. Are you striving for effects such as Massive Voodoo, Awesome Paint Job or Laszlo from the Hot Lead DVD series? Or are you happy just to have a decently painted and based miniature to push around a grid on top of the table?

Some Samples of the three mentioned above. Some tremendous artists to say the least!

Massive Voodoo

Les Burley - Awesome Paint Job

Laszlo - Hot Lead DVD

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Old School Hack Shenanigans

Well our usually scheduled D&D gaming session was canceled due to a last minute family emergency with our GM. I am told everything is all right now thankfully. The rest of us that were already at our host's house discussed what we should do. Most of us seemed up for just about anything and one of our players (John) actually had a couple of gaming system print offs in his bag and volunteered to run an Old School Hack game for us all.

After a few minutes of gathering paper, creating characters (which were left up to chance with a roll of a dice just to make things interesting) and a brief run down of some rules we were off and running. Our adventure began with our party members (An Elf, Fighter, Goblin and Monk) drinking it up in a tavern. We immediately heard a commotion outside and all but the Elf rushed out the door to see what the trouble was. We quickly got accustomed to the fight mechanics with the use of "awesome points", which I will get to in just a moment. We did use a grid sheet that is almost always on the table but the system uses "arenas" to determine movement and proximity for fighting and shooting. It really didn't take much more than the first fight for us all to start getting the hang of things. Our Fighter (played by Mike) quickly dispatched the zombie dog type creature as I arrived at his side. Further down the alley a well dressed merchant fellow was creeping around and our night watchman feeling Goblin sneaked down that way in the shadows to investigate. The Goblin (played by Marc) was very civil yet authoritative in his attempt to question the merchant as the merchant tried to flee. I on the other hand used my blessed rod of LeeBruce to the head to knock him unconscious. The Elf (played by Matt) was somewhere still near the tavern wondering if he should pay the tab or join the party.

Seriously though this game was a lot of fun. We really got into the "awesome points" just having fun and laughing for about 3 and a half hours last night. I really enjoyed using these points to attempt crazy Kung Fu type moves as well as making way too many innuendos regarding my blessed rod. I was performing somersaults and cart wheels while doing attacks and just having a blast!

Our fellow gamer/blogger/host Mike actually mentioned Old School Hack won an ENnie this year and I had forgotten all about that. You check out Mike's blog (Swords & Dorkery) through the links to the right here where the blogs I follow are located, or by clicking here:

I would also suggest checking out Old School Hack for yourself if you haven't already. You can find their website here:

Lastly, don't forget to check out the list of ENnie winners and nominations list here: