Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Choose Your Destiny

So, the release of 5th Edition inspired my ill-conceived return behind the screen. After getting tentative committals from enough people to make a group (happily, mostly people I’ve never gamed with), the next question becomes: Are we actually going to be throwing down on 5th Edition?
The preview stuff for 5th looks phenomenal. The art is better and has more character than anything in 4th (and, let’s be honest, than some of the stuff in 3.X). Everything we’ve seen so far is geared more towards flavor than mechanics (Backgrounds even give you abilities that grant you no particular mechanical benefit, just storyline ones. That is amazing). I haven’t yet seen any of the monster entries so I don’t quite know how those work (and I may not get the opportunity until the Monster Manual drops next month), but from what I gather of the combat system it looks like it flows smoother and moves faster than 4th did.
Still, Pathfinder is looking pretty good at this point. For those of you reading who might not be familiar, Pathfinder is the game that came out after Wizards of the Coast ended Dungeons & Dragons’ 3rd (and 3.5) Edition series. My previous DM job was Pathfinder, and it has a couple of big benefits: it’s been out for several years and its full rules are available for free on the Interwebs.
Pictured: under consideration.
Those two items work in a very close tandem with each other. While the books are always better (and WotC, take note: Paizo sells cheap, brilliantly put together PDFs of their new releases on their website), we still have the option of using six years of character options and customizations for nothing. This could be huge when for getting everybody I’d like together to rock this campaign: most of us are on opposite sides of the country and getting everyone together to share a book simply isn’t an option.
So that brings us to Dungeons & Dragons. As of this writing, I’ve only had the chance to peruse the Basic Rules. The Player’s Handbook drops this week, but money may be a barrier (and as much as I love that they did the Basic Rules as a free download, that puppy is not going to satisfy me or my group, I don’t think). Then we have to wait a month for the Monster Manual to release. We have the monsters released with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but those are without fluff and a little incomplete in places. It’s going to cost money and time (I’ve never been a “run the adventure out of the module” guy).
Pictured: under consideration.
Having discussed this with a couple of my players, we’re going to start off with D&D. We really want to support a good quality game, and it looks like 5th Edition is. I’m willing to let WotC win me back.
I’m just glad nobody wanted to play 4th Edition.
Pictured: Nnnnnnope.

Discussion Question: Holler back at me, humans. What game are you planning on playing after 5th releases? Making the jump to 5th? Ready to give me a good talking-to over my jokes about 4E? Sticking with 3.5 or Pathfinder? Are you more of a GURPS sort of person? Do you like something else? Lemme know, guys and gals.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Roll For Initiative

I swear to God I was out.

My last campaign had collapsed, as campaigns eventually do. It was the third time in my roleplaying career where I’d tried and failed to tell the whole campaign story that I’d wanted to tell, and I figured, well, I gave it the best shot I could. I’d been playing Dungeons & Dragons or related products (re: Pathfinder) since I was nineteen. I was tired of the weekly grind while I had a full-time job and a webcomic and was trying to get the art career moving forward, and that was the time that the campaign collapsed, and it was the perfect point to just let the hobby go. I had some great memories, made some great friends, told some great stories, but I was just done.

But you’re never really done.

Against my better judgment, I started following along on what Wizards of the Coast was doing with the new edition of D&D. Mostly just to scoff at it: one of the big issues with 4th Edition, I believe, was a desire to be all things to all gamers, and that injured the product. Certainly 5th was looking to be going down the same road: releasing an open beta for a tabletop game really seemed like a signal saying “Please love us. Please. We’ll do anything to make you all happy,” like a puppy that got swatted on the ass and spoken sternly to, the only problem with that plan being that it takes a fair bit more than cuteness to create a successful Dungeons & Dragons game.

So I would chuckle, close whichever article I was reading at the time, and go about my day.

But I kept finding my way back, seeing what was going on, and seeing how people were responding to the Beta. I didn’t actually drop my subscriptions to game art blogs or the like, and I told myself it was just because it was an easy way to see fantasy art.

And then WotC released the Basic rules for free and everything went to hell.

Seeing the new art and the previews and game mechanics and presentation made me realize: I really, really want to throw some dice. I really, really want to come up with terrifying threats and strange mysteries to challenge my players with. I really want those moments when someone says something hilarious in-character and I really want those moments when all conversation stops as the players wait for the DM’s other shoe to drop.

Maybe I needed a break. Maybe I’m being foolishly nostalgic. Maybe I’m just an addict. But I’m not out.

So. This will project will be story of the campaign, from conception to death. I’m going to chronicle absolutely as much of it as possible. Hopefully you’ll learn something from my process, and I want to learn stuff from you as we go on.

Mythic Histories: The story of a guy who puts way, way too much effort into this stuff.