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Generic Dungeons, Universal Dragons

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the roll-to-soak dept.


It's been about six months since we took the pen and paper gaming industry's temperature. There have been some important product releases since November, many of them well worth looking at. Steve Jackson Games continues to release books for its Fourth Edition of GURPS, and Wizards of the Coast works to expand the appeal of both the core Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) setting and the Eberron campaign world. Read on for some highlights from the world of tabletop gaming.Spell Compendium
Matthew Sernett, Jeff Grubb, Mike McArtor
Wizards of the Coast
$39.95, 288 pages

A purely functional book for D&D, the Spell Compendium is exactly as the title implies: a text collecting spells. As an 'options' book for players, it's hard to argue with the punch of the content. The book does exactly one thing. Spells from such disparate sources as the Complete series of books, the Wizards of the Coast website, and Dragon Magazine were compiled to provide an interesting, fresh set of magical effects for spellcasting characters. The book focuses solely on providing additional spells; My players objected to the title of 'compendium' considering the absence of the spells from the Player's Handbook (PHB). Unfortunately the search for novelty results in what you'd expect from a product like this: extremely variable. While some entries make you wonder why they weren't in the PHB, there are also many confusing or unbalanced ideas. At forty dollars retail it's hard to recommend a product that has such inconsistency in the content. If only on the basis of player/Game Master (GM) arguments, there's a lot of opportunity for frustration as a result of this book. This is definitely a title you can take a pass on unless you only play spellcasters and have a GM who is willing to negotiate with you.

Races of the Dragon
Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jennifer Clarke Wilkes,Kolja Raven Liquette
Wizards of the Coast
$29.95, 160 pages

The Races series attempts to fill the same niche with player species as the Complete series does with player classes. Each book concentrates on familiar races, gives new background for enthusiastic players, and offers up one or two new races suitable for character creation. Races of the Dragon is somewhat unique, in that it focuses solely on new races for players tired of the standard set. Specifically, it details the Dragonborne, Spellscale, and Kobold races as options for D&D characters. The Dragonborne are a race created, not birthed, a proud warrior race touched by the dragon god Bahamut. Spellscales are vainglorious sorcerers, an impish people with an ingrained sense of style. Kobolds are, of course, the diminutive reptilian race usually slaughtered in large numbers by early-level adventurers. Of the races discussed in the book, the Kobold information is far and away the most interesting to me. An often overlooked race, the simple creatures receive a good deal of fleshing out. As a member of a non-standard party or a quirky addition to your typical humanoid group the Kobold seems to have a lot of potential in this book. The other two races strike me as simple cosmetics: Dragonborne are statistically just magical orcs (though the concept of your character being reborn is an interesting one), and Spellscales feel like elves with shiny skin. The book also touches on half-dragons and dragonblooded creatures, and provides the usual assortment of feats, prestige classes, and spells (my favorite: Gnome Blight). As one of the iconic elements of fantasy, I can understand that there are some folks who just have to play dragons, and they'll find a lot to like here. Similarly if you're looking to complete your collection of the Races books, Races of the Dragon meets the standard set by the other titles in the series. Dungeon Masters (DMs) and non-dracophile players can safely pass; this one's pure candy.

Magic of Eberron
Bruce R. Cordell, Stephen Schubert, Chris Thomasson
Wizards of the Coast
$29.95, 160 pages

Keith Baker's Eberron setting has taken on a life of its own since it launched almost exactly two years ago. The background for Dungeons and Dragons Online, the pulp/noir/fantasy mashup is now Wizards of the Coast's premier product series. Magic of Eberron does a fantastic job of getting across core elements of the setting, elements that have been so far unclear or under-explained. With only two years of development behind it, there is still a lot about the continent of Khorvaire that's not nailed down. For example, creating magical items with Dragonshards is thoroughly covered. Dragonshards power many of the vaguely technology-inspired elements of the setting, and this fundamental flavour element speaks volumes about the world at large. Nightmarish Daelkyr magic, dragon magic, and grafting magic is also explored. Each of these elements not only adds rules grit to the setting, but explains and expands the background presented in the main campaign sourcebook.The tome also manages to balance the fine line between DM and Player content; background information is mixed well with feats, prestige classes, and spells. The Eberron preoccupation with 'places' also works well here, offering up barely sketched out dungeons to add information by example. This is definitely one of the most interesting and informative Eberron resources that has been released to date. Players and Dungeon Masters who are working with this setting should at least take a look. It may not fit your campaign's playstyle, but there is sure to be something here that will spark ideas for later.

Heroes of Horror
James Wyatt, Ari Marmell, C.A. Suleiman
Wizards of the Coast
$29.95, 160 pages

Most D&D products focus on the specific: a sourcebook covering a geographical area, a type of magic, a class or race. Heroes of Horror is the second book in a more thematic series that attempts to add a new twist to the standard Dungeons and Dragons game. Horror, and the previous book Heroes of Battle provides rules and guidelines to focus your campaign beyond the traditional fantasy tropes. As you may guess from the title, Heroes of Horror offers ways in which to include elements from the suspenseful and supernatural we normally associate with games like Call of Cthulu. I'm a big Lovecraft fan, and I was skeptical when I cracked the book if such delicate setting elements could be incorporated via a core book. I should have respected Mr. Wyatt's name on the cover more, because Horror is an unmitigated success. The secret to that success is the light touch the authors take with the source material. Instead of attempting to convey the genre in one go, they break the milieu down into digestible chunks. First they explain how to set the stage for a horror-style encounter (one specific fight, or scene). Then, using the language established with the encounter they expand that to an entire adventure. The Lovecraftian use of suspense, of lurid language, and the need to heighten tension over time is explored with ghoulish examples. Then they take the final step and work with the reader to understand what would be involved in a horror campaign. A series of adventures all with a horror theme could take the players into relatively untrod territory in D&D, and the book is a great guide for the journey. They add a mechanic for 'taint', the psychic residue left behind by dealing with the horrific, but that's just crunch thrown in to make sure you feel like you got your money's worth. Definitely not a book for every Dungeon Master, those that are willing to experiment a little with the traditional D&D experience will find a very worthwhile read here. Players need not apply.

GURPS For Dummies
Adam Griffith, Bjoern-Erik Hartsfvang, and Stuart J. Stuple
$13.99, 410 pages

Wiley's series of cheery yellow books continues to expand beyond the borders of technology. This title, along with Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies and Dungeon Master for Dummies seems to represent a new commitment to pen-and-paper gaming. I'm not going to question it, I'm just going to enjoy it. With GURPS for Dummies, there's a lot to enjoy. GURPS stands for Generic Universal RolePlaying System, and is designed with the idea that you can run any kind of game you like using the rules they provide. Anything from fantasy schlock to post-apocalyptic sci-fi to hard-science space adventure can be represented with the system. The downside to the flexibility the system provides is that it's ... a little fussy. GURPS character creation relies on set of advantages and disadvantages, each of which has a point cost or payout. This entry in the Dummies series distills down the complexities into the most basic elements, and then walks the reader through point expenditures step-by-step. Even if used as nothing other than as a first-time player aid, this text is well worth the price of admission. Above and beyond that, they walk through combat, running a GURPS game, and provide some guidance on creating a campaign world suitable for use with the rules set. The combat section is especially brilliant, breaking down options, actions, and skill rolls, and explaining what the best route to finishing a fight is likely to be. My players often joke that no one actually plays GURPS, because the popularity of the system's sourcebook content far outweighs the popularity of the rules-set. Just the same, if you do find yourself looking to get in on a game this is a worthwhile explanatory text for a very ambitious system.

Jon F. Zeigler and James L. Cambias
Steve Jackson Games
$34.95, 240 pages

While it might be that no one plays GURPS, it's easy to understand why the books sell so well. GURPS supplements are works of art in the roleplaying industry. They're well researched texts, something similar to an informational piledriver. I've known grad students in difficult college courses who refer to GURPS books as a way to get a handle on the assigned subject matter. GURPS Space is a new edition of a classic sourcebook for the line, complete with updated scientific information and new rules to match the fourth edition of the rules-set. Quite simply, this book is the finest resource you will find for running a campaign set in space. It covers, exhaustively, every detail you'll need to consider when your players blast off into the black. The granularity of the subject matter begins quite large, expounding on information like methods of propulsion, interstellar organizations, and the theme of your campaign. It then quickly descends into the nooks and crannies of off-planet science, offering up the rules governing a moon's tidal force on a planet ((T = 17.8 million x M X D)/R^3), as well as the proper placement of planetary orbits around a star. The text has random generation rules for everything from individual alien species to entire solar systems, and ties it all together with a great discussion of future societies at the end. They even include guidelines if your players decide to conquer a planet or two, and what that would entail. ('The Cortez Option', as they call it.) Even if you don't play GURPS, it's hard to recommend against this book if you're considering running a game in the briny black. Heck, even if you don't roleplay, there is enough here to keep a space nerd happy for a month's worth of afternoons.

A Player's Guide to Ptolus
Monte Cook
Sword and Sorcery
$2.99, 32 pages

Five copies of this small sourcebook showed up in my mailbox last week, a harbinger of the release this August of the massive 600+ page Ptolus setting book from Malhavoc Press, in conjunction with the Sword and Sorcery imprint from White Wolf games. The book being released in August is going to be an enormous campaign setting book thoroughly exploring a single city. The five copies I received in the mail were 'rewards' for preordering the book, intended to be given out to my players to excite their appetite for the setting. I'm a sucker for a setting, so here's one of my cynical player's assessment of the book: "Who know if the final price will be worth it, but the little promo looks good. Admittedly I read it pretty late at night, but I didn't notice anything really worth complaining about. I liked how there's a strong element of evil in the setting, not just 'island of civilization beset by darkness' type stuff." In short, the Player's Guide gives every indication that the larger book will offer up a pretty unique setting. Firearms sit side-by-side with swords in the markets, and the populous is well-informed about the dangers of spellcasting. Minotaurs and cat-people walk the streets without incident (or, at least, little more than subtle glares), and every street in the city will be named and numbered. Here's hoping this year's GenCon will see the release of another really worthwhile campaign setting from Malhavoc.

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Pen and Paper? (3, Funny)

BengalsUF (145009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264622)

What be this pen and paper of which you speak?

Re:Pen and Paper? (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264643)

> What be this pen and paper of which you speak?

It's like a MMORPG, but with content.

(And because most player interaction is verbal, it doesn't matter whether or not DungeonMasterTaco can spell :)

Re:Pen and Paper? (2, Insightful)

cryptomancer (158526) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265014)

Don't forget the funny dice with wierd shapes! Content is good and all (depending on the developer/DM), but you know some people play just because of the innovative system. Just imagine, instead of black-box results which can only be understood by statistically analyzing the game for hours or days on end, we *give* you the numbers and the random number generators from the start!

Well okay, you have to go buy your own dice... but then you get to choose cool-looking ones, too!

Re:Pen and Paper? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264815)

Which brings up an interesting point. I used to play Silent Death and Battletech, years ago, and one of the annoying things was copying the datasheets so you could check off damage and the like. There has certainly got to be PDA based datasheets now, don't you think? Sort of a convergance of electronic and tactile gaming?

If not, I call the copyrighted patenting trademarking rights!

Re:Pen and Paper? (2, Informative)

irablum (914844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264959)

for Battletech, its even gotten better. thanks to the guys at Heavy Metal Pro [heavymetalpro.com] there is a windows application which allows you to not only get access to all mechs from all of the books (even some of the really obscure ones) but also allows you to customize them and then print them out. No more am I using coversheets and dry erase markers to perserve sheets, now, just mark the damage and throw them away at the end....

fun fun!


Re:Pen and Paper? (1)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265008)

'Pen' is just another word for 'mouse' and I think 'paper' refers to any surface on the screen that can be directly modified by use of the mouse.

Spell Compendium :-) (0, Offtopic)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264624)

Congratulations to Zonk. You've authored an article containing 14 words (or words containing) 'spell' - and not a single spelling mistake (unlike this post).

Truly, a Slashdot first!

I await the spelling mistakes in the inevitable dupe (and the corrections to my spelling in the inevitable replies)

Re:Spell Compendium :-) ALMOST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264717)


populous should have been populace

It'll pass a spell check but the word was used incorrectly.

Re:Spell Compendium :-) ALMOST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264903)

Then it's technically a grammar mistake, not a spelling mistake.

WOTC+D&D (2, Interesting)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264629)

Ive been loving what WOTC has done with the D&D franchise. Many say they dumbed it down(and they did), but they completely rivtalized what was a dying franchise save the hardcore. My only complaint is that Eberron is not appealing at all imo. Not many groups have been bothering with that setting. Forgotten Realms/Greyhawk still seem to be top dogs by a far margin. I just cant get into the Eberron setting.

Re:WOTC+D&D (2, Insightful)

DanHibiki (961690) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264662)

Cheers. They really made it accessable and fun. Though I wish there weren't so damn manny books. It seems that each day someone brings in a new book to the campaign.

Re:WOTC+D&D (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264754)

3E sucks shit.

Seriously... why did all you bloody nerds sink more money into that shit when your 2E stuff was just as good? Oh, that's right... you're the same guys who buy top of the line PCs every couple months and the star wars movies in every format they come out in.

Well, I'm glad the marketing gurus have figured out how to seperate you from your money without giving you anything in return.

Re:WOTC+D&D (1)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264782)

Hehe...you have no idea how true that is. ps i will be buying the SW trilogy in original format on DVD too.

Re:WOTC+D&D (2, Informative)

WolfStar76 (708609) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264881)

YAY! Nothing like a Well formed opinion on Slashdot! I don't suppose you'd mind telling us what it is, in particular, that sucks about 3E? Based on your complaint about marketing sucking more money out of people, I'll presume its cost. To that I'd like to counter that the basics of the game are available for free as part of the SRD. You want to try 3.5E? Try a website like www.d20srd.org [d20srd.org]. Everything you need to play the game is right there. The rest of the material is only useful if you want to add to the game (more spells, more prestige classes, new items, etc etc etc). Most of that stuff you can make up on your own if you don't want to buy it. In the meantime, many of us are quite enjoying the new streamlined rules, the abundance of customizable options for our characters (in the form of Feats and Skills to name but two), and the option of having rules for an AC range with more than a 20 point delta.

Re:WOTC+D&D (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265143)

You fell for a 3rd level Troll. Or was that a Level 3 Troll? Or was that a Troll in the third level of the dungeon?

Hmm, maybe 3E doesn't suck as much as the GP claims...

Why 3e sucks (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265197)

I'm not the grandparent poster, but I agree with him/her wholeheartedly.

3e and 3.5e suck because:

Feats - although some may argue a way to individualize a character, actually complicate the process of level advancement tremendously. Further, with the possible exception of a handful of them, they seem largely geared towards producing the power-character... a character who is, by the time he reaches 20th level, a pen and paper version of some sort of anime fighter character from Dragonball Z.

And speaking of reaching 20th level - WTF??? I can count on one hand the number of characters I played for years in pre3e AD&D that even made it past level 8, and I only had one ever make it as high as level 12. With WotC's new rules, a player can very easily and within the framework of the rules as given acquire a 20th level character within a few months of gaming a few hours every week.

Skills - which complicate the process of character creation and level advancement, as players often spend considerable time figuring out which skills they should put skill points into. A simpler mechanism was employed back before the Skills and Powers option was created for 2e, you either had the ability, or you didn't. There was nothing else to keep track of. 3e's mechanism involves too much beancounting.

Ability score increases every few levels - this further propogates the mindset that the only good character is an uber powerful character with great stats. Although there are some fabulous roleplayers that do play 3e, they are vastly outnumbered by players in their teens and early twenties whose time could be equally well spent playing a video game.

Stacking modifiers for combat - While initially appearing like a simple idea, it actually is very complex, because you're adding, for example with a missile weapon, your base combat bonus, your dexterity bonus, your range bonus, any bonuses that are applicable because of class abilities or feats, and magic bonuses. Further, not all of these bonuses apply in every situation, so one can quickly lose track of what they should be adding together and what they should not. Again, this is bean counting that does not enhance game play.

3e's spell selection - Ugh! It sucks! Really! It might initially appear to be largely the same as earlier editions, but closer examination shows that it is not. Many spells are simply rehashed versions of a spell at a lower level but with more power. And even worse, IMO, is the fact that the different classes' spells are not particularly distinctive; spells for one class are often little more than renamed versions of another spell of the same level in another class. This is especially bad with psionics, which once bore the distinction of being very unique and different from spellcasting now feels like nothing more than just another class of magic.

Any class can do anything at the cost of a feat or cross class skill - This option almost completely dissolves the class archetypes that were once a staple of fantasy roleplaying games.

Overall mechanics - 3e, when all is said and done, is little more than a pen and paper version of a computer game like Diablo or some such thing. It is a poor, poor replacement for classic AD&D and I, for one, mourn its loss. AD&D had a balanced ruleset in the sense that making changes to the game, or house-ruling, was not only possible, but encouraged, and that doing so was unlikely to cause any serious ramifications outside of the domain in which the house rule was made. However, 3e goes overboard, trying to meticulously "overbalance" the rules, and the result is a result so firmly laid out that sometimes even the simplest change by a DM can have far reaching implications that throw game balance out the proverbial window.

WotC has turned my beloved hobby into a game that appears to be explicitly designed to appeal to the instant gratification desires of today's videogame generation. The only similarities between it and the original game that Gary Gygax created are highly superficial.

Re:Why 3e sucks (1)

tolendante (865207) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265622)

"Any class can do anything at the cost of a feat or cross class skill - This option almost completely dissolves the class archetypes that were once a staple of fantasy roleplaying games." I can't comment on your other concerns because I haven't actually played 3E D&D (heck, I haven't played any edition D&D in nearly 20 years);however, I disagree that the softening of archetypes is a bad thing. I always found it frustrating that characters were so locked into a particular class with basic D&D and later AD&D and 2nd edition. I suppose it makes sense that a seventy-year old mage wouldn't be able to swing a sword deftly, but I see no reason that a young mage couldn't possibly have physical skills to allow him to be great in combat or a muscle-bound fighter to be smart enough to learn some spells. I appreciated the dual-class options from 2nd Edition (were those there in 1st also?) and often played a fighter-mage or other combo.

Re:WOTC+D&D (1)

TommyBlack (899306) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265152)

I'm not sure what you meant by "Not many groups have been bothering with that setting"... Everybody I know loves eberron, and the books seem to be selling well enough.

No news about Palladium? (5, Informative)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264639)

http://forums.palladium-megaverse.com/viewtopic.ph p?t=57048 [palladium-megaverse.com]

Doesn't look promising.

This was flamebait HOW? (1)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264696)

Y'know, if it had been modded Offtopic I'd be irked but lick my wounds. Mentioning an RPG company in trouble in the context of a story about paper/pen gaming platforms wasn't meant to start an argument, it was a comment that not everything is rosy in this arena and it's worth looking at.

Oh. Wait. I get it. Someone got offended by a sig satirizing someone else's sig.

Re:This was flamebait HOW? (1)

zaren (204877) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264817)

My very first thought when I saw this article was to mention the palladium debacle. Glad to see someone beat me to it. I think it's very on-topic, considering this is a "state of the industry" article, and you'd get mod points for it if I had them.

Re:No news about Palladium? (2, Interesting)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264784)

I think the link is /. but I miss palladium. I used to thoroughly enjoy their "After the Bomb" mutant stuff. I still have them in my closet. Never got into Rifts though.

Re:No news about Palladium? (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264860)

Read the status updates in that forum. It looks VERY promising. They've had $200,000 worth of business in the two weeks since that 'plea for help' was made. Kevin (the founder of Palladium,) has stated that it looks like they are going to recover now.

(And for those nay-sayers who will just blame their troubles on the N-Gage game... They didn't LOSE any money on it, it just didn't bring any money IN. Nokia is the one who lost money.)

Re:No news about Palladium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264902)

It was still a god damned stupid idea, which characterizes the Palladium leadership as a whole.

Re:No news about Palladium? (1)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265072)

So, Nokia ponied up all the cash to manufacture and package the game chips for the N-Gage and didn't request any money from their developer? It's possible, but sounds unlikely.

I didn't mean to troll, but someone begging on the Internet for a sum between $850K - $1.3M sounded like he was circling the drain. Good for the fans. I don't play their games, but the worst thing for any market is watching it turn into an oligopoly of two or three companies.

Re:No news about Palladium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265117)

i think that with PnP games, if you have never played it you dont care about it. i submitted that Palladium Books story the day it was published thinking how much of an issue it would be if one of the top 5 RPG game publishers went out of business from embezelment and theft it would be big news.

Alas, "Palladium Books Suffers Theft; Call for Help 12:33 PM April 21st, 2006 Rejected".

Too bad... (1)

jaaron (551839) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265291)

I have a huge collection of Rifts RPG books as well as several other Palladium books. At one point, I had most of the books they had printed. But I feel they've really strayed. Their game system is broken and the point of each book is to just supply bigger, better, badder weapons and spells and whatnot. It completely throws off the game balance. It's been a while since I've played Rifts and I'm much happier with the new D20 system.

That said, I'd hate to see them go under given the circumstances as reported.

Re:No news about Palladium? (1)

RSKennan (835119) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265457)

I submitted an article when the story broke, but I think it meandered too much to get approved.

GURPS Space (4, Interesting)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264712)

I have to agree with the GURPS Space thing. I haven't played GURPS in probably 15 years but I still love to read some of the books. Especially GURPS Space is very interesting reading because it compiles a whole bunch of research knowledge down into a single digestible book.

Lack of opportunity (5, Insightful)

ApathyCollider (972850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264724)

You know, this story justs reminds how much I've wanted to get into pen and paper rpgs lately, but can't find anyone within 50 miles who runs them. I don't know if it's just Pittsburgh or what, but the internet is pretty useless for locating games, and as a beginner I can't really start my own. I think if some of the bigger companies came out and made like a uniform game location tool, popularity would skyrocket.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264786)

Actaully, I'm from the Pittsburgh area and there is an active gaming community here. The questions come down to where in the area do you live and how far are you willing to travel.

Unfortunatly gaming shops don't advertise much and that's the fertile ground for getting involved in the local gaming scene. I live about 5 miles from my closest gaming shop and I will say that unless you walked up to the store front to see what the store is all about you'd probably not guess it was a gaming store.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

ApathyCollider (972850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264822)

Well actually I'm shocked to hear that so quickly. I'd be really interested in getting into it, though, I live in Oakland, and I go to Pitt in a liberal arts capacity so naturally I have a tons of free time. (Unlike CS or Engineers who are up at 8AM for 2 hour chem labs, I generally saunter down to my history electives around 2pm). If you're in the area and wouldn't mind picking up an extra guy, I'd love to get in touch with you about it.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265204)

You do realize that pitt has a pen and paper roleplaying student group? Last I heard they meet in the student union about once a week or so. I could be a bit out of date though ^_^; PJAC is also (or used to be) filled with pen and paper peeps.

Re:Lack of opportunity (5, Informative)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264798)

http://www.rpol.net/ [rpol.net]

A good resource for either playing online, via forum/group posting, as well as a player/gm locator for such games, and I do believe they have other resources for finding live tabletop rpg games.

There are also a huge number of Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups games going, not to mention LiveJournal and Greatest Journal rpgs.

You can also find games on IRC, which are a bit more interactive (not to mention faster).

I realize these games lack some of the things a live tabletop game offers, such as the social time and friendly banter, but I think these sorts of forums are good for those who can't find live games elsewhere, or who don't have 6 hours to set aside on a regular basis to roleplay.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265004)

I've been trying unsuccessfully for years to get a group going. The problems have typically been things like a) the rest of the group has more time/money to spend on stuff and i just can't keep up, b) gamers apparently think that hygiene is... optional, c) once you get past college, the numbers are pretty thin.

All of these things are directly related to the fact that I (and people my age) have a family, a job, responsibilities, etc. There just doesn't seem to be a venue for the average, everyday, thirtysomething suburbanite.

On that note, it's been my personal opinion that average, everyday, thirtysomething suburbanites still think pen and paper RPG's are for kids, yet they latch on to the latest MMORPG. In fact, I would say it's the other way around.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

Poleris (811180) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265035)

If you live in Oakland, why don't you come down to Carnegie Mellon? Lord knows we have quite a bunch of DnD going around here.

Re:Lack of opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265477)

Within 50 miles of Pittsburgh?

http://www.tjccc.com/ [tjccc.com]

The store is closed now, but people there still actively play D&D. Email the owner (link on website) to see if you can join in.

Re:Lack of opportunity (1)

Allison Geode (598914) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265535)

i have a similar problem, and I thought 'hmm, maybe i'll check the gameshops.' unfortunately, the people at the gameshops (that are *just* games, and not game-comic hybrid) are incredibly rude to me. I'm not sure if its because I'm in 'newb' status (I've been out of the pen and paper loop for a few years) or if its because I'm not exactly 'one of the guys' and they just don't know how to talk to me without making complete asses of themselves (every time i've been in these places, i was the only one who wasn't a droolingly-nerdy guy; the stereotypes are true!)
but either way, i'd love to get back into gaming, but its difficult to do so!

Re:Lack of opportunity (0, Offtopic)

Arivia (783328) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265577)

Currently, I'm looking for players for a D&D 3.5 Forgotten Realms game(Undermountain), and a sometime-to-be Mage: The Awakening game. The Undermountain game is on Wednesday nights, while the Mage game is currently set to be run on Mondays --- both are online, over IRC, and I attempt to be beginner-friendly. E-mail me for details if interested.

GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264726)

The fourth edition is really great. Totally reworked a lot of things I thought were broken from the beginning. All skills progress at the same rate now. DX and IQ cost way more than HT and ST now, but they don't increase in cost. Advantages and Disadvantages can be modified with Enhancements and Limitations. The rules have, in general, been simplified and made logically consistent.

I have the "Characters," "Campaigns," and "Magic" books right now and have been waiting for the "Space" book so I can update my third edition space campaign. A new version of "Vehicles" would be nice, too.

Not to be too fanboyish, but GURPS beats any other tabletop RPG hands down for clarity, simplicity, realism, and playability. Plus it only uses 6 sided dice. It has the largest collection of licensed game worlds of any system, including Conan, Uplift and Riverworld, among others. Plus, it has a huge collection of historical supplements allowing people to role play in historically accurate game worlds from the Aztecs to the Vikings.

So all you other RPGers out there who haven't, please give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your huge bag of polyhedral dice.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

Kuang_Eleven (932035) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264864)

GURPS is wonderful, my system of choice, bu i just can't justify making all my 3rd Ed. "crunchy" rulebooks obsolete. I just about about have every crunchy rulebook! Now, my question is, do you know if 4th edition is that much of a leap and a bound above 3rd with GULLIVER thrown in?

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264951)

I've never like the GULLIVER unofficial rules all that much, but 4th edition is a big improvement over 3rd. Plus, you don't need to throw anything away, just make a few simple conversions. I mean, some of the 3rd edition stuff that's out of print probably won't get redone anyways.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264867)

Not to be too fanboyish, but GURPS beats any other tabletop RPG hands down for clarity, simplicity, realism, and playability. Plus it only uses 6 sided dice. It has the largest collection of licensed game worlds of any system, including Conan, Uplift and Riverworld, among others. Plus, it has a huge collection of historical supplements allowing people to role play in historically accurate game worlds from the Aztecs to the Vikings.

Y'know, if you've got a system that works equally well with weird space monstrosities and with stone-age tribes and with pirates and Vikings and so forth...


* heads over to Google and types in 'gurps "doctor who"' and wonders what stat bonuses might be conveyed by a recorder, a bag of jelly babies and / or the Key to Time, and how much one might expect to pay per month for one of those call-through-time SIM cards *

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264982)

They come free when you buy or steal a TARDIS, kick Davros in the Ninnies, and build your own robotic dog.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265025)

There was a Who RPG a while back. It was kind of odd because it was only one sourcebook and that was sold as a regular paperback. I can't remember if Virign published it but it was around the time Virgin was publishing Who novels that I saw it. It was a system that only used six-sided dice. I kick myself for not buying it when I found it. It looked like rubbish but would've been fun to have around just for the sake of it.

I'd seriously consider updating my GURPS collection to include some Dr Who.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265591)

Actually, I found a Dr. Who The Roleplaying Game box-set in a local gaming store not far from my place. Picked it up for $5 or something like that.

It contains, as I recall, 3 books: a Game Master's Guide, a Player's Guide and a Time Lord handbook.

It was published by FASA and uses an unusual and complex system with lots of tables and such (though it had some neat rules for automatic resolution of skills).

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265237)

If you want to do Who, you should use Hero System 5.

Absolute Time Sense
Danger Sense
Universal Translator
Simulate Death
Teleportation (Time/Unlimited Range/Obvious Inaccessible Focus)
Find Weakness
Mind Control (only on friendly target/limited to suggestion)
and then 20 INT and a billion points into various skills.

And, of course, Dependent NPC.

Fun stuff.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265600)

>> heads over to Google and types in 'gurps "doctor who"' and wonders what stat bonuses might be conveyed by a recorder, a bag of jelly babies and / or the Key to Time, and how much one might expect to pay per month for one of those call-through-time SIM cards

There have been threads discussing Doctor Who in GURPS on the SJGames forum. See:
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=14788 [sjgames.com]
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=15351 [sjgames.com]

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264968)

You have nothing to lose but your huge bag of polyhedral dice.

But I don't want to give up my nutsack!

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (2, Funny)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265089)

You have nothing to lose but your huge bag of polyhedral dice.

Except for those six sided polyhedrons we call cubes...

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265365)

Yeah, I got the 4e books out of curiosity and wow it is more organized than 3e. The rules are very similar, with (as you said) some welcome stat additions (separate HP, Will, and FP for instance). They've also folded Psi into advantages, which is ... interesting, at least. Definitely a bit less confusing, with the downside that it's not quite as focused as before.

Re:GURPS Space next on my 'Must Buy' list. (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265507)

I've been a big fan of Steve Jackson's creativity since I compared Melee to the combat system in Basic D&D almost thirty years ago.

But I haven't done much more than collect books since I got married the first time... Supporting a wife and a house and a child doesn't leave much time... and I'm away from all my friends who used to game...

It's the middle-aged geek's lament.

I am happy to say... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264730)

.. that I have no freakin' clue what we're talking about.

Eberron and the state of D&D (5, Interesting)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264760)

There are a lot of things WoTC could be doing to revitalize D&D, but they're not doing any of them. Lets have a look at what they did do:
A long time ago, probably in someone's basement Ed Greenwood developed Forgotten Realms. He developed it for his group, and someone caught wind of it. It turned into phenomenon. It was home grown, made purely for fun, and spawned countless wonderful hours. He wasn't a professional, he didn't do it for money, he did it to enrich his group's play.

WoTC tried to duplicate that by soliciting submissions from everyone and creating a new line based on their original home grown idea. They had judges, a competition, etc. I'm surprised Fox didn't air it. Forgotten Realms was far from dead, and many continued to enjoy playing in it. They decided to abandon what was working, and try and force the same success the line had had under TSR.
I'm not sure how this has worked out for them. I've only just gotten the Eberron Campaign setting, from the bargain bin, over 50% off. That is probably pretty telling.

What else have they done besides trying to capture old glory? They gave the video game license to Atari. I really hope they gave the license itself a tube of KY after doing so. Atari has done nothing but produce crap. Temple of Elemental Evil was the only product that showed promise, and Atari bungled that beyond recognition. Its actually shown so much promise that a group of fans have gone on to work diligently in recreated B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. Atari long ago abanonded it. This engine had the potential to be the next "Gold Box" line of games. Instead they created a mediocre RTS, and a mediocre MMORPG. Because those are all the rage. They also had that bad LoTR rip-off with Demon-stone or whatever it was.

Sometimes the right thing to do is suck it up, give Troika a little more money and realize that you could probably sell 5-10 more games using that engine without a problem.

What else is around the corner for D&D? NWN2. Ah...Bethesda. The providers of such quality games as Oblivion. Anyone with a critical eye can easily realize what a bad console port the PC version of this game is. Its VERY shiny. Its a lot like that hot model with the vacant stare. I don't really want to talk to it the morning after. I'm not particularly optimistic about NWN2.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264876)

>>I'm not particularly optimistic about NWN2.

The original NWN had a crappy campaign. However, I was patient enough to wait for all the cool community made modules to start flowing into the NWVault. Because of all the homemade modules, NWN has been on my PC ever since it debuted and I play it a few times a month on average. If NWN2 has that kind of replay value, I won't care about the quality of the campaign.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265111)

Its not the campaign itself that I care about. I see NWN more as it was originally intended. Originally it was meant as a modable DMing tool, they included the campaign to add some value to the purchase. So you could play it out of the box. I think Obsidian is placing too much emphasis on the campaign from the bit I've read about it, and I'm worried they're going to be dropping the ball on the more important parts, like the modding tools.

I really hope they don't try to significantly alter the gameplay itself either. I think most people are really just looking for:
1)Improved graphics support
2)more modding tools
3)more included resources like more creatures, spell effects, etc

NWN2 (2, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265250)

I've been closely following Obsidian Entertainment's development of NWN2 and so far I'm quite happy with their approach. They've completely redone the graphics and toolset, kept the part of the game that worked (rules engine and scripting system), and are focusing on a single player game that so far sounds quite good.

In the last few days, they've released new screenshots [atari.com] (and here [gamebanshee.com]), as well as new movies [ign.com]. So far, it looks to be a very pretty game at least.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

teeseejay (967400) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264887)

Ok, i give up. What's Bethesda got to do with NWN2? Obsidian Entertainment is developing NWN2, Atari is distributing.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265083)

That was me thinking about something else half-way through a long post ;)
The example I meant to give was about Kotor II and how they didn't really do all that much with what was given to them, it didn't really look better, and it seemed to have a lot of issues Kotor I didn't have.

you'll have to forgive me because I just started stats this week, and I read like 75 pages of it today ;)

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265247)

Kotor II was released early at the demand of Lucasarts. The early release is why the game appeared half-finished and had plenty of problems. It was half-finished, Lucasarts just didn't care.

    I used to think that was an extremely well known fact, since every gaming site in the known universe carried something about it. Apparently, there are still people deriding Bioware for Lucasarts not giving them time to finish the game.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265321)

Bioware didn't make Kotor II...
Obsidian did.
I believe much or part of Obsidian is old Bioware employees, but not the same.

Either way, Atari isn't any different than Lucasarts in that regard. They screwed with Troika and the release of ToEE. Taking an older build and at the last minute forcing them to make game breaking changes (like removing children from the game, which broke somethings, and having them remove the brothel which broke other things).

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

brother_b (16716) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265090)

I haven't really taken much of a look at Eberron, other than using the 4-page character sheets from it for out Forgotten Realms campaigns since they're laid out better than the standard 3.5e sheets. Our group pretty much does FR exclusively and has been doing so since 2000. We're familiar enough with the world's religions, geography, and political climates that we don't need to rely on the books for every little detail.

FR is a great setting with a lot of structure but enough open gaps to make up your own storylines. I wish WotC would stop treating it like a bastard child like it has since Eberron came out.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265137)

I used to play in Mystra, and I know the feeling. Once TSR got on the FR bandwagon, Mystara dropped off the map, very little was released for it under AD&D rules, and you had to work everything out through conversion charts, etc.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (2, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265585)

Obviously, you're not a fan of Eberron, but I think the setting has promise. It makes several bold moves and at the same time, it retains compatibility with other D&D settings and the system as a whole.

I like the warforged for several reasons:

*They're not just "humans made of metal" (role playing not withstanding)
*They impose unique needs on players
*Their background isn't based on mysterious, powerful "ancients" who are gone now
*They can add as much or as little steampunkishness as you like

The other races are fairly par for the course, but I don't dislike any of them. The fact that some otherwise minor monsters (e.g. Rakshasa) play a major part in the world is nice. The use of dragons was fairly novel, but not overbearing (such as the way they were used in Arcana Evolved, which is a very nice system modification, but sometimes grating as a setting for me).

Overall, it's just a high-magic D&D world like you would expect, and I think it caps off the spectrum nicely when viewed in combination with the other D&D worlds including Greyhawk (I run a game set here), Forgotten Realms (I love the basic concept, but haven't been able to make the time yet to dive in), Dragonlance (not a fan personally, but I know a few people who enjoyed it), Ravenloft (S&S did some good work on this, under their license from WotC), etc.

Re:Eberron and the state of D&D (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265634)

Obviously, you're not a fan of Eberron, but I think the setting has promise. It makes several bold moves and at the same time, it retains compatibility with other D&D settings and the system as a whole.

I didn't say I didn't like Eberron. I said that I don't particularly like the way that WoTC went about creating it and seemed to almost toss FR to the side in the process. I haven't formed many opinions on it as I haven't really explored it, but given that its in the bargain bin, it might indicate that its not doing that well.

Where's the Shadowrun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15264890)

What about Shadowrun? Doesn't that count as well: 4th edition and all the suppliments coming out this summer?

...I just want to be accepted! (1)

minitual (966089) | more than 7 years ago | (#15264958)

I don't understand people. All I want to do is be accepted. When I brought this book to school I got beat up!
Do you guys understand this? I guess some people just truly don't appreciate D&D books.

More than that... (5, Informative)

Kriticism (225999) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265005)

Good grief....D&D...D&D...GURPS...D&D.....

You make it sound like the only books coming out for pen-and-paper gaming are D&D and GURPS supplements. There's a lot more than that in the past 6 months.

Here's a few new releases that seem to have flown beneath /.'s radar:

- Exalted 2nd Edition - http://www.white-wolf.com/exalted/index.php [white-wolf.com]

- Weapons of the Gods - http://www.eos-press.com/products-wotg.html [eos-press.com]

- True20 from Green Ronin - http://true20.com/ [true20.com]

- Shadowrun 4th Edition - http://www.shadowrunrpg.com/ [shadowrunrpg.com]

- Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition - http://www.mutantsandmasterminds.com/ [mutantsand...rminds.com]

All excellent books. I suggest taking a look.

Re:More than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265093)

There is also HERO system http://www.herogames.com/ [herogames.com].

I am surprised it doesn't hit this board more often. I think computer geeks are really drawn to the game system myself.

Re:More than that... (1)

lotsotech (848683) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265123)

It should...it's basically an object oriented game. You create a power and then add advantages/limitations to tweak it for its effect in-game. There are 100s of ways to build a power that all can get you to the same result kind of like programming.

Re:More than that... (1, Flamebait)

Arandir (19206) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265277)

When you get down to small and independent publishers, there are hundreds of new and upcoming RPG products.

Frankly, I'm surprised Slashdot even bothered to mention the existance of GURPS. That's because D&D is the Microsoft/McDonalds/Budweiser of the roleplaying industry. I outgrew D&D around the time the third pubic hair came in. Three and a half editions later and I still have no desire to play it. Give me Runequest, Rolemaster, CoC, HârnMaster, HARP, Fudge, etc.

Windows user upon learning of the existance of another OS: "It's too much work to learn something new. It's too confusing. It doesn't run my favorite spyware."

D&D users upon learning of the existance of another RPG game: "It's too much work to learn new rules. It's too confusing. It won't support my twentieth level chaotic good halfelf ninja amazon mage."

Re:More than that... (2, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265461)

There are few things worse than a game-system snob.

I've had fun playing one of the worst game systems (Doctor Who) designed by one of the worst game companies (FASA) on the entire planet.

I've had fun playing RPG's with no rulebooks at all. Just a DM willing to wing it.

If the game system is the most important thing to you, then I would suggest you are doing it wrong.

I agree that D&D is not perfect, but I wouldn't call it the "Budweiser" of games. I'd call it the "vi" of games. It might not be your favorite tool, but you can find it on every *nix server you log in to. Likewise, d20 may not be as well-designed as several others out there, but you can count on finding players who know how to play it.

I'm currently playing in a GURPS campaign, and have found it to have become (as of version 4) just as bad as, if not worse than, D&D 3.5. We're still having fun with it, though.

Re:More than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265584)

I'm glad someone mentioned Ex2e. And they just released Wonders of the Lost Age, which is pure Geek. Skyships, power armor, AI, biotech, and giant mecha. What more could you ask for?

Paranoia is still around! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265609)

Your Paranoia comment got me wondering, is this excellent game still around? Turns out it is! [mongoosepublishing.com] I thought it went out of print ten years ago, but a new publisher, Mongoose, is publishing a brand new edition. Okay, sorry Steve Jackson, but this just bumped "Space" off the #1 spot on my must buy list.

The old DragonLance is the New D&D (2, Interesting)

Durrill (908003) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265070)

Ever since the release of D&D 3.0e, my friends and I only relied on the Dungeon magazine for our campaigning fun. There were additional purchases, such as the 3.5e revisions of the core books, and even the main Eberron core book upon its release. Other than that, I just summarized the last 5 years of gaming for my friends and I.

Things have been coming around lately, over the past year I'm starting to see more and more interesting stuff being released. Its like a new wave of D&D hype is building up, and i'm already prepping for it. I stumbled across a full (level 1-20) campaign for dragonlance. The products that have been published for D&D 3.5e Dragonlance can be seen here [dragonlance.com]. I have picked up and read the 'Key of Destiny' and 'Spectre of Sorrows'. This campaign storyline is immensely epic as your PCs (Player Characters) play as the heroes of the new age (Age of Mortals). I have also picked up all the core and resource books that goes along with this new campaign. All that is left is for the 'Price of Courage' to be released later this month so that I can run my friends through it in June.

I have not been this excited to run a campaign in a long time. So much material was developed to assist a DM run an incredible full feature story line that i'm sure it will be the most memorable. I for one appreciate the work that all these publishers have been working into this style of gaming.

It'll be one hell of a ride and I recommend that any DM that reads this comment to check out the dragonlance.com site and see all the new goodies.

TW:2K (1)

greenegg77 (718749) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265160)

What I want to know is when someone will put out a new version of Twilight : 2000 (GDW - RIP)? We spent many a Saturday when I was in the Army playing that one.

Why are computer geeks obsessed with fantasy games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265185)

Power, Blood, Death, etc... Can't you just be happy in your Mom's basement with your porn torrents and astroglide?

Dead to me (2, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265194)

I used to be all about D+D. But ever since discovering Burning Wheel I really don't care anymore. As far as I'm concerned Burning Wheel is the be all end all of RPG systems.

http://www.burningwheel.org/ [burningwheel.org]

No White Wolf? (1)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265218)

What about White Wolf [white-wolf.com]?

They've got a bit going on as well, especially as they're in the middle of releasing books for their new Mage [white-wolf.com] series.

three cheers for the little guys (4, Informative)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265265)

You know, I keep seeing these stories on pen and paper roleplaying games pop up, and there's never any damn coverage of the really interesting and fun games that keep coming out from small, independant publishers.

Slashdotters, please: if you're sick and tired of shelling out twenty to forty bucks for the latest supplement, how about throwing a little money to some of the little guys who are making truly innovative stuff? Look here [indie-rpgs.com] for some ideas on where to start, and I'll plug a few of my favorites. (Disclaimer: I know one of the authors of some of the following games. He's a great guy. But he doesn't pay me to say this, or to plug his games. ;) )
  • Kill Puppies for Satan: An Unfunny Roleplaying Game [lumpley.com]. "the system is minimal in the way that particularly irritates people who would rather be playing rolemaster or millenium's end. you have only six stats, for instance, and that's counting generously. one stat is how many people hate you"
  • Dogs in the Vineyard [lumpley.com]. The Lord may be your shepard, but sometimes he can use a gnarly old Watchdog to help keep the wolves at bay.
  • Primetime Adventures [dog-eared-designs.com]. Roleplaying games are about telling stories - why not make them about television shows instead?
  • Polaris [tao-games.com]. Once upon a time, as far north as north can go, there lived the greatest people that this world will ever see. They are gone now, destroyed just as the world destroys all beautiful things.

Please make a few indie developers happy. You have nothing to lose but your twenty-sided dice.

Not even close (1)

ChozSun (49528) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265286)

There is only one campaign we will play: George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones http://www.agameofthronesrpg.com/ [agameofthronesrpg.com]. I am not too keen on the D20 system but AGoT takes out the one thing that is broken in D20: the Magic System. No enchantments, no magic. If you are dead, you are d-e-d dead. A great campaign setting for one of the best Fantasy epics of all time.

Re:Not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15265453)

Which is ironic, because at least a few people in the GRRM novels don't stay as dead as perhaps they should.

What I like about Eberron (4, Interesting)

TrentC (11023) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265367)

First, some background. I'm 34 years old, but I started playing 1st edition D&D when I was in 7th grade. I played D&D fairly consistently until college, but starting playing again after the 3.5 edition came out. Every campaign I've ever played in, with one brief exception for a Forgotten Realms game in high school, has been homebrew. But I'm currently playing two campaigns with the same gaming group; one person DMs their own homebrew campaign, and the other, a brand-new DM, is running an Eberron campaign.

These are some of the things I like about Eberron:

1) It takes familiar D&D staples and makes them interesting. For people who feel constrained to stick the to the Rules As Written, Eberron gently gives them permission to bend (or break) them; this can also serve to wake up players who might feel compelled to attack every goblin on sight, because "everyone knows goblins are evil". Chromatic dragons and metallic dragons are not constrained to their usual alignments. A cleric of an Eberron deity is not required to be within one step of their deity's alignment (although they still get the undead turning/rebuking options and, more importantly, the holy/unholy aura generated by the connection to their god). Clerics in Eberron are not tied to being a follower of a single deity; the Sovereign Host pantheon and the Dark Six pantheon are valid options, and Player's Guide to Eberron has clerics of an entire plane of existence and of the nation-state of Riedra. With two nations of non-humanoids -- the goblinoid empire of Darguun and the monstrous lands of the Shadow Reaches, ruled by a trio of night hags -- PC options are more varied while making intergrating backgrounds easy.

2) It makes it easy for the PCs to stand out. One of the design goals of Eberron was that the majority of NPCs will not have PC levels; they use the generic "NPC classes" from the DMG a lot, and introduce a new NPC class, the magewright (a magically-enhanced craftsmen). It also makes it easy for casual players to get up to speed in a relatively short amount of time. Many NPCs as written top out around 8th or 9th level -- the two exceptions that spring to mind are the Lord of Blades, a 12th-level NPC who is the leader of a group of warforged that assert superiority over the "fleshy" races, and the head of the Church of the Silver Flame, who has the powers of an 18th-level cleric so long as she remains in the capital city of Thrane. So in a relatively short amount of time, players can rise to the top of their game. One downside of this is that WotC provides few options for epic- or near-epic-level play in Eberron, although the Player's Guide to Eberron suggests taking one of the major themes and building a campaign around them.

3) The focus of many of the Eberron products is adding options for storytelling. There are certainly DMs who don't need a book to tell them what a human who was tainted at birth by the horrific daelkyr is capable of, or what a knight sworn to the service of the necromancy-friendly nation of Karrnath can do. But not everyone has the creativity (or more importantly, the time) to work such things out, and a gaming business doesn't make money off of the Dms who just need the core books. I tend to think of WotC products (or any D20 product, really) as options; you can either use what they provide you verbatim, you can tweak something for your own campaign -- maybe the bone knights of Karrnath become the sentinels of K'Dar, God of the Underworld in your campaign -- or you can simply use the ideas presented for inspiration. (Thrane, a nation under the mostly-benevolent rule of the Church of the Silver Flame, is a pretty good model for how a theocracy might operate in practice.)

4) Some of the Eberron products are really well-designed. Although the Ptolus sourcebook may end up surpassing it in size and depth, Sharn: City of Towers was a well-written product focused on the signature location in Eberron, taking you from the top of the highest towers to the depths of the sewers; it talks about topics as mundane as the cost of renting an apartment, to where you can get food, to how much you can pay for a set of forged identification papers. Many NPCs are provided, often with adventure hooks. The Player's Guide to Eberron was written to give players the information their characters might know about Eberron without spoiling potential plot hooks introduced in other sourcebooks. (Of course, if you already own those other sourcebooks, much of the info provided is redundant; so PGtE tries to make up for with even more spells, feats, and prestige classes.) One of the things I liked about PGtE was that each topic had a sidebar with various Knowledge checks and sample DCs, to give players and DMs an idea of the kind of information the PCs would know or can discover with the appropriate Knowledge check; this is an idea I'm encouraging my DM to use with his homebrew campaign.

I like the Eberron campaign world. Although my preferences have been for the homebrew campaigns, it's nice to play in other peoples' sandbox once in a while, and in my opinion Eberron provides more than enough toys for the casual gamer and the hardcore player alike.

RoleMaster/SpaceMaster (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265435)

I thought RoleMaster/SpaceMaster were the most fun systems to play (only in small groups... a GM and 3 players, 5 at the extreme). WoTC just tried to make a simplified form of RM and named it the new D&D. I've tried the new system and it just seems like a watered down RM. Of course, with RM you pick/choose the skills and stuff you wanted, otherwise you'd end up practically having the butt-wiping skill (which you could fumble!) but when you got the subset of skills to cover the depth you wanted, it was fun. There's nothing like getting really lucky and stabbing that bad guy through the eye, killing him instantly!

Ka-ching! (2, Funny)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265455)

All I know is, when I was buying AD&D manuals the Players Handbook, Monster Manual, Deities and Demigods each retailed for around $11. The Dungeon Masters' Guide was maybe $12.50. That, a bunch of clear plastic dice, a few afternoons crafting the world's most elaborate and comprehensive character sheet (complete with box to draw your guy in), and one friend who was sucker enough to buy the Dungeon Master's Screen were pretty much all you needed. Lead figures were optional (albeit cool).

Tabletop games? (3, Funny)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265484)

How does this work again? You just write "/roll" on a piece of paper with a pencil and then the DM shouts out numbers between 1-100?

Holy schnikes (2, Funny)

tacokill (531275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265517)

OMG. I read through the entire thread and I honestly have to say - I have no earthly idea what you people are talking about.

Yea, I know D&D and played it as a kid. But I haven't the foggiest clue about anything else mentioned on this entire page. It's like I just got a blinding hot dose of unexpected geekdom and I kind of dig it.

More than two companies (0, Flamebait)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265538)

It's been about six months since we took the pen and paper gaming industry's temperature.

You do know there are more than two RPG companies, right? If you're going to claim to take "the ... industry's temperature," you might want to look at, you know, the industry.

And the smaller press... (3, Informative)

Cheetahfeathers (93473) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265582)

As with many mass market items, look to the smaller press for the more innovative and interesting ideas. Not every game is for every RPGer.. it's worth it to check out some of the indie games out there. From the serious and gritty, to the silly, there are a lot to choose from. Below are only a small

http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/ [sorcerer-rpg.com]
http://www.anvilwerks.com/?The-Shadow-of-Yesterday [anvilwerks.com]
http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/dogs.html [septemberquestion.org]
http://www.adept-press.com/trollbabe/ [adept-press.com]
http://l5r.alderac.com/rpg/ [alderac.com]

Small Press RPGs Alive and Well (4, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265603)

Have you looked at RPGNow [rpgnow.com]? It's an e-bookstore that sells PDFs of various games--some from the bigger gaming companies, others from small companies that you've never heard of, such as this giant robot RPG [rpgnow.com] that was written by a friend of mine. Many of these are just as imaginative, if not more so, than a lot of the stuff you'll find from the larger companies--but since they're so small you'd never have heard of them.

OT: OS X version of Vulture's Eye and Claw here! (2, Informative)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 7 years ago | (#15265668)

I know this is slightly OT, but forks of Falcon's Eye - Vulture's Eye and Vulture's Claw (Nethack and Slash'Em, respectively) are finally available for OS X. [darkarts.co.za] For anyone who didn't like the QT version, or couldn't get the terminal version to compile or don't have classic, this rocks.

One of the nicest RPGs is finally running on the mac, and is rock-stable! On to YASD!

Before you mod this down, I'd like you to know I have my Powerbook on a table, AND I use pencil and paper to write down my Inventory when I die - cheating as much as I can.

All the hallmarks of tabletop D&D'ing. Don't judge me.

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