ps238principal (ps238principal) wrote,

Pleading the Fifth Edition...

Is everyone ready for D&D version 5.0? It's projected to be released in 2013, and they're looking to use player feedback to help improve the rules. A lot of people I know are split on 4.0, though few will outright refuse to play it. My own experience is that it's very hard to "wing it" when making characters, having to favor certain builds if one wants to really get ahead (that is, not die) especially with a smaller party. A humorous gaming site (warning: parts of the site are really NSFW, but this article is clean) makes the case that 4e is all about optimization. It also doesn't help if you're lacking miniature wargaming skills and your GM is an old hand at something akin to Warhammer, especially if you're playing a wizard. On a positive note, you won't have to play that wizard for long (grin). It'll be interesting to see how the new version of the game develops. RPG veterans have almost always been able and willing to tear apart any system, discarding what they don't like and adding house rules. The original game had three (or more, depending on which boxes/books you had) levels of complexity, so the news that the rules will have a lot of modularization, making them easier to disassemble, makes sense. Some might argue that would bring it even closer to a video game by adding "difficulty," but given that most RPGs trend towards complexity the longer they're around and the more supplements get made for it, that might not be a bad thing. Besides, I've noticed that the more and more complicated and expansive D&D got (for me, this is usually when psionics start showing up in the splatbooks), quite a few game companies would make their mark with a streamlined and simplified set of rules for a similar setting. But the most important thing is that this makes my copies of Men, Monsters & Magic and Eldrich Wizardry even more valuable, right? While they're making the rules fit together like Lego, maybe the game settings could do the same. Keeping roughly the same land masses (assuming the settings even could happen on the same planet), it might be interesting to have something like:

- D&D Age of the Iron Tower: This is the official setting during a time of high magic, land wars between the races and kingdoms, and lots of mucking about by the gods. This is when a lot of things that are considered artifacts & relics come from, and where the great legends are born. Character classes are generally the vanilla fighter, wizard, cleric, thief with a few sub-classes thrown in for flavor. Magic and magic weapons are strong, but often don't have laundry lists of powers or a lot of subtle effects.
- D&D Age of Darkness: The official setting enters its second age. War, angry gods, and the rise of monsters have lead to enchanted items and powerful magics being a bit on the rare side, such that nobody crafts those +5 +10 Holy Avenger analogues anymore; you have to go and take them from the tombs or troves where they're usually guarded by lots of nasties. Ruins of the old world abound, and a new world waits to be forged if the heroes can bring some order out of chaos. Rogues and assassins would see more classes here, and classes like necromancers, barbarians, etc. would become available, or if they were previously, get an uptick in available abilities.
- D&D Age of Illumination: Out of the ashes came a third age, one of innovation, a fusion of magic and machine. Though quite simple, cannon that are not only fueled by alchemy but also fire projectiles with magic effects have resulted in changes when it comes to combat. The armored knight has given way to footmen firing magical weapons that require little skill, and those who still wear protective metal are often adventurers in places where close combat is more common (like dungeons, haunted castles, etc.). Magic and clerical power are at odds for who rules the age, both sides having brought uncommon power to the common man in the form of potions, powders, sigils, and divine devices. Spell-users have access to a wide variety of abilities, though now some crafting skill is desirable in forging/repairing devices usable by multiple classes. The fighter/warrior classes are also given a boost by having access to proficiencies when it comes to mechanized items and weapons, and rogues can find lots of opportunities to gum up the works of said devices with a few skill checks.

Though it'd probably not deter players who really want to play an anachronistic character class in a given age, making certain restrictions/bonuses more involved in a given era would allow things like the Forgotten Realms and Spelljammer to co-exist in a campaign, just not at the same time. This is all up to the DM, of course, but I though it an elegant solution (one that settings for the Star Wars RPG got to first, technically) that could prevent having too many classes, powers, and items all available at one go.

Oh, and one more thing. If any of the designers are reading this, you know what you need to truly make this a great product, and it hearkens back to D&D's golden age. That's right, I'm talking about cartoons in the sourcebooks. :)

I wouldn't mind having the time to cruise the Consumer Electronics Show someday, but I content myself with getting a sampling via my internet connection. Besides, the room fees are cheaper here. Anyway, among the new and improved stuff on offer, I get the feeling that even more so than in the past, marketers have decided that new gadgets need to be marketed like action movies and/or superheroes. Without giving any brands away, here's a sampling of words that are or are part of actual product names mentioned in CES coverage: Transformer. Ascend. Maxx. Spectre. X-Reality. PrimeSense. Burst. Exhilarate. Skyrocket. Jetpack. Thunderbolt. Superzoom. Then there's the made-up trademarkable words that make me want to read the "reject" list: Vuforia. Everio. Skifta. Mirasol. Anyway, among the items that caught my eye were:

- Viewmaster just refuses to go quietly and tries to grab hold of the 21st century.
- The Indestructible Nokia might have competition in the floor-breaking department if Gorilla Glass works out.
- Now everyone can pretend they have big feet and brag that they need to slip on two small cars to get around.
- You can start to assemble your own fleet of drones with the ability to upload hi-def video instantly.

There was also a lot of news about thinner and bigger TVs. If they keep on with that the way they're going, and I keep to the same replacement schedule on the household idiot box, my next TV purchase will probably require the roof to be removed so the smallest version can be lowered into place. This assumes I can't just fold it up to get it through the door.

And now, a spoiler-free look at the latest episode of Sherlock, entitled "The Hounds of Baskerville." As usual, the show is brilliantly snappy, with lots of fast-paced dialog that'll probably fill pages of tumblr blogs before the week is out. It's also a well-done horror story, with some decent jump-scares. There was a new role for the texting words in the form of Morse code, appearing as ghostly, barely-legible words as Watson tries to find meaning in flashes of light. We also see the concept of Sherlock's "Mind Palace," a mental state he uses to sift through what he's seen when solutions aren't readily apparent. It may remind some of Tom Cruise's computer interface in Minority Report. When all is said and done, I only had two questions for the show's writer (and these won't make any sense unless you've seen it, so fear not): Why would any organization have printed that t-shirt, and where did the depressions in the earth that got turned into plaster casts come from?

Turning to things Star Wars, there's a working title for the live-action show I'd completely forgotten about: Star Wars: Underground. That title needs reworking. It conjures either vampires and werewolves in space (cool idea, but not in Star Wars) or the idea that everyone will be wearing hipster glasses and spend their time in cantinas that only serve coffee while the heroes compose music and prose on their netbooks. If it's still planned to take place between the prequels and the original trilogy, then (at least as far as I know), there shouldn't be any Jedi running around. Of course, I can't see a Star Wars show being made sans The Force, so my money would be on Yoda training at least one of the main cast to use a lightsaber and lift some rocks while telling them to crave not adventure or excitement. Much like Ahsoka in the Clone Wars cartoon, one would have to figure what happens to them has to be drastic enough to explain why they don't show up in the movies.

Now I have to go dive back into what turns out is a snafu in orders over the past few weeks. A combination of hungry post office machines, new customs forms, and misprinted labels means a lot of books went astray, and I'm doing my level best to make sure everything gets sorted out before the weekend. Then there's teaching the kid that gelatin fruit-flavored gummi-blobs aren't a major food group and neither are dust bunnies. He's also turning into the only 2-year-old that will request and sit through repeated viewings of a (don't click unless you really dig old films and/or farm equipment) promo film from the 1950's about a tractor. I think he needs to be studied, I'm just not sure what for.

Anyway, here's the stuff his dad thought was at least as interesting as a tractor:

- I'm sure I've posted those "before & after" images of what they do to fashion magazine covers, but now there's a commercial for the beauty product of the age. Be sure to stick around at least until they pronounce the name.
- It turns out that building a better cat-trap isn't all that hard.
- I know medieval DC Heroes have been done before, but these are pretty cool, especially if you picture Superman saying, "Winter is coming."
- Awesome Tanks is 15 levels of frenetic tank-kablooie with upgrades and a level editor.
- Before you publish that fantasy epic, be sure to take the Fantasy Novelist's Exam.
- Another bug that amuses has been found in The Old Republic. Perhaps a Nac Mac Feegle race is in order?
- Sticking with things Star Wars, imagine if someone you were once wed to dumped your entire collection in an alley?
- Lots of word from Fox about the fates of Fringe, Terra Nova, House, and other programs.
- I know I bookmarked this a while back, but I can't recall if I posted it or not. If so, I apologize, but I loved a lot of the points raised in this Rules for Games article.
- If you want to attend the San Diego Comic Con in 2012, you have to pre-register.
- The last time I saw a gumball machine this large, it was at Gen Con, dispensing "Dragon Dice."
- Soon, you could be using a Kinect on your Windows PC, and probably on every other kind of computer about 5 minutes after those meddling kids get their alternate drivers together.
- Before seeing the new Hobbit movies, why not look at the vintage cartoon animatic version from 1966? The full story about the film can be read here.
- Above, I mentioned commercial drones being shown at CES, but many are already being put to private use. An anti-whaling vessel used one to find Japanese whaling vessels. Mostly though, I just wanted to mention they named their ship The Steve Irwin.
- My wife has far too many purses. I wouldn't mind if she had one more, though...
- The Ralph Bakshi movie Wizards is to be released on Blu-Ray in March.
- Bejing sees the opening of a restaurant themed after Hello Kitty.
- The app has migrated to a web-version, so now everyone can play Cut The Rope. Cut the (you were expecting..?) rope to feed candy to your pet monster, hopefully guiding said candy through all of the level's stars.
Tags: 5th edition, ces 2012, dungeons & dragons, star wars
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