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JLant's page

11 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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The "occupy Wall Street" crowd's heart is in the right place but they really need focus. Wanna know what's really been happening in the "Roaring 2000's"? This report pretty much sums it up:

http://newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_way_forward

It's a pretty sobering (if a bit dry) read. NO politicians and few media members are digging into the problem to the necessary depth. Until we, as a country, have a serious discussion about our future and throw aside the "30-second sound bytes" and "talking points" things will continue to deteriorate. The "occupy" movement needs to get behind this or they will fall to the "bread and circuses" crowd eventually and Rome will keep burning and we in the "silent center" will continue standing around with our collective thumbs up our backsides.


Luz wrote:

The worm corpse fig is, unfortunately, scaled to medium size. It still makes for a good spawn of Kyuss, though. The purple worm is a pretty big hunk o' metal, usable for huge or gargantuan size. The tail coming out of the ground is a seperate piece (included with the figure, of course) so its size is adjustable.

I also have the demonic lasher, a cool mini. Too bad it isn't quite big enough for Demogorgon. There is also a fig, I think its called the Dark Prince, that is perfect for Graz'zt.

True, the figs are a bit on the small side, but that's the downside to metal; to make a scale fig of Demogorgon or Kyuss would be very heavy and prohibitively expensive. OTOH, you could use 15mm character figs with the monsters if you want to get dramatic effect. In any event, Reaper has a lot of excellent D&D-able figs (compare their Pit Fiend and Prince of the Undead to the WOTC plastic, for example).


I don't know if anyone saw this from Reaper:

http://www.reapermini.com/Miniatures/worm%20corpse/latest/03023

fyi Reaper has all kinds of good stuff for D&D if you don't mind painting.

Jim


Azigen wrote:


Why yes Jim!

Complete set of power cards in 95 pages of glory

Dude, you just made my week(end). Seriously, those are professional quality and just what the doctor orderded for my gaming. TYVM!


drjones wrote:


... my crew using power cards...

drjones,

Glad to hear someone else uses power cards (in 3.5 feats, skills and spells)! Regardless of the system, I've always found them invaluable for speeding up play. I've also made use of action cards like those for M&M found here:

http://www.mutantsandmasterminds.com/gimmicks_gadgets/cat_mutants_mastermin ds_second_edition.php

along with a Desperado-inspired card-based initiative system. When I started playing with my new group this winter (D&D 3.5, Sunless Citadel), I really appreciated having the 3.5 SRD from which to generate all the necessary cards. As an aside, from my PoV, that is the biggest disappointment of not having a full-blown SRD for the 4E GSL.

Now I want to take my fledgling group for a 4E test drive. I've tried using the D&DI Compendium to cut and paste, but its interface is... suboptimal. Do you (or anyone else for that matter!) know where I can download a set of power cards for 4E (I don't need a comprehensive set, just the first few levels to get us started)?

Jim


My money is on DS as the next unannounced setting; I happened to see a fall '08 catalog and there were two DS novels on the schedule.

Jim


Earthdawn is one of the few settings/systems I've never checked out though their world always sounded interesting. As far as RedBrick, they do very high quality work for Fading Suns, at least on par with Holistic and in some ways better.

Jim


Around 80 HD pages in 3.5 vs 36 ND pages in the 4 PH. I'll grant you that the high density text of 3.5 could be a downer for a significant number of people (my son among them) but hey I read scientific journals every day; compared to that it's easy reading ;-)


Thanks David; good to finally be de-lurking. Thanks for the heads-up on the condition summary; indeed it is in the PH (page 277). We play D&D with "cards" as aids (in 3.5 spells, feats, actions etc) and for initiative determination (but that's a story for another day). To clarify the DMG portion of the review, the crunch chapters are among the best I've seen in *any* game; it was the shortened format (320 pp-> 221 pp; 3.5 -> 4E) and that 1/2 of what was there wasn't useful to *me personally* that got my goat.

Jim


Let’s get this out of the way first

A bit of “POV” background about me for contextual purposes: I’ve been part of this hobby for more than 30 years (starting in grammar school) and have tried (and accumulated) many different RPG systems and settings over that course. So you could say I’m a RPG hoar (referring to both my number of years “on the job” and its less polite homonym referring to my enjoyment of “playing the field” system-wise). At this point in life, I’m a married professional working on the next generation of RPG-recruits; my current group consists of my two kids 9(b)/5(g) and their mom (reluctant, but outnumbered). In addition to RPGs proper, I’ve enjoyed wargames, one MMORG (Coh/CoV), miniatures (sickness!) and even dabbled a bit in MtG. So with that in mind, here is my first impression of 4E D&D (Read only, not played – yet)

Physical Appearance

Overall the books are very attractive from a color/design standpoint. A minor niggle for me was that all three have the wavy-page syndrome; when viewed perpendicular to the spine, the pages have a collective wave to them. This is not very noticeable when using the book, however. The interior artwork is of high quality from a technical standpoint, though as my tastes go hit-or-miss. It definitely caught the imagination of my kids which is a plus for me. The text layout did not appeal to me as much; I felt the font was too big and cut down on content somewhat relative to 3/3.5. Having followed the threads on 4E for some time, I did a “back of the envelop” comparison between the two most text-heavy pages I could find in both the 3.5 and 4E PHs. It looks like from a purely “word-count” perspective (the books have identical page counts, no accident, I’m sure) the 3.5 is more text dense (~ 1400 to ~ 1000) on the pages I sampled. That having been said, given the dissimilarities in the writing style (IMO, 3.5 is more prosaic overall) this discrepancy is not reflective of information content. For my son, the 4E PH was much more engaging reading than its 3.5 counterpart (most likely due to the text size and sidebar layout), while the MMs were about equal (flavor text in 3.5 better, prototype monster breakdown better in 4E, artwork both good in their own way).

Content

It’s probably best to break this down by book – PH, DMG, MM.

The PH is well organized and very readable. It presents information in logical and digestible chunks with good use of layout to emphasize points/expand upon concepts/provide explanations. To me the “feel” is reminiscent of the D&D BECMI system, albeit with many more options. IMO, this bodes well for bringing “fresh blood” into the hobby. That having been said, there is still a ton of info to process for a “newbie”, particularly for those my kid’s age. Note, I’m talking here mostly about my 9-yo; he is the same age as I was when I started. His sister is too young to crunch mechanics, though she is a blast in play. Much has been made on the boards about the “reduced options”; again taking a “back of the envelop” look at these (3.5/4E) I came up with the following (approx): Races - 7/8, Classes – 11/8, Skills – 45/18, Feats - 110/150 (not incl. “multiclass”), Powers – 480(spells)/750(all, incl. rituals & epic). IMO, there are quite a few options in this incarnation of the game though their distribution is different and at first glance, it appears characters of the same class and path will be fairly similar. At first glance, character building in 4E appears to take significantly less time due to the structure of the classes. The combat system is well explained. I agree with some posters that it is clearly “miniature based” without a lot of room for abstraction; to me this is a positive rather than negative, especially with my “newbie” group. That the system is “slanted toward combat” seems accurate at first glance and also not problematic for the same reason. Magic items in the PH seem misplaced to me (removing the sense of wonder) and I wondered what happened to scrolls. I’m also not so enamored of the magic item “reduction to dust” system. IMO Ars Magica has the most elegant magic item creation rules around, which I’ve always ported (with modification for genre) to whatever fantasy system I’ve run. The ritual magic system is intriguing, but I’ll need some “in games” experience to comment further. Overall, I like the PH and am eager to see the system “in play”. Finally, IMO the index stinks. As far as an “entry level” system, I think this version of D&D is the easiest to learn since the D&D Basic set, but it falls far short of some competitors (Savage Worlds gets my vote for most current “easy entry” system).

Given my background, I found the DMG the least palatable of the new offerings. To be fair, a lot of this sentiment stems from my fairly extensive experience (historically, I’ve “DM-ed” whichever system I’ve played >90% of the time). The advice sections (chapters 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9) and the setting/miniadventure (ugh!) are of very limited utility while the “rules crunch” in the DMG is less than half the book (chapters 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10). This is especially irritating given that this iteration of the books has been widely advertised as targeting current players; there is a “Basic Game” due to be released later where this material would be more appropriate. Further adding to my disappointment is the significantly smaller content; from a “back of the envelop” pov, (3.5/4E): page count - 320/221; taken with my rough “word count analysis”, this equates to only ~1/2 the informational content of the original. Finally the lack of a “condition summary” (compared to pages 300-301 of the 3.5 DMG) is a glaring omission (maybe I missed it somewhere or is it in the PH?). On the bright side, the crunch chapters were *outstanding*, with chapters 5 & 10 shining the brightest. What I wouldn’t have given for a 320 page tome chock full of this material!

The Monster Manual is the most innovative of this edition’s offering thus far; the clarity of the stat blocks along with the glossary are particularly nice touches. At first, I was disappointed by the lack of “flavor/ecology” text, but, as I read through the material, it became apparent how much better a reference book this is than all its predecessors. I attribute this to the format of the stat blocks as well as to the multiple builds available for many entries entry. I can see this being very useful in a playing session. Both kids perused this book with great excitement (with me “PG-ing” them past “scary” entries – atropal, bog hag et al.). The “teaser” lore was a big draw for my son and his reaction reminded me of my experience with 1st Ed. modules where there were little glimpses of world lore sprinkled throughout the modules. This presentation really gets the creative juices going in a very different way than the encyclopedic lore of 3.5; both are good, just different. My greatest disappointment with this book is its ties to the current cosmology (I am *not* a fan) and the attendant lack of iconics like EAFW elementals and (the old style) giants. OTOH, there was a Berbalang!

Summary

Although it took me a bit longer than many to find the time to sit down with this latest incarnation of my first RPG, it was time well spent. I’ve found a lot of interesting twists to the original system that I am very excited about taking the new beast for a “test drive”. I hope that it will bring a lot of fresh blood into our hobby and I think this incarnation is better suited for this task than previous editions. Much has been discussed about similarities with MMORG play (“Controllers”, Strikers”, “Powers” et al.); IMO this is a good thing as it will provide a comfortable point of reference for a big group of potential “recruits”. In spite of these commonalities, TT RPG play remains a *very* different and I believe far richer experience that any CRPG as its only limits are those imposed by the players. As soon as I get some play time under my belt, I’m going to write a play test review; look for it next year around this time. Finally, it would have been nice here (or in any of the three system books) to have an interaction system between various “descriptors”; for an example of what I’m talking about check out the Ultimate Energy Projector from Hero Games, “the Energy Spectrum” chapter.


I also find the OP's concept interesting whether it was meant in jest or not. I spend nearly all my time behind the screen so a chance to *play* would be refreshing. Collectible I'm not interested in; that's my biggest gripe with the official minis. As far as GM-less gaming, there's an interesting system out there called Mythic Role Playing (http://www.mythic.wordpr.com/page14/page14.html). They offer a systemless "GM Emulator" that might work well "carded up" (though the tables would probably do fine as they are.) I've been dying to take it for a test drive; 4E might be my ticket.

Jim

Edit: Missed your post B!


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