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Dracorat wrote:

If this is your strategy, how did you end up with letters beyond the letter T?

I think you need to apply your strat again and be very careful about labelling.

Failure to count, maybe?

Bored now. Whatever you were advertising, I've lost interest. Sorry.

Hey Erik, what are the odds of having a 1-page column running every few months with a few playtesters going through various adventures put out by other companies? Kind of like how fiction magazines have book reviews... It'd be great for the readers, because we could see what new and interesting other adventures are coming out, and it'd be good for the publishers because they'd have a chance of getting their products more visibility, and it'd be good for Paizo because I know I for one would love to see it and I suspect other people would too... :-)

Marc Chin wrote:

My own personal vendetta in the vein of the journal author's muse is against the use of the phrase, "Rule of Thumb"...since the phrase was born out of the need for men to regulate the diameter of the stick that they were allowed to use to beat their wives with to avoid charges of actual abuse.

If you didn't know where it came from, now you do.


Not necessarily. There's very serious debate over the origin of the phrase; the first known connection between the old rule of being able to beat a wife with a stick no larger than the thumb and the phrase "rule of thumb" was made in 1976. The specific quote is: "For instance, the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband 'the right to whip his wife provided that he used a switch no bigger than his thumb' -- a rule of thumb, so to speak" (Del Martin, Battered Wives Volcano Press, 1976, page 31).

A more likely origin for the phrase deals with rough-and-ready measurements made by thumblength; carpenters often used various body parts, particularly the thumb, as a way of taking a measurement, as did many other trades such as tailors.

Just FYI. ;-)

Valegrim wrote:
make a rule; anything said in game is said by your character.

For people who are just learning how to role-play, that kind of rule is WAY more likely to scare them off than to encourage good role-playing. Personally, I have a standing rule that I will not play with a group with that kind of rule. Not that it's a bad rule IF the players enjoy playing that way, but I don't.

If you want your players to role-play more, you have to encourage it, not enforce it. Provide bonuses for good role-playing, but don't penalise them for not role-playing. Don't start enforcing role-playing until the players are comfortable with it, and then only if your players want to play that way.

This may be an unpopular question... ;-) But do your players want to role-play more? If they're interested in trying it out, then there have been some great ideas in this thread. In particular, make sure you do a lot more role-playing yourself, including some pretty goofy things that get the other players relaxed and comfortable with the idea. Also, make the most of flavour text... Whenever one of our players has a critical miss on an attack, the DM rolls a few dice to come up with the result. We've had players twist their ankles, in one spectacular case our ranger tripped and snapped her bow in half, a sword flew out of the fighter's hand and nicked our poor rogue's ear before embedding itself in an ancient oak tree, etc. It's an easy, constant reminder that the mechanics are intended to describe some pretty fantastic action. :-)

If, on the other hand, your players only want to kill things... Then either run the game that way or find a new group. You play the game to have fun, and if you're trying to force the other players to play in a way that they don't enjoy, you're defeating the whole purpose of D&D. There is no "right" way to play, contrary to what some people will tell you. Role-playing is as important to the game as the players want it to be, and that's the end of it.

Another option is to play a less serious game. The most memorable campaign I ran lasted only two or three sessions. It featured a sedate, contemplative monk, a total knock-off of Ash from Army of Darkness, and a pyromaniac wizard who thought that Fireball could solve any problem (and sometimes threw them just because he could). It was the most completely absurd game I've ever been involved in, and definitely one of the most fun. You could even try switching to a different game like Kobolds Ate My Baby!, which allows the players to role-play (in an admittedly really goofy and cute/gruesome way) without having to take it in any way seriously.

But yeah, the most important thing is to play the game that allows everyone to have the most fun. If that involves bringing in more role-playing, that's great. If it involves total hack-and-slash, kick-in-the-door dungeon raiding, that's great too. And if it involves a series of kobold characters dieing horrible, terrible, bizarre deaths, that's great too. As long as you're all having fun, you're playing it properly. :-)

Actually, I found this one more insulting than ever. They're just such ridiculously stupid ads... Ugh. The whole basis of it is "Oh, MMOs are so unreliable!" but in my experience, the Internet is WAY more reliable than the Post Office has ever been.

Not to mention that the whole point of the ad was to create an artificial rivalry between MMOs and PBM. The two aren't mutually exclusive, and there's absolutely no reason for there to be this artificial rivalry. And, of course, the people they're trying to recruit to PBM are quite likely to already be fans of computer games. Insulting potential recruits' passtimes doesn't seem like a great way to win people over...

Zherog wrote:
Takasi wrote:
Dungeon 134 and 135 have no Forgotten Realms or Eberron content
So what?

Exactly what I was wondering... :-)

My dad taught my brother and I how to play many years ago. 1982 or 83, I think... I would have been about 6, my brother 8. We had the blue book (first ed., not first printing but not far off) and we used little pieces of paper maybe 4in by 6in as character sheets. We started the same adventure maybe three or four times (can't remember which adventure though) and never quite remembered it so we kept wandering into the same traps.

BigBubba wrote:
Everyone here is reading them and remembering them and thats what the PBM company wants.

Yeah, I remember them all right... Every time I hear "PBM" now I think, "Stupid annoying ads". Which means that I've developed a spontaneous, irrational dislike for the entire PBM idea. Not exactly a good way to drum up business. ;-)

I dunno, I use PCGen rather a lot and have only encountered a couple bugs with it, all of which have been corrected. I'm sure there are remaining issues, but I don't know what they are, so... :-)

Another point to consider... Look at the Ecology articles the same way many DMs look at the adventures in Dungeon magazine: inspiration. I honestly don't think I'll ever run a Dungeon adventure in any recognisable form, but I read them every month and I'm glad to have them. I pick them apart and try to figure out why and how they work. I approach the Ecology articles in the same way... I look at what sorts of issues the Ecology article picks up, and what it doesn't bother with, and see if I can apply that to my own game. Even if I were to use one of the races for which I have an Ecology article, I'd still probably muck around with it and change things, just because that's the way I am. :-) So it doesn't really bother me if I see an article for a monster I don't own, because I can still pick it apart and analyse it and get just as much use out of it that way. :-)

Orcus wrote:
In any event, he is a really great guy and a pleasure to work with. His art really fit our updated Grimtooth's Traps because of the whimsical style.

My beef isn't with the artwork but with the ads. They're terrible. The latest one especially was outright insulting... Guys are used to being treated like hormonal animals, so the first ad was just kinda annoying (and slightly insulting), but the latest one is an insult to our intelligence -- and, in my experience, if there's one thing that D&D players as a group tend to take pride in, it's their intelligence.

I'm pretty neutral on the artwork. But as far as the ads go? They actually make me want to avoid PBM, if the people involved are the kind of people who'd produce those ads...

Celiwyn wrote:
Hey James, Thanks for bumping this thread, the new slogan has become a great joke between my friends and I, and estimates on my craft checks for the scarf I'm making are becoming quite fun.

Hee hee... I'll have to let my wife know that you like it. :-) And I never even thought of making crafting check jokes... That actually made me giggle when I read it.

Anyone else think those play-by-mail ads are getting more annoying by the issue? Yeesh. It's embarassing to see them in there... I sure hope that the contract doesn't go for much longer.

Or am I the only one who absolutely hates them?

Yamo wrote:

Gaming is not socially-acceptable for women. It is something unwashed, poorly-socialized male dorks do.

You might as well ask why more men don't knit.

I mentioned this comment to my wife on the weekend. She then went on a big (and only vaguely related) tear about how D&D is the perfect thing for knitters, because you have all sorts of entertainment and only occasionally have to put the needles down to roll some dice. This has led me to develop a new advertising slogan for Wizards.

WoTC, your new D&D slogan is...

"D&D: totally compatible with knitting!"

Wolf70 wrote:
6. While it is gritty and dark, I do not want it to feel hopeless. The PC's are a beacon of light and I want their actions to make a small difference. They would be like the jaded, but gold-hearted pulp detective type ("It was a dark and stormy night."). I also like the Batman model of hero for a game like this. The setting would be very "Gothamesque." Can this work?

One thing I've found over the years is that asking "Can this work?" with D&D is always the wrong question, because the answer is always "Yes." The real question is "Can I make this work?" :-) If you've got a fairly clear vision of what you want and what elements to include to achieve that feel, and if your players are interested in playing that kind of game, then you can do it. Tell your players what you're going for and they'll help you fill in the details.

A small glowing sphere has been wandering through town for the last few days. The sphere has no discernable body, or even a purpose or destination that anyone can determine. It simply floats randomly through town, moving through solid objects as though they didn't exist. All attempts to communicate with, guide, or banish the sphere have failed. It appears to be causing no harm, other than brief startlement as it floats serenely through houses, businesses, pets, and even people.

Suddenly, the sphere flies straight to the center of town and starts pulsing in angry shades of red and yellow...

Robert Head wrote:
When the new servers are on line (any day now&trade;), it's gonna be sweet!

Looks like it's running on Apple now... Are you sticking with that with the new servers? (I'm a geek, I can't help myself. Plus I like Apple.)

Did you guys upgrade the servers or something? It seems a lot faster today.

Currently 28. I've been playing since I was 7. :-) My dad ran a game for my brother and I.

Yep, I'd enjoy that. :-) Those old plot lines became cliched because they were fun to play and easy to set up. Something too basic would be a waste -- any DM worth his salt can draw up a basic map and throw in plain creatures from the MM and say, "Orcs have attacked the town, you've tracked them back to their lair" -- but it'd be fun to see a relatively simple adventure like that done in a way that keeps it interesting... A unique villain in terms of character or MO, but with a standard stat block... An interesting location, such as the orcs having put their base in a festering swamp with jets of flame that the characters have to dodge every so often... Something like that. Since it'd still be relatively simple, it'd probably take up practically no space... Maybe you could do a combo pack one issue? Instead of one low-level adventure, have two or three simple low-level adventures instead? :-)

From what I remember, the standard (last October, anyway) was that American subscribers can expect to wait up to 2 weeks, and Canadian subscribers can expect to wait up to 3 weeks. (The rest of the world was a big mish-mash of stuff... I don't remember all the details. Sorry.) Once you go beyond that, you've got legitimate grounds to start bugging customer service. In my experience, if a magazine isn't there by 3 weeks plus one day (I'm Canadian), it's going to be either another month late or entirely missing. I have no idea if my experience is typical. And yes, I'm still waiting for 125, but it's not late yet for me. :-)

Joshua Randall wrote:
But the majority (the vast majority, in my experience) of players just want to kill monsters and take their stuff -- so Amarantha's elaborate backstory is totally wasted.

I'm going to have to disagree with you. I don't know whether hack-and-slash or pscho-drama players make up the majority, but it doesn't really matter. There are very, very few groups or even individual players who are pure hack-and-slash players. I've played with some pretty combat-focussed groups over the years, and in all of those groups, the kind of backstory that was provided for Amarantha would have been appreciated. Admittedly it would be appreciated on the level of "Hey, that's a good excuse for something new to kill!", but it would still be appreciated.

Maybe you're so focussed on hack-and-slash that you don't see the rest happening, or maybe you attract like-minded players? I'm not disputing that most of the people you've played with would find that kind of backstory useless, but I'd have to say that your group is more than likely an aberration. And hey, if you're happy playing that way, you're playing the game right. More power to you. But the majority of players don't play as purely combat-oriented games as you obviously do, and if the players care at all about story, Amarantha's backstory would be valuable for them. I'm even thinking of a group I was in where the wizard incinerated an entire town with Fireballs, just because he felt like rolling more damage when a fight ended too quickly for his taste. Even in that group, the kind of detail in Amarantha's backstory would be handy.

And James: Yes, templates and such can be very handy. I'm not saying they are being overused, but that I have seen them be overused. I just wasn't careful enough with what I wrote, obviously. :-)

Edit: Just re-read my previous post. Yeah, I say pretty clearly that templated creatures are overused. What I meant was that overall, templated creatures are overused -- that is, when you count in all the D&D material that I see, including in groups that I game in, there's too much attachment to overly-complex villains. Dungeon is generally pretty good about it, from what I remember.

I can definitely agree that templates and such are overused. The problem is that most of the ideas for base creatures have been used in some form or another. If they took out all the templating and PC levels from the creatures and just used the stock monsters from the DMG, they'd get a whole pile of letters every issue saying "Sure, _The Town Museum_ was an interesting adventure, but it's pretty derivative of _Stone Town_ and _Wax Museum_ from publishers X and Y." Dungeon has to make the adventures memorable, and a very easy (and yes, overused) way to do that is to make the enemies some bizarre concoction. Sometimes that works really well -- look at the recent adventure with the dryad that got bonded to the fiendish tree -- but a lot of the time it's just a shortcut.

Another part of the problem is that for an adventure to have a lot of impact on the players, it has to have a real game effect... How many times have the players rescued a hostage? Pretty ho-hum adventure for most experienced players... But what if the hostage is the thief's daughter? Or what if the kidnappers are the ranger's allies, who've taken the mayor "hostage" as a way of rescuing him from his enemies and flushing them out, only the PCs don't know what's going on so the party thinks that the ranger's friends have suddenly turned evil? Or maybe the entire situation is a trap concocted by Velania, the elven wizard they defeated last year, but she escaped the collapsing castle thanks to a handy Dimension Door scroll she kept just for that reason, and now she's out for revenge?

Those are likely pretty memorable adventures, assuming the DM has the first sweet clue what they're doing. But they're not easy to do in Dungeon, because they all depend on some party history. The trap scenario I guess is pretty easy to work in... every party leaves behind a trail of enemies over the years... But the faked kidnapping to rescue the mayor scenario only works if you've already established that one of the party members has an organisation they work closely with at times and with whom they're good friends... Without that, there's less drama, less attachment to the NPCs who've "turned evil". Not every party has that kind of situation.

Dungeon's kinda stuck... They have to make fairly generic adventures (except when they do adventure paths) yet also make them interesting and memorable... Too generic, and people will get bored and stop buying. Not generic enough, and people will get frustrated and stop buying. And as annoying as they are, the hyper-complex multi-templated villains are an easy way to accomplish that goal.

Good golly are you guys still blasting each other? I think we've all said our piece, let's wait and see what Erik et al. can come up with to replace it, then we can start slagging each other over our differing opinions on that feature. Sound good? :-)

The textured backgrounds really annoy me. Unless the article really grabs my attention, I don't read any article that has a textured background. It's just not worth the eye strain and headache.

Part of the problem is that the backgrounds have just so much texture to them, and it's not fuzzed out nearly enough. You know how when you sign up on a lot of websites now, you need to type in a series of letters or numbers that appears in a distorted image with lots of lines and dots and crap in the background so that computers can't read it? You know how annoying some of those are? Well, that's what's being done to the articles when they've got those backgrounds. It may be pretty but it's a pain in the ass to read, so I just don't bother.

Excellently put, GnomeMaiden.

GVDammerung wrote:
Awareness of D&D is huge.

No, it really isn't.

Let me tell you a little story. I have a good close friend, who's a geek. In fact, he's an artist. A comic-book artist, no less. He also does artwork for D&D-related items, including the magazines. His wife is a geek as well, although in her case she's more of a computer geek. She's an Oracle developer, actually. These are the kinds of people you'd expect to know all about D&D and what it is, right? Or at least have a decent enough idea.

Well, a few months ago, my friend was showing me some artwork he'd recently done for Dragon, and I said, "Hey, neat, I hadn't noticed that you'd done that piece." It blew his mind. "*YOU* play D&D?!" he asked. I could hardly have provoked a stronger reaction had I said that I enjoy eating live chickens. Keeping in mind that I also am a geek, and don't bother to hide it. But my friend just couldn't believe that I played D&D. His wife was in the room (as was my wife) and the two of them started mocking me mercilessly for being such a huge geek, until my wife finally spoke up and said, "Um, I play too." Then we told them that we'd met playing D&D (which they'd heard before but forgotten). So we ended up trying to explain to them what D&D was, and we had to correct a number of misconceptions. Particularly amusing was the idea that while playing, we had to dress up in silly capes and wave swords around. (They've since said that they'd be interested in playing some time, as the game actually sounds a lot more interesting, and a lot less ridiculous, than they'd been led to believe.)

People in the general public are aware of D&D, in the same way that they're aware of computers, or industrial machinery, or sewage treatment. That is, they know that it exists, and are able to recognize basic references to it, but that doesn't mean that they have any real concept of what it actually is or what it involves or how it works. Even people who do artwork for the magazines don't all know what the game is about.

Heck, even my bro -- who played D&D with dad and I when we were kids -- doesn't really understand the game any more, because he stopped playing by the time he was 10 and hasn't played again since. He's got a vague idea of what it's about, but if someone asked him what a game of D&D involved, he really wouldn't be able to answer, other than to say, "Well, there's dice... and... umm... you've got these characters, and you fight monsters..."

GnomeMaiden's right. The vast majority of people don't know what D&D is, and don't have any incentive to learn. Once they do learn, a lot of people (including many women) are very interested. The game system's flexible and adaptable enough now that most people will be able to adapt it to their preferred style of play and enjoy D&D. The problem is just that people don't know what the game is.

Personally, I'm very happy with 3.5. I was a little miffed with it when it first came out, but after spending more time looking at the differences, I think it was the right choice. 3.5 cleans up a lot of stuff that seems just sort of half-assed in 3.0.

As for 3.x in general, I'm extremely happy with it. With older editions, I spent a lot of time breaking the rules or hacking things apart in order to get the character I wanted. The results were generally ugly and unbalanced... Either seriously underpowered or seriously overpowered. With the 3.x rules, it's a lot easier to create a balanced character just the way I want them to be. That means that my characters are better, my NPCs are better, and the storylines are a lot better.

What I especially love is the consistent D20 rule mechanics. It makes it a lot easier to run the game, since even if you don't remember the specific DC for something it's easy to take an educated guess and keep the action flowing. Guessing a DC is a lot easier than going, "Wait, were you supposed to roll a D12 for that? Or was it a D10? Maybe a D100? And what was the target again?" :-)

As for the speedier level progression... That's easy to fix. Cut the XP awards in half for monster kills. :-) Personally, I like the fact that characters level up faster... It gives the game a whole lot more variety, since the DM doesn't have to fabricate three hundred virtually identical goblin encounters for one level, then switch to three hundred virtually identical hobgoblin encounters for the next level, etc, etc.

PCGen all the way, baby! :-)

It's very convenient for tracking characters and NPCs. I haven't played with any of the DM-specific stuff though, and I probably should. I'll probably investigate it before starting my next campaign.

GVDammerung wrote:
To the first point, quoted above, there would be then a coalescence around the idea that "women just don't get D&D," in the main.

Actually, I think you missed my last post. Bottom of the first page. It's not just that women don't "get" D&D, it's that they have no reason to learn enough about it to even have a chance of "getting" it. It's not just women, either... Most men don't have any reason to invest the time it would take to learn whether they'd enjoy the hobby or not. The fact is that the majority of the population just doesn't know what D&D is all about, and the information they do have is so ridiculous that they have no interest in learning the truth. My friends are all pretty geeky, and I recently had to explain to a bunch of them that D&D didn't involve dressing up in silly costumes and waving swords around. If even the geeks don't know what D&D is all about, what are the chances that an average member of society will know?

Thanks for the input guys. If I start getting more details worked out, I'll try to post back here with info... Eventually, assuming I get enough work done, I'll put together a website, complete with feedback forums and all. :-) (There are benefits to having a spare server in the basement.) A couple things that were mentioned really piqued my interest, I'll go through them. If I neglect anyone or anything, please don't be offended. ;-)

Jeremy, you're right about the goblinoids. All else being equal, the goblinoids would overrun everyone else in a hurry. I think what I might do is adjust goblins to become a sort of proto-goblin. I'll leave the physical stats the same, but drop the INT and WIS to 4. Smarter than animals, but not by a lot... Not capable of forming into any particularly cohesive structure, and they haven't figured out any sort of metallurgy. Even simple stone tools are generally beyond them, although they have figured out what a big stick is for. That leaves them individually dangerous by overall not much more than a significant pest. True goblins would be one of the creations of the wizards that muck about with different species' DNA, and a fairly recent one at that so they're common enough to have started to be a serious nuisance, but not so common to be a major threat. I'll probably have them engaged in slaughtering all of the original proto-goblins. And you're also right about having eliminated a lot of the more obvious adventuring locations. A big part of setting creation will likely be to come up with other potential adventure hooks and adventure sites. Remember, a lot of adventures revolve around looting an ancient and forgotten tomb... It seems like a fun idea to loot a few brand-new tombs, possibly even as they're being built... :-) Or to help protect a tomb of a good-aligned hero during its construction...? There are a bunch of adventure types that I think really haven't been explored in normal D&D that could be a lot of fun. But you're definitely right in that it's a lot harder and less obvious how to work them in.

Lloyd, thanks for the tip on removing the halfbreeds. I hadn't thought of it, but it definitely adds to the character of the world. And balancing the spells and magic items will be a challenge. On the other hand, part of the flavour of the world is that there really are going to be some things going on that the characters just can't face. As you pointed out, gods will be walking among their worshippers, having not yet learned to keep their distance.

Robert, I like the basic idea of having a feat progression. I'd probably break it up a little differently though... I'd probably have these creature-modifying wizards be a prestige class. Here's what I'm thinking now... Have a series of creature-creation feats, one for each type of creature (Animal, Humanoid, Magical Beast, etc -- I'd probably clump a couple of them together, like Humanoid and Monstrous Humanoid). These feats are chosen by the character as they progress in level... They're probably granted as bonus feats, actually. Some of them (such as Aberration or Outsider) would have extra prerequisites, or maybe the wizards simply can't create them. Outsider would likely be of that type. (And what would I do with Undead?) As a class feature, as these Creation Wizards go up in level, they also get a class feature called "Life Enhancement". It starts out by allowing them to take existing creatures and adjust them a maximum of 1 EL up or down, to a maximum EL of 5. A later class feature brings it up to max EL 10, with max adjustment of +/- 3 EL. Then max EL 15, max adjustment +/- 6 EL. Then max 20 EL, max adjustment +/- 10 EL from the original creature. Taking a creature that wasn't previously capable of attaining class levels and modifying it in such a way that it is capable of attaining class levels probably would count as +3EL for purposes of modifying the creature. But yeah, the point of all this is that there'd be seperate feats for the types of creatures (or plants) that can be modified, and the magnitude of the alterations that can be achieved. It gives the class a whole lot of variety... From semi-druidic wizards working to restore a war-damaged region to mad tyrants in their magical towers creating ever more vicious guardians to court mages of warring nations creating ever more deadly soldiers to fight for them... And then, possibly, throw in a few dark and evil wizards working in the crypts at night, creating terrible undead nightmares... In their madness (or genius?) at least a few wizards are likely to experiment on poor lost souls, or on orphans, or even on their own children... Who knows what might come of such experimentation?

OK, I think I've gone on long enough. :-) What do you think? Enough in there to get people interested? :-)

I have to agree... I don't even remember the last time I read a "Novel Approach" or "Silicon Sorcery" article... I suspect that not too many people found them useful. I'll wait and see what the new replacement is before I offer any comments on it, but frankly it'd be hard to imagine any replacement being less useful. :-)

(Other than the chocobos.)

GVDammerung wrote:
I think there is no merit in the public perception argument and (I know/believe this was not your intent) I find it a demeaning and condescending toward women.

Sorry GVD but here you're just being insulting. You're not the only one on here with a brain, and you're certainly not the only person to have considered this issue very, very seriously. Give the rest of us some credit for being able to think, OK?

And your argument against the public perception argument is fatally flawed. Certainly, many women who learned what D&D was all about and were interested would play regardless of society's perceptions. However, society's perceptions of the hobby are still very negative in a lot of places, and I'd suggest that most women would still stay away from the hobby as a result. After all, sex is a lot more pleasurable than D&D -- for most people, anyway -- but look at what happens to perceptions of women who look to indulge that hobby... ;-) Obviously there are differences, but I think you grossly underestimate the effect that societal disapproval has on most people. It doesn't seem to matter to you as much, but for a lot of people social standing really is very important.

That's not the fatal flaw though. No, the flaw lies in assuming that women are aware of what the game is. Very few women actually know what D&D is about, and very few of the remainder have any interest in finding out. It doesn't matter that they *would* be interested, the fact is that most women will never get to the point where they'd be able to make that judgement.

Have you ever considered knitting? It's a very relaxing hobby. While it can be expensive to continue purchasing materials, there's at least the benefit that you can make yourself new clothes, or even presents for friends and family. An experienced knitter can often knit while still watching TV or a movie, and even most novice knitters can carry on a conversation while they work, meaning that knitting doesn't even take much time away from normal activity. It can also be a fairly social activity in itself, with knitting parties growing in popularity. It's attracted a fairly strong male following in the last few years. It's quite possible that it's the kind of thing you'd enjoy. But I bet you'll never find out, because it's not the kind of thing that most men would consider looking into.

In the same way, most women wouldn't look into D&D. It doesn't matter whether the game's designed to be perfect for women or not, it's not going to attract a significant female following if most women won't even look at it.

It could be a handy feature to provide for subscribers though... Lots of work, unfortunately, but it would make that kind of Dragon and Dungeon material a lot more useful...

Just my 2 pennies. :-)

I haven't had much time to flesh anything out yet, but one thing that I've noticed is that every campaign setting I've seen involves thousands upon thousands of years of history, with the ruins of multiple great civilisations littered around the landscape. There's always the idea that there was some great golden age in the distant past, with duels between gods seemingly commonplace and overwhelmingly-powerful enemies... Finally something triggers the collapse of the civilisation, something else rises to take its place, and that in turn is knocked down. There may be a few more such cycles before the campaign's time period. The end result is that D&D games always seem to take place in old worlds with tons of history.

My idea is to go the other way. I want it to be a virtually brand-new world. Perhaps a thousand years have passed since the world was created, enough time for rival nations to have developed, but not enough for everyone to have become so cynical. Basically, with the older worlds, everything's had its edges worn off, everybody's settled into their comfortable routines, and good and evil are generally fairly intermingled. (Eberron is the best example of this.) With my world, I want to have it so that the world is filled with the archetypes... Everything's over the top, in a lot of ways. Characters who are good really are paragons of virtue, the heroic examples that become legends that later generations hope to emulate. Their opponents are the ultimate embodiment of evil -- vile, despicable, utterly without compassion or mercy. Even the common folk in this world haven't been beaten down yet, and truly feel that they can make a difference... Whereas in later ages, farmers keep their heads down, in my world, I want a typical farmer to be ready to join up with the militia and do their part to rid the world of evil.

It's hard to explain the flavour... Think of the First Age of Middle Earth and you'll have an idea. :-)

One of the fun things I want in my world is a specific prestige class... it may have to be an epic prestige class, which would be unfortunate because it adds so much to the flavour. I'll have to see if I can make a toned-down version... But basically, I want a group of wizards who are busy creating new types of life. They start by creating dire versions of normal animals, and in the end some of the more mad types create the abominations that everyone hates. A few also turn another direction and begin creating undead, although I think it'd be fun to keep that for part of a story arc in the campaign, so the world starts off without undead and then something happens and the characters end up having to fight off hordes of the undead.

One of the bizarre parts of the flavour of the world is that while Epic characters abound, the world's too young to have the artifacts or even magic weapons laying about that you'd find in other settings. They're not unheard-of, and there's nothing stopping the characters from making their own, but magic items just aren't laying around the way they seem to later on in the world. Another aspect (purely for flavour) that I'd like to include is that there are as many "mundane" magic items as military magic items... Which is to say, you're just as likely to find, for example, a magic plow or a magic hoe as you are to find a magic sword.

The primary society of the world I'm imagining as being very much like the Roman Republic. There is a certain amount of nobility, but there's still a lot of room for individual achievement and greatness.

Anyway. Sound interesting to anyone else? :-)

Once again I have to disagree with GVD. :-)

Certainly, gamers have been asking for years why there are so few women in gaming, and I would definitely agree that the previous editions of the game were very low in elements that would be attractive to a large portion of women. However, 3.x has, IMO, changed that. It's very, very easy to make a strongly character-focussed campaign these days. There's still a prevalence of monster-killing action, but a halfway-experienced DM knows how to adjust play to make that just one more aspect of the game instead of the way it was front-and-center before.

Look at the first video game to really capture the attention of women: The Sims. Pure role-playing. There aren't even any victory conditions... You just make your little person make supper, and meet people, and renovate their house, and so on and so forth. D&D is never going to be that pure of a role-playing experience, because part of the nature of the game really is the dungeon crawling and monster killing, but with the d20 rules, it's pretty easy still to make a very character-oriented game.

To me, claiming that the game itself interferes with women being interested is like claiming that the computers are the reason why so few women are into Linux. Women aren't uncomfortable with Linux, they're uncomfortable with Linux programmers (for good reason), and for the same reasons, women aren't uncomfortable with D&D but are uncomfortable with D&D players. And in the same way that you really need to go through Linux geeks to get Linux, you also need to go through D&D geeks to get to D&D.

Here's a link to a document (written by women) entitled "HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux":

A lot of it is obviously computing- and Linux-centric, but a lot of it (especially a lot in section 3) is actually very applicable to D&D as well.

GVDammerung wrote:
With respect to Otter's note, I more than suspect that your limited use of maps is not typical of most gamers or games.

Obviously a lot of people do like the pretty maps. And certainly a lot of people have been vocal about wanting to see them. But I'm wondering how many of those folks would actually find a pretty map more useful than some of the other suggestions that have been offered? If the pretty map doesn't cost anything, of course people want it. Hell, I'd like it too if Dungeon threw in an extra page just for the pretty map. But I'd be willing to bet that there's another possible feature that's of more use to more people than a pretty map. We've only got so much space in Dungeon, and a Map of Mystery takes away a full page. I can't help but think that there's a better use for that space.

GVDammerung wrote:
I understand both of your positions but I believe neither of sufficient weight to alter the basic equation - maps matter and Maps of Mystery would add value and weigh in favor of a Dungeon purchasing decision for many.

And, from what Erik said, Wil Save added value and weighed in favour of a Dungeon purchasing decision for many. But that didn't stop some extremely negative, and recurring, feedback. I'm just trying to draw a parallel here.

Basically, all I'm doing here is making sure that my voice is heard. Erik and the rest of the Dungeon crew rely on our feedback to make the best magazine possible. Personally, I have no use for a Map of Mystery, *especially* when you consider the value I'd have for some of the alternatives. I've given my feedback, I think they've heard it, now it's time to move on.

Patman wrote:
That lead to amny, amny nights of watching Nightstalker, and gaming...and Mom never really worried what I did...made a good excuse when I was chasing after girls...." Mom, I'm just gaming " Hell, maybe I should use that now....

That reminds me of when I was young... My older brother was not exactly a troublemaker, but not exactly perfectly-behaved... He had a pretty strict curfew the whole time he lived at home. By the time I was 17, my parents had dropped my curfew entirely -- I could stay out all night and come home in the morning if I wanted, and it didn't bother them. The difference was that while my brother was out at parties with friends, and having the kind of fun that he probably shouldn't have been having, I was out with friends playing D&D or other games. I remember one night when my mom decided to reinstate my curfew and told me to be back by midnight. I actually laughed at her and said, "Mom, I'm going over to Jeramy's to play D&D. You know I'm not going to get into trouble." She laughed too and said, "OK, fine, just don't stay out so late that you're too tired to drive home."

It amused me. :-)

I dunno, I think the game itself has already changed to become more accomodating to women. Women tend (and holy CRAP is this a huge generalisation, but we are dealing with the population as a whole so I guess I have no choice) to be more interested in character-building and role-playing... They tend to want a more thoughtful, less kick-in-the-door style of play. The 3.x rules have definitely made that a lot easier to accomplish.

I think the problem isn't with the game, it's with the gamers. It's a traditionally misogynistic hobby, for whatever reason, and even the guys who don't have a problem with women playing D&D can be a little startled and even a bit confused if a woman joins a game session. (Unless they've played with women before, of course.) Also, a lot of role-playing guys use their games as a bit of time away from their wives and girlfriends... Most couples I know like to have some time apart, and I know a few guys who use role-playing as their excuse to get that time apart. It's not a problem per se, but if part of the fun of the role-playing game is time away from daily life, having a big part of that daily life sitting right beside you tends to interfere... ;-)

Personally, I would think that the best way to encourage women to play is to have other women bring them into the game. It's a lot easier to get someone to join a group when they're already friends with the people in the group, and they're comfortable with the situation. Even if you've got a female friend who's friends with everyone in the group, it can be a little awkward to have the group dynamic suddenly change... When my wife started playing, it was largely because the group was predominantly bisexual or gay men -- she didn't have to worry that she was going to be especially hit on, or that it would add a sexual dynamic that hadn't previously existed. She knew she'd fit right in.

My wife's also gotten a couple of her female friends to consider playing with us if we start a new campaign. They'd never have even considered playing if any of the men we know had invited them, but since it's a woman, they're a lot less worried about what the game would be like. It just makes them a lot more comfortable with the idea not to be the only woman in a group of guys.

GVDammerung wrote:
(A) You don't use maps?

Not very often. A lot of my campaigns tend to be out in the wilderness, where there's no real need for a map (other than a quick sketch on a whiteboard).

GVDammerung wrote:
(C) You use maps, cannot draw your own maps of equal or better quality than Maps of Mystery but do not care that your maps don't look as good?

When I do need a map, I can draw one up. It's not as pretty, but it's functional. And frankly, I rarely care about how pretty a map is.

GVDammerung wrote:
(D) You use maps but can find maps sufficient for your purposes in other places? (If answering "yes," please provide a listing of the Top 5 places you find these other maps - share the wealth)

See Zherog's post for my response here. :-)

Basically, I rarely use maps, and when I do I can generally draw one up that's perfectly suitable, and if a situation ever comes up where I actually want a pretty map, I can find a suitable one among the numerous magazines and supplements that I own. So, like I said, Maps of Mystery are of no use to me. :-)

DeadDMWalking wrote:
I think it is very apparent that overall the readers of Dungeon don't complain about features they don't like if they can see the use others have for it.

I honestly can't see any value in Maps of Mystery. So that means that I have free reign to complain to my heart's content if Erik makes the horrible mistake of putting that travesty of a feature in the magazine. :-D

Of course I'm not serious about whining about Maps of Mystery the way you guys whined about Wil Save, but I'm dead serious about not seeing any value in it. Honestly, I've tried to figure out what you guys are so fanatic about, but I can't for the life of me understand it.

Let me make this clear: I dislike the idea of using Wil Save's page for Maps of Mystery the way you guys disliked using Wil Save's space for Wil Save. Of all the things that Dungeon could include, Maps of Mystery are one of the very, very few that are completely and totally useless to me.

I've said it before, but just to be clear: Personally, I very specifically do *NOT* want Maps of Mystery. I know there are people who find it useful, but I'm not one of them. And since it's been established that typical Dungeon reader etiquette is to b$&#~ and moan about things we don't like, even if other people do like them and find them useful and have been very vocal about their enjoyment of said feature... ;-)

As for Critical Threats... From what I understand, there's already a shortage of really good Critical Threats. And I have no use for Critical Threats that aren't really cool.

KnightErrantJR wrote:
With all due respect, I would take a wee bit of umbrage at the term mundane being applied to the Forgotten Realms.

I say that it's mundane because it is. Take out the backstory (the novels, the adventures, the computer games, etc) and you've got a pretty generic campaign setting, at least in comparison with the dramatic change in feel that you get with Ravenloft or Eberron. The history that's been thrown in is pretty cool, but the reality is that FR has a generic "feel". It's intended to be typical high fantasy.

KnightErrantJR wrote:
I understand that you like Eberron, and it fills your needs. That is wonderful. But to argue that becuase it is new and has non traditional "fantasy" elements, and that it has LESS backstory are all pluses that put it ahead of FR is rather strange to me.

Actually, I doubt that I'll run an Eberron campaign. I've tossed the idea around a few times, and it's definitely got a lot of interesting elements, but if I ever do run an Eberron campaign it'll be because my players just want a quick series of adventures with a different flavour from normal... Sort of a vacation from our normal type of gaming.

I started playing D&D with first edition. I've been around since before the Forgotten Realms were. :-) And the truth is that I've never once been interested in running, or even playing in, a campaign set in Forgotten Realms. The reason for that is that it's somebody else's story. There's already a set plot, a set direction that the world must take. There are set players already shaking up the landscape. There are schemes already in motion with which I can't tinker without wrecking untold other things that I really don't care about. The existing story for Forgotten Realms makes it hard for me to create my *own* story and throw it out there, whereas in a campaign setting like Eberron, there's no real set background of world-changing events that I have to take into consideration. I can create my own adventure and shake up the world however *I* want. It's what makes it a great campaign setting. It's not one I'm likely to use (the feel of it isn't really suited to the style of campaign I like to run) but that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate good design when I see it.

Here's what it comes down to: People like Forgotten Realms for the stories, and Eberron for the world. (Put another way: People like FR for what's been done to the world, and Eberron for what they can do to the world.) Both are valid for different reasons and different players. Neither is the "right" way to play or enjoy D&D, and neither approach is inherently better. However, Eberron is likely to be much more approachable for new players than the Forgotten Realms, because there's less backstory and plot to learn and memorise.

Loki_d20 wrote:
Surprisingly this is far from what is being seen in the entertainment industry, specifically in regards to computer games. The most anticipated games are all based in Forgotten Realms (NWN2 and BG3). The two games based out of Eberron, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach and Dragonshard, have many complaints in regards to their current setting. Sure, there's the whole new slate with which to build upon with Eberron and Xen'Drik itself, but Forgotten Realms for most gamers interested in the new material seem to have a soft heart for the story that they've known all these years. The Eberron novels also haven't done as well as the Forgotten Realms novels. Though, that may be heavily due to the editing work on them, which was very poor in comparison.

Hmm... The computer games aren't a good illustration though. My wife loves the computer games, but has never seen the Realms outside of that context. Same with most of my friends... I know a lot of people who seek out the video games but have never seen the Realms.

I think the real reason the Realms games are better-received is that they're a lot closer to what people imagine as D&D -- armour, swords, magic, monsters. Eberron, though, is a complex setting with a number of concpets that fall far outside of the usual swords-and-sorcery high fantasy stuff that even non-gamers understand. Lightning rail? Dragonmarks? Warforged? It's the very things that make Eberron a fascinating campaign setting that make it unapproachable for the average video game player. Forgotten Realms serves as an excellent backdrop because it really is so generic and mundane, whereas Eberron suffers as a result of its innovation.

Personally, the reason I dislike FR is already in this thread: too much existing plot, too many existing Epic NPCs. When you play in the Forgotten Realms, you've got to take into account all these other stories that people have already told about the world. With Eberron, there's no worry about that: you can have the characters do virtually anything without fear of a player saying, "But Drizzt already killed this guy!" or the like.

Basically, I think FR is going to die because if you're not a fan already, there's just too much there to make it worth your while to really get into it, rather than just creating your own homebrew. What I think is going to happen is that at some point, Wizards is going to come up with another new campaign world that's got a fairly generic high fantasy feel (the default D&D atmosphere), with enough detail and interesting intrigue etc to spark the imagination and provide fertile breeding ground for adventure without the metaplot and backstory and Epic NPCs that are weighing down the FR. It may take a decade or two before Wizards gets to that point, but if the FR isn't attracting new fans, it's only a matter of time before the existing fan base stops buying the products. It's pretty near impossible to "reset" FR to make it more appealing to new folks, because a lot of what the fans love about it (the history, the Epic NPCs, etc) are the barriers that are making it hard for newcomers to get into it.

Remember, Oldsmobile did really well for a long time by focussing on the needs and wants of their existing fans. And then the fans all stopped buying new Oldsmobiles (generally because they died of old age) and the line's finished now. I see FR going the same way.

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I know, I know! :-)

What I'd *LOVE* to see -- and yes, I know it's not my idea -- is a fairly conversational article about running a game for younger players... Whether it's a parent running a game for the kids, or a teacher introducing students to D&D... The idea seems pretty simple to me, I hope everyone understands what I'm saying.

We keep hearing about how the gaming population is aging. D&D players aren't teenagers any more, we're thirty-, forty-, even fifty-year olds (and older) trying to work in D&D between family, home, and jobs. In the meantime, the young'uns aren't being introduced to D&D fast enough to support the continued existence of the industry. Well, an article about running a game for the young'uns (from 10 to 20), about reaching the youth of today and introducing our hobby to them... That'd be perfect. I don't have kids yet, but I will in the next couple years (hopefully). When they get a bit older, I want to run a game for them, like my dad ran a game for my brother and I when we were young. :-)

Anyway. Sorry, I just got really, really excited about the prospect of that kind of article. I'll try to be quiet now. ;-)

diaglo wrote:

i'd like to see an article from one of the authors of one of the adventures in the issue.

notes from playtesting. hints about how they used things. something more in depth perhaps about one room or encounter.

Now this is an awesome idea. :-D

GVDammerung wrote:
If "pregenerated adventures" are not what you want, you need to either a) look for a gaming periodical that better suits your needs or b) understand that you are an abberational purchaser.

I'm looking for something that'll make it easier for me to run a game, and provide some entertainment as well. I'd say I'm not unique in that respect -- in fact, like I've said, I really doubt that the majority of readers actually use the adventures intact. Many of us buy the magazine for the adventures, but without any intention of using them. I obviously don't have the numbers -- I'd bet even Paizo doesn't, actually -- but I'd guess that at least 50% of Dungeon readers buy the magazine primarily for inspiration, and if an adventure happens to be particularly well-suited to their campaign, they'll use it.

I view the adventures in Dungeon as the D&D equivalent of source code for a sample application. If I want to see how a particular function call works, I could look at the reference material, but that often doesn't explain what exactly is going on, or the best way to use it. On the other hand, if I find sample code that uses the function (or class, or whatever) I can see it in the context of a complete application, providing me with a more full understanding of what I'm trying to do and suitable ways to do it. Well, in the same way, the adventures in Dungeon provide me with excellent examples of ways to accomplish things. The raw material is already there in the source books, but seeing it put to use helps me to use it better in my own adventures.

I hardly think I'm unique in using Dungeon this way. Hell, how often do you think Keith Barker was able to use Dungeon adventures intact in his homebrew? ;-) It doesn't meant that people like me aren't buying the magazine for the adventures -- if anything, we're even *more* interested in the adventures than someone who's just planning to run one, rather than analyse and deconstruct it.

I don't think I've weighed in yet...

To me, Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms are both irritating as hell. Greyhawk in particular... It wasn't built so much as congealed. I can't stand the thought of using it... It's such a boring, generic world that it pisses me off. Sorry Erik. ;-) It's just that it's a generic fantasy realm, with a bunch of cool places beaten into it wherever they'd fit. Forgotten Realms isn't really all that bad, it's just never really piqued my interest... Basically, I've always thought, "Meh, I could make something more interesting than that." It's just not terribly inspiring. Plus, Salvatore ruined it for me. :-) Actually, the same sort of thing happened with almost every other D&D campaign world I looked at. I'd look at any of them and think, "So what's so special about this that justifies me skipping the fun world-creation stuff?"

So when Eberron came out, I initially refused to even look at it. Actually, I was a little disgusted when I saw all the kerfuffle about it... "Oh great, yet another useless campaign world." Then I was in the store one day visiting a friend who works there, and he was temporarily busy with a customer, so I picked up the Eberron book and flipped through it to see if there was anything that interested me. Five minutes later, I'd bought the book and was sitting down to read it. I don't know if I'll ever actually run an Eberron campaign, but I do love to see the content.

For me, what makes Eberron better than Greyhawk, the Realms, or any of the other worlds, is that it's got *flavour*. It's got unique character, a special feel that no other world really has. Adventures adapted from other worlds to Eberron may function on a technical level, but they don't have quite the same texture to them that a true Eberron adventure does. And again, while I may never run an Eberron campaign (and hence adventure) I love to see the content, because I can analyse it and figure out how the author worked Eberron's feel into the campaign.

So, basically, I'm a definite "Yes". I don't use the Eberron content directly, but I definitely put it to good use. :-)

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