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World D&D Day 2009 at The Core

gameday2009PITs 1, 2, & 3 woke early this morning.  They were eager and anxious to play D&D today.  So we went off to work and flew through the day.  We left for our local game store, The Core in Cedar Falls, Iowa and arrived at at approximately 3:30.

When we got there, they had three tables going fifteen players total.  I took the time to talk to Mike Blanchard, the owner.  According to Mike, when he got to the store at his normal time there were already people waiting outside.  All three tables were busy all day long from opening at 10:00 until an hour after closing at 5:00.  Mike reports that most of the folks who came to D&D day were new customers.  He also reported a 25% increase in sales traffic.  The Core is thinking seriously about making a monthly event for their customers.  As far as Mike is concerned this day was a success.

Just about the time I finished talking with Mike the owner one of the tables opened up.  PITs 1-3, a family friend and I took positions around our DM for the afternoon, Mike (not the owner).  For my newer readers you must know that I have never played D&D beyond 2e.  Also I have only recently been playing D&D after a more that 20 year hiatus, so my perceptions of what is or is not D&D is based on 20 year old memories and my recent return to playing 2e.

Mike, our DM, explained the new rules for 4e and handed out the characters.  Pit #1 took the Drow, Pit #2 took the Tiefling Invoker, Pit #3 took the Dragon Born Paladin, Tony, our family friend, took the War-forged Barbarian, leaving me with the Gnome Bard.

My first impression of my character, aside from the fact that she was female and I don’t cross-gender RP very well was that Bards rock.  My character hardly moved during the first encounter and she took out one the Troglodytes by singing the Song of Discord at the Dire Bear.  The poor Troglodyte never had a chance as the bear dropped our Barbarian and went for the Troglodyte.

My second impression is that this game resembles more the games my kids play on their game cube or PS2 than it does any form of D&D that I remember.  Now I’m not saying that in a disparaging manner at all.  We had a blast.  The kids enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it.  In fact, we had so much fun I plopped down the cash for the PHB, MM, two boxes of miniatures and the Starter Set.  I haven’t delved into any of the rulebooks yet so I cannot comment on easy or hard it is to create characters.  I cannot comment on how easy or hard it is to DM this game but Mike handled the whole thing without consulting any guides at all.

The ONLY complaint I had and heard from all tables is that the module was not constructed to be  played in one sitting, or as one gamer put it, “Wizards certainly weren’t kidding when they said D&D DAY“.  I didn’t catch the name of this person just that I overheard it coming from another table, but I have to agree with him, after nearly three hours we just finished the first encounter.  We had gone an hour past closing time.  We hadn’t realized the passage of time at all but as I stated previously we had fun.

On the ride home I asked my kids and Tony what they thought of the game.  Tony thought it was pretty cool and couldn’t understand why folks have complained it wasn’t D&D.  My boys were quite pleased with the fact that we are now the proud owners of the first two core rulebooks and some miniatures to go with it.  PIT #1 is torn, she’s pleased we bought the game but upset that she’ll be leaving for Basic in just over three months.  I wasn’t the only person who bought books from the Core today based on the demo.  At least locally D&D Day was a success. 

My only complaint with the day, we didn’t have enough time to finish the whole game.  Since we were the last players of the day, our DM graciously allowed us to keep the entire module so we could finish it on our own.  Mike let on as we were packing up that the module went on for a total of four encounters (something that as of this writing I haven’t confirmed yet).  2.5 hours per encounter x4 encounters = 10 hours.  10 hours means that I had to base my decision to but based on what I saw in my character.  Had it not been for the fact that my kids were all “Wow, this is so-o-o cool.” I might not have bought anything.  WotC could’ve made a smaller adventure similar to Savage World’s famous “One Sheets” and had more than one of those for folks who had more time to spend playing.  That might have been better for showcasing the “new” races and classes, giving folks the time to play more than one character and see just how cool it was.

Effort by WotC to publicize D&D Day: B- (had I not been a member of the Bloggers Network I don’t think I would’ve heard about it.)
Effort by WotC to showcase 4e: A- (only because the adventure needed a lot more time than most anyone locally had to actually spend at The Core)
Efforts by our FLGS, The Core: A+ (Our DM was very knowledgeable kudos Mike.  The tables were set in such a manner that the noise level was not a problem)

Will we go again? Yes.  Will we attend the proposed monthly ‘event’ game at The Core? Yes.  Do I wish that I could’ve been there in person at some of the other events? Yes.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Blog Carnival, News, Reviews and Culture, Play, RPG | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Game Night: 3-20-09

Last night all six of my regular players were there.  One player who had previously only attended long enough to make a character brought along two new folks.  So we had a total of nine.  There was some disappointment as I had stated earlier that we’d try to play Necessary Evil last night.  However due to Mrs VS chemo treatments and a long day at work I never got NE prepped correctly and I won’t run a game completely off the cuff.

The article about my efforts to homebrew RunePunk into a Stargate campaign is still in the works but one thing that needs to be brought out.  The Andari in RunePunk have become who they are from mishaps through accidents of the ring doors.  I have replaced the far doors in RunePunk with ring transports from Stargate.

Last week the team successfully helped out Lady Winterwood and received her recommendation for some work in Scatterpoint.

Last night Chancellor Peak IV summoned SG-21 to a meeting.  Lady Winterwood had informed him and (I hope that none of my players are reading this) unknown to the players hired them out as mercs to the Chancellor.  Chancellor Peak summoned them to Grey Mesa and “asked” them for their help in the mysterious disappearance of Sister Cannondale.  SG-21 accepted the job as Chancellor Peake dropped clues that the team might discover the identities of some of Scatterpoint’s government.

The team was directed to the Royal Crown Bar to a meeting of the Entropy Society, which is the last place Sister Cannondale was seen.  The team received a letter of recommendation from Chancellor Peake’s friend Lord Topper and off they went.

Gaining entrance to the bar the team began their investigation.  The new sniper, Chief Master Sergeant Meeker, climbed a building across the street to keep the bar under surveillance.  The team cautioned their leader to not pull a gun on the bartender.  After some quiet investigation the team determined that Lord Angst and Lady Ennui, the leaders of the Entropy society were upstairs.

Sergeants Mystery and Sassy bluffed their way upstairs with a forged note as the guard was not too bright.  Sgt Kyle bribed the bartender to allow her to bring drinks upstairs to the VIP lounge.  Sgt Steelflex attempted to taunt the guard after Mystery and Sassy had made their way past.  He succeeded and managed to get picked up one handed by the neck.  Major Johnson used the ensuing chaos to sneak past the guard.  All this happened while Colonel Winston continued to question the bartender.

The upstairs team was able to determine that Sister Cannondale had been moved to Arthur Shaw’s flat in Black Shackle.  The team downstairs continued to have fun with the guard as they discovered that stabbing him in the arm did not slacken his grip on Sgt Steelflex.  The guard kicked Sgt Emo away and finally threw Sgt Steelflex across the bar.

Sergeant Meeker tried to take out Lord Angst when it appeared that the upstairs team was in trouble due to Maj Johnson’s direct questioning of Lord Angst about Sister Cannondale’s whereabouts.  Lord Angst took a gut shit and direct shot to the head and still managed to call out for the guards to deal with the infiltrators.

Major Johnson jumped out the window.  Sgts Sassy, Mystery and Kyle ran back downstairs.  Colonel Winston ordered a retreat.  Sgt Emo dragged Sgt Steelflex’s unconscious form outside.  The team regrouped and made their way to the Spiral for the trip to Blackshackle.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Play, RPG, Stargate | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vulcan Stev’s family movie review: The World is Not Enough

world_is_not_enough_ver2Starring:
Pierce Brosnan …  James Bond
Sophie Marceau …  Elektra King
Robert Carlyle …  Renard
Denise Richards …  Christmas Jones
Robbie Coltrane …  Valentin Zukovsky
Judi Dench …  M
Desmond Llewelyn …  Q
John Cleese …  R
Maria Grazia Cucinotta …  Cigar Girl
Samantha Bond …  Moneypenny
Michael Kitchen …  Tanner
Colin Salmon …  Robinson

Synopsis from IMDb: After British oil tycoon Sir Robert King is killed in a bombing at the MI6 headquarters, his daughter, Elektra, inherits his fortune which includes billions of dollars worth of oil deposits in the Caspian Sea…and James Bond as a bodyguard. Her new wealth attracts international interest. But she has also attracted the attention of her father’s killer. His name is Renard. A bullet lodged in his brain has rendered him unable to feel physical pain, and he has but only one reason left to live – revenge. There’s only one man who can take the heat between a beautiful heiress, a malicious sociopath and his final diabolical plan. For the world’s most famous secret agent, when the stakes are high and the danger hits too close to home, it is not just professional; its personal!

Reviewers: VS, PIT#1, PIT#2, PIT#3

VS: 1.6 pointed ears
This is my least favorite of the Brosnan era of course that’s like saying plain chocolate is my least favorite flavor of ice cream.  It’s still ice cream, it’s still Bond.

However, Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist?  Sorry but after I caught Wild Things on cable one night I’ll never be able to see Denise Richards without remembering that scene.  Kudos to the producers for taking the bold step of making the main villain a female.  Sorry to see Hagrid.. er.. Zukovsky get killed off in this movie.  Having a recurring sympathetic Russian character showed that James doesn’t kill EVERYONE he meets.  Fighting onboard a sinking nuclear sub was a fresh idea.  The theme song is still in my rotation on iTunes.  I especially liked the video that went with it.

Brosnan, to me at least, had a good handle on the Bond character.  I preferred his portrayal over that of Roger Moore.  It was a crying shame that Remington Steele kept Brosnan out of the role for as long as it did.

Just remember even a faulty Bond movie is better than 90% of the crap that comes out of Hollywood.

PIT#1 – 1.9 pointed ears
Kinda confusing.  A Bond girls is also the villain?  Why did Elektra King fall for her captor?  It took me  a few viewings to catch that she was the one who masterminded the whole thing and was not just a pawn of Renard.

PIT#2 – 2 pointed ears
It’s Bond, what more can you say.  Fighting on sinking nuclear sub was an inspired touch.

PIT#3 – 1.9 pointed ears
You can never go wrong with a Bond movie.  Expect the gratuitous kissing scenes.  It was too bad about Q’s boat.

7.4 pointed ears out of 8.  Not the best Bond but it’s still a watchable flick.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment