Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield 1-24-10

Wow has it really been nearly three months since I wrote anything?

Not that I haven’t had things to say but it’s been busy.  I’ve reconnected with a bunch of old friends via Facebook.  I’ve discovered that as much as I like writing, I enjoy my job more.   I’ve been extraordinarily busy with the job.  Recently, I was informed that according to the Iowa Newspaper Association, I am one of the top three ad designers in the entire state for the class of newspaper I work for (weekly under 10,000 circulation).  I find out exactly where I place at the banquet in February.

The can company is OFFICIALLY sold.  We signed the papers last week.  Yay!!!!!!!!!

PIT #1 (aka Pvt. Black Spartan) is still learning to be intelligent.  Her graduation has been pushed back again due to National Guard needing the same training, but she’s enjoying the challenge.

PIT #2 is now almost as tall as I am (when did that happen?).  He’s learning the ins and outs of controlled fishtails on the snow covered roads.

PIT #3 is being 10.  He finally agreed to let his mother wash his favorite Christmas present, an official Army fatigue shirt.  He received this from his big sister and has worn it nearly every day since Christmas.

Mrs. VS is recovering more every day.  Her hair is now long enough that she doesn’t wear wigs anymore.

One Way Express (the puppet team) has taken the tentative steps into video.

We are now digitally recording the morning services at church and will be placing more videos up at YouTube as I get  time to edit.  Check out my channel

The entire family has been playing Wizard’s 101.  We’re enjoying it to the point of possibly getting a second subscription that we can play together instead of watching one person play.

The boys and I are back to a bi-weekly D&D 4e game at The Core in Cedar Falls.  I can’t say I much like the hack and slash version of D&D, but it’s time with my boys.  Alternate weeks, our local gaming group has begun a Top Secret! campaign, yes let’s resurrect more classic games from the 80’s

I also recently came to terms with my decision to leave Starships of the Third Fleet.  The constrictions being placed on my writing from the higher-ups made it less than fun to continue with the group.  I’ve also re-found the KSF and resurrected Chris Dehart.  Stev isn’t gone.  He’s just not onboard the Phoenix anymore.  When last seen he, T’Aiya, Phread and Neila had boarded the Ghost Rider and taken off for parts unknown.  (I am thinking of posting my stuff here for the world to read).

Hoping it’ll be sooner than March before I post again…


January 24, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight, Play | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: Wrap Up

Last week I was trying to figure out why Edition Wars are cropping on the Blogshpere.  I am not emotionally tied to any one edition of D&D and wanted your thoughts about the “superiority” of one edition over another.  What I discovered is that Dungeons & Dragons has loyal followers in whatever edition is played.

Orginal D&D: The main consensus is a nostalgic love of the game.  Lots of folks waxing enthusiastically about the games they used to play.  Lots of folks stating they’d play this game today if there were any games being run.

(Hey Wizards, you might have a market for reprints of D&D Classic)

Advanced D&D: What surprised me about AD&D as the like/dislike of the sheer amount of material produced for the game.  Folks loved the voluminous settings produced for this ruleset.  Folks disliked the number of splat books produced.

(Hey Wizards, Maybe it’d work better to release campaign settings as opposed to multiple editions of the core rulebooks)

D&D 3.5:  The clear consensus is that the current revitalized state of the industry can be directly attributed to the OGL of 3.5.  3.5 fixed some inherent problems introduced with AD&D but broke some things as well.

(Hey Wizards opening up 4e to an OGL might not be a bad idea)

D&D 4e: The biggest complaint I’ve heard is “It’s not the way we’ve played D&D before,” (or some variation).  This is a semi valid complaint that I’ll address shortly.   The other complaint is that combat takes too long in 4e.  “There’s not enough time for RP.”  “It’s all kill monsters and lot their treasure.”

Why did Hasbro/WotC publish 4e in its current form?  Honestly I think it’s a very astute business decision on their part.  Mike Blanchard (owner of The Core) has noticed that although there’s still a market for comic books and RPG amongst my generation, very few of us are passing our love for the game onto the next generation.  That’s not to say every Geekdad is failing to pass on love of the game to his kids, just that most teens that come through the door come through on their own.

Hasbro has produced a game that emulates the MMORPGs and first person shooters that teens are playing.  The business model follows suit with the CCG and collectible minis games that teens have recently been playing (though according to Mike that market has gone somewhat soft).  Hasbo/WotC is trying to market a game they think will play into what today’s teens want to play.  Is it your Father’s D&D? no.  Is it D&D? yes, get over it.

The other complaint about combat taking too long?  We just started a brand new 4e campaign with 1st level characters and found that not having to keep track a whole multitude of unfamiliar feats and powers sped up combat tremendously.  The other thing that our DMdid to speed up combat was to use an assistant whose sole responsibility was to keep track of initiative.   While Nick (DM) was dealing with the PC who’s turn it was, Mike (assistant) was informing the next PC that they were on deck so they could KNOW what they were doing on their turn.

Is D&D 4e D&D? Yes, Hasbro has decreed it to be so.  Get over it.  4e isn’t going away.  If you don’t like 4e, grab an earlier edition and play that.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , | 4 Comments

What D&D Monster are you?

D&D Home PageWhat Monster Are You?D&D Compendium

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Five Bullywugs Named Steve: Steve Omega

5bullywugs2Steve Omega is the last Bullywug in the Steve Series one of the many, at least.  The sorcerers made it all the way to Steve Phi before they finally realized it was impossible to craft a perfect Bullywug.  After the Gamma failure, the sorcerers realized they might have accidentally discovered a new path towards Bullywug perfection.  Trying a new tactic, they tried to reverse the bad hand that nature dealt the poor bullywug by slowly increasing the Bullywug’s native intelligence. 

The sorcerers who formed the core of the Steve project watched in glee as the increasing intelligence of the Bullywugs caused them to want to live in a better environment.  They began to rethink their experiment as the +Healing for killing a Bullywug began to disappear from the genetic make-up of their test subjects.  Omega was able to pass all the rudimentary skills tests of intelligence.  Awash with the heady elixir of a partial success, the sorcerers began their plans to breed a completely new race of Bullywugs using Omega as their main breeder.

thefrogtrixUnfortunately before they could begin they breeding program, the tower was overrun by a band of marauding barbarians.  Escaping the mayhem and simultaneously releasing the other Steves, Omega banded together four of the more remarkable Steves.  The Five Bullywugs named Steve now patrol the countryside defending the innocent, righting the wrongs, robbing from the rich and giving… (no wait that’s another group).  Defending the innocent and protecting the countryside, The Five Bullywugs named Steve, are unlike any group of Bullywugs you’ve ever met before or are likely to meet again.

How was Omega able to survive the attack on the tower?  How was he able to rescue his fellow bullywugs?  How did the Barbarians know to attack this particular tower?  The answer is quite simple.  Omega having his intelligence raised well beyond what nature intended for a Bullywug realized one very important thing that no one else in his plane of existence has realized…. Do not attempt to defeat the dungeon as that is impossible.  Rather realize that there IS no dungeon.

Thanx to my good buddy Greywulf for the use of his Bullywug renders

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Blog Carnival, Fluff/Inspiration, Legacy D&D, RPG | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: 4e

DandD4The current edition of Dungeons & Dragons is now a year old.  The debate on this new edition of the grandaddy of all RPGs is older than that.  Not a day goes by that some blog or some forum is either loving or hating WotC’s latest version of the most popular RPG ever.

This post is not about rehashing the love/hate that folks have been expressing for 4e.

I’ve bought a good deal of the books and have been impressed with the thought and detail that has gone into this edition.  My kids and I have played this version.  The boys tell me it plays a lot like the pirate MMORPG.  The game play is enjoyable enough but combat takes forever.

When we played at World D&D Day it took us three hours and we just finished the first encounter.  I chalked that up to unfmiliarity on our part.  However, repeated attempts at playing have only reinforced the fct that combat takes forever.

The haters claim this isn’t your Father’s D&D and they would be right.  Does that make it not D&D, no.  This is still gaming in a High-Fantasy setting. 

What I like about 4e: Character generation is somewhat easier than AD&D.  Bards flat out rock in 4e.  The makeover given to this class is outstanding.

What I don’t like: Combat takes forever.

Favorite memory:  Yes combat takes forever, but we didn’t notice the time until we’d finished the encounter.  We did enjoy ourselves.

Your turn:
Please keep the flames out.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , | 20 Comments

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