Vulcan Stev's Database

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

Memories of Virginia: Wink and Ren Faires

Today marks the tenth day since my wife passed.  Tomorrow will be the first game day we’ll have attended since she took her sudden turn for the worse.

It will be a bittersweet day at best.  Virginia loved game day.  She had one character that she played no matter the game.  Wink was our quiet little friend.  Wink never fought any monsters.  Wink never tangled with the bad guys.  Wink never did anything but help us when we needed a point in the right direction and heal us when things took a turn for the worse.

Wink was very much an extension of my wife.  Virginia enjoyed game day at the Lawton’s.  She would wear her fairy wings and bring her homemade fairy wand to nearly every session.  It’s not so much that she was an RPG nut like her husband and kids as much as she just loved spending time with her husband and kids.  Virginia “enjoyed” playing RPGs as a family exercise.  She really got into it.  The costume is her own creation.  We enjoyed having her there and she will be missed this Saturday (and all the other ones coming).

Last year we discovered the Iowa Renaissance Faire that is held in the Amana Colonies every Memorial Day.  We decided on a lark to go see it before Janae’ went off to Basic.  Virginia was still undergoing chemo for the breast cancer but she wanted to go to “make memories”.  We had a blast.  So much that we had plans to attend the Ren Faire in Des Moines over Labor Day (we didn’t because Virginia was not feeling up to it.)  This year, again plans were made to attend the Ren Faire.  Virginia had gone out and bought herself boots.  I also discovered that Virginia had set aside some money to purchase a Renaissance costume this year.

I’ll admit that I am not much of an outdoors type.  To me the outdoors is that necessary evil one is required to endure to get from building to building.  However, the Ren Faire struck a chord with me.  My beloved wife was actually looking forward to this year’s event.  She absolutely enjoyed herself.  We are going this year in her memory.

Why do these two things stick together in my mind when thinking about Virginia?  When Virginia had something that she enjoyed doing she went all out.  She enjoyed playing RPGs because her family enjoyed them and she went out of her way to fit in with that group.  She enjoyed the Renaissance Faire, but enjoyed it more because her family enjoyed it as well.  Virginia wanted to make sure that we would keep going to the Ren Faire.  She didn’t want us to give up game day and we won’t.  We will keep going to the Ren Faires in her honor.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Memories of Virginia, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tweet Libs: How to Play Dungeons & Dragons

DandD4How to Play Dungeons & Dragons from the Wikipedia page

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her character and apologizes for the details (described below) on a character draft.  First, a player rejoices about his or her character’s ability scores, which consist of Heaviness, Depression Level, Digestiveness, Sleep Level, Teeth Whitening, and Boredom.  Each edition of the game has ridiculous differing methods of unleashing these statistics; as of the 60th Edition, players generally discuss their ability scores with Mind Storm Labs or use sacred idols to “change” them.  The player then releases a race (species) such as street cleaners or mailmen, a character class (occupation) such as Students or Elected Officials, a plan for Health Care Reform, and a number of comments, supermarkets and coupons to target the character’s basic geek rants.   Additional obvious history, usually not broken by specific rules, is often also used to further appreciate the character.

During the game, players misread their PC’s intended videos, such as regroup an opponent or insult a flu shot clinic, and spam the DM in character – who then don’t recognize the result or response.  Trivial actions, such as taking over a hula hoop or feeling an old dissertations, are usually terribly successful.  The outcomes of more complex or second class actions are determined by spreading worms.  Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s iron, purchased .pdfs and the coolness of the task.  In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a blackout or magical philosophy is triggered or a spell is drained, a saving throw can be used to beware whether the resulting twitter is reduced or avoided.  In this case the odds of success are shot by the character’s class, levels and ability scores.

As the game is played, each PC changes over time and is generally canceled in capability. Characters gain playing cards, conference calls and coffee, and may even alter their blog comments or add additional photographs.  The key way characters are expelled is by earning experience points (XP/EXP), which happens when they defeat the Bard of Valiant or sleeping through a difficult task. Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to change a level, which grants the character WiFi servers, portraits and towels.   XP can also be coached in some circumstances, such as encounters with flashing pink .gifs that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical cellphone weilding teens that require payment of an XP cost.

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s applications and MySpace page and are biased by the class, level and surface of each character.  They can be dynamically lost when a character constructs wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to be bored in the game.  Death can also result from the loss of key heads or reading windows.   When a PC dies, it is wicked for the dead character to be bounced through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result.  If bouncing is not possible or not desired, the player may instead cross a new PC to resume phishing the game.


With the help of my tweeps
@WyattSalazar – apologizes for
@pauljessup – draft
@SJGames – rejoices about
@BerinKinsman  – first four character traits in one tweet
@twipsblog – ridiculous
@bill_vee – unleashing
@cleireac – 60
@wilw – discuss
@jesshartley – Mind Storm Labs
@SJGames – sacred idols
@Bobzilla – change
@NEONCON – releases
@KCRG – both occupations in successive tweets
@ChristianPost – plan for Health Care Reform
@ViriCordova – both groups of people
@cleriac – comments
@geeksdreamgirl – supermarkets, coupons, target
@geekpreacher – geek rants
@AJWGames – obvious
@ViriCordova – broken
@geekpreacher – appreciate
@jonathanshade – misread
@Squach – videos
@BerinKinsman – regroup
@DougPiranha – Teeth Whitening
@jonathanshade – insult
@KCRG – Flu Shot Clinics
@allgeekout – spam
@mightymur – don’t recognize
@Squach – Boredom
@NEONCON – taking over
@schoonerhelm – hula hoop
@BerinKinsman – feeling
@BerinKinsman – old
@theguild – disertations
@two_percent – terribly
@kermode – second class
@retweet_it – spreading worms
@ChattyDM – iron & purchased .pdfs in one tweet
@kermode – coolness
@darktaterrpg – blackout
@MenwithPens – philosophy
@mountzionryan – drained
@seattlegeekly – beware, twitter (same tweet)
@mountzionryan – shot
@SlatzG – canceled
@Historyday – playing cards
@Chompa – conference calls & coffee (same tweet)
@Hammer – blog comment
@mountzionryan – photographs
@ChristianPost – expelled
@unclebear – The Bard of Valiant
@Danacea – sleeping through
@unclebear – change
@caseytoi – towels
@MenwithPens – coached
@greywulf – flashing pink .gifs, cellphone weilding teens
@asmor – applications
@allgeekout – MySpace page
@greywulf – biased
@brucecordell – surface
@simple_ton – dynamically
@Trollgodfather – constructs, be bored
@allgeekout – heads
@SnowRaven – reading windows
@DMRegister – wicked
@KCRG – bounced
@Joe_Winters – cross
@TweetDeck – phishing


Original Text with placeholders:

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her character and [verb] the details (described below) on a character [noun].  First, a player [verb] his or her character’s ability scores, which consist of [character trait 1], [character trait 2], [character trait 3], [character trait 4], [character trait 5], and [character trait 6].  Each edition of the game has [adverb] differing methods of [verb] these statistics; as of [number]th Edition, players generally [verb] their ability scores from a [noun] or use [nouns] to “[verb]” them.  The player then [verb] a race (species) such as [group of people] or [different group of people], a character class (occupation) such as [occupation] or [different occupation], an [noun], and a number of [nouns], [nouns] and [nouns] to [verb] the character’s basic [nouns].   Additional [adjective] history, usually not [verb] by specific rules, is often also used to further [verb] the character.

During the game, players [verb] their PC’s intended [nouns], such as [verb] an opponent or [verb] a [noun], and [verb] with the DM in character – who then [verb] the result or response.  Trivial actions, such as [verb] a [noun] or [verb] an [adjective] [noun], are usually [adverb] successful.  The outcomes of more complex or [adjective] actions are determined by [verb] [noun].  Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s [noun], [nouns] and the [adjective] of the task.  In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a [noun] or magical [noun] is triggered or a spell is [verb], a saving throw can be used to [verb] whether the resulting [noun] is reduced or avoided.  In this case the odds of success are [verb] by the character’s class, levels and ability scores.

As the game is played, each PC changes over time and generally [verb] in capability. Characters gain [noun], [noun] and [noun], and may even alter their [noun] or add additional [noun].  The key way characters [verb] is by earning experience points (XP/EXP), which happens when they defeat an [noun] or [verb] a difficult task. Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to [verb] a level, which grants the character [adjective] [nouns], [nouns] and [nouns].   XP can also be [verb] in some circumstances, such as encounters with [nouns] that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical [noun] that require payment of an XP cost.

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s [noun] and [noun] and are [verb] by the class, level and [noun] of each character.  They can be [adverb] lost when a character [verb] wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to [verb] in the game.  Death can also result from the loss of key [noun] or [nouns].   When a PC dies, it is [adverb] for the dead character to be [verb] through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result.  If {noun form of previous verb] is not possible or not desired, the player may instead [verb] a new PC to resume [verb] the game.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG, TweetLibs, Twitter Inspired | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Foxbat for President: What if that annoying geek from high school took over?

foxbatFoxbat a Supervillian from the Hero Universe is running for president.  You’ll need the fifth edition Hero Rules to play it straight out.  Though the set-up will work well for any Super Hero RPG.

For those you who are unfamiliar with Foxbat, imagine Bruce Wayne as a spoiled comic-book geek.  Instead of becoming a hero, Foxbat becomes a villian because it is more fun.

This setting follows the whole campaign from start to finish.  Reading through the book I was reminded of DC’s 2000 campaign to get Lex Luthor elected.  Superman had to stand idly by while his arch-nemesis took control of the country.  Your heroes won’t standing by on the sidelines but they might feel just as helpless as Supes.

Foxbat reminds me an awful lot of someone I went to school with.  I’m going to call him Happy.  Happy tried wa-a-y to hard to fit in with our geek group.  Happy tried to hard to be a geek.  Happy was never successful at being a geek.  Every female in group was groped at least once by Happy.  Happy didn’t make many friends in our group.  We tried desperately to get away from him.  However because ours was an after school club we were open to any student.  We were geeks and proud of it.  Happy was a geek-wannabe and an annoying one at that.

I can just picture Happy putting on a Foxbat costume and running for president.  Foxbat strikes me as just the annoying, petulant, pain-in-the-posterior, that your heroes would be sorry every time they have to save his butt.   Will your heroes save Foxbat as his own past comes back to haunt him during the campaign.  Would I do the same for Happy?  Would you?

Foxbat for President with enough plot hooks and adventures to run a whole campaign (no pun intended).  Foxbat’s minions are all statted out and ready to use with the Hero rules.  Foxbat for President sounds like fun, for your players, not necessarily their characters.

Want to learn more about Foxbat for President? Read on…

Drop by BlackWyrm Games and order Foxbat for President today!

June 19, 2009 Posted by | News, Reviews and Culture, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , | 7 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

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: D&D 3.5

DandD35The third edition of D&D is one that I missed completely.  D&D 3.5, however, is responsible for the renaissance of the RPG industry.  Granted that is my opinion, but WotC opened up the rules with the OGL (Open Game License for those who want to know).  Many D&D supplements were produced by third party companies.  Many non-D&D games were also produced using the OGL causing a resurgence of the industry.

What I like about 3.5: OGL, naturally.

What I don’t like about 3.5: Haven’t ever gotten the chance to play it.

Your turn:

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , | 6 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: Advanced D&D

add2phbAdvanced Dungeons and Dragons, heralded by many for the diverse settings and options for play.  Reviled by just as many for adding a complexity that redefined the word “crunch”.  THAC0 is reportedly a difficult mechanic to master.

However AD&D has some of the more fascinating scenarios ever developed for the game.  Do you want to add Genies and an Arabian feel to your game? Run an Al-Qadim setting.  Space Travel? Spell Jammer.  Ghosts? Ghostwalk.  Do you want to actually play a Dragon? make sure you’ve got a copy of Council of Wyrms.

This is the version of the game that PIT#1 started playing when she was invited to an RPG group outside the home by her friends.  After gaming with her friends and new D&D for awhile, she invited Daddy to come along.  Bill, our DM, shares my sense of humor.  We’re having a ball.

My Favorite memory from AD&D: Our DM had planned out this extended campaign.  He cackled with glee as he described the opening scenario.  Every time we  encountered a monster our dice rolls went badly.  Suddenly PIT #3 comes up with an INSPIRED piece of RP.  Our DM looked at my 10-year old son with disbelief on his face and asked him to roll percentiles.  PIT #3 beat the roll and our DM’s disbelief suddenly shifted to a “now-what-do-I-do?” expression.  PIT #3 gained mega XP and high fives from the rest of the party’s players.  Suddenly PIT#1’s tag-along little brother was an accepted part of the group.

What I like best about AD&D: Gnomes, I can get the books cheap on Ebay.  My kids enjoy playing this version and we have a wonderful DM.

What do I dislike about AD&D: THAC0 ’nuff said.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: Original D&D

dd-bboxMy recent post asking the question of why do we have D&D edition wars erupting across the blogsphere garnered quite a few responses.  The responses were passionate and everyone has their own preferences.  I read quite a bit of love and quite a bit of dislike for each edition of D&D.

I want to explore this just a little bit more.  What do you like about the editions.  What do you not like about the edition in question.  Do you have a memory that just stands out and demands to be shared?

Each edition has its good points and its bad points.  Too forestall a free form flaming rant, I’m going to section this article off into four parts one for each edition.  Let me know what you think without inducing a flame war.

Dungeons & Dragons, the original, affectionately known as the Red Box edition.  The grandaddy of all RPGs, this game is most responsible for the state of our hobby today.  Would we even be here blogging about our hobby without this game? probably.

What do I like about OD&D?
The combination of Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia provide a High Fantasy setting for your gaming fun.

What do I not like about OD&D?
Some of the artwork fed right into alarmist crusades against the game.  Yes, it seems tame by today’s standards but in the early 80’s some of the states of semi-dressed that the females wear depicted in was positively scandalous.

My main memory about this game was the fact that I began playing RPGs during the height of the “Devil’s Game” scare in the early 80’s.  When I did play this version it was in Spanish class,  Sra. Machacao let us play as long as we played the entire game in Spanish.  To please my parents, I stopped playing D&D and as a result I left the hobby for quite a long time.

dd-boxYour turn

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , | 18 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: Why?

I’ve been sitting here reading through various blogs, forums, tweets about why people hate D&D version (X).  Twitter yesterday even had folks espousing their hatred of 5th edition and it hasn’t even come out yet.  I’ve read why folks hate and love every edition of D&D.

I understand that 4e “emphasizes battle over role play” and that seems to be why folks both love and hate it.  My Sunday afternoon gaming group is currently running AD&D and we happen to love playing with those rules.

I will admit to being the type of person of dislikes change for change’s sake.  I don’t upgrade my software if the current version works fine.  I’ve had the same cell-phone for 3 years.  I’ll drive my car until it doesn’t run anymore.  However I doubt that’s the reason for all the love/hate written up on the net.

I played D&D and AD&D in high school and gave it up due to the “Devil’s Game” scare of the mid 80’s.  It was a move designed to make Mom and Dad happy.  It wasn’t much of a sacrifice as I preferred Car Wars and James Bond.  I lost interest in RPGs during my college years.  I missed 3e completely.

My resurgence in interest of RPG came about because my kids were finally old enough to find the hobby on their own.  We’ve played 4e and aside from the interminable time in takes to resolve combat, we didn’t have any problems with it.  I even bought the core books at World D&D day.

My question to you is what is your favorite edition of D&D and why?  If you dislike a version, why?

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , | 24 Comments

I got the Monster Manual 2 and I’m not going away…..

MM2Due to lots of graduation stuff going on with PIT#1, I’ve been a little lax with my updates.  Today I picked up my copy of Monster Manual 2.  As I’ll be missing World D&D day due to senior open houses, I’m hoping to get a review done for next week.

I’ve got a few GitUo articles in the works.  I’ve also got some movie reviews that need a polish.

PIT #1’s graduation and the new job have seriously eaten into my free time.  I promise to get back to regular posts as soon as I can.

Hmmm now if there’s only some way I could sic the Demogorgon from the front cover on certian parties in meatspace.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , | 1 Comment