Mass Effect 3 Live-Action TV Trailer

This aired tonight on Walking Dead, and I just have to share...

Words cannot express how excited I am about this game...

NPC Spotlight (Rifts): Myra, Psychic Investigator

The woman is short and stout, with pale skin, black hair, and black lipstick. She's wearing a set of huntsman armor dyed black, but despite her somber appearance, she also wears a wide grin. She has the sometimes disconcerting habit of making people feel as if she's looking right into their souls, but she doesn't do it on purpose. She just chalks it up to being a psychic and being naturally curious.

Name: Myra
Alignment: Unprincipled
Attributes: I.Q.: 9 M.E.: 15 M.A.: 17 P.S.: 11 P.P.: 10 P.E.: 11 P.B.: 12 Spd. 13
Hp: 20 S.D.C: 22
Size: 5'4", roughly 120 lbs
Age: 23  Race: Human
P.P.E.: 12
Experience level: 3rd level City Rat

Psionic Powers (major psychic): Commune with Spirits (6), Empathy (4), Presence Sense (4), See Aura (6), Sense Evil (2), Sense Magic (3) I.S.P.: 35

Combat Skills: Hand to Hand: Basic
Attacks Per Melee: Four
Bonuses: +3 perception, +2 parry, +2 dodge, +2 pull punch, +2 roll with impact

Skills of Note: Language: American 94%, Lore: Magic 45%, Lore: Demons & Monsters 45%
Weapon Proficiencies: WP Energy Pistol, WP Knife

Equipment of Note: Wilk's 227 pulse pistol, a vibro-knife, several silver daggers, and a suit of black huntsman armor

Note: Myra is an NPC in the Madcap Mercenaries campaign. For more info, click here
Another Note: I previously copied and pasted an older version of this character. Nothing major changed, but I did go back and fix the discrepancies.

Dugout News: Anniversary, Gauntlet, Trial by Fire

The Dugout is the new(ish) hobby shop in town, and I've been ranting about how great this store is since I first discovered them back in May of 2011. Just recently, The Dugout celebrated its one year anniversary, and Julie baked this cake for everybody hanging out at the shop this weekend:

Of course, by the time I got across the room to take a picture, the cake looked like this... I had to ask for a photo in order to share the real thing with everyone. In any case, I want to congratulate Tim on the success of The Dugout, and wish him more of the same in the future! And thanks to Julie for the cake!

New Competition
This year, The Dugout is running a big competition that will result in a draft for a box of Avacyn Restored in June. It's called The Gauntlet, and the final tournament is the Trial by Fire. Basically, players get points for playing in tournaments throughout the month, and those with the most points qualify for a tournament with a bigger prize in June. Here are the official rules, which are posted on the wall in the shop...

...and if that's too tough to read, you can view the text version by clicking here.

Any Standard: An Alternate Magic: The Gathering Constructed Format

I remember playing this format one time a long time ago at the Foul Line in Lincolnton, but I hadn't thought much about it until this weekend when alternative formats were being discussed at The Dugout. After briefly explaining the format to the crowd and narrowly losing the vote to the Two Headed Giant Pauper crowd, I said that I'd still explain the format so that it could be voted on again in the future. Before I forget, I want to get this out there...

Any Standard
Note: There's probably an official name for this out there somewhere, but I can't remember. It isn't the same as Build Your Own Standard. It sort of got the nickname of "Josh's Style" while it was being discussed today, but I'm not too crazy about my name being attached to it for any extended time. If you know the real name, please let me know in the comment section below.

This format is ideal for tournament organizers who want to mix things up, but who don't have a strong enough Legacy or Modern player base to make those tournaments successful. In this format, any deck that was once legal in Standard can be played, so the current Standard crowd can mix it up with older players who don't have all of the new cards.

For basic deck construction rules, I've pulled this from the Wizards of the Coast website:
Constructed decks must contain a minimum of sixty cards. There is no maximum deck size; however, you must be able to shuffle your deck with no assistance. If a player wishes to use a sideboard, it must contain exactly fifteen cards. 
With the exception of basic land cards, a player’s combined deck and sideboard may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title equivalent. All cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest are basic. (The fiveIce Age block snow-covered lands -- Snow-Covered Plains, Snow-Covered Island, Snow-Covered Swamp, Snow-Covered Mountain, and Snow-Covered Forest -- are also basic lands. Note that snow-covered lands are permitted only in formats that allow expansions from the Ice Age block to be used.)
In an Any Standard tournament, players may choose from any Standard (or Type II) format in the history of Magic: The Gathering. Want to play Tempest-era white weenie with tons of shadow creatures? You can. Want to play Astral Slide again? You can. Want to play Faeries again? You can. The list goes on and on.

Banned Cards
Any card that has ever been banned in Standard is also banned in Any Standard. Jace, The Mind Sculptor is out... so is Skullclamp... so is Tolarian Academy.

What's probably even more fun than Any Standard? Make Your Own Standard! I've never played it, but I stumbled across it looking for the name of this format. It looks like a ton of fun too, and it keeps the same new-player-friendly status because decks legal in the current Standard environment will also be legal. I'd suggest keeping the banned rule from Any Standard when playing Make Your Own Standard. A card that was banned at one point was too powerful for the mix of cards that just happened to be in the format at the same time... it would be even more problematic when the deck builder has more control over which cards are in the format!

Create Your Own Poster Sized RPG Maps

I've always wanted to create high quality poster maps of my campaign worlds. When I first started playing RPGs, that meant buying poster board and doing all of the artwork by hand. These days, there are a ton of other options, including digital art. I won't go into how to create excellent RPG maps in a digital medium, as it isn't my specialty and others explain it better (this is a good place to start).

However, what I will say is that when you're finished, sometimes those maps aren't as useful as they should be. Often, they're restricted to your computer screen. If you do print them, you usually end up printing them so small that you can't see the details, or you have to figure out how to get multiple pages of white paper to line up correctly. In other words, the results are either digital-only or a pain to put together.

My solution? Go over to Visit my store while you're there if you like, but make sure you pay close attention to the custom posters. That's where you'll find my solution to the giant RPG map problem. Upload that digital map that you just spent all that time on, and get it printed big enough to hang on the wall in your game room. Now your players can glance at the world map in the middle of play without having to pull up your campaign website.

D&D Reprints?

Okay, that pic is from Deities & Demigods,
which isn't getting a reprint. It's one of
my better attempts to make my AD&D
books look cooler, though.
Alright, so WotC is reprinting 1st Edition AD&D books. I've already got the old versions, but I got them when I was so young that I (very stupidly) used them like coloring books before I was old enough to realize that I would someday regret those horrid color pencil attempts at "improving" the artwork.

That's not what I'm here to talk about, though. I want to talk about the other products I want to see reprinted. Most of the ones I want to see reprinted are not from the 1st edition era, but I still think they deserve to see print again, especially if D&D Next makes using old material as easy as people are speculating.

Here's my list:

  • D1-D3 (Descent into the Depths of the Earth, Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and Vault of the Drow): I've never seen a copy of these in person, but I'd love to play through them. I'm a huge fan of the drow, and I would really enjoy getting to see what they were like in the earliest days (aside from the entry in Fiend Folio, which I once owned).
  • Poor Wizard's Almanac (all three volumes): At one point, I owned volume three and loved it. I've never gotten the chance to read the first two, though.
  • Drow of the Underdark (2nd Edition, 1991): This is one of my all-time favorite D&D accessories, and I still pull it off the shelf from time to time even though we haven't played 2nd Edition since the nineties. Needless to say, my copy is falling apart.
  • Night Below: An Underdark Campaign: I've never gotten to run this all the way through, and my copy of this super module is MIA. I'd love to get my hands on a copy that isn't beat to crap or insanely expensive.
Okay, I'm a little heavy on drow content here. What can I say? Maybe I'm just a sucker for red eyes...

Honestly, though, what I'd really like to see is a series of "Across the Editions" compilations. Give me a big thick book called "Dwarves Across the Editions" that includes all of the info from the various PHB's and splatbooks. Slap a cool pic on the cover and include a page or three about how the different editions of material can be incorporated in D&D Next (if that info isn't already in the DMG or something), and I'm in. I'd pay $50 or more for that... although I don't know if anybody else would.

Settlers of Catan

Played my first two games of this classic last night and had a blast... even though I got blown out the first game and had one of those disappointing "would have won if the player ahead of me hadn't won on her turn" experiences.

There seems to be a pretty big internet community of Settlers of Catan fans. I doubt I'll get too involved in it, though, especially from a blogging standpoint. Even though the games are never the same because of the variable board, I think the lack of personal customization would leave me running out of things to write about.

Still, it's an awesome game... Well worth the $40 investment...

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