Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fetch Lands Reprinted in Khans of Tarkir

That's right, folks... the moment many of us have been awaiting for years... the Onslaught fetch lands are back! When Magic 2015 revealed the enemy colored pain lands from Apocalypse, I assumed that Khans of Tarkir would probably include their allied color counterparts. It has been a long time since I've been this happy I was wrong.

Luckily, I held on to most of my copies from back in the day, so the only ones I'll have to track down will be copies of Polluted Delta. I don't have Flooded Strands either, but let's be real... the likelihood that I will be playing blue/white is so low that it just isn't worth the investment.

Interestingly enough, since these lands are coming back in a block that focuses on the enemy three-color combos (where only one of the three pairs is allied), people probably won't overload their mana bases with fetch lands in standard. However, it wouldn't surprise me if a large number of people just jam Jund or Esper despite new cards that support other combinations.

I absolutely love it when they reprint lands that I have held onto over the years, because the cards I need to chase down in a new set are "real" cards rather than lands. It stretches my budget less, and makes it more likely that I'll play standard in the first few weeks of the new standard.

Personally, I'm most likely to go with either the Temur (green-red-blue) or Abzan (green-black-white)... and in each of these color combinations I already have the lands I need.

Speaking of new cards, Rattleclaw Mystic looks pretty solid. I am always excited to see mana creatures that can assume a beatdown role on turns I don't need the mana. A Noble Hierarch reprint would be better, but I'm not complaining.

As much as I love the Ravnica sets, I can't wait for this rotation. Keep the spoilers coming!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Link Dump 8/29/14

Someday, when I have munchkins running around the house, they'll be curious about dad's weird games. Dagger for Kids might be the perfect introductory product for them.

While I'm at it, I might grab Roleplaying With Kids for some good advice on the venture as well.

This image is really "getting me" as far as inspiration goes. It reminds me of great swamp art from Magic: The Gathering, but it also makes me think of the swamp with all the dead bodies in Lord of the Rings... although I can't remember the name and I'm too lazy to look it up.

This kickstarter is one that I would have liked to see funded, but it didn't make it. I think they were a little ambitious with their timeline, especially considering the seven day period they ran the project. If they had run it a full thirty days and gained some momentum, I think they would have made it. My fingers are crossed that they'll try again.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Azandir Campaign Log #4

Characters:
Fash - Whisper Gnome Fighter-Rogue (Stetson)
Snapdragon - Kender Wizard-Alchemist (Jammie)
Telamar - Half-Drow Ranger-Cleric (Me)
Fjury - Human Fighter-Paladin (Jake)
Master Meatbeard - Human Fighter-Rogue (James)
Weary from the fight with the strange drow, we continued through the forest and on into an open plain. Not far down the road, we approached a manor. We approached, hoping the place would be a safe haven after our danger-filled day of travel.

The area was quiet as we approached, and it didn't take long to realize that the place was magically warded. Nobody responded when I knocked on the door, and the kender trying the doorknob didn't help either. What's worse, the gnome tried to pick the lock and got electrified for his efforts. The pirate threw a sword at one of the windows and was nearly beheaded as it bounced off and rebounded in his direction.

After all our efforts failed, and just as I was about to study all of the place's magic auras, a masked woman swung open the door and hurried us in. She asked what we wanted, and I tried to explain why we were there before the kender started talking. None of us would ever have gotten a word in if she got started.

When I mentioned Zanben, the masked lady summoned guards into the room, and we found ourselves surrounded. Once we convinced them that we meant Zanben no harm, they relaxed some and explained that Zanben was not there, but that they knew how to find him. Unfortunately, once we found him we would have to rescue him from the strange drow we had encountered on the road.

They offered us a place to stay the night, and even offered us the use of some healing potions so the warriors among us could fully recover. I declined the potions, as Vhaeraun's healing was all that I required, and spent the evening training my wolf companion Abban.

The next morning, we ate rocks. At least, we were told that the food had been transmuted from gemstones mined beneath the manor. I had never eaten gemstones before in any form, but I suppose if the svirfneblin can stomach it, I should be able to as well. It may have been the richest meal I've ever had, and the taste wasn't altogether unpleasant either.

After breakfast, we set out for Murinmoor, the city where Zanben was thought to be imprisoned. We would need to sneak inside somehow and find the masked woman's contact at the Dragon's Keep Inn. She couldn't tell us his name, but said that we would know him.

Our travel was far from uneventful, however, with giant wasps and swarms of wasps attacking us in the forest. The warriors' weapons proved useless against the swarms, and they relied on the dark fires of Vhaeraun to save the day. Of course, the kender's alchemy bombs helped a little as well, and the pirate was crazy enough to blow burning lamp oil out of his mouth at the swarms. Their tactics are unorthodox and far from elegant, but it is hard not to respect the tenacity of this band.

The next day brought with it a chilly fog in the early hours of the day, and it was difficult to see anything more than a stride or two away. We kept traveling anyway, though, bunched together to make sure nobody left the group and got lost in the mist. When the fog finally cleared, we could see the gleaming white walls of a city ahead of us and an army waiting outside the main gate.

As we approached, we realized that the army consisted of hundreds of zombies shambling around in a mob. They seemed to block the most obvious way of proceeding, and walking around the city in search of another gate seemed like an incredible waste of time. I got close enough to lure a dozen or so of the zombies away from the main group, with the idea that perhaps we could destroy the lot of them as long as we kept the whole mob from attacking us together.

My plan was foiled when riders appeared over the hill from where we had just come, kicking up dust as they approached the city. I tried to signal one of the riders at the front of the group, but he drew his sword and pointed in my direction. I couldn't tell if he was pointing at me or at the city in general, but when it became apparent that this was only a scout for a larger force, I knew I would need to wait for a more opportune time to strike. We headed toward a moat-like river that flowed past (through?) the city, and hurried toward the wall.

Where the water met the wall, a pipe large enough for men to walk through was trickling water from fifteen feet overhead. We clambered up into it, finding what could be both an entrance to the city and an escape from the battle about to commence outside.

-Telamar of the Veldrin Velve-

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Goings-on at Outsyder Gaming

This humble little blog was chugging along pretty steadily straight through the spring and summer, with posts on every single weekday and occasionally on Saturdays. Even though some of those only served to highlight someone else's awesomeness rather than share some of my own, I liked being on a schedule and having content almost every day.
  • On Mondays, I've been trying to share some description of a game I played in the previous week, which usually meant a campaign log for one of my group's Pathfinder games. Honestly, this is more for my group than for a broader Internet audience, but they're fun to write and they help me remember important stuff. 
  • On Fridays, I post a bunch of links to stuff I stumbled across that I thought was awesome during the week. It's simple, but it works.
  • Between the game recap and the link dump, I try to write two "real" posts, as well as highlight a product that I'm excited about (usually on Kickstarter).
It's August now, though, and I'm a school counselor in real life. That means things just got significantly busier for me. I've missed a few posts in the last week or two, but I can deal with that. I should be posting Azandir Campaign Log #4 today, but I'm not. Last week's Monday post was riddled with typos and careless errors, and that I can't deal with. I need to take a step back from the content schedule I've maintained for the better part of 2014. I prefer to post daily, but if the quality of those posts suffers because I don't have the time to write well (or proofread), it just isn't worth it.

I'll probably be more inconsistent in the coming weeks, but I want to make sure that when I do post, it isn't just random filler. Hopefully things will settle down in the next few weeks and I'll settle into a decent routine again. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Technology Guide Added to the Pathfinder Reference Document

Buy it here. Currently $2 cheaper than retail.
I always get excited when content is added to the Pathfinder Reference Document... or released as OGL material in any capacity, really. This particular update is even better because I've been dreaming up a science fiction setting (Alpha Enigma), and this gives even more material to use that I can incorporate in an official capacity if I ever choose to publish my work.

Here's a quick rundown of Pathfinder Reference Document changes...

  • The format of the PRD website was updated, and I really like the new version. It's kind of bland looking compared to the old setup, but it's more user friendly as well.
  • New skills, including new crafting rules
  • New feats and archetypes for character creation (although there are only a handful of archetypes, one each for the fighter, cleric, rogue, barbarian, and gunslinger).
  • The Technomancer, a prestige class for arcane casters who want to focus on manipulating technology. (Curiously, the save progression seems to match 3.5 prestige classes rather than the usual Pathfinder progression... maybe something Paizo folks should fix. I doubt it was done that way intentionally.)
  • New spells... and I think every class is represented, even the druid (correct me if I'm wrong, please)
  • Plenty of new equipment, including cybertech and pharmaceuticals
  • A section on hazards, which includes glitches, radiation, traps, skymetal, and other rules
  • Artificial intelligences
  • Artifacts (including powered armor!)
I've only skimmed so far, but so far I like what I see.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kickstarter: FitXP

I am no fitness buff by any stretch of the imagination. As I cruise into my early thirties, I find myself vacillating between being content with my middle-age self, and longing for the glory days of playing ball for more than thirty minutes without panting. To what do I owe my declining fitness level? I blame it on days that don't have enough hours in them. My hectic work schedule often makes me choose between playing intellectual games (like RPGs) and staying physically fit. The older I get, the easier it is to choose the more sedentary option.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto FitXP, a roleplaying game that claims it will help me get back into shape by turning my workouts into feats of dragon slaying and other heroic deeds. It might be completely bogus, but there's a chance this is pure genius... and it's a chance that might be worth taking.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Azandir Campaign Log #3

I'm trying something a little different with this particular campaign log... turning it into an actual log of what happened from Telamar's point of view.

Characters:
  • Fash - Whisper Gnome Fighter-Rogue (Stetson)
  • Kid Curry - Halfling Fighter-Rogue (Jake)
  • Snapdragon - Kender Wizard-Alchemist (Jammie)
  • Telamar - Half-Drow Ranger-Cleric (Me)
  • Fjury - Human Fighter-Paladin (Jake)
  • Master Meatbeard - Human Fighter-Rogue (James)
We had been out of the city for only a few days, and things already felt safer, even with the wolves harassing us as we made our way through the canyons. We made camp just before setting out on a road through a vast plain... even more open sky than I grew accustomed to when I roamed the Dalelands, but still bearable. At some point during the night, the halfling disappeared. Nobody seemed too attached to her, though. Even the kender seemed more concerned about the diamond that she "found" than the fact that the halfling was missing.

Dog, on the other hand, is taking to the group quite well. He seems to like the kender most, but she feeds him constantly, and I wonder if he'll take a bite of her hand if she's ever short on food when he's hungry. We'll see if this surface wolf is strong enough to survive if I ever make it home to my people.

The next morning, we traveled several hours on the road on the trail of this Zanben Hawklight that we're supposed to be tracking down. I wish I knew who he was... if he can stand against those creatures falling from the sky in Celestia, he must be a powerful man. Walking into his home without knowledge of who he is or what he's capable of makes me nervous.

We eventually saw smoke in the distance, several columns rising into the sky. We hurried forward to investigate, but I encouraged the gnome to scout it out. I was sure he wouldn't be spotted. He's so stealthy he makes me uncomfortable, sometimes hiding behind me when I'm not paying attention. I've seen more than one drow fall to betrayal, and if that is ever to be my fate, I don't want the embarrassment of knowing the traitor could barely reach high enough to stab me in the back. The more he scouts ahead, the more comfortable I'll be.

The gnome stumbled onto a battle when he entered the town, an odd pair of humans surrounded by what looked like undead drow. One was some kind of holy warrior, but devoted to a god I'd never heard of. The other looked like a pirate, but looked much more outlandish than those I've heard about roaming the Sword Coast. He even had a sword-leg instead of a peg-leg, which actually sounds like something a drow would do if he survived losing a limb. Such resilience is respectable, even from a human.


Between the five of us, we put them down pretty quickly. The town itself looked to have been destroyed a day or more before, as the fires had mostly burnt themselves out, and what fruits were still there in the market were beginning to rot in the heat of the sun. The two humans mentioned something about vanquishing evil, and the holy warrior even suggested traveling on to Celestia to destroy the evil falling from the sky. I managed to convince him that finding Zanben was the key to vanquishing that evil, not charging headlong into an unwinnable fight, and he saw at least some truth in that... although I wonder if he would have agreed if I had not been wearing the guise of a surface elf.

A group of five now, we continued on the road. Later in the day we came to an inn called the Knave's Pipe. Two female warriors (an elf and a half-orc) intercepted us as we approached, asking us who we were and whether or not we had seen any undead. Luckily, the kender told our story in such a way that either charmed them enough or annoyed them enough to ask no further questions, and they ushered us in.

Inside the old run down inn, we encountered other adventuring types. The most interesting was the bartender, who tried to speak to me in drow sign language. She must have had acute senses to have seen through my hat of disguise, but the illusion is never perfect. Perhaps I said something that tipped my hand...

Regardless, the bartender described the next leg of our journey to find Zanben Hawklight. She described a fork in the road a half day's travel ahead, where we would need to take the path to the right and enter a forest. After taking the time to cast some restorative magic on my newfound companions, we rested for the night on beds paid for by Snapdragon.

The next day, I was glad to take the road into the forest, where we followed a winding trail through the trees. If I'm going to be on the surface, the confines of a thick forest suit me much better than the open plains. We paused when we heard voices ahead, and crept up to investigate. They were speaking in elvish, but some archaic dialect that was tough for any of us to understand. It sounded like they were talking about standing guard, which puzzled me. On such a remote forest trail with nothing in sight to guard, something told me they knew we were coming. I'll need to be more vigilant about covering our tracks so we're tougher to follow.

There were five of them in a clearing not too far away, and these looked like living versions of the drow we fought back in the burning village. Drow is probably the wrong word, but since these were elves with skin not much different from my father's, I'm using it for now. The battle was brutal, as both humans kept our foes' attention away from us as rained bolts and bombs and darkfire onto them. I thought these humans might fall in short order to trained drow, but their unorthodox fighting styles (throwing swords, swinging through trees, etc.) proved surprisingly effective.


I think the wolf has earned the privilege of a name. He stood by my side and guarded me even when my companions were in danger, proof that he is loyal. Instead of Dog, I believe I'll call him Abban (the drow word for "not-an-enemy" that is often mistakenly translated as "ally"). I'm still leery of the rest of my companions, particularly that gnome, but it makes sense to keep them around as long as we have common enemies.

Now we look for a place to rest, hoping that tomorrow we find this Zanben Hawklight, and that he has some answers.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Allowing Everything While Limiting Resources

I've been thinking lately about character building for D20 campaigns that are ripe with supplements usage. If you've read much here before, you probably already know that I'm a huge fan of splatbooks. I have never limited my players' options when it came to supplemental material, and I like that my players have the opportunity to pull from virtually any resource out there for their characters.

That said, it can be difficult to try to manage such a campaign as characters grow to higher levels. In the beginning, the odd feat here or there is easy to keep up with. However, once the characters have developed to the point that they all have a half-dozen feats, which could have been cherry picked from a half-dozen different supplements, trying to keep up can be a daunting task.

I'm a character optimizer at heart, so my issue is not with the optimization piece. I have no problem optimizing monsters, nor do I feel guilty when I spot a weakness that an optimizer missed and take advantage of it to give them a hard time. Rather, it's the fact that having so many different feats/abilities/spells from so many different sources slows the game down. I hate it when I have to stop the game to say, "Wait, you're doing what?" or "How do those to abilities work together?"

In our current campaign, I'm going to keep rolling just the way it is. There's no way I would take back any of the freedom that I allowed in character creation. However, in future campaigns, I think I have a solution. Instead of, "Feel free to use any official supplements," I think the new rule will be something like this instead:
Any official supplements are usable, but each character is limited to the Player's Handbook, the main campaign setting book, and two additional supplements.
This allows players the freedom to build as they choose, perhaps picking a race splatbook plus a class splatbook, or an environment-focused splatbook (like Frostburn) plus a campaign setting splatbook... or some other combination that fits the character. Players won't be limited at all in the "big picture" choices, like a key prestige class or feat chain that defines the character. However, once they make the big decisions, they have a short list for the minor ones... and with any luck, some of the players' choices will overlap, and the GM won't have to be familiar with 7,943 books in order for things to run smoothly. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sci-Fi Campaign Brainstorming Part II

Last week, I started toying with the idea of creating a science fiction campaign setting. I specified some basic themes that I wanted to push, listed a few sources of inspiration, and asked advice on a name. Here's a quick summary of where we stand so far:
  • Game System is D20 - I'll start with Pathfinder classes and add feats, skills, and other tweaks from D20 Modern/Future
  • Firefly is a strong inspiration for the heroes and their role
  • Setting will have influences from many established sci-fi worlds
  • After quite a few suggestions, the name of the setting is still up in the air. The name of the solar system where the campaign begins will be called Alpha Enigma. The name is partly in homage to the conventional naming of solar systems and partly because its location in relation to Earth is a complete mystery. I might adopt this as the name of the campaign setting itself.
Over the last week, I've had more time to think about this little project, and the setting is starting to take some shape in my mind. A few more tidbits.

Galactic Races
  • Two alien races are the major movers and shakers in the solar system aside from humans. I'll come up with names for them at some point, but for now we'll just go by what the humans call them...
    • The first is a race of economic imperialists. They have a vast "empire," but only push into new worlds enough to exert control through trade. They have much more advanced technology than other races but refuse to share - making them the only race in Alpha Enigma with the ability to travel to other solar systems. Humans call them "space elves." Influences: British Empire, Naruni Enterprises, 40K Eldar
    • The second is a very warlike people who show glimpses of honor in their dealings with other races. They often serve as mercenaries to anyone strong enough and/or rich enough to maintain their respect. Humans sometimes call them "space orcs," a term they have come to see as a racial slur, and they react accordingly. Influences: 40K Orks, Krogan, Klingons
    • Humans are relative newcomers, the descendants of a research vessel that tinkered with some ancient alien technology. They got hurtled some unknown distance from home, and couldn't figure out how to get back. Without an available planet, they have colonized the asteroid belt. Influences: Star Trek Voyager, Stargate Universe
    • Many other races exist, but are exceedingly rare in Alpha Enigma. When they are encountered, it is usually a small group of merchants at the trading post.
    • There will also be a fourth "enemy" race that threatens all three, but I haven't decided where I'll run with that idea yet.
Race Relations
  • Humans and Orcs
    • Humans initially wanted to settle the orc planet, but the orcs squashed that idea quickly. Many humans resent the orcs for relegating them to the asteroid belt, but they don't have the economic, political, or military might to do anything about it. The orcs see humans as pests to be swatted when they get too annoying, but they haven't been given reason to eradicate them (even though they could).
  • Orcs and Elves
    • The arrival of the elves in Alpha Enigma sparked a short war, but the orcs were severely outgunned. The orcs were forced to sign an unfavorable treaty that has left them resentful and angry (similar to the Treaty of Versailles, but without the requirement to disarm their military). The elves see the orcs as brutes living on a brutal world. That brutal world is one that they wouldn't want for themselves, but it just so happens to be rich in several natural resources that they prize, and they don't have any problem letting the orcs do all the labor as long as they're making a killing off of the agreement.
  • Humans and Elves
    • The elves saw the arrival of humans in Alpha Enigma as an opportunity. Relations with the orcs were strained, and the desperate humans could serve as middle-men. The elves were happy to give the humans just enough resources to survive and be useful, but not enough to flourish. The humans resent the fact that the elves are so stingy about what knowledge and technology they are willing to share, and at least partially blame their situation on the elves' unwillingness to help them get back home. However, the elves are in many ways their lifeline, and they have to tread lightly.
Locations of Interest
  • An elf colony on a terraformed moon orbiting a remote gas giant.
  • A post-apocalyptic world that was once inhabited by an advanced race (probably the one that created the technology the humans stumbled upon before they arrived here), but that is now mostly overrun by orcs.
  • An asteroid belt that is sparsely settled and mined by humans. They started moving to the asteroids when their population outgrew their home ship.
  • A trading post where the three races meet on (supposedly) neutral ground. This will likely be the starting point for the campaign.

Even though some of these ideas are starting to line up together, I'm still just brainstorming here. Any thoughts, suggestions, and comments are always welcome!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kickstarter: HyGround 3D Terrain Tiles

If you liked the look of Heroscape, you might just fall in love with this little gem of a Kickstarter:


Even though these tiles create a scene that is a little too cartoon-y for my taste, I totally understand the appeal and this looks like a quality product.


Go on... check it out over on their page.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Eldar vs. Orks 1500

Since we haven't played Pathfinder in two weeks, I've been itching to scratch my gaming fix. I did manage to get in a Magic tournament with Jund monsters last week, but I tried some different things with the list and ended up shooting myself in the foot with a 2-2 record - nothing to write home about. But then I got the chance to play Warhammer 40K this weekend for the first time in years and it was just as awesome as I remember it...

Jeremiah's Orks (1500 points)

HQ
Warboss (90)
Power Klaw, 'Eavy Armor

Weirdboy (85)
Warphead

Elite
10 Nobz (250)
'Eavy Armor

10 Nobz (250)
'Eavy Armor

Troops
25 Boyz (160)
2 Big Shootas

20 Boyz (130)
2 Big Shootas

20 Boyz (130)
2 Big Shootas

Fast Attack
3 Deffkoptas (135)
Twin-linked Rokkit Launchas

3 Deffkoptas (135)
Twin-linked Rokkit Launchas

3 Deffkoptas (135)
Twin-linked Rokkit Launchas


My Eldar (1500)

HQ
Farseer (120)
Doom, Guide, Spirit Stones

Farseer (115)
Fortune, Jetbike, Warlocks

6 Warlocks (320)
Jetbikes, 1x Enhance, 1x Embolden, 4x Destructor

Elite
6 Fire Dragons (116)
Exarch, Firepike

Troops
10 Guardian Defenders (95)
Scatter Laser

10 Storm Guardians (122)
2 Flamers, Warlock, Embolden

10 Dire Avengers (152)
Exarch, Extra Shuriken Catapult, Bladestorm, Wave Serpent

Wave Serpent (115)
Twin-Linked Scatter Lasers

Heavy
Falcon (180)
Eldar Missile Launcher, Holo-Fields, Spirit Stones

Wraithlord (155)
Brightlance, Eldar Missile Launcher

Notes: Jeremiah's army is composed almost entirely of Assault on Black Reach orks, which means he doesn't have all the options that would normally be available to him if the army had been built up traditionally. This means that his biggest weakness (anti-tank) is even more pronounced than it would be for a normal ork army. Because of this, I switched my usual wave serpent spam to a more infantry-based list with a wraithlord.

Setup

Since we haven't pulled 40K models out of the closet in years, we're still running 5th edition rules. The game was played on the Realm of Battle board, with most of our terrain built from Hexagon Construction Sets by Pegasus Hobbies. Eldar deployed first.

Turn 1

The first turn was rather uneventful, with the orks charging across the field and the eldar taking as many long range shots as possible to thin the horde.

Turn 2

The second turn was pretty much a repeat of the first, although the deffkoptas started getting some important shots in, and managed to shake the falcon for a turn.

Turn 3

While the horde continued advancing, the deffkoptas became the primary target for the eldar, as they destroyed weapons on both the falcon and wave serpent. Several deffkoptas went down to heavy weapons fire from the guardians and the wraithlord. The first assault of the game showcased the strength of the orks in the assault phase, easily wiping out the squad of storm guardians.
Jeremiah jumped in the photo. I warned him that he'd be online!

Turn 4

Turn four saw the orks finally come into their own in the assault phase. They assaulted two vehicles, not destroying either, but continuing to impede them, and poured more boyz into the assault with the farseer's jetbike squadron. Unfortunately for the orks, the warlock jetbikes held their own against both groups of boyz.

Turn 5

The last turn was cut short when our wives came  home from shopping and were ready for dinner, but the orks seemed to be running out of steam. In kill points, the eldar were ahead 3-2, so we didn't finish the game after dinner.

I'm still calling this one a win.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Link Dump 8/8/2014

If you're into post apocalyptic scenarios and want to know what Seattle might look like after the fall of humanity, you should definitely check out the Seattle Doomsday Map by Tony Dowler. 

If you like the Witchlight Fens, you might find this image inspirational... perhaps something to show your players as they explore.

DMDavid shared his favorite D&D battle maps. If nothing else, it's a good exercise in figuring out which products I need to order online. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Palladium Books Paper Miniatures

Palladium Books is releasing paper miniatures for the Palladium Fantasy RPG. You can download a free sample here. They're not half bad, if you ask me. In fact, I like them a lot. It's definitely worth downloading the free gladiators. I can't figure out, though, why I would want to purchase the actual product. 

I see that Volume One is PC classes, and Volume Two is monsters. Volume Three and Volume Four will be more PC classes and undead respectively. There's even a great horned dragon coming soon. All that's cool and all, but...

There are approximately a billion competing fantasy miniatures on the market already, and any of them could be used for a Palladium Fantasy campaign. The Palladium Fantasy RPG is generic enough that miniatures from just about any other line of fantasy miniatures could be used instead. The only thing I can think of that might be difficult to emulate with another line would be the abundance of wolfen... but I'm sure there's a suitable replacement for them out there somewhere. In other words, while this is an interesting product, it isn't one that the world needs. 

Will Rifts paper miniatures be following soon? 

Rifts miniatures, on the other hand? Rifts imagery isn't so generic, the pewter Rifts miniatures are just okay, and Rifts characters aren't always easy to duplicate with miniatures from other lines. Trust me, I've tried. Palladium Books also tends to be pretty aggressive when it comes to protecting their intellectual property, so I doubt anyone could get away with doing anything too Rifts-like without receiving cease and desist letters from Palladium's legal folks. I'm not saying Palladium is wrong for protecting their IPs. I'm just highlighting the fact that they would seem to have the market cornered with Rifts miniatures but didn't go that direction. Fantasy, though...

I understand that there's an argument for focusing on fantasy because fantasy RPGs have a reputation for selling better than science fiction, but it seems like Rifts is the cash cow for Palladium, so why take the fantasy route and have to compete with an already flooded market? Hoping people who play other RPGs will use Palladium Fantasy miniatures in their D&D campaigns? I just don't get it.

Palladium Fantasy paper miniatures are an interesting idea... but let's see some dead boys, a glitter boy, and maybe some Splugorth slave races. Then I'll sink some money into Palladium paper miniatures.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Brainstorming for a New D20 Sci-Fi Campaign Setting

We've been playing Pathfinder regularly since March, so I've had a steady stream of fantasy in my gaming, but once in a while I get the science fiction bug. My gaming time is limited, so when I have a campaign running, I typically hyper-focus on it so that I'm prepared each week... but as much as I love dragons and wizards (and drow), I still feel like I'm missing out on aliens, giant robots, and laser guns.

This month, Andrew is taking over the GMing duties while I focus on the start of the new school year, and that means I won't be preparing for Pathfinder sessions each week. While I'll have much less time on my hands, what time I do have I'll be able to spend a little more freely. Part of it I'll still be using to refocus our Pathfinder campaign, but I've got some sci-fi adventure ideas that I want to play around with as well.

Here's a little bit of my initial brainstorming...
  • I want to build my own campaign setting rather than playing in someone else's.
    • I want to run a D20 system game (mainly because I know it well and I don't want to take the time to learn something new), but I don't want D20 Modern's ridiculously boring base classes.
    • Creating my own player's handbook sounds like too much work, but might be worth it... and with a lot of OGL content, the work has already been done.
    • I want this to be grittier than my old Spectrum Shock setting, and I need a name that doesn't suck.
  • Inspiration? Fallout, Phase World, Mass Effect, Firefly, Dragonstar, Starcraft, Warhammer 40K
  • What do the heroes do? In Firefly-style, the heroes are smugglers/rebels/outlaws who aren't always on the right side of the law.
  • What is the conflict? Several factions compete for resources, plus there will be one or more inhuman "force of nature" can't-be-bargained-with enemies (like the Zerg, Tyrannids, Reavers, or Reapers). Amid all this, the heroes just need to complete the next job and make sure that at the end of the day, they're still flying.
  • Where is the action? I want to start very small and branch out from there, only creating what I need.
    • Maybe the group is stranded in a war-ravaged (post-apocalyptic?) solar system so only a few locations need to be detailed? 
    • Or maybe a dimensional hub like Phase World or Sigil so that characters can travel all over the place but always return to a central location?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kickstarter: Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King's Quest

Mantic Games has been impressing me with their work for quite some time now, and this product looks to be no different. It reminds me of the old Hero Quest game, and I've got a good feeling that it won't disappoint.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Campaign Planning and Reflection

There often comes a time in a campaign when you wonder if you've lost focus. Maybe there has been some turnover in your player base, or some characters have died/retired and been replaced. Maybe none of the characters in the campaign were even in it at 1st level. In any case, if you've come to the realization (as I have) that your campaign is lacking in focus, it might be time to regain some semblance of direction. The best way to do this is through reflection. Take an honest look at the goals you had when you started, how close you are to achieving them, and what your next steps should be. Here's some reflection on our current campaign...

Campaign Theme

  • Pre-Campaign: When I first advertised the campaign, I made it clear that the Underdark was going to play a major role. Whether the characters spend a great deal of time in the Underdark or the Underdark comes to them, players should expect it to matter. 
  • Currently: We started out with a great deal of time on the surface, but in the last four or five sessions, the majority of the action has taken place in the Underdark.
  • Future: I think the theme is pretty clear in play. The underdark is where the important stuff is happening... not that there isn't anything going on anywhere else, but the stuff that's most likely to have a major impact on the region the characters currently inhabit is happening underground - right on theme. 

Plot Arc

  • Pre-Campaign: My original plan was for the characters to run through a couple of Underdark-themed published adventures (or at least parts of them), and eventually discover that the drow are planning to invade the surface world. Along the way, I would figure out how to mold the villains' goals in such a way that each character's backstory would be important at some stage in the campaign.
  • Currently: The characters have seen hints about the coming invasion (the seemingly mad ramblings of an old dwarven oracle, an intercepted message between drow and kuo-toa that confirms their alliance, a drow in a yuan-ti lair trying to recruit allies, etc). They might not realize how serious the threat is, but they at least know it's a possibility. 
  • Future: I haven't been as diligent about getting the characters' backstories involved, and I think that's a major failure on my part. When there weren't obvious connections between characters and my villains, I just decided to put off those backstories until later, which doesn't do justice to the players who took the time to write them. If the campaign is to continue successfully, I think I need to make a better effort to appeal to the motivations of the characters themselves, rather than just dangling gold in front of them and hoping they have enough mercenary tendencies to go for it. 
Campaign Climax
  • Pre-Campaign: I envisioned a long Underdark expedition in which the players tracked down the leader of the drow invasion and defeated him/her... an action that might not stop the invasion altogether, but that would certainly put a damper on the drow's plans. 
  • Currently: I don't think what I envisioned really fits the play style of my group. That is to be expected, though, since I didn't know who my players would be when I first started brainstorming for the campaign. 
  • Future: Fortunately, their play style does not preclude a showdown with the villain closer to (or on) the surface. My villains can continue their work, and I don't need to change the campaign idea itself... I just need to adapt to what the players are looking for in a game, and bring my villain to them.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Link Dump 8/1/2014

If you've ever been a part of (or had to witness) one of those awful arguments that starts with, "Your character wouldn't do that," then Death to Alignment! might be for you.

Jund Monsters is a ton of fun to play. I placed 5th in a Maxpoint Silver tournament with it a few weeks back, and my decklist is here. It has been a while since I've played anything more competitive than FNM, so it was nice to finish well after a break.

Ever considered making a D&D battle map out of a Soduko board game? Yeah, me neither... but this is still a pretty cool little project.

If you've been looking for that perfect miniature, I would suggest purchasing it from Noble Knight Games. Their search function, however, can't compete with this online database of D&D Miniatures. 
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