Sunday, April 17, 2011

D&D 4E & Essentials

Now I know that the bulk of the good folk who skim my blog don't play D&D 4E. Regardless, after flipping through Heroes of Shadow at my local store it was weird to see a book that had character options laid out more like Essentials but without that tag on the book AND in the large hardcover format.
I'll be honest, my initial reaction was screw you WotC, you've now resolved to lying to your customer base by trying to sell an Essentials book to a non Essentials fan. I've picked up the Essentials Rules Compendium as it's the 4e rule set with all of the eratta. I haven't read anything from the Essentials DM Kit or Monsters Vault and am not sure how they might differ from the "standard" 4E DM Guides and Monster Manuals from a mechanical stand point.
Is the Essentials line really 4.5? Not really. I see it as Wizards trying to make roping in the new guy less intimidating and with "simplified" leveling up that I guess is more akin to 1st Ed(?). Unfortunately, it seems like the end result was mostly just another line in the sand to be drawn for many. Personally, I've only experienced Essentials at Wednesday Night Encounters. The folk who play it love it. I've enjoyed it when I do go out to play. What needs to happen is for Essentials to stop being viewed by the players as another game but as another way for Character Classes to advance when they level up. But from my personal experience, I've never seen or actually heard about any table that has a combination of players who've built their characters from the Players Handbooks AND the Essentials books. The guilty forces in my opinion? The mindset of the optimizer/power gamer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mouse Guard: Making The "Mundane" Terrifying

Oh look, it's raining. Meh oh well, just means it'll be depressing if I have to go outside. Well, to a mouse, that same rain drop is now the size of a basketball ball. Everyone has a concept of the dangers that are present in Mouse Guard because we simply take the things we know about "nature" and make it much much bigger. It makes for a solid foundation unlike the fantasy or fiction elements that fill our fantasy world. From a GM perspective, it's great to know that everyone at the table will probably know what I'm talking about since most of it is based on reality. This awareness came about as we talked about some of the over the top settings that have shown up in D&D and my friend Erin talking about how easy it is to just to do stuff in Mouse Guard whereas if presented an open sand box in Cartoon Action Hour she wasn't sure what all was available to her in the world of ________ (insert name of made up cartoon world).

It's The People At The Table That Keep Me Doing This

I'm sure most of us have gone through periods where you just don't care about the games you're running and prepping for that next session feels like doing homework for a school assignment. I've been in that mode since January. Happened to me in D&D after Christmas and that ended. I thought about just dropping Mouse Guard before it even started when it became so hard to schedule that first session. Fortunately for me, two of my friends' enthusiasm to play kept me from just scrapping the idea. We finally all sat down to play after over a month of rescheduling. I'll be honest, up until the moment that we started to play, I was just kind of there. But once we started role-playing, I might have been the happiest guy in the world.
Sure, prepping for a game can be a huge chore but to be able to escape into a make-believe world with them for a few hours makes it all worthwhile.