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Archive for the ‘D&D’ Category

A new plan of attack involves more shorter posts, so that there aren’t months without anything. I stayed away from that here before because I keep really short thoughts to Facebook status updates (would be Twitters if I had any friends on Twitter, but I don’t), but there’s a place between rambling essays and one sentence thoughts that I hope I can use to good effect in the future. In the meantime, a few quick shots:

  • Pushing Daisies be dead. Terrible, horrible, depressing, expected. On the very minor positive side, Bryan Fuller may well end up running Heroes and perhaps save it from the abysmal joke it’s become. (During Heroes’ second season, the first time I watched the show as it aired, I repeatedly took it to task for ugly sexism until I eventually concluded it was just lazy writing, not actual misogyny, and gave up. This is still the case, and still one of the few things I actively despise about the show. Please save it, Bryan Fuller. Make it whimsy and fun!)
  • Far Cry 2 is a great game, but I’ve barely played it (or any other games) since I started Letters from Africa. As a result, I haven’t updated that particular project since then. I hope to get around to it eventually, but at this point I kind of just want to play the game. I also bought Overlord during its 75% price reduction on Steam and played it for an hour or two. It’s cute.
  • I’m a terrible DM. Not really, of course, but not a very good one, anyway. I don’t intend to continue the campaign log, although I do intend to keep the wiki updated with shorter summaries and to post some thoughts on DM-ing (and how much I suck at it). Seriously, it’s hard (especially when the online campaign I’m playing in is so well-designed. Here’s to you, stabs!) I almost want to start something new next semester (with a month of preparation over break), but I think the players would prefer to continue, because they don’t have as much of a problem with what I do as I do (and that’s what’s important, anyway)–and there are still some (hopefully) really interesting moments to get to.
  • Quantum of Solace is a conundrum to me. I’m planning on writing some more thorough thoughts (and I’ve thought a lot about what those will be) but I’m waiting until I probably see it again this weekend.

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I wasn’t really prepared to start the campaign. For quite a while I knew where I wanted to get to with the first session, but not how; less than a week ago the ideas began formalizing. When we started I had a rough sketch, a plan that worked but has a number of holes of immersion, at least some of which I would have corrected had I had more time. But everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves (quite a lot), so I’m pleased for now.

Our four protagonists began onboard the good ship Promise of Tomorrow, only a few days from their destination at the Lapis River colony, the Arkhosian shore distantly visible, and nothing to do. Khaar attempted to chat up Montrose, the half-elf cleric of Pelor, who stood idly on the open deck, but Montrose seemed uninterested in talking. Zan noted a strange mark of fire rising from one of the larger ships, just before it exploded.

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“Half a millenium ago, the Children of Dragons emerged from the Dark Continent, sailed across the Great Sea, and brought the Empire to our shores. From the Jeweled City across the water, they brought order to chaos and light to darkness.

“We do not mean to extol the virtues of the Dragon Empire or to call for its return. Rather we wish to remind all of its unparalleled power and majesty and of the riches the dragonborn brought from their dark home across the sea. It is called the Forsaken Jewel not without cause, for in the chaos of the Empire’s fall, many great treasures were lost.

“We do not refer to the rumors of hoards of gold or magic trinkets hidden by dragonborn desperate to survive the fall. We refer to the natural abundance that birthed the Empire in its first dark days, the verdant wealth that allowed the dragonborn to conquer two continents, construct vast monuments, and collect those hoards of gold and magic trinkets.

“It is for this that we, former subjects, now become conquerors ourselves, at last return to the Forsaken Jewel. Not any temporary treasure, but the natural wealth of an entire continent, since the fall of the Empire tapped only by savage tribes with no comprehension of its possibilities.

“This is our destiny and our duty: to sail across the Great Sea, set foot upon the Dark Continent, and bring order to its chaos and light to its darkness. The Jeweled City that once glittered from across the water has fallen, and it must be built anew. Who will join us?”

the Association for the Advancement of Arkhos

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Narrative space

I’m a storyteller. I see the world in stories. That’s not saying much, because this is true of everyone. What is a story, after all? It’s an organization of reality, an illusionary order imposed by our brains to make sense of the fundamentally nonsensical universe. So why say I’m a storyteller? Because it means something else to most people, and the difference between that meaning and my meaning is what I want to talk about. For those with some knowledge of narrative theory this won’t be anything new or interesting, except maybe the stuff about video games and D&D later.

When most people think “story”, they think a book, or a movie, or whatever. Words, images, a sequence of events experienced by and actions taken by characters, fictional or non. For most people, a story is a distinct entity, separate from them, that they may borrow for a time but that remains outside of them. If a story is in a forest and no one’s around to read it, is it still a story? Most people say yes. The answer is no.

Well, not necessarily, because “story” is just a word and it means whatever you want it to mean, whatever meaning you endow it with, but there are other words for that sort of thing. “Text”, usually: if a text is in a forest and no one’s around to read it, is it still a text? Yes. (Well, actually, I would say no, because I think that all that really exists is the relationships between things and that the idea of “things” is just another false order constructed by our brains to make sense of nonsense, and so something without any relation to anything else doesn’t exist, but that’s for another time.) Unless you mean something else. But using a different word isn’t the problem; the problem is that people don’t accept that anything exists besides text. That, whatever you want to call it, there is something more than text.

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D&D 4E Character Sheets

The standard D&D character sheets, while usable, are always capable of being improved. For 4E I got a particular itch to create anew because the editors seem to assume the use of index cards to keep track of powers (or at least some method separate from the character sheet), and I didn’t see why it couldn’t be done on the character sheet, along with everything else, on the standard front-and-back one page–which none of the many custom character sheets I’ve examined do, either, despite other (often major) improvements on the official sheet.

Several days later, I see why. While it is possible to use just a character sheet without power cards, you have to be prepared to use a lot of shorthand and rely on the power sections as reminders rather than actual recordings of the rules. (For example, for my sample warlock I statted up I have this as the effect of one power: “For encounter, allies in 5: 1 + int to atk against same enemy; miss: allies in 5: +1 to atk ” ” “. )

If you take the power sections out, however, there not that much information to actually record; I ended up with the entire bottom half of the back page empty.

In any case, I’ve been staring at these too long to accurately ascertain their utility, but there they are nonetheless.

D&D 4E Character Sheet (w/o Powers) (PDF, 60 KB)

D&D 4E Custom Character Sheet (w/ Powers) (PDF, 65 KB)

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D&D 4E Tortles

Shortly after the release of D&D 4E I began developing my own custom content, mostly PC races. My first (and so far only) “professional” release has been my 4E tortle, a race of anthropomorphic turtles (or tortoises) originally from the Savage Coast setting. This release includes PC race stats, weapons, feats, and monster blocks. (This is simply a transfer of the file and change log from my old blog to this one.)

Download PDF (425 KB)

Change log after the jump.

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