Sunday, July 7, 2013

Origins 2013


Origins 2013, a set on Flickr.

Origins 2013 Coming...

Trying to use Blogger from my new Mac and am having some trouble getting the Photo Slideshow to work on the right. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rise of the Runelords Miniatures - UNBOXING!

I may have missed GenCon but I finally got to enjoy some geeky fun today as my GIANT case of miniatures arrived. This is the biggest and most expensive set I've ever purchased and it did NOT disappoint! It came with four bricks of standard boosters, each with four random figs. It also had six large boosters and the special gargantuan Rune Giant. As promised by Paizo and WizKids, I got at least ONE of every figure in the collection of 60. You can see from the table shot of all the minis that I got multiples of most. I think there are only one or two figures that I plan on buying additional singles, like the Bugbear champion. Otherwise, this is a complete set.

The quality is unbelievable, in some cases as good as I would do painting it by hand in metal. The others are still very good for pre-painted plastic, probably the best I've ever seen (and that's saying something considering the size of my collection!)

I think the usefulness of this set will be clear when I finally get to GM or play in the Rise of the Runelords mega adventure that is sitting on my shelf! 


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Sunday, August 28, 2011


D&D & Pathfinder

At GenCon 2011, I had the chance to play a demo of Pathfinder, the latest update to the former Dungeons & Dragons OGL purchased by Paizo four years ago and now transformed into version 3.75 of that system. After much internal debate, I picked up the massive Player’s Guide tome and decided to try it out at GenCon.

As we sat down at the table and picked up our pregenerated characters, the GM introduced us to the system and Paizo. He very proudly mentioned that Pathfinder had overtaken D&D to become the number one selling role playing game on the market. We all thought the same thing: “Really?” Well, kind of. I’ve since done some research and listened to enough Pathfinder and Paizo podcasts to understand that statement.

ICV2, one of my favorite comics/games/movies sites, publishes quarterly reports about sales from feedback they receive from retailers. These are NOT hard sales numbers but instead verbal interviews and reports about how many are being sold. It is NOT comprehensive nor can it be called accurate. It is, instead, a general report from a select group of retailers. Here’s what ICV2 reported:

This chart of the Top 5 Roleplaying Games (hobby channel) reflects sales in Q2 2011. The charts are based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
Top 5 Roleplaying Games – Q2 2011

Paizo Publishing
Dungeons & Dragons
Wizards of the Coast
Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch
Fantasy Flight Games
Dragon Age
Green Ronin Publishing
Catalyst Game Labs

So, at least according to this one website, Pathfinder has overtaken D&D as the top selling fantasy RPG.

So what?

I guess I’m glad that the top two are both iterations of my favorite game. And as long as it doesn’t splinter the fanbase or destroy true D&D (whatever that is!), I’m OK with it. As we played the demo, I had flashbacks to the many years we spent playing version 3.0 and 3.5. It’s definitely a game with lots of detail, customization, and sophistication. And that’s what appeals to older gamers who grew up in the 70s and 80s with 1st and 2nd edition D&D. Paizo has really taken 3.5 and perfected it. It’s like version 3.99! And they are doing some really amazing things with other books, products, and modules.

Of course, I realized as well that some things I hated about 3.5 continue. For example, it can be complicated to manage your character’s feats and there still is NOT a very good electronic character creator. And as I looked at a module, I saw an entry for an encounter that read: “See Bestiary 2 for monster stats.” Ugh. Why can’t I have all the stats right there?!

I think there is a lot to like in Pathfinder. And as I listen to more podcasts about upcoming products, I get even more excited. But I also love D&D, including 4th edition. I like using cards for powers and I love how they present adventures to DMs. I think 4th edition offers a lot of positives for our gaming group and for introducing my kids to the game I love.

Hmmm… I wonder: Is there room in my life for two fantasy RPGs?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


GenCon 2011 Report!

Howdy friends and welcome to my review of GenCon 2011! See my links below for more in-depth coverage from better reporters than me!

This year, we had two different groups heading to Indianapolis for the convention. Wukas tagged along with his buddy Rob (an avid D&D player) for his first GenCon in (possibly) decades. On Thursday, he sent me the following text: “OMFG!” That’s right – feel the power of the Exhibition Hall!!! The other group was me, Cox, Hayes, and Drew(who went down to Indy with Wukas on Thursday morning).  The stage was set for a weekend of games, gamers, and going broke!

The biggest change was the expansion of GenCon into the new areas of the Indiana Convention Center. Where the old Hoosier Dome used to stand there is now a huge hall where the vendors set up. I found the aisles to be a bit better for moving about and only really became crowded on Saturday. Parking seemed to be easier this year and while there was still some construction around the Convention Center, it was relatively easy to get around. I still wish there were more cheap eateries on the streets instead of the very crowded but reliable Centre Circle Mall. We DID continue our tradition of trying out a new local establishment and this year we finally got into RAM brewery. This is a big deal because they totally decorate and change their menu to match GenCon. This year, their sponsor was Privateer Press so the whole menu was based on their popular Warmachine miniature game. I have a copy of the menu I’ll eventually scan and post. The food was good and the beer was better! And we got to sit right under two giant D&D and Eberron banners from past GenCons!!! So cool!

On the exhibition floor, we were once again challenged to get to everything. It really take three days to see it all and we did! We met some great people and did some demos at a few booths. Of course, we purchased WAY too much and I will be feeling the pinch until pay day. Highlights for me included:
  • Buying Wrath of Ashardalon for only $41 (my bargain of the con!)
  • Picking up several rare D&D minis for my collection at decent prices
  • Seeing the gargantuan red dragon mini from a few years ago selling for $230 (I bought mine for $79)
  • Getting my copy of Issue 83 of Dragon magazine signed by Margaret Weis. When I showed it to her, specifically the original story of “Test of the Twins” written solo by her, she was thrilled. She told me several stories about it and was beaming as she autographed it.
  • Demo of the Lego Heroica game with Hayes and Drew
  • Watching Cox elbow his way into a crowd surrounding bins of plastic minis
  • Talking to several game developers and designers about their convention experience
  • Seeing stereotypical overweight gamer with a shirt that read: “I beat anorexia”
There were also some things that left me scratching my head, such as:
  • What is Cosplay and how can I get my wife into it?
  • How WotC could have a much better booth that past years but not sell a single product?
  • What is the deal with Neverwinter? That’s all there was at the WotC booth.
  • How could WizKids not include ANY Clix demos in their booth? It was all their new dice game and Star Trek.
  • Where are the chain mail bikinis?
  • Should we go back and play Pathfinder (3.5)?
  • What’s up with all the steam punk?
  • How did I NOT buy the board game Dominion for $22 on Saturday before they sold out?
  • When will I have a chance to paint all my metal minis so I can buy more from Reaper?
  • Will virtual table top programs make all those minis obsolete?

As for gaming at the Convention, we did a GREAT demo/delve in the Pathfinder room. The DM was awesome and we really had a blast remembering how to play 3.5. The Pathfinder rules are really great but it IS the old and complicated 3.5 system. However, I think a few of us will be trying out Pathfinder and its new Jade Regent Adventure Path of modules. Maybe we can use a virtual table top….

We also got a chance to demo Wrath of Ashardalon, which I also bought. I love that it is D&D as a board game and that it allowed us to kill lots of monsters in less than an hour. I can’t wait to crack open that box and play it here at home with my kids, friends, or even by myself!

I took a hard look at several computer aids and I really like d20 Pro. I need to compare it to Fantasy Grounds. Unfortunately, it looks like the official D&D Virtual Tabletop is a year away. Nuts!

Of course, the highlight was playing D&D back in the hotel room with Hayes, Cox, and Drew. One year ago we began the Eberron campaign “Seekers of the Ashen Crown.” Well, we were able to complete the adventure at about 1 am Saturday night. This was an epic tale that had some epic role playing moments. On Friday, Hayes used a freakin’ low level ritual to camouflage the airship they were on to look like the clouds. He did it as a precautionary measure. Little did he and the group know that a huge blue dragon was patrolling this skies between Graywall and Sharn. I rolled a perception check and damn if the dragon blew his roll!! There I was with a $40 plastic mini of a blue dragon that I had spent hours prepping to run and once again the players get around it! He may as well have rolled three 20s in a row and chopped off its head!!!!! Aaaargh!!!! Definitely the highlight of the adventure. But they also finally unraveled the double-cross plot, defeated their arch-enemy(the changeling goblin Tikulti), and destroyed the evil Lady Demise back in the very place the adventure began a year ago: Ashurta’s Tomb.

Next year, GenCon is later in August, around August 15th, and I may not be able to attend. If I do, it will only be for a day or two over the weekend. This might be the year I take Catherine with me and maybe a few of us bring our kids. It would certainly change the experience but it would also be new. Time for the next generation to get gaming? Perhaps. But I also know I have LOTS of gaming to do between now and then!!
So, when do we want to get together?

Quick Links of News and Views about GenCon

ICv2 GenCon photos and reports

Play D&D on Facebook. Really.

D&D New Product Seminar Report from Dave Chalker

Big news about D&D Miniatures!!!!!! (From Critical Hits)
Jumping forward a bit, the big product announcement I alluded to earlier was this: the return of miniatures produced by Wizards of the Coast… and this time, no random packaging. For all those gamers who said things like “I just want to be able to buy a box of orcs for my game,” this is for you.

Wizards will be releasing themed boxes of miniatures (like orcs, drow, goblins, elves, etc.) with non-random contents, providing a variety of miniatures in each box. Not only that, but the minis will be useable in a new skirmish game to be developed around the new minis. Each box will contain the stats you need to play with the box you buy, and interlocking terrain used to build the battlefield in interesting ways for each match (that is also fully useable in the RPG.) Additionally, after a few sets are out, you’ll be able to mix and match them in order to build your own armies, not being constrained by what you buy in each box.

The new miniatures skirmish game is notable in two aspects: first, it won’t use any dice. It is designed to be more strategic and less reliant on luck (though there will still be some) and is powered by some kind of action card system. Second, the skirmish game itself will be built on a completely open mass playtest that will appear on the D&D website starting in September. That way, the game will get plenty of testing and come out the best it can be. wins a Gold Ennie for Best Blog! Check out this site for great stuff!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Starting Over...Again

There is a concept in comic books and now movies called "reboot". It refers to an existing title or character that is being started over by the company in hopes of generating new readers/viewers and, therefore, new revenue. It can also be a chance to make changes to the history of a story/character to eliminate perceived flaws or bring it into a more modern context.

There are lots of examples of a reboot. Both Marvel and DC have done this in their major comic book lines. For me, the Ultimates is the most recent and best example from Marvel. In the Ultimate Universe, writers can do the impossible like re-tell the origin of Spider-Man and then even kill off the character! In movies, Superman and Star Trek are two notable reboots. Batman remains the "King of Reboots" as it garnered not only financial but critical praise.

I've noticed that the reboot concept has begun to spread to other areas. In my household, we have recently experienced the reboot of Pokemon. The old favorite has been started over again in a new region with entirely new Pokemon that now appear in the video game, collectible card game, and television series. The gaming industry is certainly awash in this concept but we tend to see it as a new version, much like a piece of software. So the concepts are familiar but the rules have been updated. Occasionally, a new version of the rules will bring with it such a radical change that it truly starts the game over and becomes a reboot. Certainly, D&D went through a reboot when it moved from 2nd edition to 3rd edition. Recently, WotC rebooted Gamma World.

If you have past experience with a title, character, or game, then you have a big decision to make. Do you stick with the original or do you dive into the reboot? Newbies don't need to worry about this. The rest of us have to figure out what to do. Sometimes, all the different "versions" can live side by side and we can appreciate them for what they were in context. For example, I was watching IFC last week and caught the 1960s "Batman" movie with Adam West. If you haven't experienced, it you really must. It is the pinnacle of that original television series, camp and all. How can you deny multiple villains like the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman teaming up and played by famous actors like Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshen, Burgess Meredith, and Lee Merriweather? It takes over a decade for Tim Burton to reboot Batman with Michael Keaton and a Prince soundtrack. The first two were cool and I still loved Val Kilmer the best but then came the dreaded CLOONEY!!! and all was lost. Obviously, the latest reboot has been the most successful, proving that a reboot, even the third, can be a good thing.

Overall, I'm not a big fan of reboots because they just don't do it right. So as I experience some current and read about some upcoming reboots, I have to try to keep an open mind. My daughter and I are playing the latest version of Pokemon (Black and White) on the Nintendo DS and are actually enjoying it. They have upgraded the graphics and story. I like most of the new Pokemon but most of them are pretty lame. I am also considering the card game once again. It would be a great way to get into the game again with both my kids without feeling like I'm behind everyone else. I'm also intrigued by the reboot of the Marvel "Ultimate" line of comic books. It is totally a ploy by Marvel to get new readers but that's fine with me. If there's one thing that turns me OFF about comics is always feeling like I'm way behind all the continuity. But I love what I'm reading about the three new Ultimates titles and it might suck me in.

And then there's Pathfinder.

This October, Paizo will be releasing a boxed set that will serve as a beginner's guide or introduction to the Pathfinder RPG. Of course, it really just D&D but that's familiar territory, right? I think all of us miss the quality work that Paizo put out back then and have drooled at the Pathfinder product coming out these days. I just don't know if I can handle TWO fantasy RPGs at the same time. I love 4E but I also miss some aspects of 3.5. Very specifically, I miss playing Oriental Adventures. And Paizo has just released their next Adventure Path called the "Jade Regent", which is Asian themed. I just don't think I can resist. Combined with the new introductory set, this could be the thing that finally gets me into Pathfinder.

And there it is. As much as I like the originals, I'm finding that all these new versions or "reboots" are just too cool. And if they are truly better, then why not give them a try. If the "reboot" fits, I might as well wear it!