Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Dark Knight trailer (jokerized)

The original bootleg has been taken down. This Jokerized version was received by a fan at some screening, so of course it's all over the web now.

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To Boldy Drink...

Got this link via the Barfleet crew...a NCC-1701 bottle opener.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

d20 UTH: Hit Points

Hit points have always been a weak point of the d20 system. Under the old rules your Level 1 wizard could get put down by a kobold with a rusty dagger while a high level fighter could have a castle dropped on him and laugh it off. And regardless of how 'wounded' your character was, he was in top fighting form until knocked out.

There was a sweet spot, more like a zone, where characters had enough hit points that a single lucky shot wasn't going to take them out of the game but that they couldn't laugh off a half dozen guards with swords.

In 4e, they are making some interesting changes to hit points, including changing the formula that has been in the game from the beginning.

First, let's look at the current "curve". We'll compare characters with d8 hit dice, one with no Constitution bonus, the other with a +2.

Level +0 +2
1 5 7
4 20 28
8 40 56
12 60 84

The character with the +2 bonus always has 40% more hit points. By 12th level, the second character has 24 more hit points than the first.

Several tinkerers, myself included, have looked for ways to improve the durability of low level characters while lessening the curve. As an example, in my D&D campaign a character starts with 1/2 Constitution plus max hit points for their hit die, plus a set amount based on hit die plus Constitution bonus each level after that. In my system, assuming Constitutions 10 and 14:

Level +0 +2
1 13 15 +2 (15%)
4 28 36 +8 (29%)
8 48 64 +16 (33%)
12 68 92 +24 (35%)

So my system, while making low level characters more durable, still has a curve that closes on the original at higher levels. I should point out that there are other ways in my system to affect characters than raw hit points, but that is a different article.

The 4e methodology is Constitution plus a set amount based on class at first level. Hit points gained as levels go up are *not* modified by Constitution or Constitution bonus, which means the value of the difference between two characters of differing Constitutions but same class will remain static and the percentage difference will actually decrease.

Hmmm... I have to chew on this crunch. The question is now has Constitution been undervalued? There are new mechanics in the 4e that Constitution affects, but this will be a big paradigm shift for some players. Until they see things like healing surges in play, they may feel ripped off.

And right now a couple of my players are probably reading this and thinking "oh no."

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Lego Star Wars Rap

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jabba the Cat


This amused me greatly. What can I say? I'm easily amused.


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My American accent

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Given that I grew up in and around Chicago, this is pretty accurate. My girlfriend in college, who was from southern Indiana, thought it was funny when I got mad because my "northern" accent would come out.

I could have sworn that I've posted this (or a similar quiz before), so I didn't initially when I saw it on a couple of friends' blogs. But a quick look didn't turn it up and I'm too lazy to search all 800+ posts.


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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Engineer's Guide to Cats

Found this via my friend Lisa.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4e - The Three Tiers

Characters are broken up into 3 tiers of power based on their level in 4th Edition. Levels 1 - 10 are the Heroic Tier (save the town from the ogres), Levels 11 - 20 are Paragon (save the kingdom from the dragon) and Levels 21 - 30 are Epic (save the world from the insane demon lord).

As part of the ramp up to 4e's release in June, WotC will be releasing exerpts from the 4e books. Here is the article on the three tiers of power and includes a chart showing how many powers a character gets at any given level.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Batman: Gotham Knights trailer

This collection of anime shorts is set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I may have to check it out.


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Monday, April 14, 2008

Iron Man clip

"Yeah... I can fly."

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d20 UTH - Save/Defense progression

I've been chewing on the rules and math behind saves, which become defenses in 4e. The current system involves charts. Look at the charts for all of your classes at the appropriate levels and add the bonuses. While it can involve some page flipping for multiclass characters the math isn't hard. But as characters level the disparities increase, plus there's the whole wackiness of multiclassing to get some stacked bonuses.

In the new generation (which includes Star Wars Saga Edition), save progression is flat. You get initial bonuses based on class, plus a flat bonus equal to half your level. If you multiclass you get the best bonus, not stacked bonuses.

Math crunchiness after the jump...

Let's look at three iconic (and save simple classes): fighter, rogue and wizard. Each is strong in a single save and weak in the other two. First let's look at the progression across a few levels for strong and weak saves...

Level * Strong * Weak * Difference
1 +2 +0 2
4 +4 +1 3
8 +6 +2 4
12 +8 +4 4
16 +10 +5 5
20 +12 +6 6

Now this part makes an assumption, that 4e will model the SWSE (save) defense progression. This means that the classes would get a +2 in their strong and +0 in their weak. Though the math is easy, so is copy and paste with a little editing...

Level * Strong * Weak * Difference
1 +2 +0 2
4 +4 +2 2
8 +6 +4 2
12 +8 +6 2
16 +10 +8 2
20 +12 +10 2

This makes it easier for a GM to pick the values of attacks like enemy spells and poisons. Under the old rules, at 8th level, a DC 15 (Fortitude) poison meant that a fighter needed a 9+ on d20 to save, while his wizard and rogue buddies needed 13+. That's 20%. Under the new, it is only a 10% swing (+2). While the fighter is still more likely to unaffected, it now isn't an increasingly larger chance.

Multiclassing skews save progression under the old system because of stacking. Let's look at a 7th level cleric with a level of fighter thrown in the mix (maybe he worships a war god).

Fort Ref Will
+7 +2 +5

That makes his strongest swing +5 from his weakest. Under the new system...

Fort Ref Will
+6 +4 +6

Yes, power-gamer types will hate these new rules. I'm finding them pretty acceptable as I start chewing on converting d20 Modern to 4e/SWSE for a campaign setting I call the Accords of Mil.

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Speed Racer International trailer

Check it out here.

I've made the decision that I am going to see this movie in the theaters. Even if it's awesome, there will be critics who hate it because it is so stylized (and they weren't forbidden to watch it when a kid then got to see it anyways as long as they didn't rat the babysitter out to Mom). Given the way this movie looks, if it rocks the visuals make it a must to see on the big screen.

And if it blows I can try to write $15 worth of scathing commentary.


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Clone Wars Trailer leaked

You can check it out here. At least until the Sith lawyers bully the site enough that they stop finding new versions.


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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Game Style Quiz

Law's Game Style
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Storyteller

You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director.





Method Actor


Power Gamer




Casual Gamer




No big surprise there, especially since I GM so much.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

4e Dungeons of Dread stats

Wizards has posted a PDF with 4e stats from their latest mini set, Dungeons of Dread. You can check it out here.

While I'm sure theses stats aren't exhaustive and the Monster Manual entries will have a lot more detail, it gives you a good idea of comparative power levels and glimpses of the various special abilities out there.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is Starbuck a Cylon?

Anyone who follows BSG (Battlestar Galactica), knows that this is the big question for the beginning arc of Season 4. In Season 3, Starbuck went coocoo for cocoa puffs and chased a hallucination into a gas giant, resulting in the destruction of her ship. Her demise was witnessed by Lee "I don't know what the hell I want" Adama.

Then at end of the last episode of Season 3, when a huge Cylon force has the fleet pinned down, Starbuck shows up in her Viper, saying she's been to Earth and can lead the fleet there.

Warning - there be monsters spoilers after the jump!

According to Starbuck, she blacked out in the gas giant, woke up above Earth, took pictures, blacked out and showed back up at the fleet. According to her ship clock it has been 6 hours. But the ship is brand new and has no nav data.

The logical explanation: she's a Cylon and this is a Cylon trick. We also know there is one Cylon model left to be revealed. Some Cylons have had a fascination with Starbuck, and there's that whole her drawing mystic symbols that match stuff on the way to Earth.

Since that is the obvious answer, it has to be wrong. Unless of course the writers expect us to think that way, so it's a double cross. But then if we know that they'd know... wait a minute, where was I?

If Starbuck is not the elusive Fifth, someone else has to be, and ther has to be some sort of explanation for what has happened with her since her Viper went boom. (Please, Gods of Kobol, not the White Light Bastards from the original series.)

Who else is the Fifth?

Bill Adama? No. He's had plenty of kids and that would also just be too sacrilegious even for these writers.

Lee Adama? No. He's Bill's kid and while Cylons have a tendency to be bat-shit crazy, I don't think that they are programmed to be wishy-washy.

Gaius Baltar? No. That would wash away his whole bat-shit craziness and they wouldn't have needed Six to seduce him to begin with.

Laura Roselyn? Strong maybe. It would be ironic, she's currently leading them the wrong way, and she's had the same visions as the Six in the brig.

My left field pick... Tom Jareck. He's a rebel, he's fallen off center stage so it would be a surprise and just how ironic would it be to have Richard Hatch play the last Cylon?

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Wal-Mart wants your paycheck

Ok, to be fair, doesn't every retailer? But Wal-Mart means it literally with the newest version of their debit/ATM card. You can check out the details here.

I have to admit that it's a smart move for Wal-Mart. It lets them prey on the same people that various checks-for-cash operations target, as well as the plethora of financially disadvantaged and/or unwise unable to maintain regular bank accounts, are wrapped up in the seductive package of an ATM/debit card.

I have a friend that used to have to freeze his ATM card in a block of ice. That way he had to wait for it to thaw and had time to think whether he really needed/could afford to make a given purchase with it. I suspect there are millions like him... it's easy to whip out the card and "worry later" about whether you have money left in the account to pay bills. I remember when I teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, I ended up having to give myself an allowance for non-billed expenses like food and gas, because it was too easy to lose track then bounce something if I relied on the card.

I wonder how the banks will react to Wal-Mart's latest foray into the finance business?


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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

D&D fights for its future

Here is an article on the upcoming 4e, changes to gaming, and D&D's influence.

Sad statistic:
Traditional RPG industry annual revenue = $30 million
World of Warcraft annual revenue = $1 billion

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