Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Dark Bailout

Iron Man deleted scenes

Bankruptcy instead of bailout?

While it would be a bitter pill to swallow, there is a case for letting the companies that made this mess take responsibility for it. Check out this commentary by a Harvard economist who happens to be a Libertarian.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

World War video

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why Cable needs competition

Look what's going on in Japan. They are getting 1Gps broadband for $60 a month because companies are competing. And if I understand correctly, things are generally a bit more expensive in Japan than here, so think what would happen if companies like CommieCast had real competition and not a virtual monopoly.

Hopefully U-Verse becomes available in my neck of the woods soon. From what I hear it's better than CC, especially from a value point.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dissecting the 4e Fighter

As I continue to stew on Project 39, my effort to home-brew rules that take the best of 4e, namely the core mechanics, and use advances made in other d20 games to make something a little less videogamey, something with more crunch and grit than "take a nap and you're all better" and locks characters into one class, I started thinking about the Fighter.

The Fighter is the easiest of the iconic D&D classes to understand. He hits things hard and can take a lot of hits. His purpose is to engage opponents so they don't go after his squishier team mates and do as much damage as possible in the process.

Pretty simple.

Looking at a character in 4e, they are composed of their powers, feats, skills and class abilities. For Project 39, I plan on using the Star Wars Saga and Modern d20 system, where you use skills, feats and talents. As a character advances in a class, they gain talents on odd levels and feats on even levels. I'll still deciding on whether to use bonus feats versus general feats but the basic framework serves for now.

Another thing I have to look at is how multi-classing will work. I don't want to front load classes so that it is really advantageous to only take a level or two in several classes. This means defining class abilities in a way that will fit into my framework.

The 4e Fighter has Combat Challenge, Combat Superiority, and Fighter Weapon Talent. Fighter Weapon Talent just gives +1 to hit with either 1-handed or 2-handed melee weapons. Not really defining for a fighter. Combat Superiority is nice, it gives a bonus to opportunity attacks equal to the Wisdom modifier and stops the target if it hits and a move provoked the opportunity attack. This keeps those melee baddies from going after your wizard buddy hiding in back.

The last, Combat Challenge is what in a MMO would be called aggro management. It lets the fighter mark a target he attacks. If the marked target attacks anyone but the fighter, it has a -2 to hit penalty and if it shifts or or attacks someone other than the fighter, the fighter gets to make an immediate attack on it.

I'm thinking a talent tree (talents are grouped in trees) called Warrior's Challenge. Both Combat Challenge and Combat Superiority would be in that tree. They would be starting talents for a single-class fighter. Multi-class characters only get to choose 1 talent for 1st level in a new class, so they would have to decide which one they wanted, though I might make Combat Challenge a prerequisite for Combat Superiority.

My next step will to be to build out three or four talent trees with at least five talents each. The talent trees aren't linear, which means that in order to get Talent D you have to have A, B and C. However, C, D and E will have at least one prerequisite, meaning the best abilities are available only to those that invest more in the class.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Grayson - The Robin Movie

What, no Nightwing?

I see some of these amateur trailers and wonder what the film-maker could do with a real budget.

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McCain vs. McCain

I stumbled across this, so if someone finds the same thing for Obama point me to it so that I can give both candidates equal time in the debate... the debate vs. themselves.

And yes, I know that it is easy to snip things out of context, though in a lot of these it's obvious that he's contradicting himself. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind on an issue, just be upfront and don't try to play it both ways. Again, I'm sure there are examples of Obama doing the same thing.


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

D&D Insider "free trial" ending

WotC announced that it will start charging for its DDI "service" in October. It still has of yet to deliver on the various features it has promised for DDI and more and more I'm seeing the term vaporware bandied about.

While I'm normally a big advocate of supporting game companies that put out quality product, in the case of DDI it seems like... what's the term I'm looking for... oh yeah, a ripoff.

For $7.95 a month, you get access to the neutered online versions of Dragon and Dungeon magazine, the D&D Compendium, and the "Bonus Tools". The Character Visualizer, the Character Builder, the Dungeon Builder, and D&D Gaming Table are still all unavailable.

I think WotC may have poisoned the well. The best way to prevent piracy is to put out quality product at a fair price... sure there will still be people that will download it elsewhere, but if you price is fair a lot more average people will pay it. And there's the whole vaporware issue.

Add into that dissatisfaction with several aspects of 4e and the year wait until a large portion of the original classes come out and players will look elsewhere, either home-brewing rules, using the HB rules found on the net, or 3rd party publishers. I know that if I get off my lazy ass and put together my 3.9 rules, I won't need a lot from WotC as their splat books will be almost useless. For that matter I won't need third party books either. Why buy someone else's druid when I've made my own?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wal-Mart keeps selling exploding gas cans

Wow, this seems callous even for Wal-Mart. They and their vendor have been told these cans are a hazard and their answer seems to be "no they're not."

Maybe the economic slump has them feeling cocky, as more folks are compromising shopping "morals" to save a few bucks. Then again, their revenue has been up, but I haven't seen the numbers on their profit... are they being so promotional to drive market share and same store sales comp that they are sacrificing a hefty chunk of margin?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

McCain wants to cap bail-out CEOs

John McCain made a suggestion that the CEOs of companies getting bailed out the feds tax-payers shouldn't be paid more than the highest level government employee. You check out the article here.

I think it's a great idea, but of course the talking heads are already against it.

I especially like this remark:

One commentator worried -- with a straight face -- that if pay packages fell that low, some young people could become doctors instead of investment bankers! Oh no, not that!

I think we could do with a few less finance bankers and more doctors and teachers. It burns me that as a society we give these fat-cats their millions for manipulating other peoples' money, but teachers are getting second jobs to make ends meet. No wonder it seems like society is slipping down the drain.

Better, be careful though. I'm starting to sound like a Democrat.

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Swearing for beer

If we had a swear jar in my warehouse we'd be able to afford the good stuff, not just some *bleep*ing Bud Light. *Bleep* ya. Maybe it's because we sound like the *bleep*ing Osbournes visiting *bleep*ing Deadwood.

Found this via Amy.


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Call him Robert

more animals

This will only make sense to folks that played in my Marvel campaign many years ago. Thanks to Heathen Mama for sending this my way.


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lipstick on a magic-user

I wanted a second opinion on 4e, one not biased by the war waged on the net between the haters and the fanbois. But it needed to be someone who looked at games and GMing the same way I did so that we’d be looking at the same things. So I did the sensible thing and used a Spell of Summoning to summon myself from 2003.

Oz 2k3 looked around for a moment, slightly confused by the small differences in the living room. He seemed more interested in the home theater set-up and the expanded DVD collection than talking to me.
“Okay, I’m in the future and you’re future me,” he said. “Damn, we got skinny. We must have a hot girlfriend in the future.”
“It’s not the future, it’s the present.” I avoided informing him that the last girlfriend he had was still my last girlfriend. Even if the spell would erase his memories of the future when he went back, no sense in getting him depressed.
“Did you really summon me six years forward to argue temporal semantics with yourself? The spell must not have been … what the hell is that?” His gaze was focused on the coffee table where between the comic books and science magazines was the pile of 4e books.
“That is why I summoned you. WotC put out a new edition of D&D and I wanted an unbiased look at it.”
“Cool.” Oz 2k3 plopped down on the couch in my usual spot, picking up one of the books. “So is this going to make the growing pile of books we have obsolete?”
“For the most part,” I admitted, sitting in my GM chair. “They are radically changing the game, so most stuff won’t mesh. I had to reboot the campaign world to make things fit.”
“So does that piss you off, that all of our books are going to be useless?”
“It’s 2008, right? That’s five years, I guess it’s not unreasonable for there to be a new edition, and it’s not like a bunch of our second edition stuff is compatible with 3.5.” Oz 2k3 looked up from the books. “Let’s make a character. That’s help me get a look at the basics of the system.”
“Great. They’ve done away with rolling for stats, you can pick an array or use the point buy system on page 17.”
“Cool, I haven’t been a fan of rolling for stats in ages. Seems like some people are too lucky and it sucks to be the guy stuck with crappy stats while everyone runs around with multiple 18s. I think I’ll make a monk, that’s one of my favorite classes.”
“Um yeah, they don’t have monks yet. They might be in PHB2.”
“PHB2?” Oz 2k3 scowled. “What’s up with that?”
“Well, they didn’t have room in the first PHB for everything.
“Fine. I’ll make a druid. They’re a big part of our campaign world.”
“No druids yet. They’ll be in PHB2.”
“No druids? What the hell?” Past me began to look irritated. “Okay, how about we build Bjornoff. I had a lot of fun with that barbarian/bard.”
“No and no. Both are going to be PHB2.”
“Do they have rangers? I thought I saw rangers in here.”
“Yes, they have rangers in the PHB.”
“Okay, let’s make Pug in the new system. There was something gratifying about playing a half-orc with a dire flail. Pug clomp!”
“No half-orcs, they’ll-“
“They’ll be here Tuesday?” Not many besides me would get the Star Trek Generations joke.
“Yes.” Maybe I should have waited a year to summon myself.
“Okay, let’s just make a basic fighter. Nice and simple to get things started and figure out what they didn’t gut out. Is it still a good deal to play human?”
“Yes. Humans still get some good benefits. They don’t get quite as much in stats, but they still get the extra feat and skill plus some extras in the new stuff.”
“Great.” Oz 2k3 flipped through the PHB, muttering how they left out half-orcs and druids to make space for dragon-men and tieflings. “Okay, fighter… what the hell?”
“Why the hell does it take 13 pages to cover fighters? What are all of these powers?”
“All classes get powers. It’s really balanced that way as all of the classes work off of one chart regarding gaining powers.”
“You’re all playing effing magic-users.”
I leaned over and looked at the book 2k3 held. “No, you have it open to fighters. Fighter powers are martial exploits, not spells.”
“All of these classes are magic-users. You can call it exploits or spells, they’re still magic-users, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”
“Yeah, we’re going to want to steer away from that saying. There’s no magic involved in fighter powers.”
“When you had a player that wanted to play a simple character either because they were new to the game or just it’s what they were in the mood for, what did they play?”
“A fighter.”
Oz 2k3 angrily gestured with book, and then started to flip through it. “This fighter is not ‘simple’. All of these classes are the same; they all use these ‘powers’.”
“The powers are different for each class.”
“Bah. They look the same to me. And how the hell do you multi-class? Never mind, I found it. You spend feats to swap powers? Are you serious, you burn a feat so that you can stun your target instead of shift a few squares? And this must be a pain without minis and a battlemat.”
“I improvise to get around that part. I only break out the minis for something complicated. Do you want to play through a scenario? If you see the system in action you’ll see how the balance works out and the mechanics flow.”
“Naw. It must flow decent since you’re going to so much trouble to defend it. Besides, I think those glowing motes mean the spell is almost over and I’m going back to the present. Maybe you can summon me in year when PHB2 comes out.”
The PHB fell to the table when Oz 2k3 disappeared. We didn’t even get to minions or skills getting gutted, but I had a lot to think about as I chewed on the notion of 3.9.

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Kirk's Hoot-Owl Chi

To be honest if I was behind the wheel of a car going 160mph they wouldn't be able to air the noises I would make. And by noises I mean a continuous stream of expletives.

Though I think I would only release me chi if I wrecked.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Build your own round house

I found this interesting site regarding an Iron Age archeological site in Scotland. Needless to say, I couldn't resist poking around and going through some of the exercises. I found it via this site.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

d20 UTH: More class for 4e multi-class

I always get ideas when I can't act on them, and by the time I can I get distracted. At work I had a flash on how to give a little more cookie so that it felt like there was real benefit to multi-classing rather than spending half of your feats by the time you are 10th level and having no net gain, just swapped powers.

I say half because the initial feats are still worthwhile. Anyhow, after the jump is my current draft for multi-class feats. Hopefully I'll get some feedback, namely whether it's enough to make them worthwhile now.


Multi-classing is covered in the Heroic Tier by 4 feats. The class that you multi-classed into is referred to as the second class. In feat titles, x is the second class.

Student [x]
Choose the Class-Specific Feat for your second class. You must meet the prerequisites of that feat.

Novice [x]
Prerequisites: Student [x] Feat, 4th level.
Benefits: You can swap one encounter attack power you know for one encounter attack power of the same level or lower from your second class. Add +1 to the Defense that the class provides the highest bonus. In the event of a tie, choose one of the highest Defenses.

Acolyte [x]
Prerequisites: Student [x] Feat, 8th level.
Benefits: You can swap one utility power you know for one utility power of the same level or lower from your second class. Also add a +2 bonus to 1 skill from your second class skill list.

Adept [x]
Prerequisites: Student [x] Feat, 10th level
Benefits: You can swap one daily attack power know for one daily attack power of the same level or lower from your second class. In addition, you gain a second use of the special ability gained from the Student [x] Feat. As an example a character with Rogue as a second class would be able to use Sneak Attack twice per encounter.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Space Balls: The Animated Series

Friday, September 12, 2008

d20UTH - Death Penalties

My group had its first death in 4e. Since this is a fairly rare occurrence in one of my campaigns I wasn't up to speed on the rules regarding dying and being brought back in 4e.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw how little bite death had. It basically boils down to a -1 penalty for three milestones (6 encounters) and an inexpensive ritual (500gp for the materials).

I think dying should have a little more consequence than that, plus raising the dead has never been as convenient in my campaign as in most.

As for the "bite" part, that's easy crunch to implement. When a character is brought back from the dead, they lose 1 Constitution point. Sound familiar?

The rest of it is campaign "fluff". In my world, only the priests of the god of death, Ardduin, can use the Raise Dead ritual. They charge a 100% mark up over the components and you have to make a case as to why the deceased deserves to be brought back. (Yes, it is a role-playing game after all). Ardduin isn't keen on people going back and forth from the Realm of the Dead. But that doesn't mean just people that save puppies and orphans get to be brought back... think more along the lines of unfinished business and great destiny kind of stuff. Ardduin tends to be N-LN under the old alignment system.

Of course, the deceased could always take his chances with a druidic Reincarnation ritual. I still have that table somewhere.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Bond: Quantum of Solace trailer

Check it out here.


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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Oktoberfest in September?

Yesterday I decided to go to Oktoberfest. I had been kicking around the idea and even though things like this aren't as fun by myself it's better than lurking in the den hunkered down in front of a computer. Plus I'm half German and there's beer.

So I hopped on the train and headed down to the fairgrounds, visions of a feeding frenzy sure to wreck my diet for the next week in my mind. I remembered my experiences with Indy Irish Fest and expected something similar.

A bratwurst and 2/3 a pretzel doesn't exactly constitute a feeding frenzy.

It was much smaller than I expected. Plus my appetite was much smaller than it used to be, so even though I was really hungry by the time I got there I ran out of steam without being able to finish my huge pretzel. I could have done the whole thing in an hour, but given the train schedule I had 3 hours to kill.

There was a German band inside the main building and local bands in the tent outside. The German band was literally a band, something like 20 instruments and as near as I could tell the local bands had nothing to do with being German (unless 70s and 80s covers are really big in Germany).

The outside area looked like leftovers from the State Fair with a few rides, a few food trailers and a few games. There was a reminder of why I don't trust carnival rides when I saw a couple of carnies ran by and I watched them rush to a ride that was spewing hydraulic fluid and the kids on it were stuck.

But at leat there was beer.


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Saturday, September 06, 2008

4e Combat Crib Sheet

If you are playing D&D 4e, check out this combat cheat sheet. Print combat conditions on the back and it would be extremely handy for all players.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hitler played SWG?

If you didn't play Star Wars Galaxies from near the beginning, this probably won't make any sense. Suffice it to say, SOE screwed up the game, badly.

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Love Trek

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dr. Horrible lyrics

If you're a fan of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, then check out the official liner notes and lyrics.

The soundtrack is available on iTunes. Also, check out the interview after the jump.

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