Long Time, No Write

Posted on : 09-02-2010 | By : Brian | In : D&D, Indie Games, Links, News, Random Stuff, Video Games


I’ve been pretty bad about keeping this blog current lately. I’ll make an effort to try not to do that anymore.

At any rate, I just thought I’d post quickly to let everyone know that I’m still alive, and also to talk about what’s been on my mind and what you can expect to see posted on this blog in the next couple of weeks. In no particular order:

1. Steam. I love me some Steam. Steam, for those who are unfamiliar, is a digital video game distribution platform on the PC. Over the holidays they had some killer deals and, as a result, experienced serious growth. Because of this growth (I assume) they’re offering more great deals than ever before. They used to always have a weekend deal, which the still do; now, though, they have mid-week madness, too. Good stuff. Some games that I’ve purchased since the holidays on Steam, some of which you might hear about in more detail later on: Dead Space, Far Cry 2, Freedom Force, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Torchlight, Medieval II: Total War. All for cheap (as in, not one of them was more than $10).

2. D&D, as always. Haven’t played for a while (the last time was in November, I think). I’ve got a game day scheduled for later this month, toward the end, and I’m pretty excited. We’ll probably be wrapping up the current adventure in that session, which will give a friend of mine a chance to step into the DM chair for a little while. Also, if you’ve noticed that the most recent session report is not yet up, you’re very astute. Here’s a cookie. It will be going up soon, don’t worry.

3. Indie RPGs. I recently donated to Haiti through DriveThruRPG and, as a result, got a coupon for a bunch of free RPG PDFs. I got some indie RPGs that I’ve been wanting for a while, including Don’t Rest Your Head, Chronica Feudalis, Full Light Full Steam, Beast Hunters, and 316. I’ve read all of DRYH and played it once (more on that in a future post), and I’m in the process of reading through both Chronica Feudalis and Full Light Full Steam. I’d also like very much to get my hands on a copy of the Mouseguard RPG, but that may not happen for a little while.

4. Other games. I got various and sundry video games for Christmas, some of which you will be hearing about. Expect to hear about Dragon Age: Origins, Left 4 Dead 2, Metroid Prime Trillogy, and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and possibly some others.

Bargain Nerd

Posted on : 14-08-2009 | By : Brian | In : Links, Random Stuff


I just ran my name through the Internet Anagram Server, and guess what one of the first few results was? Yep. Bargain Nerd. So there you go.

Lots of games and stuff

Posted on : 18-01-2009 | By : Brian | In : 4th Edition, D&D, Links, Random Stuff, Reviews, Video Games, Zombies


It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? No particular excuse on my part; just laziness and procrastination, mainly. But I figured, since I got a lot of games and game-related stuff for Christmas, I’d better post my impressions of some of this stuff.

Martial Power: This book is just chocked full of D&D goodness. It’s mainly stuff for the players rather than the DM: new feats, new paragon paths, new epic destinies, and lots and lots of new powers. It’s all really good stuff, particularly the new builds for the fighter, warlord, ranger, and rogue. What’s interesting is that some of the powers and paragon paths allow you to branch out a little bit from your class’s role without actually multiclassing. The Guildmaster Thief paragon path is designed for the rogue (a striker), but most of its abilities are decidedly leader-ish. Also, the beastmaster ranger is very, very cool, and I like the idea that, when Wizards decides to incorporate companions, it’ll be on a class-by-class basis, allowing each class’s companion to be unique to that class. I’d imagine we’ll see a warlord build at some point with access to all sorts of followers, and I don’t think that a wizard build that utilizes a familiar is outside the realm of possibilities.

The Draconomicon: Where Martial Power is primarily for PCs, this book is all about cool stuff for the DM to use. The first chunk of stuff is all information on chromatic dragons: phyisiology, psychology, society, etc. It’s not game rules, but it’s really interesting to read, and I feel like a lot of it is useful for role-playing dragons. There are also draconic rituals, some traps, a lengthy section on hoard generation (which could easily be applied to generating any treasure hoard, not just one belonging to a dragon), nine sample lairs, and a bunch of draconic monsters, including new dragons and some lower-level threats, like kobolds. It’s good stuff.

Fallout 3: Wow. Just wow. I’m so hopelessly addicted to this game it’s not even funny. The formula feels a lot like a refinement of Oblivion, but it also feels distinctly like a Fallout game in many ways. There’s a lot of the trademark dark humor and some very interesting post-apocalyptic characters and scenarios. The quest design is fantastic; there’s almost always a twist that you don’t expect, even in relatively minor quests. The combat system (VATS), while not particularly deep (you usually want to shoot the head or, occasionally, the weapon) is fun and satisfying, and slow-motion ultra-gory kill shots never really get old.

Resident Evil 4: Very cool and creepy. I’m not all that far into it, as I’ve been mostly playing Fallout 3, but I am enjoying it quite a bit. I like the atmosphere and the story so far, and there have been some cool set-piece battles, too. I’m enjoying the controls (it should be noted that I have the Wii version, which allows you to aim with the remote) and the combat, and while the voice acting and translation is somewhat silly occasionally, it’s a good survival horror game through and through.

The Growing Hunger: This is the expansion for Last Night on Earth, which is one of my favorite games. The expansion adds some cool new scenarios, new characters to play, new cards for both the heroes and the zombies, and a bunch of optional rules that you can add in or not, as you like. I’ve only gotten a chance to play with the expansion once; I played the Plague Carriers scenario as the heroes, and just barely lost. It was a lot of fun, and it’s very cool to see seven additional zombies on the board.

A Touch of Evil: Another game by Flying Frog, the makers of LNoE. This time it’s a colonial-era supernatural horror game, which can be played competitively, cooperatively, or in teams as a hybrid of the two. It bears more than a passing similarity to both Arkham Horror and Runebound (both games that I enjoy quite a bit), but it’s a much simpler game than either and, once you’re used to it, can probably be played much faster than either. I’ve played it twice now, once with three friends cooperatively (it was fun and we vanquished the Vampire, though we found out later that we had neglected to use a few rules that would have made the game harder), and once on my own. Solo play is not officially supported in the rulebook, but it’s pretty easy to figure out how to do it regardless. I lost, not because the game was particularly difficult, but because the Shadow Track moved really quickly, and when it hits zero, it’s game over. There’s a debate online as to whether to use the competitive or cooperative rules when playing solo, and I feel now that a combination of the two should be used. I think that cooperative rules should be used for the Shadow Track and for the Town Elders, but I think that using the cooperative Mystery Phase Chart makes that Shadow Track move much too quickly, considering that having only a single player gives you little chance to counter its movement most of the time. I believe my game was over after about five or six turns, which seemed way too quick, and I feel like I didn’t really get to do much.

Well, that’s it for now. I may post about more stuff later.

Bravo, WotC

Posted on : 29-08-2008 | By : Brian | In : 4th Edition, Links, Random Stuff


Wizards of the Coast have written a formal response to Mr. Goldfarb, and mailed it off to him. I say, “Great job.”

Tiny Adventures, Part 2

Posted on : 22-08-2008 | By : Brian | In : Links, Random Stuff


I mentioned yesterday that Wizards had created Tiny Adventures, a D&D app for Facebook. I also mentioned that it was a bit buggy; specifically, adventures were not updating for me, and I kept on getting errors. Well, here’s the response that Wizards posted to yesterday’s antics, and it is awesome:

5pm Thursday, August 21st

Your Server was exploring the dungeon and preparing to battle the mighty dragon when it encountered a horde of good-looking, expert Tiny Adventure players.

Your Server made a server load check with a difficulty of 3700 . . . and rolled 1

Your Server was dominated by the exited players and its CPU was trampled. Your Server headed back to the shop to purchase a huge upgrade for itself and will be back tomorrow. The horde of players was thanked again for their enthusiasm and patience.

Please check back tomorrow afternoon (Friday August 22nd).

I’ll be checking back later today, in the hopes that I can actually try it out. It really does sound like a cool little diversion.

Apology accepted, Captain Needa

Posted on : 20-08-2008 | By : Brian | In : Links, News, Random Stuff


Followup: Michael Goldfarb apologized for his remarks today. While the apology does not immediately strike me as being all that sincere, I’ve decided that, since intent and tone is hard to read on the Internet, I’ll take it at face value and accept the apology. Hopefully this is the last time I’ll feel moved to blog about politics. That is, until one of the candidates tells us all to get out of our parents’ basements and vote.


Posted on : 30-07-2008 | By : Brian | In : 4th Edition, Random Stuff


D&D Day is on Sunday. That’s right, on Sunday, August 3rd, my group and I will launch our 4th Edition D&D campaign, and I’ll get to really see how this game plays. I’m running Keep on the Shadowfell, though I’ve made some modifications to the earlier parts of the adventure, and I’ll probably modify later parts as well, depending on how things go in the first session. Unfortunately, my gaming group is going to be one member shy; our elf rogue can’t come, which makes the group decidedly melee-centric with a warlord, a paladin, and a fighter. Hopefully that won’t prove to be too much of a problem. In any case, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Random Junk

Posted on : 19-05-2008 | By : Brian | In : 4th Edition, Downloads, Geeking Out, Links, Musings, Random Stuff, Reviews


May 10th?! Sheesh, it sure has been a long time since I’ve posted. Bad blogger, bad! At any rate, I thought I’d post with some random stuff that’s been on my mind lately, some of it 4E-related, some not. We’ll start with the not.

Zombies. Who the hell doesn’t love zombies? Besides the unfortunate people who can’t outrun them and get their brains eaten, I mean. Zombies are awesome. It is for this reason precisely that Left 4 Dead looks freaking awesome. For those who know nothing about it and can’t be bothered to click on the Wikipedia link provided, let me sum it up for you. You and a band of three other survivors are miraculously immune to a new and extremely virulent form of rabies that has turned 99% of the world’s population into ravening, bloodthirsty (brainthirsty?) zombies. These zombies are fast, they’re smart enough to dodge attacks, and they’re accompanied by a number of mutated super-zombies with special powers like the ability to scale walls and jump really high, 50-foot tongues, super strength and endurance, or a belly full of gas that allows projectile vomit and the ability to explode like a grenade when shot. Not interested yet? What if the other three survivors were played by other human beings via the Internet? No? Well, that’s not all. You can also play against human-controlled boss zombies for extra challenge. Still not enough? All of the zombies are spawned procedurally, in response to the perceived stress levels of you and your compatriots, to make sure you get the optimal experience each time and to ensure that it’s never the same experience twice. Trust me, it’s made of awesome.

And speaking of zombies, I just saw 28 Days Later (yeah, I know, that’s been out for a while), and absolutely loved it. Great zombie flick, even if the infected are never actually referred to as ‘zombies’ within the film.

Oh, and games. I’ve recently downloaded GameTap, and even if you don’t want to pay for the service I suggest that you go out and download the free version and give it a whirl. Even for free, GameTap provides you with access to some pretty good games, such as Tomb Raider: Legend, Psychonauts, and the first two Hitman games. I’m currently playing through Legend and loving it, and I plan on diving into Psychonauts next. The sheer brilliance of GameTap, though, is that even though I get access to these great games completely free, I still want to sign up for a gold account and get access to even more games. And heck, a gold account is only about $60, slightly more than the cost of a brand new PC game, for an entire year’s subscription.

And finally, 4E. Ah, 4E. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this, but I ordered the Core Rulebook Gift Set for myself a while ago, so it should arrive shortly after launch. I also recently pre-orderd Keep on the Shadowfell, and Amazon just sent me an email today letting me know that it had been shipped, and that I should expect it sometime around Saturday. Once I’ve digested that material, you can expect a review of it on this site (probably sometime in the next two weeks or so). Similarly, I’ll likely be reviewing the Core Books as I read them. I must admit that my excitement has been amped up to a fever pitch lately as the release date draws closer, in a large part because Wizards is releasing excerpts from the core books every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on D&D Insider (which is, for the moment, free). Everything I hear about the game makes me excited. I’m serious. I haven’t heard a single thing about the game that has made me want it less. Admittedly, some of this may be the novelty factor, and only time will tell if that is the case. But all signs indicate that 4E is going to be a very, very good game.

And speaking of 4E, I designed a 4E D&D Character Sheet in .doc format. Cute PDF does strange things with the table headers, so if someone else would like to convert it to PDF using something a little more robust, I’d gladly host it here. I’ve also been messing around with the character creation rules (those that I know at this time, at least), and I’ve created a couple of 1st-level characters: a human rogue with some warlock multiclassing, and a dwarf warlord. Both of these use the format for my character sheet. I should warn you that I’m not completely sure that all the math for attack bonuses and defenses is entirely kosher, since I don’t have access to the full rules. In particular, I think it’s a little weird that the rogue’s Reflex is higher than his AC. If someone wants to give them the old hairy eyeball and correct them for me, feel free and I’ll update the links.


Holiday Haul

Posted on : 01-01-2008 | By : Brian | In : 4th Edition, Geeking Out, Links, Musings, News, Random Stuff


Apologies for the lack of posting; I’ve been busy with my Christmas gifts. Highlights include:

1. A Garmin GPS unit for my car. Extremely useful.
2. A Nintendo DS, along with two games (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Age of Empires: The Age of Kings). I’ve finished Zelda already, due primarily to extremely heavy play, rather than brevity of content. The game is decidedly not brief; it’s exactly the right length, and is highly satisfying and challenging from start to finish. Not only that, but it’s got a very clever and well-implemented multiplayer mode, which I enjoy immensely. AoE I’ve just started, and I’m currently working my way through the tutorial campaign (Joan of Arc’s campaign). It’s a lot of fun and very addicting, and I love having a turn-based strategy game that I can keep in my pocket.
3. A fancy new chess board, wooden, with Asian-themed pieces. I can’t wait to use it.
4. Dungeon Twister, an excellent little two-player strategic board game with some cool mechanics and interesting gameplay.
5. Arkham Horror. ‘Nuff said.
6. The first of the 4th Edition preview books, Races and Classes, which I’ve already read and enjoyed thoroughly. I am somewhat sad to say, however, that (according to that book, at least), the ranger is indeed a striker, and not a controller. It makes me wonder whether or not there will be more than eight classes in the Player’s Handbook, for it would seem that they’d need another controller.
7. Lots of other great stuff!

Happy holidays, happy new year, etc.!

So that’s what goes on . . .

Posted on : 28-10-2007 | By : Brian | In : Links, Random Stuff


I’ve always wanted to know what GWB does to unwind. Now we know why he’s so concerned about zombies.