Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Which The Warlock Uses His Time Productively...

One of the nice things about being an English teacher is the fact that once you set your kids on a research project, your days are pretty much just troubleshooting. There's no real "lesson planning", per se; it's all much more of helping each kid at whatever step that they're at. Because of this, I've had a significantly larger amount of "free-ish time" during my teaching day...which I've put to good use, of course!

Firstly, I managed to get some of my revisions for Dungeon Slam! done. On the 4th draft now, I managed to re-build all of the character cards from scratch. One of the biggest problems with the current incarnation is the amount of tokens necessary for Health and Arcana. Rather than tracking them with tokens, though, I now have a slider at the top and bottom of each character card--one for each stat. So now, players only need one token, which they can slide to their current Health and Arcana, and adjust as necessary.

Also, I've been reformatting many of the skills. Some of them were just outright too damned good. Others, like the Alchemists' Unique Skill--Brewmaster--were utterly weak. I've worked towards balancing these, but the results have yet to show fruit--that's what playtesting is for, children!

That said, the easy part is over with. The (much) harder part is to rebuild the monsters, the items, and the skills. That comes next...proably over spring break!

Speaking of playtesting, though, I also managed to finish my work on something that's currently being referred to as WEGS SuperZ Alpha. While I can't say too much about this one, mainly due to some unsurity on how it exactly fits into El Willy's WEGS-verse and the like, I can say that the first playtest went swimmingly! We had some issues with the Braintrust character, who was way overpowered, using Napalm Blast over and over, as well as with the Health and Spoint regeneration General Skills, but by and large, the Arks were performing exactly as intended!

Finally, I managed to finally put together enough cash for a subscription to Dungeons and Dragons Insider--Wizards of the Coast's online initiative for D&D 4e. My first impressions, thusfar, have been really positive, particularly with the Character Generator, but I haven't had my subscription long enough to provide a full review--expect one next week, cats and kittens.

So, what have we learned? When your kids are pretty much autonomous, you can just let 'em roll and get on with what's important: gaming!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Which the Warlock Learns from His Pain...

I have learned to dread Christmas. For the last two years, my beloved (and if you can't hear the sarcasm dripping off of that word, you're deaf!) Witt-Weggers have felt it necessary to 'gift' me with movies at each YuleTide. Now, by movies, I don't mean new releases, or the various blockbusters I've blogged about while here. Nor do I mean movie classics like Excalibur or Apocalypse Now.

I mean horrible, decrepit pieces of filth...the likes of which are not fit for human eyes. I mean movies like Blood Gnome, Elektra, and the dreaded Transmorphers.

You'll note that I don't link any of these. This is for your own protection. If you are so foolish as to look up any of these...well, do so at your own risk.

This tradition culminated this week with Wittenberg Role-Playing Guild's first ever "Iron Butt, Iron Gut" Marathon. Three of the worst movies ever made, in order, on Valentines' Day evening. While the task was a difficult one: Transmorphers followed by Mazes and Monsters, then ending with Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, we survived (relatively) unscathed.

However, my enduring mental anguish has not gone by without some amount of learning. If anything else, each horrible flick has taught me a valuable lesson for GMing, which I share with you now...so that these movies may forever be buried and forgotten.

Zardoz--It doesn't matter how rich a world you create or how vast a world you populate; if no one can understand what the hell you're talking about, it's a lost cause anyway.

Mazes and Monsters--Plot twists are simultaneously overrated and underappreciated. Keep your players on their toes and they won't see the train through the coming headlights.

Idiocracy--Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Dragonlance: DoAT--Lens flares make everything better. That is, I mean...you can have all of the voice talent in the world, but if your NPCs have dialogue that makes them sound like cardboard cutouts, your players will still be miserable.

Death Race 2000--Orwellian corporations controlling Roman-style deathmatches, regardless of arena, is an over-used trope. Just once, throw in a mega-corporation that generally HAS the world's best interest in mine, and see how your players squirm!

Flesh Gordon--Captured PCs are fun PCs because they're out of their element. While it's always a plus to see a group at their strongest, sometimes the best role-playing moments come out of when they have to improvise to survive.

SS DoomTrooper--Killing Nazis is always fun. Doesn't matter what system.

Raptor--Always have your setting details in order. Nothing's more infuriating than not being able to figure out what county your crime scene's actually in...to say nothing of "brushing" for fingerprints...

Transmorphers--In all games, the special effects are key. Magic, psionics, super-powers, Cthulhian spells, what have you...if they sound fake in your descriptions, they look fake in the minds' eye of your players. Describe!
Oh, and make sure your sounds syncs up...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Which The Warlock's Dice Fall on Natural 20!

So, with a few exceptions, everything's been coming up Aces out here in Witt-Wegger land, which leaves me barely able to catch my breath, with all the madness that's ensuing. While work's been a bear recently, with multiple in-services and a massive state-qualifying debate tournament to judge, there's been a lot to celebrate out here!

First off, WittCon VI: "Have you Hugged an Orc Today?" is officially a WorldWide D&D Game Day premier site! We've already received the downloadable registration pack, complete with the scenario, characters, and even a trivia pack. While I haven't read the info thoroughly, I'm looking forward to busting out this scenario on some hapless adventurers on March 21st!

Further, I've finally decided what I actually want to run at this year's WittCon. While I've been tempted to run another session of Dungeon Slam!, I've been doing a lot of playtesting on the weekly game nights, which makes it a little less...well, novel. I had kicked around doing straight up 4e, perhaps with a Ravenloft or Planescape twist, but with the WorldWide D&D Game Day info coming through, that option's already covered. I had kicked around doing Stargate or Conan d20, but...eh. Nothing was coming to mind. And with Jules already planning a trip to Zendik Farms for her Call of Cthluhu game, what was left?

Oh yes...Dark Heresy! Indeed, we return to the depths of the Warp with a wicked little scenario I'm calling "Survival of the Fittest". Players will be in the role of Acolytes, searching for missing Inquisitor Xanthippus, who disappeared on the war-ravaged world of Thanatos during an Orkish invasion. But, as always, things are not as they seem...

On the plus side, my Monday Heroes Unlimited game has been utterly rolling. Our first session was spent getting the group together, as they investigated a mysterious warehouse housing a crime scene, which seems to be off of both the mob's and the polices' books. Kat's psychic, based on Scheherezade of the "1001 Arabian Nights", is slowly losing her grip on Sanity, as she delves into Object Reading and the like, while Will's Austrian strongman Manifesto utterly devastated some nosy dockworkers...

And oh, I can't wait for the arrival of my villain....they call him Mr. Kisses... :D

The only real down-side to recent events is that last year's WittCon vendor, Bob "Don't Call Him the Diceman" Kindle, was unable to make it down for this year's event. Hopefully, as the dread date nears, we'll have someone out for all your gaming supply needs!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

In Which The Warlock is Astounded by Circumstance...

So, planning is well-underway on WittCon VI: "Have You Hugged An Orc Today?" The schedule for events is taking shape, and the designs for this year's T-shirt are slowly being formulated. Yet again, we'll be looking forward to a visit from the one and only El Willy and his WEGSing krew, as well as from our friendly neighborhood Reaper Minis rep, Shane.

Ironically, though, this year's WittCon falls on the same day as many auspicious events! Our theme this year, "Have you Hugged An Orc Today?", comes directly from the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, though that's not all...
March 21st is also UNESCO World Poetry Day, Ba'hai and Iranian New Year's Day, the Vernal Equinox, and Namibian Independence Day.

All of that...feh. No big whoop. But..for a gaming convention...only one major concurrent holiday might matter: Worldwide D&D Game Day!

Yes, devoted readers, we're currently in the works to hold honest-to-God, RPGA-official, 4e D&D, fresh from Wizards of the Coast at your favorite neighborhood college con. Will we succeed? I sure hope so!