Showing posts from April, 2012

RPG Review: Adventurer Conqueror King System

One of the more interesting D&D variants to come out of late is Autarch LLC's Adventurer Conqueror King System (henceforth referred to as ACKS).

At its core, ACKS, like many other variants of D&D, uses the d20 System Reference Document to recreate the flavor of a specific version of the D&D game. In the case of ACKS, the version in question is the D&D Basic and Expert sets with a touch of the Companion set thrown in.

As I've grown older I've had to remember that shorthand like referring to various versions of D&D may not be as illuminating to gamers who have never played those games as it is to old-timers like me. So what were the D&D Basic and Expert games like, with the 3.5/Pathfinder and 4e rules for comparison.

D&D Basic and Expert Overview To begin, the Basic and Expert ("B/X") rules make use of the same stats as D&D 3.5 and 4e. However, the expectation is you will roll 3d6 and assign them in order for all your stats. Bonuses …

Gaming with Black Leaf and Elfstar - D&D in the 80s

For those who entered the gaming hobby after the 80s it is difficult to imagine the impact D&D had on popular culture.

I first encountered the D&D game in elementary school - I believe I was in 5th grade, probably winter and spring of 1982 which would fit in with the 8th printing of the D&D Basic Set - the first magenta-boxed rules with the Erol Otus cover. To this day I still have a soft spot in my heart for this version of the rules. At the time it was just beginning its upward swing in popularity - I purchased my copy of the rules in a Toys R Us.

Fall of 1983 had me entering the 7th grade and the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon going on the air. I didn't get to see too much of it as this coincided with Saturday morning soccer (no Tivo, VCR, or streaming...)

1983 was also the year that a revision to the Basic Set was released, the Red Box with the Larry Elmore cover. In my circles this version of D&D was extremely popular. Kids would play it in study halls, there …

The Keys to the D&D Kingdom

Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, seems unlikely to give me the keys to their D&D kingdom, but some events in D&D-ville (Monte Cook leaving Wizards of the Coast, rumors of a reprint of 3.5 coming in September in addition to this summer's 1st edition reprints) along with some discussions in Google+ got me wondering what I'd do if they did..

Wizards of the Coast is in the process of preparing a 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I've not been overly engaged in the development process. Life's been busy with work and children and I have less time to follow such things than I did prior to the 3rd edition when I had no kids and less responsibilities at my job.

However, what I've gleaned thus far is one of the main objectives is to embrace all styles of play, from super-optimized character builds and very detailed tactical combat down to very simple character classes and non-tactical dungeon crawls with several encounters in a given game session. W…

Stephen King's The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

"The man in black crossed the desert and the gunslinger followed."  - Opening line to The Gunslinger

"You want to know about death. I left him a word. That word is NINETEEN. If you say it to him his mind will be opened. He will tell you what lies beyond. He will tell you what he saw.  The word is NINETEEN.
Knowing will drive you mad.
But sooner or later you will ask,"

- Letter form the Walter o'Dim to Allie, The Gunslinger

"My first thought was, he lied in every word,That hoary cripple, with malicious eyeAskance to watch the working of his lieOn mine, and mouth scarce able to affordSuppression of the glee, that purs’d and scor’dIts edge, at one more victim gain’d thereby."

- Opening lines of "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning

I first encountered The Gunslinger in my junior year of high school, in spring of 1988. I borrowed it from a friend though in short order I obtained my own copy from the localWaldenbooks as well a…

RPG Review: Dungeon Crawl Classics

The intent of the Open Game License that Wizards of the Coast released with the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons was to encourage other publishers to support the D&D game with adventures, something they had viewed as less profitable than rule books.

Goodman Games, the creators of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG made good use of the Open Game License in this manner, producing a successful line of adventures in a line called "Dungeon Crawl Classics". They were designed to hearken back to the adventure modules released by TSR in the late 70s to mid 80s with their gatefold maps in blue and white, about 32-48 pages in length, with killer dungeons, treasures galore, and dragons at the bottom of the dungeon. They released products in this line for the 3, 3.5, and 4th editions of the D&D game as well as the occasional special 1st edition AD&D adventure.

What I imagine must have surprised Wizards of the Coast is the fact that publishers and independent authors determ…

19th Level's A Game of Thrones Drinking Game

My wife and I have been watching "A Game of Thrones" on HBO. We both enjoy it a great deal but we've noticed certain tropes seem to be repeated over and over again. With that in mind we've developed the "A Game of Thrones" drinking game. (For entertainment purposes only). Feel free to send me additional suggestions.

This contains spoilers for all of season 1 and the first 3 episodes of season 2.

Drink when the following occurs:

A character says the word "bastard" (one extra drink for every syllable over two in the word - i.e. ("baaaastard")Cersei Lannister tears up a piece of paper.Cersei Lannister comments that "Ned Stark had a piece of paper".A character gets naked with one fluid motion (bonus drink if said character is male or if you predicted it would happen when character first appeared).You get two characters mixed up. (Bonus drink if you have no idea who the character is but it is clear you should)Ned Stark or one of his…

Geek Gateway Drugs of the 70s and 80s

For most people my age (I'm 40) and older, their gateway drug into fantasy was  the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I was a little bit different, for me it was C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. When I was in kindergarten my family was in the process of moving from upstate New York to Connecticut. During the transitional period my father spent his time in Connecticut while my mother and I lived with my grandparents in Brooklyn, New York.

My mother and grandfather often took me to the Brooklyn Public Library - I think it was the Sheepshead Bay Branch but I could be mistaken. I remember always being drawn the collection of Narnia books they had - I seem to recall they had them on their own special display - though at the time they were a little above my reading level, though I was an early reader.

During that same period and before I got around to reading the Narnia books (which definitely did happen) another geek milestone occurred - the release of Star Wars (Just Star Wars. No Episod…

A Digital Gamer's Toolkit

When my wife and I first moved into our house over ten years ago the house seemed enormous. It was just the two of us, with dreams of starting a family. Our considerable collection of books and my RPG collection barely made a dent in our available space.

Move forward from that point and our family did indeed expand. Pets and then children joined our happy house. And with these additions our once seemingly infinite space began to seem, well, rather finite.

During this time many RPG companies began offering their products in PDF format. Wizards of the Coast for a while made old versions of Dungeons & Dragons available as PDFs but one day they convinced themselves the solution to digital piracy was to pull all their gaming products from online stores (making it impossible to download a legal copy but still possible to download illegal copies - not quite certain how that helped them, but hey...)

When Amazon released their first Kindle I eagerly pre-ordered. And I was quite pleased wi…