Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble

As I have always freely admitted I buy too many books. I don't get crazy with it - I consider my options, get the best price, and I read everything I buy. I like to go in a bookstore, walk around, poke through the stacks, read the cover blurbs, and every once in awhile I'll just take a chance on something that looks interesting. Sometimes I make a mistake, but for the most part I'm happy with my purchases.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Delves

It's been 2+ months since my last post. Mark is running our Sunday night games (read more here), plus I am back to full-time IT work, so my schedule has been a little topsy-turvy. It's nice getting a regular check again - I was finally replaced my ~9 year old desktop pc - but as I had mentioned previously with a schedule shift and not otherwise engaged in any DnD activities, I just have not been in a writing mood.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Post-Rapture Blog Post

It's been a few weeks since my last post. I've started a new job and am taking the train downtown to Chicago (and back) everyday so my schedule is obviously in transition. Mark is doing a great job blogging our Sunday night DnD sessions (here). I am not participating in DnD Encounters this summer, but if you want to keep up with these sessions I suggest following them here. Scott is preparing a 4E Ravenloft adventure for us that we will attempt when Mark's dungeon is completed and I am hoping that later this summer I can get him to put together some notes on updating pre-4e Ravenloft modules to 4e. Maybe some of my Gencon attending friends will be kind enough to provide a trip report in August as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Character Builder Update ... Not So Fast There Partner

Wizards is releasing The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond boxed set tomorrow (05/17). There was a DDI CB update scheduled for tomorrow as well, one that would coordinate the latest tool updates and fixes with the release of the new material from the boxed set. As of last month Wizards finally gotten caught up by being able to provide updates to the CB tool in coordination with releases of new products and after several false starts appeared to finally be back on something resembling an actual release schedule.

Monday, May 9, 2011

DDE Season 4 Post-Mortem

With Season 4 (March of the Phantom Brigade) of Dungeons and Dragons Encounters (DDE) now completed I wanted to take a moment to collect my thoughts and write a review. I had previously participated one night during the Dark Sun season (DDE Season 3) at a Comic Connections in Oswego IL, but with job and family situations lining up as they did I was able to participate in all thirteen Wednesday night sessions of Season 4. Beyond that I have played DnD for 25+ years, almost exclusively with the same group of people, so it's always good to play something new with a different set of players every once in awhile.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 13 - The Finale (05/04/2011)

For the night of the finale to season 4 at The Gaming Goat we had a total of nine players in attendance. With this number of players it was decided to break into two groups so regular DM Jack ran with David, Dustin, Don and myself, and our occasional DM Steve ran with Kyle, Danny, Zach, and Daniel. Since tonight was to be the finale the groups were eager to get started so the maps were quickly placed and the evening's fun began.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 12 (04/27/2011)

The weekly encounters group at The Gaming Goat met this week with eager anticipation. All knew an encounter with a dragon was in the offing, but tonight the plan was to visit the room on the other side of the hallway and to not go down the stars to the supposed dragon's lair. It should be easy! Don, Steve, Daniel, Danny, Kyle, and Dustin ... uh-oh, we've got a problem - no magic users tonight. OK, maybe not so easy. Let's open the door anyway ...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 11 (04/20/2011)

Another series of college visits and a head cold has rendered another late posting for this past week's recap. We had seven players, the regulars that have been present from the beginning (Dave, Don, Steve, and myself) and the might-as-well-be-regulars-now (Zach, Kyle, and Dustin). We had reached the ancient dwarven monastery last week and had fought our way in, but we are also aware that an always dangerous dragon lay in our future.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heroes of Shadow and DDI Update

Heroes of Shadow is due to be released this coming Tuesday (04/19/2011). The book goes back to the original hard cover and 8.5 x 11 size format of the DnD core books, but the content is to be a mix of original 4E and Essentials data. The next update for the on-line DDI Character Builder (CB) is to be released the same day and is supposed to include all of the data provided in Heroes of Shadow (read here). I have not seen any news concerning updates to the Adventure Tools and the monster builder tool. The next release of a new monster book, Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, is due to be released in June, so hopefully we'll see significant updates and fixes before then.

DDE Season 4 Session 10 (04/13/2011)

After having had eleven players present last week at The Gaming Goat we were back down to only seven players this week. Our DM, Jack, has been doing a great job of working with the ebb and flow of players who show up, including making sure players who are being introduced to the game are having fun and getting a proper education at the same time. He does it all in good humor while successfully ignoring the distractions of DM'ing in an otherwise busy store.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 9 (04/06/2011)

DnD Encounters ran on Wednesday evening at The Gaming Goat and a good time was had by all. The regulars were present per usual, Anthony joined us as a first-timer, plus we had several of our part-timers join us this week, so with eleven people present the decision was made to split the group into two parts. After a brief discussion to ensure the two groups had an appropriate split of character types a night of double barreled fun was ensured. After the usual set-up with maps and miniature selection the two DM's (Jack and Steve) began to read through the adventure set-up, often in unison.

Friday, April 1, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 8 (03/30/2011)

Despite making college visits to Iowa earlier in the week and to Michigan later in the week I was still able to make it to The Gaming Goat for the DDE session #8. Most of the usual suspects were present, but several of our part-timers were absent this night. Two newcomers, Kyle and Danny, joined us this week and performed admirably. We had printed out a nice color map of Castle Inverness last week and we knew looking forward to be able to use it again this week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 7 (03/23/2011)

There were only six of us tonight at The Gaming Goat so we did not have to break the group up into two different tables. There was not a real game map provided for this encounter, so we sourced the provided picture of the town into a spreadsheet, stretched and pulled the map into an appropriate size, and then printed and taped up a game map from there. We will apparently need that map next week as well. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New DDI Monster Builder Tool Released

As promised Wizards officially released the new web-based Adventure Tools yesterday, which specifically meant the new Monster Builder tool (the announcement can be read here). The announcement seemed to include as much text about what the new tool wasn't as opposed to what it was. Regardless, you can find the link to the new tool - and to the still available to be downloaded but never to be updated Adventure Tools - here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 6 (03/16/2011)

Another excellent night of fun at The Gaming Goat. We were missing Jorie and Dave (uh-oh, our mage!) tonight but two new players, Daniel and Devon, joined us for session six of the fourth season of DnD Encounters. The other issue of note was that this was our first session after having changed the clock for daylights savings time - it was kind of odd to start playing when it was still light outside.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Character Builder Updated (03/15)

Wizards announced today that the updated character builder tool was released. I had posted previously (here) that the update was to have been released a week ago, but apparently Wizards found a serious printing problem and opted to hold it back for another week. The Wizards formal release announcement can be read here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 5 (03/09/2011)

Another Wednesday night at The Gaming Goat and another good night of DnD fun. The regulars (DM Jack, Roger, Dave, Don, Robin, and Steve) were all present along with those that have missed a few of the sessions (Tim, Jorie, and Dustin), plus we picked up another first timer (Zach) last night. That meant we had nine players, so Robin decided to sit out for the night. Eight players would still be a challenge though, but after some discussion we decided to run as one table for tonight since there really wasn't a second DM that was prepared to run for the evening. At least two of our players announced they would miss next week, so we'll play it by ear for now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

News and Links

This is GM Weekend (Friday, March 4 though Monday, March 7). Online game stores are offering most of their PDF formatted products at 25% off. I have purchased from rpgnow.com and goodmangames.com in the past, but I know there are others. If there was something out there you ever wanted that was obscure, hard to find, out-of-date, out-of-print, or just long forgotten then this is a way to fill out your library with a little savings included.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 4 (03/02/2011)

Our mage was back this week, but our druid was sick. A new player, Dustin, joined us and played the rogue. The DM recapped last week for us - we had entered the courtyard to ensure it was safe, had been attacked by three ocher jelly's, but by the end of the night had defeated the jelly's and had inspected the four crumbling turrets in each corner of the runs of Castle Inverness.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 3 (02/23/2011)

We were missing our mage this night but we added Jorie, who played the Elven Rogue Keira. The game play this night did run a bit long - OK, it ran really long. We got off to a late start to begin with, some of the players were late, and I asked too many questions, but our DM patiently led us through the encounter and we had a good time. Also, one of the players had rolled up a Druid character with a wolf familiar - the wolf turned out to be very useful during the encounter, but we did have to consult the rulebook several times to ensure character/familiar actions were being played correctly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Essentials Rules Point

For my 100th blog post (100! woo-hoo!) I wanted to walk through a wording and rules issue that came up at last week's DDE session. While the issue caused no rancor, the wording of the powers seemed a bit obtuse at the time so the DM and I agree to go with it as was last week and to then discuss it further outside the game session. I'm fine with that. I'm sure I played it wrong to begin with, but the rules as written severely diminish the power below the way I originally read and envisioned it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DDE Season 4 Session 2 (02/16/2011)

Wednesday night at the Gaming Goat and all of the players from last week were back this week, plus Tim joined us to play one of the pre-gen characters (Valenae, the Eladrin Cleric Warpriest). Besides myself, Steve and Robin had made up their own characters via the Essentials Character Builder tool, although we all chose to build the same type of character that we played during week 1.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Google Blogger Tool

I also wanted to talk about Google Blogger, the tool I use to host my blog entries. I've been using Blogger for a year plus now I wanted to give a review of it as a tool. I am doing this in a separate post from my Post-Mortem note because it really is a different enough of a topic.

Thunderspire Labyrinth Post-Mortem

After having spent the last year completing the Keep on the Shadowfell (KotS) and Thunderspire Labyrinth (TL) adventures our Sunday night DnD group is going to do a 2E adventure with Mark as the DM (here). After that Scott is working on converting his 2E Ravenloft adventures to a 4E format and we will likely do that next. We will probably finish this adventure triad at some point and do the Pyramid of Shadows (PoS) adventure. I have looked it over and I am looking forward to running it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dungeon and Dragons Encounters - Session 1 (02/09/2011)

I participated in the initial session of the fourth edition of DnD Encounters (DDE) Wednesday night. Jack, our DM, provided the laminated character sheets, provided each of the players with two packs of Fortune Cards, Steve had a plethora of miniatures for us to pick from (plus he lent me a set of dice to use because I forgot mine), and after some general discussion about the rules we got started.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dungeons and Dragons Encounters

DnD Encounters (DDE) is a Wizards sponsored event that is scheduled to run on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-8:00. They just completed their third session this past week and the next session - March of the Phantom Brigade - starts Wednesday (02/09/2011). I attended a single session this past summer when a Dark Sun module was being played and I enjoyed it quite a bit (read here), so I thought I'd make a commitment to see if I can do a whole ~20 week session.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Tower of Mysteries (3, Pt 2) (02/06/2011)

We were unable to wrap up Thunderspire Labyrinth last week but the completion of the final battle seems to be close at hand. Can the party defeat the Bronze Warder? What other secrets may yet lay in the Tower of Mysteries? Can the party then find their way home? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Tower of Mysteries (3, Pt 1) (01/30/2011)

Having cleaned out the second level of the Tower of Mysteries left our adventurers bloodied and beaten. This had been their toughest and most brutal encounter to date. But worse, one of the Enigma's of Vecna had escaped via the teleportation circle. The party could only assume he had gone ahead to warn Paldemar of their presence, but of more immediate concern was the need to get in a short rest, get some healing, and explore the rest of level 2 before moving on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

D&D Experience 2011

Wizards is putting on the D&D Experience 2011 convention this weekend in Fort Wayne IN. It is obviously targeted towards D&D games and gamers, although apparently many gamers from the east coast have been unable to get out because of the snow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Tower of Mysteries (2) (01/23/2011)

As we ended last weeks session instead of finishing the encounter at hand and taking a much needed short rest the characters instead used the teleportation circle to exit the encounter, knowing not where they would emerge. For game play purposes we played out last week with the players that remained on level one of the tower, until they all had exited the room. We therefore started this week with the players, one by one, as they emerged wherever the teleportation circle took them.

Character Builder(s) - Updated

When Wizards released their new web based character builder (CB) tool last fall I played a little with it the first day it came out, but I suspect that most of the DnD world was doing the same. Basic network performance and system overload seemed to be the order of the day, it since it wasn't a necessary tool for me at the time I arbitrarily decided to just let it sit for a month or so. This would allow the initial surge to die down, allow Wizards to fix whatever bugs did come up, and then once things calmed down a little I would try it again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tower of Mysteries (1) (01/16/2011)

The entire party ("entire" because David was indeed able to join us tonight after all) paused for a moment before stepping into the circle of magical runes in front of them. Gear was checked, belts were tightened, and Miave assured everyone that this teleportation circle was indeed the way to the Tower of Mysteries and to the evil mage Paldemar. Stepping into the circle might be easy, but what lay beyond?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maldrick Scarmaker (01/09/2011)

Last week, after having defeated the guardian, a young green dragon, the party finally entered the real inner chamber and met Maldrick Scarmaker, the gnoll leader. The party also discovered the two missing slaves, which Maldrick had been slowly draining their life force as part of his evil ritual. Maldrick had several bodyguards willing to fight to the death for him and when we left off last week the battle was well underway.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Into the Inner Sanctum (01/02/2011)

When the group ended our 2010 sessions we left off in a face-to-face battle with a young green dragon. As 2011 started all the players were present and anticipated defeating the dragon and hopefully having the secrets of the Well of Demons revealed.