Saturday, August 9, 2008

D&D Insider Bonus Tools

While the primary parts of the D&D insider are not up and running, such as the Virtual Table Top, there are some bonus tools online now.

Bonus Tools

The Encounter Builder looks to be a potentially useful tool.

"It helps you build a list of creatures for an encounter, balanced against the party's level and based on the difficulty you choose. It includes entries for all the monsters in the Monster Manual, plus placeholder entries for traps, hazards, and new monsters, so you can include them, too. It generates a summary of the encounter list, including total XP, difficulty, etc."

I only played around with it for a moment and encountered a few glitches, but nothing major. I think I'm going to be using this for my next game.

For me the other bonus tool is all but useless. The Ability Generator simply comes up with ability scores using the point buy system in the PHB. I and my group prefer to roll them ourselves. Just our personal preference, others might find this tool incredibly useful.

While these bonus tools are a sign that WotC is at least working on their online content, this pretty much amounts to closing the stable door after the warhorse has gotten out. I like many others are losing interest in the online content quickly and unless WotC gets the ball rolling soon D&D insider could turn into an epic fail for the company.

To make matters worse it has been announced that the free preview they have been offering us is only going to last another month or so. I can't say for sure that I won't be suckered into paying for at least a short subscription, to see if they can save this project. However, I am leaning towards no. I just don't think that they can or will have enough material up to make it worth paying for some time. Dragon & Dungeon Magazines just aren't enough. I paid for the print subscriptions for those mags, but I have never been a big supporter for the online versions. I still don't see why we should pay for content we've been getting free on the WotC site for years. While many of us will likely jump on board when the pay site becomes active, I am doubting I will be one of them. At least not until they actually have something to offer.

BSG Prequels

According to there is another Battlestar Galactica prequel in the works. If you are a BSG fan you already know about Caprica, which takes place 50 years before the current series. The newest prequel is, as yet, untitled but will be focused on the Cylon side of things. It takes place prior to the events in the BSG mini-series and is directed by Edward James Olmos. It will air in 2009 after the final 10 episodes of the current series.

Original Article

Friday, August 8, 2008

Revision and New Editions

If you are a gamer I'm pretty sure you know about D&D 4e by now, unless you live under a rock. You are probably also well aware of the bad feelings that have been brought about by this new edition in the gaming community, again unless you haven't come out from under your rock in the past year or so. Gamers have been calling Shenanigans on WotC since before the new editions was even officially announced and though some of us became converts there is still a great deal of anti-4e sentiment floating around. Though I was guilty of the same thing at one point, I have to admit that my change of heart came as a direct result of talking with other gamers. Many of these other gamers played D&D, but the conversations I had with them, mostly online, were not about the grand daddy of gaming, they were about other systems.

Even though D&D is my game of choice I do play other systems on occassion, so I check those boards from time to time and have to admit that the die hard fans of other systems kind of made us D&D fans look bad. You see D&D isn't the only game system that has a revision and/or a new edition for fans to deal with. Hero System, Hackmaster and Legend of the Five Rings have newer versions to be released in the future, or currently on shelves as well.

The guys over at Hero System are currently working on their 6th edition... 6TH!!! I never even got the ins and outs of 5e down pat and then I find they have a new one in the works. Then over at the L5R boards I find that there is a 3.5 version on shelves this summer. Hackmaster is rumored to have 5e in the works and supposedly changing the campaign world as well. The difference between the D&D boards and these other boards is that the fans were behind the changes. Oh sure there was the occasional post bemoaning the new edition, but the majority was pretty positive, many were even excited.

What kind of Bizarro world had I fallen into? What kind of gamers are actually happy that their beloved rules were being revised, revamped or changed in any way shape or form? Realistic gamers whose love for the game, not the rules, keep bringing them back for each new edition, that's who. They view the changes as I eventually came to view 4e, a chance to take something great and make it better. No matter which game you enjoy there is always something that can be improved upon, otherwise there would be no need for house rules. After seeing how these other gamers reacted I began to rethink my position on 4e and decided to give it a chance. Now I am one of the people who admits I actually like 4e.

Don't get me wrong I still feel that WotC did and are still doing a very poor job of promoting and making 4e all it can be, but I actually do like the system. I am still annoyed at the way they openly lied to gamers, I dislike how they've dropped the ball with the online content, and I still want my print version of both Dungeon and Dragon Magazine, but the actual game itself is good. There may be things I miss from 3e, but there are a lot more that I like in 4e.

So maybe it is time we take a cue from our gaming brethren and lighten up. Don't let nostalgia and paranoia get in the way of enjoying D&D. Quit the moaning and groaning, it won't change anything. If you don't want to play 4e, then keep playing the edition that makes you happy. See this for what it is meant to be, a natural evolution of our favorite game. Wotc isn't trying to screw us all over, they are simply trying to keep D&D in step with the times, and keep the company alive by making money. Their job isn't just to keep us older gamers happy, but to make the game interesting for the next generation of gamers, of which there are too few.