Monday, April 25, 2011

Gaming with the kids

Since the title of my blog is D&D Dad I thought I would talk a little about the experience of gaming with my oldest son (9 years old) this weekend.

I have played D&D with my son before. Usually it is just the two of us when we play. We did play with some others at Gen Con last year (the Intro D&D session by Wizards of the Coast) and we did start a game with his cousins (teenagers) a while back (but that didn't go so well). However this weekend I brought him to my bi-weekly 4e D&D game.

It was lots of fun. He really gets into the game and into the character. The other players (adults in their 20s, 20s, and 40s) had to reign him in from time-to-time as he began to implement one of his "plans" without agreement from the rest of the group, but from DM perspective it was a lot of fun to watch. At the end of the night since he wasn't going to playing with us again (I usually go straight from work so logistically it wouldn't work for him to play every two weeks) he decides that his character would stab himself and be done.

I really need to find a way to play with him in a group more because D&D is A LOT more fun as a group activity than solo or with just two people. It can still be fun that way but just not as much fun.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Good to be the King . . .

I have a couple things that I want to discuss with this post so bear with me if it seems disjointed.

First, I saw the Game of Thrones last night on HBO. It was a good show and I am looking forward to seeing more. I have read some of the first book in the series (I plan to finish eventually -- I promise) and the funny thing is the stuff I read was pretty much covered by last night's episode. So I am looking forward to see where the story goes. I am just happy to see a non-cheesy representation of the fantasy genre. That doesn't happen much.

Second, I started listening to a new gaming podcast: The Pathfinder Chronicles podcast. Obviously it focuses on the Pathfinder RPG. I have never played Pathfinder (I played a little D&D 3.5 in 2009) but I have the hardcover books and would like to try it out someday. The podcast was enjoyable. Well, I should say it is enjoyable because I haven't finished the first episode yet. Actually I started with a episode #12 to try it out, but I plan to go back to the beginning and catch-up on all the back episodes. The podcast is 4 hours long. That is quite a feat for them to put together, but it is also quite a feat to listen to. It will take a while for me to do the catch-up.

Most of the episode was taking about the second book in the Pathfinder Kingmaker adventure path (or AP for short). It sounds interesting. In the tradition of the D&D Companion set and the 2e AD&D Birthright setting the book has rules for the players build and manage a Barony/Kingdom. The fifth book in the path is suppose to introduce mass combat rules (for which I am always interested). I will have to check this AP out.

Pulling these two items together, at first glance it sounds like the Kingmaker AP from Pathfinder would be great for creating a Game of Thrones-type campaign, but I will have to see more of both to see if this is really true.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conquest of Nerath

I have been really looking forward to the Conquest of Nerath Boardgame from Wizards of the Coast this summer. I have always been interested in integrating board/wargames with D&D. This game will place in the core 4e D&D world (unofficially known at the Points of Light setting) and will be a struggle for power after the collapse of the Empire of Nerath. TSR tried this a few time with DL11 Dragons of Glory, X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield, and the Greyhawk Wars boxed set.

Of these 3 I have played DL11, but never integrated it with the campaign (our Dragonlance campaign back in the 80s was already through book 2 before the product was released). With Conquest I finally have a chance to integrate a wargame with an RPG campaign. The basic idea is that we (the RPG group) would play the game and have the results of the game impact the RPG campaign and have the stuff the party does in the RPG campaign affect the wargame.

There are basically three ways I can see to do this.

1) Play the game and have the situation at the end of the game be the starting point for the campaign.

2) Have the war going on at the same time as the campaign. For example, one turn in the wargame could be a month of RPG time.

3) Having the RPG campaign create the initial setup of the wargame.

Conquest should be the best produced and polished of this type of product since its primary purpose will be to be a wargame. The others (DL11, X10, and and GW) were RPG supplements first and wargames second.

Also, Conquest will have an actual boardgame board (the others had paper boards) and plastic miniature to represent the armies (the others all had small cardboard chits). This is definitely THE D&D product I am most looking forward to this year, and I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Relooking at Basic.

I have been rethinking my basic idea. I have been thinking that maybe I should focus on simplifying the 4e Essentials line while keeping the core rules intact. So my goal would be to not change anything that is in the basic rules book (i.e. Rules Compendium) and to modify the classes from players books (i.e Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms) with a focus right now on the former.

Right now my 9 yo son and I are playing D&D together. I love that but standard 4e (even the Essentials version) is too complex for him to run a whole party himself. My first idea was to leave the mage class alone and simplify the other classes so that the mage could be the central character (and more complex) and the other characters could be secondary/sidekick characters (and could be simpler). I believe the RPG Ars Magica has a similar party setup (though I have never played it).

The idea to have the mage as the central character is because (1) my son is really into Harry Potter right now and loves wizards and (2) I like to keep wizards a little more complex with spells such as Sleep and Web and Shield etc.

My current thought is to make the non-mage characters companion characters (using the rules from the 4e DMG 2) and present their stats in the monster stat block format. So that is where I am going now. I plan to take the party he created for Basic D&D and convert them to 4e using this mage primary character idea.

The first question someone may have is why not just stick with Basic D&D? While I like Basic D&D I really love 4e and that is the edition I want to play right now. It's hard to give up what I see as significant improvements in the game and play with inferior rules (okay maybe not inferior but different than I like).

So I plan to do the conversion this weekend (assuming I can find the time) and see how it goes.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm Back!

It's been a crazy week. Since I last posted we had our bi-weekly 4e game and then my son and then my wife got sick. So it has been hard to find time to post, but here I am.

The 4e game from last Friday went well. It was only our second sessions but it looks to be a good group and I think everyone is having fun. Since there are only 3 players (and 2 the first session) everyone is running 2 characters. Once we get another player or two then we can go back to 1 character per player. The story and the world is slowly emerging. I have a general idea about where the story will go and I am working on details. I won't share in case my players find their way here.

I was thinking about getting into a 2e game on the other Fridays I don't play 4e but I don't know if I can commit to another regular game. Maybe a once a monther. I would like to play an older edition of D&D eventually (and I have never played 2e) and I hope to work it into the schedule someday.

I am still thinking about the Basic 4e version I talked about last time and have some new ideas for that, but I will talk about that at a later point.

That's it for now. See you again soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Basic 4e D&D

One of my issues with 4e is that their isn't a truly basic version of the game. 1e had great basic versions of the game by Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer and each of these were roughly compatible with the 1e game. 2e had a couple version of the basic game including the much loved Rules Cyclopedia.

Since 2e there really hasn't been a true basic version of D&D that was compatible with the in-print version. I am working on a basic version right of 4e that would be roughly compatible with the main in-print of 4e. Here is a link to what I have come up with.

Basic 4e D&D

Here are some highlights to my basic version:

1) It is not as tactically complex as 4e. In fact, it could easily be played with or without a grid (like previous editions).

2) I have removed the cleric class. The main thing that has separated the cleric from the other classes (in my mind) has been healing. Take that away and the cleric is mostly a warrior that can cast spells, and the healing isn't needed anymore due to the healing surge mechanic in 4e. See my multiclassing section below on more about this.

3) Feats aren't used, Instead it used Training Slots which are like feats but much more limited and easier to use. Basically training slots let you become trained in a skill, get armor and weapon proficiencies, and become Ritual Caster.

4) In 4e attack and defensive bonuses come from several different sources (e.g. 1/2 level bonus, feats, stat increases, feats, magic items) that essentially gives a character a +1 bonus to attack and defenses each level. So this version does away with those other things and just give everyone a +1 bonus to those thing every level.

5) I struggled with multiclassing a a little bit. I like it to be there by I wanted a simple system. The old basic versions didn't have it, but AD&D (both 1e and 2e) and 3e had it. The AD&D version was okay but I never really liked the 3e version. The 3e version does allow maximum flexibility but it never felt right to me (e.g. if a 5th level fighter chooses to take a level of fighter at 6th level now all of a sudden he can use every martial weapon and wear any armor -- that was twoo much of a jump for me). The 4e version is decent with its piece-by-piece version, but the 4e system requires the use of feats.

In my basic game multiclassing works similar to the 4e version. The idea is to use Training Slots to become trained in thing another class automatically gets. For example, if you want to be a fighter/wizard you can do it a couple different ways. Either start as a fighter and use Training Slots to become trained in Arcana and Ritual Casting, or start as a wizard and use Training Slots to get weapon and armor proficiencies. Either way you will never become a true member of the second class but you acquire some of its skills.

You can use this method to have a cleric-like character also. You can use your Training Slots to train in Religion and Ritual Casting and say your abilities come from your god (power sources are left out of the basic rules and are used for flavor/fluff).

I think having the flexibility to train in any skill with Training Slot allows a lot of options to create many types of characters.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions for my Basic 4e D&D.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back to Basics

First of all, I have a follower. Welcome aboard! Now to the post.

As I mentioned earlier, every edition has it's strengths and weaknesses. Basic D&D has simplicity as it's strength. On Saturday morning this weekend my son (who is 9) asked if we could play D&D that day. I said sure we would play that afternoon. I really didn't do any prep for this. I just pulled out a copy of my Moldvay Basic D&D book and an introductory adventure (B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond), and printed off a few character sheets. In minutes we were off and running. We had a lot of fun. We played for a while Saturday afternoon and then again on Sunday. My 5 year old son played for a while but he got bored and went off to do something else after a while.

I would like to keep this game going for a while. I have played D&D with my son before but he haven't had a sustained campaign before. I would like my son to experience a continuing campaign and see his characters (he is running a whole party) rise in level and power. I am looking forward to it.

On a down note I really haven't had any luck finding people for my AD&D game now. But that's fine, I have a few other things going on gaming-wise right now. Here is my list:

1) The Basic game with my son.
2) A Bi-weekly 4e game I am DMing.
3) An online game with some friends from high school (using the Runequest RPG system).

I guess this is good for now. However, I will keep looking for the AD&D game.