Well I don’t know if the word “grand” is appropriate. I’d decided to focus on my political blog for a bit letting this one run fallow for a bit. I love gaming and all sorts of geeky stuff but I also have an intense interest in more “serious” stuff. I still plan on focusing more on that but I do like to have some fun.

So this years gaming has been reasonably stable. We mainly played D&D 4e set in Eberron. I’m of mixed views on 4th edition D&D. From a prep standpoint it is a DM’s dream. It gets away from a trend I was not fond of in the 3.0/3.5 editions of the game – extreme level of detail for NPCs, difficult to make high level opponents on the fly. The 4th edition also made every class very useful at its specific role. That said, I’ve had some fairly major issues. The first is how long combat tends to take. It is quite a bit like a game unto itself. There really is no such thing, at least in my experience, of a quick encounter. The encounters themselves are incredibly fun, but they are a bit too detailed for me. We’re a bunch of dudes in our 30s (I’m pushing 40) who have time to play every other week for 2.5-3 hour sessions so we’re really looking at 2-3 encounters a game session.

We played another chapter in our Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game. That was rather fun, reaching the end of the Mandalorian War. I think Wizards of the Coast did a good job with the Sage Edition of the Star Wars RPG. NPC generation is pretty quick, all characters are pretty useful. You can get a wide variety of characters through multiclassing and prestige classes, though in my experience it is of course possible to overextend your character.

We also had some experience playing the superhero RPG Wild Talents, both in the modern era, and, as it turned out, in the Victorian era. Our first experience was decent though with a few issues. We overused a concept in Wild Talents called “hard dice”. Wild Talents is a dice pool game – you roll a bunch of d10s, hoping both for width (the number of matching values) and height (the actual matched die roll). For example, if you roll 7D and get 1, 2, 2, 2, 7, 9, 9 you have two matched sets – 3×2 (three sets of 2) and 2×9 (two sets of 9). Higher values tend to be more effective (i.e. in combat a 10 is a head shot while lower values are limbs) while width determines initiative, speed, etc. Hard dice are always 10 – meaning our cyborg with a lot of hard dice in combat stats became Mr. Death Blow to the head – which is what the rules intended but the impact of it became more clear through play. In addition to hard dice there are also wiggle dice, which can be set to any value you want. Obviously they are the most effective.

We’ve become quite fond of the One Roll Engine (ORE), the system behind Wild Talents and also used in other games such as:

  • Godlike — an early version of Wild Talents set in World War II)
  • Reign — fantasy gaming with an emphasis on showing how the characters emerge as members and leaders of organizations
  • Monsters and Other Childish Things — Calvin and Hobbes meets Call of Cthulhu
  • A Dirty World — noir style gaming

So what are the plans for next year? A decent amount of superhero gaming I think. I’ve got visions of Lost Lands, the evils of the southern Confederacy, a rising Germany, and Atlantean invasions of London.

As far as fantasy gaming goes… There is 4e. I won’t lie and say that despite my concerns it is a heck of a lot of fun. However, one of my player makes the point that you really need to consider it a new game. And I think he’s right — you can see the evolution of Original D&D -> AD&D -> AD&D 2e -> D&D 3.0 -> D&D 3.5. But 4e, while keeping some commonality, is a pretty big leap, far more than the 2e to 3e one. While using an D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder (effectively a D&D 3.75) are options, I have a hunch that my DMing frustrations with it will quickly rise up. I’d be tempted to use one of the Retro-Clones like Swords & Wizardry and OSRIC which are designed to model Original D&D and AD&D respectively. There is also the possibility of using Reign – we’ve been having a lot of fun with Wild Talents, why not use it for other stuff.

There’s also some science fiction out there. My group probably aren’t Trek style gamers, but we’ve got some Star Wars and Serenity games to resume some day. And there’s the new Doctor Who game coming out.

You know it occurs to me if I were independently wealthy I’d have more time for gaming. Anyone feel like leaving a small (or even large) fortune to me?

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