Monday, January 9, 2012

It's time to start writing your 4e retroclones!

My prediction, regarding the post D&D IV world, is that all of that radically different stuff (you know, the things that made it "not D&D anymore") will be shed for 5e, resulting in a second wave of reactionary malcontents (like us), the 4e-gnards. Or whatever.

Anyway, now that it's Officially Too Late, I'll mention an idea I had about why 4e was so different from D&D. It's video games, obviously. Most of them take their character advancement rules from D&D--if everybody had spent millions of hours playing Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, like I did, then D&D itself is not interesting anymore, so if it's to be a brand in its own right it needs to be something besides that common DNA that makes up the bulk of video games.

Of course, D&D is much more than moving around the pieces of your character's abilities skill and powers, much more than inventory management, but the all-important exploration, discovery and improvisation aren't as visible looking at the rules. Ironically, I think 4e is lacking in those elements because of all the playing time taken up by the tactical miniatures game at its center.

Whatever your feelings about D&D V, every one of you Blognards should sign up for the mailing list for the open playtest and do what you can to make The New Game a retroclone too!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome to the Year of the d12

(So it begins: With my first post of the year I announce my first game purchase of 20d12 is a used copy of T1 The Village of Hommlet from Amazon. $6.89.)

I don't have a $3 or $4 Wednesday entry for today, but I do have opinions on two gaming related products. First Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. Which, besides being among the inspirations for Gamma World had an RPG (in think) based on it:

My review of the movie, in short: P.U.

I think this movie stinks from top to bottom.  It doesn't work on any level: its simplistic theme amounts to the not-exactly-novel idea that Nazis are bad; it's ugly, of course, but that is Bakshi's style, and there are cartoon nipples on the screen at all times, but even this fails as titillation (pardon the pun) because the movie doesn't, apart from a few coy suggestions, try to do anything sexy with the near-nudity other than flatly display it.

I haven't liked anything I've seen by Bakshi (as a kid I thought his Lord of the Rings was unwatchable, though this essay by Some King's Kent did give me motivation to reconsider it) but this trailer, for another movie I should really have watched by now, does look appealing:

And I have to respect his sentiments as he expressed them at the end of the A.V. Club I linked to above:

"There's no reality to Hollywood. The fees they pay directors are obnoxious, the money they spend on movies could feed entire starving African... I mean, fuck 'em. I made a few bucks and got out. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with those people. They're disgusting people, and you can quote me on that. There's a lot of great talent there, but it's no place I wanted to spend much time. I'd rather spend time with Rembrandt and Goya at home. They're better company than those schmucks who never read Lord Of The Rings."

The second gaming opinion of today is about the GameScience 5-piece Zocchi Pack I bought from Gamestation via Amazon. Remember in my last post when I said I totally didn't have to buy these funky dice . . . The smallest print on the back of the package warns "A mold-point blemish is to be expected on each die as a result of the casting process." And they ain't kidding. One face on the d24 had a lump on it that would seriously affect the die's rollability, which is kind of ironic for a dice company that subtitles itself Precision Gaming Dice and crows endlessly about the "true-ness" of their (rather unattractive and expensive) dice. They do advise you of the mold-point blemishes where you can read it before purchase (I don't believe the message was included in the Amazon listing, however), so that's fair play, but what about the lines that blemish that faces of all the dice? I don't know what causes them or what they're called, but I know I've never seen them on any other dice in 25 years of fiddling with dice on a regular basis. Granted, it's been mostly the same dice during that time, but it was still an unwelcome surprise. Again, I could easily have seen the blemishes before purchase if I had bought them from a store, so that will be my lesson for today: SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDLY LOCAL GAME STORE.