Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog Update

As my reviews evolve and I provide more of the gamer take on the Supplement, I'm going to change the way these get posted, eventually I see having a full supplement review taking an entire week or more to write. With a separate Review summary.

I have been writing more and more in depth reviews, so it's only natural that they are posted over an entire week.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Epic Review - Ultimate Combat Part 2.1 (archetypes)

In the second part of this review, I'll be covering the many archetypes and class options in Ultimate Combat.

Alchemists don't get a lot in this book, just a few discoveries, and two archetypes. Some of the discoveries are great though, giving nice variety between the immolation and breath weapon bombs, also explosive missiles is fun for the archer/gunner types. Nauseating flesh is an interesting discovery if you end up fighting purple worms a lot. Also included are poison conversion and siege bomb. The two rage archetypes, are the Beastmorph and the Ragechemist, both nice combat oriented archetypes, though the ragechemist needs a great INT to offset the penalties from the greater strength increases. Beastmorph grants access to beastshape abilities while under mutagen effects.

Being Ultimate combat, it's only fitting that barbarians gain lots of new toys. 32 new rage powers, including 3 totem based chains, dragon, hive and world serpent. There are also some nice upgrades to existing rage powers, bleeding blow to add bleed damage to powerful blow; greater ground breaker (ground breaker), lethal accuracy (surprise accuracy) and greater guarded life (guarded life). Though I think my favorite new rage ability is the eater of magic rage power, which give a second save and possible temporary HP.

The new archetypes range from the Heavy armor wearing Armored Hulk to the Wild Rager. The Armored Hulk I'm a bit leary of, it seems a little too powerful, granting heavy armor proficiency, while eventually retaining full speed at the cost of fast movement, and uncanny dodge lines. The Scared Rager is an interesting archetype especially for people who like body modification in real life. I can see many people playing Dwarven or Half-Orc Scared Ragers. The Sea Reaver is one of my new favorite NPC archetypes, Conan's reavers!! The The Titan Mauler brings back monkey grip albeit without the brokeness. The True Primitive is the classic illiterate barbarian, with a specific armor and proficiency list for a Caveman, I think I'll make one named Geico. Urban Barbarian, interesting mix, they lose medium armor proficiency but get a rage that doesn't cause AC penalties. The Wild Rager...and behold the Frenzied Barbarian returns...not fan of the PC Killer barbarian.

Three new options for bards. The archaeologist, daredevil and dervish dancer. The archaeologist is nice, giving up some of the performance abilities for some roguishness, part bard, part rogue, I like it, and already plan on making a certain whip toting archaeologist icon. The daredevil and dervish dancer are combat bards, replacing knowledge skills with more combat oriented abilities. I can see lots of halfling bard dervish dancers in the future with the dervish blade feat from the Inner Sea Guide. Strength won't matter so much when you're scimitar does d4+4 or 5 and a hefty 18+ crit range. This is really effective at 8th level with Razor's Kiss to have improved critical while using his battle dance. At 12th level, the Dervish Dancer gains Dance of Fury, allowing a full attack while making a move action, and being able to attack at multiple points along the way. I like all these bard options and I can easily see myself playing them.

3 new orders are presented, though I feel the Order of the Tome, probably should have been in Ultimate Magic as they gain the ability to cast from scrolls. The Order of the Seal is the guardian type, similar to the protectors of the grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This cavalier option will make a nice NPC option using the keeper ability.

The 8 new archetypes vary from Beast Rider to the Strategist. The Beast Rider gives up heavy armor for a more powerful exotic mount. The Emissary gains mounted combat as a bonus feat, followed by Mobility, Trick Riding, and Mounted Skirmisher, he's mobile both in the saddle and out of the saddle. The Gendarme is another mounted master, but does not come fully to power until 20th level when he becomes a charging terror, causing triple damage (quad dmg with a lance) and max damage if he criticals, luckily the two archetypes can't be combined. The honor guard is the cavalier bodyguard, pretty simple archetype. The Luring cavalier is interesting, as it is a ranged specialist, allowing the cavalier to challenge at range, and gain ranged attack bonuses. The Musketeer is the first of the archetypes which grant weapon proficiency firearms to the class, in addition to a gifted firearm and nice abilities. The Standard Bearer is the bannerman, one thing it does is just switch the banner and mount abilities. Then he gains nice party bonuses to his allies. The strategist actually makes teamwork feats worthwhile at 4th level when he gains Drill Instructor, granting up to 4 allies use of one his teamwork feats. As I've said, I'm not a huge Cavalier fan, thus I'm not super excited to attempt any of these archetypes, though in my GMing I can see some of them being used.

Combat oriented clerics are presented in this book. The first is the crusader, at the cost of a domain AND one fewer spell each level, he gains access to a slew of bonus feats and the ability to cast a group heal or buff (though at a cost of a slot 3 levels higher, just like a mass spell.) There's a typo on this one, it says you gain a bonus feat at 1st and 5th and every 5 levels, max 6, but at 1st, 5th, 10th 15th and 20th, that's only 5. I'll never use this archetype as a PC. NPC....probably. The Divine Strategist loses a domain, then instead of channel, they gain some initiative bonuses. This archetype falls short, I don't like it. Evangelist lose medium and shield proficiencies, and of course gain perform as a class skill. They gain a partial bardic performance ability at the cost of reduced channeling. I could see using this class. It's not bad...Evangelist of Asmodeus...HAH! The Merciful Healer trades channel utility and his second domain for the ability to remove conditions with their channel, at 8th they get to reroll any 1s rolled on a channel, NICE! Of all the cleric archetypes, I think I like the Merciful Healer the most, it doesn't lose more than it gains. A Fighter/Evangelist Hellknight would be kind of fun though.

Druids gain 4 new archetypes, but 3 are just new shaman types, the Ape, Bat and Boar Shaman. I really like the shamen archetypes, though I prefer the Saurian from Ultimate Magic most. The World Walker is a Ranger/Druid hybrid of sorts, gaining favored terrains in lieu of trackless step and nature's lore. Then at 9th they get to teleport between trees. I'm surprised there's not a more combat oriented shapeshifter archetype in this book.

Star Trek Enterprise

So, during this project I've been working on I've been watching Star Trek Enterprise. It's a great series. I really enjoyed the Andorian and Tellurite race expansions. The 3rd season's Xindi episodes were kinda cool. The Dr. Soong and the Augment episodes were AWESOME. I loved Brent Spiner as Data/Lore and seeing him play Dr. Soong again was just great.

If I were going to play in a Star Trek game I think this would be the era I'd like to play in.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Looking forward to...Far West

If you aren't familiar with Far West watch the video I posted yesterday and read up on what's already written.

So I am really excited about this project. A Wildwest/Wuxia Mix-up. Remembering back to Deadlands, when the Maze supplement came out, it had the little grey book in it, with the Chinese Martial Arts in it. The Wild West as it could have been without all the racism.

As a Martial Artist who's studied 4 styles, including 2 styles of kung fu, and a steampunk fan, this is a setting that has everything I love in it. Can't wait to see it in print.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So jumped on the kickstarter for this. Even getting the Prosperity town map with papercraft buildings for every building in town for the low low kickstart of $10!

Watch the Video.

Thank you all so very, very much. Honestly, I have no words right now. I'm absolutely stunned. Not only did we raise 986% of our target, but we shattered the existing Kickstarter record for Hobby Games.

Tomorrow, I'll have a special message for you from the Core Development Team.

Starting on Monday, I'll start contacting each of you to get the needed information and arrangements for your rewards.

Tonight? Celebration, I think. For all of us.

Your Kung-fu is MIGHTY, people. No lie.

Gareth-Michael Skarka
25 August 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Epic Review - Ultimate Combat Part 1

This is a review of the Ultimate Combat for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as published by Paizo, under the OGL.

With 3 20 level classes to cover in addition over two hundred feats, this will be a 2 or 3 part review. Without further adieu....the review:

From Paizo's Page:
Seize the initiative and chop your foes to pieces with this exhaustive guide to the art of martial combat in this exciting new rulebook for the smash-hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, suitable for players and Game Masters alike!
This comprehensive 256-page hardcover reference reveals the martial secrets of the Pathfinder RPG rules like never before! Tons of new tricks and techniques for combat-oriented character classes put a sharp edge on your weapons and a sure step in your tactics, ranging from new barbarian rage powers, new cavalier orders, tons of new rogue talents, and more than 60 new archetypes for nearly every Pathfinder RPG character class, including spellcasters like wizards and clerics.
Ultimate Combat also introduces three new Pathfinder RPG classes: the ninja, samurai, and gunslinger! The ninja blends the subterfuge of the rogue with high-flying martial arts and assassination techniques. The samurai is an unstoppable armored warrior who lives by a strong code of honor—with or without a master. The gunslinger combines the fighter’s martial prowess with a new grit mechanic that allows her to pull off fantastic acts with a pistol or rifle. All this plus tons of new armor and weapons, a complete treatment of firearms in the Pathfinder RPG, a vast array of martial arts, finishing moves, vehicle combat, duels, and new combat-oriented spells for every spellcasting class in the game!
    Ultimate Combat includes:
  • New player character options for 14 Pathfinder RPG base classes, including alchemist discoveries, barbarian rage powers, cavalier orders, combat-cleric archetypes, animal shaman druids, new fighter archetypes like gladiator and armor master, inquisitor archetypes like witch-hunter or spellbreaker, combat-themed magus arcana, monk archetypes based on mastery of martial arts, new paladin archetypes like angelic warrior, ranger archetypes like big game hunter and trapper, new rogue tricks, and wizard archetypes like the gunmage
  • The ninja, samurai, and gunslinger, brand-new 20-level alternate classes specially designed to get the most out of combat
  • Hundreds of new combat-oriented feats including martial arts feat trees, finishing moves, and combination feats
  • In-depth overviews on a variety of combat-related topics, such as armor, Asian weapons, duels, fighting schools, guns, siege weapons, and more
  • A complete system covering vehicle combat, including wagons, boats, airships, and more
  • Tons of optional combat rules like called shots, armor as damage reduction, and new ways to track character health
  • …and much, much more!
This book promises a LOT. But if you're expecting your two-handed fighter who already does massive damage with every hit to get even more power, this isn't where to look. Ultimate Combat yes, but other aspects.

Part 1 will cover the new classes.

First Glance: The cover art grabs you right away, another great Wayne Reynolds cover. Flipping through the book, I see lots of new options, Eastern Options, from weapons to armor. A New Base class: The gunslinger, and two alt classes, the ninja and the samurai.

Main Review:
Chapter 1: Classes
First and foremost is the Gunslinger. The most anticipated and yet hated class in the book. I personally love the class. I don’t think the guns themselves do quite enough damage, but let’s cover the class first. The class starts with the Gunsmith feat, which helps alleviate the excessive cost of ammunition in early firearms era. The class is based on the fighter, but with a few changes. 4+int skill points, light armor, and of course proficiency in firearms. Grit and deeds, this is what makes the Gunslinger. Deeds are a type of talent powered by the wisdom based grit. Used in various circumstances to perform cinematic stunts, everything from the gunslinger’s dodge, to the utility shot to scoot an unattended a hat… At 3rd and every 4 levels after gunslingers gain access to more powerful deeds.
Gunfighters get bonus feats and gun training similar to a fighter. Guntraining gets a damage bonus equal to their DEX bonus for one type of firearm per advance. Nimble grants a +1 dodge bonus while wearing no or light armor at +1/4 levels beyond 2nd.

This is a great class, and with the additional archetypes allows much more variation. While it's not for everyone it is a solid class.

OK, so you can't have an Asian themed game without ninjas...well, you can't but it's not really the same. this is one of the hotly debated class changes. Some felt the ninja could be easily done with just rogue talents. To a certain extent, this could have been done. But, I prefer seeing an alternate class, with ki. The ninja is an alternate class, this it counts AS a rogue, which means no Rogue-Ninjas. There is some play between the two classes as a rogue may take ninja tricks and a ninja may take rogue tricks, further blurring the line between the two classes.

I like the class, and in one of my Play-by-post games I'm going to get to see one in action.

Samurai are an alternate Cavalier class. I'm not usually a cavalier fan personally. I'd definitely play a samurai before I'd play a cavalier, as I like resolve more than tactician. In addition, the honorable stand and weapon expertise abilities are more along my play styles. Last Stand is an especially cool ability making the samurai nigh unstoppable once per day. Weapons deal minimum damage except on criticals, and they cant be killed by by opponents that are not the target of his challenge. Lastly samurai get an order just like cavaliers. (Note, the samurai really feels like an archetype. and perhaps should have been written as one.)

Sadly neither ninja, nor samurai receive archetypes in this book, though the gunslingers got four.

In part 2 I will be covering the archetypes. So it's more a part 1.5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Palladium Conversions

I remember back in the old days when I first saw the Palladium Role-playing game. I remember paging through it and thinking, wow, this is really cool. I remember showing Doug how there was an Armor Rating and Damage Reduction for armor. It was one of my early introductions to non-Vancian magic, and the Summoners!! Man that was cool. I of course bought it. I think this was after I finally had a job, so it was my own money not just allowance.

Then, 1989...RIFTS!!! I instantly fell in love with had everything and I became an avid collector. Until I finally got some friends to play it. Combat bogged down to attrition of MDC. It happens when you have weapons that do 1d6x10 MD, versus armor that has 700MDC. That's a lot of hits...especially if you're rolling crappy. There's also the slight issue of a single laser beam completely obliterating a brick and mortar 5 story library because its an SDC structure. While I realize it's important to differentiate light armored stuff versus heavily armored. An MDC weapons shouldn't obliterate a large SDC structure. Blow a hole in it, sure, destroy

Perhaps it was because I used Robotech as my entry point into Rifts. (Long Range Patrol encounters a Rift which pulls them to the parallel Earth. They had an Alpha-Beta, full loaded).

To this day I still love the fluff of RIFTS, it's some of the most imaginative writing out there. I just wish Kevin would allow players to work together online with conversions. I know he feels it's the best system out there, but many disagree with him. If Kevin allowed others to do online conversions to other systems or even put out conversion books himself. I just know that he'd sell a lot more books!!

Ultimate Combat incoming!!!

I should be posting Part 1 on Wednesday. Like Ultimate Magic this will be a multi-part review.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nostalgic Interlude - Star Frontiers

Not a lot of time today, too many irons in the fire. So I'll just wax nostalgic for a moment.

I remember when I first saw Star Frontiers on the Shelf, just that image on the front was enough to catch me, I was always a fan of Elmore's art regardless, so that epic Sci-Fi scene was I brought it home with my allowance money, cracked open the box and started checking everything out. I still remember the names of the alien races 20+ years later without having to look them up. The monkey-like Yazirians, the wholly alien mantis race Vrusk, and the bloblike Dralasites. Then the enemy race, the Sathar, with their creepy double pupils.

I remember getting Zebulon's guide and all it's techy goodies. I of course also got the Villains of Volturnus choose your own adventure book. I even picked up a copy for the boys a few years ago when I found it at the local used bookstore. Well that's all I have time for nostalgia at the moment....back to the grindstone.

You can actually download all the old-time goodness at There's also a currently produced Support magazine Star Frontiersman at

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NEWS! Paizo Preview Review

Early Pathfinder RPG Product Previews Just in case you missed the announcements and updates at Gen Con 2011, here's some news on the next few Pathfinder RPG products.

Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box

The Beginner Box contains: A 64-page player book with information on the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard classes up to level 5; skills; feats; equipment; and rules for combat, adventuring, and how to handle leveling up. A 96-page GM book with a sample adventure; information on running the game; creating a campaign; 12 pages of magic items; 24 pages of monsters; a sample campaign starting area; and advice on building your own adventures. Other materials such as a Flip-Mat, three pages of cardboard pawns for PCs and monsters , pregenerated characters, and a blank character sheet.

When the Beginner Box is released, we'll have additional free online content for players (the barbarian class, new spells, new feats, and new rogue talents) and GMs (an adventure, more magic items, and more monsters).
The Beginner Box directs players and GMs to look online for this additional content.

Beginner Box is interesting, though I believe I'll pass on that myself, the only thing I see as nice for me personally is the 'pawns' as they call them

Bestiary 3

This 320-page book has 283 pages of monsters, including new monster categories such as clockwork, demodand, div, kami, and kyton (some of which are subtypes). If you're a GM running a high-level game, you'll find 36 monsters at CR 15 or higher (more than 20 of which aren't outsiders).

Now this is always nice, I love monster books, the kids love monster books, we all love monster books!!! more clockwork monsters makes it even better!!!

Advanced Race Guide

This comprehensive guide to rules on fantasy races includes 10 pages on each race in the Core Rulebook (including humans), six pages each on featured races such as aasimar, catfolk, goblins, orcs, and tieflings, two pages each on uncommon races such as duergar, gillmen, kitsune, and suli, and a 38-page chapter on designing your own balanced 0-HD races.

This is the book I'm MOST anticipating, 10 pages on the core races, I hope it's mostly crunch not so much fluff, because we keep seeing reprinted information in the X of Golarion books, the Inner Sea Guide, etc. So as this is a base book, I really hope we don't see a bunch of repeated fluff. I also hope to see the races given favored features for the new classes that came out post APG. Featured Races will be awesome, compiling the Tieflings, from Council of Thieves and giving similar options for Aasimar. Catfolk will be one of Epic Ian's favorite entries for sure!! I'm also really hoping that at least the featured races will be allowed in PFS play, because Tieflings are one of my favorite races, especially with the Tian Xia races in there.

Ultimate Equipment

This is a collection of all the nonmagical and magical gear we've published, updated and all in one place, and that's only half of this book. It'll also include random magic item tables for everything in the book, with items sorted by slot to make it easier to finish up gear for PC and NPCs

This one is intriguing, I really hope it's more that just a reprint of everything, I'm hoping for rules on advanced alchemy as well. It would be a nice supplement to have, but also kind of makes Adventurer's Armory obsolete. I hope this book will be edited LONG before it is sent to print, and combed over multiple times preventing some of the problems that Adventurer's Armory had.Well that's my take on what's up and coming.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reaction to a review...Call of Cthulhu...

Sandy Peterson, author of Call of Cthulhu, reviews said same game.

While I've only played Call of Cthulhu once, it was definitely memorable Nothing like playing in a shadowy room, at the witching hour, when something literally goes bump in the night at a dramatic time, it scared the crap out of us.

I play d20 system because it's the most popular system, I do enjoy other systems a lot, especially skill based systems. I've played RuneQuest, ElfQuest, BattleLords, Call of Cthulhu and many other skill based systems. Unfortunately I had to get rid of some of my old games about a decade ago, ElfQuest was one of them. One of the problems with those games was my friends didn't play those games.

I've read all of Lovecraft's Cthulhu tales, because of role-playing. I've read the original Conan, John Carter of Mars, and other classics. I read Fritz Leiber's Fahfrd & Grey Mouser stories, and other classics when I was younger. I doubt I would have ever read those classics were it not for Role-playing.

Pathfinder Society - Spoilers

Well that was fun today, we got to run the end of season 2 PFS games

Kolslag of Asmodeus Chelish Hungry Ghost Monk
Aril the Rogue
Xirus the Wolf Shaman

The first was pretty brutal, CR3 air elemental was our first encounte

r, the final encounter with the hobgoblin leader was vicious, lunge and a +6 damage bonus. If we hadn't had a healer that was specifically set up to spam heal, we would have been toast. Toast,

spelled TPK.

The second part was not as difficult, though we did have to be extremely creative to overcome the encounters as our best CHA bonus was +1, and no one had Diplomacy. I was lucky that I have Profession (enforcer) as it did allow me to use that for some intimidate checks instead of my lousy +2.

Preparing for ADVENTURE!!!! Entry into the Cathedral from above!

You can see Kolslag on my character sheet The final battle commences!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Review - Ultimate Magic Part 2

Chapter 2: Mastering Magic

The Mastering Magic section covers a lot of ground, Everything from Spellblights, maladies unique to spellcasters. Spell Duels are covered, for the classic wizardly spell battle. Advanced rules for binding outsiders for those that treat with diabolical or angelic forces, or any of the other outsiders; it’s pretty interesting, as it presents ways to gain the upper hand based upon which type of outsider you’re dealing with.

Now to the portions that I know I’ll use in my own games. The first are the sorely needed construct rules for building and modifying constructs. First up are the animated object rules, giving more options for the simplest of constructs. The remainder of the construct rules are excellent, simple enough to be useful, complex enough to create dynamic constructs. Rune-Carved is fun, Rune of Lightning for example can create a nasty surprise. Of course I wish there were more options, but there are enough to get my mind whirling with new ideas, a Shatter pocket with Steam for a Clockwork Golem perhaps?

12 new familiars are presented, though I don’t understand why one of the most deadly octopi in the ocean causes str dmg instead of con dmg. This includes vermin familiars, including the greensting scorpion, king crab, scarlet spider and house centipede. For the more hedge wizardly types, there are a couple of farm animals, notably the pig and goat. There’s also the boys favorite, the turtle, go adventuring with your box turtle, why not it grants +1 natural armor!

Spellbooks, these are one of the best things in the entire book. The premade spellbooks, though with a little twist. The preparation ritual. If you prepare at least three spells from the book you’re granted a boon, for example, the Tome of the Transmuter grants the boon of “Defensive Transformation”. Which gives a +2 natural armor bonus as a free action when taking on a new form with a personal range transmutation spell. Some of the books are geared for alchemists even.

Finally, Designing spells. I used to love designing spells in 2nd edition. The rules are extensive and well thought out. A must if you have a player wizard who wants to design a new spell.

Chapter 3: Feats.

With 102 feats, many new options are opened up. One of the most notable lines of feats is the Eldritch Heritage lines, which allows non-sorcerers access to the different bloodlines. There are two new feats aimed at necromancers specifically, Skeletal Summoner, lets the summoner summon skeletons instead of living creatures with summon monster. Undead Master lets the necromancer to animate and command more undead. Finally the Quarterstaff Master line of feats leads to one of my favorites, the Tripping Whirl, which lets you make a trip attempt against all adjacent creatures.

9 new metamagic feats are also introduced, and the ensemble team feat. The piercing metamagic feat is exceptionally powerful, for the cost of 1 spell level, you are able to pierce spell resistance easier.

Chapter 4: Words of Power

Words of Power, a new word based power system for Pathfinder. This is a decent system, though it gives up quite a bit of power for flexibility. I doubt I would use it except as an alternate magic system, where every magic user was based upon words. I wish they had provided a skill based system as well, something like the system in Green Ronin’s Black Company campaign setting.

Chapter 5: Spells

What book of magic would be complete without new spells? Some sorely needed upgrades to spells are produced, such as False Life, Greater, and Greater Darkvision.

New summoning options include, lesser animate dead, summon minor monster, summon minor ally, plus a couple powerful summonings, summon elder worm and a froghemoth. A fun new 9th level spell summons 3-6 temporary Wood Golems.

A new line of spells is introduced, the Undead Anatomy line, and the Monstrous Physique lines. Both these spell lines are similar to beast shape or dragon form spells, but giving additional options, especially interesting with the undead anatomy line. One of the best new spells is Masterwork transformation. A great way for characters to hold onto their heirloom items and eventually make them magical.

One of the best new spells is Masterwork transformation. A great way for characters to hold onto their heirloom items and eventually make them magical.

Though the material components cost the same as buying a masterwork item or ammunition.

Artwork: Epic! The artwork as always is littered with the iconics, making the entire book feel connected to the system. The artwork at the beginning of each chapter is dynamic, typical of Wayne Reynolds artwork. Each of the new classes receives its own WAR artwork.

Replay Value: More options, more replay value as always. Endless possibilities.

Comprehension Level: There’s a lot of variation in this book, a good comprehension of the core rules is required before venturing into Ultimate Magic territory.

Game Mastering: This supplement adds a lot of complexity to an already complex game; make sure you review the material before allowing players to take options from this book. However, it’s fun to have more options as a game master as well.

Price Tag: Ultimate Magic will cost you $39.99 for print, $9.99 PDF.

Value: For me, it’s well worth the money. I love complex characters and not necessarily optimized characters, this lets me have more and more options. I know I’ll be using the Construct Rules, and the Spellbooks, including converting many of the old pages from the mages books. Words of Power I will only use in a campaign that was entirely based on those rules.

Overall Rating: **** The amount of freedom you gain as a player or game master is amazing, and generally it’s all very well balanced, not a case of any particular class becoming the flavor of the month. There are issues with Ultimate Magic, it seemed a bit rushed, and there are lots of FAQs on it, especially with the Qinggong monk, as several people have interpreted it in different ways. Overall it's a great book, and once the FAQs are dealt with

Note: family rating is based upon the Core rules.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


So, I haven't really covered MMORPGs on this blog. I'm an Old EQ1 player, up until aroung Gates of Discord. I really don't like being mislead in advertising, it pisses me off. That one pissed me off, cuz they touted it as a 1-65 expansion. I have two 65s at the time, and lots of alts, so I was looking forward to it. Turns out that only that stupid crafting ship was all levels, then there was the zone outside the Gates that was good for 55-65, I had lots of fun kiting there and hunting with my mage. But it just wasn't what they claimed. I was also playing City of Heroes at the time, that game had the best character creation. But the game play lacked that....urgency. I flitted through other games, EQ2 during Beta, Star Wars Galaxies, and DDO a year after launch, because I didn't like that they screwed up the world at launch, so I waited. Champions Online is ok as Free to Play, nothing to write home about. I never played WoW, due to a sour experience I had with the BattleNet kiddies in Diablo 2, I just knew WoW was going to have people I didn't like playing it.

But some of the games that are coming up are intriguing. For one...The Old Republic...WOW, Just WOW. It looks like fun, RvR PvP effectively, Dark Versus the Light, but I have to wonder how the PvE is going to work as well.

The Neverwinter Online game is coming...Now if it's run as a DDO reskin, I'd prolly pass. But as 4e always felt MMOish, an Actual MMO would probably work quite well. I'd just like to say it's GORGEOUS!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dragon Chow

Saw on twitter the coolest dice bag that @GeekyLyndsay made for @d20monkey. It's made from the Morden F*ing Kainen Shirt that d20monkey supplied her. Now, she can't make that one for you, because it was a custom order,unless, of course you have that same T-shirt. But if you've got some cool t-shirt or other fabric she can make one for you too!

$17 for a custom Dice bag.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wednesday Review - Ultimate Magic Part 1 of 2

In keeping with the GenCon month. I'm going to review Ultimate Magic this week rather than a boardgame. The Weekend review will be Ultimate Combat.

Product Description from

Unlock the magical mysteries of the Pathfinder RPG with this exhaustive guide to the art of magic, an invaluable resource for players and Game Masters alike!

This comprehensive 256-page hardcover reference unveils the magical secrets of the Pathfinder rules like never before. Tons of new tricks and techniques for every spellcasting class in the game fill the book, ranging from arcane secrets uncovered by studious wizards to dazzling ki-tricks performed by canny monks to new mutagens for alchemists, new oracle mysteries, specialized channel energy options for clerics, and more.

Ultimate Magic also introduces the latest Pathfinder RPG base class: the magus. Combining arcane spells with practiced martial skill, the magus incorporates elements of the warrior and wizard to walk a path balanced between two deadly efficient extremes. All this plus more than 100 new spells for all spellcasting classes, an innovative new “words of power” spellcasting system, a complete system for 1-on-1 spell duels, and more.

    Ultimate Magic includes:
  • New player character options for all 14 spellcasting Pathfinder RPG base classes, including alchemist discoveries and bombs, specific bard performances, specialized uses for channel energy, expanded druid domains and rules for vermin companions, new inquisitor archetypes, ki tricks, alternative oracle curses and revelations, new sorcerer bloodlines, additional summoner eidolon abilities and eidolon templates, new witch hexes and patrons, wizardly arcane discoveries, and more!
  • The Magus, a brand-new 20-level base class that mixes wizardry with martial skill
  • Extensive overviews of new and existing magic subsystems such as condition-based magic, cooperative casting, magical organizations, unpredictable primal magic, counterspelling, binding outsiders, crafting golems, etc.
  • Lots of new familiars
  • Premade spellbooks suitable for use at all levels of play
  • Tons of new feats specifically designed for magic-using characters
  • Brand new “words of power” alternative magic system
  • More than 100 brand new spells!
  • …and much, much more!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-299-9

Pathfinder Ultimate Magic Review

This is a review of the Ultimate Magic for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as published by Paizo, under the OGL.

irst Glance: Paging through the book, the first thing you come across is the Magus, the new Fighter/Mage hybrid class. The next thing you come across is the magic based archetypes. One of the most enticing new things I ran across in the book is the Construct modifications rules; rules that have been sorely needed. They brought in special spellbooks, similar to the old pages from the mages articles from Dragon magazine. Then you run across the Words of Power rules, spells.

Main Review:

Chapter 1: Spellcasters

Let’s start with the Magus, I was leery of this class during beta testing of it, it’s a hard thing to make a combat mage balanced without stripping it of its appeal. I feel the magus does that. For the record, I hate the name Magus for this class and I feel that feedback in regards to the name was ignored. The magus is limited to level 6 spells, which is on par with the other caster heavy hybrids. (Combat heavy hybrids being limited to 4th level spells.) Unfortunately the magus is still a prepared spell class; perhaps an alternate spontaneous class will be added later. Magus are able to fight with a one handed weapon and cast a spell with the other. Their real power comes with the Magus Arcana they can learn, like rogue talents, yet giving them a broad range of abilities. Eventually they gain heavy armor proficiency, thus the ability to cast spells and wear heavy armor, when out of spells, the ability to use martial weapons, keeps them in the fight.


25 new discoveries, many are bomb discoveries, from blinding bombs to sunlight and tanglefoot bombs.Healing touch can transform the alchemist into an assistant healer. Several others give aberrant additions such as tentacles, vestigial wings, or the ultra creepy tumor familiar. 8 new archetypes, the Chirurgeon, lets the alchemist become a true healer. Others include Clone Master, Internal Alchemist, Mindchemist, Preservationist, Psychonaut, Reanimator, and the Vivisectionist.


Bards gain a entirely new feat-like mechanic called Masterpieces; though they can be acquired by sacrificing a spell slot in lieu of a feat. Everquest™ fans will enjoy Triple Time the most, as it is a group speed increase, 10ft land speed increased for 1 hour, for a cost or 1 bardic performance rd. Now all you need is a drum that doubles the speed. Ever wanted to be a celebrity in the game? Well you can choose the celebrity archetype and be just that. Other Bard Archetypes include, the Animal Speaker, Demagogue, Dirge bard, the Asian inspired Geisha, Songhealer, and the Sound Striker.


Variant Channeling, this introduces a new mechanic, domain based alternate effects, for the cost of half the healing channel. Only four new archetypes, the Cloistered Cleric, the Separatist, Theologian, and the Undead Lord. The Undead Lord lets you play the divine based Necromancer….complete with a Corpse Companion.


Druids get a slew of Animal and terrain based domains, which helps differentiate them from clerics more, whether it’s a Mountain Domain druid or an Eagle druid. Vermin companions, are introduced in this book. A bunch of new archetypes are introduced, including the Menhir Savant, Pack Lord, Mooncaller, Reincarnated druid, and the Storm Druid. The new shaman types are the Dragon Shaman, and the Saurian Shaman, one of my favorites, Tyrannosaur at level 1, advances to large at level 7….nice.


A new type of domain is introduced for inquisitors, inquisitions, which replace some of the worthless domains. New archetypes include the Exorcist, Heretic, Infiltrator, Preacher and Sin Eater. Of these archetypes, I feel the Sin Eater is the most creative, the character must eat the sins of their enemy, kind of like counting coup of certain Native American tribes. By ‘eating’ their sins, you deny their soul to their god.


So even though the class is new, there are four archetypes, The Black Blade’s bonded weapon is an intelligent weapon that grows with the magus and has an arcane pool of its own. The Hexcrafter borrows a little from the witch. Spellblades use force magic and have three of their own arcane. Finally the Staff Magus is a master of the quarterstaff, actually gaining the Quarterstaff Master at first level as a bonus feat. Which is pretty big, it allows taking weapon specialization, even with no fighter levels, and ignores the pre-req of weapon focus. There is a broken build currently, the Dervish Dance feat build (Inner Sea World Guide), I only say it’s broken because its almost a no brainer, because the dex becomes the to hit, damage, and ac modifier. In addition, the 18-20 crit threat of the scimitar works especially well to deliver extra spell critical damage during a spell strike. Watch out for Kobold wielding scimitars…


What’s the monk doing in Complete Magic? Well they’re working on their Ki powers. Namely through the use of Monk Vows, but also with the Qinggong monk, which allows the monk to swap out powers similar to an archetype but much more freeform, even allowing you to select a swapped power from a lower level and get it later. This is something I pushed for during Beta, and I’m very glad to see it in print now.


Several new mysteries are Ancestor, Dark Tapestry, Metal, Time and Wood. Brining Wood and Metal in completes the five eastern elements for oracles as well. I would like to see a unified Five elements mystery as well. The Dual Cursed archetype allows the oracle to have two mysteries, at a price. Other archetypes include the Enlightened Philosopher, Planar Oracle, Possessed Oracle, Seer, and the Stargazer.


Paladins have a new archetype which opens up lots of new options, the Oathbound Paladin. Once the oathbound archtype is chosen, multiple non conflicting oaths may also be taken, this gives the oathbound more restrictions role-playing wise as they must abide by their oaths and their deities code of conduct. The big thing that comes with the oaths is access to oath spells, like domain spells.Oath against Corruption adds true strike to the paladin’s list of spells, in addition to acute sense, touch of idiocy and spell immunity, for example. Other oaths against x, include Fiends, Savagery, Undeath and Wyrms. To round out the list of Oaths, are Charity, Chastity, Loyalty and Vengeance.


Rangers only have one Archetype in Ultimate Magic, The Trapper. The Trapper grants access to new Ranger traps in lieu of spellcasting, which is good to have another option for those who don’t want spellcasting rangers. The interesting thing about ranger traps, they aren’t just normal mechanical traps, they can be magical or mechanical, and can even be set “cast” by an arrow. This is especially insidious with the Swarm Trap…


In addition to new Bloodlines, 2 new archetypes make their appearance, the Crossblooded, which is very similar to the Dual Cursed Oracle. And the mutated Wildblooded archetype which uses the subdomain mechanics reskinned for sorcerers, of which the Bedrock wild bloodline works off of the Deep Earth bloodline, and is defense oriented, which is a nice one for summoner type sorcerers as the arcana grants your summoned creatures DR (1/2 sorc level)/adamantine. The Bloodline power is Iron Hide at 9th level, which grants sorclevel rounds per day of DR10/adamantine. The new bloodlines are Accursed, Djinni, Efretti, Maestro, Marid, Rakshasa and Shaitan. While the Rakshasa line isn’t ultra powerful, it is one of my favorite, I might run a Tiefling (rakshasa heritage) Sorceror with the Rakshasa bloodline after the Advanced Races Guide hits the shelves.


The main focus of the summoner additions is templates for easy eidolon creations. Very nice resource if your trying to get a specific look for your eidolon. Also nice for new players and for the GM on the go. New evolutions of note are the magic evolutions. Four new archetypes are introduced, The Broodmaster, Evolutionist, Synthesist and the Master Summoner, which gives up significant power for their eidolon for greater summon monster ability, and the ability to have their eidolon and summoned monsters up at the same time.


New Hexes, lots of them, and creepy NPC oriented ones to boot, such as Child Scent (ala Hansel and Gretl) ,Poison Steep (perfect for those poisoned apples), the cannibalistic Cook People, and Witch Hut, perfect for those Baba Yaga witch. Alternative patron themes are given. In addition four archetypes, Beast Bonded, Gravewalker, Hedge Witch and the Sea Witch; the Hedge witch is a good adventuring healer based witch.


Arcane Discoveries are the first new rules for wizards, which may be taken in place of the bonus feats. The two missing Oriental schools, wood and metal are introduced, making way for the Asian themed characters. The only archetype is a very cool concept, the Scrollmaster which can use scrolls as either shield or weapons, and of course, they received improved scroll casting at level 10, letting them cast scrolls as normal spells.

Due to the amount of text in this post, I'm going to split the review into two parts.

Local Events


Here at Pair A Dice Games we run weekly as well as bi-weekly events, all are free to play and all are open to anyone.

Mondays - 4:30pm Warhammer Mondays, Come and play with a friend or for a pick up game for either Warhammer Game.

Tuesdays- 4:30 Open RPG day, Come and bring a group of friends and play your RPGs, or join any of our existing groups if they still have space

Wednesdays - Privateer Press Night - Come by and play any of your Privateer Press games, be it Warmachine, Hordes or Monsterpocalypse Tournament with prize support this Week Registration & demo starts at 5:30, tournament begins at 6:00.

D&D Encounters - Come by Wednesdays to join in on our D&D encounter group space goes quickly

1st and 3rd Thursdays - Historical Wargames, drop by and enjoy any of our wargaming groups or bring your own and have a good time.

Friday - 5:00 pm Friday Night Magic, come and play magic in our offical tournaments with varrying styles.

Saturdays - Pair a Dice Game Day!

Through out the day come by and learn how to play any of a handful of euro games. The store will be running various games for you to learn how to play, and your always welcome to come by and bring your own game you may want others to play. These are the games that we'll be running teaching games for, this does not mean that only these games can be played during these times, and if players want to learn other games we are more than happy to do our best to accommodate.

Carcassonne 10am, Ticket to Ride noon, Settlers of Catan 2pm

Lord of the Rings Miniatures 10am

Sundays - 2:00 pm Yu-Gi-Oh Tournament come by and participate in our yu-gi-oh tournaments.


Game Empire

Monday Axis and Allies Naval Battles, Warmachine

Tuesday Historical Society 5pm, SD Board Game Society 7pm

Wednesday Warhammer 40k League 6:30pm

Thursday L5R CCG 6:30pm

Friday FNM type 2 tournament 6:30pm

Saturday RPGA/Pathfinder Society 11am, Flames of War 6pm

Sunday Warhammer Fantasy League 10am, Pokemon CCG 11am, Warmachine 5pm


San Diego Games & Comics

Check their facebook for up to date info, typically posted the day of the event. Last weekend was a Type 2 Magic tournament.

Monday, August 15, 2011


So we've created a sister blog.

Epic RPG Monsters by the Epic RPG Family. I'll be letting others submit creative templated creatures, and of course new creatures, of course no use of closed content will be allowed.

Taking it from Alpha to Beta today.

If you want to get your art seen by others, feel free to contact me. I hope to have lots of traffic. Want your art seen by our community, feel free to contact me, all rights to your art will remain yours, and if you want it taken down, it will be removed.

Come by and check it out.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend Review - Advanced Player's Guide

Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide Review

This is a review of the Advanced Player’s Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as published by Paizo, under the OGL.

First Glance: When you page through the book you’ll first run across race options, from the pyromaniac gnome to the chain fighting half-orc. Next you come across the new classes, The Alchemist, Summoner, Oracle, Inquisitor, Witch and Cavalier; filing in some missing spaces in the class line-up. Next you come across the Core class options, the introduction of archetypes, and pretty much that’s where my personal first glance stopped, as I became fully engrossed in the options.

Main Review:

Chapter 1: Races

This chapter deals with races, each racial entry is broken into adventurers, alternate racial traits and favored class options. The adventurer’s section describes how each race fits into the different classes. Alternate Racial traits, give more options, by allowing a player to swap out different abilities.

Chapter 2: Class Options

This is pure perfection, to me anyway; of course it’s based on some of the work in the complete guides from 3.5, as they were the original options that swapped out class abilities for new focused class abilities. But, somehow Paizo does it so much better, fully capturing the essence of the different classes. Effectively an archetype works in such a way as to replace certain class abilities, for example, a fighter archetype, The Crossbowman, gives up the standard armor and weapon training lines to gain abilities which make him deadly with a crossbow, eventually getting the ability to make trip or bulrush attacks with the crossbow, or shooting through a target on a critical. One of the things archetypes have allowed is for classes such as the paladin and ranger to drop spell-use; the skirmisher ranger archetype replaces spell use with ranger tricks, which are similar to rogue talents.

This book provides so many options that you can easily play a multitude of ideas. The additional classes are some of my personal favorites, I have a Battle Oracle that’s a monster in combat, and an inquisitor that is one of my all time favorite classes, especially as I’m working on making her a dazzling display master. I have a dwarven monk, using both the Hungry Ghost and Monk of the Sacred Mountain archetype, which replaces most of the standard monk abilities, for a very fun alternate monk.

Aside from archetypes, lots of new options are presented. Barbarians get almost 50 new rage powers to choose from. For clerics, 66 subdomains have been introduced; for example the rage subdomain can be chosen instead of the destruction domain, allowing the cleric to rage at level 8 and even get rage powers at 12 and 16. Rangers have five new combat styles introduced, crossbow, mounted, natural weapon, two-handed, and weapon & shield, a much desired array of combat styles that were asked for during Beta testing. Rogues gain 20 new talent choices plus 12 new advanced talents. Sorcerers get 10 new bloodlines to choose from, including serpentine and shadow. Wizards get some love with the elemental schools, earth, air, fire and water. They also receive the new ‘focused arcane’ schools, the teleportation focused school allows the shift ability in lieu of the acid dart power. The Antipaladin makes its triumphant return to the game with the new Antipaladin alternate class.

Chapter 3: New feats.

With dozens and dozens of new feats, I’m only going to say, that some of the new feats close gaps in what you could normally do in combat. In addition, race feats are introduced; feats such as Razor Tusk or Racial Heritage.

Chapter 4: Equipment

New weapons, armor, alchemical creations are always nice.

Chapter 5: Spells

Almost 50 pages of news spells.

Chapter 6: Prestige Classes

Adds the following prestige classes: Battle Herald, Holy Vindicator, Horizon Walker, Master Chymist, Master Spy, Nature Warden, Rage Prophet, and the Stalwart Defender.

Chapter 7: Magic Items

Always fun in a book.

Chapter 8: New Rules

Combat maneuvers; 4 new combat maneuvers are introduced which are definitely gap fills. The age old Dirty Trick maneuver, such as sand in the face, is introduced, it was missing and needed. Drag, which was most assuredly over looked. Reposition, grab your opponent and move him against the wall. And the steal maneuver, snatch something off your opponent, oops, were you looking for that heal potion. Pathfinder introduces its own Hero Point system. Including hero point related feats and spells, and magic items. Traits are given their Pathfinder update in this volume, including updating the campaign traits from Rise of the Runelords AP.

Artwork: Epic! The artwork as always is littered with the iconics, making the entire book feel cohesive to the system. The artwork at the beginning of each chapter is dynamic, typical of Wayne Reynolds artwork. Each of the new classes receives its own WAR artwork.

Replay Value: The archetype options alone in the Advanced Player’s Guide provide so many combinations, that you could play hundreds of games and never play the exact same character. Even if you’re someone who enjoys a particular concept, reusing the name and vision of your character, you could play a dozen or more times, with slight modifications, using the same character.

Comprehension Level: There’s a lot of variation in this book, a good comprehension of the core rules is required before venturing into APG territory.

Game Mastering: This supplement adds a lot of complexity to an already complex game, make sure you review the material before allowing players to take options from this book. However, it’s fun to have more options as a game master as well.

Price Tag: The Advanced Player’s Guide will cost you $39.99, however, Paizo has a nice price point for their PDFs and that is only $9.99.

Value: For me, it’s well worth the money. I love complex characters and not necessarily optimized characters, this lets me have more and more options.

Overall Rating: EPIC! The amount of freedom you gain as a player is amazing, and generally it’s all very well balanced, not a case of any particular class becoming the flavor of the month.

Note: family rating is based upon the Core rules.

Friday, August 12, 2011

News! - Dice Tower Awards

So, news! I saw the tweet on critical hits. I didn't even know there was a Dice Tower Awards...But apparently there is. So there you have it.

Dice Tower Awards

As you'll see in the linked post,:

The purpose of the awards is to:

  • Encourage new developments and innovations in the board game industry.
  • Promote board and card games to a larger audience
  • Award the best games in different categories released each year.
  • Present a slate of games with wide appeal from a variety of genres.
  • Point out games that are simply fun!
Best Family Game Winner:
Forbidden Island.

Designer: Matt Leacock
Publisher: Gamewright

This is an excellent family game. It's a cooperative game in which you're on an island, that is sinking, your objective it to grab all 4 relics, and return to the helo pad with all players before the island sinks.

You lay out the tiles face up, (it's flooding on the reverse side).
The 4 different characters each have a different ability, for example the engineer can turn a flooded card back to dry land as his turn. As it's cooperative, there tends to be a lot of table talk for strategy. It's not a sure thing that you're going to win, bad luck with sinking tiles can easily spell doom early on if the waters rise too fast.

I have recommended this game to people in the store, both in Barnes & Noble and at Pair-a-Dice games.

Game Rating: EPIC!

Early thanks!

We're over 1000 page views now! (over 1100!!). I appreciate your patience as I find my footing in this venture. It's a lot of work, and I just want to say thank you to those who keep returning to view the page, and those that spread the word of mouth.

Comments, suggestions, anything you have to say, please you can either comment in the comment section, or shoot an email to me at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interview with Mr. Schmid

Well it took awhile to get this up, I actually had the file corrupted and had to recover it. But here's the interview with middle school math teacher Mr. Schmid. Enjoy!


Epic! The RPG Blog is working on a side project that will prove to be quite fun.


Matt Forbeck joins Margaret Weis Productions to work on Marvel RPG

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Review: Save Doctor Lucky

This is a review of the Save Doctor Lucky Board game produced by Paizo Publishing, LLC.

First Glance: High quality heavy duty box game. You get 8 stand-up counters representing The 7 players and Doctor Lucky. You get 4 nice thick boards, with nice quality artwork. You also get a nice Deck of cards.

Main Review: Save Doctor Lucky is the prequel to Kill Doctor Lucky.

In Save Doctor Lucky, you must conspicuously save the Doctor from the sinking cruise liner. The first difference between this game and the original is the boards, you lay each of the decks of the ship out with ¼ of the cards (after dealing cards out). The Doctor wanders on his standard pathway around the ship, but as the cards run out, boards sections disappear. Another difference is that when you attempt to save him, others must be able to draw line of sight to you, as you’re not saving him for no reason, you’re trying to get ahead in the world. No spite tokens are awarded in this version, the game length manager is the sinking ship. As the sections disappear, the game play speeds up quite a lot.

Artwork: Excellent, The artwork is stylized and the boards are gorgeous.

Replay Value: Excellent, this game is never the same, and while you might have some winning strategies, you’re not going to win every time. This is a family favorite, everyone can win.

Comprehension Level: Excellent, The rules for Save Doctor Lucky are very simple. Publisher’s suggested Age Range is 10+

Humor: Decent, While Save Doctor Lucky tries to maintain the same level of humor as it predecessor, it does not quite succeed, the jokes on the failure cards just aren’t as funny as the jokes on the failure cards for Kill Doctor Lucky.

Family Rating: 8+, rules are easy enough to learn, and there’s no moral ambiguity of murder in this version of Doctor Lucky.

Price Tag: $29.99 retail. Well below the price point of similar games, for something of this quality, you can usually expect to pay $40.

Value: For us, it’s still worth the money. Not as good as the original, but it’s a nice alternative.

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

You can purchase Save Doctor Lucky from from or your FLGS!

5E was not announced

I was reading on Critical Hits Blog , that the big announcement at GenCon was NOT 5th Edition. This is good, I think Wizards would ahve lost more fan base if they suddenly changed pace with a new edition so soon on the heels of the Essentials line, which I've heard is almost a .5 update, but I'm no expert on 4E, so I'm not the one to listen to about that.
They did however announce lots of interesting news. Here's Some that I found interesting.

Here's the link to Also Congrats to to Critical-Hits for their 2011 Gold ENnie for best Blog.

D&D Miniatures make a return in themed sets. This is where Wizards will have a leg up on Reaper's new PAthfinder Line. Random miniatures (especially in the $4-6 range) in this economy are going to be a hard sell. I know I for one can't afford them. The other interesting thing about this release, is that it will be coming with a new diceless skirmish game with it's own terrain.

I'm thinking this is the replacement for HeroScape which was recently cancelled. Diceless and tactics means easier for younger audiences to play. This is a good move for Wizards I think. A Huge development along these lines is this new skirmish game will have Open Playtesting!!! I think Wizards has seen the light with Paizo's lead in open playtest, followed by Green Ronin's Dragon Age beta and most recently the DCCRPG Playtest. This is all great news for gamers abroad.

A New kind of organized play is coming out for the Hack'n Slasher, Lair Assault, designed for the power gamer versus DM type of game from what Dave "The Game" Chalker describes it as. Another step toward the easy play crowd. The existing Encounters line will remain story oriented for the Role-players. I wonder if they'll be allowed to use the same characters in both games...

The Dungeons of Dread board game was cancelled due to quality issues. However next year a new "Euro Style" Board Game will be released, Called Lords of Waterdeep. I wonder how that will play, board games seem to be the big money right now. I know Epic Sean and Epic Ian enjoy playing both Castle Raventloft and Wrath of Ashardalon at school last year.

Also if you're into buying ebooks, the D&D Line of novels are becoming available as ebooks. I always prefer dead tree press, I have hundreds of novels, I don't have a reader, though the Epic Twins each have a Nook. I like the e-ink technology, but I love a real book. The ability to not need an electronic device...

The Tome Show has the seminar in its entirety HERE

Monday, August 8, 2011


Epic RPG Blog has undergone a facelift of sorts, I'm still ironing out everything.

Epic RPG Blog Links, this is where the Review links, Top 5 Lists, and Internet resources has moved to a tabbed menu below the header.

Comments, suggestions and feedback appreciated.


Looking for a G+ invite, if anyone with access would like to shoot an invite my way, just email me at I would greatly appreciate it!

Game Mastering for Younger Children

Young Children will thrive at whatever game you put them in. Obviously GameMastering for Elementary School kids is different than with Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers as well.

GMing for Elementary School Kids.
#1 Keep it Simple:
Miniatures and dungeon tiles will be more than magical to them. (expect them to play with the pieces, so don't use your best pieces.) Make Very simple character sheets. If you're playing D&D break it down to the simple numbers. Str +1, Dex +1, Con +0 etc. Use color coding so you can say "Add the Red number to your d20 roll." You could even make every weapon do d6 dmg. They wouldn't know the difference.

#2 Be Patient:
They aren't going to grasp every rule, and of course expect a lot of "Why" questions. Don't get mad if they don't want to be rail-roaded into the dungeon. Expect to have to do a lot of hand-holding for most children, asking if they want to go down the passageway or listen at the door. After a while they'll start doing that on their own.

#3 Be Flexible:
They are going to try to do wild, wild things. If you tell them they can't do any of it they will get frustrated and not want to play any more.

#4 Keep the Sessions SHORT:
Gnats have longer attention spans than kids, especially boys. Keep the sessions short and you will have more fun. I tried to make it one encounter at a time. Don't worry about rules so much, just play it off the top of your head, they won't know or remember if you didn't give them the benefit of the doubt.

#5 Realism isn't wanted or needed:
You're playing a fantasy game, the more simple the game the better, let them tell as much or as little as they want. Let the children narrate what happens if they want.

#6 Just Say NO to Murder:
Young minds: so while murder on TV is bad for kids, so it is in a role-playing game. Let them face skeletons, or bugs and spiders. But don't have them attempt to kill a human bandit or even an elf. As they mature, then throw them against non-humans, make orcs really mean and scary, so they are conquering a monster not a human being.

#7 Deus ex Machina: Let them win!
If they're about to lose the combat &be killed, make sure they're saved by someone, a Knight in shining armor sent by the King, or even a funny goblin that happens to be a powerful wizard

#8 Teach:
This is a perfect time to teach without making it feel like teaching. Math skills are especially important. Handwriting, not so much, save the penmanship lessons for late elementary school. About 5th grade is when I had the boys start writing their own character sheets.

#9 Don't Kill their Characters!:

#10 I repeat Don't Kill their Characters!!: C'mon they're little kids, you might traumatize them if you kill their pretend personality. Save mortality of characters for Middle School.

Next Week I'll discuss GMing for Middle school kids.

Retro Review - Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e

This is a retro review. I take a step back and review a game from the past. This is a review of AD&D, including the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. Expect more nostalgia than critical review. Dedicated to Iain Shigeoka, my first DM. It’s rambling, and more just stream of consciousness as I relive the old days, it’s not a super in depth look at the game.

First Encounter: It was 1983, I was in 6th grade, headed out to the playground for recess (that was the year they made 6th grade an elementary school grade again.). I saw some of my GATE classmates, who I never really talked to at the time, with these books…I asked what they were doing, they said playing Dungeons and Dragons, I sat down to look at the Monster Manual and the rest is history.

Main Review: This was it, the big daddy at the time, there weren’t a lot of us playing it, but I dug in, and bought, my books. I remember spending hours upon hours making magic items, rolling up characters, making dungeons on graph paper. The rules weren’t perfect by far, but they were new and magical to my young mind. I remember playing Keep on the Borderlands at 6th grade Safety Patrol Camp (I played a Ranger). I remember in 7th grade playing a solo adventure as an assassin.

The stats were rolled with 3d6 in order, Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. You got what you got. I even remember playing a 5 ST Magic-user, and a 6 IN Fighter. Magic-Users were ultra fragile at 1st level with their d4 hit dice, as were monks; though they both became extremely powerful at their upper levels.

Multi-classing and dual-classing were very different, humans could dual-class, but only non-humans could multi-class. Fighters were the only ones who got percentile ST bonuses. I remember out of hundreds of characters I rolled up I had one Human Fighter that for real had an 18/00 ST, of course he ended up having horrible scores for the rest, 7 DX, 8 IN, stuff like that. I used the dungeon generation chapter in back of the DMG a lot.

There were class combos kind of built in, you couldn’t play a fighter/magic-user/thief unless you were an elf. The Dwarven Fighter/Cleric was fun. Race based level limits were kind of a pain, many races were limited to level 5 in some classes. But at least it wasn’t like playing an “elf” in Basic, I mean really you got a class also, not just a race with some magic abilities. (Though when I see Deedlit on Lodoss Wars I know she’s a BD&D elf.)

There were no feats, no skills to select (as a thief you got some skills, but they were static based upon level+stats). Saves were class based, but had far different categories. Fighters alone had multiple attacks per round. But it was nothing like today, no one got 7 attacks in a round. Hit Dice were based by class, but were a bit odd that you didn’t continue gaining hit dice every level, for example, fighters got 9 hit dice, then continued to gain 3 hit points per level beyond 9. So a 20th level fighter would have 9HD+33hp (+con).

The biggest meanest Dragon had about 120 hit points, which a 20th level wizard could easily trounce with a couple nice magic missiles (they didn’t get nerfed til 2nd edition.)19th level: 10 missiles @ 2-5 dmg each. Oh and magic, what I loved about the old edition, was the spell components. I loved organizing everything. Spell books, spells known, attempted spells that I failed to learn. That was fun. Wizards spells went to 9th level in those days, but Cleric Spells only went to 7th.

There wasn’t a lot of Role-play in the game for me in those days, lots of combat, and lots of rolls. I, as many kids were, was way more into stats and combat than serious role-playing, but that changed as I matured. Lucky for me, Epic Sean and Epic Ian both enjoy giving their characters personality.

There were THAC0 Charts, and Speed Factor, Certain weapons were better against certain types of armor. I used to love weapon speed and I have even tried to play with it in 3.5, but, unless everyone is will to take the extra few seconds each combat to calculate their weapon speed values into their Initiative results, it can be a pain.

I loved the monster manuals, and would spend hours (did I mention I was an only child?), going through the books, creating encounters, and just having a blast filling my dungeons with foul beasties. I believe around 14 is when I thought about ecology, and had a war between two warring factions of kobolds, in different parts of the dungeon, I still like doing that.

I remember wanting to make a 1e bard, never got a character to the proper levels. A Fighter/Thief/Druid (Bard)…Fun times, fun times.

Artwork: Epic! (Well in 1983 it was epic for a 12 year old.) Much of the artwork was humorous, who can forget the high level party vs. kobolds picture in "Rogue's Gallery". The early artwork was simple and black & white, and there wasn't copious amounts of it, but it definitely was epic!

Replay Value: Well it’s AD&D, I never played Basic D&D, So the Red Box, the White Box, they weren’t for me, I remember lots of modules. I still replay those old modules and I have done conversions and played conversions of the old modules many times over the years. While the rules have evolved the game is still around. I even toy with making a world where dwarves make horrible wizards, but everyone could excel at being a thief. I may indeed have to find an old school game to play some time.

Humor: There was humor in the Monty Haul games we played as kids, and humor in blasting a fireball down a thin corridor and watching physics blow the fire back on the caster, or the lightning bolt rebound in your face.

Dungeon Mastering: It was actually dungeon mastering, in the beginning there was very little outdoors play, just wandering through hall after hall avoiding traps and encountering room after room of random creatures. White Plume Mountain was one of my favorites of all time, Wave, Whelm and Black Razor. Endless crawls through dungeons galore. I remember the first time I ran Tomb of first TPK.

Family Rating: 9 and up, there’s some partial nudity in the monster manual, beware the bared breast, if you care about a bared breast, I don’t personally. I know lots do, I worry more about explicit violence than about cartoon nudity.

Price Tag: You can find these books used in various states, though Second edition is quite common, there are plenty of copies at Pair-a-dice last I looked, including lots of the Complete books.

Overall Rating: EPIC! This was my first, I’ll always have a place in my heart for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I may have to find a game to play in some time.

Tune in for Next Month's Retro review of Shadowrun 1st edition.