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D&D 4th edition split the fanbase, and as much as I enjoyed it as something different, I’ll admit it lost a lot of the traditional D&D feel in favor of being a very mechanical, miniatures-based game. Having just completed a six-month 4th edition campaign, I decided it was time to actually get a feel for 5th edition.

Read more... )

Overall: It feels much more like classic D&D, going back to a lot of the 2nd/3rd edition roots but keeping the best innovations of 4th edition. I think it very likely that I’ll run this eventually, and I’m sure I’ll have more comments then.
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I had actually been looking at somebody’s incomplete collection of late-80s AD&D comics at a yard sale a month or two ago; but eventually opted not to buy them because we don’t really have the space to store comics I’m likely to read once and be underwhelmed by. When DriveThruComics sent me an email noting that they had added them for sale as pdfs, that seemed a reasonable use of my money.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Classics, Volume 1 - A “reprint” of the first eight issues originally published in 1989, using rules from the then-current second edition of the system. (…Though it gets at least a few of them wrong, and one character spends four issues casting spells that have never existed in any version of the system.) It does feel appropriate to the themes of a game, or at least what an aspiring GM would want the game to be like. (A more accurate representation would involve more depictions of the minutia of combat and more intra-party bickering; in both cases it’s a good change.) The second storyline is a lot lighter than the first, centering around the ghost of a jester and (as one might expect) eventually devolving into slapstick.

The give you game stats for various characters and monsters at the end of each issue.

As a random observation, my dad’s old pal Barbara Kesel was the editor on these. (The original DC masthead is removed, presumably for copyright reasons, but I suspect that my dad was listed on that in the original printing.)

I mean, when I take a step back from the nostalgia value (AD&D 2E was my very first gaming system), these are fairly standard media tie-in fantasy comics. But never let it be said that nostalgia couldn’t drive my approval.

Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1: Shadowplague - These are the new comics produced recently by IDW. They’re fun. The banter is witty, and though the plots aren’t anything amazing or particularly new, they take a fun enough approach to them that I don’t mind. (They are specifically going for “fun” rather than “dark and gritty”, which I think has been common to 4E material and I love that.)

It’s clearly using 4th Edition classes/races/cosmology, and as close to the rules as one can get and still have comic stories work. At the end of the pdf, they provide an adventure module for the story you just read, so you can run it yourself.

I rather enjoyed these, both from my appreciation of 4E in general and because they’re well-written.

Dark Sun Volume 1: Ianto’s Tomb - This feels more like a general tie-in somehow, though I’m not entirely sure how to articulate that. They’re less straightforward with what characters are actually doing or with giving backstory (they seem to just assume you’ve read the corebook). The characters are also unlikely allies thrown together by circumstances, rather than any sort of established adventuring party. Dark Sun is not a pleasant setting, but despite giving game stats for the characters being in the epic tier, it’s a very ground-level, “heroic tier” style of adventure. A 25th-level character should be the equivalent of the Prism Pentad protagonists who drove the Dark Sun metaplot back in 2E.

For the record, I’m okay with them simplifying the backstory of Athas in 4E (basically dropping the Blue Age entirely and removing a few other complications), but I’d love to see more meta/world-shaping stories in the new cosmology.

Rat Queens Volume 1 - This isn’t officially-licensed as a D&D comic, but it might as well be. More tongue-in-cheek than most but still obeying the standard tabletop rpg tropes, it follows the adventures of an all-female adventuring party with an assortment of absurd quirks and foibles. There’s plenty of bloody violence, if you like that sort of thing; and also drinking, carousing and “adult situations.”

This is one I’ll definitely be on the lookout for volume 2 of.
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With the apparent death of the GM, the cast of Critical Failures set off to find another way home from the rpg world they’re trapped in. Along the way they meet the other folks who have been trapped there and get in way over their heads as one of their own goes native. The third book then follows their seeming success in getting home, which turns out to be not what they wanted at all. Also: Poop, fart, vomit, erection, erectile dysfunction, giant dildo, boobies, your mother, homophobia, urine, accidental castration, more poop, drunkenness, stoners, threat of rape, ugly naked dudes masturbating and deus ex machina.

Spoilers that probably won't make sense because they're complaining about game rules and consistency. )

Overall: The book series remains “not particularly recommended”, though there were a couple of points in the latter two books where I actively laughed. (If they weren’t free via Amazon Unlimited, I wouldn’t have gone looking for them.) But again, it got my brain going, so hey!
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Monte Cook wrote a three-part series of Books of Eldritch Might. This collects them into a single volume and updates some of the rules to 3.5 standards. Short form: It’s a D&D 3.5 arcane caster splatbook.

Better than most. It has some fun ideas. )

Overall: This makes me wonder how feasible an all-wizard / all-arcane-caster D&D 3.5 party would be if you threw open the gates to this and a number of other splatbooks. You might be able to run that as a sandbox game, even…
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This was posted on TVTropes, and I just had to share it:

If I understand this correctly: you can use Contact Other Plane to contact a deity. If a deity used it, there's a chance he might contact himself. Any time the spell is used there's a percentage chance that the deity lies, so he might end up lying to himself.
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Apparently, Paizo has recently published Pathfinder, effectively D&D 3.75E. The conversation documents were available for free, and they detailed most of the changes from 3.5--mostly increasing the power level of the core classes; standardizing races; simplifying some skills and combat manuvers; and overhauling protection, instant kill/disable, and polymorph spells. It looks like they also put some effort into balancing very low/moderately high-level play with the "golden levels" of 3.5, though I can't tell how well that works without playtesting.

They also say that 3.5 material, particularly monsters, are compatible with Pathfinder. I would suspect that a Pathfinder Fighter and a Tomb of Battle character could stand side-by-side, at least power-wise, without any major conversions, but you'd need to basically toss out the CR system in favor of Pathfinder's new XP system, because both of those classes totally out-do the 3.5 core Fighter, and can easily handle bigger threats.

I give them a lot of credit for catering to the "4E sucks!" portion of the market. Now, if I wrote a rulebook for the AD&D "2.75E" rules I'm using now...

Edit: There's a Pathfinder SRD, which allows me to look at the spellcasting changes in more detail. I like what they've done with the polymorph subschool quite a lot.
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In case you follow this and not my Facebook page (and/or I haven't told you in person), my book, The Broken Rules Compendium is available for sale at

Also, there will eventually be a website at
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D20 rules, mostly the D&D 3.5 set, cut down and simplified until the fit in a pamphlet:

The idea is apparently to keep it cmpatible with most D20 adventures/supplements, but make the rules easy. It cuts down character creation to three stats, four skills, four classes, and "equipment packs". Mages and clerics can cast any spell off of their (shortened) lists spontaneously, but it costs them HP to do so. There are no feats, there are very few class features, there are no prestige classes.

Seems interesting for the quick-and-dirty, but I'm not sure how it'd work for a campaign: There isn't really much variety for dungeon crawling, and the rules are still rather D&D focused for a "storyteller" game. (I also haven't run the numbers, so I don't know how well relative power levels scale.)
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[ profile] gaudium_et_spes passed on an article hypothesizing "What if RPG players wrote comments about cookbooks?"

Posted: 12:48 a.m. by Goku1440 I found an awesome loophole! On page 242 it says "Add oregano to taste!" It doesn't say how much oregano, or what sort of taste! You can add as much oregano as you want! I'm going to make my friends eat infinite oregano and they'll have to do it because the recipe says so!
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