Roll20 and D&D

I’ve mentioned Roll20 in past posts about how my group plays D&D, but I figure it deserves a post all its own.

Roll20 was a Kickstarter project back in 2012. It raised $39,651, well past its goal of $5,000.

Once funded the project team set out to create a free and simple way to play D&D and other roleplaying games online.

They created something that has been dubbed a virtual tabletop (VTT). D&D is normally played at a table, so when you play online everyone sits at their computers around the virtual tabletop.

What does that actually mean though?

First, Roll20 transmits your voice, video, and any typed messages you want to the other people you’re playing with. Continue reading

In Time Movie Review

I watched the movie In Time the other night. The movie stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Cillian Murphy.

I was not satisfied with the movie based on what I’d seen in the trailers.

The premise of the movie is that in the near future all medical problems have been eliminated.

Additionally, now that people are effectively immortal there isn’t really any reason to use any normal currency because eventually anybody will accumulate an infinite amount.

Instead of spending money, people spend time. Time is the remaining years, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds in someone’s life.

When someone turns twenty five their clock begins. You an see the clock on Timberlake’s arm in the above poster. When someone’s clock runs out that person suffers an instantly fatal heart attack.

The clock starts with a year on it. Time is spent on everything, coffee, taxi rides, movies. Everything.

And all income is in the form of time. If you work for a day at a factory then maybe you earn two days of time. One day to buy stuff with and one day to live with.

The movie villains are the rich who hoard time in order to live forever. The rich drive prices up in the ghetto to steal time from the poor because “not everyone can live forever.”

The movie heroes, Timberlake and Seyfried, fight back by stealing the hoarded time from rich banks where time is stored physically somehow and redistributing it to the poor. Surprisingly the movie never mentions the name of Robin Hood.

Giving time to the poor is somehow supposed to make them realize that the system is killing them, but the epilogue shows only that the poor are happy frivolously spending their money on vacations. The rich don’t lose power and the poor don’t gain any. What was the point if the poor waste their money on a week of pleasure?

There’s other problems with the currency system that are never explained.

Theoretically the only time that exists in the system is one year for each person when they turn 25. The average age would be around 25 because most of that time is spent on food, rent, clothes, etc.

Where is all the extra time coming from? Are there power plants that produce time? Or is the rich oligarchy just minting time and using it to pay their workers?

The rich are right in a sense. If everyone lived forever then the world would be overpopulated, but is the rich effectively murdering the poor really the plan that was landed on?

Why not use a traditional currency and set everyone’s clocks to one hundred years? Then people still have long lives with predictable deaths and the economy has a natural development instead of being controlled by some strange merchant dictatorship.

Plus, the script was clunky and the acting was bad. I’ve seen good acting from all these actors though, so I’m tempted to blame the director. The director, Andrew Niccol, also wrote the script, so really all the blame lies at his feet.

Niccol’s other movies are really good though. I’d recommend checking out Gattaca which has a similar premise and The Terminal.

As for In Time, it had a cool premise, but failed to make that premise compelling or interesting outside of the trailer. The other parts of the movie weren’t so hot either. I’d avoid it unless you’re dying for people to talk about wealth in amounts of years instead of thousands of dollars.

-Mister Ed

How D&D Works Part 2

These are my personal dice that I use when I play D&D.
These are my personal dice that I use when I play D&D.

The imagination aspects of D&D set it apart from most other games, but the dice do that as well.

D&D uses dice all the time to decide what happens in the game. Dice are rolled when you talk to other characters, when you try to hit something with a sword, and when you try to figure out what a magic potion does.

D&D has many different types of dice, all of which you can see here. And in case you were wondering dice is the plural. The singular of the noun is die.

The seven types are 4-sided dice, 6-sided dice, 8-sided dice, 10-sided dice, 12-sided dice, and 20-sided dice. In D&D these are abbreviated to just d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20.

When you roll a certain number of dice there’s an additional abbreviation. If you roll two 6-sided dice then you are rolling 2d6. If you’re rolling two 8-sided dice and adding 5 then you are rolling 2d8+5.

Owning and rolling the dice becomes fun for its own sake the more you play the game. The dice in the picture are just all my personal sets in a pile. I have loads more that I loan out to other people when I play with them. I keep those dice in a wooden box that looks like a d6.

When you roll the dice in D&D you’re always trying to get high numbers. The most often rolled die is the d20. The d20 is used for all of the activities I listed above and many more. It’s used when you swim, when you climb, and when you listen at a door to see what’s behind it.

When you roll a 20 on a d20, you celebrate! You rolled a natural 20 or  a critical hit (often abbreviated as a crit). A crit lets your character perform whatever task he was attempting to the best of his ability. If he was debating someone, he utterly defeats them. If he was swimming, he sets a new personal record. If he was making a cake, he bakes an amazing cake that everyone loves to eat.

Similarly, if you roll a 1 on a d20, it’s called a fumble. When you fumble, something bad happens. The most common result is that your shoelace comes untied and you trip on it.

The dice are used to resolve all but the simplest actions in the game. It’s fun for me to trudge into a dragon’s lair and not know exactly whether my character will come out alive or not. I hope he does, but victory is never assured. In our last session the dragon toasted and burned two of us!

That’s all for now.

-Mister Ed