Moving on From 3.5 Edition

4E D&D

Now that my long-running Xorian Wars campaign has concluded, what next?

I’ve been playing D&D 3.5 edition for more than a decade. I like the system, but I feel like its taken me as far as it can go.

If D&D were like any other product I’d say, “It’s time for an upgrade!” but pen-and-paper roleplaying games aren’t really like that.

Choosing a roleplaying system has more to do with personal preference than something being newer and having a larger number slapped on the cover. Continue reading

The Final Sessions

I am approaching the final session of the longest D&D campaign I’ve ever run.

The players have made their way through all the challenges I constructed for them. The only thing left to do is confront the final villain and defeat him.

I’m reminded of something I wrote in high school, that people are attracted to stories that excite them regardless of how real those stories are. The world, characters, and stories I’ve built through Dungeons and Dragons aren’t real, but the outcome is as important to me as the outcome of other things in my life.

Continue reading

D&D Tiers of Play

D&D tracks your character’s progress using levels. Anyone who’s played an RPG is familiar with systems like this.

You defeat monsters and other challenges. Your character gains experience, learns new skills, gets new equipment, and becomes stronger. Nearly every game in existence focuses on this basic principle.

A gross overgeneralization is that “numbers go up.” RPGs have numbers describing actions under everything and as you level up, all your numbers go up.

The number of hits you can take goes up, your sword skill goes up, your speed goes up, your flower arranging ability goes up, EVERYTHING GOES UP!

But that “EVERYTHING” also includes the enemies you face. Continue reading

Posting on Cimmeria

Map of Cimmeria

For a while now I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head of posting stuff about Cimmeria, my current D&D campaign setting.

I’ve avoided it previously because I want to post stuff about Gurutama and I didn’t want it to get too confusing with two D&D campaign settings in the same place.

I’ve decided I don’t care so much anymore. I’d like to start posting stuff about my Cimmeria campaign.

I’ve been posting campaign log entries on a thread of the Order of the Stick forums for a few years now.

But there’s just this immense pile of background info that I’ve created over the years of playing in this setting. I’d like to make that available, but how do I do it?

Through posts seems the most obvious way. I think I’ll start trying to post one thing a week about Cimmeria.

I’ll mirror the blog posts with pages setup through the top bar on the webpage so the content will be easily accessible in the future.

This serves another purpose as well. While all this information has been available for my players in the past, its been a little outdated.

About 45 years have passed in my campaign setting since I originally created it, so many of the things I originally wrote are no longer accurate. This king is dead, that building burned down, that city got founded, etc.

If I update that info it will give my players access to better information. Making it available through a website instead of a single word document might also be helpful.

So… I think I’ll start this week off by going through the cities of Cimmeria in alphabetical order. First up, Balin’s Holt!

-GoCorral

The Death Knell of my iPod

Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.
Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.

Alack and alas oh readers of my blog! For my iPod is slowly dying!

I got this iPod about six years ago back and it has served me well in its lifetime.

But now… Now it refuses to connect to my computer!

I can still charge it using the cable, but iTunes no longer registers that the iPod is connected.

I looked the issue up and found a post on Apple’s support pages from 2012 which listed a number of solutions to my problem, none of which worked.

I probably reinstalled iTunes a dozen different ways in an attempt to fix this issue, but it still refuses to interface with my iPod.

And I’m sure its not the iPod. My computer still sees the device. I could remove and add things to the iPod manually, but the music is coded and difficult to rearrange. Plus, that process is a whole lot harder to deal with than using iTunes like I have in the past.

My reading on the issue makes me think something got messed up in my computer’s registry when I updated iTunes from version 11 to version 12. The registry of my computer is some internal programming section that I can’t normally access to fix and if I did go through the steps to access it I might irreparably damage my computer for ever and eternity.

I could go to the Apple Store for help, but since the problem is with a Windows PC I don’t think they’d be able to help.

Likewise, because the problem is with my computer, getting a new iPod might not necessarily work either. Plus, they don’t even make the iPod classic that I have anymore! It’s all iTouch, iNano, and iShuffle now. None of them have the same storage capacity as my six year old iPod which is frankly a little shocking. My collection is sitting at 45GB right now and the largest iTouch is 64GB, so I wouldn’t have to make any hard choices. I’d still be missing the assurance that a new device would even work with my computer though.

The most frustrating part of this whole experience has been how long Apple has known about this error in iTunes code. The support page I found indicates they’ve been aware of this issue or a similar issue for the last two years and haven’t fixed it. Peter Jackson’s finished two movies faster than that!

The core of it is that Apple won’t fix an error when the error only occurs on their competitors machines. Its turned me off so much to their company that I’m now looking into getting a different MP3 player.

So… Any suggestions?

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 6

The continent of Gurutama that the dwarves originated in, Hearthland.
The continent of Gurutama that the dwarves originated in, Hearthland.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 5

Next in line for the “describe the races” theme I’ve got going on here are the earthy dwarves.

I was the player controlling the dwarves in the Dawn of Worlds game.

They started off in the mountains of the western continent, Hearthland.

The dwarves are ruled by a group of priests that interpret the Holy Book.

The dwarves believe in a cycle of rebirth and death for the world as a whole.

They bury themselves in the earth to survive the death and remerge after the rebirth to guide the world towards good and prosperity.

The Book is the guiding means for them, containing knowledge and predictions from the past on how to best guide the people of the new world.

When Navillus emerged to rule the Najar humans, the dwarves were quite upset.

Something from outside the world came in, which the Book was unable to predict. Furthermore the outside presence was malevolent, seeking to corrupt the people of the world instead of leading them towards the light.

The dwarves moved to attack the humans and defeat the Black Prince on his own ground. They sought for allies among the different races of the world.

Only the elves fell in with the alliance (more on elves to come later)

The dwarf attack succeeded and the Najar Empire was shattered, only beginning to rebuild itself near the end of the Dawn of Worlds game.

Navillus didn’t care though. He saw the dwarves only as new subjects.

The dwarves who stayed in Najar became corrupted and began to act separately from the dwarves in Hearthland.

The western dwarves have become isolationist since.

The empire dwarves had many revolts to deal with after claiming the Najar Empire.

The Empire soon fractured and the dwarven kings of Syluk have struggled to reclaim it for centuries.

And that would be the historical background of the dwarves in Gurutama.

Next up are the elves.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 7

The Other Room in D&D

D&D is typically played with everyone in the same room or on the same video call if you’re my group.

The DM plays out the action and all the other players interact with each other and the DM.

Sometimes a change is needed.

What if one PC scouts ahead and the DM doesn’t want the other players to share the information that PC gets?

You could trust the players to only act on information their characters would know, but its difficult to rely on that. It’s easy for the DM and the players to forget where the line between character knowledge and their own knowledge is.

The problem is easily solved by restricting such knowledge.

When a player scouts the next room in a dungeon without the others the DM will take him into the other room with his character sheet and dice.

The player then explores the room on his own.

If there’s a monster in there, he has to fight it on his own. He can still call for help to the others, but they won’t necessarily hear him.

If there’s treasure in the other room, the PC could claim it for himself and not tell the others what he found. Golden chalice? Sweet! Since the PC found it on his own, he doesn’t need to share.

At the end of this week’s session I took one of my players into the other room (separate video call).

His PC hadn’t gone into another room, but instead was taking a vacation separate from the other PCs.

Not as exotic as a fancy golden chalice in the other room of a dungeon, but it was still something we felt should be separate.

The other PCs wouldn’t know what happened there unless they are told. Additionally, watching it probably would’ve been boring for them and disruptive for the player whose PC was there.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

How D&D Works With Absentees

Freshman Dorm Desk
A picture of me not sitting at my desk in my Freshman dorm.

So I wasn’t at my group’s weekly D&D session this week.

We play almost every Sunday, but last night I didn’t go because I really wanted to work on my Alexander paper.

So what happens when I can’t go to D&D?

Before we had a set time for our sessions every week, D&D rarely happened without me.

I’m the DM for my group, but I’m also the one most often organizing when, where, and what we play.

I’m not saying our group is an autocracy, I’m just usually the one making suggestions that the group approves of.

But we’ve had a set time for playing on Sunday for a couple months now. Everyone expects us to play then.

Fortunately, I’m not the only DM for my group anymore either.

One of my friends also DMs a campaign set in the pre-historical Aegean islands. The political scene of the his campaign parallels the accepted version of real events, but there’s a lot of freedom for the players to impact the world as well.

So when I can’t make it to a session, my friend runs his campaign.

What happens to a player’s character when that player can’t make a session?

There’s a couple of different options.

#1 The character can fade into the background and do almost nothing during the session. We’ve used this a few times and it works decently.

#2 Another player or the DM runs the character. I like this one best, but sometimes a character’s battle tactics are too complicated for someone else to pick up for just one session.

#3 The character is removed from the session for in character reasons. Maybe the character gets sick. Maybe he has to go home and check on his family for a few days. Maybe he has a business he runs in town. This option doesn’t break immersion, but it does cut the absent character out of any important action during that session.

I haven’t gotten the specifics from the group yet, but when I was gone this week they did #1 or #3. I’ll figure out what happened with my character next time I can make it to a session.

I won’t be playing next Sunday either as I’m doing some Easter stuff. I’ll do my best to have a D&D post ready for you on Monday though!

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 3

https://i0.wp.com/ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/img/champion/splash/Nocturne_0.jpg

League of Legends Map Part 2

In this post I use the word champion a lot. A champion is the character a player uses within League of Legends. There are over a hundred champions to choose from. The picture above is of one of my favorite champions, Nocturne.

How do people actually play on the map for League of Legends? Why have I described all these turrets and minions and monsters?

The reason is the one of the in game currencies, gold.

League of Legends has three in game currencies, Influence Points (IP), Riot Points (RP), and gold.

IP and RP aren’t used when actually playing the game. They can get you new champions to play with or new looks for those champions. They also get you minor bonuses in game called runes.

Gold is used for purchases while actually playing the video game. Gold starts at 475 at the beginning of every game, enough for one small item.

For a bit of perspective, short games often end with each player having 6,000-9,000 gold. An average length game ends with each player having 12,000-15,000 gold. A long game ends with 15,000-20,000 gold for each player.

Gold buys items. These items can do tons of different things.

They all provide a few basic statistics, making your champion stronger in particular areas. Attack damage makes your attacks stronger, ability power makes your abilities stronger, armor and magic resist prevent a bit of damage to your champion. Health lets your champion take more damage over all. Speed makes your champion faster. You get the idea.

The big items also provide a few special bonuses. One of them lets your champion freeze in place for one second and ignore all damage during that period. Another gives extra strength to all the other players on your team. Another makes your attacks hit three enemies instead of just one. There are dozens of other cool little bonuses.

But how do you get more gold to buy items? There are four basic ways, killing things, having items that give gold, destroying towers or other large objectives, and just waiting (everyone gets a certain amount of gold per second no matter what).

First, killing things. If your champion gets the last hit to kill a minion, monster, or opposing champion, then your champion gets a certain amount of gold.

The amount of gold from kills is decided by how hard it is to kill the target. Champions give the most, followed by the big monsters at each monster camp. After that are minions, with the small monsters at each monster camp being last.

There are a few items that give you more gold just by having them. The ways they give you gold vary. Some give it when you are close to someone else who kills a minion, some give you more for each thing you kill, etc.

Destroying towers or other large objectives is the point of the whole game. Taking down one of those gives a bunch of gold to the whole team. Often the team of five people will gather up to take down a specific tower or objective.

What are the other objectives? Remember the Baron Nashor and Dragon I mentioned in a previous post? Those are the other objectives.

Baron Nashor and the Dragon are two large monsters that sit in their camps adjacent to the River. They are effectively as big as a turret and can deal nearly as much damage as one. Because of this the whole team or close to the whole team is usually required to take them down as minions will not be taking the laser shots like they do at towers.

Killing Baron Nashor or the Dragon gives the whole team a buttload of gold. Baron Nashor has the additional benefit of giving a buff to your whole team, increasing all of their statistics. This buff lasts for four minutes.

The Baron respawns after seven minutes while the Dragon respawns after six minutes.

A lot of the gameplay of League of Legends requires teamwork. I’ll describe how a team is chosen in another post.

If reading this has gotten you interested in League of Legends you can click this link to download the game for free. Doing so also gives me a little boost in game, so we’re both winners! League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Meta

League of Legends Map Part 2

https://i2.wp.com/img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20131205125131/leagueoflegends/images/4/49/Summoner%27s_Rift_jungle_map_with_monsters.png

League of Legends Map Part 1

Today the focus will be on a specific part of the League of Legends map, the Jungle.

The Jungle is the space between the lanes and the river. There are four different sections of the Jungle formed by the X that the River and the middle (mid) lane create.

Each of the four sections contains three monster camps. Each section has a few names in the game. The top section is called purple top because it is close to purple’s top lane. The right section is called purple bottom (bot) Jungle for the same reason. The bottom section is called blue bot and the left section is called blue top.

The sections have other names that are used more often that refer to the specific monsters within them, so lets take a look at those.

Purple top and blue bot are mirrored and contain the same three monster camps in identical places. The central camp is the Lizard Elder and his two Lizard buddies. The Elder attacks with his nasty sword while the little Lizards shoot fire from their staves.

When a player kills the Lizard Elder they get a buff that lets them deal a little bit of extra damage every time they hit a minion, monster, or another player. This buff has a visual effect of red runes circling the player who has it. This red effect is why the section of the Jungle with the Lizard Elder is sometimes called the red Jungle. The two different red Jungles are differentiated by calling them “their red side Jungle” or “our red side Jungle.”

The other two monster camps around the Lizard Elder are the Golems and the Wraiths.

The Golems are two big rocky brothers. One is an older brother and is thus bigger than his younger brother.  The Golems attack you by smashing you with their rock hands.

The Wraiths are four ghostly looking things. One of the Wraiths is bigger than the other three. The Wraiths attack by shooting out little ghost lights from their hands.

The purple bot and blue top Jungle sections are dominated by the Ancient Golem at the center who also has two Lizard buddies. The Ancient Golem is the huge father version of the two Golem brothers in the red side Jungle. The Lizard buddies are just like the two that hang out with the Lizard Elder.

When a player kills the Ancient Golem he receives a buff, just like with the Lizard Elder. The Ancient Golem’s buff has blue runes instead of red runes. The player with the blue buff can use more of their special abilities and can use them faster. The blue buff gives these sections of the Jungle their name, blue side Jungle. Just like with the red side Jungle, the two sections are differentiated by which side of the river they are on, our side or their side.

The two monster camps around the Ancient Golem are the Wight and the Wolves.

The Wight is a recent addition to the Jungle. The company that makes League of Legends, Riot Games, updates the game all the time with significant updates at the beginning of every year. 2014 saw the addition of the Wight to the Jungle along with a few other things.

The Wight  is all by it’s lonesome in the Jungle. It is bigger than all the other Jungle monsters except for the Ancient Golem and the Lizard Elder. The Wight looks a lot like the Wraiths and attacks in the same way they do which is why the Wight is sometimes called the Big Wraith. I find this a little confusing because there already is a big Wraith in the Wraith camp itself. I’ll keep calling it the Wight and hoping that everyone else changes.

The Wolf camp has three Wolves, a mama Wolf and two baby Wolves. You can call the baby Wolves Romulus and Remus if you want. The Wolves attack by biting (obviously).

The monsters are a lot like minions, but different in key ways.

Minions walk down the lanes, but if attacked will follow the attacking player out of the lanes. The monsters don’t leave their camps. If you hit them and lead them away from their camp, the monsters will head back to the camp and quickly return to full health.

Minions spawn every thirty seconds. The monster camps only respawn if all the monsters in them are killed. The respawn times are 50 seconds for the Golems, Wolves, Wraiths and Wight, and 5 minutes for the Ancient Golem and Lizard Elder.

The monster camps do not respawn until all the monsters in them are killed. This allows a clever player to kill the Ancient Golem or Lizard Elder on their opponent’s side and waltz away with the buff, leaving the Lizard buddy scraps for the other team to have.

There are two more monsters on the map above, Baron Nashor and the Dragon. Those two are different than the other monster camps, so I will describe them another time.

There’s a lot more to tell you about how the map is played, so I hope you keep reading to learn it all!

If reading this has gotten you interested in League of Legends you can click this link to download the game for free. Doing so also gives me a little boost in game, so we’re both winners! League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 3