Archive for the ‘4e’ Category

Last weekend, our group decided to try something different.  In this case, long-time poster and first-time GM Hikkikomori volunteered to run a few D&D games now and then, both to try out the activity, and to give me a chance to actually play for once.

Hikkikomori made a good showing, taking to the role of GM naturally.  The 4e rules were a solid springboard to work with, and Hikkikomori knew enough of the rules to make good quick judgement calls on whatever came up.  The scenario was pretty standard, but that’s not a point against his creativity.  The group was looped into caravan duty, with all of us escorting a cheapskate caravan master who was our only key to getting to the City of Five Kings.

The inevitable ambush was expected, but I will admit that it was a perfect way to get the group into the irreverent tone of a casual hack-and-slash D&D adventure.  The fight was longer than we had expected, but Hikkikomori demonstrated a good sense of pacing, making sure that it never drew on too long with too much of the “I hit, you hit” mentality.  Creative use of his Caravan Master’s idiosyncrasies were enough to keep up on our toes as we tried to corral the caravan master away (lest he die) and still take down the bad guys.

Overall, I felt that Hikkikomori has a lot of potential to be a GM that can roll with the blows that his players throw at him.  He’s quick to react, and quicker to make interesting ways to keep the game from devolving into a simple tactical exercise.  I’m eager to see what he has planned after this one, and see if he’ll work in other forms of conflict in the game as well, considering that our characters are about to get into a large metropolitan location full of crazy potential for all sorts of shenanigans.


[D&D 4e] Prepping a Refresher Course

Posted: October 10, 2011 by pointyman2000 in 4e, Articles, Roleplaying Games

Hikkikomori, avid comments guy in this blog, and a player in my gaming group has decided to give GMing a whirl, and for his first attempt, has selected 4th Edition D&D as the system for it.  As such I’ve been re-reading my core set, both to get me back up to speed with regards to the rules so that I can help with rules lookups and keeping the gameplay experience moving smoothly.

I’m aware that there’s been a ton of books that have been put out ever since I bought the three core books, but I’ll stick to the basics for now.  Also, since the rest of the players aren’t as familiar with the rules, I figure I might as well prepare a refresher course, something along the lines of a couple of encounters to get the other players (and myself) used to our character’s powers and how they interact in the context of a combat encounter.

4e is one of those games that emphasizes tactical play over most other parts of the roleplaying game experience, but it’s not a bad game.  Arguably, it does exactly what it set off to do, and I feel that if anything, as long as expectations are set correctly, it’s easy enough for anyone to enjoy the game.  That said, I think that a measure of proficiency with regards to play will definitely help in making the game more enjoyable so what I’m doing might not necessarily be too crazy.

Sometimes, when my brain isn’t really up for high-concept campaigns, it always seems to drift back to something simple.

In this case, simple means a simple campaign concept, with a strong premise, easy entry points for characters, and an excuse to kill a lot of monsters.


Darker Days is my take on the Dark Fantasy Action-Adventure genre popular in videogames.  The player characters take on the roll of heroes fighting off the almost interminable tide of darkness.

To take wholesale a big plot element from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a dark ritual has scored a massive victory on the side of hell, and the souls of the deceased can no longer pass on to their eternal reward.  Instead, they are trapped in the material realm, even as the denizens of hell pour out en masse, eager to transform the earth into their own personal playground.


The campaign will be an episodic game, with the occasional side-story to deal with the backgrounds of each of the player characters.  It will have combat in every session, as taking the fight to the demons often involves raiding various dungeons and ruins that they’ve decided to make their home in.  Various NPCs from the few living settlements might be encountered, and if they survive these NPCs could be the source of further plots.


D&D 4e may have had its share of detractors, but I have to admit that whatever it does, it does well.  So for a game like Darker Days, I’d go with it as it fulfills all the necessary situations I can really think of.  That said, I’d stick to the basics, the 3 core books should be sufficient for a campaign of this nature.


  • Ravenloft
  • Castlevania
  • Diablo

If there’s one thing that fantasy gaming has always needed, it would be more products that focus on the little details of a given culture. Books like Martial Cultures: The Sijara fill that particular need quite well.

As a GM who enjoys having varied cultures that go beyond simple stereotypes, I found Martial Cultures: The Sijara to be an entertaining read that goes into detail about the nature of the Culture in question, from their beliefs, their myths, little details like fashion options and the idiosyncrasies that make characters of that culture to be more than just another face in the crowd.

What I liked the most about this book is how easily the author enables players to understand the Sijaran culture and makes it easy for them to play one without having to go too technical. Little details like fashion choices and little behaviors that may seem just a little odd to outsiders are explained in a fashion that makes sense in the context of a “real” culture and that alone makes it a great read.

For those interested in crunch, the book also goes into full detail on how to integrate the culture into a campaign setting, adding little rules tweaks, sample feats, character options, and even plot hooks.

Overall, Martial Cultures: The Sijara is a dense, well-written, and interesting book that lends much-needed flavor to the standard fantasy rpg campaigns out there. I’d definitely recommend it for GMs or even players who are looking to lend more depth to their settings.


Martial Cultures: The Sijara is available from DriveThruRPG for $4.95 or roughly PhP 214.00

If you’d like to check out the rest of the Martial Cultures series of books as well as some very handy RPG related software, please visit Chaotic Shiny Productions

After running a string of relatively high concept games which deal with heavier themes, I think it’s about time that I take a break from the super-serious stuff and come up for air.  One thing I’ve learned to avoid burnout is to switch gears now and then, taking a moment to break out of your established conventions to try something new.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean a comedy-type game for me, there are other genres with lighter, but no less entertaining stories to tell.  My first HERO campaign was like this, with young heroes dealing with everyday problems with school and life along with occasionally kicking super villain butt.

And so I’m considering my options.  I’ve got the rest of the L5R campaign to play through, and a continuation of my “Exalted for People Who Don’t Like Exalted” campaign after that but once both of those are over, I’d like to think that I have a clean slate by which to explore something new.

Of course changing the usual campaigns I run to something less than standard is always a gamble.  Pitches have to be done carefully on my end, as anything that doesn’t elicit a “Hell Yeah!” from the players will mean that there won’t be enough player driven momentum to keep the game running.  That said, there’s got to be a few games ideas from my old notes or work-addled brain that should be worth a shot:

  • Spycraft is a definite contender.  A small team of specialists on rogue missions for fun an profit is always a good idea, though I’ll hold off until Spycraft 3.0 comes out before I give it a spin.
  • D&D 4e is another option.  I had a good experience with D&D 4e, as long as expectations are appropriately calibrated, and the fights not drawn out to forever it might actually work.
  • A Supers Campaign is always a good thing in my books.  Whether it’s DC Adventures or HERO 6th is up in the air, but I should focus on something a lot lighter in tone.  Up to the DC Animated universe level of seriousness is good… but Batman: The Brave and the Bold might be too much.
  • Metabarons is an oldie but definitely a goodie.  Thanks to the fact that it’s actually D6 Space Opera, there’s a wealth of information I can skim from in other D6 products (Starwars D6 I’m looking at you.)  Just add a ton of sugar to my double power expresso and I should be able to run this no problem.
  • 7th Sea is a game that is just begging to be ran.  I’ve had the books for years now but I’ve only run them in convention one shots.  This error has to be corrected.
  • Deadlands is another good choice.  I enjoyed the Crew of Nine campaign I ran before, when I was learning the ropes of Savage Worlds.  It was a fun campaign with lots of laughs, so I’d mark that as a winner in my books.

All of these campaign options are fun, with systems that don’t necessarily get too complex (oh, except for maybe Spycraft and HERO, but their complexity is often a good thing)  but most importantly they can provide a good, fun time without having to go high concept.