Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Recruiting Begins!

Today I visited a few of the easier to find geek hot-spots in my local area, hoping to drum up some leads for new gamers. The first stop was a comic shop named Steve's Comic Relief where the owner kindly allowed me to hang up a "Gamer Wanted" flyer. Then it was off to the Game Room, a fully stocked hobby shop where there already was a couple of gamers engaged in a tabletop game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I picked up a copy of the Settler's of Catan and the store staff also accepted one of my flyers. The last stop was the local library, again another flyer was posted. With the bait set, I can only hope to lure some interested gamers to my campaign!

I am a little nervous about trying to find new people to game with, it's a bit like online dating. You never know who you are going to meet and I feel you have to take the same precautions. I am going to lay down some ground rules and meet prospective gamers in a neutral location. A Fear the Boot podcast offered some great suggestions on how to recruit new gamers and I plan to use a few of them. In addition to this I also searched on for some local gaming groups but there weren't very many in my area. I am going to try the forums at some of the more popular gaming sites and see if I can find some more local gamers! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I chose 4th Edition D&D for my return to gaming

It's not too hard to guess why I chose to GM 4e D&D in my return to role-play gaming. First of all, it's easily the most ubiquitous RPG around, even your grandma has probably heard of Dungeons & Dragons. I mean, besides the heavy nostalgia it induces every time I see a new WOTC book published, it holds a commanding share of the tiny niche that is the RPG hobby. To that end, I'm hoping it will be that much easier for me to find and recruit new/existing gamers to my gaming group. 
It was my first choice, but it was not my only choice. My wife and older children are serving as my guinea pigs for the experiment that is my return to GMing, so in an effort to make it easier on them and not crush any desire they might have for RPGing right out of the gate, I wanted to go with an easier, more established ruleset and they are semi-familiar with previous editions (3.0 & 3.5). 
There were other games on the table for consideration. My wife and offspring have all been exposed to my huge collection of RPG titles and (under my watchful eye) have thumbed carefully  through the pages of some the titles in my collection at one time or another. Foremost among the contenders to D&D was: Shadowrun 4th Ed, Star Trek RPG (I have both the LUG or Decipher versions, but sadly not the Fasa one!), BESM, Star Wars Saga edition, Battletech and Mutants & Masterminds. I myself was strongly pushing for Star Trek in some form, but we all couldn't agree. In fact, the only one we could all agree on was D&D 4th ED, so in the end the choice was made. Still I do not want to give up the other RPGs and I have decided that once I get my GMing abilities back up to par, I will run another campaign in one of the other systems. Set your phasers for fabulous!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where's my Character Builder update?

I am impatiently awaiting the announced update for the D&D 4th Edition Character builder. Like some Pavlovian experiment, since about 5am EST, I've been clicking the character builder icon, waiting for the update message, then closing the application in disappointment when there is no update.  My geek impatience knows no boundaries. I must be appeased! I require instant gratification! This is the age of G3 networks and wireless connectivity. I want my stuff now!
Maybe I can distract myself with wistful musings. For example, I can't wait to start generating some of the new characters with the "official" ruleset! I am also wondering why WOTC didn't coordinate the character builder update with the official release of the Player's Handbook 2. It seems like that would be a logical target date to generate maximum interest. Some of you reading this may wonder why I don't simply roll my characters up the old school way. I would and I still do, believe me, it's one of the small pleasures I enjoy when I have time. The key phrase being "when I have time". The character builder is just so convenient! With a busy family/work schedule, I need to allocate every minute of my free time to whatever hobbies I can fit in, so anything that saves me time is a bonus!
Back to the update, I still think the Druid, Sorcerer, Bard and Gnome should have been included in the first Players Handbook, but now that they are finally released I will reserve my criticism. Sadly, I am already looking forward to what could possibly be in the Player's Handbook 3! Monk's are assumed, but what other new class awaits? The necromancer maybe?
I just checked again, still no update (witness my OCD, recorded for posterity!) 
UPDATE! I just checked and the site is down for maintenance! This leads me to believe the update is imminent! My mouse finger is poised over the clickity-click-clicker!

Monday, March 23, 2009

So I Joined the RPGA

I was unable to sleep after returning from our Game Day event and I stayed up into the wee hours on Saturday night, registering my DCI# so that I could join the RPGA. The WOTC website kept crashing on me, but seemed to calm down as the evening went on.  I even took the open book GM test to become a 4th edition Herald GM. I scored a 95%. I expected to score a 100%, but a vaguely worded stealth question lead to the demise of my perfect score (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). I will take comfort from the words of Cypher in the Matrix "No one makes the jump the first time." Wizards has changed how stealth works in the new Player's Handbook 2, so I will be sure to brush up on that weak spot.
I read as much as I could about the RPGA, it seems fairly structured, but I'll find out for sure when I put it to the test very soon. My two oldest children wanted to become members as well, but it seems like I'll need at least four RGPA sanctioned gamers to make my home events official. My daughter is busy trying to recruit one of her friends from high school, but I may have to draft more members of my family to fill in the extra spots. I also put in an order for more DCI membership cards (it was not a very intuitive process, I hope I did it right!) so that I can expand the geek gaming forces with gamers from the local area, but that is a topic for a future blog post!
I browsed through the huge choice of modules, selecting and downloading two adventures to run my group through and we are in the process of rolling up some RPGA legal characters. I chose the ADAP1-1 Barrow of the Ogre King and CORM1-1 The Black Knight of Arabel modules. I didn't get a chance to read through them yet, but I hope to squeeze some time in tonight! Hopefully, by this coming weekend I will be running my group through the first one!
On a side note, I read an interesting article (Got Wiki?) over at At Will. It was in reference to a Gnome Stew article and looked like a good idea to help any GMs pressed for time. I think I will try and get a wiki set up for the group we create.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Came, We Saw, We Almost Conquered!

I took my two oldest children to their first ever gaming event! It was the Worldwide D&D Game Day: Player’s Handbook 2 event hosted at The Comic Lair. If you haven't been to the store, you should stop in when you get a chance, Chad(the owner) is a great guy and is very knowledgeable about everything in his store. The place is literally packed wall to wall with geeky gaming  goodness, from comics to action figures to boardgames, he has a little bit of everything!
It was a little under an hour drive for us, but we still arrived early and took advantage of that time to sign up for the RPGA. I wanted to make sure that we all joined so that we could participate in any future WOTC sanctioned events. I even plan on trying to organize some events closer to home.
Turnout was light for the event and some expected gamers didn't show up, so when our GM (Matt) arrived we ended up drafting the proprietor Chad into the group and ran through
One Dark Night in Weeping Briar with just four characters in our party. My son had his heart set on playing the warforged barbarian Squeaks and was immensely pleased Squeaks rocks! when the GM passed the mini and character sheet for the character to him, to start the game. 
I was given the dragonborn paladin Balasar and my daughter chose to play the tiefling invoker Markaria. Chad opted to play the gnome bard Roswyn. With the minis and character sheets handed out, it was time to game!
Matt (our GM) seemed a little nervous at first, but soon warmed up and had us combating the evil creatures assaulting the poor inhabitants of the town of Weeping Briar. The WOTC pre-generated character sheets were very handy, although I wish they would have printed the power stat blocks in color, it made it a little more difficult to quickly select the powers we wanted to use. It was also difficult trying to use some of the abilities of the characters since we were not familiar with most of the powers. I think WOTC should have designed the adventure with lower level heroes, the eleventh level characters had so many options that our combat started to bog down as we scanned the huge amount of choices available to our characters. I imagine it would have been a lot smoother if we had leveled theses characters from first through eleventh ourselves (and thus gained familiarity with the nuances of the different powers), but as it was, I didn't think it was very new gamer friendly.
I'm diggin this! We ended up gaming for about four hours, but didn't quite make it all the way to the end of the adventure, because plans we had  for later in the evening required us to leave. Still we all had a good time, Chad & Matt were great and my kids got their first taste of 4th Edition gaming! I myself had a good time, much better than my own first experience at a gaming event as a teenager.
We were already talking about things we would have done differently with our characters on the drive home and planning for our next event! I've posted some pictures from the event in this article and I will post the remainder up in a gallery!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Worldwide D&D Game Day ... and so it begins

It's 4AM on Saturday, the 21st of March and I woke up so excited about Worldwide D&D Game Day that I couldn't fall back asleep, so I decided to blog out some of my nervous energy! As part of a promise I made to myself to get back into active RPG gaming I decided to start trying to attend more gaming events and cons throughout the year. As luck would have it WWD&DGD has arrived at just the right time. Last week I did a quick search on the Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) website and found two fairly local spots that were hosting the event. I immediately fired off some emails inquiring about the event details and asked my two oldest children if they wanted to attend! Their answer was a resounding yes!

The three of us have gone over the tiny amount of information provided by WOTC and have tried our best to be prepared. I've read over the fourth edition rules a couple of times and I've run my oldest son through a mock combat or two to test out the rules of the system. I'm hoping the DM that is running the event is a good one, so that he can help us with any rules we aren't familiar with.

The marketing blurb for the game day reads as follows:

Ready an Action to Play on March 21st!

Prepare yourself (and your friends) to join D&D fans all around the world on March 21st for Worldwide D&D Game Day: Player’s Handbook 2. Everything you need to play will be on-hand, so it’s a great chance for new players, as well as veterans, to band together and find some adventure.

Come try out the new races (such as the gnome) and the new classes (like the invoker and barbarian) while you battle wicked fiends and thwart dark plots. No matter if you’re new to the game or a 4th Edition veteran; we'll have everything you need to embark on an all-new adventure.

The adventure, entitled One Dark Night in Weeping Briar, runs in 2-3 hours and includes five pregenerated 11th-level characters. The characters are:

  • Ilvarra, drow avenger
  • Markaria, tiefling invoker
  • Roswyn, gnome bard
  • Squeaks, warforged barbarian
  • Balasar, dragonborn paladin (uses material from the upcoming Divine Power product)

In addition to the adventure, there's a trivia activity sheet. Test your knowledge of our 4th Edition releases since the game's launch.

We have no idea how the DM plans to assign characters so we've tried our best to brush up on the details of each of the classes and races. Since I prefer DMing over running a player character I have no strong preference for any of the characters above, but my son is hoping for the warforged barbarian and my daughter is torn between the avenger and the bard. I'm thinking I will choose last if given the option. 

My main goals are to ensure my kids have a great time and hopefully make some new gaming contacts/friends. I had a bad experience at my first gaming event as a young teen (that's a blog story for another day!) and I am determined that my kids will have a better first time than I did! Being somewhat of an introvert, part of the challenge for me will be to make sure I keep myself and them engaged in the story and the gaming. A lot of that will depend on the DM, but I am going to remain optimistic! A secondary goal is to sign the three of us up for the RPGA. I'm hoping it will be quick and painless! I am planning to join the GM Program and start running sanctioned RPGA games.

The event is about an hour away (in New Jersey traffic) and starts at noon, we are going to listen to some of our favorite gaming podcasts (Fear the Boot, WOTC Penny Arcade/PvP) on the way down to get our gaming mood stoked. We are bringing our own dice, the Player's Handbooks 1 & 2, a camera (so I can post some pictures of the event here) and our game faces. 


Friday, March 20, 2009

A little bit about me...

I thought I would use my first post to share a little bit of my gaming background. Like most role-playing gamers, I got my start in the hobby with the classic D&D rules at the ripe old age of thirteen! I was living in Victory Valley, California at the time. I already had a strong interest in fantasy books, having read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. None of my then current friends were into fantasy, so it was mainly a passive interest, but then a slightly older kid named Bryan moved into a house across the street from me and changed my life.
Bryan was a member of the Science Fiction book club and owned tons of fantasy books. He was a bit anal about how his books were treated and immediately laid the smackdown on me the first time I flipped a book over and set it on the floor, open pages down, to mark my place. He went on to "school" me in the proper reading of a book. He hated creased spines and dog-eared pages, he loathed grease and food stains on the pages and I feared what would happen should a page actually be ripped or removed from one of his books!
One day as we were sitting in his room talking about one of his books that I had just read, he went into his closet and pulled out a new curiosity. "You ever hear of Dungeons and Dragons?" he asked as he set a stack of booklets on the floor of his room. He actually was showing me 1st edition D&D and he also had the Chainmail rules and if memory serves something called Blackmoor. I was immediately drawn to the game!
Bryan quickly explained the basics of the game to me and I spent the rest of that afternoon rolling up a couple of characters while he put together a quick dungeon delve. I still have fond memories of those long summers days, with nothing to do but game to our hearts content! Did I mention Bryan wanted to be a chef? That boy could cook up some mean desserts! We would sit around and stuff our faces and roll dice all day long.
The big turning point for me came when Bryan asked me if I wanted to try my hand at being a DM. I suspected that he preferred playing more than Dungeon Mastering, but I was willing to give it a try. I was immediately hooked on DMing. The complete power and creativity it gave me just blew my mind. I sat around for days creating and populating dungeons, we soon decided that I would always DM and I have never regretted that choice!
      The spark of interest I had in D&D soon grew into a raging bonfire! I found a hobby shop in nearby Apple valley and soon I was happily paging through my very own copies of the Dungeon Master's guide and the Monster Manual. I started buying all the dice and miniatures I could get my hands on. I started mowing lawns for money so I could support my hobby! The addiction was immediate and permanent!
Bryan and I even attended our very first gaming convention at the same hobby shop in Apple valley, but it didn't turn out so well (that is another story). Still it did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the game.
I eventually ended up moving to Germany, but the damage had been done. I took all my gaming gear with me and found or recruited like minded players over seas. When I returned to the states (New Jersey) after graduating high school, I began recruiting my neighbors, DMing for several groups of husbands and wives. I joined the Air Force and recruited guys from the barracks. Everyone I met was a potential gamer!
I branched out into other games and types of gaming. Warhammer Fantasy Role-play and all the Games Workshop tabletop miniatures games. I was painting and collecting hordes of miniatures. My geek horde was truly massive!
Then something happened, I met a girl and fell in love. Suddenly, I didn't have time to game. I left the Air Force, went to trade school and began a career as a programmer. We started having children and suddenly I had no time for anything else.
Skipping ahead several years and my life began to stabilize again. I had kept my love for gaming and began playing computer games like SSI's Curse of the Azure Bonds, Wing Commander, even the now much despised Everquest( aka Evercrack!), but the demands of family and career left me no time for pen & paper gaming. I was still collecting all the role-playing game systems (and miniatures) I could get my hands on but I never played them.
Fast forwarding to my current life and my four children are now growing up and have been carefully raised and nurtured appreciating all things geeky. My sixteen year old daughter can wow her friends with her spotless imitation of a raging Tusken Raider or her knowledge of the player classes from the current edition of D&D, my thirteen year old son has level 70 characters in World of Warcraft, my youngest daughter plays the priest for instance runs and my nine year old is a deadly adversary on the Team Fortress servers across the intertron. I bought them all the starter D&D sets and my oldest has dabbled at being a DM, but other than board games and a few aborted attempts at D&D 3.0 there has been no RPGing in our household.
So at last, I have finally begun to manage my free time better and I decided that I would return to my DMing ways. Although, I've always kept up on the current editions of Dungeons & Dragons, they only sat on my shelves gathering dust. I vowed this year that all of that would change. Thus, the title of this blog: Ludios Resurrectio - The Resurrected Gamer. 
Please join me, as I journey back into the world of pen & paper role playing!