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D&D Take 5 uncut

I posted something similar to my notes on Facebook, but I was rather tame there. Tame isn't my piece, really. I was born and bred in an area of Germany where swearing is part of communication, and if people are offended, well, I don't give a fuck.

Now, after having gone tits-up against their own product, revised and improved by Paizo, Wankers of the Coast have come to the amazing insight that it is actually wise to listen to their fanbase. Really? I mean... REALLY? After alienating people who have stood by first TSR and then pre-Hasbro Wizards, folks, like me, who stopped buying their products after they basically told me my way of gaming was primitive, not to mention the farce they did with the Forgotten Realms, that company wants me to come back and purchase anything? Yea, I signed up for the playtest, but as my gaming time is somewhat limited, and my players are barely English literate, I doubt I will really playtest it. And besides, if they really cared about what I and many others, including such creative heavyweights like Margaret Weis, thought about their move to remove brandnames amongst other things from their products, that info has been available on the net for a hell of a lot of years. Various blogs, forums etc, all these sources could and should have been available to the mighty managers of Wizards who probably still have no idea what D&D is all about.

Publicly held companies have only one interest in mind, satisfying their shareholders, not the folks purchasing their stuff.

And now they even want to re-release the 1st edition core books... in the US. Yep none of us foreign bastards are going to get them. Then again, I have some printing of them in my library anyway, and though I do like to read parts of them every once in a while, I feel that this is merely a ploy to get some decent sales numbers again. The grognards (with 25 years of playing RPGs I believe I am only a demi-grognard) own them books anyway, and you can get decent enough copies on ebay all the time.

So why release a product that, except for nostalgic reasons, is somewhat dated... hell, I have trouble seeing the big picture with the damned things because it is all so haphazardly shuffled together that reading and playing the game according to these rules gives the term adventure gaming a whole new meaning. Cash, and possibly lulling those of us willing to believe Saul turned into Paul. Wizards still has to meet those marks set by the big brother Hasbro, and apparently this release is part of the scheme.

Why then did they discontinue the D&D minis line...now that I think of it, that line went pretty strong back in 3rd edition days, and quickly vanished after the updated rules were released in the wake of 4e. And to be perfectly honest, the molds to many of those later gen minis could have taugh many pornstars something about sucking...

Yea, let's make producing shit cheaper while we maintain the price. Such glorious schemes are bound to succeed on every level, always. btw this is me being sarcastic.

Removing the logos of the various separate novel lines, like Dragonlance or the Realms, letters and words that made it easy for fans to find those books in the store, was another such stroke of genius. You. Do. Not. Eliminate. The. Fucking. Logo. Of. A. Successful. Brand. And that is common sense. One does not need great business savy to get such things. If a logo, like the Realms one, has existed for the better part of 2 decades, it is ingrained in the readers'/consumers' conscience. Removing it is like killing a well loved baby just because you are the parent. It doesn't matter if the novels still exist, the brandname is NOT D&D for those books, it is Dragonlance... and it takes a special kind of fuckwit to wipe that slate clean.

more on this later

It's been a while

Not that I have fallen completely off the grid, but with finishing my novel, a massive heatwave, and other shit I just ... ah, fuck it, I wasn't in the mood...

Now, the soccer/football nonesense is done and something, aside from the perpetual noise of drunks and drunken fans (is there really a distinction between the two?) on the street, the colliseum has closed again until the next time the plebs is distracted by bread (in our case beer) and games. No, not much has changed from back what the caesars did in Rome to our times, now it's sports, or reality-TV-crap, or Brittney Spears... all bullshit that caters to the increasing brainlessness and apathy of the common folk while the rich and powerful shit on us and the world, metaphorically and literally, or spill on us... as in oil-spill...

Humanity hasn't really evolved, technology, yes, at a breakneck speed, but the inventors of such lovely machines as this keyboard I am typing on, the epitome of civilization... no evolution in sight, and by that I do not mean superpowers! Courtesy of almost every corporation we as a people turn more and more into lemmings, things are made easy, be it games (see my rants on WoW), food, entertainment (my rants on lack of bookknowledge somewhere around here), everything really. Maybe such a dystopian vision as Terminator isn't such a bad thing, because at the rate we are going humanity will not exist much longer, and maybe that is for the better.

Take environmental issues, e.g., aside from the petroleum guys from Britain I mean. If we think of global warming as a human leg ripped open from crotch to foot, bleeding all over the place. Then controlling car exhausts is like putting a bandaid on the little toe and saying "There, there now, all will be better". I mean compared to all the junk factories all over the world blow into the atmosphere car exhausts are very low on the totem pole. And catering to the corporations or to individual pride (Well, you western countries did this for decades, that junk is yours, we still can do our share) is complete and utter bullshit. To return to the bleeding leg analogy, that is like saying hey let's rip open the other leg as well, because there is an equal chance for everybody... fucking primitives!

And the people who lead our world, in business and politics, are similar to the Caesars of old, bread and games to the people... and despite all our glorified achievements we'd rather go and watch people "slaughter" each other than actually think and act.

I am waiting for the next barbarian horde to overrun our civilization, maybe this time around people actually learn something.

But I highly doubt that...

Fucking primitives
I did this little piece a few years ago with the goal to be published in the now comatose Candlekeep Compendium. Why comatose? Because Wizards haven't bothered to whip up a fansite policy until now.

A few have read this before, and even though I have an introduction by a Realms-celeb I will not publish that here, since it was meant for the Compendium. I'll say just that much, this celeb thinks this alternate version feels very Realmsian.

Maybe, if and when Wizards get their heads out of their collective asses, the entirety of this little piece will see the light of day.


So...here:

The problem I would like to address with this history is not only the impending Spellplague and its changes forced upon us by WotC, but also the lack of consequence in some of the more recent RSEs.
None of the events with the sole and shining exception of Return of the Archwizards were of any consequence in terms of the overall picture. Meaning the rock was thrown into the water, but there were no real waves affecting the cultures on the periphery.

For example: Lolth’s silence. Whereas the idea behind it was very nice, it appeared as if the drow questing to find out what had happened to their deity were in fact in a vacuum, and an opportunity to actually turn this into an event of truly epic proportions was left behind as yet another casualty of missed opportunities.

Another example: Shar’s attacks on the Weave and Mystra. Yet another idea that was not played out to its fullest potential, as Mystra is strangely lacking the energy to thwart Shar’s ploy. Yet again we are left wondering.

These and other events made the Realms as portrayed by WotC reach a certain point of un-believability that I can no longer bear.

Thus, without further ado:

1372

Eleasias 28
Lolth falls silent. With the sudden absence of Lolth in their priesthood the drow experience their first true freedom in many millennia. Cities like Menzoberranzan, however, are still in the firm grip of the Lolth-priesthood and the Baenre-led expedition to find out more about the goddess’s silence is sent out.
An oracle on Evermeet receives a vision of both Eilistraee and Corellon. She informs Amlaruil that Corellon wishes reconciliation with the drow as a whole, provided that Lolth is silenced forever. Both deities know that such an event can only happen when Lolth is killed and the drow can choose their path in life. The long-term goal is to free those who want to be freed from the oppression of the matriarchs and give them the Choice.
Amlaruil contacts mighty adventurers and sets them after the Baenre expedition, as a boon they are gifted with elven rings blessed by Corellon himself. Further sends Amlaruil a message to Mithral Hall revealing Menzoberranzan’s weakness to Bruenor Battlehammer, who immediately grasps the opportunity to strike at the ailing city. A few months after the initial contact between Amlaruil und Battlehammer, a force of dwarves of Mithral Hall, Citadels Adbar and Felbar, surviving svirfneblin, and drow knights of Eilistraee march for Menzoberranzan. Before the gates of the city the army meets the already mustered forces of Kanyyr Vhok and the Duergar. It comes to a few skirmishes until Emerus Warcrown, the Duergar battle leader and the half-demon agree on joining forces to storm the city. In secret Warcrown also agrees to rid the North of Menzoberranzan’s drow once and for all, granting Vhok’s tanarukk troops right to slaughter any drow that survives the initial storm, with the exception of anyone who surrenders to the knights of Eilistraee. Vhok agrees.

The end of the year 1372 DR sees the utter destruction of Menzoberranzan and the systematic slaughter of every non-Eilistraee worshiping drow in the Underdark surrounding the once proud city.

Gromph Baenre and a few select mages, including the lich Dyrr, escape via gate to an unknown location.

Warcrown’s actions, however, earn him the enmity of Eilistraee worshipers in the North, and the only way to avoid further bloodshed between dwarves and good drow is Warcrown’s stepping down from the throne, and the establishment of dark elven communities in Silverymoon and Felbar.

Meanwhile the adventurers following the dark elf group travel bodily to the Demonweb Pits to prevent Lolth’s awakening, and witness the battle between Vhaeraun and Selvetarm. Selvetarn is killed due to the adventurers’ timely intervention and Vhaeraun continues to assault Lolth’s gate, to no effect.

The drows’ trail leads again to the re-formed Demonweb Pits, a place which is more suitable to Lolth’s needs, although it still lies in the Abyss’s 66th layer. Here they prevent Halisstra Melarn losing her faith in Eilistraee and when the army of spiders attacks both groups, Corellon interferes, obliterating Lolth’s servants.

The one thing none of the goodly factions realized is that the destruction of Menzoberranzan and the drow lead to more turmoil than before. They discover the uncomfortable truth that Lolth’s chaos and fear of the drow was what kept the other malevolent races in the North Underdark at bay, and with that threat now gone, other more organized forces are now on the move. Thus Corellon and Eilistraee decide, alongside with the human deities of good, first and foremost Selune, that for the North to prosper Lolth must remain. However, Lolth is reduced to Lesser Power in the aftermath of the battle in which Corellon slays Danifae and the scions of House Baenre.

The following was meant as sidebars:

The genocide.

Eilistraee is not part of that; it is mainly the dwarven forces, both good and bad, and Khanyyr Vhok's horde. When this happens Eilistraee's knights turn against the alliance and threaten the dwarves of Felbar. Emerus Warcrown steps down from being King of Felbar to appease the Eilistraee worshiping drow, and enclaves for good drow are set up in various places.
_____________

The way I see it: there will certainly be tensions between the Silver Marches in general, Felbar in particular, and the Eilistraeean community. There will be a reckoning of some sorts because not everyone who converted has truly converted. Lolth has lost power but is not gone; I'd assume that she will try everything in her power to stir up even more anger and fear of the drow communities in the Silver Marches.

As for the rest of the drow population in the Underdark, not much did change for the other cities, with the exception that the stranglehold of the Spider Queen's priesthood will have lost much of its grip. Only the drow in and around Menzoberranzan were slaughtered.

Warcrown will come to realize, in a very Churchill-like way, that they slaughtered the wrong pig. The drow were and are a balancing force that keeps the Underdark races in check. With that now gone in the North, Duergar, Illithids and of course the Scoured Legion will have the freedom to act with far more wide-reaching consequences then Menzo's drow ever did.

A cold war situation seems plausible, hell, I'd go even so far in saying that a sort of ghetto-building and segregation will happen because the drow did have some lasting negative impact on the surface. Unlike the orcs who were quite predictable, the drow are not and as such will always be seen as a major threat. After all, who on the surface really knows about Eilistraee? She hasn't done that much in regard to showing folks that there are good drow.

As for Vhaeraun, I can see him rising in power since he brings stability, unlike Lolth, and something that resembles the old ways far more than Eilistraee's teachings.

Enjoy

And another update

Not that many folks read this, but I don't give a damn.

Homing in on the end of the novel, passed word 230k sometime today. Managed to get in some romantic stuff as well, not as erotic as a chapter in book one, just ... uh ... well ... cute/romantic (I hope) I'll have to put it in front of a woman prolly to gauge how and if it works. Got the comment "mind-movie" regarding the erotic scene, so I guess that one worked bwhahaha.

Now I have to tie up some things, and get the story to the cliff-hanging, yet somewhat revealing end. Since it's the middle part of the trilogy it won't be much of an upbeat ending, then again book one ended in much the same vein. It answers questions but slams home a whole bunch of new ones. Funnily enough, although George Martin inspired me to write from various (numerous) POVs, the entire cliffhanging shit has been around ever since the story's inception, and it works fine, but who am I to judge? I am biased anyways.

Finished "Enemy of God" yesterday, started "Excalibur". Mindboggling what Cornwell has done with the Arthur legend, unlike the crap Arthur movie from a few years ago which might have somehow (in a very fucked up way) been based on the trilogy, the novels depict a very likely scenario, unlike the movie, which was just another no-brain action flic. So far I haven't read a book of Cornwell's I don't like. Once I'm finished with this trilogy I probably will read something less historical in order to prepare for the proofing and rewriting of book deux.

well... nothing more to say...

Imagine...

a world without religion... *hushed silence* *fundamentalists scream and then are gone* no fucking around false reasons for going to war. Yea, wars would still be around, but no one would pretend they were fighting for their god, which incidentally is, of course, the only god around and the right god and the one god that brings love ... why would that one god want war then?

No more excuses for psycho nutjobs when they kill people, other than the "voices" made him do so. One person hears voices, he's insane, many hear them it's religion.

The funny thing about it is, should I be wrong, I still have lived as a decent human being, unlike those fuckers who shoot abortion doctors or strap bombs to their chests, so I'd probably stand in front of the gates because I LIVED my life the humane way. If those bastards are wrong, however, well, they wasted their lives and since they are dead don't even realize the errors of their stupidity. Note the IF, please, and from all of my posts concerning this topic it should be very very clear that I am an atheist, and bloody proud of it.

The ironic part about religion in general is that it gives people an excuse NOT to work on a better world today (or any other day for that matter) because it is the next world that counts. Or money... or both. Why clean my appartment when one will move into a shiny new one eventually?

Then again, without religion, where'd all the entertainment go? I mean the entire priests abuse children deal here in Germany, and the (I hate to say) German pope basically having sealed his lips about the issue of actually employing a paedophile when he was bishop here, or whatever, just makes me wanna chuckle... after I got angry a bit... the utter insanity of it all is something, I realize more and more, that only laughter can cure, because if we were to weep at the state of ignorance, the waterlevels in our oceans would prolly rise.

Reason and sanity go out the window the moment religion blows its wad.

Gaming and whatnot

In my D&D group we have some trouble finding a new date, usually we play every last Sat or Sun of a given month, but over the next two months that poses a problem... mainly because I thought it cool to end the last session with a cliffhanger, only to have all the heavy hitters being stunned by a mindflayer, and the cleric's player (who made her save) declare that she ain't available for march and april.

So now I have rouchly 50% of the party incapacitated and the entire group stranded in an Underdark cavern abode of a bunch of mindflayers. Did I fuck up? No, I wanted to put a challenge in front of them, but if I play without the people who are stunned and they die because the others die, I don't feel comfortable killing off PCs when their players aren't around. Killing chars in general, no problem, happened twice in this group already, and if they screw things up they will die... the thing is, as far as I've been able to tell their plan consists of teleporting away. Fine by me, only problem is that they will most definitely not end up where they wanna go, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be a real bastard and send them straight outa the pan into the fire... a shadow dragon would be fun... we'll see.

The main problem for me is that at the moment I am not really interested in DMing anymore, the one year DMing-hiatus with me focusing on getting better and writing was good for me, but now my mind is on the novels almost all the time, and I don't want to spend time prepping adventures.

That is the real bitch about any D&D game post 2e, you can't just use the old shit anymore. Well, you can, but you need to invest a shitload of time converting monsters. The 3.5 game is pretty much the best when it comes to actual mechanics, but why all those godsdamned statblocks? I do miss the old system with AC, HP, THAC0, #attacks, treasure, or maybe some more features, but not a whole page dedicated to what the monster/NPC can do. Who gives a fuck if the scary vampire dude has some points in Profession (seamstress)???

Also, templates would've been nice, not the templates you find in the MMs, but templates for any and every class and level. Need an orc fighter lvl 8? Grab the Ftr 8 template (maybe with the melee subsection) slap it on the generic orc, roll hitpoints and bedone, wash rinse repeat as needed. I mean seriously, who needs all the feats, spells and prestige classes, when one of the IMO most essential tools is still missing. Why has there never been a supplement that stats out every bloody character class from 1-20 with everything but the variables for stats and HPs worked out and calculated properly. If any designer happens to read this: I am pretty sure that such a supplement, or line of supplements (one for each class) where you only need to slap the base-creature onto the existing level of character to create a valid NPC/enemy. Who gives a fuck about variety? I need 20 drow fighters to harass my players and I don't want to even work on one bloody statblock. Create stats for melee and ranged lvl 1-20, for every fighter/rogue/ranger/...well not the paladin, because I can't see those bastards firing a holy crossbow-avenger, but in essence something like this. Make the math sound, so that there are no errors in the statblock, and if I need a lvl 6 Frost Giant Barbarian, I can take the MM giant and just attach him to the template, adjust the str etc, roll hitpoints and next! Hell, you could also do that for advanced classes, e.g. with prestige classes added into the mix. Even more ways to make money... I don't need the typical splatbook, I want to have an easy time DMing, and the do it yourself approach may be nice for people who have loads of time and patience, but for the rest of us... you get the idea.

well, I've been wanting to write about this for weeks, now it's out...whew

Why not parry?

This is a D&D post, even if I try not to worry too much about the game anymore, my novel(s) are more important (217k word btw).

Still, in those moments I'm trying to clear my head I think about the Conan/Pathfinder/3.5 amalgam. Until now I was pondering to use the Dodge/Parry tables as is in this thing, as a substitute for AC, but now I'm wondering if this "replacement" is really what's needed. Sure the hit-AC-trope is one of the foundations of D&D, but in combat it leaves the defending side rather passive. Why not incorporate parry-rolls? At least for the PCs, NPCs and monsters can still go for the average (10) plus Parry/Dodge to speed things up, but players will, I think, be more involved in the action when they don't just stand there and wait to get hit. It worked for d6 StarWars, why not for d20?

How I'm going to incorporate that, and how it works remains to be seen.

BTW, I'm reading Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Trilogy at the moment, fucking awesome!!!

X-Men and others

I already made it clear that I am an addict... or obsessive compulsive, whatever. I recently bought a DVD collection of superhero movies, x 1-3 were among them, and Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Electra.

Now, I don't have a problem withthe latter three, mainly because I never was into those comics, at least never as much as I was into X-Men. So, yea, Elektra (whatever the spelling might be) is a mediocre movie compared to Daredevil, but I was/am able to enjoy it much more than X-Men.

Why? Well, because I have some 100+ X-comics lying around here and I read'em all. I am aware of the necessity to make stories "fit" into movie format, and basing the films on material. But why the fuck take a story as excellent as "God loves, Man kills" and turn it upside down? Why not go all the way and make William Stryker into a televangelist who preaches hatred? THAT was the major point of the story, plus it would have gotten a hell of a lot of free publicity by all the televangelists screaming blue murder against it.

I have more problems with the X-movies than with most other superhero films, aside from the abyssmal Batman & Robin. Rooting the story of mutation into reality, like Heroes, excellent plan, same goes for Batman Begins and Dark Knight. But with the Marvel stuff rooting shit in the real world doesn't work, so why not go really scifi? I mean, would it have been so bad to put in sentinels? The Rogue story was logical, who wouldn't hate not being able to touch anyone? But aside from that, Iceman a student whill Cyclops and Jean, who are alongside the Iceman and Beast and Angel the original team members... no, sorry, Wolverine was the magnet for the entire show, true enough, but why not include Gambit, who's just as cool... in the comics I know at least. Or why not, if you want a major slugfest, do the entire Dark Phoenix saga... would've made a great trilogy.

Just letting off steam...

On the brighter side, I am close to phasing another viewpoint char out...

and Song of Ice and Fire season 1 is greenlit...wooohooo!

Quick update

It's official, I passed the 200k words mark two days ago. It's 205k words now, actually, which makes book 2 already a third longer than book 1. And the end is creeping closer, I'm just not there yet. so... since starting the manuscript on Sept 21st last year (or something like that), I've written 2 regular trade paperback novels, volume-wise. Scary...

some more Conan

Well, when I'm not writing my novel, I usually think about the bloody thing. I am in the last third of it, almost 200k words written baby, oh yea!

There are times when I am not writing or thinking about writing, usually when I'm in the bathroom, although I had some creative moments there as well.

Now, to the Conan/3.5/Pathfinder amalgam... I think I've figured out a way to make the entire thing work, including everything and providing a simple, yet elegant, solution to various issues.

As I mentioned before, I am not happy with the AC-arms-race, so to speak. Back in the olden days the to-hit roll was made maybe three times per round, which lasted a minute, given that the rest ofthe time you parried, dodged and so on. If you played it like that it made and still makes sense. 3e changed that, and I do understand the reason behind it... well, somewhat. The thing is, to-hit-rolls and AC have not changed, and therein, IMO, lies the entire problem.

The Conan RPG changed that, and the changes, while making the game more bloody, are realistic. Yet the entire thing doesn't really mix with traditional, or semi-traditional D&D what with amulets of protection and shit. Making it mesh is my declared goal, and as soon as I put it down on paper...errr... manuscript at any rate, I'd like to get some opinions.

So, if you're reading this, please reply.

cheers and good night