Ennies, Fourthcore, Gencon and the Soul-Stealing Character Builder
I’m very proud to announce that 2 things I’m very wrapped up in have been nominated for a total of 3 Ennie Awards this year! Both Obsidian Portal (Best Website) and Revenge of the Iron Lich (Best Adventure, Best Free Product) received nominations and I’m absolutely floored! I wrote quite a bit about this on my personal blog earlier in the week so I won’t drone on here but I’d just like to put it out here as well in hopes that you’ll please cast your vote in my direction when the polls open up in just a few days.
Fourthcore, What’s Next for Me?
In the coming months after gencon I will be working with Sersa on finalizing SND02/SND03 and building a hub for fourthcore fans and like-minded people who’d like to submit, organize, playtest and talk about all things fourthcore. We will keep the genre alive and writhing through this hub.
I also have plans of releasing my first ever fourthcore delve as lead writer later this year. Though details the adventure are yet to be revealed for a multitude of reasons both professional and personal, I should say that if you have enjoyed what you’ve seen so far from the genre, hopefully you’ll equally like what I’m working toward as well. I’ll also be releasing my Dread Compendium in late 11′/early 12′. I guarantee it will turn you to dust!
Also be on the lookout for our upcoming podcast: ‘Seance’ where we’ll discuss system neutral game design, gaming difficulty, mechanics, sources of inspiration and highlight some of the best community submitted content. If you missed the final episode of the fourthcore podcast you can catch it here.
Gearing up for gencon means I’ve been pretty busy these past few months and things are definitely switching into high gear now. Prepping a panel (with Dave Chalker from Critical Hits), sponsorships, getting sweet OP schwag lined up and trying to figure out what the hell to actually say If an Ennie is won – among many other things are all top tier priority right now. That being said I’ve totally neglected writing here much but I’ll attempt to keep some kind of a pace and hopefully pick it back up post-gencon but for right now I’m running on battery saver mode as far as writing goes. I’ll be posting my Gencon itinerary in the next week or so for those who’d like to meet up and hang out and such.
Where The Hell Have You Been?
Well aside from all of the above I’ve become a patron in the Dark Roads & Golden Hells project over at Kobold Quarterly which I’m very excited about. Bringing planescape-esque material into the 4e arena is something I’ve wanted for a long time and now I get to be a part of it! I’ll be blogging about my experiences with open design over at Words In The Dark. I’ve also got a copy of Conquest of Nerath on the block for unboxing/reviewing purposes so stay tuned right here for that and all it’s risk-meets-D&D-goodness.
I’m also bringing back Pixels & Polyhedrals for your video game monster enjoyment, as well as #D5C but under a different banner I’ll be calling “The Gauntlet” wherein I call out for deadly tricks, traps and other devious ideas for our more daring DM’s out there.
Gaming has even been light for me as my ravenloft campaign has stalled out in our last two attempts to play and my increasing dissent for certain aspects of my game, but hey that’s a blog post for another day. Instead I’ll leave you by complaining about something else…
Character Builder Woes
I remember when I first cracked open my D&D 3.0 PHB and found the eTools disc in the back, it was momentous occasion. How awesome is that? It was some kind of divine gift from geek gods of both a D&D and computer nerdery! Being able to roll up characters with ease, a cool UI, neat little sound effects for all the buttons…Awesome!
Now 4e is here and tools like this are rampant and to be quite honest, expected of a lot of players and GM’s out there. Over the past few months I’ve played with some different folks, some very different from my own players and friends I’ve played with over the years. Yes they are min/maxers, and a few of them take the term to an extreme as far as I’m concerned. In a recent bout with myself trying to understand the why and how of this behavior the best I can compare it to, is building the perfect MTG deck. Reducing probability of failure, doubling up on the good stuff, trying to create an impenetrable force to play with. Bear in mind that I understand optimization and min/maxing are two completely different things so don’t go waving around your flaming stick at me just yet.
What I ask though is, when a player spends hours tweaking a character to “perfection” and maintains that perfection by absorbing every feat, rule, power and item combination, tweaking every chance they get, what do you do? They bring it to your table expecting to be devoid of failure and often are not a fan of puzzles, logic, or player-based challenges.
This has really got me thinking…”whatever happened to just…I dunno…thinking up a cool character concept and then putting it on paper?” It seems to me the minutia of character creation has almost created this metagame for D&D players, not to mention the GM’s who need to design adventures around these folks. It honestly frustrates the hell out of me and it seems to have created almost an entirely new breed of player.
I’m not saying that the character builder has “ruined D&D or anything else bombastic or ridiculous sounding by any means. All I’m asking is, do you feel that the whole process has sucked some of the creative and imaginative force from such an adored part of the game? I know I do, at least a little.