iPhone app “Mach Dice”

Since the AppStore opened its doors, hundreds of applications where released for the iPhone and the iPod touch. There are a lot of dice applications that simulate dice rolls on the iPhone but the majority of these programs simulates six-sided dice only and most of the apps are pretty boring. The best dice-rolling application to date is “Mach Dice”. It was obviously developed by an avid gamer since it includes all of the common polyhedral dice and uses the (x)d(y) nomenclature (like in 3d6). Check out that video:

The application costs $1 (or 0,79€ in Europe) and is almost a must-have for iPhone-using roleplayers!
After watching the above video I HAD to buy it at once. And I don’t regret it … 😀
I first read about this awesome app on Jonathan Grain’s d20 Source. He’s a fellow member of the RPG Bloggers network and if you have any time to spare check out his blog!

Savage Worlds

Last Saturday some friends came over to my place to play some board games. When we couldn’t decide what game to play I offered to run “Pirates of the Spanish Main” for them. “Pirates of the Spanish Main” is a stand-alone setting based on the Savage Worlds rules. I haven’t run SW before and I had only read the setting once but the rules seemed easy enough and I was pretty sure I could come up with some adventure on the go. In the end I used the adventure included in the “Pirates of the Spanish Main” book.
Pinnacle Entertainment advertises Savage Worlds as “Fast! Furios! Fun!” and I have to agree that this description is spot on. It took some while to get used to the roll mechanic and the combat rules, but we figured it out eventually and we stopped bothering about the rules and played. The combat is much faster and feels more lethal than in the new D&D for example and that’s a good thing in my book. Player characters normally don’t die but a good hit by an elite NPC could mean he’s lying face-down on the floor eating dust very fast. Normal NPCs go down with one good hit. This makes combats fast and furious, which suits the cinematic nature of most roleplaying settings.
My player group had also a lot of fun during character creation. Especially the Edges and Hindrances let them come up with some colorful ideas for their characters and within a few minutes we had a motley crew of pirates ready for adventure. We didn’t finish the adventure in one session so we resheduled our upcoming D&D night to play “Pirates of the Spanish Main” instead and I am thinking about starting a Rippers campaign (another setting using the SW rules) in the coming weeks!
Savage World is an awesome game to pick up especially if you are interested in a fast and fun roleplaying game.

Why I fear the Forgotten Realms …

…and why I have high hopes for the 4E version

I always feared the Forgotten Realms. There were instances when I really hated them. And if you are a gamemaster there a lot of things that can make the Realms to become your nemesis when campaign settings are concerned. The Forgotten Realms campaign setting is one of the more popular D&D settings. So a lot of players have played in the Realms, they have read books about the realms or they have played the computer games set into this world. So you can expect that everyone has his version of the realms in mind when he or she sits down at the gaming table. So it becomes pretty hard to create your version of this campaign setting. You constantly run into discussions with your players about what the world should be.

The devil’s in the details
The Forgotten Realms is probably one of the most detailed D&D settings. Even small villages are somewhere described in detail, perhaps even with a map and some NPC stats. These rich details create the situation that it’s very hard for a GM to add things of his own creation. When I created a campaign for my group it took me ages to find a spot on the map that was not too far from the major cities but where the lack of details allowed me to create an interesting campaign. But I always lived in fear that there was some obscure book that contradicted what I has built up. And making changes in one place often forces you to rewrite large portions of the world in order not to run into further trouble later. The first campaign I led with 3rd Edition D&D was a Greyhawk campaign that was much easier to pull off then the FR campaign I did later. Since Greyhawk has a lot of grey spots and even the major places where much less detailed I could easily shape the world as I saw fit.

The good-aligned dual-wielding drow
I am also pretty sure that a lot of GMs hate the books about that (in)famous drow Drizzt Do’Urden. A lot of players who all seem to have read the books always want to play good-aligned drow characters. Rangers are preferred of course, so if you don’t intervene instantly, you get a whole group of Drizzt lookalikes. I never read the books and probably this particular drow makes a good hero for a novel, BUT it’s nevertheless more than silly to have a lot of good-aligned drow running around. It just ruins this great villainy (is that a word?) race.

Faerun vs. Vanilla D&D
With the popularity of the Realms comes another problem: players tend to think of Faerun as the “standard” D&D world. But there are a lot of things that are different in the Realms when compared to vanilla D&D. Those misconceptions can be easily cleared up when taken some time, but it just gets annoying when people think in FR concepts in your Greyhawk/Eberron/Homebrew campaign.
I’ve tried to run several campaign in the setting because a) my group asked me to it and b) it’s not that I dislike it myself. But the decision to use the Realms comes with a price. Because of the things I’ve written above I started to avoid the Realms at all cost. When Wizards announced that they will make major changes to this classic D&D setting I was very excited. If they really change the world of Faerun in a major way, some of the issues I had will be instantly blown away. It will probably still be popular but Wizards promised us to give the world back to the GMs. There won’t be long descriptions of every small village, nations will have vanished, changed, new ones will have risen. Somewhere I read that even whole continents changed. The “new” realms will be diffent enough that veteran players will not have an advantage over the GM. And obviously will be enough “grey spots” for you to flesh out. With a bit of luck my copy of the new campaign setting is being shipped as we speak. And this time I am really excited.

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