Sunday, August 26, 2007

Great Big Nerd
Dungeons and Dragons Forever

Cleaning up my office on campus in preparation for the first day of class tomorrow, I my the very the very deepest, darkest depths of the thing...a box.

And what was in that box?

Oh, a very great treasure indeed.

It was a box of long-lost (or, as it turns out, long-misplaced) D&D stuff.


Oh, man, it is like such a blast looking through this stuff.

Oh, and I've already contacted my brother and Statisticasaurus Rex, and we are TO-TA-LLY going to PLAY SOME FREAKIN' D&D, HOMES.


We now return to our previously-scheduled preparation of a lecture on Plato's theory of forms.

Oh my God I am like the world's biggest geek.


Blogger Colin said...

Finally, you post about something I know inside and out. What edition did you dig up, and what books?

The new D&D (3rd edition, now 3.5 edition, I think 4th Edition is coming soon because Hasbro owns it now) is pretty good but it's a little easy to powergame and turn fights into games of high-stakes chess. But the rules they added (flanking, counterspells, feats and special abilities, doing ability scores better) really make it a lot easier to just pick up and go with.

If you look around hobby stores (I'm sure wherever you are has at least one comic book kind of store) you can usually find a bunch of old stuff -- adventures, expansion books, etc -- for reasonably cheap, too.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


I/we haven't played in like maybe 15 years.

We started back when there was only D&D 1st edition (I even the Deities and Demigods_ with the Cthulhu mythos in it...

Soon we decided that too much stuff was radically sub-optimal, and we started modifying. Soon our version of the game was way different--and way better--than the official version. We called it Modified Advanced D&D: MADD.

Eventually, we imported the GURPS combat system and saving throws b/c it made so much more sense.

Er, what is "powergame"?

But what you write about above sounds great (counterspells, chess-like combat...) what should I buy to bring myself up to snuff? The semester has just started, so there isn't much time...and I've gotta have a scenario up and running in two weeks.

In the past, we'd sometimes use adventure modules, cannibalizing what what good for ideas, rejecting most of them. I looked for the one ranked best module of all time, and the results came back..._Queen of the Demonweb Pits_, a module our other DM relied on for one of our best adventures ever.

So that one's out.

What I need to do is just pick up three or four or five really good modules to look for some ideas to supplement the idea already forming in my head. (A head which is, mind you, supposed to be focused like a lazer beam on PHILOSOPHY right now...

Any advice, greatly appreciated.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oh, specs:

Edition: all first.

DM Guide
Player's Handbook
Monster Manual
Deities and Demigods
Monster Manual II (aka The Big Book of Little Men)

I think that's it.

Any advice on what's new and cool, much appreciated.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

When I was like 12 I bought Deities and Demigods from the mom and pop comic book store down the street. First D&D related book I ever had. Takes me back.

If you haven't played since first edition, then if you pick up a 3rd ed book it's going to really throw you off. Characters are a lot more customizable now, placement figures into combat a lot more, etc. Plus, translating from one edition to another is kind of a pain in the ass.

Powergaming is making a character as powerful as you can to the point where it can basically walk all over things of its level. Fourth level fighters with negative armor classes, mages who can cast three or four spells in a single round, etc. It's always been POSSIBLE in D&D, 3rd edition just makes it a lot easier.

One of the things 3rd did fix up well was saving throws. They're on a d20+saving throw bonus system, with varying levels of difficulty based on caster power / spell level / other stuff. Hard to explain but it works a lot better than 'poison / paralysis / death magic', etc.

Good adventure modules that aren't 3rd edition are the Vault of the Drow, White Plume Mountain, The Temple of Elemental Evil (long as hell, but so good they redid it for 3rd edition). Really neat 3rd ed adventures that you can consider checking out for ideas include Bastion of Broken Souls and Heart of Nightfang Spire. Nightfang in particular has an awesome map and is really hard but fun.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks man. Much appreciated.

Man, I hate that shit when people have these god-like powers, everybody's walking around at like 15th level...

I even had a letter on the subject published in _Dragon_ magazine back in the day, titled "PC Demigods."

The game's ruined when everybody's practically omnipotent.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

You're a gamer?

Then you must check you The Order of the Stick web comic. It's full of gamer jokes and such. (

Just beware that there are a LOT of archives, and you can lose a couple hours reading 'em if you aren't careful.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Order of the Stick = sweeet.

Thanks for the tip, MK.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winston, I think you captured the spirit of our D&D games well when you told another player, "In most games, people use Tenser's Floating Disc to carry out their treasure, in ours we use it to carry out our injured players."

4:55 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

In all fairness to 3rd edition, they made it so that even if your character is ridiculously powerful you are still going to be rolling dice a lot and praying for good numbers, so higher levels is a lot more fun. Levels 10-14 are a blast because at that point you can have all sorts of insane shit thrown at you and still make it out in one piece if you don't do anything dumb. (After that I thought the stakes started getting a little too high, and it was too easy to make a bad move or overlook a detail and get blasted to pieces.)

I should add that I haven't tried DMing 3rd edition, just playing, so your mileage may vary.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Yeah, in the game YOU ran, we could usually carry out the treasure in pockets. And still have room for, say, some of our severed fingers...

7:39 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

While I can't speak to OOTS, the other web comic at Giant in thePlayground, Erfworld rocks (IMHO).

And, it is only up to part 74 or so, rather than the 480+ parts of OOTS!

12:08 AM  

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