Friday, February 29, 2008

Dragonborn Smragonborn

I have to admit, I simply don’t get the new Dragonborn player character race. I suppose that is not surprising. I never got the obsession 3rd Ed had about tying player characters to dragons. Sorcerers were tied pretty explicitly to dragons. Prestige classes like Dragon Adepts and Dragon Shamans were created. Whole books like Races of Dragon and Dragon Magic were put out.

And people loved it! I never understood why so many people wanted to play dragon obsessed, dragon-blooded, half-dragon or even full dragon characters. Nevertheless, they certainly seemed to, at least in the D&D games I was part of.

I know that Dragons are half of the name in D&D, but I always saw them as opponents, not allies. You know, like the other half of the name. When I was running dragons in my game, I always attempted to portray them as powerful, intelligent, and vicious. Even my good dragons tended to be arrogant and unforgiving.

That being said, I am not necessarily opposed to Dragonborn being in 4th Ed since I seem to be in the minority here. It’s probably a good thing to have a dragon-like race fully incorporated into the rules for the people who love them.

I guess I should ask those who are on the other side of the dragon PC fence, what makes them so appealing to you? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Amazing Turd Blossom

For the record, I was not a big fan of the recent Spider-Man storyline “One More Day”. I don’t feel the need to rehash what was wrong with it, since that was covered so thoroughly elsewhere. Suffice it to say that regardless of my opinion on the “Spider-Marriage I felt “One More Day” was poor storytelling and a dramatic cheat to anyone who has been reading Spider-Man over the years. They might as well said "a wizard did it!"

That being said I am oddly conflicted at how much I love the current “Brand New Day” storyline. The first two months have delivered on everything I want out of a Spider-Man comic book. The book is funny. Peter Parker is a regular guy with the kind of issues a regular guy with super powers would face. Now if only I didn’t cringe every time I though about how we got to this point, the book would be perfect.

Up until now I have been at a loss at how to describe my feelings towards Spidey at the moment, but thankfully George W. Bush has come to the rescue with his unique “mastery” of the English language. The current storyline on Amazing Spiderman is a Turd Blossom!

Thank you Dubbya!

Fey and the Feywild in 4th Ed

One of the aspects of 4th Edition that has me most excited is the introduction of the Feywild to the D&D universe. I have always felt that the fey were given a bum rap in previous editions of D&D. I think this is less the fault of the D&D creators and more a consequence of what I call the “fairy” vs “faerie” dichotomy in most people’s minds.

I am using “fairy” to refer to the popular image of friendly fairies with butterfly wings. They are generally friendly, silly, and beautiful. They can be mischievous, but are rarely portrayed as malicious. This is the way the fey have generally been portrayed in D&D since its inception.

On the other hand I use “faerie” to refer to the fey as traditionally depicted in myth. They are powerful, intelligent, and capricious creatures. It is dangerous to be around even the most benign of them because their sense of morality is alien to our own. People use terms like “The Good Folk” or “The Kindly Ones” when describing them not because it is an accurate description, but because they fear incurring their wrath. This seems to be the direction that fey in D&D are moving in 4th Ed.

I am glad to see 4th Ed moving towards the “faerie” side of things for many reasons. Frankly, they make better monsters. That is important in a combat oriented game like D&D. More importantly, they can make complex opponents. With a plethora of magical abilities at their disposal, combat is more interesting than fighting it out with a group of orcs.

Also, many fey are highly intelligent, and will likely have more complex goals than most monsters. In the new game it might be just as likely that a village is being threatened by a group of fey as a band of orcs. But the reasons why a group of fey is threatening a village may be just as interesting as the combat itself.

Just as interesting as the fey themselves is the introduction of the Feywild as an adventuring environment. One advantage the Feywild has as an adventuring environment is it can literally be used at any time. Much like the “Mists of Ravenloft” coming in, an adventuring party stumbling into the Feywild can totally change the tone of an adventure. As long as it is not over used, this can be an effective way to add an unexpected sense of danger and excitement to an otherwise standard gaming session.

I’m back

After a bit of a false start, I am back. Thankfully, I don’t have any readers yet so I figure I am off the hook.

I have decided not to review “Wizards Presents: Races and Classes” to kick off the blog, at least not directly. Rather, I intend to start by talking more generally about my opinion on what has been revealed so far about D&D 4th Edition. I figure I will tackle this in broad topics like “The Feywild”, “Dragonborn”, or “D&D Insider” interspersed with postings about comics and videogames. Expect the first post on these topics soon. No, really, this time I swear!