September 21, 2009

Dungeon Master's Guide 2 Hits Shelves

DMG2_4thEd.jpgWhile this is a welcomed treat we're wondering if the DMG 2 4th Edition is a little bit behind the curve. Even the slowest, most casual Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition groups is into the double digit levels by now. Hopefully not too far though, 'cause the Dungeon Master's Guide 2 [Amazon, Funagain] is chalk full of rules, adventure ideas, loot and and materials for a D&D; group at the Paragon stage: levels 11-20.

While we like RPGs, we're don't claim to be the source on all things .. RPG. We're more a mixed collection of egotistical gamers with with tastes that spread around all genres, some of them happen to be in the RPG. So instead of giving our 2 cents, we'll leave it to The RPG Athenaeum who have a quick review of the DMG 2. Enjoy!

Here's the book's official details:

"This 224-page, hardcover core rulebook for the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game features advice and rules for Dungeon Masters of all levels of experience, with a particular focus on running adventures and campaigns in the paragon tier (levels 11-20).

It includes advanced encounter-building tools (including traps and skill challenges), storytelling tips to bring your game to life, new monster frameworks to help you craft the perfect villain, example campaign arcs, a comprehensive look at skill challenges, and a detailed "home base" for paragon-tier adventurers -- the interplanar city of Sigil."

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September 11, 2009

D&D; Online is now Free. It's True!

Attention KMart Shoppers. The monthly subscription PC game Dungeons and Dragons Online has been relaunched by Turbine as a subscription free service as D&D; Online Unlimited. Quite the amazing little feat if you ask us. You can download the game's client here (Windows PC).

D&D; Online sticks you in the world of Eberron and lets you and your friends run instanced dungeons and quests as you level up your character in the 3.5 ruleset (though the server takes care of most of the dirty work in real time) Combat is positional, with quite a few distinctions than your standard MMO. For instance - you actually have to click your mouse to swing and actively block, Battles are very dynamic, instead of tank and spank, as fighters maneuver to intercept mobs and act as meat shields, clerics position themselves to heal, and rogues dodge and parry their way behind baddies to get some nice damage bonuses. And of course there are the Mages with their bag of tricks for any situation, and traps that only the rogue can sniff out and disable. Very interesting stuff.

We played D&D; Online back when it first launched a few years ago. We enjoyed our time but a low level cap and a lack of long term content eventually turned us away. Now, years later, expansions have come out, the level cap has been raised, and best of all - it's free! Heck yeah. We're already planning an alternative D&D; night where we all get online and bust heads as a party. Can't wait.

Click here for more information about D&D; Online, and for that all important Download Link

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 21, 2009

Eberron D&D; 4th Edition Guides Hits Shelves

EberronCampaignGuide.jpgThis is pretty momentous day for D&D; 4th Edition. Just over a year after its launch, the 4th Edition of the mainstream RPG has released one of its flagship settings with the Eberron Campaign Guide [Amazon]. The guide includes maps, faction background information, characters, monsters, the works. Joining it is the Eberron Player Guide [Amazon] (released in June) which includes new classes, races and feats for players to use in the 'film noir' inspired fantasy campaign setting.

Ask any 3rd Edition D&D; players and Eberron would most often their setting of choice. It was even the campaign setting of choice for the D&D; Online (which just became free to play). We're pretty old school ourselves, loving the Forgotten Realms setting, but our money says Eberron is mainly where the future of D&D; lies.

This new Campaign Guide lets any group's DM get up to speed with the new details of Eberron's setting, as well as carve out their own adventures from scratch with a slew the aforementioned list of the guide's resources.

If you want to peek at what you're getting for your money, then check out the Campaign Guide's official webpage with has links to excerpts from the book. These include sample maps, region descriptions, and preplanned encounters if your DM needs some inspiration, or on encounter mechanics in the setting.

Here are the official details:

The Eberron(R) world moves into 4th edition D&D;(R)!

This books contains all the information any DM would need about the world of Eberron. This exciting world is complete with soaring cities, viscious wars, and a gritty mean-streets style that harkens back to the traditions of film noir.

The Eberron campaign setting is updated into the 4th edition D&D; family with the Eberron Campaign Guide. Featuring all of the character elements from the core rulebooks, this updated version of the Eberron world is a must for any gamer that likes the magic-as-technology, film noir, high-adventure campaign setting that was chosen from over 15,000 game submissions.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 6, 2009

This Fallout LARP is Off the Hook

Fallout3LARP.jpgThis morning we stumbled upon this amazing series shots from a Fallout LARP that went down last month in Russian. Now, don't get us wrong and don't read into the future content of this website ; we wouldn't even think to set foot in a LARP machine unless there were piles of cash some seriously hot chicks waiting inside (that's the American way). We love games and all, but there's one thing to play them, and it's another to want to live in them.

Still, some of these shots are so darn cool looking... almost like a scene from a full fledged Fallout 3 movie from the backlot at Universal. But these are people who made their costumes with their barehands. Dorky, sure, but artistic talent abound.

Of course, our admiration and suspension of disbelief is unsuspended when coming across evidence of the apparent dorkiness of some these people. We don't mean to bust on them, but ... dunno.. it's almost required if you want to cover your butt against the cool police.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 19, 2009

D&D; 4th Edition Monster Manual Miniatures: Dangerous Delves


We've said it before, and we'll say it again, D&D; 4th Edition has a lot of great things going for it - streamlined rules, tactical combat, cleaner skills, defined class roles, etc. But one thing that has always been a thorn in our side is that Wizards of the Coast never actually gave us an effective way to represent our characters on a tactical map. This would be a petty complaint if this latest and greatest edition hadn't put so much emphasis on positional combat.

The official solution was for players to sink money into the D&D; Miniatures game, which is a closed box booster system so you never know what you're going to get when you hand over your money. This stunk for both the players attempting to find a mini representative of their character, and for DMs trying to collect figures for the monsters and NPCs.

Things shifted slightly toward the positive side in late April with the release of D&D; 4th Edition Player's Handbook Miniatures, which had an assortment of populare character class/race combinations. It wasn't perfect though - there were some combos missing, and you had to buy at least three figures in each pack.

Now a similar treatment is being done with 40 monsters in the Dangerous Delves set. The figures have been pulled from the new 4th edition Monster Manuals, with each containing ''one visible figure, always Large; one rare figure, about half are Large; one medium or small uncommon miniature; and two common miniatures.' We should also mention that these figures are actually part of the D&D; Miniatures game (tough we don't play it ourselves!)

Further details on how the miniatures are distributed can be found in the set's First Preview Article (all preview articles are linked below):

"We've worked to make it much easier to collect a set. Dangerous Delves contains 40 different miniatures, with 16 rares, 8 uncommon, 8 visible, and 8 common miniatures in the set. A case of miniatures has 8 boosters, and you'll get one of each visible figure in a case. This means collectors won't be stuck with 6 or 8 common miniatures for each rare. The ratio is closer to 1 rare for every 4 different commons."

Unfortunately the series is pretty hard to find online in any way you can deliberately browse and buy a pack with your choice of visible figure (let us know if you find a good place). Best head down to your local hobby store for that. However, if you'd like to at least browse the miniatures, then take a look at the following preview articles which does a great job of cataloging them all.

  • Preview 1: Cyclops, Orcs, Gnoll, Arbalester
  • Preview 2: Unicorn, Medusa Archer, Yuan-Ti Fangblade, Harpy, Snake Swarm
  • Preview 3: Aboleth, Beholder, Foulspawn Grue, Berbalang, Xen'drik Drow
  • Preview 4: Frost Giant, Rust Monster, Blood Scarab, Githzerai, Githyanki
  • Preview 5: Hippogriff, Choker, Bloodseeker Drake, Banshrae Warrior, Ghaele of Winter
  • Preview 6: Bloodrager Troll, Clay Golem, Aspect of Vecna, and a pair of Goblins
  • Preview 7: Gold Dragon, War Devil, Hellstinger Scorpion, Grimlock, Chain Devil

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April 29, 2009

D&D; 4th Edition Player's Handbook Miniatures

PHBMiniatures.jpgWe've been complaining a bit over the last year since the release of the D&D; 4th Edition. See, the game puts a huge emphasis on tactical combat, with square maps in the all the modules, and all those rules that have you map out spacing and ranges to determine area of effects.

The problem is, there hasn't been a great official way to represent your characters on your table top. Sure, you could have blindly bought D&D; Miniature boosters in hopes you would get someone cool and that slightly resembled your character's class, race, and gender, plus looked cool to boot, but that was a total crap shoot.

Finally, ten months later, Wizards of the Coast has a nice little gift for you. Behold: prepackaged miniatures of all the classes and races of the Players Handbook, presented in clear plastic so you know which miniature your dropping your cash for:

  1. Player's Handbook Heroes - Arcane Heroes #1 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Includes: Female Eladrin Wizard
    Male Tiefling Warlock
    Male Half-Elf Bard

  2. Player's Handbook Heroes - Arcane Heroes #2 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Male Human Wizard
    Female Eladrin Sorcerer
    Male Half-Elf Fighter / Warlock

  3. Player's Handbook Heroes - Divine Heroes #1 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Male Human Cleric
    Female Halfling Cleric
    Male Dwarf Paladin

  4. Player's Handbook Heroes - Martial Heroes #1 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Female Dragonborn Rogue
    Male Human Fighter
    Male Elf Ranger

  5. Player's Handbook Heroes - Martial Heroes #2 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Female Eladrin Fighter
    Male Tiefling Warlord
    Male Dwarf Rogue

  6. Player's Handbook Heroes - Primal Heroes #1 [Amazon, Funagain]
    Female Elf Druid
    Male Human Barbarian
    Male Goliath Barbarian

Not every class combo is there, but you should be able to make do with what's available. Unless you're picky, which would really stink since you've waited almost a year for this moment. We feel for ya. Wait, no we don't, stop dilly dallying. Just pull the trigger, have a cold one, relax and work on your anxiety problems.

Here are the official details:

The Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1 expansion for the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game features high-quality miniatures representing iconic player character races and classes described in the Player's Handbook and Player's Handbook 2 core rulebooks.

There are six booster packs in all: 2 packs of martial heroes, 2 packs of arcane heroes, 1 pack of divine heroes, and 1 pack of primal heroes. Each booster pack contains 3 visible, high-quality, non-random plastic miniatures representing D&D; player characters, plus an exclusive power card not available elsewhere! Each miniature comes beautifully painted and fully assembled.

Fully assembled miniatures. Sweet. Put away your exact-o knife and sniffing glue.... err.. gluing glue.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 22, 2009

Grandpa Checks Out D&D; 4th Edition

In a multiple generation bridging exercise we decided to present the D&D; 4th Edition Player's Handbook to one of our grandparents last weekend. After he leafed through it for a while, we asked him what his thoughts were.

Apparently it doesn't hold a candle to a more classical read.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 24, 2009

D&D; 4th Edition Power Cards


We've played quite a bit of D&D; 4th Edition since the game launched last year, and we've been big advocates for printing out your own series of power cards. It's easy to quickly glance to see what sort of super human move you can make at any given moment when your 'hand' of cards is splayed-out on the table before you. They also help you keep track of state, and provide quick rulebook lookups if you spent enough time lovingly crafting them.

While we've printed a few from the interwebs, and made our own little bootlegged index cards, the actual quality of these self-made productions leaves much to be desired. Sure, the fault lies with us since we're the ones who made them. And as the old saying goes, Time is Money, and we're happy to see that there's an official indoctrination of the cards coming from Wizards of the Coast are at a small target price. 100 cards for each Character class for under 10 bucks. Not too shabby.

The cards themselves are about the size of your normal TCG / CCG game (like WoW or Magic); sport a colored background that makes them easily sortable based on power type, like At Will, Encounter, Daily, etc; and contain all the rulebook rules for each of a class's powers. There also quite durable and should survive well to the accidental coffee spillage that we seem overly prone to.

The question really comes down to: do you think 10 bucks is worth the time spent drawing up cards, or time and materials it takes to print out paper sheets and cut 'em up into cards. For us the answer is certainly 'yes' especially since the results sport a higher quality than our crappy paper cutouts.

The only downside: the classes from the Players Handbook 2 have to wait until August before they get their respective Power Card releases. We're not quite sure who thought that was a good idea. Bah.

We'll check back in August when the Power Cards are released for all of the Players Handbook 2 class abilities.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 16, 2009

D&D; 4th Edition Player's Handbook 2

Almost the year after the D&D; 4th Edition release, the launch of the D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook 2 [Amazon, Funagain] is upon us. This isn't a scheduled supplemental update, but a standalone release that fully extends upon the 4th edition content. The book contains 8 new classes, new races, and doubles the amount of abilities (800 more) available to players creating the characters from scratch.

But is this all entirely fluff? Is this just a heartless, careless production meant to consume your hard earned dollar while putting the play balance of the game in jeopardy?

Seemingly no. A great PHB 2 Preview at Gnome Stew has emerged from a GM who seems to have better credentials alone than our entire amassed RPG experience. It's actually quite gushing, a little meandering, but a fantastic summary of what you can expect between the covers.

So what does it say about the PHB 2 that with eight new classes, there's zero new overlap? Bingo: the eight new classes weren't just phoned in -- they're fully realized classes in their own right, not just variations on old themes.

The preview goes on to say how well flavored the abilities, and how the classes extend upon the positional combat mechanics, each in their own interesting way. Best of all, according to the preview, there's "zero power creep." Awesome. We'd hate to have our well earned character levels become obsolete.

Here are the D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook 2 official details:

Player's Handbook 2 expands the range of options available to D&D; players with new classes, races, powers and other material. This book builds on the array of classes and races presented in the first Player's Handbook, adding both old favorites and new, never-before-seen options to the game. The book adds a new power source for 4th Edition D&D;: classes using the new primal power source include the barbarian and the druid.

The D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook 2 is now available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 20, 2009

RP Tools Save Our D&D; Group From Implosion

D&DDice.jpgWe have a problem. An alarming number of the D&D; 4th Edition fans in our group are moving away. It's that time in our lives where people start families, flee imminent natural disasters or rising seas and giant earthquakes, and move somewhere thats a heckuvalot cheaper than Boston.

When our first player moved away two years ago, we planned to lean on the then 'upcoming' D&D; Insider tools from Wizards of the Coast to keep us connected and playing through the Internets, but Wizards has really flopped like a fish out of water after a year and a half of seemingly broken promises.. and just when needed them the most, too. First the tools were going to be free with a D&D; Source Book purchase. Then it turned out there would be a monthly fee steeper than our World of Warcraft subscription -- not cool. Then we hear that Macs won't be supported. Then we heard the crickets churp and a wolf cry in the distance when D&D; 4th Edition was released nearly a year ago. Still, nothing.

USASatNight.jpgAs the proposals from WoTC bittered, the players in our group kept moving away. Some could still commute, but it was nearly an hour. Others left the state altogether. We tried to keep things going by setting up our Frankensteinian system with web cams that point at the map, and with Skype and a sweet-ass microphone a friend had from a failing podcast. For while it was novel to have giant heads on laptops sitting along side real people at the table, but after some time the system proved a) prone to glitches, and b) dorkier than we'd ever care to admit to anyone but you.

In between these dysfunctional sessions, we scoured the web for online tools similar to the original promises of D&D; Insider in the hopes we could switch the a virtual gametable. For months our searches came up short as we found numerous highly cryptic pieces of software with a substandard community base, that required a lot of work to import art assets, and just generally looked like an upturned baseball cap full of poo.

RP Tools Becomes Our Saving Grace
Then one of us discovered RP Tools sometime around the new year. We poked it with a stick for a while 'cause we were used to disappointment, but and after the first session we were giddy with dorkish delight. It not only worked well, it actually made the game more enjoyable beyond our wildest imaginations. The RP Tools system has a lot of things going for it, and now that we have it setup, we're not sure we're going to want to play D&D; the old fashioned way anymore.

ArrowContinue reading: "RP Tools Save Our D&D; Group From Implosion"

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