General D&D Topics* Let's read the entire run - Page 259





  1. #2581
    Ugh. Online drama time, unfortunately. My webhost has decided they don't want my videos on their site anymore. Unless they change their mind on appeal, all that stuff, including the issue 200 videos, will be gone in 10 days. If you don't want that to happen, send a protest to support@blip.tv. Probably won't help, but in the circumstances, it's not as if it can hurt. Anyone have any recommendations for other non youtube webhosts I could use?

 

  • #2582
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    Ouch, that sucks. Did they say why they won't host them? Ten days seems abrupt.

    I can't really recommend any sites not having used them for videos, but this might be a good starting point:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...sting_services

    My sarcasm detector is fusion powered. Yeah, that's powerful enough.

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  • #2583
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 1/10


    116 pages. EPIC LEVEL KRUSK SMASH PUNY BACKDROP! Huge green thighs with improbable muscles too close together, crushing Krusk's testicles. No wonder Krusk raging all the time! Yeah, they try and paint the epic level iconics as something amazing, and the overload of badass just flows over into silly. So yeah, nearly 2 years into the edition, they give us rules for going above 20th level. Well, it is quicker than 2e, where it took them a good 6 years, and even then, only went to 30, while 1e never really dealt with the upper end of the XP scale properly, apart from the classes with hard limits like Bards and Assassins. Even with it's flaws, the 3e system still might handle really high levels better than AD&D, where wizards become masters of all, and rogues struggle to figure out how they can improve now. It's just the fact that you get to them so much quicker that makes the problems more easily noticed, and ever escalating as you get further in. I already have the book, but let's see how well this issue does in selling me on it.


    Scan Quality: Some visible pixelation, indexed.


    In this issue:


    Amongst the format changes, Wyrms turn is seriously cut down in size. What's left is another bit of self-promotion. Their goal here was to make sure you had tons of options, and they were all balanced, valid choices. A boast which will definitely look a bit hollow a few hours after the Charop boards get their teeth into the material. This is what happens when you put all your eggs into one basket. The greater your enthusiasm beforehand, the sillier you look in hindsight. Surely someone in the company had reservations? Anyone? What was the mood in the office at the time? So many annoying questions. So few answers.


    Scale Mail: First up, we have the seemingly obligatory commentary on the theme 2 issues ago. One is very happy with it, the other thinks too much of the issue was devoted too it, and it was blatant promotion of their latest book. Same old story. Depending on the theme, you're always going to appeal to a slightly different set each issue, and that has to be taken into account.

    The editorial on gaming in prison gets an even more polarised response. One is strongly favorable and thinks that Wardens shouldn't abuse their power and set arbitrary regulations beyond what's needed to keep them under control. Another thinks that if they're in prison, they must have done something wrong, and deserve everything they get. And a more balanced view is provided by someone who actually works there, who illustrates how arbitrary the whole thing can be. In his particular institution, they're allowed to read RPG's, but not play them, as they put the DM in a position of power over other prisoners, and that's a strict no-no. Not saying it's right or wrong, but it is a reason, at least. Man, this stuff is a headache.

    And finally we have another perspective on their rehashing old stuff. It's only a problem to people who've been following their books carefully for years. For those that haven't, it can be a pleasant discovery, and quite possibly make them a few extra sales too. They do have to cater to new readers as well as old ones, and drawing on already proven material can help with that.

  • #2584
    Quote Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
    Ouch, that sucks. Did they say why they won't host them? Ten days seems abrupt.

    I can't really recommend any sites not having used them for videos, but this might be a good starting point:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...sting_services
    Just the standard boilerplate. Given the way blip is going, it's probably either because I was doing too much straight filming and not enough actual reviewing, or because I wasn't getting enough views to pay for all the storage I was using.

  • #2585
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 2/10


    Zogonia has an attack of the false alarm. You know, that kind of thing can get people killed.


    D&D Previews: First up this month is the epic level handbook. Nearly 2 years into the new edition, and hey, obviously feel enough people are making it all the way to 20th and still wanting more. Shame the results were so ...... mediocre. Yeah, it's certainly not as annoying as the god books, but the math still rapidly gets wonky, with your skill at character building soon becoming more important than level. Hell, even the order you get the levels can result in two characters of the same classes having somewhat different power levels. Oh well, they learned from their mistakes here, probably overcompensating next edition.

    The realms gets a sourcebook and a novel, as is often the case. Silver Marches. A return to region based sourcebooks. The new edition means they can revisit stuff without worrying so much about rehash. If anything, they may struggle to fit in all the old info they want too, given they're releasing fewer books this time round. The Novel is Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers. More Drow-centric drama in Menzoberanzan and beyond.

    Dragonlance gets Redemption, the final book in the Dhamon saga. Looks like he pulls through after all.

    They also kick off a new series of generic D&D novels starring the iconic D&D characters. The Savage caves by T. H. Lain cuts away all the vast interweaving canon the other worlds suffer from now, and just does dungeon delving romps. Whether this will sell, I'm not sure. The vast soap opera is part of the attraction for many people.


    At the table: This month, we get two larger maps rather than a whole load of tower levels. A cavern, and a (fairly open plan) dungeon level. They're definitely intended for people to have fights in, taking advantage of the little bits of cover around the edges for a bit of missile fire and AoE spell shielding. They recognise that it'll have a short use life if you don't reskin and reuse the layouts, so they encourage you to do exactly that. So another decent enough special feature to add to your collection, if not as impressive as the old castle you had to assemble yourself.

  • #2586
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 3/10


    Up on a soapbox: Here we get to hear about Gary's first experiences as a player. Yrag the Fighter was his PC in Rob Kuntz's game. And one of his memorable early adventures was when they introduced the Ring of Contrariness into the game. Because who doesn't love suddenly inverting the obvious aspects of their character's personality and being a pain in the ass to other players when the DM gives them a reason too? Gary certainly did, as it let him stretch his roleplaying muscles, and the others had to do some careful puzzle solving to figure out how to deal with the problem. Another reminder that those were rough and tumble times, where your character was much more likely to die or be screwed over in the course of the adventure, so you learned to roll with the punches, and make fun out of your own misfortune. But I think we already knew that. Now the main draw is the specific anecdotes for all the old school obsessives out there. I think we may be starting to get into diminishing returns territory here.


    Everquest D20 Roleplaying game? Feel the circle of conversions go round and round.


    Sentinels of the shoal: Time to get down to the meat of the epic level features, and hope some of it's more palatable than the skin. Here's a big feature that's not only tied in with the book, but also a parallel adventure in Dungeon magazine. Gotta collect 'em all, etc etc. From the looks of things, it involves the conflict between two epic organisations, one which is devoted to maintaining the cosmic balance and keeping undeserving people from becoming Epic, and the other comprised of assassins following the secret orders of a really powerful but imprisoned monstrosity. Classic grey vs black conflict. They give us the usual grab-bag of stuff to fill it out. Scarily high CR stats for the leaders of the two organisations. A prestige class for each group. 5 new epic spells, and 8 new epic feats. Most of these are pretty neat, and valid expansions on the stuff in the epic level handbook that improve your power in interesting ways. Seems like James Jacobs has managed to make the best of a tricky situation, and come up with appropriately epic material to tie in with the release. It may still be unwieldy, but there are good stories in there if you're willing to do the math and play with the big boys. That's a relief to see.

  • #2587
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 4/10


    Relics of myth: In the original D&D sets, magic items directly based upon real world ones were pretty light on the ground. Until the master set, where they did include stats for a whole load of real things, generally with interesting drawbacks along with their pretty impressive powers. While that has been eroded since then, with tons of articles converting real world stuff at a rather lower power level, it looks like we're having a callback here. Let's see exactly which items they've picked, and if they're ones that already have D&D versions, or are all new to the game.

    The Codex Hammer isn't actually a hammer, it's Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. Reading them gives you a free epic skill focus in something appropriately techy. There's 31 volumes in it, so you can build a whole campaign around collecting the set, and becoming a true renaissance man in a way normally built D&D characters can't match. 31 free extra feats is entirely worth the effort.

    Crocea Mors is Julius Ceasar's sword, it's deeds suitably exaggerated by time. It's powerful in combat, and intelligent as well, helping you command armies and govern nations, but if you show weakness, it'll desert you and leave you to die. Sounds about right. These sort of legends always have a tragic ending, no matter how much awesome stuff you accomplish in the meantime.

    The Crystal Skulls of Doom have yet to be associated with Indiana jones and the nuke-proof fridge, so I guess they're still cool. They have all sorts of divinatory powers, but will drive the weak willed insane, or even make their heads explode. Pretty powerful, and also exactly what you'd expect. Sometimes playing it straight just works.

    The English Regalia gives the wearer +12 to a whole load of ruling appropriate stuff, plus the choice of four +7 swords so you have a good set of options against people who refuse to bend knee and acknowledge your sovereignty. It's pretty devoid of drawbacks, which makes sense, since the english monarchy has been relatively stable as these things go. Individual ones may screw up, go mad, or occasionally be overthrown, but the job continues onwards. That's their failings, not the equipment.

    The First Folio is the original version of Shakespear's (nearly) full works. The performance bonus is enough to ensure people'll be plagiarising it for centuries to come. Nuff said.

    The Hope Diamond doesn't have any useful powers, it just randomly s with it's owner. Sell it on fast, because you ain't resisting this very easily.

    The Lamentation stone of the Taj Mahal is also pretty pointless, it's only powers devoted to making itself more impressive and emotionally resonant. Still, I guess that means it'll have no shortage of people hoping to own it.

    Rabbi Loew's Golem is suitably epic in physical power, and just smart enough to realise it's not a real boy, and so become problematic. Still, if you can get a castle built in the meantime, you might be able to get some profit out of this.

    The Rosetta Stone also gets exaggerated. If you know enough languages, you can gain the ability to understand all of them, and the more you know, the easier it becomes. Here, the only epic thing about it is that the bonus is permanent. Meh.

    The Sphinx is a bit of a pain to animate, and a bit slow, but with hundreds of HD, and 300 points of damage resistance, it's pretty much invulnerable to even most epic characters. If a hecatoncheires shows up, you may have to get this to deal with it, because at least you can control and outmaneuver the sphinx, for all it's power.

    The Stones of destiny are another one which grants permanent buffs, this time ones that scale with you so be you at first or epic level, the bonuses will be appropriate for the challenges you'll be facing.

    Stonehenge and other standing circles let you apply a ton of metamagic feats to appropriate spells if you meet some very specific conditions. When the spells include things like elemental swarm, what's a few bees (not the bees) as a price for dealing with that pesky town that's been upsetting the balance of nature? So while not all of the items here are suitably epic, some of them are, and their powers are distinctive and fun enough that including them in your game will definitely be a memorable experience. I approve.

  • #2588
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    Quote Originally Posted by (un)reason View Post
    The Sphinx is a bit of a pain to animate, and a bit slow, but with hundreds of HD, and 300 points of damage resistance, it's pretty much invulnerable to even most epic characters. If a hecatoncheires shows up, you may have to get this to deal with it, because at least you can control and outmaneuver the sphinx, for all it's power.
    Did anyone ever try to use the Sphinx in a fight? I think I tried actually making a 100th level character once and couldn't figure out a way for even that to ever hit the thing.

  • #2589
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 5/10


    Rival the GODS: And now for more prestige classes that didn't make the cut in the final book. Exactly why, other than just space in general, I guess we'll see. Sometimes there's hidden gems, and it was merely a matter of taste, class demographics, or office politics. Other times, it's pretty obvious why they were cut. Which'll it be here?

    Arcane Lords are have full spellcasting progression, plus at least one extra ability enhancing their spells every level as well. They're strictly better than sticking with Sorcerer or Wizard in every respect apart from skills and familiar advancement, so the only drawback to switching to them and staying is the possibility of running out of places to put your skill points when your int gets too superhuman. And if you're a sorcerer, you won't even have to worry about that. Life can be pretty grand as an epic spellcaster.

    Masters of the Order of the Bow are designed to follow on from a specific prestige class in one of their splatbooks, although you can get in other ways, it'll just take a little longer. They aren't that great, because their ranged sneak attack power, which is the main part of their build, is still only usable at 30 foot, so they won't really be epic snipers to rival the blasty powers of spellcasters. Even +20 to hit pales before stuff which works automatically.

    Perfected Ones take monk's focus on upgrading their body, and build on it further. They get a whole bunch of automatically activating countermeasures that mean imprisoning them or mind controlling them is unlikely to work. A lot of their powers don't grow indefinitely, so once you get to 10th level, sticking with this one doesn't seem so smart, but if you don't want to spend ages maintaining your basic contingency suites just to stay alive in a game of epic paranoia, there are worse options.

    Stalwart Wardens are basically the Epic upgrade for Dwarven Defenders, ridiculously tough, and near impossible to move via force or magical persuasion once they've decide to guard someone or something. Once again, they're survivable at epic levels, but proactively changing the world will remain tricky. Be the rock, not the storm.

    Unholy Ravagers are an epic blackguard variant that are so eeevil and corrupt that they radiate an aura that spoils food, makes babies cry, and generally makes all right-thinking people deeply unhappy whenever they're near without even trying. You can kill them and take their stuff and feel absolutely zero guilt about it, for they cause trouble every second they exist and revel in it. Just watch out they don't have evil intelligent magic items that'll take you over and lead you down to the dark side in turn.

    World Guardians are another variant on druidic hierophants, eschewing the extradimensional travel and elemental summoning for more nature connected innate powers, which a high level druid could replicate anyway. Once again, it's not so much an increase in magnitude as gradually adding on more of the same kind of resources. I'm completely unimpressed with this article, both in terms of power and flavour. It just doesn't do anything for me at all.

  • #2590
    Dragon Issue 297: July 2002


    part 6/10


    Children of the cosmos: In issue 293, we got conversions of the Genasi to 3e. Pretty soon for a follow-up, don't you think. They must have sent this in straight after, or maybe even before that was published. Yup, it's another symmetry filler, detailing lawful and chaotic planetouched, plus 6 para and quasielemental Genasi types. (not the complete set, but I'm sure someone else'll handle the other 6 too. ) All of them are LA+1, making them approximately balanced with the existing variants, and the way their abilities are arranged is pretty similar too, with modest resistances to appropriate elemental types, a bonus to a couple of skills, and a low level spell-like power that might save your hide. So this is competently done enough to blend in seamlessly with existing material, and would be much the same as if I'd written it. Not sure if that's good or dull. Done well enough to make it look effortless is harder than putting no effort in, so I can't actually object to this. Now, will they publish letters asking for the rest before they actually finish the series?


    Fiction: And all the sinners, saints by Paul Kemp. Hello again, Erevis Cale. Starting to wish you'd never got involved with this adventuring lark, because now you're going to spend your life going from one annoying mission to the next, at the behest of a god who does not have your interests at heart, and definitely doesn't have a good retirement package in his benefits. And what seems like a simple assassination job rapidly turns into a big convoluted political mess that forces former enemies to work together (with the intent of betraying each other at the end) and finishes up with Erevis choosing to be good in the face of adversity again, and just about getting away with it. So this is entertaining enough, and gains a little extra weight because all the interwoven political stuff is in the Realms, which has enough built up history that convoluted webs of scheming no-one can keep track of feel completely natural and organic, rather than just created for a single story to fit the current plot. There are good ways and bad ways to tell a story in an established universe, and this is one of the better ones.

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