Friday, June 27, 2008

If Twitter dies...

When Twitter is over capacity, how can I post my pithy comments quickly and easily, too quickly and easily to think better of them?

Like, "For the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year."

On a slightly related note--when did Digg get overrun by lunatic climate change deniers? Just because you don't think global warming is real doesn't change reality, Digg-lunatics. Do you drive a car? Do you use the internet every day to check your email and connect to Digg? Do you go to the doctor? Do you talk on a cell phone? Do you use global positioning "beamed" down from satellites? All brought to you by science. And now, the scientific consensus among researchers who study climate say global climate change is real, and dealing with it must begin now, now ten years from now.

See? When Twitter dies, I have to post here and vent my spleen. On twitter, the 140 character limit spares you this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alchemical Imbalance

The latest Dragon article in the Roll vs Role column penned by me and Chris Sims is now posted at Wizards. The Roll vs Role articles are designed to give DMs some great background on a specific series of encounters, providing both roleplaying and tactical information appropriate to the encounter. Each article could be developed into a full-blown adventure, or used as more limited series of encounters, depending on a DM's desire.

The article just posted, Alchemical Imbalance, focuses on a tribe of goblins who've found power in iffy alchemical arts.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

D&D Alignment

Now that 4th Edition D&D is released, excerpts from the rules are a little less exciting, eh?

But, an excerpt that released last week discussed D&D alignment, and some of our thoughts about why alignment was updated. Behind the scenes, I was the chair of the alignment committee, and the report I and my committee put together greatly influenced the final alignment system. Here is a summary of what we were thinking, in simplified form.
Like everything else for 4th Edition of D&D, we thought long and hard about the alignment system we wanted to launch with the new edition. The struggle of good heroes against evil villains is one D&D’s core tenants. The D&D alignment system possesses a heritage and brand identity we did not want to lose. If we could overcome a couple of issues associated with the traditional alignment system without introducing new problems, we knew that we absolutely had to preserve the system so players could still talk about their lawful good paladin or the chaotic evil demon they vanquished.

As we saw it, several issues plagued D&D alignment, including:

1. A character’s alignment, chosen at character creation, can become a straight-jacket on that character’s actions. Consider the paladin we’ve all seen in play, “I had to attack the rogue, I’m lawful good,” or the rogue, “I’m chaotic good! That means sometimes I push you off the bridge; come on, don’t get mad!” or some similar sentiment when presented with a role-playing choice. For this reason, many characters stuck with neutral: a nebulous self-serving alignment (as was then defined), a “me first” mentality that didn’t necessarily promote party cohesion either.

2. In 3rd Edition, choosing an alignment usually had the unfortunate mechanical repercussion of making the aligned player vulnerable to an opposing aligned attack of a foe. It’s not really ideal that being good made you more vulnerable to demonic attacks, for instance. Another reason some players stuck with the neutral alignment of previous editions.

3. The alignment system was tied to game cosmology, in ways that sometimes translated to physical effects that didn’t lead to fun gameplay.

So we came up with a new alignment system for 4th Edition, though one not completely unlike the previous version. It saves most of the old terms, if not their cosmological or gameplay significance. If any statement can sum up the new system, it is: “Alignment means making an effort.” --Michele Carter.

Thus was born the concept of unaligned. More importantly, the concept that unaligned is benign. Being unaligned is not the neutral alignment of previous editions. Someone who is unaligned is assumed to be an “easy-going” and sometimes even helpful person, especially when it’s easy to be helpful. Just like in real life, where it’s arguable that many people (cocooned in their routines and safe lives provided by a supporting civilization) are unaligned, your fantasy character can enjoy the same freedom from thinking too hard about morality but still be granted the benefit of doubt when they are judged.

Of course, many players will feel benign isn’t good enough, and so declare themselves good or lawful good. These characters are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to uphold a virtue or save an innocent’s life, even if there is the very real possibility they could lose their own life in the process. Such willingness for self-sacrifice is not benign; it is good.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Plague of Spells Cover

This caught me by surprise, but it looks like the Plague of Spells cover is finished. Finished, and updated on Amazon, even!

I wonder if color reproduction on this art piece is accurate to the actual cover. The the blackish goop snaking into the frame from the lower right to strike the figure should be more blue in color, and more fiery in composition. I hope the actual cover is true to that description, but if not, not the end of the world. (Just as the Year of Blue Fire/the Spellplague isn't the end of the world for Faerûn . . . For some creatures that linger beneath Faerûn's catacombed mantle, it is just the beginning.)

Either way, I dig how this cover looks.

I'm already 25k words into the 2nd book of this trilogy. I'll be glad to see this first one hit the book stores.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Obama in my old Home State of SD

This video brought a tear to me eye. Watch Ida Fast Wolf introduce Mr. Obama for a rally in Rapid City SD yesterday.