Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Normalizing 4D6

As the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions.”


I was surfing online this weekend looking for interesting dice sets, just for fun. While a majority of polyhedral roleplaying game dice I noticed contained one each of the “standard” dice (including the D% ten sider), I was surprised to see a number of them – primarily in my search for “Koplow dice” – included four six-sided dice (4D6). I’ve seen a few sets in stores that also pack 4D6. I checked the “starter” boxes I have for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition and realized the dice set provided with the Essentials Kit also included 4D6 (the Essentials Kit offers character creation rules, while the Starter Set does not). This seems to indicate a shift over the game’s almost 50-year history from several methods of rolling character ability scores to the one most geared toward what some might call a heroic play style; one where player-characters aren’t simply grunts sent through a meat-grinder adventure to meet horrible ends, with only the most “worthy” surviving, but where they begin as heroes who all have value in the overall storyline.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Making New Discoveries

 “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”


I sometimes joke about my “gaming radar” when I discover new products that engage my interest in some aspect of the greater adventure gaming hobby. We each have different strategies for staying on top of gaming news, discovering new releases, evaluating possible purchases, and generally finding new inspirations that fuel our engagement with the hobby (including books and music in particular). Like reconnaissance technologies over the years our means of finding gaming news has changed, become seemingly more efficient, and flooded us with more information to analyze and distill into some effective form. Intelligence-gathering technology evolved from rudimentary radar and sonar to such marvels as satellites, GPS tracking, and lidar. Gamers once relied on magazines and limited personal contacts to gain new information about developments in the hobby; today the internet exposes us to an oft-overwhelming torrent of sources about countless developments in gaming.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Favorite Things: Thrilling Locations

 I don’t regard James Bond precisely as a hero, but at least he does get on and do his duty, in an extremely corny way.”

Ian Fleming

I recently spent an evening watching You Only Live Twice in our makeshift basement home theater: big screen, stereo speakers, quality projector, and sustenance from our “Space Bar.” I used to enjoy all the James Bond films, but in my more discerning older age I prefer to occasionally indulge in a handful of personal favorites. Yes, the plots are convoluted, the characters clichéd, the action over-the-top; but these films embodied an exotic, exciting sense of juvenile adventure that appealed to me in my younger days when a cinematic roller coaster ride mattered more than deep plot and characters. (Alas, I no longer have an appetite for more modern Bond films and their far too convoluted plots and impossible CGI-crammed action sequences that make my head spin.) It reminded me of my occasional dabbling with the espionage genre in roleplaying games, starting with TSR’s Top Secret and further enhanced by Victory Games’ James Bond 007 Game...which I first discovered through one of the supplements that still inspires me today, Thrilling Locations.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Schweig’s B/X D&D Notebook

I’ve had hopes recently about introducing my son and a handful of his school friends to Dungeons & Dragons. (Granted I’m ignoring the inherent stigma D&D arouses in these regressive regions, but, ever the naïve optimist, I want to trust most parents these days would see the benefits of roleplaying games rather than assume they’re tools of Satan....) Unfortunately 18 months of the covid-19 pandemic – with its requisite precautions of social distancing, avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, plus an entire year of school online – put those aspirations on indefinite hold. But I can still dream and prepare. Besides, I sometime dabble in solitaire D&D play, reveling in rules, procedures, and imaginary action that once inspired me in my long-ago nostalgic youth. These urges lead to the inevitably inflammable question of “Which edition of D&D are you going to run?” Well, my own edition, of course.