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Friday, August 31

Lasermonks!

No, these are not sci-fi chop-sockey monks. These are honest-to-goodness religious monks who happen to refill their own brand of ink cartridges at bargain prices. You get cheap ink refills and all for a good cause -- you can't beat that! [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:44 PM | 1 comments links to this post


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Wednesday, August 29

Sneak Peeks of D&D Insider

And here are some screenshots of the D&D Insider, courtesy of ENWorld. The Character Modeler:



And the virtual tabletop:

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:47 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Tuesday, August 28

As Gray and Cold as Stone - Part 3: Meeting With Elandre

“I can offer you 200 Imperials each to find out the reason for the betrothal.”

Ilmarė turned to Quintus. Quintus’ nostrils flared. He stared sideways at a wall. Then he nodded.

“We’re in,” said Ilmarė.

“Me too,” said Kham.

“Thank you very much for your assistance,” said Elandre. “Remember, no one else knows the real reason you are here.”

“They’re not the only ones,” muttered Ilmarė. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:42 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, August 26

D&D Insider NOT a Requirement

There's been a lot of hysteria on the boards lately on how the DID Insider and the online component are not accessible to some D&D fans (due to the fact that they're poor, don't have a PC, etc.). But here's the thing: YOU CAN STILL PLAY D&D IN PERSON WITH YOUR FRIENDS.

First, it needs to be said that D&DI will be a part of 4th Edition D&D, but is not required to play D&D. D&DI will facilitate certain tasks and it is up to each of you to pick which parts of D&DI you will choose to use if you become a D&DI subscriber. Obviously, we are planning to make the whole offering attractive, but D&DI applications and web resources will be very modular and varied, reflecting the flexibility of the game itself. Between the game table, the character sheet, the character builder (also called visualizer), the dungeon builder or the encounter builder, these applications, like various pieces of a kit, will be usable independently of each others, or together. It is also important to highlight the fact that the game table can be used for any RPG purpose. It will be particularly well suited to 4th Edition, of course, but not restricted to it. [MORE]


So can we all stop tearing our hair and pissing and moaning about how D&D isn't for you and how you're going to leave the hobby and that it jumped the shark and that D&D Insider is "teh Devi1!!!1!" because you don't have access to the digital initiative?

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:03 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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D&D to Consumer: Buy the Damn Book!

Sure enough, the new online D&D functionality WILL require you to buy a copy of the book to get the unique digital code. That means no sharing with your loser friends who don't have any money. It also means that if you're a family playing online, you'll need to have a copy for each family member. I'm not sure why a family would be playing online though.

Anyhoo, here's the answer from Scott Rouse, Brand Manager for D&D:


Originally Posted by Mistwell
WotC_ScottR, a lot of gaming groups have one person buy a book, and then many players using the book. I understand that only one account (attached to the person who buys the book) will have access the online digital version of the book, but will there be a way for players to populate the database attached to their online accounts with rules from a book that they did not personally buy?If not, are you saying the only way for a group of 5 people to use the options of one book with the DI database is for all 5 people to buy the hardcopy of the book?


From Scott Rouse: yes. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 1:07 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Hannibal Lecter: Transhumanist Icon

An excellent analysis of the Hannibal series of books and movies and how they represent Transhumanism. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:58 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Thursday, August 23

As Gray and Cold as Stone - Part 2: You Take the High Road…

“We’ve also been told that a group of honored guests from Milandir will be here, though we don’t know exactly who. Beyond that…well, who can say?” Clavius’ extremely short attention span was distracted once more. “You must polish that marble in a SMOOTH motion!” he sang. “Smooth. Up and down, left and right. That’s it, that’s it!”

The fat man floated away to pep up another servant, all of which were studiously ignoring him.

“Osalian help us,” said Ilmarė, rubbing her temples.

“I know,” said Quintus. “He’s really quite annoying.”

“Not that,” said Ilmarė. “One of the ‘important guests’ just arrived.”

“Kham!” shouted Quintus with a broad smile. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:28 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Combat Missions: Has Anyone Seen It?

The book I wrote several years ago for Paradigm Concepts, Combat Missions for the Spycraft game, supposedly was released at Gen Con this year. Has anyone seen it?

Anyone?

Bueller?

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:27 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Tuesday, August 21

As Gray and Cold as Stone - Part 1: Arrival at the Villa

The bustle of activity became more obvious as they passed through the gates into the outer courtyard. One slave was carefully trimming the hedges that line the outer wall while another followed behind him, carefully pick up each cut twig and fallen leaf. Other slaves were polishing the white marble steps and washing the walls of the villa, while still others decorated the lawn and front doorway with brightly colored summer flowers.

“To be in full bloom this late in the year, those flowers must have been brought all the way from Altheria,” said Ilmarė.

“A considerable expense,” said Quintus. “It speaks volumes about our hosts.”

“Which volume is that?” Ilmarė eyed the servants. “That they’re pretentious boors or prissy nobility?”

“Perhaps a combination of both,” said Quintus as a fat man with an ill-fitting wig and a powdered face flounced up to them. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:42 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Jonathan Maberry's Book Tour

Jonathan Maberry is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Ghost Road Blues and the upcoming Zombie CSU: The Forensic Science of the Living Dead. He is the author of 17 nonfiction books, several novels, and has written over 1000 feature articles, two plays, and more. Jonathan is a motivational speaker, a lecturer for the National Writers Union, and co-founder of The Writers Corner USA -a writers education center.

Confirmed events
Saturday, August 25, 12:00 PM

Borders Express – Mays Landing NJ

4403 Black Horse Pike # 217; Mays Landing, NJ 08330 [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:29 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, August 20

Chapter 19: As Gray and Cold as Stone - Introduction

This adventure is hard point 1 in Year 2 of the tournament module, "As Gray and Cold as Stone," written by Brian Schoner, set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

· Quintus Aurelius Ignatius (human cleric) played by Michael Tresca
· Ilmarė Galen (elf bard/fighter) played by Amber Tresca
· Kham Val’Abebi(val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)

Robert Taylor was Dungeon Master for this session: http://www.storyboardz.net

I’ve gotten accustomed to having a fighter around, be it Cal the crazy barbarian, Beldin the stalwart dwarf, or Vlad the meat shield. We didn’t have any of those guys this game, which means Quintus was supposed to be the fighter type guy. Unfortunately, I didn’t shift my spells to reflect that change. When push comes to shove, Quintus gets his butt kicked all over the place.

On the other hand, the one time a fight does happen is when none of us are prepared for it. Quintus is effective in armor hiding behind a shield with a longspear. Not in a nightshirt with a gladius.

There’s a lah-HA-HA-ot of talking in this adventure. The politics bored Kham considerably. Fortunately, he got to shine by completely screwing up. You’re surprised, I know.

By far the highlight of this adventure is when the Emperor notices Quintus. As Ilmarė put it: “We’ll never hear the end of this.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:33 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, August 19

The DM of the Rings

Just found this again on the Internet: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?cat=14

I love this comic so much...because it's ALL TRUE!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:45 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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My Thoughts on D&D 4.0

There's a lot of griping, accusations, and flat-out incorrect information floating around on D&D 4.0. I figured I'd add my two cents to the mix:

You can play D&D with whatever you've got right now. WOTC could never print another page and you'd be set for life. This is a game of imagination, and few hobbies give you the complete building blocks to create more of said hobby for under 100 bucks. You're done. Close your eyes, open your imagination, and never look back.

But there are a lot of folks who don't see it just as a personal hobby. They see it as an investment hobby, with new and interesting ideas added to the game by an official source. They want, they CRAVE, new additions to the game. They look forward to using the new rules that come out or incorporating them into the game already. So they want published books to come out. This follows the typical model of a market, which is a dangerous game any RPG publisher plays since they technically gave you everything you need with the core rules.

But it works, because people buy those unnecessary books.

So from one perspective, D&D is immortal. Whatever you have now is good, you'll never need anything else again, go and have fun.

From another perspective, D&D is a culture of consumers with a common language, defined by WOTC. WOTC continually refines and defines that language by publishing books, so that if we all have Complete Psionic, we all speak the same gaming language and are thus more compatible. This makes us more likely to find new players. This helps keep the community cohesive instead of fragmented. But the rub is that everyone has to buy into it. And of course, not everyone does. So we have fragmentation anyway.

But we have fragmentation amongst OLDER consumers. Markets need fresh blood, that's vital to make them long term consumers. So given the choice...catering between the folks who have been playing for years or providing a new opportunity with each book to catch a new consumer...a business chooses to continue to publish new material and thereby justify its existence. The polite fiction is over: WOTC is a hungry beast and it will continue to make product so long as there are consumers willing to buy it.

Here's my suspicions:

  1. There was finally a downturn in D&D sales. That's an excellent reason to
    launch a new edition alone.
  2. The day D&D stops getting a new edition is the day D&D dies as a business model and transforms into a insular hobby model. Mind you, it will always live on in campaigns, open support, the Internet, my imagination, yadda yadda. But the day the company stops trying to refine a product is the day the game becomes a dead game. Development, evolution, refinement of a product is not only critical to a healthy company; it means the business cares enough about the core product to make it better. The alternative is just declaring the game absolutely fantastic as it is, and end up with Palladium's business model.
  3. WOTC is trying to SAVE D&D by adding it to the Internet. The old social mediums were people getting together in person to party. But the world has changed. With the fragmentation of in-person social networks and the evolution of online social networks, not only should WOTC be pushing this digital initiative, failure to do so means D&D will become an insular hobby, along with model trains. We can all stand around pretending that it's easy to get five kids together to play a game. We can deny that the hobby on the whole has aged and us adults have time to travel two hours so we can play together for four hours (my situation). We can fool ourselves into thinking that D&D is not a complex game, basically two big fat rules manuals that have to be the most challenging barriers to entry for a hobby on the planet -- "Here kid, you wanna play this game? Learn all these rules first. They're over six hundred pages in total and even though we put it in color with fancy illustrations, a huge chunk of it is about math" -- or we can see what makes D&D great and keep making it better for the next generation.

Me? So long as each new edition has something that seems manifestly better than the version before, I'm gonna keep changing. So in another six years or so, my son will have something to play with his dad.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:19 PM | 2 comments links to this post


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Friday, August 17

Book Review: Tales of Freeport

Overall, Tales of Freeport is full of good ideas but has a somewhat unpolished execution. The book could easily have been twice the size and dealt with some of the interesting plots in more detail, while at the same time excising recycled content from old adventures to make space. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 4:52 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Thursday, August 16

Can A New Dungeons & Dragons Version Insulate Hasbro From Current Toy Industry Woes?

Hasbro has a franchise on its books that acts as a gift that keeps on giving: Wizards of the Coast, and the beloved Dungeons & Dragons (R) franchise. This is the game that all the parents used to worry about their kids playing because of exaggerated and isolated instances of some kids losing their minds, and now all those parents read Harry Potter themselves. It is still a puzzle as to whom the real joke is on. But the Dungeons & Dragons franchise is about to get another formal makeover for next year.


And

This new 4th edition is dubbed the D&D Insider(TM). Web estimates are far as total dollars spent on the gaming system are impossible to track because new sales often get recycled as used game sales and hand-me-downs. Some estimates have 15 million game players over the history of the game and some estimates are north of 20 million players since its inception in the 1970's. Generally speaking, the game itself and the offshoots for it have been responsible for over $1 Billion in retails sales in the US alone. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:01 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Yep, it's 4E Time

And I have to say from what I'm reading at http://www.enworld.org, I'm pretty excited.

The countdown on Wizards' web site was of course a flop, as probably billions of people just like me waited for the countdown and then all hit the web site simultaneously. And of course it went down. :)

Try for yourself: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/welcome

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:31 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Book Review: Crisis in Freeport

Overall, CIF is a deadly serious action adventure with a plot that moves briskly. From a riot to a hostage crisis, an assassination attempt to a crime boss raid, a midnight retaliation to plenty of politics, CIF provides enough fodder to wrap up a Freeport game. It's probably impossible to please every DM with the conclusion, but CIF does an adequate job of providing a definitive ending to a story arc. I just wish it were a little less squicky. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:21 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Book Review: Black Sails Over Freeport

I can't be too hard on this adventure. It's like that player you have in your game who doesn't know how to play D&D but has big ideas; he's big on theatrics and sketchy on details, cracks a lot of jokes, drinks all your soda, and is basically just there to have fun. For all its stogie-smoking zombies, card-playing gorillas, and flying giant skulls, BSOF is about having a good time and damn the consequences. DMs should consider carefully if their campaign and players can handle it. Mine did just fine. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:19 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Wednesday, August 15

4th Edition is Coming!

I scoffed for sure...but now that this is at the Wizards web site: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/welcome

I'm not so sure. Man oh man, it sure looks like that's for 4th edition.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:23 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Saturday, August 11

Sails & Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy

My buddy Joe Martin has a 22-page short story debuting in a fantasy anthology shipping August 21st from Fantasist Enterprises. It's called "Sails & Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy." You can see the Web page for it by visiting http://fantasistent.com/books/anthologies/SAILS.php and order it at Amazon.com.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:13 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Feedback on Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs

From: http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=103252&goto=newpost
Wow. Just wanted to say what a great story hour you've got here. I haven't started the Grains of Sand chapters yet, but I had to chime in after reading the King in Yellow story. Great mix of creepy horror culminating in a climactic battle.

Great stuff!

Azgulor

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:57 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Friday, August 10

Game Review: Earth Defense Force 2017

You have to be a certain kind of person to appreciate EDF. If you've ever enjoyed THEM!, Tarantula, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Godzilla, Starship Troopers, Aliens, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, or if you just happen to like blowing things up but suck at games like Gears of War and Halo...then grab your rocket launcher, soldier, because the EDF needs you! [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:25 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Tuesday, August 7

Grains of Sand - Conclusion

“Well, House Otrecto’s involvement is treasonous. You’ll be happy to know that the val’Dellenovs stripped them of their lands and titles. Several ranking members of House Otrecto were executed or imprisoned.”

“I take no pleasure in their misery,” said Quintus. He looked tired.

“That’s not what I meant.” Gratian placed a rolled up scroll with the val’Dellenov seal on it before Quintus. “Governor Elana val’Dellenov of Panari assigned you a tract of Otrecto’s seized lands. You now have your farmland.” He pushed a small chest forward. “I assume the imperials will satisfy the rest of your companions.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:13 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Introducing...Brenden Kenneth Tresca!


BKT was born August 3 at 7:30 p.m., weighting 6.25 lbs and 19 inches long. Mother and baby are doing fine.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 4:04 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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