March 17th, 2008

Kero class

Mailbag Day!

And what a bag of mail it is! Let's get right into it...

Dear Gneech,
As you seem to be an expert on it, what's the difference between a "geek" and a "nerd"?
P. Parker
New York, NY

Well, it's a fine distinction, P.P., but I'll summarize it like this:

GameMaster: Okay, your R2 unit gets up into its socket on the X-Wing, and--
Player 1: Hey, I've always wondered, how does R2 get up there when you're not at a hangar bay with a crane?
Player 2: Obviously, he climbs up there with his various stubby little arms, which takes forever and looks ridiculous.
All: *chuckle*
GameMaster: Okay, your R2 unit climbs up to its socket on the X-Wing, which takes forever and looks ridiculous, and you prepare for takeoff. Meanwhile...

GameMaster: Okay, your R2 unit gets up into its socket on the X-Wing, and--
Player 1: Hey, I've always wondered, how does an R2 unit get up there when you're not at a hangar bay with a crane?
Player 2: Obviously, he climbs up there with his various stubby little arms, which takes forever and looks ridiculous.
Player 1: That's just stupid. Obviously, he's got those little booster jets from Episode II, and uses those to fly up.
Player 2: No, Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections specifically states that the jets are a nonstandard modification to R2 units, that were installed by the Naboo engineers for Padmé. So you can't go by Artoo as the standard for any old generic R2 unit.
GameMaster: Well, hold on, Star Wars: The Ultimate Guide to Droids says that the jets DO come standard on R2 units, but that they tend to wear out and become unusable after about 15 years or so, which is why you never see Artoo using them in the classic trilogy.
Player 2: That and budgets.
GameMaster: Well, yeah.
Player 1: Well, maybe he has a little repulsor unit, you know, like interrogation droids or probe droids.
Player 2: That's dumb. If Artoo had a repulsor, why would he have jets?
Player 1: Do you really think those two little butane torches on his legs were strong enough to lift a heavy droid up in the air? No, he has the repulsor for lift, and the jets are just for maneuvering.
Player 2: Then why don't you see him floating around all the time like V.I.N.C.E.N.T. from The Black Hole?
(etc., etc., ad nauseam)

Hope that makes it more clear!

-The Gneech

Dear The Gneech:
I did not have sex with that woman!
B. Clinton

What a coincidence! Neither did I! [1]

-The Gneech

Dear Gneech,
I work in an office where there is constant jackhammering going on due to building renovations. Is there some way I can keep from going all crazygonuts and losing it all together?
Rattleand Roll

I recommend working from home from now on. Particularly if you have a cat.

-The Gneech

Dear Mr. The Gneech,
If you blow in while I blow out, who will blow the candle out? If you blow hot and I blow cold, we'll come to blows before we're old.
W. Kelly
Beyond the Grave

Creepy, yet charming.

-The Gneech

[1] Rejected responses included:
* And I care, because...?
* Are you sure? It was dark, you might have mistaken her for someone else.
* Why not? Everyone else did!
Conan Civilization Sucks

4E Really Looking Bad Now... :( [gaming]

Y'know, lots of the WotC staff and playtesters keep saying things like, "Having been on 4E for a while, I just can't stand the idea of going back to 3.5 -- 4E is so much faster/simpler/whateverer!" This is a statement to which I'm somewhat sympathetic, as it's sorta how I feel about SWSE vs. 3.5, so with that in mind I was really hoping that, even though they killed the magazines [1], I might at least come to like 4E.

Well, unless something really unexpected comes up between now and then, that ain't gonna happen.

If you're wondering what I'm basing it on, it's primarily a "fan created" PHB based on preview materials released so far, including the "preview play" games handed out at the recent D&D Experience convention. I recommend that if you're interested in 4E at all, you download it and take a look.

First of all, there's the races. Tieflings are a core race. Eladrin have a 5-square teleport as a racial ability.

Then, the classes. Every vaguely-magical class is firing off spells with a flash and a bang all over the place. Paladins do smites that make magic shields appear in front of buddies. Rangers shoot arrows in two directions simultaneously. And this is all at first level!

Basically, it's all "Turn it up to 11!!!!!1"-ified, with all of the worst annoying D&D cheese cranked right up at first level, with the promise of worse things to come.

If you're still interested, you might also want to check out this monsters compilation. In particular, as a ferinstance, check out the "Hobgoblin Soldier" on page 8 of the PDF. As the name implies, he's a hobgoblin armed with a flail, so far so good. What does a flail do? Damage, of course. But a successful hit also slows the target.

Um ... why? The 4E answer seems to be "BECAUSE THAT'S KEWL!!!" Or something. 0.o

This is followed by "Formation Strike." This is a power in which the hobgoblin attacks, does damage, and then moves one square. Okay. But only if he ends up next to another hobgoblin. Ga-buh? No hobgoblin, he's stuck and place and can only wail on you with his amazing slow-bestowing flail. But with another hobgoblin, instead of slowing you, HE moves instead.

Um ... why?

And this is a 3rd level monster. A mook. They've all got stuff like that. The "Goblin Picador" sticks you with a harpoon and you can't move away from him. Kobolds get +1 if there's another kobold nearby. Gnolls do more damage if there are 2 more gnolls nearby. Just lots of random effects scattered all over the place. I grok that it makes for more diverse combats than just "roll, do damage, roll, do damage" -- but unless there's some underlying system for it all, it's also a nasty mess of the "every monster is its own rule" variety.

(One of the things that laurie_robey often bemoans about D&D is that every spell is its own rule that you have to know on top of the core mechanics. 4E has expanded that so that every friggin' creature is its own rule. 0.o)

So ... yeah ... not liking the direction this seems to be moving in. Looks like I may end up doing Sword-and-Sorcery SAGA from now on...

-The Gneech

[1] No, I still haven't forgiven them.