Sunday, March 23, 2014

Captain Blood

Once more I read an old adventure novel.  I have a mild interest in old adventure novels.  I am interested in the historical perspective they sometimes reveal, curious about the ground work they have set for future works, they generally are much shorter than the modern behemoths being published, and if I don't care for them I am not out anything but time because I generally get them on my Kindle.

I read this free Kindle version of the novel (spoilers in the 2nd link).

As far as I can tell the novel appears to be historically based.  I am no expert on the time period, about 1688, but they major events seem to track to real history.  The novel is not so much about the main events of the time period but more about the effect it had on people.  As in most adventure novels I have read from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it does its fair share of thinly veiled social commentary.

Basically Captain Blood, is a hero of high moral standards who is thrown low, and comes back in a dashing style.  What more could you ask for in a pirate adventure?

The writing is not too bad.  However several times the writing style devolves into explaining things instead of telling the story.  That also seems to be quite common in early novels.  One thing I do find interesting is the general reviling of the Spanish throughout the book.  I am not sure if that is historically accurate, or just a bias of the author.

All in all, not a bad short read, with some interesting history.  It most certainly is fertile ground for ideas to be used in an episodic adventure style RPG.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Other observations from 4th Edition

After some additional time playing 4th Edition I offer these more recent observations.

Movement, area spells and the lack of extra cost for diagonal movement really does make the action move faster.  That said, I still don't know if I favor the approach.   When playing the 4th Edition game I just went with it and tried not to think about the discontinuity of the approach.  Last week I played in a 3.5 game and the additional time to calculate movement and spell area effects was noticeable.

WoTC online tools for 4E make character upgrades and decisions faster.  I do not know how you would find all the options in books, and whether the cost of that sized library is worth it.  The options in just the core books are a bit limited and the huge number of options available in the on-line tools is tempting.  The DM has a subscription and we logged in as him to make the updates.

In the last session my Mage character was hit with a strange poison which brought me to zero hit points and kept me unconscious.  It was an usual situation, and the numbers were a bit of an oddity, but the net effect was I was not going to die from the poison but there was no way to trigger a save roll or nor death save until additional damage from another source hit my character.  So I was out for a few rounds with nothing at all to do.  Seeing that, the DM gave me control of a bad guy.  I happily attacked the party until I realized if I used an area power that hit my character it would trigger events which would likely have brought my character back into the battle.  The bad guy wouldn't know that, and I didn't want to take advantage of that in playing the bad guy.  Awkward.

I still find formal skill challenges to be awkward.  In the last session an NPC leads us through the explanation of how we prevent a machine from blowing up.  Unfortunately it ended up being a bunch of rolls rather than role playing.  I would still rather see a DM give players a problem and let them figure it out with their own minds and using rolls as a last resort.

Where has Barad been?

Life got complicated the last several months.  Some family issues and the loss of my job.  Not to worry, it will all work out in the end.

Blogging may continue to be spotty.  My 3.5E group essentially ended a while back and there is no outlook for interest in reforming in the near future.  The 4E Zeitgeist campaign I joined is on hiatus, and it may be a permanent end.  I am having difficulty getting interest from my group who plays in my d20 past Victorian Shadows campaign.  In the mean time I am a guest in my sons 3.5E group and am looking for a local table top D&D group to join.

Until next time, all the best.  The dice never lie.
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