Thursday, April 19, 2007

Okay, you might have liked the summary part of the last entry, but this time I'm just going to ramble.
So be warned.

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First off, currently I'm completely engrossed in something unexpected.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5

Actually, to be more precise, I'm engrossed in one thing: Character customization. And it's due to one simple fact: I have waaaaay too many DnD 3.5 books on PDF. I had quite a few before, but after re-installing Limewire the other day and going on a "gaming books in PDF" download spree, I have something like 25-30!

All the extra books, on top of the core books (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual), just add way too many options to the mix. There are a crazy amount of starting classes and prestige classes to pick from, not to mention the new feats, spells, magic items and such.

You see, the reason I'm so engrossed is that my weekly tabletop group is still playing DnD 3.5, as our GURPS GM has too much on his plate at the moment. That's fine, but I still feel the class/level system of D20 is too rigid. With only the core books, it's rather difficult for me to make a character I like, and that feels like it's my own. Not like every other character of the same class.

So ... I endeavored to find more choices, so I could make a character I could truly like. Unlike my only other character, Cedric, my Human Rogue. See, the other guys all have two characters to play. As we have different people taking turns GMing, one of the required characters might be missing for an adventure, as the GM's characters aren't allowed in a adventure he runs. So people have made different characters, so that we have a good mix of the usual types: Fighter, Healer, Magic User and Thief. We've also tried to keep our characters different enough so that no two people have the same style of character. Our two fighters are a Dwarf Barbarian, and a Human Female Fighter. Even though they are the same style of Fighter (two handed weapons), the characters are radically different. Our Healers have been different too: A Druid (who died), a pure Cleric (replaced Druid), a Thief/Cleric (backup healer), and a Bard (backup as well). All four are different as well.

So, back to the matter at hand: creating my second character. I had figured since we were low on magic user types, my next character should be a Wizard or a Sorcerer. But the extra books I had before introduced some other Magic classes that sounded appealing. The Warlock, for example. Unlike all the other Magic types in DnD, the Warlock doesn't prepare spells, nor is he limited to a certain number of spells per day. He is only limited to a small handful of spell-like abilities, but can use them /as much as he wants/. That is what I found interesting. If the party was in a prolonged fight/chase/whatever, and were running low on spells, the Warlock would be unaffected. Plus, I liked the sound of the class itself, and it's slightly evil bend.

The only thing was, I had played a Warlock once already, and found it to be unsatisfying. At least, with the group of characters we had at the time. But after looking at the different classes, and all the new ones, the Warlock still seemed like the most interesting. Plus, it's pretty much pure ranged DPS, so that's always a plus with me. Love the Damage dealing classes.

But, the one hurdle I've found, after /trying/ to peruse the seemingly endless amount of books I have on PDF, is that the Warlock has a lot of limited choices when it comes to preferred races, as well as Feats. As for the Races, there are none in the core books that have a Charisma bonus and are non-level adjusted (CHA is the Warlock's prime attribute). That is, all the ones I could find that have CHA bonuses are also ones that count as one level or more. So I'd have to sacrifice a level to get a better CHA attribute.

There is a way to remove the level adjustment after gaining some XP, and we've allowed it in our game (the one guy's Paladin did this), but it still leaves the end character lower level than I could start him as. All of our characters are at least level 5 or more, so if we make new characters, they start at 5. With the buying off the level adjustment, my character would wind up at about level 4.5, and technically still be the same as it was before (when counted as level 5), but that would leave him with lower everything. I would get more XP, as it's based on level, but my character would be slightly weaker.

So, all this rambling and this is the short of it: I'm torn between what I should do, and how to do it. A Human is the easiest choice for Race, as there's no level adjustment, more skill points/level, and an extra feat. But the one race I found in the Planar Handbook looks really cool, and I already figured out how to play the character. It's a Mephling, a weaker form of a Mephit. Mephits are creatures from the Elemental Planes, and have abilities that reflect their home plane. Fire, Earth, Air and Water are the planes, and types of Mephits. But Mephits have high level adjustments, so the people at Wizards of the Coast came up with Mephlings. They are like "stunted" Mephits. They have some of the abilities, but nearly all of them. And the one I like is the Air Mephling. Mostly cause they have Flying to start with. It's not great flight, as it's only 10 ft/round, and their land move is 30ft. But it does have Perfect Maneuverability, so they can hover, move up/down/backwards at the same speed. And one of my goals with the Warlock was to get the Fell Flight ability at level 5. So the Mephling can free me up to take something else.

Problem though, is that the Mephling isn't all that great otherwise. They have a breath weapon that deals about as much damage as a longsword, and can only be used once/day. -> Meh. They have a bonus to Charisma and Dexterity, so their Armour Class is higher and the Warlock's spells are harder to resist. But they have a penalty to Intelligence, so I get a lot fewer skill points than the Human. They are Small sized, so they get a bonus to Armour Class, a bonus to Hide and a bonus to Hit. But they also use smaller weapons (less damage) and can only carry 2/3rd as much.

....

Gah! I just got sidetracked /again/ looking at the PDFs. Dammit, it's frustrating. At least if this was GURPS I could simply think of a character idea/flavour and just make him. No fuss, no huge worries about what race to pick or whatever. Plus, I know GURPS like the back of my hand, whereas with DnD, I'm mostly lost, aside from the base mechanics.

Okay. I'm going to try and avoid looking at anything else until I finish this entry.

Basically, the amount of choices, combined with the major restrictions, and my lack of knowledge of the books has turned what should be a fairly easy exercise into a nightmare. I've /never/ spent this much time on creating a character in my life. Even when I made characters for systems I had no clue how to play (read: Werewolf: The Apocalypse).

So frustrated.

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Onto other things.

I mentioned the Lord of the Rings Online Open Beta the last time, and I thought I should give some follow up to it. I played quite a bit over the span of a week and a half or so. It wasn't really that much time, totalled up, as it's very easy to level in LotRO. I think I had 8-9 hours on my level 12 (almost 13) Champion. And that's with getting lost for a least a half hour, looking for some stupid barrow mound.

Anyways, I think the newness of the game has worn off, and my jaded outlook has come back. Really, after I look at it, there's nothing new about it at all. That's not really a negative, as WoW wasn't anything revolutionary either. But like Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO), also from Turbine, I found that I liked the visuals and minor features of the game, /a lot more/ than the actual gameplay itself. LotRO is a very nice world to look at, and they did an awesome job on the visuals, considering the low requirements. And it has a lot of cool features, like the LFG panel, Titles, tooltip compare info (vs. equipped weapons/armour/etc.), starting with 5 inventory bags, etc. But the core combat gameplay is not very interesting at all. I find it rather mindless, and not very challenging at all. Only when I'm facing more than one mob, a named mob, or a much higher level mob does it get dicey. And the fact that I have so few abilities, even at level 12, is a letdown. You'd figure that you'd unlock a fair number and they'd get better with levels. But most of the abilities are rather dull, and they have /long recharges/.

If you remember how I feel about waiting to attack in CoX, you can guess how I feel in LotRO.

Other things bother me about the game too. The ability to get around is /really expensive/. To take the pony in the dwarf lands from the main town (starter area) to the second town, is 12 silver! That was over 10% of my money at level 12, and I had held off training some skills cause they cost 10s each and I wanted to know if I needed them. I could have run back to finish the quest, but it takes like 15-20 minutes. In that time I could have a quest done and be 20% towards my next level. It's stupid. All the items on the vendors are ridiculously overpriced as well, and they aren't even anything special. Usually you can get a better item from a quest in no time, so why spend the coin?

There are a few other things that irk me, but mostly I just don't see myself playing it. Right now I could be playing the game, as the Open Beta is still on, but I really have no desire to. I can't really explain it. The game just doesn't interest me.

Oh well. No harm, no foul I guess. It's not like I had to pay to find that out. Just like Vanguard, I got to make up my mind for free. I like that.

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As for gaming in general, it's odd for me to say, but I haven't played much of anything, for over a /week/!

I know, I know, it's odd. Especially for me, but since I switched back to day shifts, I've barely touched my computer for anything other than email, surfing the Web, and looking at PDFs (*grrrr* ). At first it was because I was still fucked up from switching my sleep schedule over, so it was hard to stay awake and concentrate on video games. But then it just somehow changed over to coming home from work, watching some TV shows (like the Star Treks, Stargate, and CSI), having dinner, and just fiddling around before going to sleep. It's weird.

And I don't really miss the games that much either, which is /even weirder/. I'm sure that it's just a phase or something. Like I'm subconsciously giving myself some rest from games, so when I play them again they are enjoyable once more. Or something like that. Or maybe it's cause I don't really have any games that engage me right now. Nothing I have gets me excited to play, not even my FPS games.

Or maybe it's cause that now that I'm on day shifts, work is much more hectic, and much more social than night shifts. So when I come home, I'm tired and just want to relax. Games are too much work, or something.

I dunno, I'm just speculating. I'm sure your guess is as good as mine.

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That's about it for this edition. It's time for me to sleep now anyways.

G'night all.
The Rev.

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