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Bill Haworth
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Bill Haworth

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Watched Kubo and the Two Strings this morning, one of the benefits of having a grade schooler in the house is you can get away with watching kids cartoon movies. After the movie, the wife and I were talking about it, and the consensus between was that, yes, it was a good movie, but no, not good enough that we would see it again in the theater like some of our friends were encouraging us to do. For me, the movie was only okay because it was a D&D adventure. If you haven't seen it yet, you may leave after this one thought - it is made up of the parts of a great D&D adventure, which is why it was merely okay for me, as I have been there and done that. Everyone who has seen it, we can discuss it, filled with SPOILERS below.










Okay, lookie-loos gone, let's talk business - there are so many parts that, if I were running a game, I would steal for my campaign. I would do away with just one protagonist and he adventures with his parents in different guises against his grandfather the Moon King and his two aunts, I would just make it the PCs going after these fantastic items to kill the Big Bad (whatever you want to make the Big Bad, really). Swords and armour are fine, but you could make 'em anything really - a wand, a spellbook, and a shield, just as a quick thought off the top of my head. I would probably do a spear, as I like spears (more so than swords, spears were ubiquitous no matter where you look in medieval history) and they just don't get enough attention.

I would make them climb a giant skeleton to get the whatever out of a forest of other, fake whatevers while it was trying to kill them (and what an intro to the giant skeleton! they pluck the first fake whatever out of the floating skeletal hand and it rises into the darkness, the other scattered bones spring up as well, and the skeletal giant looms out of said darkness... awe inspiring).

I would make them dive into the [insert name of large body of water here] and fight the beholder (I wouldn't do Eyes of the Deep, only death or disintegrate? boring, regular beholders underwater, the PCs won't expect it).

I would send one of the characters a message in a dream by the Big Bad (not obviously so, of course) that following it sends the PCs into a trap. I would have two powerful undead creatures hunt them at night (and make them split up so the PCs have a chance of beating them). I would have the Big Bad and his minions/henchthings destroy a town that is near and dear to the PCs heart (or at least someone in the party).

And I would make them fight the Big Bad with the items they have tracked down, only to find out that the whatever, the other thing, and the last thingamajig are not what they need to beat the Big Bad. No, it will not be love, but it could be a very convincing argument (and a high diplomacy check roll), or a rousing speech to the local villagers (or even the Big Bad's henchthings, you never know) that causes them to pile on the Big Bad, or whatever. Play the mind games with the PCs, really make 'em work for the whatevers, and then gleefully yank that carpet right out from under them.

What would you other DMs out there do? What did you think of the movie itself?
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This is why I'm not a user of Twitter - Mr Tayler's opinions on convention panel moderation ring true (I've never personally attended a con panel, but I've listened to more than a few via podcast), but if you have to post the entirety of an idea over 20 tweets (and use another program to gather all said tweets into one package) to get your idea across, what's the point? I get that you can tweet via SMS texting, but most modern blogging sites (WordPress and Blogger) can also receive posts via SMS text. And you can get the ideas out now, clean them up later into one post, and not have to use another program to get them.

Twitter is like the old Army recruiting slogan, "Army of One" - the Army was trying to cram so many ideas (we are one Army, working together we can accomplish anything even the impossible, united we stand, divided we fall) into just one snappy catchphrase, and what they got was a confusing motto that everyone (especially Army folk) made fun of.
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Overheard at my office this morning:

"Did you just seriously ask Haworth if he was being sarcastic? Of course he was!"
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You have trained them well.
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Back in the '90's, Capcom put out two D&D games in the arcades, Tower of Doom in '93 and Shadow over Mystara in '96. They were basically side-scrolling beat-'em-ups, but they included RPG elements, making the player(s) choose which path they want to take to reach the end.

For those of you into PC gaming, Steam has both on sale right now for just under $5. And with the positive reviews I'm seeing on Steam, it looks like they ported it well, didn't just slap it together to get a project out the door and make a little scratch.
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Monty Rasmussen's profile photoJohn Carimando's profile photoVydia Bheinn's profile photo
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take the orb or smash it? take the orb or smash it? you've dumped $10 in quarters to get to this point... what do you do?
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I think the wife and I keep staring at this train wreck just because it's so close to us. Neither of us have ever attended MU, and though we have relatives who have, we still don't feel a deep and abiding love of the school. We don't hate it, or the student body (except when they drive their cars into ours, which happens too often), but this idea that MU and Columbia are a deep, simmering well of racial hatred? Come on, you spoiled bastards, this isn't Kent State or Jackson State circa 1970, the police and national guard haven't shown up with fire hoses, dogs, and rubber bullets, and one poop swastika is probably more of a result of a drunken idiot and less of the KKK being in town.

Black lives matter - but so do white, yellow, brown, red, etc.
As the summer of 2016 dribbles away, it's time once again to celebrate the stupidest and most outrageous events that occurred on campus during the last academic year. A slew of campuses around the
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Okay, damn, that is impressive. And what is really awe-inspiring, look in the background of all the pics at the never-ending display cases and cabinets, sure to be full to the brim with gaming paraphernalia. Bravo, Mr Ryan Devoto, bravo sir. Two questions - do you live anywhere near me, and do you have a spot in your Friday night game?
Suddenly a nice table and some beers just doesn’t seem good enough.
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I noticed the full cabinets in the background before all the details of the table. Very nice! 
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This month's Starward Bound Story Bundle looks to be very interesting. I've always been a sucker for space opera and military sci-fi, and this looks like a hell of a deal on a bunch of the same. I can personally vouch for Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos, I've been reading that series for a while now and every one has been highly entertaining.
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Bill Haworth

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Really? Is it so awful that someone who also makes firearms brings their non-firearm products to a convention? Better not drive your car to said convention, all of the modern auto manufacturers (including Toyota, which made your smug little Prius, by the way) used to make tanks and planes in WW2, which were used to, OH MY GOD!, kill people.

What really gets me the most about this article, more than cowardly, self-aggrandizing tone (I hate guns more than you do!), is the fact that the author is not berating the geeks at the con who were buying said fake firearms from this manufacturer. How could geekdom, which needs said replicas to complete their cosplay costumes for all those videogames (where it's okay to like, nay, worship firearms... but not in real life, no), be wrong?

Would the firearms manufacturer go to the trouble of renting a booth (costly for just a weekend, $1-to-2,000 for one booth), bring all their merchandise and set it up if they didn't expect to see a profit on the expense, not to mention time and effort? Of course they wouldn't, so someone was buying their merch (or at least were expecting lots of someones to be buying their stuff).
Yeah, you heard right. There was a freaking gun retailer at a comic convention. But, it didn’t last long.
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Bill Haworth

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It has been a long time since I rolled dice for D&D. How long? 3rd edition was the last edition I played - not 3.5, that was just coming out when I left off and we never made the switch. With more than a bit of stress at my job and a hankering to give 5e a try, my lovely wife encouraged me to go scratch the itch, and so I participated in an Adventure League pickup game at my FLGS (Valhalla's Gate in Columbia, MO, great FLGS, glad I've got them).

Had a very good time. It was a little hard to hear considering there was two other adult groups playing next to ours, plus a group of teenagers (wow, far more kids playing in the middle of the week than on weekends when I was that age, and lots more ladies, too, good to see). The game itself was a little slapdash, as the normal AL DM was out for the evening, but the fill-in DM was a regular and did a good job grouping us up (in addition to me, there was another new one to the game, and this was also his first D&D game, ever), and getting us to the end of the adventure. It was a bit heavier on "roll" playing and lighter on "role" playing than I was hoping for, but with the noise level, it was understandable, and we still enjoyed ourselves.

I am such a grognard, I kind of surprised the group with my not quite so rusty skills - we had one fairly basic puzzle we ran across, and the DM flashed it at us briefly on his computer monitor and then later drew it on our battlemap. I already had it figured it out, just from the short 10 seconds or so he showed it to us the first time. I admit, it was very simple, but everyone else at the table was struggling even after looking at it for longer than 10 seconds. I wish I had let them muddle through it, so that one of my fellows could have felt good about solving the puzzle, but instead I blurted out the answer, excited that I knew what the answer was. I'll have to watch that in the future - I don't need to solve every issue that faces the party.

Like I said, we had a brand new player, and he really enjoyed rampaging about with his half-orc paladin, gleefully smashing shadows and specters. I expect he'll be back next week or be looking for a group of his own to join (or both). We had a couple of veterans, including the DM, who were very enthusiastic to point out the highs and lows of 5e and the differences between it and 3e. I appreciate the enthusiasm, though I'd already figured a lot of it, betwixt reading many articles and reviews online and between perusing the material I've managed to gather.

Am I going back to play again? Yes. Well, no. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into a gaming group, but I'm not sure that the random, pick up games of the Adventure League are how I want to scratch that itch. It was fun, and I greatly appreciate the crew I ran with, but I want to game with a group (and a quieter atmosphere and more "role" playing and less "roll" playing would be awesome), get that long term storytelling and character development, not to mention personal friendships.
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Joe Cwik's profile photoJon Hiesfelter's profile photoLise Bjerregaard Nielsen's profile photo
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Hey, welcome back and thanks for the writeup!

One shots with new characters and the kinds of plots we often see used for them are definitely challenging to 'role' rather than 'roll' play. One shots and campaigns are two very different beasts to me.

I can have fun with both, but definitely prefer campaigns. Even shorter ones. Two to three session games can be super nice, I've found.

I've recently started playing 5E (been playing other stuff on and off since early nineties) and finally decided it was time for me to take on the DM mantle.

People around me all adviced me to start out with a prewritten oneshot, but I ended up going with a three session homebrew, and I am so happy I did that - especially since we are a gathering of people who did not all know eachother previously.
Barring extreme luck, having a group with immediate swing on a personal level is just not a thing, and to me, the good oneshots only really happen when you have that.

That being said, I think that the more experienced we get, the "greedier" we get when it comes to what constitutes a good game session, no? :)
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Okay, damn, that is impressive. And what is really awe-inspiring, look in the background of all the pics at the never-ending display cases and cabinets, sure to be full to the brim with gaming paraphernalia. Bravo, Mr Ryan Devoto, bravo sir. Two questions - do you live anywhere near me, and do you have a spot in your Friday night game?
Suddenly a nice table and some beers just doesn’t seem good enough.
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Torchlight and Torchlight II on sale for $7 total for both games? If I didn't already own them, I'd be snapping them up. Yeah, they're Diablo-style action RPG clones that are far more invested in the "action" part of the equation, but are they enjoyable? Yes, very much so.
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Cameron Mount's profile photoBill Haworth's profile photo
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Never heard of it, but that does look interesting. Man, they love their traps, don't they?
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Picked up Mad Max last week for $17 (it's back up to $39.99 this week), and I am loving it. It's gorgeous (doesn't hurt that I dropped serious scratch on my gaming rig this year... this is why you grow up and get an adult job, you can finally afford all the toys your parents wouldn't buy you), it's fun, and being a gearhead hasn't hurt my appreciation of the game considering all the different car bodies you slap on the Magnum Opus throughout the game. Yeah, yeah, I know, this is old news, but I find I'm always behind the curve on new games and there are others out there that, like me, don't like to pay (or simply can't afford) $60 for a new game, and they may find this game amusing too.

Reminds me a lot of Rage from id Software (only $4.99 on Steam), another game that involved racing insane open buggies across the post-apocalyptic wastelands, shooting abominations and bad people with guns (though far more guns and far less fisticuffs than Mad Max), and the game was likewise entertaining but not as popular as I thought it should be. Rage was, admittedly, way too short for what it should have been, and should have been less linear and more open ended. But still, especially for less than $5 of today's dollars (and that's not a sale price), great game to tide you over.

Back to the matter at hand - let's face it, Mad Max is that rare movie tie-in game that doesn't outright {insert your own horrible instance here} like most of them do. Plus it truly is an expansive sandbox (pun fully intended, you better like the various shades of brown the desert offers to you) of a game, I'm not even 10% into it with about 5 hours on the clock. If you're looking for a game with Batman Arkham-like combat, good driving, and beautiful, post-apocalyptic visuals (and haven't already played it like everyone else has), put this on your wishlist for the next sale that dips its price under $20. And no costly DLC or GOTY edition! One purchase gets you all the content in one go. It is rare you see that these days.
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The more I think about it, the weirder the camp raid missions seem - the bad guys have an oil well or transfer tanks or ... I forget the third type, if there is one. Anyway, the war boys are sitting on equipment and resources we (the nominal good guys) want from them. My question is this: if we want it, why are we being made to destroy it (other than the cool explosions, obviously) when we'll just have to rebuild whatever it is we're blowing up?

It is odd to me, but I get they needed a mechanic that allowed the game to track your progress in capturing an outpost. How about marking it with your decal? Spitting on it (remember, water is not lightly wasted in the blighted, post-apocalyptic wasteland)?
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Wild Bill, usagi_tetsu, Tetsu_no_Usagi, Wilhelm von Arnsburg
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William "Bill" Haworth
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Human resources clerk in the Missouri Army Guard, avid paintball player, former medieval recreator with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and generally friendly guy.
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