Administrative

Changes

You might have noticed a few changes around here in the last day or so. I’ve rolled out a new look and I think that I’m mostly finished tinkering with it, though I’m sure there’ll be some little changes here and there as time goes on. There’s a new About the Author page up, actually giving some details about who I am as well as – and this is the main attraction – a couple pictures of my dog.

I’ve scrubbed the old Blogroll, since most of the content I was linking to is either no longer being updated (thus I’m not really reading it), or is just gone entirely. In its place I’ve put up a more generic “Stuff I Follow” list of things I check out. Blogs, podcasts, webcomics – whatever I’m following, like the title says.

I also dropped the list of Dark Sun-specific links because this page has kind of outgrown that. A little. Well, maybe not – I’m still planning to gush about Dark Sun as time permits. But, honestly, if you’re here for Dark Sun stuff? You probably already know about athas.org – but if you don’t? Go to athas.org.

Anyone else remember this thing?
Anyone else remember this thing?

I’ll be launching two new series of articles, with a third one planned (that I’m not quite ready to talk about just yet). Well, launching one new series, and re-launching one old series to be more accurate. On the new front, I’m getting ready to start my first 5th Edition campaign, so I think I’ll be writing about that. I’m not at all sure how its going to work, but there’s enough interesting stuff going on there that I’m sure I won’t have much trouble finding something to write about. As far as the old series? I’m going to be doing a new World Workshop, as I create a new setting for that campaign to take place in. A warning for mapping enthusiasts – I probably won’t be doing another in-depth Photoshop tutorial this time around. Just not enough time. You’ll have to hit up the Cartographer’s Guild for your fix.

Oh! And Shameless Plugs are probably also gonna get some love, on days I feel like blogging but don’t really feel like thinking.

So that’s it for changes, at least as far I can think of. I’m sure there’ll be more coming down the pipe one of these days.

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Shameless Plugs

Shameless Plugs – Podcasts, Masterplan, DDI, and more!

As I continue working on the next installment of the World Workshop, and try to decide what aspect of DS4e to discuss next (I’m thinking the in-game timeline), I realized that last week I never plugged anything shamelessly.

So this week, you get a double-dose of shameless pluggery – double-doze plus interest!

First up are the podcasts. I’ve recently been sinking my teeth into a number of gaming-related podcasts, and have found them to be just excellent. The ones I’ve been listening to lately are;

  • The NewbieDM.com Minicast – if you remember the old Sage Advice column from Dragon Magazine, you’re already familiar with the format. Every episode one listener calls in with a question, and the NewbieDM and his guest for the week do their best to answer it. Each episode is only around 5 minutes long, so it makes for a quick listen.
  • The Dungeon Master Guys – three DMs, including NewbieDM, “The Game” (founder of what’s shaping up to be this edition’s EN World, Critical Hits), and the ChattyDM (a contributor to CH). I’ve only listened to the first one so far, but it’s pretty cool – each guy takes about ten minutes to discuss a topic of interest. Most interesting, thus far, is The Game’s discussion on how to run a Groundhog Day-style time loop adventure, but with demons and giant armies of gnolls. Good stuff.
  • Open Design – this one, unfortunately, isn’t on iTunes. Also unfortunately, it seems to no longer be updating. Despite that, I’m very much enjoying it and looking forward to listening to all nine episodes – run by Wolfgang Baur of Kobold Quarterly (and known for his work as editor of Dragon Magazine, as well as work on Planescape, Al-Quadim, and plenty of other WotC properties), this podcast features a lot of pros including Skip “The Sage” Williams and Monte “My Mancrush” Cook. As you can guess, I’m a big fan of Cook’s especially – I continue to name my biggest rpg-regret as having never gotten the opportunity to run Arcana Unearthed (which I do own, and adore).

Next comes the blogs.

  • NewbieDM.com is awesome – while I might not technically be a newbie Dungeon Master, the advice there is fantastic, and as I’m prepping to run my first 4th Edition game the tips are very helpful. Specifically I’d recommend his tutorials section, there’s a lot of handy tips for alternatives to (awesome-looking but expensive) miniatures or making battlemaps.
  • Kobold Quarterly looks neat, though I haven’t had a chance to really dig my teeth in. I haven’t yet decided to subscribe to the magazine, but I’ll probably decide whether or not it’s worth the money based on my read-through of the blog. If the magazine features more material by Monte Cook and Skip Williams, then I think I’ll definitely be leaning in that direction.
  • Sly Flourish, run by Mike Shea, is another one I’ve recently followed. Shea recently put out Sly Flourish’s Dungeon Master Tips, which I bought before reading the blog based on the recommendation of The Game (of Critical Hits). The book is packed full of tips that I already knew, but tend to forget while playing or in the rush to prepare, and is a worthwhile reference guide for veterans and has some really good stuff that’ll help newbies get over the initial hurdles of running their own. Based on the book’s quality, I’ve got high hopes for the blog.

I’ve also been checking out some software:

  • Dungeons & Dragons Insider – imagine having access to a digital database of every chunk of rules material. A searchable database of every official monster – and which streamlined the process of creating your own, new creatures. Imagine being able to create PCs quickly, through an automated process that automatically ensured you didn’t take feats you don’t meet the requirements for, that updated every time a new race or class was introduced in a book, accessory, or even Dragon Magazine. Imagine this same program came with a subscription to both Dragon and Dungeon Magazine. Imagine it only cost $10 a month. It’s not perfect (I really wish you could apply monster templates with one click, instead of doing it manually), but for the price I’m not going to complain. There are plenty of other people airing their grievances online – some rightly, some wrongly – and I don’t feel the need to add to the noise. I love DDI. Period.
  • Masterplan – haven’t had a chance to really dig into this yet, but I’ve heard about it from a bunch of different blogs and podcasts. Basically, it’s an adventure-planning application, designed to streamline the design process. Apparently its very simple and a great program. I’ve installed it, and hope to check it out later this week, but playing with new software is sort on the bottom of my priority list right now. Underneath packing, moving, finding a job, blogging, and prepping my first adventure.
  • Adobe Photoshop – I realize that I’m lucky. As a student of web design, I get to buy this software on the cheap. That said, I’ve made heavy use of Photoshop in prepping for my upcoming game. I’ve made regional maps, battlemats, monster tokens, and handouts all with Photoshop and I can’t imagine anything else doing half so well by me. If the price-tag turns you off, there’s always GIMP (the open-source equivalent). I’ve checked it out, but definitely prefer Photoshop. If I weren’t a student, mind you, I’m not sure I’d prefer it by a margin of a thousand bucks of so.

Alright, I think that’s pretty much everything I’ve been digging into lately. Hope it helps some people find something useful for themselves.