Monday, August 22, 2022

Marvellous Movies

My friend Phill has, over the past few weeks, watched almost every Marvel film, and has now ranked them. I'm not going to go into the same detail as he has, but I thought it would be worth a few minutes listing mine too.

I have arranged them into four fuzzy tiers of relative enjoyment. I'm only including the MCU stuff and I'm not including the TV shows, for reasons of general sanity.

Not Great
Eternals, Iron Man 2, Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Not Bad at All
Both Ant-Mans, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther (I may have to re-evaluate this one), Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3, Thors 1, 2, and 4.

Not Quite the Best
Marvel Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, all three of the Captains America, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, Iron Man, Shang Chi, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Not Likely to be Bettered
Guardians of the Galaxy vol 1, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (I'm counting it, even if Marvel and Sony won't for whatever reason), Thor: Ragnarok.

Friday, August 19, 2022

I Hear You're (Not) a Racist Now, Father

The first playtest materials for Dungeons & Dragons sixth edition have arrived!

(They are calling it One D&D for some reason, perhaps because they are learning how numbering "works" from the X-Box.)

The first materials concern character backgrounds; for those of you that don't follow D&D, there's been some controversy in the past couple of years over the game's treatment of character ethnicity and species. There are a few main issues:

  • The word "race" is something of a loaded term, and there's a feeling that a better word could be used to describe whether a character is human, elf, orc, or whatever.
  • Saying that, for example, all high elves have a higher Dexterity and Intelligence than other characters is problematic. In fairness, D&D5 doesn't penalise any characters, as previous editions did -- characters only get characteristic increases -- but it's still uncomfortable.
  • From a game design perspective, if all halflings have the same characteristic bonuses, that does tend to channel halfling characters towards certain abilities and skills, and it can make things a bit samey. Oh look! Another high elf wizard!

The D&D6 solution is to remove characteristic increases from the character species, and instead apply them to their background, so now a high elf is only more intelligent than her dwarfish friend if she, for example, trained as a sage before her life of adventure. This does solve the problem. Sort of. Ish.

  • They are still using the word "race". "A character's Race represents ancestry" the playtest document says. So, er, why not just use "ancestry"? For what it's worth, both 13th Age and Pathfinder are using "ancestry" now. For D&D6 to try to have its cake and eat it is baffling.
  • Shifting the characteristic bonuses to backgrounds is less offensive, but "all sages are the same" is still a weird concept.
  • The character channelling problem still exists, it's just been shifted along one column. Now, instead of elves tending to be wizards, it will be sages. Loading feats into the backgrounds is only going to exacerbate the issue.

It's not difficult to fix. Choose your ancestry, then add +2 to one characteristic of your choice, and +1 to another. Job done, problem solved.

You can sign up for the playtest documents here.

Update (01/12/2022): Wizards has decided to drop the word "race" in favour of "species". It's an odd statement, that acknowledges that they've been trying to move away from the term since before the D&D6 playtest, so it's a bit weird that the change is happening now. Oh well. Better late than never?

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Getting Cross(-Edition)

Yesterday, I pondered the feasibility of a D&D party made up of characters from different editions. I also asked about it on The Hellsite Known As Twitter, and there Courtney Campbell of Hack & Slash replied with some actual experience of playing with cross-edition characters. Here's what Courtney said:

I've done this. It's fine. 5e characters and 4e characters require some hit point math, but it works pretty seamlessly. Turns out the player side and the DM side don't need the same rules to play, just an interface.

I've done this both in Numenhalla, and in home games with 2e, 5e, and 4e players. They can follow the PHB rules for their class. I just multiplied all damage 4e/5e characters took by 2, and cut their damage in half, and it worked fine.

I get the impression that Courtney is a top-level GM and perhaps it's not as easy as it seems, but it is possible!

Monday, August 01, 2022

All Together Now

Remember when they were developing D&D5 and they said it would be compatible with prior editions, and you could run characters from different editions in the same party? That didn't happen (SPOILERS) but I do wonder if it's a viable idea and anyone has tried it.

What would a cross-edition party look like? Perhaps something like this, says the person with very little experience of anything before fourth edition:

AD&D1: Half-orc assassin, surely?
AD&D2: Gnome illusionist, obviously.
D&D3: Warforged cleric, probably.
D&D4: Dragonborn fighter, presumably, since fourth was supposed to make fighters as special as everyone else.
D&D5: Roll 1d12 or GM's choice. Or a Warlock of Cthulhu, eldritchly.

I very much want to try this now.