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Archive for June, 2008

I’m making a post, because I only got three or less hours of sleep today.

Yesterday’s storm had winds that were Category 1 hurricane levels. The damage around town is evident – there’s trees all over the roads, all over cars, all over houses. I hear there were some on top of people, too. Some houses don’t have roofs anymore. I drove by a 36 inch thick telephone pole that was splintered in half at the bottom, toppling most of the electrical lines at 78th and Pine Circle. About 1/3 of the city still doesn’t have power this morning, even though the crews worked all night long. Traffic lights are out everywhere starting at 84th Street heading east.

Luckily, my little house out at 180th and Harrison suffered the very bottom edge of the storm, so the winds only got to about 50 mph at the most. They came and hauled the tree out of the lobby last night. It was eerie to drive home last night, since the streets were completely dark on Center up to the Interstate. It was like driving on the old country roads back home in McCook, NE.

Anyway, the same storm wrecked havoc on the credit card servers, so here I am – bright and early – rebooting everything down the line as we verify that electricity is up in that area. Wooo, gotta love this industry.

Anyway, here’s a map from Google Maps. Scroll around OMAHA, NE for fun – I marked where my house is, and where my work is, but Google Maps hasn’t been updated where my house is due to the fact the city still reports as NEW CONSTRUCTION. So they haven’t update the satellite shot. But my company’s building is right there!

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And I mean it. This morning – on nearly every radio show save Todd and Tyler – they were talking about how great the concert at Memorial Park was going to be and that the forecast promised great weather up until Saturday morning. Well, at 4:30 today, a giant severe thunderstorm came blasting through, causing all sorts of damage and cancelled the show at Memorial Park. We’re talking 77 – 93 mph winds and hail. Totally blew out the front windows of the FDR building at Aksarben. There’s a tree in my lobby. Now every radio and TV station is pissed off at the weather people. lolz

Terrorism is cyclic. Afghanistan is having their annual summer insurgency pick-up, while militias are conducting drive-bys of prominent Iraqi officials. Add in the fact that SANDSTORMS are aiding terrorists (oh noes!) and things get even more fun. Can’t wait to see the full fallout of the disbanding of the Iraqi soccer team due to … obvious political reasons.

I told you people the Pope was still a Nazi. “No church for you if you criticize the Pope-ah!” Why don’t you people listen to me?

Oh, I also wanted to warn you about more bullshit in the pipe from credit card companies. They are reducing people’s credit lines without telling the people, which leads to lower credit scores and possible higher fees (or sudden Over The Limit charges). I sorta knew about this a week ago, but I didn’t have any source material to quote. Now I do. Good luck if you are caught in the crossfire there.

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Thought you’d might like to read something that proves I’m not crazy about the whole D&D fiasco. Loading Ready Run did a blog spot on Wizards’ Insider subscription service and the DM Table applications for the new edition (and a few other things).

Enjoy.

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The Supreme Court slapped down a few silly gun control articles today, ensuring that Americans maintain their Constitutional rights. Now, as long as the NRA and a few other groups keep promoting gun safety along with ownership, it will work out well. Still no lift of the automatic weapons ban, or the carrying of guns into Federal as well as private properties laws. Which makes some sense.

Today was the 60th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, run by the outshoot of what would be the Air Force for years to come. It brought about the Air America operations – a CIA/USAF outfit that dropped tons of needed supply during Vietnam. Today, the USAF still drops all sorts of aid to refugees and other suppressed groups in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

I have a lot of people going, “Wah wah the violence in Iraq is not escalating wah wah,” at me. Well, another bomb went off yesterday after I reported a roadside bomb that same day, this time killing a lot of civilians. There is a reason I mention when bombs go off in Iraq – so you can see the day-to-day violence in Iraq. Iraq’s even employing former militants with AK-47s to stand at checkpoints where Iraqi police/soldiers won’t go during the summer, FFS. Unfortunately, I can’t cure the blindness of people who continue to be intentionally ignorant to the reality of the Middle East situation. So I’ll keep getting the fucking retarded comments.

It’s like some big secret was revealed about the connection between DRUGS and MILITANT GROUPS. Uh, hello? Back when we fought the Taliban, it was fairly obvious they got their money through drugs. South American cartels hire militants to distablize entire countries. Africa makes money through drugs harvested by miitant groups.  This has been going on since the 1970’s – which tells me the UN is sorely out-of-touch.

North Korea came around to diplomacy and is starting to dismantle their nuclear weapon program. Bush then stunned me by saying, “Hey, they’re doing what we asked, so let’s take them off the Axis of Evil list.” Horray for diplomacy. Hattip to Lord Omlette for pointing out this wonderful bit of news.

The Senate isn’t entirely retarded. They want to get money to the global AIDS fund, to help try and cure AIDS and other similar diseases.

Finally, getting to work on time sucks now. First the god damn weather is horrible out here, and now the College World Series is causing backups on the Interstate. I sat by two mass transit buses full of angry people who were not going to get to wherever they were going on-time. Our buses already run 30+ minutes behind schedule despite the vast investment of our city’s budget to push mass transit in Omaha. >__<

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OGL vs GSL

As we move into 4th Edition D&D, the terminology for the licensing of the franchise changes.

  • OGL (Open Game License): Basically, a company making a game using the d20 license pays a fee to Hasbro/WotC to use the system. This began with 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons, carried through to many other RPG games produced by WotC (like the earlier Star Wars RPG stuff).
  • GSL (Game System License): Operates somewhat similar to the OGL, only with a few rather disturbing changes, the first being if you want to publish 4th Edition GSL materials, you have to totally drop publishing any 3rd Edition OGL materials. The second being that instead of being a blanket license to cover several settings or materials a company wants to create, the GSL is a case-by-case license. The company pays for each setting and production using a GSL. Furthermore, WotC has to review the game material to see if they will allow the GSL to be used in a game, meaning company secrets are shown to WotC. We all know where that is going.

It’s odd to see Wizards of the Coast pull such a lousy and stupid stunt to gain more money than God from their new system. I can definitely see that Paizo, Green Ronin and Mongoose Publishing are probably going to hold off until Wizards alters their GSL agreements (to which Wizards has said, “No dice. Pay to play or GTFO.”) Green Ronin Publishing is even going against the Wizards grain and showing how to convert 3.5 to 4. Here’s another view of it on another site, and I have probably 3 other sites that all say the same thing, so peruse at will.

I hope that clears it up.

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It appears I was right – Clinton made a deal with Obama to get her debts paid by him in order to get out of the race. Obama’s making an honest attempt at helping Hillary, so Bill has done a total 180. Fucked up political shit, I tell you.

The cyclic surge of summer violence in Iraq is beginning again. Another roadside bomb went off that killed 3 more US soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.

The ceasefire didn’t last long. Hezballah refuses to police the rocket launching militants, and Israeli retaliated by closing the crossings into the Gaza strip.

Good news: Pakistan’s going to do more counter-terrorism. That’s always an added bonus, given that a majority of terrorists live in Pakistan.

Nebraska’s coming down hard on illegal immigrants. I say go farther – if you want to find them all, just look in all the beef packing plants spread around the state. I mean, that’s where all the illegal immigrants were working in Lexington.

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Yeah, I got my previous 4th Edition D&D article linked in someone else’s blag, and they even went into more detail than I did about how fucked up Wizard’s PR campaign was. I now have the game in my hands, so I have to clarify some points from my previous post. Let me start by saying it’s not entirely bad. But here’s some points:

  • It’s not horrible if you are a miniatures group. Combat is entirely written for miniatures and dungeon tiles (sold by WotC).
  • The combat rules are a little broken in places, such as AoE/AoA spells and overlapping AoE stuff. They say they will eratta it, and I believe it, since I know WotC and eratta.
  • The roleplay aspect is dragged into a quagmire of non-combat encounters run like combat encounters but not. Confusing? Yeah, try reading the DMG about non-combat encounters.
  • The DMG* is worthless except two things: the scaling rules and the monster templates. I advise avoiding buying the book and just Torrent the DMG so you can print out the necessary stuff and dump the rest of the crap. All you really need is one PHB**, since all the rules and magic items are listed in there.
  • They are trying to shape the game into a single style that revolves around the other products of the game (minis, tiles, Insider, etc) so things are incomplete. Also, unrealistic release schedule shows here. Incomplete. Why are there less classes and races, including the famous druids, bards and barbarians? Because they don’t know how to add those without being broken or into the frame they’ve set this game.
  • On the incomplete side, the MM*** is pretty much incomplete, even more so than previous manuals. Again because they did this half-assed and last-minute. Quality very poor. Very, very poor. With some glaring errors pointed out on the beta Insider forums that were ignored to get it out the door.
  • They didn’t really simplify it as much as they made huge chapters to explain things in detail (this is their idea of simplicity), while complicating combat even more. Now there’s more to memorize, more to get wrong and more for the DM to do.
  • Unrealistic expectations on the player character aspect. They wrote this for the MMO crowd with MMO ideas. Death? We don’t need no stinking death – it scares the little MMO people! Although their very first (The Keep) fucking module kills low level players easily! WTF?
  • Magic system is fucked. Dislike it immensely. Why are spells now “powers” and rituals “spells” in terms of how they operate. Fuck casting your magic missile as an AT WILL POWER (fixed per Fin and Drath’s comments). Who’s tracking this? The players? Hahahahahahahahaha! Isn’t magic supposed to be balanced by how often you can’t use it? Magic alters reality to some degree. Yeah, I read a lot of angry “Fuck you” blog/forum entries about this, and they keep coming. Some people are like, “With this crappy magic system, I’m scrapping magic altogether from my campaign.”
  • Insider reliance is ridiculous. The game is designed to move the DM to getting a subscription to Insider, and by association, getting the players to get an Insider subscription. “You can afford an MMO, so you can afford a $15 to $25 subscription to Insider!” How arrogant and greedy. LOLZ (Notice how many times I linked/referenced Insider – that’s about 1/4th of the amount of times it is referenced in the books)
  • The OGL vs GSL. They aren’t compatible. Your old stuff can’t be converted to 4th Edition. Even better – all that money you spent on 3.5? Guess what? If the industry switches to GSL, they can no longer make any older OGL stuff. That’s the WotC iron rule. NO BACK-PEDDLING. (Hattip to the article I linked above about this stupid move by WotC).

It’s not a God awful game for some people. Some kids are going to like it. MMO people probably moreso than older gamers. There are merits in the game, but they are too few for me to enjoy. Here’s my response to the blog entry I was linked in:

I did give it a chance, even after it came out and they had made a few changes to mullify the general disheartened concensus of the beta Insider crowd.

I know that D&D started as a miniatures tactical game, but over the years, it evolved to include roleplaying. And that’s why a majority of people played RPGs – to get to the roleplaying aspect. That’s why there are 300+ RPGs out there. D&D promoted itself out of the sole tactical realm into a pretty good system for RP. All in all, 2e to 3.5e, the miniature combat suffered because the emphasis was on the RP portion.

But 4th Ed isn’t just going back to the roots – it’s remodeling both the combat and the RP to stick to rules that mostly complement the OTHER PRODUCTS that WotC sells. Miniatures, dungeon tiles, Insider, to name three (of probably 20 things). Worst part is that they announced it too soon and put an unreasonable expectation on the system, so it’s incomplete. We don’t have certain classes or races to play because they have not figured out how to fit those square pegs into a round hole.

All in all, it is not a horrible game, just badly executed and you might as well just Torrent the DMG, since the DMG has two useful sections – the adventure scaling and the creature templating – and the rest is all crap that doesn’t flow well or give the DM any new tools to run adventures with. In fact, it can be more confusing.

To me, the game isn’t anything without the DM. 4th Edition made things a little more complex for the DM instead of improving the experience that already suffers from cumbersome mechanics and large lists of things to memorize. DMs are in short supply, and now I believe they will come in even shorter supply since Insider is going to be the only liscensed tool allowed for tracking all the combat additions/complexities. Which means you and your group of friends all now have to subscribe for $15 a month (or more).

I can’t support such a blatant marketing tool and a horribly organized game. Sorry, but our two online sessions suffered horribly from even a experienced DM having to flip around more than when we went from 2 to 3.5 and the obnoxious magic system.

Yeah, that’s my POV. I expect some people to agree and some to disagree. But this is why my friends and I are going to Torrent the game materials and not pay any money to Hasbro for this thing.

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* DMG = Dungeon Masters Guide
** PHB = Player’s Handbook
*** MM = Monster’s Manual

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