September 26th, 2008


(no subject)

robothursday! which is to say, shut down all higher functions, slide & glide. got home, got a drink, unspooled. played some videogames-- i can make statues come to life-- wrote some emails-- keep the subject line the same, guys, this isn't sparta, this is gmail-- read a little-- really? all antikythera mechanism & baghdad batteries? synchronicity, again-- settled next to my wife-- no, you're a luck dog!-- that sort of thing. stayed up late for no good reason, & dreamt hard about clones. maybe it was like terminator. it sort of was; i think even the girl from t3. wait, it started with morgan freedman. the guys who stole the gold needed to kill him, chained him to concrete & tossed him off the boat. but morgan had a time machine & went back in time to stop them from killing him. paradox results, & the future comes through. the machines have started a two-tiered model. they make replicants; robot humans, perfect copies, walking lockstep. then they flood the street with t1000 nanogoo. this is the world that they make & i swing from rooftop to rooftop while they look for me. i'm like the opposite of john conner.
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adventurer's vault by wizards of the coast.

first thing i have to say about this: why is this book out now? i mean, how is this the first new dungeons & dragons supplement? in a few years, when people are tired of every warlock having a pact blade, of every defender class having tombforged armor, then you come out with this book, & let everyone lose their minds over the coffers being thrown open. now? now we're flush with magic items. heroic, paragon, & epic, we've still got plenty of items in there for plenty of games. i guess maybe this is a lot easier to publish than new classes or races? less playtesting required, or rather, easier playtesting ("hey frank, your guy has displacer armor this session-- here is how it works..."). you can just through all the carrots & parsnips & other odds & ends into the soup. still-- i think publishing this right off is a bad sales move.

i like some of the art, other stuff i'm less crazy about. the eladrin on the back? i've had an intention of making someone wear a crown of ioun stones for a long time. i'm glad to see other's share my vision (i wondered if that was what was up with the high level mialee from 3.0...). the art is grab bag otherwise-- some is evocative & good, some evocative &...less good. some is bland & some is gross. over-all it is about what you'd expect, & i will say i'm very glad they didn't let the text overwhelm the book; there is enough art to break it up & make it readable.

i am excited about alchemy. i haven't bought this book, but if i do, it will be because of alchemy. alchemy is a replacement feat for rituals. that is, if you were a wizard & a cleric who wanted alchemy, you could swap them. they are balanced off each other. a ritual-user could still take the "alchemist" feat, & so could anybody else. basically, alchemy takes the widgets & potions of yesteryear & throws them together into a more reasonable framework. i don't know how well it plays, but it seems like an interesting addition to the game.

mounts & vehicles are also really great to have. i am sort of bummed whenever i see mounts without powers for their riders, but i understand it; how many pcs will have the mounted combat feat? & even then, it makes sense that a plain old horse wouldn't have a mount power, while a warhorse would, making their virtue obvious with mechanics. alright, okay. as for vehicles; again, i'd have to playtest it to see how the rules actually work, but they seem simple enough to be really useful at the table. my favorite thing about this book is in the vehicles, actually: an apparatus of kwalish is only 5,000 gold. besides that the book has airships & ornithopters, the latter of which mike has worked into his gremlin race interestingly. my only complaint here is that maybe this information should have been in the dungeonmaster's guide instead of a couple of essays, but i'm not sweating that; spread the sale-able material around, i get it.

in terms of mundane items? either i don't get how masterwork armor works, or there are two pages used up just coming up with different names for things. oh, wait, looking at it again, i get it. these armors are adding to your save, not increasing your ac as much. i take it back. alright, that is kind of interesting, isn't it. the layout should have put that "special" column next to the armor bonus column, but now i'm just picking. still, it stumped me until a second ago. as for the new weapons, all seems fine except "brutal." i'm not saying brutal is broken-- i don't know about that. it does seem to me that it might take up too much time at the table; part of the 4e mantra was eliminating all those little tiny timekillers, i thought?

a few last notes. really? a pact sword is only usable by eladrin warlocks? you are killing me here, guys. can't you make items a little more specific? like, eladrin starpact warlocks with the eladrin soldier feat named charlemagne? on a higher note, this book is compatible with products-yet-to-come: there are items for your ranger's animal companion. wait, so rangers will get animal companions?! the real crime is that this book lacks any discussion on "tweaking" magic items. lets say i want to apply the pact dagger abilities to a bastard sword, or the tombforged ability to a suit of hide. the dungeonmaster has a great idea about why (it is the "unholy revenger!" or "the hide is based around a scale found at the deathsite of an avatar of bahamut!"). should there be level adjustments? what about more subtle or profound changes? can we get some kind of guidelines? a dungeonmaster can always make a call, but it would be nice to have some information on how to make the call, or what the repercussions might be.

look behind you!

i guess being honest includes mundane along with the transmundane. so while jenny watches the debates in the other room, i'll muse a little bit about this whole president thing. before i do, i want to make something clear. the executive branch of the government has been blown tremendously out of proportion. having a guy to deal with kings, to act as imperator, & why not make him part of the checks & balances? doesn't matter to hoi poli. they want a monarch & will desperately try to crown one. rome, shakespeare, they don't care, throw all the cautionary tales you want, they want a crown on a guy. so when i talk about the president, i want to bracket it with my basic opinion on the idea. lets try the republic, guys. i think it can work.

besides that, i always represent third parties. the democrat/republican split is a heinous crime of tribalism that the american public has allowed themselves to be party to. the idea that opinions from guns to abortion to taxes all fall under two poles is itself absurd, of course. beside that, the two party system exists as a variety of places for lobby groups (see also: money) to avail itself on the government. corporations & their ilk have more of a say in politics than voters, which is directly the result of the two party system. there is plenty of this, & i could go on at length, but i'm just trying to caveat here. that being said, i've decided that i don't care for "fake" parties. i am not looking for a "for for anybody!" system here. the socialists are fronting a nicaraguan resident alien! that isn't real play. so: the only candidates with enough ballot access to win electoral votes to win this thing (by the way: i said republic, not democracy-- go electoral college!) obama, mccain, nader, barr, baldwin, & mckinney.

okay, i'm not going to vote mccain. shock, right? i liked him in the 2004 election! he had some chops. somewhere along the line, though, someone meddled in his programming. here is the thing: that guy has loyalty. he wouldn't denounce america & so he rotted in a cell. good for him. i have enough pride to respect that. the problem is, he somehow thinks the republican party is due his loyalty. if he'd gone rogue back in the day? he might have turned out out. now he's just an old man. with, & oh heavens i wish i could make this up, palin as his running mate. she makes the anti-abortion jesus freaks happy? those are exactly the people you should be trying to make unhappy.

bob barr, i also can't vote for. i really thought gravel would sew up the libertarian party nomination & i could vote for him. barr has recanted a lot of his former positions. those positions though? are things like abortion, & marijuana, & gay marriage, & criminalizing wicca (what? witches? i mean, tends to be a sad scene, but...), & voted for the patriot act, & wants to repeal income tax, & well frankly, he sounds like the wrong kind of libertarian. again, he says he has mended his ways. sorry. too little, too late.

i can't even really talk about baldwin. the constitution party is like a double version of the "social conservative" party. they don't want taxes! & also, hate gay people, women, not-white people, & want to let states secede. listen, i can't really get behind that. i've called myself a post-apocalyptic libertarian? if lets say several billion people died, like. this sort of stuff isn't really valid anymore. this is the jeff foxworthy of the election.

(uh oh! obama just made a play for my vote, talking about the space race!)

i thought i might vote green again. cynthia mckinney is alright, plus a little bit crazy. i like crazy ideas in politics; where else should you have them? the thing is, we just miss on the topics. like-- statehood for dc? the whole point of dc is not being a state! what about statehood for puerto rico & canada & iraq. lets make all of those places states. runoff voting? okay, i'm with you there. heck, i might vote for you just for that. reparations? you are crazy. i mean-- i get the argument? i think successful agricultural slavery is probably the difference between north & south america. i would have voted for reparations a hundred years ago; now it just ain't reasonable. maybe you should sue some people instead of the government. death penalty abolition? yawn. how about prison reform first? i guess the thing is i only like some of the "ten core values" of the greens. eh. i might yet vote for mckinney. her endorsements-- like mumia-- make it tough.

i've voted for nader before. i might again. he's making it tough; now he isn't even making the "get funding, legitimize third party" argument? or at least not well. i think he's probably just an old dissident at this point. it seems like i should buy him a drink rather than give him my vote.

obama! i often talk about my disconnect with american popular politics. i say: "i live in new york, where obama was crowned king & palin is the wicked witch of the north." which is true. blogs & what not don't help. obama is cute, that is a plus. he is named barak obama & to be honest? that is probably the biggest reason i have to vote for him. dude, if we had a famous american political leader named barak obama, how great would that be? he's still a part of the shell game. which is a bummer. he is a middle of the road guy, & the middle of the road sucks. still dude, a black guy named barak hussien obama. how solid gold is that?

so i'm stuck. not to mention, my actual political opinions aren't going to be represented here. nobody is going to be advocating any opinions i can get behind. heck, orwell's dystopia seems really appealing, with how on top of things the government is! no, this is a vote for more of the same. maybe this economic collapse will break a seal. or ah, i don't know. i still think america is great fun-- the real heir of the age of reason. plus, we went to the moon. i want this thing with china to blow up into a full space race. maybe that is the most important issue for tomorrow. very exciting, outer space.
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