Recent versions of D&D have sought to promote the idea that parties of characters should be presented with a formulaic series of encounters with challenge ratings that are balanced according to their level, plus or minus a little. Here I would like to discuss the value of asymmetric encounters, in which the party are faced with a challenge that is trivially easy for them, or else so difficult they have little or no hope of success.

 
 

Violence and the media are so often seen together they have almost come to be taken as being (and it can be argued have often become) the same thing. And why not? The great majority of the stories we love are violent, sometimes in a cinematic, swashbuckling fashion, and sometimes in a dramatic, traumatic bloodbath. In this article I will be looking at violence in fiction, in art, with a particular focus on violence in roleplaying, but still an overall approach. A small caveat before I begin, however. I have no interest in this article in debating whether the amount of violence is a good, bad, or neutral thing. I am here to write about how violence is handled in fiction, and how it can best be handled. Aesthetics, not morals, is my focus here.

Some four and a half years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Gamers, the progenitor of -- and a sort of prequel/sidequel to -- The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Despite what one might think, the two films are quite different in style, and I think they need to stand alone for the purposes of a review. Thus, while I will refer to the original in a few places, you won't see me saying anything like "Dorkness Rising is a better movie" or "The original was maybe just a tad funnier." I think both statements are true, but I also think they're beside the point.

Almost any GM can use a hand now and then. Some could use expert ideas as a springboard for the next adventure or campaign, while others (like myself) may be so busy and/or lazy and could use ready-made adventure or maybe a campaign. This March saw the birth of a new project intended to help DMs run a D&D 3rd Ed. campaign in the form of Dungeon-a-Day, by one Monte Cook. More on this multi-media, progressive, subscription based endeavor by an industry veteran in the interview below.

After several conflicting reports over the past few days, it now appears that Dave Arneson, co-creator of the original Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game, died Tuesday night at age 61.

From the front page of RPGNow.com: "Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles. We are in discussions with Wizards about their decision to change their approach to digital sales of their titles and will post more information as we have it. If you would like to let Wizards know your opinion on offering D&D titles for download, we suggest the D&D Message Boards found here (linked to gleemax)."

“Begin with the end in mind,” is a well-used adage when managing a project or writing a novel. The end of Battlestar Galactica, for all the hype, all the anticipation, was as vacant and un-inspired as so many other shows on television. It began so well; established a sense of mystery and completeness; and when the curtain drew back we saw it for what it was – another example of mediocrity. We accept that long-running T.V. shows are written in committee and the story unfolds with a limited degree of continuity. With a well documented termination point, I had hoped that BSG (Battlestar Galactica) was in a class of its own. Sadly, I was wrong.

For me, playing a roleplaying game should be something akin to reading a great novel or watching a really good film, except that you’re in there amidst the action and able to influence the way the story unfolds. Now, tell me, in how many great books or films does the story start with someone assembling a team of four people, all of a similar level of experience, each of whom has to fulfill a specific role of leader, defender, striker or controller?

Well, it's finally out. This is the review you've been waiting for, the one you expected as well as the one you secretly hoped you'd never read. They've finally released D&D 5th Edition! Of course, a lot's changed about the publishing industry and the way we read books since 4e came out, so it's probably no surprise to see 5e now. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if we started getting new editions every few years, since it's all just a download away, on your computer, Kindle, console or iPhone.

Ed. You may also wish to read this article for further thoughts about 4th Edition.

When we design something with the goal of perfect symmetry in mind, we invariably sacrifice one form of aesthetics in favour of another. A sphere is the same regardless of which direction you view it from, and is the most perfectly symmetrical three-dimensional shape you can achieve. Is a sphere elegant? Or merely uninteresting?

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