Since we've been talking about WotC and their prices, what have y'all thought about the Open Gaming materials put out by other companies? I'm just kind of interested in what you've found useful to buy, are there any really good adventures you've found, what you think about *their* prices.
My best buys so far:
Sword & Sorcery Studio's Relics & Rituals
Who couldn't use more magic, right? And a nice sized hardback for only $25
Fiery Dragon Production's NeMoren's Vault
A dungeon crawl with a little spice, though quite treasure heavy (up to you whether that's a good or a bad thing *grin*). It's thin for $10, but it's going to be an adventure I'll use again eventually.
I also like the modules Atlas Games has been putting out. Again, some are a little thin for $9+, but they seem to strike a nice balance between action and character interactions.
All of the above have been plopped down into Greyhawk. I haven't used any other settings yet.
But the one that has really whet my appetite: Book One of The Witchfire Trilogy from Privateer Press. Oh I can see the possibilities of using this as a spring board for converting WFRP setting to D20...
A question for all you D&D players...
What the heck are gnomes good for?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you can't play a cool gnome character. I actually had a great deal of fun with a gnome druid recently (yes, you read that correctly), and I've seen other people enjoy them as well.
But really, does the inclusion of the race actually add anything to the game except an extra choice? I've met elf fans, dwarf fans, half-orc fans, half-elf fans, even halfling fans; but I've never met anyone who could claim the gnome as their favorite--or even one of their top three favorite--races.
What niche do they fill? What purpose to they serve--as a race, not as individual characters--that dwarves or halflings cannot fill just as well, if not better?
Perhaps it's no coincidence that, of all the primary D&D races, gnomes are the only race that don't have some basis in Tolkien (the man who may not have invented fantasy as we know it, but he defined most of our modern ideas of it). Look at the way they've been presented since day one. They are far less culturally developed than the other races. There's less--well, meat to them, if you know what I mean. In all three editions, they've read--IMHO, at least--as though they were tacked on for the sake of allowing one more option, without any thought as to why (or if) that option was actually necessary, or even useful.
So how many of you have found a good, solid place for gnomes in your campaigns? Again, I'm not talking about a specific gnome character, since individual characters are as cool or uncool as the player makes them. I'm talking about their role in the world as a race. (And let's have none of that Dragonlance tinker gnome siliness, okay? I'm asking if you've been able to make them fit as a race, not as a joke.) What did you do to make them interesting? And what did you do to give them a niche that was truly their own?
Another D&D question (though I suppose it doesn't have to apply only to D&D).
How many of you use published campaign worlds--Greyhawk, Kalamar, the Realms--and how many use worlds you yourselves have created? Why?
(I don't mean 100% of the time. I normally avoid prepublished campaign worlds like the plague, but I've run games in both Ravenloft and Planescape before, just because the ideas I had required it. I'm talking what you do most of the time.)
I personally, as I've just said, prefer my own creations. Partially it's just because I think they're better. More than that, though, I feel I've got more freedom to do what I want to do. Yeah, I know, WotC isn't going to come to my house and confiscate my games if I change stuff about one of their worlds. Still, I'm not bound by their starting points or by player's expectations.
(And besides, most of the published worlds--such as the Realms--are horribly written, badly cliched, and overall just no fun. IMHO, of course.)
I also feel like a DM has, by definition, a better understanding of a world that he/she created, as opposed to one he/she bought. This makes for better games and more coherent storylines.
So what do the rest of you do?
(Yes, I'm posting a lot to the community today.)
Am I the only person who doesn't give out XP by the book when running D&D?
Let me explain. Even as far back as early 2nd edition, I have steadfastly refused to give XP for killing monsters. I still don't caclulate XP value for CRs, be it monsters, traps, or anything else. Don't give out XP for treasure, either.
Borrowing a concept from the way White Wolf works, I give XP based entirely upon my own assessment of role-playing, problem solving, and the general value of all the threats--physical, mental, or otherwise--for the game as a whole. I generally try to average enough XP to advance the characters a level every three (at low levels) to four (at higher levels) games. (It's been faster recently, but I've been rushed, and getting to know the new XP values.) If the group was really into the role-playing and had a lot of good ideas, I'll give a bit more. If they weren't into it tonight, or they didn't accomplish much, I'll give a bit less.
It works better this way, I think. It allows me to have games based on intrigue, mystery, or investigation that are just as valuable to the characters in terms of XP as if I'd thrown them up againts two beholders and a stone giant. It allows me to reward role-playing and problem solving which is, I feel, what the game is truly about. This way I save the combat for when it actually advances the story, and focus on the plot and characters the rest of the time.
And it's a lot easier than trying to sit down and calculate XP-to-Challenge Rating ratios.
Anybody else do this?
I guess this is as good a place to post as any.
I'm currently running a shadowrun game, alternating weekends. It's a fairly humane group, and I tried to add in some old friends of mine -- didn't quite work out. So I'm thinking about picking up a few more folks for a nice cyberpunk 2020 game, or a darker shadowrun game.
I'm not all that up with the rules with either yet -- other things tend to interest me more than memorizing the rulebooks, though I do tend to like to at least understand the rules well enough to make informed deviations. La la la.
So. Right. Berkeley, California. Any takers? Thoughts? =)