What the Boss Likes – G4’s new filmed D&D game, Invitation to Party

I’ve played various table-top role-playing games for years.  Now its become a thing to make videos of those games and show them on various sites like youtube, etc.  

I’ve watched a bit of a few and found them generally unwatchable since my gaming style is not being murder hoboes (a term to describe characters who do little other than kill things and other characters and take their stuff).  I did take the time to watch an entire episode of one on the newly reincarnated G4 network here in the US.  It is an officially supported game by Dungeons & Dragons aka Wizards of the Coast aka Hasbro (yep the big toy manufacturer), called “Invitation to Party”.  You can see the first episode here.

Spoilers commence.

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Rather than having a party made up of classic character types – fighter, thief, cleric and mage – we get a warlock, sorcerer, bard and rogue (which is generally like, but not always, a thief).  And rather than having humans, half-elves, elves, we get a dhampir (half elf, half vampire), a reborn (someone who is dead but still walking around), a human, and a rabbit person, something called a harengon. With that, all I can think of is the six-foot tall green meat-eating rabbit, Jaxxon, from the early Star Wars comics.

ah, back in the day….

All of the characters seem to be some variant of evil in alignment too, which seems to be required for the scenario which is that criminals who are going to be executed are recruited by a leader of a big city to find evidence for a plot to replace other leaders with duplicates (quite an important plot for third level characters).  Said leader has no problem with them killing their way out of the city’s prison, which makes her alignment seem very questionable. 

She also has not one way to control these characters and have them actually complete the mission.  They have nothing to gain from the mission other than some minor requests for money, or property. 

Now, that being said, the actors are pretty good.  I call them actors since the patter between characters is suspiciously smooth for a supposedly live game.  Sometimes the dialogue is outright hilarious. 

There is also the strange thing that low roles are nigh non-existent in the dice rolling. I’ve never seen so many 20s (the best you can get in order to succeed at a action) rolled in such a short space of time.

It wasn’t an entirely wasted evening, but I have to wonder about the choice of story and characters if Hasbro wants this to be an introduction to D&D and role-playing.  Evil characters, in my experience, are limited and tedious.  When I play, I want to be the hero.  I just can’t see these characters growing to be heroes.   

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – where I show just how nerdy I am when it comes to magic and religion

And now for something completely different.

I tinker at writing sword and sorcery fiction. The milieu allows for some interesting thoughts about how gods and magic and mortals interact. This is a snippet about how gods, religion and magic work out. The setting is a pair of classic D&D type characters (mage and thief) in an urban fantasy world.

“What gods are in this world?” Myridian accepted a cup of coffee with a nod. “I understand that Katherine and Nightchild are shaman which would be akin to what we have in our world, being able to heal with magic, but do you have priests? Temples?”

Slim sat back, the street samurai exchanging a glance with Nightchild. “Hmmm, well, there are some people who still believe in gods, if you mean really powerful magical beings that control the universe or some crap like that. I’ve seen them on street corners screaming that the world is going to end and their god is the only one that can save everyone. I don’t know much about the idea.”

“A single god? An odd idea. We have many, each with a certain sphere of influence.”

“The monotheistic idea lost a lot of steam when magic came back.” Nightchild sipped at her coffee. “A lot of your average wageslaves will think that since I’m a shaman, I worship a god or gods or something like that, thanks to media making up all sorts of shit on how magic works. But really, I work with Cat, and Cat works with me and we usually have the same goals in mind. What Cat is exactly?” She shrugged her shoulders. “The stories have them being always here, my theory is that they are basically Platonian ideals that have manifested agency and can affect reality in ways mortals can’t on their own.”

Slim chuckled. “And there are some that worship the dragons, but we know they can be killed, so they aren’t what I’d call a god; Azatlan does this, the crazy bastards. Cults spring up all of the time, usually in some rathole where they end up killing themselves for their beliefs. How the heck do you know all of this stuff, Nyen?”

Nightchild pulled out a tablet. “Just curious, you know, like a cat. As for priests and temples, those aren’t looked upon kindly much here in Seattle or most civilized areas. A couple decades ago, when magic started to return, the ones with priests and temples and their one true gods ended up making a fair amount of earth into deadlands, when they started throwing nukes around. They were all sure that their god was coming back, but they found that their religions weren’t getting the magic that others were. That made these idiots jealous and *that* gave them the cause to be attacking each other. Good for the rest of us that sane governments flattened the countries that started the mess before the whole world went up.”

“Nukes?” Ahri looked up from wiggling a feather for a kitten’s amusement.

“Imagine a light so strong that it burns so hot that it incinerates people, so fast that it burns their shadows on walls, the few walls than can stand a blast that can pulverize near anything, and leaves in the center an area of glass so poisonous that you get near it you die because your flesh ends up dripping off your bones.” Slim shuddered. “That war scared everyone so much that pretty much no one even things of using such things anymore.”

“And this is the world we’ve been sent to. What if the demon gets something like that?” Ahri shook her head.

Myridian returned his companion’s gaze. “Then we must not fail.”

So that’s my take on why monotheistic religion fails in a world where magic comes back. This is based on the role-playing game Shadowrun (magic, automatic weapons, megacorps. (I do the pink mohawk 90s version) and a lot of other urban fantasy novels and RPGs that have magic. A lot of RPGs do their best to ignore real world religions, since idiot conservative Christians will take a fit, and they already think that Dungeons & Dragons is satanic. One notable exception is “In Nomine” where angels and demons are fighting on earth, and that can be quite a bit of fun to play.

In this fantasy world, there are no monotheistic god showing that they exist, just like in our world where none can show they exist. I do wish we did have magic. Wouldn’t rush hour be different? 😊

What the Boss Likes – Update 1, GenCon 2014

My husband and I don’t get much of a chance to go to the bigger science fiction/fantasy/comic/gaming cons here in the US.  We’ve been to DragonCon a couple of times and the same for GenCon, which is likely the largest gaming convention in the world.  Gaming, in this instance, means role-playing games, those ones that religious idiots claimed (and still claim) would lead to knowing “real” spells and worshipping Satan, card games, board games, and some computer/video games.

I don’t know any real spells and I’ve been playing for 30 years now.  Sigh.  Rush hour would be a whole lot different if I did know these “real” spells…..

We took a few days extra to explore Indianapolis.  The zoo here is very nice (alas no snow leopards) and I also got to see the “catacombs” under their old market building.

At the con, there are also people who do “cosplay” which means dress up as their favorite characters from books, anime, movies, games, etc.  The main day for that will be tomorrow. But here are a couple of photos of cosplayers now.

Back with more photos in a day or three.  Part 2 can be found here.