Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poem: Suzuki Beane Method

(Like we all know about dogs)
(With their crazy four legs)
But what about the dogmen
Hotdogging us before they stick it in
(And with that wild ta)le
Dogma spread across the lawn
Their doggerel
Blossoming like dogwoods in spring
(And we pet them and things)
As the dogs of war
Chew the doughboys like biscuits
(But who cares about four legs)
Three branches two houses eight corporations
(And a ta)le
Told by a barker posing as an idiot
Signifying everything
(When all they really do is) shit.

Author's notes: This was meant to be in more of a "slam poetry" style than some of my usual output. It's also decidedly a protest piece, though like most of my work it's meant to convey an emotional impression more than anything in particular. It should be read aloud at a fairly fast, aggressive clip.

People with absurdly huge reference pools will recognize the lines in parentheses as belonging to a somewhat obscure book written by one Sandra Scoppettone called Suzuki Beane, about a six-year-old beatnik. The title is an homage to that and to the Gorillaz song "Left Hand Suzuki Method."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Post #100

First of all, a little bad news. Cards on the table.

I lost my Better Know a District Hex notes.

This doesn't mean I won't revisit it. No, I definitely will when I'm ready to. But if I can't get them back together again, it might be a little while, because as anyone who's ever lost something they were working on knows, it's a real bummer. I do have something a little less heavy I'd like to start in on in the meantime. We'll see how that goes.

Second, since this is my hundredth post, I meant to have something more... momentous in hand for you all. But well, 5e's out now, at least in its basic form. How much more momentous do you get than a shiny new version of D&D?

If you haven't checked it out yet, it's worth a look. So far what we see reminds me in a lot of good ways of Castles and Crusades. IMO the biggest misstep at this time is with the Wizard's spell list, which is even more Evocation-focused than the Starter Set preview indicated. That's not a bad thing, but it does feel a bit limited to me. Which is maybe all to the good as far as WOTC is concerned, because it makes me want the PHB so I can have a little more breadth. But the rules themselves? Definitely seem solid to me. I can't wait for the core books to come out. Especially the Monster Manual, because the Monster Manual is always the one D&D book, in every edition, that I consistently find myself reading for pleasure.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Starter Set vs. B/X - Spell Lists.

Okay, so this isn't Better Know A District Hex. Don't worry, that's still coming, but this was something I could dash off quickly that I thought might be interesting to discuss.

The 5e starter set's spell list just came up in an excerpt on Wizards' website.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the spell lists they offered up to the Basic/Expert one. I think the changes are pretty interesting. Spells struck through are only in the old list, spells in italics are only in the new one, spells that are bolded changed levels



Cleric Cantrips
Wizard Cantrips
1
Guidance
Dancing Lights
2
Light
Light
3
Resistance
Mage Hand
4
Sacred Flame
Prestidigitation
5
Thaumaturgy
Ray of Frost
6
--
Shocking Grasp

The cantrips, of course, are almost completely new. I'm somewhat ambivalent about Light being a cantrip, it seems to make torches or lanterns something of an unnecessary investment for a party with either class in it. I'm not a huge aficionado of the resource-and-logistics game beloved of many old-schoolers, but I hope the DMG will include guidelines for those that are, and presumably that'll involve moving Light back up.



B/X cleric spells, level 1
5e Starter Set Cleric Spells, level 1
1
Cure Light Wounds
Bless
2
Detect Evil
Command
3
Detect Magic
Cure Wounds
4
Light
Detect Magic
5
Protection From Evil
Guiding Bolt
6
Purify Food And Water
Healing Word
7
Remove Fear
Inflict Wounds
8
Resist Cold
Sanctuary
9
--
Shield of Faith
Two AD&D standbys, Command Word and Sanctuary, come into the Next list. Losing Purify Food and Water seems in line with the less resource-management focused game (though I'm quite certain it'll be there in the PHB-- most of the removed ones, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see there, before one worries too much.) I'm most surprised to see Protection From Evil out of the Starter Set list, unless Shield of Faith is its new name. I might have to check the playtest packet on that. Spells like Guiding Bolt and Healing Word show a little 4e influence-- my memory from the playtest is that Healing Word is a minor (or whatever they ended up calling it) action healing spell with a lower value than Cure Wounds, and Guiding Bolt is an attack spell that gives a bonus to other allies attacking. The "leader" focus of the 4e cleric is cool, so it's neat to see that they want to run with that, IMO.


B/X Magic User spells, level 1
5e Starter Set Wizard Spells, level 1
1
Charm Person
Burning Hands
2
Detect Magic
Charm Person
3
Floating Disc
Comprehend Languages
4s
Hold Portal
Detect Magic
5
Light
Identify
6
Magic Missile
Mage Armor
7
Magic Mouth
Magic Missile
8
Protection From Evil
Shield
9
Read Languages
Sleep
10
Shield
Thunderwave
11
Sleep
--
12
Ventriloquism
--
The 5e Wizard's list is shorter and somewhat more blasty. I suspect the loss of Read Magic is a matter of need-- unknown scrolls can be sussed out with a simple identify, but as to copying spells from other spellbooks... well, we'll see? Once again I wouldn't be surprised to see the rest of the B/X list turn up in the PHB. Thunderwave is another loan from 4e, it pushes the target away and does a little damage. Its inclusion here feels to me like a deliberate 4e-ism more than anything, I probably would have put something else on the list. Don't know what. Otherwise it feels like a very logical, iconic list to me, the old classics-- Charm Person, Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Sleep, are all still there.


B/X Cleric spells, level 2
5e Starter Set Cleric Spells, level 2
1
Bless
Aid
2
Find Traps
Augury
3
Hold Person
Hold Person
4
Resist Fire
Lesser Restoration
5
Silence, 15’ Radius
Prayer of Healing
6
Snake Charm
Silence
7
Speak With Animals
Spiritual Weapon
8
Spiritual Hammer
Warding Bond
Augury's an old AD&D favorite, of course, and I think so is Aid, but my memory could be off. I'm not sure what Prayer of Healing or Warding Bond are... maybe Warding Bond is our Protection from Evil? I'm led to understand Lesser Restoration handles things like blindness, paralysis, disease, etc, in which case it's lower-level than usually expected. I don't miss Snake Charm overmuch, but I am sorry to see Find Traps and Speak With Animals not there. I'll be interested to see if they make it into the PHB.


B/X Magic User spells, level 2
5e Starter Set Wizard Spells, level 2
1
Continual Light
Blur
2
Detect Evil
Darkness
3
Detect Invisible
Flaming Sphere
4
ESP
Hold Person
5
Invisibility
Invisibility
6
Knock
Misty Step
7
Levitate
Spider Climb
8
Locate Object
Suggestion
9
Mirror Image
Web
10
Phantasmal Force
--
11
Web
--
12
Wizard Lock
--
Another shorter list, though not quite so much more attack-focused as the level 1 one. There are utility spells, but many of them are different. I always liked Spider Climb, though. Between the lack of Knock here and Find Traps on the Cleric list, maybe they made an effort to cut down on the ability of casters to eat the Thief/Rogue's lunch. I feel like ESP and Phantasmal Force (or as they've been known in more recent editions, Detect Thoughts and Minor Image) should have been there, though. The lack of Continual Light is perhaps  logical since you can cast Light as a cantrip.


B/X Cleric spells, level 3
5e Starter Set Cleric Spells, level 3
1
Continual Light
Beacon of Hope
2
Cure Blindness
Dispel Magic
3
Cure Disease
Mass Healing Word
4
Growth of Animals
Protection from Energy
5
Locate Object
Revivify
6
Remove Curse
Spirit Guardians
7
Speak with Dead
--
8
Striking
--
This must be the most radically different spell list of the lot. Nothing is shared between the two lists. But that makes sense considering how many of the old ones moved around in level. Protection From Energy is clearly a close cousin to Resist Cold and Resist Fire. In 3.x Revivify was like Raise Dead with an extreme time limit... I think it might have been only effective within a single round of death. Dispel magic moves down in place of Remove Curse, but Remove Curse might be part of Lesser Restoration as well (here I've counted it as being, because I think it was). I don't recall for sure from the playtest. Mass Healing Word is fairly obvious in its function, but I don't know about what the other new ones might do.


B/X Magic User spells, level 3
5e Starter Set Wizard Spells, level 3
1
Clairvoyance
Dispel Magic
2
Darkvision
Fireball
3
Dispel Magic
Fly
4
Fireball
Lightning Bolt
5
Fly
Protection from Energy
6
Haste
--
7
Hold Person
--
8
Invisibility, 10’ Radius
--
9
Lightning Bolt
--
10
Protection from Evil, 10’ Radius
--
11
Protection from Normal Missiles
--
12
Water Breathing
--
This one is the most reduced of all, almost too much so. That said, while the Cleric was most unlike, what remains here is possibly the closest list, with only one new spell. Of the ones that didn't make the cut, I'm most surprised about Haste.

Overall, I think the list strikes a good balance of old and new, but as it increases in level there are slightly too few spells in the new lists, and does a good job of suggesting some of the differences in assumed playstyle between 5e Basic and B/X. These are differences I'm mostly comfortable with but I predict some old-schoolers might not be. But I remain optimistic that the DMG will include guidelines to tweak it to focus a little more on resources and stuff, which should hopefully placate them as well.