Archive for Life Writing HW

Dungeons and Dragons VS Pathfinder

In my previous posts you may have noticed I often refer to Pathfinder instead of Dungeons and Dragons. This is because they are made by two different companies and are, while based on the same concepts, two different games. My gaming group originally played Dungeons and Dragons but over the years has moved to Pathfinder due to superior quality of their products. Here’s a bit of information about each of them, and my experiences playing.

Don’t worry, dragons exist in both games to fry you up when need be.

Dungeons and Dragons was created by Wizards of the Coast, and is one of the oldest pen and paper games in existence. This isn’t to say that the game is unchanged from its original form, far from it actually. The game has seen many, many revamps throughout the years, and the most recent is entitled 4th Edition. When I first played this game, my group were enjoyed 3.5 Edition, which was a long lasting edition that many still play today. Unfortunately, 3.5 had its bad points, and because 4th came out, there would be no more books released. Our group attempted to transfer to 4th when it came out, but sadly Wizards of the Coast decided to go into a new direction when creating 4th. Gone were the complicated, yet rewarding, rule system and vast ability to create exciting characters. In order to appeal to a larger crowd, Wizards made the game incredibly easy to play, and most of the characters came out as “cookie cutters” (ie: same as everyone else). They also tried to make Dungeons and Dragons more similar to World of Warcraft, a popular game at the time. Many fans were put off by their decision, and transferred to Pathfinder. In my opinion, while 4th wasn’t for my group, it is a good stepping stone for new players.How I picture a Wizard of the Coast

Pathfinder, made by Paizo, has recently beat Dungeons and Dragons in profit and is what my gaming group has chosen to use for our Sunday nights. While much of Pathfinder is based on the original Dungeons and Dragons, the product as a whole is vastly superior. While Wizards will make you pay $50 for a single book, or more, Pathfinder books are generally cheaper and have a great alternative option: pdfs. Paizo has embraced the new technology era, and players can purchase pdfs for a fraction of the cost, only $10. This allows for better portability and to appeal to more players who can’t shell out $50 every book release. I also prefer the artwork in Pathfinder books to Dungeons and Dragons ones, as the art style is more consistent and pleasant.

Troglodytes aren’t the best smelling of things to fight against, in any game.

Pathfinder also doesn’t have the issue of making far too many books with contradicting rules. Dungeons and Dragons made the mistake of producing too much new content too quickly, which led to a lot of mistakes and a generally inferior product. Pathfinder books are much larger for the amount you pay in comparison, and the mistakes are extremely few. Also, unlike Wizards, Paizo immediately posts errata for any mistakes they have made which can be downloaded at any time. Another thing that Pathfinder has going for it is their message boards. Often Dungeon Masters need help in creating an adventure or seeing what to do in a certain situation. The Pathfinder official message boards are trafficked not only by experienced players but the makers themselves to do official rulings on issues that are brought up. Some of the player suggestions even are used in future books if the creators deem them balanced and unique. Pathfinder even has playtesting for new additions to the game, having the average player try it out ahead of time and report back on their experience. The entire process feels more like their consumers have a role in the game’s development.

The sharing of ideas leads to great things.

Both games have their ups and downs, but I prefer Pathfinder far more to Dungeons and Dragons. Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder? And did you know their differences?

 

Creating Your Character: Class Introduction Part 1

When playing a video game, particularly roleplay games or rpgs, often you have to decide on a class for your character. You could be the stoic and strong Warrior, the magical and eccentric Wizard, the supportive and mystical Cleric, or the sneaky and unpredictable Rogue. Boiled down, each of these basic classes can be seen as the strong, the intelligent, the wise, and the skillful. Each of these paths have a different play style and have become the backbone for much of the gaming industry.

I was always partial to the rogue. Treasure time!

In Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, there are a lot more than four classes. In total, there are current nineteen classes you can choose from, though each build off of the core four. In this post I’m going to briefly describe each class, hopefully giving some insight on the amount of selection and freedom there is in roleplaying games. The first portion will highlight the barbarian, bard, cleric, druid and fighter.

The Barbarian (Strength)

“Barbarians excel in combat, possessing the martial prowess and fortitude to take on foes seemingly far superior to themselves. With rage granting them boldness and daring beyond that of most other warriors, barbarians charge furiously into battle and ruin all who would stand in their way.” -Pathfinder

Barbarians lean towards the Strength core, but instead of just swinging their weapons they swing their weapons while being extremely angry. Rage is a key component of barbarians, becoming impassioned during battle and fighting recklessly with their new strength. They have a lot of health and a lot of strength, often taking the bulk of an enemy’s attack.

The Bard (Skillful/Support)

“Bards capably confuse and confound their foes while inspiring their allies to ever-greater daring. While accomplished with both weapons and magic, the true strength of bards lies outside melee, where they can support their companions and undermine their foes without fear of interruptions to their performances.” -Pathfinder

Bards are that fellow in the local tavern strumming away and boosting the morale of those around them. They’re usually not the ones on the front line, and instead use trickery and illusion to defeat foes. Their performances are their strength, as music can be both exhilarating and frightening when played by a master.

The Cleric (Wisdom/Support)

“More than capable of upholding the honor of their deities in battle, clerics often prove stalwart and capable combatants. Their true strength lies in their capability to draw upon the power of their deities, whether to increase their own and their allies’ prowess in battle, to vex their foes with divine magic, or to lend healing to companions in need.” -Pathfinder

Clerics, while normally viewed as healers and a supportive class, can be extremely diverse depending on which deity they worship. They have access to powerful divine spells but also can be very strong in combat. A cleric of Iomedae, goddess of valor and honor, is completely different from a cleric of Erastil, god of hunt and harvest.

The Druid (Wisdom/Support)

” While some druids might keep to the fringe of battle, allowing companions and summoned creatures to fight while they confound foes with the powers of nature, others transform into deadly beasts and savagely wade into combat.” -Pathfinder

While clerics gain their powers from gods, druids gain theirs from nature itself. While commonly seen as the equivalent of a modern day hippy, many druids call upon nature in different ways. Their magic can heal, harm, or entrap a trespasser in their groves. Druids can also form bonds with animals or turn into animals themselves.

The Fighter (Strength)

“Fighters excel at combat—defeating their enemies, controlling the flow of battle, and surviving such sorties themselves. While their specific weapons and methods grant them a wide variety of tactics, few can match fighters for sheer battle prowess.” -Pathfinder

Fighters are the basic equivalent to the original Warrior class. They are the best melee combatants, and can be built many different ways. Two fighters can be completely different from each other, some preferring pure strength while others preferring quick step styles. Close range combat is their domain.

Certain death for anyone with bee/wasp allergies.

These are only five of the class choices available. Look for more Class Introduction posts in the future. In my experience, based off these classes, the cleric is the most fun to play. Pathfinder has a lot of deities to have a character worship, with impressive detail put in about their clergies, epic stories, and favored animals/weapons. A personal favorite of mine is Calistria, goddess of revenge, whose symbol is the wasp as they can sting multiple times. It reminds me of the original mythologies for some of the Greek gods, and their favored animals.

Dungeons and Dragons: Dice

Other than the pencil, paper, rulebook and your imagination, Dungeons and Dragons requires a set of special dice to play the game. Many argue that your dice are among the most important tools when playing as they can mean life or death for a character. It’s not uncommon for a player to “test” dice before they buy them, simply rolling them a number or times to see if they favor high or low rolls. Some players even buy entirely new dice sets for each character, not wanting to “taint” dice with a previous character’s actions and personality. There are many superstitions regarding dnd dice as so much hangs in the balance for each roll. Some players refuse to use certain color dice or mix different dice sets together. If a die is being particularly unlucky that day, a player may forsake it for the rest of the game or hide it away somewhere so the bad luck doesn’t carry to other dice.

And thus the d8 was never seen again…

Dice are rolled whenever you attempt an action, be it swinging a sword at someone or sneaking past a guard. The result of your roll is then added to or subtracted from depending on your character’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are a small, frail person and try to wield a broadsword in combat, you can expect to face some negatives to your final result. This isn’t to say you won’t succeed, but the odds are against you.

Somehow I doubt this will end well.

Not all dice rolls are in relation to combat as skills are also important. Lets say you’re playing a thief character. You’ve spent your entire life on the streets, fighting for survival and stealing what you need (or what you want ;)). When attempting to pick pocket, you add your “Sleight of Hand” skill ranks onto your dice roll to increase your chances for success. Sleight of Hand is a skill that is used for underhanded means, such as stealing or cheating at a card game. It makes sense that your character, a thief, would have points in that skill. When creating a character you are given a certain amount of skill points per level that you allocate based off of your character’s backstory/experiences as well as the role you want to play in the group. Having a person with the ability to pick locks as well as pockets can serve a group well.

Sneaky McGrabhands was always the first suspect when something went missing…

Now then, I’ve spoken briefly on the dice and some of the things they are influenced by. I bet you’re wondering what makes up a “dice set” for Dungeons and Dragons. A normal set comes with a d20, d12, two d10 , d8, d6, and d4. The d stands for die, the singular of dice, and the number after stands for the number of sides it has. For example a d20 is a die with twenty sides. Read below for what each of the dice are used for:

d20

With great power comes…

This is your life blood. The d20 is the most influential die of the game and is used whenever you need to achieve something: it is your action dice. Above I talked about wielding a weapon and using a skill, both of these would be accomplished with a d20.  Whenever you decide to have your character do something, you better have a d20 in hand and be ready to roll. There are two special numbers on a d20 that usually do not follow the adding or subtraction rule which depend on your character’s composition. These are the “natural one” and “natural twenty”. The natural portion says that this is the number rolled without anything influencing it, and can mean grand success or miserable failure. Rolling a natural one means that your character completely fails at doing something to the point of additional misfortune. In combat, a natural one will allow your opponent an extra swing at you as you fumble your weapon or snap your bow string. While using a skill, such as Sleight of Hand, you could accidentally slip and fall on your intended victim, or have a random guard walking by take notice of you.

On the other side of this is the coveted natural twenty. The natural twenty is the meaning of epic and can occur just as often as a natural one. Imagine if you will your character, a holy knight of a deity which is fighting off a vile demon. The knight is at their final breath, the demon ready to devour you when suddenly a light is cast down from the heavens, you feel divine strength surging in your veins and find the will to go in for the final blow. The demon is slain and all will tell stories of your triumphant battle. Pretty sweet deal, right?

The d20 is the fickle mistress of your dice. So much depends on this die that you can almost understand someone rolling dozens of dice before finding the perfect one.

d12

Come at me bro!

This die is normally used for spells or weapons that deal a d12 damage. Not as spectacular as a d20, but when deciding on damage it can play a major role. Unfortunately, in Dungeons and Dragons a d12 isn’t used for much else. In other roleplay games, a d12 is used for things such as determining which body part a weapon hits.

d10/percentile

And you find a rusty sword. Enjoy.

I mentioned previously that you get two d10s in a set. This is because one d10 is marked one through ten, usually called the d10, and the other is marked ten through one hundred in intervals of ten (ie: 10,20,30…), called a percentile. The d10 is another damage determiner, like the d12. Combined with a percentile, the d10 is used as a singular digit marker. Say you roll a percentile and a d10. The percentile lands on 80 and the d10 lands on 5. Your total would then be 85. In this way, these two dice are used for percentages for loot tables or chance tables. Loot tables list treasure that can be found in that chest your character just lock picked. The higher the number, the better the outcome (usually). Chance tables go along with certain spell outcomes. When you get higher level spells, they become more powerful but also more dangerous. You could end up sending someone to another plane of existence (ie: hell) accidentally if your chance roll is low. Like the d20, getting a total of one or one hundred can be used as epic success or epic failure. When determining loot, a one hundred can turn that magic sword into a magic artifact of lost knowledge.

d8

I’ll take a d8 damage, thank you sir.

There are a lot of damage deciders in Dungeons and Dragons, as the d8 falls into the same category as the d12 and d10. This goes along with a weaker weapon/spell than the other two damage dice. Why so many dice for calculating damage? This allows for more flavor in combat and weapon choice, and to show that some things have a capacity for higher damage than others.

d6

Looks like you lost all your money. What a shame.

The most commonly known die type as its used in most other types of games and gambling activities. The d6 is used for damage (getting repetitive huh?), but also to simulate local tavern gambling. The average tavern you explore will probably have some dice games in it, which your character can engage in. The six sided die is the most common tool in these games and often associated with luck.

d4

You take d4 damage… to your foot.

The d4 is known as the caltrop die because it is the most damaging die… to your feet! Stepping on a d4 is a pain that is akin to stepping on a lego brick. This die is yet another damage determiner, but can also be used for determining turn order or compass directions. In our group, the d4 is commonly used for choosing who is attacked by certain monster’s abilities, to make it fair and unbiased.

So there you have it, all the dice you’ll need during your first Dungeons and Dragons session. Which die is most interesting to you?

Dungeons and Dragons: Nayinore Creation Story

I’ve briefly mentioned Dungeons and Dragons in previous entries, so it seems only proper to give an explanation of the game. DnD is a fantasy roleplaying game that is played with dice, pencil and paper. The best definition I can give for it, without going into pages long of information, is a “choose your own adventure” story. Following different rule books, the storyteller or Dungeon Master creates an entire world and story to allow players to work within. The Dungeon Master controls every facet of the world, from the common villager to the king or queen. Players create an avatar of themselves to exist in this world, and work towards a goal either together or as enemies (which often leads to player death). Imagine if you would a video game. You control a character and interact with NPCs (non-player computers). Characters can range greatly, and depend heavily on an individual’s imagination. You could be something as cliche as a noble knight or as original as a local baker equipped only with a rolling pin that manages to fend off an invading force. Its all up to you.

Rolling pins are very effective against skeletons.

Recently I’ve had the desire to become a Dungeon Master for my group. I feel I’m ready for the responsibility and task of creating an entire world from the beginning of time. This requires a lot of work and loving care to craft an interesting and unique world. Below is the story of creation I’ve designed, listing some of the major deities and some of the most important geographical features of the world of Nayinore:

Granted, I won’t be using a paint brush but you get my point.

Within the dark void of space, a single entity gazed longingly out at the thousands of stars and shapes that twinkled in the distance. It was then she saw two objects flying past, one of ice and one of earth. Reaching out with her long arms, the entity grasped the asteroid and comet, her hold loving and sincere.

The long armed goddess is usually shown with two arms, but she has endless.

In time, the two weaved around her, forming the sea and the lands that now dot the world. From the asteroid came a woman of tanned flesh and long brown hair. She was a being of earth, Nayinore, creating the first life with the help of her sister. The comet created a woman of opposite, Eravere, pale as the newly fallen snow and creator of the waters that all life needs. Together, a utopia was made and the long armed entity had the company she so desperately sought.

Eravere and Nayinore.

The new world caught the attention of other entities within the night’s sky. From the distant reaches came two others, a being of fire and one of rock. While the previous were of a feminine nature, the new comers were of male. A fact the two sisters learned all too well, love blossoming between the earth goddess and sun god as well as the water goddess and moon godd. Each of those that came offered something new to the budding planet. Liolei, the sun, brought light and energy to Nayinore’s creations. Tyrinae, the moon, brought order to the waters and helped light the night sky. The utopia still grew, and the goddess with long arms was pleased.

Liolei and Tyrinae.

But all good things must come to an end. Liolei found if he stayed too close, he would burn up the creatures now scurrying on the surface. He had to move away, until he was but a small circle in the sky. His brother, Tyrinae, was able to circle the planet and enjoy the embrace of the inner goddess as the sisters did. It was only Nayinore that wept, for her love was so far away. Jealous of how close her sister and Tyrinae were, Earth began to build a mighty mountain. The jagged sculpture crept upwards, growing with each passing moment in her crazed desire. The mountain moved past the clouds, past the skies and up near the moon. Yet she did not stop there, she kept building and building… much to the long armed entity’s dismay.

The mountain created almost touched the stars.

Nayinore did not know that the being that held her could not reach that far, and she felt herself start to drift off into the darkness she came. The other beings could do nothing but watch in horror as the grip of the inner goddess faltered, the earth goddess floated away into the unending space.

Gravity cannot reach forever…

The tears that fell from her sister’s eyes grew colder and colder, until ice covered the world. All life was slowly fading in her sorrow, and yet Eravere could not stop. The moon god tried to bring order once more, but even he could not control the ice. For many years, the planet was nothing more than a ball of chill, and it seemed that it would remain that way. But the goddess of the center did not give up, her arms stretched and spinned the world, bringing it towards the distant sun. Liolei, having been so caught up in his own mourning, was unaware of the planet’s plight until it was there before him. His rays melted away the ice, slowly and carefully, but the damage was still done. Half the world became a snowy wasteland, Eravere unable to accept her sister’s passing. As a final gift before the world returned to its orbit, the inner goddess was given part of his fires, her hold now warm to keep the planet from its icy fate.

Half fertile, half ice.

What do you think of the creation story? If there is enough response, I’ll be more than happy to post up more information on the fantasy world I’m making.

The Wind Dancers and A Lie

It was my first semester at UB when I decided to be adventurous and find something new to eat. I didn’t have to look far, considering the commons had plenty of exotic foods I haven’t tried. Heck, Subway had a lot of foods I haven’t tried. I suppose that’s what I get for being a supremely selective eater, as in fatty or salty foods only. The place I decided upon was The Dancing Chopsticks, a Japanese restaurant I was naturally drawn to after my first Japanese class. All sorts of wondrous and mysterious runes dotted the menus and chalkboards, and it excited me to know that one day I could read all of it.

Watashiwa Katorindesu. Onamaewa nandesuka?

After choosing the most familiar looking dish, because being adventurous often backfires on me, I sat down and watched the wildlife outside. The restaurant had a great view over the lake on campus where I’d see the occasional hawk fly overhead. The water was far more my interest though.

My first and last time seeing the mysterious dancing lady.

On the water’s surface I watched the wind graze the lake ever so slightly, leaving white lines reminiscent to those created by figure skaters on ice. And at the front, driving portion I imagined there being a small fey, laughing and dancing along the water.

Not drawn to scale.

I’ve always thought the wind was caused by some mystical force. As if it was something unexplained and sacred. Often I’d imagine small fairies giggling as they rustled the tree leaves, causing clinging droplets to fall on my head.

Fairies are jerks.

My boyfriend, in all his infinite wisdom, decided to explain that wind was very much a known thing, and proceeded to tell me the scientific reasoning behind it. At that moment my fantastical view of the wind was destroyed and I viewed everything scientific eyes. After all, if science explains it, it must be true.

Can you figure out the “lie” in my post?

Do you believe everything you read?

Or do you continue to question long after an “answer” is accepted?

A Prince, A Witch and Some Pigeons

A few people have asked me what exactly a “Krakow Pigeon” is or why I’d name my blog after a pigeon in the first place. I used to fall under the category of people that viewed pigeons as little more than “rats with wings”, though for those that know me I love rats and most wildlife. The pigeon epiphany I had began in my sophomore year of college when I enrolled in a Mythology course (because I’m that special kind of person that believes Zeus is a far more interesting deity choice than modern gods).

I never understood the allure Zeus had for animal forms.

Mythology was one of those classes I wished I paid more attention to rather than looking at funny webcomics. It gave me a bit of a realization that even if a course is completely interesting to me, I will still default to webcomics if given the opportunity. Which is an entirely bad idea when the class is discussing a very serious topic involving deaths/genocide. Not the best time to giggle.

Moral: Pay attention in class to avoid these situations.

My professor knew people weren’t paying much mind to her and in order to spur some interest she gave us an assignment: find a myth/story from one of your heritages and share it with the class. Now, I have a bit of a mix within me. I happen to be Polish, German, Italian, Irish and just a dash of English. Out of all of those, I suppose I identify more with my Polish and Italian sides. My family was never big in celebrating heritage, other than little things like the Christmas pickle (which may or may not be Polish, though my mother swears it is). So out of all of these I decided to learn a bit more about Polish folklore. I was not disappointed.

This may not be entirely accurate.

Apparently in Krakow, the cultural center of Poland and a very large city, there is a story passed down about the millions of pigeons there. Seriously, millions. Krakow has a big problem with the pigeon population because the citizens keep feeding them. Why would they support the pigeons? Well, according to the story, there once was a Prince named Henryk Probius that decided to try to unite Poland, becoming its king, and visit the Pope for approval. Unfortunately, nobody really believed in his cause and refused to give him money for his grand journey. Henryk wouldn’t be thwarted though and instead turned to the aid of a witch. The witch agreed to assist him as long as he didn’t use his knights during his travels. The prince agreed and, to make sure he kept his word, the witch turned all his knights into pigeons. The pigeons then flew up to a church’s roof and picked out pebbles which transformed into gold coins when they hit the ground. Thus the prince had enough money to continue his quest and everyone lived happily ever after.

All witches wear skimpy outfits and fishnet stockings.

Not really.

Now I understand why nobody wanted to give him money.

The prince proceeded to spend his money on food and women until he didn’t have anything left. He was a complete and utter failure that couldn’t even bear to show his face back at Krakow. Which was a problem, as the knightly pigeons could not return to their true forms until Henryk returned with the crown. The people of Krakow believe that the pigeons that reside there are these cursed knights and thus treat them with respect.

Think of this image next time you see a pigeon.

What does this have to do with my blog title? The story of the Krakow pigeons is one where the ordinary, the pigeons, is made extraordinary, by being knights under a curse. My blog is going to cover the adventures I have in Dungeons and Dragons, the world I’m designing, and my fantastical views of the world around me. Amazing things can be found every day if you only change your viewpoint on them. Now I picture pigeons wearing suits of armor and engaging in chivalry.

The Raven and the Rabbit

Vivian glanced through the newest addition to her library, her parents kind enough to refill it every so often as to encourage her studies. Books of history, of science, and of sport littered the shelves that were already past the point of full. Only her mother brought her books of actual interest, those of the fey and of dragons. Things of fantasy caught her attention far more than reality, for who could be pleased simply spending their days in a tower?

Sometimes she wondered if her parents had placed her there or herself had. The world outside her room was foreign and strange, and while part wished to embrace it in its fullest the other half clung to the familiar. Of course, that was until the Raven came

.

The Raven knew of many things, sitting on her ledge. He regaled her with epic histories, stories and song. His caw was no more unintelligible than a noble’s mouth, his words fluttering as his wings stretched and soared. But Vivian, while hanging to his every word, felt nothing more than a common Rabbit: afraid to leave the safety of her hole in case these sweet words were only bait. But still she listened and in time she looked forward to sitting beside the Raven, sharing her drawings and her fantasies that went outside the confines of her tower.

In their talks, the Raven would sometimes speak of an old Witch, a woman that longed to keep him in a cage forever. While stunning to behold, the Witch was rotting on the inside and her rot had begun to spread to the Raven himself. Vivian too had a suitor, though he aspired for nothing and thus made Nothing of himself. The Rabbit knew that in time his nothingness would swallow her as well, extinguishing the spark of adventure within her.

It took more courage than she thought she owned to turn the Nothing away. His heart grew dulled at her decline, while she felt more free than she had for months. Finally her head peaked beyond her hole, into the world the Raven had told her. In the sky she saw him flying, the Witch’s hut far in the distance.

Beaches show off my internet tan.

I suppose it really isn’t much of a surprise that I’m a bit of a hermit. I was never someone that lit up parties or even felt comfortable around large groups of people. In a way that might have been for the best, seeing my peers fade away into the party scene or sharing sob stories of that night they had one too many. But at the same time, I wonder what college and high school would have been like if I was just a bit more outgoing. If I was just a bit more active in friendly relationships. Who knows, maybe I’m just a social butterfly that has a twenty one year long cocoon stage. Time can only tell, right?

I’m not a stranger to the outdoors, though my skin tone and general bug contact crisises may lead you to believe otherwise. I can safely boast I’ve been to the beach a couple times as well as camping when heavily prodded. When I do go to the beach, my lack of sun exposure becomes far more pronounced than I would want. From afar I might look something like a beacon of reflective light, hovering over a sand castle in progress.

The internet is a major portion of my life, which is a fact I’ve come to accept after having to live without a laptop for a couple days and freaking out. I’ve spent many of a would-be-productive hour rapidly hitting my StumbleUpon key, leveling up a fifth alt character in World of Warcraft, and checking up on my favorite sites. Does this mean I’m a complete and utter shut in? No.

I have a lot of hobbies, and a solid group of friends that share them. Sure, we may be entirely geeky but that’s not going to stop me. I’m happy with who I am and what I do. During the summer I work through Boces’ special needs children’s program and the rest of the year I work with GameStop. Sundays are devoted to game night, which gives me my greatest source of inspiration.

A person’s life doesn’t always need to involve wild parties or 300+ Facebook friends. I know my life doesn’t and yet I don’t think I’m missing all that much.