2015-03-12

No Jury of Graphic Artists in the World Will Ever Convict Me


ME: Okay, I’ve got that box selected. Now I’ll just grab the resize control and adjust it.

ADOBE INDESIGN: Hey! I noticed there’s another object a quarter-inch away from the one you had selected! And I’m absolutely sure that’s the one you really wanted to select and resize! So let me just select that one for you instead with no warning, and hey wow! Look at the completely different object resize itself all over the place! No, no! Don’t thank me!

If anyone ever introduces themself to me by saying, “Yeah, I’m an Adobe software developer responsible for object selection,” I’m going to jail for a long time.

2015-01-30

D&D 30 Day Challenge — Day 30

Best DM You’ve Ever Had

At the end of a month of thinking about D&D stuff, and with all the nostalgic reflection that inspires, I’m going to bestow this most prestigious honor on my good friend Kevin. (’Sup, man?) Kevin was the very first DM who ever ran me through a D&D session (as has been recounted here previously and was linked to on Day 1), so on some level, he can be held responsible for how much of my life has been gloriously wasted on this stuff the past thirty-odd years. But even more that, Kev was a DM I always looked up to back in the day, because playing in his games showed me how to be a better DM.

I remember Kevin for the epic scope of his campaigns. (You ever wanted to play a D&D campaign set on Larry Niven’s Ringworld? You ever wanted to play a kick-ass heroic adaptation of Lord of the Rings? We did BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!!!!) I remember the almost perfect amount of detail that went into his games — enough to make a scenario and its setting and characters feel real, but never so much that it felt like an alt-history lesson. I remember his ability to extemporize encounters out of thin air, often with no actual game materials in front of him. I remember with great envy Kev’s ability to keep a campaign moving by adroit improvisation, deftly talking his way out of the most insanely random shit that his unappreciative players (including me) could throw at him.

All the things Kev did (and made look easy, to my eyes at least) comprised skills it took me a long time to master as a DM. And though a number of different DMs (including me) have been behind some of the anecdotes relayed here over the past month, Kev’s games are ones that I still look back on most often. Not just with nostalgia, but for inspiration. I suspect that if DMing has any ultimate goals beyond the entertainment value, the world building, and the sense of satisfaction that comes with helping other people have a good time, being able to inspire players thirty years after the fact is probably high up on the list.

2015-01-29

D&D 30 Day Challenge — Day 29

D&D 30 Day Challenge — Day 29

What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?

No specific single number shows up more often than any other to my mind and recollection, but there’s a specific range of numbers I roll way too consistently on a d20: Under 10. As a DM, I can (and often do) go through the first ten minutes of combat — making attacks, defense rolls, and saves for a half-dozen monsters — and never roll higher than 9. Not just “rolling badly”, but seriously never rolling anything in double digits. I’m a statistical wonder that way, as my players will attest.

2015-01-28

D&D 30 Day Challenge — Day 28

A Character You Will Never Play Ever Again

Multiclass spellcaster, at least using the D&D 3.x/Pathfinder rules. (5e does multiclass spellcasting quite a bit differently, and though I haven’t had an excuse to experiment with it yet, I suspect it’ll play better than the older systems.) One of my current PCs is a multiclass cleric/sorcerer, and he’s in a great campaign, and I like the character a lot. But when combat rolls around, playing a multiclass caster becomes exactly the same as playing two characters who are slightly lower level than everyone else in the party, and who can only act on alternate turns.

2015-01-27

D&D 30 Day Challenge — Day 27

A Character You Want to Play in the Future

An archer. I haven’t played a straight-up archer in a long time, but I’m DMing two campaigns right now featuring awesome bowslingers (both of whom are actually using the same magic bow; the campaigns are set about twenty-five years apart), and am playing in a campaign alongside an elven ranger who does about a thousand points of longbow damage per round. As such, I'm getting increasingly antsy to break out a (virtual) bow again someday.

I’ve always loved the whole Robin-Hood/Green-Arrow-Longbow-Hunters archetype of distant, moody characters despairing about injustice and the people lost from their lives while they fight for freedom and the common folk — but always from about three hundred feet away where they never take any damage.