Page 802 - Pay to Not Play

10th Sep 2016, 6:00 AM in Pinkie Pride
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Pay to Not Play
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 10th Sep 2016, 6:00 AM edit delete
True story.

This is actually what happened when the FiD characters leveled up to 8. It dates the comic a bit to have it happen in-universe (such a weird thing to say for this), but it solves a few problems at once to be able to kind of totally refresh their character sheets. It also means this arc isn't going to be a traditional session, but something much stranger. If you thought this comic went off the episode rails before...

For now, let's just call this whole arc Pinkie Pride.

In Patreon news, tomorrow I'm going to select the players for this month's patron-only one-shot campaign (or SpudShot, for short). If you're pledged even at the $1 level and you can make the time, you can submit a character application. (Link's in the patron-only post that went up Sunday.) And if you can't make it this month, there'll always be next month! I plan on making the SpudShot a recurring event on top of the next big main campaign I do. I'm going to be up to my neck in RPGs!

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



ANW 10th Sep 2016, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
Ah, the original pen and paper.
What feats and stats do you think they'll go for?
Closest gets a prize.
The Old One 10th Sep 2016, 10:37 AM edit delete reply
And this is why I don't use the proprietary software for my character sheets. A nice bit of word processing or better yet, excel (which i do not know how to use but respect the use of) will keep your toons accessible even when your edition falls out of favor with the RPG gods.

This is not to say the reference software is useless. I adore the Masterwork Tools app for Pathfinder. It's the single most useful thing on my phone.
Anvildude 10th Sep 2016, 10:44 AM edit delete reply
Wait. You mean people actually use licensed digital character sheets? What?

Maybe I'm making myself sound old, but I've never even considered using anything other than a piece of paper for my character sheet and inventory. Even those I know who used computerized character sheets just downloaded a writable Excel or Doc sheet from one of the myriad available freely online.

Why would you ever put your character, your whole story, in the hands of a third party like that?
Newbiespud 10th Sep 2016, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
Because it might be your first tabletop game, it makes things incredibly fast and easy, and it's a game you can play in whatever format works best for you?

I think?
Winged Cat 10th Sep 2016, 12:53 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
What they said. Character builders? Saving game-critical content (such as character sheets) to a cloud other than one guaranteed to be available at least as long as the medium the campaign is run in? I can understand it intellectually, I guess, but this sees a bit alien to me.

When I'm in a campaign run in person/face to face, we've had old fashioned physical character sheets. These days almost all my campaigns are online, but the character sheets are posted to the campaign wiki (or integrated with the campaign chat itself, such as with Roll20), which is never something provided by the game system's vendor. This is far more convenient and accessible.

I can see it for first time gamers who don't have anyone to show them better ways to do it, though. (Including how to do character generation quickly without builders.)
Newbiespud 10th Sep 2016, 1:38 PM edit delete reply
I should probably say that I'm not trying to argue that the official 4e Character Builder model wasn't a total pile. It is a total pile, and this situation is a total pile.

But if I'm being honest, the insistence from the old guard that the authentic pen and paper method of generating characters is so sacrosanct that digital generation should be frowned upon... That's what's alien to me. Even 4e is baffling to a brand new first time player. My first group in high school didn't have anyone to "teach" them. We all used the online tools. If that's what it takes to get into the game and have fun, why should the barrier-to-entry we just skipped over be so sacred?

I guess in those situations at game shops or conventions where being able to write up a character on the spot is a necessary skill. But my experiences with tabletop don't come from those places.
Winged Cat 10th Sep 2016, 3:09 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
I didn't mean to imply that it's sacrosanct or sacred, just that the concept of introducing via online tools seems like it would add a few steps when you're trying to simplify.

(I kid you not, editing a wiki page was so foreign of a skill, with such a steep perceived learning curve, to one of my would-be players that the requirement to post sheets to a wiki was part of her given reason for opting out of my current campaign. This despite my and other players' attempts to teach her. Editing said wiki's pages was about as difficult as posting a formatted - as in, with bold et al - comment here.)
Tacticslion 10th Sep 2016, 6:35 PM I am not a Grognard edit delete reply
Pardon my ramble in advance. (If you hang out at Paizo forums, you know I'm prone to those. I'll... try not to, if I comment more in the future.)

So, my experience teeeeeechnically starts at 2E, but it was house-ruled all sideways to everywhere but normal 2E rules, so my first "pure" D&D experience was 3rd - as was my rather late introduction to published campaign settings. I put this out there just so I can point out that I'm not really a Grognard, but, at over a decade and a half of gaming I'm not really "new" to the thing either (though there will be those to whom I always will be, as I never had the privilege of playing the earliest iterations).

Point is: nothing really wrong with NewbieSpud or group's experiences, and they make total sense. I didn't get introduced that way, but the ways in which I was introduced would likely make a sane person less so (fortunately, I wasn't) - it's just how people have learned to be.

So... story time? Sort of?
I was never a fan of 4E. When 3rd came around, I loved the changes from our house ruled 2E; when 3.5 came shortly thereafter it was abrupt but smoothed out so many rough edges that it was marvelous. 4E was... a harsh shift, for me. It felt very much so like a sudden shift and an abandonment of the players (like myself) who'd sunk so much time and energy and money into the thing. Plus, they dropped Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and were undergoing a whole host of shifts, unwelcome changes to published settings, not to mention the new customer service policy that seemed to be, "Shut up." combined with a very active campaign that seemed to be telling their then-current customers, "We don't care about you." ... it was painful.

That said, I rolled and dealt. Pathfinder eventually came around, and, beyond that I actually purchased 4E books and played the game when possible, even having some great games. It was not my favorite system, the marketing direction of bashing the older fans was hurtful, and the new GSL was (in my opinion) a bad decision, but 4E wasn't a terrible system - and certainly not as bad as many people make it out to be. Plus - and here's the good part - many people loved it. They genuinely enjoyed the powers, skills, and so on. And for them, I was happy. They finally got a game they could really like. As I noted, despite the painful shifts in setting, we had sequel games that actually made use of some of the new material and were fun, even great. And, with PF (though, sadly, many important people on the staff there are badly mistaken about or just displeased with some elements that I'd prefer), for the most part, everyone got what they wanted.

So, for all that, I'm really sorry for those who were (and are) fans of 4E who've been dropped so thoroughly. It's long been my hope that WotC would do something - pretty much anything - to pick up the slack and re-institute some of those tools, perhaps even for free (especially as the GSL seems quite restrictive). I don't expect that to happen, though.

Regardless: I'm looking forward to seeing where this comic goes! I've not watched the show (well, as of last week, I've seen the first five episodes, I suppose), but I've been reading for quite a while. It's a great comic, and I love the characters and characterizations; possibly a heresy to say around here, but so far, I like them all better than the source material (even as they all cleave to it relatively faithfully, in terms of translation to RP-characters). This darker Equestria is... interesting, to say the least, and I'm thankful for what you've done NS. Thanks! Looking forward to more! Good gaming, and good luck going forward!

(P.S. if this kind of comment is too much for this board, just let me know, though probably PMs* are more likely to get noticed. I don't know the exact social cues 'round here**. Sorry!)

* Is this a thing? I'm... I'm more used to Paizo. I've signed up on ComicFury, though. So... there's that.
** Though I've read the comic, and peruse the comments on occasion, I am not diligent about doing so, and I'm far worse about checking my actual email. >.> That might make me a terrible person. XD
DoubleXXCross 11th Sep 2016, 12:04 PM edit delete reply
It's not really about the tools being digital though, is it? It's about cloud storage.

There should be a solution in the middle where the tools are offered but the sheets can actually be exported, right?
Digo Dragon 11th Sep 2016, 2:47 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I use Google Docs a lot for my pbp gaming specifically for the cloud. I can access my work from any PC with internet and it saves often enough that if the network goes down I didn't lose much.
aylatrigger 11th Sep 2016, 8:26 PM edit delete reply
I make my own character spreadsheets... but then again I, "have an unhealthy relationship with Excel." (though technically I use Open Office these days) Still, I like to make my own. And for a few games I have made auto-character makers! (biggest ones are Maids RPG and Gamma World/4e)
Digo Dragon 12th Sep 2016, 8:21 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I can understand what you mean. I took a relatively plain character sheet like this and turned it into what I currently use for Doc. Yeah, just a 'slight' bit of editing.
Dragonflight 11th Sep 2016, 12:28 PM edit delete reply
4e. 5e. <shudder>

Don't get me started on those versions. :)

I've been playing (and running) games since it was the original release. That said, I'm not against digital. Far from it. I've got the Hero Labs software, and have used it extensively for both the 3.5 version and Pathfinder. I just wish I had better control over it, because I'm not very good at using the combat tracker. I keep going back to pen and paper tools to track combat. But for everything else, it's awesome.

It's too bad that the game they're playing assumes that MLP and its derivatives never existed, because Ponyfinder would be ideal for their needs. :) But that said, Pathfinder has been my favorite for a while now (even though I have a few issues with it.)

As for why I don't like the 4e and 5e versions? Simple. They're basically MMO's on paper. Even Pathfinder suffers from this to a significant degree. Especially the way its magic has been deliberately nerfed so that almost every useful spell lasts maybe a minute before stopping. In other words, exactly the same kind of performance you'd expect in an online MMO. (One of my house rules was to imp back in the 3.5 spells into Pathfinder, to make magic not suck.)
Newbiespud 11th Sep 2016, 4:47 PM edit delete reply
The funny thing about this whole conversation is that it gives me feelings of nostalgia. Five years ago, when I launched this comic, ranting and railing against 4e was incredibly common. For the first 100 pages, it felt like just about every comment section had to include at least one "4e is the devil."

That dropped off after the first year, and whenever it comes up these days I just have to shake my head and chuckle a bit.
Winged Cat 11th Sep 2016, 10:21 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
5E is the current thing, and has been since 2014 (2012 for playtesters). So these days, the only people still using 4E are those who want to - and they're unlikely to complain. Unless this arc has the players updating to 5E, the players would thus be, "5E's come out but nothing's stopping us from using the 4E we started with for as long as this campaign lasts".

I've had campaigns that outlasted the official expiration of the current-as-of-start version of whichever rules system they started with. Every time so far, the group I was with opted to continue with the same version; there was no need to update mid-campaign just because of new version.

(The one I am currently running may be my first exception: it's Pokemon Tabletop United, and there's a new version expected within the next 12 months, mostly to reflect Pokemon Sun & Moon content. It is likely that we will switch to the new version once it is out. But that's a technicality: no major system revisions are expected, the way D&D or most other systems have major revisions between editions. Depending on how minor the changes are, there might even be literally zero effort involved in "updating" the PCs.)
Tacticslion 12th Sep 2016, 5:20 AM The Edition Wars are Rarely Only about the Edition Wars edit delete reply
To be fair, I think the edition wars (though few people really understood it) were (and are) only a little bit about the actual edition wars.

While I think a lot of difficulties come from the differences between systems (of course) and the abandonment of your favorite system(s), I think a lot of the virulence of the last two editions came from a combination of very poor customer service and bad PR interaction from WotC as much as from any frustrations with changes. I think it's hard, if not impossible to disentangle those combined frustrations.

That's why I'm displeased with WotC for more or less doing so again in the 4E to 5E transition. The good news is that at least WotC has partially come to some understanding: they actively tried to make 5E somehow like all other editions. I don't think they succeeded, but they did a decent job of making an interesting system.

Over-all, my hope is just that the hobby expands and people can gain access to tools that are as good or better than the ones they've been using previously for a solidly affordable price-point. Good luck!
FanOfMostEverything 10th Sep 2016, 6:14 AM edit delete reply
Well now. This could go in quite a few interesting directions. I wonder if Pinkie's player will queue up a Weird Al playlist.
Digo Dragon 10th Sep 2016, 7:42 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Ah, cuing up that "Get in the mood" playlist. I loved doing those! I had a nice soundtrack for my Shadowrun campaigns.
andreas002 10th Sep 2016, 6:38 AM edit delete reply
So wait. In the comic it says they leveled up to level 9, but the description is talking about level 8. And on the cast page, they are all still level 7. So unless they gained 2 levels at once, I get the feeling that's a typo.

Besides that, this looks interesting. Let's see just how far from the rails this arc will go.
Newbiespud 10th Sep 2016, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
To clarify:
I never made Level 8 character sheets because of the above situation, but they did level up to 8 going into Fall Weather Friends. It just didn't make enough of a difference to matter a whole lot.

Now they are leveling up to 9, and I'm saying the above situation has now officially happened to them, requiring a rebuild.
albedoequals1 10th Sep 2016, 8:55 AM edit delete reply
Wait, they actually have character sheets somewhere? Is there a link to that?
spudwalt 10th Sep 2016, 9:41 AM edit delete reply
Check the Cast page. Link's up at the top.
albedoequals1 10th Sep 2016, 8:02 PM edit delete reply
Heh, thanks. In all these years I never noticed that.
Rastaba 10th Sep 2016, 7:07 AM edit delete reply
This is going to be a fun one.
Lokyar 10th Sep 2016, 7:24 AM edit delete reply
This happened to me, too. Not so much with a specific game, but my playing of Fourth Edition at all.

When it was the builder I'd re-up every few months to keep up to date. I kept an active subscription for a while after they went full subscription, I was DMing a game for my meatspace group, but once that campaign ended and we moved on to other systems(I was the only one that liked 4e more than PF). I could justify keeping a subscription when I so rarely got to use it, and without an active subscription it wasnt even worth applying to forum games where I might not even get in and the game might fall apart before even getting to *do* anything (which still might take a month to happen). Even less so if they werent going to be updating or supporting it anymore.

Loved the system, hated the business model.
Digo Dragon 10th Sep 2016, 7:44 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
How long are your game sessions, Spud? I remember they started around 10pm Eastern time, but I always went to bed before they finished. I'd like to join in, but I probably should know if I can adjust my sleep schedule for it. :3
Newbiespud 10th Sep 2016, 7:59 AM edit delete reply
They usually run 2.5-3 hours, but I'm setting aside up to 4 hours next Sunday the 18th, 2PM-6PM Pacific, for this game. Fallout is Dragons would sometimes run a little long, and I've had a lot of players on other continents to deal with, so I'm trying to set aside more time and provide a bit more flexibility there going forward.
Digo Dragon 10th Sep 2016, 9:26 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Oh. That's... 5-9pm time. I could do that with a little planning. Dunno if I could get an idea done last minute for this round, but certainly next time.
ChaosStar0 10th Sep 2016, 4:50 PM edit delete reply
What Edition? Also the most I use digital for is storing my character's idea until I actually need to use them in a game.
Tango 10th Sep 2016, 8:06 AM 4E to 5E edit delete reply
The campaign I've been in for 7 years is facing a similar problem from the same root cause. Both the GM and I still have access to the tools, and we've shared our login information with the other players, but Silverlight doesn't play nice in Chrome, and we keep encountering various issues in Firefox and IE 11. We finished our last session oddly fast and would up tag-teaming to level everyone to 18 for the last 2 hours. And we play using OpenRPG and TeamSpeak. :(

Alas, given the issues we've been encountering, we're starting to consider switching to Pathfinder or 5E. The lack of online accessibility in both is painful though.
albedoequals1 10th Sep 2016, 9:26 AM edit delete reply
Pathfinder is available online here:

I think the main reason PF is so successful is that it is cheap (free) and easy to get access to the stuff.
Vegetalss4 10th Sep 2016, 11:44 AM edit delete reply
Personally I would recommend using this page here instead:

It has the same information, but is much easier IMO to navigate, as it organizes by category rather than source*. So for instance all barbarian rage powers are on the same page accessable from the main barbarian page, instead of being divided based on which book it was originally posted in.

*exception: third party stuff have its own section at the bottom of the relevant page which is further subdivided by publisher.
Tacticslion 12th Sep 2016, 8:19 PM Pathfinder has a ton of options. edit delete reply
Since people were mentioning Pathfinder...
^The official Pathfinder PRD is organized by their published books and generally "core" products (as opposed to "setting" products) freely available to all. Presented (sans artwork) in the same manner as the books. albedoequals1 has already linked this one, but I mention it again, as it's the actual "official" site - the one put out by the company that actually makes the game.
^ The single most comprehensive and easily navigable site of gaming goodness on the internet. There is nothing so large and complete in terms of comprehensive gaming information anywhere else, to my knowledge, short of message boards. Basically, if it exists in Pathfinder, it's available in d20pfsrd. The main "problem" is that since the guy behind the d20pfsrd puts so much effort and time into it (as it takes a lot of effort to maintain all that) and has a burning need to, you know, live and eat and stuff, he monetized (such as he can) his site. That meant he had to file off all the "official" names of stuff in order to comply with their legal requirements (it was very civil, but still was a legal requirement when that change was made) - so instead of "Red Mantis Assassin" you end up with "Crimson Assassin" - mechanics identical, still attributed to Paizo (because that's where it's from), but called something slightly different. Still, nothing else comes close. Solid recommendation. Vegetalss4 has already commented on this site as well.
^ A site no one has mentioned yet, is the Archives of Nethys. Referring to a deity name Nethys in that Pathfinder setting (an insane archmage who ascended to status of deity by casting a spell that let him see everything at the same time - driving him irreparably mad, but making him a god at the same time), the Archives of Nethys is strictly setting-specific crunch (mechanics), and is non-profit, which means they can print the original names of everything they want. While you don't have all the Core line of stuff you could ask for here, the Archives gives you pretty much all the Setting-specific crunch you could go searching for to your hearts content, even ranging as far back to 3.5 content.
^ While I don't know that this would necessarily strike the greatest chord with this community, I figure the pathfinder wiki is worth mentioning, just in case. If you're looking for fluff (non-rules information about the world of Golarion or related elements of the Paizo's published setting information) Pathfinder Wiki is far and away the absolute best place to go. It is phenomenal, in organization, layout, and dedication to the information they process.

(Also, don't be fooled: for a while Golariopedia was a good place, and it may still have some good people behind it; but the original people, have migrated to the PFWiki, and even attempted to shut down Golaripedia; unfortunately, bad-faith problems with Wikia mean that site will not allow the original creators to do so and shut them out of their own site. There may be others, but I've not found anything else that comes close to holding a candle to the PFWiki. For transparency, I am not a member - either past or current - of either PFWiki or Golaripedia, nor anything else dealing with Wikia.)

Hope that helps!
Digo Dragon 10th Sep 2016, 9:27 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
7 years is an amazing timespan though! Beats my record by 4 years. ^_^
Winged Cat 10th Sep 2016, 3:35 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Same here. I know of editions of popular RPG lines that don't last that long.
Eric 10th Sep 2016, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
Not a gamer.
I come here for the jokes, the comments, and the FiM.

When I saw that the characters were being re-created, my first thought was that this was going to lead in to Power Ponies!
Someone 11th Sep 2016, 2:47 AM edit delete reply
You do acknowledge that would mean Twilicorn, which Spud tries to stay as far away as possible from until it's necessary?
Someone 11th Sep 2016, 2:47 AM edit delete reply
You do acknowledge that would mean Twilicorn, which Spud tries to stay as far away as possible from until it's necessary?
Night Spinner 10th Sep 2016, 9:37 AM edit delete reply
Wow, I didn't realize that's how it had happened.

4th edition fell kinda flat with my gaming group so we had stuck with 3.5 and eventually migrated to Pathfinder.

I didn't realize how heavily they had tried to mimic the online game market during the 4th edition era.
Darkside 10th Sep 2016, 10:42 AM edit delete reply
I used the online Character Builder sparingly, but I have a I believe the term is "cracked," offline one that has information for all the books and supplements 4e ever had.

I've also made a ridiculous number of characters for the hell of it, like the entire cast of Dissidia (except for Chaos and Cosmos), the GAang, the Chrono Trigger cast, the Mane Six (and several other MLP characters)...

I'd just make characters for the fun of it, too.
Digo Dragon 10th Sep 2016, 2:07 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I have this Shadowrun 4e excel cheat that is... well it's a beast at several megs big, but it is really good for planning out characters. I take too long otherwise because I have trouble picking abilities.
DoubleXXCross 11th Sep 2016, 12:06 PM edit delete reply
Chrono Trigger, you say???
aylatrigger 11th Sep 2016, 8:28 PM edit delete reply
I heard someone mention Chrono Trigger.

...I think my interest should be obvious.
Qwertystop 10th Sep 2016, 8:55 PM edit delete reply
I mostly use Myth-Weavers for sheet storage, when they support the game (they usually do). Was a bit of a pain when they did the comprehensive system update that required all sheets be ported, but not too much overall.
Someone 11th Sep 2016, 2:49 AM edit delete reply
And people ask me why I keep analog copies of everything.
TheStratovarian 11th Sep 2016, 4:24 AM I'm sorry if this runs a little long. edit delete reply
Overall, the idea to do this to 4th, is at best a horrible idea, given how different that 4th is overall. It plays differently, even in fifth, which is it's own beast. But to alienate your own crowd, to promote a new idea, just horrible. There was the whole 3.5 to 4th debacle, and folks balking there, like 4th have balked here. You don't win friends, or folks, by tossing the players out into the cold if they want to play. You offer incentives to active subs to try the new things.

But, there was this issue from 1st to 2nd. 2nd and 2.5 to 3rd. From 3.0 to 3.5 switching to 4th. Every version is naturally reluctant to switch up, often for good reason, the initial bit is very rough for options and generally what you can do. Still, it's just harsh and unneeded here. It's worse, going to create resentment, not that they care, but they should for the same. Because if those 4th edition folks play, are any of them going to buy the books if other options exist as a middle finger option? The adage of "the default state of people online is arse." to be polite, often holds true to company interactions.

Still, balance wise, 5th doesn't appeal to me, despite its slimming down. I tried it briefly, but it's not interesting really. 4th I liked, i think because of what background gameplay wise i came from. I was the healer in 3.5, or the tank. And loved the idea of getting the power stripped from the wizards and the casters. Because I did equate through experience the jerks that were casters. Every problem player in game, was a caster. For a long running game of 10 years, thats a lot of arses to deal with. And yes, we were often down a mage, because the party would not take their crud, or cheese to even get in. My poor friend saw such awful cheese from that. (as a co-screener, i did too.)

But 5th, is gaining popularity, both through online streams, and in general, because it cancels out the ability to break the game, though not without its problems. Albeit at a cost to fix the genre to start it over. It's bare bones, which means you need to have either a good dm, or a great campaign, because of how little things shift numbers wise. The 2nd, is from a gm standpoint, monster generation is a nightmare, Even with the guide, i listened to a friend describe it, and while I got the idea, the whole math went bleh.

Though diverging back. I hope someone manages to snag the latest stuff, or at least breaks the stuff for the 4th edition folks, because no one should have to lose everything, especially as a faithful sub for an edition. (aka SWG folks on the NGE.) And I can only hope someone manages it, like someone did for the whole thrall adventure game from blizzard.
Tacticslion 11th Sep 2016, 7:09 AM Repeat myself (repeat myself) edit delete reply
To be frank: exactly, one the 4E-stuff. (While I disagree on the other stuff, that's because everyone's experiences are different, so I can't comment on your experiences beyond, "Mine were different enough to come to differing conclusions about the systems." - but of course to each their own, and I'm sorry you had to put up with frustrating things. That always sucks.)

I never used the online tools, but simply shutting out your current paying customer base is... it's a mind-boggling move.

The concept is pretty straightforward - I understand the logic, "Make it hard to get older stuff, so that the newer stuff is the stuff people buy." That would make sense if you didn't entirely shed the majority of your current customer base at the time.

That said, for those GMs that are able to do things more on-the-fly; search for "Monster Manual on a Business Card" - it's one of the better creations for 4E that I've seen, as it allows for fast (nearly instantaneous) monster math by reducing the math from MM3 or MMVault (I've forgotten which, by now) and compresses it on a business card: similar on the DMG chart, but more portable, and (to me) easier to understand with better layout (at least if you're already familiar with the system). That and some willingness for extemporaneous descriptions could yield creatures on the fly fairly quickly (though I wouldn't recommend using it in-game, unless needed for some reason).
IceDrake 11th Sep 2016, 9:09 AM edit delete reply
It disturbs me when I think of what Pinkie Pie is about to say before she says it. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes.
rosque 12th Sep 2016, 1:02 AM edit delete reply
I used dnd sheets for a while, and herolab character sheets too. Now I use mythweavers, herolab isn't on my computer anymore, and dndsheets went under for a while. It very much pays to save local copies, but I will say that for things like pathfinder, having the template with the CMD/CMB and those calculations makes things really simple and painless to write up. Other games I just use a text file for.
Colin 12th Sep 2016, 8:43 AM edit delete reply
I was a firm advocate of manual and P&P.

The thing about 4E is that if our current GM didn't have the Online Character Builder, he wouldn't be able to attract any new players because it would A. be too much work, B. miss out on all the patches and new powers and C. get the numbers wrong. Simple as that. My last stalled campaign, I realised I'd been under-calculating damage and to-hit for my psion for years. Now that's gone for everyone else - thank goodness he still has it.

If that wasn't bad enough, there was the CharOp threads that let you fight through the thickets of highly-situational feats and powers from all the supplements. They deleted that too. >:-( Good thing saved a snapshot.
AProcrastinatingWriter 12th Sep 2016, 3:54 PM edit delete reply
I guess me coming in to 5th edition this year was a blessing in disguise, eh? It seems like a pretty okay game.

...having not actually played any previous editions, I have nothing to add beyond that. Poor business strategy though, WoC. Poor business.
Freemage 15th Sep 2016, 12:45 PM edit delete reply
More story time!

I've been in this hobby since... let's see, fourth grade, Lincoln Elementary, so... 9 years old. That'd be 37 years.

I'd actually largely dropped D&D in favor of other games late second edition; too many supplements had oversaturated the game. I was playing a lot of White Wolf at that point, so no issues.

Partway through 3.0, though, a friend encouraged me to give Living Greyhawk a try. I loved it, adored it even. The con setting meant that I always had a table opportunity, living in Chicago meant I had three of the play regions within a short drive, making it easy to advance my characters, I was constantly meeting new people, and the game itself was structured pretty decently. There were hitches, sure, but they were dealt with honestly and earnestly.

I also jumped into the Living Arcanis (run by Paradigm Games, using 3.x's OGL license) game at that point, and it was even better. There were conventions where we had more Arcanis tables than Greyhawk tables. The whole thing was beautiful, and the hobby itself (and D&D in particular) experienced a massive boom. Both campaigns managed the lurch to 3.5 without too much gnashing of teeth, even if my Alienist did get a major downgrade.

Then one year, around March, if I recall correctly, rumors started flying that there was a 4th Edition in the works. At one of the big cons, at a panel for Living Greyhawk, the company rep was asked about it, point-blank. He said that there were no plans in the works at the moment, and we had years to go on Third edition. This was reposted widely to the various mailing lists that were tied to the Living games, everyone calmed down, and we went back to playing.

Within three months, the official announcement that 4E was a thing, that there was going to be no conversion or attempt at compatibility, and that Living Greyhawk had about a year to wrap up, dropped on the community like a dead squid. Characters who'd been played in the campaign for months, or even years, had to get to a stopping point before then or they were just going to be unfinished. (My Alienist made it; my Arcane Trickster wasn't so lucky.)

I've moved on since then, but I have NEVER done anything since that time that involved trusting my gaming enjoyment to WotC's customer service ever again. And 4E wasn't for me, so I pretty much ignored it out of the box after realizing that, as written, a fireball wouldn't actually set things on fire.

I've heard good things about 5E, and I wish the players all the best, but these days I'm doing Savage Worlds and oWoD20 and a few other bits on the side.