A Different Take on Wands in D&D/PF

Sean K. Reynolds with some more excellent thoughts on game design! Read it!

Sean K Reynolds

Part 1: The History of Wands in the Game

Wands and staves in Basic, Expert, 1E AD&D, and 2E AD&D were pretty similar: there were a few with detection effects (like a wand of enemy detection, magic detection, or metal detection), a few that were specific attack effects (fire, frost, or magic missiles), a few that were just weird (negation, wonder). In Basic they had 1d10 charges, in Expert they had 2d10, 1E AD&D they had 101–d20, and in 2E they had 1d20+80.

In 3rd edition D&D (and Pathfinder), wands have 50 charges when fully charged, and they can hold any spell up to level 4. Which is a huge change:

1) No longer are wands limited to a small set of specific abilities, they could hold any useful spell.

2) Wands are the most efficient way to purchase charges (a potion…

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#36GamingMoments : Shooting Robo-Hitler in the face

[EDIT – Just trucking on with that ignorance: I failed to mention I have an interview for the ENnie nominated AaWBlog up on Examiner.com; please check it out and cast your vote for the AaWBlog! Thanks!]

One of my gaming heroes (there are a few: Sean K. Reynolds for inspiring me to get back into the fold, Clinton Boomer for being way, way more crazy-old-man than me, and Ryan Macklin, for being a boss and basically doing what I intend to emulate) celebrated his birthday the other day.

I don’t care for birthdays, but he made a very excellent request that I’d like to answer the call for.
Ryan wants to hear everyone’s positive stories about how gaming has changed their lives for the better, moments you cherish or that had a profound effect on you. Hashtag them #36GamingMoments.

So I thought for a while, and struggled: there’s no shortage of great tabletop gaming sessions in my illustrious time at the board, but did any single one inspire me to truly change or improve?


Throughout my youth I was equally lauded for being clever and pulverized for being egotistical; by the time I rolled out into the world as an adult, my sense of self-worth ended up being destroyed, a bravado facade being the thing most people knew me for.

Not horribly tenable.

When I started college the repairs began, largely because of one of the most embarrassing moments of my life: shooting Robo-Hitler in the face.
This would be, for reasons you probably don’t suspect, the single most humiliating moment of my life.

That is really saying something, and only because I want to be hired at real companies at some point in my lifetime do I not expound upon it here.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, so some context is due.


Crucible City
Back in the days before World of Warcraft and the like (Everquest was getting underway), to have an MMO experience you were playing only through text and ASCII art and all that. Eventually I stumbled upon this ridiculously awesome server hosting a MUX (multiple user interface) based off of 1st Edition Mutants and Masterminds: Crucible City.

Imagine it’s a really big table and everyone has to write things out and read other folks’ writings to communicate, doing all of this simultaneously and in real time, and you’re near the mark.

One of the ways to gain experience for your character on Crucible City was running games, which is something I did all the time. The administrators were pretty friendly about that, and before long I had become one of the most powerful players on the server. There were several notable characters (Splits has seen play since), but my primary PC was a mishmash of Hawkeye/Green Arrow/Batman, this ridiculous archer named Sniper (and later, Mercury?).


Nazis on the Moons of Jupiter
While all these minor scenes were going on (being run by whomever), a larger global plot thread was always being handled by the administrators. One of these (the best one) was an invasion of interdimensional-nazis. I can’t remember if Sniper or Splits fought any on Earth, but I did get into the big, climactic final scene of the entire story arc.

You know, the one that everybody on the server, playing or not, was around to watch—live—as it went down.

The nazis set up a huge space cannon on one of the moons of Jupiter, so Sniper took his SUPAR STAELTH JAT (which is what I always called it, because while I loved the PC having one it is a silly concept to me) up there and when the scenes started going, was the first superhero to run into Robo-Hitler.


The really humiliating part
There was something like 300 people on the server watching as I beat Robo-Hitler on initiative. We rolled out the attacks (which, of course, hit, because Sniper was built with the fervor of power-gaming youth) and then, in a flourish of writing genius, I produced what I thought was a brilliant, dramatic action scene dripping with justice!

It was not.

The admin-GM asked me, “are you sure this is what you want to post?”
I was very sure.

I’m not going to try to recreate it here, but it amounts to Sniper yelling in a gravely voice at Robo-Hitler, alerting him just as he lets the first arrow fly, “atchung juden!”

If you speak German, you are already aware of what a god awful battlecry that was.

The translation for “atchung juden” is “attention jew”.


Sit on that for a second.


300 people (pretty much the entire server), everyone watching, literally the end of a months-long story arc that dozens of people have actively participated in, and I f#%(&*@ yell, “attention jew!” at Robo-Hitler right before hitting him with the arrow.

The house erupted. Eventually the admins had to start asking people to stop trolling me so we could get on with the game, but that is almost certainly what I’m remembered for most by the folks who played in Crucible City.

If you’re wondering, I thought that was the phrase above Auschwitz (“arbeit macht frei”), which would have been far more appropriate and I think, the kind of thing a dark superhero would scream at Robo-Hitler before firing off weapons at him.

Well, maybe Deadpool would do that, but yeah—it was horrifically embarrassing, extremely humiliating, and a fresh slap in the god damn face to let me know that I’m very, very ignorant.
Or I was.
Now I like to think I’ve grown to just very ignorant, and I have plenty of time to rise up to just mostly ignorant and, fate willing, become only moderately ignorant before I die.

It also taught me to laugh at my mistakes.
Looking back I can see why everyone thought it was so funny, and at this point when I think about it, I end up chuckling: that would have to be really surprising to Robo-Hitler. Last thing in the world he would expect to hear kind of surprising.


So do your research, spend time accruing data, be culturally sensitive and informed. Oh, and it’s okay to be wrong: that shit happens.


That’s my bit for #36GamingMoments.

What’s yours?

The Rhune Kickstarter, jotunfolk, and more!

rhune promoAnother exciting week in the House of Myler!

I’m involved with two ongoing Kickstarters: Snow White (which is having a sweet contest on Facebook) and the new Rhune: Dawn of Twilight character primer and adventures. Moreover, I’m starting the rollout for another (god I wish I could show off the art that’s coming in), my own baby (BSP!) at the start of August; keep your eyes peeled.
If you’re tuned in here for N.O.W., things are moving along there as well; I’ve got the basics for CHI worked out, I’m getting together the various new careers, and think I’ve narrowed down the various additional rules that need put together (asymmetric odds, anyone?).


There are quite a few different irons in the fire with Storm Bunny Studios, and unfortunately, I can’t reveal them all. Some have to remain quite secretive for now (I can only tell you the name one of them—The Zephyrfan Tournament) but I can and will talk up the other two!


giant with giantOne of my contributions to the revamped Rhune: Dawn of Twilight setting is jotunfolk—giant-kin! A PC race of enormous warriors that are written into (and suffuse) the history of Rhune, along with awesome feats, magic items, mundane equipment, favored class options, spells—everything you need for some big adventures.

Arguably, the best part of jotunfolk is the bordr m[redacted]. Just thinking about that sends a chill down my spine, but it plays so well into the honor system that I couldn’t walk away from the idea. Don’t get me wrong—it is totally awesome—but the whole idea of [redacted] is very, very grim.



Frigided-Reflections-16-x-2 actual paintingSpeaking of shivering, I’m about to really dig in and get to work on the third adventure: Frigid Reflections. The core of my outline is there but more needs done yet, and the recent cold spell (comfortably in the 60s) here in Pittsburgh is the perfect opportunity to get things done. The module is piecing together various parts of the lore in Rhune and should weave into a wonderful tale, but be warned—it starts out deadly, and ultimately ends up cold and deadly. Not to play my cards already, but there may or may not be a mythic giant involved.


If you were on the fence with this project, I suggest you hop over onto our side now. Great things are on the way with the (already funded and working into stretch goals) Rhune Kickstarter, and getting in now is the canny gamer’s best bet!




PaizoCon – Part 1


This is me holding two hardcover books, both of which I was fortunate enough to be included in. One is Rise of the Drow, an excellent and expansive adventure by AdventureAWeek.com and not something to be missed; the second (smaller) book is Tome of Decay from Fantasy Flight Games, and is chock full of Nurgle-loving goodness.
I am still floored that I’ve only been cracking at this for a year, and really don’t know how to deal with it.


PAIZOCON was great!
Hard at work on the Monster Codex!

I landed in Seattle without incident and was hosted for the first two nights by easily the most generous, kind people I have ever had the pleasure of being housed by—LJ and Owen Stephens. He gave me a tour of the Paizo offices! There was a flurry of activity as the crew prepared for the convention, but everybody was super cool.paizo office 2

paizo office 3Fortunately I made my Sleight of Hand check to snag the (first of several) bill(s) at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery (a place I strongly recommend), and I got to pay them back at least a little bit but will feel as though I am forever in their debt regardless.


Can you find Clinton? Or Brian Darnell?
Can you find Clinton?

Thursday night I finally met face to face with a ton of great people, and while I don’t want to leave anyone feeling slighted (like the affable Michael McCarthy, the ever pleasant Michael Allen, or the very funny Luis Loza), one of these individuals takes the cake—Clinton Boomer.

Stop reading this for a minute, go follow his tumblr, and add him on Facebook, and so on and so forth. He is both hilarious and brilliant, and I ended up spending a great deal of my time outside smoking cigarettes with him getting drawn into conversation again and again by this nigh-hypnotic gonzo whirlpool of game design.


Jonathan G. Nelson (my excellent second host and owner of AdventureAWeek.com) finally got to the Con late on Friday but we booked it right quick, which was well enough (I was starting to get what I now know to be low blood sugar after not eating for ~12 hours).

Then things got weird.

Heading to the nearest spot Jonathan knew of for good food, we opted to sit at the bar rather than at a table and I just saddled up to the nearest stool. Looking down onto the surface of the bar, I see a nameplate.plate 2

Then Jonathan looks down at what’s on the bar in front of his stool and sees this:

plate 1


What are the f#&$*(@ chances?


Plenty more noteworthy things went down as the weekend went on, but I feel like we’ve hit a good stopping point and frankly, I have a ton of work to do after the deals and what have you that got made last weekend.
Before I duck out however, a little final analysis?

PaizoCon is great and you should be going there if you can.


The next post will reveal some of the great things on the way, but until then, I hope everybody had an independence day as great as mine. 😀



PaizoCon and Seattle!

In a few hours I am bound for the northwest, boarding a plane to Chicago and then Seattle for PaizoCon.


SAY HELLO! I am the bewildered-looking tall-ish fellow walking about quickly and destroying death sticks outside, probably wearing an AdventureAWeek.com shirt. You will not be able to miss my garish orange sunglasses, nor purge the memory of them from your mind. I am happy to talk about whatever is clever. 😀

I need to playtest some material for Stormbunny Studios (did you see the very excellent Kickstarter going on for their stormpunk setting, Rhune?) and if you are down for some great 5th level action, let me know!


That is unfortunate! I work from my desktop and am not even bothering to bring the years-old notebook (laptop?), so if I can’t do whatever you need from my phone, I am not going to be of much help for the next week or so.

Still, if you need something from me just say as much; I will try to find a few minutes to get you sorted.


Hopefully, there’ll be some very big news (about both Big Secret Projects, and probably something about Time Gestalt too!) to share when I get back; keep your fingers crossed, folks!