July 29

Review – Halo Belt

As some of you know I am part of a awesome group of people called the “Guardians of the Community”. We offer our first-aid, first response, and safety expertise to different local festivals. One of our pieces of gear is a nite-ize arm band that illuminates red. This allows us to be seen at night and designates us as a Guardian. So earlier in the year I saw a kick-starter for the something similar in belt form and thought how awesome that would be to use at festivals. They called it Halo Belt 2.0 and marketed for use as a safety piece of equipment for bikers, joggers, or anybody else that would be out at night and needs to be visible. So today I went to the mailbox and what was waiting for me? My red Halo Belt!

Halo - Skaters
Halo – Skaters

One of the cool things about this belt is that it is chargeable through a Micro USB connection (cable included). I am impressed on how sturdy the construction of this 2″ wide 3M reflective adjustable elastic belt is. The illumination strip is 16″ long which comes in 3 different colors red, blue, & green and can either flash or stay solid. It is weather proof and fits up to a 46″ waist. Right out of the box it is bright and consistent along its length.

Halo - Jogger
Halo – Jogger

I was barking mad when I went to their site to find that they are now making dog collars as well to keep your canine companion visible when you decided to walk them at night!

Halo - Dog
Halo – Dog

So if you are out prowling at night and want to be seen I recommend looking into getting one of these. I hope you will check it out!

Later Nerds!

July 23

Software – Syrinscape: Adding a little ambiance to your RPG…

I have used music in the background of my gaming sessions to give them some ambiance. During a Pathfinder panel at GenCon last year I heard about a piece of software that had promise it was called Syrinscape. This piece of software allows you purchase different sound sets that you can use to set the mood of an encounter. For instance they have a “Dragon Battle”, “Bugbear Battle”, “Witchworld”, and “Brindol Town”. There are many more to choose from (23 to be exact) and more coming out each month!

Brindol Town Sound Set
Brindol Town Sound Set

How does the software work? Well as you can see above, it is like a soundboard. Choosing a sound set displays what scenarios are available to you. When you choose a scenario like the “Busy Market Day” it will begin to play, melding all the tracks together continuously. You can set the volume or turn off and on any of the tracks giving you control of what is playing. A feature I like is when you turn it off or pause the scenarios does not abruptly stop but tapers off . Another feature is you can also choose to use sound bytes to play during the playback. These are located at the top of the sound board (see above). Brindol Town includes a roster’s crow, a cow’s moo, and a horses snort. Also at the bottom you will find other sound bytes, like a Lightning spell or a fireball spell. You get the picture.

So when I opened Syrinscape today to see what was new I noticed something that made be giggle with glee! They are now offering sound sets for Pathfinder’s – Rise of the Runelords adventure path! The first bundle is out and has been made for the Burnt Offerings adventure. I love this so much and cannot wait to run the adventure path with a new group of players so I can use them! To see it in action and hear what the “Glassworks” sound set is all about you can go to their YouTube page!

In closing this is a great piece of software that delivers. If there was one thing I would change it would be the ability to make my own sound set. But these guys have that down to a science!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Until next time Nerds!

July 18

5E, or not to 5E!

That is the question a lot of Dungeons & Dragon’s fans are asking themselves.

Just to give you a little background about my gaming history I started really playing D&D with the 2nd edition rules and embraced 3rd edition when it came out. I do admit grumbling pretty loudly when they decided to release 3.5. I mean it did fix a good deal of the issues with 3rd edition, but I had just bought the core rule books and found it pretty frustrating.

So when Wizards of the Coast announced 4th edition a few years later I was pretty peeved, I had spent hundreds of dollars on books they were no longer going to support. I felt betrayed and angry and that is the truth. Like so many others D&D fans I kept on playing using 3.5 rules and purchased 3rd party content from companies that loyally supported it. I looked at the 4th edition a few time but I just was not feeling it. I am sure it was due to me feeling resentful that WotC was trying to force me to buy new set of books.

When WotC decided 4 years after 4th editions release they were once again going to develop yet another version I thought to myself. “Man I’m happy I did not buy into 4th edition!” But the more I heard how they were going to go about creating 5th edition the more intrigued I became. I took it as a good sign they were going to allow the public to play-test it and take the feedback and create a system the public wanted to play. I casually looked at some of the play-test content over the last couple of years and saw that it was given some nods to the earlier versions. I was pleased to see they were listening and acting on what the public was asking for.

I downloaded D&D Basic Rules the day they released it. It is free by the way! I also went to my local gaming store and picked up the D&D Starter Set. Having both allowed me to look at character creation, the campaign construction, and creature stats blocks. I am not going to bore you with all that was in the box or or page count. I am pretty sure most of you already know that information. If not please check out the links above.

Basic Rules:
My first impression…  Basic Rules are devoid of customization. For example if you have a level 20 fighter he or she is pretty much the same as any other level 20 fighter. The only difference is what “racial increases” your chosen race gives you, the extra ability score points you earn as you advance in levels, character background, and the spells you choose (if you choose a caster class). The races you can pick from are dwarf, elf, halfling, or human and classes are cleric, fighter, rouge, wizard. The Basic Rules contains everything you need to play any race/class combination up to level 20.

It is a great introduction to Dungeons & Dragons but the rules are so basic it is vanilla. For those of us that love to customize our characters we will have to wait until the Players Handbook is released next month for Feats and Multiclassing.

D&D Basic
D&D Basic

Starter Set:
This box-set is even more basic than the Basic Rules and only gives you enough information to level a character up to level 5. The set of dice are pretty nice… I mean what gamer will complain about having more dice? The most important items in the box (yes over the dice) are the adventure book Lost Mine of Phandelver and the pre-generated character sheets. With those in hand you can sit down with some friends and start playing in a matter of minutes. I do reiterate that this is just as vanilla as the Basic Rules. However the adventure is pretty cool and will take a party of level 1 characters up to level 5.

I am sure the Dungeon Masters Guide will lend some new and interesting rules to make game play even more interesting.

D&D Starter Set
D&D Starter Set

All in all the rules felt very familiar to me and any kept from 4th edition are hardly noticeable. Yes both the Basic Rules and Starter Set are very basic but they allow you to do one very important thing. They allow you test drive 5th edition without throwing a bunch of money at it. For that I say well done WotC!

So back to the question at hand 5E, or not to 5E? I have not made my mind up just yet but you have my attention WotC. I will need to look at the Players Handbook at the very least before I make my final call

In closing seeing the two big Ds with the dragon headed ampersand in between them brought back some very fond memories of friends I have had the privilege to sit around the table with.

Will this post is for you… I miss you… Branko on the other hand… well, maybe a little.

Later Nerds!
Richard Keen, Jr.