Old Site Materials

Update March 6, 2011: I’ve incorporated as much material as I’m likely to from the old site.  It looks like the articles I’d posted to my old site have been migrated (look early in the archive, around 2003-2006), most of the rules documents I was putting together have as well.  The remainder was mostly works in progress or otherwise no longer meaningful.  I’m dropping the ‘/oldsite/’ directory here.

I’ve just copied all RPG materials from my old site (http://www.kjdavies.org/, before it got replaced with a WordPress site) to this server, under /oldsite/. Over time I’ll do a better job integrating it, but for now this will make the material available.

As things get better integrated, they will be removed from this area.

Back in the Saddle

Okay, yesterday I spent about 13 hours deploying the latest version of our product at work, the first major release in 18 months and most of my work since the beginning of June.

About bloody time that one’s done. We’re starting our scoping exercise for the next one, but the happy thing for me is that I’m no longer in the crunch of it.

This suggests I’ll have time for my own writing again, so I may be able to get back on track.

Introduction to Echelon

Origin of the Name

It is not explicitly spelled out in the D&D 3.x core books that play changes significantly through the various levels. The lack of this explicit statement has caused, for many people, a detachment between the levels of power and the styles of play appropriate to those levels of power. This is evident from the disparity of ability between classes of different types – spell casters gain power on a quadratic curve, while those who don’t use spells grow more linearly.

Or, to use a common complaint about D&D, “fighters can’t have nice stuff”.

On top of this, because ‘mundane’ characters, those who do not use magic, learn only ‘real’ things such as combat tricks or skill use, there is the perception that much of what these characters can do should be learnable by ‘anyone’. After all, it’s just a matter of training and skill, not magic.

The name ‘Echelon’ was chosen as a conscious reflection of how D&D, especially D&D 3.x editions, actually works. Just as échelon originally meant a rung of a ladder, Echelon has explicit tiers of ability, power, or incredibility. The abilities (called ‘Talents’) gained at each level are expected to be appropriate to the tier.

Echelon was also chosen because this game no longer uses classes, and all other editions of D&D (and most d20 games) have. Character differentiation is managed through their tiers (as indicated by level) and the talents chosen. A high-tier martial character is expected to be just as awesome and incredible as a spell caster of the same tier.

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Echelon Core Rules Draft Outline

So, October’s been rather lighter on posts than I really wanted. Between trying to get my act together health-wise (eat better, sleep more, work out better), a compelling project (Vale of Elsir map for Nik) and work (the next release of our primary service is now staging for release next month) I’ve been fairly pressed for time.

In an effort to get my writing kick-started again, and because next month is National Novel Writing Month, I’m adapting the NaNoWriMo plan for Echelon. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write, over the course of November, a 50,000-word novel. That’s not quite what I’m doing, and the subject of this post should be a pretty good hint as to what I’m aiming for.

I’m going to try to have a draft copy of the Echelon Core Rules together by the end of November. As appropriate for NaNoWriMo, I’ll be putting a less focus on perfecting things and more on getting content together. I’d like to be able to go to the table in December and actually try this.

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Vale of Elsir, Reinterpreted

Vale of Elsir

Vale of Elsir, according to Nik

A friend of mind is running a D&D 4e campaign and was unhappy with one of the maps he was using.  In order to get a complete view of the Vale he was using several maps butted together.  They had differences in color and style (which never looks good) and some weird geography that got on his nerves.  Mine too, when I saw it.

I’d been looking for a challenge, and this looked like an interesting one.  He sent me a copy of the original, marked up where he wanted changes.  Extend a mountain range here, chop this river in half so it doesn’t go over the mountain range as in the original, and so on.

I’ve spent perhaps 15 hours on this in the last few days, usually a couple of hours at a time in the evening while we hashed out what was being done with the map.  It’s fairly close to what I’d originally scribbled as a starting point, but some things got moved or changed as we came up with better ideas.

Of course, I see some room for improvement yet, some specific things to work on next time.  However, this was my first time compositing something this complex, and overall I’m quite satisfied.