Arrows and Traps: The Ranger Class

In past issues of these series, we’ve had a look at the four “Core” classes that usually comprise a solid, well-rounded adventuring group – Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Priest.  Why are these classes considered “Core” classes? Because when everyone in your standard-sized party of four plays a hero from each of the four “Core” classes, it offers that party the best chance of survival in the game. With one Warrior, one Rogue, one Mage and one Priest, you’ve got every situation or all the different combinations of situations covered. A huge Cave troll wielding a spiked mace the size of two men bars your way further into the Caverns of Darkness and Doom? The Warrior’s the man of the hour. Trying to get into the Castle of Lord Dukis without raising the alarm? Put the Rogue in charge of the entire operation – she knows how to do it in her sleep. Otherworldly creatures composed purely of arcane energies descend upon your party seeking to drain the life away from your bodies? That’s why you keep the Mage around. Fought the Cave Troll, got past Lord Dukis’ guards and traps, destroyed those otherworldly creatures but now in dire need of some healing and protective spells before the vampires and wraiths have you surrounded? Time for the Priest to shine.

But what about if the players don’t want to go for the safer, surer approach when creating an adventuring party? What if no one in the group is keen on playing one of the four “Core” classes (this tends to happen quite a lot with the Priest class)? While having their characters survive the challenges you throw at them is an important goal of the game, most gamers agree that having fun as a group is an even better goal. And having everyone play a class they enjoy definitely translates to a gaming session that rocks!

And if there are more than four players in your group? Why, that’s an even better reason for playing alternative, non-”Core” classes! The more heroes in the adventuring group, the closer their special abilities and skill-sets will converge to that of a “four Core-classes party”, especially if the players choose non-”Core” classes that were designed to be an hybrid of two or three of the “Core” classes.

Whatever the situation is, just remember that the goal is to have fun!

And what could be more representative of fun than playing the ever-popular Ranger class? Read more…

Beyond the Grave: The Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies are a staple in any fantasy world that features undead monsters and diabolical necromancers. Given their immense popularity and visibility in today’s pop culture, the zombie is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, or what a savvy marketing expert might call a huge PR boost. Stories about zombie hordes hunting for the last remnants of humanity in some bleak apocalyptic future are now a dime a dozen; the phenomenon is so widespread that the zombie apocalypse movement can even be considered to have trickled down to the mainstream pop vernacular (in itty bitty drops, of course).

But where does that leave fans of the fantasy genre? Fans who get their enjoyment from sword-wielding paladins and holier-than-thou clerics, who would rather see their zombies surround a group of heroes in the dark and musty corridors of an ancient mausoleum rather than under broad daylight on the streets of Lower Manhattan.

Well, there isn’t really cause for concern – because fantasy fans have been getting their fill of zombie-mania long before the current zombie apocalypse literary movement came about. Experienced pen-and-paper RPG players will think back fondly on their first hack-and-slash zombie fest, where the goal was to see who could destroy the most number of zombies in one encounter; those with more of an inclination for electronic games would certainly have found zombies under many guises in early console and PC games, where the goal would most likely be the same, although the visual effects would have been somewhat limited due to the game graphics at the time (and the requirement of ratings for games).

So one could say that the main stream is only just now falling in love with what ardent fans of the fantasy genre have been enjoying for decades!

Now, while most of us are pretty familiar with how these new-fangled modern-day zombies are created (usually by some sort of flesh-eating virus or through genetic manipulation), let us take an enjoyable walk down Fantasy Undead Lane and begin the comprehensive tour on our favorite shambling, rotting corpse. Read more…

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