Once upon a time, the gaming world was far different. Once upon a time, the worlds were bright and colorful. Once upon a time, Good was Good and Evil was Evil. Now, that world is gone.

Square Enix's FINAL FANTASY XI (FFXI) is the first massively multiplayer online role playing game I actually sat down to "play" as opposed to merely "dabble in". After spending 120+ hours of playing since the release of the PS2 version, I'm seriously weighing whether to cancel my account, for a number of factors described herein. The biggest issue seems to be the "massively multiplayer role playing" part.

Michael started playing dungeons and dragons in high school many years ago, and picked it back up four years ago where he introduced it to the family. We were living in the great state of Texas then, and although money was not in short supply we found our favorite pastime cost but pennies for a few sheets of paper, the initial cost of the coolest looking die and core rule books.

No I'm not talking about Scatman Crothers. I'm talking about how RPGs can exist as an art form.Have you ever asked yourself why you play RPGs? I'm sure you have. And I'm sure your garden variety of answers go something like: I play games to have fun. I play games to kill orcs. I play games as a hobby. I play games because I'm bored with watching NYPD Blue. I play games because I like to show-off how well I know the White Wolf rules set. I play games because I can't get a date. Et cetera.

What is the last great CRPG? Three names come to mind for this gamer: Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate 2; the latest of these three being BG2. After thinking long and hard, I cannot think of a single CRPG to top those 3 (Or 4, if you're counting.) Why is that?

When considering the techno-futuristic cyberpunk genre there are really only two choices for gaming: Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020. Shadowrun is a world of magic and machine guns. Cyberpunk 2020 is more pureblood, leaving magic to the fantasy games. For the money, Cyberpunk 2020 is the better choice. The system is more streamlined, you don't get a mixing of genres, and who can dispute the enjoyment of thumbing through the latest Chrome?

Okay. I have to admit. I wasn't that impressed with Moloch when I first met him. In 1988, some friends and I found ourselves in the possession of Monster Manual 2. Much to Tipper Gore's chagrin, this handy little accessory had the low-down on all sorts of demons and devils. We, however, were elated. The time had come to include devils into our campaigns. So, my friends and I pored over their stats and fantasized about taking our low-level halfling rogues on a quest through the Nine Hells. We were beguiled by Belial. We were impressed by Amon. And we thought Mephistopheles's whispering wind speech was ultra cool.

With my last article that detailed my views on DM cheating, as well as the discussion that followed, brought a very good question to mind. When is a game no longer considered a game in the strictest sense?

Miniatures have long been a nice enhancement option for D&D campaigns. You head down to the local hobby shop, pick out the figures that catch your eye or that you need to fill up the monster slots for your weekly campaign and voila, you have instantly clarified combat, movement, and scale. Miniatures generally are made from pewter and part of the fun is to paint your miniature however you wish. So, you want a green fire elemental or a fuchsia troll? Anything you wanted to experiment with was fine. And you can always throw your miniatures into a bucket of Pine Sol overnight and in the morning ninety percent of the paint would be stripped off giving you the opportunity to repaint particularly poorly finished or hideously ugly figs.

I've been intrigued by the Githyanki ever since I saw my first Fiend Folio (the year was 1988). I've always had a fondness for warrior races. I like Klingons. I like Luxans. I like Cimmerians.I like Githyanki.

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