I received Burning Wheel as a gift and I slowly working my way through the book. I have fixated on one idea so far -- using Burning Wheel type concepts to aid in Pathfinder/D20 character background generation. Character background generation has always been a difficult concept to get normalized across the different players, and I think a structured rule set could really help this, not by limiting the possibilities or strongly driving the mechanic, but by giving some structure to the details that are sometimes overlooked by the mechanic. In particular I feel the following items have been treated poorly in d20/Pathfinder style games:
Contacts -- Hooks to other characters and NPCs is always difficult to normalize. Rarely do I get references to negative relationships, which is disappointing.Weaknesses and flaws -- Having a low strength score just isn't the same as having a weakness or a flaw that defines the characterLife Backgrounds -- Yeah, you can say you grew up on a farm, but w…
So to celebrate the holidays, I hosted a special game at the local game store with a holiday theme. We had five players, a ton of sugary snacks, and a +3 fruitcake of bludgeoning. The group all rolled d20s to determine the order in which they would pick characters from the collection of level 15 pregens I had prepared. Everyone picked a character they liked. Then, I directed them to give the character to someone else in the spirit of holiday giving.
One player was late, so I picked a class to give him. He was very happy with it.
So the party consisted of:
Jinglewood McGarvin, a Tengu Gunslinger with a double barrel musketMarco the Vain, a half-elf summoner with a dragon-like eidolonMavery the Ghost, a female Drow Rogue / ShadowndancerTriton the Brave, a Samsaran ClericBinks LaForte, a Blue (goblin) Wilder (Psionics)
The party started out in Mirabar, a dwarven mining town. There someone inquired after them in the bar, looking for an adventuring group to find a lost shop owner name…
Most of our session Friday night was spent dealing with new characters, new riches, and the new keep. Ally the Gnome Sorceress is dead and replaced by Sandra the Half-elf Summoner. Muroki the monk also has replaced Zirul. Oh, hmmm... the group has no cleric now.
Don the Magnificent took a crack at interrogating the two bandit prisoners. Even with dominate person, Don wasn't able to get much information. The two prisoners were new to the bandit group, knew of a hidden cave that the bandits used but not its location, and knew that there was only a week to the Forgebar Dwarve's attack. He threatened to kill the prisoners, but one of them recognized the markings of the order on the cavalier's shield. She called on the cavalier to let her go and he made it happen. Meanwhile the giant who previously been under dominate person was now eating while sitting on the sliff ledge in the underground cavern below the castle, happy, for now.
The cavalier dug through the tr…
There was a new player tonight. I found out at the end of the session that he was playing an overpowered NPC with ability scores all pretty much over 20 and a level higher than anyone in our group. WTF?
After a character death last week, one of our existing players had to rebuild a character for the session at the table. This was the goblin. I helped him do a good build -- a rogue that fit with the high dex of a goblin.
It turned out the old character wasn't really dead, but was being pieced back together at the local temple.
There was weird plot line that the new bard dragonrider tried to introduce about a beautiful woman asking about the goblin. There was no info to let it influence anything or even for it to make any sense. WTF?
The bard dragonrider told us that Kooper was mauled by a bear. We found the bear dead (how can a town that can't defend against golbins end up killing a bear?)
The party checked out the the Thornhold, a great keep set on the side of a mountain. They were given a map with a secret entrance. Felix and Corrail crawled down the cliff and into a drain tunnel. Invisible, they followed the tunnel past a one-way mechanism (that they disabled) into a cell. Through the drain grate, they could see the cell's occupant, a ratfolk archaeologist named Byron. Byron talked the two into escorting him into the tunnel, though he was wary of climbing out. Corrail and Felix checked out the rest of the cell area and could peer out into a main chamber that opened out onto the cliff face. There they spotted two large giants, sitting and eating.
They returned, taking Byron along, and getting back to the rest of the party. They diced to split into two groups. Elliot, Ally, Zirul, the Tiger, and Yuri would hold back for a frontal attack, while Don, Corrail, and Felix would go in through the tunnel and try to take out the giants. Once inside Don worked his…
I was reading this article over at Gnome Stew this morning and started thinking about the dreaded slump. I think all GMs find themselves in a state where the excitement just isn't quite there anymore. Along those lines I thought I would share the strategies that have worked form me.
Take it up a notch. This, by far, is the strategy I am most likely to deploy. Instead of putting together a set of encounters, lather, rinse, repeat, try planning something totally different. Take one of those crazy ideas you have been saving for later and use it now. Intense, crazy, unexpected scenarios not only recharge your own skills, but they can bring a new sense of life to the players that is contagious.Take a break. When you have a slump, sometimes you just need to take a break. A break, even a short one, can give your own creativity and imagination time to catch up with you. During the break, I suggest lots of reading of both RPG and non RPG materials. Even movies and old TV series ca…
Kroop was quick to split the crew and get the Celestial Kyte away. With Sandara as captain, the Kyte made for the squib, the bodies of Kyte and Durgen brought along. Sheena, Victaerus, and the Druid were part of the Kyte's crew. The plan was to get the Kyte repaired, supplies and crew for the Zelbinion, and find someone to help repair the magic aboard the Zelbinion and perhaps help strengthen the defenses of the Celestial Kyte.
Arrival at the Iceflow Squib was a bad sight. The outer walls was in shambles, the old ruins, temple, and inn were in flames, and dead bodies of townsfolk and frost giants littered the town. An ugly gunman with a handmade musket watched from the tower as the Kyte docked.
Giffen, the Aquarvan (Crocodile Man) barbarian jumped shipped, hysterical at finding his old squib friend Rickety Hake dead by the squib dock. Sandara grabbed Victaerus and headed to the remaining temple -- a temple of Besmara. Inside, three priests from the other temple fought with …
So the party of 3, Pleon, Crayla, and Kooper, dragged the goblin in manacles back to the Sandpoint jail. They healed him with a potion and gave him a thorough questioning. Really all they found out was that he was from Thistletop (clan of goblins? a mountain name?) and who his chief was. Kooper went psycho when he mentioned the word clan and nearly killed the goblin. They left the goblin in bad shape, unconscious and nearly dead.
Crayla asked uncaringly for gold from the sheriff as the party was leaving the jail. He brushed her off, telling her he was talk to them later, choosing to instead focus on his duties to calm the hysterical wife of the man the goblin killed.
The party gathered and went on to the glass factory, trying to break in. No such luck on Crayla popping the door locks. Kooper tried setting the door on fire and breaking it down, but was too drunk to do any good. They headed back to the Rusty Dragon.
The Zelbinion made landfall in a fjord in the treacherous, icy north. Unfortunately, the fjord was under patrol of three ships of frost giants that inhabit the area. The Zelbinion spun to broadside the giant's ships while Durgen ducked behind with Celestial Kyte. The gunnery crews slowly moved all the cannons to bring a full set to bear on the incoming ships. The giants fired off ballistas while the cannons pounded back. Caster brought flames down on the giants. The druid destroyed one ballista with fire, while Kyte set fire to the incoming ship.
Two of the smaller ships fled, while the largest, on fire, drew close into the Zelbinion for boarding. The officers faced 6 Frost Giants themselves, as Durgen left the Kyte to help the fight aboard the Zelbinion. The Frost Giants pounded away on the officers, forcing Sheena below to snipe at them and getting Durgen and Kyte both killed. Finally, Kroop enabled the blade barrier, and the constant slicing of blades drove the giants f…
I found out a lot at the local brothel. The Kujitsu family is an interesting bunch with some dirty laundry. The old man and wife had a half-elf son (both of them were human). He was sent to the orphanage; the mother was kept away. The father later pushed her off a balcony. They have a duaghter who was a former adventurer and now runs a local inn. The family made their money locally through glass making. Also I got the name of the goblin tribe expert. Man, I wish she were back in town about now. Sheriff says several more weeks.The drawback of the brothel is now that Kooper visits there all the time. He is just one vice on top of another.Met up with Mr. Foxglove who paid us a bit for saving him and took us hunting in the Tickwood. We were able to take down a wild boar and a dire boar fairly easily. It got us a feast back at the Rusty Dragon. Foxglove was all over me with complements and free drinks. The evening got interrupted briefly by old man …
Playing a fantasy character true to their nature is a difficult undertaking. Living in modern times gives us a background that isn't well suited to playing an elf ranger or a dwarf miner or a great paladin. We would be much better to suited to play some hero from our own type of world.
Still we can rise to the occasion if we take just a few simple things into consideration.
A character has limited experiences. In our modern world of technology people are exposed through print, broadcast, and other types of media so we can have a general idea of life throughout the world. We can define normal by the media, and a large number of people can have very similar ideas.
In the fantasy worlds we play in, media is limited, and in some places, nonexistent. The definition of normal is limited to what our characters know -- perhaps locally, perhaps only in their own household. The only religion they may know and understand is that of the local temple. Anything outside of this norm may b…
So the party started into the Sword Mountains, leaving Waterdeep behind and following their "new" guide Marlowe and keeping a watchful eye on the map they picked up in the city. Up into the mountains, Felix, the rogue, spots two goblins and says 'hi'. They run off. The group continues on, and with the cavalier out in front on his horse, the rogue is too late in spotting the trap. A sonic trap goes off all around them.
Then goblins appear... lots of goblins. 72 goblins. Goblins with crossbows. Goblin shaman casters. Goblin dog riders. Goblin spearmen. Goblin infantry with swords. They were crawling out of holes in the ground. They were appearing on the cliffs and rocks above.
(To simplify tracking of 72 goblins, I had them attack mostly in groups, and I gave them only 1 hp. If you hit, you kill. On the board, they were represented by goblin miniatures with a die next to them keeping track of the number left in each group.)