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Showing posts from January, 2013

Monday Night Pathfinder Pirates: Heading South

The Celestial Kyte and Zelbinion continued their journey southward to the Cimarine Isles.  First they encountered a galley out of Waterdeep.  They through up a Shadowdale flag, and were requested to parlay. Sandara, the Besmarian cleric and first mate, took the longboat out to meet the other ship's first mate.  After negotiation, she returned and then took a chest of gold back to the other ship to pay for passage.  A pidgeon arrived from the Zelbinion indicating it was time to change course to head around the Whalebones to avoid Waterdeep's ships and navy.  The Zelbinion avoided further entanglements enroute by turning invisible thanks to the mad wizard aboard.

Once underway, the Kyte encountered a Ruathym warship, warning the Kyte to turn back, via a magical booming voice across the water.  Captain Taerl tried to send out a message to the Zelbinion, but his poor pidgeon was blown away when the warship fired across their bow.  The Celestial Kyte headed back to the Zelbinion wh…

Miniatures In Progress

I've gotten quite a collection of unpainted miniatures over the last couple of months, so work is underway to get them paint.  As I've mentioned before, I use the dip method to paint.  So here's my cluttered little work table:

One of the miniature sources is the Tentacles and Eyeballs Kickstarter from Dark Platypus Studio which provided pieces to build these little guys:

I've also got some other miscellaneous miniatures (mostly reaper, I think) underway:

My painting style usually takes a couple of weeks per miniature, though I regularly have 6 to 12 miniatures underway at a time.  Each day I paintone or two colors per miniature.  Once I get the whole miniature the colors I want, I then go back and do touchups until I get them to the quality I am comfortable with.
I did have one major oversight on the Tentacle and Eyeball miniatures -- I primered the clear rods that many of the minis mount to.  Though this was something I overlooked, I am happy with the results.  I have…

Pathfinder with the Lappity-Toppity Box

When I started with Pathfinder, it was me, my core rulebook, a bestiary, a notebook, and a set of dice.  Times have changed with 9 full hardback books released by paizo in addition to player's guides, modules, and those awesome 3rd party products (Tome of Horrors, Psionics Unleashed, etc).  Today I am using a laptop and a USB monitor and things aren't bad.

My first laptop GMing investment was Herolab.  As a player it gave me the option to quickly and easily build a character over multiple levels and explore the options.  As a GM, I can use it to quickly build NPCs, verify PC builds and calculate item costs.  It even does a reasonable job of letting me skip the character sheet for NPCs by acting as a during-game character sheet.  Unfortunately, for most people, the price tag for the core version is not cheap, and adding on all the additional books isn't cheap.  It also doesn't fulfill any role in checking rules during the game.  It also isn't very useful for large g…

Friday Night Pathfinder: The Temple of Lathander

And so the party gathered together to venture into the temple.  The cavalier was leading the way with the rogue close behind, casters near the back, and Kiva riding Chum in the last position.  The white temple stones gleemed in the sunlight as they climbed the long stairs to the top of the temple platform.  Melee guards clad in shining armor with the symbol of the Morninglord stared unyieldingly forward as the party passed.  3 platforms adorned the top of the pyrimidal temple, one with the entrance surrounded with archers, and two off to the side with battle priests ready to defend.

The party was surprised to find the temple in working order with gnomes and priests about.  The first level below was a speaking room, enchanced with magic to allow the large hall to be split into 4 podium areas with benches without having voices carry too far between the various areas.  AA search of the area turned up confessional rooms.  Don tried to entered but was shocked.  Apparently the follower of C…

Pathfinder without Armor Check Penalty: Avoiding Nude PCs

I like Pathfinder without Armor Check Penalty and here's why.

 From the PRD:

Armor Check Penalty: Any armor heavier than leather, as well as any shield, applies an armor check penalty to all Dexterity- and Strength-based skill checks. A character's encumbrance may also incur an armor check penalty.

Armor check penalty is a big problem in Pathfinder.  It affects a number of critical skills:

AcrobaticsClimbDisable DeviceEscape ArtistFlySleight of HandStealthSwim Clearly some of these seem relevantly affected, but what about disable device?  I can't move lockpicks because I am wearing armor?  That seems odd.  If I were to include ACP, which I currently don't foresee, I think I would limit it to affecting only Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand, and Swim.  These seem reasonable... more reasonable than the full list.  Unfortunately, my experience with ACP is that is leads to unnecessarily ridiculous scenarios:
Hmmm... I need to climb this wall.  Let me take off my armo…

On Being a Good Pirate

I am inspired by reading this discussion on one of the most beloved science fiction pirates of recent times:  Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class ship Serenity. That first paragraph sums it up:  Loyalty, honor, and morality are luxuries to a pirate, luxuries that ultimately cost a lot.  As a GM running a pirate game on my Monday nights, this is an interesting challenge.  How do I capture these aspects in my game, since these kind of moments are where the crew and captain will be tested?

Firefly captures one of these moments perfectly, as mentioned in the referenced paper.  Mal steals medicine for a vicious, evil man, finds that it is being taken away from sick woman and children, returns the medicine and money for the job, and ultimately gets hunted down and punished by the buyer.  This sort of scenario definitely works for a bunch of pirates.

Another scenario I am fond of using is taking a situation when one of the PCs is acting ruthlessly and I add a female to the mix.  F…

Friday Night Pathfinder: The Hidden City of Gnomes

Tonight Don the Magnificent's player was out sick, so I took him on as a NPC in cases where the group needed his help.  Because he is the only good knowledge character in the group, his help is sometimes pretty critical.
The players also got started on a new background / contacts system that I have been working on.  It provides lifepaths to replace the existing trait system, and then provides a structure for getting and tracking goals, affiliate groups, contacts, and relationships.
The last two weeks of game time has been spent repairing and augmenting the Thornhold's defenses so the party could move on to other things.  Felix has taken over tactical planning for the keep and added a moat complete with spikes and oil barrels that can be dumped into it and set fire.  6 ballistas were added to the keep (in addition to the cannon, 2 springals, and firewyrm).  A secondary gate was added to the main entrance so invaders will be trapped in the tower if they break through the m…

Monday Night Pathfinder Pirates: Getting Underway

Monday night brought the players back together for the first time in a long time.  With two players missing, the action was a bit light.  The Celestial Kyte sailed back to the Zelbinion without incident and the Zelbinion was unscathed, despite being in hostile waters.  The new gunslinger Jericho spent most of his time keeping watch from the tree / crow's nest with the Druid.

Kroop spent some time with the new crazy wizard and then called a meeting of both crews.  The crazy wizard was acting as mage on the Zelbinion.  Kyte was going to be taking the Celestial Kyte's caster position.  A new captain was taking over the Kyte, as well.

In a separate meeting of the officers and chiefs, Kroop explained the plan.  The Kyte was going to sail 4 hours ahead of the Zelbinion for the Cimarine Isles.  They were heading for Tortuga, but planned to pick up some plunder along the way.  The Kyte would chase them down, and if she got in trouble, she'd hightail it for the Zelbinion.  Tortuga…

Thornhold Defenses

The Friday night Pathfinder group is working on further upgrades to the Thornhold, so I made the following map for reference that includes the current Firewurm.

Friday Night Pathfinder: The Dwarven Onslaught

Tonight we continued the battle from last session.  Arrows flew, dragons pounced.  The cavalier charged through the rush of Dwarves trying to get in the keep.  Yuri went down (but not dead).  The bard jumped off the keep with feather fall and had the monk pick him up and carry him piggy-back style out within range of the Dwarven General for a blast of Dominate Person.  Siege weapons were reloaded.  The crowd anxiously awaited the result.

"Fall back.  They are too much for us," said the General.

The dominate person spell worked, and despite the successes that the group was having against the Dwarves, they didn't have to fight to the last man.

They got some equipment from the battlefield and a domesticated Bullette worth 500 kgp in Mirabar.  Unfortunately Mirabar is 18 days travel there and back and requires one to go through Luskan.

A messenger wandered by and took up lodging with them in the keep.  The word was not good -- Waterdeep had blamed Luskan for the necromancer&…

The Contracts of Gaming

Every game table is different, but every game table has sets of rules, written and unwritten, which keep things together.  There are rules of the game and rules of the group and without both of these, things fall into chaos. Somewhere in the middle, the GM and hosts reside to help guide the group to closure on how to deal with these things.  These contracts of gaming have been a topic as of late over at GnomeStew and on RolePlayDNA.
In the two gaming groups I GM for -- my gaming groups, as I think of them -- gaming takes place at a public open space in a game store.  In this setting, as GM, I feel as if it is up to me to fulfill both the roles of host and GM.  As a host, I need to keep the environment suitable for the audience of a game store.  As a GM that allows gamers of all ages, I feel a similar need to keep things appropriate   Somewhere in there too, there is a little bit of Dad I let show that drives me to keep things appropriate for my daughters who play too.
Gaming rules fa…

D&D / RPG / Pathfinder Map Storage

I am collecting a large number of maps, both preprinted and hand-drawn on gaming paper.  Unfortunately, storing all of these maps can be a real pain, especially the paper ones that have a tendency to wrinkle and fold.  I looked at buying a wrapping paper contain over the Christmas season but never found one I liked, and quite frankly I'm not sure I ever will.  Sticking rolls in a large open plastic container isn't going to protect them.  Then I came across this solution:

This box is a rolled file box like that used by architects to hold rolled drawings.  I received mine last night from Amazon, though it is available from other suppliers too.  I have noticed that the prices have gone up on Amazon even since I ordered, so definitely shop around for the best price.

The box is tall enough to hold large maps.  The box is sturdy, even better built than the standard cardboard file boxes.  Both the lid and sides have a place to label what map is in what spot.  I think it is going to a…

Friday Night Pathfinder: Forgebar Dwarves assault the Thornhold

Sandra and Don the Magnificent returned from Waterdeep with an army of defenders and many construction workers.  Construction was quickly underway to install the new gate and the firewurm.  Crews also assembled and placed the two new springals and the new cannon.  Felix scouted the region from the air.  Corrail scouted the region as well during hunting.

A small caravan wagon train passed through on the road heading from Waterdeep to Luskan.  Don and Felix went out to try to negotiate trade with the familiar driver named Greenback.  Greenback seemed annoyed and nervous and insisted on moving on, promising to stop back if they weren't all killed by the time of his return trip.

At dawn, assault on the Thornhold began with the blow of a Dwarven horn.  35 Dwarves appeared at the edge of the forest.  A group of 20 foot solders and their 4 commanders charged the hold directly with two gargantuan ladders and a gallery ram.  Several rangers fired off smoke arrows on the battlefield.  Two…