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Showing posts from February, 2013

GM and Player Appreciation

I was reading this article today and noticed that GM's Day (March 4th) is coming up fast, and it got me thinking about GM appreciation.  The article talks about all the cool things players can do every day to help the GM -- typical things like not arguing with GM calls during the game, participating, helping to keep the game fun, and bringing snacks.  Thinking back over my most recent gaming experiences over the last year or so, I have to share that the groups I GM for have done a pretty darn good job at all these things.  We've all learned the rules together on new things and there is always good discussion and helping around the table.  All the players pretty much get in the game when its their turn.  I think everyone has had some fun.  And the snacks - well, the players shine every week at bringing way too much cool stuff to eat.  (I remember the week we had a crockpot beside the table!)

I've tried to hold up my end of the bargain too.  I have avoided railroading and tr…

Prep for Shadowrun

So I've been trying to figure out good prep for Shadowrun.  It turns out that the A-Team 1980's TV show (which is on Netflix) is full of characters and plots relevant to Shadowrun.  You've got a close knit team that does illegal stuff for money.  They have a mix of skill sets -- flying aircraft, driving a ground vehicle, building things.  They even have a Faceman that they call the Faceman.  And all of them, of course, have weapons experience.  Sounds like a primitive Shadowrun to me... just add the Matrix, the meta-races, and magic.  It makes me wonder why there isn't a Shadowrun movie?  Of course, they haven't even gotten around to making Neuromancer into a movie yet.

A Little Taste of Shadowrun

Made this today for the Shadowrun setting I'm working on...


The Show Must Go On

I spent around 3 hours on Saturday driving all over checking out possible options for a gaming venue.  I was amazed how many people were really excited that we might want to use their space.  I checked out two library branches and both had meeting rooms available free of charge with free wifi for similar timeslots as two of our planned game times.  We also stopped at a couple of game stores and the story was what I expected -- we have lots of tables open and available any time except Friday.  That doesn't surprise me -- Friday Night Magic is big business and at least they were up front about it.  So I guess finding new places to play was easier than expected.  There is also Roll20.net for doing an online game.  The only snag is that the Friday Night Pathfinder game is going to have to move online or change days.

Of course, the real test is to see how many players will follow the games.  We've lost one person on Friday, but that was somewhat expected, since he hadn't really…

Change in Venue

I waited a day to post this since I like to let emotions cool first.  This might seem a bit off-topic at first, but I think there needs to be a deeper reflection on the impact that gaming every week has on a person.  Its true that it is just a hobby for most, but it plays an important part in their lives, taking up precious time and being an escape from the stress of daily life.
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I was all ready tonight for a cool new section of the dungeon for our Friday night game.  I packed up my Friday night GM backpack, collected together the specific miniatures I was going to use tonight.  I grabbed up the dungeon adventure that I had worked to prepopulate with stats this week.  I packed in my box of dice and shut down my laptop and packed it in too.  I also grabbed my copy of Elder Evils that was going to play a special role in tonight's encounter, if we got that far.  I was also looking forward to maybe buying a copy of the NPC Codex tonight, if they still had a copy in stock at my friend…

What's Scarier than an Illithid Blackguard on a Beholder Mount?

How about a goblin riding a rust monster?


What do you call a group of apes?

Crayla, hidden behind a tree, watched carefully, as the half-insane bard shook his behind, calling forth a shrewdness of apes to defeat the oncoming hoard of goblin worg-riders.


Death and Dying

After reading this article, I took some time to think about character death again.  Here are some observations:

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  There are two reasons a character should die:  because they did something stupid or because they sacrificed themselves for the greater good.Zirul and Ally died on Friday nights because they made a frontal assault on a keep and were hit by a fireball.  This was an ill-advised course of action, and they should have had defenses against that level of magic.  Verdict:  death by poor planning.Kyte and Durgen died on Monday night in an assault by Frost Giants that were way above their level. They had the option of running below deck to safety, but stood fast and got pounded.  Verdict: death by forgetting they may need to sometimes run away.I had to have my character kill another character in a previous game I played in.  The character in question didn't fit into the campaign and the GM hung the player out to dry, basically bri…

Playtesting Wisdom

I just read this great article by Dungeon Fantastic on "Has that problem come up in actual play?", which looks at the difference in game design between rules that break in theory versus rules that break in play.  I've designed plenty of games in my time, most of them as a kid who wanted to play D&D but couldn't afford any of the books.  Even comparing my attempts as an adult to my successes as a kid, I can see the very obvious wisdom, that a game is designed best by playing it.

As a kid, this was very odd, because many of my test session were, in fact, me with my box of D6 dice taken out of every board game in the house, rolling merrily away by myself trying to kill the monsters I had created.  As GM and player and game writer, I knew the strengths and weaknesses and I could push and pull at every aspect.  The end product worked, though it wasn't nearly as elegant as systems I've seen since.

As an adult, I've written some RPG system stuff, extensions …

Making a Keep

I thought I would share my secret are the keep I recently made.  Here's a picture of it here:



I built this keep out of castle birdhouses I got for $5 at our local Michael's craft store.  Here's the picture of them on the shelf:

The other trick I used was Rustoleum "Stone" spray paint which gave the keep a nice speckled color and texture.  It took two cans, but it was worth it.

Saw this over on Google+

From Chris Swiatek over on Google+:


I guess this is why I prefer Pathfinder / 3.5; yet, I still have a place in my heart for older editions.

Some Interesting New Classes

I am always on the lookout for new classes.  I am a big fan of both the Spell-less Ranger and the Shaman classes.  Here are a couple more I came across:

Dandy from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque:  "These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking ..."

Alice from Playing D&D with Porn Stars: "Alices forever find themselves falling into cursed rabbit holes, accidentally killing witches, having their half-brothers stolen by goblin kings, being willed magic rings, finding demons inserted in their chests or having armored knights ride through their homes while they are trying to sleep."

Yeah, both of these sites contain adult content.  Be warned


Shadowrun is Coming

It looks like the gaming group is VERY interested in having a Shadowrun game.  I'm going through my old Shadowrun setting, getting my proverbial ducks in a row.  This is going to be a huge change for me, since Pathfinder in the Faerun setting has been old hat to me.  I can stick a few random generators on my laptop, open up the PRD and generate content on the fly.  Shadowrun is going to take a bit more for me for a while.

It was nice to find Chummer, a character generator for SR4.  That will make a lot of things easier.  I probably need to add some books to my collection, perhaps both book and PDF, since I expect the gaming party will want to look them over at game time, but I'll need quick reference during the game.

What I've read so far seems to indicate that access to several books is required.  I have Arsenal and Core.  Unwired, Augmentation, Street Magic, and Runners Companion also seem critical, though my setting is a low magic setting, which may eliminate the need f…

Friday Night Pathfinder: Dangers in the Tomb

The party had defeated the two guardians last session and was now standing in a room of alcoves, each a grave.  Three doorways exited the room besides the direction they entered.  To the south, there was a small room with a single large sarcophagus, so covered in dust that Felix could not make out what it was made of. Felix entered, sure that there were no traps (and he would know!).  Unfortunately, 4 wraiths came out of the walls and surrounded him.

Felix turned into a bat and flew away.  The rest of the party prepared for attack.  Corrail fired shots with his bow.  Chum swung wildly at the wraiths who pawed at him.  Elliot, the Cavalier, moved up to attack with his sword.  The bard played loudly  greatly inspiring the party.  Sandra, the summoner, buffed herself with magic spells, in prep for a lengthy battle.  Niva blasted the wraiths with magical lightning.  The monk, downtrodden and drunk after lamenting his answer further ("The torch!" he cries out.) sat in the corner …

Monday Night Pathfinder: Dead Ship

The Celestial Kyte, having successfully navigated through the Whalebones, took off from the Zelbinion to get back to piracy.  They easily overtook a cargo vessel their first day out, gather more plunder to move aboard the Zelbinion for safe keeping.

The second day out the Celestial Kyte came across a dead ship, burnt sails with a large hole in the main deck and side.  No cannons were visible on the gunnery deck.  No people were visible on the main deck.

Captain Taerl brought the Kyte around slowly into 100 foot range of the dead ship.  From this view, the crew was able to discern that despite being dead, the ship was loaded down with cargo of some sort.  While Kyte readied the boarding party (with all the PCs included), the Druid dove overboard, morphed into his shark form and headed for the dead ship. He was able to circle the ship and asses that there was no damage below the waterline.

The ship was a well-known ship gifted by the Waterdeep leaders to Candlekeep.  Candlekeep used th…

Which Fantasy Roleplaying Game is the Best?

Reading this article, I felt that the "Best Fantasy Roleplaying Game" discussion was a good overview, but needed a little more.  The author mentions Pathfinder, Dragon Age, Swords and Wizardry, D&D 4th Ed, Tunnels and Trolls, and Runequest 6th ed, and points out that there are many others.   I think he had a good overview of what he included, but here are some salient points I think I would add to the mix:

There are kits for getting started with D&D Red Box and Pathfinder Beginner Box.  For getting started in a new RPG, these boxes are a good way to go, including starting with pregen characters and a reduced rule set.  I'm not sure if there are others, but these starter kits are a good way to introduce new players.Savage Worlds is a nice rules-light RPG that can easily be used for fantasy.  When I went looking a light rule set, this one seemed well-supported and very flexible.When we speak of best Fantasy RPGs, you can't leave out Burning Wheel.  Its an award …

Social Skills, Knowledge, and Wisdom: Role Playing vs Mechanics

I've been thinking about role playing of social interaction and its relationship to the mechanics after watching this video by A Fistful of Dice and this reply from Emergent Play.  Here's the summary of the problem:  mechanics dictate the outcome of a social interaction (intimidate, bluff, diplomacy in Pathfinder), yet these interactions really are better reflected in the role-playing in the game.  Can the player role-play intimidate, diplomacy, and bluff, and how does this relate to the outcome and the mechanic?

I'd like to point out that similarly, there is the problem of knowledge / wisdom skills versus the actual knowledge of the player.  If the character encounters a riddle, can the player figure out of the riddle and give the solution, or can he/she roll in order to have her character figure it out?  Reality Refracted talks a bit about this here.
In the Pathfinder pirates game I GM, we started the adventure using The Wormwood Mutiny.  In the Wormwood Mutiny, the PCs …

What's on my Gaming Room Walls

I saw this post (and later others), and it inspired me to share some of my game room / family room / crafting area artwork.

 Yes that is Betty White versus Wolverine by Jay Jacot.
Mathematica and Spore -- now there's a combination.
Pathfinder and Firefly!

Yup, on the far left, that is the Hero of Canton!




15 Pieces of Dungeon Flair

Here are 15 ideas for flair you can add to a dungeon:


Flumph plus Blind Monster with Good Sense of Smell -- So here's a good use of a flumph, despite what the dungeon bastard may think.  Place some random flumphs around a section of a dungeon, and then deeper into dungeon, place a blind, sleeping monster.  Let the party try to sneak past, and then BAM!  Spray from a Flumph.  The flumph gets eaten first and then the flumph's victim. Nice.Two Invisibly Connected Pools and a Dire Crocodile -- There's nothing like a good game of cat and mouse between a PC and a dire crocodile.  Put two seemingly ordinary pools in an area (I used fountains) and then an invisible passage deep under the water.  Hide a crocodile in there.  Let him come up for a couple of bites, swim deep, and while the PCs are all looking away, surprise.  There is a crocodile biting your buttocks, sir!The Trap within a Trap  -- Put in a difficult detect mundane trap, like a pit trap.  Then put an obvious lever.  &q…

Roll20.net for Pathfinder

I've been wanting to try out Roll20.net for a while in an actual game, but haven't had the best of opportunities.  Tonight, we had two players out in our Friday night game, and with the bitter cold weather at hand, I decided to host a Roll20 game of Pathfinder.  I emailed out the link after firing up a small campaign I had been playing around in.

Before the game started, I had 3 pages.  The first page was a village with some buildings I had set up earlier. It was that generic sort of pub / inn / shops setup where most adventures start out.  It was a convenient place to get things set up and let the players get used to the controls.  The second page was a bridge over water with a nice spot for an ambush.  The third map was some caves connected to a tomb.

We played the adventure of picking up a quest in town and leaving town.  Leaving town brought the party across the bridge to encounter some dire wolves.  We didn't make it to the caves.

Let me preface this review with this:…