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Showing posts from March, 2013

TableTop Day

I hope everyone is enjoying Tabletop Day!  In case you missed the announcement, here it is:

The family is over at the FLGS playing games with sitting room only:

Yup, "I am playing on #tabletopday."

Thursday Night Pathfinder: Beholder Town

The paty started off this time by backtracking to a previously unexplored area.  It was an octagonal room, with several large pillars.  Each pillar had a face with two arms and two legs on each side.  Felix, paranoid as usual, explored the room slowly with Yuri and Corrail keeping watch.  The room was empty and uneventful.

The party then proceeded on deeper into the tomb.  The next room was very long with many pillars all covered in mirrors.  The walls were covered in mirrors.  The room was dark.  The party edged through slowly, using Felix's ropes of climbing to keep the party together and moving straight in the confusing space.  About 50 feet along the room, Corrail spotted shadows moving ahead.  A few steps later, Victaerus, who was out front, was attacked, having the strength sapped out of her by two shadowy creatures.

The party attacked for several rounds, all the while Victaerus got pounded.  She was barely able to walk by the end of the confrontation.

The party camped for t…

My RPG Kickstarter Score Card: %92

So I thought it would be a good time to go back and take a look at the things I've backed on Kickstarter and where they ended up:

Random Dungeon Generator as a Dungeon Map
Status:  Pretty much complete
Rating:  A
Comments:  The main rewards were all completed quickly.  Some additional rewards have been held up, but I didn't really consider that a big deal, since they are mostly digital stuff not related to the focus of this.  The value of what was received was good.

Admiral o' the High Seas - Naval Adventures (Pathfinder, 4e)
Status: Complete for me
Rating: B
I got in at a weird funding level, but I have received my map reward and it was nice.  I don't like the way they did funding levels in retrospect.

Pure Steam - Pathfinder Compatible RPG Setting
Status:  Late but underway
Rating:  A
I'm just not going to take off much for being late, if there is communications and progress.  I was somewhat disappointed in the early release stuff I saw, but later updates make me think th…

Thursday Night Pathfinder: A Change of Party

Aboard the dead ship, the druid, Sheena, and Victaerus watched, backed by the rest of the boarding party.  The Sandman warned the oncoming group not to proceed, holding a torch over the hold.  Sheena went invisible and rushed up to him.  He dropped the torch and Sheena caught it.  The sandman dropped through the floor as sand running between the planks.  The Druid turned ethereal and dropped below, just in time to see the Sandman grab another torch from the wall and toss it into a pile of scrolls and black powder.  A blast erupted, magical burst followed by the explosion.


The party of Corrail, Felix, the tiger, Yuri the winter wolf, Kiva, Chum the golem, and the rest defeated the two Dark Nagas.  The creatures nearby in the shadows skittered off into cracks and crevices into parts unknown.  Kiva suggested the party rest here.  Chum reinforced the door.  Felix searched the room and found nothing of value, not even food.

Felix pulled a portable campsite from his back and started a f…

Where We Last Left the Parties

So in prep for Thursday night, I put together this rehash of where we left the two gaming parties:

Friday Night Pathfinder

Corrail, Don, Elliot (now shrunk with his shrunk mount), Felix, Sandra, Miroku, Yuri, the tiger, Kiva, and Chum were journeying through a tomb-level in a large multi-level underground temple, looking for a lost artifact.  They had successfully escaped a trapped room with a fountain of coins thanks to some well-timed help from Chum.  After moving farther into the complex, they had discovered a room with two Dark Nagas where a battle had ensued.  Some smaller creatures were lurking in the darkness nearby.

Monday Night Pirates
Kyte, Druid, Victaerus, Sheena, and Jericho has been part of a boarding party that was checking out a dead ship, presumably from Candlekeep.  The ship was damaged but seemingly empty except for some magical auras.  Below deck a number of auras seemed not to move, which the moving aura above turned out to be some sort of sandman creature.  When the…

Shadowrun: Building the Campaign

I've been think a lot about Shadowrun lately, digging through material, even finding some random generators.  Something has been bothering me though.  I look at the Random Run Generator and it just makes me lean back in my chair and yawn.  There are lots of missions and scenarios, but what is really needed is a campaign plot to pull it all together.

In the last couple of weeks I finally got around to writing the scenario with all the pieces:  the setup, the players, the complications, and possible plot points.  For inspiration, I had the following short film  "Plurality" directed by Dennis Liu.

If you're looking for inspiration for your campaigns, I'd recommend taking a look at some of these short films listed over at IO9 (don't forget to hit the "show more" at the bottom to get the full list).

Thinking about Backup Characters

After reading this article, I thought I'd take on the topic of backup characters.   Backup characters, I think, are a natural part of any gameplay where a character could die.  As I've stated before, I think character death is a positive influence on game play.  The interplay between backup characters, new players, and character death is an important dynamic.  New players rarely get exactly what they want in their first character.  A backup character gives them the opportunity to vent some of this different character energy without having them switch characters every few weeks.

Asking players to maintain backup characters is also a good way to foreshadow to players that character death will occur.  It rarely happens when they expect it and often times I find it is an emotional time when a character dies.  Having a backup character allows them to move on during the game time without having to dwell on their character's death while watching everyone else continue playing the…

The Importance of Rivers

The daughterlings and wife won't stop passing along germs to me, so rather than playing Pathfinder tonight, I get to write to everyone in a blog post.  Anyway... so todays topic is rivers.  I'm sure that most people have had to sit through the hours of being taught over and over again about early civilizations and how important rivers were in establishing cities.  As a source of fresh water, food, and transportation, rivers have a major impact on determining where large cities could thrive.  They also provide a key piece in the overall character city.  After all, what would London be without the Thames, New Orleans without the Mississippi, Cambridge without the Charles?

In our fantasy settings, rivers play a major part in setting the tone and establish useful parameters in the game.  Here are some various aspects to keep in mind with rivers:

Rivers provide freshwater to allow large cities to exist.  Think about your favorite fantasy setting -- how many big cities are there with…

OSR is Overhyped

Everywhere I turn these days there is another article or conversation about OSR -- the Old School Revival.  OSR is about making and resurrecting old games, usually those that resemble pre-3.0 D&D.  I'm not a big fan.  When I speak of playing AD&D, its like when an old grandfather tells his grandchildren about walking uphill both ways to school in 6 feet of snow with no shoes on.  It was character-building at the time, but there is no reason I would want to go back to that.  There were a lot of reasons that old school gaming was replaced:

Old school games limited choice.  Want to play a character you really like and can get in to?  Too bad -- you rolled a set of stats that won't work for the character you want to build.  Here, play this lame character you don't like instead.  Don't worry though, he'll probably be dead soon anyway...
Old school games were really lethal.  Don't get too attached to your character, because you'll probably be dead soon.  Fi…

Movement Speeds, Time Steps, and Map Scale

I've been looking at movement speeds across RPGs and noticed some huge differences.  How can something so well-known vary so much across representations?  Here some quick stats (cursory pull from core rules for first level characters, but representative).

Round: 3 seconds
Walk: 8 to 15 m
Run: 20 to 35 m

Round: 10 seconds
Single Move: 20 to 40 feet
Double Move: 30 to 60 feet

Round: 6 seconds
Walk: 20 to 30 feet
Run: 100 to 150 feet

Segment: 6 seconds
Movement: 120 to 150 feet

Summary               MIN                       MAX
Shadowrun            6.0 mph                   26.0 mph
DCC                     1.4 mph                       4.0 mph
Pathfinder              2.3 mph                   17.0 mph
AD&D                  13.6 mph                 17.0 mph
Fastest 100m Olympics            27 mph
Typical human walking                3 mph
Racewalker                                 8.7 mph

Now of most interest is the maximum speeds.  Is DCC really that…

Interesting Advice for Dealing with Bards

This advice also works for fixing "Paladin problems".

New Digs

So here is our new Thursday night home at Power Nine Gaming.

Yeah, those crazy people are 3 of my daughterlings.

Combining Campaigns

So we've lost a few players along the way, so now I am strongly considering combining the Pathfinder campaigns.  The Monday Night Pathfinder Pirates campaign has been taking place in the same world as the Friday Night Pathfinder campaign.  So how could this combination of campaigns possible happen?  First lets start with the current state of things in both:

On Monday Nights, the crew of the Celestial Kyte is being followed by the massive Zelbinion as they make their way to the Cimarine Isles.  When last we left the crew, they had boarded a derelict ship out of Candlekeep that seems to have one sandman creature aboard that they've seen thus far.  He became very agitated about some scrolls and was threatening to drop a torch into the hold.  This is particularly frightening since the black powder wasn't anywhere else on the ship and yet there are numerous destroyed cannons strewn about.

On Friday Night, the group has descended into a 10 levels deep temple where an artifact is…

Common Character Backgrounds and How to Avoid Them

Today I've been thinking about the common elements that get used and reused in character backgrounds.  After playing roleplaying games, I've seen the following things way too many times:

Character is orphaned or one parent is dead.Character doesn't know anything about one or both parents.Character was witness to or involved in a traumatic event, possible related to number 1.Character has a natural ability that resulted in her leaving home.Character is a loner, has poor social skills, is ugly, or has some other reason that they aren't good with people.Character has no family.Character has an enemy who is evil, or is trying to track down an evil enemy.Character was falsely accused, got in trouble with the authorities, and had to leave / escape.Character is all-powerful (all stats above average) or is average in all things and exceptional in one thing.Character is seeking out an amazing destiny that they believe is theirs or that was taken from them. These themes are, afte…

Port Wayne Shadowrun Campaign

We got together today at our new location for the Port Wayne Shadowrun campaign.  The room was nice with good lighting, lots of space, tables, and chairs, and no distractions.  It is a bit annoying that they don't have snacks for sale, but we'll learn to bring our own.  We're all still getting to know the rules for Shadowrun 4, so today was spent on character creation.  It is a bit overwhelming with all the rule sets, so the guys mostly settled in on building their characters from similar pregens.

The party so far (as I can remember it):

Elven Gunslinger AdeptHuman TechnomancerPixie Infiltrator

One thing I found today that was very annoying is that the Shadowrun Core Book is no longer in print and hardcover copies now run from $50 to $90.  This, of course, is just a ploy by Catalyst to push people to SR5 due to come out later this year.  Catalyst could learn a lot from Paizo on how to make money while not gouging their fans.  Paizo, for example, puts the basic rules online …

Shadowrun Survival Tips and SURGE Wings

I ran across this this morning and thought I would share:

I also ran across a SURGE quality for having wings that looks well thought out.

Having flying seemed like a big hole in the books I have so far for SR4.

Also, for reference, here are some cheat sheets for all the different aspects of combast: