Saturday, March 30, 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."

Friday, March 29, 2013

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 the night without incident.

Felix checked out the amulet that Kiva left him.  In the red crystal at the center of the amulet, floated a face of Kiva.  Felix spoke to it and it spoke back.  He asked it questions, but it indicated it was only an echo that could answer certain questions.  Pretty much everything Felix asked couldn't be answered by it.

The next morning the group started down the next corridor to hear weird sounds from the distance.  Merp!  Ploorp!  Keebog!  Suddenly two bipedal creatures appeared with eye stalks crowning their head.  The party had little idea what they were except that they might be beholder relatives.  They chewed on Corrail's armor but did no damage.  A third one danced in and out of sight down the hall.  The two chewing on Corrail became impatient and with a wiggle of their eyestalks blasted Corrail with a ray of fiery light from the ceiling.

Victaerus, annoyed by their constant chirping of weird noises, put in ear plugs offered by Felix.  They tried feeding them some rations and the two creature became friendly.

In the next room, the party found two Sepulchral Guardians, skeleton remains wrapped in iron, waiting to pound anyone who entered the tomb.  Apparently anyone didn't include the "Merps".  Corrail tossed rations into an adjacent room to draw them away.  Felix moved into the room and the guardians animated.  Felix and Victaerus were visibly shaken from the horrid creatures.

The party moved in to attack and the guardians seemed drawn to Sheena and pounded her hard, leaving her on the ground bleeding.  Corrail and others attacked back, killing one of the guardians.  The second guardian rushed toward Sheena and began casting a spell, its arms and the arms of the dead guardian moving in unison to cast.  Sheen was hit by a blast of red light and disappeared.  Victaerus was very scared and shocked and couldn't fight any more.

The rest of the party fought the last guardian until it was dead.

Felix searched the adjacent tomb where the Merps were eating rations and found a small stash of coins.  A secret door in the room also lead to a hidden room, where a number of weapons, some armor, and a larger stash of gold was left.

The party continued on into the next room where they found stairs leading down.


Let's take a small break for introductions:

  • New player 'A' is playing Nickolai, a half-orc Zent barbarian that hates demons.
  • New player 'B' is playing Caleel, a human cleric of the Goddes Denessa
  • The tiger finally has a real name:  Sionna

So the stair led the party down into a very narrow corridor, just barely wide enough for one person.  At the end, there was a hidden door.  Victaerus opened it, peering into a room with furniture, 3 small floating eyeball creatures with single eyestalks, and a half-orc in an apron.  Felix says "Hi".  Victaerus moved into the room, seeing a larger beholder in the nearby hall.  Two of the floating creatures are making strange noises (crying) and the third blasts away with an eye beam, hitting Felix.

The half-orc pulls a bookcase down and jumps behind it.

Felix decides to turn into a bat and fly near the ceiling until he landed beside the half-orc.  Victaerus moved back into the area behind the secret door  The half-orc makes a run for it to the secret door and starts asking for weapons and armor.

Corrail gives him a breastplate and a great sword.  Victaerus hits the newcomer with 20 questions, not trusting him implicitly, but trying to figure him out.  He says that he wants to get away but there is another slave their with him he want to save.

Victaerus moves out into the room and is spotted by the larger creature in the hall.  Corrail notices a button on the wall and pushes it and the doorway closes with a portal-like aperture door.  Outside the door, the floating monster calls another human servant to assist him (Caleel).

The half-orc charges one of the small floating creatures (beholder babies) and hurts it badly.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

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 the product is going to be pretty good.

Companions of the Firmament - Pathfinder RPG Compatible

Status:  Late but underway
Rating:  A
This is running a bit late, but progress in underway  and the PDF version looked really good.  I can't wait to get the softcover version. My players are pumped about flying.

Dwarven Adventurers Box Set

Status:  Complete
Rating: A+++
This set of miniatures was awesome.  I have them primed and am working on painting.  I would support these guys on anything they throw out in the future.  They also have a Gnome kickstarter underway now.

Kaidan Campaign Setting (PFRPG)

Status: Underway and showing progress
Rating: A
Getting some stuff up front that's already done always boosts the feel of a kickstarter, so getting some stuff for Kaidan that was already made was nice.  This kickstarter has done an awesome job of sharing content as they progress.  I look forward to the end product.

The Bestiary of the Curiously Odd

Status: Underway
Rating: C
The best way to give people a bit of a worry is not to update.  I think we'll get a product in a reasonable time, but I have't gotten an update in a month.  Not cool.

Gaming Paper Pirate Encyclopedia

Status:  Complete for me
Rating: B
I was just in for the PDF was which released almost immediately.  Though it was a good value, it didn't make me feel like I was helping fund much.

Publish the +5 Food Of Eating cookbook

Status:  Complete for me
Rating: B
This was a hard one.  Tiffany struggled a bit with getting the product together, ran into some problems, got some help, and turned out an awesome product.  There were some mistakes in the middle with lack of communication, but I think if Tiffany did another project, I would back it, as well, because she owned up to her mistakes, learned from them, and drove the project through to success.  Major kudos to Tiffany.

Axes and Anvils

Status:  Limbo
Rating:  F
This project and Cairn were turned into 'starting a business' instead of making a product.  This is a rookie mistake and now the backers are going to pay for it.  It irks me that there was no real warning on this one until it was too late.  Part of having backers means there is a group of invested people that can help.

To Slay A Dragon: a traditional adventure for PATHFINDER RPG

Status: Underway
Rating: A
The number one rule of kickstarter is show your supporters progress.  This project is right on the money with that.  The latest artwork looks great.

Numenera: A new roleplaying game from Monte Cook

Status:  Underway
Rating: B
With Monte Cook at the wheel, I am sure the end product will be epic.  Still, I have to go digging for information on where things are at.  With updates few and far between, I have to take off a bit.

The GM's Real-World Reference

Status: Complete
Rating: B+
Getting that complete is always hard and this group did it.  The product was okay, but not great.

Red Dragon Inn Pathfinder Sourcebook

Status:  Underway
Rating:  B-
Updates have awesome content, but need to happen more often.

Low Life Miniatures

Status:  Underway
Rating:  B+
There was some expectation by the folks doing this one that we were going out to their website for updates. That is a bad assumption, but they corrected it.  I think they are on track for a reasonable finish.

Tentacles & Eyeballs: An RPG Horror Miniatures Set

Status: Complete for me, yet still going
Rating: A+++
I can't say enough good things about Dark Platypus on this one.  We got regular updates showing progress.  They had a intellectual property problem, which they handled by changing things and increasing the rewards.  They offered discounted prices on their already existing items.  I received all my miniatures and they were awesome.  AND this week I got a survery to let me go back and buy items that I didn't originally sign up to get rewards for.  This is really the way to run a project.

Rusty the Rust Monster - Plush Toy

Status:  Complete
Rating: A
Rusty looked like a no-brainer with quick delivery until an intellectual property problem popped up.  I was a bit worried, but the legal stuff was worked through and Rusty arrived.  There was a slight lack of communication after the IP problem, but this was later explained, so I give them a solid A.

The Reliquary

Status:  Underway
Rating:  C
The best way to give people a bit of a worry is not to update.  I think we'll get a product in a reasonable time, but I have't gotten an update in a month.  Not cool.  This is the same group doing the Bestiary of the Curiously Odd.  I don't think I would back them again.

28mm Demons & Devils - Center Stage Miniatures

Status:  Underway
Rating: B+
I think this is going to be a cool set of minis.  Unfortunately updates have been dragging for a while with the problem of getting the surveys out.  If Kickstarter could fix one problem, it would be a better survey system. In the meantime, smaller projects have turned out more complex surveys in a lot less time.  It is slightly frustrating, but not a killer, since there are content rich updates.


Status:  Limbo
Rating:  F
This project and Axes and Anvils were turned into 'starting a business' instead of making a product.  Usually I never back a second project by a group until the first kickstarter is complete, but I was so excited about a reasonable cost replacement for Mouseguard that I broke my rule.  Big mistake now with two failed projects from the same short-sighted "business".

Creature Cards - monstrous playing cards for games or rpgs

Status: Underway
Rating: B
Over a month with no update is a problem, but maybe it was just a one time thing.  They are slightly behind schedule, but the artwork looks good, and I am sure I'll get a cool product.

Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game

Status:  Underway
Rating: A
Good sharing of progress.  Good interaction.  I'm not real sure about all the content, but I am constantly intrigued by this project.  I really just can't wait to see the end product, because I know it is going to be something different.

A Gallery of Rogues: Solomon Guild

Status:  Underway
Rating:  A
At first, I was a little disappointed that the artwork was going to be line drawings and not full color, but the content is growing on me.  They share lots of details and artwork all the time.  I think the product will be a nice addition to my collection and very usable.

Gnomish Adventurers Box Set

Status: Underway
Rating: A+
This is the same group that did the dwarven set, and this kickstarter is going well too.  Lots of updates showing progress.  I am always amazed how fast they seem to get things done.

The Ultimate Gamer's Storage Bag

Status: Underway
Rating: A+
Sometimes limiting a kickstarter to just one thing really helps, and this one is a good example of that.  The product is a bag for gaming supplies.  The updates have been great and I event got an invoice back for my pledge items.  I am positive I'll get a quality product in short order.  This is another person I would back again.

Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk

Status:  Underway
Rating: A+
It is impressive when a project responds to backer feedback like this one has.  The updates are flowing, and I get a real sense of progress.  Also, getting all of the 1.0 content was a nice way to start.  There is a long way to go, but I am sure they will get there.  I am really excited about have this cyberpunk style of play for Savage Worlds.

Free Trader / Grendel - Starship Deckplans

Status: Complete.
Rating: B
Flawless execution and things arrived quickly.  In fact, I got a product so fast, that I wonder what I was funding.  Kindof expensive for what I received.

There are a few newer ones that are just getting underway, so I won't include them for now, but maybe in the future.  Overall, I think there are some real lessons learned from all of this:

  • Kickstarters should focus on 1 product, not on many products, and not on starting a business.
  • Kickstarters should have something to develop.  They shouldn't be ordering a finished product.
  • An organization that needs a kickstarter is probably only big enough to do one kickstarter at a time.  If they haven't delivered on a previous kickstarter, don't back them until they do.
  • Kickstarters need to be careful with intellectual property.  If there is a problem, there are good ways to recover.
  • Rewards should be tiered so the different levels always gain the previous levels rewards plus something.  Don't break this model unless you have a really good reason, or you risk having unhappy backers.
  • Weekly updates that show progress are mandatory.  Engagement is important too.
  • Kickstarters will have struggles.  Take every schedule and double it.  Successful kickstarters will communicate their troubles and get help when they need it.
  • Kickstarters should keep it simple.  Complicated = failure.
  • Kickstarter needs a better survey system.
  • Back kickstarters you have a passion for.  Anything less has a good chance of being disappointing.
  • Save all your update emails with artwork, content, intermediate releases, etc.  If something really goes south with a Kickstarter, this stuff might end up being your reward.
  • I have a problem with backing way too many kickstarters.
  • I have a really good knack for kicking successful kickstarters.  2 possible failures out of 26 = %92
  • My biggest regret in Kickstarting is that Braille Dice didn't get funded, which was going to release poly dice for blind gamers.  I backed buying some sets just to try to help get it funded.  I hope they found a way to make these available anyway.

Friday, March 22, 2013

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 fire for cooking.

Kiva drew up a magical circle and began to meditate, looking for clues of these creatures that skittered away.  After a couple of hours she emerged from her silence.  "There is good news and bad news.  The good news is that they are small proteans that won't be an issue.  The bad news is that proteans are not of this plane and there may be more around."

The party rested through the night without issue.

Rested and well fed, the party got back underway.  Down the hall they found an entrance into a large bowl-shaped room.  In the center of the room, two large golden statues of humanoids stood, perhaps 3 times taller larger than the party members.  Kiva yelled to the party to stay put and rushed toward them with Chum, tossing an amulet to Felix.  Chum immediately took to attacking the statues.  They cracked and light spilled out of the cracks.

Kiva took to the air as she approached, flying over the statues' heads as she reached them.  She began chanting and casting and a small dot of light grew on the floor between them.  The party stayed back.  The statue cracked by Chum began to move.  It struck at him and took his arm cleanly off sending a shower of sparks as it cut through his adamantium form.

The dot of light grew to a circle, engulfing the statues, Chum and Kiva.  After a moment, the circle of light began pulling in Chum and then the statues and Kiva, appearing to rip them apart as they fell in.

Then there was an explosion and the sound almost like rain.


The rain was a wave of acid falling from no where, filling the bowl-shaped room.  Don the magnificent, Elliot and his mount, Sandra, and Muroku were caught by the wave and pulled into the green, caustic lake, melting them almost instantly.  Corrail, Felix, the tiger, and Yuri were hit by some of the wave, and though burned, kept out of the bulk of the wave.

Astonishingly, atop the newly formed lake was a piece of a ship sinking slowly into the acid.  Aboard it, the druid, Sheena, and Victaerus still faced the sandman who was now melting into the acid seeping between the planks.  Across the room was a single door exit.  Sheena figured they only had perhaps 30 seconds before the ship piece would sink into the acid.

There was some shouting and it became apparent that the group aboard the ship was fighting the sandman.  Sheena fired off an arrow and the druid surrounded the sandman with a wall of air.  The tiger jumped over to the ship, nearly falling off, but helped by Yuri.  Felix flew over to the exit door.  Slowly the rest of the party got across the ship to the exit door.  The druid gave Victaerus air walk to get her safely along the way.


The new party discussed their situation and the dwarf , grumbling about not liking to be on land, and Sheena and Victaerus agreed to tag along with the remnants of the shadowrunners along their trek through the temple.  They followed the corridor farther into the temple, finding first an empty hallway and then a room.  All along the way, the shiny-armored Victaerus led the way with the rogue in tow, checking for traps.

The room was odd shaped and there was a chest visible from the door.  Victaerus and Felix went in and Fleix was ambushed by a squirt from a flumph floating in the corner, leaving him stinking for all to smell.  Victaerus turned over the flumph.  Felix took a close look at the chest and realized it was moving.  Victaerus, the tiger, and Felix took clear as the druid called out for a clear shot.  He blasted the chest with a blast of wind that sent it into the wall.  Its true nature then emerged with tentacles and sharp teeth.  The chest was a mimic.  The party waylaid on it and it died quickly.  Felix found a measly 23 gold pieces in it.

The party skipped the next room that had a series of statues, each with 2 arms and 2 legs and 1 face on each of the four sides.

Further down the corridor they found an empty room.  And that is where our story stops for now.


So the new party is:

  • Elven ranger Corrail
  • Ninja Sheena
  • Half-elf druid / Rogue Felix
  • Dwarf druid "The Druid"
  • Victaerus, a 16 year old girl fighter guard from Neverwinter
Probably at some point either Sheena or Corrail may leave the party (currently one player is playing both).

So it looks like we have spots for at least two more players.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

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 they engaged it, it held a torch over the hold, mumbling on something about scrolls.  The party was worried because they hadn't seen any of the black powder for the cannons above and maybe that torch was going to drop below onto the black powder.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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).

Friday, March 15, 2013

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 session without them.

Backup characters also let the player explore new possibilities, which often they incorporate into their main character.  As a GM, keeping a backup character or two also gives me a new source for potential future NPCs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

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 no rivers?
  • Rivers provide river ports.  Dock districts are a key setting for many fantasy cities.  The provide access to interesting transportation (both inland and sea-faring).  They bring in pirates and foreigners, giving the city a melting pot feel.
  • Rivers provide a natural division in a city.  Typically this division is reflected in changes in wealth and status.  In the ancient world, wrong side of the tracks, was more like wrong bank of the river.
  • Rivers provide a key location in the city during battles at the bridges across the river.  Enemies and allies both, whether individuals or armies, have to deal with getting across the river, most likely at a bridge.  Control or sabotage the bridge and things get interesting.
  • Rivers are a whole new habitat for monsters.  Need an interesting encounter while moving inland by boat?  How about a giant catfish?  Need to disrupt a voyage getting underway?  How about a river dragon?
  • Rivers connect places.  Need a way to adventurers from that small forest village up into the mountains?  Hmmm... it looks like the river is going dry.  Someone should follow it to its source and see what happened.  Oh no, that chest fell into the river with all our stuff in it.  Quick to the raft -- we have to follow it!
  • Rivers hide things.  The battle is going really well, until, wait... is that a ghost ship and a river dragon coming up out of the river to fight against us?  Is that a hidden portal at the bottom of the river?  Hmmm... I hear there is a sunken treasure ship in that river.
I think you get the point.  Rivers are an important element in cities and settings across the board for a variety reasons.  Next time you draw that overland map, don't forget to put the rivers in early... say right after the seas, oceans, and mountains, which we'll save as topics for another day.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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.  First level characters don't even need a name.
  • Strategy often wasn't really useful.  Yeah, and about that dying thing.  Don't think you can figure your way out of dying.  Sometimes you're going to die for no good reason.  Life is a b**ch, so why shouldn't your fantasy game to escape it be one too.
  • GM is god.  The whole GM god complex was a cornerstone of old-school gaming.  After all, when the players can't even keep characters alive for that long, isn't the story really just about everything else?  And that is everything the GM controls.  Old school gaming is much more about the GM.
All of these reasons are why new school gaming was invented.  Give the players the choice to play new characters, have epic and interesting adventures,  and build stories.  If you watch the current trends in RPGs, the real move is to reduce GM power and, if possible, eliminate her completely.

Now that being said, yeah I have a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics and the D&D reprints.  I also run the Tomb of Horrors on special occasions.  I also have a lot of AD&D era source books.  The books are a good read and I admire the elegance of Gary Gygax's original D&D publications, but when it comes time for a long-term gaming group, I put away the old school and focus on game rulesets that I know will really be fun for everyone.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

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 much slower?  I understand that the 26.0 mph is for trolls in Shadowrun, which is a somewhat unique race.  Also, each system has different ways of treating encumbrance.  Looking at the whole collectiion, besides DCC numbers seeming a little low (which could be my misinterpretation), I think the ranges look reasonable.

The impact of these numbers -- namely the time step and max movement speeds -- is the reasonableness of scale to use in mapping..  In Pathfinder, 5' squares seems really comfy, but I have a feeling in Shadowrun, 5 meter squares will probably be easier in environments where players are going to be running around a lot.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Digs

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

Yeah, those crazy people are 3 of my daughterlings.

Monday, March 4, 2013

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 hidden.  They are currently about 3 or so levels down on a tomb level.  There is no telling what they may run into.  Above, a gnome village awaits their return along with Elminster and a dragon named Palarandusk.  They are currently being accompanied by Kiva, a gnome sorceress psionicist of extraordinary power that is accompanied by an adamantium golem.

The bigger problem is that the pirate crew is expecting a sea-based adventure and the Friday night crew is expecting a standard fantasy adventure.  Also, the Monday group is using all books, while Friday night is using only Core, Advanced Player's Guide, and Ultimate Equipment.

The players I expect to transition, have the following characters:

  • R -- Sheena, a pirate ninja; Corrail, a half-elf ranger
  • F -- Felix, a half-elf rogue / druid
  • B -- A dwarven pirate druid, mostly referred to as The Druid
  • S -- A young girl human pirate fighter Victaerus
  • M -- A human cavalier named Elliot
So there are some problems here:
  • No arcane caster
  • No cleric or paladin for healing
I think the solution is to look for one new player.

Plot points aside, the simple solution anytime you need to make a major tweak in a fantasy campaign is simply to employ a L.U.M.P. -- large unexpected magical power.  This was used at one point in the Friday Night Pathfinder campaign to teleport the whole group to a new location and start a whole new epic storyline.  This time it can be used to combine forces and rearrange the stories into one.

Now for obvious reasons, I am not going to give away my solution to combining the campaign plots just yet, but hopefully soon you'll be able to read about it as it plays out.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

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:

  1. Character is orphaned or one parent is dead.
  2. Character doesn't know anything about one or both parents.
  3. Character was witness to or involved in a traumatic event, possible related to number 1.
  4. Character has a natural ability that resulted in her leaving home.
  5. Character is a loner, has poor social skills, is ugly, or has some other reason that they aren't good with people.
  6. Character has no family.
  7. Character has an enemy who is evil, or is trying to track down an evil enemy.
  8. Character was falsely accused, got in trouble with the authorities, and had to leave / escape.
  9. Character is all-powerful (all stats above average) or is average in all things and exceptional in one thing.
  10. Character is seeking out an amazing destiny that they believe is theirs or that was taken from them.
These themes are, after all, the things that our legends are made of.  You can see these themes in all the major movies and TV series.  Let's give a point for each of the 10 to a few superheroes:

Batman's score is around a 6 or 7.  Superman is around an 8.  Ironman is about a 5 or 6.  You get the idea.  Some players even go so far as to copy characters right out of shows.  It doesn't really get the creative juices flowing.

So how can we fight this ongoing propagation of the standard hero background for every single character we play?  Here are some twists to the above that might help.

  1. Character has a close family, perhaps is even married with children.
  2. Character is traveling with their child, sibling, or significant other.
  3. Character witnessed a great miracle that inspired them.
  4. Character has no exemplary natural abilities and perhaps has a big negative (lame, blind, dead).
  5. Character is older and has worked, trained, and studied to become stronger.
  6. Character has friends and contacts throughout the world.  He has no enemies.
  7. Character is a normal guy that the authorities don't care about.
  8. Character is just going with the flow and doesn't believe in a great destiny or future.
  9. Character doesn't want to take risks that may get him killed.
  10. Character is forced into his role in the story.
Now obviously nobody wants to play a character that never shines, so choose a little bit of A, the heroic stuff, and a little bit of B, the normal and less exciting stuff.  Here are some character concepts I've thrown together for Shadowrun NPCs using these types of things:

  • A rigger who was in Yakuza because he was in the family.  He was a rigger, and someone blew up his car and the passenger was mistaken for him.  Now he stole off with the limo he rigs from and is homeless.  He lives in the car.  It sits around all covered in graffiti and trash in the bad part of town.  He is allergic to sunlight and so he only can emerge at night.  His is so poor, he can't afford ammunition, so he carries a katana in addition to his empty pistol.
  • A mechanic who specializes in armor.  She doesn't like messing with anything else.  She has a son who has a strong technical knack.  She has trouble because sometimes when she brings him to the shop, he disassembles things.  She tries dating but it never works out and her son always causes fits for babysitters.  She works, she goes home -- there really isn't anything else interesting that happens to her.  Yet.
So you get the idea.  Next time, when you're working on a character background, keep in mind the themes that are way overused and move away from them.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised as will the rest of your party.  After all, characters aren't defined by their strengths but by their weaknesses.

By the way, this is my 200th post.  Huzzah!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

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 Adept
  • Human Technomancer
  • Pixie 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 for free in their PRD.  I really wish that were the case for Shadowrun.

I need to keep on reading and rereading the Shadowrun books to get the rules down.  There are a lot of specialty rules to keep track of, and I can tell that the guys are going to need help.  I guess I better get used to lugging all my books to the game every week.


I cam across some new pregens that might be handy:

I think we'll also be using chummer a lot:

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: