Monday, October 27, 2014

Rise of the Immortals: All Points East

Dear Torin,

I hope this letter finds you well, as I was unable to check in with you before leaving.  I have been named a member of the Lords Alliance of Magnimar and been sent by the mayor with the others to check out lost contact with Fort Rannick.  I fear evil has taken another stronghold there.

I have been named heir to the Foxglove Estate and it has been added to our party's expanding holdings.  It is good to be in business for the days ahead when I no longer wish to collect knowledge in the world but turn to times of studying secrets from books.

We have stocked up here in Magnimar and plan to head to Sandpoint to check in on Bold Intentions.    I own an inn there now too, and I wish to check on it, as well.

From there we cut across the plains to catch the ferry.  In a couple of weeks we hope to reach Turtleback Ferry and then head on to Fort Rannick.  I fear what we may find.  Still, my blade and crossbow are as  fast as ever, so I think we will fair well.

Regards,

Llarm Blacksword

P.S.  If you happen across my sister, please tell her I love her.  And should anything happen to me, tell her to take my holdings in the business as her own.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pathfinder, D&D, d20: How to Stage Large Battles

I don't know about other GMs, but I like to end epic campaigns with epic battles.  Sure there might be a big bad that the the PCs need to take out, or a dragon, or both, but have armies fighting in the background just makes for a cool final battle. It also is a good plot point to have throughout the campaign -- building up allies for the final showdown.  However, how does one GM a large final battle?

The problem is simple to understand.  If you use the same mechanics that you use for normal battles, you will never reach the end.  The mechanics just weren't built for this many characters in play.  Instead of running the battle with a character vs character level of detail, you need to run it with a group vs group level of detail.

To do this, you group allies and enemies except for special NPCs and PCs.  A typical group can be from 5 to 12, though more or less may work depending on the overall size of the encounter.  Each group takes and does damage together.  Allied groups are each assigned a PC that directs them, while the GM runs the enemies.

Dealing Group Damage
Groups can attack other groups or even a single character.  Group damage is calculated as an expected value.  For example, if a group of 6 wizards is going to cast a fireball for 6d6 versus a group of fighters, the fighter group is going to take 6 x 6d6 damage.  Generally on this scale of battles, saves against area spells aren't going to work since multiple area effects on going to hit at once, so we ignore the save. (A fighter dodges one fireball to jump in the path of another one.)  Roll 6d6 and multiply by the number of attackers.  In this case I roll a 22 damage, so the fighter group takes 132 damage.

In the case that there is a normal attack, we use a formula for expected damage based on the crit range of the attack, the damage of the attack, the crit multiplier for the attack, the attack bonus for the attack, and the AC of the target.  Damage reduction can also be applied directly to this value.

E{damage}=Phit*Mdmg+Pcrit*Phit*(CritM-1)*Mcrit,dmg

Phit = Probability of Hit = (20-(AC-Attack))/20; Min of 1/20, Max of 19/20

Mdmg = Mean Damage =(Max Damage + Min Damage)/2

Mdmg, crit = Mean damage that is multiplied by a crit

Pcrit = Probability of a crit = Crit Rolls / 20

Crit Rolls = the number of sides on the d20 that result in a crit (so 17-20 would be a crit roll of 4)

CritM = crit multiplier

The expected damage is the damage that one character does against another character per round on average, so multiply this by the number of attackers, and you have damage from an attack per round for the group.  This may seem slightly complex, but it is easy to set up in a spreadsheet, and because pairings don't get changed often in a group, it will get used over and over. Keep the expected damage and multiplier for number in the group separate, since some of the group may be killed.

There may be cases where it isn't really straightforward how to calculate expected damage.  In these cases calculate maximum and minimum damage and take the average.  Then estimate the probability that this damage will hit taking into account whatever complex mechanics there are.  Get player agreement.  Multiply the two and you have an estimate of expected damage.  This will be good enough, even though every detail may not be properly expressed in you estimate.

WARNING:  Generally armies don't worry about individuals, so you normally shouldn't have groups attacking PCs.  The condition when this changes is when there is something big and bad that warrants a group response, like a dragon.  Remind your PC of this before he or she polymorphs into a dragon in the middle of battle, or the player may be very surprised by what happens.

Groups Getting Damaged
A group that is getting damaged loses members based on total hitpoints.  So for example, if we have a group of gnome alchemists getting hit by 147 points of cannon fire, we need to look at the HP of the alchemists.  In this case our wimpy gnome alchemists have only 33 HP each.  As a result, 147/33 number of gnomes are killed, which is 4 dead gnomes with 15 damage remaining against one gnome.  This 15 damage can either be tracker or can be dropped, depending on the GM and player's wishes.

As a result of this mechanic, the groups will dwindle in number as they are hit.

What it Looks Like in Practice
Here's what a stat block for each group looks like as you are keeping track.  Of course, behind each group there should be a full character sheet to grab AC, attacks, equipment, spells, and etc from.

Group A Elf Rangers
Attacking Group G
Number: 8
Expected Damage vs G (Longbow): 12
HP Each: 34
Remainder Damage: 6

Group B Tengu Sorcerers
Attacking Group 3
Number:  5
Expected Damage vs E (fireball): 14
Expected Damage vs E (magic missile): 12
HP: 14
Remainder Damage: 3

In terms of logistics, the GM is keeping track of this for the enemies (usually fits on a notebook page or two).  The GM is probably running the expected damage spreadsheet as needed.  The PCs are keeping track of their characters and the groups they are directing.

Calculating the initial expected damages and changing them does take a moment, but in return for this small expenditure you can easily have hundreds of characters "on the board".

Miniatures
When playing with miniatures, there are a couple of simplifications you can introduce.  First, you use only 1 mini per group.  Second you can add both a group letter and a number left to each group mini, so someone looking at the board can tell what is going on.  A small post-it note works fine for this.

Endgame
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to play the battle out to the last man.  Once your NPC BBEGs have been killed (or alternately, all of the PCs.  Oops!) and the army has killed over half of the opposing army, there is a good chance they will start into retreat.  Let the winners hunt down the retreating army if they wish.  You can even make this a plot point that leads to another battle when their backup troops arrive.

Experiences
I have used this method several times.  Here is an example where a high level party got attacked by 72 goblins.  We ran the encounter easily in one 3 hour session despite the number of characters involved.

"Friday Night Pathfinder: Goblins" Link



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

15000 Pageviews Reached

We just hit 15000 previews. Woohoo!

Rise of the Immortals: Finishing off the Brothers of Seven

Torin,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I am unable to check in with you until we've cleaned up all of our most recent mess.  We have uncovered a cult responsible for the recent murders and killed their leader, a vampire who was holed up in the old Shadowclock Tower.  I am unable to share much more about the situation, as certain people involved were charmed and are people of power.  They, luckily, were happy to have our assistance in escaping this evil plot.  I think our efforts have also went well enough that I shall be named heir to the Foxglove Estate which will be managed by our company of 4.

I need to search our knowledge base on a ring I have acquired.  With each use, the ring speaks to me.  It steals away my own energy to negate spells.  I am somewhat fearful that it may at some point unleash something best left out of our world.

Regards,
Llarm Blacksword.

When Bards Fight


Monday, October 20, 2014

Advice for New DMs / GMs: Clear, Communicated, Static Rules

I always see new GMs asking for advice, so I wanted to put some discussions out there specifically targeted for new GMs.  This one I thought should be first because it is a mistake that a lot of GMs make and never outgrow.  Some folks will tell you that the GM is always right, and perhaps even that this old adage is rule 0.  We can talk about rule zero in a different post, but here I want to address the problem with the GM being always right.

If a player engages in a game, there is a social contract between the GM and the player.  A big portion of this social contract is the rules.  As a player, I want to know the rules up front and not have them change during the game.  I want to engage in the game both outside the gaming session where I am growing my character on my own, and in the gaming session where I am growing my character with others.  If the GM either does not clarify the rules or simply overrides the rules at any whim in game, the rules contract is broken.  This means that the player no longer can kmow what to expect, nor can they plan for it, because the rules aren't fixed.  To be effective, rules must be clear, communicated, and static.

New GMs often get sucked into worries of overpowered characters and min-maxing builds.  They find a better player has a better character than everyone else so they nerf it.  They may even see people as breaking the game because they too easily succeed.  There is talk of players needing punished.  As a result these new GMs start house-ruling things.

Excessive house rules from a new GM is usually a result of a combination of things.  1) They don't understand the rules and so their players are making illegal actions.  2)  They don't know how to play the enemies.  Each class, monster, and scenario has an optimal way of being played.  If they aren't played that way, the encounters will be severely underpowered.  3)  They don't understand the controls on the game.

The bottom line is that the GM needs to understand the rules of them game.  If a player is running a character of a configuration that the GM is not familiar with and it seems overpowered, the GM needs to become an expert in that configuration for the next session to make sure the actions are correct and legal.  The GM needs to study up on the enemies he runs so they don't become used improperly and thus useless.

The final piece is for the GM to understand the control he or she has in the game.  The GM controls every encounter, every bad guy, every plot point, every trap, literally everything but the characters.  If one character is overpowered, use these controls to balance it.  Build in encounters to exploit the weakness of the min-maxed character.  Make conscious decisions about who is going to be attacked, if you need to.  Let the enemies' knowledge of above average character work to the advantage of game balance.

The summary point is that there are a lot of options of how to control the game outside making rule changes during the game.  Strive to clearly communicate the rules up front and try not to change them unless you really need to.  It will make your players a lot happier.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Balanced Encounters: Ranged / Reach Gauntlet


Sometimes the melee fighterss become too much of a certainty and the rogue just starts losing his cautiousness.  The solution I use for balancing things and giving the party a challenge is a ranged / reach gauntlet.  The setup is pretty straightforward -- give the party someplace they really need to go.  They could be escaping a dungeon, saving a princess, running from a dragon -- it doesn't matter.

They come to a hallway / section of tunnel / section of castle walkway that has an area they can't get to on each side.  I prefer using iron bars, but a steep change in elevation or other terrain, physical, or magical barrier will work.  To make it through the obstacle they have to run past the area that they can't get to it.  In this "safe" area is a group of enemies with ranged weapons or reach weapons.  The enemies can hit them, but they can't hit the enemies unless they have a ranged attack (or reach weapon).  The longer the area they have to run past, the more enemies, and thus, the more damage they will have to endure.

Often this seems like the big moment for rangers and casters, but if you put enough enemies, you can make it so they can't kill them fast enough.  A sure-fire RAW way to do this is to use a bunch of low-level CR enemies with bows.  Orcs stand out as a good option.



The obvious choice once you get enough enemies stacking up against them is to make a run for it.  If the territory is hostile, the trapfinding rogue should be the man out front or right behind the man out front.  The problem is he can't find traps very effectively on a run.  At the end of the enemies just entering the safe zone on the other side, put a trap or two or three.  It doesn't matter if they are easily detected.  Make them very dangerous but easy to see.  If the rogue finds them, he'll hold up the whole party while getting shot trying to disarm the traps.  If someone else finds the first trap, they will learn about traps the hard way.

Now I don't recommend whipping this encounter out just anytime.  This has a great potential for TPK if used improperly.  However, when put in at the right time, it can be a load of fun (for the GM) and can really retune the party back to real dangers and the real mix of skills they need to rely on.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Four Gods

Gladriana's voice quivered with her age as the wrinkles on her face reinforced the seriousness of the words as she spoke them.  I was a curious little boy there, listening intently to her words.

When the world began, there were the four gods, and no others to vie for power.  They ruled over all but each other.  They came together and split the world.

The God that Swims took the waters and ruled over the oceans and seas.

The God that Flies took to the air and ruled over the skies.

The God that Walks took to the land and ruled over the continents.

But, the final god, the God that Crawls, saw no part of the world left for him, and so he crawled deep within the world and made a new world.  The God that Crawls made dark lands beneath and in his anger towards the rest of the gods and their worlds, he made all sorts of creatures that would be the bane of the others in the world that flew and walked and swam.  And, in his own time, that god, the God that Crawls, planned his vengeance against the others, a time when the monsters that crawl would take all of the world.

The words rang again in my mind as I remembered the telling of the tale when I was a child.  Gladriana was long dead.  The village tellers had long stopped telling the tale of the four gods.  Now they spoke of the new gods, the living gods, the gods whose avatars came to this world, who gave clerics power, and paladins purpose.

But here, now, I stand before a Tarrasque, perhaps some 200 feet or more in length as we mine around its corpse.  These creatures of normal size cannot be killed, but it is dead.  It is a hull of a once magnificent god-like creature.  A tarrasque half this size terrorizes the world when it awakens; this one would have ruled all the lands.  Is this, perhaps, the God that Walks?

I wonder what we have yet to discover.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Rise of the Immortals: The Brothers of Seven? (Spoilers)

Torin, My Friend,

I am writing this in case anything bad happens to me, I want to have it known what was really going on.  I cam to Magnimar not just to check in, but in pursuit of a conspiracy of strange murders stretching from Standpoint to here leaving nearly 30 dead.  Foxglove is dead by our hands, but he had turned, and we found him mad in the caverns under the Misgivings, a ghast set on death, and on a leash from some group here.  We know now the group as the Brothers of Seven.  Xenesha is connected to Foxglove and the Brothers of Seven, but we do not know how, why, or even who she is yet?

Tonight while investigating the Foxglove townhouse we were jumped by mercenaries paid to find and kill us.  We killed one of them.  If it comes to it and you need protection or a witness, you can find the other working in our factory in Standpoint as a guard.  He is loyal to us now.

In the townhouse, where we barely escaped from nearby guards, we found a contract linking the Brothers of Seven to ownership of the Misgivings.  I have suspicions that Justier Ironvar, the old pale elf prosecutor, might be linked to the things, so we do not dare pull in the authorities here.  We are working under order for Sheriff Hemlock in Standpoint, should someone need to know that.

The note we found has pointed us to a Sawmill on the island here in Magnimar.  We go soon to investigate it.  If I do not return, take this information to the Sheriff Hemlock in Standpoint.

Your humble servant,
Llarm

P.S.  Tell the dwarf that the Brotherhood of Seven is performing the Sihedron ritual.  He will know what to do.

Yes, so we got to Magnimar tonight and things went well.  I am surprised how much technical difficulty we still have with Roll20 malfunctions (or is it the browser) and connection issues.  Teamspeak3 for my earlier game still seems more solid that Skype for chat.  Odd.

Port Wayne Revisited: The Creature Hunt

So Sunday afternoons I have a new crew gaming my cyberpunk path homebrew for Pathfinder.  Here's the new party:


  • Bob the Pilot, Sylph
  • Kip, Kitsune Techniker
  • Thelx, Human Hacker/Pilot 
  • Amzi, Zed Gunslinger (Overkill Gunner)
  • Indi, Human Rogue
The party starts out doing whatever and gets a message to meet spinner in the Cold Tube.  It is a creepy retro hacker bar that attracts only hipster retro hackers and old timers.  The security equipment looks like Uvoid junk yard with animatronic camera eyes watching for trouble.

Once inside, the crew meets with Spinner.  Amzi folds her legs and listens, getting stairs from the regulars.  As a Zed, that is the way it goes.  Most Zeds, an insectoid-like race from a crashed spaceship, stay in their compound for good reason.  They can just barely speak a humanoid language.  They also tend to be hunted by researchers and insect haters alike.

Spinner gives them the lowdown... a creature loose in the ground floor needs taken out for the coucil.  The pay is $10k a piece.  He'll text the details.  The party is in, hands are shaken, and Spinner is gone.

The party gets the text.  16th floor. The party checks out the info and info online and they track down indications that it is a manticore.  Unfortunately, the only info they can find on a Manticore is a bit myopic, involving a voodoo ritual of unsettling proportion.  The party decides shooting first and asking questions later is the way to go.

They get down to the location.  Bob is driving a 3 wheeled car with Kip on the passenger's side and Indi in the back.  Behind them, Thelx is driving an old pickup truck and Amzi is riding in the back.  Amzi's legs don't work too well with regular seating.

They scan the area.  Thelx is driving and stopping to check security cameras.  Finally the creatures finds them, jumping onto the hood of the car and biting into it.

The party is firing from position except Thelx who runs across trying to get closer with a clear line of sight.  The creature takes some damage, but Thelz gets hit with spikes from its tail.  Everyone has a gun going except Amzi, who has three in action.

The creature flies back up and takes position on the second story roof of a building, gaining some cover from the building.  The party kills it.

Then it becomes apparent that the party was just shooting at an occupied building.  They go in through the door and scare the crap out of those waiting inside. Eventually the party techniker rigs up a puller system to lower the creature into the pickup truck and they vamoose.

Spinner meets the party back at the bar, takes a pic, pays thems electronically, and is on his way.  Unfortunately Indi is blabbing about the new kill to a couple of car gangers from the bar and mentions that he thinks it is worth quite a chunk of change.

The group arranges to take the carcass to a fence to sell it off.  Unfortunately on the way there, the car gang makes its move, surrounding the group with 3 large trucks (cement truck, garbage truck, and a box truck).  5 armed men are making the move on them.

Thelx gets an old man in a nearby pickup to start backing up.  Bob gets into the cement truck's systems and sends it hurling into the garbage truck, both clearing the way and taking out two bad guys.  Bob accelerates out of the situation, striking one more bad guy down, and barely dodging the old man backing up just enough to only get scratched.  Amzi looks over the top of the truck, takes aim with two guns, and blows another bad guy away.  The one remaining foe hops in his truck and gets out of there.

The party heads the remaining few blocks to the fence.  He waives his normal finder's fee for the info on the salvageable trucks.  He is so pleased, in fact, that he takes the manticore body and pays the team on the spot.

The team made $20k each on their first outing and didn't die.  Next time they will be level 4 and we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Character Maps: Mapping Character Growth rather than Character State

Ask a player to show you their character and they will hand you a character sheet.  Ask your player to describe their character, and they will tell you the same thing the character sheet says, perhaps in interpreted words, maybe with a picture or a small but of disjointed history.  This static view of the character is really contradictory in every sense of playing a character, since so much of the story in an RPG is the growth of a character.

I've tried to do something like this before with Pathfinder.  The problem with Pathfinder is that there is a lot going on in the rules and it is hard to capture everything in a short form.  It could be done in software, but I've never found any software that did it.  Even working through a progression to meet the simple requirements for a prestige class can take a lot of work in Pathfinder.  Planning over levels is hard  Trying to capture the full progression of a character in both stats and personal growth is unmanageable.

With the introduction of such a streamlined ruleset in D&D 5e, it is now very feasible to capture a character as a path of growth rather than just a snapshot of state.  I am including an example below for my 5th level Eldritch Knight Llarm.  In this graphic, I describe my level 1 character.  Then at each level up, I describe why Llarm is growing in the direction he is.  In some cases this is just the nature of the character.  In other cases, this is driven by events happening in game.  Together these elements show both the states of Llarm and the growth of Llarm throughout the game.

The Growth of Llarm

From this diagram I can see how Llarm's background and the choice of Eldritch Knight fit together.  I can see why he takes damage spells as cantrips and utility spells as level 1 spells.  I can see how war caster, shield, and second attack all feed a growing obsession that Llarm has with protecting his party (now his friends) by charging in head first as a meat shield.  I can also see that in the future Llarm may want to take more social skills as a feat, because he wants to learn to lie better.  I can also see how his curiosity and arcane background mesh in his new goal of finding out how to become immortal.

From a  purely statistical point of view, I can see that Llarm is using a shield and a rapier because of his high dex, and he is focusing on using warcaster with the arcane touch cantrips for melee.  Firebolt and his crossbow also give him ranged options.  This fits will a desire to due good damage but maintain some flexibility.  Shield also should give him a very high AC with light armor and a shield as a reaction, giving him a lot more confidence when going into melee with a big bad.

Most interestingly is that I could share this as a character with another person and they would be able to build Llarm at all levels up to 5.  I have not only given them a snapshot of the character, but the whole character.

I hope that as software builders are looking at the next generation of character builders, that they give us this type of view and interface.  I think being able to plan and share the growth of a character over levels is far more useful that just being able to share a snapshot.  Maybe even, someone could even build an RPG with this in mind from the start.

Rebuilding Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Spoilers)

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is a solid adventure outline, but has some possible shortcomings (ref1, ref2, ref3 ).  The adventure is a bit of a railroad as outlined, the maps are difficult to use for groups used to battlemaps, and it just really doesn't have the unique details that other adventures have had.  However, as a GM, reading the adventure was a real treat because it has enormous potential.  In many places the characters have an enormous abundance of choices that can influence their success or demise.  It just needs to be rebuilt a bit for my style of GMing.

I am planning on GMing this as my first D&D 5e adventure.  It's going to be a roll20 game.  My hope is to drag this adventure into a form that represents the tactical complexity that is available while adding opportunities for new plot paths through the adventure.  I also want to clarify the motivations available to the PCs a bit, so the adventure feels like a bit less of a railroad.  At some level, all adventures that I run are sandbox adventures, so I'll be preparing for that, as well.  (Someone is going to want to go to one of the other cities that isn't mapped out, I am sure.)

The first major overhaul I am doing is a complete revamp of the maps.  The maps in the book are available for sale, so I won't be making mine available other than in large thumbnails -- I don't want to take away from the original artist who has digital versions forvery reasonable prices.  The Greenest map is getting tossed out completely in my game.  I am also putting together a series of overland and battlemaps to allow me to capture both the gross tactical decisions and have closer encounters.

My maps clearly have a different feel that the original maps.  I believe that things should first be built for a reason, then other people may take over them for their own purposes.  I have a major problem with Greenest being a town on a trade route that has no defenses.  As much warring that goes on along the Sword Coast and as many dangers that lurk in the wilderness, I don't think these townsfolk would come along and built a town that can be so conveniently destroyed.  I replaced Greenest with Grievance, a new town on the river surrounded with walls, gates, watchtowers, and with a castle in the center.  After all, towns are going to thrive where there is protection.

My little town of Grievance.

Similarly the hatchery in my maps is a set of caves without the improvements in the original maps.  I limited improvements to adding tunnels.  If there are steps, I think they would be made of wood.  This, after all, seems to be a temporary outpost; it isn't a fortress to be maintained for years.  There are other places for that.

Another major plot point I am correcting right off is that the adventurers will be living in Grievance, not just passing by.  I might even give them some free contacts in Grievance.  I feel the PCs need to feel the deadliness of the attack first hand and understand the consequences directly.  One of their contacts may even be taken and give additional motivation for tracking down the culprits.  Alternately, a dying PC might be dragged off by the cult.  These things give the PCs motivation no matter who they are or what they want.  Hoping that first level PCs wandering by on a trade route will jump to help a town under dragon attack is a major plot hole.

So that gets my revamped version through 3 chapters.  I still have some additonal plot points to work out, and certainly need to revamp NPCs a bit, but I think it is enough to get it underway soon.

In closing, I want to say, that every adventure is just an outline for a GM.  Running a premade adventure requires some fiddling to make it fit with your party and your style.  Don't feel bad when you do this -- it doesn't reflect on the quality of the original product.  If anything, there must be a solid foundation there, if a GM is willing to invest the time into customizing it.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Port Wayne: The Drop

The VW pipes were singing until a bad shift let out a puff of smoke and a shutter.  The Dub in the front seat turned his head and opened a yellow smile at me.

"No worries man."  He drew out his words.  "She is just a little tempermental, but she'l' get us there."

I coughed.  I preferred the clean air and silent hum of an electric, but there are no electric taxis around the ground floor.

There was a loud thump as the suspension bottomed out.  It was the first ramp down.  I looked out the window as the old VW gripped the corner tightly.  You couldn't watch a viewscreen in one of these old beasts while taking the turns down -- you'd vomit all over yourself.

The engine wound up again as we hit flat ground.  There was a smell of musty dirt in the air.  Up ahead, I could see one of the robotic tractors running operations.  It was turning over the grass into the soil and planting new.  It is the only way to grow soil this far underground.

I looked around inside the vehicle now that we were going straight.  It was weird not having viewscreen windows.  They were just clear unadulterated glass.  I reckon the inside used to have a proper interior, years ago, but it was long since rotted away.  Instead the bare metal was covered in macrame made from old newspapers, back when such things really were papers.  Someone had chosen the pictures carefully, intently, but I don't know how.

Buildings were coming into sight now.

"Here, down to the left, on the left."  I said to the driver.

The car swerved, tires chirping ever so slightly.

My eyes were open.

"Take the alley just past there."   I said to the driver.  I pulled my hat down tight.

The street was empty except for a woman with a bag of groceries and a man in a old brown suit.  He was headed towards The Vintage Inn.

I ran my hands down my sides.  My pistols were in place and loaded.  I threw the pack over my shoulder as the taxi grinded to a halt in the alley.  I pushed a button on the side of my sunglasses and the money for the ride transferred with a small tip.

"Thanks to ya." yelled out the driver as his head tipped down at his small account screen on his dash.

The alarm went off on my MoD and the message flashed on my glasses:  "Vintage Room 213".

The backdoor at the Vintage was still key card controlled, even though no one even used key cards anymore.  I pulled mine from my pocket and swiped it.  There was a beep and a click and I pulled the door open.

I didn't like the way my shoes felt on the carpet as I walked down the hall.  There was some odd kind of friction in old thick carpet than made feel like I was perpetually falling down.  The hall was empty and I grabbed the stairway door.  Every step sounded the whole distance of the stairwell as I made my way up.  The door was marked with a giant red 2, like someone would need to read it.

Into the hall and there were more signs, though my glasses were already feeding me the directions and floor layouts as I went.  213.

I stopped a few steps short and flipped my eyes over.  Was there one person in the room?  It looked that way.

I knocked, standing just to the left of the door.

"Who is it?"  As I jutted my jaw out for the word 'it', I heard the crinkle of a bag from the end of the hall.

Some people call it an instinct.  Other people call it a hunch.  When you are a punk, falling to the ground and grabbing your guns, you call it a necessity.  Two shots rang out over my head as my guns aligned with the lady with the bag of groceries from the street.  I knew there were no grocery stores around here.

The bullets connected and she was knocked back, hitting the glass window, and falling through it.

"Slick." I said to myself, realizing that only the old windows of the Vintage would do that.  I knocked at the door again and gave the password for all clear.  "It's the cat's pajamas out here."

I heard a chuckle from the door as it opened.  The old ball-headed fence I used for this type of thing found it amusing, me nearly getting shot.

"I can't believe I got to hear you say that."  he chuckled again.

I handed him the pack and waited.  He peeked inside and walked into the bathroom.  A "Kaching" played through my MoD as $20k appeared in my account.  I immediately hit the button on my glasses to transfer it on.

He walked out.  "Nice doin' business with you again."

"Yeah," I replied.  "Call me a cab, will ya."  I heard an "Okay" muffled by the door as I walked away.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rise of the Immortals: Technical Difficulties

Our DM tonight at intermittent internet connectivity, so we had a short session, just long enough to finish off the Misgivings by taking out Foxglove (the Skinsaw man?) and a couple of ghouls and some other creature.

Level 5!  2 Attacks per action and 4 if I use my Action Surge!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Port Wayne Revisited: Starting Again

So we had the first meeting of my Port Wayne game today.  of the 7  players I originally had lined up, we ended up with the 3 original players and one new guy.  It irks me when folks sign up and then drop with no warning.  Grrrr.

So the party looks like it is going to be the following:


  • Human rogue "Indiana Jones"-like character
  • Zed Gunslinger Overkill Gunner that talks little and likes to shoot things and blow things up
  • Human hacker with rogue flair
  • Technik (new class coming) that creates and uses technology
I am excited.  I am looking forward to getting the game going. 

If anyone else wants to join, drop me an email or a comment here.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Getting my Pathfinder Cyberpunk Campaign Started

So, things are coming together for my Pathfinder cyberpunk campaign.  I've gotten 2 documents out so far to my players, and the third goes out to players this week.  Here's what my players are getting for the campaign:

Setting Guide for Port Wayne (51 pages)

  • History
  • Culture
  • Geography
  • Locations
  • Groups
  • People of Interest


Cyberpunk Path Rules (171 pages)

  • 5 New Races
  • 2 New Classes
  • 18 New Archetypes
  • 3+ New Skills plus New Interpretations of Old Skills
  • 41 New Feats and Traits
  • Rules extensions for Cyberpunk
  • Almost 20 pages of new Equipment
  • Rules for building, equipping, and upgrading robots, vehicles, and android bodies
  • New Computer building rules
  • 29 New Spells
  • Sheets for building Cyborgs, Vehicles, Robots, and Androids
Cyberpunk Prebuilds (59 pages)
  • 35 prebuilt vehicles with full stats
  • 18 prebuilt NPC contacts with stat blocks
Since the rules are an extension to Pathfinder, they can also use everything in the PRD except the Technology Guide and Mythic Adventures.  I have also chose to restrict races to core races plus the 5 cyberpunk races in the guide.

All of this started because I found the Shadowrun 4e rules too complicated and then they switched to 5th edition after I had gotten all the books.  My look through cyberpunk rules for Pathfinder were very disappointing so I decided to write my own.  The rules themselves could probably be adapted to all sorts of scifi / futuristic fantasy adventures.  Vehicles include space vehicles, so I suspect space adventures wouldn't be a big jump.  One would need a new setting for either post-apocalyptic or space campaigns.

Some of the material was tested in the campaign back in Fort Wayne before I left.  We'll see how the new campaign goes now that I have polished things a bit.  It is rather depressing though, since there is only two pieces of artwork between all the material.  I made them myself though.

Maybe someday I will "finish" this project and publicly distribute it.  Its just out the door, and I have already found the need for at least one more class.  Still I don't really want to think about licensing details anymore than I have to right now.  I would like to see my players have a lot of fun playing all sorts of interesting characters in all sorts of interesting situations.  My cyberpunk game has always been my favorite, mostly because I find it is the game I improvise for the most.