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Showing posts from October, 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

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…

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

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 t…

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 mo…

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 t…

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 …

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, SylphKip, Kitsune TechnikerThelx, 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…

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 intro…

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 adventure…

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 i…

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 characterZed Gunslinger Overkill Gunner that talks little and likes to shoot things and blow things upHuman hacker with rogue flairTechnik (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.

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)

HistoryCultureGeographyLocationsGroupsPeople of Interest

Cyberpunk Path Rules (171 pages)

5 New Races2 New Classes18 New Archetypes3+ New Skills plus New Interpretations of Old Skills41 New Feats and TraitsRules extensions for CyberpunkAlmost 20 pages of new EquipmentRules for building, equipping, and upgrading robots, vehicles, and android bodiesNew Computer building rules29 New SpellsSheets for building Cyborgs, Vehicles, Robots, and Androids Cyberpunk Prebuilds (59 pages) 35 prebuilt vehicles with full stats18 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 t…