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Showing posts from January, 2015

Ebberon and Westeros: The High and Low Magics of Deception and Trickery

Ebberon and Westeros seem like two sides of the same coin, with all of the deception and trickery underway to take the throne.  Oddly, though, even with the major differences in technology and magic, the two continents have decided to settle their disputes the same way, with armies.  Of course, in Ebberon, some of the armies were built rather than rallied.  And then there is Cyre.  What can I learn from GoT to use for my new character in Ebberon?

Do not continue farther unless you want to endure spoilers for the entirety of GoT through season 4.

So why do the ways of Westeros not result in the same blood spent throughout Ebberon?  Magical security is the answer.  Any King can have scrying and antiscrying, can have doubles and triples of himself in changlings, can have care watchers checking for trouble and poison.  In Westeros, the plots succeed, in Ebberon, they fail.

Armies still thrived in Ebberon, because armies are the way to change the will of the people as a whole.  Kill many of…

A Dark and Stormy Night: The Beginning of the Drednaught Campaign

So our new 5e party consisted of:

Anders -- Halfling RogueElmeren -- Wood Elf DruidLesh -- Half-orc BarbarianWIlliam -- Human Paladin The party starts in the woods outside the town of Grievance somewhere between Greenest and Beregost.  A squall blows inland from the sea.  Lightning strikes are everywhere and the individuals  sought shelter.  Lesh is the first to find an old tomb built into a hill.  The old stone doors had been blown open by lightning.  Inside he found an empty, but dark stone room where he started a fire.
Slowly over time the other three appeared, fleeing close lightning strikes and taking refuge during the storm peace around the fire.  Some looked around but could not decipher old runes in the faded stonework along the ceiling.  3 sets of double stone doors stood strong.  Lech tried to open one set, but it was no use.
After a while, as the waters from the storm dripped down into the old stone structure, pools of water formed in the back corner.  Apparently a rat nest …

Be A Better GM: Roll Dice Less

Any GM humbled by experience of session and campaign desires to become a better of GM.  If there is one lesson we can take from new systems like Numenera and foundational systems like Burning Wheel, it is that RPGs are not about rolling dice.  They are about great storytelling.  In this segment we are talking about strategies for rolling less and DMing better.

First let's look at a little math.  Assume we have a 5% failure rate for something, which is equivalent to rolling a 1 to fail on a d20.  Make just one roll, and we have a 5% failure rate.  However, make the same player roll that four times, and they now have four times the chance of generating a failure.  The basic principle is simple, making a player roll more than one increases the chances of failure.

This leads to all sorts of problems when people alter mechanics.  Do you want to have a critical failure mechanic?  Now you characters that can roll multiple attacks (i.e. your BETTER characters) now have a higher rate of cr…

The Struggling Paladin: Another Interesting Paladin to Play

We brushed over an interesting code that can be used for playing a paladin in our "Paladinic Philosophy 101: Another Way to Play a Lawful Good Paladin Without Being Lawful Stupid" segment. This paladinic code-based paladin is interesting but still lacks some of the element of growth we might really want to explore with a paladin character.  In this segment we are going to consider "the struggling paladin".

Paladins, like nuns and priests and other spiritual folks, are real people.  Real people have their faults and their struggles.  Priests and nuns and paladins can mess up with both their deity and the law just like anyone else.  They can pay the price like anyone else.  In the case of the struggling paladin, we pick a vice that becomes the paladin's daily struggle.  This struggle will sometimes force the paladin outside his normal bounds, and he will maintain some sort of daily atonement to try to keep himself forgiven for the mistakes he or she makes.

Possibl…

Port Wayne: The Backups

Some notes from Sunday's Port Wayne game:

Thelx got kidnapped by Draven, a local gangsterDraven wanted the backups from the space station in exchange for Thelx.Eula made a fake backup drive with "realistic" dataKip rigged the place with explosives in the tool shed and did recon.Once inside for the meeting, Draven showed the crew a video of the station exploding and another station moving into its position.Draven had the right computer for the drive and the test failed.Draven left while his henchman engaged the team.In the ruckus, involving guns and grenades, the team was able to locate Thelx.Everyone escaped relatively unscathed.Spinner confirmed that only WHY knew about the mission, so it is hard to know how Draven found out about it. A bit of a new story started... The party got cryptic texts setting up a meet.The meet was at the dubs camp.There, the party found a large obsolete computer in a truck, running part of the R-AI-L-OR AI.The AI had been rebuilt and let loose o…

Shadows of the Last War: Entry to Darguun

A journal entry from Merek on hid adventures in Ebberon:

More now than ever I need to keep track of things.  There are so many things afoot, that it is hard to remember it all.  I'll keep this journal in code so no others can read it unless I give them the cypher.  It is too important to have anyone pick it up and read it.

The trip on the Lightning train was a fiasco.  After being attacked by assassins we found ourselves in a train car covered in blood and with one lone nobleman scared to death.  Luckily our disguises held.  We ended up pulling the emergency break and making a run for it.

Wroat was full of rumors and by our next train stop there were wanted posters for our disguised selves.  At some point, I think I shall have to disguise some bodies the same and turn them in for reward.

We made way on towards New Cyre and then Kenrun to get our excavation banner for "safe" passage.  New Cyre left me feeling very alone, with no Gowens to be found.  I guess all the rest o…

Professor R. B. Magick's Mobile Emporium of Arcane Wondries

Professor R. B. Magick stands nearly 6 feet tall with his high heeled black boots, and seems taller with the brightly colored silken garbs that hang loose from him.  He makes a point to twirl often to allow the bright colors to dance on the air about him, as if he himself were magical.  His voice dances similarly as he speak, using all of his bardic knowledge to inflect and sing the words for maximum effect.  He is mostly a salesman and he sells amazing magic items and surprisingly reasonable prices (half book prices) before moving on to the next town with his brightly colored mechanic contraption of a sales wagon.

Every now and then, though, he takes a detour through an unknown alley in a city he'd rather not mention.  This alley is where the rejected magical items from the local mage school get dumped for disposal.  Unfortunately the fence is not so high that it can't be climbed and the incinerator furnace is not run so often by the groundskeeper.  The Professor finds his ma…

Dragon vs Apache Attack Helicopter

A Good Laugh for a Friday

If you get a chance, wander over to Out of Context D&D Quotes for a laugh.

My favorite quote so far, which might closely resemble a certain explosives-happy Cyberpunk player of mine:

"Bullets might have someones name on them, but 20 kilos of ANFO is more (of a) To whom it may concern"
-- A particularly philisophical street samurai

Yup, you guessed it right... ANFO is a fictional explosive.

Sunday Cyberpunk Pathfinder: Port Wayne Revisted -- The Restart

We restarted the Pathfinder Cyberpunk campaign on Sunday and the group was well underway in getting themselves into trouble.

The current party consists of four interesting characters:

Amzi -- Gunslinger (Overkill Gunner) Zed (instectoid)Kip -- Kitsune TechnikerPisha -- Half-elf Bard (Face) / InvestigatorThelx -- human hacker The game started out with their pilot being eject out an airlock (player left the group).  Still, there is a skeletal young dragon to tend with, a security gun in the room with it.  There is a pounding at the door adjacent to the party of 3.  Inside the party finds Pisha, locked in for some 40 hours now.
The party dispatches the dragon with a couple of well-placed fragmentation grenades.

Thelx then lead the party back up to the main deck so he could signal WHY Corp on the station status.  Within 2 seconds of the status report, a 15 minute self-destruct was activated on the station.

The local AI started interacting bizarrely with the crew, displaying knock knock jok…

Sunday Night: Shadows of the Last War

I officially started a new campaign tonight in Ebberon.  The party consists of a female tiefling fighter/warlock, a dwarven fighter, a warforged wizard, and my character, who will introduce himself in a bit.  The campaign started out in Ebberon and follows the Forgotten Forge as an introduction but quickly got off track into the new sandbox campaign.  Our GM did a wonderful job dealing with out shenanigans.  I'll let Merek tell the rest.

I am Merek Gower, an average purveyor or music but an excellent purveryor of stories.  You used to find me most nights in the Broken Anvil, an old tavern buried in the Mason's Tower of House Ghallanda.  I earn enough coin here to pay my way, though I am always looking for other opportunities.  It's in my nature -- I grew up on these streets in Sharn and had to learn them myself.  My mother was a refugee from Cyre and she didn't know this place.  She died here when I was very young.  My father, well, he was never in the picture, though I…

The Binary Star System: Being Pulled between Pathfinder and D&D 5e

The last few years have been good to us as gamers.  We saw innovative new games (Numenera), we saw innovative remixes of our old D&D games (13th Age, DCC,), and we saw the emergence of better versions of our D&D heritage (Pathfinder, D&D 5e).  The unfortunate outcome of this is now being pulled by the gravity of systems.  Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 and D&D 5e are both wonderful gaming systems and now it is hard to figure out what to play.

D&D 5e is the elegance of simplicity with 3 books of material that weaves together in a balance that has not been seen in a system in a long time.  It is the new shining jewel in the WoTC crown that will be bring forth new content, new options, and a whole new generation of gamers.  If you are new to D&D, this is where you are going to end up.  And, it seems, there just aren't enough experienced DMs to meet the demand.  Though the material hasn't been perfect to date, it is just going to get better and better.  Forgotten R…

House Rules Expanded: Two More Things to Consider

Sly Flourish posted "Four Principles for House Rules" and it is clearly a good view to start with for house rules.  These four guidelines pave the road to good solid house rules.  I just wanted to throw in a couple of key points that might fall under the "Keep it Compatible" portion.  These warnings hopefully can help to avoid the road to hell paved with good intentions in adding house rules.

POINT 1  Understand The Side Effects on the Core Mechanics
Side effects are a big problem when adding new rules to the game.  Side effects the unexpected consequences of a rule that can result in potentially game-breaking scenarios.  Here is a good example of a good house rule with a nasty side effect.

I ran into this house rule recently that required all character actions to be stated at the beginning of the round.  To change that action when your turn came up, you had to make an INT or DEX check.  The intent was clear -- to speed up combat.  However, the results were slightly…

One of My Favorite Modules: A Dark and Stormy Knight

A lot of people ask a lot of the same questions over and over when it comes to gaming.  How do I get my characters introduced to each other?  Where can I start my campaign?  What module should I use for new players?  For all these questions and many more, I offer my perfect answer:  A Dark and Stormy Knight.

This module has been around for a while and was released for free in a D20/D&D 3.5 converted form back in 2005.  The premise is pretty straight-forward.  The group of travelers get caught in a storm and have to make for a local ruin.  Now, as a DM, I could spin this 100 different ways depending on setting -- a sandstorm in the desert, a snowstorm in the cold North, a lightning storm on the plains or in the woods.  In all cases, the travelers are stuck in the same place.

To draw the party together, there are things to experience, things to discover, things to fight, and fortunes to be had.  The best part is that it is only around 8 rooms.  This could easily be a quick starting …

2014 Review and 2015 Resolutions

2014 Has been a pretty sucky year for me.  I've been down with a back injury for most of the year, often so bad I couldn't even sit in a chair to game online.  I've had my Pathfinder horror campaign completely crash and burn.  I missed the end of the Rise of the Runelords campaign again.  I had to shut down my Pathfinder cyberpunk game after only a couple of sessions because of a relapse.  The local comic book / game store shut down too, and I've had no luck finding a local gaming group.

There have been some positive points in 2014.  D&D 5e turned out to be a big surprise, and with the rumors of an OGL-style license coming, this could be the version I've been waiting for.  I also got a solid start on my Pathfinder cyberpunk rules and supplements, including my cyberpunk world.  My cyberpunk stuff also grew into a new space setting, starting out as a how-to envisioned novel.  I ended the year with a bang for coming up with two new caster classes -- a mana caster …