Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Allowing Class Abilities to Leak into Other Classes

Last night was our usual game night and Rusty's character went through trails so he could finally reach 5th level. Which is good because now I don't have to carry his slacker ass any longer. Anyways, his class of mage has this ability to deflect magic. Being a different class of mage I want to learn that ability.

The discussion that followed was that I would need to switch classes and become a dual class character. Or they would put my character on the higher xp chart. Or as I suggested allow me to learn this ability at a lower level.

I'm not interested in switching classes. If this is the price I would chose not to learn the ability. Being placed on a higher xp chart would be doable, but I would want to learn the ability at the same level then. Or if the Gm decided to allow me to learn this magic shield at a lesser ability then I would be cool with that also. Anything Rob decided will be fine by me. We will discuss it later on this week on how to approach this.

This is some of the things I like to do to push the class abilities a little and in turn it helps Rob develop his campaign world. He always listens to suggestions. I don't want to do anything that will screw up the balance of his world. I just like to see what areas I can expand my character into.

Curious to hear what others have done in this situation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Way Out?

Some players just don't learn. I'm one of them. At times. Recently we had our first character death after charging into battle against two black dragons. In one way we were lucky they were not too old. We were able to buy some time by Rob, the GM. allowed us to use our web spells to engulf the dragon's head. This bought us one round both time we did it. Rusty's guy failed his saving throw and was reduced to a pile of ash. At the end we did get a nice sum of loot, but wondered how we could have handled it differently.

First off, Rob's Wilderlands is a brutal place. Battle is often the solution especially dealing with critters. The original intent of our journey was to trade a rock for books so we could trade the books for a few magic items. As we approached the gnome home we were goblin charged. Sleep spells made short work of them and another group of goblins were scorched by an awesome fireball from yours truely. When we got inside the gnomes were a bit miffed that we killed our their goblins. Who knew. Once we flashed them our rock they didn't think much of it.

After the trade we went outside and that's when we encountered the dragons. They wanted to know who killed the dragons and Dwayne admitted we had. Well that made them mad. That's when the fight started and this is where I was thinking if there could have been any other choice. The gnomes had locked the door behind us. The dragons were infront of us and didn't see anyway we could have avoided the fight.

I took the approach of hit it first and hard. We were able to defeat the dragons, but that could have been three pile of ashes instead of one. I don't think the dragons were in much of a mood for talking. It was just one of those situations where I would have liked to have avoided, but I don't believe there was any other way. In the end we were able to bring Rusty back to the land of the living, a bit more wiser.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Experience for Death

On pages 85-86 of the 1st edition DMG under the heading of Special Bonus Award to Experience Points there is a small notation about a character who dies and is brought back to life earns 1000xp. I mentioned the rule to Rob last night during our game after one of our members was reduced to a burnt piece of toast and he never had heard of it.

I always liked the idea for these types of weird one time experience point awards. Repeating the same event will yield no addition experience. Here is a short list that I can think of while I am still blurry eyed.

- returning from the dead: 1000xp
- exploration of a site: variable lower
- unusual magic item*: variable higher
- overcoming obstacles such as traps or locked doors or puzzles: variable lower
- researching or learning about a culture: variable lower

* for magic items I only give experience points to unusual items that have some sort of special power. There is not xp for +1 or +2 weapons, especially in a high magic campaign. If the sword be a +2 troll slayer than xp will be awarded. With weapons at +3 and above xp is awarded. Potions only provide xp, like the weapons, if some extraordinary potion is found.

Mostly I wing it at the time. Mostly if it feels like the situation or item should earn experience than I pull a number out of my wazoo.

I would be interested to hear from others if they award this type of experience and if so what they give it for.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pilgrimage to the Warzone

Saturday, Rob (Bat in the Attic) and I went travelled to the mysterious city-state of Eerie, built upon the shores of a massive lake from which the city-state took its name. Knowing the reputation of Eerie of allowing the undead to roam the streets unfettered, we slipped into the southern edge of the city where the merchants gathered. Disguised as locals we found our first stop, Books Galore. We'd heard the merchants were giving away wares. And so they were. I managed to get a six sided die with the engravings of the event on one side and also obtained information left behind by a Pathfinder to warn us of the Master of the Fallen Fortress. The merchant became suspicious when we did respond to a praise given to the local gods. Luckily, others seeking the merchant's wares allowed us to sneak out of the merchant quarters and slip out of the city-state.

The next leg of our quest to us the brutal barony of Cleave Land. There we traversed the well worn roads of the barbaric land until we reached the infamous cave called the Warzone Matrix. It had been nearly a year since we last found the notorious cave and amazed by the treasure inside. Although we came away with our favorites last time, this time we were prepared to explore thoroughly. Again. there were so many treasures, but our backs could carry only so much.

The first trinket I collected was tome of Dark Folk unveiling the secrets of the foot soldiers of evil. Then high upon a shelf, among the thick dust I uncovered a sheaf of pages that describe various Country Sites where creatures could be found and conquered. I quickly slid it into my bag and continued to search the mounds of tomes. A soft bound, peculiar looking book, I swear its cover is made of kobold skin, tells of Sages & Specialists. There were three such books so I took the least worn. The final volume was expansive, one I owned, but needed a cleaner more concise version of A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe.

We'd spent too much time searching the cave and the native ogres awakened from the deeper sections to begin their night's hunt. After two close calls, Rob and I managed to escape once again, although Rob suffered a minor wound. He tried to reason with one and learned never to attempt to speak with a hungry ogre. Our trip out of Cleave Land needed to be quick. Our time on this quest was quickly depleting.

The third leg of our journey found us at the Temple of the Golden Star. There Rob and I were able to relax and with some of the silver remaining in my pouch I decided to purchase a few more interesting items. I'd heard much of the Swords & Wizardry book and Adventure Design Deskbook, both exquisite copies to add to my collection. After the purchasing the wares, Rob entertained us with a story about adventurers, bandits, orcs and a lost elven village. When the fires burned low we parted ways promising to return.

The last leg of our journey returned us home. Exhausted and satisfied, arms heavy with our treasures we parted ways. The day, the quest had been a success. Though it was good to explore the strange realms it is always best when I return home and share the stories over a warm meal with my wife.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Starter Adventures is Here

I finished Starter Adventures. It's a series of eight very small one or two encounter adventures to help teach someone the basics of the game. I wrote these after gaming with my wife for the first time. So a big thanks goes out to her. Let me know if you have problems downloading the file. This is the first time I've attempted this so I am sure I screwed something up.

Download Starter Adventures here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Old Man in the Tower Trapped in a Room Burning Books

GM - Rob "the big d20"
Sarenvald - Rusty "the Beaver Master"
Oelander - Dwayne "kick in the door"
Ashling - Me "the lode bearer"

Last night another session ended in dramtic fashion. First off we found the 3rd circle of mage tower thing. It was across a river and I am not fond of getting wet. After talking to the ferry man we discovered the old man of the tower was taken over by an evil old man of the tower. Everyone in the tower thought the old man of the tower was dead, but wait, nope he was not. And they ferry man asked us to save him.

Problem, all the rest of these circles were empty. So we plundered to our hearts content. These guys still had their names written in their underwear. So we agree to save the old master from the bad people.

At first we devised a couple of plans to get into tower. We opted for a more direct approach once we got inside. I cast hold portal on some doors where most of the guards were on the other side. Monks went scurrying. These monks are not the masters of kung fu, but rather they print very nicely. So we chase a few up some secret stairs. Hit a fairly large group of resistance. Two sleep spells and one crossbow bolt from Rusty and D and we were moving on.

Next room. The evil old man of the tower stood in the middle of the room with a few of his faithful plus and imp disguised as a raven. I fireball them. I'm glad it wasn't the library room. Everyone goes down. Big guy is still slightly alive, or almost dead if you prefer.

Go through some weird rooms find the old man of the tower, the good one, standing over a pile of books he just set on fire. We weren't the bad guys. I had a few words with him. Now we agree to get him new books. We knows where they are and already have the black rock they want. So we are heading for a trade.

On our way there, we camp and get attacked by a Verdian (or demon). After a interesting combat D finishes him off Robin Hood style. D tried to flay him because he liked the magical tattoos. That's didn't work.

That is where we ended it. I am now 6th level. It was a good night.

Monday, June 14, 2010

GURPS, its not just a noise

I've probably played in more GURPS games than any other system, maybe even combined. I like the system for many reasons, the main one is the character detail. I am all for having a character who can specialize in skills beyond their perceived class (which there are GURPS). The 4th edition of GURPS has sped up combat that in 3rd edition could take up an entire session. Not because it being complicated, but rather two skillful warriors with good armor.

I've heard a lot about GURPS being difficult. I disagree. If you want it to be it canbe. They have rules for nearly anything, but like most systems you use the ones that best suit your style of play and enjoyment. I've heard making NPCs is a long process, but I use basic information and if needed fill it out later. When creating monsters I don't need to know if this goblin is good at woodworking, just defences, attack skills and armor.

GURPS has the best suppliments of any system for my money. Consistantly excellent. I've got a ton of them. The greatest weakness is their lack of support for adventures and a monster manual. With the releases of their Dungeon Fantasy series has been welcomed. Some of them I really enjoyed while others I didn't have much use for. But it gives me hope that they are still producing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free RPG Day

Free RPG Day is coming around next Saturday, June 19th. I've been a big fan of this since two years back when it got me reinvolved in gmaing again. This year I haven't heard much about it yet so I hope that isn't because of lack of interest. There are 15 sponsers slated to participate on the website. That's up from 12 sponsers from last year.

Please click the link and check it out and see if there is a store participating near you.

There seems to be a lot of good stuff to choose from this year. I'm looking over the list and not sure what I will be targeting. And yes, I will bring my wife with me so we can grab one or two more items. Then I may buy her those dice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Medieval Torture's 10 Biggest Myths

I found this while I was looking for a few things on the web. Thought is might be of interest. It's better than the top ten worst/best lists.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Henchmen Advancement

A player will often times gain a henchman or two along their adventuring career. These henchmen often get frozen in time. Although they will get hand me down equipment from the adventurers, their level often remains the same. What are a player and GM to do?

I like Hackmaster’s system of allowing the player to ‘give’ their experience. The henchmen doesn’t need to be present for this to happen, but can absorb it through a player’s retelling. At other least this way a henchman can advance, but at the sacrifice of the fan of the player, which I am not a fan. But it is an interesting alternative and I am sure someone more inventive than me can figure out to get this to work.

Another way for henchmen to advance is to do an hourly study or training system. This many hours of training equals this many experience points. This allows the professional type henchmen to advance their skills without having to risk their necks fighting trolls. A simple math formula can be created (plus a gp cost).

The other way is have the henchmen do dungeon delving with you. When players do this I usually give the henchmen one share of the experience. If there is a party of six characters that have a small group of henchmen go with them I split the experience seven ways and then the henchmen experience is divided equally among them. It’s a slow advancement, but at least they are making progress.

If you have any systems you use or suggestions please let me know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Group Dynamics

Rusty had a blog that discussed the importance of players' compatibility. There are so many ways to answer this, but for me it boils down to 'can I have fun with this group'? If the answer is yes than any system you play will be a good time. If the answer is no I consider why I don't like the group dynamic. It is one person? A few of them? Maybe it's the GM. I've met some GMs in my time that I couldn't stand to game with them because it always became this personal competition. And lastly I always consider the idea it just might be me. The group may be perfectly fine, but I might not fit in for some reason. Who knows. People are weird. Gamers are the weirdest.

When Rusty came into our group a few months ago I knew he was nervous because our group had been gaming for 25 years or more together. It didn't take him long to fit in. We have a casual group. Dwayne is more the rules guy who likes to grow a power base for his character. I like to find an organic path for my character to follow and hopefully help Rob discover a part of his campaign he'd never flashed out. In our current game we are letting Ken take the lead as to where we are going, but the tactics and approach we use are being dictated by Dwayne. I try to play support for both roles and also develop my own storyline when possible.

This kind of cooperation is necessary when you have a party. One member will usually have the spotlight for part of the session or more and the others need to affect this as they see fit, but without talking over everyone to hog the spotlight. I haven't run into this for a long time, but I think that's more of the gaming people I run into are older and just looking for a break from everyday life. We just want to spend a few hours hacking away at some orcs.

If the players are fighting about real life situations and having it affect the actions they take in game then the game will go nowhere and no one has a good time. I've seen people come to blows after one player killed the other's because he went out with a girl he'd been seeing started seeing the other player (those damn women are always the biggest trouble makers). I never went back to game with that group. No reason to. Even though I was never involved in the arguments, I never had fun.

But I'm glad to say the group we have right now is a ton of fun. We laugh a lot and roll like crap. And that's why I play the game.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rusty's Got a Brand New Blog

From the Rusty Battle Axe:

Yes. I'm back. You'll find my new blog, The Rusted Edge of Knight,

Thanks to Tim for allowing me to post a few things here at Gothridge Manor.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Day of the Owlbear Started it All

Last week I had a glorious vacation and scored a ton of gaming stuff. To start off I got an email from Alex that I had a $15 voucher to Otherworld miniatures and I should contact Richard Scott (this is still left over goodness from the one page dungeon contest). I thought I'd just won the Rune Dice, but he said I had also won the voucher. So I ordered the very cool owlbear. Then I went to the post office and my third in the Kingmaker series was there, The Varhold Vanishing. A lich cyclops anyone? Great start to my vacation wouldn't you say?

Then I went to a game store I only get to visit once in a while and bought copies of Pathfinder's Monsters Revisited (This was the book my wife read while I shopped. She didn't know what a bugbear was and started reading more. That was the night I had her go through a few scenarios), I got the Gamemastery Treasure Chest and the box set of Tunnels and Trolls. The manager threw in a starter deck of the Batman Trading card game. Nice looking cards, they were free, but have no idea what to do with them.

Then when I thought I'd scored plenty I got a 40% coupon from Borders along with a $5 coupon off any item over $20. Well Borders has 4th edition D&D and that's pretty much it, but I'd been looking at the 2 DM Guide. Now hold on. Stop throwing things. It is really a pretty decent book. There are some stat blocks (which will make me put a book back on a shelf quicker that the plague) but, it focuses more on the different philosophies about build and adventure and building encounters. So far I've enjoyed it. That said I would have never bought it for the sticker price of $35. I got it for $16 something once all my coupons were totaled.

So as you can see I've been up to my eyeballs with new gaming stuff. Plus, Rob (Bat in the Attic) wanted to try out Runequest and last night we had an honest to goodness sit down around the table, roll real dice game with Dwayne who is in between moves. In his blog he goes into detail about what happened, but man that is one bloody game. Body parts were everywhere. It was a blast, but I doubt we will use that system again. Initially our enemies were supposed to be baboons and ducks. Really? Rob changed them into goblins and halflings.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my wife's blog. You made her day and it won't be the last you hear from her. We have standing plans to buy her, her own set of dice. Something preferably in an orange, yellow or pink. She is thinking of new gruesome recipes to use in game and I plan to use them somehow.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My First Adventure (My Wife's Retelling of the Game)

Hi Everyone. I’m Tim’s wife and during our vacation we hit the gaming and comic book store. That’s where Tim got me my Wonder Woman mug – only the best super hero ever. He also got a gaming book about monsters. I write fiction and it’s loaded with zombies, goblins and ghouls. But I’d never heard of a bugbear or a few of the others. So I read through the book of monsters while he looked about.

When we got home that night, we played my first game. Tim taught me about the dice. I wanted orange or pink but all he had was puke green, so we went with those.

Also, I wasn’t thrilled about having such a dumb character but Tim said that being a cleric, I needed more wisdom than intelligence.

He tells me, “yeah your character is dumb but you’re also wise.”

I just looked at Tim and I probably made a face that only a wife can make toward her husband. So he explained further.

“It means you’re not smart enough to build a fire, but you’re wise enough to know not to stick your hand into the fire.”

That didn’t make me feel any better about my character.

The first half of the game went something like this. I roll, Tim rolls, I roll and this goes on and he talks super fast. Kind of like an auctioneer, only he’s shaking dice in his hands and rolling. “Okay you rolled a three, now I gotta roll better than that. Six, I go first.”

He rolls for the goblin’s attack, claps his hands and smiles and loudly says, “Natural 20.”

So I think I won something. Maybe more intelligence only I learn that my character (Diana Prince), has a long way to go before she can get smarter and after that, I learn that when the DM rolls a natural 20 that doesn’t mean I win a prize.

Instead, I died. Which I didn’t appreciate.

So we play again. This time an adventure to save a little kid, which I got to thinking, hey, if the kid is stupid enough to play in goblin territory, maybe we ought to just leave the little bugger there.

Not an option, says the DM.

Then Tim asks me what I want to do. I say, “I don’t want to go in the woods and get killed. I want to go back to the village and get help.”

But DM vetoes my idea and says there is nobody left at the village because they all went shopping for new armor.

Okay, fine. But I still don’t want to go after the boy so I ask Tim what he would do if he were me. He says he wants me to figure it out for myself.

(insert wifely huff)

I roll. Apparently not only is my character dumb, she can’t roll worth a squat.

So we go after the little bugger. Meanwhile his parents were pretty much worthless and so I made them go first. Bam, Dad takes a hit. DM rolls and now Mom is down.

I’m pretty aggravated by now because not only am I terrible fighter, the parents remain lifeless. And I’m all alone in the woods with a goblin and a kid I didn’t want to save in the first place.

Tim rolls and claps even louder than the first time, “oh, natural 20 again.” He smiles across the table and says, “do you know what the odds are of two natural 20s in a row?”

Apparently pretty good because now I’m dead. My only hope at this point is that the goblin eats the child.

We play one more time. This time I’m told I must bring a healing potion to a man who lives in the woods. I’m into natural healing, so this sounds like my kind of adventure. Until I see two small goblins fighting over an axe. Not only am I a terrible fighter, even if I could get a hold of the axe, as a cleric, I’m not allowed to fight with it, so explains the DM.

At this point, I’m not sure what to do. I didn’t want to be dead again so Tim advices me to sneak up behind the goblin that isn’t looking and bop him on the head. The little goblin goes down. But the second one doesn’t go down as easy. I’m slightly injured.

DM asks, “what do you do now?”

I say, “I take the axe -- that I’m not allowed to fight with -- and chop off one of their heads to take with me, along with all their money and anything else they have of value.”

I’ll say one thing about living with a gamer. If I know anything, it’s that you always loot the dead body for gold pieces and other valuables.

I’ve also learned that it’s not important what the loot is, it’s just important that you get it first.

Now I have the decapitated head, the gold pieces and the axe. Time to locate the man I’m supposed to heal.

Only when I get there, he’s already down on the ground, holding a beaded necklace in one hand and the other is covered in blood. Add to it a ton of noise coming from inside his cabin.

So I’m thinking this probably isn’t going to be good but since I’m only an eight intelligence I don’t really know for sure.

I put the head and axe down and do the healing spell, which was pretty cool.

DM asks “what do you do now?”

Well, apparently I’m not that bright either, because I wasted a detect evil spell when I could have just looked in the windows.

However, I did come up with the idea to give the severed head to the healed man and have him stand outside the door with it – teasing the large goblin.

Then wham, I knocked that big-ass goblin on the head with my bat, picked up the axe and chopped his head off.

That’s much better.

So I ask Tim, “can I take these heads and make boiled head broth to use as a potion for healing people who are attacked by goblins?”

He says, “yes, but your character isn’t smart enough to know how to do that so I’ll have to send you to someone who can teach you.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Until the next adventure, this Diana Prince logging off. Thanks for reading :-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boiled Head Broth or Gaming with My Wife

This week my wife agreed to roll up a character and go on an adventure, or as she puts it 'its like a little play'. Wife Rule #1, let her pick out her own dice because she will want the pretty ones. Wife Rule #2, another reason to let her pick her own dice is that she can't balme you for her crappy rolls later. Or maybe she can. I heard about her 8 intelligence all game long 'you made my character dumb'. See picture of character sheet.

She wanted to play someone who could heal and fight a little. So I explained the cleric class to her and she chose to go in that direction. We were playing a variation of Swords & Wizardry. I let her choose two first level spells, Cure Light Wounds and Detect Evil. I did a quick explanations of the spells and then we were off to shop for her character. She seemed to enjoy this process. Then I did a quick tutorial of what dice were what.

Before I go any further my wife would like everyone to know I did not provide full disclosure, so I was the reason she died on her first adventure. I was not allowed to use a GM screen because she kept calling it the 'cheater screen'.

"How do I know what you rolled?" asked the wife.

"You don't. Sometimes a GM needs to make rolls in secret." I answered.

"That sounds like cheating. You can say you rolled something when you didn't," the wife accused.

"Yes, that does happen. It's called fudging. GMs do it to enhance the game sometimes. I don't do it though." I tried to explain.

"Sounds like cheating. If you get to see my dice rolls I get to see yours."

So it came down to a game of if you show me yours I'll show you mine. So the GM screen went back on the shelf.

Her first adventure is was built around a boy who had gone missing. This is where I I failed to fully disclose. I had trouble explaining all the options she could do. She kept asking what I would do and I encouraged her to tell me what she wanted to do and we'd figure out if she could do it. During her time tracking the boy she came to a section of the woods where she didn't want to go in. She wanted to go back to the temple and get reinforcements, but I wanted her to handle the situation on her own. Rewind to the shopping phase, she rolled enough money to get a suit of plate mail and a shield, I praised the protection they provided and how hard it would be for her to get hit. Fast forward to the woods again. I had the boy scream to give a sense of urgency so she didn't go back to her temple. She burst through the trees and saw two goblins teasing the boy who was tied up to a tree. A short fight ensued. Goblins rolled two natural 20s killing her character (bet she would have liked me to have fudged those rolls now). She was not happy about that and blamed me for her character's death.

The second adventure had her delivering a potion of healing to an ailing woodsman in the forest. This time she encounter two goblins she snuck up on them and whacked one and killed the second before they got to attack. This is where she asked 'can I cut their heads off?'. Since they were fighting over the woodsman's axe I said sure. She said she wanted to make boiled head broth. She wanted to make healing potions from the broth to help cure people who were damage by the same creatures. Very cool idea. I slipped that one into my develop later file.

She found and healed the woodsman unconscious in front of his cabin while a goblin warrior tore apart the inside. She later learned the woodsman had found a bracelet near a large treestump. After devising a plan and killing the goblin warrior my wife in true gamer fashion, looted him, chopped off his head and kept the bracelet.

I few things I got from this, one that there weren't any (at least that I know of) very short adventures to start someone on to learn the basics of the game. So came up with 8 different starting adventures for a new person to learn on. I'll be posting the PDF later this week. And two, I like that boiled head broth idea. Three, let your wife pick out her own dice.