Sunday, November 29, 2009

Citadel by the Sea

One of my favorite features Dragon did back in the day was to include adventures in the center of the magazine. Sorta like the centerfold. One of the adventures that stood out for me was the Citadel by the Sea designed by Sid Fisher. It appeared in issue #78 and won 1sr place in the module design contest, category A-1. It combined many of the classic elements without being cliché. Orcs barricaded within a ruins of an old elven fort with a couple of dungeon levels beneath. Mix in some undead, an evil half-orc cleric and an orcish artifact and you got yourself a wang dang doodle of a party. What I appreciate the most about this adventure is the simplicity and the progression of the adventure.

This adventure is very adaptable. How difficult is it to place that setting/situation into a campaign? I have used it four or five times, with small changes. It became a stronghold for one of the players. He tried to capture some creatures during his expeditions to stock his own dungeon and found it was easier to kill the critters than subdue them. There is plenty of room to develop the area for a micro setting, a seed for a sandbox campaign. The village of Awad could easily be mapped out and some of its inhabitants are already detailed. The area has a history that could be altered, but even if the GM decided to use the background it can easily be adapted into an existing campaign.

If you have issue #78 (it's a pretty great one) than dust it off and take a look. I was fortunate to find the first 250 issues on DVD a few years back. There were many great modules tucked into those pages and this one always seems to come back to me. It's like a great late night horror flick you've seen it a dozen times. It's just as good twelfth time as it was the first time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Advocating for Planned Encounters

So you've strained your wrist rolling on random tables, for random encounters, random contents in a chest, random villagers a villaging, random names of said villagers, random monsters and provide random treasure for them. It makes my wrist sore writing about it. I am not against random tables at all. They can provide an unexpected twist for the players and GM and let's face it, they are fun.

My soapbox rant today is about doing the work ahead of time. There are blogs after articles and comments about random tables and short cuts. I will admit I do not use random tables too often, especially during a game. Where I use random tables is during the creation of the session ,to get inspiration and creating a quirky juxtaposition of two items I would have never thought of combining.

In my games, if I feel the players are having an easy row during the adventure than I select an encounter from a list, not random ones, created ahead of time to help kick the challenge level up a notch. The only time I will use random tables during a game is if the players are camped in a certain area for a time. This allows me to give each encounter a depth a normal random encounter would not have. These encounters can become significant to the adventure.

Since random encounters have a wide following I thought I would be the advocate for planned encounters.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Go Hunting

I haven't felt like blogging much lately. I was on vacation this week and figured I would pound out a dozen entries, but that never happened. I've been taking a short hiatus from it. One large reason was Modern Warfare 2 came out this week and I've been having fun swearing at the TV since then. I went to the midnight sale and there were two to three hundred people in line. I was surprised. This is not a large town and to see that many standing in line got me more excited to play it. I won't go into the internet problems I had. That swearing at the TV was not so fun.

Seems like my batteries are recharged and I am ready to get more involved in my work involving gaming. Complete some of the billion and one projects I start and never finish. Then I go onto Ebay. Dangerous place. With my renewed buzz for gaming I come across this lot of 19 new Hackmaster Books for $60 bucks with an additional $12 for shipping. Well slap my ass and call me Betty. I've always wanted to take a look at Hackmaster and now I pretty much get the glut of the game in one shot. At the game store I go to all the Hacklopedias are half off and even then those are $10 a piece. So now I wait by my PO Box twiddling my thumbs, thinking of adventures and how to hard it will be to convert my other adventures into this system.

Now I am all set to head to the gaming store in Erie. I'm going to go look at some products and see what they have available. Look at the Hackmaster list of books and see what they might have that is not included in the list. I like going to a gaming store with a purpose. I'm going hunting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GM Rulings

There will be times when a player disagrees with a GM's ruling. My view is simple. If you think the GM is wrong make your case briefly. If the GM overrules you then that's it. Discussion over and move on with the game. To give an example of a situation that happened recently a GM stated that the players could not see at night in the desert. A player argued that with starlight he could. Both argued about their personal experiences with the same or similar situations. The argument boiled until it was decided to postpone the game for another night. In this case I believe the player is wrong. This is the GM's world based on his experience.

I'm not talking about the times when a GM ignores, disallows or is inconsistent with a rule. In such cases the player has a valid gripe. What I am focusing on is interpretations or laws of the gaming world. If the GM decides you cannot see in at night in an area or you cannot swim across a fast moving river than you can't. Use your imagination to get around the problem or solve it. Don't let the problem ruin the night of gaming. We get precious few as it is.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Ugly

Some may argue that Unearth Arcana was the bane of AD&D. I liked having something new introduced into the game, especially the weapon specialization. The classes were nice, but we'd always played with the new classes introduced in Dragon Magazine. But what I liked a lot and thought was necessary for the game was the Comeliness attribute. I don't like the name. It should have just been named Attractiveness.

In AD&D and most fantasy games, Charisma tries to cover that area, but it does a poor job. It's a simple addition and only costs the time of an extra roll. Can Charisma influence appearance...absolutely. It can assist in reaction modifiers when dealing with similar races, henchmen and trying to convince the town guards it wasn't you who burned down the tavern. And now DMs could answer the age old good looking is the barmaid? I know some old schoolers out there are shuttering at the thought of another attribute, but I never saw how it detracted from the game, but added an interesting aspect to it.

I'm curious as what other think about adding Attractiveness as a seventh attribute and of they have used it in their game.