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halloween

For Halloween 2016 I wanted to do something special. After an eight year run of weekly gaming, we have recently been reduced to a series of monthly game nights, split between dnd and board games, due to some people moving away and others getting busy. It is getting harder and harder for me to get my dnd fix, so on these special occasions where we have a chance to play for 4 or 5 hours, I like to make the night unique and memorable.

Last month, we had a game night that corresponded to the Release of the Middle Earth Players Guide. I came up with a short adventure that involved a fellowship, travelling on a journey, and the exploration of a Wight’s Tomb. Not to spend too much time on that episode, it is worth noting that the game was fun and that middle earth roleplaying with official licensed Dnd products is now possible, entertaining, and worthwhile. The rules otions seem solid.

My favorite part of that episode, after half the night was spent making characters, was when they came across an ancient battlefield and stumbled into the tomb of an elf who was killed by an Orc’s cursed sword. I had been reading stories about some hideous idea to dip bullets into pig’s blood prior to shooting Islamic terrorists so as to keep them out of heaven or something. Anyway it gave me the idea of this cursed orc sword. Whenever it strikes an elf, a sliver of the metal is lodged in the elf’s body, so that when the elf dies, they do not go west, but their soul is trapped in the world as a ghost, or poltergeist (can’t remember which stats I used.) So After millennia of being trapped, the elf ghost has gone mad with interminable pain and attaks all who enter. The PC’s had to figure out what was wrong with him and save him while he tried to kill them! They were able to remove the sliver and end the elf’s suffering…. Which promptly caused the barrow to collapse, nearly crushing them all! Good times.

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But that was last game, what have we done lately? Well, this time I gave into one of the player’s most requested type of game – an evil campaign! This was going to be the game night for Murder Hobos to finally get a chance to shine. In the past, the character have done some pretty nefarious deeds, but always with the thinnest pretext of not being evil. Well, this time the gloves were off, and the characters had a requirement to choose one of the three evils for their alignment: chaotic, neutral, or lawful. On top of thet, we pre-made the characters before game time so as to minimize prep, and I broke another cardinal rule of my own and allowed the characters to start at fifth level rather than first. This may be the first time I have ever allowed that, and it seems to have worked out.

The premise was sweet and simple. Each character had a chosen demon lord patriarch, and they were being sent to the world to refill their master’s armies of darkness. Every kill that each PC made would go directly to that demon’s army. Kill stealing, backstabbing, and any other nefarious activity were allowed and expected.

To get up to the world from the underworld was not so easy, however, and for the opening scene, the character found themselves stuck in a force field around a pentagram, having been summoned by a snotty and inexperienced drow wizard to do his bidding and assassinate the scion of a rival house. The drow mage would only release them if they agreed to his quest, and would be unable to harm the wizard while on the quest – standard Geas fare. The perceptive character however, noticed a few flaws with the set up. They discovered that a stalactite had made the force field imperfect, and that 40 simultaneous points of damage would destroy it.

Destroy it they did, in a surprise assault on the force field. It broke under pressure of the combined attacks of all five characters. We then rolled initiative and the character focus fired on the wizard, taking him out before he even realized how doomed he was. Ironically, the five basic drow mercenaries who were with the wizard, passed a morale check and put up a really tough fight. They used a little bit of focus firing themselves, and reduced the bard to single digits.

Then the necromancer pulled 8 skeletons out of his bag of holding, and they began to whittle down the drow with arrows, but not before they got in a few licks against the wizard, who also went into single digits. He became alarmed for his skin, so he leapt into his own bag of holding to escape the punishment! The nearest drow scooped up the bag of holding and dropped it into a nearby cauldron of burning oil. (I am evil like that.)

The battle was won before the wizard burned up or suffocated (because I am not evil lie that) and the bard decided, grudgingly, to give back the bag of holding he just found and release the wizard.

The characters peeked out the door the were in to find themselves in a drow city. It is a suburb of the main drow capital, called Melanie Bonet (which is a shout out to Moorcock’s Elric and his corrupt city of Melnibone.)

The city is ancient, and it is formed by eons of stalactites dripping down to form narrow alleyways and streets between long tall walls of stalagmites. They immediately encounter a group of drow children playing the fun game of “Last One It is Dead,” and one of the drow kids makes a mistake of provoking the warlock, who blasts off a head-exploding spell. The drow children run off with their little knives, and cause no further problems.

They are walking through a poor section of the city and come across a diseased elf who begins coughing, releasing spores. The warlock is infected by Zugtmoy’s spores, but the rest make it safely through the quarantined area until they are stopped at the gates by four more drow warriors, with spears and riding giant lizards. The battle went well and they made it out of the quarantined district, and that is where we left off for the night.

We played a game called Secret Hitler afterwards, which I am incurably bad at. I just cant be sneaky I guess. It was a great game night, so much fun after a month of no gaming.

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The hunting lodge

The hunting lodge

This weekend we finished off the Hoard of the Dragon Queen with a great gaming session. But as in all good things in life. let us begin with the menu – mega salad. It was a delightful salad made of 4 different heads of fancy lettuce, salami, mini pepperonis, cheddar and feta cheese, hard-boiled egg, olives, and other healthy vegetables; with a choice of Italian, Ranch, or Blue Cheese dressing. It was good and good for us, and a break from our usual weekly diet of fat, grease, and carbs. (Nothing wrong with a good fat burger, slavered in grease between two thick slabs of carbohydrate.) Once fed, we got down to the gaming, and as this was an epic adventure ending session, we prepared for a long night.

The night started with the Crew barging in on the major domo of the Hunting Lodge. Surprising the players, she welcomed the erstwhile pillagers as guests and potential business partners. They made a deal. During the deal making, after much cajoling, pleading, whining, and asking for more more more like baby birds when mama bird comes back to the nest, the cultist gave in and gave them each a greater healing potion. (I think that is where they got those from…)

Then we took a short break while the characters leveled up. It is uncommon to level up in the middle of a session and it really added to the excitement of reaching the epic conclusion, even though it did add to a later night than usual. Afterwards, the party made their way to the cultist village where the fortress was docked, shrouded in mist. They met a friend in the village of otherwise nefarious cultists and got a little more info about the flying fortress. They decided they would sneak in amongst the last wagon-loads of treasure and make their way to the cloud giant in order to turn him to their side.

Once on board, they correctly guessed the location of the giant’s chambers, and met and befriended him. He told them of the main villain on board- Rezmir in his chambers on the lower level, and across the hall a pair of Red Wizards of Ki-Rin. The party then commenced to slaughter first Rezmir and then the wizards in a quick series of intense battles.

With Rezmir dead, the party wizard took the Black Dragon Mask, while the barbarian took the hilariously sentient and evil two handed sword, which did and will result in epic hilarity. Next up, the party made their way down into the belly of the ice castle, and came upon the lair of the white dragon.

Apollo the White Dragon

Apollo the White Dragon

The dragon began the battle hanging from the ceiling where he unleashed his cone of cold to great affect. Every character was knocked down in hit points.

Then furious battle ensued. The dragon leapt to the floor of the lair in order to pound the party with tail slaps and wing buffetings. It was incredibly affective and every member of the party had to use their greater healing potions to remain standing. The dragon leapt back to the ceiling, accepting a few opportunity attacks along the way, in order to blast them once again with his icy breath. This time it knocked out every character accept the wizard who (as usual) was trying to remain as far from possible from the threat of danger and successfully made his save, negating damage instead of halving it due to being hidden in the passageway.

This led to the last round of combat, with everyone knocked out except wizard and dragon. The dragon was dripping large globules of blood onto the icy floor and the wizard knew he had a chance. He brought to mind the biggest most powerful spell he knew and unleashed it on the dragon in hopes of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat. Three silvery magic missiles launched from his finger tips hit the dragon in its icy heart, killing it instantly.

Great adventure, great finale, and a great kill by the wizard. White dragons have always been my favorite type of dragon. White is my favorite color, I love the cold and snow, and I love underdogs, which in the dragon world, white dragons most assuredly are. When I was a kid still learning to be the great DM that I am today, I had a white dragon epic finale, and in it, the white dragon )from 1s edition) was flying back and forth strafing the party with its breath weapon until only the ranger-thief was left. It dove, planning on flattening Chris Stevens character into the cavern floor, but Chris’ character had a long spear and managed to “set it against a charge” before the dragon struck, impaling it for triple damage and killing it.

It is always fun to fight and kill dragons. After 7 levels of chasing them, the heroes finally got their chance, and they pulled it off in dramatic fashion. It was past 11 when we called it a night, which is quite late for us, but we kept the thrill going through the roller-coaster ride to the end. Next week we are taking a break before moving into the Rise of Tiamat, the conclusion to Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The reason for the delay is because we are having a painting party to coat some of the 300+ miniatures I received in the mail this week.

Reaper Bones Part 2

Reaper Bones Part 2

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The hunting lodge in Hoard of the Dragon Queen

The hunting lodge in Hoard of the Dragon Queen

We explored the penultimate encounter area of Hoard of the Dragon Queen – the Hunting Lodge this Valentines Day. Here are pictures from that night, brought to you by the fabulous players in this campaign of chaos.

In the midst of the game

In the midst of the game

Gaming n the gaming corner.

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An unknown multitudes of corridors to explore.

Dragonborn monk

Dragonborn monk

The drgonborn monk prepares to embark upon the mission.

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Just exploring.

24 kobolds spill forth

24 kobolds spill forth

Twenty four kobolds staked 8 high spill forth from the chamber when the door is opened, raining down on the part with slashing daggers.

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We can contain them!

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OK then how about this!

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What is upstairs. Find out next time.

meow.

meow.

And that is how it happened.

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lets take a short cut through this ancient burial ground

lets take a short cut through this ancient burial ground

A humongous frozen lasagna and multitudinous loaves of garlic bread filled our bellies this past Friday night, the last before Halloween. The turnout was huge with pratically every current card-carrying member of the group showing up to play – a total of seven players plus dm. Typically our game nights of late have been numbering four to six, because herding cats is HARD, so it was great fun to have everyone together. It also meant I needed to do a recap of events so far…

The characters all grew up in, or found their way to the town of Greenest, the further outpost of western (fantasy) civilizations into a vast tract of D Erte known simply as the Beast Lands, for obvious reasons. (beasts and monsters) Greenest was on the far eastern edge of the beastlands, founded during the crusading period of the past score of years. Further east is a vast desert known as the Desert of Despair to northerners and the Desolate Desert to southerners. Across the desert is a myseterious and virtually unknown civilization known as “the Lorient.” Only recently contacted after thousands of years of forced separation due to geological as well as monstrous reasons, the two civilizations are opening up to one another and the characters as leading the charge into the Lorient.

The heroes of this tale also each have a unique reason to despise and want to destroy a nefarious cult known as the Cult of the Dragon. After raiding Greenest, the cult loaded up its wagon of booty and set off across the desert. The characters tracked the cult to the city of Leucrotta, a merchant hub from whence the cult plas to travel further into the Lorient with their ever-growing hoard. In order to follow the cult, the characters must sign on to the caravan about to make a forty day journey to the regional capital Catoblepia. The cult is signed onto “The Iron Bull” caravan and the party has befriended a traveling circus who is signed on to the caravan, in hopes of hiring on as guards. Whew, there is more, like a whole side trek to save Alligator Boy, but that is the gist.

The Lorient - the mysterious far east of D Erte

The Lorient – the mysterious far east of D Erte

Now then, at this point the players were like, are we going to play or just listen to you all night, whilst others were like KILL KILL KILL! Ok ok, so you are walking back to the circus tent with the minsrel Rodrigo and the alligator man Skryllix, when a dark cloud forms over the nearby tent in the shape of a beholder with lightning flashing from the roiling smoky eyestalks. A severe storm erupted, the minstrel shouts “oh no not him!” then is struck by lightning. Skryllix roars and snaps his jaws and says “your hired go report to the Lady Octavia immediately!” He points to a nearby side entrance to the sprawling tent compound that is the circus.

They are standing at an iron gate, and a winding path leads through an old burial ground, on the other side of which beckons the safety of the tent flaps of the Floating Palace of Phantasmagoria. The floating beholder head has turned into a massive black storm cloud. Lightning strikes the ground every turn, targetting one character randomly. Eight skeletons pull themselves out of the ground at the far end of the cemetery wielding long bows. Divided into two squads each turn they target a character with four arrows. Pretty devastating. Along either side of the path a total of eight zombies rise from the earth while the opening notes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller play (in my mind.) Also, anywhere on the cemetery that is not the path has ghostly shadowy arms reaching up trying to grab ankles and immobilizing if successful.

It was a tough encounter which I call “Short cut through the cemetery.” And it only got tougher. The players all immediately whined and complained that I was trying to kill them and I was like yes, and…? Then they were like its too hard, an I retorted that it was not too hard, they were just pathetic. Find out at the end who was right.

Short cut through the cemetery

Short cut through the cemetery

The undead won initiative so I lined them up into battle formation in preparation of the characters actions. Then they were off and Dave who plays the chicken cast a feather bolt which damaged a zombie. Then the gnome rogue got into the action by hiding and stabbing like she does, but rolled a natural one on her dexterity check to avoid the grasping claws, so she was immobilized and prone, held down by ghostly arms reaching up out of the soil that has been soaked so many times with the blood of the victors and vanquished alike, but that is a different story all together.

The monk dashed into punch and kick zombies. He was the only one to actually kill a zombie that might, after curb-stomping one that had been riddled with wounds. The pirate dashed in after literally hurling the dwarf as far as she could into the thick of things – 24 feet. The dwarf turned three or four of the zombies, taking them out of the fight as they cowered in the corners of the fenced area. The elf ranger fired a few arrows then spent the rest of the time running for safety.

On round two a skeleton warhorse appeared, charging around the corner of one of the larger mausoleums and as it ran a shadow climbed up onto it and the pair waded into battle. The warhorse had shiny iron hooves which caused great destruction, while the shadow attempted to strangle its foes, doing necrotic damage. All the zombies attacked with strangling type moves tonight as well. It was sort of the theme (again, in my mind.)

On round three, another pair of zombies clawed up out of the ground and the characters realized this was not a time to stand and fight, but to run for it, and after three or more rounds, they made it though the loving flaps of the waiting circus tent. But not before the chicken and the cleric were knocked out and nearly killed. The chicken in particular was cooked and sizzling to perfection, like a giant chicken leg ready to be devoured. Some one grabbed him as they ran through the tent flaps, but was it to save him, or to have him for dinner?

In the end, the encounter was neither too hard, nor were the players too pathetic to survive victoriously. Which actually makes me even more right wink wink

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Pathfinder-Osirion

The store-made oven-ready pizzas were so good last week (and cheap!) that we decided to have them again this week. No, not the same ones, new ones, but they were the same three toppings: pep, saus, chee. This time I made sure to get all regular crust (would have got thick or pan if they had it) because who wants thin or cracker crust, eh?

It was another small group of four adventurers for tonight’s game: cleric, rogue, bard, and monk. Good mix. I was in the mood for some urban adventuring, and the adventure at this point is vague to the point of absent on any detail about adventuring in the towns. They meet a paladin of the fist, and are offered the chance to join a couple of brotherhoods with similar goals of defeating the Cult of the Dragon. The ultimate goal of the adventure is to follow the hoard and find out where it is going, and to what end. And then to foil the cults plans of course. So the first thing I did was to come up with a list of “quests” for the characters to pursue while in town:

1. Find the location of the Hoard. The monk Leosian trailed the cult of the dragon as they made their way across the desert with their wagons of stolen booty. But when they arrived in the city, the three wagons each went different ways. The one he followed was off-loaded with the chests and trunks, each being carried off in a different direction. So he lost sight of the hoard.

2. Find out which caravan it will be leaving with. The town of Leucrotta is an important trading hub in a very dangerous region. Very little stays in the city but much wealth passes through it. Heavily defended Caravans leave from each of the four cardinal gates and, the cult will likely sign onto a caravan to make the journey deeper into the region towards its ultimate destination.

3. Sign up for the caravan and follow the cult of the dragon. There are other wagons full of treasure being hauled in all across D Erte, and even if the heroes could defeat the gaurds and take the loot, it would not be enough to halt the cults nefarious desires. The treasure must be followed back to the cult of the dragon’s lair.

4. Save home town of Greenest from dying out. A religious icon was stolen from the church of St Cuthbert in Greenest during the raid by the Cult of the Dragon. The icon is tied magically to the spring that flows through Greenest, giving the town its life-blood and its name as the greenest place between the desert and broken lands. Now the spring is just a weakening trickle.

None of that is written into the adventure itself as far as I can tell. It is just some city research type shite I came up with that sounded fun. I also ripped this adventure from its roots in the Forgotten Realms and supplanted it onto the edge of the known world of my long-runnong campaign world of D Erte. (There is nothing much special about the world of D Erte other than it is a blank slate acrost which I can splatter-paint my grandiose designs for adventure.)

The goal of this campaign is to be a journey through a strange land. The world of D Erte has had many earth-shatering events over the years, from undead invasions and sparring demon-lords, to wars with giant armies of giants, and maybe even some aliens from outer space/other dimensions. The edge of the known world of D Erte is the eastern steppes called the Beast Lands. Across them are the broken lands. During a lull in the wars and doom of D Erte, the great civilizations of the west pushed into the beast lands in a series of crusades to bring order and wrest new lands from the savage evil around them. During this time the humble town of Greenest came to exist, the furthest eastern outpost wrested during the wars of the beast lands. It stood on the border between the broken lands to the west and a vast desert to the east.

For the first time the great western civilizations of elf, dwarf and man could cross that vast distance made up of the steppes, then the rocky broken lands, and finally the tall duned desert of the east and learn of the flourishing civilization known as the Lorient. The great cities of the Lorient were situated along the rivers that flowed south from the mountain known as the Ziggurat, far to the north. The merchant cities of Leucrotta, Ki-rin, and Oni; the dark and mysterious city of Su, and the gleaming capital Catoblepia, were each named for an extinct creature (missing from the 5e monster manual.)

The land of Lorient is also known as the land of werewolves. This is because each sentient being bears the resemblance in greater or lesser extent to one of a myriad of natural animals. Whether it be the whiskers of a seal (like Othar was exhibiting) or the black wet nose of a fox, every person living in the Lorient will eventually take on the traits of what some call their spirit animal, or daemon from some popular work of young adult fantasy.

There are two systems of law, each dependent upon the percentage of spirit animal infusing oneself at the time a crime is committed. For example, if an accused thief is determined to be 51 percent or greater raccoon or badger for instance, during the theft of a pie, then the sentence would be lighter than if they were deemed 49 per cent badger. It is all very complicated. Most people only exhibit a few traits of any animal, but periods of intense stress can cause a person to suddenly ‘pop’ into its animal form. It can take months or years ,or sometimes never, to revert back to human from a complete animal transformation. This is magical in nature, not genetic.

The people of the Lorient also wear really tall shoes and clothing made of bark. These are the defining characteristics that make the Lorient a unique place.

So I better wrap this up. The characters went to the east gate, from where they surmised the hoard would leave the city. They spoke to Gorgo, who wore a huge iron bull’s helm and no one ever saw his face. His motto was, Once you sign onto Gorgo’s caravan, no questions asked. That is a very dumb motto, and for some reason during my prep for this game, I left his motto blank, assuming I would just come up with something snappy in the moment. Didnt happen. What happens in Gorgo’s caravan stays in Gorgo’s caravan? No way.

He was meeting with “Lady Octavia” to book passage, and a bard with her called Rodrgio, invited the players to visit them to possibly hire on as guards. On the way to visit Octavia, they went through the poor part of town who were being terrorized by kidnappers. There was a mob. They had seen an alligator-man coming and going through the sewers.

The characters immediately jumped into the sewers except for the gnome who got sick of the “floating solids” and had to leave the nose-deep sewer. The dwarf on the other hand, relished the experience and developed (through the rolling of a natural 20) a natural immunity for all fecal matter. He eats it for breakfast in other words. (We got a lot grosser than that at the table. Well…I did.)

The sewer led to a portcullis beyond which was a small stone dock in a cellar under the city. There was a pile of large empty sacks next to a door. Beyond the door they found stairs leading up and a room with two yuanti. One had the head of a snake and the other had the body of a snake. They stood beside a pile of squirming gunny sacks. Battle ensued.

Up above, the gnome rogue learned that one of the children kidnapped was also known as “alligator boy” due to his features. This led her to an abandoned mansion where she fought an animated sword and dodged out of the way just as an animated carpet started to roll up at the corners. She heard the sound of battle down below (after about 15 perception checks) and because of all the cursing and mis-haps, she knew it was her crew fighting.

After the fight with the yuanti malisons, which both turned into giant snakes but couldnt hit for shit, a giant alligator man reared up behind them out of the sewers. But they did not attack first, ask questions never. Instead they learned that he the the strong man Skryllix from the carnival known as the Traveling House of the Macabre and Phantasmagorical. He was hunting for his son Alligator boy, who was recently kidnapped by these snake people. (The players pointed out that I made a huge deal out of the animal traits being magical, not genetic, and called me on it. I guess the boy just really relates to his dad and alligators. Could be social rather than genetic. But his dad is a carnie who he probably only sees once a year at most, or possibly never, so who knows.

So now the characters have met three principal NPC’s of the carnival: Rodrigo the bard, Skryllix the alligator strongman, and Lady Octavia the mysterious woman in black lace burka.

There you have it, a night of random urban adventuring, with a healthy dose of what the internet tells me is called furry fandom. Yiff.

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For dinner this week we had very inexpensive pizzas from our local grocery store that were oven ready. They came out pretty good and there is much to be said for three enormous pizzas for fifteen dollars. The key to pizza, or baking in general, is the timing. Pizza is most delicious when it is cooked just the right amount so that the crust is neither burnt and too crispy, or underdone and too soggy. The toppings as well must have the golden brown crisped edges that a good baking gives them. To cook three large pies takes patience, but it can be done quickly, by giving each pizza a few minutes alone in the center of the oven for the first half of the cook time, then moving it to the lowest rack while putting pizza no. two in the middle. Continue rotating every 10 minutes and voila 3 large pizzas in 30 minutes or so. Also the oven should be preheated to more than it says on the box. I like to cook everything at 450 deg.

hile playing the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen, it has been worth it to excise the adventure from the default Forgotten Realms setting, and place it into our group’s “home brew” setting, D Erte, which we have been adventuring in for several years now. It’s not that I have anything against the Forgotten Realms (which I do) but it is more like I love the spontaneity of things we come up with as we play, and the well-detailed published campaigns feel very constraining in that aspect, much like store-bought adventures. My brain just does not work that way, and the amount of joy I derive from playing dungeons and dragons is directly proportionate to the amount of random absurd bullshit that happens while playing. That is really the entire secret. It is why I love critical hits and misses; it is why I describe every action in battle in loving detail; it is why I design traps without solutions; it is why I love dice rolling in general. The scientific name for this game style is Emergent Gameplay, and it is the foundation and objective for every game I play.

This week I was in the mood for some desert action, and it just so happened that there was a desert nearby, needing to be crossed. The home town of Greenest was on one edge of the desert, and their destination, the foreign city of Leucrotta, was on the other. (Factoid: I am naming all the cities in this new region from monsters that were in the original Monster Manual but have been left out of the newest edition, like the leucrotta, a worg-like creature.) Beyond the outpost of Leucrotta, further to the east were the mysterious foreign metropolises of Catoblepia, Ki-Rin, and Su.

The night started out with crazy amounts od die rolling. The journey from Greenest to Leucrotta, was seven to fourteen days. For game purposes,each day a different character would be in charge of ‘blazing the trail’ that day, as well as overseeing the camp. Using the desert environment section of 4e’s Dark Sun Campaign Manual, I created a series of rolls for what type of desert they would encounter, then they would roll a d8 to see the weather affects (a 1result would be a haboob, an 8 is clear skies) Then the character would make an ability check to overcome whatever type of terrain it was. Failing that, they would be set back a day and have to roll for an encounter. They would also have to roll for an encounter if it was dangerous terrain. Everyone rolled extremely well and they made it across the desert in record time without a single encounter and near perfect weather.

I had to entice them to an encounter by mentioning on the third day out, while crossing some mud flats or something, they saw the glint of shiny in the distance. They were hesitant. I then enquired who among them had magical treasure. None. Had we missed out on all the loot in the adventure so far? Four chapters without a single magic item? Then pointedly mentioned again the glint of shiny in the distance. They could just make out a broken down wagon.

What followed was a fight with an ettin and his to wolves, in which the ettin hurled rocks for a few rounds before charging into the meat grinder that is the party. He only got a single swing from his weapons before becoming chop suey. The ettin was able to leap over and avoid all obstacles with the boots of striding he wore. He also had on bracers of ogre strength, wielded a morningstar +1 Lightbringer in one fist, and used a +1 breastplate as a punching glove in the other. Oh and he had a ring of protection +1 in his pocket. One magic item apiece for everyone present, all ripped directly from the last page of the Starter Adventure. I added the ring at the last second because it seemed unfair to give out four items when there were five players present.

The verisimilitudinous reason for the ettin to have all that loot was that he recently ambushed and killed a veteran of the nearby wars, who was on his way across the desert to make his fortune with his booty.

My favorite part of the night actually, was watching the players divide the magic items in the most equitable fashion possible. Only the gnome rogue, with her boots of striding, felt shorted (get it?) and is trying to sell off her item.

They arrived in Leucrotta and met their benefactor who paid them 150 gold apiece for the information about the cult. Then he got into an arm wrestling contest with the dwarf,who performed so poorly (he has an 8 strength) that he rolled an effective ZERO (a natural 1) and not only lost the match, but immediately passed out with exhaustion.

One other interesting aspect of this game night was that we all decided once and for all to use the Pathfinder Critical Hit and Miss deck with our 1’s and 20’s. In fact, when I finally reached up and pulled the two decks out for use, a cheer went up around the table.

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but-when-i-do-i-play-advanced-dungeons-dragonsThe joke is that this newly released updated edition of the worlds first and foremost role playing game is the one we will die playing. Like any good joke there is some truth and longing in it as well. I wish we could have one version that continued to grow and evolve over the years (at a sedate pace, mind you) rather than the abrupt and jarring breaks of the past three ‘editions’ of Dungeons and Dragons. This Fifth edition seems to be the one capable of doing that, if it is even a desire or plan of the publishers of the game, which I know not.

Irregardless, while so far this edition is proving to live up to the qualities it aimed to attain, there is always room for, and a need for minor tweaks or improvements to the rules to better mesh with the playstyles of each individual group of players. Thus are house rules created, and below is a list of rules we have adopted for our game group.

1. Critical hit and miss tables – These have been published previously on the blog –LINK–. Fifth edition codifies the idea of critical hit and misses, by giving double damage on a 20, and always hit, and making a natural 1 always miss. That of course does not go far enough. My tables, written around 1983-84, when I was twelve, involve much more gory, embarrassing, and weird affects and were voted into use by due process over the course of many games, many editions, before being finally settled upon once and for all. Any rumours that I may have ‘skewed’ the results of the vote are pure hearsay.The dm gets one vote, and the players get one vote as a group. Ties go to the dm. Perfectly fair process. Moving on…

2. Natural 2 – I have coined a phrase – “natural 2, the only roll worse than a natural 1.” The reason being that a player will still probably miss if they roll a 2, but it lacks any of the pizzazz of a critical fail. So I have a house rule, even less official than the critical hit and miss tables, that on a natural 2, if they miss, they still have humiliating, embarrassing, or weird things happen to their character, just without any actual game mechanical affects. This rule is adamantly opposed by the players (and what player wouldnt jus thate the whole idea of it) so I have to slip it in subtly. One method is to use a natural 2 as a doorway to getting the character to give into the characters flaw, which is a new personality trait in this edition.

3. Skeletons resist piercing and slashing damage.

4. Inspiration point – These can be used to re-roll any roll, rather than to grant advantage or whatever the official rule may be. Why not? Stop being so uptight about things. Also the bard can store a second inspiration point on occasions, but in that case “he is like a race car with its engine running in the red.” Or at least that is what happened the other night.

5. Mounts – If a land vehicle is a horse, then is a water vehicle a hippopotamus? Yes.

6. Hit points – Characters roll for HP at each level but if they roll poorly they may take 1/2 the maximum die roll instead. It’s more or less what everyone did anyway.

7. No multi classing. I have no explanation for this other than a certain “swordlock” who will remain unnamed. It would have been a TPK, it should have been a TPK, and dammit it WAS a TPK, I don’t care what that “survivalist” says.

This is an evolving document, both because I might have forgotten some rules, and because more may come along as the final two core rulebooks are released (and beyond!) and because our temperament may change over time. When I began this article I thought there would be more, but instead we get short and sweet.

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