As the title says, I’ve turned on registration (didn’t realize I’d turned it off), so hopefully someone reads this who isn’t a spambot.
There have been a series of videos on youtube lately about characters created in such a way that they encounter a situation, and the group or GM decides that the PCs would react in a certain way, but one character says “But my character wouldn’t do that.” Now, if you’ve been playing for any length of time at all, and your game has more roleplaying and background development than the sorts of games the Munchkin card games are based on, everyone has faced a situation like that.
However, subordinating the character in favor of the group is sometimes bad roleplaying.
The main point of the videos seems to be that no matter what, having a character that decides that the general actions of the group in a given situation not be something his character would do is a very bad thing. That the character should subordinate their personality, goals, whatever to the group as a whole. However, in my view, if you happen to have a good group, this severely reduces the possible drama and fun available in the game.
The actual issues that seem to be at stake are as follows:
Right now, my D&D games are on hold. I’m playing in a game run by my wife, but am not, at current, involved in D&D Adventurer’s League organized play. Let’s just say that drama as usual happened and once again I have no LGS, friendly or otherwise.
In the meantime, I’ve been working on several possible game campaigns, ranging from CODA Lord of the Rings to Cortex Battlestar Galactica. At the moment I’ve been refreshing myself with the WEG d6 system rules, the Savage Worlds Deluxe rules, and reading the Cortex Classic system. The primary possibility will be a home brew space opera campaign, and as I type this I am also typing up a playtest task list to run a character I’ve worked up in four or five different RPG systems through. This is to let me get a grasp on how different systems feel, so I can decide which would be the best for what I have in mind.
I’ll try to remember to keep this updated more regularly.
First off, yep, I got distracted and forgot about this blog for a while again. Partially on purpose, had some bad times the last few weeks. Won’t go into that more.
On to the purpose of this post. It will come as no surprise to my players that I really don’t like using miniatures for tactical combat in RPGs. For a tactical board game like Battletech or Renegade Legion, sure, but not for RPGs like D&D or GURPS. They slow the game down way to much. I prefer to use them as a visual aid to theater of the mind. “Okay, Branor the dwarf is standing over by the table, the rest of you are at the bar 30 feet away” with a map and minis placed appropriately. This means that the rest of the party can’t instantly leap to defend Branor from a sneak attack, which is to far away for them to effect in a timely manner.
Part of that is a fundamental non-comprehension of the scales involved on the part of most players and GM/DMs. Some of this devolves to the scale of the miniatures and how they’ve changed over the years, some of which I’ll explain below. Continue reading
Tonight was a short session. It involved a bit of exploration and the final fight in the Necromancer’s Cave.
Mostly more extremely cautious moving through caves and then killing stuff. At this point, even as 1st level characters, the party has become quite good at killing zombies. The skeletons and crawling claws threw them a bit, but no fatalities this session. Though there were a few close calls.
The gnome Rogue decided to sneak ahead, past the zombie construction tables, to try to take out the necromancer with a sneak attack. So he avoided most of the first part of the fight. By the time he got to the necromancer via stealth, the rest of the party was just left with final mop up against a pair of zombies and a swarm of crawling claws.
This was a good thing, because the necromancer turned out to be far more robust than he expected. He got one attack, the skeleton guards started closing on him, and he began fleeing back towards the rest of the party. He got back to them with several arrows sticking out of himself, with only one hp left. He made it as well as he did, because a couple of other characters kept the necromancer occupied by shooting him full of arrows in return.
The necromancer began to flee towards his living chamber, but didn’t make it out of the room.
In general, the fights went as expected, no major surprises… except one. The barbarian decided that he wanted to catch one of the creeping claws, to keep as a pet. Well, that claw had other ideas. After easily avoiding a grab on an opposed Dex check, the claw attacked back – Natural 20! The whole fight so far had seen the claws missing a lot or doing 2-3 damage on successful hits. The barbarian ended up taking 7 damage, and almost died because he’d been hit previously.
Anyhow, all the denizens of the cave were dispatched, the place was scoured within an inch of it’s geological life in search of treasure. The party was happy to gain their first magic items, and a decent stash of gold.
As mentioned, it was a short play session. All to the good, considering only a couple characters had enough experience with 5th Edition to have leveled characters before. Half the table were either new to D&D 5e, or were new to RPGs in general. So we rounded out the evening with moving everyone to 2nd level.
And they were introduced to the first clue that something out of the ordinary was going on, the floating sigil of the Elder Elemental Eye.
The session ended with them returning to Red Larch just as night fell.
Overloaded table this session. Should have split the table, but at current I’m the only DM working on this campaign. That is changing as we have a couple of backup DMs who are prepping in case we have to split. So we had 10 people at the table, a doubling of characters.
First update: What is it with the more standard D&D races being too mundane for players these days? It seems like nobody wants to play a Human (though 5e has gone a long way to fixing that) anymore. And Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are also quite rare, unless the elf is a Drow.
The party racial composition now stands at 2 Humans, 1 Dwarf, 1 Deep Gnome, 1 Water Genasi, 1 Tiefling, and 4 Dragonborn.
Class composition: 1 Paladin, 2 Fighters, 1 Warlock, 1 Cleric, 2 Barbarians, 1 Druid, and 2 Rogues.
Not the most balanced party in the world, but they seem to be getting the job done.
Anyhow, after returning to Red Larch at the end of the previous session, the party decided to head to Lance Rock to investigate the rumors of a plague. Along the way they had a couple of random encounters, and saw some unusual activities in the distance, too far to investigate properly (foreshadowing of things to come).
Upon arrival at lance rock, the party decided to ignore the sign warning of plague and proceeded into the caverns. Since there’s not much roleplaying opportunity when dealing with zombies, it was a pretty combat heavy session. The party cleared roughly half of the Necromancer’s Cave by the time session ended, and much fun was had by all and nobody died.
Will they fare as well as they proceed deeper into the cave system?
Find out next time on Princes of the Apocalypse.
After prepping for the session to the exclusion of almost any other free time activity, game called on account of to few players.
On the other hand, I did pick up a copy of the new D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Screen. My views on it are mixed.
1 – I love the construction of the screen. It’s manufactured as if it were four hard back book covers linked on the short edge to make a very nice feeling, and from the player side, looking DM screen.
2 – The artwork is wonderful.
3 – Two or three of the tables on the screen could be quite useful, especially for DMs who wing their sessions a lot.
1 – There are very few of the tables I’d expect to see on a DM screen. Most of what’s there are non essential information: The first panel is entirely filled with five NPC generation tables. The only one truly useful in my view is the Random Name Generator. The NPC characteristics tables, which are roughly equivalent to the random PC Background tables really don’t serve any purpose as far as I can see.
Panel two is filled with a very large, and space wasting pair of boxes with pictures showing the various Conditions that characters can find themselves in; poisoned, stunned, etc. I suppose this could be there because, if you happen to be one of those DMs who use the initiative tents on the screen, then nothing important gets blocked.
Panel three starts with yet another of the boxes from panel two. Then you get a roughly two inch wide gap with nothing, until the bottom two inches of the screen, then you get what may arguably be the most important table on the thing. A very small table showing DC difficulty numbers. You then get a table detailing cover bonuses, obscured areas, how far light sources provide light, and a table where it shows the skills and what attribute they belong to.
Panel four likewise has a blank section (well artwork) covering the final 3rd of the panel, thus wasting more space. Here you get a table showing travel speeds, encounter distances, the distance sound is hearable, and a damage by level and severity. The final two tables again cater to the DM who makes stuff up on the fly; Something Happens! followed by a table of things to have the characters find.
2 – Because of point 1, there is almost nothing really worth while on the DM side of the screen. I’ve had several DM/GM screens over the years, and they’re usually crammed with important tables and charts, stuff that will likely come up in a session and should save you time looking them up in the books. This has almost none of that, like it’s simply a screen to hide your notes.
Conclusion: If you like having a DM screen for the tables on it, it’s really not worth the $19.95 cover price. If you don’t mind the tables being lacking, it’s solidly constructed, probably the nicest screen I’ve seen in that regard. I got it on a discount so, I’m not to upset with it, but could have been happier.
Welcome to Red Larch.
I don’t know why, but first sessions always start off a bit uncertainly. I’m guessing it has to do with nobody being fully in sync with their brand new characters, and especially with store groups that are semi random, frequently involve either new players who haven’t had the chance to learn much about the setting yet, or players who generally don’t really care about the setting. So it can be difficult to get a game going when most of the players involved don’t have anything to care about other than living or dying.
Anyhow, that aside, after a small foreshadowing event shortly before the PCs arrived in town, things started moving smoothly, and the players became involved. So, what follows is a summery of the session.
The session opened with the party, poor, destitute adventurers that they are, traveling on foot. Heading west to make their names in Waterdeep. It had been a long day of walking, the characters were looking forward to reaching the town on the horizon and having a roof over their heads. A few miles outside of town, the dwarf cleric notices something unusual. About a quarter mile off the road, there seemed to be half a dozen very dense, dust devils gathered in one spot. He managed to dredge up old stories from memory that these were Air Elementals. They were long gone by the time the party got to the spot to investigate. Finding nothing useful at the site, they continued in to Red Larch.
That evening, two of the characters with the Entertainer background sang for their supper, managing to provide room and board for the party. During this, the rest of the party started hearing rumors. Garbled at first, through several minutes of roleplaying, they managed to sort out three rumors. As it was getting late, they decided to find the source of the rumors the next morning.
The following morning, they managed to discover that there may be a haunted tomb, a possible plague camp, and some bandits near town. After negotiating a bounty on the bandits, should they be able to find and eliminate them, the adventurers decided to head to where they had been told the tomb was located.
A few hours later they arrived at the tomb. Fearing what they might find, they scouted the area.
They discovered the remains of a campfire that had been used recently, but nobody seemed to be around. So they proceeded to investigate the tomb. The rogue barely managed to locate and disable the alarm trap on the door. But barely still works. So they proceeded cautiously down the tunnel to a small chamber, where after a few minutes of poking around they moved to try opening a rusted iron door.
They were somewhat surprised to hear a voice that, when they looked came from a ghostly figure, demanding that they “LEAVE MY MASTER’S TOMB!”.
Attempting to talk to the ghost gained them little information beyond that the tomb belongs to a long dead warrior, who’s name has been lost to time, followed by repeated demands that they leave.
At this point the wizard pointedly told the ghost “No, I don’t think we’ll be leaving.” At which point the ghost attacked her. Stunned silence at the table for a moment as the surprise attack resulted in a critical hit, instantly killing the wizard. The rest of the party leapt into action and quickly destroyed the ghost.
Continued searching of the tomb found a chest with some jewelry. And a fight with a flying sword. No injuries were taken during this fight.
Happy with the haul from their first adventure outing, they headed out of the tomb and into a confrontation with just outside the entrance with a goblin and a half-ogre. Not looking for a fight, the goblin informed them that if they gave up the loot from the tomb, they would be allowed to leave. A bit of roleplaying and a very successful Deception roll later, the goblin and half-ogre wandered off clutching the remains of a broken formerly flying sword, complaining about wasting time on worthless grave sites.
The group of surviving adventurers then decided to look for the bandit camp about 15 miles away. Because it was a hireling NPC, I fudged the rules a bit. I ruled that the wizard was not dead, but merely in a coma for several days.
After tracking down the bandits for a couple of days, they found the camp. Scouting carefully, they worked up an ambush. The PCs really wanted to take out these bandits, because they’d managed to bargain a bounty out of the constable in Red Larch. 1gp per ear. (This was a miscommunication between players and DM. I had thought they’d settled on 1sp per ear, and had agreed to what I thought was 1gp for per 3 bandits. The players thought it had been agreed upon at 1gp per ear). Oh well, an unplanned 8gp won’t break anything, not when the total haul for the session averaged about 70gp per character.
However, their carefully planned ambush went somewhat awry. As they’re about to spring the ambush, the wizard regained consciousness… in a very loudly screaming way. The ranger quickly stifled the scream, but the damage had been done. The bandits were coming to investigate. Two of the bandits grabbed swords and started towards the sounds. The other two bandits began rapidly loading crossbows.
The ranger and the rogue still managed to surprise the two sword wielding bandits, quickly dispatching them. And then a bear broke out of a cage on a wagon, surprising the crossbow wielding bandits, and taking a swipe at one before heading into the woods.
The clawed up bandit had tried to shoot the bear and missed. The other bandit also tried to shoot the bear, but fumbled and dropped the bolt before he could fire. Amidst this confusion, the paladin and cleric charged from the woods and easily handled the two bandits.
A quick search of the camp turned up a nice pile of loot, and the party headed back to Red Larch.
And the scene fades away until next week.
And that brings us to Wednesday March 25. The previous Monday we had been handed our Elemental Evil player/faction packets. A few days before that, the DM for the Adventurer’s League had mentioned starting an in store AD&D 2nd Edition game, but wasn’t sure if he could manage running three games a week. So I offered to take over one of the Adventurer’s League nights to help out. We talked about it a bit, and we figured we’d decide another time. Wednesday shows up, what was supposed to be Session Zero for character building. As I arrived, I was informed that “Guess What? You’re running the Wednesday night D&D Encounters sessions.”
I had no notice, and at that moment, no access to the Princes of the Apocalypse Encounters PDF. We quickly got that figured out and I ran home and printed it up. I then helped with character creation distractedly, while reading as fast as I could, because I was told we were expected to play that night.
We never did get started playing, since half the players had to leave early, and I don’t retain well when cramming.
So, there it is. I was officially running the, as close to by the rules as possible, D&D Adventurer’s League, D&D Encounters, Elemental Evil Story Season, Princes of the Apocalypse sessions.
Next post: Princes of the Apocalypse Session 1
How to start this one? I’m sort of recalling a couple of month’s worth of events here tonight.
Round about the end of February, beginning of March my wife and I joined the local FLGS’s D&D Adventurer’s League sessions. As we were at the end of the season for Tyranny of Dragons for Encounters, and still a couple weeks away from the start of Elemental Evil, we were only playing in the Tyranny of Dragons Expeditions game at the time. The DM for these sessions quickly became a friend. Our store has D&D Expeditions on Mondays, usually weekly.
While the store we play at has room, currently, for up to six tables, and currently has five tables set up, we only have enough players for occasionally two tables. However, roughly 50% of the current players play in both Expeditions and Encounters, and the other 50% only play in one or the other. Meaning we only currently mostly fill a single table on any given night.
We were late starting the season, and so we started with DDEX1-1 Defiance in Phlan. We plan to continue until the end of that module in the next couple of weeks and then start DDEX2-1 City of Danger.
The first four sessions went well, and were quite fun. We have had a mostly full to full table every session. The fifth session, this last Monday (March 30) on the other hand…
I know we haven’t been playing a legitimate season, we were mostly playing to play. Otherwise, the fact that all the characters were rolled up using 4d6, reroll any dice that came up 1 or 2, drop the lowest die, 8 times, drop the lowest two rolls, would mean we’d be playing with much higher stats than anyone else playing those same sessions. So, this week’s Monday Session, due to the regular DM being absent, we had a substitute DM. This is the DM from the Horrible Game sessions from November.
Well, that DM is still among the worst DM’s I’ve played under. I still had fun with the game, even though it was a single combat session against five goblins that lasted nearly four hours. And I don’t know what game we were playing, but it wasn’t D&D 5e. They say that Loonies play a Variant of Spawn of Fashan so variant it’s unrecognizable, well this felt that way for D&D to me. Admittedly, I’ve never played D&D 4e, but some of the rolls he had us make, and modifiers used really didn’t seem like they belonged. And goblins fighting a party of mixed 1st and 2nd level characters should not be doing three attacks a round, and rolling +8 to +15 in D&D 5e.
Ah well. We’ll live, but hopefully he won’t have to sub in anymore.
More next post.