Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And here we are a year later...

So the Southlands campaign died a quick death - though fun while it lasted and a fun idea. I'm still running Keep on the Borderlands for some friends of mine who aren't really big gamers. I can't tell if they enjoy it or if it's just a big joke, but they bought their own dice, so they must derive some enjoyment out of it. I miss my geeky friends.

So I'm in the unenviable position of looking for another group a little closer to home. Having two gaming stores nearby, one would think their would be a thriving gaming community, if that's the case Watertown does not give them up easily. Anyway, so I'm looking for a group interested in Burning Wheel, Talislanta, and some of those other weird games that few people play. I can handle a little D&D, I don't mind peppering some D&D sessions in with other stuff, but my tolerance for D&D is usually pretty low.

I've been reading "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian" lately and I'd love to run a Conan inspired game. Burning Wheel actually has lifepaths that you can download from their wiki specifically for a Conan based game. Lusty wenches, dark sorcery and daring thievery!

Another idea I've had kicking around in my head for a while is a BW game features normal everyday joe's in a small village who suddenly encounter fey that, until now, have only existed in legend. It'd sort of have a "Pan's Labyrinth" feel to it, encounters with quirky and mischievous fey lead to encounters with darker malign spirits.

I created a Facebook group for people local to Watertown, NY, in hopes of connecting some folks, we'll see how that works out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Southlands: Session 1

So, yeah, it's been a while. I've been juggling various jobs here and there, not to mention not really having a permanent group going, leads to a lack of posting. But I recently got back together with my old group from Oklahoma via Skype and got them going in their first session of my Southlands campaign. It's set in the Southlands setting from Points of Light which itself is being set in the larger world of the Castles & Crusades "Rings of Brass" setting, and played using Castles & Crusades Rules. Since I only could gather 2 players, I had them each roll up 2 characters they could play simultaneously. M.E. rolled a half-orc monk and a gnome rogue; while M.C. rolled a halfling wizard and a human fighter. All the standard C&C rules for character creation were followed, and I'm sticking close to the rulebooks on this go round. I'm wanting to keep things as simple as possible.

This is going to mostly be a wilderness exploration campaign with probably quite a few dungeons/towers/keeps interspersed throughout. Main point: it's not a city/urban game, it's about being in the thick of things, burying your axe in orc skulls and seeing how many characters you got through at the end.

Oh yeah, we made a stab at using MapTools, but so far have been thwarted in our efforts due to a connection issue. We're going to keep trying to get this to work, and if I do I'll have a separate post about that, it's a great tool for this kind of game and I really hope we get this working.

The characters started out in Castle Westguard which I substituted in the Keep on the Borderlands (yup, that's in there too, should they find it). The first direction they went was into the swamp (by choice, oddly enough) and this made their first foray into the wild, a tough one. My Random Encounter charts almost guarantee an encounter in each hex (I roll once in each hex, unless they spend an undue amount of time in a hex) and my swamp encounters are nothing to shake a stick at. They first encountered a giant lizard which nearly killed one of M.E.'s characters, the rogue I think (poor rogue, he had a tough go of it). The group decided to go back to the Castle for a healer and came across Matheus Landerly, a level 1 Cleric of Athria and his two acolyte helpers. They healed up and rested to get spells back (yup, the 15 minute day is in effect) and continued on the next day. Day 2, they found tracks which belonged to some kind of lizard-like reptilian creatures (troglodytes, though they never saw any) and they decided to skirt well around the area. The next encounter was a spot on the map - a group of will o' wisps guarded a long lost treasure. This they also smartly avoided. At this point they were just about out of the swamp, when they were attacked by 2 stirges, which they took down with little trouble. Exiting the swamp they made for a dirt road they could see in the distance when they were set upon by 3 wild boars. This was a tough encounter and it showed: poor rogue was killed and their was not help in sight. We ended the session just outside the Dwarven town of Gilhig where we will start up the next session this Saturday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Points of Light

I picked up Points of Light a few weeks back and I've been reading it and wishing I had picked it up so much sooner. What a great resource - even if a "sandbox" campaign isn't your thing. Every section is chock full of short little snippets about each of the campaigns (three in all) that could be pulled out and put into any campaign. I've even hit some that could be extrapolated upon and made into entire campaigns all themselves.

I just hit the Southlands section the other night and I'm thinking of using this for my current group a bit down the road. I had planned on moving to the Ruins of Undermountain, though I may just give them a choice. I don't know if this is how a sandbox game is supposed to run, but I plan on giving them a blank sheet of hex paper, with maybe a few hexs surrounding their starting point labeled. Then just tell them (through an NPC of some sort, that their task is to scour the entire land, sweeping the land clean of the darkness that pervades there. To do so, they'll need to establish outposts and keeps in many areas (which will require a significant amount of gold, which will have to come from their pockets, which will give them a reason to adventure) in order to maintain a relative peace. They'd probably gain followers based on their Charisma (just like the old 2nd Edition rules) who they can have follow them or they can be assigned to run the keeps.

I love this idea, I would love to have had someone run a campaign like this for me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Hand and Eye of Vecna

All this talk of Artifacts has got me thinking about my two favorites: The Hand and Eye of Vecna. I think you'd have to work in order to make a dull campaign with those two things in the spotlight. Think about it this way: if you put those in your campaign, there is going to be some evil dude trying to get his or her hands on them. Now, any villain that is actively seeking to chop off a hand and poke out an eye in order to gain immeasurable power is one bad-ass cat and is sure to make for a memorable villain. I think this one is going on the dock as a future potential campaign. Now, if only I could, you know, get some players....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Artifacts vs. +1 Daggers

Although our preferred play styles and the games we enjoy tend to be very different, Jeff over at Jeff's Gameblog always has great posts that get me thinking about my own play style and campaign setting. In his last post, he mentions Artifacts from an old D&D Supplement and that got me thinking about magic items in general in my own campaigns. I like the idea of doing away with most magic items - the rods, staves, wands, swords, shields and armor, rings, etc. I'd keep single use items like potions and scrolls, but any other magic item I introduced into my game would be an Artifact. So, the +5 Holy Avenger would be in there, and probably some very powerful Wizards Staff, but these would be legendary items that would be much whispered about. They would require an extensive quest in and of themselves to obtain, not just randomly discovered. I'll have to go through all my old DMG's and pick and choose some favorite Artifacts to include and come up with some decent history. 

EDIT: this ties in nicely (for me, not the players) with my Brotherhood of Valar who's duty it is to protect these Artifacts. So not only are magic weapons rare and hard to find, now you've got an entire group of people who's sole purpose is to keep these things out of your hands. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Asian Flavored Dwarves and Other Race Miscellanea

It just struck me how awful of a fit viking-flavored Dwarves are (oh, that wasn't an awkward phrase or anything). I mean, based on the standard Tolkien Dwarves, they really should have an Asian feel to them. They're isolationist, they cherish honor and honesty above all else, they both have dragon issues (ok, stretching it on that last one, but still, Dragons feature prominently in both cultures). This is all stereotyping quite a bit, and I certainly wouldn't make Dwarves Asian full-out, but just pepper the basic Dwarf with a few things that hint at an Asian influence. 

Also, it always struck me as odd that the original D&D had Elves and Dwarves and Halflings as Classes, instead of Races. But now that I think about it, it would do wonders for a campaign world in which you really wanted to strike home a very specific feel for what those races are. Not only that, but human versatility stands out even more when the other races are only classes and have no choice in their abilities. Something I'll be thinking about. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some 2nd Edition love

Second edition has been on my mind a bit recently, and I just need to give it a little love here. It really was an elegant system, despite the flaws it did have. Sure, I'm biased since it was the system I learned D&D on, the system I was introduced to roleplaying games with, but it's been years since I've played 2nd edition and I still come back to it as a favorite. I remember character development just happening without really having to think about it. The classes were archetypal; each having their own "thing" that made them unique. With the advent of 3rd edition, there was a lot of overlap - each class can step of the toes of another class. I realize this was done intentionally so that a party wouldn't be gimped without having a cleric, or a rogue for example, but it makes each of the other classes shine a little less bright because of that. 

But the thing I've been thinking about, the thing that makes me want to play a little 2nd edition again, is the "backwards" rules; rolling under for some things and over for others. The idea of rolling below your stat for an ability check is just great, from a GM stand-point. Think about it: I don't have to come up with some number out thin air like you oft do with 3rd edition and its "Difficulty Check". Just roll under your ability. Need to raise a portcullis? Roll under your Strength. It's a simple, easy mechanic that just makes the GM's job easier. 

Now, I wonder if you could make a new Saving Throw chart, based off the old one, that could reverse Saving Throws so that you roll under for them too? Like subtract the listed number from 20 and that's the new number you have to roll under. That way it's one more thing that is "roll under" so as to be a little more uniform. I doubt there's anything to be done for combat, though, high rolls are still good there and I don't think anything can be done about that. Not that I'd want to anyway. Imagine the amount of "20's" you'd roll if suddenly "1" was a critical hit? That's tantamount to gamer sacrilege.