Thursday, March 31, 2011

Playtest Report: Humanspace Empires

This report is a player's point of view in response to the referee's report, which can be found here. You may want to read that post first in order to get the proper context for this response.

First, let me start by saying that I don't know jack about EPT/Tekumel. I understand it is very popular amongst the old school crowd. However, this turned out to be a bonus with regard to this particular game, since I was able to come to the table free of any preconceived notions about what I was getting myself into. I was introduced to the world through play, and as far as I could tell, the referee was well-grounded in the setting. He did a very nice job explaining the state of the world, and illustrating all of it's weird little qualities.

The referee was well-prepared with copies of the rules for everyone. However, he did not have premade characters, so character creation along with a late start ate a significant chunk into the time we might have otherwise spent playing.

As far as rolling abilities 3d6 in order - fine by me. Minimum ability requirements for weird alien races - fine with me. I didn't qualify for any of the non-human races based on my rolls, but even if I did, I probably still would have played a human, since I didn't know what any of the other races were (no pictures of them in the rules), and I couldn't pronounce their names. I went and looked at the rules afterwards, and they are described, but it would have been impractical to sit there and read them all at a con game.

Then we got to the skills. I don't really like skill systems in the first place, so honestly, I was relieved at rolling the lowest possible number of skills, so that the guessing game of trying to anticipate what skills might be useful was minimized. Again, sitting there and reading through all the skills would have been impractical.

I did go back and take a look at the skills afterwards, and my concerns were reinforced by the text. There are skills that seem reasonable, like brawler (better at hand-to-hand fighting), air pilot (can pilot aircraft), and survivalist (wilderness survival stuff). Then there are others that bother me, like driver. Really? I need to spend skill points to know how to drive? Can't we just assume characters know how to drive in a sci-fi rpg set 60,000 years in the future? Maybe there is some setting thing that I'm unaware of that makes this logical, but it wasn't apparent to me. There is also some overlap in skills, as in the case of thief and spy, which are nearly identical in their descriptions.

There was a situation that came up in play where we were on our ship approaching an asteroid and we wanted to scan for lifeforms to try to get a clue as to whether or not the guy we were looking for was there or not. Basically, we weren't able to do it because no one had the use computer skill or whatever it would be called. This kind of bugged me. We were on a ship that we supposedly owned for some time before the adventure began, so it would seem to me that we should have been able to do that simple task. Even if the answer was "no, your ship doesn't have any equipment like that" I would have been totally cool with that. But the fact that we couldn't because of a lack of a skill selection really bothered me.

There are two pieces to this. Part of this is in the referee's hands, as far as figuring out how to adjudicate these sort of requests, and it can be a matter of style that is different from one referee to the next. The other part is the responsibility of the designer - to give the referee the information he needs in order to make the skill system something that enhances play rather than being a roadblock to players' performance of mundane tasks. I would be happy to see a paragraph or two added to the beginning of the skills section that addresses this.

I can't really comment on combat mechanics, since I had to leave before we got to fight anything. In fact, I had to leave right as we were entering the "dungeon," which is kind of like participating in foreplay with no sex. (Did I just draw an analogy between D&D and sex? I really need to have my head checked...) This made me sad, since I had purchased a space sword and a Z-ray rifle... no idea what either are, but they sounded fucking cool! I really had an itch to jam my SPACE SWORD in someone's left eye.

So, in looking back and reading this thing over, my comments on the skills kind of took over the post, but I want to make it clear that I had a lot of fun in the short time I got to play. The referee clearly had a love for the world, and it showed in his rich descriptions and in-character NPC representations he gave. I would definitely play again.

Now, as a complete neophyte when it comes to EPT/Tekumel, I'm not sure I would be able to run this game for my friends. I have almost no experience with sci-fi games to start with, and I think it's aimed at the EPT enthusiast that already has a lot of knowledge about the world this game is set in. The game mechanics do seem simple enough to use in any homebrew setting without much trouble, but I'm pretty sure it was the designer's intent to marry the game with the setting.

3-1/2 of 5 big fucking space swords. Would play again!
Pros: Simple rules, pretty much a sci-fi skinned OD&D. Made me want to learn more about the setting and explore it some more.
Cons: clunky skill system (note that the author of this review is predisposed to dislike skill systems of any sort)
Other notes: As presented, the game is tied heavily to the setting. This may be a feature for some, and a bug for others. To play as it is presented, it seems advisable for the referee to have strong knowledge of EPT/Tekumel, but setting knowledge is not required of the players, unless they want to have some basis of understanding the alien PC races that are available.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fisher-Price My First Gaming Convention

GaryCon III has been over for a few days now, but I am just now getting a moment to write a short blurb about it. It was my first-ever gaming convention, and it was a TON of fun. I got in about 24 hours of gaming between Friday and Saturday.

Here are the highlights of the weekend:

  • Got a sweet long-sleeve GaryCon III t-shirt
  • Bought a numbered copy of the adventures Tim Kask ran for GaryCon I & II
  • Bought the Black Blade Publishing imprint of the huge tome that is OSRIC. I'm not a big AD&D guy, but it is a very nice book and looks like it has some good stuff in there. At $26.00 for a 400+ page hardcover, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
  • Bought a number of OSR modules, including Skull Mountain and Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent, among others.
  • Played lots of AD&D (for the first time since I started gaming with 2e), including a game run by Frank Mentzer, thanks to Chainsaw of the K&K Alehouse, who graciously gave me his spot
  • Got my Rules Cyclopedia signed by Frank Mentzer, and my Deities & Demigods signed by Jim Ward.
  • Got to playtest the new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games (Highlight of the weekend. This game is fucking AWESOME!)
  • Got to try out Humanspace Empires
  • Saw a co-worker there that I never knew played D&D. He and his wife might be joining our gaming group.

I know that GaryCon isn't a big commercial thing, but one thing that was both a blessing and a curse was the relatively small vendor area. It would have been awesome to see a bunch of old TSR stuff for sale. I budgeted myself $300 to spend the entire weekend and I only spent about $120. Just an idea, but Noble Knight isn't that far, and it would've been cool for them to pack up some out of print TSR stuff and sell it at the convention. Although if I take a step back and look at the big picture, these wishes of mine probably aren't that reflective of the convention's attendees as a whole. I am a relative newcomer to the OSR, and as such, my wish list of gaming goodies is still quite long. However, a lot of these other guys that have been around and playing these games for a long time likely already have most of the stuff they want, and don't go to the convention to shop.

Another nice thing was the relatively small size of the thing. I think about 400 attendees were reported, which I felt was pretty much perfect for a guy like me, who tends to get claustrophobic and anxious in large dense crowds. Even photographs of the big comic cons and GenCon make my head swim. In spite of it's smaller scale, I could have attended 10 times over and not even put a dent in all the games available. It was all about the gaming, and there was plenty to be had.

In summation, it was an awesome experience, and I highly recommend this convention. I will certainly be attending again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!"

Happy Saint Urho's Day!

For those of you not "in the know", it is basically a made-up holiday. The Finns (my people) in America were feeling bad about not having a cool holiday like St. Patrick's day, so they made one up!

It basically involves a very original and creative story about a guy (St. Urho) driving all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saving the grape crops. Pretty awesome, huh?

The Task of Saint Urho by BernardFazling (click to visit source page)


Happy St. Urho Underwear Day by FireBert101 (click to visit source page)

I dedicate this post to the memory of my grandma and grandpa, who were awesome Finnish people. They always argued in Finnish, so us kids couldn't understand what they were saying. My grandpa also used to put some peaches in a bowl and pour milk on them, and leave them out on the kitchen table overnight. He'd then wake up and eat the peaches and sour milk for breakfast. Some day, I will work up the courage to try this myself.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chaotic Caves of Weirdness: Cave A - Kobold Lair

Holy crap, there's going to be some ACTUAL GAMING CONTENT here!

Cave A - Kobold Lair

In my fledgling Outland B/X campaign, we have started out with Keep on the Borderlands. None of our group has actually ever played it, so it seemed like a good choice. However, one thing I quickly realized is that I was going to have to add some flavor to keep my players interested. Running around slaying kobolds/orcs/goblins, etc. is old hat for us, even if old school gaming is not.

So I set out to spice up the caves, and have now dubbed them The Chaotic Caves of Weirdness. While I am certain that every referee that has run this module has pretty much done the same, I figured I'd try documenting my changes to see if anyone else liked them. If you are an experienced referee that is good at making up details on the fly, this will probably be of no use to you. But if you are looking for a few ideas, or maybe want something more fully fleshed-out, then you might be interested.

Click to Download PDF: Chaotic Caves of Weirdness: Cave A - Kobold Lair

Please let me know what you think - good, bad, or indifferent.

As a side note, the party in my game is currently hunting humanoids in the caves and collecting left ears for a 10 gp bounty for each turned in at the keep. The keep wants to build surrounding farms but can't at the moment due to the humanoid infestation. I wonder what they'll do with the kobold babies...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ChicagoWiz's Classic D&D Marathon

This past Saturday, I was able to go check out the Classic D&D Marathon run by ChicagoWiz at Unique Gifts and Games in Grayslake, IL. He's already posted his own recap as well, and you can read that here:

ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog: Classic D&D Marathon - Recap

The event was scheduled from 11AM-9PM. I got there at 11:05, and the table was already full and play was underway. No biggie though, since players were being rotated on the hour.

So the first hour I just got to watch, which was extremely helpful for me as a DM that is interested in running more old-school type games. He was clearly very comfortable with the game he was running, which seemed to be sort of a mashup of Original/Basic D&D and Swords & Wizardry. He kept things moving all the time, which I think is important when you are running a game for 7 players.

I liked to see how minis were used in an old-school game. In my group we always joke about how we used them in the 1e/2e era. "You set your mini down in front of you, point to it, and say, That's my guy." Mike used a big unmarked vinyl battlemat, put the monsters out for every combat, and had people arrange their minis to show how they formed their group in some combats, but that was about it. At one point, someone asked what the scale was. His response was, "There is no scale." Minis were not moved to reflect movement in combat, and there was no fiddling with determining cover or range or any of that stuff.

In the second hour, I got my turn to play, and I got the magic-user. This was pretty awesome, since I never get to play, and even when I do, I NEVER get to play the MU. My sister swipes it up every time, usually leaving me with a cleric. On top of all this, it was a level 4 MU, so he actually had a few spells. After gearing up in town and exchanging some gold for silver (the natives did not value gold, which was a nice touch), we headed out. It didn't take long before we found ourselves out in a wide-open field with a dragon circling overhead, and it was clear that he had seen us. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The mini placed on the table to represent the dragon was less than intimidating, and perhaps that influenced my judgement. 

To make a long story short, I cast phantasmal force to create in image of the largest red dragon I could, in hopes of scaring him off. He saved to disbelieve the illusion, and killed 3 of us. Whoops!

So my 30 minutes of fame were up and I went back into the queue. By this time people started flooding the store - people from all walks of life, and lots of guys brought their young kids. You should have seen the smiles on these guys' faces. The place was buzzing. At one point, I counted 7 people playing and 13 people waiting to play. That's just awesome!

I was content to watch for a few more hours, and it was pretty fun to watch the party go out hunting with Ron the Hunter, who would always hide in the bushes for every combat, and them come back out after the fight to decapitate the beast in glorious fashion. Watching the group interact with the monkey people via pantomime was downright hilarious. Throughout the entire game, there was a lot of head-scratching going on by the players, which I consider to be a sign of a great D&D game.

I planned on staying the entire duration, but alas, I had gone to bed at 3AM the night before and woke up at 6AM , so I headed out at about 4PM to go home and nap. All in all I consider the event a great success, and I would love to see more D&D at that store.

Thanks Mike, for showing us all a great time. I know you put a lot of work into it, and based on the number of smiles in that store, I'd say your efforts paid off!

P.S. - Sorry for the crappy pictures. I guess when my cell phone starts getting full it shrinks the picture resolution :(

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oubliette Issue #5 - Free for a "Limited Time"

In case you haven't heard through other channels, Oubliette issue #5 is being offered as a free download at RPGNow.

Click HERE to get it!

A great chance to check it out, if like me you have been on the fence about spending the few dollars to see what it has to offer. Not sure how long it will be free, so grab it while you can!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Part of Me Misses WoW

I got an email from blizzard offering me a 7-day trial to get back into World of Warcraft. It got me looking back at my screenshot folder from the game, and I probably shouldn't have done that because I got a flood of awesome memories playing that game. Despite all it's drawbacks, it was a FUN ASS GAME! I laughed my ass off regularly while playing that game.

Aplus was a bad-ass paladin that could combine talent selections and little-known item combinations to kill like 80 people at once by himself
Back in the olden days of WoW, the 40-man raid group was just the coolest thing ever put in a video game ever. Note Poomanchu's comment in the lower left. He's going to record this boss fight to teach people how to play a shaman properly. ;)
On internet games, a lot of people are dickheads, but it was usually pretty humorous.
Immature practical jokes on guildies were a favorite pastime...
And if the game ever got too hard, you could always just wait a month and it would be nerfed haha!
MUST RESIST......... THE URGE........... TO PLAY WOW..............

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Report: Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

I owe Jamesnardia* a debt of gratitude for his Pulp Fantasy Library series of posts (example). These posts were to be my introduction to fantasy fiction outside of my old comfort zone of Forgotten Realms novels, Robert Jordan, and the like. Until recently, I hadn't read for many years anyways, so I figured I may as well expand my horizons a bit. The numerous excerpts he posted from the stories are what really piqued my interest, and made me get up off my butt and check this stuff out.

The first one I chose was Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber. I got the Ace paperback for $7 shipped on ebay, which seemed like a good deal. The book has 3 stories - The Snow Women, The Unholy Grail, and Ill Met in Lankhmar. From what I understand, these stories are far from Leiber's best work, but I figured I may as well start out chronologically, as these stories cover the origins of each character separately, and then the story of how they met.

The Snow Women was far from the best story I've ever read, but it had some great elements, my favorite being the subtle way magic is featured in the story. It's presented in such a way that you don't even know if it really is magic, or if it's just the crazy superstitions of a backward people mixed with coincidental happenings. Prominently featured is an exotic bellydancer/mime/hooker that Fafhrd becomes so infatuated with that he decides to just up and leave his pregnant girlfriend. There are some pretty great stunts involved as this plays out.

The Unholy Grail takes a much different tone, and begins with a tragedy. This story was much darker and more enjoyable to read, with a great hate-worthy villian. My only complaint would be the use of deus ex machina in the end, but I can overlook that and still call it a good story.

Ill Met in Lankhmar is a proper conclusion to this book, and it is better than the first two stories combined. There is great atmosphere in this story, and an artful combination of a feeling of impending doom that hangs over the entire story in the background, while the actual things that are happening right in front of you are mostly light-hearted shenanigans of a couple of guys that like to do crimes and have a good time. I particularly loved the description of Mouser's apartment, basically a crappy run-down abandoned building that should be condemned, yet it was filled with luxurious items such as fancy rugs, furniture, and so forth. This really struck a chord with me, as I used to interface with a lot of unsavory types in my younger days, and this sort of thing was commonplace. A big fancy leather couch from Rent-A-Center stuffed into a crappy studio apartment, and the guy would ask for cigarettes because he had no money, and that sort of thing. The dark sorcery presented in this story was much less subtle and much more horrifying than what we experienced in The Snow Women, much to my delight. Again, there was some deus ex machina at the end, but it seemed less offensive to my sensibilities than that of the previous story.

From what I understand, the stories that follow these are the best ones. As luck would have it, while I was in the middle of reading this book, I found a hardcover copy of Ill Met in Lankhmar (the one published by White Wolf) in the basement, which includes the next book/volume/whatever - Swords Against Death - so I already have some more Leiber ready and waiting for me, and I consider myself a pretty lucky dude as a result!

* Name stolen from Joesky the Dungeon Brawler, and I will likely be using it indefinitely.

It Has Begun!

I've ordered the first book (which is actually volume 2) for my Clark Ashton Smith collection I'm going to put together. I've asked my lovely wife to try to find a reasonably priced copy of volume 1 for my birthday, which is coming up next month. I read The Dark Eidolon over at The Eldritch Dark and was instantly hooked. I normally wouldn't pay this much for books, but I can't find this guy at the library, local book stores, not even Half-Price Books. But if the quality of the story I read is any indication, it is a worthy investment by far.

Mics of the Round Table

I have a strong suspicion that most of you who follow this blog will hate this, but I'm going to post it anyway because I think it is a unique gem. It's a hip hop song about a quest for the holy mic. It is filled with great lyrical imaginings. I used to listen to this album every day for about a year around the time I graduated high school.

BUT, if you have a blind hatred for hip hop, I guess you shouldn't bother...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Disco Monster Adventures

After reading the post about disco monsters over at A Paladin in Citadel, I got to thinking it would be fun to make a disco monster adventure. I figured this would be a good source of inspiration:

Edit: Another contribution from Talysman, which has a distinct advantage in being 45s long instead of 10m:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Play Report: Rise of the Runelords, Session 5, Part 1

Warning! The following post contains spoilers for the Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path for the Pathfinder RPG. If you think there is even a sliver of a chance that you may participate in this adventure path, it is recommended that you stop reading now. You have been warned!

P.S. - There will also be some foul language, because when we play, there is a lot of that type of language at the table...

P.P.S. - This post turned out quite a bit different than the way I initially started to type it up. I made a post over at the Knights & Knaves Alehouse asking for input concerning play reports, and the people over there were very helpful with giving me some direction and things to think about. My goal is to make a play report that is actually semi interesting and entertaining to read. I think there's still plenty of room for improvement in that regard, but please tell me what you think. If you think it totally sucks, I'd like to know that too.

Real Life Date: February 26, 2011
In-Game Date: Sometime in the fall.I looked at the Golarion calendar, and it has weird names, so we don't bother with it.

PCs Present

  • Senator, Half-Ogre Barbarian of Shoanti heritage (played by my 37-year-old brother-in-law Greg)
  • Master Choli, Half-Elf Cleric of Sarenrae (played by my 13-year-old cousin, Nicholas)
  • Runs with Apes, the Tiefling Druid that is ignorant of her fiendish heritage, and her pet ape, Uncle Reuben (played by my 27-year-old sister, Jen)
  • Loti, the Gnomish Sorceress (played by my lovely wife, Mary)

We didn't have a babysitter, so Mary spent about 80% of the time being a parent to our two-year-old daughter, rather than doing make believe adventures with us. But whenever she got the chance, she would come back to the table and say, "okay, what's going on?"

The group is accompanied by Orik Vancaskerkin, the human mercenary from Riddleport, who gave his allegiance in exchange for his life at the end of the previous session, after being beaten within an inch of his life and stripped of his valuable possessions.

Orik Vancaskerkin, Professional Scumbag

The party started out this session in the hallway outside the D4 sleeping quarters, after having spent the previous night in D2 with the door spiked shut. There were still corpses in the room of the bugbear and his 4 goblin lady-friends. For good measure, they stacked the corpses up against the door before going to sleep for the night in the piles of hay. That way, if anyone tried to come in while they were sleeping, at least there would be corpses in the way... 

I figured sleeping in the goblin lair would be risky business, so I gave them a 25% chance of someone trying to come in every 2 hours. Luck was on their side and they slept uninterrupted.

Thistletop Goblin Lair

They went into D6 and found a bunch of crap garbage no one was interested in. Greg did the old, "I search the room, I rolled a 15". I told him, "No way dude. You have to tell me what you are searching. If you need a more detailed description of what you see, just ask." This is a habit that has come about as the result of the Perception skill. I am doing my best to eliminate this kind of play because I think it's lame.

The group headed north (D7) where they were ambushed by a disgusting squid-like creature covered in eyes that dropped from the ceiling between Senator and the rest of the group. It sucked because they kept making their saves, so I didn't get the pleasure of inflicting anyone with Liquefy Organs, which I was really looking forward to. The thing's life ended with a powerful croquet shot from Senator's earthbreaker that sent it flying in the air to be impaled on a stalactite, a puddle of disgusting ooze dripping to form a large puddle on the ground. 

At this point I gotta pause for a second to talk about Greg/Senator. Greg is a total power gamer, and he plays  so he can build characters that kick people's asses. He got me to let him play a Half-Ogre, because it has a fucking +4 STR bonus. He's level 3 and his strength is like 20 or 22 or something retarded like that. Senator's weapon, the earthbreaker, crits on a 19 or a 20. He rolled a 19 and he looked at me and said, "I rolled a 19", with this fake dumb look on his face that he does. So I said, "Great, you crit!" And he rolled damage and it was like 37 or some ridiculous shit like that. It wasn't until after the session that I realized what he had done. See, in Pathfinder, there is a rule where you have to confirm crits. That means if you roll a crit, you have to make another attack roll that would equal a hit, or else it's just a regular hit. What Greg was thinking in his head when he gave me that dumb look was "I'm going to pretend I forgot about the rule about confirming crits, and see if he'll just give it to me." And I did. Pathfinder has a lot of rules, so it's easy to forget things like that. In hindsight, he did this to me probably five times throughout the session, and I never remembered about the rule until we were done playing. That fucker. He'll see. I'll get him back for it.

Alright, sorry about that - The crew went to work, with Senator severing the sharp end of the poisoned tentacle, adding it to his collection of body parts from the various beasts he's bested in combat, and Runs with Apes extracting some of the foul liquid from the poisonous tentacle into a vial for later study.

The group headed north to the next cavern (D8) to find a collection of corpses - mostly seagulls, but about a half-dozen goblin corpses as well, with shriveled skin stretched over their skeletons as if all their insides had somehow been sucked out (haha Liquefy Organs). They relieved one of the corpses of his magical dog-hide armor and a nice miniature shortbow.

I think this is when the pizza came, and we all took a break to go eat pizza and Mary suggested that we watch that episode of Community that featured D&D, since no one had seen it (except me and Mary) so we did, and we all laughed our balls off.

Next they went to D11 and to the west were a large set of solid stone double doors. The doors were covered with carvings of monsters of various horrid aspect, clawing their way from the pregnant bellies of women of all races. This caused a bit of headscratching, WTFs, and debate amongst the players. Greg wanted to go in right away because they were still fresh and pretty much had all their spells. Nicholas/Master Choli wasn't so keen on the idea, and wanted to see if there were easier pickings elsewhere before going in. He's weird like that. He's always hesitant to go into dangerous-looking rooms, but put a font of dark, bubbling, smoking liquid, or a jar of blood in front of him, and he will drink it every time, in hopes of gaining some kind of demonic super-powers or something. Of course, no one thought to ask the mercenary about what was in there...

They went in and surveyed the dimly lit room, while at the table we had a discussion about how to pronounce "brazier". Mary described her vision of flaming bras nailed to the walls. We also took a moment to look up what a "kukri" was, after I described what the statue behind the altar looked like, and the fact that it had a glowing kukri in each hand. The statue looked basically like the picture below, except it was a statue, so it was grey.

Lamashtu - Mother of Monsters

Nicholas/Master Choli couldn't resist the urge to head over to the "stone fonts containing frothy dark water", but his inevitable drinking of said water was interrupted when a couple of yeth hounds descended upon the party from the ceiling. I just described them as "creepy, hairless, otherworldly dogs". The first one let out a terrible baying sound that led to failed saves by Senator, Master Choli, and the mercenary. They dropped their weapons and fled the room at full running speed, and this fear effect was going to last 6 rounds.

We had a lengthy discussion about the nature of these dogs. The minis I used were for undead dogs, and thus the first question was, "are they undead?" "No." "Well how can they climb on the ceiling?" "Your character is wondering that exact thing as he is fleeing in terror down the halls!" Eventually, later in the fight, I referred to them as "the yeth hounds." "Oh! That's what they are!" Dammit! I do that shit every time!

Thus, the two lightly armored girl player/characters were left in the room with the vicious dogs. They took turns getting shat upon by the dogs. These dogs are crazy because you have to make a save every time you get bit and if you fail you take a -2 to everything for the next round. In addition to that, they get a free chance to trip you whenever they land a bite as well. Uncle Reuben dropped to negative. Loti/Mary dropped to negative, was brought back, and then dropped again. During all this we had to review the crazy rules about death and dying, because they are too complicated to remember. Then I killed my sister's druid with a devastating yeth hound bite. I said in a very serious tone, "I'm sorry, but you'll have to turn over your character sheet." and we all had a good laugh. She took over playing the mercenary for the time being. 

With Loti and Uncle Reuben knocked out, and Runs with Apes dead, the yeth hounds ran back out into the caverns to go after the others that were still fleeing in terror. Really they were just in the corners of the caves in D7/D8, running in place. If I made them run full speed away as far as they could go every round, they would have been back in town by now.

Master Choli just healed Senator while he went to town clubbing the dogs to death. I forgot that they dropped their weapons before fleeing, so they magically reappeared in their hands. I'll bet the bastards knew it too, and just weren't going to say anything unless I called them out on it, which I never did. 

They went and got Loti, healed up, and went to rest in the room full of torture implements (D10). I got my minis back, and the one that only stands on his hind legs was somehow all bent to shit, so his front legs were touching the ground. I bent him back and winced as I felt that horrible cracking vibration in the metal that happens when you try to bend a bent mini back into place. At any rate, it seems whole and the paint doesn't look like it cracked. They passed through a prison chamber with lots of torture implements in it on the way, but were largely unimpressed.

At this point Greg got excited about the prospect of making a new character for Jen. I told him she should just play that fighter guy for the rest of the day, so as not to kill the session. Making a Pathfinder character can take easily an hour or two. I really wanted to push Jen to play a fighter or a ranger, because she always takes an ultra-long time on her turns mulling over her spells. It used to piss me off, but I'm much more laid back about it now. I've kind of just given up and accept it as the way of things. I'd rather have her there playing with us, taking a long-ass time to decide what to do, than not participating.

So, we just started all dicking around, while Greg was making her a bard. He found that they added some 3rd-party goblin race to the site we use, and I was just like "fuck it, if she wants to be a goblin, she can". Greg and Jen love playing monsters, and that used to piss me off too. I've gotten over it. It's a game of pretend after all, and if they get their fun out pretending to be goblins and ogres rather than elves and humans, who am I to piss on their party? Jen was super-excited at the prospect of a goblin bard, and it would be easy enough to insert her into the adventure, SINCE THEY ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF RAIDING A GOBLIN LAIR AND KILLING ALL OF THE GOBLINS!

Then we sat back down to play for real, after about an hour of everyone milling about and bullshitting. They went to D13 and saw some paintings on the walls of goblins killing horses and dogs, and a giant 30-foot-tall goblin kicking lots of ass. I must not have done a good enough job explaining, because Greg says, "I look behind the paintings." I told him that the paintings were not hanging on the walls, but were painted directly on the wall! /facepalm

Jen also was commenting on how she liked her character (who she now named Barbara), but didn't know how she would ever find a mini for it. Then it dawned on me that I had one of these:

Goblin Warchanter Mini
It was perfect. It had a whip and a dogslicer, and it was female, just like her character. She was super-excited about it. The gods were smiling upon us at that moment.

So in the next room, there is supposed to be this wizard lady who happens to be black. I figured this would be a good spot to get Jen back in the game with her new character, since it was the room immediately before the descent into the 2nd level. In the adventure, this wizard lady is supposed to be just sitting here studying magic, waiting for the party to come beat her ass I guess. I changed it up a little and had her holding up a little goblin girl against the wall (Jen's new character, Barbara), choking her and yelling at her. On a meta level, we all new this was Jen's character, so the group came in and kicked her ass and we basically just hand-waved the fact that this was somehow a "good guy" goblin, and she joined the party.

Lyrie Akenja - Evil Black Wizard Lady

Then Jen commented on something no one really realized up until this point. She says, "You guys are terrible. Do you realize that you all just came in the room and saw a black lady and a goblin fighting with each other, and you killed the black lady? What the fuck?"

We all pondered this heinous act as her belongings were inspected and distributed amongst the group.

In the next episode, the party descends into the 2ndlevel of the Thistletop goblin lair...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lots of Pro Gaming!

My Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder group had an awesome 12-hour session this past Saturday! There was one character death, and also a really scary moment where all of us had a strong suspicion that a TPK was mere moments away. I really hope to have the stars align in such a way that I have both the motivation and the time available to post a nice recap. I don't know what it is, but gaming session recaps are something I have always struggled with. I don't know if it's because they can be so long (especially for a 12-hour session), because I'm afraid I'll get something wrong or embellish too much, or if I think it's a waste of time because no one reads them (I tend to skip over other peoples' game recaps in google reader myself, and I know for the most part my players don't care about them). Probably a little bit of all of those things. I'd definitely love to hear other peoples' thoughts on the matter. Are they a waste of time? Any tips for keeping up with them?

This weekend, I'll be playing in ChicagoWiz's Classic D&D Marathon at UGG in Grayslake. I'm super-pumped about that. I rarely ever play, and am looking forward to the chance to see another DM exercising his craft. I plan to stay as long as I can and try to stay alive as long as possible, but we'll see how it goes.

Then, at the end of the month, I will have GaryCon. This will be my first gaming convention ever, and it looks like it's going to be an awesome one. Here are the games I'm signed up for so far:

VIP Selection
A Matter of Minutes, OD&D White Box, run by Tim Kask
Alternate VIP Selection
Mystery at the Acaeum, AD&D 1E, run by Frank Mentzer

General Selection 1
Sailors on the Starless Sea, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
Learn to Hack!, Hackmaster Basic Tutorial

General Selection 2
Temple of the Mountain God, Rules Cyclopedia D&D
Staff of the Serpent Master, OD&D White Box

General Selection 3
DGS Presents: Cycle of Consumption, Call of Cthulhu d20
None Selected

I signed up for lots of games I've never played, and I also hope to get into some Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha action if at all possible.

Can't wait!

Nice Pre-Painted Orc

Gamorrean Bodyguard by WotC
I was browsing through some of the WotC Star Wars minis, looking for inspiration for a potential foray into Gamma World, when I found this dude (Gamorrean Bodyguard). I think he'd make a pretty good orc, and he looks much better than the ones that are actually supposed to be orcs, in my humble opinion. I'll have to give some of these Star Wars minis a closer look...

Mountain Orc by WotC