Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm a lazy, lazy blogger.

Just a quick update here. I'm currently running a weekly game that uses the D&D Next play test rules. They put out the final version of the public play test, which will make my group VERY happy to hear!(They've been very patient with my requests to rebuild their characters every month or two, haha!)

I'll post more about my opinions on the system in the future, but right now I wanted to say that currently I'm planning on picking up a copy of 13th Age. I've been reading a friend's copy, and while I'm not hugely fond of the over-inflated numbers it uses, I see a lot of interesting ideas here that make me want to try it out.

The odd part, though, is that it's clearly designed for "Epic Fantasy", which I've usually disliked as a player. Frequently, it seems to be full of unbeatable DM's pet NPC boss types and stories where the players are just along for the ride. 13th Age pushes the proverbial ball back to the players and encourages them to take a far more active role in the narrative than other d20 games I've ran, and systems like the one where you ask the players at the end of the session which elements they'd most want to see become recurrent seem like they'd lead to an emergent story that I tend to generally associate with my "old school" D&D games.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pre Generated Characters or WHYYY?

I was looking around my area for D&D games and came upon this description for one:

A thousand years ago, a thousand survivors of a holy war between the Believers; a group of devout warriors; and the Renouncers; an army following The Dragon Generals; traveled to an island surrounded by mountains and sealed off the only pass to or from the island. Over the thousand years of isolation all but a select few have forgotten the old ways and have also forsaken the gods. Now only one Believer remains; Mordeci, taught by his father to follow the path of the warrior and protect the hidden temple that contains their greatest enemy, the last Dragon General; Chernobog.
10 Years ago, a group of children from the island unleashed Chernobog and he has rampaged unchecked since. Too young to understand what they had done or to do anything about it, Mordeci called upon the gods for aid and they answered; the children fell into a deep slumber where they were magically aged into the adults they would have been and now, 10 years later, the 8 children responsible and Mordeci as the final Believer must go forth into the world and stop Chernobog.

I currently have 6 of the 9 players, I need three more to play the characters Liam, Sara, and Syd. A link to the site is below so you can check out the characters.

I think I shared it with about three friends before I realized that I had to know more, so I sent him a message:

Me: This is remarkably rigid for a roleplaying game, especially D&D. That's not a dig on your style, I'd love to know more about your technique and why you want to run this way. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Guy: Hey Danny, the reason is because I like large groups, it makes it more fun for me personally and as a DM, but unfortunately it also causes some problems when I have 8 people with wildly outlandish characters and it causes some backup in character creation as well as other things. So, in order to bring some much needed order to the chaos and be able to work my story around the characters individually, it is easier if I already have well-established characters who all have abilities I know about and can anticipate as a DM. It's also nice for bringing in people who have lives or who have never played before because it takes much of the out-of-game decisions about character stories and creation out of the picture so people can basically just show up and play as well as the ability to switch out players if something comes up and someone can't play anymore without having to work characters in and out.

The end result of this story is that I'm now running a dungeon crawl-centric game for some local tabletop players in my area. I hope they can manage to find some time in their busy lives to come up with names for their characters!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Great Tables, Mediocre Module

I love modules. I've rarely seen a module that didn't have something I could purloin for my own games, even if I usually don't feel like running the entire thing. Generally speaking, TSR modules became something I couldn't even run sometime in the 80s, around the same time they stopped being a map, a key and an explanation of various motivations of the involved parties.

One module that I always assumed I'd love is Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but in practice, it just holds very little appeal for me! Walk down crazy twisting corridors that are fairly linear in actuality? Thick mist that prevents you from seeing anything interesting? A huge chart showing how many spells don't work as you're used to them working(generally making the most interesting spells unable to function of course)

All in all, it's not for me, but it has some random tables that I completely love, especially the creepy regeneration one.

So here you go, my own version of the Creepy Regeneration Table, most likely to be used in my B/X games as the standard way the spell works:

Unpredictable Regeneration (d8)

1.  Scaled reptilian appendage
2.  Limb/Paw of an animal (1-2: wolf 3-4: horse 5-6: bear)
3.  Gelatinous pseudopod (1-3: ochre slime 4-6: green slime)
4.  Chitinous insectoid appendage
5.  Feathery bird wing or scaly, anisodactyl bird leg
6.  Versatile tentacle (1-3: slimy 4-6: clean and smooth)
7.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender) 
8.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The New New Dungeon!

I picked up a copy of the Dungeon! boardgame that Wizards just released and played with a few friends. It was great to get a new copy, because I threw away my copy of New Dungeon! during my last move, since it was missing too many pieces(foolish in retrospect, the board would have been worth keeping if nothing else!)

I'm enjoying the new release a lot and I feel like it captures the original pretty well. I'm particularly glad that there's no optional player ambush rules, because those used to just lead to hurt feelings more than anything else. My only problem is the new Wizard mechanic for relearning spells. It's a lot more friendly than the original 1975 game's "Wizards start with 10 spells, and when they're done, that's that." In the new game, wizards start with 1d6 + 6 spells and they can relearn one per entire turn spent at the starting staircase. That means you have to get to the staircase on one turn, then take an entire turn of "spell memorization."

This might not seem harsh in comparison to the original game, but as someone who grew up with New Dungeon! where you start with 6 spells and you regain all 6 the moment you reach the staircase, it seems a bit rough. Our first game ran long and it still seemed like the wizard was having difficulty against me playing the rogue (the new name for elf, actually a halfling on the card) and another friend playing the fighter. We both hit our required treasure totals around the same time and the fighter made it back to the stairs first. In the next game I played, we used the New Dungeon! rules for the wizard, and another footrace back to the stairs saw me as the victor over the wizard(a narrow victory!)

In either case, I prefer games to be fun, so I figure we'll just tell people playing wizards about both versions and see which one they want. It'd be interesting to see a game where two wizards use different styles. More up-front spells or faster memorization make for very different playstyles, and in any case, I'm delighted to see this game on shelves once more. I might even have to make some new cards on my computer to add to the game if it becomes as popular as I hope amongst my friends.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catch Up Time!

To bring everyone up to speed, Sweetgrove was a roaring success. Keeping up with it has kept me busier than I would have expected, even though much of it has been rehashing old modules I own. In the past 6 months the following things have happened:

  • The Caves of Chaos were poked into and declared "Not worth the effort" by no less than 10 different characters. 
  • A magic crown was excavated from the Tomb of Demara, an ancient king. 
  • A corrupted Druid was cured of a terrible curse in the western woods. 
  • In the southern swamp, the Black Knight held a tournament of chivalry. The quixotic Dame Varnell was the victor. 
  • An eternal winter has come and gone from Sweetgrove, the Winter King has been defeated and his castle looted by thieves. The Adventuring Guild gained a little more respect from the other groups in town. 
  • The Iron Ring slaver organization attempted to establish their trade in Sweetgrove. They were ousted rather quickly by a man named Fletcher. 
  • Mysterious nightmares plagued Sweetgrove. While a stalwart group investigated, they discovered an "undercity" full of mesoamerican-style architecture and at least one tomb under Sweetgrove. 
  • The wizard Kaine was driven mad by a magic crown sold to him by adventurers and fled the town. 
  • A witch(thank you, Strange Magic) decided to purchase the old abandoned shop behind the Inn which happens to contain an Undercity entrance. She sells brewed potions there. 
  • Far to the west of Sweetgrove, a ship went on a relaxing journey by sea when suddenly it was struck by a freakish storm. Everyone aboard was killed except a handful of rough-and-tumble sorts who found themselves washed ashore on the mysterious Isle of Dread. They went their separate ways after the events on the Isle, agreeing not to discuss what happened with anyone. Afterwards, a tsunami struck the western coast. 
  • The Iron Ring returned with an army and joined forces to the Black Knight. Sweetgrove was conquered for a time, but the Watch Guard Captain and Adventuring Guild joined forces to slay the Iron Ring Commander. The ensuing hero-worship has caused Fletcher to go into hiding.
  • Eerie mists coming from the swamp and a rise in 'accidents' have led to the populace believing themselves to be cursed. A small band of guild members hired by Sethel traveled to a Tomb of an ancient Hero and were successful in appeasing his spirit so the curse would be lifted. 

I'm sure that's not everything, because there were plenty of little one-shot trips into tombs, caves, temples, and keeps with characters and players that were never seen again(for one reason or another.) Now that we're reaching the seventh month since I started this project in full-swing, I think it's time to design a second settlement. I'm thinking of a city, larger than Sweetgrove, that can only be reached by traveling west, through the mountain passes and valleys that are known to hold tribes of giants. Maybe Fletcher can be lured out of hiding to lead a group Against the Giants!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sweetgrove Information

I've finally gotten off my ass and started running my Sweetgrove BD&D game, I'd been planning for almost a year now. It helps that I've brought all my other games to a satisfying conclusion!

Since the actual sessions are generally centered around dungeon crawling expeditions, and some my players have expressed aspirations to interact further with the people of the town, I made a forum to basically handle all the stuff that goes on between sessions.

The forum can be found at:

I'm still using Meet Up to play with other people, but the forum that they had built into the site was too limiting for what I have in mind! This way, people can post about their individual goals, messages between characters, and include their in-character session summaries for me to read.

At the moment, I'm willing to allow them to use the forums to exchange goods and services amongst each other, but I included the stipulation that the two characters have to have met at a session of actual play.

Since I was free this week, some of the players asked for small sessions with each other, and I was able to run three of them. I'm a little exhausted, but I consider it totally worth it, because those sessions went a long way towards fleshing out the city and surrounding forest.(For example, now there's apparently an ancient undercity complete with mesoamerican sculptures, statues, and ziggurats!)

The next main session is in a little less than a week, since I'm running every other Saturday, but some of the players are trying to encourage me to use Google Hangouts to run smaller sessions in-between the bi-weekly Saturday ones. I bought a webcam, but only time will tell if I actually go through with it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Attack Bonuses

You can tell I have a lot of time on my hands today, because I'm crunching numbers! I'm debating what attack bonuses to assign to the various classes in my Basic D&D game, and I think I've come to an interesting conclusion.

The original Basic D&D gives Fighters a raise of 2 every 3 levels, Clerics a raise of 2 every 4 levels, and Magic Users a raise of 2 every 5 levels.

I'm assuming that Fighters are going to have 1 for 1 progression, which is to say that they will get +1 every level, so I worked from there.

I divided Cleric(2/4) into Fighter(2/3) and got: .75, also known as Three-Quarters, the Cleric progression from 3rd edition?!

I then divided Mage(2/5) into Fighter(2/3) and got: .6, which is shockingly close to Half, their progression in 3rd edition.

Maybe the third edition design team was smarter than a lot of people assumed, haha!

So without further ado, here's the progression for Sweetgrove Characters: