Monday, June 29, 2015

Phandelver ( Part 1.1 )

So they made their way through the cave and so enter the redbrand hideout by semi unconventional means, seeing before them a large semi natural cave they are at the south end of, with a chasm from south to north through it's floor and they on the west side of that chasm. A pair of bridges cross it and a pair of natural stone columns support the ceiling. And something not quite human lurks behind the closest column.

Well, it they look closer and it's a man sized creature with one massive eye. At that point it starts speaking into their minds "What are you doing here?"

Now the responce - it seems a little meta. A little fourth wall breaking. A little deadpool. They say they live here now.

I mean, who says that straightfaced in real life? But if you're half out of character because you're half in the meta, then why not? But in real life it's actually a little lunatic to say that with a straight face/conviction.

On the other hand they don't just discard the idea of negotiation (in favour of, say, hacking anything not them to bits). Even when the paladin detects it as evil (which, I try to explain, doesn't mean it's somehow right to kill it - though it does mean it's probably a jerk and a douche)

The rogue decides to rush up and...spread marbles!

I think he expect it to be dazzled by shiny objects as it's a monster - now I haven't checked, but I'm wondering if the creature actually has a higher INT score than the rogue.

In responce it reads his mind for a dark secret - so I prompt the player to describe his background that he said was detailed. I may not recall correctly, but I think at first there was something about wanting to be the best baker in town...and really, is that a dark secret?

So I push some more...and some more...and I get something about him having killed his rival!? Whoa! Paydirt! There's a sudden, juicy chunk of meat on the table!

"Ah, my little marble murderer! Such a delight you are!" the creature (a Nothic) whispers into his mind.

Someone just made a friend!

Well to be fair it wanted food and even though they were practically still in town and could buy food, they decided to hunt anyway - catching several rabbits as the passing roll has it. Which they offered to the creature who took them happily. With that, they began to examine the exiting passages from the cave and make their choice...

But that marble murderer moment would tie in in a perverse poetic justice latter on...


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Phandelver : Part 1

So, it was a return to Phandelver indeed. One new player, one semi new player, one player from a long time ago, two semi regulars and one regular.

I asked for them to peruse the motivations from the princes of the apocalypse book - I'd photo copied them so as to make that easier (it wasn't for personal use - I handed it to someone across the table! Take that, copyright!). But as much as I leave players to monitor their own HP, I didn't write down their motivations - I think I remember some, like 'best served cold' and someone was after the mud wizard. I'll write them down next time.

So they'd already played part of this under another GM and now found themselves leaving a goblin hideout and entering Phandalin.

I'm not sure I'm excited by this format they seem to use of presenting a whole lot of buildings and hoping the PC's kinda get excited or something about them enough that they get this quest inside. The druid player did investigate the shrine and spoke to it's priest and of her woes a bit, but then it was back to the pub. I went from player to player asking one at a time what they do (otherwise they both tend not to do anything, then they latter think how they didn't get to do anything - to be fair, the louder voices do tend to do the most if you don't go from player to player). So they ate some crusty bread and heard various rumours. I actually found the rumour of someone in the village being killed as quite strong, brutal even in tone. Nup, not a ripple amongst the players - though who knows, sometimes the players with a PC who'd care, well, the player gets caught up in keeping up with the group. So you get a hive mind effect - and if the hive mind shrugs at murder, well it does. And maybe the pally just didn't hear me read the rumour - it was loud in the shop!

So instead the pally seems to get piqued by a rumour of some child having found a secret tunnel in the forest that leads into the manor ruins on the side of town. After speaking with the child who knew of this other kid, they decide to rest the night because (at a guess), the goblin hideout probably beat six shades of resources out of them!

Motivated by this random direction, the PC's awake from their luxury one gold rooms the next day and head out... More next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The success of a nation entirely filled with fantasy writers

I think people used to come from a position where they operated their own food production and supply (sometimes known as a garden or farm) - then they did zany or odd things so as to curry favour amongst other people and gain goods or currency for that zany.

Now people operate their own zany or odd production behaviours. You can't stop being those things. Sure, you might not want to stop, but that's a bit like wanting to have, say, sex - when you couldn't say no anyway.

But everyone finds the sex examples extreme, when really the extreme is just to highlight the moral principle. If I described a forest being lit by a single match to show how a camp fire can be lit by a single match, everyones fine with the plan - but show the loss of personal protagonism by comparing it to such a thing at a sexual level and everybody loses their minds!

Annnnyway, I think perhaps a lot of people act as if they come from something, as if they accomplish something - like they would if they ran their own food production and supply. But now they've transfered their sense of accomplishment to...the zany. The odd.

Like a fantasy writer.

Or one who makes money, anyway.

(yeah, this idea might not be in human readable format - but it goes to show just keeping it in my head wasn't making it go forward. Needing some writing)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Return to Phandelver

Due to a sad pet event, didn't run a game last Saturday.

I'm at a games club with multiple D&D tables basically with an organiser. Since I keep getting new players (who in order to play at all turn up with a level 1 character in a dungeon for level 4 or 5!) we're looking at running the starter set for new characters to run through the POTA characters to recruit from - at least it's tuned to low level characters.

But I want to keep the 'story hook' part of POTA. I think of them more as motivations than 'hooks', but regardless the starter set doesn't really have them. It has a Dwarf who goes 'go do some task for me'. That's not really personal like the POTA motivations, which include wanting revenge on a guy who almost killed you and killed everyone else that was on the same boat as you. Now that's meaty! I'm hoping they have more motivations like that in latter D&D products - I should write a letter, I guess.

But anyway, I need to work out a list of motivations for the starter set - I need a list to ensure some amount of choice (and hey, if a player has their own motive in mind - one that the character would risk their life for, cool - saves me some work! :) ).

And I want to try and make the motive work in the starter set and in POTA.

Thinking so far of maybe the 'hired hand' hook in POTA, extending it that some of the mercenary bands that the cultists used were the redbrand ruffians (spelling?) from the starter set.

But that's just one motivation! Not much choice in one option!

Also I have no printer, so I'm gunna have to scratch it out or take it to the local print shop.

Edit: I keep calling Phandelver 'Phandalin'. My apologies! Have edit it!

Next Bit!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

D&D 5E; Princes of the Apocalypse (P.4) : Watery grave...wait, watery bedroom!

Didn't run the game as a sad pet emergency occurred, regretfully.

To wrap up the events of the prior session: Shargoth and Angrog start exploring the room they've never been in before and it's at about this point I decide that it'll be above the difficulty rating of the game for the ghouls who are waiting inside to simply destroy them with their lack of gear and lack of HP. So I have them make perception checks and when one passes, give a warning that there seems an ambush here. At a higher difficulty of play you'd expect players to map and to figure in advance a retreat plan. Here the players didn't map and started to explore new rooms rather than swim across a lake (which is partly understandable as you don't know what's underneath - on the other hand they already killed a monster that came out of it) to an area they knew of.

At some point I've really got to write up a difficulty chart.

So they retreat at the hint and decide to swim the fairly still, calm lake. I think they keep expecting water to just kill them by drowning - I blame video games of the ninties where all water was lethal. See, video games can teach you adverse behaviours!

I say if it was some raging ocean or atleast choppy water they could potentially drown, but as is they both are skilled, it's very calm water - the worst that can happen is they move slowly and don't look particularly cool as they cross the water.

When they get across, they get back to the room with the dead bugbears - the fight that started this whole mess. Long story short, fight tough bugbears while they are low on resources - then the room to the north opens after the fight and a bunch of reavers enter the fray! Being a nice GM here (and slightly incompetent), as the room text says the north room occupants would hear a fight in the south room and join. I read this AFTER the fight and so had the north room burst in then. Which is advantageous to the players. But still, they had to run - and run they did and many things happened including dragonturtle...but I digress, as there has been much that has happened before this chronicle was begun.

So they get back in there real quiet like and start looting the dead bug bears for gear. Again I'm nice and have them find gold on the bugbears, as per the dungeon text (rather than, say, the north room occupants having already looted the bodies. I see that as a possibility, but I think it raises the difficulty of play above the setting aimed for currently. Really need to work on that chart...)

Long story short they still end up partially alerting the north room and then meet up with Reed, who I'm not doing justice to by skipping his attempt to also con a Reaver, subsequent return to prison and second break out and then flight across the bridges (including the bridge that the troll he scammed lives under).

They get into a room with weird backpacks with canisters on them. Finally! The proton packs! We can do ghostbusters!

No, no, no - they are copper canisters with some fluid in them that...when they go to jame each door of the room with them, the fluid moves weird. Yeah, they planned to rest here and use these copper drums to jam each door. The room that happens to be right next to the north room full of reavers. And when they go to jam the doors they find the water in the drums moves weird. And they blocked every door out of the room with these weird drums.

Then they nap.

Surrounded by Reavers and weird water, do they ever wake up?

And that finally covers the previous two hour session!

Gygax would have killed them by now. But I am not running at Gygax difficulty, because it's rather extreme (though I'd like to run a game at higher difficulty some time. Not sure I myself would survive at Gygax difficulty!!). Do need to work on that chart!!

Next Bit!

Friday, June 19, 2015

D&D 5E; Princes of the Apocalypse (Part 3) : Between a Troll and the deep dank cave pool!

Okay, so what do you do as a GM when you've got that prison scene coming up and you kinda just dread going through what will likely end up at nothing? I mean sure, players sometimes come up with some crazy plan and get out. But if they don't, then it stops dead and you find yourself fast forwarding to them being taken out and basically going to court. And if they didn't get a crazy plan in prison that worked, probably at court they wont either.

So you figure some psuedo-and-made-up-on-the-spot puzzle to get out!

There's a troll under one bridge in this dungeon and there's another bridge near the prison window - so I figure maybe the troll patrols sometimes (pun not intended). So there's a figure walking under the water - everyone's lousy at perception rolls, so I ask who have they met before in this dungeon. Actually Angrog remembers the troll (and a bunch of others) off the bat - it's nice to be remembered for once!

It's been about a week now, but as I recall their opening diplomacy involves throwing stones at the gain it's attention!

You know, I really, really want to record the dialog at my table - because it is so hard to remember all the crazy nonsense afterward, but it's all really engaging at the time!

I want to record it because now I have to cut to the chase - Reed offers the troll all the money under his bed if he comes and lets them out. All of the money under his bed would be zero money, of course. So there's a bit of a firecracker once the troll finds out - which is quite shortly after as he opens the prison door and comes in to look!

As I recall, they all pretty much book it out the door - except the honest barbarian Shargoth, who the Troll spots before he can sneak out. The barbarian gives some line about having to go catch that rogue for the troll and rolls a nat 20 persuasion roll, IIRC! So troll and Shargoth are best buds and Shargoth heads out - somewhat confused himself as he maybe needs to catch the rogue now to be honest?

They go south, as things are in general - and find themselves at a pier overlooking a lake. They can see off in the distance (about 160 feet away) a shore they've been on before.

But everyone is terrorfied of the water! But they've dead ended themselves - they are stuck between the troll coming down the corridor and the water! Well the rogue decides to climb the rough stone wall and kinda hide by clinging to the ceiling, semi Jackie Chan style. Shargoth and Angrog, being jocks (ie, having athletics as a skill) finally decide to swim to a closer dock than the far shore. And then Shargoth is the only one who fails to hide from the troll.

Troll: "You got that rogue yet?"

Shargoth, floating in water: "Uh, no? Still trying"

Troll: "Okay, that's good! We get him, yeah!"

And the troll slips into the water to head toward his bridge, hunting around for Reed the rogue as he goes.

There was even more than this - Shargoth and Angrog climb up and enter...the room of the many, many ghouls. And Reed goes back to prison!

And that's not even the two hours over, yet! And I'm running the next session of princes of the apocalypse tomorrow!

Part 4

Monday, June 15, 2015

D&D 5E; Princes of the Apocalypse (Part 2) : Doing time for dungeon 99

So the PC's are (spelling is hopefully correct!)

Shargoth: Level ~4 barbarian
Angrog: Level 2 fighter
Reed: Level 1 Rogue (just showed up!)

Anyway, the Reavers go on to mug the PC's. Again in my mysterious GMing way I have one reaver simply watch and laugh as the others fight, so as to file the numbers down even more.

I'm rolling outside the screen and the barbarian goes down pretty quickly due to good rolls on my part and bad rolls and out of rage on his part. The Reaver starts searching his body (and by chance, does a stabilisation roll - hey, I'm a nice GM!)

Angrog is rolling a series of bad rolls and not getting very far.

The rogue manages to crit (I kinda thought that would happen!) and then fell one of the reavers that is fighting.

However, he goes on to attack the reaver who is searching the barbarians body.

I get the logic - maybe the searching Reaver would kill the barbarian if the rougue teams up on the final reaver. Actually I have taken unconcious PC's hostage before (but no direct kills) - not that this player was there when I did that.

On the other hand, focus fire on the last guy might have been the better option.

As it was, they all got beaten down!


Now, as it happens in the text there is a prison in this dungeon - where the PC's can end up if captured, until the boss of the dungeon figures out what to do with them.

How did they get out of it? Well, since they are super diplomatic, it involved throwing rocks at someone from the window of the prison...

That's a story for next time!

Part 3

Sunday, June 14, 2015

D&D 5E; Princes of the Apocalypse (Part 1) : Listen at doors!

Well, we start deep within a fairly watery grave dungeon.

Previously the party picked a fight in one room and then as the dungeon has it, the group in the room just north burst through the door. And the party was already pretty dilapidated from fights before this - they all ran!

This session, because of the drop in/drop out nature, two of the beat up PC's are just not there - I really have to figure a result for this. Because otherwise it's winning (surviving  conflict) by NOT playing and...that really is anti game!

Anyway, so many things happened this session - all because a player forgot to listen at a door before they opened it!
See, you hovered over and listened - this room has gold! You can hear it!
These are the things you listen at!

To be honest the players had just been opening doors willy nilly about a dozen times before this. But when they are all on HP in the single digits...

But people forget the basics.

Funnily it was a barracks - there was a chance of all six occupants being asleep (roll 1D6 to see how many are asleep)

I say "You really want this to be a six" and roll in front of the players! Nup, only three are asleep!

They are a bunch of reavers and after the players try to (now getting kind of old) 'were the cleaning crew' routine, the reavers decide they want to mug the players - bustling them out of the room and closing the door so they don't have to let the priests in on the take (or worse, the cult priests stop the mugging!)

Players don't want to part with all their gold though. And the rogue (who just dropped into the party out of the blue because drop in/drop out play (gunna have a post about that soon how it makes characters into caricatures)) goes for the sneak attack - and fails. Okay, the player suggests maybe they might not have noticed the arrow and I'm a little kind because it's such a bad shot I let the rogue make a deception check to see if the arrow was even noticed. He rolls well, so he had aimed it in such a way that if it failed, it wouldn't be noticed (perhaps stealth would be a better roll for that, but whatevs).

So kind - only for him to fail the next ranged attack anyway! Screw it, they've noticed him - the reavers were going to beat up the PC's anyway and now it's on regardless!

And that's like the first five minutes of a two hour session! Oh yes, it went downhill even further - hilariously so! I'll try and continue the report tomorrow!

Part 2

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I'm surprised there's no site that funds artists through advertising

Like people come to it and look at adverts, gain points and then they can distribute points to artists they like (and preferably some points are randomly distributed so you don't just get the starving artist/flattering artist extremes).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How much do 'consumers' seek community from the business they are actually funding/supporting?

It struck me the most with a particular kickstarter that had the speel "we treat our community members like they are family"

I get the sentiment, but think about it - how often are you trying to sell products to your family, to get money out of them?

Yet at the same time, being a social specie, we are all looking for some kind of community to enter, maybe?

I guess it's the really big companies, like Valve, who are so big it seems like they don't need your money that pass off the illusion of being a community the best. Because you're just part of them, right? And that money - well, it was a pittance - it's not what really matters. It's not what matters to Valve. Not really.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015