Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Remember to Double Tap!

I'm counting down the hours till the end of what (for me) has been a pretty rough year, I generally don't talk about non-gaming things here, but on this last day of 2014, I'm going to make an exception, since it's had such a huge impact on my gaming. Oddly enough, it's been a generally positive impact...

My partner of over a decade left me this year, and it took her months of me trying to fix things before she finally left. And now that she is gone, I've been trying to keep the rest of my life together, which is why posting here has been more sporadic over the last couple of months.

What positive impact has this had? Mainly that I'm playing in more games right now. Sure, the big push was to get the hell out of the house, but the end result is pretty cool. Aside from the Castles and Crusades game I play Sunday nights which I was in at the beginning of the year, I'm running Wednesday Night D&D Encounters, a Friday night Weird New World 5e game, and playing in a Sunday 5e game.

I also ran DCC games at the Charm City Game Days, and won the Iron GM competition at Titan Games.

In addition to that, I've been slowly working my way through my mini collection and getting it painted up. I've slacked off the last month and a half, but with the New Year, I'll be diving back in. Especially since Bones II will probably be arriving in February (depending on customs). That's an extra 207 minis...

I also managed to get 280 posts written this year, as well as releasing 2 issues of my zine The Archmage's Octavo. That's fewer issues than I'd hoped, but more will be coming.

What does 2015 hold for the Tower? More gaming, more posts, more issues of the Octavo, and more minis. 5e is probably going to be a big focus of the year, but I think there will still be plenty of old school content!

Until then, let's put 2014 out of it's misery. And remember rule #2!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm a Killer DM...

My last session of 5e Stonehell ended in another TPK. I don’t pull my punches when I DM, and I tend to roll my dice in the open… so when things go poorly for the PCs, it tends to result in some dead PCs. Now, given that fact, and the fact that I’ve killed them off a couple of times now, I’ve kind of expected my players to catch on. And they have, sort of... but there is definitely a steeper learning curve than I expected. Rushing into a room of 5 orcs, even with surprise, isn’t a wise decision.

On the other hand, they did gang up on the orcs, so that they concentrated damage, but they didn’t let the spellslinger use his area of effect spell first… which would have made a huge difference. Also not helping them was the abysmal dice rolls. Even with advantage they were missing AC12 regularly. It was sad, but what’s a DM to do when Lady Luck has turned her back on the players?

Thinking about it afterward, I wonder if sometimes it might make sense in a situation like that to have a save point? Bring the PCs back to the surprise round, and give them a chance to do it all over again?

It wouldn't be so bad, but they Just. Keep. Dying!

It’s all academic for the moment. One of my PC’s started running Michael Curtis’ Glitterdoom adventure. Kind of funny that.. And it’s nice to get to play in one of his adventures! Of course my illusionist’s spells seem to have been exactly the wrong ones to pick, but nothing to be done about that.

But once Glitterdoom is done… who knows? Maybe I’ll run some of the DCC adventures I’ve picked up?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Magic Item: The Crown of Candles

Allianora stood over the dusty skeleton in the rotted robe.  Rathgar, Nimble, and Feris stood off to the side and looked around at the various murals that adorned the wall.  "She made this a haven against the darkness" she siad softly.

"Who did?" Feris asked.

"The priestess, for her followers.  They trusted her."  Allianora knelt down next to the body, gently lifting her skull and looking into it's empty eyes.  "She did the best she could for them, but they were overwhelmed.  The last of them barricaded themselves in here... they were safe, but trapped."

"What kept the attackers out?" Rathgar asked.

Allianora reached down to a dark circlet with several odd protrusions. "This." 

The Crown of Candles is a holy relic from ages past.  A silver circlet darkened with age, with two bands that cross over the top.  There are 4 protrusions spaced equally around the circlet, each designed to hold a tall tapered candle.  At the center of the cross is a fifth spot for a candle.  When worn by a female cleric or other holy woman of good/lawful alignment with 5 lit candles, it will provide light as per the spell until the Crown is removed.  In addition, all those of the same alignment as the wearer of the Crown will be under the effect of the Bless spell, and the area illuminated by the light will be under the effect of a Protection from Evil/Chaos.

Creatures of evil/chaos will be magically inclined to ignore the crown, should it be encountered unlit.  A Save vs Spells at a penalty of 4 must be passed for them to treat the crown as anything other than a silver trinket..

This post originally appeared here on 12/23/2010.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

I saw The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies yesterday in IMAX 3D, and it was amazing.

To be fair, I'd watch paint dry in Middle Earth if it was Peter Jackson's Middle Earth. I am that in love with the way he has brought that world to life over these 6 movies. Do I approve of all the story choices? No. Do I think he overused CGI at some points? Yes. Am I willing to overlook those issues for 3 more hours of hobbits and dwarves, wizards and wraiths? Hell yes!

Should you go see The Battle of the Five Armies? If you liked the other Hobbit movies, yes. If you didn't? No. It's pretty much that simple.

Now, I'm going to discuss a few things below that might count as spoilers.






Here's a funny picture, but seriously, spoilers below.








Ok, here they are, the spoilers!

I loved Dain on the pig! I loved the war rams too!! Seeing the dwarves fighting the orcs was great, especially the shield wall. I wish the orcs had been a little less Uruk-like. Thranduil's elk was awesome. "Because it was real" hit me right in the gut. Even though I wasn't a big fan of the inclusion of Tauriel, since I felt the storyline was unnecessary, I appreciate what Evangeline Lilly did with the character, and enjoyed the eye candy! Some of the orc monsters were a little over the top, but the troll with the stone arch as a helmet was fun. The fight against the ring wraiths? Kick Ass!!

I saw it said somewhere that the Hobbit films aren't great by themselves, but are great as prequels to The Lord of the Rings, and I think I'd agree with that overall. The whole 6 movie series really should be taken as a whole. Can't wait to do a mega-marathon with all 6 extended editions!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Battle of the Five Armies today!!!

In a few hours I'll be sitting in what will probably be a mostly empty theater (what do you expect for a noontime showing on a Wednesday?) watching the IMAX 3D version of the final installment of The Hobbit movie trilogy, and I am so psyched!

My thoughts on it tomorrow!  Be warned, I am a total fanboy for Peter Jackson's vision of Middle-Earth, even if I think some of his story choices are questionable. I'd watch 3 hours of characters in Dale or Lake Town or the Shire just walking around...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Iron GM Competition at Titan Games

Titan Games (my FLGS) on Saturday 12/13 hosted a local Iron GM event, which I wrote a bit about back on Thursday. Going into it I felt pretty unprepared. I basically knew I wanted to run it at around 6th level, but beyond that I wasn't really sure. What I ended up doing Thursday night was going through the Monster Manual and picking out some creatures that I thought would be interesting challenges. I chose the Mind Flayer, Night Hag, Helmed Horror, and Nothics to theme my adventure around. The germ of the idea I was playing around with was the laboratory of a Mind Flayer experimenting on local life (think mad Nazi scientist). I figured I could wrap that around just about anything that they could throw at me as the 3 secret ingredients.

The day of, I showed up with my dice, 5e books, Vornheim, a notebook, large flip chart pad, minis, and a battle mat. Looking over the space I'd have to work with, I knew pretty much instantly that I'd never be able to use the battle mat and minis, so I left them in the car.

6 DMs had signed up to play, but there were only enough players for 5 tables, and one of the perspective DMs offered to play. Ha! One fewer I'd have to slay in the SUDDEN DEATH ROUND*!

Just as things were set to begin, the DMs were sent off into the back hall, so that Kurt (the MC for the event) could introduce us one by one. By random pick I was #3. Each DM got a different song to make an entrance by. Somehow I ended up with Let It Go... Oddly enough, it got the best reaction of all the songs. Go figure...

After the introduction, the rules/timeline were reviewed.

  • 1 hour for players to make characters and DMs to modify/create their adventures
  • During this hour, DMs get 3 words they can say to their players. Anything beyond that needs to be said in a kobold voice while hopping on one foot.
  • 2 hours of playtime
  • 15 Minute break, during which there will be player olympics
  • 2 hours of playtime
  • DMs will leave their tables for judging
  • DM's will be called back, and awards made.
  • Any player that rolls a natural 20 is to yell "Banzai!"**and they will be given a prize (a random die). Collect 3 prizes (dice), and get a dice necklace, the benefit of which is upto the DM.

With that complete, the tables were randomly assigned by DM's picking sealed envelopes. The envelopes were opened by Kurt using Andúril, the Flame of the West (a slightly unwieldy letter opener if ever there was one). I got table 5 by virtue of the fact that DM #2 picked that table, but his wife was at that table, and that was seen as a conflict of interest.

Then the 3 secret ingredients were revealed!

  • Red Dragon
  • River Rapids
  • Amnesia

No, I'm not sure why the alliteration broke down...

The DM who stepped out of the running had brought in his massive Red Dragon mini. It was sitting off to the side on one of the unused tables. He yelled out "Whoever grabs it can use it!" Before he finished speaking I had lept into motion and had that bad boy in my hands. The other DMs all failed their initiative rolls, as they stood looking at me dumbfounded. (I really hope they got that on camera... and that it's as I remember it)

And with that, the first hour started! I walked to my table (with the "mini") and said "6th level characters..." paused... nodded... and walked away. One of the players asked how I wanted them to roll up ability scores. I smiled and shrugged.

My players, furiously working on their characters.

I stood a bit away from my table, thinking about what I had "planned" and how to make it work with the secret ingredients while chatting with Sarah, one of the store employees who was helping out with the event. Kurt noted my nonchalance, and I gave him pretty much the same answer I'd given to my players; a shrug and a smile.

Was I feeling nonchalant? Not really. In my head, I was thinking about the other DMs, seeing them work on updating their stuff, and working really hard to be as cool, calm, and collected as I was trying to look. At the same time I was tweaking what I had planned... instead of a mind flayer's lab, what if it was a mind flayer's psionically powered aethership that crashed, damming up a stream, that could then burst, creating rapids that the ship could ride down while the PCs were on it? And a red dragon... well, the PCs would start the adventure celebrating having driven a red dragon from it's lair! Amnesia... One of the monsters would have a poison that caused amnesia. Just need to be sure it got delivered... and that they knew about it. If it didn't, I wouldn't get points for including it!

When the hour was done, I went to the table, moved my seat to the end, rather than the middle, and started by introducing myself, and asking them what their RPG experience has been, and what sort of games they enjoy? Heavy RP, Hack and Slash? The experience of the group varied, but the consensus was that a good mix of RP and H&S was preferred. I then told them a little bit about myself, how I run games, and how if they want to try something that the rules don't seem to cover, I'll give them every opportunity to make it work.

If you're interested in what happened in my session, read on, If you're interested in how the event went without the actual play report, skip down to the Player Olympics, then down to the line under the big Banzai!! below.

I then checked out what they'd created. Joe (bottom left) had Selthis, 1/2 elf cleric of Selune. Nick (top left) made Clara the Wood Elf Thief. Sandy (Top right) Olda "Pock" Zook the gnome fighter, and Jim (bottom right) made Tal Goldwater the 1/2 elf chaos sorcerer of spice. I then gave everyone a +1 weapon (of their choice) and 2 healing potions.

With introductions out of the way, I set the scene, celebrating their victory over the dragon in the local tavern, the strange rumble that grew louder, and then everyone blacking out (as the damaged psionic ship passed overhead, though they didn't know that).

Upon awaking an hour or two later, they saw a streaming cloud of red heading off vaguely to the west. They immediately grabbed their gear and set off deeper into the mountains. After a couple of hours they came across a crater with a large black cigar shaped thing plowed into the far side. Tal the sorcerer cast Fly and began to investigate the crater while the rest of the party watched.

At this point, I decided that his spells were more likely to have a wild surge, and that he'd roll 2 dice for every spell, and 1 for his cantrips.  A broken psionic engine is going to have some weird effects, right?

I described the ship as black, organic, and ribbed, with several sphincter-like shapes along the side. Additionally there was a tear in the side, revealing an inner chamber. The other PCs came down, and entered the first chamber, finding it filled with strange suits that would fit emaciated 7 foot tall humanoids with only 4 fingers on their hands (including thumb). Strange clicking sounds emanated from the ceiling, while the scent of sulfur lingered in the air. The interior walls seemed to be made of the same black organic material as the outer hull.

Around this point I accidentally called it a ship. Probably they'd figured that out, but still...

They played with the suits for a bit, found a door into the main hall, and spotted a pair of robed creatures down the hall. They turned their single yellow eye upon them, and made the same sort of clicking sounds the PCs had heard in the other room. Tal and Olda felt a tickle in the back of their minds, and the creatures hissed "Failure" at them (it tied into their flaws). One of the creatures then went trough another door, and the remaining one attacked. A moment later 3 emerged through the door the one had just passed through. It was a good warm up fight that included a lightning bolt blasting not only 3 of the creatures, but also the door at the end of the hall.

After the battle the creatures were examined, and their one eye was made only more freaky by their 4 fingered hand and their 4 tentacled mouths!***

Skipping the other closed doors in the hall (including the cryo chambers, Succubus prisoner, armory with laser weapons, and Phase Spider transport gate operator) they headed to the blasted door. Beyond it was a second closed (but slightly burnt) door. They opened it and... that was the 2 hour break!

The Player Olympics was a short contest. Each table sent a single representative to guess the monster in a game of charades. Then they had to roar like dragons. I don't remember who won, or if they won anything, but I am kind of looking forward to seeing the video of that too.

The only thing I ended up using the flip chart for...

After the break, we got back to it, and I described the room: large, with a central glowing crystal pillar, occupied by a trio of nude near-human males covered in stitches**** and Granny Kazzy the night hag who invited them in to help. Tal jumped at the chance, while Selthis shook his head at his companion's foolishness. Nearly transfixed by the pillar, he failed to note Granny's approach, until she'd put her 7 spider-like fingered hand on his shoulder and began to caress him and talk about how much she was going to enjoy "probing his energy".

That was enough for everyone, and initiative was rolled. Selthis tried turning the trio of naked things, but they were not swayed by the power of the goddess of beauty. So he did the next logical thing, and cast dispel magic at the pillar.

I was not ready for this, and had to step back for a moment. What happens when an already damaged psionic engine is hit by a dispel magic? Nothing good... I rolled a saving throw for the engine. I rolled a 2. I told everyone to roll saves vs. Constitution and Intelligence. Clara and Tal failed their Int saves, and lost 2 points of Intelligence, and also had their memories wiped. The trio and the hag all died in the blast. The column flickered dangerously, as the crystal was even more cracked.

At this point the captain shows up along with a pair of brain worms***** and just lays into them with his brain blast. While effective, the spread out nature of the party made getting many of them into the blast difficult. The brain worms were dispatched pretty quickly by a very confused Clara (thieves with advantage for the win!), while the captain took a bit more work to finish off.

Just as the fight was ending, the ship shifted violently, and began to move. The red dragon they'd chased off a couple of days ago was back, and he broke the dam, releasing a flood of pent up water. He then landed on top of the ship, and helped it moved in the rapids by rocking it back and forth, bouncing the players around. They ran back to the tear, and jumped free of the ship, mostly in the mud. A couple of rounds later the ship exploded, tossing the dragon off to the side. It pulled itself up and took to the sky, screaming about the puny creatures that thought they'd forced it from it's lair. Clara climbed a tree, and shot an arrow with a line attached to it at the dragon, hitting solidly. The other end of the line was wrapped around her waist. Very quickly she was yanked from the tree, and found herself dangling about 40' below and behind the dragon.

Slethis commanded the dragon to land (another failed save) causing Clara to smack into the dirt... hard. The dragon breathed fire at Slethis in reply, causing him semi-serious burns. Some minor, but mounting damage followed on the dragon, before Selthis again commanded him, this time to "Flee!" so it did, straight up. Clara was still attached, but Tal used flame bolt to break the rope just in the nick of time.

Olda yelled at the dragon, pointing out that they'd already beating it once, in it's own lair, and that they were ready to do it again anytime and anywhere else. Then she rolled a natural 20 on her intimidation check.


The dragon, already being at about 1/2 it's hit points, and having already been beaten by the group, decided that hide was more important than pride, and flew away to fight another day!

Ours was the last table to finish, with about 5 minutes left on the clock. While I was up on how much time we had left, I hadn't even realized that everyone else was done!

After a too brief moment to catch my breath, the DMs were sequestered away, and voting commenced... The 5 of us chatted with a combination of nervousness, excitement, and exhaustion, and a short couple of minutes later we were called back to wait with out tables.

After the voting was done and everyone was waiting for the results

Honestly, I thought I had a good chance to place, but knowing the prep that the other DMs had put in (including the guy in the pirate costume!) I thought it was iffy. So when 3rd place was called, and it wasn't me, and then 2nd place was called, and it wasn't me... I sighed to myself, knowing that I'd done my best, and was happy with how I'd done, even if I hadn't won.

And then they called my name. I vaguely recall roaring at the camera like a dragon as I went up to accept my award. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to seeing that part of the video!

The Iron GM 1st Place Dice Tower

I am really blown away that my players rated me a better DM than the other groups rated their DMs, I know (since Kurt said so) that the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places was very small... so... Wow! Seriously still blown away more than 24 hours later...

And it never would have happened if Titan Games hadn't hosted the event, if the players hadn't shown up, and if the other DMs hadn't signed up. I had a blast, and I think just about everyone else did too!

A well earned celebration feast!

*There was no SUDDEN DEATH ROUND, sadly... I could have taken them...
**My table got into this, and we all yelled it together every single time (9 or 10 times over the 4 hours of play time)!
***Reskinned Nothics
****Reskinned Scarecrows
*****Reskinned Gricks with amnesia poison that never got used

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Iron GM incoming!

My FLGS Titan Games is hosting an Iron GM competition this Saturday. I signed up to compete, thinking that it sounded fun.

What is it?

It's like those cooking competition shows, where chefs are given challenges or secret ingredients. In this case, the DMs are given 3 secret things that need to be included in the adventure. It could be "Bodak, Banishment, and Boudoir" or "Ogre Magi, Opera House, and Oppression"

I don't find out until an hour before I'm supposed to run, during which time I need to adjust my adventure as needed to include those elements. At the end of the 4 hour session, the DMs are ranked, and a winner is chosen.

When I signed up, I thought the adventure needed to be crafted the day of, so I haven't really prepared anything yet. I thought it was more of an overall improve challenge... At this point, for me, it's going to be! Luckily my usual Friday night game is on hold till the New Year, so I'll at least have the next two evenings and Saturday morning to throw something together.

I think my strategy is to craft some level appropriate encounters, and then come up with a couple of maps that I can use. Maybe a town, village, and regional maps, plus a couple of dungeon maps.Then it's just a matter of making it all work.

I know some people go kinda crazy with props, projectors, minis, etc, but I'm aiming more for a theater of the mind experience with some solid NPC interaction. Too much stuff at the table, and I get too distracted. We'll see how that goes...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mary Poppins and D&D

Aside from the original bag of holding, I think there's a lot of potential inspiration from Mary Poppins that you could incorporate into your game. One thing in particular struck me recently though: not Mary Poppins, but rather Bert the chimney sweep.

Bert is a seemingly itinerant man who works a variety of jobs, yet knows the magical Mary Poppins. What if neither Bert nor Mary Poppins are human? What if they're fay? Mary from the Seelie Court, and Bert from the Unseelie Court?

Focus on the bit from 1:25-2:14.

Or if you want to take it a step further, what if Bert is actually from the Shadowfell, and so thrilled to be in the Prime Material Plane that he's irrepressibly happy? Yet, like the clip above suggests, still haunted a bit by things he's seen... haunted and awed even...

I can't be the only one who's gotten some inspiration from Disney. What have you been inspired by? And bonus points if it's not one of the cartoons!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jurassic Park

About a week ago the trailer for the new movie Jurassic World premiered. Honestly, I think it looks like it’s got potential. You can see it below on the off chance you missed it.

But I’m not here to review the trailer, but rather the movie that started it all 21 years ago. (Yes, I know the book came first, and yes the book is better than the movie. Shock. Moving on…) There are a lot of movies that have made extensive use of CGI over the last 2 decades that have not really held up well. Some do better than others, but really some of that early CGI work was… less than stellar.

Jurassic Park manages to hold up really well. I think this is because Spielberg didn’t rely upon CGI exclusively, but rather combining it with models and animatronics, and making sure the dinosaurs were living breathing animals, not monsters.

Beyond the special effects, it’s also a well crafted story, with characters acting in realistic ways. Nedry is greedy and sloppy. The children act like children, and even more than that, they act like siblings! Hammond is prideful, and all his decisions reflect that, even when his grandkids are in danger and he manages to mostly set aside that pride, the pride is still there.

It also strikes the right balance between horror and humor. The T-Rex chasing down the jeep, with Malcolm in the back yelling, then flip to the side mirror showing the T-Rex about to chomp down and the words “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”

Also, it’s a really easy movie to convert into an RPG adventure, and it would work for just about any genre or system. It’s just as easy to make it work as a d6 Star Wars adventure as it would be to convert into a 5e D&D game. Most gamers would probably be a little more aggressive than the characters in the movie though. For example, when Dr. Sattler and Robert Muldoon head out to turn on the circuit breakers, Dr. Sattler doesn’t grab a gun. That would never happen in any game I’ve ever seen, run, or played in…

Plus, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ancient Sagas of Everlance: Bees and Pearls

This report covers sessions played in November. As the month wasn't a great one I missed some of the games, so this will be a little more abbreviated than usual.

Cast of Characters:
Kelmar - ½ Elf Ranger
Beska - Human Mage
Myshkin - Human Paladin
Gefilte - Human Monk of Love
Arkane - Human Paladin
Lorain - Human Bard
Sima - Thief (human?)

The party made its way out of the city and several miles down the coast to the abandoned lighthouse. The bees were huge and mean! Attempting to smoke them out weren’t successful and we ended up going into the building to fight them. Unfortunately there were also a pair of vine monsters living in the lighthouse courtyard. Fighting past them, and the bees was a challenge, and ended up dropping Kelmar into unconsciousness.

Eventually the bees were wiped out, and the royal jelly collected, and returned to the druid Xoaddan in Cam. in return he provided the party with some “smoking herbs” and the agreed upon potions of water breathing.

Time was against the party unfortunately. The tower with the black pearl, hidden by the water, was due to make it’s appearance, and would only be visible for a single day. The trapped adventurers would have to wait…

Hiring a boat and rowers, the party set off for the tower. A long boat was already tied up to the top of the tower! Within the first (uppermost) chamber was a massive tome, and thousands of candles, all lit. The book contained names, most of which were crossed out. The party also encountered some pirates, all of whom were quickly dispatched.

The next chamber, after some rotten stairs, contained three portals to unknown parts. Each portal had a dragon’s head above it, and two of the three had gemstone eyes. The third had sockets for eyes. The first portal lead to a series of chambers divided by a river or lake, but a skeletal ferryman would take the party across. Some fights with more pirates, including the captain (Quinn, not an eskimo), a trapped chamber, and a rotten rope bridge eventually led to a tomb containing a massive body (8+ feet tall) wearing a golden crown, 2 rubies, but no pearl.

Returning to the portal chamber, the rubies were fitted into the dragon’s eye sockets. The portal was opened, and the party found itself in a large rectangular chamber. Most of the chamber, except for the ledge they were standing on and a circular area about 70+ feet away containing a large dragon statue holding the pearl, was filled with water that teemed with poisonous water snakes.

A bit of dithering, and a failed attempt to open the third portal, the party returned to the chamber with the water and the pearl. Lorian opened the bag of neverending rats into the water to try to distract the snakes, while Kelmar, Mishkin, and Gefilte waded into the water, heading to the statue. Unfortunately not all of the snakes were distracted, and they tried to swarm those heading to the statue. Mishkin didn't make it far past the stairs, while Gefilte and Kelmar made it to the statue, but not without injury. Getting the pearl out, while also dealing with the poison coursing through their veins. Eventually with Gefilte doling out some healing, Kelmar got the pearl out and handed off to Gefilte who booked it. A good choice, as the water immediately crashed into the open circle with the dragon statue, and began to rise up… The snakes, put off by the suddenly turbulent water dispersed, and the party headed for the portal. They managed to remain ahead of the rising water as they climbed the tower, and escaped through to the boats.

Returning to town the party sold off some of the extra loot they’d collected, pawned the pirate long boat, and collected the bounty on the pirate captain. The pearl turned out to be magic (shock) so more investigation into it’s powers are to be done before the party turns it over to the brothel owner.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dungeon Master's Guide Quick Review

So life, family, and friends have been keeping me busy, but I have managed to skim though the DMG, and I wanted to go over a few things that caught my eye.

First off, the overall impression that I get from this tome is of a tinker's tool box. There is a clear understanding that there is a zero chance that DMs will run their games as written. House rules, often based on table rulings inevitably and quickly creep in, and no two DMs are going to make all the same decisions. The DMG seems to embrace that idea wholeheartedly.

The entire final chapter is based around changing parts of the game whole cloth! New magic items? Sure. New Spells? Definitely. New races and sub races? Totally covered. Alternate XP systems? Yup.

Want to add rules for more realistic healing? There's an entire sliding scale of suggested options. Tossing in some lovecraftian madness? It's in there. Need some old school hirelings? I saw that in there too.

Oh, and monster lists? Remember how we were all upset the MM didn't have a list of monsters by CR? It's in the DMG. How about monsters by terrain type? Think that'll be useful? It's sorted by CR!

Random dungeons? 12 pages of charts!

Like I said, it's only been a quick skim so far, but there'll be more... so much more, and I've already found a few things I'll be tweaking in my game with what's in here..

And the art? Solid. I really like all the magic item illustrations. And that redhead on 243? Well, you'll just have to check her out for yourself!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for Gaming

2014 has been kind of a rough year. On the other hand, it's also seen me back at the gaming table to an extent that matches what I was doing in high school! Seriously, I've got 4 games a week going on, and while I'm DMing most of them (3/4) I'm having such a great time!

So today, I'm thankful for gaming. I'm thankful to my players, my DMs, my readers, my FLGS, and my friends over on G+. It would have been a much worse year without you all.

This morning I raise my mug (of coffee) to you!

I'm also thankful to have a little light reading... Jealous?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Impatient Players

In my Sunday night Castles and Crusades game, I sometimes find myself getting impatient when the action slows down and my fellow players spend what seems like an agonizing amount of time talking about what to do.

For example, in the last session we encountered a group of 4 pirates, including their captain. Now the party has already slaughtered a number of pirates in this dungeon, but the captain offered parlay, and suggested that we work together to overcome the dungeon, splitting the treasure. The 7 of us huddled together to discuss our options. Very quickly the pros and cons were hammered out, and the general consensus seemed to be that pirates are not to be trusted.

But then the talking continued… Maybe it was just me, but it seemed that it was just going to continue… on and on… In reality, it probably was only just an extra minute or two, but more and more I could feel my patience failing, so I targeted the captain, and loosed an arrow.

I missed, but it focused the party on killing the pirates, which we did with remarkable speed. And I made up for my missed shot by delivering the killing blow to the captain with a charge attack using a broad sword.

I'll be honest, it felt good. Not just landing the killing blow, but getting the action moving.

On reflection though, was I being a bad player? I don’t think I was… we weren't talking with the pirates, we were just rehashing what we’d already discussed, and given how limited my time to play as a player actually is, I want to spend it actually playing!

Any other DMs have the same sort of problem when you play? Or is it just me?

Monday, November 24, 2014

#6MMRPC Week 12 KotDT!

Yeah, like everything else this month, weeks 10 + 11 were completely skipped. No progress was made on much of anything... this week though I'm back at it, and focusing on my goal for the month: Knights of the Dinner Table and Dork Tower minis.

I decided to prime them black. Not sure if that was a mistake or not. I've gotten very used to painting over white, both with the bones minis, and most everything else recently.

It did show me that I missed a fair amount of flash and mold lines on my KotDT minis, which I then had to re-clean. I do find myself wishing they all had the same size base. And yes, I know this is a crappy shot, but honestly, it's all just base colors at this point, no details. Not that there are a lot of details on these minis... (big part of why I choose them as my goal for the month)

Not too much work on the Dork Tower minis yet.

And here's a group shot. With the holiday this week, I'm hoping to have some time to finish them up before the next update. However the DMG also comes out this week, and I know that'll eat into my time a bit too...Getting them all done is still the goal though, even if I have to put the DMG down to do it!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Inspirational Image: At Dawn

Dawn is such a hopeful time... A renewal of the world. The chance for a new beginning. Whether it's a frosty winter morning, or a dewy summer day that promises to be hazy, there's always hope at the break of day...

At Dawn by artbytheo

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Breaking the radio silence

I can’t remember the last time I went this long without posting… Probably back when I was finishing up my Masters Degree, but even then I tried to get some posting in as I could… But life, as it so often does, has thrown a number of monkey wrenches at me, and I failed my Dex saving throws to dodge them. Between getting a hellacious cold and an avalanche of personal bullshit I had no attention to spare for gaming in general and the blog specifically. I haven't even picked up a paint brush in weeks...

On the upside, I’m now over the cold (mostly), and the avalanche seems to have subsided. I’m starting to dig out from the mess it’s left in it’s wake, and getting back into my gaming grove. The cleanup will be an ongoing process, and one that isn’t likely to end anytime soon but at least it’s underway.

I don’t know how quickly I’ll be getting back to my previous near daily posting schedule, but things will be picking up!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Inspirational Image: The Plague

The plague has arrived at The Tower, and none of the clerics seem to be able to do anything about it...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Chopping Mall

Saturday, my FLGS Titan Games, hosted a Halloween event they called Chopping Mall. A zombie survival game set appropriately enough in a mall. There were around 16 players, each with their own survivor. Most of us had built our survivor beforehand, and had painted them up, but a few were built almost immediately before the game.

The rules were based on the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, with a base 4+ on a d6 to kill a zombie. Different weapons had different effects, as shown below:

Survivors had 2 wounds each, or 3 if painted. Taking a wound infected the survivor, but there was a chance to avoid turning if you removed the limb, if the limb was what got bit.

The board filled a 4*6 table, and included a lot of the usual mall stores. It was neat seeing it come together over the last couple of weeks. I have to admit when I was in on the Wednesday before I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be done in time, but the guys at Titan pulled it off.

The game itself had the survivors starting in random stores, and almost all the zombies in the corridors.

And this is where I died...

Things didn’t go too well for my survivor. While I managed to kill a couple of zeds, mostly through my use of Molotov cocktails, I got bit pretty early on, chopped my arm off, and then got bit again. I did turn into a super zombie for a little bit which exploded when it died, so that was fun!

Overall I had a blast, and i can't wait to see what they've got planned for next Halloween!