Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blackmoor campaign - the party

First, there is our offensive line, looking like members of GWAR:

Dark (played by Thungkhtt) - Half-orc cleric of Calelrin (god of murder and deceit), hilariously forced to be the "face" of the party
Khaeliss (played by Tayloritos) - Human fighter, likes to play with fire, favourite combat maneuver is disarm
Crushack (played by K) - Human barbarian, man of mystery

Then there is the back-up:

Brogesterfel (played by me) - Gnome alchemist, master of the Molotov, smart, stealthy and weird
Shiz (played by D-bane) - Human wizard (evoker), imprisoned for fifty years, old and frail, now dead
Korianton (played by D-bane) - Human warlock, the new guy, friend of the late Shiz, tends to fly or hover a lot (arthritic knees, I suppose)

Finally, there is God....(played by Obiri)


The history of "Roll for Initiative"

As some of you may have noticed, this blog has been around for quite awhile, going all the way back to September, 2005 and predating most of the prominent gaming blogs of today. Back then, blogs were still cool and Twitter was something a bird did. In the early days, it was just D-bane and me. Obiri was MIA. Obviously, we weren't serious bloggers back then. There are only 15 posts in the first 9 months and most were movie reviews. Then it all stopped in June, 2006. My oldest daughter was born that month and my interest in blogging went from almost nil to completely nil. Interestingly, the blog and my firstborn were conceived at about the same time. I now have two daughters, with no intention for further procreation. I have an active gaming group and a lot more things to talk about in the gaming arena. Also, D-bane ran into Obiri at the 'Box and that gaming relationship was reforged. So, I revived the blog and as you can see, its new incarnation is far more lively (this is the 200th post since the revivication).

I also had a political blog back then which was much more active than my gaming blog. I grew tired of all the circular discussion and acrimony, however, so I discontinued it. I no longer wanted that stuff to be out there for the world to see, so I completely overwrote it by creating my other gaming blog Rognar's Space Horror RPG Blog using the same URL. I rarely miss the old blog, as I found enlightened debate hard to come by on the Internet (yeah, I know...d'uh!).


Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Campaign

Last night the new campaign began. Because most of us are fairly familiar with our normal setting I decided to set this one in Blackmoor. A second change, all of the characters are evil. Playing Evils is always fun for the players but a bit tougher for the DM since evil characters are much more unpredictable.

I think everyone had a good time doing silly voices, beating bar patrons senseless, ripping random people off, and setting their houses on fire. The final encounter of the evening was a bit tougher then I expected. The CR was quite high but when its the first (and only) encounter of the day, everyone has lots toys available to use.

I almost felt sorry when Derrobane's character met his end to a double rogue ambush. They were actually in place to keep the wizard from casting spells but one scored a critical hit and the 70 year old wizard was rather frail. Shiz, rest in peace.

The PCs killed the leader of the slavers quickly and after that the slavers fought less effectively. One of the rogues managed to escape so we'll have to see how that effects what's to come.

The final battle from the last campaign inspired me to make the environment more important in battles. The trees and bushes allowed the rogues to slip to vanish, but I'd like to introduce more hazards like quicksand, deep water, cliffs, traps. They make the fights more strategic allowing both sides to take advantage of them.

I'm looking forward to our next play night to see what happens next!

(Ed. note: We have been tasked with the job of investigating an increase in slave trading in the Great Dismal Swamp. Whole villages are being wiped out. Why such a vile group as ours has been hired to do this is not clear.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rippin' on Vampire: the Masquerade

It's about damned time.



Cthonian Stars, Lovecraft meets Traveller

Coming this summer, from the guys that produce CthulhuTech, Cthonian Stars is Lovecraftian sci-fi using the Traveller game system. This could be interesting, although I confess I find the Traveller system a little bland, with its emphasis on combat avoidance. It may be realistic, but not especially heroic or exciting. Of course, until CthulhuTech came along, rpgs that revolved around the Cthulhu Mythos tended to have a similar emphasis. I suppose my interest in Cthonian Stars will depend largely on how the guys at Wildfire chose to present it. I'm also somewhat hesitant to buy a product published by Mongoose. My first copy of the CthulhuTech core rulebook, an original Mongoose edition, fell to pieces in a matter of hours. I had never seen such a poorly-bound book before. I have heard they have improved their quality since then, but once bitten, twice shy.


cross-posted at Rognar's Space Horror RPG Blog

Friday, March 19, 2010

Conflict Roleplaying looks cool

Some nights you really want to roll some dice, but you can't get the whole group together. Conflict Roleplaying just might be what you need to scratch that itch. Get together with a buddy, roll up some Pathfinder characters and throw down. Probably not something you would want to encourage in regular play, but could be useful in running gladiatorial combats.


h/t Mad Brew Labs

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nogra the ghoul assassin, remember him?

A pretty cool character from our D&D 3.5 days. I can't remember if he survived? Obiri, we had quite a battle, no?

Nogra - Evolved Ghoul Rogue/Lurking Terror 3/3 (8 HD)
Str:16 Dex:22 Int:14 Con:N/A Wis:14 Cha:18
HP:58 AC:25 (+6 Dex, +2 natural armour, +5 armour, +2 ring)
Spd:30ft.; Init:+10
Fort:+2 Ref:+10 Will:+9

Feats: Weapon Finesse, Ability Focus (paralysis), Improved Initiative, Improved Turn Resistance

Skills: Move Silently +17, Hide +17, Spot +13, Climb +14, Jump +16, Balance +14, Use Magic Device +12, Tumble +16, Listen +9, Intimidate +9

Special Abilities: Darkvision 90ft, +2 natural armour, sneak attack +2d6, evasion, trap sense +1, fast healing 3, turn resistance +6, hide in plain sight, undead immunities

Attack: bite +11 melee (1d6+3+paralysis+disease/x2)
or punching dagger +13 melee (1d4+5/x3)

Special Attacks: paralysis (1d4+1 rds., Fort DC 23)
ghoul fever (1 day, 1d3 Con + 1d3 Dex, Fort DC 21)
haste (self only) 1/day 8th level caster

+3 leather armour
+2 ring of protection
+2 punching dagger
1 vial of dragon bile poison

I recall because of his undead immunity, he would envenom his bite attack by chewing on a sausage casing full of poison. This is the kind of character that's hard to build in Pathfinder. I'm not sure why they changed the rules for monster characters.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Catalyst Game Labs in trouble

Another gaming company in trouble due to negligent financial practices, if you believe the press release or outright embezzlement, if word in the blogosphere is to be trusted. While most of the discussion revolves around Shadowrun, CGL also publishes Eclipse Phase (although they don't own the IP), a game I am quite keen on. I will be watching this closely to see how it shakes out. Certainly it's bad news, but if Palladium can survive something like this, maybe Catalyst can too.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The slow death of West End Games...

...is apparently on again. Over at RPG Blog II, Zachary Houghton has a post on the latest news (if you want to call it that) about WEG and Septimus. Eric Gibson (owner of WEG) has been so out-of-touch lately, even the author of his shiny new game setting, Bill Coffin, can't seem to contact him. Mr. Gibson responds with some lame excuse about being too busy with school. I echo the sentiments of Houghton and many of his respondents. It's time for Mr. Gibson to get out of the business, or at the very least, sell off the Septimus license to someone who will be able to publish and support it, so Bill Coffin can make some money from his work.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rippin' on Original D&D

Ooooo, this one's going to generate some buzz on the interwebs. Zack and Steve at SomethingAwful.com take a swipe at:

Original D&D


Note: Don't worry, they save the last parting shot for 4e

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Sandbox campaign

Our group mostly plays published Adventure Paths. We're all busy professionals and don't have tons of time anymore laying out expansive campaign worlds with dozens of adventure hooks and encounters prepped. I don't have the spare brain capacity to memorize the stats of a dozen monsters (it doesn't help that 3rd edition+ monster stats are so much more complex then earlier editions). I would love to open up the world to everyone and say "Go play with what you want" but I honestly don't think I can handle that anymore.

Since I am trying to avoid a narrow path where the story drags the PCs from one encounter to the next I've decided to go with a mystery type adventure. The clues are hidden in various locations and its up to the PC to solve the mystery. Of course, events will going on in the back ground that will also effect the main plot. I don't want to script things to much since interesting things often occur during play sessions and it would be nice to be able to run with them.

I'm a bit concerned about pacing. I've been watching our CoT sessions and we seem to get through about 3 major encounters a night and so I've tried to plan accordingly. I've been trying to come up with some interesting encounter designs. Too often it's just fighting in a room. I can foresee some environmental obstacles coming into play which can either be a boon or bane.

Pathfinder + d20 Modern, Hmmmm

Okay, I like Pathfinder and I like d20 Modern. So, do they have anything to offer one another? That is a question I have to ask myself as I ponder the P20 Modern patronage project. For an initial buy-in of $50US, you get a .pdf and a hardcover copy of the finished project. For a $100US buy-in, you get a signed copy. This is no fly-by-night operation either, with big name designers Owen K.C. Reynolds and Stan! on board. They have to raise $70K by the end of April and they're way short of that right now, but as the date gets closer, I'll have to give it some serious thought. The truth is, d20 Modern is already a pretty solid game. I'm not sure what "pathfinderizing" it will actually do to make it better.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Review - Mindjammer campaign setting

Last month, I reviewed a FATE-based space opera game called Starblazer Adventures. Well, DriveThruRPGs just had another sale in time for me to buy the first campaign setting, called Mindjammer. The setting envisions a future in which humans have been expanding out into the galaxy for thousands of years using sublight ships. Naturally, contact with most of the colony ships is lost along the way and the ones that do maintain contact with Earth take decades or centuries to send and receive replies. Then, about 200 years in the past, Earth develops FTL capability and expands outward to reestablish contacts with the human diaspora and create the Commonality, a loose association of human colonies. Millennia of divergent development has created a plethora of different cultures and societies, some of which are not too happy to be receiving visitors.

Culture plays an interesting role in the setting. It provides aspects to characters derived from them, as one would expect. However, cultures also have their own rules for interaction with one another. The actions of characters can even result in societal changes, if a particular culture is not equipped to adequately deal with the stresses of making contact with the wider galactic community.

Another aspect of the setting is the Mindscape, a futuristic equivalent of the internet. Taking a page from the Traveller game, space travel is FTL, but interstellar communications are not. Therefore, AI spaceships, called Mindjammers, serve as nodes in the Mindscape, ensuring that all people of the Commonality have access to up-to-date information. Humans access the Mindscape directly via implants. This creates a sort of shared consciousness allowing the sum of all human knowledge to be available, although finding what you're looking for is not a trivial undertaking. The Mindscape also allows humans to display pseudo-psychic abilities.

Overall, Mindjammer is less pulpy than the default Starblazer Adventures setting, incorporating some cyberpunk elements and a more sophisticated approach to alien contact. I'm still not completely sold on the FATE game engine, being a fan of rules-heavy game systems and tactical combat, but it is growing on me and the wealth of good ideas in Mindjammer make it a goldmine for any space opera game.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The paladin is Doctor Manhattan, the fighter is the Comedian

As I watch Obiri's paladin dish out 60 to 80 pts. of damage per round, inspire his allies, heal his wounds, save against everything and even turn on the charm when it's called for, I am left with one undeniable conclusion, the Pathfinder paladin is the ultimate base class in the game. So here we go. In a few weeks, we are going to start up an evil campaign. Who's going to DM this? Obiri! The guy that just spent the last six months playing the most potent PC I can recall seeing in years, maybe ever. Boys, I advise running away as fast as you can from even the rumour of a paladin in the upcoming campaign. We are going to get spanked.


Monday, March 01, 2010

What is your favourite spell?

Is there really any better spell in D&D 3.5/Pathfinder than magic missile? In a game which features energy resistance and ranged touch attacks and evasion and concealment and cover and saving throws, isn't it nice to have the old standby to fall back on. That maximum 5d4+5 pts. may pale in comparison to the 10d6 or 15d6 spells of higher levels, but at least you feel confident of actually doing damage with a magic missile. The same can't be said of fireball. Sure, you occasionally get thwarted by a brooch of shielding or spell resistance, but compared to all the options available to defend against most other offensive spells, I'm happy to put up with a fizzle once in awhile. My vote is for magic missile.