Friday, September 27, 2013

The measure of a man

The running joke is that the internet is all porn and cat pictures and it's true that fake breasts and cute felines with a craving for cheezburgers certainly consume a disproportionate amount of the world's bandwidth. However, I think there is a third pillar of the internet that is growing in strength everyday, that is, manliness. Massive bacon consumption, a killer porn 'stache and hero-worship of Ron Swanson are apparently the true measures of a man these days. Well balderdash, I say! (Crap, my monocle fell out...hold on). Let me tell you young whippersnappers what you require in order to be a man. Oh, and by the way, these guidelines are not limited to men, they will serve women well too.

1. Have a working knowledge of history: Now put down that smartphone and don't even think of consulting Wikipedia. No one says you need to know what year the Second Punic War started, but understanding many of the problems we face today requires knowing the history of those problems. How can you understand the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians if you've never heard of the Balfour Declaration? As George Santayana, a famous Spanish-American philosopher said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

2. Have a working knowledge of politics: Every adult should know the orientations of major political parties in his or her country. You should know what socialism and capitalism actually are, beyond the slogans you see on bumper stickers and T-shirts. If a politician is described as progressive or conservative, liberal or centrist, you should be able to guess what said politician's opinion will be on most major issues of the day. You should have opinions of your own and you should be able to defend them. You should vote. It matters.

3. Know how to do things: Change a tire or a light fixture, make your own beer or grow your own tomatoes, go hunting or fishing, own some tools and know how to use them. Be as self-sufficient as you can be, you never know when it may save your life.

4. Fulfil your obligations: Everyone has obligations, to your society, to your employer and most importantly, to your loved ones. Be the man everyone needs you to be. Get your lazy butt out of bed and do what needs doing. Be engaged. There are probably people who depend on you. There are certainly people who care about you. Put down the game controller and go help your wife with the housework or your kid with her homework. Invite your parents over and cook them a meal. Go shovel the driveway for your elderly neighbour. Pay your debts.

5. Be respectful: A real man does not insult or belittle others. He doesn't misuse other people's property or use threats of violence (but see below). When a woman says no, a real man accepts it. Oh, and if you disrespect my daughters I will crush you like a bug!


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Way of the Wicked: 1

I think this is going to be a very deadly campaign judging by the carnage present in session 1. First level characters are not known for their durability and I initially underestimated the added difficulty that would arise from being unarmed and unarmored. At least there were no pugwumpies. Session one started with 6 of the nastiest known criminals in the kingdom being sentenced to death in an inescapable prison.

Fortunately for the players the prison no longer lives up to its famous reputation. The present warden is uninterested in running the prison and basically spends all of his time staying in his tower doing magical research and leaves the daily running of the prison the the corrupt guard sergeant. The sergeant has let go a number of guards and just pockets their earnings now, he also runs a nightly rigged poker game that keeps half the guards away from their regular posts and a number of the guards drunk.

The second factor is a mysterious visitor who claims to know the Anti-paladin (he's never seen her before), she manages to get him alone and smuggles a magic object to him. Using that item (similar to a cloak of many things), the PCs manage to escape their bindings, and open their cell. After a short debate, they decide to spring the imprisoned Ogre after the Gnome sorcerer gets the Ogre's agreement to help them escape. Unfortunately the Ogre was drugged and seriously injured and with a lack of party healing capabilities the Ogre would go untreated.

The first part of the escape went fairly smoothly. The first few guards were quickly disabled and the prison seemed unusually empty as the criminals focused on escape rather than exploring, stopping only long enough to loot the guards of their weapons and armor as they made their way to freedom. The goblin rogue slipped out the doors and scouted around the main prison building noting the high walls. After spotting and being spotted by the dogs, the goblin slipped back inside where his companions were waiting. What followed what a mad dash for the gatehouse and what they hoped was freedom on the other side. Half of the party stopped to fight the guards that went to investigate while the rest  headed for the door. The guards got initiative and things began to go downhill fast. The signal horn was blown and within a few rounds reinforcements began to arrive.

A hole was made in the door and parts of the party climbed through into the gatehouse. The guards here were again disabled by the sorcerer but their companions in the connecting rooms used the arrow slits to poke holes in our anti-heroes. Back in the courtyard, the wizard  was unconscious and bleeding profusely from 2 lucky arrows, and the dwarven fighter opened the gatehouse door so the Ogre could escape as well.
The wizard would expire in the ogre's arms but was none the less carried through the gatehouse down the road and across the bridge that led to freedom.

This was not the end however as the bridge itself was fortified and the gate on the land side was blocked and defended. Several of the villains had an "every man for himself'" attitude and there was no real strategy on how to pass the gate. In the end the wizard died, the fighter and paladin were knocked unconscious and recaptured and the Ogre, who was never in good health to begin with, was killed as he attempted to scale the gate.

The heroes made it to the manor house of the mysterious benefactor, and were united with heroes that strongly resembled those that had just died or been recaptured. Everyone got 200gp to buy some equipment and three days to relax and recover from their escape. They learned they were not the only adventurers in the manor and did a bit of recon on the "White Ravens". Next their training was to begin but first they had to go into the dungeon under the manor and retrieve a silver and emerald amulet and return it to the Cardinal to prove they were worthy.

Things were not off to a good start but hopefully level 2 and two weeks to get a feel for their new PCs will have things running smoother when we play again in two weeks. I think everyone is still used to being level 17, reality bending super heroes from the end of the last campaign.