Cancon retrospective

29 January, 2012

Well, that was that. Good times had by all. What I did get out of the event, apart from level 17, was an insight that has made me break my new year’s resolution.

There were a number of dudes there rocking the untrimmed beard, and I realized that it was really not a look that I wanted for myself. So, #4. Looking sharp.

I will definitely retire Jerimiah II at level 21. The epic rules are just not that nice. Instead, I will got Githzeri Monk. By the Con rules, I can sacrifice 10 levels to negate the +2 level adjustment, and 6 levels for a +3 to Wisdom. A githzerai gets +2 Wis and +6 Dex, so it should be survivable.

BT did well, afaik. And recieved the “best vendor stall” award! Nicely done. Perhaps raised the bar a little, which is great. I had a chance to show off my roadie skills, such as they are.

Manda’s game tomorrow, Serpent’s Skull on Friday, then Paranoia. I am running a LARP – One of the 3 games at RokCon. Even if it’s not as worked out as I would like it to be, it should still be good. Or at least ok. Hope I don’t disappoint.

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CanCon day 0

26 January, 2012

We set up the Bunyip Toys stall today – hauling stuff, moving shelves around. Good times. Andrew has set out his stall, looks great.

Ran into Salvatore. Told him I shall bring my minis. It seems the rumours of a theft were true. The hard thing would be to know that the thieves probably threw the minis out, or had their joyride and set fire to the car. On, the polymerantity!

MilSims was set up and already taking people’s money. Some total, total, total bastard swooped in and bought all of their D&D miniatures booster boxes: of which they did not have many. Meh: $300 and a bit. One and a half roots. Totally worth it.

They still have heaps of starter packs, Drizzt scenario packs, and a couple of Orcus boxes which, I must admit, look fab. Thinking about it … I’m tempted. He’d set off my colossal Red Dragon nicely.

They also have those dragons collectors boxes, which is great because my order from Wizards got cancelled due to limited stock. So now I have both the beholders and the dragons collectors boxes which is great. The dragons have all five colours. I already have a couple of blues, and the one in the pack is that same old crook looking mini with the wings bent over to one side. It must be in the mould. But now finally I have an adult green, red, white, and black.

I have already packed the minis for Sal’s game – not really sure I want to unpack it and put the new minis in the right boxes. But can’t hurt to open a couple, right?

8 Lords of Madness (huge) boosters. I’ll open two.

Hmm. A triceratops. Meh. But might come in handy for Serpents Skull. Huge blue dragon. Good looking. A Volcanic dragon! Pretty. Small scorpion – wouldn’t mind a few more of them. I have a couple of large ones. An Arcane Portal. Nice. It will go in with the scythejaw trap. Some humaoids. Meh. Hey! A gnome with an orb! I have plenty of halflings, but not enough gnomes. A stone giant. Meh. Rotgrub swarm! That looks … faintly obcene, actually. It goes in with the spider, scarab beetle, and rat swarms. Wouldn’t mind a couple more of those, either.

12 Demonweb boosters. Opening two again. Another fucking blue dragon – ok: this is starting to get on my tits. An mushroom! Now I have two. One mushroom is a mushroom, two is an encounter. Humanoids, a mummy. An infernal armour – again: I have a couple, now. More fun in groups. And a dude with four arms. Meh.

And 16 Dangerous Delves. Two more. You can see the L mini in the bubble pack. A shade dissapointing – another goddamn Aboleth Slime Mage. WTF am I going to do with half a dozen Aboleth Slime mages? Oh yeah. That’s right. I was threatening to run a pirate-themed campaign at GG for season 5. Bwahahahaha! I want to see brown on those seats when they explore the undersea have and find out what they are up against.

Giants, trolls. The bubble packs are sealed, so out comes the blade.

Ripped off! One large mini, and four more. Undead, undead, another arablest.HUman, goblin, Snake swarm, Yuan-ti. The Yuan-ti might be handy for Serpents Skull.

Nope – the Dangerous Delves packs are disappoint. No wonder they sealed ’em.

Anyway. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I shall have to spend a pleasant hour or two sorting them and counting them. I unpack ’em – I am not a “collector” in that sense. I use ’em for games.

But that’s in the future. For now, I intend to be at CanCon 8am. Crap – must fix up my character properly. Last Con I wound up rooting the dryad and I’d like to do her as a cohort. Druid levels, of course … except that summoning is a pain. The minis are packed and will stack precariously on the bike.

(Fuck, I have got to get down and write this thing for RokCon. It’s next week!)


Manda’s Game

25 January, 2012

GG Season 4 is starting in a few weeks, but in the meantime I’m dropping in on Manda’s game. The idea would be that it would be nice to have an experienced player along.

I’m not 100% sure it’s working out well. On a few levels.

First, she is running Age of Worms, which I have DM’ed in the past. So I have to be careful to not give the game away. But this means that I can’t really play the game fully.

She has a table of new players and one copy of the pathfinder rules. This means you have new players playing spell casters, which is always a bad idea but there’s no help for it, really. After last week, however, I think that you are better off with a party of fighters and one rogue than a balanced party played by newbies. Just so long as the DM gives the party a wand of Cure Light that’s been finessed so that UMD is not an issue.

Compounding the spellcaster issue is that the standard character sheet provides these annoying, bitsy little boxes for your spells. Paizo ought to take the spell casting slots off the standard character sheet and release supplemental sheets for the various spell casting classes. Something that makes the distinction between prepared spells and your spell book clear.

What else? My character is a bard – which is supposed to be good at low levels and a good 5th wheel. But my character was useless in the big fight of the night – tieflings with Darkness. My habit of playing DMs pet is also not going down well. I don’t think the person stuck with the cleric wants to be a cleric.

And it’s noisy. I think that bothers me more than other people – I don’t cope will with noise.

So. If I was attempting to run Age of Worms with a table of new players, what would I do?

Core rules only
Manda is doing this, and I agree that it’s the right way to go.
I would not run Age of Worms.
It’s 3.5, not pathfinder, and that means continual rule modifications every step of the way. If I am using Pathfinder, I’d run a campaign written for pathfinder. It would be terribly nice of Paizo to update AoW.

No spellcasting for newbie players.
Everyone starts as a fighter, barbarian, ranger or rogue. You can start taking caster levels after the first module, or just build a new character from scratch. Sorcerer rather than Wizard, unless the player can explain in their own words how spell books and spell slots work.
Free Wand of Cure Light to start with
I think it’s on the ranger spell list, or the Rogue can use it. Or just make it a special one-off that anyone can use without UMD. Or a “charges per day” special item.
No goddamn animal companions
Unless the player is competent to manage the other stat block and to play the companion as an animal. Rangers do not have a telepathic link with their companion.
Spellcasters have a copy of the descriptions of their spells
Self explanatory. Even experienced players can be guilty of not knowing what their spells do
PC-Gen
Ties in with the above. It calculates, manages prepared spells vs spell books, and gives you a summary of the effect. I (sigh) just cannot get it working with the new at a sets, but for core rules it’s perfect.

Yeah – looking back on what I have written, the spell thing is the major issue. And it’s not an incidental part of the game, either. But for newbies: Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger and Rogue. Maybe sorcerer, but they suck at low levels. Be generous with magic items, but talk them up. Make magic, well, magical. A low-magic environment would be a good way to go.

And finally: I was ok first week. Sucked second week. If I suck next time I play with this group, or even seriously start to suck, if I were Manda I’d kick me out.


Kingmaker

22 January, 2012

We’re back! More or less. Next week is CanCon, and game will be off, but it was great to get back to game, even if things are going to be a bit choppy, schedule-wise.

Michael,

Having liberated Fort Drellev, we decided that it would be a good idea to pacify some of the surrounding area. Farms are dull, but an indispensable source of regular income. We spent a week or two back home. I did a little crafting (a pair of bracers of armour for Rainor, scrolls, and a fresh wand of Grease), and so did His Lordship. We also organised a caravan to take materials back to Fort Drellev. We do intend to annexe their territory into Fredonia soon, and I’m fairly sure the locals understand that.

In any case, we accompanied the caravan to the bridge at the northwest, then headed into unclaimed land. We were looking for a Dire Tiger, and various other jobs for which there are bounties. We also need to find Cloudarc Monastery, but I suspect that such a thing is more likely to be in the mountains to the southeast of Freedonia.

Cloudarc is not part of the pathfinder module – it’s a special quest that Dave is putting on for Brett. He’s been waiting a while 🙂 – Andrew, Morgan and I have had ours.

First day, we found some sort of beast lair, or at least a place where a beast had been. I assumed it was our Dire Tiger, and decided that I would scan the area with Locate Creature each night just before bedtime.

In the morning Rainor cast a fascinating divination. He doe nature magic, of course. The divination works with his own tracking ability, and allows him to actually see a creature by looking at its tracks. Rainor described the creature and without a doubt it was a Chimera.

Well!

The tracks were old, and we decided to push on.


Next day, we came to something odd. In the near distance was an enormous smell of offal, but before we could really investigate, we were attacked by tribesmen. I watched for a moment, but they were really to threat at all to the boys, so I left them all to their fun and wen to have a closer look to what lay ahead.

Well! I caught a glimpse of a Blue Dragon head. Chimeras fly, you know, so as I was a good distance from the fight – which was mostly over by this time (I have become quite hardened to slaughter, over the past couple of years. Not quite the human disdain for life, but getting there.) – I dropped a Hypnotic Pattern on the area. Hopefully, that would stop it taking wing too quickly and the lads could get a hit in.

The fight with the tribesmen ended, and His Lordship & co approached the spot where I was keeping the Hypnotic Pattern going. After a few moments, they signalled the all-clear. Approaching, I saw our Chimera, which had been savagely ripped in two by something. Something that hadn’t even bothered to eat it.

Bad news. This can signal the presence of something abberant or magical – something that doesn’t eat. But the real worry is that whatever it was had taken down a grown Chimera. Our Dire Tiger was the best candidate – although why it didn’t eat anything is a minor mystery. Perhaps Chimera meat simply tastes bad: I was not inclined to find out.

Back at the fight scene, there was one tribesman left. I had not prepared my usual full complement of spells that morning, so as to be able to to prepare and cast Locate Creature that evening. Instead, I spent a few minutes and prepared Toungues, and cast it on His Grace.

His Grace interrogated the wretch. I gather that there was nothing much by way of information. Some insults.

Jope: “You are not very good fighters”
Tribesman: “Says girlie-man dressed in metal”

Dave is a fine DM 😀 .

Most importantly, a mention of a name which escapes me right at the moment. Not a god, or anything any of us recognised. Apparrently, so-and-so would totally kick our butts, or some such. Also interesting was his mentioning that things around here – the lands, or something – had changed in the past few seasons. I got the impression that something large-scale, magical, but subtle (so far) was happening.

I have my suspicions, but they are out-of-game.

Oh – I almost forgot. A third thing of importance: the weapons these tribesmen were carrying were quite uniform and of excellent quality. I suspect Pitax.

Anyway. Rainor grabbed the tribesman, frogmarched him over to the chimera, and threw him in the offal. Then untied him and let him go! But a moment later I spotted Rainen and understood. Our wolf and ranger would have no difficulty whatever tracking them back to their camp. He ran off, and we returned to discussing this person, or thing, that the tribesman mentioned.

We do have a duchy, you know. His Grace has this whacking great banner with a dragon’s head on it. It’s quite magical. One of its powers is that it can Message any Fredonian military unit, once per hour. So we prepared a message, to the effect of “Require intel on ‘(name)’. Inquire sages, casters tower, temple. Report hourly.” and sent it to the captain of the keep guard. After a couple of hours, we were informed that (name) was some dead barbarian hero, prophesied to return and rampage across the continent, or some such.

Hmm.

We tracked our tribesman, actually slowing down our pace so as not to catch up with him. Rainor and Rainen had no difficulty whatever – zero, zip, none – following, despite the backtracks and dust-baths. We arrived at a valley exhibiting signs of human activity, and spied a tent camp.


A tent camp! The barbarians had taken hostages from Fort Drellev, could some of them be here? We had to know, before mounting an attack.

Well, guess whose job it is to scout out enemy encampments? There was brief debate, but the decision came down to “Someone invisible who can cast Dimension Door.”. Lucky me. Behind the camp was a steep hillside/cliff. We circled around and climbed it from the other side. I used Invisibility and Feather Fall and came down near an interesting entrance into the hillside towards the back of the camp.

I wandered down the passageway a bit. It looked to me like an old hewn passage recently re-opened. There was an abjuration across it further down (Mother’s gift had been invaluable more times than I can count). A alarm spell, or something like it. It looked divine (or at least fabulous). I debated dispelling it and looking further, but that was more risk than I cared to take.

Instead I investigated the tents. The big one was just a common sleeping area. One of them was guarded, so I snuck up behind it and made a little spyhole. Inside were two ladies with rather out-of-place clothing, one having a sobbing fit. It would be the simplest thing in the world to just teleport us all out, and that’s what I decided to do. I cast Reduce Person, stepped around the guard at the door, and wandered inside the tent.

Just as Rainor/Rainen has no trouble tracking a dude who is covered in offal, invisible Switch has no trouble wandering about a campsite at 3 in the afternoon when no-one is looking for her. We didn’t even roll the checks – her stealth is 23, +20 for being invisible. A guarded doorway is a little different. Arcane Trickster “Tricky Spell” lets her cast a spell silenced and stilled. Bonded item lets her cast a spell she has not prepared.

Inside I spoke to the one who was not having a crying jag. But she seemed to think she was hallucinating, or something. After a bit (and an incident with a pillow), I managed to half-convince her that she was not. In any case, I asked her to go over and calm down her friend. I then dropped the Reduce Person and the Invisibility, and teleported us all out. The crying friend was caught by surprise, but I managed to grab her anyway.

Switch has Cha 9, Wis 8. She is young and impulsive (for an elf). She also rubs people up the wrong way, the whole “I’m actually from a very old and respectable elven family” shtick, and comes across as flaky and generally not inspiring confidence.

Back on the brow of the hill, we all spoke a bit. The sensible one is Cassandra’s sister – Namaste’s other daughter. I was rather chuffed, until someone spoiled things by asking “what about the other three hostages?”

Damn. They were in another tent at the other end of camp, it seemed. The place was in an uproar. There was absolutely no reason to delay, and plenty of reason not to. I cast another Feather Fall (why do I prepare two? Because, that’s why.) and we entered camp. Rainor stayed on the hill to shoot things: he would have no trouble getting down if he needed to with his monk training.

The fight was, well, brief really. In the middle of the afternoon people were dozy and I imagine half the warriors off hunting. The boys had no trouble. His Lordship wanted an Invisiblilty Sphere, but I refused after what happened last time. If the very first thing you are going to do is attack, why waste a spell that will dispel the moment you do? I’m not made of magic, you know.

Klael positioned himself in front of the tent with the hostages. I made a spyhole at the back, and prepared to shoot at anyone who got past Klael. The ladies positively threw themselves at Klael (a paladin – all shiny armour and good looks) and actually interfered with his stroke at one point. But there was no real difficulty: two dangerous fighters on the ground, and a skilled bowman above with a clear shot at everything. I hadn’t done much … but I suppose clearing out one tent so that we didn’t need to split our forces was a help.

So. We have five hostages, and half a barbarian camp who haven’t come back from the day’s hunt, yet. We have an unexplored possibly quite old passage into a hillside, warded by some kind of divine abjuration. We are about a week away from Fort Drellev, the hostage’s home. I’d like to explore the passage, but it would be a pity if the returning barbarian hunting parties killed the ladies while we were busy inside. But if we just leave, who knows what will come out from under the hill to harry us? What shall we do?


GG4 – Character Background

13 January, 2012

Christmas break is nearly over. Thank God for that! That means game on. Here’s Korgul – Andrew seems to like it, so ok to post.

Another day in prison.

Also known as Wroat House for the Correction of Wayward Youth. Daily beatings, religious instruction, and work – laundry, mostly. Keeping the togas of the good folk of Wroat clean, with the aid of various noxious alchemical compounds, elbow grease, and pissing into the vats. A small gesture of defiance, something of a rite of passage.

Korgul bore it better than most. A lad with a bit of orc in his blood grows up quickly, and doesn’t meekly join the end of the queue at mealtime. He’d broken a nose and a couple of fingers the first day, and had had no trouble since except for the occasional newbie.

Better than living on the street. Kicked out of home by dear old mum six months ago, with a “Can’t afford to feed you anymore”. Served the old whore right for being careless with a half-orc client a few years ago. Can’t afford to feed you, and can’t sell your bum to nice gentlemen looking for a bit of rough. The first and second one that had tried got themselves sliced up. After than, mum lost patience. Korgul understood: man has to earn his keep. Mary and Jane – sorry: “Sugar” and “Velvet” – were still back at home, earning theirs. Not a trace of Orc there.

Still. If he was not cut out to be a rent boy, he wasn’t much of a cracksman, either. He’d tried his hand at burglary, but it was the shoplifting that put him in here. He had been spotted, and it all turned a little tasty. The less said, the better. Prison was not bad: regular food, and peace and quiet if you kept your head down. Its all a matter of knowing when to fight, and when to shut the fuck up.

Mr Jackson. Time to shut the fuck up.

“Ahh! Korgul lad! And how are things going for you today?”

Shit. Jackson had been watching him, he knew. You don’t antagonise the screws, but if smiley was going to try to bum him, there’s be hell to pay.

“Good, sir.”
“Wonderful! Wonderful to hear it! And you will be leaving us in?”
“Two weeks, sir.”
“Amazing! Amazing! You know, most of the fellows with your background who come in here for shoplifting, assault, and public affray don’t usually manage to serve out their term, but your rehabilitation has been completely without incident. A model inmate! Outstanding!”

Smiley was needling him, trying to get a reaction. He knew, and he knew that Smiley knew that he knew. He hadn’t been asked a question, so kept silent.

“Well, Korgul? To what do you credit that?”

A fair question. What would he credit it to? He settled for, “Not stupid, sir.”, which seemed to amuse Smiley no end.

“Indeed, indeed. Not stupid – a rarity around these parts. You know Korgul, you’re a big lad, and have your head screwed on right”, (“here it comes”, he thought), “have you considered a career in the army? Or the watch?”

Well! That was unexpected. Taken by surprise, Korgul blurted out without thinking: “I might be a orc, sir, but I ain’t a facking pig.”

Smiley surprised him again. His smile broadened, and his voice dropped into cant. “Well ain’t you a likely cove? Now, I’ll tell yer this once, so you listen. You want a job when yer out, head to the Sailors Arms and find the barman with the dabber tattooed on his neck. Tell ‘im “Old Fast Fingers” had a job for yer.” He smile fell away as he leaned in closer, “and if yer don’t want a job, you stay away from our fences. Try knocking one over again, and we’ll fackin gut yer.”

Smiley winked and walked off. Korgul stood for a moment or two with his mouth hanging open. Then straightened up.

It was best offer he’d had in, well – ever.


Korgul is a “Brutal Scoundrel” rogue. “No cracksman”, but I expect he will find his feet as a basher, quick enough. Trained in athletics, not acrobatics, and intimidate. Level 2 I’ll grab “strong-arm tactics” racial feat, which will give him an intimidate of 11ish. In game: it takes him a few sessions before he learns to properly threaten people.

Korgul has a decent Wis (12), which is what makes him “Not stupid” in the sense that matters when you are in prison. He enjoys a fight (“thirst for battle” feat), but is not a beserker, does not have a short fuse. He’s – not a nice person. A young criminal. My characters have been getting darker, I notice. Baharash was Lawful Good – and he was, definitely – but Matt said once that he had a “mean streak”, and I kind of have to agree. He totally did.

I intend to give Korgul a special war cry, which I may have opportunity to unveil when we play. I’d like to go rhyming slang, but I only know one or two terms. Also, it’s more appropriate for a sneaky type rogue, which Korgul isn’t.

I’m inspired by Viz magazine, especially the “Cockney Wanker” character

“Wanker! Wanker! Your bruvver!”
“Wot about im?”
“‘Es been Morgan Dabbed in the Hale and Pace!”
“Ow is ‘e?”
“‘E’s, ‘E’s Brown Bread, Wanker.”

But I don’t know that I can pull it off. Oh well 🙂