Sunday, August 28, 2011

A players recap for my new Star Wars game.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The Republic and its legions of clone troopers brought the Separatists to the brink of defeat. Chancellor Palpatine accused the Jedi Order of committing grand treason in their supposed move to seize all control over the Republic government and its people. The Chancellor reformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire and named himself emperor after initiating Order 66. Troopers across the galaxy followed the order and apprehended or killed any Jedi in their midst. 

A Special Ops unit on the planet Mykeedo just finished its work in taking back the planet from opposing forces and was enroute to a planetside shipping outpost when Order 66 was delivered to the Troopers there. The shielded tram tunnels kept the unit in a communications blackout, and the Clone Troopers within the unit remained unaware of the Order's execution. The Troopers at the station realized there were force users with the arriving group and attempted to subdue them. The Special Ops Unit's Clone Troopers remained loyal and helped to defend against their brothers' assault.

The battle was quick and one-sided, but the loyal Troopers still lost one of their team despite the heroic actions of the unit. A non-Clone Trooper blasted off the tram with his jet pack and rained down blaster fire into the opposing squad at the same as the non-threatening repair droid subtly dropped a metal handful of stun grenades among the enemy's front line. The group's noble Bothan snuck onto the recessed tram track and under a retractable bridge before accessing a control panel in order to drop a crane's load onto an unsuspecting enemy trooper. 

After the battle, the Special Ops Unit searched the facility for the Jedi Master assigned to them, but found him dead along with an entire squad of Clone Troopers in what must have been a frantic fight for his life. With troop carriers landing all around the facility, and their status as enemies of the Empire, the Unit took possession of a ship at fled the planet with little more than their lives and questions as to what just happened, and what to do next.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Man in Red is... not who they thought it was

Geoffrey is Dead... 

'Long live the Man in Red!', or so say his followers. A small group gathered at the table the other morning for our campaign. Max (monk) Throm (Sentinel) and Luusi (Bard) were in attendance. I had some fun, I tested a new monster build based on the Baaz Draconian from the Draconamicon, (see a few posts back) but this time he was not a minion and he worked really well as the main bad guy for this group.

I followed some good advice from some of the well known bloggers out there saying give smaller encounters. So I set about using a Level 3 budget for my players. They are level 5 and I think it went very well, while they Kobold's I used were mostly minions the Dragonshield's and the Wyrm Priest were no pushovers and it did turn into a good fight. More importantly Throm once again shined as the best dang Sentinel (Druid) I have seen. Critical Hits and rolling for close to max damage for almost every other attack made it fun even for me. I also spread the combat out and made the battlefield even larger than usual.

The kids loved it. We then went into some roleplaying, Throm's player kept wanting me to put them on a map but I told him there were no fights. Heh he is still 10 years old, he will learn yet that there is more to D&D than just combat.

To put the adventure on hold I want to talk about what we discussed before we started playing. Throm asked me, "why do we kill all the creatures we fight?" So I asked him back, "well why do you?" and his answer was pretty black and white. "Because they are evil.." So I smiled and asked "Are they?" and so I knew today I was going to reveal to them that Geoffrey, the once porter turned paladin was working for the Man in Red.

Geoffrey made up some story to the party that while in town he killed some guards who blamed them for a Dragons attack on Fallcrest. The group reacted in the fashion I thought they would they would rush to town and try to sort things out and correct any misunderstandings. During a break the group decided that Throm would stay with Geoffrey near the Inn where this incident supposedly took place. Once alone Geoffrey started talking about all the fun they have had together. Throm dove right in and they reminisced about the recent good times.

That is when Geoffrey told Throm about the Iron Circle trying to bring Tiamat into the world, and that he is doing the bidding of his brother. A war of words erupts and eventually Max and Luusi show up to make sure Throm is ok, that is when Throm pulled a dagger out and stabbed Geoffrey.

At some point during these past few weeks I decided someone in the group had a sword taken from one of the party who had died. It was an artifact weapon that can take your life essence (Healing Surges and give it to the wielder of the weapon.) It could also mimic other bladed weapons. It chose to hide itself as a simple dagger and fell into the hands of the one mostly likely to try and use it, the Sentinel, Throm.

So when the dagger struck Geoffrey, the Sword had chosen wisely. It took his life much to the surprise of the party. I really had fun yesterday because I got to run a lot of roleplaying with the part of the group that does not get much attention other than bits and pieces here or there. There were lots of talking and questioning about the choices I make as a DM and how it relates to my store, like how will the story work from this point on. Spoilers I smile and say.

I think what surprised Throm the most was that I winged most of yesterday, that it was not written down in some book, and that I had decided right then when he stabbed him Geoffrey to kill him, why not? He has a twin brother now. :)

We are taking a D&D break and will be doing Star Wars for the next few weeks while I recharge my D&D mojo.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Look at what I scored at the used book store: Mekton II

Mekton is go!

I kept getting this thought in my head, 'hit the used book store as long as you are going this direction', So I went and I saw these two gems. Now I am certain I own them, that they are somewhere buried deep in my storage unit so easy access is impossible at the moment.

But what makes it great is that now I can decide if I am going to run Jovian Chronicles powered by Mekton II or not. The fact that I got a Mekton Techbook means I can run the green edition game unhindered and steer clear of the Mekton Zeta MTS system, there is nothing wrong with that system other than I can use the designs straight from the game book and not need to do any other modifications.

I still remember when I picked this game up at Gencon in Milwaukee so many years ago. I probably will not catch the same lightning I did when I first ran several campaigns of this but we will see if my players like it or not.

Gaming life is going to start getting real interesting now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monster Tome: Baaz Draconian Foot Soldier

I decided the other night I wanted to make the draconians from Dragonlance a little bit better than they have been so far presented in 4th Edition so far. The baaz draconian on the top was the original entry.

He did not seem to "pop" to me, his Stone Dead trigger is nice and it has always been great even way back in 1st edition, but in the builder you get to see the flavor text and it states this:

Baaz draconians rely on strength in numbers. A group pins down a single opponent, usually a striker, to allow more mobility for the baaz draconians’ allies. Baaz draconians do not hesitate to attack enemies that have been disarmed.

So I looked at the original and I wondered how this was represented in the stats. Goblins and Kobolds are seen to have Combat Advantage sometimes and these guys are the grunts and love to gang up so Strength in Numbers was created to give that beat down aspect of them.

At some point in my campaign I will test this out and see how well it works out.

From Behind the Screen

The Pet Peeves:

So today at the store we were talking about the annoying players and the things they bring with them to the table. Normally they only bother me as they happen but quite recently, as within the last few weeks I am noticing them more and more and thinking of them outside of the game.

Do not get me wrong it does not make me dislike the player, the character or the game. It is just one of those little things that adds up over the course of the game that day that eventually there will be a final straw.

  1. Skill Checks: Not the ones I ask for, the ones that players do when others are asked. This is not just in my current games this is from previous campaigns. One person is asked and everyone there wants to just roll the die and add their two cents. Now if it was rolling to help aid in the attempt that would be fine, but usually it is not. Skills that are normally extraordinary are in certain situations players think they can use them for just about everything. Nature Checks for instance, I am not knocking Thorm's player, he is young and in Encounters all the kids at the table roll skill checks for the heck of it to such an extent it upsets the DM (not me).
  2.  Reminding the DM of negatives or positives to AC or To-Hit rolls: When I say 28 vs AC and I am asked if I remembered the Bonus from the Bear for +2 AC or the Negative because of a Mark I kind of want to put my head through the table. It does not happen all the time, but it does happen at least 3 times in a session. A suggestion I got from another DM, do the opposite. If asked if the +2 to AC was factored in make it a -2 to AC etc etc. I laughed. Perhaps.
  3. Me To: This goes in with the Skill Checks. It is like I have a bunch of AOL'er METOers at the table.
    Player 1 "I run off to explore."
    Player 2
    "I go and confront the shady armor dealer about the unfair deal we just did"
    Player 1
    "Me to."

    I used to call it the "Beam Me Up Scotty" effect in that players who were worlds away (like in my Star Wars or Star Trek games would do the "I am there as well" deal after just telling me they went elsewhere. Only happens at certain situations but it does happen.
  4. I want it even though I already have something better: Loot is a such driving factor in games, and the younger the players are the more they want it, to such an extent it eclipses the cool items they already have. I bet I could ask the kid table at encounters who wanted the new +1 magic weapon and see the hands go up when I just gave them all +2 magic items. They want it because its new.
    I must institute the thought that New is not always better.
  5. Knowledge Checks: Have you ever heard the phrase, just because you can move 6 spaces does not mean you should applies here. Just because you have a skill does not mean you have access to infinite knowledge about a particular monster. The fact that the rule in my opinion says it does not take an action to use makes it fair game for abuse.
    House Rule: Monster Knowledge Check: It takes a standard action to preform, if you have never seen this creature before the difficulty is much tougher, and is at my discretion as to whether you would have any idea what its abilities are first hand.
    It does leave a lot to interpretation on my end but who better to decide than the DM on whether a character in his campaign has seen something before or not.
Those are in no particular order, they reflect not just this game but every game I have played in the last 15+ years. Talking about it relaxes me a bit and also lets me think of solutions to the problem like the one about the knowledge check.

If you read this, play in one of my games, and are worried I might be targeting you unfairly talk to me. I am not saying these to pick on people or target them, these are issues I have in my game and I need to address them better in my games, both in store and elsewhere.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A long time ago...

So after I get back from Gencon in over a week I will be putting the first "season" of my D&D game to rest with the ending of the Iron Circle arc in my store based game with the players setting in motion the events that will drive the second arc of the story.

I will then recharge my RPG batteries by running Star Wars Saga Edition. I have been looking forward to running a Saga game since my home game died an agonizingly slow death or deathlike trance it is in after it jumped the shark.

I am trying to think of what era to run the game in. Most of the players will know of just the two trilogies and maybe one or two might know KotOR or the expanded universe beyond Return of the Jedi.

Clone Wars or a Classic Trilogy tale?

We are going to do a character creation day and they will discuss their character concepts with each other and that will drive my creation of the series I want to run. I think it will be interesting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I do not hate it...

I do not hate being a Dungeon Master or a Game Master is you prefer. I have run games way more than I have played and sometimes I think that gives a buzz kill for being a player. I want to quote rules when I know they are wrong, I want to give loop holes in the rules to allow us to do some crazy things.

I am everything I hate about those kinds of players. Yet I still want to play something. I think it is why I do MMO's and why sometimes that is enough for me.

In some games I feel just like a player when I am running especially when I get into the NPC's I am running. I really hated the idea of Geoffrey in my current D&D campaign but I really like running him and with the addition of our new member of the group I can smell roleplaying potential.

In that vein I think I am hitting D&D saturation point. I am running D&D encounters on Wednesday Nights and I am running a D&D campaign on Saturdays. It is not DM burnout more like I have that itch to try something new that I am dying to run.

I have thought of Star Wars, but I have also thought of Mekton and the world of Jovian Chronicles.

I have people at my table that like anime and I think the game might go over well. I do not want to end D&D but I think I need a few weeks without it and I think running a quick campaign will go well with teaching them other game systems.

I would need some prep work so this is a few weeks off and still in the planning stages but I think I will run something completely different. I mean right now I am listening to Fire Bomber from Macross 7 so who knows Giant Aliens and Transforming robots?

I think I will save that to playing it with my friend Dennis as he wants to run a robotech/macross style game.

Jovian Chronicles will get my fix for giant robot and sci-fi combat and tell the stories I also like telling. As for playing? I will have to wait and see where it all takes me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beware the man in red...

...He will bring death and destruction too all he is with. The players in my group have heard this or another form of the prophesy of the man in red who will appear at some point and bring doom with him. I have really only mentioned it in a few spots but they were telling spots.

The "High Septarch of Fallcrest" spoke of the man in red after he interrogated a captured kobold the party had captured. Some of the party talked to a Bronze Dragon while in the town of Gorbizabad while searching for the Slaying Stone hidden there. He also said to the departing group that they would encounter the Man in Red.

Seeing as how some of those party members are now dead and none of the current members know of the three's encounter with the Dragon they really do not know. Spoiler: One of them is still alive, is it the monk or the cleric? Spoilers!

That brings us to yesterdays game, and well to be honest the end of two sessions ago and the last weeks free RPG Day run. The party is in Harkenwold fighting the Iron Circle and they defeated a Dark Adept, Geoffrey the Porter and now fellow adventurer (he was a hireling who has shed his wages for a share in the groups fun) asked for a red surcoat from the adept. After some words with the group he gets the item and puts it on and makes the comment, "Red is the new style, It's cool"

To be totally honest I was struggling with, and still am, who this man is red is. I do not care if my party reads this and they totally think I am being deceptive that is fine. I like a little paranoia at the table from time to time. Thorm's player is totally suspicious and it is a hoot! (10 year old paranoia is funny) No I am not evil.

When they group was asking about the loot off the bodies and I saw Red Surcoat I was like "Geoffrey wants one" I wanted to have a little fun. He had been pulled and coxed into the battle by the Druid Thorm and it made him feel excited. So he all but begged for that outfit. I am now making comments as him about red is cool and giggling about it, my players dislike when I giggle it means I am up to no good.

Well they fought a Skeletal Mage in an old Eladrin sanctuary and found the body of one of their comrades who disappeared fighting Orcs. Geoffrey took a lightning bolt to the chest and they all thought "oh no the minion is dead" only to find out he was playing dead and he got up and helped them fight the mage and his skeleton troops only to take a sword from the "pointy" end and apparently take no damage. When he was offered healing he said "no thanks a good nights rest does the body good"

They seal themselves into the mages lair and rest, Upon waking in the morning they find that some bones of a dragon laying on a table were now animated but Thorm has a waking Dream and the Raven Queen tells him that he owes her for his life and that they must spare the Dracolich because it has work to do. He also notices that the same divine glow surrounding her is surrounding Geoffrey!

Now this is great, Thorm is a 10 year old player and he has been playing D&D for a half a year or so during encounters and he asked to play in my campaign. I agreed, he is also the same player who was killed via player actions after he ran off from the group a few months back. I have been trying to add in more roleplaying that combat to spice things up and to get him out of the one encounter after another mode. When I took him away from the table to talk to him as the Raven Queen about all of this it was special for him. He was also chomping at the bit too tell the rest of the party.

I was having fun because he was exploring his boundary's as a roleplayer with what he could and could not do, he wanted to make insight and perception checks to look at him. I told him he did not need to he just needed to tell me what he was looking for. It did take a few min for us to talk with him about all the little bits of information once he decided to talk to the other members of the party about Geoffrey and his suspicions about him being the man in red.

Right now things are fine, Geoffrey appears to be immortal as Thorm has dubbed it (love it) and they have gone off to war with him. Thorm keeps boosting the ego of Geoffrey so is that a good thing or a bad thing, hey also, I never did say he was a Human Man in Red now did I?

Like I said paranoia is cool

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two for one Day: Table Mechanics - Initiative Order

Table Mechanics:
I have done a lot with tracking things on paper, the chessex battlemat and even a white board and a flip chart. The initiative tacker pictured here came from the Fortune Cards: Shadow Over Nentir Vale from Wizards of the Coast.

I just lay them out (in the order of initiative) with the player/character name and the initiative order and  other defense notes on it. Then as we go along during the turn I move the card in and out of its place to note where we are at in the order.

It seems so simple but I tell you that since I started to use this method I have not really had to tell people to pay attention to the order and they are ready with their turn right away. I have the card in sleeves so I can use a wet erase marker on them. I found any color other than black works well.

I will also be handing this over one of the players to keep track of now that we have it established as a table mechanic.

Another change to happen is the institution of the party leader role. Not just the character type but I have placed a player in this role to keep the party in order and so that the group actually has someone to say yea or nay on things. Prior to this we had issues with the Druid running off and getting beat down by Goblins and killed by the party's wizard or bickering about the direction to head in. Not a new mechanic but something needed to be done, frankly we do not even do that in my normal group I play in. It is mob rule at that table with taking the path the the most to argue for it. Some times the simplest things work

Table Mechanics: Will be a feature I do detailing things I use at the game table.


So a lot has happened since the last post. I removed a party member from the game. D&D Encounters is going well and I am hooked on HBO's Game of Thrones.

So the rescue mission happened, the adventure was called: The Musician, the Gardener and the Bear and some of the players who were in attendance had new characters. I introduced the Porter Geoffrey who worked for the ranger to carry her arrows.

The adventure I ran was one I had done before and it was not a difficult one to run, it was the broken tower from Dungeon Delves. It seemed like the easiest and quickest way to take a break from the Slaying Stone and insert it into the game as a quick way to get the players on a rescue mission. After some difficulties trying to get the group together they were off.

The difficulties did not end there though, have you ever had the moment were you are trying to get people ready for the encounter and people are talking over each other on what they want to do? So in Encounter 2 of the Broken tower is the floor that collapses, the ranger wants to run across it and moves midway and I back the player up. Here is where the confusion begins, he gets upset I did this and thinks I am setting him up. I had him step out on the first square and nothing happens and then onto the 2nd square and then it hits. Did I play it wrong? Here is the snippet from the adventure.

Unstable Floor: The 20-by-20-foot center of the room sags dangerously. The entire section collapses
under 20 pounds or more, dropping to area 1 below. Those on the unstable area when it collapses are attacked (+5 vs. Reflex); on a hit they fall 20 feet to the lower area (2d10 damage). On a miss, the character manages to move back to the safe square he or she entered from. Any character who is not  adjacent to a safe square when the floor collapses is automatically hit.
If the floor does collapse, mark the hole by placing two black 2×4 tiles in the center of the room.

After it is all said and done, it might have been played wrong. being on the second square means you are not on a square adjacent to a safe one so you are automatically hit. That is how I ruled it. What I did end up doing was collapsing the whole floor section only because I wanted it out of the way since I knew none of the other players would fall for it. The only real problem was that it involved the player for the Ranger.

Rather than make for the stairs he wanted to be different and try to climb the wall back up. I was flipping through the rule book as the athletics check was done, failed by more than 5? yep so turn ends and next in the initiative order. Well we were not done, he wanted to use his standard action to move up the stairs. So I quoted the rule, got an eye roll and a that is stupid comment (memory is faulty with the stupid comment) and he got up from the table when we moved to the next in order.

Several other events happened, a goblin was knocked down the hole by the bard and landed next to the ranger, since he did not have a melee weapon and did not want to provoke an OA (Opportunity Action) he moved away then was upset that the prone target now had cover for being prone. So he moved up the stairs and then he wanted to shoot at a prone target from up high thinking he would get an advantage. It did not work that way, but I was also trying to look up range penalties for being 20ft high and 20 feet away totally confusing 20ft for 20 squares.

The player then mutters I seem to always seem to be looking up rules for his character and I loose it in my head. Seriously? Now he has stated he was joking with those side comments, joking or not, I did not take it like that. Those comments were exactly what caused the Near TPK the week prior when he "joked" Frank is a killer DM. Only this time I did not lash out and become the killer DM though I might have felt better had I done so. I explained my confusion and even that was not good enough judging by the email I got later.

I still ruled for cover, at level two for a ranger a -2 is hardly a concern. I bring these up because out of all the people at the table I think this player did not understand that a Dungeon Master is the last word on a rule and in the end if it is a wrong call we fix it later. He has said he was afraid of telling me a rule was wrong and that I might take it the wrong way.

Here is what I take the wrong way, when you push back when I am sure the rule is right. When I quote it out of the book it is not me trying to do you wrong. It is not my fault as a dungeon master when you feel like you are not accomplishing anything. I want you to have fun I really do but not everyone is going to shine every week. If he is reading this take that too heart.

After that night I felt kind of bad he said that comment, and maybe I was picking on him. I felt I might have to many problems with his push backs as a player to effectively be a DM for him. I sent him a message that I wanted to talk with him about it. He sent me an email with a round by round account of that above summary of some of the problems. I wanted to talk to him face to face, not in an email, not on the phone. In person to make it personal not via text or even voice on the phone.

So I took that open letter and went for it. Explained everything and made the mistake of thinking he would get it even if I told him I had other players who had done similar things or expressed the same issues like feeling frustrated that they were not accomplishing anything. I received a news flash, he was a unique individual. It was disrespectful of me too compare him to other people. Consider this blog post tame to the one you could have gotten.

Here is my final email to him.

I am going to just say I am not going to be able to be your DM anymore. We can go around and around with this email and honestly I do not think I should say anymore.

I have only ever kicked one person out of my game, to this day I feel bad about it and I talked to my friend Kevin I would like to join us who would bring a great roleplaying element to the table and I bring this up because of him asking me if the one person I ever kicked from my game showed up in the store asking to play would I let him? I said yes.

This player was the second. Do I miss him at the table? I think so, yes I do. Honestly if I could look past his comments at the table he would be welcomed back but I think the result is better. We are making progress in the game sessions. If he came to me in person not via a message and asked to talk I would give him the time of day to explain things even better than just words can do. If he asked to play again, we would have to see how the conversation went that lead to that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From Behind the Screen:

So I did not know where to go with this post. I was going to dig into the players, my running of the game and some more issues with the game as whole. I then took a day and a half to decide that I was not going to write that.

Oh there will be some player digs in there, I just have to, I would not be the DM I am without it. First I take the blame for the NTPK (Near Total Party Kill) this past Saturday over at Fair Game, the store my game is run at.

I had warned the group it would be tough, probably not well enough it would soon seem. They were slaughtered and I again let the dice fall where they may. I heard a comment of me being a killer DM, funny comment or not, I took it as the not funny comment. See no one was dead yet, there was still healing available. From this point on in the second encounter of the day I chose to do what I do not do. I killed an unconscious player even after I gave them a hint to use the slaying stone. The choice of targets doomed them.

Am I sorry for how I reacted? Should a DM feel sorry for his actions in the game? Was the player I killed a legal target? Yes, the player was a legal target. Should I play it safe and avoid all unconscious PC's to be fair? No, which I guess that means there will not be an apology. When I took down the monk then the mage and left the cleric standing with an orc charging him and ending it because the store needed the table for the MtG Pre-Release that night I ended it with things up in the air. I was mad at that point, my plans were ruined.

So after venting to my friends, venting to myself, and then seeing Thor that night and stewing about it during the movie I came home 5 hours later and wrote on the store forums. I had some very tough constructive criticism on how they played that day and put down the choices they made. See as the DM it is pretty easy to think they made stupid decisions and play the Saturday Night Dungeon Master when you review those memories of the days game in your head.

I am not trying to start another fire here, it has taken me like three days just to make this post. I have decided on a rescue mission to save the lives of a few of them, this is not some DM Fiat that I am using to make up for what happened. Some of the players will be using new characters and probably will become quite attached to their new characters by the time we see them rescued if at all. Who knows, maybe this is a plot of the man in red.

This would be right up his alley, oh and I guess the Raven Queen got at least one soul.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Truth be Told

Most of my friends know I have dealt with depression almost everyday of my adult life.

For a long time I let it get the best of me, now most days I it does not even cross my mind, it is there though, that random thought of wondering am I OK? I have had all the emotional symptoms, all the signs like sleeping a lot or things I used to like I no longer can stand. Yes I even thought about the topic that puts you into the hospital. Quite honestly, I am sure more people than you think have actually thought about it as well and sadly even more have done the unthinkable and committed suicide.

I always made sure that I added in my thoughts that it was stupid of me to think of it. I knew I would hurt more people than myself.  You know the "Stop feeling sorry for yourself kind of talk," Sometimes though, you just get tired.

It has been about eight years or so since my doctor put me into the hospital over concerns with what I might do. I just felt tired, he had me on this diet and I was totally confused by it. Sodium restriction (which if you try and eliminate it ends you up in a whole heap of trouble) and so I was eating less and less and drinking lots of water and before you know it the dreaded, Electrolyte Imbalance, and you start thinking crazy. I just told him I was tired, I said "I don't know what to do", I was restless, I could not sleep had not slept well for over a year. I was so tired, I was snippy and was hardly talking to anyone but my friends Neal and Dennis.

I was tired, did I mention that? The signs were all there and I was ignoring them. I had been hooked on the game Darkage of Camelot, an MMO. I had pretty much stopped playing it. I spent my days now unemployed and walking the mall everyday. When I was laid off, I got a lot of money, I had unemployment extensions because of the 9/11 extension program because my industry was hit by the aftermath (travel industry) and I was not hurting for money. Yet I was just not seeing that I was depressed, watching TV all day I could tell the time by the shows on tv, it was background noise.

My sister says she noticed it, my friends noticed it but they could not put their fingers on it. I was coming undone and while I unraveled no one could keep me together. Simple things would set me off, it was always while I was alone. Even when I lost 90 pounds in a matter of weeks no one said anything, I just stayed away from people, I cut myself off from the world. I still played my online games, I just had a falling out with my friend Rich over a dumb thing that I said. I felt like he was trying to rip me off or something like that. I do not remember. I was loosing my tabletop gaming friends down in Peotone. I was not seeing my close friends and I was emotionally wasting away.

The funny thing about those electrolyte imbalances and the crazy things you will do, at the hospital I started getting decent meals in me. I went from a wreck into a ball of energy who paced the hallways of the ward I was in, even when everyone was sleeping I was up walking. If I kept walking I would be ok, if I slept I dreamed, and I was seriously thinking my dreams were not dreams. But as I ate better I balanced out, oh the sleeping problems continued but I was not thinking my dreams were real.

Where am I going with this? Well I just needed to get it out there, I keep some things bottled up and this is one of them. There is a stigma that people with depression are scary or that we are contagious or do not mention it because we might fall apart.

I kept it close to my belt when at work, sometimes and yes sometimes talking about it gets me emotional. I grew up not wanting to cry, it was not manly. Oh when I become a drama queen I am in the midst of depression, ask my sister, better yet don't she might have stories to tell.

So what about gaming? Yeah I have stepped back from it in the past, I do not see it as a cause I see it as a release. When I wrote about Jovian Chronicles a few days ago, that was during a point in my life after my mom died that I had some of my most creative periods in my life. Am I creatively burned out now? No I do not need to be depressed to be a brilliant or deep thinker. It just did not hinder me like that. Some of my best roleplaying happened in that period as well, but so did a lot of tension with my group. I dug deep for inspiration.

There are days when I think things suck, work sucks, I am living a horrible life right now and things won't get any better. Then I think about others who are worse off than me, who are really sick or out of a job and I suck it up and give it the stiff upper lip and all that bullshit. It does not take away the hurt and I cry or scream and possibly sing a few songs in the car until I go horse and the laugh about it.

I think the best thing for me right now is that I found a game store I can run D&D twice a week. I am really grateful for that chance. My gaming group has all but dried up and we rarely do anything anymore. I see that I am making people happy, helping people from their everyday woes and putting smiles on their faces at the end of the day. When I got told the other day how much I am helping the youngest kid at my table it made me happy. Really happy... no not happy, proud, happy is the mask I put on everyday. Proud is a difficult thing for me to comprehend. I am my own worse critic, I might feel I am doing the worst job ever only to be told that it is one of the best things I have ever done.

So running D&D on Saturdays has helped me even more, it gets me out of the house and I am getting to flex my creative muscles again. This weekend I was thanked by everyone for running my game, it made me feel awkward to be sure, no offense intended, I should be thanking them for playing in my game. Even with my reputation of being a killer DM. All kidding aside it is an honor for me to run my game, it is nothing special, really it is not. As long my players are happy I am happy, and that is not my mask I am putting on. You want to see the real me? When I am at that table that is me.

Got a question? Do not be afraid to ask.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The monday design

So I have been thinking about "fun" games and I thought I would add this little treat for people in my games. One of the fun D&D adventures I had the chance to play in as a kid was Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. It had futuristic weapons and enemies and it was all around fun.

When Gamma World came out last year I instantly wondered how a 4e treatment of it would be. So I made a simple minion just to test it. Very simple and to the point.

My thoughts for the sergeant would be that he has an encounter power that he can have a minion ally take a free ranged attack against his marked target.

Edit: And I went and did it. I thought about the marking and chose not to do it. The vs. Reflex might get changes. I used Gamma World as an inspiration for the laser attacks, which I might reconsider at some point.

There are some minor edits I need to make but this is the final versions that I might use at some point in a game if I were to run a return to Barrier Peaks

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May First: Justice Day

It has almost been 10 years. May 1st 2011 marks Justice Day

The unseen enemy

I like to talk about my games, to anyone, and that will even go to players. See I have no problem leaking a thought out just so that the player might take that nugget of information and run with it. Some might see that as me spoiling events in the game, I see it as an opportunity to direct the game in a direction I want it to go by giving the illusion they have some say in the matter. It is just how I roll as a DM/GM.

Who the heck is he?
I will always kind of let slip a piece of info, one because sometimes my stories are so good I need to share and other times there is so much going on that while it might be spoiling it helps me throw that fishing line out there for the players to bit into while I might be occupied with other plans. It might be a ticking time bomb that gets used later but it does help.

There are other times where I won't reveal my plans no matter what, the Man in the Red Armor? I am not going to reveal him, heck they might not see him until level 10 as a jumping point into the Paragon Tier.

Where I will reveal is that the group made an enemy the other week and it was shored up this week. See they had these plans to storm the library and beat down the goblin named Rort the Tombripper. They got in and ignored all of the other goblins save for him and tried to beat him down. He was bloodied within the first round and I knew the mage would finish him off.

This NPC was so cool, I mean he can cause minions to explode! He had all these cool powers and I did not get to use them but I did manage to have him run away last week. This week he showed up again in the stables as an added bonus to the room, he had opened the wolf pens and then attacked the party. The group had a tactic, bottleneck at the door and they managed to kill the wolves quickly with spells and the druids combo attack. I had Rort shout "Curses! My plans are ruined" and he ran off, again!

I announced to the group they now have their first true enemy, even though they keep thinking this guy in Red is their enemy. Those of you reading in my game, he is or he is not the bad guy and while I was writing this I just thought of the cool intro he will get.

With the theme of this topic, the unseen enemy, my players will be able to tie most of the adventures they will go on to this mysterious force meddling with the local world, is it the Man in Red or is he just working for someone else, want the kicker? I do not know. There are a bunch of world shakers I have thrown out there already, here they are in short order.

  1. Siblings or parent of the white dragon they killed
  2. Rort
  3. Humjat, the hobgoblin in charge of Gorbizibad
  4. The Severed Eye's
  5. Man in Red
  6. Talons of Tiamat
  7. a Wizard (what?)
  8. oh and The Raven Queen. She wants a soul of an adventurer
 I am not afraid to throw those out there, it is a reminder to the group that they have ticked a lot of people off in the span of two adventures, plus it keeps them on their toes. I so love it when they discuss at the table how many people they have ticked off in such a short amount of time. There are times though during the course of the day that they will say something that I really do not want them wasting their time on, mostly because I want progress in my story and they really and truly come up with some wacky ideas. I need to take notes just in case.

Just who is that guy in the red armor? Did I say Paragon Tier? I meant 3rd level LOL

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The mind wanders...

I love D&D, but oh how my mind wanders for other games.

My mind is going to wander a bit in this post so be warned. It could be a bit messy.

I know my home group would love to continue D&D or even have me run Star Wars again. Man! Star Wars would be the bomb to run, really it would. The catch, they do not sell it any more, oh I have all the books but I want to run something in the store.

One of those one shots to get the players to see there is more than just corn in Indiana kind of thing you know?

Why am I thinking of other things? Because last night I watched Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Episode 3. (it was very cool by the way... Universal Century is the best Gundam ever) This got me thinking about running a game called Mekton which had me thinking about the game Jovian Chronicles which originally used the Mekton II system and then switched to its own in house RPG system called Silhouette.

I have run it using both those systems plus the Mekton Zeta rules and to this day outside of my Star Wars games or my sandbox Paladium system Fantasy Drama game which destroyed friendships, this was the best game and probably the most fun I had as a game master. Seriously.

This picture did me in when I first saw it. Now granted it is from the W.E. (White Edition) book line following the Green Edition (which used the Mekton II rules) but the artwork sold me even more than the Green Edition manga look, plus it brought even more of a Gundam look with the ship designs looking better than just the block looking things from the original edition.

I ran a few different campaigns for different gaming groups, what I think was the best game happened with my group I currently call my home group. It ran for about 15 sessions and they were intense, and fun and really took the concept of anime gaming to a new level. During this time I was heavily influenced by Gundam Victory that I had gotten all the episodes of on VHS (yeah yeah I am dating myself)

I had all the soundtracks and I lived and breathed that show. Next to Zeta Gundam I think this takes the cake for the most secondary character deaths in a Gundam show that matters. (Ask me sometime I will tell you which Gundam shows matter and which don't)

Not only was a huge into Victory Gundam but I had the Model Graphix Gundam Sentinel books in my possession and that also influenced my exo-armor of the week upgrades I did in my game with the Prometheus Tetra which one of the guys did a mini for that I had seen at Gencon one year and I ran with it as the design I would use even before they made on in the Jovian Chronicles adventure book Chaos Principle.

Note: I still call that book cool but it got panned heavily and led to many changes in how Dream Pod 9 did books after that. If you think WotC makes knee jerk reactions, I think DP9 did not know how to handle Jovian at all following that.

All that being said it has me wanting to run a mecha campaign again.

Today the party was a group.

So our youngest player apologized for his actions that started the derailment of the adventure last week.  It happens, I am sure he feels better after doing so, the other members accepted the apology and we were right into the action.

Adventure Spoilers for The Slaying Stone

Quick recap, they are playing the adventure The Slaying Stone. I am adapting it to an overall plot that will have lasting effects across the Nentier Vale in my campaign. Last week after the missteps of our adventurers they managed to get into the town and began the search for the Slaying Stone. They went to the Library and managed to make an enemy there, but they did not find the stone.
They did turn up that a possible dragon had mad a mess in the worn out library but they soon forget that lesson. They enter the old temple and discover a noble named Kiris who is being hunted by a goblin named Triflik who shows up and a fight begins. The cleric in the group does not care for Kiris after his true form is revealed and when the fight is over they have a nice shiny new magical dagger.

From there they head to the old stables. They fight a pack of wolves and the Goblin from the library shows back up to tell them they have overdue books and attacks them but soon runs when the wolves get beaten and screams curses at them as he flees.

From there they realize they need to head to the Hot Springs where they parlay with the Dragon and they are tested to see how worthy they are. At this point in the adventure it is down to just three of them, the Cleric, Mage and Paladin as the Bard, Ranger and Druid were either not there today or had to leave early. I suddenly realized I had some unaligned players in my presence and this could spell some doom for them if they were not careful.

Luckily they were in awe of the Brass Dragon while still being able to flatter the Dragon and finally be allowed to take the slaying stone to get destroyed. Currently the Mage is controlling (is he?) the slaying stone. They are now trying to get the stone out of the town and back to the tower where it will be destroyed. Though one warning... the Dragon mentioned the man in red again.

So there were some real differences in the group today. Most notably was Throm's player, he went from having to be begged for healing to offering it up right away after the Paladin was hurt. They all planned out the tactics they wanted to use before hand things moved pretty smoothly.

Throm's player just impressed me a lot, this is not a praise a player piece because of last weeks fiasco. I could take the blame for some of that by simply not stopping it when I clearly could have. I am honestly impressed with the progression today of his abilities.

  • Healing when not pushed into it.
  • Taking a frontline approach to the fights (instead of hiding) after he saw how powerful he was with his combined attack. Both he and his Bear did about 36 damage to one Goblin. Enough to kill it outright.
  • Roleplaying. This is a big one, he usually is like. "come on guys lets get to the next encounters." today it was go with the flow and even participate in the roleplaying. Something I am impressed with in a 10 year old, I think we were doing that at his age but I am not quite sure but still an improvement over previous sessions.
    Truth be told, from him coming from Encounters where the roleplaying is watered down, the step up from that to a full blown campaign lets him and the rest shine a bit. Instead of 90 minutes of pure fighting they now get a few encounters in with some roleplaying sprinkled in.
  • taking suggestions and using them. This is at the group as a whole, they are not telling each other what to do so that the individual shines. It is a group effort.
Next week will see hopefully two more encounters and a bit of roleplaying before we take a week off because of a Memoir '44 tourney at the store. They have the slaying stone and a soul is needed to off set the cost.

Who is the man in the red armor? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Raven lets this one live... for now.

The Raven Queen almost claimed another soul in her fight with Orcus and the other forces of Chaos this past Saturday in my weekly 4e Campaign at Fair Game. This was a tough one to run; the adventure got derailed really quick, with the player’s decisions forcing the flow of the game in a direction I had not anticipated. In my game I am blending some published material with homebrew ideas thrown in for the overall metaplot of the campaign

Normally when I run a game I do everything on the fly out and out of my head but this time I wanted it to be a bit different.

The youngest hero in the group is our Druid, who we shall call Throm. As with every Saturday, he shows up excited to play, what 10 year old would not be? He wants his character first thing, (I keep his so he does not lose it) next he wants a mini and then wants his Bear mini (he is playing a Sentinel in the game), something he has been psyched to play since he saw another player with an animal companion. I think there is this misconception on his part that the bear is all powerful and capable of doing a great many things.

Originally I had not wanted him to play a healer and a class with a companion because of his lack of knowing the rules, which I am fine with; it is my experience with him in D&D encounters and knowing that his playing the healer had me worried. He does not like to heal anyone but himself that had me worried. That worry has been justified as he calls for heals instead of healing himself, and wants his bear to do extraordinary things which are mostly flights of fancy but I have to keep saying no. Again not a problem there, I cannot speak for the group though.

The adventure I am running is "The Slaying Stone" and I started it last week, I had not expected Throm's player to show up today because I was told he would not be able to make it, so I had kind of half prepared for him not to be there. I knew one player was leaving the game after today (So sorry to see ya go) and I was getting a friend of the Bard in the group to join and they would be arriving late to the game. So lots of things going on and I wanted it to go out with a bang for our Rogue who was moving to Pittsburgh.

The party was overlooking the town of Kiris Dahn as they argued about the plan on how best to get into the town of Goblins and Kobold's. Throm's player kept saying things about just fighting and the "no's" kept being thrown out there. When it was learned he could speak Goblin they chose to include him in the plan but Throm had ideas of his own and that had him getting close to listen to a group of Goblins who had left the town on a scouting missing.

The more the party said no to him the louder he got, which finally made me say "Fine you go.” Now mind you the looks from the other three at the table made me laugh on the inside. (Really guys I laughed hard) Like I said after the game he has to learn that splitting the party is never good unless it fits the adventure, and at this slice of time it did not work for the adventure.

He makes it down the hill along the road and hides in a bush where the goblins do not see him, except for his Summoned Bear. The lead Goblin says "Look there! Dinner." and Throm pulls out his short bow and fires at the lead goblin. His shot goes wide and six goblins  (not one of them is a minion by the way), gang up on him and knock him unconscious just as the rest of the party makes it down the hill to see him fall.

The Paladin gets a hit in on one of the goblins and then the Mage lines up a scorching burst and along with hitting some of the goblins, kills our Druid. The poor kid got mad, and rightly so, I would have as well. As DM I could have stopped it but I am a let the dice fall where they may and in the end it is about having fun and not me telling them “NO” all the time, like letting Throm's player go out and get attacked, I let the Mage attack. I just did not expect to hear him say that if he survives this his guy was going to kill the mage (that is the influence of a kid on Wed night encounters)

When he started saying he might as well go home, I asked him if he wanted to leave, (awkward moment there) He put his hands to his face and put his head on the table. OK TIMEOUT... my intention was not to have him die or let him cry nor did I want him to do it at the table in front of the rest of the players. I needed to turn this into a learning experience for him. I took him around the corner and I asked him a few questions.

Q: Do you know what just happened in there?
A: I was burned to death
Q: No before that.
A: I was attacked by the Goblins
Q: Why were you attacked?
A: Because I ran off by myself.

Bingo. I wanted him to know there were consequences when doing things like that. NEVER SPLIT THE PARTY. I tried teaching them that in encounters when I was playing and just it never stuck, I think now after this experience it has. I told him that his character would still be alive after the combat, I was using my judgment as the DM to do this but after this there would be no more of it, of course I could always do it again especially if it is a mechanical thing that kills him off. I wonder how things went at home later that day. Will his Mom want to talk with me at the store on Wednesday night? Will he have an even greater aversion to getting hit in combat? Time will tell.

All I know is that when he started to say things like they needed to work together and that he learned his lesson I think he had learned something. He did have some funny comments later in the game about running for his second life and things like that. I did not let him have his animal companion bear back for the remainder of the session as a sort of penalty for bringing him back to life.

His character thinks his deity, Melora has saved him. To my players reading this, and much like I told him, Character Knowledge and Player Knowledge are two separate things. Just know this, the Raven Queen does not give a soul back without asking for something in return and it might not be a favor or quest, it might be a soul.

I know that when I was 12 I did not deal with the death of my first real and successful character named T'larn. I took it bad and I was a few years older than him. I looked back on that incident and used that experience for how I dealt with this situation.

How did you handle your first character death experience, and if you have not yet, can you handle it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My DM Kits: A look inside

So a while back I posted about my DM Kit and a small look at what was inside.

There have been some upgrades and demotions such as my Fortune Cards. Since I am not a player anymore at the store I have regulated this to my duffel bag-O-stuff. This gave me more room for more mini's both PC and NPC and Monsters.

This "kit" is always evolving but some of the core stays the same. Namely the books, I just wish the Heroes of Shadow book was in the essentials format because it would find its place in here. I do not know what I would boot to make it fit but it would probably be the DM Kit since I do not really use it while gaming.

Also in the kit is my Rook Card Holder (I miss that company at Gencon, they had the iconic big black bag people bought stuff from them and got this bag they walked the con with) and of course my trusty bag of dice, it is NOT a Crown Royal bag but it is a nice soft bag. Not one of those tough fabrics you would not want to use as a blanket much less a pillow case.

List of Books and items inside
I shared a link for creating a Character Deck already but one of the things I always liked but could never just pull the cash out to make that purchase at Gencon was the Alea Tools Magnetic Markers.

When I first saw these they were just a novelty item that I thought was cool but had no real use for me. One year my friend Neal and I were sitting in the RAM down at Gencon Indy and a few of the guys were talking about them and had some of the new proto-types for the now current versions of these.

It still was not enough for me to make that decision I mean they were going to release a new version soon so I would wait right? Well the following year I made my purchase and I have used them in both Star Wars Saga Edition and D&D 4th Edition.

They work wonders for me keeping track of Defender Aura's, mark's for the various classes and conditions such as my favorite Bloodied (my players might not like that condition but it keeps them on their toes) if you are looking for that cool add on just the red counters work well.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Kobold Hall

    The ruined hall known now as Kobold Hall is now vacant after it's long run as the home to various clans of Kobold's.

    My Saturday afternoon group at Fair Game in Downers Grove, IL completed this sample adventure today out of the original 4th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide, to a resounding success. I currently have a group of six players which will parse down to five when our resident rouge moves to Pittsburgh in a few weeks. He will be missed.

    I have hinted at the future for them, gave them a warning of the main villain (yes, the man in Red Armor) and have started them off on a modified version of the Slaying Stone. All of my players except for two come from Wednesday Night Encounters so I have come to expect certain things out of them, three of those four are in my actual group while the fourth is at what we call the kid table, (Which is not a bad thing it just happens to have all the kids under 14 there plus a few of the parents)

    One our first session a few weeks ago we managed to get 3 encounters and a lot of roleplaying done in 5 hours. I was impressed. The second week we got in one encounter in 3 hours and I find that unacceptable. This week in 4 hours we got in 2 encounters with a tiny amount of roleplaying. Now the first encounter was a level 3 white dragon so yeah it will take a while but the second encounter was with the wolves in the beginning of Slaying Stone and that was resolved very quickly when the Bard forced a wolf into the raging river and he was swept away.

    So I have six players, the first week I had four players, does that mean it gets slower with the more players you add? In some respects yes, but not with this group, we have a healer problem that will get worked out in the next session, I am going to make it work and get the slow parts ironed out. We have gone fast in the past we will go fast again soon.

    I am going to add in a few more house rules into the game to speed things up on my end.

    • All Burst and Blast spells will only have one damage roll, if a spell crits one of the targets that is max damage and you still roll the rest (naturally). I just had this pointed out that it is naturally this way, duh! I do not know why it would have been any different.
    • Inherent Bonus': All character will start with them.
    • Mage Spell Book: During Exploration I will allow on the fly spell changes as long as he has the spell on his sheet it is there to use. This is mostly because of those Skill swap spells. It just makes some sense to me and is not a game breaker.
     I am going to be needing a new rogue to join the party soon, I really do not want to give them a companion character but it might turn out that way soon. The Players Option: Book of Shadow book is in my hands and one player already is using some of it in the campaign. Rob if you are reading this there will be some fun things to explore for you, especially now that I have your background written up.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    A card for any game!

    A little warning. I go a bit off the cuff here and do a little cussing

    So the Shadowfell boxed set will be coming out in May and WotC posted a pic of the despair deck coming in the box and people started making comments on how D&D was turning into Magic with every release.

    I get real tired of people saying this and you want to know what? They probably have not played Fourth Edition at all, especially when I read comments like

    "4th edition is not a role-playing game... It's a board game with delusions of role-playing. Like the original D&D sprouted from the loins of miniatures gaming, it's almost as if it went full circle but somehow went too far. They should have just put it into a video game since it basically is one without the computer. Hack, slash, hack, slash, here's the plotline progression, hack, slash.

    If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and tastes like a duck, there's a 99.8% chance it's a duck. 4th ed, is not a real role-playing oriented game first and foermost; you really have to work it hard, where the older editions if you had a table map for combat it was bonus. Been playing for almost 30 years now, and it's merely my opinion, so YMMV."

    Sacrilege!! A card for D&D
    I call Shenanigans! I too have been playing for 30 years and I have NOT changed the way I run my games outside of adapting it to the rules system. You are the player fucking Role-play! Do the rules make it so that you can not? In my last post I talked about starting my new campaign at the local store, wanna know what we did for the first hour? Role-played and not a damn die was rolled. How the fuck do you explain that? This person will not be able to because they are stuck in that notion that D&D is a board game.

    Oh my god! It is a board game... I need paper, pencil, dice, maybe a map and some tokens and my imagination! Seriously I know a few people who have even run the game without map and mini/tokens and the game ran fine. Add cards though and people panic. First it is not the edition they like and second it adds something they hate, an element they view as coming from Magic the Gathering. So they go and make a stink about it. You are entitled to that opinion I just am sick of hearing about it. Seriously live with it all your bitching is not going to make it go away. Freedom of speech or no it will not go away until they make 5th edition for you to hate even more.

    I made this comment about the whole card thing.

    So the cards are a visual element to the rules. As a DM if I did not have them I would have to remember somehow that one of my players is suffering its effects, I could write that down and so could the player. In that time though to write it down I could just as easily throw that card at them and be done with it.

    Saying that it is getting to be like Magic is crazy talk when you do not need these cards to play the game, in magic cards are required, DnD it is YOUR choice.

    I will stand by that comment, if is your game run it how you like. If a DM ever told me I could not cut my power cards out (See: Creating a Character Deck) and use them as cards because this is D&D and not a card game I would politely object keep playing. I do not think any DM of 4e would ever tell me that but you never know with some people, it could happen.

    Again it is your game and you do not need to use the despair deck in your game. you could write down all the effects and just tell the players what happens to them and maybe put it on an index card for them but wait a tick!!! If you have the card why not just give it to them so you do not need to keep track of yet one more thing? It is there just for that reason a visual aid and speeds up play while adding another element that can enhance the game, it is not required though.

    Getting off my high horse now, sorry for the profanity laced through this post.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    The Adventure Begins

    Today marked the beginning of my new campaign I am running at the game store where I help run D&D encounters. I had four players show up today, two are from encounters and two were new.

    The group consists of a Cleric, Mage, Thief and Knight. I let them pick how they knew each other after I read some intro text for the Nentier Vale and town of Fallcrest and they picked some cool ideas for story goals.

    The Cleric is an elf who wished to have been a druid but the path of the divine was his ultimate goal, he is uncomfortable around crowds and dislikes cities and towns. He seeks to rid the world of aberrant creatures. The Mage is a pyromancer who wishes to see the Imperishable Flame and believes he might imbue himself with a spark of its power somehow. The rouge wishes to rekindle the spirit of the nerathi people and set them on the path of rebuilding a new empire. The knight wishes to build up either a new town/city or help reshape an established city.

    I chose the Kobold Hall adventure from the DMG as the start for the campaign as it would help get them into the spirit of the game. In about 4 hours of play we did a lot of roleplaying in Fallcrest as they gathered some information on the Kobold attacks and were given quests to set them about on this adventure. In that time we got in three encounters and a two breaks all in all I think we got a lot accomplished in that time frame since I thought we might only get two encounters complete.

    For the first session I was happy with its pace and I think I can trim some more time out of setup by having my dungeon tiles ready to go. Next week we should see some more players with a one of this weeks players, the mage, missing from the game as he has family coming into town for the weekend. This should be interesting.

    I think if all goes well I will tie this into my Spring Dawning campaign.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    How to Make a D&D Character Deck

    This is my character from Encounters.
    I got the idea from Ben's RPG Pile

    So a while back, oh probably about two months ago I found this link to a site called Ben's RPG Pile. It had a post about How to Make a D&D Character Deck and I was intrigued. So I watched it and was immediately impressed, in fact the whole site has some nice informative posts on making D&D better visually and play wise. Take a look and watch this video.

    Not only does he talk about making your character deck but all other kinds of nifty things like re-basing Mage Knight and Dreamblade mini's for use in your D&D games. He also does some great terrain pieces for his games. Again check it out.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Starting up a new campaign

    So in about two weeks I will be starting up a new campaign for D&D 4e and it will not be with my gaming group of over 15 plus years! During that time I have had a few different groups in addition to my sorta stable group. I used to run Jovian Chronicles from DP9 and Star Wars d20 versions for a store my friend used to own. I recently started playing D&D Encounters at a new local store that opened up before the holidays last year called Fair Game. It is a great little store, follow the link and take a look.

    Anyway, I was recruited to run Encounters as I had offered when I first started playing and we had expanded to two tables and still turned away people who said they would come back the following week. My first week of running I had a group of six! Five new to 4e and one regular to encounters, at the end of the night the DM's talk about what we did, how the players fared and the like and I mentioned I wanted to run a game on the weekend.

    Normally I just go completely into design mode and start thinking of things I want to do and maybe jot notes down. I am a fly by the seat of my pants DM and the least amount of planning on my part seems to make the games go very well in my group. The thing is this is not my group, or not right now. I do not know who I will get as players though I have a pretty good idea it will consist of several from the encounters crew with a sprinkling of local vets.

    Next weeks encounters we are going to hype it up, the plan is a weekly game but if I get a lot of people I will break it into two groups perhaps the same day or every other week kind of deal. I decided with talking with the other DM's that I should probably allow Core 4e books and Essentials material to co-exist at the table which also lead to the conversation to the level of experience I want at the table. I said open to all and I got a few looks like, are you serious?

    Initially I looked at it from the encounters player standpoint. How, if you are only doing one encounter a night spread out once a week, do you learn the rules to any proficiency? We have a lot of kids play (10 years old and up) and I thought, "this would be a great opportunity to mold the new generation of players, I would be Obi-Wan Kenobi and they would be the padawan's!" I got a bit of advice from the store manager that perhaps I should say they need to have finished a few nights of encounters before committing to an on-going campaign.

    There are going to be a few caveats to playing in my game. Since this is a store game I do not want to loose potential customers for the store so I need to be diplomatic about my approach. I will be running the game for everyone to have fun but once it stops being fun or someone is preventing that from happening for others I will need to have a talk with said offender. I am not anticipating any real problems outside of the learning curve for some of the players ability to grasp the concept of role-playing in general.

    I have chosen to run Slaying Stone from WotC as the first adventure and then dig into the Monster Vault and DM Kit adventures from the essentials line. I am probably going to disallow the use of the PHB3 since I do not want psionic's in my game, I might allow the Monk but that is it. Hey it is my game. Of course I will suggest essentials classes.

    I am hoping that when game time comes that I have players and I have a decent game.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    My GM Kits - Dungeon Tiles and Monster Token Storage.

    014725R - Stanley® Professional Organizer & 014708R - Stanley® Deep Professional Organizer
    I learned long ago that when you run a game of Dungeons and Dragons or even my favorite Star Wars Saga Edition you have to go prepared. I got inspired to show how I finally transport and store my own tiles by a twitter in an answer to a question on this very topic. This is my Game (Thadeousc Have Box Will Travel post) I had looked around just before this past Christmas after getting the second Essentials tiles set and having just ran a D&D session. Yet again I was bringing more and more things with me to the game and I was getting more disorganized than I liked.

    I poked and prodded the interwebs and I had seen someone else use something similar to this on ENWorld (Tile storeage solution), but I did a Bing search today and found even more solutions. NewbieDM (Tiles and Mini's Solution) is interesting, I use the ziplock bags for my mini Star Wars Mini's since at one point I was moving them a lot, more on that later. Another site that has info on tile storage, Mike Shea from Sly Flourish has a video and does a similar storage like NewbieDM when it comes to the tiles.

    Edit (9/26/2011) I just found out that a site I visit a lot had this same solution, Icosahedrophilia I do not know how I missed it but here it is for completest sake.

    When I run my games I bring all kinds of goodness with me and I wanted it to be smart for me. These are three Stanley boxes I picked up at Meijer but you can also find them at Home Depot as well. Stanley® Deep Professional Organizer. and Stanley® Professional Organizer  (I linked off the official Stanley Tools website because both stores do not carry these items online).

    I have drawn a lot of ooh's and aah's from the kids (and some parents) at the store (Fair Game) where I now run (used to play) D&D Encounters. Let's take a look inside.

    My DM Kit
    This one contains all of my "essentials" all the books, fate cards, pens and pencils Alea Tools magnetic markers with deck protectors. An old SWAG Rook deck box and my PC mini's and my dice bag.

    Stanley® Deep Professional Organizer
    Dungeon Tiles
    This is one of the dungeon tile holders. This is only a portion of my collection as I learned to get 2 over every set recently sometimes more.
    The compartments are removable. What I like about this is that I do not need to bring my entire collection with me. I can build my encounters during prep and then store them in the available containers and tote them with me. Do I actually do that? (Hearty DM laugh) Alas no I don't I am a glutton for self punishment and bring everything with me.
     here I swapped out a larger one in the top right for two smaller ones.
    Monster Tokens
    Here are my token sets from the Monster Vault and Dungeon Masters Essentials kit's.

    Stanley® Professional Organizer
    I like this one a lot. I found one in purple colors over at Walmart that is a bit smaller that I might buy to store my Gamma World tokens in. I have not seen this case at Home Depot only at Meijer for a cost of $12.99

    Outside of this I usually have a backpack or a laptop bag that I tote the regular books I might need like the Adventure Tools 1 and 2 or the monster manuals. Extra character sheets, my character folder and maps. Along with that I have my portable hard drive and various USB Flashdrives containing all PDF versions of the groups characters, various pieces of artwork I have used for inspiration and then music that I have listened to during that day's planning.

    About Me

    My photo
    I am Regional Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region for D&D Adventurers League. Worked for Best Buy as a Project Team Specialist were I did store remodels, support Vendor displays and set merchandising standards for the stores in the Chicago market. He also enjoys playing games (PC, Console, Board Games, RPGs and Miniature Skirmish Games), reading, watching movies and listening to music.