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

About Me

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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.