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.

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.