Thursday, March 16, 2017

"A Red Rumspringa" - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 8 - GM Commentary

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Comments are in roughly chronological order as I listen to the podcast for the umpteenth time...



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Golden Puddle of Tollgate Square - Leaving Room for Icons in 13th Age


While I ran the Strangling Sea to start my 13th Age campaign, for the second full session, I ran a homebrew adventure. Previously the party had determined that there were three NPCs who might know a secret worth trading to an Ettercap temple in exchange for information about a 2nd Age Sage who studied the Stone Thief. Those three NPCs were

  • Elizabeth Clawchoke, Lich Baroness residing in Drakkenhall
  • Malaggar Lyme, Dark Elf emissary to the Emperor, currently visiting the court of Drakkenhall.
  • Corgak the Bruiser, Half-Orc thief and thug who killed an agent of the Prince of Shadows and stole a magical key.

After some discussion the PCs choose Corgak, and so headed off to Drakkenhall to locate him.
Now, as GM, I had a few objectives, which were:

  • Leave room to adapt the adventure based on Icon Rolls.
  • Provide a few social interaction encounters.
  • Introduce Tollgate Square as a place, with a distinctive feel, locations and NPCs.
  • Steal shamelessly from Voltron.


So how did I attempt all that? Why is Manneken Pis the image header? Keep reading to find out... (Minor Voltron Legendary Defenders Season 2 spoilers at the end of the post)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Is he telling the TRUTH?" Against Insight/Sense Motive



Man, I am terrible at compiling lists of GM Resolutions, I left off my renewed effort at NPC voices and came to realize today that I also left off my Insight/Detect Lie resolution. To whit, I am done allowing Insight/Sense motive checks to tell when an NPC is lying...

Now, this has been a pet peeve of mine for quite a while, but this year I'm putting my foot down and no longer allow players to declare "Is [NPC] telling the truth? I'm rolling Insight". But, but Zack! You cry, the D&D 5e Player's Manual allows it... and, sure I guess you could read it like that... here it is... the description of the Insight skill (which replaced earlier editions equally terrible "Sense Motive")...
Insight. Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides whether you can determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone’s next move. Doing so involves gleaning clues from body language, speech habits, and changes in mannerisms.
It's right there "true intentions of a creature... searching out a lie..." to which I say, hooey... HOOEY! Continue reading or skip right to the TL;DR

Friday, February 17, 2017

13th Age - The Strangling Sea Review and Recap

(Find it at... Pelgrane Press  / Drivethru RPG / Amazon)

I choose The Strangling Sea to kick off my new Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, not just because it was a published 1st level adventure that I could run without much prep but because it is an excellent adventure and tailored towards GMs who are new to running 13th Age. While I am not new to running 13th Age, it was still nice to have the extra advice in the adventure to guide me as I gear up to running an ongoing campaign that I hope will cover 1st through 8th levels.

Major spoilers for The Strangling Sea adventure follow, obviously. I'll do the review first and the recap of my players second, so that readers who just want a review of the adventure don't have to stick around for the hi-jinx of my players.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thought of the Day: NPC Voices



I didn't include it in my list of 2017 Gaming Resolutions, but I've been trying to do more NPC voices for all my games. So, even though I have players who accuse me of killing NPCs off just because I forgot the voice, I keep trying.

Voices and accents don't come naturally to me. I attempted a Space Australian accent for one of my Numenera NPCs but it quickly drifted into something else (though it was a great excuse to watch this delightful clip again and again...) Lately, I've been trying to give NPCs a quick description of their voice or vocal tics and jotting it down in my notes so I can use that to remind myself of how they should sound when I return to that NPC; here are some recent examples of how I've been describing NPC voices.

So I've been trying to decide how to voice a kitten NPC for my 13th Age game, as I want it to live up to the "Talkative" trait that the player picked for the Ranger Pet talent. Long story short, the PC, Felix Mittens, used to be a catperson until he was cursed by a witch to become fully human while his twin brother, Boots, became fully kitten. I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with how Boots should talk, since he'll be an ongoing NPC constantly with the party... I think I'm going to come up with some stock phrases I can use for when certain events happen, like maybe Boots doesn't like orcs or comments when someone fumbles... 

But then I was watching some Venture Bros today and I realize I'm tempted to have Boots speak exactly like Augustus Saint Cloud does when he's pretending that Henrietta Pussycat is speaking to him in the episode Maybe No Go. My delight at saying "Eat the pennies, Quizboy" means that I have a decent Augustus Saint Cloud impression (probably the only VB character I can do reliably) and I like the idea of starting and ending each sentence with "mew mew" to just drive home that Boots the kitten is talking... Others might think it's too creepy, but I'm starting to think it's just creepy enough...





Friday, February 10, 2017

Viking Funeral On Shifty Pond - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 8

Wait, a Seven of Diamonds but this is the eighth actual play podcast? You'll have to listen to find out...


Once again we descended into the lair of the Ginger Giant and recorded the continuing adventures of the Stonestrike sisters, Ochen and Harry Froggy Hoppington. I put in a shameless plug for my recent "Powered by the Apocalypse Style Looks for Fantasy RPG PCs" article, the PCs give Moth his Viking Funeral send-off on shifty pond. Plus whirl-wind romance, death, betrayal, ventriloquism forgiveness and the return of Thomasina, onion witch extraordinaire. All that and more in Viking Funeral On Shifty Pond - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 8.