Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Donjon Design: More than Just a Cellar Full of Monsters

So after a six month hiatus, I'm getting ready to dive back into running Fourth Edition D&D, albeit on a limited basis.  I'm taking over one of Citizen Ben's three D&D games for a brief spell and I'm also planning a massive weekend long mega-dungeon in celebration of the 30th anniversary of my escape from the womb...   As as I get together my notes and actually start the design process, I've started keeping a list of goals for how I want to design these two dungeons. **Note, for the purpose of this post, consider Dungeon to be synonymous with Adventure.**

(brainstorming for Iskender's Tomb)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

GM Commentary: The Hydra and the Viper or Last Rest Episode 8 vs. Fading Suns Chapter Two


First, The Abyss from OGLAF (this link is SFW, but much on OGLAF is delightfully NSFW, so fair warning.)  I'd like to think the PCs in my game are like the Thaumaturge, but I suspect they'd rather be the commoners as that's the much more enjoyable path.


"Self," I thought to myself, as I am wont to, on Tuesday afternoon, "You're going to keep things moving & not going let tonight's Fading Suns become a Plot Gobbler, right?"  "Yes, other self," I told myself, and I'd like to think I succeeded.  Truth is, I've been running lots of Plot Gobbler sessions lately, where I, as GM, do a piss poor job of keeping things moving along or at least staying enjoyable and instead let the game slow to a grind of intra-party dickering and pointless NPC interactions.  While I was able to reign it in for the last Fading Suns session I ran, I'm unsure it it will be as easy when I run my next session of Reign...  Part of it is Final Fantasy NPC Syndrome and part of it is in the different Nature of the Beasts of the two games I'm running.

(as always, you'll be better served if you read my Episode summary at the Last Rest blog, though this last one was a little threadbare and not up to my usual standards)


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Descent Into the Lair of the Ginger Giant or "So You're Playing D&D for the 1st Time"


You’ve gathered a party of hearty friends, packed your rations, your casks of ale, acquired strangely shaped, mystical gems and descended into the subterranean lair of the Ginger Giant.  With indecipherable sheets of parchment clutched in your hands, you find yourself before a strange goatee'd frog creature, who is goggle-eyed and drooling, clutching a dozen worn tomes, full of arcane charts, jumping from foot to foot and cackling manically “You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourselves into… bully…wug…bully…wug” in between belts of some foul smelling liquor.  Before you can figure out what is going on or what you’re supposed to do, you hear the booming voice of the Ginger Giant, “Roll… for initiative…”

For the uninitiated tabletop role playing games can be every bit as terrifying as the flavor text above, especially when joining a group that has experienced players, who sometimes are Lawful Evil jerks who treat newcomers as ignorant and in the way of the game and the story, or who use the PCs of new players as disposable cannon fodder or gullible marks, instead of taking the path of Good and mentoring new players.  It can be daunting to look at the 200+ page Player’s Handbook, not to mention the dozens of other ancillary rule-books  and to wonder just what you need to know to play the game.  Here is my take, both as an experienced player of D&D and a longtime Dungeon Master, on some tips, hints and tricks that will improve your first Dungeons and Dragons experience.   A word of caution, too, before we begin… In addition to being a seasoned player and DM, I am, of course, also a crazy person (demonstrated by the tortured structuring of this poor, mangled sentence), who, as this blog attests to, spends entirely too much time thinking about these sorts of things.  That said, I do think that keeping the things below in mind, whether you decide to follow the trail of breadcrumbs I lay down or not, will help you as you take your first steps into the nerdy abyss that is tabletop role-playing.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

GM Commentary: Last Rest Episode 7: Swords and Secrets

Same disclaimer as always, go read the Summary of Reign Season One, Last Rest Episode Seven: Swords and Secrets...  You should also read the Teaser for Episode Eight:  “Down the Perimeter / Ringing the Bell…” as I'll talk about that briefly as well.

ALSO, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE TAKE MY 2-PART SURVEY ABOUT THE GAME: PART ONE and PART TWO.  It's for both players and non-players and it will help me make the game as enjoyable as I can going forward.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Introducing Guðleifr the útlegð AKA Gleb the Exile

So last Saturday was the character creation session for the new D&D game that inspired my last two character creation manifesto posts (parts 1 and 2).  As previously threatened, I made good on my promise to Citizen Ben to hijack the game, standing before the seven other players and pontificating about what I thought the party goals and game plot should be, as well as shepherding all through the character creation process.   The other players decided on the following:
  • Aldous Kordam - Satyr Skald
  • Alora Aluringcast - Eladrin Arcanist
  • Samir Dastinky - Dwarf Slayer
  • Hyrulan - Elf Sentinel
  • Ichiro Katsou - Half-Elf Swordmage
  • Zarach - Githzerai Avenger
  • ??? - Halfling Storm Sorcerer

And I, of course, went with my plan to play Guðleifr the útlegð AKA Gleb the Exile, Goliath Barbarian.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

2 Vday Mixes

Mostly unrelated to gaming (I started getting into Doom Jazz when looking for good background music for my Noir-influenced Fading Suns game), here are the two mix CDs I am going to foist on friends who will probably never listen to them...

Last.fm post with track previews, links to artist info, etc

Love is Doomed ...a doom jazz valentine...

1 "Black City Skyline" Bohren & Der Club of Gore from Sunset Mission
2 "Mists of Krakatoa" The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble from Here Be Dragons
3 "Your Kicks and What?" Heroin & Your Veins from Regret
4 "Une Petit Cellier" The Dale Cooper Quartet from Metamanoir
5 "The Admiral's Game" The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation from Succubus
6 "Now He Knows Your Name" Barry Adamson from An Album Club Exclusive
7 "Thrill of Romance...?" Nurse With Wound from Huffin' Rag Blues
8 "The First Pain" Heroin & Your Veins from Dead People's Trails
9 "Beileid" Bohren & Der Club of Gore from Beileid
10 "Fifteen Years of Sorrow" Strange Attractor from Everything is Closer
11 "Alice" Sunn O))) from Monoliths and Dimensions



See All the Lonely Children Lose their Minds

1 "Copenhagen" Minor Science from Train Window Girl (avaiable free here)
2 "Ode to Sad Disco" Mark Lanegan Band from Blues Funeral
3 "The Beautiful Dancing Dust (Remixed by Matmos)" Current 93 featuring Antony from Black Ships Heat the Dancefloor
4 "Tagelang Weiß" Einstürzende Neubauten from Strategies Against Architecture IV
5 "1000 Eyes (Film Version)" Alec Empire from Shivers
6 "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" ANBB from Ret Marut Handshake
7 "Youth and Lust" Cold Cave from Love Comes Close
8 "Human Experiment" Al Comet from White Planet
9 "Feeder" Mothman from Mothman
10 "Megahurtz (mindFIELD Aurora Mix)" Chemlab from Rock Whore vs Dance Floor
11 "Lonely Go Go Dancer" Marc Almond from Tragedy



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Character Creation III-Part 2 - 2 Examples


Continuing on my last post, here are two examples of character creation. I worked through creating two PCs in order to apply many of my ideas from that post...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Character Creation III

I’ve been thinking about character creation and party building as I plan the hijack Citizen Ben’s second D&D group that he’s starting up this month.  I think he thinks that I’m just joking about hijacking the game, but I’m actually deadly serious.  I’m taking the opportunity to apply to this new game what I’ve been thinking about RE: Characters, backgrounds, goals, plots and party cohesion from the two games I’m running, my Gritty Fantasy Last Rest Reign campaign and my Future Noir Fading Suns, plus Citizen Ben’s first D&D game that I’m playing.  If I’m going to disappoint my girlfriend by dedicating time to a fourth RPG game, bringing my monthly RPG sessions that bite into our time from five up to six I intend to get exactly what I want.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Uwain the Betrayed: Speechification

Why, yes, I'm the kind of crazy SOB who'd write up a speech for his D&D character to deliver... I've been waiting for months to have Uwain give this speech, and finally, tomorrow, I shall have that chance...  The game left off last time with my former PC, the now NPC, Sid (referenced below as "That Abomination", sending abominations to kill the PCs, this would be the speech Uwain would give immediately after the fight.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Three Game Fortnight

Tomorrow marks the start of a Three Game Fortnight for me, wherein I shall run three games within two weeks.  It's actually, strictly speaking, only 8 days and not a fortnight, but that has less of a ring to it.

First up will be Reign Last Rest: Episode 6: Tough Times in Tribute, the rough midway point of that campaign.  I'm excited because I've gotten a couple of the players to knowingly or unknowingly agree to some "Devil Deals", a concept that I stole from my friend Tavis, who is one of the best GMs I've had the pleasure to know.  In a "Devil Deal" a Player/PC accepts something awesome or enticing for their character knowing that it will have strings attached that the GM will call in later.  I have very little planned for the Sixth Episode, other than the Players arriving in Tribute.  I was going to showcase the Reign Company rolls/challenges and advance time 3-6 months and have the PCs face a number of Company Challenges, but that is now dependent on if I have all my players as family emergencies may call a couple away from the table.  Other than that, tomorrow night will be pure Sandbox.  I've got some ideas for what the PCs might encounter, but mostly my goal is to loosely set up and let the PCs choose from the half-dozen possible campaign climaxes so I can start steering plot in that direction.  In theory the campaign will be wrapping up around the end of April/beginning of May, leaving the door open for a new season of Reign set in Last Rest or for a new campaign in a different setting/system.  Watch the Last Rest blog today for a character journal spelling out one of my favorite Devil Deals that took several days of negotiation...

A Bang & then a Whimper - The Final Dispatch from Parcher's

When we left our rag-tag band of PCs and their 50-60 hangers on (in addition to Pinky's gang, Man also decided to take the 'hav...