Monday, June 1, 2015

5e Expeditions Every Thursday

I don't want my posts to just be about when I'm running a game, but so far that's all i've had time for. work is occupying a lot of time, and leaves me little time for posting.
The Expeditions games have been going great. We have a full table, sometimes overflow, and a great group of people that make it fun. Sometimes it gets a little loud, but Matt, the manager, has been really helpful in providing us a room, and a fan because of lack of AC in the back of the building.
We have one mini left in the City of Danger, and our adventurers have done very well for themselves in working out the puzzles, fighting the bad guys, and saving the day. Not one abductee lost yet. Got close, but still safe.
Maybe if I can borrow a smart phone I'll take a pic this week and post our players.


Friday, May 15, 2015

5e Expeditions - City of Danger

Thursday night, May 7th, was my first time running Adventurer's League D&D 5e. I ran the new Princes of the Apocalypse storyline, City of Danger, at ABU Games, and the game went great.
Walter runs Encounters Wednesday night at ABU Games, and so I stopped by his game around 730, after our Encounters at All About Games got over, and invited any who were interested. Several players showed immediate interest, and so Thursday was a party of four 2nd level characters, and it went very smooth, we all had fun, and there was almost a total party wipe due to Pack Tactics on the Red Tailed Hawks and the poor Barbarian's bad luck. I swear, when you roll 12d20, and every one is under 10, its time to go home. But he stuck with it, and eventually the curse broke and he rescued the two downed players.
It was a good thing that I didn't let them convince me to include the Hippogriff o.O

Then yesterday was our second game. One player swap, two character swaps (due to leveling in their Encounters game), and one rename, and another successful game.

I am a fan of 5e. I was unsure at first, but since playing Encounters and running Expeditions, with the ease of play, the lack of necessity of looking up complex rules *cough* 3.5 Turn undead.. *cough*, and the well written campaigns -- if you overlook the typos -- 5e is D&D done right.
I had to change my perception of it, and instead of thinking of it as updates to 3.5, look at it as a whole new system. That made it easier to take, instead of "What do you mean I don't get flanking bonus?" and "Feat OR stat increase?!"
Now I'm looking forward to them bringing in other genre. 5e Modern!
If you're in the Boise, ID area and are interested in playing, stop by ABU Games on Thursday nights at 6pm. I'm the blond guy that looks similar to my drawing over there in the corner.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ding! I just leveled as a DM.

Quote of the day: "There's not a problem in this world that can't be solved by enough celestial giant badgers." -milesunderground

I'm a late adopter. I don't do anything as soon as it comes out. I didn't get an Xbox until the 360 was almost released, and I was lucky enough to buy a 360 after they fixed the red ring issue. Sometimes it helps to wait.
I didn't do 4th, preferring my comfortable, safe, happy 3.5, and have been very secure in the knowledge that there are 10,000 books for any 3.5 era (D&D, Modern, Future, Past, Horror, Super Hero, ShadowRun-style, Star Wars) that I wanted to play in.
(I still haven't tried Fantasy Flight's Star Wars. I do love Saga.)
But when I came home and did a search around town, and only found two games being played in one of the local shops, and they were both 5e games, I was ready.
I have played since the start of episode 2 of Hordes of the Dragon Queen, taking my Halfling War Priest of Torm to level 5 while battling cultists, dragon-kin, mages, and even finishing off the BBSEGirl with a guiding bolt while blind (thank you channel energy +10 to hit).
While many of the rules I know and expect from 3.5 are missing (what do you mean flaking doesn't give me a bonus?), the game is solid, the play flows well, and we spend more time adventuring than looking up obscure rules. Simplified, not "dumbed down".
This May, in one of our local shops, I have been recruited by the local Adventurer's League rep to DM D&D 5e Expeditions, the companion adventures to Wednesday Nite's Encounters (which I will be playing tonite at 4).
Being asked to be a DM for public play is a big step for me, and one I am totally ready for,.. just as soon as I get some miniatures that aren't rats or space marines o.O
Thank you to Dragon Fury for this opportunity, and thank you to the players who will be lining up to fill my ranks and experience 5e.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's your favorite character?

Have you ever played a game long enough to get past level 4? Have you spent months and months questing through dungeons and slaying vile barons? Have you gone epic and stormed the gates of Mount Celestia?
Who did you do it with? What's your favorite character you ever played?

My favorite character is PotsnPan Candytooth Silverfish. MGn Wiz8/Fgt3/EK7/ArchMage3. "Pots" is apprentice to the god of the hourglass, Chronos himself. He is ArchMage of the College of the Nine, and revered as a minor diety in his founded city of Silverfish, county of Pots Arcana. He and his brave companions slew the Necromancer Emmerus and his brother the Death Knight Heltanner, driving back the undead hordes and saving the kingdom. They recovered the ancient broadsword the Burning Cross and with it installed Osfred as king, and united the Seven Kingdoms.**

How about you? Doesn't have to be d&d. Doesn't even have to be 3.5. Tell me about the character you played the longest, the adventures you had, and the bbseg* you defeated.

*BBSEG = Big Bad Super Evil Guy
**If any of this is familiar from other stories, I wouldn't be surprised. TJ liked to steal from everywhere. It was a pretty awesome story, though.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Clerics as Tanks, and The need for a fighter

The Friday night game is going well, and the players are learning that sometimes it isn't a good idea to kick down the door and charge in before you know what is in there.
The cleric is the closest thing we have to an actual face-to-face fighter, and that doesn't seem to be working out so well. He's not smart (the character, not the player. Rick is doing an excellent job of playing him as such), and just busts through doors.
This has led him to falling down pits and being used as a chew toy by giant rats, and as a training dummy for a handful of rat-men (Skaven, stats of goblins, but I don't have gobo minis, just Skaven).
Friday he fell in combat to a Skaven Grey Seer (Adept2)'s burning hands spell and several attacks by the warriors.
The wizard fell, and went all the way to -7hp before being stabilized, the rogue down to 1, the Ranger (ranged type) down to 2, before they managed to kill all but one of the warriors, who ran off to protect his badly wounded Chief, giving the players the opportunity to grab their wounded and drag them to safety, and send for the healer.
For a little background, we are playing a by-the-books 3.5 game, where the only house rule is: Up to level 4, you can change your character in any way. Change class, feats, skills, ability scores, whatever. Try to figure out what you want to play in those levels so you're ready to move on in the campaign as we go up.
All four of my players are brand new to paper/dice playing, so I want them to learn the book way before introducing all the house rules that mess with it, and then bring in house rules in later games when they have a firm understanding of the core concepts and what house rules do to alter them.

This brings me to the topic of this post, the need for a fighter.
Before I begin, let me just say to Demon that yes, a war priest is an awesome fighter, if you don't mind waiting 3-5 rounds for buffs.
Enough said, moving on.
Many players forego the Fighter as being too vanilla, not interesting enough. They want something cool. They want something that can throw fire and shoot lightning, call down the powers of the heavens or choke the evil with entangling vines while their pet bear gnaws on the remains. But the vanilla fighter is the tank for a reason. The shear number of feats he acquires gives him an amazing advantage, especially at low levels.
For example, let's take Togrun. Togrun is going to be a human male Fighter 1.
Using the basic stats (15,14,13,12,10,8) lets give him the following:

  • STR 15
  • DEX 12
  • CON 14
  • INT 10
  • WIS 13
  • CHA 8
HP: 12
Feats: Weapon Focus(Longsword), Sword and Shield Combat Style (+1 to hit, +1AC), Power Attack
Combat: +5 (longsword) 1d8+2/19x2
AC (chain shirt, lg shield) 18.
So he's very hard to hit, has a decent attack, and with a 3-11 damage, 4-12 with power attack, can smash out most any CR1/3 Skaven (Goblin) and CR1/2 Orc.
Compare this to the cleric, that didn't take too many combat buffs, and isn't a war priest, and we have To Hit: +2, 1d8+2/x3, AC 17.
Close on the AC and good on the damage, but that missing extra little bit from the BAB and WF takes its toll at the early levels.
Granted, this is Rick's first time playing, and it is a learning experience, but a good fighter is needed.

A well thought out character takes practice, and its okay to make mistakes and stumble along the way. Plan out a level map for your character with a concept in mind, so you know what to take at each level. Look over prestige classes to see what your requirements are so you can get the most out of them as early as possible while maintaining your concept. Think about what your game and Game Master focus on. Is it RP? Combat? Puzzles? or a mix? How will your stats and skills play their strengths to the GM's campaign goals?
Will that flavor point in sleight of hand come in handy when you suddenly have a need to not be seen pocketing the key while talking to the baron? Or is your answer to every confrontation, "I hit it with my axe"?
If you haven't played a vanilla fighter in awhile, try a revisit and experience the awesomeness that comes from always being combat ready.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Everything I needed to know about DM'ing I learned in Prison

Ok, let's talk about this. When I was out before, we played once per week, and I did my best to put on a good game, to come up with interesting challenges, and have some fun. But I did so at a severe disadvantage: I played once per week.
When you only play once per week, you don't necessarily have time to compile the lessons learned from previous sessions.
Its like watching a tv series one episode per week as compared to marathoning the whole thing back to back in an afternoon. Little things you didn't notice before just jump out at you.
So when I went to prison and found a few players, they wanted to play every-freaking day. So we did. I had a lot of chances to try out new things and learn what works and what doesn't, to put together a long term cohesive game, and grow at an amazing rate.
How fast of a rate, you might ask?
Let's do the math:
I used to play 1x/week, and depending on the day, for 3 to 10 hours in that one week. Lets average it to 6.
While inside, I played six days per week for 4 hours per day.
So in one year, on the old math, at 52 weeks times 6 hrs per week, we played 312 hours.
In one year, inside, at 4 hours per day for six days for 52 weeks, we played 1248 hours.

Here are some of the lessons I learned:

  • Stick with point system or basic set - (15,14,13,12,10,8) or, for a more powerful game, (16,15,14,14,13,10). That's it. Don't do 4d6, reroll 1's. Someone will end up with low scores, someone will end up with (3) 18's, and someone will feel like the other players are superfluous and treat them badly, with many comments about, "Stop sucking."
  • Keep challenge ratings appropriate. - Yes, its fun to get your ass handed to you and feel like you came out on top. But not in every encounter. Some encounters should be simple, some a decent challenge, and boss fights should almost kill you, but in the end you can overcome. If every fight is about to kill your players, then the players feel like it is only dumb luck or DM fudge rolls that are saving them, and discouragement happens.
  • Take copious notes - I created little booklets that I could jot down notes on player questions, wish lists, investigation things that had to come back to them, etc. This way at night when I was preparing for tomorrow's game, I could come up with the answers to keep them on the trail (or throw them off). Yes, out here I can go to the store and buy a small spiral notebook for 35cents. In there I had to make them.
  • Don't give away lots of magic and gold - It is fun for the players to find treasure. When you try to be nice and hand out cool stuff, it comes back to bite you in the end. Yes, they should have something special about their character, such as an awesome droid, a special weapon, a power that no one else has, but keep it small and retain balance in your game.
  • Hold something back - Don't make all the powers available at the beginning. Don't have all the gear available, even if it is in the player's manual. Hold it back as a reward for later on. If they ask about it, tell them it isn't available, or they will have to find someone that knows it to learn it from them. Holding back will give them something to search for and give them a goal.
  • Throw in a treasure hunt, even if you aren't sure what the treasure is yet - I had a random encounter with a derelict freighter that had obviously been in a pirate raid. The players searched the captain's quarters and found a datapad that had notes about a lost treasure, and included three possible locations. No matter which location they went to in what order, the third one had the next clue. After 9 locations, and they were to the place where the treasure should be, that's when I had to decide what it was, and I picked something that would help them in the final battle against the Sith Lord, a few crates of clone embryos. Now they can have their own troops to lead against the Shadow Lord's armies.
  • Create custom prestige classes that are designed just for them. - I'll post mine later, but that was a big hit. I created a special prestige class designed specifically for each of my players that made them unique designed around something that happened to them in the game, such as Konan becoming a Werewolf Lord, or Lone Wolf becoming a Dragon Rider.
    In prison I did not have the books, and it was actually against the rules to play, so we had to make up everything. If some of these prestige classes exist in books, I didn't have them, and I'm sure mine are quite different.
  • Sometimes what makes a player happy to play his character is a simple boon - Try giving him a 'Frost Giant' bloodline, so he gets a Cold Resistance 2. Simple, but it helps the player feel special, different, and adds to background.
  • Try playing without the books - As I mentioned, I didn't have access to the books, and if I wanted anything, like Spell Descriptions or class abilities, I had to spend 3.50$ and call Skipp and hope he stopped talking about Warhammer long enough to look up what I needed before the end of the call. Monsters, had to make them up. Locations, had to make them up. Vehicles, had to make them up. We made up new spells, items, powers, equipment, modifications, rules, everything. Our game was loosely based on 3.5, with a twist of pathfinder, and we were constantly tweaking and testing new rules to find what works. Creativity flourishes when you don't have resources. Try it.

Well, those prolly aren't all the things I learned, but its a good amount of them. I hope someone learns something, and if you don't agree, that's okay. These are the things I learned after finding that it didn't work out, and came back to bite me in the ass.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Into the dark, my friends.

We've had a few hiatus, -- babysitter issues, work conflicts, and one player was so confused by the character creation process that he backed out entirely. Ah, 3.5, we love to hate to love you -- but its coming around.

Last time, the party was told of a local boy gone wandering off into the woods and hasn't come back. They joined the search party and set off. One of the party is a ranger, and managed to track the boy's steps until they crossed with a lot of strange prints, much like large mouse prints, but somewhat different. They followed them and came to a clearing in the forest where standing stones jutted from the ground in some strange ruinous formation, and under one that was partially toppled, they found a stone door and an entrance to an underground complex.
It was dark inside, and they had to make use of torches and lanterns, and they have searched the first three rooms, been poisoned, diseased, fought large rats, and a strange creature that was immune to fire and had damage resistance.
Since it is their first game, they know nothing about any of these creatures, so the Lemur Devil was a real challenge. They made some good attempts, by dousing it in oil and igniting it, but didn't know until that point that it had fire immunity. The cleric did decent tank work, but in the end they ran, recovered, and hit it hard with missile weapons as it burst through the door, finally dealing enough damage to put it down.
That's where we ended for the night. Its going good so far.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

So treads the heroes...

The game is going great. After a day of character building, we followed up the next week with some simple combat vs Dire Rats

in the basement of a couple locals.
since they're new players, I wanted to start them out easy and give them a taste for the real danger, and it worked out well.
the cleric spent his healing spells on himself, he also being the tank, when his thigh was critically ripped into by the sharp incisors of the dire rat. The rogue and the wizard played their part, keeping the distance and dealing damage with bows and magic. The ranger fired through the windows to stay out of harm's way.
All in, a successful first adventure in the new campaign, and our wizard found us a sixth player... if he calls me back.
Next up: In the lair of the White Rat


Friday, February 20, 2015

"Would you like to join my party?"

I was out for a week before I needed a game. I went where I used to go, only to discover they moved the building. It was in the same parking lot, but not where I was expecting. I didn't really notice a lot of additional space, just a different setup.
They had -no- game postings.
and their RPG section looked like it was being stripped out.
It was.
And they close at 8pm on Saturday night. wtf? What gaming store closes at 8pm on a Saturday? Bard's Quest did it right. Open 'till midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
So on to the next one.
A better faire, they had two 5e games going, so I dropped into that one at the end of the first episode of Horde of the Dragon Queen.
But one is not enough, and playing is insufficient when you've been running almost every day for 5 long years.
on to craigslist.
I found two posts for lfg, and contacted them both. Now we have a game, because the first person has friends.
I have five players for a Level 1 homebrew 3.5 campaign (the books I still have laying around), and I am happy.
I have five players that have NEVER played before.
That might take some thought. Where do you start? There are so many small changes, borrowings, house rules... what do you teach new players?
I decided to stick to the base rules. no house rules, just right out of the book. That way they can learn the correct way to play and there won't be confusion, because we can just look it up if there's a question.
Tonite is the first game: my players are ready, my story is ready, and it will be great.
Wish me luck.


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All of Soulie's RPG (paper and dice) related articles that will be published on RPG Blogger's Network.

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