Thursday, July 30, 2015

In Which I Get a Thing From Christian

So I sent an email off to Christian, the writer of the presently-on-hiatus Destination Unknown blog, one of my favorites these past six years. In return for dropping him a line, he sent me the first real, actual mail I've received since.... well, probably the last time he sent me something a couple of years ago. It was a nice find amidst the credit card offers and coupons for places I never go anyway.

Within the envelop I found two mini-dungeons: one a junk/salvage area located in the Planescape setting, the other a petrified giant corpse with a lingering enchantment. I'm actually stealing the giant corpse map (but not the exact back-story) for my D&D5 game which starts tomorrow night. It has also given me the idea that in my setting of Albadia, the giants who live today are not the True Giants, who are all dead (supposedly) and are more like the titanic monoliths of destruction in Skyrim, but with tons of now-forgotten magical lore.

...the junk shop will probably get some play in something I eventually run, but not for this particular campaign. I don't plan for it to be planar in scope. It does give me an idea for a crowded merchants' alley full of dubious dealers and even more dubious goods, however.

I have forestalled Rifts tonight, mainly because I am presently on a lot of benadryl to counter a reaction to what ever species of demon-weed seems to have infested my backyard. To make matters worse, the hose on my giant dispenser of weed-killing chemical broke, so I had to traipse about splashing poison on them straight from the jug. The medicine has left me in an air-headed state (it seriously took me like forty minutes to type this blog post.)  Ah, but I digress with my first world problems...

Anyway, thanks to Christian and also for his blog recommendation. I've been trying to update my blogroll lately as many of my old favorites have either shuttered their blogs or simply stopped posting months or even years ago. While my blog probably stopped being even a glimmer of relevant years ago, I intend to go on, because I love reading the sound of my own voice.

I will post my thoughts on 5e after running the first session.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thinking About KantCon 2016, etc.

It might be a bit premature to start thinking about next year's KantCon, given that I've only been back from KC2015 for three days. Still, the amount of joy I gleaned from running those two games gives me the idea that I should run more than two games next year. Perhaps I should do nothing but run games.

I'm going to at least do three next year, perhaps being a GM the first day and a player the second. I think I will also continue my tradition of running both Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. (Even though I wasn't signed up to run LotFP this year, I ended up subbing in for Death Frost Doom, thus upholding my tradition.) I might also bust out some Savage Worlds, because 1.) I miss SW and 2.) It seems to be pretty popular at KC.

Rifts tomorrow and D&D5 Friday, then I play John's Sunday game... and then my summer is over.
I'll be giving Rifts back in a few weeks as Steven resumes our Beyond the Supernatural 2nd ed game.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

KantCon Day II: Madness

Jesus. I did me some gaming today.

In the morning I played a Savage Worlds game set in the 50's, where veterans of a secret anti-demon/anti-sorcerer unit in WWII were called together to protect President Eisenhower from a scheme carried out by remnants of the Third Reich.

Highlight: We blew up Hitler. (Well, his mangled body in a life-support-iron-lung thingie)

In the afternoon I played the Buffy the Vampire Slayer rpg. I really enjoyed the Spock vs. McCoy style relationship between the Watcher I was playing and the Slayer's questing troll boyfriend, who was adamant that the Slayer was a goddess and didn't need training. It was the setup for a really good campaign and the GM knew his shit...sadly, it's only a one shot.

Highlight: More roleplaying and characterization than most convention games.

I didn't go to my evening session because I ended up becoming a substitute DM.... there was a guy who was supposed to run Death Frost Doom but didn't show, then another guy offered to step in and he went home sick or something. Well, I happened to have DFD on my iPad and I've run that module four or five times, so I offered to step in so that the event could run as scheduled. This was my first time running the Zak Sabbath "remix" of the module. (The other times I ran the original version, which I have in print.) It was probably the most fun I've had running DFD and the players loved it.

Highlight: Magic-user casts web. I narrate how she contorts and then vomits forth a swarm of spiders that quickly spin the web at unnatural speeds before withering up into dessicated husks. The look on the players' faces was... gratifying.

Black Blade Publishing was at the vendor tables today. I was this close to buying the collector's edition of Metamorphosis Alpha, but it's frickin' $80. (The deluxe collector's edition is $120) Probably too rich for my blood considering how cheap the PDF or even the POD from Lulu versions are, or the fact that I can run Metamorphosis Alpha using the Mutant Future rules.

I'm not signed up to play or run anything tomorrow, because usually on Sundays we bail early in the morning. I'm pretty amped up right now from my DFD game, but I think there's probably a 75% chance that I'll be ready to bounce in the morning. I might run back tomorrow and maybe pick up a Dungeon Crawl Classics module. I want to give money to Black Blade. I kind of wanted to watch a Fate Core game that's running tomorrow so that I can actually grok Fate Core, but the forces of exhaustion and sloth will probably triumph in the end.

Also, I'm kind of losing my voice.

My attendance at tomorrow's D&D game down at the FLGS is probably 50-50 at best. I'll make every endeavor since I haven't missed a session yet. Maybe I can be fashionably late...

Game on, fellow bloggers.

Friday, July 24, 2015

KantCon: T-Minus 30 Minutes

I'm at KantCon getting ready to run my Starships & Spacemen module. I've basically made it a personal tradition to run S&S at this con every year, following the continued adventures of the CSS Armiger and it's intrepid (?) crew.

The DCC event I was going to play in was cancelled, which irks me because I've been lugging around the heavy-ass DCC rule book in my bag. I'm going to offer to run Tower of the Stargazer for those who now find themselves without an afternoon game. This evening I'll be playing White Star and I'm pretty psyched about it.

Last night, I it up the Half Price Books in Overland Park and found the Creature Catalog for basic D&D (Cyclopedia era). I haven't had much of a chance to dig in but it looks pretty sweet so far. I'm particularly taken with the idea of the Gray Philosopher.

Anyway, time for some last minute over-prep.

Love me KantCon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shade Isle Campaign, 7/19

One of our longtime hirelings, Sven, decided that the adventuring life wasn't for him and asked to be a household steward or similar position. We gladly obliged, considering that at our level, the lifespan of a 0-level man-at-arms is...bleak.

We once again started a brawl with a high level spellcaster. We lucked out and killed him, but it could've easily been the end of the party. Henrik took a catastrophic 6 damage, more damage than he's taken the entire campaign thus far.

Shade Abbey continues to be quite the rabbit hole, with levels going farther down than I ever expected. I think we're just getting started.

Henrik's newest invention, the Tom-E, has been successful so far. It's basically a clockwork grabby-arm that the party can use to open chests and doors as well as to manipulate objects without undue risk to the party. The handle is encased in rubber. Henrik named it after Tommy, our gnome expert NPC party member who died when he ran afoul of an electrical trap.

Henrik's other new invention, which presently lacks a formal name, is essentially a narcotic bomb. It's essentially just a new type of ammunition for the Fist of Bjornstrond (our gauntlet grenade launcher.)

I will have to be drastically late or miss the next session, as I will be newly returned from KantCon and likely sleep deprived and insane. (Of course, when I have students again this fall, that will go back to being my default state of existence...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Game Flavor Part II: Initial Ideas

The land is called Albadia. To the northwest across the sea is Sarasana. To the south across a straight is a mighty empire called Olam.

-The PCs start in a small frontier fort/village called Agrama.
-There is a city called Qalam that is a center of learning. Schools of wizardry and alchemy are here, as well as more mundane centers of knowledge.
-There is a large trade/port city, Maruk, also called the Crown Jewel of Albadia.

There are many different religions in Albadia. While the faith of Samadala is the most widespread among the urban centers and the ruling class, ideas are all tolerated so long as their adherents do not try to harm Samadala adherents or the authorities.

-The Old Way: An ancient religion stretching back to the days of nomad tribes. The Old Way pays tribute to the land, the sea, and the sky. The priests, called kahin, use the druid class. They acknowledge and honor the Four Elemental Lords, but do not worship them per se.   

The Four Elemental Lords are beings of incredible power, gods for all intents and purposes. They rule the elements of the land. Each has a physical phenomena that is manifest permanently in the world of men. 

The Lord of Flames: Agni Atar, whose avatar is the Everburning Columns of Flame
The Lord of the Sea: Apam Napat, whose avatar is the Eye of the Sea, a massive permanent maelstrom.  
The Lord of Wind: Vata, whose avatar is the Crossroads of the Four Winds. 
The Lady of the Sand: Zam-Armatay, whose avatar is the Heart of Living Sand. 

-Ormasdism: A dualistic religion that focuses on the struggle between two brother deities, Ormasd (benevolent) and Ahriman (malevolent.) The religion recognizes Zurvan, their neutral father, but he is not involved in mankind's affairs and is not worshiped.  

-Samadala: A monotheistic faith that posits one supreme deity, Samad. Some sects recognize the other deities, but considers them to be lesser celestial beings or demons, unworthy of worship. Samadala recognizes Kismet, Fate incarnate, as being the one who executes Samad's will.

-Sahilism: This religion recognizes gods, but does not worship them. Rather, this religion focuses on perfection of the mortal self: mind, body, and spirit. The Sahili believe that the most devout can transcend the limitations of mortality and physicality. There are no "clerics" of the Sahili tradition, though the monk class represents orders dedicated to the Sahilist doctrine of self-perfection.

-Temple of Ten Thousand Gods: A radical split from Samadala, the Ten Thousand believe that all deities are facets of Samad, even foreign deities. They recognize Kismet as a separate entity, though one who is the prime servant of Samad.

...damn, there I go with top down again. Time to focus on Agrama and its inhabitants and surroundings. On to the next post!

Edit: A few design notes!

1. Albadia is more Middle Eastern. Sarasana is more India/Nepal. Olam is more Ethiopia.
2. Elemental Lord names pillaged from old Iranian mythology.
3. Ormasdism is pretty much Zoroastrianism.
4. Sahili is like Buddhism, with more punching and a slightly more material look on things.
5. Temple of 10k gods ripped off entirely from Al-Qadim. 

Flavoring My Game

With my D&D 5th edition game coming up fast, I've been toying around with setting ideas. I plan to be a little bit more bottom-up in my design than I usually am, if only because it seems that my last several attempts at starting a fantasy campaign have been false starts, leaving me with a lot of wasted time and effort.

I'm feeling a mashup of Arabia, Persia, various parts of northern Africa, and a little India. I'm looking mostly for flavor, rather than attempting to be historically accurate. (It is a fantasy game, after all) I'm thinking a mashup much like how the default D&D setting is a mashup of various European cultures.

I've spent this morning and yesterday reading Al-Qadim source books from good ol' 2nd edition. I was at first tempted to use Al-Qadim whole cloth, but I've since decided to take bits and pieces and generally use it as inspiration. I also plan to raid Spears of the Dawn (because I love me some Kevin Crawford)

Blast it, I'm already doing top-down. I think I'm going to back off and define one large city or perhaps fortress that will serve as a starting point for the campaign.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rifts and Bypassing the Map

I ran Rifts again for my Thursday night group earlier this evening. 
Our posse, who descended into the labyrinth of tunnels under Madhaven, had come across the ruins of an alien power suit. The suit was guarded by a seemingly endless legion of drones. The PCs spent most of the session trying to retrieve the suit, (which they did) and proceeded back to the surface to travel overland over everything I had so carefully mapped out. 

Luckily, I'm good with improv.

We left the session with our posse finding their lost equipment cache, finding various vehicles and animal companions, and they finally have a chance to rest and regenerate. (Nearly e'erbody in the party can regenerate. Rifts, yo.) 

Yeah, they passed all the stuff I wrote... but I can write more stuff. 

On other news, I think I've grokked enough of 5th edition to give it a go. My wife really wants to play, so I think I'm going to alternate Fate with a D&D 5 game. A bit much for my plate, but Rifts ends for the summer in a few weeks. This kind of marathon gaming is only possible during my summers off. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shade Isle Campaign, 7/5

Man, we got a lot done tonight.

-Killed the Patriarch of the evil death cult

-Killed the wizard making elemental crystals for said death cult

-Seized the evil book of evilness that the cult had in their tower

-Destroyed giant soul-sucking apparatus the death cult had, plus collapsed part of the dungeon

-Lost a long time hireling to energy-draining phantoms. :/

One of our noobs tried to charm the evil wizard, and hopefully the player learned a lesson. The resulting lightning bolt was very nearly a TPK. (Though my character remained undamaged, as he is cowardly and clever) 

Looking forward to the next session. Unrelated, I picked up Van Richten's Guide toWerebeasts for three bucks.

Game on!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hitting the Town in Madhaven

We had another night of my summer Rifts game tonight. One player was a no show, but the other two managed to have some adventures nonetheless. Highlights:

*The party was nearly wiped out by a Devil Kraken using Ocean Magic, but managed to escape using the Lemurians' aquatic mount and some clever maneuvering. They were unable to salvage the Horune ship it was attacking, got pulled down into the whirlpool. 
*The party met a crazy hermited elemental fusionist who told them about the Mighty Lady on the shaman island and the entrances to the undercity. He also told them that the necromancer they previously faced is not the only one in the city, and to be wary of any wizards found deep in the city. (His own person apparently excluded)
*The party found the remains of a suit of alien power armor, origin unknown. The Malvoran wants to attempt to meld himself into it.

So now it seems that the PCs have a more personal stake in Madhaven: the Malvoran has beef with the Horune for selling his people to the Splugorth, and the Lemurians are ancestral enemies of both the Horune and the Splugorth.

This campaign is turning out to be far more interesting than I imagined it would be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gods = Kaiju

Clerical orders don't venerate deities, they work to keep them trapped.

Clerics don't pray for spells, they mentally steal energy from the deity to power their spells and keep the deity weak.Clerics typically do not share their deity's alignment, goals, or beliefs.

If a deity wakes up, it comes out of the sea or descends from space, stomping all the cities in their path and breathing fire and acid all over the place.

Sometimes, clerics will wake up their deity to fight off a rampaging rival....but sometimes that does almost as much damage as it does help the situation.

Some gods are mechanical, or bio-mechanical.

Mind. Blown.

KantCon, Year 4 Schedule

I will be attending KantCon in a few weeks. I signed up for my badge and submitted my first event today. I'm pretty excited about my itinerary:

Friday: I'm running Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition in the morning, then in the afternoon playing Dungeon Crawl Classics and then White Star in the evening.

Saturday: Starting off with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, followed by Eden's Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. I don't know what I'm doing in the evening, but I plan to submit a game for that time slot.

Sunday: I haven't planned anything because I usually punk out, much to my own chagrin.

I'm probably skipping out on my usual two local cons. I'm just not feeling it this year, though one of them is offering a gameroom-only membership that I might change my mind on.

Coming up this week: Rifts, FateCore, and John's D&D game.