I really don't have anything to say about this other than good luck trying to move a guy made out of sand without loosing any parts. A true resurrection spell is in his future. That or a character reroll if the party can't (or won't) scrape together the funds for it.
Art from GIS for sandscupltures and really there's a crapton of them
Not every boss battle has to be about combat. Some of them can be about other things. And it can really throw you players for a loop if they're expecting combat. "We buff up and charge in!" "The final battle begins! Dance off for the fate of the universe!" "Wtf?!"
Gnomes. Loved. Hated. Nothing in between. Such is life for our tiny big-nosed prankster friends. They only prank you because they care. About your unending suffering at the hands of a thousand tiny practical jokes. Mwa ha ha ha.
Players tend to expect things. When they start expecting thrones, especially ones belonging to npcs, you need to have a sit down dragged out talk with them. If that doesn't work, convert to brawling forthwith.
Commoners beware! The kobolds are infesting the janitorial staff. I've always wondered about kobolds. They're like the picked on kid of the D&D universe. Them and goblins. Of course having them in a more modern setting would lead to all sorts of interesting conundrums. Likely they'd be subjugated like they always are but instead of cannon fodder they'd be janitors and garbagemen and all the other lowly jobs no one else wants to do. Hooray for inherent systematic racism!
In 3.5 D&D there are these wonderful things called templates. They allow for such craziness as flying pigs, ghostly gelatinous cubes, and all other manner of bizarre monstrosities. Before I found out about templates I would just do silly things like fire pigs out of catapults or ballistas. There was also the time they were on strings.
Epic is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes literally. Not so much when you're facing down an entire undead army. A great way to let your players know that they have arrived is the quality of the enemies they face. Fighting bandits and rats puts them near the bottom of the food chain, even if they never see much else. It's when they move on up to monsters and opponents that are threats to entire nations that they can say they've become big heroes. Now this isn't the be and end all of epic, but it's certainly one of its parts. Until next time.
I entirely like this picture. It's like a visual aid that you could whip out for an amazing RPG session. But it would take way too much work to do something like this all the time, which runs right into the point. You have to leave room for the player's imagination in your descriptions. Leave no doubt about the major points but give hints as to what else may be in the area. This is the essence of efficient descripting.
Look! A distraction! That should keep you from realizing I haven't updated in nearly a week. Sadly I don't have a sexy lady to distract you from my dragon of lack of updates but it will have to suffice. So here's a poster and some quotes.
And now for something very much the same.
* Dahmpir rolls: d20+21 => 20 + 21 = 41
Clementine: (( nice ))
Steely Dan: (( you are totally invisible ))
Clementine: (( Myko loses sight of himself. ))
LooneyDM: (( my poor bugbear helpers ))
Helena: (( delicious HAMBURGER HELPER ))
Nelven: (( hel is really attached to her bitches ))
Helena: (( MY BABIES ))
Nelven: (( XD ))
Atargatis: (( My giant hulking animated chunks of armor! ))
Helena: (( I should rename them SexyBaby and CrazyBaby ))
Dahmpir: (( imma bite him ))
* Dahmpir rolls: d20+12 => 1 + 12 = 13
Helena: (( good god ))
Dahmpir: (( good god leoTard!! ))
Helena: (( I am sorry Dahmpir, but this bot, she don't like you ))
Atargatis: (( This bot is a cruel mistress ))
Dahmpir: (( soooo i bite....myself... ))
Atargatis: (( I see what you're going for with leotard, but you know that's an article of clothing, right? ))
* Steely Dan chops off the dead bugbear leader's head
Steely Dan: "Righ' so... this isna gonna fit in mah kilt"
Atargatis: (( You really made it far while we weren't paying attention ))
* Steely Dan sits down and plays cards with acorn while waiting
Steely Dan: (( you guys are slooooooow ))
LooneyDM: The benches and planks lift steely off the ground in a bizarre clavacade of interlocking wood. It smushes down to smaller than feegle size.
Steely Dan: (( HE HEARS ALL YOUR HEARTS BEATING ))
Steely Dan: (( and also that fart you tried to do really quietly ))
Steely Dan: this movie doesn't really make sense
Clementine: ...What's a ... movie?
Steely Dan: (( THAT WAS OOC ))
Steely Dan: (( CRAP ))
Atargatis: (( What do you guys think - Pies? We can roast the seeds... we could also probably make some great pumpkin soup ))
Steely Dan: (( sure but "Oh no. He has been captured." does not sound like the little dragon cares ))
Steely Dan: (( I AM SUSPICIOUS ))
LooneyDM: (( should I have had him go OH NOES! TEH HORRORS! OUR LEADERS HAS BEEN CAPENTURED! ))
Steely Dan: (( YES YOU SHOULD HAVE ))
Steely Dan: (( little dragons should absolutely use lolspeak ))
Atargatis: (( Uh, that was OOC ))
Atargatis: (( Atargatis is not happy about kidnappings ))
Atargatis: (( Dragonnappings ))
Clementine: (( the dragons are sleeping? ))
Atargatis: (( We're totally getting manipulated by somebody. ))
Steely Dan: (( yes and he's sitting RIGHT OVER THERE *points at looney* ))
LooneyDM: (( well that's a given ))
LooneyGM: Last time our heroes fought a massive pumpkin. What it was doing underground nobody knows
Atargatis: (( ...Finding its roots? ))
Atargatis: "So why don't we go find out? We take the bugbear head and try to get passage to the queen. If this doesn't work, we just kill them all. If we an't get the queen to release the fairy dragon, we kill them all. If we find out they're working with the undead, we kill them all."
Atargatis: "I think this plan suits everyone's needs."
Helena: "Disturbingly high probability of genocide. Sounds like a party."
Atargatis: (( Please stop talking about whatever weird rape porn game you are talking about. I am trying to be heroic and dramatic here! ))
No more talking about F.A.T.A.L. around Atargatis.
I have at times succumbed to the lure of videogames when I should be prepping for games. Rarely, but more frequently of late. I blame this particular game. It's called Torchlight. I really should not get so into this game, but it's so fun. Thankfully I've got everything planned out for one of my games until the end of the campaign.
If there's one thing I've found about the internet it's that it is difficult to get a good group together permanently. People have to go places, people have other stuff they want to do, people have real life engagements. The biggest problem I've run into is getting a group together that meshes well in playstyle expectations. That and finding a DM to run. I run two games a week, and play about once every other week due to the schedule of my one game. Thankfully the players are all good. But there are days that I wish I could play more, and not just in pick up groups I've not played with before. Oh well. I don't feel like contorting that much.
If you don't shoot the mage first, you've got no one to blame but yourself when she summons another demon after you kill the first. Really it's a time honored tradition. The heavy armored dude in front isn't the problem in the fight. It's the mage behind him. Usually the mage is dropping buffs as well which makes for double the fun. Either way, shoot the mage (or medic) first. It'll save you trouble in the long run.
Nose Ring. Nothing says badass like that. Or says image problems. Especially when its a giant eagle with a nose ring. I mean how does that even work? Puncture straight through the beak? That can't be safe, sanitary or even remotely sensible. The other question is, who did it? The eagle clearly couldn't since it has no hands. Perhaps a wizard did it. Now I have images of a wizard running a piercing and tattoo parlor for monsters who want that special tough look to intimidate adventurers.
Picture is unrelated. Sorta. My sky pirates campaign rolled out on Wednesday. I'm using the Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies setting with the PDQ# rules. One of the specified points of character creation is a character's motivation. Yeah yeah, I know a character is supposed to have a motivation regardless but the way it works into this game is straight up brilliant. Motivation is a game mechanic that can take hits, which in turn generates story hooks. The really lovely part I like as a GM is that all my players have written up what amounts to a one line description of a point that interests their character in world. It makes my job so much easier when I can throw together a convoluted mess that hits on all the characters motivations to bring them together rather than relying on their metagame senses to accept each other in game.
Additionally the rules lighter system means I can consider the plot and story points and not prep enemies until 30 minutes before game. That alone is a massive time saver.
Going back to the fire and colors theme here. Mostly because I found some awesome picture of aurora borealis on the web. Nothing says pyrotechnics like a sky full of amazing colors. Which is also what you get when the cleric casts flame strike. Praise be to Kossuth!
Mr Killer here has found a brand new suit. Recently removed from the body of whomever he left dead in the next room. This is something you need to watch out for when switching genres. The players being used to needing those phat lewtz start looting dead bodies at the scene of crimes, when they should be using it as clues for evidence. Such is the pitfall of switching genres. The only thing to be done is create a situation where the extra loot simply doesn't help. Systems that aren't quite so item dependent for character power can be lifesavers in this regard. This is of course assuming that you can get your players to agree to those systems.
Cookie Monster barbarian. Take a moment for that to sink in. Cookie Monster barbarian. You are now incredibly terrified of the player that would make such a concept or think they have come up with the most awesome idea ever. One way or the other you can easily identify your GMing style.
I recently finished up the monstergame campaign I was running. The quote on the poster sums up my learning experience nicely. The group I ran this monstergame for optimizes a lot more than my saturday group. Which just means I'll have to run a tighter ship if I want to run for them again. Wednesday group blows the CR system out of the water even when they're only using tier 3 classes. As contrasted with saturday group whom I can tell, make a gestalt character using any and all sources and I'll still end up with a group who can be challenged by a smartly played CR relevant encounter. Such is life.
Now that monstergame is done I've been requested to run a sky pirates game. Sky Pirates will be replacing monstergame on wednesdays. I'll be switching gears away from D&D to run Sky Pirates with the PDQ# system. This should lower my mechanical workload. I will definitely need the lowered workload as the group assembling for Sky Pirates is promising to be even crazier than the group I have saturday night. I'm merely hoping to keep them from turning their first airship trip into a flying circus before the end of the first play session. After that, all bets are off.
Last set of quotes from monstergame:
Heikon: (( Oh snap, Frightful Moan ))
Onotole: (( Just don't moan when next to the succubus ))
Moastuo: (( aye, one lesbian is enough ))
Moastuo: (( are you trying to seduce me? ))
Onotole: (( Please don't seduce him ))
LooneyDM: There's a soft thud and something drops onto the jail floor.
Onotole: (( Ew, he pooped ))
Onotole: "I wonder if we could bottle the acid somehow."
LooneyDM: (( if only you had some vials ))
Onotole: (( This is a wizard's tower. We should have ALL the vials. ))
Mallexantus: (( The party is vial, evil and unrepentant. ))
LooneyDM: (( alright, let's roll ))
Mallexantus: « 1d20 = 11 »
* Moastuo rolls: 1d20 => 15
* Onotole rolls: 1d20 => 2
Mallexantus: "I am Mallexantus, Kyton of Jangling Hiter, bound by the old wizard to act as his jailer until his death freed me."
Moastuo: (( is it bad that I'm misreading that as jangling hitler? ))
Onotole: (( I always do. ))
Mallexantus: (( nope, everyone does. ))
Onotole: (( Mallexantus having a moustache makes him even better. ))
All the spell casting classes in D&D have their iconic spells. The wizard has fireball and magic missile. The cleric has cure wounds and turn undead (yeah yeah I know, not technically a spell). The druid has call lightning. Nothing quite says "Why yes nature is my mother and she's exceptionally displeased with you right now" more than one of the most concentrated destructive displays of nature's power directed at your person. Be afraid, for druids can make lightning strike twice. Or even more.
Yes, I'm aware of the typo. I'm too lazy to fix it.
Do you feel that burning sensation? Creeping up from inside you until it consumes your entire body? Yes. That's why you don't mess with the pyromancer. Especially not the female pyromancer. Really, why does anyone every think it's a good idea to mess with the pyromancer. It is however, a wonderful way to get burned.
There's been a switch at the saturday morning game. We've mostly all rolled new characters and Cecilia has taken over as DM. Thus all incoming quotes where it says DM it means Cecilia. Our regular DM is playing the character named Gareth. Other switches
Goldielocks = Akuma
Tirah = Tsoria
Vimac = Ying Z
Ying Z: My character wants to hide under the bed.
Tsoria: Put on your big girl panties and let's go.
DM: Huge stone buttresses.
Gareth: heh heh, she said butt.
DM: The fog is very thick and everywhere.
Gareth: Can I cut it with a knife?
DM: I'm not going to have a skill challenge for you to bury the guy.
Ying Z: The gypsies are probably down by the river.
Looney & Tsoria: In a van!
Ying Z: Someone is in trouble, run away!
Akuma: I probe the gypsies.
DM: They ignore you.
Gareth: I'd ignore you too if a crystal alien was probing me.
Gareth: I was going to say "Put away your sword or you'll have a hammer in your skull."
DM: That would be diplomacy.
Gareth: I use athletics to flex and indimidate him. *rolls a 19* Welcome to the gun show!
Tsoria: Put those away honey.
Kiju: Your wife is dazed and knocked prone.
DM: He locks up your sword.
Gareth: That will be hard because I'm using a hammer.
Ying Z: We'll sleep, fetch Araynay, mount our horses
Gareth: I don't want to know what you do with your horse.
DM: This is about mood so I have to draw the map so you can fiddle with the bits.
Looney: If you can't fiddle your bits it's not old school D&D.
DM: I'll draw the stairs with an arrow showing which way you can go.
Gareth: You can only go one way on the stairs?
Kiju: I open the door and peek through, what do I see?
Gareth: You see us walk through the door.
Gareth: You're stealthy and we're the distraction.
Akuma: 6:06, that's off by an hour (note: it was 10:45)
Ying Z: The last fight damaged my character's psyche so much that she's now recklessly stupid.
Looney: I see (standing in a cloud of darkness)
Akuma: Actually you don't.
Kiju: Save the ranger.
Gareth: Save the world.
Kiju: You guys are married now. Consummate!
Tsoria: Ying Z always rolls more dice than anyone else.
Ying Z: I build my characters that way on purpose.
Gareth: Roll better, shake it more!
Tsoria: Do we get a synergy bonus since we're married.
Looney: You failed your save against ongoing stupidity.
Gareth: The new name for your Everburning torch is Everbursting torch.
It's the truth. You can never have too many dice. And when you're Wil Wheaton you can ask everyone to help you acquire more. It's one of the amazing things you can do with a horde of geek fans. There are many other things you can do with a horde of geek fans but those will be discussed at a later date.
I know this is late to the party, but it's still worth the joke. I know I've commented on it in my games before. Especially when people are wondering what the gender of a humaniod is. Just look at the mini. If it has frontal lobes then its totally a female. Inescapable D&D logic right there.
Is your tank asking for ranged options? Is your bard feeling the blues? Have no fear, the magic item guide has your answer. Potion of Fire breathing! Rather than some half assed bow you can gran your tank a classy ranged weapon that really says "I'm the life of the party" rather than "plink plink plink". Your bard can stylize his performance with a real explosive ending. They're good for everyone! Imagine the enemies surprise when the entire party opens up with fire breathing. They'll know for certain that a good 16d6 fire damage hit them right where it hurt! Buy your potions today! Supplies limited so act now. Only 500 gp!*
This week I've had a burning passion to make posters about fire. Today's poster gives you a heads up on why the pyromancer should no longer be invited to barbecues. Open flame and pyromancers never mixes well. At least for everyone else. The pyromancer would say that everything went burningly wonderful. I think I need a book of pyromancer euphemisms. Stuff along the lines of "By the flames!" or "Prepare for fiery doom!" or "I've got a burning sensation!" It would be a tool for players every where, even if they weren't playing a pyromaniac.
I'll see how long I can keep up this fire theme so expect continued burning into next week with a light chance of raining ash.
Setting things on fire. One of the humble pasttimes of RPG characters everywhere. What is it about fire than entrances us so? Is it the primal fascination with something so unlike anything else occurring in nature that draws us in? The hypnotic motion of the flicker light? The fact that it emits light so close to us? I assume we do it for the pretty colors. Same goes for explosions.
There's something to be said for non-complex games. And then people have to go doing crazy things like adding more complexity to games like rock paper scissors. Wasn't the original good enough for you? Did you have to mess it up so much with all those house rules that while technically balanced are nigh impossible to remember? I get this way about people adding massive amounts of homebrew to simple rpgs as well. It just doesn't make any sense!
On my opinion of rules complexity: I feel one should have as much complexity as you need to appropriately model the playstyle of the genre. For example, any version of D&D has too many rules for a swashbuckling game. They're simply too complex to encourage the style of play the exemplifies swashbuckling games. Contrary-wise, D&D of any version simply doesn't have enough rules to accomplish what Exalted or Rifts expect from their genre's.
Rescue quests are a staple of fantasy gaming and RPGs in general. This cliche trope exists in nearly every D&D campaign that has been run. This doesn't stop an enterprising DM from changing things up to play off the assumptions of the players for everyone's amusement. Like having the princess be quite happy to be out of her stuffy home and having fun painting up the dragon. If you're stuck for ideas I recommend "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O Henry.
Plane shift is a lovely way to start a campaign. Or end one. Which reminds me. One of my saturday games shifted to ravenloft. There was much rejoicing. *muted yay*. The immediate upside is that our regular DM is hilarious as a player, especially when he bounces comments off either his wife or another player he's been playing D&D with forever. The other upside is our stand in DM likes us to play at higher levels so we're mid paragon (4e stuff) tier for this one shot into ravenloft. After that it's another plane shift to dark sun! Bring on the starvation, dehydration, and cannibalism!
DM: You have to use your imagination.
Goldielocks: But that's what you're here for.
Vimac: I'll go with victorious surge.
DM: To victory, and beyond!
M: Anyone want to commit suicide?
Goldielocks: I'm good at that.
DM: You cross a bridge over the river.
Vimac: The river Kwai?
DM: They introduce you to the talking chief.
Goldielocks: The talking sheep?
DM: Good conjuring trick.
Tirah: I am divine
Cecilia: I'm using this pencil because I can take out both Green Lanterns with it.
DM: A corroded bronze tube.
DM: It looks like the metal tube was used as a megaphone.
Cecilia: I announce 'all your base are belong to us'.
DM: One of the greyhawk deities has six shooters from the wild west.
We've all had that new player. Whether they arrive of their own volition or dragged by a friend they happen to all DMs. One player who simply doesn't get it and makes honest mistakes to the amusement of all the others at the table. You have to keep your amusement to yourself though or they may not come back. That's one variety.
Occasionally you get the ones who are intentionally obtuse for the straight up enjoyment of the rest of the group. These players should be treasured. Until they become annoying. Then they should be whacked with a nerf bat until they fall back in line, for the moment. Eventually they'll creep back into the spotlight with unignorable crazy antics.
Ever wish you had a secret lair? Ever wish you had a theme song to go with that secret lair? I sure do. Seeing Jonathan Coulton at PAX got me thinking about evil lairs and hideouts. Even if I wasn't evil I think I'd want one. After all you get to hide stuff in them and have secrets. Secret passages! Also plenty of room to have one of those big world maps to plot world domination. Or play wargames. To stick with the theme here's quotes from the monster game I DM. They're fairly evil and getting worse every session.
Soban: (( Which we heroically rescued... Most of ))
Moastuo: (( "heroically" ))
* Moastuo has apparently taken the wrong portal and ended up in a senate chamber or something, what with all the voting and debate.
Onotole: (( Tell Lilith about the rod >:C ))
Heikon: (( We should just get together and award Lilith Knowledge: The Rod. ))
I had some downtime this weekend as I traveled to the far off land of Seattle to go to PAX. Much fun was had by all participants. Things of note. Saw Paul and Storm for the first time in concert. I may have a new favorite band. Played many board games and video games with all my friends. One very important item I learned this weekend. WotC's official Dungeon Delves are horrible ways to have people learn 4e. Hands down the worst teaching experience I've ever seen. To be fair I'm sure the DM was used to people trying to power through the delve and it appeared that his table was close to a booth where they were getting people to yell for swag. That said, our two rogues were killed before the hour was up (one of which's player had never played any RPG before), the cleric was dragged off by an at-will stun monster, one fighter was nearly dead, the other was hiding in the corner, and the wizard (myself) was pissed due to not finding out earlier that a bridge we were crossing was 30 feet over a ravine thus making my slide power incredibly useful. I did drop an enemy or two off, but it wasn't enough to save us.
So yeah. Delves are a crappy way to learn 4e. Also way to go WotC putting all the learning delves during the big panels and not running any in the middle of the day when we had some time. Doubly way to go because they then cancelled the learning delves on Sunday.
Magic items are magical. Thus like the hat of disguise they should take whatever form the wearer desires to best express their form or function. In this case a business suit suffices. Not exactly what you'd expect for a cloak of fire resistance now is it? However it speak wonderfully of the style of the game. It reminds me a little of The Tuxedo, which was a decent Jackie Chan movie other than Jennifer love hewitt who clearly has none of the capabilities necessary to co star in a Jackie Chan movie.
Thinking about all the long lived races in D&D, it makes me wonder why you don't see more of them taking humans and demi humans as familiars. After all they could have class levels to make them a potent threat rather than an xp sinkhole. Also opposable thumbs. Don't underestimate the use of opposable thumbs. Cats don't have them, lizards and bats don't have them, demi humans do. Enough said.