Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Folerol Campaign, The Gully Dwarf Chronicles #2

Bodunk blinked a few times and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He didn't remember falling asleep, and he certainly didn't remember it being this dark, or this itchy. He was lying on a thin bed of hay, atop a cold stone floor. He squinted, trying fruitlessly to see better through the darkness. He stood on shaky legs, stumbling a bit as the feeling of pins and needles let him know the blood was flowing in his feet again. The snap and sizzle of a match being lit behind him had him spinning in a circle and reaching for his hammer. Perhaps worse than his still-asleep legs failing him was the realization as he fell flat on his face that his hammer wasn't there.

A human sized figure stood between him and a candle that it had just lit. Bodunk couldn't make out much at all, except that the figure before him was dressed in a black cloak that hid its body and flowed all the way to the ground, and a hood hung low to conceal its face in the shadows and candlelight. As Bodunk stumbled to his feet again, it spoke in a melodic voice that sounded far too soothing to come from such an ominous figure, "Be at ease. I am not here to harm you."

"Where heroes?" Bodunk asked immediately, wondering why he was here without his companions.

"I'm afraid they are not here, little one," the hooded one purred sweetly. "But you should tell me about them. I would very much like to learn more about these heroes. Where did you meet them?"


  • Bodunk, gully dwarf bloodrager/slayer (me)
  • Anex, human fighter (Jammie)
  • Athok, goliath warpriest (Andrew)
  • Sjach, spellscale bard (Stetson)
  • Hooded One (NPC)

Even though he was wary of talking to this hooded woman, Bodunk's excitement about his hero friends got the better of him, and he started boasting about how they got started on their adventuring careers. "Guardians good hero group. Good jobs for Guardians. Pick one, do it, get gold. Good gold! Heroes find big gem. Big as me!"

The hooded one smiled, though Bodunk couldn't see it. She was certain she had captured the right gully dwarf. As far as she knew, none of the pathetic creatures had the courage to join the Guardians except this one. She let the dwarf go on without interrupting him.

"Good heroes fast. Left without Bodunk. Bodunk run fast! Heroes travel, get attacked, but Bodunk save them. No good heroes if die on way to Kingsport! Kingsport big city. Big tower in the middle. Heroes need find big big gem. Big as me! Big hero Aflack want go shopping. Shop man mad at Aflack."

The hooded one rolled her eyes, another expression the dwarf could not see. After all this time, the idiot still couldn't pronounce Athok's name correctly.

"Heroes find Shineycat in Kingsport. Satch sing! Bodunk talk to Shineycat. Get good deal. Two gold for job, and Shineycat let heroes stay night at Dog-Wolf Bar! Bodunk genie-us! Sleepy time!"

Shineycat? Satch? Dog-Wolf Bar? The dwarf was butchering nearly every name. For a moment, she wondered if anything he said could be trusted, given his stupidity. Still, his description was matching the story she had been told, more or less. She would just have to get used to him getting details wrong as she tried to coax information out of the idiot.

"Dog-Wolf Bar have good breakfast. Dwarf lady eat with heroes. Dwarf lady say Shineycat no good hero. Bodunk mash him! No, Anex say no mash him. Mash later, maybe."

Bodunk stopped for a moment, his face serious. He was staring at the floor and pounding a fist into his open palm, deep in thought about about the idea of mashing "Shineycat." Just before the hooded one prompted him to go on, a goofy grin came over his face and he looked back up.

"Big tower in city middle! Heroes go find big gem! Big as me! Big tower have two guards, two traps," he said, holding up two fingers on each hand. "Two kitties, too!" He looked down at his hands, wondering how he was going to show her how many cats were in the tower without another hand to hold up. After a moment of confusion, he shrugged and continued.
The chuul was actually a fifth lion.

"Big mean kitties! Bodunk try sneak, but Aflack LOUD. Kitties wake up! Kitties hungry! Try eat Bodunk! Bodunk good hero! Bodunk no good breakfast! Bodunk close gate. Gate make good kitty-shield. Bodunk genie-us!"

The hooded one snickered at how animated the dwarf got as he told this part of the story, his arms flailing around as he pantomimed sneaking across a room and slamming a gate behind him. It seemed clear that Bodunk thought he would be eaten by those lions, and his concern for his life didn't stop there. He went on to describe another level of the tower just above the lions. Even if he wasn't giving her any useful information yet, at least his storytelling was amusing.

"Spiky room next. Big spikes! Big wind! Whoooooooosh! Wind make Bodunk hit spikes!"

At this point, Bodunk was hopping around and acting out his story frantically, as if it was still dangerous and he needed to tell it quickly to get to a safe place. He finally described making it through the trapped room with the wind and the spikes, and he plopped down on the floor, exhausted. "Lady, Bodunk thirsty."

"Of course you are, dear," she purred. She motioned back toward the bed of hay where he had been resting, and he noticed a pail of water on the floor beside it.

As Bodunk guzzled the cool water, he heard the woman behind him murmur a few words behind him that he almost recognized. Magic lady? he thought, as his eyes grew heavy again. Then he fell backwards onto the hay, snoring loudly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Folderol Campaign, The Gully Dwarf Chronicles #1

Tomorrow, I'll explain how the first session went, but for today's post I'm focusing on my character. It's kind of an odd topic for Outsyder Gaming because I don't normally spend much time talking about the characters I run. That's partly because I don't get out from behind the screen too often, but it's also because (let's be honest, here) most people don't want to read about them. This character was a little different for me, though, because he ended up such a quirky blend of flavor and optimization that I just have to write about it.
I had forgotten how much fun RPGs can be when you take the focus away from optimizing and just do something fun. When I'm creating characters, I typically start with a concept that has a high power level or a high "cool factor," and go from there. This time, I started with something a little less serious... I wanted to play a gully dwarf, and I wasn't going to let the race's mechanical disadvantages deter me.

Why a gully dwarf? Well, I still have fond memories of playing Sestun. He was a DM-PC that I ran back in middle school, and while he was rather pathetic, he was fun. Yes, I stole his name from the character in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and no, I didn't think it was a big deal at the time. Our party consisted of a Drizzt clone, my gully dwarf rogue, and a dwarf fighter named Gimli. Being innovative wasn't quite on our radar in those days.

But enough about stuff that happened almost twenty years ago. Let's talk about Bodunk. I wanted an incredibly dim-witted character who was convinced that he was a hero, and if things worked out, he might accidentally become one after all. The gully dwarf is the perfect race for such a character, and with so many good memories of running a gully dwarf in the past, I jumped on the idea.

With the Advanced Class Guide just hitting the scene, I knew I wanted to use one of the new hybrid classes as well, since multiclassing has always been one of my favorite aspects of the game. I rolled up Bodunk as a slayer, but I found myself somewhat irritated by a few aspects of the character. Being small really sucks for a melee character... having a lower damage die for your weapons is bothersome, and the decreased movement speed is annoying as well. Even though I initially planned to avoid optimization as much as possible, I just couldn't stomach a melee fighter that was doing something like d6+2 damage and had a movement speed of 15'. I started fooling around with switching to light armor and taking the Fleet feat, but I eventually decided that it wasn't worth the effort.

As I've already mentioned, multiclassing is one of my favorite aspects of the game, and a quick dip in another class could solve all of my problems. Why not? A one level dip in barbarian would fix the speed problem and at least help with damage output... but why settle for one class when you can take a hybrid? Bloodrager gives the same speed and damage increases, plus some other goodies as well... and it inspired me to put in a quirky twist in the character's background to help justify it.

Here's the background for this bloodrager/slayer...

Bodunk is from a long line of proud gully dwarves that lived in the ghettos and sewers of a mighty duergar city. Legend has it that the city was attacked by monsters, and that the gully dwarves were the only ones smart enough to hide. They survived, and resettled the ruins as soon as the monsters moved on.

Living among the abandoned treasures of the duergar city, the gully dwarves thrived. They even managed to accidentally find and figure out how to use some of the more cleverly hidden treasures of the duergar, those items that were not looted by the monsters before they left.

Among these treasures was a trapped djinn vizier, who was forced to grant Bodunk’s great great grandmother three wishes. She wished for a child, and by some twist of fate her wish was worded in such a way that the djinn was forced to father the child himself. Ever since then, members of Bodunk’s family have occasionally exhibited odd traits tied to their elemental bloodline, and other gully dwarves consider them great heroes of the people regardless of how cowardly they might actually be.

Bodunk grew up like most gully dwarves in the old duergar city, scavenging for everything he needed, accumulating as many shiny things as he could, hiding his favorite shiny things for safekeeping, and subsequently forgetting where he hid them. His most cherished items were those he carried on his person at all times, mostly because it was hard to forget about the exquisite duergar breastplate strapped to his chest, or the potions that clink around in his backpack.

On one particularly unsuccessful scavenging run, he ventured outside of the city for food and got lost, as gully dwarves are wont to do. After a few weeks of wandering the underdark, he found himself on the surface, and overheard some children talking about how all true heroes get their start with the Guardians. As a true hero, it only made sense for Bodunk to find these Guardians and lend a hand.

When everything was rolled up, calculated, and recorded on the sheet, I had a character with decently optimized abilities and some really fun quirks as well, such as...
  • A bunch of silly catch phrases, such as "Bodunk genie-us!" (which he says whenever he thinks he did something smart, but has the added irony of referring back to his bloodline)
  • A wand of expeditious retreat (which he can cast because it's on the Bloodrager spell list) that he calls the "quickie stick"
  • A spellbook full of doodles and artwork that he studies every morning (because he thinks he needs to in order to use the magic "quickie stick")
  • A battle cry of "BZZZZZZT!!!!" that he uses whenever he uses his bloodline power to add electricity damage to his attacks
Munchkin? No. Optimized? Sure. Fun? Absolutely.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kickstarter: Decks Miniatures

I've always liked the idea of paper miniatures, but I'm not a big fan of them in practice. Two things keep me from using them regularly:

  • Durability - Yes, you can argue that if they break or tear, you can print more pretty cheaply... but the cost of color ink adds up, and I would rather just purchase something that doesn't break easily to begin with. Pathfinder's pawn series is the only product I've purchased to date that is durable enough for me to invest, and even they fail in the next category.
  • Pic-Friendliness - I try to post pictures from games whenever I can, and paper miniatures just don't look good without taking the time to turn them all toward the camera. 
Decks Miniatures is running a kickstarter right now that might be able to bridge the gap between "real" miniatures and paper miniatures. These are plastic, which should make them much more durable than paper, and they appear 3D enough that they might look decent in pictures without a fuss.

I'm not sure yet if I'll pull the trigger on investing in this product, but I'm intrigued enough to share. I think it's at least worth a look. Check it out here.

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