Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rifts: Session Three

Work this week has been incredibly exhausting, so this update is later than intended.

Though another relatively short session, session three was no less exciting than the first two.

The party, searching for their Coalition foes, walked into an ambush. Fortunately, they were able to fight their way out, destroying all of the attacking Coalition soldiers as well as the SAMAS harrying them from the sky.

After the ambush, the characters were approached by a wolfen in a jet pack. The wolfen requested a meeting between the characters and his master. After some questioning, the characters agreed. The meeting was to take place at the nexus point in the ruined city the following night at midnight.

Next time: Who is the wolfen's master? Will the meeting be an opportunity for adventure or an ambush? And the Coalition forces have now been defeated by the party on three occasions now... will they retreat back into Coalition territory or attack in force?

Session Two
Session One
Introduction

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Computer RPGs

While I have stayed away from computer RPGs recently (still playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from time to time). However, a few old favorites have popped up on the radar: Fallout and Diablo, each with its third installment.

The release date for Diablo 3 has yet to be announced, but Fallout 3 should hit stores next month! Conveniently, it should hit store shelves exactly three days before my birthday...

Both look like a great time for those of us who refuse to pay monthly for great RPGs!


Rifts: Session Two

The second session was not quite the fun that the first session was, partially because the party took a wild turn off of the course I expected them to follow and partially because we were rushed for time. Unfortunately, my school's open house was rescheduled, and the new time fell right in the middle of game night... how irritating...

In any case, we still managed to get in about an hour and a half of play. The players immediately discussed going after the Coalition recon team, but decided against the idea once they saw the picture of the armored personnel carrier that the Coalition forces had been using as a mobile base camp. Instead, they decided that they should go after the warlock marines. What they didn't realize was that the Coalition forces would have proven to be a much more evenly matched fight, especially if the party continued with their previous strategy of isolating members of the unit and killing them one by one.

Fighting the warlock marines was a disaster, culminating in a hasty retreat before the end of the first melee round. Even with damaged armor and equipment, the marines were more than a match for the party. I judged that the marines' flight capabilities had been hindered by the repairs, so when the party sped away, the marines took shots until they were out of range but did not pursue. Unfortunately, the party has just made two very strong enemies.

During Session Two, the party:
  • battled and retreated from two warlock marines
  • was approached by a Naruni arms dealer, who identified them as opponents of the Coalition and offered them discounted merchandise
  • purchased several new weapons and items from Naruni Enterprises, accumulating a 44 million credit debt
  • battled and defeated a gargoyle with their new Naruni weaponry
I had fully intended to introduce the party to a Naruni Enterprises dealer at some point in the future (after they defeated the whole Coalition recon team), but I decided that they should not be completely defenseless against the warlock marines should I decide to let them get a shot at revenge. Now that they are better equipped, I can safely throw more than a couple Coalition soldiers at them at once without expecting a TPK.

Next time...
Will the Coalition forces track the PCs down? Will the warlock marines come looking for revenge? Was that gargoyle just a random encounter or a scout for a larger force? Will the party repay their debt to Naruni Enterprises before the repo-bots come calling? Will Ghost make another appearance? Could Ghost be a potential ally now that the characters have attacked the warlock marines?

Session One
Introduction

Sunday, September 21, 2008

D&D: Ways to Improve Tiny Adventures

I can't believe I'm playing this game so much, but it has me hooked. There is just something about the simplicity of sending a hero off to adventure and reading about his exploits when he returns. I now keep a separate tab open in Firefox whenever I am online, and I switch over when I hear the little chime that rings each time my adventurer has completed another event. Despite the simplicity, I am hooked.

However, despite my addiction, the game could be improved drastically. A few suggestions follow...

More choices: I would much prefer a "choose your own adventure" style game, even if there are only a few choices per adventure. More interactivity is always a good thing.
More choice in character development: As of right now, there aren't any choices beyond inventory control. Even choosing my own stat bonuses would be an improvement.
More ways to interact with friends: D&D is a social game that focuses on team play... somehow, buffing every now and then just doesn't satisfy that need for me. Even meta-adventure activities would be a nice addition, such as trading magical items or donating gold.
Give more info on buffing: Buffing your friends is cool, but does it show anywhere exactly how that buffing helped? I'm struggling to find this information. All I am able to locate is a line about how many encounters the character will receive the benefit, but without any information about what those benefits are.

Magic: Revamping for the New Standard

I've been toying around with the following deck list for quite some time, but I haven't even had the time to take it to a local Friday Night Magic tournament. Unfortunately, I have been putting off the tournament scene for so long now that standard will be rotating soon and now I need to rethink the whole idea. Fortunately, the new set (Shards of Alara) will be showing some love for multicolored decks like this one... so perhaps I won't have to make huge sweeping changes.

The basic idea is to take the already respectable treefolk archetype and switch in Pariah for Oblivion Ring. Pariah still functions as pseudo-removal, but combined with a smattering of indestructible creatures can cause havoc for the unprepared opponent.

The deck as of now looks like this:

Lands (24)
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Murmuring Bosk
4 Treetop Village
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
6 Swamp
4 Forest
1 Plains

Creatures (18)
4 Treefolk Harbinger
4 Wall of Roots
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Doran, the Siege Tower
3 Sapling of Colfenor

Other (18)
4 Manamorphose
4 Nameless Inversion
4 Pariah
3 Shield of the Oversoul
3 Damnation

Sideboard (15)
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Cloudthresher
4 Faerie Macabre
3 Krosan Grip

As long as aggressive creature-based strategies remain dominant in standard, the deck should perform reasonably well. I'll wait until the Shards of Alara spoiler is complete before I begin making changes, but a few are obvious. I'm going to need Wrath of God to replace Damnation and some source of mana acceleration to replace Wall of Roots. Only time and tourney results will tell whether I abandon the Pariah + indestructibles combo...

Rifts: Session One

The first session is a blast! I hear nothing but compliments from the players, who have been playing Mass Effect and anticipating Fallout 3 so much that they really got a kick out of some sci-fi action. In the first session, the pcs:

  • learn that the crashed object from the rift is a starship from the United Worlds of Warlock and that there are at least five survivors, four warlock marines and an escaped convict.
  • warn a group of maxparies that a Coalition squad is on its way (giving them time to flee for their lives).
  • defeat a Coalition sky cyclist.
  • defeat a Coalition SAMAS pilot (with some lucky called shots to the head that resulted in being able to sell the armor for a hefty profit to a Black Market dealer in Ironforge).
  • purchase new spells, weapons, armor, and a Big Boss ATV
  • witness the convict kill two of the surviving warlock marines
  • learn that the convict, known only as “Ghost”:
    • is an Invincible Guardsman
    • is able to fly
    • is looking for his rune sword, and that the warlock marines either have it or know of its location
    • traded Coalition equipment for a jet pack in Ironforge

In the end, we all had a good time. We’re all looking forward to Session Two. What will the Coalition deep recon team do now that it has lost several men? Where will Ghost show up next? What monsters will the group encounter as they trek through the wilderness?

Rifts: Introduction

The Rifts campaign started off extremely well. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide whether or not to run the Rifts setting with another rule set (either a d20 Modern/D20 Future/Urban Arcana mix or GURPS), but in the end I just ran with things as printed. My players are D20 veterans and have never played Rifts, so I created characters for them.

The Cast (as of Session One):
  • Drake, a human shifter (played by Eric)
  • Toad, a goblin mind melter (Played by Will)
  • Minos, a minotaur vagabond (Played by Matt)
The following characters were created but not chosen by my players:
  • Stoney, a dwarf techno-wizard
  • Thorn, an elf wilderness scout
Aside: Original names, I know. In our group, character names usually aren’t all that important. We aren’t really into the whole “calling each other by character name” habit that a lot of game groups seem to practice. There are just certain geek-lines that I won’t cross, and this is one of them.

I gave the players only minimal background information, something along the lines of “you are relatively new to Rifts Earth; long enough to pick up some basic skills, knowledge of our base of operations and its surroundings, and little else.” I also added the following tip: “Rifts is unbalanced. There are no challenge ratings or wealth/level guidelines and character level is even an abstract measurement of power than in D&D. Be cautious and don’t be too full of yourself to run away.”

The setting is eastern Tennessee, between Dinosaur Swamp and the Federation of Magic, in the wilderness near a town called Ironforge (my creation). The campaign begins with the following event:
You are camping for the evening on your way back to Ironforge. You can see in the distance a towering ley line nexus glowing light blue. Suddenly, a surge of blue-white energy leaps toward the sky and a dimensional rift opens above the nexus. Something streaks out of the rift, leaving a trail of flame as it streaks across the sky. The object crashes somewhere in the distance, sending a cloud of debris and flame into the air.


Finally Blogging

It has been several weeks (that have seemed like an eternity, I might add) since I created this blog over on WordPress. Now, with the first free weekend that I have had in a month or more, I am finally finding the time to write, and I spent half the time searching for a new blogging service! I could explain why I switched, but I'll save that for some other time...


Before I continue, I should probably introduce myself to anyone out there who may start reading this. My name is Josh. I’m a teacher and an avid gamer. This blog will focus on my gaming addiction in hopes of reaching out to others in the world who share some of my interests and beliefs.

Games I am currently hooked on include:
-Rifts (a post apocalyptic RPG) - This game is set in the far future, where magic and technology clash and humanity is competing with dragons, alien intelligences, and dimensional beings of all kinds for survival. The Rifts RPG is far from perfect and is just as unbalanced as the pundits claim, but it is insanely fun. Anyone who loves science fiction and role-playing games should check this out.
-Magic: The Gathering (the ORIGINAL collectible card game) - Magic is the one game that I just don’t get tired of playing. It is not always the most entertaining and sometimes the cost prohibits me from playing as much as I’d like, but if nothing else, Magic is reliable. When I grow tired of other games, Magic remains just as entertaining as ever.
-Dungeons & Dragons (fantasy RPG) - D&D has taken a backseat lately to Rifts, but it is the game that hooked me into role playing when I was just a wee little thing. 4th edition is out and I love many of the ideas behind the new system. Unfortunately, the game just feels stale to me. Perhaps it is that too few supplements have been released and I just don’t feel much depth yet.
-D&D Tiny Adventures (facebook application) - This game is just dumb. It isn’t really much of a game at all, actually, but I enjoy fooling around with it nonetheless. You create a D&D character (but all you choose is race and class). Then, you send him/her on adventures. You get loot, re-equip, visit the shop, and then start over on a more challenging adventure but with better bonuses (due to equipment or leveling). There is almost no interaction at all, and yet I find myself logging in to facebook just to send my little paladin off on adventures. I guess part of the appeal is that I don’t have to do much of anything at all… log in, click an adventure, and come back later for the results. Laziness at its finest…
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