Sunday, March 30, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #3

Cast:
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John)
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake)
  • Raven's Prey, Human Fighter (Toby)
  • Winter Wind, Half-Elf Cleric (Anna)
Last week, we left off with our heroes staring down a winding hallway. A large marble door that might normally have blocked their path swung open on its own when Thomus approached it with the signet ring Jern gave him. As they entered, Kjell spotted a concealed pressure plate on the floor, and Thomus expertly disabled the trap. They continued, finding two similar pressure plates before they came to another marble door. It opened for them just as the first one did.

On the other side of the second door, they found a pyramid of bones stacked all the way to the ceiling. With only walking room around the sides of this ten foot tower, they searched the area as best they could, finding two clues as to the nature of the room. The first was a small indention on the far wall with a serpent carved into the indention. Thomus also noticed that while the bones themselves weren't unusual, something was missing - skulls, ribs, arms, and vertebrae were plentiful... there seemed to be no legs among the bones. Unfortunately, with no discernible exits to this room, their descent had to end here, and they left the warehouse - making sure to take the charred chest they found with them.

GM's Note: I gave the hint that they probably wouldn't be able to proceed any farther with the knowledge they had at the moment. While I normally would have let them poke and prod around in the room a little longer, we had new recruits waiting to get in on the action...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking a Day Off

The man cave.. which, unfortunately, is not as clean
at the moment as it was when this picture was taken.
I fully intended to spend my day seeing how well my version of Jund Monsters matched up to the competition at the Star City Games Standard Open in Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, after a long week at work and several extremely busy weekends in a row, I don't feel like moving. Instead of driving an hour in the rain to spend the day in fierce competition, I decided to take the day off. Today I'm just going to take it easy... spend as much time as I can locked away in the man cave doing whatever I want at a very relaxed pace. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be productive.

Things on today's "To Do" list include...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rifts Done Right?

A few days ago, my buddy Quim sent me a link with just one line of text: "Rifts done right." I saw the message while I was at work and forgot about it by the time the workday ended, but today I remembered and went to check it out. I post kickstarters that intrigue me from time to time, but this is the first in a while that is just screaming for Rifts fans like to snatch it up. This has a lot of promise, and comes from an actual Rifts author. "Rifts done right," is about as accurate a statement as you could make. Thanks for pointing this one out, Quim.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #2

Cast:
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John)
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
After reporting back to Jern about putting a stop to Belig's demands, the players decided to rest overnight and return to Shadowdale for supplies. As the reinforcements (in the form of new players) never arrived, they guessed that they would need more healing. Thurbal pointed them to the Morningdawn Hall, but not before he congratulated them for their good work and offered them more work when they returned from clearing the goblin lair. The group accepted the offer, agreeing to return to Thurbal after their work with the goblins was finished, and headed toward the Morningdawn Hall. Though Dawnlord Cassimar was too busy to be bothered, Rewel did sell them a handful of healing potions, which used a large portion of their earnings from the previous mission to save Thistle.

The following day, they went to inspect the warehouse. Knowing from their interrogation of the goblins in the previous session that the front entrance was impassable, they searched for the alternate entrance and found it easily. Thomus disarmed a trap at the entrance, and the pair entered. As they explored, they found room after room of what was once a functional and well-decorated facility. Each room, however opulent it might have been before, showed the telltale signs of goblin habitation: trash strewn about, horrible smells, and destroyed property. They confronted some resistance as they explored, including a handful of guards and some female goblins guarding their young (who they subdued without any women or children casualties). On the way through, they discovered an intriguing burnt chest sealed shut with stone shaped around the handle to resemble a coiled serpent. Finally, they came face to face with the "big boss" they learned about in their interrogation: a bugbear.

With some quick thinking and sound tactics, they managed to lure the bugbear into charging Kjell, and between a timely attack of opportunity and a pair of sneak attacks, managed to fell the creature before it landed a blow.

GM's Note: The combat encounters in this session reminded me just how much impact variance can have when you have so few players. The more players you have the more dice you roll. The more dice you roll, the closer you'll get to average damage output over time. However, if you're only rolling a few each round, the slumps hurt a lot more than usual and the peaks are much more obvious as well.

A huge marble double door stood at the back of the bugbear's throne room, and after searching the room for loot, they approached it. As they tried to open it, the signet ring given to them by Jern in the previous session began vibrating, and the door swung open on its own revealing:

Ahead of you, a corridor winds to the right, then curls left and out of view. Unlit torches line the walls. Dust covers the floor, untouched by any footprints.

And we ended the session there, calculating experience before heading out. Both characters advanced to 2nd level. As usual, if you're in the Hickory area and want to join us, you can find more information here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Underdark Campaign Kick-Off (Campaign Log #1)

Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to assemble a group of players from scratch, since everyone in my old group seems to have moved on to other hobbies and/or life responsibilities. This past Thursday, those efforts finally paid off, and a new campaign launched with its first session.

Cast:
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John)
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
The characters responded to the call of Thurbal, captain of the guard in Shadowdale, for a dinner at the Tower of Ashaba. Thurbal mentioned stampeding livestock and strange happenings below the Twisted Tower that were keeping his own men busy, and asked the group to help the tiny village of Thistle a few miles upstream. A plague had befallen the tiny village, and a goblin who claimed to have started the plague was demanding tribute. The adventurers were tasked with putting an end to the goblin's demands.

GM's Note: If you didn't notice, I'm starting the group out with a heavily modified version of Within the Circle, by Sam Brown. If it sounds intriguing to you, the adventure can be found in Dungeon #130.

The group set out immediately, surveying the land where the tribute payments had been delivered before meeting the town's wealthiest resident, Jern. This man, acting as the town's unofficial leader, went on to reveal that he needed help trying to make sure his shady past didn't catch up with him (and the townsfolk he has grown to care about). Once the business with the goblins was complete, he wanted the party to go further into the woods to investigate a warehouse he was hired to burn down a few months prior. He succeeded only in burning the entryway, and didn't complete the job, so he now fears that his previous employers will track him down and make him pay for the botched assignment. He believes that if the party can figure out who he was targeting, he might be able to discern who hired him to attack them.

The players, with almost a full day until the meeting to deliver the tribute to the goblin, decided to start by setting up the battlefield in their favor. They knew where the goblins would meet the townsfolk, and convinced Jern to allow some of the townsfolk to head to the location of the meeting ahead of time and cut down some trees for them. Cutting the trees opened some lanes of fire for Kjell's crossbow and also gave the characters some cover to hide in while the goblins approached.

GM's Note: We used spare pencils to represent fallen trees on the map, which worked out well even if they were probably a little too long. After the session ended, I got the impression that the players were surprised I "allowed" them to pursue that course of action. Do DMs really stifle that kind of creativity? I like it when my players think outside of the box.

The goblin leader, Belig, noticed the felled trees and sent in his bodyguards ahead to check out the area. This prevented the party from surprising him from hiding and slaying him early in the fight, but they still managed to get a crucial surprise assault on the goblin bodyguards. The fight ended with a savage critical strike from Thomus, knocking the goblin leader unconscious and sending the remaining bodyguard running for his life. Unfortunately for him, Thomus was able to run him down, knock him out, and tie him up.

GM's Note: I really need to read through the Pathfinder rules more carefully. There were quite a few little things that came up that had to be looked up on the spot. In particular, I recall asking if a player had ranks in the Use Rope skill, which doesn't exist in Pathfinder.

Two unconscious goblins were taken prisoner, and each was interrogated. By the end of the session, the party discovered:
  • The warehouse Jern asked them to investigate is apparently where the goblin lair is.
  • There are somewhere between two and several hundred goblins in said lair.
  • Belig is a boss, but not the big boss of the goblins.
  • Belig was indeed responsible for the plague, but not by magic as the townsfolk suspected. He poured goblin excrement into the river upstream of the village, which temporarily contaminated their water supply.
  • The goblins have only claimed the above-ground parts of the warehouse. There is also a basement level that they have not fully explored.
In the next session, the party intends to investigate the warehouse, hopefully with the help of reinforcements in the form of new player characters.

Speaking of new player characters, we still need a few new people, so if you're in the Hickory area and want to play, click here for more info.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bio Sydrome: A Survival Horror Tabletop Wargame

Ever thought of putting The Walking Dead and Warhammer 40K together? Yeah, I haven't either... until now. This looks pretty sweet.


My only question is this...

Is the mutant overseer figure a splugorth slaver in disguise?



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Building an RPG Group from Scratch

I have to admit, I've never done this before. I have found myself with the itch to play, but without my usual group of friends and family to scratch that itch. Everyone I would normally game with has had kids, or has moved too far away, or has a weird work schedule... and if I don't branch out, I might have to give up D&D indefinitely.

That is not an option.

So how do you recruit a group of D&D players? Unfortunately, in rural North Carolina, they're an elusive bunch, so here are the tricks I've thought of so far. If you can think of other ideas, please contribute in the comments below!

Social Media: I sent out messages to all my gamer buddies and came up blank, so this didn't work for me this time. However, if someone asked me where to start with a similar goal, I would still point them to social media first. The people you have some connection to (even if it's just on Facebook) are more likely to respond than people who don't know you at all.

Local Hobby Store: Last week, I wrote up a flyer about the campaign I'd like to start, and I asked my local game shop (The Dugout) to post it. It looks like this:
In hindsight, I think I put too much text on there. As an advertisement, this is FAR too wordy. I'm going to rewrite this with effective advertising principals in mind.

Online Game Sites: I posted in a few message boards that I was looking for a game. Most game forums have some kind of "Find a Game" board. Here are a few of the ones I've been searching lately:

PenandPaperGames.com: This site was built specifically to help gamers find other gamers. You can put in your location and get a map of everyone in your area who has also signed up for the site. Even better, you'll get an email whenever a new gamer nearby signs up.

Obsidian Portal: It's a campaign building website, but it has a "Games Nearby" page where you can find ongoing campaigns in your area. A link to ongoing campaigns wouldn't be on my list at all except for one thing: a lot of the campaigns listed in my area haven't been updated in ages. The contact information of the members of these campaigns might lead you to local gamers who haven't played in a while and would like the opportunity to get involved again.

Meetup.com: I've never used this before, but I just signed up. Literally, I just signed up while taking a break from writing this article. I think it has potential... there's a group for games and geekery in the area, so maybe I'll be able to get in touch with a few interested people there.



So how do you go about it? Where do you find new players? Comment and give me some ideas!
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