September 12

Speak Out with Your Geek

Jumping on this band wagon (more details here), since it’s a good idea.

Speak out with your Geek

Speak out with your Geek



I am a self-confessed geek and wear my colours proudly, and anyone who knows me knows this to be true. I don’t hide it, not sure if I ever did (or if I tried, as a young and confused teen, I doubt I managed to pull it off).

I came to the conclusion a while ago that there are three things in my life that have had a profound effect on, chiefly on my childhood and hence helped form me into the adult that I am…

  • Doctor Who
  • Dungeons & Dragons, and from there Other RPGs
  • Star Wars

Pretty much my entire life has been influenced by those three things, more than anything else; and considering that I have turned out to be a reasonably well-adjusted and decent human being, I think these have been a very positive influence.

Just thought I’d share.

Happy Monday everyone ūüôā

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August 31

The Campaign is Dead, Long Live the Campaign

This may be presumptuous of me, but tonight should see the end of the Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance campaign that we started a year ago, almost to the day.

Then, hopefully starting next week, we’ll be kicking off my Eternal Empire¬†D&D/LotFP campaign, which will be a nice change of system, pace and gaming style. Plus, I might actually kill some characters off! Not that I’m an evil DM (well, maybe a bit), but the threat of death will be so much higher than the Star Wars game, as the heroes are now Level 20 and virtually unkillable (although I came close last week).

So I’ve been spending my time hunting for maps, randomly generating their contents, filling them with monsters, treasure and interesting features, and am all but finished (just three more locations to go, and the main prep work is done; than all I have to do is put the maps and tokens into Map Tools, all ready to play). I’m looking forward to this game, since I’ve been working on it for months; should be fun.

And now, an image that shows what the heroes of the Star Wars game will be doing towards the end of tonight’s session:

The Final Scene
Flying through the superstructure of a prototype super star destroyer
August 25

Maximum Power!

Maximum Power!Last night was session two of episode ten of the soon-to-be-finish Star Wars campaign (the WotC Dawn of Defiance arc), and after a battle that lasted twelve rounds and two hours real-time (which I think is the longest any of the encounters have been), the heroes defeated the Dark Jedi, Draco, and are on their way to do battle in space; and they have now levelled up to Level 20!

And they are god-like in their power… ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but they are incredibly tough. Only one of the characters was really in any serious trouble, going from about 150 hps to 4 hps, but both the droid and the former clone trooper were heavily hit; only the Master Jedi managed to avoid any serious damage, and that was only because Draco couldn’t hit him (despite being a Lv 20 bad guy).

I confess I do not like the power-curve of these ‘modern’ games (3.5, Pathfinder, 4E, and Star Wars SAGA), as not only do the heroes become stupidly powerful, they do so in seemingly no time at all. It doesn’t feel like they have worked hard to get this experienced, and in a really short space of time (even with an in-game break that adds up to about a year, the game-time is maybe two years at most). It makes it feel ‘fake’, and yes I know this is a game and all that, but I remember when we played AD&D2E and it felt like ages between levels; but when we got into those magical double-figures, we felt like we deserved them, had earned them. Doesn’t feel that way for the other games.

Now, I know this is partly the way it has been played, with little down-time between some of the adventures, and that there are plenty of ways to slow down the progress of levelling, but my point is (and why my next game is old school style all the way), is that I want the players to feel like they have earned their levels, that it is a reward due to their successes and in-game experience, even out-game experience; more than just a pile of numbers that add up to ‘cool stuff’ for their characters to do; I want it to be more role-play¬†than wargamey, which is what the later editions of D&D and their off-spins sometimes feel like; at least in the games I’ve recently been in.

Which brings me to Hit Points. I have a love-hate relationship with Hit Points, as their advancement doesn’t always fit well with damage output, so the higher level characters get, the more fights become a slog-fest, especially when you play later editions and have heroes with a couple hundred hit points (in the Star Wars game, I think the trooper character will end up with just shy, or just over, 300 hps).

I have tried alternatives to the rules, using things like wound points, substituting Constitution for HPs, that sort of thing. Nothing ever felt right (especially when wizards are throwing fireballs around). I’ve heard that Secret Fire¬†has a different way of dealing with it, but I’m waiting for my copy to arrive and have no clear idea how that’ll work.

So, I’m looking forward to starting my Old School D&D-styled campaign, sometime in the next month. It should be refreshing, and I fully expect for PCs to die as the players get back into the swing of playing it Old School.

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May 31

Sunday’s Game

diceThis Sunday I return to the DM seat for our fortnightly 3.5 D&D game, having been playing my wizard for the past few months. This campaign is due for a short break soon, chiefly as our main DM needs a break. But before we do take a rest from it (and start a Pathfinder game instead) I get a couple more sessions to run the party through a ruined tower that has been there goal for several months (both in-game and out-of-game time); a treasure hunt based on a treasure map one of the player characters bought from some dwarf explorers.

This is one of those quests that has been completely driven by the players, and has completely diverged from the original quest they were given by the King of the Dwarves. That quest may never see light of day now, or if it does, it won’t be until we return to this game.

In the meantime, they are about to arrive at the remains of a Sorcerer’s Tower, as per this map that I took from the Wizard of the Coasts Map-a-Week¬†archive:

Sorcerer's TowerI’ve designed it in with an Old School approach, and it was created a while back when the party was much lower level. I had no idea when (even if) they would ever head here, so initially it was beyond their ability to deal with; now, they have a chance…

…although what they will find inside and how they deal with the tower, well, I won’t say just in case any of them read this. But it’s going to be fun, and the rewards are worth any risk (or are they?)

I’ll post an actual play report after the session.

I do like this map; indeed, there are many maps from the archive that I have or want to use in other games. There are loads of maps all over the ‘net now, plus random generators for dungeons and cities, which can take the load of some of the prep work needed for a good adventure; however, recently I have found myself moving away from using these maps or randomly created ones, and instead mapping my own, using a mix of Inkscape and Photoshop (or GIMP). If I had a scanner at home, I’d probably do more hand-drawn ones, but alas I only have access to a scanner at work, and don’t always have the time to make use of it.

The Star Wars game is being skipped this week, but returns next Monday. Those characters are now Level 16 and are very powerful; none have come anywhere near dying for many adventures now, although I have managed to give one or two of them a pounding. In a few more sessions they’ll be close to Level 20 and the end of the campaign; it’ll be interesting to see how powerful they end up by then… and it’ll be the first and only time any characters in any games or campaigns have ever managed to reach that level. It’ll be a satisfying conclusion when it is finished (and makes way for our LotFP Weird Fantasy campaign, which will be a complete change of pace).

I’m rambling now. More later.

March 11

Resources for On-Line Gaming

The other day, Greywulf posted about Corkboard, and using it as a gaming tool. Basically, it opens a unique url for you, not secured, that is a corkboard type background with post-it notes. Copy & Paste images, add text, simple and easy to use.

This got me thinking. At the moment I run a game every week using Map Tools and playing on-line with my brothers, cousin and a friend who are spread across the country. It works really well, for the most part, but I am always looking for ways to enhance the experience. We are currently running through the Dawn of Defiance adventure path for the Star Wars Saga game, but once that has been completed I intend to set up an Old School D&D campaign. It will be more of a Sandbox styled game, I’ll use modules for various locations, wandering monsters, the whole assumed set really. There’s be a town to use as a base, henchmen to hire, all that. I also wanted to have a notice-board outside the local inn, to feed them rumours, plot hooks and so forth. I was just going to create a board on Map Tools, but now I think I will use Corkboard instead. Should work really well.

And, if anyone is interested, since I am going to be using Map Tools to run this game (using the Weird Fantasy lotFP rules) I have been hard at work putting together a set of macros for the game. Once they’re finished and tested I’ll post them up, if anyone thinks that would be useful.

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