Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Without a Trace

When you’re forced to leave the game early due to circumstances beyond your control, there’s always a chance you’ll have to bring a new character for next session. Fortunately, our werebear player decided to make his character into a proper Engine of War and his trait, Warrior’s Restoration, allowed Devlin to heal up the hole in his side in an hour.

As impressive as that may sound, it’s even more impressive that Devlin managed not to punch the hunter who shot at him. In his defence, he thought he was shooting at a polar bear. While VT flew off to get her gun, Devlin and Peyton met with some hunters and had a chat. Most of them wanted to finish it quickly solely because Devlin has a reputation of punching people for no reason… even if they have guns.

During their chat, Peyton noticed that the hunters were wearing similar clothes as that severed armed that nearly hit him during the blizzard. Oddly enough, the players decided to try and track down the beast, now nicknamed Windy by VT. Sadly they lost the track. The wind and snow destroyed what little signs they could follow. The only thing they were sure of is that Windy headed for the town… and that it disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

I’m extremely glad Bill noticed that although VT was perched on a building overlooking where Windy would have emerged, she saw naught. Normally, you could hand-wave that as a simple plot hole but I do have a reason as to why Windy vanished. A reason which I shall keep to myself… such is the beauty of Game Mastering.

With so little to go on, our heroic shapeshifters went back to find the severed arm and piece together the identity of the victim. His name was Jonathan and none of the characters knew of him having any ties with the local hunters. Being the good citizens they are, they informed the local authorities who, quite sceptically, sent a state trooper with them to check it out.

The disbelief vanished quite quickly and was replaced by a visage of horror!

The site was secured, CSI was called in and statements were taken.
No other player got shot at.
For now…

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Levelling up

I am pleased to report that the DnD party are now second level. As close a shave as we had to death last week, it seams that an inch is as good as a mile for us and we gained enough experience to claw up some desperately needed hit points ready for the next close shave. Even closer if you believe the adverts.

Here is a friendly Youtube video of the process:

The 5e process was incredibly quick and straight forward and entailed writing a 2 instead of a 1 in the level box, rolling a single dice (or accepting an average) and copying across the proficiencies for your character from the Players Handbook. I picked up my first spell slot and now have something else to wave in front of people's faces other than an axe.

As painless a process as it seemed I did cast my eye down the level charts, optimistically I admit, to the higher echelons and although one picks up one or two additional proficiencies as you go up each time, it will end up being quite a lot eventually. I suppose though, that if a player personally takes a character through the level ups, it would imply one had a good grasp of capabilities at each stage. Still, I wouldn't envy a beginner jumping in at a higher level but I suppose this is true of most RPGs.

As for the party itself, well, we have managed to restore a lighthouse to full operation and dutifully receiving the reward for doing so. And we have located some missing persons, albeit slightly less alive in some cases. It is slowly transpiring though that many of the optional sub plots we have come across are seemingly interlinked with cultist of the Green Dragon. This will require further investigation but at least for now the fog is literally lifting over Neverwinter as we have restored some navigation to its blockaded port.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Someone Heard You Scream

As a GM, I never know how to start a game.
A typical fantasy game starts in a tavern, I'm told, when an old wizard judges your motley of low-level adventurers worthy a task so grave that it can only be given to a random bunch of strangers... but what do you do when there's a significant lack of wizards and taverns in a given setting?

How am I supposed to know?
I just asked the players what their characters are doing in the woods on the outskirts of town... yes, yes, yes, that's a cool story. Oh, by the way, you hear a scream of terror followed by gunshots from within the woods!

That's as good a hook as any... and so, the local werebeasts found themselves checking out the scream. Coincidence or Fate? We may never know.

They went on in the direction of where the scream originated. Stopping only when encountering a blizzard! Expecting something supernatural going on, VT turned into a falcon and went on ahead to scout. Especially after one of them got nearly hit by a severed arm of some poor chap. I was expecting the players would stop and think things through. Maybe try and gather some more information but after VT returned to say she found an enormous beast with control over the winds, which might be responsible for dismembering a human being in no time... they decided to go and try to kill it.

It might seem like a bad plan but they do have a gigantic were-polar-bear. All things considered, they might have been successful... if not for VT getting swept away, the blizzard mysteriously disappearing and someone shooting at the enormous bear next to a poor, defenseless student.

There were so many rolls between players to keep Devlin from going on a rampage.
I was expecting someone to fail.

At the end of the session, Devlin regained his composure, turned back to human form and started putting his clothes on while someone was approaching the group.

The Peril of 1st level

Here is a quick before an after picture, I could ask you to spot the difference but being smug at a funeral is generally considered inappropriate. I exaggerate only slightly as despite the fact that our Scout did a fantastic job of creeping up on a skeleton, he did immediately throw away his sword as a rather botched attempt at a stealth attach. Fate decided not to be speared in the back on this particular occasion. Taken below a zero level of hit points, our brave player, Nick, attempted to roll his three attempts at staying alive and, sadly, failed two of them putting his character into immediate probate - a situation every thief, I mean scout, would wish to avoid for professional as well as personal reasons.
It was fortunate, in all senses of the word, that apparently as a Halfling he did in fact get another stab at life as the 'lucky' rule came into play for his race for which a tense but successful roll was made and  by the skin of his teeth  has now a story to tell.
As it happens, he wasn't the only one. Attacked by skeleton archers, reanimated corpses and slippery ghouls the Paladin, Ranger and Cleric were also treated to a near death experience and it was briefly the Mage vs everything before reinforcements arrived. Not for us as such but after the loot, still, beggars cant be choosers.
It was all a very close shave but there were the obvious things we could have done differently. It all goes to remind me really that even when starting new players or even those new to roleplay in general, 1st level characters are actually a big challenge - not only is there the inherent lack of experience and hitpoints as characters but more often or not it is the first time a player may come across the do's and dont's of basic survival - a rule of thumb will serve you well provided it isn't cut off.
So endeth the first session of this part of the DnD, bruised, battered and barely breathing but hopefully a little wiser.
We'll see....

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Self Preservation

Just to round off the Star Wars last week, I can report on the successful repatriation of ambassador Bol to the Rebel Alliance. I knew you would all be relieved. Discovered quite safe in his Carbonite casing he was released in time for the end of the one off adventure.

Next week should see the start of DnD, Changing Breeds and Feng Shui.

Carbonite casing was originally designed for gas transportation as the material can absorb vast amounts of volatile atmospheric substances whilst locking them in an unreactive and stable form. The chambers themselves can also stack efficiently and operate in built repulsors for mobility.

It also happens to be an ideal form of transport for captives as the molecular integration process has a stasis effect on organic material. Painful though.

However, do not confuse Carbonite with Samsonite, another transportation and packaging material that is also used for moving bodies around.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

It begins

'Any ideas as for characters you'd like to play?' I asked.
'An adrenaline junkie werefalcon.'
'I think I'll play a polar bear lumberjack.'
'Together, they fight crime.' Bill remarked.

Actually, that's a very good description of the scenario I have in mind... mostly because murder is generally considered an illegal act.

It's been a while since I've last run a game. I used to do it fairly often but even so, I was dreading sitting in the GM chair again.

I started off with two players, had elevator-pitch for the game and felt like my handling of the system was sketchy at best... but as we sat down and bantered, I felt happy to be were I started.

Last week we did character creation.
We didn't do as much as I had hoped and I'm at fault here. I intended half of the 2 hours we had to be spent making characters and the other hour on fitting them into the setting but I was worried that putting dots on the sheet would go fast that I feared all would be done in half that time... it didn't.

No plan ever survives contact with players, mark my words!

Fortunately, the sheets require minimal input from the players and I started working on some additional player characters for drop-ins.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Head in the Clouds

As the games are turning over like a huge discworld sized pancake, I have taken the opportunity to run a stopgap 2 episode Star Wars until the DnD is ready to rumble. The original West End games D6 edition no less. Despite the D20 system prevalence I like the older system due to its rather vague approach to rules - its enough to get things done but allows a high degree of flexibility by the GM and the extremely simple difficulty tables are applied to most tasks - combat is simply an attack roll vs strength roll.
For now the party are trying to rescue an Ambassador Bol, a wanted Jedi, who went MIA during the last Star Wars adventure. He was pivotal in establishing the first few clans into an alliance against the Imperium.

At this moment in time, although it was a long, long time ago, our adventurers are on the trail of a broken light sabre that was found to have been gambled away in a casino on Cloud City -a Calrissian mining facility suspended within the Bespin atmosphere. Having abruptly cornered the gambler concerned it turns out that he claimed the item from the now defunct Tibann orbital - an old and ultimately unsuccessful competitor to Cloud City that has fallen derelict - uninhabited for now except for scavengers and scrap hunters and anyone else not looking to be found...Part 2 on Thursday...