Giving Steve A Fair Shake

Sounds dirty!

I wanted to touch on something else that happened last Wilderlands session, where I think there was a bit more miscommunication, and it was all on my end, and I wanted to clear it up and apologize to Steve openly.

During the exchange with the Bog Giants, Steve declared that one of his hirelings was going to try to get the monster's attention so his comrades could get away, and sacrifice himself in the process. I didn't have a problem with that...the noble self-sacrifice of a person so that the many may live is just good storytelling.

The thing I did have issue with is that Steve picked the poor schmuck that was unlucky enough to have 2 starting hp. True, this guy's down for the count in one hit from most things, but Steve chose the guy simply for his hp total, and could give me no other reason...then in frustration rolled randomly and got the dude with the highest, who subsequently did die.

I didn't want to force Steve to choose another hireling, I wanted to force a roleplay reason for the puny guy to be chosen, not a gamist reason. This was selfish of me, I admit, but I'm trying to also teach better roleplay through actions.

The way I was looking at it, Steve could have said "this guy does it because he feels he's the weakest," or "the other hirelings plead with him, knowing that he'll eventually slow them down at times, anyway," or even "I order him to stand his ground to make good the escape of the others." Jadazh is a staunch follower of Asmodeus, after all, and part of the wording of his hireling's agreement is "until the end of our lives," with no clause explaining HOW they have to die.

That's all I wanted in the game. Didn't mean for it to become a "deal," though...in hindsight, I was saying the wrong things to make my point. So, sorry Steve! Now you know what I meant.

Have a great night, everyone.


A Few More Things on My Current Game...

A few things popped into my mind as I was reading back over my two previous posts, and I thought I might as well hit them real quick in a post, as well.

First is something that happened last session. A slight misunderstanding that could have ended much worse than it did.

When the Bog Giants began their attack by hurling stones, it was communicated to me that everyone began paddling their rafts "towards shore." Those are the words that were told to me repeatedly, not "towards the opposite shore," simply towards shore.

Since this was first communicated to me by Taylor, I assumed "towards the fight," because that's normally how he plays Borash. When David and Steve both gave me similar calls on their rafts, I also assumed that the party was going to try to rout this small group of giants. Things didn't quite work out that way...

There wasn't a tpk or anything, but I still wonder why, after the fact, everyone seemed somewhat harsh about the judgement call. They still had opportunity to run away, obviously, and they didn't stand and fight longer than they knew they could, so I really don't know what to say.

I made the joking comment that if things are left vague, I will rule in my favor. That isn't true, but I will rule in what way I feel best encompasses what the party would do. I don't feel I unnecessarily placed the characters at risk in context of that judgement. That's why being concise pays off in D&D.

Anyway, it seemed to make some people grumpy. I felt I made the right call given the information I was given.

Also, I wanted to mention that the "Keep" has a name, but almost no one who lives in or travels to the area uses it, instead calling the place "The Falls" or "Bugbear Falls" after a nearby landmark, a waterfall - surprise, surprise!

Soon, I'll be talking about house rules I use/plan to adopt in the Wilderlands campaign, some of the reasons I've decided to put options on the chopping block, the restrictions of magic item bloat, as well as talking some about Taylor's ongoing homebrew in which I play, and possibly some non-D&D stuff. Who knows!


Trials and Tribulations in Thygamus..or is it Lyoophiath?

Thygamus and Lyoophiath, for those who are wondering, are provinces of the City State of the World Emperor, or Viridistan in the Wilderlands.

For the campaign I'm currently running, I've borrowed a section in the NE of map 4, starting in the NE of my own map (hex 4101) with the unnamed keep on the Wilderlands map and stretching west to Iso Lake, then down as far south as Rappin Athuk in the SW corner of my map.

That unnamed keep became, of course (if you've been keeping up,) THE keep, from B2, Keep on the Borderlands, with the Caves of Chaos being situated at hex 4201 for those keeping score at home.

The game started, as I've mentioned, as something to pass the time when we didn't have a regular game go through. Something that could be played fast, with minimal work to make characters (everyone at 1st.) Everyone that has played has had a blast, and the game is truly one I look forward to every week, which is sometimes hard for a DM to say, as there are so few hours in the day, it seems.

The initial forays into the Caves were fairly disastrous for the party, and more than a few return trips to the keep and more expeditions wrought with death and maiming brought about an end to those journeys and a new undertaking after having won the respect and, dare I say, friendship of the gnoll tribe inhabiting the caves.

Now, the party is traipsing through a swamp I positioned in a delta between Hyyap and Kevala, just south of the keep, having first gone directly through with some gnolls to deliver an honored tribe member to an abandoned temple that they have used as a tomb for generations.

On their way there, they encountered another adventuring group headed by a Human* Cleric of an ancient god named Tharizdun, who he claimed to be a god of darkness. This priest, along with an Elf Knight, Human Fighter, Human Rogue**, Human Marshal, and a Bugbear Alchemist***, then joined with the group after deciding they were going to the same location.

A few losses, a close brush with some giants, and a nasty fight with lizardfolk and a khumat slowed the party's approach and when they reached the base of the temple and saw a whole lizardfolk village at the base, plus the added danger of khumat and a giant spotted going out of the temple and through the reptilians unmolested, a new plan was devised...to bulk their numbers more with sellswords and take the place by force.

Having done a good job resupplying in Hyyap and hiring along more mercs, plus recruiting some orcs who are eager for coin and violence, they headed back into the swamp. Their small flatboats came under attack about midway to their destination when spotted by some lamprey-mouthed bog giants, who quickly began hurling stones. The group, some 24 strong at this point, rushed to shore, and after killing one giant and badly injuring another, made fast their escape with only minor losses.

Here we left off, with the party scattered in many directions, in some cases beat to all hell, but still intact, for the most part...

* This having been changed from Changeling once I dropped the race from my game.
** This character is actually Chris S.'s character, who though originally sided with the other party was paid for services by Paul's character.
*** I've been tossing around the idea of dropping the Alchemist class. It has cool features and abilities, but I sometimes feel that it's a bit "light" for my tastes. If I do so, this character will become a Warlock.

By the by, if anyone out there has a good map of Viridistan that shows provincial divisions and can clarify for me exactly where my game takes place, that would be cool. It's possible I have one. I have heaps of Judge's Guild stuff, it's just sorting through it all to find what I want is fairly daunting. I'm making progress, though!

Current Cast of Characters
Chas DeLong, Male Human Fighter 4 - David B.
Jadazh Gr'tea, Male Human Duskblade 4 - Steve C.
Borash, Male Half-Orc Cleric of Gorum 4 - Taylor
Etune Yamara, Female Halfling Monk 4 - Angela
Seyji Upsul, Male Human Cleric of Tharizdun 9 - NPC
"Union", Female Human Marshal 5 - NPC
Gexzrit, Male Bugbear Alchemist 4 - NPC
Brakish, Male Gnoll Fighter 1 - NPC
Grahyip, Male Gnoll Fighter 4 - NPC
3 x Gnoll Warrior 1 - David B. controlled
4 x Human Warrior 1 - Steve C. controlled
6 x Orc Warrior 1 - Taylor controlled


Pathfinderlands of High Fantasy...Or Something Of That Nature

Not so great a title, but I've not named the campaign yet, so you get a wonky title to the blog post.

For those of you who can't recall, and who can blame you, as I'm not the most dedicated poster...a while back I restarted a sandbox game using the 3.x D&D rules as the skeleton (albeit a beefy one.) When we picked the campaign up, I ran it primarily as 3.x with Pathfinder character building, giving the players more options, but as time has gone on, I have implemented many more Pathfinder rules and have been moving more toward what I feel an old school sandbox should feel like under a more modern rules set.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I'm doing it right, by any means. Hell, I'm nowhere near the level of cool of the West Marches, if you ask me.

I have tried to work in the spirit of old school, however. I started this by concentrating on Reactionary DMing. This is nothing new, and I'm not trying to put a label to what most people just call "DMing," but my last campaign was an almost-weekly 57 session adventure path, using the first adventure path published by WotC under the 3.x rules (including The Sunless Citadel, The Forge of Fury, etc.) Sure, I tweaked the thing hard, and there were side quests and character development scenarios that weren't in the booklets, but pretty much everything else was cruise control for me.

I think this made me lazy. I'm a heavy-prep DM. I like to prepare. I like to have all possibilities covered, and since I prefer the 3.x rules, I like to have stat blocks ready when needed. With this new campaign, however, I'm willing to relax on that a little. I'm not gonna fret if the current course of action is abandoned, or if an NPC dies that maybe shouldn't have. I had almost forgotten what winging it felt like, because I was always concerned with keeping my players entertained. Everything was described as richly as I could manage. I would fill a whole notebook, sometimes 2, during the course of a campaign with session notes so that I was ready with this description or that, trying to cover every possibility...and that doesn't include my setting notes.

Anyway, I'm not gonna harsh on one style or the other, both are a great deal of fun to me, but I do like running this game loosey-goosey, not immediately giving the players anything, but waiting for what they want, then reacting accordingly, giving information as needed. It's been a few years since I ran a game like that, but it doesn't feel clunky. It just feels fun.

So far, I'm reacting, the players are exploring (YeY!), and it seems that good times are had by all.