GM ADD, Or Why The Posts Have Slowed

So, as is very evident, my posts have slowed. I'm not sorry for it, this isn't an apology. I have maybe 4 returning readers, and that's generous.

The reason the posts have stopped is because I've become enamored with superheroes of late, and would like to play a superhero rpg. I've been reading blogs and forum threads about people's games, different rules, etc. Basically, it's taking alot of my attention.

I haven't been thinking of new rules for my Pathfinder game, or really, putting too much into that game, other than playing it. Does that mean I'm tired of running my players through my little twist on the Wilderlands? Absolutely not! I'm having a ball, and more will come shortly on that.

The posts I want to get out will get out, but expect more diversity in the coming weeks. With my Wilderlands game at full tilt, still playing in Taylor's game, David talking about finishing the Haarlock Legacy adventures for Dark Heresy, and superhero gaming running rampant in my mind, I have yet to be stalled!


Falls Follies

Sunday, we joined again to play a session of my Pathfinder Wilderlands game, this one also sans Steve. Though, I believe he will return in two weeks!

When we left off, 3 of our heroes (Well, 2 and a hireling...) were under a powerful compulsion, forcing them to chant ancient, evil litanies as their young Paladin comrade looked on, unsure in action...watching zombies shamble slowly toward the mesmerized men.

This moment of thought was lightning fast, however, and Gabrielle took her line, attached to a grappling hook and, successful with affixing it to Borash, hauled the Half-Orc out of the chapel, only to find that he was still chanting!

At this time, however, Chas seemed to shake the effects just as the zombies reached him, but Kezziar, Borash's only remaining Orc retainer, was drug off to a place unseen to some horrible fate.

After dispatching these strange, pestilent zombies, the group decided to cut their losses and return home to Bugbear Falls, for resupply and safe rest. Upon reaching their adopted home, however, the group was detained by local officials for the murder of knights of Iomedae, as witnessed from the walls of the city.

The PCs gave good account of their actions, and together with divinatory magic performed by Honorable Justice Sollas, a member of the tribunal, were found guilty only of minor recklessness and neglect of the duties of a citizen, and (only for Borash) were found guilty of bribery of a town guard...when the guard was asked to buy him an ale from The White Cliff. These two charges cost the party 205gp, 200 for an adventuring charter and 5 (the amount given the guard to buy the beer)as a fine for the bribery.

With the charter listed, the Unbreakable Warriors adventuring company was formed!

None too late, either, as many things caught the attentions of the party, and they seem to want to take action against them!

Chas discovered upon returning to Elomir the Sage's house that her door was ajar and the place had been ransacked. Upon further investigation, Chas found that the elf, herself, was missing, and so alerted the guard as quickly as possible.

Gabrielle was witness to the fleeting black sheet looking thing that many of the group's hirelings had seen before. This time, however, it fluttered past the 2nd story windows as she took stock of the party's new residence.

Further, writings gathered in the temple structure within the caves, and one of the knight companions of Gabrielle contracting a disease, have the party thinking of ways to purge the place of all traces of filth and pestilence before an epidemic arises.

Much of the rest of the session was dealt with acquiring supplies and spending 500gp from selling loot to purchase a large apartment in town to act as a base of operations for adventuring.

A bit of a wedge has seemed to form over the dispersal and expenditure of loot (some of it based on out of character knowledge,) so I guess we'll see where that goes.

The session pretty much ended with the group about to discuss what to do/where to go next, so I guess we'll find out Sunday!


A Supers Campaign Inspired By A Dream

So, I had this dream, right? When I woke up, I spoke all I could remember of it out loud, and I've been mulling it over, just to keep it fresh in my mind. Since, I've been thinking quite a lot about superhero gaming, and so I decided to go ahead and post the contents of the dream, since it obviously inspired me quite a bit.

The first of the dream I remember is that I was at Taylor and Angela's place, my game group was gathered around, as normal except Paul, John, Tony, and Chris were there, which doubled our usual numbers.

We were discussing the government contracts that each state of the U.S.A. were allowed to give, and how restrictive they were to the superheroes in them, not letting them perform "unsanctioned heroic acts," and Angela brought up a hero named Arkansas Twister being penalized by the state, and threatened with having breach of contract drawn against him because he stopped to help people in an automobile accident.

The talk was politically driven, but also asked the questions "Would you work for the state for $500k a year as their lapdog hero if you had powers?" and "What made the Federal government decide that state-ran hero programs could only include ratios of 1 hero to every million citizens?"

Heroes not sanctioned by the government were operating on a gray area, where they were allowed to go about their business without having to register or anything, but if deemed to be performing illegal activities by any government agency, would then receive vigilante/villain status. All collateral damage performed outside state sanction would be paid in full restitution within a 1 month period or be moved to vigilante/villain status.

Not sure what vigilante/villain status is, but I can assume that the punishments would be extreme once the government found out identities...frozen assets, etc., not to mention having heroes on your tail.

Basically, the dream felt narrated. I feel like I'm forgetting things now, but it seemed like everyone was talking 90-to-nothing about this phenomena, and we (being game nerds, I assume) were all very interested in and excited about the goings-on. Tons of information to digest, but a skeleton that a campaign could be hung on.

I do realize that a bit of it is familiar...there are elements of both The Fifty State Initiative and The Superhuman Registration Act present in the framework, but I'm sure they came to the fore in my dream due to Civil War being one of the last major comics storylines I read.

I really want to flesh this out. I could definitely run with this idea, but what rules-set? Aberrant is the supers system I'm most familiar with, and my friends have all played Storyteller system, so that might be workable...there are others out there, though, that might fit. Not too familiar with many, but maybe Mutants & Masterminds or some other system would sit better with my group?

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns...all are welcome in the comments!

Insubstantial Death, A Kobold, and A Dwarf

Last night was a pretty fast-paced session of Taylor's continuing Friday night campaign. We got a late start, but tacked on about an hour to our usual quitting time, so all was good.

At any rate, like I said...this session was fast-paced. We practically crawled through the labyrinthine tomb, trying to find our quarry...the reason behind the undead menace that have plagued the delve of the dwarvs, and indeed permeate this complex. Kedereckt led us carefully through, on constant watch for pitfalls and other hazards, doing well to keep us safe, but not handling many traps he discovered successfully, though avoiding much harm.

After hours and hours of traversing corridors and not finding anything, Chymond had a keen realization and asked his newly commanded vampire minion if there was a store of treasures in this tomb, hoping to find more funding for further survival and to increase his holdings in his homeland. This was, indeed the case, and the undead led us to a small chamber, in which we found a chest of silver.

Asking further, the spawn told us that this was an antechamber to the real room, and that the traps contained in the silver hoard room were meant to finalize the life of most treasure seekers.

Well...we're not most!

Venturing further into an even smaller chamber, Chymond promptly fell into a pit, and then the group was set upon by a ghostly figure (a specter, but none of us knew that) that was intent on draining our very lives away!

At first, Xulira and Kedereckt meant to help Chymond escape from the pit, but upon seeing how the odds favored us initially against the specter, Xulira decided to run for it, and I commanded my vampire to make Kedereckt run (since he is technically still the thrall of the undead.)

Chymond was sure this was his end, down in a pit, the life drained from him...doomed to likely be raised as some sort of undead in the service of whatever master ruled this tomn...and he was certain Oth would join him in death...there we'd be, two small specks of power and vibrancy, snuffed! All very dramatic, you understand...

However, through the desperate use of spells and not a small amount of luck, neither of us succumbed to the deathly grasp of the specter, and we managed to disperse our ghostly foe back to whatever hell they came from!

With Xulira and Kedereckt managing to make it out of the tomb within minutes, and heading back to the delve of the dwarves, Oth and I sat and deliberated what we would do with newly acquired treasure (the silver from the previous room, and a few items from the "treasure chamber") and when to bring the fight to the undead master.

Deciding that we were a bit too worse for the wear, we packed it up and began our trek out of the crypt, hoping to regroup with our allies and be at full strength when we finally meet our foe.


Zombies, Skeletons, and Medusas...Oh My!

Yesterday, we played a regular session of my Wilderlands Pathfinder game. This session was sans Steve, as he's currently obtaining his CDL to expand his career choices. Good luck, Steve!

As predicted in the last session write-up, this session was quite fun!

When we picked up, the group had just encountered and destroyed some wandering Zombies in the worked stone caverns they were currently exploring. Jadazh excused himself from this part of the venture, claiming to need to attend to something and promising to regroup at a later time. Jadazh's axemen, too, took their leave, but Borash was adamant in the extermination of the undead, and wished to press forward, with the other PCs and their men in agreement to the course of action.

Venturing cautiously through the broad corridors and narrow tunnels that make up this part of the cave system led them first to a chamber filled with torture implements and small living furnishings of the torturer, who happened to be present, but was given a swift death after blows from both Chas and Borash. Inspection of the chamber turned up quite a bit of coin and a bracelet, the latter of which likely taken off a torture victim, which the party quickly divvied and then pressed on.

Roaming the twisting corridors further led the party to an unusual door, locked and barred from this side, which they found quickly to be a holding cell of some sort, populated with more than a few skeletal remains of prisoners and a shapely human-looking woman with a bag over her head who was very much alive and manacled to the wall. Upon noting that there wasn't a way to open the lock on the door at hand, Chas returned to the torturer's room and got some brands and winch bars to use as prybars, and was able to pop the padlock with the help of Borash.

Having gained entry into the cell, the group moved in, weapons at the ready to fight off the skeletons, which they were sure would animate at any time, and Gabrielle went to tend to the woman, removing the hood, causing all present to freeze in horror at the sight, and Borash to solidify into solid stone as their gaze met a Medusa's!

Gabrielle quickly replaced the hood that had been covering the deadly gaze of the Medusa, and Chas remembered a salve given to him quite some time back with restorative and healing powers. Using all of the jar, he was able to return Borash to his fleshy self, and the group began to parley with the Medusa, trying to learn what they could of the place, and bargaining her terms of release, with a focus on no further harm to the party.

With the medusa having left in peace, the party continued further, discovering a room packed with crates and barrels, holding dry goods and fresh foodstuffs(!) which they quickly partook of, before back-tracking and pressing on deeper into the complex.

Back in the main corridor, the group came upon a door leading into a room that housed four priests of unknown faith, who gave the PCs a lengthy fight due to good armor and tight fighting quarters, coupled with Zombies brought forth by the noise of combat. All were systematically put to the sword, and our band continued further in, coming again to a door that stood just outside what appeared to be a grand chamber.

Slinging the door open, Chas animated the score each of Skeletons and Zombies inside, but the party made quick work of the undead through good tactics and use of resources. Things were not to be so easy, however, as Chas and Borash ventured forward in the vanguard, entering the large chamber before them...discovering a grand chapel with three altars, draperies on all but the backing wall, which was translucent red stone...and then they began to chant, seemingly unable to do anything else.

Gabrielle froze with indecision at her companion's plight, the youth unnerved by their spewing of vile litanies and seeming to be under the power of an unknown something. I called the session as Angela debated her course of action and a group of Zombies, these different from the others previously encountered, walked into view in the chapel.


Posted for Truth and Posterity

The following is a quote by James Raggi that I feel is very important in context of a player-driven game like the Wilderlands campaign I run. I post it here for my players to see, and as a reminder to hold true to the style of game I want to run.

"If a player complains that he’s bored and that nothing is happening, look at him and say, 'I agree. So are you going to do something or not?'

It is not the referee’s job during a session to provide excitement for his playing group. His job is to administer the setting and resolve character actions. If the characters are taking no action and are not interacting with the setting, then the referee has literally nothing to do. The players are wasting his time."


Hello Me, Pleased to Meet You...More Dungeonfail

Tonight was a pretty interesting session of Taylor's continuing campaign, in which we further explored the tomb of Sayn, and did not depart from our habit of ending up going in circles!

As far as exploration goes, this dungeon is pretty vanilla...corridor, room, corridor, room, secret door, corridor, trapped door, etc.. Most people know this type of exploration all too well, and I can say it's sometimes refreshing to just be dungeoncrawling.

Kedereckt has maneuvered us well through the place, keeping us from suffering too much when it comes to traps, but at times failing to spot the things, like the dart fusillade trap that peppered Chymond and Kedereckt with something along the lines of 15 darts, total.

The highlight of the night, however, came when a vampire spawn was able to dominate Kedereckt, and ordered him to kill us all. Steve took to the task, but didn't get far before Oth was able to clear the area of the bloodsuckers and I overrode the dominate with one of my own.

Not much later, we encountered yet another group of spawn, and one of their numbers was able to gain hold of Kedereckt again, and another tried to take Oth, but his draconic heritage made him immune.

I took over one of the spawn with a command undead, but ended up losing control of an owlbear skeleton I had commanded earlier, which then began attacking Xulira. We drove off the rest of the spawn, but now I have the one that dominated Kedereckt under my control, and...by proxy...the Assassin, himself.

We left off after that battle, hoping to find a safe room to catch enough rest to regain spells and much needed hit points.

While this report is short, it's simply due to the fact that I'm tired. We accomplished quite a bit, or at least it felt like we had some pretty steady play.

Cast of Characters
Chymond Veg "The Bronze Vassal," Dwarf Cleric 7 - Me
Oth Ixen, Kobold Wizard 8 - David B.
Kedereckt, Human Rogue 5/Assassin 3 - Steve C.
Xulira Shiesril, Drow Warlock 5/Demonbinder 1 - Angela


Who is Lord Laeryndaal?!

This past Sunday, I ran my usual Pathfinder/Wilderlands game.

The group's foray into the caves originally led them to entering the wrong entrance, finding instead a locked door leading to the hobgoblin chambers, and a (presumably, anyway) hobgoblin on the other side, sight unseen, who refused to open the door and basically told them to move along. The party let this go without challenge, since they were looking for the Gnoll cave to begin with, and wished to beat the party of City-Staters that were on their way to purge the non-human "threat."

Once the party found their destination, it became clear quick that they were too late, the Gnolls set to guard the entrance had been slaughtered, and after venturing forth a bit further, they discovered another corpse, but a store room adjacent to the area they found the body was able to shelter a little over a dozen members of the tribe, who were able to tell the group which way their assailants went.

Tracking the arrogant kid and his party down a long corridor, they became privy to a disheartening sight, arriving just in time to see the main living chamber of the Gnolls, which also served as their nursery, fireballed. Before the backwash of the flames had even died down, Chas charged, and entered melee with a large armored figure, the rest of the group following his lead and engaging in what ways they could, both from range (when able) and moving into hand-to-hand, though the fight was a tight one, and not much maneuverability could be accomplished.

The fighting was fierce, with the PCs gaining the advantage by way of a Color Spray provided by Jadazh, stunning half the villanous group and forcing them onto the defensive. This only lasted a short time, however, and the tight quarters became an advantage to the other party when their mage pulled out a scroll and placed an invisible, unbreakable wall between the PC party and themselves, trapping Jadazh on their side, and attempting to whittle away at him before moving on.

A Spiritual Weapon cast by Borash before the Wall of Force went up slowed the progress of the enemy, and they eventually cut their losses, leaving two dead as they used a magic item to transport out, the large, armored figure having stated that "Lord Laeryndaal would be displeased with their failure."

After this, the PCs went to the surviving Gnolls and spoke with them briefly, which led to them saying that "Those that walk when dead" were located in a nearby cave. This set Borash off, as he is an adamant slayer of undead, and he was able to convince the party to go with him to rid the caves of that menace.

When we left off, the group had just encountered some Zombies in the caves the Gnolls has indicated, and they were all left wondering who Lord Laeryndaal was and what he wanted with who in the party.

This coming Sunday should be fun!


Old TV Meme (Because I'm Killing Time)

The Rules: Bold all of the following TV shows which you've ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime.
Italicise a show if you're positive you've seen every episode of it.
Underline the ones you own copies of.
If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order).

7th Heaven
8 Simple Rules
Aeon Flux
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Babylon 5: Crusade
Batman: The Animated Series
Battlestar Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Beavis & Butthead
Beverly Hills 90210
Blake's 7
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boston Public
Boy Meets World
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug Juice
Caitlin's Way
Chappelle's Show
Charlie's Angels
Clarissa Explains It All
Commander in Chief
Coupling [UK]
Cowboy Bebop
Crossing Jordan
CSI: Miami
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dancing with the Stars (I was watching with a gf, ok!)
Danny Phantom
Dark Angel
Dark Skies
Davinci's Inquest
Dawson's Creek
Dead Like Me
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Dharma & Greg
Different Strokes
Doctor Who
Due South
Earth 2
Everybody Loves Raymond
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Facts of Life
Family Guy
Family Ties
Father Ted
Fawlty Towers
Flash Forward
Freaks and Geeks
Friday Night Lights
Get Smart
Gilligan's Island
Gilmore Girls
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Green Wing
Grey's Anatomy
Growing Pains
Hannah Montana
Happy Days
Hill Street Blues
Hogan's Heroes
Home Improvement
Homicide: Life on the Street
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Instant Star
Invader Zim
Hell's Kitchen
John Doe
Just Shoot Me
Keen Eddie
LA Law
Law & Order
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Law & Order: SVU
Laverne and Shirley
Life With Derek
Little House on the Prairie
Lizzie McGuire
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Lost in Space
Love, American Style
Malcolm in the Middle
Married... With Children
Melrose Place
Miami Vice
Mission: Impossible (the '60s series)
Mission: Impossible (the '80s series)
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Mork & Mindy
Murphy Brown
My Life as a Dog
My So-Called Life
My Super Sweet 16
My Three Sons
My Two Dads
North Shore
One Tree Hill
Perry Mason
Phil of the Future
Power Rangers
Prison Break
Project Runway
Quantum Leap
Queer As Folk (US)
Queer as Folk (UK)
Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) (Original Series)
Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) (New Series)
Red Dwarf
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Road Rules
Salute Your Shorts
Saved by the Bell
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Sex and the City
Six Feet Under
Slings & Arrows
So Weird
South Park
Space 1999
Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Spongebob Squarepants
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Enterprise
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Teen Titans
That 70's Show
That's So Raven
The 4400
The Addams Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The Apprentice
The A-Team
The Avengers
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Brady Bunch
The Cosby Show
The Daily Show
The Dead Zone
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Famous Jet Jackson
The Flintstones
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Golden Girls
The Honeymooners
The Invisible Man (1975 - David Mccallum )
The Invisible man (2000 - Vincent Ventresca)
The Jeffersons
The Jetsons
The L Word
The Love Boat
The Lucille Ball Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mighty Boosh
The Monkees
The Munsters
The Mythbusters
The O.C.
The Office (UK)
The Office (US)
The Pretender
The Real World
The Shield
The Simpsons
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sopranos
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Twilight Zone
The Venture Brothers
The Waltons
The West Wing
The Wire
The Wonder Years
The X-Files
Third Watch
Three's Company
Top Gear (UK)
Top Gear (US)
Twin Peaks
Twitch City
Two and A Half Men
Ugly Betty
Veronica Mars
Vicar of Dibley
Whose Line is it Anyway? [US]
Whose Line is it Anyway? [UK]
Will and Grace
Without a Trace
WKRP in Cincinnati
Xena: Warrior Princess
Yes Minister
Yes Prime Minister

I am not ashamed of how much TV I've watched, but there are a few shows on this list I'm not particularly proud of. Makes me wonder how many hours of TV I've watched...

Sucker Punch: A Non-Review

Today, in celebration(?) of my birthday, I went to the movies with David and Dave to see Sucker Punch. This movie has not seen stellar reviews at all, and while I can see why, I don't think many of the reviewers really gave the movie a fair shake, or they went in with preconceived notions. It plays out a little like Pulp Fiction meets various anime meets Kurosawa's Dreams.

The casting was good, acting was a little stilted in the first half, but the cinematography was gorgeous. The film was well directed and, to me, at least...well written, and it had a pretty rockin' soundtrack. For those who don't know, the movie follows a young woman who is put in an asylum and then retreats into a fantasy world to escape the reality of what she's enduring and also to try to focus her intent to escape.

In the lead character's (called Babydoll) fantasy world, she fights spirit-animated samurai armor, steampunk Nazis, and a dragon, to name a few menaces, and ends up getting what basically is a quest item that will aid in her escape in the end.

The whole time, I couldn't help but think "Wow, this would be cool in a game" when it cut to the fantasy segments, but then I started focusing on the concept of the movie itself, and wondered what a game would play like in which you're perfectly normal most of the time, but can slip into another reality...a dreamscape or whatever, in which you never really know what you'll have to do or where you'll be, but there's always a task or something driving you, then you snap back to reality once you accomplish it or perhaps even at random.

I know there are games out there that use the concept, or something similar to it, at least. Anyone out there played in them? If so, what are some of the difficulties of games of that nature?

Do any of them present something more than a normal person in the real world? Like a superhero who falls into a weird vampire dream state or something...


Flawless Victory! Your Opponent....Ran Away...

There's no doubt that killing for experience is now considered the norm in modern D&D games and their simulacra (Pathfinder fits that label, right?) Combat experience is sometimes the only type given in some of these games, and it is almost certainly what sticks out in most new players' minds as the key to advancement, until they have a firmer grasp on the game.

This is not to say everyone runs their campaigns like this, but before I digress, I'll state that campaign style is not the focus of this post. Instead, I want to touch on something that I find to be missing from most modern rules sets: morale.

When I started playing AD&D 2nd Edition, Paul - who showed me the ropes of DMing - utilized a simple system, using a d6 (if I remember correctly,) that I believe was derived from published TSR rules. I remember him checking at milestones like 1/3rd combatants fallen, leader taken out, etc., and possibly even giving bonuses if a PC had dropped and so forth.

I like that. It makes sense in the context of the world. If you have the advantage, you press it. Once you lose that advantage, you hit fight or flight. A good morale system can simulate those responses fairly well, and I think it does nothing but add to the game's enjoyment, realism (which I care about, but not to a fault) and overall flavor (especially if, for some reason, say, ogres always seem to roll breaks, you might come up with lore stating they're craven, and never fight if they lose the advantage.)

At any rate, I want to find or make a workable morale system for use in my Pathfinder game. I want it to be somewhat simple, but I would like, also, for it to present more options than "stay and fight" and "run away." Maybe a parley result or surrender.

I'll definitely be posting more on that, as I think I might want to design my own, or at least take the skeleton of something I find and slap some meat on it...but before I sign off on this one, I want to touch on one more thing...

When awarding experience for encounters in which a morale system is used, and the npcs run away or cede victory, I would like to give full xp, but what if these same npcs are faced once again, or even multiple times? I don't want to keep dishing out xp for the same group encountered, or do I? With the shift of experience progression to the "Slow" chart, something like that would do very little to impact overall progression, so I might go ahead and award full for those that get away/give up the fight. Always in the past, I've given 1/2 or less in those instances.

As always, comments are welcome.