A Word On Group/Character Cohesion

I know I've already griped about how character creation went for the Dark Heresy game last night, but I have a few more things I want to hit on, that I feel will affect the overall tone and perhaps enjoyment of the game, itself.

The issue is character cohesion.

Last night, I kept saying I would like for everyone to take group cohesion into mind, and after some thought, I really meant character cohesion. The group, I feel, could be interpreted as us as the players, which I don't think we'll have problems with at all. The group as a whole has been gaming together for years, and though we might disagree on things time to time, we certainly don't try to derail each other'a playing of the games, so that's a non-issue.

No, I was more pushing for character cohesion...complimentary skills and talents that would help cover the weaknesses of the other members of the group. Instead, we have half-melee oriented party, with me almost neglecting combat completely, and Taylor's character being a grenade chukker. I didn't get to look over skills and talents, so it might not be as bad as I envision it, but I'm seeing huge gaps that need to be covered early on, and I'm not sure who is going to fill them.

I know it seems unreasonable to think that they would need to be filled, or that people would need to build X character. It's true, I don't want anyone to play something they don't want to play just to cover a specific weakness, and David, who is running the game, doesn't either, else he would have restricted our creation choices...so I guess it just boils down to me being miffed at everyone ignoring my call for cohesive building.

Part of it is that I'm trying to figure out why an Inquisitor would send out a team of Acolytes consisting of a melee Assassin, a grenade throwing Assassin, an Arbite mostly skilled in "Public Relations" (shouting more than shooting/beating,) and a Guardsman prone to shredding people with a chainsword. Sure, I think we'll all have fun, but someone's either going to be hurt when a grenade is thrown into a crowd where the guardman and meleeAss are, or Taylor's going to have to forgo actions, and if everyone is insanely martial, how often am I going to be able to employ my social skills?

Dark Heresy is just the kind of game where I feel things like that are more important than they are in games like D&D. My two cents. Not like I don't think it's not going to be a blast or anything. I truly enjoy the game.

Character Creation In The Grim, Dark Future

As mentioned before, Taylor has ended his 3.5 game, and the group settled on David's Dark Heresy game to come next, so we converged at Angela and Taylor's to create characters for our forays into the second book of The Haarlock Legacy - Damned Cities!

There were a few problems with character creation last night, not the least of which being that we only had one week between ending one game and jumping to the next. We certainly take gaming seriously, and have no problems in the transition itself, but...more than anything, this just caused a jam because the copy I had ordered of the Core Rulebook didn't arrive yesterday, like was my hope, leaving us with just one book to build four characters from.

We let Angela use the books the most last night, since she was the newest player to the system, but when it came down to it, David, Taylor, and I couldn't remember too much, and Steve could remember even less about the system, because it has been about two years since we touched the system at all.

Taking in all the hang-ups and time it takes to build a character, even with a familiarity to the system, I can honestly say that, unless some gamers are definitely into 40k as a whole, I just don't see Dark Heresy, and by extension, the other three games Fantasy Flight has in the 40k line, as a good beginner's game. The price, at one time, may have been an issue with me, but I feel that you get the quality you would expect, as well as a tome chock full of game, but at the same time, I'm an adult, with a steady job, who isn't really hurting at the moment. If I were me 15 years ago and glanced at the game, I wouldn't give it a second look after seeing the price, except maybe to tell others to buy it for me for Christmas or birthday.

Then, if I did get it, and I tried to get my friends to learn this game, and get everyone to make characters, I could see it taking multiple sessions just getting that done, even if I had brushed up on the character creation rules. There's just too much back and forth looking at skills and talents for advancement, especially if you want anything beyond rank one, and that's not to mention the pages upon pages of gear that can be selected, especially weapons! Which, sadly, aren't always in the same section of any given book.

So, if I had managed to slog through character creation without losing all my players, and it came time to select gear (assuming they had more than a few thrones,) then that would be more page turning to deal with. If anything hindered us more than the lack of multiple books and our own time-forced ignorance, then it was the poor layout of the supplements available. It's very frustrating glancing over an armor, say, as you're after something else, then when you try to find it again, you have to run through 7 or 8 different armor sections to find the right one!

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Once I found what I wanted, it wasn't terrible to stat up a Rank 4 character, and more than likely, if we had been making Rank 1 characters, then this would have been much easier and less time consuming. I'm just the type of person who loves building characters, and this time, it just wasn't enjoyable to me.

Next week, however, we delve into the corruption of Sinophia!


Player Wiles? Wilderland Woes.

It took me a few days to post the session recap for last Sunday, not because I wasn't getting around to it, no...I had come on and began to type more than a few times, but didn't. The real reason it took me so long to post was because I just didn't enjoy what I was about to post.

You see, I began my Pathfinder Wilderlands game with the stated premise that the PCs would have a base of operations and would venture outward from there, seeking fortune and adventure!

This model has collapsed the past three sessions, and with it, some of my excitement for the game.

It's disheartening to feel this way, and I'm not pulling a shroud over the game's corpse or anything just yet, but the game is just moving from the original direction that I intended, one of a Sandbox style game, to more of a story-driven direction, and it's ultimately not what I want. Not to the extent that it's going, anyway.

Of course, I want there to be a backdrop story. I want the world to be dynamic, but I also want the game to center on the things that should be important...adventuring and gathering wealth and power. Is there a compromise here? Should I just bite the bullet and play it through and see what happens? Are Sandbox play and Story-driven play mutually exclusive from each other?

I'm not sure. I'm simply a minor theorist. I leave the heavy lifting in that arena to the people who care much more than I do, but what I do want is to understand the game, and while doing so, understand my players and their wants, as well as to learn what I like and want, something I'm not sure I have a firm grasp of, despite my 15 years in the hobby.

I'm just typing out loud here, but I do have worries that if the game continues to go in this direction, that I'll lose interest in it, and on many levels I don't think that's fair to my players or myself, but I do like to hold the integrity of any game I run or play in to the original model.


Two Days' Walk And A Hammer

Sunday, we picked up the Wilderlands campaign where we left off, without Dave or Travis (surprise, surprise!)

With the political situation in Bugbear Falls like it is, and the encroachment of a new blight to the area, the party spent plenty of time in deliberation as to what they wanted to do, and how they would go about doing it.

This took up much of the session.

Once a decision was made, and after arguing back and forth about its merits, the group decided to follow Lucius' lead to the south to collect the services of an Ogre tribe in the siege of The Falls that will act as a distraction as the group infiltrates and decapitates the corruption, after rooting it out.

Shortly after departing from Eldam's camp, while traversing the crescent of farmlands near Bugbear Falls, the group had two Ceustodaemons (basically tough beater-style summon fodder for the Four Horsemen) summoned into their midst by an unknown source! They finished the fiends off, banishing them back to their home plane, but not before losing a couple of NPC comrades, one being Se'ah, to the massive trauma caused by the daemons' frosty breath weapons.

After taking refuge in a nearby farmhouse after the fight, we all had a pretty good laugh when Steve realized that Jadazh had left one of his retainers out in the field, unconscious. Fortunately, the lad had been left unmolested by creatures of the wild, and was able to sleep off some of his injuries under the stars.

The band had decided to ferry across the river Modron at Hyyap, and with but a day before getting there, they ran across a mutated mass of thick, bright green, vines...which apparently bit Jadazh when he approached them, but in actuality hid a talkative, deceptive, and greedy Aranea, who was quick to tell the party that the vines were theirs, then upon failing to bring Jadazh and Chas under its sway, began to try to convince the group that it was a cursed human child.

The initial attacks by the creature on the party led the group to continue its assault, and then seek whatever the spider-thing was searching for under the vines once it was dispatched. Surprisingly, the creature held what is perhaps the most valuable piece of treasure recovered by them...a magical hammer! The hammer's distinctive look - an angel, wings spread and forming the head of the hammer - sparked a memory in Jadazh of a story he had heard or read about the weapon, it having been crafted over a millennium ago by arcanists loyal to the Invincible Overlord to combat the demonic legions summoned by the World Emperor's own wizards, but lost in The Demon Siege while weilded by a City-State general named Arikin.

Such a great find was hard for Jadazh to conceal, for after the group made it to Hyyap, and they were taking their meals, he hefted the weapon up while speaking, drawing every eye in the tavern to its soft glow.

The party was about to settle themselves for the night before taking a ferry across the gap, and then continuing on to "The Twist," where the ogre tribe supposedly lives, according to Lucius.


An End To A Menace And A Campaign And What's Next

And so, tonight, after long sessions slogging through the depths of the secure sanctums the kobold tribe held for their "lord," we finally met the beast, and were surprised not that it was a dragon, but that it was a green dragon!

Though Chymond originally made offerings of negotiation to the as-yet-unseen "lord," the creature was apparently paranoid, and voraciousness in its appetite led it to disregard any diplomacy and immediately attack, utilizing its breath to good effect against our grouped-up party.

Chymond had cast Shield Other on his companions, and Oth had followed up with Mass Fire Shield, setting the party up for an extended engagement in which the dragon would take damage if it attacked, and less damage would be put into those attacked, save for Chymond, whose role in the fight was basically to stand back and heal himself to keep up with the damage output.

Within just a few rounds, and after tons of devastating attacks, our side just narrowly won out, the dragon's body sinking into his extra-dimensional mire, likely to haunt us again....

...but not in the near future.

Taylor ended his campaign on that note, telling us that it's possible we might revisit it, if we ever cared to, but that, for the most part, he had said all he wanted to with the campaign, and that anything he did after would just feel forced, and more of the same.

Though there is always a small sense of sadness along with the end of a game/retirement of the characters within, our group is not giving up Friday gaming, and we have excitement building for a Dark Heresy game that David is planning to run. Character creation is next week, when we assemble our rag-tag band of Acolytes to tackle the 2nd book of the Haarlock Legacy!

For those wondering why we're playing the 2nd book, back in 2009, David ran a rather large group of us through the first book, which ended in a few characters (mine included) revealing that they all had a different idea of what we felt the Emperor wanted, and so it ended up that we didn't save the day, and Taylor's Cleric and my Psyker were the last ones standing, with a "the Empire will never know..." ending.
I had thought I had blogged about the campaign, but I'm not finding it. Sad, since it was certainly memorable!


Celebrity Gaming

While doing some research earlier into game design, I ran across a few articles that spoke of celebs like Seth Rogen, Patton Oswalt, and even Stephen King as possible Magic: The Gathering players.

It's pretty much public knowledge that Vin Diesel was (is?) a D&D player, and others such as Stephen Colbert and Lauren Graham have mentioned playing, too, if I'm not mistaken.

So, taking that into account, why don't we know about more? The law of averages says that there are many more celebs that enjoy tabletop gaming of some sort, but why do they not come forward with it?

Personally, I think it would be awesome, and tying in to my post a few days ago about shy players, might even help some of those people who are still in their shell come out once they see someone famous enjoys the hobby, and it would definitely draw a larger crowd to the games played by the celebs.

I certainly hope that the 'geek' stigma isn't what keeps them from mentioning their gaming preferences and pasts. That would be rather tragic. Everyone should be able to enjoy our great hobby.

Anyone out there know of certain celebs that play CCGs or RPGs?


To Siege, Or Not To Siege? That Is The Question!

As I spoke of in yesterday's post, one of the ideas put forth by the group to settle the matters happening in Bugbear Falls was to put an elite strike team (them) in the city, and have a force besiege to create a distraction, letting them have easier access to the inner bailey, and thus, the keep.

Now, I'm not one to hinder my player's options, so if that's what they want to do, and they come up with the means to do it, then more power to them! However, one thing that I am, is inexperienced with running anything like a siege.

I have, in the past, ran sessions that included mass numbers of combatants/troops, but those were ran with large-ish skirmishes instead of actually running military-like confrontations, with squads, battalions, etc.

I've tentatively looked into the rules presented for mass combat in the Miniatures Handbook and in Heroes of Battle, but need to read further to fully grasp what they entail. I also have a copy of 2nd Edition's Combat & Tactics, but something in the back of my mind is telling me that that way lies only complexity. Having said that, and though I am running a d20 based game, I am certainly willing to look at other system's rules or suggestions for mass combat/sieges.

Maybe there's something out there, perhaps even something I own, that I'm overlooking.


This Hive of Scum and Villainy Ain't So Bad!

Today we convened for our usual Wilderlands game minus Dave P. and Travis, but having regained Steve, which is a shame, because our two newest players may have had quite a bit to add to this session. Much plotting and intrigue is afoot!

As we opened, the group had just dispatched a basilisk and Lucius made a sketch of the suspected Fey Gate that Chas had found in the earliest days of the campaign. After doing so, just when he was about to exit, Lucius caught the light scent of wet earth and flowers, making him think that the Gate had been activated in the past few hours. This information he kept to himself, and with the (in Chas' case, eager) blessings of the group, all headed back toward the area of Bugbear Falls, with the intention of searching for River Wilds, the former Captain of the Watch.

Seeking to include Jadazh in their search, the party then went toward the gates of the city, when an explosion erupted from within. At the group's guildhouse, a messenger had arrived with what he claimed was a message for Gabrielle, which, when flipped over, and the wax seal read by one of Jadazh's axemen (I can't remember which, I can't find the sheet with Steve's NPCs,) an explosion was triggered that took the life of him and the messenger, and hurt the orc, Kizziar, and several bystanders in the street outside, as well as a few watchmen.

The party rushed into the city toward their house, where Jadazh and Kizziar explained what had happened first to them, then to the new Captain of the Watch, Praetor Donnlo and a few of his higher-ranking watchmen after they arrived on scene. Praetor did a cursory search of the house, then left after a few more words with the group, telling them he would find them if he needed to. However, dusk loomed, and not wanting to be trapped in town for the night with people obviously wanting to do away with them, the party gathered all their belongings and hirelings, cleared their accounts with the bank, and headed out of town and toward the hills north of the keep.

During their travels north, as the party skirted the farmlands that feed The Falls, they encountered many instances of a blight known as Nettlevine that, according to the tome Chas took from the carved temple near the Caves of Chaos, is the product of fell magic, and is hard to remove once it has asserted itself in flora and fauna.

The local farmlands hadn't been the only things, affected, the group soon found, as when they fell an owlbear on their first morning out, and began to clean the thing for possible breakfast, they found lesions under it's skin, and a thin film of black mold-looking material, though Gabrielle ate some with the intent of consuming less of the group's resources, holding to her divinely-granted immunity to diseases for protection.

Packing up that morning and heading out further into the mountains, it wasn't long before our company was set upon by Eldam's right-hand Gnome, Co, and after some deliberation they were led to a camp where the bandit lord and his men, plus River, and Gabrielle's squires, had all sequestered themselves and were already discussing the matters in the region, including the mysterious blighting and the political environment in Bugbear Falls.

This, then, is when things turned serious, with many an idea floating about sieges, precision strikes, diversions, etc. to root out the heart of what appears to be corruption in Bugbear Falls! This was pretty engaging, and it was fun listening to my players deliberate some rather extreme options. It really shone through that they care for some of the NPCs featured in the campaign, and they care about Bugbear Falls, partially because it is their home, but for more than just that. There is certainly an investment in roleplay there.

We left off with the deliberation still going, and I look forward to next session. What lengths will the PCs go to ensure peace and prosperity in their corner of the Wilderlands?!


To Be, Or Not To Be...A Roleplayer

Last night was the culmination of a week-long acting camp that my brother's youngest boy took part in, in which the troupe performed 2 versions of Hamlet (Through A Glass, Dimly & Quarto Hour,) and one girl did Kate's famous monologue from As You Like It.

Overall, I found the production to be light-hearted and fun, though I would have liked the first rendition to have been less condensed, but I digress. The reason I write this is because as I sat there, I thought of how many of those kids would make great roleplayers, but would likely never pick up any rpgs in their life.

As I sat with my family, one of the performers, a young girl, was sitting in front of us at her cue, and my brother leaned forward and asked if she was nervous. She said yes, and she fidgeted and rocked quite a bit, but once her part came, she was quick, and did well to carry her voice out. Then, in the second version of Hamlet, she did well again, as did they all, in acting out their parts.

While I understand that acting and roleplaying are not one and the same, and that if they did happen to play, dicing actions might be the thing to turn them off, I certainly think that it's a shame that more performers don't pick up rpgs, as a whole.

I've noticed through my years of playing, that all it takes to get quiet players to come out of their shells is to have another player at the table who is boisterous and will encourage others' roleplaying. Someone who is already sure of themselves when it comes to speaking in front of groups would only help this great hobby we share.

In fact, I can thank D&D some for my coming out of my shell. It helped me quite a bit that I could see the people I played with flub it up and then laugh it off, but never lose confidence in their play, and continue their railing against the king or what have you.

So, if any of you know actors, choir members, politicians, or musicians (or anyone who speaks/performs publicly,) encourage them to pick up some dice and join this great hobby of ours!

Oh, and btw...my nephew died, and he did so loudly and with little grace. I am very proud!

Musical Inspiration, vol. 7 - Noobie Noobinson

Today's auditory feast is "Meridian Nights (Noobie's Grim Dark Future Remix)" brought to you by the group Noobie Noobinson, and is from the Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2 soundtrack.

The song has no vocals except for an opening monologue by, presumably, a Space Marine, and a few later repeated quotes by the same, but it evokes a feel for the universe that I think carried a bit better than the very militaristic symphonic tracks on the soundtrack.

Have a listen, let it fill your mind with an arriving fleet accompanying a Battle Barge, and let that inspire your next session of Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, or DeathWatch!

I've included the monologue's text in case you happen to miss any of it.

Sub-Sector Aurelia. This cluster of worlds stands on the very edge of the Imperium of Man. From this frontier came the Blood Ravens - a chapter of the Emperor's own Space Marines. Now savage aliens seek to overrun the sector and break the Blood Ravens once and for all.

Purge the alien

Remember - death is the servant of the righteous

Purge the alien

*As always, I don't own this, blah blah blah.


Guns: Do They Deserve A Place In Your RPG?

This, I think, is just as old a debate as the whole Sci-Fi in Fantasy thing, and really? It's just boils down to how much peanut butter you like in your chocolate, and I'm a fan of Reese's cups!

No, really...I am, but I digress.

I've never really been a purist when it comes to my fantasy. As someone who was first introduced to RPGs through games like Crystalis and Final Fantasy, I had always just assumed a certain level of tech was A-OK, and then I started gaming, and some of the people I encountered were so strict about it, to the point where I wonder if they would consider even sighting modifications for crossbows.

And so it was that, for a very long time, unless the game was sci-fi or modern or something of a similar vein, no signs of higher tech, and especially not guns, were encountered in my playing experience.

While I didn't get to play a character in the first game I'd encountered to incorporate firearms, all that I had missed out on came to the fore when I started running a campaign set in the Forgotten Realms with a slightly advanced timeline (compared to the 3.x FRCS.)

In that campaign, a group in Lantan had gotten the breakthrough that was actual gunpowder, and swiftly began manufacturing (relatively) cheap guns, of which my pal Zack's Scout owned 2. Pistols, to be exact, which he further modified in-game to be 4-chambered revolvers.

My initial reservations mostly were with the damage output of firearms, and how, at early-to-mid levels, not only were the weapons devastating in the hands of PCs, but they could end an adventuring career quickly if the opposing team had them.

And though what I feared is most certainly true, and was almost made manifest a few times, including firearms also added a certain mystery to tech that I feel, in some cases, rivaled magic, and even if the weapons were amazingly destructive, it was tempered by the fact that my players were big boys and could handle a character death, and the simple fact that the things, while cheaper than a normal gun in the realms, was still prohibitively expensive, meaning that not everyone was toting a long tom around to supplement their swords.

The whole reason I'm even talking about this is the release of Ultimate Combat for the Pathfinder RPG, and the rules for the Gunslinger class and large list of firearms available.

Though I feel that the Gunslinger can tilt a little on the unbalanced side, I'm not one to care about that, really, and I don't see it as a fault. The abilities are well thought-out and flavorful, many of them reminiscent of spaghetti western action and tropes. They even have a "Mysterious Stranger" archetype with an ability called No Name. Classic stuff.

The weapons themselves, I have very little issues with, and while I, personally, wouldn't include all the guns provided in the weapon chapter, I certainly wouldn't balk at including a few, and perhaps conceding one or two to a player who wanted to manufacture some of the more ambitious (and powerful) weapons.

I think that guns can make a powerful and mysterious weapon for a fantasy campaign, and I embrace the chance to throw interesting things in my game to give my players something new and surprising. I'm the kind of DM that will throw Warforged Titans that can transform into Lightning Rail troop transports into my game, so yeah...

I can understand if it's not your thing, but I would recommend the Pathfinder rules for the use of firearms if you are running a game derivative of the 3.x system. It's streamlined and designed well enough that you can drop any of it into your game with little to no work on your part.


A Gaming Experiment: World of Darkness Text Game

On Monday, June 13th, the first messages were sent out to 6 of my 7 players for a World of Darkness Mortals campaign ran entirely via text messaging (save for one international player, who plays via IM.)

In mid-May, David B. and I had been discussing various game concepts played via email and various electronic media, and what we wanted to do with the ideas. While his concept seems alot more ambitious (and overall alot more awesome) than mine, I decided to jump on a game ran via texts using the new World of Darkness for the rulesset, since the mechanics are very simple and fluid, and would take the least amount of resolution for actions.

The simplicity of rules systems was a bonus for two reasons: One, I didn't want to bog my players (some of which hadn't played traditional rpgs) with rules and complicated character creation, and two...I wanted to keep the rules out of the game for my players almost completely.

And so, after two or three weeks of character creation and deliberation of systems and syntax for messaging within the game, we began.

At first, everyone responded rapidly and the enthusiasm was there for the game and the characters, and then posting slowed gradually, some players seemingly dropping out altogether.

It's been three weeks since the last game-related text was sent, but I'm not ready to abandon the game just yet, I just think some of the enthusiasm needs to be recaptured, mainly by me, and then we can be back up and running.

Since the players don't really interact with the rules, except to choose xp expenditures, they can focus on what they want their characters to do while I handle all the behind the scenes stuff. This, I think will also aid in getting some momentum back into the game, since it's easy to just pick back up where you left off.

So, this is a call to my players who read this thing: The game will resume as soon as I collect some of my notes and get back on track!

Anyone who wants in on this game, the only book players need access to is the World of Darkness Core, and that's only for character generation. Everything else is done via texts/IM.


Pathfinder... Do I Need One To Navigate Paizo Products?

As any of you who have read my posts may know, I'm running a sandbox set in the Wilderlands, using Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder RPG. While I have no problems with the game itself, or the rules Paizo provides, I've recently come across something that I feel I'm probably not alone in, and that's the navigation of the various Pathfinder product lines.

You see, I use the Pathfinder RPG rules, but my game isn't set in their Golarion world, and so I'm not using their Campaign Setting line. I'm running a sandbox campaign, so I'm not using their Adventure Path line, and since I'm not using those lines, and my game also incorporates 3.x books as resources, it kind of obviates the need for the Player Companion lines (though, I must admit I've not looked too deeply into that line.)

However, when Amazon dot com tipped me off that there's a book coming out about The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I got excited and started looking, since my current game has some ties to those fellows who ride colorful ponies.

I couldn't recall the name of the book when I went to Paizo's website, however, and it wasn't presented on the home page of the Pathfinder game, so I had to look. I used the search bar and skimmed the entries and thought that perhaps I had been mistaken, since I didn't see the book at first glance...but on my second look at the list, I saw it was #2 in the results, but the title was prefaced by "Pathfinder Campaign Setting:"

That's why I overlooked it in the first place, honestly. I first gleaned Paizo's lore behind the Horsemen in the Bestiary 2, and thought that a book that would highlight a specific type of archfiend would be included in their core line, but that was not the case.

If I had been a lazier person, I would have skipped it altogether and probably just chalked it up to misremembering the Amazon email.

I do understand the marketing reason behind separating the Pathfinder lines. It simplifies the consumer's choices when dealing with specific products, gives them exactly what they're looking for in regards to the type of product they wish to see, and makes it easy to search for the products desired.

However, I feel that they fail in that last task more because some of those products seem to walk the line between categories. I hope I'm not alone in this, but I just felt like this book is something more akin to a specialized bestiary, like the Fiendish Codices were for 3.5, which should put them in the core line, instead of setting material.

It's a small complaint, I realize, but my enthusiasm was taken down a notch at just that minor snag. Combine that with the fact that it being a setting book almost makes me give it a pass, if it weren't for the reasonable price I feel Paizo offers for it (64 pages, $19.99.)

Anyway, am I being ridiculous with this? I certainly don't think so, but then...I like to be a little more frugal with my gaming dollar these days.


Baby Steps, Bob, Baby Steps

Earlier, I posted about ways in which I could help the blog along, and I hit on one almost immediately...a name change!

Of course, the domain will remain the same, but from now on this blog will be known as Greathammer Gaming, in homage to the moniker I chose for the shop when I took it over from Tony until I closed it.

The reason for this was simply because too many other blogs shared the name, and I wanted something that was a bit more unique.

So, here we are, and I want to promise that I will continue to bring you the same kinds of material I have presented in the past, as well as new fuel for your gaming brains.

If any of you are returning visitors, please continue to do so. There's a lot more to come!

The Secret To A Successful Blog, or Things I Don't Know

Today, as I was driving to work, I was thinking about the things that make a gaming blog work, and what I could do to increase readership, etc.

I don't claim to be the most prolific updater, but neither are some of the guys whose blogs I read.
I don't claim to have the coolest content, but I don't feel I'm the worst out there, by far.
I don't even claim to fully understand my readership, but I do love gaming and sharing my experiences and ideas, and I think those are the most important requirements for what I do with this thing.

So, where do I go wrong?
Posting schedule is obvious. It's easier for someone to follow what you have to say if you say it more often. To that end, starting this past Saturday, I made a decision to post daily when at all possible.
"Advertising" by putting my blog in my forums signatures, on my Facebook (maybe) and anywhere I can get it might help, but is that really a viable way to get readers? Also, it seems a little shameless.
I don't think I need to change the content. I'm happy with my subject matter and I don't feel like I do things too much differently than some of the best out there do, and besides...without my own content, people would lose interest quickly.

Basically, I'm just typing out loud here. During my heaviest traffic times, I have only boasted 9 regular readers, and while that's awesome, I would certainly like to have a little more regular traffic.
I've wondered at times what it is that I do wrong, so if anyone out there happens to read this and has suggestions, I would be more than happy to hear how to improve this blog.


Love is in the Air...Springtime, Wilderlands Style!

And so tonight was another foray for our recently expanded group into the Wilderlands!

The party has recently returned from an excursion west, past the Adder Copse as far as the village of Trenth, where they declined to intervene with a political dispute between two local powers, that could possibly involve a third.

Upon returning to Bugbear Falls, however, it quickly became apparent that things were rapidly changing in the political scene of the keep, and that there were too many things happening for it to all just be coincidence and normal restructuring.

First, it was found that Rayyid the merchant's nephew, Sayib, was hung from spikes affixed to the inner bailey walls after being killed for a failed assassination attempt on Dal Lago, and that Rayyid has since been M.I.A..

Then, after Chas had a less than friendly meeting with Vic Tappas, the Bailiff of the keep, and Praetor Donnlo, the former Corporal of the Watch, it is discovered that River Wilds, the Captain of the Watch, was "promoted" to Watch Errant Captain...a duty that removes him from the city on an almost constant basis, and that Corporal Donnlo has become Captain of the Watch.

And if that wasn't enough, Honorable Justice Sollas excommunicated Gabrielle, though his magic didn't strip her Paladin abilities, giving creedence to the fact that something has gone terribly wrong, and he is not acting in the graces of Iomedae any longer.

All of this culminated in tempers flaring and inquisitive minds, leading the group to follow Lucius' lead....to the Fey Gate?

And so our intrepid adventurers set out into the wilds to find the Gate, much to a nervous Chas' chagrin, since he and Jadazh had been warned to not trespass into the affairs of the Fey.

Once there, the party encountered a Basilisk that had taken the shallow cave that the Gate was in as its home, but quick work was made of the beast as Lucius moved forward and, getting the jump on it, killed it swiftly with a well placed hand-crossbow bolt. (This after peppering it with a round from his double crossbow and then winning initiative only to crit, with a kill on the charts!)

And there we left off, with our heroes just outside the cave, save Jadazh, who is still back in Bugbear Falls with the party's NPCs.

Steve couldn't make it for the 2nd week in a row due to being in Michigan, but we have two new players in Dave P. and Travis, and both are a welcome addition to the group.

Current Cast of Characters
Chas DeLong, Male Human Fighter 6 - David B.
Lucius Ember, Male Dhampir Inquisitor 3 - Taylor
Gabrielle Dianthe, Female Aasimar Paladin of Iomedae 4 - Angela
Morg, Male Half-Orc Barbarian 2 - Dave P.
Amberlin, Half-Elf Monk 2 - Travis
Sa'eh, Oracle 3 - David B. controlled NPC


More Musical Inspiration...

The first appearance of this feature all year, and I have to admit, I'm not so sure the song will do much for the average GM.
This Saturday's offering comes from The Prodigy, (not the rapper "Prodigy," but the British dance music outfit.) "Diesel Power" has, since I first heard it while messing with gaming stuff, evoked the image of a fantasy/cyberpunkish rapper/dancer competing in underground literal rap 'battles' which combine rapping with combat, and the better you can incorporate the percussion of hits with the beat of your song, the more props you get.
All kinds of weird stuff. Visually, I'm getting a Full Metal Alchemist vibe, so maybe that will help you get what I'm saying...except mix it with something akin to D&D Bard.

Having said all that, I can't find a full vocal mix of the song, and the originals have been stripped by a Music Group for copyright reasons, so check it out, if you can find the original...

...and instead I present to you something darker, and more suited to a mystery/horror campaign. Perhaps Ravenloft or a World of Darkness game.
This song gives you a full plot outline, and I can see it played out in a variety of rules-sets with minimal work.

Cradle of Filth has many evocative songs that tend to grab my imagination when it comes to gaming, and I have used a few of them as adventure ideas, though I've not gotten around to using this.
Though it's probably imagined, I always get Victorian-esque mental imagery when correlating their music with gaming, making me think Dogs in the Vineyard might be a fun alternative system for running adventures based off CoF music.

"The Moon, she hangs like a cruel portrait
soft winds whisper the bidding of trees
as this tragedy starts with a shattered glass heart
and the Midnightmare trampling of dreams
But oh, no tears please
Fear and pain may accompany Death
But it is desire that shepherds it's certainty
as We shall see..."

She was divinity's creature
That kissed in cold mirrors
A Queen of Snow
Far beyond compare
Lips attuned to symmetry
Sought Her everywhere
Dark liqoured eyes
An Arabian nightmare...

She shone on watercolours
Of my pondlife as pearl
Until those who couldn't have Her
Cut Her free of this World

That fateful Eve when...
The trees stank of sunset and camphor
Their lanterns chased phantoms and threw
An inquisitive glance, like the shadows they cast
On my love picking rue by the light of the moon

Putting reason to flight
Or to death as their way
They crept through woods mesmerized
By the taffeta Ley
Of Her hips that held sway
Over all they surveyed
Save a mist on the rise
(A deadly blessing to hide)
Her ghost in the fog

They raped and left...
(Five men of God)
...Her ghost in the fog

Dawn discovered Her there
Beneath the Cedar's stare
Silk dress torn, Her raven hair
Flown to gown Her beauty bared
Was starred with frost, I knew Her lost
I wept 'til tears crept back to prayer

She'd sworn Me vows in fragrant blood
"Never to part
Lest jealous Heaven stole our hearts"

Then this I screamed:
"Come back to Me for
I was born in love with thee
So why should fate stand inbetween?"

And as I drowned Her gentle curves
With dreams unsaid and final words
I espied a gleam trodden to earth
The Church bell tower key...

The village mourned her by the by
For She'd been a witch
their Men had longed to try
And I broke under Christ seeking guilty signs
My tortured soul on ice

A Queen of Snow
Far beyond compare
Lips attuned to symmetry
Sought Her everywhere
Trappistine eyes
An Arabian nightmare

She was Ersulie possessed
Of a milky white skin
My porcelain Yin
A graceful Angel of Sin

And so for Her...
The breeze stank of sunset and camphor
My lantern chased Her phantom and blew
Their Chapel ablaze and all locked in to a pain
Best reserved for judgement that their bible construed...

Putting reason to flight
Or to flame unashamed
I swept form cries
By the taffeta Ley
Or Her hips that held sway
Over all those at bay
Save a mist on the rise
A final blessing to hide
Her ghost in the fog

And I embraced
Where lovers rot...
Her ghost in the fog

Her ghost in the fog

*As always, I don't own this, blah blah blah.