Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drew's Gencon Schedule!

Well kids you know what time it is? GEN CON! Every year thousands of people flock to the middle of nowhere (Indiana) to the "best four days of gaming". They could not be more right! Gen Con is the place to meet up with old friends, meet new ones and everything in between. From the dealers hall to the demo tables it is a frenzy of gaming almost a week long (pending how long you stay) with your fellow gamers. 

There are literally thousands of events that you can pick from in the catalog, which is your vice? Miniature games? Role Playing? Painting lessons? With so much to pick from I decided this year I would stand by my promise that THIS year I was going to attempt to join a few rpgs instead of jumping from tournament to tournament. 


With that said, this is what my tentative schedule will look like for this year's Gen Con. Only two miniature tournaments a few seminars and LOTS of rpgs. This means i won't have to lug my miniatures ALL the time through the halls instead i can carry around a small case and switch out the foam I am really excited that I can relatively "take it easy" this year by not jumping and making a marathon session of tournaments.


As the days pass by I will attempt to post a few thoughts before Gen Con and of course full reviews of everything that happens during my adventures! 


THURSDAY

9am -1pm: RPG1453408 - Bridge Over Troubled Waters -Endless Terrors RPG, 2nd Edition

2pm-3pm: NMN1464466- Tales After the Cataclysm-Tales After Cataclysm, 1st Edition


4pm-5pm: SEM1465780 -Finding Your Identity as a Game Designer-

-(4pm-6pm: NMN1458629- The WitchBorn)

6pm-8pm: BGM1459968- Consequential- Tale of the Cataclysm 


8pm-10pm: RPG1460940- The Nuclear Summer Playtest- Apocalyptia , Beta 2.0 Edition



FRIDAY

8am-12pm: Gears of War RPG-

12pm-1pm: SEM1465770-  A Career in Gaming-


2pm-6pm: RPG1465049- Power- Clockwork: Dominion, beta Edition


8pm-1am: NMN1456333- Dark Age Immortal- Dark Age, 2013 Edition



SATURDAY

9am-6pm: NMN1453469- Bushido Tournament- Bushido, New Dawn Edition

6pm-8pm: RPG1460947- The Nuclear Summer Playtest- Apocalyptia , Beta 2.0 Edition


SUNDAY

10-11am: SEM1465774 - Board Games: the Future

2pm: Rise of the Kage Demo

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GenCon Schedule

Tentative GenCon Itinerary.

THURSDAY
9AM-12PM: Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Endless Terrors RPG
(10AM-11AM: Roll for Initiative)
(11AM-12PM: Basics of Tabletop Game Design)
2PM-4PM: The Psychology of Gaming
(4PM-6PM: What's Your Gameplan? Turn Any Idea Into a Game)
7PM-9PM: Dark Dungeons: World Premiere
(8PM-11PM: Fantasy Film Short Block)
(9PM-11PM: Nerd Imrov)

FRIDAY
10AM-11AM: Roll for Initiative
(10AM-11AM: Cognitive Bias in Players and How to Leverage Them)
(11AM-12PM: A Crash Course in Game Manufacturing)
12PM-1PM: A Career in Gaming
2PM-6PM: Clockwork: Dominion, beta Edition
(2PM-3PM: So You Want to Start a Podcast)
(3PM-4PM: So You're Making Your First Game)
4PM-5PM: Toastmaster's Gamers Meeting
(4PM-5PM: Business of Writing: Working with a Publisher)
(5PM-6PM: Business of Writing: Selling Your Stories)
(5PM-6PM: Cardboard Meets Plastic: Miniatures Board Games)
6PM-10PM: The ENnies
8PM-9PM: Last Annual Zombie Walk

SATURDAY
9AM-11AM: Hickman's Killer Breakfast
(10AM-11AM: Roll for Initiative)
(10AM-11AM: Publishing: Self Publishing)
(11AM-12PM: Publishing: Small Press)
12PM-1PM: Creating Pulp Adventure
(12PM-1PM: Publishing: E-Publishing)
5PM-6PM: Live Shut Up & Sit Down Podcast
10PM-12AM: D20 Burlesque

SUNDAY
(10AM-11AM: Roll for Initiative)
10AM-11AM: Boardgames: The Future
(10AM-12PM: What's Your Gameplan? Turn Any Idea Into a Game)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Campaign Setting: Population Control & The Frontier

"A few hundred I guess."
I don't know about other people, but I have a very hard time guesstimating the populations of cities and villages. It's like when someone asks you to guess their weight. I have no idea, I freeze. Ultimately it's probably not important at all. I'm willing to bet that players don't care that much. If they ask how many people live in a village, they're probably going to take your answer at face value and move on. An answer of "a few hundred" will be accepted and brushed over as they ask about the more interesting things like item shops and other typical adventure stops. I have small amounts of OCD though, so I want some method to my kingdom population. Luckily I stumbled across Medieval Demographics Made Easy and it answered just about every question I had. So for people with small or large amounts of OCD that want some sort of system or general idea of how to populate a kingdom.. there ya go. Pretty convenient, right?


The Frontier

The Frontier, for lack of a better or more original name, is the current setting for the campaign I'm running. The Frontier is based off of The Nentir Vale, a temperate wooded stretch set between two mountain ranges. The Frontier was settled around 300 years ago as The Empire expanded its holdings north. The Empire brought peace to the vale as it drove out hostile creatures and assimilated the native people. Now, 300 years later, The Empire is collapsing. Great fortresses are left abandoned and entire legions are dissolved as The Empire finally withdraws the last of its forces and people are left to defend themselves. Surrounded on three sides by untamed and unexplored wilderness, the vale quickly finds itself home to new and monstrous residents. Strongholds of civilization remain stubbornly entrenched along the Frontier, determined to make a life for themselves amid the deteriorating walls and crumbling keeps of their ancestors. Barbarians, usurpers, monsters, and worse constantly batter against the walls of humanity. The land is ripe for adventurers, legendary men and women anxious to make both name and wealth for themselves by selling their blades.


Yea that's nice, where are the characters?

"Okay so how many 0-Levels can  this village provide?".
Glad you asked! The party is currently adventuring out of the of the Delver's Dave Mining Camp located along the Eastern edge of the Dawnforge Mountains, a few days ride East of Hammerfast. Delver's Dale is a dwarven mining outpost with around 400 residents and a steady flow of trade. Most of the mined goods are sold directly to the dwarves while the rest go to trading caravans or river merchants. Delver's Dale is mostly residential and industrial with a few shops and a rotating population of merchants, businessman, and roughnecks. Two Temples, an Inn, and an apothecary dot the landscape of the village while the entire thing is looked over by a Stout dwarven fortress carved directly into the mountainside. Delver's Dale is home to several significant NPCs and host to several significant problems brewing outside the gates.

Other villages, trading hubs, ruins, and sites of interest surround Delver's Dale but are not detailed here. Basically I'll throw up the concept artwork, information, or maps to areas either at whim or if they become interesting enough to warrant the attention. It should be noted that none of the maps or artwork are mine, I mercilessly pillage and re purpose anything I can find online and press into service. That being said, kudos to the artists, whoever you are. You've used your skillsets and provided fuel for the imagination of one more game out there. Keep up the strong work.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sepulcher of the Mountain God, Part 2

The adventurers paused reluctantly at the outer door and peered into the tomb of the ancient warrior. Their torchlight flickered dimly off of pillars and walls, casting dancing shadows at the edge of their vision. The scene was set. They crept their way across the silent chamber methodically. They took note of every small detail on their way across the room. Hell broke lose when the halfling lifted a fist-sized yellow gem from it's resting place atop the alter. Stone pillars rumbled to life and eternal guardians began to step down from their resting places. The stone monstrosities looked at the party and began a lumbering advance. Fuck.

The stone guardians definitely laid a beating on the players. Combat opened with a few 0-Levels being crushed and the Cleric getting his noggin dented in by a stone fist. The party scattered around the room, half of them bolting toward the northwestern door and other half taking defensive positions near the eastern alter. The wizard's idea of a defensive position was jumping atop the alter and kicking the bones of an ancient warrior to the floor while a 0-Level Peasant combat dragged the unconscious cleric into cover. Joe Kickass picked the halfing up and tried to run straight through the guardians and out to safety. RIP, Joe Kickass. Meanwhile the wizard botched his casting roll and froze himself in some kind of stasis bubble. The stone guardians took a few rounds beating on the bubble before they gave up and looked for something else to hit. The western side of the room was being held by two warriors and a gang of peasants. They set up a good impromptu defense and managed to overcome the guardians after a few rounds of attrition. Some bodies were recovered, but more were rolled for their loot and left to rot on the side of the chamber.

The game wrapped up some time later after they pushed deeper into the dungeon and took out a group of monstrous cockroaches. The party was beat up by this point. I can now see the beauty of DCC RPG. Dungeons are not easy. Monsters are not pretty. Results are not always optimal. It's a nasty, dirty, dungeon grind that takes wits, balls, and luck for a character to survive. Next week we'll pick up right back in it and hopefully finish the module. For now we leave our heroes in a subterranean cave network, surrounded by ancient ruins from a time long past and the ever-present scuttling of the creatures in the darkness around them.





Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sepulcher of the Mountain God, Part 1

This guy is a real party animal.
Last Sunday we played our second DCC RPG session and I walked away from the table with a few realizations. First, we need cheat sheets. We spent way to much time cracking the rulebook. "People them with Monsters" has some great resources that I plan on using in the future. Second, I need to print a stack of randomly generated 0-Levels. The party hired some retainers in town so we had to roll up new characters mid-session. We did it quickly, but the players would have been just as happy to save time and pull from a pile of pregens. Lastly, although first level characters might have some pretty cool abilities and better odds of survival than their previous 0-Level selves, they're still squishy as hell. The first combat ended up roughing the party up pretty badly due to some bad rolling.

Criticisms aside, the first chunk of the module went pretty well. We didn't get too far into the adventure on account of all the dicking around, but we established a beachhead. Picking up from where we left off, the characters had just shipwrecked into a pile of rocks after careening down a waterfall. They gathered themselves up from the banks of the river and followed it downstream hoping to find a village. Along the way they found the remains of some adventurers and helped themselves to the free gear and a map indicating some sort of nearby treasure. They stashed the map and continued downriver until they eventually found the Silverton Mining Settlement. They spent the rest of the day doing off duty adventurer things; buying and selling supplies, tracking down leads, drinking, whoring, etc. After recruiting a few redshirts at the local tavern they spent the night at the Broken Carriage. The following morning they pulled out the map, grabbed their sacrificial hirelings, and set out nice and early.

The first combat was a rude wake up call. The characters entered a cavern at the base of a mountain and quickly found themselves in a sea of pissed off skeletons. By the end of the combat there were a few deaths, some butthurt, and a better understanding of the rules. During the course of this the cleric somehow managed to frustrate his god so badly that his healing powers were revoked. Great. While looting whatever they could find they discovered some religious scrolls on an alter carved into the back of the cave. The scrolls described the area as an ancient holy site dedicated to a mountain god named Ira. At least they knew what they were in for. Over in the next room the thief set off a trap that I found way funnier than I should have. A large set of bronze doubledoors with huge rings to pull them open... pulling on the rings causes the doors to fall forward and crush anyone under them. Reflex to avoid. Simple, effective, and lawlz. Our thief now acts more thieflike and searches for traps more often after almost being crushed.

Behind the falling doors was a set of iron doors leading to a large hall supported by pillars carved like giants At this point the characters were pretty beat up, few in number (one player couldn't make it), and the cleric had lost access to his healing ability. They really weren't in any shape to press into the actual dungeon, so I convinced them to fall back, regroup, resupply, and take another crack at it next session. I'm anxious to run the next session. Everyone is more sure of their abilities now, myself included, so the session should roll faster, smoother, and further.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The People of the Pit, Initial Impressions.

Just look at that sweet retro art.
Next on deck is Dungeon Crawl Classics #68 "The People of the Pit" (Sailors on the Starless Sea was #67 for anyone interested). People of the Pit is the next module in line and designed for 8-10 1st level characters. I'm still getting use to the idea of players running multiple characters, but then again a hallmark of DCC is that player characters die in droves. People of the Pit seems like it's going to do a pretty good job of living up those expectations. Several nasty combats and one hell of a final encounter are going to separate the men from the boys. I'm curious to see how my players approach this module.

I'm excited to run the game for other reasons. Aside from seeing my players driven before me and hearing the lamentations of their women, the module promises to be another pulp masterpiece. It borderline reminds me of an old Sci-Fi film or a Twilight Zone episode mixed with Cthulhu mythos and steroids. The adventure hits all the B-Movie basics; faceless robed cultists, shrouding mists, an alien atmosphere, funky natural denizens, a virgin sacrifice, slaves (to replenish the inevitable character deaths) and more tentacles than a hentai movie. Seriously, the tentacle factor is through the roof here. There are helpful tentacles, harmful tentacles, atmospheric tentacles, mutated tentacles, big tentacles, small tentacles, tentacle beasts, tentacle statues, tentacle cultists, tentacle summons, tentacle transit systems..

The dungeon looks like it's going to be a lot of fun to explore. I feel the entire things is designed pretty well, but there are some bonus areas that add a nice touch of variety to the package. The cursed workshop of a wizard has some great atmospheric effects, interesting loot, and creative encounters. A bit further down the line is a tomb full of ancient chaos warriors that should likewise keep the players on their toes. There are a few other gems scattered throughout the the adventure that add some "ohhhh that's pretty cool" moments to the module, but I don't want to give too much away. I tend to get excited about corny things, but I think that these areas are a great touch.

The trend I'm noticing with Goodman Games products is that they take adventures outside the familiar realm of repetitive room to room combat and skill-checks and into the realm of outright bizarre and fantastic. They're not afraid to take creative liberties with stories, encounters, or settings. This module continues to play upon those strengths and promises to be memorable. People of the Pit doesn't look like it can be finished in one session, although the possibility does exist if players are tenacious enough. If taken from top to bottom this adventure will probably stretch anywhere from 2-3 sessions depending on play style and length. Players might gain 2nd level by the end of the adventure, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

After last session my players are going to want some downtime to explore town, resupply, scheme, and get into trouble. I'll hold off on this module and feed them a one-shot adventure unless they feel like diving right in. Either way I'm looking forward to running it, seeing how they hack it, and submitting the post-game review right next to the obituaries section.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sailors on the Starless Sea Session Report, Part 3

The peasant assaultcraft continued its voyage toward the dark ritual as hordes of beastmen drove slaves up to the top of the pyramid and pitched them into a giant bonfire.

"Behold the sodomy I shall bringeth onto thee."

Two things become important here. First, having not explored the Charnel Ruins, the party had no way to stop the chaos leviathan lurking in the water below them. Second, they really hadn't paid much attention to the tile mosaics depicting.. well.. everything that was about to go down. It was at this point that I honestly feared a total party wipe. 

As the longship drew closer to the chaos pyramid, tentacles emerged from the water to probe the ship and its occupants. The party spent a few rounds trying to hide before the tentacles stopped the progress of the ship completely and began to probe a little more aggressively. Unsure of what to do the party was prompted to action by poor Wester the barber being hoisted into the air and pulled below the surface. That was apparently the universal signal for "everybody get the fuck out!" as surviving crew members all jumped overboard.

In all fairness this should have been a total party wipe. They had, for all intents and purposes, just chummed the water. However, two things happened; I allowed the characters to make luck rolls, which they succeeded admirably on, and two or more of the farmers had apparently been dragging various farm animals along with them. This wasn't the time to argue and I was thankful for any excuse to not murder the entire party. So, in a scene reminiscent of Jurassic Park, the sacrificial animals were left bleating on the ship and torn apart by a large monster while the ragtag peasant mob swam for the banks of the temple. Fine by me.

The soggy heroes emerged at the base of a ramp leading up the side of the temple. From their viewpoint they knew something bad was happening up at the top, but were unsure of what. Luckily the beastmen herding the captive villagers up the side of the temple hadn't noticed the party yet. After a few moments of debate they ALMOST used some moldy robes to pull the old wookie prisoner trick. Instead they opted to storm Normandy and fight their way to the top of the pyramid. I should mention that this is the third or fourth time I feared a total party wipe.

The heroes gained a surprise round and a glorious melee ensued. They did indeed fight their way to the top of the pyramid, losing a good 5 or 6 of their troupe along the way, and managed to summit the pyramid in time to see the horrifying conclusion of the ritual. Emerging from the pit of fire was the avatar of a long dead chaos lord. Said chaos lord wasted no time in immediately laying the smackdown on everyone within sight. The party began to burn luck like it was cool in order to score hits on the chaos lord, managing to kill him and his entourage within a few rounds while suffering only a few more casualties in exchange.

Jebediah the corn farmer had his face melted off by the death throws of the chaos lord as he reformed into a shaky magama avatar to get in a few last licks. The rest of the party set about looting anything they could find as the cavern began to crumble and collapse around them. They wasted little time in beating feet to the longship that had thankfully reached the temple after the chaos leviathan let go of it. 

The group piled into the ship, now stained with bloody feathers and fur, and set off across the cavern as it continued to collapse around them. The entire western wall of the cavern collapsed before they could reach the safety of the shoreline and the ship was sucked toward daylight streaming through the hole. It wasn't until they were close that they realized the daylight was being seen through a large rune covered portal. The longship went through the portal and emerged high atop a waterfall emptying into a ravine. The ship was dashed on the rocks below and the party scattered into the river, washing up along the banks and trying to regain their wits.

Conclusion

I, as well as my players, are 110% sold on Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's everything that I personally have been looking for in a fantasy game. Minimal bookkeeping, maximum ass kicking, and freeform play within reason. The game encourages creativity, laughs, and memories above hours of studying rules and number crunching. It's exactly what tabletop fantasy roleplaying should be. Easily approachable and totally memorable.

This particular adventure was one of the best openers I think I've ever seen or read. Despite a horrendous attrition rate the players had a blast and there were no hard feelings. They now feel more connected than they ever have to any level 1 characters because they've earned it

To the creators of Dungeon Crawl Classics, thank you. You've done a wonderful job. To the writers of the supplements supporting it, thank you as well for contributing to the spirit of the game. I hope to see and play many more great modules set in this fine system. Myself and my players can't wait to continue the adventures.