RPGaDAY! 31 Days of Gaming Goodness August 2014

I was perusing G+ over the weekend and noticed a lovely thing going on. People were retelling their experiences with the first RPG they ever played under the hashtag RPGaDay. I thought this was a lovely sentiment so I did the same on Twitter and forgot about it. Then I saw folks doing a similar thing with the first game they ever Gamemastered on Saturday, once again under #RPGaDay. It was then I actually looked into it and realized it was this thing:

Thanks go to David F. Chapman & Will Brooks for the awesome layout

Thanks go to David F. Chapman & Will Brooks for the awesome layout

Kudos to David F. Chapman for laying this cool little project out there for us all to participate in on his blog. So while I may be late to the party, here we go with a big ol’ blog post referencing the first four days worth of information with the full intention of going the full distance with this deal.

DAY ONE: FIRST RPG PLAYED

Like many my first game was Dungeons and Dragons, specifically AD&D. I was certainly young but being born in 1985 D&D had been around a while. See, I was cutting my teeth on a version of D&D that was owned by the father of my good buddy Nick. Nick was to be the DM and I the player.

Gnomes beware...

Gnomes beware…

I made a party of adventurers and Nick ran some module I can’t recall the name of and we got started. At that time I was just wowed over at the idea of playing this game on paper and I doubt there was much role-play going on. I do recall a few events though. Firstly, I believe I spoke with a dragon. Said dragon may have given me a quest but I can’t really recall what it might have been. The number one thing that sticks out in my memory is slaughtering a bunch of Gnomes.

You see, Nick was rolling on the random encounter tables and it spawned some gnomes. I didn’t really know what gnomes were, let alone their alignment. Nor have any real desire to chat with them. I handled them with gusto and was only aware I had butchered some good guys when Nick told after the bloody affair that gnomes were typically “Good” aligned. Well now, I certainly had some egg on my face.

Bah!... Just a bunch of gnomes... Shoulda been Dwarves.

Bah!… Just a bunch of gnomes… Shoulda been Dwarves, then they could of handled themselves.

From that day onward I’ve been hooked, not to mention I still have the pleasure of playing RPG’s with Nick to this day! Heck, wasn’t even the last time we killed gnomes…

DAY TWO: FIRST RPG GAMEMASTERED

Given my age you can imagine which game likely played the largest role in my younger RPG days. That game is the 3.X version of Dungeons and Dragons. So it comes as no surprise when I say that the first game I ever Gamemastered was a homebrew campaign setting with D&D 3.0 rules.

When I say “homebrew” I hope no one is picturing a titanic world full of maps, new gods, and legends that I poured endless hours into crafting with love in my basement. No, what I had was a crap little world with like a stream, a town, some woodlands and maybe a mountain. I made the players groan aloud when they discovered they would be staying in a “Taverinn” for the night, that’s right I combined the words Tavern and Inn to create an unnecessary thing.

Good thing I never made any Homebrew Monsters.

Good thing I never made any Homebrew Monsters.

Further groaning likely occurred when they discovered they would be rescuing Blink Dog puppies from something evil, I can’t recall what, in a dungeon that was more fleshed out than the world above it. I think I through a dragon in there somewhere because that is a thing you did when you were in Junior High you through dragons into your games.

The game wasn’t much of a success but I learned a lot from it and years later I feel I became a better GM. God I hope I’ve come a long way!

DAY THREE: FIRST RPG PURCHASED

Another thing my buddy Nick introduced me to was Jolly Blackburn’s crazy comic strip Knights of the Dinner Table. I loved it ever so much and when I discovered you could actually purchase and play Hackmaster I was so game. I’d been playing D&D 3.X a while by that point but I didn’t actually spend any of my own money on it. I was using my friend’s copies and my parents may have bought me my own by then. Hackmaster though, I spent some grip there. The first taste was free, the GM’s guide was given to me as a birthday gift from my buddies (who wanted to play) at a luau themed joint birthday party being held for myself and my then girlfriend. I got some strange looks when I received that book, but I gave zero craps. I was stoked!

Pretty sure it was artwork like this that may be why I was handed that Dark Dungeons Chick Tract once...

Pretty sure it was artwork like this that resulted in being handed that Dark Dungeons Chick Tract once…

I purchased the Hackmaster Players Handbook, the GM’s Shield and so many of the Hacklopedia of Beasts supplements. I couldn’t wait to run it. What I discovered was that it was hard to run. I don’t think I was capable of truly grasping the rules at that young age but man did we have some fun the one time we ever played it. Yup, to this day I’ve only run Hackmaster once and have never played it! Still love the books, if for nothing else the amazing artwork.

Chosen Hacklopedia cover for that Kobald lover Pierce (aka @Sorcerer_Blob)

Chosen Hacklopedia cover for that Kobald lover Pierce (aka @Sorcerer_Blob)

DAY FOUR: MOST RECENT RPG PURCHASE

My most recent RPG purchase, like many right now, would be the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set for the 5th edition of the rules. I have even gotten to run the adventure supplement “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” for my group. I also downloaded the completely free Basic Rules pdf for the newest edition, which cost me all of nothing. I love the rules for this new edition but arched an eyebrow at the Adventure itself. It’s odd to me that there are so many side quests available when the core quest involves people near and dear to the players who have been kidnapped and held prisoner by loathsome creatures, but that’s neither here nor there. You can still mine it for good stuff, the town is particularly well laid out.

DAY FIVE: MOST OLD SCHOOL GAME OWNED

The most old school game I own are some AD&D books.

Always loved the critters in here. At that Teen Fandom Con I had two young ladies check it out for over an hour.

Always loved the critters in here. At that Teen Fandom Con I had two young ladies check it out for over an hour.

Other than that I am very much a child of the 90’s and early 2000’s so my library is chock full of D&D 3.X books, some Sword and Sorcery items, and then a ton of D&D 4E.  The next oldest would have to be the Hackmaster items, my copies are from 2001.

DAY SIX: FAVORITE RPG YOU NEVER GET TO PLAY

In most groups I would primarily be the main GM. However, I have been lucky enough that every single one of the guys I play with in my live game and my online group, the Vagabond Gamers (feel free to join), are capable GM’s in their own right. Due to this I’ve been very fortunate to play nearly as many systems as I run. There are a few that I’ve run but never been able to play and I’m glad today’s #RPGaDay topic lets me get these out there!

First up, a variety of Savage Worlds Campaign Settings:

I'll play any setting here folks, hit me up!

I’ll play any setting here folks, hit me up!

I love Savage Worlds, I was first introduced to it about a year and a half to two years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite systems. Problem is, I’ve run many games in the system within its myriad of campaign settings but have rarely gotten to play the damn things myself!

DLDeadlands:

Probably my top choice for a system I’ve run many times but have never been able to play. It’s an awesome Western, well… WEIRD Western, themed campaign setting. It’s got all the tropes you love in an American Old West setting plus plenty of extra oddities like Magic Weilders who get power from playing hands of cards with the devil, creatures from both myth and newly crafted, and Mad Science. It’s a great system with tons of lore and mystery. Can’t wait to play someday.

HF

Hellfrost:

A fantasy setting in a land frozen over after the vicious “Blizzard War”. I’ve run a few things in the setting and really hope to play someday.

SSSundered Skies:

This is actually a reverse situation, I have only played this setting in a PbP. I would love to either run or play it live someday. Here you have a world of floating islands that require flying ships for transport between them. Piracy and fantasy mix well in this air focused game!

There are other settings I’d love to play. Hell any Savage Worlds would be nice to play, it is easily the system I least play and run the most.

Second we have Hackmaster:

Hackmaster

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my ownership of this game and how little I’ve even run it let alone the fact that I’ve never played the game. It’s themes are just great, a tongue in cheek sendup for older school rules and rules lawyering. Not to mention its smooth handling of pretty excessive violence, mostly to get a grin out of someone for the mere fact it is so violent. Hope to play more someday.

Lastly, Cthulhu anything:

I've often wondered if I'd like the lack of control you have over your fate in Cthulhu...

I’ve often wondered if I’d like the lack of control you have over your fate in Cthulhu…

I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft… and have never played any RPG ever made that utilize the tone of those writings. As far as I can figure my live group has never expressed much of an interest in it, but then again I’m not certain I’ve brought it up! I will get to play in a Cthulhu based LARP at Gencon this year so at least I’ll have a taste of how a game might be run set in the Mythos. So I’ve got that going for me.

DAY SEVEN: MOST INTELLECTUAL GAME OWNED

Today’s topic is a difficult one for me to write about, namely because I see most any Tabletop RPG as an intellectual endeavor.  Problem is, if I just said “all the games I own” I would consider that a cop-out, so I guess for my own benefit I need to choose something.  So… I choose you Numenera!

You'll quickly discover the artwork is strikingly beautiful.

You’ll quickly discover the artwork is strikingly beautiful.

Numenera is a fairly new RPG out there, and I’ll wager most of you have heard of it.  Likely from its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign and the star power backing its three main creators.  That being Monte Cook, Shanna Germain, and later addition Bruce R. Cordell, all pretty heavy hitters in the world of RPG’s.  It is a setting placed so far into the future that eight previous civilizations (well eight known ones) have risen and fallen, the current civilization calls themselves the “Ninth World”.

Numenera NomadsJust the concept is fairly heady to begin with, not to mention it gets its kicks from being utterly alien to anyone who sits down to play or run the game.  The system itself is fairly straightforward, actually makes it easier on the GM to an extent by having a system that doesn’t have them ever roll.  In very simplified terms the players do all the rolling while the GM sets a variety of target numbers to exceed.  No, the “intellectual” part comes from the game’s style of play and alieness (not a word) of its world.

The artwork is also as awesomely weird as its concepts.

The artwork is also as awesomely weird as its concepts.

I have actually found this game hard for me to run, which may be part of the reason I respect its intellectual nature.  I’ve never been one for far future Sci-Fi really and though a point is made that this setting leans as heavily to fantasy as Sci-Fi (an often utilized quote comes from Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”) I still can’t shake the immensity of eight civilizations having come and gone.  Maybe I think to much on it.

I was about to write a little on the game-play itself and then remembered this isn’t meant to be a game review, perhaps I’ll write on sometime.  I do like Numenera and hope to one day polish myself a bit as a GM for the system.  Like I stated above I’m likely over thinking things.  It is certainly a game worth checking out.  Check out Monte Cook Games for more information, and you can even check out their new game coming out called The Strange which utilizes the same system Numenera does.

DAY EIGHT: FAVORITE CHARACTER

I spoil some fairly heavy Ravenloft lore in the next post, it’s old information but please don’t get upset if I ruin something for you.

If there’s one thing that never fails to bore most people quicker than a recap of an adventure you ran or played the night before, its cornering some poor helpless individual and regaling them with the tales of a favorite character.  Well, hope you’ve found a comfortable corner to cringe pitifully in, because I’ve just been given permission to do just that!  Let’s just get to introducing you all to Caul Rickrak shall we?

RavenloftMy buddy Jake has always been a wiz with the 4th edition set of rules for Dungeons and Dragons.  Well, he is a rules master in any Tabletop RPG to be honest but he found a special love with the balance inherent in 4e.  One of the issues we had with 4th edition was its lack of love for Ravenloft.  It is one of our all time favorite settings and certainly one of Jake’s.  He had been itching to run Ravenloft using 4th edition D&D and got tired of waiting so he made his own setting rules with a little cribbing from the internet and mostly his own slick skills.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the Caliban Barbarian I was rolling up in his game would become my favorite character of all time.

ENTER: CAUL RICKRAK

Caul Rickrak

The above artwork is by my good friend Pierce aka @Sorcerer_Blob on Twitter who drew it for me after I was lamenting the end of Jake’s campaign, and thus the adventures of Mr. Rickrak.  I’m not holding any punches on this writeup so I’ll start with Caul’s lengthy back-story first… Yikes, just found the whole thing and it is long so instead I’ll add a link to the pdf right HERE and then copy\paste just the story below.

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about Caul’s actual birth. Late one moonless night Lady Adelaide, surrounded by some of the Baron’s enforcers, knocked on the first door they came to in the settlement of Ungrad. When Simmons and Tinrel Rickrak opened their door they stood petrified as a bundle was deposited in their arms. Without a word of explanation, the Lady and her enforcers strode into the darkness. Tinrel fainted when she glanced upon the newborn and Simmons grimaced, muttering darkly about evil curses.

Caul did not enjoy an easy upbringing. His adopted parents were quick to remind him he was not of their family, though they were never outright cruel. Cruelty was reserved for the rest of the town. Other children openly mocked him and the adults looked the other way. He was always strong but was unable to defend himself as any hurt upon the children of the town by his hand was never looked upon as self-defense. Because of his inaction he was bullied mercilessly, beaten almost daily.

When he finally reached adulthood he left the town, much to everyone’s relief. He headed directly to the headquarters of the Baron’s enforcers as he meant to discover the secrets behind his birth. Though he looked it, he was not a complete simpleton and did not spread the story of his midnight arrival in Ungrad, instead he decided to join the enforcer ranks until he could glean the information somehow. Training with the enforcers was the closest thing to happiness he had experienced to date. He loved the thrill of being praised for his brutality and strength, something he had bottled up for years.

However, when he became a full enforcer he soon discovered that many of the jobs he took part in were nothing more than another form of the bullying he had grown to despise as a child. Because of this he slipped away in the night, and took on the job of guarding a merchant caravan headed out of his domain. He had little desire to ever see it again.

All in all fairly tropey but it gave Jake some stuff to work with, so I liked it.

IN GAME:

Caul’s background gave me some rich material to work with.  He hated bullies in any form, had to cloak himself fully if he were to enter any kind of public place, feared any clerics as he believed himself cursed by The Lawbringer or some other god, and his roots gave him little exposure to the arcane so he certainly feared and respected it.  He also had a temper, goodness he had a temper.  I mean, he was a barbarian after all.

calibanCaul wielded an Executioner’s Axe and was a Caliban, this made him stick out terribly in public places.  Many times he had to remain behind in order for the group to suss out whether a town they planned to enter would tolerate his presence.  Though he could usually remain hidden beneath his cloak and people would leave him alone because he was gigantic but it did cause problems.  like when he interfered with the attempted stake burning of another Caliban woman and ended up dragging his fellow group members into the fight as well.

Caul really had only two friends in the group he was in. They were a man named Corbin and a Warlock named Eugene, though it was obvious Eugene was mostly using Caul.  The only other man Caul ever truly respected was Tristen Hiregaard.  Tristen was the only man to ever just take Caul at his word without prior judgment based on the Caliban’s heritage.  This set up a series of truly bastardly brilliant moves for Jake to play on my character.

TentaclesFirst, Eugene was killed in combat.  At this point Caul had grown fairly close to Eugene and had even considered the older man something of a role model, ultimately Eugene was likely to turn the barbarian to a darker path but the relationship was still in a good spot when Eugene bit it.  Immediately Caul turned the direction of the party to trying to resurrect Eugene based only on some light details he’d heard that it may be possible.  The rest of the group went along begrudgingly, as Eugene was not universally loved, but Caul was not to be detracted from his course.  They found the items needed for the ritual and an NPC friend of theirs performed it.  Caul watched as Eugene first began to come back to life and then suddenly inky black tentacles burst from the Warlock’s chest, wrap him into darkness, and finally crush the body to little more than a husk.  Caul was shattered.  He went into the nearby woods, lost anything that was on his stomach, and wept.

TristenAfter a time the group helped Tristen Hiregaard with even more and more issues.  Eventually Tristan asked the group to handle the biggest threat to his city, that being the dreaded serial killer and criminal mastermind Malken.  Caul and his friends were eager to help their friend Tristen and began a long campaign to earn the attention of Malken and infiltrate his cabal of criminals (I will interject here and give Jake full props for portraying Malken incredibly well, some of the best Role-playing I’ve ever seen).  The final showdown eventually happened and after some truly close calls Malken was finally brought to his knees.  It was only then group discovered the horrible truth.  That Malken was the alter-ego of Tristen Hiregaard himself, they shared a Jekyll and Hyde-like relationship.  It was only at this defeated point that Tristen himself discovered the truth of it and he begged Caul to finally do the deed.  Caul couldn’t do it and had to watch his other friend Corbin put Tristen down, Caul’s subsequent rage almost ended Corbin but he was able to calm himself down.

It was after the events with Tristen that Corbin then decided to leave the group, he had decided to stay behind and tend a tavern that the characters had bought after an incident required them to hide the bodies of some defeated foes beneath the dirt floor.  Corbin had dealt with enough it seemed and decided tending bar at the newly named “Five Bodies Inn” (named for the bodies beneath the new floorboards but that wouldn’t be the story Corbin used if anyone asked).  Caul was losing his last true friend but was actually grateful in a way, he now assumed a friendship with him practically guaranteed death to those he befriended.

Here's a picture of a guy lifting a horse bc Jake didn't let Caul do it that one time.

Here’s a picture of a guy lifting a horse bc Jake didn’t let Caul do it that one time.

Caul went on to have more adventures and I was really looking forward to taking the Calm Fury Paragon Path as the concept furthered my story for the man as he continued to try and control his temper more an more.  Sadly the campaign ended before we made it to Paragon level.  Man I loved this character, and man did I write a crapton about him.  Uhhhh… sorry about the overload folks but I suppose I did warn you!

 

 

 

DAY NINE: FAVORITE DIE\DICE SET

So I’ll cheat a little here and post a picture of my three favorite dice sets, and write a little about each of them.

My three strongest sets of rollers!

My three strongest sets of rollers!

The white set of dice were the first set of dice I ever purchased.  They were used for the first character I ever took past the tenth level, Seavel Moonlance the Wizard\Fighter\Eldritch Knight.  We ended up at level 18 before all was said an done. Truly some great memories there.

The red set of dice were my go to bunch in college. We had some really great gaming during those days, I was very fortunate to have some good friends attend college with me.

The black set of dice are my youngest among the three pictured above (though I have so many more sets of dice).  They are currently my most used set.  Especially the 20-sider.  It has this tendency to roll high that I just simply adore. I have actually stopped using it as a GM, isn’t really all that fair.

A much shorter entry than the last, but these dice are every bit as dear to me as anything else in gaming.

DAY TEN: FAVORITE TIE-IN NOVEL\GAME FICTION

This entry has wide possibilities but if I were to truly pick some tie in game fiction it would have to be the Bauldur’s Gate collection of PC games from the 90’s.  I spent countless hours playing them all and even took a sorcerer through every single one of them, well into epic levels.

BG Meme

Sure the game was buggy as Hell, but that was just part of its charm (of course there was nothing charming about being unable to leave the Inn that one time and losing characters I’d spent roughly 30 hours on).  The story was solid and the game-play was tons of fun.  It was the first time I had ever really felt like I could choose from a ton of options when creating a unique player!.

Speaking of Gameplay, don't they know you fight dragons by entering the room, hitting it with Magic Missile, leaving, sleeping, and repeating!?

Speaking of Game-play, don’t they know you fight dragons by entering the room, hitting it with Magic Missile, leaving, sleeping, and repeating!?

I haven’t yet played the remakes but plan to one day.  For now though I’m fine with the great memories!  Also, friggan Minsc & BOO!

Minsc

“Stand and deliver, that my hamster might have a better look at you!”

DAY ELEVEN: WEIRDEST RPG OWNED

The weirdest RPG I own isn’t one that’s actually commercially available. In fact, it was never in print.  No, weirdest RPG I own is the crazy brainchild of my buddy Jake, he’s the guy who ran that Ravenloft game I told you about on the 8th, and it is a rule system created by Jake for the cartoon Bravestarr.

I am being 100% serious here.  I have played this game.

I am being 100% serious here. I have played this game.

Jake likes to tinker with RPG rule systems and has even made a few of his own.  Bravestarr is a project that surprised the Hell out of me.  I mean, I remember him showing  me the show and we got a kick out of the old Saturday Morning Cartoon tropes and the weird Sci-Fi stuff, but he decided to take the joke a mite further.  That’s right, this game was mostly made as a joke!  He’s got some really solid rules here too!

Damn you Tex Hex! You leave the good people of Fort Kerium alone!

Damn you Tex Hex! You leave the good people of Fort Kerium alone!

The basic concept is that every game plays like an episode of the show, and you’re encouraged to play each “episode” typically as a  one shot as part of the fun is rolling randomly to see where you’ll fall in the party hierarchy.  When making a character you could get lucky and end up as someone as strong as Bravestarr (a Marshall) himself, or you could get  even luckier and end up lower on the totem pole and be a Sidekick.  Sidekicks aren’t powerful but they are crazy fun to play.

Seriously, you could end up as one of these little Twerps & it'll be just the best!

Seriously, you could end up as one of these little Twerps & it’ll be just the best!

Throughout the game you take on enemies in the manner you’d typically see on this type of show.  They’d show up to hatch some harebrained scheme like “a famous robotic outlaw, who turned good has suddenly attacked a bank like the old days and its up to you all to figure out why he’s gone bad and get the loot back!”  Stuff like that.  Combat almost always needs to happen at some point and the players will be doing things like shooting buckets down onto people’s heads or lasso up five guys with just one rope.  It is also encouraged to give one player the chance to end each session with something that they had learned that day.  Like I said the whole thing gets people crackin’ up real quick.

You'd be advised to stay on the good side of 30-30 and his rifle sara jane

You’d be advised to stay on the good side of 30-30 and his rifle sara jane

So thanks go out to Jake for making this crazy little game.  I should ask him if I could run it for some folks at Gencon this week.

I'll leave you with this lesson from a Bravestarr episode. Don't do drugs kids or you will die. Yeah, the show actually KILLED A KID in an anti-drug episode.

I’ll leave you with this lesson from a Bravestarr episode. Don’t do drugs kids or you will die. Yeah, the show actually KILLED A KID in an anti-drug episode.

DAY TWELVE: OLDEST RPG YOU STILL PLAY\READ

Not much of a post on this one.  I may not play it but I certainly skim it from time to time just to bring on some waves of nostalgia.  The game I’m referencing is Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.AD&D PHB

It still holds plenty of great reading and I find looking at the font to be like looking at an old friend’s smile.  Tough to explain.  Plus the art is dated in a wonderful way.

DAY THIRTEEN: MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER DEATH

I’ve been pretty lucky that as a player, of course I don’t play as often as I run games, I’ve not had a lot of characters die on me.  However, I do have one character whose death certainly stands tall above the rest, and I think the Vagabond Gamers likely know who I’m going to reference here.  Congratulations Erik, the death of my gnome Tevris takes the most memorable death title!

  • First, the players:
    • GM: Erik (aka @shrimpiclese)
    • Darn Shatterclub (Dwarf): Brent (aka @allgamer1)
    • Garin Stonefist (Dwarf): Matt (aka @freerangegamer)
    • Belhad Ironseeker (Dwarf): Jason (aka @TojuXinshu)
    • Tevris Fizzlewotz (Gnome): Me

Gnome memeErik is currently working on a world concept, to be fit into a yet undecided rule system, that is pretty cool.  I won’t go into too many details, as it is his world to share not mine, but the adventure we were on involved us exploring some ancient deep mines beneath the current Dwarven and Gnomish mountain kingdoms.  There was old steamwork-like tech lying about and Tevris was only invested in the trip because he was seeking a long lost technological artifact, and because he’d been coerced but you know, lemons into lemonade and all that.

Typically when we play in a Vagabond Gamers online session our characters have always been very helpful and considerate of each other.  They’ve always been teams that worked like well oiled machines.  Not this time though, oh Hell no.  Something happened here, and these characters barely tolerated each other.  Keep in mind that we the players were never at each other’s throats, no we were only bickering in game, but man did our characters bicker and though they were getting the job done they did so begrudgingly.

A team that bickers but ends up getting the job done! Ok... so we never meshed as well as the GotG but... ok I just wanted to use them in something :P

A team that bickers but ends up getting the job done! Ok… so we never meshed as well as the GotG but… ok I just wanted to use them in something 😛

Near the end of the game all Hell broke loose, mainly because a certain dwarf split from the rest of the group to go down while we went up (cough cough Belhad cough cough) and because my character upon seeing the ancient artifact he was interested in approached with zero caution.  Well, Jason’s character set in motion some sort of sacrificial ritual that would bring forth a demonic invasion and my character absorbed an artificial intelligence and lost an arm.  Oh, and Tevris went insane as well, couldn’t really adjust to the AI ride-along.

While Tevris was going insane Darn & Garin, who had made the climb up with my character, looked around saying “this is a bunch of nope” and just cheesed it.  Garin ended up hijacking a drilling machine, pushed go, and drove whatever direction it decided to move and made his way to safety and Darn just jumped through a random portal into a lush field and surprisingly it wasn’t some kind of horrible trap.

While Darn and Garin were escaping the crumbling subterranean pyramid (I think I forgot to mention that was happening) Tevris flew down the stairs to the bottom, screaming madness the entire route because the AI wanted him to stop the ritual being performed on Belhad.  Belhad had simply gone along with the suggestions of the creatures who considered him the reincarnation of their king, and when they asked him in the broken language he only barely understood if he wanted to begin the “ritual” he took a drag on his stogie and just said “yeah, sure”.  Well that ritual turned out to be sacrificial in nature, with the added bonus of reincarnating an ancient nigh unstoppable demon.  This is the small matter the AI wanted Tevris to stop.

Along the way Tevris had used his mechanical knowledge to forcefully attach his gnomish kopesh to the stump that used to be his arm, blown off when the AI tried to make him throw a grenade at Garin and Darn.  So Tevris arrived at the scene of the ritual fully prepped to go to war with those sacrificing Belhad.  Well, it didn’t really go so well.  Belhad got released sure but Tevris’ wild approach to the issue ended up serving him up as the ritual instead.

Like this, only with a tiny little gnome guy

Like this, only with a tiny little gnome guy

So Tevris Fizzlewotz died as a recent amputee, driven mad, and setting off the chain of events that would later cause great strife in the world Erik has created (did I mention he told us he would consider this adventure canon?) as an extra-planer entity known as a Kezrakai broke through the barrier into the world.  Belhad tried to put some hurt on the critter but nothing even scratched it, so Belhad ran and actually got away safely.  Certainly not Tevris though, he died rather horribly.

It was an awesome game and certainly a character death that will not soon be overshadowed.  Thanks Erik.

DAY FOURTEEN: BEST CONVENTION PURCHASE (ALSO MY BIRTHDAY)

Its easy to choose honestly, because I’m so damn cheap I rarely buy things at Cons. Oh, by the way, happy Gencon day everyone!  Not to mention Happy Birthday to me, nice of Indianappolis to throw me this rockin’ party…anyway, back to the matter at hand!  My best Gencon Purchase?  Hirst Arts Molds.

Hirst logoI simply love these 3d dungeon-scaping tools.  Not that hard to use if you take your time and learn the craft.  My problem is they are a pretty pricey initial purchase, coming in at nealry $30 a pop, so I don’t own many.  My cousin’s husband, Toby, has lent me his in the past and with his molds I was able to make this beauty!

My favorite piece among many.

My favorite piece among many.

I love doing this kind of crafting and look forward to doing more so these were the two I bought last year.

HirstI will certainly buy another one, at least, at Gencon this year and probably continue asking for them as gifts people can buy me (did I mention today was my birthday?).  Eventually I’ll own enough that I can always have what I need on hand without the need to borrow from Toby.

One of these days I may give a How To video or synopsis of how I craft these little dungeons of mine using the excellent molds they make over there but to be honest, all the good stuff is already on their site, which you can visit HERE.

DAY FIFTEEN: FAVORITE CONVENTION GAME

Ah Gencon 2013, my first ever Gaming Convention

Ah Gencon 2013, my first ever Gaming Convention

There is no contest here, one game comes to mind immediately.  That game would be one run by GM’s Hujraad Johaansen and Matt Chimienti at Gencon 2013 titled “Big Showdown in Little Canyonside: Snakes on a Plane Redux” (Apparently it was a sequel of sorts).  My wife and I joined this game on the advice of Matt Fuller with Monkey in the Cage and we were lucky to have done so!

The game was run using Hujraad Johaansen’s rule system named HiBRiD, an acronym that stands for Heroic Ite’ Based Role-playing-game in Development.  The game focused on a group of 80’s action heroes, chosen from a group of pregens that had been crafted for us, that were thrown into a crazy nonstop (very 80’s) adventure.  The GM’s decided to really pump things up by providing everyone with gobs of what they called “Ite'” points.  These could be used to up the ante on the action by spending as many points as you wished to make your character do some really crazy things.  For example, near the end of the game when things were honestly getting really crazy my wife playing basically a version of Chuck Norris killed roughly 1,000 enemies in a matter of seconds and at the same time I spent enough Ite to have my speed boat (I was a Hulk Hogan like character) burst through a cave wall after running through some subterranean tunnels.  Yeah, it was sort of nutty, but it sure was a blast!

Don't mess with the Hulkster brudder

Don’t mess with the Hulkster brudder

I could give you a play by play, it has been etched in my memory, but I’ll just settle for linking the episode of the Monkey in the Cage Podcast where Sarah and I guest starred aside Matt and Robert talking all about Gencon 2013, and a lot about this game(Here’s the Link to that).

Also, here’s a link to Hujraad’s blog and twitter, he doesn’t spend a ton of time on the web but I certainly look forward to his next Gencon game set to happen in 2015 as he sadly only attends bi-yearly.  Hope he’s ready for the Vagabond Gamers though, cuz 2015 is going to be our year to crash Gencon together and his game will be on our list!

DAY SIXTEEN: GAME YOU WISH YOU OWNED

This one’s tough because there are honestly a lot of great games out there that I don’t own, I just don’t have the resources.  One does seem to come to mind above the others, albeit slightly.  That game is Shadowrun.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2c/Shadowrun4A.jpg

I’ve never played the game, let alone owned it, but the concept strikes me as really cool so one day I’m sure to get my hands on it.  Maybe then I can see if its as cool as I’ve always imagined.  Short one today eh?  Well, they’ve been long lately so I guess I just get a break!

DAY SEVENTEEN: FUNNIEST GAME YOU’VE PLAYED

I’ve never really played an RPG where I didn’t spend at least a little while with a grin splitting my face ear to ear, but despite that fact I can easily pinpoint the funniest game I’ve ever played in. There are other strong contenders, the Gencon game I mentioned on day 15 strikes me as one, the Old School Hack pickup game run by my friend Scott (AKA The Angry DM) at Gencon 2013 easily makes a run at it as well, and my good friend Chris’ game where my brother and I were peddling our “wares” (I’ll leave that one for you to wonder about) but the funniest game I’ve played was the final Wheel of Time RPG game we ever played run by my oldest gaming pal Nick.

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61bzjq11P7L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

We were digging Wheel of Time from the get go. Nick and I had both read the books and my other friends had gotten into their characters right from the start. Problem was Nick had discovered that support for the setting had been halted, no more supplements to look forward to. Thus, we only had the initial book and it provided only a handful of creature options and the like. We would essentially have to fight Trollocs forever, and be limited to the few class options already available. So Nick decided to throw us one last hurrah of a fight, a fight we would most certainly die in.

 

This will require a bit of background. First I need to talk about Moondrop. “What of Moondrop” you ask? Well, Moondrop was a pony owned by a farmer we had run into earlier in the game. My brother took a special shine to https://i2.wp.com/eagles-rest-ranch.webs.com/Sale%20Horses%20192.JPGthis pony and would ask the farmer about the nag’s well being, in a tongue in check fashion of course. He would inquire “and what of Moondrop?” to which the farmer, played expertly by our GM Nick, would hem and haw about the pony’s comings and goings. Typically offering to sell the pony to my brother or the group, an offer we would repeatedly turn down.

https://melsmifgames.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/67b9c-cavebear.jpg

Secondly we need to talk about Cave Bears and how they wreck an old boy up! They simply decimate you. Nick had gotten tired of throwing Trollocs at us so he decided to treat us to some combat v. bear. Well, he underestimated that Cave Bear and we barely survived, likely through some GM salvation honestly. We fought in a cave after climbing a damn cliff face and that bear just ripped through us. I couldn’t get a spell off before taking a gut full of claws and the others didn’t fare much better. Fun fight though, gave us a lot of laughs but only served as a taste of the hilarity to come.

 

So Nick set up our doom at the inn we were staying at. Our characters woke to utter chaos in the bar below. The source of the commotion was not one, but two of those damned cave bears. My character just ran for it, I had seen those claws in action and wanted no more of that business. Trouble is, I got caught and put down quickly. The funny stuff has nothing to do with me though, I was just a witness. The greatest part was the plan hatched by my buddy Jake and my brother…and Moondrop, poor poor Moondrop.

I’ll stop teasing the punch line now, I promise. Jake and my brother had been whispering a lot since they had initially outrun the cave bears and no one had noticed them doing so. Well my brother started laughing so hard he was tearing up and Jake was no different. They then choked out their plan through fits of laughter. First, they had to find Moondrop and coax the pony into calming down, which was tough to do because at this point a man with a Positron Rifle had somehow crossed over from https://i2.wp.com/www.seebuye.com/images/l/costumeshop/t0166-2.jpganother plane of existence, and of course…cave bears running amok. Second…they killed Moondrop. I know, I KNOW, a brutal thing to do but they had reason. The last step of their plan was to hollow out the poor pony’s corpse and wear Moondrop as a two man horse suit. We broke. It made me laugh harder than I’ve likely ever done prior. Just the image of those two hunkered in the suit, sneaking past a highly trained military specialist with a giant laser cannon tickled me in ways I can’t explain. Hell, it still brings a smile to my face.

 

Crazy enough, they escaped. Nick couldn’t really stop them, they keep succeeding on rolls and it was just too clever\hilarious of an idea to put a stop to it. So to this day we still ponder on the adventures of those two. We have to imagine they later crafted a better suit with the remains of Moondrop, and my brother made sure to give homage the old gal. We also find ourselves asking Nick from time to time “And what of Moondrop?”.

DAY EIGHTEEN: FAVORITE GAME SYSTEM

Geez… I just got back from Gencon and you hit me with this question!? Talk about a tough choice, especially when I’ve just spent four days being reminded of the many many systems out there and why I love them all so much! I need to choose though, and I choose Savage Worlds.

Savage Worlds Logo

Okay, so my opinion may be swayed a mite by the fact that I spent a great deal of time with Shane Hensley, Clint Black, and John Goff during Gencon at the Gamerstable Award Dinner (I even scored some autographs because in the end I’m a Fanboy at heart) but even without that fact in play I think I would still have gone with Savage Worlds and its many varied campaign settings. It may not be the system I’ve played the most, Dungeons & Dragons in various forms earns that particular honor, but it is certainly the system I reach to first these days.

Deadlands Guy

If I've not cemented myself as a full on geek in your mind yet, here's my Hail Mary.

If I’ve not cemented myself as a full on geek in your mind yet, here’s my Hail Mary.

Hensley’s set of generic rules are very adaptable to any sort of game, be it one of the numerous established settings already available (i.e. my favorite, the Weird West setting, Deadlands Reloaded) or even a game of your own creation. I once crafted a game where the characters were all Bullywugs investigating the poisoning of their swamp lands. Setting customization runs the gambit of Fantasy to very Real Life and Ancient Times to the Far Future, with little difficulty.

 

No Lie, Matt Fuller (Monkey in the Cage) once blew up an entire airship with a Moltov due to having enough Aces!

No Lie, Matt Fuller (Monkey in the Cage) once blew up an entire airship with a Moltov due to having enough Aces!

The mechanics are simplistic but can easily allow for some more complex actions and maneuvers if someone desired to really get squirrely. Revolving around a die mechanic that allows only D4-D12 and matching those die to single Attributes and Skills makes for low numbered Target Numbers and a limited scaling that doesn’t complicate the math too much down the road. Some of the more exciting additions are the additional Wild Die one rolls, no matter their common Skill die, and chance a better result out of the two options and if either of the die you roll hits the highest number they are capable of you “Ace” allowing for another roll to add to the total. That “Ace” can account for some truly unexpected results.  After that I would point to the Initiative system that uses a deck of cards every turn. This randomizes the fights ever turn, rather than limiting everyone to a static initiative. This does a good job of adding the chaos one would assume a true fight to the battle. Will you go before the big bad?

So Savage Worlds is easily my favorite choice for a pickup game, or a limited engagement, and can work just as well for long term play. I also feel it’s simple enough that I’ve used it often in Google+ Online Hangout games with the Vagabond Gamers and in a few Play by Post games in the past. I’m gearing up for another Play by Post right now actually. If you’ve never tried this game I urge you to check it out. It has some of the best support when it comes to Campaign Settings that I’ve seen with a generic set of rules and you’ll quickly fall in love with throwing those Bennies (tokens that the players, and even the GM, get to use for added “Benefits”) around!

DAY NINETEEN: FAVORITE PUBLISHED ADVENTURE

I can honestly say I rarely run published adventures.  They’ve always been a little too precise for my taste, I like a little wiggle room.  Granted nothing that’s been written has to be considered unchangeable but I just seem to care too much what is on the page rather than in the actual game when I’m pulling from one of those.  So if I have to choose one, and maybe its because I had the pleasure of playing a Dungeon World hack of it recently (Thank you @Sorcerer_Blob!), it would have to be Ravenloft.

ravenloft

The module was so well done and inspirational it gave way to the development of an entire Campaign World full of Gothic Horrors.  It also provided a ton of cool ideas for any GM to pull from for their other campaigns, which to me is the hallmark of any great published adventure.

DAY TWENTY: WILL STILL BE PLAYING IN 20 YEARS…

Ioun_stones my face

In the year 2034 Kevin Smith will seat himself across the table from the men and women who dare play his game.  Mechanical Ioun Stones will silently orbit his, and his players’, heads beaming rules directly from the Dungeons & Dragons Xth Edition Dungeon Master’s  & Player’s Handbook guidebooks, respectfully, into their minds.  Kevin will eye the players at the table and smile ruefully through his greying beard, knowing what is in store for them.

https://i1.wp.com/scifimafia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Prometheus-Movie-Image-UK-5.jpg

The DungeonScape X.0 Interactive Network Tabletop (INT) will hum to life and the 3-D holographic imagery will glow before the player’s eyes, revealing the terrors of the Ravenloft mists that seemingly flow around them.  With a shiver they will inform their Dungeon Master of their next move, only to be informed by the cry of a Mist Horror emanating from the INT (synced with the Monster Manual’s sound effects platform) that they are sadly not alone in the mists.

https://i1.wp.com/old.enworld.org/Pozas/Pictures/Ravenloft/mist_horror.jpg

They will watch helplessly as their 3d characters are torn asunder by the creature before they can escape the dreaded mists.  Kevin’s will throw back his head and laugh long and hard at their misfortune until tears form and he has to stop to adjust that damn Google Contact Lens in his left eye.  When are they going to fix that thing to fit snugly?, he wonders.

So yeah, some kind of D&D I suppose.

DAY TWENTY-ONE: FAVORITE LICENSED GAME

For this one I’ll need to thank a little company named Cubicle 7, because I love the One Ring RPG.

TOR NEW Logo

Prior to playing this game I never thought someone could come along and capture the nuanced nature of an adventure set in Middle Earth.  Sure other games have perfectly fine Fantasy settings, and an argument can easily be made that most derive their mythology, in part, thanks to Tolkien’s pivotal work.  However, I have never had much confidence anyone could really place game mechanics on paper that could really speak to the feelings of a Tolkien “Fellowship” or find a way to make every race in Tolkien’s world an even playable type.  Cubicle 7 pulled it off in spades though.

TORdice

Dice mechanics include 12 siders that sport an Eye of Sauron or the Rune of Gandalf in the 1 & 12 spots.

Right away the focus of the game can be spied in how a Fellowship of players (adventuring party) complement one another.  A Dwarf may be stout and strong, but they can easily lose heart after their storied past.  The Hobbit in the group can assist though, they have hope and spirit in spades and can lift anyone from despair.  It has mechanics for stuff like that…and they don’t suck!

I found my favorite character to play was the Hobbit, not that I’m a power gamer to begin with, but it was still refreshing to not be useless and still be a Hobbit.  Everyone has fighting capability as well and the leveling system can help enhance that ability through not just stats but the collection of heritage weapons and abilities as well.

WandererWarden

The game tend to focus on the development of story and, once again, Fellowship more than traditional leveling and material wealth.  If you spend enough time working within a town you can become patrons of it and even make your way into something of a legendary status.

The game has been placed in the time between the fall of Smaug and the Lord of the Rings.  This gives your characters the chance to witness and adventure within the rise of Sauron and his forces.  Those forces are fun to fight as well, as combat is quick and easy to handle.  Players and enemies take turns via fighting styles and the game can thus be easily played in a Theatre of the Mind style.

I know I’ve only glossed over some major details but this isn’t exactly a review, more of a gush.  So I’ll leave you with some more artwork to play us out.  Final word though, if you really dig Middle Earth fiction and lore, I think you’ll find a lot to love here. Also, just out in PDF form and soon to be Hard Copy is the revised core manual!  Can’t wait to take a look!

Monsters

DAY TWENTY-TWO: BEST SECONDHAND RPG PURCHASE

A large portion of my Tabletop RPG library is secondhand.  I own and run so many different types of games that it’s rather rare for me to purchase something brand new.  I have plenty of games sitting around, waiting to be played.  So this question presents a varied field of choices, but I feel I have a good solution.  Two complimenting supplements, bought secondhand, that I use more than anything else in my library, Cityscape and Dungeonscape.

https://i0.wp.com/i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTYwMFgxMTg5/z/vAoAAMXQVT9TBOVh/$_35.JPG

CITYSCAPE

Unless you are actually playing 3.5 D&D &/Or Pathfinder there are going to be things less than useable from Cityscape, character class choices or certain rules for terrain.  This isn’t what I use the supplement for though.  I’ve long loved the tips and tools it gives you for crafting well designed cities.

A big complaint many had when Cityscape came out was that it was billed as a reference guide for both PCs and DMs and then upon execution it was plain to see they put way more work into the DM sections and left the PC stuff scant.  Fine by me though, it has helped the book retain a bit of a timeless quality of usefulness for any Dungeon Master looking for Citybuilding tools and even a good number of City styled NPCs.  There’s a reason its priced pretty highly on Amazon and the like.

DUNGEONSCAPE

Dungeonscape (not DungeonScape) is also a fine product.  When it came out the additions for Player Characters were actually much better than the Cityscape stuff.  I remember there were even some variant core classes (i.e. rules for an “Underground” Druid).  I found all of this to be a nice addition, even if I never used any of it.  I was in it for the dungeon crafting tools.

It gives new concepts for interesting terrain variants, and using its offerings you could really come up with some lively dungeon delving experiences.  Granted there are options that are somewhat outdated, like its kindred spirit above, but I still crack it open from time to time if I’m needing some good reference material to really put the fear of God into a dungeon crawl.  Which, shamefully, I haven’t done in a while.  Maybe I need to flip through some pages here and work up a crawl for the boys.  Maybe I’ll make a few walls crafted from souls…

DAY 23: COOLEST LOOKING RPG PRODUCT\BOOK

My coolest looking product is actually the work I’ve done using the Hirst Arts molds I’ve talked about with fair regularity during this RPGaDay spree.  I figure if I were to ever sell this stuff it would be a product for someone else so, to me, it fits the criteria.       3d Dungeon whole

Now, I know its amateurish work but I’m damn proud of what I’ve done with just those molds, some dental plaster, paint, and craft water.  Its also incredibly easy to get proficient at this stuff too.

I’m not going to give a full Step by Step guide on doing this, if you visit the Hirst Arts website they had a plethora of videos and guides that handle training far better than I could but here is a picture of what my Molds look like and I recommend a dental plaster that I order from Canyon State Dental Supply called Excalibur.  For a 50lb box you only pay $32.99 (plus some heavy shipping of course) and that entire dungeon you saw was made with only 1/3 of that 50lb box.  The stuff goes a long flippin’ way.3d Dungeon 06

The base I used, pictured to the right, is a cheapish foam board you can buy at any Michael’s, Wal-Mart, or Craft Store.  How lucky I left the sticker on when cutting the shape!  As you can see I use the 3/16 of an inch style.  All I had to use to glue the dried tiles to it was some Liquid Nails brand glue, but pretty much anything stronger than Elmer’s Glue would be workable.  You use the same glue to glue stone against stone as well.

3d Dungeon 05The first work I tried was just building some hallways and comers.  From the get go I wanted to make a whole dungeon, and wanted it to be made of modular pieces but I’m not going to lie and say what you saw above was my final vision.  No, it was very much a learning process on making a working dungeon that fit together and some of the smaller corners were certainly made just to fill in a gap I accidentally left empty when initially designing it.

3d Dungeon 01

3d Dungeon 03

Other fun modular pieces to make were doorways and of course the entrance to the whole thing.   I added torches and skulls for further character but I don’t think I care for the torches, which is a shame because removing them will leave a glue spot for me to file down.  Thing is though, I want to leave the option for my dungeons to be pitch black though.  So naturally I need to remove the light someone could point to.

3d Dungeon 02

The coolest part I worked on though were the rooms with the water effects.  Mainly because this gave me the opportunity to work with Craft Water.  I was so intrigued when the craft water started seeping into the crevasses of the stones near them, it really gave the impression that there was water flowing by.  A seriously cool effect.  I did some testing here where I handled the craft water differently for both pieces.  On one I painted the top of the craft water, giving it a duller look.  The other I painted the foam board below where I was going to put the craft water and it resulted in a shinier water effect.  Either looks really great but now I know how they look in case I want a clearer or murkier water look.

So there we have it folks, if you have any questions about Hirst Arts stuff I am more than willing to talk with you or answer comments about it.

DAY 24: MOST COMPLICATED RPG OWNED

I’ve remarked on this before but Hackmaster is truly the most complicated game I have in my collection.  The rules are like that for a reason though, its part of the schtick!  Hackmaster Sheild 02

Just look at the inside of that DM’s Shield!  Plenty of rules to try and keep straight.  Ever seen the rules for injuries?  Still a very playable game, it just boils things down to the minutia.  Of course the last time I really tried running the game I was a sophomore in High School…maybe I should give them a look over with the bit of experience I’ve picked up since then.

DAY TWENTY-FIVE: FAVORITE RPG NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO PLAY

I’ll go a bit odd here because, thankfully, today’s topic is a mite vague.  My live group has played this RPG extensively but may never play it again.  Typically it is reviled about the net and in game conversations worldwide, and I never really understood the vitriol.  It may not be my favorite game of all time but I do really like it.  Ok… I’ll stop teasing. The game I’m referencing is 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

https://i1.wp.com/angaming.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/dnd.jpg

I just erased a large collection of text that could have been titled “Why I think all the Haters are Wrong About 4e” and I’m more than willing to hold a lengthy conversation with someone if they wanted to hear me rant about it, but that’s not what today is about.  Instead I’m going to tell you about my concern that I may never get to play this fun little game again, and why that makes me sad.

https://i1.wp.com/www.g33kwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/wpid-RevenantScout.jpg

I LIKED all those cards and stuff, I made my own of course, but I liked em’!

I’ve always maintained that the rule system and concept behind 4th edition only made one mistake when it rolled out, and that’s being attached to the Dungeons and Dragons name.  Had an independent company introduced us to this style of game we would have been floored by how innovative it’s style really was.  I’ve never played an RPG with more balance infused into its core and the combat system handles as well as any tactical tabletop skirmishes game.  So while 4th isn’t my favorite version of Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition fits that mold now) it was a refreshing change from 3.5 that contained all the same lengthy battles and none of the balance.

https://melsmifgames.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/98d41-bugbeartable.png

I’ve made mention of my love for the Monster Builder, only truly GREAT thing from the Digital Tools. Encounter building & customization was easy due to balance again.

My concern though seems similar to that annoying “First World Problems” meme, 5th edition D&D is so good even the people I played with who liked 4th likely won’t ever want to play it again!.  I mean, it fell apart at Paragon level and above, the mystery surrounding magic weapons was diluted extensively, and the wizard class just felt odd, but I ran some of my best games through 4th edition D&D and had some of the best Roleplay my table has ever seen.  It holds a special place in my heart, and I’m afraid it may just fade out of style.  Maybe I can play it at a Con or something.

 

OH! Lastly, some of the best written Eberron guides & supplements ever made were done within the 4th Edition era, and I love me some Eberron!

https://i1.wp.com/img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100703201719/eberron/images/2/24/4E_Eberron_Campaign_Guide.jpg

DAY TWENTY-SIX: COOLEST CHARACTER SHEET

I believe I’ll choose from a more recent stock of character sheets out there and choose my favorite from the lot.  I love the Numenera Character Sheet.

https://i1.wp.com/www.biggameproductions.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/sheet.jpg

When I first glanced at the sheet I honestly thought it looked really busy but upon actually writing up a character and playing the game it is as functional as it is cool looking.

https://i1.wp.com/lantredugeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Num-Fiche-2.jpg

Its a great representation of the weirdness of its parent system and setting, not to mention the obvious work that was put in behind the scenes before this game rolled out.  The folks behind Monte Cook Games really polished everything well before launch.  Looking forward to more from them in the coming years.

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: GAME YOU’D LIKE TO SEE A NEW/IMPROVED EDITION OF

The 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is in the process of hitting the shelves and rather than a generic fantasy setting they’ve chosen the Forgotten Realms to hang their hat on.  The first thing this day’s question made me think of is not some system I’d like to see a new edition of but rather what Campaign Setting I wanted to see given life in the new Edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  So after scarce internal debate I’ve narrowed it down to two settings, and if you’ve paid any amount of attention to my incessant ramblings over this last month you can probably figure which two won out my interests.  Eberron and Ravenloft!

RAVENLOFT

The Demiplane of Dread has had a storied history with Dungeons and Dragons. Our first introduction to the Gothic Horror setting was with the module “Ravenloft” released in 1983 where adventurers were whisked away on the wings of malevolent mists to a fun little romp in the land of Barovia to hang out with everyone’s favorite tragic lover Strahd!

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/65/TSR1053_Ravenloft_Realm_of_Terror.jpg

Okay… maybe not so lovable

The module and its 1986 sequel module “The House on Gryphon Hill” were so popular that TSR decided to create a full campaign setting with the Realms of Terror boxed set, know colloquially as the “Black Box”.   My own personal introduction to Ravenloft was through the 3rd party work by White Wolf Studios, under its Sword and Sorcery, imprint during the 3.X edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

I’ve always loved the Gothic Horror feel of the game.  The Dark Powers touching everything, creating Dark Lords that rule their own corners of the plane whether they know it or not.  The downtrodden masses suffering at the whims of horrifying beasts and people.  No one is looking for heroes in these lands and when heroes do appear they are often met with distrust and are begrudgingly rewarded when they do help someone.  It’s dark, brooding, and horrible but a truly fun setting to play.

https://melsmifgames.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/22bc8-castleravenloft.jpg

Right now I believe all rights for the Campaign Setting have reverted back to Wizards of the Coast.  I kept waiting to see some Ravenloft love back during 4th Edition but we never did.  Instead my good friend Jake had to craft his own stuff, as I’ve mentioned before way back on Day 8 of this thing.  Hopefully we’ll see it under this new set of rules.

EBERRON

In 2002 Wizards of the Coast ran a contest called the Fantasy Setting Search to allow game designers the chance to be picked as the next Campaign setting for the Dungeons and Dragons system.  After sifting through over 11,000 entries the Campaign Setting written by Keith Baker, Eberron, was chosen.

When Eberron was released in June of 2004 I had just graduated from High School and was spending the summer working like a dog at a local golf course and conference center, generally enjoying most of the tropes one sees in a “teen summer” movie from the 80’s.  It was basically Caddyshack every day.  Gaming wasn’t left behind though, we played a lot during that summer and it was the first time Eberron entered our game.  We loved it from the get-go.  Magic, steampunk, and pulp noir filling every crevasse of a very fantasy world that brought races like the Warforged to life (and even the annoying changelings).  Always on the verge of another great war, likely never to advance in timeline much.  Truly fun stuff.

https://i1.wp.com/a401.idata.over-blog.com/2/03/54/79/2009.05.01/FaithsofEberron02.jpg

Later in college, once I had migrated to Mizzou to be with the rest of my pals, Eberron became our go to Campaign Setting.  I hold many fond memories of campaign after campaign set in the world.  Three separate, long-term, campaigns were run by three separate DM’s (Myself, my brother, and my buddy Nick) all set in Eberron.  Every week we got together and spent a little time in Khorvaire.

I’ve mentioned it before but the longest game I ever ran was a 4th Edition D&D game set in Eberron.  We played it for just over 2 years, you can even see many of my post game write ups on a blog I kept (LINK).  This setting has meant a lot to me and I’ve always wanted to thank Keith Baker for creating it.  I mean, even my twitter handle was chosen based on the name of Eberron’s most prolific city (Sharn).  So here’s hoping I get to see it reproduced once more for 5th Edition!

https://i0.wp.com/www.blogcdn.com/massively.joystiq.com/media/2010/06/airship-rb-618.jpg

Plus: Airships

I love both these settings and want to see more of them in the new rules.  I suppose it would be easy enough to modify some of the older stuff to fit 5th Edition (certainly easier than it was to modify them into 4th) but I’d like to see it done up proper.  We are still fresh in the launch, but things do seem to be coming along really well for this edition of D&D.  Hopefully though, even if we don’t get the two I want, we will get some more interesting settings than just the Forgotten Realms, a good starter but man is that a well trod landscape!

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: SCARIEST GAME YOU’VE PLAYED

The scariest game I’ve ever run was a game of Dread the RPG where the guys were being chased by a werewolf while trying to enjoy a float trip, it was one of the pre-mades for the system.  If you’ve never played Dread you should certainly give it a go!  The scariest game I’ve ever played though, well that was a Ravenloft game.

Caul RickrakThe game was part of the adventures of Caul Rickrak, one of his adventures I didn’t get to back on Day 8 of RPGaDay.  Our characters were somehow caught up in a request to look into an older building that ended up being haunted.  My memory of the exact details are very shaky but I remember the tone, it was all about our character’s faults.

One of our crew was an alcoholic, and not in the “har har, I take a drink every time we go to the tavern” type but rather someone who’s alcoholism actually got in the way at times.  Caul had his temper, of course, and the others I can’t seem to recall.  Great story, I know.

Shouldn't be anything off about this place...

Shouldn’t be anything off about this place…

One of the pivitol scenes for me was when Caul was attempting to simply climb a flight of steps and the entity just kept interferring, getting his temper flared up.  Then suddenly, after he began to feel utterly helpless, he was transported via illusion back to one of the many days the villiagers he grew up around turned on him.  In the vision they beat him and called him names, he felt more an more helpless until some good rolls finally broke the spell holding him and he laid waste to the shades of his past.

It was eeire and well played.  It’s that kind of stuff that makes me really want to see my buddy Jake run some more Ravenloft.  Just finding some good ways to make us feel a mite uneasy.

DAY TWENTY-NINE: MOST MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER

To tell true my most memorable encounter would likely be the one described on Day 17 of this #RPGaDay marathon, but that would make for a short post. So, I figure I’ll describe a few of my favorite encounters from one of the more memorable ongoing campaigns I had the pleasure of playing in before my gestation into the fine Dungeon Master I am today!

AN INTRODUCTION

Way back in high school my buddy Mike was our main DM. As the older brother of my friend and classmate Jake it may come as no surprise he’s a damn fine DM as well. To this day his 3.5 D&D campaign set in the Forgotten Realms is remembered for many things but mainly being the longest ongoing game we ever had. My character was Seavel Moonlance, a Moon Elf Fighter/Wizard who later became an Eldritch Knight.

Yeah... Remember this guy?... On the Carpet.

Yeah… Remember this guy?… On the Carpet.

Now, putting aside the fact that Seavel Moonlance is a terrible name (I said…put it aside…) he was actually an awesome character. He was a 3.5 Wizard after all. I had chosen Fighter at 1st level so I could better use the longsword my character was naturally good with, him being an elf and all, and I probably used it more than was warranted. I can still remember when I found that Longsword +1 with the added 1d6 fire damage, man that was something. Used that blade for a long time!

KERSHLACK

Even today that name is coupled with a deep seated rage. There were many encounters with that damned Kobold, because he just kept getting away! No matter how hard we pursued, he always had an escape plan. It makes sense for a Kobold to be crafty, so we couldn’t even fault Mike for writing in so many great escape plots. We could blame ourselves though, and we could sure as Hell blame Kershlack!

Kobold

Kerschlack don’t give a F$%&!

The one incident that stands out in my mind is not his defeat, though that was so worth it when the time finally came. No, the most memorable encounter with that little guy was the only time we were truly defeated soundly. It was by his hands alone that a party of mid level adventurers were defeated and captured.

We were on the chase after him, and this had not been the first time. He was leading us up a grassy knoll where we knew we would have him cornered. A few arrows had injured him, so he was easy to track. We were off after him at a dead sprint. When we finally cornered him we thought we would have time to gloat at our victory, but no such joy was to be had. We sat at the table in horror as Mike revealed that our characters had, in their haste, neglected to perceive the trap we had walked into.

I can’t recall its precise mechanics but it ended up being equivalent to a grease spell that caused our characters to slip and slide down a steeper portion of the knoll and into a giant net. The last thing Mike relayed to us as the session ended was Kershlack staring down at our trapped forms laughing his little scaly ass off. It was infuriating, defeating, and totally awesome!

https://i2.wp.com/starwarsvisualizer.ff0000.com/media//images/600px/ep6/612B_Caught_in_Net_HR.jpg

KERSHLACK!!!!

THE DIRE WEASEL INCIDENT

I can’t recall the details that got us there but we were in a fight. In this fight a big guy with a sword noticed that my character liked to waggle his fingers, say a few words, and then rain fiery balls of death on him and his buddies. Apparently he didn’t take kindly to my magical tendencies so he decided to rein me in, mostly by getting real close and personal with that big ol’ sword.

Now you may recall that Seavel possessed a skilled sword arm. Well that does exactly nothing to protect one’s supple Moon Elf skin from a Great Sword being swung by a man with forearms larger than my character’s legs. I needed a getaway fast. The best thing I could locate was big hole in the ground. The very same trap our rogue had discovered before the fight began. I decided to take my chances and leapt in.

I fell roughly 20 feet, so only incurred 2d6 damage from that, but before I could rejoice in the fact that there were no spikes adorning the floor I noticed what else occupied my little getaway hole…Fiendish Dire Weasels, two of em’.

https://i2.wp.com/www.koboldquarterly.com/k/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/weasel.jpg

Okay… I swear they weren’t this cute… I MEAN IT!

So while the battle raged above I struggled below with two fierce little bastards.  Sure, they were only CR 2 but I was injured already and they resisted the fire from my sword and… SHUT UP! The only spell I got off was Mage Armor so I did have some AC. The rest of the fight was just me and my sword against two full HP Dire Rodents! Mike was beside himself happy that someone had fallen into his little trap, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face either regardless of the fact I was in some serious duress.
In the end I fought off those annoying critters and didn’t allow Mike to kill me off. The guys still poked fun at me though, and to this day we still enjoy a good laugh at the idea of falling into a pit of Dire Weasels.

There are so many other great stories from that time. My buddy Nick ran a half-drow Rogue Shadow Dancer we dubbed “Rizzen the Great!”. Another friend who played a barbarian that Jake essentially ran for him because he was there just to hang out. The creation of the “Money Button”, the heartbeat sound we made when someone was trying to secure the critical hit they just rolled. Many good times for sure.

DAY THIRTY: RAREST RPG OWNED

The rarest RPG I own was actually given to me, and recently at that, by Eric over at Gamerstable. This game is one of the 200 signed Hardcovers of Corporia,by Mark Plemmons.

Corporia 1

The best way to find out more about Corporia would be to check out the successful Kickstarter, it funded back in December, check out their site, or even listen to the Gamerstable episode where Mark himself stops by to hang with the gang. The game is pretty solid.

You play as reincarnated versions of the Knights of the round table in a version of our modern day where the world has been utterly incorporated.  So what you get is a bit of a Shadowrun feel as you and your crew take on evil corporations in a shadow war.  Like I said though, the above mentioned links are certainly better means of figuring out what this game is all about. Of course you could certainly buy it too!  Check out DriveThru RPG for that!  Want a free taste?  Here are the free quick start rules.

Corporia 2

You can only get a pdf of the game currently, with some Hardcover love possibly showing up later this year.  I can’t be sure but my hunch is that there won’t be a large Hardcover printing, and I’ve got number 200 of the 200 Hardcover limited edition signed copies.  It’s a really cool item and I can’t wait to dig even more into the rules!

DAY THIRTY-ONE: FAVORITE RPG OF ALL TIME

The entire month has lead up to this question and I’ll just have to go with the obvious, easy choice.  My favorite RPG of all time is Dungeons and Dragons.  Maybe that’ll change decades down the line but for now there isn’t a single RPG out there that invokes the wealth of nostalgia D&D provides for me.  I’ve been playing it for decades, and if the quality of 5th edition tells me anything I’ll be giving it even more of my time.

There isn’t much else to be said honestly.  I’ve given D&D many accolades throughout this little project David Chapman created (thank you David!) and I doubt I could ever sum up in mere words what pulling out a character sheet or DM’s Shield means to me.  So I’ll just leave this last write up short and sweet. Many thanks to Gygax and Arneson for their initial stumble into the game and then their vision of making it even bigger, and thank you to the many authors of other editions and supplements for the game over the years.

Gaming means a lot to me, it is a window to my own imagination and the collective imaginations of others who mean a lot to me.  I love gaming dearly and it has been a pleasure writing for 31 days about it.  Take care folks, and good gaming to all!

-Melvs

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s