City of Brass

CityofBrass_1000w

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Move over Obsidian Portal! Just into the slow lane though, because you’re still cool, don’t completely get off the road or anything. City of Brass is just a touch cooler is all. Damn… now I’m worried I hurt Obsidian Portal’s feelings… ah, what can you do?

FireLogo_1200City of Brass is a web based application from Ember Design Studios LLC. dedicated to bringing the tools you need to the table electronically in order to run, or play, your game as efficiently as possible. Especially if you want to free up some table space by avoiding reams of paper. Those that run the game and those that play can use their City of Brass avatars to become members of their own affiliation, set in a world of their own creation (hosted on the site) if they like, to have everything they need in easy reach to get around the table and play. Early into my exploration for this review I knew some solid craft went into this product. I think you’ll not be disappointed.

ResidentOne of the first things you’ll do when signing onto City of Brass will be to create an avatar, or Resident as they are called, to represent yourself within the City. This is a fluff touch that you can be as creative with as you like, or simply use as a name to work with for your future affiliations with other Residents. True to form I went as far as to craft a descriptor for “Melvin Smif” as a “Bearded Wordsmith” and even a backstory of sorts for his place in the metropolis. I like this as it already goes to making me feel like I’m affiliated with all the other users of the site. Considering group collaboration is presented as a hallmark of CoB, anything that makes you feel more associated with the group as a whole is great.

Once you’ve crafted your avatar where you go next is up to you. Though, you might find yourself checking out the forum, known as the Symposium. There you’ll chat about potential game ideas with others, read news about updates to site, hit up the FAQs or Support areas, or just gab in the general area. Your typical forum but with a layout I find easy to use. It’s an excellent resource to get a grasp on some of the current goings on of the site and tips for handling the other features. It’s also a great place to gain some affiliates.

The meat of the site lies with the ability to craft your own page to house everything you’d need for your game table, all housed under the Campaign Manager. Many of the users on the site have gone to great lengths to feature their own home-brew worlds & games but you could certainly carve out details of an established campaign setting that are relevant to your group’s adventuring. There are a number of micro sites within the larger whole used to craft everything located in your Campaign Manager. These three Builder platforms are on the site under the Toolkit drop-down and are known as the Entity Builder, the World Builder, and the Story Builder.

The Entity Builder is where you build player characters (if you’re simply playing the game), npcs, and monsters. This isn’t a pure character generator, although many choices are auto-populated, this is a place where you will need to ensure certain modifiers are entered in the correct spots based on race and class. I found it a bit fiddly but was able to work my way through. Thankfully the site provides some great tutorials in the form of YouTube videos for any of the areas you might be struggling with. The end result is a solid character sheet, npc, or monster you can incorporate into a game. Currently anything you upload is available to you alone and to others you provide the url to, stock images and characters are currently in the realm of the admins, but there are steps being taken to add a “Community Content” portion to the site.

World Builder

The World Builder would be the next logical step for a GM, players tend to stick with just making a character. Here you can go into some great depth with world-craft. You can add a bevy of items here. Under the Atlas Entry you can add pictures of maps you’ve crafted and add explanations of the world they represent. Through Inhabitant you can help other explore the unique NPCs or various races that make up your populace. The choices are many, and varied. Religions & Deities, articles of Lore, various Planes of existence, etc. There are many worlds out there already that are open to public viewing, labeled as Districts in the City, and I’ve seen some really detailed worlds out there. Of course your world can be divided into public items and secret ones. There are just somethings your players don’t need to see yet.

Lastly we have the Story Builder. Once again I checked out the YouTube tutorial available on the site for this builder, though by now I’m getting the hang of everything pretty well as there’s a lot of similarities between the building engines (this is well executed). Through the Story Builder you can really craft a great adventure. Most of what you’ll do is add written content but you can pull in any stock pictures, creatures, and npcs that you might need from the website as a whole or from your own pool. Another nice feature is the Handouts portion that allows the players to see only the items placed there, blocking the rest of the adventure but allowing for them to know what they need.

After using all the builders to craft the various worlds, adventures, and entities populating the two you move things over to the Campaign Manager. Here you mash it all together into a fine working Campaign machine. You can showcase adventure logs, player characters, the world you’re operating in, etc. All the parts leading to a nicely crafted whole.

Before I scoot out, one thing I’d love to see are some character generators that are a bit better at filling in the details for you (for those systems where it’s legal to craft a character generator of course). I have to imagine things like that are in constant evolution though, and to be honest many of these systems have generators all over the net so you aren’t missing much.

I really enjoyed checking out City of Brass and I hope my words have peaked your interest. Though, if you want to know more it’s best you check it out yourself. There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can log in and tinker around. If you like what you see, sign on for another month, at only $3.00 a month, or at a discounted rate of $24.00 for an entire year.  Here’s the awesome news though. Readers of my blog are getting some love from the the ruling class within the City of Brass.

I hope you head on over and try it out, I know I’ve enjoyed my time in the City of Brass. I hope you will too. Also, look me up and add me as an Affiliate! Also, if you have any further questions you could always reach out to the creators on Twitter, on Facebook, Youtube, or check out their FAQs.

-Melvs

Out of the Abyss: Adventure Two

Travel-Settlement

ADVENTURE TWO

SYNOPSIS:

Last night’s game was a slug-fest. I mean, I knew it would be but I never imagined the fight would last the entire session! The guys went toe to toe with some of the nastiest denizens of Velkynvelve and scrapped out a win… as in they survived long enough to flee into the depths of the Underdark.

PREPARATION:

Thankfully my prep for this adventure was supplemented mostly by Adventure One’s prep. I already had all the monster tokens I needed for the fight and had printed off the bulk of the monster stats from my scanned MM pages. There were only a few other items of note.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

  • I needed a battle map so I did what I typically do. I use the one inch by one inch excel sheet I made to craft one
    • Here’s my take on the ledge overlooking the drop-off where the lift runs. I made it a little bit larger than the map in the book dictates because things would have been incredibly crowded for the fight. If you take issue with my deviating from the written source material just remember that I typically don’t run pre-made games anyway.
  • I devised a roll system to determine how long the guys would have before the following things occurred. Essentially, at the start of the fight I rolled a d6 to see how many rounds it would take for the Vrock and the Chasme Demons to finish their little spar. After that I used a D4 to determine how many rounds until reinforcements and a D6 to see what kind of reinforcements would show.
    • D6 for what kind of Reinforcements
      • D1 – Ilvara, Asha, Shoor, and Jorlen Show up
      • D2-3 – Three Drow
      • D3-4 – Two Quaggoth
      • D6 – Two Drow & a Drow Elite
  • I also figured that for every person on the lift beyond 5 I would make it a 20% chance the lift would break under the additional strain. I told the guys it looked like it could fit 4 people comfortably but I knew it could handle the weight of 5 easily.
  • I decided it would take 8 rounds for the lift to get to the floor and return.

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

  • Solaris – Half-Elven Bard
  • Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric
    • Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall
  • Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian
    • Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall
  • Ander – Half-Elven Paladin
    • Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture
  • Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer
    • Has sworn revenge on Ilvara for her role in the deaths of Tosy & Turvy

ADVENTURE TWO:

Battlebards Cue: “Dark Elf Temple” by Mike Bridge

Not much to tell story wise, merely a play by play of action. The guys equipped themselves while the outpost continued to defend itself from the rampaging demons that flew above them. They attempted to deliberate and come up with a plan but their time was short as the Vrock fell from the air, crushing open the side of the stalactite they were taking refuge in. This left them fully open to the contingent of drow and quaggoth on the ledge near the lift. A battle began.

The first thing they did was ignore the stunned Vrock, and with good reason as the beast decimated a drow before it took back off into the air. The fight was a good one though and only two of the heroes were ever dropped, our paladin Ander and the Dwaven NPC Eldeth. Hunar was able to heal Ander, getting him back into the fight, and Edleth was stabilized last minute by Shuushar.

The PCs were not alone during the fight, the NPCs helped as well. Prince Derendil gave in fully to his quaggoth nature and dropped a number of enemies with assistance from Jimjar and Eldeth as well. Shushaar remained true to his pacifist nature, Buppido simply held back near Stool, Sarith spent most of the time muttering to himself and clutching his head, and Ront…well Ront decided to be a right bastard.

Ront

Ront… you’re a prick

At about the midpoint of the fight Ront fled directly to the lift and used the distraction everyone else was providing to escape to the floor below. Solaris attempted to stop him but was unable to battle against the orc’s brute strength. The players watched with no small measure of rage as the orc fled into the darkness below.

From there it was a matter of clearing out the enemies left over, doing a bit of searching, and sending a number of groups down the lift. Solaris was fortunate in finding something he thought odd on one of the Drow warriors. A lute imbued with magical power, quite the treasure for the Bard. As the last group was heading downward there was an attempt above to stop the lift. At least they’d learned one thing from Ront’s cowardly act, they know they could counteract the braking mechanism. Soon they were all fleeing into the Underdark wilds themselves.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

Can’t say I went in unprepared here. The fight was long but it went smoothly.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE SO FAR ABOUT OOTA: Chapter One

  • LIKES:
    • The start off point is solid and different. Throws the players directly into survival mode.
    • A few solid ideas were given for potential escape points. The Jorlen concept is great and I love that even though the players may never know the full reason he’d be willing to release them they ensure the DM knows exactly why.
    • I really like the next part, Chapter 2, but I can’t really go into great detail about that.
  • DISLIKES:
    • The Players had very little chance of getting out of prison without a DM push for them. My group noticed Jorlen and pursued getting him on their side but not a lot of groups would think to do that.
    • The NPCs should come with stats. All it would have taken was one extra page in Appendix C.
    • Would have been nice to detail some daily routines in the Outpost.
    • Wizards of the Coast needs to give us the ability to purchase .pdfs of their Monster Manual at least. Having to choose to flip back and forth between two books for monster stats is terrible and I know for a fact their core books are already available for illegal download anyway so I really don’t grasp their fears in this arena (Barely a commentary on OotA and more of an “overall” complaint I know but… c’mon Wizards).