Embrace the Chaos

I have done it. I’ve given in to the madness and just let my players run amok in my world doing as they will. You know what, though, it was actually quite brilliantly fun. I enjoyed it a lot and I think the players did to.

I did realize I really need to work on descriptions I give to my players. I think part of it is I just need to take more notes and have some stuff ready but I pretty much failed at conveying that the army camp they were going to was a big ass army base.

I did this session by the seat of my pants. My only planned item was for them to find the small camp at the beginning of the session. From there I just played by ear. We had fun but it was a lot of work and I’d like to cut it down to where I don’t have to scramble for things for them to do.

 

When last we had left our heroes they had just reached the boarder to Milana. They decided that the missing boy and his family had followed the river North and then cut East to Queen’s Portal.  Here we picked up with the guys crossing a toll bridge to get on the Eastern side of the river and then head out from there.

They spot some smoke in the distance and the cleric tries to get his pet raven to go ahead. It does fly ahead but does not come back for over half an hour. Most of the group waited, the Paladin, however treks on. She discovers a grizzly scene. A camp with six dead bodies in it.

Five of the bodies were humans, three had their throats slit. All five had been stripped down to their underwear, but their armor had been tossed aside. The sixth was a changeling wearing leather armor with no marking or identification of who he was or which country he’d come from.

They look around camp and find some money in a pouch, a lot of shovels and pickaxes and wagon tracks leading North. There were lots of boot prints around the camp and leading away both North and South.

After the PCs bury the dead they camp there for the night and get attacked by a small pride of lions. Because it’s a savannah they’re on, that’s why.  In the morning they pack up and leave heading North following the cart tracks.

They make it to an Army Base. They’re asked if they’re enlisting and learn that Milana and Jinash have just declared war on each other. The officers eyeball the changelings in the group and the Paladin signs for them, making them her responsibility. They sell off all of the gear they’ve gotten from adventuring so far, as they’ve looted a band of orcs, a band of goblins and the camp they just came from.

The paladin then decides they should go to the Cantina to try and find out more about this war. The PCs walk in and the place goes silent, everyone is looking at the two changelings in the party. One, the mage, is suitably terrified and tries not to catch anyone’s eye. Not so, the rogue. The rogue assuming that since he is spoken for he cannot be touched is smiling at everyone, and oogling the women folk.

A drunken soldier gets up and gets in his face,  throwing a punch. He misses but the barbarian perks up and punches the guy. A brawl breaks out and several things happen in quick order, the Paladin, cleric and mage run for the MPs and the mage drops obscuring mist.

The brawl rages on through the mist filled tent and eventually the rogue decides to get the hell out of dodge. The Paladin finds the MPs but they’re content to let the men fight it out and pick up and punish the pieces later. And the barbarian keeps fighting until he drops.

The paladin takes the barbarian away with the rest of the group who stop a mile or so away from the base. She then goes back with cleric in tow to find out more information about the war. She gets a list of bountied persons and tried her hardest to enlist the group, but was told to hold off by the cleric.

They returned to the rest of the party and we ended with them arguing about if they should join the army or not and why.

 

In the end I decided that It’s going to be okay that they veered off of what I had imagined for this campaign. I have the advantage of knowing the world. I’m just going to keep following where they lead because it might be somewhere awesome and that I have never expected.

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Herding Cats, Session 2 as DM

I survived my second session running my game, and I even had a lot of fun doing it. Still had some wack-a-doodle attendance issues, two players are still MIA, one who was there last game couldn’t make it for school reasons, but on the bright side my Cleric decided she was up to playing AND I had a new player join us.

I got the message about the new player only a few hours before game so we started late to give him some time to create his character. I corralled all of my PCs to a tavern where my barbarian was asking if anyone had seen his tribe by way of saying “Have you seen anyone like this?” and pointing to the crest on his shield.

The running joke was everyone asking him how you lose a tribe.

My players caught onto the hook I had planned with the missing family. They spoke to a silver smith who was upset his apprentice had gone missing and negotiated a reward for finding him. They met a thief (New player) who could show them out into the slums where the missing family lived.

With a massive bluff roll our thief stole the house from squatters claiming he’d bought it and the paladin who’d waited behind was his personal guard. He then put a large for sale sign on it and asked an exorbitant price.

The Barbarian found an iron skillet that had been thrown into the river from the boat the family had left on. It piqued curiosity since the apprentice was a changeling.  They found out that the family had traveled north on the river.

They used knowledge local to figure out what was up north. I said it was toward the city proper, and then they asked what was beyond the city and found there was nothing until you reached the border with the next country. They did not check the city. They decided that the family must have fled the country.

Well crap.

I’d hoped to get them to check the city itself outside of the slums, but they ran off into the wilderness. Now they are at the border and headed toward Queen’s Portal. Interestingly this brings them back by an abandoned hook from the first game. I ended game when they got to the border because I am not yet very good at planning on my feet.

How am I going to get them back to the right country? I don’t know. I don’t want to railroad them but almost all of my planning for the campaign centered on them being in this country at least.

We’ll see how it goes from here.

I’d love to know what a more experienced DM would do in my shoes. I’m a little out of sorts but I still have a week and a half before my next session. Surely something can be planned in that time.

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I’m a level 1 Dungeon Master

Last Saturday, the 22 was the first session of my game.  It got off to a bit of a bumpy start. Mostly it was my fault, I sent out the world info very late and the game happened to be three days before Christmas. One player chose not to play in the session and we had 3 who didn’t show up. This left me with 4 active players.

When the host’s wife decided she didn’t feel like playing I took control of her PC because she was playing the cleric. I think that shocked her a little bit, but I couldn’t let my PCs go on without a healer. In general I just let them know there were more guards they just weren’t being talkative. Since it was the first game I didn’t have a frame of reference to portray the character beyond giving out healing.

From there on I looked over some random encounter tables and gave them something to do. They ran across a pack of wild dogs, which had the hilarious consequence of having the PCs need to make checks to make sure they didn’t hit the barbarian’s pet war dog.  They also ran astray of some giant mantis and a boar. A couple times I knocked PCs out of the fight, but nobody died…yet.

In all I think the best part was when the PCs got robbed by a thief. He only stole one thing, a letter for a diplomat in the capitol that the paladin had been carrying. They managed to catch him, and beat him until unconscious. They turned him over to the Caravan leader, but tried to question him themselves.

It was the first time I really got into an NPC role. In fact to portray him I was actually channeling one of my DMs. He loves to play the bastard rogue and that’s just what this NPC was. As a player the DM went for the paladin this time and he gave me the hairy eyeball when the thief gave non-answers to questions.

My personal favorite:

Paladin: Who hired you?

Thief: Tall guy, gray hair.

Mage: Can you be more specific?

Thief: (indicates taller than himself) About this high, gray hair.

In the end I finished the game once they’d gone to the capitol and delivered the letter.  Three of the players for the session were DMs themselves and they all told me that they’d had a great time. I could have cried I was so excited I didn’t fuck it up.

It was a little rocky, and it felt like I had no earthy idea what I was doing, but in the end all of my players had fun and that was probably the best feeling in the world. I know I am neurotic sometimes but I think if I can remember that this is not so terribly serious I can get by.

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Changelings, and Settings and Lessons oh my

Lesson first. I’ve been quiet for a while now since posting several possible changes to the possible rules of magic. The reason for that is, well, it’s the holidays and I’ve just not had time for anything. Biggest lesson I’m learning from this is not to start a new game during this time of year. I has been a nightmare and with my first session TONIGHT I just sent out info on the setting to my players. I hope they don’t eat me alive.

A more minor lesson I’ve learned is to keep it simple. Rather than re-writing the rules of magic I have simplified it down to two things. There is a limited number of casters in the party, and I will be making a percentile roll each time a spell is cast. It has a 2/3 chance of success so anything over 30 means the spell goes off correctly. Anything under and the spell fizzles out and the slot is burned for the day.

While the biggest problem with my last posts were in the magic department, some people pointed out that my build for changelings didn’t fit for Pathfinder. To be honest I didn’t look at the rules for creating a race before building it. I since have and here it is.

Changelings are creatures that are part human part faerie. Essentially some time in their bloodline a faerie boned a human. Sometimes the changelings don’t show up in the family until generations later. Kooky genetics. They look mostly humonoid but have some animalistic features. Their skin ranges from normal human tones to hues in any color of the rainbow. Some have feathers or scales in place of hair but all of them have eyes with little or no whites to them that you can see. Think of bird or dog eyes. They are often described as looking striking but at the same time seeming wrong.

    • Ability Score Racial Traits: Changelings are smart and quick but are more fragile than humans, they get +2 to Int and +2 to Dex and a -2 to Con
    • Size: Changelings are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
    • Base Speed: Changelings have a base speed of 30 feet.
    • Languages: Changelings begin play speaking Common. Changelings with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
    • Fey Immunities: Changelings get a +2 on saving throws against illusion spells and effects.
    • Keen Senses: Changelings get a +2 racial bonus to perception.
    • Low-Light Vision: Changelings can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
    • Cold Iron Weakness: Changelings have a racial allergy to cold iron and get a -5 AC against cold iron weapons.

The cold iron weakness is not a standard PF rule but something I added to fit with the world I am setting the game in speaking of the world take a look at the info I sent out to my players.  I had such a hard time being able to find time to write it I hope it serves the purpose and the players get a real feel for the setting.

You are on an island continent in the southern hemisphere divided into three kingdoms. To the Northwest is the kingdom of Milana. It’s a patriarchal monarchy run by humans. To the Northeast is the kingdom of Jinash. The monarchy goes through maternal lines, but king and queen are brother and sister. The heirs are born to the Queen from her husband and the cycle continues. It’s run by changelings. To the South is the kingdom of Erae. It’s a monarchy but gives no regard for gender. The crown is passed to eldest child of the monarch. It is also run by changelings.

In-between the three kingdoms is a large piece of land called Queen’s Portal. The area is full of giant wild mushrooms and small pools of water. Changelings come to this place because of it’s strong links to the world of faeries. On the side bordering Jinash it is surrounded by mountains which are hard to pass through. On the side bordering Milana is protected by a human army training camp. The side bordering Erae is also protected by an army camp, but they allow pilgrimage to Queen’s Portal.

You guys are starting in the City of Asrai, one of the twin cities on the boarders of Jinash and Erae, Asrai is on the Erae side and Kul is in Jinash. The two cities are connected by a massive bridge build over the Orton River which marks the boarder between the two kingdoms. Kul and Asrai are a good place for anyone looking for work to start. The cities are a massive place of trade between the two kingdoms and more often than not has a string of caravans leaving to Queen’s portal where many Changelings make pilgrimage.

Being that you’re in Erae, you know a bit about what has been happening recently with the court. King Dolan has been married to Princess Consort Wren for six years now and she has failed to produce a living heir to the throne. She’s had several miscarriages as wells as two children who died within days of being born. The king’s brother, Gethin has had designs to get the throne since his brother’s coronation. There is pressure from the Court for King Dolan to name an heir in the event his wife never has a healthy offspring. He’s pointedly refused to name his brother heir. There are rumors that the king has started an affair with a Jinashan diplomat, Lady Surya and plans for her to bear him a child to name heir.

You have all been hired by the latest caravan going to Queen’s Portal and then on to Virika the capitol city of Erae. There is promise of work in the city once you make it there.

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Tweaking the Mechanics

Last post I shared a custom magic mechanic for my Pathfinder game and there were some problems with it. I have listened to those who told me about how broken it was and I have made some changes, I’d love to get some more feedback before I work on coming at this from  different angle.

NOTE: This campaign will be using CORE RULEBOOK ONLY

Wizard, Sorcerer, Druid, and Cleric are no longer playable classes in my game.

Magic(Arcane) [Prerequisite Int 13] and Magic(Divine) [Prerequisite Wis 13] are feats. Only one magic feat may be taken.

There are no spell level requirements.

Spells must be learned, taught, or bestowed.

Spell points per level = 1+ 1/2 Int(Arcane) or 1/2 Wis(Divine) modifier.

Upon taking magic the player chooses 20 levels of spells known with 0 level spells costing 1/2 level each. The list must get DM approval.

Spells cost 1 point per level to cast, level 0 spells being free.

Players can spend 1 temporary point of Con to gain 5 additional spell points, for every Con point sacrificed after the first they take an additional 1d4 con damage.

Spell points are recovered at 1 per hour. Additional spell points gained from sacrificing Con must be recovered before regular spell points are recovered.

In addition, all spell DCs are +5 because of the rare but potent nature of spells in this world

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Custom Mechanics and Races Oh My!

It’s been a while, but I have reason to take up the blog again, I’ve got three weeks to get my butt in gear and get my campaign ready to be played by my wonderful gaming group. Now, this is not the Grimm game I’ve been talking about forever. My DM, Delusional Muse, convinced me to set a game in the same world as one of the novels I have written.

I decided that I would create a Pathfinder game set in my world of Isabia.

So far smooth sailing but some of the mechanics didn’t fit the world I’d created which has very limited magic and only two races.

So here is my solution to magic, Delusional Muse and I created a new mechanic:

Wizard, Sorcerer, Druid, and Cleric are no longer playable classes in my game.

Magic(Arcane) and Magic(Divine) are feats.

There are no spell level requirements.

Spells must be learned, taught, or bestowed.

Spell points per level = 1+ 1/2 int(Arcane) or 1/2 wis(Divine) modifier. Should a character take both magic feats it goes off of the higher modifier.

Upon taking magic the player chooses 20 levels of spells known with 0 level spells costing 1/2 level each.

Spells cost 1 point per level to cast, level 0 spells being free.

Players can spend 1 temporary point of Con to gain 5 additional spell points, for every Con point sacrificed after the first they take an additional 1d4 con damage.

Spell points are recovered at 1+ Wis or Int Modifier per hour. Additional spell points gained from sacrificing Con must be recovered before regular spell points are recovered.
In addition, all spell DCs are +5 because of the rare but potent nature of spells in this world

All spell like abilities are gained as normal, but spells require the magic feats.

I think it’s a nice system we got worked out but I’d love to hear from you if you have any concerns about how it affects balance in the game.

The other problem I had with my setting is the races. Humans were easy enough because their mechanic is already written in the game. My other race is changelings. I know that the Pathfinder Advanced Races guide has a build for changelings but it didn’t fit with the world I’d created so Delusional Muse and I took a swing at creating our own version.

Changelings are quicker than humans, more adept at magic and have keen senses. They are however more fragile than humans and have a weakness to cold iron.

They get:

+2 Dex, -2Con

+1 to spot, listen, and search

Dark Vision

+1 to spell DCs

Vulnerability to Cold Iron

Let me know what you think.

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I Ain’t Dividing This Loot!

Amazon is an evil, evil delicious and evil website which encourages you to spend entirely too much money when in reality you honestly just went there to pick up just ONE item. That being said, I GOT MAD LOOTZ!

So, a little bit after New Years I went on Amazon to buy a Pathfinder module. A little note popped up that if I bought just a few more dollars worth of items I could get free super shipper savings. Here is where the trouble all started. I began looking at my recommendations.  I recently cleaned up the list they use to create recommendations so it was mostly roleplaying things since that is what was in my cart.

I have an inner bargain hunter who is pretty vocal. I very soon began seeing things I liked, that I could buy used for WAY cheaper than new. So I kept adding things to my cart, and adding things to my cart, and still I couldn’t qualify for super shipper savings. But, in the end it all worked out here are some of the things I bought:

 

Crypt of the Everflame

This is the module that someone suggested I begin DMing with over on Twitter. It’s the first thing I put in my cart and the reason I am no going broke from a round of splurge shopping.

1983 Red Cover Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Rulebook

It just seemed like something a gamer like me should have. It’s an early edition which appeals to me. I want to see the suggestions for running a game from back in the day.

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

and

Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange

I like non-fiction. I like gaming. Seemed like a no brainer to me.

 

And my big prize!

Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax

I was so excited when I spotted this I nearly spit water all over my computer.

 

I also learned about Gygax’s Gygaxian worlds series of books and was so upset I could not find the whole set for a reasonable price. I did find a download of his World Builder, which is epic and awesome and I need to find a hard copy to hilight the shit out of.

 

I was gonna have pictures but then my camera disappeared. Sorry.

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