10/21/14

Con on the Cob Post-Convention Post

Now that I have been to my first gaming convention, Con on the Cob, I can no longer consider myself a casual gamer. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy my convention experience, but I figured I should go at least once in my life. Now that I have been to a convention, I can say that I had an absolute blast. I am ready to go again.

Characters and Sessions
I played in five sessions--four of them official convention sessions and one unofficial. Five of our Monday Night Ubergoobers gaming group were able to attend and we had three sessions with all five of us.

Session 1: I played Theddrick, a human cleric, in a Dwimmermount session using Labyrinth Lord. This was a good session to start the Con on the Cob convention experience. The second half of the session was particularly fun. Kudos to +Jim Yoder for running a fun session.

Session 2: I played Pat West, a Tuscon AZ police officer, in a Cryptworld session. I immediately fell in love with the Cryptworld mechanics and we had an excellent group. +Tim Snider did a marvelous job running the session.

Session 3: Our Monday Night Ubergoobers got together for a session of The Esoterrorists (Gumshoe system). +Tim Shorts GMed the session and I played Ben Monday, a history teacher. It was the one session that didn't come to a conclusion so I am hoping we can get back to the setting and characters during our Monday night sessions. Tim did a great job of prepping for the session and running a compelling adventure. This was my one unofficial session at the convention.

Session 4: I played Billam the dwarf in a Dungeon Crawl Classics session, run by +Roy Snyder. Roy did a great job as GM and really liked the DCC rules. This was the one session where all five Monday Night Ubergoober gamers played together in a session run by someone else. It took some willpower for my character to not kill +Rob Conley's charisma 5 character (no one nails low charisma roleplaying like Rob). This session ran long so we moved it to the bar, which seems to be the appropriate place for a DCC session.

Session 5: I played Gnip Gnome (the "G" is not silent), a gnome fighter as +Rob Conley ran a Swords & Wizardry/Majestic Wilderlands session. Lots of great action and groovy opportunities for role playing, which is a hallmark of Rob's GMing. We had a low charisma group (3, 6, 6, 10 and 10) so there was lots of snarkiness and fun unpleasantries with our group.

Purchases
I had a good time spending money and I could have spent a lot more. Here is what I picked up:


Takaways
As I reflect back on my experience, here are some things that come to mind:

  • I really like conventions. I am already looking forward to next year, plus I might add a few other conventions to my calendar in 2015. Maybe one in Michigan to catch up with my high school gaming buddies. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.
  • More sleep and healthier food. I need more sleep and healthier food. We did get a pile of sandwiches from Subway, but I should have packed fruit and other healthy stuff.
  • Play things I would not otherwise have a chance to play. I really enjoyed DCC and Cryptworld--I picked up a copy of each (DCC from Rob Conley). Maybe try to play a Savage Worlds session next time.
  • Meet people. I enjoyed meeting people and making some new gamer friends. Next time around I will be more proactive. 
  • I have two new games that I will play: Cryptworld and Dungeon Crawl Classics. I am hoping to get a few local semi-gamer friends (plus my wife) into a Cryptworld campaign in the next month. Thanks to +Tim Snider for an inspirational session. 

7/2/14

Montporte Dungeon Campaign Session 37 Notes

The Cast
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the Second Circle (Half Orc, Hunter): +Tim Shorts  (Gothridge Manor)
Dante Rathburn (Human, Warlock): +Chris C.  (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Luven Lightfinger (Human, Thief): +Rob Conley   (Bat in the Attic)
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, Marksman): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
Marcus Aurelius (Magic Sword): NPC
Daria (Human, Rebel Leader): NPC
Silvaria (Human, Rebel): NPC
Muh ("Gaunt," Rebel): NPC
Zot ("Gaunt," Rebel): NPC
Mechlor (Thuragian, Rebel): NPC
Dwemmon (Gnome): NPC
6 Naked Dwarfs
7 Rescued Gnomes
5 Cave Goats

The Session
The brave adventurers had just finished an encounter with Elias the One, leader of the "Breeders." The party was victorious, but Elias managed to escape to parts unknown (Session 36). The party decided that they should return the rescued gnomes to their underground forest home, but neither the gnomes nor the party knew the route. The party started Session 27 in Room 1 on Map A below.
Map A (1 square = 5 feet)
Luven, using the Cap of Useful Ideas, suggested that the party use the portable teleport pad that they had with them to see if would take them in the correct direction. The party had not tried to use this 6' x 6' magical carpet since they obtained from a group of hobgoblins in Session 29. The party unrolled the carpet and, one at a time, stepped into the teleport area. The party was teleported to a place they had never been, Room 2 on Map B below.
Map B (1 square = 5 feet)
They were in a small room with the red "destination" teleport pad on the floor. They soon discovered that Room 2 was a small building in a large high cave with topsoil and dead trees. After close examination and some divine inspiration, Adzeer determined that some sort of demon fungus had attacked and killed the trees.

The party made their way east and found another small building; this one containing Room 3 (Map B above). Room 3 featured a  10' x 10' metal grating in the middle of the floor. The party looked up and saw doors in the ceiling. Deciding correctly that this was some sort of elevator, they looked for and found the mechanism to operate it. The party ascended 150' on the elevator (as estimated by Adzeer) and the party arrived in Room 4 (Map C below).
Map C (1 square = 5 feet)
The party moved into Room 5 and found a small grove of dead trees. These trees were killed by being burned. The party saw another elevator in Area 6 but chose not to explore. The party then moved to Rooms 8 and 9, both of which were part of a living area for gnomes. It was abandoned and some of the rooms had suffered serious fire and explosion damage. The party did find a few small gold bars. They also discovered a flaming grill in the northeast corner of Room 9. This turned out to be a magic item, Weber's Everburning Flaming Grill.

The session ended at this point. It was the only session that we could remember where there were no encounters. While we would not want a steady diet of encounterless sessions, this one created an eerie sense of emptiness, gloom and destruction. It also emphasized that the party were lost again as a result of using the teleport carpet.

The Dungeon So Far
Level 1 (1 square = 5 feet)
Level 2 (1 square = 5 feet)
Level 3 (1 square = 5 feet)
Mystery Level A (1 square = 5 feet)
Mystery Level B (1 square = 5 feet)

6/30/14

Monday Moodsetter 55

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?

6/23/14

Montporte Dungeon Campaign Sessions 33-36 Notes

The Cast of Thousands
Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the Second Circle (Half Orc, Hunter): +Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor)
Dante Rathburn (Human, Warlock): +Chris C.  (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Luven Lightfinger (Human, Thief): +Rob Conley  (Bat in the Attic)
Duncan Kern (Gnome, Wizard/Thief): Dan
Leif (Half-Elf, Wizard/Cleric): Josh
Larramore “Little Larry” (Kobold, Marksman): NPC
Diana (Human, Torch Bearer, Goat Driver): NPC
Marcus Aurelius (Magic Sword): NPC
Daria (Human, Rebel Leader): NPC
Herodius (Human, Rebel): NPC
Silvaria (Human, Rebel): NPC
Muh ("Gaunt," Rebel): NPC
Zot ("Gaunt," Rebel): NPC
Mechlor (Thuragian, Rebel): NPC
Dwemmon (Gnome): NPC
30 Naked Dwarfs
7 Rescued Gnomes
5 Cave Goats

The Setting
Sessions 33, 34, 35, and 36 of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign all occurred on Map A (2nd Level) and Map B (3rd Level). All the spiral staircases on Map A are descending and correspond to the spiral staircases on Map B, which are all ascending. Because Roll20 only allows for one map to be displayed at a time, the party was almost immediately lost. This was compounded by the impulsive use of two teleport pads by Luven, whose low wisdom and charisma was played to perfection by Rob.
Map A (Level 2: All spiral staircases are descending): 1 square = 5 feet
Map B (Level 3)
Session 33
Session 33 began where Session 32 left off, with the party come into the lower left of Map A via a low narrow tunnel accessed through a hidden door in a crypt (not shown on the above maps). The party was searching for a group of gnomes reportedly being held and prepared for sacrifice by Elias the One, the evil overlord of the "breeders" (as the players call Elias' faction, due to their practice of breeding and eating humans).

The party easily defeated a large floating eye in Room 1 (Map A above). It was about 1' in diameter and floating near the ceiling, watching them as they entered the room.

The party learned that a distant chime sounded every time they opened a door on Map A (the party never located the source of the sound). The party descended the stairs in Room 2 and immediately became turned around as they ascended and descended staircases between Levels 2 and 3. They found themselves in Room 3 (Map A above), which contained a teleport pad on the floor. Luven stepped on it and the party decided they needed to follow him.

The party ended up in Room 4 (Map A above). However, the GM (me) spun the map around randomly, hid everything behind Fog of War and the party was beyond confused, they were now lost. Once they found more staircases, they guessed that they had not teleported very far. Still, they were lost.

In Room 5, they found a secret door. They continued east (at the time, they thought that they were heading west) and discovered the most bizarre area of the dungeon so far. The rooms in Area 6 (Map A above) were made of a cream-colored mysterious substance (we would recognize it as some sort of acrylic substance). It had a soft glow.
Figure 1

In this area there were six rooms with obelisks. Each obelisk had some small disks similar to the disks the party found on a mysterious pane of found by the party in Session 9. The disks were a form of written message, but so far unreadable. Using the Lens of Melnar, the party was able to determine that each obelisk was a very long distance teleport device. Each contained an immense amount of energy.

Figure 2
Room 7 contained a round raised platform in the middle of the floor with a hatch made of a strange metal. The hatch opened into a descending shaft with a ladder made of the same metal. The party could see liquid of some kind down below. The air coming up from the shaft was bitterly cold. Adzeer remembered a similar cold when he agreed to fulfill a quest for the dead dwarven goddess, Doluth (Session 22). He was to take 30 small glass vials of impossibly cold water and use them to bring back 30 dwarven warriors that she had hidden from destruction thousands of years before. Adzeer emptied the 30 vials down the shaft and into the pool. The party was soon greeted by 30 naked, soaking wet dwarven warriors. The party equipped the dwarves as best they could and the session ended.

Session 34
The party left the weird glowing area (Area 6 on Map A) and found a giant floating eye in Room 5 (just like the one in Room 1 in Session 33). They killed it. They moved on into Room 8, where they encountered a hooded guy with a flaming broadsword, accompanied by 3 armored gaunts. The flaming broad sword guy and his gaunts were overpowered fairly quickly.

Figure 3
As the battle was coming to a close, there was a disturbance in the back of the party. Herodius, Daria's second in command, attacked Daria (Daria was leading a rebellion against Elias the One). After his dagger attack failed, Herodius unleashed a fireball. He reduced himself and 5 dwarves to ashes, but Daria managed to escape with her life albeit grievously burned. The party healed her and moved on, pondering Herodius' treachery but having no answers. They did find a pair of glasses, on the burned remains of Herodius, protected in a scroll case. The glasses were the Spectacles of Zaphoz, granting the ability of the wearer to read ancient magic languages (including the "disk" language on the obelisks).

Figure 5
The party met up with more armored gaunts in Room 9 (Map B above), plus an eyeless human with his hands placed on the top of a weird blog with eye stalks. Three of the eyestalks were empty, with two of the oozing goo as if wounded. Neither the eye stalk blob nor the guy fought back. Every time the eyed blob was hit for damage, the human would bleed from his eye sockets. In the end, it wasn't much of a battle, as the small contingent of armored gaunts guarding the odd pair were easy pickings.

The party continued exploring and then decided to teleport from the pad in Room 10 (Map B above), which led them to Room 11. The party was still turned around and lost, but soon after leaving Room 11, they figured out where they were.

Session 35
After more wandering around, the party stumbled into Room 12 on Level 2 (Map A above). This room was filled with a thick, viscous fog that hampered movement and visibility (breathing was unimpaired). There were large, 9-12' long barracudas swimming in the soupy fog with weird eyes that were similar to the black blobs from another plane (encountered in Session 1 and Session 24). The bite of the barracudas caused a loss of wisdom (which would eventually lead to insanity). Luven was dangerously close to the crazy train by time the battle was over.

Session 36
The party almost gave up the search for the captive gnomes. They had rescued 30 dwarves...an unexpected bonus (although 5 had died at the hands of Herodius). However, Duncan encouraged them to press on.

In Room 13 (Map B above), the party found an ancient gnome queen whose spirit was too strong to be crushed and used by Elias. All that remained was a skeleton, but she was happy to help the party in return for them to release her to a blessed death.

She led them close to Room 15 and the party reluctantly killed her. In Room 15, the party found a novice of Elias and some armored gaunts. In a rare form of humanity, the novice begged for his life and ran away. The party did ask for directions.

In Room 16, the party found Elias the One, a small entourage, that included a cockroach demon and a live gnome strapped to a stone table, ready for sacrifice. Elias unleashed a barrage of magic missiles into Adzeer, almost killing him. Adzeer was forced to heal himself but the rest of the party took the fight to Elias and his minions.

Luven used his spider climb ring to scurry across the ceiling to drop in behind Elias for a backstab while Dante charged the cockroach demon. Luven's ploy was not a success but it did distract Elias enough to force him to waste a round. Dante took a beating but Adzeer was able to heal him and then Adzeer used his demon-slaying sword (Syvyys' Bane) to kill the cockroach demon.

In the meantime, Elias retreated down a small corridor to the north. The party was hesitant to pursue him but the naked dwarven warriors poured into the room, seeking to avenge their family members who died horribly at the hands of Elias' forerunners. Elias was having none of it and shot a fireball into the room, taking out 19 of the dwarves and also the gnome on the sacrificial table.

The party cautiously pursued Elias but did not find him. They did find 7 captive gnomes in four rooms in Area 17 (Map B above). One of the gnomes reported that Elias had come into the room and then vanished into thin air. Elias clothes and personal effects were in a pile in the corner.

Adzeer explored the sacrificial table and found a secret compartment that contained five more magic pains of acrylic material (see Figure 1 above). Adzeer put on the Spectacles of Zaphoz and began to read the disks. As he read about how to split the elements and harvest the incredible magic power stored within them, he began to hear murmuring all around him. The murmuring turned to laughter and the laughter to screams. He could see nothing, but he could see that Luven's eyes had turned completely black. Adzeer and Luven began to circle each other until Adzeer webbed Luven.

The party began to panic, fearing for Adzeer's sanity. Someone cast a phantasmal force to distract Adzeer, which could have made things much worse. However, Adzeer went to fight the illusion and this eliminated the laughter and screams.

The Dungeon So Far
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

6/4/14

Goodies in the Mail

I have been playing a lot of music lately on the weekends which, when combined with work, has cut into the blogging time. On the flip side, more musical gigs means more gig money. And this has been reinvested into some game-related items. I did get the PDF version of the AD&D 2e Dark Sun setting, but the real joy comes when hardcopy gaming stuff arrives in the mail. Here is what has arrived recently in my mailbox:

The Hollow Ground: A Novel by Natalie S. Harnett: Okay, this is not gaming stuff but it is the debut novel written by +Erik Tenkar's (Tenkar's Tavern) sister. I figure that it makes it gamer-related (maybe? sort of?). My wife, Deb (World So Sweet), just finished reading it and gave it two thumbs up. Once she started, she didn't put it down. It sounds like she will be recommending it to her book club the next time they meet. It is on my "To Read" shelf for this weekend, right behind the latest Jim Butcher Dresden novel, Skin Game.

A Magical Medley (Fudge): A collection of magical systems for Fudge-based games, although it would fairly simple to convert to GURPS or Fate. African, Celtic, Chinese and Occult magic are all included, plus Bioenergetics (which seems like a bit of an outlier here).

A Magical Society: Silk Road: A supplement with lots of info and tables for using the Silk Road as an RPG setting (or at least borrowing from it). The print version is out-of-print, but I was able to order it used from Amazon for less than $15 (including shipping). The PDF version is still available for purchase/download. I have toyed with a Silk Road based setting that could be used with GURPS, Savage Worlds, or a D20 rule set. 

Red Tide: Campaign Sourcebook and Sandbox Toolkit: I decided to get this in print and PDF. It is quite good and it has a lot things that could be lifted to incorporate into another setting.

5/29/14

Two Options for a Restarting Our In-House Gaming Group

I returned to gaming almost a decade ago at the request of my then pre-teen daughter. After a slow start with just the two of us playing D&D 3.5e and then a hiatus, I stumbled across Castles & Crusades. We recruited my wife, a friend, and his two teen sons. We played about 15 sessions over 2 years but then ran out of steam with schedules and then all three kids leaving for college.

My wife and I have been discussing restarting our group without the kids (as they are scattered across three states). There would be four of us--two couples. I am thinking that I would start out as GM. While I think that we would eventually like playing a game like Trail of Cthulhu, I am not sure that is where we would start. I am thinking of one of two options (listed below). 

Anglo-Saxon England + Swords & Wizardry Complete: I would create a setting that is based on the English kingdoms of the 8th and 9th century. I think our group would enjoy a elements of horror, mystery solving, and significant roleplaying. I would probably delete a few classes (assassin & paladin) and race options (gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, halflings). I could make elves the equivalent of the Celts, who had enclaves on the western shores of the island of Great Britain. Instead of arcane magic, they could have druidic spells. I could play upon the recent conversion of the area to Christianity and have magic-users relying on the powers of the old--now forbidden--gods, while clerics rely on the power of the "one true God."

Whimsical Horror-Tinged Fantasy + Swords & Wizardry Core:  Here I am thinking of Robert Lynn Aspirin's Myth series, Piers Anthony's Xanth books, or Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, at least in flavor, along with whimsical horror elements of Jonathan Carroll (check out his Land of Laughs, one of my favorite novels). 

Other Stuff: Work has been brutal but I do have some time off so I will be catching up on some blogging. I have two Montporte Dungeon sessions to write up plus a follow-up to +Tim Shorts' (Gothridge Manor) post about dungeon map confusion.

5/12/14

Monday Moodsetter 54

Bomarzo, Italy
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?