Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post 100!

Yeah, I know it is a little silly to be celebrating one hundred posts.  But hey, it is a milestone of some sort.  Won't be doing another celebration until 200,and maybe not even then.  But, one hundred is always something that is big IMHO.

So, two game session reports that I have to tell you all about.

The first was last nights foray into 4E territory.  It wasn't horrible.  It did sort of feel like I was playing a video game at times, especially with the combat.  Yet, I have been reached the point where I am over the edition wars.  I don't mind trying a 4E game and maybe doing a small campaign.  Yet, I don't know how it would last over a long campaign.  I could be wrong.  It was fun to blow off some steam and just hit things with magic missile.  (I asked to use the Errata of 4E, magic missile is much weaker, yet it always hits.)  Yes, I am playing a mage.  I will say that, unlike the old school gaming, yes mages can use their magic every round.  But, there is a part of me that thinks this detracts from the game.  Magic users of all kinds have been characters that are smart, will see how the battle is playing out and help with a spell they know, and this also goes to what they memorize beforehand, keeping in mind that they might not run into something that could be hurt with the standard magic missile spell.

Granted the DM running the game thinks mages in previous editions are weak, "Fighters can fight all day and mages blow their wad and have to sit in the back and cower."  I disagree with this and he and I won't see eye to eye on this.  That is his opinion and he is more than welcome to it.  I am not trying to say my opinion is better than his.  In 4E, he has a great way to allow wizards and fighters to be on par with each other.  In the older editions of D&D, you need to play the characters differently.  (Or not.  You could wade into combat, fight off your spells and then use your staff or dagger to great effect.)

Now, I am going off on a tangent.  Back to the 4E game.  We fought goblins, collected their ears and are starting to make a name for ourselves.  I look forward to seeing where this goes.

The other game, I just finished running.  It is my own game using the LotFP rules.  Very old school feel to it.  We don't know what happened to the fighter from the last session, so he slept throughout most of the game.  The cleric and the mage were made aware of bandits coming into the storm cellar of the Gallow's Inn.  (I put up a link, this is not what I used, but was inspired by this guys blog post of the inn.)  They blew open the doors to the room with the sarcophagus with kindling and flour.  Then, blew up the emerging thing inside said sarcophagus.  (It was an undead priest of an evil deity.)  And a note to my players, I am sure you can keep in game and out of game information separate.  They then were rewarded with coin from the offering in the sarcophagus and the two were able to con the innkeeper not only into not kicking them out, but offering them rooms.  Two of the bandits escaped with their lives, the third was  cousin to the innkeeper and was killed "by accident" by the innkeeper.  His ear was later collected for the bounty.  And, then the two PCs, along with a new NPC fighter by the name of Cooper, left for the town of Garret's Loop.  And, they wait for the next session.

Two incidents, one from each of the games, comes to mind as showing how different the two rule systems are for 4E.  (If it sounds like I am bitching about 4E, I am not.  Just this came to me and I thought I would write down these two thoughts.)

In the 4E game, while we were going through the tunnel fighting goblins, we came across a wooden platform two goblins were on.  They started to throw little fire pots at us.  I wanted to use my scorching burst on the platform.  Against a target, there is a d20 roll against the targets Reflex.  Yet, it is a wooden post.  Even with my bonuses, I didn't even hit a DC of 10.  So, the burst didn't do anything.  Ok, cool.  We did destroy the goblins anyway, but it would have been cool to set the thing on fire.

In the LotFP gam, my players wanted to set a door on fire and explode it with flour.  No rules, none to really look up.  I just used what I know about particles in the air, like aerosolized flour, when it meets fire.  It goes BOOM.  So, the door burst into toothpicks, the stone was scored and the PCs were far enough away that it didn't cause any damage.  The second time, when the PC mage tried to blo the lid off the sarcophagus and the undead thing was coming out, he panicked, threw the lantern and ran.  He was sent flying and hit the other PC and an NPC.  He took a little damage.  Everyone thought it was great!

One system, many many crunchy rules that are adhered to.  One system, fewer rules and ones that can be changed or ignored as per the DM's desire.  IMHO, I like the system with less rules more.

As for what I am working on, cause I did mention in a previous post that I would tell you about it on this one, well I guess:

This is a real Frankenstein type of game:

-Using Raggi's skill system, LotFP with some of my own ideas thrown in.
-Zak's stat, race and maybe even his class ideas.  (Still fiddling with this part.  Mostly with special abilities)
-The 1E stat caps.  Ex. being a female elf can't have higher than a 16 Str.
-2E Skills&Powers for some customization
-3E idea of skill points (you get so many a lvl, but it would be MUCH lower.)
-1E/2E secondary skill role (It would help to roll this and then figure out if the PC gets another pip in one of the skills.)
-2E weapon proficiencies
-1E spell lists, for every class.  So, there would be a seperate Illusionist class.  And, yes 1E spell casting, so priests and druids need to mem a spell.

This was just an idea I have been tinkering with.  I think I would use most of the 2E combat, though have to fiddle with that as well since there are MANY optional rules.

But, one thing I will use for this game system/game...which might or might not every come to fruition, is if a caster is knocked below zero hit points, your spells are wiped from your mind.  Combat is something that should be DEADLY, and even if you knocked unconscious, there is going to be some kind of trauma.

I will keep you all informed on if I will continue with this whole system idea.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Penultimate post to 100!

Wow, I just realized I missed the 1 year birthday of this blog.  Many things have changed, some have not:

The podcast that my friends and I do is still on hiatus.  I might try to get that back soon, so look for it in Feb.

I am STILL grinding through the module The Temple of Elemental Evil.  Though, to go into a quick game story: the former bladesinger/delusional elf (still thinking he is a dragon) went to the Silver Consortium and was able to buy a Deck of Many Things.  [Henceforth known as mistake number 3, One being, "Hey, let's eat a dragon brain." Two "Hey, let's eat the brain of a spawn between a dragon and an evil deity!" (He lost a level.)]  After some roleplaying with several NPCs, he decided to use it--wanting to pull the card with wishes.  He drew three cards.  The first one removed all of his magic items.  (Sidenote, sorry I know there are many but information needs to be had, he has spent three years--out of game--building this character up.  He had a magnificent library inside his bag of holding, as well as his spellbook and ALL his money.)  The card went back into the deck and he drew it agian, so nothing happened.  The last one gave him an answer to his next dilemma.  The player has since said that his character sheet is a blank sheet now.  He sees everything through his possessions, which is kind of dumb in my point of view.  But hey...to each his own.  The one good thing that came from his sacrifice was we now know where the end game item is and have a good chance of getting in and out without having to take down all of the Temple in one long slow grind.  One can hope...

I have started to run a game on Google Plus.  The first session went very well.  I am very hopeful for this game to continue for some time.  My players enjoyed it and I am eagerly awaiting the next session.  (More on that tomorrow.)

My 2E game ground to a halt because of inter-party strife.  I will not go into details, but I seriously doubt that the game will get off the ground again.  I might take a break from doing any kind of GMing for awhile, except for the ConstantCon game.  (If you're looking for my game, look for Sydell.  People are more than welcome to come and jump in.)

Yet, even as I say I am not going to run, I look at the world I am running using the LotFP rules and I like them, yet there is a part of me that chafes, that says that this world needs to be added to, you can expand much more of it using your ideas.  (It might be the topic of my next blog, I am not sure.  But, I have this idea brewing for a very Frankenstein-like bogged together rule set.  Stay tuned.)  One thing that has me thinking of it is two other blogs, both of them talking about the assassin, here and here.  (JB goes on for three posts about the assassin, and I just now discovered his part four was cut short because he was taken from the campaign.  Read all about it on their blogs.)  Getting back to my own feelings, especially when Alexis talks about his ideas of the assassin, it gets me to think about my own views and that sparks ideas and starts to build up scenarios in my head and I see adventure paths set out before me.  Heck, I also picked up a compilation copy of Conan:  The Frost-Giant's Daughter and it has my head spinning out ideas for barbarians and building them into the world of Sydell as well.  Even the cavalier I have in the Tempe game sometimes makes me think about different factions I can add, sending me running for my journals to jot down notes.  (NOTE to my ConstantCon Players: I am not going to add in much for your game.  A few ideas might slip in, yet I am not going to be distracted and let the game slip away from me.  At least I hope not. ;-P)

It has been an interesting year for this blog.  The fact I only have 99 posts thus far does not mean I have somehow failed in my blogging.  I hope to try and get to 200 or more before the end of the year.  It is a goal, yet if I don't make it, I don't make it.  C'est la vie.

And, my final thoughts for today concern what I will be doing tonight.  I shall be playing 4E, yes the one I have earlier gnashed my teeth about and have tried to play and couldn't get into it.  Yet, I am an edition war free blog now, so I will not call it some dreaded name.  I have some apprehension playing in this, yet it is suppose to be a short game.  I will tell you all about it.  Hopefully tomorrow.

(Do I wish to end this with some allusion to the rap song, or the meme of Skyrim going around with 99 arrows?  I think not...)

Until next time, may evil be confused on its way to your door.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Google Plus game as a Game Master...

So, I ran a game on Google Plus for the first time today.  I must say that I had a blast doing it.  I had two people start out, then a third joined us.  Luckily for the group, he was a fighter named Stragg and could handle himself.  The other two players are a cleric, Sela (sorry I don't have the full name, sorry) devoted to the goddess of light and healing and the magic-user Crowtooth.  The game is using the LotFP rules, which means things are pretty quick and simple.

This is going to be a quick thing: the three adventurers entered the town of Mytheran, trying to find a job here to gain some money.  They agree to do two things, work as guards for a small wagon full of beer and wine and to hunt down bandits.  They set off the next day, entered into a forest and were attcked by four bandits.  They made short work of three of them, leaving the last one--Bob--alive.  They did cut off his left ear--for proof--and left for the Gallow's Inn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sydell Campaign-LotFP overview

I know I threw this up on ConstantCon, but I thought I would toss it up here as well.

Hey all, I'm running a game on ConstantCon.  This is the page for the LotFP rule version.

My blog is http://rpgrantsandraves.blogspot.com/

The game is to be run at 2 p.m. PST/ 11 p.m. in France starting the 24th of Jan and every week after.
The system is LotFP (which can be found on his website here.)

Going to be using Google Plus: you can find me at dragolite 1 at gmail dot com or Googgle Plus under the name Lon Varnadore (my avatar is my girlfriend and myself with sunglasses looking into the camera.)

players: 4-6 1st lvl. characters only please.  FLAILSNAIL welcome.
This is a campaign that will be ongoing, I am looking for a group of players that will be able to get on week after week.  I do not mind changing the time to every other week if necessary.

Sydell is a place of dangers and wonders.  A land where most gods have passed on, and only a few grant power to their faithful.  Where the riches are all around, if you know where to look.  Where spell and sword might be enough to protect you.

This is a campaign that will be one of a number of plot lines.  Choose your path.  The only thing you know is that you have taken a caravan to a town called Mytheran.  Here, you can get a job working for the Church of Theran, the Church of Sylenia or find some work in the local tavern of the Broken Spoke or the Three Coins Inn.

I'm not one for rules lawyers.   THERE IS NO RAILROAD.  If your party wants to go off an do something else, don't worry there is something else to do.  But, be wary of leaving things half finished.

Quick primer-

Fifty years ago, after a monumental battle between the forces of good and evil, most of the gods stopped granting powers to their faithful.  The battleground was before a place that still exists.  It is called the Old Temple.  Strange things are still rumored to be there.  A handful of them still do, while the others were quickly forgotten.  Ancient altars to long forgotten gods still exist and, some rumors say that the gods will grant powers for a price.

Rumors also abound that the Elves had something to do with the disappearance of the gods.  There is a great schism between Man and the Elves.  Yet, the Elves are still viewed as allies by some.

The Gods that still have worshipers:

Theran-goddess of light and healing

Sylenia-goddess of the moon and music

Xellex-god of magic

There are two large cities, ones that are the center of power.  One if Vel'eth: the city on the water.  (Much like Venice.)  This city sits off the coast of the Great Sea and is a major center of trade.  The other city is a huge city called Zelfane, a place cloaked under clouds that never fully leave the city.  This is the largest city of Sydell, and it is a place of strangeness, wonder and weirdness.

Mytheran is a small town a half days travel from the city of Zelfane.  Two churches lay close to each other.  The Temple of the Singing Heart, devoted to Sylenia and the Temple of the Radiant Sun, devoted to Theran.  The two churches work closely with each other, they are sister goddesses.  Yet, there is some dissent between the two at times.

Mytheran itself is a small hub of trade, laying so close to Zelfane and the River Rel that is an artery to Vel'eth.  Your characters have come by caravan to this town to get money, find a job, something.  Because it is this, or go back home and raise turnips.  And, none of you want that.

I did say that I want new 1st lvl. characters, yet I am willing to have any FLAILSNAIL players come in and play.  If you like it, great, stay awhile.  If you don't, then no need to worry.  My goal is to get a full group of 4-6 players that stick around from week to week.  If so, amazing!  If not, I will deal with it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ConstantCon Update

Hey, the link is up for the ConstantCon game which is here.  I already have two people who want to join.  That leaves at least two more spots open.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another question about XP...

So, for all of you out there who don't know, there is something on Google Plus.  ConstantCon is a way for anyone on Google Plus to game with anyone else using the hang-out feature.  I have gone through a game and it was fun.

Now I want to run my own game on there.  Actually, I am going to try and run two games on Google Plus.  They will both be in the same world, one is going to be under the LotFP rules.  (The link goes to the main site.  On the left hand side there are rules for the game if you wish to peruse.  And, the rules are very nice and simple.)  I want to use it for two reasons.  One is that they are, as I stated, very simple and anyone can get their hands on a copy.  Two, I have been itching to try and run a campaign using these rules.  The other system I want to use is a 1E/2E hybrid I have been toying with for awhile.  There are many house rules that I will be posting on this site soon, I hope.  This is something of an issue, I'm not sure where people will be able to get the rules.

And, now after that long explanation, here is my question about xp.

Should I use it?

I hate dolling out xp.  It the one problem I have had with gaming.  My first GM never handed out xp.  We simply were told when we were leveling and went from there.  And, I think I was spoiled by that.  Giving out xp is kinda dull in my opinion and I never have the numbers written down.  It takes a long time for me to give out xp and I think that it would go faster if I stated, ok, you leveled.

Granted, I'm not going to let them level anywhere.  They need to be in a safe place and survive.  And, I might have them try and find a mentor, yet this is only something I am pondering.

If you want to, drop me a comment down below.  And, I will be posting something about my Google Plus game soon.

The Zak S. survey

Reposted from "Playing D&D with porn stars"
Repost and answer. Or, if you don't have a blog, answer in the comments. Or be a big rebel and do neither.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be? The wand of Chaotic Wonder.  It is a rod of wonder with a touch of chaos in the mix.  Basically, I use the rod of wonder chart, the wild surge table chart and the PHB spellbook to figure out the results.  Many good times were had with it.  (All 2E stuff btw.)

2. When was the last time you GMed? About two weeks ago.

3. When was the last time you played? A week ago.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.  Come and join a party of fellow adventurers as you explore the world of Middle Earth, set five years after the Battle of Five Armies in lands of Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things? Review notes, try to listen to what they are doing, figure out a few paths that they could take and try not to be surprised when they go somewhere I didn't even plan for.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play? Many things, chips, brats, 'za, burgers, every once and again some veggies.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?Yes, and I also find it mentally exhausting.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing? 
My cavalier going one-on-one with a red dragon, both of us flying.  The only reason I took it down was luck, a frost brand and a super heroism potion.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither? They are constantly making jokes about NPCs, the setting and sometimes the game itself.  It gets grating when it happens as often as it does.  I don't think it has happened the other way around.

10. What do you do with goblins? In my most recent game, they have an empire. They have honor.  They have high quality weapons.  And, in a run through of the game, almost destroyed the party several times.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)? The way some see religion, I used it in a way that those from a more rural background had a better connection to their faith than those who dwell in big cities.  (I am NOT trying to start a religious thing.  It was simply something I noticed about out culture.)

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now? When our GM was so sleep deprived, he started a description about a light over a temple one of our characters created.  Problme was he wasn't high enough to do this yet.  (We were all sleep deprived and it might be a cheat of an answer, but that is the first thing I could think of.)

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it? The One Ring.  Thinking of maybe running a game using those rules.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator? Tie between David A. Trampier, Erol Otus and David Sutherland.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? In the sense that they will never see their character get very high, then yes.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever) I ran the Sunless Citadel, I did some converting to 2E, but ran it mostly as is.  Had a good time.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in? The ideal physical set up, WOW.  Hard question.  Some comfortable chairs or couches around a table with either an inset plastic grid or maybe just a well worn battle map with bookshelves that are close at hand to pull books for rules discussions (at the right time that is) and a kitchen nearby for snacks.  And, at least a few bathrooms for the call of nature.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be? AD&D 1E and the Cortex system for the Firefly/Supernatural/etc.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be? The way culture works and religion.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table? One who can show up week after week, can get there on their own, can throw in for food/drinks if need be without needing to be paid back, non-rules lawyers and can get along with other players and blend as a party.  (Yeah, I kno wit sounds like a big gripe.  But it happens.)

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms? Can't think of one off the top of my head.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't? As far as I know, this doesn't exist: a formula or set of instructions for making something like Type IV (4E) or 3.5E work with older school game systems.  I always feel like I am hitting them with a sledgehammer trying to make the square peg fit in the round hole.  It fits, yet it takes a lot of hammering.  (Maybe one reason why I am looking forward to see what 5E is going to look like.)

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go? Yes there is.  It goes pretty well, then he steers the conversation to wanting to play.  I tell him what I am running and he realizes it isn't the one kind of game he wants and he shuts down.

Hope you all enjoyed that little delve into my thoughts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blogger issues, some food for thought and my gaming woes

First off, I STILL don't like the new Blogger look.  (No, I'm not jumping ship to wordpress.  Just annoyed with the way it is working.  Maybe it is just me.)

There is another blogger out there, known as B/X BLACKRAZOR who has an wonderful OSR blog.  I love reading it.  I recently read to articles about this hobby that he and I both enjoy running and it got me thinking.  Here and here are the two posts.

Both of them make good points.  I think the second one is something I want to deal with a little more.  Because that has always been an issue I have felt is one of the weakest points about D&D.  The fact that magic is so weak as to be more akin to technology.  (By saying these words and using these materials, along with the right hand gestures, you have a fireball.  Or by calling forth to your god/dess and clutching your holy symbol, you can heal someone or all a bless to go off.)  Everything is mechanical, there is no Gee Whiz! stuff going on in the world.  Yes, a DM can try and add to the realism, and the players could try and role play that gee whiz moment, yet it would feel fake IMO.

I have tried to do that in my most recent game, the one that is in a kind of limbo at the moment.  I did find that when I tried to bend the rules, some of my players enjoyed it, while the grognards took umbrage to me bending the rules.

There is a comment int he second rant, by a guy named George, who said it best.  These are his words:

"My new policy, which my players really enjoy, is simply: 'You will never find a magic item straight out of the DMG in my campaign. Never!'

So all my magic is either my own creation or inspired (or copied) from other sources (such as different games, bloggers, forums, etc).

I do the same thing with monsters. So I also tell my players: 'Don't bother studying the Monster Manual.'"

I think that is something I need to take more of a stand on.  It also might mean that some people do not want to play with me again.  (Just something I say off the top of my head, I could be wrong.)

This thought also leads to what I have been calling a schism of my latest game.  I don't want to get into a gaming story, but suffice to say that there were issues in the game that caused the players to break into two groups.  They fall along lines of more New School gamers and Old School gamers.  The Old School guys have effectively quit my game.  The New School group want to continue, yet the drama from both in game and out of game issues has me throwing in the towel.  I have held off on simply calling the game.  Yet, I still might simply stop it and either become a player or just not do something on Monday nights for a time and work on another campaign/or go back and try to re-work the current one and try to use it at a later date.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


There are two ways to take this, IMHO.

One is to rant about how Hasbro as already done enough to this game and they should leave the broken and dessicated corpse alone.

Two, look at it as a positive experience.  I like what Jeff said and I agree with him, yet I have signedup, hoping this might be a good thing.

Really and truly it is something that can't be judged now, we need to find out when more is available.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Hey all, I already feel like I have broken a resolution by not writing on this blog for awhile.  Yet, I have been busy with moving out of my place, so that is my excuse...weak as it may be.

On the gaming front, well, several things have happened.  My Sunday Temple game has ground to a halt.  The few players we have are missing long stretches of game time, for work or for personal reasons and I am ok with that.  Life is more important than gaming...I just want them to tell me or the DM so we could do something else or I could stay home.

On Monday, the 2E game has ground to a halt for a different reason.  I don't know if it is DM burnout, the game itself has just gone off the rails or the players are causing problems.  I think it is a combination of all three.  I am not naming names, yet for the last several sessions there has been discussions that have stopped the game.  At one point last Monday, there was a point where I thought the game should just be called off because the group had split and didn't want anything to do with each other.  Maybe a week or two of reflection will help, or just let someone else run something for awhile.

I know that next week I will be moving other stuff (It is a time for moving things around I guess.)  I will e gone for the better part of a week.  One thing that some of my friends want me to do while I am out there is run something, a little one or two shot module/adventure.  I have already got the basics, now need to get working on fleshing it out a little before I go out there.

I have also stumbled onto a game that is interesting.  It is called The One Ring.  It takes place in Middle-Earth, between the time of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  It is also a very different game, not a d20 variant at all.  It uses d6's and a d12 die.  Also, there is an almost White Wolf or 7th Sea feel to the skills, since there are ranks you fill in.  However, there is no random rolling for attributes AND no choosing of attributes.  Your main scores are based off the race that you play.  I have been looking it over and it sparked the Gamer ADD I believe.

I think I will save the talk about The One Ring for later.  Hey might actual get another post this week.  Or even later today.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Yet another post about New Years and gaming...

Hello all...I have returned to write the blog.  I have emerged from 2011 and I am glad it is over.  I hope 2012 is better.

I will not be looking backwards as many blogs do.  I will be looking forward.  (And, hopefully we will see how well I can get the list done.)

Games I want to play:
Superheroes Unlimited
D&D, Basic-3.5 and even Pathfinder
4E (Yeah, I want to give it another go.  I have most of the books, just running into the issue of who will run...)
A Whitewolf game of some kind
A sci-fi game of some kind (Maybe Star Frontiers or Rifts)

Games I plan on running:
Continuing my 2E game
A Starwars game, maybe continuing with the game as it was last year.
A superhero game
My Journey game--more on that later
Maybe even trying to run a 1E game, using Temple of Elemental Evil as a base.
And, running a game or two on Google+ with perhaps the LotFP ruleset

And, that is all I can think of right now...

And, hopefully soon we will have another podcast up soon.