What’s VFF Publishing, you ask? Why, it’s my publishing imprint! Yes, I write and publish novels. This blog is about gaming, but I see no reason not to redirect you to the Visions of Fantasy & the Future site (or Facebook, if you prefer) if you’re curious about what I write. I write fantasy and sci-fi. You can buy my novels at Amazon and other fine sellers of literature.
Final in the sense that they’re the last games I will play in my current home. When next I play, I’ll be in my new house in my new game room.
For the last three sessions I’ve been a player, rather than GM. My GeekChic table is a sad remnant of it’s former self. Disassembly proved surprisingly easy; about 10 minutes of work with a helper (technically, I was the helper while someone more proficient than I figured out which screws to remove). I’ll be able to reassemble most of it by myself, needing help only to put the top back on the table (it’s there hiding under the blanket).
So, what did we play?
We had a crew of Bravos. I played a Tycherosi hound, Uxorious Gethsemane-Prince, aka Crimson Crow. His particular vice was pleasure, so I decided not only did he frequent brothels, he was also an employee of his favored one. I don’t remember all of the rest of the crew, because my notes are packed, but we had a Whisper (I think) whose vice was being possessed by ghosts.
Basically, we planned a heist of a jewelry store, summoning a few ghosts in the processes (which I gunned down in the guise of being a Good Citizen™ while the rest of my crew escaped with the goods). It got one of my prostitute friends and myself arrested and beaten (how else are they going to get answers from a demon-looking guy, right?), but no charges were pressed and we scored some coin, increased our rep, and made a rival gang look bad. The Barbican Bastards were on their way to becoming real players.
After that, we played:
The adventure was Live Exploration Extreme!, kind of a “Naked & Afraid”-style reality show hosted by a ghoul that reminded one of our players of Xcrawl. I played an ace pilot Ysoki I named Zitch Twitchwhisker. Since it’s a published adventure, I won’t give away any plot (plus I was EXHAUSTED, so there are some elements, I realized last night when my wife was talking about it, that I don’t remember at all).
While, I have reservations about the system (low-level play is fine, but I suspect high-level play will still bog down like Pathfinder does), the adventure was a lot of fun. I resisted the urge to play an android because I know a lot of Benderisms would come out (I’ve been binging Futurama lately), and I didn’t want to disrupt the game with a hearty “Bite my shiny, metal ass!” I may have thrown in a “We’re boned!” or two, though.
Zitch was fun to play. He had ALL the skills: computers, engineering, piloting… everything I needed to be awesome. I may have been a little racist towards the ghouls, though and I definitely remember bullshitting a few of the NPCs at one point.
In summary, Blades in the Dark is awesome: would play again. Starfinder has a great setting, but I’ll be once you get into the mid-high levels, problems I had with Pathfinder will rear their heads again, though since there aren’t as many supplements (yet), I’m sure rules bloat isn’t as big of a problem. I’d play low-level Starfinder again. I’d play or run D&D 5E in Starfinder’s setting in a heartbeat, though.
Since I mentioned prepping for Gary Con X in my last blog post, I thought I should at least do my customary post-con write-up.
I didn’t go.
A water main broke under our driveway and we discovered the leak two days before we were due to depart. 3 days without water and nearly $4,000 later, it was fixed. As a result, we made the decision to cancel our trip to Gary Con. Since we’re currently building a new house, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Instead, I worked from home for three days while workers came and went. I also got a lot of packing done for our upcoming move. Significant progress has been made on that front which wouldn’t have been done until after I returned from Gary Con, so I guess that’s good.
This Friday, we’ll return to our D&D game for session 4 of Tomb of Annihilation. After session 5, I may have to take another hiatus to finish packing and actually move. If that is the case, games will resume around Memorial Day from my new home and new game room.
Baersora “Baer” Stoneforge – dwarven sorceress (Divine Soul, anthropologist)
Herrick Stoneforge – dwarven rogue (Scout, archaeologist)
Nali Fim – dwarven fighter (Battlemaster, guild artisan)
Sobek – lizardfolk ranger (Gloom Walker, outlander)
The Stoneforge siblings, along with Nali arrived in Sasserine, aka Port Nyanzaru, on the heels of an expedition led by their mentor, with whom they’d lost communication. They disembarked from their ship in the mid-morning, a few hours before their scheduled meeting with their benefactor, Syndra Silvane. It was another fine day in Sasserine, hot and humid with the ever-present chance of rain.
Time was their to kill, plus they weren’t quite sure how to find Wakanga O’tamu’s shop, where they were to meet with Syndra.
After browsing the market and investigating one of the town’s two inns, they decided to go ahead and meet with Syndra. Wakanga welcomed them in and offered them refreshments before sending them to the back room, where a masked figure sat in front of the cold hearth. A lizardfolk warrior watched from the corner.
She explained that she was once an adventurer until an untimely death put an end to that. After her resurrection, she chose to outsource, hiring Herrik & Baer’s mentor, Geoffrey Mutcalf the Elder, to investigate the various ruins hidden in the jungle. Recently, however, she, and other like her, who’d been raised from the dead, were afflicted with a curse. According to her sources, this curse, a wasting disease, was instigated by a relic known as the Soulmonger. The effect remained localized at first, but spread now and within months would encompass the entire world. She immediately changed Geoffrey’s mandate to find the relic, however a few weeks ago, he and his time disappeared and Syndra’s had no further contact with him.
Syndra offered the group compensation to search the jungle for Geoffrey and continue his task of locating the Soulmonger and ending the curse. She introduced Sobek, an outcast from one of the lizardfolk villages who could serve a guide. They agreed and set out into the market to equip themselves for the trek ahead.
While gearing up, they decided a mount would help tremendously while trekking through the jungle and a large, beaked, three-horned reptilian creature caught their eye. Pooling their money resulted in too little money, despite their haggling, so the Baer returned to Syndra and asked for an advance on their funds in order to procure supplies. She bolstered their funds to the point they were able to afford the great beast. Sobek took the lead on handling the triceratops as they made their way out of the city.
The exited Sasserine through Old City and passed by Executioner’s Run, a rectangular pit where criminals fight for their exoneration and freedom by running from savage beasts. While they watched once such “execution,” Baer noticed her coin purse lighten. A scraggly man cut her purse and ran. The dwarves gave pursuit, trailing coins from Baer’s pouch until they lost the man in the crowd. Baer mended her pouch with a spell and they left Sasserine behind.
For their initial foray into the jungle, they chose to follow the river as depicted on the map Syndra provided. Sobek already knew the location of several ruins in the jungle, but they felt following the river would mitigated their chances of getting lost. As dusk approached, while inspecting a strange idol depicting three monkeys, an allosaur charged out of the brush, intending to make them a meal. Fortunately, they prevailed and instead made a meal (several!) out of the allosaur before making camp for the night.
And so we begin Tomb of Annihilation. The adventure comes with fairly detailed rules on exploring the jungle and how to determine if the PCs are lost. I won’t need those since the gloomwalker lizardfolk ranger has sufficient abilities to ensure they NEVER become lost (it’s certainly less bookkeeping for me that way).
The monkey idol encounter was their first potential TPK; I misread some details about that particular encounter and didn’t realize exactly how much damage it could dish out just because they happened to do X Random Thing within a certain distance or Y Random Thing even closer. I totally fudged that because I absolutely despise Session 1 TPKs during games where the players have spent so much time crafting their characters (I should wait until session 2 for that, right? :p).
Despite that mis-step, it was made abundantly clear that the level of challenge in Tomb of Annihilation would be substantially greater than they regularly faced before, so I suspect they’ll be very cautious. Appropriate for a part of (mostly) dwarven jungle explorers.
I set the adventure in Greyhawk instead of Forgotten Realms for several reasons:
- I prefer Greyhawk.
- Their Hoard of the Dragon Queen characters essentially failed and dragons are rampaging across the Sword Coast.
- I think WotC should’ve been ballsy enough to explicitly set some of these adventures in other worlds (Hoard of the Dragon Queen/Rise of Tiamat in Dragonlance, Princes of the Apocalypse in Greyhawk, Out of the Abyss in Forgotten Realms, Storm King’s Thunder in Forgotten Realms, Curse of Strahd in Ravenloft (which they did, if I recall), and Tomb of Annihilation in Greyhawk).
- I prefer Greyhawk to Forgotten Realms
It’ll be interesting to see what they do with their triceratops. On paper, it’s a powerhouse of a beast, capable of stampeding over lesser threats with impunity. Of course, they’re using it as a pack animal and it’s not really trained to support them in combat. (*mischief ensues*)
Oh wait, some of my players read this. Did I say that out loud?
I don’t know if this will really be the last update this year, but since I mostly use this to log the games I run, and I’m between campaigns right now, it might be.
After the conclusion of my Wand of Orcus campaign, I’ve been taking a break from GMing to actually sit and play. The last three sessions have been Savage Worlds games. One sci-fi, one Deadlands Reloaded, and one supers game.
Due to the way holiday schedules work out, there won’t be another game until December 22, which is scheduled to be our annual Doctor Who Christmas Special game (using Cubicle 7’s excellent Adventures in Time and Space Doctor Who RPG).
On January 5th, with the holidays wrapped up, we’ll play… well, we’ll have to see. I need to play-test two games for Gary Con in March and there’s five sessions scheduled between the first of the year and Gary Con. I haven’t decided what my next long-term campaign will be. Maybe it’ll be a continuation of the Spelljammer Wand of Orcus game (i.e. high-level w/same characters, but not Spelljammer; something more grounded), maybe a new D&D campaign like Tomb of Annihilation, maybe Star Trek Adventures, maybe Star Wars. Whatever it is, it’ll be something that requires low prep for the first quarter of the year. Maybe I’ll just sit out as GM until things settle down.
Have a happy holiday season! There’s a lot of celebrating to do!