Monthly Archives: January 2013

Starilaskur – Eberron Game session 6

When we last left our band of heroes, they had just beaten the gnolls at the fort, having lost Wycliffe and Zarna to it’s cruel claw-claw-beak-your-face-off attack.

After having narrowly defeated the owlbear and its gnoll keepers, Vistra Kodiak and Theirastra searched the fort. Cries for help came from the prisoner pits near the back of the fort. In one of the pits, was a bedraggled-looking human. They broke open the spiked cage door holding him in and helped him out of the pit. He introduced himself as Mongrel Bo, Minstrel Extraordinare.

While Mongrel Bo helped them load their dead & the recovered Conductor Stones onto the cart, they questioned him as to how he came to be captured by the gnolls. He told them he had been wandering outside Starilaskur, looking for a valley in which the folk who lived there were experiencing disturbed, dreamless, restless sleep. He hoped if he could not solve their problem, he could at least sing them a lullabye.

After hooking up the gnolls’ horses to the cart and opening the gate, the three headed back to the Lightning Rail. When they arrived several hours later, Seraphina and Mercutio introduced them to a dwarven runepriest from the Mror Holds, Rurin, who’d been on the train with them and helped them guard the train against further attack while the others tracked the gnolls and the stolen Conductor Stones.

The Lightning Rail personnel repaired the track as our heroes buried Zarna. They believed Wycliffe could be repaired once they arrived in Starilaskur. By the time the solemn ceremonies were over, the Lighting Rail was ready to depart!

The next day, they arrived in Starilaskur and set about trying to find The Broken Forge. When they found the place, they found a warforged stoking the fires. He acknowledged that he was Clockwork and accepted the strongbox they delivered. He asked the party if they knew what was contained within. When they told him they did not, he said “That daft old man will not fool me again,” and threw the strongbox into the fire.

Clockwork indicated that he could repair Wycliffe and that he had a use for our heroes after all, to follow a map he had and retrieve an item called the Everflame. When questioned about why he seemed to be antagonistic towards Master Yorel, Clockwork became agitated, denied knowing what they were talking about and dismissed them. They decided to decline Clockwork’s help with Wycliffe and took their warforged companion to a temple for a resurrection ritual, concerned about the implications that Clockwork had access to a Creation Forge.

Our intrepid band of adventurers discussed what to do as Wycliffe recovered from his ordeal. They did not notice that Mongrel Bo seemed to have wandered off on his own after arriving in the city. They decided they would seek out this Everflame but return it instead to Master Yorel and warn him of Clockwork’s hostility.

The map indicated the Everflame lay some days’ journey to the east, so they set off in that direction, following a trail through the forest. During their journey, they were waylaid by a group of orc bandits, but handily defeated them. Shortly after the battle, they came across a pond, and the corpse of another bandit who’d been bitten multiple times by a large serpent and apparently died of those wounds. They returned to the trail as it began to rain.

Thoroughly drenched, they found a small valley indicated on Clockwork’s map. At the bottom, set into the side of a small hill, they found the entrance to a crypt marked with a rune Rurin identified as “Everflame.” Night crept in as they prepared to seek shelter from the rain and explore the crypt, searching for the Everflame.

And so begins another treasure hunt. I’ve started using Obsidian Portal for campaign notes & tracking. This campaign is called Treasure Hunting for Profit and Glory. Fear not, treasured readers: I will still post the adventure logs here. I’m looking forward to the next couple of segments. I had been floundering around a bit, unsure of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take the campaign, but now, I have a clear vision and it can only mean good things.

Categories: Eberron | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tracking the Bandits – Eberron Game Session 5

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Eberron Logo

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After a anarchic jaunt into the post-apocalyptia of Alpha Complex, we return to Eberron. Leaving Serafina and Mercutio behind to guard Master Yorel’s lockbox and stay with the Lighting Rail, Wycliffe, Zarna, Vistra, and Thierastra headed off into the hills to follow the tracks left by the bandits who presumably stole the Lightning Rail’s Conductor Stones.

The trail was easy to follow, but eventually split. One branch of the trail led further into the hills; the other towards a nearby ravine. Investigating the ravine, they found a rickety rope & wood bridge. They tested the strength of the bridge and determined it was unlikely that the gnolls rode horses and took the heavy Conductor Stones across it. Following the other branch of the trail, they eventually came to a hill that looked across a valley at a fort.

When they scouted the fort, our heroes only saw one gnoll wandering around initially. After some more reconnaissance, they noticed two more working on a cooking fire. Scaling the walls, Zarna, Vistra, and Thierastra made their plans to ambush the two gnolls, while Wycliffe checked out a nearby barn. As three of them attacked the gnolls, Wycliffe discovered an owlbear in the barn. It charged him, bursting through the door, though he shut it in his bid to make a hasty retreat. As the battle joined, another gnoll, the one they saw moving from building to building, appeared out of thin air and began summoning swarms of ravens and vermin to hinder the heroes.

The battle was long and bloody. Zarna and Wycliffe fell to the owlbear before the beast was finally defeated. Vistra and Thierastra were both nearly dead by the time the rest of the gnolls fell. Vistra found the purloined Conductor Stones inside one of the building, and they stripped a magical suit of armor off the gnoll beastcaller. As they gathered their dead, they heard a cry for help from one of the caged pits nearby….

Wow. Oops. I knew owlbears tended to be nasty, but they really got a power upgrade. Of course, I expected the group to deal with the two lone gnolls before having the owlbear sprung on them. That’ll teach me to joke about TPKs prior to running adventures. Now it looks like I actually planned for them to all end up in the belly of an owlbear. The group is discussing who wants to be resurrected and who wants to roll up new characters. We’ll see what happens at the next game.

Categories: Eberron | Tags: , | 1 Comment

You’re Not Paranoid if Everyone Really Is Out to Get You

WARNING: If you’re attending Gary Con V and intend to sign up for one of my Paranoia games, STOP. READING. NOW.

Seriously, this session basically served as a playtest for the adventure I’ll be running at Gary Con V. You’ll see it in the event catalog as DGS Presents: Paranoia – Clones in SPAAAAACE! (I may have the number of As and !s wrong).

Also, if you’re are not security clearance Blue or higher, reading the previous two paragraphs, except the words “Warning”, “Stop”, “Reading,” and “Now” constitutes treason. Please report to the nearest suicide booth for summary execution.

As with many missions, this one started with an alert coming to the Troubleshooters as they went about their pointless lives. They were summoned to Mission Briefing Room 45C1ENCE. Immediately. Naturally, being loyal citizens of The Computer, the complied. Our Troubleshooters for this misadventure were Wand-R-BRA, Schwartz-R-NLD, and Docked-R-HOO. True, it was a lighter team than normal, but The Computer was confident they would be able to succeed. The Troubleshooters were surprised to find the mission briefing was being conducted by The Computer itself:

Welcome, Troubleshooters! You have been selected to volunteer [VOLUNTEERING IS MANDATORY] to establish the First Alpha Complex Lunar Annex. This exciting mission will secure your place as Heroes of Alpha Complex [use of titles not authorized]. Please report to R&D for training and mission details. Alpha Complex Scienticians will provide you with your equipment and your Mandatory Bonus Duty Assignments. Have a pleasant day!

No one died during the mission briefing, so they proceeded to R&D. The lead scientician introduced them to the most valuable piece of equipment, the heavily-modified Flybot H4L-9000. (I described it as a VW-microbus welded to a quad-arrangement of semi-truck cargo carriers). They were given experimental equipment (testing new equipment is fun and not at all dangerous, probably): Communist Detection Spray, a Clone-Portable Quantum Tunneling Device Prototype, aka Portal Gun, a Cone Pistol (one-handed cone rifle), and a Chrono Gun. In addition, the R&D Scientician informed them the cargo carriers contained everything they needed to establish a base colony on the surface of the moon, as well as additional weapons, should they encounter any natives or Commie Mutant Traitors.

Since I waited a week again, I’ve forgotten several details, so I’ll sum up: They were barely out of Earth’s atmosphere when someone was accused of treason and an explosive weapon was fire, blowing out the windows of the flybot. Naturally, at least one clone was blown out into space. The other two died shortly afterwards of asphyxiation, since a voice-operated interface cannot be operated without air to transmit the command of “re-pressurize” once the window shutters closed. Additional clones in the cargo area were activated and several more died in the week that followed as they flew to the moon. Once they landed, the Big Green Button that activated the colony was pressed and it inflated quite well. The troubleshooters even found some spacesuits to protect them from the hard vacuum of the lunar surface. They discovered another colony on the moon, however, one flying the Hammer & Sickle of the Commie flag! Preparations were made to wipe out the rival colony when Schwartz-R-NLD-2 had the brilliant idea of shooting a relatively flat surface of the moon with the Portal Gun, then shooting the top of the Commie Dome, suffocating all within (if I am not mistaken, that player had not played Portal 2). Poor Docked-R-HOO was on clone 5 by then. But they were victorious…and stuck on the moon. Perhaps next year, we will revisit the Troubleshooters at the First Alpha Complex Lunar Annex.

Ah, good old Paranoia. Always good for a few laughs when D&D just ain’t cuttin’ it or too many people fail to show up for the game. I prefer the 2nd edition of the game to any versions that came before or after. It’s a very simple d20-below-target-number resolution system and that’s just about it. That’s all it needs. Paranoia isn’t about DPS builds or skill monkeys: it’s about surviving in a world where EVERYONE is out to get you, including the GM. If the GM plays his/her cards right, he/she doesn’t even need to do anything. Just put the players in absurd situations & dangerous environments and let them kill each other with impunity. It’s quite simple, really. In all, 3 players, 6 deaths. That’s a 200% mortality rate! Actually, that’s pretty low by Paranoia standards. I’m confident when I run it at Gary Con V with a full table of 6 players, I’ll boost that number up to 350% – 400%.

Now, on to my 2013 plans. I intend to wrap up my D&D 4E Eberron game within the next 4-6 sessions (give or take, depending on how long it takes the PCs to get through the challenges before them…e.g. depending on how much gaming we actually do as opposed to sitting around the table BSing). 4E as a system never really floated my boat, and my latest attempt to run with it just isn’t doing it for me. In retrospect, I could’ve just gone with the Pathfinder Basic Set for my new player (my wife) and I think things would have progressed just as well as far as her learning the system goes. Game prep has not been terribly enjoyable, even with the tools WotC provides on their website and the type of fantasy 4E encourages just isn’t my cup of tea. That’s not a judgement on the quality of D&D 4E, it’s just a statement of preference. Also, there was a time when I greatly enjoyed game prep and could spend hours and hours perfecting encounters and writing detailed environments and that time has not returned to my life. I was single then with no other activities requesting portions of my time.

After the 4E campaign is wrapped up, I plan to  start a Pathfinder Adventure Path campaign, using the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path. I summed up this game to my players in two words: Goblin. Pirates. It was met with some enthusiasm by those who attended the Paranoia game. Those who did not are either hearing about this for the first time by reading this blog post or will hear about it at the next game, this coming Friday. I have not decided if I’m going to jump right into Pathfinder or spend a few sessions with another game as a palate cleanser, as it were. A few one-offs along with a group character generation session might do us good.

Group character generation is interesting. I know there are a lot of players who don’t like this as it involves a lot of sitting around not playing, but I think it’s very valuable. Even with e-mail, I’ve seen groups composed of Fytor the Fighter, Fietor the Fighter, Figh’tor the Fighter, and Roger the Shrubber, despite the players supposedly conferring with one another over e-mail about how to create a balanced group (the group balance thing is one reason I’m starting to like rules-light non-D&D games more than D&D). I’ve also been trying to encourage my players to think of the relationships between their characters. How does Character A know Character B? How do Characters C & D know A & B? It helps prevent groups composed of Lone Wolf Anti-Social Loners from having to adventure together when there is no logical reason for them to even have a beer together. It prevents situations like goodly knights finding themselves in the same group as a decidedly neutral worshipper of the god of murder/assassins.

The above is parody and not meant to be a transcript from an actual play session. It’s just the type of thing that I’ve heard of happening when characters are created in a vacuum and the players still want to play together despite their characters not really having any reason to hang out together, but they do so anyway because it’s people playing a game. I believe the term is “verisimilitude.” Of course, if all the PC Pirates are going to be Pathfinder Goblins, that’s a whole different brand of anarchy and mayhem. Golarian will never be the same.

Categories: Paranoia | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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