Monthly Archives: April 2013

Goblin Skulls & Shackles (Pathfinder), Session 1 – We Be Goblins

We be Licktoads! We make raid!
Put the longshanks to the blade!
Burn them up from feet to head,
Make them hurt, then make them dead!
Cut the parents into ham,
Smush the babies into jam,
All the rest in pot get stewed,
We be Licktoads – you be food!

This Pathfinder game will utilize the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, with a twist–all Goblin PCs! To get players in the mood, we started with We Be Goblins, Paizo’s 2011 Free RPG Day adventure. The PCs are:
Garagornne – Monkey Goblin Ranger
Ent Cleastwood – Goblin Gunslinger
Brodo Faggins – Goblin Rogue
Captain Spack Jarrow – Monkey Goblin Cleric of Besmara

The Licktoad tribe just finished a rousing banishment of a goblin now known only as Scribbleface. He committed the heinous crime of writing things down, so the tribe ran him off, took his stuff, and burned down his house using fireworks they found within. As they embers cooled, the PCs were called to a private audience with Chief Gutwad. The Chief spoke to the PCs directly, proving to them that they were strong and powerful goblins for withstanding the awesome power of his voice (though not as powerful as himself, of course…and maybe not as powerful his major domo, Slorb, either). Because they’re so strong and powerful, he bade them to go into the swamp following a map they found in Scribbleface’s hut. Follow the map and retrieve the rest of Scribbleface’s fireworks stash. He also told them if they found any dogs, make them dead. Any humans, make them dead! Any horses, make them dead. And if they find Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many, maybe they should run. Before they left, though, there was the feast!

The feast was held to help burn off any remaining bad luck caused by Scribbleface’s heresies. A great bonfire was built out of the remains of Scribbleface’s hut. Food, fermented cider apples, and challenging dares were the order of the evening. Members of the Licktoad tribe heckled the PCs, daring them to very acts of foolishness, and while no one was able to dance with Squealy Nord, Spack Jarrow was able to eat a whole bag of bull slugs really quick (and didn’t even get sick doing so!), Brodo survived the Rusty Earbiter without losing any bits, and Garagornne successfully Hid so she wouldn’t Get Clubbed. For these impressive feats of derring-do, Chief Gutwad granted them the use of several items from his personal stash: Gorge of Gluttons (a Dogslicer +1, Horse Bane), the Chief’s Personal Very Useful Robe That Is Useful (Robe of Useful Items w/a three-legged turtle, a ladder, & a bullhorn), and a Ring That Lets You Climb Real Good (ring of climbing). He told them they could use them, but better return them, or else!

In the morning, they headed off into Brinestump Marsh. Fortunately, they were suffering no ill effects from neither the fermented cider apples nor the bull slugs. Otherwise, they might have walked right into the Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many’s webs! They noticed the webs and managed to get the drop on the spider, despite Brodo’s feelings that they should NOT engage the spider. Fortunately, Lotslegs’s reputation was somewhat inflated and they were able to easily dispatch the nasty beast. They followed tracks back to her lair and looted goblin and human bodies within, gaining many new shiny objects, some old candy, and a few potions, as well!

They continued following the map until they found an old shipwreck surrounded by a rickety fence. According to the map (which Garagornne noted was NOT to scale; they had walked way more than the length of her first knuckle). Brodo climbed up a tree while Garagornne and Ent snuck around the fence to the far side, and Spack Jarrow climbed the fence near the tree Brodo was climbing. Garagornne and Ent found the entrance to the makeshift compound, where a nasty horse awaited them! The horse was no match for Ent’s musket and Garagornne’s bow and fell quickly. They climbed the gangplank, dislodging a wasp’s nest. Two dogs chained to a mast started barking.

The battle was joined! The dogs proved tougher than the horse and during the fight, another goblin with a giant frog animal companion and dog emerged. Spack Jarrow recognized her as the vile and wicked Vorka! She screamed obscenities at them, threatening to suck their eyes out through their noses (and other obscene things with their skulls after gouging out their eyes). She walked up the second mast and summoned a swarm of spiders to hinder Garagornne. Brodo charged across the rigging, knocking Vorka off the mast (bull rush, FTW!). The other goblins fell upon her and cut her to pieces. They killed her little (not so little, they were goblin-sized) dogs, too! The frog tried to flee, it’s master dead, but was cut down, mid hop.

Naturally, they looted the ship, found the fireworks, and set fire to the wreckage (just in case). They returned to the village, hailed as heroes! Chief Gutwad offered the hand of his daughter, fearsomely corpulent and ferociously lusty Gupy Wartbits, to Brodo Faggins, made Ent Cleastwood the Head Village Watcher, made Spack Jarrow the Overseer of Village Stabbings, and made Garagornne the Boss of Big Fire.

And there was much rejoicing.

Too much rejoicing…a booze cart ridden by a human was raided and things got fuzzy after that. The PCs have vague recollections of being caged and carted away…but to where? Why was the world rocking? And did they remember to give the chief his magical items back?

We Be Goblins turned out to be a pretty good adventure with which to kick off this campaign. It started off with some role-playing and skill checks, and moved to combats which were increasingly complex. It was also relatively short. Everyone seemed to have a good time with their goblin characters once they got into the right mindset (it always takes a while with a new character).

The next session will be a Savage Worlds one-shot, run by Brodo’s player. After that, we kick off the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path proper, with The Wormwood Mutiny!

Categories: Pathfinder | Tags: , , ,

D&D 4E Wrap-Up Thoughts


There’s been a lot written about D&D 4E and why is it superior/inferior to all other editions. I really don’t care about those arguments. This is my blog and I’m going to write MY thoughts. :p
(In other word, the following post is my OPINION and does not reflect a judgement upon anyone. If you find a game to be fun, then play what you like!)

I love playing D&D, regardless of edition. That doesn’t mean I like all editions equally. The title of this blog is How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love all D&D, and even though I tried (I think the dozen or so sessions of D&D 4E with a mix of adventures from Dungeons and adventure I wrote myself counts as having given it a fair shake), I just can’t love 4E. I’m going to stop short of saying I’ll never run/play it again, but it is not my edition of choice.


First of all, I don’t want a debate with 4E-lovers. Let’s just say it doesn’t fit my GMing style and leave it at that. The real answer is more complicated than that, but as long as you can accept that personal preferences do not have to be the same for every person who plays the game, then we’re good. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way as a GM and I just don’t enjoy running the game like I have with other editions. I think part of it is the tactical combat. The more tactical combat is in a game, the less I seem to like it. At first, when D&D 3rd edition came out, I was totally on-board, but the more I played it, and through the transition to 4E, I just found combat tedious.

4E has it good points, to be sure. The online tools work pretty well as much as I used them and certainly made my game prep easier. Far easier than it had been since 2E and the Core Rules CD-Rom. The tools made it dead easy to convert classic adventures (Basic D&D and AD&D) as long as you know how to build 4E encounters. I learned that you can’t rely on the Encounter Builder’s estimation too much, because it makes assumptions that my group didn’t always meet (it was rare for us to play with more than 4 player-characters, for one, and we did not have a perfectly balanced party of Defender-Striker-Controller-Leader all the time).

My background in D&D starts in 1982 with the Moldvay/Mentzer basic sets (my friend had one and I had the other). I moved on from there to AD&D and spent much of my gaming “life” playing AD&D 2nd edition. I played a lot of 3rd edition and really liked it, but always felt 4E moved too far away from what I was used to. To me, and I stress this is MY opinion and not meant to infer that everyone should share my opinion, it feels like Fantasy Superheroes, far more so than D&D 3.X ever did. My last session with the system really cemented that with character making vertical leaps from standing that really, probably, should’ve been physically impossible, though I will admit I didn’t stop the game to look up jumping rules, so maybe I just screwed it up.

We’re moving on (some might say backwards) to Pathfinder. Time will tell how I feel about it. I spent a lot of time running D&D 3.X, but I’ve only run one Pathfinder game. Maybe it’ll be too complicated for me (I suspect I’m going to find combat too tedious and complicated since it’s just an evolution from 3.x). I’ve said before (in this blog or elsewhere) that the older I get, the more I prefer rules-light systems and I think we can all agree that D&D 3.X, Pathfinder, and D&D 4E are anything but rules-light. I’m curious to see how much game prep is involved in running an adventure path. We’re going to start with Skull & Shackles. I’m hoping the chance to be pirates will allow my players to indulge in some of their more anarchic tendencies and by the time we’re finished with it, they’ll be ready to play the heroes they’ll need to be for adventures like Rise of the Runelords. To further add to the anarchy, the PCs will be goblins (at least until/if they die; I won’t restrict races for replacement characters).

Who knows? By the end of the year, I might swear off modern D&D/Pathfinder altogether and go back to my beloved AD&D 2nd edition and play other games like Savage Worlds and various FATE-based games. Or, I might finally grok the rules-heavy games (I haven’t felt I had a system mastery of an RPG since I left AD&D 2nd edition and the West End Games Star Wars d6 behind). Time will tell.

I asked my long-term players (of varying levels of experience) to write up some of their thoughts about D&D 4E (as I did with Basic D&D). Here is what they had to say (names have been altered to protect the innocent):

Theirastra’s Player: “[4E] is too complex and takes the fun out of the role playing aspect of the game. And in an effort to please everyone, there are zillions of races [and classes], which are not really necessary. I liked Basic better. Haven’t played enough Pathfinder to compare to it.”

Mercutio’s Player: “After running a campaign and playing in this short one, I think that 4E reads better than it plays.  In practice, while our powers all have different names, they all come off on the gameboard like pretty much the same stuff.  The numbers are a little too sterile for my taste, if that makes sense.  There’s no “swing” on rolls.  Little sense of risk/reward, in that you don’t feel in danger with all those hit points and surges and heals and stuff, and you don’t get the satisfaction of smashing your enemies into tiny bits, since most of them take 3 or 4 hits to fall down.  Even a crit isn’t terribly satisfying in this system, and that seems kind of wrong.”

I won’t go so far as to say that I think D&D 4E is a bad game. It’s OK. It does what it’s trying to do well, but it’s not what I am looking for when I play D&D. It’s not what I think the game should have evolved into. If my opinion on that offends you, then you really need to take a closer look at your life, your passions, and your priorities. To those who love 4E and think it’s the best edition yet: more power to you. I’m glad you’ve found an edition you love. It’s just not the edition I love.

Categories: Eberron, Random Thoughts | Tags: ,

Session 10 – Stopping the Clockwork

When we last left our valorous PCs, they were speeding across the sky in a House Lyrandar airship, hastening to intercept the Lighting Rail presumably carrying Clockwork and his army of mechanized men toward Sharn.

As they approached the Lightning Rail, they devised a cunning plan. The plan was to overtake the train, and use the power of the airship to lift away some of the conductor stones. The captain of the airship was amenable to the plan and put it into motion. Night fell and the train reached the gap in the conductor stones, running off the rails and crashing, sending dirt, trees, and shrubberies flying (poor Roger). While they had hoped removing the conductor stones would cause the Lightning Rail to stop, they didn’t take into account that the conductors running the train wouldn’t be able to see the gap in the night. Still, with the train stopped, they rappelled down from the airship to deal with the warforged. At this point, they didn’t actually know if there were any innocents on the train, but proceeded anyway because the needs of the many, etc. etc.

A large number of warforged were picking themselves up off the ground. There were more on top of the train, presumably guards. The lighting elemental that was bound to the train broke free and started going on a rampage. The captain of the airship dropped our heroes off while they went to deal with the elemental. With the element of surprise, the heroes took out several of the warforged as they recovered from the crash. Master Yorel rushed inside the Lightning Rail in an attempt to deal with Clockwork himself.

The battle raged on the ground around the crash Lightning Rail and on top of it. The House Lyrandar airship kept the lightning elemental occupied whilst our heroes dealt with the warforged. Occasionally, they’d hear explosions and breaking glass from inside the coaches. Wave after wave of warforged poured out, and finally Master Yorel, thrown from a window. Clockwork and his lieutenants followed on his heels. Though Master Yorel was set on fire at one point, our heroes eventually proved triumphant, defeating Clockwork and his army of mechanized men.

Master Yorel commented that while they stopped Clockwork from reaching the old Creation Forge, they used up all their hard-earned Xendrik Expedition money to do so. After some much-needed healing, rest, and relaxation, it would be back to the grindstone: chasing down rumors of lost artifacts to sell; more treasure hunting for profit and glory….

When I developed the climactic battle of the campaign, I envisioned a battle where the PCs helped maneuver an airship to intercept a Lightning Rail and leapt between the two to duel Clockwork atop a moving train. The derailment worked pretty well, too, though it wasn’t as dynamic (or, frankly, as dangerous for the PCs). One of the players commented that this battle was the most coordinated and tactically-sound the group has ever been since he started playing with us. Just as we wrapped the 4E campaign, everyone clicked.

I could’ve made the battle harder, but as it was it took the entire session and the PCs did expend almost ALL of their resources, so it appears that I also, finally created a perfectly balanced encounter. Judicious use of minions helped a lot. I’ll have more thoughts about 4E and what’s next for the group in my next blog entry.

Categories: Eberron | Tags: ,

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