Sunday, April 29, 2012

Write-up: Second Flailsnails ConstantCon Zagyg Expedition. Third Game Tonight at 9 pm EST!

The search for the legendary "key" to Castle Zagyg continues!  None know the form the key takes, only that it was rumored to be somewhere in the Dark Chateau, which recently opened it doors for exploration and plundering.  Possession of the key is rumored to yank the castle from whatever space-time continuums/alternate realities is bounces around in.  Last night's group cleared out a big chunk of the chateau, and made it to the basement. There they started a fire which drove them out of the mansion, with treasures and henchman corpses in hand.  Magic, both rare and mundane, was discovered, which when sold yielded much gold. 

This game will be run regularly on Friday nights at 9pm EST, until we all pass out from sleep deprivation.  Players are welcome to join in at any time during the evening.  However, due to the celebration this opening weekend, I will continue the third chapter of the Expeditions tonight, at 9 pm, until about midnight (having to go to work tomorrow is a bitch.)

Why run an "out of the box" Flailsnails campaign, you might ask?  In the PnP game which I DM, I made up the world/setting, nations, politics, etc. and give the players situations and they run with it. I made up the political intrigue, dungeons, challenges and npc's. I did drop in Keep on the Borderlands and combined it with an old Judges Guild module that I liked, then twisted it around and changed it a bit to make it fit, and later threw the TOEE at them, but I would say that 80% of the campaign I made up.

Why do I use other stuff? Well, I don't have all the time in the world to create stuff and pre-made, if done well, gives me a base to tinker from. It works for me and the group. Also it's nostalgia. Back when I was a kid I never ran Keep on the Borderlands and wanted to try it out. TOEE was my favorite module, and I wanted to share that with my group, a few of which had never heard of it before. Its sort of like sharing a fond memory from the past with new people.

For the Flailsnails Zagyg stuff I just started doing, I am starting off using the Castle "by the book". The Castle comes with a couple levels and a tower or two all detailed. From there I will work on filling in all the rest of the levels with my own creations. Starting off with it "as published" is for three reasons--first, it gives me time to develop the other levels, and second many people wanted to play CZ, but due to a lot of bullshit it got pulled form the shelves very shortly after release, and relatively few copies made it into gamers' hands. Due to its layout it never made the torrents, as far I I can tell. This is my way of sharing with people something I own which they are interested in.

Third, there's the matter of not having much time in the day for a complete 100%  DIY world/campaign creation. I work a regular job, work on a career alternative at night, and basically want to run a game of D&D for people, with minimal preparation on my part, which they will enjoy. I want to come home on a Friday night, after working a stressful shit job all week, and just let loose with a beer and pretzels ConstantCon game and have a good time with people.  I want to forget about the shit I deal with all week at work---foreclosure, divorce, bankruptcy, terminal illness, broken homes, drugs, crime and jail time, and all the rest of the shit that life has to throw at a family.  Running a pickup Flailsnails game, with random fun creative people in an alternate world, lets me do that.

I guess the bottom line is "did people have fun?"   No matter the style or edition they play we can all have fun with it.  Hopefully you enjoy my game. I like to view DM'ing as an art, in that its something you can always get better in.  In the spirit of that, I welcome your input, good bad or in-between, on how I might be able to do things better to make for a more enjoyable experience for all.

Hope to see you tonight and on Fridays!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Zagyg Expeditions Game One Write-up. More Expeditions Tonight and Tomorrow at 9 PM EST!

I hope all had a good time last night exploring the Chateau.  Some kobolds were slain, as well as a giant weasel, and a flock/swarm/gaggle? of giant rats.  Wounds were taken, but no one died. The perimeter was searched, the Chateau broken into, and a few rooms explored before the party decided to retreat to lick their wounds and regroup for another expedition (in other words, it was bedtime).

We started out with a few players, but more joined as the game went on.  We had:

+Chris Kusel who played Flak the fighter, 1st level.
+Chris Hale, a member of my PnP group, who played Kellan, 1st level Illusionist
+John Foster, who played Chuck the Runt, a first level Half-Orc F/T who made level 2 last night.  Congrats!
+James Lohman, who played a first level thief from C&C named RJ
+Claytonian JP, who played a 2nd level fighter from 4e named cHaiduk

They each received 750 xp when all was said and done.

However, they didn't find the key which would let them into the Castle Zagyg fog bank (rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Chateau.  They also missed some stuff in the rooms they did explore!!  Shhhhh... don't tell them that though).  They did retrieve a couple of valuable paintings, a saddle which makes the rider lighter (apparently Zagyg was a fatass),  a ring of protection, as well as some assorted coinage.  Maybe some other brave/insane group is up for the challenge?

Game two begins tonight (Saturday) at 9 pm EST!  Another game will run tomorrow (Sunday) night at 9 as well, for the full Zagyg Expeditions Weekend Experience.

From a DM's perspective, I wanted to play a bit in other peoples games, before taking the plunge to DM my own via G+.  My initial concern was speed of connection.  Early games were horrible for me.  Turns out it was due to my wireless connection.  Once I hardwired into my DSL it runs like a dream.  I was able to get into a bunch of games and play.

Once I got into the game, I decided to see what we could do for a whiteboard while the new players finalized their characters.  Advice:  The G+ app Cocoa, or whatever its called, that purports to let you draw stuff for all to see, sucks big fat monkeyballs.  It froze up two computers.  Pain in the ass.  I just used MS Paint and G+'s screenshare feature and it worked fine, with the added benefit that the players don't have to sit there and stare at my mug while playing. 

Once we were all playing, I really found that DM'ing a G+ game  is not a hell of a lot different than doing it around the table.  The only thing missing is the sharing of beer, chips, and pizza. It's fun.  I'm going to keep doing it on Friday nights at 9 pm EST, for any who are interested.  I submitted it to the ConstantCon Calendar, and it should appear soon.  This allows me to play in Tenkar's ACKS game, which he is going to get up and running for Saturday night.  Those games, combined with a bi-weekly-ish Sunday afternoon PnP LOTFP game which I DM, makes for a damn good D&D weekend!

Note to all my players, past and future, please feel free to send me feedback on the game, both what you liked and more importantly what you didn't like, so I can make it a better experience every time.  No sense doing something this often if you're not going to work on getting better at it.  :)

Hope to see you!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Castle Zagyg Flailsnails Google+ Expeditions Start Tonight!

Looking for a few crazy adventurers to brave Gygax's only published version of Castle Greyhawk! Bring your first or second level flailsnails characters. We are using AD&D as the base system. Game to begin nine pm eastern USA time. Casual players welcome. NO long term commitment needed. I hope to run it weekly either Friday or Saturday nights or whenever the mood strikes me during the week. It's a living dungeon in that what one group does affects what other groups' experiences. Base setting is an island containing the city of Freeport by Green Ronin. First expedition is to the Dark Chateau to find the key to bring the castle back from whatever strange dimensions and planes it has been traveling to these past thousand years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WOTC to Reprint 3.5?!!?

Check it out.

According to the Barnes and Noble website:
BARNES & NOBLE | Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook: Core Rulebook I, V. 3.5 with Errata by Wizards RPG Team, Wizards of the Coast | Hardcover

Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook: Core Rulebook I, V. 3.5 with Errata
ISBN-13: 9780786962464
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publication date: 9/18/2012
Pages: 320
This item will be available on September 18, 2012.

BARNES & NOBLE | Dungeons & Dragons Dungeons Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II, V. 3.5 with Errata by Wizards RPG Team, Wizards of the Coast | Hardcover

Dungeons & Dragons Dungeons Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II, V. 3.5 with Errata
ISBN-13: 9780786962440
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publication date: 9/18/2012
Pages: 320
This item will be available on September 18, 2012.

(Stolen from ENWorld Post.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pathfinder v. D&D in NYC

Two days ago I went to NYC, and as part of any trip down there I made a visit to the Compleat Strategist, IMHO the world's best gaming store.  Anyhow, for those unfamiliar with it, they generally have the D&D/D20/Clone RPG stuff on two end caps between aisles, where most everything displayed just showing the spines of books..  I was shocked to see that they created a huge area apart from the end caps for Pathfinder stuff.  Not only did PF have more shelf space than all other D&D/D20/Clone stuff combined, they were arranged nicely, where it wasn't just the spines showing like in the D&D section. 

In a small store in Manhattan where every square inch of space counts, they decided to devote a massive section, relatively speaking, to PF stuff.  This may be unscientific, but I tend to think of that as a fairly good indicator of how well PF is selling compared to the rest of the D&D/D20/Clone stuff. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outcome of the Military Assault on the Temple of Elemental Evil

Our group got together yesterday to play out the military assault on the TOEE.  I had 5 players and myself.  I basically had 3 players play one side, and 2 play the other.  I like it that way when big game changing stuff is afoot.  I just sit back and make judgment calls on rules questions. 

Only myself and another guy had any experience at this sort of thing, and that experience was from 20 yrs ago.  Neither of us liked it then, and as it turns out no one really enjoyed that aspect of the game now.   We used Delta's Rules for miniature combat, which were 1000 times better than the old Battlesystem rules we used back in the 80's.  They were nice and simple, and I would highly recommend them to any who are interested. Everyone was able to grasp the rules in just a few minutes.

Of course there were kinks, mostly in keeping track of phases of combat.  We decided that if we do something like this next time, we just need to write everything down as we go.  I used army men for the troops (bought like 500 at the dollar store).  Another lesson learned---coins or colored flat glass chips work better than shitty army men from the dollar store that don't stand up well.   No big loss, as my 7 yr old nephew will do backflips when I give him all the army men.

One thing Delta's rules didn't address was the use of siege engines.  I turned to Ol' Reliable, the original DMG, and of course it came through again.  Ranges were used right from the book, as was the hardness value of walls (value = 20).  I just had to convert the dmg done by the engines themselves, which came to be 2 dmg per hit, and determined that a 6 was needed to hit the wall on a d6 based on what Gary stated about AC of walls.  A miss had a chance to hit each of the squares around the target square.  If the catapult to-hit roll on the wall was a 1 or a 2, a d8 was rolled to determine which square may have been hit around the target square, then a to-hit roll was made against the Armor value of whatever was in that square.  I figured that a 3, 4, or 5 roll on the original catapult to-hit roll hit the wall but in such a shitty way that it did no damage, perhaps to to where it hit or the hardness of the wall or faultiness of the siege engine.

All that being said, I doubt we will play again.  It was alright, but an exercise in gameplay we just didn't go for.  Everyone would rather have been delving into the dungeon.  However, all agreed that we had to try it once, just to see how it was, to get it out of our systems and decide whether we liked it or not. 

What came out of it in the aftermath discussion, was that if there was a simpler mechanic to determine the outcome without having to set up and move around the men and monsters on the board, one based on just the numerical values of the men and monsters involved, which also calculated losses on each side, that would be a great thing.  One player suggested:

"I am thinking that straight up opposed rolls - one unit against the other on d12 or d20 would work as "this side dies and this side wins on this round - period". The die rolls could be modified +/- by relative power level and (to keep initiative relevant) by the difference (perhaps double the difference on a d20) of the initiative rolls each round. Nothing too complex, but just to speed up the process."

However, if you need to have forces clash in a campaign, but don't take any enjoyment in determining the outcome with mini's, what do you do?  Basically a quick and dirty computer program  based on the forces strengths and weaknesses.  If someone could develop something like that, I bet it would sell well.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Suggestion: A Page Devoted to RPG Related Kickstarters?

They seem to be all the rage these days.  There's Kickstarter, then there is this other one Raggi is using Indiegogo, and who knows how many others.  I keep hearing about them, but usually I read the blogs at work, make a mental note to myself to check it out at home, and then promptly forget.  It would be nice to have a master list of them all in one place.  I think everyone would benefit from it, both fans and producers.

I'd volunteer but my organizational and "stay on top of it skills" are non-existent.  It would be a dismal failure.  Anyone out there want to take up the charge?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Save or DIE!!!!!!

There were some murmurlings a while ago on save or die mechanics, and whether it should be included in 5e. 

Personally, I love SoD.  A couple weeks ago in the game I DM, a Specialist (LOTFP Rules) decided he was going to open a chest.  It was trapped.  The player, who normally is very conscious of these things, forgot to say he was searching for traps first. 

BWAHAHAHA!!  says me the evil DM.

Of course, it was trapped.  I had him make a save v. poison, and told him in advance it was death if he failed.  True to LOTFP rules, there is no resurrection, short of artifact level shit.  He's been playing that character for like 20 sessions and had a lot invested in him.

The look on his face, and on the whole rest of the group's faces, was priceless. I swear he nearly shit his pants as he shook the dice for the roll.

All eyes were on the die roll.

Faces were eager with anticipation.

The die was tossed across the table.

As it came to rest the whole group, players and DM were looking at it in eager anticipation!

I won't tell you if he made it or not.  Why not?  Why do you want to know?  That "why" is the reason why we need save or die!  Because it's the thrill of not knowing if you'll live or die that makes the game worth playing! 

That's why save or die should be in the game.  No other mechanic reminds you of the sheer randomness of life and death.  No other mechanic comes closer to replicating the "shit happens" aspect of our lives.