Sunday, March 28, 2021

DM's Report: Solo Adventure - Sir William

   Most of the players in Seaward are content with the PCs they have, but Jack wants a new one. So now we're doing Discord-based solos 1-2 times a month. Last week was the first session.

The Character:

Sir William, 2nd level Paladin. LG. Mail & Plate with shield (A.C. 3); lance, long sword, crossbow.

    Henchman: Karl the Unlucky, 1st level Scoundrel. LG. Leather armor (A.C.  8); club, dagger

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Seaward, GM's Report: The Spring Tourneys

   Once again, it is Spring in Seaward! The players got out the ir PCs and prepared for the even of the year1

The Characters
Jen played Trixie Finespark, gnomish cleric/thief, 3rd/3rd
Jack played Lenard, nobleman, 4th
Alex played Gari Byuzi, mage, 4th
Sam played Ludwig, nobleman, 4th
Nick played Anarawn, bard, 4th
Henchmen were Murdain (magic-user, 2nd), Maura (religious brother, 3rd), and Emerson (man-at-arms, 3rd)

Details on tourneys are found here.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Atlantaverse: Full of Dread

   We sat down for some old-school superhero action and ran the new Discord server for it.

The Heroes:

Jack- Sirius the Winderdog. Exposed to a meteorite the faithful hound was imbued with incredible powers, keen intelligence, and a thirst for justice.

Sam- Emerald Guardian. Billionaire. Aristocrat. Inventor. Man of Action. Leader of the Emerald Guardsmen he uses his base on Emerald Island as a crime-fighting headquarters as he fights evil across the globe.

Nick- Phoenix. A powerful magician that can assume the fiery form of the phoenix he opposes all dastardly deeds.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Why I Don't Mind Aerith and Bob

 Although I have gone into details on names in my campaigns before let's talk about it again. Why? Because it is on my mind, no more than that.

 In the Blackstone campaign the highest level character and leader of leaders is Doomsman the Destroyer, from the Northern Tribelands, a barbarian who rose to be the greatest living swordsman in the world and a powerful baron. I once had someone say he thought the name Doomsman the Destroyer was ridiculous and he would NEVER let a player have such a ridiculous, unrealistic name.

  I jokingly told him I made him change the name to Ruine Zerstorer.

"Much better!" they wrote.

Yes, I did indeed laugh out loud.

In game Doomsman is from the Destroyer tribe - everyone from the tribe is called 'the Destroyer'. I could make them all be called 'der Zerstorung', I suppose, but why? I mean, exactly WHY would I use the exact same name in a non-English language to sound 'more realistic'?

  Look at my mine - taking the meaning and translating it my name means 'Powerful Ruler Shortguy'.My oldest son? 'God Has Given Shortguy'.

This leads Jack to talk about being an ancient Hebrew and calling for your kids, 
"Gooood! God has Given! Get in here and wash your hands, it is dinner time!", or,
"God Has Given, get your brother Who Is Like Unto God, and your sister Wished For Child and start cleaning your rooms! Ugh!"

I also really like my wife's maiden name translated: 'Fair Skinned Maiden with Black Hair' which is literally true.

How about some Puritan names, eh? Like the Barebones family.
Yes, these names and people are real or my name isn't Dick Stump.

There were the brothers Praise God barebones and Fear-God Barebones. Praise God became a member of Cromwell's Appointed Aseembly (whichw as nicknamed 'Barebone's Parliament'). One of Praise God's sonw was named If Christ Had Not Died For Thee Thou Hads't Been Damned Barebones, nicknamed Damned Barebones. He went on to found the first fire insurance company in London.

My own kids are a little jealous of our Hispanic friends. As Jack says,

 "If I were to name my son John of the Cross people would look at me funny. But if you meet a Juan de la Cruz no one blinks."

So let the names fly, fast and free.

DM Log: Into the Four Counties

 North of Seaward and West of Tirgalen are the Four Counties, an alliance of demi-human nations:

Riverhearth: An nation of about 20,000 Halflings (mainly Southern Halflings). Ruled by Count Perrinor and the primate is Bishop Jerriador.

Greenbough: A nation of about 15,000 Elves (mainly Forest Elves). Led by Count Finan Laclaer and with primate Bishop Erencu.

Gladdenstone: Home to about 12,000 Gnomes (legends claim some Glade Gnomes live there, but almost exclusively Dell Gnomes). Count Artenn rules with the help of his cousin, the primate Bishop Waldo.

Karag: A nation of about 11,000 Dwarves, mainly Granite Dwarves. Their ruler is Count Theorn and their primate is the legendary Archbishop Karl, called Hammer of the Orcs.

The Company of the Dark Moon sent a scouting team consisting of:

Starfalcon: (Alex) A ranger from Timberlake and one of the top fighters in the entire company. 6th level ranger.

Ursula: (Jen) A halfling thief from Riverhearth and known for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 4th level thief.

Anwyn: (Nick) A bard and known for being in the right place at the right time. 5th level bard.

Seamus: (Jack) A druid and raconteur. 5th level druid.

        Bornthein: (henchman to Seamus) a warrior from Karag. 3rd level fighter.

Godfrey: Master of Scouts for the Company. 6th level scout.

        Alfred: Religious Brother, henchman to Godfrey. 3rd level religious brother.

        Nigel: Scout and henchman to Godfrey. 3rd level scout.

The Company had learned from various sources (read: the castle of Lord Whitehill and interrogating mercenaries and bandits) that-

  A) The evil para-elemental cults had been subverted and were in service to a demon cult.

  B) The demon cult was Baron Samedhi's primary tool used to subvert nations from within.

So they sent the info team to get info.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Magic Item of the Week - back! The Headsman's Axe

   This is for AD&D 2e S&P.

  We love AD&D 2e in the house, and we LOVE the Player's Options books.
  In Combat and Tactics they introduced weapon styles and my Blackstone campaign includes several unique styles, including the beloved (by my darling wife Jennifer 'BLOOD! BLOOD AND SKULLS!' Stump) Headsman's Style which can be used with the great axe, bardiche, and greatsword.

  To use the Headman's Style you must already have two levels in the Two-Handed Weapons style and be at least specialized in great axe/bardiche/greatsword. The first level in Headsman's Style gives you an additional +1 damage and the second gives you a +3 (total) to damage

  Which leads us to the magic item the Headsman's Axe.

 This great axe is normally +2 to hit and damage. If you have both levels in the Two-Weapon Style it is +2 to hit and +3 to damage. If you have one level in Headsman's Style it is +3 to hit and +4 to damage. And if you have both levels in Headsman's Style it is +5 to hit and +7 to damage (not including style bonuses!).

  Other style-related magical weapons exist, of course

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Reflections on 43 Years in the Hobby

   In less than six months it will be the 44th anniversary of the first time I played D&D and my lifelong obsess-, uh, hobby, began. And this very recent August the 41st anniversary of me starting my own homebrew campaign came and went. We were so busy playing we missed it, which is apropos.

  But it has also been pretty tough in some ways. One of my very first players, Dave, fought really, really hard but lost to cancer. George, another early player, lost all of his early gaming stuff (from first printings of AD&D books to his first 20 characters and notes and the first player-facing map of Seaward) to storm damage. So we've lost at least 5 of the players from the first 10 years of the campaign and a tremendous amount of the original notes, maps, and such.

  Tempus Fugit.

  But looking back there are a few things I learned (or at least came to believe to be true!). I'll try to condense them here.

The Roles within the Party

My theory of The Roles - the positions filled by character classes in D&D and its clones. The roles are:

-Physical Offense: pretty obvious - killing things with weapons.
-Physical Defense: being a 'meat shield' and keeping the physical offense of foes contained.
-Magical Offense: Killing things with magic.
-Magical Defense: Stopping enemy magic from harming the party.
-Scouting and Intelligence: Using information and skills to control the location and tempo of encounters.

The AD&D 1e classes fill these roles like this:
Fighter = Physical Offense
    Ranger = Physical Offense + Scouting & Intelligence
    Paladin = Physical Offense + Magical Defense
Cleric = Physical Defense + Magical Defense
    Druid = Magical Offense + Scouting & Intelligence
Magic-user = Magical Offense
    Illusionist = Magical Offense + counter Scouting & Intelligence
Thief = Scouting & Intelligence
    Assassin = Scouting& Intelligence + Physical Offense
Monk = counter Magical Offense + counter Magical Defense + counter Scouting & Intelligence
Bard = everything

  This framework allows me to get a better estimation of what the party is capable of doing and handling and how to oppose them with clever foes.

NPCs Matter, especially Henchmen

  Time after time I have seen henchmen truly matter in the game. Perhaps most recently and dramatically in the Assault on the Fortress of Lord Whitehill. The PCs were pinned and about to be wiped out when the henchmen, following orders, arrived in the nick of time and just barely pulled victory from the jaws of death.

  If nothing else, with henchmen an NPC or three can play the class no player wants for a PC.

Jazz Band Adventuring Matters

  Something I first tried to describe here Jazz Band play just means every players has multiple PCs in the campaign and the party composition varies by mission, which players are there, what PCs are available, etc. It makes it a LOT easier if a player can't make it or you want your PC to go learn a new spell and more importantly it shifts focus from "this party" to the campaign as a whle..

It Isn't About One Thing

  RPGs are about fun, so it can't be about the GM, or a single player, or even this particular party. What seems to me in my limited experience to matter is that people are emotionally and intellectually invested in the campaign. Less pressure, more fun, at least as far as I can see.