Friday, 28 October 2011

Crowns, Kings and Princesses

There was no Yoon-Suin game this week, alas, due to noisms' busy schedule, but all is not lost! Tomorrow my group returns to the Carrion Crown campaign Adventure Path, picking up right after the death of one of our own. I'm not sure how I feel about this campaign Adventure Path, as it seems to have some serious flaws -- I know Paizo's adventures are praised, but they've all seemed a bit choppy to me -- but it's still early days so we'll see how it goes.

I don't know if Ben -- our GM -- is himself dissatisfied with Carrion Crown, if it's a case of gamer ADD springing up, or if it's just because the nights are drawing in and Halloween approaches, but it's been suggested that I run Call of Cthulhu once again. A couple of years ago I ran a short and unsatisfying campaign for the game, an experience that deserves a post mortem on this blog one day, but this time I'm going to try to run Tatters of the King, as it seems to be the only campaign that Stuart and Ben haven't read. It's an interesting piece, with some obvious problems that I suspect won't turn out to be problems at all in play, and a clever structure that should suit our group well. So I'm preparing to run that, although I have no idea when or if I will get the chance; it may come to nothing.

I also bought a boxed role-playing game this week. Not the Pathfinder Beginner Box -- I was tempted, but in the end I didn't see any practical point in owning it -- but instead Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing. I've had the free pdfs for a while and I like James Raggi's version of D&D best of all the retroclones -- the game features ascending armour values, a non-fussy elf class and excellent encumbrance and thief skill mechanics -- so I took advantage of the current LotFP sale and some spare PayPal cash to get the boxed set for about six quid. I suspect I will never be able to get my group to play it -- the irony is that it would suit Carrion Crown very well -- but at least I have it now. Well, I don't have it yet, but it's on its way.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Double Plus Good

My gaming group has become rather splintered and scattered on occasion as real life has intruded on all the killing-things-and-taking-their-stuff; one way we've tried to deal with this is to play over the internet using Skype. This has not gone well.

Then a very clever person came up with a very clever idea.

I've been wanting to get involved in a Google+ game for a while now, in part to play something different, but my main goal has been to test it as an alternative to Skype and maybe, just maybe, bring my own group back together. Last night I played my first ConstantCon game; the setting was noism's Yoon-Suin and the rules -- although the only dice rolled all evening were by noisms for a random encounter -- were from the good old Rules Cyclopedia. The old-school being what it is, I ended up with a fighter with a single hit point and just enough money to buy a dagger, but I decided to let the dice fall where they may and take up the challenge of getting this fellow to second level.

By chance, this fighter had the highest social rank of the group, being the son of a knight; I decided that the consumptive weakling must have been sent out into the world by a disapproving and disgusted father who not-so-secretly hoped that his son would trip on a rock and die, leaving the way open for a more suitable heir. Joining poor Kirti on his travels were Pabali, the erudite but disgusting Slug-Man wizard, the bold and brash warrior Subanara -- and his dog Rotgut -- and the magic-using-son-of-a-prostitute Matrika.

I have not played basic D&D in about fifteen years, and then only a handful of times, but it was easy to get into the right mindset and the looser play style was quite refreshing after all the number-crunching of Pathfinder. As mentioned above, we didn't get to use any of the numbers on our character sheets, but even so I was surprised at how quickly we all developed characters, whether it was Pabali's arch loquaciousness or Matrika's devotion to Yoon-Suin's class system. Perhaps most surprising was how quickly we all fell into this roleplaying, even though we were all strangers to one another; I could waffle on here about putting on an act and how a false persona might make interaction with strangers easier, but I'm nowhere near pretentious enough to try.

Our group sniffed around and from a sizeable list of potential adventures chose rumours of a terrible old eunuch roaming the local villages and frightening the peasants by spouting gibberish at them and leaping about like a grasshopper. We decided that an insane old man was at just about the right power level for a bunch of first level characters to take on -- although Subanara suspected that the old geezer had to be a dragon in disguise -- and headed out from the city. Travelling from village to village collecting information -- including the possible whereabouts of one village's secret stash of copper pieces -- we found a local wise woman who told us more about the old man, suggesting that he was both immortal and cursed, and that he tended to manifest at twilight or in the early hours of the morning. Having missed the former, we decided to camp for the night and look for the wretch in the morning; the wise woman -- who was neither as old or haggard as cliché demanded -- was reluctant to let the party rest in her tent, but Matrika convinced her to at least let his "master" Kirti rest within. While Kirti was not and had never been the magician's master he kept quiet as he suspected he might not survive a night in the open air.

The game was good fun, and I look forward to another session and perhaps even rolling some dice, although I suspect any such situation will not end well for Kirti. It also answered my questions about the use of Google+ for gaming; it seems more stable and efficient than Skype, and I've recommended that my regular group gives it a try next time one of our members is unable to attend a session in person. If Google would integrate a dice roller into the package, it would be just about perfect.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Carrion Crown: first player character death!

WOW!  At the end of tonight's session of Carrion Crown, I finally managed to kill off a pc!  It's taken me a while.... but finally..... pcs at low levels are so much more susceptible to .... death....

The intrepid heroes had been investigating the ruins of Harrowstone prison....  trying to vanquish the haunts and put an end to the lingering evil there.... They had managed to destroy one of the 5 major haunts there.... amongst other minor haunts....but, without them knowing, they had managed to disturb the spirit of Fr Charlatan who had since been following them around the prison..... and whose presence was triggered when a pc is 'downed'.... so when the party decide to take on the executioner's spirit on the prison balcony, the executioner's scythe gets lucky on a natural 20, which was confirmed, causing 8d4 damage, dropping Ric's pc, the alchemist Dr Victor Pruce....when Stuart's cleric of Iomedae channelled positive energy to heal his wounds, Fr Charlatan used his corrupting powers to change his positive energy into negative, thus killing Dr Pruce with a wave of negative energy..... we left the session on that shocker....

Dr Victor Pruce, R.I.P.
In the next session Dr Pruce's shade will rise up and join in with the Father to gang up on the pcs.......can't wait!!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Carrying On Carrion Crown

Well, last night we played our second session of the Carrion Crown campaign adventure path and things seem to be slotting into place. During our time in the village of Ravengro -- and that is the silliest name for a village I've seen in a published scenario for a long time -- we uncovered evidence that an evil force was possessing villagers and making them commit acts of petty vandalism. Realising that we couldn't simply arrest everyone in town, it was decided that we should attempt to discover the source of the eerie occurrences, and hit the books for some Call of Cthulhu style Library Use; this is not what you might call a tale of high adventure.

(That said, Stuart's cleric Veneticus got into an altercation with some village children who were singing a song the staunch moralist considered inappropriate. The little perishers took little notice of the ragged holy man's orders to stop messing about, and he skirted close to alignment change as he became frustrated and started lobbing stones at them. The rest of the party stepped in to calm him down, and all of a sudden my necromancer is no longer the most distrusted member of the party. Result!)

Later, we headed to nearby Arkham Asylum Harrowstone Prison to see if it was, as suspected, the source of all the odd goings-on. We cleared the ground floor with little resistance beyond some spiders and a couple of half-hearted ghosts -- although one spooked our paladin Sir Erudil enough to have him smash right through a heavy oak door in order to escape -- before running into the shade of the former warden's wife -- pictured -- who gave us a fetch quest; in order to defeat the ghosts of The Joker, the Riddler, et al the prison's most dangerous inmates, we would have to make use of items associated with them, items which were -- of course -- hidden throughout the ruined, haunted building.

New player Alex seems to be getting the hang of things a bit better now, but he was very quiet during the game and seems unsure of how role-playing games work; on more than one occasion he asked if it was okay to do simple things like search a room or open a door. I wonder if there's some sort of paralysis going on as Alex sees the somewhat crowded Pathfinder sheet and assumes his options are constrained by and limited to the numbers appearing there?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Rise of the Dead

Here's a new set of tokens for use in your fantasy games, and since Halloween's coming up, they're of various lesser undead. I suspect we might find use for them in our Carrion Crown game.

Lesser Undead (970kb pdf)

You can find my other tokens at this post. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Carrion (up the) Crown

Finally we have started a campaign that I have wanted to play/ run for some time.  Admittedly it is not the sandbox game we really want to play - although I intend to bring to it as much sandbox as possible.

I love my gothic horror - and with Carrion Crown, we get this in spades.

Kingmaker was great fun at lower levels - and at higher levels, the game had evolved into a different kind of game: tactical - with awesome fights - but sometimes we could play out the session with some big fights and the roleplaying had sometimes gotten pushed to the wings....

Or is this a better image of Nicodemus? ;)
Not with Carrion Crown at level 1. 

This image doesn't quite fit the scene El Kel created for us!

I have to say that El Kel's entrance as Nicodemus Eldritch, the playboy & rich Necromancer, in his big fur coat, gold chain/ medallion, and escort of 2 beautiful women, turning up like this at his mentor's (Professor Petros Lorrimor) funeral, was one of the most memorable & insane moments in my relatively long gaming experience!  Fantastic!

After the funeral, at the wake the pcs made each other's acquaintances... and they are a mixed bunch. An interesting dynamic is that between the LG Paladin of Iomedae, (the goddess of valour, justice, and honour) and the LN cleric of Abadar (god of protecting the First Vault, wherein are perfect examples of items).... at the moment they are colllaborating - with the Paladin and Cleric each having one important key, one key to the chest in which are the Prof's dangerous (and evil?) tomes, and the other key to his study and library..... much to Nicodemus' annoyance!

The adventure is following a classic Call of Cthulhu investigation/ murder mystery which of course is about to present them with some classic problems, including do they exhume the body of their dead friend to speak with his spirit?  Investigating the haunted prison on the hill over looking the village of Ravengro of course is a no-brainer.  ;)

Can't wait to the next instalment on Friday.  :)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Once More Unto the Breach

Last week's Pathfinder session was a bit of a disaster, to be honest. We were keen to finish a campaign for once, but this clashed with the arrival of a new player, one who'd had almost no experience with role-playing games; although he gave it an honest try, it was clear that the complexities of a thirteenth-level Pathfinder game were beyond him.

So we decided to pause the Kingmaker campaign, sorry "Adventure Path", and start afresh from first level; this is annoying given our tendency to abandon campaigns, sorry "Adventure Paths", but we were in danger of losing our new player by overwhelming him with a high-level game. We chose the not-at-all-like-Ravenloft-honest Carrion Crown and it seemed to go quite well. Our new player, Alex, had a much easier time playing a half-elven ranger than the halfling thief of last time, while Stuart chose a cleric with a fondness for censorship, Manoj played a paladin and I chose a necromancer with the swaggering attitude of a rock star. We were all old friends of Rudolph van Richten Professor Petros Lorrimor and were attending his funeral in Ravenloft Ustalav when mysterious events came to light; a quick reading of the Professor's will and his private journal gave us some hints as to the source of the unusual occurrences, although we only had enough time to follow up the first of many leads. Next week, we're off to the ruins of Arkham Asylum Harrowstone Prison to investigate the suspicious deaths of Batman's rogues gallery a number of notorious and colourful inmates.

I haven't played a D&D wizard since a single session of the 1983 Red Box about fifteen years ago, and I was a bit apprehensive of the class given the complexity of everything else in Pathfinder, but it seems like wizards themselves are quite simple in terms of mechanics, with most of the fiddly bits coming from the spells. I will have to be aware that he is quite fragile -- even if wizard hit dice have increased from d4 to d6 over the years -- as a couple of bites from a centipede almost ended his career at the outset, and I'll also have to think of strategies for spell selection, as I found myself prepared for undead but not for murderous arthropods. It's almost like a whole new game!