Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Au struck

When building any sort of plot or mystery into a scenario there comes a point where you have to reward the players. Its all very well dragging people through the chompers but in order to keep engagement there must be a point to life. A challenge in and of itself is fair enough but its really only a value to to a Monk philosopher or perhaps a Warrior seeking to challenging himself but on a more day to day basis the rest of us have expectations and attachments to stuff we can use to buy other stuff.


This is also true of a role playing party and despite some of my monsters not quite getting the best of everyone, credit where credit is due and some of the party decisions have resulted in successful outcomes. So with regard to the D&D I did have the irony of delivering them a couple of large chests filled with gold as well as several critical  papers regarding mission intelligence. The irony of huge amounts of gold is that there is only so far you can stuff your pockets before your trousers fall down and this is particularly tru eof the Monk who seems to be only wearing a thong. Still, it wont stop them from trying.

Historically, I have tried to hand out rewards more in keeping with the characters themselves - I recall that after a particularly long and arduous adventure I rewarded a high level Paladin with the opportunity to move a mountain into the sea at the request of her God. This did not go down very well at all and whilst I can understand someone being a bit pissed off at the lack of treasure, from the characters perspective, a Paladin should really be over whelmed with joy at a the chance to server their deity directly. It was a test of faith of course and there would have been a huge reward for simply accepting the challenge but sadly the player got angry and the character turned away from their order.

So these days I err down the gift certificate route  but as always to keep things interesting, always be careful of getting what you ask for.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018


If you drop a Teifling and a Dragonborn from a tower at the same time which hits the ground first ? Clearly Galileo would have an opinion here and the irony that that he lived in the same town as Dante is not lost on me; it does seem that gravity works just as well on the plane of Hell as it does above ground. Though not the same for Pandemonium where you are pulled to any one of the nearest surfaces, the rest of the Planes do have an occasional respect for Physics. Nevertheless even with vestigial wings, both of our party members did enjoy rolling their falling damage.

A bit like a reverse mouse trap (from the board game not the hardware store), I did give the party an option of entirely circumnavigating a tower defending a bridge over the river Styx and carrying on with their RECONNAISSANCE mission, but no, off with the armour and on with the gymnastics as our intrepid 5e team directly assaulted the building Spider Man style. The problem was an overhanging parapet where dwarves were shooting back but appropriately enough the Monk, with his deft use of Chi and Matrix Arts was the only character to successfully scale the walls, though I was very pleased to shave off a few hits from the others. 

I think we are well beyond the lesson learning stage now as it wasn't long after that the Mage blew open the door with his funeral bolts and shortly afterwards helped fell a Helmed horror though narrowly missing a natural 20 of mine parried by the Dragonborn. I must look up the rules on that one actually. I am also starting to worry about the Monk somewhat as for a meditative character he is now running around covered in blood beaten out of his enemies and stuffing Dwarven Beard trophies down his thong. Long story...

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Winter Wonderland

Its a little early I know but the mince pies have been deployed for some time now in the supermarkets and subliminal shopping center music has become decidedly more suspicious. I am unsure whether RPG companies get any sort of sales runs over Xmas; as awkward as it is to put a book in a sock, I suppose there are a lot of other stocking fillers by way of dice, miniatures and spell components but there are a few frozen environments out there if you really are looking forward to a white christmas.

In the D&D vein there is a kickstarted Norse Campaign setting by way of the "Svilland Saga". Whilst its 5e inspired, rather than high fantasy, the magic belying the realm is more pagan reflecting omens, spirit magic and runes. Typical combat scenarios draw upon bloody raids and feudal politics between warring settlements in the high arctic and the Norse Gods meddle in the affairs of kings and adventurers alike. Ice giants and trolls are among other cold spirits that walk the land.

If you fancy going to an ice planet just for a short break there is always the iconic Traveller. Dating back to 1977 it's in its 2nd edition now since 2016 under the Mongoose brand and has also had several novels set in its universe. There is a planet generation system but does include a temperature setting depending on how Christmasy you want to be - you could even adjust the rotation of your world so it stays Christmas all year round.

There is also a lesser known author Michael Scott Rohan who has created an RPG off the back of his novels, the first of which is The Anvil of Ice. The Winter of the World rpg system was published by Cakebread and Walton in 2017 and does ship with optional 5e rules but the core system does contain enough to get started. Interestingly enough the system does include the subterranean world of the Duergar - which is possibly connected with the dwarves of the same name in Forgotten Realms. This also reminds me of the Dwemer and Druegar in Skyrim for which the atmospheric immersion in its biting mountainous winds is unparalleled, including the killer chickens.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018


So I have tried to introduce a new concept for the D&D party, namely "being careful". There is certainly a natural curiosity when it comes to exploration and of course there is always the draw of possible treasure around the next corner. Add to this anyone who plays any sort of adventure based video games will be well acquainted with the slightly obsessive compulsive feeling of absolutely having to clear out the last dusty corner of that dungeon. So as the Planescape party seem also to be happily dungeon hoovering I deliberately put in a higher challenge rated monster, namely in this instance, the Salamander. With an above average change of killing someone I had planned to sober up a somewhat hack and slay rhythm to the game

Did things go to plan ? Obviously not. Whilst my theory was sound I had neglected to remember that every individual enemy would also have an individual weak spot. Having lined the party up against my creature High Noon style, the first action from the Wizard was to cast grease no less. Immediately the Salamander failed its dex and took the prone condition - and given that one of its two attacks was using its body then its only remaining attack was at disadvantage. A snake's dexterity can only really come from its traction on the ground and whilst it took several rounds to kill the creature I was at least able to do some damage with its polearm and the occasional thermal blast consequence of attacking it.

Problem now is that the creature I specifically put in place in order to be avoided as part of a reconnaissance mission has now spurred the party on to tackling rest of the world. As always I shouldn't have judged and simply let the adventure lean on the characters organically. Either way, I would have had more success with a large number of angry ducks.