Skull Face

[D&D] Pick Up Dungeoneering II

I'm looking to run some more pick-up D&D evenings next week (Tuesday 6th or Thursday 8th) and over the day time next weekend (Saturday 10th or Sunday 11th). As before all are welcome, with up to 6 places and everyone is still 1st level. If you're interested, let me know what dates you can do.
Skull Face

[D&D] Raw like Sushi

Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons could be compared to Sushi. One description of which is cold, uncooked fish, overcooked rice served with a salty, watery sauce and fiery green paste. With all it's different shapes, styles and unusual sea ingredients it can seem overwhelming. There used to be a perception that the cool kids / pretentious types liked to be seen liking it, at least in the UK.

And yet so many people who eventually tried it, liked it. It's a joy to eat, healthy, satisfy, varied and can be bought in attractive, perfectly prepared packages.

Just like 4e. Just don't put avocado in it either.

Is it popular? Well Players Handbook 3 is the only RPG book in the 100 best sellers for hobby & games on (71st - ) and takes 4 out of 5 spots in the top 5 best sellers for scifi & fantasy game books. Dark Heresy taking a well deserved 4th place. 
Skull Face

[D&D] Pig-Faced Orcs

I bought some pig-faced orcs from Otherworld and think they are good. Rather than being Gruumsh followers, I see these vile fellows as being demon-worshipping Demogorgon cultists, who live to kill, practice cabalism and are utterly unlovable. No moral grey areas here. Kick their doors in, kill them and take their stuff.

The figures I've got so far are a chieftain, standard-bearer, shaman, great weapon beserkers, halberders, weapon and shield warriors and crossbow man. One of the strengths of 4e for me is the ability to really highlight the difference between sub-types and so I'm going to do the stats for these on a one-a-day basis. First up are the Pig-Faced Orc Crossbow Murderers.

Skull Face

D&D 4e golden age pick-up

I ran the first session of my 4th edition conversion of the 1983 classic Basic D&D adventure "B4 : The Lost City" by Tom Moldvay this afternoon and considered it a success. There will be spoilers here for anyone who hasn't played B4, but not to my players.

We had three players turn up, who ran a Dwarf battle raging fighter, a Shadar-Kai swordmage and a Changling rogue. I was running a NPC Human devoted cleric to provide refreshments. We played for about 6 hours and got through 5 encounters, which is a higher ratio than our standard 4e games. The party managed to miss all the roleplaying spots, and the psycho swordmage made sure that anything heading that way quickly got down to initiative rolls. In a fun way.

So what's so different about golden age 4e? First off, let me just say that I don't believe that OD&D was the best version of the rules or that old school gaming is the most fun way to fantasy adventure game. I've not ever stuck at a single system as I have done with 4e D&D and believe that in terms of player experience is one of the best systems out there. I also grate heavily against internally inconsistancy, where Dragons could never escape their caves and natural enemies bunked two doors down from each other.

Fortunately The Lost City doesn't suffer too heavily from these problems. As a rule of thumb I tried to match the same creature from basic to their 4e equivalent without worrying too much about XP encounter sets. Therefor the very first combat encounter, the 3 fire beetles was run using the 4e versions straight from the monster builder. At only 300 XP, this encounter is traditional too easy for a 1st level party, but it proved fun and at that point I thought the experiment might just work. After this, rage drake stats were used for a pair of giant geckos, which is a tough encounter for basic and should have been tough for a party of 4 but they did well tactically and earned the 600 XP well. Next they came across a large batch of blue slime, which was green slime in the original. This 3rd level solo was a tough fight, with dailies used but fun again without getting too bogged in hp slogging. I didn't like much the way green slime works in 4e, so found the blue slime tucked away in the software. A downscaled sprite swarm was encounter who cursed the Changling, got bloodied and flew off. I make the players roll for wandering monsters and on a 1 the party encounter a random bunch of goblins. Where monsters are concerned the big difference between 4e and other editions is the number of sub-types of a particular beastie, so this encounter was 4 goblin cutters, 2 blackblades and 2 archers, a perfect 500xp 1st level encounter. After a short conversation about why the characters weren't wearing masks, the supposedly low powered party torn through the goblins. The final encounter was originally 7 stirges, which felt a little boring and difficult in a 20'x20' room. So I replaced it with a stirge swarm and a single parent stirge. It was the closest the party game to a character death and given the remit of having the pick games more dangerous than campaign style I wasn't worried that this might happen. Actually I think I need to make the game a little more dangerous going forward and particularly the traps need to do more damage.

So how does pick up style work? There needs to be 3+ players and as the GM I will run a NPC leader when there isn't a full party. Players turn up with whatever character they want to play, geared to the right level of the day. XP is tracked so that new characters have less and those choosing to play the same characters over have a little more. The same, roughly, applies to magic items. Anyone can come, old hats and newbies alike. B4 is set, at least on the surface, in a ruined city, hidden in the desert and the characters are part of a caravan caught and separated by a sandstorm. New characters come along as they wonder in from the desert. The caravan itself might eventually turn up, along with a trader who deals in magic items. If anyone really wants to play high level characters, they might find exploring other parts of the ruin more of a challenge than the ziggurat itself. In other words, if they come I'll build it.

I'll update my LJ when I've worked out when to run the next session. It's an open invite.
Skull Face

[D&D] 4th edition mash-up weekend 20th - 21st March

I'm hoping to run a weekend of 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons in a couple of weeks - 20 & 21st of March. I'm going to running a conversion of the 1982 Basic D&D classic B4 - The Lost City, one of the finest old school dungeons created IMHO. It's an experiment in running 4e in a basic style - e.g. deadly traps, more variable difficulty shorter encounters and random monster tables. The adventure has a surprising large possibility to for role playing, so this will only end up a dungeon bash if that's the way you push it. It’s a first level adventure and I will provide pre-generated characters unless you particularly wish to try something out, in which case you can down load the D&D character generator here (it is free for 1st – 3rd level) . Actually I’ll probably make a bunch of pre-gens to keep things moving when, I mean if, you die.

4e is easy to pick up, especially for roleplayers so having no experience in the rules in no problem and I hope it’ll be a good introduction to the game.

Freya, who turned 11 on Friday, will be playing but due to the extortionate amount of money extracted during the infamous 40K swear box incident, I’ll just ask you to mostly keep the expletives low-key.

Kick-off will be 12.30pm on Saturday – running through to early evening, 7pm at the earliest. Sunday, if we can organize it, will be a half day, say 12 til 4pm. Snacks, pizza, fruit and drinks will be proved to keep energy levels going.

So let me know if you want in, there are 4 player slots, going on a first come first served basis but with a priority to people who can play both days.
Skull Face

Ideas vs. Time vs. Place

On the walking leg of my trip to work I had what I considered to be one of my better ideas for a RPG system, based around building crunchy character stats from verbally written descriptions. Why is it that this happened on the way to work? My journey mostly involves the London tube system, which isn't geared up to letting me jotting notes down since I'm standing up with a gap of no more 2cm between myself and 10 other people. And why on the way to work? I can neither concentrate on work or the idea because the other just keeps popping up into my head.
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Skull Face

Agile for RPGs forum

I've put together a web forum for discussing how Agile techniques might help make better games.

You've got to sign-up, because it'll be spammed otherwise and I've not got the captcha stuff set up yet, so I've got to approve, but please go have a look, tell me what to improve (there is definitely lots to improve) and what you'd like to get from it.