Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's My Motivation?

Something that strikes me about comments I've heard from time to time about DMs/GMs in class and level based kitching sink fantasy roleplaying games.

While nobody wants to feel like they are being railroaded into doing a specific thing, I've seen people take this to the extreme of having characters not want to take on jobs or adventures to present themselves because they don't know why their character would take that job.

Now, this makes sense in some cases.  If the job in question is some kind of heist, it may be hard to figure out why the paladin or the cleric of the god of law and order will take the job.

But when you get a treasure map to the Dungeon of Vast Mysterious Lost Things, or you have a patron that wants you to investigate a mysterious forest, and you turn down the adventure because you want to know exactly how dangerous it will be and exactly how much reward will be involved, it makes me wonder something.

In Shadowrun, the assumption is that you are playing runners, people looking to make money and take on jobs.  In Call of Cthulhu, you are playing Investigators, people that will run into weird stuff and look into it instead of ignoring it and going home and sleeping with the lights on for the rest of your life.  In Deathwatch you play Space Marines tasked with killing xenos, etc.

In D&D/Pathfinder/d20 whatever you aren't playing average everyday folk who just happen to have a level of fighter or wizard.  You are playing adventurers.  If you don't like the adventures presented to you by the GM, then tell him what kind of trouble you are getting into on your own, or what kind of job you are looking for.

If your adventurer is starting to strike you as someone that might rather settle down and retire unless their patron can assure them that they will be taking two score hirelings to burn down the tents of a goblin warband that they outnumber two to one, and then only take the job if it involves four digit figures of gold pieces . . . think about retiring that character in favor of someone more inclined to wrestle an owlbear for 10 silver pieces on a dare.

The assumption is that you want to be a hero, rich, famous, or powerful, and you are willing to risk your life to do one or more of the above.  Sure, the GM should try to tailor some of the campaign to your character, but you shouldn't make the GM jump through hoops and resort to Plan E just to get you to leave the Inn either.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Moment of Silence for Jurg Cragscale (Iron Kingdoms Recap)

Just in time for the game this Thursday, the miniature that I ordered to represent Jurg Cragscale came in.  Not only that, but one of my friends modified it a bit right off the bat so that he could be holding the sword-cannon bit that I also purchased so that Jurg would be on his way to looking the way he should.

Now, I was a bit daunted about getting him painted.  I'm not good at such things, but, hey, such things are the concern of the future.  For tonight I had a fairly accurate representation of Jurg, with the right weapon and everything, painted or not.

Exciting times!

Our group had earned the deed to an island out in the bay off the coast of Five Fingers.  We survived our clash with Khador and our employment by the Protectorate.  Now we just had to figure out how to get to our new home and clean out any potential squatters that might be out there.

Our Rhulic warcaster Couth, the badly injured Ogrun bodyguard Tokol, and our Nyss  (whose player wasn't present) stayed in camp outside of Five Fingers while the Iosan Dahlia, and the Gobber went with my dwarf to check on legal records and the history of the island, as well as to find a barge or something seaworthy to ferry our wagon and warjack out to the island.

Eventually I wanted to talked to my contacts in the Searforge Commission about trading our captured Khadoran warjack for a Rhulic model, but first, we needed to get some information and a barge.  I talked to my contacts, but only to send a payment in on the contract my old group had before they died.  Unbeknownst to me, Dahlia also contacted her "real" employers, letting them know she killed a human warcaster.  And our gobber wandered off.  He actually did some pre-negotiating before we found him, talking to a human and an Ogrun merchant about used watercraft.

This is not the Dahlia you are looking for. 

We got a new hat for the gobber in an attempt to lure him to us.  I only had to trade my hat for the impressive captain's hat that the gobber  (not our own Sir Doctor-Admiral Titimus, another gobber) was wearing, pumping up it's value by telling all of the stories associated with my time wearing said hat.

We attracted a few more gobbers than I intended with this trick, but Titimus eventually showed up, and we talked to both dealers, and cut a deal with the Ogrun for a solid hull of a riverboat that could serve as a barge.

We met up with the rest of the party, and mysteriously, by the end of the night, our gobber employees  (again, not Sir Doctor-Admiral Titimus, who is clearly a full member of the company) had brought us enough parts for our dwarven warcaster to assemble into a working engine.  They also seemed anxious to go once they brought us the parts.

My research found that there were many people that visited the island, especially adventuresome teens, and that many did not return from the island.  Watch reports indicated that they had likely been pressed into service on various ships in the area.  Still, a lot of disappearances.  The family that had owned the island were worshipers of Menoth and hand deeded the island to the faith.  60 years ago they died, and thus, the Protectorate paid us with their holdings.

The island was small, consisting of a dock and a keep that took up most of the land.  Going in, we were fairly certain something nasty had taken up residence and that the disappearances were probably not just related to press ganging.  We did a fairly careful sweep of the whole keep, before we finally found the sub-levels.

Oh, those wacky sub-levels.

Couth was in the lead, followed by our Tokol, Dahlia, me, and Titimus in the rear.  Our warcaster found the meatier undead lumbering from the crypt before us about the same time that the ghostly undead dropped in to surprise Titimus.

Thankfully, Titimus wasn't fighting the ghost all by himself for very long.  It dropped through the floor, right in front of me.

There was a great deal of ebb and flow in the fight.  It came right down to the wire.  In the end, the Tokol and my beloved Jurg were dead, our boss, Couth had lost an eye and was knocked out, but the rest of the party were victorious.

At this point Titimus reverently looted the bodies, and then proceeded to find every religious symbol anywhere in the keep and threw it in the room before they sealed up the door behind them.

The moral to the story is:  never, ever customize a miniature.  Having a miniature and a detailed backstory is just asking for character death.  Next session, we will all mourn, and then I get to roll out my next character, who may be tempting fate with a semi-detailed backstory, but will never, ever, ever have a customized miniature.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Words "Kobayashi Maru" Do Not Exist In This Universe (Force and Destiny RPG Recap)

When last we left our intrepid exiled Jedi Knights, they had witnessed their shuttle being violated by amorous Icetrompers.  Other stuff happened as well, but that was probably the most noteworthy.  Well, that, and they were traveling across Hoth on Tauntauns carrying a Jedi artifact and another box of Important Jedi Stuff that we had yet to open, because Gand mystic's meditations said the box wasn't of immediate importance to getting off the planet.

A snowspeeder was rapidly approaching us, and leaping out of the snowspeeder was a Zabrak wearing furs and a talisman with a crystal set in it.  The way he jumped out of a moving speeder made it pretty obvious that he was a Force adept of some kind.  It was made even more obvious when he punched Triseth, damaged his armor, and sent him skidding backwards.

Most of us circled around the Zabrak, and briefly discussed whether we should be careful and not use lethal force.  After all, he was a Force user, and maybe we could bring him into the fold.  While we where having that debate, our Jedi shadow Ritati crept over to the snowspeeder and identified Imperial markings on the vehicle.

The Zabrak's mind was shielded from "Schick," our Gand mystic, and his Force assisted martial arts were keeping the rest of us busy.  Bynder (our Twi'lek Jedi hunter) and Triseth managed to take the Zabrak down, but not before Bynder used his flame thrower to catch the Zabrak, Triseth, and Ilvar'sen on fire.  Thankfully Hogan  (my Ithorian healer) got to use his healing powers and feel very useful.

"Who gave out this number? I don't want to risk Squib telemarketers . . . "

Ritati had some . . . difficulty . . . slicing the com unit on the snowspeeder and accidentally opened a channel to the Emperor.   No, seriously.  Apparently our Zabrak friend was an Emperor's Hand, and Ritati had Sheev on speed dial.  He indicated that his Inquisitors already knew we existed and were looking for us, which was a bit disappointing, as galactic level news goes.

Ritati explained this to the group by saying, "my job is not to be seen, which I've obviously failed tonight."

We pressed on to the alternate landing zone for our other shuttle, near the mysterious power generator that we noticed on sensor sweeps.  Apparently that mysterious power generator was the property of a group of proto-rebels on Hoth.  They took our pilot prisoner, and wanted to know who we were.  Before we could get very far into the discussion, we found out that a task force of Star Destroyers were above the planet.

Schick's vision was clouded by the Dark Side, but I let my fear guide me to look for a way to survive, and found that we had a chance to survive if we managed to send out a decoy ship at the same time we left, splitting the Imperial response to our leaving the planet.  The proto-rebels were very upset with us, but a volunteer from their ranks joined with Bynder, who would take the meditation map that amplified Force senses, and "broadcast" his position as they left the planet.

We jumped out of the system, and made our way to Yavin 4  (a place on the star charts that indicated it might have some Force related relics).  Against all odds, Bynder and Smalls Darklighter  (our proto-rebel contact) survived, but nearly died.  Bynder got limb replacement, we filled up the Bacta tanks, and started probing Yavin 4.

We found a big dot of Dark Side power on the planet.  Schick was again clouded by the Dark Side, which wouldn't let him have any details about the Big Dark Spot that he sensed.  I made an impossible Lore check and remembered looking into old legends and myths and recalled a story that claimed (unverified, of course) that Exar Kun had died on Yavin 4 and his spirit had been imprisoned there.

We decided that if the myths were accurate, and if the Big Dark Spot was Exar Kun's spirit, we may want to wait to find any relics on Yavin 4.  Smalls Darklighter left, and we started making plans for where to go next, but not before we placed the mediation mat in the reliquary's hidden storage, and opened the other box.

The other box was filled with lightsaber crystals, which we set about distributing to the Jedi Knights on the ship.  Bynder, who had lost his lightsaber years before, began to make plans to build a new one, while Triseth began wearing the Zabrak's medallion, which gave his body properties similar to those found in Cortosis.

Despite all of this, none of us have really gotten together to talk about the fact that the Inquisitors knew we existed, found our master and killed him, and that the Emperor already had people looking for us.  Given that we have a ship full of people that may not be as dedicated to the vision of restoring the Jedi Order as we are, we might have a problem.  But none of us are really talking about it.

Showdown in Khador (Iron Kingdoms RPG Recap)

Our ill-advised by deifically suggested employment was about to come to a head as the Stonegrinder Irregulars continued their march to the edge of Protectorate held Lael, towards Riversmet.

What did our hero Jurg Cragscale learn this session?

  • Scrutators apparently don't understand the difference between theoretically explaining how bribery works to your interested party members and actually practicing briber, which Jurg would never do in a situation that would make it likely that he would get set on fire.
  • Heading into Khadoran held territory and trying to read Menoth scripture to figure out how Menite informed or Protectorate law works is unlikely to work when one does not read Khadoran.  Thankfully, our helpful Iosan second in command was willing to read me a "bed time story."
  • Gobbers use the word "admiral" very loosely.
Heading towards our ultimate goal, we had two significant exchanges with Khador's military.  The first one involved impressive numbers, but not as much firepower, and we managed to survive that one without many injuries, especially when our Gobber driven wagon was able to run over a good number of them.

The second engagement was more . . . daunting.

Jurg's dear, ever appreciated Ogren bodyguard nearly died in that fight.  There weren't quite as many Khadorans, but they brought a warcaster, a warjack, and a few Man O Wars to the engagement the second time around.

Unfortunately our fearless leader's warjack isn't quite up to a one on one fight with Khador's models.  Also, we learned it doesn't have any head butting pistons in it's neck.  Still, we managed to shell the Urcaen out of a lot of them.  Our Iosan who I have no idea is a member of the Retribution was irrationally excited to sneak in and try to kill their warcaster.

Oh, and we may have gotten backup from the Avatar.  A little.

Before the Khadoran warcaster went away, however, his warjack managed to do quite a bit of damage to our Ogren, and I didn't have a chance to call for help until I had dispatched the Man O War that had pretty good odds of killing me as well, had I not gotten a bit lucky.

In the end, the Harbinger of Menoth rewarded us with some coin and the deed to an island out in the bay off of Five Fingers. And we managed to scavenge a Khadoran warjack, which we're going to try and trade for a more useful Rhulic warjack.  Oh, and the boss managed to save our Ogren's life before he bled to death, so that was good.  Our wagon didn't fare too well though.  The "admiral" was sad.

We made it all the way back to Ord, outside of Five Fingers, waiting to get a ride into town that can carry all of our stuff to the right places as we gear up to clear whatever might be on our abandoned island off of said island.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Geek Television Roundup

I'm caught up on everything I'm watching in my geeky spheres, except for Arrow, because I missed a bunch of last season and I'm waiting to catch up on Netflix.  I have to say, I'm kind of suffering from an embarrassment of riches right now.

Star Wars Rebels

I love this show.  It's like watching someone playing a good Star Wars RPG campaign put to animation, and it feels like classic Star Wars.  Out of the four episodes I've seen, two were great, one was good, and one was okay, but was understandably whimsical.  So long as we maintain that ratio, I'm going to be happy.


Flash loves being a superhero.  Barry is an endearing nerd, instead of being a clone of Wally.  We have a "voice" in show making sure we know what the supervillains should be called, they even managed to (directly) address the problems that other TV superheroes  (and some movie ones at that) have in killing off their villains.  Really pleased with this one so far.

Flash is the kind of show that isn't afraid to actually be about a superhero, which seems to be the biggest hurdle DC has when making movies based on their own properties.  Now I'm just hoping that reference to Grodd wasn't a Easter egg they never intend to follow up on.


I'm pleasantly surprised with this one.  Yeah, its a name dropping police procedural with a side order of long term conspiracy theory looking to be solved.  It's not ground breaking, but its kind of comfortable.  Batman used to be one of my favorite characters, until overexposure and reliance upon the cash cow made me groan at the mention of him, but somehow I'm enjoying this.

That said, this one has the potential to really swing wide to the other side.  I'm not sure how much they can do with this series before they have to either keep treading the same paths or wildly diverging from the Batman mythos.  The early introduction of the precursor to the Venom drug has me a little worried, and I'd complain about the age disparity between Riddler and Batman if I didn't really like the idea of Edward Nygma as a CSI.

Agents of SHIELD

Wow is my opinion of this show different than it was when it first started.  It's almost like the series started a few months too early and had to tread water until they could really pull out all of the stops.  All of my complaints about the least interesting characters on the show have pretty much been resolved.  I even kind of like Skye now, which is like saying "I warmed up to Jar Jar."

Characters that were bland have a lot more depth, the show has a much more focused direction than it did at first, and new, interesting characters have been added, and all of it is managing to introduce Marvel characters that haven't shown up in the movies yet and plot lines that tie into what is going on in the cinematic universe.  I really hope they keep this up.


I'm kind of hoping that next year I feel the same way about Constantine that I do about Agents of SHIELD now.  I didn't hate Agents of SHIELD when it came out, but it felt bland, like it needed a little something else to really get my interest up.  Constantine feels the same way to me.  I like the way Constantine is being portrayed, but there is something missing.  Of the two episodes I've watched, neither one felt particularly compelling, like Constantine needs something to do while the showrunners build up the Coming Darkness later in the season.

I don't dislike it, I just wish I liked it more.  I wish I could put my finger on what's not working for me.