Monday, May 9, 2011

Games in Review, May 9th, 2011 (DC Adventures and Pathfinder RPG)

The first Games in Review on the new site!  It's a cause for celebration!  Or something.  Ah well, enough hype, let's get to the reviewing, shall we?

Last Tuesday was my DC Adventures/Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition game.  We lost one of our players, and I had some plans for her character as an NPC, but the night didn't unfold in such a way that I could play that particular card.

Just a side note on gaming, in general.  I know I finally moved to bringing my laptop with me when I GM, because I like my HeroLab and initiative trackers and, well, not carrying as many books.  I've noticed more and more players bringing their electronic toys to the table as well.

In my games, specifically, I've never had any problems with this.  In fact, it seems pretty darn helpful, because a lot of players that have laptops/tablets at the table, and even smart phones, also have lots of gadgets to help them look up rules and the like.  Despite this technological upgrade at the table, I haven't noticed the "feel" of the game changing too much.


As always, I like my visual aids.  Maybe it's a weakness in my descriptive ability, but I love having something to hand to my players to show them what they see.  I'm especially keen on this in the DC Adventures game, with comics being such a visual medium.  But if you've read the blog in the past, you know that, so I just put you to sleep.

Naptime over?  Good.  Here are a few of my visual aids from the session this time around:


One of the few redeeming factors of Frank Miller's All-Star Batman and Robin, other than the oft-repeated catch phrases, has to be Jim Lee's depiction of Vicki Vale . . . who just happens to have a date with Myrmidon!


And above, we have our villains for the evening.  "Fake Batman and Robin," David Cain  (already in custody at the beginning of the adventure), Hook, Brutale, Gunhawk, Black Spider, Merlyn, and the Body Doubles  (Bonny Hoffman and Carmen Leno).

One of my players made the mistake of having a shady background that his evil GM could exploit more than any of his complications, so the above villains have an unhealthy interest in him.  The group starts out separated, throws down with bunches of bad guys, and eventually the group reforms to finish the fight.

One thing I like about comic book style RPGs is that splitting the party isn't quite the death sentence that it is, say, in a dungeon-delving level-based RPG.  Necromancer can teleport, Marathon can fly (and carry people with his brain), and Beorn can run really fast as a bear.  So within a few rounds, the group is all together.

An interesting note for combat, at least for me, has to do with the use of hero points.  I've had a few sessions where the PCs just didn't use that many of them, and I was a bit bummed.  If they earn them, its nice if they get some use out of them.  I'm happy to say that not only did the group rack up a few wounds this time  (although no one went down for the count), they also blew through a lot of  hero points.

After fending off the bad guys, I had a few more cameos from the DC Universe lined up.  Sergent Harvey Bullock escorted the PCs to one James Gordon, but here is where the wheels came off, and I blame myself.  The group decided to set a trap for "Fake Batman" by turning on the Bat Signal, but instead of Batman, they got Talia al Ghul.

Myrmidon was very rigid about Talia being affiliated with the League of Assassins and with "Fake Batman," and didn't want to deal with her.  He became quite agitated, took a swing at her, and Marathon took her aside to gather some exposition based clues from her.  Unfortunately, I didn't quite gauge how the "philosophical" discussion was going, more punches were thrown, some TK suffocation was attempted, and it all ended with Myrmidon chucking that Bat Signal at Marathon for dealing with a known assassin.

So what was my mistake?  Was it the party conflict?  Was it handing out too much "friendly" information in the middle of a fight?  Not really.  Inter-party conflict isn't really all that alien to the super hero genre.  It was the fact that I half-assed how I handled everything.  I didn't go into initiative to handle an inter-party fight, let two conversations go on a lot longer than they should have with potential conflict going on, and then just kind of let the scene fall apart at the end instead of ending it on a cliff hanger or resolving the conflict.

Pacing can be tricky for a GM, especially in a super hero game, where there is certainly philosophical posturing, but it tends to follow the formula of "a statement is made, a counter-statement is made, and action resumes."  I fell more into standard fantasy RPG pacing methods, and it came up kind of flat.  Live and learn.  I think everyone still enjoyed the night, and I know how I want to proceed next session.

Next up on the gaming docket:  The Shackled City Adventure Path, converted for Pathfinder RPG  from D&D 3.5 rules.


The above picture is from DeviantArt from a poster named Ellundiel.  If you ever happen by this blog, thanks for the image.  It is really, really hard to find a good picture of a heavily armored fighter with a scythe.  It's almost like people think its an impractical weapon or something . . .

Our quest to find goblin graffiti artists led to smugglers sneaking in orc mercenaries to noble houses, and after quickly mourning our dead companion that we had known for almost two days, Vaerlin decided to give a rousing speech to move his comrades to action.  Turns out Vaerlin needs some work on his inspirational speeches, because he sounded more like a serial killer with a checklist than a world weary mercenary.

We ran into a tiefling paladin, which is only slightly less disturbing than an Wildren prositute, and I wanted to kill him because, well, I'm paranoid.  Well, I'm not, but I play one in this campaign.  Long story short, I was fine with him going into all of the rooms first.  We find some things to kill, including a vampire bugbear and a transforming undead throne.

I really had dreams of getting a x4 crit with my scythe and being able to describe my character decapitating a vampire.  Instead I got to spectacularly fail a will save against a goblin shaman, roll over, speak, stand back up, and hack a piece of undead furniture to death, while our ancient halfling cleric rode down the vampire and positive energy bursted him to death . . . or more death . . . with the help of the other party cleric and the paladin.

Did I mention we got treasure?  We got treasure.  Shackled City appears to be a bit light in the treasure, so our magnanimous GM adjusted the treasure a bit, and now I've got some shiny new pluses on my equipment.

This week is my next GM turn, running Council of Thieves for my Pathfinder RPG group.  Stay tuned!

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