Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marvel Heroic, the Lost Session (Not Really), Civil War Act One Final Session (August 12th, 2013)

For those of you following along at home, yeah, I lost track of what sessions I had summarized and which ones I had not, and didn't realize I didn't post a summary of the final session of Act One of Civil War.  It was a doozy.

  • There was a rally in favor of the SHRA organized by Miriam Sharpe.  Captain America and Doctor Strange called for calm, and Speed and X-23 made most of the crowd afraid of mutants.

  • Nova came home from space in the middle of the rally and shockingly learned what had happened from the Worldmind when accessing Earth news feeds.

  • Atlantean Agent Janus had a meeting with Moon Knight, explaining that Moon Knight was descended from Atlanteans and asking him for advice on forming a revenge squad to avenge the blood of the Atlantean Royal Family at the request of Namor.
  • Maria Hill called the Avengers to the SHIELD One Hellicarrier and informed Captain America that he no longer had Champion Level Agent status, as it had been revoked by the Security Council, and thus the Avengers had no official standing.

  • Hill also showed the team video of Spider-Woman handing the Shi'ar bomb components to an unknown figure, and attempted to arrest her.
  • Most of the team tried to talk her down, but Hawkeye, who just signed up as a SHIELD agent, attempted to subdue her with lots of explosive arrows.
  • The Capekiller team that opened fire on Spider-Woman caused SHIELD One to crash into the bay, very publicly.  Captain America took offence at Hill's recklessness and unwillingness to hear Jessica out.

  • Maria Hill issued a statement declaring Spider-Woman and Captain America as fugitives since they resisted Jessica's arrest.  Both went on the run, and were blamed for the crash of the hellicarrier.
  • A  fairly stringent and restrictive SHRA was passed, leaving a lot of the definitions and enforcement to SHIELD.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

An Excerpt from the Next Blockbuster Game Related Fiction Novel: The Change Plague Reversal--Volume One; The Rulebook of Fate!

The following is an excerpt from the exciting new novel, The Rulebook of Fate.  Leading up to this scene we've found out that Bhaine, has replaced the Tablets of Fate with the Rulebook of Fate.  When the Rulebook of Fate threatens to go out of print, all of reality could fail.  So our hero, Drysst, steals a copy of the Playtest of Fate, and attempts to replace the Rulebook of Fate with the Playtest rules, in order to buy reality just a little bit more time, until the designers . . . er . . . gods can stabilize the foundations of the multiverse.

Bhaine bellowed and he fell down, defeated.  The dying god screamed in agony and snorted out one final incredulous statement.

"I'm a god!  How did you manage to kill me?"

Drysst, who was very sorry about all of the violence that he had just committed even though he was very good at it and actually got pretty excited while in the act of committing said violence, shook his head sadly, but also introspectively.

"You forgot that in the Rulebook of Fate, everything has stats, and my companions and I have maxed out our levels.  You had to be balanced as an epic level encounter, and that meant that no matter how old and powerful you might be . . . you only have so many hit points."

With that, Bhaine breathed his last.  Although before he breathed his last, he did think to himself that he died one other time messing with the underlying rules of the universe, and then got to come back in a completely unexplained manner, so maybe he'd just rest up for a few decades.  But for now he was definitely dead and gone forever.

Drysst grabbed the rapidly decaying Rulebook of Fate from the pedestal, and reality became dim.  Everything was starting to fade away.  Then he took out the printed out playtest document he had stolen from the Place Beyond.  He moved his feet to the side, and braced himself, rolled one way, then the other.  The playtest document snapped to a guard position, then swept out wide, and inscribed an arc on the way to the pedestal.

"What are you doing?  Just put it on the damn pedestal!"  Callie-Braul cried out to him.  She was extremely beautiful and yet independent and capable as she cried out.

"Sorry, usually when I do something pivotal to the story, it has to do with my swords, and I use pretty much that exact same routine every time," Drysst answered.  Then he set the playtest document down.  Reality began to brighten, slightly.  But there was a shudder that ran through the entire universe.  Like an earthquake, but all over, and also affecting the underlying rules of the universe.  That kind of earthquake.

Drysst relaxed when the quaking stopped.  Then his eyes widened.  His purple eyes. The ones that made him seem like a good guy instead of those nasty evil red eyes that the rest of the Dark Elves had.

"What's wrong?"

"Can you perform your Ricochet Arrow attack?"

"Of course not, we're not in combat."

"Here, I'll pretend to threaten you," and Drysst ran through his impressive routine of footwork and swordplay that despite being the same pattern he always used seemed to represent the greatest swordplay in the known multiverse.

Callie-Braul fired at the rock near him.  The arrow stuck.  It didn't bounce off.

"Why didn't that work?"

"Because . . . I think I just destroyed encounter powers!"


The Company of FriendFellows was nearly out of the Cave of Infinite Planar Redefinition, when they noticed the great blue dragon known as ElectroZeus, in defiance of any of the naming conventions that other dragons in other stories in this setting have ever utilized.

Callie-Braul looked at Drysst, still amazingly competent and beautiful, but also a little worried.

"Can we still take on a dragon?"

"I don't know.  If I still had my encounter powers, and maybe a daily to throw into this, we might have a chance.  But now my swords only do damage along a limited statistical range for each attack, unless I managed to crit the beast.  And who knows how that works these days?"

Callie-Braul sighed in that way that only tough but still ultimately feminine warriors could, and said, "maybe we should have read through that Playtest better before we started this adventure."

Be sure to pick up the complete series to find out if our heroes survive, and what direction their armor class moves when they get better armor!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Ghosts of Campaigns Past

I started looking back over campaigns that I have run, or attempted to run, since I got back into gaming in "recent" years.  I was interested to see how many actually ended, and how many just kind of faded away.  I really liked the advice given in Odyssey about making sure that even when you have to end a game for "real life" reasons, that you do so on an up note.  I haven't always done that, so let's look at the triumphs and despair  (hey, I'm about to run Edge of the Empire again).

I'm only going back to about 2002, because I had a bit of a gap from my early days of playing.

Star*Drive  (Alternity):  Seriously loved the system and the setting, and I really wanted to get back into roleplaying in general, and into this game specifically.  But this game never got past the character creation stage.  It was an all around fail, and not much I could have changed.  Still wish I could have gotten some play time with this system.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 Forgotten Realms Mistledale Campaign  (Transitioned to 3.5):  This one lasted years, the group grew from 3 to 7 players, went on a brief hiatus, and we all got back together for one big wrap up session that tied up most of the loose ends of the campaign, with the player characters topped out at about 13th level.  We'll call that one a win.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Forgotten Realms Thistledale Campaign :  This one didn't last as long as the first game, but we did manage to get some nice closure with the party taking on a psychotic priest of Cyric that liked to bathe in Leira's blood and fight naked.  With the 4th edition Realms looming, I didn't feel much like sticking around in the setting, but we had a nice exit.  The group ended up topping out at 7th level.  We'll call this one a win as well.

Pathfinder Beta Rules Rise of the Runelords Campaign:  We had a lot of fun with this one.  I had a bit more of a headache than I though converting it to the changing Beta rules and trying to meaningfully test the rules as well.  When the party TPK'd at 4th level in the Skinsaw Murders, due to some colossally bad player decision making, we ended the game because I was getting burned out on running and converting games.  We'll call this one a tie, since, well, a TPK is a kind of closure, I guess.

Star Wars Saga Edition Legacy Era Campaign:  I really wanted to keep the Rise of the Runelords group together, so I jumped into getting this campaign started before I was ready.  I had players that weren't that keep on d20 games, or Star Wars in general, and I didn't have a firm grasp of the game I wanted to run.  The game crashed and burned after one session, totally my fault.  This is a loss in the record books.

Pathfinder Council of Thieves Campaign:  This one was fun.  For a while.  The roleplaying was good.  There was a brief pause for a few months, but we picked back up again.  The group managed to reach 8th level, which was about the time that I realized that even mid level Pathfinder was more work than I wanted to put into the "fiddly bits" of a game these days.  The party beat the boss at the end of the Infernal Syndrome, and we called it.  Not the most satisfying ending, because we all knew there were more conspiracies and the like going down.  I'll call this one a loss.  It just felt like there was too much that either needed to be modified or was intentionally "do it yourself," but that's on me.

Star Wars Saga Old Republic Era Campaign:  Lots of fun in this campaign.  Lots of great characters.  It went on for a while, the characters got up to 10th level, but a lot of personal issues started getting in the way of doing prep work on the game.  Also, 10th level got to be some work for Saga when it comes to making brand new NPCs, and using existing NPCs from the book, you could never keep up with the options from the new splatbooks.  At least WOTC is consistent.  I'll call this one a loss on my part, because I should have found a way to make it work or create some closure.  The game was too good not to wrap up better than I did.

Hellfrost Savage Worlds Campaign:  This fell apart quick.  I didn't have a great grasp on what I wanted to do, the players weren't sure what we were doing other than "fantasy," and we had at least one player that didn't mesh well with my GM style.  Things fell apart after three session, and I floundered trying to figure out another Savage Worlds game, and that never materialized.  Weird circumstances, but mainly a fail on my part.

DC Adventures Campaign:  This was a blast, ran for over a year, and the story arc more or less ran the whole gamut of what I wanted to do along with a few side trips based on tangents that the players created with their actions.  I did mess up the ending a bit, in part because I had a hard time making one big bad villain by themselves big and bad, but that's more a matter of system proficiency than a lack of closure.  This one was a big win in my book.

Rogue Trader Campaign:  This one ran about five or six sessions.  Almost everything in the campaign was working really well.  The main problem had to do with real life issues.  I wish it had been otherwise.  I'll call it a loss.

Marvel Heroic Breakout Event:  I ran this online, and expanded it from two acts to three, and it went great.  You can still find it on YouTube, and we brought it to nice conclusion in seven sessions.  Very pleased with how this worked out.  Definitely a win.

Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beta Campaign:  I took this one over from another GM, and tried to fit a few custom made fan items  (species, ships) into the game.  I wanted to make it higher powered to test the system out a bit, but I misjudged what "higher powered" meant in the system.  As I understand it now, I probably wanted the PCs to get about 250 to 300 XP to advance their characters.  I gave them over 1000.  Still, it was a lot of fun, but it did start to feel like a Beta test game instead of a campaign, as I was constantly thinking about theoreticals and how to put game mechanics through their paces.  We ended the game until the full rules came out.  It's a loss for me.  Should have come up with at least a better ending for the players, who were a lot of fun.

Dungeon Crawl Classics "Modules" Campaign:  The first DCC game I ran was a series of published adventures strung together to form a campaign.  The party actually had quite a few sessions under their belts, but due to a lot of death, the campaign ended at 3rd level with a TPK in the Doom of Savage Kings, with one of the PCs becoming the new Hound of Hirot.  It's DCC, so a TPK ending is pretty much par for the course.  We'll call it a draw.

Dungeon Crawl Classics "Original" Campaign:  Written 100% by me and tailored to feel a little more "Conan" or "Fafhrd and Mouser" than free for all fantasy, the game wrapped up with the party defeating the elves  (think Elric) with a horde of orcs, and bringing down civilization, at around 4th level.  We'll call this one a win.

Marvel Heroic Civil War Event:  Currently ongoing, online game  (again, on YouTube), we've gotten through Act One of three, and as far as I know, going strong.  Really enjoying it.  Can't call it one way or the other at the moment.

Star Wars Edge of the Empire Interconnected Campaign:  This one hasn't started yet.  It's ambitious.  I hope I pull it off well.  The game is running every Thursday, with two separate groups working for the same character in the same setting.  It's set up to be a "season" of around 12 sessions.

So, I've got something like five fails, a couple of draws, and five wins under my belt for my "recent" adventures in GMing.  I'm hoping to get a better record.  Here's what looking over this list as taught me:

  • Have a good idea of what the game is about and what I want to do with it before I start running the campaign.  
  • Try to avoid games that get too fiddly, because I get burned out on the fiddle.
  • Don't force a game if I'm not ready to run it, either because of rules or concept.  Keeping the group together is great, but sometimes you can't keep it together from the same seat.  Look for someone to hand off to and wait until everything lines up properly again.
  • Whenever a game has been going well, try to come up with some way to make that last game session feel like it has some closure, even if you can't avoid ending the campaign.  The players deserve to know how their heroes end up, and what they have been working towards.
  • If at all possible, if you have an idea of where you want the campaign to end, or where it could end, let the players know.  Even if you provide closure, if you never warn the players that there may be an end, they may not expect it, even after the BBEG has been put down.
Hopefully the Force will be with me in this new Edge of the Empire game.  And hopefully I keep learning from my mistakes, and run better games afterwards.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weird, Off the Cuff Tangent on Why I Never Liked Marvel Zombies

In general, I enjoy a good zombie story.

I love superheroes.

I could never really bring myself to enjoy Marvel Zombies.

Sometimes you just know something before you can explain it, but I think I finally latched on to why I never could just lighten up and enjoy the stories.

In a What If?/Elseworlds type of story, you might see a hero that you love acting in a manner that goes against what you know about them.  However, in those stories, you generally have a point where something crucial changed for them.  You have a point that defined them, and it didn't go that way in the story you are reading.

A lot of What If?/Elseworlds type of stories aren't nearly as interesting if you don't have a handle on the "baseline" character.  If you don't know what Superman is like, you don't know what Red Son is saying about who Superman is, and what it would take to change him.  Those stories, even if they end badly, even if they end with the hero doing horrible things they would never do in their mainstream incarnations, explore who that hero is by contrasting what they are with what they could be, and zeroing in on crucial moments in their development.

Marvel Zombies didn't do that.  You didn't have heroes turning to villains because a friend or loved one died.  You didn't have heroes giving up on their careers because they failed to defeat that one foe they were always meant to defeat.

What happened in Marvel Zombies is that heroes, through not particular fault of their own, were infested with a virus that made them do horrible things.  Often times, they knew what they were doing, and knew it was antithetical to everything they had ever wanted to be, and they couldn't stop themselves.

Marvel Zombies made heroes as impotent as unable to stop great evils as many of us feel on a day to day basis.  That's why I couldn't enjoy the concept.

There was no defining choice that went one way or another.  There were circumstances out of their control that took over and made things horrible, and they just had to watch as the world went to Hell.

I read superhero comics because I want to see someone make a difference.  No matter how small and insignificant I may feel, no matter how convoluted and complex the evils of the world may feel, the heroes I read about are not insignificant, and they can figure out what the evil is in their world, and stop it.  There is nothing so opposed to the concept of a superhero as watching as evil overruns the world, being unable to stop it, and eventually being unable to be a party to that evil.

By no means am I saying that the books are bad, or that they never should have been written.  I'm not saying that anyone that read those stories and enjoyed them was wrong for doing so.  But too many times in my life when I have felt down, and beaten, and out, reading about someone that pushes on through the adversities and chaos around them to the other side, and wins, and accomplishes the greater good, it is the very thing I need to keep my sanity intact, and to push on to gain whatever minor victory I can achieve in my own life.

This isn't a review or a critique.  Its just been something I've known for a while, but haven't really been able to put into words until this evening.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dungeon Crawl Classics . . . the End (But Not That Way, Surprisingly)(August 8th 2013)

The Dungeon Crawl Classics game wound down to a close during this week's session.  I really do enjoy running the game, and its a lot of fun, but I had previously promised to run a Star Wars Edge of the Empire game around this time, and, well, long story short, something had to give or change form.

Our adventurers had just survived the exploration of an elven outpost from the previous age of the world, when elves had taken over from the dragons, and before humankind was particularly important.  Chad, paladin of Gozer, had pretty much converted the entire party to Gozer worship, and a minion of Gozer arrived to warn the party that their talents of wanton killing and destruction were needed . . . the elves had decided to rally their mercenaries and slave armies to attack Calas Port, greatest of the human free cities.

Gozer wanted the PCs to rally the orcs in the Northeast to take out the elven army before it arrived in Calas Port, not because Gozer cared if the human survived, but because rallying the sleeping giant of the orc clans against a huge elven force would cause untold destruction and bloodshed.  The PCs were all in.

Before the group could use the handy portal in the elven fortress to head to the orc lands, Osborn loaded up on hallucinogenic plants and dragon meat from the dungeon that the group had just explored.  So armed, the group headed to the orc lands.

It didn't take long before the group ran into an orc patrol, consisting of orc warriors riding wolves.  Since none of the party spoke orc, I was prepared for this encounter to either turn deadly, or resort to epic pantomime, but instead, Groot realized that he spoke wolf, and as such, Groot used the orc's mounts as translators to explain why the party had ventured into the orc held lands.

There were some translation issues.  Things turned out mostly fine.

The orcs, seeing Krazag-Hrodoz in the hands of Chad the paladin, decided that there was a prophecy that might be in the offing, which would mean speaking with the tribe's shaman.  On the way to said shaman, the group found out that the gathering of orcs had grown huge due to the orc chieftain Rulrek bringing forth one of the largest hordes in the current age.  Rulrek was still not sure what target to strike out towards, and his horde was growing restless.

Krazag-Hrodoz's return to the orcs was to herald the beginning of the Age of Orcs.  The shaman, however, determined that just because the humans had brought the sword didn't mean they had anything to do with the destiny of the orcs, and recommended killing them and taking the sword.  At least he did until Osborn handed him a brownie laced with the elven "happy plants."  Then he began giving a lot of advice that was long on cosmic and short on logic.

Rulrek told the group that they would be considered part of the tribe if they could survive the Pits of Morglash, the traditional coming of age ceremony for young orcs.  The group agreed, and they entered the pits.  Groot carried the wyvern's stinger on his arm as a weapon, coated in in pitch, and lit it on fire, to act as a torch and a weapon.  I waited for him to roll a 1.  He didn't.  Sadness ensued.

The party survived parasites, a swarm of scorpions, rapid chute into a really hard wall, a the bones of the orcs that had failed the test, the Pit of Courage, which could kill them or make them stronger, and the Spiky Climbing Challenge.

Before the group entered the pits, the shaman, still a bit "enlightened," handed each of them an egg to carry with them through the test.  Zardock and Groot both put their eggs in the Pit of Courage, and upon emerging from the pit, both of their eggs hatched to reveal full grown War Chickens, large enough to be ridden into battle.

Fully members of the tribe, the group decided to have another stab at the carousing rules, this time seeing what "orc flavored" carousing would look like.  Osborn and Tom  (the halfling intern from last session) ended up with epic hang overs, and Groot joined a secret society of wolves that wanted to push the orcs towards doing something important before the horde could break up.

Tom also took one of Rulrek's daughters as a wife.

Groot convinced Rulrek that the best, most obvious way to show the power of the horde was to hit the elven army, as it was only a few days away if they left immediately.  The group set out, suffered no major setbacks, and engaged the elf army and it's general.

The party zeroed in on the general. His wyvern mount took out Zardock, and the general dropped Tom.  This left Osborn and Groot to destroy the elf general.  Before going down, Tom managed to score a critical on the elf general that caused him to go deaf, which is bad when you are a spellcaster.  The elf was sticking to swordplay.  Osborn attempted to sneak up on him and attack from behind, but failed, and Groot took the elf on directly.  Eventually Groot was successful.

Both Zardock and Tom survived the battle, as did the mystically catatonic Chad  (his player not being able to make the session).  When given the option of sneaking away from the orc horde or helping to direct it, the party gladly steered Rulrek to Calas Port themselves, for the greater glory of Gozer, and to help usher in the age of orcs.

In the mean time, Groot sent for his wife, potted her outside of the elven fortress, and turned the fortress into a training ground for adventurers.  Since he was training adventures to eschew the ways of man and become more tree like, he called this his school for Ex-Men.

Thus did the Age of Man end, and the Age of Orcs begin.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Character Investment

A discussion today puts me in mind of how invested I am in a character that I am playing.  The discussion sprung out of various things, but in order to keep relatively focused  (or as focused as I ever get), I'm going to frame this more as a discussion about how a character comes into being and interacts with the world, and the level of immersion and investment that creates.

It was posited that in a game where the character is randomly generated and in a world where you have less control of the narrative of the story, and where your character can have calamity befall them, from maiming and curses, to death, at the drop of a hat due to static statistical roles that your character has as part of their stats, that situation leads to more investment in the character.

I'd argue this isn't the case, for me.  It might work for other people.  

I have played in a lot of games where I randomly determine things about the character.  I don't dislike those games.  But I'm not invested in the character because they might die at any moment, or because their survival and success is based on my decisions and random determination.  When death can come that quickly, and when many elements of the character are randomly generated, I don't have a handle on the character until I've been playing them for a while.

In games where I have more control over everything, from stats to talents to career to origin, I tend to be invested right from the start.  I know how the guy thinks, and what he does and where he wants to go.  Some of that may change when it comes in contact with his allies and the world itself, but I have a point of reference to start out with.

If I am invested in a character, while I appreciate and understand risk in a game, if I have invested time in the character, having some "meta" mechanism to keep him around if he dies is not something that detracts from the game, for me.  That having been said, I've had several characters that I could have saved, that I let die because it made more sense.

I prefer a bit more control and self determination, but if I like the game, and the players, and the GM, I can enjoy a game where I have less control over those things.  There isn't really one true way, and I'd never think to call a game where you are primarily portraying a character that you have created and deciding your actions based on what you think that character would do anything other than a roleplaying game, even if that game gave a degree of narrative control to the players, nor would I think to declare a game with more or less narrative control empirically better or worse for everyone.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mission Accomplished! (Only War, August 1st, 2013)

Sadly, we reached the end of our Only War campaign this last Thursday.  Even more sadly, since we had to TPK twice and then start over, meaning we only got a few sessions with these new characters.

For anyone that missed the last recap, our penitent legion had been sent on a mission to set up a laser beacon on a building in a city held by orks.  Upon arriving, we realized that this planet was actually our own home planet, even though we hadn't been informed as such.  Our Chimera had the armor blown off of one side of it and was moving a little slow, and we got a little sidetracked.  Helped some natives that told us the orks were having them help build the cities for them.

We show up late for the party, with other imperial guard units besieging the city full of orks themselves.

Recap firmly in place, we skip to the current session.  We have a barrel of acid.  Together with our breacher, my field chirurgeon consults on how well the acid would work.  I'm a bit optimistic about how powerful it is, but the breacher and our operator use it to make a hole in the wall that we can drive the Chimera through, and we hightail it to the building where we need to set up the beacon.

We set up operations in the bottom floor, and our breacher and operator set up lots of booby traps and explosives around the Chimera.  We start making our way up the floors to scout out on our way to the roof.  The field chirurgeon is going second rank to help out anyone that gets wounded.  Which ends up being everyone, by the end of the fight.

In marked contrast to previous nights, our penitent legion actually methodically clears rooms, opening doors, throwing in grenades, slamming doors shut, and waiting for bad guys to come out.  There were, of course, two exceptions to this generally organized and efficient means of doing things.

1.  Our very first fight, when orks just can rolling down the stairs at us, involved a plasma cannon, and a blast radius.  It worked, but it hurt.

2.  One of the rooms we were clearing got a hole melted in the door by our sentry.  The hole was big enough for squigs to pour out of, and one of them nearly ate it's way through his chest.

Eventually we ran into a room full of cyborks and a mad doc, and one of the cyborks fell on top of our sentry, who couldn't move until we helped him out later on.

Our sharpshooter scouted ahead once, again recalling old habits, and got blasted for it.  I healed him, and our breacher attempted to use an ork head as a puppet to convince the orks in the buildings on either side of ours that the orks from the other side had shot at them.  It almost worked, but it also got the breacher's hand shot by crossfire.

Eventually we made our way to the roof.  It was clear.  Nothing around.  Except for tons of orks on a nearby building, and a Weird Boy that levitated the whole crew to our rooftop.  Many explosions and much shooting happened.  The sentry died.  I did some healing and some convincing that wounds weren't that bad.

Then after the sharpshooter melted the brain of the Weird Boy  (almost melting us in the process), the Storm Boyz showed up with their jet packs, and we started all over again.  After that fight, we set up the beacon, camouflaged it, and ran for the Chimera, and our operator got us out of the city before it was reduced to rubble.

1 fatality  (2 if you count his comrade), 1 successful mission.  Not bad for guardsmen.  It was a nice note to go out on, and I'm going to miss the game, in general, even if I never quite got a character in place for the long term.  I think I would enjoy it, but we seemed to be especially prone, at least with our first regiment, to making unwise decisions that led directly to our demise.

We did us a trial run of the resolution system spelled out in Dark Heresy 2nd Edition, as our GM has been reading that.  In short, whenever resolving an action, if you are successful, you get one degree of success, then you subtract the tens digit of your roll from the tens digit of the target success number, and those are your additional degrees of success.  I like it, myself, as it was a bit faster to figure, and worth the lost of some "accuracy."

All Roads Lead to Moon Knight (Marvel Heroic, July 28th, 2013)

The road to Civil War leads ever on.  For anyone interested in seeing the campaign first hand, here is the YouTube video of the last session of the event:

The highlights of the night included the following:

  • Wonder Man, Speed, Wiccan, Wolverine, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Hawkeye  (Kate Bishop) showed up at Stamford to help with the cleanup.  Most of them were emotionally effected by what they saw, and at the end of the day, Speed got into a shouting match with some of the anti-hero protesters that showed up.
  • Ms. Marvel's team went after Moon Knight to bring him to justice.  Moon Knight set up a whole apartment complex as a trap for them.  Ms. Marvel's team went after Moon Knight on the night of a Full Moon.

  • To everyone's surprise, Atlantean agents stormed the apartment building to aid Moon Knight.  Moon Knight nearly took out Ms. Marvel with his traps, Spider-Woman failed to deactivate the traps, Moon Knight "counter webbed" Spider-Man with one of his traps, and Hulk, Thor, and Luke Cage took out most of the Atlantean commandos.
  • Moon Knight dropped the floor out of the apartment, and because of Hulk's entrance, the weakened structure collapses completely.  Moon Knight escaped in his Moon Copter  (because half the team coming after him opened a hole in the roof.  Moon Knight snagged Janus, the Atlantean commander, as he left.
  • Doctor Strange headed to an ARMOR detention facility at Project Pegasus to investigate Master Pandemonium's escape.  While there, Loki attempted to talk with the group.  Wiccan and Hawkeye (Clint Barton) were all over interrogating him, but Loki started to get to Wiccan, and Doctor Strange created a barrier that made it impossible for the group to see or hear Loki, so that he couldn't exert any undue influence over them.
  • Wiccan cast a spell that told him some kind of magical artifact was used for brute force, not native spellcasting, and Tigra could smell the telltale remnants of Asgardian magic in the area.

Iron Man, at Project Pegasus--"I'm not playing Good Cop, I actually don't think we should torture the prisoner."

I'm pretty happy with how the event is moving along. We've got some bits in place that I can use as the Watcher to personalize the event.  Now I just need to start moving the event closer to resolving Act One so we can get to the heart of all of the conflict, and figure out if my ideas for Act Three  (which, IMHO, is the weakest part of Civil War) will work out in a satisfying manner.

Those Crazy Elves (DCC, July 25th, 2013)

The Dungeon Crawl Classics crew continued to crawl through the elven dungeon that they happened upon a few sessions back.  Just to recap, for anyone that doesn't remember, these aren't Tolkien happy fun time wise and good elves.  These are Moorcock decadent human hating elitist elves.  

The party managed to find the portal room that connects the remote outpost to the old Eastern Empire of the elves.  Improperly playing with said portal opened a gate to the para-elemental plane of acid, which flooded the room with acid and brought with it an acid para-elemental.

Once the elemental was dealt with, and the portal was closed, the party decided to check out the huge crystal cage at the north end of the level.  The huge crystal cage that contained a large riding wyvern, in suspended animation and waiting for the elves to jump on it and ride.

The professor that hired the group let them know that the old elven empire, at it's peak, bred the broken and defeated dragons of the previous age until they had produced stupid, docile riding wyverns.  Despite the fact that it was a dragon, and huge, the party decides that one of the things adventurers do is wake up dangerous things, and they do so.

There is some bargaining, which allows the wizard to finally use his draconic language skill on the wyvern.  The riding wyvern speaks very bad dragon, and seems more annoyed than intrigued by the offers.  The party keeps offering.  The dragon keeps lunging at the bars.  Eventually I decide that the riding wyvern remembers it's napalm breath, and he sprays the team.

The party's employer, the professor, the one who knows where the scepter from the crown jewels that he stole to pay them is burried, goes up in flames.  Oswarld, the party halfling, finds a secret passage, and closes it behind him in order to hide from the dragon.

Zardock, the Wizard, and Chad, the Paladin of Gozer, run to the portal room and open a portal (successfully) to near the party's home town.  Chad waits on the other side, hoping to get a shot at the wyvern if it comes through.

Groot and the most recent human intern fall to the wyvern, and the wyvern demolishes the stone room that houses the portal, leaving it able to actually reach into the portal and chase after Zardock and Chad.  Groot survives the dragons attack, and wakes up again thanks to his nine lives ring, and surprises the riding wyvern as it is peering through the portal.  

Groot makes his mighty deeds roll and manages to cut the stinger off the riding wyvern's tail.  It swings around to attack the persistent tree-raised human ranger, and it's bloodied tail  falls through the portal, right to where Chad can hack it off at the root, and the riding wyvern dies.

On the other side of the portal, Zardock finds a halfing farmer and recruits him as the newest adventuring intern for the party, bringing him back into the dungeon via the portal.

Osborn finds an altar to some strange mystic patron in the secret passage, and mist shrouded monsters pounce on him and knock him out from his wounds without anyone hearing him.  The next morning, the rest of the group finds the secret passage, and the mist monsters.  Groot, Zardock, and Chad make short work of them, the halfing intern survives, and the party recovers Osborn's body to find him still alive.

Upon finding the altar, Chad destroys it before it can be identified.  Becuase it's an altar, and it's not to Gozer.

The group finds the quarters of the former master of the outpost, finds some coins and his stash of magical scrolls, and gets ready to leave.  Groot has plans on refurbishing the elven outpost as their new headquarters, using the portal as a "funnel" to test new interns for their own adventuring guild.

Before they can draw up any more plans, a supernatural minion of Gozer leaps through the portal and tasks Chad with an important mission.  It seems that while the party has been off adventuring, the elves have marshaled their mercenaries and slave armies in the east to march across the continent and take the largest of the human held free cities.  

Gozer wishes Chad to venture into the orc held northeastern wastes and raise a horde of orcs to fall upon the supply lines of the elven army, thus dooming it before it can pose a threat, and also causing massive bloodshed and destruction, rousing the sleeping giant of the orc tribes to action across the continent.

On a metagame note, I had always planned on putting this campaign back on the shelf at the end of August, since I knew I would be starting my new Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign at that point in time.  Because I really wanted to have an ending to the campaign, I threw open the idea of what to do for the end to my players, and one of them pointed out that the running theme of this setting has been that elves are jerks that hate humans.

Since that's the case, I thought, how better to end a campaign than to have the players recruit and lead a horde of orcs to crush an elven army, thus saving humanity?  So we'll see if we can pull off that kind of an ending to this campaign next time around.  Wish me luck!