Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Earth 52 (Paradox)

And last, but certainly not least, especially when he's using his powers, the Canadian powerhouse, master of density manipulation, and former hockey star:  Paradox!

(My player has a really great picture of his character, which I can't replicate here)

Paradox:  Colin McKenzie spend much of his youth as a hockey star.  This life of excitement generated a nice amount of capital for Colin, but he felt that he should be doing more with his life, and upon retirement  (at a fairly young age), found out that he was in possession of a metagene, one that allowed him to alter his density.

Paradox became a local hero in Canada, operating with other Canadian heroes and keeping his homeland safe.  He gained government clearance and the love and adoration of his native country.  However, a personal tragedy made him wish to move on from Canada, due to the bad memories there.

About this time, Steve Trevor was looking for an established hero to lend some gravitas to the New Guard and also to act as the group's face, so that Marathon would cause fewer problems.  Seeing this as a new challenge and finding it a useful distraction from his past tragedy, Paradox accepted the offer.

Paradox's powers include intangibility, super density  (which also grants him super strength), flight  (when his density is lowered), growth and shrinking.  His powers are metahuman in nature.

Paradox is a wealthy philanthropist, and probably the most traditionally super-heroic of the group.  He is fastidious when it comes to record keeping, and before the group claimed the mantle of the Justice League, Paradox had their own headquarters in Central City built.

While Paradox was originally contracted to serve as the face of the team, he often has to fight with Myrmidon over that role, and still has to worry about Marathon's public statements and actions as well.  While Myrmidon and Marathon have gotten into legendary logic battles in the past, Paradox has, in the course of trying to be the peacemaker, been dragged into these logic debates as well, usually ending with his own headache as Myrmidon and Marathon come to a bizarre detente that Paradox can't quite fathom.

Due to the tragedy in his past, Paradox has resisted feminine advances in the past, even those from Greek goddesses.

Dramatis Personae: Earth 52 (Necromancer)

It's time for everyone's favorite Death loving "I'm not Goth, I'm a Necromancer," Necromancer!

Necromancer:  Daniel Cross was born to a mother that was a natural magical talent and a father that wished his life had nothing to do with magic.  Daniel's mother knew he was similarly gifted when he first started to hear spirits that had passed on.

In his youth, Daniel received rudimentary training from his mother, but never had formalized magical training due to his father's wishes. Upon becoming an adult, Daniel and his father lost track of his mother, who mysteriously disappeared.

Daniel ignored his minimal powers for a while, but began working in an occult book store.  Before the alteration of their histories, Daniel encountered Black Hand, and eventually died due to Black Hand's manipulation, and was brought back to life by Amanda Waller in Project Fallback.  After the timestream was altered, Daniel was recruited on the recommendation of his mother by Steve Trevor's Department of Metahuman Affairs for the team that would become the New Guard.

Daniel's natural magical powers run towards the necromantic.  He can fire skull shaped blasts of negative energy, and in the past has been able to summon the spirits of the dead.  He can teleport by stepping through shadows, and in the past had been able to adopt an ectoplasmic form able to pass through solid objects.  He can also reverse the deaths of those that have died recently, but this power is not always reliable.  Finally, he has a talent for ritualized magic, and has used this ability to create a staff that grants him luck and a jacket that fortifies his natural stamina and health.

Eventually Daniel found out that his mother's mysterious disappearance was due to the fact that she had become a teach at the White School, the preeminent school for magical training, and that she was working with the prodigy Timothy Hunter.  He also found out that he had an aunt who was involved with Ares, producing his cousin, Myrmidon.

Necromancer often fought against a future vision of himself as a self-help guru, who dispensed bright and sunny advice to people.  Myrmidon convinced him to embrace this future, and he managed to write a very successful self-help book about the power of positive thinking and self-determination.  For a while he decided to distance himself from his Necromancer image and wore all white tailored suits, calling himself Guru, but he eventually felt that this was against his true nature.

Necromancer has briefly been on contact with the Endless known as Death, and is quite enamored of her.

Necromancer is perennially misunderstood.  While his powers deal with death and the manipulation of life energies, Daniel himself isn't particularly morose or negative in outlook.  He gets extremely annoyed with people making assumptions about his personality based on his attire and powers.  This frustration doesn't begin with his team members  (although it continues with them).  His father also had a hard time understanding his son, his powers, and his interests.

Necromancer often becomes exasperated by his comrades, often times simply letting them think what they will instead of arguing his point any further.

Dramatic Personae: Earth 52 (Myrmidon)

Why is it that these posts are reminding me of the KISS solo albums?

Anyway, Myrmidon is next up on our cavalcade of heroes, the son of Ares!

Myrmidon:  Jason Jeffries spent much of his life having no idea he was Jason Jeffries.  Raised on an island that was frozen in time in the Bronze Age  (of Earth, not comics . . . ), Jason did not realize there was a "modern world" outside of the island where he was raised.

Amazingly well trained and superhumanly effective, Myrmidon was going to be inducted into the elite guard of the mistress of the hidden trio of islands . . . Circe.

Then one day, before any of this could happen, Myrmidon found himself at the Department of Metahuman affairs, enrolled in the New Guard program, as if he had been there for months.  No one hand any record of when he arrived or had been approved.  He simply showed up and everyone assumed he should be there.

Myrmidon had a hard time adapting to the "modern world."  He needed to have rules clearly and consistently spelled out to him before he would follow them, and was often confounded by contradictory orders or vague explanations.  Even his team members had a hard time seeing his point of view, not believing that he was actually raised on an island trapped in the Classical Era.

Eventually a series of magical artifacts led the team to Paradise Island, and Myrmidon found out that he was the son of the god Ares, who had placed him in the Department of Metahuman Affairs so that he could lead an army of metahumans to take Paradise Island for his father.  Conflicted and not wanting to disobey his father, Myrmidon did not immediately help his team, but eventually Ares was defeated, and Myrmidon resolved his place on the team, adapting better to the modern world and the constraints of the team.

Myrmidon eventually found out that he was Necromancer's cousin, and that his mother was a failed sorceress that fell in love with Ares and competed with Circe for his affections.  Circe killed his mother and had him raised on her islands so as not to invite the wrath of Ares.  Myrmidon and the New Guard assaulted Circe's island, and after a dramatic fight were the Greek gods were stripped of their powers by Circe and her allies from Apokolips, Myrmidon killed Circe.

After their pasts were altered, Myrmidon decided to help himself cope with modern life by leaving his past self notes, and by convincing his cousin to embrace his self-help writing talents.  Myrmidon became much more media savvy and much more tactical in his approach to any situation, and inherited some of Hades wealth.

Myrmidon has superhuman charm and is amazingly attractive.  He is physically more durable and stronger than a human being, though he is not as powerful as Beorn or Paradox at their peak.  He has a shield and sword from Ares' arsenal, though he only uses the sword in dire situations, as it is truly made for killing.

Myrmidon had a elusive relationship with Vicki Vale after his first visit to Gotham City.  Eventually he returned to this relationship, and the two are now engaged to be married.

Myrmidon is an honorable man.  He was raised in a time with somewhat swifter, more decisive justice, but Myrmidon also respect rules and norms of society, so long as those rules and laws do not overtly strain logic or his own code of honor.  For example, Myrmidon will normally not kill, as he is trying to act within the established norms of the Justice League, but some circumstances, such as his battle with Circe, trump this prohibition.  He also is very reverent of the Olympian pantheon, and will cede to the wishes of the proper Olympian under the right circumstances.

Dramatis Personae: Earth 52 (Marathon)

The next member of our crew is the ever-curmudgeonly, sometimes borderline homicidal public dick, Marathon!

Marathon:  Wesley Tolliver was very good at being a low rent private detective in Hub City.  Married and divorced, with a daughter that he didn't get to see nearly as often as he would like, his forays into the underbelly of humanity's behavior made him even more cynical than his life experiences had up to that point.

Before the team's adventure into the past, Marathon was infected by Black Hand and was brought back to life by Amanda Waller's Project Fallback.  After the alteration of the past by the team, Marathon was recruited by Steve Trevor's Department of Metahuman Affairs and placed on the New Guard.

Marathon adopted a bright, garish superhero costume in order to draw attention to him, due to his physical ability to shake off damage.  Despite this, most of his allies don't care to let him draw fire for them.  Marathon has superhuman endurance, and can even regenerate wounds over time, and does not need to sleep or breathe.  He can fly and an incredible rate of speed, and he also has telekinetic powers.  Despite his superhuman endurance, he is not invulnerable.  He also does not have superhuman strength, but can (and has) utilized his TK to mimic the effects of superhuman strength.  His powers are metahuman in nature.  He was born with a metagene that became active.

Marathon has, in the past, adopted a "face" position with the group.  Due to his blunt nature, this has caused problems in the past, and was part of the reason that Steve Trevor recruited Paradox to act as the team's front man.

For the good of his daughter, Marathon invited his ex-wife and daughter to live in the New Guard's headquarters so that he could keep his daughter safe and sound.  This invited even more complications when his ex-wife became enamored of both Myrmidon and Paradox.  His daughter idolizes Necromancer and Beorn.

Marathon has often decided to take the most expedient course of action, such as killing a super villain, but then steps away from the decision when another course of action presents itself.  The one exception to this is his killing of Vandal Savage, but Savage's immortal nature played a part in this decision.  Thus, despite his cynicism and blunt nature, Marathon has deeper motivations than even he gives himself credit for at times.

Marathon has been shocked in the past when he assumes he knows his allies and they take a course of action that befuddles him.  His most recent surprise has been the general more positive stance that Myrmidon and Necromancer have taken.

Marathon still enjoys "tweaking" others, most recently evidenced by his interview in response to his ex-wife's tell all book.  Marathon was contrite and humble in his interviews, apologizing for any stress he put his ex-wife through, thus taking much of the wind out of the sales of her book.  Marathon knew this going into the interview, and as such, managed to be a jerk without being a jerk.

Dramatis Personae: Earth 52 (Fahrenheit)

The next character up on the docket is our lovable scoundrel Fahrenheit.

Fahrenheit:  Yoshiro Imahara was born to a pair of career criminals who were, towards the end of their careers, working for the assassin Merlyn and operating out of Zandia.  In his shadowy youth he was, at least briefly, introduced to the children of other international criminals such as Cassandra Cain and Damian Wayne.

Despite their occupation, Yoshiro's parents wanted better for their son, and neither of them were as cold-hearted or vicious as their employer.  Yoshiro was taught a certain pragmatic code of conduct as he grew up.

Yoshiro's parents eventually found a strange device that their employer was convinced had to do with an alien weapon of mass destruction.  Accidentally triggering the genetic lock, they decided to shut down the device so that none of their associates could use the bunker/device for evil, and they encoded the genetic lock so that only someone with both of their DNA could unlock the bunker.

Yoshiro was sent off to keep him safe, and he found himself in Hawaii.  Before the team's cross time adventure, Yoshiro was infected by Black Hand, and then picked up by the Feds for questioning about his parents.  He died in custody, and was brought back to life as part of Amanda Waller's Project Fallback.

After altering their past, Yoshiro instead found himself at an ancient volcano, visited by Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, who activated his latent powers and boosted them, tasking him with using fire to champion the world, with a special eye towards working against entropy and cold.  Yoshiro was overwhelmed, and them was picked up by the Feds.  He had any criminal past pardoned and was granted citizenship due to the deal he struck to work with Steve Trevor's office in the Department of Metahuman Affairs as a member of the New Guard.

Because of this, Fahrenheit's powers are both Metahuman and Mystical in nature.  Originally Fahrenheit could project and control fire, fly, and could even manipulate cold and ice, when his powers were strictly metahuman in nature.  Pele's modification of his powers eliminated his ability to manipulate cold, but added fire based illusions to his arsenal.

Fahrenheit is one of the youngest members of the New Gaurd.  He often sets out with heroic intentions, but wars against the pragmatic self preservation taught to him by his parents.  A pretty face causes him to loose most of his hold on logic.  He is prone to cracking horrible jokes, and is fond of keeping trophies of the group's various adventures.  He has developed an abiding disdain for Damian Wayne, especially since Damian recognized him and began referring to him as "minion spawn."  This is a deviation from his normal concern for children, who he goes out of his way to protect due to his own less than ideal childhood.

Dramatic Personae: Earth 52 (Beorn)

Because I take it seriously when I find out that someone that isn't in my immediate circle of gaming actually reads these blogs, I'm going to take up Matthew Lane's gauntlet and present the characters in our Earth 52 Drama.

Beorn:  David Ashford has always loved animals.  To some extent, he relates better to four legged mammals than two legged ones.  An expert in computers, technology, and zoology, David secured a position at a wildlife monitoring station in the remote wilds of Alaska.

From time to time government officials would arrive to check up on the station's progress.  During one of these visits, Amanda Stiverson, a daughter of one of the government officials that would check in from time to time, came to visit.  Beorn had always been fond of Amanda, and she had always been friendly during her visits.

One of the maintenance crew at the station attempted to take violent liberty with Amander, and David attempted to aid her.  At this point, Beorn was born.  David transformed into a bear and mauled Amanda's attacker.

Before the crew went on their time altering trip to the past, Beorn was brought back to the D.C. to report on his findings and his strange new powers, where he was infected with a wasting sickness by Black Hand, in order to help him create a vanguard of Black Lanterns.  Beorn was then brought back to life by Amanda Waller as part of Project Fallback, to fill the void left when the Justice League and various other teams went missing.

After the team went back in time to stop Black Hand from infecting them  (and inadvertently allowing Atrocitus to savage Black Hand before he could ever set into motion his plan to herald the Black Lanterns of Nekron), Beorn's history changed so that he was instead recruited by Steve Trevor's Department of Metahuman Affairs as an agent, forming the team known as the New Guard.

After months of wondering at the source of his powers, Beorn was granted a vision by a powerful bear spirit that indicated that his powers were a gift to him for his work with animals, and that he was also granted these powers to give Earth another champion against future impending dangers, which would threaten all life, not just humans.  Thus, Beorn's powers are mystical in nature.

Over the months that he has been operating as a member of the New Guard, he has learned that he can make is bear form quite immense, larger than even the largest natural bears.  In many fights, however, Beorn retains the size of a large natural bear, rather than risk the complications that his increased size brings.

Beorn is a relatively quiet man with a wry sense of humor, often cutting quickly to the heart of the matter with just a few words.  He is fond of children and animals, and is content to allow others to determine the big picture so long as he can help out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Game Night: Pathfinder RPG Shackled City--TPK, TPK, TPK!

You may recall last session all of our characters got scattered across the Realms.  How could we get back together in time for a TPK, or did said TPK happen one at a time?  Well, no, we all got back together.  We had a handy assist from the GM throwing us a cosmic entity that wanted us to keep doing what we were doing and that gave us nifty amulets that would let us avoid being banished across the Realms.

So, one cosmic bard and his giant family later, we head back into the Abyss.  This time we show up right at the place where our testing was to take place, so we dive right in, eager to see what horrible mishap or misstep would befall.

A mummy was our Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and he told us that we had to choose between fighting our way through a bebilith (huge spidery demon) or an avoral (angelic bird thing) to move on to the next stage.  So we chose the bebilith.  Yes, there was actually a debate, albeit a small one for our party.

The bebilith fight actually went fairly well.  It was such a nice false sense of security.  Sure, it bit some of us pretty hard and had a nasty poison, but the cleric can fix that, right?

Wait, the cleric and the bard were out for the night.  Hrm.

Ah well . . . onto the next challenge!

We ended up freeing the avoral and giving him one of our necklaces to let it go home.

Then we met up with our mummy MC again, and eventually ran into an Abyssal Greater Basilisk.  So a fiendish version of something that can turn you to stone by looking at you.  To keep my allies nice and safe, I cast Lock Gaze on the thing, forcing it to look at me, and then burned a hero point to get a +8 on my save.

Not only did we survive  (I got chewed on a bit ), but I managed a crit from the critical hit deck that would had resulted in bleed 30 if the thing had lived through the hit.  Yay me!  I had a staring contest with a basilisk and made it blink!

Up next, a weird maze through some cysts that reset us to the beginning if we didn't move fast enough, and a rematch with the hezrou that banished us last time.

The details get a bit sketchy here.  I remember our inquisitor blinding one of them, and glitterdust actually blinding another one, but one of them summoned another hezrou.  I remember the inquisitor almost killing the one he blinded, and the monk getting separated and running like hell.

Mainly I remember we all died.

I'm not quite sure where we got off track in the campaign, but, wow, were we.  I'm sure there was something else we weren't quite getting or picking up on, because, oh goodness, did we bungle into some nasty situations.

Our GM got a TPK  (we count TPKs based on players present, not total theoretical party, so even with the bard and the cleric gone, the magus, inquisitor, cavalier, monk and druid all died.  And that's what really counts, isn't it?

So, our GM gets on the TPK list at the store, and now we have a few one-shots to get us through May.  Our GM is, regrettably, likely to have to quit the game after May, so we're in a sort of transition period right now, as we figure out where to go from here.

Also, here is the Hulk wearing a dice hat:

Game Night: DC Adventures--Wedding Bells (4-21-12)

Where to start?

For Tuesday night's DC Adventures game, I wanted to give the team some down time after the earth shaking events they had been doing.  They stopped an alien WMD, saved the Greek pantheon from Darkseid, got sent back in time by various cosmic level beings to keep themselves from making a deal with the devil, and fought a Captain Nazi powered Vandal Savage after Vandal had consolidated most of the cults and secret societies of DC Comics under his control.  What's next?

First up, a really easy mop up session to remind them that they have a few villains to corral yet.  So we ran a chase scene with Silver Banshee, where she was obviously outclassed, and the group nailed her fairly quickly.  As an aside . . . not sure on the chase rules.  They kind of seem like a hard sell, especially when you have fairly diverse power sets on the same team.

("See if you can catch her."  "I go faster than she does."  "She might duck out of the way or double back, or hide."  "Is she using stealth?"  "Nope."  "Can I see her?"  "Sure."  "Can we beat her up now instead of rolling any more?")

I've noticed this with other games that seem to have fairly comprehensive rules that quantify exactly how fast people can move, what people can do with various actions, what their powers/feats/talents/spells can do.  The rules pretty much define so much, when you create a sub-system for something like a chase, you almost have to ask the players to decouple their knowledge of how to play the game to actually use the sub-system.

I'm wondering, but strongly suspecting, that even with as much fun as the chase rules seem for Pathfinder, if a similar "please guys, disregard the game so we can play the game within a game for a few moments until we get back to the main game" feeling would occur.

But enough meta-conjecture, as much fun was had.  Back into the fray!

The next phase of the night was to have Marathon find out that his ex-wife had written a tell all book about being married to a super hero before he was famous.  Plus Myrmidon started dating Vicki Vale again, and getting serious.

And then . . . panic at the Canadian Film Festival!  Beorn's friend tells the team that the raptors from a few sessions back are running free, and might have been modified from the standard model raptor.  Said raptors seemed to have kidnapped a famous director because of their objection over the portrayal of raptors in his films.

Not only did the team defeat the raptors and save the director, but they convinced the raptors to turn to the side of good, and to become the guardians of Canada.  Since the DC Universe doesn't have much in the way of Canadian super heroes . . . especially since Paradox moved.

I totally intended the raptors to be a fun diversion after some of the other super villains in the campaign.  I was not expecting the team to go to bat for the raptors, try to get them cleared of any wrongdoing, and get them a fresh start as saurian super heroes.  Nice one guys.

Myrmidon then decided that he was going to settle down and get married, set up yet another infomercial, and proposed to Vicki Vale.  Fahrenheit and Marathon thought about being . . . troublesome in this regard, but both of them had a change of heart.  Fahrenheit even used his fire based illusions to provide fireworks for the TV show.

Vicki Vale even gave Marathon an interview over his wife's book, where he basically was the most anti-Marathon he's ever been, was apologetic over anything he had done wrong, and came across as a good, if slightly flawed, every day guy.  This tanked his wife's book sales, since he didn't seem that bad, and thus Marathon accomplished being a dick by not being a dick.

Finally, we dove back into the actual, more serious narrative, as Warworld pulled into Earth's orbit and Mongul, son of Mongul, publicly executed his father, declared that he was in charge of the Yellow Lantern Corps, and demanded the Earth's submission.

Myrmidon took to the airwaves and mentioned that since the New Guard defeated Mongul  (the father), he demanded the chance to defeat Mongul  (the son) one on one.  Then they set the meeting place as the micro island that Fahrenheit claimed way back when.

On the island, instead of Mongul, Mongal appeared, and told Myrmidon that if they were to marry, he could name a champion to take on her brother with the popular support of the denizens of Warworld.  Myrmidon didn't agree, since he just got engaged, but Marathon, and strangely, Necromancer agreed to the deal.

Because a suitor to the throne of Warworld must prove themselves, Marathon and Necromancer underwent the Wedding Trials.  This consisted of the Trial of Pain, the Trial of the Cage, and the Trial of the Warriors.

In the trial of pain, pain inducers are set up on the subjects nerve endings and intense pain is shot into the suitor, to the point that their heart may stop from the overwhelming agony.  Necromancer, bizarrely, managed to convince the functionary that humans beings are neurologically linked to their clothing  (since part of his Toughness comes from his coat), and so the pain inducers had a slightly lower DC.

Necromancer and Marathon both survived the pain inducers.  On to the Trial of the Cage!

The Trial of the cage involved being strapped into a huge octagonal cage filled with spikes and rolled down a huge set of marble stairs.  Necromancer took a few wounds from this one, but his cage broke halfway down the stairs, and he proved to be tougher than the cage.  Marathon used his subtle telekinesis to cheat, and controlled the roll of the cage down the stairs, without harming himself.

Finally, the trial of the Warriors!   Warriors from all over Warworld bring their favorite weapon and stand in a hallway, poking at the prospective suitor, who must actually travel down the hallway, and survive all of the jabs and chops from the various murder holes.

Necromancer bravely made it about 2/3 of the way through the hallway before he was horribly mutilated and hacked to pieces.  Sad that.

Marathon regenerates.  He also flies really, really fast.  With the bonus from his flight speed, he shot down the hallway  (technically actually traveling the whole length), and took only minimal scrapes from the whole ordeal.

Everyone mourned Necromancer, Marathon quipped that Mongal is a positive female role-model for his daughter, and the newly named Prince Marathon of Warworld named Beorn has his champion to take on Mongol for the throne.

Necromancer may be back, in undead form, because:

1.  It's comics based entertainment.

2.  He's a guy  named Necromancer.  How do you not get some mileage out of that?

Overall, hilarious session with some great player curve balls for me to incorporate into the campaign.

The Circle of (Gaming) Life

Who says games don't help you in practical application of living your real, honest to goodness life?

I've done a much better job in the last few months, after getting some issues with my ex and our daughter squared away, in spending some actual quality time on my campaigns and what goes into them, and not winging it quite as much as was happening last year when I actually could make time for gaming.

That having been said, I'm still pushing back my gaming and gaming related activities  (like blogging about games, and posting summaries) back to the last minute.  I'm not thrilled with that, but upon doing the old "root cause analysis," I realize a lot of this had to do with the fact that non-gaming life is more chaotic now than it was, even with things settled down.

I once heard that more animals went extinct as the Ice Age ended then during the Ice Age, due to hyper-adaptation.  For some reason that's always stuck with me.

Sometimes you just let go of things you used to be on top of, because Big Deals come up, and after the Big Deal happens, you never get a hold of the reins that were once firmly in your hand.  And when I don't sweat the small stuff, at least organizationally, it makes me feel like I'm not giving my all to my games  (since this is my gaming blog, we aren't even going to start in on family, spiritual, or work aspects here), and that ups my stress level to the point where something has to give.

I'm very energized in my gaming life right now.  I'm running a DC Adventures game, and I still have a pretty good idea of where the campaign is going, and what's going to happen, even with incorporating the curve balls my players throw me  (and they are such good curve balls, I have to incorporate them). I'm running a Rogue Trader game, for which I've been building a ton of ideas ever since my gaming pals got me hooked into the 40K universe, so I've got a head of steam build up there.

Now, I might be starting to run a Pathfinder game.  I know that Pathfinder has burned me out in the past, but I also realize that situation, adventure, and circumstance of life play a big part in this, as I also crashed and burned with my Hellfrost campaign using Savage Worlds, which causes me very minimal stress from the GM side of the screen.

Long story short, I have to get back into habits that I used to take for granted, and some of them don't always seem like they relate to gaming.

1.  I need to get back into walking, because a lot of good ideas occur to me on long walks by myself.

2.  I need to get back into getting a good night's sleep, because I need to know that my brain is able to do the mental acrobatics that the player curve balls will require of me.

3.  I need to specifically schedule quality time with my wife and family, and friends  (away from gaming), so that I don't feel like I'm neglecting anyone when I get to game night and realize I don't know what's going on with my wife's work or my friend's kids or the like.

4.  I need to make sure that when I am working on my campaigns, I take some time to actually enjoy the genres and related hobbies that make me want to run games in the first place.  Sometimes it makes for a better GM if he can remember to watch a cheesy super hero flick or play a sci-fi video game and get better immersed in the tropes and trappings of what he's running.

I realized a lot of this, but it wasn't until I tried to do one of the things I've been wanting to get back to doing, in this case, reading up on GMing advice on Gnome Stew, that I was reminded of taking a step back and thinking about the process and the whole, not just what my gaze is focused on.

And if anyone actually is concerned about such, I'll have my posts about my DC game on Tuesday and my Pathfinder player experience up by the end of the weekend, barring any world ending events, or my dog eating my notes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Game Night: Rogue Trader--Family Matters (4-15-2012)

Jumping right into the recap for the Rogue Trader game . . .

After picking up a new ship, the crew gets called back to Port Wander, because the family patriarch wants to his heir to name one of his uncles as the captain of the new ship.

In the Warp, the ship hits a Warp Shoal of unreality, and does a massive ton of damage to the hull.  It took about two months in port to repair, and I think I did it wrong  (much to the group's chagrin, I actually think once they failed the aquisitions test, they may have been SOL for any more repairs . . . one of those things I need to double check).

Our intrepid Rogue Trader named the uncle that may have had his father killed as captain  (he was the most qualified, as one uncle has good contacts and a bad temper, and the other one is just a sycophant).  The uncle with the bad temper sent a present to the Lux Invictus, and then tried to unsend it, and then the ork noticed his frantic "unsending."

The present turned out to be a shipping crate filled with a mated pair of terrorax from Burnscour, to be set loose to cause fear and injury in the under decks.  With this knowledge in place, instead of sending the crate back, the Rogue Trader had Acrisius and his crew build a Xenos habitat and called the crew together to watch an arena match between Remmy  (the arch-militant) and the ork, and Acrisius, since he didn't get out of the arena fast enough.

This is where we were reminded that our crew of Explorers are not Space Marines.  In Deathwatch, over and over again, we kind of laughed off fear, since it just did a few points of cohesion, which we usually got back by using fate points.  Explorers in Rogue Trader, however, shall indeed know fear, and that fear causes stuff like vomiting for 1d5 rounds or dropping your stuff or taking -10 on your actions.

On top of all of this, the Rogue Trader started off the fight giving his leadership bonus to the terrorax so that they could make a good show of the fight.

Acrisius and Lockjaw survived.  Remmy kind of survived, after loosing an arm and burning a fate point.  The terrorax made a pretty good show of it for everyone.  They even managed to do some damage to the ork, who is the closest thing the party has to a Space Marine . . . mechanically speaking.

(The Terrorax, by the way, are from a sneak peak that Fantasy Flight put out from the Koronus Bestiary, which I'm anxiously waiting for at this point)

For the record, let me reinforce this.  The arch-militant burned a fate point and lost an arm on a completely avoidable encounter.  It made perfect sense in game for the Rogue Trader to do what he did, but I love it anyway.

The group also got a message from their Stryxis "friend," and they head off to Footfall to meet him.  In the Warp, they find a burned out hull with some valuables on it, and decide to tow the ship to Footfall to start refitting it.  In the meantime, they run into an Ebon Geist, which which could have been a nasty customer, but the Astropath (!) managed to get a power off and then get a good hit in with his brand new power sword.

Then they found out they were lost and had to make a few checks to start the navigation process over again.

All in all, a very fun night.  The ork sang.  Acrisius is having trouble with an engineseer that is more or less bending over backwards to stab him in the back by being competent.  Good times.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Campaign Buffer

At the moment I'm running a DC Adventures (Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition) game.  I'm also running a Rogue Trader (Warhammer 40K RPG) game as well.

I think a lot of GMs have their buffer of campaigns that they want to put into the hopper, to run if they have time.  My current buffer looks something like this:

1.  Way of the Wicked AP  (Pathfinder).  I don't miss running Pathfinder that much, but at the same time, I'm really liking this AP thus far, and I really want to give some of my gamer friends a chance to take some newer rules out for a spin.

2.  Red Eye of Azathoth (Call of Cthulhu).  I've never run CoC, but this adventure sounds so very cool.  I might be a bit intimidated to try and pull off something this cool for my first attempt.  Plus, I'm not sure if I could pull off the proper atmosphere in a public venue.

3.  Something Marvel  (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying).  Yup, I know.  Just a few weeks ago I was saying that I didn't quite get this system.  I did a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, listened to some actual play podcasts . . . but I felt like I wasn't giving it a fair shake unless I read the rules first hand.

Reading them first hand, I still have some misgivings.  I'll expound at some other date.  However, those misgivings are intriguing enough that I want to see if I'm either wrong or can work around them.  Strange.

4.  The Savage Worlds Variety Show  (Savage Worlds).  I'd have to make sure everyone is good with this up front, but I had such a blast running random one shots based on various movies and genres last year, I think it would be fun to do two or three, maybe four session adventures based on a movie or a genre, then rotate to a whole different genre or theme for another few nights.

I'm sure this list will mutate and change over time, but this is my current semi-solid list of campaigns that I'd run, if I had the change, at the moment.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Wife Is Amazing (I Have A Galaxy Tab): Comic Book Apps

My wife got me a Galaxy Tab 10.1 out of the blue, because she is awesome like that.  I've been going app crazy figuring out what I want on this thing, but being the kind of geek I am, I had to check out the comic book apps for the Android Market.

I love Comixology's app.  I really like reading comics much more on my tablet than on my lap top.  I love the way the comics flow from page to page, or panel to panel if you want them to pan that way.  Some of the cut and pan movement within a panel are just genius and actually really help to tell the story.

I've gotten comics from several different publishers, and they all move nicely to some extent.

I skipped over checking out Marvel's app.  Mainly for two reasons.  If I want a comic downloaded specifically to my tablet, I'll probably get it through Comixology.  Secondarily, I still have my unlimited digital subscription to Marvel's site, and if I want to read through their archives, I've still got to go through my laptop, as the Marvel app only works for individually downloaded comics that are purchased individually.

Finally, since I really wanted to check out Star Wars:  Dawn of the Jedi, given that I'm pretty keen on the storyline in The Old Republic, I picked up Dark Horse's app, since they have a proprietary digital system and don't sell their stuff on Comixology.

Wow.  If anyone from Dark Horse comes within a thousand miles of this blog, I hope that this comment somehow echoes through the internet ether to you.  Your interface sucks.  It is clunky and ugly and way behind Comixology's app.   It is so bad and clunky that comics that I want to read  (mainly Star Wars and Conan comics) I won't read on your app, and since I don't buy actual physical comics anymore, that means I'm not buying your stuff.

The best thing Dark Horse could do is look at how Comixology's app works and make it work just like that.  Ugly framing and clunky movement aren't going to bring them into the future, and there are plenty of other options out there in the digital comics-sphere.

Around the Geek-a-verse! What Have I Been Up To (When I'm Not Gaming)

Lots of family activity the last few weeks, and as such, not as much direct game activity.  That having been said, since I have a good percentage of geek in my family, there has been lots of geeky activity, even without direct gaming.

Look at me!  I'm Katniss!

Last weekend we went to the Harvest Moon Drive In  (you should go if you are anywhere around central Illinois . . . really).  The movie we went to see was the Hunger Games.  Not a bad movie.  Not brilliant, and not an entirely new concept.  Decently acted, kind of slow, pointless shaky cam at the beginning almost made me want to leave in the first 15 minutes.

The gamer side of me, of course, can see the potential for a fun RPG scenario with players put into games to survive and perform for the amusement of others.  In fact, this might go in my arsenal of Savage Worlds one shots.  Might be fun to see how it shakes out when the PCs are the only tributes left . . .

A Marvelous Return

The good news?  The Avengers animated series is back on for it's second season.  Fun first episode with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers going up against Doctor Doom.  The bad news?  Ultimate Spider-Man isn't just a strained concept with having Spider-Man on a team with other Marvel characters as teens, with all of them working for SHIELD . . . it's also a really forced and jarring attempt to do a Marvel version of the Teen Titans cartoon.

Wrath of the Sequel

Wrath of the Titans was actually not bad.  Wrath of the Titans seemed like a movie using Greek Mythological elements to tell a story, with the elements arranged to do what they wanted the elements to do instead of following the actual myths.  As opposed to Clash of the Titans, where the movie seemed to be made by people that that only knew Greek mythology through watching the original movie that they decided to remake differently but the same.

It was kind of funny to count how many back tracks there were in this movie from the original movie.  Overall not a bad fantasy movie, and Hephaestus and his "adviser" were great.  

Coolest moment for a gamer?  I really liked the scale and "feel" of the cyclopes that appeared in the film, and how that creates a visual for, say, encounters with giants in an RPG.

Game Night: Pathfinder Shackled City--Never Split the Party . . . Across the World

I'm not sure what is wrong with our Pathfinder group.  I say that not as an accusation or a reprimand of any kind.  I honestly don't know what is wrong with us.  We seem to be bouncing from one insanely dangerous situation to the next and wandering face first into every bad thing we could possibly wander into.  I'm sure there are countermeasures to be taken, but despite having a huge party, it's just not happening.

Currently the group is:  human cleric, goliath druid, human cavalier, human monk  (zen archer), half-elf magus, human bard, and oread inquisitor.  All 8th level.

The oread inquisitor is replacing our lost aasimar rogue that died last session.  Unfortunately our other human druid had to retire from the group, placing us at seven.

In the aftermath of our demonic manhandling last session, we found ourselves in the middle of a desert after having a dying paladin tell us not to go home and to face the smoking eye to keep the curse from falling on the city, or words to that effect.

As fate would have it, a sorcerer shows up that wants to take us to some plane that used to be part of Heaven but broke off into the Abyss, and there is a Test of the Smoking Eye to determine who is the ruler of the plane, after the previous arch fiend that ruled it disappeared.  Hey, that sounds like something completely insane yet related to what the paladin was talking about!

Some members of the party were a bit hesitant to venture into the Abyss, but hey, I'm an Adventurer, I like random prophesies that make us into the Last Best Hope and crazy schemes like taking over a level of the Abyss.  It's what we do!  Thankfully, the cavalier liked the idea of ruling a plane and the sorcerer talked Chesterfield, our bard, into the trip, and we were off!

The Thrill of Victory!

As we set out across a plane where the ground appears to be made of flesh, we ran into a grey, toad like humanoid creature.  It was a grey slaad, but I had no idea given my Knowledge, The Planes check.  He hovered in the air and attacked us with Chaos Hammer, then summoned a Blue Slaad.

Chesterfield got to try out his dispel magic by getting rid of the summoned Slaad.  The inquisitor set up a Field of Infinite Effects around the grey slaad.  I gave the cavalier a phantom steed to temporarily replace the poor, lamented lost animal companion whose blood he almost downed in, and, once riding into the Field of Infinite Effects, the cavalier did Infinity x 4 damage with his lance while bearing down on the slaad.

Beautiful teamwork.  The cleric saved my magus, who took con bleed from trying to sneak up behind the slaad.  We got ready to move on.

(Oh yeah, I got to surprise the party by using a spell that didn't have anything to do with making me more likely to hit when I shot a lightning bolt or two at the slaad . . . which of course didn't do full damage, but hey, I didn't want to just sit and wait for him to get in range)

The Agony of Defeat!

As we still kept towards our goal, our GM rolled up a random encounter.  A  random encounter with two hezrou.  At least I recognized what these monstrosities were, and I knew enough to know that this was going to suck.

Two blasphemies later, and only the oread inquisitor and the cleric  (as well as the NPC sorcerer) were still on the same plane as the hezrou demons.  The rest of us had been randomly banished across Faerun.  And I do mean randomly.

It was at this time that the emergency Plan B came up.  The cleric used a spell to banish extraplanar creatures to bump the Inquisitor out, and the sorcerer shifted the cleric out of the plane.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Two of us ended up in Lapaliia, the druid ended up in the High Forest, and the cavalier ended up in Cormyr.  Someone ended up in Kara-Tur . . . I started to loose track once I heard where I ended up.


For those of you that aren't familiar with the Realms, Thay is a horrible place ruled by evil wizards.  Said evil wizards don't like other arcane spellcasters operating in their borders.  Their greatest enemies are in the nation of Aglarond to the south, which has a huge population of half-elves.

I have an arcane spellcasting half-elf.

Not quite sure how this is going to shake out.  On top of all of that, I'm pretty sure I have the bag with all of the money in it.  Hooray!