Things I learned at my last gaming convention: Don’t have fun at the expense of the party

Alright, so in my last post I covered what happened in my Sunday morning game. Now we are going back a little earlier, to Saturday Afternoon. Due to a cancellation we wound up playing D&D 4th edition, which I’ve not played in several years. It isn’t my favourite game, and I know the person I was playing with isn’t found of it, but hey, we decided to make the best of it.

So the DM hands us out characters, and I grab a half-orc ranger, and the guy I’m playing with gets an old, knight (Paladin) at the end of his career. Now, each character has a secret mission: Mine is the simplest: I have to either slay or bloody the head orc, or a certain number of other orcs…or betray the party, embrace the orcs and slay or bloody at least one PC. An interesting choice, I think, and carefully watch how the rest of the party treats me as we roleplay. My buddy had the mission to refuse all healing (Note: The DM pointed out that if he was unconscious he couldn’t refuse healing) and then die in battle, and being the only one to die in the adventure. Someone else’s mission was to reveal to my mentor (a half-elf) that she was the Elven mother he had never met, and I don’t know the rest of them.

Now, it being a 4 hour con game the DM cuts out a lot of the roleplaying to fit it in, which makes a lot of the missions pointless, since we have no time to get to know one another.

Then comes the first fight: It turns out there this is the fight with the leader of the orc army: I don’t have any reason to betray the party; no one has treated me badly, so I don’t have any animosity towards them, and we are winning, so why would I switch to fighting on the losing side?. So I stay with the party, and we easily win the fight. Not even many tense moments. Cool, lots of healing left, the Paladin is in rough shape though, but whatever. We go into the next fight, with a red dragon. A big red dragon.

I go nuclear and do 84 points of damage in the first round, but that taps me out of my daily and encounter powers, and I don’t really have much other then sit there and whale on the dragon after that. The fighter works his way around to flank the dragon with me and the paladin, so it takes a penalty if it breaths on us. None the less, it does, killing the paladin outright. Now, we’ve still got 5 people, and our tank is pretty much unharmed, and the cleric has all her daily and encounter healing abilities.

Now earlier in the adventure the fighter tried to leap through a window, as he liked to do odd and unexpected things. So, at this moment, when the best thing he could do was stay there and distract the dragon and try and draw fire, he decides that isn’t what he is going to do. What does he do instead? He leaps through a nearby window (gets a 20 on acrobatics) then runs past the dragon towards the party, leaps through another window (another 20) then as we all hold our breath and wait to see what he does….he runs off to safety, abandoning the rest of the party to die. So he did his odd, unexpected thing, which I’m sure he greatly enjoyed by leaping through two windows as a full-plate fighter, and abandoning the rest of the party.

Was surviving so he could see his wife and kids part of his mission? NOPE. He was an exiled knight whom hadn’t been back to the capital for years. A knight who was sent out to this monastery to learn humility due to his overwhelming arrogance and pride. A knight who was mentioned on all our character sheets as having grown into a brave and noble knight in his time here. So yeah, the DM is confused, the party is confused and now we have no tank (Defender in 4e parlance). I’ve got the most hitpoints, so I try, but I don’t have any abilities to draw fire or anything, just to hit the dragon harder. Meanwhile the dragon is breathing on us, everyone else is tapped out, and there are only 4 of us, so our damage output is way down.

We lose. At the end the dragon had 7 hit point left. If that guy had played his character at all like he was supposed to, or even stayed around to hit the dragon ONCE more, we would have won.

What makes this more of a demonstration of this principle is the game he did it in: 4th edition D&D, a game that, love it or hate it, is all built around teamwork. This is true in most D&D games, but 4e just plain doesn’t work if people don’t work together. As Penny Arcade and Weregeek point out, D&D is surprisingly like sports; everyone has to work together to win. He didn’t play as a team, we lost as a result, and it was really, really boring and frustrating.

My stance is always that you shouldn’t have fun at the expense of the group. This one guy decided to have fun, and as a result, 5 people were bored and frustrated. This leaves me conflicted: Would it have been OK to betray the group if they’d treated me badly? I think it may have been, if the adventure had been set up better. If I’d had the oppertinity to betray them in the final fight, and had motivation to do so (they’d treated me badly) I think it would have been a cool story we could have all enjoyed. Also, I get to keep playing, instead of having to sit out the rolelpaying between fights and the final battle with the dragon. As it was, they’d treated me well, so me betraying them, killing one PC and then running away in the middle of the adventure, leaving them to die against the dragon would have been really boring, as we saw.

So yeah, long story short: Think about others when you decide your characters actions. Is what you are about to do going to ruin the game for everyone else? Are we going to walk away from the table thinking “What a dick!”? Or will you’re betrayal read like an epic tale, spun by bards?

Anyway, I hope I didn’t meander about this too much.
Until next time, stay geeky
–Canageek

Who are you? Part I: Classes Down Below

Continuing on with my Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling setting: Who are you?

I am not quite happy with this post, it feels bland to me, but I have spent so much time fiddling with it I just want it up so I can move on.

The first group of players would all be human obviously, however as the players meet other groups and form alliances new race options would open up. This would be a good way to add material to the campaign without the problem of new races suddenly appearing and everyone pretending they where there all along. Lessons learned from returned scrolls or mentors met could open up new classes or feats.

So how do the different classes fit into this setting?

Barbarians: I can’t see the military using berserkers, however allies made in the dungeons would fit into this very well. So to access the class the players have to ally with a barbarian tribe.

Bard: Again, I can’t see the military sending in these right off, however music has been used to inspire soldiers since the time of the ancient Greeks, so I could see them jumping on this once introduced to it. Again, something that the players will have to ‘unlock’. Now once they are introduced I could see some cool modern takes on them with military pipers and such. Heck, how awesome would it be for a bard to be screaming out AC/DC to inspire the troops?

A  cleric hauling a wounded solider off the battlefield, his reflection  showing wings

I see a cleric

Clerics: While the obvious route would be to make them the military Chaplains that brings real world religion into it,and what to do about different religions, and does a Baptist get different domains then a Catholic, and what about Islam, Judaism and the thousand other religions?
I remembered this poster  that just screams cleric to me. So I talked to a former US military cleric & gamer and he supported the idea  He is giving them the full PHB style write-up so I’m not going into it heavily here.
Essentially when a medic truly believes he or she is doing the right thing they can tape into the odd reality of The Below and gains the powers of the cleric.

Druid: I could see Druids, Bards and Barbarians coming from the same tribe. For the modern take I see hippies or environmentalists along those lines.

Fighter are the easiest. These are soldiers plain and simple. They use weapons to hurt things. If there are guns then they may use them or melee weapons. Which actually makes sense in twisting passages from what I have heard -Especially some of the really tight corridors popular in older dungeons, though probably less so in the wider corridors of 3rd edition and the massive rooms of 4th. Now I’m not a military or gun enthusiast so if someone wants to provide me with some information on this I’d be grateful. I’ve heard from some people that guns are better in pretty much all situations if properly used, citing SWAT as an example, whereas I’ve heard from others the opposite: I think it is a half-decent explanation, especially when you consider that we’ve established that firearms are less powerful Down Below.
Now in 4e fighters have a specific role as melee characters that tie up opponents and protect them from getting to the squishies. This works very well with the idea that the soldiers are guarding scientists.

Monks: I don’t like Monks, and I have no idea why someone would pick martial arts over weapons when fighting a dragon.

Paladin: When a solider truly believes they are doing the right thing to save the world by going Down Below they gain the powers of the Paladin.

Ranger: Doesn’t this just scream Special Forces? I remember reading about those military guys who train to live off the wild, track anything, etc.
In 4e Rangers gain the ability to do ridiculous amounts of damage with a bow. This could be very easily substituted for a firearm since 4e weapons don’t pay attention to realistic amounts of damage anyway.

Rogue: This brings to mind groups like the SAS who focus on stealth and infiltration. Pretty easy to add in.

Sorcerers on the other hand don’t need these items, they just have learned how to reach out and grasp the energies.

Wizards: I see these as scientists who have learned to manipulate the energies of The Below through the use of various instruments and technology. Instead of silly material components they use various machines & instruments.

Warlords: This is your stereotypical warmovie ‘Sarge’ leading the troops by example, inspiring them to greater effort.

Warlocks: Down below is hard to survive, and some are willing to risk there souls to survive it. Sometimes you meet powerful creatures, or find old books, and the temptation of gaining more powerful abilities that will help you and your friends survive can be to great to resist. Once the rituals are learned they are passed from solider to solider. This development greatly worries command however Warlocks are currently considered too useful to lock up.

The Wyzard’s XCrawl posts: The Players [Part B]

I’d like to thank The Wyzard for allowing me to post all of this, its gotten me back into the habit of writing here again. I’ve marked my comments in blue as always. So without further ado, The Wyzard’s posts on XCrawl. Oh and the creator of XCrawl has posted a comment back on the first post in this series if you want to check it out. This is taken from the Wyzard’s RPG.net thread if you’ve just joined us.

3. The Empire: The NAE created XCrawl under a national charter for one purpose: To keep the populace entertained and distracted. It does that very, very well. It has also turned out to have a variety of other economic (and quasi-military) functions, and it has been turned to the end of social control in a number of other arenas. Potential dissidents, both citizens and inhabitants of NAE-controlled areas of the underdark, are channeled into XCrawl. There, they can safely be turned into being more supportive of the establishment by buying into it, or maybe you get lucky and they die. Hey, accidents happen. The official rules of XCrawl are set up by a Senate subcommittee, although the Emperor himself is occasionally involved. His consultations are taken, of course, very seriously. They also take testimony and suggestions from Referees, DJs, and the occasional Adventurer, if it’s deemed appropriate. Or if they just want a chance to invite him to their kid’s birthday party. He *idolizes* them, you see, and it’d mean a lot to the family…

The gist of this is: There are people in the political sphere who want to keep their finger buried deep in the pie. They don’t do this for fun, they do this because they have an agenda. If a politician has expended resources in making a team or a DJ into his highly-placed pawn, you can hurt him by cutting that finger off.

The only problem I see with this is that I’m my experience players that love long dungeon crawls will be bored with Machevialian politics and vis versa. That was one of my big complaints about the xcrawl books actually, too much time on the world not enough on xcrawl itself. I’d be more interested in the local politics of the arena and the bookies and whatnot myself, but could see this working. I do want some non-combat stuff to break up the crawls as I get bored after 40 min or so of combat or a couple hours without roleplay. I want to do some long crawls like XCrawl but am still looking for a way to do so. I will keep your ideas in mind if I ever actually run this.


4. The Refs
: The Refs are, undoubtedly, the cleanest part of the whole XCrawl machine. They must avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. They make sure that the rules are enforced. However, XCrawl being a game of high complexity and constant innovation, they also have many discretionary powers. They make sure that a dungeon and the tactics used in it are “fair,” and appropriate to the level at which the competition is rated for (Sure, “level” as in the 1-30 number the PCs are at isn’t an in-game concept, but there are relative levels of badassery, and we assume that there are people in the game-world whose business it is to judge those and make decisions based on them.) They can declare Adventurers or the DJ to be out of line, they can assess penalties, etc. They are almost always Lawful personalities, and their organization is rigorously self-policing.

However, they are allowed to play favorites, just a little bit. That’s what discretion means, after all. If a monster gets loose and the PCs risk injury or loss of points to save audience members, guess what? Refs remember that. What goes around comes around. Does a DJ pull a fast one and use a last-minute switchup designed to screw the party? Sometimes that’s fair, sometimes it’s bad for the game. The Ref may not do anything about it, but then again maybe they mark it down in the ledger for later. Oh yeah, and the Refs talk to each other. It is possible for an Adventurer, a party, or a DJ to get on the bad side of the Refs as a whole, and then hoo-boy look out. Referees answer to the organization as a whole. And they watch the games. If there is too much blatant favoritism, they’ll teleport a guy out there and jerk the acting referee during a commercial break. It happens every now and again. Or maybe it doesn’t. Your call.

So we are talking Hockey refs here, not football (By which I mean Soccer). That might be an interesting variant where the DJs are not unbiased and the rules are very fast & loose. No, I’m not referencing that Irish/French game at ALLLLL…. (actually I don’t follow soccer but it made the news and came to mind reading this). Carrying on with this idea it would be an interesting change if there were very few rules in XCrawl but a lot of traditions. For example in soccer there is no rule that play stops when someone is injured but it is tradition to kick the ball out of bounds. A player or DJ could get a nasty reputation for breaking these traditions just a little. A rift forms in the fans who love the blood this creates and the traditionalists who long for the old clean days.

5. The Sponsors: XCrawl is money. Big money. The pay-per-view guys make a fortune, the networks make a fortune, the merchandisers make a fortune, the cities that host the crawls make a fortune, the monster-wranglers and summoners and so forth make fortunes, even the guys that design traps and summon the cameras can make tidy sums. The people who are just in it for the money come under the wide umbrella of sponsors. Sure, NBC and Budweiser don’t exactly have the same interests, but they’re in the same bed together enough that I’m going to put them all here. What you need to know is this:

Cities like to have either their own pro team, have arenas that host XCrawl events, or preferably several of the former and at least one of the latter. NYC has an official XCrawl team for each one of the Five Boroughs, and a dozen more that just happen to be from/based in the area. They compete for this, and they can generally provide you with lots of lovely little amenities, like tax breaks and speaking engagements and God knows what. (This umbrella-group can include the Mayor, city councilpeople, aldermen, major organized crime figures, philanthropists, really rich people who just love the city, and any other local figures you can imagine. They can offer some pretty nice inducements.)

I found this one of the least realistic parts of XCrawl: Not enough corporate involvement. Crawls wouldn’t be named after cities anymore then sports arenas are. Look at the names: The Air Canada Center, The Rodgers Center (nee Skydome), I think there is one named after Bell now….

You’d have the Labatte Blue crawl, the Ford crawl, the Air Canada skycrawl (everything takes place on a giant cargo jet), the FedEx Crawl (Revolves around safely moving a package from point A to B…..by 8am the next morning with no damage), and so on.

The Temples like to have their God represented. Maybe prominently. But only by winners. They tend to encourage their young, attractive, martially-inclined clerics to join XCrawl teams and represent. They really like it if they can get XCrawlers to be seen in their temples, wear their holy symbols, and talk to kids about how they must venerate the gods to lead a virtuous life.

Broadcasters, whether major networks or Pay-Per-View, want to have a really badass Crawl, so that lots of people will watch it and they can charge enormous fees from advertisers. There is frequently some consternation on their part when the people who would like to buy advertising time become upset that the teams are sponsored by (and wearing the logos of) their competitors.

Direct Sponsors pay you to drink their sports drink during short rests, or wear their shoes, or put their logo on your armor, or whatever. DJs and Broadcasters consider them a pain in the ass, but haven’t so far been able to do much about it, since they don’t have the right to control the Adventurers that much. They lobby, though.

Yeah, have a look at TV: How much do you think Coke pays American Idol to have the judges drinking coke every episode? I respected Mythbusters for a long time in that they covered the labels on every product they used but even they are now shelling for some car company. Think about the opportunities in XCrawl. All the furniture in the break rooms is from either Ikea or Idomo.
Next Post: Factions!

To date this is the last post he has written which means that I have to start writing my own posts again. I googled around and bumped into this review which is a nice summery of the good bits, however I find it is not critical enough of the poorer bits (The number of pages spent on background to the world & the lack of examples of the crawl).  Oh, I may do a review myself as I saw the total line of XCrawl books on Pazio for huge discounts and bought the whole line. However I will not be getting it till Feb due to having to ship it to a friends due to the fact I’m moving & don’t want it going to the wrong place. Anyway, I’d like to here other peoples opinions & ideas, either here or in the original thread.

His post giving permission:

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The Wyzard's Avatar The Wyzard
Re: Do you mind if I mirror your posts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canageek
I’ve been doing a blog series on televised dungeon crawling: It’s not XCrawl, but its in the same genre. I’m going to link to your posts at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=9795841 but was wondering if I could mirror them? RPG.NET has been known to lose threads from time to time and if I run a game I’d definitely be referencing your posts when explaining the world to people. I’m NOT a high traffic blog, its just a personal indulgence of mine, but I’d be willing to link to any blog or website you have in exchange for the privilege
I’d like credit and a link back to the thread in any post mirroring it, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned you can go to town.
I’d also like a link to your blog, in case there’s any interesting discussion. Get some interest, and I might even go back to working on the idea in-thread.

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The Wyzard’s XCrawl posts: The Players [Part A]

Ok, time for the 3rd post in my series of posts where I get The Wyzard to do all the work and just add commentary. This is the start of his final post in the original thread, however due to the length of it with my comments (Over 6 pages) I have split it into several parts. If you think this is too long (or that I should have left it as one post) let me know.

Re: It’s time for the big XCrawl/4E conversion thread

Okay, I’m going to vastly expand on my ideas in the above post, because it doesn’t really seem to follow from anything, and I need to fix that. XCrawl is a funny beast. It’s both a cultural phenomenon and also a massively useful political tool, and also a source of people who are extremely dangerous on a personal level. There are guys in XCrawl who can through personal force of arms take down dozens of normal soldiers. A party of them could spearhead a small military coup.

So, a lot of people are interested in it, and a lot of people want to have influence over it. For that reason, I’m going to go into a typology of the players in the XCrawl world, which hopefully will be inspirational to you.

XCrawl: The Players

1. Adventuring Teams: Also known as parties, or athletes. These are the PCs. Each team has a name, must be registered, may have an agent or a publicist, etc. They may have endorsement deals or sponsors, they may parley their success into non-XCrawl jobs such as shilling cream cheese and canned soup, or more…exciting work. Low-level XCrawlers will probably have to have real jobs, and for them XCrawl is mostly just a ridiculously dangerous hobby. High-level teams May well make enough money from their winnings and endorsements that they can just train or do whatever in the off-season. XCrawl adventuring teams can often end up with personal animosity (rather than merely professional opposition) toward the DJs.

I’d also be interested in seeing adventurers getting involved with politics like Ken Dryden that ran for the liberal party leadership. Xcrawlers are also probably like movie starts are look at all the stuff they get mixed up in. Tom Cruise? Arnold Schwarzenegger aka The Govonator? That NRA guy? Charlton Heston? Chuck Norris using Chuck Norris Facts to help a friend’s political campaign?

2. The DJs: These are the opposite sides of the coin from the Adventurers. To become a DJ requires a lot of things. You have to have both a carefully crafted public persona to display to the fans and media types. You have to be quick-witted and able to improvise on the fly. You have to have an artistic directorial sense, to make sure your crawls are something people want to see. You have to be a broadly capable administrator, able to handle everything from monsters going rogue and eating the audience, to making sure monsters don’t go rogue, to dealing with unions and teamsters and logistics and the financial end of running a crawl.

DJs have to be able to design a satisfyingly watchable and appropriately dangerous dungeon that will pass Referee inspection, get prize support and sponsorships, get a “slot” for it to fit into, cut deals with broadcasters and/or pay-per-view, stock the dungeon with monsters and traps (which is infinitely more complex than it sounds, with ritualists, wranglers, and others required), and…the list just keeps on going. Oh yeah, and you have to build a personal rapport with a fanbase, so that the networks and sponsors consider you to be a draw.

And then the Adventurers come in and wreck your shit, and you have to pay them for the privilege of killing off your expensive monsters and blowing your traps to smithereens (There was a way to disarm that! All they had to do was go up and solve the little puzzle and it would have stopped shooting at them! Now you have to buy another one, and it was expensive!) Fortunately, you are allowed to (try to) kill them. To some extent, it’s even good for your rep.

Man, I would have rather had more pages of stuff like this then all that background on the world before the historical collapse of everything. Again DJs are one of the best ideas in XCrawl and they are rather original and distinctive, so I didn’t feel comfortable stealing them for my setting. Make sure to play these guys up. Each one should have a distinctive style and personality. I don’t mean dramatic themes all undead, all the time for DJ Necropolis (though that is an option) but things like one DJ doing historical themes (The tower of London, The pyramids, the French Resistance during WWII), another likeing placing his crawls on converted ships. You can vary things up stylistically: One DJ might like a crude feel for his crawls, all cinderblock, sheet metal and plywood. Like a paintball arena but more solidly built. Another would make his dungeons with as little modern technology as possible so that it exactly resembles something out of D&D. This is one of the aspects I’d like about XCrawl is you can have each dungeon totally different without any justification needed. No I don’t like that just because I can steal maps & dungeons from lots of different games…though it is an upside. I should write up my Televised Dungeon Crawling setting for SF so I can have space stations, underwater complexes, Warhammer 40K style hulks on which the XCrawlers are dropped on one part and must simply survive and get to the ship waiting to pick them up. The sky is the limit: Push it.

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The Wyzard's Avatar The Wyzard
Re: Do you mind if I mirror your posts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canageek
I’ve been doing a blog series on televised dungeon crawling: It’s not XCrawl, but its in the same genre. I’m going to link to your posts at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=9795841 but was wondering if I could mirror them? RPG.NET has been known to lose threads from time to time and if I run a game I’d definitely be referencing your posts when explaining the world to people. I’m NOT a high traffic blog, its just a personal indulgence of mine, but I’d be willing to link to any blog or website you have in exchange for the privilege
I’d like credit and a link back to the thread in any post mirroring it, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned you can go to town.
I’d also like a link to your blog, in case there’s any interesting discussion. Get some interest, and I might even go back to working on the idea in-thread.

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Sorry it took so long to get this up, I was bogged down in exams. The next part shouldn’t take QUITE so long.

Anyway until next time: Stay Geeky!

XCrawl Mirror Part 2: Meta-dungeon

Ok, time for the next post by The Wyzard from RPG.Net.

Re: It’s time for the big XCrawl/4E conversion thread


So, I’ve been thinking further about this. And I think that what XCrawl really needs is more meta-dungeon stuff. So, here’s my thoughts.

The really big thing underpinning the XCrawl world is the rivalry not just between Crawl teams, but between the DJs. Each DJ is as a world unto themselves. Even a moderate crawl requires a massive amount of resources and at least a hundred staff, many of them highly-paid specialists. And the DJ runs all of it. These are proud beings who wield immense power. Not just financial power, either.

This is one of XCrawls best ideas, and one of the ones I underplayed in my posts as it was original to XCrawl. Kinda a defining feature that I didn’t real comfortable stealing. –Canageek

Just as an outbreak of monsters from the underdark might give the PCs a chance to show off their skills and do good deeds outside of a crawl, there are a lot of times when the DJs skills and resources might make them valuable to temples, politicians, or even less savory types. Just like the PCs.

Not my cup of tea as your still dungeon crawling for the first part and I want to break that up. Second part has potential.

What I’m getting at here is, I think that a real campaign of XCrawl might be improved by focusing occasionally on those behind-the scenes elements. There are factions and political maneuverings that go off-camera. What do you do when an up-and-coming DJ upstaged you? You go golfing with a couple of adventuring teams you know from back in the day, and you bribe them to go screw him up.

Oh, I like where this is going.

See, monsters are valuable. Sure, there’s a lot of trash out there. Orcs and goblisn are a dime a dozen, they’ll work cheap. But a beholder, or even a very young dragon? Those are worth a small fortune. It’s vital to the health of a DJ’s operation that the higher-value creatures are still around for the next crawl, because nobody has the resources to constantly replace them all. This is where the PCs come in. Make sure you don’t just knock the bad guys down. Do what you can to accumulate a pack of actual kills. We can make it worth your while. Even killing off the trash monsters like gnolls or orcs is worth something, if enough of them get killed in this DJ’s crawl, he’ll have trouble hiring replacements. Word will get around that there’s a hit out on his operation.

Now, thanks to the Refs (who are incorruptible, of course), you still have to play by the rules. You can’t just take your axe to the bad guys once they’re all down. You have to respect it if they surrender. But there are ways around that. Catch them in an area effect that targets one of the ones still on his feet. Knock them into a trap when they’re low on HP, let it grind them out while you move on. Set them up with continuing-damage effects. There’s plenty of options. Sleep spells are your friend here, as the PCs can’t be expected to tell the difference between “asleep” and “dying” in the heat of the moment, can they? There isn’t a sign that lights up when the monsters run out of HP, after all.

Interesting idea, if rather specific. Also it still leaves the PCs in the dungeon killing stuff. I like the idea as part of a larger plot though.

In order to make this plausible, here’s the new workings you have to add:

1. Monsters die at a given negative HP total, just like PCs. However, since monsters often have slightly better HP than PCs do, I’d make it a number other than -50%. Maybe -25%. This makes Goblins and so forth relatively easy to slaughter even by accident, Dragons are tough to kill even on purpose. However! There’s also the death save. Monsters aren’t heroic, so they don’t instant-up on a 20. However, they do automatically stabilize on a 20, unless they take damage again in which case they start rolling death saves once more (they keep any tokens. Continuing damage is your friend.)

Akkk, extra number tracking! EVIL! (Say sayeth the DM)

2. Once all the monsters are confirmed to be down, a ref calls it and the PCs can collect their treasure while non-com healers come out and stabilize the monsters, then get them drug out through no-go doors.

3. If a monster pops back up and attacks after the combat is confirmed to be over, or if they break surrender, the PCs can kill that monster outright.

2 and 3 make sense to me, I think I will use them.

4. If one monster has healed another monster, they can open up with coup-de-grace attacks so long as the healing monster is up. Um…..I think I’ll have this as an obscure XCrawl rule that someone can break out at some point. Might type up a long list and see if anyone notices it.

So, XCrawl adventurers and DJs have a lot of ways they can subtly work together, or against each other. Sophisticated fans know what to watch for.

Any other suggestions?

__________________

I think the good idea from this post is how it changes things up. Constant combat gets boring fast. Well I suppose there are groups which just like killing things, but I want some roleplay. I’m a fan of mixing things up. Players getting involved with their agents, bookies, people trying to fix matches, rival groups, etc. Imagine an XCrawler that gets involved in the nonhuman rights movement and has some political opponents trying to bump him off during matches. You could roleplay out his rallies and whatnot. Anyway, that is what I am looking for, things to change up XCrawl/Televised Dungeon Crawling from kick in the door, kill the monster, take its stuff.
Not as much to say this time as this is a specific example. Look forward to the next post however, its a juicy one!

Until Next Time, Stay Geeky!

PS his letter of permission:

The Wyzard's Avatar The Wyzard
Re: Do you mind if I mirror your posts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canageek
I’ve been doing a blog series on televised dungeon crawling: It’s not XCrawl, but its in the same genre. I’m going to link to your posts at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=9795841 but was wondering if I could mirror them? RPG.NET has been known to lose threads from time to time and if I run a game I’d definitely be referencing your posts when explaining the world to people. I’m NOT a high traffic blog, its just a personal indulgence of mine, but I’d be willing to link to any blog or website you have in exchange for the privilege
I’d like credit and a link back to the thread in any post mirroring it, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned you can go to town.
I’d also like a link to your blog, in case there’s any interesting discussion. Get some interest, and I might even go back to working on the idea in-thread.

It’s time for the big XCrawl/4E conversion thread [Mirror]

A while ago I stumbled upon these posts by The Wyzard on RPG.net: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=9795841 I contacted him (or her) and they gave me permission to repost them here as a sequel to my Televised Dungeon Crawling posts. My ideas are not XCrawl as I wasn’t a fan of the setting, but a lot of XCrawl material could be used for it, so I thought you’d enjoy it. My comments are in blue. This is just the first post in the thread, I’ll post the rest here. Forums have a habit of loosing posts, and I thought you’d enjoy these. If you think this is a cheap post for me and I should never do it again then let me know! If you love me finding interesting things and reposting them here (with permission of course) also let me know.

Here is the first one:

It’s time for the big XCrawl/4E conversion thread by The Wyzard

XCrawl is a better fit for 4E than it was for the edition it was originally set up for. Seriously. The profusion of tactical movement powers create a more dynamic, athletic-feeling battleboard. The conditions that last for seconds instead of minutes also help with this. The new philosophy of traps contributes to faster-playing, more entertaining encounters (a room with bladed tops spinning around and caroming off the walls is, let’s face it, far more appropriate to “demented game show” than fantasy novel stuff.) The fact that encounters are balanced towards multiple opponents with individual powers who use teamwork to stymie the PCs is perfect. The fast healing rate also helps keep things moving, making things “feel” more like an athletic event or pro wrestling match than medieval combat. Anyone else can probably come up with even more reasons why this is so. The “treasure parcels” in the DMG are nearly perfectly suited for being handed out as individual-room “prize packages.”

So, how do you run it in 4E? I’m not too much of a fan of super-detailed settings. I think that you can generally get rolling with, at most, two or three pages of setting handout for each player. For that reason, I’m going to leave that part in broad strokes. If anyone else wants to fill in, then that’s awesome. But I’m not going to stress out about how the inclusion of Tieflings changes the game setting.

I’d say the biggest problem with the original XCrawl books was too much on the setting, not enough on the crawl, but that is just my opinion.

Here’s what I’ve got:

Skills:
The PCs are generally talented losers in real life. That is, no matter how awesome they may objectively be, they just don’t seem to have the lucky breaks and ability to get ahead in the office that other people have. Otherwise, why would they do XCrawl? For that reason, the skills given on the character sheet are “adventuring skills.” They generally don’t have the application you’d think they have outside of XCrawl. A guy with History knows a lot about the history of XCrawl, and all the stories they got out of that intelligent sword, etc. A guy with Athletics does a great job if he ever has to out-swim a pack of ravenous alligators (either in or out of a Crawl) but he’s not necessarily the best in the office baseball team. Essentially, the PCs default to their base attribute bonus + 1/2 level if it doesn’t seem adventure-ey enough.

--I’m not sure I agree with The Wyzard here. I can see a number of people with no other options getting sucked into XCrawl (or the dungeons in my setting). Think of a suicidal white collar embezzler who knows he will never work again when he gets out and whats to leave his family something. A street thug who’s gang is destroyed by a rival and joins XCrawl rather then be hunted down by his rivals. If you use the darker version of my setting then anyone who speaks out against the government. An autoworker’s factory just closed and his family is living off welfare so he joins XCrawl for a paycheck. There are lots of reasons, and I see this as an interesting part of the character –Canageek

New Skill Uses:
1. History: Now, incredibly useful. This includes knowledge of the massively complex official rules and regulations of XCrawl. Can be used to argue technicalities, and get referees to rule for you and against the DJ. All DJs have this skill, or have advisors who have it. I’m not going to actually draw up such a codex, just run it Burning-Wheel style. The player says “But section 805(b)(1)(a) specifically prohibits installing traps outside the green room door while the PCs are in it!”
2. Dungeoneering: This skill covers knowledge of XCrawl DJs. Their habits, personalities, techniques, reputations, ons and offs. In combination with History, social skills, and and clever use of skill challenges, can provide plot-bennies.

–Ok, I love these. I’d add Streetwise for learning what the buzz about this dunegon is. I mean, think about places like Metafilter. I mean, look at this thread. Guys like this are going to track DJs every move looking for info. Did the DJ order 400lb of bamboo? They know that, and can hint he might have a dire panda. He took out a book on the care and feeding of chimara? What about the guy who cleans the cages? Streetwise will get you some hints.

Working the Crowd:

Each PC can only make use of the work-the-crowd rules once per crawl. They have three options.

1. Pre-Crawl Interviews: Make a hard Diplomacy check, and talk up one of your team members or yourself. Roleplay this out. You may include montage sequences in your description. On a success, you gain a token keyed to either yourself or the PC you talked up, as appropriate. During the game, you can spend that at any time the PC chosen has to make a D20 check, to have the crowd remember the interview. They suddenly cheer that PC on, and the PC gets a bonus. It’s +2 if it’s your character, +4 if it’s someone else’s. This must be announced before the roll.

2. Mugging for the Camera: Spend a free action to make a hard Bluff check. If successful, you get a +2 bonus to any D20 roll of your choice before the end of your next turn. Alternately, use a free action to make a hard Bluff check to call attention to one of your teammate’s efforts – they get a +4 to a roll of your choice before the end of their next turn. This must be used before the roll.

The DJs work a little differently. They get 4 bennie tokens to spend during the crawl. They use these by using lighting and stored footage to get the crowd cheering for the monsters (not that hard, since the crowd will be full of people who are backing teams other than the PC’s.) They can spend a Bennie at any time to give one of the monsters a +2 to any D20 roll. They must announce this before the roll.

This leads into use number 3:

3. Psyche-Out: A PC can make a hard Intimidate check when the DJ has announced the use of a Bennie token. If the PC fails, the token is used normally. If the PC succeeds, the monster gets a -2 rather than a +2, as the PC snarls and the monster chokes under the pressure.

Crawl Design:
I suggest using the following as a basis. A Crawl consists of three Delves – each Delve must be completed within a day. Delve 1 has about three level-appropriate-encounters, Day 2 has the same, Day 3 has about 4. Appropriately designed, this means the PCs will gain a level per crawl (So, one per game-year unless they get in more than one.) Obviously, some variation on this is normal. Mostly, it makes it really easy to split up the treasure parcels. The best treasure is on Day 3, so that it only goes to parties who don’t wash out. PCs can get in a short rest once per encounter room, if they want to rest longer they need to find a green room (This shouldn’t be necessary, if they’re sharp enough, since they can always get rested between delves.)

The GM can also, of course, come up with various non-standard tournament forms, such as linear dungeons that are pure time-trial, etc.

I’d mix this up a lot as I feel this would get boring. Just grab maps from D&D mods, Shadowrun, even starship deck plans and use that. There was a battle in roman times where they flooded the arena and staged a naval battle. Now think of doing that in roman times and extrapolate with additional technology. A pure time trial set in a mall filled with zombies? A McGuffin retrieval on a decommissioned warship….as it sinks? Go for it. Pure combat games get old quickly unless you keep things diverse.

Suggestions? I’m really not sure how one should do scoring. Knowing that there are other parties going through the crawl as well, what’s a good way of judging the PC’s performance? I’ve considered a combination of bonuses for goals and penalties for extra time, but I’m not completely certain how that should work, or even if it’s worth the effort.

And the message giving me permission:

The Wyzard
Post Re: Do you mind if I mirror your posts?
Quote: Originally Posted by Canageek
I’ve been doing a blog series on televised dungeon crawling: It’s not XCrawl, but its in the same genre. I’m going to link to your posts at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=9795841 but was wondering if I could mirror them? RPG.NET has been known to lose threads from time to time and if I run a game I’d definitely be referencing your posts when explaining the world to people. I’m NOT a high traffic blog, its just a personal indulgence of mine, but I’d be willing to link to any blog or website you have in exchange for the privilege.
I’d like credit and a link back to the thread in any post mirroring it, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned you can go to town.
I’d also like a link to your blog, in case there’s any interesting discussion. Get some interest, and I might even go back to working on the idea in-thread.

Until next time, Stay Geeky.

—Canageek

Televised Dungeon Crawling: Excess and Advertisements

Last time I discussed a very dark version of televised dungeon crawling. This time I’m going to discuss the opposite. I got a lot of comments last time talking about how my setting reminded them of certain works by Stephen King. This interpretation is more…Stephen Colbert. If the last game was Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or Dark Heresy this game will be Paranoia. Paranoia is actually one of the main inspirations of this setting. Its funny as heck, but it’ a dark funny. Your still going into a artificial dungeon to appease a bloodthirsty audience, just now your doing it with a giant Nike logo on your butt and witty commentary in the background. If you think of a spectrum this is at the lightest end, with my last post at the darkest end and XCrawl sitting confusedly in the middle trying to be both at once. Now the one problem I’m having while writing this is: I don’t watch sports unless the Olympics are on or the Leafs are playing for the cup (So, unless the Olympics are on). I also don’t watch reality TV or professional wrestling which are the other sources of this post. Therefore I may be misinterpreting things I see or emphasizing the wrong things. I strongly invite you to comment on this and give me your opinion.

You are professional gladiators, risking it all for the roar of the crowd, the thrill of the fight of the clink of the coinpurse. Highly trained professionals you are almost as concerned with how they look delving as surviving. Almost. Because everyone knows the real money isn’t in delving; it’ in the endorsements popular Delvers get and the most popular delver isn’ the best delver: It’ the one who knows how to work the audience.

To get the attention of the audience (and the sponsors) armour is heavily stylized: Modern material and alloys let you make just about anything into a practical suit of armour, so warriors wear suits ranging from knock offs of Sauron’s armour in the Lord of the Rings movies to ultramodern ballistic fibers and plastics such as SWAT style armours. Weapons are also often stylized and always named (It increases the amount you can market things such as versions and action figures). Rouges leather armour is always form fitting, with sculpted torsos tight bottoms. While I normally strongly disapprove of cleavage windows if there is a setting where they fit this is it. Armour shaped like bondage gear or something out of Mad Max is also popular. Wizards and others who go unarmoured (of both genders) on the other hand have been known to wear rather smallish amounts of clothing in pursuit of higher ratings. For example a male wizard may go around in tight leather pants…and nothing else. Other costumes I could see happening in a delve: Gothic armour (as in based off modern ‘goth’ clothing with makeup, studs and such), armour based off Boris Vallajo paintings, anime or the famous Chainmail bikini. Exotic weapons are common. If your game does not have stats for a cool weapon I encourage DMs to use the functionally equivalent rule. A cat-of-nine-tails is functionally equivalent to a whip. A flamburge is functionally equivalent to a greatsword. I’d be very tempted to allow modern weapons into a delve in a light hearted game using functionally equivalents: A chainsaw is functionally equivalent to a greataxe, a revolver is functionally equivalent to a longbow. This nicely solves gunporn: SURE you can have a <gobblygook here> it functions as a longbow. I know its better then a <gun> the system is no fine grained enough to notice however. Alternatively firearms could be banned so that you don’t damage the set too much, or injure the audience. Even the dungeon itself can get in on the advertising with MasterChope brand scythes in the traps and Defender brand Iron Golems.

Some delvers agree to only use a specified brand of weapon or armour and publicly endorse that brand in exchange for large sums of cash. Others sell spots on their armour or even skin, using magical tattoos to bear corporate logos. Depending on how silly you want to make this players could have a giant corporate logo on their backs or be decked out like a Formula 1 race car. XCrawl actually did a half decent job of this so if you have a copy look it up, just make sure to skip the massive amount of world information lest your brain crawl out of your head. XCrawl gives the suggestion that only treasure found within the dungeon to be used in the dungeon: Money from sponsorships can be used to buy large homes or cars but not spent in the dungeon. This is a crude but simple solution that lets the GM give the PCs as much money as he wants outside of the dungeon and let them run merchant empires or squander it as they wish without unbalancing the game. Another idea is players are only allowed to bring X amount of money into a delve. The downside is players must track the value of each item and do a bunch of math: Anyone who played Living Greyhawk in year two knows this is a bloody pain in the arse. If your playing D&D4e then you could limit the players to brining in X items of each level. For example one item for each character level they have or such. XCrawl’s system is indeed the simplest however it can lead to imbalance if you then take the PCs out of the delve. On the other hand, I get the feeling this would probably be a short game where treasure balance won’t be that important. Also outside of the delves is where your roleplaying is going to happen. There should be enough combat inside the delves to keep even the most blood thirsty players sated, so if you do want to turn this into a serious game outside the ring should be all roleplay. This will be the topic of the next post in the series. I generally don’t like the idea of players purchasing magic items, but it does fit a bit better in this setting then most.

XCrawl gives the idea of Dungeon Jockeys (DJs) running each dungeon, each having a theme or style and silly name, an idea I think is highly appropriate for this setting. For example DJ Crush is a ogre who values brute force in his crawls and as such uses other Ogres, Minotaurs and Giants heavily, backed by goblins, orcs and bugbears. DJ Death is the oldest DJ in the league, being a lich. He sends (surprise) undead at the PCs and once a year faces them himself of course returning to his phylactery (and a new body) when slain. DJ Sweet And Sour likes sending unusual mixed teams of monsters at the PCs. Now I like DJs picking their names based on their theme but this doesn’t have to be the case. For example DJ Yo-Yo, DJ Butcher, DJ Cool or DJ Shinedown.

Treasure is more then just gold and weapons in this game. Cars, magazine subscriptions, furniture. Watch a random game show and sprinkle everything it gives out throughout the dungeon (Of course, as it would be bad press for the PCs to be seen selling such things the standard contract specifies they can’t reject or sell any prize). Dungeons could include showrooms that show off the prizes players will get, for example a car on a rotating pedestal with spotlights on it or a room set up like Ikea to show off a living room set the players will win. Magic prizes should be named and interesting. Never give out a +2 short sword. Give ‘Nightwish’ a short sword that despite its mirror finish reflects nothing.

Unlike in the darker version monsters should dominate. Traps should certainly be a part of it, but nothing makes a crowd roar like seeing a giant stomp onto the field or watching a gladiator dragged down by a horde of goblins. Your standard ‘you take 4 damage’ is not going to do it in this setting: massive spell effects, huge mechanical levers dropping PCs into pits of spikes…that is also filled with angry rattlesnakes. Blood and gore makes the crowd roar. However the gladiators should always have a chance: They are not mooks to die, they are athletes who should have a fighting chance. Monsters should be as fantastic as possible. Try using the video game concept of boss fights: its used because it is highly dramatic. You should also do a video game style introductions for the monster, complete with a title and cutscene. Camera men should visibly follow the PCs around, perhaps occasionally getting the axe from an overzealous monster. While I don’t use theme music in my games many DMs do: if so you can justify it by having that music being piped through the dungeon or playing in the background on the televised feed.

Players should be encouraged to develop catch lines and special moves for their gladiator. Each player should be have a chance to give and introductory sequence at the start of each delve. While players should be allowed to work skills like intimidate & bluff into their routine the player should have to role-play this out. Additionally you should have periodic press conferences and both group and solo interviews. If you think your group is mature enough I recommend secret ballot voting on MVP awards, though this only works if all players are roughly equal power wise (Roughly the same level in D&D terms).

I think D&D4e would be ideal for this type of game, lots of flashy powers and items, powerful characters and monsters and loads of magic. 3.X would not be a bad choice if you crank the magic to 11. I don’t play many other fantasy games, but I think Alternity or GURPs might work. I think this would work for a short term game, or with a light hearted buch of hack & slashers. If you want a longterm game I’d want more roleplaying which is what I’ll talk about next time. If you think I missed something or have any questions please drop me a line in the comments below!

Until next time Stay Geeky!
–Canageek

Edit: I’m very sorry, but I somehow missed spelling checking and a bunch of paragraph breaks disappeared, so a bunch of people saw what was essentially an unfinished blog entry. I’m very sorry about this and hope I didn’t send to many people away in disgust, especially after @geekgirls was kind enough to tweet she was reading it. Well, I think I got them all, but I did edit it in a rush, so please point out any errors you see. *sigh* I’m very embarrassed about this. Anyway, Good night all, and Stay Geeky. –Canageek

Televised Dungeon Crawling: The Introduction

I’ve been batting around this idea for a campaign for a while now, but due to lack of players and time, I don’t think its going to happen in the near future. As such, I’m going to write it up here and get some feedback and whatnot. I have stolen from a number of sources, most obviously a rather bad book by the name of: XCrawl: Adventures in the Extreme Dungeon Crawl League, followed by the gladiatorial games of the Roman Empire and some Dragon magazine articles.

Basic concept: Brave adventures explore artificial dungeons stocked with deadly traps and monsters for the amusement of a televised audience.

Edit: It seems some people don’t get this concept: You play a character in a modern setting who goes into dungeons for money or fame or whatever and all the while your exploits are broadcast out to millions of viewers. Have you seen the trailer for Death Race (Or even the movie?) Like that but based on D&D instead of Autoduel. Your modern day Gladiators, who may or may not survive each entry into the dungeon. When you hack a troll apart millions cheer, and if the troll eats you…well, your family might get royalties when they release the DVD of your adventures.

Right, so the same concept of XCrawl, –I did say I was stealing from it. However, I’m not going to put a zillion pages of useless background into this post, as XCrawl did. I also have a couple different ideas on how to implement this idea, something XCrawl only gave a passing nod too. Honestly, I don’t think the XCrawl book is work buying as it spends most of its pages on a world setting and very few on actual rules and ideas for dungeon crawling. It does have some good ideas (A dungeon scoring system, mojo points, Dungeon Jockeys) which I’ll leave for you to uncover, but really, I think someone was being paid by the page…which is why they outlined an entire setting…then destroyed it and rebuilt it, with the original setting conveyed through a magic sword. Anyway, here is what I think you can do with the same basic idea.

These dungeons could be straight out of D&D with stone walls & torches or they could be plywood and spraypaint. They could be a converted office building that’s still furnished so you have kobolds hiding in cubical farms. The important part is you have modern day people risking their necks in a dungeon as fans watch it on pay-per-view. I’ll outline various ways of doing this in subsequent posts. I’m not sure what else to say about this without going into implementations, so I will leave this here for now.

It should be noted this is different from the as of yet unnamed ‘My Work/Nova’s World’ setting I detailed previously.

In this first post I will outline a dark form of this setting, and latter on I will write up a lighter interpretation. I’m also thinking of a version of them closer to a Gladiatorial type event. I might even backport this to a Roman fantasy style setting. Anyway, as always comments are both welcome and appreciated, and until next time Stay Geeky!

–Canageek

P.S. I just realized I forgot my tagline on my last two posts! *sigh*

Edit: Added a better description based on @ExplodingDragon’s comments on twitter.

An Introduction to My Campaign Setting

When I run games I usually use published adventures. As times go on I’m finding I’m modifying them more and more both stat wise (4e is really helping with this as encounter design is simpler)  and to involve the players. Example: I’ve rewritten large parts of H1: Keep on the Shadowfell as I run it online.

I wanted a world so characters could have constant backgrounds, but I didn’t want to deal with having to adapt adventures, have players know far more about the world then me, or have the setting book give away all the secrets creating a huge PC knowledge/Play knowledge gap. So I’ve been writing up a loose little world. Its not got much more then a couple nations and geography, but it lets me know where the swamps and jungles and such are. I don’t really have any sense of scale either. The biggest thing I’m lacking is….a name. I can’t think up a name for my setting. If anyone wants to help out with that I’d be very grateful. I labelled it Nova’s World for now after my original screen name (Novamaster, which was shortened to Nova when I felt that was pretentious.) but that feels weak.

Here is the introduction I wrote for the first post of my current game:

The empire of Nerath is falling. In the north the Empire is still strong, true, but it is embroiled with a war, with the loyal Imperial forces fighting the rebellion. Both sides have been locked in war for at least a hundred years, the stalemate doing little but draining each. At sea the island colonies lie abandoned, and to the north, past the rebel forces, the barbarian tribes once more reign supreme. The southlands lie mostly peaceful but they have not seen a tax collector or imperial patrol in generations, and even there trouble brews. The southern jungle advances more each year, long dormant evils stir in forgotten crypts and the distances between the towns grows. But all is not lost for bold hero’s such as yourselves, forged in the fires of the war to the north, or born in some other fashion, stride the land.

The empire of Nerath is falling, but civilization need not fall with it.

OOCThis is the ‘default’ background and players are encouraged to work elements of it into there histories:
Most of you are ex-soldier from the north, joined up for your four years for adventure, for the money, to take a burden off a family after a bad harvest. For the past for years the army has fed you, clothed you and housed you. Now its over. Your term expired and you choose not to reenlist for whatever reason. Aimless you have drifted southwards, longing for peace after four years of battle. However, things have not been going so well, and you find your payout money growing a little thin.

I added a bit more latter:

The known world is circular, with water filling the center and around it (Think of a crater or volcano rim, except much much more massive) The eastern 2 thirds are a series of islands and archipelegos, the wastern third a continent.

This continent is the shape of the crescent moon. The the north are the icy wasts, south of that the lands controlled by the rebellion. At the end of the rebellions terrortory lies no mans land. A long thin strip of land with swamps at the top and mouthains at the bottom, it is were Nerest and the Rebellions armies have clashed for close to 100 years. South of the lies the noble Empire of Nerest. As one travles south one finds oneself in lands that consider themselves members of the empire but have not seen a tax collector in a generation or more. (Read wheel of time? The first one? Rands hometown? Yeah, that) Finally there are the southern jungles. Filled with strange animals and beasts, and slowly expanding northwards the southern jungles are a place of mystery.

The simplest explanation for adventueres wandering the land, is as I’ve stated in the game thread, many youths go north, join the army for 4 years , fight against the undead and demons of the rebellion and then find they no longer feel at home in there home villages. However this is not the only path, as there are many ways to take up the sword or staff. From questing for lost artifacts, to wanting to see the world, many wind up on the roads.

I need to add some names for the jungles and mountain ranges and such I know, I just can’t seem to think up names I like (suggestions will be appreciated) As you probably guessed from reading that I’ve placed the locations outlined in the 4e DMG & H1 in the southlands. The map looked a lot like what I wanted the southlands too anyway so it worked.

Earlier this year I wrote out a whole bunch of stuff, including how each 4e race and class might fit into the world and a bunch of other things. Then I went and lost that notebook. So while I was at a chemistry confrence I rewrote out some things (I’m an undergrad, there were a number of time the talk went right over my head. Heck, the prof I was there with told me during a couple talks the speaker lost him) and connected them to the default 4e D&D setting so I could easily use those adventures. As a note they say copywrite me on it, that obviously does not include the Wizards IP, and I don’t mean to imply it does. I just didn’t realize that till after I scanned it and don’t want to have to use an image editor to fix it on each image. If WoTC complains I’ll fix it. Also if I compile it I’ll take all the stuff they own out and make it Creative Commons.

It uses the default gods of whatever I’m running, probably either the Greyhawk gods (Well, the 3e ones with St. Cuthbert LG as he should be) or the 4e gods. I figured instead of a whole bunch of different nations I’d have a dukedoms and baronies and such, probably because thats the impression I got reading old D&D adventures and whatnot.

Sorry the writing is so bad, I was writing on a bad surface while listening with one ear for when I could understand things again. Also I have a small writing disability, though this is the most illegible thing I’ve written in a number of years.

I also outlined things on IRL with someone I met on at  irc://irc.otherworlders.org:6667/ #enworld. (Or over HTML if you don’t have a IRC client handy) the spelling is terrible as well, I wasn’t paying any attention to it.

<gruegirl> could you give me the basics of the setting
<Canageek> Its pretty basic as it doesn’t effect the mod much
<Canageek> The known world is in a rouge hourglass/cresent moon type shape
<gruegirl> who’s in power around where we start?
<Canageek> The far south is mostly apandoned jungel, with runs and such in it from before people migrated north
<Canageek> in the mid south is farland that aside from goblis and cluts and such is mostly peaceful
<Canageek> now the  army is in the north so you don’t want to travel alone unless your reasonbly well armed and know how to use your weapons as most bandits will leave you alone then
<Canageek> caravans are the primary method of travel and communication
<gruegirl> which army?
<Canageek> The far north is an icy wastland filled with barbarian tribess –yes I know how cliche that is
<Canageek> There are two large nations: The Alliance and the Empire
<Canageek> The Alliance is a leage of Necromancers and Diabolits that rule the nroth between the Icy wasts and the Narrows  – The thin part of the hour glass
<Canageek> the Alliance nominally controls all of the souther half, but in reality they only activally control the top 1/3 or so
<Canageek> They are a mostly benelovent empre composed of variuse dutchies and fifedoms
<Canageek> the futher south you get the weaker the control gets though most of the people pay at least lip service to the monarch
<Canageek> thats about all I have as I’ve never had enough people intersted in a gamme long enough to find out the details
<gruegirl> k
<Canageek> OH, and theres some mountain ranges and things but thats not really important right now
<Canageek> I’m ravamping the setting to have some elemetns from Ebberon in it as well as some 4e stuff
<gruegirl> k
<Canageek> For now it doesn’t really matter as I’m running KotS and it all takes place in a small area
<Canageek> in the southland
<Canageek> I’m thinking the Alliance has elements of the Teifling Empre in it
<Canageek> and a number of Dragonborn famiies are promoint in the Empires ranks
<gruegirl> I’ll be a Teifling jungle girl, what roles are in the party right now?
[...]
<Canageek> Ok, you mind if i post part of the convo to give info on the world setting?
<gruegirl> no prob

So thats what I have so far. If I ever find my old notebook I’ll scan those pages, or I’ll type up more. I’ll probably write more posts on my world in future as I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head that just needs to be set down. I wanted to compile everything I had in one place as a way of starting off however. So, what does everyone think? Is it a lame mesh of cliche’s and horribly overdone tropes? Or does it look like a fun place to play?

Help Me Find A New Game

So I’m having a bit of a problem. My friend Drew does not like 4e. I no longer like 3.X. We both like Call of Cthulhu and I’m still running that game, but Evan, the other core player isn’t able to attend much for personal reasons. Therefore I’d like to have a second game on the go, so I’d like to find one we can both enjoy.

General requirements: Neither of us like overly complicated rules like GURPS or Aces and Eights. Conversely Feng Shui & Wuxia are too rules light. This would be a casual game & we’ll probably have people dropping in and out each session so the rules should be easy to pick up & characters easy (and fast) to generate. Having a sample adventure is a must, so I can see how its supposed to work.

Games I can remember playing:
-Played a game of Dark*Matter using the Alternity rules & premade characters: Liked the system, but characters seem a bit hard to roll up

-I really like the tactical nature of 4e, whereas Drew hates it. As I’ll be DMing this is a more minor point for me: I have enough to do I don’t get bored like I do when I’m playing.

-Drew really likes the abstract nature of White Wolf games, whereas I hate that. Also Drew likes the freedom & flexibility of those games whereas I want more definition in what my limits are. Now I am biased against WW games due to a VERY poorly run Vampire the Masqrade game where the storyteller had the only copy of the books and ran a number of the rules wrong. Also it turns out I was only invited as I had dice, so I couldn’t do anything, even what other characters with the same skills as I could. This has given me a preference for games with clearly defined rules where I can ‘stand up for my rights’ so to speak.

-I really like systems with premade adventures. I’ve only just started customizing a module in my online 4e game. If its a standard fantasy rpg I’m more cool with this, especially  if its got clear guides on encounter design (see why I like 4e) as I can adapt existing adventures.

-I like the ‘modern’ design 3e started: No silly restrictions (Dwarves can be wizards, no class/level limits), AC goes up, however I’ll certainly look at older games.

I looked at some Retro-clones even though I’m not a fan of oldschool D&D. What bothered me most was the ham-handed attempts to balance the races. I did like the simplicity however, so if anyone knows of a game in that style that does not have stupid racial restrictions on who can be what class, or what class can advance to what level let me know.

Now to throw another twist in it, we have another regular player, Switch, who gets distracted/bored easily. When that happens he gets silly and does a half decent impression of the looney from those old 4 types of role-players lists. However I’ve noticed he gets bored a LOT less in modern games, so that might be preferable. The downside to modern games is they usually don’t have many adventures and are harder to write adventures for. So if anyone has suggestions on this pass them along as well.

So if anyone has suggestions or questions of my needs/requirements leave a comment! One of the reasons I got this blog is so I could have longer & more detailed discussions with people. Well, I’m off. Until next time Stay Geeky!

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Update: I was rushing to get this post done as my battery died so I missed 2 important points:

-One of my other players is sick of horror, and a few others would like a change.

-The game pretty much must be free or have a fast play version of the rules available: I’m not dropping $50 on a game without trying it.

In response to the comments I’ve gotten: SF is certainly Ok, though if you could give me some sort of idea of what type of SF that would be great. Star Trek is very different then say, Keith Laumer’s Bolo or the Warhammer 40K universe.

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 11:34 am  Comments (17)  
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