Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: And Another One Down

Game Date: 2/25/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin
Teddi (Ted):  Dwarf Warlock

The Session:
I missed this session.  Here is a recap, graciously submitted by Chere:

First, we took stock after the carnival of who was dead that we knew. Derp reappeared with several children in tow, including Kreed's son, who he had kept safe during the fight with the Cold Rider.  Unfortunately, our maid, Rala, died at the carnival. We also have noticed that the brothel (thieves den) has been closed for about a week now (after the carnival closed).

A town council (consisting of the mayor, Kreed, the sheriff, the fey queen and our group) met to discuss the deforestation issues and land rights.

The nightly killings (the reason that we took Jevra out of town) is continuing. We set up nightly patrols. At first, we patrol together and attacks always happen where we aren’t patrolling. (hmmm-suspiciously like someone know where we will be). So we break up and patrol various areas alone but within communication range of one of the others. Merrick hears a noise in an alley and sees someone exit an alley. He gives chase and with the help of Teddi, they capture the killer, knocking him unconscious. Keyanna arrives on the scene as Merrick goes back to aid the victim. As Teddi and Keyanna look at the killer, it is Hollan, our stable boy! Keyanna disarms him of his razor blade gloves and other weapons and ties his hands. The sheriff is sent for. Once Hollan is in custody, we try to question him about his motives for the killing. Derp returns to the keep to search Hollan’s room. He finds a trap door under Hollan’s straw mattress. Upon opening the door, Derp discovers a gruesome collection of body parts, bones, and other shiny objects. It was discovered that Hollan has a multiple personality disorder and remembers nothing of the killings.

The victim of the last attack was a man named Heinrich who was out alone do his job, emptying chamber pots. Merrick helps the man home and meets his wife, Glenda, and nephew, Ulris. We ask the sheriff about the family. The couple lost a child at the carnival and the nephew lost his parents at the carnival. They are good, hard-working, honest people. We offer them a job to be caretakers of our keep. Heinrick will be the caretaker and work on repairs, while Glenda will cook and clean. Ulris will take care of the stable. We pay the family two and a half gold per week (quite a windfall for them and they can’t seem to move in fast enough!) We give them 30 Gold to cover 6 weeks of pay. We also leave them with a small strongbox with 20 gold in various coins to take care of household expenses and projects. Glenda wants to start a kitchen garden and begins work on that.

We head to get our artifacts from the professor. We arrive as the exhibit ends and gather our items. We stop in Ulfden on our return. We do some shopping but when we regroup, Derp is missing. He went to find the person who traded him the banner. We go in search for Derp. After questioning several people, we are led to a pottery barn, which is a cover for the thieves’ gambling den. Merrick and Teddi speak about feeling “lucky” which is the code for those present that they are interested in gambling. After paying 30 gold, they are led down a secret door to the gambling hall. Keyanna and Starr stay in the pottery barn and throw pots. Starr is quite good at it, and Keyanna..well…not so much! But Starr creates a beautiful urn for Dalia’s remains. As Merrick and Teddi look around the gambling hall, they don’t see Derp but do see opium dealers. They search the opium rooms off the gambling hall and Teddi discovers Derp tied up and drugged. As he helps him out of the room, they are attacked by a bunch of burly men. Fighting ensues and doesn’t go well for Merrick, Teddi and Derp (as Derp is dazed). Starr and Keyanna are unaware of the fight but feel vibrations in the floor and feel uneasy so they go to check things out. The ladies join the fight. Merrick and Teddi both are taken down, making death saves. Despite all attempts to save him, Teddi is lost to us. Once we leave the pottery barn, Derp is able to tell us that the boss here is the same pimp that ran the brothel at Falcon’s Hollow.

3 days of travel to return to Falcon’s Hollow. We talk to the sheriff about the pimp and what happened in Ulfden. Later, at the keep, our group discusses the possibilities of a dungeon in the brothel that has been closed up. We decide to investigate ourselves. We sneak in and discover two bodies in the basement. Merrick goes for the sheriff but is met at the door by law enforcement who saw our lights. We tell them that we “smelled an odor that needed to be checked out”. We told them about the two bodies. The Sheriff and Magistrate investigates the brothel and the deaths. The magistrate decides to auction all items in the brothel. We approach him about a bulk sale for the household type furniture. We buy cheaply made but serviceable pieces for our keep and to donate the rest to those in need. For 200 Gold, we got 6 bedroom sets, a full kitchen set-up, and 12 dining sets. We will keep and use what we need until we can buy better quality items.

We hear about “burly” men who’ve come to town to replace some of the lumberjacks lost at the carnival. We go to the dive bar to look and see if any are the ones we ran into in Ulfden. We also hear that Kreed has a new girlfriend. Derp and Keyanna are invited to dinner by Kreed. The new girlfriend is the woman we helped to escape from the ice wand at the carnival. She left the ringmaster and had hooked up with Kreed. Unfortunately, during dinner, we notice that she has quite the nasty attitude.

Derp pays the street urchins to keep an eye out and to let him know if the see the old half-orc who ran the brothel. Kimi comes to the door one night and gets Derp. She tells him about an old gravedigger who is at the inn talking about the undead coming soon. We go to the inn and listen to the old man. He says that there are dozens of undead coming and they are not far outside the gates! Townfolk dismiss the old man as a fanatic and crazy. Merrick and Derp go up on the ramparts to look anyway. They yell down that there are what seems to be undead headed toward the gates. Kimi is sent to inform the sheriff while we tell the guards to secure the gate after we exit. We go outside the gates and make out way toward the undead. We begin the attack. After a moment, we notice a beast in the distance who turns into a woman. We are soon attacked by several more undead. It seems that this woman is directing the undead. However, we soon realize that the undead are attacking her as well. Our session ended after the first wave of undead are gone, with another wave approaching.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Exotic Mounts

This is another follow-up to my posts on Exotic Mounts and Horse Mounts.  I just bought a few more Exotic Mount miniatures from StufferShack.  I don't know how often I'll get a chance to use them, but I think they look pretty darn cool.  Of course I'm always looking for any excuse to take pictures of my minis, so on with the pics!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

D&D 5e: What's Next?

D&D Next!  It's a tactical war game!  It's a storytelling game!  It's a simulation game!  It's a breath mint!  It's a VCR!  It's a sweater vest!  It slices, it dices, it softens hands while you do dishes!

A few weeks ago WOTC announced that 5e was coming, and that it was going to please everyone.  (*rimshot*)  Last month I tried to post on what I'd like to see in 5e, but ended up babbling about the crazy directions I'd take if I designed an RPG of my own.  But just because I'd make an RPG that way, it doesn't mean those are elements I'd want to see in D&D.  Consider this the real "what I want to see in 5e" blog.

WOTC claims they're going to combine the best of classic D&D with the more streamlined modern editions.  They claim the game will be modular in a way that allows gaming groups to pick and choose which elements they like most.  So when you sit down at a D&D table, the DM will say, "Okay, boys, the game is 5e Stud.  We'll be using 3.5's healing, 4e's powers, White Box classes, AD&D's races, and Jokers and one-eyed Tieflings are wild."

Personally I'm skeptical, and think it's going to turn out something like this.  (Side-note, that webcomic is done by a friend of mine.  We don't always agree on what's fun in RPGs, but he is good at pointing out absurdity when he sees it.)  But despite my concerns, I really do want this to work.  I want to believe them, I want everything they've promised to turn out okay.  After all the complaints about Fourth Edition, D&D needs a win.  If 5e isn't at least a moderate success, it could be the last edition they make.

Obviously it's impossible to please everyone, but at least they're starting with the right thought.  By declaring that the various elements will be optional, they're at least acknowledging that different people like different things from RPGs. After years of trying different approaches and segmenting their fanbase even further, this time they're going to make it customizable.  Heck, there probably won't be an original idea in the entire edition; it sounds like all their energy is going to go into making all the old ideas fit together.  If all goes well, the only thing people will have to complain about is finding a group that shares their preferences.  But... how in the world is WOTC going to make such dissimilar elements work together?

Part of me hopes they'll completely abandon some of the dumber elements of the earliest editions, like Elves being a class, or THACO, or mages starting with 1d4 hit points.  But those are just my odd preferences; some people like that stuff.  If they find a way to make THACO an option, while still allowing the modern AC system as well, then I'm not going to begrudge the existence of the options I don't use.  That would be too similar to the dolts who whined about Essentials.

I think classes will be the easy part.  Essentials already showed us that it was possible to have a 3.5 character and a 4e character fighting side-by-side.  Can't decide on a magic system?  Easy enough, let people choose how they want to play by picking certain classes. For example, have Wizards use the Memorization/Vancian system, Sorcerers use an At-Will/Encounter/Daily System, and Mages use a points/mana system.  Likewise, they could still have both a Rogue and a Thief (or a Fighter and a Knight), in order to have similar classes who use different mechanics.

But what about hit points and healing?  I just don't know how that's going to work.  Some editions have low hit points and slow healing, while others have much hardier adventurers.  Meanwhile, modules are sometimes designed with the healing system in mind.  Fourth edition especially expects you to go through a certain number of encounters per day before you try to find somewhere to camp. 

And combat?  The combat system has to be simple enough to play without miniatures, but complicated enough to remain interesting to those who love battle above all else.  Personally I would love to combats to be shorter again, but how do they please both kinds of player?  Hopefully they won't just put in an option that says, "For longer battles, quadruple everyone's hit points."

And so on... everywhere I look, I see rules that aren't just different, they're designed with completely incompatible systems in mind.  What would I like to see?  Well, I haven't played a lot of the oldest editions, but I know I like 3.5 and 4e pretty much equally.  Everywhere the two systems are different, I can see good things about each edition.  So obviously I'm not hard to please.  That said, here's some things I want, at least as an option:

1. Fast healing, without surges.  I want some way to heal a few hit points between battles, and large amounts of overnight healing.  But I don't really care for the "Healing Surges" system, so I'd rather they come up with something different.  My suggestion:  Once per battle you can use a second wind (25% of max hp).  After every battle, you can restore 25% of your hit points by resting.  A successful heal check might increase the amount.  But you can't just take multiple short rests to keep healing.  You get one chance after each battle, as it represents you bandaging your worst wounds.  Whatever you heal to after a battle, that becomes your Max HP for the rest of the day (this prevents you from picking a fight with something easy just to heal even more after the next battle).  Overnight you heal 50% of your hit points, and your Max HP is restored.  (Note, this paragraph assumes there's not a healer in your party.)

2. At least 12 starting hit points.  In some editions, a level 1 character can be killed in one hit, by a flippin' kobold.  If you're going into battle, you're going to get hit.  Now, if it's a roleplay-heavy campaign, you might manage to get a few levels in before you ever have to really fight.  But with so many combat-lovers out there, they can't design the system with just roleplay in mind.

3. All levels should mean something.  I hate "Empty Levels".  Sometimes it takes weeks to get to the next level; I want more than just a couple of hit points for my trouble. A new combat move, a new resistance, something.

4. At least one At-Will spell for every magic user.  I honestly don't care which magic system they go with.  But even if the rest of the system involves memorizing spells, every Mage should at least have one unlimited-use ranged spell.  There's just no reason a magic user should have to buy a crossbow, when they could have a spell that does the same damage.

5. Fast, simple combat.  I don't know exactly what I want, but I know what I don't want.  I don't want to look up at the clock and say, "Dang, have we really been in this fight for three hours?"  And while I love using minis, I don't want them to be required.

6. No feat tax.  There are certain feats that everyone takes.  Specifically, the ones that add to your attack rolls and damage.  If everyone takes a feat, it's the same as if everyone just gets fewer feats.  I would be perfectly happy if there were no +attack/damage feats at all, and they just fixed the math so that those weren't necessary.  I'd prefer if feats added more to your character's flavor than to his math.

7. Less errata for the sake of balance.  They can try to make the classes fairly even right up until the PHB is published, but after that they have to stop tweaking.  Unless they make a huge glaring error, I don't want to see a lot of errata.  Fixing it because of a typo that makes Rogues invincible?  Fine.  Fixing it because some player found a combination of 6 feats that lets his Rogue do 2 extra damage per round?  Give me a frikkin' break!  Okay, I'll compromise... one year after the PHB hits the shelves, they're allowed to release a revised version of the PHB with the first year's errata plugged in.  But after that, the core game is done.  They can still release as many splat books as they want, but no more changes to the PHB after that.  You don't see them updating Monopoly every month.

8. Simplicity.  I can roll up a Gamma World character in 5 minutes, and I can even teach my less-geeky friends how to roll up their own characters.  I can't do either in the most recent editions of D&D.

9. Light DM prep-time.  A lot of players have jobs (or at least homework).  Not all of us can devote several hours during the week to prepare for Saturday's game.  4e was pretty good about letting DMs throw sessions together on short notice.

10. Half-Elf Bards that don't suck. It's one of my favorite race/class combinations, but both the race and the class got screwed in some editions.  

Anyway, that's probably not a complete list, but it's the things I care about most.  Here's hoping they can pull it off.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: Icy Dead People

Game Date: 2/11/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Dalia (Matt): Human Ardent
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin
Teddi (Ted):  Dwarf Warlock

The Session:
Last session we fought our way through a twisted carnival.  After receiving direction from the Fey Queen, we set out to find the one responsible for this madness.  As we passed through the ticket booth to re-enter the carnival, we were briefly stopped by a goblin ticket-taker, but we quickly dispatched him.  We headed straight for the Modern Wonders tent, from which we'd heard screams earlier.

Outside the tent, we saw a big cyborg/golem monster called a Jhoruk, which was throwing carnival-goers into the machinery.  We fought the Jhoruk and three goblins.  These goblins had a powerful marking ability called the "Mark of Thorns", which really complicated the fight.  Ordinarily it's a good strategy to have all players concentrate their attacks on the same enemy, taking them out one by one.  But since each of us was marked by a different goblin, we each had to concentrate on our own foe, extending the battle.  But we all survived.  It would have been nice if our Bard had shown up for the session, though.

Inside the Modern Wonders tent, carnival-goers were being led into powerful machines designed to process lumber.  We fought four goblins and destroyed the machines as we made our way through the tent.  These battles were complicated by the fact that if we stood too close to any machine, it would damage us.  Worse, an invisible fey kept taunting us and trying to push us into the various mechanical monstrosities.  Ted and Dalia both got pulled into a machine called the "Blades of Doom", for large amounts of damage.  It was tough getting through the tent, but we all survived.  It would have been nice if our Bard had shown up for the session, though.

After the battle, we found a magic rod made of ice.  When our resident arcanists were unable to figure out the nature of the magic, our less-than-subtle knight just smashed the rod.  It turned out that the rod was a magical prison, which had contained Namdrin (the albino drow owner of the carnival) and his wife.  Grateful to us for releasing them, Namdrin joined our party and helped us to locate the source of all this evil.  As we left the tent, Teddi burned it down for good measure.  The party was now very low on healing surges, but we were determined to finish this.  It would have been nice if our Bard had shown up for the session, though.

Out on the ice, we saw the evil fey master we sought.  The boss was a Cold Rider, mounted on the back of a Frost Beast.  Early in the fight, he hit Dalia with a power that took away more than half her HP.  With no remaining surges, she couldn't heal herself.  Later in the battle she went down, and failed two death saves.  Marrick managed to rescue her, using a type of healing potion that doesn't require surges.  By this time the Frost Beast was dead, and the Cold Righter was bloodied.  Dalia could have played it safe and let the rest of the party finish him off, but she had more guts than sense.  She charged the Rider, but was quickly taken down once again.  She failed her third death save and died for good.  The rest of the party finished off the Cold Rider, with no further deaths to our party.  It would have really been nice if our frikkin' Bard had shown up for the session, though.

Once the boss was dead, the evil aspects of the carnival faded.  Having saved the day, the party got ready to relax.  Next order of business - earlier in the night, Teddi and Starr had been asked to watch a boy named Justin, son of our nemesis, Thuldrin Kreed.  During all the night's strange events, we sort of lost track of him.  This could prove to be very bad for us.  Oh well, if Kreed asks, we'll tell him it was all Derp's fault.

This is the third character I've lost since I started playing pencil-and-paper RPGs (and all to the same DM).  I consider myself lucky in that all three deaths were good ones, from bravely-fought battles against major enemies.  Aria was killed by a massive brain, while Vex was killed by a giant bug.  Much better than having to tell people I was killed by kobolds, or a pit trap, or my own party members.

As much as I'd like to blame Derp's absence for Dalia's death, I doubt the Bard could have done much for her.  She was out of surges, so his healing words wouldn't have had any effect.  Nope, all is forgiven.  Now excuse me, I'm off to build my next character.  I'm thinking of making a Minotaur Barbarian who despises music, and flies into uncontrollable fits of rage whenever he sees a musical instrument.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HeroClix - Pictures Of My Collection

I collected a lot of HeroClix early on, but I only played it a couple of times.  And the few games I played, we only used the simple version of the rules.  Still, I like having them.  Maybe I'll use them as minis if I get in a "Mutants and Masterminds" campaign.

In getting them back out to photograph, my biggest issue was that I hadn't stored them very well.  Pouring out the box, I was horrified at the huge mass of plastic, immediately worried about how many might be broken.  Almost anything that had a base was now off the base, and matching them back up again was very time-consuming.  A few will have to be glued back together, which lowers their value, but I don't collect these as an investment anyway.

Catwoman and Tigra were locked together in a rather scandalous union, and I nearly broke them prying them apart.  But the funniest thing I saw was when I found the base for the Invisible Woman, without the mini attached.  My first thought was, "That's an easy way to design a mini."  I should market an entire line of invisible miniatures.

In the pics, I tried to group them by affiliation.  But honestly, I'm not as big a comic book geek as I thought I was.  I have no idea who some of these people are, especially for the independent properties.  Heck, even my first love, DC, has a lot of heroes that were too obscure for me to identify right away.  It was difficult matching up the bases for these unknown heroes.  I tried using process of elimination, but come on...  "Jesse Quick"?  Using unisex names isn't even playing fair.  I had to resort to Google Image Search a lot.

My collection isn't as complete as I'd like, but I'm not going to start collecting them again.  The only ones that really bug me are the ones that don't make sense without others.  I have Bullseye and Elektra, but no Daredevil.  I have a Dagger but no Cloak.  I have a Loki but no Thor.  I have a Dove with no Hawk.  I have a really nice deluxe Sinestro, and yet I don't have a single Green Lantern.  How do I not have a Green Lantern?

Another random observation:  Batman has more villains than God.  No wonder he's always so pissed off.  Why don't some of these baddies move a few hundred miles away?  I mean, surely it can't be that hard to find a town where there's not a guy dressed like an animal patrolling the streets.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that.  Here's the pics.  Click the pictures for larger versions.

Batman and Friends



Two-Face, Joker, and Harley Quinn

Four Jokers beats pretty much any hand.


Batman Villains

Various DC Characters

Lobo and Etrigan

Swamp Thing

Negative Woman

Blue Beetle, Black Canary, and Green Arrow - How colorful!

Ice hails a cab while Fire floats nearby.

JLA's Plastic People

JLA's Hawk People

JLA Villains


Superman and Supergirl

Superman Villains

Some Teen Titans

Hulk and the Avengers

Iron Man and War Machine

Black Widow with some S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents


Fantastic Four... like, 10 of 'em.



Bullseye and Elektra




Spider-Man and his Not Totally Unremarkable Friends

Spidey Villains


Wolvie Vs Sabertooth


X-Men and Sentinel

Random Cops

Random Crooks

I have no idea who the frack these people are.

Independent Comics

Witchblade and Danger Girl Characters

2000 AD