Saturday, August 25, 2012

About This Blog

For those just tuning in, I thought I'd take a moment to explain who I am, why this blog is here, and how to navigate the silly thing.  As it says in the upper right, this blog is where I post the recaps of all the gaming sessions I play in.  Additionally, this is where I express my own crazy thoughts about gaming in general.

About Me

Hi, I'm Matt, but my friends call me Maqtt (the q is silent).  I'm a gender-bending Sci-Fi geek who prefers technology to exercise. In other words, I'm every high school bully's greatest fantasy. I enjoy role-playing games, video games (RPGs, Action, Adventure, Fighting), reading (mostly science-fiction and fantasy), drawing, writing, watching bad movies, and generally messing around on the computer. I'm both a Starwoid and a Trekkie (that's Trekkie, not Trekker; don't make me hurt you).  I have a three cats, one spouse, and a corny sense of humor.

I came late to the RPG party.  I was more into video games when I was a kid, and I mostly favored action games.  I didn't even try computer RPGs until college.  The first actual "Dungeons & Dragons" brand product I played for any length of time was NeverWinter Nights for the PC.  I never beat the single player campaigns, but I really got into the online persistent worlds.  Eventually I built my own world called "Itropa", and hosted it for a couple of years.  While I had played a couple of random D&D games in my youth, I didn't get into an actual "pencil and paper" D&D campaign until 2008.  I have been enjoying D&D 4e since it was released, as both a player and a DM.  In addition to 4e, I've played small amounts of Traveller, Pathfinder, Gamma World, a few random sessions of older D&D editions, and the occasional odd game like Dungeon Crawl Classics.  But I still consider myself an RPG newbie - there's so much out there I want to try!

I maintain a more general blog here, where I rant about non-RPG-related things like movies, comic books, and political beliefs.  It doesn't get updated as often as this one, since most of my blogging energy is now spent recapping D&D sessions.

Navigating This Blog

The Two Main Categories:
Most of my blogs have either the "Game Sessions" tag or the "Metapost" tag.  "Game Sessions" are the gameplay recaps, and these posts are probably only going to interest those in my group.  I use the label "Metapost" for pretty much everything else.  So if you just want to read my crazy opinions and reviews without having to scroll past the game sessions, just click "Metapost".

Other Sub-Categories:
Rants and Ramblings - Like most people on the internet, I enjoy shouting my deeply-held opinions on subjects I don't really understand.  These are my favorite blogs to write, and the ones most people seem to enjoy reading.

Reviews - What I think of specific RPG products I've played or looked at.  Not to be confused with useful information.

Characters - The backstories and other data for characters I've played or would like to play. 

Miniatures and Tokens - Mostly pictures of miniatures, and a couple of reviews of miniature products.

My Modules - One-shot modules I have written.

My Rants, Ramblings, and Reviews

My Thoughts on D&D Fourth Edition - My first impressions of 4e.

My D&D History - An in-depth explanation of my D&D credentials.

A Year-And-A-Half Later - A look back on my 4e first impressions blog, to see how much my opinions changed.

The Philosophy of the Healing Surge - My response to the critics who think healing is too easy in 4e.

The New Character Builder - WOTC changed the character builder to an online version, and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Perfect Game - What I would want out of an RPG.

Sins of the Dungeon Master - We all make mistakes; these are some I made when I was a DM.

Token Storage - I had a problem storing my tokens, and later reposted when I found a solution.

Are We Having Fun Yet? - Halfway through the ToEE campaign, I started to question a few things.

Part-Time Players - In-game explanations for players who miss a lot of sessions.

I Need A Hero - Should RPGs focus on heroic superhumans, or average people who just happen to get caught up in an adventure?

Essentials, Edition Wars, and Whiny People - My thoughts on Essentials, a controversial addition to D&D 4e.

ToEE: Afterthoughts - A wrap-up to our unfinished Temple of Elemental Evil campaign.

D&D 4e vs Pathfinder - Comparing things I like and hate about the two systems.

If I Designed An RPG - What I would do if I were to build an RPG from scratch.

Being a Little Too Elf Conscious - I whine about Elf life spans.

D&D 5e: What's Next? - My hopes for the next edition of D&D.

You're Having Fun Wrong -  I reminisce about hosting a NeverWinter Nights server, and complain about jerks who criticize other players' roleplay.  Also has screenshots of my Itropa module.

Other Reviews and Ramblings: Against the Giants (Novel) , Drizzt Thoughts, Alternative Miniatures, The Legend of Drizzt Board Game, Castles & Crusades / Central Casting: Heroes of LegendRace/Class Build List, Beholder Minis, Horse Minis, Exotic Mounts, More Exotic Mounts, Dragon Age, D&D Character Builder, Player's Handbook 2, Player's Handbook 3, Hybrids, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Zombie Dice, Beholder Minis, Gamma World, Wrath of Ashardalon and Zombies!!!

My Modules and Campaign Settings

So far I've posted three (well, two-and-a-half) modules, and a campaign setting.  But I am working on more.

Death By Chocolate - This is a fun little one-shot best run on Easter or Halloween.  It's about an old candy factory filled with chocolate-covered monsters.  The fun part is that it uses candy instead of miniatures, and players get to eat what they kill.  It's not designed with any particular campaign setting in mind.  I eventually ran the module using Gamma World, and posted a blog about the session here.

Zombie Cyborgs From Outer Space - Robots!  Aliens!  Flying Sharks!  This module takes place in a cheesy sci-fi world.  It was designed for my Itropa campaign setting, but it would work just as well in Gamma World, Shadowrun, or any other futuristic/cyberpunk setting.  If nothing else, check out this blog entry just for the pictures.  I love using 3D terrain and props in my modules.  When I finally ran the module, we only got about halfway through it, but I posted a recap here.

Itropa Campaign Setting - This is a cheesy sci-fi setting, based on the NeverWinter Nights module I made.  It basically involves taking D&D and reflavoring all the magic elements to be bad science, without changing any of the math.

The Sunken Temple of Pelor - This was a Forgotten Realms module that I intended to run for my Praktas campaign, but never got around to it.  Eventually I rewrote it as Zombie Cyborgs From Outer Space.  Don't bother reading this module if you've already read the other one; it's pretty much the same story but in a fantasy setting.

Praktas Campaign Setting - Set in the Forgotten Realms, this is the area I used during the sessions I ran.  The location names and map layout are very similar to the Itropa setting.  Deal with it.

My Miniatures and Dice

I'm not a professional photographer, but I do enjoy taking pictures of my miniatures.  I don't sculpt or paint my own minis, so it's a little weird for me to be photographing them - you can see the same things in a WOTC product catalog.  But I do like showing off my collections, so here's some of the pics I've taken.

D&D Minis - A huge post with lots of pictures of my miniature collection.  Unfortunately I was still getting used to a new camera at the time, so some of the pictures didn't come out as well as they could have.

Star Wars Miniatures - Another large post, focusing on my Star Wars minis this time.  I had found the right settings on the camera by then, and I took a lot of the pictures outside where I had better light.

HeroClix and HorrorClix - I haven't played much of these, but I love the minis.

Dice - Pictures of my dice.

More miniature photography can be found in my posts about Maynard the Minotaur, Undead In Their Natural Habitat, Alternative Miniatures, Orcus, Horse Miniatures, Exotic Mounts, More Exotic Mounts, and Beholder Minis.  There's also some neat pics in my Modules blogs.

My Characters

Every time I roll up a new character, I write a backstory for them.  Most of these backstories are pretty light; after all, it wouldn't make sense for a character with no XP to be an experienced dragonslayer.  But at the very least I like to explain what sort of family they came from, how they came to be whatever class they are, and what made them leave home to start adventuring.

My Characters: Past, Present, and Future - A list of characters I'd played on NeverWinter Nights and D&D, and characters I hope to play in the future.

Dervish - Human Weapon Master, NeverWinter Nights

Sillia Aylomein - Human Bard, NeverWinter Nights.

Brynwyn Elswyth - Elf Arcane Archer, NeverWinter Nights.  This is one of my favorite backstories.

Aria Thatcher - Half-Elf Bard, Scarred Lands campaign.

Talindra Seryth - Razorclaw Shifter Avenger, Artifact Hunters campaign.

Kryla Bloodfang - Dragonborn Sorceror, ToEE campaign.

Calla Noble - Human Knight, ToEE campaign.

Vex Corman - Half-Elf Monk, Unlikely Heroes campaign.

Dalia Lockwood - Human Ardent, Unlikely Heroes campaign.

Flora Oakwillow - Hamadryad Seeker, Unlikely Heroes campaign.

Malta Klonk - Human Engineer, Traveller campaign.

Terri Bolton - Human Mechanic, Rifts 2112 campaign.

Danica Branford - Human Inventor, Gurps campaign.

My Campaigns 

Here are all the campaigns I've played in, though I'm leaving out a lot of one-shots and such.

Looking For A Group
6/22/2013 - Now
System: D&D Next / 5e Playtest
DM: Rusty

Barad (Jeremy) - Dwarf Paladin
Flip (Trevor) - Halfling Rogue
Golag Bonesmasher (Bryan) - Half-Orc Ranger
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Keyleth Siannodel (Matt) - Elf Druid
Tamel (Andrew) - Elf Ranger
Zuul (Graham) - Half-Orc Paladin

Rifts 2112
11/24/2012 - 3/23/2013
System: Savage Worlds
DM: Rusty

Emma Snow (Star): Medic
Jim Bagg (Cliff): Military Reserves
Sgt. Malcolm Reynolds (Ted): Active Military
Terri Bolton (Matt): Mechanic

7/14/2012 - 8/18/2012
A sci-fi game using the Traveller system.  This is the first pencil-and-paper campaign I've gotten to play in that wasn't in a medieval fantasy setting.

System: Traveller
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Baron Ozwald Haff (Greg): Pilot, Navigator
Dr. Melinda Warren (Star): Medical Officer
Dreya D'Nalor (Chere): Pilot
Lord Kendrick Meadowcroft (Ted): Purser
M.C. "Jester" Slate (Cliff): Pilot
Malta Klonk (Matt): Engineer/Cook

Ship: The Unchaste Harlot

Unlikely Heroes of Darkmoon Vale
7/16/2011 - 7/7/2012
This began as a Pathfinder campaign, but later turned into a D&D 4e campaign. It follows a group of adventurers in the town of Falcon's Hollow.  The story is over for now, but we might revisit these characters again in a future campaign.

System: Pathfinder/D&D 4e

DM: Rusty

Final Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Long-Surviving Half-Elf Bard
Flora Oakwillow (Matt): Fire-Fearing Hamadryad Seeker
Keyanna (Chere): Scantily-Clad Half-Elf SorcererLo-Kang (Ted): Frequently-Immobilized Warforged Barbarian
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight and Big Bag of Hit Points
Star (Starr): Undead-Smitin' Eladrin Paladin

Previous Party Members:
Adrilar (Greg): Elf Sorcerer - Killed in Kobold Ambush
Dalia Lockwood (Matt): Human Ardent - Killed by a Cold Rider
Davor (Ted): Half-Orc Sorcerer - Killed in Kobold Ambush
Glynnyn (Tamara): Elf Druid - Must have gotten lost in the woods
Moxie (Michael): Half-Orc Fighter - Killed by Snidely
Nementah (Ted): Wilden Druid - Killed by scythe trap, ghouls, and festrogs
Ranell (Michael): Halfling Barbarian - Left to pursue a music career
Teddi (Ted): Dwarf Warlock - Murdered by opium dealers
Snidely (Greg): Halfling Rogue - Killed by Durp
Vex (Matt): Half-Elf Monk - Killed in Kobold Ambush

Important NPCs:
Thuldrin Kreed - Vile leader of Lumber Consortium.
Payden “Pay Day” Teedum - Kreed's right-hand man.
Kabran Bloodeye - Noseless Half-Orc, head of the Thieves Guild.
Laurel - The town herbalist.
Druingar the Glintaxe - A long-dead Dwarven hero.
Merlokrep - Kobold King who has trouble staying dead.
Jevra - Our group's ward, she is a teenage orphan and werewolf. Now deceased.
The Kids (Kimi, Mikra, Jurin, Savram, Hollin, and Ralla) - Spunky children/teenagers who have helped us out of a few scrapes.

The Temple of Elemental Evil
3/19/2011 - 7/9/2011
This was a 4e conversion of the classic Greyhawk module.  We managed to get more than halfway through temple, when our gaming group disbanded due to time constraints.

System: D&D 4e

DM: Rusty

Final Party:
Artimus a.k.a. "Artie" (Rick): Revenant Hexblade
Balthazar a.k.a. "Phredd" (Ted): Half-Elf Bard
Calla Noble (Matt): Human Knight
Inphy (Star): Half-Orc Slayer
Joanna Winters (Jesse): Human Archer Ranger
Jerry (Nick): Human Cleric
Kossack (Cliff): Minotaur Fighter
Malagar (Bryan): Drow Thief

Previous Party Members (Living):
Durbin (Jesse): Dwarf Battlerager Fighter
Kryla Bloodfang (Matt): Dragonborn Cosmic Sorcerer
Nyx (Bryan): Halfling Thief
Pixie (Leigha): Gnome Wizard

Previous Party Members (Dead):
Ashira (Jesse): Dragonborn Battlemind - Death by Ghast
Krusk (Rick): Half-Orc Monk - Killed by Ghouls
Razz of the Three Moons (Jesse): Githzerai Swordmage - Gnawed to death by Gnolls

Artifact Hunters: The Avatar of Torm
10/2/2010 - 3/12/2011
While we considered which system to use for our next long-term game, we changed DMs and played through this short Forgotten Realms campaign.  It lasted 11 sessions.  We were on a mission from the church of Torm, and worked to eradicate followers of Bane.

System: D&D 4e

DM: Nick

The Party:
Amarat (Tamara): Elf Rogue
Anna Bella (Leigha): Halfling Monk
Gavail Pontiff (Ted): Eladrin Wizard
Julien (Dane): Kalashtar Cleric
Marek the Silver (Rusty): Dragonborn Paladin
Morigan McBane (Jesse): Human Artificer
Talindra Seryth (Matt): Razorclaw Shifter Avenger

The Scarred Lands
5/22/2010 - 9/25/2010
As Praktas petered out, I had to find a way to get my D&D fix.  I used Pen And Paper Games to find a new group.  This campaign used D&D 4e's rules, but was set in the Scarred Lands, a third-party setting where the Gods fought a war with their children.  This campaign lasted about 10 sessions.  After the last two original party members were killed, the group felt it was time for a change.

System: D&D 4e
DM: Rusty

Final Party:
Aria Thatcher (Matt): Half-Elf Bard
Blast Flashing, Jr. (Nick): Gnome Warlock
Cecil (Dane): Githzerai Swordmage
Shade (Jesse): Drow Rogue
Thorfin (Ted): Goliath Fighter

Previous Party Members:
Alek Corman (Ted): Half-Elf Paladin
Dornn (Adam): Minotaur Cleric
Gorn (Jesse): Half-Orc Ranger
Paige (Leigha): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Pyro (Daniel): Changeling Sorcerer

Important NPCs:
Captain Garret - Dwarven Captain from Burok Torn.
Duvall - Dwarven Runepriest who hosted us in Burok Torn.
Elmore - Bandit who owes us a favor for letting him live.
Goran - Dwarven God, with scars on half his face.
Horiza - Merchant, friend of Blast.
King Thane - Dwarven leader of Burok Torn.
King Virduk - King of Calasta, is besieging Burok Torn.

Important Locations:
Bareth Marn - Failed Dwarven Kingdom.
Burok Torn - Dwarven Kingdom.
Calasta - The kind-of-evil kingdom where we started.
Hedrad - Home of the worlds second largest library.
Lave - Capital of Vesh.
Mansk - Fishing village on the way to Skykeep.
Trela - Small village where we attended the carnival.
Vesh - Where we took the Amphora.

2/21/2009 - 3/6/2010
This is the first campaign I ran as a DM.  It started out as a practice game (hence the name) to teach us how to play 4e.  It continued as an alternate game for the nights that our Tantris DM had to cancel.  Once Tantris ended, I ran a few more Praktas sessions until too many complications kept the group from meeting.  I tried to give Praktas an overall continuity, but a lot of our sessions were months apart, so it's really more like a series of loosely-connected one-shots.

System: D&D 4e

DM: Matt

Final Party:
Drew Baker (Bryan): Human Tempest Fighter
Damakos Redhorn (Rick): Tiefling Rogue
Tirah (Misty): Deva Wizard.
Dorath (Bryan): Goliath Fighter.

Previous Party Members:
Daalan Raan (Bryan): Elf Ranger - Killed by Nathar's Henchmen
Ghargoff Bloodmaster (Rick): Dragonborn Barbarian - Died fighting alongside Daalan

3/7/2009 - 10/10/2009
This was the first continuous campaign I played in.  Even though we were using 4e rules, it was very different from the average 4e campaign.  We didn't use miniatures or battle grids.  We usually only had about one battle per session, and those rarely took more than ten minutes.  It was very roleplay-heavy, and we really got into our characters.  Unfortunately it only lasted 9 sessions before the DM had to move to another state, but we did manage to leave it at a good stopping place.

System: D&D 4e (no miniatures)

DM: Matt 2

The Party:
Nara Cavell (Matt 1): Human Cleric of Pelor
Rolan Daan (Bryan): Elf Rogue
Rhogar Burnscale (Rick): Dragonborn Fighter
Lia Moon (Misty): Elf Wizard

Important NPCs:
Astor Josel - High Priest of Temple of Pelor in Tantris.
Thram Hammerfist - Bartender, Rolan's contact for jobs.
Drake Ironbreaker - Barkeep of the Bleeting Goat, Rhogar's favorite fighting venue.
Lord De Rais - Head of the "House of De Rais". Deceased.
Thordius - Lia's master.

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