Friday, June 30, 2017

Painting Miniatures

So, I've started painting my own miniatures.  I haven't done anything I'm proud of yet, but I thought I'd show off my progress anyway.

I started looking into it because it's hard to find a decent fairy miniature.  I've always wanted to play a Pixie character, and I want to have an appropriate mini when I finally do.  But it's difficult to find any pre-painted fairy minis online.  There's a few good metal ones, but I don't really like metal minis.  Then one of my fellow gamers showed me a plastic Reaper Bones mini he'd painted (part of a familar set), and I had to have it.

Naturally, once I started painting I found it addictive.  Now that I've got my fairy (and a few extra), and I've started painting other familiars (they're cheap) and a few other creatures.  I've been trying a few techniques I've seen online, using washes and such, but I'm just not good at the fine detail work.  It gives me a headache to focus on parts that small, and I can only ask so much of my dexterity.  But I'm enjoying what I'm doing, even if it's not on par with the paint jobs I've seen online.

Making the bases is kind of fun.  I haven't done anything really elaborate, but I have a couple of easy techniques I enjoy.  In the clearance section of a craft store I found some textured green paint that makes things look like grass.  For stone bases, I paint them gray and then spray them with textured stone spray paint.


Fairy Queen




Swamp Zombies

Bat and Bat Swarm


House Cats

Faerie Dragons




Vorpal Bunnies

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Steal This Idea: Bounty Hunter Campaign

In my Itropa module for NeverWinter Nights, there was a Bounty Hunter Guild.  Once you joined, you could get paid for tracking down fugitives.  I later reused some of the same bounties in the tabletop games I DMed.

I thought it might be fun to post a list of the bounties here, so that others can steal my ideas.  I've copied a lot of the text straight out of the Itropa module.  Note that the rewards and details were designed for a cheesy sci-fi setting, but they could easily be converted into fantasy versions.  The "Wanted Level" indicates the difficulty of the character.  I’m not much of an artist, but I’ve drawn portraits for some of them.

 Name: Doctor Alas Mek
Wanted Level: 18
Reward Offered: 3500 gold credits
Last Seen: BotCo Factory
Description: Doctor Mek, a respected BotCo scientist, was burned beyond recognition in a factory fire.  His co-workers managed to save his life by placing what was left of his body in a robot shell.  Unfortunately there was some brain damage, which the scientiest attempted to fix through cerebral implants.  This gave him a split personality, as the artificial intelligence and the damaged human brain fight for control.  Mek has the ability to emit low frequency pulses which confuse his enemies.
Fantasy Version: An Alta wizard whose consciousness was transferred into the body of an Iron Golem.
DM Notes: Use the stats for a large metal golem, possibly an iron golem or a shield golem.  Give it a few electricity-based spells/powers.  My players faced him in this session.

 Name: Alterra Sarr
Wanted Level: 13
Reward Offered: 2000 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Prison (Current Whereabouts Unknown)
Description: Wanted for murdering Jacen Traven, the son of Trasa's Mayor.  Shy and unassuming, Alterra is a quiet farm girl from Fertilund (a farming community), and not the type one would usually suspect of commiting such a crime.  She has already been tried and sentenced to death, but she escaped.
DM Notes: Alterra is actually innocent.  If the players listen to her, she will tell her story.  She was dating Jacen at the time.  The true killer was actually a shapeshifter who altered his appearance to look like Alterra, in order to get close to Jacen.  The shapeshifter worked for the one of the Mayor's enemies.  If the players believe Alterra, and take the time to track down the shapeshifter, they will be in for a much bigger fight.  If they capture the shapeshifter and are able to prove Alterra's innocence, the Mayor will double the reward.

 Name: Analon Leebo
Wanted Level: 9
Reward Offered: 900 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Sewers
Description: Leebo is a professional hitman, and an expert with all types of toxins.  He is wanted for assassinating a high-ranking official in Alta.  It is still unknown who hired him for the hit, so try to take him alive.
DM Notes: Give him several types of poison or acid spells/powers.

 Name: Andar Thresh
Wanted Level: 1
Reward Offered: 100 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Slums
Description: Wanted for a chain of robberies.
DM Notes: This is just a small-time thug, designed to get players used to the bounty hunting system.  The players will search for him in the taverns on the poor side of town.  Regardless of the order they visit the taverns, Andar will be in the third tavern.  The first two will have patrons who claim to have seen Andar in the other taverns.  When the PCs finally locate him, Andar will start a bar brawl and try to sneak out in the confusion.

 Name: Andoro Korr
Wanted Level: 20
Reward Offered: 5000 gold credits
Last Seen: Inner Eye Caves
Description: Andoro was once a member of the Ynara Extremists, until he decided he preferred money to nature.  He is now a member of the Inner Eye.
DM Notes: There were several criminal factions in the Itropa module.  The Ynara Extremists are a violent group of animal rights activists.  The Inner Eye is a huge underground criminal organization.

 Name: Aurra Jade
Wanted Level: 17
Reward Offered: 2500 gold credits
Last Seen: Unknown
Description: Aurra is a Ris Kiree assassin.  She is well-versed in both science and swordplay, and will often distract her opponents with illusions before slicing them into ribbons.  Approach her with caution; she always has tricks up her sleeve.
DM Notes: In the Itropa module, Norgalla and Ris Kiree are two opposing deities, Ris Kiree being more attractive to evil characters.  The two religions were semi-parodies of Jedi and Sith, which is why Aurra's name sounds so familar to Star Wars fans.  The Jedi reference is also the reason for the science/swordplay combo (or in a fantasy setting, magic/swordplay).  Aurra should be the equivelant of a swordmage, adept at both spells and melee fighting.

 Name: Blakole
Wanted Level: 17
Reward Offered: 3500 gold credits
Last Seen: Alta Prison (Current whereabouts unknown)
Description: Blayton Blakole was once a respected scientist, and was instrumental in the research that led to the invention of the teleporter.  He did a great deal of side research on inter-dimensional travel and phase theory.  In the end his research drove him mad.  He was recently discovered trying to steal equipment from the Science Academy in Alta, and has been on the run ever since.
DM Notes: Blakole should have some sort of teleportation powers, like Misty Step.

 Name: Broono Grum and Broot
Wanted Level: 15
Reward Offered: 2300 gold credits
Last Seen: Desert
Description: Two Grunthians who were once members of the Bounty Hunter Guild, expelled for carrion hunting.  Broono is a weapons expert, and Broot understands little besides strength.
DM Notes: Grunthians are basically Itropa's orcs, though the city of Grunthar accepts citizens of many strong races (no Elves).  Broono is a full orc, while Broot is a half-orc.  A carrion hunter is someone who steals bounties from other bounty hunters.  They wait until a fugitive has been captured by the other hunter, then they find a way to distract the other hunter and steal the captive.  Carrion hunters are considered the lowest form of bounty hunters, and such activity is dealt with harshly by the guild.

 Name: Chane "Gunner" Tonson
Wanted Level: 15
Reward Offered: 2500 gold credits
Last Seen: Various Conflicting Reports
Gunner was once a demolitions expert for the Alta Elite Guard.  However, he liked explosions more than he liked following procedure, until one of his overpowered charges killed some innocent bystanders.  He was thrown off the force, and told never to return to Alta.  Now he lives the life of a survivalist, sleeping in the woods and hunting for food.  He occasionally works as a freelance mercenary/hitman, and is wanted in three cities for various violent crimes.
DM Notes: He lives in a camoflaged shack in the wilds, filled to the brim with weapons and canned food.  In a fantasy setting, he should be some sort of Alchemist, proficient with all sorts of weapons.

 Name: Cyndi the Manslayer      
Wanted Level: 39
Reward Offered: 13000 gold credits
Last Seen: Varous Graveyards
Description: As the captain of the cheerleading squad, Cyndi was always a bit of an airhead.  When she was in her teens, Cyndi was visited by her "Watcher" (an ancient order of salacious old men who enjoy watching teenage girls fight in skimpy clothing) who revealed to her that she was destined to be a slayer of vampires.  But since there's no such thing as vampires, it seemed a pretty empty destiny.  So she killed her Watcher instead, and decided to hunt ugly old men.  Now she wanders the graveyards, hoping to one day come across an actual vampire, or zombie, or even an old guy with a really bad cough.
DM Notes: Obviously this was a parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The players eventually find her in a graveyard.  She should be statted like a monk, but using wooden stakes as her primary weapon.

 Name: Dante Bloodscale      
Wanted Level: 47
Reward Offered: 13000 gold credits
Last Seen: Fertilund Hills
Description: Bloodscale is Pyrokinetic, which means he has the ability to start fires with his mind.  It is scientifically explainable, but he has instead chosen to believe this is a "calling" from the Dragon Goddess Talo-Ka.  However, he has a tendency to lose control of his powers, which has led to several unfortunate deadly incidents.  One particular disaster resulted in his expulsion from the Talo-Ka religious order.  His current location is unknown, but he has been spotted in the hills near Tero-Ku, possibly plotting his revenge.
DM Notes: Give him every fire spell, but add a layer of unpredictability.  Roll on a wild magic table, or give him a 25% chance of targeting a random area instead of his intended target.

 Name: Dash Thruster
Wanted Level: 13
Reward Offered: 2500 gold credits
Last Seen: Reswoll
Description: Dash has always been fascinated with the possibility of life on other planets.  For this reason, when aliens finally did land, they sought him out to be their first contact.  However, these aliens have proven to be hostile, and yet Dash continues to help them.  He has betrayed his race in order to satisfy his own curiosities about their world.  Dash may be equipped with alien technology, so approach him with extreme caution.
DM Notes: This guy was a Flash Gordon parody.  He had several laser weapons.  He might be harder to work into a fantasy setting.

 Name: Dibny Kestil
Wanted Level: 18
Reward Offered: 4200 gold credits
Last Seen: Alta Prison (Current whereabouts unknown)
Description: Dibny Kestil discovered at an early age that he had a knack for making people laugh.  With this in mind, he joined a local circus.  When the circus went bankrupt, Dibny found other ways to use his talents.  He studied the causes of laughter, refined his skills, and even constructed his own weapons designed to cause uncontrollable laughing.  Then he used his new tricks to go on a crime spree, until he was finally caught in Alta.  He later escaped, and has not been seen since.
DM Notes: In Itropa, his primary attack was Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

 Name: Felinia Nulelve'tner
Wanted Level: 15
Reward Offered: 2200 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Mountains
Description: A chetal-lover by nature, Felinia is an accomplished thief who has trained her beloved pets to do her stealing for her.
DM Notes: "Chetals" were Itropa's version of jungle cats.  Felinia is an Elf druid or ranger with multiple animal companions.

 Name: Gandaldore
Wanted Level: 52
Reward Offered: 30000 gold credits
Last Seen: Magic Grove
Description: Gandaldore is a faithful believer in magic, and is constantly trying to convince others as well.  Whenever he senses magic talents in children, he kidnaps them so he can teach them in his "magic school".  In actuality he possesses psychic abilities, as do the children he finds.
DM Notes: This was a parody of Dumbledore, so he should be a powerful wizard.  In Itropa, players had to fight him as well as three strangely familiar children.

 Name: Gar
Wanted Level: 27
Reward Offered: 6000 gold credits
Last Seen: Various Caves
Description: As a reptillian cave-dwelling assassin, Gar is literally a cold-blooded killer.  He is one of the few of his species to venture out of the caves, even if only at night.  Gar has never been seen by human eyes, except possibly by those of his victims.  He is one with the darkness, a shadowy wraith who kills both for fun and profit.
DM Notes: Gar is a lizardfolk rogue/assassin with invisibility or camoflage powers.

 Name: Glognar Elgen
Wanted Level: 13
Reward Offered: 2300 gold credits
Last Seen: Near Valos
Description: This dwarven miner loves cold weather.  He is an excellent tunneller, and he has used his skills to break into shops in both Trasa and Alta.
DM Notes: He is armed with a pickaxe, and has Passwall and other tunnelling spells that allow him to escape easily.

 Name: Jeska Spartan and Purple Mildew
Wanted Level: 20
Reward Offered: 3000 gold credits (1500 for Jeska, 500 for each other band member)
Last Seen: Trasa
Description: A popular music band that often played in the Pleasure Palace in Trasa.
Jeska Spartan (Lead singer) - Originally Jessiana Cole.  Jeska and her band were once exceptional students at the Virtuoso College in Alta.  That is, until a dorm party got out of hand, and the entire group was expelled for lewd behavior.  Never one to let things lie, Jeska attempted to set the college on fire.  The guards managed to put out the fire, but Jeska escaped. She changed her name and formed the band Purple Mildew. The group became very popular until she was recognized, and her band had to go on the run.
Todd Klute (Flute Player) - Has black hair.
Rash Decker (Harpist) - Has red hair, plays the miniature harp.
Drak Wilken (Drummer) - Bald, muscular, has lots of tattoos. Dates Jeska.
DM Notes: In the Itropa module, Jeska's name was Brittany Simpson.  After asking around for tips, all four band members will be found together.  All four are bards, but with different specialties.  My players fought them here.

 Name: Kama Kur
Wanted Level: 15
Reward Offered: 2700 gold credits
Last Seen: Arachna Island
Description: Kama is one of the most ruthless members of the Hell's Fury.  She has held several positions within the organization, including fighting instructor, assault leader, and most recently, programmer of the guard droids on Arachna Island.
DM Notes: The Hell's Fury (listed farther down) is an all-female pirate organization.  Kama is listed separately from the rest of the crew because the Bounty Hunter Guild was added long after most of the players had already defeated the Hell's Fury.

 Name: Krimson Vize
Wanted Level: 13
Reward Offered: 2000 gold credits
Last Seen: Ris Kiree Ruins
Description: Krimson is a fanatical worshipper of Ris Kiree, and is wanted for slaughtering a group of Norgalla worshippers.  He is a master at the use of an Aeon-Sword.
DM Notes: See the description of Ris Kiree under the "Aurra Jade" entry above.  Krimson should be another swordmage, who dresses in black and red.

 Name: Lilith de Fang
Wanted Level: 20
Reward Offered: 3000 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Graveyard
Description: Lilith is obsessed with death.  She has murdered several people just to drink their blood, which she believes will gain her eternal life.  She is also wanted on a lesser charge of grave robbing, and has been spotted in Trasa's cemetary several times.  She is completely without a conscience, so approch her with caution.
DM Notes: Think goth chick.

 Name: Captain Merea Scorne and the Hells Fury
Wanted Level: 30
Reward Offered: 4000 (Merea), 1000 (Other Listed Main Crew), 100 Each (Misc Crew)
Description: An all-female pirate crew. Main crew listed below.
Captain Merea Scorne (a.k.a. "The Pirate Queen") - Merea is a Two-blade fighter.  Long ago she was betrayed by man, and now she despises all men.  She gathered together an all-female crew, and now terrorizes the seas.  When they attack another ship, all the male crew are slaughtered.  Mercy is shown to the female captives, and some even end up joining the Hell's Fury.
Bruta Graxx - Half-Orc Fighter, and Merea's bodyguard.
Lyyra Syyr - Drow Wizard, and Merea's advisor.
Risha Thryst - Human Fighter, Merea's top officer, captain of Merea's flagship.
Callexia Galean - Human Druid, and Merea's assassin.
DM Notes: This was an early quest in Itropa, well before most players join the Bounty Hunters Guild.  The players are hired by Madeline Starkraven, a former member of Merea's crew, to find the underwater wreckage of a destroyed Hell's Fury ship.  While at sea, the players' ship is attacked by the Hell's Fury.  The players make their way onto the HF ship, defeat Captain Risha Thryst, and find a map that leads them to the Hell's Fury secret island headquarters.  On the island, they fight lots of pirates, making their way to Merea's throne room.  There, they fight Merea, Lyyra, and Bruta all together.  I DMed a version of this quest here: The Pirate Queen

 Name: Obsidia Pitch
Wanted Level: 14
Reward Offered: 2100 gold credits
Last Seen: Near Ynara
Description: Obsidia is a master thief.  She wears little clothing, and uses no weapons, and relies on her dark skin and stealth abilities to keep from being seen.  She is a martial arts expert, and should be considered very dangerous even though she will be unarmed.
DM Notes: Obsidia is a drow with high stealth.  Her class would be a mix of monk and rogue.  She doesn't wear much clothing because it interferes with her natural camo abilities.

 Name: Rusty Krosion
Wanted Level: 46
Reward Offered: 25000 gold credits
Last Seen: Alta Outskirts
Description: Everyone is the master of something, and Rusty is the master of, well, rust.  His most recent arrest involved a catastrophic visit to a "chain-metal-bikini fashion show".  But of course it's difficult to keep him behind bars (metal ones, anyway), and he was last seen fleeing from Alta.  Be very careful in trying to capture this one, his ability to decay metal can easily leave you armorless and weaponless.
DM Notes: In the Itropa module, Rusty was a reskinned rust monster.

 Name: Skyrene Linnealinae
Wanted Level: 5
Reward Offered: 500 gold credits.
Last Seen: Koramil Forest
Description: Wanted for taking her love of animal rights too far, this elf is wanted for killing hunters.
DM Notes: Another low level bounty for beginners.  She is an elf ranger who lives in the forest.  If the players go into the woods dressed as hunters and act like they are hunting game, she will find them and attack.  My players fought here here.

 Name: Super Hero Man
Wanted Level: 45
Reward Offered: 15000 gold credits
Last Seen: Isla Morpha
Description: Born in Alta at a very early age, mild-mannered Soop R. Hiroman has been a lover of children's literature for most of his life.  Soop especially enjoyed the fantastic illustrated tales of "super heros", beings with extraordinary powers who fought evil.  Soop always wished he had super powers of his own.  When he was nine years old, he was visited by the powerful alien overlord Chikar, who came to Soop's home specifically to bless him with his birthright, a fully array of superhuman abilities.  However, unable to get through the mess in Soop's room, Chikar left without meeting him.  When Soop was twelve, he was standing in a vat of mutagenic chemicals when he saw his parents get gunned down in a dark alley.  Meanwhile, a chunk of radioactive rock from outer space (actually a piece of Soop's home planet which had blown up years before, though Soop has no idea he's really an alien) hit him in the forehead, triggering some latent mutant abilities that had already been lying dormant in his body all these years.  Soop found that now possessed a wide variety of super powers, but he was also stricken insane.  He now believes he is in a comic book.  He has destroyed buildings in several cities, fighting imaginary heros in his delusional state.  He must be found and contained before he does even more harm, both to himself and others.
DM Notes: Have fun with it.

 Name: Thaco Ahrmarclauss
Wanted Level: 36
Reward Offered: 20000 gold credits
Last Seen: Grunthar Desert
Description: Thaco is an ex-soldier of the "Stone Army", the last line of defense for the city of Grunthar.  Thaco went AWOL after he fell in love with an elven slave, and committed high treason in setting her free.  The slave was killed during the rescue, and Thaco went into a rage, killing several Grunthian soldiers.
DM Notes: Thaco has an incredibly high AC, but is weak to everything else.

 Name: Throk One-Tusk
Wanted Level: 4
Reward Offered: 400 gold credits
Last Seen: Grunthar Fighting Arena
Description: A former Trasa guard who was wanted for stealing an expensive item.
DM Notes: After stealing an expensive bauble, Throk ran to Grunthar and sign up for a fighting tournament.  Arena fighters are kept sequestered until the fighting tournament, to prevent gamblers from having them injured.  The only way for the players to face Throck is to enter the tournement themselves.  My players fought him in this blog.

 Name: Timmy the Tot
Wanted Level: 12
Reward Offered: 2000 gold credits
Last Seen: Recently seen in Trasa, Grunthar, and Valos
Description: Timmy looks like a young human boy, but he is actually an adult.  He has a condition which prevents him from aging.  He uses his "cute kid" persona to con people out of money.  He is sometimes seen with a mentally-challenged man named Garn, who suffers from a severe case of giantism.
DM Notes: In a fantasy universe, Timmy and Garn are probably a halfing and half-orc.

 Name: Ursa Oso
Wanted Level: 20
Reward Offered: 5900 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Mountains
Description: Ursa grew up in the wooded mountains near Trasa, and developed a love for bears.  The bears in those woods grew accustomed to his presence, and eventually they would even follow his orders.  Whenever hunters entered those woods, Ursa and his bear friends killed them one by one.  Now Ursa is something of a local legend, the wild bear-man of the mountains, who keeps the woods clear of hunters.
DM Notes: Probably a druid, who dresses in bear furs.

 Name: Valindra Melin
Wanted Level: 18
Reward Offered: 5300 gold credits
Last Seen: Ynara Forest
Description: Valindra is a member of the Ynara Extremists, a militant group of nature protectors.  She hates to see animals harmed or even kept in captivity.  She was caught poisoning the meat supply at a prominent Alta restaurant, but she escaped.  She now lives in the forest, killing hunters one by one, but occasionally she still pops up in the major cities to cause a little havoc.
DM Notes: Another elf, similar in theme to Skyrene listed above.

Name: Victoria Vixen
Wanted Level: 42
Reward Offered: 14000 gold credits
Last Seen: Valos
Description: Vixen started out as a waitress at Eros Roddick's Pleasure Palace in Valos.  She hoarded her money until she was able to buy her way out of Valos, and became a high-paid fashion model in Alta.  For a while, she was the poster girl for Ziza's Zenzations, a Trasa-based clothing business.  Now she makes a living posing for men's holos.  She enjoys reading, raquetball, and shopping.  Her turn-ons include candlelight dinners, long walks on the beach, and men who aren't afraid to cry.
DM Notes: Victoria is basically a succubus, with a lot of charm spells.  My players faced her in this session.

I don't have portraits for the rest of these.

Name: 4Q-3000
Wanted Level: 24
Reward Offered: 6400 gold credits
Last Seen: BotCo Factory
Description: This robot was originally a BotCo series 4 war machine.  It's head, however, is from the IQ-3000 series, a prototype robot designed to use artificial intelligence combined with elements of human emotions.  The series was scrapped because the prototypes acted erratically, and the only emotions they emulated with any regularity were anger and greed.  How this head came to be placed on this body is not known.
DM Notes: My Itropa module had a lot of robots in it.  You might be able to convert these bounties to a fantasy setting using golems and such, but it's probably not worth it.

Name: Aldo
Wanted Level: 34
Reward Offered: 10000 gold credits
Last Seen: Never
Description: Aldo is yet another master thief.  He is not very strong, not very intelligent, and not very charasimatic.  He isn't very good in a fight, and by no means has anyone ever considered him a threat.  However, he does have one really good talent - he is a master at staying hidden.  He has never been seen at all, by anyone.  He could be any race, either gender, no one knows.  The only reason his existence is even known is that he always leaves a slip of paper at the crime scenes, with the words "Aldo Was Here" scrawled on it.  No one know his current whereabouts, but whereever he is, he's probably VERY hidden.
DM: This one was a parody of Where's Waldo.  He was the hardest bounty to find in the module, and I'm not sure if any of my players ever actually succeeded in finding him.

Name: Astral
Wanted Level: 19
Reward Offered: 5500 gold credits
Last Seen: Tero-Ku
Description: Astral is a high priestess of Talo-Ka, the dragon-goddess of Exotera.  She believes her natural psychic abilities are divine gifts, meant to be used to punish all nonbelievers.
DM Notes: The Itropa setting was designed around the idea that real magic doesn't exist, but a lot of characters believe in it.  So a lot of characters who were born with psychic powers but believed they had been blessed by the gods.

Name: Doomy Snorf
Wanted Level: 32
Reward Offered: 9000 gold credits
Last Seen: Peyo's Folly
Description: Nestled away in the forest, tucked away where no one can find it, lies Peyo's Folly, the snorf village.  Snorfs are simple yet secretive creatures, and don't care for outsiders.  A single snorf is weak and easy to defeat, but when they attack en masse, they can present a major problem for those who are unprepared.  But what do the snorfs (or "snorves" if you prefer) do when attacked by something very large and powerful?  They send in Doomy Snorf, who is more than capable of handling large problems.  This snorf means business.
DM Notes: One of the first easter eggs I put in Itropa was a hidden area called "Peyo's Folly", which was filled with little blue people called Snorfs. 

Name: Gludge
Wanted Level: 40
Reward Offered: 16000 gold credits
Last Seen: Sewers
Description: Gludge is a carrier of several highly-contagious deadly diseases.  He will probably be dead within the year, but in the meantime he wants to take as many people out with him as he can.  Try not to touch him with your hands.
DM Notes: You find him in the sewers, just follow the trail of dead rats.  Any PC who connects with a melee attack must make a CON check to avoid disease. 

Name: Khan Carne
Wanted Level: 41
Reward Offered: 17000 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Mountains
Description: Carne was once a wealthy Alta socialite, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and exquisite silk diapers on his rump.  Every year he and his friends took expensive vacations in exotic locations, participating in dangerous extreme sports.  From skiing in the Frozen North, to hiking across the Reswoll Desert, to running with the bullettes in the Fertilund Hills.  One year they were camping in the Kora Forest when they were attacked by Elven Extremists from Ynara.  Carne and his friends took refuge in a cave, but their attackers caused a cave-in, trapping them inside.  Carne's girlfriend was mortally wounded by the falling rocks, and the rest of the group was forced to eat her body to survive.  No one knows what else happened in that cave, but when Carne finally dug himself out, he was the only survivor.  The bodies of his friends were later found in the rubble, and all appeared to have been eaten.  Carne now has a taste for human flesh, and will eat nothing else.  Now he wanders across Charta, feeding on any human he can capture.
DM Notes: A Hannibal Lechter parody.  He wears clothing made of human skin. 

Name: Kil Stonesthrow
Wanted Level: 12
Reward Offered: 1800 gold credits
Last Seen: Mil Forest
Description: It's hard to tell because of his tiny stature, but Killian Stonesthrow was once a normal-sized elf.  He was a student at Alta's Academy of Science.  For his graduate thesis, he attempted to design a shrinking machine.  It worked, but the process only worked one way... something he learned only after he tried it on himself.  Further attempts at regaining his proper size only made him smaller.  In a fit of rage over losing his standing in the scientific community, he turned his machine on several of his peers, shrinking them into nothingness.
DM Notes: He's basically a brownie-sized elf who fights with a slingshot.  He carries a device that can cast Reduce (from the Enlarge/Reduce spell).

Name: Lifepurge.exe
Wanted Level: 33
Reward Offered: 8000 gold credits
Last Seen: Bounty Hunter Guild Holotrainer
Description: Lifepurge is a computer virus that has somehow infected the holotraining program in the Bounty Hunter Guild.  The Guild's best programmers have been trying to find a way to purge the virulent code, but until then the only way to combat it is to fight it physically, while the Holotrainer is running.  It has shown up in all of the programs at one time or another, so you will probably have to search them all in order to find it.
DM Notes: Another one that will be hard to translate into your fantasy campaign. 

Name: Lord Razer   
Wanted Level: 37
Reward Offered: 11000 gold credits
Last Seen:  Ris Kiree Temple, headed towards Valos
Description: Razer is one of the grand masters of the Ris Kiree religion.  He posesses great skill with the AeonSword, as well as incredible telekinetic abilities.  Krimson Vize and Aurra Jade were both personal students of his.  The recent captures of Vize and Jade by a member of the Bounty Hunting Guild has prompted Razer to act out with maniacal rage.  This reward has been posted by the Guild itself, to protect it's members from Razer's psychotic fury.
DM Notes: This one was made to look a bit like Darth Vader.

Name: Lucre Gold       
Wanted Level: 45
Reward Offered: 16000 gold credits
Last Seen: Various fighting arenas
Description: Lucre was once a famous fighting promoter, who made snorf-loads of money organizing fights all over Charta.  But organized fighting gradually became harder to promote.  Trasa started improving it's "historical" image, Alta decided hand-to-hand combat was brutal and built a robot arena instead, Valos patrons tended to sneak in to events rather than pay, and Grunthians only liked to work with other Grunthians.  Finally Lucre was stuck with a large roster of professional fighters, and nowhere for them to fight.  Finally he turned to crime - with a team of fighters like his, he had no trouble organizing a small criminal syndicate.
DM Notes: Lucre does not result to fighting himself, but he is always accompanied by boxers.

Name: Luminos
Wanted Level: 55
Reward Offered: 25000 gold credits
Last Seen: Trasa Outskirts
Description: This is a malfunctioning Lumobot who has been randomly killing people with bursts of electricity.  Trasa's robot guards managed to get the lumobot out of the city, but it continues to wreak havoc on the countryside.
DM Notes: In Itropa, Lumobots were small flying orbs that gave off light and delivered messages.

Name: Riith
Wanted Level: 22
Reward Offered: 6000 gold credits
Last Seen: Valos
Description: Very little is known about Riith, except that she is a cold-blooded silent killer.
DM Notes: I don't even remember.

Name: Saran Amus
Wanted Level: 37
Reward Offered: 10000 gold credits
Last Seen: Valos
Description: When Saran was a teen, she was brutally attacked and tortured by a group of male Inner Eye thugs.  She lost her right arm in the process, and gained a deep hatred for all men.  When she reached adulthood, she had what was left of her arm replaced with a robotic one, but ending in an energy cannon instead of a hand.  She then became a bounty hunter, but she would only hunt males, and she would bring them back dead more often than alive.  She was expelled from the Bounty Hunter Guild for failure to act within the rules, and now she makes a living as an assassin.
DM Notes: Surely I don't have to tell you what video game character inspired this idea.

Name: Shok Vrurk   
Wanted Level: 51
Reward Offered: 20000 gold credits
Last Seen: Grunthar
Description: Shok is the product of Grunthar's first attempt at a cybernetics program.  Unfortunately, Grunthar's scientists are not exactly rocket scientists (or even cybernetics scientists), and there were a few minor side-effects to the procedure.  For example, uncontrollable rage and an unusual amount of electric discharge.  He was last seen wandering the desert, shocking anything that got near him.
DM Notes: An electricity-themed insane guy.

Name: Sullax       
Wanted Level: 43
Reward Offered: 15000 gold credits
Last Seen: Silent Hollow
Description: Sullax received the Mark of the Dark Lord after meditating in a storm of Hellfire.  In his mind, anyway.  In actuality he was disfigured in a grilling accident, while cooking grazelle-burgers for his daughter's sixth birthday party.  He wears a skeletal mask to strike fear in the hearts of ordinary mortals, and because he's now a freaking loon.  Oh yeah, and he wants to take over the world or something.  Despite his obvious mental handicaps, however, he is not to be underestimated.  He has a very powerful psychic ability - the power to make other beings die instantly.  If you face him, make sure your mind is heavily shielded from psychic powers.
DM Notes: In Itropa, he looked like Skeletor and could be found in an old graveyard.

Name: Tekal Bort
Wanted Level: 16
Reward Offered: 2400 gold credits
Last Seen: Valos
Description: After losing his arms to frostbite while digging his way out of an avalanche, Bort borrowed money from a crime boss to pay for his new robotic arms.  He is still in debt from the surgery, and has turned to a life of crime to make the payments.  His arms enhance his strength and contain hidden weapons.

Name: Throktar        
Wanted Level: 37
Reward Offered: 12000 gold credits
Last Seen: Isla Morpha
Description: Throktar was once an Isla Muta scientist by the name of Irwin Throndork.  He was both weak and shy, and he was always getting turned down by women.  So he tried to improve his physique by going to the gym... but he kept getting beat up by the other members.  So he tried lifting weights at home... but he sprained his wrist.  So he tried steroids... but he was allergic.  So he took the next logical step... he exposed himself to a powerful radiation.  Now he is much stronger and much taller... but now the women run from him screaming.
DM Notes: He is now a huge misshapen monster.

Name: Ug
Wanted Level: 35
Reward Offered: 10000 gold credits
Last Seen: Desert
Description: Ug is the strongest barbarian in Grunthar.  Unfortunately, he is also the dumbest.  Given Grunthar's emphasis on power over intelligence, he could easily have won the annual fighting tournament and become the leader of Grunthar.  Fearing the competition, the Grag Prime Arathnon tricked Ug into self-exile, by pointing towards the desert and saying, "Look!  Candy!"  He remains there to this day.  Warning: Ug may be dumb, but he has a terrible temper.  Don't make him angry.  You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Name: Unaarn
Wanted Level: 12
Reward Offered: 1850 gold credits
Last Seen: Near Caoerovia
Description: Unaarn is a Marae Extremist who despises all other sentient life forms.  He is wanted by the governments of both Trasa and Caoerovia for destroying a Trasa building, thereby jeopardizing the already-shaky peace the two towns share. 
DM Notes: The Marae are a race of shapeshifters in Itropa.  In D&D they could probably be changelings.

Name: Vana & Vena Kai
Wanted Level: 9
Reward Offered: 1500 gold credits each
Last Seen: Tero-Ku
Description: The Kai Twins are a pair of assassins from Exotera.  They share a telepathic bond, and are rarely seen apart.  Each has been captured seperately several times, only to escape with the help of the free sister.  For this reason, reward for this bounty will only be presented if both are caught.

Name: Vraxx
Wanted Level: 28
Reward Offered: 6000 gold credits
Last Seen:
Description: Marae, personal bodyguard of Vermon.
DM Notes: Teykor Vermon is the leader of Valos.  In the Itropa module, Vraxx is the shapshifter who framed Alterra Sarr.

Name: Xox
Wanted Level: 19
Reward Offered: 4500 gold credits
Last Seen: Near Caoerovia
Description: Xox is a shapeshifting thief, who uses his abilities only for profit.  He lives only for money, and will commit any crime for the right price.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Being Yourself vs Rolling Stats

Note, this blog is not related to any current campaign or session.  Occasionally I enjoy using this blog for rambling about how I feel about different rules and systems, and this is just something that's been percolating in the back of my head for a while.

One of my fundamental beliefs when it comes to RPGs is that players should be allowed to play the character they want to play.  I hear DMs grumble about "special snowflake" players who want to run bizarre races like half-dryad/half-gnolls, and I always wonder why that bothers them so much.  This is a game of infinite possibilities, and restricting yourself to the same old races seems contrary to the point of the game, IMO.  As long as a race is balanced with the other races, and isn't offensive somehow (like parodying real life races), why should the DM care about the flavor?  We're all at the table for different reasons, and if I've always wanted to pretend I was a Dryad/Gnoll, then that's why I'm at the table.

If you find a specific player annoying because they keep playing weird things, then maybe that player isn't a good fit for your group.  It doesn't mean you're a bad DM or they're a bad player, it just means you probably don't have compatible play styles.  In my experience, it takes a certain kind of player to build a Dryad/Gnoll, and that type of player drives vanilla DMs nuts even when they run Human characters.  So maybe you're just not a good fit for each other, but don't blame the character they designed.  If you're going to let the player at your table, then let them play the character they want to play.

The DM controls about 90% of the story.  The only elements the players contribute is the actions of their own characters.  If the DM wants to dictate what type of characters they play, then maybe this game isn't for them.  That DM should just be writing a story instead, where they can control all the elements.  But D&D is a cooperative storytelling game.  Sure, the DM's the only one who knows the full plot, but everyone contributes, and the DM shouldn't be surprised if things don't go in the direction he planned.

And that's a big part of why I hate rolling stats.  There are times when I enjoy rolling everything randomly, even the class and race.  But for a long-running campaign, I want to play a character I designed from the ground up. It's an investment of my time to take a few hours out of every Saturday to drive out to the game store, and you better believe that if I go to the trouble, it's because I want to have fun.  And I don't find it fun playing a character I didn't design.

Admittedly, part of it is not wanting to get stuck with bad stats.  I don't really care about good stats, I just don't want to be stuck with a lot of 8s.  If the universe ever conspires to give me bad die rolls during a game, it will be during character generation.  That's when the Random Number Gods can do the most damage to me, because those rolls will affect me the entire campaign.  I'm not saying I'm superstitious, but I do tend to roll badly when it counts most.

And then there's fairness.  The makers of D&D put so much time into making sure all the races and classes are balanced.  You can't make Rogues "better" than Wizards (at least not in ways that are universally obvious), nor can you make Dragonborn better than Elves.  Of course people like certain combos better than others, but if any class or race is blatantly overpowered, it gets nerfed in the next errata.

And yet, in the very first session of a "roll stats" campaign, it's mathematically possible for players to create characters with huge differences in their stats.  If session one begins with the Rogue having every stat near 18, while the Wizard doesn't have a single stat above 10, who do you think is going to be the star of every following session?  It gets old when the same character outshines everybody week after week.

When our group starts a new campaign, we sometimes discuss the possibility of rolling stats.  I always argue against it, for the reasons listed above.  But while we're discussing it, several alternate methods usually come up.  For example, the "Organic Method" (4d6 drop lowest, roll in order, swap one, reroll one).  I've also looked at a bunch of different methods online, some of which were almost like calculus in their complexity, and it's gotten to the point where it's almost a berserk button for me.

Many players complain that point buy gives everyone cookie cutter stats, but my solution would be to STOP LOOKING AT EVERYONE ELSE'S STATS.  Your stats are not your character.  In any given campaign, I have no idea what all my co-players' stats are.  I know which characters are naive and which ones are crafty or lusty or cowardly or driven or simple-minded or devious, and I assume those players are playing their stats appropriately.  But if our party's Half-Orc Barbarian roleplays a low INT, I still have no idea if his INT is 3 or 9.  And I don't want to know, because my Half-Orc friend isn't a bunch of numbers to me, he's a (virtual) person.

The fact that everyone's stats are balanced is a bit like saying everyone in the party has 24 ribs, one liver, and two kidneys.  Those numbers exist under the skin, but I will never see them, nor do I wish to.  For the people who think "point buy ruined the game", what part of the game do they think it ruined?  How did it affect roleplay, really?  I've heard many older DMs make the complaint, but I have yet to see one make a convincing argument for how it hurt the game.  It might have made the game a little less deadly, but that's a feature, not a bug.  (I could write a whole other blog on how I feel about hardcore "killer" DMs.)

Now... all that said.  If I were to play a "roll stats" campaign, what would be my preferred method?

One of my biggest problems with 4d6 (even if you drop the lowest), is that the minimum is 3.  I don't believe a playable humanoid should have any stat below an 8.  To me, that would represent subhumanoid levels, or some sort of physical handicap.  I could see it working for specific character concepts or for certain types of campaigns, but for basic D&D it just bothers me.

So my preferred rolling method would be (*drumroll please*)... 2d6+6, no rerolls, put your stats where you want.  It's simple, and it gives you a minimum of 8, so no handicaps.  The average is slightly higher - 4d6 has an average of 10.5, while 2d6+6 gives you an average of 13.  But 4d6 has you dropping the lowest to weed out bad die rolls, while my method would require you keep the bad rolls.

I've tested it by rolling a bunch of sample stats using each method.  After 25 test rolls, 4d6 (drop lowest) gave me an average of 12.6, while 2d6+6 gave me an average of 12.8.  (Note that standard array has an average of 12.)  The only real difference was that my method didn't yield anything under 8.  Now, I could have just gotten some lucky rolls when doing my tests, and maybe someday when I'm bored I'll sit down and do 100 of each method.  But from what I've seen so far, I'd say it's close enough that it won't break the game.

But again, that's only if I were to run a "roll stats" campaign, which is highly unlikely.

Monday, June 26, 2017

15 Years Later - Remembering NeverWinter Nights

In mid-2002, I was looking for a new RPG to play.  Luckily two had recently been released, and both were getting decent reviews.  So I had to make a choice between Morrowind and NeverWinter Nights.  I chose Morrowind, probably due to its graphics and open-world gameplay.  I never actually beat it, but I played through tons of sidequests and spent months playing with the toolset.  When I finally got sick of Morrowind, I found a cheap copy of NeverWinter Nights and picked it up.  And I have to say, despite having more primitive graphics and a less exciting control scheme… it really was a much better game.

The main quest was just… there, but where the game really shined was the toolset.  For most computer games, if they include a toolset at all, it’s an afterthought.  While a lot of popular games have a modding community, those modders are often part-time programmers who have a working knowledge of writing code.  But NeverWinter Nights made it so easy to create worlds that anyone could do it.  You could literally build a playable dungeon in 5 minutes.

It was an incredible tool for dungeon masters.  If you knew your friends were going to be online, you could spend a few minutes making a dungeon, then host it with your DM Client, and have your players join the server.  Then you could join as the DM, and narrate a story for them to play through.  You had the power to drop enemies, items, and other objects at will.  And that was just using the easy functions.

Once you developed a little more skill with the toolset, you could add scripts and triggers that meant the module no longer needed a DM.  You could even leave it running, and areas and would reset after a while, making it more like actual MMOs.  Players could come and go as they pleased, getting quests from NPCs and farming XP in the wilds.  Hundreds of persistent worlds were hosted, listed in categories like “Story” and “Action”, so if you didn’t like one world you could just try another.

Unfortunately, having hundreds of choices just made it harder to find one of high quality.  Rather than randomly trying different modules on the server, it was probably better to head to one of the NWN websites, where many of the persistent worlds were listed and given user ratings.  But I didn’t know that at first, and so it was very lucky that I managed to find a good one on my first try.

The first persistent world I tried was called The Silver Marches.  It was a large world, with many areas to explore.  It had a lot of scripted quests, and encounters that would reset every few minutes, so you didn’t need a DM online to find something to do.  It had a lot of DM-led events, though they were usually at times I wasn’t online.  It encouraged players to stay in character at all times, in order to keep things immersive. 

I made several friends on that server, and had a lot of great times.  I’d played in plenty of MUDs and other online games, but this was the first time I played one where people stayed in character.  It was the first time I played a game where I felt like I really was the character.   Unfortunately, the “stay in character” thing was both a blessing and a curse.  I eventually ran into some problems with the management.  They had a lot of strict ideas about what constituted good roleplay, and while I was never specifically on the receiving end of the banhammer, I spent a lot of time watching the DMs harassing other players for dumb reasons.

So I left.  I spent a fair amount of time on a few other servers for a while, but none of them really held my interest like The Silver Marches.   Finally I got it in my head that if I wanted something done right, I’d have to do it myself.  I decided to make my own module.  I’ve already written at length about Itropa, so I’ll spare you all the minute details of the module.  If you like, you can read this blog about the NWN module, or this blog about my PnP version.  I hosted Itropa for about two years (I think), and had a lot of loyal players.  I can’t say it a huge success, but at its peak it sometimes had about 30 simultaneous players, which was pretty impressive at the time.

Eventually someone else offered to host it for a while, so I took that opportunity to work on another module.  It was called “Fairies Vs Dragons”, oddly enough based on a chess set I once saw.  During character creation, players could choose from several types of the title creatures, and were restricted from visiting certain areas of the world based on their race.  Roughly one third of the world was Dragon only, another third was Fairy only, and the middle ground was full PvP.  Whenever I would add a new area to the Fairy side, I would  add a similar sized area to the Dragon side.  It was like creating two mods at once.

FvD did not prove to be as popular as Itropa, but it still had a player base.   Later I reskinned FvD into a roleplay module called Fairy Haven.  Shortly after that I had to give up hosting due to bandwidth issues.  And then a few years later, all the servers closed for good.  (There are still ways to play online, but it's a lot less user friendly.)  You can still buy NWN with its expansion packs included for cheap, but its biggest selling point is now gone.  Hopefully a future licensed D&D product will use similar techniques for quick module creation and hosting, but with MMOs being a lot more profitable, I won’t hold my breath.

Rest in peace, NWN. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

OAWYM: A Climactic Battle

Game Date: 6/24/2017
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: OAWYM, Session 32
Module: Scourge of the Slave Lords
System: D&D 5e
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Byzun (Gary) - Human Sorcerer
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Karzen (Daniel) - Eladrin Artificer
Ulmack (Gary) - Halfling Monk
Val Ravensword (Matt) - Half-Orc Paladin
Velris (Graham) - Half-Elf Warlock
Xevrick (Graham) - Elf Mystic

The Session:
Last week we escaped our captors, but we weren't out of the woods yet.  Separated from our equipment, we made our way through a burning town of escaping slaves.  We equipped ourselves with the armor and weapons of some slaver guards.  There was one way out - a vessel manned by several high-ranking slavers.

Xevrick was absent last session, and it turns out that he'd been sold to a drow, to be her pet.  The drow and Xevrick were on the ship, along with a monk, a thief, a cleric, a mage, a half-orc assassin, and a few more enemies.  There were more foes on the docks, including an armored ogre.  We came up with a few possible plans.

We decided to take out the magic users first.  We used some invisibility scrolls we'd found last session to sneak on board.  Val and Karzen headed for the cleric, while Byzun and Halfbeard headed for the mage.  Most of us made some pretty good stealth checks, but Byzun tripped and turned a few heads.  We rolled initiative, and most of our party rolled badly.

The drow went first, casting Faerie Fire in the area around Byzun.  The cleric then cast a Zone of Silence in the same area.  Xevrick went next, hitting his drow boss with a psychic blast and causing her to lose concentration the Faerie Fire.  The mage turned himself invisible before Halfbeard and Byzun could reach them.

The cleric used a powerful Earth Dragon channel divinity power, which took out all of Karzen's hit points.  The drow used a levitation power on Xevrick, but it ended up doing more good than harm.  Xevrick fired off a spell downwards at the drow, the monk, and the assassin.  It killed the monk and the drow, ending the levitation.

The mage cast a spell on Val, causing her to see a large bat-like monster.  The ogre made his way onto the ship, and beat Xevrick down to zero.  The cleric teleported away, using a Word of Recall spell.  After all this time Halfbeard was still invisible, and closed in on the mage.  Halfbeard rolled well, used his action surge, and took out the mage in one turn.

We noticed that the dockside guards were busy fighting off more slaves, and things were starting to look up.  Then Byzun went down.  Val healed Karzen, and Halfbeard finished off the ogre.  Val killed the half-orc assassin, and started looking for more allies to heal.  Unfortunately, both Xevrick and Byzun had failed three death saves before she could reach them.  Halfbeard killed the final enemy, ending the battle.

About fifteen slaves (including Dame Gold) joined us on the ship, and we sailed away.  Our lost possessions were in the cargo hold, so we reequipped ourselves, leveled up, and took a much needed long rest.  Xevrick's and Byzun's players rolled up new characters, who were among the slaves we rescued.  Ulmac the halfling monk and Velris the half-elf warlock officially joined the party.

The geography of this island is weird and I'm not sure I really understand it.  Apparently the island is inside a giant volcano.  We sailed our ship to the outer edge of the volcano, left the ship, and headed for the tunnels that hopefully exit the volcano.  There were about eighty guards in the tunnels, so we discussed other possible plans for a while.  We could possibly use a Plane Shift spell, or fly people out the top of the volcano one at a time.

But we figured it was our mission to destroy the slavers, so we might as well go with the plan that kills the most of them.  We decided to confront the guard tunnel head on.  We faced a gigantic door surrounded by arrow slits.  Velris invisibly approached the gates and peeked through the arrow slits.  He saw two worried guards discussing recent events.  He killed them through the arrow slits using Warlock spells, then used a Passwall spell to open a hole in the wall.

We charged the gate, going through the opening and killing everyone within.  There were about fifteen enemies, but half of them were lined up in a row, making them a perfect target for a Lightning spell.  These enemies were very outclassed and we had no trouble finishing the rest off.  We ended the session right after the battle, but we could hear reinforcements approaching from down the hall.  We'll have to deal with that next week.