Monday, December 29, 2014

The Lords and Lady of Steel Keep!

I don't have a lot of time, so this is going to be a short and sweet write-up of last Saturday's session.  8 players!  Unfortunately, I only remembered to take a picture after half the party had skedaddled.

There was plenty of fresh blood.  One new to tabletop RPGs, another new to 5e, and the other two seemed pretty familiar with it all and I remembered them playing in a game I ran a few months back.  Here are the new PCs...

  • Anders - human ranger taking time out from his family to do some adventuring.
  • Alton - halfling cleric who worships The Devourer - but only because he thought his deity really liked to eat tasty baked goods and other halfling treats.  
  • Miliken - a gnome druid who has a strange, arcane past.
  • Kildrak - a dwarf fighter: tough, muscle-bound, and really good with a great sword.

The previous adventurers made level 2 while the new characters started at level 1.

Alison bought a Player's Handbook and some pretty dice before the session (gaming at a game store has its advantages), along with pizza and soda for the group.  Kudos to her!

The new king, Jeremiah, gave the old party titles of lord and lady before proffering a castle on the northern border of Steel Haven.  Castle Steel Keep was empty (except for goblin-kind) and waiting for them to occupy it and keep that area of the kingdom safe from invaders.

As DM, I prompted the veterans with the idea of seeking adventurers to compliment their dwindling party.  They opted to put up a flyer near a city tavern.  Each new PC came and introduced themselves to the group, in one form or another.

I pulled my "mauvelous" gag.  Incidentally, I didn't want to look up a random gnome name for this trickster in the PHB, so I just told them it was a strange gnomish name they forgot as soon as they heard it.  Since Miliken was there, the party introduced them so they could find out his name.  About to crack open the PHB, someone suggested an enchantment - as soon as he speaks his name, everyone forgets it right away.  Laziness and ingenuity happily coincide!

Instead of taking things one step too far, the purple-infatuated trickster refused to reveal important information about the fiery blade Akmenos wielded.  Because of Akmenos' stinginess, he left the city without a wand of healing or secret knowledge about his flame sword.

The PCs didn't get too far before noticing a caravan that had gone off the road.  Investigation met with hobgoblins and the session's first combat.  Keeping all the details in our head was a little difficult.  Miniatures would have been handy.  I might go that route soon, but my reluctance is born of not wanting the game to descend into the drawn-out miniature battles of 3rd and 4th edition.

The castle was pretty much a straight-up borrowing of the Starter Set's cragmaw castle.  The party came up with a variety of plans to infiltrate Steel Keep.  I probably should have beefed up security and the challenges within but also wanted to reward the adventurers for good tactics.  They took the castle without more than a minor injury or two.  Though, afterwards, Akmenos fell unconscious after a grick pummeled him with its tentacle and then gouged him with its beak.  

Beneath Steel Keep was a pool of fire that recharged "Penelope" Flame Tongue.  That goes back to the nameless gnome.  However, there's more to the sword than that.  Such things (including another visit by the mauvelous gnome) will be revealed this Saturday.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Reviews for Revelry in Torth

There's a riveting read over at Nemo's Lounge.  He's got some good points.  I appreciate Joel's constructive criticism and infectious enthusiasm!

Each one of my projects is a learning experience but that's part of what makes it fun.

Happy gaming,


Monday, December 22, 2014

Welcome to Steel Haven 5e

I had this past Saturday free, and you know what that means - roleplaying games!

Since my former gaming group was drastically reduced, I decided to publicly announce a one-shot using the new D&D through my local meetup.  A few veterans I've gamed with before, a couple total noobs that had never played D&D before, much less a tabletop RPG, and a couple people familiar with the hobby but either hadn't played D&D in years or only played sporadically.  The gamut, in other words.

I enjoy sessions where I'm playing with friends or, at least, gaming acquaintances, sessions where mine is their first exposure to RPGs, and everything in between.

Short on time, as usual, I decided to just pick out an adventure I had run before... but then an idea came to me a day before the game.  A kingdom called Steel Haven, ruled by an affable tyrant with a magic sword.  Think Sean Connery when he's being a dick, a charismatic dick but a dick all the same.  That idea churned around in my head until a list of 12 rumors, each with a piece of the puzzle manifested onto paper.

Since all three core books are out and in my hands, choosing 5th edition was a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, character creation still took an hour.  I need to sit down and come up with a Swords & Wizardry approach to rolling up a new character in 5e.  Something ridiculously simple where the emphasis is on background details, personality, and physical appearance without shortchanging players regarding options, abilities, and mechanical nuance.

Even though I spent the briefest of time writing up a scenario, I managed to cobble together a 1d100 list of past events over a period of two weeks.  I really, really wanted to finish my random table before the game and finally write the last couple Saturday morning.

Inspired by the 1d20 table in Crypts & Things, I spent many hours coming up with cool stuff that might have happened to PCs before they began their adventuring career.  And like the aforementioned S&W variant, each entry is tied to a little something special.  For instance, Chris, who ended up playing the cleric,, rolled a #51:  On his deathbed, a cleric devoted to the Dark Gods gave away all his worldly possessions.  By the time you arrived, all that was left was an ink-stained, multi-page letter the cleric had received years ago.  The letter was from a Master of the Fourth Way, detailing the arduous struggles involved in achieving higher consciousness.  [to the right buyer (perhaps a monk or NPC interested in esotericism), this brief manuscript would be worth something in the neighborhood of 500 gold pieces]

Here's the list of PCs...

Erdan, elf rogue played by Ethan.  Erdan, a former soldier, lived in a large colony of elves and struck out on his own trying to find meaning in life.

Lilah, a half-elf sorceress played by Alison.  Though her mother was born into a wealthy family, they were considered outcasts because of that elven business.  Alison wanted to keep going but came up short in description, even though I could tell there was more to Lilah than what had been said.  After a little prompting, Alison volunteered the following:  Lilah has body markings like tribal tattoos, platinum blonde hair, and purple eyes (hence her name).

Fergus, a gnome cleric.  He had been studying at the temple of life when the head cleric died.  Based on the previous life event Chris rolled, Fergus received a letter of esoteric value and his motivation for leaving the temple became the quest for clarity of this knowledge.  Also, Fergus has an incredibly deep voice (for a gnome).

Funk, a human monk played by another Chris.  Funk was well educated and wanted to hone his martial abilities out in the wild.
Iondan Elenvier, an elf wizard played by Mike.  Iondan puts a lot of emphasis on appearances but for some reason looks disheveled and sleep deprived.

Reed Tealeaf, a halfling rogue played by Daniel.  Reed loves people and an audience.  He plays a flute and enjoys adventuring long forgotten places, going places he's not supposed to, and taking things he can't resist.

Akmenos, a tiefling warlock played by West.  Self-described as Darth Maul, Akmenos has demonic horns, teeth, red eyes, and reddish skin.  He feels out of his element and carries a shortbow and light armor.

I won't go into too much detail about the adventure itself because (like the previous life events table), I intend to publish it some day.  But here are some session highlights...

  • Assembling all the PCs in one place.  The cleric really wanted to detect evil and tried to do it discretely but the tiefling would have none of it.  Akmenos saw it and interrupted Fergus' prayer.  I really think 5e has a good thing going with anti-hero PC races.  Tieflings and drow allow players to come alive with their "rebel without a cause" or "misanthropic and proud of it" portrayals.
  • So, the king wants another magic sword, eh?  Alison hatched a great plan just by thinking out loud.  While in town, she asked a couple women in the local tavern about where to buy things.  The women mentioned a general store and another to purchase antiques and such.  Why not buy an antique sword and pass it off as the magic blade we were paid to retrieve?  
  • Reed played his flute and sang at the tavern, a composition that looked unfavorably at the new king of Steel Haven.  Most patrons found it amusing which told him a lot about the kingdom.
  • Fergus did some digging at the town's church.  He found out a little more info about the adventurers who passed this way before the current party was hired.  And acquired a magic ring!
  • The first combat went well.  Goblins and a surprising NPC hiding in the shadows!  There were two uses of the new advantage and disadvantage rule in this battle.  For both, I gave each player the option to choose my O5R alternative, but both declined - which was interesting to me because it implied that rolling 2d20 and taking the best was preferable to +4 while rolling 2d20 and taking the worst was preferable to -4.  In any case, I was excited to use the mechanic in any form.
  • By the way, I used one of the maps at the back of the new DMG for the emerald mine caverns.  Added a rope-bridge across the chasm.  With goblins dispatched, it was an enjoyable trek.  There was a chance for the rumored amorphous, black, tentacled abominations to interfere with the party as they crossed the bridge but the dice had other plans.
  • A few zombies and some necromantic priest wearing a skull mask were no match for the adventurers.  So much, in fact, that I had to invent a ring of tentacles erupting out of the ground to protect the magic sword from being taken so easily.  The tentacles slowed them down but still wasn't much of a challenge.
  • I hastily searched for an interesting magic sword in the DMG but couldn't find anything that grabbed me... so, picked the flame tongue.  The tiefling was all over it.  I whispered as an aside that it's command word was "Penelope".  Though I was joking, West decided to run with it and shouted Penelope as he wielded flame tongue like a sith lord!
  • Agreeing that the king was truly a douche, the PCs put Lilah's plan into action.  With another cry of "Penelope", king Torvil Lionheart's decapitated head rolled around the throne room aflame.  

I was happy to read positive feedback after the session.  Not knowing if I'd be free and if Misty Mountain would be open 2 days after xmas, I didn't mention a follow-up game until yesterday.  Turns out, I was available and so was the game store, so we're continuing with a part 2, though a couple players won't be able to make it because of holiday commitments.  

Note to self: remember to mention (and explain) inspiration at the beginning of next session and to give everyone a point.  Since both Alison and West were the most pro-active and colorful characters of the game, I'm tempted to give both of them an extra point of inspiration.  However, I don't want that to take away from what the other players accomplished.  Since Akmenos has the sword, maybe I'll come up with a customized magic item or reward for Lilah.  Although, I want each player to have something awesome by the end of session #2.  Thoughts?

Will blog about part 2 after Saturday.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Movies

It's been awhile since I did a top 10 list for movies.  So, here's another.  The theme: guilty pleasures!

Now, some people just don't get this concept.  Why feel any kind of guilt at all about watching something you enjoy?  Well, it's complicated.  While I don't actually feel bad or dirty watching a fun movie, I know these aren't the best films. Sometimes, they aren't even good films.

If a friend came up to me and said, "Hey, Venger, Tango & Cash is pretty cheesy, full of imperfections, and just plain not good."  I probably wouldn't argue with him.  After all, mine is a minority report, a love letter to lost films and obscure half-great almost-epics that never found traction... or an appreciative, mainstream audience.  Nevertheless, the following films are quite enjoyable, despite their less than stellar appearance and tarnished reputation.

The list goes from best to worst.  Ok, here we go...  WAIT!!!  Before we begin, I just want to say something.  Prompted by all the wonderful comments I've so far received, let me clarify this:  I like all these movies.  I think they're cool.  A few I even love and don't personally feel guilty watching them, nor would I place them in my top 10 best films of any genre.  So, even though I enjoy these 10 (12, actually), the mainstream movie-watching public has deemed each and every one of these films mediocre or kinda-sorta good but not worth viewing more than once (let alone dozens of times).

Alright, now that's out of the way...

1.  Big Trouble in Little China: (reverse this pick with #2 if you're a child of the 90's rather than the 80's).  There's something about the gonzo flavor of this flick that just makes me smile.  I love John Carpenter's early and middle work.  Super cool special effects with the magic and creatures.  I love the costumes, makeup, fast-pace, acting, and one-liners.  Even the subterranean neon gets a free pass, it just works even though it shouldn't.  I've probably seen this film around 15 times and it keeps getting better.

I recently found a muscle-shirt like the one Kurt Russell wears in most of this movie.  Can't wait to wear it this spring!

2.  From Dusk 'Till Dawn:  I was living in New Mexico when this came out.  Young, friendless, living with my parents who just re-located to Santa Fe / Albuquerque, and working a series of meaningless part-time jobs just to fill the void... movies are what kept me going.  Driving to the video store to rent awesome VHS tapes like Subspecies, going to the indie theater on Central to see great films like The Last Seduction, and visiting the big theater to watch From Dusk 'Till Dawn and the re-release of Heavy Metal was what kept me going, kept me sane enough to get through that bleak period.  Visiting a goth/industrial nightclub a couple times a month helped, too.

Besides nostalgia, I think the film plays with our expectations.  The 180 the film did was inspired in my view.  If memory serves, I believe I went on a total of one date while I was living in NM, and I took her to see this film.   It was my second viewing of Dusk 'Till Dawn.  I loved it even more the 2nd time.  She hated it and I never wanted to see her again.  So, should it be in the "all-time great" list rather than guilty pleasures?  I think most critics and audiences alike sealed this gem's fate long ago.  Am I wrong?

3.  Basic Instinct:  Ah, socially acceptable soft-core porn for the masses!  This seemed like Deep Throat for the early 90's.  It opened a few doors for imitators and flesh-peddling provocateurs who came later, but you wouldn't know it watching films from the last decade.  Good luck seeing boobs in a movie circa 2009, buddy!

Anyway, good story, solid acting, cool mood/lighting/aesthetic.  If you've never seen it, watch it.  Though not with your parents.  Also, this might be an uncomfortable first date movie unless your with a girl who's DTF (as the Jersey Shore called it).

4.  Body Double:  I recently re-watched this for the 11th time with my wife.  She kind of enjoyed it and saw why I liked it so much, but couldn't get into it that much.  I expected such an outcome.  Seeing it again through her eyes (that's the blessing and curse of watching a favorite movie with someone who's never seen it before), I realized that I probably come off as a perverted, voyeuristic, porn-loving freak.  Guess the guy who writes/draws Cinema Sewer and I have a lot in common.

Weird question:  did Body Double somehow inspire or make Basic Instinct possible?  Short blonde hair, sexual exhibitionist, self-confident and no-nonsense with a sense of humor.  Hmm... inquiring degenerates want to know.

Aside from all that, I dig the Hitchcock vibe, the music video for "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and the acting.  Bonus: Barbara Crampton has a cameo as the cheating girlfriend.  Re-Animator is far too awesome to be just a guilty pleasure.  It rules, I tells ya!

Though I think Body Double is a great film, there are silly parts (the Mexican) and parts that drag (Craig Wasson following the brunette).  BTW, when was the last time you saw a film with Craig Wasson in it?  He did a lot of cool things in the 80's.  Is it because he's not conventionally super handsome (sorry, Craig.  It takes one to know one)?  Or maybe he died?  Nope, just checked.  He's still kicking.

5.  Starship Troopers:  It's got the violence, cool scifi, and weird socio-political propaganda without desiring to be taken seriously.  In fact, I believe it was specifically filmed so you can't.  But without respect, the film still has lots of awesome going for it.  You won't be bored.  Plus, bugs are gross.  Kill 'em all!

6.  Con Air:  Some probably take this film as gold.  Others can't help but see it as B movie trash.  I say, why not both?  It's got some great talent, excellent performances, and a plot so ludicrously stupid-awesome that it's hard to beat.  Three words:  Nicholas Cage vehicle!  Say no more.

7.  The Devil's Advocate:  It feels like you're watching yet another lawyer drowning in corruption story, but it's so much more.  It's a supernatural thriller and morality tale and engrossing courtroom drama all wrapped into one.  The scene with Al Pacino at the end really brings it home.  Plus, an unexpectedly (at that time) great performance by Charlize Theron.  I believe it was her first major film role.

8.  Demolition Man:  Sylvester Stallone was becoming a cliched action-hero joke by 1993.  But this over-the-top scifi film costarring Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock doesn't take itself too seriously.  Some neat ideas of what the future might look like; shades of dystopia give it a weird realism you wouldn't expect.

9.  Tango & Cash:  Great chemistry from Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.  Again, it's an action movie cliche but the cheesiness works somehow.  Stumble upon this while you're channel surfing and chances are you'll start watching it for a minute.  That'll turn into 10 minutes and before you know it, you've been watching it for an hour.  It's addictive machismo fluff that looks good for its age.  Jack Palance as the maniacal villain?  Perfect casting!

10.  A three-way tie between:  Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, and John Carpenter's Vampires:  Yeah, I couldn't decide, so #10 is a menage-e-trois of good/bad horror comedies from the 90's.  Demon Knight is probably the best of the three.  It's more dark and serious than comedic, but there are times when it goes for laughs rather than scares.  And unlike Evil Dead 2, those laughs are more cringe-inducing than hilarious.  Still... give it up for Billy Zane.  The rest of the cast is pretty good, too.

Bordello of Blood is the almost completely unrelated sequal to Demon Knight.  It's actually funny thanks to Dennis Miller and not really scary at all.  I can't remember any good blood-letting scenes.  However, I do recall some boob-baring bordello action with squirt guns filled with holy water (or maybe that's just From Dusk 'Till Dawn - will have to watch it again).  So, it's a little sexy, a little funny, and not really horrifying (like, at all!).  But enjoyably cheesy.

Cunningham wake, anyone?

John Carpenter's Vampires... John Carpenter, what happened?  You used to be my favorite director of all time.  This is the last decent JC film, in my view.  It's got some cool moments.  I think the antagonist vampire is great.  But all his minions?  Beyond forgettable.  I love James Woods and the priest, but that Baldwin guy has too much screen time for my taste.  And his blonde, dysfunctional girlfriend/prisoner gets on my nerves after awhile.  This film seems like 2 or 3 films stitched together.  It needed to take a step back in order to re-work the script, do some re-shoots, and then better editing.  As it is, definitely worth seeing once.  And a handful of times if it's on TV late at night or you just like guilty pleasure residue same as me.

Was this worth the three hours it took to create this blog post?  Probably not, but what can I say?  I love bad movies, so long as they've got something inside them to love.  Give me a hot mess over universal blockbuster any day.

Got something to say?  Maybe I left off your favorite guilty pleasure or included one that you think shouldn't be there?  Want to virtually pat me on the back, kick me in the balls (again, virtually), or ask me questions about some film or another?  Feel free to comment and happy viewing!


p.s.  This, I believe, was my last top 10 movie list.

p.p.s.  Want to see the ultimate guilty pleasure movie?  It's here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Revelry on

Just found the Amazon/CreateSpace proof in my mailbox.  Guess it came yesterday without my knowing.  Usually, they leave large and/or awkward packages upon my front door or in the garage.  Luckily, it wasn't damaged by shoving it in and then back out of the mailbox.

Anyway, the proof looks awesome!  I just approved it.  That means a softcover is immediately available on CreateSpace and it'll be 3 - 5 days before Revelry in Torth shows up on amazon.

Now that I know Amazon is covered, I'm 99% sure DriveThru's print version files will also be OK.  However, I'd feel like a real jackass if I approved that shit before actually seeing the proof and then found out that DriveThru somehow mishandled it or there was an error created by Lightning Source's interpretation of the files.  So, probably another week on that.

Still waiting on reviews.  All I've been able to find is a 5 star "Nice job, Venger!" on DriveThru and a longer, so-so review over here.  I considered writing a tit for tat rebuttal of his analysis, but realized that probably wouldn't be very productive.  Not that Merric doesn't have valid points, just that his expectations are probably a bit off in regards to my style, how I write, how I GM, etc.  And what he said about my short short story seemed kind of mean-spirited.

My work is somewhere between my personal adventure notes (before, during, and after sessions) and what a big RPG company usually puts out, like Wizards of the Coast or Pathfinder.  Those expecting more of the latter will most likely be disappointed.  As mentioned in Liberation and Purple, I've put 85% of what's required to successfully run a mini-campaign on an aesthetically pleasing platter (you should see the horrendous scribbles from my actual session notes!), it's for individual GMs to add their personal 15%.  The combination is what makes it magical.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Concluding the Temple of Elemental Evil

Yes, it is finished.  Faced with the distinct possibility of going out with a whimper, I always prefer a bang, instead.  My home gaming group was disintegrating before me, my only hope was to conclude The Temple of Elemental Evil next session.  That being last Saturday, I have a session report for you...

  • Prior to the session's start, Daniel (playing Sir Basil) explained his odd behavior last session.  Taken aback by Xar's disregard for human life, Sir Basil uncomfortably "went along with" proceedings even though the holy knight had deep reservations about slitting the throat of that woman cultist/vessel encountered last time.  Basil decided against confronting Xar for the sake of party cohesion and the greater quest of dispatching the foul remnants of the temple.
  • As there was a player shortage, the extra characters who didn't have players to run them (X'fritl and Tidillo, specifically) simply vanished before the remaining characters' eyes.  Left with nothing more than a faint, disembodied evil laugh, the "survivors" marched forward to the unexplored areas of the 3rd level.
  • Having an hour's preparation, I planned for two special things, unique aspects of my own devising that would make the Temple stand out... that would make it truly mine.  
  • 1) a hexagonal room with six doors.  Four of them led to a jungle.  Upon opening those doors, the PCs saw bits of dungeon floor and walls here and there, slowly giving way to an entirely new environment - a mysterious jungle.  Just in case they got curious or needed a break from the dungeon crawl, I provided an escape.  Those doors led to none other than the islands of purple-haunted putrescence.  After their discovery, the players opted not to venture out into the jungle.  That was fine by me, though I had my book full of weird science-fantasy encounters handy just in case.
  • 2) towards the end, I wanted a couple of dimensional travelers to interrupt the party's progress.  We'll get to that later.
  • A powerful demon guarded this section of the dungeon.  One or more PCs could have died, but near-constant magic missiles and Sir Basil's frostbrand made short work of him.
  • More prisoners discovered:  human, humanoid, and elf.  One of the elves became the party thief.  The rest just wanted to go home or stay in the dungeon.
  • An illusion made for interesting combat as the characters were almost totally taken-in by were-jackals.
  • A bronze pit for a bugbear was easily scouted by Markus the ragged - a templar revenant who joined the party last session.  The revenant is a character class provided in FH&W.  Tricky to play and DM, I let a lot of stuff fly that wasn't specially mentioned in the rule book.  
  • A potentially huge encounter with bugbears, ogres, and a hill giant was cut short by Xar's well-placed fireball.  
  • Some evocative and Lovecraftian descriptions provided a dank and dreary atmosphere - perfect for dungeoneering.  
  • Stairways showed level 4 having collapsed some time ago.  That kept everyone on level 3 where the action was.  This being the last session, it made sense.

  • Finally, a purple throne, an inner-sanctum, and a towering spider demon with cyclopean 9th eye shooting burning rays of fire.  Luckily, two out of the three PCs wore rings of fire resistance.  I got most of the stats from Fiend Folio and converted the rest to be the big bad at the temple's end.  When not using its eye ray, it had four attacks.  I pulled out all the descriptive stops for this one.  I mentioned the viscera and slimy entrails yanked out of its abdomen when Sir Basil scored a critical hit - max damage on both dice!  When he finally struck it down, after almost dying (luckily he had a potion of extra healing), I detailed its severed head twitching and wounds oozing a yellow-green substance, etc.  There was nearly an hour left after the creature's destruction.
  • Back to Vengerizing the temple, the party decided to rest up before looting the spider demon's treasure.  Nothing happened while they slept.  Upon waking, however, the party heard voices and clanging noises coming from the inner-sanctum (they slept in the throne room adjacent).  They investigated.  Two humans and a magic portal.  The humans told of their mission - to retrieve a sacred object containing the essence or soul of their unpronounceable god.  Using one of the special abilities of his class, Sir Basil detected that the god contained within the silver container was evil.  The party forced the two dimensional travelers to give up the container.  Before leaving through the portal, they promised to return... with reinforcements.  
  • This led to an amusing, though brief, chase through the third level.  The PCs hid in a large crack where they left off at the end of last session.  After a DM reminder (I usually refrain from that sort of thing, but couldn't resist), Xar used his limited wish scroll to destroy the evil god trapped in the silver vessel.  Not finding any easy loopholes, his wish was granted.  And not having any way to see if their god was still in the container, the dimensional intruders took back the container.
  • Amongst the spider demon's horde of gold and gemstones, the PCs claimed a dragon orb and a few other random magic items from the 1st edition DMG.  At that point, they marched back up to the surface, away from the misery-infused stone of this particular dungeon.  
  • Not that it mattered, but everyone leveled before going home.

I was pleased with this session and The Temple of Elemental Evil as a whole.  However, I'm confident that next time I run it, things will go three times as awesome!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Revelry in Torth PDF

Despite my attempts to schedule the PDF release of Revelry in Torth a few days from now, DriveThru thought fit to put it up for sale ahead of time.  Who knows, maybe I forgot how to use a calender?  Anyways, it's live now.

Ed and I are still working on the print files for Amazon/CreateSpace and DriveThruRPG.  Will post about those when they're squared away.

Thanks again to all the Kickstarter backers who supported this project.  I hope everyone finds many things to enjoy.  Happy gaming!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Physical Fitness (monthly progress report) #2

Gaaaahhhh!  Not that happy with my progress... if you can even call it that.  This picture sucks, too.  I weighed in at 186 this morning.  Of course, it didn't help that half a dozen birthdays and two Thanksgiving feasts (plus leftovers) were part of November.  Also, the wife and I actually got to see a movie!  In the theater!!!  And I had a gift card that practically begged me to buy a large buttered popcorn and mountain dew.

Anyways, enough excuses.  This month I've got to get even more serious.  Because another weigh in and photo like this in January will just be fucking embarrassing.

On the plus side, I believe my strength is going up.  Definitely squats.  On the others it's hard to tell because I'm cycling between heavy weight with low reps and lighter weight with high reps.  Next month I'll start writing down some of my lifting numbers.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Do you DMG 5e?

I think I already know the answer to this one.  I'm pretty sure.  However, I've been wrong before.  Lots of times.  At least a few d20s worth.

So here's my question for those who don't already own it or have it on order from amazon or some other retailer:  If one is to believe the countless glowing reviews for 5e's Dungeon Master's Guide (consensus states this DMG is the best out of all three 5e core books, as well as, being fantastic in its own right), are you more likely to buy it now or in the near future (did you just purchase it a day or two ago because of favorable reviews)?

And for those who currently own it or have it coming do you think you're more likely to use it in your current and/or future campaigns?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Evil Elements in the Temple

We finally got to resume our dungeon crawl through the Temple of Elemental Evil (see here for last session).  Below is a bullet-point snapshot of what went down...

  • Harold returned to the fold.  For awhile there, he was spending every weekend with his girlfriend Carrie.  Luckily, there was space at the table because he brought her to play with us.  She'd never played D&D before but had played Changeling.  Not sure exactly how that happens, but ok.  Carrie played Melanie's character: X'fritl.
  • There was a moment where I thought I'd lost everyone's character sheet (again!).  Thankfully, they were tucked in some RPG book upstairs.
  • We all went through a re-cap and re-introduction because it had been so damned long since the last time.
  • Monsters were killed (owlbears, bugbears, trolls, etc.) and humanoid cultists were either tricked or hypnotized.  Speaking of evil priests, I changed a few things around so that one of the lesser head priests had just murdered the high priest of that level in order to have his way with a nubile envoy from another temple.  It was an interesting diversion for a minute... until both their throats were slit.
  • Sure enough, the party wanted to descend into the 3rd level of the dungeon before they'd cleared out the 2nd.  Not having read that far ahead, I did my best to wing it.  Either porting parts from the 2nd level to the 3rd or reading the boxed text for the first time... aloud to the players.  At least there was only an hour of game time left by the time they explored that 3rd level.
  • Fire's a bitch.  A temple space devoted to the elemental evil of fire contained several salamanders which took awhile to kill.  Kaazor took another PC's life.  Harold's old character Verdilo was chewed up and spit out (or possibly swallowed).  
  • After the salamanders, an iron box containing a super-powerful magic sword was discovered and went to Sir Basil, the paladin.  Incidentally, every battle Basil would try to throw himself in harm's way as a monster or humanoid was about to do damage to another party member.  This happened about 5 or 6 times.  From then on, I decided he'd have a 33% chance to take the hit for another PC or his hireling Milo.
  • Harold created a new character - Murak the dwarf.  He picked up a trident of yearning and attempted to drown himself.  Luckily, he was saved.

Even though interesting things are happening, I'm ever so slightly starting to get bored with The Temple of Elemental Evil.  It's my own fault, really.  Never made it my own.  I'm going to introduce something weird into the mix... something I've been meaning to do for awhile, but time just gets away from me towards the week's end.  

Because next Saturday is Ben's last game for a couple months and it's difficult to keep a diverse and newly formed group together around the holidays, I think next time will be our last session with the ToEE.  Plus, I'm itching for something fresh.  Who knows, maybe Bell Bottoms, Black Sabbath, and Beltane (here) or the newly compiled and modified WEG Star Wars d6 RPG (here).


P.S.  Oops, I forgot about something.  I did have a chance to use my new O5R Advantage/Disadvantage system.  Just once.

After opening a door and getting attacked, Verdilo (being a gnome) scurried between the troll's legs and stabbed him in the thigh.  It was inventive, cinematic, and tactically sound.  For me, it goes to show that little things aren't really worth worrying about.  But when something is noticeably advantageous (or the reverse), it should get special treatment.  Verdilo hit thanks to the +4 and did a small amount of damage (due to his size, naturally).