Tag Archives: HackMaster

HackMaster

2001 heralded in not just the 21st century, but also my return to gaming. At this point, I had not played in 5 or 6 years. I was in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and I decided to check out what was happening in gaming, when I saw HackMaster, the cover caused a huge rush of nostalgia, I sat down and started reading it on the spot, I think I was there for 20 or 30 minutes before PezWitch found me on the floor wide eyed with glee. In mid 2002, I discovered a program called OpenRPG which allowed people to play RPG’s over the internet, it used chat to communicate, it had a die roller and it had a shared map. It was then that I put together the longest running game group of my life. In the last couple of years we have tried to get away from HackMaster and start playing other more modern and supported games. We have tried the latest version of GURPS and we have been playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition for the last several months. While I think we will continue to play D&D 5E for awhile, I definitely see us eventually going back to HM, or perhaps AD&D 1E, with some HM rules added in. One of the big reasons I like the game is it does not take itself seriously, the writers really just wanted everyone to have a good time and oddly, this is a rare thing in modern RPG’s.

Roleplaying games and me

Normally by this time of year I have made some serious headway in designing the campaign I will be running next year. This year I seemed to be stumped as to what to do. Part of my problem is D&D 5E has not quit lived up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, its not a terrible game, but it is also not a great game and as Bruce said when we were talking about it, “5E leaves me wondering if I missed something”. So one of the things I am thinking about is what game to play.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: As I said, this is a decent game, its pros are that it is a modern game with a unified dice mechanic, it is well supported and will probably be THE D&D for another decade. The cons are its not really our game, I think Bruce and Thor feel uncomfortable with it and I know I do. While there are a lot of options for making interesting characters, the game still manages to come off as rather flat.

HackMaster 4th Edition: We played this game solidly for 12 or 13 years. The pros to this game are we know it inside and out, we have house ruled it just enough to keep it sane. The game at its core is AD&D 1E, but manages to fix about 50 things that were broken with that game. HM also does not take itself too seriously and is just a lot of fun to play. The cons are, it is out of print and we have pretty much played through all of the published modules. Another problem is HM has no game balance whatsoever, Monks and Battle Mages are broken as classes and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Advanced Dungeon & Dragons 1st Edition: This game is like wearing an old shoe for us. It is the game of our youth. It is easy to play, you can literally generate character in under 10 minutes. Even though the system has been out of print for 25 years, the books were so heavily printed that it is easy to find cheap copies on Ebay and on top of that they reprinted them in 2013 and made them available as PDF’s. The downside here, is AD&D is not a modern game at all, it is poorly structured and has many bad rules and modern younger players don’t like it very much.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: It is very unlikely we would seriously consider playing this game, but it is possible. The great thing about GURPS is the depth of characters, even in the limited environment of DF, it is still possible to push your creativity and make new and interesting character types. Steve Jackson games is about to release a boxed set for DF where they rewrote and streamlined the rules, so it is somewhere between GURPS Lite and the full blown game. The down side here is complexity and too many choices, I think players get bogged down when thinking about how to design their characters and even how to grow them over time. The other problem with GURPS is I always got the feels no one truly loves to play the game, that is a game you play because there is not another game that fills the niche you want to play in. It is sort of like using a Leatherman tool, sure its got a screwdriver and pliers built in, but it hurts your fingers to use it.

At this point I am sure my players just want me to shut the fuck up and run what I want to.

HackMaster: Desert Dreams

So as I have mentioned earlier, Bruce is running a a HackMaster game for a while to give me a break from GMing. Chad has volunteered to play the cleric. This does not have me worried particularly. The worst he can do is be a dedicated follower of Shiva the Destroyer and he will make the rest of us convert before he will heal us. However, I think that is very unlikely.

I think we are going to see a new riff on Father Guido Sarducci. Back in the old days, Chad played a Top Secret character named Father Guido Sarducci of the Vatican Secret Service. I could definitely see a young Brother Sarducci leaping out of Chads brain and into our game. Of course this is also a possibility.

chads-cleric

HackMaster Future

Bruce is running a HackMaster game. He says he will do it until he gets tired of our shit, which is fair. I have not been a player is about 3 years, maybe a bit longer. My last decent character was Zymmer, a halfling thief. Prior to that was Abarat, who I think died like 4 times. I rolled my stats, 3d6, straight down. I then blew most of my Build Points pumping my Strength up to 17 and my Constitution up to 15. Since this is going to be a desert, India themed game, I went with a dual wielding Scimitar’s as my weapon of choice.

Name: Alhazred, Race: Half-elf, Class: Fighter 1, Alignment: Lawful-neutral
Height: 69, Weight: 136 lbs, Age: 20, Sex: Male, Handeness: Left

Ability Scores
Str: 17/12, Dex: 9 /17, Con: 15/64, Int: 9 /37, Wis: 11/9, Cha: 8 /52, Com: 11/37 Honor: 14

Hit Points: 32

Melee Weapons
Sword: Scimitar +3 to Hit, +7 to Damage | S 1d8 | M 1d8 | L 1d8 |

Weapon Proficiencies
Advanced Two-Weapon Fighting – Basic, Sword: Scimitar – Specialized

Talents
Ambidextrous

Skills
Survival, Desert 14%, Language, Modern: Elf 100%, Language, Modern: Common 12%, Riding, Land-based: Horse 16%

Alhazred’s was raised in the deserts by his father who belongs to a nomadic tribe of elves. His human mother died many years ago. Alhazred is not terribly smart, pretty or coordinated, but he is sturdy, strong willed and disciplined. Although often he comes across as awkward and anti social due to his heavily elvish accented speech, he is actually good natured and easy to get along with. Alhazred has a twin brother named Jouni, whom was sent to train as a hunter after their mother died. Alhazred remained with the tribe to become a tribe guardian.

Repost: How to be a good RPG player

I am re-posting this because of a forum thread I read recently, where a player was complaining about how bad the game he is playing in is. From his own description of what was happening, it was obvious he was failing at 3, 4 and 5. This is something that needs to be gone over again. I think most of us, including myself, fail at one of these, or occasionally two, but by god, if you are failing at 3 of them, the problems with the game are probably you.


1. Know the rules of the game you are playing. You don’t have to memorize every book, but you should at the very least be able to roll up a character and understand the basic dice mechanics of the game.

2. Know how to make a decent character, know what constitutes a good character. Building a D&D character that averages less than 1 point of damage per turn is a useless character, on the other end of that scale, a Call of Cthulhu character whose primary skill is shooting/punching things, is likewise useless.

3. Know your group. Try to get to know everyone in the group, try to find out what they want out of the game and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If you are not a good fit for the group, politely drop out of the game.

4. Know your GM, know what kind of game he wants to run. Find out what his expectations are, does he like a fast paced shoot em up game, or does he prefer a slow burn plot. Build characters that play to your GM’s strengths, don’t build characters that exploit or highlight the GM’s weaknesses.

5. Be a player that other players like to be around, play characters other characters want to be around. If you find yourself uttering the words “I am just playing my character!”, you have failed this one.

All Hail Legome, Emperor of the World……

…….Such as it is. Last night was the grand finale of my two year long HackMaster campaign. The basic premise of the campaign was the demigod Shezmu, the personification of blood, slaughter and executions, hatched a plan to bring long term war, destruction and death to the world.

A bit of history. A millennial ago when the Bright Empire fell, in the chaos that followed the remnants of the royal families escaped to Cotedela on a little known island they maintained for their own pleasure. They brought with them a small treasure trove of magic items they were going to use to rebuild the empire. At some point shortly after, a powerful lich known as the Dead King attacked the compound of the royal family. The Dead King was defeated and imprisoned in his tower on the north side of the island, but during the battle the Dead King shattered the Star Heart Crown, killing the great warrior High Tower and scattering all of the magic items brought to the island.

Shezmu’s plan was to assemble a party of misfit adventures who would collect the magic items on the island and reassemble the Star Heart Crown. The process of doing this, as he knew, would set off chain reactions of war and disaster. Shezmu manipulated the lives of five people he felt could rise to power, overcome the obstacles and finally either recruit or kill. Legome, Mercer, Tyenvinith, Dorj-Son and Jerard were all in one way or another thrust out of their lives and into the world where they met for the first time when they all signed up to guard a caravan for some extra cash to support themselves. This plan worked perfectly, right up until the final moments. Instead of kneeling before Shezmu or being brutally slaughtered by him, they pulled out the Gefängnis Stone and used it to imprison Shezmu.

Historians of the new empire seemed to be unable to find out where the Gefängnis Stone came to be in Jerard’s possession, or where it went to after the final battle. As far as historians can tell, the Gefängnis Stone was not one of the items brought to the island by the royal family, nor was it one of the items Shezmu wanted the Doom Bringers to find. The Doom Bringers seem to know where it came from and where it went, but they refuse to tell anyone else, and since the Doom Bringer Legome is now the Emperor of the Known World, no one is pressing the question terribly hard.

After imprisoning Shezmu, the only thing left of his possessions was the Star Heart Crown, the crown worn by the Emperor of the Bright Empire. As a interesting footnote to history, the method used to determine who would be the Emperor was; Mercer, Tyenvinith, Dorj-Son and Jerard yelling “NOT IT!” before Legome.

You don’t want my players in your game!

There is a twitter contest going on where you can play D&D with Chris Perkins as the DM. Perkins is the story designer for the video game Sword Coast Legends. At first I thought this was a great idea, until I started thinking about the last couple of years of my own game. My players are hard on game worlds and I kind of don’t think Perkins is ready for my players. Seriously, our previous game world is scarred with the actions of PC, and the current game world is on the brink of Armageddon. My guess is they would have him crying like a three year old girl with statements like “What do you mean the whole dungeon is collapsing? I didn’t poor that much orc whiskey in there!”

The End is Near!

My current long running HackMaster campaign will be coming to a close soon. This campaign has been running a little over two years, the characters range from 12th to 15th level. This last game, the group learned they had a nickname and are much more famous than they thought they were. The name everyone has been calling them behind their backs is “The Doom Bringers of Cotedela“. The group was very excepting of the name, they realized that perhaps not all of their adventures have ended in ways that would be considered ideal by other adventuring groups. Since the beginning, the PC’s have been responsible for;

  • Collapsing the Tower of the Elephant in mid town High Port.
  • Turned over an extremely powerful artifact to Turel , the master of the thieves guild.
  • Restarted the war for the Throne of the Bright Empire.
  • Released the Glitterdoom curse upon the world (basically starting the zombie apocalypse).
  • Freed the Dead King from his prison.

Needless to say, the people who actually have to live with the consequences of these guys actions are probably not all that thrilled with them. On the other hand, they are one of the most powerful groups on the island and there are few who can stop them or even interfere as they rage across the landscape like angry rhinos in a china shop. Someday I am going to run a follow up campaign, where it is the groups job to go around and fix all the messes this group created.

Dice Shrine

I got my Dice Shrine today. It is holding my Opaque Blue Die, purchased in Laurel Montana in 1980.

20151029_182920

Here is a close up.

20151029_182826

 

This is an awesome gift, Thank You PezWitch, I love you. For those of you who are jealous, you can get your own on ebay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Exalted-Die-Shrine-with-Pit-of-Shame-/252135686072

RIP OpenRPG

So this morning I was culling my home folder of shit I do not need anymore and I came across my old OpenRPG folder. For those who do not know what OpenRPG is, it was a program used for playing RPGs online. We used it from 2002 up until 2013 when we switched to Roll20. I decided to fire it and see if it still ran, one of the problems I was having, was no one had updated the program in 2 or 3 years and as time progressed things started breaking, especially in the server side. The program ran after spewing some interesting Python error messages at me, however when I opened the Server browser, I discovered no more servers were online.

This was something I had been expecting for awhile. In OpenRPGs hey day, you could find 30+ servers online with full lobbies of players waiting for a GM to come along and start a game. In the last couple of years, the number of servers dwindled to 3 the last time I looked several months ago. I am frankly surprised the Meta-Server is still online, my guess is as soon as whoever is paying for it gets his next bill, even that will go offline. So long OpenRPG, with great sadness, I am now deleting you from my hard drive. ;(

I love Battle Mages

I especially love high level Battle Mages, aside from a straight up Fighter, the Battle Mage is my favorite class. Once a  Battle Mage hits 5th level they start being able to cast multiple spells per turn and gain the Spell Prep ability, which basically means a 10th level Battle Mage can send 5 Fireballs down range in a single turn, averaging 40 points per fireball and forcing 5 saving throws versus spell. Additionally, there is a good chance one of those rolls will exceed 50 points forcing a save versus death or die from massive damage. High level Battle Mages are a force of nature.

The problem of course is rarely do your fellow party member appreciate what you can do, especially if they are in the middle of the destruction. We had one of those incidents last night during the game. This is the post game conversation.

Chris (GM): Mercer gets GM award, because by god, I love a Battle Mage who wields spells of mass destruction with impunity.

Mercer: its why i am focusing on fire spells now, just fuck it

Jerard: before you start saying just fuck it the next time i lose 7/8 of my hp to one of your spells i am going to chop your head off

Tyenvinith: And I will chop your other head off

I was highly amused, but I don’t think they were.

Updated campaign map

One of the things I did while I was on vacation was update the map I use for my HackMaster campaign. I cleaned it up a lot, I drew the original map in 9 sections, one section at a time, I added way too many terrain types and generally over thought the whole thing. In the early days of the campaign, I literally had no idea what was 50 miles east of Cotedela (the southern most town) until the players threatened to travel in that direction, so I did not draw in obvious roads and trade routes or what should reasonably be considered farm land.

This is a sandbox game, meaning it takes place in a very limited area, where the PC’s choices and action have real and lasting impact on the area. In this case it is an island that is roughly two and half times the size of Hawaii. It would take about 10 days to cross the island on horse back. It is in the northern hemisphere of the world, in the cooler climates. Summers are not excessively hot and it tends to rain a lot, the winter tends to last longer than summer and can be harsh, the upper altitudes have snow year around. The southern half of the island is far more civilized than the northern. When the island was part of the empire the northern half of the island was considered a reservation and no settlements were allowed by imperial decree. The empire has since fallen, but the human residence of the island still remain in the south by tradition.

 

I live the life I choose

You know, I think I have too much happening in my life right now. A few weeks ago as we were winding up the game, I got kicked off the server and could not log back into the game. This upset me far more than it should have. I usually do not tend towards emotional outbreaks but for some reason not being able to play HackMaster made me very very depressed. Even a couple of days later, I found myself having anxiety about next weeks game.

I know a lot of people would tell me I am having an abnormal reaction to this situation, I should not be having these feelings about not being able to play a game. To those people I would like to point out, playing the Friday night game is my only real social contact get outside of my Wife. Sure, I go to work and interact in a fairly social way with my co-workers and I suppose that should count for something. However, the Friday night game is not a forced situation where I have to get along with everyone. The Friday night game is something I choose to do.

Chad, Bruce, Thor and David are my best friends, Scott is my second favorite relative. I have real conversations with these guys, we have meaningful relationships. The game is not just about playing HackMaster and fucking up some orcs. We talk about how our work week was, we discuss the books we are reading and the movies we have seen. We laugh, we drink, we debate the issues of the day, we occasionally argue over stupid shit, and we talk about “The Good Old Days”.

Friday Night Dice

Death is relatively uncommon in games I run. I hold it to be a truth that player characters are the heroes of their story, as a rule heroes should not die unless it furthers the plot of the story in some significant way. So when a character does die, it makes the whole group pause for a moment, because something important has happened. Especially in a case like this one, where this campaign has been in motion for 18 months, all the PC’s are between 8th and 11th level. Jerard went out a hero, as a hero should. The party was forced into a partial retreat and Jerard guarded that retreat putting himself between the other party members and went toe to toe with a fighter nearly his equal. Jerard is faster with more attacks, but the other fighter does more brutal damage when he hits, one of them was not going to survive the round, unfortunately, it was Jerard, however, his opponent did not long outlive him.

Review: Roll20.net

For those of you who do not know what Roll20.net is, in short it is a website that provides services for people who wish to play pencil and paper role playing games online. It provides the three things needed for this function, Chat, Mapping and Die rolling. Roll20.net is certainly not the first group to do something like this, there are in fact at least a dozen virtual table top programs available for playing online each with thier own advantages and disadvantages. If you are not sure why someone would want to play Dungeons & Dragons like this, you can read this post I did a few years ago.

http://carnifex.org/wordpress/?p=76

This last September we switched from OpenRPG/Traipse to Roll20.net for a number of reasons. OpenRPG had once again fallen into a state were no one was updating it, particularly the server software was in a poor state and it was getting harder to maintain. On top of that there were several long term issues with the software like “Fog of War” never worked right and stability problems. Roll20.net had been on my radar for a while, we even tried once about a year ago, but found it wanting in several areas. However, it was time change. I was tired of suffering in silence about software that was going nowhere. While Roll20.net was not perfect, at least it is under active development and is being improved all the time.

Pros: Image handling and fog of war and head and shoulders above OpenRPG. Mapping is flexible and once you get down layering and mini management things get wonderfully easy. For instance I can link a mini to a character sheet, so the PC’s Hit Points and Armor class are available by simply clicking on the mini. It also lets you mark mini’s in interesting ways. Roll20.net not only has integrated chat, but audio and video as well, it also supports Google Hangouts.

Cons: Roll20.net has come a long ways in the last couple of years, but there are still some problems. Characters sheets are a pain in the ass. There is no easy way to create your own and the stock ones are hit or miss on quality. Character sheets are starting to become interactive with chat, but they are still a long way from usable in that way. It is difficult to change games without setting up a whole new campaign, which seems overkill for a one off game. If you change the campaign settings from HackMaster to GURPS, Roll20.net will convert all the existing character sheets to GURPS, which really screws them up. My suggestion is to have a campaign for each game you want to play, or have a throw away campaign where no one cares if they can not maintain characters sheets.

Overall Roll20.net is very usable, though it does take getting use to. I went ahead and started paying them a couple bucks a month to support their operation. In exchange I get some mildly amusing features, the most important of which is 1 GB of storage for maps and minis and I no longer have to suffer advertisements. I would very much recommend Roll20.net to anyone looking for a replacement to OpenRPG, Battlegrounds, FantasyGrounds, ScreenMonkey and any of the other myriad attempts at building tools to play online.

Odd and ends about role playing games

Starting with Dungeons & Dragons 5E: There are two things I really like about this system. First is the “Bounded Accuracy” design philosophy. The idea behind this philosophy is first the maximum attribute level of a player character is 20, giving him a +5 modifier. Second, the maximum Proficiency Bonus a character can receive is +6. This means the most bonus any character can get without the help of magic or technology is +11. WotC took this a step further and capped magic item bonus’s at +3 for artifact level magic items. In game terms this means there is a soft limit of +11 and a hard limit of around +15. This is a far cry from 3E/4E, where +20 bonus’s were not terribly hard to come by. This makes for a flatter growth curve over a longer period of time.

The second thing I like is WotC replaced situation modifiers with the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. The heart of this mechanic is, if you have the advantage, when you roll, instead of rolling 1d20, you roll 2d20 and take the better roll, if you are at the disadvantage, you roll 2d20 taking the worst result and Advantage/Disadvantage do not stack, so no matter how many advantages you have, you still only get one roll with 2d20. This simplifies things like a thief trying to pick an expensive lock made by a master or taking cover when NPC’s are firing at you with missile weapons.

These two ideas, I think, simplify the game and helps remove the “Kewl Powerz” factor from the game, which I see as a good thing in terms of play-ability and fun.

Moving along to the “MVP” award: For the last 12 years I have used a system of giving experience points that is divorced from what actually occurs in game. I pretty much give out a set amount of points based on level and how long I want it to take for characters to level again. In order to encourage good play I have two ways to get bonus experience points, the Most Valued Player award, voted on by the players and the GM award, both will get the receiving character a 25% bonus, so character that gets both can receive a 50% bonus for that game. The idea behind this system is everyone pretty much goes up in level at the same rate, however, consistently good players will level faster. It also encourages players to cooperate, minimize conflict and having fun.

The reason this comes up, is I was thinking about revising the system recently. I was thinking about eliminating one or the other, while increasing the bonus of the one remaining. I was thinking about a conversation I have with a player who is now long gone out of the game. He argued against the MVP award. He felt it was just a popularity contest and the same couple of people always seemed to get the award. I thought about it for a while, but the player left the game and no one else was complaining about it, so I dropped it. in the next year or two we are going to be switching games from HackMaster to something else, like D&D 5E or GURPS and so I am looking at other changes that need to be made in how the game is run.

Oddly, I have been keeping track of the amount of experience points I give out and who gets these MVP and GM awards, I have several years worth of data. When I consolidated this I found out two things. First, the MVP award has been given out fairly evenly over the years. Yes, some people tend to get it more often than others, but when you look at it statistically, no one is outside of a standard deviation. The second thing I found out, is the GM award, the award I give out has not followed that pattern. I in fact favor specific people when giving the award, if anything, the MVP award is the fairer of the two awards. I think if I were going to eliminate one or the other, I would eliminate the GM award, not the MVP award.

Finally, where we have been, there and back again: It is no secret that I have a nostalgic love for old role playing games. Fairly regularly I rummage through my collection and re-read things. Last time it was Tunnels & Trolls and Monsters! Monsters!. This time it has been The Fantasy Trip, as with T&T, we played this one a little bit, mostly in the form of Wizards and Melee two small combat games which TFT was built upon. However, beyond that we did not do much with it, even though looking back it really had a lot of the characteristics we were looking for in an RPG at the time. TFT was written by Steve Jackson, who later wrote GURPS, again looking at the game, it is easy to see how TFT was a beta for GURPS. I think next weekend I will play through one of the solitaire adventures I have for this game, specifically Master of the Amulets. I do not expect to be WOW’ed by it, but who knows, hopes are high, expectations are low.

Long term thoughts on my game group

I just wrapped up a series of solo games with the players in my HackMaster game. The idea was to give each player a chance to do something outside the group dynamic and possibly develop their character in some significant way. This was actually fun and running one player through a 3 hour adventure is actually much easier than a group of 5. I wonder why the 1GM-1Player format is not more popular.

This campaign seems to be developing into a hot house of experimentation. One of the other things I am doing differently here is I started the campaign with very little setting detail. I took some basic stuff from the Points of Light setting and started creating an independent island with that setting. The island itself is one big hex crawl and sand boxed environment. I am letting the characters explore their environment and only revealing the pieces of it that they need to know. I am also planning this campaign out to last approximately 3 years. I usually plan things in 1 year cycles, which is great, but is in and of itself somewhat limiting. My intent here is to grow a set of characters from 1st level to something close to 20th level. I believe a 3 year campaign would be sufficient for that. The first year should see them reach 8th-10th level, the second year 13th-15th level and the third year 18th-20th level. The party Thief should lead in levels and the party Magic User will likely trail behind. The campaign is following the three act structure, with each act being roughly 1 year of games. We are currently in Act I where we are introducing the characters and the antagonists, exploring their backgrounds and setting up the over arcing story line. The second act will develop the over all story and escalate the conflict. The third act will move to the final confrontation and the ultimate resolution of the storyline.

I am doing this mega campaign for a couple of reasons. First, as a group we have never gotten characters into what we consider the high levels. We have always historically moved on when characters reached the 10th level range. I think most of this has to do with me not wanting to deal with characters who can take down armies before lunch. The second reason is I think this is going to be the last HackMaster campaign we play. When this is done we will have had an epic 15 year run and I for one would like to move on to a more flexible game system something we can use to develop characters beyond the murder hobo stereotype. I would also like to change genre’s, I owe my group a Cyberpunk game, but I would also like to explore the Horror and Sci-Fi genres as well. Of course the top of my list is GURPS, but two and a half years is a long time and something else might come along that works better for us. GURPS is a well supported system that changes very little between editions and is easy to start “Light” and move to a more complex game without forcing everyone to buy 3 expensive books all at once before they can play effectively. Steve Jackson Games is really great about releasing product in PDF format, which more and more, is my preferred method of collecting game content.

Solo Games Part V

The final instalment of the solo games went to Thor. His character is a female thief who is more on the business side than the picking pockets side. His plot sentence was;

“I want some sort of suspense/espionage scenario that involves me doing cloak and dagger type stuff.

One of my favorite genre of film is Noir and I thought this would be a nice opportunity to allow his character to be cast as a fall guy in a murder mystery, do some 2nd story work, get involved with a much heavier plot and make a few enemies in the process. The story starts out with Tyenvinith getting back to her room and there is a strange man sitting in the chair across from her bed and tells her he has work for her, stealing a a rather pricey piece of art, an ugly statue of a bird (probably the Maltese Falcon). When she arrives at the scene of the theft, she finds the bird has already been stolen and the owner is dead, having been stabbed in the back. It is just at this moment the City Watch arrive and gets a good look at her before she makes her dramatic escape. When she think she has lost the cops, she goes to the rendezvous place to give the bad news, she finds the bird, a bag with 10,000 gold pieces and the dead body of the man who hired her, stabbed by one of Tyenvinith own daggers.

Realizing she is being setup, Tyenvinith searches the body and finds the man’s letter of introduction, she takes this, the dagger, the gold and the bird and makes a run for it. Knowing things are going to start closing in on her very soon, she decides to use her connections with HighPorts Mob Boss to get some clues as to what is going on. She quickly finds the Hawala house and provides the proprietor with her own letter of introduction, he mentions her business partner Jerard had visited him earlier in the evening. Quickly explaining the situation to the man he provides her with some much needed information about what is going on. The current owner of the bird, the Inquisitor of the temple of Thoth is a close friend of Iceru, a wealthy local business man. The two have a friendly rivalry going on where they steal the bird from each other. The son of Iceru is Duhir, the leader of one the City Watch squads in Edgewood. Duhir was disowned by his father several years ago because Duhir is a corrupt cop and a very bad man and Duhir has been seeking revenge on his father since then. Tyenvinith is angered that she is being used as a patsy in the schemes of an evil and petty little man.

Tyenvinith leaves for a bit of payback, after making a few financial arrangements. Tyenvinith finds the offices of Watch Squad Leader Duhir and uses her skills to infiltrate the building and sneak into Duhir’s office, she easily opens his safe, finds other evidence of his evil, and places the bird into the safe, but leaving it unlocked. She then plants the bloody dagger and the letter of introduction that was on the body of the man who hired her on Duhir’s desk. She then on her way home pays a couple of people to report the evidence to the other Watch Squads in town, since Duhir’s is well known, it does not take long for him to be apprehended.

 

Solo Games Part IV

My nephew Scott was next in line for solo games. He did not provide me with a plot line. I told everyone when I suggested we try this out, that if anyone did not provide me with a plot to develop for them, that the whole night would be spent doing random beggar encounters. I delivered on this promise, although it was not exactly random encounters. The basic idea of the adventure was, the local beggars know out of town adventurers can not resist a mystery or the lure of loot. So they have developed a scam they pull to get adventurers to give them small amounts of money.

Mercer sets out into the midnight streets, he seems to be accosted by beggar after beggar. Each time he turns them down, refusing to give them money. Until finally, someone close by Mercer does give them money and the beggar gives that person a piece of paper. Mercer immediately see the errors of his way and walks over to see what the paper has on it. The paper says “What you seek can be found at the bar at the end of the world.”. This of course refers to a bar built out on the pier. He quickly heads over there and out back he finds another beggar. This time he gives him money and the beggar hands him another piece of paper. This one says “Go to temple row and find the son of Mal Convoitise.”, he then proceeds to the Road of 9 Temples and finds the temple of Mal Convoitise, he finds yet another beggar with another note provided to him after donating money. This note says “Look Down”, when Mercer looks down he sees he is standing on a manhole cover and Mercer wastes no time in crawling down into the muck. He heads down the tunnel for a short time until he finds a side tunnel that appears to have been dug out well after the sewers were put in. He follows that tunnel until he comes to an underground beggar community and at the center he finds a man selling Rat on a Stick and bathtub gin. He approaches the beggar bar tender and presents him with the pieces of paper, after yet another exchange of money, he is given another piece of paper, “Find the Rat King” it says and after some short directions, mercer heads out looking for the Rat King. While searching for him, Mercer is attacked by two gigantic rats who inflict serious damage to him before running away. Mercer quickly uses the healing spell Legome put in his Ring of Spell Storing and cautiously continued until he found the Rat King. The Rat King is a tall lanky man in a dirty worn black robe and a wide brimmed black hat hiding most of his face. Vaguely Mercer can see his green tinged skin and gnarled teeth, the two gigantic rats flank him. in an ominous voice, the Rat King says “To get your prize you must pay the price!”, “What price is that?” Mercer asks with concern. The Rat King then slowly puts his hand inside his robe, Mercer fingers his Ring ready to respond. The Rat King pulls a tin cup from his robe and thrusts it forward, Mercer says, “Fucking beggars!” as he deposits money into the cup. The rat King gives him another piece of paper that says “Meet me at the fountain.”. Mercer climbs to the surface again and goes to the center of town and finds yet another beggar, the sun is coming up and he realizes he has been running around Edgewood for hours and he is a bit poorer for it and decides to go back to the Inn.

Solo Games Part III

Next up for the solo game was David, who is playing a Pixie Fairy Cleric named Legome. This characters biggest personality trait is he is in deep denial about his friends. He is a good character in a party of other characters who are extremely chaotic and at least one leans towards evil. None the less he is a fun character. David’s plot line was;

 

“I would like to send my PF back home to attend one of the great gatherings.”

For those of you who have never played HackMaster, every 6 years, all the Pixie Fairy tribes gather for what is referred to as “The Running”. When I first read about this, what popped into my mind was “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in Fantasia, so I took some inspiration from it. This was pretty much how the plot started out. As Legome was laying to get some sleep, he heard the Call to the Running, a local Pixie Fairy tribe was having the great meet. Legome could not resist the call and flew out into the forest to dance to the music only Fay can hear. He saw and danced with a great number of these other Fairies, anticipating a night of drinking and debauchery.

Before he could get to the debauchery, a group of Hunter Grel descended on the area and started trapping the Pixies. Legome quickly assessed the situation and started tracking the Hunter Grel, counting how many there were and how they were gathering the Pixies. Legome followed the grel who was gathering the trapped Pixies from the other hunters to the gathering point. He discovered the collection point guarded by a single grel, he lured the guard from his post and and killed the guard. Shortly, the collection grel returned and Legome was forced to fight and kill him too. However this grel let out a warning scream alerting the other grel in the area. In fairly short order, a grel Shaman named jHim showed up and challenged the Pixie Fairy to a honour duel.

The ensuing fight the Shaman chose to fight bare handed, pounding the little Pixie repeatedly. Legome was forced to heal himself time and time again before finely defeating jHim. Legome then finds himself surrounded by 10 Hunter Grel. The head hunter tells Legome he has earned his freedom and he can go. Legome demands they release the other Pixies, they of course refuse, Legome of course pushes the point and another brawl breaks out. Legome wakes up several hours later beaten, bruised and out of spells, having been dumped in the water trough outside the Inn by the Grel.

Solo Games Part II

Last night was Chad’s turn in the solo game. remember the idea behind these solo games is individual character development, and advancement of a personal story. The plot line Chad supplied me with was;

“I am seen by one of the henchmen of my brother, he follows me for awhile to see what I am up to, gets spotted or attempts an attack and we end up in either a street fight or a duel.”

This is not Jerard

Jerard was the easiest solo game to develop, Chad has been working on a back story since the beginning of the campaign and this really gave him a opportunity to exploit that. So after the parties latest misadventures on their current campaign and the groups gets settled in for the night, Jerard decides he needs to get some business taken care of before they set out on the next leg of their epic campaign for …. Beer. He heads out into the night looking for a Hawala, eventually he finds one and arranges to send money to his family back in his home town. As he progresses through the evening, he increasingly begins to feel as though he is being followed. After finishing his business with the Hawala, he decides to try to spot his stalker. Jerard finds a café to sit down and watch the crowd and quickly spots his shadow. Most everyone on the street are with other people, making this guy stand out. The man is obviously not a professional and when jerard makes him, it does not seem to bother the unknown man much. Jerard quickly confronts the man, who tells him he indirectly works for Jerard’s brother Haral. Haral’s Loyal for life manservant Oetu is in Edgewood running a errand for Haral and he spotted Jerard coming out of the Inn he was staying at. Oetu, looking to gain favour with Haral, decided to add some misery to Jerards life. Jerard gives the man a coin and tells him to go back to Oetu and tell him to stay away from Jerard.The man beelines for Oetu while Jerard follows him.

The man leads him to a bar on the docks, where Jerard quickly confronts Oetu and the situation escalates into a fight between the two warriors. Oetu is more than a match for Jerard and falls under a barrage of powerful attacks from Oetu’s battle axes. With Jerard on the ground dangerously wounded and loosing consciences, Oetu comes in for the kill. Jerard spits on Oetu, who smiles. Then Firewolf, Jerard’s flaming sword leaps into the air under its power and impales Oetu in the chest, piercing the night air with a supernatural howl. Oetu screams as white hot flames envelope him. Jerard passes out.

A while later, Jerard come too and his helped to his feet by the man who had followed him. The man introduces himself as Seyd and helps Jerard to a healer. After being healed, Jerard decides he wants to deilver a message to his brother, Seyd tells Jerard they were in Edgewood picking up a large crate for Haral and the two concoct a plan to use the crate to deliver the message. The pair go back to the location of what is left of Oetu’s body, Jerard scrapes up the ashes and left over items into a bag. They then sneak into the warehouse containing the crate. Inside the crate is a stone bust of Haral and the painting of Haral he sent the sculptor to make the bust. Jerard fill the crate with Oetu’s remains and stabs Haral’s face with a dagger pinning a note to the painting.

Haral,
Oetu had some trouble getting home, so I help him along the way.
Love Jerard
PS – See you soon.

Solo Games Part I

Last nights game was the first of an experiment. I am running each of my players through a solo game. The idea behind this exercise is to allow development of the character outside of the group dynamic, develop personal plot points and getting one on one face time with the GM. I asked each player to provide me with a sentence or two plot line they would like me to develop. If this works out, and all my players enjoy it, I will make this an annual event.

Bruce was first up and his one liner was;
“I want to have a mental fight with something trying to posses me, in a psychedelic world.”

The first thing I thought about when thinking about “Psychedelic World” is the old Steve Ditko Dr.  Strange comics. So I let this picture be my inspiration, large green rocks with tendrils spiralling out connecting rocks to one another. The summary of the game was Dorj-Son finds his evening meditations difficult and goes out for a walk. He approaches a bridge where on the other side is dark and foreboding figure. Stepping on the bridge he is mentally attacked by the entity and transported to psychedelic world, where he discovers objects buried in the green dirt of the rocks; a skeleton of a large fish, a glass ball containing fire, and a rock with engraved runes. The only true fight he has is with a giant bird that vanishes in a puff of smoke when defeated, leaving only a single feather behind. As he moves from rock to rock he meets his old Master from the temple and his older brother as a child, who accompany him along the journey. When he finally meets the entity at the end of the trail, who takes the form of a large demonic samurai, Dorj-Son throws the large fish bone at the creature, only to have him say “You throw pieces of yourself at me?”, he then realizes these objects and these people are all fragments of his own mind, broken apart by the first attack and he proceeds to put himself back together, only the entity has the fish bone and issues the famous last words of “Come and get it boy!”, Dorj-Son promptly rolls a critical hit, stuns the entity, takes the fish bone like candy from a baby. Once all the pieces are together he transported back to the bridge in a flash of white light.

Playing old characters

I am having a discussion with a friend about doing a play by post game. He wanted to know which of my characters I wanted to play. Initially I thought I should do two new characters, maybe a Fighter and then a multi-classed Magic User/Thief/Cleric. However paging through the book, I discovered you really can not do that, so then I thought maybe a Fighter/Thief and a Cleric/Magic User. After fiddling around with that for a while, I found it rather unsatisfying and could not decide what I wanted to do. This morning I was doing some work on the Wiki I use to keep track of all my game setting data and I came across the old Companions of Xarth PC list and there towards the bottom was the only character I played in that campaign, Thayziaik. Being a gaming pack rat, I of course still have his character sheet, so I thought maybe this was the way to go.

This is one of those things that comes from playing D&D for so long, you end up with a lot of characters with history. I did not play Thayziaik much, at 3rd level I suspect he did not see play for more than 15-20 games and the last time I played him would have been 1989 or 1990. Assuming he was around 20 years old (Minimum starting age for a human Magic user) when I last played him, and game time has progressed at the same speed as the real world, Thayziaik is now 45 years old, he is still 3rd level, so he has not been out adventuring, what has he been doing for the last 15 years? I am thinking he has been cloistered inside the Companions of Xarth Guild house, most likely using his identify spell along with his Arcane Lore skill to determine what various magic items the adventuring teams come back with are and what the probable value is. He of course charged very reasonable fees for preforming this sometimes dangerous task.

The conversion to HackMaster was pretty straight forward, I think he does not look too different from his original incarnation as an AD&D1E character, pictured above.

Str 16/01, Dex 15/12, Con 16/08, Int 14/36, Wis 13/19, Cha 12/10, Com 10/04
Race Human, Class Magic User, Level 3, Alignment Chaotic Good, Hit Points 39
Skills – Common 100%, Arcane Lore 50%, Spellcraft 25%, Riding 25%, Reading/Writing 25%
Talents – Blind Fighting
Robe, Cloak, Boots, Gloves, Cloak, BackPack, Staff, Hunting Dog, Ring of Truth
Spells: Armor, Find Familiar, Identify, Magic Missile, Mend, Munz’s Acid Bolt,
Ray of Enfeeblement, Web.

More Misc Shit

Okay, the last couple of weeks have been busy and not in a good way. Since my rule is to avoid talking about work on my blog, I will go into no detail, suffice to say, I glad this week is over and shit is done.

Went to a film festival last weekend, and we saw Second hand Lions. It is a really good movie, it is well scripted, with a solid plot and good acting by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. If you are looking for a solid drama to watch, I highly recommend this one.

I finished my month of playing solo Tunnels and Trolls adventures. During week one, I played 4 hours, in week two, I played 2 hours, in week three I played 3 hours and in my final week, I played 2 hours. So at the end of the month, I had played a grand total of 11 hours. This was pretty close to the equivalent of 3 regular table top sessions. My character did finally make 2nd level, which is probably about right. As I said in an earlier post, solo play falls short in a couple of different categories. Like computer games, you have very little room for creative play. For instance, in the Friday night game, The party had to rescue the rich merchant’s daughter from the slavers, they had to get into a tower owned by a high level Battle Mage/Cleric, the tower was well guarded and the PC’s out numbered. One of my players, Scott came up with the idea to simply cast invisibility on everyone in the party. As long as they were careful, they pretty much had freedom of movement inside the tower. Computer games and solo adventures simply do not allow for that kind of play. So any way, I don’t think I will be returning to solo play for the time being.

 

 

More Friday Night Dice

Picture no longer available

This is a picture of my desktop while I was playing HackMaster Friday night. When I posted this to FaceBook during the game, someone messaged me and asked why I have dice on my desk when you are playing online and have an electronic die roller. The answer is fairly simple, occasionally I like to roll dice and I was goofing off with the dice boot you see on the left.

On a different note, we had our annual Christmas themed game on the 20th. Rather than buying card and sending gifts to my players, I give them their presents in game, usually in the form of a magic item. Jerard (The Fighter) got a flaming sword named Firewolf, which in fact has the intelligence of a dog. Mercer (The Magic User) got a Staff of Striking for when he runs out of Magic Missiles. Tyenvinith (The Thief) got a Cloak of Elven-kind for skulking and sneaking. Legome (The Cleric) got a Pixie fairy sized suit of Elfin Chain Mail, which puts his AC down to -1. Finally and most amusingly is for Dorj-son (The Monk). I gave him what is called an Armband of Human Frailty. It is actually a cursed item, when worn by anything with a strength that exceeds 18/00, it reduces their strength to 18/00 or human level strength. It was designed to hamper Giants and particularly brutish Ogers, by reducing their strength and making them more manageable. The side effect of this is, anyone whose strength is under 18/00 is raised to 18/00, the height of normal human strength. When giants wear it, it is usually worn as an arm or wrist band, when human sized people wear it, it is worn as belt and is often mistaken for a girdle of hill giant strength.