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So we went a little further into The Iron Fortress. Not that much to report, beat up some more bad guys and that's about it. I think I mishandled Symbol spells, though.

Anyway, the more interesting thing was a short discussion on 'what do we do next?', since as I've previously written I expect the D&D campaign to end reasonably soon (about 3-4 more levels). I explained that while I wasn't yet for sure sold on running Traveller, I am considering an SF game, and what did the players want to do? I offered some of the interesting choices for space-operatic interstellar travel: explorers, refugees, empire builders, rebels, merchants, mercenaries. To my not-very-great surprise, they basically want to 'kick butt and make money', i.e. mercenaries, though agreeing that exploration and all the rest are fun things to be hired to do.

But basically it seems they want to be passively hired to do things, as opposed to deciding to do them themselves. I guess that's to be expected, especially in a universe they don't yet know... but I don't think they'd change their minds when they learned the universe. The idea of having character-imposed goals is really not their thing (and part of this is my fault, since I am so overenthusiastic about story-imposed goals).

But also, and this I found interesting, there was general agreement that I should return first to the River of Cradles and run the Cradle megascenario/minicampaign with their Rune-level characters before we started an SF adventure. They appear really to have liked Glorantha, and the River of Cradles -- it serves as another reminder that I must return one day to the River and run the stories there afresh, for players who haven't been there yet.

Also, James is making noise about moving to a cheaper state with better roommates, like Arizona, soon, like the end of 2003. That'd be a shame; he's probably the best-read of my gamers, the most immersive roleplayer, the one least interested in just kicking butt and the one most interested in making gaming a cooperative event -- but after all, gaming isn't real life, and real life must take precedence. Doesn't that suck sometimes?


Aug. 3rd, 2003 11:15 pm
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Synopsis of tonight's game. This contains spoilers for Lord of the Iron Fortress, the 7th of the 8 D&D3E modules, so don't read if you intend to be a player in it someday.

Read more... )
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Game geeking about last weekend's D&D.

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Apr. 28th, 2003 04:52 pm
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It'd been something like two months since I last GMed.

I ran D&D on Saturday, and actually enjoyed it... that's kind of unusual. I think it's because I relaxed and just designed a specific self-contained lair, with only minimal connection to the rest of the world.

Prior to that, on Wednesday, I ran the next piece of Hounds of Balazar. More Balazaring native children told stories of dreams; a sabretooth took apart one of the party's dogs, which made them sniffle a bit; they encountered a (non-animated) mummified great troll, being investigated also by griffins; they were slightly menaced by pixies; and they discovered why it's dangerous to go wade-fishing at night in newtling-infested waters, at least if you're a trollkin. And once in Dangerground, glowing children attacked a herd of deer but didn't eat their kills, which made the PCs nervous.

No gaming next week, but the week after, I resolve to: finish the lair adventure in D&D, and advance the plot in HoB... we had a number of vignettes, now we need some meatier encounters.
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Most of the interesting things in my life end up in Sherilyn's journal in any case, so it's not like I don't have a record of what's going on.

Lessee. Catching up is basically futile. Most of my previous journals were gaming-related, so I'll talk a little about gaming...

Still running D&D for a group of eight 12th-level characters. Trying to include a plot is really really hard; they want to kill things, get treasures, and make items, and don't really care about the world. Not their fault -- heavy combat plus eight players plus no supplemental source material about the world equals a pretty lean universe. The kind of one-on-one clue-laden meaningful conversations that I love to pepper games with are almost impossible to do without boring the heck out of half the players (at least).

Ars Magica died. The same group tried to do a D&D campaign but it only lasted a few months -- I really can't (a) have this job, (b) run two weekly games on the weekend, and (c) be the kind of father I want to be. Gaming had to give.

Which isn't to say I might not start something up on Wednesdays in the bay area, or plan ahead for when D&D reaches the end of its run... Glorantha beckons -- it has been a couple years, now -- and it competes with the idea of running a space opera (something like Andromeda, or Battlestar Galactica, or something similar... equal parts fermented milk and real storytelling.)

Gaming log

Feb. 17th, 2002 11:41 pm
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No Ars Magica again this week, as we couldn't get hold of Ryan -- so James stayed past dinner and he and Max and I Roborallied. The board won.

There was, however, D&D.

See the gory details )

Gaming log

Feb. 10th, 2002 08:09 pm
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No Ars Magica today -- Ryan is out of town, and I cancelled before even knowing this, which shows some sort of karma or other.

We played D&D, though... )
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Logs for two sessions of D&D...

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Gaming log

Jan. 21st, 2002 04:10 pm
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D&D: The party went up into the dungeon again, sensibly deciding that however unpleasant the huge scorpions would be to take out, they had better crawl into their lair and beat them or they'd have to face them on the way out when they're weaker. Good idea, since judging from the fight the two scorpions would have opened a can of whup-ass on the party if it were not at full strength. Gunthar, Cashel, and Hogarth -- the three front-line fighters -- got grabbed, picked up, squeezed, and/or stung, and Raven's attempt to tumble past the scorpion (we figured she ran across its back) failed, since the DC for her tumble roll was 30. Nevertheless, once she reached its back (and poisoned to STR 6), she proceeded to abuse the scorpion -- and the game system -- as only a Rogue7/Ranger1 can, her pair of d6-2 short swords doing a measly 52 points of damage in a single round.

Cashel got to show off his new 2nd level sorcerer spell Ice Knife that the authors of Tome and Blood felt it important to include in the game system. The spell does three different sorts of damage, explodes if it misses, has a gratuitous adjustment to the ranged to-hit roll, and has two different saving throws. But at least it's not unbalanced for a second-level spell, just absurdly complicated.

After beating the two scorpions, they found some generic money treasure and scooted to lick their wounds and neutralize a lot of poison.

Climbing back up the destroyed staircases, they found a deserted hall which Afon indicated he'd come through -- though he clammed up when he was asked to fill in details of his past ("Just where are you from, again?"). While the party was intrigued by rumors of a hydra, they decided to poke around in the direction the hill giants had come from, reasoning that there was probably surface there eventually -- besides, there were rooms and signs of traffic, while the hydra was hundreds of yards away at least, so the same argument applied to the nearby rooms as applied to the scorpions (don't leave potential enemies between us and the way out). Tesla, however, remained suspicious of the corridor the other way, and stood guard at the corner.

First door was blocked on the far side by fallen masonry. Hogarth ("mere matter does not stop me") shouldered in anyway and, in the dark moment before Gunthar ("Torch? What torch? I just cast light on my armor") followed, encountered someone or something that apparently tried to turn him, took a free action to say "um", and skittered away around a corner. Hogarth pursued only to find he/it had leapt through a hole in the wall ten feet up. Hogarth popped to the other side just as Cashel trotted up behind, and the hole slammed shut with a disturbingly rugged piece of wood as a makeshift door. Attempts to break the wood were fruitless; Cashel began to suspect an Arcane Lock. I asked Hogarth to make a Will save and smiled evilly as he rolled a 2.

Hogarth's player blinked a lot as we went through his place in the initiative order twice without him being asked what he was doing.

Meanwhile, some of the cleverer metagamers figured out from the latter room Hogarth had entered (okay, he had had time to shout roughly what the size of the room was, handwave handwave okay so this is a board game) should be connected to another door down the hall, so Whitefire gave it the old wizard's shoulder, followed by the old wizard's bruised groan.

Meanwhile meanwhile, in the shifting light Afon spotted motion that didn't show up on his darkvision, yet further down the hall. He ran after it, with Raven behind him as backup and Theodosia puffing up the rear in her full plate. Afon reached the spot where he'd glimpsed the motion, upon which a spectre emerged from the wall and forced him to demonstrate that druids have excellent Fortitude saves. A moment later, during which both Whitefire and Cashel called for help getting through their respective arcane locks, Theo reluctantly turned the spectre (reluctant because, of course, this would just make it melt into the walls and recover; she wanted to kill it!) and then turned back to make her way toward Whitefire.

Just then, Whitefire's door opened and Hogarth emerged. Whitefire's excellent Spot revealed a pair of large spider legs slamming the door shut right behind the barbarian, who announced to the startled wizard that his new best friend had convinced him he had to go defeat the undead down the corridor, and then took off at his Boots Of Striding And Springing-enhanced barbarian movement right past the startled Theodosia and toward where the spectre had vanished. Hogarth didn't reveal who his new friend was because, of course, most humans wouldn't understand...

Not much happened in Ars. I informed people we Really Needed personality traits for characters (they grumbled suspiciously; if they only knew) and let them have two seasons of study. With Jonah's kids helping ours produce entropy and decibels about the house, the only other gaming that got done was an extended list of paranoid steps taken to keep the covenant safe from the presumed upcoming demon attack. Next time we'll see just how well this works...

Gaming log

Jan. 14th, 2002 11:55 am
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Both games went reasonably, though I was terribly rude to Sherilyn during D&D.

The Shatterlands group beat up three hill giants and their six pet dire wolves, and acquired some l33t l00t. They also found out that their boat is now floating on water a mile above sea level, and they figure it's an inland sea. Afon, the new elf druid, used unorthodox tactics against a hill giant, and managed to keep his odd powers from all the characters and most of the players. James knows, though -- some of it anyway.

Still exploring the obviously worked and finished underground complex that the hill giants had taken refuge in. Some giant scorpions are still unfought, and the rogue at one point got a voice in her head asking 'What are you? *silence* Okay, fine, be that way.'

Note to self: even x2 crits can be nasty when you do 2d6+10 damage normally.

The Ars Magica group is finally clearly heading for a culmination of the Manannan mac Llyr storyline, as they freed Cerunnos from the Wormtongue-esque demonic lackey that had been keeping him from wondering where his Hounds have been these fifty years. The lackey demon was permitted to leave, but vowed vengeance upon the magi.

Before being thrown out of Cerunnos' hall, the demon derived from PC surface thoughts that there was something of interest to the Hierarchy stored in the covenant, which he didn't know about before, and boasted that they would not stand against him.

An attempt to read the demon's mind astonishingly succeeded (probably because Cerunnos, who is old as mountains and powerful as seas, told the magi they should 'learn what you will of him before I release him') to the extent of seeing, from the demon's POV, what it's like to receive instructions... from inside a pentagram... inscribed upon a cavern floor... in Blackthorne Covenant. Unfortunately, one of the aspects of this experience is that it's impossible to recognize the voice giving the commands.

The demon gave some cryptic warnings about making the wrong decision and about the Dragon being the lesser of two evils, and the Hunt -- and the decision to free it -- being a fulcrum by which one will move the world. But then, demons always lie.

Ack. I wasn't going to do that saga in this campaign, and suddenly I find myself introducing it. Well, maybe the demon was referring to something else.

Anyway, Cerunnos (or Coffa as the demon called him) is recovering his strength (he's old, and throwing out the demon exhausted him for a while) but he promises to go to Llandovery for Samhain, to see about these old ways that the magi have been encouraging (which they did to maintain the faerie trod, so that the girl who grew up visiting the local faeries each full moon can still do this while living with her husband fifty miles away). Cerunnos feels the pull of the Hunt and an epic adventure to free it is promised... assuming the demon doesn't successfully obtain the Solomon sphere first.

Freeing the Hunt will stop one ticking clock, as the black dragon will stop trying to get free. But another clock is still ticking; in a few years the faeries will run out of patience and start collecting all the tourney winners of the last decade to restart the firbolg-fomori war, unless Manannan mac Llyr is freed first -- but the PCs have now gotten close. Once the Hunt is free to roam, they need only acquire MmL's Spear, since they have the rest of his arms (his Steed and Harp) and they just need to have 'all Prydain's greatest warriors call' for him. Current thinking on their part is that this can happen easily if they let the faeries gather together all the tourney winners for them first.

But it might be a good idea to find the Stone of Pwyll first, since that's where Manannan mac Llyr will rise.
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The older kids are packed off to bed, Sherilyn's sleeping, Josh is still napping -- I have a short piece of time to myself.

I fired off a few emails to the infinite number of gamers we're going to be seeing tomorrow, including a summary of where the D&D campaign was. It reminds me that I really do have some kind of neat plans, if I can figure out how to bring them off (having no time at all to write down the plans makes this a bit of a challenge).

Last game, three weeks ago, Sherilyn's D&D character lost a level and a half of experience, and she understandably sulked to the extent of avoiding a restoration spell (which would give back only about a quarter of what she lost; there's a bug in the rules somewhere.) I have to resist the temptation to contrive to make all the other D&D characters lose a level somehow, now, since she was /so/ proud of her character's advancing capabilities and beginning to believe she doesn't totally suck. Brad's houserule for 1st edition (no one loses XP permanently except by choice) makes way too much sense, especially to someone whose battlecry is "Eep! Eep!" (no, not the panic noise, the abbreviation for 'experience'.)

This is the first time since Joshua was born that we're going to try to have both D&D (afternoon) and Ars (evening) on the same Sunday. Josh is very easygoing these days; he can amuse himself kicking his toy arch from his bouncy seat most of the time that he's not either nursing or napping, modulo the amount of holding and cooing that he just gets by virtue of being cute and carrying our genes, so we're willing to try this apparently insane schedule. I just hope Sherilyn actually gets a chance to play, and doesn't have to spend the whole time kid-dealing. (If you aren't aware, I gamemaster both games, so it's not like we can split the work.)


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