Monday, November 29, 2010

Administrative Matters

Relating to the Ptolus campaign, that is.

First--who's in?  My estimate is that seven of you will want to play, and I wonder if that is manageable.  (Or if two groups is manageable).  I think it might be with some house rules to keep things moving, and a few adjustments to make the combats sufficiently challenging.

Second-- I'll be utilizing the other site to dispense campaign info, keep track of house rules, and such.  If you haven't before, you should look at it now.  Also, download the players guide .pdf and start reading.  Please pay attention to the first rule that has been posted (I'm looking at you Tiger!).  The comments are moderated at the other site to avoid spam and spoilers, so it may take some time for them to show up.

In the next couple of days I hope to put up character creation guidelines, and start a discussion about rules, the campaign world, and those sorts of things.  And very soon, I hope to start some sort of "pre-game" in which we get your characters to first level and, in one way or another, moving towards Ptolus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

About Goddamned Time

First, questions:  Will there be a Lummoxian adventure in the offing soon?  Because I certainly do not want to step on any toes; and I assume that the great weight of group interest still tends towards Ptolus as opposed to a 4e homebrew?

Depending on the answers to these questions, and given the fact that my life appears to be on the brink of a period of stability (Pelor willing), I'm thinking of making some dates concrete.  That is, for beginning the long teased, and long awaited campaign.

I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Probably Not New to You

But I just came across and thought you might find interesting if you haven't heard of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

D&D Is so Passe

Since last winter, I've been playing free poker on Sunday nights at Win More Games. This is basically because the owner is friends with some guys who have a poker tournament business, because the store is mostly devoted to Magic: The Gathering. They have a small selection of board games, D&D books, and a few other things, but I'd guess 95% of their business is Magic. They have Magic events five or six nights a week and a devoted group of regular players. Still, the following conversation on Sunday surprised me:

I usually use a large, solid metal d20 as a card protector when I play poker. One of the other players noticed and inquired, "So you play Magic?"

"No," I said. "I enjoy almost everything else this store does, but I don't play Magic."

"But why else would you have a d20?"

Friday, October 22, 2010

I think I just failed a spot check

It's been a while since anyone's posted. So here's a D+D-related post. Interesting to me, anyway. Also, I heard that Lummox isn't doing so hot. Hope you get better soon.

This is from Gnome Stew.

The act of calling for the check has now alerted all the players that something important has happened, and if the player fails the roll, then the table is aware that they have missed something important. A disciplined group will play on, pretending to be unaware of the check and its failure, but even at the subconscious level the minds of the players want to take action or at least ready themselves for what is coming.

The old school solution for this was for the GM to make secret rolls on behalf of the players. Not every group is cool with this for a few reasons: The first, is the GM needs to keep copies of the character sheets behind the screen, otherwise asking the player for his skill level and then making a roll defeats the purpose. This just adds to the pile of papers and work the GM is already doing during the course of the game. The second and more controversial is that the GM makes a skill check for the player, and the player has no control of their fate. If the GM’s dice suck (technical term: negatively player biased) the players become victims to the outcome of the GM’s roll.

I have always been sensitive to the second issue, having been on the receiving end of some poorly rolled secret GM checks, resulting in several dead characters. Because of that, I hate to make rolls on behalf of my players. If my roll blows a player’s spot check, and the resulting ambush or trap kills one or more players, I feel that, that is on my hands. Because of this, I have tried to come up with two ways to empower my players to make the roll, but to conceal the outcome until the most dramatic moment.

Hidden Check 1: The Proxy Roll

Technique: In this case, I create a matrix: numbers by players. The numbers column is typically the same as the main dice rolling technique for the game ( 20 for D&D and Pathfinder, 12 rows for Conspiracy X, 20 for Corporation, etc). At the start of the game, I have the players then take the main die and roll and log the results in their column. The end result is there is a table of random numbers for each player. Then when the GM needs a check, I can either have the player roll or I can roll, consult the table to find the player’s roll.

What I like about this technique, is that the technique combines the players rolls, with the ability for the GM to make a secret roll when needed. I have also used this matrix for the players when I want them to make a skill check, that is not a secret, but I don’t want them to know the outcome (such as knowledge check). I have the players make a roll, and then I find the number on the table, and determine the outcome of the check. This is great for things like Gather Information, Knowledge Checks, and Spot checks.

Hidden Check 2: The Covered Roll

Technique: In this case, there is a roll that needs to be made, where the outcome will have an effect on an upcoming scene, such as a hacking check to plant a virus in the security system so that later in the day the system goes offline during the robbery. The player is aware of the need to make the check, and the action for the check is done in an early prep scene. It is more dramatic not knowing the outcome before the scene where the outcome comes to fruition. What I like to do for these checks is to have the player place their dice in a dice cup, shake, and then flip the cup upside down on the table, and leave it. Then at the appropriate time during the game, when the outcome needs to be known, the player lifts the cup and reveals the roll.

What I like about this technique is that the player makes the roll, but the cup hides the outcome from everyone (including the GM), at the table. There is a real tension with the covered dice sitting on the middle of the table. Sometimes if a GM knows the outcome of a secret roll, they can consciously or unconsciously narrate the scene around the known outcome, before the outcome is revealed to the players. By the outcome being concealed from everyone, the GM cannot affect the story and everyone at the table shares in the reveal of the dice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Game Review: Uncharted--Drake's Fortune

I almost posted this on Vague Notions until I remembered that I had a gaming blog. :)

This was my first game purchase for the PS3 (I had seen it bundled with the PS3 at a different Best Buy the week before I bought mine, but of course there wasn't one when I was ready to make my purchase).  Long story short: this game is every bit as good as people had said it was.  It got rave reviews when it was released and is still considered by many to be one of the very best titles available on the console.  I concur.  I am so in love with this game, and I can't wait to play Uncharted 2, which by all reports is even better (I have seen the graphics on Uncharted 2 and they're amazing). 

Playing this game is like watching a really fantastic adventure movie.  It is addictive in all of it's pulpy goodness.  The really amazing thing is that, for the first time that I can remember, I'm actually looking forward to cutscenes.  I've always found them annoying in the past, but in this game I can't wait to hear the dialog and see how the story is going to advance.  In fact, not only am I looking forward to cutscenes, I'm upset that there aren't more of them!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Across the Stone Sea

Please forgive this hastily and inartfully written introduction to tomorrow night's adventure. Some of this comes verbatim from notes I made for myself about the campaign setting, so it was never really meant to be read by anyone else but me. So, if it doesn't flow very well, that is why. For some reason, I just can't engage my "writer" gear today and get any good prose flowing. I did, however, want to give tomorrow night's players a brief introduction to the setting, so you'll have some idea of the world you're getting into, and maybe have a little bit more to work with on character concept and background. (Just for the record, I intend this to be the first outing into what I hope becomes a persistent 4e campaign setting).

The defining characteristic of the world of Kelaturr is the geographic formation known as The Stone Sea. The Stone Sea is an immense mountain range that circles the entire planet, running north to south, and passing through both poles. The Stone Sea is quite obviously the result of some sort of magical cataclysm—it rises abruptly from the surrounding countryside and is constantly plagued by violent, unnatural storms. At no point is the range less than 500 miles wide. In those areas where it passes through the oceans, it consists mainly of rocky uninhabitable crags and is impassable by ship. Likewise, on land, there are no known land routes that cross the Stone Sea. On the continent of Eralon the Stone Sea forms the border between the vast wild western portion of the continent and the Kingdoms of the East, advanced and mostly peaceful nations known collectively as “The Settled Lands.” At certain points experienced crews pilot airships across the Sea, providing an important trade link between the Settled Lands and the isolated settlements of the West. Settlements in the Stone Sea are extremely scarce as it is a place of dangerous magic and evil creatures.

For years, the kingdom of Alastria has held a virtual monopoly on the trade that crosses the Stone Sea. The airship port city of Krynnsport is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the Settled Lands, where Tieflings and Goliaths rub elbows with the more common races of the Eastern kingdoms. Thanks to its control of the air routes to the West, Alastria is one of the wealthiest nations of the East.

This has, inevitably, led to jealousy amongst Alastria’s neighbors. Now, rumors are circulating that King Lerris of Solania is intent on forging his own trade routes across the Stone Sea. Intrepid adventurers from all across the Settled Lands are flocking to a tiny and remote village on the far Western frontier where Lerris is building what he hopes will one day be a trade hub that rivals Krynnsport. Surely, in the newly renamed village of Lerrisport there are ample opportunities for the brave and foolhardy to find adventure and wealth.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I'm trying to play fewer video games these days (now that my latest World of Warcraft binge has come to an end), but this cannot be ignored.

I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Gauging Interest

Like the Captain in the previous post, I'm gauging interest in the possibility of an upcoming game.  I was thinking about doing some sort of one-shot next weekend.  Either 4E, Call of Cthulhu, or just good ole 3.5  (Or hell, Star Frontiers)... no decision on that.  Any interest? (Please respond soon, so that if people are interested, I can prepare...).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So, I picked up a module at Tabletop a week or two ago, just to scratch the itch, so to speak. It wasn't really that good, but it got me thinking. How do you guys feel about a sort of play-by-post game? I just want to gauge the interest level.

Probably 3.5, phb races and classes. Probably something in Greyhawk. Normal Scott rules. I'm thinking that I'd make sort of a weekly (maybe more often) post, and you, as the party, would respond in character to a situation. Combats would be tricky, but I think it's a surmountable challenge.

Scheduling seems to be a nightmare, generally, to all meet in person. Maybe this would be some small way of keeping the dream alive.

I'd have to figure out a way to get the dice-rolling worked out, but that's the only real hurdle I can think of. Thoughts?

Monday, April 12, 2010


I have no plans to participate, but at Win More Games at 87th and Quivira.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Next Game?

Sooooo, any preferences? I have a wedding to attend the weekend of the 20th so that's out for me.

Let's get some dates thrown out there! (especially if you are needing more time to assemble stuff Nate, it sure never *seems* like there's as much work to do til you start in on it >.<, next game I do is sooo going to be a premade adventure path!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

4e Feedback

After Action Review:  How did you guys think the game went on Saturday night?  What did you think of the system?  Any comments or criticisms on the dungeonmastering?  The adventure?


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weapons of Intimate Destruction

I think this guy used to work for the library. I got a work email one day asking if I remembered him. Turned out growing up he was good friends with one of my cousins (with whom I've lost touch) and he recognized the name. He worked at a different location and we never met, but the name's the same and he's in the right state. A different cousin just became a Facebook fan of his business, and I thought the subject matter appropriate enough to share here. Interesting.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Looking Ahead

I may be out of town on the 20th - Can we agree to meet again on the 13th?

Monday, January 25, 2010


I don't know about the rest of you, but I enjoyed our non-D&D gaming on Saturday night.  I'd like to give Starcraft another whirl sometime in the future. To that end, I downloaded my own .pdf copy of the rules today, so that the next time we play I, at least, won't have so many damn questions to annoy Nate with.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sociological Images Is Talking D&D

And wondering about the scantily-clad female on the cover of the 4E PHB. Some interesting discussion in the comments. I thought this thought was well-noted:

For those of you who have the 4.0 players handbook at home, I have a fun game you can play. It’s called ‘count the midriffs.’ Go through the numerous illustrations in the books and see how many characters have midriffs. Then, play that same game with the previous DnD player’s handbook (3.5). You will notice less ...midriffs in the previous edition of DnD. It’s funny how wizards decided that in the new edition nobody needs armor over their soft abdomens anymore. Maybe there’s a new spell that protects you from getting stabbed there? I’m not sure.

That and more here.

Monday, January 04, 2010