Thursday, December 11, 2014

History and stuff.

OK.  Geography and history of parts of Golarion.  Current year, 4707 Absalom Reckoning (according to the Inner Sea calendar).  Yes, this is a shorter version.  Yes, I could probably make it shorter.

Early major events, a mixture of myth and history:

Age of Creation: Golarion's creation is indefinite, with different groups telling different stories.  For unknown ages, aboleths ruled the oceans and Vault Dwellers kept the land.  Mortals eventually arose from somewhere, but from where is also debated.  It was during this time Rovagug, The Rough Beast, god of destruction, disaster, and wrath, was trapped deep in the core of the world by an alliance of all the other gods.  Sarenrae, The Dawnflower, goddess of healing, honesty, redemption, and the sun, cleft a rift into the world and thrust Rovagug into a strange dimension therein.  Asmodeus, Prince of Darkness, god of contracts, pride, slavery, and tyranny, provided a lock and a key to Rovagug's prison.

Age of Serpents:  One of the first mortal empires was founded by the serpentfolk, long since defeated by Azlant, the first human civilization.

Age of Legend:  Technological and magical discoveries were made by the Azlanti the likes of which are now unknown.  A second empire, Thassilon, was founded by a group of separatists in the northwest part of the continent of Avistan.  The rulers of both of these empires grew to be proud and haughty, so their aboleth enemies decided to end things on their own terms, with an event now called Earthfall.

Age of Darkness:
     -5293 to -4295:  Earthfall.  The Starstone crashes down across the land bridge connecting Avistan and Garund, carving out the Inner Sea and causing darkness to cover the world (mostly Avistan, Garund, and Casmaron) for a millennium.  Azlant and Thassilon are destroyed, and humans are forced to do they can to survive.  Elves, who had been present but less dominant than the humans, flee through magical gates, cross the Crown of the World, or hide in the Darklands.  Dwarves, living in other areas of the Darklands, undertake their great Quest for the Sky, driving their ancient Orc enemies before them as they push upwards.

Age of Anguish:
     -4294 to -3471:  The darkness passes and humans begin rebuilding civilization.  The gnomes arrive on Golarion, fleeing an unknown terror of the First World.  The pit of Gormuz opens in Casmaron, disgorging the first Spawn of Rovagug.  Old-Mage Jatembe, a powerful mage in the Mwangi expanse of Garund, brings the light of learning back to the world.

Age of Destiny:
     -3470 to -1:  Osirion is founded, ruled by God-Kings and Pharaohs, then falling into decline.  Taldor is founded by descendants of Lost Azlant.

Age of Enthronement:
     1 to 4605:  Aroden, last of the Azlanti, raises the Starstone from the sea, founds the city-state of Absalom, and becomes god of human culture, innovation, and history.  The Taldan empire expands due to the efforts of several Armies of Expansion.  Aroden leads Taldor against the wizard-king Tar-Baphon, who later rises as the most powerful lich ever known, The Whispering Tyrant.  Norgorber, Cayden Cailean, and Iomedae all pass the test of the starstone during this time, ascending to godhood.  Cheliax is founded in western of Taldor, eventually secedes, and gradually supplants the Taldan empire as the preeminent human society.  Chelish forces found Korvosa in southeast Varisia and push the native Shoanti tribes out of the fertile southern lands onto the arid Storval Plateau.  A group of settlers leave Korvosa and found Magnimar in western Varisia.  Baba Yaga conquers the eastern territories of the Land of the Linnorm Kings, founding the country of Irrisen.  Cheliax prepares for the Prophesied return of Aroden to lead the empire in the coming Age of Glory.

Age of Lost Omens:
     4606 to now:  Rather than Aroden appearing, three storms wracked Golarion, one remaining as the eye of Abendago.  Aroden's clerics found themselves disconnected from their god, who is now assumed dead.  Cheliax falls into civil war, resulting in the Asmodeus-worshipping House Thrune taking the throne.  Thousands of disaffected citizens leave Korvosa for Magnimar.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rules Review: Intimidate

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'm spending a lot of time with the rules, and posting about them in an attempt to up my game as a dungeon master.  If I know the rules better, it will be a better gaming experience for everyone. On Saturday, I was a little off my game mentally, and I felt the game suffered. I still need to figure out the best way for me personally to manage combat.

Anyway, intimidate...  Well, Grace likes to intimidate, so this one has come up a lot in the current campaign.  My adjudication of this rule has been inconsistent at best, completely wrong at worst (to the party's advantage though, in the latter case).  So, the reason Grace's ability to successfully intimidate foes has varied over time is that I haven't been applying the rule correctly.  So let's look at it in detail. Here is the text from the Pathfinder System Reference Document.



You can use this skill to frighten an opponent or to get them to act in a way that benefits you. This skill includes verbal threats and displays of prowess.
Check: You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target's Hit Dice + the target's Wisdom modifier. If successful, the target gives you the information you desire, takes actions that do not endanger it, or otherwise offers limited assistance. After the Intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities. If you fail this check by 5 or more, the target attempts to deceive you or otherwise hinder your activities.
Demoralize: You can use this skill to cause an opponent to become shaken for a number of rounds. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target's Hit Dice + the target's Wisdom modifier. If you are successful, the target is shaken for 1 round. This duration increases by 1 round for every 5 by which you beat the DC. You can only threaten an opponent in this way if they are within 30 feet and can clearly see and hear you. Using demoralize on the same creature only extends the duration; it does not create a stronger fear condition.
Action: Using Intimidate to change an opponent's attitude requires 1 minute of conversation. Demoralizing an opponent is a standard action.
Try Again: You can attempt to Intimidate an opponent again, but each additional check increases the DC by +5. This increase resets after 1 hour has passed.
Special: You also gain a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks if you are larger than your target and a –4 penalty on Intimidate checks if you are smaller than your target.
If you have the Persuasive feat, you get a bonus on Intimidate checks (see Feats).
A half-orc gets a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks.

So... Intimidate isn't really a combat skill.  Once the initiative dice come out, the time to intimidate is over.  Unless you want to spend an entire minute (10 combat rounds) to attempt it.  So, basically, if you walk into a situation where you're likely to be attacked on sight, or where you have already initiated combat, intimidate isn't going to allow you to change a foe's attitude towards you.

But, it is going to remain a useful skill in non-combat situations.  It will also remain useful in combat situations, as the Demoralize action makes clear.  Adding a shaken status to your opponents, even if just for a round, can certainly come in handy.  So, that's how intimidate should work (sorry for the earlier confusion), and how it will work in the future... if I can keep my rules straight. 

Ptolus Campaign Journal Episode Whatever

The party fought their way through the Temple of the Ebon Hand, but not without cost.  Harumi was caught in some sort of magical trap that was beyond the ability of the party to rescue her from.  The party continued on and managed to rescue several hostages, but were not able to kill or capture all of the Ebon Hand cultists.  While the party holed up in what appeared to be the office of the high priest to rest and recuperate, the remaining cultists fled into the night.  When the party emerged, they found the few hostages that had been left behind.  They engaged in combat with a fearsome transformed "Child of the Hand," which appeared to be much like a troll.  They triumphed, and easily dispatched a grick that was kept by the cultists.

The party took the rescued prisoners and the one victim that had been half-transformed by ritual into a Child of the Hand, to the Cathedral of St. Valian, and left them in the care of the Lothian priesthood. Brother Fabitor was unable to help the party recover Harumi, but directed the party to consult Kaira Swanwing, a prominent mage and leader of the Knights of the Golden Cross.  Swanwing decided to help the party.  She told the party that she would research what spell might possibly have trapped Harumi and go to the Temple.

While there, Draygon questioned Swanwing about the references to the "Galchutt."  Swanwing told him that the Galchutt were ancient gods of chaos, revered by many of the cults in the city.

Later on, while walking in Midtown, the party were delayed by a random herd of sheep.  The party was stopped in front of a shop that they had never noticed before, a shop that sells dice and other gaming implements.  Of course, this intrigued Tzakarac, who went in to browse the merchants wares. The owner of the shop, Prontius Callisto, invited the gnome cleric to a game of chance. Tzakarac easily won, and left with a few extra gold pieces, and a set of carved pearl dice (which he purchased rather than won). Callisto invited Tzakarac to join him for gambling in some of Ptolus' finer establishments at some indeterminate time in the future.  

Sunday, February 02, 2014

A Rather Important Post

Because it will add to the overwhelming avalanche of new posts to keep up with, yet is not from Hadrian.  Read it carefully.

Oh, and don't forget to watch out for Tree Dragons.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Things You Would Know By Now-- The Ghostly Minstrel

You've spent a lot of time there so far, so it seems like you should know some more about the Minstrel.

Here it is from the outside:

And here's a look at the floorplan:

The Ghostly Minstrel, located as it is in Delver's Square, is the spot in Ptolus for Adventurers to gather. Vard Hillman is the owner of the Minstrel, but he spends most of his time in the kitchen, or in his makeshift office in the third floor storeroom.  It is unlikely that any of you know him, other than Farland.  You would recognized Tellith Herdsman, the pretty young woman with reddish-brown hair who works the front desk and manages the inn operations of the establishment. And of course, you all know Zade Kenevan, the bald, skinny, and gruff bartender who serves Farland the famous "grbsh samches."  Tairn Ursalato is a bard of some local renown that regularly plays in the taproom.

And don't forget Scabies the dog: 

The rumor is that the Ghostly Minstrel actually earned its name, but none of you have ever encountered any phantoms roaming the halls. You've spent enough time there that you're beginning to recognize some of the other regulars, and getting an inkling that some of them might be rather important or famous Ptolusites.

Calendar, The Fictional One

It is, regardless of anything I've said before that can be brought up to impeach this statement, early Fall in Ptolus.   The infamous fire at the Cloud theatre occurred in the month of Blessing, and it is now the month of Toil.  The new campaign began on the 9th of Toil, and your intervening adventures have been packed into the two subsequent weeks.  It is now the 25th of Toil, as you weather The Storm, and fight in the Temple of the Ebon Hand.

In the future the time scale will become more ordinary, with more down time built into the narrative between all the questing. 

Blast from the Past

While digging through some boxes of crap in my spare bedroom closet, looking for some office supplies, I found an old notebook, with this inside:

A well used character sheet.  

Amongst other things in the same notebook were some amusing notes, such as this one: "Hadrian confers with each member of the party (except Lummox) --Do you remember when Lummox stared acting odd (more odd)? Leelu thinks it was in the Air Temple.  Do you remember anything that might have happened that may have bestowed a curse upon Lummox?"

Good times. 

Product Review: Hero Lab

I was playing around and looking at the different combat manager/character sheet apps available for the iPad the other night.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was checking out Hero Lab for my desktop.  I don't need a computer program to generate a PC right now, since I don't see myself playing in the near future (unless I decide to go the full nerd and play in some of my FLGS's Pathfinder Society games).  In any event, generating a single PC could, in no way, justify the expense of a brand new program.  BUT... what if you are a DM running an urban campaign where there is a high likelihood that the vast majority of the enemies your party encounters are going to be NPCs rather than Bestiary monsters?  And what if the campaign you are running is statted for 3.0-3.5 and the challenge ratings/NPC abilities don't make sense for the more powerful characters in a Pathfinder campaign? Well, Hero Lab might actually come in handy. It's a lot quicker than generating NPCs yourself, and it lets you know if your character is conforming to the rules as you make it (remember--you can't have more ranks in a skill than you have hit dice!).

So, after playing around with the demo mode, I downloaded the full product license.  I've been restatting Ptolus NPCs to conform with the Pathfinder rules, and tweaking them for higher or lower CR as befits our campaign. So far, I've found this to be an excellent tool.  When creating an NPC spellcaster, for instance, the program outputs a very nice and easy to read statblock, and generates a spell list which can be viewed in list, brief summary of the spell, or full spell text format.  It even calculates save DCs for the spells. So, I can have a nice NPC character summary in front of me with a well formatted spell description for all of the characters I'm running. Thus eliminating the need to constantly be flipping through the book for descriptions of spells that I'm less familiar with.

Hero Lab also has support for multiple game systems and many of the PFRPG splat-books.  I looked at the tools included for Savage Worlds in the demo mode (but seriously, this product makes a lot less sense for a system like Savage Worlds, the entire point of which is to be simpler--for a complex and rules intensive system like Pathfinder though, it really comes in handy).  The downside, and this is a big downside, is cost.  The initial Hero Lab license includes access to the database for the core rules of a single system.  In my case, obviously, that is Pathfinder.  There is a bit more content from outside the Core rulebook that is included, but not much.  All of the NPCs from the NPC Codex, for example, are included and available for tweaking.  But if you want, say, all the spells from Ultimate Magic, or the feats from Ultimate Combat, or the character classes from the Advanced Player's Guide, you have to pony up more cash.  And a not insignificant amount.  Each of the add-ons I just listed above are $9.99 each.  A not insubstantial investment, especially if, like me, you've already purchased hardcopies of those books.  Furthermore, it's not like you're getting an electronic copy of the entire content of those works when you shell out your extra cash, you're just getting the database of the spells, feats, etc. included in those games for your character creation software.  You're not getting the rules discussions, advice etc., that you get when you have the actual book.  You're not getting the layout of all the alternate class abilities for a class on one page so that you can, without fumbling around through menus and such, look at the different options for your character with ease. Which is not to deny the usefulness of having all the extra data in Hero Lab so that you can create more complex characters with the extra options available in the Pathfinder splat books.  It just seems a bit pricey to me.

On the other hand, from a GM perspective, I am seriously thinking about shelling out the extra money to get the Bestiary package which gives you the data from Bestiaries 1, 2, and 3 at a discounted price. Having that dataset in Hero Lab could be invaluable.  The Bestiary books are little more than databases themselves, so the issue of having the extra content I discussed above is not nearly as big a deal.  And, having that data in Hero Lab means that it is easy to scale up or scale down a monster, and to do so without running afoul of the monster creation rules (I think. Maybe that feature won't function quite the same with monsters).  This of course, would avoid those situations where, for instance, a GM might want to throw a Rakasha at the party--but a Rakasha is CR 10 and will slaughter the PCs.  No problem, pop it into the software, and take away hit die and abilities to scale it down to an acceptable challenge. Or conversely, maybe a GM wants to throw a dire wolf at his players, but they're past the point that a dire wolf is a challenge.  Not wanting to create a horde of monsters, it's simple to just scale up the one at hand, and now the party is fighting a DIRE dire wolf.  Rules for advancing monsters can be found in the books, for sure, but doing it in a computer program and then just printing out the statblocks is significantly easier, and takes a load of work off of GMs.

So, in summation, a good product that I've already found very useful, but one that is not without its drawbacks, especially if you want to create characters with feats, abilities, and spells not found in the Core rules (or if you want to use it for multiple game systems-- again, you'll be shelling out more cash for those databases).  Despite the very real cost issues for extra content, I have to give Hero Lab an enthusiastic thumbs up. 

Friday, January 31, 2014


This is an important post.  For some fictional people anyway.  Starting with the next game, please adjust your XP to 5,865. (This includes the points you earned in the last game session).  From now on, you will be advancing your characters on the medium speed scale under the Pathfinder rules. (Page 30 in the PRFRPG Core rulebook if you have it).  Also, I think we'll be going to a new system for hit points, starting at your next level.  Instead of taking the maximum hit points you will take the better of your roll (+ CON bonus, of course),  or half your hit die + 1 (+ CON bonus, of course).

I think that I will also reverse my long standing policy on material components.  I've always disliked the rule, but I've been reconsidering it.  The rules assume that you have the spell components for lower level spells, and big powerful spells should cost more to cast.  There should be consequences for needing to be raised from the dead, or casting a necrotic spell that slays large numbers of opponents with only a chance at a saving throw.  I'm willing to entertain arguments against this policy if someone wants to make them.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rules Review: Attacks of Opportunity

Yet another rule that gets used in virtually every combat, but can easily be misunderstood and misapplied.

So, boiling it down, attacks of opportunity require two things-- that you are within range, and that you trigger it.  Generally, this means that you have to be in an adjacent square, and take one of the actions which prompt attacks of opportunity.  However, creatures with reach, or creatures using weapons with reach, can make attacks of opportunity against targets that are two squares away (10 ft.).

What then provokes an attack of opportunity?

1. Moving out of a threatened square; and
2. Taking certain actions within a threatened square.

The actions which, of course, most often provoke an attack of opportunity are making a ranged attack and casting a spell.  Casting a quickened spell, and casting on the defensive are exceptions to this rule. Unarmed attacks (in most instances) will also trigger an attack of opportunity. Drinking a potion, reading a scroll, and stabilizing a dying character will also do so.   If you aid another in an action that would normally provoke an attack of opportunity, the act of aiding will also provoke one.

Using spell like abilities provokes attacks of opportunity, but channeling energy does not. Various move actions also provoke, including loading a hand or light crossbow, picking up an item, sheathing a weapon, and retrieving a stored item.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rules Review: DC

For some reason, this is one of those rules that is relatively simple and straightforward, but that I nevertheless always forget.  Obviously, I don't forget what a difficulty class is, I just regularly fumble about on how to calculate it.  I'll arbitrarily assign a DC on the fly for some things just based on my own subjective thought about how difficult they probably are.  Which is, of course, perfectly appropriate.  However, in certain situations DC is more important and needs to be more precisely calculated.  So, it would behoove me to really get the rule down for all situations instead of vaguely mumbling "Hmm, so add ten and your spell level... and then something, and...."

I know, this post is making me sound stupid. 

The most common DC's we need to know are spell saves.  (Seriously, now that I'm writing this I can't believe that I've always had so much trouble with this).  The basic formula for spell save DC is 10 + spell level + the relevant modifier (i.e., the ability modifier the casting class uses for spells, WIS for clerics, INT for wizards, etc.).  Combat will run smoother if everyone knows what the DC's for their spells are before we sit down to play.  Easy enough.  

The other common DC's that you need to know off the top of your head are also related to spell casting. Distractions can interrupt spells, and cause them to fail. Table 9-1 on page 207 of the PFRPG Core Rulebook lays out DC's for concentration checks to complete spellcasting. Casting, of course, can provoke an attack of opportunity.  If you are injured while casting a spell, the DC to succeed at casting it is 10 + damage taken + level of the spell you are casting. (This can also happen if you are casting a full round spell and take damage on an enemy's attack during their initiative count -- not just due to attacks of opportunity). If you are taking continuing damage, you still have to make a concentration check.  In that case, the DC is 10 + 1/2 the damage that the continuous source last dealt + the level of the spell you're casting. 

If you are affected by another spell while attempting to cast that doesn't deal damage, the DC is the DC of the other spell's saving throw + the level of the spell you are casting.  If the spell you are affected by does not have a saving throw, it's DC is equal to what it's saving throw would be if it had one. 

Concentration checks while grappling or pinned are based on a DC of 10 + grappler's CMB + level of the spell you are casting.  You may also choose to cast defensively when in combat and thus not provoke an attack of opportunity.  In that instance DC is 15 + double the level of the spell you're casting.   The rulebook details the DC's for a number of other spellcasting situations that are less common, but may add some options to your tactics toolbox.

DC's for a variety of skill checks are listed with the appropriate skill.  Using acrobatics to avoid an attack of opportunity, for example, has a DC equal to the threatening character's Combat Maneuver Defense.  To move through the enemy's space using acrobatics is 5 + the enemy's CMD.  

In our current campaign, Grace likes to attempt to intimidate rather than jump right into fighting.  DC for an intimidate check is 10 + target's hit dice + the target's Wisdom modifier.  (This check can also be used after combat starts to demoralize the target). 

Some combat actions have special DC's, e.g. feinting. Feinting is a standard action. The DC for a feint is 10 + enemy's base attack bonus + enemy's Wisdom modifier.  (Unless your opponent is trained in Sense Motive, in which case the DC becomes 10 + his Sense Motive bonus, if this value is higher than the normal DC).  

DC's for climbing or breaking different walls, breaking doors, perceiving and disabling traps, surviving in different wilderness or environmental conditions, are found in Chapter 13 of the Core Rulebook. 

Okay, that's my brief (or not so brief) review of the rules on how to calculate Difficulty Class. This doesn't cover every DC in the rules, but does address the most common ones.  

Ptolus Session Recap

As the storm continued it's relentless assault on Ptolus, our heroes went their separate ways.  Through a series of events, Draygon and Tzakaric found themselves recruited by Brother Fabitor to investigate a kidnapping.  They were accompanied by Akiru, a warrior associated with the Church of Lothian.  The three were able to track the kidnappers from the victim's house to a pottery shop, and the sewers underneath it.  They killed a number of low level cultists and a drow nobleman and his giant spider companion, freeing the kidnapped boy in the process.  Later that same evening, Draygon received information about his missing cousin.  With Akiru still in tow, Draygon and Tzakaric investigated the address that they had been given, hoping to find Draygon's cousin Crom.

What they found was a secret underground temple where a barbarian was indeed being held captive by cultists.  Unfortunately, it was not Draygon's cousin, but another barbarian named Badvoc.  Badvoc had been badly wounded and was in no shape to give Draygon any information as to Crom's whereabouts.  The group delivered him to Brother Fabitor's care at St. Gustav's Chapel, and returned to the Ghostly Minstrel.

Meanwhile, Farland was out and about with his carousing gnome friends.  After spending some quality time in some of Ptolus' seediest gnomish drinking holes, he started to make his way back to the Ghostly Minstrel.  Along the way he ran into a familiar dog, and it quickly became apparent that something was wrong.  A ripped piece of cloth atop a nearby fence and the dog's insistent whining led Farland to the conclusion that something had happened to his child nemesis.  He scaled the fence and found the tracks of two men in the muddy garden on its other side.  He followed the tracks to a nearby wine cellar, where he found two thugs and the tied up boy.  A quick fight ensued, leaving one of the thugs dead, and the other fleeing into the night with an arrow in his shoulder.  Farland freed the boy, escorted him home, and returned to the Ghostly Minstrel.

Bogan is approached at the bar of the Minstrel by a courier bearing an invitation to a party in the Noble's Quarter.  He secures transport and spends the rest of the rainy night in the company of some of Ptolus' most important and drunkest citizens.

Grace receives an urgent message from a contact in the City Watch that knows of her adventuring prowess.  He tells Grace that he has no Watchmen to spare to investigate what is apparently a plague of kidnappings in the city.  The Warrens District has erupted into rioting and nearly the entire manpower of the Watch is engaged in restoring order (or at least containing the chaos to the Warrens).  Grace recruits Harumi to help her and the two interview a family that has reported the  kidnapping of a their child.  To their surprise, the boy is home when they arrive.  They investigate and find the underground lair where the boy was held.  It becomes clear that this boy is the same one that was, just hours before, rescued by Draygon and Tzakaric.  Grace takes the evidence that she finds at the scene back to the City Watch.  The Temple of the Ebon Hand, it appears, is behind the kidnappings.  Her contact asks Grace to assemble a party and raid the temple.....

(Excuse the piss poor writing... including the mysterious tense change in the last paragraph.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Combat Easier Making Thoughts

I thinking of trying a couple of things in the near future to try and streamline combat (in addition to the "learn the rules" project I just posted on).  There are some alternative initiative systems out there that we might consider.  One idea that I wanted to run by you guys is the idea of NPC minions acting on the initiative count.  More important NPCs would still get their own, but the sword and spell fodder would all move on the same turn.  For example, in the last combat of last night, where you faced off against three low-level clerics and the more badass priest would have taken up two spots in the initiative order instead of four.  This is just something that would make it easier for me to track. 

Here is another interesting idea which might be worth considering. 

Another thing that I'm thinking about is reducing the use of miniatures.  That is, I think that it might be useful for me to use generic markers, like blank d6's to represent enemies.  This could have a couple of benefits.  First, it will make the tactical situation clearer.  A lot of times it can get confusing as to what miniature represents an NPC and what miniature represents your other party members.  Secondly, I think it might help the game from a narrative perspective.  Many times, despite the number of miniatures that we have at our disposal, we don't have the right miniatures.  Having a generic marker representing your foes, instead of the wrong miniature may make it easier to visualize them, and the combat the way that they're supposed to look.  If I tell you that you're fighting a drow cleric, that might be easier to visualize if he's not being represented on the board as a bugbear.   I could also number the tokens to make them easier to tell apart for the tracking of hit points.  I'm sure I wouldn't use generic markers for every foe, especially when you would be fighting a unique villain, or one that we had the perfect miniature for.

I look forward to your feedback.  

Random Fun Stuff

During my recent extended geek-out, I've been watching a lot of Kurt Wiegel's videos.  If you're not familiar with his work, I highly recommend checking out his videos.  If you're interested in another system, or even supplements for whatever you're playing already, there's a good chance he's reviewed it already.  Worth checking out if you're really into gaming. 

Also, this is pretty cool, a Google-based remote gaming system. 

I've now watched all of the available episodes of Standard Action.  Like I said, I've been in full on geek mode for the last several weeks. 

And if you like Standard Action, you might also check out Starlit Citadel's review channel on YouTube.  It's really more focused on board games, but I find myself strangely drawn to it.  Hmmm... can't really put my finger on why. 

Rules, Rules, Rules, or Postapalooza, Pt. 1.

This is a preview of coming attractions, so to speak.  The next edition of the Ptolus Campaign Log/after action review is in the offing.  In a similar vein, I've been thinking a bit about last night's game, how it went, what went well, what went wrong, etc., etc.  One of the problems with a Pathfinder campaign, is obvious: Pathfinder (D&D in general, actually) is that it is a complex rules-heavy system.  There are lots of details to keep track of, and rules and variations of rules for almost every conceivable situation. As a DM, my biggest weakness (aside from a seemingly inborn lack of organization) is my grasp of the rules.  Obviously, I know the very basics, but I get tripped up on the details--a lot.  And there are a few rules that, for whatever reason, I can just never seem to get through my head.  If I knew the rules better, the combats would move quicker, and the game would be smoother.  Thus, creating a better gaming experience for everyone.  So, with that in mind, I'm embarking on a project to improve my understanding of the rules.  Hopefully, this will lead to fewer pauses in the action to look stuff up, and really make our games more fun.

Here is how I plan to go about this.  I'm going to start blogging about the rules.  That is, I'm going to pick a rule (say, what provokes an attack of opportunity, for instance), and write a post about that rule, perhaps with an example of how it would play out in-game.  After all, reading is generally just the first step in really learning a concept.  For most of us, writing about it is what really seals the deal.  Also, I think this will be fun.

You guys also know that I've always had a certain level of flightiness when it comes to rules systems.  I'm always wanting to try new stuff out and have never been really able to settle on one system that I want to do most of my gaming in.  The problem with that is, of course, what I mentioned above: most roleplaying systems (not all) are pretty complex, take time to learn, and are much more fun once the DM and the players have achieved a certain level of mastery of the rules.  My new found fascination with Savage Worlds is no secret to anyone.  In any event, I think I have pretty much decided to commit myself to a limited number of systems.  I think you can guess which ones.  (With a caveat-- I really, really, really do want to try Nobilis at some point.  I have it on my Kindle). I'm planning on doing a Savage Worlds one-shot (or mini campaign) if we get tired of Ptolus at some point and need a break (yes, I know, we'll have to play more often for that to happen).  I don't know what genre I'll be using Savage Worlds for, but at some point I do want to run a campaign in the homebrew setting I've been thinking about for years.* Maybe in PFRPG, maybe in Savage Worlds, I don't know.

I'd love to know what other kinds of games you guys might be interested in.  I know that, as a group, we're pretty invested in high fantasy (me no less than anyone else).  In trying a new system, would you want to try the same kind of setting? Or would you be interested in doing, say, weird West (ala Deadlands), Sci-Fi, Pirates (or fantasy Pirates), Pulp, grittier fantasy, superpowers, historical fantasy (Weird Wars Rome, for example), etc.?  Please, don't let this discussion call into question my commitment to our current campaign.  The fact that I'm spending a lot of time thinking about RPGs is just evidence of how much fun I'm having in the campaign that we are playing.  So, looking forward to more frequent and better gaming in the future.

* I originally conceived of this as a 4e world.  Are any of us ever going to play 4e ever again?  (Wouldn't fit to my commitment to limit my systems, now would it?)  What am I going to do with all of these?