Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Jerk

I think I was "that guy" at the gaming convention. I attacked other characters, the characters of people sitting right across from me playing D&D. I think I may need to apologize.

We were playing a 5e adventure called Smash & Grab. We were to enter a complex to retrieve a magical lamp before other parties could find it. Little did we know what this really meant. The characters we were using were C/N, N, L/N. There were no good characters at our table, and there were no evil characters at our table. I had a C/N tiefling warlock.

We found out, through the adventure, that there was another party in the complex, less than an hour ahead of us, that was also after the magic lamp. We set our sights on this party and tried hard to catch up with them. We were pretty sure that they not only wanted to get to the lamp before us but they also had retrieved some items along the way that we needed to fulfill our quest.

Well, we did catch up to them, and what happened really surprised me.

Apparently the other party was another group of players running through the same adventure at another table.  When we caught up to them (entering in game via a door on the opposite side of the room they were in), our DM had us get up, take all our stuff to the other table, and describe ourselves to the other players. I apologized right away, saying "this was much easier when we weren't staring at you face-to-face." I then allowed this other party to expend all their resources fighting the big bad guy. Our team fought, too, but only using minimal resources to save ourselves from immediate threats. They fought through threats and took the fight to the bad guy.

Then, when the fight was over and all was saved, I looked at my character, thought about how our party saw this rival party for the last three hours before meeting up, and attacked their survivors. I thought long and hard (considering the time restraints of ending a convention game) before doing it, and I convinced myself it was something that my character would have done. I still think I may have been right.

However, it didn't have to happen. The DMs weren't expecting it to happen. Both teams had completed their slightly different quests, killed the bad guys, and all survived to tell the story...until I attacked. Half of their party went down immediately. The other half escaped, shocked.

Ugh, following through with what your character would do isn't always the right way to play. I'm rather sorry I was "that guy." All I can do is endeavor to act better next time I'm in a similar situation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Four Very Different D&D 5e Experiences

At SnowCon last weekend, I played four four-hour sessions of D&D 5e. I came away with four completely different experiences.

The first game was Death & Taxes, with Edwin Nagy (Lesser Gnome Zach Glazier was also at the convention, but he was wandering around enjoying himself elsewhere in the room). There was a fine balance of exploration and fighting in this session. It was my first 5e session of the con, and I was getting used to playing the edition again. I found my dragonborn cleric rather interesting, and I was also interested in how the other players ran the other characters at the table. We were unable to finish the adventure (it is an entire boxed set), but it got me interested in 5e and interested in maybe purchasing the Death & Taxes boxed set.

The second game was called Coming Down the Mountain. We were escorting a caravan through a mountain pass and had to stop for the night in a waystation near the top of the mountain. We were woefully nonproficient and allowed our charge to be kidnapped. We had to invade a Yeti cave system to rescue people. What was especially fun for me in this game was the extent to which I could roleplay my character. I played a gnome barbarian (who was raised by, really). The game setup seemed (to me, as just one player out of 4) to be just background for really hamming it up with my gnome. I left feeling really good about my roleplaying. The fact that we accomplished our mission was secondary.

The third game was brilliant. It was called Smash & Grab. We were to enter a complex to retrieve a magical lamp before other parties could find it. Little did we know what this really meant. A few things struck me about this game. The first was my character. It was a tiefling warlock that, to this moment, I would love to run for an entire campaign, 1st to 30th level. The kicker in the sitting, though, was the time our whole table got up, moved to another table with another DM and other players, and played through an encounter with our two groups meeting up at the end the adventure to fight the big bad guy and retrieve the lamp. This was a completely unexpected treat that multiplied the fun I was already having.

The final game was a conversion of the Tomb of Horrors to 5e. There was no fighting. There was little roleplaying (we tried, but the scenario didn't really encourage it). It was all trap finding and problem solving. We worked together, watched out for each other, and survived as long as the timer allowed us to play. The experience was highly satisfying, especially the fact that we explored further than the group who played the night before, and therefore we won a prize from the DM.

There. Four very different D&D 5e session, each one fun for a different reason. I would definitely consider this a versatile game.

Monday, January 11, 2016

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 20

Vaervenshyael - Female Elf Duellist

My companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Veteran
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Pistoleer
Doctor Johann Wilhelm Woeller - Human Physician

(Previous Notes)

Angestag, Erntezeit 20, 2531

Each of you wake late. The events of the night before exhausting. New aches, cuts and bruises to tend to yet already there is talk of action. The talismans may be known, but now they must be recovered.

Back to the tower the halfling and the Princeps demand. Recover the talisman there and find the next before the Abdul Al'shar does something more rash than sending assassins for books.

Oh damn, those bells are ringing again. Time to wake up. Time to learn what surprises 9-10-11 has left Padua for discovery in the morning.

(Meta: I am preparing early for my next career. I don't want the trappings to be unavailable when I'm ready to advance. I bought some at the beginning of this sitting and commissioned the rest.)

The priest, Roderic, insists on coming with us to the tower. He will be bringing his scribe, and acolyte named Otto. I have warned him that I cannot promise his safety. Last time he almost got us all killed. The Verenans are blind to their own safety when it comes to their quest for knowledge.

Tankred brings two of his own troop, Van Duster and Friebald. They, on the other hand, are good people to have nearby when danger presents itself. With them at our back, I have confidence heading forward into danger.

We plotted a trip around the guysers this time. We have plenty of gunpowder supplies and do not need the sulfur the area would provide.

When we arrived at the tower, Pieter Adler's campsite looks abandoned. He remained here while we returned to town. It looks like he hasn't been back up to camp since we left. I headed down into the hole he dug in the back of the tower. The basement smelled like an overripe human midden. I did not see any immediate sign of Pieter, so I returned to the camp.

The next morning, the party reentered the tower via the hole. We left Roderic and Otto in the protection of Van and Friebold in camp. However, it seems the priest is difficult to contain.

To the east, we explored the room with the webs that we had ignored during our last trip. The floor was littered with dry, brittle bones. Something had sucked the marrow free of these small humanoid skeletons. I asked if anyone knew what kind of creature would do such a thing and was met with only silence.

Tankred heard whimpering to the west, where we found a staircase winding down. He said he saw green, glowing eyes and a crest of red hair. This did not match Pieter's description, so I readied my rapier and gauche. I noted human sized boot marks going up and down the stairs.

On a landing below, we found the mutated form of Pieter, dressed in tattered remains, and praying to Shallya, the human goddess of mercy and healing.  He had a red, lizard-like crest growing out of his head and scaly skin. Wilhelm freaked out, and Pieter ran further down the stairs.

We followed the mutant Pieter into a large room at the bottom of the stairway. There were old piles of dirt everywhere. The room smelled even more like a city outhouse. The odor reminded us of decay, which reminded us of the warnings of Nurgle we had been told. Roderic found the whole scenario fascinating, dictating at high speed his observations to the frenetic pace of Otto's note-taking. So much for leaving the priest in the capable hands of the mercenaries above.

Wilhelm panicked and shot his new invention, a crude blunderbuss, at the mutated prospector. Pieter cried out as he was hit and tried to run, but he had been crippled by the weapon's shrapnel.

Pieter's cries suddenly turned intelligible when questioned by the doctor. "I have explored too far...touched too much...there is treasure...there is corruption below...Shallya, bring me a merciful, quick death...."

I stepped forward. "I am your goddess of mercy today," and I plunged my rapier into his bulbous green eye. The frazzled Wilhelm, whose mind I fear is no longer quite sane, seemed to be the only human who knew how to properly deal with a body corrupted by chaos. I have no problem stepping up when they cannot do what must be done.

We returned to the surface to regroup. I am to check the resources of the talisman for any hint to how we may proceed. Unfortunately, our path may lead directly into the bowels of this tower which corrupted the miner in such a grotesque manner.

Friday, January 8, 2016

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 19

Vaervenshyael - Female Elf Duellist

My companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Veteran
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Pistoleer
Doctor Johann Wilhelm Woeller - Human Physician

(Previous Notes)

The Fight in the Warehouse

We learn from Roderic, the priest of Verena, that the next talisman is the leather skin of a great frog. He states that the blood of a great frog will reveal the third talisman.

We were in Azmir's warehouse. While learning these things, the party was attacked by spies. They came through the window of the second story room we were in. Vaervenshyael grabbed the tooth off the table in front of them and drew her rapier.

She was unable to disarm the foe, but pierced him with the sword a couple times. The party was able to defeat the attackers, but not before they set Azmir's warehouse on fire. A search showed they were Arabyan with black turbins.

The party joined in a bucket brigade to save the warehouse. It had the only working crane in town.

Roderic asked more questions about the Tooth of Pride. Vaervenshyael had little to say.

Roderic tried to insinuate he was going to the tower with the party. Vaervenshyael relayed many, convincing arguments why this was not a good idea. It remains to be seen if the priest will listen to reason or not.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 18

Vaervenshyael - Female Elf Duellist

My companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Veteran
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Engineer
Doctor Johann Wilhelm Woeller - Human Physician

(Previous Notes)

The party slid out the postern gate to the temple of Morr. They were asked to set the bodies out just so. There were circles. There were mirrors. There were insanity points for witnessing the ritual of summoning a soul back into a body to question it.

Wilhelm continued to be tormented by the brutality such magic necessitates. He started to scream and pull his handgun. Vaervenshyael worked to muffle his screams with one hand and disarm him with the other. Too much noise would interrupt the ritual.

The recently deceased priest's corpse spoke of "Nurgle's corruption...pouring out of the west." However, the old priest's corpse saw a tower. It saw dark winds pouring forth from the tower. It saw "the three of them" entering and leaving the tower. That was all. The party felt the need to follow up with Azmir the merchant.

We learned more about the Seven Talismans of Al-alshar. The doctor had heard some of this information before. The Verenan priest believed there was another talisman at the tower. He backed up his beliefs by stating he was right about other things he thought were at the tower. He thought the next talisman would have something to do with "a large toad."

Vaervenshyael's takeaway was that they needed to return to the tower.

The Seven Talismans:
Toad Skin
Snake Skin
Lion's Tooth (in our possession)
Snail or Slug...something
Pig Skull
Goat hoof/Goat horn
Peacock feather

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

[D&D 2e] The Lost Mine of Phandelver 3 *SPOILERS*

Mist: Human Shadow Walker (Mage/Thief)
Jairus: Elven Mage/Thief
Kell: Human Ravager (Barbarian)
Sanaka: Human Windwalker (Priest)
Gunel: Human Fighter/Gladiator

The characters began the session very beat up, completely out of spells, and not a little scared after last session's encounter with the Redbrands at the Sleeping Giant.  They had found out that the leader of the Redbrands was a wizard, and they needed a safe place to recuperate before challenging him. 

Gunel the Fearless headed back to her room at Stonehill Inn. She was not going to run scared, not when sleep was calling after an honorable battle. (Gunel's player was absent for most of the sitting.)

The others decided to seek the aid of Linene, proprietor of the Lionshield Coster, for asylum. They had done her a favor in the previous sitting, and she had offered her help in the future. Linene set the party up in a strongroom below the business. She retired to her home next door for the night. Mist was asked to set guard for a couple hours, circling the Coster in the shadows to make sure they were safe. She then retired to the strongroom herself for much needed rest.

Unbeknownst to the party, Glasstaff, the magic-using leader of the Redbrands, had spies in the town...spies who told Glasstaff exactly where the party had secreted themselves for the night. Upon hearing their location, he collected his remaining Redbrand forces and certain scrolls, then made his way to Linene's house in force.

The benevolent proprietor stood no chance against the ruffians that forced their way into her house. The Redbrands tied her up and took her with them as a hostage when assaulting the party. Through Linene, the party had they keys to the Lionshield Coster and the knowledge of the layout of the building. Glasstaff cast Strength on 3 of his goons from certain scrolls in his possession.

The PCs were asleep when the Redbrands thrust open the strongroom door, while Glasstaff cast Sleep. Mist, Jairus, and Kell fell to the spell immediately, some never waking to the opening of the door in the first place. Sanaka remained awake but was taken by Glasstaff's Charm spell before he could arm himself for a fight. The PCs were blindfolded and led out of the Coster toward the Redbrand hideout. Glasstaff, in a show of kindness, left Linene locked in the basement strongroom "for her protection." 

The party awoke in separate male/female cells in the basement of the Redbrand hideout. The cells already contained other prisoners: the family of Phandalin's murdered woodworker. The party's weapons and equipment were missing. They were still out of spells and low on hit points. Their outer clothing lay in a pile in the middle of the room between the two cells. They had nothing.

Except, Mist keeps lockpicks threaded in the seam of her undergarments. Try as she might, she could not pick the locks to the cell, nor could Jairus after she tossed him the picks. However, luck would soon swing their way.

The sound of Redbrands celebrating flowed into the room through the one visible door. Later in the night, two Redbrands entered. One immediately fell asleep in the pile of clothing in the center of the guardroom. The other looked to the female cell, then looked to the male cell. He headed toward the males and began relieving himself beside Sanaka's prone form. Jairus immediately leapt up and grabbed the Redbrand by his hanging cloak. He jerked the drunk guard's form into the bars of the cell, bouncing the man's skull off a bar. He slowly lowered the body, and then ripped the guard's keys off his belt. The party and the woodworker's family were free. Sanaka took the opportunity to repay the guard who had urinated on him. Jairus took a cloak.

Mist put on one of the two red cloaks and went to explore the beyond the door. It was a large room with three stone sarcophagi. Against each one was a human skeleton clad in rusty mail. The skeletons ignored her as she poked around the room. She first tried a door to the north that opened to a short hallway with a locked door on the right. Again her lockpicks failed her, and she couldn't get the door to open. (Note these were failed 50% chance rolls, not locks that were exceptionally difficult.)

She returned to the crypt and tried a set of double doors to the southeast. These opened to a long hallway with a doorway at the end. She returned to report to the party.

Sanaka decided to explore the next room a bit. When he entered the crypts, the three skeletons awoke and shuffled toward him. He retreated to the guard room, where he borrowed a red cloak.

He returned to the crypts in the red cloak, and the skeletons didn't move. Sanaka used a short sword, borrowed from one of the downed guards, to hack at the neck of the unmoving skeleton. The sword was unfamiliar in his hands, and it caught the lip of a sarcophagus, flying out of the priest's hand. (FUMBLE!) He picked the short sword back up and hacked at the skeletons in earnest. Their heads separated from their bodies, and the undead collapsed into piles of bones. There were now enough short swords for the entire party.

Feeling accomplished, the priest opened the nearest sarcophagus to look inside. He found a platinum signet ring in each sarcophagus. The party was ready to try the wide hallway to the south.

Mist again walked ahead and didn't see the trapdoor in the floor before she walked over it. She was able to catch herself on the rim of the floor as weakened tiles crashed 20 feet below.

Using ropes from the jail cells and the lids of the sarcophagi, the party was able to navigate the large pit in the center of the wide hallway. At the end of the hall was a doorway to the south. It led into a wide room with stairs leading up to the east and a cistern to the west. Beside the cistern was a door. Around the cistern were barrels. The party set to exploring before heading up the stairs.

The barrels were full of foodstuffs. In the cistern, Sanaka found a rope with a waterproof satchel underwater. It contained two potions, gold, and a set of travel clothes. While Mist listened at the door near the cistern, it slowly cracked open.

An alert Redbrand slowly opened the door to the sound of people rustling through barrels. He caught Mist mostly off guard, but she kicked the door open and he had to move his hand out of the way at the last second lest it be crushed between the door and the wall. A sword fight began in the doorway. 

While Mist fought in the doorway, Jairus jumped on some nearby barrels to add a poke from his sword into the doorway now and then. Sanaka explored the potions in the satchel. One was familiar as a healing potion. He gave it to the barbarian. 

The barbarian, with significantly more HP than at the beginning of the session, took over for Mist when she was injured. The party fought as the guard backed into his room, where two more guards could join the fight. The barbarian fought with her fists against the guards with swords. She was able to knock one out with an uppercut. The other two fell soon afterward, with help from Jairus who had climbed a bunk bed in the room to fight from advantageous high ground. When the adversary was defeated, the two rooms were cleared, and the party exited the hideout via the stairs.

Back in town, the party freed Linene from her shop's basement. She suggested they go to the Shrine of Luck for healing. They stopped in to visit Sister Garaele in her home beside the shrine, then boldly left town to finish a night of rest in peace in the woods. (Glasstaff's spies were all asleep, and didn't track the party out of town.)

The next day the party returned to town to recruit help in dealing with Glasstaff. A couple of the party members asking for help were pointed in the direction of Daran Edermath, a retired "adventurer" who now kept an orchard. He agreed to help the party as an archer in return for them performing a deed for him afterward.

Linene was recruited for retribution against those who invaded her home and kidnapped her.

The proprietor of the Miner's Exchange, Halia, would not lend a swordarm, but suggested that Glasstaff had a goblin lackey who may know the way to the Cragmaw Castle the party had been asking about. She exchanged her information for any information the party could tell her about Glasstaff after storming his hideout.

Sister Garaele was recruited for battlefield medical purposes, though she requested a boon from the party afterward as well. Gunel was awoken after fully recuperating at the Stonehill Inn.

The party headed toward the Redbrand Hideout, equipped with borrowed weapons and armor from the Lionshield Coster (they had never found their stuff in the Hideout before leaving). As they were walking up the road toward the Sleeping Giant, they heard Glasstaff shouting for the town to give up the party members before he was forced to destroy it in order to find them. His position given away, the party spread out to meet their challenger. Jairus was given a potion of Invisibility Sanaka found in the underwater satchel. 

On the road to the east of the Sleeping Giant, the party saw Glasstaff behind 6 Redbrands who, in turn, were behind three bugbears. Glasstaff let the party advance a bit up the road before casting Fireball from a scroll. Mist was knocked down. Gunel, Kell, and Sanaka were wounded. The others were outside of the area of effect. A few buildings, including the Sleeping Giant, and a tree were lit on fire.

Gunel charged the bugbears, with Sanaka attacking at her flank. Daran shot arrows at Glasstaff from the corner of the Sleeping Giant. Sister Garaele healed Mist so she could return to help in the battle. Linene protected Daran's flank from Redbrands who were circling around the flaming taphouse. Kell ignored bugbear and Redbrand to charge Glasstaff's position.

Redbrands fell to Garaele and Mist's opportunistic stabs, Kell's barbarian rage, Daran's deadly arrows, Jairus's flashing daggers, and Sanaka's massive claymore.

Bugbears were unable to stand against the gladiator's professional solo fighting tactics. Sanaka, Mist, Linene, and Daran helped finish off bugbears as Gunel held them at bay.

Glasstaff cast protective magics about himself, but was unable to stop the assault from Daran's arrows as well as the crazed, charging barbarian. When Glasstaff eventually turned tail to try to save himself, Jairus let loose a deadly backstab from his invisible position.

The Redbrand Ruffians, along with their magic-wielding leader, were no more.

The characters helped to extinguish fires before exploring the rest of the Redbrand Hideout. They found areas that had previously gone unexplored in their earlier hasty exit. Their weapons were found behind the door Mist was unable to unlock. Their personal equipment, as well as a hiding goblin, were found in a bunkroom. Glasstaff's personal rooms contained a potion laboratory and a desk with telling paperwork. Glasstaff was Iarno Albrek, the person Sildar Hallwinter was coming to Phandalin to find. Also, Glasstaff was charged to take the party hostage by one calling himself The Black Spider.

All other follow up will have to occur via messaging until the group can meet again.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

[WFRP 2e] Renegade Princeps 17

Vaervenshyael - Female Elf Duellist

My companions
Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann - Human Veteran
Wilhelm Hechland - Human Engineer
Doctor Johann Wilhelm Woeller - Human Physician

(Previous Notes)

The Princeps and the Master of the Horse requested that the party aid an associate, Helmut the Ranaldian by name, acquire the body of the dead Sigmarite priest from the Sigmarite temple so the priest of Morr might ask the body some questions. Vaervenshyael did not pay close attention to the details of speaking with a dead body, but Johann seemed most enthralled.

The plan included Tankred taking his men to the front of the Sigmarite temple for a distraction. Vaervenshyael and Johann were to guard the back door while Helmut and his men went inside to take the body. They were charged with making sure nobody saw which way the body went when it came out the back. Wilhelm was positioned on a nearby roof, providing cover with a crossbow.

After the Ranaldians left with the body, Vaervenshyael moved to shut the back door. As she did, she made eye contact with one of the priests inside the temple. An alarm was raised.

Russmann came around from the front of the temple and started spitting hateful words at Vaervenshyael. She drew her weapons and waited, happy to stall until Helmut and his team got away with the body...until the priest began casting spells.

She could see no discernible effect after his first spell, so she continued to wait. He cast his second spell, with a murderous l look in his eyes. There was no effect against the elf. She sneered and told the priest that his god did not approve of his attacks on the elf. She then ran him straight through the chest with her rapier.

Tankred joined in the fight at that point, though Vaervenshyael had already struck a deadly blow. When Tankred beat the priest to the ground, Johann ran up to try to treat Russmann's wounds. Vaervenshyael would have none of it, and she sliced Russmann's leg open along the femoral artery. The priest died a lowly death, separated from the will of Sigmar.

Johann became furious and called Vaervenshyael an idiot for killing the Sigmarite priest who had recently roused the crowd behind his cause. Vaervenshyael, taking that kind of insult from nobody, punched the physician in the mouth. His following grumblings were all but unintelligible from a fattened lip.

Helmut took the old priest's body to Morr's Garden. The rest of the party followed.