Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The First Game Session for Peninsula of Plenty - Beyond the Pale

Fits and starts. I planned this campaign in the spirit of X1 Isle of Dread. The players were gathered together, given the premise, then selected from a series of pre-generated characters (which are all available in the tab above). The goal was to travel from the Capital on the west coast, to a town on the south coast. The Emperor's Council needs intelligence, and sending a party down there was the best option. Simple.
Here is the party at the start:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level

Not a cleric to be seen. The party wasn't done provisioning themselves, they hired a cook, a hunter as a scout, and a laborer. Then we got to the part where they were to hire a ship. Or so I thought.

It turns out, that in reflecting on the Council's directions to head south, no one mentioned a ship. Not me, not the characters. So the characters used all of their Council provided funds to buy two wagons, hired some NPCs and a bunch of horses. We've gone from Isle of Dread, to Oregon Trail.

Well, I am nothing but adaptable.

The characters decided to proceed south as quick as they could. I mentioned that an inn at the edge of town would be a great place to rest up, have a few drinks and maybe try to pick up a few more party members or NPCs.

No.

Out the gate they went. 5 miles outside the palisades, they made camp. This is exactly what "beyond the pale" means.

The players are sort of wily. It turns out that the wagons have small stoves, tons of rope and wood,  bedrolls and a supply of fuel. They parked the wagons 30 feet from each other, drove in some posts and corralled the horses between them. Water bags and feed bags were hung off the side of wagons for the horses. And decided to sleep in the wagons. Efficient as heck.

Since they lost the opportunity to hire more people, I decided that two of the other candidates were making the same journey and would catch up shortly. In the morning, the party spotted them on the road, and decided to wait.

That when the evil random encounter started. Uninhabited/Wilderness Table, die roll of 02, brown bears. Two brown bears.

Game on.

Jaime and the scout were making their way back towards town to round up the stragglers, on horseback. Melvin, the cook and the laborer were in one wagon, while Matilda and Megen were harnessing the other horses to the wagons.

The bears bushedwacked the first two horses as Matilda leapt into Melvin's wagon and Megen hopped into the other wagon. Matilda stabbed one in the head. As the first bear mauled both horses to death, the second tried to get Matilda. She stabbed him again, while Melvin missed. The wizard got a good bite for his effort and collapsed, seeming dead. The cook went down, next.

Matilda and the laborer went for the other wagon as the bears milled around. For several rounds, the bears milled about deciding to eat the dead horses rather than chase the characters to the other wagon.
 
Jaime came thundering on his horse and began to accost the bears. Megen jumped on the other horse and joined him. Two rounds later, Jaime's horse was dead and he had taken a good hit. Jaime and Megen took refuge under Matilda's wagon. It was beginning to look like a total party kill was in the works.

Thankfully, Jaime's foresight saved the day. He sent the scout ahead to get the two trailing NPC's: Rona and Gurwinder. He dropped Gurwinder off some distance away and went back for Rona without provoking the bears.

Before Jim the Scout could get back with the cleric, Gurwinder and the rest of the party trapped the bears between long range missile fire and rear attacks. Since the party had the cover of the wagon, Gurwinder could shoot the bears in the back with little chance of hitting friendlies. The repeating flanking attacks melted the bears AC away and they were done in just three rounds. 

Click to enlarge. Blue crossed
swords indicate party position.  
At the end of the day, the party lost 1 laborer, 3 horses, Chef and Melvin. Melvin didn't die, he just wants to go home. His player now wants to play Gurwinder, instead.

Ok, fine by me.

Under Gurwinder's direction, the party took one wagon back to town, sold the bear and horse meat along with their pelts. They paid burial expenses for the cook and laborer. With the additional funds from the kills, they obtained two drovers to drive the wagons and care for the horses. They are a husband and wife team, Felix and Felice. They also bought 2 horses, one for Jaime and one Megen, and four oxen to pull the wagons. Matilda, Rona and Gurwinder don't ride (by choice), so Jim the Scout has the last horse.

The party has now agreed to head to the next town with the intention of picking up a healer or another cleric and missile weaponry for everyone. They also desire either a pair of ponies or smaller horses for the shorter characters (Gurwinder and Melvin), plus more oxen. The next settlement is 18-20 miles away, the next small town is a little more than 30 miles away.

Here is the party as of now:

Melvin the Wise - Magic User, Halfling, 1st level, NPC
Matilda the Knife - Swashbuckler, Human, 1st level
Megen the Ruffian - Swashbuckler, Human, 2nd level
Jaime the Fearsome - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Rona the wisewoman - Cleric, Human, 1st Level, NPC
Gurwinder A’flumine - Fighter, Human, 2nd Level
Jim the Scout - Human, 0 level NPC
Felix and Felice - Humans, 0 level NPC

Marching order is:

Jaime and Jim on horses, leading.
Wagon 1 with Felice driving and Melvin and Gurwinder riding.
Wagon 2 with Felix, Matilda and Rona.
Megen trailing Wagon 2.

More next week.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Campaign Kick Off

I am kicking off a new campaign on The Peninsula of Plenty. Before I detail any of the events of play, I want to cover some general background and house rules.

First, Elves, Half-Orcs, and Dwarves are not allowed as character classes at the start. Humans, Elves, Half-Orcs and Dwarves are at war and the players are starting in the Human Empire's Capital. Half-Orcs are clients of the Elves and both are aligned with the Dwarves against the Human Empire. Halflings are a problem in the human realms, as they are fleeing south, over the mountains. They are at best, politically unreliable.

Below is the racial preference table we are using, which is revised from the last posting of this chart.

Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table
Race Dwarves Elves Gnomes Gnolls Half-Elves Halfling Half-Orc Human Kobold
Dwarves Preferred Neutral Neutral Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Hatred Hatred
Elves Neutral Preferred Tolerated Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Apathy Apathy
Gnomes Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Preferred Preferred Goodwill
Gnolls Apathy Apathy Tolerated Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Tolerated Goodwill
Half-Elves Goodwill Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Apathy
Halfling Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Hatred Apathy
Half-Orc Hatred Preferred Goodwill Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Neutral Apathy
Human Apathy Hatred Goodwill Apathy Hatred Neutral Neutral Preferred Apathy
Kobold Tolerated Tolerated Goodwill Neutral Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Preferred Tolerated

As a consequence, virtually all player characters are human, although that was not the intent. I was expecting some half elves, gnomes, and kobolds. We are playing D&D, with an overlay of AD&D. It is possible to be a generic elf which is the straight D&D class, or to pick a class as per AD&D. Only one character did this, the magic user is a halfling.

Next, we are using my rules for the Swashbuckler character class and Uncommon Commoners.

I have two house rules regarding magic: Clerics get spells at 1st level and every Magic User can cast Read Magic once per day in addition to any other spells.

I have a couple house rules regarding combat: Anyone can use a shield to protect themselves, two handed. They can't cast or attack, except for a rough attempt at knocking someone back with the shield. It isn't a good idea if you are a magic user. This rule appears in Uncommon Commoners.

If a magic user or cleric is has a weapon skill due to a professional background, they can replace one weapons with that profession's weapon. For clerics who are also chefs, they can use knives, but generally don't in combat. If a magic user has a skill that allows for a different weapon, say a hammer because they are a mason, they can use that instead of a staff, dagger or dart. These rules also appear in Uncommon Commoners.

Some rule sets state that once a person has been downed, they can be revived by another player. The mechanism for this in my campaigns are either a prayer to Saint Elam or a vial of Elamium. This is a reference to anesthesiologist, James Elam, who performed experimental mouth to mouth resuscitation here in Buffalo, NY at Roswell Park. It's an anachronism owning to my hometown.

There is the expectation that a lot of combat will do subduing damage, but the players can do as they wish. If NPCs are doing this, I will not announce it, but will describe it. This circles back to the Swashbuckler class which engages in this type of combat all the time. Swashbucklers are very far from fighters or thieves. They tend to kill only by a run-through attack after offering a chance to escape. It doesn't work on animals, because they can't be disarmed. 

The first session was pretty eventful and I will detail that in another post.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stealing Monsters

Some of the best monsters are people. And some of the most intriguing people are villains.

Jon Wilson, of Appendix M put the bug in my head to steal a villain with his post on The Rival Party. These characters are decidedly different, with incredibly cool powers and abilities. I love the idea of a rival party as adversaries.

I immediately thought of a character I want to steal for a campaign. He is the Monomach from Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need series.



The Monomach is the villain's right hand man, the most skilled swordsman in the lands. As a villain, he is totally one dimensional. He's given a target and then the target dies. Or at least that is how he should work.

He is actually simple enough to build an AD&D character class with little adaption. First, he is a fightman so he has all of the abilities of a Fighter. Second, he has the disguise abilities of an Assassin. Third, he has some ability to heal himself like a Paladin. Finally, he will gain the damage bonus of a Monk. His prime requisites are Strength, Constitution and Intelligence. To get a +5% bonus to exp, he must have at least a 12 in each of those skills. To get a 10% bonus, he must have a 15 in each.

In framing the villain as a character with a class, he can scale with the Player Characters. He can start relatively weak with the PCs and grow from there.

Let's assign those abilities by level.

On creation - +1 to Strength or Constitution regardless of race.
Level 1 - Disguise as an equal level Assassin.
Level 3 - Laying has as Paladin of equal level.
Level 5 - Damage adjustment as per Monks +1 per 2 levels.

What is the Monomach characters limitations?

They are limited to two magic items plus one magic weapon and one magical piece of armor. They are limited to only equipment they can carry, even at home. They cannot backstab as Assassins do. They do not fight weaponless as Monks do. They do not have the variety of weapons of a fighter, they tend to stick to one main weapon and one back up. They don't often use bows. They can ride horses, but can not care for them. They work alone and are likely to strike a "friendlies" as they get in the way like a berserker. This berserker tendency is not a special skill or ability, it is just a ruthless and bloody methodology. They are relatively poor in day to day skills, unable to cook, care for animals or hunt making them reliant on their master's staff for self-care.

This lack of people and daily living skills prevents them from having followers, retainers or constructing a keep, tower or other base of operation. When assigned to retainers by their master, they tend to follow the retainer until a target presents itself.

What would make this type of character too overpowered? A crystal ball and a ring of teleportation. Yeah, I would totally give my evil Monomach a ring and crystal ball.

The United States of the 1980s

I'm watching Stranger Things, Season Three. The Russian characters kill me for all of their 1980s styling. They were right there in the beginning of season, but as tangential characters. Just enough was known about them to build a tense story which really had nothing to do with the Soviets. They were a McGuffin for season 1, left out of season 2, but in season 3, they are a major plot point.

I'm not going to spoil Stranger Things for you, but American TV used to portray Evil Soviet Citizens in a particularly goofy way.

One of the things that stands out to me is, as the Evil Characters, they always had some tiny amount of easily understood motivation. Usually it was played to show their humanity. And where those motive forces most came into play was a deeply subversive scenario.

Said Soviet Super Citizen was always physically stronger than the American opponent, often smarter in very technical ways, but total out of their element when not dealing with brute force or when the operation deviated from the characters background knowledge.

Where the subversion comes in is not in the fact that once the Super Soviet Citizen is free of home influence do they show some heroic, sane and pure traits, but the fact that nearly every aspect of Western European and American culture is designed to somehow subvert them. They want a hamburger, a Coke, a convertible, a nice house, etc. All the things common people like.

While I am sure that many times the intended message was "America is just better", the actual message was cultural perversion. Basically, the good guys end up bribing the Soviets with good ol' American Scooby Snacks.

"Did you just bribe Cthulhu with ice cream?"
"Not any old ice cream. Häagen-Dazs* is the shit."

Let that one sink in.

While we can't go back to the 80's, I think this is an excellent method of designing better villains. Most of the time villains are rather one dimensional, but being evil, they should succumb to perversion of a bigger evil.

*There is some deep irony that Häagen-Dazs came into being to save an American ice cream company from bad sales and lack luster marketing. Make it look different, and poof!, profit.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Difference Between Zero and Hero

The difference between zero and hero is good PR and support. When most parties go looking for NPC or henchmen, they tend to pick up another sword or a healer, when what they need is a Herald or Lawyer.

Heralds are much more than criers, they announce the party with style. They are made of moxie, poise and flair. They improve the standing of a party and positively affect morale and reactions. Lawyers often do the same. Since both speak on the behalf of the party first, each can provide a "fail safe" or "cutout" should the random dice go wrong. Players can counter their pronouncements with fairness and humility, gaining another reaction or morale roll. An uppity lawyer of herald can speak quietly with the lady or master on the behalf other henchmen to prevent walkouts.

Where lawyers differ from heralds is lawyers must not tell a falsehood. They do not have to tell the thruth, but good ones are poor liars. When things go wrong, lawyers tend to go formal. They dress and speak formally, which enables a fair amount of bluffing. Lawyers are apt judges of both character and situations, which can be a second set of eyes and ears for a party adventuring in a foreign land. The can guess the underlying reasons for most traditions, laws and policies which should help the party.

Heralds tend to dress and speak as needed by the goals of the party. They can wear any armor, including none at all. They may carry any weapon, but usage is limited to the lightest arms: daggers, foils, etc. Lawyers are limited to knives and daggers, and will resist all suggestions of wearing armor. They will fall back on their official robes and poise for protection. Sometimes, that can work.

These NPC types exploit their social status, portraying themselves as sacrosanct. Enemies wishing to have good standing with the general public or to hide evil plots for the future often perpetuate this idea. However, if chaos and evil ever reign, lawyers and heralds will be the second against the wall, right after the PCs.

For most campaigns, lawyers and heralds are well versed in oration, history, and tradition besides the more expected talents for showmanship and legal proweness. Should the party become imprisioned, the captor may view locking the lawyer or herald up as bad press or form.

You can read all about these NPC character classes and more than 50 more in my book, Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, available at DriveThruRPG.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Character Buffs - Zero to Hero

D&D and AD&D had a system of allowing characters to be buffed by adding some sort of skill to one of the regular classes via professional skills. Noticeably short on details, it encouraged DMs and players to think outside of the box. AD&D had the ranger and monk classes which featured two hit dice at first level while clerics were buffed with not just first level spells, but bonus spells based on Wisdom scores.

With the release of Unearthed Arcane, players received a model for having a character start below 1st level in the form of the cavaliers. Magic users received cantrips which hinted at powers before first level. Weapon mastery made fighting classes much stronger while pushing other classes into the non-combat skills.

Obviously, the cavalier and thief acrobat were nods to the cartoon. Clearly TSR wanted to change and update their product long before 2.0.

At the time, 2.0 wasn't available to me and by the time it was, I was already so invested in AD&D and Basically, I was unwilling to change. I had a large group of players, between 5 to 12 players per session, a few of them running 2 character at the same time.

What made this possible was an embryonic idea to codify low-level, non-combat oriented characters. While much of this was roleplay for my players, a bit of it dove into the skills possessed by these secondary characters.

Fast forward 33 years to 2018. That stack of notes, rules of thumb and memories of the fun were transformed into an actual pamphlet so that others could implement these types of secondary characters into their campaigns. Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners was born.

It started with a list of 50 professions from the middle ages. In January, the list increased by 9. The professions are broken into 3 groups: Sedentary, Active and Laboring which determines their hit points. The characters are average people, so they have ability scores generated by average dice, numbers 2-5 weight towards 3 and 4 or collectively as 9 to 12. Combat skills were limited to using the tools of the trade. Each new "class" has its own abilities, which are flexible and sometimes overlapping. The classes feature their own levels, from 1-5.

These rules were meant to flesh out NPC classes and include a table of modifiers for hiring them. But I also wanted to include rules from converting a non-player character to one the main classes in D&D and AD&D.

Once a professional becomes a fully fleshed out player character, I needed to include rules for the tools of the trade. Can a mason turned magic user use a hammer? Sure, why not. Within limits. Stats for mauls, hammers, woodworking axes, zaxes and various other implements were created. These improvised or unusual weapons were define in such a way so as to delineate them from traditional weapons of war. In the right hands, they are powerful tools, in the wrong hands they are poor cousins of their martial variants.

Due to the use of average dice for these characters, a path to "rescuing" a hopeless character was created. All of these rules were designed with the existing D&D and AD&D classes in mind. While not entirely balanced, because the regular classes are not balanced, they are not overpowering. The intent was to flesh out bit part NPC and color player characters with a background.

I hope you will take the time to read Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners and incorporate it into your game. I also have a character sheet for use with characters designed with Unearthed Arcana. Both are available at DriveThruRPG at a suggest price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Scribs – Will Two’s Story

Welcome, to the blog. I can also be found on MeWe in addition to Blogger. Back in 2015, I created a quick battle for a D&D game and ended up writing a relatively useless background piece on the scenario. Since that time, many of the details have been re-concocted for my D&D campaign and I had no idea what to do with this series of posts.

Today, I was invited in a MeWe Group called Vault of Imaginings and now I have a target audience for these three posts.

William the Scribe does not have a mysterious background like his friend William of Northmost. His family is overly large and he was apprenticed to Jordan the Money Changer in Tabletop. He was to learn math and writing.
William and Jordan hated each other. The Money Changer had foolish agreed to a 7 year contract for William’s apprenticeship thinking that the funds from his family would be worth the investment. William showed himself to be very adept at math and writing and had reached anyone’s expectations for an apprentice in just 9 months.
Some suspect that William had annoyed Jordan by second guessing him. Other guessed that Jordan was threaten by him. Both are actually true. William had noticed someone short changing the Money Changer and alerted him. It turns out that Jordan was running some sort of tax scheme and later lost his head when the Council of Tabletop found out.
By his tenth birthday, he had annoyed Jordan so much that he apprenticed him to Otto Lanskeep for a princely sum.
Otto and his wife liked William very much. He was very curious, had a great memory and wonderful wit. From the start, he was able to charm guests and anticipate their needs. Even the rough and rude hunters who frequented the Lodge.
William the Scribe was almost part of the family. He wouldn’t claim that right until he earned his nickname in The Battle of the Compass Rose.

Navigation in order: 

Post one, first meeting of these characters. 
Post two, William Scrubs.  
Post three, William Scribs. (You are here.)

The Scrub – One Will’s Story

Welcome, to the blog. I can also be found on MeWe in addition to Blogger. Back in 2015, I created a quick battle for a D&D game and ended up writing a relatively useless background piece on the scenario. Since that time, many of the details have been re-concocted for my D&D campaign and I had no idea what to do with this series of posts.

Today, I was invited in a MeWe Group called Vault of Imaginings and now I have a target audience for these three posts.

Please enjoy!

In the previous post, you met the Lanskeep family and two young men named William. When these men were younger, neither had earned a nickname and were simply differentiated by “Willy” and “William”.
William of Northmost was orphaned many years ago. His parents abandoned him with the Lanskeep’s in a very curious way. The family from Northmost arrived with the usual weekly caravan. The father pushed on to the Town of Tabletop, leaving his wife and 6 year old child behind. He needed to get a message to a ship bound for the Colonies.
It was odd, but Otto and his wife accepted it. They made the wife and her son, William at home in one of the large front rooms. The next two days were very quiet. William’s father was running late. Being Sunday, a bath was drawn for William and his mother.
Otto and his wife Hilda closed up the Inn for the evening. When all seemed well, and everyone was turned in for the night, there was a terrific series of bangs and flashes like lightning. Nothing in the Inn seemed disturbed, except William’s mother was missing.
The search lasted all night long. By morning, it was clear that there were no clues to woman’s whereabouts. The only hint that something had happened was a perplexing discovery. The tub of water in the woman’s room was completely empty, as were the three troughs for the animals. The well also seemed to be affected, having a strange salty taste, like sea water.
For many years the Lanskeep’s hoped for their return, but this did not come to pass. It was a great many years before William of Northmost learned his parent’s fate.

Update: 
Excerpt from Scubs D&D character sheet: Scrubs unknowning has a girlfriend. Her name is Delia and she is a maid/housekeeper at the Inn. William believes that she is attempting to push him out of his tiny bedroom by moving her stuff in during his absences. He couldn't be more wrong.

Navigation in order:

The Battle of the Compass Rose Inn – The Naming of Two Wills

Welcome, to the blog. I can also be found on MeWe in addition to Blogger. Back in 2015, I created a quick battle for a D&D game and ended up writing a relatively useless background piece on the scenario. Since that time, many of the details have been re-concocted for my D&D campaign and I had no idea what to do with this series of posts.

Today, I was invited in a MeWe Group called Vault of Imaginings and now I have a target audience for these three posts.

Please enjoy! 

When Willy the Scribe and William of Northmost were 12 and 16, a horrible disaster struck the Inn. A herd of boar piglets ran through the yard behind the Inn. Moments later, they were followed by a massive boar sow and a wolf, riding the sow’s back.
As the animals disappeared down the hill, the guests and family stood on the porch, shocked. The sow was cut off by a pack of wolves and ran back up the hill towards the Inn. Guests and family members took cover as best the could. Willy, Edwyna and Elma locked themselves in the barn. William dove for cover in an empty Lodge room. The rest took cover in the greatroom of the Inn.
Soon, wolves converged every point of the compass. They tore down the sow and her piglets in short order. Then they took a horse and pony. The pigs in the pen didn’t stand a chance. As the day wore on, the wolves picked the corpses clean and circled the Inn seeking more prey. Fighting among the different packs cause confusion. 
By afternoon, the children trapped in the barn grew thirsty. In the early evening, Willy decided to make a break for the Inn. The family and guests were trapped in the greatroom and couldn’t warn Willy and the girls that the wolves had penetrated the kitchen, the closest door to the barn.
When Willy and the girls opened the kitchen door, the wolves sprang. Willy shoved Edwyna out of the way and pulled Elma to safety. William of Northmost heard the ruckus and charged to their rescue with a spear and axe. The four of them fought their way to the Lodge steps and were forced up the stairs. William of Northmost was savaged at the foot of the stairs, he was left for dead in the scrub-like bushes in front of the Inn.
Willy managed to get the girls to the top of stairs where huntsmen knocked the wolves back long enough for the children to escape. Willy used his own body to protect Elma and Edwyna from serious harm. His backside and legs were horribly bitten.
By morning, the wolves were gone and William of Northmost was discovered in the shrubs. The hunters nicknamed him “Scrubs”, a name he detests as it sounded rough, rude and cowardly in his ears.
Willy was more seriously wounded and had a long period of convalescence. He spent most of his time writing. As he ran out of stories to put to paper, he took to etching stones from the garden.
In the place that Scrubs fell are three stones inscribed with the words: “Hope”, “Courage”, and “Strength”. This scratching of words on stones gain one William the nickname of “Scribs”.
If Scrubs could read, he would not be so sour about his nickname. There is a rubbing of these stones in Scrub's bedroom. It was placed there by the maid, Delia.

Navigation in order:
Post one, first meeting of these characters. (You are here.) Post two, William Scrubs. Post three, William Scribs.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Pre-generated Character Sheets

I've started updating my layout again and loaded some pre-generated characters to the top tab. These are first and second level fighters and dwarves for Basic Dungeons and Dragons. I based them on the format from Ghost of Lion Castle, so there are three per pdf.


As I get around to digitizing some of the background NPC from my various campaigns, I will upload them to the character tab.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

What now?

Last week, I launched Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. Everything looks great! I have been very happy with

So, what's next? The Place We Will Stay. This will be a series of maps, places where commoners will be found. I've been roughing out some maps, exterior and interior art for many medieval and fantasy homes for our heroes to find NPCs, commoners and other background characters.


The Places We Will Stay will be in digital format, pay what you want and be between 25-50 pages. Coming soon in early October, 2018.

Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to download Zero to Hero.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - Update - We are live!

Update we are live!

I've been a gamer since the Fall of '77. Rules sets change, but I keep coming back to D&D. It was my first experience as role play and it made huge impression on me.

In the past 4 decades, I have come to a realization that players don't need much NPC help. I still always include a NPC as a guide, or an extra information resource but when I ask my players who the best NPC was, they always point to the character I thought was a background character. The cook who spotted the enemy approaching, the herald who cracks meta humor, the stableboy who worships them. Never the ranger I put there to absorb arrows and tie up combatants.

Well, in light of that revelation, I started making 3x5 cards of every NPC. Except, they really didn't fit as a classic NPC character. No stats, no spells, no combat abilities. When my players demanded that these folks support them in the field, I started making up stats for NPCs, willy-nilly.

Not uber stats, just average guys and gals who came along for the ride. Tiny details for people who gossip about the characters as they make their way. I decided that maybe some of these people were not NPCs at all but fully blown characters in their own right but with decidedly different points of view from the PCs. I decided that these types of characters were commoners. Not lords, not adventures, but just citizens.

One of my favorite characters was a scullion named Delia. She was taken by a first level fighter who frequented the local inn and slowly made a move on him. While everyone else understood that she had eyes for the fighter, he didn't get "it". However, if there was danger, he was the first to ask about her. If he had a need for something, she was always there. So obviously, she was important. After 3 years, the campaign ended in a wedding.

But there was no "scullion" class of character. How to represent her caused me to sketch out some guidelines for all of my commoners so they could fit the character mold.

I would like to share that guide with you. I am launching "Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners" on DriveThruRPG.

The pamphlet is 24 pages, lists over 50 professions, how to evolve a zero level commoner into a full blown PC, how commoners interact with those above them, etc.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.






Friday, July 8, 2016

New NPC Character Sheets

I have been cranking out some characters for an upcoming campaign and decided to start with the villains and heroes around the PC's home base.

The Compass Rose Inn will allow the PC's easy access to a large town, a hunting lodge, a haunted mine and of course, the great outdoors.

The Compass Rose Inn is owned by Otto Lanskeep. He is rough and tumble former hunter, but is held on an even keel by his wife and daughters. Player characters will meet Otto's family, Hilda, Edwyna and Elma in addition to Otto's employees named William "Scribs" von Otto, Thomas and Delia.

A weekly patrol comes to the Inn to ensure the safe transport of goods and people to the border. William of Northmost (aka Scrubs), is the most frequently encountered guard and often spends the night at the Inn.

I will explain more about William aka Scribs and William aka Scrubs. William isn't such a strange name for two men to share, but Scribs and Scrubs comes from an adventure these two young men... survived.

I will be sharing their story and introducing the rest of the Lanskeep family and friends, in statistical form, in the very next post.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Back in the Rest

I finally reactivated my account and now have my main character, Magarven back in River’s Rest.
A lot has change since I left three years ago. Sorcerer’s have Balefire (713) and a new version of Nightmare (713). I managed to curse myself right in front of a bunch of trolls. Actual trolls, tomb trolls.
Years ago, I used to be a master of this area. I would lay down a cloud of Nightmare and then rely on Maelstrom (710) or Pain (711) to wipe out the trolls. That doesn’t seem to work anymore. The trolls have far too many HP. Perhaps they were tweaked or perhaps I am rusty. In any event, I discovered that the lower levels of the Citadel are more to my liking.
As a Volner, I am enjoying the changes to the Order. Symbol of Mana is much better and Symbol of Seeking is amazing. The ability to seek out undead and teleport there from any monastery is wonderful.
As I explore all of the updates, I hope to see you in the game.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Google Docs Templates for D&D

Google Drive shared files and templates are a rich find for gamers of all types.
Under templates, you can find a ton of D&D resources.
My personal favorite is Benjamin Connell’s 3.5 Character Sheet. I plan on making the standard for my 3.5 campaigns.

As time permits, I will be loading pre-genned characters in the top bar. Right now, I have characters for D&D and AD&D. I also have a link to my own AD&D character sheet for Unearthed Arcana. Additionally, if you like having secondary skills for PCs or stat'd up NPCs, try my book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners.

If 3.5 isn't for you and D&D or AD&D are tired, why not try the New e5 Edition? The starter set is wonderfully priced.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The One About Character Sheets

I played Savage Worlds at a convention a few years ago. The game was adapted to the World of Flash Gordon. Each player chose a pregenerated character from a selection available. There was Flash, Dale, Barin (me), Zarkov, Vultan, Thun plus many others. Having picked our characters, we waited for our eighth player to arrived.
Within a few minutes, we were all chatting and joking. A lot of the humor revolved around radio shows and Flash Gordon in general. Our last player was so late, we started playing without him. We had a good time, playing and making in-character comments all through out. The guy who had Vultan did a pretty good BRAIN BLESSED impersonation. Zarkov’s player used a styrofoam coffee cup to read like a radio announcer.
It was all fine and well until the eighth player showed up. He made some funny faces at the remaining character sheets and eventually picked Dale Arden. He did not engage in any of the humor at the table, even when our “Flash” threw some cheesy lines from the movie at him. After one particularly funny “Flash ‘n Dale” comment, Dale froze for a second and rounded on “Flash”.
“What the f— is your problem?” he demanded.
The table went quiet. It was a bit before we got back to the serious business of playing the game.
After a while, I spoke to our eighth player. He was sort of shy. He stuck to the basics of who he was and what he did for a living. He knew nothing of Flash Gordon. As I explained the story to him, he actually warmed up and was a decent sort of guy. He and I chatted for the whole game. It turns out he wasn’t able to play a game he wanted and just picked anything at random. He was kind of disappointed.
But this wasn’t why he snapped. Oh, lord no.
When were we done, he apologized briefly to “Flash” and left. I chuckled when he was out of earshot. Everyone wanted details. What was his issue with our “Flash”?
Our eighth player’s real name was Dale. He had picked the character sheet with his name on it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Premium = 16 character slots

I recently upgraded to premium and re-activated every character on my account. I ended up with character slots to spare.
I couldn’t help but notice that I had two empaths, a rogue, a sorcerer, a bard, and four wizards. I have played paladins and warriors on another account, they don’t really speak to me. I know I wanted to try a cleric so I set one up in River’s Rest. But where do I go from here?
My main character is a sorcerer, I am really happy with how he is working out. I’ve had him for more than a decade. My second character is an empath which I also love a lot.
I am tempted to create one of everything and double up on the six classes I enjoy the most.
To this end, I started a basic cleric, bard and ranger. I hope to have one of everything up to level 5 in a few weeks.