Things have been busy lately; our last session was almost two months ago. (Oh yeah, it's been two sessions since the last update. Oops. In short, the kobolds were part of a dragon-worshipping cult. They wanted to revere this particular dragon, who just wanted to be left alone; HE was the one who had requested assistance from Oceanloft to begin with. He also asked the party to check up on his cousin across the sea, whom he hadn't heard from in some time.)
The party was more manageable this time around, only five players instead of eight. Honestly, I think it works better with the average number, because fewer players equals a faster turn around the table, which means there's less of a chance of someone getting bored while waiting for their turn to roll around again. Also, the party composition changed around a bit, as the release of the full character builder allowed for a quick and painless overhaul to everyone's character concepts. (I have a feeling that the PHB2 that just came out this week is going to have a similar effect.)
We're heading out to sea in this adventure. There's a huge stretch of uncharted seas between Oceanloft and the team's destination. They were given a ship to traverse the waves, on the grounds that they deliver a special cargo from Oceanloft to Walford.
Along the way they nearly hit a storm (just dodged it), discovered an island with a strange monument of sorts (this may be important later), and got attacked by pirates. Of course, just as they had managed to repel the boarders, they decided to run from a ship faster than theirs. It caught up with them again, and that's where the story leaves off.
The gang got together for a short run last weekend. We were only lacking our rogue, due to work issues.
Our party made it to Winterhaven, where they asked around, trying to find the guy they were supposed to contact. The townspeople told us that Doven had gone out to a dragon burial ground and hadn't come back yet. Dun dun dun. We set off to find him.
There were two ways we could have gone. The first was a three day walk through forest and mountains and whatnot. The second was a short jaunt through a tunnel that went through the mountain. Oh boy! A tunnel, did you say? We stocked up on sunrods and other valuable things, like chalk and string, and charged into the tunnel.
The tunnel was more of a room, and due to our paladin not bothering to roll any perception checks whatsoever, were were immediately locked in, and a trap set off on us before we even had a chance to look at it. Our cleric got knocked on the head by an approaching glass ball.
Fortunately, the rest of us got out of the way. The room was filled with rails that curved around, making a track for this ball. There were turnstile gates at various places to direct the ball into different parts of the course, and there was a dish at the end for the ball to land in. The trick was the lights above the exit doors--they lit up when the ball passed through a turnstile.
Cue a lot of running around, turning gates, dropping and shattering balls (always immediately replaced), and getting hurt as people didn't get out of the way in time. But finally the ball passed through all the gates in the right order, the exit unlocked, and we traipsed out into the dragon burial ground. (An elephant graveyard? Cool!)
There were a lot of sinister-looking people hanging around, digging up dragon bones. We called down to them, asking if they knew where Doven was. Then we noticed the guy in chains. The sinister-looking people (and their two pet drakes) ran up to attack us.
Yay fight! Everybody whacked dudes with awesome level 2 spells, until everybody was flattened. The guy in chains turned out to be Doven, who explained that the baddies were members of a dragon cult, and they'd caught him as he was doing excavations. He gave us an amulet he had found, and it went to our warforged warrior. And we called it a night. All in all, a very nice, short run.
The gang got together Sunday afternoon for another run. Here's what went down.
Two of the characters departed, never to be seen again--the ranger and the floozie warlock--to be replaced by a less-floozie warlock with almost the same build and a swordmage Genasi whose hair is perpetually on fire.
The gang started out in the inn, where naturally, a fight broke out. We played the minigame Inn-fighting, which is mostly about hitting the other players with chairs, fists, beer mugs, and occassionally magic.
When that was over, we realized that the medallion that we'd worked so hard for in the last session had been stolen. Isn't that always the way? So we chased the thief out into Oceanloft.
Oceanloft is a big, maze-like city, and the thief eluded us pretty well at first. Fortunately, due to some pretty good athetics/perception checks, we were able to figure out where he was, and converged on him as he was climbing the mage tower. Our wizard shot him down, and the thief then opened the cages on three mechanical dogs that just so happened to be nearby.
Cue fight. We bloodied the thief pretty easily, and that ghostly figure we'd seen in the last game came out of him. So now we had this big bad wraith to fight, too.
We eventually took everything down, with the swordmage showing off her cool moves for the first time (lassoing the thief with lightning, yanking him up to her and hacking him with her sword.)
The thief had the amulet in his pocket, so we took it and met up with the shady mage back at the docks. John bargained to get 800 gold, rather than the 200 we were promised. We had an odd thing of rolling our diplomacy and trying to pursuade the dude. Apparently it worked, because he took us to his boss and she paid us off. (Apparently the medallion kept Erius from getting massive headaches whenever he used his magic abilities.) Then she (Illianna) asked us to go deal with some kobolds at another town called Winterhaven. John bought a horse and cart with his loads o' cash, and we all set out into a pretty map with a road and trees.
Of course we were ambushed by kobolds. Among the interesting things that happened in that fight was a kobold who knocked out the warlock and then jumped into his backpack. This flummoxed the group, who hadn't anticipated this and argued about who would reach into the bag and actually pull the kobold out.
But we whipped 'em all, and then retired for the night. All in all, a successful run.
Last night our group started a new campaign. Characters were:
Sandra: Eladrin Cleric
Bekah: Human Artificer
Tim: Warforged fighter
Kessie: Half-elf warlock
Hannah: Dragonborn paladin
Laura: Halfling rogue
John: Human ranger
Sam: Tiefling wizard
We started the game on a ship headed for Oceanloft. Oceanloft is a city built on a cliff with a harbor in the cavern beneath. Upon arriving in the harbor, we were greeted by an angry mob who chased some guy by us. The mob, naturally, went after us, so we had a fight right off. The mob was goverened by a shadowy dude in the back, so we took potshots at him until he fled, leaving the mob wondering what it was doing. The city guards came and red tape ensued, winding up with us being rewarded 50 gold and 100 silver.
We went to the inn, recharged, and there heard about the Delve, a short dungeon run hosted by the bookie mages of Oceanloft. What the hey! We placed bets and charged into the dungeon, but only after taking on a side-job of retrieving a medallion for some guy named Erius.
The scrabble puzzle stumped everybody. John and Laura finally worked it out, and we got in and fought goblins from down in a deep, spiky pit. Fun feats were achieved, like when a goblin harpooned the dragonborn, who grabbed the rope and yanked the goblin through the spikes. Hee hee.
Room after that (the third) was a lovely Indiana Jones trap with a rigged floor and swinging blades. This being a D&D game, we had to FIGHT THE BLADES TO OPEN THE DOOR. Cuts and bruises, anyone?
The final room had a dragon in it.
Everybody used their daily attacks, their encounter attacks, and finally all their regular ones. Sam conjured a fireball, which just sat nearby and burned the dragon every turn. Dots, more dots! It was a long, Onyxia-type fight (whelps, many whelps left side!). But finally the dragon went down and we looted its cache. Found the medallion we were supposed to be looking for. I got thief gloves, which I gave to Laura. Sam got a magic orb and Laura bought a magic dagger.
Got cash lewt and an amethyst worth 100g. (Imagine the jewel cuts you can do with that baby! The Angry Amethyst. The Fire Amethyst. The Amethyst of Butt Kickage! Okay, I'll stop now.)
Then we all went home. It was a good run. :-)
Last Sunday the Archipelago Gaming Guild (as we are now called) reconvened, and I was once again running the show... only THIS time, it wasn't a hastily prepared d20 campaign session.
It was BRIKWARS.( Read more...Collapse )
Far, FAR too long. Both since the last time I bothered updating this journal, and even longer since the last STd20 session. So since my brain has lost most of the critical details of the last two missions, I shall sum up as best I can and then provide some pictures.
In the temple, our heroes tangled with a cult which to the best of my recollection was called the Brotherhood of the Sentient Flame. (I really have to either stop making this up as I go or have someone take copious notes during our sessions.) The cult managed to summon a huge Fire Elemental that ganked the guys who summoned it, and then turned on the heroes. After some fiddling with dragon statues, they managed to trap the elemental long enough to kill it.
They retrieved the hourglass and were teleported back to the labyrinth. Joseph thanked them and sent them immediately after a gyroscope, which resides in the Grey Museum. (If you've read any of SpaceTime Legacy thus far, you'll know the background info about Felix grey and the museum.) The gyroscope is currently being used to create a miniaturized version of the SpaceTime Labyrinth for museum visitors to navigate, but it's recently been taken over by more cultists. And dragons. There seem to be a lot of dragons involved in whatever is going on, and dragons haven't been seen for centuries. Very strange indeed...
After tangling with machines, alien beasts, and yet another dragon (not to mention an NPC party member by the name of Indalrion, who has a minor werewolf problem), the heroes were victorious once more... although a mysterious figure appeared, and did not seem to be at all happy with them...
But that's for the next session. Whenever that happens to be.
Pictures in the next post.
As mentioned before, the Legacy System was my attempt to infuse SpaceTime Legacy style magic into the game without forcing myself to relearn everything about the Urban Arcana setting. To be honest, if I'd just gone with a nice, normal D&D or d20 Modern campaign to begin with, I wouldn't have made all this hassle for myself. Then again, it might not have been nearly as fun, either.
The first draft of the Legacy content featured only two "subclasses", as I call them: striders and chronomancers. Mages of space and time, respectively. Striders were given the opportunity to Teleport (woefully underpowered, as the base spell allowed up to 30 feet in one action... which is how far you can move in a single action ANYWAY!) or use a Spatial Flare (sort of a Fireball), Spatial Scramble (which no one took advantage of), or Spatial Telekinesis (which no one used, mainly because I didn't have any USE for it). Chronomancers could Rewind, Time Stop, use a Temporal Bolt (kind of like Chain Lightning), and Temporal Restoration (healing by way of reversing the time flow of a wounded area).
Shortly after meeting up, the party found themselves in a room with no doors or other exits. They discovered "spell gems", my version of mana points. The idea is that each spell costs a certain number of spell gems to cast.
This came back to bite me in the backside throughout the session.
Joseph explained his situation to the PCs (most of which was me making up stuff as the players asked me questions) and tasked them with retrieving the first of the three keys: an hourglass. It rested in a temple in India circa 1800. One little teleport and they were off.
In hindsight, it might be better to give the characters a break soon. Having written all this out today has made me realize that the entire party has been going at this for several hours without a break. I have a plan that will help with that situation...
But yes. On to the action!
To call these players "characters" is understatement. I found this out during the first session, which was fairly short and mainly intended to introduce the characters and bring everyone into the same time and place.
((Pictures of the miniatures representing each character are forthcoming.))
We start in the Old West, in a nameless little five-horse town in the Arizona wilderness. The characters in question are played by John Devera and Laura, a family friend.
John plays Won Fat Duk, a Chinese laundryman. Of course, that's not ALL he is: Mr. Duk is an accomplished martial artist who has been exiled from his home in China for reasons only he knows. He also can't get his Ls and Rs straight to save his life.
Laura plays Miss Eulalia Winston, a charismatic schoolteacher (who at the time of this writing hasn't had a chance to do much yet; I plan to remedy this in the next session). Her purse was stolen by a mysterious figure who vanished into the desert. When Eulalia and Duk chased the figure into the desert, they came upon a mysterious tower with footprints leading in, but none out. Upon entering the tower and ascending to the second floor, they found a mysterious blue portal. After some poking and prodding, they decided to enter it together to track down the purse-snatcher.
The scene then shifted to Chicago, circa 1930. The characters here are played by Sandra, John's wife, and Sam, their son.
Sammy the Snake (three guesses as to who his player is) is a gangster on the run from the cops. He makes a sharp turn into an alleyway, where he nearly runs over Violet DuBois, a nightclub singer out for a smoke break. When he hits a dead end, he starts looking for a way out. Violet, on the other hand, starts looking to knock some sense into him for nearly running her over. The side door she chases him into leads to a two-story building very much like the one that Eulalia and Duk went through earlier. After some back and forth chatter, they both step through the portal.
Flash forward to a somewhat dystopian near-future. The characters here are played by Hannah, Sam's older sister, and Bekah, a family friend.
These are the characters I never really know what to do with, roleplaying-wise. Hannah plays Isaac, a no-nonsense, by-the-book type character, specifically a Fahrenheit-451 kind of "fireman". Yes, books are once again the great eeeeeevil of society. Bekah, on the other hand, plays the exact same kind of character she played in the campaign John was GMing: shy and quiet, and yet somehow totally looped. To make things even better, she decided during our introductory session that her character Aurora had contracted amnesia at some point before the story began.
I can work with this. Really.
Basically what I did was write up two character sheets for Aurora: One had her basic stats and little else. The other has all the necessary details. She gets the first one, I get the second. If she wants to try using a skill, she can check with me to see if it's possible. When she pulls off something she didn't know she could do, then she can fill it in on her sheet until such a point that I rule she no longer has amnesia and can now remember everything she's capable of, in which case I'll give her the full character sheet and she can go from there.
So yeah. They went through a portal just like the other two groups.
Finally we came to a distant future full of starships and giant robots. Because giant robots are COOL.
Our players from 2XX7 are Kess, my wife, and Tim, Bekah's brother.
My wife is NEVER this spazzy at home. she plays a little alien-lizard thing named S'if. Who has a lisp. And is a scrap scavenger. And is totally into "technolothy". And has a mecha-pilot license.
Yes, I will be making use of this later.
Tim plays Barth, who mostly hangs out with S'if as a bodyguard because the pay is good. He's totally nanite-enhanced, which hasn't come into play much, but will starting next session. (At the time of writing, we've had two sessions, the intro and one other.) They were scavenging about and came to (you guessed it) a portal.
insert various scenes where the PCs meet and team up to fight a living rock wall and such. The intro session was over a month ago, so some details escape me.
And so begins the campaign. I'll go into more detail about the first iteration of the Legacy System (and just how broken it was) in the next episode.
In my spare time over the past few years I've been writing the first draft of a series of novels, collectively titled The SpaceTime Legacy. The main character, James Carda, is a normal guy who is unaware of all the fantastical stuff that exists "out there"... until he discovers that he is his generation's "Strider of Chronos", a powerful mage who can manipulate both time and space.
Rather than shoehorn my plot into the mechanics of d20 Modern (and because I subconsciously try to make things as difficult for myself as possible), I decided that my Player Characters would come from different time periods. With eight players, I wound up with two players from each time period (thus utilizing equipment and other details from not only Modern, but d20 Past and Future as well). I also created the "Legacy System", which allowed the players to not only use their skills, feats, and class abilities, but also spells and abilities from my own universe.
I failed to account for certain details, as will be explained later.
The basic premise of the campaign is sort of a side story involving Carda's predecessor, Joseph Planarre. He finds himself trapped in the SpaceTime Labyrinth, a maze that exists outside of realspace and time. Creatures from all different times and places wander the corridors, searching for an exit.
Being a Strider of Chronos, Joseph is supposed to have free reign to come and go in the labyrinth as he pleases... but something is blocking his ability to leave the labyrinth. Every time he nears an exit, it shifts somewhere else. He can still use all his temporal and spatial powers, but he still can't leave. Creating an exit portal works fine, but attempting to use it himself causes a backlash that has on several occasions already thrown him against the nearest wall, blacking him out for an hour or so.
In desperation, Joseph searched forwards and backwards through time to find those with the spark to become striders or chronomancers, and enlist their help to free him. He knows that there are three "keys" that will open the Labyrinth from the outside, and he needs the heroes to acquire these keys and use them.
Of course, things are never THAT easy.
It started as these things usually do: I decided I wanted to GM a campaign again.
I thought I'd learned my lesson the first time. See, when I initially got interested in roleplaying, I was in the army and stationed in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was one of those situations where, for security reasons, they couldn't give us an exact date on when we'd be going home.
Amazon.com was my best friend for those months.
Among my purchases, both from Amazon and other places, I got a copy of the d20 Modern sourcebook and the Urban Arcana campaign setting book. And dice.
So some time later, after I've been reading up on this stuff intensely, a couple of buddies of mine and I decided that we should do a little campaign to take our minds off the tedious boredom. It was also decided that I should be the GM, since I had the books and (as far as we knew) the only set of gaming dice within 5000 miles.
My players in that campaign were psychotic to the core. After getting caught in a traffic jam, I had one player attempt to blow up the semi truck in front of him... simply because he wanted to.
So yeah. I thought I had learned my lesson.
A little over a year ago, I moved down here to Bakersfield after having finished pharmacy technician school (I should also mention that I was due to get married about a week after I got here), and during the time since then my wife and I have formed a little gaming/social group with the Deveras and their friends.
But I should probably leave the introductions for the next post.