Feb 22, 2013

My Gaming Bug-Out Bag

Tomorrow I venture out into foreign territory.
Or maybe not so much, but for the first time in probably a year or a bit more, the weekly game will not be in my house, but at the home of one of my players.

So I've loaded up my gaming bug-out bag.
For those unaware, a bug-out bag is a bag survivalists keep on hand with everything that one would need to survive for seventy-two hours in the event of some disaster or being stranded in the woods.
My version should get me through a six or seven hour game pretty well, and hopefully any other impromptu gaming situation for my current campaign.

My DnD Loadout:
1. My ever-appropriate Bag of Holding. Unfortunately all the zippers have broken but the snaps function in holding everything together and it still has lots of pockets, which I like.

2. My campaign: In pocket number one I've got The Red Folder, where everyone crams all their character sheets and dungeon maps and such; my world binder, with all my maps world and dungeon; my "spellbook", which is just a notebook where I keep any good tables I make or find; and my composition notebook of notes on NPCs and other information that I improvise and need to remember later.

3. Some books: I have the Castles and Crusades Players Handbook so I can look up the spells people usually are convinced do entirely different things, the Monster Manual, and Zak Smith's Vornheim book since players are going into the city to sell things after the last dungeon and the book has lots of handy city tables.

4. Accoutrement: Pouch-type pocket holds everyone's dice bags (they often leave them at my place), an eraser someone left here, the players' minis in a beat-up tiny tupperware thing, and a dozen bottlecaps of various colors which make good minis and are much more durable for travel and take less space.

I have also put some useful information on my phone. I've found that the camera is high enough resolution to take legible pictures of notebook pages, and so I have:
The stats for a specific Cleric at the Temple (from a different notebook), just in case someone starts feeling violent when they stop in to see the Archbishop.
Some secret stats, also in a different notebook I didn't want to take.
Some percentages for magic item binding.
Carcosa's mutations table. I think I may use it as some magical effect, or just write some into my 100 Magical Effects Table later.

My phone also has scanned pictures of all but my latest dungeons, a random number generator for dice, and some appropriate background music.

Feb 18, 2013

Game Summary: Feb 17, 2013

Adventures in the water temple continue. Castiel, with his new found plate armor of can-talk-to-fish, meets an octopus, formerly worshiped, who claims to be a god and demands that Castiel release the fish he has captured. Fish turn out to be pretty preachy on the subject of natural freedoms and the party kills the god octopus.
Frederick, the new cleric, sound bursts some eels and inadvertently a kingdom of fish in a coral reef, Castiel has to listen to the widespread lamentations. Frederick realizes his relative might and moves on to another reef, kills another mob of fish, and then casts the lifeless husk of their octopus god upon the floor. There is mass fish suicide and Frederick gains a small following of fish who worship him as a bringer of the end times.
They proceed onward, get a couple more magical goodies and find an exit. As they are about to exit the range of the air/water reversal, Frederick takes the leader of his fish cult into a bag, the others hail this fish as the chosen one. The adventurers, unable to take their zombified sharks, are forced to leave behind a large and valuable gold gem-encrusted turtle shell.

They proceed into the Well of Vessa.
Level 1 They meet a guide and, since she doesn't seem evil and offers to lead them through a labyrinth, prudently decide not to kill her. She leads them to the entrance into the next level and is promptly killed by a giant onyx scorpion, which flees with her.

Level 2 They appear in a mead hall with all their hobbit friends, their guide, and all their old adventuring buddies who died. All this in the realized hobbit kingdom they have so long aspired to create. Frederick is unnerved and goes on a killing spree, eventually killing the guide and shattering the idyllic world.

Level 3 A sequence of horrific monsters. The last is a basilisk, which petrifies Frederick from the neck down (84%). The group mixes some magical ingredients until on try #3 they manage (a one-in-one-hundred chance, no fudging, scout's honor) to make a cure for magical effects and turn him back. They take the basilisk head.

Level 4 A series of traps preceded by alcoves that demand a price. In each case they may either pay the price or face the trap. The prices grow as the traps become more deadly. Frederick sacrifices a finger at one point, Decanus an ear at another. They throw a basilisk head on a pressure plate that releases a Medusa head on a chain. The two heads petrify each other. The last alcove demands "a hero's soul" lest they should try to outsmart an orb which disintegrates anything within a radius around.
Together they formulate a plan. They take out Frederick's now-dead fish acolyte. Castiel casts Speak With Dead to recall the fish's soul to speak. He asks whether it would give its life for its god to become a hero among its people. The fish consents and when they stab the fish on the altar the orb shatters.

Level 5 is some climbing and platforming and otherwise tricky maneuvering through a cave dripping salt water with the sounds of weeping all around and sharks in the water below.

Level 6 The guide holds out the Vessan Orb (destroy orb=destroy Well) to the heroes and smiles. Locke carves the symbol of Weirdunn (necessary to destroy the Orb) into an arrow and readies it as the party approaches. The floor cracks and breaks open and, about to fall, they see the onyx scorpion waits beneath. Locke's player has already declared that the shot was ready, and so is allowed a difficult roll to hit the orb.

Level 7 does not happen as Locke's player rolls a 20. The Orb shatters and the Well disintegrates.

The group appears at night in the lake above the water temple.

Feb 13, 2013

Circling in Combat Houserule

So my group has recently voiced some complaints about flanking and attacks from behind in combat.

The argument goes something like this:
It is unreasonable that combat should turn into a contest of running around a person's back for a bonus and then him doing the same spinning off ad infinitum, where in reality one should reasonably be able to turn with his opponent, if any opponent would even attempt this.

While I believe that back attack and flanking bonuses are important for the level of depth they add in strategic movement, and such attempts are not unknown in real combat, as in the fencing move the "fleche", wherein a fencer attempts a running strike to catch an opponent unawares and strike the ill-guarded side or back in passing.
There are unfortunately few good pictures.
I do however concede that it is more likely in single combat for a fighter to be able to turn with his opponent. In all the time I fenced, I never used the fleche and rarely saw it meet success, perhaps represented in DnD with chances equal to a normal attack.
So I've devised the following rule, with efficacy to be tested at this week's game:

The Combat Circling Rule
 In a combat encounter, when a player has attempted to strike a given opponent, he may, in that opponent's next attack phase, choose to turn with the opponent's movement so as to keep his back turned away, if he is capable of such movement.
This action may also be taken by a player who has not attacked at all in his most recent attack phase, granted the opponent he turns to face has been within the line of sight established at the end of the player's most recent turn.
I reason that this rule is justifiable because it adds its own layer of strategy in the option to attempt to make an opponent turn his back to other attacking players, or away from other events, as this rule will obviously also apply to non-players.

My example of combat maneuvering brings to mind another possibility: that of a Fleche attack as a combat maneuver, akin to grappling, disarming, or more nearly the charge.
The Idea:
A fleche attack that works similarly to a charge. You may circle around your opponent without the opponent being able to turn, and thus receive your back attack bonus, but at the charge's cost of -4 AC for one round, and also, because in theory you have run past/through your opponent's space, your back is turned as well.
There could maybe be a DEX check for the speed to do this? Though that seems to heap more reasons not to do it on top of the existing penalty, so I think I'll leave that out.

The Rule is a rule, the Fleche attack is just an idea at the moment, so I would like to hear any opinions about either.

Feb 10, 2013

Game Summary: Feb 9, 2013

A messenger arrived, sent from the Dwarves by Tassadar, to drop off a letter and three small packages of gunpower for Locke.

Castiel returned to the group and recounted last week's adventure and the death of Tet.

A strange man arrived in the rain, looking for Locke and Decanus and Willhelm (Willhelm is long dead.). He is Willhelm's older brother, a cleric evicted from the Order after he turned to dark magic, who got by as an assassin while searching for Willhelm and the party.
They filled him in, with a few lies, and he joined the party.

Everyone organizes their things, they stable the horse and camel and dog, and set out for the Well of Vessa.

Some Worgs attack, they are dispatched and reanimated as zombies, then used to fight off a pack of coyotes, after which one worg remains.

They find an altar in the woods, with holy energy emanating. Touching the altar, a cleric may ask one question of the spirits who have died in the forest:
"What do you want us to do?"
"Release us!"
So they conclude to break the altar in half, after which the holy energy dissipates. No one is sure whether this has helped, but there is a general feeling of accomplishment.

They reach the lake and the weather turns violent, so everyone dons their cloaks of water breathing and dives in, leaving behind Walden the zombie worg (the others were Thoreau and Steinbeck) by the lakeside in the storm. After some time they find a stone entrance under the water, which dives then rises into an air pocket. They rest, Locke has a demonic dream, and they proceed through a shallow pool. Crossing runes on the other side causes the water to form bubbles around their heads, bubbles of water which they can breath as air.

Anyway, they go on and air and water seem to have been reversed. They fight sharks and eels that swim through the air. There are some aquatic goblins who live in two warring factions in rooms across the hall from each other and have no idea that any more of the world exists beyond the two rooms and intervening hallway.
There is some cool armor and also catacombs, and the clerics raise a squadron of undead to fight a pair of paleolithic giant sharks, which they manage, so that they can get to tombs with amazing magical treasure.
Fully decked out with new stuff, they have also leveled up.
Locke has taken a further specialization in fighting humans.
Decanus can transform into a hawk.
Castiel doesn't get new spells this level.
Frederick (the reincarnation of Tet) is stuck back at level 5 for a while because of his dual-class.

Next up: A bit more fighting and then on to the Well proper.

Game Summary: February 2, 2013

Smaller attendance this week, so it was a Tet & Castiel adventure.

Staying in the Hobbit Hills for a couple days, the group entire encountered some issues when Marsheville guards arrived from the south with intent to search homes for any hiding fugitives. Alvaro, the captain of the guard/militia commander/sheriff, resisted enough to draw the players' attention. Castiel managed to convince the guards that he was on a missionary journey to a new settlement up North (which actually exists), and with Alvaro's help that Nymphadora is a new convert traveling with him, so no one found her hidden pointed ears and crucified her. With a couple lucky rolls, the players were able to slip out of town unnoticed.

After a couple nights spent at a cleared out bandit camp just out of town, the gang returned, talked with Alvaro and came clean about what the guards were looking for, and told him about the Wells and why they needed the equipment back. He asked only that they not put the Hobbits in any more danger and promised his support.

So then the game begins. Locke stays in the Hills with Decanus to write a journal of all the things that have happened to the party, both for future members and for his anticipated child. A messenger arrived with a letter for Castiel. The Temple of Weirdunn's Children wants to meet with him. He and Tet gather some gear and set out.

Reaching the Temple after a few days, Castiel goes to meet with the Archbishop and Tet camps to the north because he has red skin.

Castiel learns that the Temple wishes to build a new outpost in the east. Since Castiel and his party are familiar with the area, he has been asked to choose a suitable location and guide the cleric who will be in charge of the new outpost, Abraham, to such a place, which must be accessible via supply caravan for construction and upkeep.
In exchange, Castiel will be promoted to Curator of the new outpost, second-in-command to Abraham, with the power to levy small bands of clerics, access to items gathered by the clerics stationed there, some say in missions, and consultations on matters, so long as he upholds the values of the Temple and the Order of the Clerics and holds his station responsibly.
Castiel asks for two weeks to decide upon a suitable location.

Meanwhile Tet is set upon by a party of bandits. He defeats them, pretending to be a demon (red skin, claws, Ring of Chameleon Power, etc), but is badly hurt.
For reasons of merciless and excessive brutality, his alignment shifts to evil, and some new mechanics are unveiled*.

The two regroup, a potion Castiel took to possibly help Tet instead causes him to grow an eye out of his stomach. Castiel refuses to heal Tet after a scuffle with some clerics, hoping this will discourage him from fighting everything he sees.

The tactic is unsuccessful. Tet spies a bear in the woods on the way to Hobbit Hills by way of Riverton and attacks.
Three criticals later, the bear has torn out Tet's throat and Castiel survives, but is now alone in the forest. Before Castiel camps that night, a starved man wanders out of the woods and demands that Castiel leave Tet behind and go. When Castiel refuses, the man attacks, is killed, and screams "they're coming for him!". Castiel casts Preserve Body on Tet.

The next day, Castiel leaves, and arrives at Riverton a day later. Departing the next afternoon, he finds that Tet's body is missing from the cart.

*Magic items have a tendency to bind. I alluded to this in an older post but the players have just now discovered this fact. Each use of a magic item makes it more likely to bind to the user.
Bound Items (As well as some permanent magical effects) come with a cost.
Major effects= -1d6 humanity
Minor effects= -1d4 humanity
Humanity is your original charisma score times 10. As it decreases so does your charisma is proportion, i.e. 18 charisma=180 humanity. If you lose 12 humanity, your total is now 168, and your charisma consequently is 16.
As you become more magical, you become less human and lose your ability to empathize. When your humanity reaches zero...

Some may recognize this mechanic from Cyberpunk 2020.