Your worst gaming experiences.

So let’s talk about some of the times when gaming was not so good. Maybe you had a vindictive GM screw you over? Maybe you had a GM fall asleep on you?

For me I had a few negative experiences. The most recent was with the group I used to play with. We took turns GMing games and things usually went well. We started to play Conan D20 and were really psyched for that low magic, brutal, blood and gore setting. One of my friends who really loved this setting ran our first few games and it was great. It had all the elements of a good Conan story (from the books). It had corruption, an evil mage, intrigue, and bloody combat.  His game was so good I started to plan out my adventure. I was slated to run 3rd but I could not wait. I had evil nobles, intrigue, double crosses, and fun plot twists. It was going to be great! I was psyched.

Next up running was, let’s call him, “Pete.” He proceeded to turn Conan into a full on D&D dungeon crawl. Wild creatures and magic everywhere. We fought weird and crazy demons at every turn. I would look across the table at other players and we would tilt our heads, confused. Didn’t we just start this game and talk about the whole “low magic” aspect? There were monsters written up in the main rules but many of the more “fantastical” ones were very high level and exceedingly rare. “Pete” had us facing them at level 3 (in a lower powered state of course) and section after section of this underground cave was filled with fantastical creatures. This affected another player so much that he just said “I don’t want to play this anymore.” I tried to tell him I would get us back on track with my game but he wouldn’t have it. We finished out “Pete’s” game then stopped to play something else. It was a huge let down. In fact many of my negative experiences invove “Pete”. I remember during a D20 Modern game he ran he thought it would be good GMing to have the characters make 7 (seven) climb checks to get down a cliff wall because we all know how climb checks and climbing are the pinnacle of role-playing excitement! Sometimes I just ask my GM for one at random even if there is nothing to climb!

There were other times too, some of them involved being railroaded to the point of ridiculousness. Powers all of a sudden having no effect on a door the GM didn’t want us to go through, NPC’s who were all of a sudden immune to mental abilities, things like that (No “Pete was not the culprit in this one).

So what are your experiences? How did you learn from them?

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Character Inspiration

Recently I was out with my friend and bloodthirsty GM Jay and we discussed gaming and characters over a pint. We spoke about the games we are currently playing, the fun we have, and the characters we play. It got me to thinking about my own trends in characters and what types I play the most. My character “resume” is varied. I have played The Noble Hero, The Irreverent Hero with a Heart of Gold (and a shotgun), The Kender, The Angry Whirling Blade Halfling, The Half Mad Warpriest, The Smooth Talking Assassin, The Smooth Talking Smuggler, The Emotional Vulcan, The Son of Thor, The Force Using Mystic, and a bunch of others i can’t recall at the moment. A varied past to be sure.

When I am creating a character for a game I often find pictures and even music to play that fits my concept both before and during my process for thinking up character ideas. I load songs onto my mp3 player and listen to them during my commute and just imagine different aspects.

Writing a descriptive but brief background/history also helps. It acts like a mini-intro to my character for the GM and the other players. It also is good that my buddy Andrew is an artist because I can describe my character to him and he will draw an awesome picture of it being cool in some way. I then incorporate it into my character sheet.

What inspires your character creation? What inspires your characters in general? What are your favorite types of characters to play?

Play By Post!

I am in 2 play by post D&D games and I am really enjoying them! Everyone playing posts at least once a day and it’s a little bit ‘o gaming every day. It is slow but steady. A week can equal about 2 or 3 “scenes” in a scenario (including a combat or two). A built in dice roller and character sheet template are available as well.

Here is the site: www.dndonlinegames.com

So if you feel you are not getting enough gaming (let’s face it, you’re not!) this is a great place to play!

Top Two’s

I have played many a system in multiple campaigns over the years. All were fun but I definitely enjoyed some more than others. Here are my two favorite systems for each category:

My top 2 games systems for campaign style play:

1) The Hero System

Why: The sheer versatility and freedom given by this game is why. I have played many fantasy, super hero, street level, horror, sci-fi, cyberpunk, etc. games all with this system as a base; all contained within one book of rules – optional supplements of course exist but the core rules give all you need. It’s characters use a point based creation system and it is totally customizable to fit whatever campaign you want to run.

2) The D20 system

Why: A close second in its versatility but it does require you to buy a new rule book per genre. Fantasy? You need the “holy trinity” of a PHB, DMG, and MM. Modern or futuristic? D20 Modern. Somewhere in between? Some other book. I like it for its versatility as well, it’s just not as readily available and convenient as Hero, but they have it.

my top 2 one shot systems:

1) Dread

Why: I have played it for a one shot a bunch of times and it’s a great tension builder and it’s the most friendly to new RPG players. The use of the Jenga tower is perfect. Dice can’t scare you anywhere near as badly as you and your shaky hand pulling a block from that wobbly mess of wooden horror can.

2) Don’t Rest Your Head

Why: Things in the Mad City can get pretty freaky. This system does a good job of delviong into a world of reality gone awry. An ingenious little system of dice and tokens simulates your character pulling on inner reserves of sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

More top two’s in future posts! What are your top two’s?

Pathfinder D&D – A slightly deeper analysis

OK so here I am on vacation, eating, sleeping and reading about D&D! I have read the Pathfinder D&D beta rules and I definitely like them and am itching to see how they play out. Granted the rules are not terribly different from D&D 3.5. Some people call this version 3.75 but I think I’d call it 3.5.2.

Even though they made some big changes, combat works the same way, character creation is the same, skills and spells work the same way systematically/structurally.

Classes: Everyone has more to do. Melee classes get more abilities each level and caster classes get some bonus feats, arcane school bonuses for Wizards, Bloodlines for Sorcerors, and even a few spell-like abilities at higher levels. Hit points are beefed up a bit for the casters too (no d4 hit dice). Sneak attack too is open to affecting more targets and is more “finding the weak spot” than “stabbing vital organs”

Skills: many skills were merged together or just ‘absorbed’ by others ex: tumble and balance is now ‘Acrobatics’, hide and move silently is now ‘Stealth’, concentration and spellcraft is now ‘Spellcraft’. Also, skill points work like this: you get a certain amount of points plus your INT bonus per level and don’t get that x2 or x4 multiple at first level. Any class skill you put a rank in gets an automatic +3 bonus, and all skills you gain from multiclassing then join that list of class skills and ranks put in them also benefit from this bonus.

Races: Each race gets a +2 to two stats and a -2 to one stat in addition to racial features listed. Humans can choose to add a +2 to any one stat and get the extra feat and extra skill points.

Feats: some more are added and some old ones got a makeover. Cleave now triggers on a successful hit, and not the death of your opponent, great cleave is the same too; as long as you hit you keep swinging at new targets in reach. Even better is some have reduced prerequisites, opening them up to characters at a lower level or to classes that may not normally have taken them.

Spells: Chain lightning is there and it’s spectacular (a.k.a. unchanged from 3.5) but druids may not like the new wild shape powers. You don’t become the thing in the monster manual – you get bonuses to stats based on what you choose and some basic abilities of the animal. Granted you can shift shapes earlier in your career and I think more often but some power is sacrificed. Also polymorph has been more defined and is broken up into seperate spells like “beast form” and “dragon form” etc.

Combat: Some good changes here. Gone are the confusing old grapple/disarm/sunder rules. Now we have the Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB).  STR bonus + BAB + size bonus (now not as severe as 3.5, -1 for small +1 for large) + feat bonuses (if any) is your CMB – anyone trying to grapple or trip or disarm you must make a DC 15+your CMB check (1d20 + their cmb). If they win you now have the condition “grappled” placed up on you (which has a small list of what you can and cant do in it). That’s it. much easier so far it seems. Combat is essentially the same thing as before though. Swift, free, immediate, move, and standard actions are still here; initiative, critical hits, full round actions, multiple attacks, saving throws, etc. are all the same as you remember from 3.5.

Items: seems the same with minor changes based on the spells and feats they grant you.

my review: It looks good. We’ll see how it goes for character balance and ease of combat once we try it. My guess is that people who weren’t thrilled with 3.5 in the first place might see this as an improvement but not enough of one to satisfy them fully. For me, I can see all the same freedom and fun I have now in 3.5 occurring again in Pathfinder just without some of the clunkier rules.

**Edited to add some more info**

The Game I’m Itching to Run

I want, I want, I want. Here’s my post-GenCon hype:

I want to run a spy game, maybe something black ops, maybe more political intrigue-y, maybe rogue agents, maybe agents with all the resources of an agency behind them, perhaps even something with more of a crime heist flavor. The exact details I want to leave open until the players sit down and start hashing out characters. Though I do want to avoid campy spy stories. More Bourne than Bond. Or at least more Daniel Craig than Sean Connery.

I want to keep the number of players small. Three or four, all playing experts or specialists in a team. Maybe their all bad-ass, international hitmen. Maybe one’s an infiltrator, another a mastermind, and another a cleaner. Maybe they’re all deep undercover, have been for years, and their only tangible connection with their real identities is each other.

I want to try it using the Solar System, which can be purchased through IPR for the obnoxiously low price of five bucks. There are a number of reasons I want to use this system, foremost of which is simply because I do. I picked it up at GenCon and it’s weaseled its way into my brain. There are things in this system which I think can be fun, and I want to try them out. I’ll go a little bit more into the system in another post. For now, I just want to plant the seeds.

Fates Worse Than Death

With all due respect to Gary Gygax, but the Tomb of Horrors is a real bitch. Saif has been running some of us through an updated 3.5 version of the infamous dungeon and I have to say that we’ve been doing quite well. It doesn’t hurt that the party includes a robot that is immune to almost everything and a death priestess.

However, the other night, we had our first real setbacks. It started when a mummy lord cast slay living on our ogre mage monk, played by Andrew. There were at least three chances for that spell to fail, but fate had other things in store. Luckily, we had a druid who could reincarnate him! Well, sort of. The net result of that fight was that we traded our flying, regenerating, spellcasting ogre mage for a human. A plain, ordinary human.

Then, my lockpicking, trap dodging wererat though that he had discovered a way into the dungeon’s final chamber. Nope. I got it slightly wrong, which, of course, meant that he was teleported back to the surface. Minus all of his gear. ALL of it. Naked.

Frankly, I imagine that both Andrew and I wish that that dungeon had killed our characters.

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