Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pathfinder Recap- Session One, Behind the Scenes!

Yesterday I mentioned that for my current Pathfinder game I would be posting the session recaps on my Obsidian Portal page (1st session recap- part 1 and part 2) and any other tidbits on the blog. So here they are. I will put excerpts from the session recap and then do some explaining of what went on.

The group traveled down the stairs to Cold Iron wrought door where two more guards knocked on it when seeing the group. A plate slid open and a pair of eyes glanced at them. “Password?” said a gruff voice that belonged to the pair of eyes.

Leo opened his mouth to speak and his eyes go wide as he realizes he forgot the password. “Umm.. uhh.. Bumble Muffin?”

“Correct.” Said the voice.

This was a hilarious moment. The group was in front of the door and I said in the gruff voice, “Password?” Then pointed at Elmer and said asked for the password. Elmer looked shocked and a little unprepared and pretty much did what was described above. Everyone started laughing and it was decided that a Bumble Muffin was a delicacy of The Oak.

Leo drops to his knees and channels arcane energies attempting to heal his brother. He feels shock when his powers seem to not even register that James is there. James’s head flies up suddenly and looks at Leo, and begins speaking nonsense, “Devourers, eyes in the darkness, madness and tongues.” All escape his lips, talking to no one in particular. One of the veins on James face swells larger and bursts, pouring a slimy liquid down his front.

This was a great moment because it was tense for Elmer and he got really into character, which is awesome. It was also great because when I was describing the state of James I could see some of the revulsion on my players faces. I actually got a groan from some of them when I described the vein on his face popping. Priceless.

The group charged in and began cutting down the Goblins ranks. After several intense seconds of fighting and almost losing Herger and Laila to goblins who clambered on top of them and burst into a pile of acidic slime, the group rested, looking at the fallen creatures around them.

The almost losing Herger and Laila part isn’t an exaggeration. I will admit that the Acing Damage in DnD may not be such a good idea, especially when you roll like I do.

I’m not kidding. My players fear my rolls- I roll crits all the time on my d20, and pretty decent damage. Savage Worlds have given my players cause to fear all my other dice now because I ace like a son of a bitch.

On one attack I did to John (Herger) the goblin did 24 points of damage on a d8 (I aced three times in a row and then stopped because it was ridiculous). So I think I’m scrapping acing damage idea for DnD. I AM keeping the use of Bennies/Action Points though for healing surges and etc. That did work to great effect this session.

“GUYS!” Screams Laila. The group whips around and is shocked to see her fighting off a horde of Goblins, but unlike any Goblin they had ever seen. These creatures looked to be infected with the same disease or curse as James.

For these Goblins, I wanted to make them unique and different from the standard trope. I believe I accomplished that when I designed their abilities. However, due to my ability to ace just standard damage, I didn’t use one of the mechanics I designed (Acid Burst) because it would have been overkill on my players.

I used the standard states for the Pathfinder Bestiary for the Goblins and added the following two abilities:

Acid Burst– Each time the goblin takes piercing or slashing weapon damage acid spews forth from the wound in a 10 foot line. 1d6 damage, Fort DC 10; success half damage.

Acid Death– A Goblin will attempt to grapple the target- if successful it will open its mouth and a large glob mucus like acid spews out. The creature shudders and its body seems to be collapsing as the goo expands and dumps on the player causing 2d8 damage. The goblin is dead after that.

So that’s it for Session One Behind the Scenes!

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Pathfinder Session Recap and Obsidian Portal

Sunday was the kickoff of our Pathfinder game and the launch of my Obsidian Portal page for tracking everything. Feel free to poke around and give feedback here or on the OP.. The Session Recap is here: Part 1 and Part 2.

We did character creation 2 weeks ago. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

For other games that we have been playing I plan to continue doing the session recaps on the blog, but for Madness in Galt I will do them on OP.

It does make me want to pose a question however; Would you as the reader prefer just clicking to OP and reading the post while I put my mechanics info about the game/session on the blog or post the whole recap on the blog (although it won’t be as nifty pretty here with no character links, etc) and have the mechanics going along side it?

I’m interested in your opinion, so please let me know.


My Game Mechanics Revised (Update)!

Give Me Some Sugar Baby!


4E Mechanics

All characters initiative going up every even level. This makes sense to me. Adventures of level 12 still going at their original +2 (because they don’t have a great dex or imp initiative) just seems very non-epic to me.

How do you update Monsters from 3.x to reflect the initiative boost? Simple, look at their challenge rating or level advancement, and ½ that. There is their new bonus to initiative.

I’ve kept healing surges, to lighten the load on the healers, but it will work in conjunction with the Bennies mechanic I am taking from Savage Worlds (see below).

Bloodied- I’ve kept bloodied, but when bloodied characters take -2 to all roles, showing that they are becoming fatigued.

One thing that really annoyed me with 3.x is status effects. These effects are difficult to keep track of. “You are poisoned, feared, etc for 2d4 rounds.” I like 4e use of it goes on the whole encounter, but at the end of your turn, you get a save. I’m keeping that, but using 3.5 saving throws.

Savage Worlds

We now reroll initiative every round rather than rolling at the beginning and then the number remains static throughout the encounter. My players constantly were getting frustrated when they would roll really bad a low initiative and then sat through a whole combat at really low number when everyone else is going much higher. So I asked them if they would be interested in rerolling initiative each round and everyone agreed.

In Savage Worlds you use a deck of playing cards and every round the card is collected and each player gets a new one. We did not like using cards because it takes time out of playing gathering them up, reshuffling (if a Joker is drawn) and then dealing them out. I use a d20 (I have to get the d20 involved in Savage Worlds SOMEHOW). A 19-20 is considered a Joker for the purpose of Wild Cards. Also rolling a 5 or below is a reroll for anyone with the quick edge.

(Acing Damage, Survivability, and Bennies are all linked)

Acing Damage
For those of you not familiar with Savage Worlds- Acing Damage is where you roll the highest possible number on a die and get to roll again and add the new number to the total. If you ace again, you roll again and so on (IE- Roll a d6 and get a 6, roll again and get another 6, and then roll again and get a 3 =15 points of damage.

I know that this makes damage swingy, but one thing I like in Savage Worlds is players tend to think more when attacking someone because there is the potential for high damage and death. In Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder I think combat is more a war of attrition (especially at higher levels with uber hit points), where characters run up to the enemies and they all beat on one another with sticks till one falls down and goes boom.

As I thought about this though, two conflicts came into my brain. One- Spell Casters, and Two- Player Survivability (I want to make combat tough, but not too deadly).

Spell Casters pose a real problem for Damage Acing, especially at higher levels when they are rolling a ridiculous amount of dice. After some thinking I decided that no matter the class, only your first 4 dice can Ace. That means that a Barbarian using a 3d6 + 1 ½ STR damage sword will be able to keep up in the damage department with a Wizard casting a 8d6 Fireball or 6d6 Lightning Bolt Spell. The Spellcaster can still do high damage with the ability to have 4 damage die that can Ace and the “x” number of dice left to do standard damage.
Survivability

This was actually a two fold situation. Before thinking of allowing Acing of Damage I also didn’t want one of my players to have to be a healbot and sacrifice their “cool,” as Chatty DM would say. So that got me thinking about 4e Healing Surges, which I have used in the past for the same reason.

Second was if players are taking a huge amount of damage they need a mechanic that can counteract that to keep them alive.
So it seemed natural to include healing surges, however I didn’t want to do just “you can use this “x” number of times per day.” And that idea got me thinking about the next part.

Bennies
I have been using the Action Point mechanic ever since it was introduced in the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting. My players and I really liked Action Points because it allowed your character to be a little bit more heroic.

What I started to notice though was that my players horded their AP because they only refilled once per level and they were saving them for fights with big bads or really hairy situations. In the end the players didn’t get to use half of their AP.

In Savage Worlds Bennies always reset every session at 3, so you are encouraged to use them. Boom, problem solved right there for hoarding.

So for my game, Action Points can be used to add a d6 to attack, saves, or skill rolls. Players will also be able to burn an Action Point to use a healing surge.

Monster Mods

One of the things that always got to me about many role-playing games is the length of combat. Something that many GM’s and players have struggled with. To me combat should be fast, furious, deadly (Almost sounds like a Savage Worlds plug here.. And I originally wrote this before I tried Savage Worlds.. heh) without the really striving for TPK.

What I decided to do was create a style of “minion” or “mook,” for lack of a better term. They don’t have 1 HP, but can definitely be killed in 1 to 2 hits. To make them more of a threat, I give them a higher initiative, higher attack, and up their damage and saves. So if the creature has an axe that normally does 1d8 damage, I up it to 2 or 3 d8.

The next style of enemy has slightly higher HP and doesn’t do as much damage, but has some tricks up their sleeves that can make them just as nasty, but again, they can go down in 2-4 hits.

Then it goes to mini-boss and boss type creatures. These can be anything- A goblin king, a shambling mound, a chaos beast, or a lich. I look at what the MM says their abilities, stats, etc are, use those as a base, and up or lower damage stats and etc. Usually I do this on the fly and have gotten decently good at providing a challenge for my players.

Feel free to comment and/or offer feed back on these, just no trolling please. Feel free to borrow or use any of this.
Again, thanks for reading!!


Looking for Story-Telling Book Suggestions

As the title says I am looking for role-playing tool books that delve deeper into story-telling as a GM, either solo or group crafting story (this interests me a bit).

Does anyone have any suggestions for books? They can be system neutral or not.

I’m just looking for more stuff that can improve my skills as a DM/GM. Any suggestions are appreciated!


One Year for Me.. I’ll be Damned…

I love this pic.. HEY! It's MY Anniversary! 🙂

Time Keeps on Ticking

1 year and 134 posts later.. Huh… I am not joking.. I really didn’t realize it had been that long. Yesterday I was doing a post congratulating Shawn on doing Clockworks for a year and wondered how long I had been doing Wrathofzombie and took a look.. BOOM! On the nose! Yesterday was my one year anniversary. Yay for me!

Looking back at my original idea of what I wanted to do with this blob, I have pretty much stayed true to that goal. I have met some great people, tossed out different ideas that I’ve had, and learned more things about being a better DM/GM.

Going to the Future

I’m going to continue to blog when I get time and hopefully contribute some worthwhile ideas that people find interesting. I look forward to meeting other people in the gaming community that shares the love of the hobby as I do.

People

Over the course of the year I have met some really cool people and have exchanged ideas with many of them. I want to thank each of them for offering me great advice, just yaking and developing a cool friendship, and generally having great ideas and thoughts on their blogs and sites!

Take the time to take a look at their sites.

Critical Hits
Musings of a Chatty DM
Unnatural d20
Geek Life Project
Newbie DM
Campaign Mastery
Role-playing Tips
You Meet in a Tavern Forum
Thieves’ Cant
Greywulf’s Lair
Clockworks Webcomic
Dungeon Mastering
Geeks Next Door
Arankeith’s Obsidian Portal Game (Keith doesn’t have a blog, but he is chalk full of good ideas and conversation!)

Various Posts I’ve Done That Are Worth Two Poops
I went through and nabbed a handful of posts that I’ve done that I felt were decent or that I got some good feedback on. Most of my readers will have seen these, but maybe some new readers will find them interesting!

Adventure Cards and Random Encounters

Having a Newsletter Really Does Help

Savage Worlds and the Three Bowls of Porridge

Dude, You Gotta Try Savage Worlds

Sharing Firearms in Eberron

What Does 4e DMG 2 Offer a 3.x Player?- Part 1 and Part 2.

Pathfinder Bestiary Review

Pathfinder Bestiary and MMI Breakdown

My DnD Gaming Mechanics, Revised (Side Note- After some Playtesting coming soon, I’ll probably be revising again!)

DMing/GMing in the Abstract

Wrath of Zombie Playtest, Further Development

Pathfinder Character Creation- Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Again, thanks for checking out my blog over the course of the year. I appreciate it!


Clockworks 1 Year Anniversary!!

So Shawn’s awesome steampunk webcomic based on his homebrew world using the Savage Worlds system Clockworks has hit its first birthday! That’s awesome!

Awhile back Shawn approached me (digitally) and asked if I would be interested in playtesting his system and givng feedback. I was exctied at the prospect of playing in a world I was really digging in the comics. Another boon about it, is all my players seemed really excited to do the same!

Here are all related posts to Clockworks!

A Guest Post With Shawn Gaston About Clockworks!

Character Creation Part I and Part II.

Gentleman Caller (A Clockworks Adventure written by Shawn) Session Recap.

Session after Gentleman Caller- Kick starting our own adventures!

Clorencian Times

Music for Clockworks

Recap– To the Ball

Recap II– Don’t Mess with Angie.

Recap III-Adventure.

Recap IV-That’s One Big Worm!!

Recap V-Blood Thirsty Women!!

Recap VI– Choking on Plumes of Smoke…

Recap VII– Somewhere Between the Vomited Fermented Goats Milk and the Threesome, Things Got Out of Control!

We are taking a small breather from our Clockworks game to start up a Pathfinder Campaign, but fear not, we will be doing Clockworks again come August!

I plan on alternating between Pathfinder and Clockworks.

Where do I want to go with the story? It’s hard to say without spoiling things for my players who ACTUALLY (and those of you who do mention this and get a benny) read my blog. I know things will start getting stranger and I have already introduced one of my Big Bad Peoples.

I definitely want the players to be able to explore the lands of Clockworks, because Shawn has done a really good job creating a believable, detailed, and exciting world.

Clockworks is a great webcomic that has been really fun to watch grow over the period of a year and I can’t wait to see what Shawn does in the future, artistically and story related!

Keep up the good work Shawn!


Pathfinder Character Creation, Part 3- Mechanical Additions

Part 1 and Part 2.

So in this post I will be talking about 2 things from Savage Worlds and one thing from 4e Dungeons and Dragons.

Here are the mechanics and I will explain further below:

Savage Worlds:
• Bennies
• Acing Damage

4e Dungeons and Dragons:
• Healing Surges

My friends and I really enjoy Savage Worlds, but at heart I think we just really enjoy 3.5 (now Pathfinder) as our favorite system. We haven’t played 3.5 in a half year now, so I think it’s time for us to get back into the groove.

I noticed that there were two aspects of Savage Worlds that got my players really excited. Bennies and Acing on Damage. To me, anything that gets players excited is usually a damned good thing.

So I wanted to incorporate those things into my Pathfinder game.
Acing Damage

For those of you not familiar with Savage Worlds- Acing Damage is where you roll the highest possible number on a die and get to roll again and add the new number to the total. If you ace again, you roll again and so on (IE- Roll a d6 and get a 6, roll again and get another 6, and then roll again and get a 3 =15 points of damage.

I know that this makes damage swingy, but one thing I like in Savage Worlds is players tend to think more when attacking someone because there is the potential for high damage and death. In Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder I think combat is more a war of attrition (especially at higher levels with uber hit points), where characters run up to the enemies and they all beat on one another with sticks till one falls down and goes boom.

As I thought about this though, two conflicts came into my brain. One- Spell Casters, and Two- Player Survivability (I want to make combat tough, but not too deadly).

Spell Casters pose a real problem for Damage Acing, especially at higher levels when they are rolling a ridiculous amount of dice. After some thinking I decided that no matter the class, only your first 4 dice can Ace. That means that a Barbarian using a 3d6 + 1 ½ STR damage sword will be able to keep up in the damage department with a Wizard casting a 8d6 Fireball or 6d6 Lightning Bolt Spell. The Spellcaster can still do high damage with the ability to have 4 damage die that can Ace and the “x” number of dice left to do standard damage.

Survivability

This was actually a two fold situation. Before thinking of allowing Acing of Damage I also didn’t want one of my players to have to be a healbot and sacrifice their “cool,” as Chatty DM would say. So that got me thinking about 4e Healing Surges, which I have used in the past for the same reason.

Second was if players are taking a huge amount of damage they need a mechanic that can counteract that to keep them alive.

So it seemed natural to include healing surges, however I didn’t want to do just “you can use this “x” number of times per day.” And that idea got me thinking about the next part.

Bennies

I have been using the Action Point mechanic ever since it was introduced in the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting. My players and I really liked Action Points because it allowed your character to be a little bit more heroic.

What I started to notice though was that my players horded their AP because they only refilled once per level and they were saving them for fights with big bads or really hairy situations. In the end the players didn’t get to use half of their AP.

In Savage Worlds Bennies always reset every session at 3, so you are encouraged to use them. Boom, problem solved right there for hoarding.

So for my game, Action Points can be used to add a d6 to attack, saves, or skill rolls. Players will also be able to burn an Action Point to use a healing surge.

So these are things I’m going to try out. They might not work, if that’s the case I’ll axe em, but I think they have potential.

I’ll do updates on how it is working out.

Feel free to comment.