Monthly Archives: July 2010

Pathfinder Session 2 Recap, Part 1

Yesterday’s session went really awesome! I was really happy about all that the players did and came up with.

I mentioned on Friday about using some Mouse Guard mechanics in my Pathfinder game, and after explaining how it will work the players seemed to really like the possibilities.

I won’t go into that yet. Part One of the Recap is right here on my Obsidian Portal Page. I’m planning on having Part Two out tomorrow and the Behind the Scenes Explanation of the Mechanics out on the blog on Wednesday!

Stay Tuned!

Mouse Guard Mechanice in Pathfinder- Some Thoughts

Awhile back ChattyDM did a post talking about using Mouseguard mechanics of in his 4e City of the Overmind Campaign:

Terminology Aside: What did I mean by ‘Mouseguarded it”? In Luke Crane’s Mouseguard (based on the Burning Wheel game), a failed skill check doesn’t lead to a dead end but instead adds a complication or a condition to the PC attempting it. My friend Dave and I have started calling doing that in D&D “Mouseguarding”. I really need to write a post on that.

I really hadn’t heard of Mouseguard too much prior to this statement, but upon reading it ideas started going around in my brain.. all sorts of wonderfully devious and sinister ideas.

So I went and bought the PDF version of the Mouse Guard Core Rulebook to delve further into the mechanics and ideas behind Twists/Complications and Conditions. Sadly real life and other projects raised their fang bared heads and kept me from really poking around the Mouse Guard book. Also Pathfinder came out around the same time I bought that and I was too enamored with it to really read anything else.

Finally I poked around the Mouse Guard book and I really liked the Complication/Twist mechanic.. however.. There was something I didn’t care for… initially.. Conditions.

Steering the Players

In Mouse Guard when a player gets a condition, they can become, tired, angry, injured, etc. When I first read this I had an absolutely knee-jerk reaction and wanted to scream, “Foul!” I didn’t like this. How can I as a GM TELL a player that they are suddenly angry? I also didn’t like the labeling of, “ok now you’re tired, injured, or whatever.”

However.. Once I got over my reaction and reread the text I saw the absolute brilliance of this mechanic. Too often during a fight or a challenge when the player fails, there is no role-playing response, it is just “reroll the dice with a negative modifier till we succeed” but by putting the players in a situation where there is a stipulated “emotion” or “condition” you are forcing a response aside from the apathetic rolling of the dice. They start thinking, “Ok. So my character is angry… How would they act and react?”

This simple mechanic can create all sorts of wonderful situations for the players.

To use Chatty’s Term- Mouseguarding

I don’t (although maybe someday I will be able to give it a try) play Mouse Guard. I am currently running a Pathfinder Campaign (Post 1, Post 2) and have decided to incorporate the Mouse Guard Story Telling Mechanics into my game.

The Complication and Twists mechanic is pretty easy, but the Conditions I wanted to break down so they fit into the Pathfinder/DnD 3.5 Mechanics.

So here is what I came up with:

Mouse Guard Conditions:

Healthy– The characters base status.
Hungry/Thirsty– Characters have not eaten food or drank water in awhile. Characters can be affected by the Fatigued status (Pg 567) or can take -2 to Con and Fortitude Saves.
Tired– Character has over exerted and is now affected with Fatigued status (Pg 567). If already Fatigued, they become Exhausted (Pg 567)
Angry– Character is angry and agitated and takes -2 to Charisma and Charisma Based Skills.
Injured– The Character has been injured by attempting something and can affect with different conditions: Bleed (Pg 565), Blinded (Pg 565), Confused (Pg 566), Dazed (Pg 566), Deafened (Pg 566), Disabled (Pg 566), Entangled (Pg 567), Frightened (Pg 567), Helpless (Pg 567), Paralyzed (Pg 568), Panicked (Pg 568), Pinned (Pg 568), (Pg 568), Staggered (Pg 568), Stunned (Pg 568).
Sick– Character has fallen ill and can be afflicted with different conditions: Fatigued (Pg 567), Exhausted (Pg 567), Nauseated (Pg 568), Shaken (Pg 568), Sickened (Pg 568), Staggered (Pg 568) Unconscious (Pg 568).

And finally here is a discussion with a friend that I had explaining the premise behind Mouseguarding. I apologize if it isn’t perfect, but I cleaned it up as best as I could without having to rewrite the whole damned thing.

If you fail however, that’s it.. You can’t reroll again.. Now the GM gets to add either a complication/twist or a condition..

So a complication would be suddenly as you are tracking it begins to rain and you lose the tracks you were following..

Now you guys have to come up with a new way of finding the creature/person.

A twist would be you find the criminal you were tracking, but you find him dead with a hatchet in his back and tracks leading off in a new direction. And you notice his satchel is gone (which has the items your party needs).

The Conditions is that you do succeed in finding the tracks but maybe it took you a bit longer than normal for someone of your skill, so I tell you that you are angry about it.. So now you get modifiers to your charisma and are a grump to be around.

Or tracking really took it out of you and now you are tired or hungry or as tracking you didn’t notice a hole in the ground and slipped and injured yourself..

Now you have modifiers to your Dex.

You just gotta be ready to think on your feet.. Say the original idea was for them to find the guy and get his satchel over a fight through the trees and report back..

Well with the twist as a GM you decide, like I said, to kill the guy, and have the satchel stolen by bandit, gnolls, or goblins..

And taken to their lair..

Then if you want to go further.. The group gets there, and fights through the caves and finds a group of humans trapped in cages for slaves/food.

So now the group decides to free them and they beg to be taken back to town. Now the group has to make sure they are ok..

And protect them..

And one of them says he is a nobleman’s son, and they will be handsomely rewarded if the deliver him safely..

So your players decided to roll a knowledge check to see if they recognize his name, and fail.. So again, the GM decides to do a complication or twist.

Complication- He is prized as a sacrifice for the Gobinoid Heathen Gods.. and they are sending a war party to retrieve him…
And they will kill everything else where it stands..

He isn’t actually the Nobleman’s son. The son was killed and eaten a few days prior, but not before he imparted this info on a young con artist, who things by passing off as the son it doubles his chances to get to town in one piece, and he will then either give the players the slip or lead them into a trap.

I’m Running a Second Pathfinder Campaign and Obsidian Portal!

I’ve read some buzz over the last few days on RPG Bloggers from people who have used Skype to do some gaming. I have friends back in Montana (where I lived till I moved to New Jersey with my g/f so she could get her PhD in Toxicology) who I used to game with all the time.

Now with Skype and other pieces of programing we will finally be able to game together again after 5 long years!

I recently mentioned my Obsidian Portal for my Pathfinder campaign.

Well I decided that with this new online/skype campaign that I would set it in a huge free port city, Abasolm, and the group would start at level 3 as pirates.

Once that was decided I went to work on crafting some NPC’s and locations. You can view that here on my new Obsidian Portal page.

Let me know what you think!

Creating Party Synergy

Totally a group effort

Something that I really want to get my players in the mind of is more group cooperation and planning when it comes to encounters. My players do fine when it is social, skill, and role-play encounters, but once it comes to beating something with a stick they go into independent mode, and usually coordination goes just far enough to try and get out of the way when the caster lobs a fireball into the throng of enemies, although this is more for self-preservation than actual cooperation.

I really want to start pushing the party in ways that they haven’t been pushed before… to really rely on one another in combat, coming up with cool new ideas and solutions.

I would be a terrible person if I made it seem like my players didn’t come up with unique ideas, solutions, and the like, because they really do. Sometimes they even come up with them together, but largely these are independent avenues.

Here are two examples of what I mean:

This one is from a post I did awhile back:

Meanwhile Jack ran his demolitionist to the windstorm that the preacher had summoned and with a -4 (-2 for off hand, -2 for second action) through a can of nitro at the storm. His idea was that it would explode in the storm creating a fire tornado.. pretty cool right?!


Jack botched his roll, basically hitting a zero due to his modifiers. So I rolled a d8 to determine trajectory. The Nitro ended up being bounced out of the storm and flung right into Lady Death’s face.
Nitro is a large burst template and the firey blast killed everything in the radius.. all that was left when the smoke cleared were two lone enemy shooters looking around scartching their heads.. wondering what the hell had happened.

Now while this idea of Jack’s failed due to a botched roll, it was still a really cool idea! And even though it didn’t work it still created one of those great RPG moments that we still talk about at the table.

Here’s another:

I was playing in a 3.5 game a long time ago and the DM put us up against a really tough enemy (at this point we were level 1 or 2, cant’ remember). The only two player left conscious was a friend and I. I was playing a sorcerer and he was a Cleric. We were almost out of spells and things were looking grim. I cast my last Summon Monster I to keep the enemy busy for a moment and asked the cleric what spells he had left, which was pretty much nothing. He had a few and one was Create Water.

I had nothing left save 1 use of Ray of Frost. I then mentioned about casting Create Water above the enemy, and I would cast Ray of Frost on the water after holding my action to go right after the cleric. The cleric agreed and we brought it up to the DM.

The DM liked this idea because it was outside of the box. So the plan went off as we described and a block of ice fell on the enemy, killing it.

I would like to design more encounters where certain criteria needs to be met. This could be things like traps going off for the rogue to disable in the middle of combat, or a portal that is spewing out demons and it requires the spellcaster to use Spellcraft and sacrificing spells (just raw power at that point) to close down the gateway while the other players defend them.

I would also like to start adding abilities or something to creatures what require the party members to combine abilities and over come the obstacle/enemy. This will require a bit more work on my part when designing the enemy encounter, but I think the pros would more than out-weigh the timesuckage.

Anyone have thoughts, comments, or anecdotes to share on the subject?