Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Break from Reality

I was going to say that Adrianna was the last character I played in person, until I moved to Georgia, but I just realized there was one character after that... Keneda Matsumoto. That was my Akashic Brotherhood character in a Mage game I played with some friends while I was living in Ottawa. I only got to play him for a short time, we played only a few sessions before the Storyteller quit. He was a fun character. I patterned him off the rather stereotypical "Japanese biker gang member". I can't remember how he discovered he was a mage... I think he got caught by a rival gang and when they tried to kick the crap out of him, he single-handedly turned the tables on him... then an old guy showed up to train him... pretty Hollywood, now that I think about it. heh.

After that, though, I took an involuntary break from tabletop gaming. All the rpgs I played in after that were online... some by IRC, some by Email, and some by Play-by-Post. I played and ran several PbP games, on dndadventure.com, rpol.net, drunkendwarfinn.com, and even a couple in the MSN groups.

That last medium is where I played Laarde Torosken.



When I joined the Star Wars: SARC game, I was the first one to speak up about wanting to play a Force Sensitive character (who could eventually learn to use the Force), so I got it. I decided to go a different route with it, and designed Laarde to be a troubled teen. My inspiration for his personality, and his picture, was Isamu Dyson, from Macross Plus. He's a hot-headed pilot that rarely pays attention to the rules. I made him a Wroonian, though, which is a tall, thin, blue-skinned/haired, near-human race, which made for troubles on the human world of Merridon, which had an Imperial Academy. He was very intelligent, and easily excelled in his classwork, but he rebelled a bit, mostly out of boredom, and hung out with a mostly harmless speederbike gang. They didn't cause much harm, just tormenting the cadets at the local Imperial Academy, and seeing who could tweak his speederbike the best. His best friend was the rather geeky mechanic of the gang, and he was romantically involved with the little sister of the leader of the gang. He eventually wanted to become a pilot or navigator for the newest Imperial starships, but was told by his professors just before he graduated (and thus would be able to move on into the Academy on his grades) that he would never reach his goal, because he wasn't human. So, he dropped out of school without graduating and tried to steal a shuttle to get off-world. He was caught by the local Search and Rescue Corps, and after his influential parents pulled some strings, his sentence was that he had to serve in SARC for a period of 2 years. So, he got his wish, to fly ships, but in a way he hadn't anticipated.

On one such mission, we were helping to clear some mynocks off of a ship, when Laarde got a flash of insight that a ship was in danger somewhere in the system... it was a small cargo ship being attacked by TIE fighters. He reported it, got back inside the ship, and just KNEW where to set the hyperspace coordinates. With a bluffed plea to his Captain to trust him, he activated the hyperdrive and took them right there, to the fight, exactly as he was seeing it. They dispatched the TIE fighters, who were clearly acting illegally (in our view), and offered assistance to the damaged ship. One passenger, an elderly woman, said she knew Laarde... that she was an aquantence of his uncle, but that's all he got out of her before they had to let the ship go.

Well, since this game was online, and we could pretty much post whenever we wanted, Russ let us "play in the sandbox" a bit. As long as we didn't do anything real major (or at least not before we consulted him), we could run our own little side adventures. When we got back from saving the ship, we had to make ourselves scarse while the Commander ran interference with the Empire for our actions in attacking their cadets. So, I had Laarde go back to see his speederbike-gang friends, who were fairly pissed off at him for seemingly abandoning them, so that he could get their help with breaking into the hospital to see his uncle.

See, Russ and I set up a little side story for Laarde. I'd decided that his Force Sensitivity was also shared by an uncle of his, who was being held in the local sanitarium, heavily medicated. His uncle was his favorite person, and was a pretty fun guy when he wasn't doped up. Well, Russ took that and made it that this uncle used to be a Jedi, and voluntarily started taking medication to dampen his Force Sensitivity, in order to hide himself for a time when he would be needed.

So, in order to convince his friends to help him, he had to help them first. They were planning a big "send-off" to the Imperial Academy graduates that afternoon, and afterwards, if Laarde helped, they would help him break into the hospital. So, Laarde helped them fix up the system they needed on their speederbikes, and then accompanied them on their sendoff... where they flew around above the gathered formations and spectators, strafing them all with blasts of paint. In the process, he saved his friend's life, since one over-zealous trooper fired at the leader of the bike gang, looking to shoot him down for good. Laarde appeared to take the hit, and the group sped off.

They arrived at the hospital, Laarde appearing as though he was shot in the back, and when he was taking to an exam room, who of his friends started a fight in the lobby that distracted everyone, allowing him and his mechanic friend to slip out of the room and upstairs to see his uncle. When he got there, he found his uncle fully lucid, and accompanied by a strange older man he introduced as Corwin Shelvay. He explained that they were both Jedi, and that they had to leave, quickly. They made it to the roof of the hospital, and were confronted there by a Dark Jedi, Imperial High Inquisitor Tremayne. His uncle used the Force to get Laarde and his friend to flee the scene, so that they wouldn't be captured or harmed, while he and Corwin fought Tremayne. Laarde used a bit of the Force himself to get his friend to turn the speederbike they were on around, and get him back to that roof. He arrived just in time to see Corwin being dragged on board, Tremayne leaping onto the ramp of the shuttle as it took off, and the shuttle strafing the roof with blaster fire. He ran to his uncle's side, but it was too late. He faded into nothingness, leaving behind only his robes and lightsaber, which Laarde took before they fled.

We went through one more short adventure after that, and were preparing for another one, when Russ decided to reprioritize his gaming. Unfortunately, we didn't make the cut. I went through the MSN group and copied all the threads, so that I would have a record of it. I used those posts to put together a few chapters on fanfiction.net, but I got distracted and never got back to it. Unfortunately, the files are gone now, since my harddrive crashed last year, but the fanfiction chapters are still up. If you're curious, take a look. I had to do a little bit of editing, to make it work better as a story, as opposed to a string of gaming posts, but it's still a bit rough, so bear with it. It'd be nice to go back and just completely re-write it so it flows better, but it'd be a fairly daunting task these days.

Oh well, Laarde was a pretty cool character. I tried resurrecting him for a different Star Wars game on drunkendwarfinn.com, but the first incarnation was better.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My wife endured this, so now you're gonna...

Okay, so, fairly early on in my relationship with my wife, when we were still just boyfriend/girlfriend, we were walking through the mall, talking about various stuff, and probably discussing D&D in at least some small way, and someone set off one of those security alarms at a store entrance. This brought back a memory of a D&D character of mine that set off one of those, and caused me to chuckle, and she asked what for...

Okay, so, in the University campaign, I was playing Rainara at the time, and our group was "convinced" by a Green Dragon to go into this dungeon, to retrieve a magical amulet for him. Not wanting to die, we agreed, and then figured we'd maybe find something in there that we could use to kill him, rather than follow through on our bargain (Hey! Don't look at me like that. He was evil. Who's to say that he'd have followed through on his side??). We delved into the dungeon, only to find it deserted... well, almost deserted. We found out that there was an entity residing there, or at least something that he could speak to us through. It was an ancient, long-forgotten god. He told us a tale of how Satan had been ousted from Hell by the other Devil-Lords and he had been placed into a "null-dimension". A void he would never be able to escape from. However, foolish humans on another world were worshiping him. These humans had gotten hold of a magical necklace from our world (courtesy of a world-hopping wizard) that carried with it a magical connection to our world, through which the wizard could draw magical energy through, in case he ended up on a low-magic or no-magic world. Well, as it turns out, the world these foolish Satan worshipers were on was a no-magic world... Earth.

The ancient god told us that these humans were using the magic of the amulet to summon Satan into their world, and they would succeed without intervention. The god could not act directly, so it wanted us to travel to Earth and replace the amulet with a copy, then bring the real one back. The idea was, that the worshipers would still attempt their summons, but with only a small residual of magic left, they would not be able to complete the summons. Satan, in his anger, would destroy them, before falling back into his prison-void. Thus, ending the threat.

First off, the god needed to establish which of us was the leader, so he had us fight each other in the dungeon. Long-story short (heh), Sarek won. I think he got the ability to copy the necklace. Once that was done, the god sent us to Earth's past, so that we could find a way to learn the language, before he sent us to the time we needed to be at. We purchased was was likely a bible, and then returned to our own world. The plan was for the Bard to take a couple of weeks to learn the language, and then she would teach it to all of us, then we would go.

I couldn't show up the next week to the game, but it turns out that Joe, Zoroaster's player, got bored and decided to search around. He found a secret door that led into a small room. It had a semicircle on the floor of what looked to be strange wavy tentacles, around an area of darkness against the back wall. We figured that the tentacles would grab you if you tried to cross, so Zoroaster summoned a Flaming Sphere and rolled it all over the tentacles to burn them up. With those gone, we approached the blackness... Colin's character stared into the blackness, and Steve called for a saving throw. He rolled low and suddenly screamed in terror, his hair turning pure white. After that, one by one, we started entering the darkness... anyone who's played through Tomb of Horrors probably knows the logic here...

Well, next session after that, things were very different... it turned out that the inky blackness was another entity, named Ik. When we all entered it, it basically took us over. It absorbed all the magical energy from our magical items to grow stronger. It gave the green dragon the amulet that it wanted, and then proceeded to take over most of the northern part of the country. Our characters awoke 20 years later to find that we had been living very mundane lives in Ik's domain. He had turned a fairly peaceful countryside into a bunch of insular walled cities, all paranoid about the others. He had caused a war with the elves in the northern forests, driving them further north, and even had killed off a few of the elven gods in the conflict. The green dragon had taken the amulet, which allowed it to polymorph itself, and it killed the Prince of the kingdom, taking his place. He took over the southern parts of the kingdom, leaving Ik with the north, and reigned as a tyrant.

A further problem with that was, that since we didn't go to the other world to stop Satan's worshipers, he was summoned into that world and took it over. He used the magical connection to our world to draw magic to Earth to become stronger. He then returned to our world, took over Hell again. He began drawing more and more magic into Earth through Hell, which was linked to the prime material plane through a large fissure in the far north called "The Great Rift" (I think). This was causing the magic in the north to be very weak, which was, in turn, weakening the elves, who need magic to survive. So, having gathered together again, we tried to find a solution to this.

In our searching, we were told by the Sun God, Rhom, to go to these three towers nearby. When exposed to the sun, these towers could fire off a beam of magic that could cause great destruction. However, if fired a far enough distance, the magic wouldn't be harmful, it would just bathe the target area in magic. So, we devised a plan to tell all the elves to gather in one spot, and we would fire this weapon there, and since they are far enough away, they would only be supplied with the magic they needed to live, as opposed to being destroyed. To allow for the towers to operate day and night, Rhom gave us three fragments of the sun, in a bag from the god of Thieves, which could hold anything. When the tower was aimed properly, we would place the fragments at the base of each, and that would do it.

However, when we were going to do this, Ik had gotten wind of it all, and caused basement of the tower to collapse into a dungeon underneath it. The mechanism for aiming the tower was broken apart and scattered throughout the dungeon. So, we had to go find them. Rainara died in the dungeon, crushed to death by a creature that had taken the form of a chest of treasure (a mimic, or maybe a protein polymorph). To replace her, I brought Mizraith, my dark elf magic user, into the game. He helped continue with the search, and Colin's character came upon the main compass of the aiming device, set behind metal bars, just out of reach... he had found a new sword a few rooms back, an old, rusty sword, but one that was magical... he used it to reach through the bars, to pull the device towards him. Well, it turns out it would have been better if he touched the bars with it... it was a sword of rusting. Very good when fighting foes in metal armor... but very bad for touching compasses made of metal. The compass turned to rust dust before our shocked eyes.

Well, that plan was down the toilet. Angered by our stupidity/incompetence, Rhom showed up again and sent us to Earth, to fix things there, hopefully cutting off the flow of magic to our world. We showed up there, with some knowledge of the language, and proceeded to try to get by. Mizraith was sticking out like a sore thumb, though, so he turned invisible. The invisibility spell, in those days, worked indefinitely, as long as you didn't attack someone, so the one spell stayed on him as long as he needed it. Now, we needed some equipment, so he sneaked into a store (with tools, camping and hunting equipment, etc) and started making his way around, grabbing what they needed and storing it on him, under his cloak, so that it would turn invisible too. Now, here's the part, finally, where we get to the security alarm... bet you'd forgotten about that by now, hadn't you? heh... so, he grabbed all this stuff, and he went up to the exit, with its automatic doors, and he saw people going through, but he couldn't get it to activate on his own, 'cause he was invisible. So, I waited until some unfortunate man was attempting to go through the door, struggling with a large box. As he delayed slightly to shift the box in his arms, Mizraith quickly exited, setting off the alarm. The two men grabbed him and dragged him off. I'm sure he was fine, though. heh. I brought my ill-gotten wears back to the group (including a nifty pair of sunglasses for my light-sensitive dark elf eyes), and we continued on in our quest.

Now, so as to not leave you hanging on the rest of the story, we tracked down Satan's "lair" to a large sports arena. Apparently, this place looked normal from the outside, but inside was a completely different world, a little pocket dimension. Avoiding entering through the front doors, we climbed up the building, and found a maintenance entrance through the roof. Inside, yes, there it was, a vast forested landscape, with a tall tower in the distance, far larger than the actual sports arena. We entered, and traveled to the tower, but were unable to find a way to affect it. So, I had a brilliant idea... we'll go back to that maintenance entrance, climb back up, and just before we're going to close the door, we dump those three fragments of the sun into the world, hopefully burning it all up and destroying everything in there, including Satan, or at least his connection to our world (I think that's what the tower was).

Well, we definitely hit upon something there, because as soon as we decided on that plan, a massive blizzard kicked up, making it extremely hard going to get back to that exit. We had to camp for the night at one point, digging into the huge snow drifts for warmth. I joked, while we were doing so, that we should just summon Satan to our location, and use the fragments to destroy him directly. We all chuckled, and went to bed, setting a watch.

Well, seems Colin took me more seriously, and on his character's watch, he took the bag with the fragments and went off to make a deal with Satan. Satan would restore his youth (remember that 20 years? That was nothing for Rainara, an elf, but Gawain was a human, suddenly in his mid-forties.) and he would give Satan the fragments. He agreed, restoring Gawain's youth, and had Gawain throw the fragments in a hole that opened up in front of him... Gawain did, and the hole closed up and they were gone... this is when we all hear that "Zonked" sound from Let's Make a Deal. Should have taken the box, Gawain. Satan wasn't even physically present, so the fragments wouldn't affect him. Well, that was that... we woke up and everything was calm, no more blizzard, and we were allowed to leave, peacefully... we were no threat then.

Great. We returned to our world, failures. Rhom and the other gods weren't pleased. I think we were sent on another mission after that, to go up to the Great Rift, and go into it, to attempt to close the connection from this end. The only thing I really remember about that is walking along a tunnel that had all these traps in it.

Well, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta, shortly after that, so that was the last time I played Mizraith. I don't know what went on in the game for the next 6 months. When I moved back from Edmonton after those 6 months, I started playing Thorn. I met them in Hell, and transported back to the prime material plane with them, and adventured with them after that. We were still doing work for the gods... probably still trying to fix the same problem, but I don't think we were doing much better after that.

I think Steve just got burned out on DMing at that point, and I started running Star Wars. heh.

So, yeah... my wife, then my new girlfriend, endured that whole story, and she was STILL my girlfriend afterwards, and still went on to marry me a year later. That's love for you. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh, the times we had.

When Steve and I were still in highschool, we were both members of the Games Club.

Steve started up a couple of D&D games with the members of the club, both of which failed miserably.

I'm uncertain which of these was first, and which was second, but I'll tell them in the following order...

We were playing a group of rogues. Everyone rolled up a character that was at least part thief. I think my character, the leader, was a human dual-classed fighter-thief. So, he was a fighter first, then switched over to being a thief after a couple of levels. The only thing I remember is that we were wandering around the countryside, and we came upon a man driving a wagon. We made up a story about being the militia, searching for... I dunno... fugitives or something... so it gave me the opportunity to check the back of his wagon. He had a bunch of carved figurines and stuff that he was going to sell at market. So, I let him go. The group got all grumbly at me, because they wanted to steal stuff, and even went so far as to accuse me of taking something and not telling them. I explained to them the plan... to intercept the guy on his way back from market, and take his money then, but they I don't think they believed me. Typical.

However, I'm now getting the impression that this was the second campaign. Here's what happened with the first one.

I was playing a human monk. I don't remember all the other characters, but there was definitely a paladin and a cavalier in the group. We were in a town on the edge of a swamp, and we were told by the townsfolk that some of their number had been attacked while they were picking plants in the swamp waters. They thought it was lizard men attacking them, to drive them out. As I led the group into the swamp, I had my own ideas of what it might be, but I had nothing concrete to go on. When we arrived at a lizard man village, I told the group that I wasn't sure that the lizard men were responsible, so they weren't to attack them unless the lizard men attacked first. I even extracted a promise from both the paladin and cavalier... they were to give me their word of honor that they would obey that order. They both agreed.

So, we moved into the village, which was very quiet, and fanned out to check the various buildings. I approached the largest building, as the cavalier and paladin checked out two of the smaller huts. The cavalier went inside one, to find that there were several lizard men asleep. It was in the middle of the day, so I guess they were taking a bit of a siesta. As he looked around, one of the lizard men woke up, got up and reached out towards him.

Apparently, in the cavalier code of conduct, a lizard man reaching out towards him constitutes an attack, so he suddenly drew his sword and cut the lizard man down. It screamed as it died, and woke up the rest of the village. Lizard men poured out of their huts, attacking everyone. The cavalier and paladin began gleefully hacking down lizard men, right and left, as I yelled for everyone to calm down and stop, all the while, using my three-sectional staff to harmlessly ward off the attacks of the lizard men. It quickly became pointless, as everyone else joined in the slaughter (I did NOT), and lizard men were dropping left and right. It came down to one lizard man left, and the paladin grabbed it in a headlock, the player rolling his "bend-bars/lift gates" Strength check to break its neck. He only had about a 25-30% chance of succeeding per try, so I had my monk quickly move through the main building, around behind the paladin, and I planned on hitting him to knock him out before he could kill this last lizard man. See, in that edition, Monks had the chance, on any strike, to knock an opponent unconscious. It wasn't a high chance, but it was there, and I was going to try to take advantage of it.

Just as I got to him, he finally succeeded in his roll, and he broke the lizard man's neck, killing it. Steve asked me if I still hit the Paladin, and I nodded. I rolled my percentile die and rolled 01. I succeeded! I karate chopped the paladin in the back of the neck, and knocked him out.

Immediately, the rest of the players started booing me and saying "Down with the Monk!"

Pissed off at their stupidity, I said "Since the Cavalier and Paladin think that they know what's best, now they're in charge. I quit as leader." That shut everyone up, but we continued on, since there was nothing more to be learned in the lizard man village.

We continued along the path, and all the while, players (other than the cavalier and paladin) were handing me notes, begging and pleading with me, even making promises to give my character all their treasure if I would just come back as leader. I would calmly write "No" on the paper and hand it back, every time, much to the disappointment of the person who wrote it.

We got to a point on the path, and suddenly heard the sound of wings. A huge black dragon landed on the path in front of us, with what appeared to be a human wizard on his back.

(This miniature seems to have been cast directly from this scene!)

The wizard accused us of being murderers, since we killed the lizard men, and so I went forwards to talk with him. I didn't like having to say this, since I thought the group deserved to die for what they did, but my monk was Lawful Good. So, I said that he should let the group go, and that I would see to it that they would be brought to justice, once we made it back to civilization but he did not agree. He said that the justice of civilization wasn't good enough. I told him that I would fight for the group, and attacked him, but the dragon let out a stream of acid, killing my character instantly.

Now, Cavaliers and Paladins are supposed to be honorable. They are not supposed to run from a fight, in fact, they have resistance to fear specifically for this purpose. What was the first thing this cavalier and paladin did?

They ran. Followed by everyone else.

I just sat back and laughed as Steve had the black dragon track every last one of them down and kill them. The cavalier and paladin even tried to climb a tree... although I have no idea what they thought they'd get from that (hey, maybe they were trying to get up to the Dragon's head level, I don't know), but climbing a tree in full plate armor is no easy task, so they failed and fell to the dragon eventually. That's when we just started the "thieves" game, since it seemed obvious that these guys couldn't play a "good" party. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out any better.

Funny edit: Re-reading this, I switch perspectives a lot, from "my monk" or "my character" to "me" and "I". Don't worry, I'm not deranged, it's just that when you're playing a role, you tend to get into it, and play it from the first-person perspective. I think it helps with immersion in the story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fang

There's one rather prominent character in Alron's life that I have neglected to mention so far.

I'm fairly certain that it was after The Final Enemy (mostly because I can't recall Fang being along with us for what we had to do in that adventure). The group was walking by an alley in town and we heard what sounded like someone getting beaten up. Investigating, we found a big guy lying on the ground, with another guy sitting on his chest, and another guy standing nearby. We helped scare off the two men, but when the "victim" on the ground got up, he was huge! A half-ogre!

Instead of thanking us, he got hostile... and he and the barbarian got into a fight at that point. He knocked the half-ogre out, and the guards showed up just then... this is how it went:

Guards (at the end of the alley): "What's going on down there??"
Fang (on the ground): *wakes up* "Grrr!"
Conan (sitting on Fang's chest): *punches Fang in the face, knocking him out again*
Alron: "Quick! Put out the light!"
Half-elf NPC (fighter?): *throws lantern onto the ground, smashing it*
Alron: *forehead smack* "Let's get out of here!"

and we dragged Fang off. When he woke up, he grudgingly explained that they were trying to rob him, and he decided to join our group, since we helped him... I guess. I never could figure out why Fang joined up, other than maybe we didn't attack him or try to take advantage. Ah, the benefits of being "Good". heh.

The name of our new friend... Fang Irontooth.

Here's Fang now, obviously having some in-depth philosophical conversation with Alron about the meaning of life, or somesuch.


(Hmph. I can't find the image for this now... gimme a few ticks...)

Fang accompanied us on all our adventures after that... even Bone Hill. I think he ended up trying to read a book in the Charm room.

When it came time to test for the quest we were supposed to go on, Fang never said what he'd gone through, but he came back with this really cool platemail armor. He went with Alron to the Caves of Chaos to fight the cultists there, and went with him through the portal to escape the demon... but he got separated from Alron.

It wasn't until quite a bit of time after Alron arrived in the future that he met up again with Fang.

The group (this was the roster from two posts ago) was traveling along, when we ran into a large force of orcs, hobgoblins and ogres. We took them on, since they looked fairly organized and with a purpose in mind... and probably not a very good purpose at that... and we defeated them soundly. It was a tough fight, but a resounding victory.

We got into the next town and Alron was walking in the market area when he suddenly got struck in the back by an arrow. Pulling it out, he found a note attached. It said to come outside town, alone. Curious, he went, and was met by some orcs, who were peaceful, at least to him. They had a coach and they said that they were going to take him to their leader. Refusal would mean the destruction of the town.

He went along, and was brought to an immense camp of humanoids... orcs, goblins, hobgoblins... and was taken up to the leader's tent, with two huge ogre guards. Going inside, he found Fang, sitting on a throne, as their leader.

It was an amiable reunion, but it turned out that Fang used the powers of his armor to accumulate this vast army of humanoids. I guess he came out of that other dimension faster than Alron had, so he was around for a few more years before Alron arrived. He was upset at us destroying his forces, even though it was just a small percentage of the whole, since it was a challenge to his authority, and if he didn't do something, he'd lose face with his troops.

He said that he did not want to harm Alron, since Alron was a friend of his, but he wanted the elves and half-elves of the group. If they didn't show up, he would have his forces destroy the town. Alron asked for one thing, that he not kill them. He returned to the others and told them what happened, and they agreed.

Sarek, Zoroaster, and I think my friend Todd was playing an elf at the time, went with Fang's troops, and it was basically an arena fight. All three of them against him. He must have been a 10th or 12th level fighter by this point, with that powerful magical armor he got from the Gods. He kicked their asses and then returned them, alive, as Alron requested.

That, I think, was the last we'd seen of Fang. I don't know what happened to him after that, and we didn't encounter his forces again, either.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Disappointing Finish.

So, continuing on again from last time...

It turns out that the very next session, only session 1 of this transition period, we happened upon several damsels in distress, surrounding a knight that was lying on the ground, apparently wounded. Sarek went up to help the knight, while Zoroaster and Bishop went to "talk" to the girls, and Richard, Milamber and Alron hung back, skeptical about the whole thing. Well, I had Alron look through the back of his mirror-shield, as it sometimes gave some insight on the situation, and I could still see everyone as they were, but sort of 'behind' the damsels was the outline of these giant silhouettes. I was about to shout a warning to everyone after Steve passed me the note, but just then the knight let out a shout and the damsels that were fawning over Zoroaster and Bishop grabbed them and transformed into Giants!

Alron was ready, so he fired two arrows at each giant that had grabbed Zoroaster. Steve ran a system of critical hits, and as both an archer and a ranger, I was getting some pretty good odds of critical hits shooting a bow at giants... first two hits... one critical, one not... but did quite a bit of damage to that one... second two hits, again, one critical, one not... did enough damage with these to kill that one giant. Down it went! Boom!

The knight got up and attacked Sarek, while another Giant still had Bishop and was attacking the other members of the group. Richard and Milamber concentrated on that one.

Next round, I got my turn again... fired two arrows into the giant that still had Zoroaster... another critical! I killed that one too! Boom! My remaining arrows went into the third giant, but it was Richard and Milamber that finished him off.

Then it was the knight... Milamber cast a spell on him... Immolate. It was a custom spell that Steve designed. It sets your skin on fire, and if you don't take a round off of doing other stuff to pat out the fires, it quickly begins to consume you, doing more damage every round until the duration expires or you're dead. It set the knight's flesh on fire, and seemed to kill him, but a moment later he got up again! He was Undead! We wailed on him for a bit until he dropped again, and then his skull rose up and started chasing Sarek around, until we were able to finally destroy it!

So, the kicker to this... keeping in mind that I wasn't able to gain experience points for this session... by Steve's method of generating experience, as a Ranger, I got double experience for killing giant-class creatures... strangely enough, Giants, are giant-classed creatures. Each giant was worth 3000xp. Double for me, and I killed two of them by myself, plus helped with another... I lost over 13,000xp for that one session (for those who've only played 3rd and 4th edition, I was 6th level at the time, dividing that xp between two classes, and I think there was about 30,000xp between levels, so it was significant, but not as much as you might be thinking).

I can't remember for sure, but I think Steve was lenient on me and said that was enough lost xp, and I could start regaining normally after that session, 'cause... Wow.

At this point, the whole "Quest" thing caught up to Alron... I guess the big guy in the sky, Rom, had lost track of him after assigning him that quest oh, so many years ago, and now he found Alron, 500 years in the future, so suddenly this Solar (Elvis-lookin' angel guy) drops down out of the sky....




He says (now imagine this in Elvis' voice for the full effect) "Hey, Alron, the big guy, Rom, wants you to go do this thing for him, uh huh? So, take your bow and shield and go find this paladin on this island, and give them to him... 'cause he needs to go on a quest! Yeah!"

Once Elvis had left the building, Alron finds that he's near a shrine of his own god, Teutares, and goes for a visit... tells them about the whole Rom thing, and they said "What is that shit? Bitch be trippin'! He don't be tellin' our people what to do!" So, I guess Teutares went over to Rom's place, and slapped him around a bit and told him to do his own dirty work. Then the same Solar showed up, looking a little pissed, and took my bow and shield back. Boo.

Oh well, I was an Archer, so I just made one of them snazzy "bows of greater pull", and I was back in business. I kinda missed that shield though. It was functional and fashionable. :)

So yeah, we get back to adventuring, but the only thing I remember at the moment is that I think we stumbled upon some guy who was dying, and he said something about his son being trapped in a tower. Or we just stumbled upon the tower... the dying guy might have been later on. Anyways, so, we found a tower, and couldn't find a way in at the base, so we climbed up to the top and up there was a circular enclosure, with an open door, and inside was an ornate circle in the floor. It was a teleportation circle. I guess there were 5 levels on this thing, maybe more, maybe less, I can't recall, but if you stepped on one of these circles, it teleported you to a random level... or it's possible there was a pattern, but we didn't seem to take the time to figure that out before we started screwing around with the thing. There were all these buttons and levers and such, and the tower could move around, and apparently traverse dimensions. So, this had everyone randomly hitting buttons, maybe making a vague attempt to be organized, but it didn't seem like they were succeeding at much. Alron was on one of the upper levels, and just before he went to step onto a teleportation circle, someone hit a button that turned them all off. He was stuck. The circles looked identical, on or off, so he just sat down in the middle of the circle, hoping that it would transport him the moment it turned on. Well, instead, it shocked him. It came on and Steve had written down in the module that if anyone was in a circle when they were powered up, they'd take damage... and not a small amount, either. Ouch.

But, the cirlcles were working, so Alron gets down onto the bottom level by using that circle, and this was after we have traversed dimensions to a different world I should add, and he finds a way out at the base. A secret door. Going outside, he found himself in a lush forest... and the door closed behind him. Crap. He couldn't open it again. Double crap. Okay, well, our rope was still there, so he climbed up the side of the tower... and when he arrived at the top, he found that he had three giant leeches stuck to his back... each of them doing 1d4 damage per round of bloodsucking. Damn! He was already low on hit points. I didn't have him go straight for the teleport circle because I didn't know if it would get me to anyone in time, so I had him turn around and slam his back into the wall, in the hopes of crushing the things, but it didn't seem to have any effect. He took more damage, and then got out a torch, lighting it up, and stabbing one with it... it fell off of him, only to fall onto his leg and keep sucking... shit... he was boned... he started to run for the teleportation circle, but that was it, and he was at zero hit points. He fell over and the leeches proceeded to feast upon his blood... Alron was dead. The group found him... who knows how long later, with three bloated leeches around him.

That was it. All the adventures he'd gone through, all the hell he'd endured and survived, and THAT'S how he ended... by three fucking leeches. I'm still bitter about that. No, he couldn't go down fighting a horde of orcs, or a dragon, or something heroic... he basically died for nothing. Wonderful.

We had a druid character in the group (technically a cleric of Teutares, which Steve had written up as similar to, but significantly different from, the druid, but it's just easier to say druid), and he left the group right after that, so he took Alron's body with him, for a proper burial right by that religion. Steve told me later that Alron could come back to the group, if the group was in the right area... basically Alron's soul was now invested into a coniferous tree, which is what happens to the faithful followers of Teutares, so that they will never die. His enemies become deciduous trees (that have to die every winter, only to live again and go through a horrible cycle of life and death every year), or ground-plants, that are trampled upon by people and the creatures of the wild. So, with his soul invested in this tree, if the group was in the right place, he could re-form into a human again, and I could play him again.

Sadly, this never came to pass.

Incidentally, I had the opportunity to remake Alron in the latest edition of D&D, but at the last moment, I decided not to. He deserves a nice retirement, so I left him there. heh.

The Torture Continues...

To continue,

Alron was now 500 years into the future. He still had his really nice magical bow, and his funky floating mirror-shield. And now, rather than it just being me playing his whole group, I actually had a group of other characters to play with! Steve has ruined solo adventures for me. I never want to do that again. :)

So, when he first dropped into the future, he ended up in a tree, and saw a bunch of guys ride past, with a prisoner over one of their horses. He dropped down and followed, curious what was going on. He came upon what appeared to be a bandit camp. A bunch of ruffians, who weren't treating their prisoner very well... and the leader having taken the prisoner's sword and was flashing it in the sun and waving it around like an arrogant prick.

So, Alron put two arrows into him (which I think killed him outright), then changed location. When the others moved in the direction where Alron was, I put four more arrows into two different guys (I found out at this point that the special magic bow was giving me four attacks per round, instead of the normal two), taking them down as well, and I continued with this process of him shooting and moving, until he'd whittled it down to just one guy, whom he'd shot in the leg to keep him from running away.

Moving in, I released the captive, who turned out to be Richard, and I joined up with the group after that. Okay, that was a bit of a backtrack from the last post, but I thought that was pretty funny at the time, so I thought I'd relate the story. :)

I should introduce everyone.

Sarek, the half-elf fighter/cleric, played by Mike
Zoroaster, the half-elf fighter/magicuser, played by Joe
Milamber, the human magicuser, played by Francis
Richard, the human ranger, played by Jonathan
Bishop, the human thief, played by Wayne.
the human "druid", played by Terry... I don't remember the character's name.
the gnome or halfling jester, played by Jennifer, Francis' girlfriend. Don't remember this one's name either.

So, continuing on for real now, after finishing the adventure with the haunted house... I don't recall much more about it, other than an evil spirit that was already possessing Richard caused him to attack Alron while we were exploring the house, and the magical sword that Amanda gave him way back got broken by him touching a strange glowing circle in the ceiling of one room, which turned the sword's blade to crystal, and the sword got shattered on the next attack he made... and then he and Richard (as two "men of good") were the ones that went back into that bubble room to grab ahold of the tattered remains of the bubble and pull them together again to reform it.

After that... as I was saying... we continued to travel, and went through a bunch of weird adventures. We encountered this blob of rainbow light that enveloped Alron and talked to him. Francis' girlfriend decided to screw around at this point, and was using her Ventriloquism spell to "make it talk to me", while it was actually talking to me... so, I alternately got notes from Steve about what it was saying that were silly/stupid, and notes that were more serious, with no indication of what was really going on there. It was a little bothersome, since hey, this thing could have been consuming Alron's soul and here's the jester sending magical messages saying "Hi! I'm Globby the Glob! Tee hee!" I mean, we're all for fun and such during the game, but come on. Well, anyways, it turns out this thing was benevolent, and granted Alron a gift. It would benefit him in a time of great need. That really wasn't explained to him at all. The only outward difference in him is that his normally grey eyes now changed color randomly, like the thing did.

We continued on, and Richard brought us to the place his father used to live, or own, or whatever... basically an outpost in the forest. Richard was supposed to inherit it, so we were checking it out. We were staying in one big room, and while Alron was on watch (we thought something was going on here), it sounded like someone was trying to pick the lock. So, Alron whipped the door open, surprising two men who were fiddling with the lock, and he grabbed one and pulled him in the room. The other ran. We questioned the man, who said that he was just "checking the lock" (Pft. Yeah, right.), and then the other guy came back, with the "authorities". They took Alron in for questioning, and possibly Richard (I vaguely remember that), but unbeknownst to me, the thieves in the group followed us (even when we told them to stay put), and Francis' magicuser turned invisible and followed as well. So, while Alron is being questioned, the men leave him alone in the room, and the two thieves pop in to talk to him... and are promptly caught by the guys when they come back to talk to Alron more. Lovely. And I found out afterwards that Francis' magicuser discovered that there was some evil conspiracy going on, and decided to kill the conspirators... which Alron got blamed for, because he was the only one there at the time (Milamber was invisible).

As a sidebar, up to this point, Alron was of Chaotic Good alignment. It's the "Do whatever you want, as long as what you do doesn't hurt you or anyone else" philosophy. After this, though, he changed to Neutral Good, which is more of the "Yeah, that Chaotic Good idea is alright, but there has to be SOME rules, otherwise things just devolve into complete chaos, and that's not good" idea. The whole fiasco bothered him so much that he decided there had to be a change.

So, Alron was brought before the magistrate, and because he had the magical aura from "Globby" inside him, they figured he was the one that killed the people there, and so they were sending him to the south to go on trial for it. I finally convinced Francis to come clean about it, since he was all "Well, if they're actually going to put you to death for it, I'll come forwards then..." Wow, thanks, friend! You're awesome. =P

Anyways, Alron agreed to accompany him to the south when he went on trial, but we actually never made it. We got attacked by berserkers about halfway there, and I had to use up that "Globby" help when they pushed the coach we were in over the nearby sea-cliff. Basically, it kept me at 1 hit point, when I would have been dead.

So, we worked our way back to the others, since all the guards and such were dead, and we had no idea where they were taking us... and we continued on.

Now, my memory is a little fuzzy on this, but maybe I waited until now to actually change Alron's alignment... because the rule at the time was that if you change you alignment, no matter the reason, you lose 1 level, and I remember that Steve thought that was rather unfair, so instead he said "I'll roll a d6, and that's how many game sessions you can't gain experience points for." I agreed, and I think it came up as a three. So, for three sessions after this, I couldn't gain any more experience. After that, I would be fully Neutral Good, and I could gain experience normally. It was kind of a "transition period".

Now, if you think that this was going to be an easy transition, well, I'll recommend you to be calling up Vince for the ShamWow or the Slapchop, 'cause you know the Germans make good stuff, and you'll love his nuts. ;)

More in the next post...


Oh, if I were to play Alron now, I think I'd probably use this miniature, or something similar. He's supposed to have black hair and a 'salt&pepper' beard and grey eyes... unlike the mini in the previous post, who has blond hair.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Seventh Circle of Hell!

Thinking back at what Alron has been through, the title of this post seems rather appropriate.

It was fixed a long time ago, but for most of the time, the tip of Alron's nose was gone. The miniature has a very small base, and thus any nudge of the table would send him toppling over (you'd think he'd avoid that more with an 18 Dexterity! heh). One time he tipped over, the paint on the tip of his nose flaked off, and he stayed that way for a long time.

Alright, so, now on to what he's been through...

- Captured by evil cultists and tortured by one of their orcs.
- Contracted Lycanthropy from some wereboars that attacked him.
- Spent weeks trying to get back home after who knows how long running around as a wearboar.
- Captured by elves for trespassing on their lands, who were then going to put him to death for being a lycanthrope (he admitted it, and wanted help from them, but they were going to kill him instead. Oh, so very nice).
- Escaped with a band of werewolves, then had to escape from them (they're EVIL!).
- Captured by ogre CHILDREN, then dragged back to their lair when Mom showed up. Escaped, taking several other prisoners with me, but lost them when he changed into a wereboar that night. Never found out what happened to them. I hope Steve didn't have Alron kill them.
- somewhere in there, got captured by orcs, that tied him up to a post to bake in the sun for days, demeaning him the whole while, and then put him to work in their mines for what seemed like weeks, or longer. He eventually was rescued by a force of elves that decimated the orcs.
- after helping him to get back to full health, they asked him to help them recover prisoners from a large humanoid army. He took on the job, and didn't do a very good job of it at all, but it turned out that he was mostly just a distraction anyways, to divert attention away from the main elven force that was descending upon the army. Didn't feel really great about that one. Although he did meet a beautiful human Paladin named Amanda, that was working with the elves. I'm not sure who Steve had in mind when he described her... black hair and green eyes. I wonder if it was one of the heavy-metal babes he was listening to at the time. Lee Aaron, maybe? Hmm... nah, she has brown hair and brown eyes. Oh well. She gave Alron a magic sword in return for his help.
- He made it back to where he first turned into a wereboar and found that all his stuff was gone, except for his magical plate armor, which probably too heavy to lift for whatever lucky local happened upon his equipment.
- Finally got back to Saltmarsh, and met up with the group again. Was attacked shortly after by cultists, and was blinded by a spell. Actually, I'm unsure of the chronology of this one... this might have happened before the lycanthropy thing. Well, had priests remove the blindness and the lycanthropy. That was finally over.
- Next, was tested by the gods, having to fight a Drider archer, then a drow with a funky floating mirror-shield, both of whom he bested, and got a nifty magic bow, with a bunch of special arrows (like fireball, and lightning bolt, and stinking cloud... it was very Green Arrow), and got to keep that funky floating mirror-shield. All of this in preparation for a big quest. I don't think we ever found out exactly what the full quest was... might have been something about the big army of humanoids he helped the elves with... some "evil from up north" or something like that.
- Started on the quest, we needed to return to the cultist lair in the Caves of Chaos to deal with them. Jumped through a portal to escape a massive demon the lead cultist summoned, Alron got trapped on some alternate plane (where he unfortunately lost all his special arrows), and when he escaped, by finally finding an exit portal by looking through the back side of that mirror-shield, he ended up around 500 years into the future. (This was planned, as a way to get him into Steve's university campaign)

Things calmed down a bit then. Alron saved a fellow Ranger, named Richard, from some ruffians, and hooked up with Richard's group. I'm fairly certain that this group had already been playing 2nd edition AD&D. Alron was a 1st edition Ranger. I converted him to 2nd edition, but thinking back, I should have asked Steve to just keep him as a 1st edition ranger. It would have made sense, as an evolution of the class over 500 years, that he and Richard would go about things differently. Would have made them each a bit more unique in the group.

Oh, I'll tell you a story about a particularly good experience. The group was contracted by someone... can't remember who... to go into this Paladin's house and retrieve the Paladin's Holy Avenger. I assume it was for a good reason, since I can't remember specifically who was sending us. We had to beware, though, since along with the Paladin's sword, there was an "Unholy Avenger" there too... an Anti-Paladin's sword. They were identical, so we had to take the right one. We agreed and proceeded into the house. It was a fairly straight forwards dungeon crawl... I don't even remember what kind of enemies we had to deal with... there might have been a beholder, but I might be thinking of something else. I'm not sure.

The real "fun" started when we entered this L shaped room. At the bottom right corner of the L there was a strange bubble protruding from the wall. It was very curious. Before any of us could slap a hand over her mouth, Francis' girlfriend piped up with "I burst the bubble!". She was playing a... gnome jester... halfling equally-useless-character... I don't know at that point... but regardless, she whipped out a dagger and stabbed the bubble. A sudden wind blew us all back, and then just as suddenly reversed and started sucking inwards, into a black void beyond the wall. We managed to secure everyone so that noone would go tumbling off into the void, when this giant demonic hand came reaching through the hole in the wall, and it grabbed several of the party, who were currently trying to work their way up a rope towards the anchor crew, so we could get out of there. Alron was one of the fortunate ones to have been flung back against the wall opposite the bubble, so he was far enough away to have avoided getting grabbed.

He secured himself with a rope, and then rushed up to the hand, pulling out his sword to attack it, hacking at the fingers and then wrist, trying to get it to release the others. As he continued to wrack up damage on the hand, those grabbed were able to start escaping, one at a time, so he kept hacking at it. At one point, a fire began to crawl up the creature's arm, towards the hand, threatening to burn those inside the hand if it reached them, but Alron's sword, at that time, was a +3 Frost Brand Longsword, a sword that was capable of generating intense cold, and could extinguish fires if thrust into them. So, just before the fire reached his friends, he thrust the sword into the fire and it went out! Yay!

The celebration died on everyone's lips as the second last person escaped, and it was only our half-elf cleric, Sarek (yeah, I mentioned before about "original") who was stuck in the hand's grip. One more strike by me would sever the hand and save him, but I didn't do enough damage and the hand pulled him through the hole. As the hand withdrew, Sarek tumbled through the void, and Alron took out his bow, quickly tying a rope to one of his arrows and firing it at Sarek, aiming it for just between his body and his arm, so he could grab the rope. I rolled a 20! Then the celebration started up! Sarek grabbed ahold of the rope and we pulled him back in, getting everyone away from the hole and then out of the room.

Whew.

Of course, the whole house was messed up at this point. Bursting the bubble made the whole place possessed, with funky stuff happening all over the place. Richard and Alron had to join up to close the bubble to fix the place again.

This is getting long now, so I'll continue again next time...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Worst...

Okay... the worst adventure...

Now, I'll preface this with something:
I've worked with the author of this adventure module, Lenard Lakofka. He's a really great guy, and it was a pleasure to work with him. He even put Caroline and I into his latest module because I did a LOT of work for him to transcribe an old magazine article he'd written about creating magic items, for which he only had fuzzy pictures of the pages. I bear no ill will towards Mr. Lakofka, and what follows is simply what a bunch of 15 year olds thought at the time, and I know now that our problems with the module were our own fault. :)

That said, Steve had bought this new adventure module and he wanted to play though it as soon as possible. He and Francis and I planned the whole thing out. We'd go over to Steve's on Saturday night, and we'd just play all night, getting through the whole adventure, no matter how long it took. We figured we'd be up until 6am playing, but that was cool with us. We'd order pizza, and drink pop and completely over-sugar ourselves in the processes, but we'd do it.

So, Francis and I show up, and Steve shows us the module...




"Cool! The last module with 'Secret' in the title was awesome!" I'm sure we thought at the time. Hoo Hooooo... wow... okay, I won't spoil anything yet.

So, we sat down, and started to play. There's a bunch of stuff in the town of Restenford in the module, but we went directly for the tower on Bone Hill, looking to get right into the action. We found the entrance to the dungeon under the tower and started exploring.

My memory of the module isn't perfect, but here's what I recall...

We found one room that had a statue of a winged woman, poised with a sword lifted above her head, set to strike. It had a helmet on that wasn't part of the statue, so Francis had Merlin go up and try to take the helmet. When he touched it, the statue struck him with the sword! He figured that he'd set off the trap, so he tried it again, and again, the statue struck him! Damn! Alron had a lot more hit points, so he went up to try. He reached out, took the helmet off the statue, with no attack! Cool! I rocked! ;D

The helmet gave Alron the ability of True Sight, I believe. I'm not sure if Steve gave him the full ability of it, or just something lesser. It was still cool, either way.

There was another room with a mirror, and if your reflection was cast by it, you were drawn into it, where you had to fight yourself. A Mirror of Opposition! I think Merlin had to fight himself... or maybe it was Chuck. I remember the rest of us wondering if we could go in and help him, but figured we'd probably just have to end up facing ourselves, alone, so we didn't try. Whoever went in obviously won (or maybe the Mirror version took his place! *gasp*), and we moved on.

Next we found this Beholder-looking thing, called a Spectator. It's a spherical creature, with four eye-stalks on the top, a large central eye in front, and a toothy maw underneath. It told us it was guarding a book, that was behind it. There was a bunch of other treasure lying there, and it told us we could have it, as long as we didn't touch the book. If we tried to take the book, it would have to attack us. Not knowing what it could do to us, we decided to leave the book be, and took the other stuff.

Then we hit the room that caused the problem. We opened a door and looked in, to find what looked to be a study. There was a bookshelf, a desk with a chair, and a skeleton chained to the back wall. Curious, we entered, and everyone that stepped across the threshold had to roll a saving throw. For those not-in-the-know, a saving throw is a twenty-sided die roll, and you had to roll high... higher than a specific number laid out by your class and level... this particular one was likely versus Spells. Anyone who failed was charmed. They would walk into the room, pick up a book and sit down to read, or sit at the desk and write something, or lie down and go to sleep. They would show no desire to leave, and would fight to stay in the room.

The only three characters that made their saving throw were Aubry, Merlin, and Chuck. We tried to get people out of the room, and found out first hand about the "would fight" part. The skeleton was animated... it had eyeballs and a tongue, but it couldn't actually talk to us... it could just roll its eyes and move its mouth as if it was trying to talk... which made it very difficult. We got it down to a "yes or no answer" situation and got what little information out of it that we could... it pointed to the fact that there was a wizard in this tower, and maybe we could get him to cast the necessary spell to break the charm.

So, our three characters headed out, finding the staircase up into the tower, and found a room with some bugbears in it. We expected a fight, but they just asked us what we wanted. We mentioned the wizard, and they pointed up. Shrugging, we proceeded up.

I never asked Steve at the time, but I think he was probably just being lenient with us. A bard, a monk and a magicuser probably wouldn't have done very well against the bugbears in the room.

Reaching the top of the tower, we found the wizard's laboratory. He was less cooperative than his subordinates downstairs, and we had a fight on our hands. We tipped over some tables as cover against his spells, and you know, to be honest, I have no idea how we beat him. It was probably a combination of Merlin's spells and Chuck kicking the crap outa him. Bards could fight pretty well, but I don't remember having a big role in his defeat.

The thing is... we killed him... a little short-sighted on our part, since we needed him to cast the spell. Oops.

Oh well, we had Merlin with us, so we looked through his spellbook... he had Dispel Magic in the book, which was good, but here's the kicker... and the problem with the module...

- The module is written for characters level 2-4

- Dispel Magic is a third level spell.

- In order to cast a third level spell, your magicuser has to be 5th level.

Merlin was 4th level, and was not even close to 5th level.

So, everyone who'd been charmed was now stuck in that room, permanently. Oops.

After all of that, we'd had enough. I think it was only around midnight or 1am. We were frustrated, angry, and we'd just wasted what we thought was going to be a very cool night of gaming. Steve just told us that it was all a dream. We all woke up on an empty hilltop, with all the stuff we'd gotten in the adventure, and then we went to sleep.

After that, Steve didn't buy adventure modules anymore. He made up all the adventures himself.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Best...

I don't remember much more about my gaming experiences in gradeschool. I know we played a few other games... Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Palladium Fantasy (then, just known as "Palladium", since the company hadn't produced any other games at the time), Champions... I think there was one called Thieves' Guild too... a little independently produced game.

Star Frontiers was fun, but it was more realistic scifi, as opposed to more fantastical stuff. You had to obey the laws of physics and all that. pft. heh.

Gamma World was post-apocalyptic, where you had mutants with crazy powers, intelligent mutated animals and plants, robots and lasers and destroyed, radiated city ruins. I didn't play that one much, but I still have my plans to run a big game of it someday. It's just a fun concept.

Palladium, I really liked. It took D&D a couple of steps further, giving you many more races to play (like orcs, and goblins, and trolls, and kobolds), and lots of skills for your characters. One annoying part was that the writer seemed to have a bone to pick with D&D, and pointed out how his game was far superior at every opportunity he could get. The adversarial nature of the writing got a little tiresome. Overall, not a bad game, though.

Champions was fun, since you got to create a superhero character in fine detail, and they had the rules to do pretty much whatever you wanted to do. I once created a character that was a telepathic brain in a metal sphere, and the rules were there to let me do that (Disadvantage: Physical Limitation - No body, 20pts). The problem with it is that it took FOREVER to play out combat.


However, on to the actual topic of today's post... I moved on to highschool. I went from the top tier of my old school to the bottom tier of the new one. A humbling experience, and I wonder if they do that on purpose. Along with this, I met new people, which included two brothers that were in my homeroom, Francis and Mike Steel. We called Francis "Frank" at the time, but it's so foreign a thing to me now, that I can't call him that now, even reminiscing back. :)

Both of them were in The Squires with me, which is the junior "branch" of the Knights of Columbus (my dad is still a member of the KofC), and I found out that Francis also played D&D. His DM was his best friend, Steve Nemec. So, Francis introduced me, and I arranged to join in a game with them. Another guy in the Squires, Jeff, joined the group, and another friend of Steve and Francis (I think they knew him from gradeschool), Bing.

I played Alron (reincarnated), a ranger. Francis played Merlin, a wizard. Jeff played Conan, a barbarian. Bing played... a thief, I think. I honestly can't remember. Bing spent most of the first session with his shirt collar pulled up over his head, and his head down on the table, sleeping. I don't think he played much past the first session, if at all. Jeff lasted longer. We also had some secondary characters. I played an elven bard named Aubrey, and Francis played a monk named Chuck Norris (damn, we were ORIGINAL back then, weren't we??).

As our first adventure, Steve proceeded to take us through. . .



It was a fun module. It's a fairly simple one, but generally considered to be of the highest quality by those that play the game (here's a review). We had a great time, and it was a very fun start to a very cool campaign for Steve. He had even created his own world, with a huge map of all the terrain and political divisions, his own gods, and he used a lot of his own monsters (sometimes coming up with them on the fly, it seemed). We continued on with Danger At Dunwater, and The Final Enemy, which are the sequels to Saltmarsh, then went through The Caves of Chaos, from the original Keep on the Borderlands adventure module.

Those all went along rather swimmingly... okay, well, the delve into the Caves of Chaos took a disastrous turn when I got overconfident. Francis wasn't available to play, so Steve and I continued on for a session, which had me trying to shoot down an evil cultist with an arrow... that only did a few points damage, and he had a lot more hit points than that. That quickly devolved into a really bad combat that had us all knocked unconscious. We found ourselves chained to the walls of a large cell, with the evil cultist high priest going from character to character asking why we were here and why we had attacked them. I spouted off more overconfident BS and really didn't help our position at all... so he had us tortured, one by one, starting with my loudmouthed Ranger. Ooo, FUN! I learned to keep my mouth shut after that. heh.

Yes, we escaped from there. I don't recall how, honestly. Maybe Steve remembers.

These were definitely the best adventures, though. Next post, I'll tell you all about the worst adventure we played through!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Building Character...

I've talked a bit about Alron, I figure I should go into why he's my favorite character. This is the second iteration of Alron, I mean. The first iteration was pretty good, but I don't remember enough about him to really go into it.

Partly, it's mechanics. Partly, it's what he'd gone through and survived.

By mechanics, I'm talking about his stats and what his class can do. When I rolled the character up, I used the old method, which is to use 3 six-sided dice, roll them, and add up the three to get a total between 3 and 18. That was your value for that particular stat. Starting sometime after that, people started using 4 six-sided dice, discarding the lowest die, and adding up the three remaining. This gives a slightly better chance at getting higher rolls. However, I used the old school method. Steve handed me a six-sided die and I proceeded to roll it three times for each stat.

First roll was for Strength... 6! 6! 6!! A total of 18 on the first roll!!! Wow! Steve and I were boggling at that. Holy Crap!!

Second roll, Intelligence... 6... 5... 4... damn! 15! That's really good!

Third roll, Wisdom... 5... 5... 4. 14! Impressive!

Fourth roll, Dexterity... 6... 5... 5... WOW! 16! He's really beating the odds here!

Fifth roll, Constitution... 6... 6... 5... What the hell?! How was I doing this?! 17 Constitution!

Sixth, and last, roll, Charisma... 6!... 3... 3... okay, 12, that's not bad... but I got greedy at this point, I recall... Alron was supposed to be the leader of the group, so I wanted a higher Charisma for him. I asked Steve if I could re-roll and he agreed, but I would have to keep the second roll, no matter what the value turned out to be.

Reroll... 6!... 2... 1... ah, damn! Burned! I got a 9 total. I should have stuck with the 12! Crap! Oh well. I figured it out in my head that he's more the "common sense" kind of leader. He's not the inspiring type.

Now, Steve had said that he was going to give each character an 18 in their primary stat at the start of the game, so that we were special, but Alron already had 18 in his Strength, by the roll, so since I was going to make him an Archer/Ranger, he gave me the 18 in Dexterity instead.

Also, in 1st edition AD&D, there was something called Exceptional Strength. It was only for Fighter characters (Paladins and Rangers included), and it was a "percentile die" roll... roll 2 ten-sided dice, designating one as the 10's, and one as the 1's. My roll... 76. Not bad at all.

So, his stats became:

Strength 18/76
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Dexterity 18
Constitution 17
Charisma 9

That's pretty damn good for rolling 3d6. I don't think I've ever rolled up as good a character, even using more "modern" die-rolling methods.

Each of these stats gave particular bonuses.

- 18/76 Strength gave me +2 on his attack rolls, and +4 on his damage rolls for melee attacks.
- 15 intelligence gave me a couple of more languages, but Steve didn't start us off with any, so they were just ones that he could learn later. He learned Elvish, eventually.
- 14 Wisdom actually didn't give him anything. The bonuses started at 15.
- 18 Dexterity gave him a +3 reaction bonus against being surprised, a +3 to hit with his ranged attacks, and -4 to his armor class*
- 17 Constitution gave him +3 hit points per level, and excellent chances to survive system shocks and resurrection.
- 9 Charisma... gave him nothing. He could have a maximum of 4 henchmen. That's it.

*These days, armor class goes up, and after adding all your bonuses to your d20 attack roll, you just have to roll equal to, or greater than, your opponent's armor class in order to hit them. In those days, armor class went down. The better your armor, the lower your armor class. I dunno why they did it that way; there were tables that dealt with the statistics. So, a -4 to AC then is equivalent to a +4 AC bonus now. Pretty damned good.

Now, this "Archer"/Ranger is a bit different than the standard rules. The Archer was a class written up for Dragon Magazine, and it was supposed to be for Non-Player Characters only, but Steve thought it was pretty cool, so he let me play it. It gave Alron bonuses to hit and damage with a bow, based on his level and the range at which my target was at. It also let him make his own bows and arrows, including what the article called "a bow with greater pull". This would allow him to use his strength bonuses with the bow, in addition to any other bonuses he had. Basically, it made him very good with a bow.

His basic Ranger class gave him bonuses to damage against "Giant-class" creatures, +1 bonus per level. "Giant-class" creatures include orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, gnolls, ogres, trolls, and giants. He was 6th level when I stopped playing him. So, any attack against one of these creatures dealt 6 extra hit points damage. That was devastating in some cases.

Steve still has the drawing of Alron that a friend had done for me, and even though I'd found the miniature we used for him on ebay a couple of years ago, I can't find it. I can't even find a picture online of it. Boo.

This miniature, a plastic one for the new edition D&D game, seems to have been sculpted as an homage to the one I'm looking for though, so I'll leave you with that one... for now...


Next post, I'll tell you what he went through...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Game-ography

(Updated as of June 1, 2012)


Player:
1. Captain Korinn Snowshard (2011-12) - 15th level Dragonborn Bard/Warlord/Ardent (4e)
2. Thomas Nathan Tremblay (2010-11) - Undead Union Army Sharpshooter (Deadlands)
3. Randall Forrester (2008-10) - 10th level Human Ranger (4e)
4. Aurik (2008-09) - 9th level Tiefling Wizard (4e)
5. Serellian Leaflord (2008-09) - 5th level Elf Paladin (4e)
6. Rokan Ironfist (2008) - 2nd level Dwarf Fighter (4e)
7. Geldan Kamarov (2007-08) - 13th level Human Fighter (3.5e)
8. Zorenthiel Moonshadow (2007-08) - 3rd/4th/2nd level Elf Cleric/Sorcerer/Mystic Theurge (3.5e)
9. Shandara (2005-2007) - 6th/5th level Halfelf Cleric/MagicUser (1e)
10. Warren Livingstone (2005-07) - 12th level Human Paladin (1e)
11. Eginhard Dunstill (2004-2005) - 4th level Human Cleric (3.5e)
12. Glyce (2003) - 5th level Githyanki Fighter/Psychic Warrior (3.5e)
13. Laarde Torosken (2002) - 3rd level Wroonian Smuggler/Jedi (SW)
14. Adrianna Whitestar (1999) - 6th level Human Paladin (2e)
15. Thorn Greenwood (1993-1994) - 6th level Human "Cleric of Teutares" (2e)
16. Mizraith Den'duarn (1992-1993) - 8th level Dark Elf Magic User (2e)
17. Rainara Goldenbow (1991-92) - 5th/5th level Wood Elf Ranger/Magic User (2e)
18. Alron of Haven (1984-1991) - 6th/6th level Human Archer/Ranger (1e/2e)
19. Githrandel Tiele (1991) - 4th level Human Illusionist (1e)
20. Geldan (1981-83) - 16th level Human Fighter (1e)
21. Alron (1981-83) - 14th level Human Ranger (1e)
22. Clarissa (1981) - 5th level Grey Elf Cavalier (1e)
23. Ballinger (1980) - 4th level Human Fighter (1e)
24. Unnamed Centaur - 1st level Centaur Fighter (Basic)
25. Brandon the Fourth (1979) - 1st level Human Fighter (Basic)

GameMaster:
1. D&D Encounters, Season 7: Beyond the Crystal Cave (2011-12)
2. D&D Encounters, Season 6: Lost Crown of Neverwinter (2011)
3. D&D Encounters, Season 5: Dark Legacy of Evard (2011)
4. 4e D&D Gamma World campaign (2010-11)
5. 4e D&D homebrew campaign (2009-10)
6. 3.5e D&D Dragonlance War of the Lance campaign (2002-2005)
7. Star Wars Roleplaying Game campaign (1994-2002)

Oh, these aren't all the characters I've played, or the games I've run. There were a lot of generic characters, and a lot of generic adventures that I played in grade school that I'm just not going to remember. Mostly ones that I played in the killer-DM games. I do remember rolling up two "Samurai", which were just human fighters (I think in Basic D&D, but might have been Advanced). I made them brothers, and their names were fairly similar. Having studied some Japanese, I'd probably be embarrassed by the names I gave them, if I could remember. I just get the impression that they were pretty hokey.

There were lots of Champions characters, none of which I can really remember, and a Top Secret character I nicknamed "The Sandman". That was a game that Craig ran. The Sandman's "thing" was using a tranquiler gun instead of one with bullets. A tranquiler gun was cheaper than a regular one, and he didn't have much money. Still, he rescued the President. Not bad. heh.

My top three:

- Alron. He's my longest running character, and he'd gone through the most fun adventures. There have been two versions. One long ago, in grade school with Danny DMing. I've forgotten most of the details of his adventures, but I do remember him owning a lot of Lord of the Rings magic items... Glamdring and one of the rings of power (Aragorn's?). The other is more recent, played with Steve as DM, and although I've forgotten much of the details, but I can still remember quite a bit. I'll be making an effort to post the majority of what I can remember in subsequent posts.

- Adrianna. She was a pretty cool character. The DM running that game commented that it was the best paladin he'd ever seen played. Nice. A couple of examples: We were down in Undermountain, the huge dungeon underneath the city of Waterdeep, and the guys we were going up against had a pet Rust Monster. If you don't know what one of these things is, it's a creature that can reduce ferrous metals to rust in moments (and it eats the rust). Paladins are typically head to toe in metal, and Adrianna was no exception. Still, when confronted by the rust monster, everyone else was cowering, and I figured this thing would just chase us down, so I had Adrianna charge it and try to take it down. She had a crystal sword, so that would survive, but her armor was gone a couple of rounds into the fight. The group thought that was awesome, and gave me the next suit of magical armor, even though it wasn't my turn to pick a magical item.

Another one, actually the quintessential act... we were trying to find out why women were being attacked and killed on the streets of Waterdeep at night. Adrianna even witnessed one poor woman being killed, as a cloaked figure with a knife slit her throat and then lept up onto the building next door, escaping. Doing some research, we found out that the knife apparently took over its wielder, forcing them to do the evil acts. In order to stop the knife, it either had to be wielded by someone pure of heart, or it had to be wielded into the heart of someone pure... the translation of the document we read wasn't really clear on that point.
We lost track of this frustrating killer until we were at a party, acting as bodyguards to one of the city lords. The killer showed up with a bunch of mercenaries, whom we took care of, and when the killer's plan was thwarted, he ran, and Adrianna gave chase. She caught him in a hallway, and attacked, only to find out that the cloaked figure was just an illusion... the knife was actually wielding itself! She dropped her sword and grabbed the knife out of mid-air, causing the illusion to vanish. She attempted to wield it, but it was struggling against her control, so the true way of stopping it was revealed. She turned the knife around and attempted to plunge it into her own heart, but it resisted that too. It took a supreme act of will to overcome its control and stab herself with it, but she did it. She died, but the knife was stopped. She sacrificed herself for the good of the city and was rewarded by her god. A sad day for the group. They'd grown fond of that character, but I was moving out of the city, so it was a good end for her. Well, at least it offered some heroic closure.

- Laarde. Rescue ship pilot for S.A.R.C.. Former swoopbike gang  member and fledgling Jedi Knight. I didn't get to play him as much as I wanted to... the gamesmaster, Russ, decided to "reprioritize" his gaming, and dropped that game. Too bad too, it was fun. I had some good adventures, and some good plans for the future for the character. I'll tell you more about him later.