Update incoming soon. I promise. Within the week at least.
Okay. I lied. But I knew there was a strong possibility of that. I never got the D&D character bios up, and I didn’t put up a “our adventures so far” sort of thing like I said. I also didn’t get to work on Altered Realities at all. BUT! There’s a good reason for all of that. It’s been a very busy Summer, and it’s been a short one as well. The wife didn’t finish actually working until two weeks into June, and she starts work again next week, the second week of August. This is because she actually got a full-time classroom of her very own! So good things are happening! We might actually have some spare money to pick up more gaming stuff in the near future, and that has me excited. In other news one of my other players also found work, so his attendance will become somewhat sporadic as well, but we got a new car so picking up the other player(s) won’t be as a big of an issue now.
Due to all of this I have decided that after tonight’s game to suspend the D&D campaign possibly until next summer. The reasons for this are as follows – D&D, at least the way I run it, needs a decent amount of play time. We need time for exploration, role-playing, and especially for encounters as I do not make things easy for the players. Things are on sort of a set schedule and I like to get through a specific amount of “content” each session. This can only happen if we have a decent amount of time to play – around 7-8 hours.
Well since the player who was providing rides may be sporadic in attendance and my wife is starting work again soon, which means we can’t go as late on our games due to them being on Sundays – it creates a perfect storm of making my D&D games untenable. Here’s why – on the days that our ride-providing player misses we will have to pick the other player(s) up and take him/them home. This takes a total of about an hour out of our game time due to us living outside of town. So we don’t get back until around 2 with our player(s), and we will have until 7 or 7:30 if we push it before we have to take them back so that we can eat dinner, unwind and for the wife to get enough sleep for work the next day. That’s 5 to 5 and half hours. Not enough time for the way I run my D&D games.
And that’s fine. I was getting a little burned out on D&D anyway. So starting next week I will go back to running Star Wars which has no such time restraints and the way I run it allows the players to proceed at their own pace rather than the pace I need it to run at to get through a specified amount of “content”. The reason is that I tend to run it more free-form and sand-box based. D&D needs to be planned out (encounters with stats ready to go, treasures rolled up, traps placed, dungeons drawn up etc etc), and honestly Star Wars doesn’t. That’s the biggest difference.
I will sometime within the next two weeks post a “our adventure so far” in the D&D section, with the bios I originally promised, all for posterity. It will be a record of things so that I can come back to it and check it before we start up the D&D campaign again and so I can use it to remind the players of what happened last and what was going on currently.
So next week will be a fun change of pace as I can free-form run Star Wars with no pre-set plan and just have fun. Once the D&D bios and such are up I will attempt to find time to get Star Wars bios up and maybe post a brief synopsis of our Star Wars game as it happens from time to time. So it is that we go back to a galaxy far far away…
Oh and an astute reader will note the inclusion of potentially multiple players that we will have to go pick up for game – that’s because the player that moved to Colorado (and ended up in South Dakota I think it was?) is coming back for several months and potentially staying, so he will be back with us at the table.
So we are about three sessions into our AD&D game. I DO plan on having some bios up as soon as I get some free time which will hopefully be within the next couple of weeks. I will also post a basic outline of the story so far and then do an update about once a month or so (hopefully). I am currently trying to finish up two adventures that will wrap up the first chapter of the campaign, of which there will be about four or five total.
Currently the players have finished the first adventure and about half of the second. Once the two I am working on are finished, then I will have five more for them to go through after they finish the current one. This should give me some free time to work on other stuff. I am banking on each adventure taking at least one full session of play to get through, which will give me about six weeks when you factor in that they are only part way through the current adventure.
The first thing will be finishing up the first “reboot” novel in the series that I write with my wife. That should only take a night to two. After that I plan on actually working on my Altered Realities RPG… FINALLY!
As it currently stands I am very happy with the role-playing and skills portion of the game. The combat side, not so much, but then it’s combat where you tend to need the most concise and direct rules in an RPG. So I will likely be scrapping the combat system (again) and redoing it. I have been tossing ideas around in my head for that already and I will hopefully have plenty of decent ideas to draw from once I sit down and put it to virtual paper.
I have also decided that I will be working on a superhero reality for the first setting specific set of rules. This will be a generic set of superhero rules that can be used for any universe, Marvel, DC, Image, or one of your own making. First off I am feeling very attached to the genre at the moment what with having just watched the new Avengers movie and the game I have been playing the most of late has been Marvel Heroes 2015 (excellent game and free as well!), plus with all the comic book shows like Agents of SHIELD, Flash, Arrow, and Gotham, it should be no surprise that my mind has latched onto the idea of running a superhero/comic book game.
The other thing is that I feel that a superhero game will have generic enough powers that I can easily gauge how magic will work in a fantasy setting or how psychic abilities will work in a sci-fi setting. It nicely fills that niche between all other genres that will make for easier work down the line.
The reality/setting that comes after that is up in the air, but it will likely be my fantasy setting that I’ve had rattling around in my head for a little while now. I have had some recent ideas concerning that setting that I believe will make it fairly unique when compared to something like say D&D. Things like no pantheons of gods for example. The other thing that will likely come with the fantasy setting is a novel written by myself and my wife to go along with it.
Anyway as you can see I plan on being very busy this summer and I am excited and hope to actually finish some of these projects finally.
Okay so I know I haven’t updated recently (no surprise there, right?), and I’m not 100% sure that I will very often in the future either. Currently we are playing Star Wars, and we’ve gotten a few sessions in so far. While I’d love to share character bios and what happened with the characters during their adventures (not to mention having a record of them somewhere), I’m just not sure I have the time to put into typing it all up these days. While Star Wars hasn’t been taxing in the prep department – I make a small handful of notes and I’m easily ready for five or six sessions – I have had other things taking my time and attention.
MMOs (I do pay for those with a monthly fee after all), a huge backlog of games otherwise (though it has been whittled down of late), writing novels with my wife, actually running my game (which does take up an entire day out of my week), working on my perpetually stalled RPG (that I plan to get back to soon). I find that I just don’t have the time to post here as consistently as I would like to.
So here’s my plan for the future just in case I don’t post again soon – I am just about to start working on the next campaign for my AD&D setting that will use events from the last campaign as a springboard. I will plan out everything that I can think to plan out ahead of time. I have a template that I have lined up in my head currently that I think will work for running a more sandbox based AD&D game so that the players can choose to go anywhere and deal with rumors and story hooks that I place in the game in whatever order that they choose.
Obviously this will be quite an undertaking, and I am looking at it as a bit of a spring project. My wife is taking a temporary teaching job that starts soon that may make it so that we don’t have a lot of free time to spend together for the next couple of months, so I may need something other than video games to hold my interest- so this project came to mind. It’s finite (I do have an end game planned for this in my head), so it won’t take forever, but it will probably take me a good three weeks or so to do, and that is me working on it while she is at work, working on her homework and such for college, and working on it after she goes to bed, with breaks here and there for video games.
We are actually not gaming for the next two weeks due to Spring Break, but it will also hopefully give me extra time to work on the campaign as well. Once it is done, I will run it, and while I am running it, I will have zero prep time needed because everything will already be plotted out for the most part. Now it may seem like I will have to railroad the players into doing what I want, so they follow my planned out campaign, but with how I am planning it, I won’t have to. Or at least, I hope it’ll work out that way (no matter what, I won’t railroad my players though).
At any rate the hope is to eventually get them to level 20 and have this be the campaign that the last one should have been. I know that since I am running the “epic quest” style campaign (ala Lord of the Rings) that I can only have so many sandbox elements in it, and that’s okay, at least those elements will be present this time. I do hope to one day just run the “episodic-never-really-ends-what’s-going-to-happen-this-week” style campaign (more like how Salvatore writes the Drizzt novels) that AD&D is really known for at some point as well. To be honest though unless I have two game nights, I’m not sure I could ever run one of those for years and years due to my need to play other game systems every once in a while (you know not to mention my own game system which will need playtesting).
Anyway I will get PC and NPC bios up when I start AD&D, but I am not sure that I will keep the posts updated with their week to week adventures. What I may do is post the adventure (which I will be trying to write out as a professional-level adventure) for download and post an overall idea of what my group did during the adventure. Right now, I am not 100% sure as to what will happen though, so don’t hold me to that. Either way I hope that this campaign comes out the way I want it to this time. This is me signing off for a bit.
Keep gaming and have fun!
After talking it over with my players, I am actually ending the AD&D campaign here. If you’ve been keeping up on things, you know that the group just stepped through a portal to Sigil, the City of Doors. Well the long and short of it is they find their way back and find out that the Cult of Nexara has gone silent, and it is believed that the Drakenblades got too close too soon.
When we play again, it will be a fresh new campaign that will also follow up this last one – in other words the current characters will be treated as heroes throughout the lands and could show up as NPCs in the next campaign.
There are several reasons for this change of heart – first off is the fact that we lost a player, and we also had people switching characters so we didn’t really have our core group anymore. The second reason is I felt that my overall story lacked coherency and was hard to follow. There is a two-fold reason to this. One was my lack of giving out information that I should have, the second is because the players did not pursue threads that I had left open for them to go after. This is not their fault though, I was too vague on those threads being possible avenues of exploration.
I am hoping that the next time I tackle this campaign, that I can do a better job and give the players a better overall story and make it clearer as to what is going on.
So now it will be Star Wars as I stated before, and I plan to run a single story arc for it, and then we may continue on with Star Wars depending on how I am feeling about it, or we may switch to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay so I can finally run the 3 book long adventure I had picked up when I originally got into the game, going back to Star Wars on occasion as a break.
So for anyone who is actually reading this on a regular basis, or if you’re one of my players, you will notice that the AD&D game is not being run at this point in time. Honestly it’s because I am suffering a little AD&D burnout. I started thinking back to figure out why, after all this campaign hadn’t been going for that long. Had it? But actually it’s been going since April of last year, so about 10 months. Before that I had about 2 months or so of our failed game with our previous roommate. And before that was the Forgotten Realms game I had run for about 3 months or so that I had ran to get reacquainted with the 2nd edition rules. So all in all I had been running AD&D in some form or another for almost a year and a half with only that three week break for Star Wars. So yeah, now I can see where burnout might be the issue. Not only that the way I had originally put the campaign together was not ultimately how I had needed to put it together so it was as cohesive as it should have been. So now I am taking a breather and a step back creatively so I can re-evaluate how I want the rest of the campaign to go.
That coupled with the recent move of one of our players and I felt that a short break (about 2 to 3 months) from AD&D would be nice. So now I will be running a new Star Wars game. New because the person who moved was integral to the original game. Two of my players will be making new versions of the characters they had played before and my new player will of course be making a new character. I may or may not have another player joining, all dependent upon her getting things in order so she can.
This Star Wars game will be set up from the beginning as a sandbox type game where the players will receive rumor tidbits and hooks but will be able to do what they want and deal with hooks or rumors as they wish, but at times events will conspire to pull them in so they will occasionally have to deal with what is thrown at them. That way I don’t have to do much prep (I just have to come up with some basic plot notes for the rumors and hooks for when or if they deal with them, and if they decide to go off on a personal tangent for some reason, I can deal with that too) and can concentrate on figuring out the rest of the AD&D campaign for when we go back to it to finish it. Once the AD&D campaign is finished, we will likely come back to this game and maybe even from time to time during the AD&D campaign if I need a week or two to finish an adventure.
I am hoping this will be a learning experience for me. I want to be able to cut down on my prep time for D&D and be able to run it on some basic notes and encounter stats. I also want to be able to run a more sandbox type D&D campaign. Both the current campaign and my last long term one (a 3.5 year-long Forgotten Realms campaign) were heavily story driven and fairly linear in design but done well (in my estimation) enough that the players still had choices. I am hoping Star Wars will be a good testing ground for me to run a sandbox game on just a few notes for each ‘mission’ (basically a mission will be any time the players decide to check out a rumor or story hook or when a major plot point happens) so I can implement the style in my next AD&D campaign. I am also hoping that this game will bring out more role-playing than our recent AD&D games have been, and then we can carry that back to the AD&D game when we get back to it.
This post will be a shortened synopsis of the last two games –
The heroes were infiltrating the sahuagin lair when we last left off. They continued on and managed to clear even further into their den and found some prisoners, including on of Kordan’s older brothers. He told Kordan that their brother Morek was missing. Continuing on, the group eventually found a tunnel that led up to a huge cavern that housed what looked to be a small section of the ruins of an elven city left over from the Sundering.
The group fought various monsters within the ruins including displacer beasts, trolls, a roper, and a couple of cloakers. They found out that the strange creatures aiding the sahuagin were actually troglodytes, and they made a deal to destroy the sahuagin leadership so the troglodytes would no longer be indentured to them. They were then directed to the western portion of the cavern where it plunged back into the depths and eventually led to a huge temple to the elven gods, though it was defaced and re-purposed to be a sahuagin temple. At the temple entrance they fought a vicious sahuagin general and his personal guard. They defeated the general and moved inside. As they did so a sahuagin priest and two magi assaulted them along with two summoned water elementals. After a long, hard battle, they defeated the priest and his magi, only to be left facing the results of the sahuagin’s final words – their goddess, one of Nexara’s titans. Though it nearly cost several of them their lives, they managed to bring down the massive manifestation of evil.
They celebrated for a short time with the sea elves and merfolk, and then were returned to the surface. Once there they made their way quickly to the city of Aerinvale. They were guided to meet with one Magistrate Ian, who told them that a meeting with the Council of Magi would not be possible for a few days. He then directed them to an inn to stay in. While there they were almost attacked by assassins while they slept. It seemed that the assassins were followed by a half-elven bard and a desert gnome wizard. The bard, Lyra, informed the group that the cult was at work within the city, and that the assassins were tied to the cult and that Magistrate Ian was a cult member. She also mentioned that Councilor Chandler was missing, the same Councilor that the gnome, Ne Hupo, had been sent by her people to find in hopes of getting a cure for her emperor. They joined the group in hopes of eliminating the cult within the city together and finding the Councilor. Later that evening Lyra told Moonshadow that she knew her parents and confirmed that they were dead, but that her older sister (which she had no knowledge of previously) was not.
They quickly found the lair of the assassins, werewolves led by a vampire. The fight with the inner circle of the assassin’s guild was brutal, with the vampire charming Kordan into attacking and slaying his comrade Arthurius. After the fight they were escorted by the Marshal of Aerinvale to the council chambers. Arthurius’ body was taken to a temple of Merous where he was raised from the dead so that he could continue serving the cause of light.
The council revealed that a strange lizard creature had been found at the borders of their nation, near death with an army of ogres and giants at his heels. The army had since camped at the nation’s borders and seemed to be awaiting something. The creature was brought in, and Ne Hupo revealed that he was one of her people, and she change din front of them, revealing herself to be a hornhead saurial (think large two-legged triceratops), the royal form of the sisarials (think highly intelligent oriental lizardmen). Apparently the sisarial had stated something before he died – that the emperor was dying, and not just any emperor, the Gold Dragon Emperor. Apparently Councilor Chandler had been researching using inherently magical creatures such as dragons, fae, and elementals to power magic in order to bypass using eldritch crystals. Knowing that her liege was in trouble, Ne pressed to return home, and the group agreed to accompany her.
The Council of Magi agreed to teleport them to Ne’s homeland (after using scrying devices to find it). Once there, the group traveled to the monastery that led to the lair of the Gold Dragon Emperor with all haste. Despite the beautiful, dinosaur filled jungles, the group pressed on. They found signs of devastation all throughout, including empty or destroyed villages. Something had happened. They found the monastery surrounded by Nexara’s armies. Oddly enough, the army allowed the group to enter the monastery unmolested, and they made their way to the main lair chamber.
Within they saw a sick and potentially dying Gold Dragon Emperor, his life-force being used to feed a portal to Baator. Even as Councilor Chandler continued his spell, he informed the group that they would not stop the inevitable now, that Selania had already been here and gone and she had what she wanted. He then stated that he would finish his spell as his guardian killed them. That’s when a pit fiend stepped through the portal and attacked the group. During the fight Morek, Kordan’s missing brother, showed up wearing a Nexaran uniform asking Councilor Chandler if he needed aid. Kordan, with grief heavy in his heart, turned and shot his brother, killing him. After a hard fought battle, the pit fiend was brought low by a concerted group effort.
Chandler then noted that he had other means of channeling magic, holding up a cage with what looked to be a twilight fae within that bore a strong resemblance to Moonshadow. She knew instantly then that her sister was within that cage. The councilor then called for aid and teleported away as an entire army moved in to eliminate the heroes. Kordan held his ground, telling the others to go through the portal to escape. Arthurius tried to stay as well, until Lyra told him that they might need his abilities should they end up in a demon infested lower plane. Moonshadow went invisible to escape with every intention of finding her sister.
Nexara’s army moved in, and the last anyone saw of Kordan was him and his rifle becoming one as he eliminated ogre, elf, dwarf, human, goblin, and orc alike as they rushed into the room. As the portal closed they saw the great Gold Dragon Emperor weakly raise his head and breathe out a great gout of flame that devoured everything in its path. Including Kordan.
As the heroes got their bearings they realized they were in a city, not one of the lower planes. And as they looked they saw that the city stretched out before them, and eventually started sloping upwards, and up, and up, until they noticed that the city was a giant ring. They didn’t realize it, but they had entered Sigil, City of Doors…
Our heroes were last seen in glass ‘cages’ underwater at the mercy of the sahuagin, also known as sea devils or shark men. After sitting in their respective cages for an indeterminate amount of time, a single sahuagin gave them masks that let them breathe underwater and then took them to an air-filled tent where they were given food. On the way they noticed a second tent next to the one they were escorted to, with most of the other ‘buildings’ being temporary seaweed lean-tos.
The group came up with a plan to cut their way through the tent they were in and go to the one that was nearby, banking that their stuff would be in there. They lucked out and figured correctly, as they were getting their equipment back on, a group of sahuagin had noticed that they were missing from the tent and found them. A battle ensued in which the group faced rough odds against the creatures in their home environment. They eventually managed to defeat enough of them to escape.
After fleeing from the sahuagin, they found themselves wandering aimlessly in a kelp forest, not able to determine what they should do or where they should go. They eventually found a coral reef and used it as a guide to go up higher to see what they could make out. They found themselves looking at a battle between sea elves and merfolk against more sahuagin, and again they were taken prisoner, but by the sea elves and merfolk this time around. They were taken to a small town of the aquatic folk and put into a large magic bubble which housed several buildings and a fresh water fountain.
Eventually a merfolk priestess came to speak with them, and explained that they would be taken to the surface once the troubles with the sharkmen were over. Apparently the sea devils had new leadership, and an alliance with some strange lizard-like creatures and the sea elves and merfolk were losing their battle against the sahuagin. The group offered to help, and after a few days deliberating with the sea elf and merfolk council, the merfolk priestess returned and guided them to sahuagin territory after granting them items that would help them in this foreign environment.
The group has found the main lair of the sahuagin, and have successfully cleared the first room, but will they be as successful in clearing the rest of the lair? If they are successful, the sahuagin have a surprise that awaits the heroes at the end…
So now our heroes are on their way to Aerinvale after a Silver Knight by the name of Arthurius has joined them. The group managed to find passage on a merchant ship out of Aerinvale called the “Crystal’s Boon”. The group boarded the ship and met with the bosun, a bubbly halfling bard named Aralira, the first mate, an ex-Valkyrie named Brynjar, and Captain Farley, the human who runs the ship. Brynjar also has a rather interesting companion – a Helarin (think intelligent minotaurs, but they hate being compared to them), warrior from Maerrheim. Neither were very forthcoming on why they left the raider nation, but it seemed that, for now at least, they were fine with serving the captain of the ship.
Their voyage was to last for roughly four or five days given favorable conditions, but Lord Rivan (the Eldritch Empires god of water) is often fickle and piracy was on the rise. On the third day of travel, the ship was in fact attacked by pirates. The group managed to help fight them off, even managing to defeat the captain themselves. It seemed that the cult’s reach was long indeed, as the pirates had been sent to kill the Drakenblades and were paid plenty to do so.
A few days later the ship lurched to a stop, and as the group tried to figure out what was going on, the ship was swarmed with starnge fish-like (or even shark-like) humanoid creatures called sahuagin. They all fell prey to the sahuagin’s poisons and fell unconscious one by one. When the group awoke, they found themselves captured, and devoid of their equipment. But worse yet, the cages they were in were clear glass and they could see that they were now deep underwater…
We last left the Drakenblades facing off with several hundred orcs as they fell upon one another in civil war due to their leadership being defeated. The group managed to escape and then moved on to the fortress-monastery that had gone quiet of late. Once there the heroes realized it was overrun with gnolls, and that they had a pet hydra. The group brought down the hydra and liberated the keep from the gnolls and their leader a werehyena.
They returned to Syris where they were tasked by Baron Drakclar to take a very important missive to the Lady Helaena Silverclaw in Woldsend. They arrived and the lady told them that the missive included funds for her to siphon to the bandit group known as the Exiled Brotherhood, who were actually the nobles who were thought missing or dead by the public at large. Turns out the nobles were displaced by their siblings who were secretly part of the Cult of Nexara. The Iron Shadows as it turns out, is actually the inner circle of another mercenary company called the Iron Protectors, a reputable and honorable company. The Iron Shadows was primarily a group of assassins and bounty hunters under the pay of the cult.
Armed with this knowledge they are informed that the queen of Kyrador, Selania Moonfrost, wishes to acknowledge and honor the heroes with a ceremony and feast. They are told that the Exiled Brotherhood wishes to strike during the ceremony, when everyone’s guard is down and that they would have help from within the castle to get them in quietly.
The group agrees and attends the ceremony. Part way through the ceremony, Duke Relar Hunter along with Duchess Karlina Bearov, two of the “missing or dead” nobles burst through the doors. They accuse the Duke’s sister, and the Duchess’ nephew of being a part of the Cult of Nexara. A fight breaks out in the throne room and Duke Grag Rider and the Sun’s Grace (the head of the temple of Merous) gather around the queen along with twenty of her royal guard.
The heroes fight off corrupt house guards, priests, and wizards and notice that Duke Hunter had disarmed his sister and Duchess Bearov had killed her nephew. The queen seems pleased that they survived and asks them what was going on. The prince (thought to be shirking his duties by wenching and drinking every night) come sin wearing the full regalia of a trained Silver Knight (all thought he had dropped out of his training). He explains he had started putting on airs that he was irresponsible and not training because he noticed the queen had begun acting strangely of late. He found out that she too was part of the cult, and in fact was the leader of it!
Exposed, the queen opened a portal to the Feywild to flee, along with Duke Rider and the Sun’s Grace. The heroes followed after, and in the Feywild saw a huge tree with what looked to be several opening that look liked windows with balconies and a large one in front that looked to be a door.
The heroes entered through one of the balcony openings, and found a juvenile green dragon and Helrath Solomar within, arguing about killing the adventurers that had the queen so riled. They attacked Helrath and his dragon Ashenclaw and after a very hard fought battle that saw the death of not only Sythaeren, but also of Larissa Drake they prevailed. Afterwards they found Helrath’s quarters and found plans that involved Aerinvale, including a possible attack from the vampires of Justavia.
They have since gained honors for their victories in Kyrador, attended the funerals of their comrades and a ceremony which saw Cyrus Drakclar elevated from Baron to Earl, gained more adventurers that will fight by their side, and now await passage to Aerinvale so that they can continue to take the fight to the Cult of Nexara.