Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Old Scarred Lands Campaign - Year 1

I ran a campaign in the Scarred Lands during 3rd Edition D&D and it was one of the best games I have run and had maybe the most memorable ending of all. Prior to this, in third edition, I had run:

  • A Greyhawk campaign that ended up centered around Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (this one ended in a TPK)
  • A Kalamar-based game that was tied to Kenzer's "Coin Trilogy" which frankly was not that great (this ended because the players wanted to go back and finish the Temple adventure in Greyhawk)
  • A second Greyhawk campaign that returned to the Return to the TOEE (this too eventually ended in another TPK - that temple was dangerous, OK?)
After this it was time for something different, so we played a few other games then after about 6 months we came back to D&D 3E. 

We started in May 2005 with six players - a Ranger, a Half-Orc Fighter, a Rogue, a Paladin, a Cleric, and a Dark Elf Wizard disguised as a High Elf.

Sessions 1-3
The first adventure was "The Serpent Amphora" which was a free intro to the 3-module series set in the Scarred Lands. It took 3 sessions to work through and while it was pretty railroady (there were some fights you were definitely not supposed to win) it did start with a set of athletic contests during some holiday games that was a nice change from happenstance tavern meetings or other traditional D&D campaign kickoffs. I also worked in "The Wizard's Amulet" the first Necromancer Games adventure and that was well-received too.

Session 4-6
The group decided to head north towards Vesh and along the way kicked off "The Dragonfiend Pact", a fun little Goodman games DCC adventure.

Session 7-8
Continuing northwards the party played through the Crucible of Freya set around east Onetenazu. This is another cool adventure and instead of starting in a keep on some borderlands you end up attacking a keep full of orcs ... on some borderlands. They had made it to 4th level by the time they finished this up.

Session 9
The party then travelled through the Canyon of Souls to Amalthea and began exploring the Tomb of Abysthor. Actually this session was just the journey and exploring the shrines to Thyr and Muir between Amalthea and the burial halls that are the core of the adventure.

Session 10-11
These were spent exploring the first level of the Tomb and the interesting features like the Font of Bones!

This wrapped up 2005. We stayed pretty closely to an every-two-weeks schedule though we did miss one here and there. With six regular players one or two person's schedule issues did not derail a session - unless it was mine!

As the game went on I wrote up more and more details on Amalthea - it's condition after the Druid War, various organizations, facilities, and characters who lived in the ruined city. I had forgotten how much info I had on this city until I started looking back through my notes in preparation for the new 5E campaign but it's pretty extensive - probably the most I have done to detail an area since first edition. A lot of this is because there isn't much detail on Amalthea in the Ghelspad book and I wanted to give my players an interesting home base. It was a lot of fun and maybe the new campaign will make its way there at some point.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

Ah the classics ...

Happy Halloween!

40K Halloween: The Bloodthirster Challenge

What's scarier than one greater daemon of Khorne? How about THREE GREATER DAEMONS OF KHORNE!

This whole thing started when I happened to notice that Apprentice Who's new Tyranid army was roughly 1000 points and 3 Bloodthirsters come out around 1000 points. I offered to have my three monsters fight his whole army and he accepted the challenge. Mine is a Supreme Command detachment while his is a Battalion so he will have 6 command points to my 4.

The setup: We had a mission with some objectives but they won't matter. It's the Swarmlord and his super friends vs. Khorne's Avengers!

Turn 1 Chaos:

Come to papa!

Turn 1Tyranids:

Turn 2 Chaos:


Turn 2 Nids:

Two of the nastiest things in the game head to head!

That's a lot of wounds piling up quickly ...
Turn 3 Chaos:


Turn 3 Nids:

"Piling in" - literally!

Not going down without a fight!

Turn 4 Chaos:



Turn 4 Nids:

The End!
So the answer is that 3 Thirsters is probably not up to taking on another nasty HTH army all by themselves! I maybe should have ganged up on the Swarmload first and avoided the swarms of smaller creatures but I thought one BT could handle him! Clearly not! Also Smites are mean when you have no defense and no Smites of your own!

Anyway it was a fun game and didn't take all that long to play. We may do it again here with the new Imperial Guard using a tank army just to see how that goes.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The RPG Update at the End of October

Since posting has been spotty this month I wanted to put together a general update for my own sake as we head into the holiday season of the year and collect my thoughts on where our games stand.

  • Superheroes: It's been months since we've played a Supers game of any kind but I am not unhappy about it. Our superhero games have been intermittent rather than a sustained campaign for years anyway so it's not a surprise and with some of my primary players moving out of the house and others getting their first jobs it's really cut into the extra time where we would work in a session of ICONS or Marvel Heroic. 
    • If I can drag the college crew back to the house for the day after Thanksgiving it would be the one-year anniversary of our Time of Crisis marathon session and maybe - MAYBE! - we could finish it! 
    • With Freedom City 3E coming out I'd really like to dig back into an ongoing superhero game, I just don't know when we will work it in.
    • Speaking of settings I still really like Emerald City too and would be really happy if I could find a way to run a game there as well. 
    • I've been looking at my ICONS material and notes and thinking we need to dust that game off too.
    • My homebrew "Atomic City" setting - so many plans, so little attention over the last year. Need to get in some time there, whether it's M&M3 or ICONS or something else.

  • Star Wars: Still a setting I really enjoy running.
    • Red Sabers has been dormant since March but it has come up in conversation with the boys recently so we may get in another session or two during the holidays. This is the game that's turned Blaster into a d6 die-hard. He's not terribly interested in the FFG game because he thinks d6 is better. 
    • Beyond the Rim has been stalled with schedule issues since August but we will get back to it now that high school band and football season are wrapping up here. Even beyond this one adventure (ha!) I have some things I want to do with this system and some adventures I want to try so i expect it will stay in the rotation thru 2018 as well. 
    • I still have notes for the old Volturnus Space campaign and the Dawn of Defiance campaign and an Old Republic campaign. Regardless of system, I have a lot of Star Wars stuff I want to do and players who are interested. It's really just a Schedule Challenge to work it in on a regular basis.

  • D&D: Digging deeper into 5th really has me in a pretty happy place with this.
    • The new Forgotten Realms game has me re-reading a bunch of old material on the region and re-reading the newer stuff on the Realms as well.
    • I realized I could easily run an entire campaign inside Waterdeep alone, and another one inside Neverwinter, and still keep them all in this same region of Faerun. One of these days...
    • I did end up moving the "classics" game from Greyhawk to the Scarred Lands so I'm reading some of those books as well (in between everything else) and remembering how much I liked this world. It also had me going through my old campaign notes and recalling how much fun we had in that game too. More on that later.
    • My preliminary looks at the Cormyr option for moving the campaign also generated enough interest for me that I'm going to continue working out an outline to see what I could do with that option. If someone wants a Realms game that isn't tied to the big campaign adventure, this would be a great region to go with a separate run.
    • Honorable Mention: Pathfinder.  I'm not running it right now, and haven't this year, but I am still playing in Paladin Steve's Kingmaker campaign and I thoroughly enjoy it. I've brought up finishing Wrath of the Righteous with  my players but we haven't committed to anything yet. More on that later too!
So there are the three main streams here. The rest:
  • Deadlands is on hold because I've had trouble getting my three players together at the same time and when we did they wanted to play D&D instead  - mainly to finish Keep on the Borderlands. 
  • DCC was fun with 0-level characters but it's not going to replace 5th edition now that "real" D&D has taken hold. I do still have some hope for MCC when I get the physical book here, but it will likely be an occasional one-shot game rather than an ongoing campaign.
  • Shadowrun - one of these days
  • Runequest - we will get in a session 2 one of these days!
  • Star Trek - regardless of system it's just not a setting most of my guys get excited about enough to bump something else aside and that's what it would take to really get it going,

The Wild Card: Savage Rifts. We all want to play it, the question is do we want to skip something else to do it? Yes, I pretty much live in a world of Opportunity Cost when it comes to gaming time these days. I think the holiday breaks will give us a chance to try it so I am looking at putting together a one-shot or more likely (since we have to make characters too) a "two-shot" setup type session and short run to give us a taste of how it will work, and then maybe we work it into the rotation for next year. 

Overall I am really happy with the way the games are going. Running it down like this I end up enumerating more  of what we aren't playing than what we are but that's because we've gotten to play a lot of different games over the last couple of years. I'd like to be more consistent or focused but this is how it has worked out and playing a wider variety of games is quite a bit of fun too.