Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 in Review (300th Post!)

Was this a good year for gaming at the home of W.Q. Robb?  Let's take a look at the year in review

From January to March I concluded the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign featuring the Ultimate Posse.  As far as I can tell looking around the blogosphere, I might be the only person to play this game a) with scratchbuilt PC's and b) more than three times.  The Ultimate Posse campaign was a hell of a lot of fun for everyone, but I started feeling like the decisions the players were making didn't have a huge impact on the effect of die rolls.  I've been pondering that a lot lately, but it was still a good run for this group on a single RPG.  My daughter, Macy, joined the gaming group as an on-off player.

April to August had J Evans taking over as GM and running a home-brewed RPG based on the video game franchise Mass Effect using the Cortex Plus system as its core.  There were a lot of things I liked about this campaign and the rules J came up with, including having different dice when you do things in tandem with other PC's reflecting how well you get along with that person.  I was binge-watching Revenge at the time and was thinking that the ever-fluid inter-personal relationships of soap-operas like that one matched what J was trying to do with his relationship dice.  Isaac, J's son, came into the group at that point too.

In August I also did the RPGaDay blog-a-thon, answering 31 questions about my gaming preferences. I also did a one-shot of FATE, "The Legion of Extraordinary Dudes" which was a pretty comical outing.

In September and October I started a Firefly RPG campaign, but I felt the campaign had two problems.  One, the group was too large for both the genre and the ruleset, neither of which have much in the way of internal differentiation to make large groups really viable.  Two, Fifth Edition D&D came out, and the group wanted to take it for a spin.

In November and December I ran the group through a small pre-published adventure using the 5E rules.  Reviews were generally positive but admittedly mixed.  Two new players, Tony and his daughter Emma, joined the group.

In terms of blog traffic, the best month was August, clocking in an all-time high of 2,069 page hits for the month.  My top post of the year was my response to the post I did for The Initiative: Superhero RPG Appendix N Blog Challenge (trivia bit: it's the sixth most popular of all time.  My top three are a post I did about modular dungeon tiles that I linked to on The Miniatures Page, my review of the Primeval RPG, and a meandering post about Grognardia.)

What was good about 2014?  My group got together pretty consistently throughout the year and had a great time gaming.  We added three new people to the gaming community, two of whom are children and will hopefully become part of a future generation of tabletop RPG gamers.  As to what will happen next year?  That will be the topic of a different post.

This is also my 300th post, which is pretty cool.  Thank you, loyal readers, for making this blog still a joy to write.  I hope reading it is as much for you as it is for me to write it!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Friday Recap and a Question about timing

Two of my younger players enjoy dinner before the game.
So, here's the situation.  I'm running a module, The Crucible of Freya.  The group has, over two sessions, literally completely cleared out the entire "dungeon."  Through an amazing amount of luck and guile they have defeated all three of the major "above ground" villains and are down to just the two underground rooms.  The first underground room takes longer than expected and we are a half hour past our usual stop time. One couple has to get their infant some home and to bed.

Here's the crux of the problem: this is the end of this adventure. Once the module us done, we are starting something new with new PC's, stories, etc.  What do you do, if you have to stop gaming at this point?  Do a one-encounter session next time, then switch once it is done, or just quit and not bother with the final villain?

It's conundrums like this which is why I don't like railroads or story arcs or whatever. I suppose if I had been really invested in the game I could have padded it out with more rooms or restocked the upper levels or something. As it was I wasn't as invested in this trial run of 5E and gave the players the option to choose. They wanted to move onto other things, including their own PC's rather than the pre-gens, so that was that. The players asked what was in the last room, so I told them, and then they were disappointed because it sounded cool to them, which kind of made me unhappy as well.

So, comments welcome about how you handle timing, especially hanging loose ends to a story arc.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Friday Night Gaming Recap, or "I only have seven hit points?"

We decided to add a game night to this month so we could try another go-around with Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.  We've got two new players in the group, two who played in the first trial session of D&D Next (I hate that name).  That raises the pool of potential players to ten.

For Friday, however, we had seven people show up to play.  I don't have any photographs, but we began the module The Crucible of Freya by Goodman Games, converted to 5E.  Goodman had released a 5E version of the mini-prequel to The Crucible, called The Wizard's Amulet, which we had done the last time I ran 5E.  Converting the module isn't too hard, except that orcs have changed a lot in two editions.  I think they might be a little undervalued at a CR 1/2 monster, given that when they hit with their greataxes, they are doing 1d12+4 damage, which is usually enough to drop a first-level PC.  With 15 hit points themselves, fighting an orc is usually a matter of who hit whom first to see who loses.

I did an introductory skirmish to see how powerful orcs are.  Three orcs knocked two out of seven PC's to 0 hit points in the fight, which informed me a lot.  After that much of the session was spent with the PC's wandering about the town of Fairhill, where the adventure takes place.  After the crucible was stolen in an orc raid, the PC's chased the orc raiders down, killed them (taking advantage of a surprise round), and brought the crucible back.  At that point we had hit the end of the gaming session, and so decided to postpone raiding the orcs' lair until the next session.

There's a whole different feel to combat in 5E for players who were used to playing level 12-15 PC's in 4E.  Before people could just jump into combat willy-nilly figuring they were tough enough to take whatever was dished out (or at least could coordinate with the group without difficulty).  Now the group is being forced to be careful, scout enemies, etc.  That feels more reminiscent of earlier editions, and I like the edgy feeling of concern (if not terror) that it brings with it.

More on what I'll do with ten players later.

Over at Strange Vistas