Showing posts from January, 2015

Friday recap and XP issues

Two of the wonderful ladies in my gaming group.  We had our first game session at level two last night for 5E D&D. The group did so well the actually cruised right into level three!  Well, the gaps is XP amounts per level increases from here, so it should slow down.   I have noticed a problem with the methods in the DMG for determining the challenge of the encounter based on monster XP values. It has to do with large groups like mine (six at the table).  With a group of six, a single monster is worth half its XP value for the purposes of determining the challenge total. Two monsters are worth their base amount.  How's that work in practice?  Say a Nothic, a "level 2" monster, is worth 450 XP.  Against six PC's it is only worth 225 XP, making it an "easy" encounter.  Two Nothics, however, are worth 900 XP, a "hard" encounter. What you can not get is a 450 XP Nothic encounter, its original value!  Weird. 

Whither DC Heroes?

With all of the discussion about superhero RPG's here and elsewhere, I rarely see a reference to DC Heroes. There's a lot of love out there for a lot of older superhero games.  A lot of people really love Champions.  Marvel Comic's old RPG, now often called FASERIP, has apparently a robust online community.  I even saw that Villains & Vigilantes has been re-published.  But every time I seen Barking Alien or Lord Blacksteel or someone else talking about thinking about one superhero RPG or another, DC Heroes never comes up. Which surprises me, because from what I can tell, the game was ridiculously well-supported and went through three different editions (although on the Wikipedia entry it suggested that each new edition tried to clean up problems in the last one--never a good sign).  While I do not own any of the editions of the core rulebooks, I have managed over the years to score many sourcebooks at used book stores, and they all look pretty well written with


A while back I wrote about the ongoing (still...ongoing...) "Spider-Verse" story arc going on with Marvel Comics.  It is still plodding along, although this week seems to be drawing everything to a head. My kids and I do still love the whole concept of alternate-universe Spider-Men, or women, or pigs, but if there is one thing that the whole series has illustrated (unintentionally) it is that the Peter Parker of Earth 616 (mainstream Marvel Earth) is the least interesting Spider-Man out there. Even less than this guy. Who actually admits to being lame in the comic book. Which might be why Marvel Comics recently announced that they were going to do some sort of collapse/recon/coalesce of their universe in some ground-shaking way this May, making many comic book store owners wonder how they are going to get people to buy the new Silk comic book if the universe might be thrown into disarray five months into the series. Or, what I've heard kicked around the geek-

Ghoul problems

So apparently, if I had bothered to look around before designing my intro adventure, I would have learned that ghouls, a pretty standard low-level undead creature, are entirely broken and have been so since playtesting.  There are a gazillion forum posts and blog posts about this, but I'll encapsulate the problem. Ghouls have three attacks, a claw/claw/bite combination at +4/+4/+2 Which the attacks are low-level in power, each attack can paralyze an opponent for a full minute if they fail a DC 10 Constitution save.  Being paralyzed means are effectively hors de combat . AC's for PC's are fairly low, and do not improve with PC level advancement, but strictly through equipment. PC's only get a bonus to attribute saving throws if they are proficient  in that attribute.  Each class only has two attribute proficiences, usually.  Otherwise, it is just a straight up d20+attribute modifier (usually low because its not the favored one of the class).  That means there's

Friday Recap: with added bacon!

It is game night again last Friday, and the crew brought in a ton of food. In addition to the pizza there was salad, white chili, brownies, and stuffed jalapeƱo poppers wrapped in bacon!  Thankfully I showed a little restraint, but here's a photo: The group returned to the dungeon they explored two weeks ago. With the rotating player rules in place, the group ended up being mostly "squishies": a bard, a cleric, a warlock, a sorcerer, a Druid, and a monk. The cleric and the monk ended up at the front of the matching order. After a ghoul and a ghastly nearly took out the entire party, they started playing very cagey.  One nice moment for me was realizing that the player doing the mapping got turned around and confused. Perfect for creating tension as they soon realize they don't know where they are!  They also did a very cool trick at one point by having the sorcerer cast "light" on a crossbow bolt and then having a PC with dark vision use it to &

The Larvate Sublimity

The Larvate Sublimity The nobility of Grimfest Masks and secrets More than human The first individuals to take advantage of the harvesting of flesh from the Tarrasque quickly realized that, beyond simple meat production, the flesh of the Tarrasque could be used as the core materials of many different kinds of products.  These included potions and other magical items.  Additionally the consumption of the flesh, prepared in certain ways, could prolong the lifespan of a living being, albeit with side effects.  While a person could live far beyond their normal years, the flesh of the Tarrasque was rumored to have mutagenic properties that would distort the body even as it enlivened it. Most of those original families now called themselves the Larvate Sublimity, and rule of the city of Grimfest as local nobility.  Their research into the Tarrasque has led many of them to become powerful magic users, while others merely content themselves to fantastic wealth.  Almost all of the L

Science Fiction with gear

A friend of mine (not part of my gaming group) recently purchased the relatively-new Firefly RPG, which I've talked about here and even run a few sessions of with my group.  Her response on Facebook? Wow. I thought the Serenity RPG book was bad. The Firefly RPG book is far, far, far, far worse. Did I mention it was worse? When I asked her why she thought that, this was her response. They mixed the rules for the game (which I don't use but still) in with the 'Episode Guides' so there's no actual rule section, ability/skill charts, equipment lists, etc. It then goes into how to write your adventures as episodes - just like the TV show. They finally give system maps but they don't give an over 'Verse map so you have no idea how the systems relate in terms of distance and position. Overall it's a poorly designed book for anyone who wants to play the game. I'm with her on how the writers used the "episode guide" portion of the licensed RP

Open Forum: individual or group XP

So I'm running a large group, and off the bat we have the issue that out of the first three sessions, three players will only be making one of them, but seven players will be making two.  Since the six players who made it to the first session are already almost at level two, it is pretty obvious that at least initially those who for whatever reason miss a session or two will fall behind. Since D&D is so driven by XP awards and level advancement, this could really become an issue.  I feel like I have two options. One, I could just let people garner XP for each session they make it, and let the dice fall where they may.  It's entirely possible that lower-level PC's will catch up with their teammates because they are getting a disproportionately bigger piece of the XP pie, relatively speaking.  (Does that make sense?  If a level 1 PC survives a fight with a CR 3 opponent with his level 3 teammates, his share of the XP will advance him to level 2 more quickly than the l

Cooking for Game Night: Tarragon Sesame Chicken Breasts

As I have mentioned before, my gaming group gathers for dinner before we game.  It's a nice way to check in and do a lot of socializing before we start gaming.  Usually I provide the main course while others bring side dishes, salads, chips, soda, and beer.  Sometimes I get lazy and just order pizza, but often I try to cook something nice.  It is a way to be hospitable, eat better, and often eat less expensively as well. Last Friday, I tried out a new recipe for Tarragon Sesame Chicken.  Here it is: 2 cups buttermilk 1 tsp sweet paprika 1 tsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper 12 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, tenders removed 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (or non-stick spray) 2 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs 1 tbls dried tarragon 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted 1. In a 2 gallon zipper top plastic bag, combine buttermilk, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir or shake until blended.  Add the chicken to coat evenly. At this point you can let it sit refr

Friday Game Night: First session for the 5E campaign

We played the first session of our new D&D 5E campaign last night, set in the city of Grimfest (detailed in the last few blog posts).  There were a lot of logistical elements at work here, so let me break it all down. First, I have ten players in the campaign, which is far too many for the table.  What I've done is set up three gaming sessions a month on the calendar, and asked everyone to pick two of them, with a general cap of six or seven per session.  So far for January, that has worked for most people, although at least two could only make one of the sessions.  I'm not sure how to handle experience points for the people who can't make two sessions a month and having them get behind the others, but I'll puzzle that out later. The group's composition: half-orc paladin elf monk human rogue tiefling warlock dragonborn sorcerer elf druid dwarf ranger half-elf bard human cleric undecided The first six played in the session last night.  They got

Introduction to Grimfest, Part Two

Continuing with my introduction to my 5E campaign... The City of Grimfest Indifferent to peril The monster within An economy of flesh It is not clear if it was the magicians to halted the path of the Tarrasque or others who realized that the miraculously regenerative abilities of the monster could be exploited by harvesting its flesh.  The Tarrasque became a never-ending supply of meat for the region, and a community rapidly grew around it. Beyond just carving off chunks of flesh for food, the body of the Tarrasque could also be farmed for scales, claws, horns, and other body parts which were used for the raw materials for armor, magical unguents, and other things conceived by the early entrepreneurs who formed the backbone of Grimfest's society today.

An Introduction to Grimfest, Part One

Author's note: I'm launching a new D&D 5E campaign with my Friday night group, and decided the best way to give the backstory would be to just write about it here and link to it through the group's private Facebook page (some time I'll talk about how our group uses Facebook).  All of the material for the campaign will have the label "Grimfest" in the post.  So, let's begin and the beginning... It would be impossible to tell the tale of the origins of the city of Grimfest without talking about the Tarrasque. The Tarrasque Living Mountain of Rage Virtually Indestructible Grisly Cornucopia for the City The origins of the Tarrasque are a matter of myth and speculation.  Avatar of an angry god?  Magical experiment gone horribly awry?  Regardless of where it came from, the Tarrasque has moved across the surface of the planet for centuries, a living cataclysm in whose wake history has shifted.  Empires have been torn asunder, mountain ranges

First Post of 2015: Who the Heck am I?

I'm willing to steal a good idea from Adam over at Barking Alien, namely taking the time on the first post of the year to introduce the readers to the author of this particular blog. My name's Rob, with one b, not two, but I'll answer to both. The origins of my blogger "handle" comes from way back when I was active some forums using a name that had "WQ" in it.  When I started blogging, I added my more familiar name "WQ" to my real name "Rob."  But Blogger wanted six letters in a name, not five, so I added the second "b" from my last name.  Thus, WQRobb was born. I'm in my mid-forties, and live in Lawrence, Kansas, the "Berkeley of the Midwest" and home to the University of Kansas.  It's a great city to live in, and probably the only city in Kansas I'd want to live in for that matter. This is actually my second blogger blog, an offshoot of The Army Collector , where I originally wrote about wargam