prionailurus:

Ask a question, answer a question, do both (both is good)! Talk to me about gaming!

1. What’s the first game system ( __ Edition D&D,
Rifts, GURPS, Shadowrun, etc.) you ever played?

2. What’s the most recent one you’ve played?

3. What’s your favorite system?

4. Is there a system you’d like to play but
haven’t?

5. Are there any systems you’ve tried and did NOT
like?

6. Do you have any house rules for the system(s)
you play?

7. Do you DM/GM for your group?

8. Do you say DM or GM?

9. Do you have a go-to setting?

10. Have you ever run a game, or do you prefer to
just play?

11. Do you play with game mats and/or minis?

12. How old were you when you first started gaming?

13. How often does your current gaming group meet
up?

14. How often would you LIKE to meet up for gaming?

15. How long do your gaming sessions tend to be?

16. How long would you LIKE your gaming sessions to
be?

17. Have you tried/had any luck with Roll20?

18. What’s your preferred gaming beverage?

19. What are your preferred gaming snacks?

20. What are your superstitions or rituals regarding
dice?

21. Do you know anyone with really good/bad/weird
dice luck?

22. What would you say is your alignment?

23. What is the class you’d like to be?

24. What class do you think you’d actually be?

25. What weapons would you wield? [@thewhiteboardofkanjisan]

26. If you could cast one spell, what would it be?

[@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]

27. What school of magic would you specialize in?

28. If you could have any creature – real or
fictional – as a familiar, what would it be?

[@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]

29. What was your favorite character to play?

[@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]

30. Do you tend/prefer to play characters of your own gender/orientation?

31. What question would you add to this list? [you’ll be credited like this]

Well, I was going to ask you, but since you already answered, I’ll just reblog and answer. Also, my question for you is the last one.

1. What’s the first game system ( __ Edition D&D, Rifts, GURPS, Shadowrun, etc.) you ever played?
AD&D 2e. Didn’t particularly like it, but it was my first system.

2. What’s the most recent one you’ve played?
Hrm. Played? Technically Perky!, my own RP system. Last one I played or GMed for would be D&D 5e though.

3. What’s your favorite system?
That’s… tough. Favorite that I’ve played is probably my own (there’s a reason why I made it), but favorite that I’ve seen is probably…

4. Is there a system you’d like to play but haven’t?
Fiasco. I’ve been so close to being able to play it several times, but all have fallen through. :(

5. Are there any systems you’ve tried and did NOT like?
Several maybe? I was definitely not a fan of D&D 4e, but that might have been the DM. I wasn’t a fan of AD&D 2e and the same situation there. The Returner’s FFRPG 2e was the first system I ran and I really didn’t like that by the end of my run. That one wasn’t the fault of the GM. :)

6. Do you have any house rules for the system(s) you play?
Yes. For all systems, we have a three-game-pilot. What that means is that you can change up your characters entirely within the first three sessions of a game, no consequence and we handwave over the story bits. Once you start the fourth session, no more handwaving. Called based on the TV pilot phenomenon where characters seemingly change between that and the series with no reference to what happened.
Beyond that, we have a couple of houserules specific to various systems (ex: D&D we don’t roll for stats, we give out a statline or two and let people choose their stats from there), but the three-game-pilot is the big one.

7. Do you DM/GM for your group?
Yes. I’m one of the three GMs of the group and I probably run the most. Also, I run all of my games outside of my normal group.

8. Do you say DM or GM?
Both. I use GM as a generic term and the specific terms for the specific systems (Dungeon Master for D&D, Guide for Perky!, Episode Master for Yume En).

9. Do you have a go-to setting?
Two of them, actually. 

Mion is my setting for D&D and D&D-like games, which is a mid-renaissance-era small campaign world where the players of prior games have actually defeated the gods themselves, throwing all kinds of things out of whack (such as the Alignment system itself, hence the CG Succubus mayor of the largest city…).

Sharna is my setting for Perky!, Yume En, FFRPG, and any other free form / non-time-specific roleplaying systems. It is a huge campaign world (4x Earth) with lots of different technologies, societies, and endless places that you can get lost in. It was originally based on Ivalice from FFT, but at this point I could probably just rename four things and no one would even see the reference. Sharna is probably my most in-depth setting since you could literally spin a globe of it, point out one spot, and I could probably tell you something about that spot.

Speaking of, anyone know where to buy a custom-made globe? :)

10. Have you ever run a game, or do you prefer to just play?
I prefer to play and run games equally. That’s not to say I’m always okay with one or the other – I mean I prefer to play as many games as I run.

11. Do you play with game mats and/or minis?
I used to do this more, but with a player or two online it makes mini-based combat really difficult and time consuming. If there is a specific situation that the players need to see spacing on, I’ll go for it, but otherwise it is just theater of the mind.

12. How old were you when you first started gaming?
Roleplaying? 16. I was a relatively late bloomer there, as I wasn’t invited to any other games. I started running games at 18 (and, in fact, one of my first players still plays with me today).

13. How often does your current gaming group meet up?
Weekly…ish. We run two games concurrently; I run one and another person runs another game. However, being that we’re all 25-40 years old, we don’t necessarily have every week free. We’ll occasionally go a month without a game played at all because too many of us are out.

14. How often would you LIKE to meet up for gaming?
This is going to be a bit unique, but less often. I feel like meeting every other week for twice as long would make for a way better game. Of course I’d prefer weekly at that length, but I’m a bit realistic. 

15. How long do your gaming sessions tend to be?
They’re scheduled for 2.5 hours, but it ends up closer to 1.5-2h in length due to late starts and the like.

16. How long would you LIKE your gaming sessions to be?
Three hours, five for a particularly epic session.

17. Have you tried/had any luck with Roll20?
I’ve messed around with it a bit, but never in an actual game.

18. What’s your preferred gaming beverage?
I only drink water and carbonated water now, so the latter. Tangerine La Croix, if I want to be fancy (it usually ends up just plain carbonated water from my sodastream). Back when I drank anything else, it was Sprite.

19. What are your preferred gaming snacks?
Preferred? Pretzels, cookies, and gummy bears. None of those make a mess other than crumbs and they’re all quite good.
Typical? Extra sharp cheddar cheese sticks. I can control my eating a bit better with those, but I only eat when I’m not running a game.

20. What are your superstitions or rituals regarding dice?
Oddly enough, I don’t have any. I mostly just indulge my players in exiling dice, but I really don’t care that much. I use pretty dice for pretty games. Of course, there is a downside…

21. Do you know anyone with really good/bad/weird dice luck?
Absolutely – me. As a GM, I roll really crappy. Like “average of a 5 on a d20? level of bad. I’ve gone through several games where my bosses didn’t even harm an opponent because of how bad my rolls were. I’ve since switched to a dice deck for running games, even though I really miss rolling real dice. :(

22. What would you say is your [D&D] alignment?
Chaotic Good. I’m probably the type of CG that’s right on the edge of being NG instead, but I’m pretty decided about this.

23. What is the [D&D] class you’d like to be?
Bard or Druid. Bards get almost all the cool magic and skills, Druids get to be shape shifters and the rest of the cool magic.

24. What class do you think you’d actually be?
Bard. CON is my dump stat in real life and it is a toss-up as to which is my highest mental stat.

25. What weapons would you wield? [@thewhiteboardofkanjisan]
Bow. Hell no am I getting in the middle of combat with you melee buffoons!

26. If you could cast one spell, what would it be? [@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]
Dangerous question. I could just say “Wish” and get lots of other spells. Let’s just say Teleport to make things simple.

27. What school of magic would you specialize in?
Illusion is my personal favorite school of magic, but divination is probably what I’d actually be specialized in.

28. If you could have any creature – real or fictional – as a familiar, what would it be? [@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]
Pseudodragon. Oh, like that’s surprising – it’s a kitty that can fly and talk back! As a complete not-at-all coincidence, the only character I’ve had with a familiar had a pseudodragon familiar.

29. What was your favorite character to play? [@thewhiteboardofkanjisan?]
You’re asking me to choose between my children! How could you!
So… three of them from Pathfinder (they’re easier to explain), all three in the same universe, in chronological order:

Captain Valen, Anti-Pirate Pirate (3.5e -> Pathfinder, Chaotic Neutral Pan Human Druid). He’s exactly what you shouldn’t do with a Druid. Top stat is a standard Druid dump stat (Charisma), Wisdom in a firm third place. He’s the obvious party leader of a group of characters who shouldn’t be able to be led (one non-CN member of the party), with a personality that matches the meme of Captain Kirk saying “I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am”, complete with full on pansexuality. He came up with completely crazy crackpot plans (which were actually me planning well in advance because Valen’s second highest stat was Int…) that actually worked and eventually became a deity in that universe, creating an island nation…

Tatiana, Guildmaster of the Mage’s Guild (Pathfinder, Chaotic Good Ace Human Rogue/Elocator). Tatiana was my take on everyone’s favorite modern-day Rogue-like Rogue, Parker from Leverage. She started out as an acrobatic rogue who didn’t seem to like actually hurting people and knew way more about magic than even the party mage (Alchemist). However, she was really on a quest / bet from her father. Her father was the head of the Thieves’ Guild of the island nation she came from – and a wizard. She challenged him that she could be a better thief than he ever could be and that laws were merely things that were guidelines and suggestions. The first laws that she broke? Physics. Tatiana became a homebrewed non-psionic Elocator, basically changing the directions of gravity for herself at all times and developing some very magic-like special powers. Toward the end of the campaign, she made up with her father and decided that she didn’t need to prove her thieving abilities – she just stole the head of the Mage’s Guild from the actual wizards, putting herself there. She’s quite happy with her loot.

Kynet Founddottir, Paladin of the Holy Order of Dwarves (Pathfinder, Lawful Good Demi Drow Noble Paladin). Kynet is the tallest Dwarf you’ll ever meet. She’s straight and to the point, she drinks like a Dwarf, she thinks like a Dwarf, she’s a Dwarf by every definition other than the whole “being a Drow” thing. She was found as an infant during an invasion of a major Drow city in the underdark by the Dwarves and the Clerical head of the Holy Order couldn’t bring herself to kill the little one (or let her be killed), so she brought her back. She eventually married and Kynet’s parents had many children – she babysat many of them, then babysat their kids and grandkids. Eventually, enough of Kynet’s clan of Dwarves were in the Holy Order that they passed a resolution allowing Kynet in the order. She’s so full of flavor that I can’t help to love her – she started developing the same powers a Drow Noble has, her only prized possession is the armor her father made her (her starting money went exclusively to that armor, only having a masterwork bow otherwise), and she fully believed that anyone can be redeemed – I mean, just look at her! Unfortunately, she ended up being a ridiculously overpowered character, as apparently the entire campaign was about demons. I actually didn’t know that before the campaign started, but it ended with bosses being given 10x HP and I was still nearly one-shotting them all. Still, the only time I’ve had fun playing someone Lawful Good. She was the type of Lawful Good that would find an evil person, sit down with them at a bar, and talk it out over some nice scotch.

30. Do you tend/prefer to play characters of your own gender/orientation?

No, actually. While there is a part of me in every character I make, I don’t have a strong gender identity, so I don’t have any preference on gender identity or orientation on characters. I play what I feel is right for the character, which is very specific to the character themselves. As a result, I end up playing 55% women, 40% men, 5% other/NB. As for orientation, I usually don’t decide on that in advance. My last D&D character was a somewhat-genderfluid lesbian who fell head over heels for another member of the party (who was in a love triangle between two other guys and didn’t even know my character had such feelings IC; OOC the player knew). The one before that was Kynet, who I had decided was demisexual like myself after realizing that she’s probably never fallen in love since almost everyone she’s met has had such a short lifespan. I had decided that she was a woman because that’s a lot more dramatic for a Drow Paladin to be – kind of like what she was probably raised to be, only corrupted by light and good.

31. What do you, primarily, get out of roleplaying? That is, is it for fun with your friends, to experiment with being people who you are not, or something else? [@aetherspoon]

My own addition.

I use roleplaying as a chance for me to be someone I’m somewhat-like, but better. Every character I play has some part of me inside of them. Heck, in the three examples above, Kynet has huge chunks of my personality (and I channeled a lot of my “I don’t fit in” to her), Tatiana has my morality (and inquisitiveness), Valen has my cunning (and a more amplified version of my “I can’t stand being told what to do” trait).

As a GM, I get to play out my stories in my head, with the players answering my “how does this flow and end” questions, basically. So I get some creativity juices flowing a lot more than in my day-to-day job.

32. What question would you add to this list? [you’ll be credited like this]

writing-prompt-s:

eldritchsandwich:

solarcat:

talieclandestine:

mababees:

writing-prompt-s:

Your church-going, God-worshipping sister adopted a small child and you’re excited to see them. But when you do, the child is a menace. They’re throwing things everywhere, setting furniture on fire with seemingly nothing, chanting in Latin to summon demons, but the weirdest thing is that your sister doesn’t seem to mind.

“You literally adopted the antichrist, Anne. What the fuck.”

“Yeah, I knew when I saw him at the orphanage. I figured if the kid had some decent fucking parenting that we could avoid the whole ‘Revelations’ shite. Nasty business, that.”

George, who’s name has been kindly changed from Damien, approaches his new mother with a huge spider in his hands. It promptly bursts into flames.

“Good job, love. Now go find the rest.” George’s face makes no expression, but his eyes shine when he recieves a pat on the head for his efforts.

As the months go by, George seems to settle down. He adjusts to school, friends, and the positive reinforcement Anne gives him. She encourages the good he does, even though the powers he uses aren’t “good”. When she gets calls from the school, it’s about a rambunctious boy that won’t sit still. Not a destroyer of the world and innocence.

It’s at Christmas dinner, that you let slip your amazement to your mother. How good Anne is for him and how he’s improved a lot. Still summoning hellhounds for games of fetch, though.

“Oh, he’ll forget how to do that when he falls in love the first time,” Your mother laughs, smiling wide.

“How do you know that,” you ask bewildered.

“Because, you did.”

okay so someone please write the story of the family of super-low-key holy warriors who have made it their mission to locate the antichrist in every generation (because when one gets spoiled they try AGAIN) and adopt them and love them into not being the antichrist anymore, thus perpetually delaying the apocalypse

delaying the apocalypse via good parenting I love this

I would love to read this

The first part of this is basically the story behind the play Blackpool and Parrish. I was stage manager for that play. :)

Despite evidence to the contrary, my Nuzlocke lives! Just three years delayed – nothing bad happened in the last three years, right?

Anyway, let’s go through the first battle of South Paramecia and… oh dear I’m low level. Uh-oh.

wilwheaton:

dankmemesreasonforliving:

This is silly, but real talk for a second: You are NEVER a burden to your friends, and the people who love you.

Talking about your mental health is NEVER a burden to ANYONE.

You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a full and fulfilling life.

Think about this: if someone you care about came to you and said, “I need to talk about my mental health with you…” OF COURSE you would have that conversation. OF COURSE you would do whatever you can, from simply listening to actively getting on the phone with a counselor or therapist, to make sure that the person you care about and love can get help, so they can live their best life.

OF COURSE you would do that, because you are a kind and loving person who deserves to have good friends who feel comfortable opening up to you, right?

So *OF COURSE* you can talk to people you love and who love you back about your mental health, and you are not a burden. I promise.

Here, I’m going to give you a buff: If you still feel like a burden (I get it), I GIVE YOU PERMISSION to talk about your mental health without feeling like a burden. If anyone makes you feel like you’re a burden, you send them to me, and I’ll handle them.

You deserve to be happy.
You are not alone.
You are loved.
You are valued.
You matter.
YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN.

That’s not to say my campaign didn’t have issues. It has a lot of issues, and I’m actually pretty worried about them. All of the issues that I’ve seen have nothing to do with the system, have nothing to do with the campaign… they all have to do with meatspace-related factors that are really hard to get around.


Time Issues

One of the things I’ve noticed that I’m
having a harder time with is time vs. the number of players I have. Our
role playing nights are heavily constrained by time. We meet once every
two weeks (the alternating week is a different campaign run by someone
else) and we start at 19:00, ending at 21:30. That gives us 2.5 hours
or, more realistically, two hours.

Two hours isn’t enough time for
my games, the way they’re run now. I keep having to shorten combats (as
otherwise they end up running the game really late), and that’s not
fair for the players who are looking forward to stabbing something. I
keep having to cut off banter between players, as it is taking up over
half of our time available (as you’ll see in the next adventure
update)… and that’s not fair for the players who are using this as
their primary social interaction.

It sucks. I think my
adventures might be better suited toward a “once a month, five hours on a
Sunday” type of thing instead, and that’s… not so great for my
players.

A couple of things I have done:

  • Change how I handle Initiative.
  • Basically, I put everyone’s names on notecards (along with any foe) and sort them by rolled init. I call out whomever is first and give a heads-up if another PC is after that so they can plan their turn.
  • This works great for the PCs that actually plan their turn. Problem being, I only have two of those.
  • It did stop me from forgetting enemy turns at least, so that’s nice.
  • I’m trying out a new init system in the intermission adventures. More on that in that write-up.
  • Keep track of time.
    • I’m using computers in some way anyway, so I can always see a clock. I keep track of time and try to poke people along if I notice a scene taking a bit too long.
    • Unfortunately, it makes me feel bad because some of these scenes are great… if I had fewer players, that is.

    Players

    I
    love my players, I really do, but I have six of them, two of which are
    playing remotely in another timezone. It makes running the game quite
    difficult; I don’t have the ability to give each player time to shine in
    each game when the game only ends up lasting two hours. My ideal player
    count is three, for reference, so six is a problem. I don’t want
    to kick people out of the game, so this is a bit of a problem. In six
    or so months, we’ll be down to five players semi-permanently, so this
    will get slightly better. Also, I have two players who tend to drown out
    other players in terms of volume (both audio volume and frequency of
    speaking). I don’t really have a great answer for this problem,
    unfortunately.

    Also, few of my players actually respond to
    anything outside of the session itself. That’s rather infuriating to me,
    as it means I can’t prep all that easily.


    Remote Play

    The
    remote play is being a bit of a problem, as that causes issues with
    interactivity – I can’t give physical props around without literally
    snail-mailing them, I can’t easily draw out a map on the fly (although
    I’m working on that), and I can’t use audio or lighting to my advantage.

    There are, however, a lot of things I have solved for remote play, and I thought I’d share some of that in this section. Most of them are tech based.

    • What I’d like to do at some point is use
      two cameras – one on me, one on the players in the room. I haven’t had
      much of a chance of looking into this, as I’m concerned that I’m going
      to start having audio sync issues from this, but I think this is
      doable… provided that I’m okay with stretching a cord across the room.
    • The video capture device itself is a Startech USB3HDCAP, for reference. Works well, no real complaints.
    • I can use the video output on my
      Surface Pro 3 as a video input into my video capture device, throwing an
      HDMI switch in front of it. It’ll work, although it means running a
      cord across my living room again.
    • Other option, and the one I’m
      going to try this week if I have enough time, is to use video capture
      software on my laptop to capture the contents of my Android tablet. Then
      all I should need is a drawing app on my tablet (I have seven
      installed) and I should be good to go.
    • It doesn’t help with improvised things
      though. My adventures this act have been around 60% improv, 40% prep,
      and that’s about twice as much prep as normal for me.

    Time to prep

    I’ve… had a rough year, to put it politely, and that’s left me with little brainpower to spend on prep. Naturally, this is the most prep heavy campaign I’ve had in over a decade. I keep having to cut some corners on my prep and I don’t like it.

    The biggest corner cut so far is that I don’t actually have a map of the Cormick City-State. It has been on my list of things to do for over six months now and all I have is a vague idea as to where a few key areas are. Heck, until the last adventure, two of my PCs didn’t even know that it is a port town or that it was built on a river!

    I love drawing maps, and it hurts me to not have one of my lovely megalopolis. It also hurts that I don’t have detailed bits about other things – for instance, having prepared descriptions of random NPCs and the like. I’m spending my prep time on the adventures (where it matters more, to be fair) and less on the things that make the adventure more fully fleshed out.

    This… I don’t know if it’ll ever get better. :(

    I had decided to plan this campaign in terms of Acts.

    Act 1 was, effectively, the party getting to know each other, starting to explore a new land, finding a new home, and convincing others that this is the Best Place. It took 15 adventures, ending three weeks ago as of when I’m posting this write-up. Below the cut is my general planning notes and so on, a sort-of behind-the-curtain approach. No worries about spoilers now, since the act is finished and I’m only talking about things that have been revealed.

    I planned on 6-8 adventures, for reference. There’s been a lot of challenges with this campaign, and I wanted to talk about them. The issues (and some solutions) are in the next post.

    Act 1 Structure

    Basically, my general outline looked like this:

    Introductions -> Exploration -> Players get bored and return to typical adventuring -> I plan out the rest then.

    I seriously doubted that my players would enjoy exploring what is basically a new world. My whole initial plan was that I’d do the prep work for that new world, but also have a bunch of things in there in case the players had an Ooo Shiny moment. That… happened, but not in the way I was expecting. That’s good – I think 5 of the 6 players are really enjoying this exploration-focused campaign, and the sixth is still fine with it.

    Once it became clear that they wanted to play in my sandbox, my outline changed to this:

    Introductions -> Exploration -> Conflict -> Planning -> Return -> Conflict -> Vote.

    That’s at least close to how things ended up. In reality, it looked like this:

    Introductions -> Exploration -> Exploration -> Return -> Conflict/Planning -> Vote


    Rails

    Let’s talk about that dreadful DM trick of putting people on rails. I… really don’t do that. I put in some guidelines that I recommend you don’t cross, but that’s about it. What I mean is that my adventure planning doesn’t go “all right, they will do X, then they will do Y, then Z happens, then…”

    It goes like this, and this is a summarized snippet from my actual prep:

    • Players have said that they want to continue on to another potential city site, Site C.
    • Site C has a lot of personal hazards involved – remnants of an old demonic biomunitions factory, leftover mimics all over the place, and a few other things they didn’t actually find.
    • Threats to them directly are minimal – they’ll generally succeed as long as they don’t fiddle with things.
    • When they fiddle:
    • Weaponized Coconuts act like a very strong cannon blast. Can potentially KO (but not kill) the weakest party member.
    • Mimics will eat them alive if they get the drop.
    • They won’t send the mage to open a door like that, so that should be fine.
  • There is an underground Thieves’ Den that has some useful things in it. They won’t find it without thoroughly investigating.
  • Gateway to Lem. If they do investigate enough, they’re almost certainly going to stumble over it. Lem’s been waiting for a while, after all. See NPC page for Lem.
  • If they leave early / conflicts nearby:
    • Nearby forest has spiders and a Nightmare in it. They already know about the spiders and will probably figure out the Nightmare.
    • Mountains to the east make it unlikely they’ll want to travel that way. If they do, <spoilers here>.
    • They can continue on to Site D. See notes for Site D.
  • If they dawdle too long:
    • Rain will occur in two more days. While no longer EvilRain, it still poses a threat to the party by virtue of it being a mini-monsoon.
    • Creatures will escape the worst areas, going through Site C, so they’ll probably start getting into conflicts here.

    See what I mean? The players are the ones who told me what they were going to do (at the end of the previous adventure) and all I’m doing is working around them planning-wise. They’re free to leave at any time and I’ll adapt, but there are some geographic clues in that this is the region they want to be in. It isn’t Railroading as I have no idea what they’re going to do (although I’m pretty good at predicting it), but it isn’t a complete free-form game either; I know they’re not going to want to spend the time going through mountains, so that’s effectively a barrier to them for the time being.

    This is one of the areas of GMing that I’ve been praised on, and I’ve generally followed a similar pattern with respect to rails vs. sandbox ever since. This particular game is a bit more sandboxy than my normal, but that’s part of the premise.


    Conflicts

    I’m… not so great with D&D combat. In fact, due to time issues (see my next post), I’m not so great at combats as a whole. My games usually average a combat every other adventure, and this one had six combats in fifteen adventures. However, that’s not the only type of conflict.

    As the PCs already know, there are eight groups of people investigating Dis. Each group of people are separated out a bit… except for one pair. The PCs are one member of that pair, and there is another group that they were pretty much inevitably going to encounter.

    They weren’t going to be hostile, but potentially unintelligible and were probably going to cause some problems if they weren’t addressed early enough. What I didn’t know was how they were going to resolve it – after all, this was like the third adventure or something.

    The conflict mentioned is that a parade of Water Elementals were going through the river right next to the party as one of the “events” that was going to happen within the first few days the PCs were on Dis. I rolled to see which day it would happen, and it happened on day one or two (I can’t remember which now). No one in the party knew Aquan, but someone did know Tongues… on both sides of the groups, as it turned out. They ended up initiating conversation and talking with a random water elemental, who eventually directed them to their so-called leader, a djinn of some variety.

    The party was quite diplomatic (not too surprising in hindsight) and the two groups are generally on friendly terms with each other. Without that first encounter though, they were going to be royal pains in the neck of the party throughout the first act (and likely beyond). Basically, my players are really good at avoiding conflict when feasible, and I always like to make multiple options on how to resolve something possible.

    The other major conflict that I knew was going to happen was back in the city. As the PCs are now aware, there is something fishy going on in the City-State, and at least some of that fishiness has to do with Necromancy. There were several potential events that the players would end up seeing throughout the city when they returned, and they hit the nasty one right off the bat.

    There is also the whole Bertrum thing (that I knew was going to be an end-of-act boss, unless if they abandoned the whole Homestead plot entirely). I figured that one would end in combat, although I was surprised that they didn’t pick up on the hints a bit earlier.

    All other conflicts that they were working through? Yeah, those were all improvised or just “hazards” planned, like the above. These three were the only ones that were planned from the beginning and everything else was going to be based on how the PCs did things. They… wanted to explore. So I let them explore.


    Exploration / World Building

    Oh boy did they explore. They actually explored pretty much the entire region I had expected them to explore throughout acts one and two, which is a majority of the reason why it took longer than I expected. They found two very powerful entities that they’re seemingly on friendly terms with, they’ve discovered the prior mentioned water elementals, they’ve looked at all of the potential city sites I had spotted out ahead of time in their little region of Dis… really, they hit all of the high points (and several of the detailed points). A lot of this I prepped well in advance; I had the regional map completed by the end of the third adventure and I have a less-specific world map completed by the fourth.

    I enjoy world building, and I got the distinct idea that the players enjoyed it as well.

    One thing I’m a bit disappointed in is the general lack of wonder as how weird Dis really is to them. Mion (the world that everyone in the party came from) exists on the inside of a cube world. The stars and planets seen from Mion are rips in space that allow them to see outside of the cube, and the sun is a giant heat source that sinks into the waters to the east and west on a daily basis. Dis, on the other hand, is a much more realistic world – round world, orbits a star, etc. Problem being, that’s what is “normal” to the players, so I think that fell a bit flat. My fault.


    Progression / Rewards

    This campaign is a bit lighter than normal in terms of rewards. Mostly because they were out in the middle of nowhere and the rewards were things they’d find. No one was paying them (yet) to do this, they weren’t taking loot off of dead monsters, they were explorers.

    On the other hand, I sped up XP growth a bit. I don’t think the players noticed, given how at least one of them was complaining about how slow they were leveling, but that’s because I wasn’t exactly giving it to them easy. Things hit hard and fast because I didn’t have enough combats to justify a more traditional D&D grind. The party went from level 4 at the start of the act to level 8 by the end.

    Also, in case if anyone is curious: I like starting PCs out at level 4. They’re still low enough level to have fun with, but they’re getting abilities that make them a bit more unique compared to each other. I mean, there are two monks in the party with almost-identical stats (swapping Charisma and Intelligence, basically); without having some of their monk path abilities, they’d be completely identical mechanically.


    Beyond Act 1

    At the moment, they’re in Intermission adventures. Basically, I gave the PCs some downtime for what they want to do, and they wanted to go start a sidequest they received from Lem a while ago. So, I did some planning and prep (for once, this sidequest is around 80% Prep / 20% Improv) and set them out on it. It’ll give me more time to set up Act 2.

    Act 2 will start when the PCs return to Dis with their colonists and start making the town. It’ll have a lot more time skips, as I don’t think the players are all that interested in mundane day-to-day life stuff. Act 2 will probably have less exploration (although still the dominant factor in the adventures, most likely) and more political intrigue.

    Last time on The Dining Campaign

    The South Cormick Tax Association (read: Thieves’ Guild) revolted by some means, leaving a whole lot of very unhappy people (and tax collections halted via strike). Meanwhile, part of the party went after an orb of hallucinations… er… prophecy, which gave them disturbing visions of the future.

    Present in this adventure:

    • Elena, Elven Rogue-like-Bard
    • Nocturne, Tiefling Cleric-like-Sorceress
    • Galwyn, Gnome Paladin-like-Cleric
    • Karma, Orcish Drunk-like-Monk
    • Dharma, Human Saijin-like-Monk

    NPCs mentioned in this adventure:

    • Defender Yani Tyverius, Orcish Paladin of the Altecian Temple (and representative from the Unity Council on Religion)
    • Grothurn Faan, Archmagi and head of the Mage’s Guild of South Cormick
    • Horin, Halfling Arcane Trickster and representative of the South Cormick Tax Association (read: Thieves’ Guild)
    • Myra Cormick, Succubus Mayor of South Cormick.

    • Tanzain Habib, de-facto leader of the Merchant’s Guild / Habib Conglomerate 

    • Cheryl, a local seamstress and the jurist member of the city council.
    • Bertrum, an adventurer from a different search party than the PCs. Enchanter/Necromancer? No one is quite sure.

    This is the adventure where the proverbial excrement hit the ventilation systemthe City-State of Cormick Council Meeting.

    First, the party had learned (either in Adventure 14 or in this adventure) that three members of the council would not be attending. Tanzain had a prior appointment with the Habib Conglomerate and, when the council meeting was rescheduled, had a conflict he couldn’t deal with. Two others, however, did not attend – both Grothern Faan and Horin were no-shows. All three had sent their hidden ballots along in advance.

    The party attended the council meeting held in the Tower of Power – the original tower that once held all of South Cormick (no really – this was from the original one-shot that started the previous campaigns). It had been spruced up to act as a meeting hall for Very Special Occasions – like a meeting that might dictate the future of South Cormick’s population and the population of the refugees that are starting to trickle in from the disaster of the city of Cannot Reach Because Cat*. Hundreds of people from town were in attendance.

    The party put their diplomatic faces on and argued their case. They quickly realized they might not quite have had as much support as they thought, as Cheryl started asking some pretty important fiscal questions that led to some negative feelings.

    The vote came back 4-3 in their favor, however, likely due to their persuasion skills (read: it was 5-2 against before they started talking to NPCs, but the party didn’t know that). As the meeting drew to a close, someone voiced an objection.

    That someone was a 25? long skeletal dragon. That objection was a breath weapon attack on a surprise round, hitting the literal hundreds of people in that room. Lots of casualties, including bringing Cheryl to the brink of death and heavily injuring the remaining present members of the council… except Myra.

    Myra, on the other hand, got charmed right before, by a surprise guest – Bertrum.

    Bertrum was a mage of an adventuring party similar to this one. One that failed. They went off exploring a different plane with only a few members coming back. The party knew this, as they went around asking about the people in the party. The only bits that were being repeated were, basically, “Poor Bertrum. They never found his body!”

    The party, naively, thought the phrase was that he was killed. Ha ha ha NOPE. Bertrum attacked the party. Strangely, Elena had actually figured most of this out ahead of time, but didn’t put enough pieces together to figure out exactly who on the party attacked. Well, the cat’s out of the bag now, as Bertrum arrives on the scene, being pleased as punch in charming what he viewed as his greatest foe.

    The battle was hard fought… but short. Partially because we didn’t get to the battle until late in the adventure and partially because of some amazing rolls. Defender Tyverius (She’s SUPER EFFECTIVE against undead dragons, who knew!) and Commander Horus joined them, as did a contingent of guards with handguns (which mostly missed, but eh, thoughts counting and all).

    The party all scattered and focused on backup. Karma went to go help Cheryl, surprising pretty much everyone, and actually managed to bring her back from the brink of death. Elena countered the charm effect on Myra (with, once more, a super lucky roll). Myra pretended to still be charmed afterward, but gave Elena a knowing wink. Galwyn helped her comrade-in-faith (even if it is a different / opposing faith) and went all smitey on the dragon. Dharma went after the dragon as well, swapping to Bertrum after finding his attacks less effective than normal. Nocturne played support (firing a few volleys at Bertrum as well), but ended up a bit distracted by Myra.

    After deciding that the ruse has played its purpose, Myra cast Harm on Bertrum. A Divine Sorcerer magic sourced Harm, of the identical casting style and effect (although more powerful) as Nocturne. Nocturne may have finally found her first lead about her family.

    After a bit, the party + support helped take out the Bone Dragon. They took out Bertrum shortly after, whose body simply disappeared. Turns out that Bertrum was a simulacrum – very powerful necromancy that allows someone to basically create a lesser double of themselves. Also explains the whole “never found his body” part.

    * – not the actual name, but I couldn’t reach my notes at the time and the name has kind of stuck. I’m probably going to rename the city something that would have the initials CRBC somehow.