I’m guilty as all hell.
Guilty of working on the Obsidian Portal wiki for the game rather than posting here. It’s my own fault and I make no apologies. You see, we started the new game last night. Ad Astra Per Arcana has kicked off the latest campaign in the Planejammer series as it enters it’s thirty-first year!
Before I go on about the new game and our experiments with video conferencing I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us. Our Spelljoined campaign, affectionately referred to as the Cincinnati game, won Obsidian Portal’s Campaign of the Year for 2011. I’ll be sharing photos of the trophy full of dice as soon as it arrives in the mail!
With the new game we decided to bring in one of the players from The Spelljoined via video. With modern technology four state lines should be as nothing to a bunch of determined gamers. First we tried the Hangouts function on Google+ which held up reasonably well for a while. Unfortunately as time wore on and we had been using it for an hour or so the video and audio artifacts began to multiply like orcs in an adventurer free zone.
Since we had Mac devices on each end we decided to try Facetime from the Mac desktop here in New Orleans. Without an available external mic we were limited to the factory offering. This was still not cutting it.
Then I had an inspiration – what about my iPhone? It’s got Facetime and relatively decent volume when in speaker mode.
At first it was clunky, but I think it turns out to be the best bet when only bringing one player into the came virtually like we were. I ran an audio-out to my stereo system and we adjusted her volume to the average conversational level of the room and it worked out perfectly.
We used a small stand for the iPhone so we could rotate her view, which took a bit of work. One terrific aspect of this approach, despite the extra work of playing camera-man as well as DM, came when doing combat. Unlike a stationary webcam I could easily rotate her view of the battle mat and miniatures, even setting the iPhone down on the battle mat itself. This afforded an on the ground view most players never see, one that garnered quite a look of surprise from Emily when we tried it.
While we have not looked into Skype yet, a service I use a lot but that was not available on the other end, I don’t thing we will need to. Despite the trailing audio cable using the iPhone in the way seems to offer the easiest way to really bring a single player to the table over long distance.
Between that and Obsidian Portal for managing character sheets and game data we have the makings of a great tool set for bringing in guest stars and other long distance gamers. In the future we will be trying to reboot the Spelljoined as a purely online game. Whether Hangouts, Oovoo, or Skype end up being our best bet for a game where everybody is on webcam remains to be seen, but I’ll make sure to report on our experiments as they evolve.
One last quick announcement. If you’re looking for a new fantasy novel to read on your Kindle? Check out Eria by Andrew Sanderson with the cover done by Planejammer artist, Emily Vitori, as it’s free for the next two days!
If you’ve been gaming over video I’d love to hear about what has and has not worked for your group, let us know in the comments or circle the Planejammer page on Google+ and interact!Read More
Statblocks are wonderful things. They are a nice, compact, and standardized was of presenting information ranging from cities, to ships, to NPCs.
Since it seems there are so many gamers out there bereft of a game, and so many DMs looking for players, that a stat block for campaigns might be in order. After all, if you’re looking for a game wouldn’t it be great to be able to get the pertinent details about play style and options right off the bat?
I’ve been using a simple one for years now and it’s worked very well, saves a lot of time when screening new players. It’s basically as follows:
Rules: List the rules system and whatever add on’s you plan to use – critical hit decks, additional source books, etc. .
Setting: What world will you be playing in? Is it an established setting like the Forgotten Realms, a homebrew world, or something else?
Rating: I generally use movie style ratings (G, PG, R, etc.) along with warnings if adult themes will be addressed.
Emphasis: It is mostly combat, mostly role playing, or a blend of the two. Will it be heroic in nature or grim and gritty?
Psionics: Are there psionics in this campaign, if so are they treated as standard or differently.
Firearms: Do they exist? Are they primitive or advanced?
Starting Level: This is where you denote low, medium or high level games
Starting Characters: List any options beyond the core rules that players have access to while generating their characters.
Game Night: How often, how long per session, and location.
For Example, the statblock for my main game is:
Planejammer: The Spelljoined
Rules: Pathfinder, augmented with a large variety of non core WOTC books and third-party publications as well as extensive house rules. We also use the Paizo Critical Hit and Critical Fumble decks.
Setting: Spelljammer / Planescape [This means that most standard / homebrew settings can exist somewhere in the multiversal framework.]
Rating: Adult themes, NSFW.
Emphasis: Role Playing, not roll playing. XP bonuses for good characterization and role-playing are standard. XP Bonuses are standard for creating setting material- character journals, sketches, etc.
Psionics: Yes, using Psionics Unleashed for core psionic rules. Psionics are different, limited.
Firearms: Emerging Firearms
Starting Level: 3rd, Generated according to our campaign standard.
Starting Characters: Due to the multiplanar nature of the setting all character concepts will be considered. Eberron, Ptolus, Ravenloft, Greyhawk, Planescape, d20 Modern, Dragonstar, Dragonlance, Spelljammer, Iron Kingdoms and most other d20 based settings are subsets of the main game and are valid choices.
Game Night: Thursday Evenings 7-11 pm, starting early October 2010 at Mardi Gras Manor in Northside Cincinnati. All attendees must follow the rules of the house.
I have a campaign statblock on the home page of each of my games on Obsidian Portal as well. I find it makes it easier on casual readers.
Hope you’ve found this useful, good gaming!Read More
Not wanting to catch anyone by surprise I wanted to throw up a few quick notes on some of the changes between 3.5 and Pathfinder. As I have noted to our players, anything for 3.5 that have is probably legal. It is almost a case of adding something rather than taking something away when converting to Pathfinder, they designed it that way. I think you will enjoy the new rules once you’ve had a chance to try them!
So here are some of the basics:
Character Advancement: Pathfinder built characters use the XP chart found here: Classes; using the Slow Progression as the default. It will take more XP to level at higher levels than in 3.5; but this is offset by the fact that Pathfinder awards larger XP values and the DM’s bonues for role playing. In addition, works that expand on the campaign universe- character sketches, in character journals, etc. – receive XP bonuses as well.
I’m sure everyone will be pleased to hear that in Pathfinder characters gain a feat at every odd level rather than every 3; allowing for more and earlier customization (getting your 3rd feat at 5th level, then 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, etc).
Skill Changes: Firstly cross class skills now cost the same as class skills, to make up for this you get a +3 to each class skill to balance it out. In addition several skills were consolidated in Pathfinder. The skill info can be found here: Using Skills and Skill List.
Favored Classes: Multi-class penalties no longer exist. You may multiclass freely as you wish. However upon character creation you may declare a favored class for your PC (not a prestige class). Each level you take in that class grants you either +1 HP or +1 skill point for each level in that class.
Combat Changes: Pathfinder combat is mostly like 3.5 combat, but has had a few major changes.
- Concentration is no longer a skill. A caster making a concentration check rolls 1d20 + CL + key ability + other modifiers (such as feats). Concentrating while being grappled is now much more difficult; having a DC of 10 + grappler’s combat maneuver bonus (see below) + the spell level.
- Combat Maneuvers: All the colorful stuff -Bull-rush, Disarm, Grapple, and Tripping, etc. were rolled into a single mechanic. All PCs have a Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and a Combat Maneuver Defense (CMB) for combat maneuvers. A character’s CMB is their BAB + Strength + Size Modifier + other modifiers. This is rolled versus a character’s CMD, which is 10 + their BAB + Strength and Dex + Size modifier + other modifiers.
- Size: Creature size modifiers to combat maneuvers were halved (+1 large, +2 huge, +4 gargantuan, +8 colossal, reversing it for small, tiny, diminutive, and fine). Now success in these maneuvers relies more on skill and training.
- Acrobatics (Tumble) checks to avoid opportunity attacks now are rolled against the attacker’s CMD as a DC (thus a 20th level fighter is much more difficult to tumble past than a 1st level hadozee shaman).
- Use Rope was removed. Tying someone up can now be done as part of a grapple (with a -10 penalty to attempt to tie them while they struggle), or if they are unconscious or otherwise unable to resist it is done without checks. The DC to escape the bonds is 20 + CMB of the person who tied you up; and it keeps you pinned; and suffer from the Pinned condition.
- Poison now deals its damage over multiple rounds rather than all at once.
- Disease also changed mechanically.
- Wild Shape and all the polymorph spells (such as alter self, polymorph, shapechange and similar spells got nerfed into very effective but far less abuse friendly forms.
- Some Spells got reduced in power due, which corrected a lot of the casters are gods issues.
- All the classes got adjusted. Most of them simply gained new toys that make them viable through all 20 levels. Druid and Cleric had a variety of changes -druid because wild-shape doesn’t allow you to min-max-murder and cleric lost heavy armor proficiency and some spells, but now gets a free martial weapon and better turning mechanic.
-Loki, DMRead More
To generate your character’s statistics, use my standard method:
- roll 4d6,reroll ones and take the highest three dice
- do this six times; arrange the scores to suit. (Remember that stats are now more forgiving than in 2E – bonuses start at 12.)
- For hit points, a character gets maximum hit points for his first character level, and then rolls normally for all other (and future) character levels.
Your PC will begin with three character levels to spend on class (one or more) and race (yes, some races cost a character level). This translates to 3000 experience points. This also means that you will have 2700 gold pieces to spend on starting equipment (more on that later).
Class choices are pretty extensive. You are free to choose from any of the core classes , or any classes that appear in most official WOTC publications, Malhavoc publications, or Dreamscarred Press publications. The DM is always available for consultation.
Character race also gives you many options. In addition to the races presented in the core materials, there are a number of races specific to the Planescape and Spelljammer settings which appear in our house rules book. The Races series from WOTC is considered cannon for our games as well. In addition to race, you also have to choose whether your character is from the Material Plane (a Prime) or native to the Outer/Inner Planes (a Planar).Read More
These are two games put out by WOTC. Three Dragon Ante is a card game and Inn Fighting is a card/dice game. They are both supposed to have the advantage of extensible rules that allow playing them in character during a Dungeons and Dragons game.
I’ve had Three Dragon Ante for awhile now and as a standalone card game its great. WOTC has even put the rules up online so that your players can easily snag a copy. (There is also a more straightforward presentation of the rules up on Wikipedia, FYI.) While I have not tried out the “in character” option as yet it looks solid. Basically if you have more than five ranks in any of a number of skills you gain a special ability to use while playing. I’ll report back on that once we have tested it out.Read More
I love 3.5, it is my favorite incarnation of the rules. I love the versatility, the level of detail, and the infinite variety of ways in which one can leverage the rules. I also am aware of its shortcomings.
One of the system’s biggest issues (beyond polymorph and grapple) is the sheer amount of time it takes to generate NPCs or monsters. Sure via advancement in class levels or any of a wide variety of templates you can achieve anything, but it seems to take forever. Especially if you are creating something complex, say an Axiomatic Bipedal Dire Lion for instance.
Dingle’s Games to the rescue! With their online DND 3.5 Monster Generator they have given valuable hours back to the DMs of the world. Check out this screencast to see how it works, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did. Creating a complex creature with class levels now only needs to tak up about 10 minutes instead of two hours. Granted you can’t dig deeply enough into it to assign individual skill points, but the choices the software makes have so far been acceptable.
I encourage players in my campaigns to use this when creating followers from now on. Gary, this one’s for you!Read More
We, the undersigned……
- Demand a rules system that is consistent, clear and concise in all respects
- Want one book that contains character generation, the game rules and a wide and inspiring selection of opponents
- Expect regular supplements which take the game in fun, exciting and unexpected directions. Give us new monsters, new rules and new ideas, not formulaic repetition and rehashes of previous material
- Need published adventures created by the best minds in the industry that are fun to run and don’t require multiple rule books and monster manuals open at the table just to run a simple encounter. Give us all we need to run the encounter straight off the page
- Demand a system which works with (but doesn’t demand) miniatures, an internet connection or an electronic gaming aid. Let us choose how we play rather than be dictated by the financial interests of your company. Get this right and the profits will follow. Have faith in your customers, and they will have faith in you
- Want a combat system which can scale with the number of opponents, whether it’s a single foe or a thousand screaming goblins.
- Expect to be able to be able to create and customise monsters and NPCs simply, whether we be planning a scenario or sat at the table mid-game. We demand simplicity.
- Want stat blocks which take up a few lines of text, not a whole page
- Demand character generation that is as flexible and unrestricted as possible
- Expect the rules system to reflect the genre, not mould the genre into it’s image
- Want game designers who listen, not preach; improve, not re-invent; and inspire, not promote.
- Require a freely downloadable Test Drive Preview of the game with which we can run a sample adventure from start to end.
In return, we will…..
- Advocate, promote and play this game at every opportunity
- Make this game our game through customization of the classes, features and game world
- Introduce new players to the game, and thereby expand the hobby and profits of the company
- Buy the game, buy the supplements and buy the adventures, for they will be good, and worth our hard earned cash
- Have fun and be very, very happy indeed!!
Greywulf, ardent gamer.
(add your name in the comments and/or cross-post in your blog if you agree).Read More
Open to all current and former participants in any of the Planejammer series of Campaigns. Click the bar above to check it out!Read More
Since we are bringing in new faces for this campaign I thought it for the best to post these right from the outset:
Gaming Group Guidelines
1. The primary law for Face-To-Face games: Everyone’s on their honor in the game. Many of the following suggestions are to help maintain player-player trust within the group, but in general, everyone’s on their honor to track their hitpoints, spells, magic items, equipment, et cetera.
2. Non-PC Tomes: No player may reference non-player-oriented tomes (ie the DMG or the various Monster Manuals) during the game without express permission of the DM. It ruins the full impact of the scenario for you and for the DM.
3. Die Rolls: All rolls must be witnessed by at least one other player. No rolls may be made ahead of time, but only when the DM requests it. Warm-up rolls will be accepted, but they must be clearly announced before the dice leaves your hand, if they are not pre-announced then it counts as your roll.
4. Out-Of-Game Comments: Please try to avoid non-game conversations once the game has started. If you must do so, then I ask that you take non-game conversations away from the table. It disturbs the game.
5. New Members: Once the campaign has started, new members to the gaming group require unanimous approval of current group members, after three sessions to get a sample of how they roleplay.
6. Attendance: I will not run a game based in the current campaign if more than 2 of the players are not present. (We may still run an isolated one shot, but it won’t be to the detriment of the normal campaign.)
7. Absenteeism: During periods where there is a waiting list to play in the campaign, any player that misses three sessions in a row (or three sessions during any rolling period of six sessions) is considered to have voluntarily resigned their seat at the table, and offers to play are extended to those on the waiting list. This automatic resignation can be overridden by unanimous approval of the current group.
8. It is the player’s responsibility to create a character that can work and play well with others. If the character can’t, then the player shouldn’t be playing that character in my game. If the party has to split up, the amount of time each “side” gets will be proportional to the number of members in that group, modified by the importance of the group’s activities as they relate to the group’s goals. For example, rogues that are always going off for breaking and entering, or pickpocketing, that isn’t in line with the party’s goals will get very little “air time,” compared to the rest of the group and their pursuit of the party goals.
9. Please clean up after yourself. If you bring food or drinks to the game, throw your trash away at the end of the night. Flush the toilet when you’re done; that kind of thing. If it’s my house, I’d prefer not to have to clean up after everyone. If we’re gaming somewhere else, I’d hate for us to lose the ability to game at a particular location because we didn’t give the host the respect of cleaning up after ourselves.
-Flynn, rebooted by Loki