Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another D&D Game, Another D&D Post

This week's Tuesday game was D&D. In this game I'm playing a dwarven cleric and I am less than enthralled with the character.

In this week's game we had to deal with a giant tree-thing that used to be an Orcus cultist, but gave herself over to Orcus so she could "live forever." A side-effect of her little ceremony was to animate a bunch of the undead in the graveyard.

The DM (John) came up with a cool random-effect generator -- a stack of cards that he flipped over each round -- so that more zombies would spew out at random or a flaming pit would appear or treasure would erupt out of graves, etc. It was very cool.

The wizard Taeryn (played by Kristian) and the ranger Balasaar (Mike) had good success targetting the zombies from range and taking out scads of them, although Balasaar ran into some trouble when he ran into the mausoleum to deal with the tree-thing and had to flee.

The rest of us (my cleric, Seth's warlord, and Wil's fighter) dealth with things as they burst out of the ground nearby and tried to make our way to the mausoleum. This is where my problems started.

The cleric isn't meant to run around solo. Sure, he can deal damage like anyone, but he doesn't have any good area attacks that help him to power through a handful of lame-o zombie minions. So when a crew of four zombies pop up nearby Rufus (my cleric) has to spend 4+ rounds killing them before he can move on unless someone else lends a hand, which happened a bit. And the whole time I was examining the character trying to figure out why he wasn't fun for me and I came up with two things:

1) he needs to be part of a group for his powers to have their desired effect and we were very spread out in this game, and

2) the cleric's buffing effects don't seem either extreme or interesting enough to really carry the class. Or maybe it's that I don't find the powers to be extreme or interesting enough.

Thankfully at the end of the night we'd gained enough experience to gain a level so I gained a 3rd level attack power and swapped out a lower level power for one I hope will be a bit more interesting.

The DM has offered to let me swap out my character, but I think I want to experiment with what's available to me before I give up on him.

As I said in my last post; magic is really what I groove on in fantasy games and I guess I was hoping the cleric's effects might be cool enough to keep my interest. So far they're not, but maybe I'll find a combination of powers that work for me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday D&D

My Sunday crew has had a hard time getting together regularly over the last few months. Summers are always full of conventions, vacations, and other events that disrupt our weekend gaming. Anyway, now that it's firmly into Fall, the game as picked up again. Since what we were playing was interrupted, we decided to start a new D&D game run by one of the guys who hasn't run anything for us before. I missed the first session, but jumped into the second one with no problems. Here's the set up:

We're members of the Waterdeep guard and in the first session the other players did some questionable things that have earned our group a bad reputation. (I guess stopping people from looting an inn, then taking it over for yourselves just didn't sit well with some.) So, we were sent out of town to take care of a problem at a nearby monastary and along the way hilarity ensues.

I don't really need to get into the details of the story. What I really wanted to concentrate on was my character and the play experience. I'm playing a human wizard who's all about control (this is 4th edition D&D, if I hadn't mentioned that), so he uses an orb to extend his controlling abilities, and he has a number of spells that slow, daze, immobilize, or in some way hinder his targets.

I had a blast! This is the first session in which I felt like I was consistently effective and that the powers I was using were not only cool, but that they were helping the other characters. I was able to stand back out of harms way (mostly) and tie up our opponents, which made it easier for the hand-to-hand members of the party to step up and do their thing.

I realized a few years ago what I really enjoy about D&D and gaming in general: Magic. Sure it's fun to chop people up with a sword or get in a really good backstab, but magic and spells are where it's at for me. They effects are cooler and more varied and the way they "look" in the game is also cooler. "I blast you with a fireball" is so much more satisfying to me than, "I slice you with my greatsword."

Anyway, I was happy to finally have that response to the game. So far I've felt a little separated from the new system, probably because I've been analyzing it a bit. Sunday's game broke that down for me and I really had a good time. Hopefully that will carry over to my Tuesday night game (tonight!).

This post makes me wonder what others think of the new system in terms of the "fun factor". Have you been able to just enjoy the game and what your character can do? Is it too fiddly? (With the minis and various effects, etc.) Do you feel constrained by the powers? Or is it hitting on all cylinders for you?

I'll fill you in on any cool events from tonight's game. I think it's going to be all about zombie killing, so I may get to use Turn Undead finally.

Friday, October 24, 2008

M&M: The Home Team

This last Tuesday night I ran the first session of my new Mutants & Masterminds game. I'd brought up the idea a week or two earlier and in the brief discussion that followed the players decided that they wanted to play a group of heroes that were already a team and they wanted to play in a fairly straightforward Golden Age game.

The game is set in early 1942 (although I forgot that it was winter in the first game, whoops) and the characters have been recruited to be the "Home Team" while the other heroes are off fighting on the frontlines or carrying out Top Secret missions. They'd only just met at the beginning of the first session when they were being shown around their new base; a tricked out Brownstone in Cape City.

Cape City is my homebrew setting for many of my superhero games over the last 10-12 years. It's very Freedom City/Astro City in feel. Oh, and it's named Cape City because it's actually located on a cape (the geological formation, not the article of clothing). I like using Cape City because I know a lot about it and can easily pull ideas out of my head for running games, but I can also alter things in the city to fit whatever's appropriate or interesting for the latest game.

I wanted to post the write-ups for the characters, so everyone can see what I have to work with. It's an interesting team with some pretty normal characters as well as some more . . . challenging ones. Oh, I'm using the Hero Lab software to create all the heroes and villains. It's a great program that also allows me to output the characters in HTML like you see below. Here they are.


The man who would become Patriot was born and killed in the 1700s. He was the first American to die in defense of the country at the start of the War for Independence. He was "reborn" shortly thereafter and has been fighting to defend the country ever since. (Played by Seth Johnson.)

Power Level: 8; Power Points Spent: 120/120

STR: +4 (18), DEX: +3 (16), CON: +4 (18), INT: +2 (14), WIS: +3 (16), CHA: +5 (20)

Tough: +11, Fort: +6, Ref: +5, Will: +4

Skills: Diplomacy 8 (+13), Gather Information 6 (+11), Notice 6 (+9), Search 5 (+7), Sense Motive 7 (+10)

Feats: Benefit - Diplomatic Immunity 1, Benefit - Security Clearance 1, Benefit - Wealth (Rank 24: Rich) 4, Connected, Fearless, Improved Initiative 1, Jack-Of-All-Trades, Well-Informed

Immortal (Immunity 1) (Aging)
Indomitable (Protection 7) (+7 Toughness)
Indefatigable (Speed 4) (Speed: 100 mph, 880 ft./rnd)

Liberty Silver (Device 5) (Powers: Blast 10)
Gun (Blast 10) (DC 25, Alternate Powers: Bell (Blast 6) [Alt], Torch (Dazzle 10) [Alt], Torch (Dazzle 6) [Alt], Sword (Strike 10) [Alt], Eagle (Stun 6) [Alt])
Bell (Blast 6) [Alt] (DC 21, Extras: Area, Explosion (60 ft. explosion - General))
Torch (Dazzle 10) [Alt] (DC 20, Affects: Two Sense Types (2/r) - Visual Senses)
Torch (Dazzle 6) [Alt] (DC 16, Affects: Two Sense Types (2/r) - Visual Senses, Extras: Area, Burst (30 ft. radius - General))
Sword (Strike 10) [Alt] (DC 25, Extras: Penetrating)
Eagle (Stun 6) [Alt] (DC 16, Extras: Range 1 (ranged))

Attack Bonus: +6 (Ranged: +6, Melee: +6, Grapple: +10)

Unarmed Attack, +6 (DC 19), Gun (Blast 10), +6 (DC 25), Bell (Blast 6) [Alt], +6 (DC 21), Torch (Dazzle 10) [Alt], +6 (DC Fort/Ref 20), Torch (Dazzle 6) [Alt], +6 (DC Fort/Ref 16), Sword (Strike 10) [Alt], +6 (DC 25), Eagle (Stun 6) [Alt], +6 (DC Fort/Staged 16)

Defense: +5 (Flat-footed: +3), Knockback: -5

Initiative: +7

Languages: Native Language


C.L.I.V.E. (Clockwork Living Intelligent Valet Extraordinaire) was recovered by U.S. forces from the abandoned ruins of a mansion after the fall of France. His origins are unclear, but he claims to be over 200 years old. (Played by Mike Mulvihill.)

Power Level: 8; Power Points Spent: 120/120

STR: +8 (26), DEX: +2 (14), CON: +0 (-), INT: +1 (12), WIS: +0 (10), CHA: +2 (14)

Tough: +16, Fort: Immune, Ref: +2, Will: +2

Skills: Diplomacy 4 (+6), Drive 2 (+4), Intimidate 2 (+4), Knowledge: Current Events 3 (+4), Knowledge: History 4 (+5), Language 1 (+1), Notice 4 (+4), Prof: Valet 8 (+8), Search 4 (+5)

Feats: All-Out Attack, Ambidexterity, Attack Focus (Melee) 8, Defensive Attack, Distract (Intimidate), Eidetic Memory, Elusive Target, Fighting Style: Boxing, Improved Block 1, Improved Grapple, Interpose, Power Attack, Stunning Attack, Takedown Attack 1

Density 5 (+10 STR, +2 Toughness, Weight Multiplier: x2; Adds: Super-Strength 1, Immovable 1, Power Feats: Innate, Extras: Duration 1 (continuous), Flaws: Permanent)
Super-Strength 1 (+5 STR carrying capacity; +1 STR to some checks)
Immovable 1 (Resist Movement: +4, Resist Knockback: -1)
Deflect 6 (Deflects: Slow Projectiles (1/r))
Immunity 12 (Life Support, Aging, Sleep, Starvation & Thirst)
Impervious Toughness 4
Super-Senses 2 (Ultra-Hearing, Low-Light Vision)

Attack Bonus: +0 (Ranged: +0, Melee: +8, Grapple: +16/+17)

Unarmed Attack, +8 (DC 23)

Defense: +0 (Flat-footed: +0), Knockback: -12

Initiative: +2

Languages: French, English


Anemone (named for the flower, not the undersea critter) is mostly a mystery. What is known is that she's a psychic with a storefront shop in the New Haven section of Cape City. (Played by Kristian Haapa-aho.)

Power Level: 8; Power Points Spent: 120/120

STR: +0 (10), DEX: +2 (14), CON: +2 (14), INT: +1 (12), WIS: +5 (20), CHA: +5 (20)

Tough: +2, Fort: +6, Ref: +6, Will: +6

Skills: Concentration 4 (+9), Diplomacy 3 (+8), Drive 1 (+3), Handle Animal 2 (+7), Intimidate 8 (+13), Knowledge: Behavioural Science 2 (+3), Medicine 1 (+6), Prof: Psychic 2 (+7), Sense Motive 4 (+9), Swim 1 (+1)

Feats: Attack Focus (Ranged) 5, Attractive 2, Eidetic Memory, Fearless, Fearsome Presence 3, Improved Initiative 1, Inspire 1, Leadership, Master Plan

Astral Form 4 (Alternate Powers: Telepathy 8 [Alt], Emotion Control 8 [Alt], Mental Blast 5 [Alt], Power Feats: Subtle 1 (subtle))
Telepathy 8 [Alt] (DC 18, Adds: Communication 8, Mind Reading 8)
Emotion Control 8 [Alt] (DC 18)
Mental Blast 5 [Alt] (DC 20)
Mind Shield 6 (Impervious +6 to Will saves vs. Mental effects)
Shield 10 (+10 dodge bonus)
Teleport 2 (200 ft. as move action; DC 12)

Attack Bonus: +3 (Ranged: +8, Melee: +3, Grapple: +3)

Unarmed Attack, +3 (DC 15), Mental Blast 5 [Alt], +8 (DC Will 20)

Defense: +14 (Flat-footed: +2), Knockback: -1

Initiative: +6

Languages: English

Sally Steel

Sally's husband volunteered to join the Army and Sally badly wanted to join him on the front lines, but she was repeatedly laughed out of the recruiters' offices. So, she signed up to work in a factory. Late one night the notorious Axis spymaster and Thule society sorcerer Eldric von Hexenblut attacked the steel mill. An explosion setn Sally into a vat of molten metal, but instead of dying she took on its properties! (Played by Wilhelm Fitzpatrick.)

Power Level: 8; Power Points Spent: 124/120

STR: +7 (11/24), DEX: +1 (12), CON: +9 (14/28), INT: +0 (10), WIS: +1 (12), CHA: +2 (14)

Tough: +9/+12, Fort: +10, Ref: +4, Will: +6

Skills: Craft: Steelworker 5 (+5), Diplomacy 6 (+8), Gather Information 2 (+4), Intimidate 6 (+8), Language 1 (+1), Notice 8 (+9), Search 6 (+6), Sense Motive 10 (+11)

Feats: Diehard, Inspire 2, Interpose, Ultimate Effort - Toughness, Fortitude 2

Molten Metal Body (Alternate Form 13)
Solid (Powers: Density 6, Immunity 8, Energy Aura 2, Environmental Control 1, Enhanced Ability 1, Enhanced Ability 14, Impervious Toughness 5, Strike 2)
Density 6 (+12 STR, +3 Toughness, Weight Multiplier: x5; Adds: Super-Strength 2, Immovable 2, Extras: Duration 1 (continuous))
Super-Strength 2 (+10 STR carrying capacity; +2 STR to some checks)
Immovable 2 (Resist Movement: +8, Resist Knockback: -2)
Immunity 8 (Environmental Condition: Heat, Suffocation (All), Damage Type: Fire)
Burning Form (Energy Aura 2) (DC 17, Energy Type: Fire, Extras: Duration 1 (continuous), Flaws: Permanent)
Environmental Control 1 (Radius: 5 ft.; Heat (Extreme), Extras: Duration 1 (continuous), Flaws: Permanent)
Enhanced Ability 1 (+1 STR; Ability: Strength)
Enhanced Ability 14 (+14 CON; Ability: Constitution)
Impervious Toughness 5
Metal Fists (Strike 2) (DC 24, Power Feats: Mighty)

Power Settings:
Solid (Powers: Density 6, Immunity 8, Energy Aura 2, Environmental Control 1, Enhanced Ability 1, Enhanced Ability 14, Impervious Toughness 5, Strike 2)

Attack Bonus: +6 (Ranged: +6, Melee: +6, Grapple: +13/+15)

Unarmed Attack, +6 (DC 22), Burning Form (Energy Aura 2), +6 (DC 17), Metal Fists (Strike 2), +6 (DC 24)

Defense: +4 (Flat-footed: +2), Knockback: -10/-12

Initiative: +1

Languages: Englsih, Polish

The Bug

The Bug is a consumate inventor, but after falling on hard times he was forced into using his inventions for the Mob. After threatening to leave their "employ" his bosses ratted him out to the Feds and the Bug went to prison. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Bug volunteered to do whatever he could to help his country. Now the country has taken him on up on that offer. (Played by John Aegard.)

Power Level: 8; Power Points Spent: 130/120

STR: +2 (14), DEX: +1 (12), CON: +2 (14), INT: +0 (10), WIS: +0 (10), CHA: +0 (10)

Tough: +8, Fort: +6, Ref: +7, Will: +5

Skills: Bluff 12 (+12), Craft: Chemical 12 (+12), Disable Device 12 (+12), Disguise 8 (+8), Knowledge: Technology 12 (+12), Notice 8 (+8), Search 8 (+8)

Feats: Attack Focus (Ranged) 2, Attractive 1, Beginner's Luck, Dodge Focus 6, Equipment 1, Improved Initiative 2, Improvised Tools, Inventor, Luck 2, Second Chance - Choose Hazard 1, Skill Mastery - Choose 1, Ultimate Effort - Choose Action 2

HINDER (High Velocity Neural Disrupting Entangling Rifle) (Device 16) [Lose] (Powers: Dazzle 7, Snare 6, Stun 6)
Dazzle 7 (DC 17, Affects: Two Sense Types (2/r) - All Visual, Power Feats: Accurate 2 (+4), Subtle 1 (subtle), Extras: Autofire 1 (interval 2, max +5), Alternate Save (Will), Custom 0 (Linked to Snare))
Snare 6 (DC 16, Power Feats: Accurate 2 (+4), Subtle 1 (subtle), Precise, Extras: Autofire 1 (interval 2, max +5))
Stun 6 (DC 16, Power Feats: Accurate 2 (+4), Subtle 1 (subtle), Extras: Autofire 1 (interval 2, max +5), Range 1 (ranged), Custom 0 (Linked to Snare))

SPICE (Sharp Posi-weave Infiltration coverall, Enhanced) (Device 3) (Powers: Protection 6, Super-Movement 3, Super-Senses 3, Leaping 2, Concealment 3)
Protection 6 (+6 Toughness; Flaws: Limited - Broad Type (Physical Only))
Super-Movement 3 (Slow Fall, Wall-Crawling 2 (full speed))
Super-Senses 3 (Danger Sense: Choose Sense Type, Darkvision)
Leaping 2 (Jumping distance: x5)
Concealment 3 (Sense - Smell, Sense - Sight, Flaws: Blending, Action 3 (full))

Equipment: Camera

Attack Bonus: +2 (Ranged: +4, Melee: +2, Grapple: +4)

Unarmed Attack, +2 (DC 17), Dazzle 7, +8 (DC Will 17), Snare 6, +8 (DC Ref/Staged 16), Stun 6, +8 (DC Fort/Staged 16)

Defense: +7 (Flat-footed: +1), Knockback: -4

Initiative: +9

Languages: English

And there you go. Those are the player characters.

New Gig

You can read about it at Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds Website, but I've just been hired to be the M&M Game Developer.

I'm excited about the new job and I'll be posting bits and pieces about what I'm working on here. Soon I'll be posting some information and characters (with the players' permission) from my new M&M game here for people to check out. I hope to get to that later today.

I'm excited to be back in gaming a bit more actively and I'm very happy to be working on M&M. I love super-heroes, I love the game system, and I'm going to have a blast with it.

Stand by for adventure!

Monster Makeover

Xbox is producing Web-based episodes of a program featuring aspiring make-up artists working their craft. The monsters they're making are all based on popular or soon-to-be-released-and-most-likely-popular video games, so it should be pretty cool to watch.

It's produced in the style of a competitive reality TV program, but the make-up is pretty cool. Plus, if you care to, you can register to win an Xbox Elite, some games, a Zune, and maybe one or two other things.

Zombie's ahoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something New

My personal blog has been active for seven years now. It was started as a way to keep friends and family updated on my new life in Seattle.

Over the years a lot of talk of gaming, comics, and writing has crept into that blog. Things that interest me, but don't interest, say, my mom, sisters, and girlfriend all that much.

So, this blog, Stand by for Adventure, will be where I talk about all the geeky things in my life. In addition, I've been working as a freelance writer, editor, and game designer for some time now and I wanted a place to talk about that as well. Whether it's talking about industry goings-on, promoting my work, or just having a place to scribble down some mad ramblings, this is going to be the place.

And since I already have a personal blog, I won't bore you with the everyday things in my life. At least not here.

So . . . stand by for adventure!