Saturday, February 06, 2010

Olde Worlde - my first encounter in my first game as referee

This is a cross-post from my "official" game blog for my online play-by-post S&W game. I was really nervous about this first encounter, having up until now only been a player. Would it be too hard for the players?  Too easy?  Would I totally botch up the flow of things?  Would my players call me a nOOb?  Well, here's what happened.

First off, let my just squee about how cool it is to have Matt "Mythmere" Finch joining in!  Like I said joking with my husband, "Oh yeah..he's JUST the guy who wrote the rulebook I'm using. Uh-huh..No pressure, nope. None at all. Nosireebob!" do you insert a new PC into a game in-progress?  Easy!  He was there all along, but none of the nine-dozen other folks in the adventure-procession really noticed.

Anyhoo, whilst bashing down the door to a randomly treasure-seeded room, our brave adventurers called down a posse of three gnolls on themselves. Again I used the random-encounter chart to generate a wandering threat in the hallways, but to be honest I was kind of worried I had served up more than the players could chew. Gnolls are dang hard to hit, much less to wound and kill. And they're deadly. I should know. In a solo outdoor adventure last winter I lost my 3rd level elven PC and six hirelings to a patorl of gnolls.  This was in spite of being armed with magic and lots of longbows.

I had no idea that Charm Person could be so much fun. Good thinking on behalf of Paraphin (Mythmere's Magic User character).  If for whatever reason the gnoll had passed a Saving Throw, it could have been bad for the fighters up in the middle of the scrum.

So..what do you do with a pet like that?  Well, you ask it to be your native guide as you tour the rest of the dungeon, that's what. To see how the gnoll reacted to the idea, I consulted the monster "Hostile/Friendly Reaction Table" from the Holmes Basic D&D book.  I gave the charmed "person" a +6, and as it turned out, he was "enthusiastic - volunteers help".  Then he had to convince his two gnoll comrades of the validity of Paraphin's idea. Being that they are of the low-intelligence follow-the-leader sort, I rolled for them on the table, but with disadvantages. One got -2 simply for being an unreasonable brute, and the other a -6 for having been shot at by the archer. The former turned out to be 'friendly' while the latter turned and bit the elf.

The dwarf Brag Ironballz (gotta love that name) jumped in and defended Chu-toi (gotta love that name too) and bravely killed the ever-lovin' bejimmies out of the gnoll.  The DM gleefully awaits the Save-or-barf results.

So now comes the time to dole out XP. With so many players to divvy up experience points, I may have to up the danger level just a bit. I suppose they won't want to be low-level forever. But for what it all is worth, I'm really enjoying running a game and surviving my first encounter.

In other slightly-related news, I just ordered and received a small Chessex wet-erase game mat with 1" squares on one side and hexes on the other. If I ever hit my stride as a PbP referee, I'm wanting to run something face-to-face in realtime. I'd like to be ready for that by ReaperCon at the end of May.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Swords & Wizardry Play-by-Post - already in progress, actually

I know I announced a while back that I was maybe going to gather up a play-by-post RPG using Swords & Wizardry Core Rules on the Reaper Miniatures forum.

Well.... following a hectic end-of-December/start-of-January, I jumped right in with both feet and started the game...and neglected my blog as usual. Sorry 'bout that, folks.

Finding five players willing to commit to my regular posting schedule was amazingly pretty easy. They all did their homework, downloaded the rules, got themselves familiar with character generation and how the game plays, and we were off and running in record time (compared to other PbP games I've seen).

The game-gathering topic may be seen here. >>  Spike's Olde Worlde OOC (out of character)

Almost as soon as people began signing up, I figured I'd best get going on a dungeon and quickly. I'm what you might call a digital-junkie in a pen-and-paper world when it comes to old-school gaming, so I went to the Cartographer's Guild forum and found a great topic on mapmaking here >> Creating an old-school map in GIMP  For those of you not familiar with GIMP, it does many of the same basic functions as Photoshop...except emptying your bank account.  As for the tutorial, the instructions for GIMP translate seamlessly to Photoshop.  While making my own map, I improved upon a few processes and will post my own tutorial here at a later time.

Next came the stocking of the dungeon. This was really a challenge for me since I've never even ran a game before, much less created an adventure. The S&W book has some guidelines, but in the end I referred to my copy of Holmes Basic for help with appropriate challenge levels, how many rooms to leave empty, and how to handle the monsters that inevitably wander the corridors.

Once that was done, I began making use of Chgowiz's One-Page Dungeon Template in keeping track of what is where. This download was made for MS Word but works just fine in OpenOffice.  As you can see, I'm a real fan of freeware.

I decided that it would be good to put all my game information in a single place seperate from the Reaper forum so that the players could be just a click or two away from their character sheets, game information such as marching order, passage of time, lists of looted treasure and such. For that purpose I made a new blog here >> Oldeworlde Chronicles.  It's still a work-in-progress as I've not finished formatting character sheets and may yet put in some more fluff about the setting.

And now for the fun part...the actual playing of the game!

Like I promised, this game is whimsy-loaded and not meant to be taken terribly seriously. The story begins with all the characters conveniently railroaded into a tavern called The Epicurean Orc, at which they learn about Lord Arbitrary's reward of 16,353 gold pieces to have his dungeon made monster-free. And to make things even more convenient, there is a ready gang of day-labourers assembled at the tavern looking to hire on and help the party. These fine folks were lovingly though randomly picked from 140 Henchmen for Hire, by Garish (a.k.a. Steve Page)

Once the players picked their hirelings, I let the players take control of their own particular followers as far as actions and dialogue are concerned. Eventually when PCs start gaining experience (both in XP and in gameplay experience) I will let them pick a favoured follower who will probably be given an extra share of the party's XP in order to advance quicker and be better prepared to become the player's next PC should the player's current PC become incapactiated or worse yet "teh dead".

If you want to follow along, the in-game topic is here >> Spike's Olde Worlde RPG

The cast of characters (in a metaphorical nutshell) are:

Solace- a very devout human female cleric, who would seem to be the voice of sense and reason of the party.

Kane- a sharply-dressed human rogue with shifty eyes and a taste for adventure, even if it means having to go slumming in orc-operated drinking establishments.

Taryn, human fighter who has brought his father's longsword out of retirement in hopes of finding fame, glory and gold...because he, like everybody else, didn't come there for the food.

Chu-toi- elven elf (since elf is also a class) archer and mage who has discovered that the cheese at the Epicurean Orc can probably double as "improvised weapon"

Brag Ironballz- dwarven warrior with some amazing abilities...except Charisma....but who really needs Charisma anyway. Just look at Steve Buscemi!

Jonah Redshirt- not a hero, nor really much of an antihero..but I can guarantee you that if this was a Disney cartoon, he'd have narrow eyes and a sinister moustache in addition to his one arm and fat pockets. He's what you might call a meatshield-broker.

Lord Arbitrary- Actually nobody knows much about him..not even the game referee. It's rumoured that he once single-handedly defeated the dread gazebo.

Matilda- human serving wench, who is single, likes kittens, long walks in the evening, and men who aren't afraid to cry.

Spike-  female orc bartender...but you already knew that, didn't you.

"We now join our regularly scheduled RPG already in progress"

It would seem the players just miiiight be about to encounter something as they begin exploring corridors.  Thusfar all they've found is Lord Arbitrary's trash-dump, a little bit of buried treasure, and some mundane rats.  Let's see what's behind Door Number One!