Baltic D&D

Finally back to blogging with the start of new campaign or actually just restarting a campaign with new rules.

The new rule set is Mentzer’s Basic D&D, it used to be test drive of D&D 5th edition which turned out to have too much crunch in the character classes/races for the old school feel I was looking for. We did play couple of adventures and there was some unfinished business in them that will undoubtedly play some role in the campaign after the rule set change.

The campaign is set around Baltic Sea in 1450 with liberally added fantasy elements and disregard for historical timeline. The campaign starts in the Hanseatic city of Danzig. Danzig being a port city gives good access to whole Baltic Sea should the players want to go exploring to Scandinavia or some other exotic locale. On the other hand Danzig is right in middle of interesting political situation with Teutonic Order and Kingdom of Poland fighting for it and the lands around it. This gives opportunities to all sorts of high medieval political shenanigans should the players be interested in them and adventures take them into that direction.

I will be running a mixture of old classic (A)D&D modules, stuff from the internet like One Page Dungeons and what other people have created in current OSR fad and some of my own creations. I have started building a mega dungeon with the help of How to host a dungeon among other things. Of course the world is a living thing and simple things can escalate to mega adventures on their own if not dealt with. So every loose string the players leave behind can possibly come to bite them in the ass at later time. There’s couple of such things already running wild in the Prussian countryside.

My players are mix of new or newer acquaintances and couple of old faces from my table, also looking for couple of more so never know what turns up. One interesting thing to note is that there are two other guys who also runs games, especially old school D&D games so we have lot of game mastering know-how on the table.

We have strong hex crawl element as well in the game. One of my gm-player’s created a hex map of Prussia that I’m using as basis for the campaign and I have already put about half a dozen adventure locations on the map for players to find. People of Danzig and other cities/villages tell rumors to player characters and it is up to players to choose which ones they want to investigate. Once they have a destination they hex crawl to the location and then the game turns to normal dungeon crawl mode.

We as a gaming group are rather flexible with the rules. We take to heart the old school way of “rulings instead of rules” meaning that we take the rulebook as starting point an adapt the content to our game. I for example have converted Basic descendidng AC and table lookup THAC0 to 3.x esque rising AC an attack bonus. I’ll hopefully write about all house rules we come up with when I have time.

We have played one session an session report for that is coming shortly after this post. An that’s all this time.

Guns suck when you are a flail snail

Guns are are strange beasts, I haven’t quite figured out all the stuff they change when used in Pathfinder. One thing seems to be sure that they are steady source of damage in close quarter combat.

In last session I ran for the group there was combat against a flail snail in dungeon. It could have been interesting combat with all its magic warping abilities but steady damage from party gunslinger cut it short. The poor flail snail has normal AC of 18 and special ability to raise it to 24. Of course it being a big snail it has touch AC of 8…

Needless to say its huge AC (vs. 2nd level party) didn’t do it much good when the gunslinger got to work. With his attack bonus it was either miss fire or hit. The guns don’t do too high damage since you can’t get ability bonuses to them but they hit much more reliably than for example melee weapons. Of course to balance this out there is a cost to use firearms, bullets and powder cost much more than arrows.

Pathfinder seems to work best in melee range, most monsters have no ranged attack ability and with party that likes to fight at range that tends to get boring when the monsters try to charge to melee while peppered with bullets, arrows and spells. I’m trying to decide if I like the Pathfinder firearms or not but what I have seen so far seems to more about ranged combat being very optimal strategy in Pathfinder if you have ways to slow down the opposition or enough room to maneuver. Guns seem to be working like some spells, only defense is hit points, touch AC is rarely adequately high to be a real defense.

Moral dilemmas

… or underhanded tactics, depending on who you ask.

Today my Pathfinder/Planescape session started with the player characters in dungeon. Due to things that happened in couple last sessions, they’re wanted men. PCs where reading their map and planning where they’re heading next when they heard someone moving in the next room. They prepared themselves and scouted as much as they could but eventually the stranger opened the door to their room. Our trigger happy goblin gunslinger shot him before he could say anything.

The violence didn’t immediately escalate, instead both sides asked what the other wanted. After bit of debate (and the fact that the stranger could detect evil, the ninja PC was evil) it became apparent that Kamier, the hound archon (lawful good) bounty hunter had been looking for the PCs. Things got interesting when the neutral good cleric (who wasn’t wanted) started suggesting that they should surrender and sort the thing out. Team evil/neutral/chaotic wasn’t very excited (to put it mildly) about the whole idea. Continue reading

City adventures

The Eternal Boundary front cover

The Eternal Boundary

I’ve been running The Eternal Boundary in my Pathfinder Planescape campaign and so far I have liked how the adventure has played out even though(or because) I haven’t run it straight out of the book.

I like to do things old school these days which means that TSR adventure from mid 90s just ain’t gonna cut it without some modifications. Basically the adventure has two distinct parts as written, city/investigation adventure which is rather weak and some open ended dungeon exploration (with scripted encounters). The plot is one big evil plan by forces unknown (at the start of the adventure) that are revealed bit by bit and leads to their fortress for final showdown. Continue reading

Tediousness of Pathfinder session prep

I just finished three NPC stat blocks for my upcoming Pathfinder Planescape session. Once again it felt rather tedious, the whole process took couple of hours. So many little details you have to get right and reference from different books.

There is little help in form of d20pfsrd.com where you can search all crunchy stuff in one place but it still takes time. One great time sink is selecting feats for characters, there is simply so many options that you can’t know them all and you have to read through very long lists to find what want. Or then you think you remember feats and pick something but later notice that the feat had requirements your NPCs don’t fulfill. Happened with my Harmonium guys, who didn’t have Dex of 13+ but 12 and I had given them Dodge. Continue reading

Feathers, tusks and moles

I’m not dead yet.

Lot of stuff has happened since the last session report, holiday season, couple of session, me being sick and hellishly busy at work.

Quick recap of the couple of last sessions before today’s session. Heroes tried to get the dragon again, this time they found the lair when the dragon was returning to it and tried to climb up to it. Unfortunately they fooled around with magic and alerted the dragon and the same player lost another character, this time to the dragons fiery breath when he was halfway up to cliff and couldn’t get away. Rest barely managed to make it back to town of Edge. Continue reading

Dying is hard

Two of my player characters tried to die but only one succeeded.

Latest session didn’t have that many events but we got down to good old fashioned survival trip back to town while wounded in unknown and hostile forest.

The session started with assessing the damage the dragon had done to their hired men and wagons. Also couple of players that had missed last session where present today and their characters showed up as well. The players who where not present in this session had their characters return to the town of Edge along with the surviving mercenaries and dragging the half burned wagon and badly scared ox with them. Rest of the characters (Rydiger, Borgo and Edelbert) decided to chase the dragon while the trail was still fresh.

Rydiger knew the general area where the dragon had gone, almost one day journey north of Edge up the river. Since Rydiger was experienced hunter they decided to take go straight through the forest instead of returning to Edge and starting from there. The trip to the base of the mountains was uneventful.

By nightfall the heroes arrived close to the point where vegetation started to become sparse and they set up camp for the night. Nothing major happened during the night. First snow covered the land and the heroes food supplies came under attack from a fox. Rydiger was on watch when this happened and he angrily drove the fox away when the damnable thing was eating his dried herrings. Rydiger seems to have issues with anyone touching his herrings or food in general.

Next day Rydiger goes to scout the nearby cliffs and search for the dragons (assumed) lair/cave/something. Rydiger finds couple of caves but they are unfortunately too small for dragon to fit in. The cliffs are rough and elevation changes sudden but Rydiger doesn’t get hurt and doesn’t encounter any dangerous beasties.

The dangers are all in the forest. Borgo and Edelbert stayed in the forest and slowly made their way to the cliff with their mule and rest of the gear. But fate would have none of that, little before Rydiger returns they encounter a goblin patrol.

Borgo and Edelbert try to hide but realize that their pack mule might not be able to hide on its own. Borgo knocks the mule unconscious and tries to drag it behind a rock he’s hiding behind. Apparently that is not enough since the goblins start pointing their spears at the mules legs peeking from behind the rock.

Borgo Badger, the unimportant son of noble family Badger decides this is his moment to be a hero. Edelbert feels the same and they jump out to deliver death. Borgo pulls out his axe and charges the goblins like Conan. Edelbert is not Conan and gets his crossbow tangled into bushes. Borgo Conan reaches the not completely surprised goblins and bats the first spear away and slays a goblin with mighty blow. Alas, Borgo is not Conan and the two other goblins slay him. The first spear blow knock him out cold and the other just finishes the job.

Edelbert has managed to pull his crossbow free and starts shooting the goblins. They in turn charge him and epic battle of attrition ensues. The goblins manage to get steady amount of small wounds on Edelbert, slowly wearing him down. Edelbert on turn doesn’t get any hits with his crossbow thanks to the goblins shield and his own wounds. In the end Edelbert falls as well.

Rydiger returns and finds Edelberts dog frantically running around and the scene of battle. He finds the bodies of Borgo and Edelbert behind the same rock they tried to hide behind. Edelbert is still alive and Rydiger manages to get him back to his feet. Most of their valuables and the mule are gone, taken by the surviving goblins.

The heroes were in no shape to continue tracking the dragon so they decided to head back to Edge to resupply and recruit more heroes. The problem was that Edelbert had multiple wounds and couldn’t travel very fast. They would not make it to the town before dark.

Another incident happened during the trip that showed something about the true character of Rydiger. Rydiger and Edelbert where traveling along river and suddenly spotted another group of goblins coming from behind them. The goblins hadn’t noticed them yet but they were coming their way. At this point Rydiger abandoned Edelbert and ran away to save his own skin. He got away and hid in the forest. Edelbert quickly scampered deeper into the forest and managed to hide. The goblins walked by talking in their own language oblivious to everything that had happened.

Edelbert and Rydiger where reunited after the incident and made it back to Edge in silence, arriving after dark. Rydiger paid Edelbert’s room at the inn without further arguments.

Next time, more goblins and dragons and a big game hunter.