Friday, May 28, 2010

Service Agreement

I haven't really gotten into how long the player's will be working with Nakmander, mainly because none of them have asked when given the opportunity. Or maybe they have and I just missed it, which is a possibility. They seemed to think that being chained to the city for the conceivable future was irrational and that their efforts on Nakmander's behalf in the 170th district should count for something.

I'll go over this if they ever think to ask Nakmander about it, but the terms of their agreement with Nakmander are as follows: Give back the forty-four thousand marks you stole from Nakamander, or continue working for him. Those are the options. Heh.

The way it is going right now is that Nakamander has chained them to his city in the hopes that they will do stuff in his city that costs money so that they will at least spend his money in his city. One more time: his city. Additionally, he has had them put their home district under their control. The citizens of the district have traded an oppressive Governmental Liaison for a corrupt one that funnels money to a rebellion, rather than spending it on the district. So, the district is exactly the same as it was when under Phineus' control, aside from the electricity, tunnels, and soup kitchen. Definitely good things, but a far cry from restoring the district to its former glory.

Nakmander is currently paying the guys one hundred marks a week and he is currently funneling one hundred and twenty-five marks away from the district into the rebellion each week. So, the player's are paying off their forty-four thousand mark debt at seventy-five marks a month. Rounded down, that is five hundred and eighty-six months. That in turn is (again, rounded down) forty-eight years.

That becomes nine years and some change if they stop taking their weekly salary from Nakamander and rely on the income from their bar (Tesla's Boil) as a steady source of income. Obviously, if they return some money their debt decreases and if they make more improvements to the district, it will pay off the debt faster, but to do that they have to drop thousands of marks at a time.

If they dump their money into Telsa's Boil, making it bigger and make it stock a better selection (and burn down competitors in the district, heh) they can easily end up making four hundred marks or more a week. At twelve hundred marks a month, divided six ways, each of them is making two hundred marks a week. Two hundred marks is about what a pretty wealthy family has for expenses each month. Two hundred marks a month is rich. Fine food, fine wine and liquor, fine clothes, fine weapons, servants, marble counter tops, elegant wainscoting, etc.

That is some math and whatnot I guess.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Campaign Book

I've been hard at work on the campaign book, I think it is going pretty well. I finished the history chapter, which ended up as nine pages in Word and around seven thousand four hundred words. It basically breaks down the timeline the PCs have read point by point with a few paragraphs of explanation for each of the major points. All in all, I think it turned out well. I kept it lean enough that I have something to write about for the history sections of the various nations, but meaty enough to be informative. Its my first time doing this so who knows, it could be trash. Maybe once people get done reading my story, I'll hit them with the campaign book.

I've mainly been basing it off of the 4th Edition Banestorm book and the 3rd Edition Conan campaign book as far as the way chapters and sections are set up. I discovered a really neat feature in Word that allows you to synch up your headings and titles with a table of contents that tells you what page of the document the section or chapter starts on, it also lets you control-click it to go straight to the section without scrolling.

I really like the way the Conan campaign book is set up, but Banestorm is a little more...modern looking I guess. It might be fun to do something with Jeremy where we make the campaign book look all retro/vintage/whatever, maybe sketch out some old school looking artwork for flags and sigils and whatnot. I'm looking forward to collaborating with him on the set up of the campaign book, it should be a fun time. We've talked in the past about doing things like a webcomic, or a podcast more recently, and I do enjoy doing projects with him

More as it develops on this project I guess. I am enjoying it though.

One last thing, Kusseth is apparently a Beuracratic Meritocracy with elements of Athenian Democracy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Skill Use

So there is some confusion about skill use, particularly dialogue type skills and whatnot. We've never really gone over skills and how they're used and what they're used for, or what I consider to be a use for them. I guess we'll go over them alphabetically. Some of the following will be from the relevant skill description, and some of it will be my take on it in my campaign.

This skill is for doing acrobatic things like balancing on a wire or board across a ravine, swinging from chandeliers, serpentining out of someone's grasp or slipping your restraints, and also reducing falling damage. In my opinion, you could also use it to climb certain things that require a deft hand, rather than sheer endurance, to scale.

This skill involves magic. You use it to detect magic, identify what manner of magic you're dealing with, and also to recall bits and pieces of arcane knowledge. Sometimes I use it in my campaign as a way to say "Hey, there is magic shit going on nearby." and also to points out some Fell-Human related things. The Technomancy skill from my campaign operates in a similar manner, Eric obviously can't sense technology though because that would be silly. Heh.

This is for physical stuff that relies primarily on endurance. With Athletics you can swim, climb, and also to escape from grabs.

This is lying. That is what it boils down to. When you're trying to convince someone to do something and you're not being fully honest about it, when you're asked a question and you're attempting to deceive, if you're running a con, you use Bluff. This could have been called the Lying skill in my opinion. When using Bluff, it is opposed by the target's Insight. There's no DC, you roll and then the target rolls. You can also use it to gain combat advantage and create diversions that allow you to hide in encounters.

Diplomacy is when you're trying to convince or inspire someone with logic, honesty, grace. This is the skill for speeches and making friends, well, real friends.

Dungeoneering is the underground skill. You use it to figure out what direction you're heading in, identifying hazard, plants, animals, foraging for food, and recognizing new construction. You can also identify creatures from The Far Realm, which makes perfect sense. "I spent a lot of time in holes in the ground when I was young, so I know a lot about all the unknowable entities and crazed geometries of The Far Realm."

This skill is related to your physical robustness. You use it to resist disease, ignore hunger and thirst, and survive temperature and weather extremes. Apparently you can also use it to see if you get a sexual partner to the point of orgasm, although it was mentioned that that might be more appropriately a feat of Acrobatics.

This is for doctoring. It can be used to allow a character to use their Second Wind when it isn't their turn, to stabilize dying characters, and also to give saving throws or get a bonus on ones they make during their turn. You can also treat disease and allow a patient to use your Heal check, rather than their Endurance check, when appropriate.

You know history. This skill allows you to know things about an area's history, and to recall those details. Whenever D'alton needs to know something in Hell or about how something works in Hell, I have Jeremy make a History check to see if he recalls details from his past.

Insight, this is the big one I think people don't quite understand. First let me say that Insight is not perfect, it is your general impression of someone in regards to what it can detect. It is kind of the dialogue counterpart to Perception. Insight allows you to read between the lines of a conversation, to pick up on tone or body language, or any of a hundred other minor details about a conversation to determine whether or not you think the target is being honest, what their attitude is, what their motives might be, whether or not they are under the influence of some outside force, and so on and so forth. You cannot use Insight in the middle of a street to determine anything. You can use it before you talk to someone, while observing them, to get a sense of how you'd do in a conversation with them. When someone Bluffs someone in the group, which has happened oh, I dunno, sixty times in the past two scenarios, I use the player's passive Insight to defend against it because they never make Insight checks when they should.

When you want to scare someone into doing what you want them to, you use Intimidate. Intimidate always makes a target hostile, which can make dialogue skills like Bluff or Diplomacy useless, or cause outright violence to erupt from the target.

This skill is pretty much Dungeoneering, except with the aboveground world. You can also train natural animals with it.

This skill is encompasses your senses. You use it to listen through a door, search an area for things like tracks or secret doors, detect someone hiding, or to notice odd odors.

Irrelevant in my world. Anything you could do with Religion, can now be done with Arcana. Normally you can use it to identify cults and whatnot and also get knowledge about Immortal or Undead monsters you encounter.

This skill is for hiding and going unnoticed. There are a whole bunch of modifiers for cover, how fast you are moving, light sources, and so on. Stealth is opposed by the target's Perception roll.

Streetwise is a sort of dialogue skill. You use it to gain info and in my mind it basically amounts to wandering into a tavern and paying attention to rumors and signs and just generally kind of getting information about the area you're in. With it, you can find out what's for sale and where, who is in charge, jobs in the area, good deals in the area, and a bit of rumormongering.

This skill encompasses the skillset of any self respecting thief. With it you can disable traps, open a lock, pick a pocket, or do a magic trick.

Those are a rundown of all the skills included within the Player's Handbook. I have no idea if there are others in the myriad splatbooks produced, or if there are additional abilities for those listed above. Anyway, hopefully someone from my group will wander in here and read them and get a clearer picture of how to use skills in game. Weee. Maybe I'll print it out for next time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Better Place For A Better Future

As I said in my previous post, we gamed this past weekend. I use that phrase pretty regularly, I guess I like the sound of it. Overall, I really enjoyed the way things turned out. The players were tasked with taking control of a district in the hopes that they would spend the money they stole from their boss' organization on things to improve the city. They went kind of out of bounds with their method of control, I had thought it a possibility when creating the scenario, and there were some bits of info I had peppered the scenario with to prepare for the possibility, but I never thought they would end up doing it.

They basically financed a political campaign to put a government official that had a relationship with them into power. They then proceeded to make the district valuable to the rebellion by recommending a herd (or pod, or gaggle) of accountants to the official that was peppered with rebellion sympathizers so they could cook the books of the district and funnel money back to the rebellion. On paper, that is my favorite scenario ever. I have long pined in the night to do a political based campaign where it is all wheeling and dealing and secret meetings and shady dealings, but I've never remotely had the group for it, and I don't think that type of campaign is something this group would be into. Fred is playing his characters too homicidal for that, and John favors fighting far more than he favors talking.

The talking with Nakmander didn't go as well as I had planned. I wanted to make Nakmander "real" to them and also get some characters talking about their backgrounds via some role-playing. Jeremy and Eric told me bits and pieces of the backgrounds they'd already come up with, but no one else really jumped in with their histories, and they didn't seem to find Nakmander's history terribly interesting. Oh well, the conversation was beneficial to Nakmander at least. Heh.

The Spineplate reveal was kind of botched, and again, I was hoping the players would interact with him and ask him what's up with the digits, but they didn't. Oh well.

Overall, I consider the scenario a success. I tried quite a few different things and I did some struggling, and the players did their share as well. We got through it though and I think I learned a bit about how to make scenarios. This wide open do whatever you want stuff doesn't seem to work with them. The lay low scenario was cited as something they liked, but it was even more open ended and had less direction than this scenario. It was a true sandbox. This one was more: go get this done, but you can get it done however you want. I don't think I need to railroad them, but I do need to provide them with clearer options if I am going to do a scenario with a mission that can be completed multiple ways.

I had all the information they needed to do the multiple routes of completion in the scenario, I just don't think they know how to get the information. There was some confusion about skill use and I'll probably post something about skills and their proper application here in the near future.

I did have to repeat myself about information a few times, and there were points where people were utterly confused about what was going on and why things were a certain way. Listening to the audio files I find myself saying things and being ignored and people later on having questions that would have been answered by paying attention in the first place.

I have this to say: shut up. Seriously. I love the guys and really enjoy goofing around with everyone and trading amusing snarkiness and chit chat, but come on. Lost? Seriously? I cut most of it out of the audio files today, but come on. I put a lot of work into the scenarios and the background material. I understand that it is all fake and no one really cares or thinks it is important. But I do. I'm the one that puts this all together, I don't get to play a character and collect XP at the end of the scenario and level up. My parties usually die by the end of the scenario and I have to come up with another way to entertain everyone and hold their interest between Lost commentary. That goes with the territory of being a GM, but come on, just pay attention to me when I'm talking. Make your jokes about Lost after I'm done telling you pertinent information that will prevent you from looking like an idiot later in the scenario.

All that said, all the distractions and over talk, I still had fun with the scenario and fun with the group. Good game.

Edit After The Fact: Believe me, I am quite aware that I am just as responsible for off topic distractions as everyone else. I was in fact playing Facebook games at one point during the session.

Means To An End

We gamed this past weekend, it was... something. The way it was supposed to play out was that they actually investigate Phineus himself, rather than ask random Joe Citizen if they liked him or not. They were supposed to case his mansion and keep an eye on what he was doing. If they saw him leave his mansion they were supposed to shadow him on his outings during the wee hours of the morning to find out that he regularly frequented The Randy Quail. Ideally they would then return to the Quail and surreptitiously find out if he frequents a particular whore, then investigate her background and who she may or may not be. If they had done that, they would have found out that the whore in question has a daughter.

If they continued investigating Phineus they would have found that there was much strife between him and his two children. If they kept an eye on the sons and perhaps followed them on an outing and approached them in a slummy tavern they would have found out that the sons dislike their father and their mother dislikes the official as well.

If they continued to keep an eye on Phineus and the Quail, they would have seen him come in pretty regularly and perhaps if they succeeded at a Perception and Insight check or two they would have noticed that he seemed to dote on a particular lass working in the kitchen and that despite being a Fell Human, she bore a slight resemblance to Phineus the Vyanth.

The way I had conceived of the scenario playing out was that they would pay attention to Phineus, not Walthen Bronson or the citizens of the community and their plight, and kidnap the daughter or mistress and hand them over to Nakmander to hold over Phineus' head. I had conceived of them going the political route and getting someone else elected, but not exactly the way they went about it.

All that said, I had of course assumed they would just barge in through the front door and burn Phineus' mansion to the ground. This is what I like about GMing, I have my plotline written out but I also prepare for what they usually end up doing, and then they do something completely different from both things I've planned for. Heh.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Experiencing beer farts roughly twenty-four hours after ingesting said beverage seems slightly off.

So I've been working on a few projects lately and I wanted to post about them.

I'm constantly at work on the Hekinoe wiki with the ZuluPad thing. At the moment I'm focusing on some Grenaldeen and The Grey Wastes stuff because I have Keroen Skathos on my mind. It all helps to flesh out the world though, so I don't feel it is wasted effort or time. I really love ZuluPad and am glad it finally occurred to me to set up a place to put all the campaign information. Sometimes I look at previous posts on my blogger here and I am stunned by what I've forgotten or changed since the campaign began. The wiki is nice because I can update and retcon it easily and not really worry about it. I should actually upload a new version of the wiki here.

The second project on my mind is putting GURPS into its own wiki. I love my GURPS books and I really love the way the manuals are set up, there's a lot of fluff and crunch in them and the sort of minimalist approach to artwork means that if a book is one hundred and sixty pages long, you get one hundred and sixty pages of content. Not one hundred and sixty minus the cover page, table of contents, artwork for the cover page of each chapter, and all the random borderline anime artwork you find in all the DnD books. My goal here is to develop a resource I can use for quick reference in the middle of a scenario. I'm filling it with Advantages and Disadvantages and Skills and a host of tables and such, plus I'm throwing some character sheet type stuff in there. I have a page dedicated to The Brain In A Jar. He has Telekinesis 40. I click on the blue Telekinesis link and bam, I have all the info on the ability. Whenever we need to do a Quick Contest or figure out Distance and Speed Modifiers, bam, those tables are in there for my reference. At first I was rather skeptical about the value of this thing when you take into consideration how much time I'm putting into it, but I really really like it and as I'm doing all this hyperlinking and copy & pasting and typing I find myself really getting into the nitty gritty details of GURPS and how everything works. It is going to take me forever to get the thing as complete as I want, but I really am enjoying the work and am learning a bit about the system while I am at it. I probably won't link it up here when I finish it, I think this is something that will stay safely ensconced within my laptop.

Third project. I believe that I am going to attempt in earnest to create a sort of campaign book for my The Known World setting. It'll be constructed with GURPS in mind, because that is where I intend to go with The Known World and Hekinoe in general. A document like this will kind of step on the toes of the wiki, and I'll certainly be borrowing material from the wiki, but the campaign book would have more stuff like race and class templates, adventure hooks, technology and weapons specific to The Known World, etc. The problem with this is that I don't precisely know where to start and how to plot it all out. I've been looking at some GUPS campaign books and kind of using them as a guideline and I've toyed with creating campaign books for my various settings before, but I just don't know where to start. I usually play with Microsoft Word, but it seems kind of...clunky I guess for what I'm trying to do. I'm not sure if I'll get anywhere with it, but I think it would be neat. I also think, and this is part of the reason I started the wiki, that the more solid information you have laid down and available for player perusal, the more legitimate it makes your campaign look. The more details you have, the more concrete the whole thing is, makes it feel like this imaginary place in your head has some meat to it I guess.

Man, I missed blogging.

Music: Maiden, Mother & Crone - The Sword

Friday, May 14, 2010


My mousepad has breasts on it, nay, my mousepad has tits on it, literal anime chick gel tits.

It is the best mousepad I have ever had in my life.

I finished editing my story again and made a Facebook post about it and emailed it to several individuals that have on multiple occasions vowed that they will in fact read it. I then promptly began rereading it and changed several lines of text in the prologue and first little bit of chapter one. I paused after a few minutes of this and began really reading the story again.

That shit is utterly incomprehensible.

Heather has often said it is hard to read what I write because I write a lot of shit and don't hand hold the reader by explaining what every word means. I never really understood what she meant until I was rereading the first few pages last night. In the prologue you're bombarded with three proper names and a few oddly named countries and you have no means of understanding their context or import until you get into the meat of the book. The first chunk of chapter one is like getting your brain molested by my ZuluPad wiki in under a second.

For the record, my wiki has like three dicks and a tongue, so when I say molested, it is pretty serious business.

You're bombarded with names like lastborn, primordial, Braldenon, and Utenel and you have no idea what any of it means until it all gets explained to you. Eventually you find that the Utenel are Nel of winter and storms and that the primordials of each court were the first creatures created by the Gifts of Merobel and Aubernach and that they resemble beasts. You find out that the lastborn are the final race of each court and that they resemble the creator of the court more than the other races. You find out that the mountain-kin are living stone or metal. Etc, etc, etc. It all gets explained eventually. You even find out exactly what Calindrel is, even if it is only one line of text. I'm just not sure if those eventual explanations are enough for the reader, or even adequate for what the reader desires to know.

I guess I'm ok with that, I don't mind that it is a little hard to keep everything straight, at one time I thought I was going to try and sell the book. I don't really intend on doing that, I just wanted to tell a story about a dude named Keroen Skathos. The story appeals to me, the characters and world appeal to me, the ending appeals to me. I like the story, fuck everyone else's opinion. If my friends like it and have thoughts and opinions on it or come up with better ways to say things, I'll more than happily listen and implement their changes. I'm ok with the story as it is, I understand it and get it and it is a nice chronicle of a period of time in the life of Keroen Skathos that has a lot of effects on Hekinoe that I am very interested in exploring.

The long and short of it is that I like The Last Blade, even if that shouldn't really be the title anymore. The Feronel used to be called The Court of Blades in previous version, and Keroen Skathos was kind of the last one. I guess the title would still sort of be applicable to the story, but I don't think it would apply in a way that is really noticeable, possibly because it occurred to me just now. Heh.

Those are some thoughts. Joy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oxidation of the Old Brain Box

Man, I really let things slide for a bit over here. As an update, I passed my class and won't be spending so much time studying and whatnot so I'll be able to use free time for neat stuff like chores and blogging.

Still haven't gamed yet, but I'm hoping for it to happen in two weeks time. Cross your fingers and whatnot. I'm still really excited about the upcoming scenario. I really have no idea how it will work out and am interested in seeing how it goes. It sort of blends a bit of Sim City with DnD and I am intrigued to see the resulting chaos. I will all probably end in tears. We'll see though. Heh.

I was talking to a guy at work a few weeks back about Penny Arcade and games in general and I have this thing where I feel the need to be honest about my hobbies. I usually just say "I'm into gaming" and let it be. He actually asked what kind of gaming I'm into, I said consoles more often than not with a little PC gaming as well, then I paused and said a mental "fuck it" and added pen and paper gaming in there as well. I'm not ashamed of my hobby, I haven't been since junior high really and I'm a grown man. I do what I do because I like it and you can see my previous posts regarding my thoughts on those that would judge me for it. I guess I just dread the often necessary explanation of what pen and paper RPG gaming means.

Eventually I said that I primarily play Dungeons and Dragons right now and the individual was familiar with the game, not a player though, and I went on to explain the role of the DM and why exactly I like DMing. The gist of it was that I like narratives. I have a vision of the scenario and the campaign and how my highly idealized versions of the PCs will proceed through it. I like crafting a story and enjoy watching the "real" versions of the PCs get through it and the chaos and hilarity that ensues because of it.

The guy I was talking to was quiet for a few seconds and said, "That would be really interesting to read Clint." Which was kind of cool.

Short one today, more in the near future hopefully.