Friday, November 26, 2010

Session 6 (7.5) Play Report

Arriving at the castle's gatehouse at the top of a bluff, they try to force their way through the sorcerous fog that repels them.  As a result everyone is turned into a frog and teleported away.  Twenty-four hours pass and they return to their normal forms, but another day of their already limited time is wasted in the process.

Back at the castle, they rappel down into the ravine.  They explore some cave mouths and fight off goblins, snakes and bats.  Finally, they are ready to enter into the caverns that penetrate the plateau upon which the castle rests.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Session 5 (7.5) Play Report

Taking a smaller side trail, the party arrives at dusk at a small farm consisting of some pens, a barn and a cottage.  A young human girl tries to warn them away after they knock on the door seeking lodging.  Soon the ogre who lives there tries to scare them off, but they grow suspicious after he slams the door in their faces and start snooping around the barn.  Slanky Rice steps on a discarded rake, which slams him in the face, and the commotion startles the swine in the barn, as well as the children locked within, as it turns out.  Combat with the ogre soon follows, and he flees after they defeat him.  Rescuing the children the party finds out the ogre had killed their parents and kept them as slaves.  The hobbit liberates the ogre's swine from the barn as well.  The next morning they escort the children to Hawfair Green for safety and Darged is granted free stabling rights for his goats and swine while they return to the Witchwood in search of the Castle of the Mad Mage.  After a chance encounter with a starving bear, which makes off with a goat, the party follows the Old Castle Track to the end.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Session 4 (7.5) Play Report

Continuing on their way, the party eventually passes the hamlet of Hawfair Green and enters into the Witchwood.  They note the woods' mists and eerie nature.  Soon a woman's voice cuts through the trees and the mist in a lilting song.  Plugging their ears with finger or wool, they flee deeper into the forest, leaving the siren's call far behind.  Then the thunderous pounding of footsteps approaches and most of the party scatters and hides.  Only the hobbit and his smallish herd of goats stay on the trail.  An emerald palanquin carried by giant green golems stops and easily detects those hiding after the hobbit addresses the rider in the palanquin.  A conversation with the Witch Queen ensues, and after she takes her leave, the party continues down the Old Castle Track as dusk looms.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Session 3 (7.5) Play Report

The party decides to leave Arys and head north to the Witchwood to investigate a wizard's keep said to be located there.  It is rumored to be full of treasures, and the party hopes this will allow them to quickly gather enough gold to get the Thieves' Guild off their backs.  Along the way they meet a man named Garsen sitting on a large chest in the middle of the road. After a brief conversation in which he tells them his master sent him with his cargo to Arys but that his transportation broke down and he is stranded but briefly, they leave him alone (even though some of the party is tempted to attack him and steal his chest).  After an afternoon of hunting and gathering (and obligatory goat training), the night watch is attacked by two wolf-like creatures.  Magick and weapons do not affect them, but the party eventually drives them off.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

House Rules Alert

One of the great things that came about in the development of T&T combat - way back in the late 70s/early 80s in an old issue of Sorcerer's Apprentice - is Spite Damage.  It adds a great element of unpredictability to combat (that can often be pretty predictable after a foe's toughness is established, especially after it is wounded).  Spite damage can really take its toll on a party however, greatly so at lower levels when PCs are wimpier and without magical protections against such things.  For the decade or so now that I have been using Spite, it has really changed the dynamics of combat compared to what it used to be like in my early days of T&T.

In my games, when you roll a 6, you have several options:
     1.  use it for Spite
     2.  'explode it' (i.e., count the 6 toward HPT and reroll)
     3.  use it for Anti-Spite (i.e., use it defensively to eliminate a point of the foe's Spite damage)
     4.  'burn it' (This is one of my favorite options because it causes an interesting dynamic in the party.  When you 'burn it', it doesn't count toward Spite, Anti-Spite or explode, but instead grants that player 50AP.  This can be quite a temptation to quickly accumulate AP, but is often perceived by other players as selfish.  On at least one occasion multiple 6s have been cashed in for a big AP payout, only to have that character die of Spite at the end of the combat round - Spite which could have been easily avoided by using the 6s toward the party's Anti-Spite total.)

The idea of burning the 6 has been batted around on the internet in various T&T related sites for at least a decade.  It was eventually pinned down in a semi-official format, and thus may be most familiar to readers, as an option in the bootleg 6th edition of T&T.

Anyway, in my T&T I like KISS, but I also like choices for the players to make.  This keeps it fresh and requires strategy on their part.  These options allow for a KISSable way to offer strategic options.  This, along with lots of Saving Rolls in combat to try various stunts, makes combat an exciting part of the game.

Source Material

I meant to do this earlier; I think this is a given, but....  In the Dream Evil II campaign I am drawing from a number of sources and mixing it all up into its own soupy goodness (I hope).  Ideas are being drawn from various blogs - as noted in a previous post, music I listen to, books I am currently reading (Vance, CAS, HPL, St. Andre's Rose of Stormgaard), various incarnations of Castle Greyhawk/Maure Castle/ERK, old issues of the Hobbit Hole, and Fight On!  So far what has largely made appearances is FO! stuff from the Sandbox, Pentastadion and Enharza articles.

I am not taking great strides to 'conceal' this source material, but at the same time I don't want to take huge amounts of time citing each source either.  In spite of the many sources, I greatly manipulate the material and the inspiration I draw from things might be as simple as using a name that has appeared elsewhere but that has been completely twisted out of context.  Some things I rip off whole cloth.  Much of the things that will appear are completely my own ideas.

I bring all of this up just to state that I am not intending to challenge the intellectual property of others in this blog; I am merely recycling the good ideas of others for the reasons of gaming with my family and friends and then posting it here for entertainment purposes.  No slight is intended.

Session 2 (7.5) Play Report

After dumping the thief in the stables, the party follows up on the rumor regarding tentacled horrors in the canals.  Down at the docks they see a gang of slaves being led onboard of a strange metallic ship, flying a pirate flag (red circle on black field, with two smaller reddish-grey orbs superimposed on the upper right edge of the larger circle), seemingly captained by a crimson-skinned human.  After observing for a while, they decide not to get involved - both slavery and piracy are accepted in Arys.

Pausing near the canal, Darged the hobbit decides to take a moment to attempt to train his goat (he has a Talent in training goats to be attack animals).  Before he can finish his session as 'goat-whisperer', a barbed tentacle rises out of the septic canal and snatches up the goat, which bleats out its last seconds of life in a wild panic.  Combat with the poly-tentacled thing ensues; after a few moments two humanoid piscean monstrosities leap out of the canal to join the fray on the side of the tentacles.  The party is routed and flees for their lives.

Several blocks away it becomes obvious they are being stalked by dozens of shadowy figures on rooftops and the dark recesses of alleys and door wells.  The party halts and two men approach.  One is the thief who had been dumped in the stable, looking eager for revenge.  The 'leader' engages them in a 'discussion' that boils down to the fact that freelance thieves and adventurers in Arys are unwelcome and acts against the Guild won't be tolerated (urinating on members is apparently a big no-no in the Guild's bylaws....).  They are given a ten day grace period to cough up 300gp each to become Guild members, or else if they are discovered in Arys again, things will go badly for them.  When they ask how they can come up with that kind of gold, a mysterious keep to the north in the Witchwood is sarcastically suggested as a potential place to plunder.  It is rumored to be a great storehouse of treasures - for those who can survive to take it.  With that, the shadows merge back into the darkness and the party is left alone on the dark streets of Arys to ponder its options.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Level Progressions 5.5 vs. 7.5

One of the things I will be most interested in seeing, as I monitor and compare my 5.5 and 7.5 campaigns, is how level progressions match up.  Right now, after two sessions in the 7.5 campaign (although I've only posted one report thus far), the party average of accumulated AP is 477.  While attributes have been raised by everyone thus far, no one has gone up in level.  Compared to a 5.5 campaign, PCs would be half-way to second level now but would have experienced no attribute raises.  However, the fact that PCs started at various levels - one as high as 3rd level, as is the nature of 7.5 - complicates the issue.  While this once played havoc with my idea of how to balance a campaign, I now find the comparison between editions a fascinating case study.  We will see how it plays out long term.

Session 1 (7.5) Play Report

We started our new campaign, which I am calling "Dream Evil II" (as a way to wrap up many lose ends from a previous campaign [can you guess what it was called?]).  Hearing of turmoil and potential war in the Khazani Empire (1300 AK) after a dream-haunted proclamation by the Silver Sage of Knor, the PCs decide to leave for safer parts and travel by ship to the largely unexplored (in my previous campaigns) south, to an area near the Dragon's Claws called Arysia.  Zalerc the elven rogue had previously spent time there, and en route told the others how he had enemies within the Thieves' Guild of Thesia, a neighboring - but rival - city to Arys. As Thesia is called the City of Vultures, Zalerc calls members of the Thesian Thieves' Guild 'Vultures'.

Arriving in Arys - City of the Seven Sorcerers - Darged the hobbit rogue and master herder of goats sets out to trade his livestock while the others gamble and get a room at the Fiery Ruby. The PCs' room is 302, and based on the constant traffic into room 301, they realize something strange is going on next door.  They also hear rumors that tentacled horrors are snatching people near the canals for sacrifice to a sea goddess.

While Bluebell the fairy wizard does surveillence on 301, the healer, Slanky, starts an altercation with a rough ne'er-do-well preparing to enter by urinating on him and is almost killed before Zalerc intervenes and knocks out the man.  Slanky has to use a Hero Point already to avoid being slain by his foe before help arrives.  Hopefully the youngest trollson learned something about impulse control....  The PCs manage to sneak the unconscious man down to the stables (Weekend at Bernie's) and dump him there, making it look like he drank himself into a stuppor.

Friday, October 1, 2010

7.5 Campaign Characters and Setting

Let's see, between the five players in the 7.5 campaign, we have the following:  (trollwife) Level 3 fairy wizard named Bluebell Stardust; (oldest trollson [11]) Level 1 elf rogue named Zalerc Twigsnap; (second oldest trollson [10]) Level 2 hobbit rogue named Darged Darksoul; (third oldest trollson [7]) Level 2 dwarf warrior named Ruffy; (youngest trollson [6]) Level 1 human specialist wizard: healer named Slanky Rice (of the Python Clan of Dargonaths).  For the record, they all conceived and named their own characters.  As noticed, due to the nature of 7.5 we have some range amongst the levels of the starting PCs.  I'll be curious to see how this affects play.  As I grant one Hero Point (ala Tori Berquist) per level, some players already have a huge bonus over others.

What I am planning for this campaign:  to do a minimal amount of pre-planning and just let things progress as we play them out.  I will make heavy use of ramdom tables to keep play unanticipated for everyone, including me.  There will be a large city - Arys - near a megadungeon - Castle Ycaea.  I have been plotting out Castle Ycaea (in different incarnations) in my head for years, so that will be largely somewhat preconceived.  Recently I have been somewhat influenced by Dwimmermount campaign reports, so some of that may creep in under other guises.  I expect to set the campaign on my world of Catalyst (my take on Trollworld), but at some point just before the war against Zweetz (1300ish AK).  It will be located in some far southern realm, perhaps near the Dragon's Claws, and largely removed from the conflict.  The conflict will creep in as tension and such, but isn't expected to become the focus of the campaign.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wow, Time Flies

So, it has already been a month since I posted a second time to the blog.  Ouch.  I can blame camping and the start of a new college semester and regular school and other things, but I guess it is just due to my own inadequacies as a human being.  Whatever.  In the gapping lapse of time I have decided that I will use this as a comparison between my already-established 5.5 house-ruled monthly girlie campaign and the new 7.5 by-the-book (except for a few minor quibbles) campaign to be played as a family on a weekly basis.

When 7e came out I had (more than) a few issues with it.  I think I have rectified those now, but I am still curious how 5e (what I know so well after 28 years of play - OMFG) will hold up against 7.5.  Or vice-versa.  Strangely, for what I have in mind for the campaign progression, I think 7.5 might be a better fit.  We will see.  My vision is of an Old School, Dark/Pulp fantasy feel where each dungeon level roughly matches the PCs' character level.  [My old balance issues were that PC levels 1-3 matched up best with the first level of a dungeon, and so on.]  I'm thinking HPL, CAS, JV rather than Tolkien or even KSA....  My play will also be influenced by game reports by blog kings James Maliszewski and Zak Sabbath, both of whom play D&D, but who exhibit the right attitude toward gaming so I can excuse their misunderstanding of what a good RPG is really about.  ;).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Give It Another Go

Here we are again, trying the blogthing a second time, and also revisiting 7th-plus edition Tunnels & Trolls. After having played 5th edition since 1983, I knew the system inside and out, knew how to balance it the way I wanted to play it, and knew the setting (my take on Trollworld) intimately as well. When 7e came out I eagerly bought my copy, rounded up a group of eager but inexperienced players, developed a new setting (based off of the Lejentia material) and went about starting a fresh campaign after more than 20 years in the previous one!

We started to play, and everyone enjoyed the ruleset and the first. Soon, difficulties set in...ah, what a glorious goatscrew it became. Part of the problem was the setting - Lejentia is awesome, and has great stuff...for low level and high level. But at mid-level there isn't much and filling in all of the gaps myself was too burdensome. The other issue, and more what I am concerned about in this blog, was the rules for 7e. Your taste may vary, but to me the rules were broken, and that became obvious very quickly. First level SR for a Ranger to hit any target? Um, no. Ditto on Leaders' ability to influence people. 100x the attribute for leveling purposes? Way too slow, but at the same time, Talents became super-inflated very quickly and characters were easily able to make pretty much any SR. To what I was used to in 5e, things were out of sync with each other and the balance was quickly lost. I pulled the plug on that campaign after about 6 months and went back to a modified version of 5e (and Trollworld), with the best bits of 7e added as house rules - Talents (without inflation), new types, new spells and equipment, a different way to handle magic resistance. It has all been working fine for the past year or two now.

However, with 7.5 resolving some of my issues, and what I feel now is a better understanding of the differences between editions, I've been wondering what another crack at it might be like. Now that school is starting back up, and a regular routine will be re-established, I want to start a new campaign for my sons on Friday nights. I think that 7.5 will fit the approach I want to take with the setting and main dungeon I am building. This will be an experiment to see if I can find the balance I want using 7.5. I plan to blog about our sessions and any gaming related issues that arise.