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Apologies and Adventure!

For steadfast readers who might have looked into my website, my Terminus books website, or my Conan Exiles server I host (server name is Phineas for anyone interested in checking it out – I’m always anxious to get more players on it) over the last couple of days I have to apologize. First off there was a power outage that killed my server. Then (today) I installed a new server and moved my databases over to it. There was downtime associated as I had to do some extra work to get the routings set up right. Everything should be up and running properly now though.

Now then, while power was out it was a great opportunity to get a little further into the adventure. The kids (Cody the paladin and Josephine the monk) were well rested and set out to talk with farmer Sherman. After interrupting him miking his cows they had a conversation that was only mildly confusing. They learned of two strange people – a man and a woman – that wandered off the road to the south and into the hills. They also learned that farmer Sherman knew of a Dahlia that was Baron von Griffinmount’s daughter, but had not heard of the Dahlia that they served for (she’s a merchant’s daughter).

Some fumbling around at the road’s edge (a 1 rolled on a perception check, for example) ensued and eventually they marched off into the south with no idea what to look for her or where to look for it. Instead they crested a hill and found a group of rocks complete with enough bush-cover to leave them clueless… save for the muttering in a language they weren’t familiar with (Dwarvish).

They crept closer but weren’t very stealthy about it. The voice spoke again (in Dwarvish) demanding to know who was out there and what they wanted. When they didn’t respond the dwarf barked thieves, a command word for his dog, and charged out of the weeds. They had to fight a large mastiff and the unusual dwarven prospector and, thanks to some convenient 20s, the fight ended with little more than a strike from the dwarf’s pickaxe hitting Cody. Both kids were upset at having to fight and kill a dog though, and now they both want to get a pet of their own (argh).

Amidsts some more fumbled rolling for tracking (1s are a DMs best friend) they eventually found the tracks of their suspected targets and continued their journey. An hour or two saw them to the edge of a shimmering forest. Upon closer examination they realized the shimmering was the sun reflecting off of the very fine spiderwebs that stretched from tree to tree and branch to branch. Numerous tiny spiders could be seen weaving their webs, which prompted the mighty paladin to cower in terror (he’s not big on spiders), even after it was explained to him that the spider silks are gathered by silk farmers (people) who have a way to weave them into some of the strongest and most beautiful silks in the world. The spiders themselves are harmless.

Since the tracks led into the forest, they had to follow them. After another hour or so of hiking Jo (Josephine) got distracted and walked into a tree (even monks have bad days). That noise prompted a wild boars to burst out of a nearby thicket and charge. Cody was ready this time and met it halfway. After their first exchange of blows the boar’s mate came crashing out of the same bushes and bore down on Cody (get it? the boar bore down on him).

Cody was gored a couple of times by the boars but managed to triumph. Josephine saw the boars as marvelous animals and refused to join the fight. Cody, to get her back for abandoning him, butchered one so he could have bacon when next they camped. I also explained to Jo (after the fact) that she could have attacked the boars (or the dwarf’s dog) with the intent to knock them unconscious and not kill them. It was my fault for not letting her know that earlier as it slipped my mind (and I was enjoying the turmoil in the party).

With that dispute resolved, they returned to trying to track Dahlia. The battle caused Cody to lose his bearings though. Fortunately Jo hadn’t moved so she picked up the trail and led them through the forest as they day grew long and the air thicker. The trees became darker and their leaves longer and broader. Even the ground began to grow moist as the forest turned to jungle.

It was there, on the edge of the jungle that they decided to camp. The sun had long since dropped below the mountains in the west and there was precious little light to see by. The gaming session ended for the night, short but fun for all. Stay tuned for part 3, whenever we can get to it. Hopefully that will be the end of their first official adventure, although their second one begins immediately – they just don’t know it yet!

 

Now some GM notes on fifth edition as I’m learning it. I have to admit, I like it so far. Players seem overpowered compared to monsters, but I think that’s my fault as much as anything. After all, I’m accustomed to old editions where these monsters would be more of a challenge to 1st level adventurers so I’m not throwing as much or as many against them. I did toughen them up a bit after the first session though, and I think I’ve found a better balance.

One other thing I really like is the dismissal of a lot of bonuses and penalties that really bogged the game down. Situational modifiers and circumstantial adjustments adding or subtracting from the die roll complicated things for DMs and players alike – or at least slowed the game down. In 5e they have a simple way of handling things – a roll is normal, advantage, or disadvantaged. A normal roll is a single 20 sided die like normal for attacks, saving throws, skill checks, or whatever. In the case of an advantaged roll two 20 sided dice (2d20) are rolled. The better roll is taken and then normal modifiers used. In a disadvantaged roll, 2d20 are rolled and the lower roll is taken. Roll 20s on both or 1s on both and it goes from critical (success / failure) to epic – I’m not sure if that’s in the rule books or not but it’s one I’m implementing.

So what can make a roll advantaged? Lots of things. One player declaring that he wants to use his combat action to help another, for example (e.g. distracting an opponent giving the other player an advantaged attack), fighting against an impaired target, having some magical boon or luck, etc.. A disadvantage can be had if you’re on the receiving end of such tactics. It’s early and my brain isn’t kicking in yet, but there are a lot of different reasons for advantage or disadvantage, including many pack hunting monsters that are next to the same target automatically gaining advantage because of their combat styles.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got some work to outside in between rain storms. That and probably more adjustments and enhancements to my new server to make. Somewhere along the way I have to fit in more writing too. The Goblin Queen has reached volume length already and there is a lot of story left to tell before it’s over!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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