Wednesday 27 February 2013

WFRP Empire Campaign: Sessions 3,4,5

After a few sessions in New Tilia, our rotating-DM WFRP game took a break from the Border Princes and returned to the Empire, specifically to the city of Bogenhaffen.  I'm also summarizing the previous 2 sessions which took place a couple months back.  I mentioned Session 1 here.

The Roster

  • Sir Blathers A Lot- Elf Noble 
  • "The Trapper"- Elf Gamekeeper who leaves a trail of traps and snares wherever he goes 
  • Maria- Dwarf Mercenary 
  • "Drugs" the Dwarf Pharmacist 
  • Seigwart
  • Sigyn

Session 3

(Played in person)

Party arrives in Bogenhaffen.  Wanders around the fair.  Meets a drunk Dwarf.  Agrees to fetch Dr. Malthuseus' escaped 3-legged Goblin.

Session 4

(Played in person except that I connected via g+)

Party follows the Goblin through the sewers.  Encounters:
  1. Door to the theives' guild
  2. Body of the drunk Dwarf, sans heart
  3. Room guarded by a Demon, which we defeat

Session 5

(Played via Skype--my g+ wasn't working)

The Demon room had a few interesting features:
  • Magically locked cabinet, apparently containing the drunk Dwarf's missing heart
  • Pelvis of the dead Goblin(demon ate it!)
  • Magically locked secret door
  • Handkerchief with initials F.S.
  • Magic Demon summoning circle with words Ordo Septinarius, presumably the name of a cult?  Sort of a weird place to put your cult name...
The party staked out the location, first hearing a guild thief find the Dwarf's body, then getting a creepy feeling.  Feeling uneasy, 4 party members went to talk to the theives' guild.  They didn't appreciate our entering via the back way, and gave us rough treatment, but they also gave us good info.  We then went to the Inn, Boat, Temple of Morr, Dr. Malthuseus, and Magistrate.  In all, we collected a lot of info:

  • Next time enter Thieves' Guild via main entrance
  • F.S. may be Franz Steinheiger--the demon room is built below his family offices
  • chaos moon Morrsleib is full when it should be a crescent
  • Teugen Family's patriarch was poisoned a couple years back, now business is good under his brother
  • Rugbrodder Family competing with Teugens
  • Someone at the city filed a report that the 3-legged goblin was found crushed under fallen boxes in one of Steinheiger's warehouses.  Everyone was repeating this story.  Strange, why the cover-up?


  • A city-sandbox campaign--nice.  I'll try and blog setting details so I'll remember them for later.
  • Published sandboxes are problematic--the DM keeps needing to look up all the details.  I much prefer the efficiency of my Excel sheet approach.  Largely influenced by Renegade Crowns: the Border Princes
  • A murder-mystery.  Never played in one of those.  I'm going to try and blog clues here so I'll actually remember them.
  • It's starting a bit slow.  I'd like a little bit more senseless violence.

Night's Dark Terror, the Aspiring Sandbox

Module B10, Night's Dark Terror, bills itself as a "Special Basic/Expert Transition Module for Levels 2-4".  In the module's introductions, it explains what this means:

That's right.  Basic Play is playing a module with a plotted "Adventure Path" while Expert Play is open-ended "Sandbox-Play".  This module is meant to teach DMs to run a sandbox game.  To do this, NDT provides extensive maps, weather tables, settlement descriptions, and many NPCs.


By setting the goal of Sandbox Play right off the bat, NDT has already won me over.  But I do have a problem with it's layout.  Ultimately, you have to get through 40 pages of material to reach the open-ended part.  I may be wrong, maybe it really takes that long to ease novice DMs into sandbox play.  I think it's too long.  If anything, you are accustoming them to an Adventure Path style of play.

Additionally, if the goal is that NDT will eventually be run as a sandbox, then the structure is all wrong.  I want to be able to easily look-up settlement descriptions, not have to go back and page through the Adventure Path Plot to find them.  I would rather NDT had put all the setting info in the back in reference form, and refer to it in a much shorter adventure-path section.  This might be a little bit harder for novice DMs, but it would be much more instructive in showing how a sandbox is run.

Other Details

That said, I like Night's Dark Terror, to the point that it's one of my favourite TSR modules, up there with B2 Keep on the Borderlands.  Here are some other things I like about it:
  • Goblin Tribes- there are multiple goblin tribes, with tenuous alliances and distinguishing characteristics
  • There are different human groups, with very different cultures
  • There are new monsters, so ultimately this is a setting with it's own feel, while at the same time not being so far from classic DnD
  • There's a nasty, Lovecraftian "Boss Monster" known as the "Thing in the Pit"
  • The PCs are often confronted by adversaries who aren't absolute "bad guys" so it makes for interesting encounters--do they try and pacify them, if they kill them who get's mad, etc.
  • The players start during an upheaval, almost all the Eastern settlements are overrun by Goblins, leaving only about 4 or 5 civilized settlements to discover, each very different from the others
  • Overall, the module has very nice production values.  It is well-organized and quite readable/playable, and has some great maps
  • NDT seems to take some inspiration from X1 The Isle of Dread, both in terms of setting and in terms of style.  Maybe I'll talk about that in a future post

Things I don't like about NDT:
  • I already mentioned that I'd like it to organized more as a reference than as a story
  • There's a paragraph about how it's OK to fudge die-rolls if it increases the fun
  • The whole magically hidden valley thing seems a bit contrived.  Just make it remote and dangerous and that should be sufficient
  • The numbering system can be a bit confusing.  I think this could have been done in a more intuitive way
  • The area just seems a little small to me for the DM to continue running an open-ended sandbox after the party has completed the adventure-path
Anyway, I've heard that WotC is once again selling classic DnD modules like B2.  I wonder if B10 is also on the list...

Monday 18 February 2013

Last Night I Dreamt...

Last night I dreamt that I was with my gaming group in a museum designed by the late, great Gary Gygax.  The place was full of tricks and traps and elevators and one-way doors for people to LARP their way through.  There might have been monsters too, I don't remember.  The worst of the traps were that if you went through a certain door and you were of a certain class, then there was a certain percentage chance(40%) of being instantly killed.  Each class had a door like that at some place in the dungeon(the gift shop door was the door for thieves).  I remember thinking, that's a really lame mechanic.

Then those of us who survived went on to check out my sisters' exhibits in their respective fields of Fashion and Anthropology.   The Anthropology one had more tricks and traps.  I guess that's what I get for gaming till late at night, then going straight to bed...

Sunday 17 February 2013

New Tilia: Session 3

Session 3 was played over Google+, similar to Session 2, but things went more smoothly in that most of the players were on-line at the same time.  It did take about 45 minutes from when the game was called until people started signing on, but that at least gave my wife and I a chance to get-into a game of Settlers of Catan(she was whupping me at that point).

The Roster

  • Sir Blathers A Lot- Elf Noble 
  • "The Trapper"- Elf Gamekeeper who leaves a trail of traps and snares wherever he goes 
  • Maria- Dwarf Mercenary 
  • "Drugs" the Dwarf Pharmacist 
  • Frizband the Fabulous- Wizard's Apprentice 
  • Grim- Dwarf Pit Fighter 

Old Men and Robot Pieces

Following a robot, which had "collected" their Pit-Fighter Grim, the party arrived at a large House on the Badlands, a castle-like place built on a raised area, surrounded by the remains of a stone wall-enclosed garden.  To the South of the wall is a deep declivity.  The party decided to ambush the robot as soon as it granted them ingress to the House.  The robot surprised them, however, when, instead of using the front door, it began to climb the tower with it's many legs.  Deciding the time had come to act, one of the Elves speared the thing and the pit-fighter himself freed his hand and smashed it to bits(rolling up some ridiculous amount of damage thanks to ballooning damage).  In its dying beeps, Frizband was able to catch a comment about "The Mother Brain" but not much else.

Grim and Sir Blathers a lot decided to climb the tower themselves in order to stealthily enter the place.  They were surprised to see a man peek over the edge and begin threatening them with a strange stick-weapon.

Blathers charmed the madman with his winning personality, and was allowed to safely climb-up to the parapet of the tower.  He was met by a well dressed noble Bretonian, in his 60s, holding a rifle and suffering from severe paranoia and lack of sleep.  He introduced himself as John and said he lives in the house with his sister Mary.  The party eventually calmed him down and gained entry with promises of "good tea".   However he was unwilling to leave his post on the parapet unless party members took his place, pointing at a large bird and insisting, "even now they are watching us" and that "we all know what will happen if they make it in here."  (One of the far-sighted elves was able to see that it was some sort of winged humanoid.)

The man's elderly sister had none of his paranoia and was welcoming to the guests.  "Drugs" put him to sleep with a spiked tea and his sister had a couple party members put him to bed.  A robot appeared from the cellar and brought her "food" to prepare and then returned from whence it had came.

Meanwhile, the pair in the watchtower saw someone sneak into the declivity to the South.

Defending the House on the Badlands

The party prepared for a fight that night, with "The Trapper" in the tower, Frizband and "Drugs" watching the back-door, and the fighters at the front-door.  And they got a fight indeed, from a beastman and his gang of mutants.

Two of the mutants went for the front-door while the Beastman and two others took the back, and a winged mutant swooped-down on the Elf in the tower.  The battle was fiercest at the back-door, the door being forced open despite the barricade of furniture the PCs laid down.  But the party eventually repelled the invaders, killing the Beastigor and 3 mutants, while the other 2 escaped into the night, their only significant injury being a crossbow bolt Frizband took to the head.

During the battle a robot brought a metal box to Maria, which Grim figured out was an extra cartridge for John's rifle.  Frizband actually discharged the rifle during the battle, sending a bolt of energy streaking into the wall.

Anyway, once again the GM was disappointed at how well the PCs handled everything he threw at them.

Oh and I suppose you can all guess which William Hope Hodgson novella I read recently.

Oh, and guys, you all get 100XP--well done!

Saturday 2 February 2013

Polish Resistance: Behind the Screen

Well, our group has been focusing on our rotating DM-ship WFRP campaign, such that we probably won't be playing Polish Resistance again any time soon.  As such, I've decided to post my notes from the game, to show how I run a sandbox and also in case anyone out there is looking to run a WWII CP2020-based game and is looking for material. So here they are:

These notes grew step-by-step over the 7 sessions, and whenever I had an idea, I added it.  There's a lot more here than I ever used, but I guess that's the thing about world-building: once you get started, it's hard to stop!  My New Tilia notes look similar, though a lot smaller.

Anyway, here are descriptions of the contents, sheet-by-sheet:

  • Cities- my game map for this was in google maps, which doesn't have any clear boundary, so I made a list of the main locations of interest near the PCs.  There are also a few other potentially interesting locations, in case the players got their hands on an airplane.
  • Sandomierz- detail of the city of Sandomierz
  • Room Generator- this was in case the characters explored the dungeon underneath the city.
  • Organizations, NPCs- Lists of NPCs and their affiliations
  • Oracles- a random event generator based on In a Wicked Age oracles.
  • Missions- a random mission generator.
  • Encounters- a random encounter generator.
  • Goodies- a treasure generator.
  • Hirelings- potential Allies and their stats.
  • Combat Stats- Stats of various friends/foes.
  • Equipment- Stats for WWII-era equipment

Anyway, that's the material I used to run the game, besides a few blog posts which never got copied to the spreadsheet.  I guess I'm a little surprised that you don't see more game products in this sort of format.