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Month: September 2010

What’s In Your Bag?

This is my bag.

Tom Bihn Ristretto

This is what I carry in it when I’m running LFR.

The things inside

From left to right, more or less: three encounters worth of miniatures, a bag of dice, my iPad, a thin notebook, a pouch of beads for marking zones and such, a pouch of pens and pencils, a pouch of dry erase markers, a tube of Alea Tools magnets, a pouch of Alea Tools magnets, a bunch of index cards, a big pouch with the module in it, a big pouch with battlemats in it, and the Rules Compendium.

The big pouches clip to the outside of the bag, which looks goofy but it keeps everything together and safe from rain. All the other pouches have places to clip inside the bag. There’s a pocket inside for the index cards, and another one that fits the tube of magnets very nicely. I’m going to put the rest of the magnets in tubes eventually as well. 

It’s all remarkably convenient.

94. Raven Knights (MINI 2-3)

Raven Knights one! more! time!

This finished up my run of the Raven’s Bluff campaign. Susan, Hudson, Mark B., Jason B., and Colin played. I think everyone had a good time; I certainly did, despite being rather thrashed. This cold is sucking, let me tell you. 

The PCs were quite clever and came up with an idea unanticipated by either the module or by me. It didn’t work, due to factors beyond their knowledge, but the failure of the idea did reveal certain other things and before you could blink they were avoiding a certain unfortunate event. It worked out really well, and I was pleased to be able to reward cleverness without handing them everything on a silver platter. 

93. What Storms May Come (CORE 1-14)

Yep, again! I think that makes the third time I’ve run and/or played What Storms May Come. Both times playing have been because I had a character who wanted to complete the quest, and I ran it by request, so hey.

This time was online, with Tsriel running. Matt, Jay Ibero, Dareus, Zalarian, Shamballa, and I played. We did something I really hadn’t expected: namely, took the baby into combat. Well. But given that we did a 1.5 round crush of the final encounter, I guess that was a reasonable choice. Also it means Collin has golden eyes, which fits nicely with the bear thing.

Cool/funny stuff that happened: Collin did 0 damage in the first fight. He spent a bunch of the second fight working his way down to the monsters, since Tsriel altered the map somewhat and removed the ice slides. In the third fight, he caused over 100 points of damage in a round for the first time ever, thanks to a couple of damaging zones provided by Matt’s character Luminos. And he hit level 12, so that’s satisfying.

92. Raven Knights (MINI 2-3)

Jason kindly agreed to finish up the Raven’s Bluff slot 0 for us, so we played down at Games & Stuff back last Sunday. Busy weekend – we had guests in from out of town, and so on and so forth – but I figured hey, worth a bit of extra effort and all. Plus I got to pick up the awesome Rules Compendium. Plus Kevin seemed likely to hit level 3.

Peter couldn’t make it, but that opened up a spot for Good Tony. Also playing: Mark B., Hudson, Jimmy, and Amanda. Unfortunately it was not the most sterling example of gaming ever; we just seemed to be on a different wavelength than Jason and I think everyone got a bit stressed. No biggie, sometimes bad games happen. In the end we failed to save the Cup of Truth but Kevin still hit level 3. I’m not even bummed that he can’t become a knight – it’s not his style.

91. Ravens Under the Midday Sun (MINI 2-2)

Part 2 in my Return to Raven’s Bluff run! My players were, once more, Susan, Colin, Hudson, Jason B., and Mark B. Ravens Under the Midday Sun is more of a dungeon crawl – well, it’s almost completely a dungeon crawl, with a bit of investigatory roleplay on the tail end. I rather enjoyed it, but I don’t have a ton to say about it.

Hm. The skill challenge portion of the exploration could be better, I’ll say that. But I could have made it better myself if I’d done a bit of prep. The problem (for me) is that it’s all group checks, and all group checks are mandatory, which means it played out as narrative, “everyone roll X,” narrative, and so on. I could have handled it better by maybe giving everyone a round to make knowledge-ish checks, and then a round where everyone has to try and help in some way? Something like that. If I ever run it again, I’ll fiddle with it a bit.

90. Twisted Roots Run Deep (AGLA 1-6)

The second module of the day was Twisted Roots Run Deep. Interesting times. Susan ran; you may not be surprised to learn that the players were me, Jimmy, Amanda, Hudson, Jason B., and Mark B. 

I like it when Susan runs urban modules, because she really brings the NPCs to life for me. There’s a moral question in the last fight, and I suspect the range of PC reactions may be a bit more varied than the author expected. I think, when all’s said and done, that it’s a touch darker than the general tone of the Forgotten Realms. Definitely a sharp lefthand turn from the What Storms May Come, which under certain circumstances has an orc carrying a baby into combat. So are kids safe in 4e fights? Um.

Man, that’s a good title for the adventure, though. I only just realized.

89. What Storms May Come (CORE 1-14)

We played What Storms May Come as the first slot of MiniMoreCon V up at our place; I ran, and Susan, Husdon, Jimmy, Amanda, Mark B., and Jason B. played. I fiddled a bit with the first skill challenge and combat, just to keep things fresh for Jimmy. He’s run it about a million times before.

The only real criticism I have of this mod is that the maps are too darned big. Seriously: the first two barely fit on a full Paizo battle mat. Other than that it’s fun, the fights are challenging, and so on. Hm, and it can run a bit long – three skill challenges and three fights, phew. But it’s a good finale to a good major quest.

Also, see previous troll picture. Man, I wish HDR photography was gonna work on the iPhone 3GS. Well, we’ll upgrade next summer.

August Summary

Back in the GMing saddle! August saw 10 games; I GMed 4 of them, mostly online. All my face to face games included Susan, which is just how I like it and continues her tendency to be my most common play partner. I’m continuing to cruise towards the 100 game goal. Perhaps I will bake a cake. 

88. Killing the Messenger (CORE 2-1)

Killing the Messenger is one of my favorite LFR modules; it’s flexible, full of options, and it’s a great part of the Elturgard plot line. I had a blast when I played it, and I had a blast running it, even if we maybe could have probably used a bit of practice in playing quickly online. Six hours is kind of a long run.

My players were Jay Ibero, Matt J., Dareus, misterjester, swornsoldier, and Oskar 581. Jay got a lot of milage out of GM swaps with me in those last couple of weeks of August. This module completed my August LFR adventures, woo!

87. A Mourning of Ravens (MINI 2-1)

I wanted to pay back Jason B. for running the Return to Raven’s Bluff mini campaign as a slot 0, plus I wanted Susan to get a chance to play, so I’m running the series on alternate Sundays down at Games & Stuff. I ran the first one on 8/29.

Jason B., Mark B., Hudson, Susan, and Colin played. It was nice to see Colin again – hadn’t played with all month thanks to him moving and schedule problems and so on. It’s also a solid adventure, as is not surprising: it’s from Keith and Claire Hoffman. There’s a big chunk of investigation in the middle which is quite satisfyingly freeform. If you hate skill challenges, you could do far worse than check out the investigatory skill challenges in this year’s LFR modules.

It’s maybe not entirely clear to the players when they hit the conclusion, but there’s a useful carrot/stick the GM can use to guide them more or less effectively. The price you pay for freeform modules is relying on GMs to adapt on the fly; I think it’s a good price. Looking forward to the next one next week.