30 days roleplaying – a motivational start into 2019

Part I: Preparation

01.01.2019 What advice would you give a first-time GM? (Roundup)

No matter what you prepare, your own world, a premade module – never forget you and your friends at the table. For me the key on roleplaying and especially as a dungeon master is understanding what you want to experience. A good dungeon master knows which background should be integrated to captivate players and he prepares for this. Your group might enjoy living a stream-lined, “railroaded” adventure to find out what is the outcome, which is (in my opinion) totally fine. Especially a new game-master might be overwhelmed by the choices and options on table, so efficient preparation is key. I tend to use notes (Onenote is a digital favorite, while paper is my analogue favorite) of strengths and weaknesses for every character as well as some hints on background which I want to take into account during game sessions.

02.01.2019 What are your favorite GMing tools or accessories? (Roundup)

My favorite tool for character generation is Herolab. I tend ot use this for Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Shadowrun and probably would use it for every other supported game as well. I think the pricing for the app, especially with modules, is high, but the quality delivered is really good. I enjoyed using this as player and dungeon master. The later for a character portfolio overview and management of the character sheets.
I also own a copy of Realm Works which I think is fabulous for world creation and in-depth preparation. In my opinion the best tool available to keep track on the wide picture, the storylines, especially when you’re having several interwoven. It’s a campaign management tool, allows a lot of portraits and map-management which I think can be a great success factor to visualize and help the imagination of your players which some “details”. The fog-of-war approach for dungeons is great, so you’ve 100% overview as game master and can reveal step by step more when it is discovered. It also helps with downtime communication, as platform for your players to get some information and jump right into your campaign.
Finally, for my last adventures I did prepare on Onenote which is in my opinion the most versatile notepad and I like the cloud functionality between mobile phone, tablets and laptop/desktop. It helps me structuring information, makes easy access for pdf, pictures and text. For me it’s an easy and quick tool, which I use when there’s no giant backstory, no large campaign and only few recurring characters. I also tend to use this as player, linking my herolab pdf chars with backstory and the ongoing adventure journal.

03.01.2019 How do you find players?

To be honest, I stopped searching a while ago. In the area where I live it was challenging but not impossible since Vienna is quite near. Since I’ve grown older I have to admit I enjoy playing with friends, those I know and I’m not hunting for new ones. With my current “2018-not-so-regular” round I’ve played for more than twenty years, some of them longer, others shorter. Some other friends back from my days at the HTL are also into the hobby. E.g. I had a blast with Ludwig and the newly formed Vampire 5th edition party and I really did enjoy dungeon crawling with Kathrin. I’ve tried playing with Karl again, but that didn’t work out for unknown reasons – probably me and my business trips (as usual). Anyways I think if you’re looking for a group, go to your local game-store (Planet Harry would be the best around Vienna) and – ask. The internet of course is also a vast resource but I think the former is much more personal and more likely to have you happy in the end of your search. One key thing that changed for me over the year: the game and rulework behind it got less and less important – the players and their personal style makes the game enjoyable – setting and rules are nice to haves but I’ve had fun in DSA with role-play-heavy gamers and I had a bad time with clueless rulessearchers in FATE. Pick your friends wisely, you might have the same experience and spend the next 20+ years with them, regularly.

04.01.2019 Do you use pre-published adventures or write your own?

I tend to write my own adventures, I’ve a (quite heavy) selection of adventures, adventures paths, campaign settings and use them, I’ve spent countless hours in taking ideas out, merging them into both digital and old-school DM folders. I’ve tons of maps (especially for Cyberpunk/Shadowrun) and love to use them. In the end-effect it depends very much on who I’m playing with, what their expectations and game-style are, but usually I end up with 30% written and 70% improvised dm-ing. If the term is correct, I would call it open-world roleplaying – a preference I have as player and tend to offer to my players as well. Meaning I have some basic plotlines, I evolve the world around them, whether they interact or ignore it and I prefer character based events and stories over third-party driven events. That goes best with a good chunk of improvisation, since your players will always surprise you. by the way the same is true for pre-published adventures, I only feel at home if the improvisation is working out, so if a character turns to Baldur’s Gate instead of Waterdeep during a pre-published adventure, I might give him one or two hints to stay, but would rather skip or adapt the adventure than force him at all costs to stay in the right “rail”.

05.01.2019 Stealing like an artist: what inspiration have you drawn from other games, books, movies, etc?

I guess a lot, over the years I loved “stealing” some game inspiration from books like Markus Heitz’ Shadowrun compilations and I’ve also drawn some hints from Paul S. Kemp’s Erevis Cale Trilogy and various of Salvatore’s novels. What I think the best hints and treasures were are not so much on single ideas. Building a consistent storyline, background ideas that went deeper and not so straight hero or villain, black & white characters tend to be easier, but especially with the right group it’s all about the shades.

06.01.2019 Worldbuilding–what’s your process?

My take on worldbuilding is – get some NPC’s to start, if necessary create a pantheon and a map to start with. Decide on the size and then, for me, it’s all start at the first city and some surroundings. Depending on your plan that might be all you ever need. I’ve fully adopted this “quick” route especially for Planescape and planes-hopping games. No need to fully draw this picture if you only need a glimpse on it before you go on.

07.01.2019 How do you prep for the start of a campaign?

I talk to the players. Honestly I think this is the most underrated and at the same time most essential preparation for a campaign. You can always look into regions, countries, planes, nscs and many other things, but nothing beats talking to the players. One by one tends to work best for me, to narrow down expectations and concentrate on the key points and bringing them into the joint first session to make them part of the unwritten manifesto for the campaign. Of course players (or you yourself) might change your mind, but that way the starting direction should be aligned and most likely you’ll have a lot more fun than just starting a campaign. I think this is true for both self-written as well as pre-written adventures.

08.01.2019 How do you prep for each session?

Depends very much on the game and whether I’m used to the players or not. For a campaign I tend to have outlines for the plot and a good selection of maps. Depending on the genre I’ve more material available and can start with a good selection or do my research through my shelf and the internet if necessary. If time allows, which hasn’t been of late, I love to give a wrapup for myself with all NPC actions taken since the last episode. One of the most important tools is our joint overview of the last session, makes sure everyone is on the same starting point for the session.

09.01.2019 Player “homework”: what do you ask of your players before and between sessions?

Nothing, honestly. It’s great if they find time, but I’m totally happy if we manage a game session nowadays. Given additional “homework” seems rather unnecessary to me.

10.01.2019 What are your tips for running a low/no prep game?

Pick a playstyle and setting  that suits your personal preferences. If you like high-fantasy, I would expect that your necessity for prep in this setting is low. When you like action games, I imagine you know combat rules and how to set scenes to make them interesting. Prepare some core milestones, pick some NPCs according to your players background to get them (en)tangled. And most importantly – enjoy.

Part II: At the Table

11.01.2019 House rules: what are your favorite hacks, mods, and shortcuts?

Wow, I would say for pathfinder that’s wound-points. For Shadowrun that’s an easy take on security and simple-rolls for hacking. In general I like rules-easy and speeding things up to have more time for ROLE-playing over ROLL-playing.

12.01.2019 Table rules: how do you keep players focused on the game?

We have an easy entry by wrapping up recent events from the last game with everyone present. Until we have a dinner-break usually that keeps most of us focused. If anyone has to take an urgent call, that’s fine – with most of my rounds at least. We’re all grown ups – so everyone is able to focus on the game. If he has other tasks (family, work, …) that’s fine with our groups.

13.01.2019 Rise to the challenge: how do you balance encounters in your system?

Usually – I don’t. I try to give players information on the opponents, but since I try to run more of an “open world” approach, I also think that you cannot attack everything in your line of fire (or shouldn’t for that matter). On the other hand, I try to give also an idea on the scenario and with rising levels or competency the team gets more choices for harder encounters, harder uses for skills and even the “roleplaying” tends to get a little bit more challenging when I know players found their way into their characters for a long-enough time.

14.01.2019 How do you facilitate combat? Any tips, tools, or cheats?

Well, I would say initiative tracking is one important key. A constant reminder of having players prepare their action before it is their turn, so they have an idea when it is finally their turn. As DM I think it’s incredible important to be fluent with picturesque language, infecting the rest with it – that heavily contributes in my understanding to raise the bar for everyone with getting deeper into the story and especially during combat with helping everyone to visualize what comes to pass.

In Shadowrun I love the cheat sheets, the more complex and more options a rulesystems gives, the more I rely on aforementioned helpers.

Finally I think maps are important. As DM I appreciate it if you bring a minature to the table, but having a map allows for using dice or coins or even gummy candy as your hero. Especially for a combat heavy game that’s great, leading everyone to see what they’re able to see, what is in their line of fire and whether the fireball will effect their companions before it actually came to 72 damage and is distributed to more than your enemies.

15.01.2019 Memorable villains: how do you introduce and weave the antagonist/s into the ongoing narrative?

That’s one great topic. I think the art of dungeon mastering evolves more around villains and a good use for the various different kinds of antagonists against the players. Twisted or straight-forward, conscient or by chance, vile or righteous… A well laid out campaign usually needs sooner or later a villain, and I admit – I don’t always start with one. Especially in quick/no prep games, I think a villain should emerge from the scenario, maybe from a background of another player, mayhap from the innkeeper that was severely harmed by the ruthless brawl the characters got into and that destroyed much of what he worked his whole life for… More powerful ones are easier to evolve over time, since you only need to introduce henchman and every one you introduce contributes to the bigger picture, allowing the expectations and (in)fame to take a firm grasp in the setting before villain and protagonists ever meet.

16.01.2019 Investigation and mysteries: how do you use foreshadowing, red herrings, and keep the tension rising?

Oh, I love foreshadowings very much. As player and DM alike. I tend to carry various sets of tarot cards (KULT, Shadowrun, DSA, cats, cyberpunk….) and really like the use of divination magic. As player I actively ask for insights and as dungeon master I try to provide useful hints and ideas whenever my players are using the later.

Red Herrings can be okay / nice / useful, but I’ve probably used too many and with my players most often on their ways in open world settings, I don’t need more distraction than the world itself provides. Of course I copy – as mentioned before – movies and books, stories and plothooks – since I like crime – that tends to be a good inspiration to have a diversion from the main plot or villain. Again, I would recommend to use what your own players hand you – background story, family, friends, villains – it gets a lot closer to them and keeps them involved – continuously having the tension level rising by itself.

17.01.2019 Structure and time: how do you use flashbacks, cut scenes, and parallel narratives in your games?

That depends heavily on the scenario. We’ve instrumentalized “flashbacks” in early Shadowrun campaigns, I also liked dream / vision like inspirations quite well, if I was out of convenient standard options. I’ve the feeling cut-scenes are more of a pc-thingy and don’t use them at all, while parallel narratives are great. I really mean great – that’s a nice inspiration for my next gamemastering session – maybe I let some of the characters participate in more timelines simultaneously – one as old guy, one as youngblood and one at the height of their existence. I really like this idea.

18.01.2019 How do you handle rewards, be they XP, magic items, or gold?

I’m miserly as dungeon master when it comes to rewards. I tend to give XP, but both gold and items are specials that are not overused. Actually that’s pretty much the gamestyle that my main gaming groups have developed, in Pathfinder we’ve specific houserules to give the characters a bit more of the level advancements to eliminate the potential level gap when we compare challenge and encounter ratings. As player I also think crafting items is more rewarding than waiting for the right item to hit you by chance.

19.01.2019 What was your worst session and why?

A worst session is very hard to define after many years, but I remember that some of my early players pushed me quite heavily to prepare for an evil party. So I did that. The group insisted on playing a mid-high level party in Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 or 3.5 with some exotic picks (I remember at least one drow) – so we picked level 9. Specifically I remember we discussed a lot on challenges and I named the “rule”: understand your mechanics if you play level 9 chars. So I decided to test them with, what I deemed to be a challenging but far from hard. I send against the group of 5 or 6 level 9 chars a hound archon and 2 level 6 fighters…

…I also remember that after a couple of rounds we decided to call it a day since the three fighters drained the life from the villains. While I offered a half-hearted restart, I concluded for myself that the players are not able to play at that level. I guess that was partly correct, but definitely not well dungeon mastered. Actually I would say one of the worst things I’ve ever done from accepting that “group” – not caring enough for the various visions the players had about the game and finishing them off, I could do a lot better and would hopefully do better if facing the same challenge nowadays.

20.01.2019 What was your best session and why?

My best session as dungeon master – that’s one tough question. I guess one dreamland approach in Shadowrun was a good one, while my best campaign probably was the one with twin siblings in “Midnight”, a d20 setting where my mid-high level group was able to defeat the evil black dragon by full blown sacrifices. I understand now that I made some mistakes to make this more cinematic, but I remember fondly how present and active all players were during that campaign. What’s the best part? It went over several months, starting where I took the (DM) scepter from Thomas and leading almost all of the group back into the next game, handing back be-said chapter of infinite dm power.

Why was it special to me? Because I think one of my definite strengths as dungeon master is darkness, despair and horror. I hope I’m not wrong to say I can make the players feel their hearts beat louder and I revel in it, as well as leading them out and giving them air to breathe again. I like this game of emotions and hard contrasts within it.

Part III: Meta

21.01.2019 What are your favorite books about gamemastering?

My all time favorite probably is Johnn Four’s blog I followed him from the early starts with an excellent newsletter. It made me rethink a lot of my early sessions, and I think I learned more from him than anywhere else on that topic.

22.01.2019 A novel solution: what’s the best advice you’ve borrowed from a totally different field?

Well, I think I’ve got two examples born from similar words.

Once I take a lot of advice from MAKRO photography. Sometimes it’s great to have a more detailed look – and specifically some details are great to work with – ever looked for a scary monster, description for foreign fauna or weird behaviour input? Take a makro photo and you’ll find inspiration.

Secondly I borrow from online gaming. Macro- & micro-management. A beneficial factor if you as DM don’t focus -only- on micro or macro details. I think players, characters, backstories need attention, so does your world. My understanding is that a healthy mixture of outside influence, grand schemes and good timemanagement are equally important as are tiny plothooks, detailed narratives on roleplaying and the well-being of the group itself.

23.01.2019 What effects do the system mechanics have on the setting or story?

Mechanics are a guiding system, I like weather mechanics, I really enjoy random encounters, randomizers in general, but I won’t let the influence the setting or story a lot. If the wedding of the king will most likely fall victim to bad weather, there’s not a dice roll that will change my opinion on it. If I’m open world running and need an interesting encounter, a good mechanic will come in handy and will be used to the max. That’s my take on it.

24.01.2019 Canon vs. alternate universe vs. homebrew settings? What are the strengths and drawbacks of each?

Well I like detailed works like the forgotten realms, planescape, dark sun, the shadowrun 2050 – 207x setting, dark heresy, but I’m no canon addict. A good world is defined by offering the players and dungeon master a lot of options, while not narrowing them down too much. Honestly I enjoy source-books, I’ve read plenty of them and they just add depth to (NP/P) characters alike. They tend to offer plothooks and variation, they are source for motivation, isolation, inspiration and desparation – depending where you look and what you need. Homebrew can offer that, but of course you need to detail them and make the information available to players, that can be beneficial or not depending on your approach. I’ve used a mixed form that lead several times to good times. I pick a canon area (usually FR) and add a spot somewhere on the landscape, a tiny part of Calimshan that has not been approached too much and where canon was lacking. I set a small town onto it and e voila – here we start, there we go. In my opinion that’s a great approach.

25.01.2019 Problem players and drama llamas: how do you resolve conflict at the table?

Oh that depends so much on the “problem” players. We’ve had experiences over the years. I tend to follow my normal approach from everyday life. Talk about it, try to sort it out, give it a shot – make sure the group is involved in the solution – and if it works out – great, if it doesn’t – make sure that does not spoil everyones fun. It’s better to settle some basics everyone has to follow, if this does not work out – I guess it’s about finding a new group – one that shares the “problem” players feelings and requirements. In the end effect I’m convinced that one player group’s problem is another one’s everyday enjoyment.

26.01.2019 Are GMs bad players? How do you step back when someone else is running the show?

Actually I think good game masters tend to be great players. My understanding is, it’s not about stepping back but working together, drive the story, be a part of it and include others. That’s also my experience with other dungeon masters, usually they are talkative but they understand game dynamics well enough to share spotlight. They tend to know a bit too much about the world, but that’s most of the time also fine – as long as you make your rules clear, or in case you’re on the player’s side – accept the final word of the dungeon master.

27.01.2019 Have you ever co-GMed? Would you consider it? What are the pros and cons?

I’ve done that in my early days, I think it needs much more preparation and alignment, I wouldn’t consider doing this again anytime soon. It works best for larger groups, but I simply don’t think I’ll have the time to ever experience this again.

28.01.2019 Transcending the material plane: how do you GM online?

I do not.

29.01.2019 Teaching the rules: how do you sell players on the system while running a demo or con game?

I narrow down the rules to the necessary minimum, basics rolls, stats and preferably pre-made characters for games where we’re learning to give an idea and not fulfill 100% from the beginning. I’ve had the pleasure to run a legends of anglerre game on a weekend full of fun a few years ago at a tanelorn weekend. With the right amount of preparation you can meet a good deal of expectations, make for a fun session and hope that everyone takes a good deal of ideas, emotions and experience from it. So

30.01.2019 How do we grow the hobby?

Enjoy it ourselves, by sharing our thoughts and sharing feedback between each other, the internet will help doing the rest. I’m 100% sold that enjoyment and fun grows itself. I also feel that a lot of great kickstarter campaigns help on diversifying the content available – making existing worlds deeper, creating new ones and fill necessary spots that are still untaken. Most importantly I think we need to be positive, inviting others to join our approach, sharing our experiences and helping each other out with words of wisdom – so called “advice”. I for myself try to be a regular in some FB fan pages for pathfinder, shadowrun and the like and contribute my

Dark Heresy – playtest review

Warhammer 40k, maybe you can describe the setting itself best with one word, as the ultimate Dystopia. 41st millenium and humankind had gained a lot in technology over the time but even more have they forgotten. If you’re not familiar with the setting, I’m sure you find 1001 pages like the wh and wh40k lexicanum. Dark Heresy, published by Fantasy Flight Games is an approach to roleplaying in this dark setting. Now let’s have a look at how our playtest ran:

Initial position

At the very basis we had three players and the dungeon master for the first session and we started off with two of us familiar with the setting and two of us who had not heard a lot more than the sheer existence. As a dungeon master I would recommend strongly that you go through the Dark Heresy rulebook which gives you a very good idea of the world and setting and introduce your players with your version of it. That’s how Tom, our dungeon master, started off into the game yesterday and he did an astounding job that captivated us from the very beginning.

Once you know a bit about inquisition, the various orders, what Space Marines and Inquisitors are for and tend to be like you get very quickly into the game, for the first session this still means you have the hurdle of character generation before you, but fear not – this is quite easy and fast.

Character Generation

For character generation you start off selecting a region where you come from your options ranging from overpopulated hive-worlds to wild and bestial feral worlds, standard imperial worlds to void born. This list is adapted in the DH players handbook with a few more options but for 95% of your games these four should do it as they already give you quite a few options, differentiations and distinctive pros and cons. Continue reading

Talarian and the misty swamps [pt. 1]

There are these special characters in the life of a roleplaying-gamer. When you first play them you know they are so very enjoyable, when you share them they’re almost everytime good for some smiles or laughter and you know you’re going to have some fun even before the adventure really starts… Talarian (black) circle mage of Waterdeep is one of those characters, when I created him he was just another wizard, I played around and tried to find something that felt right, I concentrated on making him a summoner, switched from Wizard to Sorcerer, enjoyed the thought of an Eldritch Knight even more and voilà, it started to feel just right.

Yesterday it was Martin’s PathfinderRPG debut as a dungeon master and when I try to describe it, I end up with one word: Impressive. Because his story was quite sophisticated, because his descriptions were quite in-depth, and mainly because I did not expect him to find such a very successful combination of story, fun, descriptions, player-integration and (again, because it was a lot of) fun; but he did find it. Furthermore it was an excellent gathering of players in one evening to remember.

Talarian, black robe of the waterdeep circle

Day 41 of the cross-breed study.

While my colleagues are still hesitating on the new calling, I am a step ahead. I’ve found a rare cross-breed of giant cockroachs and giant grasshoppers whose excrements are showing positive effects on the calling itself. I’ve convinced my near-sighted colleagues that I’ve retreated from this most valuable of studies and am currently working on a bat-dung replacement for their all-beloved fireballs. Fools, they can not see their mistake. The noble Duernatar has helped me greatly in locating these cross-breeds at the very watersides of the moon-sea. Shortly after I’ve taken two of those precious teleport-scrolls and started my journey, but there it started – everything was to go a little wrong…

Somewhere I might be meant to be but did not mean to be

“Talarian, Master Talarian?”, a young, almost childish voice woke me from the teleportal statis, after effects – Continue reading

I hit AC 16 and do 11 damage…

…or – howto improve your combat experience

It’s probably 15 years ago, when we played a lot of games after school and on weekends. Back then we were pretty inexperienced and it was a different – drive. When I was younger, I think most of us were powermongers in one or more ways. Mostly it was great to beat the evil guys (sometimes it wasn’t necessary to have them being evil at all) and the more damage you made, the better it was.549019_66351987

Things are constantly changing and – hopefully – improving. It’s basically still about having options and achieving something together, but the game-mechanics are getting more and more in the background, as long as the general feeling of a working game-mechanic is present. It’s about telling the story with the utmost possible imagination level. As a dungeon master you’ve to prepare a lot and be prepared for most possiblities. Combat is, in most gaming rounds, an essential part, it’s some kind of highlight in the game. Now this is about improving the overall gaming experience for you with a few ideas that we’re working on or have been working on for a decade now. Continue reading

The Pinnacle

Playing dungeon master in roleplaying games on a regular base is something that will take you from the lowest depths of the Abyss, Baator, Hell, Hades and the Grey Wastes of Gehenna right to the top of Mount Celestia, the Heavens, Arcadia and all the other planes you can, or can not (yet) think of. What is the point of this?

MadnessWell, I think you should see it as a mirror to a gamers soul. To his inner beliefs and this leads sometimes to extended reflection on his beliefs, fears, needs and wishes. To my very self, this is a positive thing, a fortunate activity and especially fortunate since you don’t face everything at once and nothing of it (during the game) directly. It’s a workaround with a lot of interaction, to experience, toying around with fundaments of your – self.

The most pictographic approach usually can be found within the hells, no matter what name they might carry. What comes to your mind when you think about devils? What comes to your mind when you think about demons? I’ll tell you what my imagination tells me about it.

Continue reading

Recent developments

It’s been a while since the last update of this blog. I guess it was more like a vacation from writing and focussing on other things. When blogging became more of a necessity than actual fun, I thought it was a good time to make a full-stop.

With my sundaily gaming group things are going quite well. Quite well? Yes, it’s still improvable especially when it comes to focussing on goals. As a matter of fact this blog entry is for reflection but I hope there are some gamemasters out there who can use this for their personal benefit.Beshaba

Yesterday’s gaming afternoon started with the usual player’s recap, in my point of view one precious developement to have everyone at the table remember what happened last and since this is done together by all players it really helps to get the feel back where we last stopped. Where did we stop? Well, over time our little gaming group has grown into quite experienced characters in the world. Every character that participated for more than a few evenings has some kind of reputation or title, it isn’t always the best reputation but “there is no bad  publicity”, is there?

Our gaming group currently consists of 6 players: Continue reading

Linearity of Games

In the recent games in which I had the joyful part of dungeon mastering, I’ve had feedback of too many choices, too many opportunities and not enough direct linear goals (milestones) to achieve. Giving this a little thought it turns out to be a very basic necessity for many gaming groups and might be something you want to have a more in depth thought about when designing your games. (As I most likely will from now onwards, depending on my gaming group).Linearity

Factors

In the process of writing this entry I’ve seen an influence in terms of what you should focus on and this single influencing factor is – your party. The gaming group…

Driver

Players that focus on giving your game their unique fingerprint.

Since I consider my style derived more from this category, I’ll describe what I like best and where I see the dangers of this type. Driving players will make sure your game, no matter how little you actually prepared, will hardly ever get boring. They will do their best to integrate their characters into the game and will pick a path they like best – anytime – rely on it. The downsides of drivers are, they might be going straight against your preparations and plans, since they tend to have a good idea where they want to take your whole party, it is usually best to make sure their plans are similiar to yours. I guess a table of drivers will give any DM a hard time, unless he’s really taken some time before play and knows exactly who’s up to what.

Driven

Players that are pulled through the game.

Driven like the concept of a more or less linear game. Continue reading

Latizan and Zord – one world and a lot of adventures

A nice concept you might want to try…

With Roman and Thomas we got two dungeon masters that started working on a greater plan, the three of us decided to start a few simultaneous story-lines interwoven with each other, some characters knowing a few from the other group, maybe interchanging them from time to time. Tower Entrance(Though they are all played by very much the same players) We’re trying to create a dense setting and put as much information of the world over to all players involved. (Meanwhile I’ve   the honor to dungeon-master another part of the whole and I guess at least Andrea will try her best, as well, so we got everyone involved to get the maximum out of our setting). But let me tell you a little of our experience so far, what pros and cons I did experience with my two characters in this, I could learn quite a bit in a few sessions to improve as player and dm alike. Let’s hope you like the idea since I really enjoyed it that far.

When it comes to character creation I’m always facing severe problems to make decisions in this regard, you might know that yourself, first I favor wizards over everything else, secondly I have a very strong affection to complex concepts that are either capable of leadership or influence the course of an adventure. For me it is important to have a strong background on characters and I really love to interweave my story with those of other players. (I tend not to keep any information from fellow players doing so).

With our new concept of multiple-concepts we experience a few upsides and downsides. The main advantage is you can contribute a lot to the storyline with your characters and don’t have to focus on one plotline. While this is very positive – I would say the strongest and best factor is the players get to play different roles. Something usually only dungeon masters do for a longer time period. They get to get different perspectives onto the same plotline and see that actions may influence the world they are in.

The main downside of this project so far is the fluctuation is also causing troubles with the main-storylines since motivated characters for one plotline are substituted during the game and together with (our) basic player fluctuation this has caused some concern and problems of late.  Secondly it is more of a challenge to seperate in-game knowledge and out-game knowledge from player to their characters.

Quick-Fazit: We’ve enjoyed this game so far, while we’re rather new at this approach, it is some fresh wind and obviously gets some players closer to playing Dungeon Master (hey, we’ve a few “applications in line” for DM’ing a few sessions). Together with the hot-seat DM this is a constant fun-providing factor for the gaming group at the moment, and I’ really happy the way it works out.

Leaving Rashemen Session 9 (4 with me as DM)

If you missed part 1 & 2 of this story, I recommend reading it – after all it’s an adventure writeup.

another session is past, and I have to admit it is one kind of session, I hardly will miss. From the players and my personal side it wasn’t bad, actually it was very ingame heavy and a lot of character interaction that made a sweet sunday evening for all of us. Though everything was very different than planned and it was a session that shaped the rpg-sessions to come probably quite heavily. In all games we ran we had some limited amount of player fluctuation, but our unique approach to take care of this now heavily interacted with my hobby of ending sessions inmidst of some action. Last time ended with Daec having acquired, *cough* a seemingly mighty book, bound in flawless and marvellous blue leather and sealed shut. With Daec knowing what he had to do, or what he should try to do, I was relying heavily on what came next – the appearance of an Inevitable hunting the former owner of this book and an infamous red wizard appearing in the tavern. This is where we ended, it just did give us some problems when Continue reading

[N]PC – Izegel Warspurth – Hailstorm of the North

Opposing the forces of fiery demons isn’t always a task for heroes or to put it right: villains and heroes depend just on the right perspective. Raised in the harsh lands of the northern icelands in a small, mostly human settlement, Izegel Warspurth was close to end as sacrifice to the frostmaiden, but he did not. As a half-orc he experienced some of the harshest treatments imaginable. With his human mother as close to an outcast as can be it was the years after the orc raid that made the little hamlet of Miaylma prosper. Living on a small farm it was even possible to teach her son a few words to read and how to write and a bit of the history of the lands.Auril

Izegel’s youth years were something he every since tried to leave behind him, the memories of being beaten really hard more than once by his brothers filled him with a cold bitterness that left part of him hollow – to be filled with divine inspiration when he finally found his way out into the cold. Would anyone know he left the hamlet only to walk towards the endless ice – to die a lonely dead only to be – left alone and ask him about it, he would probably not remember it that way nowadays. It was the silent, bitter calling of the icequeen herself. It was Auril’s call and when Izegel proved himself worthy by almost dying in the ice to accept his surroundings into him – it was when the queen herself had replied, numbed his pain and made him accept his fate.

The half-orc blames no one for leaving everything he ever knew behind, he did not feel genuine love for his mother, though she had been the closest to a friend he ever knew until then – but it was the acceptance of his faith that filled him with purpose, and it was his goddess who led him into the endless ice to give him a chance to show his worth for her purposes. It was a test of skills, a test of faith and of his until then poor warrior skills, climbing over icy depths, travelling without food or drink and standing against the unforgiving creatures of the endless ice-wastes in the region some only know as “Unforgiving Icewastes”. It was after almost a week of travelling that the exhausted Izegel found his way into one of the beautiful ice-temples of the frostmaiden… A place the half-orc was not to leave for the next years.

Few before him have had the experience to learn the pure hatred of Auril’s clergy against several other faiths, it wasn’t only training of arms, skills and will that he experienced up there but more a assimilation of the half-orc into the priesthood and their beliefes. When five long years had passed, countless pains had been withstood and the more or less empty and exhausted hull that arrived was filled with a purpose and Auril had always made sure to give her clerics a purpose before. Opposing directly gods as the morninglord and the elemental lords of fire was not an easy path. Therefore the half-orc has mastered only a limited amount of skills in warfare and more in the subtile ways of trickery and disguise. Few of common folk would withstand his gaze anyway. Izegel’s destiny would be his first and foremost goal – strengthen the frost-maiden whenever possible – withstand against fire and hells and bring darkness where light rules. More than a single man is meant to do – but there had to be some start.