Showing posts from June, 2015

A Veray Parfit Gentil Knight


Robin’s playing an oath of the ancients paladin in our 5e group game that’s been running most of this year and in occasional non-canonical duets. We’re both pretty invested in the character, but I keep feeling like I’m not quite invoking the right mood, the right feel for what she’s supposed to be and what kind of adventures she’s supposed to have. My imagination skews really dark, and having even a chaotic good paladin to DM is a challenge.

Part of the problem here is that WotC themselves confused the issue of what an oath of the ancients paladin really is. They give alternative nicknames to all the paladin sub-classes (like “white knights” for the classic oath of devotion paladins and “dark knights” for the Batman-analogue oath of vengeance paladins) and the nicknames they give for oath of the ancients paladins are “fey knights,” “green knights,” and "horned knights."  

My mind immediately jumps to the Middle English poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and fro…

A Voice Like Silver: Prologue

(or "some scene-setting fiction for our duet campaign")

 A lone sun elf kneeled beside a pool deep in the Moonwood. Amidst the slate-gray sky reflected in the water, the black bark of the duskwood trees, and the white of the fallen snow, he was a blaze of color. His mithral plate mail was decorated with scores of autumn leaves worked in brass, bronze, copper, and gold. The helmet that sat beside him was similarly worked and surmounted with branching bronze antlers. His golden blond hair and bronzed skin combined with the golds and reds of his armor to make him appear an incarnation of the rapidly-fading autumn.

Autumn, the season of Marpenoth, the month of falling leaves… Autumn, the season of Uktar, the month when the leaves rot… Autumn, the season of Nightal, the month when the sun draws down into darkness…     

The elf seemed to be gazing at his own reflection in the pool, but one familiar with the elvish trance state would recognize that his mind was far from his present…

Don't tell my players, but I kind of want to ditch my current campaign.

Our little gaming group has been playing a 5e Forgotten Realms campaign for a few months now. I’ve been splitting DM duties with +Alan Vannes and running a GMPC who becomes my PC when Alan is running the game. We’ve worked our way up to 6th level by fighting some yuan-ti, killing a young dragon, and leading an army of sylvan creatures against a horde of gnolls. It’s been wild and (mostly) fun and pretty chaotic and most everybody seems to be having a good time.

And I’d kinda like to dump the whole thing and start over.

Partially, this is because I’ve been super over-indulgent during character creation and advancement, so the characters are… Well, they’re not so much over-powered as they are overgrown. They’re sort of like Great Dane puppies with super-huge paws and heads too big for their bodies. They’ve all got maximum hit points, feats and ability score increases, and really high stats, but at the same time they’re stumbling around with their limited magic and 6th level proficiency…

I Have Issues

It turns out I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


I’ve also got celiac disease, lactose intolerance, Meniere’s disease, and a ton of allergies, so this really takes the cake. I’m a pretty messed-up dude.

I’ve been trying to write about this for a couple of months, but I kept chickening out. Lots and lots of people in the RPG community have issues – many of them far worse than mine – so it seemed really self-indulgent to bawl about my annoying but hardly deadly mental disorder. Depression is much, much worse, after all.

(Admittedly, waking up at 3 AM because your cat isn’t sleeping at the foot of the bed and immediately concluding that he must have died of a blood clot because he was limping a little earlier that day and then having to get out of bed to find him and reassure yourself that he’s still alive before going back to bed and being unable to sleep properly the rest of the night IS NOT FUN.)

The thing is, I’ve had GAD pretty much all my life. It runs in my family a…

NPCs: Naturalistic, Political Characters

I don’t want to think of myself as the kind of DM that uses high-powered monsters and NPCs to swat down uppity player characters, but I do have to admit that I like to maintain a balance of power and respect.

My philosophy of running traditional, multiplayer tabletop RPGs is to extrapolate naturalistically from the players’ interactions with the setting. The PCs are running around a world full of NPCs with their own plans and desires, the vast majority of which are independent from any concern with the players’ characters. NPCs make choices based on the world they live in, not on how those choices help the PCs. This means that if you deliberately antagonize a powerful NPC, they’re going to retaliate. (It just makes my skin crawl when an NPC has to ignore antagonizing behavior from a PC just to keep the game on track. It really offends me on some deep, aesthetic level.)

To use an example from my ongoing 5e Forgotten Realms game, the green dragon Grimnoshtadrano recently aided the par…

Catching Up

The Japan chapter of Steamscapes: Asia is now 100% complete. After submitting the overlong first draft last week, I got some notes from Eric and trimmed it down to his specifications. I practically excised a chapter in its own right, so I’m tempted to use that section to write a scenario set in Yoshiwara. The “-punk” part of “steampunk” refers back to cyberpunk’s concentration on social disorder, and nothing reflects that better than Edo/Meiji Japan’s red-light districts.
After considering Altellus and a Stone Age game, Robin and I went in a completely different direction to do a game about modern yokai living a World of Darkness-style secret existence in modern-day Tokyo. Weirdly, this is basically a remake of the first duet campaign that we played together nearly thirteen years ago. That game was fueled by Land of Eight Million Dreams, the Year of the Lotus spin-off for Changeling: The Dreaming. This one will probably be run using Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion since we’re …