Thursday, January 19, 2017

Game Session Report 10/21/16 (Part 2 - Fragmentary): Descent into the Depths of the Earth

I know, I know...I said in my first post of 2017 that I didn't want to finish blogging about my two sessions of RPG action with the neighborhood newbs...but I started a post and dammit, I want to publish it! 

Specifically, I want to post it because of my inane...observations. And because I have no time to blog here usually, so wasting my precious words is a crime to my sensibilities. 

See below for the fragment I wrote up before despair overtook me and my will to write on...

Let's return to the recap of my newbie players and their first RPG session, shall we?

So, a gang of goblins (probably the same that attacked the priests of Libra) came running out of the excavated barrow and attacked the party. The group made decently short work of the creatures, but player Laura (aka Noo the cleric of Leo) had the presence of mind to consider capturing one of the goblins in order to interrogate it.

Now, this brings me to an interesting observation: these folks, being newbs, have actually displayed a lot of aspects of more experienced players. Specifically, from the very first battle, they decided it would be a good idea to have a captive to interrogate.

And, if it came down to it, they wouldn't balk at a bit of torture to get information.

Now, does this say something about human nature? Granted, we're talking about an imaginary torture situation of a non-human creature, so there's really no need to be disturbed by the players decision. But I find it really interesting that no matter who I've gamed with, no matter the experience level of the players, they usually see the need to get captives and glean information, and consider torture a necessary evil.

Again, human nature? Or is there too much torture on the TV and Internet to learn from? Too much waterboarding and Gitmo Bay news footage to teach them what to do?

Oh my god, I'm Tipper Gore!

Anyway, they did indeed capture a goblin and started to interrogate, and of course threatened it with torture. The goblin told them it was a part of a tribe that moved into tunnels below the barrowlands. When the archaeology team ventured into their tunnels, the goblins reacted, attacking the humans and capturing them. 

The goblin offered to take them to the captives in exchange for its freedom. They decided to take a chance and believe that the goblin was sufficiently cowed to guide them truthfully and accurately.

That's all folks! Little did I know at the time of the writings above that the newbs would also resort to the good old lamp oil Molotov cocktail tactic in the dungeons they entered! It was instinctual, I tell you! They just came up with it out of nowhere! No prompting from me at all!

Am I way too excited about this? Let me know, please!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vintage Roleplaying Book Porn at the House of Fun

So there's a store called House of Fun in my little South Jersey burg, and it's a collectibles store mostly known for having vintage toys.

I went in there the other day with my son because he's developed an obsession with Aliens and Predators. Specifically, Aliens Versus Predators. Now, I haven't let him watch any Aliens or Predator films yet except for a TV edit of Alien, given how young he is at the moment.

He gained knowledge of Aliens and Predators from a friend who picked up a toy from House of Fun. So, the boy had to get his hands on a similar Alien-type toy using his Christmas cash.

Yeah, boys will be boys, right? I'm just glad he's into a classic creature that his old dad likes, too. The old stuff still has some appeal!

ANYway, as the boy was agonizing over what Alien toy to choose, I wandered around the treasure trove playland of the store.

And I came upon a bookcase:

Yes, indeedy. Suffice to say I plunged into this bookshelf with abandon, going through every item, extending our visit waaay beyond what the boy wanted, unfortunately for him.

Sorry kid, your dad is an inveterate old-head nerd, and finding stuff like this is a wonderland!

Want some more? Take a look: 

I felt like I needed to pick up these 1st Edition AD&D screens...but I didn't...mostly because I think the owner of the store is going to try and sell them at a pretty penny. He seems to go by what they cost on Ebay...and these suckers are pricey! I might go back and ask though, just in case. 

I'm not playing AD&D 1st Edition and not planning to do so any time soon...but when has that ever stopped me?

Never heard of's a game from the 60's, so that's probably why (I'm not from the 60's)

Boot Hill boxed set...contents seemed pretty incomplete.

There was a ton of stuff but I just took some shots of my highlights. There were a lot of D&D modules, MERP modules, and Ravenloft stuff as well.

And there was a copy of the Elfquest RPG, sans box. 

I bought that. 

I've always had a thing for Elfquest. I've always thought that someone should do a Basic D&D conversion of Elfquest. 


Yes, I'm still insane and a nerd. What else is new? 

Anyway, gotta run for now, but just wanted to share!

Friday, January 6, 2017

End-of-Week What the Hell Happened to 2016?

"Whew, last year was ROUGH, man..."

Uh, hi folks.

Yeah, the end of 2016 got away from me...

Well, like an undead sorcerer-king, I'm rising from the dead and awakening to a new year...

How can I sum up the last bit of 2016 in terms of gaming?

Two words: unruly newbs.

Yeah, the newb campaign I started back in October...well, it fell apart.

Not really surprised by that development, actually. But what did surprise me is how quickly they seemed to become antsy about the pace at which the game was progressing.

Chalk it up to the accelerating pace of our society, maybe, but as of the second session most of the players were complaining about how slow the game seemed. I told them this was how table top roleplaying went, and it was being made even slower because two of the players were going full-on tactical planning and second-guessing over every decision point in the game.

Try as I might to encourage the players to not worry so much over every decision, things did slow down a lot.

By the end of the second session, it was clear from the "temperature" of the players' attitudes that the "magic" of roleplaying was wearing a bit thin.

Sheesh, guess it wasn't high-speed enough for them.

I was very patient with them, but have to admit to a bit of frustration. The group became somewhat combative and suspicious of my methods. I chalk that up to my attempts to be sinister and inscrutable. They took the bait, and were unnerved by it.

Mission accomplished, as far as I'm concerned. However, my players were all adults in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and unused to encountering a sly and wily DM. I don't think they liked it. For people who don't have experience with the good old fashioned DM-player relationship, it can be off-putting, I suppose.

Ah well, it was an experiment. And not all experiments are successful, right?

So, not sure if we'll be roleplaying again any time soon. C'est la vie.

In the meantime, I'm sorta bummed about things falling apart, so much so that I can't muster the energy or interest to finish my recap of what went down.

I know, you're devastated by the news...

There might be some roleplaying in my future with some veteran gamers this year. I might be putting myself back into the DM's chair again.

Stay tuned. Until then, happy 2017 and happy gaming!

Friday, November 18, 2016

End-of-Week Elmore (11/18/16): Big Bads Unite!

The second session of my Basic D&D game with the "neighborhood newbs" is tomorrow night. 

I'm going to publish part two of our first game session report sometime between tonight and tomorrow. Then, I throw them back into the depths of Stonehell Dungeon! Muhahahaha! 

Wish them luck, they're going to need it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Game Session Report 10/21/16 (Part 1): Hello Dorkness My Old Friend...

...or maybe for a few hours on Friday!'s good to game with you again!

Yes, On Friday night (October 21st) we had "roleplaying with the newbs" night! Over the last few weeks my wife and I had heard through the grapevine that some folks in town were curious about D&D. My wife leaked the word that I am a veteran roleplayer, and...Boom! A game night was scheduled!

I expected people to be a bit shy and tentative about the experience. I expected some of them to be nervous about word getting out that they were playing D&D. All very normal and valid concerns for the casual gamer, given the stereotyping and ridicule of gamers that still exists in the world.

I assured them I'm a discreet game master! No need to fret, folks, your secret is safe with me!

Everyone arrived at our place, and introductions were made as needed. We had a good supply of food and drink to share. I called everyone to the kitchen table, where I had my DMing gear already set up.

There was much joking and rib-poking as the players went through the pile of pregens I provided. I made a short speech about the rules and gave them a tour of their character sheets, but I could tell they just wanted to play.

"We'll get the hang of it as we go along," they insisted. "Let's get started!" Eager, they were, indeed!

So, I set the mood and the stage: Castle Westguard, a wilderness outpost of the Great Kingdom in Southland (thanks Rob Conley, for the setting). The lord of the walled settlement, Lord Griff, needs hearty adventurers to explore the barrowlands to the northeast. Why? Because an archaeological dig seeking artifacts from ancient kingdoms has gone missing, of course!

Lord Griff needs those willing to sacrifice life and limb for the promise of treasure. "Go, find the lost archaeologists," he decreed, "and you'll be rewarded 10 gold pieces each!" The party was ready for adventure, indeed, and they set out without hesitation!

Our party of first and second level pregens (created via Wizardawn) consists of:
  • Matt, playing the wizard Magic Mike (of course).
  • Laura, playing the cleric of Leo named Noo.
(note, I made the on-the-fly decision that the gods of this world are the twelve gods of the zodiac, based on the suggestion of one of the players...)
  • Jennell, playing the female dwarf Elvira.
  • Ed, playing the fighter Donald.
  • Lesley, playing the male dwarf Tases the Archaic.
 As they marched through the barrowlands, they came upon a grizzly scene: three dead bodies of priests (of the god Libra) laying outside the excavated entrance to one of the barrows.

The party decided to investigate, and discovered one of the priests was still alive. He was badly wounded, so Noo the cleric decided to heal him. Once he recovered enough to speak, the priest introduced himself as Brother Thomas, and he thanked the party profusely before telling them that he had been part of a group of ten people sent by Lord Griff to excavate barrows. The ten were a mix of scholars, priests, and guards.

The scholars had been following an ancient text that pointed to this particular barrow as having deep significance to a long-dead civilization. They had broken open the entrance and entered the circular chamber within, the walls of which were lined with niches that contained mummified bodies wrapped in linens.

One of the scholars had walked onto an elaborate mosaic of colored stones in the center of the chamber. The floor had given way underneath the man, who had plunged a hundred feet or so to his death. The majority of the group decided to descend the shaft to recover the body and explore what was below.

Thomas and the other two Libran priests had remained on the surface. They waited for hours for the return of their fellows, and even engaged in some prayer to pass the time. It was during their prayers that they were attacked by a group of small, horrible green-skinned creatures bearing rusted swords and shields that looked as if they were made of stretched skins.

The creatures, of course, were goblins. They attacked the priests and slaughtered them...except for Thomas. Once they had finished their bloody work, the goblins disappeared back into the barrow, and presumably went back down the shaft to the depths from whence they came. And, of course, it seems none of the others on the archaeological dig team had ever come back up from below...

His story complete, Thomas then asked that one of the party escort him back to Castle Westguard. The party, as a whole, told him that wasn't going to happen, because they needed to find the rest of the archaeological team. Thomas balked at that, but before he could continue to argue, the gibbering voices of goblins once again boiled out of the dark entrance to the barrow...