JP On Gaming

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Akos: The Pre-gens

The Imperial Arms of Amoran
So finally, Neoncon is coming and it will be my first chance to publicly display my work on the Organized Play campaign set in the world of Akos. There is so much work to be done. Today, I am tackling one of the most complex aspects of starting a campaign like this: Pre-generated characters.

Why is it complex, you ask? First off, the characters must showcase and give some of the flavor of the world and its particularities. Second when presented with a character, everyone has their own view on how such a class should be put together. Third, you want to create characters that are relevant to the adventure but not necessarily focused to it. That last point is, I think the trickiest of all. If my adventures are all about traps, and half the party are designed to blow through them, then the challenge in the adventure become insignificant, similar if none of the pre-gens can deal with traps, then I simply cheat the players.

This is not the same as creating one-shot characters where I can think up of a scene or encounter where each of the PCs can shine or has the potential of shining. Those pre-gens will be thrown at any one of the many adventures currently in development. So my thought process is different. I can’t design a character just for one adventure, knowing he’ll be completely useless in the next.

Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. The Pathfinder rule set has come a long way from having those adventures that completely negated a character’s usefulness (such as the all-undead adventure vs. the rogue heavy party, or the elemental adventure vs. high-crit party).

I wanted to add a little meat to those characters, so someone sitting at the table is immediately gets some element of flavor with the character: where they come from, who their deity is, do they have any special contacts of ability. I like it when I play one-shot adventures that I receive some piece of information that is unique to me, something that sets me apart from the rest of the group OR that justifies my ties to it.

So what I did was to create characters that had flavor and uniqueness. So far, I have built five, but am trying to come up with a total of pre-gens. Each of them has a unique class, a unique feat, or a unique ability to found in our Player’s Guide. The goal is to present the new material we have while keeping the characters someone familiar to the players.

Now that I established what I wanted to accomplish, “what classes to do?” was my next question. In D&D, I always think there are four basic roles that need to be filled: the melee guy, the healer, the arcanist and the skill monkey (roughly, the fighter, the cleric, the wizard and the rogue). Looking at my list of races, classes and abilities, I came up with the following combination:

  • An Amazon Cleric
  • A barbaric Holy Warrior
  • A Greater Halfling Rogue
  • A human sorcerer
  • A human noble
  • On the sixth, I still waffle and am open to suggestions..

  • Thought creating pre-generated characters was easy? Trust, it’s a lot more complex that it seems at first glance!


    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Home Front News

    This entry includes a number of random shots about gaming.

    First, my idea of Pathfinder Society was rejected. It was judged too open AND too limited at the same time! The adventure was clearly non-traditional when compared to other PFS adventures, so while disappointed I can see Josh’s position about it. Having rejected ideas and submissions myself, I take it in stride. What will I do next about it? Come up with something new of course! What about the idea I submitted? Well that one goes into my work bucket, the idea is good, the story in interesting. Chances are it will be given new life at a later date outside the Society! Good ideas never go to waste…

    This Friday, Mario restarts a new Warhammer campaign. I still have not decided on a character concept I like. I thought of a few: an outlaw falsely accused of a crime, a hunter/poacher or a Kislevite bounty hunter. I’m still undecided and may just decide when I roll dice and the character starts to take shape or as we talk about what we want to do.

    A few people know that I have been talking to a publisher regarding a writing project, I’m very excited about this and will hold off on making any announcement (any announcement will be posted here for sure).


    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bargain bin treasures

    Whenever I go to a hobby shop, I always look for the bargain bin. Many treasures lurk therein. Things I would not be willing to pay full price for, but also things I do not always look at on my regular peregrination through local (and not-so local) hobby shops.

    Yesterday, I looked at the bargain bin at Bonnie Brae Hobbies in Englewood (south Denver). To my very pleasant surprise, I found a box of Zvevda’s Cursed Legion (Roman Skeletons). HALF-PRICE! I grabbed the box and did not let it go until it was purchased and out of sight of everyone!

    A few years ago, I happened on a website that had them. The idea of sending any money to Russia was not very appealing and after looking for local sources, I gave up and the undead Romans were relegated to the back of my mind.

    Now I have them… My legions will never be TRULY defeated!


    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    The end of a campaign

    I’m depressed and morose.

    Why you ask? Because Mario’s Awesome Warhammer campaign is over! My character somehow managed to live through it all from the start. He got pretty beefy at the end, despite a few niggling injuries and a few insanities, such as zealotry and an alignment change. Fought off gods, orcs, dark elves, giants, dragons, chaos-infested things and on a weekly basis, each other (okay I usually got beat up by the others).

    The Cast: Ragni the dwarf who became a slayer after a close encounter of facial-genital kind. Val, a young half-elven knave who crossed our path and stuck around with us. Eva a chaos-infested witch ready to sell her soul to the dark powers. Father Werner von Breslow-Giersbergen (me) a righteous zealot carrying a burden only I can bear… Guided only by my blinding and complete faith in Sigmar and his patron, Ulrik.

    The finale was truly epic. Couldn’t ask for much more! We headed into the Mountains with the soul of a dark chaos god stop him from tricking the orcs into granting him more power. I bore the container that leaked its essence like a burden. One I accepted because I could not allow Ragni or that evil witch Eva to hold it. The witch appeared shortly after the untimely demise of Sister Lady Violet.

    Once the battle was in full swing, Ragni my dwarven slayer friend met his doom at the hand of the god-like Nagaash. As it pulled his still beating heart out of his chest, I howled madly from the grief of losing my last true friend and swung my hammer into it as it focused on the witch. The beast finally fell to my blows. Leaving me standing, full of grief and anger that the witch had survived but that my friend Ragni had passed away.

    There you have it, in a few words… How Father Werner prevented the end of the world…

    Now that the campaign is over, I’m depressed and wondering what to character to do next. We’re going to start a new campaign (still using Warhammer 1st Ed) but I’m in a rut. I really liked my character and do not want to make the same character but I’m oddly lacking ideas this time around. Playing something different is a must. So the question remains… What?

    So there you have it… the source of my depression. Nothing that can't be cured with... MORE GAMING!


    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Fairs and Festivals: Part 2

    To my previous post about Fairs, my good buddy Van, posted the following as a comment on Facebook.

    You may want to consider including an auction for livestock. Seems like farmers would want to take the chance to buy/sell animals when gathered together as a matter of convenience.

    That is very true. While at the fair, I saw a number of animals for sale: cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and house pets. I must admit I did not pay close attention – allergies you see. I’m certain that many of them found new homes.

    In a medieval/fantasy-style fair (or even in sci-fi locations), animal and livestock sales and auctions are a prominent feature of the fair, something that draws a lot of people to the event. Prized and sturdy animals are highly-sought and their sale value subject to much debate and tension. In addition to cows and goats, a fantasy fair could offer sales of high-quality riding dogs, trained baby wyverns, a pet lizard and a number of other creatures.

    Dare I say that some competition could result in rivalries, potentially leading to sabotage, conflict or even murder? Aren’t those the basis of good adventures? A simple emotion sparks a story that writes itself. Often, the world does not need to end for adventure to creep in.

    Thanks Van! Great comment.


    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Tacticon: Post Mortem

    All of the tables have been reported. I know there are a few table trackers still floating out there (for which the DMs will have to report themselves). I ran out of PFS numbers almost 3 times, not counting those numbers that DMs handed out without my involvement. I went through over 60 pregens during the weekend.

    We ran a total of 30 tables (plus one that was not reported due to TPK, plus the slot zeroes, plus the missing ones)

    17 different adventures were run (including the Fiesta, and on-the-spot fiesta)

    A total of 165 players played in individual events. The Prestige Distribution was as follows:

    • Total for Andoran 76

    • Total for Cheliax 7

    • Total for Osirion 59

    • Total for Qadira 26

    • Total for Taldor 48

    A big thank you goes out to the DMs: Derek, James, Todd, Homer, Ryan, Jeff, Dave, Chris, Ken, Kerney, Collin, Josh and Bill and anyone I forget in my half-awake "monday" haze...

    A particular thanks to Jeff & Dave from Enchanted Grounds who sponsored the fiesta as well as running some great tables. They printed out all the mods for the fiesta and did a super job making sure I had enough paper support (character sheet, pfs numbers, pregens).

    Finally, a thank you to Lenny Logan for making the table assignment be extremely easy. Throughout the con, Lenny was very responsive and helpful in assigning us some tables and giving us extra when we needed them.

    A few things to work on for Genghis, although most table went very well, there were a few dark spots. Mostly having to do with dynamism and preparation. I know we can work on those and simply outshine all competition. A few players really scored DMs extremely low without a note or explanation. In a few cases, I personally believe those scores were undeserved (as I listened in), but others were fully deserved (from talks I had with the DMs afterwards). The DM rating sheet is a way for a DM to learn and better himself through play (you can never improve if you don't practice). Putting a "3" or "4" (out of 10) without comment serves little purpose in helping the DM better himself, it makes the DM feel miserable without necessarily knowing what irked you or why the game sucked, don't assume the DM can divine such things. And the next time around, that DM is not interested in running.

    Please use that tool to make the DM and the game experience better, it works! I do not know of a single DM who ran at the con that I would not want to play with (if only to make sure they improve). If something annoys you, take the coordinator or the even the DM aside and tell them in a constructive manner, which many of you did and the feedback was passed along to the DM all of whom were very responsive to criticism. They recognized or admitted faults and seemed very eager to correct their ways for the next go-around.

    Great DMs are trained, not born.

    All that said. Great time at Tacticon overall. I have already volunteered to Linda Weygant (Genghis RPG coordinator) to run the Pathfinder Society again.