Thursday, April 30, 2020

Roll20



For the last several weeks, like many, I've been running games on Roll20. Each week I discover some new feature and my fondness for the platform grows.

I'm running a 12th Level game on Fridays and a 3rd Level game on Mondays.

The 12th Level game should get interesting this week, the group will be faced with an important decision.

The 3rd Level game has been interesting. I was originally expecting five players, but two of those players might not be able to make it and I'm really enjoying having three players. Its a nice change of pace.

When we get back to face to face gaming it is going to be hard because two former players were able to join us on Roll20 and they most likely won't be able to when we switch back.

The new Roll20 feature that was revealed to me is an extension for the Chrome browser that allows your DnDBeyond character sheet or monster stat block to become interactive and even allows dice rolls. It was an awesome tool and has just made my job as DM much, much easier.

It's called Beyond 20 and I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A Belated Happy Birthday!



On April 10th, 2020 Cross Planes turned eight and its been quite a ride. As usual, I'm running behind because here in Kentucky, we have a Social Distancing order, which means Comic Book World can do curbside pick-up and mail-order. At the beginning of this, my wife pointed out that now would be a good time to install the new Point of Sale system we've been looking at and upgrade our website and webstore. My response was, "Are you kidding me? Where are we going to find the time to do...oh, yeah, good idea." 

When it is done it should be excellent but these kinds of roll-outs take time especially when the developer is in New Zealand which is a day ahead of us and 2pm here is 7am there and we are switching from a glorious complete Mac environment to a Windows 10 machines.

Because of those projects I'm behind on this post and the A to Z Challenge.

Eight years. I didn't have any clue I'd still be doing these posts (though at a much slower pace) in 2020. Oh, by the way, Fuck 2020.

A lot has happened in those eight years. I've had a daughter, buried my Dad, moved my Mom in with us. Found three really great RPG groups, had a nervous breakdown, homeschooled our Son through high school and into being an Engineering undergrad (my wife should get most of that credit), published some vanity projects, and gotten older but hopefully a bit wiser.

I have no idea what 2028 will hold...I mean, Krakatoa erupted two days ago...Fuck 2020 (its only May)! But I hope we are all here to do this again.

I don't know if I'll finish the A to Z Challenge this year. I used to love it, but that was a younger more naive version of me and I'm just not feeling it. But back in 2012, it was just what I needed to start this thing moving.

Since we are under Social Distancing my 2d20 Playtest game wrapped and that group is now playing a sequel to the Vampire: Masquerade 5th Edition game online (though I haven't made the first two sessions). 

Our Friday DM wasn't sure about using Roll20 so I started a 10th level D&D 5th Edition game and we just wrapped up our third session. It's going pretty well and last session tentacles from a rift "surrounded by chaotic energy" abducted Istus, the Greyhawk Goddes of Fate, whom the players had Called before closing. Its a long story. I'll get to it soon, I promise. I will say that the campaign is based on a Savage World Campaign I've wanted to run for nearly two decades.

Meanwhile, I've reconnected with some old friends, Mikey, Mark, Jackie, and Jayson (and I might even get my wife to play) and we are playing a D&D 5E game that started at 1st level and we have our second session this Monday. The first session was great as the players chose diplomacy over fighting in every encounter. I'll get to sharing that eventually, as well.

I've learned quite a bit about Roll20 and like it, but one of my players is trying to get me to give Fantasy Grounds a spin. If you've played on both or prefer one over the other please leave a comment as I'd love to hear from you.

I'm going to take a moment to toot my own horn. As of today, Cross Planes has over 1.7 million views! I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I'd reach that milestone. So thank you, all of you, for putting up with me and checking in on me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A to Z of My D&D Campaign: C is for the Castellan Keep




The Keep on the Borderlands. 

Castellan Keep. 

It is a lonely, alluring, exciting, and terrifying place.

The kind of place that calls to Adventurers, Mercenaries, and Blackguards.

You can make a name for yourself at the Keep and your actions will dictate whether you achieve fame or infamy.

The Keep is a tiny shard of Law trying, valiantly, to keep the Chaos that surrounds it at bay. 

There are strange caves, tracks of blasted earth, mysterious hermits, and even a dungeon or two within a short ride.

It is a place to make a new start or an early end.

The War may be over, but the battle is joined. 

Just remember to return to the Keep before nightfall.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A to Z of My D&D Campaign: B is for the Broken Lands



The Broken Lands, as published for the DnD Rules Cyclopedia, was home to the Orcs of Thar and was North East of the Republic of Darokin.

For the purposes of my Campaign, it is now wedged North of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos between Rockhome and the Emirates of Ylaruam. Thar was not an evil nation filled with evil Orcs and Goblinoids. It was a thriving experiment of how the Orcish people could form a nation and build treaties with their surrounding neighbors. Except Alfheim, the Elves to their West always distrusted them and came to despise any nation that dealt with Thar.

Thar was the name of the visionary and brilliant Orc who united his people all across the face of the continent of Brun and built a nation that stood as an equal to its fellow nations. Three-Hundred years later, Thar was a bastion of commerce, discipline, and expression. Not only did Thar welcome other Races inside its borders but by following their Founder's teachings Orcs were welcomed elsewhere, as well.

It was Thar that was attacked on the 11th night of Thaumont by Archon Dryden'Octrar and her Blood-Red Legion. While, Alfheim claimed that Crown-Prince Ugar Tharreign had abducted Nephilim Sora'Tra for nefarious purposes. Archon Dryden acted on behalf of the Nephilim's mother, Hekate Olora'Nokt, a powerful Wytch and former lover.

Thar's allies in the Grand Duchy and the Emirates sprung to their defense and soon Darokin and the Five Shires joined with Alfheim while Earthome sold weapons to both sides.

The War lasted five years and only ended because Darokin and the Five Shires chose to changed allegiances after the Tarrasque was summoned in Tharza, the Orc nation's capital. The battle against the Tarrasque lasted forty-seven days and scarred the land with constantly shifting grounds due to ever-present earth tremors, volcanoes spewing forth lava or noxious gases, geysers, scalding mud pits, and dust storms. The air is heavy with the fumes blown from sulphuric puddles and fissures venting often toxic gases from deep underground. The climate is equally as fierce with the surface being blasted by the sun throughout summer or frozen by fierce winds during winter. On top of this savage landscape, monsters roam the land and are hypothesized to be the creation of some of the terrible magic that was used during the War.

However, Thar's inhabitants refuse to give up on their home and have founded New Tharza on the ruins of Anram, which was sacked by Typhon Ergar'Dunn, also known as the Grim Elf of Feador.

The Broken Lands are a daily reminder of what the people of Brun are capable of both good and bad.

A to Z of My D&D Campaign: A is for All Along the Watchtower




I'm running late with the Blogfest but I think this would be both a good exercise and a distraction.

This year I'm doing the A to Z of the DnD Campaign I start running tomorrow night on Roll20. This Campaign is being played by some dear old friends who I rarely get to see. They are wonderful friends, the type of friends that you might not see in a few years but you pick back up as soon as you are around each other. True friends. Well be running DnD 5E and we are starting at 1st level.

A is for All Along the Watchtower.

Its the name of the Campaign on Roll20. 

I've chosen to set the game in Mystara and at least the first several levels will be in and around the Keep on the Borderlands, also known as Castellan Keep, which is on the North-Eastern edge of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

In my version of Mystara Karameikos has recently finished a terrible war with Alfheim and Darokin to its East which drew in Rockhome, the Five Shires, Thar, and the Emirates of Ylaruam.  Alfheim, in a last and desperate bid to shatter the enemy nations that surrounded it summoned the Tarrasque and watched its enemies and their entire world tremble. It took forty-seven days to defeat the monstrosity and in the end, the Broken Lands* were all that remained of the homeland of the Orcs of Thar.

Its been two years since the end of the War. The Occupation of Alfheim gets more and more complicated each day as the Church of Zinzerena wages a guerilla war against the Confederacy while also rounding up the Archons of Lolth.

Many who fought in the War simply want to forget and Castellan Keep is a good place to do so. There are ample opportunities in the Altan Tepes Mountain range and the Borderlands between the Grand Duchy, the Emirates, and the Broken Lands.

The Keep and even the Borderlands is a fresh start away from the War and its horrors. There are cairns and hidden tombs to plunder, pilgrims to protect from monsters, and land to settle.

*For the record, the Broken Lands are actually North East of Darokin, but for my purposes, they are what remains of Thar after the Tarrasque was finally stopped and take up a portion of Rockhome and the Emirates. That's the beauty of DnD and RPGs in general, I can stand on the shoulder of Giants and still make their works my own.

Universal Monster Monday: Count Dracula for AD&D 2nd Edition and Ravenloft

Before Dungeons & Dragons, Champions, Art, Comic Books, or even Toys I LOVED the Universal Monsters. As a kid, the only books I'd ch...