Friday, June 29, 2012

Albion's Journal, 1st Entry

The Gathering and Duchy of St. Cuthbert are hold temporarily.  Fred (Barracus) approached me about running Pathfinder and John (Jacob the Rooster) will be gone for 6 weeks teaching a class, so it seemed like kismet.

The Cast:

Coal, 8th Level Human Sorcerer/Magus/Dragon Disciple .

Albion (me), 9th Level Human Bard.

The Dude, 8th Level Human Oracle.

The Red Wizard, 8th Level Human Illustionist.

8th Level Cat Folk Ranger.

8th Level Dragonborn Wyvaran Barbarian.

I'm ashamed to admit I don't remember Mick, Matt, or Rob's characters names.


I was summoned to some shrine, in the company of 5 strangers (one was a dragon and the other was a tiger man), I was in the middle of humming a tune, when all of my memories--including the song, were erased from my head.  I cannot help finding this very, very rude.

Losing your memories, I'm going to assume, isn't as traumatic as you might imagine, mainly because I really don't know what to miss.  I don't know if I'm an easy going person or it's just a benefit of not having anything to worry about.

I was about to ask the dragon man what his name was, when a Holy Knight or Paladin (as I later learned), began to speak to us of a plan by the Evil One (apparently he doesn't have a name, personally I think that would be more worrisome than not having memories) to merge the worlds of Golarion and Faerun and we were brought here to stop him.

Apparently, I'm from Golarion and also a good person, since I'm to oppose this "Evil One".  I'm sure the plan would have bothered me more if the the tiger man and the dragon man weren't so unusual to me.  The tiger man even had a pet tiger, which somehow struck me as racist.  If there are tiger men, why are theres still tigers?  And how do I still know what a tiger is?  Or a dragon?  Strangely, I still know my name is Albion, but I can't seem to remember my family name.  I wonder if that is the effect of the memory loss or poor relations with my family?

The Paladin said quite a bit, but I found him a tad dull.  I probably should've paid more attention to what he was saying, because he shot me with a halo that shoved his memories of me into my skull!  I'm sure he thought he was doing me a favor, but I ended up having HIS knowledge of who I was AND a headache, a giant one.

Apparently, I'm a Bard, which explains why I constantly want to sing and dance and I'm very old, which doesn't explain why I feel so spry.  He was really counting on me to fix whatever problem faced both worlds, but my headache was terrible and before I knew what was happening, I was sitting on a horse made of clouds and we were hurdling to an enemy stronghold.  Did I mention that the Paladin's memories are high contrast and the light is blinding to my mind's eye?  And every time I curse, mentally, his voice bleeps me?  Still.

I'm glad I'm a Paladin, it's very taxing.  I've decided to bleep his name from my memory and I strongly feel that will show him!

All I really remember of the trip was that I could've used some skullcap for my headache, I would've traded that cloudy steed the Red Wizard conjured, in fact all of those cloudy steeds, for any amount of the herb.

We...I should say they, began observing the guards outside the stronghold.  The guards were unusual to me and the Red Wizard explained they were Beareded Devils and Shadow Demons.  He was very emphatic that devils and demons shouldn't work together.  I was emphatic that devils and demons shouldn't walk our world.  He thought I was strange and I couldn't disagree with him.

As we talked, the Dude went to parley with the enemy.  He seemed to be doing alright, but I decided that I could do better, which meant I insulted the devils and tried to magically charm them, at the same time.  Don't EVER do this.  Pick one path, trust me, I'd advise the charm path as devils take offense easily and I am capable of being profoundly offensive.  Thankfully, the Red Wizard was able to break the illusion he divined was letting the devils work with the demons and the devils destroyed the demons, with one of their number falling in battle.

My comrades made short work of the 2 remaining devils while I sang.  It seems unfair doesn't it?  They swing weapons, charge about and cast spells, while I sing?  It's a living, I suppose.

I did take a moment to speak closely with Coal, a young man of tremendous power, who seemed slightly more confused than myself.  He's a good lad, and I hope he doesn't get himself killed.

While speaking to Coal, the Paladin alerted me to the fact that we needed to retrieve a spy, in his service, who had been captured.  I hope the Paladin, even a sliver, isn't living in my head.  I'm quite willing to lose my memory again to be rid of him.  I relayed this new goal to my band and had decided I was their leader.  I'm sure they would have been agreed, if I'd shared my decision with them.

The worst part of the stronghold was that there was no wine.  I was certain wine, in lieu of skullcap, would have helped my headache.  Oh well, being a leader meant sacrifice.

I was about to ask the Red Wizard to conjure me some wine, when my headache got worse as the dragon man began yelling, apparently his name, at a large door in front of us.  I know I should have caught his name, after all, I was his leader, but he was SO loud.

Someone inside the room began shouting at us about awakening him, so I began mocking him.  After all, what kind of villain complains about being awoken?  He retorted by throwing a fireball through the door and my rebuttal was to by stop, drop, and roll.

He introduced himself as the great wizard, Ruinous.  Ruinous?  Ruinous!  What kind of name was Ruinous?  I asked him if he came up with that name when he was 13 and told him that I believed he was hiding something.  I was certain his true name was Unicorn Breeder or Florist, he was quite stylish and fancy, after all.  I inquired whether his father had ever loved him?  It apparently struck a nerve, and he admitted his father was a florist and that he has sacrificed him to Asmodeus (I'm going to add that he did it because he couldn't win the man's approval).  That last bit was meant to frighten me, but it made me sad, or would have if he didn't make half of us begin to vomit uncontrollably.  The Red Wizard, whom I'd decided was my right hand man, used a spell called Phantasmal Killer, and would've succeeded, if Florist hadn't used a Ring of Wishes to save himself.

We explored the man's bedroom, and I found a book, written by his past self before he murdered his dad, that outlined how he would travel into the future and we would have to stop him.  This made my headache worse.  Coal found a lovely sash, Florist had hidden away and the dragon man punched a secret passage into the wall.

We ventured deep into the stronghold and came to an even larger set of double doors.  At this point I decided the Evil One had "little man syndrome".  We heard voices from behind the door and the dragon man once again began shouting and jumping up and down.  I decide he would make a wonderful guardian, once I began to train him, which meant I needed skullcap and treats to reward him when he learned the tricks I planned to teach him.

The door opened and a huge being that the Red Wizard later explained was half-fiend, half-dragon emerged and began talking to us.

This is where things got strange...yeah, I know.  Coal explained that my violet eyes turned an bright blue, at the same time my sword, yes my sword, began explaining to me that this creature was my brother, Mugen and that I must kill him for his past crimes.  Apparently, I tried to, and even injured him, but I cracked my sword.  He disappeared in a cloud of brimstone and 2 Death Knights of Asmodeus began attacking me.

I don't remember much of the fight, as I was either stunned by the force of their blows or vomiting and in a moment of true rapture, apparently in the throes of both.  I did however, enchant the dragon man several times to enhance his battle prowess.

We prevailed with the help of the spy we'd been asked to rescue, as he came from the other room to join the fray.

He introduced himself, but I was distracted when he flexed his muscles and caused his full plate armor to expand.  It made me feel ashamed and awkward and for once I was at a loss for words.  He explained that there was a dragon's horde inside the doors.  Everyone else was very excited, but I was perplexed why the wanted to fight an army of dragons.  The Red Wizard slowly explained it was a treasure, not an army.  I had chosen my right hand, very well.

Then Mugen reappeared.  I told him Mother never loved him and that he should flee before I murdered him.  I explained that Father wasn't even disappointed in him, because he had always been so useless.  He retorted with a Magic Missle to my head.  It was a strong retort and did nothing for my headache.

Then, we heard the roar of the dragon and Mugen sauntered off, knowing that the dragon had returned to his horde and I was going to be too busy to go after him.

I informed my band that this reminded me of every holiday at my family's home.  And we prepared for battle, which is to say, I began to sing...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A New Edition of Rolemaster

Guild Companion Publications Ltd., the current license holder of Rolemaster, just announced a new edition of the RPG.  Rolemaster is one of those games that I've run once, but probably will never run again.  Back in the earlier '90's it's chart bases system was alluring but intimidated me so much, I just never got past 1 session.  While I'm not a big fan of charts, I do enjoy the games presentation.

And now, with the wide use of PDF's, the charts that used to be a bugbear to manage, are a snap.

I do wish GCP Ltd. would really consider making the Rolemaster Express PDF's available again, as I feel that is the best version of the rules I've seen.

I wish them luck.

Mightiest Issue 6

The Avengers of Earth 926:

Iron Man
The Beast
The Thing
Loki, God of Mischief
Invisible Woman
Black Widow and Hawkeye are searching for James Rhodes.
Thor returned to his project with Dr. Henry Pym after returning from the Antarctic.

The Avengers stand face to face with Kree Sentry units in the Antarctic base, code named Zero.
Already, Thor and Wolverine are down, caught off guard by the Sentries.
(I began the session in media res).

The base has been mostly below the ice, with 3 communication spires reaching into the sky.  Melting from an unknown source, had exposed a portion of the base, and the team charged in.

Strong first strikes were taken by Colossus and Thing and 2 of the 3 units were badly impaired.  The battle twisted and turned until finally a female kree officer, identifying herself as Lieutenant Zola-Ged called her Sentries to halt and asked the Avengers why they were here.

Information about the base and it's location on a Hydra database was shared and the group found out Lt. Zola-Ged was cultural anthropologist of low importance, which suited her goals just find.  She was glad she'd happened to be at the base performing maintenance and backing up data or the Avengers presence could have resulted in an interplanetary war.  The team also learned that the United Nations knew of the base and that it had limited diplomatic relations with the Kree Empire.

Zola took the team to her computer lab, where she had a kree Minor Intelligence at her disposal, which also ran the base when it was unmanned.  The Minor Intellgience was an extension of the kree's Supreme Intelligence and sat in a vat of green liquid with tentacles from it's head interfacing with data
ports set into the vat.  Iron Man offered to share the data they'd retrieved and she began downloading it the MI, which began to scream and the liquid in the vat turned a crimson red.  Moments later the whole consoled exploded, destroying Zola-Ged and the MI.

Stunned, the team only had moments before the entire facility began to shudder and shake and JARVIS alerted them that a tectonic anomaly was forming below the base.  Loki teleported to safety and Invisible Woman used a Force Bubble to lift the team out safely.

They watched in silence as some type of rift has formed and was pulling the base into it's depths.  Within minutes the base was gone and the rift shut.  The only thing left was oppressive feeling of death all around the area.

Nick Fury immediately asked for an update for their situation and was extremely angry at their reports.  He called them home and informed them their punishment would be attending a gala party at the Massachusetts Academy serving as both a fund raiser for an expansion to the school and for gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Rachel Horton.

Back at the base the team began trying to look for ties between the 3 bases and who might be manipulating them.  Brainstorming and data mining led them to realize that all 3 bases had alien connections, after learning that technology used on Moses Magnum's yacht was shi'ar, in origin.

The team was ushered to the party in a Stark Industries Helicopter and warmly greeted by Emma Frost.
Everyone that was anyone was in attendance and politicians, the wealthy, entertainers, and sports legends bump elbows.  

Colossus found Bobby Drake and began to catch up;  Logan caught the attention of an attractive bald woman then went inside and sought refuge in the Library and then harassed some students; Spider-Man helped by beating those students at Call of Duty;  The Thing tried to keep a low profile.

Loki, however, went inside the school and found an empty bedroom and performed a mystic ritual to contact the Other and question him about what was happening.  The Other informed him that Tessaract in SHIELD custody was becoming less and less important as a corporation on Earth, Advanced Idea Mechanics, was close to finishing another.  The Other warned Loki of keeping the Avengers out of that situation and belittled the asgardian.

Loki's communion ended just as Logan, tracking his teammate, used his claw to break the lock on the room.  Both men began to chat, when a teddy bear on the bed turned into a 14 year old girl and began harassing them, leading Logan to destroy her phone and both men to flee into the hall where Spider-Man was waiting.

As the trio went back outside, the bald woman found Wolverine and introduced herself as Heather Douglas, CTO of Carnifex and gave the mutant her card, explaining she could use his skills in her business.

Rio Blast for Labyrinth Lord

Rio Blast

No. Enco.: 1

Movement: 60' 

Armor Class: 4 (16)

Hit Dice: 4

Attacks: wrist blaster/wrist blaster or battle pack

Damage: Wrist Blaster 1d4 or battle pack 1d10

Special: 3/day may use Omega blast 1d12

Save: F4

Morale: 12

Alignment: L

X.P. Value: 300

Rappan Athuk on Kickstarter

I'm a big fan of Frog God Games (and Necromancer Games, who they now own).  

The Tome of Monsters book they produced last year, is both awesome as a gaming supplement and a weapon.  And the Complete Swords and Wizardry Hardcover is elegant and streamlined, just like the ruleset.  In short, all of their products are jam packed to the brim with awesome.

If you get a chance, take a look at the Kickstarter and contemplate kicking something in.  I can't vouch for the quality of their products enough and you have the choice of Swords and Wizardry or Pathfinder (or both).  

They're on the cusp of breaking the RPG record, but apparently Traveller is yapping at their heals.  I can promise that if you decide to help out Bill Webb, Matt Finch, Clark Peterson, WDB Kenower, Greg Raglund, Greg Vaughan, and Skeeter Green, you won't be sorry.

Monday, June 25, 2012

D&D Next: Playtest Update from Mike Mearls

Mike Mearls gave us an "update" to the playtest of DnD Next in his new Legends and Lore article.  First, I'm a big fan of what I've seen so far, but mentioning more material "before the end of summer" is too long a wait, in my opinion.  And does that mean August or september?  We're really supposed to go 3 months without more material?  With full time designers in the digital age?

We should see character creation for Fighters, Clerics, Rogues and Wizards through level 10 and it should be by july 10th, at the latest.

I understand that they want to have polish to what they release, but it is a playtest, we're here to give feedback and provide much of that polish.  I'm beginning to wonder if their target date is really August of 2013 at the pace they are moving (that's the date I've been assuming, I don't have any "inside knowledge").

At the bare minimum, we should the pregens extended to level 5.

Hopefully the "or sooner" will be much, much sooner.

Masters of the Universe Monday: Rio Blast

I've decided to kick off a themed day here.  I'lll warn you it will be a work in progress until I find my footing.

Masters of the Universe is probably the best representation of all that Cross Planes means to me.  It mixes fantasy, science-fiction, and moments from my childhood with a pinch of super heroics.

Rio Blast was a member of an alien law team called the Starband Marshals, from the world of Loredos.  He was injured defending his world from Horde Prime, he was given his cybernetic modifications to save his life as well as enhance his battle skill. While working in an Astro-Jail, his world was hit by a meteor and destroyed, a chunk of the exploding planet hit him and knocked him towards Eternia. Believing that Horde Prime was responsible for the meteor, Rio joined He-Man and the Heroic Warriors in the hope of striking back at Horde Prim for the destruction of his homeworld.

His cybernetic modifications are laser guns and blasters built into hidden cavities within his chest and knees, which he unleashes upon unsuspecting opponents. He also carries a pack of blasters on his back, which he pulls over his head during battle to become a one-man army of laser blasters.  Finally, he has hidden blasters built into his gloves.

Colonel Blast is a member of the Horde, who works for Hordak, and very similar to Rio.  It's unknown if they are related.

Rio Blast
Good Medium humanoid (cyborg)
Initiative +7
AC 16
HP 110
Str 14 (+2)     Dex 20 (+5)    Con 15 (+2)
Int 12 (+1)        Wis 14 (+2)     Cha 11 (+0)
Space/Reach 5 feet/5 feet
Speed 60
Melee Attack unarmed strike +5 (1d4+2 bludening)
Ranged Attack wrist blasters +6/+6 (1d6+5 force);  batte pack +8 (2d4+5)
Special Traits one man army +6 (3d6+5 force)
XP 475

    One Man Army Rio can fire all of his weapons at once.
    Combat:  Rio is a lightning quick draw and prefers to use his twin wrist blasters.  However, he will switch to his battle pack to lay down cover fire or meet a superior force.  He will become a one man army to end a fight quickly or to take out vehicles.
     Habitat and Socity:  Rio was a member lawman and jailer on his home planet of Laredos.  He is a weaponsmith, negotiator, tactician, and investigator.  He has a strong sense of justice and desire to uphold the law and keep the peace.
    Legend and Lore:  Rio was a member of the Starbrand Marshals and a jailer at Astro-Jail.  Horde Prime destroyed his homeworld of Laredos, which brought him to Eternia.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dungeonslayers 4 & I got to Play a game!

Dungeonslayers 4th Edition is now available.  Free.  Go check it out.  I'll wait.

Cool, right?

I've been a big fan of the previous versions and feel it's a nice mix of Old School and Tight Design.

I can't recommend it enough.

No Duchy of St. Cuthbert session report to write up, because my friend Mick ran the first session of his Pathfinder game.  We're 3rd level and I'm playing a Human Paladin, named Billy Ray Cordite.  I had a blast.  I probably bent the rules a bit by purposely turning my back to allow party members to loot bodies, but we had several new players at the table and I made Billy Ray to try to get around some of the Stupid Paladin Tricks, I've dealt with over the years.

I'm looking forward to the next session.

Friday, June 22, 2012

On being a Game Master: 100th Post!

So, in the last 30 days I've run 14 game sessions and I won't lie, I'm very tired.  But in a good way...mostly.

I will say however, that even after 20 years of GMing I still get butterflies before each session.  It's not as bad as it was, say 5 years ago, but I have to fight the urge to dominate the evening with small talk or just play a board game.  Essentially, I still have stage fright after 20 years!

I've begun to look at that anxiety as a strength, however.  It reminds me that this game...this shared something important to me and something I share with my players.  It's my responsibility to the session and the players all that I have as a GM, every session.  To strive to be be the best GM, I can be.

You see, I took the stage as a GM, 20 years ago, because I honestly thought I could do it better.  I don't mean to sound harsh, but in my first gaming group we had one overworked and underslept GM who did his best, but who's style seemed to be focused on beating us down.  Hard.  Now, I've grown to understand that he felt that the only way to savor victory was to earn it the hard way, trudging knee deep in a river of defeat and "no, you can't do that."

However, I had grown up reading comics and enjoying action blockbusters and to me, being a hero was about valiant deeds and defeating armies and carving your character's name upon the world.  It wasn't about getting help from NPC's or not having the right magic weapon or not being high enough level.  And since I'd played Champions 4E before AD&D 2E my vocabulary was dominated by "Sure, you can do that, let's build it."

Now, was he wrong?  Nope.

As an aside, I'm sure part of this is because the only "fantasy" I'd read was Thomas and Buscema's Conan the Barbarian, Thomas and Colon's Arak, Son of Thunder, and Mike Grell's The Walord.  I had no experience with Burroughs, Howard, Tolkien or Moorcock.  Yet.

And I appreciate his games far more today than I did then, but I'm still not that kind of GM.  Yes, there are things I need to be prepared to say "no" to, but I feel like a failure if I make a player's goals and ambitions secondary to the rules. To me, my role at the table is to provide stimulus for the player's imaginations and a fuel to make that imagination burn brighter and hotter.  There is very little in the world to me like that moment when you and your group are all plugged into the same mindscape that you've painted for their mind's eyes.  Sure, those moments may be few and far between, but they define me as a GM.  They are what I strive for.  In fact, they are why I have so much problem using minis and DnD 4E, in particular.  Minis and the grid  pull me out of immersion immediately.

And let me clarify, I can have a great time simply playing with my friends and not let immersion even be a factor.  But when I'm a GM, it's what I live for.  Last week, when Draco's player came to me and was so connected to his character and had such a strong story arc in mind, it was like Christmas morning coming early.  Those are the moments that make me fight through my butterflies.  They're the reason I say "yes", so much.

I can't thank my players enough because I wouldn't have a game...or 3 of them, without them.

It's almost ludicrous that six months ago, I hadn't played more than 2 times a year in close to 4 years.  And hadn't run a game even longer.

I'd also like to take a moment to complement John Wolfe, a player in the Gatherers (Jacob the Rooster) and the mastermind behind a group that meets in my store every friday for several years, now.  I deeply admire his ability to mentor and nurture his players in a way that has amazed me.  He molded disparate strangers into a very healthy, very happy gaming group and has the courage to let it mold itself, something I, as a recovering control freak, deeply admire even though it scares the hell out of me.  His group loves him and he's earned that love 1000 times over.  Oh, and he's a damn fine GM, by the way.

And finally, this is my 100th post.  I'm very happy to see my followers grow and can't begin to tell you how much you mean to me.  Thank you for reading about my journeys.

And if you have any thoughts or questions about GameMastering, please feel free to post them!

The Gathering Session 10

The Cast:
Variel, Elven Priest of Corellon Larethian
Link, Elven Fighter
Draco, Dragonborn Rogue Fighter (Dusk Knight)
Tesla, Tellurian Rogue
Jacob the Rooster, Halfling Cleric of Markus
Barracus the Lightbringer, Human Fighter

•  Variel expertly weaves a ritual to return his party to the Tomb of Yawgmoth and finally bring all 14 kuo-toa eggs to A'Yanna.  He's able to draw in his two missing companions, Barracus and Lord Martin so the group arrives whole, in the council chamber of the Tomb...only to find it filled with undead creatures and slaughtered kuo-toa.

•  The Gatherer's arrival coincides with A'Yanna being chained to the top of the council's steps by 2 of the loathsome undead creatures.  Draco rushes through the horde and begins trying to free her, while Martin flees down a corridor in terror.   Variel recognizes the foul monsters as nim, undead from a distant plane, their existence the product of the Mephidross.  The Gatherers begin attacking the undead that surround them and Jacob calls forth a powerful blast from his god, Markus, that vaporizes six of the undead and begins driving the rest from the room, compelled by his faith. 

•  From the far left hallway, a mycosynth laden being with a human head enters the room, bellowing orders to the fleeing undead and wielding a great sword whose blade emits blinding daylight and deepest shadow, simultaneously.  The nim's leader casts a necromantic spell on Jacob, Barracus, and Link while charging at Draco, who is still freeing A'Yanna. The nim's leader rips Draco's tail off and runs the great sword through the dragonborn's back so deeply, the blade impales A'Yanna as well.  The necromancer drops the great sword and bellows, "I am Geth, lord of the Vault of Whispers and master of the nim, and today you will be executed for your trespasses!"

•  Variel rushes to the fallen A'Yanna and begins healing her, while the others begin assaulting Geth.  Draco, touches the blade that has ripped out his guts and blue energy begins to surround him in a powerful aura.  The dragonborn is raised into the air and is transformed by the energies coming off the sword.  He is sheathed in full plate armor, half decorated in black, half in white.   All of the he color drains from his scales and his eyes turn the electric blue that cascasdes around him like a cocoon.  Finally, the blade that ended his life, now rests easily in his hands...Draco the Thief is dead, and Draco the Dusk Knight stands reborn.

•  The Dusk Knight immediately joins the battle against Geth, who begins to fall back at the power of the combined assault of the whole group.  The necromancer breathes dark life into 8 of the fallen kuo-toa and screams, "I curse every Phyrexian that haunts my home and my debt is paid now and in full, you have duped me and I will have my recompense!"  Geth then Planeswalks out of the Tomb leaving the Gatherers to make short work of the kuo-toa zombies and the remaining nim that served the Lord of the Vaults.

•  Draco discovers that he has been chosen to wield the Sword of Light and Shadow, a powerful weapon with profound consequences for him and his Plane.

•  A'Yanna thanks them for their loyalty and bravery and offers them seven pearls that, like wisdom, will prove valuable at the most difficult of times.  She also explains that her people have chosen to leave the Tomb, and feel they have served their purpose as caretakers and honored their promise to the Wizards.  Martin decides to accompany A'Yanna on her journey.

•  The Gatheres then track down Mr. Ocax and purchase several wondrous items from him.  One of which they use to help Barracus reappear as the Lightbringer for their return to Shoal'Barrac, so he may endorse House Levin'Xar and repay that debt.  Then they depart for the drow city by teleporting with another item purchased from the neogi, a belt that allows Barracus to use the Teleport spell.

•  Jacob has a long discussion with Barracus about reinfecting him with the Phyrexian oil, but the smith backs out.

•  Barracus meets with Matron Keela'Vor but she forgoes his endorsement after seeing Draco's transformation.  She warns the Lightbringer that his fate is tied to that of their Plane and after getting more information from the smith, she is concerned that Draco has been made someone's pawn.  Barracus understands her concerns and promises that he will return to the city after they stop the Ebon Handed Janissary, then if she wants his endorsement, he'll give it to her.  The Gatherers then rest up before setting out to hunt the madman trying to raise Crosis the Purger.


The characters rose to level 9 tonight and Draco's player wanted to turn his Rogue into a Death Knight.  He had strong and well thought out ideas on the process and I tried to let them dominate the story.  I added in parts of Magic: the Gathering Lore to tie it closer to the world I'm portraying.  I'm very excited about some of the developments that have occurred with several of the characters and am now trying to bring those things to the rest of the cast.

I felt bad that the session was shorter than usual and fell slightly guilty that this session, essentially, was all about Draco.  But I deeply appreciate his enthusiasm and will make it up to the other players by striving to do the same for their characters.

I have batting around the notion of possibly experimenting with a couple of game systems that I have interest in to represent moving to different Plane.  DnD Next is getting close to reaching a cap at 10th with the rules I have and I have interest in seeing more of 13th Age, HackMaster 5, Dungeon Crawl Classics, RuneQuest 6 and Dungeon World.  It would also allow me to sell those game better.

However, I have suffered from GameMaster ADD for nearly my entire gaming life and that is my only hesitation.  I don't want to blow up a campaign because of my past failings.  So, I'll contemplate it some more and probably share the idea with the group.  

I do think it could be a neat way to showcase Planes and an interesting twist, but the downside would be tracking the character sheets.

So, it's a definite maybe.

I also have to honestly reflect on how much of this comes from nearly losing a player over switching from Marvel Heroic Role Playing to TSR's Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP) and his dissatisfaction over the DnD Next system.  At one point he was prepared to leave both games.  I'm always torn over trying to be a good friend and trying to tell a good story.   Of course, I can honestly say I really like what I've seen of DnD Next and would just like to see more.

Mightiest Issue 5

The Avengers of Earth 926:
Iron Man
The Beast
The Thing
Loki, God of Mischief
Thor, God of Thunder
Black Widow and Hawkeye are searching for James Rhodes.
Colossus took some time to check in with old contacts to search for Kitty Pryde.

• Wolverine and Loki rallied against Magneto and began to take their toll on the Master of Magnetism.  In a berserker rage, Logan cut off Magneto's left arm and Thor smashed through the roof and caved in Magneto's skull.

•  In the X-Mansion's basement, Iron Man arrived to help Beast, Thing and Colossus move the Red Hulk or Warhulk back into the containment room.

•  The Avengers regrouped and filled Iron Man and Thor in on what was happening with the Red Hulk and to calm Logan down.  JARVIS informed them that Magneto was, in fact, an advanced Clone Model Decoy with extensive bionic augmentation.

•  The Beast brings up satellite imagery of the Las Vegas Hydra base they retrieved from the HERBIE robot and the team plans an outing to investigate.  The base, known as the Hole, is approximately 10 miles outside Vegas, in the Nevada desert.  It appears as a self-storage complex and scans show only 4 life signatures, 1 in the trailer by the front gate, and 3 others, over 100 feet below ground.

•  Thor smashes through the ground into the underground portion of the base with Wolverine riding him and Loki not far behind.  They find a cloaked man staring at a three dimensional image of the Tessaract and 2 identical red apelike aliens.  The cloaked mystery man orders the twin aliens to "Attack them and prove your worth to the Overmaster!"  Thor identifies twins as aliens of the roclite species and knows that they have exceptional abilities that get stronger closer the get.  The room is filled with many advanced computers, equipment, and weapons.  And in the corner farthest from the being wearing a cloak is a table with another image of the Tessaract.

•  As the roclite brothers brawl with Logan, Loki and Thor, the mystery man hurries down a side corridor.  Quickly Iron Man, the Beast and the Thing join the fray.  The aliens are identified as Krys and Kros--the Blood Brothers and are known as intergalactic mercenaries.  The battle is fierce and Thor is knocked unconscious by a strange blood draining power of Krys, while Kros throws Wolverine onto a strange looking machine that scans him while dazed.  Meanwhile, the Thing hurries after the cloaked mystery man down the corridor, but JARVIS alerts Tony Stark to the launch of a UFO from the complex and it's use of the same warp technology that the Chitari used when they invaded New York.

•  Loki is downed by a combined blow from the Blood Brothers and another machine in the room comes to life and produces a clone of Wolverine, who promptly attacks Iron Man.  The real Logan charges at his clone and the battle rages on.  The Beast grabs an energy rifle and targets the twin Logans, but blasts the wrong one.  Finally, the Thing realizes that he wasn't quick enough to catch the mystery man and rejoins the battle.

•  Teamwork overcomes the Blood Brothers and the group calls in SHIELD.  Iron Man orders JARVIS to download and analyze the complex's database.  The group investigates the rest of the facility and finds 2 additional floors filled with storage and a final floor that powers the whole thing.  They also discover a total of 4 bedrooms.

•  After handing the complex over to SHIELD, the Avengers head back home and try to figure out how the base they've just raided is related to Hydra.  They're certain there is something they've overlooked and feel that they're being manipulated in some way.  They decide to further monitor the Argentina and Antarctica bases, but make a strike agains the Nova Scotia base.  Its known as Leviathan and is a Super Yacht.

•  The raid goes very smoothly, while there are close to 50 security guards, none are super powered and  surrender quickly.  The team learns that the Leviathan is owned by Moses Magnum, a high profile radical and wealthy son of Malcom and Mariah Magnum, founder of Magnum Pharmatech and an award winning actress turned producer, respectively.  

•  Moses has gained a strong following among militant youth and has "organized" them to bring the people to the governments of the west.  He has been tweeting plans of a massive military strike by his followers on government buildings in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, China, and South Korea for several months.  He had also leaked information to major media outlets about his plans to unleash a Tectonic bomb on the world that he'd developed while Chief Financial Officer of Advanced Idea Mechanics.  

•The Avengers find the Tectonic bomb equipment, but learn from SHIELD that Moses is in London "partying".  They also find half-finished plan to unleash the Tectonic bomb and assault government property on June 1st, now over 2 weeks past.  SHIELD informs the team that their intelligence shows that Moses is far more interested in grabbing headlines and partying than actual terrorism.   While his yacht and the equipment are taken into SHIELD custody and Moses' security team detained, Col. Fury is doubtful that Magnum will actually be found guilty of anything but being "being a spoiled jackass".

•  Once again the Avengers feel like they're being manipulated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

D&D Next: Sapphire Drake

Sapphire Drake
Evil Large beast
Initiative +2
AC 13
HP 120
Str 18 (+4)        Dex 12 (+1)    Con 18 (+4)
Int 5 (-2)        Wis 8 (-1)     Cha 12 (+1)
Space/Reach 10 feet/10 feet
Speed 60 feet
Melee Attack claws +6/+6 (1d4+4 slashing/
1d4+4 slashing) and bite +6 (1d8+4 piercing)
Special Traits fissure; gemcyst
XP 475

    Fissure sapphire drakes can split into 2 smaller drakes with
the stats listed below.
    Gemcyst if a creature moves within 10 feet of a sapphire drake
or begins its turn within that area, it must make a DC 11 Dexterity
save or suffer 1d6 piercing damage.
    Combat:  Sapphire drakes are difficult to injure due to their tough hide and are vicious opponents.  Their most common tactic is to split into 2 separate smaller drakes and gang up on their prey.  They will cause gemcysts on their hides to burst and terrorize any prey that gets to close to them.
     Habitat and Socity:  Sapphire drakes are created through a magical ritual generally practiced by Cults of Nilat the Corrupter.  The process requires a herring egg and close to 2 years of foul ceremonies.  Sapphire drakes are hard to train due to their poor sense and low intellect.
    Legend and Lore:  When sapphire drakes are destroyed, they shatter into many tiny gemstones.  The sage, Korwin of Nuln warns that the gems are worthless and are commonly called witchphire.

          Twin Sapphire Drakes
          2 Evil Medium beasts
          Initiative +2
          AC 13
          HP 60
          Str 14 (+2)        Dex 12 (+1)    Con 14 (+2)
          Int   5 (-2)           Wis   8 (-1)    Cha 12 (+1)
          Space/Reach 5 feet/5 feet
          Speed 30 feet
         Melee Attack claws +4/+4 (1d4+2 slashing/
         1d4+2 slashing) and bite +4 (1d6+2 piercing)
         Special Traits frag blast

        Gemcyst if a creature moves within 10 feet of a sapphire drake or begins its turn within that area, it must make a DC 11 Dexterity save or suffer 1d6 piercing damage.

DnD Next is copyright Wizards of the Coast.  This a fan work and not a challenge to their copyright in any way.

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