Thursday, 25 May 2017

The revision is in progress

With the upcoming new games and possibility of running two games in our world I have combined things I wanted changed for a while now and written a full (almost complete) campaign guide as well as a second document that is a house rules book.

The first part was to fix the world after the cataclysm. I wanted to include the cataclysm, but fix the problems with breaking the world the first time that took away from the campaign and lost part of the original feel. Once quick way to do this was on the world map. I started with fixing the Cloud-Tower Mountains and maintaining that there is no way to cross them easily without going on an extended voyage to the far south, or navigating the ice in the north. This made the Everstorm still a very valid and dangerous crossing path that would separate the east from the west.

With this new map we still have areas of destruction from the cataclysm but have a more reunited old world that worked very well in the long running campaigns of past.

The next part I wanted to work on was the city. The city never had and still does not have a grand map due to it's sheer size. However I wanted to fix the broken city as well and keep it to a simple sketch. The city post cataclysm has been flooded into the bay below and that worked well for one storyline, but as time went on I missed the old northern gate and kept referring to it, even thought it was long gone. This time around I kept some of the features of the cataclysm such as the grand bridge to the royal quarter which is off and into the bay and but have re attached the city to land to function as the southern end of the country and the top of the grand bay.

Here I have re-added the ability to have the northern gates, kept the magic university off on it's island and gave prestige to the royal quarter by the awe inspiring bridge that is a marvel of engineering. This makes the city over all more solid and easier to navigate.

So for the maps I have amended two major outlooks going forward that the new players will see as their first look into the world of Under the Pale Moon. It should give back that old school feeling and still show signs that something has happened to the world since it's creation.

As for the house rule book, I have a small sample of some rules on the "House Rules 5E" page on this blog as well as the full document in a Facebook Group. I may openly post it here soon, but for now that is in a PDF format.

The campaign guide is still in the works, as there are stories and such to be added to it the newest of which spans five typed pages and is a guided tour of the city of Ashura as told from a visitors point of view. This should greatly immerse anyone who truly wants to know about the world and get a feel for how things are in this homebrew campaign world.

I hope to roll out these two major documents and the two new maps in the coming months and might want to charge $1.00 or such for printed copies at the gaming table for anyone who is interested in the world beyond playing each week at the store. All things considered, UPM Gaming is going forward nicely, I would just like to get more players for our weekly game of course of if that dose not pan out, to then do the traveling DM thing and bring the game to new players out there.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

DM's Workshop - Building the adventure

With the start of a new game upcoming I was wondering just what we would play. I have purchased many of the new 5E adventures and will want to play them, but we need a first adventure that sets the tone of our campaign world.

After seeing so many of my adventures and campaigns trashed (not even getting through some openings) I have decided to resurrect one in particular that I really had high hopes for. The first game I wrote for our first venture into 5E was called "Below the Mansion" and featured a Lovecraftian dungeon for the players to explore. This dungeon had a mystery to it's opening tale and a general feeling of woe. The fact that it was the end of a dying winter with snow and mud clinging to the earth beneath a deep overcast sky that constantly drizzled on the PC's who had to bundle up in cloaks for the trek to this ominous cliff side seeking this dark, abandoned mansion half fallen into ruin really set the mood for me.

The slight presence of the gnomes barely viable to greet and quietly leading the PC's into the mansion and down into the well, still made the place feel creepy and desolate. The dungeon itself was one of the best I think I have ever described, with it's cthulhu like decor of stone tentacles wrapping the walls and ceiling and the entire thing lit by a braziers red glow.

In the original adventure the PC's got only a few rooms in so not much was ever uncovered. This time around it's riddles, secrets and treasures can finally be flushed out by new players and their PC's. The story of course will have to change a bit, as the old story relied upon a PC's tale to get the party into the depths, but this time I have an even more tempting hook to get the PC's into this dark dungeon.

As we play d&d over the years we get to try things out and see what works and what dose not. One of the biggest success I have had is in finding a world that works perfectly for PC's to play in. All the failed attempts of populated worlds where the PC's would just hire guards or other NPC's to do the quest for them have been fixed by the world I now run (as that is not possible).

The main thing I liked about starting 5E was the idea that the PC's were friends before hand. Most times the PC's just meet up at a tavern, introduce themselves and move on, either not liking each other or not having bonds or ties to anyone in case they die or get in trouble. The attitude was always "who cares I don't know them". Now with the friendship idea, the PC's have a bond between them which in turn leads to looking out for each other, healing each other, helping each other with quests, story lines and such.

It is a great idea and mixing that with the start of a book I have just starting reading again "Dragons of Autumn's Twilight" you can see how a group of friends coming together one night to celebrate something is the perfect way to start off a quest line. As the PC's come to meet up with old friends, celebrate good times, they are met by someone who has a story they cannot refuse which leads to the mansion and the beginning of our first adventure.

Now that I have the adventure we are going to be playing and working on flushing out the dungeon once more. And I have the starting point for the PC's who will be friends and meeting up to celebrate good times with their friends. And I have the hook for the adventure along with an NPC I am thinking of who will start things off in the right way, I need to work on the tavern. I am pretty sure I have just the place to begin as well, with the release of the newest book "The Yawning Portal" we may return to our old friend at his tavern in our city where we did the original "Undermountain" Campaign as it seems a best fit all things considered.

As more develops, I will post more about our upcoming 5E game and be sure to set things up on YouTube when I can so you can watch along. Other projects I am working on are reliving our other unfinished campaigns with an all new group of PC's who've I rolled up on "Jade Dice" and have started writing as a full length story so we can finally see the end of both "The Wizard of Talisky" and finish "The Invasion" campaign with Gen the pathfinder.

The characters are terrific and flushing them out has give me many new ideas for the adventure. I will post more as I develop more and am also looking into just how Pateron works . . .  hmmmmm.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Goodnight sweet Pathfinder

As I close the Pathfinder game down and look to what I want to run next, I think about the three systems I can choose from to run next. As well I bid farewell the nightmare box of rules that was Pathfinder, the endless charts, graphs, cross references, perplexing systems, and god builds that made the game the hateful thing it became.

(3.5) Still itching to get back into the days of 3.5, so many books, so many unfinished adventures and we can even go back to the "lost years". The 16 years that the PC's were in the floating fortress and play with all new PC's in the old world with our old NPC friends. The old map was so much more fun, so much more balanced and made sense, the NPC's we grew to know and enjoy seeing them. The skip to the future just didn't feel like we were in the same world, with all our friends gone.

(3.5) The books, the endless books between 3.0 and 3.5 and all the information, games, items, spells, feats and stuff. We never go to explore as much of it over 15 years as I would have liked and when I think back to 3.5 I think "old school d&d" to me.

(Pathfinder) While fun and had soooo many options to do things and cleaned up a lot of 3.5 became too overbearing with rules in the end. Though I do look forward to Starfinder the space book coming out this summer and at times loved the stats that were in that game. So many options and so many abilities that it could be endless fun, but when the PC's abused the rules, it became the worst game I ever played.

(Pathfinder) The art was 100 times better than the shit art of 3.5 and you had a better feel for the game, immersion and tools of every make and use down to firewood. But them rules, oh man, them rules. Even the designers flip flopped over years on the forums about what each ability did or didn't do. While I love the look, layout and style of these books, there is just no RPG to be found.

(5E) Is the future, it's what is hot now, it is what people looking to play are trying to get into. Since the book is so light on rules, cut's back on combat and relies on RPG to enjoy it, it fit's well with me. More about the story the fun and less about the "rules" so to speak.

(5E) I can take any old book, any old adventure and affix it to 5E just like I did in 3.5 and Pathfinder, but this time I don't have to spend hours revamping the stats, the rules the DC's. It's so much easier to just say 5 easy, 10 hard, etc or strength check vs strength check to determine a winner and move on. The lack of insane rules give the PC's more strength to flex their RPG muscles and tell me what they want to do and how with out the charts, graphs, pausing to look up a rule or endless debate over them. Yes a rules lawyer could exist in 5E, but he/she would not have much to stand on in the few pages about rules that are in the core books.

Well that is about that. While I really get excited thinking about trying a 3.5 game, I am ordering the "Curse of Strad" DM's screen on Amazon and picking up the Yawning Portal guide. This time around I am going to get the stuff I want, no matter the cost as it's available and not let it slip by like 3.5 when I was young, broke and things were harder to come by.

The only thing I will do different this time is not allow anything past core (unless it's an option in a published adventure) because that spells disaster for all the games I have played. So far though 5th has many options in core that I am sure no one will feel restricted to the same core classes of a 3.5 or Pathfinder. Unless we are doing a sword coast adventure as well we will not be allowing anything from there either, but with Forgotten Realms in 5E and Ravenloft in 5E, if my 2nd all time favorite campaign comes along "Dark Sun" I will be getting that for sure.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Cast

The new heroes who are taking over our latest epic quest I rolled randomly and before I started thinking about features, tone, characteristics and the like I came up with a party of five.
  • A female, chaotic good, halfling, fighter
  • A male, neutral, elven, bard
  • A male, neutral evil, human, sorcerer
  • A female, neutral good, tiefling, oracle
  • A female, chaotic neutral, human, barbarian
The dice gave me a start and using another random set of features I added some details.
  • Curvy body type, brown hair
  • Athletic body type, blonde hair
  • Thin body type, blonde hair
  • Athletic body type, brown hair
  • Thin body type, orange hair
 The characters then needed some weapons and outfits, so I came up with some random and some suitable ones for them to use and wear.
  • Brass knuckles and short sword. Silver breast plate
  • Rapier. Long dark coat and noble clothing
  • Dagger and spells. Cloak over sorcerers robes
  • Staff and spells. Long layered skirts and cloth top
  • Katana sword and One hand battle axe. Silver chain mail bikini with leather boots
 Starting to get the characters physically flushed out for the adventure. I then switched to a few traits to help flush them out a bit.
  • Leader type, commanding yet insecure
  • Educated, well spoken, fair, confident
  • Mean spirited, expects too much from the party
  • Proper in public, relaxed, caring but vengeful, social
  • Dependent, weak willed, shy or awkward type with an alcohol problem
Adding in some basic starting trait ideas I start to build the characters in my mind. At this point I know the halfling is going to be a leader of the group but always worried about letting them down. I have a well educated bard who can help aid the halfling when she is making mistakes by using his confidence in knowledge to guide her in the right direction. I have a powerful sorcerer who is very beneficial with his abilities, but his terrible attitude towards the others makes him seem overly mean when he is not understanding their faults. A likeable, proper type social tiefling who is everyone's friend as well as lends an ear to listen and takes care of the group. And a barbarian who is thin, dependent on others to care for her, not good at standing up for herself type, who escapes reality with drink when the occasion presents it's self.     

Right now I am starting to love this group. I am seeing some parings and some conflicts during the adventure and have my favorite picked out already for who were going to be following as the main character. I find the barbarian the most interesting already to write about as I can picture her easily in my mind and want to see how she manages throughout the adventure.

As for the adventure, we have already played part of it in our d&d game and the rest I had a good outline written and an ending so all I have to do is lets this new group of characters play though it their way and give us a twist on the ending we might not see coming. 

As for the start, I have the tavern trope set up as they learn about the adventure, introduce themselves and decide how they are going to go about setting out for the northlands. I don't want to bog the story down right away with long chapters on travel so they will need some friends who are able to get them their quicker and let us dive right into the start of the adventure, I think these should be siblings.

More to continue.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Infanite Material

Well what could possibly be better to write about than D&D? When I started this blog it was focused just on our game. It was meant to be a tool for recapping and updating the players in our game about what was to come and some of what has passed, but things evolved.

Writing this blog came after my old blog The Slayers Inquest which was a blog back from 2014 that I posted in about the state of online gaming to go along with Andrew, Scott and my discussions on the forums at MMO Slayers . These forums were our life for a long time and were fueled rage discussions about online games, mainly MMO's which were in their heyday. In the end, MMO's died off and the forums went quiet. I stopped doing The Slayers Inquest and started doing up a second blog for my D&D game.

The D&D blog, changed though, it became more of a way for me to post my point of view on a subject that came up at our gaming table, without being interrupted and by posing examples and stories. I see that by looking through the stats, other people have found the blog (be it a small audience) and have read some of the posts. I got one or two +1's on a post and no comments, but it got me thinking about posting more stuff. I mean what better subject to write about than D&D!

There are hundreds of articles on rules, on opinions, on things happening in today's game. I am in three facebook groups alone, which daily get flooded with questions from new DM's, trolls, and players wanting to discuss a situation, a rule or an opinion. These facebook posts get hundreds of reply's daily and can get pretty heated. This blog is a nice place to chill out and post what I want with out some facebook poster getting butt hurt and flaming me, thought that may come with time and in comments below.

Now it would be nice if I could set up ad sense here to get some nickles, but sadly I cannot. I am thinking about Pateron but I will have to figure out quite how that works and if I can I will be porting these over there so I can get a donation and have more fuel to write with. For now here though, I can do whatever I want. I can write a story about some d&d characters in our world and give you some backstory from an NPC's point of view. I was thinking of writing what would have happened in many games that we just ended abruptly on, that might be fun to see how the story was laid out and how it would have ended pending PC changes and what not. I can talk about how taping our games for YouTube over at UPM Gaming YouTube started off calming everyone down and stopped rule bitching before the we got used to having the camera on us. We can talk about how I think D&D should be played and how players in my group think it should be played. We can discuss Pathfinder, 3.5 and 5E D&D and see which is more fun in each area and why. The material is infinite really.

Right now I have again stopped playing due to differences at the table and an inability to resolve the conflict that would be long term and make the game fun again. I just wrote an article about how to get role playing back to great again, but it blew up into a demand of player wants that was too unrealistic for me to manage and I ended up having to stop our Pathfinder game for now. The time needed to craft five or so fights a game that needed to be in depth high level battles that suited each players goals and backgrounds, allowed each to shine, award XP of a high amount and still fit the complex story line I was running it, just wasn't there. If I was twenty years old again and living at home with a part time job, sure. Sadly time has come and gone and I have too little free time anymore. I can still write an amazingly fun adventure for Sunday night, but my players demand Lord of the Rings and I just can't out write Tolkien so I have had to call it game.

What I am excited for is a new adventure in my favorite hobby that revolves around blogging, producing gaming videos (ones that features D&D games or RPG games) and trying to get an audience built to read and view my stuff (not to mention interact). You can always read my updates and small thoughts on Twitter UPM Gaming if your not the type to read long blogs and just tune right out at the first paragraph. I find Twitter a great way to get across small information quickly for those who don't like long posts. You can also read updates on our Google Plus if you have a google account.

Either way I hope you find something of interest or use in the upcoming posts, links to information, videos and such.

Thanks for reading, leave comments!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Make Role Playing Great Again

I don't know how, but we have to get back to great role playing. . . 

Is it the system? Would playing 5E or AD&D change a damn thing? Is it Pathfinder is just too complex in it's rules? Is it the players fault who power builds, optimizes and or uses the rules as written to abuse the situation and always win, ending fights before they begin? If they had spells and abilities to do so, why would they hold them back just to let other players get a hit in, have a share of the spotlight or role play a situation? Is it that after all, we've only got to level 11 in Pathfinder once for the first time and didn't expect what we found?

I can't very well house rule "You have to not play as unstoppable, when your actually unstoppable". It just don't work that way. I can't tell a player to tone it down when they have abilities on their sheet that fit the situation to guarantee a win or quick end to a battle. I can make them re-roll and avoid mistakes of allowing everything from almost every book but the core. I can limit things and house rule the game to death if I had the time and energy.

I do blame a bit on Pathfinder itself, I have to. Their monster manual says CR 11, but it's killed in one hit. That's Pathfinder rules making the error there. If there are poisons to kill boss creatures in one hit, or spells to make demons bow to your will, that is a problem with the rules, plain and simple. There are hundreds of examples of the game being broken and things linked that allow this kinds of OP play within the rules of the game, but that is what players strive for, the edge to win and if it's there they will take it.

So do we go back to one book? Just core? Is that not even broken as well? Maybe yes, maybe no. Or just change editions all together? 5E so far works, but that is because we are only core, no other books, no "Sword Coast Legends" rules or such. Is that what is helping us stay balanced?

I should be able to open the monster manual, choose a monster of appropriate CR and be good. I should never have to spend all night making one guy to balance the party, which only gets stomped out in one hit anyways. I just don't have the time for this. I don't have all day to sit around and hand draw up every enemy, spending my day doing this to give a challenge when it's not about that anymore, but about an arms race to out play the players and that is not fun.

So were back to the "I'm out" where players drop off because the game is no fun. Do we let the happen until there is no game, then try to win back the players who left to make a group to play what is fun? Or do we stop out right now since it is no fun and re-tool the whole damn thing? So far nothing is working and I am thinking of once again calling it. Now some of it I will say is just out right complaining. I heard "No challenge".  This is complete shit to me, for when I put in a challenge it was "To hard" to the dungeon under the mansion.

Again if it were up to just me, I would have the game be just running dungeons non-stop, no epic story line of betrayal, revenge, redemption, etc. Because it's easy, go in kill, loot, win or die. That is easy old school d&d and no one can complain . . . well yes they can, but you get a bit less when your focused on just slaying all the things in a dungeon and looting the place.

However that is not the way I or anyone else likes to play. We need epic story lines, and tie in's and such to tell a great story and have the PC's take control and twist it into a glorious adventure. We've run AD&D games woven in (which are number one in the world, but sometimes not a hit), we've tried space, we've tried everything. I can't seem to get anyone to have fun anymore, it seems to be just like playing Magic the Gathering, were out for each player and were intent on winning.

So what can be done to get back to good role playing? I have searched the piazo forums, I am in two to three D&D groups on Facebook with new DM's coming up daily, looking for advice. I just can't seem to get a good answer from the players as to what they want and why they think they are not getting it. If you are the player sculpting the story, why is the story not going the way you wish it to? If you have a problem with a player, why are you not speaking to him or her in game and if you are and they are not listening, why are we not telling them to explain themselves or find a new party to adventure with?

 I think I may take the game down and focus on either just playing our 5E game for now OR even run a second 5E game, leaving Pathfinder behind and send out some polls to get players to respond to what they like and do not like.

I have ton's of adventures and ideas, but we keep starting and stopping and each adventure gets nixed and nixed over and over and story lines die and paragraphs and books get tossed. Waste of my time, and their time and good freaking stories along the way. I can't begin to tell the stories lost to quitting a game, long running epic idea tie in's that get scrapped when we quit or restart, stuff I want to explore and that takes weeks of thought and prep to create only to have to start with nothing and generate ideas on the spot.

Just thinking out loud here on our D&D blog, cause I want the game to go till the end of time for me. I love going each Sunday night and playing no matter what game it is or how it goes and I don't want to stop doing that. So if things become bogged, I guess it is best to try to stop it now before everyone leaves and fix it. I think it best to stop when trouble is about and here we will stop I think until we can get the excitement back into the game, why play if your miserable?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Felt like sharing

 So I didn't get any d&d books for x-mas, but that's okay. I did get some cash so I can pick up two, maybe three new ones. I was thinking 5E Storm King for sure, but hmm on what else. I never did play 4th, but there are some campaign worlds I would love to get the books for such as Undermountain (which looks nice) and of course some older manuals.

Anyways, below is a photo I did for fun, after rounding up all the gaming books (Though I am sure I missed some) and this excludes my Dragon Magazines and Dungeon Magazines as well as novels. But it shows some of the books I do have and where I am missing some for the collection. I found the adventures to be worth the most and the how to rules books to be stuff we all know, so going to focus on more adventures and campaign worlds in the future.

I hope you can zoom in on the photos to see all the titles and such. You will notice some fun stuff in there like my favourite anime "The Slayers" done in a 3.5 book, some GG books and Gurps of course. This is why we have been playing 14 years and why I don't see an end to content for the players.

As seen from front, books cut off on top

Top down shot as case is in tight doorway. Can see top books.