Archive for category CSIHC


Hey there readers.

So yeah, I know it has only been a couple of weeks since my last rest day, but to be honest I am in crash mode again. Holiday days off for the 4th of July, and even though I have been getting more sleep, well for a day or so… I still feel like I cant get anything going.

So I am going to dodge putting effort in here and see if I can keep resting up.

Hope everyone out there is playing hard and playing safe.

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Plot Hooks 2


So thanks to a suggestion by Dan over at Dan on Games I have been working on a sample of what I have done to get plot hooks on the ground for players. Sadly I found that I would not be able to map out a whole story without it becoming a novel.

I do however have two plot hook generators that I have found that might keep you entertained while you wait for the plot hook novel… Random Plot Hooks and D&D Compendium Plot Hooks.

So instead of going into a whole story arc, I thought I would go with one of the most teased and mocked start ups to an adventure. The Party meets in an inn. Now then I did pull this up from my old notes. Last time I used this was in 2012. I had it on a spread sheet so I could remember all of the little hooks.

When the party members walk into the inn have each one make a perception check. Depending on success they will notice the following things. Now then some of these may be plot hooks and some may not. Read on and see if you can guess.

  • Bar maid has a black eye.
  • Food smells unusual. Any vegetarian characters will be nearly drooling, but it still smells unusual.
  • Well dressed male human in corner with a lyre chatting with a pair of women. Hard to tell from here but seem similar in build and in dress. May be related.
    • One woman is older than the other.
    • Older voice is raised. Slightly.
    • Male seems amused.
  • One table off to the side, has something carved into the table top. No one is sitting there.
  • There is a shield and hammer over the fire place.
    • Shield emblem matches the sign of the inn.
    • Hammer gives the feeling of being magical.
      • Hammer does not show as magic under senses that can detect magic.
  • Sign of room costs is in common, elvish, and draconic.
  • Sign of food and drink costs is in common, elvish, and a third language no one will recognize.
  • Innkeeper has a scar running from his left temple to his neck.
    • Scar looks new
  • Other than the fireplace there is no stonework.
  • The bar is made of metal.
  • There is a chair in the fireplace.
  • There is a furry creature in a bird cage at one end of the bar.
  • The common sleeping room is behind the fireplace and there are two signs leading to it. Both match the sign for food and drink where there is one language no one will recognize.
  • There is an obvious, and ornate staircase going up.

Ok so out of all of that, how many of those do you think are plot hooks?

Let me tell you this, the first time I ran a story using this inn, two of those items were planned plot hooks. The rest was flavor.

The original two were the food and the chair in the fire place.

The food was a plot hook for the inn itself. The barkeep and the cook were getting locally illegal spices from the elves.

The chair in the fireplace was tied to the main story. It held clues to a nearby set of ruins.

Funny thing is the first time I had players in the inn the thing they all wanted to know about was the barmaid with the black eye. Since I had created her to be mildly attractive (Charisma 12), Intelligent (Int 13) and a capable fighter (Fighter level 2), I had just thought she would make a nice surprise as a bouncer should the players play like @$$holes. I didn’t go any further originally than thinking the last time she tossed someone she got a shiner for it. But that group of players would not take that as an answer and decided to follow her to see what was up. So I winged it, and had her lead them to an underground fight arena where she was a local up an comer. The plot that built up was that the arena was run by a local crime boss, and that lead them into the local underworld. They could save her (cause she would not throw a fight) and gain her as a follower, or let her get taken out in her next match.

And now I had two major stories coming out of the inn.

The furry critter got tackled next. Was actually a sentient that the barkeep refused to believe was anything more than a pet. Played right it could become an accountant for the inn.

And then the metal bar. Dwarven made a thousand years ago out of an alloy they could not replicate any more. Dwarves would make offers for the bar. One was finally planning on stealing it.

Fourth time in the inn, someone checked out the food. That lead into a silly story about criminal chefs. Lead by a monk who would only say that he was just a cook through squinty eyes.

Shield and hammer turned out to be donated by a local who had fought in the local ruins decades ago and could not talk about it. A little clerical help though and he could be right as rain.

As of the last time I ran this particular inn, only the staircase, and the lack of stonework were the only things that had not been turned into plot hooks by myself or the players just deciding that something was worth following up on.

To top it off, I like to review all the PCs and I may toss in something character specific, but not always.

So how many plot hooks is that in the end? A lot.

Do I do that with every encounter? No. But I don’t discourage players from thinking that I do.

Will I let my players run with anything they decide is a plot hook? Not ‘anything’. But nearly so.

Do I reuse encounters from group to group and story to story? Bloody right I do. The material I mentioned above is all from one version of that inn. I currently have two others that more fit other styles of settings.

So I am dozing a bit at my keyboard. Another night with little sleep at all. That means I need to ask you all if that gives a better example of what you can do with plot hooks, and lets you see that not all hooks need to or should come from the GM?

Either way, gimme the dice… all of em… yes even your lucky ones… I need to see how many plot hooks I can add to a 10×10 room with the walls closing in.

Keep gaming, keep safe and have fun out there everyone.







Making old stuff new again


Hey readers

Sorry about the low quality image for the starter here, but I will never claim that editing pictures digitally is any kind of a skill I have.

What you see here in this collection of classic D&D/AD&D modules is one of the many variants of an adventure epic that I have created over the years to sort of tell one giant story arc that would involve one group of PCs and build them from the ground up to serious epic level adventurers.

I put this version together when I started converting old modules over to Pathfinder first edition.

For those of you wondering how you can convert old game modules to a new game, its actually pretty easy. Pathfinder made it especially easy when they added in their book the NPC Codex. Which gives you breakdowns, by level, of most of the core classes they had created at the time of the books publication. So if you see a 5th level magic user called for you just need to decide if they are a Wizard or a Sorcerer and there you go. NPC Codex has you covered. With the majority of the monsters all you need to do is look up their current stats in one of the Bestiary books. If the creatures are unique to a module though you may have to do a little accounting, or trade them out for another creature you like more in any given circumstance.

Now then you are also going to note that there is a repeat of a module in the image above. That is not an error. It is actually a story point.

Let me break down for you how all of these tie together so you can see what I was setting up.


Module T1 was originally written to be a first to third level adventure. For this story though it is used as the starting village. Every PC lives here, and starts the game as a ZERO level character. Thats right no character classes or anything else. Using Pathfinder you can take a background feat, and have one or two skill points (but no class skills) and there you go. Farmer, blacksmith apprentice, spoiled child of former adventurers. Whatever sort of background, even visiting minor noble. That’s how you start. And the village gets raided by slavers.



So the slavers take the PCs and other survivors to a holding facility on an island. No one really knows where they are at. Things are bad here and you get to treat the PCs badly. Give them a feel for a primitive nasty island and before they get frustrated the island gets raided by a group of characters that has it out for the slavers. Rescue minded they save the PCs and bring them back to a safe haven.





Sadly the safe haven is really close to a series of caves. So safety is a relative thing. However in the group of characters there is one of any character class they want to learn to be. With mentors on hand you can queue up a training montage to get the PCs to level 1 and then send them off to the local caves to test themselves. Sadly when they come back from their training run the safe have has been hit by the slavers and all the evidence points back to the island they were rescued from.




It takes some time and effort but the PCs will find the island and the slaver holding facility through luck, good role playing and maybe a little kind DM plot armor the PCs will find evidence that says the actual slave lords are back on the mainland and they are running a big sale for someone. Potentially hundreds of slaves. You can even make them specialized in innocent children if that helps motivate the PCs.




So that gets us running through the Slave Lords series of modules. The PCs get to take ongoing revenge. And slowly pick up information that suggests the big slave sales are going to someone or something nefarious. Giving the Players a chance to be total heroes is an awesome thing. However you can also keep things interesting by having some of them be approached by agents of the higher powers of evil to make them offers to betray the party… for added plot depth of course.


In finishing off the slave lords the PCs get word from someone claiming to be one of their mentors about a location that is very dangerous but it holds weapons that may give the PCs a serious advantage over the forces that were employing the slave lords.

Of course this is supposed to be a death trap but, if the PCs survive the almost artifact level weapons inside are real. But given the weapons personalities and such, there should be questions regarding if the weapons are actually being imprisoned to keep them from wreaking havoc.



The next layer of the conspiracy of the slavers is the Giant Kingdoms that the large slave orders have been going through. This gets a little hard core. And I would recommend replacing the Drow with ‘mysterious people in priests robes’. Tearing through the giants the PCs find evidence that the slaves are being forwarded to another location. But there are certain items that will need to be used to get there, and the number of slaves the giants keep (10% of the shipment) means there are a bunch of slaves to rescue here. Also its a great way to introduce replacement and new PCs.



The items picked up in the giants realm leads to a nasty slave ship. I like to play up the horror of this vessel and add things that make it seem even more magical and nasty. It is not an easy thing to get through.

And this is a great place for any of those rescued weapons from S1 to try and turn on the players.






Now then I know a ton of people who hate the Sci Fi elements added in to S3. And for me there is a time and a place for it. But this story-line is not it. I replace the tech with a magical equivalent and add a bit of a Cthulhu feel to it. Computers become magical tapestries, guns are wands or rods and so on. All the strange wildlife and plants are what most of the slaves have been brought here to deal with. And you even get to play up the horror of not being able to save some of them as the plants and animals mutate/possess/turn undead the slaves.

And all of this leads to the final phase.


The temple. Buried under all of the weird #@$% in S3 is the entrance to the temple. Now then whatever group of individual is trying to get into this place is way ahead of the PCs. And it appears that they have been sacrificing slaves along the way to power magic, appease gods, or whatever it is, And if the players still have the weapons from S1, here they get stronger, and chant in the back of the PCs minds.



So you will note that the level of PC listed is not all that epic when you read the module covers. And that is one of the bits of scaling that will need to be done. When I mapped this story out originally the T2 module was going to need to be upgraded to Levels 15-20. But again with something like the NPC Codex book it is a pretty easy thing to do.

That is my method for taking a classic series of modules and building a story that is fresh and new. And I kid you not converting from old school to Pathfinder is just as easy as I have suggested here.

And that is what I mean by making something old new again.

Now gimme the dice. I need to see how many classic modules I could put a mashup in place with.

Keep gaming and being safe out there folks.







Plot Hooks


Howdy readers

This time we are going to talk about a little something called plot hooks. Some folks who have played in games I have run have accused me of turning everything in the game into a plot hook. I can honestly say that is not true. I am simply willing to run with anything the players take an interest in and make that into a plot of its own… hmmm come to think of it that does sort of mean that they are right and that everything is a plot hook. Hmmm I think I have some apologies to issue.

So for those who are not familiar with the term, in game settings a plot hook is something that catches the players interest, and has a story or series of adventures behind it. This could be as simple as meeting someone in the street who needs help, all the way up to being summoned before the local Overlord to ‘consult’ on something of serious import.

Plot hooks can also railroad players… hmmm… dont know if I have gone over rail-roading players or not but the term means that the person running the game has set things up so that there is only one story, and only one way through that story. So players have to make certain choices, and have to take certain missions. It is like if you only had the story options in any RPG you have played on a PC or a console and had no side quests. And players hate to have no options.

Strangely though if you need to railroad players it is possible to make it look like one plot hook is several. Ok so lets see how that works…

Plot is to get the players to defeat a dragon. Classic I know. So how do we hook them.

  1. Reward for the dragons head from the king.
  2. Dragon has captured local bar maid (hey she is hotter than the princess and knows how to cook some local specialty foods, I mean with a package like that why capture a princess).
  3. Dragon’s Lair (sorry couldn’t help it) is under a major trade route and the dragon takes ‘taxes’ from travelers.
  4. Dragon runs a rival Thieves Guild that the local Guild Master does not like.
  5. Dragon is in possession of a magic item that can save a local farm.
  6. Another dragon (in disguise of course) wants the dragon dead (they used to be a couple but there were too many captured bar maids for it to be a stable relationship).
  7. People have been getting sick any time the dragon flies over and the local clerics seem to think the dragon may be sick or spreading a disease for its own purposes.
  8. Local branch of the Draconic Preservation Society wants to move the dragon to a less populated region for its own safety.

So the fun thing is all of these things can be true at the same time. You can use any or all of them to get play running in the direction you want. Just make sure you leave the hooks out for players to find, and dont have NPCs repping for each one show up at their door step. And actually when I ran that bit of a story above the dragon and the bar maid were in love and they used the resources of the DPS to move out of state but worked with the PCs so that there was enough evidence left behind that they could claim all the prizes that were being put up for the dragon… well all except for the ex… the ex went after them but the PCs were not contracted to help on that part of things.

So do you see where this all comes together.

A plot is a story outline. It says that things will happen.

A plot hook is the method by which a GM entices or kidnaps players into the story. No seriously kidnapping players is a great plot hook… from time to time. If the PCs are getting kidnapped every week… thats a bad sitcom not good gaming ๐Ÿ˜›

Usually a plot hook will be introduced by an encounter, or by the GM calling some or all of the players attention to something. I have a ton of fun calling out things that have nothing to do with any story I currently have on the books. Makes players think that… well… everything is a plot hook. Shoot… I really do need to apologize to some folks.

Plot hooks can be as blunt or as subtle as you want. Let me give you an example of a few I have used in the past.

  1. There is a distant castle that always has a storm over it.
  2. A cat follows the party everywhere they go.
  3. Players wake up in manacles with all their gear on a nearby table.
  4. Players are approached by a Scarface reject with an offer they cant refuse.
  5. Wanted posters all over town for a young priest.
  6. A crying child.
  7. Bland food at the best inn in town.
  8. Local rumor mill is talking about how the local undertaker is making a ton of extra coffins.
  9. Local rumor mill is discussing the fact that after thirty years of nearly constant activity and raids by the local orcs, they have not been seen in a month.
  10. Beggar on the street telling local myths and legends to children.

There are always things that can be used to drag players into a story.

I tend to find that the subtle ones work best. Allowing players to choose what they want to get involved with gives them a lot more buy in.

Now then the funny thing is that you can also keep dropping plot hooks for a single story into their path. As long as you vary the content they are not going to know. My main reason for having something like this is because I usually create a meta plot. Some ongoing story that will change the face of the world the players are in. I write up a timeline for it and then try to lure the players in. If they dont go for it, thats fine. It means the default story line happens in the background. Right up to the point they take on the hooks. Personal best is having a group take eleven introductions of plot hooks for the main story before they joined up. Personal strangest is having a group take up the main plot, and then abandoning it for something shiny on a weekly basis for about a year. Strangely they never needed a new hook for the main plot, they would just, forget about it, for a while.

I would love to hear from players and GMs what their favorite plot hooks have been. And what it took to get parties to run with them.

Ok gots to be ready for when the little one wakes again…

So gimme the dice… I need to see where this plot runs.



Tales from the Game Table – The Inn

dm disaster mw kaluta

So ages ago, or so it seems, I had a game group that was sort of, eclectic, when it came to getting together. We did not really have the consistency to do a major story, or even a main ongoing campaign. So I came up with an idea to run serial one offs with whomever was available.

For the world we would use I created The Town. And yes this was my attempt at creating a place like The City in The Tick (comic book version). Inside the town was The Inn. All adventures start in The Inn. Everyone meets at The Inn. This was me spoofing the genre classic that every adventure starts at an inn.

Building on that premise I then also said that north of The Town, was The City. And north of The City was The Capital.

Then I figured that all adventures would take place south of The Town. Going to sea, going to a desert, going to a mountain, going wherever you would leave The Town and go south.

To facilitate the one off adventure but add some sense of continuity I created twenty characters. 4 rouges, 4 fighters, 4 spell casters, 4 clerics, and 4 oddities. When the group got together they would draw one character from one pile. The first time a character was drawn the player would add a name and gender to the character. At the end of the adventure XP would be added to the character and they would be put back in the pile. All future times the character would be drawn the name and gender would be set. I figured this system would let everyone tinker a little, and have a little fun humor wise.

The result of the very first adventure left me with a little something I had not been expecting. The players had rescued thirteen people from a monster camp. Brought them back to The Town, and gave them some of the reward to help them set up. So all of a sudden I had the chance to have recurring NPCs in The Town. Not wanting to take up too much effort on something I was trying to set up for serial one offs, they became bakers (make no mistake there was a lot of player input on this). As they had all been rescued while they were starving, being around food a lot seemed like a good idea. And so they added a shop called The Bakers Dozen to The Town. It was just west of The Inn. Half the time they ate themselves out of stock, but it was their shop and somehow it never went out of business.

We only ever got another five adventures in with this concept. I happened to love it and would one day love to do it again. In the current lockdown situation I have been thinking a lot about remote gaming and how a model like this could work in favor of folks who wanted to have low risk one shots, but still have some feeling of a campaign even if the same folks could not get together with any kind of consistency.

Anyhow that is the flashback of the week.

I hope that everyone out there is having fun, not getting too bored, and staying safe.

Now gimme the dice. I need to see just how many bagels the Bakers Dozen has in stock today.



Tales from the Game Table – The Bob Squad

dm disaster mw kaluta

Ok so this is the tale of something going sideways.

Years ago, while playing in a live action World of Darkness campaign that my roommate was running I was relating to some of the players and my roommate the tale of the most demented hunter in all of another game… a Champions RPG session that had been randomly called… Bob.

One of the jokers in the group, and I am ashamed to admit that I do not remember if it was me or not, suggested that in WOD there are a lot of bad bad things that have names starting with B. In Werewolf you have the Black Spiral Dancers. In Vampire you have the Black Hand. In Mage you have the Barabbi. The supplement for mummies had Bane Mummies. In Changeling you had Banality itself. You get the idea.

So we started bantering around the idea of having a series of bad guys and gals all named Bob.

Barabbi Bob, Bane Mummy Bob, Black Spiral Bob… and on and on… and somehow they all worked together to form the Bob Squad.

Now then in his wisdom my roommate did not bring together the Bob Squad, at least in any way that the players could see. For all I know he may have created a great council of evil Bobs that were actually responsible for all of the evil and darkness that we faced in the game and he would laugh himself silly as we failed to see any Bob based clues because we knew it was silly. I know not the limits of your creative debauchery good sir, but I would not have ever put something like this past you.

So since my roommate did not present a Bob Squad, I created one. Yeah… bad GM.

The Bob Squad was created to be a joke. To be funny. To be silly. To lighten the mood.

The first appearance of the Bob Squad in the table top session I was running resulted in a TPK.

For those that do not know TPK, it means Total Party Kill. Every. Player. Character. Dies.

I thought that this was not possible.

Can not happen.

These guys are a joke.

So I lowered the power level on all of the Bobs and brought them back.

Party fails to win but half escape.

I think WTF (nope not translating that one. If you dont know it ask your Urban Dictionary) there is no way this is possible.

So I lower the power again and bring the Bobs back.

Third time… it took me three freaking times to see it for what it was. It was not the Bobs power level at all that was the problem. It was the players.

The Bobs were a well oiled machine. They had plans and counter plans. When they stepped into a fight they used both strategy and tactics. The would find a weak spot and take advantage of it. The players on the other hand did not care about tactics. They were all individuals. Team work was a foreign concept. Many of you know the mantra “Dont fire into melee!” Not these guys. They even stepped on them selves with area effect magics and the like.

And so that is how a joke… really a joke encounter turned into a dark day in gaming.

I still have notes on the Bob Squad and some day in some form in some game they will return. Whether as a joke or a serious team I cannot say.

Let us raise a glass to the Bobs everywhere in memory that sometimes a joke has more impact that you might think ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now gimme the dice. I need to see how many RPG races and classes start with B.



My current game – Pathfinder-ish

Hey there readers

So I wanted to take a moment to chat about my current game group. A while back we were playing Shadowrun. But one of the players left the country for a while for work and out of respect for his character and contributions we put the Shadowrun game on hold. Holding his character hostage so to speak so that should he decide to stay in another country we can try to lure him back.

So without him on hand we have agreed to start up another game. I wanted to give them something open to run with that might become really fun and keep everyone on their toes and enjoying things even if Mr Outofthecountry decides to fall in love and stay someplace else and not game with us any more… yeahhhh… you monster… leaving gaming for love… sheesh…

So Pathfinder first edition is easy to run, and for many it is either something they know or know enough similar stuff to make a quick jump. As to settings, well I have one that I have not pulled out for … hmmm… twelve years plus. Setting is an older world that had developed tech and magic. But the two philosophies just could not get it together and so a war broke out between factions. Magic won the fight about 100 years ago. But there are still repercussions. Tech above a certain level just wont work. Unless you happen to be in one of those rare places that magic does not work. There are a few places where magic runs wild, but not many. So on top of this both sides went all out in getting allies and servants to fight the war. So pretty much every race you can imagine and then some is open for play. Same thing with classes. However with even the gods having taken sides in the war, not every god is available. Some are dead now, some are in a coma, and some have been quietly replaced by… other things. Some kingdoms have risen from the ashes. Some never truly fell. And groups like the wandering gypsy type clans have expanded to include almost any race or skill set that wants to join.

Obviously there is a lot more in the world that that. But its a start.

So how do I get the players in to the world. I handed them a few options. And they wanted to start out with one of the gypsy families. One that runs a traveling circus. However I started the game with the circus stopped at a major city. I basically wanted to give them the option of running with the circus, or taking things into the city.

So since many folks know that I co-opt materials quickly and frequently let me show you what core items I am using for the city… the image below should say it all.

CampaignYeah I have said it before that the city state and undermountain are a favorite combination of mine. It just gives you soooo much area to play with without every leaving the city. It also can give you a lot of reasons to leave the city… heh.

Now then if the group had wanted to stay with the circus I had a plan for that too with some core materials to help me move that along.

Circus primeNow there are some that will say that staying with the circus seems like it would be a heck of a lot darker story path to follow. And in some cases that may actually be true. Admittedly the source material comes from darker worlds in the D&D histories. BUT darkness and horror depend greatly on the players and what they do.

Now why do I call this whole thing Pathfinder-ish?

Ok so if you dont know me directly, read some of the blog. If you think I am going to just leave rules alone, and not co-opt some stuff from other game engines and materials… oh you just dont know me at all.

Hope this little bit of info just catches your interest out there. Maybe gives folks a few ideas about blended settings, and even taking an adaptive path to the as printed material approach that was mentioned in a previous blog post and then discussed a little further in the comments.

Keep gaming, having fun and see what you can do to build wild worlds and stories.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many other old D&D settings I can drag into this ๐Ÿ™‚


Tales from the Game Table – Against the bosses

dm disaster mw kaluta

Ok so years and years ago I was running an AD&D campaign for a bunch of friends and the group had somewhat affectionately named themselves the Dragon Slayers… or they soon would, in any event.

So at this part of the story the group had been going through the Against the Slave Lords series.


Specifically, we were up in the module A3…

ASL A3_cover

Now then in this module the players are going to come up against the Slave Lords themselves. Or at least part of them. And the story is set up so that during that conflict the Slave Lords pull something out of their bag o tricks and the players are all supposed to get KOed. Wellllllll I made a few changes in the script. Like tossing out the original Slave Lords and putting in my own version based on the Western Zodiac. So I had more Slave Lords on hand than in the original module. But I also wanted to actually give the players a shot at taking down the bad guys before hitting them with the GM Fiat and moving things into the fourth module.

So as usual the players seem to have a mix of insane luck. Positive and negative. But they finally get into the final room and get ready to go against the Slave Lords.

ASL A3 Sewer_Map_LI

So in the area that I circled you will see in the bottom left corner of that room the symbol for a spiral staircase. And that is where this insane moment happens.

In my version of things the basement throne room of the slave lords connects directly to their throne room in the city above with a guard room in between. As such the spiral staircase is actually a bit wider and it is about one hundred and fifty feet from the bottom of the room to the top of the room where the staircase enters the guard room.

Ok so the players have crashed into the room and took the Slave Lords by surprise. Which is not supposed to happen. The fight breaks out. And at first the players luck has gone bad, but slowly the die rolls are favoring them more and more. However there is just too much power on the other side.

So the players start a tactical “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!” up the spiral staircase. Still fending off the Slave Lords from below. When the first couple get to the top and push open the door they see hundreds of guards in the room ahead and quickly go… “Hmmmm hundreds of mooks, or the elite that have been handing us our @$$es… mooks it is”

They call back to the players below them, and one of the players, near the top of the stairwell quickly assesses that if the Slave Lords and the Mooks get together, there is no chance at all.

So in a glorious moment of self sacrifice he decides to jump down the spiral staircase. Wanting to target the most on point person for the Slave Lords. The height difference is about seventy five to one hundred feet.

Ok so we have the following things that I decided had to happen…

  • The player needed to make a roll against his dexterity to see if he could throw himself with any accuracy.
    • Critical success
  • The player needed to roll a to hit roll to hit the target
    • Critical success
  • The player needed to roll an attack roll for the weapon he wanted to hit with while throwing himself at the Slave Lord
    • Critical Success
  • The player needed to roll for damage for both the fall (to himself and the Slave Lord), and for the weapon strike
    • Max Damage on both
  • The Slave Lord needed to make a saving throw vs spells to avoid taking full damage.
    • Critical Failure
  • The Slave Lord needed to make a saving throw vs Death due to the massive critical damage happening
    • Critical Failure

I know I know that is a lot of effort to put on the dice. It was a epic moment, the players were totally into it, and it really made a massive high point to an otherwise harsh game session.

And the player narrated the jump, the fall, the strike, and the pain and damage that he caused.

The Slave Lord was toooooooooooooooooootally destroyed by that hit. The player was knocked out, and the rest of the team was captured. But by the gods did they make a run for it. And with that bit of sacrifice it took everyone from being desperate to all of a sudden taking wild chances and trying for impossible things. And loving every minute of their defeat. It was a thing of beauty.

The players were all brought back per the script for the final module A4… but that is another story.

Now gimme the dice, I need to find a spiral staircase…


A Different take on combat styles

Ok so last week I posted about martial arts in games. And I have to admit that I have been thinking about it since.

So I threw together something that is partly based on the Martial Arts styles in AD&D to cobble together something that might work for overall combat styles in RPGs. To be totally honest, this is currently an untested mashup of a few ideas that may or may not work at all. But I thought it was kind of a cool idea so I figured I would share it with my readers while I see if I can figure out how to really make it work.

To get it up and running let me lay out for you how the table works. Every fighting style has a Core. This is what the character would rely on most in combat. Next comes a Drive. This is what a character would look to do with their fighting. Next would come their Focus. This is what a character puts most of their effort into learning when developing how they fight. Lastly comes a Secondary Focus. This is the “Well my main is not working so whats my backup plan?” part of their fighting style.

Each one of these comes with a potential for a bonus to Defense, Offense, Movement, and then either a bonus to unarmed damage or maybe weapon damage or a spell slot. Now then just for added explanation, any time you see ‘Per Spell’ that could be replace with ‘Per Psi Ability’ or ‘Per Super Power’ or any number of other things.

So here is the base table that I set up…


Core Defense Offense Movement Damage
Unarmed 1 1 5 2
Weapon 1 1 0 Per Weapon
Spell 2 0 5 Per Spell
Defensive 3 1 15 1
Offensive 1 3 5 3
Balanced 2 2 10 2
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Hand 2 2 10 2
Foot 1 3 5 3
Move 3 1 15 1
Lock/Hold 2 2 5 3
Throw/Push 3 1 10 2
Vital Area 2 2 5 3
Weapon 1 3 10 Weapon+2
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Internal 4 0 15 1
Hand 1 1 5 1
Foot 0 2 0 2
Move 2 0 10 0
Lock/Hold 1 1 0 2
Throw/Push 2 0 5 1
Vital Area 1 1 5 2
Weapon 0 2 5 Weapon+1
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Internal 3 .-1 10 0


Now then to show you how it would sort out with some of the classic Fantasy character types…

Fighter Defense Offense Movement Damage
Weapon 1 1 0 Per Weapon
Offensive 1 3 5 3
Weapon 1 3 10 Weapon+2
Weapon 0 2 5 Weapon+1
Totals 3 9 20 3
Rouge Defense Offense Movement Damage
Unarmed 1 1 5 2
Defensive 3 1 15 1
Move 3 1 15 1
Weapon 0 2 5 Weapon+1
Totals 7 5 40 4
Wizard Defense Offense Movement Damage
Spell 2 0 5 Per Spell
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Totals 4 0 25 0
Cleric Defense Offense Movement Damage
Weapon 1 1 0 Per Weapon
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Spell 1 0 10 Per Spell
Weapon 0 2 5 Weapon+1
Totals 3 3 25 0
Monk Defense Offense Movement Damage
Unarmed 1 1 5 2
Balanced 2 2 10 2
Hand 2 2 10 2
Internal 3 .-1 10 0
Totals 8 4 35 6

So this kind of breakout in my opinion is something that you could use to establish a lot of differences in how fighting would work. It is based on a point value structure that should make every combat style technically equal at the ground level. But also allow for customizing so you could build the archtype you wanted to see.

I would envision each of the areas coming with a skill or two as well that in a system like Pathfinder or many of the D&D variants. Additionally in a level based system you would have a choice at every level to add to defense, offense movement or damage but not to the degree that you would be taking a full secondary element again.

I dont really know. Maybe this is the start of a new game engine. Its been a while since I put one together. Maybe its an alt for D&D or Pathfinder. Not really sure where this is going to head, if anywhere.

Anyway I hope this raises some interesting ideas and questions for you all.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how many strange ideas I can have before Christmas… hmmm, may need more dice than that…

Keep gaming and keep having fun all ๐Ÿ™‚

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Tales from the Game Table – You dropped what?!

Been a while since I did one of these.

So for the last few months my wife and a friend of ours have been playing Shadowrun. I tweaked the timeline a little so that I could set up a few things for some in game shenanigans. Little did I expect though that the two of them would be successful in pulling off the stunts they did.

To be quite honest I had set up three occasions on which there could be a TPK in one night unless they were very lucky or chose to avoid the situation entirely. A dark luck was with them.

As many players of Shadowrun know, unless you are set up in advance big risk may not always equal big reward. And usually when you get the big reward someone is waiting to take it away from you. Well these two actually managed to not only get the big reward, but then built on it by selling things to interested parties. So yeah this is building up quite nicely to get a TPK just from their own actions… So what do they do to really escalate things …

They bought a tank.

Lets say that again… slowly.

They. Bought. A. Tank.

Then they bought a way to transport it.

Now then folks who play in my games know that I have a reward style that is usually along the lines of “Yeah you can get that… here let me make a few notes about everyone who would find out about that and want to mess you up for it…”

And then for giggles they had street kids paint it up with … with… seriously this is messed up… Hello Kitty… They covered a tank in images and the standard colors of Hello Kitty.

Oh it gets worse.

As they are not a corporate or military power, I had put a timeline into place that would mean they were getting raided and having all these toys taken away from them. I wanted to build up the drama. However they decided to leave the Seattle Metroplex. They were using a refitted… well the best way to call it out would be a zeppelin.

There are other story bits about them evading detection and using multiple flight plans and spoofing transponder codes, but eventually they get to their target. Chicago. In the timeline we are running Chicago is Bug City and its nasty inside the walls.

Do you see where this is going?

They para-drop the tank, and some supplies and fuel… into Chicago. They told me their flight plan and how they wanted to fake out the military watching over Chicago. They succeeded. The thing is, from their flight plan I had come up with a couple of places they could drop the tank. Then I let the dice handle it.

They made Chicago worse… Read things about Bug City, and the Universal Brotherhood in Shadowrun reviews and history sites. And you will see how hard that little statement is to fathom. They made… Chicago… worse…

Ok so I know what you may be thinking. That I could have put a GM Fiat in place at any time. I could have shut this down and taken away toys. I let it go and now I am paying the price.

To a certain degree, that is true. But I have a lot of fun racking all this sort of stuff up and then springing something epic out that will give them a run and they can feel it is all worth the build up even if it does kill everyone.

Ok so gimme the dice… I need to roll up some consequences….

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