Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Darkness Dims The Horizon...

You can't push good tabletop (or PbP) game humor. Sometimes you just have to patiently sit and wait.

If anything, the Grue is patient. One learns these parentally-taught lessons ("Tasty humans come to grue who wait," and "An adventurer in the claw is worth two in the light" are some of my favorites) at an early age. And so he sits. And waits.

After some time (who knows how long - the Grue's watch does not have Indiglo, for obvious reasons), a darkness dims the horizon as the Grue joins what, at first, appears to be just another PbP game shortly before the holiday season (a lonely time for many a grue, working their dungeons all alone with the adventurers off visiting their families and sharing what little plunder they've been able to sneak past the guardian's long-reaching grasp).

Maybe, just maybe, a new adventure has surfaced to provide you with some entertainment of a slightly different flavor. Here is a taste...

***** Blergh's 2E D&D Game *****

DM: All of you awaken to find yourselves lying on the western bank of a wide river, hands bound tightly in front of you. About 30 yards away, you spy an old row boat pulled up on the shore. Off to the west, high chalky cliffs rise up above you.

Stomper the Ranger: As I make my way over to the row boat to search it for anything useful, I'll scan the ground for any flint-like rocks large enough to break and create an edge sharp enough to help cut someone out of their bonds.

DM: Roll a Survival check please.

Stomper: [rolls] Umm... dang. Heck of a time to roll a 20.

DM: You don't find anything. Do you want to keep looking?

Stomper: It's either that or I try to gnaw the ropes off, so I guess I'll keep looking. [rolls] Ok, this time I got a 10.

DM: After 10 minutes, you finally find a suitable rock and fracture it to create a sharp edge. Whose bonds do you want to use it on?

Stomper: [since he doesn't know any of the other people in the party yet] I randomly select Player 1's character.

DM: Ok, please roll for an attack and damage.

Stomper: Oh, crap, who are we fighting?? Wait... you mean to cut the ropes with a suitably-sharp rock?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unfamiliar Territory...

(Our hapless adventurer, Bramble, the dwarven ranger, suddenly finds himself in the midst of unfamiliar territory - a 3.5e campaign...)

GM: ... and on three of the tables you find, in various stages of completion, quite a few gemstones. Some of them are finished, some are partially cut, and some are still rough.

Bramble: I go around to the tables and pick up all of the gemstones and put them in my belt pouch.

GM: Ok... please roll a search skill check.

Bramble: No, I'm not searching the tables or anything; I'm just picking up the gemstones.

GM: Yeah, but you have to roll a search skill check.

Bramble: But... aw, alright. [rolls dice] I got a 12.

GM: You find three gemstones.

Bramble: What?? You said there were 'quite a few'! Never mind. I walk over to the other door in the room and open it.

GM: Ok... Please roll a walking skill check.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Example of Reality (Part One)

Sometimes the lines of reality and fantasy blur a bit in the Grue's world (might be the Oxycodone...). Anyone who works in the IT industry, and has living parents, surely feels my pain here (not my back pain - the reason for the Oxycodone - I mean my emotional/mental/spiritual duress).

(And yes, I know this is a break from the traditional RPG Example of Play, but I did at least work in some dice rolling!)

[e-mail conversation between the Grue and the Grue's mom]

Grue's Mom: How do I cut this to a different size, forward it to my own Gruebook to use as ID picture (since I don't have one)?

Grue: Cut what to size? Use your words, Grue Mom. Are you talking about a picture you have up on your monitor that I can't see?

Grue's Mom: And then how do I move it to someone else's email or my email? Do you have any other half-decent pics of me? ie ones I would approve of--where I don't look 100 and fat.

Grue: Move it to som...? What? You mean how do you e-mail the picture to someone else? Thanks for answering my previous questions, by the way. Do you even read my responses?

The best way involves basic photo editing software, but you also need to have a general understanding of said basic photo editing software. If you send me a picture, I can crop it for you and send it back. After you've saved it to your C: drive, you can Edit your GB profile and Change your profile picture. It will ask you to browse to the picture you want to use. Just save it straight onto your C: drive so it will be easy to find.

As an aside, I don't have any good pictures of you. You are a Grue. As a general rule, we don't photograph very well.

Grue's Mom: Do I have a profile? Do you mean in Gruebook?

Grue: YES I MEAN IN GRUEBOOK! You asked me to help you update your Gruebook profile picture, then you question whether or not you have a profile on Gruebook?

(Do we need to continue the conversation about how I think a Gruebook account is a BAD idea for you?)

You know what, I can't handle this today. There is only a 5% chance I'm going to continue this e-mail conversation.


Ooohhh... 78%. That's too bad. Sorry, Grue Mom, this conversation is over.

Grue's Mom: Remember, edit the picture so I look young and thin--much as I can.

Grue's Mom: ... so are you going to help me?

Grue: I'll help you this weekend when I see you in person, Grue Mom. You are cut off from e-mail support.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!

Who doesn't love rules? If anything, they make for good table top discussion topics, right? (This one was already in the works, but we'll dedicate it to you, Jedediah.)

DM: ... so now that you have a new level, Bore'me, go ahead and roll 2D6 for your new hit point total.

Bore'me: [rolls] Ah, sweet! A 6 and a 4! That is much better than the 1 HP I had at first level!

Gimlet: Wait, hold on. What's that?

DM: What is what?

Gimlet: Bore'me rolling his first level hit points over in addition to rolling his second level hit points.

DM: We're playing OD&D Rules and that is one of the rules. You re-roll all hit dice upon attaining a new level.

Gimlet: That's a stupid rule.

Groin: Stupid or not, it is an OD&D rule and we're playing an OD&D game.

Gimlet: Not only is it stupid, it is an unfair and unrealistic method and I request it be reconsidered. Blah blah blah...

[Insert three days worth of forum posts on Hit Point Rule Discussion.]

Gimlet: Blah blah blah... as you can tell, I'm incredibly passionate about this topic.

Eggoless: I too think it is ridiculous, but the rules are what they are, however much you, or I disagree with it. When I am a DM, I never followed that rule for the very reasons you've stated. It just doesn't make sense.

DM: Ok, let's end this discussion and move on. At least 50% of the reason for running this campaign under OD&D rules is experimentation. If Gimlet and Eggoless want to, I'm perfectly willing to use the two of them as the control case for not re-rolling hit points. If you both say yes, then from this point forward, your characters will both use the more commonly accepted method for rolling hit points where you only roll one hit die when you level and add it to your previous total.

If you roll an 8, then you get 8 more hit points at second level. If you roll a 1, then you get 1 more hit point at second level. The rest of the party will maintain the original OD&D hit point rule and we can see how it plays out.

Eggoless: ...

Gimlet: ...

Eggoless: I personally don't care, either way, but I will continue to go with the originally stated rules and re-roll all Hit Dice at leveling. (This decision isn't at all because my current hit point total sucks.)

Gimlet: Yeah, I'll stay with the rules as they exist.

DM: Er... so after all that, you just want to use the same rules as everyone else? Ok, then... I guess that issue is resolved. Let's get back to the campaign.

Gimlet: So just to make sure I understand this... when I reach level 10, I'll roll 10D8 for hit points?

DM: No. You'll never reach level 10.

Gimlet: Why not?

Groin: Because you're a dwarf and dwarves never progress above level 6. It's in the rules.

Gimlet: What?? Not only is that a stupid rule, it is unfair and unrealistic and I request it be reconsidered. Blah blah blah...

DM and most of the rest of the party: ...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Play-By-Post Challenges, Part Two

The Thinker... Effective communication is an important skill to have. Effective USE of your communication skills is even MORE important! In a Play-by-Post game, if your character knows or hears something, you shouldn't assume everyone else knows and hears the same thing; you need to communicate that information to the rest of the group. If only you can read the warning sign scrawled on a door in goblinese, you'd better tell everyone else in the party before someone opens the door! And, no matter how well you write it, you can't assume everyone else will pick up on the facial expressions you describe.

[The party was introduced to a new player in an unusual manner... Groin pulled a jeweled dagger from the ribcage of a skeleton and everyone watched in awe as it slowly re-formed muscle, sinew, and flesh back into a living person, Tantrum Half-Wit. It seems, however, that his tongue did not fully form...]
Groin: "... and I'm Groin Ballsmasher. Your acquaintance is well-met!"

Tantrum: As Groin speaks, Tantrum Half-Wit stares at him in a manner that suggests he is questioning his value as a person, or at the very least attempting to determine if he is lying or not. Finally, he says, "Very well. I am Tantrum, of..." the half-elf trails off, his eyebrows furrowing and his eyes squinting. A couple of seconds later, he seems to shrug whatever it was off.

Groin: "Right... er... well, if you're going to journey with us, you'd best be armed!" Groin gives Tantrum the short sword, bow, and quiver of arrows they pulled off the dead goblin. Groin then resumes his examination of the door, looking for traps.

Tantrum: Tantrum Half-Wit watches Groin's antics as if astonished by a perceived recklessness. However, the half-elf says nothing, simply hefting his new- and quite horribly made- weapons and angling them towards the door.

[Opening the aforementioned door produces a raging tide of rats the party must fight!]
Tantrum: As the tentatively titled 'battle' begins, Tantrum Half-Wit slightly lowers his newly acquired bow and, while still maintaining a ready stance, eyes the scene before him with a sort of incredulous look. Nevertheless, while the rats may be enough to keep the others occupied, he will make sure to keep an eye out on the halfling that brought them into the room. After all, behind every distraction lies the true threat.

Dodo: "I hope dem ratsies don't overruns us, Meester Groin! Shouldsa we retrit?"

Tantrum: Tantrum Half-Wit scrunches an eyebrow in something akin to disbelief at the mention of retreat. He then nods and turns his gaze back to the newcomer. "There seems to be little to retreat from. Nevertheless, I must agree that stepping back and approaching the situation with more grace is certainly a good path to take."

[Dodo drinks from the magical fountain that was in the room the rats inhabited. The ensuing uncontrollable laughter doesn't quite drown out the moaning the party can hear coming from an unopened door...]
Tantrum: Tantrum begins to seriously question accompanying anyone who would drink out of a random underground fountain without the need to do so. Tantrum seems unaffected by the moan. Indeed, it seems to trigger a tickling in the back of his mind... like a memory eager to surface. Tantrum, driven by the curiosity to discover more of himself, moves closer to the door, standing about 8 feet away from it, focusing himself to see if he can hear anything else from behind the door with his sensitive half-elven hearing.

[Two zombies burst into the fountain room and the party hacks them to pieces. Groin spies an interesting brass buckle on one of the zombies, cuts it free, and tosses it to Tantrum to see if he recognizes it.]
Tantrum: Tantrum casually raises his left arm as if beginning a wave, and catches the buckle upon his palm. Tantrum glances at the amulet, only to feel a flush come upon him. For a moment, Tantrum was certain memory was coming back to him. Nothing more happened, however. Tantrum bit the inside of his lip, his only expression of his frustration. Coolly, Tantrum turned back to Groin, holding the buckle out. "It means nothing to me."

DM: Upon further examination of the door at the end of the hallway, Bore'me spots a silver arrowhead imbedded in it.

Bore'me: I pull out the arrowhead and examine it.

Tantrum: Tantrum notices the glint of a silver arrowhead. Tantrum watches it spin around in Bore'me's hands. Then, the whirling of silver fills Tantrum's sight, and his vision blurs.

Arrows fill the air. A hand- smooth, thin definitely elven- hands him a silver arrow. Without thought or hesitation Tantrum nocks it and turns to face the...

With a painful pulse the recollection ends, leaving Tantrum unsteady on his feet. Looking around, Tantrum is glad that the others in front of him are still intent on the doorway and haven't noticed the event. Feeling a prickling on his neck, Tantrum tilts his head to look behind him. Raisin returns his gaze with what seems to be concern. Tantrum gives the slightest of grimaces and then turns back to face the door.

Groin: "Right... er... well, I say we head back the way we came. There doesn't appear to be anything but undead in this direction and we're supposed to be hunting goblins. We shouldn't get distracted from our goal!"

Tantrum: Tantrum Half-Wit rubs his cheek in absent contemplation, then follows the others. At Groin's declaration to return the way they had come, Tantrum gives a slight frown. As he had returned from the dead, it stands to reason that death holds the answer to his questions.

Groin: ... Groin looks at Tantrum and says, "You don't say much, do you?"

Tantrum: Tantrum Half-wit wonders to himself how he ever got mixed up with these bumbling low-class fools in the first place.

Groin: Groin wonders to himself why he ever pulled that accursed jeweled dagger out from between the damned skeleton's ribs in the first place... and then seriously considers putting it back.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dealing With META Gamers...

While Angora and the two dwarves, Gimlet and Groin, battle slavers on a barge in the harbour, Eggolas and Bore'me wait for a contact in a pub on the other side of town. Since the DM is trying to follow a standard time scale for the adventure, their storyline cannot advance until after the combat is over. They've been there a while now, and Eggolas is starting to get bored.

[On a barge in the harbour...]
DM: We'll start round three just as soon as Gimlet posts his next action.
Groin: Ah, one more good hit and that slaver should be toast! Come on, Gimlet! Of course, that still leaves five more thugs to deal with...

[In a pub on the other side of town...]
DM: Meanwhile, back at the pub, Eggoless and Bore'me are still waiting for their contact. He appears to be running late.
Eggoless: Gosh, I wonder how our companions are doing. I hope they didn't get into any trouble! Maybe we should go look for them?
Bore'me: Ummm... let's just wait for our contact to arrive.
Eggoless: Yeah, alright. So... I understand you're opposed to slave trading! How did that come about?
Bore'me: What? Oh, I guess I am. It's something my religion is diametrically opposed to, anyway.
Eggoless: I bet there is a slave-trading business here in town. We should go try to break it up.
DM: Eggoless, just to be clear, you don't know anything about what is going on with Angora, Gimlet, and Groin. As far as you know, they're meeting with a silk trader to try and get some information about the spy.
Eggoless: No, I know. I was just role-playing!
DM: Ok, then. Just making sure. Please tread this path carefully.
Eggoless: So, Bore'me, we should go check out the docks and see if there is any slave-trading activity going on! Your gods would appreciate the gesture! What do you say?
DM: You shouldn't do that. There are other gods who get upset when you interfere with things that don't concern you.
Eggoless: Eggoless gets up from the table, asks the bartender where the docks are, and then leaves the pub and heads in that direction.
Bore'me: Bore'me stays in his chair and waits for the contact to arrive.
DM: *sigh* Eggoless, you get fairly clear directions from the bartender as to where the docks are. It will take you at least 30 minutes to get there from the pub. Are you sure you want to follow this path?
Eggoless: Yep! I'm going to try and find the rest of the party to see if they need any help and try to break up any slave-trading rings I come across in the process.

[On the cobbled streets, just outside the pub...]
DM: Eggoless, as you step outside, you notice the clouds darken overhead and a high-pitched whistling noise assaults your sensitive elven hearing. You make it 10 yards down the street before a fiery rain of fist-sized meteors starts crashing into the cobblestones around you. You could probably still make it back into the pub at this point. What do you do?
Eggoless: I'll continue to the docks.
DM: So be it... Please make a saving throw vs. death.
Eggoless: [rolls] Ummm... I got a 1.
DM: Upon taking your next step towards the docks, a meteor the size of a hamhock strikes you in the right shoulder, tearing through your collarbone and down the right side of your body, completely severing your arm and removing most of your right leg. The heat of the meteor cauterizes the wounds, so you are still conscious as you collapse to the ground. Before you pass out, you get a glimpse of the meteor, half-buried in the street next to you. Your eyes focus on it and you can make out the following four characters carved into the rock in elven - M E T A. As you ponder the meaning of the letters, your world goes black.

[Meanwhile, down at the docks...]
Gimlet: I'll hit the slaver with my axe.
Angora: You hit it with your axe?

Friday, January 28, 2011

"I leave the party"

In the Dark Depths of the Dungeon...
DM: .. your own weight in copper pennies, a bright red gem so small I'm surprised it didn't leave the chest via osmosis, and.. a dagger. A dagger for which I've gone to the trouble of searching the internet for 78 minutes to find just the perfect picture, then had to fight 14 rounds of psionic combat with my printer to produce this stunning home-brew play-aid. Laminated to prevent wear.
Gimlet: I wonder if it's special?
DM: ...
Gimlet: I could carry it around.. to.. you know.. try it out. ;)
Angora: Does anybody use daggers?
Gimlet: I can use daggers. ;) ;)
Angora: Does anybody mainly use just daggers.. as their main weapon?
Crickets: Chirp.
Gimlet: I can use daggers ;) ;) ;)
- they give Gimlet the dagger -

DM: The orc rejects your reality, and desires to substitute his own! "Gary did not send you! I know it!"
Gimlet: I hit it with my axe!
DM: ...
Angora: You hit it with your axe?
Gimlet: I hit it with my axe!!!

Much Later...
DM: The lich floats toward you, lightning crackling about him! "..and now, you die."
Gimlet: I hit it with my axe!
DM: ...
Angora: ...
Crickets: ...

Back at the Safety of The Inn...
Gimlet: I try to cut things with the dagger. Like bread.
DM: It cuts the bread.
Gimlet: I look for a rope, and cut it. With the dagger!
DM: The rope parts in the manner of room-temperature margarine.
Gimlet: Yes!!
Eggoless: I studied a magic detection spell. I could cast it and examine that dagger..?
All: Please.
- Eggoless weaves his uncanny faerie wizardry, and directs his elven sight to the blade in Gimlet's grasp -
DM: The dagger is magical.
Gimlet: I'm having trouble making it to game night guys. Gimlet gets up from the table, downs the last of his ale, bids you all farewell, walks out of the inn, walks down to the docks, gets on a ship that's ready to set sail, sails down 100 miles of river, gets on a bigger ship, sails out into the ocean for 3 months, lands on another continent, travels inland across a jungle, walks for two weeks across a desert, and arrives at his home town.
All, plus crickets, and innocent bystanders: ...

Much, Much Later...
Eggoless: Hey, where's that dagger we found?