D&D 30 Day Challenge, Days 11 – 15

Favorite Adventure You Have Run

– Punjar Adventure Path (Dungeon Crawl Classics Published Adventures)

Consisting of three separate published adventures: Sellswords of Punjar, Scions of Punjar, and Thrones of Punjar; the Punjar Adventure Path is set entirely within the city of Punjar and takes characters from creation to 11th level.

For those who do not really know about Goodman Games DCC line of modules, they’re good. Before the Fourthcore movement, DCC offered one of the best ‘old school’ dungeon crawl feels for 4e rules. They also publish adventure modules for 3.x and 1e if those are your systems. Goodman Games also published their own DCC rules system. I own the core rulebook but have not had an opportunity to play it as of yet. It does a good job of melding the primitive and visceral feel of OSR with the benefit of modern mechanics. It also has a wonderfully novel approach to character creation.

Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

Urban. Slums, back alleys, warrens, catacombs, and sewers. There are all sorts of places to go, things to do, and people to meet.

Part of why I like urban adventures is the suspension of disbelief problem I have with the typical ‘dungeon’. Cave complexes and abandoned fortresses just did not happen. Unless really well hidden it’s doubtful a bunch of low level characters were the first to find a bevy of riches and artifacts unpillaged. I always remember a tidbit I read about why there are not a lot of castle ruins around. Any castle attacked was either repaired and occupied or was too utterly destroyed to be strategically beneficial so they would build a new castle right on top of it.

But cities build on top of themselves routinely and build downwards. They seem the most reasonable adventure spots to me.

Favorite Trap/Puzzle

Harassers. While not a specific type of trap, my favorite traps are the sort that stick around for a while. Pit traps are great and useful but they’re very much a Gotcha! mechanism. One person either falls in and takes a good punch of damage or it’s avoided. My preference is for things like magic crossbows perched out of melee range. They do less one-time damage but coupled with some other reason for players to stay in an exposed spot (such as a low-level combat filled with high HP, damage spongy, brutes) giving the traps plenty of opportunities to do damage.

As for puzzles the odd riddle is useful, even a game of chance can be useful. For pure puzzles something like grid puzzles are best as there aren’t any tricks, just time, patience, and some scrap paper is all that is needed. Time grid puzzles to give the PCs a sense of urgency. Another fun idea is to not let them write down anything if the party does not have chalk or some other way to write down the puzzle to solve it.

Favorite NPC

None I guess. I tried to think of one but came up with nothing. I have never transposed an NPC from one campaign to another or anything like that. I do like NPCs with definitive goals, even more when they do not completely overlay the path of the PCs.

Favorite Monster (Undead)

-BBEG Lich

Iconic spellcasters and powerful wizards who could not be tamed, even by death itself. Often they’re absolutely mad, or at least tortured souls. Powerful enough a foe to destroy adventuring parties with a wave of a hand they can also be useful and intriguing NPCs. Take away the strangey common ‘give me what I want or I’ll beat in your face’ approach to NPCs by some parties and some good wheeling and dealing can be had between the party and lich. Perhaps not the most common use for a BBEG, but it can be effective and even reminiscent of Vulgrim from THQ’s Darksiders.

-Minion Skeletons

Probably because I watched Jason and the Argonauts too often as a kid. Ever since seeing Harryhausen’s skeletons rise from the teeth of the Hydra I’ve been enamored with them. Simple, cheap, mindlessly loyal, and they can’t be poisoned or killed with arrows. You can’t ask much more from bottom-of-the-barrel henchmen.

D&D 30 Day Challenge, Days 6 – 10

Favorite Deity

D&D – Moradin (Dwarves), Erathis (Others)

Pathfinder – Cayden Cailean

13th Age Icons

To be fair I don’t really have a favorite deity though I do have tendencies. Moradin and Erathis provide easy ways to get into adventuring situations. The same is true for Cayden Cailean, the bonus for the latter being you don’t have to be in any way formal or refined to be a paragon of faith.

I find the idea of 13th Age’s Icons a much better idea for general RPG gameplay than what god a PC worships. They are actual people you can meet without divine intervention (though plenty of footwork). They have agendas and a tangible affect on the game world without that feeling of the gods looking down on you from Mount Olympus because they’re bored.

Favorite Edition

Fourth Edition, up to the release of Divine Power. Originally 4e played quickly, was fun and easy to run. It accomplished all the things it wanted to be, as in not Edition 3.75 and handily slimming down the rules to get new people into the hobby. Other than significant design problems with the Paladin class I recall most things functioning well. The Divine Power book began the slippery slope of ignoring core design of 4e, primarily Surge based healing.

Fourth Edition for all the flak it catches helped to bring an entirely new audience of gamers to the table. People who avoided things like 3.x because of the convoluted rules and heavy crunch mechanics. It was a different system and appealed to an audience whose primary gaming background is video games. It brought a lot of new blood to the hobby and it’s a blast to play. I consider it one, if not THE one, best ways to get new people into table top RPGs and definitely as an introduction to d20 systems.

Though despite my healthy skepticism D&D Next is looking to be a really fun system.

Favorite Character You’ve Played

I have a number of memorable characters though my favorite is probably Bithinor, Dwarf Cleric of Moradin. A hill dwarf bedridden through a significant part of his developmental age due to serious illness. He is short and weak, but spent a lot of time in bed reading and finding religion. Eventually he overcame the disease and took the cloth.

Bithinor became a powerful spellcaster and became a demon hunter to rid his native Impiltur (Faerun) of the demonic presence of its lands. He was a fun PC with a pretty concise motivation.

Favorite Character You Haven’t Played 

None? I try not to make a habit of rolling up PCs I’ll never play. I tend to have a very intertwined character creation process where I come up with the fluff bits naturally as I sort through the mechanical crunch of building the PC.

Craziest thing that’s happened that you saw (to party/character/your players etc)

Really any time an unexpected Natural 20 happens, amounting to a humorous situation of luck; plate armor paladin stealth, psion making an MLB hook slide through enemies and cutting the moorings of a rope ladder laden with baddies, fail a Diplomacy check and having an orc chieftain surprise round crit you in the face with an axe leaving you a mangled mess on the ground. I’ve also had a giant zombie fail an Intelligence check and swan dive off a cliff face to crush the PCs at the bottom.

But the oddest series of events belongs to a game I was running in my homebrew setting of King’s X. As I’ve noted prior on the blog I like to start play in a new campaign by running a re-skinned published adventure. Mainly it gives me a few more weeks to develop the next adventure while letting me get a feel for the PCs and not having to worry about the current adventure. Well I began the campaign by running Goodman Games ‘Sellswords of Punjar’, an adventure from their Dungeon Crawl Classics line. It’s a 4e, urban adventure where the adventurers attempt to deal with the Beggar King, leader of the city’s indigent and destitute. For ‘reasons’ (read: horrific player fails) they end up going through the dungeon backwards. So they enter a secret cove and find a cage held aloft by a chain and pulley system and above it a trapdoor.

The elf ranger decides to shimmy up the chain and check out the trapdoor. No biggy, the rest are snooping around the smuggler cave/cove. He opens the trapdoor and peeks in to find a table with a figure draped in a heavy cloak seated in a chair facing the other way. It seems like it’s the BBEG’s office. Ranger sneaks up into the room and approaches the figure from behind and decides to take his surprise round and slam the BBEG’s head against the table.

…Most people assume I made this part up but it is black-and-white printed into the adventure…

“You hear a sickening crunch and blood dapples the table. The cloak falls back to reveal the face of a very unconscious, bound young girl with a broken nose.” I a face palm moment the ranger without a hint of humor states he wants to tie her up. All right fine, the unconscious child does not resist you binding her MORE.

After that things go downhill quickly. The rest of the party has stirred up a combat between bouts of the laughter at the ranger’s ordeal. A drow assassin attacks the ranger in the office. The assassin was supposed to die about 3 fights back but always escaped and had been harrying and harassing the party since. The ranger has sworn an oath to kill him. They fight, the ranger decides he needs to regroup with the rest of the party and tosses the bound, unconscious girl through the trapdoor down into deep water of the hidden cove… where she will drown. He follows quickly and becomes a pincushion for the assassin as he drags the unconscious girl to shore.

The party survived by the skin of their teeth (as was the usual case). Later they were killed in a fight with bats, a witch, and her eunuchs in one of the compound’s inner courtyards. Two PCs (of seven I think) escaped and decided it was not worth going back and it was time to skip town before they were murdered as well.