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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

All discussions regarding Board, Card, and RPG Gaming, including industry discussion, that don't belong in one of the other gaming forums.

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Zarathud
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:35 am

This weekend I'm going to encourage my daughters to roll up characters for Pandelver, which I'll use as an introduction to Tyranny of Dragons. My oldest wants to play a Dragonborn to meet, fight and befriend dragons. Because what good is a Dungeon without a Dragon? :)

At GenCon, I picked up StatTrackers, basically bookmarks that hang over the DM screen with Monster Manual creature stats. Well, at least most of them. Apparently the D&D OGL prevented certain trademarked creatures from being included. That's also disappointing as it's not certain monsters from the expansion books (Volos, etc) can be included in a future set.

GenCon also had a decent deal on dry erase Dungeon Tiles from Roll4Initiative so I picked up a set of earth and greystone. This will allow me to slowly reveal the map while they're adventuring, and drawing map segments before putting tiles in front of everyone should be easier on my back than leaning over the table.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:03 am

I have a couple of sets of those. They work great. Another thing that works well for certain dungons is to use a map and overhead projector transparencies. Just lay the transparencies out on a grid, draw on them with wet (not dry) erase, then pick them back up. During the game you can lay them down as you need to. It has the advantage that you can overlap them to work in different sized rooms.

A friend picked up a set of the stat trackers there. I didn't see them until afterwards, but really like them. Or at least I would if I still used a screen. These days I use a mini-screen just big enough to hide miniatures behind. I like my body and face not being hidden when I'm GMing. There's nothing blocking the players' view of me, or vice-versa. For rolling, I use giant sized dice in a clear acrylic dice tray so that everyone can see. My actual 'screen' is my laptop off to the side, where I keep my notes (I use OneNote for everything), pdfs of rulebooks, and 5eTools for quick reference.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:14 am

I got a set of the Stat Trackers and they’re great. And they give you enough blank ones you can fill in gaps if needed.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:54 pm

Man, dilemmas!

Looks like I'll be running again in a month or two, as my main group's GM is wanting a break. That gives me plenty of time to prep, but prep what? I have two games that I'd really like to put on the table, but I can't for the life of me decide which one to try.

Torg Eternity
Pros:
~Quick to prep,
~Quick to play
~Huge variety of gameplay due to multiple settings mixed together (regions of pulp action, regions of cyberpunk, regions of fantasy, regions of horror, all within a single setting.)

Cons:
~Very little existing content, none of it reviewed to help me decide what to use, which means increased prep time to create a campaign from scratch
~What old content there is would require significant conversion, as everything about the game has changed since its first version in the early 90s.

Neutral:
~Theater of the mind (a pro because it seriously reduces prep and speeds up play, a con because I like toys.)

Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Pros:
~Piles of accessories and tie in materials (board games, PC games, novels.)
~I like the campaign world
~Tons of existing content with hundreds of reviews and piles of third party extras

Cons:
~More complex system, meaning slower play and more prep
~Much of the existing content would require some conversion from 1st edition

Neutral:
~Miniatures used (a con because it increases prep and slows down play, a pro because I like toys.)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:06 pm

Well, we wrapped up our D&D campaign yesterday afternoon. After years and years of GMing, it was nice to be a player for more than two sequential sessions. Now it's my turn again. For our next get-together I'll be running Torg Eternity. I've been considering running Torg again for years using the original 90s rules. It was one of my favorite games back then (and West End Games had a real knack for RPG design.) When Eternity came out a few years ago, updating the rules, it shot to the top of my list.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Paingod » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:20 pm

A little recent randomness - in my last Starfinder session, my character only survived because his drone scored a critical hit on a creature that WAY outclassed us and gave the GM a reason to turn around and smear it. Nothing but a natural 20 could have done it, and it was one of those "So perfectly timed, everyone cheered" moments. It bought me the one round I needed to get away and seal a door behind us.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by AWS260 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:24 am

Over the weekend, my son discovered the excellent mobile game 80 Days, based on Around the World in 80 Days.

On Monday night, he invented a pen-and-paper version and GMed me through a game. It was delightful. He drew the map, added routes throughout the game as I learned them from talking to locals. We recorded inventory on another sheet of paper, used dice to track stamina, and the calculator app on my phone to track my funds.

Here's the map at the end of the game, with my route highlighted.

Image

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:15 am

AWS260 wrote:Over the weekend, my son discovered the excellent mobile game 80 Days, based on Around the World in 80 Days.

On Monday night, he invented a pen-and-paper version and GMed me through a game. It was delightful. He drew the map, added routes throughout the game as I learned them from talking to locals. We recorded inventory on another sheet of paper, used dice to track stamina, and the calculator app on my phone to track my funds.

Here's the map at the end of the game, with my route highlighted.

Image
That’s really cool.
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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:51 pm

My daughters and their friends crushed the first encounter of Phandelver. They also revealed themselves to be Murder Hoboes.

When we reveal the dead horse (and the horror that I used a unicorn mini for the body), my youngest decides to dash for the woods to “find a cat to speak with” as her Tabaxi catfolk thinks the idea of talking to cats is the coolest thing in the world. She walks right into the bad guys but has a crazy high passive perception. No one is surprised except for the slow mages. Before the bad guys even act, two players score kills. After the next round, the wizard and sorcerer take turns to light the last retreating baddie on fire, then put out the fire with frost. Because starting a forest fire would be unforgivable. Then they cut off the guy’s head “just to be sure.”

Apparently the goal was talking to a cat or a corpse, no other options. Except deciding whether to tell the rest of the party about their various insights from skill checks. Much discussion about being a team. Then it was time to loot the bodies and strip them of pants. Not the expected team building exercise....

After a long discussion of what to do with their cart and horse (and again debating over splitting the party), the most important decision came down to naming the horse — Lunch — and using the now pants-less bodies as scarecrows. I suppose it works on everyone but hepcat.

Next session will feature breaking and entering. But they’re hooked at 10-12, I think. :)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:49 am

My latest homemade accessory:

I'm running a game or Torg now. Torg uses a card system for combat initiative, including various bonuses/penalties. The same cards are used from dramatic skill resolution (IE - disarming a bomb, chases, etc.) The problem I discovered in my first session two weeks ago is that the cards are too small for anyone to read, leading to frequent pauses to ask what's on the card.

For Sunday's game I designed a rig out of foamcore. it holds the deck, has a discard area, and has a 'stand' that holds one card upright. It also holds my old webcam. When you put a card on the stand, it is in front of the webcam and is displayed, giant-sized, on the TV screen where everybody can read it.

I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:08 pm

The kids had negotiated with the bad guys to kill the boss and save the human hostage. After killing the boss, they decided to let the surviving bad guys flee down the garbage chute same they spent a lot of time figuring out how to climb...failing 3 climbing rolls with 3, 1, and 5. Because they wanted to take a long rest to get ready for the final negotiation.

Not surprisingly, that didn't turn out well. A scout sent to check what happened found the characters sleeping, then warned them to leave or the hostage would die. Fearful for the hostage's life, the adventurers rushed to the negotiation but didn't have much beyond a jade frog statute for leverage. Apparently, they thought jade was super precious so the bluff failed -- especially after deciding to demand that the goblins throw in "one of their dogs with the hostage." My youngest decided that the negotiations needed to end, so she shot the new leader of the bad guys. And then rolled enough damage to severely injure, but not drop the new leader -- assuming I have the sneak attack rule right.

Does a bound captive held by the new leader permit a sneak attack to trigger? At 1 hp, he's not incapacitated. But he's helpless.

If I'm wrong, the players get a chance to roll the sneak attack damage and a 6 would drop the leader in one shot.

If I'm right, the players get to fight 11 goblins and 3 wolves at the same time. The mages and cleric are out of spells, but the dragonborn still has a breath weapon in tight quarters. It's going to get hairy.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. - Nixon
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:59 pm

Zarathud wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:08 pm


Does a bound captive held by the new leader permit a sneak attack to trigger? At 1 hp, he's not incapacitated. But he's helpless.
Do you mean does it count to allow sneak attack on the boss? No. It has to be an 'enemy.' That's a combat enemy, not a social enemy. A helpless target is not a combat enemy.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:04 pm

Zarathud wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:08 pm


If I'm right, the players get to fight 11 goblins and 3 wolves at the same time. The mages and cleric are out of spells, but the dragonborn still has a breath weapon in tight quarters. It's going to get hairy.
At that point in that cave, they're probably still 1st, maybe 2nd. That isn't hairy, that's execution. Strongly hint that they retreat. It it is inexperienced players on their first game, don't hint. Tell.

/edit - I did a check. That is classified as a 'Deadly' encounter all the way up to 12 1st level characters.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:37 pm

I'm tempted to just rule that the shot receives the sneak attack let them roll the damage, then have the bad guys stand down after their leader dies. It would be a hell of a way to start the new session.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. - Nixon
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Sun Nov 17, 2019 7:21 pm

I could also choose to hand out XP for the last session, anime-style. The adventurers have completed enough of the dungeon over 2 sessions to be level 2. That would give the mages burning hands and sleep for crowd control, and the cleric a heal. The thief and fighter are lucky enough to regularly 1-shot opponents. That could swing things pretty quick. I'm pretty sure the players will throw their lunch or cast a cantrip illusion at the "doggies" because they want to tame them.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. - Nixon
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867

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