We started up immediately where we left off with  Dupond ( +Matt Sutton ) character recalling that a military doctor has been experimenting with electroshock therapy to cure diseases. This Captain Watts is actually here at the facility.

He takes this in stride and approaches Dr. Hampton ( +Douglas Cole ) about the statement from Dupond’s countryman that he knows of someone who can cure his wounded eyes. This, of course, being unknown to modern medicine, at least piques his curiosity, and Hampton agrees to accompany Dupond.

Additionally, Dupond looks at the scroll he found, showing it to Dr. Addams, the linguist. The arabic notation refers to the Pharaoh of 1,000 Ravens (Oh. Great.) and looks to be some sort of incantation that is 800 to 1,000 years old. (Ditto.). Dupond is fascinated. “We should try this. Since I was struck on the head, everything is clear. This has been put in our path for a reason!”

Addams: “Yes, but this is incomplete. With more research we could discover more.”

Dupond determines that the scoll has been here for fewer than 50 years, and hypothesizes that a partially-complete incantation might have been responsible for the ravens.

Addams recalls (spending an Occult point) stories of a leader who established a 15 year Reign of Terror during that period, but such legends are disbelieved. The Egyptology experts dismiss this theory, but The Pharaoh, in certain circles, were rumored to be half-man, half-raven. Every 75-100 years, references seem to crop up, and then disappear again.

Dupond notes that perhaps the ritual can cure Addams’ leg. Addams is skeptical, and speculates (correctly!) that the medical staff isn’t going to let him wander around until his leg is properly cast up.

***

Though Dr. Hampton has gotten to know a few of the patients in a short time, his journey across war-torn Europe, complete with being shelled, has rendered him ready to collapse with fatigue. He does so. The next morning, he begins his rounds, surprised at the fairly unsanitary and sloppy behavior exhibited by the “medical” staff. Very few people skilled in surgery (not unusual), but rats, vermin, poor sanitation, and the smell of gangrene permeates every tent.

Most of the doctors are run ragged, and the nurses avoid the head nurse Ogilvy like, well, gangrene. The only one not afraid was Zenna Borden, who we see ministering to a number of different people – none of whom seem to do well.

After a night’s sleep and a hard day’s work, Dr. Hampton finally reports to Major Parker, the camp CO. He is distracted and distant – even confused – while discussing Hampton’s role here, and dismisses him, claiming some errand. He shoves any requests off on Nurse Ogilvy.

Hampton spends a Investigative point on Bureaucracy.

Hampton notes that all requests for administrative control over the camp are diverted to Ogilvy, while the actual medical tasks are handled properly (but desperately). Any organizational or chain-of-command issues, however, are messed up to a fare-thee-well, with Ogilvy having usurped the role of true head of the facility.

***

The journalist, Phillip Gibbs, happens to find that there is another journalist, Jackson Elias, in the compound. He has written on the occult and supernatural perspective of primitive peoples, from a non-believer’s skeptical position. His last work was in 1915, chronicling Mayan and Aztec (he got them frequently confused) rituals, called The Smoking Heart.


Elias is an American with an arm wound. He was trying to get out of Paris on his researches, when artillery interrupted his travels. He found himself in the medical ward here, and his requests for an expedited departure have fell on deaf ears.

He’s currently working on a book about the Thuggees of India, a death cult worshipping Kali.

***

Every time they notice that the injured are not in their beds, they’re shuffled back.

***

Dupond meets with Maurice Bowles, and establishes a time and place to meet. Bowles is very cryptic, but seems sure that he is on the trail of being cured. After the meeting, Dupond relates this, with some amusement and some real curiosity, to the rest of the group.

Dr. Hampton is surprised to understand that Nurse Ogilvy is having meetings that don’t involve the senior medical staff, especially Major Parker. Naturally, Hampton goes in (and spends a reassurance point to let Parker know that he has his back) and expresses doubt that the nurse should be calling the shots. Parker promises to do something, and winds up getting into a one-sided shouting match with Ogilvy, with the Chief Nurse doing the shouting. Hampton barges into the office, and tries to dress down Ogilvy for breaking both decorum in a hospital and the chain of command. Ogilvy looks down her nose at Doctor Hampton, and notes with a glare at Parker that Hampton “might not work out here.” Hampton tries to interject, but Parker actually orders him to be silent and leave the room. Saluting with great propriety and no respect, he leaves.

***

Our investigation and discussion leads us to conclude that Ogilvy, Borden, and Abd Nazari are holding these strange “meetings,” with some of the more crippled among the camp being prime candidates for also attending. They seem like they should be greatly suffering, but are doing so less than they should.

***

At about ten in the evening, after the Nurses ensure the patients in their beds

The GM calls for us all to make Sense Trouble rolls. Everyone makes them but Dr. Hampton.

The night turns into shadow, and those shadows move, as out of each tent four or five soldiers try to sneak out of the tent.

Dupond follows, retrieving his service pistol. Addams follows the crowd, so to speak, while Gibbs engages in some discreet shadowing. One soldier, Gieullme de Charlemagne, with a leg wound, challenges Addams. What are you doing? Going for a walk. Clearly. Why. Abd Nazari suggested it. Oh, you’re going to see the nurse? I’m going wherever Abd Nazari is, and mutters something in Arabic. 

The nurse has found a way to lessen our pain, Charlemagne says. He seems a bit wigged out that Addams has claimed to be chosen of Abd Nazari.

At the meeting, Bowles and Abd Nazari are rather conspicuously absent. Addams and Dupond are there.

Some on-call nurses report that patients are missing from their beds. They wake up Hampton, who goes and reports that some of the more critically injured patients are missing from their beds. He reports back to Major Parker, who delegates it right back to him and goes to sleep.

Hampton fails another sense trouble roll. 0 for 2.

The patients disappear into a basement cellar. Gibbs sees Abd Nazari poke his head out, and close the doors. He also sees nurses and Dr. Hampton poking around looking for the patients. Gibbs waves him down, and tells him that something’s going on. Chanting and whatnot.

While the room seems initially like a regular cellar, looking carefully reveals that there seems to be a small section of a Roman-style house underground, and after a bit of a low passage, there seem to be three fairly large rooms joined together, stonework and doorways well preserved.

Though the stonework is Roman, there are well-carved, unnaturally so, Egyptian heiroglyphs and depictions of a Pharaoh slicing the heads off his enemies. Glyphs for ravens and death, and large casualties in battle. The runes chronicle the successes of this Pharaoh, standing victoriously over defeated foes.

In another room, Abd Nazari, Bowles, many enlisted folks. Behind a podium, there is a relief, nearly 10′ high, of a Pyramid, with the top cut off flat. On top of that, is a nasty-looking skull with the skin removed from its face.

As a woman rises and starts speaking and chanting, Hampton sees that the skull is fairly fresh, the skin definitely human, and the eyeballs seem to be moving. She throws back her cowl, and reveals herself to be Zenna Borden.

“The Pharaoh of 1,000 Ravens seeks your souls and your hearts.” She then speaks a tongue with which none of us are familiar, “Amon Pek, Fari Fari, Ei! Ei!”

An etherial mist forms, fills a basin that we did not notice before, and a green viscous fluid begins to fill it.

Addams ( +kung fu hillbilly ) feels his pain actually begin to subside. It is no longer the searing break from earlier. Ravens fly down into the chamber (through a shut door?!) and land on everyone . . . but Dupond . . . and then fly off. As they fly, a Raven looks at Gibbs, and in his mind, he can hear a voice say ” No hope, no pleasure, no triumph, no bargain. There is nothing you can give that He will accept. He takes what he pleases and will not be cheated.”

Gibbs makes a Stability check, and passes fairly well.

+Nathan Joy says “Just remember, if someone asks you if you’re a God, you say YES.”

After a very long absence, we returned to discuss . . . dragons.

+Nathan Joy, the GM, says: “So, you have mariskos to the East, blocking the Path of Aganhei, weird things to the North that may have been heavily forshadowed in the windy pit o’ mean shaman, and a dragon that has recently been harassing the hell out of the village (and probably would be a PITA if you tried to head North without dealing with.)”

This naturally leads us to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of white dragons. We establish that they get more powerful as they age (Cadmus: OK, kill ’em while they’re young. Oops. Too late.). They have many abilities dealing with snow. They can see through heavy snow as clear as day and they’re immune to cold. They can fly, swim, run, and burrow (through snow or ice especially fast), and are generally big, strong, heavily armored, and fast. Shiba also can fill in that have a freezing breath weapon, and can sometimes do wind and fog related stuff pretty much at will. And tend to be magic resistant. Shiba DOES note that their defenses are supposedly less effective against fire, but he’s not sure HOW less effective that is.

Village People. I hate these guys.

Hrm. We then go get an interpreter and some village people. We show them the windy pit of doom, and they come to the conclusion that their shaman was nuttier than a squirrel’s nest. And hey, those dead guys used to be our friends and neighbors. I thought the dragon took them!

We spend a bit of time speculating whether the dragon egg shards might have been a sacrifice or magical component for a spell. But move on from that (I mean, hey – fighting dragons is a genre staple) and learn that they don’t know anything in particular about the pictograms, aside from the fact that this symbol is that of Sithhud, demon lord of blizzards and the frozen dead, that the black stones seem to represent the weird black monoliths that hunters have been reporting up north, and that the towers surrounded in blue are the Nameless Spires, an ancient ruined city on the North Pole. Further,white mountains behind the single tower are definitely the Alabastrine Peaks, which are off to the

south of the pole, and the fanged arms are definitely the traditional representation of Morozkos. They find some really bad scrawled love poems next to the picture of the winged woman that says “Katiyana, who speaks to me on the winds from her tower in the storm.”

Shiba thanks them for their time and how they’ve completely solved all of our problems forever. Fortunately, sarcasm doesn’t translate well.

They do confirm that a dragon has definitely been attacking the village (game on!), and roughly where it is, about 60 miles north of the village, on the High Ice.

Shiba, ever the tactician (or is that +Mark Langsdorf ?) summarizes the plan:

Kill the dragon, get the dogsleds, go to Unaimo and shop, then turn to the left and head to the Peaks, put paid to the tower, and finally have the dramatic confrontation at the Nameless Spires and hope we’ve figured out how to come back by that point?

On the other hand, a fairly amusing Out-of-Character conversation ensues about the wisdom of following what seem to be the plot hooks of the adventure path:

[6:27:52 PM] crakkerjakk: I would strongly encourage the party to go epic and drag the whole damn caravan north via dogsled.
[6:27:59 PM] Emily Smirle: Heading out late in the season because you’re afraid it’ll get blocked is officially Stupid.
[6:28:03 PM] Emily Smirle: Just kinda saying.
[6:28:17 PM] Emily Smirle: But.
[6:28:20 PM] crakkerjakk: Because pathfinder assumes the party is idiots, and this is Nate Reads From A Book.
[6:28:35 PM] Emily Smirle: Why didn’t you say so in the first place? 😀
[6:28:44 PM] Douglas Cole: Figured it was obvious?
[6:28:51 PM] Theodore Briggs: true, also, Staver needs to BUY MORE HEALING POTIONS AT THE CARAVAN
[6:28:52 PM] Mark Langsdorf: None of us are especially going to argue if Ameiko or the caravan master overrule us.
[6:28:56 PM] crakkerjakk: Well, if you really want to leave the caravan back, I can wing something, I suppose.
[6:29:03 PM] Douglas Cole: I mean, “Please, dive into the frozen like to fight the water creatures in their natural element” is a freakin plot point
[6:29:08 PM] crakkerjakk: Cause that makes A LOT MORE SENSE>
[6:29:11 PM] Emily Smirle: Staver DOES need to buy more healing potions at the caravan!
[6:29:34 PM] Theodore Briggs: get the big ones, or at least not the smallest ones
[6:29:35 PM] Emily Smirle: I can do taht right now though. I have money. >.>
[6:29:36 PM] crakkerjakk: I’m kinda hesitant to make you do shit that’s too stupid.
[6:29:53 PM] Mark Langsdorf: We embrace the script, Nate. It’s cool.
[6:30:02 PM] crakkerjakk: Alright, thanks guys.
[6:30:05 PM] Emily Smirle: Gimme dat tasty worm on dat phishook.

And, the Hand of Plot moves us:

Shiba: Nods as Ameiko, Sandru, and Koya tell us they want to dogsled across the Pole ’cause they’re in a tearing hurry or something. Oni of the 5 Winds, the Seal box has been opened, it all makes sense.

Well, as long as we’re going white dragon hunting, we go for Fine climbing gear, alchemist’s fire, and stuff to present snow blindness. They are sadly lacking in magebane, flaming weapon consumables, napalm, and stuff to let us fly or see through snow. Alas.

Staver picks up 10 major healing potions and manages to coat 20 arrows with explody alchemist’s fire thanks to a double Scout! destiny point spend. We all shop for a while (too long, probably), and then finally head north having doused +Emily Smirle‘s character, Staver, in Worstershire sauce to attract the dragon.

Not really. Cadmus does keep floating that plan though.

After two days of northerly travel, the guides slow down as we start passing larger and larger skeletons of various large mammals, and at the end of the third day you draw close to a large rift in the glacial icepack. We see a rift about 30 yards long, and about 9 yards wide at it’s widest point. You see claw marks on the edge of the rift here and there, that look like they were made by claws the size of swords.

Won’t this be fun?

We spend a lot of time looking through lists of party expendables, and come up with “don’t notice me” ninja potions, a potion of fire breathing, a ring of distant blow, and a few other things squirreled away. Like a wand of exploding fireball arrows.

The GM wonders if the dragon will last more than a round.

Staver and Thumvar take flight, with Staver checking out the opening. We see a slightly-melted edge, and a seven-yard drop to a gash in the glacier. Shiba falls back and casts Walk on Air on both himself and Cadmus (crit success on one of us). So now we’re all airborne.

Mark has all the cool spells. As he says, he doesn’t have many, so he chooses carefully.

Gonna need one of these . . . 

Staver flies down the deep shaft, at least 100 yards to the bottom (yikes). He can make out the bottom of the shaft. It looks like it’s covered in a series of rocky crags, and he thinks he sees something sprawled among them. To make it out so clearly, it must be fairly large. Looks like a body, quadripedal and with wings. On the side of the shaft are a couple openings. There’s two to one side, one about 20 yards below the other, and another opening on the opposite side in between the two. The top one is a cave entrance about 10 yards wide. The floor is littered with broken eggshells.

Littered? Oh, that does not sound good. +Theodore Briggs reminds us all of Dragonslayer.

You see a stone hammer laying amound the remains of the eggshells that you would guess was made by one of the local human tribes by it’s construction, and you see something whitish-blue underneath one of the fragments of eggshell. You brush aside the eggshell carefully, trying not to make too much noise. Underneath is an amulet, made out of remorhaz scales. It looks very similar to the friendship tailsman that Ulf had, that the local tribes use to mark favor with outsiders.

The draconic shape at the bottom of the shaft turns out to be a large dragon corpse. So much for the surprise attack.

We cross and descend to the next cave mouth down, which is a wide and deep cavern in the ice. We see signs of repeated passage by something large with big claws through this one. Given the ripples in the ice at least a foot below the surface, you’re guessing it’s been used for at least decades, if not centuries. There are some fairly fresh tracks, too. Days, maybe. We proceed down the shaft, finally on the main combat map.

Or was that too metagame?

So, this whole cave slopes gently down towards the opening to the shaft. There’s a fairly large crevase in the middle of it, and beyond that it curves upwards and to the north.

The floor is fairly slick, strewn with rocks and bones, and on the other side of the crevasse is what looks kind of like a nest of some kind, with a bunch of busted up ice in a rough circle.

As we cautiously approach, Cadmus notices a solid wall of fog approaching. Much like the one we fought in last time. Alas. Shiba casts Purify air, which clears a patch of fog in the middle of the cavern, as we hear a scraping sound coming from behind Staver. Of course. We move closer to the open area made by Shiba, but we continue to hear the sound of something large moving in the direction of the nest.

Staver launches an arrow laced with alchemist’s fire towards the sound on general principle. Beingn appropriately heroic archer, he hits, but what the burning arrow reveals does not please anyone. Dragon! The good news is that the illumination of the flaming arrow (1d6 burn for 30 seconds with 1/5 DR) will last a while, and gives us a valid target. There is likely still the pesky priest from last game kicking around (this fog is his stock in trade, I think), but at least we have one bad guy marked, and lots of fire-based attacks.

W. T. F?!

Thumvar fast-draws his sword and makes a Heroic Charge at the dragon, with his full flying Move 11.  The dragon is visibly surprised, shouting “WTF?” in draconic as Thumvar does 16 (2) cut to one of its wings, and it rears back, screaming “Srsly, WTF?!”

No, I did not make that up. Blame Nate. 🙂

Shiba’s turn, and he looses an arrow – the previously prepared 6d exploding fireball arrow, one might note – at the dragon. “The Arrow Knows the Way!” he shouts, using Homing (Imbuement) and trusting that Thumvar is heavily armored enough to shrug off the blast. 20 burn damage if successful. Dragon dodges and drops, so he can get out of the way, successfully. He’s on fire, confused, and angry. Cadmus uses his ring of distant blow to the torso, biffs his activation roll, spends a destiny point, but critically succeeds for 10 (2) cut to the torso.

The dragon is not amused, and seemingly in a great deal of pain.

A crack appears along its scales, they are the color of polished ice, edged in silver.The dragon screams something at us in draconic, then pushes downward with some powerful claws. Ice cracks and fountains upward, and the dragon slips down into the glacier. He moved through solid ice as if it were yogurt.

Thumvar waits for the inevitable reappearance of the dragon, while Shiba concentrates to make the arrow come around for another pass. Patriot Arrow, baby.

Regrettably, internet connection issues caused us to end the session there. More dragon-fighting next week!

Robert Lee Hampton started out in World War 1, May 27 1918, at an infamous hospital in France. We heard rumors of an unanticipated German offensive, which smashed through a few French divisions.

On the 28th of May, my character, Doctor Robert Lee Hampton, heard that some American and British divisions tried to offer some token resistance on the way to Reims. I’m stuck into an ambulance and driven (by a woman by name of Emma “Cheery” Patterson) who got a call to drive to pick up some injured men north of here, and try and get them back to the hospital before the German tidal wave arrives.

She asks me if I’d been to Military Hospital #5 before, and I reply in the negative. She’d been working there since the Spring, and notes that I should report to Major Parker, the Chief Surgeon, and that the chief nurse is Ms Ogilvy, who has a bad rep for being quite the tyrant. We speed onward.

***
Meanwhile, elsewhere, the three other PCs are part of a hodgepodge Allied division, forced to retreat. Six ambulances show up, and the PCs are all shoved into the same ambulance, in a very plot-convenient way.

I’m asked to make a Preparedness roll by +Jeromy French , and I roll a 6, spending 2 points from my pool of 5 for a total 8, which means my Pharmacy skill is improved by 1 (from 4 to 5) for the rest of the session. The others roll to see how injured they are, Jaque Dupond ( +Matt Sutton ) has a mild head wound, but Philip Gibbs ( +Nathan Joy ) and Norman Adams ( +kung fu hillbilly ) were both injured. Norman has a fractured femur, while Phillip has a shell fragment wound to the left forearm. None are horrible or life threatening, but none are fun.

Gibbs is in shock, and Dr. Hampton steps in to treat him, successfully. We speed south towards Reims, with six total patients, plus the nurse and Dr. Hampton. As Hampton works frantically to patch up the head wound, Dupond recounts a vivid dream, dealing with reincarnation and past lives. He’s writing in a journal of his remembered dream as if he mightn’t see another tomorrow. Hampton assures him he will live to see another day, so he can write more slowly.

As he patches up the broken femur, he and Norman discuss his academic background (Citadel and UVA Med School), which Norman declares is respectable enough, since he’s an Oxford Don. Can he fence again? Yes, stay off it and you’re fine.

Finally, the shell fragment is lodged, but removable. “Can you believe the Jerried tried to kill me? Hell of a thing. Not my writing arm,” Gibbs notes, and gives a classic thin-lipped British smile.

***

We continue driving, and the ride is rocky but uneventful, up until the ripping linen sound of big guns tears through the air. Within seconds, the lead ambulance is destroyed, its wreckage blocking our way, and the broken bodies that are not flung about are rapidly burned to death. Cheery stops the ambulance, in shock. Perhaps she knew someone? Unknown, but Hampton shoves her out of the way and gets behind the wheel. He guns it, slamming through the wreckage, pushing it aside to continue through the shellfire pattern.

As we slam through the wreckage, both Hampton and Dupond note that, oddly, a flock of ravens were in the bombardment zone, and as we pass, they all take off together in a flock, and fly south, in the same direction as the hospital.

Matt and I both have Outdoorsman, so we automatically notice the ravens. Jaime elects to spend a point in Occult to get more info on what the flock might portend.

“Interesting,” says Hampton. “I’ve never seen ravens stay put in an active bombard zone. Birds know to fly to the hospital, though.”

“No,” says Norman. “Those were fan-tailed ravens, native to Egypt. There’s a passage in the Koran that indicates that a raven taught Cain how to bury his dead brother. The fact that they’re flying in our direction is . . . well. Death travels with us.”

Cheery Patterson is still beside herself, having just witnessed, we find out, the detonation of her best friend. Dupond leans in and gives her a quote from Hawthorne: “All brave men love; for he only is brave who has affections to fight for, whether in the daily battle of life, or in physical contests.” He consoles her the best he can.

He spends a point of his Reassure pool to calm her and forge a relationship.

We drive for another hour or so, and come across the husk of what used to be lovely manor house, but which has since been shelled into oblivion. It is our military field hospital, surrounded by at least six tents, acting as portable triage and medical centers.

The unkindness of ravens has preceded us here. They decorate the landscape, perching on the tents, roofs, and other places where they can find purchase. The wounded PCs are placed in separate areas, and Dr Hampton is shuffled off to serve his purpose.

Norman overhears a man wandering around, shaking a reliquary of some sort at the ravens and the wounded. “To the scavenger of death, may you weigh each heart to be judged.” An unfamiliar phrase catches Norman’s ear. “What are you trying to save them from?,” Abd Nazari says in Arabic. “To keep the soul going in the right direction; we can pray to many gods,” the man notes. Clearly a reference to Anubis.

An obviously-frocked Catholic priest is traveling from area to area, giving blessings where possible, and Last Rites where not. He mutters darkly when Abd Nazari passes, noting “heathen should not be allowed in a good Christian hospice.”

Gibbs, a devout Catholic, engages him in conversation, and sympathizes with the priest, noting that such burdens are part of our journey here. The priest notes that the Arab is a lackey of Zenna Borden, an apparently “untouchable” nurse who is well-liked by Ogilvy, the head nurse – that in itself an oddity. “She seems strangely incompetent, even in this place. I’ve said too much, my son. Thank you for the cigarette.”

The GM calls for a Sense Trouble roll from Gibbs, who spends a point and nails it with a 7.

At the edge of his vision, he sees one of the injured, who was apparently hovering outside the tent, and clearly overhead the conversation, bolt away from the “arm tent” to the “leg pit.” Gibbs casually strolls after him, not obviously following him.

Nate notes he’s Shadowing, and chooses to spend 2 points. Rolls a total of 3.

Gibbs is stopped at the entrance by a fairly burly looking nurse, who tries to redirect him back to the “arm” tent. Hampton declares that Gibbs is less injured than he seems, and is serving as my assistant, since we’re understaffed.

This puts Gibbs, Norman, and Hampton in the same tent, at least for a moment. “What brings you to the leg tent?” Tensions between the good Father and the Arab praying to Anubis, and the eavesdropping stranger. Nothing more develops from this at the moment.

As Dupond wanders the grounds on his own, he notes the ravens almost seen to follow the funeral processions of the stream of dead and dying. As he walks, he notes that the dead are being buried in what seems to be old Roman ruins – an oddity.

Matt spends a point of his Architecture pool.

While the space was wide and open on the surface, it clearly showing Roman funerary stones. A piece of metal sticking out from the ground looks to be a bronze case used to hold parchment or something. Opening it, a piece of mouldy parchment is revealed, showing pictures that seem fairly meaningless at the time. He tucks the scroll case into his pack, for later study.

As Dupond tours the grounds, he encounters a uniformed Lieutenant, with a massive head wound, who is hobbling purposefully in his direction. As they pass, Dupond tips his hat politely, and the wounded Frenchman greets him back, saluting as much as he can. “You appear to have been gravely wounded, Lt.”

“Yes, I am Maurice Bowles. My sight is truly limited, and I would do well to return to my bed before night falls – I can not navigate the grounds except in brightest day.”

Matt spends another point of his Reassurance pool to bond with him.

Maurice takes Dupond’s reassurance and kind words graciously, and notes subtly that he has heard of a way to restore his sight, and if Dupond comes by his room later, he can discuss it in more detail.

 ***

We end there, since the pacing of the adventure suggests that this is a good stopping point.’

Gumshoe and Trail of Chthulhu: First Impressions

It’s been a long time since I’ve really learned a new game system. I restarted Pathfinder recently, but I cut my teeth on Dungeons and Dragons, so I was familiar enough with it to slide right in.

GUMSHOE, now. I’m not sold on the mechanics of it, yet. The pool-based system is . . . odd. The way it seems to work is that everyone is more or less equally good at things, except for the few times per adventure when you can spend your supply of skill pool. For Investigative skills, if you have the skill, you get certain clues, and can spend points from that pool to improve things, get more information, etc.

It was our first adventure, so I’ll withhold judgement, but my first impression, based on incredibly limited play time, is that GURPS‘ skills plus Destiny Points allow you to (for example) consistently be a better doctor than others, but also whip out a few narrative successes at critical times, much like spending from the pool provides. Right now, I feel like anyone could roll the same 1d6 and have a 50% chance of success.

I’ll presume that most people won’t attempt a no-pool roll, and that drama and implicit niche protection prevents this from happening. And I’m also such a newbie with the system that I can’t yet form a judgement. We’ll see what happens next time.

GM: +Nathan Joy
Players: +Mark Langsdorf , +Theodore Briggs , +Emily Smirle , and me.

After we found the cleft in the wall from last game, we decided that we needed to just walk into trouble. So we followed the pathway up, whereupon Cadmus, still under the influence of being Pharasmically drunk or something, bumps into a wall, revealing a secret passage.

We follow that pathway until another surface, which clearly had to be a secret door as well. We found it, and saw a spiraling slide down into a large pit, 60′ below us.

I had a point unspent, and so I asked if I could spend it on Acrobatics, and slide around the spiral ramp on my shield. +Nathan Joy said yes. I made it most of the way around, slammed into a wall (1d-3 to my pride), then made it around the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the more sane of us used the gear we brought: pitons and 700-lb. test rope, to scale down into the pit.

Each little cloud is an air spirit. Crap.

We saw lots of bones, lots of runes with the symbol of Sihhud, Demon Lord of blizzards and the frozen dead. We knew it was a trap, expected a trap, and a trap it was. The old guy (Tunuak), five or six hunters, and at least twelve air spirits popped up. Game on.

First valid action was +Mark Langsdorf ‘s Mystic Knight Shiba launching an exploding shrapnel arrow at one of the bad guys, which did about 2 points of damage to a whole bunch of air spirits (max), killed one hunter with three shrapnel hits and 26 cut damage. Cadmus slices at the torso of one, does 12 cut, and he seems fine, coming back to a guard stance.

Hmm. Cadmus smells demon on this one. The vertical eye slits do give it away. That probably means they’re amenable to Smite. 2d burn goes a long way, and if the air spirits are demony as well, that works.

For the bad guys first action, Tunuak casts a nasty fog spell, which obscures our vision past 2 yards. Icky.

Then, lots of spirits attack, with blows that go right through our parries, striking for 1d+3 (2) pi damage (we can read this right off of MapTool, which is a bit metagame. Still.) Staver eats 9 pi damage, while Cadmus takes only 1 HP through his DR 11 armor. That (2) works both ways.

Staver steps up and quick-shoots two arrows at some air spirit that must be visible to him. He hits with both despite the shock penalties. Both arrows are torn from their path by gale-force winds. Thumvar flies around to thee dge of the altar of bones at the bottom of the map. Shiba takes a swipe at a diffuse spirit, hitting but hey, diffuse. This brings him in visible range of Cadmus, who does a General Prayer to Pharasma for some assistance, but apparently the fates are not kind today. He does step close to Shiba, so they can go back-to-back.

We get attacked a lot by wind spirits, and Staver goes unconscious. Shiba takes a minor hit as well. Thumvar then tosses alchemists fire on the Evil Altar of Bones, which will burn merrily at 1d per second for a while. Cadmus, being reduced to pretty much mundane attacks, tries a shield bash and crit fails, spending a destiny point to not suck.

As the flames consume the altar, the spirits all flail around, flames licking all over them. Perhaps things are looking a bit less grim?

Maybe, maybe not. Our sorcerous friend disappears again (he used Body of Air last time, too), while a few of the hunters step up and attack our flanks – unsuccessfully thanks to shieldwork. The difficult terrain makes retreating impossible, though, so using retreats to reposition is not viable.

The alchemist’s fire continues to burn, and one Air Spirit vanishes from the map in front of Cadmus. Not sure if that’s dead or moved, but I’m not sorry either way.

Thumvar attacks the Hunter within reach, pulling one of his trademark Dual-Weapon Attacks, from the flank, also a Deceptive Attack. Bastard manages to block one, parry the other, despite eating -4 in penalteis. Was close, though.

Shiba does a telegraphed rapid strike for two solid hits and destroys an air spirit, and Cadmus invokes smite and goes up like a candle, taking 12 burn and dying.

Our inability to dissipate the fog is proving a real liability. For a DF party, we have some gaping holes we need to fill. This isn’t the first time we’ve been menaced by diffuse types.

Shiba’s turn comes, he casts Purify Air, nullifying the fog next to him, and Cadmus steps next to him, invoking Smite despite that he can’t see anything. He has guessed right, and a Hunter bursts into a pillar of fire and collapses. This formation crap actually works.

There’s an inarticulate scream of rage, a thunderclap, and then hunters drop like flies, collapsing.

Cadmus goes around doing Final Rest on every bone in sight, while Shiba pours major healing potions on Staver one at a time until he recovers. Staver’s down to -4 HP, but it takes both potions and only restores him to 4 HP. Cadmus tries Lay on Hands on the Infernal anyway:

Cadmus: says a prayer for Staver anyway, touching him lightly. Couldn’t hurt, and we’ll see if he’s been good this year

* Staver groggily opens one jaundiced eye to
blink at Shibas worried face.

GM: Staver, you feel a burning sensation.
Cadmus appears to be touching you and murmuring something.
Staver: And then promptly cringes at Cadmus,
“OW!”
Cadmus: “Sorry, sorry! Just thought I’d try
and see if God still hates you. Behave better.”
Staver: “It’s got NOTHING to do with me!”

* Staver swats at Cadmus’s hand.

Shiba: “Your kami is a strange sort,
Cadmus-sempai.”
Cadmus: That’s what they ALL say, you know.
Shiba: Looks around a bit more. “Why is that
altar on fire?”
Staver: “I’ve got second-hand problems, and
nobody consulted me about them.”
Cadmus: “Shiba, you don’t know the half of it,
really.”

We search around the pit for a while, but it looks like the sorcerer got away. Staver takes the opportunity to lecture Cadmus a bit (taken from OOC chat):

[9:01:04 PM] Emily Smirle: Staver uses small words “I. Am. Half. De. Mon.”
[9:01:17 PM] Christopher: LOL
[9:01:39 PM] Douglas Cole: “You da man?” “NO. DE-MON.”
[9:01:56 PM] Emily Smirle: “And nobody asked my permission for that first!”
[9:02:19 PM] Emily Smirle: Staver launches into a birds-and-bees discussion for the clearly poorly-educated holy warrior.
[9:02:31 PM] Douglas Cole: Hey, HOLY, not DEAD.
[9:02:45 PM] Douglas Cole: I miss Dawn
[9:02:58 PM] Emily Smirle: “You seem a little fuzzy on the details of what happens next, I’m just saying!”
[9:03:04 PM] crakkerjakk: Kevin will be missed.
[9:03:42 PM] Douglas Cole: OH, I can Lay on Hands and show her the Holy Glory, I can tell you.
[9:04:07 PM] Douglas Cole: Only then do we have our Final Rest.
[9:04:30 PM] Christopher: Many Shubs and Zulls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!

Cadmus finishes his exorcism ritual, cleansing the pit of fell influence. Then, looking around at the englyphed walls we find:

There are five panels of pictograms. The first shows black standing stones rising from icy hills. The second shows a cluster of towers glowing with a strange blue light. A third shows a single monolithic tower rising above what appears to be a black lake with white mountain peaks behind it. A fourth depicts a spiraling storm with long arms ending in ice-fanged jaws devouring Erutaki villages, with even longer arms reaching towards forests, crudely drawn castles and cities, and what may be ships at sea. Warriors are shown trying to fight the storm with spears before being engulfed and sealed in tombs of ice.The final panel shows a blue-skinned woman with dark wings and hair wearing a silver crown or circlet. Her had grasps one of the claw-symbols like a scepter, and spiraling streaks of silver and white curl away from it in every direction.

The blue-skinned demon babe is neither Pharasma nor Sihhud. We also find dragon shell fragments at the base of the altar. We have a bit of in-character fun:
Staver: “Is anyone else made uncomfortable by
the idea of mixing demons and dragons?”
Cadmus: Seems like a bad game. D&D?
Shiba: “It seems obscene.”
Staver: “It just seems like a terrible idea.”
Staver: “That too.”

We speculate a bit as well. Possibly possessed half-dragon, a mama dragon really pissed at having eggs stolen, or having a dragon slave attack those who are not “sufficiently faithful.”
Shiba is pretty sure the blue glowy towers are supposed to represent The Nameless Spires, a set of magical ruins on the north pole that radiate incredible magical energy that no one has ever returned form attempting to explore. And the fanged storm arms represent the morozkos, the killer storms that hit this area in the winter.

Shiba: black standing stones, north pole magical ruins, icy lake on our path, enemy wind spirits, demonic goddess? Oh joy.
Cadmus: You know we need to walk into those magic towers, right? Right?
Shiba: That’s probably a good idea. I meant “bringing up our hostess is a good idea”. Walking into the magical towers that no one ever returned from seems problematic as a plan.
Cadmus: Aw. “No one ever comes back” is clearly a challenge. To us.
GM: 🙂
Cadmus: We’d be cheating Destiny if we didn’t take it on
Shiba: It looks more like “get advice from our hostess”, then “take the caravan to unaimo”, then “find the lonely tower by the lake”, and then? Hopefully kill a behir and teleport to Tian or something.
GM: ((NO MORE AND THEN!!!))
Cadmus: and then seek out the mystical towers. Gotta be good stuff there if no one ever returns!
Shiba: Uhm.

and we called it there!

Parting Shot
It’s a good thing that Ted set the altar on fire. Otherwise, we would have all likely been “pecked” to death by armor-piercing attacks. 1d+3 isn’t all that much, but when you can only dodge, things can get ugly fast.

All sorceresses have tattoos,
I guess, but this one had a map!

Today was Pathfinder, day, with +Jeromy French as GM, and +kung fu hillbilly and +Matt Sutton joining me as players. +Joshua Taylor and Evil Gimble was missing tonight.

I am going to unashamedly talk spoilers here, so be warned.

Last game ended with a combat, our tower had been attacked by quite a large force. We’d reinforced anyway, and as usual we played out the battle mostly with the teeming hordes of the bad guys in the background. We basically wound up chasing a sorceress around for a while, eventually killing her.

Turns out there was some interesting stuff tattooed on her back, which naturally Evil Gimble had flayed off and made into a nice portable map.

Hey! Something like this . . . but skin

Evil-aligned characters can get away with that sort of thing, and the rest of us neutral types mainly just make noises of “is that really necessary.”

Anyway, the map had a key bit on it, a bit of a puzzle-poem, which I won’t fully reproduce.

Nonetheless, Admiral Allejandro (Kung Fu Hillbilly’s bard) totally nailed every single Knowledge: Local and other Knows Trivia roll he was asked to make, so we were able to deduce the rough corner of the ocean we should visit.

It was only a week away, so we gathered up a crew, set sail, and headed out doing what pirates do: looking for buried treasure.

The area we arrived at reminded me instantly of somewhere I’ve seen before: the Big Blue Hole in Belize. Other than some typically odd vine structures which led us to decide that there was no way in hell we were taking our ship in there, we more or less did pretty well in figuring out where to go (it didn’t hurt that the critical

Perception roll to see man-sized caves was a 33). Anyway, we decided that we’d needed to wait until dawn to ensure we got the right place. We did, saw what we expected to see, figured out the final clue without die-rolling, and went spelunking. Or climbing, and then digging, and then falling, and then spelunking. And attacked by Sahuagin.

These are like Nazis to Indiana Jones: “Sahuagin. I hate these guys.”
“Sahuagin. I hate these guys.”

Anyway, thanks to the off-camera action of Evil Gimble, we had lots of potions to let us breathe underwater and give a nice bonus to Swim. So despite forgetting the Coral Crossbows we’d looted which work remarkably well underwater, we made fairly short work of five or so Sahuagin, taking a few minor wounds in the process.

Next week, Gimble will hopefully join us as we continue the dungeon crawl to look for the loot.

This is a combined report of the last two sessions. On hand were +Nathan Joy (GM), +Emily Smirle , +Theodore Briggs , +Mark Langsdorf , and +Kevin Smyth.

Last time, we basically headed out for Tian, journeying north for an epic trek across the frozen top of the world. We got ambushed in a narrow passage, with a 100′ tall cliff of ice and snow to the south, and a frozen fast-moving river to the north. I recall we only had perhaps ten yards of flat ground at the bottom.

We triggered it ourselves, I recall. We thought “obvious place for an ambush,” and Thumvar, I think, was close on hand and probably caused the creature (a three-headed chimera) to trigger his trap, which was a very wide avalanche!

The avalanche raced down the cliff, and those of us in the zone beat feat (on horses) to escape the zone. Well, those of us who could not fly.

That was a bit of a tense moment. Dawn made some epic Light Walk rolls to run up the face of the tumbling snow, and Shiba and Cadmus did a lot of steering horses through a bad snowfall. All in all, we handled that well. Then we noted a horde of undead frozen guys coming for us.

This failed to impress Cadmus.

Thumvar and Staver made really short work of the chimera, since they injured its wing as it made a dive, causing it to face-plant into the turf (leaving a giant blood smear on the map) after a 30-yard full-speed stoop. Splat.

The undead? Yeah, they ran after us in clusters. Cadmus got close to each group and set them on instant-flambe with Smite. One almost dangerous moment was when one leaped up behind me on my saddle, but Shiba shot him down with his bow.

At no real point was the encounter terribly tense, but in fairness, we rolled very well, did a whole bunch of really epic stuff that worked, and we did control the encounter by triggering the ambush ourselves. Actually acted like the bunch of 340-ish point characters we were. Ultimately, the avalanche and river were likely the most serious threats here.

The next session was a whole lot of journeying, followed by a stop at a town that I will not attempt to get right. Uquiqo? Anyway, the entire thing is carved out of rock at the base of a towering ice wall. We are met, offered hospitality that we got to roleplay through (few of us speak the language), and eventually are told three or four salient facts:

  • They were surprised that we did not get attacked and eaten by a White Dragon that has been plaguing the area.
  • The flesh-destroying winter storms never come down as far south as they have at this time of the year
  • Strange black pillars and undead have been seen on the high plains; they think the storms might be related. Or we think the storms might be related.

We’re thus sure we needed to be here, since we have dragons, undead, and flesh-eating storms. Must be Tuesday.

Then a crazy old priest of the winds starts yelling at us from outside. We step out, initially thinking dragon-attack, but it’s just a torch-and-pitchforks party against us, the faithless strangers.

We try a group Intimidate, which doesn’t work very well. Cadmus, not amused at being described as Faithless, calls on a visage of Pharasma (invokes Holy Glory), which does, in fact, knock nearly all the bystanders (and Staver) either down or wobbly. The priest disappears in Body of Air. A massive warrior approaches, his guards start tossing civilians around, and we get ready for a fight.

He then has a spectacular argument (of the non-violent kind) with his wife, our host. Ah, a domestic thing. We back off, and our host sadly tells us we need to sleep outside.

Brrr. That’s going to be cold.

Cadmus starts to pray for some guidance and warmth and to make Staver smell less bad. He keeps getting distracted, though, and bemusedly walks, praying loudly and confusing the hell out of his companions, towards a cliff face, which seems to have a line through it that no one else can see.

He reaches out and touches it, and it opens, revealing a passage and tunnel to the high cliff above.

We end there, and at least we know that if God tells us to climb the stairs, paraphrasing the immortal words of Bill Murray: “We go up.”

I led the post from yesterday with a quote from the movie Independence Day.

That naturally got me thinking about the movie, which I really think is one of the better popcorn movies out there. It’s a classic example of the explosions and victory school of film-making.

There are of course so many plot holes and implausibilities in this movie that one might just toss it in the bin along with Snakes on a Plane as essentially unwatchable (My wife and I were really looking forward to this one, for all the reasons you’d expect. Well, one reason: Sam Jackson saying “I want these MFing snakes off my MFing plane.” We tried . . . we did . . . to watch it, but had to turn it off when the snake bit the stacked woman in the restroom on the nipple).

Shall I toss off a few?

  • Will Smith had it right, in a way. Why come 90 billion light-years to start a fight. Unless their hyperdrive systems are so effortless in terms of energy input so as to make that journey trivially, there’s no reason to come and conquer Earth
  • Systematic city-by-city destruction using the wall-of-flame cannon, rather than, say, biological warfare or something. 
  • The power of the portable Apple computer. 

I’m sure there are tons more, and we can amuse ourselves in the comments endlessly.

Nonetheless, I loved the movie, and place it in the same category as, say “Broken Arrow” for “guilty pleasure movies,” that aren’t really terribly good but are a hell of a lot of fun

But, how about for gaming?

Just kinda winging it, we have an intro section where we get introduced to some of the characters, and that is probably not exactly perfect for gaming. I tried “the PCs meet each other bit by bit” once, and it was a nightmare. I had to resort to a total railroad “you guys all need to be in the same area, so go there” heavy hand of the GM moment. Not the best.

Then, of course, there’s the scene where the aliens are attacking, which is a nice “you survived the apocalypse” moment that provides both the actual apocalypse as well as some convenient opportunities to deprive the party of some gear, and some thrilling heroics.

Then there’s the finding of Area 51 and all of the old alien technology, which provides the inspiration for the big climax. We also have the inevitable “conventional methods will not impact the aliens” moments where proxies are killed and exposed to nuclear explosions to prove just how badass the PCs will have to be to pull this off.

Then there’s the planning montage, followed by the actual plan, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, and the final victory.

Assumptions and Genre

Welcome to Earth, motherf**ker

The tech assumptions are pretty straight-forward. The “good guys’ have access to military level hardware where needed (not that it does any good), decent command and control supplemented with Morse code. The bad guys have access to their exosuits, which seem to only provide environmental protection, since Will Smith was able to KO an alien by frackin’ punching him in the face. 

They have contragravity, FTL travel, and blasters. Apparently, however, they are regressed to TL7 or so in computer technology, which the PCs can take advantage of.

The genre is pretty clearly a cross between Action and Monster Hunters (or maybe just Monster Hunters: Bug Hunt). The PCs are all pretty damn capable and action-hero worthy. Plus, of course, one of them is the President of the United States. Who flies a jet into action. Hell, I’d vote for that guy.

What doesn’t work about this


I think that on several levels, this movie would fail as a direct translation to an RPG campaign. There aren’t really enough PCs with active roles (that’s typical of this type of movie; you really only get two or three characters in focus, usually a pair of dudes and a love interest or two as regrettable window dressing).

Also, too much of the movie is exposition and doesn’t really involve the PCs as the go-to party, and the situations are such that at least the players I’ve had would get themselves utterly killed. That first raid on the big mother ship that Will Smith and Harry Connick Jr. partake in? Oh, yeah. TPK city (and when you think of it, this particular raid’s end was basically “Oh, one player bought Luck, the other Didn’t Get the Memo and gets to write up a new PC).

What works?


The general outline of the “plot” isn’t awful. The threat is detected, and the apocalypse can either happen on-screen as part of the first scene, or actually off-screen, and the PCs can be together from the get-go, but in a “too late to die stupidly” way.

The plotline can be stretched into a reasonable campaign, by avoiding the Deux ex Machina of the Area 51 already having most of the answers and a conveniently captured starfighter. The PCs can capture aliens, grab tech, set ambushes like some sort of mashup from Red Dawn meets Aliens.

The big climax might be different, but blowing up the bad guys just as their unleashing their superlaser does have a certain cache to it, one has to admit.

Parting Shot


I think the upshot of this is that I want to write Monster Hunters: Alien Invasion.

Seriously, other than the magic part, this is nearly tailor-made for this sort of high-action, popcorn cinema type of campaign. Certainly, you could play it with a Sidekicks level of PC, but that just means you buy that book, which is already conveniently provided for you. All the groundwork is done for you, and Aliens and Ultra-Tech substitute quite nicely for demons and magic in the role of plot obstacle.

Heck, I wonder if this is just Too Simple for e23, and should be reduced to Pyramid instead. If only I had a bunch of vacation time coming up . . .

I most often throw down
some sort of tidbit or observation on rules and tinkering with them on
GURPS-Day, but today, my mind is on campaigns.
I’m starting to get the
itch to GM one again. Not out of disappointment with the three in which I’m
playing, but it’s a good way to ensure familiarity with the system, exercise
creative muscles, and generally ensure some proactive social action on my part.
So, with that, what
would I run? Not sure, but some possibilities in no particular order:
Krail’s Folly
The concept of “go
north and conquer the wilderness, and you get lands and title in exchange”
was hashed out a while back, and the game concept carries as much appeal now as
it did then.
I’d vacillate a bit, but
likely come down to using Dungeon Fantasy as the core basis. It is, quite
simply, the best supported part of GURPS, with tons of cool stuff. I’ve also
got a direct line into +Nathan Joy‘s pool of players, far more
experienced in playing this genre than I am. Of course, +Peter V. Dell’Orto is no slouch either, and
since he and I collaborate on stuff on a regular basis rather well, there’s a
monster pool of talent I can go to. Not to mention rules-authors and tinkerers
such as +Antoni Ten Monrós.
What would I bring to
the table? Well, I’d still use Divine Favor for clerical powers, since I
really do love the feel of it. I might tweak out a few things, since as Peter
points out in today’s post over at Dungeon Fantastic, there are a few
potentially fun-killing/fun-reducing aspects of Divine Favor’s Learned Prayers
that could use some tampingdown.
I like the granularity
of the Low-Tech armor and weapons and whatnot, but I am right there with Peter
in thinking that it’s a bit too fiddly. GCA can be used pretty well to design
kits of armor, even very complicated ones. But there’s something rather nice
about NOT having to get crazy with it, and fine tuning each piece gets
complicated.
What about my own rules?
The Deadly Spring for bows is a behind-the-curtain thing. So all that work is
done ahead of time, and won’t interfere with the game much . . . but “realistic”
bows in Dungeon Fantasy? Meh, what’s the point? So I might bypass that in favor
of ridiculous levels of smackdown. More fun that way.
Magic? Ah, there’s the
rub. From what I’ve seen of Ritual Path Magic, I like the feel of the system
but it seems every bit as fiddly as the armor-building issue I talked about
above. I’d be tempted to try a Divine-Favor inspired magic system, but then, really, that’s not that different in fiddly
than Divine Favor or RPM – you’re still creating “spells” based on some sort of
metasystem, and as long as you ruthlessly quash “let me design a spell while I’m
sitting at the table” behavior, it’d probably go fine.
I’d definitely bring on
the Setup Attacks I introduced in Delayed Gratification. I might even eliminate
the RAW Feint entirely. Not sure about that, but likely.
I would probably try to
use Technical Grappling too, since it would be way easier for me to answer future
questions about that book if I’d had experience playing it and adjudicating the
rules!
Would I also do
long-term fatigue and action points, from The Last Gasp? Grar . . . might be
nice, but that would make a LOT of new rules to swallow, and both TLG and TG
require characters to be built with those rules in mind. So I’d probably skip
the Action Point rules this time.
Monster Hunters
This is probably my
favorite genre of all time. It combines creepy horror and magic with a world
that we’re more or less all familiar with, and has the over-the-top  Black Ops feel that I loved when I GM’d that
campaign years ago, without being 1,000-point characters.
I feel like it’s got a
nice combination of swords, guns, and monsters. Action Points and TG would fit
in here pretty well, I’d not have to worry about Low-Tech fiddliness (though I
would have High-Tech fiddles, but that’s rather well defined due to the nature
of it being right-here, right now).
This also lends well to
being an episodic campaign that can see players come and go without too much
pain. Given the variability in modern adult life, I think that would lend
itself well to my needs.
Modern Special Ops
I was Lead Playtester on
Tactical Shooting for a reason: I’m pretty familiar with this trope, and I love
laying out tactical challenges. I could also see doing this as a variable tech
level science fiction setting, Colonial Marines style, and near-future (TL8/9)
Sci Fi is pretty familiar to most people. Hell, given how much fun I had
playing the game, GURPS X-Com would rock on toast.
Parting Shot
I’d obviously see who’d
want to play in each campaign, how often (but no more  than twice a month, but no less frequently
than once every three weeks, I think) and if someone says “hey, wouldn’t it be
cool to run X” and I get inspired, I’m in.
But I really do kind of
want to run a game, and I’d love to get my wife in on it; she’s gamed with me
before and we’ve both enjoyed the experience.
One thing I would do,
however, is have to learn MapTool or Roll20 way, way better. I would also insist
that all players use webcams, because my experience is that the camera experience
is simply better (for me) than the
chat-based games. It’s faster, more social, and for me, more fun.
I’m getting that itch,
though – and it might be time to run something again.

Today we played Pathfinder Pirates, continuing the Skull and Shackles Path. On board were +Jeromy French , +Matt Sutton , +kung fu hillbilly , and +Joshua Taylor .

We more or less talked our way through the session, trying to remember where we’d left off. In the end, we captured a target pirate we’d needed to capture, brought his severed head back to Tidewater Rock, and took over the place by bargain and threat.

We now have two ships to our name (and renamed the second ship, with great irony, “A Simple Plan”, and the desire to fortify and improve Tidewater Rock as our base of operations. The “keep” on that place is more of a tower, and it’s pretty sparse for fortifications, supplies, and the things that would make it a viable base of operations.

So, we are now, I think, on a major deviation from the Adventure Path (though maybe not), and we’re hooking up with some NPCs we befriended (or at least didn’t rob, kill, or both) in our past, looking for a smith, a shipwright or three, and some engineers and masons to help turn our little island into something to fear.

And if that isn’t fun enough, we discovered Google Goofiness. So from now on, I think at least a few of us will be using Roll20 and the associated plug-ins to ensure maximum piratical behavior.

I’m “Pel,” on the left. Makes me want to grow my goatee back.

+Jon Couts messaged me the other day about a question regarding The Last Gasp.

Turns out he’s running an arena combat with the rules, and he allowed me to link to it.

Click the picture to go to the play-by-post arena combat!

Thanks to Jon for giving the rules a try.

I might suggest he try Delayed Gratification (Setup Attacks) instead of the existing Feint rules in a future combat and see what he and his players think . . .

The important thing to me is that AP allowed the spearman to exhaust her foe, and drove some decisions on the part of the knight that he’d rather not have made. Good HT to aid recovery and shake off the impact of injury for AP reduction was a big deal. At times, skill drove the battle; at other times, fitness. A nice mix, I think. Jon also notes that by the end of the fight, Sir Mander’s ST was low enough that he was getting an extra -1 to use his axe because he didn’t meet it’s Min ST. The Last Gasp gives a small bonus to low min ST weapons in that way. If he’d been using a small axe he’d have been fine.