Monday, February 24, 2014

Pathfinder Mythic Rules

I've been blogging daily on a second blog site for the past 5 weeks, that has almost nothing to do with gaming outside of the name... but blogging daily there has gotten me back into the blogging habit, so I feel like I should revisit this space and start using it again.

(For the interested parties, my other blog is my journal as I try to lose about 100 lbs and get back into shape, you can see it here:

Anyway, back to the point of this post. We've been playing in the new Pathfinder Adventure path for the past few months, and last night finished a big dungeon crawl and leveled/tiered up again.

We have a party of 5, all of us are level 8 and Mythic Tier 3. Here's our party:

Brill, Level 8 Human Life Oracle (that's me)
Dyrfinna, Level 8 Human Stormborn Sorcerer
Torq, Level 8 Half-Orc Rogue
Shegurd, Level 8 Half-Orc Barbarian
Rahz, Level 8 Human Fighter 5/Paladin 3

Overall, my opinion on the Mythic Rules is that they are very interesting, but i'm not sure I appreciate the increased complexity that comes with the massive amount of rules. We've been playing Pathfinder a long time, but with this campaign we're using Ultimate Campaign and Mythic Adventures, and honestly it's a lot to keep up with. I've got a shop in the ruins of our starting city and the downtime issues there are just a chore when added to everything else... armies, rebuilding cities, leveling up in both level and tier. It's a lot!

We're trying to smooth things out a bit, with a combination of 'cheat sheets' that spell out all the various actions we have available, and we've begun work on a 'playbook', to try to script a little of the fights, but of course the only good thing about a plan is that you know it will get thrown out the window as soon as initiative is rolled.

This post is mostly just a pre-cursor though. I'm just getting this out here as an intro, and I'll try to post something about our campaign  every few days. Since we've been in the campaign for a while, I can both post look-backs as well as current events and look-forwards. So I should have plenty of fodder for the first few weeks.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Painting Reaper Bones - Pathfinder Red Dragon

Nearly a year ago, Reaper Miniatures had a ridiculous Kickstarter campaign that I backed, and I ended up with hundreds of plastic, unpainted miniatures.

Once I knew I was getting hundreds of minis, I decided to prep for them, and bought a few of the existing Bones miniatures... a minotaur, gnoll, ogre, and troll, a purple worm, a few skeletons, and some orcs. I played with these, painting them with simple paint jobs and using Army Painter Quickshade on them. They painted up great, looked good, and I was ready to go.

When my Bones came in, I expected to hit the 'workhorse' models first, orcs, goblins, kobolds, undead, vermin... things I can paint really fast, use Quickshade on, get them table-ready.

Instead I painted a dragon.

For those who are interested, Here's my method:

Step one: Assemble and wash
The bigger bones add-ons didn't come assembled, so I glued him together with Gorilla Superglue. I also washed the model with dawn and a soft brush, to get rid of any mold release. I also glued the model to a Gale Force 9 econo-base.

Step two: Basecoat
I mixed up a fairly random medium-dark red out of my airbrush paints and gave the entire model a basecoat of this color.

Step three: Initial Highlight and Shade
I washed the entire model with a coat of Baal Red Wash from Games Workshop and let dry. Once dry I took GW Mechrite Red and then GW Blood Red and drybrushed the entire model in the two shades.

Step Four: Chest
I painted the entire set of chest plates with GW Snakebite Leather, then drybrushed with GW Golden Yellow, Higlighted the edge plate with GW Sunburst Yellow, then once dry washed the entire chest with GW Gryphonne Sepia

Step Five: Horns, Teeth, and Claws:
Based with GW Bleached Bone, Then hit the edges with GW Devlan mud and a touch of highlight with GW Skull White

Step Six: Wings
Multiple layers of work here, with two layers of GW Devlan Mud, two layers of GW Black Wash, once overall, and once just in the creases. Two layers of GW Red Glaze followed. A very light drybrush of GW Blood Red and then finished with a final wash of GW Devlan Mud.

Step Seven: Eyes
I over-painted the eyes with a large oval of GW Sunburst Yellow, Made the Pupil with a dot of GW Scorpion Green, and then an iris of GW Chaos Black.

Step Eight: Details
The tongue was painted GW Tentacle Pink and then washed with GW Baal Red. Eyes were outlined with Chaos Black. Small protrusions down the neck and around the eyes were painted Chaos Black, and the Arm claws were outlined with Chaos Black.

Step Nine: Base
The stone was painted with a series of hand-mixed greys, based and drybrushed. Several inks were used as well, primarily GW Devlan Mud and  GW Badab Black. The statue head was based GW Bleached Bone and then washed multiple times with GW Ogryn Flesh and GW Gryphonne Sepia. Finally, I used TableMaster Base Treatment: Blasted Earth over much of the existing base and the econo base.

At this point I took the picture above.

Final tweaks (not shown):
Lots of shading done on the base with GW Devlan Mud. Some washes applied to the model itself, another red glaze on the wings, some more ink here and there. Once dry, I sealed the entire model with 'Pledge with Future Shine' aka Future Floor Polish, and then sprayed it with Army Painter Anti-shine.

1 model done. Hundreds left to go.

Friday, August 24, 2012

D&D Next Playtest Session 1 tomorrow!

So tomorrow I will start the first session of our D&D Next Playtest.

The plan currently is to focus on character creation, letting everyone roll stats (4d6 drop lowest as you like. Despite the name of my blog I'm not going to require 3d6 in order. D&D Next has some roots in the OSR, but they don't go that deep, apparently!)

My daughter has espoused interest in Humans, Elves, and Halflings for race, and Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, and Sorcerer for class. I'm only somewhat surprised she has limited herself so much.

After we make characters, I'll probably run an off-the cuff origin story for each of them individually that gets them in the same place, and have the first meeting of the PCs.

Monday, August 20, 2012

D&D Next?

While my Arena game never got off the ground for a multitude of reasons, I did just sign up for the D&D Next playtest. And to avoid the issues involved with trying to get a gaming group together, I've decided to run D&D Next for my family (Wife, 17-year old son, and 10-year old daughter).

We'll start with the basic intro module and either pre-gens or homemade characters.

I've downloaded the playtest packet, but done nothing else. However, I will be posting about this here, assuming there isn't an NDA or other issue preventing me from doing so. Time to read more!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I like to watch smaller numbers turn into bigger numbers as a hobby.

So, in most D&D campaigns, you are watching numbers go up...

Primarily, your XP and your Gold, but also your Saves, your AC, your stats, your to-hit, your damage, your save DC's.

For My Dark Sun campaign, there won't be the usual suspects of Gold and XP. I'm fairly certain I'll be giving levels to players via fiat and not standard XP awards, because there will only be one-two fights per session. I'm not certain how I'm going to handle XP yet, but it is very doubtful that it will be a numeric award.

Gold (or more accurately, Ceramic) won't even be up for debate. The players are slaves, any wealth they earn will be enjoyed by their owners.

So, what numbers will the players be watching go up?

FANS: This is how many people in the crowd love *you* more than anyone else fighting. They have your poster on the wall, they want to catch your helmet when you throw it into the crowd, etc. While everyone in the crowd will have an opinion on you, these are the people that you've earned, and you'd have to betray them to lose them.

FAME/INFAMY: This is how well known you are. How many people know you, regardless of how they feel about you. You earn fame points every time you do something impressive/shocking/etc. All fame/infamy awards are added together to get a total fame, but the difference between them is what the crowd thinks of you... high fame and you're a 'good guy', high infamy and you're a 'bad guy'. If you get a lot of fame and infamy, the crowd doesn't know exactly what to think of you though, and you'll be less famous because of it. In general, you want to either play the 'face' or the 'heel', and not try to take a middle ground.

WIN/LOSS RECORD: this is your number of fights won vs your number of fights lost. Like any good boxer or martial artist, your professional record is important. A long string of losses can have you put out for retirement. An unbroken string of victories can push you up into title matches. While all wins and losses will be tracked, the real factor is in 1-v-1 or 2-v-2 duels. Those are the ones that 'really' count.

VALUE: This is how much money you've earned your patron. Every fight has betting odds, and each fighter will be a favorite or an underdog. Factors will determine  how much money is bet on you, with the more being bet, the more you're worth win or lose. In some cases, agents of your owner will bet directly on you, allowing certain fights to greatly increase (or decrease) your value.

All fighters are working to increase their fans, their fame (or infamy), their win streak, and their value. At some point, you'll be worth enough money, or be famous enough, that you could engineer your release/freedom, and the way to do that is through continued success.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Finish Him!

So one of the things that I really like the idea of is a 'Finishing Move'. Something over the top and flashy that makes the crowd go wild.

Now, 4e D&D is all about the finishing moves, they just call them 'Daily Powers'. However, a Gladiator using a Daily Power as a finisher isn't exactly inspired, cinematic combat. As such, here are my thoughts on Finishing Moves...

A Finishing Move is something that makes you famous. A fighter can work on a finishing move and try it out, but more commonly, the crowd may see a brilliant maneuver and decide that's the finishing move for the fighter.

So, what's a finishing move? Well, first of all, it's a sequence of at least three Standard Actions, with any number of move or minor actions as well. The more actions in a move, the harder it will be to pull off, but the more 'Crowd Pleasing' it will be.

Secondly, a finishing move has to FINISH your opponent. Most duels will be to either first blood or to the death. If you have a 4-round finisher, and you kill/bloody your opponent on the second hit, you didn't 'finish' him. The crowd will 'oooh' in anticipation, but they'll let out a collective groan when the foe falls too soon.

Thirdly, a Finishing move has to 'Start' dramatically. The first round of a Finishing move should tell the crowd you mean business. A daily power might start a finishing move, but an At-will power alone never will. However, a Finishing move *could* start with a move action to get adjacent to a previously un-engaged opponent, a minor action to draw two weapons and flourish them over your head, and finally an at-will power to make the first attack. The key here is that when you start a Finishing Move, you're committing to something for the crowd. As a new gladiator, you won't have a crowd-known finisher, so they won't be building up as they watch you... but if you start using the same finisher more than once, they'll start to look for it.

Fourth, a finishing move can evolve. As you gain powers, or find yourself in slightly different situations, you can make minor changes/additions to your finisher 'on the fly' and still have it 'count'. You can't change it too much, though, or the crowd will be disappointed that you flubbed your move.

Once you've developed one or more Finishing Moves, you can utilize them in the arena. If every attack roll of your Finishing Move hits, and you win the fight with the final attack, the crowd is going to go wild. You'll get a multiplier on the number of Fame/Infamy points you'd normally get for winning, for one. You'll pick up more Fans... arena enthusiasts who pull for you above all other fighters. Fans and Fame/Infamy are the out-of-combat stats that determine your value to the powers that be. The higher these go, the better your life becomes.

Failed finishing moves... ones that miss somewhere in the chain, or if you get 'knocked out' of them by a big maneuver, or if they fail to finish/finish too soon generally mean no bonus/no penalty. However, should you fumble the last move, or get beaten mid-finisher, then the truly epic failure could cause you to lose fans as they see their hero totally screw the pooch.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some of the 'Special Rules' for my Arena Game

So, I'm polishing off some of the rules changes for the Dark Sun game... here are my core assumptions:

Assumption 1: All of the players are gladiator slaves, and none of them hold any ranking... all are fresh off the boat, so to speak.

The players need to determine why they are here, what their initial motivation is (survival, escape, martial excellence, whatever). They'll need to have a brief history (where are they from, will anyone come look for them, what is their name).

Assumption 2: Slaves can be of any race or class, within reason.

Players will have free access to all player races and classes that make sense for the game... Eladrin, with their ability to teleport at will, for instance, aren't exactly high on the list of slaves. No slaver would get very far selling goods that escape the next day. As far as classes, Divine and Arcane power sources are completely out. Divine simply does not exist, and no Arena Master would risk putting a Defiler on the arena grounds.

Assumption 3: The players will be known to be different.

The city the players are in is not Tyr, where everyone is free. This will be a brutal City-State ruled by a Sorcerer-King, with nearly 100% of the population as human, and only 10% or so truly free. The PCs will be marked not only by their race (if non-human), but all gladiator slaves will be marked in some way that they can't easily escape into the crowds. The PCs will stand out.

Assumption 4: The way to power is fame/infamy

All players will start out as unknowns, thrown into one of the giant melees designed to please the crowd with a ridiculous amount of death and bloodshed, and will need to prove themselves worthy to make it out of that bloodbath alive and worth being trained. Starting as unknown underdogs, they will need to position themselves to become known, with flourishes, attack patterns, over-the top styles just to be noticed... and then they will need to pick their enemies, going after the well-loved fighters can earn you infamy, while supporting them can grant you fame. Either way, whether loved or hated by the crowds, you'll be a draw, and with a draw comes bigger bets, larger crowds, and more attention from the people that matter.

Assumption 5: This isn't about gear

Players won't have posessions. Armor and Weapons will be ephemeral, limited to what the arena masters grant you for the fight. As such, players will use the alternate advancement tables instead of relying on magical gear. In addition, weapon and armor breaking will be MUCH more prevalent than the rules imply... not only will weapons break on fumbles, they can also shatter on criticals, be targeted for a sunder, thrown across the arena on a disarm, or just wear out through long use. Battles might involve higher quality weapons that can last an entire duel, but it is just as likely you'll be forced to fight with fists and feet, or scavenge other weapons from downed foes. Think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, where the weapons used were varied and many.

Assumption 6: Relationships with the arena staff will be key

While the types of fights held (duels, skirmishes, obstacle courses, death runs, king of the hill) can change, and can the 'random' weapons and armor, and the specialized training before the fight... it isn't necessarily fair. If you have good relationships with the beast master, you can learn the monster of the week. If you and the weapons master came to an agreement, your favored weapons may be chosen for the battle, and if you've bribed the drill instructor, he may train you in climbing if he knows a king of the hill is your next task. Conversely, bad relationships could have them choose to go against you in the 'random' selections.

More to come...