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Category Archives: D&D

I pitched a D&D campaign idea to some of my old group the other day. Partially inspired by Overwatch and HBO’s new take on Westworld, I began to think about a party of warforged gunslingers (this would be a 3.5/Pathfinder hybrid game). There are enough archetypes within the gunslinger class to give a party of 5-7 players a few unique abilities. I think probably a single session, with a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven sort of plot. A group called in to defend a small village against an overwhelming force. I’m going to make this happen. It’s just a question of when. It’s always fun to have a one-shot ready to go should the opportunity arise.

My friends and I are nearing the end of our latest Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and so we’re turning our thoughts to the future of our gaming sessions. Since it’s been a while since the last time I ran a game, I decided that I would take it upon myself to serve as the Dungeon Master for our follow-up game (we take turns so that nobody gets completely burned out by running a campaign every week).

Now I’ve been a fan of pirates for a long time.

In case you hadn't guessed...

In case you hadn’t guessed…

And the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the One Piece manga and anime have served to inspire further ideas. So when it came time to come up with something new for our D&D group, there was really only one logical decision. Pirate campaign it is!

We tried to do one of these before, and it was fun, but the group got too big and unstable. This is going to be an invitation-only thing, because with what I have planned, there’s going to be enough going on with all of the NPCs I’ll be running. Right now, it’s in the development and research phase. I’ve attempted to learn from the mistakes of our last attempt, and so I’m putting as much forethought into it as I can.

Influences: As I’ve mentioned, the two big influences are going to be the Pirates of the Caribbean series and One Piece, with maybe a scattering of Terry and the Pirates and Treasure Island (and as much real history as can possibly be crammed down my players’ throats).

Setting: The primary setting is going to be Faerûn, though I’m open to expanding out from there (namely because I love Warforged, so there will be at least some connection to Eberron), probably via Planescape (because I’ve already toyed with the idea of setting at least one session in the city of Sigil). Most of the shipboard action will take place on the Trackless Sea, and it gives me a lot of room to add some details of my own.

Rules: We’ll be running a hybrid rules system, utilizing our favorite aspects from Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 and 3.5 rules and Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. We’re accustomed to a certain level of character power, so I’m having everyone roll a gestalt character as per Unearthed Arcana.

Additional House Rules: All characters get max HP at each level. Spellcasters DC’s for spells are determined by their remaining highest spell slot/prepared spell (this way a 20th level wizard’s fireball spell is far harder to dodge than an 8th level wizard’s). We tend to waive racial requirements for prestige classes as well.

So yeah. I’m going to be spending a lot of free time building NPC pirates and related characters for a while. Goal is to go some time in January. In the meantime, I’m open to any suggestions.

I’ve accomplished a goal that I’ve had for six years. I finally acquired print copies of the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 core rule books.

Yes, it’s kind of a big deal. There’s something awesome about having the actual books and not having to rely on PDF versions, especially when outlets for laptops are limited in our gaming spaces. Granted, I don’t have as much use for them right now as I would have a few years ago (mostly due to playing a lot of Pathfinder of late). However, I plan (and oddly enough, even hope) to be a parent someday. So when the girlfriend and I finally do have a kid, they’ll eventually be old enough to pick dad’s Player’s Handbook off the shelf. On that day, family game night gets a lot more interesting.

“Honey, get the dice and the video camera. We’ve been waiting for this moment.”

“Remember, offspring, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is antimagic, disintegrate, scorching ray…”

“Two rules. Keep the cleric alive, and never split the party.”

It’s D&D character backstory time again, folks, which means that I’m too busy/lazy to actually type up something completely new/original for your reading pleasure today (read: Skyward Sword is eating my life now that NaNo is over).

This one is for my soulknife, Alexi.

Forty years ago, there was a small group of adventurers who roamed the world of Taesos, combing dungeons and caverns and castles in far countries to gain the knowledge of ancient civilizations. A man named Dorn was one of their number, and upon his return to his home city of Arnes he married and founded a small private university in the large manor that he built with funds dicovered in his travels. It was here that he began to pore over the information that he and his friends had found. Dorn began to study alongside his students and found that with the right training, anyone could accomplish astounding deeds. His school quickly became known as a prestigious adventuring academy.

Not long after, Dorn and his wife welcomed the birth of twin sons, Jack and Alexi. In an unpleasant turn of events of which not even Dorn knows the truth, Dorn’s wife fled Arnes with Dorn’s best friend, Georg, and with Alexi, the elder twin. Dorn was left to raise Jack alone.

Alexi’s childhood was far from dull, however. Living with a wizard honed his mind. He had not the sheer varied talent of his twin, but his mind was unique in that it allowed him to shape weapons out of pure mental energy. This was the latent power that Georg, in reality a powerful illusionist, had sensed within Alexi, leading to the kidnapping.

When he reached the age of eighteen, he set forth with Georg to do battle with his long-lost brother, Jack. After searching for many months, Jack had finally stumbled upon his brother’s trail, deep in the mountains on Nyord’Wrend. Georg and Alexi slaughtered all of Jack’s companions and, in what may have been a brief moment of compassion for his brother, Alexi utilized one of Georg’s own inventions to teleport Jack out of Georg’s hands and back to Nirruna, wiping his memories of Alexi’s hiding place in the process.

Alexi remains a loyal servant to the illusions of Georg, fighting alongside others who have submitted to the will of the wizard. He now journeys across the world looking for potential new allies, making a bold statement of power with each manifestation of his mind blade. Perhaps someday he will encounter his brother, Jack, again, and be able to regain his lost years with his true family.

This just in, folks. My NaNoWriMo word count is up over 5,000.  This means that I’m on track with the goal for the first three days of November, and one tenth of the way through my requisite length. Wow. I just realized that means I only have to write nine more full chapters at this rate. I need to introduce some other characters, or make this book a lot longer than the NaNoWriMo goal… Hmmm…

Oh well. Either way, I’m making good progress, and I’ve already developed a bonus character! I’m actually quite pleased with the way things are going. I’ll keep you all up to date, fear not. In the meantime, work and the job hunt are keeping me just as busy as ever. I’m really looking forward to my next few days off. I’d like to be able to get a little ahead of the word count thing, so that I can slow down on a couple of days, if necessary. Like, you know, that holiday that’s coming up, what’s it called? Thanksgiving! Right, that’s the one.

I’ve got a decent strategy going right now. I’m carrying one of my little Moleskine notebooks, like I’ve been doing for the last year or so, and I’m doing my writing in that during the day. It’s a really convenient way to take notes and build on some things that I’ve had running around in my head since I first came up with the idea for the book back in January. I get stuff on paper, and if I feel pretty good about it, at the end of the day I type it up. I’ve still been using Word for this, despite getting in on the Scrivener beta. I think I’ll probably stick to Word for now, at least until I can get a full version of Scrivener, with a few less bugs. It’s a great program, and I’ll most likely actually even buy the software when it comes out. If you haven’t played around with it yet, I highly recommend it. The built-in tutorial is great. It’s thorough and includes as much dry humor as you’d expect from a British development team.

I’m still cranking my way through A Storm of Swords. Martin’s world maintains its grasp on me, and for good reason. Each chapter, for those of you who haven’t read any of A Song of Ice and Fire, is told from the perspective of a single character. This means that you only see little pieces of the overall action at any given time, but it compels you to keep reading so that you can get to that character’s next part. Of course, in between you have five or six other characters, all of whom are just as powerfully written. It’s genius, and I can’t wait to finish this book so that I can dive into A Feast for Crows.

Anyway, it’s early, but I’ve got an eight hour shift at work that starts in 45 minutes, and roughly 30 of that time is commute. Work work work, right? Well, I’ll be playing D&D for a few hours after that, and I have Saturday off. Best of luck to all you fellow NaNoWriMo participants out there. As the great Canadian sage, Red Green, always says, “Remember, I’m pulling for ya.”

That shouldn’t be a question, when the submission being pondered is a short story for a sci-fi magazine. I’ve been debating what to do with my writing of late, and it seems to me that the most productive thing to do would be to get my name out there. How can this be done? Other than my latest social media addiction, and the upcoming event of the year, I decided that I need to get published.

I’ve already been published, sort of. My senior year at school, I wrote a piece (due to deviantart policies, this one’s tagged with a mature language filter, so non-da members may not be able to see it) in a winterim class that ended up being used in a local publication, Active for Justice. It was just a little mini-newspaper kind of thing, and it included several pieces by my classmates as well. All the same, I’d gotten my name out to more people who hadn’t seen/heard it before. It was a start. I crave more than this.

The question before me now is this: Do I write something completely from scratch, or do I see how they feel about one of my existing (and as cliché-free as possible) microfiction pieces? It’s still open for debate, but I’d definitely love to get something done in advance of the dawn of NaNoWriMo. I am, by the way, registered for this. Be prepared to keep me on my toes when I’ve got my #writing thing going. 😀

Meanwhile, I’m still on the hunt for an actual writing job. Hahahaha. It’s a good thing I’ve still got my sense of humor. I’m trying to get in touch with some local publishers, but I’m not so good at the cold-calling thing. Hell, it took me all day today to gear up to call the Toyota dealer and order parts for my car. I’ll have her back to normal within a week. Stupid parts that there are only one or two of remaining in the country.

Not Pictured: The then-nonexistent drunken handiwork of the idiot who crashed into my parked car.

I’m reading The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Normally, I’m not one for non-fiction, but occasionally, something will catch my eye. In this case, the book is part of the All Pikes Peak Reads list for this year. Seeing as I’d already read The Hunger Games, I thought I should attempt to tackle another one of the books on the list. I saw a copy available yesterday, so here I am. It’s intriguing, honestly. The internet has become such a critical part of most of our lives that we can’t go more than a day or two without it. It’s integrated itself into the infrastructure of our country. Information is constantly available to us, and it’s kind of overwhelming. I grew up in a town where we had to use physical card catalogs for a good portion of my early education. I fell deeply in love with physical media, something that remains unchanged. I want to be a librarian, after all. Still, we also had a computer in our preschool. We had at least one in every classroom, K-12. What started as an option for playing games at recess when it would rain quickly became an all-purpose utility. Now I find it hard to go anywhere without taking my laptop, just in case. Carr is attempting to get his readers to realize that, for all its benefits, the internet may be making us stupid. We skim everything, and as Randall Munroe was quick to point out, we fall into the habit of believing anything we read. I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who feels that maybe, just maybe, they’ve come a little disconnected, despite always being jacked in.

And one for the nerds: D&D is going well. My necromancer is off to a great start. She’s already planning which big undead things she wants for minions in the near future. Most notably right now, is this guy.

"Hey guys! I found a puppy!"

That’s a charnel hound. It’s quite possibly my favorite D&D monster ever. It’s a dog. Made from corpses. That occasionally still move/yell for help. Yeah. And then there’s the fact that any time it kills something, it takes that body into itself, and heals damage by doing so. I love this game. I also found this today. I may have to share this list with anyone who has ever considered DMing/GMing a session of any tabletop role playing game. It could save some friendships.

Do you think I vary too much from topic to topic in each post? I dunno. Maybe, but if one 1,000 word post gets out there with everything I need to say, then it means that you’re saved from five separate 200 word posts. You should rejoice. You probably won’t, but you could at least consider it. My point being, that I had some other stuff I thought about saying here right now, but you’re getting off the hook at 800+ words.

Jetsam:

Commissioned for duty on a ship in a Gnomish navy, Jetsam was designed for ship to ship battle and boarding parties. He quickly rose through the ranks of the other Warforged sailors and soldiers in a desire to prove his existence as worthwhile to his creators. His great dexterity, Mithral plating, and skill with a spiked chain made him feared by any foe who saw his vessel approaching. Within the first year of his “birth” in the foundries, Jetsam found himself promoted to the rank of first mate on board the flagship of his fleet.

Among the Warforged that comprised his fleet, Jetsam was fairly unique in his fondness for humanoid flair and style. He would frequently go to sea in a tricorne hat, long crimson coat, and oilskin boots. Jetsam enjoyed the expression on his opponent’s face when they realized for the first time that they were not in the presence of a human sailor. When the war ended, Jetsam learned that the world had little room for a living construct built for sea battles. Without a navy to serve in, Jetsam found himself metaphorically adrift.

After several months of wandering, providing odd services as a bodyguard or bouncer or enforcer or explorer, Jetsam encountered a band of pirates who were thrilled at the prospect of having a new hand that never needed food or sleep. Jetsam found new purpose in life, hunting around the world for treasure. Tragically, Jetsam’s captain and crew were lost following a great sea-battle. The lone survivor, Jetsam found himself adrift on an island far from his homeland, in a strange realm where none seemed to have heard his name or seen his fearsome sigil flying above the waves. Eventually, without an artificer for support and repair, Jetsam wandered into a cavern filled with towers of chests filled with gold and jewels. Stunned by this vast trove, Jetsam set himself as a watchman, in the hopes that someday another member of his loyal crew might stumble across his location. Perhaps he is there still…Rumors fly of a mysterious humanoid shape carrying an everburning torch staggering out of the ocean on moonless nights and slowly making its way back to the caves in the cliffs, though none have yet been bold enough to venture out to investigate it.

Seriously? Yet another awesome writing thing that I’ve never heard of before? This is getting ridiculous.

For those of you who have played D&D (or other roleplaying games), the concept of character creation is nothing new. You decide on a race, a class, and some equipment, and off you go on your first adventure. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of stuff planned for that character. You never know if she or he will even survive the first encounter with goblins in the woods, but you try anyway. Poor Jor. He never saw that hydra coming.

Anyway, I digress. Sometimes the character you create is something more than just a one-shot hero. Sometimes you want to feel like you know them better than your best friend. That’s when this kind of thing comes into play. About three years ago, my girlfriend’s brother decided he was going to create a D&D world where we could have multiple characters living in different areas. Then, regardless of where in the game world a session would be taking place, we’d have a character who would, theoretically, be close enough to the action to participate. As we would all be creating multiple characters, we decided one of the best things to do would be to establish a character backstory for everyone. Each player was tasked with crafting his or her characters and their individual histories. What was it that brought each one of them to this exact moment? That was our goal. I greatly enjoyed each of them, and I decided that it was high time that I share a little more of my nerdiness with you. Tonight, I present you with the story of Jack, a wandering scholar a la Indiana Jones.

Jack:

Forty years ago, there was a small group of adventurers who roamed the world of Taesos, combing dungeons and caverns and castles in far countries to gain the knowledge of ancient civilizations. A man named Dorn was one of their number, and upon his return to his home city of Arnes he married and founded a small private university in the large manor that he built with funds dicovered in his travels. It was here that he began to pore over the information that he and his friends had found. Dorn began to study alongside his students and found that with the right training, anyone could accomplish astounding deeds. His school quickly became known as a prestigious adventuring academy.

Not long after, Dorn and his wife welcomed the birth of twin sons, Jack and Alexi. In an unpleasant turn of events of which not even Dorn know’s the truth, Dorn’s wife fled Arnes with Dorn’s best friend, Georg, and with Alexi, the elder twin. Dorn was left to raise Jack alone.

Jack’s childhood was far from dull, however. Living in an academy that was made to train adventurers was an intense experience. Jack inherited his father’s brilliance and trained every day to increase his knowledge and his skills in all fields. When he reached the age of eighteen, he set forth with a group of friends to seek out his long-lost brother, Alexi. After searching for many months, Jack finally stumbled upon his brother’s trail, deep in the mountains on Nyord’Wrend. Georg, it seemed, was a powerful illusionist who had sensed a dormant power inside Alexi’s mind and convinced the boy’s mother to leave her husband and younger son and join him in a quest for power.

Georg and Alexi slaughtered all of Jack’s companions and in what may have been a brief moment of compassion for his brother, Alexi teleported Jack out of Georg’s hands and back to Nirruna, wiping his memories of Alexi’s hiding place in the process.

Jack returned home distraught that he has failed to rescue his twin. He set about studying furiously that he might find some way of overcoming Georg and freeing his brother, and someday reunite his broken family. Now he is ready. He has set forth from Arnes once more to right the wrongs and dispose of all in his way, regardless of the cost.

Okay, so I’ve decided that I want one of these. “Come to my office. You must make it through the labyrinth first. If you survive, you can talk to me.”

I’ve got all kinds of ideas for my future home. It may just be the fact that I’m a writer, but I really love the idea of a Victorian style home that still has all kinds of hidden modern technology. It probably dates back to my early childhood, and this book. There’s a fantastic illustration near the center of the book that displays the full exterior of the house in which the main characters reside. I always wanted to live in that house. My sisters and I would even point to windows in the picture, saying “I want that room!” My love for Victorian style homes may also stem from my adoration of so many British authors and the architecture of their homes. I know it might seem a little silly, but I also love the idea of a hidden library/office that I can ideally use to hide from crazy fans of my wildly successful writing. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? Besides, you never know when that wannabe is going to show up.

In addition to my current job, it would seem that someone has finally paid some attention to all of those job applications I submitted. As I believe I said, I didn’t get the job with my bank. That’s okay, it’s not the end of the world. After all, that job really would have been for the money far more than the sheer joy of it. Instead, it looks like I’m going to be working part-time at the closest (hell yeah, short commute for once!) branch of the public library. The best part about this is that it’s a 20 hour a week job that I can work along with my current job. Two places of work where I’ll be surrounded by books…this is glorious.  Granted, I am still holding out for a tech writing job, since that’s kind of why I got my degree. I’ve applied for a couple of different related posts, each of which would be full time and pay almost double what I’m making right now. If I get one of them, I no longer have to worry about finding a roommate. I’d be able to afford this place on my own, with plenty left over even after my other expenses. Maybe I’d even let one of my less fortunate friends stay here with me in the 2nd bedroom, at a considerably reduced rate of rent, say…internet and utilities. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.

I had a good night of D&D tonight. That’s the main reason I’m up still. That, and an inventory shift at work coming up (6 PM-12:30 AM). I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to the next D&D session too, honestly. I love the game. Right now we’re playing three-class gestalt, meaning that our characters are leveling in three classes at once. It’s something we created about two years ago and have played around with a little, since actual rules exist only for single class (standard) and the original variant gestalt, which allowed for leveling in two classes at one time. I like D&D because it lets me get inside the head of a character for a brief while. It’s very akin to writing in that respect. I’ll fully admit that a great deal of my love for the fantasy genre is owed to my fondness for D&D, which in turn stems from my love for the works of people like Tolkien and Lewis (and I still need to read this). My setting is not unlike some worlds in which I’ve adventured as a D&D character. Some of my characters may still someday find themselves in a story, especially those who were just plain fun to play, like Eliza, the cheerful necromancer, who didn’t see her magic as evil, but more as a way to make new friends (or let old friends stay forever). It’s actually quite easy for me to cross over between RPG characters and story characters, since I like every character I create to be fairly round and realistic (within the confines of the setting). Right now, I’m reading Berserk, and I can’t decide if I want some characters the manga is inspiring to be story or game characters.