Wednesday, November 22, 2017

5e and the Online Thespian Generation

An article over at The Verge is connecting the rise of 5e and RPG liveplays, largely the popular video and live streaming actual plays found on YouTube and Twitch.

I can't argue with that.  If the new (and returning) generations of players are making D&D have its most profitable year ever in an Amazon-related world, it makes sense that they are turning to online instant gratification.  In part, it's solid entertainment value, but it's also the "How do we play this thing?" that we grognards with the blue ink module maps and cheesy dice in the boxed sets longed to have answered in our early days.

The problem, of course, is that these players are being deceived.  Despite all the plot-driven fantasy storylines, the angst-driven brooding, the old school renaissances, and the indy-press revolutions, unless you and your friends are a bunch of improv masters, voice-over actors, and card carrying members of SAG with wicked editing skills, your weekly sessions will than likely carry out like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off running a combat.

Having just been to a convention with plenty of old school and new wave gamers in attendance, I'm quite certain that many were fans of the liveplay series, but very little of their own pedestrian games would warrant their own camera and Twitch channel.

That includes all the My Little Pony games I ran on the Kid's track.  There's 30 seconds or so of video of me running one of those sessions, and despite my 25 years experience and the session being entertaining for all the players, I'm not setting up my own channel to broadcast future MLP games.

I am biased towards the radio-play style that traditional podcasts present gaming sessions in.  There are two things, however, that I keep in mind when listening them.  1) Audio editing can turn enjoyable games into gold, and in reverse, a lack of it and kill a game with promise.  2) The traditional players from podcasts like Skype of Cthulhu are always going to sound like their struggling when put up against professional improv players from the Campaign Podcast.

I always hearken back to a phrase I used repeatedly on this blog, "I'm not the demographic they're targeting." 

What could have been cool a decade or two ago has now vanished from my horizon.  Celebrity gamers (save the game designers themselves) loose their fascination with me, especially when the meat of many of those games is so dry.  Whether its failing to grok Fantasy Flight Star Wars dice, or belittling a setting like Rifts when their own personal favorites fall equally flat in execution, I can only hope the players at the online table have a good time.

So whether you're playing 5e, Pathfinder, or PotA, enjoy the gameplay, and try not to overdramatize the game when a simple 5-ft move or a timely punch in the face will do.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

(Kickstarter) Ducks Lost in the Dungeon of Doom IV: Quack Keep

Some things are great concepts, but are a little harder in ther delivery such as Darcy Perry/Star Hat Miniatures/5th Wall Games and Miniatures Ducks Lost in the Dungeon of Doom IV: Quack Keep.
The core of this campaign is in three parts.  First, an adventure module Quack Keep by the famed Jennell Jacquays riding on her on a slightly warranted professional theme that she "was pretty much labeled as that designer and artist who did the ducks."

Second, is a re-offering of the original five duck miniatures from the Dungeon of Doom III Kickstarter with five new duck characters rounding out the final portion of the offering.

I like them all, but after finally figuring out the conversion for  Canadian Dollars, Euros, and British Pounds, converting from Kiwi Dollars (with the even with Kickstarter's help) is hurting my tiny brain.  It takes a bit, but the ten dollars for the pdf of the module and six dollars or less per figure (plus shipping and handling from New Zealand) isn't too bad. 

Ballad of the Pigeon God #33: Dag and Brutus Have an Adventure

10 DuoDec 1071 Village of Welldale, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Dag - Kobold acolyte of Akana.  Dutiful husband and father of two.
Brutus - NPC - gigantic, but not-to-bright ex-gladiator who is loyal to the Heroes of the Chateau d'Echelon.
Norm Dingleberry - Nose-picking Dwarven Warrior
Echelon -  Only the current Baron of Eding.  Nothing special.  Eccentric cleric of a distant eastern god of the sea.

Dag DiVelandro - Kobold Warrior of Akana
DAG WRITES IN BOOK.  Yaah!!!  I ate bird
too day Big man is here.  Calls me Bag and Sag.
Jeny hate Dag.  Jeny is magistrate.  Lookin for
sherif.  Go to Lowdale.  To Welldale.  I ride with
Dwarf.  He Smelley.  AAHHHH! Srceam of little guy.
Cursed town.  Scary.  Wierd peopLe.  Sand and
Magic.  Lady at well casting magi.  Bye sade lute
man!  WELL DRY.  THUD!  Little Girl!
Smelly House.  Broker House.  Norm falls in Hole.
Echemon fall to.  DAG HELP TO.  Talis Strong!
Back to town.  Bad spider hurt DAG.  Screams.
Echemon fly from hole.  All is Good?
Me Lost!  Oh Well... Bye bye!!

DM Notes: The biggest issue I had compiling this was that  it was written out of the journal, creating trouble placing this in chronological order.  The page was pretty snug in the pages that should make up episodes #35-37, but that creates some paradoxes.  Placing it during the "Baronial Duties" arc of the campaign is certainly more historically accurate.  

Couldn't tell you what the actual adventure was, but any excuse  for the simpler life in the halfling dales (Lowdale, Welldale, and Elmshire) that are under the jurisdiction of the Baron of Eding were fine with me.  Most visits to those villages were self-contained scenarios, with only the slightest drizzle of campaign continuity.  

Two more notes:  Dag is the most virtuous, most heroic character in the campaign.  He starts out as a terrified kobold, trying to hide, then defend his family.  He moves onto to comic relief and the role of the group's cute puppy, his family acting as a companion to Timmy.  Here, he's back to comic relief, being run by Velandro's (his lord's) player, but he's relatively effective.  

Second, Brutus is a one-trick pony NPC that rarely got mentioned in the journal, but he should have.  Ex-merc, ex-gladiator, picture Razor Ramon from wrestling, but with a heart of gold.   He was a bit of a simpleton that always got people's names wrong (hence Bag and Sag references above), but in world of spider-people dopplegangers, his loyalty and skill with a sword were unquestioned.  
Give him some chain mail and a bastard sword, and you have Brutus.
Next #34 - The Taxmen Delivereth

Monday, November 20, 2017

(Kickstarter) Russian Village from Things From the Basement

Tales From the Basement has produced some wonderful laser-cut buildings and accessories, but now they've launched their first-ever Kickstarter for a Russian Village. 

Whether you want the full set for $220, a mix-and-match for at least $100, or a mix-and-match starting at a buck (plus increased shipping), there are plenty of options to choose from.  

The Russian cabins are calling my name, but the campaign ends a week before Christmas.  

(Review) Games and Stuff, Glen Burnie, Maryland

The girls had yet another long-distance gymnastics meet this past weekend, and with my wife's transmission debacle for the last meet (over Fall-In! weekend), her subsequent new car, and the offer of staying over at some relatives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C, I knew I couldn't resign myself to just watch the dogs and rake some leaves. 

As is the family tradition with the drives below the Mason-Dixon line for meets, my wife always needs to acquire three things at a store the en route to the hotel (or her Aunt and Uncle's place for this event).

  • Hair ties
  • Hair spray
  • White socks
Just hitting the early dinner rush passing through Baltimore, my wife asked for dinner recommendations (insert the couple's who can't choose meals meme of your choice), and I decided to take an exit towards Glen Burnie and see where we ended up for food, and a drug store for the supplies.  

After meandering on the highways a bit, we got off, noticed a few fast food joints, and investigated a strip mall.  Initially, I was delighted to find a Dollar General for the supplies, but as I navigated around the tight little parking lot, an adjacent sign caught my eye:
Imagine it dark, and the green letters with a neon-like glow to them.
While my wife took Millie in Dollar General, Maja and I investigated this strange phenomenon.  Upon entering, we were hit by this sight:
Sweet Freakin' Jesus, I've reached the modern gaming Nirvana.

We were met by stacks of some the more recent board/card games releases, but that first rack in the front of the picture are all family games (re: normal games that mundane people can play and not get weirded out.)  The only two things that the well-visited store didn't seem to have that people inquired about?  Rubik's Cubes and Sorry, and unlike most FLGS, it wasn't that they didn't normally stock it, it was that they were current sold out and getting more. 

Keeping a close eye on an equally excited Maja, we began to explore, and found the biggest permanent set-up for mins-painting that I have ever seen. 
An actual permanent painting/modelling center. 
The minis section occupied the entire right third of the store with GW, Warlord, Malifaux, Battletech, Infinity, Star Wars, Frostgrave, and a host of other lines.  Everything well stocked and with easily visible prices. 

I peaked through the double doors of the storefront to find a gaming area of equal.  Plenty of room for wargames and CCGs, but the thing that caught my eye was the permanent counter where tourney organizers/judges could sit and take care of everything.

The middle third of the storefront could be called a safe space for beginning Warhammer moms.  The previously mentioned traditional games, stacks of non-threatening board games, and a few racks of pop culture tchotchkes and small games. To be truthful, if the Warhammer mom brought a younger sibling, this a varied and amusing version of the candy rack at the checkout that's right behind it. 

The register area was huge, with two registers and an entirely separate area for CCG singles.  I counted at least five employees working the store: one running the wargaming tournament in the back, two alternating the register, one handling the CCG singles crowd, on one fellow who's only job was to give a friendly, but passive greeting to new customers a few moments after they entered the store, and possibly be empathetic enough to those who really had a questions/interest/problem he could help out with.  For most customers, we were given a smile and a hello, and we were left to wander the store unmolested.   

The left third of the storefront is dominated by a fantastic RPG section that realizes that there have been a LOT of games made alongside D&D, and has been given the proper space.  It was the first time I could peruse a few lines in a store-environment, such as a wide array of Trail of Cthulhu products.  In fact, a number of items just solicited for next month's Game Trade Magazine are already on the shelves. 

Intermixed with all the next books was a fair collection of used or even vintage RPG material, much of it priced in the reasonable middle ground between Noble Knight prices and local con dollar auctions. Nothing was a bargain, but most items that caught my eye gave me pause to consider a budget on a return visit. 

To complicate matters for any future finances, was a section of used board/wargames. 
A used section with solid prices 
Again, nothing was dirt cheap unless it was clearance, but the prices were acceptable.
Any store with a copy of Elfquest gets kudos by me!
My wife and Millie returned, got to gaze in wonder and bewilderment all their own, and we left with some Pokemon cards for Maja and single pack of Magic for myself.  I couldn't justify adding more books to the shelves, or minis to the table, but by golly, there was opportunity.  

I don't give out five out of five gnomes for many game stores.  Pop's Culture Shop up in Wellsboro, PA was my first because it was the perfect mixture of small town gaming store that could cater to tourists and non-gamers as well.    

Games and Stuff is the realization of that type of shop in an urban setting.  I counted somewhere between two and three dozen walk-in customers and they accounted for a constant and varied amount of sales.  There was always someone checking out at the register for 30-40 minutes of my stay.  Let me rephrase that to all the other local game stores that focus on their in-store gaming and gamers.  While the tournament people played in the back, all of the store's revenue was getting generated by other people. You can have it both ways if you're willing to invest the time and the inventory.  

Or perhaps Games and Stuff should just be a template that other FLGS can aspire to be and still maintain their own identity.  

My wife's first words to me when she came in summed up my opinion of Games and Stuff:  "This is exactly the store you would have if you could open one yourself."  

I could only nod and giggle... and give them Five out of Five Gnomes.

Games and Stuff is located 7385 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard Suite G
Glen Burnie, MD 21061.  Their phone number (410) 863-7418.

And to finish up the reason for our meandering, we found an acceptable IHOP, visited the relatives the girls earned two golds, two silvers, and a host of lesser awards at their meet, and we managed to stop at Primanti Bros. in York for a great lunch before returning home.  After back-to-back con weekends and car problems, this was a great family weekend.  

Those leaves will wait until December. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

How Do You Teach Gene Simmons?

Last week was Open House at the kids school.  We have the beneift of living in a great school district, so events like this over-attended to an extreme.  Back in the day, my Mom could handle the open house for both my sister and I, but here it's seems required to have Mom, Dad, all kids, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Sid, and everyone who ever babysat the children... and all of them come in their own car.

We snuck into the school in the last twenty minutes, got all the expected accolades for our kids from the teachers, and got out before anyone noticed the PTA fundraisers.

The high point for me was spotting Millie's 1st Grade "When I grow up" story.  While they encourage the children spelling however they can sound out the words, I find it amusing that she replaced "kids" with "kiss."


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Steve Jackson OGRE Minis Kickstarter Snafu

With the OGRE Minis Set 2 recently launching, it was amusing and reassuring to get the following regarding certain pledge levels from Ogre Minis Set 1:

Update #69

Nov 16 2017
We Goofed!
Posted by wolf90

As many of you have already noted in the comments and on the forums, we have made an error in shipping some pledges. Those of you that backed at the Veteran level have ended up with not one, but two copies of Ogre Sixth Edition and Ogre: Operation 218. In our zeal to get the game into your hands as soon as possible we shipped that part of the reward at the end of last year. Somewhere along the line the fact that you had already been sent those products got lost in translation. We then sent you a second copy of these games with the Ogre Miniatures Set 1 shipment. Whoops!
A number of you have offered to send the second copies back to us. Although we deeply appreciate the sentiment, that is neither necessary nor desired. Our error should not be your problem. Please keep the games.

That said, a couple of you have suggested an idea that we would like to pass along: seeing as we are entering the holiday season, complete with the exchanging of gifts, we would ask that you consider passing the game along as a gift to another. It could be a family member; a gaming buddy; the cute guy that lives in #203; a school or town library; a senior center; the pediatric ward at the local hospital; or any of a gazillion other options. We love our game and we know you do as well. Consider spreading that love, and helping others to appreciate the game as much as we do, rather than simply posting it for sale online. In this manner our gaffe is redeemed into a worthwhile endeavor.

Ogre, and gaming in general, is a social activity. Everyone wins when more people take the time to play some games. Perhaps that was the plan all along . . .
- Drew Metzger

While Steve Jackson Games can absorb the double-shipment far better than many Crowdfunding companies, it's nice to see their response to the effort and the general promotion and caretaking of the hobby.  

Sherlock Gnomes (2018) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

This would not be proper blog about gnomes without linking to the trailer for "Sherlock Gnomes."
Working on the stats for Squirrel Camo now.

Friday, November 17, 2017

(Kickstarter) Kids on Bikes RPG

A love for Stranger Things and Eighties nostalgia has made the "Kids on Bikes" trope a actual game genre, so it's no surprise to find such a blunt title used in the Kids on Bikes RPG: Strange Adventures in Small Towns Kickstarter, recently launched by Infectious Play.

Kids on Bikes is a 60 page, rules-light, fast-paced storytelling game in the spirit of games like DREAD, Perseverant, MONSTERHEARTS, and other great indy titles. Kids on Bikes is perfect for game nights in which you want to get a game in RIGHT NOW. 

(Kickstarter) Acheson’s Kongo-Afrika

Acheson Creations LLC has teamed-up with Two Hour Wargames to bring their new Fortunes Won and Lost rule book to life on the game table.

Kongo-Afrika is 25-28mm accessories for adventures in Africa, including animals, river boats, and natives. There are a few sets available to save money, but for a $10US base pledge to cover shipping, everything can be done a la carte.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

(Review) My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria Storytelling Game

There are not too many new RPGs that I  seek out, nowadays.  Limited gaming time means little time to experiment with new games.  Lucky for me, I have two daughter, ages 6 and 8, who have actively played all types of games since the age of two, ranging from wargames, boardgames, and RPGs.

I started their role-playing with my own hastily hashed and adepted system, T.I.A.R.A. (Toddler Interactive Adventure Resolution... Adventure!  As I looked to expand their horizons, I realized that D&D was too cumbersome after a few Dungeons and Ponies session, and we've since settle down to a very successful run with Savage Worlds/Showdown.

The thing that originally attracted me to Savage Showdown?  A pleasant surprise that it wildly resembled and improved upon my T.I.A.R.A.

With both of my girls now in grade school, I was excited by the release of the My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria Storytelling Game (MLP).  A well-loved license of something the girls love was worth spending the cash.

I was not disappointed. In some similar ways, MLP is a similar divergence from T.I.A.R.A.

Before I go into a chapter by chapter breakdown of the book, I want to praise the writing style of the book.  With a book that can be loved by children, adults, gamers, non-gamers, and... I'll say it, Bronies, the writing is clear enough for each group to feel welcome, without oversimplifying or talking down to any of the readers.  I enjoyed reading the book as much as my eight-year old daughter, Maja.

Chapter by Chapter
Chapter 1: Introduction
The authors present aa solid explanation of what role-playing is, a full list of  "gaming supplies", including pencils, tokens of friendship ... and dice! Sure there's a page of some non-subtle but toleratble promotion of the GM Screen, other supplments, and even promoting Hasbo's own figurines.  It's a licensed product.  I would be confused if it was missing.

Chapter 2: Creating Your Own Pony Character
Basic character creation creates ponies that have just received their cutie marks.  Yes, there are rules for making the Cutie Mark Crusadeers, as well as samples later in the book providing stats for the Mane Six (the experienced main characters of the television show).

Chapter 2 covers the step-by-step process, and I must commend the editors for ensuring each step has page numbers referencing the later chapters covering each step (and they're accurate).  My daughter can easily pop back and forth, as needed, when she's creating characters

Chapter 3: Pony Kinds
Players can choose from three pony types:  Unicorns, Pegasi, and Earth Ponies.   Unicorns have telekinesis, Pegasi can fly, and Earth Ponies are Strong and with a Stout Heart.  Each  player also chooses one of the six Element of Harmony.  Alicorns are not available as characters.

Chapter 4: Elements of Harmony
Players then choose one of the Elements of Harmony (Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Loyalty, and Magic) for their pony.  The element have no mechanical use, rather they are used to form the background of the pony's personality.

Chapter 5: Traits & Stamina
Each pony has three stats, known in the game as traits:  Body, Mind, Charm.  The stats are established by the players choices in character creation, quite simply, is their pony more physical or mental, and then is adjusted by the pony type.  Everyone starts with the same Charm.  The numbers for Traits equal the appropriate die to roll to make a test or challenge. (a 6 Body rolls d6, 4 Mind rolls d4.  See Chapter 7 below for more).

Stamina is a flat number (based upon traits and pony type) that tracks your exhaustion and injuries taken during your adventures.  There's no death in MLP.  Going down to zero stamina forces the pony to rest, possibly not be able to finish a task, or even getting captured.

Chapter 6:  Friendship
One of the great devices in MLP are the Tokens of Friendship.  My first thought of them are Bennies from Savage Worlds on steroids.  Using one token, you can reroll, using two can reroll using a d20, and three is an automatic success!    Tokens may also be used to change to storyline to make things better (a missing item that could help the group), subject to gamemaster approval.

What makes the Tokens far better than Bennies is two-fold.   First, the sharing of Tokens between the players (three players throwing in Tokens for an automatic success) is actively encourage.  Second, for Tokens, Friendship is literally magic.  At the start of the game, each pony gets Tokens equal to the total number of players at the table (gamemaster included).  Playing in a larger group (up to six) means the ponies can be far more successful than going out in pairs or solo adventures.

Chapter 7:  Tests & Challenges
Actions are resolved by either Tests, where a pony rolls their trait against a target number, or Challenges, where two sides make opposed rolls to see who wins.  The Difficulty chart is pretty simple, and gives the players to see what experienced ponies are capable of doing.

Chapter 8:  Talents & Quirks
The sixteen Talents are special abilities that ponies can use in gameplay, such as Cloud Wrangling, Pony Sense, and Speak with Animals.  Multiple levels of Talents can be earned, raising the die rolled for checks.

The seventeen Quirks (with many more that can be created) are explained as simply the bad version of Talents (Messy, Short Attention Span, Needs Glasses as examples) which could create problems for the pony.

Chapter 9:  Pony Names, Cutie Marks & Portraits
Two quick pages that round out the character creation process.  It gives an example of how a player could develop a pony name, design a cutie mark, and having some fun drawing your pony on an official MLP character sheet.

Chapter 10: Equipment & Money
Despite rolling for starting money ("bits") put the rulebook itself reminds the readers that many ponies have no gear to go on adventures.  It is useful to remind the gentle reader that you need to put those jar of Ponybalm somewhere in order to regain stamina faster, or soothe your asthma quirk while you're travelling in the deep woods.

Chapter 11:  Levels & Leveling Up
Leveling up occurs whenever the group finishes the adventure (so make them worthwhile).   Not only does a pony increase one trait by a die level and all your talents upgrade a die as well, but you can either further upgrade an existing talent or add a new talent altogether.  On top of that, the ponies earn Tokens of friendship equal to the number of player (plus GM) for that adventure, and adds that to whatever Tokens were left at game's end.

The chapter also alludes to epic quests after reaching Level 10, as well as the rules to play Level 0 Ponies (The Cutie Mark Crusaders from the show).

Chapter 12:  Adventuring Tips and Tricks
Chapter 12 is nothing more than some guidance for players, particularly new ones.  Most of the advice is pretty standard fare that even the most experienced player can read as a refresher, especially Be Different... but Not Too Different.

Adventure Module - The Pet Predicament
The starter adventure in the book is a simple task for the new ponies... pet-sit the animals of the Mane Six as they leave Ponyville for greater adventures.  Of course, the animals get away and most of the scenario is the group retrieving them.  A very solid adventure, with many different facets and directions, setting for the high standard of the definition of an adventure for purposes of leveling.  Rescuing Granny Smith's apple cart, or defending the villages from a lone mischievous imps should just be the first steps in the adventure.

Appendix - Other Stuff:  For those without dice, the authors have provided entire pages of printed results for each die type, so players could simply close their eyes and randomly point at a numbers.  Also mentioned are other products in the MLP:ToE line, and, as expected, and a pony sheet ready for photocopies.

Artwork: The artwork is a mixture of stock Hasbro art for My Little Pony and some new original pony art from Luigi Terzi.  Since the game is focused on new ponies, rather than the Mane Six, I would have liked to see more original art giving inspiration to the various styles of pony characters

Physical Construction 152 page hardcover that has thus far survived three people pouring through it.

With every being covered, it's simple to believe that on the Gaming with the Gnomies Five-Gnome scale, I give My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria Storytelling Game five gnomes. It's well laid out, well written on multiple levels, and my kids love playing it.  

My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria Storytelling Game by Alessio Cavtore, Dylan Owen, and Jack Caesar.  Published by Shinobi 7 in the US for River Horse Games.  ($34.99 US)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

(Kickstarter) Marauder Task Force Role-Playing Game

Marauder GR, maker of 1/18th scale action figures, has launched a Kickstarter for a skirmish and/or role-playing for those figures.

The Marauder Task Force RPG allows for basic skirmish action, or a campaign mode to customize and improve on the soldiers in the unit.

(IOU) "Chet"

Chet is Cthulhu’s half brother. Chet is a stereotype of a slacker hippie. He has his tentacles pulled back and like dreadlocks, is barefoot, large pot belly, smelly, dirty shirt (which is a midriff) and always looking to score some reefer. He is a philosophy major with little ambition. He is often seen on the quad playing ultimate Frisbee with his friends. He has followers from the religious studies who claim he is “the one”, not his brother, but he often just tells them to relax and uses them to do his bidding like getting him “grind-edge” or more pot to smoke.

Gaze of Contentment (4) While Cthulhu brings fear and insanity, Chets gaze and long term presence to a group brings a feeling of extreme relaxation and desire to stop all actions.
You Put Your Weed in There Man (3)You put your weed in there man – Chet is an expert with spatial abilities, hiding things well and packing things extremely well. On a perfect roll of 6’s on 3 D6 he unwillingly opens a dimensional door to an unknown location where anything seems to fit at the moment.
I Know You Man! (2) Chet knows most people on campus and people often feel at ease around him. If he asks them questions they often just divulge the information he wants without hesitation trusting him at the moment.
Bring the Pain (1) Chet tries not to be like his relatives (the elder gods) and wants to be more passive. However, when watch out when someone steals the Bee man. Though he is not in touch with his more aggressive self, sometimes when he gets mad a pillar of fire rains down from the heavens upon his target of anger.

Seriously, there's not a hippie Cthulhu picture on the internet? Then we'll refer back to the last known picture of the Elder Dude, from his fresh-thing year, with a little extra Pauly Shore for good measure:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

(Kickstarter) OGRE Miniatures Set 2

My pledge for the first set is still floating around Pennsylvania by USPS, but Steve Jackson Games has launched their second set of plastic OGRE Miniatures.

While the first campaign took awhile for the stretch goals to turn it into a steal, the second wave jumps out the gate firing on all cylinders.  A $40 pledge for 60 minis and FREE US SHIPPING is a steal, but the real glorious chaos is at the $75 level:

Let's not talk about the higer levels, cause I can't ponder that sort of craziness.

Ballad of the Pigeon God #32: There's No Justice Like Baronial Justice!

With Baronial papers in order, Baron Echelon and his party attempt to return to the Chateau

9 UnDec 1071-  On the road back to Eding - Outside of Omsjik, Kingdom of Crosedes
Echelon:  Peculiar cleric of an eastern god of the sea and expert on raising pigeons.  He has a charmed wolf, Pathfinder, and fell into the estate by the sheer talents of his hirelings. Recently named Baron of Eding
Mellandria:  young wizard fresh from the Magic University in Hydincall.  Named Baronial Scribe to Echelon
Ashe:  highly skilled elven ranger,
Talis Makolin, Bard and self-proclaimed lover extraordinaire
Norm Dingleberry:   Dim-witted dwarf. failed mushroom farmer turned adventurer.  Speaks in an outrageous French accent.
Ariel - a young woman nearly run over by the party while travelling to Poipon's estate.  Pretty and sneaky, so pretty sneaky.

Nearing the King's Road to Omsjik, Ariel dismounted the horse the party had loaned to her and bid herself adieu, turning north towards Hydincall.

13 UnDec 1071-  On the road back to Eding - Lake Apotheosis, Kingdom of Crosedes
One of the few remarkable landmarks on the road between Omsjik and Eding was Lake Apotheosis. The river had encountered a long, deep depression north of Eding and it emptied back out into the river a few miles later.  A sheer cliff face ran along the opposite side of the river from the main road, and was occasionally dotted with ancient carvings of wizards, knights, and dragons.

One spot along the road-side of the lake was known as a campground for travelers, but the party was shocked to see three dozen tents filling the site in the middle of winter.  Some of the tent dwellers hailed them over and offered some soup and a few minutes by the fire, which they accepted.

The friendly camper, George, explained that everyone there, over four dozen, where members of the Cult of Apotheosis.  While they were dutiful followers to the state religion, The Church of Akana, they believed the woven into the theological writings was a prophecy calling on the return on the ancient kings of Feraso (the old Empire).  One of these, a true champion of Akana, would reunite the patchwork of kingdoms, duchies, and baronies, defeat the evil plaguing them, and set the continent, nay the world, through an eternal period of peace.

The stonework in the cliff face at the lake were as old as some of earliest kings, so they were campaing there to investigate them.  The lake was only frozen for a few weeks of Undec and Duodec, so they were walking across to the carvings for now,   Come springtime, they would build boats to continue their investigation.

No one was buying their prophecy, but Norm was already on his third bowl of soup, so these cultists were not trying to poison them.  The party thanked George and his friends and got to the Chateau by nightfall.

16 UnDec 1071 -  Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Brutus appeared at the Chateau, frostbriten and a bit hungry, but Dew quickly brought him in, doled out a healthy portion of the stew she was cooking, and called Velandro in to help heal his toes.  Aetex and Cilito, two ex-soldiers/farmhands who left with Brutus in the Fall when things were getting bad, had found service in a very shady mercenary company, and managed to rob Brutus of his meager belongings before the company before leving Hydincall.

Hat in hand (if he owned a hat), he had travelled back to the one place were the people were nice and honest.  Baron Echelon demured the decision to Carthon and Jenny, the true managers of the Chateau, and he was welcomed back as a farmhand with open arms.  Little Timmy and the Dag the kobold's children were delighted to have their dim-witted, but fun ex-gladiator friend back and "Baron" Felix was delighted to have a strong back to help with the winter chores.

17 UnDec 1071-  Village of Lowdale, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
After breakfast, Echelon assembled everyone residing in the Chateau:
Baron Echelon:   Baron of Eding, Adherent to the Eastern God of the Sea, Tshang Hai Shing.
Mellandria:  Baronial Scribe, recent graduate of the Magic Lyceum in Hydincall.
Mohammad:  Echelon's religious mentor.  Lost his legs to a shark years ago.  Lost his mind focusing pure divine power through him while fighting against the Dread Lord in the Fall of 1070.
Talis Makolin:  Bard and Lover Extraordinaire.  Echelon's right-hand man outside the Chateau.
Ashe:  White-haired elven ranger of the pine barrens  Recent
Norm Dingleberry:  Dwarven failed mushroom farmer, turned adventurer.  Finally learned Common
Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the steppes.  Rolf, Ashe, Norm, and Babette had recently returned to Crosedes after being stranded in a different world called Talislanta for over 18 months (only five in Crosedes').  For once, Rolf was content to grab a pint in town from time and spend the rest of it at the Chateau, training with his Greatsword in the snow, decked out in his fur coat he had freed from a miserly moneylender.   Sometimes he could be caught doodling designs on a sheet of paper, similar to the facial tattoos he had obtained in Talislanta.
Velandro:  Pious cleric of Akana.  Holy Protector of the Bell of Chardastes.  Teacher of the faith to kobolds everywhere.
Dag & Family:  Kobold family (Dag, wife, son, daughter) rescued from the Palace of the Silver Princess.  Loyal to Velandro. Fledgeling colytes of Akana
Babette:  Street thief picked up in Hydincall.  In the late stages of a pregnancy that happened while she was in Talislanta.  Father of the child (Darius {Yuri}) remained in the other world.
Carthon d'Echelon: Originally a henchman of Echelon, now manages the Chateau.
Jenny d'Echelon: Married to Carthon, sergeant in Eding militia.
Timmy d'Echelon:  Ten year old orpahn boy who was adopted by Carthon and Jenny.
Dew Xyclone: Former noblewoman and prisoner of the spider-people, now just a voluptious middle-age housekeeper for the Chateau.
"Baron" Felix:  Former Baron and prisoner of the spider-people, now happily manages the Chateau's farm. .
Heirlyat:  Former ne'er do well and prisoner of the spider-people, now a farmhand at the Chateau.
Brutus: Dimwitted ex-gladiator, currently a farmhand at the Chateau.
Lady Iris: Former peasant hero of Eding, Red Knight of Crosedes, and attaché to King Nevin. Staying in Lord Athelstane's old manor while Echelon gets comfortable becoming Baron.

Echelon announced that with the recent certification of his Baronial paperwork, he was responsible for collecting all current and back taxes for the Barony, which had not been collected since Lord Athelstane's death.  He was to collect any and all taxes from Eding and the three halfling towns within the Barony's borders (Lowdale, Welldale, and Elmshire).

Echelon, Talis, and Norm.  decided to leave that afternoon for Lowdale to present Echelon's credentials to his new subjects.

In proper Echelon style, it took so long to prepare for the ride, that they delayed it till first thing the following morning.

18 UnDec 1071-  Village of Lowdale, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The trio arrived in the village to be greeted by the friendly face of A. Warren Corkbarrel, who was yet another ex-prisoner of the Spider-People, rescued by the party.  There was a moment of disbelief by Echelon when Corkbarrel told them he had been elected mayor after stopping the villagers from being kidnapped.  Corkbarrel nearly passed out, then couldn't stop laughing when presented with Baron Echelon's credentials.

*Wipes brow* "It is well and good that you are here My Lord, for we have a problem that is perfect for your skillset."

An arsonist, dressed as a scarecrow, had been burning down buildings around the village.  No one had been killed yet, but the other halflings were talking about the spider-people again.

That night the trio staked out the village on the room of the small inn.  The did spy a scarecrow walking in the snow and follwed it to a windmill.   Exploring the windmill, they found no scarecrow, but a receipt of goods bought and traded, as well as a ledger of taxes paid, rather expensive taxes.   The Defense Tax owed to the Crown by eveyone in town was astronomically high compared to what Echelon was required to collect, even including the back taxes. Upon further investigation, they found the halfling keeper of the windmill dead in a crawlspace.

19 UnDec 1071-  Village of Lowdale, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The following morning, they visit Corkbarrel again.  They asked him about the owner of the windmill and why their taxes were so high, an entire subject all of them failed to bring up when they arrived. Corkbarrel explained that there was a man, named Roland, who lived just outside of town, who delcared that he had been named tax collector after the death of Lord Athelstane.  This man's name was Roland.  They went to Roland's home and immediately noticed that it was very fancy and unguarded.  They knocked on the door and asked to see Roland, but the man who answered said no and slammed the the door shut.  Echelon loudly announced his presence as the Baron, but Talis and Norm were still required to bust the door down.  The interior was just as elegant as the outside, with carpet and tapestries.  They entered the kitchen of the home and saw two startled men who ran out the back.  Talis threw his dagger, but it stuck in the door frame.

All three began to search the home for any evidence of the illegal tax collection, but the duo that escaped wisely came back and tried to surprise them.    Norm attacked them from behind and took them out with one quick hack apiece.

Norm:  "I love being a dwarf"

They worked their way upstairs and found a locked room with someone obviously inside.

Norm : "As the Count of Rowand, I demand entrance!"

Talis:  "When did Norm get so formal... or become a Count?"

Norm began attacking the door with his axe, but the handle snapped in half.

Talis, being the swashbuckler that he is, swung into the room from a curtain in an adjacent room's window.  He crashed through the window, rolled to the locked door, and let Echelon and Norm in, only to turn around and see "Roland" open a secret door and slip out.  They pursued him to the stable behind the house, where they finally captured him.  No coins could be found on the premises.

20 UnDec 1071-  Village of Lowdale, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Roland and the two injured men were taken back to Lowdale where Echelon administered his first act of justice.   Condemning Roland and his one accomplice to death, and sentencing the second man, who admitted everything,  to five years of hard labor under the supervision of Mayor Corkbarrel.   The trio immediately departed to Hydincall to inform King Nevin of the situation and request more time to recover the missing taxes.

29 UnDec 1071 - Hydincall, Kingdom of Crosedes
The trio arrived in Hydincall and sought an immediate audience with the King.  He agreed with the sentencing, allowed a few more weeks to collect taxes, and advised he establish the proper channels of communication by official courier to avoid trudging through the snow anytime they wished correspondence with the Royal Court.  With all that resolved, the three of them returned to the Chateau. The did stop at the Cult of Apotheosis' camp for soup on the way home.

6 DuoDec 1071  - Village of Eding, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
After weathering a horrible blizzard in Omsjik, Baron Echeclon finally arrived in Eding and announced that he decided  the Barony needed to have new officials: a sheriff, a magistrate, and other titles as need.  He would appoint them... later.

DM Notes:  Some Baronial bookkeeping provides a little mystery and a lot of headaches for our new Baron.  It was six months (in a ten-month year) since Lord Athelstane had died, and even longer since taxes had been properly collected and delivered.    Making His Majesty, King Nevin of Crosedes, happy would take a number of sessions.  

As I've previously done, here's Talis Makolin's impressions on the group as of this point:

Talis is happy that Rolf and the others are alive, and downright thrilled that Echelon has become a Baron.  Granted, he'll need to stick close (to) Echelon when they arrive in Hydincall, and hopefully he won't into that wizard.  Talis figures that Baron Echelon will need someone to teach him the finer points of courtly procedure, Talis is just the man for the job.  Besides, it will give him an official position on the baronial court.

Rolf: There is something different about Rolf.  He just doesn't seem the same since he came back from Talislanthia (sic).
Malorin: Talis was not at all upset to hear about Malorin's death.  It was a shame, not a loss.
Kane: Talis likes him.  He's a strange little man, with a  bizarre culture, but overall, an okay guy.
Baron Echelon: Echelon is now Baron of Eding, and the man to know.  He'll need a lot of assistance in knowing how to dress and the ways of how a feudal system operates.  Talis doesn't have too much experience in running a Barony, but  he knows some of the ancient legends about kings and stuff, and that's almost the same, isn't it?
Velandro: He takes that whole religion thing a little too seriously but overall a good healer and an okay kind of guy.  Talis is a little dubious on the whole "Train the Dag Family to be priests" thing. 
Dag: Talis isn't quite sure why we agreed to bring him and his family along, but at least he and his family have learned hygiene.  The Dag family is definitely a turn off to chicks though, but if Velandro does manage to teach them to heal they could be quite useful.
Norm: Talis has no diea how Norm learn to talk (maybe everyone in Talislanthia (sic) has that accent?)  but he really doesn't care.  He had the money to save the Chateau, and that makes him aces in Talis' book.
The Baronial Scribe (Mellandria): She's got spells that Talis doesn't know, she's cute, and she's willing to spend time with Talis to trade spells, and maybe a little more if Talis turns on the old charms.
Babbet(e):  Talis immediately panicked when he saw Babette return with child, but was instantly relieved when he realized he had not spent any time with her, and when others told him the child wasn't his.

Next #33 - Dag and Brutus Have an Adventure!!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mepacon Fall 2017 AAR

My Fall convention season is compressed into two short weeks:  Fall-In! in Lancaster, usually followed up my Mepacon immediately thereafter.  This year was no exception.

After a fairly miserable week with issues at work and home, I desperately escaped my office at 2:45 Friday afternoon to make a few errands through the bitter weather and get to Scranton before my first event.  

I got my GM badge, found a handy-dandy water station right beside my table, and got set up for my first game of My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria. 
Game One of MLP
I had the distinct pleasure of running the game for an old convention compatriot Nate U, whom I had not seen in close to eleven years.  A few things had changed in those years, like his two young daughters who really wanted to play My Little Pony.

With Nate's family and a young twenty-something man who didn't want to be an overt Brony, we powered through the two hour game slot to perfection, dedicating the first half hour to character creation, and the rest for a short game.  By 5:55, we had exonerated the PCs from stealing Princess Celestia's toothbrush, stopped magic goblins from stealing her tiara, and kept open a storyline about a changeling named Louis for future use.
The Dealer's Row, leading into the main RPG/Boardgame Ballroom
After cleaning up, and snagging the must-have item at the Dealer's Hall (MLP: Tokens of Friendship at The Portal's booth) I headed downstairs to the convention opening reception and pasta dinner.

Although Mepacon does a great job supporting local charities, I always understood it that the Friday night dinner charge did benefit the convention directly.  The convention is as close to solvent as any con in a downtown Hilton can be, so a few extra bucks towards the general fund is good thing.

After dinner was session #2 of 6.  I initially had only a father-daughter team, so I pulled my chair around from the GM screen, sat down next to the little girl, and started working on making the most awesome pony of all time.

Then the bros came.  Brandon and Anthony had pre-registered for the event, and showed up a few minutes late, but came in with the greatest attitude.  They had needed a game to fill the time slot and ponies sounded intriguing, but almost challenging fun.  If all my players came in with that sort of an attitude to each session, every game would be guaranteed A+ awesome.

As the session progressed, it became apparent that the young lady's pony, Harmony was becoming the center of the story, bluntly arguing with the Commander of the Gnoman Legions, and when her abilities were needed to stop a catastrophe, three grown men became wildly animated with each subsequent roll, tossing their own Tokens of Friendship at her in encouragement, and to improve her results.  It was epic.

Plus they all laughed at my bad jokes, so I give them props for that.
Brandon and Anthony with their ponies (cause taking pictures of young kids and putting them on the internet, even with their parent's permission, is asking for trouble nowadays.)
By 10pm, I was in my car, and bracing against the frigid temperatures on my ride home.

Saturday, I woke up my girls, Maja (8) and Millie (6) and we headed back for a full day family fun.  We got there with just enough time to sign the kids in, set-up browse the dealer hall for a few minutes and set up for session three, which only had the girls as players.
A bad shot of the ballroom, this is about as empty as it got through Friday and Saturday.  
The advantage of having the girls play? Character creation that takes 30 minutes for new players takes five for them.  The bad news?  The combination of a neat freak pony needing to travel down a muddy underground tunnel to save her friend proved too much, and without other ponies to help, the game bogged down.
Session #3, Ponies Under the Shadow of the Empire
But as Maja wisely observed, "You have a great place to start your next game." 

Finished early, the girls departed for the kid's crafting table where they made  turkeys and other holiday-esque items out of jars and cotton balls, jumped over to the coloring table, then jumped back for more crafts.
Far less potentially hazardous than it looks. 
While they crafted away, I spent some time browsing the dealers' wares, regrouped to a different table (Seriously. I'm running six identical sessions.  Why the need to move me from table 19 to 18 to 17 every two sessions?) and prepped for session #4.

In twenty-six and a half years of running games at cons, I have never had any pregame communication between myself and a player, unless that player was a friend and confirming a character they wanted to bring into the game.

While I was hurrying to make it to the con, my Facebook blew up with a mother asking if slots were still available for my 11am session and if I could accommodate more.

Who would I be if I broke a child's heart by telling them they couple play a pony?  I'm a monster, but I'm not THAT big a monster.
Me howling at the moon during session #4
Session #4 brought a wide range of kids, one adult (who caused gleeful chaos by immediately dumping a bag of pony figures on the table), and the above mentioned Mom, who helped by keeping the younger folks on point as we proceeded.  I'll admit it was a bit chaotic, but we saved the day yet again, and we ended with enough time to try the Leveling Up rules.  Good stuff.  Pony power creep is real!
I was going to compliment the man on his Run DMC shirt, then I caught a second glance. 
Lunchtime fell upon us, and we ventured over to the pizza place across the Square and a visit to Comics on the Green.
The children's section is in the Upside Down.
Maja grabbed an Archie, Millie snagged an invisible ink activity book, and I filled in my 60's run of Blackhawk with their 75% off sale. 
Three tough women who always persist....nevertheless
Session #5 was a intended wash, as it hit immediately during the Kid's LARP.  The theme for this con was Ancient Civilizations, and with the number of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian costumes walking around, Maja was in her glory. Millie had to fight back a few moments of "I'm bored," but she powered through and the ring pop treasure was theirs!  

Maja and Millie returned only to immediately attack the craft table again with their attempts to make "Flarf" (goo/slime).    With them messily engrossed, I was visited by Nate's girls again to play in Session #6.

Each session I had tried to mix real world implications with cartoon tomfoolery, and with my final game I turned that on it's ear.   After levelling up their ponies from Friday's game, we set down an odd path full of puppets, poisonous cookies, and some time paradoxes thanks to Doctor Hooves.

My reward for running twelve hours of My Little Pony, besides free admission and a cool con t-shirt?   I'm a guy very apt at giving and receiving hugs among my gaming friends, but the 110% effort needed to keep theses kids engaged was quantified by so many of the young players giving me genuine hugs as they thanked me for a great game.

I had no winners for the raffle, the girls' dominance in the coloring contest may have officially ended with another no-win, and by then my wife had come to pick them up early.

The Auction:  With a few gaps in my schedule, I was able to check out the games auction as it grew.  Not much in particular stuck out to me, and in most cases, the items either had no buy-in price to tempt me, or a price way too close to retail.

To make matters a bit more confusing, the traditional "Everything starts at a buck" auction added a giant caveat:  If an item had a buyout price listed, and it did not sell by the time the auction started, the bidding for it would start at half the buyout price. 

Now, I understand that nobody is going to win a copy of Arkham Horror for $2, so it only makes sense if the Buyout is $30, then $15 start might skip the lower bid levels that are simply procedural.  The problem arose with many of the marginal items that should have had "Somebody might want this for $10.  If they don't get the buyout starting at a buck is cool." on the auction slips.  Certain items barely survived these inflated levels, but many items were sent back to the main table without a bid, to be returned to their owners, rather than recycled into the gaming community at large.  I did see and increase on bids for certain items, but not more than what the unsold buyouts would have fetched if they had started at a buck and stopped at $3 or $4, rather than start a $5 or $10.

The key auction item that I wanted to bid on was the H.R. Pufnstuf boardgame.  Despite my best efforts to silence the crowd with a whopping $5 bid, it eventually sold for $8.  Not bad for a game that's a bad, a spinner, and 34 cards.     Otherwise, I bid on little, and won nothing.
Swag:  Besides the Tokens of Friendship, I bought a new set of red metal dice from Dice Dungeons, and cannibalized a stack of gaming books at the auction.  I pulled out a d20 module, a copy of Adventures Unlimited magazine with a plethora of cool scenarios, and a copy of a Jovian Chronicles books still in the shrinkwrap, and threw the rest back into the auction. Since I was leaving before the auction was cashing out, I simply told them to donate paltry couple of bucks to charity.

Site:  The Hilton is very nice, and outside of paying for parking, very convenient.  Of course, they are doing some remodeling which took away the closest bathrooms to the main ballroom.  I didn't see any plans as to why they walled off such a large section of the facility, but I'm sure there's a profit-driven reason.

Overview:  The convention itself is still growing, and despite some tight confines in the main ballroom, there's still room for more games through he rented space.  I'm not suggesting organized play give way to the masses, but a decade ago, the situation was reversed.  The demographics of the attendees are getting more diverse with more women, more families, and more people not representative of the graying neckbeard population.  The gentleman with the "Run D&D"  shirt I posted above?  I noticed his shirt first. Years ago, I may have noticed him as the lone African-American attendee in a sea of Caucasians.  We're getting more diverse, and since we're all here to game and have a good time, nobody's really noticing or caring too much about it.  For the weekend, we're game dorks first.

Except for Pathfinder players.  They're pure evil.
(Just kidding)

The next Mepacon will be April 27-29, 2018 back at the Hilton and the theme will be "Heroes and Villains."  Guess I'm looking up kid-friendly super-hero systems, or perhaps the ponies will look good in spandex.

The kids are already working on costumes.
And a big shout-out to all the ponies who made the weekend a success:
  • Strawberry Grapes
  • Amanda Hugginkiss
  • Rainbow Dash Jr.
  • Silver Flank
  • Harmony
  • Silas
  • Black Wing
  • Shoq
  • Earth Heart
  • Mint Puff
  • The King
  • Musical Melody
  • Cleft 
  • Cinnamon Bunn

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Planning for the Next D&D Session...

Planning to see the fourth session of BECMI Adventures in Gulluvia kick off later this morning....

We might be moving from our original dungeon, to a much bigger one.  I'll be prepared! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day 2017

To even those I know who were nuts before they enlisted.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

(Kickstarter) MBA Shanty Town

Miniature Building Authority has expanded there already popular shanties with the Shanty Town Kickstarter.

(Kickstarter) 5th Annual Chess & Science Festival & All-Girls Tournament

Since I never venture far from the Games section of Kickstarter, I rarely see the more philanthropic efforts the website can offer.

Although the 5th Annual Chess & Scicence Festival & All-Girls Tournament is in Tucson, AZ, I have no problem pitching at least a buck towards the effort.  Heck, it shouldn't matter what the rewards are, if more people simply pledged a dollar because this promotes chess, science, and/or the promotion of such activities among girls, they would easily hit their target.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

(IOU) Melvin Marcawitz,

As the sessions of Illuminati University have been used as filler for some of our 5e online game cancellations, I miraculously have run through the the "available" characters for PCs, including some slated to be characters.  

Nate to the rescue!  

The player known for Norm Dingleberry, Doc Millheim, and Professor Pittleman came to the rescue and made up a number new characters for use in the campaign, and for not actually owning a copy of Risus, he did a fine job...

Melvin Marcawitz
Did I Eat That? (4)
Being poor, and a divorcee living on his own Melvin has learned to eat a variety of things that would easily turn most peoples stomachs or even injure them, but not Melvin

!!!NERDS!!!  Rage (3) 
Easily pumped to show off what little physical prowess he has, Melvin pumps himself up to possibly perform amazing feats of strength. 

Sports Statistic Rotisserie (2) 
Melvin has a vast knowledge of useless sports knowledge he believes to be true, whether it is or not. About the way sports are played and about history and games and players of the past.

Imperfect Substitute (1) 
Melvin is used to being taken advantage of. His marriage, teaching in school, even in sports, he was always the substitute or being replaced. Due to this, Melvin can easily be told to “step in and cover” someone or something in a bad situation taken the brunt on the punishment and allowing the other person to walk away unharmed and happy.

A high school gym teacher who failed to keep up with needed credits and credentials, he needs to go back to college and get a degree in PE again. He is a 43 year old divorced, single man living in the dorms. He looks a lot like Ron Jeremy, 70’s porn mustache, mullet. He wears very tight short shorts, knee high tube socks with color bands, tight polo shirt with over sized collar with few buttons done to show off lots of thick curry chest hair, large silver whistle and stop watch around his neck. He stretches and does lunges frequently. 

As a GM and player, I really picture Melvin as a cross between Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds and Cousin Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #31: Mage Trap

The Five Day Festival of Yule - Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The Village of Eding celebrated the appointment of cleric and pigeon lover Echelon as the new Baron.  Better yet, Eding celebrated their land no longer being some petty estate overseen by some non-hereditary lord knight appointed by the King of Crosedes.

Eding was to be the Baronial seat of power which included many smaller estates, such as the one owned by Christiana Caldwell, but also the halfling villages of Elmshire, Lowdale, and Welldale. The village was just picking itself back up after numerous calamities, but Echelon and his friends had been there to help everyone. Hope (and a good selection of mulled wines) inspired the villages over the five day Yule that brighter days might be around the corner. 

The Grand Wizard Cesmir, Headmage of the Hydincall Lyceum and Minister of the State (and distant cousin to the King) Nobquin Silvershield, had named a recent graduate,  Mellandria, to act as official Baronial scribe.
Mellandria, paid internships ain't what they used to be...
She was immediately attacked "romantically" by Talis Makolin, bard and self-proclaimed lover extraordinaire, and when that failed he teamed up with a strange wizard  Benverho to exchange some spells between the three of them.  Talis was not please by the trades being struck, but Mellandria and the stranger had no issues.

As part of the documentation presented to him by the King, Echelon understood that he himself needed to venture to the Royal Noble Notarary near Pojunct to have all paperwork sealed by the Grey Sag Poipon.

5 UnDec 1071- On the road to the Estate of Poipon, East of Pojunct,  Kingdom of Crosedes
Echelon:  Peculair cleric of an eastern god of the sea and expert on raising pigeons.  He has a charmed wolf, Pathfinder, and fell into the estate by the sheer talents of his hirelings. Recently named Baron of Eding
Mellandria:  young wizard fresh from the Magic University in Hydincall.  Named Baronial Scribe to Echelon
Ashe:  highly skilled elven ranger,
Talis Makolin, bard and self-proclaimed lover extraordinaire
Norm Dingleberry:   Dim-witted dwarf. failed mushroom farmer turned adventurer.  Speaks in an outrageous French accent.

The trip to Pojunct was almost as long as the journey to Hydincall, but with poorer roads and six inches of snow.  The trip itself was  uneventful a young woman darted in front of the horses.  The men in the party ogled her and quickly offered to escort her to Poipon's estate, where she could get proper medical treatment.  The young woman, Ariel, accepted the kind gesture, and struck up a friendly conversation with Mellandria.  

They arrived at Poipon's estate to encounter a group conducting a ritual in the study to obtain a scrying carpet.  Poipon, a nutty old wizard if ever there was, had other guests with him, 

Mellandria:  "... a fat boy, a paranoid man in armor and twin slimy wizards. I'm starting to like the baron and his friends a lot more.....What could go wrong?"

6 UnDec 1071- The Estate of Poipon, Kingdom of Crosedes
News quickly spread the estate that Poipon had died overnight, without officially sealing Echelon's paperwork for Baron.  He died in locked room, with seemingly no way in, at midnight, with no witnesses. 

Mellandria: "We're faced with the choice of leaving or solving this thing. Guess which we choose?"

7 UnDec 1071- The Estate of Poipon, Kingdom of Crosedes
Halfway through the third day at the estate and just about everyone who escorted Echelon wanted to give up their investigation, travel to Hydincall, and bribe government official to notarize the baronial papers in less than two months.  However Ashe, Ariel, and Mellandria were too stubborn to quit. 

They eventually figure out the "two slimy wizards as the assassins.  They were in the hire of rivals to the Baroness Laurencia of Poitou.  The scrying carpet was being constructed for her by Poipon.  With no magistrate or sheriff nearby, they strung the wizards up a tree and left them there to suffer by the elements.  Poipon's servant affixed the royal seal to Echelon's papers (He had been doing it for Poipon for twenty years.  No one ever noticed).  

Mellandria: "All the way home, Norm was smiling and babbling about being a Count (Mercadia paperwork... or Rowand) Who understand dwarfs anyway? So now Echelon's officially Baron, everyone is happy, but I (Mellandria) haven't gotten paid. I 'd better sit him down and discuss this soon before he spends the entire budget on Pigeon Chow or something."

DM Notes: Getting things notarized in the modern world is a pain in the butt, so why make a fantasy world any different?  The short murder mystery notwithstanding, the main focus of the session was to have our PCs interact with one another, with mixed results.  It's so inconsequential, that in fact, I never determined the Baroness of Poipon's enemies.  Heck I hadn't even named her until I wrote this post (a few weeks ago).  

Ariel will become a new regular as others drop out, some by actions (Babette is still pregnant) others by eventually inaction/ semi-retirement.

And our feebleminded French dwarf Norm and the paperwork?   As Poipon's servant left the office, Norm snuck in and rummaged around the paperwork, until be produced credentials naming him the Count of Roward (a real place) and Duke of Mercadia (an imaginary place).   I don't think he ever confronted the real Count of Roward about this, but it was mentioned often to peasants and the hoi polloi.

Edit x2:  With the discovery of Echelon's journal and the official papers of state, I realized in my ret-con editing I may subconsciously added some duplicates.  While the Grand Wizard Cesmir is listed in the original paperwork, I also made Cesmir the name of the first King of Crosedes. Considering I also called King Nevin IV King George  (with the name crossed out and corrected) isn't too much of a surprise.  

I'm still going through the paperwork, but Nobquin Silvershield does not appear in the proper journal.  The extended Silvershield family should have some estates around Hydincall, and I do have Nobquin's Keep on the border with Markovia within the County of Ferrand, so that part of the Silvershields (Nobquin's father) are responsible for the original ancestral Fereasean claim.  

"Mage Trap" came from Pyramid Magazine #26

NEXT #32 - Baronial Justice!