DCC LANKHMAR!

March 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Do you love Fritz Leiber‘s Lankhmar? Do you love Dungeon Crawl Classics? Then prepare to get your mind blown…

Goodman Games announced at GaryCon that through the Fritz Leiber estate, they have acquired the rights to publish a new way of playing Dungeon Crawl Classics, with the world of Nehwon as it’s setting: DCC Lankhmar.

I was fortunate enough to get in on one of the first official playtests and I have to say it was downright amazing. Michael Curtis and Goodman Games have seamlessly melded the two properties into one. I really don’t want to spoil anything, especially considering that it is still a work in progress, but I think I can go over a couple things that I don’t think will change too much:

  • Gongfarmers No More: Unlike regular DCC, you don’t start as a level zero character. You are a hero! Act like one! Go forth, get money, spend that money, get more. Wealth is temporary but adventure is continual!
  • Mercurial Magic Minimized: No more Mercurial Magic effects. While you still may not know whether your fireball spell will give you a puny puff of flame or a massive blast of fire decimating the countryside until you roll… the side effects of magic will not be as pronounced. No rain of frogs, no gender swaps, and so on.
  • Characters First: There are only three classes: Wizard, Thief and Warrior. However, those classes are not ‘pure’ as in contemporary DCC. You may have a thief who has dabbled in sorcery and is able to cast a magic missile every so often. You may have a Warrior who can sneak and backstab. You may have a Wizard who is so good with his quarterstaff he is capable of Mighty Deeds. A great combination in every character and they have added a new series of quirks to characters that broaden everyone’s horizons.
  • Less Is More: Since there are less classes, and the classes available have some overlap, DCC Lankhmar may be ideal for game days when you only have a few around the table.
  • It’s Only A Flesh Wound!: Only three classes means no clerical magic to heal you. Are you lucky enough that the blow which you thought was so severe is actually not that bad? The mechanic for this still seems to be a work in progress, but it’s a great amount of fun as it is.
  • Do You Feel Lucky? Speaking of luck, there’s more to be had out there! Get luck, spend luck, recover luck and more! Great deeds are not done by just hoping they happen… you must go forth and find your adventure… maybe even go down and carouse the bars a bit and see what happens.
  • Pleased To Meet You! There will be new patrons, and new ways of patronage. Ningauble is discussed as a patron in the first release. I can imagine Sheelba will be the second, but there are many others out there as well. Perhaps not a god or powerful sorcerer or thing from beyond: maybe just a crime boss or powerful noble? They are examining new ways of handling patronage and it looks amazing.
  • THIS IS NOT A NEW GAME: There is no need to panic. This is NOT DCC 2nd Edition or Advanced DCC. This is the same DCC we all know and love, just kicked up a notch (or five) and re-skinned with some great new setting ideas, great new effects and great new ways or playing and of looking at things. Save the pitchforks for your potato farmers.

Cannot wait for more information to come out and to start my own players off in the “City of Adventure” but I will have to. They will be having a couple more “supplements” like the one pictured and then a box set down the line. I expect an amazing Kickstarter to be launched some time in the future. If you can’t wait and want to do your own, you can get the supplement “Through Ningauble’s Cave” which details a way to get your current players over to Nehwon though the “Gossiper of the Gods” mysterious cavern. It’s chock-full of adventure ideas and encounter samples as well as a patron write-up for Ningauble and a (partial) map of his Bottomless Caves.

Another home run for DCCRPGIMG_1416 and Goodman Games!

HeroForge Delivers

March 23, 2015 3 comments

IMG_1357The HeroForge Kickstarter just delivered two miniatures to my door and out of an arbitrary 10-star system, I would give them a solid six edging up to seven. I have been following and waiting patiently on the entire HeroForge idea since it was first announced. It is a system where you begin with a basic model (of which several are available) and customize it to your heart’s content. Male, female, robotic, halfling, human, dwarven and more… and then hundreds of options for equipment, poses, clothing, and sliding scales for things like musculature, height, curviness, expressions and so on. Hex bases, round bases, square bases. They have thought of everything and it’s really a lot of fun to make up different miniatures, and I highly suggest you go to the site and do so for yourself.

IMG_1359I think I was hoping for more from the miniatures themselves, especially for the price. At $25 a pop, they are expensive. Does the customization justify the cost? I’m really torn. When “acceptable” Bones miniatures are in at $3 and $4 and higher end miniatures from DarkSword are $10… I’m just not 100% sure based upon the quality I have seen so far. I opted for the “high quality” prints and I was impressed with the overall process. You get in hand what you see on-screen. Very fine details abound. The sneery little halfling thief I wanted for my 5e Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer’s League games has his little sneery face and top knot haircut, a murderous little gleam in his eye. My hands-up pacifist cleric for our new Temple of Elemental Evil game has the perfect pose, the chiseled jaw, the lack of weaponry and the open expression I wanted. The customization is not the issue.

IMG_1360I wonder that I personally may have had my bar set too high. While I was in on the Bones Kickstarters both times, I’m an old-fashioned kind of mini-painter. I like the metal. I think you get better overall miniatures and they paint up a lot nicer. In the photos, on the top you can see the HeroForge miniatures as they arrived. Oddly translucent (was not expecting that), they have a very ‘rough’ feel to them. I almost want to sand them all down, but then of course you’d lose all the details. That roughness is made very apparent in the bottom set of photos, where I have primed them. Metal miniatures (and even the Bones) are just plain smoother and seem like they will take paint better. On the HeroForge Facebook page there’s some definite “table-top” quality miniatures that have been painted. They look fine for using in a game… and isn’t that the purpose?

As a new and emerging technology, 3D printing like this is surely going through some growing pains. I can imagine that come two or three years, the quality will skyrocket. I’m also relatively certain most people would give them more stars. I am just honestly worried to put paint to them… it’s not like I can easily and cheaply order another if I muck them up somehow. My Kickstarter pledge comes with one more miniature and a mounted miniature (which are not available yet). Stay tuned and in a couple weeks (after we get back from GaryCon!) I’ll have them painted up and show off the “final” product.

heroforged

Categories: Minis, Reviews, Technology, Tips

Fly Casual Review: Star Wars Edge of the Empire

March 9, 2015 1 comment

swe12_mainThe Star Wars releases have been almost on top of each other recently, and I actually got this book just one week after picking up Lords of Nal Hutta. Fly Casual is the sourcebook for smugglers. This is one career I was very eager to see expanded, as it’s one of my favorites other than Bounty Hunter, which I’m sure they are saving for last.

At this point FFG is setting a very high bar for themselves, but this book is going to be hard to top. It’s a familiar format at this point, split up into 3 sections: The first is about new backgrounds, specializations, species and talents. The second goes into new gear and ships (this is pretty much the reason to pick up this book). The third details some excellent GM options like plenty of adventure seeds, mechanics for shoot-outs and showdowns, and Hintaro, a gambling dice game that uses the boost dice. The last part of this section goes into creating a smuggling ring, and the effect of your reputation in different social encounters.

The new species introduced are the charming yet reptilian, pheromone-emitting Falleen, the cunningly perceptive Gotal, and the headstrong octopus-faced Quarren. The Quarren are some of the coolest looking aliens in Star Wars in my opinion. Hailing from the same world and often feuding with the Mon Calamari, an ill-tempered Quarren would make one intimidating smuggler. They start with a rank in negotiation, can breathe underwater (of course), and can spit ink once per encounter within short range. The Gotal are goat-like guys with horns that are sensitive to energy.They start with a rank in perception, and once per encounter can sense the current emotional states of living this within short range. Fallen start with a rank in charm, and can emit pheromones and change their skin color. Mechanically this allows them once per encounter to upgrade a charm, deception or negotiation check with a living creature within short range. Not bad! Any of these have fantastic possibilities as smugglers or any of the many paths available in Edge.

SWE12-threespeciesThe new specializations are Charmer (Lando archetype), Gambler, and Gunslinger. All smugglers start with Coordination, Deception, Knowledge (underworld), Perception, Piloting (Space), Skulduggery, Streetwise, and Vigilance as career skills.

Charmer adds Charm (well, yeah), Cool, Leadership, and Negotiation. This would be an excellent face of the party, with a few shady skills like knowledge underworld, streetwise, and skulduggery just to keep it interesting. Most of the tree involves modifying Charm and Leadership checks with such titles as Disarming Smile, Congenial, and Works Like a Charm which actually allows you to use Presence rather than another characteristic associated with a skill, once a session. Another cool one is Just Kidding! which allows you to spend a destiny point to ignore a despair generated on a social check within short range.

Gambler adds Computers, Cool, Deception, and another Skulduggery, allowing you to tip the odds in your favor. The shape of this tree is pretty unique, and is probably one of the more expensive paths to get to dedication. Cool talents include Fortune Favors the Bold: suffer two strain to flip a dark side destiny point to light side once a session. Another interesting talent is Double or Nothing: 2 strain to increase the difficulty of the next check by one, if successful double the remaining advantage, once per encounter. The improved version has the same effect for successes, and the supreme version does the same for triumphs and despairs.

SWE12-shootingattrandoshianGunslinger is the most combat-oriented path. It adds Coercion, Cool, Knowledge (outer rim), and Ranged (light). Most of the talents are old favorites like quick draw, lethal blows, and grit. Guns Blazing allows you to avoid increasing the difficulty for a ranged attack with two weapons for two strain. Another talent which wins for best name is Sorry About the Mess: decreases crit rating of a weapon by 1 (minimum 1) against targets that have not acted yet in the encounter.

The second section has a host of new gear, including some big mean pistols for gunslingers, as well as an ion droid disabler, knockout grenades, and a CryoBan projector that can freeze your enemies, or put out ship fires. Armor includes a smugglers trenchcoat allowing checks to find things in the coat by searchers to be opposed by the skulduggery of the wearer, and a Mimetic suit which, while rare, works as a personal cloaking device, upgrading stealth checks twice. There are also new cybernetics, and other shady gear like lockpicking tools, fingerprint masques, and false credentials. Weapon upgrades include paired weapons which reduce the advantage required to hit while dual-wielding by one, and set trigger (hair trigger) that adds a success and threat automatically for the first combat check in an encounter.

Shadowport_MattBradburyNew vehicle stats include a couple of airspeeders, and landspeeders, but the starships section adds some awesome new entries. One of my favorite enemies in the old X-wing PC game was the Assault Gunboat, also known as the Star Wing. It includes stats for that, as well as a recent X-wing miniatures game model, the VT-49 Decimator. I can’t wait to send in a Decimator flanked with interceptors against a party. Appropriately, there are a few light freighters and yachts for the successful gambler, as well as stats for the Gozanti-class armed transport seen in the Star Wars Rebels show. Disappointingly, it doesn’t mention the variant that allows for TIEs to dock and launch from it like we saw in the show. Last but certainly not least are stats for the HWK-1000 light freighter, which looks much like the HWK-290 but has a few performance upgrades. Capital ship stats include the Interdictor-class heavy cruiser, and a silhouette 8 space defense platform.

The third section is mainly geared towards the GM and includes ideas on how to incorporate smugglers into a group, as well as adventure seeds and smuggling jobs, cons, and scams. There are also expanded rules and ideas for astrogation checks, heists and break-ins, and showdown and shootouts. Pretty much everything that makes Edge of the Empire an awesome part of the Star Wars universe to play in. The art remains fantastic and inspiring. If you’ve sat out of the last few sourcebooks waiting for one that really exemplified what Edge was all about, this is it!

Categories: Books, Reviews, RPGs, Star Wars

Mending Bones – How to get the most out of your Bones Kickstarter Minis

March 2, 2015 3 comments

Reaper Miniatures2015-02-24 18.59.02 HDR has just about finished releasing the second of it’s $3 Million dollar Kickstarters for the Bones line of plastic miniatures. Between these two Kickstarters, both of which I supported heavily, I’ve got probably a lifetime of painting before me, and most of my miniature needs addressed.

That said, not all Bones are created equal, and if you’ve gone through your figures, you’ve probably seen some that didn’t make it through the shipping process that well. So, here are some tips to get your Bones reset and back into shape before you set to painting.

First, there are a few things you need to know about your Reaper Bones:

1) Due to being packed in with a few hundred other guys, not to mention the imperfect nature of the universe, some of them are going to get bent, twisted, and generally frog-legged. This can be remedied, and should be addressed before you put any paint on them.
2) A lubricant used in removing them from the injection molding causes them to naturally resist water (and water based paint) so you’re going to need to scrub them or prime them, or both.
3) Just like metal miniatures, you’re going to have some oddities, including seams and sprue bits that you’re going to need to trim or shape. We’ll get into that as well.

4) Glue ‘em.
First, reshaping your Bones. Some of your figures certainly have come out at least as imperfect as this:

Maybe a backbiter?

Maybe a backbiter?

That spear doesn’t look like it’s going to be impailing anyone any time soon, but a little boiling water, and it’ll be right as rain.

You’re going to need:
A large pot
A stove or hotplate
Tongs
A bowl of cold water (or cold running water)
Some napkins.

Bring your water to a rolling boil in the pot. You’ll need enough water for the largest figure you want to reshape to be fully submerged.

Boiling Water

Take the defective figure and submerge it in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. I’ve accidently left mine in the pot for a few minutes and the figures were none
the worse for wear, but I’m sure too long will have them ending up as goo, so be mindful.

Using the tongs, remove the figure, careful not to burn yourself or mke unwanted impressions on the figure itself.

I used running water but a bowl of cold water would work too.

I used running water but a bowl of cold water would work too.

The figure will be noticeably more malleable than when first submerged. Typically, a figure placed at rest will return to it’s original intended shape. Sometimes, it may need a little help, however. I found my figures to become cool enough to touch after only a few seconds in the open air, however be careful and use your own judgment. You can use the tongs or two sets of tongs to manipulate the figure into your cold water, but as I said, I found it no problem to do it by hand.

Be sure to have the figure completely in the desired position before placing it under the water, because it’s going to hold its shape whenever it cools.

Remove from the water and voila! The spear looks a lot more deadly!

Spearman ready!

This can be taken a step farther. I found some very repetitive ghouls in my set that looked a litle silly, and all had the same very unnatural pose. So, snipping some flashing holding the figure’s arm to his leg, I decided to see how much flexibility I could get out of a few bones figures, hoping to make each one look a bit more unique.

Goofy Ghoul

Following the steps above, I was able to preposition these ghouls while still warm into a variety of postures, including turning the head of one to look in a different direction, another bent over, and a third with arms raised. Holding these new positions, I submerged each figure and made sure it had become good and cold before removing it from the cold water. The end result was a fairly diverse group:

Four slightly different ghouls

Now that you’ve shaped your miniature, if you haven’t boiled the figures, you’ll want to give them a scrub. Dish soap and an old toothbrush should do the trick.
Note that submerging your reshaped Bones into hot water might cause them to revert to their original shape, but your boiling should have removed the chemicals anyway, so scrubbing is mostly for unshaped miniatures.

While Bones are ostensibly able to be painted without priming, I have never found them to be very receptive to paint without some sort of primer. Experiment with a few less favored figures to see how your preferred primer works on them. I found some spray primers to make figures a little more tacky than others, and who knows what chemical compounds might interact between plastic and aerosol spray. Use caution before you spray prime your favorite figure.

For figures with further defect, you’ll find that a good sharp hobby knife and a small set of files
will help to put them in better shape. Trim off any excess flashing, then gently file any seams or surplus rubber until it matches the surrounding textured surface.

For gluing remaining parts together, you’ll need to be careful using some form of superglue or zap-a-gap. You can use CA+ or regular superglue, but both will stick to your fingers together (painfully) if you’re not careful.

Good luck enjoying your new Bones! Let us know if you’ve discovered any other tricks, or shoot us some screen shots or links of your Bones masterpieces!

Categories: kickstarter, Minis, Reviews, Tips

Generators or Degenerators? The Mixed Blessing of Character Generator Culture

February 23, 2015 3 comments

cease and desist!Guest Post by Matt Orbach

Recently, Pathguy got a letter from WOTC, politely asking that he remove his 5E character generator and any other content that might be their IP. I’m not going to discuss that choice here; what WOTC did was legal, and there are boards aplenty debating the matter. Suffice it to say that what you can do legally and what you can do wisely do not always coincide.

But it put to the question, do these generators really help the game, or do they remove us too far from the fundamentals? As it happened, I hadn’t visited this page in quite a while, but I was reminded of it as a tool to help level a 5E character.

Pathguy’s generator was a great tool. When I found it was unavailable, I was forced to level up by hand. As it turned out, leveling by hand was very easy for 5E, although this is not always the case for all rules systems. It caused me to wonder how reliance on character generators for popular systems had shaped the quality of play from a GM perspective and from a player perspective.

THE GM PERSPECTIVE
As a GM, I come to a game with a set of expectations as to what my players will do during a session, including, but not limited to:
• know most of the rules, and ask questions about the others
• learn how characters and the game world interact
• pay attention
• enjoy the narrative of the story-line
• act out characters
• collaborate with the other players
• have fun

I’ve also come to understand that a group of committed players enjoying themselves will typically do about 75% of these; which is fine, as long as “have fun” is somewhere in there. It might be great for everyone to come prepared with a carefullly researched and crafted character, and it probably makes for a richer, deeper game, but realistically it just won’t always happen.

To enjoy a game a player has to have an understanding of what they are doing. A character generator that removes that understanding inhibits enjoyment of the game by making the character mechanically incomprehensible for most play systems. A good build is useless without some knowledge of its implications, and inhibits having fun if it is mysterious and incomprehensible to the player.

THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE
As a player, I have slightly different expectations. I know the groups I’ve played with all seem to enjoy different aspects of the game. These can be primarily broken into two groups:

The Artist
This player enjoys creating interesting characters, sometimes with unexpected traits. Some temper this so the character can be effective in the game world, and thus more involved in the story. For others, the reverse seems to be true: they start from a fairly blank slate and draw out the character from the actions taken during gameplay, laboring only to create one who will take effective actions. Still others go further to extremes, creating bizarre and often unplayable characters.

The Engineer
There may very well be a graphing calculator or spreadsheet involved, because these folks enjoy the mathematical permutations and precise calculations of creating a character that is purpose-built. While personality and story is a factor, it is secondary to the build mechanic.

I fall primarily into the first category myself. There’s a certain appeal, I’ll admit, to the Engineer, but I lost my love for that sort of endeavor years ago. You see, I spent a summer designing mecha upon mecha for a tabletop wargame called Battletech. But when the hour of completion neared, I began to realize that the GM had no intention of actually playing the simulation as a massive dropship game, sure to be a fight of epic proportions…oh, the glory that was not! He simply enjoyed, and assumed his players enjoyed, crafting the pieces. Even with the computers of the time (early 90’s) we could have done it faster, but we would have missed fretting over the small decisions of armor vs. weight v.s ammo capacity.

Engineers enjoy the thrill of the build. Artists want to tell a story (efficacy coming in a distant second).

THE APPLICATION

Character Generators can facilitate quick and effective ends for the needs of both these player personalities as well as accommodating the needs and desires of the GM perspective, but only when used judiciously.

Here’s what I think Pathguy did right: his character generator was fluid and helpful, and allowed you to “see” the rules as you went through the build process. It didn’t mask them or create copy pasta out of inputs, but walked you through the relevant choices and bypassed rules not related, but still allowed you to glance at them as you scrolled down. It encourages the player to consult the related rules and sourcebooks, rather than depend on an output charsheet note.

A character generator needs to facilitate rather than inhibit an understanding of the rules; a helping hand rather than a crutch.

There are more generators out there that fall into the crutch category than don’t, however. A very quick search will lead you to whole-cloth character generators, with everything from family relationships, to appearance, to complete backstory. And if you’re stuck, those can help… but if you aren’t interested enough to create something, will you play it? A “disgruntled, fine boned young man with a bad arm who is from the sea and lives with an army of undead” doesn’t think you will. Thanks http://whothefuckismydndcharacter.com/

“Artist” and “Engineer” must perform a balanced calculation to make a really good gaming experience, and GM’s and players must work together to really optimize the outcome. And the right generator is only one of many tools that helps the player and GM get there.

Matt Orbach is a raconteur, an alchemist, a some-time magician and a noted character creator. He should always play a bard.

Star Wars: Lords of Nal Hutta Review

February 15, 2015 1 comment

SWE11_book_leftThe Lords of Nal Hutta sourcebook for Hutt Space just came out for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this release, as one of the groups I play Star Wars with has repeatedly crossed the Hutts from the Beginner Box and the extension of that called The Long Arm of the Hutt, as well as their most recent adventures on Cloud City in Jewel of Yavin. It only seems fitting that the campaign ends with taking the fight straight to the heart of Hutt space on Nar Shadaa, or maybe even a throne world.

The first thing I noticed about this book was it’s heft. It felt a lot heavier than the typical profession sourcebooks, and sure enough, it weighs in at 144 pages compared to 96 for the professions. The only other sector sourcebook is Suns of Fortune for the Corellian sector, which follows the exact same format. Four sections: History and background information, hyperspace maps and notable planets, new player options with new races and equipment, and finally modular encounters that the GM can drop in based on location. Some of the encounters are single scenes, others would be long enough for an entire session or two.

To this day, Suns of Fortune is the Edge book I’ve used the least. I think this is for a variety of reasons. The new races and player options were not all that compelling with Selonians, Dralls, and Corellian Humans. With Corellia and the surrounding worlds being squarely in the Core Worlds, it didn’t seem to match what I feel is the aesthetic of *EDGE* of the Empire. Granted, Edge doesn’t have to be geographical as much as being on the fringes of established society, but to me it seems more true to form scratching out shady living on the notorious gangster moon of Nar Shadaa than it does racing or gambling on Corellia.

SWE11-speciesLords of Nal Hutta has likely benefited from years of development for the system. While it follows the exact same structure as Suns, both the player options and modular encounters are way more compelling.

First off, let’s take a look at new races: Sakiyans, Niktos, Ganks, and Hutts. Yes, you can play as a Hutt. Sakiyans are lithe, intelligent hunters and trackers, and their homeworld is the home of the Assassin’s Guild. Niktos come in five different flavors: Red (desert), Green (forest), Mountain (Bluish-grey), Pale (ocean), and Southern. All have different special abilities based on the area they are from. Reds start with a rank in Resilience, Greens with Coordination, Mountains with Survival, and so forth. Ganks start with cybernetic enhancements, and while wookiepedia doesn’t back me up, it seems like General Grievous is a Gank. Militaristic and warlike, they often collect trophies from their victims, more cybernetics means greater prestige, they are always clad head to toe in high-tech battle armor. Sound like anyone from the movies? All of these options are interesting in their own way. I don’t think I would choose to play a Hutt myself, but it’s interesting that it’s an option. Just the options presented here would make an awesome gang.

SWE11-WheetaPalaceThe modular encounters include a game of cat and mouse with Space Pirates, searching for spice-producing mushrooms on Toydaria, a marketplace shootout, a Hutt dinner turned gladiator match (of course), and finally a treasure hunt on a Hutt throne world. So much awesome adventure awaits!

This book is fantastic, filled with awesome history and backstory of Hutts, their clans and Kajidics, as well as great player options and adventure seeds. If you like the central themes of Edge of the Empire, this book will not disappoint!

Back to the Classics: Returning to the Temple of Elemental Evil

February 8, 2015 6 comments

The Temple

When I realized the 5th Edition was built with a mind to accommodate classic concepts, I started thinking what I do when any edition of D&D comes out…. TEMPLE OF ELEMENTAL EVIL.

I love this module, LOVE IT.  When I was a kid I played it three times, read it cover to cover, and played it a few more times over the intervening years. I ran it for a group in college, and some variation of those characters and that group for 15 years.  It, like the other classics of D&D (Slave Lords, Giants, and Demonweb Pits, to  name a few) are amazing, iconic stories that are world defining.  When I realized that quite a number of our local grognards had somehow missed the opportunity to play this classic, I knew it was time to see what 5th Edition Temple looked like.

Conversion to a new system is always a crap shoot.  There is always a temptation to convert straight over from the original, without considering the change in difficulty from older editions of the game to the new.  Right now I’m in the early conversion stages (having converted over the Village of Homlett) with a tentative readiness to recalibrate everything after the first TPK. The problem for me is that 5th Edition is so new, and my experience with it so limited (Beginner Box and a couple of Adventurer’s League mods) that am not sure how powerful I can anticipate the players will be.  I know that in the Beginner Box, they took on and defeated a monster or two that I would never have thought possible at that level in any other edition.  5th Edition has a way of letting half the party get knocked to negatives in any combat but suddenly be all up and triumphant by the end.  It’s really confusing to plan around for a conversion and CR’s seem almost irrelevant.  So far, I’m doing a straight conversion to what’s in the monster manual and waiting to see what happens.  I anticipate things are going to become unhinged when they walk into their first room full of bugbears, as apparently 5E thinks very highly of bugbears.  Very highly.  But Temple was tough, and characters died. And that’s something that’s been missing from games for me lately… I’m a little worried death won’t even be a concern in 5th edition, but the Temple always seems to come through in that department, so for now I’m relaxing and seeing what happens.

There are a number of encounters that I look forward to running that genuinely kicked the crap out of my characters every time we went through them, and I’m sure the first encounter most people remember from this series is the most deadly.  I remember our cleric casting his two healing spells and limping back to town and sleeping for three days . Strange though it may sound, it’s exactly that kind of experience I want my players to have…  Not the hopeless slaughter but the challenge and the peril and the overcoming of incredible obstacles.  I want them to never think about a giant tick as being something to sneeze at.  I want them to start carving up the bellies of each monster they find in the hope that there is hidden loot inside.  I want the citizens of Homlett to come alive and become single name icons for a type of character or personality trait (‘Stop being such an Elmo’). Some of the oddball characters that can rise to the fore in a game like this can be surprising.  A few bad guys became good guys in our campaign, and a few good guys became bad guys in others.  Some nobodies became demi-gods (Gwyneth Lilburne, the Silver Stitch; Black Jay, the Patron Saint of Gnollish worship of St. Cuthbert….. yeah, that). I want it to breathe for them the way it breathes for me.

The thing about Temple of Elemental Evil is it is largely a sandbox.  After playing Paizo’s adventure paths for years, it’s refreshing to play a sandbox game where you can really open up options to the players.  I was surprised and amused when one player expressed slight concern that it was ‘too sandboxy’.  I was puzzled that it could be a downside, but I think that kind of freedom can be a little daunting when you’re not used to it.  I think after getting  a taste of it, people are going to wonder why they ever did it any other way.

However, I will say that I have a few fears and reservations.  Going back over the module and reading the campy box text about seeking fame and fortune, I noticed that a lot of the memories that were in this mod were placed there by great GM’s and great players.  Many towns folk are just named ‘Farmer’ and ‘Wainright’.  Much of the rich story has been added in my brain, and the justifications elaborated on to the point where memory greatly surpasses the actual published text.  What if you can’t go home again? What if you can’t go back to Homlett? There’s a legitimate fear there, that maybe this module doesn’t stand up to the test of time, that others might not appreciate it for what it is.  Maybe my low standards and youthful enthusiasm made up for a lot of shortcomings that my older self won’t enjoy.  My feeling is it will prove itself, but there is that fear.

The Good Ol’ Moathouse

Wizard’s announcement that the Temple of Elemental Evil was going to be a feature of this season’s campaign theme strikes me both as a sign of the merits of this series and also as a maybe an unwelcome travelling companion on this journey.  If they redo it, what will it be like?  Will it distract from, enhance, mitigate or overdevelop elements of my story, the old module, the known universe?  Will it be set in my beloved Greyhawk? What will it do?

Temple has been a known quantity for over 20 years.  Changing the mythos tempts fate.  Maybe they do it right, maybe not.  My understanding is that the new material is different than the Temple itelf  Maybe that falls in line… complimenting, not changing.

While this blog post is about the why of starting up Temple, future ones will be the how.  Look back for conversion tips from the Village of Homlett under the category Elemental Evil.  I’d post more now but Wednesday, we head for the Moathouse!

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