Game Night, Sessions 14-16, Zombies & A Bug, Oh My!

A little catching up is in order since there has been 3 game nights since my last post… sorry about that.  I’ve let that pesky “normal life” thing get in the way of things 😉

Lysandra, Bran, Fang and Theren team up quite well and go to work to finish off the zombies.  Then there is a pesky bug to stop, and, of course, that’s not all…

The group work their way from the tower out to the remainder of the zombies.  Theren makes good use of his sensory link to Tolthas for recon.

It takes very little time to find the remaining ogre zombies and reanimated villagers. They pull out all the stops for a final fight with the zombies.  Fang makes good use of a spell of entanglement to help slow down the lumbering ogre zombies.  With the group numbering four now, dispatching zombies takes far less time and less sacrifice of blood.

The bug creature is spotted soon after the last zombie falls.  The group decides that the bug cannot escape.  They pursue it and engage it.

The bug decides to try and dispatch the group quickly by conjuring a poison fog.  Bran takes the brunt of the poison while the rest resist it to some degree.  Once again, Fang comes through with a spell to conjure a globe of swirling winds around him.  Using it disperses a significant amount of the poison fog quickly.  Lysandra heals Bran and they head into melee with the bug.

The bug is not stupid.  It sees that the group is more capable than it thought, given how they dispatched the poison cloud so fast.  But it will not let a group of lesser meat sacks conquer it and it relishes the fight.

Bran, Theren, Fang and Lysandra realize quickly that the bug creature is strong and a capable fighter, but they don’t want it to escape.  Again, Bran’s combat prowess proves very valuable as he doles out damage despite the bug creature’s naturally heavy armor.  It’s carapace is strong and thick.

Ultimately, the group prove themselves the better combatants.  The bug creature falls to the onslaught, clearly underestimating them.

A quick search of the body reveals, among other things of value, a note…

“Find the Chosen.  Set a trap to test their abilities.  Report back. –Erebus”

Apparently the bug was not supposed to kill the group, AND it was supposed to survive…

Questions about this immediately come to their minds.  Then they notice smoke near the lake shore and realize it’s near where Fisk put them ashore and is still waiting for their return.

Lysandra spies a villager returning from one of the hiding spots in the woods to see what has happened.  She let’s him know that the villagers are now safe, tells him to find her father and runs off with the group to find out what is amiss by the lake shore.

At the lake shore they find that Captain Fisk’s boat has been burned to the waterline and there is no sign of him.  They scout the area and discover Krell footprints.  Again, more questions fill their minds as they consider the possibility that Kogan has tracked them here and possibly murdered their ally from Piketon.

Suddenly uncertain about what to do next, they return to South Haven to discuss things and answer some questions for Lysandra. She bears the sigil of Mentari’s Secret on her left hand like them, but knows nothing else.  She wants the rest of the group to fill her in.

Lysandra is relieved to find her father unharmed, and after talking with some of the villagers about what happened and that things now appeared to be safe, the group is invited to rest and recover as needed.

There is concern over how this bug creature and its zombies knew to show up in the village.  There is concern over how Kogan also managed to catch up with them.  But they still have no idea how this is happening.  The group feels compelled to get to Welandar City and find the hidden library in the castle dungeon.  Based on what they do know and Mert’s instructions, getting to that book should provide some insight as to what might be going on.

With Lysandra brought up to speed – which convinces her to join in their quest, they hire a river boat pilot to take them down the Welandar River to the kingdom capital.  Lysandra says goodbye to her father and the group, now numbering four, continue their trek toward Welandar City to find a secret book in a secret library.

Night one of the trip sees them camping on the river bank. They have to deal with the recurring shared dreams that come to haunt them in their sleep and remind them that darkness is coming.  Otherwise, it is a peaceful night of camping.

There next stop is the trading town of Fork.  The riverboat pilot lands them at the docks below the town of Fork and the group makes plans to spend the night there before continuing on to Welandar City.

The walled town of Fork is a bustling trade town located at the confluence of the Welandar River and the Border River.  There are also a couple of roads that converge here.  The town never completely sleeps due to merchants and traders arriving and leaving around the clock to move goods from Fork to other parts of the Kingdom and those with whom they trade.

So, the group do a little shopping and set themselves up to spend the night in one of the busier inns near the market area.  Lysandra has been concerned that Theren does not like her given his standoffish personality and the fact that their “trades” are very different (she is a cleric of Nira the Life Giver; he is a warlock that has made a pact with an eldritch being of power).  She purchases a nice scroll case to give him as a gift of friendship.  She hopes that he will appreciate it and use it to protect the special scroll he carries.  This does not seem to be the case when Lysandra presents the gift to Theren…

While in Fork, discussion of where they should go comes up again.  The need to find allies and information is very evident.  The concern about if and/or how they are being tracked has grown significant.  The group is not certain that going straight to Welandar City to find a way into the secret library is the best course of action anymore.  They consider going to Braiton, where this all started, to talk with Perry, the man who helped get all this started.  They also consider the possibility that being near Perry, a known ally, might help deal with the threat that Kogan has become.  They can also get word back to Piketon through Perry about Captain Fisk.

As they continue downriver toward Welandar City, they are ambushed by Krell from the river bank. Bran, Theren, Lysandra and Fang quickly realize that these Krell aren’t ordinary.  They are well trained soldiers and very capable with the weapons at their disposal.  There also gets the strange feeling he had when Slythis – and now Kogan – was nearby.  This reinforces the idea that Kogan is carrying some sort of talisman that has influence over him like the bone dagger had over Slythis.  There is also some concern about what sort of changes Kogan is undergoing… like Slythis did.

The battle between the riverboats and the bank is tough.  The Krell soldiers are well trained and do not get shaken in the face of adversity.  It is initially uncertain if the group can defeat these soldiers… until Fang calls upon his druidic powers and sets upon the Krell with a beam of radiant energy from the sky.  The damage he is able to deal levels the playing field and allows for the group to begin shifting the flow of the fight.

In the end, Lysandra’s healing power, Bran’s combat prowess, Theren’s ability with eldritch magic and Fang’s radiant energy spell overwhelm the Krell soldiers.  They fall except for one that had remained hidden during the fight, and that one is noticed running away from the river through the woods.  They know he will be reporting back to an absent Kogan.  Where was Kogan?  Theren felt a presence, but the group never saw him.  They begin to wonder about the tactics being used by Kogan.

After scouting the area of the fight, they float a little further downriver for another night of camping.  Sometime the next day they will be at the entrance to Welandar City.  Then what?

So, what now?  As of right now the group is sticking with the plan of going to Welandar City to start figuring out a way into the secret library.  They are at a loss as to how the bug and Kogan keep finding them.  The encounter with Kogan and his soldiers makes some sense; Kogan made the assumption that they would head to South Haven and then downriver to Welandar City.  The group’s route took them from Piketon to Lon-Kar and THEN to South Haven, a route that took them along the edge of The Great Lake.  Kogan only had to cross the lake from Piketon.

But how did the bug know where to go? Did it know that the group would be there or just Lysandra who has lived there all her life until now? Who is Erebus?  By what means are they being tracked?  What will Kogan become if he has a talisman like the one that transformed Slythis?  What will they find in Welandar City?  How can they convince the right people to let them into the castle and look for a secret royal library?

Stay tuned 😉

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  If you have a question or comment, by all means speak up.  I would love to hear from you.

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Game Night: Player Connection

cropped-game-dice.jpg HeadScratcher Joystick

What separates the tabletop RPG from the video game RPG?

The depth of the connection…

When video game capabilities – graphics, audio, etc. – started soaring, I honestly wondered if the tabletop RPG was going to, if not outright die, get close to death.  Within the scope of my awareness, I noticed that friends of mine and my daughter’s and people we know, in general, were steadily gravitating toward video game RPGs versus tabletop RPGs like D&D.  It made some sense to me that the younger generations might do this, but I was a little surprised when my friends and acquaintances (folks my age) – and in many cases, fellow tabletop gamers – started going for the video games over the tabletop.

That was not the case with me.  First, it was partly due to the fact that I had very limited money to spend on video games, etc.  I couldn’t buy all the latest hot video game RPGs that were out.  The ones I got I enjoyed a lot,  but the second reason, and likely the biggest reason for me, came into play.  It was the fact that I just didn’t see the appeal of the video game over the theater of the mind that I could conjure at the tabletop.  And this is why I decided to bring it up here…

With some of the newer video games out there, I’ll have to admit that the separation between video game and tabletop is definitely not as large as it used to be.  The graphics are better than ever.  The sound in some of these games is exquisite.  There are some well-written stories out there, too, for the RPG genre of video games.  So, the immersion is pretty good and playing such a video game RPG can be a pretty awesome experience.

BUT…

The experience at the tabletop, in my opinion, can simply be next level.

The more “massive” a video game RPG becomes the more open it feels.  What I’m saying is that, in some cases, the more complex and intelligent the programming and the more content that developers cram into a video game, the more it appears to portray a fluid and open world.  That is, of course, IF it is well written and there are many player options built in.

The fluidity and openness of  the tabletop RPG, though, is only limited by the DM/GM and the players.  It’s their combined imagination that creates the world, the theme, the setting and the action.  Those characteristics can change in a moments notice at the tabletop when a scenario drives it to.  The depth of the world and the possible options of where the characters go and who or what they interact with in a tabletop RPG are technically boundless.  The video game RPG, however, is still limited by its programming.  There are a certain number of options and that’s it.  Not necessarily a bad thing to be sure, but there are NO limits at the table and in the theater of the mind.

Now when it comes to visual and aural stimulation, I will again tip my hat to the video game RPG.  Like I mentioned above, the graphics, sound and music have become incredible with 4K high-definition and 5.1 (or more) digital surround (yes, many of these games contain this stuff now).  There is little need to try and imagine what the evil dragon looks like because it’s been rendered in stunning detail on the screen.  You can hear and almost feel the concussion of the fireball when it bursts into “existence” at the mage’s command. The clang of sword on sword echoing through the mountains during an epic battle is pretty awesome.

But the video game is still limited and, ultimately, fixed in its scope.  Even with a significant number of options, there is always a chance that the player finds a limit – a choice that the programming does not allow for.  It’s that limit that can hurt the experience.  Beside that, what about the gray areas?  The video game gives you choices, but not all the subtle options between choice A and choice B 😉

I think that is where the tabletop RPG can outshine the video game every time.  The ability to find the path between the paths and make the experience your own is always possible in the tabletop RPG.  This can help create a much deeper connection to the character for the player, not to mention the connection it can form with the DM/GM, other players and the world that has been created and continues to evolve in “real-time” inside their imagination.

There is also a deeper emotional attachment and sense of accomplishment with the game and the characters in the tabletop RPG.  One reason for this is the additional investment that must be made in creating a character.  While video games have come a long way in character creation, the limited scope and fixed options stifle the depth of character exploration that can be achieved in the tabletop game.  Again, the detail and subtle aspects of character background and personality are only limited by the player’s investment in the creation of his or her character for a tabletop RPG.  Plus, the video game has a fixed set of rules and options.  The tabletop RPG rules and options can be tweaked and things added on the fly allowing for unique character abilities that simply aren’t available in a video game.

While the DM/GM can’t render beautiful graphics and create killer sound for the tabletop experience, the intensity and drama are still there.  The players have spent time creating their characters, and the effort has helped them get to know those characters.  The DM/GM has spent time and effort creating the campaign world and learning about the players’ characters alongside them during creation.  Character backgrounds are created and integrated into the campaign world which further strengthens the connections of DM to players to characters to world.  So when the characters are in danger, the players, who are now a little attached to their characters, get concerned and tense.  They don’t want those characters to die.  All that energy put into those characters has meaning and the players and DM want to see them win the battle and get the fame and fortune.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is some of that element in video games, especially in the newer ones that are much better developed.  But the next character is just a few button clicks away and the options for those characters are still limited to what the game was programmed to provide.  Again, that can take away from the player when he or she finds that limit.  While the video game is still great fun, the connection between character and player is likely not as deep.  And… well… the DM/GM is the program, not another person working with the player to add as much depth and color as their imagination can provide.

So, what do you think? Am I way off base here?  Have you ever played a tabletop RPG?  Have you ever played a video game RPG?  Which is more appealing to you?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.  Let’s see if this old dog who’s stuck in the old days of pencil and paper at the tabletop to play in a world of cyberpunk, swords & sorcery or whatever can learn something new.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  I really want to hear from you, so leave me a comment.  I want to know what you think about what I’ve posted.  A conversation is always better than a monologue…

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Game Night… Consent?

I need to mention, up front, that I have not downloaded this thing from Monte Cook games (yet), so some of the thoughts that have been formed in my head are based on the threads/arguments/rants that I have read.  Please, forgive AND inform me if I have something skewed.

I’ve been playing tabletop role-playing games for over 3 decades.  Too say the least, I’m old… school. So when this RPG CONSENT CHECKLIST was published by Monte Cook Games and all the discussions began, I admittedly scratched my head.

Image result for rpg consent checklist

It just didn’t make sense to me.  Part of the reason for that was some of the more volatile threads I was seeing concerning using or not using this checklist and simply the point of it in the first place.  I just didn’t see why some folks felt the need to make all the proverbial noise they were making.  It’s just gaming.  Each to their own…

The other reason was that “old… school” thing.  Of all the gaming groups I have been with over the years, I just couldn’t recall a need for something like a consent checklist, and that included groups that were mixed with adults and kids and/or male and female.  If there was some concern over a type of content in the game, there was a discussion (group and/or individual) and we moved on with adjustments made.

As a DM/GM, I have always been upfront about the content of my campaigns.  When there was an issue over something in my campaign, it was discussed.  We resolved the issue and continued on.  The resolution was not always perfect, but I never passed judgement on those that brought up the issue.  I never felt any need.  I would rather work something out and understand the issue rather than be a jerk and hurt feelings and lose players.  So, maybe that’s why I’m initially uncertain about the value of this checklist.

With that said…

This checklist could be quite useful when trying to form a new group.  It is a convenient collection of possible contents in a campaign that a person can go through and give their acceptance (or lack thereof) to in a written form that the DM/GM can quickly read and get a preliminary understanding of potential player requirements.  He/She can then go through and choose players that appear to be the best fit for the intended content of the campaign.

When you don’t know people, admitting being squeamish or having issues with certain content might sometimes be difficult.  So, having a form like this makes it a little less personal than having to explain issues face to face.  It’s a win then and carries some value.

I don’t know that I will use it since I am the type of person that is more than willing to discuss these things directly and without judgement.  But if a possible player approached me and gave a checklist to me, I would not be offended in the least.  Some folks are just better at communicating that way.  I would go over it and see it as an opportunity to begin a conversation with that person/potential player.

That brings me to the next point I’d like to make…

Who gives a shit if some people want to use this checklist and some don’t?  I guess I don’t see the point of all the “angst” this has seemed to create.  It’s a tool that can be used or not.  It might help some socially awkward folks better communicate with potential gaming groups about concerns they have over the content of a game.  If it helps better inform, what’s the problem?  If you don’t want to use it, so what?  It’s up to the individual to decide whether to use this checklist and whether to try and interact with other individuals that decide the opposite way.  If you don’t like how a DM/GM handles things, you don’t have to be a part of that group… walk away.

Look.  I understand that gaming has many personal facets to it.  I have gotten to know gamers over the years way better sometimes than casual friends. It’s amazing what you learn about people when you play RPGs with them. There is potential to strike some deep chords with individuals with certain types of situations, even if it is just in a game.  I have even creeped myself out while running a game because of situations the players helped me create.  I understand where this checklist idea probably came from.

I still don’t understand why, though, this has seemed to boil up like it has.  I think some folks are being too rash about this.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to use or not use a checklist like this.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to have conversations about possible content in a game before starting that game.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to have a combination of these things.  I don’t see a reason to judge people either way.

The fear of being a bit vulnerable is, I guess, why this seemed to escalate.  When there is concern over the content of a game, folks with the concern must admit that concern making themselves feel, at least, a bit vulnerable.  Just discussing the possible use of this checklist makes folks think about vulnerability, and I suppose, opinions are strong because of it.

Again, though, I’m going to admit to not understanding the tension this has created.  Some people like the idea of the checklist, some don’t.  There’s no need to argue about whether it should be used and be butt-hurt if there is disagreement.  Quite frankly, if you’re going to try and ram your side of an argument down my throat, I’m not going to be interested in wanting you around as a fellow gamer (or person) anyway.

Everybody has the freedom to choose.  Gamers can choose with whom they will group up.  If part of the criteria for joining or not joining a group is the use of the checklist, so be it.  You do you, and I’ll do me.

I would appreciate hearing from you folks about his.  Do I have this wrong?  What other insight is there concerning the consent checklist in gaming?

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click the like button.  If you have something to say about this post, please, leave a comment.  I always want to hear what other people think.  Conversation is much more fun than monologue.

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Game Night, Session 13; Where’s The Off Switch???

So, in the down time with Fang’s player being out of pocket, we invited another player to join us.  She’s either a glutton for punishment, or… I. DON’T. KNOW. 😉

Welcome, player of Lysandra Bellatore; human cleric of Nira the Life-Bringer!

We ended session 12 during a lull in the fight against the zombie hoard that had formed in South Haven.  Theren, Bran and Fang had taken down an Ogre zombie and several zombies that they suspected were local villagers that had been killed and animated by some nefarious means.

Lysandra’s player was brought in on Sunday night for session 13.  But as DM, I don’t like to just throw another character in the group.  Lysandra Bellatore is actually from South Haven.  Lysandra’s player finds her new character in a bit of a predicament…

Bran, Fang and Theren take a breather as the last zombie in the first wave falls at the base of the bridge.  Bran looks around and spots a stone defense tower a short run from the bridge up the river bank.  It looks like it’s meant to defend against anybody that might try to cause trouble to South Haven from the river.  Bran let’s the others know that he thinks that would be a good spot to regroup and figure out how to handle the rest of the zombies.

Before they can get moving, Bran and Theren believe they hear a woman yelling for help…

***

Lysandra Bellatore’s eyes flutter open.  She feels battered and bruised, but otherwise unhurt.  She instantly realizes that she is having a hard time catching her breath and that she is heavily pinned down.  It seems that after whatever knocked her out decided to collapse a house on her.  The memory of that insect-like creature striking her flashes through her mind.

Before Lysandra allows herself to panic, though, she listens and looks around at her situation.  She hears movement nearby and someone shouting in the distance, but she can’t see from underneath the rubble.  She then tests some movement to see if she can get out from underneath the rubble easily.  “Easy” is NOT going to happen.

Again, stifling panic, she prays to Nira for the strength to break free.  Whether the goddess hears her or not, Lysandra calms herself and gathers all the strength she has.  She begins to push against the collapsed wall.  It moves.  She pushes more until she feels her strength about to give out, but as she is about to give up, the wall moves enough for her to wriggle free.

Lysandra lies still on the ground for a moment, breathing deeply and thankful to be free of the wreckage that was once her neighbor’s home.

She then gets up and takes in her surroundings.  She’s looking for the source of the shouting she heard before.  She suddenly realizes that there are zombies – one particularly large zombie – uncomfortably close to her.  She also sees the group a short run across the village from her.  The zombies are between them and her.

With the decision made to risk drawing undue zombie attention, Lysandra sprints toward the group and calls out to them.

***

Bran, Theren and Fang begin their move to the stone defense tower when they hear a woman shouting for help.  They see her running toward them… THROUGH the zombies.

A sudden change of plans to “rescue the girl” is executed and the group joins the fray.

Quite a battle ensues with damage given and taken, but two ogre zombies along with several human zombies begins to shift the odds even against the group now counting 4.  So, they break from the battle and rush for the stone tower as planned.

Upon reaching the tower, the original trio introduce themselves to Lysandra who reciprocates.  Then they begin trying to figure out how to handle the zombies.

Bran, being a trained soldier decides to make use of the two ballistae mounted on the top of the tower for use against enemies striking from the river.  His skills prove very effective as significant amounts of damage are dealt to the ogre zombies.

In short order, the battle will be at the base of the tower…

And this is where we ended the night, right after Lysandra, whose combat effectiveness was thwarted throughout the evening by the dice rolls, took one final shot at one of the ogre zombies.  She rolled a critical hit to end the night.  Let’s hope that continues in the next session 😉

It took a short time to get Lysandra and her player “synced up” in Fantasy Grounds (character creation and learning the interface).  Then the combat took the remainder of the evening.  Tabletop players will understand.  For the layman, D&D (and other RPGs) combat mechanics can get involved, especially when the group wants to switch from theater of the mind to something a bit more interactive and tactical.  FG has the ability to work through combat encounters with exceptional capability of simulating D&D 5E combat mechanics, so why not use them 😉

Session 14 should see the conclusion of the fight with the zombies… one way or the other.  While the group is in a slightly more defensible position, nearly mindless zombies will simply begin working on the tower to bring it down until they can get to their intended targets.  Then there is the bug-like creature that appears to be the reason for the creation of the zombie hoard…

If you like what you’ve read here, let me know by hitting the like button.  If you have questions or comments, please, post them for me.  A conversation is so much more fun than a monologue.

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Wow! 60 Followers… Thank You

There are 60 people in this world that have decided that my little blog is worth following.  Thank you!  I really do appreciate it.

I’ve always claimed that I write for myself. I do write for myself.  I wouldn’t write if I didn’t want to or I did not find it enjoyable.

BUT…

I write for you, too.  Pride boost aside, it’s exciting to know that there are others in the world that want to read what I’ve written.  It motivates me to keep going because now I have more than one reason to write 🙂

It’s even more exciting getting the likes and the comments.  That tells me that what I’ve written has inspired you enough to let me know that you like my stuff and/or want to discuss, critique, argue… whatever, about what I’ve written.  Feedback, good or bad, means that you took the time to read it and were motivated enough by what you read to give that feedback.  I really do feel grateful for that.  And I’ll keep going for you.

60 followers… it’s a good feeling.

Thanks again.

Game Night, Session 12; So Much for a Nice Float Down the River…

Rewarded and given a weapons upgrade – +1 weapons were an upgrade for the group at this point, Theren, Fang and Bran are leaving Lon-Kar to make the trip to Welandar City.  Their plan was to have Captain Fisk (from Piketon) sail them to the village of South Haven at the mouth of the Welandar River.  From there, they would hire a riverboat pilot to take them downriver to The City.  They had no illusions about the possible difficulties the journey might have in store.  With Kogan, the Krell war captain after them and no idea about his abilities and reach, the group was traveling with the mindset that they would be dealing with danger along the way.

But they weren’t quite ready for this…

Captain Fisk uses his expertise to provide a smooth and efficient ride toward South Haven.  Over the nearly 2-day cruise, Fang brews a couple of healing potions in preparation for the next “bump in the road”.

A few miles from South Haven, the group spots a significant amount of smoke over where the village is supposed to be located.  To get a better “look”, Theren dispatches Tolthas – his familiar pseudodragon-like creature – into the air.  Using his telepathic link, Theren looks through the eyes of his familiar as it gets a little closer to South Haven.

What is seen is not good.  It appears that parts of the village are on fire and/or in ruin.  As Tolthas makes a final pass, a large humanoid is seen moving through the northern crops.  It looks like an ogre… that has died… trying to pursue Tolthas.

A discussion aboard the fishing boat takes place as they try to decide what, if anything, they should do. A zombie ogre and possibly other zombies is not what the group had in mind.

The group agrees that something must be done, especially if there are any survivors in the village.  They don’t want to just pull up to a pier and try to storm the village.  They have no clear knowledge of the zombie situation.

It’s Captain Fisk that comes up with a sound plan.  He wants to land on the opposite side of the Welandar River from the village and allow the group to approach by stealth.  Fisk agrees to wait for one day for them.  If he does not hear from them at the end of that day, he will sail to every landing along the lake shore to warn others of the situation at South Haven.

With a plan in mind, Fisk guides the fishing boat to the shore.  Fang, Theren and Bran debark and find a foot path that leads to the bridge to South Haven.  Theren sends Tolthas ahead to scout.  Tolthas does, in fact, spot other zombies milling about in the ruined parts of the village.  Theren also perceives – through the telepathic link – an insect-looking creature skulking about.  It walks on two legs and has four limbs the equivalent of arms.

None of them have any idea what the bug-like creature could be and begin to wonder what is really happening in the village.

The group reaches the east side of the bridge and huddles there to try and get a read on what they are about to encounter.  Tolthas makes another pass at Theren’s command.  With the “lay of the land” before them, they decide to move onto the bridge and start a fight.

“Zombies, zombies everywhere” becomes the mantra as the group engages a wave of villagers turned zombies and, apparently, one of an unknown number of ogre zombies.  The give and take of the fight is substantial, but better tactics and some strategic use of eldritch magic on Theren’s part and healing from Fang puts the group on the winning side of the fight… for now.

The first wave of zombies is put down, but more are making their way to where the ruckus is on the village side of the bridge, and there’s no sign of the bug-creature…

And that’s where the session ended.  Tune in for the next session 😉

By the way, it will be a bit for the next session post.  Fang’s player is out of pocket for about another week.  So, it might be a week or two before the next session.  If you have any ideas for some post topics, let me know.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click that like button.  I also welcome questions and comments.  I hope to hear from you.

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Long Distance Tabletop Gaming. I CAN BE TAUGHT

cropped-game-dice.jpg I have been a gamer for over 30 years now. Yep, I’m one of those old farts from the 80s that worshiped Gygax; I guess I still do to some degree 😉

When I moved from my home town to establish myself as an “adult” in the world, I moved away from my gaming friends.  It was a sad thing for me for sure.

But I didn’t set too idle.  I found another gaming group as soon as I could.  I have been fortunate to not be shy or self-conscious about being a tabletop gamer.  So, I have freely talked about it when the chance has presented itself.  That helped me to meet other gamers in my new town all those years ago, and I was able to continue my hobby for a while longer.

Things change, though, as they always do.

I played with different RPG groups for quite some time after I successfully started meeting gamers where I lived.  We played a variety of games including Alternity, Vampire and Shadowrun.  I established a couple of good friendships, too, making life in my new location something enjoyable.  But changes and obligations in my life and other people’s lives helped reduce the amount of game nights to effectively zero after a while.

It happens.  I wasn’t friends with all the people on my gaming groups.  Sometimes we quit getting along.  Others moved away.  Others still, had to put gaming aside for a myriad of other reasons.  So, the groups faded and others quit forming.

I went through a dry spell until my daughter got old enough to really be interested in the fact that dad “had been a gamer”.  “Had been,” Bah!

I took advantage of her interest and taught her and her friends how to play D&D.  We gamed on Friday nights for a little over a year.  Then, as the kids evolved, they decided that they wanted to do it on their own – it’s not cool to keep hanging with the parents, apparently; heh, heh, heh.  And I can’t say that I had a problem with it.  I had taught them which was a very rewarding experience, and I understood their point of view.

Besides, I had other prospects floating around again with gamers closer to my own age.  So, I transitioned into a another gaming group to play Shadowrun.  They were a pretty good group, except for one.  He refused to get along with me.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was me, but I’ll never know.  And that was my last group again for a bit.

Until recently…

Technology is a wonderful but sometimes scary thing.  I make a living in the electronics industry, so I embrace tech to get a paycheck (hey, that rhymed… yay me).  I’m so very glad that I don’t shun knew ways to do things with the help of new technology.  That is especially the case now because it has gotten me gaming again with some old hometown gamers/friends and one that lives over an hour away from me.

I’ve discovered the “virtual tabletop”.  My best friend (who lives 10 hours away) and I decided a while back that there had to be some way to get the gaming ball rolling again.  So, he and I started looking around for the means to run a tabletop RPG long distance.  We checked out a few sites and read a lot of forum threads trying to find what would work for us.  We kept coming back to one that stood out… a piece of software called Fantasy Grounds.

My buddy bought it and decided to try and get a Shadowrun game going through it.  The rest of our long distance group waited while he worked to make things happen.  Then we would download Fantasy Grounds and give it a go.  We were all pretty stoked.

But once again, that whole real life thing got in the way.  My buddy just didn’t have time to bring things together enough to start a Shadowrun game.  But he did sing the praises to the Fantasy Grounds software.  So, things kind of died on the vine… until I got pissed off about not having an RPG group.

I decided that I would make the time to learn Fantasy Grounds and get something going.  I announced a few months back that I was going to purchase Fantasy Grounds myself, along with a couple of the D&D 5E core rule-book modules for FG.  I also announced that I was putting together a home-brew campaign and that my buddy and the rest of the long distance group had first crack at being a part of my new group.  If not, I was going to find others – that’s how “angry” I was about not having a tabletop gaming group.

Needless to say, they all jumped on board.  Apparently they knew me well enough to know that my agitation was going to drive me to make this happen.  They let me know that they were looking forward to it.  That made me feel pretty good.  Thanks, guys.

Well, that ball did get rolling.  I am now running a D&D 5E home-brew campaign in my own custom world.  We are still learning Fantasy Grounds, but it’s going great.  FG is a rather powerful tool that runs the 5E game mechanics quite well, and it’s customizable to the nines.

We use Discord for voice chat and FG for game mechanic resolution and character sheets, etc.  All we had to do was be willing to learn, which for a gamer, is not hard at all 😉

It did not take long at all to adapt to sitting in front my computer and having only voice (we don’t all have webcams) and the FG interface to run/play a tabletop game.  The others in the group have all said the same thing.  Theater of the mind works quite well with our virtual tabletop.  We are all having a good time, and all we had to do was learn how to use the technology already available to us.

The software does not need a high-end computer or super-fast internet connection.  We need just enough bandwidth to handle voice and swap some data for the game.

Gaming once a week again – long distance – has been a nice restoration of my hobby.  Don’t let miles separate you from your gaming friends.  Don’t let yourself be deprived of something you enjoy.

I (WE) CAN BE TAUGHT…

If you have questions about long distance gaming, feel free to ask.  I’ll be happy to tell you how my group handles different things.  Fantasy Grounds is a little pricey, but I have decided it’s well worth it.  AND… only the DM/GM has to actually purchase it.  Players can download it and play for free.  That’s not to say, though, that things like Roll 20 don’t work.  We just decided the investment in FG was worth it.  It has been…

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Type to you later…