Professor Jimbles Presents! Still dying a lot.

[Note from Tinkergoth: Sorry for the long silence. Jimbles has had this post and another one ready to go for almost two weeks now, just waiting for me to go over them before publishing. Unfortunately I’ve been letting things slide, haven’t been feeling great physically or otherwise, so it’s been a struggle to do anything other than curl up on the couch of an evening and binge on anime (on the plus side, I’ve been catching up on series I’ve owned for ages and hadn’t got around to watching), haven’t even really felt like gaming recently. Anyway, finally not feeling so ill anymore, and the other stuff will sort itself out sooner or later, so starting today I’m forcing myself back into the blog. I’ll publish this and Jimbles’ other post first, and then get back to work on my own stuff. I now return you to your scheduled ramblings from Professor Jimbles.]

I’m beginning to think it’s something personal, and maybe stacking resistances and AC would be better for me.

Now, where was I?

Learned the hard way that Black Puddings are not delicious.

Felled by the Orc Hireling in a single strike.

Crushed by a brainwashed dragon after a Sudden Maximized disintegrate missed.

Oh, right. I’m going to leave out the Elemental Plane of Fire, it’s pretty obvious, and has little in storytelling value, despite the gales of laughter from the table when it happened.

I’m playing in a World’s Largest Dungeon game specifically designed to let the players experience as much as possible from the tortuous place. We are on a 32 point buy gestalt (any, not base only) with all of 3.5 available subject to approval. I can imagine hundreds of monocles popping from outraged eyes, but in defense of the game I raise two points.

  1. Action Economy (Paizo Forums has information, but it’s not a perfect description.)
  2. I’m really bad at optimizing.

So I’ve got nearly countless options ahead of me. I make a fighter-ranger who wielded light maces in the lightning hammer style, giving me another attack whenever I threat. I planned to take adaptable scimitars eventually, and score additional attacks about a fifth of the time. His name was Parker. He was a part-time novelist. He made the decision to become a wererat once it became clear the party was trapped in the dungeon. His answer to fiendish troglodytes is to draw and charge. Technically, if the party leader didn’t tell him to hold off, his default reaction to anything threatening was to draw and charge. It lasted about 7 levels, until our crack team broke past a incredibly difficult lock on huge marble doors. Inside was a HUGE black pudding. It had scoured its prison for all life, and was desperately hungry for fighter/ranger flesh. Reasoning that dessert never hurt anyone, Parker charged with both maces drawn.

This was ill-advised.

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Professor Jimbles Presents! Weird Situations

Hi there, Jimbles here again with a few more tales, but with a preamble first.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been writing posts that are just fluff entertainment, leaving all of the crunch to Keegan. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think I can do a bit better. Due to my documented inability to keep characters alive (See Does anyone else die a lot?, Part two on those horrible deaths incoming.) I’ve gotten pretty good at creating new characters. I’m going to codify it and make it interesting; then show you my 5 step process for streamlining a backstory. It’s by no means perfect, but it works.

But today, I’ve got a particular subject on my mind.  A bunch of my friends and fellow players are known for coming up with twisted situations and bending the established lore in such a nefarious way that the players are left flat-footed. Once, I asked one of them how on earth they come up with their ideas. It may have been an outburst along the lines of “WHERE DO YOU COME UP WITH THIS STUFF!?”

The answer was interesting. She said “Well, for this game I thought “How can I make a player make a bad choice for the right reasons?”

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Interview with Wendy N. Wagner, Author of Skinwalkers

And we’re back, with the third interview of the week, and probably the last for a little while. Don’t worry, more interviews will be forthcoming, as soon as I can find anyone willing to sit still long enough for me to bombard them with questions. As I’ve mentioned before, this interview is actually the first one I had scheduled, but was delayed due to the need to get the other interviews published while the related Kickstarter campaign still had plenty of run time. That’s out-of-the-way now, so it’s finally time.

After I reviewed Wendy N. Wagner’s first novel, Skinwalkers, I decided on a whim to send an email to Wendy asking if she would be interested in being my first interviewee for the blog. I’d been vaguely thinking about starting to try to interview various authors, designers and so on for a little while, and it seemed like an opportune time to start, since I was curious about the differences between writing short fiction and writing a novel, as well as the process of writing for an established setting like Pathfinder. Email sent, I figured it’d be a while before I heard back, and was pleasantly surprised to get a reply from Wendy within the next day, agreeing to the interview. So I whipped up some questions, fired them off, and am now ready to share the responses.

Now, before we get started, if you haven’t read my review of the novel Skinwalkers yet, I recommend doing so first. It might help give some context. You can find the review here: Review – Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers.

Wendy N. Wagner, wearing what I suspect is a Lovecraft Historical Society shirt (and if it is, I'm jealous).

Wendy N. Wagner, wearing what looks like a Lovecraft eZine t-shirt. Who doesn’t love Lovecraft?

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Interview with Morgan Boehringer, Independent RPG Designer & Publisher

As I mentioned at the end of my last update, I’ve got another interview for you today.

Morgan Boehringer is a freelance RPG designer based somewhere in the Blue Mountains here in Australia. Not exactly sure where, but having been up at Jenolan Caves for a wedding back in March, I can honestly say that if his home looks anything like the areas I was riding through, then it’s a beautiful place. Jammy bastard… Where was I. Ah yes. He can be found lurking around the Paizo Messageboards under the name Oceanshieldwolf, and is the mind behind Forest Guardian Press, a third-party publisher that focuses on content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, with his first product, the Direlock class, already being available from Paizo.com. He’s also been involved in various projects run by other publishers, and is currently developing content for the Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock Kickstarter.

For an unaltered image in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

For an unaltered image of Morgan in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

I interviewed Morgan earlier this week about his work as a designer, and the Strange Brew project. Thankfully, he lives in the same time zone as me, so we could actually do a real-time interview. Time differences are of course one of the biggest inconveniences of living in Australia… well, that and the drop bears… and the ridiculously inflated prices we’re expected to pay for goods and services compared to the USA… you know what? I’m going to stop there and just get down to the reason we’re here.

The point is that we were able to chat online instead having him answer a set of questions I’d emailed to him, getting answers back, and emailing further questions that arose from his responses. It led to a very different feel to the interview. I deliberately didn’t plan it out too much, so that we could just see where the conversation went. I think it turned out well. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a better way to interview, but it’s good for something different, and I have a preference for it.

So, let’s get down to it.

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Role-Playing 101: The Laundry RPG – Session 1

Hey guys,

I’m starting off a new feature for the blog today. Role-Playing 101 is going to document the trials and tribulations that I face as I teach a group of teenagers to role-play. There’ll be some funny moments, occasional glimpses of glory, and a not insignificant amount of frustration (mostly on my part), but also a hell of a lot of fun. It’ll be updated on a very irregular basis, as it generally require me to have actually run a session for the group recently, and it’s not often that we actually get to play. The actual content will be a combination of a session recap and brief discussions about the system (though more in-depth reviews may come later on).

How did I end up running introductory games for teenagers? It’s my attempt to continue the chain that my uncle started when he bought me my first role-playing book for my twelfth birthday, the Player’s Handbook for D&D 3rd Edition. A bit over a year ago, I offered to teach my cousin to play. It took a while to get started, as he needed to gather a group of friends to play with, but eventually we were ready to play. The first session I ran for them was Pathfinder, where I quickly learnt that running for bunch of fourteen year olds is far different to running a game for adults. They picked up the notion of “kill things and take their stuff” very quickly, but were having a bit of difficulty with the idea of “talking to things to see if we can avoid killing them”. Now, to be fair, D&D/Pathfinder is at its core, the game of “killing things and taking their stuff”, but Paizo’s work with Pathfinder has really started to move beyond that, often allowing for other means such as diplomacy or subterfuge to be just as effective as barreling in with swords drawn. Trying to get this concept across sparked an idea, that maybe I could help them learn that there are multiple approaches to these games by running a variety of systems for them, with the added benefit that they’d be able to pick a system they liked when they’re eventually ready to run their own games. So the group agreed that I would run each system for two to three sessions, then pick another one.

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Hollowpoint Playtest – Setting the Scene

NOTE: There’s been a bit of a change of plan on how this is going to work. This update is going to cover the basic rules and the setup of the session. That’s just so I can get something posted. The following update will involve a detailed report on the actual game, written as a report to the Board of Directors of the Firm (the organisation the player characters work for). My housemate suggested taking this different approach to it as a way to potentially work around my writer’s block. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a public holiday here tomorrow, so I’ll get up early, have some eggs benedict for breakfast and try to get cracking on it. Fingers crossed. .

Hey guys, thought it was time I get something posted. It’s been longer than I intended again, as recovery from my accident and sorting out insurance took far longer than I expected. At this stage I’m still going to be without my scooter for at least a couple of weeks, and it’s making life awkward as hell in the meantime. I do have a loaner, but it’s a tiny little 150cc, and has trouble cracking 80km/h, so I only really use it to get to and from work.

Anyway, I’m still working on the campaign journal and starting to realise it may be a long time coming, but it’ll get there eventually. In the mean time, I thought I’d share some details on a playtest we ran a couple of weeks ago for a game I picked up a month or so ago, Hollowpoint. It’s an indie RPG produced by VSCA, the same guys who made the hard science fiction FATE setting Diaspora. Rather than using the FATE or FATE Core system though, Hollowpoint uses its own system, based on building matching sets of d6s from a dice pool. It’s a fast paced, cinematic, brutal little system, and is specifically designed to emulate high violence movies, television series and comics. In fact, the book calls out some of my favourite films and graphic novels as inspiration, including Reservoir Dogs and 100 Bullets.

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A brief status update

Hey guys,

Just wanted to give a very quick update on what I’m up to at the moment, since I still haven’t got the first part of the campaign journal for Reign of Winter: The Snows of Summer up. Rest assured, it’s being worked on, it’s just taking far longer than I’d hoped. I’m also having people review it as I write it, to help make sure that the writing style isn’t too painful to read.

In the mean time, I’ll be doing another Kickstarter roundup in the next few days, as I’ve seen some more projects I feel deserve some love. I’m also beginning to prepare a short run campaign using the Hollowpoint system, which is a very quick and simple indie RPG that focuses on cinematic storytelling and high violence capers. Think movies like Reservoir Dogs, and comics like 100 Bullets. As I start getting that ready, I’ll be preparing updates on the setting and basic story of the campaign as well as looking at how the system works. Other than that, I’m working on Project Helleborus again, on and off as I get time, so there may be some more Cooking the Cosmos at some point in the next few weeks. No guarantee on that though. When I have the time to put some descriptions for a few characters together, and the money to get the art commissioned, I’ll also be doing two or three more updates for The Unusual Suspects.

That’s it for my plans for the next few weeks or so. I’m not sure if Jimbles has anything in store for the blog at the moment, given that he’s been rather ill lately, so it could be a little while until we hear from him again.

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Written while listening to Dead Letter Circus’ new album, The Catalyst Fire. They’re an Australian alternative rock/metal band with a really unique sound, and I highly recommend checking them out. My favourite song off the new album so far is Alone Awake, which you can listen to here. The chorus has been running through my head a lot the last few days…

Please don’t fade,
Now that I’ve seen who you are
There’s not enough of you here today
And this world needs you
Please don’t change
Now that I’ve seen who you are
There’s not enough of you here today