Friday, October 29, 2010

Convention RPG Experiences

Since I'll be running a couple of session of Pendragon at Ubercon next weekend (my first time running RPG's at a Con), I was wondering what people's experiences might have been like, on either side of the screen. I've been to several conventions, some of the gaming, but I've only ever played in one RPG during those visits. I had a wonderful time, getting a preview of the "Castle of the Mad Archmage", and having my gaming passion stoked enough to join a regular AD&D game hosted by the same DM. (Yes, Joe, this is all your fault. ;) ) That session also included one of the best uses of Ventriloquism that I've seen in a game, done by the Illusionist to mess with the minds of the party other members by making a giant statue of a head speak to them.

Now, obviously, my plan for the Ubercon sessions will be a little different than Pendragon is typically run. Normally the game includes mechanics for improving skills after each adventure (1 year of game time = 1 adventure, for most cases), but as a one-shot, that won't work. I'm also reasonable sure that most players won't be familiar with the game system, so we'll be doing a little learning as we go. I have created cheat-sheets for the general mechanics, though, to make it as smooth as possible. In order to get the best possible variety out of the game, though, I think I'll artificially force in a variety of cultures & religions into the party, definitely making the characters all Religious (qualifying for different bonuses based on the Religion of the character, see below). That should help to drive home the point that, while all the characters are Knights, the variety of knights that are available to play are wide enough, and customizable enough, to provide to balanced game play. You would not believe the reactions I get when I tell people that they can only play Knights in this game. "That's got to be boring" being the chief one.

So, since I'm still pretty much a N00B at all this, what have your experiences been? Good, bad, weird? I'd love to hear them, even the horror stories.

Oh, and about the religious bonuses in Pendragon, I like how they actually make a difference in the game, just like in the literature. Depending on your religion, you will have different Personality Traits that are promoted, so as to act in the manner of the religion's ideals. If all of these are 16 or over (out of 20), you gain a special bonus from your god(s) for being the epitome of those ideals. For example, if you have a 16+ in all of the Wotanic (aka Norse/Germanic Religion) traits, you gain +1d6 damage. Other religions allow for increased healing rate, of additional Hit Points, etc. It adds flavor to the game, especially if you have a Religious Saxon using an ax. :D

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lethality of Campaigns

Something that I've been thinking about since our last session of Pendragon (I run a monthly campaign for my wife and two of our friends) is just how deadly do most GM's make their campaigns? I basically gutted the County of Salisbury this last session (Year 508 for those of you keeping score), but the player characters all made it through. It actually worked out pretty well, since it raised them all to the level of Banneret. One session where the PC's didn't survive, though, was after the Battle of St. Alban's in Year 495. Of course, knowing that this event would be coming, at the start of the campaign, each player rolled up 3 brothers to play. The eldest of these earned a place in the Hall, where the majority of the Logres (King Uther's Kingdom) were killed by poison, including Uther himself. What I found out later was that Greg Stafford himself, creator of the system, never killed a PC at that event. In any case, Pendragon is meant to be deadly. Damage builds up quick and healing is painfully slow.
Other systems, on the other hand, tend to be more forgiving in their healing, even at low levels, but those can be deadly as well. We recently had a session in our AD&D (1st Edition) campaign where the cleric failed on a "Save or Die" roll. Not fun, but it was right there in the rules. Now, I have been known to fudge a roll or two to make sure the PC's don't completely bite it. I even saved one of the aforementioned Pendragon characters, who got nailed with a massive critical, by having Merlin show up and heal him. I don't make a habit of it, but I'll do it now and then.
So, my massive readership, I want to hear your thoughts. How deadly do you make your campaigns and/or how much fudging do you do to keep the PC's alive?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pendragon at Ubercon

Pendragon meets Gaming Dragon

I’ve just confirmed that I will be running two sessions of King Arthur Pendragon (Pendragon 5th Edition) at this year’s Ubercon in Edison, NJ.  I’ve got a morning session on Saturday (9 AM to 1 PM) and another on Sunday (10 AM to 2 PM).  As this is probably my all-time favorite game system, and I have played a whole lot of game systems, this should be a fun day.  If anyone has not played in Pendragon and would like to learn, the two adventures I’m running should prove to be a good introduction to you.  If you’re interested, please head on over to and sign up.  My two sessions are the following:

Even if you don’t sign up for my games, I encourage everyone in the area to attend.  Ubercon is a great gaming experience and I’ve had a blast every time I’ve been there.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Comic Geeking Out

I'm a comic book geek. Specifically, since the One Million Spider Clones fiasco over at Marvel, I'm a DC Comics geek. Obviously an oblivious one, since I just recent found out about DC Universe Online. Now I have played WoW and tried out City of Heroes, so I know something about MMORPG's and how they operate, so my initial thought was "That's great!, But I'll never be able to play it." You see, I've had the same computer for the past 7 years and the only upgrade to the hardware I've done is adding some RAM. What this means is that it is woefully underpowered for playing DCUO, or Star Trek Online, or the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic. But then I saw another option which gave my wife shivers. DCUO will be available on the PS3! I've got one of those! Woohoo!

Yes, it will still be a monthly subscription to play, even on the PS3. Yes, I won't be able to type easily (I'm hoping to get one of those snap on keyboards for my controller, though). Yes, I will be much more limited in what I can do, due to the controller not having as many buttons as a keyboard. But I'll be able to play the game, dammit! Yeah, that's probably the reaction that Sony was counting on, but I still think it's a great idea. Many people, like me, can't afford to keep up with the computer tech curve to play these games. The consoles could be a great way to bring more players into the games, especially the casual ones, again like me.

So, is anyone else looking forward to this game? What do you think about the console being involved as well as the PC?