16 May

Return to Hilltop Session 12 (BFRPG)

Ever since I was a kid, the number 12 has been my favorite number. Sadly, Session 12 of this campaign didn’t live up to being my favorite. It turned out to be a total party kill (TPK) pretty early on in the session. The party pressed on in their exploration of a lower level of the mines, seeking a way to escape. They found one but encountered a couple of the “electrical landsharks” blocking their way. The party came out on the short end of this battle. Given that the party was killed by some beasts who would feast on their bodies, I didn’t see much of a way out for them…so TPK. All in the session of my favorite number.

While there are all the “killer DM” memes around the internets, I know I don’t get any pleasure from a TP and anyone who thinks that a DM gets pleasure or enjoyment from a TPK has probably never been a DM themselves.

Players typically see a TPK as a bad thing for them…they’ve lost a cherished character or the like…but it pales in comparison to what the DM is losing. Few players–if any–invest time and effort in a campaign that is anywhere near that which a DM invests. All those hours, all that effort, all that creative investment in the campaign up to that point and all that might have spun out of it is unexpectedly snuffed out by the TPK. I don’t really prep “stories” or “plots” but I do prep settings and situations.

For a player, it means rolling up a new character. For a DM, it means redoing everything…the setting, the situations, the locations, the NPCs, all of it. That is no small amount of work. It means putting aside other things that the DM might want to do (e.g., catching up on that ever growing reading list, finally getting back to finishing Daredevil Season 2, and the like).

Even if your DM is grinning as the TPK is happening, believe me, that grin is probably hiding a whole lot of “oh f@cks” as all that prior time and effort is now out the window and a new set of long hours and hard effort needs to be spent again to start a new campaign.

So yeah, a TPK sucks. It sucks way more for the DM than it does for the players, even though many players just can’t seem to see it that way.

Scheduling looks like we won’t be playing at all for the next two weeks and that we may not have the whole group together until maybe early July. I’m hesitant to start a campaign without having everyone at the table for at least a couple of sessions so I guess I at least have time to do all that work again. ūüėČ

11 May

Return to Hilltop Session 11 (BFRPG)

Dunridge Quarry or, more precisely, the mines at the quarry, became the focus of our heroes’ explorations in the last session. Successfully getting into the mines without being noticed, they explored a good bit. However, they also got into a few fights. The last fight of that session, in particular, depleted a lot of the party’s resources and left them split up. Molly, Efan, and Francis had all been overcome by magical fear and fled during the fight. Molly came face to face with a bugbear and yelled for help. The others came running to aid her as the bugbear carried Molly’s unconscious body around a corner and behind a locked metal gate/door. That is where we pick up this session.

All four players were in attendance for this session. There are potential spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet as well as A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from Muse and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].

Read More

05 May

Return to Hilltop Session 10 (BFRPG)

Our prior session somewhat marked a shift in focus for the campaign. To date, most sessions were centered on exploration of the nearby moat house and clearing it out. Having pretty much succeeded at that task, the party is now seeking the lead evil NPC, Leighton, who has moved on but left a trail for the group to follow. This trail has led to the Dunridge Quarry. Armed with some information about a potentially unguarded entrance and joined by four new (and rather enthusiastic) recruits, the heroes were last left as they prepared to enter the quarry or, perhaps more properly labeled, mines.

Muse was missing from this session and Rachel played Brenwyn. There are potential spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet as well as A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from RJ and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].

Read More

03 May

Fallout Gränsomrad Dale Campaign Session 4 (BFRPG)

Our third session found the players delving deeper into the haunted keep both literally and figuratively. They pretty much finished exploring the ruins of the eastern tower and then delved below the keep. What they found below may likely take the campaign in a different direction than if they had handled it differently. I don’t want to mention spoilers above the break so if you want to know what I’m talking about, go read the recap of the third session or continue reading here.

Jason and Jon were missing this session. Rather than have two of the three players play two characters, Alok and Thorbird were essentially missing in action. More on this below. My DM comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Haunted Keep from the Moldvay Basic D&D set, The Haunted Keep from Dragonsfoot, and N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

Read More

01 May

Fallout Gränsomrad Dale Campaign Session 3 (BFRPG)

During our second session, the adventurers explored the village of Bronby a bit and met various residents before heading back to the haunted keep. They learned the mayor trusted pretty much no one, the constable was ready to arrest them for trespassing at the haunted keep, the Golden Grain Inn was much cleaner with a more gregarious staff than at Odgi’s establishment, and that the whole village had a bit of an eerie vibe to it. At the keep, they found goblins! We pick up this session with some goblins attacking the party below the break.

Jon was missing this session and so Jason played Alok. My DM comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Haunted Keep from the Moldvay Basic D&D set, The Haunted Keep from Dragonsfoot, and N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

Read More

27 Apr

Return to Hilltop Session 9 (BFRPG)

In our last session, our heroes had finished their explorations of the moathouse, the complex beneath, and the tomb of Rafael the Righteous but had not yet put an end to the evil named Leighton. Sadly, at the end of the session, our brave adventurers learned that the depths of Leighton’s depravity were even deeper than they had experienced so far. He had left two young children, dead but animated, hanging from the same crossed beams from which Cowle had previously hung.

This was an abbreviated session as we didn’t really start until about 7:30 or 8:00 (due to a nearby music and literature festival). Muse was missing from this session and RJ played Brenwyn. There are potential spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet as well as A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from Rachel and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].

Read More

27 Apr

Fallout Gränsomrad Dale Campaign Session 2 (BFRPG)

In our first session of the Gr√§nsomrad Dale Campaign hosted by Fallout Comics, we created characters and jumped in. The adventurers arrived in Bronby, found an inn, made it their own, shared lots of rumors, and started their exploration of the nearby haunted keep. They defeated four hobgoblins, saved two men from the southern lands, and found some sacks of coins before retreating back to their inn and settling down for the night. So they didn’t make it too far in their explorations but somehow I think that’ll get corrected in this session as we’ll find out after the break.

My DM comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Haunted Keep from the Moldvay Basic D&D set, The Haunted Keep from Dragonsfoot, and N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God below the break.

Read More

24 Apr

Fallout Gränsomrad Dale Campaign Session 1 (BFRPG)

We began our first session of the Gr√§nsomrad Dale Campaign hosted by Fallout Comics with character creation…3d6 in order (although I did allow the players to swap one score with another if they so desired). It took a little longer than I had expected but all but one of the players had never played Basis Fantasy RPG and most either had no experience with pre-d20 versions of D&D or haven’t played them in quite some time. Once the characters were created and everyone had read their rumors (see the Intro post for more on these), we jumped right in with each of the PCs separately arriving in the village of Bronby and being directed to a nearby inn (I know…rather trite, isn’t it?).

My DM comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Haunted Keep from the Moldvay Basic D&D set, The Haunted Keep from Dragonsfoot, and N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God below the break.

Read More

23 Apr

Fallout Gränsomrad Dale Campaign Intro

I started running a new campaign at my friendly local comic and games store, Fallout Comics, a few weeks ago. For a little over a year I had run a 5e game at the store. My dissatisfaction with 5e had already grown enough that I had stopped running it for my home campaign months prior. I gutted it out a bit longer with the store game before I spoke with the owners and got their permission to switch systems. As I did with my home game, I decided to switch to Basic Fantasy RPG (BFRPG)…with some house rules of course. BFRPG has quickly become one of my favorite D&D systems. All but one of the players who had been playing 5e decided to keep playing and we were joined by a new (old) player. We rolled up characters at the first session. Here is the list:

  • Edda: A female human fighter with a bubbly personality played by Jen.
  • Laila: A female half-elf fighter with a high level of na√Įvet√© (given her Wisdom score of 4) played by Rachel.
  • Gabor: A male human cleric played by Todd.
  • Thorbird: A male dwarven thief with a definite preference for free ale played by Jason.
  • Alok: A male half-elf illusionist played by Jon.

Gransomrand Dale Small ImageThe premise of the campaign is relatively simple. I put together a map which will serve as the sandbox for the campaign. It is a frontier type area that is sparsely populated with lots of wilderness for who knows what could be hidden or lurking. A small version of the map is to the right (click on it for a large version). Why yes, it does look remarkably similar to the Nentir Vale, doesn’t it? (The Nentir Vale served as the first 5e campaign setting.) I’ve populated with it with a few settlements where the PCs can rest, relax, recuperate, shop, and, of course, interact with various NPCs…some of whom will invariably have their own interests in mind. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve also populated it with various “adventure locales.” Each of these locales is based on a classic D&D module. I’ve placed five or six of these locales on the map so far. I’m sure some more will get added. Outside of this, I have no preconceived notion of how this will play out…no metaplot or story waiting to be played.

More about the campaign below the break.

Read More

06 Apr

Return to Hilltop Session 8 (BFRPG)

By the end of our last session, the group had finished exploring the complex below the moathouse and found it to have been largely abandoned. In the process, they rescued a gnome, Labaash, who joined up with them in their explorations (despite having nothing in the way of gear since his prior captors…Leighton’s group…had taken it all). The group also discovered a sort of tomb of a paladin of Heironeous by the name of Rafael the Righteous. The entrance had been hidden behind a mortared wall that someone, presumably Leighton and his group, had torn down. Inside, sadly, Molly found her brother’s broken, tortured, and flayed body. The suspense regarding whether Griff had survived was resolved. As we ended the session, the group had finished exploring sections of this tomb that others had already gone through but then found a section that looked completely untouched for many years. We ended the session in the middle of their exploration of this section.

RJ is now playing Labaash, a gnome thief, given the death of Griff. There are definite spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet below the break. I also grabbed one of Dyson’s maps and borrowed some stuff from different adventures I’ve read for the “tomb.” This recap is from Forest and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].

Read More