Saturday, January 5, 2019

Nuno and the Crypt of the Dark Kiss Part Two

Way, way, back on the 18th of December, I blogged my final five takeaways of 2018. Then, I concluded my 12 Blog Posts of December on the 31st by blogging Nuno and the Crypt of the Dark Kiss Part One. While I had written game session reports before, I had never included any photos from the action at the D&D gaming table before. Not the first time I've provided play-by-play of my gaming experience, while using photos to enhance my writing. Had done so as recently as when I played the board game Fury of Dracula for the first time.

However, I quickly realized while writing about Nuno and the Crypt of the Dark Kiss (yes, I am writing from my PC's perspective) was that all photos meant the writing the post would consume time.

More time than usual.

So, I decided to split it into parts. Three parts to be precise.

When we last left off, our intrepid band of adventurers were exploring the remnants of a dwarven mine in order to destroy any undead (especially vampires!) and discover the true nature of an earring discovered during a previous module in the trilogy. The firbolg nature cleric Dancer withdrew/became withdrawn (player had to leave the session), while battling some dwarven skeletons working forges. The skeletons were destroyed; and everyone returns to the room with three doors and the four muck-covered statues. During the battle, Grog overcome by his battle-lust failed didn't notice a door. Meanwhile, Nuno had forgotten all about the door during the heat of the battle.

If either had considered the door further, they may have pondered whether or not it was a side entrance to the chamber laying behind double doors...

Once back inside the original chamber...

Cast of Characters 

Vladis Warlock/Wizard 10th
Grog Half- Orc Champion 6th
Striker dwarf 7th
Nuno Tortle Monk Way of Shadow 5th

We proceed to double doors with crossed battle axes emblazoned upon them. Grog's eyes light up with appreciation at the sight of the axes inscribed upon the doors. He grips his axe and proceeds to hack at the door. Meanwhile, Vladis peers over shoulder and notices the keyhole contains a lock of a quality he has never seen!

In-between swings of Grog's axe,  Striker casts Knock.

There's the pop of an arcane lock being suppressed.

Needless to say, Grog continues pounding away - eventually wrecking the door.

Grog turns to Striker 'I am smart no matter what people say'.

The hacked open double doors are swung open to reveal a room full of sarcophogi. Peering across the room both Grog and Nuno note a door on the opposite end from which the forge room could be reached!

Both in unison: 'Oops!'

Seeing sarcophagi the wily Striker casts Bless on the party. The party enters room with Grog and Nuno in front. Striker and Vladis bring up the rear. No sooner do they enter when three vampire spawn, a shadow mastiff, and vampiric mist pop out from the sarcophagi!

Grog steps forward and swings twice at the vampire spawn who crawled out of the sarcophagus nearest him. His axe bites into the vampire twice! Nuno warily eyes the fearsome foes right in front of him and steps between both the vampire spawn and vampiric mist. Stabs twice with a silver dagger and only hits once. Then centering himself, he expends Qi to disengage from them moving back to casters. Striker breathing a sigh of relief once Nuno is out of the area casts Fireball on baddies!

Vladis upcasts Quickened Conjure Minor Elemental spell to summon four magmen!

 Then, Vladis Eldritch Blasts the vampiric mist after his owl familiar distracts it. To our chagrin, the vampire spawn regenerate. Grog's vampire spawn claws Grog but fails to hold him within its grip! A spawn destroys a magmen ( #4)  Grog saves to avoid some of the fire from the magman's explosion! Another spawn closes with Striker. The far back vampire spawn hits magman #2. Dog misses magmen#1then goes invisible. Mist floats to envelop Grog triggering Opportunity Attacks from the Magmen. Their fiery blows burn the mist away!. Grog crits spawn! Hits a second time! Then Grog action surges to hit again. The vampire spawn is destroyed! Nuno closes with spawn near Striker. After landing multiple blows, Nuno is disheartened when his Stunning strike fails. Number 1 & 3 magmen miss the dog. Magman #2 hits the vampire spawn near it. Starts aflame. Striker moves away from vampire on him provoking an opportunity attack, casting Shield to thwart a grapple attempt. The dwarf proceeds to cast lightning bolt on both the shadow mastiff and vampire spawn. There's collateral damage as  #2 magman blows up from the crossfire. However, the shadow mastiff dies. We are alarmed when we notice that vampire spawn takes minor damage from the fiery explosion.

Vladis casts Phantasmal Force on the worrisome vampire spawn in response. Nuno is clawed and grappled. Bite misses. Other spawn grapples and bites Grog!

Grog strikes and crits! 22 dmg! Strikes again. Miss. Nuno misses then focuses his Qi to disengage away to move next to the casters.  Magmen attack Grog's spawn. One hits.

Striker moves back and around.

Casts Lightning Bolt. A weak 17 damage. The phantasmal forced Grog-grappling vampire spawn dies. Grog isn't badly hurt by the bolt. Vladis quickens a Scorching Ray then Eldritch Blasts the remaining spawn. Spawn closes with Grog. Misses. Grog hits once. Nuno hits spawn all of his attack, twice with silver dagger and once with a kick. 

Finally, the two remaining Magmen swarm the vampire spawn and both their blows slay it!

We catch our breaths and rifle through our defeated foes discovering a magical ring on the finger of the vampire spawn who was strangely resistant to fire... A Ring of Fire Resistance perhaps?

To Be Continued....

Monday, December 31, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 12: Nuno and the Crypt of the Dark Kiss Part One

During my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee: an End-Of-Year Appraisal /Goals for the New Year / a Star Wars Unboxing / a tribute to Stan Lee / a Tribute to Steve Ditko / Converting the Elf class to 5E / A Christmas Day post / A Christmas Eve post / Outside of the Season X-Mas posts and Star Wars radio dramas / Final 5 Takeaways of 2018 / 5 Takeaways from playing a Tier 2 Monk / 5 Takeaways from Final Tier 1 Mod of 2018

As of today, I blogged consecutively for nine days straight! Whew! As I promised yesterday, I am writing the session write-up from Adventures League session that took place during the events hinted at in the Final 5 Takeaways of 2018 post. While this isn't the first time I've blogged the adventures of my PCs, it is the first time I've inserted pictures from the session itself!

However, the process is quite time-intensive. With 2019 minutes away, I've decided to split into serial format. Three parts in fact.

Crypt of the Dark Kiss Part One

Cast of characters
Vladis 10th
 Grog 6th
 Dancer firbolg nature cleric  5th
Striker dwarf 7th
Nuno 5th

Our intrepid band of adventurers were tasked to destroy all undead found within an underground complex while learning everything we can about the silver earing found during the events of the previous mod (hinted at during the 5 take-ways when I played Nuno the Ninja tortle monk at Tier 2 for the first time). All we knew was that earing was composed of shiny blue beads representing the symbol of  the diety of Savras. The dwarf Striker opted to carry the earing.


DM awarded candy to foster the holiday/Midwinter spirit along with the Midwinter Elk Figurine of Wondrous Power cert Out of Game.

Standing at a doorway inscribed with Dwarven runes, the dwarf Striker reads them aloud while explaining what they mean. He made a 16 Religion Proficiency check and declares it represents the Dwarven God of Celebration. Nuno nods his head. He will recall none of it most likely. As a precautionary measure, Striker ritually casts Detect Magic. To his now enhanced senses, the door glows faintly. Pulling out his flask, he dribbles ale near the door and is greeted by the sound of the door clicking open. With a grin, he sips from his flask.

The door reveals a hallway with walls covered with graffiti praising mistress of the night.

 Grog strides boldly down hallway taking massive steps trying to over entire thing. Ten feet down the hallway...

A sizzle and flash erupts out of the ground when Grog triggers a lightning trap. Fortunately Grog evades some of the blast. Steps forward to the left and triggers another lightning trap. Not quite so lucky this time! Examines the floor.

Grog " I don't see anything."

Steps forward and is hit by another.

Dancer then examines the floor.

Meanwhile,  Striker glancing at the floor can see where each glyph upon the floor radiates with magical auras due to his concentration of Detect Magic ritual.

Proclaims "Hold it! I can see where there is a trap and where there isn't! I will go first. Step where I step.

 Grog second winds, while Striker proceeds down the hallway gesturing where to step to avoid the glyphs.

We follow his steps and enter a room that reduces the effectiveness of our light sources such as bright light becomes dim light. Dim light becomes totally dark! Nuno performs his hand symbols he was taught by his old ninja master to gain the abilities of the spell Darkvision.

Grog looking at the symbols along the walls and readies to smash them. Striker doesn't want such symbols important to his people, stops him.

Striker approaches a statue and removes gunk covering it. Glancing at three doors, he proclaims they have  symbols of Moradin, Flaggedon, and Thermikal placed individually upon them. Casting minor illusion to mimic laser pointer, Striker proceeds to give a boring lecture for each diety. Nuno nods his head. He will remember none of this.

Vladis then moves about the room using  prestigidaton to clean the gunk from each of the four statues when...

Stepping on a pressure plate,  Vladis is struck by a 15' necrotic flame emitted by a  nearby statue! Vladis and his owl investigate and find four pressure plates.

Vladis 'Anyone have Thieves Tools?'

Nuno 'I know how to use them.'

Vladis 'You have Thieves Tools on you?'

Nuno '... uh no...'

Vladis 'Sighs.'

 Vladis opens the door bearing Moradin's sigil to see room of forges operated by skeletons.

  x's are pressure plates and the figures around forges are dwarf skeletons. Fire snakes hiding out in corners.

Vladis sends owl into room. Hovering over forge through his owl's eyes, Vladis sees within forges hammers being manufactured. His familiar flies back. After discussion, we decide someone should enter the room. Dancer elects to do so. Striker casts Protection from evil on Dancer. Dancer, in turn, hands Striker her pet squirrel for safe-keeping. Grog stand behind her in case the skeletons attack, while the owl hovers over her head.

Entering the room, Dancer casts Thornwhip. Hitting a skeleton, she brings it toward her. Then Dancer steps aside so others may enter. Grog gleefully enters the room and readies to attack whichever skeleton attacks them. Striker fire bolts the thorn-whipped skeleton, crumpling it to dust. Two skeletons converge on both Dancer and Grog. They miss with their attacks. The readied Grog crits and destroys one!

Vladis enters room, hexes, and Eldritch Blasts a fire snake. Owl aids Grog. Snakes converge on Dancer & Grog. Dancer is crit! Grog is hit by tail. Nuno enters room between Grog and Dancer only to miss the fire snake with every strike except a kick

Dancer smacks with staff, casts Spiritual weapon, and hits the fire snake with it. Grog aided by the owl hits the snake with his magical great ax. Striker using his  wand of war mage destroys skeleton with a Fire Bolt.

Remaining skeletons continue working their respective tasks at their respective forges. We remember we are to destroy all undead.

Vladis kills his hexed snake with Eldritch Blast, then Elritch blasts another. Steps back into the romm from which we came. Fire snakes miss Grog. Nuno engages fire snake hitting with his ninjato twice and missing with a kick. Grog kills it then swings into another. Striker reacues doorway. Snake fails Wis Save and dies from his Toll the Dead spell.  Dancer  pops out! (The player had to bow out)

 The other skeletons continue working their forges. Vladis examines forge but is clueless. The dull Nuno does so with a 19 Int roll and deduces they are hammers for hitting chimes. Striker declares the dwarf skeletons should die again. Grog  'Are you sure?'

Grog approaches a forge attracting attention from two. They only land one blow upon him. Striker tolls the dead one of the skeletons destroying it. Remaining skeleton engages Grog and misses. Vladis hexed a far skeleton while his owl aids him. Then hits it with an Eldritch Blast destroying it. Nuno engages the skeleton on Grog, stabbing and then critting with a kick inflirting 14 damage! Gone. Grog moves down toward a far skeleton and destroys it. Moves back to Nuno and hurls a hand ax hitting a skeleton on opposite end.

Striker toll till the dead the hand axed skeleton. It saves. Vladis hexes nearest skeleton then destroys it with an Eldritch Blast. Nuno engages the left skeleton and glances it with ninjato. Grog kills it with great ax then hurls hand ax at the remaining skeleton. Hitting it. Striker fire bolts the skeleton destroying it.

Afterwards, Striker discerns corruption caused the muck.

To Be Continued...

That's it for my 12 Blog Posts of December!

Next time.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 11 - Status of 2018 Goals and Goals for 2019

Tomorrow, Will be the obligatory rundown of all 12 Blog Posts of December. Unlike last year's December 31st post, I won't be doing a Year In Review/New Year's Resolutions entry. More than later. Instead, I am doing that today.

So how'd I do my goals for 2018:

Read more: This one was more of a traditional New Year's Resolution as I started out strong, but finished weak. Unless you don't count topics I wouldn't cover on my blog, then I actually did read more.

GoComics & Comics Kingdom/ read more comics strips: I did indeed buy a Royal subscription to Comics Kingdom. Regarding GoComics/Comics Kingdom, this is another example where I started out strong; but eventually I wouldn't say read hordes of comic strips from both sources daily. Granted, during December I did start reading the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip regularly again. Kind of hard not to if you're checking for Stan Lee's credit. However, I did read more comic strips. A LOT more comic strips. Joined a comic strips Facebook strip; and read all sorts of comics strips especially holiday/seasonal such as July 4th and Christmas. Discovered old gems like Captain Easy too.

Watch Royal Rumble & WrestleMania: While I didn't watch the former, I did watch the latter. Next year, I will probably view the Royal Rumble.

Britbox account - Nope. As much as I desire to scratch my Classic Dr, Who itch, I never did sign up for a Britbox account. Frankly, I've discovered I have a limit regarding streaming services and Britbox simply might be one too many. If it happens during 2019, it happens.

Learn how to include pictures of covers within my blog posts - Yep, I did teach myself how to insert photos into my blog posts. Heck, some of my blog posts are basically, 'hey, look at my photos!'

Goals for 2019

I've actually already started on some of these:

Reduce the number of comic titles I purchase:

 Between all the new Marvel publishing initiatives and DC Rebirth, I added WAY more comic titles than I could ever keep up. Because comics are ordered two months out, I've already cut some titles. My plan is to cut even more comic titles from pull list once I...

Read and Review more comics

 I say this every year it seems. However, 2018 demonstrated I need to actually do it to...

Reduce my collection

I've acquired quite the collection. Unfortunately, I've reached the age where I realize I can't keep everything anymore. Plus, much of it bulk..

Watch more wrestling - Do have a WWE Network account...

Actually write my game session reports and insert whatever pictures I took with them

Been taking notes for quite some time. It's about time I start blogging them. In fact, my goal is to start now. Plus, due to the miracle of technology, I have started taking pictures when applicable!

One more day...

Next time.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 10 WEG Star Wars 30th Unboxing

Not writing a clunky version of the 12 gifts of Christmas this time. Suffice it to say, today is the tenth day and after blogging seven days consecutively, I am not doing a '12 Blog Posts of December' next year if I need to blog nine days straight in order to blog 12 times!

2018 marks a milestone in the table-top role-playing games. It's a milestone in Star Wars circles too. Why? This is year is the 30th Anniversary of West End Games Star Wars the Role-Playing Game. In the process, much of what would become known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe had its genesis with this project. In many ways, the WEG SWRPG was the Star Wars bible as it compiled and defined aspects of Star Wars lore that hadn't been defined before. If I recall correctly, Timothy Zahn was given Star Wars RPG books while researching his now famous Thrawn Trilogy.

I have fond memories sitting in a now-defunct book store flipping through the pages of the orginal, i.e. 1st edition, Star Wars RPG Main Book and Source Book. Since the Star Wars Expanded Universe was in its infancy, Dark Force Rising hadn't yet hit stands, the Star Wars fan was excited to hold these tomes of Star Wars lore. More importantly, I had just started playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition regularly. As new gamer, I was excited at the prospect of playing the Star Wars equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons! Just didn't have the money to buy them...

However, as fate would have it, the Second Edition came out as my birthday neared. I was struck by the newness  and glossiness of the book as well as the screenshot of Darth Vader upon the cover. Remember, how I said I was playing AD&D 2E? Well, clearly a second edition is better than a first edition, right? Unlike the defunct book store, this particularly copy I found at my local comic book store. You can kind of guess how this story ends, right?

Still, some part of me always wondered what if I had acquired copies of those two first edition WEG books. Eventually, time eroded my edition snobbery. Playing a revised 2nd ed WEG Star Wars and two or three different versions of Star Wars RPG published by WotC helped too.

Then, I discovered Fantasy Flight Games was releasing a slipcase replica of those two original books. I was excited. A must buy! While browsing through my FLGCS and seeing they had a couple copies, the 30th anniversary edition was on my radar. When only one copy remained, I pounced!

It, uh, sat shrink-wrapped until day... The thought struck me, why not do an 'unboxing via pictures' on my blog as part of my 12 Blog Posts of December! After all, this is the season for unwrapping! Today just so happened to be the day

Here it is shrink-wrapped:

Oh look, the outer layer was just packaging or a dust cover!

Front side of slipcase:

Back side of slipcase:

Really like how they reproduced the cover here!

Front covers from both replicas of the core book and the sourcebook.

Back covers. Pretty confident the '40' wasn't located in the upper-right corner...

Okay, the 40 years is a shout out to forty years of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Hmm, Fantasy Flight Games didn't exist back then!

Yep, a cheap plug for the newest iteration of Star Wars Table-Top Role-Playing Games produced by Fantasy Flight Games.

FFG's insert with the main book:

A Dedication along with all the usual business info on the left and a Foreword explain the project on the right.

I will admit I bought this for nostalgia's sake; and the aesthetics of a slipcase sitting in a bookcase. So maybe someday, I will review the first two books of WEGs SWRPG. A review, what, 30 years after the books were published? I mean why not. Even if it is another 30 years...

Got two more days of blogging to go!

Next time.

Friday, December 28, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 9 - Stan Lee and the Amazing Spider-Man Newspaper Strip

During my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee: Loki as model in D&D 5E, Haste can be a bummer, a Midwinter mood, Star Wars radio dramas, stats for Awgwas, reminiscing about Mickey's Christmas Carol, an Elf class adaptation, and a tribute to Steve Ditko.

Yeah, doesn't flow right without numbers...

Yesterday, I paid tribute to one of Spider-Man's creators who passed away during 2018. Tonight, I am paying tribute to other creator who passed away during 2018.

Really, don't think Stan 'The Man' Lee requires much of an introduction. Stan Lee is pretty much responsible for the Marvel Universe we know today. He not only make comics larger-than-life; but we all became a little more familiar with the Marvel Bullpen each week. His Stan's Soapbox connected Marvel fans to the Marvel community beyond the comics in a day before the Internet.

Today is his birthday.

Many are excited there remains unseen cameos in upcoming Marvel movies. Maybe a small handful?

What many don't realize is Stan Lee still has unpublished work that awaits publication.

One unpublished work I am familiar with is his work on the Amazing Spider-Man Newspaper Strip distributed in newspapers via King Features and published online on Comics Kingdom.

That's right. For a limited time, there remains future Spider-Man comic strips written by Stan Lee published seven days a week. Current storyline involves Luke Cage and Purple Man.

How can that be? Well, Stan wrote in the Marvel style where the writer would submit a plot to the artist, who in turn would draw what the artist envisioned, and then Stan would write the script based on the story within the art. Lee was notorious for simple plots such as: Purple Man takes over Luke Cage and then mind controls Spider-Man.

In that fashion, who knows how many strips authored by Stan Lee await? Sure, there's the question of dialogue. However, the dialogue is much, much simpler than what it was back in 1998. (The archives go back to late 98. You do need to be member to access them.) For all, I know Saviuk, his brother Larry Lieber, or an editor could be scripting the comic strip. Either that, or Stan did provide scripts well in advance. They certainly have his corny approach to dialogue!

So want to read some new Stan Lee? Well, the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip is place! Psst... Purple Man just told Luke Cage he switched control to the now hapless (and paralyzed) Spidey!

Only question remains is how long will Stan Lee be credited; and if not, will there be an Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip.

Only three more days to go!

Next time.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 8: My Tribute to Steve Ditko

On the first day of my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee my excitement over being City Watch. On the second day of my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee, the joy of the mending cantrip. On the third day, I gave to thee my satisfaction being able to cast Darkvision! On the fourth day I gave to thee, a non-seasonal X-mas compilation. On the fifth day, I gave to thee a Christmas Eve full of Baum! On the sixth day, I gave to thee a shoutout to Mickey Mouse's 90th Anniversary! On the Seventh Day of my 12 Blog Posts of December, I gave to thee my adaptation of Elf class in D&D 5E!

That little opening is about as seasonal as I'm getting tonight.

When I declared I would do my 12 Blog Posts of December, I announced it wouldn't all Christmas posts. Among them would be end-of-the-year type posts. The type of posts that lose meaning if posted next year.

For instance, 2018 is year both of Spider-Man's creators passed away.

Sorry, Jack Kirby advocates I don't consider the 'King' a full on creator of Spider-Man. What can I say old habits die hard. I will allow the Kirby may very well have created the initial design for Spider-Man, which is very, very close to Ditko's. However, the soul of Spider-Man. What made him a pop cultural phenomenon was designed by Steve Ditko.

Disclaimer: no pictures will be included so sorry no examples of Steve Ditko art,

Yes, both Stan Lee and Steve Ditko passed away during the year 2018. The creators who were the genesis of the pop cultural juggernaut that was Spider-Man departed mortal coils this year. They also created a little known Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange, Perhaps you heard of them.

However, tonight is my tribute to Steve Ditko.

I can blog about Lee in a number of ways.

Really can't with Ditko. A shame really.

I've read the thirty-eight issues of Amazing Spider-Man he co-created. Only read a couple issues of Doctor Strange with Ditko as a creator although I got the impression the Master of the Mystic Arts was more of a product of Ditko than Lee. Read a couple of Speedball stories by him. Did you know Steve Ditko created Speedball?

Steve Ditko also had a hand creating Squirrel Girl, Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, the Creeper, and the Question. Read comics featuring those characters post-Ditko. While I own collection of his Charlton Comics work (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the Question), I have yet to peruse them.

Heck, there's a number of Steve Ditko's creation I only heard about after his passing. How many knew he was creating until his passing? Not this guy.

Only knew Steve Ditko was pushed out of the limelight.

Was it his Objectionist politics? Possibly.

Was it his intense desire for privacy? Possibly.

Was it his desire to let his work speak for itself? Probably.

Was it because his art style was too quirky for its time? A little more than probably.

When I was first exposed to Steve Ditko, I... didn't care for it. The art didn't match the John Romita-influenced art I was accustomed too. Just wasn't glamorous enough. Then I funny thing happened. Over the course of reading 38 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, I realized I had grown to love his art. What really drove the realization home? When I recognized his art in a Speedball story within the pages of an Amazing Spider-Man (we're talking early 90's here) Annual. Then I put two-and-two together and spotted his work on a Solo short within another Spider-Man annual. I didn't go 'hey this art sucks!' Ditko's art had become an art style I embraced.

By the time, I read Amazing Spider-Man 39 within a Marvel Masterwork, I wondered What if Ditko had stayed? A far cry from when I saw his art earlier.

Then there were the stories. Towards the end of his time on Amazing Spider-Man, Steve Ditko was credited as co-plotter. Meaning what you saw visually was created by Steve Ditko. The scene with Spider-Man trapped by debris? Steve Ditko imagined that. One of my favorite scenes in Spider-Man history was created by Steve Ditko.

I could go on; but a better way to appreciate Steve Ditko is by reading his comic book work. After all, he wanted to judged by his work alone.

Hope everyone is having a great season.

Only 4 more days to go!

Next time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 7 - Adapting the Elf Class to 5E Is Simple

On the first day of my 12 Blog Posts of December... Egad's it's almost midnight by me! I've got to crank out my Day 7 post if I want to achieve twelve blog posts in December! No time for such a holiday related opening.

So what's my topic for Day 7?

Yesterday, I received a copy of D&D Rules Cyclopedia for Christmas.

Of late, the desire to play an Elf, as in the Elf class from BECMI, has been strong. While I do own a digital version, there's nothing quite like holding a physical book in one's hand. Weirdly enough conversion work is easier the physical work as opposed to reading it from a monitor or tablet. Believe there's been studies highlighting the phenomenon too. I'm not the only one!

By conversion, my intention is to emulate the BECMI Elf class in D&D 5E. Flipping through the pages of the Rules Cyclopedia I finally understand how to do it. Like a light bulb being lit!

First, forget everything you've gleaned from the AD&D 1E > AD&D 2E > D&D 3E > D&D 5E tree. Oh, both elf trees fit.

It's just that the BECMI Elf ISN'T a master of stealth. The Elf class isn't a junior ranger. Not by stats anyway. What the DM allowed the Elf PC to do was simply arbitrary. Note: I haven't read the skills section within the Rules Cyclopedia; however, I am sure the Stealth isn't a skill.

Second, select Fighter as class. The Elf class was primarily a fighting type with spell-casting. Ergo, Eldritch Knight will be the Martial Archetype.

Third, or maybe this should be second, select High Elf as the subrace. None of the other options fit the BECMI Elf more. However, the extra language does emulate three extra languages (other than elf) the Elf class knew. Select either orc, gnoll, or goblin.

Fourth, customize a background to acquire a couple more languages if you really want the three.

Fifth: The find secret doors ability can be reflected by having the Investigation skill. So select or customize a background to have said proficiency.


A BECMI Elf emulated in D&D 5E.

Really was much, much simpler than I thought!

Happy Holidays!

Only 5 more blog posts to go.

Next time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December Day 6: Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Yule! Etc...

I'm going to keep this short and sweet, relatively. No on the first day of my 12 Blog Posts of December spiel today. It's Day 6 of my 12 Blog Posts of December AND it's Christmas Day. However, I am not blogging to proclaim Merry Christmas. That would be too easy...

First, recall yesterday's post on adapting the Life & Adventures of Santa Claus to D&D 5E stats? Yesterday, there was a link to suggestions on how to adapt Santa's foes the Angwas to D&D 5E stats. Well, today on En World (an http not an https site), the same author has posted suggestions for his allies. Here are the Immortals. I am not quite satisfied with recommendations on how to convert the Immortals to PC races. It's basically: take this PC race and perform a minor tweak. Really hope the Patreon goes into more detail than what's provided here for free. As NPCs, they're pretty much top-notch conversions. Suppose the Immortals may be too powerful to be PCs... Well, if the conversion is free anyway... However, the suggestions work in a pinch.

Second, I discovered the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia was available Print on Demand from DriveThru RPG. For those new to the hobby, the Rules Cyclopedia compiled the majority of the rules from the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Masters sets of Dungeons & Dragons. With rules for players and DMs along with maps and brief setting information, it is pretty much the closest to a complete game all-in-one book for Dungeons & Dragons that has ever come out.

I remember checking out this book from the library several times and marveling at the completeness of the book. Until I purchased the ebooks for Original Dungeons & Dragons (0E), it's the closest I had come to the EARLY days. When elf and dwarf were a class. Plus, it was my first exposure to Mystara outside of the Red Steel expansion for AD&D 2E. In addition, there were all sort of nifty rules that were new to me. Alas, there were pages torn out. Eventually, the library's copy disappeared. The book was Out of Print. When I purchased a digital copy, the hardcopy fetched collector prices so it would have to do.

Until now.

I was quite excited while unwrapping gifts to discover I now held in my hands my very own copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia! Holding the book in my hands, flipping through the pages, and skimming portions the book is as an exact match to my recollections. Plus, no missing pages! For instance, there's the charts from the Weapon Mastery table for each given weapon. Had no memory of those pages. Maps all intact. Book is quite readable too.

The PoD copy does seem larger than I remembered. Hardcover trim ends roughly a quarter of an inch over the trim of the interior pages. Cover looks lovely. Book feels nice to the touch. Know how some books you just want to hold in your hands? This printing of the Rules Cyclopedia matches the feeling. My only complaint is the binding may be fragile to heavy use. If I played BECMI regularly and it was traveling book, I would worry about pages falling out. Fortunately, I don't play BECMI regularly if at all. So the book's durability isn't a pressing concern. The binding does seem durable enough for pleasure reading. Besides, I do own a digital copy, which I could use as my traveling copy if need be.

Not quite sure if I'll provide a full review or review the book in stages.

Third, I read some classic newspaper strips of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates posted on a social media group. Must've missed some strips as I used Facebook's Save feature as I encountered gaps. Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates matched my recollection of when I read the colored strips compiled in page form within the pages of a magazine years ago. Only one strip seemed to come out of nowhere. The Joe Kubert art was lovely. As for the Rudolph strip, it seemed like the strip either tried to find new uses for his nose or ways Rudolph could contribute without the use of his nose. There even was a helicopter?! Overall, a pleasant way to spend time on Christmas Day.

Lastly, 2018 marks Mickey Mouse's 90th Anniversary. While I picked up both a DVD celebrating Mickey Mouse and a book from Fantagraphics collecting his early comic strips colorized, I don't know if I'll blog about either them during the remainder of the year. Not to say, I won't spend any homage to Mickey during his 90th on this blog. Why? For the first time in over a decade, I watched Mickey Mouse's Christmas Carol! Fondly recall the rollout to the "movie's" debut all those years ago. There were plushes of the various Disney characters adapted to Dickens's characters available for a limited time. I got the Donald Duck, but I digress. Anyway, when I watched Mickey's Christmas Carol as a kid I absolutely loved it! In fact, it's how I primarily know the Christmas Carol story, which I haven't actually *ahem* read. Like many classic Disney shows featuring their IP, every time Mickey's Christmas Carol aired it was an event. Then I stopped seeing it.

So what better time than during Mickey's 90th then to pick up a copy on Blu ray? Furthermore, what better time than to watch it on Christmas Day? Mickey's Christmas Carol was about as good as when I saw it back as a wee little lad. Plus, after all these years, it felt like watching it for almost the first time! Didn't watch the extras nor the intermission though. Perhaps next Christmas season?

Once again, I hope everyone has a Happy Season!

Only 6 more days of my 12 Blog Posts of December!

Next time.

Monday, December 24, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December: Day 5: Baum's Santa Stories Are Perfect Fodder For RPGs

On the first day of my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee, my take-aways from my very first halberd-wielding D&D PC. On the second day of my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee, my five take-aways from the first Tier 2 Season 8 module. On the third day of my 12 Blog Posts of December I gave to thee, a polymorphed PC fighter smashing things as a triceratops.

Told you, I would begin with a more festive opening!

Tonight's Christmas Eve.  It's also Day 5 of my 12 Blog Posts of December.

Through social media, I've learned a gamer on Patreon is adapting the characters from L. Frank Baum (the creator of the Wizard of Oz and other Oz stories) Santa Claus stories to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons stats.

Admittedly I've never Baum's Santa stories. I do have fond memories of watching the 1985 Christmas special adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus as a kid. Compared to other Christmas specials for kids it was dark and sophisticated. Santa along with his supernatural and mundane (if you count a lioness as mundane) companions contended with goblin-ish and demonic-like creatures in order to spread cheer to the children of the Laughing Valley. They had to use their cunning and their wits against a more formidable foe culminating in an epic battle. Perfect inspiration for Table-top role-playing games!

Found out after years of playing Dungeons & Dragons that the creator of Oz wrote the story that inspired the special that enthralled me as a kid.

It's been a long time since I lost saw it. The copy I enthusiastically watched was on VHS; and I never picked up a DVD replacement. Alas, I've only found a couple clips on YouTube. Here they are:

Opening credits:

Another clip featuring dialogue:

Pretty epic stuff!

There's also a clip featuring the song 'A Child'; but I never cared for the segment and the one lone weakness of the special in my eyes.

Despite not being able to watch the 1985 special, the story is available in the Public Domain. If you're not picky about formatting, you read the story and a sequel short story on Gutenberg for free. Here are links for The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and A Kidnapped Santa Claus. File choice is left open to you.

Now that I've referenced the source material, time for the links to D&D 5E stats.

I have never sponsored anyone on Patreon before. However, reading an example of Armies of the Christmas War, which adapts the Immortals (Santa's allies) and Awgwas (the bad guys) to 5E stats both as monsters and PC races attracts my interest. For instance here is the Nymph. Baum's nymph differs from the Greek mythology and D&D nymph as you can see. Based on my memory, the adaptation seems to fit the material. The stat block appears complete enough. The PC race looks cool although based on what's been provided for free more fleshing out is needed. For nostalgia's sake, I am definitely interested in this. Cause as an Adventurers League player, I am unlikely to ever use the PDF collecting everything...

If on the other hand, you only want to use the Awgwas as traditional D&D foes and you're not quite willing to shell out the money for the Patreon material, there is another way. The very same author has provided re-skins (adapting existing D&D 5E monster stats) simulating them. Just hop on over to EN World. As aside, I am an old, old, old member of the forum dating back to Eric Noah's D&D 3E spoiler page! I haven't frequented the page in a very, very long time partially because I forgot my password and stubbornly refused to re-set it. The site went through a complete overhaul. Note: it's not an https site if you're concerned about security...

Here is the Santa War: Army of the Awgwas.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the re-skins. Never read the story? Never watched the special? No worries. Each foe is described. Following the recommendations, the PCs can match sword and spells against the Awgwas!

Should I become a Patreon supporter and thus download the PDF, I will provide a review.

Therein ends Day 5. Only seven consecutive days more of blogging to go.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

12 Blogs of December Day 4: Non-seasonal X-Mas Entries and Star Wars Radio Dramas Redux

On Tuesday, I declared I would do a '12 Blogs of December' in homage to the '12 Days of Christmas'. Looked at the calendar and realized I would need to blog every day from now until the 31st to meet my goal! Better get to blogging, I guess.

My original intention way back earlier in the year was to do a compilation post including every 'X-Mas'-related blog post I made AFTER the Christmas season. Back then, I was envisioning many reviews from Marvel Digital Unlimited. Maybe reading some Christmas comics. Watch some movies and television shows containing Christmas elements. Kind of like Halloween, didn't quite happen. Unlike Halloween, I did post some out-of-season X-Mas content. Furthermore, my Marvel Digital Unlimited gift subscription was activated a couple months AFTER the holiday season. So... next year may be a completely different story.

Also, while I had stated I wasn't necessarily going to go heavy on Star Wars blogging, i.e. no Star Wars movie debuted this month, I did discover a curious thing scrolling through my 'X-Mas' label in preparation of today's compilation post. All the YouTube videos containing the Star Wars Radio Dramas were kaput...

The YouTube account had been cancelled...? Doesn't exist anymore? Regardless, the videos I had inserted no longer do what I inserted them for. Playback the three Star Wars Radio Dramas. Just another example that Internet and permanence are murky...

Fret not! I quick search on YouTube revealed another YouTuber has re-uploaded their own edit of the Star Wars Radio Audio Dramas!

For posterity's sake, here they are:

Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Blogger won't let me insert the video directly from YouTube, i.e. won't pop up on the search, so I'll provide a link instead. Here it is.

With that out of the way, here are the out of season X-Mas posts:

Palladium Books did a Christmas in July special when they offered their Christmas Surprise Package. I hadn't ordered one in years so finally I did so. Took pics of the goodies and autographs. Take a peek if you so choose.

The other non-seasonal X-Mas blogging I did during 2018 was the Marvel Digital Unlimited Upgrade Saga, which ran from the Unboxing all the way to the resolution of upgrading from an annual membership to a gift membership. I would love to say it was only a mere two-step saga; but it wasn't. There were three posts between them as I discovered upgrading wouldn't be simple, then I realized I couldn't upgrade by myself, and lastly the call to Customer Service I made to remedy the situation. In retrospect, the experience was incredibly humbling and if others can learn from experience, the better.

Therein, ends Day 4. Maybe tomorrow, I'll try to emulate the song.

Next time!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

12 Blog Posts of December: Day 3 - The Final Five Take-Aways of 2018

Last couple years, I would endeavor to do a twelve days of blogging to mirror the twelve days of Christmas. Sure, I would count Star Wars-related posts among them - cause there was a Star Wars movie that December. The posts would, in theory, potentially last until January 6th (the final day of the Christmas season); however, they would acquire a New Year's theme more often than not. My plan this year was to keep X-Mas blogging separate from other types. Well, Christmas is about a week a way. Clearly, I am not blogging twelve X-Mas themed blogs until then. Other than any potential reviews related Christmas, I don't forsee a reason to continue a '12 days of blogging' theme past December. Nor is there a Star Wars movie this year.

However, I've been in a blogging funk. I still want to continue my X-Mas themed blogging. Doing a twelve post themed strand appeals to me. It's just other than my two Five Take-Aways blog posts, I haven't blogged at all during December.

Then it hit me.

Why not do a '12 Blog Posts of December'? Mirrors the '12 days of Christmas', while not being beholden to a Christmas theme. Plus, I won't churn out more than twelve blog posts during December to fulfill some sort of quota. Granted, twelve posts does seem like a lot considering I haven't blogged anywhere near as much since October...

In any case, counting the other two Five Take-Away posts, this will be the third '12 Blog Posts of December' post. Just official now.

If you're eagle-eyed enough you'll notice I stated 'other two Five Take-Aways'. That's cause my FLGCS ran its final Adventurers League event of 2018. Store is closed on Christmas Day, which is the final Tuesday of December. Ergo,

Here is my final Adventurers League and final Five Take-Aways of 2018 period!

Christmas/Yule/Midwinter is a mood

Christmas is next week. Much like during Halloween, Adventurers League is doing some special things for Midwinter, Faerun's version of Christmas/Yule. We didn't play the midwinter module today. However, we did receive from our DM the certs for a special one-time use Midwinter 'magical item' usable until February. A figurine of wondrous power which is an elk. Not quite a flying reindeer but it'll do. Plus, last week, the AL folk released a one-shot candle which expedites short rests to 10 minutes. Also usable until the 1st of February. Wonder if the AL organizers will release more seasonal gifts new week? Expect to see many candles burning and many elk romping about during January!

To cap, it off, my DM dispensed candy contained within plastic holders shaped like candy canes. A little bit of giving to brighten the mood.

Lightning bolts and Fireballs damaging opponents as much as a Champions criticals

No, we didn't time travel back to fourth edition when those spells dealt low damage. The spell-casters consistently rolled below average damage. The Champion (Fighter 3+) would roll very high results when he rolled a critical hit. It was extremely funny when they player remarked he was doing more damage than the lightning bolts being cast. Kind of reminds me why I don't gravitate toward spell-casters. Although if I break out my Shadowrun dice, which tend not to roll too many 1s...

And the Champion polymorphed as a triceratops gores, gores, gores!

The aforementioned champion took quite a bit of damage. Reduced down to 1 hp  amount of damage. Healing magic would have been in adequate. Fortunately, one of PCs knew/prepared Polymorph. Sidenote: While I encountered Polymorph as far back as AD&D 2E, I hadn't yet encountered the spell in use in AL, let alone 5E, until now. Player wanted to polymorph him into a dinosaur. Alas, the Champion's level limited him to triceratops. Regardless, the new form gave the fighter more hit points - and one attack. The player was chagrined by the one attack but decided to use the triceratops gore. Proceeded to destroy two opponents with two gores. Couldn't help but remember the old 'gore, gore, gore' cries whenever the (now retired) Pro Wrestler Rhyno would gore someone.

Okay, I give up I cast Darkvision

Once again, I was playing my tortle monk following the way of the shadow. We were once again underground. This time, however, there were effects reducing the quality of any light sources. Being fifth level, I decided my PC would still have plenty of Qi points remaining. Took advantage of being a Shadow Monk *cough Ninja cough* to cast Darkvision. Didn't need to worry about visibility from then on as time certainly didn't exceed the 8 hours of the effect's duration. Speaking of which...

What? We've entered three combats without a short or long rest and my monk is frontlining?
First combat, didn't need to spend any Qi points. The combat was that easy. I had already used two to enact darkvision.

Second combat: Was a doozy. I burnt through all three Qi Points either disengaging or attempting a Stunning Strike. Unfortunately, the Stunning Strike failed leading to the Qi disengage after attacking the next round. The earlier Qi disengage did position my ninja out of the way of the other PC's fireballs. No regrets there.

Third combat: Wait, we didn't short rest! I got to frontline as the only other frontliner was the Champion. Thank goodness for Extra Attack, Martial Arts, and being a Tortle (high AC)! Okay, he was serviceable but I appreciated the combo more after tonight.

There you have it. The final five take-aways of 2018.

See you for my fourth day of December blogging.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Take-aways From My First Tier Two Season 8 mod

My FLGCS ran the Tier Two (levels 5 - 10 ) Season 8 Adventurers League (D&D 5E) today. Since I don't attend conventions, it's my first Tier Two module of the eighth season of Adventurers League. While I played a Battle Master (Fighter 3) the previous three modules to finish the final Tier One trilogy of Season 8, I've elected to play Nuno (ninja) tortle monk 5 whom I used during a replay of the first module of the season. It's the first time I've played a 5E monk at the next tier. Also breaking my previous practice of coming up with Take-Aways from scratch, I came up up with some questions before the session, which the five take-aways will address.

What is my impression of Season 8 mods at the next tier, ie tier 2?

Love how the Tier 2 Season 8 modules carry the same open feel as the Tier 1 modules. This module felt more linear; but the DM decided to run the module in such a fashion. We were a very strong table yet the combats weren't incredibly difficult. Furthermore, the module had character elements interwoven into the fabric of the module so NPC's personalities shined through. Antagonists weren't just Villain-of-the-encounter. When I ever do write a game session write-up, I have my work cut out for me on that front! Finally, the DM planned for four objectives (ie a four hour module under Season 8 guidelines). We finished within four hours. Give or take. So the Tier 2 module continues the Season 8 trend of bucking the 'One does not simply finish in AL mod during its allotted time!' of past seasons.

How did feel to play a Tier 2 monk? Was is easy and intuitive? Did I struggle?

In past blog entries, I've remarked how I felt inadequate playing a monk PC in 5E. Either everything just wasn't clicking or I didn't feel I grasped everything. Playing a fifth level monk for the first time hasn't changed those feelings. A tier 2 monk isn't difficult play-wise. Just don't feel I've grasped how to play a monk correctly in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons or my play-style is too conservative. Caveat: my Tier 2 experience is limited so that may be a reason why.

On the other hand, I did remember to take advantage of an impeding short rest to have my Way of the Shadow monk cast Darkvision. A player sitting next to me remarked it was the first time he'd heard someone cast the spell at an AL table so there's that.

Thoughts on Extra Attack and Stunning Strike?

Sadly, I never was able to used Stunning Strike during the module at all. Status effects and NPCs unable to be harmed by my attacks/high Con saves nullified the opportunity for the ability. A discovery for another time.

Since I have both a Paladin and Barbarian whom are Tier 2, I am no stranger to Extra Attack. Unlike those occasions, I had no trouble forgetting Extra Attack this time. Pretty nice.

Did any big surprises occur?

How much of role the cantrip Mending served during the course of the module.  The player was amazed he was able to use Mending at all not to mention how much of game-changer the cantrip was.

The nature of the Big Bad, which the DM disguised with both language and atmosphere - with a dash of secrecy regarding game mechanics thrown in too. Plus, I was too much immersed within the moment to notice the odd tactics. Granted, my relative unfamiliarity with Tier 2 and beyond also contributed my being swerved. New players could potentially enjoy the big reveal immensely.

Learn anything new from tonight's experience?

More exposure to third level spells (ie, haste and conjuration/summoning), which Tier One PCs are unable to use. Quite frankly, comparing editions, I've encountered Haste as much as I did playing AD&D 2nd Edition as much as the later editions combined, all of which changed the mechanics of the spell. Was pretty cool to see a summoning in use on the PC during a fifth edition session for the first time.

One of the other PCs was a great weapon master, sentinel, pole-arm master glaive wielder. After tonight's session, should my halberd-wielder survive as long, he'll probably follow the same feat chain. Too potent a combo.

While I feel Slow Progression is best regarding my monk in order to learn the class more, reaching 6th level ASAP strikes me as essential.

That's it for tonight.

Happy Gaming and see you next time/Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Final Adventurers League Season 8 Tier 1 Take-Aways of 2018

My favorite local comics and games stores hosted the final module Season 8 Tier One (levels 1 - 4) module tonight. While there will be a Tier One table available during the remaining D&D Adventurers League events at the store, most likely they'll be replays or CCC's as Tier Two modules of Season 8 will be focus. Tonight also marked my first time playing a Battle Master fighter archetype in D&D 5E. So here's my final tier 1 take-aways of 2018.

You can play a Loki-type PC in 5E!
By Loki, I mean the Loki as portrayed by Tom Hiddleston in the MCU. Trickery domain? Check. A splash of Rogue for Sneak Attack and Cunning Action? Check. The PC had them both. However, the crème de le crème was the use of Channel Divinity to create a duplicate. While MCU Loki rarely uses a duplicate to force his opponent to 'fight double' in the movies, I have a feeling 'fighting doubles' would be more frequent if the special effects budget allows. D&D on the other hand isn't hobbled by a budget. Ergo, the tactic of 'fight me and my duplicate' was employed. Also, the PC possessed a hat of disguise and would try would be opponents. Antics all befitting of Loki.

I am the City Watch!
What's better than pretending you're a member of the City Watch? Being a member of the City Watch 'performing City Watch' functions. My city watchmen diffused a situation by 'arresting another PC'; but also could have swayed another situation because of his role. Alas, I rolled a one...

Season 8 modules possess a more open-world feel
Just enough information seemed to be given to the DM that we could have approached the modules in a number of different ways and via different play-styles and accomplished our goals. Which was good, because the Tabaxi Rogue really loved sneaking around and inadvertently causing mischief such as the incident that led to my PC 'arresting' him.

Treasure Checkpoints and Advancement Checkpoints Both Allow for Murder Hobo style of play yet renders that style moot.
We, ahem, triggered much more combat than we should have. The module seemed set up for 'what happens if the PCs fight so-and-so. Which is good. However, D&D experience points have long been based on what you killed, how many did you kill, and was it a challenge. Advancement Checkpoints renders any combat not related to accomplishing your goals superfluous. Sorry, murder hobos. No extra XP for you. On a similar note, the aforementioned rogue loved looting stuff. DM loved exaggerating the rewards only to end by stating 'and you keep none of it'. Sure, PCs can loot as a character trait; but there'll be no game mechanical benefit for doing so. So there's less reason for a 'kill and take their stuff' mentality. I can't think of a better way of discouraging murder hobo behavior than rendering it meaningless other than increasing the chances of PC failure, ie death or failure of objectives.

My first taste of Battle Master Combat Maneuvers was limited but satisfying.
Never played a battle master before. Therefore, I've never used combat maneuvers in 5E prior to this evening. Believe I only used them about three times and it was the same maneuver every time. There was an attempted fourth; but I missed the attack role only to discover the maneuvers are worded along the line '... the hit...' implying they're like Divine Smite and don't need to be called beforehand. Absolutely loved the discovery because I felt dejected upon the miss. Didn't get to experience the effect too much because the damage dealt dropped the opponent to the kill/unconscious condition on two of the occasions. The one successful use occurred during movement phase so tripping the opponent didn't have quite the impact. Other than that I loved the flair of tripping opponents. Still, I enjoyed the extra combat option enough that I feel pursuing Slow Progression with my fighter to experience combat maneuvers more will be more than worth it.

Happy Gaming!

Next time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Final Shadowrun Missions Five Take Aways of 2018

Every last Tuesday of the month at my FLGCS there's a Shadowrun Missions organized play event. Looking back, 2018 has been a horrible month for it. In a perfect world, Season 9 (Neo-Tokyo) modules would be starting next year. Instead, two or three mods remain of Season 8 (Chicago). Unfortunately, too many events were cancelled. We already know December won't work out. The last session of the year would have fallen on a holiday, chummer. So tonight was now or never.

We didn't have the full compliment; but we decided to game on once there were four players in attendance, myself included. Alas, the pre-game discussion led to the conclusion that tonight was the final Shadowrun Missions session at my FLGCS for the year. Ergo, this is my final Shadowrun Mission Five Take Aways of 2018 too.

As always, our infrequent Shadowrun gaming meant we were rusty throughout the evening. Hopefully, we can remedy the rules rustiness during 2019.

Reagents + Edge re-rolls Is Powerful Combo when casting some spells
Yeah, I've covered using drams of reagents to augment spells here before. However, I never used to Edge to re-roll failures. Furthermore, I hadn't used them to augment to limit of spells where Force didn't matter mechanically except for drain if the limit had been increased. Tonight, I verified reagent-amplified direct combat spells backed by Edge failure re-rolls fulfills what I have felt combat magic has been missing in fifth edition. Combat magic simply doesn't possess the knockout punch it had in prior editions. This combo solves that.

GM forewarnings and clues improved game quality substantiallyThere are times we can be quite destructive as a group. Due to GM hints we avoided several nasty ramifications throughout the module. Considering Shadowrun Missions hasn't been established despite running several years at my FLGCS, I feel this was a wise course of action. Plus, this was easily the best Shadowrun Missions session of the year; and without these I don't think everyone would have enjoyed it as much.

Over in Adventurers League, there's much gnashing of teeth over loot. Shadowrun Missions doesn't really have a hard fast rule over plunder. Was your group lucky enough to acquire some? Do you keep it all? Do you sell it? SRM turns a blind eye; and the campaign is better for it. On the side, we've gotten better regarding to time management fencing it.

Prepped visuals and narrative enhanced and improved game flow
One benefit of the delays is the GM had plenty of time to prepare visuals and decide how narrate some portions of several mass combats. Either that or experience is paying off as Season 8 has required many combat encounters to be narrated in order to speed the game along. I'm a theater-of-the-mind guy but I have to admit miniature use made the session.

Use of the full complexity of first aid/heal spell rules were used
First aid rules have been glossed over quite a bit too the point we often forget tables exist. We also haven't had too many encounters where magical healing was significantly needed afterward. Not so tonight. Really did impact the game.

That's all. My remaining Five Take Aways will be D&D 5E related.

Happy gaming!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Visual aids, Old-School Thief Role-Play, and Other Take-Aways from 11/20/18 D&D AL Session

Gosh, after weeks and sometimes months between Five Take-Away posts, it's incredibly surreal to be blogging another a week after the previous installment. Gaming regularly beats knowing you can game regularly. While late November into December is the time of year where weather and the holidays can put a crimp into gaming, it's nice to game on consecutive evenings. Just finished a Tuesday night Adventurers League (D&D 5E) at my favorite comics and games store. As much as I stated I felt I could keep blogging my five take-aways on regularly basis last week, didn't feel as confident earlier today. As fate would hold it I managed to come up with some.

What the dice gods giveth, the dice gods taketh away
Last week, I remarked how my new halberd-wielding fighter was an engine of death. Hitting and rolling maximum damage consistently. Ability checks, only high DCs were the problem. Tonight, the dice were against me. The die roll would frequently result less than ten. Multiple tries were needed before a single success. Fortunately for my PC, the module wasn't too die roll dependent so he wasn't hurt too much. Except maybe his pride. Maybe serving on Waterdeep's City Watch isn't so bad?

Sometimes dialogue and incremental character development is the best role-play
When you're participating in an Adventurers League session, you're under a time crunch. There isn't always time to engage in deep immersive role-play. Hate to admit but my role-play suffers as a result. However, after a new player (and another new-ish) player, distinguish their PCs by dialogue (both how they said things and what they said) I realize I was mistaken. There's always time for dialogue. After all, characterization occurs more frequently through dialogue.

Another role-play consequence of Adventurers League episodic nature is there really isn't much room for character development. Not only is there not enough time but like the good ship Enterprise the PCs find themselves on a new adventure each module. Character development is hard under those circumstances. However, not if it occurs incrementally. PCs don't have a patron diety? Well, in a module where dieties are discussed, you can elect to have your PC declare his/her patron. Tonight, a couple PCs not declared their patrons but made known what they thought of a specific non-patron diety.

New players enhance game play in ways experienced gamers don't
I sat at a table with a player brand new to the game. Several other players probably haven't played table-top RPGs for more than ten sessions. There's a degree of openness to experience and less reliance upon the rules that simply isn't present with experienced players. Rather nice to witness someone going 'I do this' versus 'because of this rule chain my PC is...'. Always great to see new players learn the game, while challenging preconceived notions...

Speaking of which....

The 1st level Rogue was played like an old-school Thief!
The newbie played a rogue. Anyone who's familiar with old-school Thief rules (pre-third edition) could tell you actually succeeding at one's Thief's skills was tricky in itself. You were lucky if your 1st level PC had greater than 50% chance to succeed. Odds are your thief had less than 50% to pass the check! I played a thief PC in AD&D 1E whose top thief skills were around 30% if I recall correctly. With such a low chance of success, you only used your thief skills when you either absolutely had to or felt confident you'd succeed given the circumstances. Otherwise, the thief player role-played themselves out of situations using cunning, wit, and charm. Tonight, the new player of the rogue pretty much did that exactly. Granted, it could've been the module itself. However, quite a bit of humor and ingenuity were deployed tonight. Furthermore, much of the action was propelled by the rogue much like the thief of old would do.

Visual Aids Enhance and Immerse Players During Puzzles.
The module was a puzzle module... They were the kind of puzzles where verbal descriptions would complicate the puzzle more than it really should be. Furthermore, my table included quite a number of players, who like myself, hate puzzles. There's a puzzle? Oh I suck at puzzles! Normally, once a puzzle starts stumping us, I lose interest. Unless the DM forces my involvement, my mind wanders and it's up to everyone else to solve it. Fortunately, the DM had a solution to both. He created a visual representation of the puzzle AND allowed us to take notes. A picture is worth a thousand words. Much of the time, I can't visualize a puzzle and lose interest. The DM's visual representation gave me something to focus on. Plus, since we could take notes, we could decipher where we were wrong. Quite frankly, if you module contains puzzles and time is limited, please incorporate visuals. Enhances the play experience immensely.

Happy Gaming! See you all next Tuesday Night!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pole-arm Thoughts and Other Take-Aways from D&D 5E Adventurers League Session 11/13/18

Huzzah!!! That O' reader is the exultant shout of an excited gamer who experienced an exhilarating gaming session marking the return to regular gaming. Not only that but it's the excitement that arises from trying a new concepts that I haven't done before playing the fifth (official) edition of the world's most popular table-top role-playing game. A concept I haven't used during my entire time playing Adventurers League. Heck, I've never created a PC based on this particular concept during my entire D&D gaming experience. Entire table-top role-playing experience too. Very exciting installment of my Five Take-Aways!

What is the new concept I've never played before?

A Waterdeep City Guard who wields a pole-arm. A halberd, to be precise.

Yep. I've never played a city guard before in an RPG session. Not to my recollection anyway... When I first spotted the background within Sword Coast Adventurers Guide, my reaction was... meh. The Investigator was kind of nice; but why would you play the regular watchman? Since Season 8's setting is Waterdeep, the city guard background was very appealing from a role-play standpoint. When else would you pick the background while playing in the Adventurers League Organized Play campaign? A background which fits like a glove.

Pole-arms? They've never quite fit what I was playing nor appealed via rule-wise to me. Back during AD&D 2E, the weapon speed was too slow and impaired the high damage die. The way we played never quite supported the benefits. Plus, the pole-arm wielder didn't fit my visage of a D&D adventurer. Third edition: the rules were much better; but D&D has always been too much in-your-face. Most pole-arms would become a liability with my play-style. Although, I did witness some gamers use pole-arms well with their PCs. Fourth: Never played long enough. My experience with B/X was more hodge-podge combo with AD&D. Didn't play a pole-arm wielder in that game. When I played AD&D 1E, neither PC was a fighter-type.

Over the years, I learned Gary Gygax was a huge pole-arm fan. I've also come to appreciate the historical significance of the weapon. Coupled with D&D 5E rules having what appeared to be the most pole-arm friendly D&D rules I've ever seen, I've felt a desire to play a pole-arm wielder. Particularly a halberd wielder.

With Season 8 fresh and the urgent need to create a new PC, it was time.

So without further ado, here's my Five Take-Aways from tonight.

Imps make great impactful and flavorful familiars - Disclaimer: my fighter does not have a familiar. However, I have yet to write a Five Take-Away and not comment about what another player does. Been participating in Adventurers League for several years now. Most of the familiars are... birds. Really haven't seen many imps. Heck, I don't think I'd choose an imp! This session changed my mind. For starters, the DM insisted the imp had its own personality role-played by the DM. Familiars have been more like add-ons so it was nice to have an NPC follower/henchmen/hireling dynamic present. Especially in D&D 5E where the dynamic doesn't exist. Least not in AL. Furthermore, the heavy lifting was performed by the imp familiar. Searching and a pivotal plot involving in action the familiar was untrained. The table waited with baited breath as the player rolled the untrained check... and... succeeded! Don't get more D&D than that!

City guard background enhanced the experience - No die rolls were impacted. Nor were any major scenes affected by the city guard background. However, it lent a RPG hook and influenced role-play where I do not believe I would've role-played my PC within the manner that I did. The guard aspect was played up as well as the PC's connection to Waterdeep. Plus, NPC references to my PC held a minute measure of note. Sorry spoilers....

Pole-arm reach is nice and not a hindrance! - In 3rd edition, an opponent closed with a pole-arm wielder the PC had to 5' step away if possible. Not required within 5E. Never had to sweat when an enemy closed the gap. Furthermore, the ability to attack an enemy more than a square (5') away was an incredible feeling. Positioning my PC more than a sword's distance away was a nice feeling.

Pole-arm Master is Awesome - An opponent moves within 10 feet (2 squares) of my PC? I attack them. I attacked once with the halberd blade and hit? Cool. Time to swing the blunt end of the halberd at the opponent or a different opponent. The halberd wielding pole-arm expert opened a range of tactical options I normally don't play with. I can whack an opponent before it reaches my PC and then on my turn effectively attack twice. Absolutely love the feat!

Rolling max halberd damage, great weapon fighting, and low level led my PC to being an angel of death - I don't often roll maximum damage. Rolling 1s or 2s is more common for me especially when rolling d4s (such as when the blunt end of the halberd is swung). Furthermore, PCs don't remain 1st or 2nd level long in Adventurers League. So I've forgotten what it's like when a PC downs an opponent with one blow. Well, tonight, I believe I rolled maximum halberd damage (d10) multiple times! If the halberd damage didn't drop an NPC than the blunt end would. Felt nice replacing the 1 or 2 rolled on damage with a 3 or a 4, alright. Swathes of NPCs fell from the ends of the halberd. If only damage scaled with level! Regardless, my 1st-level halberd-wielding fighter was an engine of destruction. As opponents' hit points increase, the effectiveness will diminish. Still the feeling of rolling maximum damage along with feeling minimum damage can be rectified was a glorious feeling indeed.

That is my latest installment of my Five Take-Aways.

Until next Tuesday, happy gaming!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Converting Adventurers League PCs From XP to ACP Was A Snap

When I played D&D 5E at my FLGCS Adventurers League night on October 30th, I sort of fudged my PC's qualifications to participate at a Tier 1 table. According to experience points, my PC was still 4th level. However, the PC could've been fifth level and unable to participate in Tier 1 modules. Why? Cause Adventurers League switched from experience points to advancement checkpoints as inspired by Xanathar's Guide To Everything. Originally, Shadowrun Missions was scheduled for that day so I wasn't planning on converting any of Dungeons & Dragons PCs to the new system. Despite knowing plans changed, I didn't convert any of my PCs and guessed...

Beginning this upcoming Tuesday, I'll have the option to game as much as I have the entire 2018 so far to date! Home game, it wouldn't be a problem. However, the majority of the gaming will be via Adventurers League. Can't really not convert any of PCs to the new advancement checkpoint system if I want to game, now can I?

Fortunately, the conversion is more tedious than complex. Felt more of throwback to doing homework in math class!

Now before the Adventurers League police cuff me for not convert my tortle monk to ACP (advancement checkpoints), I had perused the conversion rules beforehand. The number of advance checkpoints a PC possesses after conversion is a ratio multiplied by the number of checkpoints required to advance in level. Since a player decides whether to round up or round down, I chose round down. Nuno the ninja tortle monk would not be automatically bumped to level 5 upon conversion.

Nuno did level though as he leveled upon the module's completion. Despite rounding down, Nuno had enough ACP to raise a level even if I had chosen slow progression.


Now, I had to convert the other characters.

Grogg - another PC I could've converted to a higher level. He would be eighth level (character and class) and eligible for another feat or ability score improvement. Remain undecided on what options I want yet. Round down it is. One more module to decide...

By the time I converted my third PC, Morland Doyle, conversion was a breeze. Won't be able to play Morland any time soon though. Following conventional rounding practices seemed sensible to me. Rounded down.

Tor - really love playing my Tempest Cleric whom I've patterned after Gaiman's Sandman and what I've heard is Apotheosis's interpretation of Thor. I wanted Tor to remain Tier 1 a little while longer so I rounded down. With Slow Progression, two modules should be the minimum for Tor to reach Tier 2. Honestly, don't know how my play-style will fit the upper tiers...

Last but not least was my very first Adventurers League PC, the Dragonborn Paladin Ser Rhogar. Conversion was a snap. Pretty much converted him to one ACP almost exactly. Maybe I'm old school but you don't round to 2 if it's 1.13... Frankly, the hardest part was determining whether it paid to convert Ser Rhogar as I hadn't played him since Season 7 began. The PC died right a month prior so I had to determine if he had enough gold to pay for a Raise Dead spell-casting service. Suppose not playing a Tier 2 PC in over a year influenced my decision to round down as well.

Overall, the hardest part of converting my Adventurers League PCs was repeating the process four additional times. I began playing table-top RPGs back during the days of AD&D 2E. I'm used to character advancement taking a little while longer. Rounding down was an easy decision. After all, I can participate in both Tier 1 and Tier 2 modules longer than otherwise.

Wouldn't hurt to create a new level 1 PC though...

Happy Gaming!

Next time.