Sunday, September 26, 2010

LL at Paul's: Hog wild.

Tally ho, Chaps and Chappettes!

Yet another week of rampageous action with th' ol' Labyrinth Lord campaign at my buddy Paul's.

So, when last we left our heroes, we were camped out in a spooky castle in the Dead Hills on our way to Elfhold to meet with Prince Gway and warn him about the eminent hobgoblin invasion of Restenford.

(Not knowing that in the meantime, said fishing village has been already overrun by hobs in a massive battle that has left the humanoid invaders leaderless and ogreless, with the Baron of Restenford holed up in the keep in the middle of hobgoblin country.)

We were all pretty banged up from some encounters with bugbears and an undead bone giant the day before, so we'd fallen back to the entry rooms of the castle and nailed the doors shut, hoping that trouble wouldn't find us while we healed and congealed and regained our spells.

Well, of course it found us. This is Labyrinth Lord, not Candyland.

A little bit into the first watch, the lights go out, like completely. Then somebody shouts out the usual boilerplate "WHO DARES INVADE THE SANCTUARY ETC. ETC." speech, and something big starts pounding on the double doors deeper into the castle.

Well, we all wake up from that, and general panic sets in with everybody going in every direction. Klint falls back to the outer room, that hasn't been effected by the impenetrable magical darkness. Jantz the Ranger tries to peek under the crack in the door, but only sees a sliver of light and some feet. The Deacon gets out his hand drill and tries to bore a hole in the door but it's not fast enough and the drill bit keeps getting knocked loose from the banging. We all huddle up with the archers. Kashim and Frog the Henchman and Amos and the elves we're traveling with all scrum up and ready their weapons.

Suddenly, the door bangs open and standing there is an impressive wizard in a pointy hat with a squad of bugbear goons, and he's pissed. He introduces himself as Tevlar the Mighty or somesuch and demands we buzz off.

Of course, being the well organized, machine like in our precision group that we are, every man jack of us starts blathering a different story to the angry man in the pointy hat, from offering to run errands, to veiled threats, to Lord knows what. I can't totally recall, but I think we need to work on getting on the same page when it comes down to negotiating with powerful and potentially fatal personages. One of us dropped Pelltar's name, which didn't help, as Tevlar said "Pelltar? Pelltar's a hack!" Rut roh...

So anyway, Tevlar decides he's had enough of us and lays a whammy on us with this wand of his. All of us except for Jantz and Klint, who'd been sneaking around to try a backstab, are afflicted with a spell that makes us flee in terror at incredible speed, and so it's a big ol' stampede out the door, and across the courtyard, which is now sprouting zombies and skeletons from the big burned area at it's center, and through the hole in the wall and down the hillside in the pitch black night in the Dead Hills.

Cut off from the rest of the group and surrounded by angry goons, our man Jantz does the only thing he can: grovels like a whipped dog at the wizard's feet. In his blubbering, he mentions the invasion of Restenford, which catches the wizard's attention.

Tevlar demands the whole story, which Jantz helpfully provides, then nods and tells him to begone, him and Klint, who he's noticed trying to flank him. When Jantz complains about the horde of undead in the way, the wizard shrugs and drops a fireball in the courtyard, making a zombie jamboree into zombie jambalaya. Yeah, this guy's kind of out of our league right now...

Not needing to be told twice, the remaining party members flee the castle, meeting up with the rest of us, who are all standing around bent over clutching at our sides and gasping for air, down in the valley on the road. We decide to move on a little and camp by the roadside, with some of the party vowing revenge for our ill treatment at the sorceror's hands.

The next day we've had a fitful night sleep and there's enough Cure Light Wounds to go around so everybody who's lookin' a bit peaked gets cleaned up a bit. We trudge on through the winding, eerie woods, talking about having to cross through even creepier, meaner, wilder woods, the Gloomwood, to make it to Elfhold.

Eventually, we come to a fork in the road. One fork heads toward our destination. The other is a short jaunt to a town called Greenwild. We decide that the loss of time heading over there will be made up by ditching our slow moving cart and draft horses, buying some extra horses for party members that might need 'em, and riding at speed to Elfhold. So we make a break for civilization.

We get there in about a day, and it seems like a nice little place, kinda woodsy but bigger than Restenford. We run into a bunch of local militia guys practicing in a field and introduce ourselves, asking about where we might put ourselves up for the night and whatnot. He obliges us, and we also fill him in about the trouble approaching Restenford. He agrees it's grave news, and says the CoC of Greenwild had been wondering why trade with the little fishing village we call home had trickled off. Bidding him good day, we made our way into town.

When we got there, we settled in at the inn, and did a little horse trading. We set our cart, with Garant and Darius, our hirelings, up for a month at the local livery stable, with orders that if we don't come back in that time they can consider their employment terminated and wend what way they will. We discussed with the Elves and Roger, and ended up parting company with all of the elves, save for their wizard Hearth (who is in fact a new player who just joined this session). He and the rest of us would escort Roger, Gway's spy, to meet up with his boss at Elfhold by passing thru the poorly reputationed Gloomwood.

So all our chores done, we settled in for the night. Time for some of us to pull out Jeff Rient's Carousing Rules and tie one on. So Kashim, desert dwelling dervish of debauchery that he is, fired up his party turban, and woke up the next morning buck naked in a local temple's sacred fountain with a bunch of pissed off priests standing around demanding restitution.

Now, the Deacon's policy with this has always been to slip the local bartender of whatever bar we're haunting a silver and asking him to let him know if any of the party get in trouble, and it paid off, more or less, that morning when one of the servers came up and whispered the news in my ear. I got up and told the party I was going to go for a little walk, and Hearth, our new elven friend, decided to come along.

Well, I hurried over to the temple, of some kind of harvest god who's name I can't recall, and could hear the argument from outside the gates. (Kashim's voice does carry.) He was still nekkid and shouting at an elderly high priest and his three acolytes. After I'd finished face palming,

I waded in.

First order of business, give Kashim something to cover up. Second, see what we could do the smooth things over. We were kind of running out of towns we were welcome in around here...

Well, it turns out repurifying the fountain is expensive, so we had a choice. Either the temple could keep all of Kashim's equipment, that he'd so thoughtfully left in their donation box during his drunken rampage the night before, or they could lay a Quest spell on him.

We told him about our urgent business to go talk to Prince Gway with the hobgoblin invasion emminent and all. He said that explained why trade had trickled off from Bridgefair, and told us about an acolyte of the temple, one Belinus Beechson, who'd gone to find out what the matter was and had disappeared somewhere around a place called Skull Hill. (Cheery!) So the quest would be for us to find this missing acolyte.

We explained we *really* had to go to Elfhold with the hobgoblins and all. He said that would be fine, the spell would kick in the moment we spoke to Prince Gway. If we didn't immediately go look for this Beechson sumbeech, Kashim would get a big ol' curse slam dunked in his pants. Or, we could part with all the fancy gear Kashim had left in the donation box: his armor, the Vadium Sword, the Ring of Water Walking.

Of course being greedy player characters, to whom fancy stuff is more important that life itself (vis a vis, for example, a certain thief's magic hat for which four men died to obtain), we chose to let 'em lay the delayed action mojo on Kashim.

Now we were on the clock, we mounted up and rode hard for the crossroads, then took the fork that would take us into the Gloomwood.

It was definitely gloomy, and also full of elven ruins, that Hearth would sadly point out to us as we passed. Lots of bad stuff happened in the past under these gnarly trees.

As it was getting on time to camp out, we came to a clearing, and found a ring of glowing mushrooms. Well, since when you're dealing in areas heavily trafficked by evil faeries, a bunch of glowing mushrooms is kind of nature's Hazmat warning tape, so we gave it a wide berth and moved on.

Since we had trouble finding a suitable clearing, we decided to just camp on the road, since odds were in this fantasy DMZ there wouldn't be much traffic.

Sometime around second watch, our designated watchers spotted a couple figures walking up the road. A couple of big, fat, ugly naked guys. No matter what genre you're operating in, that's bad news, but being cautious Gentleman Jack and Kashim (I think) approached them to talk while the third member on watch woke the rest of us up.

The slobbering goons demanded food, so Mister Getz gave them a ration. They refused it, saying they wanted real food. Meat. When our guys told 'em to beat it, the fat slobs squealed in rage and transformed into big mean boars.


So we all set to work hackin' and slashin'. Good thing we had a few magic weapons on us. The MVP in the fight was Klint, with his fancy bejeweled sword. He managed to get the drop on the beasties and stuck the pigs good, I think eventually killing both of 'em.

And that was about where we left it. There's gonna be a couple weeks off due to some of our members travelling, so this is where things sit for now.

All in all a good session, although I'm a bit concerned that Kashim's misfire on the Carousing table is making the rest of the party too timid to try it. I know I don't have a lot of room to talk, since I haven't rolled on the table myself. This is mostly because I see a large part of the Deacon's character as voice of reason/designated driver for the party. If I was playing a less "straight n' narrow" kind of character, I'd probably roll on the Carousing rules any chance I got. Kashim DID manage to gain a big boost of 700 exp out of it, probably the biggest Experience boost of the night, and he also gave us a new adventure hook, which is cool in my book. I guess it's just that I can tell when players start turtling, having been on both sides of the screen, and it's kind of unfortunate given how much enjoyable mayhem can result from these rules. Embrace the random tables, fellas! It's all in fun! I guess I'll have to break down and have the Deacon carouse a bit. It's out of character, in my opinion, but I guess I need to put my money where my mouth is.

Anyway, that's it for now. Thanks again to Paul for the usual fantastical fare, and thanks to the 10d gamers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shiver me timbers!

It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, by thunder!

T' all ye mariners ancient and new, t'is a day t' gets together about a mug o' grog, and keelhauls a landlubber.

Remembers t' talks in maritime tense.

Now go Rant and Roar, ye barnacles. It can go on all week. Aye!


Book of War at Paul's - The Battle of Restenford.

So this week's weekly game was a bit different. While our party was off goofing around in a haunted castle, the hobgoblin army invaded the sleepy little fish town of Restenford, where we'd sort of had our home base.

As you can see, Paul went all out, creating a little model village for us to keep from being pillaged.

We were using Delta's Book of War rule set to adjudicate the battle, and overall it went well.

Well, it went well in terms of the rules worked. It was a savage pummeling for the home team. Paul brought in our old friend Scott K. to take the part of the enemy, as he has often done before when our rpg campaigns go all wargamy. He's a veteran wargamer, and likes to crush players' dreams.

So here's poor little Restenford, with an army of hobknobbin' hobgoblins ready to move in and take over.

Incidentally, the ogres you see here were provided (and painted) by Curt Schilling. I guess someone told them Restenford was full of Yankees fans...

Here was our initial setup. Each figure represents 10 guys, with the exception of the wizard, who's a solo. Our forces consisted 80 peasant levy, 20 peasant archers, the Archmage Pelltar, and a potential 50 paladins riding to the rescue who'd arrive on a cumulative 6 on a d6. Our wizard had Summon Earth Elemental, Wall of Fire, Dimension Door, and three Lightning Bolt spells at his disposal.

We decided to set up with the wizard under heavy cover on the hilltop with the archers as a screen. We put 40 guys on the hilltop by the castle, and 40 in the center of town. We weren't entirely sure what we'd do with the foot guys, so we just played 'em sorta loose. If things went well, we could hopefully channel the hobs into the valley there and rain destruction down on 'em.

Things didn't go well.

Our first and biggest mistake, in my opinion, was being too hasty with the earth elemental, and pitting it against the worst possible foe for it to face. The earth elemental hit hard, and had a tough armor value, but only had 1 Hit, so if they did manage to hit him he'd go down like a punk. So of course we set him up against the ogres, who outnumbered him and had the best chance to hit him. I dunno what Sun Tzu said about pitting strength vs. strength, but this time it didn't pay off. Probably our most powerful spell largely wasted as the ogres played quarrymen on our rock jock...


Well, seeing how that was going, we decided to consolidate our peasants to give 'em a chance to take on whatever might attack 'em. We moved 'em down into the center of town.

A couple rounds in we rolled our lucky number and the Paladins of Palinthor came thundering up the road from Bridgefair. Unfortunately, there was that ogre problem to deal with. We tried to think of ways to get around the big bastards, but we needed to get these guys into town asap. So we just ended up charging 'em head on.

Meanwhile, the other dividend of mis-applying the elemental was that it left a bunch of hob archers free to fire on our stand of archers and the wizard. We lost 10 guys, so we had Pelltar and the surviving archers fall back thru the streets toward the center of town

As we dithered in town, the hobs moved in in several columns. A force of them climbed the hill, which caused the Baron to seal off the tower, leaving it inaccessable to the men on the ground. As you can see, we had a lot of frikkin' hobs to deal with.

In an effort to stem their advance while we waited for the paladins to get clear of the ogres, we had Pelltar cast his Wall of Fire. This also shielded our peasant levy from the bows of the hobgoblin archers.

It also set a stand of timber at the center of town ablaze. Things were getting serious!

While the humans dealt with all h-e-double swizzlesticks breaking loose in the center of town, the hobs achieved their primary objective, seizing the docks of Restenford as a naval beach head for something I don't wanna think about...

While all this was going on, a column of hob troops came marching at our surviving archers and Pelltar, who had to concentrate to keep the Wall of Fire burning. The brave yeomen lined up across the street and stood fast, firing at the approaching mob of hobs.

Since the Wall of Fire was our big defensive position, we reformed the peasant levy into a column, and sent 'em in to surround Pelltar, weaving through the narrow spaces between the huts.

Meanwhile, the ogres were fulfilling their role marvelously, holding up our heavy horsemen in a drawn out slugfest. It was probably going to be too late to help any of the peasants.

We had our brave Restenfordians form up two lines, guarding Pelltar's position, with hobgoblins closing in from all sides. The Inn of the West Wind, the swankiest joint in town, was soon to catch fire from all the expensive booze stored inside.

The hobs charged up and battle was joined. I was actually impressed by how long the peasants held out without failing their rout check and running like little chickens...

Thing, however, were getting too hot for Pelltar, so we had him drop the Wall of Fire and Dimension Door outta there. I'm sure the peasants were NOT happy about that, but an archmage doesn't get to be an archmage by sticking around to take one on the chin...

Finally, the pallys smacked down the last of the ogres. Here we came to a bit of a discussion between the players. Do we fish or cut bait? We could turn the paladins around and get them out of there, to fight another day. Or we could go in with lances blazing and go down fighting.

Speaking of going down fighting, things were getting rough for the home team. The left flank finally sustained enough losses and broke, running toward the crossroads in a panic. The right flank got whittled down, but still the irascible bastards held their ground.

Of course, it's easy to hold your ground when you're surrounded by brutal subhumans with no place to go but down. So Pointy Pete there bought it under a hail of cheap maces.

The fleeing Restenfordies got run down and reduced by half, before fleeing again. This time, the last remnant outran the pursuing hobs and got away. These ten brave, but prudent, guys will hopefully form the core of a resistance movement.

Or move in with relatives a few villages down and forget this all ever happened.

So what did we decide to do with the paladins?

What do you think!? They're paladins! They don't turn tail when there's hobgoblins to stomp! Nay verily, sayest the mighty Palinthor!

Furthermore, that rat soup eatin' bastard of a hobgoblin general was standing right next to Palinthor House, doing a little tapdance on the grave of the brave paladin Yøgund Früdje. (We miss you, Yøgund...)

This would not stand!

So into the fishing village of death rode the forty paladins, and slammed into the hobgoblin general's face, stomping him and his bodyguard into a thin, ape scented paste...

Yeah, that's right, pal. Nobody stands next to a building in our town!

Anyway, this charge left the paladins kind of boxed in to a small square, and the hobgoblin subchief and his archers moved in on 'em.

The pallys managed to stomp the subchief, mixing his component molecules with his former boss, but kept sustaining losses from the rank and file hobs, and were soon whittled down to one.

Then none. Alas.

And that's how the battle of Restenford wrapped up. Actually, a very interesting situation for the Labyrinth Lord campaign.

The town is overrun with hobgoblins, but they're leaderless, and also ogreless. (A nice plus in any situation.) The Baron and his people are holed up in the tower under siege, and the archmage Pelltar is out and on the loose.

So yeah, we lost, but things just got a whole lot more interesting, which is a win for the main goal, which is having fun with this crazy campaign. I look forward to seeing what develops.

Thanks to Paul for setting up this incredible diorama of doom and arranging for our celebrity guest stars. Thanks to Scott K. for trouncing us. (Sorry there were no PC's in town for you to kill.) And thanks, as always, to the 10d gamers for a fine outing.

Upon consideration, this session definitely deserves a Kudosaurus.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maritime Mutants!

Avast thar. 'tis the terrible Cap'n Grakk and the fearsome Pirates of Quar.

L to R: Fishy Pierre, Andre, Cap'n Grakk, Baptiste, and Steve.

And thar they blow, er... go!

Look out for this one. Smokes menthol cigarettes thru his blowhole, drinks rum with clamato, and sings the filthiest sea chanties in triple harmony when he's gotten a couple in him. Word to the wise, he likes setting monkeys (and their close relatives) on fire, and he hates being called a fish...

(Painted these boyos up at a little mini-painting bee at Paul's this weekend. Good fun.)

LL at Paul's: Have fun storming the castle!

Bubbawahey! Another week, another game. Here we go.

So the group was kind of scattered about the landscape around the city of Bridgefair when last we left off. Klint, Gentleman Jack, our henchmen and hirelings, an elf and a spy for Prince Gway (one of the two princes contending for the throne of the kingdom) were in the hills to the East, while The Deacon, Jantz, Kashim, and a quartet of other elves were north of the city.

Well, we all pretty much simultaneously came to the decision that we needed to head west and meet up with Prince Gway, to warn him of the impending hobgoblin invasion of Restenford.

We had two routes we could go, the road to Restenford, which was probably overrun with hobs at some point, or through the Gloomwood, past the hill with a dreadful name I can't remember. It's just a name, like the Death Zone or the Zone of No Return. All the Zones have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror. The elves were kind of bemused when we all said, yeah, sure, bring it on. Gloom wood. Hill of Death. Mangle valley? We eat that stuff for breakfast!

So out we set, although Team B, which I will refer to the team not containing The Deacon, since this is my blog, dammit, had to stop and pick up some vital papers that Roger had stashed on an island south of the city.

So Gentleman Jack went with him, sneaking along the river bank in the dark of night. There he waited, while Gway's agent stripped down and swam across the river. He had a bit of a nervous close encounter as a party of searchers from the town came down the river with torches. Mister Getz made bird noises hoping that it would warn Roger not to come out into the open, and I guess it worked 'cos the patrol went away and Roger returned with a chest he'd unearthed.

Come the morning, we all set out, from separate locations. Luckily, the group with the horses, Team B, had traveled a day in the opposite direction, so timing was right for us to actually meet each other at a fork in the road, rather than the riders shooting past us. All good, and the party wasn't split anymore.

So we kept rolling into an area that got wilder and wilder. We were entering the Gloomwood.

Toward evening time, we rounded a hill that had a ruined castle atop it. This turned out to be too irresistable a lure for the party, so we all went clambering up the hill, horses, cart, and all. Even though we *really* had to be getting along toward Prince Gway's camp. Some of the party cooked up a flimsy justification to go exploring, like maybe the castle contained conclusive evidence of Prince Hank's being switched out with a hobgoblin in his youth. *sigh*

Ah well. The Deacon's kind of given up on persuading the rest of the party to avoid a course of action. I reckon I'll just go with the flow and patch up what remains when it's all over. *sigh*


Anyway, we make our way up the hill. The elves tell us that historically this area was an elven kingdom, until a big war between men and elves pushed them back to Elfhold, where Prince Gway is camping out. And sure enough, the castle has the look of having been laid siege to, with big holes in the walls.

We spot the wreck of a catapault and go to check it out. Kashim, Jantz, and Gentleman Jack ride up, and find some large bones laying next to it. Jack gets down and touches one, and all of a sudden dem bones reassemble into an 18 foot tall undead giant, who picks up another big bone and sets about whaling on the party with it.

The Deacon spurs on his warhorse, Buttercup, and rides up to the fray, strumming his lute to try to turn the monster, but it doesn't take. So a furious melee ensues, with us hacking with our weapons and having our warhorses kick at the thing with their mighty hooves. I think it got in a few good whacks, taking I think Kashim down to zero with a case of cracked ribs. We eventually cracked up its shins enough that it toppled like a felled tree and clattered across the ground. The Deacon used a couple of cure light wounds on Kashim and Frog, I think.

Moving on, we rolled the convoy up to one of the holes in the wall and looked inside. There in the courtyard we saw a large burnt spot with a lot of bones scattered about, as if a big pyre had been made long ago. We sent the wagon and horses around toward the gates, and climbed in thru the hole to check the castle out.

We cross the big pyre area, ready for something bony to pop up, but nothing did. As we went around a corner by the main keep building, though, a couple of bugbears leap through a hole in the wall and charge us. Bugbears are bastards. For those who aren't versed in the lore, they're pretty much big hairy goblins, about seven feet tall and as mean as a hangnail.

So Kashim and Jantz charge 'em and do battle in front of the doors of the keep, with the rest of the group scrumming up behind. Things got even more intense when a couple more of the critters popped out the door behind us, sandwiching us between two groups of two, and with our more vulnerable guys now subject to attack.

I tried to cast Hold Person on the first two, but getting whacked from behind disrupted the spell and I lost it. So I was pissed, and started whaling on 'em with the ol' Mojo Stick. Sadly, it's still not charged up with extra whupass, but it's still got a +1 to hit and damage, so I can dole out a little bit o whackin' with it

It was a quick, vicious fight, with Kashim taking one in the figs from the critical chart, which he was NOT happy about, having just regrown that part of his physiology when he got raised from when he got dissolved by a gelatinous cube. Well, thankfully Amos was able to Cure Light Wounds, although I'd advise him to wash his hand afterward... Ahem...

Anyway, after we dispatched the bugbears, we went into the keep to check it out. We found an entry hall, and proceeded to haul the horses and cart inside, which made for a pretty crowded room, so we pressed on into the hall beyond.

There we found a bunch of chairs spread around, and a couple exits, so we pressed on to the west. I think there we found an empty room with a door that resisted our efforts to open it, being both locked and very sturdy, so there must be something good back there.

To the north, we found an entry to a great hall, probably with a throne if that part of it hadn't been crushed by catapult fire. We searched the south wall for secret doors, but didn't find any. There was a door to the north, so we headed toward it.

There we found a bugbear standing watch. Mercifully, he charged us, rather than raise an alarm, so we got into a brief fight with the bastard. We took him down, but were kinda nervous since our offensive line, namely Kashim, Jantz, and Frog, were lookin' a bit peaked, and we were out of Cure spells. So we rifled the bugbear's pockets, grabbed a sack of copper he had on him, and fell back to the first two rooms, where we barred the door and settled in for the night.

And that was pretty much where we wrapped.

Decent session. Mostly travel and a little dungeon/castle crawling. I guess the reason I didn't protest this diversion from our mission too much is that I find the dungeon crawl stuff plenty of fun, and what the hell. This is a sandbox. Gotta kick at the sandcastles.

Anyway, thanks again to Paul and the 10d gamers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The good Lord made man free, Samuel Colt made 'em equal.

Okay, so I've been following the discussion of science fiction games over at Grognardia and one thing that keeps popping up again and again is something along the lines of "Weapons in science fiction/modern settings are so much more deadly than ancient weapons."

Now, I've got some thoughts about that, and since that's what blogs are for, instead of randomly harassing folks in comments I figure I oughta put this here thing to other uses besides game recounts. So here's a rant/rebuttal/manifesto/what have you.

The thing about firearms is this, their REAL advantage over other ways to inflict most dire and lamentable travail upon thyne fellowe creatures is in ease of use.

The damage done by a bullet is not appreciably greater than getting hacked with a broadsword, it's just that one needs the user to be in good physical condition and well trained to use the sword, while you merely need to be shown how to disengage the safety and pull the trigger with a firearm.

Only someone with a lot of muscle can use a sword or club effectively, which puts such weapons generally in the hands of active, healthy adults, usually male. A ninety year old granny or a nine year old child can wound or kill someone with a gun. (This is a legitimate reason to be concerned about them in real life, and I'll say right now I have no wish to trivialize such things. I'm talking about RPG's though, where "Lead soldiers leave behind no lead widows or lead orphans." as H.G. Wells once said at the dawn of wargaming as a hobby.)

The damage done, however, is largely the same, and you're just as dead or wounded if you get shot as if you get stabbed or slashed with a blade.

Okay, some hypothetical interlocutor might say, what about range? A sword you need to get up close, you can take someone out at 20 paces with a pistol. Well, I just bundle that into ease of use, again.

Think of the damage a longbow can do to someone, at a heck of a lot longer range than most handguns. (Rifles are another matter.)

Again, longbow users, like the famous English longbowmen who made Agincourt such a bloodbath for the French, had to train all the time to just be strong enough to pull the thing. There was a royal decree stating all able bodied men in England had to practice with a longbow. I can't cite so take with a grain of salt, but I recall reading that the top bowmen of the time would develop this super massive gorilla arm on one side of their body, just from practicing with the longbow.

Furthermore, the longbow was only *really* effective in battle when used in big groups, throwing up those hails of arrows the movies seem to have fallen in love with depicting. In other words, a mighty thewed yeoman with a longbow probably has as much chance of putting an arrow through a target as someone with modest training with a gun can put a bullet through it, with similar results.

I guess what I'm reacting to is this assumption that a gun is some kind of alpha weapon, probably fueled by countless films and TV shows, where the hero points it at a mook and the mook is guaranteed to fall screaming over the railing to his final reward in the great stunt man's crash pad in the sky. I think there's also this tendency to assume an evolutionary progression with technology.

I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say most technological innovation does the same thing it's predecessor did, only faster and more easily. A washboard and a bucket of soapy water will get your clothes as clean or cleaner than a washing machine, but you don't have to work as hard to do it. A plane and a horse will both get you from New York to LA, but one takes hours and the other takes months. Etc. Etc.

A brief digression on futuristic weapons leads me around to the same point. If you're going for "plausible", then what you're probably gonna end up with is just more slug thrower type weapons. They've worked for centuries, and there's little reason to stop using them, unless something amazingly better comes along. They'll probably have improvements in targeting, user recognition, lighter materials, and the like, but they're still all about slamming a pebble into a body with enough force to cause massive tissue damage and shock.

If you wanna get more far out, with stuff like blasters and laser weapons, again I submit that being cut in half with a laser (which is probably how it'd kill you. A laser wielder would have to wiggle the beam around to do the tissue damage even a .22 bullet would do.) is about the same crimp on your day as being cut in half by a katana (or even a laser katana, if you're into animé).

Just getting shot gun style with such a weapon would just leave a nice, self cauterized hole in you, without any of the kinetic dumping a slug or sling stone does. Energy weapons might be worth taking seriously if they dumped enough heat into you to cook you, but in that case I'd just treat 'em like a fireball spell or dragon breath and be done with it.

So long story short, a firearm is not more potent at inflicting grievous wounds than a sword, axe, or bohemian ear spoon. It just takes less trouble to do similar amounts of damage. If you can handle a player character taking a blow from a two handed sword and blithely fighting on, then a few shots in the gut with a Colt 1911 shouldn't phase you either. Heck, it works for John Woo...

So if I were putting pistols into a Labyrinth Lord game, for example, I'd probably just give 'em a little bit of stepped damage based on caliber. Say d6 for low caliber (.22 and up), d8 for medium caliber (.38 and up), and d12 for heavy caliber (.45 and magnum loads), and then assign ranges as appropriate.

Most pistols have about a 30-50 ft. range. Long arms probably triple that, and can be much more accurate. There's plenty of resource out there in gaming land about guns and their ranges. (I'd probably tag Palladium system games especially for this. Them dudes love love loved their firearms. All you need is a feet/meters number and you're set, tho.)

Finally, I'd allow any class to use 'em. (If you wanted you could have clerics abstain, but frankly a bullet's about the same as a bludgeoning weapon when you get right down to it. No sharp edges here to get the cleric in dutch with their deity. ) Heck, I'd salt a few pistols in with my monster encounters. Give a Flumph a glock and they're not so ridiculous now, are they?

And that's that, figure out a cost for 'em based on their rarity in the game world and you're done.

(The above section is an attempt to follow Joesky's Rule and add something useful to the rapid fire verbiage. I figure if I can get someone out there to have their wizard pull a heater and pop a cap in some bugbear's hairy @ss, I'll have contributed.)

Think about it, won't you?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

LL at Paul's: Bustin' Out All Over

Whelp. Here we are, once again.

So when last we left our heroes, we'd arranged for Gentleman Jack Getz to getz arrestedz and thrown in the Bridgefair pokey to see if he could find some supporters of Prince Gway, rival of the hard chargin' Prince Hank, so that we could get in touch with him and let him know about a soon to happen invasion of hobgoblins in the sleepy little fishing villiage of Restenford, where we kind of lived.

Now, the plan being kind of half baked, we all sat down and tried to figure out some contingencies. The Warden of the Paladins had promised to remove Gentleman Jack from his cell and dump him in the city's corpse pit (which I guess we've established DOES exist) before he was executed, but the way things were looking, they were probably going to hang our erstwhile thief in the public square before that could happen, so we took stock of what we had and made plans for a rescue.

Fate had placed within our hands a couple of magical rings, one of Animal Control, and one of Water Walking, so we put our heads together and figured out what we could do with those to spring Getz. From what we found out from both casing the area of the city around the jail, and from asking bystanders who were getting their seats early for the hanging, the prisoners would be taken from gaol and lead across a bridge to the public square, where they would then do the hempen jig for everybody. So one thought was to smuggle the water walking ring to him and have him jump off the bridge.

Well, the best way to smuggle something, especially when you have a ring of Animal Control, is to get something like a rat or a pidgeon to do it, so we caught a rat, and the Deacon (almost typed D-con, heh...) ran a little experiment to see how it worked. Apparently, if you envision the animal taking an action, it will undertake that action, according to the way Paul adjudicated it, but there was no way to see how the animal was doing if it was out of sight.

So we ran an experiment where we tied a note to a rat's tail and tried to remote control it into the jail, making it run in, find Jack, wave it's tail at him for like five minutes or so, then scamper back to the Deacon.

The first try we lost the rat, so we rented a room in the Rusty Bucket so that the Deacon could concentrate harder, and tried again. This time, the rat made it through, and the message was passed to Jack, and he sent a message out saying he'd met a Gway supporter and they were gonna try to bust out tomorrow when they were due to be hanged.

Okay, so smuggling a ring in seemed moot. The next thought was to use the rings to assist in an escape. We talked about having a guy down on the river with the Ring of Water Walking, to do... something. We talked about putting the ring on a horse for an unexpected getaway opportunity. (Although how you get a ring on a horse is a whole 'nother area for discussion. We tabled that one.) We then decided the best course was to use the Ring of Animal Control to take control of a horse, hopefully one of the paladin's mounts, and use it as a surprise assailant on the guards, or if there was a cart pulling the condemned to the gallows, and remote control it out of danger.

So we nabbed another rat and sent it in with a note telling Gentleman Jack that if a horse bit him on the right shoulder, he should climb on and hold tight. When that one didn't come back as ordered, we tried again. This one apparently got in, but Getz had to bludgeon a prisoner to death to keep him from eating it, and the note got smudged up. (This all happened at the table, so I as a player know how it went down, but I don't know as The Deacon.) Things are tough when you're in the joint.

So anyhow, the next day rolls around, and the town's turned out for the big hanging. Jack and this other guy Rodger, who's apparently his guy from Gway, get loaded onto a rolling cage/wagon dealy and rolled down the street. We set Klint up on a rooftop, equipped with his Ring of Feather Fall, to snipe if necessary. The Deacon, Kashim, and Jantz the ranger are standing in the crowd on the far side of the bridge. The plan is to take control of the horse drawing the cart, and make it run for the south gate of Bridgefair, where we've got our henchmen Frog and Amos the One Armed Half Elf waiting with all of our mounts.

So the cart sets out, and it's moving slow 'cos of the noisy crowds celebrating another boffo hanging. (Ah, the days before cable TV.) There's a paladin leading the cart, plus 5 guards walking around it. The Deacon concentrates and hacks into the horse's hard drive, taking control of the animal and making it surge forward, although since it's got a big iron cage on wheels it's towing, it isn't really galloping forward like I envisioned it would.

That's when arrows started flying in from the surrounding buildings. This throws the crowd into a panic, and all h e double ten foot poles breaks loose. A bunch of elves uncloak (literally) and appear among the crowd, as one runs up to the back of the cart and starts working on the lock.

Jantz, I guess getting in the spirit of shooting at guys, draws his bow and plants a shaft in the paladin, which enrages him and sends him charging at the three of us. Kashim joins in the fray, and an all out slugfest between two of our guys and a paladin backed up by three guards sparks up at the end of the bridge.

This leaves the Deacon standing by himself scowling and rubbing his temples, since I had to keep concentrating on the horse to keep it moving forward. If I broke concentration, the horse would not be controllable again. Of course, I was scowling and rubbing my temples for other reasons as well, like the sudden involvement of the party in a big brawl in the center of town...

Klint takes a shot at the guard left leading the horse and takes him out, so the cart rolls forward, despite anything anyone aboard wants to do about it. Roger, Gentleman Jack's cell mate, and his elf rescuer are left struggling with the lock on a moving cart, while a furious battle ensues behind them.

After a brutal exchange of blows, Jantz and Kashim are left pretty badly wounded, with Kashim going below 0 and getting broken ribs from the Crit table. They run after the cart and catch on to it, but are assaulted by more guards, and have to let go and keep fighting.

Commanded by the Deacon, the cart keeps trundling forward. The crowd sets up a cheer as it rolls into the public square, but are left kind of confused and disappointed as it just keeps on rolling past the gallows and down the street. Maybe the next one will stop...

Having shot for effect, Klint leapt off the roof and drifts down to the street with his magic ring, then makes his way toward the rendezvous point at the South Gate.

Jantz and Kashim have been left behind, and seem like they're in deep doo doo, but thankfully the elves who'd been in on the other escape plan spot them, drape them in elven cloaks, and hustle them out of the North Gate.

The cart actually makes it out of the South Gate past some inattentive guards and pulls up next to our henchmen and the horses. Klint joins them there, and sets to work picking the lock on the cage as an angry phalanx of attentive guardsmen are headed for the gate. Sadly, Klint didn't manage to open the lock, nor did the elf rescuer who'd held on through the whole wild ride. Finally, Gentleman Jack gave it a go and popped the lock. The group ran for the horses and rode for the hills.

Meanwhile, the Deacon snapped out of his trance casually walked through the crowd for the North Gate. On his way, he saw the stabbed up guards and paladin, and stopped to work some Cure Light Wounds. My take on it is this, thanks to this escape attempt, most of the party would now be persona non grata in Bridgefair, or perhaps any place Prince Hank might hold sway. I figured a dead paladin would put us deeper in dutch, so I healed him to keep any bad blood from getting TOO bad. Admittedly, the paladin warden didn't really come through with helping Jack escape, but it was kind of a loony plan to start with. Long story short, it's too soon to make permanent enemies on one side, so I patched as well as I could.

My good deed done, I sauntered up to the North gate to get the heck out of town. I figured the group would try to head East for the hills, so I made my way in that direction, and through happy chance and happenstance ran into Kashim, Jantz, and the elves.

I'll admit I was a little cheezed at those two for flipping out and going all stabby on the paladins, but Kashim's player pointed out that if they hadn't, the cart probably would have been stopped before it made it to the South Gate, which was where I kinda went tunnel visioned on the plan. I think my main beef with the party's action was that it kind of put them on the wrong side of the law, which is fine to a point if the law are bastards like Prince Hank, but conversely it's gonna make it tough for over half of the party to show their faces in Bridgefair right now. That's why I liked the remote controlled cart scheme. Plausible deniability. You wanna stick it to the man, stick it to him when he's not lookin' so you can stick him again at a time and place of your choosing...

Meanwhile, Frog, Amos, Klint, Gentleman Jack, the one elf, and Rodger, who turned out to have been a spy for Gway, decided to make for Gway's camp, but needed to stop at an island in the river out of town to pick up some important documents that Rodger had concealed.

And that's about where we left it. The party was separated, but we were on parallel paths, heading to Gway's camp. There's a lot of misadventure potential on the way there, though.

All told, a pretty action packed session. I wanna keep this Animal Control ring if I can, 'cos it has a lot of useful potential. We got a little experience for shanking some guards and a paladin, although as a Lawful character I'm not thrilled with getting my XP that way. Still and all, this was a real ripdinger of a session, with action, thrills, crazy plans going awry, and all sorts of tomfoolery. Our plan and the elves' plan were exactly opposite, and I'm sure it was a hoot for Paul to watch both exacting schemes not survive contact with both enemies AND allies. I gotta tip my hat to him for running another awesome, not by the book session of non-dungeon crawling craziness.

Bravo, sir, once again you earn a kudosaurus:
And thanks to the rest of the 10d gamers as well.