Gaming Philosophy

In my games, I have few ironclad rules that I run by. Generally, I only have one that encompasses everything I’ve learned about running games. I post this here because it shapes and forms everything I create for my games.

The Rule of Cool

If a player comes up with something cool, let them do it! Ask for rolls, let them roleplay it out; let them enjoy being their character, rather than just playing a game. Do this often enough, and try to stick to the rules when doing so, and your players will help you run the game, making your life easier. This means learning the heart of this rule: Never Say No.

If a player comes up with something that could be awesome, say, “Yes, but roll this to see if someone notices you.” Keep it fluid and be able to improvise. This is where preparation comes in; you have to be prepared enough to improvise a reaction to the character’s actions. This is where Dungeon Master’s Guides and similar documents come in; hopefully, if the creator hasn’t been stupid, they’ve got advice on how to handle things like this–for example, knowing the averages for ability scores, to-hit rolls, average damage, etc, and using those to make the player’s actions have meaning when they take them.

This is why I love DM Screens, and I hate that 5e’s won’t be out until March 2015.

D&D 5e’s Printing & Binding Issues

I’ve been hearing from different places that the Player’s Handbook released a few months previously has started falling apart for some people–the binding of the spine is, apparently, releasing pages. I’ve done some looking around, and found that WotC is nice enough to offer the possibility of replacement.

So, if some of you find themselves in this position, go to this link. Keep in mind, though, that it only goes for 5e books that are falling apart because of printing issues, rather than hard use.

The Woes of Conversion Between Systems

At the moment, my main group is going to be starting the Pathfinder Adventure Path Rise of the Runelords, a truly well done campaign that stretches from 1st level all the way towards end game–at least using Pathfinder’s rule system. However, my group and I decided long ago that Pathfinder–and, by extension, 3.5–was too slow and unwieldy for our purposes. The largest reason for this is that we get only four hour sessions every other week to play, and a game that runs faster means we get much more done, and, therefore, have more fun.

Of course, Pathfinder has several other reasons for not being used, not the least of which is game entry; getting into Pathfinder is difficult, especially for my group of friends. One has a child and a wife, one commutes three hours to work every day, the other is a full time student, and little old me has to keep up with work and family along with planning the campaign. Learning a complicated system like Pathfinder this late in the game would just involve too much frustration, which is the opposite of what we wanted. Pathfinder does have the advantage in that it can be run theater of the mind, but, like 3.5, it is difficult to do so, if not impossible–like Fourth Edition, it almost requires a battle mat and miniatures of one sort or another.

Disregarding minis and battlemats, Fourth Edition has the same sort of problem; it is somewhat alleviated by the fact that Fourth Edition–at least in my opinion–plays better than Pathfinder/3.5. Not any faster, of course, but at least there’s a functional character builder for Fourth Edition to ease the transition into the new game.

The group began life as a single-session Shadowrun game, of the Fourth Edition variety. It was…interesting, but then the Gamemaster at the time bugged out on us, and we were left without a game to play. Previously, before moving to that city, I had been playing in an Exalted 2nd Edition game, and offered to run one of those games. They jumped at the chance, and so we began one almost immediately. This became a very sweet spot for the group, allowing the awesomeness of roleplay and combat to come to the fore, without the players worrying too much about mechanics–of course, Exalted puts the onus of the mechanics on the Storyteller, and so that made my life hell for a little while.

After two games of Exalted, I burnt out on the game. Its just too complicated–much slower, for reference, than Fourth Edition D&D; combats usually take over an hour to complete, each. One of my players, though, suggested Fourth Edition D&D, which I’d always been interested in, but never ran. So, I tried it out, making a somewhat shoddy but mildly entertaining Dark Sun campaign (hopefully, once Psionics become a thing for D&D5e, I’ll be able to make this campaign into an adventure path, but that will most likely be something for the near to far future). The Dark Sun campaign was entertaining; I found myself, however, somewhat stagnant for ideas for the details of the campaign–in truth, I got bored, because I discovered R.A. Salvatore’s The Legend of Drizzt novels, and delved into the lore of Forgotten Realms.

That didn’t turn out so well.

The Forgotten Realms game I did ran about two sessions before I gave up, bereft of ideas. Looking around on the internet, I discovered a summary of Rise of the Runelords, and immediately wanted to run it. It was awesomely written, entertaining, and complete. This led to the discovery of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths as a whole, and the discovery that my bank account hates me, because I bought most of them on PDFs. Well worth it, though.

At this point, though, came the conundrum–we, as a group, can’t pick up Pathfinder, since none of us wanted to use such a clunky system. The same was said of Fourth Edition, although that was less of a demon than Pathfinder’s system was. Then, of course, Fifth Edition D&D came out, and one of my players purchased the Starter Set, and requested to run it, both to give me a break, and to help us all learn the rules and see if it was something that we wanted to try out for a further basis.

It turned out wonderfully, too. The Lost Mines of Phandelver was a well written adventure–unfortunately short, and left hanging in a lot of different ways, but still a stirring, enjoyable adventure to fifth level. One of my projects is to continue the plotline of the Lost Mines of Phandelver, and flesh it out all the way to level 20 or so as a full campaign. The thought came, though, while we were playing Fifth Edition: why not use Fifth Edition for Rise of the Runelords? The levels of characters are the same, after all, and the system is very easy to use.

This, on the other hand, has turned out amazing.

The conversion is difficult. Making monsters to match up requires a decent bit of work, given the amount of encounters throughout the campaign. I am eternally indebted to Surfarcher and his blog, for his Monster Analysis has given me much help in making individual monsters for use in the campaign, as will be posted below as I go along in the conversion.

I’ll be breaking up the Chapters into Parts, and posting them separately to keep it all organized, as much as possible. I will also endeavor to, eventually, put the information into a downloadable PDF for those that wish to possess one. I’ve learned that converting single adventures is, itself, an adventure, and like the idea of being someone’s guide.

Stay tuned for Chapter One of Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings.

First Post?

So. Started a blog. What the hell am I supposed to do with it?

I suppose, if I’m honest with myself, that hardly anyone will care to read it, and those that do read it–beyond my inner circle of friends–will not particularly care about what I say on here. Suffice it to say, though, that doesn’t really matter much to me. I look at this blog as an outlet for my writing, creativity, and, well, whatever else happens to fall out of my brain.

Most posts will be about Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Exalted, Stars Without Number–gaming in general, really–and writing, both creative writing and writing for the above games. How much I get done really depends on how much time I have available, but I’ll at least post something every couple of weeks. Currently, my projects range from a sci-fi novel, conversion of a few Pathfinder Adventure Paths to D&D 5e, creation of a few Adventure Paths of my own, and a few other miscellaneous things that catch my fancy. I’ll probably keep adding projects, as well, and abandoning others as my tastes and availability change over time.

I suppose, also, I should explain the name of the blog. It is an inside joke and reference to a few D&D games my friends and I played over the past few years. In every game, there is at least once where one player goes carousing, and, through bad luck, rolls an unlucky number 13. In the carousing rules we used at the time, number 13 happened to be the character in question attempting to chat up a witch whose business is her own, and being turned into a pig for an indefinite amount of time for his trouble. This happened not once, not twice, not even three times; the same player managed to get himself turned into a pig four times in four different games, with four different characters. The legend of the witch has taken on a life of it’s own now, and she makes an appearance every game we play in, and no matter the setting, it’s the same witch, hopping into her own version of the TARDIS and being in the right place at the right time to turn the same character into a pig, because he invariably always rolls a 13 when he goes carousing.

That’s all for now, as I can’t really think of anything else inane to say. Cheers.

Coming Up Soon*:

  • In depth review of D&D’s new edition.
  • The woes of converting between rules systems.
  • Custom D&D content.

*Not necessarily in this order.