Monday, August 26, 2013

Life of Pi - A Review of the Movie

I watched the movie last night with my wife.  Instantly I was transported into a surreal environment of professors, zoos, kids, dancing and India amid a backdrop of a well laid out narrative. For those of you who do not know, the Life of Pi is a story about a young Indian teenager named Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel)  as he is shipwrecked and laid adrift on a lifeboat. He is not in the adventure alone, he has a Grants Zebra, an Orangutan, a Spotted Hyena and later we find out that he also has a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

This movie is based off of so much fact but interwoven with a beautiful narrative that leaves the watcher (and I imagine the reader) in a beautiful but deadly world of survival. The story itself is a story of survival but also of personal loss and grief. As Pi says in the movie "I will tell you a story that will make you believe in God."

It does just that.

For a Christian gamer with a love of faith, metaphor and moral stories this one blew me away. #mindblown!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Starwatchers of Mourn - Chance Meeting

Starwatchers of Mourn - 22-23 Redwolf 3122- "Chance Meeting"

Black Lantern Dymariti Strongbow Reporting

The Mission
Behind them the smoldering house began to collapse and sirens went up around the area signaling fire brigades and the queue for the party to vacate.  As they left the burning manor house of Hoyden the party decided to take the long way back to The Emerald Club. Along the way they realized that they were being followed. As they turned a corner Kerris and Veetha decided to attempt to talk to their pursuers. 

Would it turn into a bloodbath or would the players be able to keep their wits against their would-be attackers?

After Action Report
Suddenly very aware that their pursuers were the large werewolf and a female werewolf the party decided that speaking to them would be a better course of action perhaps than fighting. "Hello?" They asked the rather large Olaran-looking man "Hello." he replied tersely "Have you seen my brother Hoyden?" Making a persuasion check they convinced the man that they had not seen him for some time. As the conversation turned to the responsibilities of the lower classes Kerris let slip "Some people just do not know their place my lord." to which Orag Yantar and his cousin were both very pleased.

They chatted up the pair for a time and even learned that they were only in town for a short time as the moon was getting full soon. Orag even offered that the party should be careful that they are not out too late the following day as it would be a difficult time for any that weren't already Shiehkehm.

Leaving the scene without a battle the party was well rewarded by me with benes.  They made it to Mal's father's alchemy shop wherein they were sat down and each given the opportunity to fight against the darkness. All of the party members chose to fight and decided that they could make a difference.

The rest of the game was spent making plans and visiting the Emerald Club and a place off Forlorn and Stone Ave. street called The Goldensquire Grogshop. Seeking information about the Red Store merchant and the would be location of their next meeting the party made plans for the following night which was to be a full night indeed.
Mal's Place

Important NPCs Encountered

Orag Yantar - A red-haired Olaran who appears to have been adopted into the Yantar family. The players believe that Orag is a werewolf. The truth may be much more frightening. Orag took a liking to the platitudes of Kerris but the future is not set in stone as to if he will prove to be ally or foe.

Goldensquire Grogshop

The Emerald Club

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Al Qadim - Aboard the Tiger's Eye - Day One

The adventuring group named themselves "The Society of the Sands" and took on the challenge to become the Pearl Champions. In so doing they hired the Xebec the Tiger's Eye under Capt Ali Black. The party spent some time in town purchasing needed goods and trading used and salvaged equipment and weapons from the field. The highlight of the evening was the end of the day when the lookouts of the crew spotted flotsam floating nearby the ship and a rowboat was dispatched to investigate. The rowboat was led by Tommy's character a half orc fighter.

I made them row the boat. For each success over 10 they got I moved them another square. The scale was one square is about 10 feet for the larger map and one square is 5 feet for the miniatures map.

On the way they encountered blue sharks. When one attacked because Red Claw put his hand in the water Red Claw decided he wanted to bite the shark. He critically hit the shark and bit the crap out of it! The shark was then torn apart by its compatriots in a frenzy.

As they approached the ship they detected that it had indeed been caught on the rocks and had been torn in half. The ship's cargo, gold, and crew lay scattered around the ship with a large pile of skeletons decorating the side of the rock and floating almost piled together in the water. Several massive tiger sharks and tens of black tip reef sharks surrounded the waters beneath the wreck. This would not be easy.

Carefully maneuvering their rowboat into position while the five crew that accompanied them shot into the water to distract the sharks the party successfully tied off the boat to the front of the ship. Then the acrobatics and climbing checks began as they attempted to scale the ropes and crawl onto the ship's deck. A surprise was waiting for them as the ship listed toward the direction they climbed as they reached the top and only because of their own dexterity and acrobatics were they able to hold onto the ship without falling into the drink.

The sharks liked the activity on the ship and responded to the dripping of coins into the water as the party members scraped piles of coin onto their rowboat and into the waiting jaws of the sharks beneath.

As the monk Red Claw swims toward the treasure chest balanced precociously at the stern of the ship several decks away and as Fishknife leaps from deck to deck in search of the gems on the rock we leave our group of heroes until next time... Suddenly the entire bulk of skeletons shift over several feet as if something massive had moved them. Everyone is deathly quiet as they wait and pray that it was just the current...

Once again we used my projector setup. I am really enjoying this setup! I played the Final Fantasy theme as they scored a victory by biting a shark. "I bite the shark" not something I have ever heard before! Then I played Jaws theme as they went around the ship trying to scrounge treasure.

With the exception of the one boat map above I pulled everything else as needed from Roll20. I used Roll20 in the window and moved browsers and photos over it as necessary. IT gaming rocks!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Skulls and Shackles - Wormwood Mutiny Day One

We had our first game of Skulls and Shackles Tuesday. The players all seemed to enjoy the change in pace. The game itself isn't a 'good' campaign but neither is it a 'bad' campaign. I am running it allowing any core race and any alignment but with the restriction that there are no archetypes allowed for this game. This will help me figure out how the other classes work. Funny that many people ended up taking fighter but I doubt that they will single class.

Overall I very much enjoy the sandbox feel to the game with the linear module place in terms of "days". We played through Day One which involves some very interesting developments that are designed to show the players not to screw around with the captain of the ship.

The players were able to influence some of the npc crew but none of them were friendly on the first day. A darker atmosphere than they were used to made them rethink some of their strategies.

They were all pressed into service and are now considered part of the crew. For the first day they spent time learning to be a pirate and learning of the consequences of failure. Luckily no one failed their job the first day thanks to the shipboard actions built right into the ship they were able to gain an additional +4 to their job duty roll for the day if they decided to 'work diligently'. I like the pacing of the module and I think that we will very much enjoy it. I will keep everyone updated as to our progress and yes there will be spoilers though I will hide them as best as I am able.

Cast of Characters
Melanie Adams
Alliah Morning Tide
Human  (Axe Clan)
Rob Hall
Justin Quickblade
Human (Absalom)
Jaz Hall
BlueRose De Ravenslost
Human (Absalom)
Jessica Hollis
Andrik Dell
Human (Mwangi)
Dan Hollis
Chandra Dell
Human (Mwangi)
Don Karr

Human (Tian)
Eric Vandehene
Gnome (Shackles)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Eternity Puzzle - The Singing Temple

We decided to keep playing Steampunk Dragonlance so I decided to use my Eternity Puzzle campaign I devised. The premise is that holes have opened in all the spheres including those that were closed like Krynn and Athas. This has allowed the great events that have been taking place with worlds colliding between my different campaigns.

The first story of the Chronicles of the Six and the World Stone led into Superdungeon and these other games. Now it seems they are all linked to each other by the cracking of the spheres acd twisting of time.

The party left Kyrnn and landed on Lunatari. The red moon. They visited The Singing Temple and learned from Lubataris avatar that they needed to find the 17 pieces of the Eternity Puzzle to close the gaps in eternity.

The Eternity Puzzle will be a collection of modules from Planescape, Spelljammer, OSG dnd like Tomb of Horrors etc. A complete listing is in the earlier thread. (will link later as I am on my phone posting).

We used the projection setup with Roll20. I loaded two sessions. One was as GM and that I kept on my screen. The second was a player session which I drug out over the projector and used. The great thing about the projector using the players screen is I could reveal the map as they explored.


The temple was protected by magma fountains that they got around using walls of ice. Exploring the temple of black walls and red veined bloodstone the echo of voices chanting reverberated throughout the rooms. Entering the Eternal Feasthall thet met Lunatari.

We spent much of the night learning how to maneuver the Shenandoah through the Phlogstin using the helm.

I look forward to this mashup of modules and systems in a steampunk spelljammer setting with Dragons.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Al Qadim - Capt Black

This last Tuesday the Al Qadim party met Capt Black Tuesday. Capt Black liked the group. They agreed that they should sail with him to Elephant Island to get the Legendary Treasure so they could become Pearl Champions. Later that night they were attacked at the Inn only they weren't at that Inn. The players did the old switcharoo when they figured they were being tailed and it resulted in very surprised press gang from the Sun Trader's Guild who had been keeping an eye on the party ever since they arrived in Gana. A very surprised Sun Trader's Guild aided by Illusionists which summoned forth illusionary golems made of anchor chain. Twas a good game and it's getting me in the pirate persona! Fun was had by all!

Highlights of the game were the deadly arrows fired from the fourth floor of the Inn, the magic of the Bard and her ability to boost the party, taunting by Hassim and Fishknife's use of the shadowy power to knock out one of the members of the Sun Trader's Guild for questioning. Capt Black and Rosario's crew aided with their own crossbows and a ballista bolt that skewered one of the press gangers. The nearby town guard and patrons were so outnumbered however that the Inn smoldered even as the battle raged on. I am sensing a theme. Maybe I am attracting would-be pyromaniac adventurers?

Starwatchers of Mourn - A Choice

Starwatchers of Mourn - 22 Redwolf 3122- "A Choice"

The title of this game's session was chosen because I put the players in a difficult place by showing them the 'norm for Shaya'Nor right out of the gate. The players had a choice and they chose to stand against the Darkness when no one else would. This is going to be an epic game!

Black Lantern Dymariti Strongbow Reporting

The Mission
On the cold foggy street that bears the name Desperation our heroes meet for the first time in a place frequented by both undead and living servants of darkness. It is here, under the very noses of the masters in a place called The Emerald Club, that members of the Starwatchers meet and make plans - for who would suspect that anyone would be so brave and foolish enough to cross the Ordakeim?

Mal Gryx, an initiate member of the Starwatchers of Mourn met with Waverly Skyye to discuss the possibilities of new Red Store movement near a small hamlet just outside of Ironwood about two days north West of Mourn. Mal's mission was to recruit a band of like-minded heroes and gather intelligence for the Starwatchers.

After Action Report
Mal Gryx, a goblin alchemist adept and initiate of the Starwatchers and his companion Kerris Thaal, an adept from the southern lands met with Waverly Skyye of the Starwatchers of Mourn and were given the mission.

Veetha Kai a Shayakar who is running from his past was to meet with a Dwarven noble, Rallidon Fyforg and to discuss plans of their own.

Jarvis Riley, a man trained in the arts of dueling and a fencer of high skill watched the exchange from a seat with increasing interest.

The Emerald Club was fairly full with patrons and three in particular a NightGuard and Hairy Olaran sat together keenly watching one of the prettier barmaids as she bustled around with her long blond pleated hair and charming smile. They watched with ever increasing hunger.

Once pointed out that they believed that one was a vampire the man Waverly and several others around the club left discretely.

Rallidon was surprised by the sudden appearance of Veetha and Wayverly bumped into Aerin, an Alakar archer on his haste to leave the bar. "They may need your help in there friend." Waverly offered to Aerin. "They could use a scout." Aerin and Waverly exchanged pleasantries and Aerin entered the club.

The heroes discussed the mission as Mal recruited the entire party once he noticed their obvious dislike in the vampire and werewolf. The werewolf and vampire, however, had other plans.

Once the heroes left they heard a scream inside. From the corner of the window they saw as the vampire, moving faster than liquid light, grabbed the woman and shoved her to the floor. Then both beasts leaped on her and gourged themselves. The party looked on in horror and disbelief at the scene. The vampire, Hoyden, reached into his jacket pocket even as he was wiping blood from his face and tossed several coins on the table in front of the owner of the Bar. "That's for her." He smiled. "She was enjoyable." The man griped his fists and moved to grab something behind the table his friends stopped him from acting outward against the vampire. "Good day. We will return."

Then they left. Veetha decided to trail them and stealthy followed them until they arrived at an old wooden dilapidated house. Veetha snuck inside while the large red haired werewolf kept walking to wherever he was going.

Meanwhile back at the Club the party raced back inside and quickly ran to see if they could do anything to help poor Natalie. Mal produced a potion and forced it down her throat while the rest of the group attempted to make her comfortable.

Natalie looked up through tear filled eyes and uttered the lonely word "Why?" before coughing and saying "Did you save me?" She looked helpless. Ian, her father, ran right up next to the heroes thanking them and motioning for the workers in the bar to close the shutters and lock the door. "No one leaves." he said, "until we can sort this out."

The patrons watched some very interested and some with obvious disdain. "Well, what are we supposed to do now?" One of the patrons asked Ian. "Ian looked at his daughter, her blood pooled behind her on the ground and then at the heroes who had just saved her. "We're going to fight." He looked at the heroes. "Please."

The heroes bolted out the door and quickly found Veetha. A battle ensued in which the powers of darkness abandonded Hoyden when he smashed his BlackIron sword into pieces missing Veetha and the Light shone in the room as arrows flew true and darkness seemed to be pushed back.

Rallidon's axe was brought to bear against the shadowy NightGuard but his armor and shadowy deflection field saved him from many a well placed dwarven attack. Kerris and Jarvis fought bravely against an obviously superior foe and Veetha's stealthy approach behind Velaris showed that together as a team they could push back the darkness.

The battle in the house quickly moved outside as the vampire and his NightGuard ally retreated through a wall. The party followed continuing their attack while Veetha, ready to take a leap of faith after examining the wall, rushed through the wall to follow the pair. Once passing through the wall Veetha could see the illusion all around Mourn. The buildings, many of them, were just as old and weather-beaten as the one he was currently leaving. Then it all changed back and he was once again face to face with a vampire and Nightguard.

Mal produced a portion of light and smashed in near the pair to temporary blind Velaris while Hoyden shielded himself as best as he could as his skin burned from the brilliant blast of light. "Light!" he cried as the heroes moved even closer to threaten him.

Working together Rallidon, Mal and Veetha kept Velaris outnumbered while Jarvis came from behind and slashed at Velaris' neck with his sabre. Once the final blow had been struck and Velaris could cast no more bolts as he lay on the ground dying, the heroes gave mercy to the guardsman where he had shown none and a swift death was delivered.

As they looked at the battlefield and the smoking manor house that they had just set on fire, the heroes wondered when next their paths would cross with Hoyden Yantar and the Darkness of Mourn.

In Mourn, the small amount of light that radiated from the house was not seen by many but those that did see the light, those few members of the Starwatchers of Mourn, know that one day - The Light Will Return!

Important NPCs Encountered
Waverly Skyye - Mal's contact with the Starwatchers of Mourn. Waverly is nearly in his sixties who speaks very matter-of-factly with the heroes about their chances of survival. Life in the grim lands of Shaya'Nor has made Waverly a man of subtle action but his good heart has led him into trouble on more than one occasion. Waverly walks with a limp but is always pleasant in even the most dire circumstance. Waverly is jaded by the darkness but hopes that the Light Will Return!

Hoyden Yantar - A newly made human vampire. The players encountered Hoyden and his brother, a newly recruited member of the NightGuard while in The Emerald Club. They watched as Hoyden and his companion werewolf friend gouged themselves on the blood of Ian's daughter Natalie. The full power of the vampire was revealed during a battle with the heroes in which Hoyden was nailed by a well-placed arrow shot by Aerin which slammed into his heart and he was not destroyed. Hoyden escaped when Vianar smiled upon him and he quickly left the burning house before the heroes could catch him.

Orag Yantar - A red-haired Olaran who appears to have been adopted into the Yantar family. The players believe that Orag is a werewolf. The truth may be much more frightening. Orag did not see Veetha following them and as a result was not in the final battle between the heroes and Hoyden.

Velaris - A Shayakar NightGuard who was assigned to protect Hoyden. Velaris was defeated at the end of the session by the heroes.

Ian and Natalie - The owner and his daughter of The Emerald Club. The heroes saved Natalie's life and kept her from turning by giving her life giving potions. Ian will forever be in their debt.

Onlookers - When the heroes saved Natalie from bleeding to death even though the blood price was paid by Hoyden and his friend the people in the Inn were confused by the benevolent nature of the heroes. Some joined in to help even though they obviously wrestled with the idea of defying the Masters. In the end, the heroes made a serious impact on the patrons.