New Year, New Projects

I think this is the longest I have ever gone without posting on the blog, excepting when I was plugged into hospital machines but I try to forget that bit. Every time I have thought about writing a post, there has been some new article from either Hurin or Brian.

I am also in a period where I haven’t played so much Rolemaster since I left home in 1985. After years of resisting online play my group has gone Fantasy Grounds crazy with two games a week now, Tuesdays and Fridays.

I used to have months to prep sessions, and that is cut down to days, and FG combats are so fast to adjudicate that where I would allot an hour for a battle previously, they now take twenty minutes at most. A fight last week ran to twelve rounds, three characters against a sea serpent. The beast was hard to kill because it was ignoring many criticals and effects. Twelve rounds with four combatants, including area of effect attacks was done and dusted in twenty minutes.

New Project #1 Sabre Lake

I saw a map recently by Dyson Logos.

It appeared so rich in adventure locations that I wanted to detail it all and run exploring the region for my players. They are on route there at the moment, but as they are first level, and only on their second adventure, they will have a few side quests along the way.

What I am doing is chopping this map into smaller blocks, the first is a rectangle that covers The Fool’s Rush Inn to Hebrek’s Tower. I am then detailing the adventure locations, both for my own players, but also in the fanzine.

I detailed both the inn and the tower, this month (Issue #45) but left some areas undetailed to give other GMs places to put their own ideas.

In February I will detail the Violet Obelisk and the Dench Estate.

Over the rest of the year I am going to try and cover the entire river valley.

All the adventures will only use the monsters from Creatures & Treasures I and Creatures & Monsters. This means that they adventures will be playable in all versions of RM, including RMu.

Project #2 Pilot RPG

I did start this in December, but then stalled. It is my definite intention to get this written and published as a public beta in the first half of 2021.

I am also tempted to try my hand at a Kickstarter. So I will write the first draft, then use KS funds to add a level of professional polish to the finished game.

As with Navigator RPG the game will be in print and as PDF. Putting the two together will give the community a community content/OGL rulebase for both Sci-Fi and fantasy that is broadly RM compatible.

I will then talk to OneBookShelf/DriveThruRPG about setting up a Community Content Programme.

This project will in all likelihood take up most of 2021, but it will also be a really interesting learning experience.

Like Busses, 4 come along

My group has really got the Fantasy Grounds bug. It started with my running a game, then one of the other regular GMs started his game, so I get to play a Monk in that one.

On Friday, our Shadow World GM starts his game. I have created a Druid for that game. I will be serving the role of group healer, so I will be trying to pick up those closed channeling healing lists. At first level I have Druidstaff and Concussion Ways as lists.

One of the other players is just starting to come up to speed with FG as well. I have not played in a game run by this GM since Bushido was a new game. I think it must have been around 1987, maybe 88? I really have no idea what to expect.

So Many New Characters

I have never needed to create so many new characters before. What is particularly interesting is that this is the first time that I have played a profession that is not in the Character Law, I am referring to my new Druid.

All my characters up until now have been in the core books. I never felt that the professions in the companions added any value to the game.

Sure, new spell lists are nice, but you could collapse the new spell lists into the existing professions. Do you need a thief, rogue and burglar?

I broke that duck in this game because I know that the game will be a lot of hack and slash, and I like to be useful outside of combat, and I like playing the party healer. The Druid gives me access to the healing lists, they are one of the most aggressive spell casters in the game, and they are great in the wilderness.

They are also very self reliant. The druid staff gives you that starting magic weapon, stone mastery gives pretty powerful ranged magical attacks starting at just 5th level (basic ranged attacks are a first level spell).

It is that self reliance that I find attractive for this character. I don’t know Shadow World very well, I don’t know what the GM has in store for us, and I don’t know who else will be in the party. I am hoping that I will be able to fit into a role whatever the campaign brings.

A March of Monks

I have mentioned a few times that our group has multiple GMs. Last night I got to play a character in one of the other GM’s RMC game.

It was the first session of the campaign, running on Fantasy Grounds.

We bought the new Companion One for FG this week and at least two of the characters were built using that.

The party is comprised of a rogue, lay healer, paladin, high warrior monk and my character a ‘normal’ monk.

The high warrior monk and paladin are both companion one professions.

The first thing that was striking was how high the stat bonuses get for characters built using the Skill at Arms and Skill at Magic background options.

One of the curious things, and it was really apparant starting again at first level, was the difference between a starting arms user, the high warrior monk, and the a semi spell user, my monk.

One had an OB of +66 compared to my +21. The HWM had bought Rank 1 and Rank 2 martial arts. I could only afford Rank 1.

The gulf between us is of course that I am investing in magic, the HWM is a pure arms profession. I fully expect to be in the HWM’s shadow for about the first five levels. After that I expect the diminishing returns to start kicking in for the HWM and I my magic to start becoming more useful.

In last night’s session we had two combats vs goblins. In the first fight I got almost taken out in the first round. I went from 26hits to 2hits in a single hit by a goblin arrow. Our lay healer gave me some herbs which helped somewhat and I did get to rejoin the fight for the last combat round.

In the second combat, almost exactly the same thing happened to the high warrior monk.

We are both running around in AT1, if someone lands a blow on us, we don’t have the hits to absorb the damage. My defence is largely going to be built around Adrenal Defence, but that is no good to you when surprised. I will also improve my ability to self-heal, but that is limited to Flow Stop 1 at the moment.

Last night we got ambushed when the path went through the woods, which we did survive, but far from unscathed. We met some farmers who complained about the amount of goblin activity and point us to an old ruin of a keep. We found the keep without getting lost, by no means certain given our skill level, and ran into some goblin lookouts.

That fight went much better for us, only some light wounds. The HWM took the brunt of it and that was just concussion damage and stunned. No broken bones or anything nasty.

In the next session we are going to press on and explore what looks like a dungeon level below the keep.

Session 2 and a litany of failures

Last night’s game was not very successful.

The first fail was when I set up the Line of Sight on one of the maps I had left a small gap around one of the alcoves. When a character stepped into the alcove they could see across to a ‘secret’ area. This was an area that I did not intend to use in the adventure, and had blocked off using the wall tool in Fantasy Grounds.

The player immediately told me that there was a problem and they could see more of the map than he should be able to.

So that was a failure in preparation. My fault.

That disclosure that they could see another area had an instant effect on the other players. They were three levels down into a temple and had not checked for a secret door at all in all that time. All of a sudden they were checking every wall. Because the players thought they knew something was there, they couldn’t resist searching for it. The more detailed their searching, the more detail I gave them. The more details they got, the more convinced there had to be something significant about the damp patch on the plasterwork, or a section of bricks that looked like it had be repaired at some point.

If they had had a hammer or a pickaxe, they would have started exhuming 40 year old bodies.

Meta gaming, tsk, bad players.

I did find that about 60% of the entire talk amongst the players was directly about their tokens on the map, where to move them to, where not to move them, trying to step their characters forward to get maximum line of sight. This part was particularly tedious.

The players seem to like the map, but they are dyed in the wool wargamers, they do love a battle map. It is just a pity that I think they really spoil a game.

I am going to try and wean them off of maps. I am not adverse to imagery. I am going to try and give them a flow of pictures of what buildings and places or beasties look like, and try and tone down the map use. Not sure how that will work out.

What I am thinking is to not make maps of the entire place, do that by theatre of the mind. But when they enter combat then give them a battle map so they can use the ranges and positioning.

Finally, something went very wrong with my Fantasy Grounds set up last night. Clicking on the prepared encounters would not open them. I had to try and recreate the encounters in real time, not ideal. Once I had done that, there was definitely something wrong as I could not roll any attacks for the foes. The player rolls worked just fine, but the foe rolls did not register. I didn’t notice for two rounds as the foes were closing the distance and the players used missile weapons.

That glitch effectively ended the session. It was then pooling our limited knowledge of FG to try and work out what went wrong.

All in all, not the best session.

Session 1, for real this time

Tuesday night was the first proper Rolemaster session I have run. I was prepared or it to be either a one-shot that degenerated into a learning experience, and prepared for it to be the start of a campaign.

The opening adventure was Creatures of the Night. It didn’t go strictly to plan, the first thing the characters did when the murders started was try to use the church tower to get an overview of the town.

Leaping from plot hook to showdown without passing through the adventure.

I set up my adventure using a story panel, to get what I imagined would be the general progression.

Of course, no plan is ever going to survive first contact with a player character party.

I am a fan of the story element. It made it very easy to just to the right place in my notes when they bypassed most of it and jumped to the church.

The “Church Horror” encounter was with the Gargoyle. That was one 5th level beastie against three first level characters, two fighters and a thief.

That fight was touch and go for a while. The three against one odds was the main deciding factor. One character was down to half a dozen hits, and bleeding at the end.

They have yet to explore the crypt, if they even bother.

That is probably where they will end up. There are more people who have disappeared than have been accounted for by the remains found with the gargoyle.

Two of the missing bodies are in the crypt, just waiting to be released. This is part of a side plot that they haven’t discovered yet.

So, at the end of the first real session, no one died, they all gained some experience and one mystery has been solved. Not a bad evening.

RolemasterBlog Fanzine & More…

I uploaded the 44th issue of the Rolemaster blog fanzine yesterday (Sunday 6th). I am not sure how or why, but I seem to have settling on the 6th of the month as release day for it each month. I suspect that without a deadline it simply would not get done.

While I was in adventuring mode, the fanzine contains two adventures this month, I also wrote my next 50in50 adventure. I have passed that to Egdcltd/Adrian for his editing and battlemap making.

The 50in50 is going slower this time. First time around we were banging things out weekly right up until near the end. This time it is more like two a month, and 50 in 100 sounds a bit sad.

There was no way that anyone could have played everything the first time around in 50 weeks, we wrote just too much material. The supplements this time are slightly longer. I have been leaning towards short adventures or situation that would take one or two sessions to complete, possibly more.

You can tell by the cover that these adventures are not city/urban adventures for a change! I also think that they are ideal for characters at above 6th level.

FGU and Getting Going

So, after last week’s problems we had a much more successful session using Fantasy Grounds Unity.

My group has pretty much settled on Tuesday nights being game night. We all had characters now, and the group ran into a band of five goblins, two hobgoblins, and a goblin chieftain.

The fight was fairly bloody, on both sides. Somehow the players all forgot about the need to parry, or even to move.

Out numbered, and out gunned the result was fairly predictable.

I am hoping that it was because it was all new, but the game session did end up focussing on the map and tokens than on any roleplaying. This is what happened when I played in a 5e game online as well.

The good thing is, even the players said that it was very wargamey or boardgamish.

I want to run something more theatre of the mind next time.

Things I liked was the line of sight in Fantasy Grounds Unity maps, and I like the character creation.

What I found difficult was that there was a massive lag between someone rolling an attack, and the Tabler Resolver appearing and showing the right attack table.

I am not sure if I can bypass that. I don’t know how to add damage to a foe, and the conditions. I would still like to use the condensed combat system by hand, but I am not sure if that is going to be possible.

I have read online that FGU is still being optimised, so I am hoping it wall become more responsive over time. I don’t really want to buy a new laptop just to run FGU.

The other alternative is to let someone else GM. Wouldn’t that be a shame, if I only got to play 😉

As part of my practice and learning I have been making quite a few characters. I cannot decide which I want to play. I am hovering between an Illusionist and a Mentalist. I am also considering building a monk tomorrow and seeing how he turns out.

Fantasy Grounds Unity up and running

After last week’s hiccup, I have managed to track down the source of my problem using FG Classic. It turns out that my Satellite broadband provider closes all ports on inbound traffic, unless you pay for their premium services.

Having spent days trying to figure out why port forwarding would not work, reading hundreds of forum posts and guides, it did turn up on a forum that this was the root cause. I sent off an email and got a sales message back about upgrading.

The other alternative was to upgrade to Unity, and run a cloud hosted game.

I bought unity, and the RMC package at the same time, and I got an upgrade discount, so that is not bad.

We had a session on Wednesday evening and made some characters, played around with sharing maps and moving tokens around.

My experience with FG was all Classic, I think I am going to have to rerun some of the FG College videos just to come up to speed.

Now, I am spending time just making characters, which I will be able to utilise as NPCs, and just becoming more comfortable with character creation.

In the next week or two, I would like to get to the point of running a short adventure for my old face to face group.

My only concern is that when I have played, not GMed, online games have degenerated into almost table top battles, everyone more concerned about pawing over the map and positions. The actual roleplaying seemed to take a back seat after a while.

That was the main reason why I was not a fan of online playing.

Hopefully, if we are on our guard against it, it will not be such a problem.

New Age!

My face to face group is finally coming around to using Fantasy Grounds. I have played in Fantasy Grounds games in the past, but was not massively impressed, I find the roleplay element became stilted and the maps and tokens took a lot of peoples attention. In many ways it started to resemble a table top wargame or board game, and not an RPG.

Our group is not going to get together any time soon. Fanasy Gounds is going to get another outing.

If anyone is running games on the platform, I could do with some assistance. As I say, I can join other people’s games but I cannot get the Port Forwarding to work to be able to be able to host a game.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it is because I am using wifi extenders, and I need to configure the port forwarding on these as well as the main router.

I am beginning to hate wifi networks, or is that wifi notworks?