Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sushi Queens

I brought my copy of Sushi Go! to work to play with some work colleagues during Friday lunch, and when I opened it, the first thing that greeted me was a score sheet from the last game my wife and my daughter played:
She is the Sushi Queen.
Great game. We should do a video review of this soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 8 - Under the Old Light (Part 3)

Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan)
Kyra, Human Cleric of Sarenrae (NPC, normally played by Mummy)
Skye Ironblade, Human Paladin? (NPC)
Bulk, Half-orc Fighter (NPC)
Puddlebug, Gnome Alchemist? (NPC)

It has become a habit to start off each of our sessions with me asking the kids, “Does anyone remember what happened last session?” I find it helps jog the kids’ memories on where they are and what were they doing. This time round, I’m impressed by Jojo who not only remembers the last session’s details, but also what the strange room looked like, which she draws out on another notepad.

Pretty accurate re-construction of the strange room
“That’s right,” I nod. “So, who wants to go in first?”

Mummy isn’t playing in this session tonight, and I've told her that I’ll put her character on “auto-pilot”. The kids decide among themselves that the lightest character should go in first, and so Puddlebug the gnome steps cautiously into the room. He makes an observation, “Hmm.. there is rust all over this iron grate, except for over here where the door is. In fact, it looks like there’s a trail of less rusty bars going all the way to the hole.” Stepping lightly, he makes it all the way to the other end of the room.

Lexi is next, and so the elven rogue steps in. After a few Reflex rolls, I tell Jojo, “The rusty iron grate squeals alarmingly under your foot, but it seems to hold your weight. You carefully make your way across the room.” I order Jojo to make a Perception roll. “You notice something shifting under the water! It’s a dark shape that is fairly roundish, almost like a sting-ray!”

Jojo and Evan argue a bit over what it might be. Evan’s first thought is that it’s a Reefclaw from the GM Guide (he reckons that a cross between an eel (possibly electric) and lobster must be fearsome indeed) while Jojo thinks that it’s a real sting-ray, and perhaps she can tame it to become her animal companion. In the end, they decide to throw something into the water. Jojo takes her rope out, tosses one end to Sharpblade, and lowers the other end into the dark murky waters.

“The end of the rope slips into the water, and you can see a dark shape moving towards it. Suddenly, something grips the rope and starts pulling it down!” The elven rogue and skeleton pull up with all their might, and I order a Strength roll. “You pull and pull, and something breaks the surface of the water, clinging on the rope! It’s some kind of grey, blob-like creature!”

Both the kids go, “Ewwww!”

The rope then snaps, and the creature sinks down into the water once again. The end of the rope has been eaten through by acid. Puddlebug shouts a warning from across the room, “It’s a Gray Ooze! I’d recognise one anywhere!”

A Gray Ooze. Ewwwww.
“That thing can live underwater?” asks Jojo, somewhat surprised.

“Sure, it can,” I respond airily. “It doesn’t need to breathe, right?”

Evan then surprises me by solving the riddle of the hole in the middle of the room. “I know! The ooze must have come through the door, and its acid ate away the rust, leaving a trail! Then it got to the middle of the room, and fell through because it melted a hole into the iron grate!”

That boy could have been raised in a dungeon, I muse to myself. I let them both read a bit about the ooze from the GM Guide, and they are intimidated enough by its acid attack that they decide to leave the trapped creature alone.

Lexi makes it to the iron door and rolls well on her Disable Device skill to pick the lock. “This iron door doesn’t seem as badly rusted as the first one. The iron lock opens with a satisfying clank.” The elf pushes the door open and goes through.

Kyra and Skye come over the iron grate floor easily enough. Evan makes good rolls on the d20 for Reflex checks, and so Sharpblade treads carefully across with no problems.

Bulk, however, looks uneasy as the iron grate complains loudly with his every step. I roll a d20, and say, “Bulk makes his way carefully across, but then an iron bar snaps under his foot, and his foot goes down, dangling just above the water! The ooze in the water goes crazy as it tries to reach him, splashing waves everywhere, but in the end, the half-orc manages to extract his stuck foot, and makes it to the other end.”

The kids breath a sigh of relief, and the adventurers pass through the iron door. They troop down a short corridor, which leads to a huge cavern-like room. The room must have once been round, but a massive cave-in has covered half of the room with rubble. “You also notice hundreds and hundreds of fiery lights flying around, like fire-flies. One of the lights flies near, and you see that it is a beetle about the size of a watermelon! It has two fiery red dots on its outer shell that glow like embers. Puddlebug identifies it as a Fire Beetle.”

Fire Beetle chamber
The gnome explains that Fire Beetles are mostly harmless, and are sometimes kept in little lantern-like cages by miners as a source of light. They are attracted to hot things, so this colony must have found a heat source somewhere here. Perhaps in that pit half-covered by rubble in the room.

Lexi and Sharpblade make their way to the pit. The floor of this room slants like a funnel towards the pit. The fire beetles are clustered in greater numbers here, and I tell them that they can see something glowing inside the pit. The pit is fairly shallow, so Lexi climbs down.

“You see glowing rocks embedded in the sides of the pit, like ore. The fire beetles seem attracted to these.” Jojo asks me what ‘ore’ is, and Evan reminds her that they’ve seen plenty of them in Minecraft.

Minecraft came in useful after all
Jojo decides to take some of the ore, and she scrapes out a chunk of it. Sharpblade is more interested in the fire beetles, and tries to pick some of those up.

I tell them, “Just then, there is a rumble, and parts of the rubble gives way!” A large arm thrusts out of the rubble, and a large stone creature pulls itself out of the rubble. I show the kids the picture of an Animated Statue.

Introducing, the T-1000. BC.
“This statue is huge! Lexi barely is taller than its knee! The statue looks down at all of you, and demands in a grating voice, ‘Grrnk-ankh-zzffnaargh-gok!’”

The kids asks me to repeat what the statue said, and so I do. Jojo decides that perhaps it’s asking for the chunk of ore back, so she holds the ore out towards the statue. However, the statue is not appeased, and lifts a threatening fist. Lexi barely manages to dodge out of the way before the fist smashes the spot where she was standing.

The rest of the party explodes into action, with Bulk smashing into the statue with his mace, Kyra with her scimitar, and Skye with her sword. Sharpblade hits it with his warhammer, but hardly dents the creature.

“This statue is extremely tough and seems hard to damage! Evan, your attack barely scratches it!” Lexi manages to duck behind it, and sneak attacks it by sticking her rapier into a knee joint, causing a small explosion of sparks.

I randomly roll to see who the statue attacks. The creature grabs Skye in a crushing grip, shaking her like a ragged doll before tossing her across the room into a heap of rubble. The woman gets up, her arm bent in an odd angle. “Retreat!” she orders.

The rest of the party complies, and soon, everyone has made their way back to the short corridor. The statue is too large to follow them, and bends its head to glare angrily at them.

Skye decides that they have explored enough under the Old Light, and so the party makes it back to the hole in the middle of the curved corridor. They go up the rope ladder, and are greeted by the two guardsmen at the top who seem extremely nervous. When Skye questions them, they say, “Just now, we thought we heard you all coming up the rope ladder, and so we called down to see if everything was alright. And then, this black creature with long, ropey arms sprang out of the hole and before we could stop it, it fled off into the night!”

Adventure Notes:

I noticed only at the last moment that the Animated Statue had a Hardness ability of 8, which means that any damage dealt to it is reduced by 8. That effectively ruled out most of the kids’ current weapons, unless they were lucky enough to score critical hits, or if Jojo got in more of her sneak attacks. Nevertheless, I decided to forgo the safe “The NPCs defeat the creature for you.” routine, and save the Animated Statue as a future challenge for the kids.

Note to self - the kids really should upgrade their weapons. And get into battles which they don’t need to retreat from.

Plot hooks: Glowing Ore, Angry Animated Statue, Black escaped creature with ropey arms

And the Ooze. I think I’ll name it Oscar.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 7 - Under the Old Light (Part 2)

Adventure Notes:

I’m beginning to find that a good session length with the kids is about one Encounter. Almost a week goes by before we finally continue the adventure, and we played this session just 45 minutes before bed-time.

* * * *

As the party turns back up the curved corridor, Puddlebug gabs excitedly about what he thinks might be the particular species of Giant Spider they’ve just encountered. “Perhaps a Giant Gray; they’re pretty common in this area. If I recall, their dens tend to have several exits, so we might still be seeing them around, unless of course, they are molting, in which case-”

Skye suddenly stops the party with a raised fist. She listens intently for something, and then says in a low voice, “Did anyone hear that? I think we’re being followed.” I get the kids to do Perception rolls, but no one hears anything.

“We just came from a dead-end,” points out Bulk. “Maybe a spider got out and is now tailing us?”

After several minutes, Skye motions for the party to continue, but now everyone is wary over what the woman might have heard. The party passes under the entrance hole and heads north up the corridor. “The corridor curves north, and then you come to an iron door set into the wall on the side of the corridor. The corridor continues onwards into the dark.”

Mummy and the kids discuss which way to go, and they decide to try opening the door first. “The door is rusted all over, and appears to be locked. If only there was a rogue around who can pick this lock...”

Jojo sighs and takes the d20 I pass to her. I spend almost a minute scouring her character sheet for a ‘Lock picking’ skill, only to realise that it’s now called ‘Disable Device’. Shows you how long since I last GMed.

Jojo rolls the d20, but she fails at the lock picking, I mean, device disabling. “The lock is much too damaged with rust. You don’t manage to unlock it.”

It looks like the only way to get this door open is to break it down, and so everyone decides that Sharpblade and Bulk should ram the door down together. Evan rolls the d20, and groans when it turns up as a 1. “Both Sharpblade and Bulk charge at the door, and then accidentally trip over each others’ feet and crash clumsily into the wall on the side of the door!” We all laugh at Evan’s expense.

Skye informs them to stop clowning around when Puddlebug announces that he can hear something approaching down the northern corridor. “It must be attracted by the noise!” he says.

I turn to Mummy. “You detect evil approaching,” I tell her. “Most likely something undead.”

Evan says excitedly to Jojo, “Maybe it’s.. a skeleton!” The kids have asked me several times before what might happen if Sharpblade encounters another skeleton.

I shrug. “Could be just a zombie.”

Everyone arranges themselves with the fighters in front. I ask Evan what he wants to do and he announces that he’s going up the corridor to see what it is. “You sure? Leaving everyone behind and going by yourself might not be a good idea, Ev.”

Nothing persuades him otherwise, and so Sharpblade marches up the corridor. “You can definitely hear the tap-tap footsteps of something walking towards you. And when you get close enough, you see what it is. It’s a skeleton!”

Evan cheers, “Yayy!”.

Sharpblade's home-boys?
I put down the GM guide. “I suppose we’ll now find out what happens when Sharpblade meets another skeleton. This skeleton is wearing old rusty armour and brandishes a broken scimitar.”

Evan says, “I wait for it to come closer!”

The skeleton lurches towards Sharpblade, and I roll a d20 and it comes up 17. “The skeleton reaches Sharpblade, and then walks right past him!”

“Woo hoo-oo! I’m INVISIBLE!” The kids are thrilled that Sharpblade seems undetectable by other skeletons. Sharpblade further demonstrates this by shoving the skeleton from behind. The undead creature stumbles but manages to resume its ponderous walk towards the rest of the party.

“Sharpblade, you hear more sounds up the corridor, and you turn to see two more skeletons walking towards you!” Sharpblade goes up to meet them, and I roll the d20 twice. 6 and 2. Hmm. “These skeletons snarl when they see you, and raise their scimitars to attack!”

Meanwhile, the first skeleton reaches the rest of the party, and Mummy decides to try out her Channel Energy ability which heals living creatures and destroys undead ones. She rolls a d6 and gets a 1. “You raise your holy symbol, and a bright flare lances out and hits the skeleton. Bits of it rapidly decays, but the skeleton is still standing!”

Lexi attacks the skeleton with her rapier, only to have the damage ignored by the creature’s damage reduction. “You need to use one of these,” calls out Bulk as he hefts his large mace. The half-orc smashes into the skeleton, and bits of bone fly everywhere.

Back with Sharpblade, the skeletons’ attacks glance off his armour. Evan, however, is still determined to test out his ‘undetectability’. He pushes at one, only to have it strike against him in response. I hold up the d20 and tell him, “Why do you think I’m rolling this whenever you meet a skeleton? Perhaps it’s because some skeletons can detect you, and some skeletons can’t!” Evan gets the point and finally draws his warhammer out to attack.

Mummy’s cleric doesn’t seem to be having much luck (or faith, depending on how you look at it) with her Channel Energy blasts. It takes another three blasts before the first skeleton disintegrates into a bony pile. The rest of the party comes up to engage the other two skeletons fighting Sharpblade. After several rounds of combat, the skeletons finally succumb to the last shot from the cleric’s Channel Energy blast.

“Kyra detects that there are more skeletons up ahead, but they aren’t moving. They’ve probably not detected you guys yet.”

Sharpblade is keen to go meet them, but the others vote to retreat back to the iron door. It’s close to bed-time now, but everyone decides to at least see what’s on the other side of the door before finishing the session.

Sharpblade and Bulk smash the door down successfully. “The other side of the door reveals a strange room. It has walls curving up into the ceiling, and is slightly rectangular. On the other end of the room, you see another iron door similar to the one you just broke down. The whole floor of this room, however, is a large rusty iron grate. Just a few feet under the grate, you can see that it’s all flooded with water. The water is too murky to see through.” I also describe that the iron grate floor looks quite unstable, and draw a hole near the middle of the room where it looks like the iron bars have given way.

What a strange, strange room
Adventure Notes:

This encounter was supposed to be the cleric’s defining moment, but I must say that Channel Energy is pretty weak given that it only does 1d6 damage, and the skeletons get a saving throw for half damage. It would have been funny if Mummy caught Sharpblade in her blast, but as it was, he was mostly out of the way.

Also, by now I realise that I’ve got a problem. Evan is playing a skeleton character, and I’m fine with him having the traits of a regular skeleton, such as poison immunity, functioning underwater, etc. However, so far, I’ve completely overlooked the damage reduction that skeletons have against non-bludgeoning weapons.

On one hand, I want to let his character function as closely as possible to a regular skeleton. On the other hand, a lot of CR1-3 creatures are going to have a tough time against that damage reduction, and I don’t want to make it too much like a cake-walk for him.

So how would you handle a skeleton player character?

Plot hooks: Something’s following us, Skeleton group huddle?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pathfinder RPG: Session 6 - Under the Old Light

Pippi the ferret is not pleased to find that her new hiding place inside Sharpblade’s armour is now not only damp with seawater, but also reeking with yucky seaweed. The ferret ejects herself out of the neck of Sharpblade’s armour and scoots off into the bushes to sulk. The adventurers, Gaffi and Bilbi bid Trax the halfling goodbye and leave Egan’s Wood in Gaffi’s caravan, travelling north back to Sandpoint.

“The next day, you guys arrive back in Sandpoint. You’ve been away for almost a week, and in some way, you are glad to be back. Sandpoint has become like a home for you both.” As the caravan wheels in through the southern gate, they spot Fastidus the wizard coming towards them from down the street. The old wizard waves them over, “Phew! There you all are! Thank goodness you’re both back in time! When you left, some of my friends arrived in Sandpoint, and I wanted to introduce you to them, but you’d already gone. Thankfully, they’re still here. Come along with me and I’ll introduce you both.”

So Sharpblade and Lexi climb off the caravan and follow the old wizard who leads them to The Rusty Dragon where apparently, Fastidus’s friends are staying. Hardly anyone pays them any attention as the three of them enter the place. Fastidus brings them to a nearby table where three other people are sitting. “You see a serious-looking woman dressed in dark armour. Beside her, eating a large roast pig to himself, is a big warrior who looks like a half-orc! And on her other side, with his nose buried in a book, is a small gnome.” Fastidus makes the introductions. By this time, I’d not made up their names, so I poll the kids for some good names. We eventually establish that the woman is Skye Ironblade, and the big half-orc is Bulk (after Evan’s favourite superhero from Sentinels of the Multiverse), and the gnome is Puddlebug. I show the kids what Skye looks like from the GM Guide.

Skye "Don't mess with" Ironblade
Skye nods at them. “Fastidus has told us about you both. We are good friends of Fastidus, and he has recommended the both of you to join the Pathfinder Society.”

“Daaad,” says Jojo. “That’s the name of the whole game.”

“Yes,” I reply mysteriously.

Skye continues to explain that the Pathfinders are a society of explorers, whose whole aim is to explore and report about strange and new places. Joining the society gives members access to knowledge of interesting places to visit, as well as safe houses throughout the land.

Jojo crosses her arms. “I’m not joining anything unless I get paid and there’re animals included!”

“Joining the Pathfinders gives you more than just gold, Jojo,” I tell her. “It gives you information about interesting places which you can explore. And that’s worth more than gold sometimes.”

“Ooo! Can I find out about where interesting animals live?”

“Uh, yeah sure.”

“Hmm.. okay, I’ll join! How about you, Evan?”

Just before Evan answers, I tell him, “Sharpblade, you are about to answer, when suddenly, you see a vision! In your mind, you see three ninjas who you immediately recognise as the ninjas who captured you when you were human, and turned you into a skeleton! One of them speaks, ‘Sharpblade, you will infiltrate the Pathfinders as one of their members.’ Then the vision disappears!”

“What does ‘infiltrate’ mean?”

“It means, ‘pretend to join’. Like you join, but you’re really working for someone else. Like a spy.”

“Cool!” Evan is all excited over the prospect of becoming a spy. “I’m, ahem, joining the Pathfinders!”

Bulk snorts with laughter. “One does not simply join the Pathfinders! You need to be invited to join, and sometimes you need to go through training at one of our camps before you are made into a member of the Pathfinder Society!”

Evan raises his hand. “I’d like some free training!”

Skye looks at them both. “Having a recommendation from Fastidus is very good indeed. But we’ll need time to observe you both before anything is decided about joining the Pathfinders.” She turns to Fastidus. “Meanwhile, I believe that Fastidus has something he’d like us to investigate.”

The old wizard mutters and produces a tome from somewhere. He lays it on the table. “This is a historical recording of a nearby kingdom from long, long, long, long ago. The kingdom is no longer around, but it was a kingdom of giants!”

“Ooo! Giants? Really?”

Fastidus frowns. “Or they could have been ogres. Not sure really, but the writings seem to indicate that they were pretty big. Anyway, they were a fierce kingdom and kept attacking all the neighbouring lands. However, what’s strange is that they always left this city alone. Well, not Sandpoint, but the city which used to be here before Sandpoint.”

Jojo looks interested. “Hmm. Why would they do that?”

“Ahah! According to this, they were afraid of something here they called “The Tall Flame”. I think the Tall Flame mentioned here is really the Old Light!”

“Why would they be afraid of a lighthouse? Maybe they didn’t like light? Like vampires?”

“Well, no one knows. But I bet that if we go down into that hole that was recently discovered in the Old Light ruins, we might be able to find out!”

And at this point, my wife comes up to do her knitting on the couch, and the kids plead with her to join in our Pathfinder game. In the end, she chooses the pre-generated cleric character from the Beginner Box named Kyra. “I like her background story,” she comments. “It says she became a cleric to help others!”

Mummy's character: Kyra the Cleric
It takes some time to work out how to insert her into the story, but we finally decide that Kyra was sitting at a nearby table, and overhears Fastidus talking about the Old Light. She comes over to introduce herself as a cleric of Sarenrae, a healer and destroyer of all things undead. Mummy eyes Evan cautiously, “And I’m not too sure about this skeleton here!”

Before things get out of hand, I get Skye to declare that it is a good idea to have a cleric along, so soon, the whole party of six is heading off to the recently discovered hole in the ruins of the Old Light.

“By this time, the guardsmen of Sandpoint have placed a wooden hatch over the hole, and they’ve posted two guards here who seem to be sleeping on the job. They wake up pretty abruptly when Skye clears her throat. Soon, they are lifting the wooden hatch and feeding a rope ladder down into the hole.” I get the kids to decide who should go first, and they let the two big fighters go down to ‘secure the area’. Bulk climbs down, followed by Sharpblade.

“At the bottom of the rope ladder, Bulk and Sharpblade find themselves in a corridor that curves around from north to south. You don’t see anything dangerous here.”

Under the Old Light: The Corridor
The kids randomly decide to go south. “As you follow the corridor, Puddlebug the gnome is marking off sections of the corridor and making some calculations under his breath. He then says excitedly that if this corridor ran around the base of the original tower, then it is possible that the tower was um… really, really tall.”

The kids, however, are not interested in the gnome’s architectural conjectures. “All your little people talk too much, dad.”

Eventually, the group comes to a dead end. There is a cave-in blocking the way. “But you also see a tunnel leading off the side of the corridor. Unlike the rest of the corridor which is made from smooth stone, the sides of this tunnel is rough, like something clawed its way through.”

The adventurers decide that the two fighters should enter the tunnel first, when I slyly announce, “The tunnel is much too small for Bulk to get into. And Sharpblade can just barely fit. Skye says that she will stay with Bulk while the others should go through the tunnel to check out what’s in it.” I catch the kids staring at me suspiciously. “What? Do you think I'm trying to split you guys up?”

After some alterations, Sharpblade leads the way into the tunnel, followed by Lexi, Puddlebug and Mummy’s cleric Kyra. “The tunnel twists a bit, and then widens out into a large cave. You can’t see the other end of the cave, but you do see some curious-looking mounds near to where you are.”

Instead of drawing out the cave, I decide to use the grid map from the Beginner Box. I sketch out the cave using a dry-erase marker, and decide against using the mini stand-up figurines (I imagined figurines scattering around everywhere as the kids move them), and instead mark out which squares the adventurers are occupying. Jojo insists that her character should be represented by a paw print which only she can draw. With the blue marker.

Sharpblade approaches one of the mounds to investigate it. “The mound is about two feet high, and made out of some old gooey grey substance.”

“I step on it and squish it!”

Figures. Sharpblade steps on a mound and it breaks apart, spilling little bones of small animals out. “Ooo! More bones!” The skeleton tries to stick the bones into his own body, hoping to increase his size.

I assure him that it won’t work, and continue, “The old gooey grey substance is pretty sticky. Like… webs.”

The kids look at each other. “SPIDERS!”

At that moment, sticky grey webbing shoots out from the ceiling and I roll a d6 to randomly decide who it hits. It hits Puddlebug, and the gnome is immobilised with sticky webbing! “A giant spider is scuttling along the ceiling of the cave, followed by another one!” The foremost spider attacks Sharpblade from above, and misses. The other spider drops down on the ground and attacks Kyra. The cleric trades blows with the creature, but does not manage to score a hit.

On her turn, Lexi rushes over to Puddlebug and attempts to free him from the webbing. I order Jojo to do a Strength roll, and she rolls a natural 20. “Lexi sees that although the webbing is tight, it’s all just being held together by a single strand! She slices the strand and the webbing falls off Puddlebug!” Freed from the webbing, the gnome pulls out a flask from his pack and throws it, just in time to hit yet another spider running towards them from out of the shadows. The flask bursts into flames upon impact, and the spider shrieks and runs away on fire.

Sharpblade ignores the spider which attacked him, and heads off to stomp on another mound. Kyra the cleric trades missed blows once again with her spider until Lexi sneaks up behind it and back-stabs it while it is distracted. The spider shrieks and dies.

Despite her spider kill, Jojo decides to make her way back to the tunnel exit. “We’re just here to investigate,” she reasons with us. “I think we should go back and tell Skye about the spiders.” Puddlebug follows her, and after a while so does Kyra and Sharpblade, who is disappointed that he didn’t find any treasure in the mounds.

“As you leave, you glance back to see the spider on fire running to the back of the cave. The fire lights up the cave, and you see more mounds, more spiders, and hanging on the back wall, you see a large mother spider which looks twice the size of the other spiders! You feel somewhat relieved that you left when you did.”

Gridmap Galore: The Spider's Den
The group makes its way back to where Skye and Bulk are waiting, and Lexi describes the spider den to Skye. The woman nods and says that they did a good job scouting out the spider den, and perhaps later they should get a group sent down to clear the den out. Meanwhile, she orders Bulk and Sharpblade to lift some of the rubble from the cave-in to cover the tunnel entrance to prevent the spiders from coming out.

Adventure Notes:

Skye, Bulk and Puddlebug are, of course, the Pathfinders whom the tavern owner Ameiko wanted to tell Fastidus about a couple of sessions back. Most of the adventures from the Paizo site seems to involve the adventurers investigating something for the Pathfinders, so I thought they’d be a good lead-in for future adventures.

This is the first time Mummy has played a proper RPG, and unfortunately, she proved to be quite bad at rolling hits, although the kids did assure her that she was playing a part in distracting the spider so that Jojo could backstab it.

This is also the first time I’ve used the square grid map to run a battle scene. The good thing is that it does make it easier to see how things can be flanked and stuff, but it does turn the game into a square-counting affair to see how far things are, and how many squares can one move, etc. I think I’ll go back to using the simpler notepad sketches, even without the distance calculations, as it keeps things more flexible in terms of narrative. As Joss Whedon once replied to the question of how fast does the Serenity go, “The ship goes as fast as the story requires.”

Do you think I should continue with the notepad sketches, or give the grid another go?

Plot hooks: Clearing the spider’s den, first mention of the Pathfinders, and Sharpblade the ninja spy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pathfinder RPG - The Adventures of Daddy the Wizard and Jojo the Rogue

Evan has been bugging us for some time now to run his own Pathfinder adventure, and in the end, we came to a compromise - he’ll be the Game Master, but Jojo and I will start off using completely new characters. In fact, to make things easier, we would use the pre-generated characters that came with the Beginner Box; I chose the Human Wizard while Jojo chose the Elven Rogue.

Daddy the Wizard and Jojo the Elven Rogue

Evan asks me to help him find the map of Sandpoint in the GM guide, and he points into the map. “This is where you guys are. In the Rusty Dragon Inn.”

So far so good. “What time of the day is it?” I ask.

“It’s dawn,” Evan says. “Near night-time. And there’s lots of people inside.”

“Then it’s dusk,” corrects Jojo. “Dawn is really early in the morning.”

I glance through my wizard character sheet. “It says here that I have SEVEN hit points!? I must be really old!” I read on. “Cool, I have a Burning Hands spell that shoots fire up to 15 feet away. And I even have a Hand of the Apprentice feature that allows me to throw my staff at something, and then have it come back to my hand again.” I demonstrate with a flourish of hands.

“Ooo cool! Like a Jedi with his lightsaber!” The kids are suitably impressed.

Yeah, I can do that.
Evan describes how my wizard makes his way into the tavern.  “Just then, you bump into Jojo’s rogue.” Apparently, this was the first time we meet.

“Does she steal anything from me?” I ask in mock suspicion. “I’ll cast Burning Hands on her if she does.”

“What!? I’m not stealing anything from you, you old wizard!”

Just as our characters are getting acquainted, an old elven wizard comes up to us. He has one palm up, and hovering over his palm is a crystal ball. “The elven wizard tells the both of you a vision!”

“In the crystal ball?” asks Jojo. “What do we see?”

“You don’t see anything. You only hear words.”

Jojo and I exchange a glance. “Uh, huh. What are the words of this ‘vision’?”

“The Ocean is uh.. um..”

“Great?” suggests Jojo.

“Yes! The ocean is great and uh.. dangerous! Don’t die in uh… 30 weeks!”

Jojo gets Evan to repeat the ‘vision’ at least three times as she dutifully writes it down on a notepad.

Vision Statement. Get it!? :-D
The elven wizard walks off into the crowd. I try to catch him to ask him more about the ‘vision’, but by the time I get to the bar, the elven wizard has disappeared.

Jojo and I order drinks to take-away and discuss our options. “Alright, I think if we want to make sense of the ‘vision’, we should head off to somewhere where we can get to the ocean.” Evan points out the Sandpoint harbour in the map, so we head off there.

At the harbour, we are met with a man who seems to be in charge of the harbour. Evan puts on his best impression of a harbour master. “Yo ho! Welcome to the docks! We have lots of ships here, which can take you wherever you want to go!”

“He sounds like a pirate,” I muse.

“You distract him, and I’ll stab him in the back.” suggests Jojo.

“We’re looking for a ship to take us out to the ocean,” I say.

The harbour master attempts to list out the many ships in the harbour, assuring us that there are at least five ships which we can take, and in the end comes up with three because that’s all Evan can make up on the spot. “There’s a small fishing boat, and a cargo ship, and a big, massive ship that brings prisoners to Australia.”

“A convict ship,” supplies Jojo. “We learnt about those in school.”

The wonders of an Australian primary education. “Where are the prisoners from?” I ask curiously.

“From here and there,” answers Evan evasively. “Just then, you hear someone calling for ‘Help!’ from the convict ship!”

“Um, okay. Maybe we should go check out who’s calling for help?”

The harbour master blocks my way. “It’s those convicts tricking again,” he says. And sure enough, the same voice calls out, “Fooled you! Hahahah!”

I roll my eyes. “Okay, I think the fishing boat is too small to get us to wherever we need to go, and the convict ship is too… intense. So let’s take the cargo ship.”

In short order, we are aboard the cargo ship, and are sailing off into the ocean. I ask Evan what sort of cargo does this ship carry, and he says that the ship has one coil of rope, one table, one mug on the table, and one barrel of rum. Evan gets me to do a Perception roll, and I find that the barrel of rum is filled with beer instead.

“I pour the beer into the mug and drink it,” I say.

Evan giggles. “You drink the beer and immediately puke over the side of the ship. It’s very bad beer.”

I grumble while I clean myself up. “Where’s the crew?” I demand. “Where’re all the sailors and stuff?”

“You don’t see anyone on this ship. But, you do hear music coming from below the deck.”

I wonder if this is some kind of ghost ship while my wizard and Jojo’s rogue makes their way below deck and meets a man playing an accordion.

“Welcome aboard!” says the man while still playing the accordion. “We’re off to an island in the middle of the ocean! Yes, a very dangerous island! With frog people and mangroves!”

“I think he’s drunk too much of that bad beer,” I say.

We decide to stay aboard, and soon the ship takes us to an island and docks near the beach. There is a jungle here, with mangroves, and the calls of wild animals everywhere. We get off the ship and head into the jungle.

"Remember that the ocean is great and dangerous!" calls out the accordion man from the ship.

Jojo shakes her head. "Why did he say that?"

"I suppose he might be the old elf wizard in disguise," I reply. “Is there a path or a road in here?” I ask Evan.

“No, but suddenly, you see two red eyes looking down at you! Something very large is in front of you!”

“Oh please, please, please let it be an Earth Elemental!” begs Jojo.

“It’s… an Earth Elemental!”


Super-sized Earth Elemental!
This Earth Elemental is so massive that it picks the both of us up, one in each hand. I turn to Jojo, “Maybe you can try making friends with it?”

Jojo greets the Earth Elemental, and the creature nods. It then chucks my wizard over its shoulder. “You crash into the ground and get 3 damage,” says Evan.

“What!?” I splutter indignantly. My wizard picks himself up as Jojo’s rogue talks to the Earth Elemental. This thing is huge, and I make some observations. “Maybe, the Earth Elemental is the guardian of the island! Or maybe he’s part of the island itself!”

“So the whole island is alive?” asks Jojo. “I watched an Adventure Time episode once where the Ice King finds an island which is actually a girl. Her knee was a mountain, and she had a nice voice.”

I don't think I've watched this episode.
Just then, a blue magic bolt flies out of the trees and hits the Earth Elemental on the forehead. The creature makes a grinding roar. I turn to the trees, in time to see a figure emerge.

“You see a Serpentfolk!” says Evan.

Finally, an encounter!
The Serpentfolk seems intent on firing his magic bolts at the Earth Elemental, so I fire off a Magic Missle at it. Jojo’s elf jumps off the Earth Elemental’s hand as a few bolts fly past her. “What’s the Challenge Rating of this thing?” I ask, and we check the GM guide. “CR 4!? We’re just Level 1s and we’re fighting a CR 4? This guy has 42 hit points! And I have half of SEVEN!”

The fight with the Serpentfolk becomes extremely surreal as every time it hits the Earth Elemental with its bolts, the whole terrain around us changes. From a jungle to an icy wasteland, and then to a searing desert. In the end, the Earth Elemental ends the Serpentfolk menace by sitting on it.

By now, it was near bed-time, so as I get both the kids ready for bed, Evan describes the loot we find on the Serpentfolk’s remains. Jojo finds a ring which has engravings of sea stars on it. Apparently, it allows her to hide from sea creatures. I jokingly suggest that perhaps it turns her into a sea star in the process.

I find a bracelet that fires those blue magic bolts that the Serpentfolk was using. Evan calls them Plasma Bolts, so we name the item the Bracelet of Plasma Bolts. I ask Evan how many shots does the Bracelet of Plasma Bolts contain, and he tells me that it has 100 bolts, and recharges every day. I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be blasting quite a few of these in upcoming adventures.

Adventure Notes:

Things I've learnt about letting the kids run your RPG campaign. Take things as they come. Don't stress about the details. And ignore the plot holes that are big enough for a ship to sail through.

If you do this, you'll suddenly find that you've gone on a mystical voyage to a magic island. And upon reflection, you'll suddenly realise that you've actually had fun.