The Final Sessions

I am approaching the final session of the longest D&D campaign I’ve ever run.

The players have made their way through all the challenges I constructed for them. The only thing left to do is confront the final villain and defeat him.

I’m reminded of something I wrote in high school, that people are attracted to stories that excite them regardless of how real those stories are. The world, characters, and stories I’ve built through Dungeons and Dragons aren’t real, but the outcome is as important to me as the outcome of other things in my life.

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D&D Tiers of Play

D&D tracks your character’s progress using levels. Anyone who’s played an RPG is familiar with systems like this.

You defeat monsters and other challenges. Your character gains experience, learns new skills, gets new equipment, and becomes stronger. Nearly every game in existence focuses on this basic principle.

A gross overgeneralization is that “numbers go up.” RPGs have numbers describing actions under everything and as you level up, all your numbers go up.

The number of hits you can take goes up, your sword skill goes up, your speed goes up, your flower arranging ability goes up, EVERYTHING GOES UP!

But that “EVERYTHING” also includes the enemies you face. Continue reading

Posting on Cimmeria

Map of Cimmeria

For a while now I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head of posting stuff about Cimmeria, my current D&D campaign setting.

I’ve avoided it previously because I want to post stuff about Gurutama and I didn’t want it to get too confusing with two D&D campaign settings in the same place.

I’ve decided I don’t care so much anymore. I’d like to start posting stuff about my Cimmeria campaign.

I’ve been posting campaign log entries on a thread of the Order of the Stick forums for a few years now.

But there’s just this immense pile of background info that I’ve created over the years of playing in this setting. I’d like to make that available, but how do I do it?

Through posts seems the most obvious way. I think I’ll start trying to post one thing a week about Cimmeria.

I’ll mirror the blog posts with pages setup through the top bar on the webpage so the content will be easily accessible in the future.

This serves another purpose as well. While all this information has been available for my players in the past, its been a little outdated.

About 45 years have passed in my campaign setting since I originally created it, so many of the things I originally wrote are no longer accurate. This king is dead, that building burned down, that city got founded, etc.

If I update that info it will give my players access to better information. Making it available through a website instead of a single word document might also be helpful.

So… I think I’ll start this week off by going through the cities of Cimmeria in alphabetical order. First up, Balin’s Holt!

-GoCorral

The Death Knell of my iPod

Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.
Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.

Alack and alas oh readers of my blog! For my iPod is slowly dying!

I got this iPod about six years ago back and it has served me well in its lifetime.

But now… Now it refuses to connect to my computer!

I can still charge it using the cable, but iTunes no longer registers that the iPod is connected.

I looked the issue up and found a post on Apple’s support pages from 2012 which listed a number of solutions to my problem, none of which worked.

I probably reinstalled iTunes a dozen different ways in an attempt to fix this issue, but it still refuses to interface with my iPod.

And I’m sure its not the iPod. My computer still sees the device. I could remove and add things to the iPod manually, but the music is coded and difficult to rearrange. Plus, that process is a whole lot harder to deal with than using iTunes like I have in the past.

My reading on the issue makes me think something got messed up in my computer’s registry when I updated iTunes from version 11 to version 12. The registry of my computer is some internal programming section that I can’t normally access to fix and if I did go through the steps to access it I might irreparably damage my computer for ever and eternity.

I could go to the Apple Store for help, but since the problem is with a Windows PC I don’t think they’d be able to help.

Likewise, because the problem is with my computer, getting a new iPod might not necessarily work either. Plus, they don’t even make the iPod classic that I have anymore! It’s all iTouch, iNano, and iShuffle now. None of them have the same storage capacity as my six year old iPod which is frankly a little shocking. My collection is sitting at 45GB right now and the largest iTouch is 64GB, so I wouldn’t have to make any hard choices. I’d still be missing the assurance that a new device would even work with my computer though.

The most frustrating part of this whole experience has been how long Apple has known about this error in iTunes code. The support page I found indicates they’ve been aware of this issue or a similar issue for the last two years and haven’t fixed it. Peter Jackson’s finished two movies faster than that!

The core of it is that Apple won’t fix an error when the error only occurs on their competitors machines. Its turned me off so much to their company that I’m now looking into getting a different MP3 player.

So… Any suggestions?

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 6

The continent of Gurutama that the dwarves originated in, Hearthland.
The continent of Gurutama that the dwarves originated in, Hearthland.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 5

Next in line for the “describe the races” theme I’ve got going on here are the earthy dwarves.

I was the player controlling the dwarves in the Dawn of Worlds game.

They started off in the mountains of the western continent, Hearthland.

The dwarves are ruled by a group of priests that interpret the Holy Book.

The dwarves believe in a cycle of rebirth and death for the world as a whole.

They bury themselves in the earth to survive the death and remerge after the rebirth to guide the world towards good and prosperity.

The Book is the guiding means for them, containing knowledge and predictions from the past on how to best guide the people of the new world.

When Navillus emerged to rule the Najar humans, the dwarves were quite upset.

Something from outside the world came in, which the Book was unable to predict. Furthermore the outside presence was malevolent, seeking to corrupt the people of the world instead of leading them towards the light.

The dwarves moved to attack the humans and defeat the Black Prince on his own ground. They sought for allies among the different races of the world.

Only the elves fell in with the alliance (more on elves to come later)

The dwarf attack succeeded and the Najar Empire was shattered, only beginning to rebuild itself near the end of the Dawn of Worlds game.

Navillus didn’t care though. He saw the dwarves only as new subjects.

The dwarves who stayed in Najar became corrupted and began to act separately from the dwarves in Hearthland.

The western dwarves have become isolationist since.

The empire dwarves had many revolts to deal with after claiming the Najar Empire.

The Empire soon fractured and the dwarven kings of Syluk have struggled to reclaim it for centuries.

And that would be the historical background of the dwarves in Gurutama.

Next up are the elves.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 7

The Other Room in D&D

D&D is typically played with everyone in the same room or on the same video call if you’re my group.

The DM plays out the action and all the other players interact with each other and the DM.

Sometimes a change is needed.

What if one PC scouts ahead and the DM doesn’t want the other players to share the information that PC gets?

You could trust¬†the players to only act on information their characters would know, but its difficult to rely on that. It’s easy for the DM and the players to¬†forget where the line between character knowledge and their own knowledge is.

The problem is easily solved by restricting such knowledge.

When a player scouts the next room in a dungeon without the others the DM will take him into the other room with his character sheet and dice.

The player then explores the room on his own.

If there’s a monster in there, he has to fight it on his own. He can still call for help to the others, but they won’t necessarily hear him.

If there’s treasure in the other room, the PC could claim it for himself and not tell the others what he found. Golden chalice? Sweet! Since the PC found it on his own, he doesn’t need to share.

At the end of this week’s session I took one of my players into the other room (separate video call).

His PC hadn’t gone into another room, but instead was taking a vacation separate from the other PCs.

Not as exotic as a fancy golden chalice in the other room of a dungeon, but it was still something we felt should be separate.

The other PCs wouldn’t know what happened there unless they are told. Additionally, watching it probably would’ve been boring for them and disruptive for the player whose PC was there.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

How D&D Works With Absentees

Freshman Dorm Desk
A picture of me not sitting at my desk in my Freshman dorm.

So I wasn’t at my group’s weekly D&D session this week.

We play almost every Sunday, but last night I didn’t go because I really wanted to work on my Alexander paper.

So what happens when I can’t go to D&D?

Before we had a set time for our sessions every week, D&D rarely happened without me.

I’m the DM for my group, but I’m also the one most often organizing when, where, and what we play.

I’m not saying our group is an autocracy, I’m just usually the one making suggestions that the group approves of.

But we’ve had a set time for playing on Sunday for a couple months now. Everyone expects us to play then.

Fortunately, I’m not the only DM for my group anymore either.

One of my friends also DMs a campaign set in the pre-historical Aegean islands. The political scene of the his campaign parallels the accepted version of real events, but there’s a lot of freedom for the players to impact the world as well.

So when I can’t make it to a session, my friend runs his campaign.

What happens to a player’s character when that player can’t make a session?

There’s a couple of different options.

#1 The character can fade into the background and do almost nothing during the session. We’ve used this a few times and it works decently.

#2 Another player or the DM runs the character. I like this one best, but sometimes a character’s battle tactics are too complicated for someone else to pick up for just one session.

#3 The character is removed from the session for in character reasons. Maybe the character gets sick. Maybe he has to go home and check on his family for a few days. Maybe he has a business he runs in town. This option doesn’t break immersion, but it does cut the absent character out of any important action during that session.

I haven’t gotten the specifics from the group yet, but when I was gone this week they did #1 or #3. I’ll figure out what happened with my character next time I can make it to a session.

I won’t be playing next Sunday either as I’m doing some Easter stuff. I’ll do my best to have a D&D post ready for you on Monday though!

-Mister Ed