Friday, 27 September 2013

Barrow of the Forgotten King

My friend Tiggertom – Canonfire! – pointed out to me that Anna, Lady of Geography, has placed Kingsholm – from the module, "Barrow of the Forgotten King" – in the Good Hills of County Flen, of the Kingdom of Keoland.

He pointed this out because he's playing in my RPoL "Barrow of the Forgotten King" game. I believe I knew that Anna had done that, but chose to place my version in the Old Hills of the County Palatine of Ulek. I did this, because I believe that it better fits the story.

Ian Trubrand insists that someone from his family has run the Cabbage & Coronet Inn for more than 300 years.

The graveyard has existed for centuries and the townsfolk are convinced that it predates the town of Kingsholm. A mile north of the town, upon a high hill, stands an ancient statue of a King. No one knows who he was, or why the statue was erected. This implies that this King was "forgotten" before Ian's family ever started the Inn.


Sometime around the year -323 CY, Immris of the Suloise house of Rhola founded the city of Jurnre; which is the County's capital to this day. Sometime in the century of -245 to -145 CY, the early rulers of Ulek fought the Goblin War, forcing the Goblins and Orcs back into the Lortmil Mountains. – County of Ulek

The Goblin War took place some 700 years ago. Perfect!

According to the back-story of the "Forgotten King," a young warrior named Theron snuck into the camp of a half-Orc chieftain named Kroack and stole the sword Merthuvial, which had been taken from its original owner, an unnamed Dwarven King.

Kroack had united the nearby Orc, Goblin and Hobgoblin clans into an army and they were laying waste to everything around. He nearly succeeded, so that only one fortified village remained in the territory. And here enters the hero – Theron.

Theron and his friends rallied the villagers and – though outnumbered four to one – drove the humanoids from the valley! Knowing that the fight wasn't over, Theron arranged defensive agreements with the other remaining settlements and he soon found himself at the center of a vast alliance.

Naturally, when all was said and done, they hailed Theron as their King and he ruled with the sword Merthuvial in his hand. Until he was betrayed, of course; One of Theron's oldest companions grew jealous, made a pact with the humanoids and dwellers of the Underdark. The "Betrayer" killed Theron in a final duel, but was himself captured by the people, executed and forced to guard the King's tomb and sword . . . forever.

Nothing like this took place in the Good Hills, certainly not in the time frame given. With all due respect for my beloved Anna – who has been a friend and advisor for years – for me, the town of Kingsholm and the story of Theron – the "Forgotten King" – fit perfectly into the history of the Ulek States . . . and I've chosen the County.

Can anyone reading this think of a better fit for Kingsholm and the story of Theron? If you do/can, I'd like to hear it!

Double Post!

One, single click and . . . Double Post!

I hate it when my computer does that!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

So Many Modules

Well, I'm starting another RPoL game, a couple actually. I'm doing it with Invitees, those who know it's going to be 3.5 with House Rules. There will be at least two games and these are the four Modules that I am currently considering:

I can only suppose that you guys recognize those? LOL

Yes, they're Classics, but Classics that I never got to play. So this is my chance. So, if I only run two of them -- at least to begin with -- which two would you pick? Let me know what you think, I'll be starting the games within the next week.

Thanks for the input!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Law Breakers

What do you do with Law breakers?

My RPoL Players had trouble acknowledging that they "broke the law." They were certain that I was being an asshole. I was "mad" in real life and taking it out in the game.

I finally posted a thread detailing the laws of the City of Greyhawk that I use in the world at large. The City of Greyhawk boxed set – "Folk, Feuds and Factions," Chapter 2, page 11 (page 13 in PDF) – list the "Serious Crimes" for the City of Greyhawk, along with the prescribed Punishments. The Punishments vary, which is why I use it for the "whole world." Different places administer different Punishment for the various crimes. I feel that this Source also prevents my Players for thinking that I'm "making it up" as I go along.

Yet, in spite of this, my Players still felt that their characters had done nothing wrong. Here's what happened:

The townsfolk needed help. Citizens had gone missing in the Cemetery and there was talk of Undead. In this atmosphere – on the very first day – the Gnome Illusionist jumped up on the table after taking on the guise of a miniature Zombie. Panic ensued.

Townsfolk broke tables, chairs, windows and doors, in an effort to exit the Inn. The Inn happened to be owned by the Town Speaker (Mayor) and both he and the Town Council were present to witness all of this. They were outraged by the prank.

They threatened to arrest the persons responsible – the Gnome Illusionist – for Disturbing the Peace, Destruction of Private Property and Inciting a Riot. Each of these is a violation of the law in Greyhawk, thus in my world.

Two of the Players' characters then Threatened Government Officials, promising bodily harm in they dared try to arrest their friends. (A felony in the United States) The Town Guard was summoned and the Militia turned out. (These characters really suck at Diplomacy) I had to use an NPC to get the situation back under control. Once this was done, the Players sent their characters to see if there was anyone still alive in the Cemetery -- on with the mission!

After some adventure, they returned to town and – in their cups – they started joking about this and sort of "making fun" of the Town Speaker while back at the Inn. The Innkeeper (Town Speaker) was getting the idea that at least one – maybe two – of the characters were under the impression that they hadn't been arrested because the Town Council had been "cowed" by the PCs.

Needless to say, the Town Speaker wasn't about to let that slide . . . again. So, he was off to summon the Town Guard.

One of my Players wised up and asked me what could be done to prevent them having to go through all of this again. What was needed? Diplomacy.

I'm bending over backwards trying to keep the game going, instead of having it end in a fiasco. What do you do in these situations? Do you start throwing PCs into jail? Or do you pretend that they haven't broke the law, even though they have?

I'd be interested in hearing your take on this.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Listen, Spot and Search

I make no pretense of having my own "House Rules" in my games. There are parts of 3.5 that I don't care for, yet the Dungeon Master's Guide book freely admits that there are "Variant" rules and that a DM might make his/her own rules. Interestingly, the DMG does not say that – in the DMs doing so – the game is no longer 3.5. No, even with "House Rules," the game remains 3.5.

But I have been accused of making my own rules with regards to Listen, Spot and Search checks. My RPoL Players are insisting that they are always Listening and Spotting and Searching. Yet, that's not what the rules say. The Players Handbook page 78 states:

"Your Listen check is either made against a DC that reflects how quiet the noise is that you might hear, or it is opposed by your target's Move Silently check."

This tells me that a Player's Listen check is not "automatic." My NPC monsters have the "legal right" to oppose a Player's Listen with their Move Silently check. If a Player does not roll a Listen check, how are my monsters to roll an opposed Move Silently? Am I now supposed to assign the Player a "permanent" natural 20 on a Listen check? Sorry, but that is never going to happen.

My monsters can roll a Listen check whenever they want, even if they are "talking" on Sentry Duty. One NPC holds his hand up, indicating that the other be silent, because the first one is now Listening. I inform my Players of this action by telling them to make a Move Silently roll. If they choose not to make the roll, that's their business, but my monsters will automatically win the non-roll . . . they will hear the PCs.

I believe that some of the Players are hung up on this sentence: "Your DM may decide to make the Listen check for you . . ." They insist that I am supposed to make the Listen, Spot and Search check rolls for them, but that's not what that sentence is saying. The sentence is saying that it's my decision to make.

I have already informed each of them that I will not make the check for them. According to the above sentence, that is not their decision, it is my decision. My Players will make their own Listen checks and if they don't, then my monsters automatically win their "opposed" Move Silently rolls and the Players do not hear them.

This argument is even carrying over to Spot checks; The Player's Handbook page 83 states:

"Your Spot is opposed by the Hide check of the creature trying not to be seen. Sometimes a creature isn't intentionally hiding but is still difficult to see, so a successful Spot check is necessary to notice it."

And all this time I was being accused of making up my own rules. If a Player does not roll a Spot check – of their own volition – then how do they "see" the monster which might be hiding? This "rule" even points out that a monster does not necessarily need to be actively hiding in order not to be seen by the Player! If the Player does not make a Spot check, then how does he/she "automatically" Spot the monster in question, if said monster isn't standing "out in the open?"

And that brings us to the Search check; The Player's Handbook page 81 states:

"The Search skill allows a character to discern some small detail or irregularity through active effort . . . You must be within 10 feet of the object or surface to be searched."

If Players do not roll a Search check, then the Players "discern" nothing. So why am I cheating when I tell a Player that they just stepped on a trap? The "rule" is quite clear: If the Player does not roll a Search check, then the Player is not Searching.

I'm beginning to appreciate that 3.5 Players are nothing but "hack and slash" Gamers, at least, that's true of about half of the 3.5 Players that I've met so far. They want to be able to breeze through the Game World, hacking and slashing and having a good time, without any danger to themselves. All monsters automatically "fall" before their blood thirsty blades!

So tell me, do your Players automatically "hear" everything and "see" everything and "find" everything, without making a successful roll?

Yeah, I'm beginning to see that 3.5 is not the Edition for me. Or maybe I should try a game of 3.5 with 2nd Edition Players? Trust me, 3.5 Players just don't seem to be working out.