another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Monday, January 23, 2006

"The amiable old Proctor"

If I plug this post's title into Google, it gives me several examples of randomly generated filler, and the text of Dickens's "David Copperfield". So, public domain literature gets fed as an initial seed into random junk generator, and shreds of it wind up in my e-mail.

Actually, in the junk folder, fortunately, which I weed through only to a) make sure that the spam filter hasn't given a false-positive to some mail I want, and b) to provide titles for these posts.

This is the remainder of the holiday season post, which means it's the Dungeons and Dragons post.

Let me re-wind time a bit. I spent a lot of time in the last half of October and before Thanksgiving preparing for Stuffed COWS, the D&D convention that's held on Thanksgiving weekend (Fri-Sun). I'd volunteered to judge (aka run, be DM for) games in every time slot except one for the convention. I reserved the one slot to play the special, convention-only module that had eluded me in past conventions: "Spray of Blood". We were planning a Tjarks table of that mod (counting Tony as a Tjarks), since everyone had a character of the appropriate level (level 6, plus or minus 2).

So, to prepare I needed to play as many of the modules that were to be run at the convention as I could. That made me more flexible for what Brad (the con organizer) could schedule me for, and made it so I wasn't wishing I was playing a module when I could be judging.

So, in that October-November time I played seven modules and judged three others for groups of other Stuffed COWS judges. Seven modules in about four weeks. I scheduled those for when Ellen was working as much as possible, because I like peace in the family. :-)

At Stuffed COWS, my expected schedule kind of went out the window as far as what I was judging. That's not at all unusual -- usually more judges are scheduled than are actually needed, and sometimes if tables don't work out for one module the players shift into a different module, sometimes one not scheduled for that slot. So, again, flexibility is good.

First I judged one table of "Deep in the Lortmills", and that table had the one item from a previous module that made this one a cake walk. It's all part of the story line for that series, if you had one specific item found in a module 2.5 years earlier the defenders of a place let you want right in, because you're there to set things right. If no one at the table has that, you have to fight your way in. (When Matt and I played this module at the beginning of 2005, Matt had the item and the mod was easy). Anyway, since the group I was running had the item, the whole game took about two hours to run.

Tony wasn't so lucky. He was playing the same module at a different table, and they didn't have the item. So sad. His group did very badly with the defenders, and Tony's character died. He managed to scrape together enough gold to get a "Reincarnate" spell case (he didn't have enough for a "Raise Dead"), and his human character was reincarnated as a halfling. It also meant he lost a level, so now he wouldn't be able to play at the Tjarks table of "Spray of Blood"!

In the next slot I ran a table of "Here There Be Dragons". It's meant to take up two slots, but this group had no real problem with the mod, breezed through sections of it, and took no breaks, so it took probably 5.5 hours to run, leaving us only a half-hour into the third time slot. This was good for the players, as they were able to fit in one more game. It was good for Brad, because he had a table of other players without a judge, so could I run a mod for them.

The bad news, it was a Living Arcanis module, and I would be running it with absolutely no preparation. I don't play Living Arcanis (or haven't to date), so I wasn't eating a module that I'd want to play later, but it also meant I knew nothing about the campaign setting. Ack! Anyway, I'm a sucker so I agreed, provided the players knew that I knew nothing and hadn't prepped the mod (I didn't want them mad at me in case I did a bad job). They were cool with that, they just wanted to play the module. So, OK.

I muddled through, although there were sections where I skimmed the text, told the players one thing, but then had to retract when I read a little later that I'd interpretted something wrong. Nothing serious. I couldn't do much role playing of the characters that I didn't know, and almost everyone at the table had psionic powers. I hate psionics, because they are so broken in game terms. Way too powerful, and I don't know them well enough to say "No, that's not how that works". Oh well, I survived one way or the other, even though the players were able to handle every encounter with little challenge.

OK, so that was Friday. Saturday I wound up not judging at all. I wasn't needed for the first slot, but I could fill out a table of Blackmoor, which I'd had my first experience with the previous weekend. The second slot was "Spray of Blood" with the Tjarks-plus-one table (Matt recruited a guy he'd met earlier in the con). Between the non-Tjarks player's pack of dogs (which we used to set off traps), and some good play, we managed to fight through most of the encounters (it's meant to be like a gladiatorial pit, that's the premise of this module) and get through the exit just before time was called. We did really well compared to some of the stories I'd heard of this mod.

For the final slot on Saturday I was again released from judge duty, so I could play the interactive that they weren't actually expecting to be able to have for the convention. I felt pretty useless for the most part in this, we kept running into huge, tough creatures that Joe (my 8th level ranger) couldn't really do anything against. Rock trolls! Huge earth elemental! Fortunately, while the rest of my party was trying to deal with the elemental, Joe took on a polar bear (a polar bear?, here?!?) and then the druid behind the whole problem (thus explaining the polar bear, the druid's animal companion). A really lucky shot (possible critical roll of 19, followed by a natural 20 to confirm, and a third natural 20 because the judge decided to play the non-rule that a third 20 would be instant death), had Joe finish off the bad guy (bad girl, actually) just before she turned to escape.

Sunday, I ran another game of "Here There Be Dragons", which took the full two slots (including a lunch break), and that was in for Stuffed COWS. Oh, apart from Matt also running "Here There Be Dragons" at the same time (he ran the high level table, I ran the low level), and he had the fun of having a red dragon pick up a character and drop them in lava. Not good for character survivability. At least it wasn't Tony (whose character survived the rest of the con, just shorter).

OK, so that's another really long post and I still haven't gotten to after Christmas. More D&D goodness later. However my next post, tomorrow, I'll have to talk about the bathroom remodelling project that is currently going on. See, you got to the end of the post and you get the preview.

Anyway, since I have it here to remind me, here's my recent RPGA (Role Playing Game Association) activity. This isn't all the D&D I've played recently, but it's most of it:

Player Activity
1/21/2006 - RoseOCon @ Home 41 EMH-5 Gambit at Dreadhold
1/8/2006 - CIRCA 596 Fireseek COR5-02 Voice of Reason
1/1/2006 - Eberron New Year EMH-7 The Delirium Stone
12/30/2005 - Year 595 end VTF4-01 Velverdyva Year 4 Metaregional 1
12/29/2005 - Hooks Rainy Day COR4-18 It Never Rains in Nyrond
12/25/2005 - Lary Home Play 04 Dec 05 COR4-17 The Real Hero Blues
12/18/2005 - Lary Home Play 02 Dec 05 COR4-14 Sympathy for the Baatezu
11/26/2005 - COWS Here They be Dragon day CORS4-02 Here There Be Dragons
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 COR5-12 Return to the Undercity
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 COR5-16 Here Comes the Sun!
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 COR5-13 The Price of Power
10/24/2005 - Oct Games 2 COR4-07 Full Circle to Oblivion

Judge Activity
1/11/2006 - Hooks End VER5-05 Verbobonc Year 5 Regional 5
12/29/2005 - Hooks Last Minute 2005 EMH-6 Blind Man's Hunt
12/9/2005 - Kalamar Barriers Online LKoK 18 - Barriers of Mentality
11/26/2005 - COWS Here They be Dragon day CORS4-02 Here There Be Dragons x3
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 COR5-09 Gateway to Bright Sands
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 COR5-17 Time's Tide on Bright Sands
11/25/2005 - Stuffed COWS 2005 VER5-01 Verbobonc Year 5 Regional 1
11/8/2005 - Hooks Letterbox COR4-08 The Letter
11/2/2005 - Kalamar Mounds Online LKoK-7 Burial Mounds


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