Saturday, May 8, 2021
Sunday, April 11, 2021
|(In-person/remote gaming accouterments circa 2006)|
Our home gaming group has been running exclusively online since April 2020. That has been a boon to eliminate traveling for our friends who live long distances from a game's location (we rotate around) or have moved out of the SF Bay Area.
Now that everyone is getting or anticipates being vaxxed vs Covid we're planning to resume in-person D&D for our June game.
That presents a question: How do we best accommodate during an in-person game the online presence of our gamer friends residing in distant lands?
We last tackled this issue in 2006 about 15 years ago when my pal Kevin from Seattle ran the half drow, half Markab sorcerer "Artaban" in our v3.5 Wilderlands of High Fantasy game. I used a Logitech web cam maybe over I think some Yahoo! application(?) for Kevin to view the game table. Unfortunately the digital voice over the interweb would get garbled if more than one person spoke at a time, so we cannibalized a Motorola speaker phone system connected to a land-line. (Remember when nights and weekends long-distance was free?)
Our old setup is in the photo above. (The web cam is missing. Along the subsequent way Logitech stopped making drivers for it on whatever version of windows I upgraded later.)(Oh snap! That cam is probably still in my XP laptop bag.) Our system worked sporadically for a year or so, I was in the midst of was in the midst of hacking the Panasonic speakerphone to plug into an amplified sound system, when Kevin dropped out of the main game. (While he and I still ran Artaban as side adventures from the main campaign, Kevin could not quite get over his resentment of when Shade Structure's gnome druid assassinated the evil sorcerer. Intra-party violence is never pretty...)
So here we are in 2021 facing similar issue of striving for a workable hybrid in-person/remote game. Except we'll likely have at least 3 PC's remote and about a half-dozen in-person players plus the game ref.
Good news: The tech is way better and the interweb/computers way faster. Also J.A.S. hosts our June "Father's Day" game every year, and he is a LAN tech by trade.
Bad news: Well dang, everyone still talks all at once upon occasion (and typically during really critical game situations).
Plan thus far: J.A.S. is running an online feed through his smart TV and a room mic (using Discord I guess?) and says everyone should be heard. Dr. John PhD suggested having at least one member of the party in-person on a laptop also connected to the remote partiers just to make sure our friends online don't get drowned out.
To be determined: Are we going to web cam the table or is J.A.S. going to run "Theatre of the Mind"-style? Multiple cameras???
We'll see how it goes, at least we know the game will be Saturday June 19th (hey Juneteenth) because that is the Saturday before Father's Day. Probably many more tabletop RPG groups are going to face this type of issue. I will update this post with any dastardly technical plans we come up with and, of course, post a post-mortem after the game itself.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
2021 was supposed to be the inaugural year for DunDraCon's new location at the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara, CA, but the pandemic has put the kibosh on festivities and our traditional Saturday night game was on-the-line. Ha, so glad we got our last DunDraCon in San Ramon, CA in for February 2020 before everything began shutting down.
DunDraCon, the West Coast's longest running gaming convention:
- Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, CA (1976-1977)
- Lemington Hotel in Oakland, CA (1978)
- Villa Hotel in Oakland, CA (1979-1980)
- Dunfey Hotel in San Mateo, CA (1981)
- Hyatt Hotel, Oakland, CA (1982 for DunDraClone, and 1983-1991)
- Marriott Hotel, San Ramon, CA (1992-2020)
- Marriott Hotel, Santa Clara, CA (coming in 2022)
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
|(Wilderlands imposed on Ghostring)|
My present Judges Guild Wilderlands campaign has been running for 15 years, and has direct linkages back through our "Blipping" campaign running between 1988-2005 and somewhat looser connections from our earliest campaigns there and elsewhere from as far back as 1979. (Ha, however, in a sort of "Groundhog's Day," every Wilderness campaign restarted the jumpstart year of 4433.)
Unfortunately, fast-forward back to nowadays after Bat in the Attic Games announced in February 2020 it would suspend all future dealings with Judges Guild over a series of racist and antisemitic posts made by Judges Guild owner Bob Bledsaw II, and it has become complicated to support the old-school brilliance of these Wilderlands works by the Senior Bob Bledsaw, who passed in 2008 and is unconnected to the present drama and controversy.
I sort of pulled a fast one on our shared referee "New Old Weird World" campaign and slipped the Wilderlands into a world map there, albeit in a Tekumellian, post-apocalyptic scene more than 20,000 years in the future.
Basically, I had found some time back a Judges Guild adventure for the sci-fi game Traveller call "Marooned on Ghostring." The setting is a planetary system missing from records of the galactic Imperial government, and several (but not all) of the attributes are similar to the system of Ghenrek IV, the planet where The Wilderlands exist.
I ran with this information adopting what I needed and changing the rest to fit the world into the Imperial empire of the far future.
Ha, so myself, I have been running essentially one campaign all this time. Everything is sought to fit (not always smoothly) within an ongoing story of our group's adventures where I've refereed.
- Furthest back, circa year -30,000 BCCC, Agent Smith (High Fantasy campaign) from an alternate or far-away galaxy future had dabbled in forbidden arts and ends up on Ghenrek IV during the Uttermost War between the intergalactic Elder Alliance and the forces of a single Markab prince from The Void. Smith is attacked by "Grey Goo" (a nanotech swarm) and only saved when Elder Alliance engineers transform Smith into a cyborg. Smith is secretly left behind on Ghenrek IV when the Elder Alliance abandons their starbase there under terms of a cease fire with the Markrab Prince.
- During the year 4433 several large masses of combatants ranged across the Wilderlands (High Fantasy campaign). A humanoid and giant force that sieged City State of the Invincible Overlord. Githyanki sent by their Lich Queen to establish a massive hatchery helping combat future Mind Flayer domination. The traitorous Drow Necromancer who plotted with the World Emperor to field an undead army. And finally the undead horde released from Mount Doom across the Wild North above Valon.
- Also during 4433 an adventuring party (High Fantasy campaign) resisting the Githyanki incursion assembled the Tripartate of All Evil, inadvertently releasing the dreaded elder god, Tharzadu'un. As the elder god attempts to access a hidden portal to escape from this prime material plane, a massive magical-thermonuclear explosion occurs and the party/world (?) only survives through intervention from Codex of the Infinite Planes. This adventuring party is soon after imprisoned in a stasis field as when they moved to defeat the Drow necromancer.
- At some point by 4434 the Baron of Blackmoor sends a group of adventurers (Blipping #2 campaign) to acquire what he believes to be a powerful weapon to defeat the various forces threatening Blackmoor. Unfortunately the "weapon" activates "The City of Gods," a terraforming installation left over from the Elder Alliance/Markab days which was never put into use. The Baron activates terraforming force beams to manipulate flows in the molten core of Ghenrek IV altering the planet's tilt, spin, magnetic field, gravity, etc. and creates a world-wide apocalypse.
- The adventurers (Blipping #2 campaign), after messing with a faulty Mind Flayer time ship, are deposited sometime around year 8400 in the northern post-apocalyptic dry barren waste. They are only able to escape back in time after discovering the Comeback Inn situated on a barren outcropping of magical black rock. The inn has a somewhat randomized time portal in its basement. This is how the adventurers meet the Baron of Blackmoor in 4433.
- After these adventurers (Blipping #2 campaign) fell through an interplanar transtemporal "rabbit hole" into an alternate prime material plane where they meet Matsuhara Yatsuya, a Time Lord, who sends the party through using his TARDIS to a number of alternate far, far future scenarios, which seem to ultimately resolve in either a "Matrix"-like AI generated artificial existence, or a fiery ecological disaster of acid rains and marauding demons.
- The adventurers (Blipping #2 campaign)are abandoned in the Wilderlands approximately in year 5,433 where there is only a barren, icy wasteland populated by cultish white elves who are in transdimensional communication with Githyanki. Ultimately, they discovers a Githyanki plan to infiltrate the Mind Flayer home planet, a discworld.
- In our latest campaign (New Old Weird World campaign)adventurers are back on Ghenrek IV circa 25,019, utilizing the Ghostring world map to provide new terrain, and the planet is still tilted from the terraforming 20,000 years previously which has altered the original climate.
Despite the recent drama of Bob Bledsaw's son, the Wilderlands for me continues to be our longest running campaign setting which still pays dividends to our imagination.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
DunDraCon, the west coast's longest-running game convention, is still planning for an in-person convention for year 45 in 2021 (ha, well kinda year 46, but that is another story). DunDraCon announced Wednesday (9/9/20) that if they are forced to postpone the convention, there will not be any sort of Virtual or Online DunDraCon.
However, they did set up a new feature, the Online Event database for event leaders (really anyone) to post their online games, podcasts, webinars, Youtube channels... as long as it is related to gaming.
An "Open Gaming" database for online games and other events. You can add events here.
There are only a few events so far, but you can check for gaming events here.
Keep checking for game updates (there will probably be many if the convention is cancelled) and maybe put yourself out there to run a game or two.
Saturday, September 5, 2020
I have been intrigued for the past few months to run a sand box campaign in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess early modern weird historical fantasy milieu. While refereeing our games I have made brief ventures into alternative timescapes, but always part of a larger, sword and sorcery medieval fantasy campaign. In Lamentations weird historical fantasy the scene is primarily set in actual early modern 17th century Earth. It is an era of post-renaissance scientific revolution, commercial exploration, colonialization, and exploitation, and some profoundly devastating military conflicts often based around religious or quasi-religious differences.
Mechanically, the basic impact from the early modern setting is the addition of rules for simple firearms such as the flintlock. Other than that there is certainly enough mysterious and uncharted territory (at least from the European perspective) in Africa, the far east, the Arctic, and in the Americas.
In terms of a campaign setting map, I discovered this awesome 17th century atlas, Atlas Maior published between 1662 and 1672, which provides very cool worldwide maps. I just struggled a bit with how to initiate the campaign in a region and timeframe where I could maximize in both a spatial and a temporal sand box the potential incorporation of Lamentation adventures already extant.
So, what I fashioned is a spreadsheet of Lamentation adventures and supplements that includes product number, title, year, location, some locations notes, any recommended PC level, and (for giggles) the product release date. While I purposefully attempted to avoid spoilers, this is really a resource for game referees and not players.
My hope is that with the adventures outlined I can pick a time and a spot for a campaign that will maximize my use of the standard Lamentations products which in turn lets me know where I may be filling in encounters with my own home brew material.