Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From the other side of the Screen

+Tim Shorts commented on his three favorite campaigns. I was involved in all three/four for of them.

3. Arthurian Mixed with the Crusades
In the early 90s Tim started what I call in my mind fits like a glove campaigns. In one of these campaign he would make a character for you to play. What took this to the next level is that he is really good at guessing not only what people would be interested in playing but what they are capable of playing. Note this campaign was played using GURPS 3rd Edition

In this campaign I played Sir Claudius Hawk a charismatic Roman knight. Which was ironic because in real life I am not a smooth operator by any means. But this character I quickly got a handle on and playing him was a lot of fun.

What made Hawk memorable is that during the first half of the campaign, I was undoubtedly the "good guy". I made friends easily and the things I did were the right things for the right reasons. This frustrated my friend Dave to no end. He played a Knight Templar, his character was harsh, fanatical, dictatorial, and unpopular. And his plans almost never worked and mine nearly always did. The only reason Dave's Templar didn't buy the farm in the first few sessions because his ally and fellow Templar, played by his wife, Robin, was highly competent and was able to mitigate the worse of his failures.

The midpoint of the campaign was shaping up to be a confrontation between myself and a leading Templar Vander Gothridge, Yeah now you know that Tim's publishing company's name from one of his favorite NPCs. It built over multiple sessions and then ... well ... Sir Hawk made a very bad decision. A very bad decision indeed. I decided that situation warranted the assassination of  Gothridge. I set it up all up, it went to hell, and the assassination attempt failed. And funny thing is that neither did myself or allies were caught or suffered any immediate or long term consequences.

Except for one tiny important little detail. That it totally violated my Code of Honor and everything that I was fighting for.  And because this was Arthur stuff and not Game of Thrones stuff this meant Hawk gained some major bad karma.

And to make this even more memorable is that Tim, as the referee, didn't do a damn thing. From that moment on Sir Hawk life was a struggle, my plans kept falling apart, my dice rolls started to suck, Dave's Templar's plan started to succeed. In the end it worked out as Hawk was truly repentant of his actions. However the last half of the game was very challenging to say the list.

2. Torrin the Red Hand 
I played Ambrose, the priest of Mitra. This was also a GURPS 3rd edition campaign.  None of the stuff I want to try out with the character  was doable because the campaign was revealed to be a survivalist campaign in a demon haunted world in the first session. Once I wrapped my head around the unexpected direction, I had fun poking around the world. I was basically support for Torrin the Red Hand.

2. Slice Handler
I didn't come into this campaign until the very end when I was invited to make a character to accompany Tim's character Slice Handler. This was one of the last ADnD 1st edition campaigns the three of us, Tim, Dwayne and myself, were involved with in the late 80s. At that time Dwayne had a habit of using X5 Temple of Death as the climatic adventure of his campaign. Tim had experienced this several times before and failed to conquered the module. This was my first time. I made a high level magic-user, probably named Thil the Cowled to accompany Slice-Handler.

I don't remember much of the adventure except for the very last encounter. We just defeated the big bad guys when on top of the alter was a major artifact of evil. I think the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Up to that point I was rarely a player. I was one of the guys always refereeing stuff. When I played I generally cooperated with everybody.

Except this time, I thought to myself, I am done with being mister nice guy. I am going to go dark side. So I took possession of the artifact and claimed as my own. Commanding Slice Handler and our hireling to bow to me as their new lord and master. Well Slice Handler was having none of that. And the battle that ensued was epic. Of course Tim infamous d20 'Whimpy' managed to hurt Thil  badly, but my spell hurt him worse especially when he could not roll a saving rolls worth anything.

And then he was done, out of everything and anything. And I had still had spells. I literally cackled after my turn roleplayed something like "Slice, don't bother bowing to me, nothing I am just going to kill you."

I can still see Tim slumping down his chair as despair took hold. Not only he was going to die from my character, yet against Dwayne's Temple of Death bested him. Then I swear his face lite up like a 100 watt light bulb. He stabbed at his sheet and I have this! Dwayne I have this! And Tim shoved his sheet over. Dwayne looked it over and smiled "Yes you do. I remember that and still hanging off your ear."

Now I was trying to figure what the hell was going on when Tim said. "I rip my dagger earring off of my ear and throw it at Thil." Apparently it was a earring in the shape of the dagger that when thrown turned into a full sized dagger. Of course he rolls a natural 20 got to use the critical hit chart he was using. It didn't matter as his normal damage was more than enough to down Thil.

I was irked but not overly so. It was a well played battle and I got to see one of Tim's characters finally beat the Temple of Death.

1. Dragon Rises
This took place in the early 90s using GURPS 3rd Edition. We were all few years beyond college with jobs, spare time, and no family yet. All three of us and our group were hitting our stride as gamers. This was the time period when Tim, Dwayne, and a friend named Wes (I wasn't involved) played a eight man game of Illuminati and fooled the other five players into believing they were chance met strangers. It was well into the late game with two players knocked when one of the remaining three realized that Tim, Dwayne, and Wes were actually old gaming buddies and that they been working together the whole game. They tried to band together but it was too late.

The Dragon Rises campaign was one of the first GURPS campaign where I put everything I been trying to do with sandbox together. It wasn't perfect by any means but just about everything I do now was put into play during the campaign.

It was quite lengthy too in three distinct phases. The first phase centered around Dwayne's character Captain William Endril and his ship. Tim character was Draco-lindus and was the leader of the various mercenary hireling. Pure and simple Endril was a slave raider out of City-State. He would take the ship out, I used Harn's Pilot Almanac for the rules. One memorable incident was that during a slave raid Tim's character's Draco-lindus got beaned by a frying pan wielded by viking housewife.

This raid ended in a bad mistake on my part. Dwayne is a master at game rules and I was having trouble keeping up with his plans. In short they were all succeeding. So in a fit of frustration, I blue bolted him by sending a demon after his ship. There was a in-game explanation in the form of a viking sorcerer they pissed off in-game legitimately but it was just an excuse for an arbitrary decision.

The fair decision would have been for the sorcerer to attack but do in a way that conserves his resources. An attack of lesser demons. When that fails then he would escalated. This would have better because while Endril's raids were hitting hard all he knew that they would be is a bunch of ordinary and lucky raiders. Only after an attack that should have wiped them out didn't would he expended all his resources to bring the big guns. And this would have the benefit of giving the players a chance to respond to the fact now they pissed off somebody with magical powers.

But even with my poor judgment I wasn't going be a total dick and go after the characters The target was the ship. So while there was little they could keep the demon from tearing the ship apart, they group was strong enough to beat the creature off after they shipwrecked. To say that Dwayne took it well is an understatement. The campaign ended with Endril going mad and dragging the pieces of his boat back onto shore to try to rebuild it.  Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks later Tim and I were talking and he told me he wanted to play Draco-lindus again. He really liked the character. Due to everybody schedule at the time it would be just a solo campaign for Tim. This portion of the campaign started at the beach at the site of the shipwreck. Most of the crew and troops survived along with two mages that Endril hired. The group had to cross 100 miles of hostile Viking territory before they could reach the frontier of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord.

What followed was an epic worthy of the March of the Ten Thousand. It led to Draco-lindus being betrayed by the two mages but ulimately he was able to reach City-State with a dozen or so survivors out of a force of a 100 or so.  The session after Tim showed up with names for every one of them. The rest of this phase saw Draco-lindus maintain his mercenary company and get involved in the politics of City-State. What ended it was not a hiatus but the return of Dwayne as William Endril.

When Draco-lindus formed his company he hired some new recruits. One of them was a person known as Greymantle. Greymantle worse a mask to conceal his feature. Draco was skeptical but decided to give him a break. Greymantle proved himself and became a trusted member of the group.

Except later it turned out that he was a she. Not just any lady, Greymantle was the adopted daughter of a powerful Duke of City-State. For a time this proved not to be an issue, but then things came to a head. In a move I didn't expect, Draco-lindus decided to kidnap her adopted father while the two were in a parley. Draco-lindus then used the Duke as a hostage in order to gain passage out of City-State territory into civil war torn Viridstan. Also complicating matter was the fact that Draco and Greymantle were falling in love.

It was during the whole Duke as hostage mess that Dwayne returned to the campaign. So along with Draco's mercenary company, Endril also went into exile.

The final phase of the campaign was pretty epic. It involved helping out Robin Hood err Michael Green. Winning a barony, time travelling, travelling to the evil god Set's home plain to free King Arthur err Prince Artos becoming silver dragon riders, and along the way getting married. It ended with Draco-lindus conquering a kingdom in cooperation with the Invincible Overlord of City-State and become a Duke. Oh and Greymantle's father forgave Draco for the whole hostage thing.

Endril prospered as well. While nominally Draco's right hand man. He estabilshed a new port opening up a new trade route from City-State to Viridstan along with a secret spy network to rival the Overlord's Black Lotus, He won the heart of a elf maiden, and became the wealthiest man in City-State. Oh yes he replaced his ship too, on the Overlord's dime. Dwayne made sure that happened as part of the treaty that made Draco a Duke under the Overlord.

So now you heard what happened on the other side of the screen.


Gothridge Manor said...

I'd forgotten some of those details. Very cool.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

very cool!

I know it is the ultimate in geek obsession, but I do like hearing about other people's games.

Part of our shared culture.

CritSystem said...

Allow me to add to this story. When the Demon attacked the ship we had 4 hired mages. Their spells bounce off the Blue Demon. (from gurps supers) He snacthed one of the mages up his hand encompased his chest. The critical hit I did to the hand holding him did not even leave a mark. The demon squeezed and the mages arms and legs popped off.
Then the demon impaled the next mage on a horn. I screamed swing for the eyes. Then scored a hit on the demons eye. Rolled max damage and again not even a scracth. The demon then ripped apart one of the stone golems we had purchased. Seeing this was the a true no win ordered the abandon ship and then when the demon had no more targets he destoryed the ship.

CritSystem said...


here is the link to the demon summoned. Now at this point to be fair we were about 150 point characters and hard to control. but a 1000 point gurps super. I guess i am no James T Kirk the Kobayashi Maru kicked my ass.

CritSystem said...

The ship was not replaced. The two merchants Travis and Nestor had delcared William dead and stole his wealth. William returned to city sate and sought them out to regain his wealth. After a short failed attempt Draco showed up and shoved them into a safe in the wall. He had discovered the two mages who betrayed them were employ of the merchants.

CritSystem said...

As Draco and Endril traveled you failed to mention the every thing the Draco did had huge Consequences. Not to Draco but to William. William had taken over the merchants business in City and had his wealth again. Draco kidnaped a duke and city state took everything we controled in city state. Endril set up a new busines in Gorma Draco burnt down a tower and we had to flee Gorma. This goes on and on until the final time Draco is taking the test to be a Dragon rider making will roles lots of them. Until he finaly fails and BAM you say "Enril passes out" I look across the table and ask why do i pass out I am not even taking the test. Yes William got rich in the end but he lost 5 or 6 fortunes before that.

CritSystem said...

Money was not all the was lost being Dracos friend. In a quest to get him a powerful sword to lead the armies of Mitra we invaded one of the towers controling the Malestorm. There Endril left a good portion of his calf muscles to a chair. In the time travel quest William and Draco met Alcambros a Saint in our times. I asked him for the simple wooden symbol of mitra around his neck. (thinking cha ching selling this back in our time) Alcambros gave it me and I put it on. Draco touched it and it went around his neck. BAM defeated again. Then we went into the sunken city of Virdistan to recover the book of PLANAR travel to get to the relam of Set. Endril wound up with a gem in his chest keeping him alive because he took the spells that targeted Draco. So even after the ship Endril was still a kicked dog. I think I took it extermely well.

CritSystem said...

Now for the cool stuff Draco and Endril slayed a giant turtle dragon the was a guardian of Set's realm. After Draco tried to ram his sword into the turtled and even his huge powered weapon bounced off we surrenedered. I ask the great turtle dragon if i could ride on his head instead his shell and he agreed. Now his head is a tavern in city state because I read from the book of planes and me and a 30 foot radius went to city state and crashed into a bar. Told the owner sorry and he could keep the head how mant taverns are made from a giant skull.

CritSystem said...

As far as my favorite campiagn it would have to be the one you ran with D&D mass combat. We spent hours and hours fighting with mass combat rules to fight of hoardes of dragons and other nasties. As we finished tired wore out and happy to be alive having beat the hoardes back. You left us with the image of the next wave 10 times what we just faced and said good job beating the probing attack.