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Critical Role resumes tonight (just in case you didn't know) in a brand new campaign with all new characters. I'll be watching it on Alpha, using my same personae.
We have no idea who will be who, or what they will be or where they will start, but the conjecture is strong.
Once the show has aired, please use Spoiler tags for any content that needs it. As the show is airing, feel free to discuss it! There is a spoiler tag alert in the header and I'll make a big sign below. No reason to use spoilers, but I can link to specific episodes if people need to skip something and come back to it. Maybe we won't say too much about previous episodes that way. Who knows... Otherwise, bring on the popcorn and lets enjoy a good show!!!
Be Ye Warned! There Be Spoilers Below!
The Silhouettes have been Revealed...
Posting on Grump's computer, not my Fire. I need to have more than one sentence paragraphs! (I almost posted as The Auld Grump because I hadn't logged Dennis out before logging me in. )
From time to time Grump has told me that he has literally dreamed a scenario, and I never really believed him.
But I told Grump that one of his Christmas presents this year was going to be running a game so he could play for a change.
Then I realized that I had NO FREAKING CLUE what I was going to run, and almost asked if he would like to run the game WITH me instead.
Then Saturday night I had a dream where I was running a game, directing a movie, and watching the movie/game and suddenly I knew what I was going to run!
Grump left out how WICKED AWESOME it is to dream an adventure. Suddenly I know why Grump runs games. I woke up from the dream because I WANTED TO WRITE IT DOWN!
And it was REALLY nice to have my subconscious send me a message in something other than a nightmare. It sent me the solution!
Wow, that was still a lot of one sentence paragraphs!
Strangely, I dreamed I was running/directing/watching an Eberron adventure, even though until yesterday, I had never read any Eberron material, just knew what Grump had told me.
Eberron is actually pretty awesome, and is NOTHING like Forgettable Realms or Greyhawk. It is its own place, and holds together better than any setting I have read before.
The dream was a mash up of Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Arc, National Treasure, and Maltese Falcon. Some of it was narrated by the Grump as Humphrey Bogart.
The idea is that the PCs start out hired by somebody to track down an artifact that will help the gods manifest on Eberron, instead of the hands off approach that is used in the setting. (Eberron even has atheists!)
In the dream the introductory patron was this fat naked man that was sometimes a silver dragon, meeting the players in a bath house, while nubile young women scrubbed him. A fat silver dragon, using the human shape to conduct business.
Part of that is as a dragon, being naked really does not bother him. And part of it is to make the player characters uncomfortable, so they would not spend too much time wondering what he is really up to.
And what the players don't know at the time is that sometimes he EATS one of those nubile young women.
He starts as their mentor and patron, both for the players and those young women, but he is really REALLY evil, and wants to use the artifact as a way of controlling the Draconic Prophecy, fulfilling its tenets in such a way that he decides what it means. The women are cultists, but do not know that he is just using (and eating) them. They literally mean nothing to him beyond his own convenience.
Rescuing the damsels from the dragon will probably be one of the adventures, at least if I know the way Grump thinks. (He WILL try to rescue them!)
Even after the players learn that the dragon is the bad guy, they will need a patron, and I need to come up with several, good, bad, academic, and mercenary.
Travel in the adventure will be free as long as they have a patron, and EVERY time they are traveling, something happens, or sometimes THEY happen to somebody else! I picture one of those maps where you see the characters' travels being highlighted with a colored line, like in those old movies.
And the scene where Indiana Jones is racing his horse alongside a train, then jumping from the horse on top of the train.
In the civilized areas travel will be by lightning rail, and when going to less civilized areas travel will be by either ship or airship.
Trying to keep one thing Grump has told me over and over. "An adventure is not the story. The adventure is the framework for the story that the players tell." Don't come up with a single way to handle or solve a problem, come up with three, and expect the players to come up with four, five, and six.
Doing this like the old serials and writing each part while running the previous part. I have a general shape for the story, and an idea of where it is going. And most of all, even if the dragon DOES get the artifact, it won't do what he thinks it will do. The dragon is just as much a pawn of the REAL villain as the players start out as the dragon's!
One of the things I like about Eberron, more than the Pathfinder world, is that the place is designed for globe trotting, and can handle a plot that covers more than one continent, let alone country.
I am sure that Grump's DMing dreams are more coherent than mine was, but it was WONDERFUL! I went from worrying about the game to really REALLY looking forward to it! I am actually EXCITED about this!
SO! I am asking for ideas for potential player patrons! One is already in the game, the Wayfinder Foundation, pretty much the Pathfinder Society by a different name. (Or the Pathfinder Society is the one with the different name, since Eberron came first.) I am picturing the leader of the Wayfinder Foundation a lot like the explorer in Up! But I will look up what he supposed to be like before committing to that.
I’ve been running D&D games for 30 plus years and occasionally someone will ask to play a character with psionic abilities. I usually resist allowing this; I don’t want peanut butter in my chocolate. I view psionics as a science fiction component rather than fantasy, the theory that science fiction is a form of fantasy not withstanding. I generally prefer my fantasy to focus on magic and medieval European settings, and leave other historical cultures, aliens or technology out. Over the years I’ve mellowed and come to accept that players just want to enjoy the fantasy of taking on a role they do not (or cannot) partake of in real life. So I’ve come to accept ninja, psion or steam punk peanut butter in my European medieval fantasy chocolate.
A bit more than fifteen years ago I ran a D&D 3e game set in the Diablo 2 video game world of Sanctuary, using setting and adventure supplements published by Wizards of the Coast. Included in the setting book were rules for the Diablo 2 character classes. I allowed a mix of D&D and D2 characters, but required the player to chose either the D&D spell system or the D2 spell point system, choosing spells from only from the appropriate list. One of the players chose the D2 Necromancer and used the Diablo 2 spell list and spell point system.
This player was a bit of a power gamer and focused on how to maximize the spell point pool, basically never running out of spell points. The character was able to always contribute in a meaningful was to every encounter. I’ve never been a fan of the 15-minute adventure day, so I usually enforce travel time and backtracking, with the commiserate chance for creatures rising the alarm, ambuscades or random encounters. The spell point pool this character had helped this character be less of an liability in these circumstances, but for large or long fights resource management was still important. I was struck by how the spell point system and the psionic power point system were the same, just using different wrappers (terminology).
After the end of that campaign we were looking for a new setting, and the magazines Dragon, Dungeon and Polyhedron did a cross over adventure called “Incursion!”, featuring Githyanki invaders. It was a precursor to the modern Adventure Paths, and it included psionics. After having run a spell point system in the D2 campaign I was more open to psionics and bought the psionics handbook. Some of players had their characters take levels in psionic classes, and it worked out fine for most.
The same player that played the necromancer wanted to play a Psion, and was keen on creating new powers. His approach was with psionics anything that one could think of could be accomplished with the mind, as opposed to magic which was limited by codified spells, rules and tradition, and relied on an outside source of power. My approach was that both systems use intellect or force of personality to access and control another source of power; the mind is not powerful enough to affect the world directly. We clashed a bit as I was using existing powers to set the power level and point cost of new powers and he wanted to create custom powers with specific effects, so limited in application that he felt the level and point cost should be lower. He was of the opinion that psionics should not be limited, essentially viewing psionics as superior to magic in every way. My concern was that if psionics were always the “better choice”, why would anyone ever play a spell-caster?
Around the time we were finishing that campaign, D&D 4e came out and we switched over to that system. I won’t go into my opinion of 4th edition here other than to say I think it is a fine game system, just not D&D. The new daily, encounter and at-will power system precluded spell or power points and I gradually returned to my dim view of psionics. I’m of the general opinion that there is no need for competing power systems in the same game, such as spell points as opposed to spell slots, or psionics to magic. It is difficult if not impossible to balance to power systems across 20 plus character levels. Melee combat and magic systems are difficult enough, but adding another system will only make it even more difficult.
The Vancian spell system has serious flaws, but its history and well established structure provides built in limitations and guidelines on creating new spells. That same structure is not unjustifiably viewed as restrictive by some, but inserting another, subjectively “better” system will imbalance the overall game even more. If and when psionics are added to 5e, I hope they reconsider power points and stick with a Vancian system. Or rewrite magic with spell points. Keep the peanut butter and chocolate separate. Sorry fans of Reeeses Peanut Butter Cups.
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