Category Archives: Role-Playing Games Stuff

I’m a gamer geek, and I’m proud of it.

I played my first role-playing game when I was nine, and was instantly hooked. In the 35+ years since then, I’ve played many different systems, including every version of Dungeons & Dragons, most Palladium system games, Shadowrun, Paranoia, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. No matter what I played, though, I always came back to good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons. That all changed, however, when the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was released. I can’t describe how excited I am by an update of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules, instead of the completely unnecessary rewrite and dumbing-down of 4th Edition. Farewell D&D, I’m afraid we’ve grown too far apart to have any chance to reconcile this relationship.

I’ve also GMed most of these systems. My personal favourite campaigns have been Dragonlance: Age of Mortals, Planescape, and Robotech (and hey, who doesn’t like a campaign where you get to stomp around in 50-foot tall walking engines of mass destruction and blow shit up?).

And if you’re reading this and seriously considering sending me a message about how role-playing games are evil and how by playing them I’m promising my immortal soul to Satan, please go ahead and do so. I love having emails to make fun of with my fellow players.

Anyways, use the “RPG Stuff” menu on the right to navigate through the various role-playing-related articles.

“Hello, my name is…” (SLUUURP!)

Donny’s character had died. Nothing out of the ordinary, no DM gunning for the characters (in other words, Ed wasn’t DM-ing). Just bad rolls at a bad time. So, Donny started making up a new character. He got his hands on a copy of Oriental Adventures and started rolling up a kensai. Don’t ask what a kensai was doing in Dragonlance, Ian was the DM.

Donny was practically getting hard over all the stuff a kensai can do. Having played one myself, I can attest that they rocked in Second Edition. But Donny was enjoying it so much that he was showing all the cool abilities to Jason. Bad move, because Jason agreed that they were cool abilities. In fact, they were so cool that Kale should have those abilities! As Donny’s new kick-ass kensai introduced himself to the rest of the party, Kale activated the Bloodstone of Fistandantilus while shaking hands, and that was the end of the character.

According to the rules, the Bloodstone cannot be used in this manner, but it was so funny at the time that Ian let it go. Unfortunately, Donny was less than impressed that two hours of his time had been wasted (time creating the character, then waiting for an opportunity to introduce the character). It wasn’t as funny years later when Donny finally admitted this was the reason he stopped playing.

“I stomp on him.”

Paul was having a hard time in my Robotech game. Playing a hard-ass character, combined with some really bad die rolls at some really bad times, frequently found him in conflict with the other characters. Agreeing with him that the character was beyond redemption, I took pity on Paul and we discussed ways to have the character bow out gracefully. Then this was dropped in my lap.

The squad had been sent to the RDF Accelerated Training Program, which is pretty much like modern-day war games, except in mecha instead of tanks. In one of the final exercises of the program, the characters were getting beaten up pretty badly, by a bunch of people on motorcycles no less! They were too small and too fast for the 40-foot plus robots to hit easily. Paul had the great idea to stomp on one of the riders, and successfully scored the hit. The fight ground to a halt. It slowly dawned in on Paul that he had just stomped, not a rebel, but a fellow RDF member pretending to be a rebel for the training mission! Needless to say, not much was left of the poor fellow but red paste.

Paul’s character was court-marshalled and railroaded out of the RDF and into a military stockade, mostly because of the rest of the squad’s rather dubious “testimony.” Where’s the “bowing out gracefully” in that, you ask? It came days later (in game time), when Paul’s character was broken out of the stockade and recruited by the squad’s nemesis, Matthew Burke, where he proceeded to become an even bigger thorn in the characters’ sides than before as an NPC.

Just say the name “Matthew Burke” around Havok some time and watch the reaction.

“In the name of Maria Rathas, vengeance is mine!”

Sometimes, random dice rolls work out more perfectly than any DM plan. This was one of those occasions.

In Havok’s Ravenloft game, Jay’s character was magically induced to seek out vengeance for a dead NPC named Maria Rathas. After some time, the party eventually caught up to the priest who had killed her. The party hid behind a wall, discussing their plan to get him. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by about 20 undead, so wading in swinging seemed out of the question. Suddenly, Jay’s character stood up, screamed “In the name of Maria Rathas, vengeance is mine!” drew back on his bow and fired. Jay rolled a natural 20, which by our house rules at the time was automatically double damage. Then he rolled max damage, a six. Twelve points of screaming vengeance (not bad for a low-level Second Edition fighter) hit the priest, knocking him off his altar and leaving him with 1 hit point.

Welcome to Pandemonium.

I still don’t know if this was intentional on Ken’s part or not, but it was pretty damn funny regardless. Ken was DM-ing his first game ever. In Planescape! Not exactly where most people would choose to begin their DM-ing career, but he was damn good at it. (Heck, I still have trouble keeping everything in Planescape straight.)

Our party headed into the plane of Pandemonium on a mission. I forget the mission, but it’s not an integral part of this story. Echo, my character, had been to Pandemonium before; the rest of the party had not. Havok’s first character, Apok, had accompanied Echo on her first sojourn, but he was dead now (the character, not Havok).

Echo tried to prepare the party for the unusual conditions of Pandemonium, but they weren’t listening. Marc’s character, Käsemädchen, was creating far too much of her usual white noise for anyone else to do anything constructive.

So the party headed off to Pandemonium, woefully unprepared. As they headed through the portal out of Sigil, they were immediately thrown off-kilter by the gravity of the first tunnel they ended up in. Half of the party, including Echo, ended up seemingly pinned to the ceiling, while the rest of the party were on the floor. While the rest of the party figured out that if they jumped high enough or climbed the walls they would end up in the other gravity field, Echo simply picked up and carried on, walking on what had arbitrarily been termed the ceiling.

Echo wasn’t known for her glowing personality, and while she was respected by the rest of the party, they didn’t like her much. (Although the rest of the party preferred Echo to Käsemädchen because Echo was reliable, unlike Marc’s flighty wild mage.) Heck, sometimes I didn’t like her. So, the snide comments and under-the-breath derisions started. Kasey, especially, was getting into it. Marc and his partner-in-crime Chuck even started in on me, outside of the game. Havok, having had a character in Pandemonium before, kept everything in-game. Echo didn’t care what they said, because she knew it was pointless to try to fight the effects of Pandemonium; you just have to roll with them.

About half-an-hour later, the gravity shifted and the rest of the characters were unceremoniously dumped on their heads at Echo’s feet.

“I cut his throat.” (“Okay, he’s dead.”) “But I didn’t want to kill him!”

Nobody could ever call Sandra certain names with a straight face. Names like “brainy,” or “smart” could never be used to describe her, at least seriously. “Sentient” is even pushing it. “Slightly above dirt” pretty much sums it up. But, she’s pretty good in bed, so we put up with her. The fact that Havok, Jay and myself (and very likely others in the group) can all attest to that should tell you about her moral fibre. But we’re talking about her intelligence here, not her promiscuity.

Jay was GM-ing our first-ever Palladium RPG game. Reading the rules, Havok had become enamoured with the “Miscreant” alignment. Several others, including myself and Sandra, decided to try out some of the evil alignments for a change. It was havok, no pun intended, from the get-go.

Havok’s character had been riding Sandra’s for the last several days (not that way, get your mind out of the gutter). So Sandra decided she wanted to get back at Havok, put a little fear of the gods into his character. So, she announced one night, while her character was standing guard, that she was going to slit his character’s throat. Subtle. To Jay’s credit, he tried to give Havok’s character every chance, but she managed to make one prowl roll after the other, and eventually was standing right next to him. “I cut his throat,” she said, smirking at Havok. Jay, unable to think of anything else to do, just replied “Okay, he’s dead.” The look on Sandra’s face was remarkably reminiscent of a deer caught in the headlights, as the realization of what she’d done sunk in. “But, but,” she protested, “I DIDN’T WANT TO KILL HIM!” Evidently, Sandra felt that a slit throat would be a non-lethal wound.

“I turn and fire.”

Amber and Kelly Scotsdale were Juicer sisters played by myself and Havok in one of Jay’s Rifts campaigns. They were supernatural Juicers (Amber was a Maxi-Killer, Kelly was a Dragon Juicer; an interesting dichotomy itself) who pretty much ran roughshod over everything and everyone in their way. Until they died in a relatively mundane way. No, Jay didn’t put them up against monsters they couldn’t handle (that’s my specialty). They weren’t poisoned or crushed by heavy objects or murdered in their sleep. Nope, it was one bad decision that killed them.

The sisters had just arrived in the New West, and came across a recently abandoned gas station, with gas still in the big storage tanks. Two creatures (forget what) attacked them, and they separated during the fight. Amber was still fighting hand-to-hand under the big roof, Kelly and her opponent moved up the street. Kelly felt that, now that she was outside of the gas station, it was safe to open fire on the creature. So, she un-slung her grenade launcher, turned and fired. And Havok rolled a natural 1. The grenade sailed into the middle of the gas station, detonating and blowing up the gas station with it. Now, the explosion and subsequent fire were SDC damage, so physically Amber was in little or no trouble. But, fire means no oxygen, and she began to suffocate. She couldn’t get her bearings to find her way out and collapsed from asphyxiation. Kelly, horrified at what had just happened, ran into the conflagration, but couldn’t find Amber, and herself succumbed to the fire.

Just goes to show that nobody’s unstoppable.

Amulet of proof against turning?

The continuing adventures of Ed vs. Jasmine. There are many important “rules” to DMing; one really important one is “know what your players are capable of.” Ed couldn’t seem to remember that rule.

The party had gotten pretty cocky by this time and Ed was once again determined to put us in our place. Which, as I explained before, means he wanted us all dead. I won’t go into the fact that eight mummies appeared pretty much out of the middle of nowhere (oops, I think I just did), because Jasmine quickly dispatched them with a Turn Undead roll. The mummies shuffled off back to wherever they came from, while Ed shot more daggers from his eyes. The group set up camp for the night, quickly forgetting about the mummies. We were woken up in the middle of the night by Jay’s character “Tark” (we still haven’t stopped teasing him about that name) yelling that the mummies were back. Seems that when they got back to their lair, the donned Amulets of Proof Against Turning and, the turning effect dispelled, they returned to get us. Guess they forgot them the first time they ventured out after us. Try finding the “Amulet of Proof Against Turning” in the second edition DMG. Here’s a hint: there’s no such item.

Turned out that Ed should have picked something tougher than mummies because we took them out with little difficulty. The fight lead to two other very funny moments, though. The first was during the fight, when Kevin’s character “Maria” cast expand on the bandages of one of the mummies and turned it into a giant puffball. A giant, flammable puffball. The second was after the fight. One of the mummies had scored a hit on Jasmine. The touch of a mummy rots organic material; fortunately, Jasmine was wearing plate mail armour. So Ed ruled that it rotted the undergarments and padding under the armour. Whatever. After the battle, Ed asked us each what our characters were doing. Maria was poking through the remains for valuables. Tark was scanning for other attackers. Ken’s character, whose name escapes me, was praying for thanks (the character was a home-made Wicca class). “And what’s Jasmine doing?” asked Ed. “Chafing,” I replied with a straight face. It was another of those brief pauses where everyone stops to think about what was just said. The pause was quickly followed by everyone, even Ed, breaking out in gales of laughter.

“I cast ‘detect traps’.”

There are three kinds of DMs: good ones, ones who will be good in time, and ones who will spend their lives sucking eggs. Ed falls into the latter category. Ed was one of those DMs who counted his success by the number of characters he killed. Especially the ones he decided he didn’t like. There’s nothing wrong with killing characters every now and then, but the DM shouldn’t be gunning for them!

So there I was, on my third character of the campaign. (Ed didn’t like the first two, a fire elementalist and a saurial paladin.) Jasmine was a Lady of Mystery in the Forgotten Realms (Lady of Mystery is the formal title for a priestess of Mystra). Now, the Realms have what are known as dead magic and wild magic zones. In dead magic zones, no magic functions. In wild magic zones, magic goes nuts. Except for worshippers of Mystra, who are immune to these effects. Jasmine and the party were going through a pretty standard dungeon crawl when they came upon a room that practically screamed TRAP!!! So, I had Jasmine cast a “detect traps” spell. “It doesn’t work,” was Ed’s answer. “Dead magic zone?” I asked, to which Ed replied with a nod. “That’s nice,” I said, “I’m a priestess of Mystra. Dead magic zones don’t affect me. Is it a trap or not?” Ed shot daggers at me with his eyes while replying in the affirmative. A few moments later, after some quick work from the party thief, we were merrily on our way past Ed’s party-killing trap.

“I cut off my finger.”

Steph is a fairly bright girl, but sometimes…

There’s an adventure in one of the original Palladium RPG books called “The Tombs of Gersidi” or something like that. One of the rooms that the party had to get into was guarded by an old hag that couldn’t be killed, tricked or otherwise removed from the equation. She would only let the party through if one of the characters gave up a bone. From their body. Now, the hag could have simply and painlessly removed an unnecessary bone, like a man’s Adam’s rib or a small toe bone. But Steph didn’t wait to find this out. Instead, her character (admittedly not a very stable person) pulled out a knife, hacked off a finger, and handed it to the hag.

“I wish I was as powerful as Kale.”

This was almost an RPG-related homicide. Ian was DM-ing his first Dragonlance game and two of the most powerful PCs were Kale (Jason) and Kemcni (Havok). Kale was a barbarian who found the Bloodstone of Fistandantilus and became an evil mage after being corrupted by it, while Kemcni (pronounced keh-mek-nee) was a kender who followed a similar path (by liberally “borrowing” the Bloodstone from Kale), a couple of levels behind. Kemcni got hold of a ring of three wishes with only one wish left. “I wish I was as powerful as Kale,” were the words that left Havok’s mouth. The rest of the (basically good-aligned) group groaned: the last thing we wanted around was another Kale. Ian smiled, turned to Jason and said, “Okay Kale, you are now the same level as Kemcni.” There was a moment of silence while everyone slowly realized just how badly Havok had screwed Jason over. (Unintentionally. Havok, of course, actually wanted his level raised to match Kale’s.) The session stopped cold while everybody burst out in laughter, except Jason, who just kind of sat there, fingering his pencil and staring at his hard-won levels.