Posts Tagged ‘Campaign’

Gaming Chronicles: The Frozen Star

February 10, 2018

(This is going to be an ongoing series where I describe the Tabletop RPG campaigns that I have been a part of and the characters that I chose to play. There are already some short stories and descriptions on this blog but I have not really gone in depth about what the game was actually like. At the end of each description, there will also be a short song playlist that will attempt to capture how my character felt about their situation)

The first actual in-person tabletop gaming game I joined was at my friend’s house and it was a real awakening. You see, I was not actually friends with any of the people I still play with yet. In fact, I had only met two out seven of my new companions. I petitioned to be part of the group through my cousin’s brother in law who said he would ask the group. I was nervous as hell because I had never played at the table before and I really wanted to impress these people. When I arrived, they briefly interviewed me to gauge my experience and desire which came from listening to D&D podcasts and studying Vampire books in high school. They allowed me to join their campaign.

The campaign was a space opera-type adventure already in progress when I arrived. The Frozen Star was a spaceship crewed by a ragtag group of mercenaries in the tradition of a lot of science fiction stories. The ship was captained by a being made of pure energy. The crew also consisted of a computer expert who was of an insect race, a deadly birdperson sniper, a lizard-like engineer, a turtlewoman, and a speedster human. I first joined as a charismatic new “Faceman” but I was too shy and new to pull it off. Instead, I joined the crew as an ex-soldier human who had super strength powers. As James Garen, I wielded a laser longsword and prized loyalty above everything else.

My character had attended academy with one of the crew so that was my “in” so that I trusted them and they trusted me. As soon as I joined, we were off and running. We were dodging a galactic government, dealing with a crime syndicate, and also with terrorists. Along the way, my character got to show off his immense strength and prowess in battle but I was still green when it came to actually roleplaying. The simple character helped as I was still getting the hang of things and I was able to watch the other characters. I also got to know everybody in the group a little better and everybody seemed to become more accepting and relaxed about the new addition.

I saw my first player character deaths as the turtlewoman and the insectman argued until both were brutally killed by a hacker sabotaging the lab they were in. I became enthralled as I watched our story unfold. I learned how to deal with my first Game Master, learning what he was into and also what our group liked to do. We like to advance the story a lot but we also take time out for comedy and a little character progression. Roleplaying is something we do not always actually engage in. However, even if we do not talk out every conversation, we do write full backstories for our characters. Having a backstory really helped me to immerse myself in the story. I had to play catch up but I eventually started to figure things out.

Disturbed – Indestructible

James Garen was a soldier like his father before him and his grandfather before that. At the time, I was drawing on my own family’s history in the military (which thankfully stopped before it got to me). Also, this song hits as hard as James could.

Black Sabbath – Neon Knights

After choosing that my character should be human and that he should have super strength, I was given the choice of what his chosen weapon would look like. The weapon I chose was a laser longsword that I poured some of my energy into to make it ignite. Also, at one point, I hit a space dragon in the face with it.

John Entwistle & Alice Cooper – Space Pirates

James was briefly part of a crew that was killed by space pirates before running into the other player characters. It was also at this point that I learned that you do not blurt out your entire backstory the first time you meet the other characters. I totally blurted out that my former crew was dead which did not inspire much confidence in my character’s abilities. Oh well.

Races (Elorian Campaign)

December 11, 2017

As D&Dcember continues, I thought I would continue to work on my campaign and do a little thinking of the possible player character races. I used the Player’s Handbook as a guide but I am toying with offering more options as I flesh out the greater world a little bit. There are definitely other races in the world but it might be a little too complicated to offer them as player options especially since some of them are rare or inconvenient. Anyway, I have decided to spend much of my time this month that is not taken up by work or the upcoming holidays working on this and connected projects.

Elves

Elves are quite possibly the first creatures to walk the earth. Their blood and bodies are closely attuned to the magic of the World as the first elves were carefully crafted from a deep primordial magic. Elves have been around so long that they cannot even remember everything their race has done. Ancient structures were abandoned in times of war only to be forgotten in new lands. Their language has also evolved beyond what it has been in the past mostly because they have to deal with the younger races and these new experiences inform and enrich their lives. Older elves are more likely to be more somber as there is not much that surprises them anymore and their young adventures are well behind them. Of course, this means that younger elves (and young is a relative term here) are often more eager to join the world and explore the world the older generations have given them. Elves end up being a bit judgy about the activities of the younger races, forgetting that the younger races often do not have the equivalent benefit of experience.

Humans

The youngest race created on purpose, humans have the ingenuity of gnomes combined with the size of elves and some of the hardiness of dwarves. Humans were made without the magic that elves are born having deep in the core of their being. Earlier humans sought that magic, which led to pacts with all sorts of things to even the playing field with every creature out to dominate the continent. These warlocks were the first human magic users and a lot of them were not trusted. Others decided to go another route and worked on their physical prowess and weapon skills. The first wizards emerged sometime later as humans were able to obtain knowledge from the older races and joined in innovating new magicks. Twenty years ago, the wild magic finally found humanity and their first sorcerers emerged. Humans are the most prevalent species on the continent (with Orcs coming in second) and are just about everywhere. Humans have way more variety in their appearance than the other races.

Half-Elves

When human and elf relations started to pick up, a lot of humans were fascinated with their fey-touched cousins. It was only a matter of time before physical and romantic relationships sparked up. It turns out that the two were more compatible than they had both previously thought. The first Half-Elf children were a surprise to everyone (except maybe the Gods who had created both races). This first generation was caught in a sort of limbo. Neither elf nor human, their respective parents did not know what to do with these new children at first. Sure, they were part of loving families but it was difficult at first, especially since, at that time, humans had not yet discovered their capacity for magic. Now that humans have figured out magic, the two races have warmed to the benefits of these progenies. The existence of this hybrid race has drawn the worlds of elves and man closer together and it has brought many elves away from their lofty enclaves to live among the other races.

Dwarves

Dwarves are an ancient race born deep under the land. Born near the roots of the earth, they were the first to harness the ore that they found there. As they extracted that ore, they were left an abundance of rock. Many dwarves not involved in the actual mining became master stone crafters and this, in turn, led to the discovery of dwarven runes. Dwarves became the first to discover techniques to imbue the magic of the world into physical objects. They remain the foremost experts at enchanting but their enchanters are always eager to get their hands on other races’ work to stay ahead of the curve. In a similar way, dwarves can be great students of architecture and often go on walkabouts from their underground civilizations to check out how the rest of the world is building things. Some dwarves also tire of the heat of the forges and the threats from things in the mines and journey away to live out in the open.

Halflings (Hin)

It is theorized both that “Halflings” were a first attempt at creating humans or a second attempt at creating gnomes. Neither theory has been proven but, of course, neither could be proven conclusively. For the most part, the Hin (as they are rightfully called) are a happy folk who are content to farm the land and create rural communities. However, every race has those struck by wanderlust and the Hin are no different. Their small, yet hardy stature allows easy access to all sorts of mischief. Many traditions of the roguish variety came from those first members of the Hin who left home and found that sticky fingers could be a benefit. In fact, the special language Thieves Cant evolved at first from an obscure Hin “tapping language” on the walls of their tunnel-like houses. Although they are small in stature, many have achieved more than the humans twice their size and nothing is really out of their reach when they put their minds to a problem.

Gnomes

Gnomes are very rare to see in the surface world these days. Gnome flesh must be tasty to orcs and other nasty critters because the tiniest race was facing extinction at some point. Of course, as far as most on the continent know, gnomes may still be endangered and some may not have realized that the gnomes are not extinct. Gnome culture and knowledge adapted to the world. Gnomes became more secretive and protective. They went back underground like the dwarves and only a few gnomes live in towns and cities on the continent. Those who do are usually very security-minded. In fact, gnomes are largely responsible for the advances in locks on the continent and have come up with some particularly nasty mechanisms. Gnome burrows are often situated in secret locations near Dwarf settlements and they are often meticulously clean and efficient towns. They often have a deal with Dwarven mining operations to help fix their equipment and innovate new ways to obtain ore.

Tieflings

Tieflings were once humans but at some point in their lineage, demonic energy twisted their family line and children were then born with red skin, tails, and horns among other demonic traits. Their infernal blood gives them abilities different from normal humans. Tieflings are rare in Eloria, mostly because there were not a multitude of families affected. Many Tieflings are from families who made pacts with Visna’s forces or Visna himself during his first attempted invasion. Other Tieflings in the area come from other lands or even other planes. Tieflings are not well liked by many in Eloria since there are still bad memories connected to demons and it is hard to separate their lineage from who they might be now. Tieflings are both good and bad, the bad ones pretty much lack the backing of Visna so they have to be more subtle.

Half-Orcs

The progeny of both humans and orcs, the half-orcs are not accepted by either race. These mutts are often spotted on the edges of society either in slums or in the wilds. There are exceptions, of course, but most of them are proud outcasts. Many of them chose to renounce their human heritage and work hand in hand with orcs. Others work harder to endear themselves to humans and other races in an effort to make their lot in life a little easier. They are tough and strong and harder to put down than a human. They are easy to spot by their grayish-green skin, tusk-like incisors, and abnormally tall height. Scars are not uncommon in some communities of half-orcs as they often lack proper medical care either physical or magical.

Dragonborn

The Dragonborn are incredibly rare on the entire continent. They are a humanoid race which has a lot of traits in common with dragons. They are scaled beings that walk on two legs. Most of them are bigger than your average human and some are even born with tails. Their scales come in every color that dragons come in. Chromatic Dragonborn are treated with almost as much disgust and fear as the chromatic dragons they resemble. However, they do not have the innate reality warping abilities that dragons do. Metallic Dragonborns are more tolerated although misguided prejudice does exist. In reality, no color of the spectrum is more likely to be evil than any other. Chromatic Dragonborn are often nurtured to be evil and are more likely to identify with the old stories of chromatic dragons.

A Campaign of Fear

July 4, 2016

I hinted at this story during the 100 Questions posts but it is finally time to commit it to writing. I still laugh at the memory but the laughter comes much later. First, there will be tiredness and then there will be fear. There will be more fear than I have ever felt in a single moment in all of my life. And now, the infamous dog story from a few summers ago.

In 2010, it was suggested that I work on a political campaign in order to readjust to Baltimore and to work toward getting my first office job. It was a good transition from my work in theater although I spent a lot of time out of the office. I spent the summer out in the heat putting up a lot of four foot by eight foot political signs and getting griped at by people who did not like those signs which is pretty much everybody. I also spent a lot of time knocking on doors to deliver the good word on our candidate. This was something that people tended to like even less than the political signs but it was all necessary in order to get name recognition locked in. A lot of people who vote in local elections do so in a pretty uninformed state and they will often vote for the name they recognize if they are not just voting alphabetically.

On the day in question, we had been dispatched to the Randallstown area to knock on doors in a massive event. We were working with a couple other sympathetic campaigns in early fall for a huge push for everybody involved. It was incredibly hot and it was a Saturday but I was committed to doing the best job that I knew how to do. After a quick meeting to split up territories, I jumped into a car with two people I had worked with all summer. We were a pretty well-oiled machine at that point and we were able to hit a lot of doors in a pretty short amount of time.

The thing you should know about knocking on doors for a political campaign is that it is shocking when you actually get to talk to somebody. We knocked on a lot of doors and we had all the talking points prepared should we get a hold of an interested party. Most doors I knocked on there was never an answer because either people were not home or they saw me in my t-shirt at their door and did not get up. I do not blame them if that is what happened because I also do not like being bothered at home. I did speak to maybe a handful of pleasant people who did want to discuss politics. Most people politely declined or cursed me out and although the latter drove me crazy, I took it in stride well enough.

So the three of us walked the streets near Randallstown and started knocking on our assigned doors. I do not remember talking to a single person that day. Even the people who curse at you are sometimes welcome to break the monotony and to have a good story for later. Good stories are how you make it through long days in the trenches and there are so many long days in those trenches. We were making good time and without any further commands, it looked like we were going to have a day where we would get home at a reasonable time. I was already hot and covered in sweat but short rides in the air conditioning kept giving me the will to continue. I do not do well in the heat but I had kind of gotten used to it over the summer.

We arrived on a little cul de sac and it was like every other cul de sac I had seen in Baltimore County. It was not unlike the houses in Dundalk, Essex and areas of Towson. We started to knock on doors as usual. I took one-third of the houses just like my two companions. The place was a ghost town on a beautiful Saturday afternoon as I had expected. So I knocked, waited a minute and then dropped some literature and moved on. I walked up to a particular house and looked at the big open window to the right of the door. I rang the doorbell and waited. Suddenly, the window to my right exploded outwards as a huge dog burst through it. It was barking like a furry missile but I was already gone. My body had taken over and I was halfway down the street in a full run and screaming my lungs out.

Obviously, my companions came running toward me because no ordinary person runs screaming down the street even in Baltimore City. They saw before I did that the dog had neglected to follow me that far. Thankfully, for whatever reason, he or she had decided that I was not worth chasing. I bent over and sucked in deep breaths of air to keep from passing out. As I stood up again, I started to laugh as hard as I have ever laughed because I was so happy to be alive and unharmed. My companions looked at me like I was crazy until I was able to stop laughing enough to explain what happened. We decided to skip the rest of that little cul de sac just in case that dog was loose and angry. On our way out, we warned a Salvation Army truck driver and he nodded in thanks. We all laughed about that for the rest of the day and six years later we still haven’t forgotten it.

(Happy July 4th!)


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