Painting: Reaper Highlanders Finished

These were the prize miniatures I randomly gave out to one of my Extra Life contributors. Funny story, it was actually the third person down the list. The first to come up was someone who teaches painting workshops, and turned down the offer, as expected. The second was the one who won the sword I gave out at my actual game, and turned down the offer, as expected. So third randomly selected winner is receiving these:



I also attempted to make a video of them rotating, it didn’t go super well:


Paradiso Countdown – Part 1

I ran the first two days of Paradiso Countdown, the quickstart adventure for the new Infinity RPG. I was using the expanded one that was made available during the Kickstarter, but we ended up only using one of the extra events before I decided it was time to transition into the main quest, lest the players find themselves not feeling any sense of accomplishment.



I’m leaving a gap here in case anybody intends to play the adventure and found themselves here without actually intending to read details in it.




Here’s a link to the adventure log on Obsidian Portal. It also has spoilers:



And here’s the play report:



The PCs arrived at the station, and passed through security. The Dog Warrior and the Hassassin were both able to smuggle their weapons in. The Hexas Agent decided to try to convince security to give over his weapons on the other side.

The Agents were able to watch the announcement of peace between the Tohaa and the Human Sphere before being introduced to their job functions by Corporal Yorgos, local chief of security and Bureau Noir asset.

The Hexas Agent failed to recover his weapons. The Hassassin tried to help and only made matters worse. The Hexas Agent disabled the alarm feature on his station-issued pistol.

The Hexas Agent and the Hassassin took their nanobot pills to sync to station time. The Dog Warrior did not, and was groggy when the security alarm went off in the morning.

They disarmed a small diplomatic incident which had caused the alarm, and proceeded to pursue some personal quests. The Dog Warrior bribed a staffer to deliver  an embarrassing news story about the PanOceanian Ambassador’s sister to a local news anchor. The Hexas and the Hassassin set up comlog alarms on the whereabouts of suspicious individuals.

That night they received a level 8 security alarm, and rushed to the site to find a murder had been committed. A PanOceanian diplomat had been killed with an Antipode Ceremonial Knife.

The incident was put under infoquarantine, and the players were entrusted with personally investigating the murder.

The players set to investigating nearby security footage, with the help of the station computer, Melissa. They split up to investigate their top suspects, and soon found the body of the first of them, evidently killed by a Speculo Killer three days earlier. It appeared that the Speculo had taken the form of a Yu Jing staffer in order to kill the Diplomat, took Tohaa information handed over in secret, presumably sent a copy to its handler, and had not been seen in its previous disguise since.

That is where we left off. The players said they enjoyed themselves, and are looking forward to continuing. I’ve always enjoyed games where no violence happens, I find it brings out the most interesting roleplaying. It’s easy to settle in to rolling to attack without thinking about who you’re playing. One of the players is newer to my table, and found it novel that he hadn’t created the corpses.

To be continued…

Extra Life – Play Report

Extra Life game day went really well. By the end I had blown past my third goal, and everyone said they had a great time. Like I said I’ll work on getting the adventure typed up in a clean fashion, but here’s the play report.

I opened the adventure in a little, unimportant town. The PCs had been traveling together just since the last town, since they were all headed the same way. They found the town’s only Inn and settled in for dinner, when the mayor’s wife came in saying she heard adventurers had come into town and she had an urgent task for them. They followed her back to the mayor’s manor, where the mayor told them that their not-quite-two-year-old daughter had managed to find his family’s magic mirror and crawl through. They had sent what few guard the town had available through after her, but they had not returned for thirty minutes, and the mayor suspected something had gone wrong. The PCs agreed to the job and went through the mirror.

On the other side, the Ranger, Jonnie Willowwisp, pretty quickly found and followed the child’s path, and did not lose it when the child double backed, as the tracks suggested the first group of guards did. Willowwisp led the party through the garden they arrived in up to a high-walled manor.

On the way to the aforementioned manor they were stopped by two Pale Pawns. When they saw the pair on the horizon, the Paladin stood out while the rest of the party hid. After stopping to talk to the Paladin, however, they perceived the hiding party members. After a brief and inane conversation, the pair of Pawns attempted to tax the party for pielessness. While the Paladin prepared to do combat, the Alice was able to convince the Pawns that they also lacked pies and owed taxes, and the party was able to sneak away while they argued between themselves.

They found an entrance to the interior in the wall to the north, and inside the entry hall they found the dead body of a young woman, but could identify no cause of death. They relieved the body of its gold coins and teapot.

At the end of the hall was a locked door, but the Alice was able to pick the lock. Beyond it was a small library, with no obvious sense of organization to it and a seemingly random selection of topics. The Paladin found a ladder going up from the library and found himself assaulted with thrown hedgehogs from above. He ignored the hedgehogs and climbed up, barely missing the child who had been throwing the hedgehogs at him. He pursued the child over the rooftop, and was shortly followed by the rest of the party.

The party descended a chimney in pursuit of the child, but had lost it by the time they assembled themselves back in the interior. They found themselves in a music chamber with no obvious exit. The walls had evenly spaced portraits of an old man. The party checked behind every portrait until they found one that, upon swinging it to the side, opened a secret passage in the wall.

The next room had gravity distortion affecting the items in the room, but not the players. They tied off some ropes and rappelled down the hallway.

The next room was a bed chamber. This was the first room they encountered with a mirror in it, and the Paladin stepped through the mirror. They discovered the disorienting Quiet side of the mirror and spent some time exploring how changes on one side are reflected on the other.

They proceeded into a sitting room, where there was a small bottle labeled “Drink me.” The Alice drank the bottle, and promptly shrank to the size of a mouse. The Barbarian picked him up and carried him about in her pocket.

A hallway, in which the Druid was found cowering in a niche, connected the sitting room to a kitchen, staffed by four pale pawns. The Paladin found he could not abide vampire chefs, and the party dispatched the kitchen crew. They found a cabinet of cakes labeled “Eat me.” and found that eating the cakes made them large. The Alice and Druid assumed large size.

They proceeded through the rest of the mansion unchallenged until they arrived at a room where the missing girl was attempting to climb the sideways furniture. At the center of the room was an orangutan growing increasingly enraged at having nothing but artificial fruit.

The druid kept the orangutan calm while the paladin caught the girl. The party headed back the way they came and returned the girl to her family.

Extra Life – Reporting Staggering Success Already!

Thanks to an extraordinarily generous anonymous donor I have already met my initial Extra Life fundraising goal of $100. That made me decide to embrace the concept of stretch goals.

I have raised my fundraising goal to $200, and picked some things I’ll do.

For the initial $100 I will stream my gaming on Game Day.

If I reach my new goal of $200 I will publish my Game Day adventure as ran along with a play report here. I will also come up with something new to do if I reach $300. I have some ideas that may be of interest to someone out there.

After Extra Life comes normal life. I am now a father and the truth of all the expectations is being revealed. So far some hobbying is still happening, given I am on leave so there are more opportunities if not actually more time. I have entered the current painting contest over on Data Sphere. I have my entry for Maya Cast sitting on the craft table right now, base coats are done. I’m looking forward to Game Day because I haven’t been able to get my RPG on since the Infinity RPG beta test. I’m also itching to play the Infinity miniatures game, it’s been a while for that too. I’m sure I’ll get one in some time soonish.

A Little Housekeeping

Dealing With Attrition was the last thing I posted? I’ve been a terrible blogger.

Today’s post is housekeeping and life updates, I suppose.

You may know as I was DMing at the local shop, I was live streaming via Meerkat and posting the final videos on YouTube. There are more of those videos that I never finished finalizing and then I forgot my iPad a couple times and couldn’t get online to stream a couple times and sort of quit keeping up with it. We’ll call it an extended performance art piece about my last post. I’ll probably get those last few videos public and in some sort of playlist eventually. They’re really nothing fancy, I was just trying to one-up Dave at

You probably don’t know that I am not DMing this season for Adventurer’s League. No shocking revelations of the sordid inner workings of AL, it’s just not a scheduling priority anymore. Any day now I’ll be a father for the first time, so that’s all I’m prioritizing.

But I do have some hobbying going on. I was recently told after the baby comes I’ll have free time, but it will be in 20 minute bursts. Since I’ve dropped some of my long time block commitments and my wife is in the stage of pregnancy that involves frequent naps, that has already come true, so I’ve been painting. I recently entered the MayaCast Q3 2015 painting contest. The whole album of all entries is on Facebook here.

And to merge the themes of roleplaying and my Infinity involvement, I have backed the Infinity RPG Kickstarter.

This is my first Kickstarter and it’s pretty exciting to watch those stretch goals be met, especially having gone for a pledge level that means each new goal is another PDF I’ll be receiving at the end.

It is my hope that I can get an Infinity RPG campaign off the ground. I was in the beta and may start using that before the core book shows up, depending on how things go after the baby is here. If baby is really good at naps I may do some YouTube stuff for it. I follow a lot of people who talk about fantasy RPGs on YouTube, but it seems like there’s not as much out there for SciFi.

Other gaming things I hope to have coming up include a session for Extra Life during which I plan to use A Red and Pleasant Land. I finally finished my initial read through of it and I think I’ll be sticking to the tables and general suggestions to do a lower level, lighter feeling excursion into the Place of Unreason using D&D 5e and pregens. My intention is to take a page from the Infinite Life Infinity Tournament and Re-Roll Weekend and charge admission, and allow players to pay for re-rolls. All proceeds, of course, going to Extra Life.

That’s my current focus, and after that is when I intend to switch my focus to the Infinity RPG. My wife wants to keep fantasy gaming as well, so something will happen there as well. Unsure what it will be currently.

Dealing with Attrition

Life report/play report:

I’m continuing to run Rise of Tiamat for Wednesday night Encounters at my local shop. I’ve made the interesting decision of picking up war gaming while a child is on the way. I’m now playing Infinity Tuesday nights at the same shop. It’s fun. We’ve planned an escalation that should end about the time baby is due, and then all of our gaming will be hosted by us. My friend and gamepatriot over at has proposed pioneering the world of Fantasy Grounds and attempting to place so many support calls that we have a say in its future. So far the overwhelming response has been “why don’t we just use Roll20?” If either of those happen, I’ll write something about it. I may also blog about the Infinity escalation campaign – is that interesting to any of you, Gentle Readers?

On to dealing with attrition…

Attrition is an ever present problem for roleplaying games. I have only ever seen three campaigns to the end, everything else went to attrition in some form or another. We seem to have reached the attrition point for Wednesday night Encounters.

There are a couple things happening there. First, we’re running two different games. One is Rise of Tiamat, the continuation of last season’s story found in Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The other is Princes of the Apocalypse. I think we anticipated more interest in Rise of Tiamat than actually happened, but we’ve had enough players that we generally have two large tables of the low tier game and two small tables of the high tier game, which I think is generally a good thing. Lately, however, we’ve either been forced down to one table of RoT or have had barely enough to justify two. I’m having a harder time getting a good idea of how participation in PotA is because I’m not at those tables and because that has the potential to be three tables given all DMs in attendance.

Since it’s what I’m dealing with, I want to talk about merging tables. Adventurers League requires tables of at least 3 players, so as soon as we hit six we can run two. There have been a couple times that I couldn’t be there, but most of the time CM and I are both there. Our whole shop generally doesn’t do a great job of checking in before the game to say if they are/not coming so we’re often stuck at start time waiting to see if anyone else shows up. Sometimes people need to move and it’s annoying but that’s not the interesting part. What’s interesting is how do you bring people in to a storyline they haven’t been in? This applies at home as well, because you may have a new friend join in the middle of a campaign, or you may be forced to recruit new friends in the middle of the campaign due to our subject of attrition.

So have they always been there, standing stoically in the background? Did the party just meet them? You can usually figure this out at home. Sometimes it happens at an awkward time, but you can modify what you had planned to fit them in. But the format for Encounters is so strange, it has to be awkward when it happens. The last time CM and I had to merge tables, I just pushed my players back in time some. It wasn’t a big deal because they managed not to repeat any combats, and they only repeated one NPC encounter. We were able to run two tables again, and mine left the dungeon we had been in. Now what happens if we’re at less than six next week? My players are in an entirely different part of Faerun now, on pursuit of a totally different goal. It’s quite a bit of pushing back time to ask them to kill the same dragon again at this point. We could push one table forward and then back again, either way some players know the future, but that seems less fair somehow. One thing that’s peculiar to RoT but could be a boon, is there are a few floating encounters that are supposed to be fit in between chapters. It may be easiest to ask both tables to suspend their knowledge of time and run one of those if this comes up again next week.

With the Encounters format, there’s not a lot that can be done about making the aftermath of attrition smoother. It’s just a flaw with the format. So the next question is – how do we stop the problem from happening?

There are a few likely reasons for attrition:

1) Burn-out (Interest, or energy)

2) Life happening

3) Being waylaid and devoured on their way to the game

Since there’s nothing we can do about 2 or 3, we’ll focus on 1, which is really two things.

Why do players get burned out? Why do DMs get burned out? Whether they’re tired or no longer having fun, there’s a balance between what they’re getting out of showing up every week and what it costs them to show up every week, that affects it. Essentially, they aren’t having enough fun. The DMs job should always be to make sure everyone is having fun. And you have to include yourself, or else you’re going to get burned out. Right now I think we may be looking at player burn-out. In other words, I have no one to blame but myself. I could blame the module, but this one is actually better than the last one. I’ve heard the newer one I haven’t seen is again better, so that’s all good. Also, I know my players pretty well, I think we’re running in to life happening more than anything, but I’m going to assume I need to take action to keep the players coming. In reflecting on this I think my flaw is probably pacing. I have a tendency to wait for late players to show up, and I maybe am generally not moving fast enough. I keep things going, we haven’t stalled out anywhere, but I wouldn’t mind getting through more on a given night, and I think neither would my players. Another thing I can do is provide more rewards. I’m very limited in what I can do with the module, but I would like to reward players more frequently. I think I’ll have to give out Inspiration more readily. I should bring up having printed Inspiration cards again too. I’d really like to give them items, but I’m stuck in the position of we’re not supposed to give out items that aren’t specified in the module, but this particular one consistently includes “and some magic items of your choice” in the treasure hoard. There seems to just be inadequate support from AL for Rise of Tiamat, but I may need to reinvestigate this issue.

What do you think, Gentle Reader? How do you keep your players engaged, considering the constraints of a pre-written module being used in organized play?

The Problem with Dungeons

I’m about to write something in stark disagreement with a lot of the gaming community that I follow: I don’t like dungeons. I actually don’t like dragons either. I’ve picked an interesting system for my hobby.

I’ve been running Rise of Tiamat at my local comic & games store. The Tomb of Diderius is a really cool dungeon… if you’re reading it. If you’re playing in it it’s really easy to miss a lot of what makes it cool. Cool details are wasted if the players never trigger the particular odd thing that is supposed to prompt them. I didn’t write Rise of Tiamat so it’s just a shame that neat little things didn’t come up during my players’ time in the tomb, but if I had written it that would have been valuable writing time wasted.

What I’ve come to do at home is use a system of what I call rumours. I write up people, places, events, things, and actual rumours, and randomly select some to give to the players and let them decide where to go from there. I then essentially facilitate them creating their own story by answering their questions. This doesn’t work if I want multiple tables to play the same game, they’ll end up playing very different games. That leaves me with a written adventure. I’m all about saving time, so how do I mitigate the wasted time factor of writing whole adventures? I can think of plenty of alternatives. The first thing that comes to mind is just don’t do it. I can use a detailed setting, or a pre-written adventure. I could also use a dungeon generator and theme the results appropriately, but that doesn’t sound terribly exciting to me. I can also just let it go wildly different in the more likely situation of games being in different places and times, but the time factor is what drives me to want this to be close to the same for all tables.

Doing a straightforward quest with a big dungeon seems like the easiest answer to how to homebrew something in this situation, but that has its problems too. Dungeons are fairly predictable with respect to pacing, it’s roleplaying encounters that vary in time a lot. Dungeons are also easier to write (in some ways) so maybe the risk of wasted time isn’t as high. But they’re very difficult to control, and to anticipate. Secret doors are great, but what if they don’t find them? You can write an awesome trap that never gets triggered. You can put tons of treasure in a room that is never reached. You can put hints as to the origins of the dungeon all over the place that the players never look at. So while you’re disappointed that all this work you put in to your dungeon is being missed, the players are feeling bored because this dungeon isn’t very exciting. You can cut the prep time by randomizing a lot of the dungeon creation, but I feel like that tends to pull some of the life out of it.

In any case, I bring this up for a very specific reason. I’m going to be running a game for my baby shower (my baby shower? My unborn child’s baby shower? Who is this thing for anyway?) and I anticipate more players than I’ll want to wrangle myself, so I need to have something written down to give to one or more other DMs.

I don’t feel like I’m giving away too much to say I’m using Zak Smith’s Red & Pleasant Land. Using Zak’s fine work means I don’t need to come up with each individual encounter, so I can map out the path I hope the players will take and have the other DM(s) study those parts of the book. I suppose I’ll also have to instruct that hints for the correct path be dropped in to prevent one table from ending up horribly lost.

I happened to want from the start something that works well for what I’m doing, I don’t expect it to be a problem, so this is mostly just a mental exercise right now.

The questions are: Those of you who actually write the adventures you run – how do you expedite the process? How do you keep your dungeon engaging and prevent players from missing things?