Archive for the ‘DM Notes’ Category

Low Life: Floom


Previously I gave a brief overview of the Savage Worlds ruleset and I stated that I was going to try running a session in Low Life, a game setting by Andy Hopp.  I was slightly worried about doing two things in one night:  introducing a completely new ruleset to my players and throwing them in an extremely wacky world.  Like I said before, Low Life is what would happen if Jim Henson and Ralph Bakshi collaborated on a Mad Max movie.  As it turns out, my group slipped right into their roles, joining in on the toilet humour and loving the creativity of the setting.

One player created a Wurm who had no arms and used his body to yield weapons.  He was a hoarder who spent all his starting clams on useless junk to fill the pockets of his bitchin jacket, all used as improvised weapons to be thrown at baddies.  There were two tizn’ts.   One was a gator/dog/rabbit with a mean chommp who ate unconscious baddies if you weren’t watching carefully.  Another was a rhino/monkey/eagle with a Smellcasting attitude and an over-active butt-hole.

Armless Werm

Before the end of the night they shat on a preacher, stole junk from garbage bins, and bottled animated fart clouds for later Smellcasting.  And this was all of their own accord!  The Savage Worlds rules are light weight which let them concentrate their efforts on being imaginative and exploring the game world.  It was easy for everybody to join in on the toilet humour and loosen a button or two on their dirty shirts and enjoy the ride.  Or fart.

The players thoroughly relished the initiative system.  It was quick to determine who goes in what order and switching it up every round kept players on their toes and avoided off-topic table-talk.  They were engaged and engrossed throughout the entire session.  The creature names were delightful, too.  I think it felt good for them to say “I’m going to take a big chomp out of this Wanker over here!”  And unlike Pathfinder, which can be a Game-Of-No, it was a welcome change to be able to attempt crazy things.  In Pathfinder, questions such as “Can I do [such and such]?” are answered with “No that’s a special ability of [insert class] and they get that at [some high level].”  My players’ frequent disappointment would often become my own disappointment.  The rule system makes the GM out as a bad guy.  In this game world, they just roll an untrained skill roll and hope they ace it to beat a 4!

If I were to discuss any complaints about the Savage Worlds system thus far it would be that raises are a pain in the ass to calculate.  In order to succeed a player rolls their die and has to beat a number, usually 4, unless it’s melee combat where it’s the target’s Parry number.  Every 4 points the player scores above that number is a “raise”.  If you get 1 or more raises on an attack you get an extra d6 when rolling the subsequent damage.  Different characters have different parry scores meaning the math for raises changes from character to character and numbers aren’t easily memorized.  We have smart people sitting around the table and despite that I became the “raise” calculator and players would always look to me to tell them whether they get the extra d6.

All my players were left with a good taste in their mouths, despite all the poo that landed between their teeth, and most are itching to play Low Life again, probably because they now have crabs.  It’s going to be difficult to find a regular time to host game sessions because I can’t end our current Pathfinder campaign, Rise of the Runelords.  But I’m definitely going to be running this on nights that some players can’t show up.  It’s an awesome alternative to cancelling a game night!  And besides.  Who’s going to find out where all the poo is going?

Foxglove Manor Preview

Like all the maps I create you can download them for free under a Creative Commons license.  Download the full printable 18×51 inch map here.

Wednesday my group entered Foxglove Manor.  Everybody’s level 5 (because we went through The Midnight Mirror) and the party consists of a Catfolk Sorcerer, a Halfling Cleric, a Tegu Rogue, an Elven Ranger and a Human Monk.  I was a little mixed up at first and didn’t assign the haunts to specific characters like I should have.  Instead I was having whoever entered haunted rooms to roll the saves and it turned out quite dangerous.  After a few rooms I realized my mistake but it was a little too late because 2 characters had already been knocked unconcious & bleeding and the party started freaking out, worrying about me killing their characters.

When the players reached the revenant she was entranced by the mirror and they were trying to solve how to snap her aware.  As they were covering the mirror with bed sheets found covering an old couch the rogue thought it would be a good idea to stick her one at the same time.  She let out a shriek, sent everybody cowering except the rogue, then proceeded to crush him to death.  When he hit negative hitpoints she let him go then went searching for Aldern.  The rest of the party awoke from their cowering to discover the rogue bleeding on the ground, near death.

Boroi Manor: Preview
For the Pathfinder adventure module, The Midnight Mirror,  I created a 3 level, 29×22 inch battle map for the players to explore Boroi Manor.  I began the adventure without a map, only drawing out the rooms on the whiteboard and unfortunately this caused them to not have much interest in their surroundings.  Note that this map is missing the top level of the manor, the baby’s nursery, because I was too lazy to do a spiral stair case.

Download the full 29×22 inch 150dpi jpeg here.

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midnight mirror

The first portion of Rise of the Runelords, Burnt Offering, finished off with the players at level 4 but The Skinsaw Murders recommends the players be at or near level 5.  This means I need some in-between content for a party of level 4 players.  I hadn’t planned for this, thinking I could jump straight into The Skinsaw Murders.  The general consensus on the Paizo forums is that the players should be level 5 when starting the Skinsaw Murders because the big boss battle is pretty tough.  I decided to run a short level 4 module, The Midnight Mirror, to get the players up to speed.

The midnight mirror is a module set in shadow-haunted Nidal, where the denizens of the Plane of Shadow mingle with the common man.  People are disappearing and a plague is infesting the village and it’s up to the adventurers to discover the cause of the disappearances and stop the plague.

I won’t have maps for the candle shop nor the lord’s manor in time for tonight’s play session, due to the switch being very last minute, but I suspect I could possibly have the dark realm manor mapped & ready to go.  My players really like having the maps so unfortunately they’ll be a little disappointed tonight when they learn I don’t have any prepared.  That’s ok, because a lot of the session will be spent wrapping up Burnt Offerings, selling all the sweet loot from Thistletop, and chatting future strategy now that the adventure is post-mortem.

For those curious the module is pretty short, doling out just enough experience to get the players at or near level 5.  It’s also the only official pathfinder module available specifically for players at level 4.  The sorcerer and her diplomacy will be useful, magic weapons are a boon, and the disease that’s spreading is pretty nasty.  The town’s local religious people worship Zon-Kuthon, the diety of envy, pain, darkness and loss, and introduces some interesting story line developments based around their worship  It should be a short, fun module that gives a good rising action, climax, and resolution in only a few play sessions.

Goblin Pyros

Last Wednesday I began DMing the Rise of the Runelords campaign setting for 5 first level players.  Some have played before and some were learning the game as we went.  I haven’t played D&D in years and I haven’t DM’d in ages too so it was a learning experience for me, too.  There are some great products out now that weren’t available when I DM’d long ago, including the Pathfinder Beastiary Boxed Set.  We managed to get through the first 3 encounters of Burnt Offering that evening:  Initial Assault, Goblin Pyros and Die Dog Die.

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