Saturday, November 28, 2009

Two More Pathfinder Society Modules Completed

— Matt Harris @ 5:15 pm

I played PFS #3  – Murder On The Silken Caravan last Saturday and PFS #12 – Stay of Execution yesterday.  Both were with the same DM and used OpenRPG, so I think I have a decent basis for comparison.  About 1/2 the players were the same as well.

PFS #3  – Murder On The Silken Caravan took much, much longer. We started at 9 AM last and finished up a little after 5 PM (without any breaks).  One of the players had to drop out a little after noon, because it was taking too long.  The last combat was just a number crunching exercise.   The big bad would knock a character into negatives, we would heal that person while doing a little bit of damage to him, and then repeat.  We also had a new character (a first level druid) who didn’t take any weapons so after his big snake got put down, he wasn’t a whole lot of use, other than for some healing.  Despite the length, and the fact that my character can’t seem to make any Will saves, I did have fun with the adventure. I think it was the better of the two overall.

PFS #12 – Stay of Execution went a whole lot faster. We started at 3 PM and were done by about 7 PM. However, it seemed little more than a series of semi-related encounters. While I was playing, the following picture and the words "railroad plot" kept popping into my head:

game mastering

That isn’t really fair to the DM, though.  As I normally do, I bought the module afterwards and any railroading is kind of baked-in.  We actually managed to role-play through some of the encounters, despite the module seeming to assume that we would just fight our way through.  After reading the module, I was impressed at how flexible the DM had been. My character’s faction missions were laughable. If you had all of the encounters, they would be completed.  It was a fun adventure, but that was due more to the role-playing skills of the other players and DM than due to the module design.

In prepping for the adventure, I did learn a bit more about OpenRPG. Some of the plug-ins often some nice features (global variables, et. al.) but I definitely think TTopRPG is a better program.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

OpenRPG 1.80 Bug

— Matt Harris @ 1:53 pm

I have been playing around with OpenRPG, and have one real annoyance. The Status Bar Toolbar keeps getting larger (when docked and then undocked), and there is no way I can find to resize it. Vertically it is too large, and horizontally too small.

openrpg status toolbar 11-27-09

On the plus side, it can be turned off and seems to be mostly useless, anyway.

11/28/2009 Update:

Somehow, I managed to turn off the Game Server window and couldn’t get it back; the menu command and Ctrl-B didn’t work.  I finally managed to restore it by replacing layout.xml in the myfiles folder with a copy from a fresh install of OpenRPG. Not only did this restore the ability to pop up the Game Server window, it reset the Status Bar Toolbar.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hydra’s Fang Incident

— Matt Harris @ 6:41 pm

I played my fourth Pathfinder Society Game on Saturday, PFS #2 – The Hydra’s Fang Incident. This was with a different GM and different gaming software.

The software used was OpenRPG. This is a cross-platform maptable and chat system.  It was an ok program, but I must admit that I prefer TTopRPG. Part of my preference is due to the fact that TTopRPG has more complete documentation. It looks like OpenRPG has gone through some cycles of development, then near-abandonment and the documentation is fragmented or non-existent.

The game itself was fun.  It was interesting using the same character, but with a different DM.  One interesting thing is that the DM didn’t bother to specify the faction missions. He just said (paraphrasing) that if he finished the adventure, we would finish all of the missions. After I bought the module, I looked at them and he was essentially correct.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Perils Of The Pirate Pact

— Matt Harris @ 5:08 pm

Last night was my third Pathfinder Society Game. Ithuriel, ran PFS #17 – Perils of The Pirate Pact.

It was another fun session.  A little longer than the first one, but not nearly as long as the second.  The length was important, as this was another “red-eye” adventure, starting as Midnight Eastern Time. 

We had six PCs again. There were supposed to be seven, but two were no shows and we had a last minute addition.  From my limited experience, six seems to be the perfect table size.

The plot behind the story was pretty blatant, even though the DM toned down some of the hints.  The combat was the easiest of the three adventures so far. Only one PC went into negative hit points.  The plot was a little more complicated than PFS #7 – Among The Living, but not nearly as much as #10 – Blood At Dralkard Manor. This was more linear – go to one area, have a combat, go to the next area area, have another.

My character’s faction quest actually seemed a little meaningful, in that it really did promote the goals of my faction, albeit in a very minor way.  It was interesting that there were two other Osirion faction members present, so we were all doing the same quest.  That made it really easy, because if any one of us succeeded, we all did.  This morning I bought the module, as usual, and four of the five faction quests seemed like they would be useful to the faction.  Only one (Taldor) seemed like it was really a stretch.

We also used Skype again. I think I prefer the games with a voice chat to those without.

The most important thing is that this was my character’s third adventure, so he leveled ;-). Korvan Winterlight is now Level 2.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blood At Dralkar Manor

— Matt Harris @ 6:05 pm

I played my second Pathfinder Society Game last night. As a special Halloween adventure, Ithuriel (the same DM from the first session), ran PFS #10 – Blood At Dralkard Manor.

It was a long adventure. We spent six hours playing and even then only finished as the DM narrated away some of the slog and grind. The length was a bit of the problem as it was a bit of a “red-eye” adventure. It started at 6AM Athens time (where the DM was located) which is midnight Eastern Standard Time. Most of the players were on Eastern Time I believe. I actually probably had the best time zone (Pacific) – for me the game went from 9 PM to 3 AM. I can’t possibly see how this adventure could be run in four hours, which is the time limit for scenarios at conventions.

Despite the late hour, I think everyone had a good time, although some players had a hard time staying awake. I think the adventure was better written than the last one, PFS #7 – Among the Living. While there was lots of combat, it seemed less linear and more flexible. I bought the adventure afterwards and it did have much more of a plot to it. The adventure didn’t seem to force a specific mix of characters on us either. We had the following:

While combat was very challenging and about half the party ended up going into negative hit points everyone survived.

My character’s faction quest in this adventure (and the last) seemed pretty silly. After reviewing the other faction quests when perusing the module, I think most of them are rather meaningless. Technically, the are supposed to forward some goal of your character’s faction (there are five factions) but most (not all) seem really useless to said faction. I understand the constraints Paizo is under in creating these – the adventures are time limited and the quest needs to be doable in the time allotted without screwing up the game. They still seem trivial, though.

Overall, though, I had a blast. I actually remembered my familiar this time ;-). There is supposed to be another “red-eye” session next Saturday, and I can hardly wait.

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