Tidying and Writing

It’s a rare day off, so of course I’m not able to sleep in as my back decided it was time to get moving. As a result I’ve been tidying up and cleaning the kitchen to reclaim some workspace real estate

Those who know my kitchen will now be wondering what sorcery this is. Those who know me will be wondering what is out of view either side of the picture. Those who are observant will be chuckling at the deliberately placed mug.

We ended up not having a game yesterday due to general health of various people, so I’ve taken the time to start writing threads and ideas for this next stage of adventures for the DDC. In the real world we’ve been going at this a little over a year – but we haven’t quite caught up to that in the game as I wanted to reflect roughly where we are in the seasons. It’s allowed me to introduce seasonal festivals as a marker of time in the game, and harvest and autumn are upon us.

It also allows me to start dropping in some Winter Is Coming jokes, as well as references to the Unseelie Winter’s Knight that they encountered at the end of the last (unstreamed) session that we had. It was one of those encounters where there was initial giggles at the name, and then the magic users started getting very serious and respectful as they made their arcana checks.

Kerne’s sister, it appears, is a Warlock pledged to the Archfey. That Archfey is the Winter’s Knight. There are dangling plothooks to write.

I was talking around this and related points while we were celebrating boy s’ birthday – about how we’re at a point where I can use character back stories to start introducing more mythic story elements among the day to day missions and calamities that the group involves themselves in. The most intense sessions have come where the players buy in on an emotional level to the storyline and its been wonderful to DM those and see my sparse notes brought to life and embellished upon.

So, that’s got me trying out plot hooks and elements in my little black book

Planning For The Weekend

Work is busy at the moment, so I’m distracting myself a little with thoughts of the game session to come. I’ve floated the idea of a somewhat unusual scenario and had a positive response, so I’m currently doing some broad brush plotting for the Festival of Last Frost.

At heart it’s going to be a seasonal festival welcoming the Spring, so the whole local area will be filled with events and challenges for the whole community. Competitions will include feats of strength, skill, luck, and whimsy.

I think it will be a nice break from all the dangers and give them a good opportunity for roleplay and shenanigans. If nothing else I suspect there will be competitive knitting, and pinning the tentacles on the mimic. We may even get an answer to why certain people are known as “benchslayers”

I’m Busy, Plotting

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And it’s not just the book and the short stories (yes, that’s still happening, among all the other chaotic elements floating around my world right now) that are getting the grey cells shifting. Lady M’s birthday is imminent, and I’m attempting to make things happen to put a smile on her face. This isn’t just on general principle, but also as an antidote to what has been a fairly horrendous couple of months.

My efforts to use Facebook as an organisational tool have been mixed, so I’m returning to my tried and tested route of starting to harass and confuse people in person to make things happen. I know there will be a small hardcore group of revellers who will brave the dark evenings, but why assume anything? Lady M is so used to people not being around or available when it comes to her birthday that it is entirely possible that she will faint if I manage to get a whole room of people together to surprise her.

She knows that something is planned, but not what, if only because I’ve had to stop her making plans to go travelling around the country on various errands on dates that clash with things. The look of disquiet on her face this morning when I casually mentioned that last night’s get together down The Plough had agreed a few options was worth it’s weight in gold.

She hadn’t come along last night as she is still recovering from ailments, so she was quietly heard to mutter: “I let you out of my sight for five minutes…” with perhaps the world’s biggest grin on her face. This does bode well…

Some useful resources for setting up Roll20 games

I’m still doing preparation work for the new D&D campaign, but that’s more because I’m doing it in a rather piecemeal fashion than from it being particularly difficult. I’ve got a lot of sourcebooks and rulebook on various shelves in the flat that I’ve accumulated over the years. If anything, the challenge has been to choose how to limit the material available to me, having decided to use the Eberron campaign setting.

This is partly down to my having gone on a bit of a mad spree for various reasons when the 3rd Edition came out in an Open format known as D20. Suddenly there were rulebooks for shows and settings to make everything compatible, should I desire to use them. I’ve actually stopped myself from seriously considering using D20 versions of Call of Cthulhu and Judge Dredd in this current campaign – something that will no doubt be a relief for my players to read here.

Adding to the challenge of running a 3/3.5(ish) campaign for the first time, it’s also the first time I’ll be running a game using Roll20. Unlike a traditional tabletop environment, I don’t have quite the luxury of winging things so much, especially when it comes to maps for encounters. In days of yore I would grab a scrap of paper or lengths of printed card, dice, books and anything else of approximate size to denote features of an encountered area – especially if the party had gone off on a tangent and I needed to distract them with a fight while I worked out the best way to steer them back on course.

With Roll20, this can seem like a bit more complicated, given that you have to assemble maps from tiles, and populate various layers with tokens for objects, characters and opponents, along with the GM layer of information, let alone setting up dynamic lighting and line of sight markers. The Roll20 site helps by performing searches for tokens and maps that have already been submitted, or that are hosted on sites like http://www.dundjinni.com/ or www.cartographersguild.com/ which can help immensely when you are first starting out, and offer software to help you along the way.

By way of an alternative though, I’ve just discovered Pyromancers.com, which has a free online floorplan creator that will, crucially, allow you to export your floorplans as a .jpg to your desktop so that you can upload them to Roll20 as a mapping layer. Any additional tokens or markers I want to add can then be slotted into place.It’s proving quick, simple and reliable – and did I mention free? – just what I need.

So far I’ve been focusing on creating the set piece maps – so when they’re done I’ll start assembling some template designs to allow me to rapidly piece together the more random encounters along the way. As my ultimate fall-back position, I’ll also be looking at how effective simply drawing on a blank template with my graphics tablet is if I need to do something rough and ready in real-time.

So, I’m getting there, as they say. In the meantime I’m using the forum features on the site to encourage the players to create their characters and do a bit of roleplay to introduce themselves. If nothing else I’m hoping it’ll give me a heads-up on their interactions and common themes before I dive straight in, and that’ll inspire some more encounters and plot twists.