Burdens of being evil

Mostly when I DM and even when I finally manage to play D&D, most players are usually of Good or Neutral alignment. Which is completely understandable, since we are mostly that alignment in our real lives and some players are not comfortable even roleplaying an evil character.  However, for me it offers a lot of possibilities to try my wings at a type of character which I’m definitely not, it’s kind of a nice challenge for me if I get to play an Evil alignment.

I think the reason why most players don’t like to play an evil character is that they are afraid of destroying other players’ fun. And it can be true if not played well, since these characters are usually self-centered, somewhat cold and cruel, with little regard to other lives. Probably one evil character is okay in a party if he’s not Chaotic Evil with an open megalomania while the rest of the party is not Lawful Stupid.

The more players play evil characters, the more likely the game will get out of hand, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible to have a fully evil party. Of course, the players need to compromise and build the party together to estabilish a common bond or hierarchy before even beginning the game. I think Neutral Evil and Lawful Evil could work well together as a military hierarchy or as members of a guild, where strict rules could prohibit characters turning against each other during a quest. I’m quite sure there would be arguments and threats between the party members, but the rules mostly keep them from turning against each other and start a fight to the death.

When I play an evil character I like to go for Lawful Evil, usually playing a tyrant-type of a character. He still abides by the rules (well, at least, SOME rules), and if he is the party’s leader, then he’s just a bit more strict and a bit more cold as a Lawful Neutral, which can still keep the party going with only minor conflicts (and threats). Of course, as I play I’m purposefully acting less evil to make it compatible with the adventure and the rest of the party, but still trying to get as much out of it as possible. It also helps if the setting is purposefully darker and there is a bigger room for the character to play his alignment. The usual rule is true I think, a character can only play his alignment as much as the DM allows. So this kind of play also needs an open DM with more routine in storytelling to deal with the purposefully more sinister and selfish acts of an evil character. And it needs a lot of maturity from both sides to really bring out the difference between the alignments. Probably not for those who like to run around, stealing everything, killing or raping anyone they encounter…

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Just unwrapped – Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

A long, long time ago (in August 2013) I backed the Kickstarter campaign of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls by Richard Loomis. Honestly, at that time I didn’t know anything about this RPG and never played any previous editions before. Up till today I still just got impressions of the game, I wanted to get to know this RPG as I receive the book and read it through.

Finally, after waiting more than 2 years I received my package with all the goodies inside. At the backer level of $28 (plus postage) I got the softcover book of Deluxe T&T, plus some cool little things, like an official pencil, some printed character sheets, a nice poster of the City of Terrors, a deck of cards with the logos of the vendors from the 2014 Origin Game Fair, and also a poster of the Fellowship of the Troll.

The softcover book itself is huge. To tell the truth, I’m not too satisfied with the quality of the binding, this kind of books usually falls apart after a little intensive reading. Still, I hope it will last and I will try to be as gentle as possible with it. The whole rulebook feels so old-school upon reading, which is amazing I think. Mostly it’s because of the artwork of course, Liz Danforth did an amazing job with the illustrations, and there are some colored pages as a bonus as well. The style of drawing reminds me a bit of the first RPG I ever played when I was about 14… Good old days!

After the first quick read-through the rules seem really straightforward and easy to apply, I hope to run a test-adventure in a month or two to try the system. It seems like a great RPG for one-shot adventrues, but if I wanted a campaign I would probably go with another system and setting. Still, Trollworld seems so original and vivid that from time to time I would love to get the rulebook out and take my friends to such a rich world ripe with adventure. Also I will definitely try one of the solo adventures by myelf to see how it goes, I think it will be something like reading a Fighting Fantasy book.

Altogether I think I got a really nice game, it was worth backing this project and I hope I will be able to run a few adventures on Trollworld for my friends. It wasn’t an easy project for the Fellowship of the Troll as I read from the updates, they had some major setbacks, but in the end, everything turned out to be well, and that’s what really matters!

A DM’s review – The Shannara Chronicles

I have been waiting for this series a lot. Not that the trailer stunned me (although it looked mostly good), but there is a serious lack of fantasy series nowadays and this seemed to be something that could fill the void. I waited seven episodes to write about The Shannara Chronicles, so I could see more of it and watch it develop. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can still read on, I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible.

After having seen most of the first season I still can’t decide whether I like it or not. At least twice per episode I ask loudly “Why it had to be MTV?” There are some pretty irritating scenes which are clearly intended for teenagers, which I wouldn’t mind, if I didn’t feel that they wanted to make an epic fantasy at the same time. If they wanted younger audience, then they should have made it Twilight-ish, so 30-year-old geeks like myself wouldn’t even think about watching it.

But they brought half-epic fantasy into play, so I keep watching it still and roll my eyes every now and then. The three young protagonisits don’t add too much to the quality of the show unfortunately (and I was very diplomatic with this, I think), if we didn’t have John Rhys-Davies (King Eventine), James Remar (Cephelo) and Manu Bennett (Allanon) I probably would have abandoned Shannara already.  The world itself, the CGI looks great, a huge plus for this one, it kind of saves the show. Oh, and the demons too! The same can’t be said about the costumes and props unfortunately. The weapons are very sterile, and look like toys more than an actual weapons, most of the armors would protect from a butterknife, and clearly have no practical use, they are only intended to look cool. The only thing I liked was Allanon’s outfit, although he looks more like a warlock than a druid, but I don’t mind. I also liked the idea that the “old civilization” was today’s world, it doesn’t disturb the fantasy feeling, it adds some flavor instead.

I haven’t read Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara Trilogy, so I can’t compare the book to the series, which is a good thing I think, since Game of Thrones was a bit disappointing for me having read the books years (twice) before the TV show launched. So far I have no major problems with the plot and the story, it has some original ideas (for me), like the elfstones or the concept of the gnomes in this series. The plot twists and “big” surprises are predictable, has many clichés, but still, altogether it’s one of the things  because of which I still watch Shannara, it’s exciting enough to keep me engaged in the storyline, also a good for inspiration for later campaigns maybe.

As a DM, I think it’s a great plot for an epic campaign, although I would probably just borrow the starting concept and would introduce the grand scheme slower then the series, but of course, things have to go faster on the screen than at the table. Also I would definitely set the tone of the game somewhat darker, more hopeless. In Shannara I fell there is just too much hope, I can’t feel real desperation in the characters. Still, I’m going to hold on and watch the show, since there are no real alternatives in the fantasy genre.

 

Becoming a better-rounded gamer: dabbling in CCG

A friend of mine recently “infected” me with a new interest towards a collectible card game (CCG), called “Cards of Power”. It’s a Hungarian CCG, only printed in my native language. The game got 20 years old in 2015, and is still going strong.

When my buddy told me that he is buying a pre-assembled deck to try the game, I said why not, I would give it a go as well. I have never been really into CCGs, but lately I started to expand my horizon of geekdom, and this was the push I needed to get invested into this one as well. So far, we are both just trying to build a collection and understand all rules of the game, getting to know our cards, trying find a concept we can build our decks around. I won’t go into details regarding this, I would like to focus what this means to me as a gamer, as a roleplayer.

I think playing a little casual card gaming is doing good to me, getting my mind off tabletop RPGs for a while, helping me reset a bit and start fresh when I get back to campaign or adventure writing. It also inspires me with the artwork (illustrated by some great Hungarian artists) and flavor text of the cards. Unfortunately, Cards of Power doesn’t have such a rich and extensive backstory as Magic: The Gathering, not many books to read to get to know the world, but still a pretty good resource for inspirtaion.

Another aspect of playing a certain CCG besides roleplaying is that you have to get used to new rules, it’s not the usual rulebook you already know by heart. It just keeps you on your toes mentally. It’s also interesting to see that with every new booster a new icon or some new rules are introduced to the game. This is a curse and a blessing. On the plus side, the game stays interesting and you need to find new concepts to stay on top of the competition. The downside is that after 20 years there are so many icons, phrases, rules that a beginner like myself has a really hard time to absorb, understand and apply. But that’s just how CCGs go I guess. Still, it’s a nice challenge to build a deck and understand the rules well enough to be able to compete in the Beginner’s League effectively. That’s a goal I set for myself, to enter a few tournaments and not suck entirely. We’ll see how it goes…

To keep myself motivated (and also to have a good laugh) I watch The Gamers: Hands of Fate every now and then, it grabs the concept and characteristics of CCGs perfectly. It just makes me want to have an own Gamer Shop and organize tournaments!

Journey Quest – Season 3 Kickstarter launched

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment‘s fan funded comedy could return for season 3, if it succeeds in its Kickstarter campaign. I don’t have too much doubts about its succes, since it reached $47.000 on the first day, a great start!

I have just recently stumbled on this hilarius fantasy mini-series, and it has everything a gamer usually encounters at the table. I just had to watch the existing two seasons without getting up from my chair, it just took me away with the first episode. It’s witty, it’s 100% geeky, but also has the charm, which just makes you love the characters. It wasn’t a question that I would pledge too. You can watch both seasons on youtube here.

So if you liked The Gamers: Dorkness rising and Hands of Fate, be sure to check out Journey Quest as well!

 

Guild of the Dungeon Masters

Wizards of the Coast decided to create its very own surface for D&D fans all aroud the world to create, upload and sell their very own materials for their beloved game, the Dungeon Masters Guild. Personally, I welcomed this initiative, although for me it’s quite clear, that WotC will win the most with it, but hey, finally the fans and aspiring living room authors (myself included) have their shot at making their very own published adventure and maybe get a little renown without having to worry about getting scolded for using official, copyrighted materials.

I won’t go into details about the pros and cons about joining this community and publishing here, since I didn’t delve too deep enough into this topic and I think it’s still to early to get anything else than impressions about it. I will try and summarize what this opportunity means to me, what my concerns or aspirations would be if I ever decided to publish and upload any materials to the Dungeon Masters Guild, which I am really tempted with.

I think as an amateur writer and DM, this would be an ideal opportunity to just try and see where I would be at if I uploaded one of my own ideas for a huge community to see. I think there would be at least a few people who would download this material and hopefully be nice enough to rate it. A few sentences of feedback would be great as well, to see if there was something in particular which they liked/disliked. Also I wouldn’t dare to ask for money and set a price for my very first “product”. I would just set the “pay what you want” option and be done with it, and just feel honored if someone eventually decided to pay for it. So altogether the Dungeon Masters Guild would be the perfect place for me to try my wings at designing adventures, backgrounds, etc.

At first I don’t think I would have too much concerns. Okay, people can plunder my ideas, use them as they wish, but as an amateur it would be more of a compliment than a nuisance if I saw any of my ideas reappear in a different context. Also, WotC would take half of the money I could get for my beautiful PDFs. But again, as an amateur, who has a job and takes role playing as a hobby so far, it isn’t that much of a problem. I would be surprised if I got any money from “pay what you want” anyway! Of course, if I were a publisher or someone who makes a living from RPGs (not too many of those out there I believe), I would definitely think otherwise.

To summarize, as someone who enjoys coming up with new adventures, writing a bit for himself and just loves do dive into the fantasy world from time to time, this new opportunity would be one of the best to see whether I write as good as I think, or have good enough ideas, to get other people’s attention. All this a hypothesis for the time being of course, but hey, who knows where life takes me?

 

A brief prologue

After a couple of years blogging in my native language (Hungarian), I have finally decided to give it a go and write an RPG blog in English, so this is a short introduction of what there is to come.

I have been playing RPGs for more than ten years now, mostly being the DM, but every now and then I get the chance to play as well. On this blog my aim is to summarize the sessions I have on both sides of the screen, and also to write down some thoughts about dungeon mastering, systems, or just whatever that comes to mind.

One of my main focuses will be my brand new campaign I am currently preparing, hoping to bring it to my players in January 2016. It’s a dwarf-only campaign under D&D 5th Edition, in the kingdom-continent of Draekath. Currently I’m sketching up handouts for my players, most already completed and shared with them by now, the only one remaining is the biggest chunk of all (of course).  It’s not the easiest thing to design the full geography of a continent-sized campaign setting, that’s the biggest obstacle to tackle so far.

Right now I am a player in two campaigns, a very welcome change after years. One is a Star Wars Saga Edition campaign, which has been rolling for a year now, the other one we have just started, that’s a Warhammer Fantasy 2nd Edition game. I will try and summarize the latter’s sessions, there is no point recapping a full year’s gaming from the other, but maybe I will write a “Lessons Learned” post about that, there were some interesting things which are worth mentioning.