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The material on this site is owned by Samuel Penn, and any queries should be directed there. Most of the material on this site is licensed under CC-BY-SA. You can view my profile on Google+.

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Roleplaying and Wargaming

Glendale is an old website about gaming written by Samuel Penn. It may contain other things as well, but it's mostly related to gaming in some way. By gaming, I mean the tabletop variety - roleplaying games, wargames and sometimes boardgames. I play computer games, but I don't talk about them much (unless I'm writing them). Since some of the content here dates back to 1996 (when the address was on my bifrost domain at Demon), it can vary greatly in style.

Most of the content on here is entirely original. Some of it is based on material published by other people - e.g., game content for published RPGs or Wargames.

Campaigns Roleplaying Wargaming


Beyond the Warrens

The first part of the Underdark portion of my D&D 3.5 Roll20 campaign has been completed, with the party well out of D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth and rapidly approaching D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa. To mark this occasion, I've uploaded some of the maps that I've used recently to the campaign page.

Since the party has now reached 25th level, we're beginning (some might say we started a long time ago) to push the limits of the D&D game system. The Epic rules make normal adventuring really difficult, and given that the campaign was based around simple dungeon bashes this is making things hard. Whilst it may be suited to taking on single large creatures of high CR, the imbalance becomes very obvious when the adventure is in a small Drow settlement where even making a few NPCs level 20 doesn't make a lot of sense.

Part of the problem has probably also come down to the easy availability of magic items. A long time ago (about 2 years and about 20 levels or so) I decided that this was just going to be a simple sequence of dungeon bashes to try out playing in Roll20, and all downtime was abstracted to the point where any magic item could be purchased as long as the PC had the cash, and the item was within the GP limit of the town they were based out of. This does allow PCs to build highly optimised characters.

At this point I've decided to try and bring things to a close relatively quickly. We still have D2 and D3 to complete, as well as Q1 (which will probably be better suited for Epic play), but I'm not going to stretch it out any further than I have to.

However, it has given me an opportunity to finally use many of the books I bought but never used for d20, and I'm even using adventures I bought back in the early '80s for 1st edition and using them for the first (and probably last) time.

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· 10 Apr 2016 · Samuel Penn

The Hook Mountain Massacre

We've just completed the third part of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path for Pathfinder, bringing us to the halfway point with the characters at 10th level. We have a fairly straightforward set of characters - a Sorcerer, a Fighter, a Thief and a Cleric. For this chapter in the path, we switched to using the Pathfinder Unchained rules, and also to using the medium experience point progression (we had been using the fast progression, as recommended in the adventure).

If you're planning on playing in this, there may be spoilers ahead.

With a slower progression, I was able to bring in a few side quests to flesh things out a bit and introduce some more of the setting to the players. Not all side quests were followed up, and indeed some parts of the main adventure weren't completed so the party only just made it to 10th level by the end. This wasn't a particular problem though.

The fighter in particular feels way overpowered for the sort of foes they are going up against. The fight with the Gruals was particularly easy with most of them going down in one round, and though some of the ogres in Fort Rannick could hit hard, they also went down quite quickly. Standard ogres were pretty irrelevant (the majority being taken out with a single fireball).

The most dangerous critter in the whole adventure was the construct at Skull Crossing, which came close to TPKing the party, even though this didn't feel like it was meant to be hard. The biggest surprise was that the party failed to open the floodgates on the dam, mostly because they really didn't want to use the Thassilonian device. Shortly afterwards the dam burst, wiping out Turtleback Ferry (they had fortunately removed everyone's tattoos very early on) and flooding Whitewillow (as well as numerous settlements downstream).

They completed the adventure though, slaying Barl and finding the hint to take them back to Sandpoint. However, they aren't quite viewed as heroes by the locals.

This third part of the path felt a lot more of a straightforward hack and slash than the previous two, with the exception of the sudden moral quandary at the dam that I really wasn't expecting given how the characters had been played previously. It's also starting to suffer from the old D&D problem of power creep, and even though everyone has core classes, the differences between the character builds are starting to become very apparent (the fighter is the strongest character, the cleric the weakest, with the thief and sorcerer somewhere in the middle).

I'll probably run the 4th adventure (Fortress of the Stone Giants) at some point (maybe next year), though I don't have a burning desire to continue things right now.

Next up for our weekly gaming, we are probably going to be going back to Legend of the Five Rings, and I might start thinking about preparing some Savage Worlds.

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Descent Into the Depths

After getting sidetracked to deal with a Scarlet Brotherhood Necromancer (and then sidetracked to find a way to destroy the Eye of Vecna), the party of now (mostly) Epic Level adventurers have begun their Descent into the Depths of the Earth in our weekly Roll20 D&D 3.5 game.

Many months ago they dealt with an uprising of giants and goblins which had been engineered by the Drow Priestess Jhultana. She was dealt with, though they found mention of someone called Eclavdra of House Eilservs who was apparently managing it all from a location deep in the underdark. Having now dealt with all other business, they are now heading town the wide tunnel they discovered beneath the goblin caves.

About 10 miles along, and about 1 mile deep, they encounter a region of null magic (which given most of them are relying on items and supernatural effects to be able to see meant it suddenly went dark). The lighting of torches to progress further alerted ogres and giants up ahead to their presence, and they immediately came under attack by rocks and clubs from ogres and giants, which without the benefits of their usual magical protections was significantly more deadly than they were expecting.

Pushing forward (either on foot or by a teleport across the region) they encountered further stone giants, as well as Drow warriors and clerics. The party's wizard only just survived her own meteor swarm (thanks to a friend shield ring with the dwarf), and along with a horrid wilting (a greater meta magic rod of quickening taken from the previously mentioned necromancer) managed to clear things down of enough spell-buffed (unholy aura and other effects) drow to allow the cleric out of the silence'd area to start bringing her spells into effect.

The Druid (shapechanged into various creatures, including beholders and pit fiends) drove off reinforcements, and the Drow High Priestess in charge of the checkpoint was defeated with a single very unlucky fear save (she rolled a '1' when facing the Druid-Pit Fiend) just before she was going to rip the wizard apart with her tentacle rod.

In the end, the checkpoint was secured with only one party death (the rogue, who's ring of blinking failed him just before a much needed Mass Heal) and a couple of near deaths. It was one of the toughest fights in a while, and could have easily resulted in a lot more deaths, if not a TPK if things had gone slightly differently.

They now have a charmed Drow female, a blinded Drow male and an epic-level intelligent tentacle rod that very much wants to kill them, as well as a heavily fortified Drow checkpoint to explore.

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Sa'Vasku bio-ships I've finished painting my small number of Sa'Vasku bio-ships for Full Thrust. The Sa'Vasku are one of the original two alien races in the Tuffleyverse, and have the advantage of being able to reconfigure themselves during a battle. They were somewhat inspired by the Shadows from Babylon 5, and my first painting of Sa'Vasku went down the 'all black' route. This time though I've decided that a more colourful look would be better, along the lines of some cephalopods.

I don't intend to get a lot of Sa'Vasku. My thoughts are to limit them to just the bigger ships (shown here are a couple of Battlecruisers and a Superdreadnaught) as well as drone fighters.

Vas'Kaan'Rosh Superdreadnaught Shyy'Tha'Var Battlecruiser Sa'Vasku ships and drone fighters

I also don't see the Sa'Vasku as being necessarily bad guys (unlike the Kra'Vak), but they are fiercely protective of their territory, especially in systems where they are 'birthing' new ships. Sa'Vasku will often be unwilling to fight to the death as well except in a few circumstances.

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· 30 Aug 2015 · Samuel Penn

Epic Adventures

Upper Dungeons Lower Dungeons My D&D 3.5 campaign, played out every week using Roll 20, has now reached two milestones. The first is that the bad guy behind the various plots the PCs have been going up against, the Lich Kel Aval, has been destroyed and the Scarlet Brotherhood's plans for domination of the Hestmark Highlands have been stopped. The second is that most of the party is now 20th level.

What originally started as a “let's try out virtual gaming for a few weeks” has now been running for over a year, and has turned into an opportunity to try out all the various aspects of AD&D which I purchased books for but never got around to really using. Apart from running a conversion of Against the Giants, and an attempt at The World' Largest Dungeon, our preference has generally been for game systems as little like D&D as possible over the last 20 years.

Since the players are wanting to continue, the next books to explore will be a mixture of the new and the old. Obviously, we are moving into Epic territory, so the next set of adventures will explore a side of D&D I've never tried before. Though the group got up to the high teens in the Against the Giants adventure (3rd edition giants are a lot tougher than 1st edition), I haven't tried levels 20+ before and coming up with suitable challenges is going to be interesting.

Initially, the plan is to head towards Sigil, aka the City of Doors, and have some fun in the Outer Planes. The party found something really nasty during their assault on the Lich (the Eye of Vecna) and are looking for someone to help destroy it. They've been given a name - Mr Croop, a Githzerai sage who specialises in the destruction of artefacts, and a place - the Six Armed Slut, a brothel in Clerk's Ward. Should be easy.

After that though, they're heading back to deal with some of the other foes they encountered - the Drow. Amongst the earliest AD&D adventures I purchased back in the '80s were G1-3 (Against the Giants), D1-2 (Descents into the Depths of the Earth), D3 (Vault of the Drow) and Q1 (Queen of the Demonweb Pits). Though I got around to running the G series ~15 years ago, I've never run a party through the sequels (I've tried twice, both ended with TPKs somewhere in D1), and now seems a good time to try it.

D1-3 will be interesting to convert to Epic level play, but with the large almost-sandbox map of the Underdark there's plenty of room for really nasty dangers down in the depths of the earth, as well as some opportunity for plotting and scheming with the Drow and other intelligent denizens to provide more subtle challenges. Also of course, the Illithid will provide an opportunity to dig out my copy of the Psionics handbook.

The final plan will be to go after Lolth in her home in the Abyss, which in 3rd Edition really does require Epic level characters. I'm not sure yet exactly what level they'll need to be in order to defeat a goddess, but I'll work it out over the next few adventures. Should be fun.

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· 05 Jul 2015 · Samuel Penn
index.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/16 15:20 by sam