User Tools

Site Tools


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+.

Other pages:


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


Vault of the Drow

We have finally come to the end of the D&D 3.5 campaign I started over two and a half years ago. Starting at 3rd level, initially just as a short adventure to try out the online tabletop idea, it's seen the party climb up to around 28th level, giving the Epic level rules a try out. In the final battle against the servants of the Spider Queen, nobody died (though a couple came close).

Originally set in the Hestmark Highlands of the World of Greyhawk setting, and initially going up against the machinations of the Scarlet Brotherhood, it ended with a delve into the underdark, as I ran everyone through a somewhat high level version of D1-3 (the classic 1st edition AD&D adventures going up against the Drow). These are some of the earliest adventures I ever bought (I also have G1-3, and Q1, but I ran people through G1-3 shortly after 3rd edition first came out), so it was good to finally make use of them. I have tried two aborted campaigns using them before, but previously nobody ever got past D1.

I've decided definitely against continuing the campaign into Q1 (Queen of the Spiderweb Pits). Though it might be interesting, I'm sort of burned out from coming up with challenges for a party of Epic level adventurers that doesn't simply TPK them.

Things I learnt: Epic rules are broken. The Book of Exalted Deeds is really broken (but at least I've now got to use all the books I bought 15 years ago and never used). Letting players buy whatever equipment they have money for is also something I'd like to avoid in the future. Since the game started as a simple dungeon bash where I didn't want to worry about what happened in downtime, there were a number of well optimised characters that could be very difficult to touch without bringing in encounters designed to exploit their weaknesses (which, from a realism point of view I don't like doing too often).

Having said that, it wasn't a cake walk for the party, and there were plenty of deaths (which became a very temporary thing once the cleric gained access to True Resurrection) as well as close calls, but they all managed to avoid any TPKs.

Roll20 worked very well as a virtual tabletop platform, though it was heavy on the macro programming and API scripting (something myself and several other players had no problem with, since we've done this sort of thing as our day jobs). For the less technically interested, it was a pain. However, we started long before Roll20 had support for character sheets, which abstracts away the need for a lot of this, so hopefully our next game will we somewhat easier to manage when we're able to take advantage of all the new features.

In terms of a next game, I'm planning on starting a low level Pathfinder game set in the city of Magnimar. I intend this one to be a lot less dungeon bashing, with more focus on the implications of what people are doing, with a bit more politics and social complications than the D&D game had. Since I prefer Pathfinder to any of the D&D versions, this was probably also the last game of D&D I'll run (though I did think that back in the early '90s when I converted by 2nd Edition game to something else).

→

· 02 Sep 2016 · Samuel Penn

Shrine of the Kuo-Toa

Our Epic take on the classic D&D modules D1-3/Q1 continues, and some weeks ago we finished D2 - Shrine of the Kuo-Toa. Since a dungeon crawl doesn't really suit Epic level play, this adventure didn't play out at all like it was originally designed, and instead became a diplomacy mission to gain the aid of the Kuo-Toa against the Drow.

As it happens, the Kuo-Toa have an artifact that will help in a fight against Lolth, and the PCs managed to secure this after defeating a Drow Matriarch who was causing problems for these Kuo-Toa.

The map is something I drew/traced over a year ago, before I realised that such a map really wasn't going to be suitable by the time the PCs reached this area.

→

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.

→

· 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.

→

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.

→

index.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/16 15:20 by sam