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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.

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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.

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Party Events

Using the Ultimate Intrigue rules to provide a more tactical approach to social interactions for PCs at a major social event has added an interesting layer to things for my Pathfinder game (see Party Time). However, I've added a couple of extra layers of my own.

Firstly, for each phase of the evening, a PC can chose to be seen doing something. This is in parallel to any specific social interactions with NPCs for discovery or influence. It's effectively a short term reputation which may benefit or hinder the PC's interaction with particular NPCs.

There are seven different activities (just like there are seven Thassilonian sins):

Sin Activity Skill Save
Lust Flirting. Diplomacy, Profession (Courtesan) Will
Gluttony Eating and drinking. Survival, Heal Fort
Pride Showing off dancing or singing. Perform (Singing or Dancing)
Wrath Being argumentative. Intimidate, Perform (Oratory) Will
Sloth Being a loner. Stealth, Perception
Greed Admiration of wealth. Appraise, Knowledge (Nobility)
Envy Snide comments and insults. Bluff, Perform (Comedy) Will

Each requires a skill check, and success gives a 'bonus' in that sin. The skill DC starts at 6, and goes up by +3 for each point of bonus the PC already has in that sin. These give bonuses or penalties when influencing different NPCs.

For example, Gluttony and Envy give a bonus for Lady Sila Crusca (she gets on with people have a good time, but is also interested in malicious gossip). Sloth and Wrath give a penalty for her (unsociable people, or those having loud arguments don't interest her).

Some of the activities have a saving throw. Failure can have side effects. Already one PC has failed a Will save for Lust (spend the next phase 'distracted', there is now an untidy bedroom but you've gained a minor favour from some minor NPC). Another has failed Gluttony (caused a mess that servants need to clean up, and a penalty to subsequent saves).

Wrath and Envy fails haven't happened yet, so the PCs aren't aware of the repercussions. Succeeding at Sloth also gives a chance to hear some rumours.

Finally, another possibly background activity is to spend time nosing around the villa where the party is being held. This has been done just enough to know that they have an option of exploring the Library, the Bedrooms or the Servant quarters. If the PCs opt for taking this further, then they'll find out what happens when they do this.

2018/11/18 15:47 · sam

Party Time

I'm bringing the current run of my Pathfinder campaign to a break point, and I'm ending things with a bit of a party. The PCs have been invited to a 'house warming' being given by a new noble family recently arrived in Magnimar from Kintargo, in Cheliax. Obviously, they are worshippers of Asmodeus, but you shouldn't hold that against them.

I'm making heavy (possibly too heavy) use of the Influence rules in Ultimate Intrigue, and giving the PCs a chance to talk to various NPCs using the rules for discovery and influence. There's nineteen different NPCs they can talk to, plus a generic 'servants' group they can talk to.

Rather than 'influence' providing influence over an NPC, I'm using it as a means to gather information from the NPC. Each level of influence provides more information. For example, here's Lady Sila Crusca:


Lady Sila Crusca

Lady Sila is the wife of Lord Malchus Crusca. She is in her fifties, with long white hair. She is wearing a velvet green dress, threaded with gold and silver.

She is known to have had a relationship with Lonjiku Kaijitsu, and gave birth to his daughter Amaya Kaijitsu who now lives in Westcrown. She is enjoying the food and drink, as well as the gossip, which she seems to take part in using multiple languages.

Discovery
  • Knowledge (Geography) or Craft (Calligraphy), DC 14
  • Knowledge (Nobility) or Linguistics, DC 19
  • Sense Motive, DC 24
Strengths (-4)
  • Anyone trying to chat her up. She made that mistake once, not again.
Weakness (+2)
  • Has an interest in Westcrown, and willing to discuss events in that city with anyone.
  • Is open that her daughter Amaya was fathered by Lonjiku Kaijitsu, and will talk rumours about what has happened to that family.
  • Tian women, or anyone in exotic foreign clothing styles.
Influence Skills
  • DC 14; you can use Linguistics to impress her with your multilingual talents, or Perform (Oratory) come up with some good haiku.
  • DC 19; you can use Bluff to better understand a woman who has lived with secrets, or Diplomacy to win her trust.
  • DC 24; you can use Profession (sailor) for she seems unusually interested in talking about sea currents along the Lost Coast.
Influence Benefits
  • She is Neutral, Aristocrat 4. Her only daughter, Amaya, was fathered by Lonjiku Kaijitsu, and she took her real (deceased) father’s name a couple of years ago. She now lives in Westcrown. +2 Malchus Crusca
  • The Kaijitsu family have mostly left their holdings in Magnimar, but she is trying to talk Amaya to coming back to the city and taking things over.
  • She has been trying to talk her husband into finding the wreck’s of Amaya’s grandfather’s fleet along the Lost Coast.
  • Aristocrats +1

The rules in Ultimate Intrigue set the DC of skill checks based on the average party level. I'm basing it on the NPCs level (10 + level). This makes some a lot easier to influence than others.

One of the first things that can be discovered about her is her alignment and character classes. Not all NPCs are so easy to find such things out about (some may give inaccurate, or incomplete, information for the first level or two of influence, especially those who are multi-classed).

Some of the NPCs give bonuses to influence other NPCs. So in the case of Lady Sila, she grants a +2 bonus to influence her husband as one of her influence benefits. The bit about the shipwreck is a possible adventure hook, and possibly a clue for a previous plot point they've been sitting on for a while. Her very last benefit is providing a reputation bonus to the Aristocrats faction.

Part of the aim is to figure out who can be spoken to, in order to get information and bonuses to make the harder NPCs easier to influence. Some of the PCs have quite high skills in some areas, which is turning out to be really beneficial for them.

I'm running the evening's events from 8pm through to midnight (when they know they have a special meeting with the head of the family). So far they are up to 9:30pm, and have fully 'unlocked' 3 of the NPCs. They are very unlikely to be able to talk to and find out all the information possible over the course of the evening.

The mechanisation and gamification of the interactions with the NPCs has worked quite well so far, making things a lot more tactical. Rather than just “I'll talk to Lady Renova and make a Diplomacy check”, there's more tactical planning involved.

In order to gamify things further, I've added in some extra options of what the PCs can do of my own. I'll cover them in the next post.

2018/11/18 15:30 · sam

Planetary Rings

I've been adding support for planetary rings to Worldgen over the last couple of weeks, and I now have added the display of them to the 3D view. Initially I played with the idea of rendering them as discrete points, much like I do for asteroid belts. This gives the advantage that they can be rendered correctly under gravity, with inner points orbiting faster than outer points. However, the result doesn't look much like the rings of Saturn.

So now rings have a texture generated at creation time, which is stored in the database. This is then 'just' applied to the ring object as a texture. I say just, because it required some hacking of the threejs library code to apply a texture to a ring in a circular pattern. Fortunately, I'm not the first person who wanted to do that.

The texture currently uses just a very simple algorithm for drawing lines of random colours. The only 'intelligence' is a chance of a gap forming in the rings, where the opacity is reduced. Other than that, there are no patterns or attempts to change the colour between random variations of the same hue.

Currently though, the placement and size of the rings isn't ideal, and I need to put more work into making them look a bit more 'realistic' (where realistic is 'like Saturn', since that's what everyone expects). I do allow for thinner rings, and multiple rings (the ones shown are single rings which have gaps in the texture), but more variations could probably be added.

Note that since all planets lack an axial tilt, their rings are similarly flat. Also, since the ring textures are just lines at the moment, they don't rotate.

2018/11/03 12:32 · sam

Clues

A recent adventure for the Pathfinder game I’m running was more of an investigation to find out what had happened to a couple of young lovers, which involved talking to people and searching for clues. I decided to go for a more mechanical approach to things, rather than just feeding clues with a single Perception check, or relying on them asking the right questions (though there was a bit of the latter thrown in as well).

For the searching for clues, the I gave the option of a number of different skills which could be used, which allowed different characters to contribute. So Sense Motive could be used to search a room, because you’re looking for indications of motive. Knowledge (Nobility) can be used, to find things that might be important to a noble. Rather than just having the person with a high Perception gain all the glory.

So, for example:

Perception
  • DC 11: Some clothes are missing, including a pair of boots, and a sword is not hanging from where it should be.
  • DC 14: The window is closed, but unlocked. It would be easy to get down from here to the garden.
  • DC 17: There are some boot prints on the window sill.
Sense Motive
  • DC 11: The bed looks like it was slept in the previous night.
  • DC 14: There’s no sign of a rush to leave. Everything is neat and tidy.
Knowledge (Nobility)
  • DC 11: There’s a collection of pamphlets for plays, including The Bumbling Goblin, Faerie of the Opera, A Day and Night for Miss Zeldana, and The Inconstant Nymph on the table. Zeldana is put on at the Rose and Rake, the others are for the Triodea. Follow up: Lore (Magnimar) 24: His first cousin, once removed (Durstin Versade), owns the Triodea.
Survival (in the garden)
  • DC 14: Probably went down the side of the house, across the garden and out through a side gate. Would not have taken him near the stables.

It actually worked quite well, and I allowed a bit of flexibility, especially when players wanted to ask questions or use skills not listed (so using Stealth to figure out the most likely way to leave the house without disturbing anyone, rather than Survival. That gave him the route, but not the fact that it would have avoided the stables (which a couple of horses were missing from, and a clue that the horses were possibly moved before hand, rather than trying to get them out of the city at night)).

This sort of things could just be roleplayed, with maybe the odd skill check (and that’s my usual approach), but this split the workload between characters so they all got to do something, and it gives more of a feeling that they might fail to get all the clues if they don’t have the right skills. The chance of getting nothing though, and not being able to progress at all was quite low.

There were also multiple ways of getting similar information. There’s a clue pointing at the theatres, but talking to the stableboy also had similar information. Putting both together gives a clear direction of which path to follow, but either one should give some hints which could be followed up with a bit more investigation.

For talking to witnesses and getting information out of them, I used a slightly modified form of the Pathfinder intrigue and influence rules for social combat. My main reason for using these was that the next adventure is going to be a party where I’m planning on using them quite heavily, and I wanted to give an introduction to the rules before hand.

Anyway, the PCs think the lovers sneaked out of the city at night to elope, and are heading to Sandpoint. So next session will probably be heading out of Magnimar along the Lost Coast Road to find them.

2018/10/28 18:22 · sam

Google Plus

For the last seven years I've used Google+ as my main place to 'hangout' online. Despite the naysayers, there's been a lot of good content and interesting people on there over the years. However, it's been announced that it's being shuttered late next year, so I need to find a new place to be.

Two places I'm currently looking at are:

Pluspora has a very different feel compared to G+, lacking a lot of the features I've come to like. MeWe is a walled garden, and doesn't currently allow public posts - you have to be a signed in user (at the very least) to see anyone's content.

Not sure yet which one I'm going to settle on, but there will probably be posts to both for a while.

2018/10/14 10:02 · sam
index.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/16 15:20 by sam