The RPGrrl's Blog

Ben over at Troll in the Corner was kind enough to allow me and my group of girls participate in his Aruneus play testing.  A few weeks ago, he posted his first testing challenge on his forum.  I had originally applied to participate with my Game 2 Grrls (as opposed to my Game 1 Grrls, who meet on every other Saturday), but the G2G weren’t able to pull it together in time to participate in the first challenge.  So, last minute, I mentioned the opportunity to slay hoardes of zombies to my G1G group, who leapt at the opportunity to participate!

I was worried that coming up with our team name would be difficult, since we came up with several names that no one liked during our initial discussion (“Velvet Bludgeon” and “Valkyries of Zombie Doom” were among my favourites), but once we moved the conversation to e-mail we settled on a name very quickly.  Among the rejected suggestions were “Corpse Crushing Cuties” and “Lipstick and Machetes.”  Ultimately the team chose “Post Mortem Slayers” or “PMS” for short.

Since character creation is so time consuming and we were up against a significant time constraint, I volunteered to randomly generate their character sheets once they’d selected a race and class.  Did you know there aren’t any random character generators for Pathfinder?  Or, if there are, they are not easily located via Google searches or Twitter enquiries.  If you, dear reader, happen to know of one, please leave the link in the comments!  In the end, we had to do all the character creation by hand, which ate up just over two hours of our 3-1/2 hour game window.  I found the trove tokens 3.75 generator useful, though it still required me to enter all the information, and then generated a pretty sheet for me (that I couldn’t save to PDF and print *pout*)

Once everyone’s characters were created (An Elf Cleric, Human Paladin, Dwarf Fighter, & Human Sorceress), we ran headlong into battle with the hoard as laid out by Ben for the challenge.  The Sorceress, known as “Necessary” wielded a sickle that had the helpful additional power of knocking a foe prone, which came in handy for Coup De Grace attacks.  She was desperate to try out her burning hands, but knew better than to waste one of her only 2 level one spells on the first of 12 waves.  The Dwarf, Cheggers, started out dual wielding axes, but eventually found his maulaxe was wonderfully adept at zombie-skull-crushing if he took the time to intentionally swing at the head.  Of course, it was pretty much neck-in-neck between the Fighter and the Paladin, going by the name “Justified,” when it came to kill count.  The Cleric, Liriel, was marvelously pleased with the effect her channel positive energy ability had during the second wave, and couldn’t wait to fire it off again (though she promised her team mates she wouldn’t use it all up right away.)  The G1G had a fantastic time slaughtering the first two waves, but that’s as far as we got when our Dwarven Fighter’s husband arrived to take her home.

No one wanted to stop, though!  We had just been in the process of discussing how to work it out so we could just go on playing tonight ’til we were done, when he drove up.  So, rather than stop at the beginning of round 3, the whole group unanimously agreed that we have to meet up again on Monday to finish the fight!  Isn’t that wonderful?  My Post Mortem Slayers are so committed to ridding the world of the undead scourge… awwwww.

So, I’ll be back to post more about our Zombie Hoard Challenge after we finish on Monday night!


UPDATE: Sorry to disappoint folks (and especially Ben @Trollitc!) There was a sudden death that effected three of my players, and we were unable to get together Monday to complete our challenge. 😦


{October 9, 2010}   All RP, All the Time!

So, I am currently involved in two all-girl D&D groups. Girl Game 1 (which I will probably rename, or let the players come up with their own team name) met for our first session this weekend. We were down one player, MIA, but the other three were there and raring-to-go!

In the week leading up to the beginning of this game, I e-mailed several resources to my mostly-new players. Before I detail what I sent, I have to thank the large and incredibly talented RPG blogging community for the helpful hints and tweaks they have released into the wild gaming world. There are so many of you out there, sharing and doing your bit to make gaming better!

I had decided early on that, since all the gamers wanted to learn the D&D 4th Ed rules, I needed to direct more focus on the role-playing aspect of the game, and deflect it from the roll-playing and combat.  I really wanted the girls to invest a lot of thought into their characters: their back stories, their personalities, and how they were going to play them at the table.  I sent them all a pre-game prep e-mail which explained that all they needed to prepare before the first session were elements of their back story, and included a link to Your Character’s Old Job from The Sorcerer’s Skull, to help them understand how whoever they were for the first 20, 50, 200 years of their lives can and should influence why they decided to become adventurers, and what sort of adventurer they became.  Also, I took a page from Gaming Brouhaha, who adapted Mouseguard‘s BITs for 4e.  His house rules really spoke to me as a useful thing to include in my campaign.  After the links and explanation of why I was including them, I copied out an old back story from one of my previous characters.

I was really pleased with the response!  We had some slight technical difficulties and two of the players didn’t get the message until very late in the week, but we managed.  When we sat down, each player took a turn telling her back story, which was loads of fun!  Then we took a break from personal narratives and explored the borrowed BITs in more detail, each player explaining how and why they came to have these beliefs/instincts/traits.  After that, I explained to them a little more about the world we were playing in, and told them the next part of our character building exercise was that they would do some shared story telling for me.  I wanted each of them to tell me how they had met one of the other party members.  Before I could even finish explaining the exercise, they launched into a raucous retelling of the bar fight during which they all first laid eyes on one another.  We had a grand time!

All in all, with a little bit of visiting, but a whole lot more character exploration, we were at it for three hours.  Not a single die was rolled.  In fact, I found out all their races and classes ahead of time and printed off randomly-generated character sheets for all the players so we wouldn’t have to take the time to roll up their characters.  I often find that players, especially new ones, get really hung up on all the numbers on those sheets (especially when they’re the one that fills them out).  I was a little worried the random sheets wouldn’t go over well, but to my surprise (and relief!) all the players were happy to adopt them, and even glad I’d printed out full sheets so they didn’t have to do all that page-flipping!

I do have to say, though, that the random character generator of the demo version of D&D Insider regularly spits out characters with one 20 ability score, usually one 8, and mostly 10s.  This caused a little discussion around the table — our cleric was “randomly” rolled with a 20 wisdom and an 8 intellect, for example.  What’s more, with that 8 for intellect, that meant her religion skill was at a minus value!  “So you’re worldly-wise, but not much for the book-learning,” I offered, which she laughed at.  “More specifically, you’re a do-er.  You learn by watching and doing, and you’re naturally inclined to be good at herbalism and spiritualism, but not dogma.  You can commune with your god wherever the moment dictates; you don’t need to go to a specific building or recite a specific prayer.”  We were all pretty happy with that conclusion.  I’m planning on buying a subscription, and hoping the full version has more customizability built in.

All in all, I felt it to be one of the most constructive character-generating sessions I’ve ever been involved in.

{October 2, 2010}   Read an RPG in Public Week
Being Seen

Public RPG reading

This week, as I discovered on The Escapist‘s blog was 2010’s third “Read an RPG Book in Public Week.”  There are three of them per year to give you plenty of chances to remember to participate, and they are based around three important dates per year.  The first week surrounds (starting on the Sunday on or before and ending on the Saturday on or after) March 4th, GM’s Day (and also the anniversary of Gary Gygax’s death); July 27th, the anniversary of Gary Gygax’s birthday; and October 1st, the anniversary of D&D co-creator Dave Ameson’s birthday.

As this was the very first “Read an RPG Book in Public Week” I’d ever heard of, I was excited to participate.  I tried to figure out all the public places I was going to be this week, which turned out to be a sadly short list.  I really only had two places I was “out” this week: the doctor’s office and a special regional food producers’ Market Day at the Old Fire Hall here in town.  I took the same book with me both times: the Pathfinder Core Rule Book.  Ironically, I was called into the doctor’s office almost immediately upon arriving at the clinic, and therefore didn’t actually get the chance to read in public.  I was also too busy to get through more than 3 paragraphs today at the Market Day, but I did manage to spend more time with my book open and visible, and I did get chatted up about it!

The person who took interest in the book was a woman, of retirement age, who was also volunteering at the Market Day.  She asked what I was reading, and I explained that it was basically the rules to a game I play, and had been invited to run for a group of girls starting next week.

“That whole thing is a game?” she asked, a little incredulously.

“In effect, yes,” I responded.  “The player makes up a character they want to portray in the game, and the Game Master leads all the players through adventures where they beat monsters, solve puzzles, collect treasure… that sort of thing.”

We were then interrupted by a customer.  Afterward, though, she asked what it was I did that I should be playing this game.  I wasn’t sure I understood the question, but then I realized she thought that it was probably somehow related to my volunteer work with a board or NGO.  “It’s a hobby I’ve had for about 12 years,” I answered.  “Just a game that we play for fun.”

She seemed satisfied with that answer, and did not pursue the line of questioning any further, but I was pleased that I got some real outside-of-the-geek-world interaction in, talking about RPGs.  I had succeeded in the goal of Read an RPG Book in Public Week: make the hobby more visible.

All in all, it was a fun idea, and a fun event to participate in.  Already I’m looking forward to March, and my next chance to officially participate in the event, though I will probably be found reading RPG rule books in public on dates other than these specified weeks.  It was cold out today, for October 2nd, and the wind was up.  Maybe for the July date the weather will be sunny and calm, and I will be able to convince my group to take a little picnic to the park and play an RPG in public, and see what kind of reaction we get.  A crowd of 5 women laughing and having fun ought to catch someone’s attention, don’t you think?

et cetera