Expedition – My First Character

So, I went ahead and created a character for Expedition. Here he is! I haven’t really picked equipment for him yet, but suffice it to say he will at the very least have a sword. If you are wondering about any rules, well, download the game and check it out; it’s free, after all!

Name: Darius Rosthorn
Template: Mage

Skill Potentials

Spry
Darius has always been active and limber in spite of his arcane studies.
Confers a bonus to tests involving tumbling.

Rough Around the Edges
Before he apprenticed, the young wizard-to-be didn’t have it so easy.
Provides a bonus to social rolls in the poorer parts of town.

Reluctant Leader
Sometimes people just listen to him.
Gives a bonus to tests to convince others to undertake a given course of action.

Defining Potential

Ritualist
Darius readily took to the obscure formulae and incantations of magic.
Darius gets a bonus to any test performing, learning, deciphering, or investigating ritual magic.

Quirk Potentials

Damned Scion
“You cannot escape destiny, Darius. It flows through your blood.”
Darius can always sense the taint of demonic powers, and can understand the language of demons.

Light Sleeper
“Sometimes I truly wonder if you shut your eyes at all.”
It is difficult to surprise Darius while he is sleeping, as he seems to be preternaturally alert. Interestingly this heightened alertness doesn’t carry over into his waking hours.

Perks
AGILITY, ELEMENTALIST

Expedition Beta is here at last!

Two days ago my friend Dennis Santana (aka Wyatt Salazar) posted the most recent version of Expedition, which I’ve spoken about previously on this blog.

I’m still in the middle of reading it, but in short, it’s damn good and looks like a lot of fun. He’s really streamlined it into something impressive, with conflicts being simpler to resolve and yet more rewarding, and he’s done a lot of good work on the Research phase. It’s come quite a ways since the Alpha playtest.

I’m glad that the Oblate is still in, as it was my favorite template, and he’s added a new one: the Villager, which is neat.

I will definitely write more about it here in the coming days once I’ve had a chance to look over it some more, and will try to get a playtest session together. In the meantime, you should download it, read it, play it, and give him some feedback!

Monte Cook Departs Wizards of the Coast

I’m sure the limited audience of my blog have all heard the news by now, and I don’t really have too much to add to the rampant speculation discussion (let’s face it though, I have plenty of my own speculation). However, considering I’ve been going on about Arcana Unearthed the past week or so, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least make mention of it.

From 2001 until 2006, Monte Cook was my favorite game designer without question. In fact, he’s the person who made me even care about game designers as individuals. I felt 3rd Edition was a huge, fresh improvement to Dungeons & Dragons, and his work on the d20 System through Malhavoc Press was inspiring to me on several levels.

Arcana Unearthed probably remains my favorite setting, although Dark Sun, Council of Wyrms, and Eberron come close. (Sadly I never played much Planescape, which is a little ironic in the circumstances, but I feel I would have enjoyed it.)

I have a lot of mixed feelings about D&D Next, so Monte leaving the project doesn’t necessarily impact me as much as you might think, but I do wish him luck in his future endeavors and I think I’ll be keeping a closer eye on what he’s doing these days. I lost track after I got out of college, perhaps because he’d also gotten out of RPG design for a while, so we’ll see what happens!

Junrath – Bare Bones

My last roommate was a huge fan of HBO’s Deadwood, and she got me into it as the second season was wrapping up. If you’ve never seen it, it was a stark, brutal, unromanticized vision of the Wild West, yet it was almost Shakespearean in its scope. She loved it. I fell in love with it.

I knew I wanted to start an Arcana Unearthed campaign, but I wasn’t sure where to set it. I didn’t want to start off in a place close to a metropolis like De-Shamod (the capital city) or Ka-Rone (a major port), because that would be way too much of an info bomb for me and my players. I wanted a way to slowly filter in information as we needed it, and at the time I was still very much into the standard RPG frontier setting. Deadwood provided the inspiration I needed. I didn’t really need all the swearing, but I liked the idea of a town that was far enough away from the seat of power that it could make its own rules, yet it still felt the long grasp of civilization reaching out to control it from time to time.

I named it Junrath and set it in the south, quite a distance from the gleaming cities of the North, not terribly far from the desert of Zalavat where I wanted to steer the campaign eventually, and got to work. It was going to be Deadwood in the lands of the Diamond Throne! That is not what happened at all, of course. But here are a few things I did…

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Scorched Sands — An Explanation

As the astute reader will have surely noticed, I have dwelled a lot on the past in my last few posts. I confess a bout of nostalgia has certainly been overtaking me. I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to run an RPG in the foreseeable future, but I am definitely getting a lot of inspiration from my old Arcana Unearthed books and my memories of the campaign I ran.

In all honesty it only lasted a few months, but it was memorable to me. Maybe because it was the last real game I had the opportunity to run. By this point I had begun naming my campaigns, usually based on some theme I wanted to explore that we often would never get to but which would guide where I was going. The Tides of Tymarre, Under a Sky of Green (my unsuccessful reboot of my Rimfaust campaign), and Scorched Sands and Souls. I even had a World of Darkness game: The Tallahassee Tango. Alliteration clearly featured heavily in my naming schemes of the day.

In my previous post about Scorched Sands and Souls I posted my aborted campaign “bible,” which I’d intended to pass on to one of the players so that they could keep the game going in spite of my moving away. Life, naturally, happens, and those plans didn’t really pan out the way any of us intended. In the write-up, I mentioned I would write about the plot threads that featured in the campaign. Unfortunately I didn’t get that far. I wish I did. I don’t remember some of them. Others I do, and for posterity’s sake I want to put some of them down.

So, why “Scorched Sands and Souls“? Glad you asked!

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Arcana Unearthed — Scorched Sands and Souls

Time for another trip down memory lane, as we’ve been doing the past few days. This time, though, we are exploring my post-Japan game of Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed, which is without a doubt my favorite game to ever come out of the d20 System boom. I would still run it in an instant, given the opportunity.

I consider myself to have run two successful campaigns: my early college Rimfaust game (3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons) and this one. Although the game that Markus and I ran in Japan went well, it faded off at the end and never reached a truly satisfying conclusion.

Unfortunately I don’t have many extant notes about the AU game. The following notes were actually written after the game had wrapped up, as I was moving away and the intention was to pass the torch on to another GM. Sadly that didn’t happen, and in fact my “campaign bible” as I called it ends quite abruptly, as you’ll see. Still, it contains some interesting reflections on my opinions about running a game that I thought I’d share.

Everything’s after the cut, per usual.

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Dark Happenings in Darkport

Continuing on from last night, here are some notes for my campaign in Tymarre, which I titled Dark Happenings in Darkport. There are some crossed out sections, which I have included for completeness’ sake. We were playing Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 at the time, which had only been out about a year.

The continuity between this and some of my later notes is a bit fuzzy. I have two parts titled Dark Happenings, and this one is marked “ORIGINAL” in large letters, so I can only surmise that something happened along the way. I wish I could remember. I recall there was another town, Almand, which I don’t see in my notes, so it is possible I merely relocated the adventure.

Sadly I don’t have notes for the entire campaign, either, just the first few bits. Such is the way of things!

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Tides of Tymarre

From 2003 to 2004 I lived in a dormitory in Japan. During that time I discovered that many of the students in our international group were all closet D&D players. We tracked down some dice (the one thing I’d forgotten to bring along) and got to it.

I whipped up a campaign world I called the Tides of Tymarre. Tymarre was an archipelago settled by a half-elven explorer named Rhys Cristaire, which had once been home to a Mesoamerican-inspired group of lizardmen (yeah yeah). However, even as Cristaire landed his ships, it had long since been abandoned. So, some 200 years passed, and various factions arose on the islands. The largest island was home to the crystal city of Cyrais.

These are some notes I found from before the first session, where I set up the initial scenario and made a few notes as to the greater story arc that was going on. It’s a bit disjointed, but there you go. Join me after the cut.

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