August 7th, 2002

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Kremlin

Computer's working for a bit. It worked for over an hour before locking up, and then it did restart the next time.

I feel that I ought to be doing something to diagnose it during this fleeting moment that it's on, but I don't know what. At least we did some backups.

Anyway: tonight I played Kremlin at Dani's house with Dani, Char, Chris, Steve, and Darrel. The game had some nice touches, but I coudln't really grasp the strategy. As it turned out, almost every politician I had chosen to influence was slightly more influenced by someone else, so I didn't have a very good game. We didn't manage to finish the game, but Char had a good lock on victory when we quit.
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D&D Jul-30-2002

I've been meaning to write about last week's D&D session. It was a good session, IMHO--there was a climactic point of the adventure that actually had some excitement.

There was a bit of continuing discussion of wacky ways to get the horses across the chasm, but they abandoned those ideas. I was glad of that; swinging the horses across on a rope did not contribute to an Epic Fantasy Atmosphere.

The players even recognized the shelter from marauding rocs that I had conveniently provided. All that was required was eliminating the carrion crawlers--who did manage to paralyze quite a few of the party before they were finally killed.

The PCs spent the night there, then crossed the gorge in the morning. They followed the ring's guidance up a mountainside, with one combat with a giant centipede attacking Turok while he was clinging to a rope. I had hoped for the precarious position of the combat to be more exciting--it ended up being fairly easy. On the other hand, the players were worried about a big combat coming up, and hoarding their reserves for that. (This hoarding-reserves thing seems to work as a way to increase excitement--I should keep it in mind.)

Once at the top, they rounded the peak and saw a roc pursuing a griffin in aerial combat. They quickly concluded that the griffin was the duke, transformed. (I'm not quite sure how they reached that conclusion so quickly--the module tried to make it ambiguous whether it was the roc or the griffin. Though I suppose that seeing the roc before helped guide them.)

I had made sure the party had some way to restore the Duke to health, and I was proud of Lori for quickly remembering that she had a scroll of Dispel Magic. Casting Dispel Magic on the griffin/duke while he was flying was perhaps enthusiastic, but Turok managed to break his fall.

Then the roc managed to snatch Turok, and did plenty of damage to him. (We learned about the grappling rules, and how improbable it was to break free from a roc.)

Kyle managed to jump onto the roc's back and start stabbing it with one hand while holding on tightly with the other hand. This was cool.

Then Prolix managed to distract the roc with an illusion of a bloody griffin, and then hide the party with an invisibility sphere. It was a perfectly apt use of those two spells.

(I had toned down the roc a bit, because I feared it might insta-kill the weaker characters. I felt I hit the right balance--players were very worried about Turok's safety, but no one actually died.)

There was one fly in the ointment when Dani decided that the flarestone should work differently than I'd previously ruled. I wish that he wouldn't do that.

And the players all got up to level 6, which will mean a substantial increase in their monster-hurting capacity. I'm probably going to have to increase the challenge of the monsters they fight substantially.
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Omega World

Kevin's given me a couple of copies of Dungeon magazine. The first issue he gave me was great, because it had an adventure that I could plug in with only minor modifications. (Though I need to make some more modifications now that the PCs have leveled.)

The most recent issue, though, didn't have any adventures that really suited my plans. However, the Polyhedron side of the magazine has a d20 game called Omega World, a d20 adaptation of the old Gamma World game.

It's very clear about what it wants to be: a silly science-fiction game with an extremely relaxed attitude towards realism or play balance, where characters die off often and new ones get rolled up fast.

And from what I can tell from reading, it succeeds at its goal admirably. There's lots of goofy fun with random mutations (the summary for the "No arms" mutation says "Good morning, Mr. Stumpy"), strange technological relics (the text says, "I have to call this a 'laser sword', but you're under no such obligation'), and so forth.

It makes me want to play an adventure or so.