Saturday, June 30, 2012

Character Questionnaire

As a DM I like to know as much as possible about the characters who are participating in the story I am weaving with my game. I want to know exactly what they look like and where they are from.  The more they can tell me the better. If that character has a long lost love I want to know. If they are one half of a pair of twins that is something I feel I need to know. I have a character questionnaire that I have my players fill out before we start a new game.  This is the minimum that I want from my players and if they want to come with more and add on to it that is great!  Since I know I am not the only DM out there who does this I thought I would share my Character Questionnaire. Here it is:


Overall Appearance and Style:

Personality and Mannerisms:

Brief History:

Home Life:
name of hometown:
your role in town:
social status:
name (or description) of an establishment or two:

Family and Friends (list at least two, including a couple words to describe their personality):

Two prejudices or strong opinions:

What is in your character's pockets, right now?

How did you come to your powers and class abilities initially?





Do you have a character questionnaire that you have your players fill out? What questions do you ask? What information do you want from your players? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New game coming, Question to my readers

I am a happy DM right now. My wife’s 17 year old brother lives with us and we have decided that we are going to play a one-on-one game of Dungeons and Dragons. Since I live with him, there isn’t a lot of prep in getting a session going.  That has been one of my biggest problems with playing since my daughter was born (Shaylee is 1 year old now, as of this past Friday!)

One thing stands in my way: I am having a hell of a time coming up with the hook. I have the basic plot of the campaign and some of the major players. If you read my blog you are at least a little familiar with my homebrew game world named Verdenheim.

Malcolm Reynolds in his
Badass Longcoat
If you are not familiar with it, Verdenheim is a completely homebrewed world for the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Verdenheim is a flat world, where the sun revolves around the world first from one side of the world to the other. On the “topside” of the world is where the mortal races of man and elf reside. The “underside” is home to the magic of the world and the elder races such as the Eladrin. Although I do not refer to it as such, the underside of the world can be seen as the Fey Wild of Verdenheim.

The center of the world, under the ground near the topside surface belongs to the Dwarves, while the underground closer to the underside is the home of the Goblins and other dark creatures of magic and faerie.

Anyhow, the campaign I am planning will focus around the machinations of The Sorceress Queen.  The Sorceress Queen, as her title suggests, is both a magic user and the queen of her realm. The character will slowly be introduced to the Sorceress Queen and her nefarious plans, first meeting a lieutenant in the Longcoats.  The Longcoats are the private paramilitary force loyal to the Sorceress Queen and none other. They can loosely be described as a cross between Those Wacky Nazis and The Badass Longcoat tv tropes. 

Mining Vehicle from Avatar
There will be a Steampunk feel to the game with machines being built using both physics and magic.  Among the various mechanical anachronisms will be the focus of the campaign.  The Dreadnaughts.  The Dreadnaughts are huge personnel carrying vehicles, large enough to crush a house, similar looking to the minging vehicles in James Cameron's Avatar. They are powered by mass quantities of magic and are fed that magic by large cables that syphon magic from the underside of Verdenheim.

Since my brother-in-law will play either an Eladrin or an Elf, involving him with the Longcoats and the Sorceress Queen will be fairly easy but coming up with the initial hook is driving me nuts.  I don’t think I want to start with the prototypical “You are sitting in a tavern, when…” beginning. 

So I bring this question to you, my readers. What hooks have you used? Which ones were successful? Which ones weren’t?  What advice do you have?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In search of inspiration

Hello Dear Readers,

searching for inspiration
I am in search of some inspiration.  I am currently bringing out some old game and world building notes and I am slowly transferring them into digital format on my laptop. But I am also trying to weed out those notes and snippets that would be boring to you, the reader. I have a few segments that have been popular or at least consistently readable on this blog, including Trying on a new skin, What's in your haversack and my Verdenheim segments. What I am looking for is some topics for new posts or new subjects for my current segments. 

Has there been a character who you have wanted to take a peek in their haversack?  Let me know
Is there a monster you would like to see with a new spin? Let me know
Do you have an idea for a Verdenheim location or a question about that world? Let me know
Have an idea for a new segment you think I could do? Let me know

I am happy to do posts on any of these.  Just let me know. Tell me what you like and what you don't like.  I am writing this blog for my own enjoyment, but I like making sure my readers are satisfied as well.  

Trying on a new skin... Assassin Vine and Brier Beast

In this installment of Trying on a new skin… we will be looking at the Assassin Vine and its new iteration, the Brier Beast. Before I get into describing the Brier Beast, I would like to mention a couple changes other than the reskinning, but that are tied to the reskinning.  We will be getting rid of the Entangle spell-like ability, thinking that the Brier Beast will not be connect by roots to the other plants around it and does not have enough intelligence to control other plants through magic. Second, the Brier Beast will have more freedom of movement, since the Brier Beast is roughly humanoid, with no settled roots.
Now, let us continue. Following is the description of the Assassin Vine in the 3.5e Monster Manual.

The assassin vine is a semi-mobile plant that collects its own grisly fertilizer by grabbing and crushing animals and depositing the carcasses near its roots.

A mature plant consists of a main vine, about 20 feet long. Smaller vines up to 5 feet long branch off from the main vine about every 6 inches. These small vines bear clusters of leaves, and in late summer they produce bunches of small fruits that resemble wild grapes. The fruit is tough and has a hearty but bitter flavor. Assassin vine berries make a heady wine.

An assassin vine can move about, albeit very slowly, but usually stays put unless it needs to seek prey in a new vicinity.

While this creature is certainly frightening, the Assassin Vine does not present much of threat once you are able to get out of its reach. To create a bigger threat let us explore an option where the Assassin Vine has gained greater mobility, but has lost its ability to affect other natural plants.

The Brier Beast is a mobile and sentient plant that actively searches the forest for its own fertilizer. 
A Brier Beast stands around 5 feet tall in a rough mockery of man.  Thick black branches and vines create a torso, two arms and two legs, with a bramble patch for a head. The body is covered in dusty green and yellow leaves, which are covered in sickly grey and black spots. Large blood red thorns stand out sharply against the darker body of the Brier Beast. The belly of the Beast is thickly lined with vines and roots, and filled with soil that is enriched with fresh blood and flesh.

No amount of charisma or talking will prevent a Brier Beast from dismembering a victim and mixing its corpse into its soil.  The beast is essentially mindless and cannot speak or understand any spoken language. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

My first time

3rd edition Players Handbook

It was in 9th grade that I had my first experience with role playing games.  This first experience was with the first printing of 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons.  That first game session was played in my friends bedroom, over the course of a three day weekend. It was myself, and my friends Robert and Jeff. Jeff was the Dungeon Master, since he had played the game before. Jeff had a couple pre-generated characters for me and Robert to play, myself the unnamed Elven Ranger, Robert the spell slinging wizard.

We started play Friday evening and played well into the wee hours of Saturday morning before we all eventually passed out, only to wake a few hours later, ready to continue the journey (oh the boundless energy of youth!)  

We ended up playing all of Saturday, leveling several times (our first time DM was generous with XP) and getting used to the mechanics of the game.

There were goblins, bar fights, skeletons and zombies (and goblin zombies). Whispers of powerful necromancers and hints of vampires.

Three days we played, nearly nonstop.  It was glorious. The battles were epic and the fun was intense. It was a great introduction to what became a (so far) life-long hobby and passion for games and the fantasy genre in general.