Saturday, May 28, 2016

Notes on Heretical Campaign 1, Session 1

So last night I played in a playtest game for Doug's rules set.

Heretical Campaign 1 - The Ogre of Northpoint

No point in doing a summary, because Doug did one better than I would.

Here are some general notes:

- it was fun to just play with Vic and Greg, two of my face-to-face gamers, as a fellow player. I've done that with Vic (aka "Love Handles" in Gamma Terra) but not with Greg before.

- one big foe is never as scary as many medium foes. I mean, we didn't blunder into a dragon or something, but piling on is pretty easy when there are no distractions.

- The bonus attacks for a monk are pretty sweet. Sunshine is fragile but capable, and if I can stay on the fringes and move-strike-move, in an "attack and fly out" fashion, he should be okay. And he's offensively dangerous.

- Roll20 does this "roll d20s twice, just in case you've got disadvantage or advantage." Mostly, it feels like rubbing it in when you get a 6 and a natural 20, and you have to keep the 6. It's like saying, "Wow, you suck. If you didn't suck so bad, you could have had this great roll!"

- I probably should have kept my 10 darts, after all - ranged was useful. I'll have to see what missile weapons monks can use in the Heresy.

- I made at least one "Monks can't use flaming oil" comment. Funny how clearly I remember bits of AD&D. Which is why I keep thinking, "Obviously, monks use crossbows!" - where did that come from anyway? Did I miss Bruce Lee playing in "The William Tell Story"?

- we settled on the religion for the area. Boy, are monks out of place in that religion. Good thing I went with a philosopher-acolyte type. A Folk Hero would have been a better choice, but I like my guy so far.

- I needed a better reason to adventure. Or at least a more clear one. I started to develop that last night. Proving his skills and helping the common people is a good start, but then why hire out for gigs? I figured he'll have a philosophy of yin-and-yang, stasis-and-flow, cosmic balance underlying his actions. Why should the merchants pay us to kill some monster harassing them? Because it's good and right that they should pay for what they need. It is good and right for us to charge for it. And it is good and right that the money flow from them to us, and then back into society in a manner suited to our philosophy and needs. We are all part of the movement the cosmos, and things must be done as they have been done before. Traditionalist, after all.

- sandboxes are cool, but it's hard to get initially going. We really wanted to adventure. Doug really wanted us to adventure. But it's hard to adventure from "this person needs help" and "you hear a rumor." We spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the adventure was to be had.

I suggested to Doug (you can see it on the comments on that post) that handing out a job is a good way to start. In a multi-group area, you can even put up a list of 4-5 jobs and say, "pick one for your group" and divvy them out. In a single-group campaign, you can just put up 1 or 2 or simply hand one over. That way the players can get right into adventuring in the sandbox. Then, it will naturally happen that what they hear, see, imagine, and have happen to them will drive future movement.

Looking at our session, we killed this ogre. What's this loot we found? What about those bandits? The lost cart and horse? The ore came from where? Do those people need help? Are there resource-rich areas we can lay claim to? What settlements are out there? Now we're into it on our own.


  1. I think you make a good point about monks; perhaps we can invent an appropriately canted neighboring kingdom. With the barbarian nomads to the south blending a few different cultures, if we had a third set that was more introspective that would be a good "this is where monks and druids come from" set, though druids probably aren't as far off.

    I originally had two ogres in the cave, all worked up. I was worried we'd get a repeat of the 4-on-2 beatdown that y'all got in a prior playtest, where I honestly didn't care if I killed you all. What I really wanted, and should have given you, was one ogre, her hobgoblin spouse, and two half-ogrelings.I just ran out of time.

    1. Two ogres would have been very tough. One ogre plus assorted lesser foes would have be tough and interesting. I'd have preferred the second one - you end up with more interesting choices than "pile on one, then the other" when it's "should we pile on, play keep away while we kill the weaker ones, try to distract one or the other?"

    2. It's canonicl in 5e that ogres can run in gangs. You'll see them again.

    3. We'd be less confident about taking on a gang of ogres at level 1.


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