Tag Archives: goblins

Jade Regent Retrospective, Part 2

Some more thoughts on our Jade Regent campaign, from yours truly! I played Ameiko’s brother, Yoshihiro Kaijitsu. I enjoyed my character, he grew from a reckless Cheliax-trained cavalier into a proper samurai. Curse of the Crimson Throne is still my favorite AP we’ve gone through but this is definitely right there in the running!

Favorite Memories

The crazy tengu oni from Brinewall was entertaining because of his play about his relationship troubles, The Cuckolded Cuckoo.  I took the play, completed it, and then our traveling Varisian caravan performed it every chance we got.  We improvised what the play contained and it was very postmodern. Gobo the blind gnome was the breakout hit playing “A Giant Standing In The Distance.” And then we performed the play in the capital near the climax, allowing V’lk to set up his ninja showdown with the Raven King, the Regent’s tengu ninja! That’s some literary shit right there.

The 3D fight with the white dragon and the fact that the hostile Eskimo shaman looked like Wilford Brimley was the best part of the cold wastes.

All the Japanese spirts were cool.  The kami, the oni, the Japan-horror ghosts on Shrine Island – all super interesting. Tide of Honor was probably the best installment and it was super heavy on all that.

The characters all fit in well somewhere.  Me in Tian Xia, Jacob in the cold wastes, Bjorn in Viking land, and then Gobo, V’lk, and Harwynian were like “see no evil, speak no evil, smell no evil.”  A fun crew. 6 characters is almost too much for an AP but not quite.

The guys worked together tactically well after a while.  I get frustrated in some of these campaigns where some of the PCs just want to “charge in” and act like doofs because it could easily lead to TPK. We had some initial bits of that, which got to a height when Bruce (Harwynian) blinded us all during a fight with 40 yeti because he hadn’t bothered to read his new Firefall spell. After a little “we’re going to cut a bitch if they endanger us again” discussion, I feel like the whole group really started to click tactically – by the time we were taking on the Jade Regent’s palace we were pretty 3l33t.

And there were some very interesting fights.  Fighting the Daimyo at the hot springs lodge while our ronin allies held off his enemies outside… The Viking castle…

And then there were the little flashes, or Zen moments, that are the real memories stay with me.  When we were assaulting the underground hobgoblin keep in the House of Withered Blossoms, Jacob had Walls of Ice in front of us to block arrow slits, the ice putting off clouds of low-lying mist, and Harwynian sent a Firefall up into the murder holes above, causing lances of light to strobe down through the holes into the mist around us – I saw my character vividly, sword in hand, looking over his shoulder at the sublime sight.  Also on the Imperial Shrine Island, when we found musical instruments in a pagoda on the lake, and we stopped to play them as the cherry blossoms fell around us.  Jade Regent was very visually striking and I had a number of these in-character visual “flashes” over the course of the game.

Meh Memories

The caravan rules were a bit of a distracting minigame.  Paul changed them to not be caravan TPK fodder as they are by default, but it was still too different from the normal character rules, and our PCs weren’t effectively present during the minigames.  Bah.

The relationship rules were a bit of a distracting minigame (see a pattern here?). Once they were exposed to us, we were reduced to buying our otherwise personality-free NPC comrades presents all the time to “gain faction” with them. Both these rulesets were poorly thought out and playtested.  If they’d bothered with doing them up right, maybe making them a little more generic, they could have been good, but as they stand, if I ever ran Jade Regent they’d both be cut without comment.

And on the NPCs – we had a lot of PCs.  As a result the GM was kinda forced into keeping the NPCs on the back burner most of the time.  So we didn’t have very realistic relationships with them. We found the new NPCs we met actually doing useful things (Spivey, Kelda Oxgutter, etc.) so we’d see if we could “gain faction” with them, but no, that minigame was only for the designated four core NPCs. And once any of them joined us, again, too many people, so they’d go flat.  Some of that’s on the GM but it’s hard – in Reavers I try to make the whole ship of pirates the PCs are on be “alive” all the time but it takes a hellacious amount of work.

My only other concern was the “rocket tag” nature of higher level combat.  Earlier combats were more fun, then towards the end – I got this magic bow that let me put samurai challenge on my arrows.  That made some combats into anticlimax, like me killing Master Ninja bang bang bang one round kill. That sucked and made the other PCs jealous. But then some enemies at the high levels were also “here’s 150 points of damage enjoy,” so I didn’t feel like I could just self-nerf and put the bow away all the time because it could cause the death of one of my comrades.  The bow was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” but high level even lightly optimized Pathfinder/3.5e play gets kinda unfun, either an ass-whupping or a total roll-over. The final climactic combat was like that – a couple rounds and done without breaking a sweat.


Thanks to Paul “Two Sheds” our GM, and to the other players who made this a fun ride!

Jade Regent Retrospective, Part 1

And with that we’ve completed another Adventure Path!  Jade Regent was really good and enjoyable overall.  I’ve polled the players for their thoughts and will share them here for your edification!

In this first installment, we see what Chris (V’lk) has to say.

The Fun Parts:

  • Hongal’s captial Ordu-Aganhei – That place was awesome. Sort of like Vegas with a real hint of danger. The descriptions of the people, food, dress, and buildings caught my imagination. Kahn Kiriltai’s contests, feasts, and hospitality were awesome. I wish that country or even just the capital had played a larger part of the adventure path. [ I missed this session and regret it. It was fantasy Korea with a fantasy cross between Genghis Khan and Kim Jong-il. -Ed.]
  • The Spirits – I liked how most of the nature spirits were peaceable, rather than the typical D&D default “…enjoys the taste of human flesh… highly prizes elf flesh.” In fact, once the supernatural element was removed the typical spirit was more like an NPC human villager with useful information. [Or not very useful, like that worthless damn lake spirit on the Imperial Shrine Island… -Ed.]
  • The Human Spirits – This idea was original and fun. They are possession machines driven by appetites, revenge, sadness, or just plain craziness. Some good, some bad, and some “no big deal”. There seemed to be just enough balance between those three elements that some players decided letting one in was worth the risk. And the bizarre behavior of the possessed offered some interesting role-playing and moments of humor. [Everyone looked down on me because I refused to let myself get possessed! -Ed.]
  • The Rift of Niltak – creepy, scary, and weird. Frightening monsters experimenting on humanity. Fungus that attracts ghouls. Crazy bondage soldiers ala The Beast Master. Well done, Paul. I totally wanted to go back after we saved the empire.
  • The Ending – I actually cared if Minkai survived and prospered. I can’t identify the exact elements that made this so. The common backgrounds and occasionally strong ties between the PCs and also with Ameiko helped me believe that V’lk should care. The quests would be another factor – they were not stacked upon each other. And many of the quests had goals that would seem important to an oppressed population or to a revolution in the making.
  • Every PC had a Moment – I think the variation in the adventure series was the main element. GMing, luck, and role-playing were also strong contributors.

It Went Both Directions:

  • I really liked the Asian equipment, weapons, and magic items. They have colorful names (Ghost Mirror Armor), nifty effects (fugitive grenades), and cool imagery (freaking fireworks!). Who wouldn’t want to be a master of the katana or the kusari-gama? Who wouldn’t want to gear up and sneak around ninja style?   But you bastard Asiaphiles couldn’t leave it at that. You just had to make all of it better than their western equivalents, including the classes. The Samurai and Ninja classes have supplanted the Fighter and Rogue. Just marry an Asian and get over it already.

The Irritating Bits:

  • Thank you, Mr Dungeon Designer, for the “Bow of Death”. Have we not passed the days where the high school GM decided to shove Stormbringer, Mjolnir, Excalibur, the Heartbow, or the Red Rider BB Gun (Fallout) into the game? Only one person gets to use it. Next time make it the Head of Vecna so the pcs can at least slaughter each other for the prize. But seriously, if you want powerful weapons in your module at least put enough in the game to cover everyone and mix it up a bit: Twelve Swords of Power or The Swords of Wayland. [I was the one who got that bow and it presented me with a dilemma – I even posted on RPG Stack Exchange about how to deal with suddenly being so uber. -Ed.]
  • Monsters vs “Bow of Death” – Very few monsters tried to set the battle field to avoid the “Bow of Death”.
  • Pandas – I wanted one panda themed monster. Just one.

We Be Goblins!

My friend Kevin asked me to run a game for his 12-year-old son and his friends this weekend.  They’ve been getting vaguely interested in RPGs (I think he gave him both the 4e and Pathfinder Beginner’s Boxes) and wanted a) an experienced DM to run and b) him to have a chance to actually game with his son et al, both for the fun of it and also to show in a non-DM role “how to do stuff.”

I was like, “Twelve year old boys eh?  OK, I know what to run,” and pulled out the Paizo Free RPG Day adventure “We Be Goblins,” (I had it in print but it’s also available as a free download from paizo.com) where the PCs are goblins sent to get some fireworks from a boat in the swamp.  As many of you know, Pathfinder goblins are insane little melon-headed pyromaniacs that sing violent songs, like pointy things, and are generally demented little balls of energy.

It went great!  Of course they were trying to kill each other before they had fully read their characters’ descriptions.  As there were 5 players, I cloned Mogmurch the alchemist goblin into two brothers, Mogmurch and Mogmarch, with completely identical stats and backstory (except that their wives’ names are Rempty and Rumpty, also twins).

The dad played Reta the big fightery goblin (of course the one left unpicked due to being female) and the others played the rogue (Chuffy), cleric (Poog), and the two alchemists.

They got totally into it starting with the “Dares” at the opening bonfire, which is like Fear Factor for goblins. First was “Dance with Squealy Nord,” where they have to rodeo-ride a squealing piglet for three rounds.  I like it when serendipity arises from dice rolls and snap GM calls – each goblin that tried, the first round the pig ran around and they managed to hold on.  Then the second round, it jumped back and forth, and they all made that roll too. On the third round was when they all failed, so the first time I said it had run by a root sticking out of the wall of the mud pit and clotheslined the goblin off. Second goblin, same thing, because “goblins don’t learn.”  Third goblin, same thing – it was the big-headed gobliness so I ruled that she tried to duck but there wasn’t enough clearance between the root and pig so off she went too.  Finally the last goblin (Mogmurch) made all three rolls and won the rodeo and everyone was really stoked.

Then they tried the “Eat A Bag Of Bull Slugs Real Quick” dare.  Three goblins managed to get 1-2 of them down before puking.  Finally Chuffy managed to eat all five, but at the cost of failing a save to become sickened for 24 hours, so he fled to an outhouse with projectile diarrhea.  They came and pushed his prize (the chief’s magic dogslicer) under the door. The gross factor was also a big yuck-but-hit with the lads. “You hear a sound like ‘ptthpthppttthhhAIEEEEEEEEE’ coming from the outhouse,” I said.

Then it got even more hilarious.  They played “Hide Or Get Clubbed,” which is like Hide and Seek but if you get found the goblins that find you give you the Rodney King treatment.  Each goblin took a turn hiding and the others looked. The funny thing is that we went around, and they’d fail, fail, fail, but then the sick goblin, Chuffy, would make the roll.  Each time I said that he ran out of the outhouse, found them in their log or tree or pile of skulls, whacked them with the club and then ran right back into the outhouse and slammed the door.  Finally it was his turn to hide, and he rolled super high on his Stealth and no one came near it. I said that he declared he’d go hide and went into the outhouse.  They ran over and opened the door but he wasn’t there!  They had the presence of mind to look up to see if he was lurking ninja style, but he wasn’t.  They wandered around looking for him in vain till time was declared, at which point Chuffy surfaced from within the latrine.  They came and slid the next prize under the outhouse door. A double big hit.

Then came the “Rusty Earbiter”, a tunnel of blades and barbed wire to crawl through. Poog tried it first and kept rolling natural 1’s on his Escape Artist checks (which I ruled to be ear loss, the module was lamer and just gives damage for missed checks) – he lost an ear, got stuck got stuck some more, and lost another ear.  They had to drag his unconscious body out of the thing. And then Chuffy came sprinting out of the outhouse.  Being smeared with poo gave him a +2 (no really that’s in the module) and he totally went through it immediately and ran back into the outhouse. The third prize (he won 3/4) was pushed under the door.

Now, this was an opportunity for envy and maybe scuffling over one guy winning three of the prizes, but it was done with enough flair that no one was sad.

The next morning they were kicked awake, except for the sickened Chuffy who was still awake and hating it in the outhouse, and sent on their task.  As they went through the swamp they all decided they were going to try to collect frogs/bugs/fish so I had then roll Survival – high meant yes, fail meant no, low meant something scary or unfortunate requiring them all to run away.  And Poog rolled a natural 1 – not his first, and not his last this session.  The boy had the knack for it. Anyway, he was trying to catch frogs and snakes when the giant spider they had heard lived in the swamp, “Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many,” descended upon him. He ran for it and the “Boom Brothers,” the alchemist goblins, bombed it while Reta shot arrows.  It closed with them and bit a couple when Poog came around the side and Burning Handsed it bad.  It fled into the swamp and they ravaged off in pursuit.  When they found its deadfall lair, Reta used a Desnan candle (firework like a Roman Candle) to try to flush it out and natural-20’d it, blowing its head off.  They looted all the goblin and human bodies around, and showed great inventiveness in picking body parts from humans and spiders to take along (Poog was constantly trying on new items to use as replacement prosthetic ears).

They got to the shipwreck, wandered towards it, and got attacked by Stomp the horse.  Now, they’d done plenty of collateral damage on their own party with the alchemists’ bombs before but it was about to ramp up.  Chuffy nearly one-shotted the horse with his magic horsebane dogslicer, and then Mogmarch finished it off with a bomb that also hurt about everything else.  Mogmurch his brother had lit a skyrocket with the hopes of killing the horse, and he said “the explosion makes me let go of the rocket headed back towards Mogmarch.” So the skyrocket shot out and exploded, but it has a large radius and so all the goblins were caught in that as well!  Both Mogmurch and Mogmarch went down.  The party blamed Mogmarch and Poog was going to just heal Mogmurch, but he made a natural 1 on his Perception and accidentally healed the wrong one (they are twins after all!).

This was where it was good the dad was playing.  Though they were having fun, they all wanted to “kill Mogmarch” – I think it was 50% his continual damaging of them with the bombs but 50% just boy interpersonal dynamics, he was definitely the low man on the social totem pole in the group. Dad/Reta declared “Anyone kill Mogmarch, Reta kill them!” and that plus residual dad-authority got us back on track.  Of course, then Mogmarch was the only one who figured out the next trap was a wasp’s nest and decided to not tell anyone.  (He was kinda asking for it).

While the rest of them ran around being stung by wasps, the dad and his son went on deck and fought a pair of dogs – Reta has special anti dog powers and they killed both. Poog came running up at the end, it’s his life goal to kill a dog, but the son landed the last blow right before he got there.  “Noooooooo!” he said, but then the huge dog Cuddles attacked. Humorously, the group killed it after a couple rounds of fighting but Poog could just not land a single blow.

Then Vorka the cannibal gobliness and her pet giant toad attacked. She spider climbed to the rigging and started tossing produce flames at them. The kid running Chuffy was using his gear like a pro.  From the chief’s robe of useful items he pulled out  a ladder and climbed up to her.  He rolled a natural 1 on the climb check though so I ruled she just pushed the ladder back and he came smacking back down on the deck.  But he leapt up, drank a potion of jump, and leapt up into the rigging to fight her with thechief’s ring of climbing to help ( in the intervening round she tried to summon a swarm, but Mogmurch interrupted it with a bomb).

Down on deck things were going poorly though.  Her first produce flame took Mogmarch out.  Then the frog took Mogmurch to negative and swallowed him.  Then took Reta to negatives and swallowed her.  Then swallowed Poog – “There’s always room for goblins!” But Poog was alive – he did a burning hands inside the frog, which hurt it but also caused hitpoint loss and loud objections from the other two dying goblins in there.  But the next round he went to 0 hp but managed to cut his way out with that last staggered action.  The frog hopped around angrily but couldn’t swallow; three goblins stabilized at negative and one (Mogmarch) was plain dead.

In the rigging it was round after round of Chuffy cutting at the cannibal and her threatening to roast and eat his <face, thighs, buttocks, lips, intestines, nipples>. As a rogue he had a good touch AC, but she was hitting him 1/3 rounds and doing a lot of damage each time. He was hitting her half the time but his damage was 1d4 and she was made of hit points.

Finally he stabbed her and brought her to 0 hp!  Everyone cheered!  And she used her staggered action to drink a potion of healing.  Everyone shrieked!  Then they fought another couple rounds.  He stabbed her right in the same place and brought her to 0 hp!  Everyone cheered again!  And she used her staggered action to drink another potion of healing (she had three!).  Everyone shrieked again! Then more fighting. Finally he hit her enough to take her to -1.  I said, “You stab her in the chest again right in the same place!  She pulls out another healing potion to drink it. But then you twist your dogslicer and she sprays blood out of her mouth and falls to the deck below!”

Everyone was psyched.  The combat went long enough that the players of the dead/unconscious goblins were wandering around and looking at books and miniatures and not paying a huge amount of attention for a while, but once the “She’s at zero… Now she’s not!” started they came back and were glued to the action.

The frog ran off and Chuffy managed to scrape together enough healing to get the three non-dead goblins mobile.  They were all happy Mogmarch was dead, but gave him a good sendoff by strapping his body to a skyrocket and shooting it off.  “He died as he lived,” they remarked as he exploded for the last time.

As usual goblin looting is a frenzy of who can make initiative and Perception checks first.  In true goblin style every time they were looting it was free for all – even when the chief gave them fireworks it was initiative for each person to grab something they liked.  Chuffy found a crystal flask shaped like a heart, which even 12 year olds immediately identified as a love potion.  This was awesome because when they went back, the Chief declared that Chuffy, who had clearly been the bravest in the whole thing, was to wed his daughter—the fearsomely corpulent and ferociously lusty Gupy Wartbits. “DRINK THE POTION!” counseled his friends, and he chugged it down. “Sounds great! When’s the wedding?” Poog declared his intent to take Mogmarch’s stuff and wife and burn down his hut, which caused Mogmarch’s player to strangle him around the neck, but that was all quelled by some parental scolding.

It ran about 5 hours, 2 to 7 PM. This would make a great con module and is certainly a good introduction for kids new to the game – they loved it, and only a couple had any experience with the rules.

The only downside there was that 3.5/PF is so frickin complicated, I tried to keep it simple but even in this adventure there’s a lot of touch ACing and poisoning and splash damage and…  Ah, for a true Basic D&D again (and no, those 4e/PF box sets don’t count, they are still 100% more complex than Basic).  The dad is torn on whether to try to just get old Basic stuff and have them play it, but that’s hard to get much of nowadays.

He talked to me about 5e, his take is a lot like mine in that it seems “OK” but they’re not resisting the urge to overcomplicate the base game and he hasn’t seen anything about the playtest that has that spark that says “Cool I want to play this specifically.”   So he’s trying to set his son and his friends up for some good gaming, but is at a crossroads there.  They all had a really good time, mostly paid attention the whole way through, and left excited to go to the game store and buy minis, so mission accomplished I reckon!

Jade Regent Chapter 1, The Brinewall Legacy, Session 1

Welcome to the first chapter of our Jade Regent campaign, The Brinewall Legacy! Our neophyte adventurers in Sandpoint are drawn into long-hidden secrets by their friends, relatives, and loved ones, all linked to Sandpoint inn-owner Ameiko Kaijitsu.

That’s right, it’s a new adventure path! Paul is GMing, having just finished GMing a couple-year-long Alternity Star*Drive based campaign. We have six players – Tim, Matt, Patrick, Chris, Bruce, and myself. Matt has been in the other games our large loosely affiliated group runs but hasn’t gamed with us on the Sunday games since a Savage Worlds campaign in 2009.

First Session (14 page pdf) – We meet our intrepid crew of adventurers, and are immediately dispatched to the swamp to fight goblins.  Oh, joy. We run right into the Licktoad Goblin village and carnage erupts.

It was a charge starting out in Sandpoint, because that’s where we started our Rise of the Runelords campaign (most of the same players, also run by Paul) so we had a lot of familiarity with the place. And of course they used one of Paizo’s signature monsters, the wildly popular insane goblins.

My idea for my character Hiro’s arc is for him to be a glory-seeking cavalier who over time realizes the true calling of service and becomes a samurai. That was off to a rollicking start as he charged his horse right into the goblin encampment and into a big mud pit that the others had to haul him ingloriously out of. There were plenty of hooks; as Ameiko Kaijitsu’s little brother all the Kaijitsu family historical secrets made motivation a no-brainer.

Also, Hiro was trained as a cavalier in Cheliax.  I liked how the halfling swamp guy got all offended when Hiro called him “peasant” or “farmer”; Hiro thought he was paying the guy a complement – a farmer’s a much higher status job than “dumbass living in a swamp” in Cheliax at least.

And we got two badges, the Halfling Rescuer badge (optional, though we never can pass up a home invasion) and the Goblin Killer badge (fairly required, I think, or else no pointer to the next part…).

Then there was some confusion that we use as an in-joke in many later sessions.  There was a shack in the swamp, with a shed outside it.  We were trying to investigate both as rat-creatures came from each. Paul kept mixing up the two words to the point where we kept thinking we were near the shack but were near the shed, or the squeaking was coming from the shed but we thought it was coming from the shack (which got me enveloped in a rat swarm, so it wasn’t that entertaining initially).  So now whenever a shack or a shed is encountered ever after we say “Wait… Is it a shack, or is it a shed?” Perhaps we should nickname Paul “Two Sheds” as a multi-level homage.

We got a lot done, and a lot of role-playing, it was a very long first session and we were going on all cylinders.

Another Worthy Runelords Campaign

If you’re enjoying our Rise of the Runelords campaign session writeups, I must confess I’ve found a campaign funnier than ours -the All Goblin Runelords Campaign!  Check it out!