Tag Archives: vikings

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.

Finis

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

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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.

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 1

First Session (16 page pdf) – We journey with our caravan all the way from Roderic’s Cove in Varisia to Kalsgard in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. A fair number of Viking raiders toss themselves onto our swords.

We kicked into the second chapter of the Jade Regent AP today. Our characters are shaping up well if oddly.  V’lk is mute and Gobo is blind, Harwynian is somewhat… flighty. Bjorn and Jacob are alternately charging into combat and absent. But we’re getting into the groove with each other. See our main Jade Regent page for the character sheets level by level.

The road up to the Linnorm Kings went through many lovely locales including mining towns and a village of gnomish mini-Vikings. I stomped around it pretending to be Gojira.

Along the way, I decided Hiro would take up playwriting; he adapted the crazy tengu’s play into a work called “The Cuckolded Cuckoo” that the caravan performed along the way. We also continued to experiment with caravan fighting rules. We fought off trolls and bandits without much trouble.

We got ambushed at night though, and I about died – those Ulfen greataxes put a whupping on you fast, and all our ACs are pretty low.  I managed to escape the press and led the chasing Ulfen into a narrow place between the wagons where Harwynian could Web them. Then it was a lot easier… We even took a bunch of prisoners to sell back for their weregeld.

In the end, we got to Kalsgard, our destination, and start in on the long chain of “Ah yes, I had that sword, but now…”