Friday, September 4, 2009


I'm kind of busy with Grad School, and life in general at the moment and will be reposting a few of the older entries here and there.
This particular blog entry was actually relevant to my last game session, so I figured it would be a good candidate for repost.

Since joining the RPGbloggers network , I have been trying to keep up with all the great RPG blogs affiliated with the network. Recently (today) I was reading an article on Gnome Stew regarding GMPCs, player characters run by the GM. The comments given by some of the posters really got me to thinking, because I have done this off and on in my games for years.

There has been more than one occasion where the group decides to play all fighter type characters, but the adventure I have spent a week preparing needs a magic user of some kind and I don't feel like tweaking it all at the last minute. So to fill the void I roll up an appropriate GMPC and throw them in the game. Usually my GMPC, which I tend to think of as nothing more than an involved NPC, is there to fill a void and that's all. Though I have come to notice that since I am always the GM/DM (I prefer DM when I play D&D...that's what is has always been and what it will always be to me. GM is appropriate for when we run other game systems. But that's a topic for another post.) I never get to play a PC and have come to like throwing a character in to tag along. Sure they may not do much, and they are not big on taking their share of the treasure, but I like having them around. My group has even become accustomed to me having an "avatar" and being directly involved with what they are doing. On the occasions where I don't want to have a GMPC in the game they always wonder why. Several NPCs, good and bad, have even evolved into GMPCs.

You see the GMPC, at least for me, is a very helpful tool. I've been DMing for a number of years and I like to think I am fairly good at it, but even I need some help every once in a while and that is where the GMPC comes in. When prepping a game I try to come up with several ways the PCs can get the information they need to get to the next stage of an adventure, but sometimes they just don't get it. To me it may seem obvious and I try to make each clue/hint progressively easier until they finally do get it, but sometimes that just doesn't work. This is where the GMPC comes in. After several attempts of trying to get the players to figure it out on their own, the GMPC can go "Maybe it means..." and at least give them a nudge in the right direction.

Sometimes my brilliance is just too much for them and they need that extra little push to get their brains working like mine. Why? Because even the best of gamers gets stuck once in a while.

To be honest I have run into players that try to rely on the GMPC and drag things out until I give them some help, through the GMPC, but it doesn't work. When there is a GMPC in the game they have no more knowledge than the PCs, in regards to what is going on, unless they are designed that way. I have created GMPCs that are actually enemy spies whose only goal is to screw with the PCs and keep them from succeeding, still they have none of my GM's knowledge, I am very careful about that. There have been several times that my avatar has guessed wrong, simply because they failed a roll. Still the fact that they even brought up an alternative the PCs hadn't though of only helped the players to look at things more closely or in a different way than they had been. The GMPCs incorrect guess still helped the PCs come to the correct conclusion, by making them reevaluate what they thought they knew.

If a GMPC is not knowledgeable about elven history or language they do not suddenly develop that skill to help the campaign along. They are subject to the same rules and limitations as the players and I don't give them an advantage, more than one has died in a game while the PCs survived. They make the same rolls, they do not have meta game knowledge and they are not invulnerable. They are however a good way for me to help the players in a not so obvious way.

So do I support using GMPCs? Yes and no.
Yes if the DM/GM is capable of treating the character just like any other PC/NPC and uses them as nothing more than an element to help keep the game going with some amount of direction.
No if the DM/GM tries to play a character simply for the fact they would rather be a player. Especially if they are so attached to the GMPC that he/she miraculously survives or benefits where the actual PCs do not.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Just for the hell of it, here is a race I'm testing for my Pathfinder Game.

Goblings are the unfortunate offspring of a Goblin and a Halfling, more often than not the result of a non-consensual union. Goblings generally become people pleasers that feel the need to continually prove their worth in an attempt to gain the acceptance and trust of those around them. Goblings don't like to be seen as weak and often show an incredible amount of determination, refusing to accept failure. Because of their seemingly unfaltering determination Goblings tend to earn the respect of those close to them.
As a result of their Goblin heritage Goblings tend to be less even-tempered and more prone to violence than their Halfling kin.

Physical Description: Both genders of Goblings stand between 3-4 feet tall. Their heads are slightly larger than those of a Halfling with a backward sloping forehead, which often seems somewhat disproportional to their slender bodies. Goblings have a broad nose, and wide mouth, with small fangs. Their ears, which are proportional to their heads, are pointed and somewhat larger than those of a Halfling. A Gobling’s arms are longer than normal, almost hanging to their knees, and slightly shorter than a Goblin’s but longer than a Halfling’s. Their feet are undeniably those of a Halfling, broad and covered with brown or black hair. Their Goblin heritage gives their skin a slight tint that can be yellowish, light brown or green. Usually their skin color can be easily hidden beneath a cloak and is barely noticable from a distance.
A Gobling’s hair is either brown or black and heir eyes are brown, or yellow in color.

Society: Goblings have no culture of their own and tend to adhere to the traditions of the culture in which they were raised. They can generally pass themselves off Halflings or are assumed to be Gnomes by other races unless they are put under close scrutiny. Goblings raised by Halflings tend to be fairly well tolerated and generally treated with kindness by their easygoing kin. Usually this kindness is the result of pity as Goblings are seen as creatures that suffer from an illness or disability. Goblings raised by Halflings are allowed to participate in many parts of their society, but are generally treated as simple minded or like children and not taken very seriously. This generally motivates a Gobling to continually try and prove their worth, to others and to themselves. Due to their more violent nature Goblings can gain some amount of respect in Halfling society as warriors, but are never given any positions of great authority.
Goblings are generally not raised in Goblin society, as Goblins do not think highly of their Gobling offspring and tend to kill them them while they are still infants. Those that do survive become slaves while a select few may become vicious warriors in order to survive. Their ferocity gains them some minor amount of respect, but they continually have to watch those around them for signs of treachery, as other Goblins will continually plot their demise. Those raised in Goblin societies tend to adhere to the traditions of their society and are usually no different in nature than the rest of their tribe.

Relations: Goblings are usually more accepted by other races than Half-orcs due to their less threatening stature, and are often under estimated by the larger races. Halfling raised Goblings have a more positive view of the other races and life in general, than their Goblin raised brethren. Goblings understand that they are different and are prone to feel isolated and out of place, even among friends. Goblings make strong attachments and are fiercely loyal to those they feel truly accept them. This attachment often results in a Gobling that is ready and willing to lay down their life, or to take some one else’s, to protect those they care about and consider friends.

Alignment and Religion: While Goblings can be of any alignment, most strive to be good, but not necessarily lawful. While trying to protect their friends and those close to them a Gobling will show little regard for any alignment or ideology, even if that means committing an evil or unlawful act. Goblings tend to honor the same gods as those who raised them, but have been known to adopt the beliefs of their close friends or others that they respect.
Adventurers: Many Goblings suffer from the same wanderlust as their Halfling kin, while others just want to find a place in the world where they can belong. This often leads them to adventure whether they are looking for it or not.

Male Names: Prataal, Trin, Garen, Kelan, Bringam, Shilos
Female Names: Aria, Rya, Hila, Meria, Nika, Zora

Gobling Racial Traits
+2 Dexterity, +2Charisma, -2 Intelligence: Much like a Halfing, Goblings are nimble and strong willed, but suffer from the simple minded nature of their Goblin heritage.

Small: Goblings are Small creatures and gain a +1 sice bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty on their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.

Slow Speed: Goblings have a base speed of 20 feet

Darkvision: Goblings can see in the dark up to 60 ft.

Determination: Goblings get a +1 racial bonus on all Will and Fortitude saving throws.

People Pleaser: Goblings receive a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy skill checks

Keen Senses: Goblings receive a +2 racial bonus on Perceptions skill checks

Weapon Familiarity: A Gobling can treat any weapon with either the word “Halfling” or the word “Goblin”, but not both, in the name as a martial weapon.

Languages: Goblins can speak Common and Halfling.(Those raised in Goblin communities can choose to know Common and Goblin instead). Goblings with a high intelligence score can choose from the following, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, and Goblin

Another Pathfinder site and playing online

It is late so this is quick and to the point.

The webiste Pathfinder Chronicler is "a group of professional and non-professional writers creating works based on Paizo’s Pathfinder® world of Golarion. Our goal is to create “publishable works” that we can proudly present on our website."

Check them out here.

Also I found a thread over on the Dragonlance Nexus forums about a site called macrayskeep that facilitates playing on line. I haven't checked out the site yet, but I'm pretty sure it is play by post. Check out the Dragonlance Nexus forums for a list of the available games, which range from 2nd edtion D&D to Palladiums System games, as well as another link to the site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spreading the Word

After my last post I'm now trying to think of new ways to "spread the word" about games other than D&D.
The only problem is that I'm not exactly sure what would be the optimal way to do this. I mean I can blog about it all day but I doubt that will be very effective. Mostly because we bloggers are predominately blogging for each other and not really exposing many other gamers to what we know and love outside of D&D.
I have discussed other games with the group I DM for, but again that is a fairly self contained group and the discussion doesn't generally go beyond my dining room walls.
I had thought about making flyers for the RPG Bloggers Network and hanging them in various comic book/gaming shops, as well as non-gaming stores but again I'm not sure how effective that would be. I mean really, who looks at those flyers anyway.
So I'm asking the bloggers and readers of the RPGBN to make some suggestions. I'll keep thinking and trying to come up with good ideas, posting them for feedback from on occassion, but I am happy to use or take part in someone else's idea. Also I wouldn't be against this being a group effort. After all we are a pretty resourceful group of gamers, from all walks of life, located all over the country/world, surely together we can come up with something.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is D&D really all that most gamer know?

Usually when I stop by Emipre Comics to pick up my books, I am either heading to or from work/school so I don't get a chance to browse and chit chat. I tend to run in and out with little more than a polite "hello" and "see ya next time" , but the other day I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes to browse and actually have a short but thought provoking conversation with the shop's owner and another customer.
The conversation started after I took a few minutes to browse around the gaming area of the store, which I had never really done before. I was checking out some of the newer 4e Dungeons & Dragons books when I noticed a shelf that still held many 3e/3.5 books. Upon noticing these older books I immediately glanced around to see if there was a copy of Pathfinder on any of the shelves. There wasn't.
I already own a copy of the Pathfinder RPG Core book, which I pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as it was available, but I was a little disappointed to not see a copy on the shelves. As a Paizo fan and 3.5 supporter, there is definitely a part of me that wants to see the system not only succed but thrive. I freely admit that I do entertain the fantasy that PfRPG could knock the industry giant off its pedestal. I know this is unlikely, much like the super hot lady that wears chainmail bikinis and finds your character concept to be fascinating, but it is my fantasy after all.
I walked up to the counter and waited for the owner to get my comics from my file before asking him if he was planning to carry Pathfider. He said that he was planning to carry and support the game if he could ever get a copy. Now the owner is a pretty smart guy so he began to talk about print runs, small publishers, and things of that nature. Things that I have heard/read and discussed on the various forums or RPG blogs. He also mentioned that people had started coming in asking for Paizo products, or products that Paizo happens to produce as if they were new concepts, despite the fact he has carried them for years. This made me feel a bit hopeful that my desire to see Paizo become one of the gaming industries big dogs would come to be. But then he said some things that honestly took me by surprise.
He mentioned the fact that the customers, more specifically experienced gamers, had been asking about Paizo and Pathfinder because they had just recently heard about them/it. As I said before, I was taken by surprise and could not believe that anyone who had ever gamed did not know about Pathfider. After all it has been discussed on every message board and blog on the net for over a year. I expressed this to George who replied that most gamers didn't even know that games other than D&D even existed. I believe the number he used was 1 out of every 30 had played other systems, which I felt was ridiculous.
I was about to tell him this when I thought about the people I had gamed with over the years, including my current group. Sure I own a ridiculous amount of gaming books and have almost an obssessive desire to keep up with the latests and greatest systems, but everyone else I have played with pretty much only owned D&D.
The group I originally played with as a kid naturally all just owned D&D, that was back in the 1e & 2e days, but we were kids with very limited funds and new to gaming so that was understandable. That group grew up and we all went our seperate ways, but I branched out and started buying new systems. I assumed that those in the original group that kept gaming had done the same. Never really considering that maybe that hadn't.
Then I thought about the short lived 2e groups I had in my early 20's and realized that once again, other than myself, they had all owned only D&D with few exceptions. Granted there were a few guys I gamed with during that time that had played Champions or Palladium systems, and natrually Magic the Gathering, but they never asked to play anything but D&D/AD&D.
After those groups I didn't game for 3-4 years, until finding the foundations of the group I currently play with, and have mentioned a few times in various posts. Of that group only 1 guy still remains as a full time member, though my fiance who was also in that group still sits in on the rare game. Most quit playing all together or due to various circumstances (divorce, broken friendships) moved on to other groups. Yet when I think about them only one, the guy that is still in the group, had every played anything but D&D, and maybe Vampire. As a matter of fact, at the time I started gaming with them none of them even knew 3e was coming out until I took over DMing duties and switched the group from 2e to 3e. Naturally the last remaining member has played a few of the systems I own over the years and is a little more amiable to trying new systems, but he only owns D&D. Until I brought up the fact that Pathfinder was coming out, he had no idea it even existed and assumed we would continue as a 4e group or go back to our 3e books given that we were only moderately happy with 4e.
Of my current group 2 of the regular players are teenagers, and are new to gaming so their lack of knowledge is understandable, but the other 2-3 have been gaming as long, if not longer,than I have, one still runs a 2e game with another group. How could they not know about games other than D&D?
Because of the internet, the countless blogs and messageboards I have erroneously assumed that every gamer is as well versed as those of us that blog or post. I was apparently way off base.
D&D is the industry giant not only because it was the foundation of the industry, but because that is all most gamers know. Since D&D is generally the game we start out with, I can completely understand that newer gamers have yet to be exposed to the other great systems being produced. But what about the older, more experienced gamers? Outside of D&D, and more specifially the system they are currently playing, nothing else seems to exists to them.
Now it could be argued that those of us that do expand beyond D&D are more "hardcore" or that those other gamers are more casual. Yet the groups I have played with, regularly played weekly if not more often. That's not really casual in my book.
I started to argue the point with my comics shop's owner that as a member of the RPG Bloggers Network, there are tons of gamers out there that have played and own other systems. After all there have been numerous posts about how many books we all own since the network came into existence. Surely, the gamers in my area are a fluke, an anomoly in the gaming world.
Then it hit me that many of the same people on the RPGBN are the ones who are posting on the message boards, producing podcasts and leaving comments on the various blogs. Then I thought about the various posts on the RPGBN, the majority of which are about D&D. I had no argument. We are not the standard in gaming, at least given the circumstantial evidence I can come up with.
So what is the point of this post? Honestly I'm not 100% sure. I just found the revelation a bit surprising and suppose I am curious to see if this is something that others have encountered. Are those of us on the RPGBN and the various message boards, numerous though we seem, really in the minority? Are the majority of our fellow gamers really so isolated and uninformed about what else exists in this age where information about nearly any topic is just a Google search away?
If this is the case and our fellow gamers are caught up in a world where D&D is all that exists, how can we change that? Surely there is some way to "spread the word" and get D&D only players to try other systems. I'm not saying that they should abandon D&D, I love the game too, but they should know there are other options available to them.
I'm open to suggestions.