DnD: There’s no TIME!

I’ve kicked off this DM caper and it was pretty much going ok. I didn’t feel like the guys were bored and the other new folk were keeping up. There were some technical difficulties experienced in the Roll20 space – mostly our voice comms were a bit iffy. One of the guys had a discord server, so we jumped onto that and away we went.

We managed have managed two sessions since then. Initially weekly, it dropped to fortnightly and I had different people each one. Then all except one admitted they really couldn’t make the timings so we were about to close it all up.

This is disappointing to me as I really want to play and I’ve decided to DM as it seems like its a good way to actually get a game going (people are more likely to say they’ll play if they don’t have to DM). I know part of the reason is the really awkward time – Sunday morning. This is a really odd time to play, but I really don’t have any choice – the rest of my (life) weekend is all pretty full. I even went as far as making a diagram to see if there was another time I could play.

And there is – 11pm to 1am or so… that time’s free every night….

So as we were about to close up the game, I put a last invitation up on the work boards.

I was amazed when we got about 4 new players. These are experienced guys so it will be interesting to DM them. At least two of them regularly DM, so are looking for a break and just be a player. Next game is next week and so I will see how it goes.

At this stage I’m just going to drop them into where the story was up to. I’ll have a chat with them and see if they are interested in resetting it.

I’m also hoping they might offer suggestion on any of the published modules that they might be interested in. I’m really keen to buy one and can’t decide which. I’m hoping this group stays together and I can run them through something. As I keep reading reviews and such my choice keep changing, but at the moment I am thinking one of these:

  • Out of the Abyss
  • Curse of Strahd
  • Princes of the Apocalypse
  • Tales of the Yawning Portal
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Me, Dungeon Master???

About two months ago, I briefly joined in a couple of rounds with a nearby D&D group before it was clear that the timings weren’t going to work for me. This was 5e, and I hadn’t played since 1e when I was in high school (I’ll let you work out how many decades ago that was), so long ago that when I brushed aside the cobwebs the notes had wasted away to nothing anyway. I still have a 1988 printed PHB on the shelf (rats just gave away the answer).

Enthused, but not sure what to do, I asked around across the work network and found a half dozen of us who were all keen to play, mostly all new. So in a fit of altruism, and in order to get the idea moving I volunteered to DM.

Which I haven’t done for that same number of decades… and maybe only once then too.

Being geographically disparate we decided to use Roll20 website to run the game. This gives us an online game board to draw and create on, while providing automated character sheets and a host of other tools to use. It also has audio and video.

We’ve had two sessions so far. I hope its been enjoyable. Its a steep learning curve for me as I try to learn all of the players abilities and manage the game, while we all learn Roll20 and its capabilities. Each session has left me with some homework on things to study and read up on. I also try to make sure that I am reading ahead and preparing so that the short 2 hours that we have is of maximum benefit.

But both sessions have included new people joining, so there’s the inevitable period of setting up characters, things not working and the learning we are all doing about both D&D and Roll20. A couple more sessions and I’m sure we’ll be in the swing of it.

I’m running the group through a module called “Lost Mines of Phandelver”, which was included in the D&D Starter Set. It’s designed for new players (and DMs) so a good start for us.

There is also a host of resources online (which didn’t exist when I started, heck online barely existed when I started). Youtube videos that explain rules more clearly, tips and tricks – both generic and specific to the Lost Mines. The official D&D website and the Roll20 wiki have a heap of stuff as well. I had already picked up the Starter Set a year or more back when the Mini Mabs showed some interest and just before the foray into the other group I picked up the D&D box set with PHB, DM guide & screen and MM. So plenty of references.

I am enjoying it, the group is settling in together. I’d like to see it continue, I’d also like to rotate through as a player, but I’d rather keep the group than force the issue. Because I do enjoy the DMing as well. If it does continue, I’d like to get the Storm King’s Thunder as that looks pretty interesting. Maybe keep the same characters or let them restart…. I think that is some time away as there are at least 3 out of 4 chapters to complete in this one first.

Triple crown….

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Portal 2 completed.

Three games in one year I’ve finished now. And one of them I only started this year! (The three are Tomb Raider, Walking Dead and Portal 2, Portal 2 being the one I only started this year).

The last chapter and finale levels had a couple of curly puzzles in them. I admit to resorting to the INTERNET on a couple of occasions. But it was certainly a fun jaunt and some cool puzzles. I might go back and play the first one, but that would mean adding another game to the cupboard.

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I highly recommend Portal 2 if you haven’t tried it. A great game to while away those server shutdowns and the like with some brain teasers.

But what’s next….

Looking into the Steam Library I see some Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City (not sure why I bought that, I have it on the PS3 as well) and Trine 2. Or otherwise there is WoW, Eve or Mechwarrior???

Maybe its time for that PC now?

 

Portal Progress

2014-08-04_00001I’d become bogged down a bit in Portal. A couple of real puzzlers had me taking a long time to get just a little bit through the game. In the end I needed a little prompt from YouTube, which was disappointing.

However the trials are easy again. I seem to be getting close to the finish, I’m in Chapter 8: The Itch. I’m out of the old testing area and back into the original one. Here the crazy AI that I helped at the start (before he through me down the hole) is in charge. Testing me.

They’ve turned easy actually, even with the new twists created by the tractor beam type thing.

Oh Cross Platform

So I’ve been playing Portal 2 during the last few weeks at Canberra where I play on my iMac. When I go home to Sydney to see my family I don’t usually play anything as it takes away time from my family. I only get two nights at home and I don’t want to waste it.

However this past Saturday I found myself with the chores done and the kids engrossed in a video (and amazingly it wasn’t Frozen!) so I downloaded Portal onto the PC at home. I knew it was a cross platform purchase so I figured Icould muck about in it.

What I didn’t expect was to be able to continue from where I left off last week in Canberra on the Mac! Now that is cool. And a surprise because I had tried that with something else and it didn’t work that way (oh that’s right it was Borderlands 2).

Of course I only got through one room after spending an hour waiting for it to download, before the kids came wandering in having finished the movie

And here’s another cool thing. It’s a great clean non(ish) violent puzzle game. So we puzzled our way about in the next room without much success.

Portal 2 – Gee catch up!

620_2014-05-07_00001Hey this Portal 2 game is really cool [yes, we already know that you all think!]. Some really good puzzles – not enough to totally frustrate you, but enough to make you sit and think for a few minutes. Most seem to have only one solution so far.

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Story so far seems to be that I got back to where the evil robot was, swapped the core with the robot that had been helping me only for it to get all mean (or defensive) and throw me down a tube.

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My buddy turns mean

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A long, long, long way down

This ended me up at what is obviously a sort of 1960s era first version of the laboratory that I was in.

620_2014-05-08_00006And I’m guessing I’m in the first of 9 stages to get through this one. So a fair bit of puzzle to go.

A Puzzler! Yay.

I needed a break from Borderlands, so I nosed about in my Steam Library. I tried Left 4 Dead 2, but wasn’t what I was looking for.

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Portal 2 – it was in my library, but I’d never tried it, though I remember hearing a lot about it at the time, it got a lot of great reviews.

Yeah, I think the folks at Valve are pretty funny. Borderlands 2 is theirs, as is Portal. They share similarities in humour.

I’m only a dozen or so rooms into the story, having just woken some other robot up (I seem to be human?) but its a real puzzle game – I feel a bit like when I played Tomb Raider (the original) or even Myst. It’s a real change from Borderlands.

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So you use the Portal Gun

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To make Portals and solve room puzzles.

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And then you wake this AI up…. and I think that’s bad. But I’m about to find out how bad.

 

BL2 – Tiny Tina

I’m at home sick, and they didn’t give me enough sick days to actually head home. So I’m stuffing about on the computer and got into Borderlands again. Full of interesting characters this game.

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I’ve just met Tiny Tina. She seems like a happy 13 year old, but she’s a little, well no, she’s a lot nuts. She built me these rocket bunnies to take out a train.

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I die quite a bit. But it’s a fun ride.

And now I have to go blow up/hijack a train.

Killing the Red Head

The Red Head mini-boss. Not my picture, this guy did it with the pistol, wow. Read on for my own solution.
The Red Head mini-boss. Not my picture, this guy did it with the pistol, wow. Read on for my own solution.

Tomb Raider is progressing quite well. I adventured off to find some tools to fix a boat. This ended up on the wreck of our first boat, the Endurance.

One of the first bad guys I encountered was this large fellow, who appeared could only take damage at the head (hence his “red head” in TR’s Survival Mode view). With my terrible ability at aiming, I was finding myself very quickly overwhelmed and shortly dead. I was starting to look at it being a very frustrating roadblock.

Oh, how about….

Grenades!

A few well placed grenades and the area effect had him stumbling about with the finishing button flashing, so an axe to the head to put him down. That seems to be the easy way 🙂

Lost another friend in the ship. Having found most of them in the last few “stages” they’re quickly ending up dead. Or kidnapped again, again. So with the boat fixed, I’m off to rescue the Japanese girl again, and hopefully stop whatever has us all trapped on the island.

Just over 60% through the game according to the save game. The optional dungeons are the  best “dungeon puzzles” so far in the game, but there is the odd “how do I open this” puzzle elsewhere as well. A bit less fighting and more puzzles.

Ohhh… and stealth. The old Tenchu game was a big favourite and there are parts of this one where a bit of stealth and the silent bow work very well. I spent a good few minutes stalking an area around a hunting lodge picking of enemies undetected, before I got a bit lazy and took a shot at one who alerted the few remaining. Still about 6 down without anyone noticing. Fun 🙂

Keen to see this story to the end.

Grenades!

Nah, haven’t un-un-subbed. Been enjoying Tomb Raider. I’ve made it into the castle, rescued my friends (at least for now I suppose) and managed to get myself out of the pit I ended up in. I’m really enjoying the game, though I still would like a little more “puzzling” out levers and jumps etc.

The bow continues to be a strong weapon, though now I’ve moved up from pistol, shotty and have just picked up a grenade launcher so watch out! I haven’t had to fight one of the giant samurai statues, but I’m sure I’ll have to eventually.

Finally set my controls up and find fighting achievable. I find the thumbsticks kind of awkward for aiming (in other games too) and so struggled in much of the fighting. But a sort of auto-aim setting, brings it back to almost the original Tomb Raider. The original, Lara tracked her enemies automatically. This one doesn’t track them, but it does auto aim at the enemy when you draw, then you have to track them yourself  (or keep drawing).  

So anyway, it means I’ve been able to push on through the game. And keen to finish that now. Then maybe I should work on Borderlands 2.

I want to get into playing MWO, but I need a PC for that. I’m not allowed one of those until I finish TR. That’s the rule.