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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

White Plume Mountain - D&D 5th Edition

The new season of Dungeons & Dragons Encounters starts in one month. The last season ended last week. So what should we do for a month? Sit at home?

Of course not! We run White Plume Mountain converted for 5th edition!

White Plume Mountain is one of the classic AD&D adventures from the early days of the game. It is known for the three artifacts that can be obtained from it: Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor.

In this article I am going to use pieces of art from this epic walkthrough map. This whole entry obviously is going to have spoilers for White Plume Mountain, so beware.

I had prepared the adventure earlier in the week. It's very concise, which I love. The dungeon is full of really weird "funhouse" style stuff. Although right now I am really into the cyberpunk game Shadowrun, I was quite excited about running this adventure.

I had run it once before when I was 13, but I butchered it badly. Now is my chance for redemption!

I ended up with 7 players tonight. You just never know who is going to show up at these public games. Sometimes players go on vacation and you never see them again.

There were all sorts of odd events that occurred in and around the store today. A warhammer guy lost his cellphone and thought it had been stolen, and made a bit of a scene in the store. A couple of my players, who were brother and sister, had gotten into an argument on the way to the game and were still having issues as we got underway.

Another player had just gotten back from a vacation to Sweden, which he called the worst trip of his life. He was sullen, to say the least.

Despite all of this.. the game was awesome. If I had to rate this session, I would give it a 9 out of 10. And it was all because of the Frictionless Room.

Our heroes had conquered the Doomvault. They were magically transported back home to Daggerford. After a month of resting and selling off goods, the Duke assembled them. The Duke, after all, owned Lawflame the flaming sword. He was something of a collector of kewl loot.
He tasked the adventurers with retrieving the three artifacts from the wizard Keraptis' dungeon in White Plume Mountain.

Just the description alone of White Plume Mountain is awesome. The entrance to this dungeon is in a cave that alternately spews out steam, and then "inhales" air through a small crack in the cave. The heroes were very, very wary of this whole thing.

They found a secret hatch, and before long they wading through corridors that had foot-deep water covered in algae.

The Sphinx: There's a "mangy and bedraggled" sphinx behind a wall of force. The adventurers can't pass without answering her riddle. The riddle is ridiculously easy, but amusing. The answer to 75% of all riddles: The Moon

The Hot Corridor: This is really cool. There's this long hallway with copper plates on the walls. As you go down the hallway, it heats your metal and starts doing damage. You take damage every ten feet!

Then, once you get into the room beyond, a secret door pops open and 8 ghouls attack. The idea here is that the adventurers will take off their armor and metal and send it down the hallway somehow. Then, when they get to the ghoul room, they are armorless and the ghouls chow down!

Welp, if you've read any of my Dead in Thay reports or my Scourge of the Sword Coast deals, you know that this group generally just plows headfirst into whatever. In this instance, the paladin (in full plate mail!) went down the hallway alone. He's a tiefling, so he didn't take too much damage. Then the ghouls jumped him and the rest of the group had to play catch-up.

This was the rarest of rare instances where the battle was beyond the range of the demi-humans' infravision. How odd that I even remembered that.

The paladin turned most of the ghouls. A mage dimension-doored herself and the rogue in, and the ghouls were taken care of. The ghouls were a little weak for our 9th level heroes, but I decided to leave them, because if a hero had no armor, then these ghouls were going to cause some serious problems.

The Frictionless Room: I don't even know where to start. Pit traps. Frictionless floor, ceiling and walls. In the pits are rusty razor blades. And if you are cut by a blade, make a Con save. Fail and you have SUPER-TETANUS! If someone doesn't cure disease on you, you DIE in 2-5 rounds.

I believe in this edition, cure disease is wrapped into the Lesser Restoration spell.

This room was beyond epic. A rogue jumped a pit and slid around. The others stood on a normal stone ledge and watched. They threw him a rope. But any nudge sent him slowly sliding toward a wall or pit. He fell in a couple times, but did not get the dreaded super-tetanus.

There was tons of shenanigans. The text says that spells like fly, teleport and dimension door don't work in here, but I allowed dimension door because.. well, why not? They needed the help. By the point they used it, we'd already gotten our money's worth out of the room anyway.

Two PCs were on the far side. They tossed an end of a rope to the poor sliding rogue. As he slowly slid into a wall, he tied the ends of the two ropes together, creating one 100 foot long rope.

Heroes on either end of the room held the rope taut. Our rogue grabbed on and went hand over hand, trying to cross the frictionless floor and the super-tetanus razor blade pits. He made it! One by one, our heroes took off their heavy armor and sent it over on the rope. Then they climbed across.
The cleric rolled a one. He fell in a razor blade pit and wasn't getting out any time soon. His real-life sister crossed next. She was above him on the rope. These two players had been in an argument just a little while ago and tensions were still high. She declared that she wasn't sure if she should help him out.

The group urged her on, and in real life her brother asked her to forgive him. Her character wrapped her legs around the rope, turned upside-down and reached her arms toward him. He grabbed her hands. She made a very difficult strength check and pulled him up out of the pit.

Everyone at the table cheered. They both smiled. They climbed to the far side safely. How awesome is D&D?

Everybody crossed except the dwarf, who was holding the end of the rope. He had a difficult task ahead of him. He'd have to jump the pits! He tied the rope around his waist. The heroes on the far side held it tight, so that if he fell into a pit, they could pull and prevent him from falling onto the blades.

He backed up, jumped, slid... and everybody started rolling ones. He fell in the last pit, and our dwarf got super-tetanus!

We had to stop there. What an epic session.

As I left the store and got into my car, a couple was walking across the parking lot. They were around 20 years old and dressed up nicely. I think they came from the sushi place. The guy's... date? Sister? Was loudly admonishing him. She shouted, "If you wanted to leave, then let's just leave!"

He said "Shut the F*** up", and got in the car with her.

There is all this chaos around me, and I feel very lucky to have these games. I go into the store, and everyone wants to talk to me. Tonight, I picked an old player's brain about our Shadowrun campaign from when we were 14 years old. The store manager showed me images of the new Tiamat miniature and told me Shadowrun stories. A new employee told me about her Mummy's Mask campaign, and asked me for advice on DMing and transporting miniatures.

This is the good side of running games in a game store. You feel like a really lucky person when it all works out.

8/21/14: We have finished White Plume Mountain, and it more than lived up to its' reputation as a great adventure. Here are links to the other posts:

Part 2 - Blackrazor

Part 3 - Whelm

Part 4 - Wave

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Sea Queen Escapes - Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

I have run yet another session of Dungeon Crawl Classics tonight at the game store as part of the DCC World Tour program. Not that I want to toot my own horn (at least, not in public) but I am going to go ahead and guess that I have run more World Tour sessions of DCC RPG in 2014 than anyone else on the planet. I believe we just finished session number 18.

My group was shaky for a while, but I was able to stabilize some potential social hazards and now the players are starting to gel just a bit. In the last few weeks, I've embraced the idea of allowing time in the beginning for "maintenance" - rolling up mercurial magic, checking on certain rules, that kind of thing.

Just the other day I got a massive box of swag for free from Goodman Games. The more sessions of public play that you run, the more stuff you get. My box included:
- 7 patches with the face of a bloodied Hugh the Barbarian
- 7 DCC RPG beer cozies - which were extremely popular with my group
- A DCC RPG trucker's cap, given to our youngest player who immediately donned it.
- 7 DCC RPG sticky notepads, distributed evenly
- A DCC lined notepad - for me!
- And my favorite item, a pad of DCC RPG graph paper. That is awesome.

I had declared that some old PCs had gone through a portal to New York City on Earth in the year 1986 (long story). Tonight, a player requested that we do an adventure there. I will cook that up sometime soon. I know for sure that when they go there, they will have to deal with a gang who pull switchblades on them on a subway. Also, there needs to be a dude on roller skates holding a huge boom box on his shoulder somewhere in the adventure.

We picked up where we left off last week. The heroes are in the middle of a module called The Sea Queen Escapes, a fantastic adventure written by the great Michael Curtis. He is fastly becoming my favorite adventure writer of the current era of gaming (my all time favorite is Monte Cook). I especially love Sea Queen because it involves ships. I am always a sucker for campaigns at sea, like the Savage Tide and Skull & Shackles adventure paths.

We are now heading into spoiler territory.

The adventurers had obtained this magic horn from a giant clam. They'd barely survived a fight with a giant hammerhead shark. They rested on their ship, and then blew the horn.

Out of the water came... a turtle the size of an island... WITH A DUNGEON BUILT INTO ITS' SHELL. Sold, right? This is already worth the $10.

The heroes need to get a key out of this dungeon. There's a hatch in the shell and they climb in. This group has a fairly common issue - nobody steps up to lead. I'll say to them, "The hatch drops 10 feet down into a room with fish flopping on the floor. What do you do?"

They all look at each other. Nobody says anything. When I can't take it any more, I have the miniature woman of extraordinary beauty (a wizard's familiar) pipe up a suggestion - use a rope to climb down!

You'd think after 18 sessions this wouldn't still happen. I guess some people are just not comfortable taking a leadership role. Maybe that's why so many people prefer to be a player than to run a game (I hate being a player).

The Sea Cursed People: This room was lined with kelp. Three people were underneath the kelp, cursed to become weird monsters. There was a guy with an eel that could pop out of his torso to attack, a lady covered in crabs (the jokes write themselves) and an elf with poisonous coral on his face.

The heroes were clever and cautious, and avoided being surprised. A sleep spell helped big time, but it was a lengthy battle. Then they saw a door held closed by "golden lobster claw clasps".

The Sea Curse: If this door is opened, the PCs are supposed to make a DC 22 Will save. That's pretty much an impossible feat for most of them. The result if you fail this check: The players hand each other their character sheets. Their characters' minds are switched into other characters' bodies. This can't be cured until the end of the adventure.

This kind of thing is a fun idea, but I had reservations. The players have a hard time with their stats as it is. Handing them some class they've never played before is going to slow things down, big time.

Another issue is that I just resolved some inter-player conflicts, and this situation would likely create new ones.

The module gives another option. A PC turns into a giant crab. Kind of cool.

I decided to talk it over with them and in the end, we just declared that the Sea Curse would simply turn them into kelp-monsters like the crab lady if they stayed in the dungeon too long.

The Jellyfish: I thought this was really awesome. A huge hovering dead jellyfish has treasure inside of it, including the key that they need. If you slice it open, goo sprays out. Those hit by the goo make a save or are paralyzed... forever! Or at least, until they can be magically cured.

Again, our heroes were cautious. They eventually cast a patron spell, summoning a Shield Maiden to slice it open for them. She became paralyzed as the stuff poured out of the jellyfish. The heroes were concerned that she'd die of starvation (not sure if she needs to eat or sleep as she is something of a "warrior spirit"), and hated the idea of lugging her around, as she had been summoned for one week. The new guy had a clever idea. He cast banish on her, sending her back from whence she came.

 The adventurers cleared the other side of the turtle dungeon with no problem.

They sailed three days to the island where the mysterious sea queen was imprisoned. The water around the island has tar floating on it, with dead seagulls stuck in the tar. Awesome!

The adventurers are wary of the tar and use magic to cross it. On the island is a building in the shape of an "isosceles trapezoid". Inside is the dungeon that contains the sea queen.

The dungeon has two feet of flammable tarry water on the floor that the adventurers need to wade through.

The Collapsing Room: In here, an earthquake has de-stablized the room. PCs have to carefully move across, or risk rubble falling on them. There's this glowing green capsule in a corner by a weird rock.

One hero decides to cross alone. He makes it. He grabs the capsule, which is 2 feet long. Another hero joins him, and boom - collapse. He's pinned! And worse, the noise has roused a slumbering beast. That weird rock formation by the capsule is actually a giant "adamantor lizard" that has properties of a chameleon!

So we have an epic battle with a tough lizard (it has a very high AC) while rocks fall from the ceiling. The spellcasters critically fail some spells. A cleric accidentally shoots fire out of "a random extremity" cough cough and burns the wizard. The wizard has a clever idea to cast spider climb and topple rubble onto the lizard, but she critically fails and her feet end up stuck to the floor!

Once the lizard was defeated, the store was closing. The players were very happy and some noted to me that the game is much better now that we sorted out our issues.

One player feels that his spell "force manipulation" is "broken". He can throw an apple-sized ball of force that does d6 per level. He just hit level 4. 4d6 is a lot of damage in this game!

He also feels that his cleric's AC is so high and he no longer fears being hit (he has an AC of 19). Most monsters have around a +4 to hit, so I need to roll a 15 to hit him. I didn't worry too much about this comment, because spells will still hit him and I will roll plenty of 15's. Plus, that -8 to swim checks because of the armor keeps biting them in the ass.

Overall it was a very good session and this is a really good adventure. You should definitely check it out.

Shadowrun 5th Edition

As I write this, I am 2 hours away from running my first session of Shadowrun 5th edition. Preparing for this was exceptionally difficult. From my experience, a lot of people are drawn in by the setting, but then when they try to navigate the Shadowrun rulebook, they give up.

I first played Shadowrun in 1991. I had a friend who truly loved the game and ran a few extensive campaigns. Despite playing at least 20 sessions, I never had even a basic understanding of the rules. And I had another more pressing problem - none of the character options interested me. Character options included:

Street Shaman: A wizard with a totem animal that messed with you, or something. At the time I wasn't into spellcasters at all. The appeal of Shadowrun for me was in the guns, car chases and cyber-arms.
Decker: A computer guy who could hack into a virtual reality internet (known as "The Matrix" - this is long before the movie came out).
Rigger: A person who could control drones remotely. I had a friend who made one of these. Her character stayed home and controlled the drone remotely as we went on our adventure. Her drone was destroyed in the first battle, and she literally sat there at the table for the rest of the game, with nothing to do.
Street Samurai: A person with cyberarms, a katana and guns. This was the only appealing option to me.

So what I am trying to say is that despite playing in a few long campaigns, and then running a 6-session campaign in 2000 that crashed and burned due to my inability to master the rules, I am going into this game with a very tentative grasp on what I am doing.

The rules work like this. You roll a bunch of 6-sided dice. You don't add them together. 5's and 6's are successes. Different tasks require a different number of successes.

So, say you want to jump from one rooftop to another. The person running the game decides you need 3 successes to make it. You look at your sheet and figure out how many dice you get, then you roll. If you get at least three 5's or 6's, you make the jump.

Weird, right? I am so used to just rolling a d20. This seems needlessly complicated. But it has a certain charm. The problem is that there are all these modifiers.

For example, when you shoot at someone, first you figure out how many dice you roll. Then you subtract some dice if you are far away. Then you roll. You hit if you get fives or sixes. Your target then rolls a defense roll. If they get as many or more fives and sixes than you, you don't hit.

If you did hit, then the target rolls a pile of d6's and adds their armor score and subtracts the attacker's weapon's "Armor Penetration" stat. Be sure to check your limits, which limit the total number of dice you can roll for different tasks, but only if a skill is involved.

If the defender has more successes than the attacker, the shot still hits. But it does stun damage.

You don't have hit points in this game. You have boxes. There's stun boxes and physical boxes. The more boxes you lose, the less dice you can roll. Once you run out of boxes, you are either unconscious or dying.

This is just way too fiddly and involved for me. I feel like I'm experiencing vertigo, falling into some spiral void full of numbers and phrases stacking modifiers on top of modifiers. My group isn't into rules, they just want fun stuff. But I like the Shadowrun setting so much that I am attempting to hurdle this ridiculous 500 page rulebook to see if we can make it work.

While I tried to figure things out over the past week, one thing that kept me going was listening to a podcast called Critical Glitch. It's a Shadowrun podcast by people who are heavily involved in the game.

There was one episode in particular that I loved. If you have any interest at all in learning more about this game, listen to it here. They talk about the cool stuff they've done in their past campaigns. It's not so much the stories that I liked, it's their depiction of what a Shadowrun campaign can be. It is character-driven. Want to steal a car? That's an adventure. Want to go on a date? That's an adventure. Your enemies plant cranial bombs in your cortex, you fire a gatling gun mounted on a van at a dragon who is swooping down on your city, and you turn into an otter and swim around in the bathtub with your girlfriend. That sounds like a whole lot of fun.

Critical Glitch locked me in and assured me that this game is worth the extra effort. I am envisioning my campaign as a sort of cybered-up Grand Theft Auto. The heroes can free roam the many weird locations (most of which I took from this fantastic Shadowrun New York resource here) and get in to all sorts of trouble.

I was also shocked to see that one of the hosts of Critical Glitch, Steven A. Tinner, passed away a few months ago. He was only 43. Steve knew everything about Shadowrun. He said on the podcast that he had run every single adventure. The more I heard and read about him, the more I admired him. He was a kindred spirit, a dude running tons of games and telling people about them. Heck, he even did a whole episode about one of my favorite RPG topics: Problem Players. I am really glad he did these podcasts, as they helped me immensely and really sold me on the game.

This first session is going to be a pretty straightforward adventure involving the theft of an antidote for a magical STD that a local politician has. I've been going over and over the rules, both for melee combat and ranged. I am focusing on my setting, as I know I will be shaky on the rules but I think running NPCs is definitely a strong suit of mine. So hopefully they will be entertained enough by my goofy voices to overlook any rules awkwardness that may occur.

As of right now, I am secretly hoping that the players like this game enough to go past our agreed-upon 3 sessions. But if this ends up sucking, obviously that all will change.

4 Hours Later: We just finished and it went extremely well. The highlights:
- Infiltrating a lab with stealth, cutting down some guards with katanas and a flash-bang grenade.
- A pretty epic motorcycle chase/gang fight where the gangers rode up alongside our heroes, ready to pound on them with baseball bats... and the heroes pulled out guns and blew them away.
- A fateful showdown with the gang leader, surgically modified to look like Bettie Page with cyberarms. They cut off her arms.
- A party with the wacky politician which involved Habanero soyfuls, novacoke and a healthy dose of jamaican daggering.

They picked up on the rules pretty quick. I am still having a hard time with limits and armor. If a PC is hit they roll their armor and body combined to counter the hits? On these street samurai pregens, that's a total of almost 20 dice! Does the limit of 8 apply there? I assume it does.

I wanted this to be a very low-threat adventure, so we can learn the rules. Nothing worse than trying to hook people on a game only to have them get slaughtered in the first encounter. It worked great.

Overall, we really enjoyed it. I have a lot of reading to do. I hoped to master portions of the game as I go, and slowly roll it out for the players to mess with. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dead in Thay: Save or Die

The Dead in Thay season of Dungeons & Dragons Encounters is over! We wrapped it up tonight with a sweet poster map printed out at Office Depot for a cool 3 bucks.

Players are on vacation, so I had a mere 4 heroes for the big finale. I was disappointed in the turnout. I was pretty excited about this one, and I wanted them all to get to experience it. Also, this thing is deadly. The more players, the better.

I don't want to harp on this too much, but I feel that I must include a report on the latest in Sloppy Dice. The guy who rolled into the crack between the tables last week apparently did not learn his lesson. There was a crack to his left... away from the map, away from our section, away from our game. He somehow rolled his die into the crack - to the left - THREE TIMES. Each time, it plummeted to the floor and the game came to a screeching halt. I delivered the Sloppy Dice song to him each time. He lost his grip so he paid the price, you see.

We had two thieves, two fighters and a cleric for this ridiculously dangerous encounter.
I had read a report of someone in Las Vegas who ran this last week. They said that this final encounter was way too deadly. Why? Well, the Aspect of Kazit Gul has this power where he sucks the soul out of you. You must make a DC 14 WIS save or your soul is in one of his gems. Your body begins to decay. If you do not kill him and shatter the gem in the next round - the PC is dead!

I knew my group was doomed if I ran this as written. So I made this into a 4e-style save-fail effect and removed the "body rots away" gimmick. So it goes like this. Wisdom Save DC 14:

Fail 1: Disadvantage & 10 necrotic damage
Fail 2: No movement & 11 necrotic
Fail 3: Soul sucked into the gem

Once the gem is shattered, the soul of the PC is free.

I am pretty sure, in the module, there is only one Kazit Gul per area. If the scenario is run for multiple groups at the same time, each group battles their own aspect. I changed it, so that our heroes had to battle a total of 3 Kazit Guls - one for each crypt. I figured that the PCs would mop the floor with the gargoyles (they did) and that the aspect's neutered power would make it much less of a threat.

The final room is an awesome setup. Basically, they are in the inside of a giant d4 with weird gravity. There's a floor with 3 crypts on each inner "side" of the d4, and the heroes could fly to each one if they liked. The concept is that all these different parties are hacking their way through the crypts at the same time, and you could jump between them if you liked (in real life, you'd move to that other table if they're in trouble and screaming for help). We don't have multiple tables though. So... bummer.

I ran this super-softcore. The doors to each crypt turn into four armed gargoyles. They have 4 attacks, but only at +4 to hit and do 5 damage. No big deal.

Inside the crypt are these phylacteries that must be shut down. Three DC 15 Arcana checks must be made. Fail causes damage. The more you fail by, the more damage you take. This was a problem. See, we only had a cleric. And he rolled bad. So, our heroes get into the first crypt, and the cleric starts failing checks and taking damage. He keeps failing. He goes down! That's right! The crypt killed him before even one Aspect of Kazit Gul was summoned!

I threw out some marshmallow healing and the battle began. They would have been utterly slaughtered if I'd ran this as written. But, my custom adjustments made the whole thing kind of dull. They barely took damage.
Immunities: Everything
The Aspect can fly and hover, so I had him hover three squares up. That meant Hack and Slash Guy couldn't use Lawflame. None of this party has any effective ranged attacks. And non-magic does half damage on this guy. So basically, we had a drawn-out battle where the heroes plucked away, doing 3 points of damage to an 80 hit point monster, who in turn made one of them make a save and maybe do 10 damage... and that's it.

My modified soul sucking power wasn't terrible, but it didn't work too well. Maybe I should have just gave him regular lich stats.

That said, things got intense at the end. The third aspect actually sucked the soul out of everyone except for a lone thief! The Aspect had only 4 hit points left. He closed in on the rogue, trying to suck his soul. The rogue took aim and dropped the aspect with an arrow. He shattered the gems and freed his friends. The players were happy and it was suitably dramatic.

Overall, this is a great adventure and I highly recommend it. There's so much material that you can take and re-purpose for your home games. There's enough rooms to keep your group going for months.

I am going to start running them through a 5e version of the classic adventure White Plume Mountain next week. I will let you know how it goes!

Here are links to all of my Dead in Thay articles:

1. Dead in Thay Game Day

2. Dead in Thay: Into the Doomvault

3. Dead in They: The "Bad" Cleric

4. Dead in Thay: Legendary Actions (For some reason, this is by far the most viewed article on my site)

5. Dead in Thay: The Pathfinder Guy

6. Dead in Thay: Monster Eggs

7. Dead in Thay: Sloppy Dice

8. Dead in Thay: Free RPG Day

9. Dead in Thay: Trying to Impress New Players

10. Dead in Thay: The Waste-Absorbing Turf

11. Dead in Thay: The Chosen

12. Dead in Thay: The Tragic Tale of the Promo d20

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

I've been running a Dungeon Crawl Classics game on Monday nights for about 5 months at the game store. If you haven't heard of it, DCC RPG is very similar to D&D but it has an old school flavor with an emphasis on random charts. It is awesome. And it's pretty scary how similar D&D 5e ended up being to it. This post has a lot of spoilers for the published adventures, so tread carefully!

I've been posting reports of my games on the goodman games forum and it dawned on me yesterday that I might as well post them here, too. In this article, I am going to give you a very short overview of the game and then I'll talk about how running the game has gone thus far. I'll be using art from the DCC RPG book, mostly by Peter Mullen, who is one of my favorites. I am in my 30's, so black and white art is cool to me. I am kind of wondering if younger players,can accept black and white art in this day and age, what with the art tablets and everything. I know I've had at least one younger player tell me that black and white art is unacceptable to them. The fact that the line art does not have a "painted" look really threw them.
This game is based on D&D 3rd edition. It has FORT, REF and WILL saves. Here's some of the things that make DCC RPG different from D&D:

- Each spell cast has a chart that you roll on. The higher the roll, the better the spell effect. For example, the highest roll on the Darkness spell literally causes an eclipse.
- Every player has a Luck stat. They can subtract points from it to give a bonus to roll. Those points do not "heal". Sometimes, you will be rewarded a Luck point at the end of an adventure.
- Warriors have "mighty deeds" - these are mechanics that allow them to trip, disarm and blind opponents.
- There are lots and lots of critical hit and critical miss tables.
- Rolling a one when casting a spell is a fiasco. Each spell has its' own fumble mini-chart, which usually includes a roll on the corruption chart. That chart has all sorts of hideous ways in which the magic transforms your wizard. A lot of them aren't bad at all. I just had a wizard who rolled a corruption that made her skin permanently sparkle.
- Maybe the most popular feature of the game is the fact that you start as a 0-level character. You roll to see if you're a potato farmer or a ditch-digger or whatever. You have around 3 hit points. You start with three of them per player, and then you all pile into a dungeon which grinds them up and spits them out! The 0-levels who survive hit 1st level and are your PCs. These adventures are a heck of a lot of fun.

- Wizards have patrons, which are powerful entities that grant them special powers and spells. One patron is an ancient wizard, while another is a weird frog-demon.. thing.
- This is a game where "dwarf" is its' own class. As in, you don't make a dwarf warrior or a dwarf cleric. You're just a dwarf (who can smell gold).
- XP is interesting. On average I hand out 2 XP per PC for an encounter. A deadly fight can earn them up to 4 XP. I believe you need 110 XP for 3rd level, and 190 XP for fourth. We've played around 17 sessions and they are closing in on 4th level.
- There is no "good" or "evil". There are three alignments: Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. It's interesting, though, that Law seems to be portrayed mostly as "good" and Chaos is pretty "evil".

I have been running the game as part of Goodman Games' World Tour program. Every few games that I run in the store, they send us some free stuff. Stickers, bookmarks, even special promo adventures.
My biggest issue with this game is keeping all of the charts straight. The book looks nice, but isn't organized all that well. The table of contents is embedded in art a few pages in, and the index is about 5-10 pages from the back of the book. I've printed out reams of paper packets to have handy, but there are so many that it still takes me some time at the table to find the right ones.

The most important charts to have handy are the critical tables (I don't even bother with the special monster critical tables, as it will just slow things down and the game is lethal enough as it is), the lay on hands cleric table (clerics heal people differently depending on their alignment) and by far... the spells. Each time a spell is cast, the spell must be looked up and the corresponding chart must be rolled on. It is mandatory for your wizard players to either print out each spell they have, or at least write down the page number for each spell!

Another thing to make sure to keep on top of is all of the "customized" wizard stuff. A wizard has a few charts to roll on to see how a particular spell comes out of them. I have a wizard in my group who, when he casts flaming hands, a face appears on his chest that casts a second spell of his choosing!

I feel the need to point this out. If you have a player that really enjoys playing wizards, that player will love this game. Wizards in DCC RPG are so much fun.

Players in this game are encouraged to have 2 PCs. It is a deadly game, so having two characters insures that if one dies, they'll have something to do. The problem that has cropped up, though, is that there sometimes are too many characters, and a fight is over before round one has ended!

This is a deadly game. I have had a lot of experience running RPG games, and I would say that about 20% to 35% of players do not take this well at all. You have to know your group well before you decide to run this. Warn them! PCs will die, no question! I run this game on super-soft creamy easy mode and I think there is only one PC who remains from the original level 0 party.
I run the official DCC RPG published adventures. They are fantastic! Even if you don't play the game, you might want to buy some. They are easily converted to D&D and in my opinion they are much better than official wizards Dungeons & Dragons adventures like Scourge of the Sword Coast and Legacy of the Crystal Shard.

I'd highly recommend you check out Intrigue at the Court of Chaos, The One Who Watches From Below, or The Old God's Return. They are really original and just plain fun. The print version is a measly 10 bucks, and the adventures are written in a way that they can be read quickly but will provide 1-2 sessions' worth of material. In my opinion, Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is one of the greatest adventures ever made.

We have had a bit of tension over looting procedure. DCC RPG emphasizes that your characters are not heroes. The back cover says it: "You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons and the vanquished. There are treasures to be won deep underneath, and you shall have them..."

This attitude has lead to a lot of frantic snatching of magic items, and resentment was building. I finally had to clear the air and make sure we just distributed treasure like in my other games: Spread it around and give each item to whoever is best suited for it. Roll off if necessary.

One of the coolest things about the game is that it somehow gets players to shed the "min/max" mindset. A player had a 0-level character with bad stats. The player used him as "trap bait", because he didn't care if the character lived or died. This character fell into a well of souls, and was barely able to climb up a melting chain before the swirling souls engulfed him. He escaped, but suffered three rolls on the corruption chart. The results: He was covered in sores, he was 10 feet tall, and he had donkey ears.

This character became beloved. From that point forward, this warrior with an 11 strength was carefully protected as he went on a quest to cure himself. He eventually did, but almost immediately after was subjected to a wave of radiation that turned his skin blue. He was corrupted again! Everyone died laughing.

He perished soon after, in a trapped room that filled with water. He was killed by the bites of 25 vipers. The plan, last I knew, was for the heroes to go through a 4th level adventure called Blades of Death that allows the PCs to play a game of cards against Death to reclaim the warrior's soul.
Here's some other weird and fun things that have happened so far:

- They cried rainbow tears that formed a rainbow bridge that allowed them to cross a bottomless pit.
- A hero was cursed to become a sentient pair of eyes. His eyes popped out of his sockets and he slithered around the dungeon for a session or so.
- I know this isn't for everybody, but there is an adventure where the heroes come upon a time-traveling complex that has everything from dinosaurs to laser pistols in it. My players ended up misfiring while trying to take down a t-rex with a laser rifle and I think a PC died from the resultant explosion.
- They fought giant hairless cats on a cliff while being heckled by an invisible imp.

I'll be posting actual play results here each week. Our heroes are 3rd level. The party's evil wizard was "unmade" by a phlogiston mist in a demi-plane and may well be destroyed forever. The heroes went home to rest (in Gnatdamp, a town detailed in Gygax Magazine number one).

They were given a gift from the Scions of Law, a ship painted white and gold. This worked out good, because they were about to go through an adventure known as The Sea Queen Escapes...

If you want to check out DCC RPG, you can download the beta version of the game for free! The final version has adjustments, but the beta book has a ton of stuff and can give you a real good idea of whether or not the game is up your alley. I think at the very least, the book can be used to mine for material for any fantasy game.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lost Mine of Phandelver - D&D Starter Set

New concept: A guy nitpicks something on the web
My game store asked me to run the Starter Set adventure today as a demo to try to teach people about Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. First I'd like to tell you a bit about the Starter Set, and then I'll tell you how the session went.

I'm not going to bother giving a full review of the Starter Set. There's about two million reviews out there in the wild already. I've been playing "D&D Next" from the first open playtest. I like it. It's nice and simple.

But I am picky when it comes to art. I hate what they did in these books. I like it when art is placed in the book in a little rectangle as if it were a window into a fantasy world. I do not like it when they try to integrate the art with the text, as if the monster was standing there or ripping itself out of the page of the book. It is annoying. To me, it ruins the art. I know you could say that my favorite guy, Tony DiTerlizzi, had whole Planescape books where his art was integrated in and around the text. Well, he's the exception to the rule. His art is so good to me that it doesn't matter.
What a waste
The art in these books all have "page rips" and "stains" around them. Seriously. It even looks like coffee stains. Why did they do this? Some pages literally look like someone used it to wipe their ass!

And on another note, they are using glossy paper like they did with the 4e booklets. Maybe I am just coated in grease or something, but I've found that if you hold these pages for any length of time, the ink comes off on your thumb and leaves a fingerprint on your book!

On top of that, the books are so delicate. So easy to bend or crease. The paper seems like it's got some built-in memory so that if you bend it, it wants to stay bent. I'd have preferred a heavier cardstock cover.

Furthermore... the art. What is going on with the art? It is so bland and ill-defined. It seems like they are not using Wayne Reynolds or William O'Connor anymore. OK, then, are you telling me there are no superstar artists out there to use? Is deviantart not full of cool art? Does Wizards have no art budget at all?

The art isn't terrible, but it's not sensational or anything, and this is the box designed to impress people, right? Why would you settle for less than the best possible stuff?

I like the town of Phandalin. It is different but not overly so. It's so easy to fall into a trap when creating a village. Either you make one that is completely generic, or you go too wacky, like making a town on an earthmote or floating on an island in a sea of lava or something. The problem with wacky towns is, if you make them all wacky or special, then none of them actually come off as wacky or special.

Phandalin was destroyed hundreds of years ago, and in the last few years has been re-populated with hunters, farmers, and some shady characters. There's an old crumbling wall half-covered in moss.

I went to the game store knowing there was a good chance I'd have no players. These Saturday things never do too well. I am usually able to scrape up a group. I don't know how much in the way of advertising there was for this event.

I ended up with two players who showed up for a Pathfinder game that didn't happen, and a guy I will call Crazy Guy. He's the one who will come up to me and ask me things like "Do you sell papercut insurance" and ramble on about wanting to buy a straightjacket with a presidential seal on it. He was very lucid today and did just fine.
I started the session off with a thing I used to do in 4e - a sort of skill challenge to intro the characters. I wanted them to meet the NPCs in this adventure and befriend them, so that way when these NPCs are captured the players will feel a real motivation for trying to save them.

Our heroes start off in a tavern in Neverwinter (I know, I know) and in walks Dwarf Rockseeker and Human SomethingWinter (It endlessly amuses me how many people in Neverwinter have a name with "never" or "winter" in it). They are happy because they worked out some monetary deal, and yell out that they're buying a round for everyone.

The NPCs sidle up to our heroes and drink with them (CON saves). Some of our heroes become Intoxicated (a playtest condition that didn't seem to be on the list of conditions in the starter set..!). The dwarf got drunk and plopped his gold on the counter. Some shady guys tried to snatch it, and we went into a bar fight scene.

Basically, I just gave each of them a scenario like "a ruffian is about to try to smash a barstool over your head, what do you do?". I'd let them say whatever they wanted and we'd roll to see how it went. This is a nice way to introduce the very basic idea of how D&D works, and a way to get their brains revved up in the right direction.

The best part was when a bad guy slid a PC down the bar and the PC just went along for the ride, snatching and chugging drinks as he went.

I awarded each of them Inspiration for clever ideas, so I got to explain that to them as well.

From there we fast-forwarded a few days and got into the actual adventure. I think it is great that the miniatures they released match up with the pregens in the starter set box. Great idea!

Caravan Ambush: They very nearly died. My dice were on fire. It was not cool! The heroes saw that a goblin had a lock of Dwarf Rockrocker's beard and saw a trail that had drag marks on it... they followed.

1 and 2. The Cave: They spotted the goblins in the thicket and took them down.

3. The Wolves: They actually fed and befriended the wolves. I was shocked. They liked the wolves and wanted to keep them. Then, they decided to climb up the chimney, rolled well, and shot right to the final encounter!

8. Klarg: They rolled well and slaughtered Klarg. Thankfully, this module is set up smartly. The prisoner is in another area, so it's no big deal that they killed Klarg now.

7. The Dam: This room has a dam in it. The main gimmick of this dungeon is that when a goblin spots the heroes from up on a bridge, he has his allies release the dam and send a huge flood of water at the heroes, sending them spilling out of the cave. Very cool! But our heroes went the weird way, so no flood, right?

Well, it's funny how things turned out. The cleric was very worried about his throwing axe. All session long, when he'd throw it, his main priority became getting the axe back. In this fight, he threw it, missed, and it landed in the pool. He immediately, mid-battle, dove in to get it. A goblin released the dam, the cleric failed a roll, and thus the cleric rode the wave all the way out of the dungeon!

Worst of all, I rolled to a d20 to see if his trusty axe was near him when it was all over. High is good. I rolled a 1 - the axe was lost forever!

5. The Bridge: The cleric came to with the three wolves licked his face. He got up, trudged back down the hallway he'd been swept in and was spotted by the lone goblin on the bridge. The goblin fired on him. The heroes had finished off their battle in the dam room and converged on the bridge. Basically, the cleric climbed up to the bridge, dodging arrows, and killed the goblin in one shot. It was awesome.

6. The Prisoner: They killed these goblins with ease (I reduced their number because I only had 3 PCs) and freed Human Winterever. Success!

This is a great little adventure and we had a great time. The best thing is that this is just one scenario of out a giant book full of them! This boxed set is definitely worth owning.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wishes in Dungeons & Dragons

A wish is pretty much the ultimate "treasure" in D&D. It is a tricky thing for a DM to deal out, to say the least. When a player thinks of making a wish, he or she wants a great magic item, or to hit 30th level, or the power to be immortal. How does a DM handle this? Especially when the rules in some cases are so restrictive that a player is limited to gaining one-tenth of a +1 in one stat?

I'm going to take a look at wishes in various editions. But first, real quick, I want to tell you about what lead to this article.

I ran the 4e game again with the group who has a 2e deck of many things. The deck has completely altered the campaign, which is now about the ramifications of using the deck and people trying to get the deck from the heroes.

We had a new player jump in, and he was great. He had a fantastic attitude toward the game. He drew a single card from the Deck of Many Things, and actually got Moon. This meant he got one wish. We talked a bit and he asked if there was a way he could wish for the ability to grant more wishes. I thought about it. You can't just have a PC in a game give out wishes. The whole campaign will be over! The PCs will be invincible gods.

But.. I thought... "what if there was a roll attached?" Here's the deal I gave him:
1. He can grant one wish per day
2. When a wish is made, he rolls a d20. A high number means the wish is pretty much granted. A low roll means the wish is twisted in some horrible way!
3. If he hears anyone say "I wish blablhblah", it is immediately granted. I told the group that this counted in real life, too. If any player sitting at the table said "I wish..." out loud, that counted in-game! I warned them to be careful.

What resulted was more insanity. The main thing that happened was that, while discussing a town that knew the heroes had the deck and were sending thieves to snatch it, a player said out loud: "I wish everyone would forget we had the deck of many things."

Poof! The heroes and everyone in the world forgot!

The heroes obviously noticed this magic deck in their possession soon after. To their credit (supreme credit, really) they role-played it. They said, "Hey! A deck of cards! Let's play blackjack!"

And so they played blackjack with a deck of many things! A treasured NPC lost his mustache forever, and the new player's soul was sent to a dimensional prison - a cruel punishment to a player who added so much to the game.

So we talked it over, and the next session will be about the heroes going to rescue his soul. How they put the soul back in his body is a question I don't have the answer to.

The deck is completely driving the game. It has built-in hooks that are basically running the campaign for me. It is funny. These sessions feel more like "D&D" than anything I've run in a really long time.

One thing I need to do now is to read up on wishes, so that I can run them in a fair and fun way. So let's take a look, shall we?

AD&D 1st Edition

In the Player's Handbook, the wish spell can freely bring people back to life and be used to escape a difficult predicament with no penalty. But other requests will weaken the caster and force them to rest for 2 to 8 days.

It urges the DM to twist the request in the name of "game balance". I dunno, if you are that worried about it, why even put it in the game?

In the Dungeon Master's Guide, there is a note on page 11 about using wishes to raise ability scores. To curb abuse, the DMG says that a wish only increases a stat of 16 or higher by... one-tenth of a point. So it takes 10 wish spells to go from 16 to 17, etc.

A little further in, it is noted that casting limited wish ages you one year, and casting wish ages you 3 years! Couldn't you just wish to be younger, though?

In the entry on the ring of multiple wishes, it again warns the DM: "If players are greedy and grasping, be sure to "crack" them. Interpret their wording exactly, twist the wording...". It just seems like they shouldn't have called it "wish" at all. Maybe they should have just had a limited wish as a 9th level spell and left it at that.

AD&D 2nd Edition

In the Player's Handbook, the wish spell is virtually identical.

In the DMG, it again goes with the "one-tenth of a point" rule for raising stats 16 and up. The ring of multiple wishes also has the "greedy and grasping" entry. I didn't realize how much of 2e was cut and pasted.

In The Complete Wizard's Handbook there is a section discussing wishes. It gives some general guidelines:

- A wish for treasure yields 1,000 - 10,000 gp.
- It can heal 45-70 hit points
- It can destroy one creature within sight of 10 hit dice or less.

Then there is a not-so-charming list of things the DM can do in certain situations:

- Character wishes for a castle: It appears in mid-air and crashes to the ground, reduced to rubble.
- Character wishes to never suffer damage: The character turns into a stone statue.

In the Al Qadim setting, due to the prevalence of genies, there's a bit of information on wishes. In Secrets of the Lamp, there's a section on Genie Wishes. It gives some guidelines:

- Wishes can't affect the past or future.
- Wishes can't make you a prince or bestow a title on you.
- Wishes cannot alter the true feelings of a creature. Alignments can't be changed. You can befuddle someone and charm them, but you can't wish for true love (how depressing).
- Wishes can't make magic items out of thin air. They are plucked from somewhere in existence.

Fun Fact: A wish granted by a Fire Genie is reviewed by the genie's superiors in the City of Brass. The genie must prove that the wish was granted against its' will and that it proved its' innate superiority by turning the wish against the wisher.

This just in: Secrets of the Lamp is awesome.

D&D 3rd Edition

The SRD has a nice rundown of the wish spell.

The wish spell can replicate the effects of spells of level 7 or maybe 8. It can add one stat point. It can create non-magic items worth up to 25,000 gp. How much does a fortress cost?

I understand that wish is obviously  game-breaking device. It seems like they shouldn't bother with it at all if they are going to limit it so much.

There is an old article on about wishes.
I don't know where he got this from: "One obscure rule that caused lots of trouble in the 1st Edition AD&D game was that wishes were granted by the nearest divine power. That entity knew the nature of the wish and could choose to grant it, refuse it, or twist it as desired."

Is that true? That's crazy.

Basically, the jist of the article is that the DM should tell the players up front what wishes can and can't do.

Wish is the ultimate spell. The character has to be around, what, 16th level to cast it? 18th? These limitations seem pretty extreme to me! I understand that the game is easily broken by wish spells being cast left and right but come on... one stat point? Or one-tenth of a stat point? It's called WISH.

I will continue to experiment with it in my game. I've had to put the kibosh on a few things already, like wishing for more wishes (though I sort of allowed that). I would balk at the idea of them wishing themselves to be 20th level (partly because that makes no sense in the context of the game, and partly because there's nowhere to go after that).

I like the idea of running with a campaign where the PC can make wishes and then deal with the ramifications. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dead in Thay: The Tragic Tale of the Promo d20

Sloppy Dice! Lose your grip and pay the price!
Next week is the final session of Dead in Thay! I have really enjoyed this season. I don't understand why there is a month gap between the end of this season and the start of the next one. I plan to convert White Plume Mountain to fill the void.

I want to start tooling around with the starter set rules to slowly get these players acclimated to the actual for-real 5e rules. I told them about Inspiration, and they liked it. Inspiration is a new thing in 5E where the DM can reward a player for playing their character well. I give you inspiration (an "inspiration point", basically) and they spend it when they want to get advantage on a roll. We'll probably start using it in a week or two.

I've had 9 players the last few weeks, which is double the usual amount. The new edition is definitely bringing in new people. This week, many of my players were on vacation. Maine, Sweden, you name it. I still ended up with 5 players, with one of them being brand new.

The things I am about to write about may come off as if I am more angry than I actually am. Tonight was a good session. I'd give it an 8 out of 10. I was happy and people seemed to have a good time. So this stuff I am about to rant about is more just me venting and pleading with the world at large to curb a few behaviors for the sake of DM sanity. I really don't care that much, but I'd really like to end the madness once and for all.

I have pet peeves, as you know. One of them is when people tie on initiative rolls (I am aware that this is just me being crazy). The players all know to just compare DEX bonuses, and if it's still a tie to roll again. But every single time, the game screeches to a halt and I have to stop everything to take them step by step through the process. It is utterly excruciating. I try so hard to keep things moving and interesting, and this initiative thing kills it every time. It gets real old when people who have played with me for 6+ months still have a car crash every time they tie on initiative.

You get one of these for free!
My other pet peeve is Sloppy Dice. Tonight, one dude kept rolling in the crack where our tables were pushed together. He rolled to hit, the die landed in the crack and was cocked, unreadable (though sometimes if it's half on an 18 they'll weakly try to claim it). So he rolled once more... RIGHT INTO THE CRACK AGAIN! I was beside myself. He rolled it directly toward the crack. Why?! Why?!?!

People. When you roll a die, just roll it in your little space in front of you. Don't spin it backwards. Don't fling it so it bounces off a container. And for the love of everything you hold dear, don't roll it toward the edge of the table! Please! I am begging you! Why would you ever roll it toward the edge of the table?! Ever? It goes from amusing to slightly annoying to "I can't believe you really did that again, how is that even possible?!"

There was so much freaking sloppy dice tonight it was bewildering. The dice-flinging actually built like a disaster film, with each incident more extreme than the last.

One of the best things about this Encounters season is the cool 20-sided die you receive just for showing up. It is black with red lettering, and it has a cool symbol for the number 20. Hack and Slash Guy lost his a month or two ago. I got the store to give him a replacement.
He is the guy who owns no dice at all but plays faithfully every week. Correction: He owned one die - the free d20. At the start of tonight's game, I gave him a set of dice from my Starter Set, still in the bag. It was mostly a "thank you" for showing up every week for many months. It was also a way to just finally get the guy some dice and end our national nightmare.

Guess what happened? He freak-rolled his black encounters die - the replacement for the one he'd lost - right off the table and into Parts Unknown. The game screeched to a halt. Everyone was on the ground, poring over carpet fibers. Where could this thing have gone? It couldn't be far, right? All hands on deck, the group was determined to turn over every rock. After about two minutes, it became obvious.. the die was gone, somehow. Gone! He lost his second promo d20!

I will try to get him another replacement, but I have to say that things look grim indeed for the shiny blue starter set that I handed to him tonight. I may have dealt those little fellows a death sentence.

I kid you not when I say this: Sloppy Dice partly prevented us from doing 5 dungeon rooms tonight. Five measly rooms. What also didn't help was a new guy who had a character made from a previous playtest packet. This happens all the time. People come in and start citing these weird-ass rules from late 2012, then get crestfallen and lost when they are told their character is obsolete.

It was an 8 out of 10, I swear.

It can do this every round!
A monster we didn't get to tonight was the will o wisp. This is probably good, because that thing has a gimmick I never thought I'd see again: SAVE OR DIE. Look at that stat block, there. Holy crap. I can just feel the D&D version of the x-box controller-throwing rage all across the nation in the months to come.

DMs, warn your players about this well in advance! Prepare them. Say, "Just so you know, this adventure has a few monsters/traps that have a save or die effect." This will lessen the shock when it comes, and it gives your group an opportunity in advance to discuss whether you even want to use save or die stuff in your game.

Here's the three rooms we did. Three rooms!

Room 103. Temple of Fortune
This room has a red wizard, a flesh golem and a wight. The room has a luck effect in it where if the PCs roll ones or twenties, special things happen. For example:

- Roll a 20 to hit, do an extra weapon die damage
- Roll a 1 to hit, it takes the damage from its' own attack!

Unfortunately, there weren't many 1's or 20's rolled. Fireball is feeling less effective thanks to tieflings taking half damage from fire, and the rogue ability to cut the damage in half.

The flesh golem was scary. It did a lot of damage. But our heroes persevered and freed the little Chosen halfling from the shrine (this whole section of the dungeon has shrines that siphon godly power from special NPCs linked to the gods known as The Chosen).

This little halfling was in the last encounters season, and I don't remember this being foreshadowed at all. This adventure says he didn't know he was a Chosen. That is really lame to me. It's like they just decided this. I would have liked to know so I could foreshadow it and do stuff with it to make this feel like something more. Eh who knows, maybe it was in there and I just don't remember. It just feels to me like a Chosen should be a big deal with some crazy powers, not some goofball NPC.

They actually do this again a few rooms later. The Ice Witch from the Crystal Shards season is a Chosen, too.

Room 104. Temple of Savagery

In this room, you take damage if you don't cause damage and you also have to save each round or be consumed with bloodlust. This means you'll make an opportunity attack against anyone, including allies.

The heroes killed the Red Wizard and his dread warriors along with some shadows. The dread warriors have 75 hit points each, which is a bit of a drag. I cut one down to 45 hit points to keep things moving.

This room was rough primarily because shutting down the shrine became a deadly affair. This group continues to just rush the shrines and get hurt by them due to bad rolls. If they hid in the hallway and sent one specialist in, they'd be much better off. But as I've said before, they don't learn even when you tell them directly.

Room 105. Temple of Plague
This room has a plague mist in it. The plague mist is.. wow. Save or do nothing but vomit for a round! Crazy. This module definitely ramps up, big time.

We barely got through this. It took us two hours... two hours! To do the first two rooms. Unreal.

The mist made shutting down the shrine another deadly task. But their dice suddenly caught fire, and they made their checks in record time! Good for them, it seems like my groups have been plagued by bad rolls lately.

Unfortunately we won't get to the last two rooms, as we need to go through the final section next week. I'm probably going to print out a poster map at Office Depot for this. It should be great!