Batgirl III's Thread (A Short Victorious War)

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

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Postby Mezinger » Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:44 am

Batgirl III wrote:At Basilisk Fort will be how I kick off my first campaign, and is the first time I've ever shared an adventure I wrote with the public... Normally, I just run from a few pages of notes. Enjoy!

http://www.mediafire.com/?wmgoqejzfnz


Thank you very cool.
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Postby Teodor Kalamov » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:28 pm

Great adventure, tried it with the group.
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Postby Batgirl III » Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:18 am

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Batgirl's Guide to Character Creation
A Dragon Age RPG Mechanics Rant

Some people are smart, some are dumb; some are strong, some are weak; some are charming, and some are just plain annoying. Under mmany "modern" systems of character creation, though, characters are created equal. Everyone gets the same number of character points, or at least pretty close to it. Stupid characters can be correspondingly stronger, while charming characters may be correspondingly less tough. It all evens out.

Unfortunately, this isn't very realistic. Fortunately, there's random character creation.

Let's be clear: when I am talking about random character creation I mean the real thing. It used to be the deafult method of "older" game systems and was called Method One back before 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Roll dice for each attribute and assign the values to attributes, in order, as they are rolled. If your first roll is seven (and you are playing DARPG) then your Strength is -1. Older systems like D&D had a "No Swapping" rule, but DARPG is leinent and lets you tweak the values of two stats if you want to.

The important characteristic of the DARPG system is that all of the basic facts about a character are determined randomly. A character may be quick and strong, or sickly and dumb, strong but sickly or dumb but wise. For players who enjoy games that accurately simulate the world, it can be extremely frustrating to have character creation make the assumption that all people are equally talented or skilled. This kind of random character creation encourages a more realistic spread of character types and makes our players who enjoy vareity very happy.

However, other kinds of players tend to hate random character creation. This isn't unreasonable! After all, random character creation forces the player to give up control of the one part of the game they have absolute control over. Players who value the game aspects of role-playing - making the most of the rules and structure of the game - hate it because they risk their ability to design their character to make good use of the rules. Players who value story hate it because it makes their construction of the story dependent on a roll of the dice. Really, though, both of these kinds of players have good reasons to appreciate random character creation, at least some of the time.

For players who enjoy the game-as-game, random character creation can prove a real challenge to their skills. After all, the process is not entirely random. Once the character's basics are determined, the player can start to make choices about what to do with these raw materials. Every DARPG player gets to choose their class, background and race.

The choices this kind of player makes, based on their randomly generated stats, can actually provide an interesting mini-game-like challenge. The random aspect of creation forces the player to think differently, while the choices made after attributes are determined let the player shape their character. While a game-oriented player probably wouldn't want to do this for every game, it can be a great way to give them a problem to solve, and game-oriented players like solving problems.

Narrative-oriented players are a much harder nut to crack, but the benefits to them are even more powerful. They've been presented with a random collection of stats - but making a character out of that random collection of stats can actually make the story better, even if it seems like an arbitrary exercise.

The key? Getting players to work together. Random character creation fosters an environment for people to create characters that work together in interesting ways. First, random character creation can make difficult narrative problems for the group to solve - the problem of how to turn an odd collection of stats into a character. This gets the group talking about their characters, which is a necessary pre-requisite for collaboration. It also forces the players to be relatively unattached to their characters at first. Since a player can't have a character concept before character creation they can't get attached to that concept. This makes them more open to accepting the group's input, and much more open to going against their own tendencies and stereotypes when creating the character.

For this to be work, you as the gamemaster have to create an environment where players can effectively collaborate. First off, it never hurt to make your goals in this little project explicit. Tell the players that you expect them to talk over character creation with the group.

Second, because the players never really listen to you anyway, sit them all down in the same room to do the rolling and customizing parts of character creation. Once the rolling starts most players won't need to be told to talk, they will start discussing the high rolls, the low rolls, and the statistical strangeness that will crop up (like the player I recently had who rolled a ten - five out of eight times).

Third, encourage everyone to brainstorm about each character. Point out the strengths and weaknesses of the character concepts as the process occurs. How did such an unintelligent wanderer survive on the road for so long? Is this character really smart enough to be a professor? Let the group suggest solutions to people's character woes. Some people are bound to have stat collections that seem unplayable, or perhaps just impossible for a real person to have. Get the group to solve these problems.

Fourth, encourage people to think about the group as a whole and how all its members interact. The goal here is to create a fairly tight knit group of characters, which makes the gamemaster's job easier later on. The players should be flexible with their characters backgrounds so the whole group can hang together. Character groups will tend to form around the weakest characters, to explain how such a weak character is involved in the adventure at all. Encourage the impromptu creation of familial relationships or long term friendships, so long as they don't exclude the rest of the group. Try to be sure that each character is tightly tied to at least two other characters.

Following these guidelines, random character creation can actually be a powerful aid to creating good story - and not only does this keep story-oriented players happy, it can also be a great imaginative aid for the gamemaster.

So don't be afraid to introduce random collaborative character creation to a game! Your players may be leery, but most of them will enjoy it more than they'd think. It's probably best to introduce this technique when running a one-shot, but don't be afraid to base a long term campaign on it. Either way, you and your players will enjoy the challenge and the creativity it brings to your game.
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Postby angel_lord » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:44 am

Batgirl III wrote:Unfortunately, this isn't very realistic. Fortunately, there's random character creation.



Nice rant, though I spent most of an hour pondering the need for this bit. As an old grognard who enjoys the random aspect of rolling, and also plays more point buy systems than most - I find it annoyingly misguided when people call any character creation system 'realistic'.

Random stats are far from 'realistic' in their distribution. Then again, depending on the person doing the build, point buy is just as bad.

It doesn't matter which method you prefer, so long as the game is enjoyable for you.
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Postby Batgirl III » Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:06 pm

A bell curve avoids the Lake Woebegone effect, where all the children are above average. That's all that I meant.
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:26 pm

Older systems like D&D had a "No Swapping" rule


Well purple box (came before red box) did allow swapping points between ability scores on a 2 for 1 basis (so you could in an emergency, but it was generaly a bad idea as you were losing twice what you'd gain).
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:11 am

Balgin Stondraeg wrote:Now whilst I only skimmed your GM's notes (I'll get 'round to a propper readthrough later) I'm under the impression that you've got some pretty nasty killer combats in there at the end. I generaly wouldn't want to pitt that many genlocks against a first level party let alone the hurlocks. Especialy as some groups are overlooking others (on the wall above a gate, for example).

I hope you aren't running it for new roleplayers. Experienced roleplayers could enjoy the thrill of carefuly scouting out an area and dealing with it apropriately but newer players are more likely to be a bit less cautious. Anyway, I'll probably roll up a bunch of brand new characters and run them through it to see if it's as overwhelming as it looks or if that was just a first impression thing.


Last night myself and a friend ran through the combat encounters at the end of the adventure with a party of 6 first level characters to balance test them. To keep it fair we decided that neither side was surprised and began the front gate encounter at a medium distance. We also ignored the humans since we knew they were fairly balanced and were focussing on the darkspawn.

The gate encounter with the genlocks wasn't too bad. In fact, a party rogue managed to shoot the genlock archer off the back of the parapet (with a 6 point stunt) so he took some falling damage. He fled and alerted the guards at the entrance to the keep itself.

Now those of you who have not played the computer game or read the novels may not be aware that the darkspawn have a hivemind conscioussness. What one knows, all the nearby ones know. So, whilst you can't creep up on one if another one sees you, if you slay one, other nearby ones will come to see what the problem is (and so it's easy to fool them and make diversions as they're not that bright - probably confused by all that conflicting information).

So the two hurlocks and their two dire wolves set about the party with gusto whilst the three genlock archers on the roof of the keep rapidly rallied and began firing. The party decided to facde the hurlocks in the gate house (the main gate, not the entrance to the keep) and fortunately this gave the genlocks a massive penalty to hit anything with stray arrows.

The hurlocks were obscene. At one point one of them took down the avvar barbarian and half slew the Ferelden warrior with a single blow. The wizard took a stray arrow and fled, promptly followed by the city elf. The dwarf lasted longest, fighting a losing battle against the two remaining hurlocks in the gatehouse whilst the other rogue on the wall (she had entered into the gate house tower and climbed the stairs up to the ramparts) had been shooting at stragglers and was now stranded (especialy since her brother had been slain).

Now technicaly the hurlock alpha, his pet blight wolf, and d3 genlocks should've come barrelling out of the keep as well (because of the group consciousness) but I wasn't that nasty, deciding he was complacent, or they'd busied themselves with something else.

It's confirmed my suspicions that genlocks are a level 2-3 threat and hurlocks a level 3-4 threat. Not that they'd be a threat to parties of that level but that they roughly seem to eb characters of that level. In fact the warrior's level 4 ability is identical to the hurlock's berzerk strike ability :). So now any warrior who makes it to level four has felt the taint of the blight and survived! Maybe... :green:
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Postby Mezinger » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:26 am

Balgin Stondraeg wrote:
It's confirmed my suspicions that genlocks are a level 2-3 threat and hurlocks a level 3-4 threat. Not that they'd be a threat to parties of that level but that they roughly seem to eb characters of that level. In fact the warrior's level 4 ability is identical to the hurlock's berzerk strike ability :). So now any warrior who makes it to level four has felt the taint of the blight and survived! Maybe... :green:


Thanks for the play test info, very interesting.
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Postby Batgirl III » Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:07 am

I never expected players to go for a frontal assault... but thanks for the feedback.
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Postby Maliki » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:19 am

Mezinger wrote:
Balgin Stondraeg wrote:
It's confirmed my suspicions that genlocks are a level 2-3 threat and hurlocks a level 3-4 threat. Not that they'd be a threat to parties of that level but that they roughly seem to eb characters of that level. In fact the warrior's level 4 ability is identical to the hurlock's berzerk strike ability :). So now any warrior who makes it to level four has felt the taint of the blight and survived! Maybe... :green:


Thanks for the play test info, very interesting.


+1 this may have saved a TPK for my players. :D
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:47 am

Batgirl III wrote:I never expected players to go for a frontal assault... but thanks for the feedback.


Looking at it on paper I didn't expect it either, but wanted to balance test the encounters that way to see just how tricksy you were expecting your players to be. I was only concerned with this because you'd put it up as a starter adventure which new players might use.....

Four of the characters that I used are in the character thread. I haven't written entries for the other two just yet.
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Postby Maliki » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:26 pm

Now those of you who have not played the computer game or read the novels may not be aware that the darkspawn have a hivemind conscioussness. What one knows, all the nearby ones know. So, whilst you can't creep up on one if another one sees you, if you slay one, other nearby ones will come to see what the problem is (and so it's easy to fool them and make diversions as they're not that bright - probably confused by all that conflicting information).


That's a nice bit of info as well.
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Postby Batgirl III » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:38 am

A Short Victorious War was going to be a module, but I've nt got the paitence to churn out the dialog and set-up. Instead, I just took my notes for mass combat rules and turned them into a supplement.

Its an 11 page PDF, weighing in at 1.15 MB, with lotsa pretty pictures... so it will not be kind to your inkjet. :D

Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)
Last edited by Batgirl III on Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Timberboar » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:10 am

Batgirl III wrote:Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)


:( :roll: Everyone knows that quote is from The Postman. 8)

In all seriousness, I look forward to seeing these mass combat rules.
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Postby Batgirl III » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:18 am

Timberboar wrote:
Batgirl III wrote:Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)


:( :roll: Everyone knows that quote is from The Postman. 8)

In all seriousness, I look forward to seeing these mass combat rules.


D'oh... I forgot to include the link! :oops:

http://www.mediafire.com/?ugtgmdq002w
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Postby jaysin1414 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:57 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Timberboar wrote:
Batgirl III wrote:Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)


:( :roll: Everyone knows that quote is from The Postman. 8)

In all seriousness, I look forward to seeing these mass combat rules.


D'oh... I forgot to include the link! :oops:

http://www.mediafire.com/?ugtgmdq002w


I'm mostly a lurker, so my posts are pretty low - but I wanted to take a moment to say that I really appreciate the content that you've added to Dragon Age.

A hearty "Thank you!" to you Batgirl... keep up the great work!
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Postby Maliki » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:27 pm

Batgirl III wrote:A Short Victorious War was going to be a module, but I've nt got the paitence to churn out the dialog and set-up. Instead, I just took my notes for mass combat rules and turned them into a supplement.

Its an 11 page PDF, weighing in at 1.15 MB, with lotsa pretty pictures... so it will not be kind to your inkjet. :D

Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)


Thanks!
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Postby Timberboar » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:32 pm

A couple questions, Batgirl...

1) I don't think I quite get the Personal Results Check chart. Why does whether the heroes side is winning or losing affect how heavily engaged they can be? If I understand correctly, if the heroes side is losing, then they can ONLY be Disengaged or in Reserve. Wouldn't that be when most heroes (nee fools) would want to throw themselves into the thick of it the most?

2) Heroic Opportunities have an entry "Reward: 0-Special," with the bulk being numbers between 1 and 3, but there is no indication of what this reward might be. I had assumed bonuses to Tide of Battle checks, but individual write-ups (Draw the Line, for instance) contradict that assumption.
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Postby Batgirl III » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:44 pm

Timberboar wrote:1) I don't think I quite get the Personal Results Check chart. Why does whether the heroes side is winning or losing affect how heavily engaged they can be? If I understand correctly, if the heroes side is losing, then they can ONLY be Disengaged or in Reserve. Wouldn't that be when most heroes (nee fools) would want to throw themselves into the thick of it the most?


As the situation gets more desperate, the weight of battle shifts. The front lines aren't as thick and theback ranks aren't as safe...

Timberboar wrote:2) Heroic Opportunities have an entry "Reward: 0-Special," with the bulk being numbers between 1 and 3, but there is no indication of what this reward might be. I had assumed bonuses to Tide of Battle checks, but individual write-ups (Draw the Line, for instance) contradict that assumption.


Its right there at the top of page ten: the reward for a heroic opportunity gives a bonus to the General's Tide of Battle rolls.
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Postby EngageEight » Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:55 pm

Hey, Bats, I love all of your contributions that you have posted here so far! GR needs you on the staff!

I have run a modified version of your "At Basilisk Fort" and my players loved it! If you would care to hear the changes I made, I will shoot you a PM or post them somewhere. Whichever is more appropiate, let me know...
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Postby psychodrive » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:47 am

EngageEight wrote:Hey, Bats, I love all of your contributions that you have posted here so far! GR needs you on the staff!

I have run a modified version of your "At Basilisk Fort" and my players loved it! If you would care to hear the changes I made, I will shoot you a PM or post them somewhere. Whichever is more appropiate, let me know...


I'd care to hear as I may use it for my group at some point. Moreso than what you changed, I'm interested in the why...
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Postby Teodor Kalamov » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:51 am

Batgirl III wrote:A Short Victorious War was going to be a module, but I've nt got the paitence to churn out the dialog and set-up. Instead, I just took my notes for mass combat rules and turned them into a supplement.

Its an 11 page PDF, weighing in at 1.15 MB, with lotsa pretty pictures... so it will not be kind to your inkjet. :D

Cry havoc, and let slip the Dogs of War! -General Chang (Star Trek VI)


" Shot by a Bulgarian sentry " I am Bulgarian :P
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Postby EngageEight » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:43 am

Psycho, the short version of the changes I made to "At Basilisk Fort" (and why):

-At the start, I turned the character of Razmus around alot. He was dressed as a simple peasant instead of a fighter, and was complimenting the Dwarf on a farm he had just bought from him; the fertile soil, the soundness of the construction, etc.
Razmus went on to lament how he just couldn't afford the keep "even at such a steal of a price." He wished the dwarf well and moved on.
There really was no farm. Razmus was on Boris' payroll and gets a small cut of the "map money." I made this change to entice the players into working with Boris and they really fell for it.

-During the journey to the keep, I inserted a Darkspawn attack, nothing too major, but tracks indicate there are a large number of DSpawn in the area. It'll be apparent why soon.

-I had the keep occupied by another group of adventurers that Boris had sold his map to earlier. They were wary of attacks, and an unfriendly, surly lot in general. They had already fought off one darkspawn attack before the characters arrived on the scene. The adventure could go a couple ways from here:

-Your players could be aggressive and drive off/kill the other adventurers. Then, as night falls, have the darkspawn attack. They'll have to fight off a relatively large number of darkspawn.

-Your players might be diplomatic, seeing as they have a common enemy or two, and join forces with the other adventurers in setting up a defense against the impending Darkspawn attack. It's possible they may even track down Boris together later on.

Just my two cents.
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Postby psychodrive » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:00 pm

EngageEight wrote:Psycho, the short version of the changes I made to "At Basilisk Fort" (and why):


Love it, especially the second band of adventurers. Thanks.
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Postby EngageEight » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:22 pm

psychodrive wrote:Love it, especially the second band of adventurers. Thanks.


Great! I'm glad you like it!
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