With Babels going as Salamence and my Lucas costume being a bit well-worn, I’ve decided its time for a new Pokémon trainer costume. Since Salamence originated in Ruby and Sapphire, I’m going to go as Brendan, the male trainer from the games.In the past, I’ve created a bunch of cosplays with lots of help from my wife. She’s still helping this time, but I’m intent on sewing some of the costume together. With a cosplay selected, it’s time to start planning.

Step one is to gather lots of reference pictures. Fortunately, Pokémon has a large and vibrant fanbase that is incredibly resourceful. At Bulbapedia, the goto wiki for Pokémon, there is a well-research article on Brendan including artwork and sprites from the original games and the remakes. Since I’m using the character from the remakes, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, there is a 3D model available that has been extracted from the games.

With references acquired, its time to break down the costume into essentials, nice-to-haves and extraneous pieces. For Brendan, I picked the hat and shirt as essentials. As far as Pokémon trainers go, they are the distinctive parts of his outfit. The shorts, pokéball and mega bracelet are nice-to-haves. Given that I’m likely to be toting around a baby Salamence, the backpack is extraneous. I’m also placing the shoes in the extraneous category, any pair of sneakers will suffice. Also, a few non-featured additions, a set of Hoenn League badges will be a nice touch and considered an essential. An updated Hoenn pokédex will make the nice-to-haves list.

After assigning each of the pieces of the costume a category, it’s time to decide how to make or acquire each of the pieces. Given the uniquness of the hat and shirt, I’ll be sewing these myself. I’ll illustrate a Salamencite Mega Stone as a watch face for my Apple Watch and if there’s enough time, I’ll build the Pokédex myself. The shorts are generic enough to be purchased. I’ll pick up a new watch band that’s closer in color to the Mega Bracelet. Finally, I’ll buy the Hoenn League badges like I did for Lucas.

With a plan mostly in place, its time to get started!

(Cross-posted at Abels Innovations.)

Kicking off a new campaign is always fun. New settings, new characters, new adventures. Wander-Lost is no exception. As the Matrix of GMship gets passed around, it’s fascinating what each GM focuses on during campaign introduction, character creation and the first few sessions. Nicole, our GM, started us with a forum thread.

Since the inception of the most recent incarnation of our role-playing group1, we’ve been fans of downtime threads. In the bright spotlight and hustle of a session, it can be easy to lose a grip on the anchors of one’s character. These threads allow us to refocus and explore characteristics that don’t always surface. A player can take time to formulate an appropriate in-character response.

The thread begins under the great oak at the heart of the town, the various volunteers meander in and introduce themselves to the other characters and players. While many discussions were had about mechanics of the characters prior to play, there was very little discussion about the personalities. So this thread is our first impression of the characters. For Chase, I decided to focus on three things, her generally optimistic outlook and her quirk of fiddling with coins, and her mastiff companions, Artemis and Bastion.2

The characters spend time arriving, making introductions and establishing relationship ties. The conversation focuses on their reason for assembling, the magenta storm, and the selection of their first destination. Prior to the thread, Chase has established friendships with Amanodel and Joanna, and met Neill and Dóin. That leaves Cathaoir and Allister as the unfamiliar companions which poses some difficulty as Cathaoir is presented as a grim, survivalist and Allister an eccentric fatalist. Both these personalities will naturally lead to some conflict, which is good for development but I kind of wish Chase had some stronger ties built in to help overcome the inevitable arguments. The characters settle on seeking the knowledge of The Silver Order in Colthyr which will take them north via Dalrun.

Before delving into the session itself, I’ll note that I very much missed having a full character creation session. While we offered up early concepts at the close of Mars 2076, and had some small discussions in Slack, some things are just easier to establish in real-time. We wrote backgrounds and crossover stories but we mostly built our characters in a vacuum. Nobody’s quite sure of what supplies and tools the other characters are bringing with them. Considering the nature of the campaign, a survival and exploration setup, it’s difficult that we didn’t prepare our equipment as a group. That’s partially on the players, we probably should have communicated more, but even when the topic was touched on in Slack and in the thread, few responded with any concrete details. On to the session!

As a campaign of exploration, it’s very important to understand the basic unit of time and what actions can be performed in that unit. Nicole explained that there are several paces: explore, cautious, normal, hustle, sprint. Additionally, we can opt not to move and instead forage, trap, hunt, fish or gather herbs. I believe these cover all the bases, at this point, I can’t think of anything else we’d need to do in the wilderness but that’s the joy of playing, sometimes players come up with something unexpected.

Nicole sets the scene, the group is assembled in the center of town, ready to set out on their mission. It takes a little bit to decide on a course of action but one of the players reminds us that in the thread we decided to set course for Colthyr and Dalrun. One thing I would find helpful is a map. Even if it’s not completely uncovered or filled in, our characters would likely have an idea of the general layout of geography. Chase was born, raised and has spent a good portion of her adult life in Colthyr. But I as a player have no idea where it is in relation to Oakheart and our current location. A visual aid would allow the GM and the players to have a shared reference precluding the need for the players to constantly pester the GM for a reminder of where we are and where we’re headed.

We set forth and spend four hours3 climbing out of the valley and onto the trade route to Dalrun. We come upon the cairns that mark the former edge of the ward that protects Oakheart. Immediately we notice that the road is overgrown and Allister and Amanodel decide to investigate. And here the mechanics of the four hour blocks get muddied. Are we exploring? Are we moving? I think it’s clear the group is willing to spend a few minutes to check out the oddness but the goal is still to reach Colthyr to gather more information. But Allistar and Amanodel wander off without the full group and come upon a giant wasp’s nest. Allister returns the to bulk of the group, but then Amanodel does some more wandering.

Now I definitely believe both these players are playing to their character’s traits, but I found it frustrating. I think I would have been on board if we as a group decided to inspect the site further but it just kind of happened. Amanodel goes nosing around a giant wasp’s nest alone and somehow manages to avoid an encounter. As a GM, I would have, and in the past I have, forced the encounter. It would quickly set the tone that the wilderness is dangerous and all hopes of survival and discovery lie in the groups ability to work together.

Eventually, we regroup and continue on the trade route. At a distance, we sight our first wagon since leaving Oakheart. We spend time investigating the cart, finding metal shrapnel and dried blood leading away from the wagon. We engage in a bit of debate about investigating further, setting up camp or pressing on. Eventually, most of the party agrees to track the ambushers. In a great exchange, Amanodel casts Speak with Animals and she questions a few birds. We deduce we’re dealing with a group of kobolds and locate their lair. We setup our own ambush and lure them out with some Minor Illusion noises.

Nicole has put together an outstanding map for this encounter. Nothing unusual, just a solid map with enough space for movement but no more. The only difficulty is that the lighting setup doesn’t work as intended, so we get a bit of a pass on our lack of darkvision for some of the characters. This encounter was solidly tuned, several standard kobolds with a pair of advanced kobolds. It takes two rounds for us to gain the upperhand. Amanodel’s Moonbeam at the entrance of the den thins the herd before it can even reach the main group. The focus fire of Chase, Dóin, Joanna, Cathaoir and Neill bring the encounter to a close rather quickly. But not before Nicole reminds us that this isn’t a cakewalk. A kobold trapmaster scurries out of the den and launches a grenade at our spellcasters, Allister and Amanodel. Allister fails his Dexterity saving throw and is knocked unconscious at 0 hp. Ama on the other end, not only succeeds on the Dex throw, but manages to hold onto her Moonbeam also. Unfortunately, the trapmaster escaped back into the den. To wrap up the encounter, Neill, an Open Palm Monk, knocks the kobold chief prone. Chase snaps her whip with a sneak attack and steps back. Realizing I’m technically dual wielding the whip and the hand crossbow, I shoot the chief in the face to close the encounter.

Chase was solid in this combat. I made two errors, one for my benefit and one for the GM’s. First, I moved a square too far in one round, allowing me to close the gap a round too quickly. Second, I closed the gap too much. Chase can hit enemies ten feet away because of her whip. I should have had her step back after hitting the chief, so he would provoke opportunity attacks from Cathaoir and Neill if he decided to pursue Chase. With Stefan and Casavel, I really don’t worry about positioning too much. They’re both carrying high armor classes and often want to be the target of the enemy attacks. Chase’s AC is considerably lower, though still on the high end of the party, which means I can take some attacks but I shouldn’t make it so easy on the GM. Also, Chase taking the majority of the attacks from the chief was beneficial for the whole party. Chase probably has the most hit points, but the chief was dishing out poison damage to which Chase has resistance reducing the damage by half (or three quarters if there’s a successful saving throw).

And that’s where we concluded. Overall, this was a good introductory session. We have some group dynamics to smooth out but that is something that can’t really be solved in the first session. The new thread is occurring right after the combat ends, so we’ll get to see how the characters react to their success. I’m looking forward to the next session already.

  1. My testing post is dated 16 October 2014, so now two years! 
  2. My post was up before I had decided to drop the mastiffs from the campaign. 
  3. She termed these four hour blocks watches. I think she grabbed this term from somewhere else but it’s kind of confusing. I’d probably use the term block, but that doesn’t feel like a very good in-game term. 

In the previous post, I introduced the new campaign, Wander-Lost, being run for my regular RPG group. We play bi-weekly and fill the intermediate time with play-by-post and Slack chats.1 This will be only my second campaign as a player in this group and I’m hoping to play a lot better than I did in Mars 2076. So, today, I’ll introduce my new character, Chase Starryeyes.

For me, making a character is a careful balance between mechanics and role-playing. To enjoy a character, I need to be active and engaged in the story and the system. Mechanically, I tend to play either a gish, a rogue, or a mage.2 I really like versatility in mechanics, being able to contribute in multiple phases of the game. As the other players announced their intentions, I started off thinking about playing an Eldritch Knight, filling the melee tank role.

But then inspiration struck. A few years ago while playtesting D&D Next, one of the NPCs I introduced was a Halfling professor named Curiosity Bounceback who kept getting her assistants killed during her expeditions. I seized on the idea of a lucky and prepared Halfling who would always wonder why her traveling companions couldn’t keep up. With the core of a concept and some mechanics I wanted to target, a Battle Master/Swashbuckler build started to form. And then another bolt of inspiration, she would ride a mastiff into battle, use a whip to trip opponents and then fire her hand crossbow into their prone faces.3

With this in mind, the character’s history started to come into focus. She was a young professor at the nearby arcane college. But I needed to pull her into Oakheart and give her a few strong ties to the town. First up, her immediate family was there and they were dog breeders! This would give a good story reason for her mastiff companions, and why there would be a nearly unlimited stock available in case any of them died in the wilderness. Family is a great anchor but she was a successful professor in another city. What made her move to Oakheart?

A discovery in her field! Well, in her field of study but in her family’s fields. They found some sort of artifact and she relocated to study it and search for more. As an explorer, archaeology and history seem appropriate, but I wanted her to be a bit more focused. There’s the blight and the elves! In the Player’s Handbook there’s a small blurb on Halflings and how they view elves.

They’re so beautiful! Their faces, their music, their grace and all. It’s like they stepped out of a wonderful dream. But there’s no telling what’s going on behind their smiling faces— surely more than they ever let on.

So, elves and the blight. Perhaps the Elves know something about the cause? And then the idea of an academic rival formed. Chase would love the Elves, and so her rival would espouse that the Elves not only knew what caused the blight, but that the Elves were the perpetrators. So what did her family find in their fields, a mostly unintelligible text, likely an old journal in Elven. With her background settled, it was time to return to the mechanics of the character.

And this is where the frustration began. A Halfling riding a mastiff into battle is a rather evocative image. But Fifth Edition just doesn’t really support mounted combat. There is a single page of rules and a single feat. Only one class, the Ranger, has actual support for an animal companion. The Paladin has a spell, Find Steed, but the resulting mount isn’t particularly enhanced for combat, though it is at least re-summonable. Both of those options are viable, if not solid. But I’m already playing a Paladin regularly, and two of the other players are playing Rangers covering both types, Beast Master and Hunter.4

Nicole, our lovely DM, and I went back and forth for two weeks trying to find an acceptable compromise. In the end, we failed and I conceded the mastiffs.5 When I envision this character, she is an archaeologist, explorer and professor. The mastiffs were an interesting mechanic and provided additional characterization, but they did not make or break the character. With the mastiffs gone, I ended up moving back to an Eldritch Knight and Swashbuckler build. Like always, I build the class mix out to level 20 despite the very high probability that the campaign or the character won’t make it that high. She’s slated to be an Eldritch Knight 11/Swashbuckler 7, which leaves a couple levels to flex. Going deeper into EK I can get 3rd level spells. Deeper into Swashbuckler nabs a taunt like feature. Or with 13+ in Dex, Con, and Cha, I could flex out to a bunch of different classes. There’s that flexibility and versatility again.

Chase is not the only character going out into the wilderness, the rest of her companions are:

  • Allister (Wild Magic Sorcerer)
  • Amanodel (Circle of the Moon Druid)
  • Cathaoir (Ranger/Rogue)
  • Chastity “Chase” Starryeyes (Fighter/Rogue)
  • Dóin (Beast Conclave UA Ranger)
  • Joanna Wylde (Fey Pact Warlock/Bard)
  • Neill Allen (Open Hand Monk)

Chase is close with Amanodel and Joanna. She’s also met Dóin and Neill. Here’s her full background. I’m excited to see how the characters play together.

  1. Our play-by-post threads are mostly conversational. I think we’ve only had a single thread that involved system mechanics. 
  2. Other than Chase, I’m playing Stefan (Rogue/Paladin) and Casavel (Wizard Bladesinger). 
  3. A Halfling on dog-back is very much inspired by the Eberron Halflings that ride dinosaurs across the Talenta Plains. 
  4. And then Wizards released an updated playtest Ranger which looks much better on the surface. 
  5. One day I’ll play a Halfling on the back of a mastiff. Future DMs beware. 

As we enter the autumn season, my main RPG group has wrapped up another campaign. This summer, our brave astronauts landed on Mars. They battled the elements, advanced technology, antagonistic team members and the unknown to prepare Mars for an inbound ship of colonists. Overall it was a fun campaign that ended with a fantastic session. The story arc was completed with a satisfying ending but also with some lingering questions. I expect we’ll revisit that setting in the future.

For now though, the GM seat has been vacated for one of my long time friends, Nicole. She’s switching us back to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons in an exploration and survival campaign titled, Wander-Lost. Just about two years ago, Nicole was basically new to role-playing.1 Now she’s got about a year of running Adventurers League games at her local game store and online with Out of the Abyss. She’s a high effort DM who pours a lot of time into prep and it shows during play.

In the world of Wander-Lost, a blight spread throughout the world an untold number of years ago. As the blight was spreading, a pious man pleaded with his goddess to intervene and protect his valley. She heard his prayer and offered a powerful ritual to be performed in conjunction with the local druidic circle and the mages of the nearby arcane college. A great oak tree sprouted up and with it a magical barrier that held the blight at bay. Centuries passed and the town of Oakheart grew in this protected valley.

Days prior to the start of the campaign, a magenta storm struck the town on the Summer Solstice and brought the protective barrier down. The druidic council has sent their scouts out but none have returned. Now, the council has called for volunteers to venture forth and find out what happened, why and how does Oakheart recover?

Nicole has presented Wander-Lost as a survival and exploration campaign, a direct contrast to our last two campaigns, run in Fate Core, which were very tight story arcs. She provided a small players guide with information on world history, organizations, religion, rules for character creation and variants rules that are being used to support the exploration and survival aspects. It’s been fun to help her set up the campaign with ideas and comments. I’m very excited to play.

With that said, these past few weeks we’ve been frustrating each other. I admit most of this is my doing. Between my optimization, rules knowledge, stubbornness and GM experience, I can be a very difficult player. Knowing we’re in for a long haul survival setup, I tried to make a character who was well-equipped and well-prepared for many a situations. This included flirtations with pack animals and mounted combat.2 Despite our best efforts to find a compromise where her vision for the campaign was intact and my character concept was unaltered, it just ended up being more frustrating and stressful than necessary. In the end, I decided that the animal companions were not as integral to my character concept and we agreed to drop them for now.3

Despite the frustration during character creation, I’m very excited for this campaign. I haven’t played in a wilderness survival campaign so this will be all new. It is my intent to provide session and thread recaps on a regular basis along with some occasional in-character fiction. In my next post, I’ll introduce my character, Chase Starryeyes, an archaeologist and professor of history of some renown.

  1. Way back in 2007, I ran a couple sessions of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Her first character was a fire sorceress named Kailinae. 
  2. Mounted combat is grossly under-supported in D&D 5e and this caused the greatest source of frustration. 
  3. Sorry again, Nic! 

In December, we bought a Lulzbot Mini from Aleph Objects and it has been a fantastic purchase. Our first few months of ownership saw a little use. I primarily printed organizers for our large collection of Zombicide designed by my wife. She also designed and printed our wedding cake topper. And lately, I’ve had it running non-stop as I finish my cosplay for DragonCon.

2016-08-22 - OctoPi2

Since it’s arrival last winter, our Mini has been accompanied and guided by a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B running OctoPi. The RPi2B has been a great companion for the most part but it has had some trouble staying connected to our Wi-Fi network. Earlier this summer I picked up a Raspberry Pi 3 to experiment with and one of the new improvements is an on-board Wi-Fi adapter. Alas, the wedding and honeymoon soaked up most of my free time and so the RPi3 languished on my workbench in its box.

With the recently increased workload on the OctoPi2 and Mini and the RPi3 gathering dust, I decided it was time to switch out the hardware. Swapping computers, even Raspberry Pis, requires a decent amount of prep work. First I had to order some replacement parts. The RPi3 requires a better power adapter than the RPi2 and the one I had tabbed for RPi3 use is instead being used with my RPi2B NAS server.1 Also, the microSD got taken on the honeymoon and now spends its time in our digital camera.

Even with the little bit of printing we’ve done, we’ve managed to amass a decently sized library of timelapse footage. Most of these were still sitting on the OctoPi2 and had to be downloaded and moved over to the NAS. Instead of completely replacing the OctoPi2, I could have probably just moved the microSD card over. But a fresh start seemed warranted. One of the last prints assigned to the OctoPi2 was a new case for the OctoPi3. Good thing computers don’t have feelings.

When the new power adapter and microSD card in hand, it was time to setup the OctoPi3 and put it into service. The programmers behind OctoPrint and OctoPi are fantastic. I’m currently supporting OctoPrint through Patreon. Setup takes under an hour and soon the OctoPi is hooked up to the Mini and printing a USB port support. With the first print successful the OctoPi3 is ready for full-time service!

Now what to use the OctoPi2 for?!

  1. Network Attached Storage. An external hard drive that can be accesses across Wi-Fi instead of USB. 

January is in the rear view mirror and I’m happy to say I completed a game. Sure there’s no art. And it’s short. But it plays as I had hoped when I put the design to paper a few weeks ago. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and refinement. But let’s leave that for another post.

2016-02-01 - Game Night

First off, I’m surprised I finished. Sure it’s not polished but the main game mechanic is present which is more than I can say for anything other solo projects. When my programmer friends were committing to doing #1GAM, I told them I’d try it but focus on the game design rather than putting together a prototype or a finished product. With a wedding in the works, a fiancée to support and an RPG campaign to run, I just didn’t see a lot of time left over for #1GAM.

It took a few weeks for the idea to come to me. But it took almost as long to actually get to work on a prototype. I’m a perfectionist and so when I picked up a book, Game Programming Patterns. I ended up devoting time to reading that and then forcing myself to try to apply the lessons I learned. This led to a bunch of wheel spinning over the past two weeks until I just tossed it all out and committed to making a prototype work.

While I tried to toss all the lessons aside, I ended up rewriting the entire codebase Friday night and Saturday on the last weekend of January. My code still isn’t perfect but it’s a lot cleaner than it was before the rewrite. Also, it’s setup better for improvement and maintainability in the future. By Sunday afternoon, I had everything back in place and to a minimum playable prototype.

So what does the future hold for my January #1GAM? Likely some further refinements and additions. Even with the calendar turning, I expect I won’t have a genius idea strike me for February’s #1GAM until a week or so. I need to expand the available games and guests. I’d like to add some difficulty and settings sliders. Oh, and art. Maybe one day.

Finally! Character Creation. It’s taken a while to get here but here we are at last. At the end of the Time and Tide Campaign, we spent a few hours discussing the campaign and then turned it over character generation ideas. So coming into the character creation session they had a general idea of what they wanted to play and what everyone else was thinking about playing.

With lessons learned from Time and Tide, I intended on this being equal in length to a regular session. Also, I prepared a few exercises to increase cohesiveness. First off, we discusses some skill list modifications. These changes were taken from a source I found that seemed to cater to exactly the kind of game I wanted to play. It adds some more science skills and removes notice. We also spent some time on expectations and the differences between D&D and Fate.

With the rules changes out of the way, we delved into the world itself. We changed the start date to September 1941 and I explained some basics about the current state of affairs in the United States. Before the session, some of my players expressed concern over the direction of the story and its drift towards the war. I took some time to assuage those fears and ensure that the focus would be on the mysticism and occult which is what differentiates our game world from the historical one. Also, this was not intended to be a dark campaign, were staying away from The Holocaust and other atrocities. With all that setup, I introduced the setting aspects, Knowledge is the Real and Tempting Power and Always an Imminent Crisis.

We spent the next hour setting up the characters, names, nationalities, high concepts and troubles. There was a lot of back and forth as each player tried to figure out how to express their characters in the new system. I don’t think there are any changes I’d want to make to the process. I feel as my group plays Fate more and more that they will get more comfortable.

For the next phase of character creation, I had them write one paragraph stories. The first story was about an assignment they went on for the Smithsonian. The second and third stories were where they played a key role in helping another one of the characters complete their assignment. Each story took a long time to complete but they turned out fantastic. They provided strong past associations between the characters. Now not every character connected to every other one. But each character had interacted with four of the other team members, which meant only two that they hadn’t. On the fly it took me a while to work out the connection map, so next time I’ll have it prepared ahead of time.

At the end, we wrapped up the session talking about skills, stunts and languages for everyone. They worked on those mostly between the character creation session and the launch of the campaign. The players are really good at writing and role-playing between sessions. But one player started every thread in Time and Tide, so I compelled another player to kick off the thread for this campaign. Speaking of which, we have a title, The Department of Collections.

2016-01-22 - Department of Collections

I decided to participate in 1GAM as part of my resolutions for 2016. The theme for January is hobby. The first few weeks of January have been taxing and I haven’t found time to do much work. But I did manage to come up with a basic concept. A puzzle game themed around game nights.

Towards the end of my tenure in Gainesville, board game nights became the premiere social event for my friends and me. Anywhere from three to twenty people would arrive at my humble abode and we’d play games late into the night. As my board game collection grew, decision paralysis often took hold. It’s difficult to find a game that everyone wants to play and everyone can play.

2016-01-20 - Game Night

And that’s the theme for my January 1GAM. Your friends have arrived for a game night and it’s your job as host to maximize their fun. You arrange the games and the players to solve the puzzle. There are a handful of traits that represent compatibility between players and games. The more a player’s traits match the game’s, the more fun they have playing that game. Games also have a range of allowed players.

I like the theme and basic design. I’ve had a little bit of time to implement it but nothing to show just yet. I’m hoping to have a no-art playable demo by the end of the month.

For a while, I’ve been struggling with continuing to work through the drawing exercises as part of Learning to Draw. The last exercise I tried was drawing a chair to learn about negative spaces. Despite my progress, I was ambitious and crashed and burned in my first attempt. Since that incident, I’ve struggled to get myself motivated to continue improving.

This is bad. I have a pair of costume ideas I’d like to start on for DragonCon. Both are going to involve months long build times and need significant visual preparation. And my drawing skills are just not there yet. My fiancée has pushed me off the starting line this weekend. Over the past year or so, I’ve been collecting various Udemy courses during their big sales. During the Thanksgiving Day sale, I grabbed Learning 3D Modelling – The Complete Blender Creator Course. Sunday, we started the course and came away excited.

2016-01-18 - Blender1

Much like Learning to Draw, I have little prior experience. I’ve tried using Blender before but never got anywhere. The first section of the course focused on installing, configuring and understanding the basics of the software. It helped a lot to spend that time getting familiar with the interface.

2016-01-18 - Blender2

After dinner, we started working through Section 2. We didn’t finish the section but we made it past the mid-section quiz and completed our first major model, an airplane. We scanned an image search for wooden toy plane and located this one from Etsy.

2016-01-18 - Wooden Toy Airplane

Here’s my finished model in Blender. I’m pretty happy about it. It took a couple hours for me to build but I think it looks great. I’m meticulous in creating things and I hope it shows. This course will likely take me longer than I hoped.

2016-01-18 - Blender3

With the model completed, I transferred it over to my old laptop and ran it through Netfabb and Cura. And then I printed it on our LulzBot Mini! My first print of a model I created.

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane2

Now to start work on my Invincible Iron Man armor!

When we last left off, I came to the conclusion I wanted to run a pulp heroes campaign. Today, I’ll discuss refining that idea and some of the early preparation. I inserted a bit of lag time between when the campaign started and when I started writing these posts. I don’t want to reveal everything before we play. But I do want this series to be timely and relevant.

Settling on the pulp heroes idea, I started to sketch ideas about it at all times. First I wanted a more concrete concept. I honed in on Artifact Collection Agency. Warehouse 13 was one of my favorite shows.1 It took a bit to find it’s groove but promoting Claudia to the main cast helped a lot. Also, who can say no to Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade?

With Indiana Jones rattling in my mind, it felt right to set the campaign against a backdrop of World War 2. I wanted the war to be in progress but without the United States involved. That left a few year span between 1939 and 1941. I planned to set the game in 1940 but we ended up moving the start date to September 1941.

As we inch closer to my wedding in July, my available time to prepare and run a campaign will decrease. With that in mind I want to make sure I wrap up this story before then. I settled on an ending date around late-March/early-April. With no play during December because of holidays, playing fortnightly meant that I’d have about 7-8 sessions. I’d spend the first session setting up the plot and introducing the rules system. It didn’t seem like I’d have enough sessions to do a full three act structure. So I’ve divided the campaign into two books. One that happens in the United States and one that happens in Europe.

One particularly obvious lesson I learned from Time and Tide was about party cohesiveness.2 There should be conflict within the party at times. But there needs to be a strong bond that keeps the party together. A second lesson was making sure I help players unfamiliar with the rules to make good choices by spending time with them before kicking off the game. With those in mind, I scheduled a character creation session for the middle of December.

Given the concept and task, it made sense to make their employment the strong bond. The characters are capable individuals who function as a team and have a good working relationship. There would be an innate trust of each other. I settled on two possible employers, a museum or the military. Initially, I had settled on the museum, the Smithsonian. As we neared character creation, I swung towards the military option. But I left the answer to the players as part of character creation.

So, we have seven characters employed by an organization chasing artifacts with magical powers in World War 2. This was something I wanted to run and a story I wanted to tell with my friends. They agreed. So next time, I’ll talk about the character creation session and the characters that will be starring in this adventure.

  1. At DragonCon 2013, I missed the panel as the line wrapped around the hotel by the time I got there. In 2014, I managed to snag a spot and get to see the main cast. But about halfway through, I got a text informing me that if I hurried down to the basement, I could snag a picture with my best friend and Sir Patrick Stewart. Sorry WH13! 
  2. At some point, I’d like to write a series of articles on the campaign itself.