Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Which The Warlock's Plans are Put in Motion...

My lovely friends and neighbors...I'm out of ideas. I really don't know what to blog about this week.

Literally, it's been all quiet, here on the front lines of Dayton-area geekdom. I feel like we're just under the surface of a wonderous stew of glorious geeky goulash, ready to hit a rolling boil. With all of the planning for WittCon, FOPCon, and the rest of our annual circuit, preparation's been the name of the game.

As part of this, I decided to take on another game for WittCon. We had something of a D&D void in our schedule, so I decided to pick up my d20 and give it a go. As such, I have slot 1 set aside for "Orcs Gone Wild!"--a wonderous romp through Hamletshire, with the players as orcs, goblins, and kobolds rather than the usual elves and dwarves.

But, even bigger than's official: the WittKids are running events at Origins this year! We just finished up our schedule, sending it off to the GAMA organizers. On this year's docket?

Myself--"Survival of the Fittest" (Dark Heresy) and "WEGS Plume Mountain" (WEGS)
Lionel--"Zombie Park" and "Zombie Graveyard (d20 Modern)
Ebbs--"Ninja Nuttiness: Attack on the Shogun Castle" and "The Plague of Man/Song of Silence" (CthulhuTech)
Karl--"The Relics of Dark Lord Driscar" (Star Wars d20) and "Croaking Dragon, Hidden Tiger" (D&D 4e)
Jules--"Welcome to Zendik Farms" and "If Train A Leaves at Midnight" (Call of Cthulhu d20)

Keep your eyes peeled for the Origins Master Schedule, coming out this May, and come join us at 7 pm each night at Origins!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Which The Warlock Does Old Skool In a New Way...

For those of you that have been following my blog, you know very well the fondness I have for WEGS--El Willy's "Wickedly Errant Gaming System"--for its old school, 1st edition D&D feel. There's no bones about it: you throw your dice, you roll to hit, you kill the monsters and you take their stuff.

It's simple, it's quick, and it's fun. Easy as that.

So, when I spotted this little gem thanks to a post on, I was floored!

Icons by Steve Kenson

I've taken a look at Steve Kenson's work quite a few times, mainly through the products he's done with Green Ronin, and I was legitimately impressed. While I wasn't a fan of the Mutants and Masterminds system (it suffers from the same problems of most d20 products, in terms of rules bloat and excessive technicality), Kenson genuinely shows a great knowledge of the superhero genre.

And, while I love Heroes Unlimited and always will, it's not exactly a game that you can just throw together on a moment's notice. I've been working on characters for the HU game I'm running at WittCon, and it literally took me something in the neighborhood of 8-10 hours to generate the 6 player characters for the scenario. Thank Zombie Jeebus that I have them saved online! I can't imagine having to re-do those, each time I wanted to run the scenario!

But could this be the answer to my hopes, dreams, and desires? A superhero game that's easy to pick up, quick around the table, and still have enough depth to show off complex powers like Iron Man or Green Lantern? Mmmm...*drools*

Unfortunately, I'll have to wait for June on Icons, but it definitely looks like something I'll be picking up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which The Warlock Switches Gears...

With WittCon VII approaching, I had originally been hard at work on a Ravenloft scenario to run during the second session. "In Pursuit of Perfection" was going to be an interesting little romp through Paridon, in which the PCs would uncover some unsavory goings-on in the "Divinity of Mankind"--a pseudo-Freemason group devoted to perfection for all mankind.

Unfortunately, I hadn't exactly anticipated everyone else's offerings this time around. Kat's been high on a new indy game called "Houses of the Blooded", while a group that we met at FOPCon is bringing three sessions of "Fellowship of the White Star"--a game that, thematically, is pretty well identical to Ravenloft. All that on top of Jules' annual Call of Cthulhu game...

...well, I was out luck. I still wanted to run something, but we needed some genre differentiation!

So many options before me, I had some difficulty settling on something. I had thought about doing Clone Wars-era Star Wars game, but was immediately turned off by the d20 character generation, even with the assist from HeroForge. I was thinking about potentially running some Conan or Stargate SG-1, but in both cases...same problem. WEGS? Well, with El Willy planning to make an appearance, that's his domain! Dungeon Slam and SunnyVale Acres still need some work before another big playtest run...

As such, I was at a loss. What to run, what to run?

Ah, yes. My beloved Heroes Unlimited!

With the massive blizzard around us, I've had a few extra days off to work towards putting together a scenario I'm calling "The Near-Orbit Mass Driver Blues".

Five of six characters, complete with backgrounds, are already done with the outline still being put together. I'm excited about how they've all turned out, with some pretty unique power combinations:

Shadowman IX: The perfect corporate spy and master of shadow!

Dead Man Walker: A former Red Cross worker turned undead voodoo horror!

Rebuild: A master of robotics, complete with a bionic arsenal!

High Voltage: An NSA super-soldier and master of close combat!

Rebel Yell: An adorable Southern college student...with the powers of Sonic Manipulation!

and Pinpoint: A peerless archer and weaponsmith, capable of incredible feats of aim!

It'll be interesting to see how our heroes confront the difficulties of saving the former Soviet Republic of Kerplachistan from the horrors of the Ky'yrrr aliens! Can't hardly wait!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

In Which The Warlock Indulges His Villainous Side...

One of the greatest things about gaming, which I've always really enjoyed, has been the villains that have the heroes have faced down over the years. Whether behind the GM screen or in front of it, villains have always stolen the show for me. After all, how can you be heroic if you don't have a proper villain to face down?

I mean, I was always proud of guys like Jaegren Lern--the One Living Man--and the illithid mastermind of the Saltmarsh invasion, Xil'ti'Carn. These were creatures that the PCs could really get behind and genuinely hate. And that hate? It's a powerful motivator.

Fred, in his GMing debut, really hit home with his villainous portrayal a few campaigns ago. My old swordmage-artificer Unsere was absolutely paranoid about her boss, Kezar Uzariza, and the corporation he had at his disposal. Kezar always seemed to show up at the most inconvenient times, providing a constant threat of menace that she had to overcome. For a character who was, in essence, a pacifist (at least in terms of humanoids!), this made for high drama.

I've been pleased so far, in Chris II's game, with his portrayal of Nynerin--an NPC from Keep on the Shadowfell that normally would fall by the wayside. As a fellow Valenar, Cyrid absolutely loathes everything that Nynerin pulled, particularly leading numerous villagers into the deathtrap of the titular Keep.

D&D, more than any other game, has always had its classic villains. From the demilich Acererak, to Lord Strahd von Zarovich, to the death knight Lord Soth (a personal fave!), enemies abound!

And, y'know? That's really what drives the campaign.

When I was in Liverpool, studying abroad, my professor for "Chaucer's Narrative Verse" once said something incredibly insightful. He told us, as students, that at the root of all great literature is conflict. After all,
"what would King Lear be like if everyone just sat around saying 'Pass the Cornflakes'?

So tell me, oh devoted few? What are your favorite villains? What makes them so magnetic for you? And, if you're a gamer, how do you carry that into your games?