Friday, June 17, 2016

The Wargate Project Assessment Committee

Eye Mutant is here for YOU...
and will ALWAYS listen to your concerns.
Greetings, Gatekeepers!

We're back at the helm after our extended absence from the blog, but casual readers won't know what we've been up to.  What could possibly demand our attention so much that we neglect our blog?!  Blasphemers!

Well, I'd like to tell you about that today.  Of course, some things are still under wraps (and you won't even get a hint) but overall, the organization of the club has had a fundamental change in the last month.

We have begun a new initiative to engage our members and restore participation levels across the board.  Participation?  What,, no one's playing or what?

Would that it were so simple.

We've been droning on about the collective for a while now.  Now that the entire process is finished and we've seen the interesting dynamics the collective brings to the games, it's time to give more agency about things back to the players.  To that end, I have appointed a Project Assessment Committee from those members who are interested, motivated and invested in the Wargate.

The Committee has been given the resources and authority to aid the Project Coordinator with making decisions for the club.  This includes just about everything a club needs to have a stronger voice in to make the best moves.  From managing the budget, organizing Hobby Days and Events, dealing with member conflict resolution, and helping decide what games are on the table each season, the Committee itself is an important resource to the Wargate.

We have created a private forum for the members of the Committee to communicate easily throughout the week to resolve any issues between Game Days.  The Project Assessment Committee (PAC for short) also has access to the club's inner workings in the form of access to a Google Sheet that contains all the information from the club's spreadsheets that was previously only on the Wargate's computer, meaning they can access any and (almost) all relevant club information any time they desire.

There are currently ten members of the PAC, not including myself.  Some have special appointments and duties, others are voting members and contributors.  All of them have been critical to the club's existence in one way or another, before ever having been appointed to the PAC.  Now, they have the tools and authority to initiate projects, or vote to block them - whatever they believe is best for the club.

On Game Day this weekend, we will be conducting our first focus group survey in four years, the results of which will be posted after the surveys are collated and the information discussed by the Committee.  Afterwards, we'll have a clear plan for 2017 and going forward.  The PAC has already started planning for club events, and some are scheduled for later this year.

Thanks to everyone who's still around, and BIG thanks to the Project Assessment Committee for volunteering to listen to my crazy internet-based chatter while we plan the club's activities.  It's a good feeling to work together, and it makes me more confident that we now have a stronger voice for what the club itself wants.  2016 has been a resurgent year for us so far, and going forward I have no doubt that the PAC is going to be a critical component of our organization.

See you on Game Day!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Sessions 1, 2 & 3)

These sessions were originally recorded 05/01, 05/08, and 05/15/2016.

Greenest in Flames
As told by Hogan Savage, Professional Wrestler

"It's time to get down, brother!!

Here we were, minding our own business...when suddenly a ton of kobolds become a problem.  Turned out that the town we were coming into, Greenest, had a bit of a dragon problem, too.  Rough.

So I did what any respectable wrestler would do - I hid in the bushes until one of them came close enough for me to get.  After a few punts, and the others doing their work, we managed to get some of the frantic townsfolk to talk to us.  All they wanted to do was go to the keep.

We had to rough some fellas up who were trying to break in though a drain pipe.  Enough is enough, brother!  We took the important looking one to the ... magistrate, or whatever he was.

I tried to get them to see the light of Kord, brother...but they were worried about the dragon taking out their mill or something.  After some consideration (and some rest) we agreed to find out what was going on with the raiders - turns out, they were dragon-worshipping scumbags!

Now, everyone knows bad dragons have to go.  

Turns out some guy was kidnapped, and we had been charged with finding him.  I don't really remember his name, but he was some kinda monk.  Found some cultists in the woods, hid in the bushes again.  Some of the others stripped them and put on their silly gear - not THIS Kord-amaniac!  
We followed the directions the kobolds gave us after I applied the Iron Claw.  We were led to a small camp, and figured our guy was inside.  The ladies dressed me as a prisoner, and we got in.  Have to remember to let the ladies do the talking.

I sat with the prisoners until no one was looking, then snapped those silly chains.  Kord's the power, brother - you best get you some!  The ladies and the others wandered around the camp, and the cultists were too stupid to figure it out.  Eventually, they came back with our guy, the monk - and all the other prisoners and I began to climb out of the gully.

I didn't even get to test out my moonsault!"

Friday, May 13, 2016

No Oath, No Spell Chronicle Log

The Wargate Presents
No Oath, No Spell
A World of Darkness Chronicle
Season 1, 2016

Little beast, 
are you wild as me?
Left some teeth in your enemies...

We won't be broken,

there's no curse we haven't spoken...

There is no oath,

there is no spell...
to deliver us, to make us well...

- Murder by Death

Winter, 1875
Smokefall Ridge, The Indian Territory

Weeks have passed for our intrepid pioneers.  The Dread that hung over the settlements has been dispelled, and the horrific events in the town nearby have earned that place the moniker "Hell Bend".  No one goes out there anymore.

Now the land of the southern Territory are plagued by tales of supernatural outlaws and worse.  Strange incidents have definitely slacked off in frequency, but the tales of the place persist even in the larger world.  In Ft. Grant, people speak in hushed whispers of a whole town purged of devil worshipers.

Yet people ARE coming to Smokefall!  The tiny town has had a bit of a resurgence, and our characters have found themselves in important functionary positions.  Now that people are coming to Smokefall, another set of problems emerges.  All those people have to be dealt with and integrated into the community.

Even with more settlers helping, the crucible of the frontier is not done with the settlers.  Life is harsh, and there is competition.  Will Smokefall Ridge find a way to solidify itself as an incorporated entity?  If so, will the legacy of the settlers stand the test of time, or will the coming years blow away all the characters have built like so much dust in the wind?

No Oath, No Spell is a World of Darkness chronicle set in The Indian Territory.  This chronicle contains the final stories for Smokefall Ridge in our current arc.  This is exciting, as our first installment (The Rough Edge of Night) finished up over four years ago!

Smokefall Ridge and the final state we leave it in will have an effect on our other World of Darkness chronicles going forward.  We have begun to show how two of our settings in particular are interconnected, the Indian Territory and South-by-Southwest.  Dead Man's Hand this season will also affect Smokefall Ridge, so actions in both games this season could potentially affect characters, backgrounds and settings for years to come!  This chronicle, and this season in general, will be a legendary time in our World of Darkness.

Also, this is the first season of 2016, which means it's also the first of a new slew of four-month project seasons!  Bear that in mind, settlers - and good luck to you.  If you can make it, Smokefall Ridge will as well.

Current Player Characters
  • "Doc" Jameson
    • A man of science, looking for the truth.
  • Ignacio Madera
    • The sheriff of Smokefall Ridge and proprietor of Twin Pines Fine Horse Mall.
  • Don Juan Ortega
    • Mayor of the township of Smokefall Ridge, Don Juan is focused on the town's sustainability.
  • Rusty Shackleford
    • The former mountain man decided to give "civilization" a go and try his luck in the settlements.
  • Josephine Maxwell
    • A journalist sent to Smokefall to investigate the strange happenings, she intends to find a big story here in the Territory.
  • Jakey Wales
    • Life has changed a great deal for Jakey since coming to Smokefall.
  • Caleb Tinker
    • The town's gunsmith returns after a few weeks worth of introspection on the mountain.  Smokefall is looking pretty rough to him...
  • Arthur Littlehawk
    • A native hunter who lives at nearby Snake Valley, he recently befriended the folks at Smokefall Ridge.
  • Doctor Anya
    • An educated lady from back east, her medical skills have helped the settlement immensely.
  • Preacher
    • A new pastor has arrived to take over the services from Don Juan.
  • Johnny Chu
    • Smokefall gets it's first taste of Chinese cuisine from this immigrant cook.
Deceased Player Characters
  • None (Yet...)
Disbanded Player Characters
  • None (Yet...)

Chronicle Log
Total Game Time: 49 hrs

Life Outside
(01.03.16 to 01.31.16)
Total Session Time: 23 hrs

The characters make lives for themselves in Smokefall, and deal with the day to day dramas of life.
Your standard Western fare has occurred, and besides the bandits and hooliganry there are stranger things afoot.  The best part is that there is now a Chinese restaurant in Smokefall and people love it.

Stones in Dream, Stone in Wood
(02.21.16 to 04.24.16)
Total Session Time: 26 hrs

The woods and wilds around Smokefall begin to reveal a secret that could change the course of history for the Indian Territory.
It seems that the mystical strangeness of the Territory will continue unabated by man's interference.  Some sense of stability has come to Smokefall at last - but what new challenges does having so many...strange individuals in one place bring upon the intrepid pioneers?

Campaign Resolution

For the most part, the land has been preserved.  It will be so for the foreseeable future, as far as the residents of Smokefall Ridge are concerned.  The area once simply called "the settlements" is now being threatened with the very bane of the pioneer lifestyle - government regulation.

Yet the town is growning, even at a faster rate than the arguably better constructed (and prettier) Primrose.  Moreover, the mysterious Media Movement folk connected with Ms. Holmes and her peculiar friends bring a stability to the settlement that was never there before.  Several new businesses, funded by the City Council and the Media Movement, are erected and are prospering in the burgeoning trade of the Territory.

Progress has come to Smokefall Ridge.  It's set to become a trade hub of the region, superseding Andersen's Hill in that respect.  It's good for the town, but the Territory is still a dangerous area.  The characters in this chronicle have set the foundation for the future of the Southwest, but what threats will rear their ugly heads in the future?

In time, it will fall to other folks to step up and face those challenges - whatever they may be.  Though we do not know the exact ultimate fates of the player characters yet, the Smokefall Ridge City Council and Community Development Committee have the administration and development of their growing town to deal with.  They have been entered into the Honor Roll of the Wargate for their role in combating the powerful spiritual forces gathered in the Territory.  Undoubtedly, we will hear from them again - eventually learning what exactly becomes of them as time unfolds.

We cannot divine their fates just now, as we must look to the others who are yet to come that will make their mark on the coming world.  A world that waits more than a century away...and a great deal can happen in such a long span of time.

The Lodge of Dusk at Silver Lake, Near Smokefall Ridge
April 19th, 1878

The inside of the Lodge of Dusk was very impressive, especially to those who were unfamiliar with the ingenuity of the native tribes.  The strange, dark wood that made up the structure was something most people had never seen before...and it's origin wholly unknown.  Yet that was par for course here, as so many things took on qualities of the strange.  Such things as the low, slow drumming inside was like the sound of a pounding pulse inside your skull - it wasn't loud, but it could not be ignored.  The burning sage was there as well, cloying the senses in a manner that was wholly of the strange.

Lisa Holmes stood facing Five Stones and White Hawk.  The City Council was with her, as were the members of her cabal.  She held the child in her arms, and Jakey Wales stood beside her.  Still, her emotions were running rampant...and she struggled to maintain her calm.  Jakey put his hand on her shoulder to offer support, but she couldn't lift her gaze from her baby's face.  

Rosa Wales was almost 8 months old now, and what she was about to do was the most difficult thing she had ever faced.  The Mastigos of the Free Council who had faced down and tamed her own inner demons was gone.  Only the mother of the child was left, and she wept. Five Stones put his hands out over the altar.  She hesitated, then stepped forward and presented Rosa to the shaman.  

The atmosphere among those gathered was tense, but hopeful. The werewolf stepped forward from the darkness of the shadowed recesses.  Though she showed her war-form to the onlookers, the Lunacy did not affect them.  Her fur was a soft brown, and she was adorned with shamanic vestments and spirit charms.  Her staff, dangling with mystic seals and medicine stones, clanked on the hard dark wood of the floor. The mage and the shaman looked up at her.  She acknowledged them softly.  

Lisa and Five Stones faced one another across the square podium of the altar, and the werewolf took her place on the east side.  "Protector, " the female wolf said, her voice surprisingly motherly and soft, "take your place."  Mongwau the shaman stepped from the gathering to stand on the empty side opposite the wolf.

"It is an honor, Onowa."  he said, reverently.  "Let us begin."

The wolf, Onowa, shook her hand over the child held by Five Stones over the altar.  She began to speak the tongue of the spirits, reminding them of the pacts she had made with them.  Then, it began to appear.

It was a wispy thing, thin and gaunt.  It was made as of smoke, and curled from the burning sage smoke hanging in the air.  It reached out and began to coil around baby Rosa.  Lisa began to waver, but Jakey was there to hold her.  She did look at him this time, and his eyes told her to trust in him.

A second spirit appeared.  It wound it's way down like the other, and seemed similar yet had a different quality of light to it, eerily a smoky purple unlike the other.  It began to do the same, and as it did, the other spirit lifted away from the child to coil around the head of Onowa.  It made a lazy, coiling smoke ring above her head.  In a few moments, the other spirit followed suit.

The smoke coiled together, and the other shamans moved away from the altar, with Five Stones stepping straight back a step holding Rosa to his chest.  The wolf motioned to the altar, and commanded the spirit to appear and speak it's truth.  The two spirits made one, vaguely in the shape of a human upper body, in the space above the altar's burning sage.  When it spoke, a mouth opened to reveal the purple-lit smoke.  The voice that issued forth was a horrifying, rasping whisper.

"tHiS - cHiLd - - iS-oF - - - uRaThA - - -"

Lisa gasped, and many of the natives seemed to exchange nervous glances.

"tHiS - cHiLd - - wIlL nEvEr sLeEp - - -"

The spirit faded away.

Lisa looked at the ground, resigned.  Jakey looked at Five Stones, and they nodded to one another.  They had already made the agreement, and it stood.

"It is settled, then!" came a commanding voice, breaking the tense silence.  Bullet Braids stepped forward from the crowd and raised his hands to gather the attention of the gathering.  "The child is one of us.  She will go with Onowa."

He walked to Lisa and the Council.  The cabal also drew in closer, eager to hear what he had to say.

"As for you, willworkers..." Bullet Braids continued, lowering his voice as he approached.  "Now...and only now...will we speak towards what you ask of us.  The child will be safe with the Hunters in Darkness, and you have shown us you know of our ways...and what Mother Luna asks of us.  We believe we have seen the only way forward."

Bullet Braids stared at the Council with a scrutiny of one sizing up one's own allies instead of one sizing up how to destroy his enemy.  It was an odd sensation to those who had encountered him before.  "Come, " he said, "let us complete our pact, and speak of the seasons yet to come." 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hoard of the Dragon Queen Campaign Open!

"This is my treasure pile.  There are many like it, but this one is mine."
Welcome back to the Sword Coast, intrepid adventurers!  This season we begin with the first published adventure for Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition - Hoard of the Dragon Queen!  It's time to get down and dirty with the Cult of the Dragon, but please be advised that this season will contain spoilers for the adventure, so if you haven't played it yet you may wish to avoid the RPG Campaign Updates.

However, if you've already played it (or don't intend to, or intend on running it) then you will be amused at the ridiculous antics of our ridiculous player characters.  Serious / Not Serious play is where we live, so expect over the top characters and equally ridiculous reactions to events in game.  Our Dungeon Master is no less than the Reverend Greg, and he's been preparing for 5th Edition since launch and has already ran an awesome campaign last year based on the Basic Set.  We got 55.5 hours of play time just with the introductory box set and a Player's Handbook!

The shared experience of these adventures is what's going to make them classics, almost instantly.  I'm really looking forward to this, and we even have a few new players this season as well.  This shows how anticipated the new game is, and the strength of the new line to draw in players who have never played an RPG before.

All our campaigns this season share the same setting, as we've "nested" them together to create a stronger narrative.  This is another important aspect of the draw, and helps spread enthusiasm to other game lines.  Our version of the Sword Coast will definitely be changed, and we'll catalog all such new additions at the end of the campaign as normal so there will be a reference guide for any such changes.

 As I've already mentioned, I personally am super-stoked about being able to play this campaign as a player.  Big thanks to Reverend Greg, who's devoted his time to preparing and running the game and committed to running the season's game for four months.  To our new players:  we're so happy you've decided to join us!

Game Day this week will be in overdrive, as we've got some catching up to do from last week.  Our internal meeting took up too much time last Sunday...but that's ok.  A small backlog will help us avoid the "we're caught up" blues and give your wizards, dragons and professional wrestlers a good reason to try to kill each other.

Just remember - it's not the size of the wrestler that counts, wait, that's not true.  The size of the wrestler does count, so stack all the bonuses you can find and get ready to do battle with the followers of Tiamat.  For our characters, an interesting career opportunity emerges from the strife of the Sword Coast.

It's not every day the gods give you a dragon to wrestle. So just accept it, and know that no matter what happens it is a feat of strength that will surely garner the attention of the gods themselves.  When the hits go down, you better be ready - or you'll get bodyslammed.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Dead Man's Hand Campaign Log

The Wargate Presents
The Return of Pablo Strange
A Dead Man's Hand Campaign
Season 1, 2016

Winter, 1875

Near Smokefall Ridge, The Indian Territory

They say that a few months ago, the renowned bandito Pablo Strange was killed in Smokefall Ridge.  They say he rose from the dead, and had to be put down again.  The people that live in that forsaken place are notorious for burning the bodies of those that die 'unnatural' deaths, so when tales of the scoundrel still living (and killing) began to surface, Marshal Seth Barclay at Ft. Grant took it seriously.

It didn't take long to confirm that a band of vicious outlaws was plaguing the settlements north of the Red River.  Tales of horror began to drift back to Ft. Grant, and the Marshal took action.  Now, a band of Lawmen stalk the Banditos and Outlaws of the Territory.  Along the way, they'll have help from the brave locals who can no longer stand the depredations of Pablo Strange and his band of murdering thieves.

However, the Territory itself holds horrors most folks can't fathom.  A feeling of dread permeates the air...and the hunters may soon become the hunted if the stories of the bandit leader's supernatural resilience prove true.  Perhaps through sheer tenacity and grit, the evildoers will be brought to heel - or will darkness once again hold sway over the Territory?

The Return of Pablo Strange is a Dead Man's Hand campaign based in the Indian Territory.  Each campaign game will involve either the Lawmen or the Cowboys versus either the Banditos or Outlaws.  In addition, Desperados are present that can take on either band.

Each player will maintain a roster and play proceeds as outlined in The Legend of Dead Man's Hand rulebook.  Players can pick and choose a 3-act scenario, all the rules for which are detailed in said volume.  Model overlap can occur between gangs of the same alignment, but players can also share a team.  Gangs can fight as many times as they like during one day as long as the same player does not play twice consecutively.

Each month, there will be one day of bonus scenarios centered on the...stranger...aspects of the setting known as the Territory.  These will be linked directly to our ongoing World of Darkness game regarding the exploits of the settlers at Smokefall Ridge...for this campaign may directly affect them personally!  These will be announced just prior to the event day to account for shifts in the setting.

The campaign will continue until the end of Season 1, and the gang with the highest rep wins.  Add the total of any retired gangs of the same type with 31 or more Rep to this total.

Campaign Updates
  1. The Good, The Lead and The Ugly (01.24.16)
    • The gang of Pablo Strange gets the drop on a marshal sent to find their hideout.  He found it, to his short-lived chagrin.
    • Closing in on the gang, a posse of Lawmen attack the Banditos near their hovel in the Territory.  There are few survivors to return to Ft. Grant.
    • Feeling that something is up, the Strange gang is waiting for the Lawmen when they return...and the Lawmen suffer another harsh defeat.
  2. Red Earth Bandits (02.01.16 to 04.03.16)
    • Pablo intensifies his reign of terror as few can face his wrath and survive.


The Dread has lifted from the Territory, mitigating the threat of the supernatural hazards of the area.  However, as the spirits fade into the Shadow...crooks, charlatans and outlaws invade the Territory.  Now, the threat is human nature and desperation.  Perhaps the legend of Pablo Strange is special because it's the synthesis of both of the most devastating threats, mundane and mystical, to plague the people who've tried to make this place their home.

People often see him wandering the lonely trails at night, and sometimes in broad daylight.  They say he's now a skeletal spectre of an hombre from hell.  His eyeless skull is obviously no longer alive, but with eyes that burn with a green balefire.  They say his pistols don't fire bullets, but gouts of that hellish flame.  And they say he still keeps up his old trade, brigandry and robbery.

There are new tales of his terror every year.  Some hapless traveler, or farmer who strayed too far from the settlements, run across him and somehow live to tell the tale.  Despite the strife the the Dread and all that followed it being over, people still live here who very vividly remember it.  The spectre of Pablo Strange is a reminder of that dark time that still haunts the Territory, a vessel of boundless Dread that wanders lonely wilds.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Tyranny of Dragons II Campaign Open!

"Don't you dare make a Skittles joke, worm."
A while back we started working on our scheduling system to fit in all the games we wanted to during the season.  Well, not all the games - we can't do that.  It's impossible, so we make compromises.  We can manage two per season, and we feel that's pretty good.

Now the day is split into two wargame sections prior to RPG's in the evening.  At noon, we start Frostgrave!  The later part of the afternoon is now devoted to the Attack Wing campaign!  Pitch in and help your team (Good vs. Evil, naturally) win!

Tyranny of Dragons II is the first of our organized team play campaigns.  These campaigns are designed to allow anyone in the club to play, just by walking up to the table.  Attack Wing is really good in this role, as the cards and counters conveniently track all the rules for you.  

That's not all that makes this campaign season awesome!  We'll be running an all day Campaign Day event, and there will be public campaign battles as well!  We'll keep you posted on public event information, including venues and registration fees.  Prize support?  Let's generate it!

Lots of cool stuff coming up this season, but we have to keep a lid on it for now.  Expect a few big announcements in the coming weeks.  See you on Game Day!