The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part VI

Last weekend (the second of two back to back long weekends in Quebec) I returned to update everyone on the gaming projector project. As you saw, I had most of the ceiling beams up and in place.

I took a third long weekend (so much for my vacation bank) to spend more time with the family, accomplish some on more work on this project and to help a friend with renovations. Due to a nasty bout of rain, the renovations were delayed, which meant that I celebrated my 100th day of marriage with my wife (instead of renovating at a friends) and finished even more on the beams. As you’ll see in the next photo, the beams are essentially done (thanks to help from my wife on Friday), and the gaming room is cleaned up a little bit. Today (Sunday) I even found my wife’s preferred set of dice while cleaning!

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In this second photo, you get a sense of my new projector and mirror mount. The mounting support is a steel pipe, spray painted with a hammered black finish. I think that it will work just fine once the mirror and projector are tweaked. Until then, the single point of connection that the pipe gives, is a little less stable than the old I-Beam rail design, so the image is a little off.

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Left to do:

  • I need to wire in two more speaker outlets
  • Purchase Speakers and an Amplifier
  • Mount the Speakers
  • Trim the chain on the mirror (it holds it on an angle)
  • Finish the LED strips
  • Finish off the moulding in the rest of the ceiling
  • Photograph the entire setup
  • PLAY ON ROLL20.NET!

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part V

Overhead Beams

So it has been nearly a year since my prior entry in this series (Part VI on July 5th, 2015). Since then I’ve begun a few changes in the gaming room, some aesthetic and some for function. Suffice to say, we have moved forward from the version of the projector that you see here.

The Mirror

When we installed the gyproc/sheetrock in this room we only had a vague idea of what we were doing, and frankly we were not too careful. A few years of staring at bad joints drove us to do something about it. From the start I knew that I wanted to have ‘faux beams’ in the room, and that they would cover some of the mistakes. My wife also suggested that we wall paper the ceiling (which we also did in our Front porch), which would further conceal our mistakes.

This resulted in some work in June, 2016. My wife chose the pattern, and then the Brother-In-Law and I put up some wallpaper, which I painted later on. A couple of weeks after that, I built a framework from pine boards (and homemade MDF brackets) that I anchored to the ceiling. You can see what that starts to look like here.

Open Beams

This led to a series of conversations about wiring in speakers, USB, HDMI and several other types of cable, for future proofing. Since I do this frequently for my day job (I work in Technology), it was only a matter of time and budget. Now, on Canada Day weekend, 2016, we made a little headway in between my wife’s return to work from Maternity leave. As you can see in the following picture, most of the wiring has been run (for 7.1 surround sound focused on the gaming table), HDMI for the projector and a new projector mounting system. Entry IV (to come) in this series will cover the wiring in a bit more detail as well as the projector setup.

Overhead Beams

Youtube Gaming

Over the past few years I’ve been following a few RPG Youtube channels. In the past I’ve given a shout out to The Gentleman Gamer for his wonderful Vampire the Masquerade videos but today I want to direct your attention to two D&D focused games:

CRITICAL ROLE

Most famous catch phrase: “How do you want to do this?”

The official statement – “Voice actor Matthew Mercer leads a group of fellow voice actors on epic Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. These familiar voices bring the audience into the full experience of D&D, allowing imaginations to soar as the characters embark on adventures. This is Critical Role!”

My statement – “D&D played with a certain level of seriousness and silliness in equal mix.”

My favorite moment: When Wil Wheaton guest starred.

All Episodes of Critical Role

ACQUISITIONS INCORPORATED

Most famous catch phrase: “GREEN FLAME!”

The official statement – “A collaboration between Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast, the series was originally created to showcase the then-new 4th Edition of D&D, but soon evolved into something of an improvisational Comic Fantasy thanks to the fun dynamics between the players and excellent Dungeon Mastering by the WOTC producer Chris Perkins.”

My statement – “D&D, played about as foolishly (yet entertainingly) as it gets!”

My favorite moment: Aeofel (played by Wil Wheaton) and the Acid Pit

(Almost) All Episodes of Acquisitions Inc.

 

“Homework”

Over my years running RPG’s I’ve encountered a number of reactions to the concept of Player “Homework”. Wait, what is that? What is “Homework” in an RPG?? That varies a little bit from game to game. It could be;

  • having a concept of what the game is about or at least asking. (IE: If you’re playing a Super Hero game based on Batman, you know that he sometimes fights Villains like the Joker.)
  • being familiar enough with the rules to not be a hindrance to the rest of the group.  (IE: You have read the sections that pertain to your character.)
  • drawing your character, writing their history/background, finding a prop that you can bring to the game that reflects your character. (IE: You have decided that your character always wears a fedora, so you find a cheap one at the thrift store and you wear it when playing.)

Why do I consider a willingness to do some, if not all of these things (within your own ability and budget) reasonable? I’ll use some pretty basic examples drawn from everyday life.

  • If you were invited to a friends house for a formal meal with people you don’t know, would you ask “What could I bring, or what should I wear?”
  • You are going camping with your friends next month, but you don’t have a tent or a clue about where to get one. Do you wait until you get to the campsite to say something and depend on using what the others brought?
  • You likely made holiday cards for your parents when you were a kid. They loved them despite the fact that they were made by a 7 year old with no budget. They likely still have some of them saved in a shoe box! It was the thought and effort that mattered to them, not your artistic skill.

Okay, so now you want to know why is this coming up?

Someone recently said to me “I don’t need to know the rules, it’s too much to understand. I have better things to do than to read the rules.” and to an extent I can understand that. Yet I can’t help but wonder if these rules are too much for them, why don’t they try an easier game.

 

 

Pathfinder to 5E Test

From Feb 8th:

Yesterday I took a little time to due a fairly extensive conversion of our Pathfinder PCs to Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragon PCs. I’m posting this now for you to check out.

From Feb 7th:

I’m going to do a little overview of the main changes and conversion issues on our Pathfinder to D&D 5E PCs. I’ll list them in order of least changed to most:

Halfling Draconic Sorcerer

Impression: This was nearly a one to one conversion, without much guesswork

  • Minor differences in spells
  • Gained 4 hit points
  • AC improved

Half-Elf Ranger/Rogue

Impression: I focused on the judicious use of Two Weapon Fighting and Sneak Attack for a deadly warrior

  • Combat Effectiveness has improved dramatically
  • Kukri’s are now just ‘Daggers’ so the Crit range is reduced
  • Armour changes were required (Hide to Studded Leather) in order to use the max Dex bonus
  • She is a skill Monster due to the two classes
  • She gains spells (essentially a Root and a Mark)

Human Healing Cleric

Impression: This is where I began to see notable change. Channeling is weaker in 5th Edition and our Cleric uses it a lot. He is less of a one trick pony. 

  • The number of Healing spells and abilities is reduced.
  • The Cleric has become a Battle Caster
  • His AC is the second highest in the group
  • His Wisdom is higher, making his spells harder to resist
  • He now has unlimited Damage Cantrips
  • The ability for PCs to take a short rest makes up for his reduced healing.

Halfling Bard

Impression: The Bard is different and yet the same. Much like the Cleric, the Bard is more varied in 5th than in Pathfinder. 

  • Her skills are better overall
  • Her spells are vastly improved
  • She strikes with her Bow as often as the Rogue or the Tank
  • In all, she is more versatile, yet easier to play

Gnome Barbarian / Fighter

Impression: This was the most difficult conversion. The player had chosen a non-optimized build in order to fit a Role-playing story. The PC changed in the conversion in order to preserve the story and intent in comparison to a direct “numbers” translation. 

  • First off, Barbarian 2 / Fighter 2 became Fighter 4 (Eldritch Knight) in 5E
  • We ported the stats over directly instead of rebuilding using the Gnome mods in 5E
  • Originally the player wanted to eventually turn the Barbarian / Fighter into a Barb/Fighter/Sorcerer, this became a Fighter 4 (Eldritch Knight)
  • She lost skills
  • Gained spellcasting
  • Armour Class stayed comparable.
  • Lost 5% of hitpoints

 

 

Prayer in Fantasy Games

This morning’s post pertains to my Pathfinder and Dungeon and Dragons’ games.

In both Golarion and in Faerûn (the worlds in which the games take place respectively), Gods are decidedly ‘Greek’ in nature. No, I’m not suggesting that they make a tasty souvlaki (though they likely do!), but I am suggesting that they take a direct interest in the lives of their followers. One of the most common examples is that of Heracles, who is repeatedly aided by his father (Zeus) and other gods who wish his fathers favor. 

Similarly, these gods each represent a specific field of life/the world. They effectively carry a portfolio of responsibility or care that is under their purview.  Events that touch on that field garner more of their attention. A prayer said to Vulcan by a Blacksmith as he forges a sword will draw Vulcan’s attention, as this is within his portfolio of interest. Likewise, events that occur outside their purview are understood to be of a greater concern to another deity and beyond their interest. A Blacksmith who offers a prayer to Neptune before a sea voyage is unlikely to anger Vulcan as the Sea is outside of Vulcan’s interest. Neptune is also less likely to pay heed to the prayer, though he may, as it was offered by a Blacksmith (who normally ignores Neptune) as opposed to a Ship’s Captain who often prays to him.

In the scope of our games, this extends even further to the Clergy (Clerics, Paladins, Priests) of the gods. They are obviously afforded more of their Gods’ attention, such as the ability to channel spells and spell like powers. Toward the end of the 90’s when I gamed with my high school friends, I had begun to use a mechanism which brought the “Hand of the gods” into moments of critical gaming.

I shall take a quick moment to explain my reason for wanting to include this rather upsetting mechanic into our games, and why I’m bringing it back. One of the many ways for both the Dungeon Master and the Players to bring additional depth into our Role-Paying  games, is by including elements of the game/story world. In our D&D games of the 90’s, I found that we were very heavy on combat and lighter on role-playing. I wanted to change this, but I was unsure of how to encourage or meaningfully reward my players who went the extra mile to ‘Offer a prayer to the God Mask, Deity of Lies, before bluffing the Captain of the City Guard.’

Situations like these, and the fortuitous publishing of Faiths & Avatars by TSR, lead me to this framework. I’ll use some simple numbers as a guideline, though I never held myself strongly to any one formula. It was judiciously applied from a context of; “Does this make sense?”, and “Does this move the storyline forward?”, and “Does it seem like this player is always asking for his god’s help for simple things, because if he is that would annoy the god!”.

When a player calls out for a specific Deity’s aid use the following to determine whether the Deity responds:

Pick the ONE that best fits

  • Base Chance 1%
  • If the requester is Clergy [ 2% ]
  • If the requester is a follower of the Deity [ 3% ]
  • If the requester is Clergy of that Deity [ 5% ]

ADD the following to that number

  • +1% for each other PC who sincerely helps with the pray
  • +1% for every 5 NPCs who sincerely help with the pray

Multipliers, which stack;

  • The request is game changing (5th level spell) [ x0.25 ]
  • The requester has ‘SPAM’d’ the Deity recently [ x0.5 ]
  • Was the wording of the request poorly worded [ x0.5 ]
  • The request is moderate (3rd level spell) [ x1 ]
  • Was the wording of the request convincing and an offering made? [ x2 ]
  • The request is minor (1st level spell)[ x2]
  • Does the requester have a Skill/Knowledge in Religion [ x2 ]
  • Does the request involves the Deity’s portfolio [ x4 ]

To the Metagamers reading this, Yes I am aware that if you manage to arrange the most favorable conditions a member of the Clergy (Priest, Paladin or Cleric), who is knowledgeable in religion, could have his 4 companions convincingly pray to his own Deity for minor help with a matter that pertains to his Deity’s Portfolio could garner a 288% chance to have his Deity’s him, or even 36% for a game changing request!

Gods in fantasy literature listen to the prayers of their followers.

FOOTNOTE: The Gods are fickle, just like a DM who feels that the mechanics are abused. 

 

Preparation

Un-prepared

In a game like D&D/Pathfinder, or even in Vampire I never expect the players to know every rule by heart. Hell I don’t know every rule/revision/situational modifier and I’ve been playing some of these games for over a decade.

As it’s 2015, and everyone I game with has the internet,  I do expect that my players have attempted to read the description of their Character Class/Clan/Race/Archtype, and are familiar with it’s base/core abilities. This extends to a spell book if you pick a character that has one.

To facilitate this I even offer/provide PDF copies or direct web links of the rules/material needed.

If they didn’t understand it, or they have questions, or they misunderstood a portion, that can be okay.  They tried.

When a player is asked to review something for there character, but they just didn’t bother doing it, and then they hold up everyone at the table for 30+ minutes without caring that isn’t okay.

Asking nicely isn’t working.

Sending reminders isn’t working.

Next is just moving on with the session while they figure it out.

Lastly will be the “This isn’t working out” talk.

This sucks