Thursday, October 18, 2012, 10:02 AM
The scream fades
All female groups are a myth, they don't really exist
The party is augmented by now-armed freed captives; the Lyle children guards are given orc studded leather armour. Wilbur reluctantly parts with two short bows, and five arrows apiece for the humans, Sonya and Liam. Macarn, the dwarf is offered one of the orc battle axes. Celine, the cooper, who is not trained is given a spear. Grenadine, Dironj, and Gregory realize their new companions won't be very robust in a fight, not even as likely to survive as Willow.
They head in quietly via the Dripping Blades orc entrance. There are shouts and pounding, and they see the stalwart backs of orcs in the banquet room. The plan is to attack all the closest orcs, and with them focussed on their injuries, Willow will cast her sleep spell. The initial attacks are, unfortunately, not successful. What with the chanting, and spear-butt pounding, and the focus on the deliciously ceremonial elf torture, most of the orcs don't even notice the missed attacks.
Those that are hit shout a warning. The closest orcs defend, others leave the room, and come around to attack from a different passage. The further orcs fade away down a distant passage, followed by the two orcs responsible for removing the tortured elf captive. The opportunity to cast sleep is lost as the orcs spread out.
The party is forced to a defensive retreat.
A rather fierce engagement with the orcs results in the Dripping Blade orc leader being taken captive, and his mates being killed. The party retreats up out of the ravine, frustrated.
The August playtest came out. Given that the party is in combat, we didn't use any of it this time.
Players are happy to see character creation.
Players are unhappy about the attacks of opportunity rules. They like very much moving up to and away from the foe ability. There is some discussion about taking the parts of the rules they want. More reading needed though. We'll discuss next time.
Wizard Willow's player is really unhappy about hit point loss.
...they don't really exist ---
Sunday, August 5, 2012, 9:35 PM
The captives, nothing but a myth --- all female groups are a myth, they don't really exist
Grenadine's player was unable to make it. A new woman joined us, and has taken over our Wilbur Fernleaf rogue character. She has played and DM'd D&D 3.5 and 4e. Women finding women really is a myth, as none of us had met her and vice versa. It is something of an adventure, our willingness to play with women we don't know. I think the lure of a play test with a definitive end point, and the idea of playing with an all women group is hard to pass up. We're all taking a risk playing with women we haven't played with before. Best way to live life, taking risks. all female groups don't really exist
We had a great time, as the party executed a snatch, successfully taking several captives from the orcs. I'm sad, as the orcs failed to snatch the wizard.
As they prepared to sneak in, Willow wrapped some small rocks in her “dainty things” to have something she could cast light on at the appropriate moment. As she stood on the slope above the orcs and their captives, she forgot that casting her spell could be clearly heard and seen by the orcs.
In the heat of the battle, Gregory attempts to free a dwarf whose feet are manacled. “Spread your legs” she tells him. The party burst into laughter as they realized they hadn't explained at all why that was necessary. She swung at the chain, and weakened the links, but it didn't break. Dironj grabbed the spear and battleax from a dead orc to hand to two manacled humans. She had time to smash the chain on one of them. The other in spite of repeated attempts could not break her companion's.
The orcs surround Willow and drag her into their cave. She calls for help to her companions, aware that she has been disagreeable to them, they might have no reason to assist her. She attempts to kick the orc in the nuts, but fails. She can't cast spells, she struggles to escape. Her companions do come to her aid.
Wilbur is not losing this brief opportunity and searches the orc bodies, and catches up as they head off into the night.
I had a conversation with a DM friend of mine in the U.S. We talked about the women's play test and how it is different. There is less competition for attention, it is easier for each player to develop their turn, there is a sense of supporting another players' actions. I'm hoping she'll be interested in trying to run a women's only game, maybe even the play test. all female groups are a myth She knows of a few women scattered in other games, perhaps separated by relationship barriers. I've encountered that too, and suggest she just reach out.
I'm enjoying that I can just invent rules and make decisions. No grapple rules, oh well, you and the orc are going to make opposed strength checks. You can't cast any spells, you can't make the necessary hand motions. You can attempt to escape by breaking free, or wriggling out of the orc's grasp. It is all intuitive, having played so many other D&D versions. And now a companion holds onto your belt so you aren't dragged away...
...they don't really exist ---
Sunday, July 29, 2012, 11:37 AM
The women's only --- all female groups are a myth, they don't really exist
The food was delicious, kale chips, fresh corn on the cob, lamb dishes. The cleric of Pelor, Gregory's player was absent, and Wilbur's player is away: The players played the rogue Wilbur Fernleaf and cleric Gregory Castlebright during the game.
We had a relaxed start as the players work out what to do with the two unconscious dwarf characters, Grenadine, and Dironj. Willow cast her sleep spell into the corner of the banquet room, three slowed down, and one fell asleep. Most annoying for me the DM, as it meant half the orcs in the next room over, were also affected by the sleep spell too.
They healed one, and dragged the other out to the cave entrance, so now they can only be attacked from one direction. Willow's light spell is most effective. Although the orcs are eager to kill Willow, they don't want to stay in the light, and they can't get past the other party members.
The Dripping Blades call out in excitment whenever they succeed in an attack against a party member. The excited successful orc yells and does a pelvic thrust. A few more arrive, and then more, but they are getting killed off; the party holds their own in the entrance. The orcs continue to attack, trying to get through to Willow Merriweather. Gregory passes Grenadine her potion of healing. Grenadine takes point to hold them off.
Back inside the cave the fire from the burning barrels and crates spreads and several more crates catch fire. Some orcs divert their attention from those at the cave entrance and focus on getting out, and putting the fire out.
Dironj misses her attack, her weapon locking with the orc's battleax. Their muscles strain, and then their hold breaks.
Wilbur's sling bolt misses and rattles against the stone to the ground.
The Dripping Blade spear launched past Grenadine, sails harmlessly past Willow.
Again and again, the spiritual hammer fails. Once it spins around the orc, Gregory is having difficulty controlling it. Finally he succeeds in hitting the orc, who falls lifeless to the floor.
The Orcs' furious charge succeeds only once, a glancing blow that only nicks Grenadine.
Finally they give up as they have succeeded only in piling up bodies at the entrance, and the fire in the banquet room is spreading.
The party is at half strength and with all spells used up, they retreat up into the forest, build a blind, and rest. They don't want the orcs to know how many they are, or whether they have other reinforcements. all female groups don't really exist The party wants to rescue the people who were in the caravan. They return at nightfall to watch the orc entrance. The rogue pleased with himself that he hides so well on the overhang above the cave entrance, and excited – things are not boring – does not notice everything that is going on. The others are holed up in the trees on the ravine slope. He does report back on the screams he hears inside, and a large party of orcs that leaves the cave. He waits and finally more creatures come out to build the wall. Willow takes his place to see if who they are as it is too dark for Wilbur to make them out, though some speak common, perhaps dwarf and halfling style of speech? Willow confirms there is a mix of people, though no elves. Four orcs guard them.
I have started playing in the play test with Simm my DM running it. I found the personality of all the characters in the women's only play test shone through as I decided which character to play. As usual our different DM styles show, I tend to encourage and incorporate back story. Simm sets the story and runs a much tighter game. We are interpreting some rules differently. I am making mistakes as I DM, errors in the map, errors in the rules. Good thing this is a play test evaluating how well different play styles work.
I really enjoy the opportunity to take this version of the game and use the checks rules as I need to, ignore them when I don't need them, and mostly to make decisions to run it with my approach. I do find the play test very open to giving me back the freedom and power to take the game where I want to, and I am growing into it. It is unlike D&D 4e where I had to fight the system to build a consistent story, and to make it stand up and come alive.
I was looking at the ENnie award candidates, and came across the Gaming as Women nomination for Best Blog. I was interested to read some of it and mentioned it to my players. They wanted the link.
There was also a commentary on the Gaming as Women site about how many women are involved in the various ENnie Award Nominations, and as with D&D generally and D&D Next too, there are virtually no women designers. This is problematic as I see it. There are game elements that we just don't find, and I don't know if they could be incorporated unless the designers are women. I don't know how well I could express, as requirements, those design mechanics that I want as a woman, to someone who isn't a woman.
Play style in the women's only game is different than in the other play test where I am the only woman. There is the common respect for the other players in both groups. It is hard to describe that difference. I think it is less authoritative, less competitive. My term for it is communal, there is greater sharing, a communal approach to decision making, concensus is used. Hmm rereading this, I realize that really doesn't describe it.
There was an article about stereotypes in gaming. One stereotype described is how female players are considered to join games because their significant other plays, and brings them to the game. It is not because of an interest of their own. My experience with women is that those who enjoy gaming stay with it. When I see in my gaming world the ratio of men to women, it seems reasonable that women would come to RPGs through their friends, and this would most often be men. I am running two play tests, and know of two others (one of which I am playing in). In these, we are reaching outside our normal community of players to run them. The women in them come to gaming in a variety of means, often through male connections – friends and family, more so than partners. That is one of the really empowering elements of running the women's only play test, we're coming together from women to women.
...they don't really exist --- the only woman
Thursday, July 19, 2012, 3:11 PM
Dripping Blade Orcs are a myth, they don't really exist once the women's party is done with them.
The food was delicious, with wonderful summer vegetables.
Brief recap of last game for the cleric of Pelor, Gregory's player who was absent last time.
Willow's player read her backstory so those who aren't sure what a backstory is can decide if they want to do one. A short discussion after about what helps trigger ideas for the backstory.
Gregory reiterates the need for the Book of Pelor – handy how Pelor espouses Gregory's views of the right thing to do.
Interestingly the party has again decided to play the missing player, the rogue. They make sure the tactics keep him alive while using his rogue abilities to good effect.
The party discusses best way down to the wall being built on the side of the ravine. A hex tile view of the ravine, quickly snapped together where the wall is, helps visualize next steps.
They take the route along the top and down the same path the orcs took, in the hopes of disturbing their surroundings less, and coming on the wall quietly. The wall is hiding a cave entrance. The two dwarves engage in a criticism of the inadequate wall construction techniques, materials and progress (thus accounting for their dreadful stealth rolls).
They enter, engage orcs, as they don't go unnoticed. They do notice the goblin head move on the wall of trophies. More hex tiles of the interior of the Dripping Blade Orc cave complex really make the attacks from several directions much easier to visualize.
The orcs fail their attacks several times when trying to use Furious Charge. all female groups are a myth
Willow's light spell works well, and is strategically placed to light up several passageways.
Grenadine holds off the orcs from the front guard room. Dironj holds down the ones in the banquet room.
Willow uses her burning hands spell to great effect, and succeeds also in lighting two crates on fire, and perhaps a table.
Gregory of Pelor uses his radiant light, and activates his spiritual hammer.
Wilbur successful attacks and sneak attacks.
The party dynamic was effective, they discussed best moves, delayed actions, enjoyed using the move before and after attack several times. They were conscious of not undoing each other's tactical advantage. Willow did not move the light so Wilbur the rogue was visible. The range attacks supported the defenders. The general focus was to deal with one threat before taking on the next, or at least limit the number of directions they could be attacked from. They are conscious not to get too separated.
The orcs attack from both guard rooms and the ambush from the banquet room are quite successful. Eight orcs are dead, three are injured, and four are unhurt by session end. The game ends on a cliff hanger, with both Grenadine and Dironj unconscious, the Furious Charge finally succeeded...they don't really exist
Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 9:50 AM
all female groups don't really exist – three players made it
The rogue and the priest couldn't make it to this game.
But the players decided to play all the characters to keep things going. We had a discussion at the beginning of the game about play style. I will incorporate backstory, and actions the players like to do into the game. Two of the players want to further develop their backstories. Willow the Wizard has provided me with some of her history. We discussed what types of things players like to do - combat, negotiate, barter, explore, spy. I left it open for them to bring back to me if they want to.
The party had a night of interrupted watches. Dironj the dwarf worked hard to get the party moving. Wilbur, the rogue snuck off to see what was moving on the ravine floor, couldn't make out anything, but was impossible to see.
The party couldn't see him, and decided to lower themselves down over the ravine edge. They would be out of sight when the gnolls they had seen climbing the ravine arrived. They wanted to avoid a fight, but they didn't want to lose Wilbur. They cleaned up the area around the ravine point, tied two hemp ropes together, looped them around an outcropping and lowered themselves over the side. Progress was uneven down the side. Occasionally one of them couldn't touch the ravine wall, and the climb slowed.
Gnolls snuck up past Wilbur, and he caught up with them at the ravine top. He dropped the lead gnoll with his sling shot and sneak attack. The gnolls took cover, and drew their bows. Wilbur fired another sling bullet and killed a second one. Wilbur hid amongst the rocky outcroppings. The two remaining gnolls fired and missed. Wilbur's sling shot killed the third as the fourth one drew its ax and attacked Wilbur biting into his torso. Wilbur drew his dagger and attacked around a large rock, he connected. Both of them bleeding, the gnoll hit Wilbur again over the top of the rock. Wilbur stabbed one last time, before he withdrew. Fortunately the gnoll was dead. Wilbur limped back into camp holding his side.
Willow heard the sound of arrows, and the party started back up the rope, except Dironj who held her ground. The party met at the top and healed Wilbur. They set up the dead goblin bodies as if they died in a fight with the gnolls at the top of the ravine. So far no one knew they were here. They rested enough to regain their spells.
*Simm, my DM: “all female groups are a myth, they don't really exist”
Monday, July 2, 2012, 7:45 PM
they don't really exist
The rogue couldn't make it to this game.
The party searched the two orc bodies that the dire rat was feeding on, and Grenadine (dwarf cleric knight) took the orc shortbow, soiled and ill kempt. She has a ranged weapon now. There was a short discussion about how to divide 2 sp between the five of them. Dironj is keeping it for the party, since she is deciding how to share out the rewards.
The party discovered that the trail split. They decided which way to go and arrived at the ravine. Good stealth rolls are a myth - They rolled consistently terribly. Grenadine rolled so badly she decided it must have been the noise she made cleaning the orc shortbow. The goblin patrol noticed them up on the ridge where they were camped out, and attacked them in the dark, where Grenadine on watch hadn't noticed them. It was disappointing how easily they took out the goblin patrol.
Today was the first game that really got into game mechanics other than checks, so we went over the character sheet details to make sure everything was understood.
Grenadine and Gregory (cleric of Pelor) used their heal spells but not the heal kit to heal during the short rests. They weren't comfortable continuing with only the heal kit option. Grenadine used her Defender feat, Dironj her Stonecunning and Reaper feat, Gregory his radiant light, Willow her burning hands and detect magic.
Lore, survival, knowledge of the creatures in the wilderness, the sage's knowledge, the fighter's knowledge, nature lore, heraldic and forbidden lore were all used. Lots of on the fly DM decisions about DC and what the best check would be. It was great not to be limited to a particular skill list.
We ran slow and checked rules so everyone was getting comfortable with their actions. The move before and after attack was generally very appreciated. Exploring the impact of advantage/disadvantage; its ease of use was also appreciated. The two in heavy armour used it in their stealth checks. The wizard used it for her perception checks. The goblins used it to attack the prone characters.
Willow, the elf wizard was awakened by Dironj, the dwarven fighter, to help figure out what she was hearing in the dark. Dironj couldn't understand everything that was being said. Willow grumbled after she checked twice and went back to bed; keen senses didn't help her rolls. Dironj was just making it all up, there was no sound out there at all. Good perception rolls are a myth too.
The players had forgotten their dice though, and were using DM dice, maybe that is why the rolls were so consistently bad. Perhaps it was just that Wilbur their rogue wasn't there.
all female groups are a myth -
There were several good communal discussions in character to decide on next steps. The last decision involved whether to attack the orc taskmasters in the dark, or whether to wait until daylight.
The food again was delicious, the group is shaping nicely, the roleplaying is good, players are getting a feel for their characters and party interaction. The players are enjoying the game.
*Simm, my DM: “all female groups are a myth, they don't really exist”
Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 4:18 PM
all female groups are a myth, Five players showed up for the first session.
We introduced ourselves over a potluck, cause none of us knew everyone else. Concensus was the food is much better in an all female party. The food was great.
Two players have 3.5 experience, and have played together. Two have 4e experience, and one is a new player. They enjoyed the session, and found that the D&D Next is much more open than 4e. You are able to do whatever you want to. There are more opportunities to use whatever you have and do what you want. One of the 3.5 players missed having the skill list on her character sheet, she is going to find a different way to develop her character's personality. They found the game went fast.
The players had fun selecting the characteristics of their characters. They noted there was nowhere to put age on their sheets. We ended up with three female and two male characters. Some players rolled their gender. Wilbur Fernleaf Rogue, Dironj Fighter, Willow Merriweather IV Wizard, Gregory Castlebright and Grenadine Clerics.
There was considerable roleplay, as the characters met each other and developed their personalities. The new player was a little taken aback by how much roleplay there was. It took a while to settle into being a party. I took them slowly through a start as the players didn't all know each other. They found their way into their characters as they went from market stall, to the tavern, back into the market, and finally on the road. Willow is enjoying being obnoxious, rude, and condescending. Wilbur is getting caught pickpocketing, and is shrugging it off as boredom. Gregory, the only good character in the party is enjoying pontificating. Grenadine is acting the knight, concerned for others' well-being. Dironj is on to Wilbur, and coming down on the side of right.
Dironj and Grenadine came into town together, they gathered the remainder of the party to them. Each player figured out their reason for joining the group – a lost abbot, boredom, to find the missing elf siblings. They came together nicely.
The high point was deciding whether to put the knight's horse to sleep and carry it into the bush. The party disappeared into the bush, and the game ended as Dironj took out a dire rat. they don't really exist
Thursday, June 7, 2012, 8:44 PM
they don't really exist
I'm starting to get deep into playtesting D&DNext. I'm fortunate to belong to a group of gamers who both DM and play, so I'm looking at being able to both run and play the playtest.
With D and D, I've played 4e, 3.5, AD&D, and DM'd 3.0 and 4e.
I decided to run an all women group through the playtest. I'm interested in seeing if there are differences from the usual mixed games I'm in. I also want to see the feedback that comes from an all woman group.
So I've been working at getting together a party of all women. When I played AD&D in the 80s, it was very close to half women (with up to 10 players), but I haven't reached that ratio much since then.
It isn't easy to find them. The guys I game with had really no suggestions. It was more remembering a group that had a woman in it, or someone who has a friend... Contacting them only to realize they weren't really interested in role playing.
Today, I'm really thrilled. I succeeded in finding four interested women, perhaps even five. I'm surprised how excited I am, partly because this is an idea sitting in the back of my mind for a long time now, and partly because it didn't look like it would come together.
all female groups are a myth
And there is a mysterious element to this all
*Simm, my DM: “all female groups are a myth, they don't really exist”